Cardsmith Blog

How Can I Play Test This?

How Can I Play Test This?

We've all done it at one point or another. We go through the long process of making a card. We come up with an idea, we find the perfect piece of art, we put it all together with all the best intentions and then we finally, after about an hour of deliberations with ourselves, finally... hit Publish.

It usually isn't until this point that we start to think: Is this too complex? Did I cost this too high or too low? What kind of problems will this card create? Does it work as I imagined? Well the best way we know to find these answers is PLAY TESTING!

"But Corwinnn & Tomigon, how can we accomplish this play testing of which you speak?"

We're glad you asked... We sat down and put together a little tutorial for you, to help you make proxies and play test your custom cards in real life, so let's get started!

What you'll need:

Color Printer. White Paper. Cutting Mat. Ruler and a Razor Knife (Or Scissors). Spray Glue (optional). Extra Commons and Rules Cards. Card Sleeves.

Make a list or set containing all the cards you want to print.
Open up the full view of each of your selected cards.
Save the image or copy and paste into a document or image editing program.
Resize each card image to 3.48"x2.49" or 63mm x 88mm.
If you use A4 paper or 8 & 1/2" by 11" paper, you can print 9 cards. Some people like thick card stock paper, but I think for our example just regular paper is good enough.

Cutter knife, cutting mat, and ruler are what you need if you want ultimate precision, If you're just looking to put your card in a sleeve, then a little patience and a pair of scissors will do the trick.

Just a small amount of glue is enough to keep your printed card attached to it's new backer. If you prefer not to use any glue, that's fine as well.

Make sure that you're not using cards you ever want to use again before taking this step! I suggest not gluing any cards at first, until they've been play tested enough that you feel they have become dialed in.

Now your cards are ready to be shuffled into your deck! The cards will feel slightly thicker than normal cards, but you won't realize the difference when you play! If you didn't glue your cards together, just slide them into a sleeve together, and it will create the same effect

Playing with your own custom cards is super fun! We recommend you mix your custom cards into real decks so you can get a feel for the way your customs interact with real MTG cards.

Tomigon feels that limited is the first format we should keep in mind when designing cards, while I have always designed with vintage in mind so the best way to play is probably going to be different for everyone. Playing solo, playing one on one or even playing with a group of friends will, in our estimation, be so much more fun with the addition of custom card play testing. Tomigon's favorite way to use custom cards? Cube draft with his friends!

"You can test your custom cards with many cards, and sometimes you'll find unexpected synergies!" -Tomigon

Also check out Custom Tokens

One of our favorite Cardsmiths over the years has got to be Damnation. He carefully designs his cards around amazing, out of the box artwork and is always looking for, and giving out, advice on card design. Take a few minutes to check out this incredible Cardsmith!

Orzhova is another incredibly talented Cardsmith that we've long admired. Orzhova puts a great deal of effort into, not just the design, but the flavor text s well, so check out the cards designed by our second Featured Cardsmith of July!

Each month we're excited to highlight a few Cardsmiths that have helped make MTGCardsmith the best interactive online Card Creator. We hope you'll take some time to check out their creations!

Jul 01, 2019 by Corwinnn, & Tomigon

CCC: Oathbreaker

We're excited to continue Coast to Coast Casual (CCC), a blog series written by East2West, published on MTG Cardsmith.

I'm in my local game store, it's 2009 and I'm just starting to understand the game of Magic. It's FNM and I'm running a deck that I thought was an amazing Black midrange build. I didn't have any understanding of what a format was and so I had wandered my way into the Modern format that night. Playing that deck, whose win condition was a single copy of Hellcarver Demon, against actual modern decks was like swinging a rolled up newspaper at a dragon. I got lucky though, the people I was playing against were nice to me and through one dumb luck win and one guy having to leave in the middle of our game I ended up winning a two packs. I was handed a pack of Worldwake and one of Rise of the Eldrazi. I opened them and quickly removed the rare, putting them facedown on the table (This was just how I opened packs back then.) With a quick flip followed by an immediate freak out I'd found my first Planeswalker. That's right, the most powerful card in the format, Sarkhan the Mad! Sarkhan would quickly become a staple of my trade binder, where he has remained for the past 10 years. When I first opened him I thought he was great before quickly being corrected in practice. And so he was banished from my decks always on the back of my mind for being the first walker I ever opened. Fast forward. It's 2019 and I'm on twitter, someone has just retweeted a tweet from a charity called Magikids. They're talking about a new format, something called Oathbreaker. I go down the rabbit hole and find a new format, one that seems original, fun, and incredibly interesting. I can hear Sarkhan cheering from my trade binder.

Oathbreaker is a format similar to EDH with a few key differences. Life totals start at 20, decks are singleton but only 60 cards, your commander must be a planeswalker (and not just the ones that can already be commanders), and most interestingly, a signature spell. This spell, specifically an instant or sorcery, exists in your command zone with your commander and can only be cast while your commander is on the battlefield. The spell gains commander tax and returns to the command zone once cast. This creates a new level to game play since the spell is public information. The command tax on the spell is also super smart, making what would otherwise be snap picks like Lightning Bolt or Path to Exile into bad signature spells. Here's a link to the website for the format since I'm not here to just go over the rules and intricacies. While you're over there consider looking into and donating to Weirdcards, the charity that created this format.

When going through my binder to find playables for Oathbreaker I realized something. See there's an infinite etb trigger combo I've had for maybe a year that I haven't really found a home for, that is until I saw my Xenagos. Now this janky combo is the win condition in a deck that I'm proud to say is perfectly playable. So please allow me to present to you alongside Sarkhan his best bud Xenagos.

Sarkhan Decklist

Let's start with Sarkhan, the direction I went here is a sort of Dragon Tribal and Aristocrat Hybrid. Since Sarkhan won't be on the battlefield long due to his minus abilities and other players wanting to deal with him we have to get that value quick. To this end there's two strategies to try out here. We have some fast mana in the form of Dark Ritual, Pyretic Ritual, Seething Song, and a few others, we play these to possibly power out some dragons in the early game. This will let Sarkhan minus 4 himself upon entering and deal a whole bunch of damage. We also run small creatures with self recursion or death triggers, allowing Sarkhan's minus 2 to give us fuel for an eventual -4. Other than Sarkhan himself we have the signature spell of Crux of Fate. This works almost exclusively in our favor, killing our death trigger and recurring creatures while leaving our dragons alive to swing in without any obstructions. The biggest problem I've found with the deck is that it's not rare to end up with too many high cost cards in hand, don't worry though, this is where politics can save you. Oathbreaker being multiplayer means you can strike a deal if this happens. Still though, Sarkhan the Mad is a fine deck and a good use of the man himself.

Xenagos Decklist

Next up is Xenagos and my janky combo. The way the combo works is as follows; with a Panharmonicon and any enters the battlefield payoff on board (such as Altar of the Brood or Impact Tremors) cast Burning-Tree Emissary to add 2R and 2G, then off of that mana play Horned Kavu and return both Burning-Tree Emissary and the Kavu itself. You have enough mana floating to cast the Emissary all over again and repeat the loop. The rest of our slots are dedicated to fetching and protecting this combo. Our signature spell is Autumn's Veil to protect us the turn we go off. We run Prowling Serpopard and Gaea's Herald to keep our creatures safe on the stack. We also have Heartwood Storyteller, Beast Whisperer, and Primordial Sage to help us draw into our pieces. Xenagos helps us stall as well, generating ramp and small blockers to get us to the long game. One thing you'll notice here is a high price tag, this is because I had a few cards laying around that worked well in the deck but happened to be high value. If you want to see a budget build let me know.

Oathbreaker is a fun format that I can see really taking off in the future. It's something that can be either casual or competitive based on the people you play with making it a really unique experience. In my opinion it's a format to be treated like EDH, the point isn't to break the format just to have fun with it. When you're out there playing and brewing keep this in mind. Thank you so much for reading, if you want to read more Oathbreaker articles let me know. As always this has been East2west with CCC, I'll see you guys on the battlefield.

East2West is an aspiring writer from NJ currently seeking fame and fortune on the internet. She's been playing Magic since Zendikar block (the original one) and is a commander player with one deck for each two color pair and one for each single color. The only non EDH deck she plays is her own personal Pauper brew, Pauper Eggs. Follow her on her newly created and probably soon to be underused twitter @East2WestMTG.

Jun 18, 2019 by East2West

Tome of TheMechanix

What is the Tome?

Years ago the Mechanics Encyclopedia for all was created, and since then Cardsmiths great and small have filled it's pages with their own custom mechanics. But finding those mechanics in the Encyclopedia can be a daunting task if you're not sure of what you're looking for. Until now you either had to sift through every page and comment to try and locate a mechanic, or you could spend even more time sifting through a Cardsmith's cards, hoping they made something you wanted to use.

We've sifted through all the pages and collected most of the mechanics that have been submitted to the Mechanics Encyclopedia for all, we've used all the data we could from custom mechanic discussions and incorporated as many ideas as we could from all the Cardsmiths who have helped make improvements along the way. Now, after a lot of hard work, we bring you the Tome of TheMechanix!

The Tome of TheMechanix is designed to help display the Custom Mechanics we've all come up with over the years, and to make it easier for everyone to search for and locate a Custom Mechanic that fits their needs. Need a mechanic for a Vampire? Maybe Draining by Noobplayzgames is just what you need. Looking for a way to get cards from your graveyard back into your library? Perhaps Restore by sorinjace will do the trick. Can't remember the name of that amazing mechanic by Beeswax, Faiths_Guide or any of your other favorite Cardsmiths? All you have to do is look for them in the Tome of TheMechanix.

Theme of the Month

And so in honor of this momentous occasion, we're making custom mechanics our Theme of the Month for June! All you have to do is open up the Tome and select a mechanic, make a new card with it (giving credit to the originator of the mechanic of course!) and then submit that card to this month's Forum Post. A few of our favorite submissions might even make it to the Featured section on the front page, along with cards from our Featured Cardsmiths!


Considering this is the Month of Custom Mechanics, we wanted to take this opportunity to shine a little light on TheMechanix. We started this little endeavor of ours as a way to bring custom mechanics to life and to support the Mechanix Challenge. Over 500 of the Custom Mechanics submitted to MTGCardsmith have been given a home in The Mechanix card library. If you're thinking about bringing a custom mechanic to life, check out TheMechanix cards and find some inspiration.


RohanDragoon is a self-proclaimed superfriends enthusiast, but we all know his true passion is EDH! He has been making cards off and on for five years now, and like many of us, has deleted more than a few of them in order to make room for more cards. We've been big fans of RohanDragoon for a while now, and we think you will be too once you check out a few of this Featured Cardsmith's cards!


Our final Featured Cardsmith of June has an affinity for the Orzhov Syndicate, but might be seen splashing in some green here and there for a really nasty Ooze! We think you'll find more than a few gems, and a couple of goats as well, when you check out TheCenterOfTheUniverse's cards firsthand! Make sure to drop a few favorites along the way!

Each month we're excited to highlight a few Cardsmiths that have helped make MTGCardsmith the best interactive online Card Creator. We hope you'll take some time to check out their creations!

Jun 01, 2019 by Corwinnn, & Tomigon

CCC: Sparks Will Fly

We're excited to continue Coast to Coast Casual (CCC), a blog series written by East2West, published on MTG Cardsmith.

As a Magic player Standard is not my forte. The last time I really played it consistently was Return to Ravnica - Theros and I played a jank Dimir Mill deck. I got out of Standard almost the minute Khans block entered the format. The decks that were in the format were just a little to aggressive for my taste, even the control decks were low to the ground (from what I recall). That's when I started getting more into casual formats and drafting as my main ways of playing the game. I revisited Standard during Kaladesh because I got a job at a store that had primarily standard players, I also got an employee discount so I had a pretty steady stream of playables. I was very proud of my Boros Vehicle deck. I ended up quitting the job just a little before Ixalan dropped so once again I went back to my little casual corner. In recent times I still haven't been able to get into the format, there's something about buying expensive singles that will only lose value after rotation that turns me off a bit. However I have been asked to write an article about War of the Spark, a set I have been drooling over since I first heard the phrase "Planeswalker in every pack." So I spent the last couple weeks diving deep into Standard to see what impact WotS will have on the meta in the short term and what the cards could do in eternal formats. I'm not going to break down every card, but there are a few specific ones that I think herald some interesting shake ups for Magic's most popular format.

Part 1: Mechanic Spotlight

In WotS we're introduced to the new mechanic Amass. Now flavor wise it's supposed to be Bolas's army amassing (wink wink, nudge nudge) and this flavor is where it kind of flops. If it's supposed to be an army then why is it a single token? Why can a single Ravenous Chupacabra eat what is supposed to represent let's say 10 whole zombies? From a power standpoint though I totally get it. Imagine if every card that had Amass created 1/1 Zombie tokens instead. It'd be kinda busted. However for the same reason it flops in flavor I think it'll flop in gameplay. It's nice incidental value but it seems a little weak compared to the other threats the current metagame holds.

We also see the returning mechanic Proliferate, now this is something I have huge hopes for considering the state of both WotS as a standalone and the current Standard meta. All planeswalkers and Sagas benefit from Proliferate being in Standard making for some interesting combos. Cards like Growth Chamber Guardian, Venerated Loxodon, Runaway Steam-Kin, and a few others also get a sort of helping hand from the mechanic.

Although not keyworded I do want to mention some interesting additions I noticed during the previews. Awakening of the Vitu-Ghazi is reminiscent of Awaken from Battle for Zendikar. Evolution Sage has Landfall, an ability seen in every Zendikar block. Devouring Hellion has an ability similar to Devour from Alara block. Makeshift Battalion has well Battalion which was the Boros mechanic from Return to Ravnica block. Finally, Tenth District Legionnaire has Heroic from Theros block.

My first impression here is that Proliferate will outshine Amass like crazy. Proliferate is insanely good considering the amount of planeswalkers and counter synergies in standard right now while Amass doesn't quite fit as well. Amass can be insanely good, it's not something to be taken lightly, but it still only creates the one token making it very weak to the large amount of removal in Standard. Still Amass is something that performs way better than I first expected so if you see that little Zombie token keep an eye on it.

Part 2: Current Decks

The main part of my research into Standard has been what types of currently existing decks will be getting new tools to work with and just how good those tools will be. I focused on the top 11 decks in Standard right now according to the MTGGoldfish meta page.

Esper Control

Esper Control gets a bunch of new options that honestly I don't know if it'll take. A lot of the different things I can see being put into the deck aren't strict upgrades and the current list seems solid. Time Wipe, Tyrants Scorn, Enter the God Eternals, And Teferi, Time Raveler are the main cards I can see being used mainboard with a hesitant mention of Ignite the Beacon and Contentious Plan depending on if the list leans more towards Esper Super Friends for its mainboard. The sideboard is definitely getting Super Friends though as I see Narset, Parter of Veils being added alongside Finale of Eternity, The Elderspell, and possibly Lazotep Plating to help against said Elderspell.

Gruul Aggro

Ilharg, the Raze-Boar slides so cleanly into this list, sneak attack on a stick would be good already but a 6/6 for five mana plus hard to remove, plus it has trample is so sweet! As for possible includes I could see maybe a one of Domri, Anarch of Bolas and Rubblebelt Rioters also seems sweet but there might just be better options. As for the sideboard I could see the inclusion of Vivien, Champion of the Wilds. Flashing in your creatures for pseudo haste is always a powerful thing.

Azorius Aggro

Azorius Aggro is a bit of a weird one, the includes here are all pretty uncertain except for one, God-Eternal Oketra. With Oketra on board all your small creatures will also generate a 4/4 token which can really help you flood the board. The other possible include would be Finale of Glory which just generates so much value in this deck, however this may be more of a sideboard card than a main deck card. As for definite sideboarding Ravnica at War is a sweet pick for this deck, all of your permanents are monocolored so this becomes a solid board wipe against more multi color dependant decks like Esper Control and any deck running Hybroid Krasis. These suggestions also apply to mono-white aggro lists which is why it's not here.

Sultai Midrange

At first I couldn't see what Sultai Midrange would get from WotS and then I did my first draft of the format and the rare smacked me in the face. Vivien, Champion of the Wilds shows up once again on the list for the insane value of flashing in a Hybroid Krasis. Sphinx's Revelation is shaking. Vivien might not see mainboard play since it hurts your gameplan to take a turn off to cast her but as a sideboard piece I can see her being a valuable card to include. Other cards that might shine here are Tamiyo, Collector of Tales for your more removal heavy matchups. Sultai Midrange is also one of the decks that will benefit from Lazotep Plating since counter removal is a thing now and a lot of your threats rely on their counters.

Temur Reclamation

Personally I think Temur Reclamation will actually fall way out of favor with the printing of the new Teferi. I mean yeah it's cool your lands are untapped but it's not like you can actually use them. Dovin's Veto also makes it harder to remove that lock. Since I anticipate the new Teferi being a big part of the meta it might be time to say goodbye to the Reclamation shell. If we don't though, once again Vivien is a great addition for the more creature heavy builds.

Rakdos Aggro

This seems like the deck that will end up benefiting most from WotS as a whole and Amass as a mechanic. Grim Initiate, Dreadhorde Butcher, Dreadhorde Invasion, Widespread Brutality, and Banehound all seem like perfect fits for the current beatdown strategy however I could see a small zombie package being included in the sideboard in the form of Liliana, Dreadhorde General and Angrath, Captain of Chaos are booth quality zombie style includes that fit nicely in the board for grindier matchups. A definite include for the board has gotta be Angrath's Rampage, such a good card for this deck!

Selesnya Tokens

Selesnya Tokens doesn't get anything massive from WotS and is actually supremely hurt by the printing of Blast Zone. The best card in WotS for Selesnya Tokens is Finale of Glory which other decks in the meta will be able to utilize better than the token deck. Other than that Tokens just gets a few removal options like Return to Nature and Prison Realm. The only other card I can see here would be Pledge of Unity which could be seriously powerful with the right board. This is a deck I don't expect to see much of in the coming season.

Jeskai Control

Okay so Jeskai Control is about to get some major upgrades. Teferi, Time Raveler, Ral's Outburst, Invade the City, Dovin's Veto, Time Wipe, Solar Blaze, Augur of Bolas, Finale of Revelation, Commence the Endgame, and God-Eternal Kefnet all work for the deck! Seriously, Jeskai control just got a lot better and a lot grindier. I can also see maybe a one of the new Ugin in the board for the mirror match but unless the game goes long I doubt it'll be castable so I wouldn't mainboard it.

Izzet Drakes

Not much to speak of here except for Invade the City. Drakes is a great deck but it might be one of the ones that just can't keep up with the new decks coming in. I could be wrong here but I really couldn't find any other card (except maybe Ral's Outburst) that will fit nicely with the drake tell. Feel free to tell me I'm wrong :)

Mono-Red Aggro

Three words. Chandra, Fire Artisan. Light Up the Stage has been showing everyone the power of red's unique type of card advantage and Chandra saw it and said "Hold my beer." Not only will she create a massive board presence very quickly once she's down but removing her is also a hassle. Since damage removes loyalty counters she gets to deal damage whenever she is damaged meaning often she can kill whatever hurts her. She's the only card from WotS I can see in the deck but hooooo, watch out folks.

Mono-Blue Tempo

Okay so once again we find a deck that doesn't get any obvious spice. To me I can see a few sweet board options with Narset's Reversal and Dovin, Hand of Control for the mirror but not much is given in terms of main deck playables. Maybe Aven Eternal? We'll see.

Part 3: Possible New Decks

Whew, wow you're still reading, thanks man. Now that we're done with what's already in Standard let's get to the fun part, brewing. I'm going to make the five decks that I can see being strong in the new Standard format. Now the deck composition isn't what I'm betting on more the archetypes themselves since, like I said, I am no brewmaster when it comes to Standard.

My personal favorite here is Chromatic Jeskai, hybrid mana is a pet project of mine so I'm excited to see it actually being used in an interesting way.

Part 4: Wrap Up

War of the Spark has got to be one of my favorite sets I've been around for. The story elements and power level feel right and there's an air of extreme fun to the whole thing. The draft format is sweet, Jeskai Walkers has been a favorite of mine and pulling a foil Interplanar Beacon felt so so so nice. I hope to hear about your drafts and games in the future. As always this has been East2west with CCC, I'll see you guys on the battlefield.

East2West is an aspiring writer from NJ currently seeking fame and fortune on the internet. She's been playing Magic since Zendikar block (the original one) and is a commander player with one deck for each two color pair and one for each single color. The only non EDH deck she plays is her own personal Pauper brew, Pauper Eggs. Follow her on her newly created and probably soon to be underused twitter @East2WestMTG.

May 15, 2019 by East2West

May The Forge Be With You

Happy Birthday MTGCardsmith!

For 8 years now, people have been making custom Magic cards right here on MTGCardsmith. We started off with a single frame, some tokens, then planeswalkers and the M15 Frame. Today we have Hybrid Borders, Dual Colored Borders, Colored Artifacts, Legendary Borders, Hybrid Legendary Borders, Dual Colored Legendary Borders and now Silver Borders! You can adorn your cards with one of six different Watermark styles (Ravnica is my favorite!) and more set symbols than ever! In fact, Premium users can not only edit their cards, but they can even add their own Custom Set Symbols!

So much has happened in the past 8 years, there's even a thread on the Forums for it!
Reflections and Browsing the Blog by Damnation In addition to that, we're closing in on some major milestones as well, drawing close to our 100,000th member and One and a Half Million Cards Created!

All month long we want to celebrate the birth of this amazing site by creating Forge cards! Make a card with the word "forge" somewhere on the card and give us the link. A few of you will even get to see your cards Featured this month! May the Forge be with you!

Lastjustice is our first featured Cardsmith this month. He's created over 700 cards and almost 30 Custom Mechanics and he is the self-proclaimed "Defender of All Existence". Take a minute to check out his cards and custom mechanics!

We've long been a fan of Mana_M0nger, who has cards going back 4 years, and this month we thought it would be great to take a look at his creations, as our second Featured Cardsmith for May. Hopefully you find them to be as realistic and elegant as we do.

Each month we're excited to highlight a few Cardsmiths that have helped make MTGCardsmith the best interactive online Card Creator. We hope you'll take some time to check out their creations!

Apr 30, 2019 by Corwinnn, & Tomigon
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