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How to Make Your Own Magic: The Gathering Set Part 6: Planeswalkers September 1, 2013

Posted by James in : all, random, fake cards, theory, design , trackback

There’s three general considerations for making planeswalkers. One, deciding how powerful the abilities should be, and perhaps the most important thing is that all three abilities shouldn’t be too powerful together. Two, making sure the abilities have some synergy. Three, making sure it has a way to protect itself.

Power level

I suggest using this list as a guideline when determining how powerful various abilities of planeswalkers should be based on the casting cost of the planeswalker and the cost of the ability:

Casting Cost +1 0 -1
2 Draw a card, then discard a card at random. Put a +1/+1 counter on up to one target creature. Put a 1/1 creature token onto the battlefield.
3 Put a +1/+1 counter on up to one target creature. Put a 1/1 creature token onto the battlefield. Target player draws a card.
4 Put a 1/1 creature token onto the battlefield. Target player draws a card. Put a 3/3 creature token onto the battlefield.
5 Target player draws a card. Put a 3/3 creature token onto the battlefield. Creatures can’t be blocked this turn.

These abilities are mainly based on real planeswalkers, and I think it makes it clear that paying another mana for a planewalker generally makes its abilities each cost 1 less than they would otherwise. For example, the “-1” ability on a three cost planeswalker (drawing a card) could easily be the “0” cost ability of a four cost planeswalker, or the “+1” ability of a five cost planewalker. We have seen variations of that theme already.

Synergy

It isn’t important that all the abilities of a planeswalker work well together, but it is generally important for some of them to work well together. Venser, the Sojourner is an example of a planeswalker that has pretty much no synergy between the abilities, but other planeswalkers have some—and the synergy often makes the planeswalker a lot more interesting.

garruk wildspeaker

Perhaps a good example of a planeswalker that actually has some decent synergy is Garruk, the Wildspeaker. Its “-1” ability makes 3/3 creature tokens, and the ultimate “-4” ability gives you an overrun—all your creatures get +3/+3 and trample until end of turn. This works quite well with the creatures it makes.

Self-protection

One power that many planeswalkers have (and is often important to make them useful) is some ability of self-protection. For example, the fact Garruk can make 3/3 creatures assures you that it can protect itself from various attacks. That helps you keep your planeswalker around for at least a turn or two. Planeswalkers that lack-self protection tend to be quite bad against aggressive decks.

Another example

Here’s an example of a planeswalker that I developed:

urza, planeswalker

Urza is known as an “artificer,” so I made sure he has some artifact related abilities, but they don’t require you to build an artifact deck. The first ability makes 3/3 artifact creatures out of lands (that are technically 0/0 creatures with counters on them). That offers some self-protection. The second ability has pretty much nothing to do with the other two abilities, but it is known to be compatible with the white/blue flavor. The third ability makes your artifacts into 5/5 artifact creatures. That can be good with pretty much any artifacts, but it’s especially good with the artifact creatures Urza makes because they actually become 8/8 creatures due to their counters.

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1. Recoculous.com: Magic the Gathering Articles » How to Make Your Own Magic: The Gathering Set Part 7: Design Skeleton - September 27, 2013

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