John-Michael Gariepy

Archive for the tag “Giving the Players what they Want”

New Mirrodin: Set Back and Giving Players What They Want

New Mirrodin is a custom Magic: the Gathering set I’ve been working on at  It follows a clutch of pilgrims who siphoned a fraction of Karn’s spark and slammed through The Blind Eternities, crashing into  another plane before The Phyrexians absorbed their home world.  Mirrodin meets Lost in Space, perhaps.  In that set, I designed this card:

I’m sure I’m not the only person who’s ever designed this spell.  Unsummon has been around since Alpha, Annul was first printed in Urza’s Saga, and this card fits somewhere between those two.  The surprising thing is that out of sixty-seven expansions,  none of them printed Set Back.  I guess there were always other needs.  In my set, I need this card because it allows players to exploit a design flaw in one of my keyword mechanics.

Originally, I didn’t want New Mirrodin to have an ‘artifact matters’ theme, since the set revolves around a family of explorers discovering an alien, often hostile, new environment.  It wouldn’t feel right, however, if the Mirrans didn’t bring artifacts with them to their strange new home.  And those artifacts would be best expressed through homages to cards that appeared in Mirrodin and Scars of Mirrodin block.  After a while, a number of artifacts piled up, and I began to ask “What are this stuff doing?”  It was nice, in theory, to say “I just have some artifacts, and there’s no overarching theme,” but then I’d have to explain myself to every player who expected an artifact theme, since, you know, this set is called New Mirrodin.  Wouldn’t it make more sense to give the players what they expected?

So I designed the keyword mechanic ‘Resourceful’.  It reads like this:

Resourceful (When this artifact enters the battlefield, if it is not a token, put a token copy of it onto the battlefield under your control.)

Resourceful is a nice magic bullet.  It allows me to double the number of certain artifacts in the set, and gives me breathing room so Read more…

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