Author Archives: Bradley Rose

You’re a Designer, Harry! #11 – The Kingdom and the Jet Packs

Welcome to another installment of You’re a Designer, Harry! This week, I’ll be going over the mechanics of the five factions. More specifically, the nongreen and nonblack factions. As for the puzzles to solve that are the “hybrid and/or traditional multicolor decision” and figuring out the four-color mechanic: I haven’t yet come up with a solution, so just sit tight on that part!

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You’re a Designer, Harry! #10 – Banging My Head Against a 0/8 Defender

Welcome to the tenth installment of “You’re a Designer, Harry!” Before I begin: Well, where should I even begin?

Do I mention what may be on my devoted readers’ minds (Don’t worry, I’m not having a delusion of a bunch of readers eagerly awaiting my article on Fridays like some people do on a Sunday night for a new Mark Rosewater article. I’m just not also selling myself short with the fact that I may have a dude or dudette enjoying what I put out there. I’m not a terrible person to read, I think. Just maybe not so great. Yet. Anyway…), which would be “Why did Brad miss another week again last week? What happened, yo?” Do I talk about how I feel at the moment about my personal experience with taking the helm here and writing “You’re a Designer, Harry!”? Or, do I do what I usually do and just talk about Magic: The Gathering design? I’ll talk about each of these except for talk about our set’s design. Read the rest of this entry

You’re a Designer, Harry! #9 – The Sixth Faction

Two weeks ago, we discussed whether our four-color set should go gold or hybrid. I reasoned that the as-of-yet-to-be-determined four-color mechanic may help in making the call. As such, I came up with just a couple of ideas for the mechanic. Since then, I’ve received some great feedback regarding the matter of “gold or hybrid.” However, I’m not going to talk about that this week. Read the rest of this entry

You’re a Designer, Harry! #8 – Go for the Gold (or Hybrid)

Hola, world-weavers! Last time, we talked about how we tweaked the design skeleton yet again. And we’re probably about to do it again. Does it seem like we just keep shuffling things around in a little rut in this grand scheme of a design process? That’s not how I see it. I imagine these articles I write to be like me, as the lead designer of the four-color set, holding a design meeting every week to discuss the set. However, members of the design team attending these meetings are in a constant flux! It’s a different number of people present at every meeting, which means some things don’t come into light until later when “Designer X” comes out and makes an observation that changes everything (not really everything)! Then we (gladly) take a step back to focus on a vital part of the set or go back to the drawing board completely.

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You’re a Designer, Harry! #7 – Fixing and Fixing

Welcome to another installment of You’re a Designer, Harry! Last week, we reassembled the design skeleton because there were some corrections made that were relevant to the set’s design. This week… we’re once again reassembling the design skeleton! Yes, that’s right, there are yet more changes to be made as we continually discuss and learn about issues pertaining to how to go about designing a four-color set. We’ll also talk about the implications of mana-fixing for a “four colors matters” set. But before we go any further…

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You’re a Designer, Harry! #6 – Reassembling the Skeleton

NOTE: As my returning readers are aware of, as part of the effort of determining the name of a four-color grouping, I change up what I call these groupings in every article to “try it out.” These four-color groupings would become a part of Magic players’ lingo when they reference any one group of four colors, whether it be a card or a deck. People reference the guilds and shards from multicolored sets of old to refer to two and three-color groupings to this day. While designing this set is simply an exercise, we should treat the design problems we face seriously if we want to grow as designers.

This article’s name for a four-color grouping is: faction.

Another note: This week is more of an expansion upon last week’s article. Some things have been changed since last week and some things have been corrected. Such is the way of design. Most times, you get things wrong the first time! So, while there is new content in this article, there will be a lot of reiteration (but explained with more clarity).

Now, on with the show! Read the rest of this entry

You’re a Designer, Harry! #5 – Frankie Pea & Forked

Forked Bolt

The Nightmare Before

Welcome back, card-crafters! Last week, we discussed the non-white sector (I’m going to try out this term for the four-color groupings for this article, instead of “tier,” just to see how it feels) both creatively and mechanically. This week, before we move any further with the sectors, we’ll take a step back and focus on another important part of Magic: The Gathering set design: The design skeleton.

What is the design skeleton? Well, Mark Rosewater explains it best (and introduced it to the world outside of R&D) in his article Nuts & Bolts: Design Skeleton. But, first, if you haven’t already, you should read the first part of his Nuts & Bolts series – Nuts & Bolts: Card Codes . The latest part of this annual series is Nuts and Bolts: Filling in the Design Skeleton.

These three articles are ones I highly recommend for aiding in the process of designing your own Magic set. The Card Codes article is for understanding the strange letters-and-numbers sequences that are used in a design skeleton. The Design Skeleton article tells you about what it is. Lastly, the Filling in the Design Skeleton tells you how to properly use that skeleton.

With that out of the way, I’ll link you to our set’s design skeleton right now, so you can reference the document while you follow along with the article (or if you’re already savvy in Magic design, you’ll be getting right to the point). Also, the design skeleton is a little bit ahead of what we’re talking about today (the commons), so don’t be alarmed when you reach the end of the article and there is still more content on the design left unreferenced. Here’s the skeleton, hosted on Google Docs: Read the rest of this entry

You’re a Designer, Harry! #4 – White Out

Hey, you!

Today, we’ll be looking at possible gameplay mechanics specific to one of the civilizations (what I’ll call “tiers” for the rest of this article, just to try out the term). Considering that it’s highly likely that the first set of our Magic: The Gathering block will contain the tier without white (and that white is normally ordered first when listed among the other colors), it’s fitting to start with it. First, I’ll reiterate and expand upon what the tier is all about flavorfully, then I’ll brainstorm some mechanical executions to match that flavor. But before all that, I’ll talk a bit about the whole set overall. Read the rest of this entry

You’re a Designer, Harry! #3 – A Whole New World (Or Five)

Hello, again, designers!

When Did You Last Let Your Heart Decide?

As a refresher,  this is where we are at now:

The anti-mana concept (a mana symbol  that represents all colors of mana except one) is going to be used in this block (until it proves to be a problem in playtesting, of course). Whether it’s a first set innovation or a third-set twist is still up in the air. The five different civilizations, each isolated by a natural barrier embodying a color of mana, are going to be described in their initial concepting below. The civilizations will be split among the first two sets of the block a la Ravnica with three civilizations introduced in the first set (each having their own new mechanic) and the last two civilizations in the second set. The third set would be what happens when these separated civilizations finally meet and where the block’s antagonist would be revealed. Read the rest of this entry

You’re a Designer, Harry! #2 – What Can I Get You Folks?

Welcome (back), designers! For those who’ve missed the last article or need a refresher:


This “You’re a Designer, Harry!” column I’m writing (Ah, I should have picked a better name!) is related to Magic: The Gathering design. Instead of just designing a Magic set, I’ve decided to write about the process as well, which you can read about every Wednesday here on Red Site Wins. However, this is more than just following the process I go through creating the set, as my readers are involved in the design of the set as well. What I mean is that the design and creative decisions that go into defining the set are open to be affected by the readers from their feedback. You can write a comment at the end of this article about why a certain thing should be a certain way or suggest a new idea for another aspect of the set, and etc. (or you can tweet me at @bradleyrose). I’m like the lead designer of the set, and you (if you so choose to be), in addition to other participating readers, are part of my design team.

So here’s where we’re at now in designing this Magic set: The theme of the set is “four colors matters.” Taking into consideration the input I’ve received from last week, I’ve decided to bring back hybrid to support the “four colors matters” theme. This is in terms of gameplay mechanics for the set. Read the rest of this entry