I’d assumed that this day would never come. Wizards has decided to embark upon an expensive, expansive reality show in order to hire new designers. The Great Designer Search 3 is happening!

Editor’s note: Bad news, designers. If you submitted your application to the Great Designer Search 3 before 2:30 pm Eastern Tuesday 12/5/17, you’ll have to resubmit.

…friends, I think this column has a new purpose for the next six months.

Back in 2010…

I wasn’t playing Magic during the first Great Designer Search, so I missed out on it completely. The second Great Designer Search began in September 2010, just as I returned to Magic after a lengthy hiatus. I was just getting reacquainted with the game, so I didn’t even apply to compete. Instead, I gleefully consumed every article, cheering Ethan Fleischer on. I savored the insight into Magic’s design process and celebrated the unexpectedly swift printing of GDS2 mechanics like Evolve and Battalion for sets already in design when the contest was ongoing.

And then it was over. Fleischer and Main settled into their new positions, and that was that. There was a four year gap between GDS1 and GDS2. In 2014, four years after GDS2, it was obvious that the entertainment value of holding a GDS3 just didn’t justify the time commitment and cost. Coincidentally enough, 2014 was also the year I both resolved to design games for a living and met Main, Fleischer, and Rosewater. I’d made it into the industry, but had long since missed my chance to compete in public view for a WotC design job.

Until now. Now, we all have the chance to compete to make Magic the best game it can be.*

* If you can legally live and work in the US. If not, you can still follow along and train your design chops!

The Runners Prepare to take their Marks

The competition begins in six weeks. That leaves six weeks of preparation for essay questions, multiple choice questions, and design tests. Here at Drawing Live, we’re going to try and help out everyone interested in GDS3, either as a competitor, spectator, or Magic/game design enthusiast.

Every week from now until the start of the tournament, I’m going to pose design questions, custom card prompts, and Magic questions. You can already find fantastic resources for custom cards at Goblin Artisans and the Custom Magic Subreddit, just to name two places I enjoy for user-created Magic designs. I’ll also note now and every week that while I am a game designer and a massive Magic design enthusiast, I am not a Magic designer and my answers to the aforementioned question will either be my own takes on design questions or repetitions of known design questions from Mark Rosewater.

And now, let’s begin.

Research Assignment: Color Pie Chaos

I’d bet very good money that several multiple choices questions and perhaps a short essay will be dedicated to the color pie. And no set has contributed to more confusion about the modern color pie than Planar Chaos. While it successfully shifted cards like Prodigal Sorcerer and Verduran Enchantress into appropriate parts of the color pie, it also led to enduring confusion over the semi-fluid, but often rigid boundaries between the colors.

Your assignment is to find three cards that violate the color pie in Planar Chaos. These are cards that do something in a color that’s not supposed to get that effect. Bonus points for finding color pie breaks (where a color gets an effect that circumvents a major, intentional weakness it has) rather than color pie bends (where a color gets an effect that it doesn’t have, but doesn’t circumvent a major weakness).

Callback Assignment: GDS#1 Question 7

This is my favorite multiple choice question from GDS2. I got it wrong. Twice.

What is the correct answer? (It’s here, by the way.)

Card Loving Guy
Creature – ???
First strike
Whenever CARDNAME deals damage to an opponent, draw a card.

#7) Of the following choices, what is the most appropriate color for the above card?

a) white/black
b) blue/black
c) black/green
d) red/green
e) red/white

Color Pie Shift

#1: Dash

Dash is an ability introduced in Fate Reforged to represent the early Mardu/Kolaghan clan. It only appeared on black and red creatures, such as Goblin Heelcutter and Kolaghan Skirmisher. If you had to put it in another color, which would be most appropriate?

#2: Anointed Procession

What would be the most appropriate color to shift this Amonkhet token-doubling enchantment to, if any?

#3: Aerial Responder

What would be the most appropriate color to shift this Kaladesh French vanilla to, if any?

Design Challenge

The uncommon build-around engine enchantment has long been a staple of contemporary Limited design. We’ve seen cards such as Furnace Celebration, Pyroconvergence, Secret Plans, and Angelic Accord be memorable additions to the hallowed halls of Draft and Sealed.

Design an uncommon built-around engine enchantment for Amonkhet, Hour, or Ixalan. Submit your response here.

Phew! That’s all for this week. Next week, I’ll have a brand new round of questions, as well as my own answers to this week’s questions.

Great Designer Training is a new column with an experimental format and it’ll hopefully serve as a useful resource to the community. I’ll be actively lurking (and sometimes even posting!) on the custom Magic subreddit and at Goblin Artisans. Hopefully it’ll be a fun, communal journey to the starting line to a new generation of aspiring Magic designers.

And, as always, thanks for reading.

—Zachary Barash


Zachary Barash is a New York City-based game designer. He works for Kingdom Death: Monster, has an MFA in Game Design from NYU, and does freelance game design.

His favorite card of the month is Explore, his favorite Magic card design ever. It’s so beautifully efficient. It imparts a knowledge and perhaps introduces you to a new land, just like exploration does. It’s powerful, but fair, and yet it’s also kind of Time Walk for the exact same mana cost.

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