I have a thought. We should make something!

I’ve seen several different feedback videos/reviews shared about recent Magic products from Wizards, and many of them land on variants of the “it’s not for you” lament; that Wizards is releasing products for some sector of the market (primarily “those with a lot of money”), and other players are therefore feeling left out (e.g. Tolarian Community College’s review of VIP Booster Packs). So, I’ve been thinking about what could we as a community do about that. One key suggestion I’ve seen passed around is “just don’t buy them” as what we should do in reaction, but that is essentially sitting on the sidelines; it means just playing with what cards/decks you already have, and not having something “new” to look forward to. Instead of just “sitting this one out”, I’m wondering if there’s people interested in coming together to make a “product that is for you”?

Uh… what do you mean by “make a product”; we’re not Wizards

Good question, hypothetical dude in the back! An example that jumped out to me is Lumeria. Lumeria is a series of two “sets” (Lumeria: The Infinite City, and Lumeria: The Great Divide) that were designed by Card Kingdom, and they released “booster boxes” of them.

When I first heard of Lumeria what struck me was how the designers honed in on one specific thing and made a product specifically for it. Wizards for years has had to balance the idea that some players draft with booster packs, and some players crack booster packs to construct honed decks, and some players use booster packs for “sealed” halfway-between-those-two sort of events. So Wizards’ design of what is in an expansion set overall, and how booster packs were seeded needed to balance all those play styles (Wizards has since started making different types of booster packs, but their choice to release “VIP-focused Boosters” is why you’re here reading this, so have they really been successful in it…?). Card Kingdom said from the get-go that Lumeria is about drafting, and the point was to have a fun draft experience. So they could include cards in their set that were commons-rarity cards that weren’t seeing much play in constructed decks (and as a card store, were likely just sitting on the shelf getting dusty), and use them in a fun way. Card Kingdom used cards that had already been released by Wizards to remix them in a new way.

Additionally, the general feeling about the Jumpstart Magic: the Gathering product I’ve seen has been generally very favorable, in that people want to play it! However, actually obtaining the cards is currently a bottleneck, so lots of people can’t play that yet, leaving those people who don’t want to buy VIP Boosters (or Double Masters boosters at all) still on the sidelines.

So, what if we made a product that was accessible (use mainly cards that already exist, like Lumeria did, where players with a medium-sized collection would stand a chance of already having a decent chunk of them languishing in their collection, and not having to wait on a big-box company to print out the product for them), and led players to actually play with cards they might otherwise have not have? My perspective is that if the majority of your collection is in BCW “Monster” storage boxes, that means the majority of your cards most of the time just sit on the shelf. And I’d rather have a collection of cards that actually causes gameplay to happen!

So, what actually am I trying to do here? There’s been several products already out there that focus on drafting, so I think we should come together and make something… not drafting! Typically “not drafting” means “constructed”, but I’m also thinking wider than that, thinking of products like Archenemy: Nicol Bolas, or Explorers of Ixalan, where yes there’s constructed decks in the box, but it brought more to the game, and Jumpstart, which introduced a new way to “construct” a deck (smash two halves together).

So, I am looking for other players, just not to play a game (immediately); other players to help design and flesh this idea out. I don’t profess to have massive skills in game design, but I am a graphic designer and developer, and decent with organizing things. So, my roadmap for a project like this would be needing people to:

  • Design (game design/mechanics): Do we want to create a new play variant? Refine an existing? Make a kit for ease of jumping into a specific variant? Could use people to come up with the foundations, and react to feedback to refine the output
  • Lore/Story: Most sets have a theme/story behind them; could use people to do creative writing about the process and product.
  • Playtesters: Most casual decks and cube listings are only playtested by a few people; could use a wider community to give constructive feedback, who enjoys seeing “a sneak peek” of something not quite done, to have the best output possible.
  • Artists: My initial thought is to ensure that the majority of cards used are existing cards, but if we end up using some custom additions (Design new type of chips like with Explorers of Ixalan? Expand on the Commander Cube “Regalia” ideas?), some new art may be needed. And/or, creating art alters (“Secret Lairs”?) to update old cards to the new lore?

Plenty of room for any interested! Are you bored inside, looking at cards instead of playing with them? Drop me a line and let me know your skills and let’s see how many people are interested! If there’s a bunch of different ideas, I could see a few sub-groups forming, and working on some parallel ideas (Have a passion for creating a set of Commander decks to release as a “battle box” together? Join a group working on that! Want to try making a Explorers of Ixalan variant that uses Jumpstart-style decks (one of the tiles you could claim is “you may take another pack and shuffle it into your deck”…?)? Let’s make a group focused on that!).

I’ve peppered a few of my ideas throughout this post, but here’s a few more distinct ideas I had; any of these get the creative juices flowing?

  • Combine the Jumpstart idea (mash together multiple ‘deck parts’) with the Horde variant (A.I. deck), resulting in multiple, unique, automated opponents.
  • Archenemy set designed for teaching/introducing to the game (in this pandemic time, how many parents teaching their kids to play do we have?)
  • Jumpstart-style Block-specific set: Each expansion set/block has some distinct archetypes that Wizards designed into the set, which through drafting you can try to aim for; what if there’s pre-seeded partial-decks that already have combo/related cards matched up in them?
  • Jumpstart Commanders: Each partial-deck has a Commander (who gains the “partner” ability) and related cards. Shuffle two partial-decks together, and set both Commanders in your Command zone, and play!

This is an initial post just to see if there’s anyone else interested. Sound off if you’re interested, and I’ll set up some communication between those who are interested (a subreddit? Discord server?) and see what we can do!

TL;DR: There’s a pandemic; we’re stuck inside not doing the “gathering” bit of M:tG in person, and Wizards is not getting new stuff for non-whales available. If that’s making you bored and frustrated and you want to help make something to alleviate that, leave a comment! Let’s make something that IS made for us, that we can look forward to!

Teaching computers / to make art with just some code. / It is what I do.