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WizardsOfTheCoast are running a competition whose prize is a 6-month paid design internship. Now, I'm not expecting that any Wikizens will really apply, since you need to relocate to Seattle for 6 months at your own expense, but the first round questions are rather intriguing. I think some discussion could be fun.
http://toothycat.net/wiki/wiki.pl?action=rc&from=1156494947 (is this meant to be here?)


The Questions


The questions are:

  1. Introduce yourself and explain why you are a good fit for this internship.
  2. Explain three positive ways "mana screw" affects Magic.
  3. Name a popular, existing mechanic and explain how you would make it better.
  4. From a design standpoint, what was the best thing about the Champions of Kamigawa block?
  5. From a design standpoint, what was the worst thing about the Ravnica block?
  6. We design cards for three player psychographics: Timmy, Johnny and Spike. In the average set, who should the most cards be designed for? Why? Who should the fewest cards be designed for? Why?
  7. Imagine you must eliminate a card type (artifact, creature, enchantment, instant, land or sorcery) from Magic. Which one would you choose and why?
  8. You stumble upon a time machine and travel back to the early 90's. What is the one change you would recommend Richard Garfield make with Alpha? (You must recommend a change.)
  9. You are forced to move counterspelling out of blue. What color do you move it to and why?
  10. What is Magic design currently doing wrong? How would you do it right?

Discussion


Question 2 - Mana Screw




Innteresting.  Ok, let's see.  1. It gives new players a chance to win even against those with vastly more experience.  2. It gives an unsolved problem with deck design - you can add features but only by increasing risk - there's an accepted safe zone, but most succesful players tend to play just outside it.  3. It lead to the mulligan rule and associated risk/reward calculation of choosing to redraw your hand for reasons other than mana.  --Vitenka

1. Introduces luck, which allows weaker players chances to win, and players in general an excuse why they lost. --Angoel
2. Adds deck-building constraints.  Without mana screw, you could play all cards with equal effectiveness - with it you have interesting decisions about whether to decrease the deck's consistency to increase it's power. --Angoel

Question 3 - Improve a Mechanic




How about the basic attack mechanic?  A lot (I'd say most) new players don't 'get' the "attack a player, choose to block" thing - they want to "Attack THAT!"  And they want to declare their attacking creatures one at a time, as well.

Doing this would fundamentally alter the game, of course - so perhaps it should be something like an "Enchant block"  --Vitenka


Question 4 - Best bit of CHK



Lots of cards which were fun on their own but synergised even better.  It brought plenty of basic deck strategies (smack them with really big creatures, shoot things, use the graveyard) back into non-competitive play.  --Vitenka

The concept behind spiritcraft - Making spirits special considerably added extra information to all the past spirit cards and caused people to reevaluate them, without necessitating additional rules baggage.  The main problem with it was that it's abilities were typically underpowered without combining it with arcane spells, which limitted it's application. --Angoel

Question 5 - Worst bit of RAV



That you could do pratcically nothing with 'just a few' rav cards - you needed lots.
And the guilds all seemed to work best as 'splash' rather than 'build a deck around that guild'.  --Vitenka

Too many mechanics, none of which felt as if they had been explored in the depth that they deserved to be. --Angoel

Question 6 - Timmy, Johnny, Spike


I reckon Timmy has to be the winner here, and Johnny the loser. Johnny doesn't care if the whole set isn't chock full of intriguing cards, so long as there's a few he can get his teeth into. Likewise, Spike will always be able to find enough powerful cards to keep him happy, without resulting in power-creep across the years. Timmy, on the other hand, loves the new, the shiny and the big. Without enough variety, he'd feel let down. --CH


I forget the archetypes again.  Basic play needs the most cards - since he's not going to go LOOKING for different things to do, but needs there to BE lots of things to do to keep his interest.  The power player will find strengths wherever they are.  The 'AlexChurchill' player needs a few cards, but typically they can be hidden in with the rest.  Probably the problem is "I like big dragons" since there can usually only be a few of those, because no matter how much you like them, you can't use ONLY the big cards and have a hope of winning.  --Vitenka
I think you agree with me. Timmy is visceral - the original definition was that timmy liked big, splashy creatures and effects, and that still holds reasonably well. Johnny is the Combo Player - the one who'll find a junk rare and build a curiously effective deck round it. Alex is an ideal example. Spike is the tournament player, who values cards based on how effective and efficient they are. --CH

On the flip side, Spike does need a reasonable selection of power cards in order to avoid stagnation at tournament-level; without enough diversified power, the format will get predictable. And you can't have too many Johnny cards, or else players will be sitting there, scratching their heads working out what all these crazy combo cards actually do. --CH


Question 7 - Nuke a card type



Land.  There's no need for it, really since we've got zero-cost artifacts and (again now with time) spells.  Very few things target lands directly now, land destruction hasn't really been a good strategy for a while now and it wouldn't be hard to make the replacement immune to shatterstorm or similar.  As a plus, you could get rid of the 4-card exception on basic land types.
About the only thing you lose is landwalk - but that is generally frustrating to new players, too metagamey in casual and rarely used in professional.  --Vitenka
I disagree here. You only need to look at the Moxen to see the trouble with zero-cost artifacts. The "one land a turn" rule is crucial. Personally, from a design point of view, I'd probably remove artifacts - and then allow colourless creatures and enchantments. Functionally, there's not much difference, although creatively the difference is quite well defined. --CH

Nuke Sorceries.  Obviously Land and Creatures must stay, so we're left with one of Enchantment/Artifact? or Instant/Sorcery?.  Enchantments and artifacts hang about, resulting in their types actually having a sensible long term effect.  Removing one of the types would diminish the design choices available.  The destinction between instant and sorcery is more minor, and could easily be replicated by turning sorceries into a subtype of Instant (ie Instant - Prepared), or by adding an ability word (prepared instants can only be cast when...) --Angoel
You may have just convinced me to change my mind. Especially since Portal did just this, although slightly less fully. --CH

Question 8 - Change to Alpha



Get rid of the 'Deckmaster' thing on the back of magic cards. --Angoel

Question 9 - Move Counterspell



To white.  Red and green are out from a philosophical point of view, and because if they received counterspells, their efficiency in what they do (burn / get mana and efficient creatures) means they become relatively unbalanced.  Black would work, but there would be too much disruption in the colour when combined with the card discard and creature distruction.  Multicoloured is too restrictive for this sort of utility card, colourless gives overly easy access.  White works from a flavour point of view - rules and things, and adding some control to it wouldn't cause it to become overpowered.  --Angoel

Question 10 - Current Design Errors



In order to stop blocks only playing with themselves, they're moving to mechanics which are based purely on existing resources - having no cards in hand, creatures in play, etc.  I think that this will result in limiting the design space.  One thing that they should be doing is having things which are based on 'special' resources, but having these special resources spread across blocks.  For example, having 'arcane' spells appearing for three blocks, and having different mechanics interacting with them during that time. --Angoel
Now that is an interesting idea! It has its problems - "Let's see, last block Arcane was all about splicing and triggering spiritcraft, but this block it means it does things better on multicoloured objects" - but I like the idea behind it! You could play your RAV-block arcane spell on a multicoloured permanent, while splicing on a CHK block effect and triggering spiritcraft. Definitely intriguing. --CH
Well, obviously it needs a bit of planning behind it to avoid being too haphazard.  But things like Coldsnap, with their 'one block only snow' thing just irritate me.  If you're going to have snow, it should at least hang around for a little bit. --Angoel

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