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I invented Shadowmoor first! September 13, 2008

Posted by James in : all, fake cards , trackback

I saw a post on the MTGsalvation forums discussing what cards Wizards stole from them. But guess what. They stole an entire set design from me!

OK, maybe not an entire set design, but I spent a few years creating my own set. The most difficult part of the process was thinking of a gimmick. Almost every set has a gimmick. Something groundbreaking and requires the game design to be changed. This started with Invasion, which introduced split cards. Then Odyssey had morph. Then Kamigawa had flip cards. Then Ravnica had hybrid mana. Then Lorwyn had Planeswalkers. Then Shadowmoor had the untap symbol. I could think of regular mechanics and keywords all day, but a gimmick like these are difficult to think of.

I started making my own Magic set before December 2005. It wasn’t until 2006 that I thought of the groundbreaking mechanics or design changes for my set. I finished my set in the summer of 2007, over a year ago. What was my mechanic? The untap symbol. What’s worse, is that I also had a less innovative mechanic that I used for my set: Colorless hybrid mana. Both of these mechanics just happened to be in Shadowmoor.

These abilities weren’t created and used exactly as they were by Wizards:

Untap Symbol

The untap symbol had a justification: It would allow creatures to have weaker abilities that could be used more. Right now the cost of most activated abilities is “tap,” and we expect activated abilities to do something fairly powerful, like deal 1 damage to something. If a permanent could also have an “untap” ability, then it could do more things in a turn and we wouldn’t require that card’s abilities to be as powerful. In order to prevent players from untapping and tapping endlessly, I often made the untap ability have the restriction, “play this ability once each turn.” (Note: Goblin Farmers has a different expansion symbol because it was from the second set I started to work on also in the summer of 2007.)

mogg psycho

goblin farmers

goblin farmers

Colorless Hybrid

My set’s colorless hybrid cards were given new frames, and it had a flavor reason for having colorless hybrid cards. Colorless cards are generally cards that (a) could be considered to be an artifact, like Healing Salve, or (b) creatures that don’t like their own color.


zombie humanitarian


1. Kevin - September 25, 2008

Yo man, I told you to submit your creations to WOTC long time ago. You needn’t complete the set, but the mechanics itself would have eventually played out with WOTC.

Well, good luck in your next build (if you have more).

2. James - September 26, 2008

What set? I finished one set already. I am working on some more. Before I show Wizards anything I need something impressive to show them.

3. Recoculous.com: Magic the Gathering Articles » My Top 10 Articles of 2008 - January 16, 2009

[…] 2. I Invented Shadowmoor First! […]

4. mag - April 17, 2009

There horrible…
i invented a card that costs 5 &
if u played u, it gets +1/+1 & shroud
for the other colors, the same exept 4 r it was haste, w was lifelink,g was trample & b it was fear & it was a 5/5

5. Recoculous.com: Magic the Gathering Articles » Unscrewed Part 7: Bazaar of Cairo (Unglued 3) - October 7, 2009

[…] My first Magic set, Awakening, was finished in 2007, over 2 years ago. My favorite new mechanic was a wacky fun idea: The untap symbol. It didn’t take me much longer to think of a similar mechanic: The doubletap symbol. I decided that this new mechanic could be used for Unscrwed (Unglued 3). The idea is that you can turn a card upside down to do something quite similar to how tapping permanents work. The difference is that you could doubletap a card, even if it was already tapped. The result is that we can get cards like Goblin Prophet, seen to the right. […]