Return to Legends

Return to LegendsMy friends and I occasionally make our own custom Magic: the Gathering sets. We design the cards, print them out (using a custom card image generating script one of my friends coded up), and then play a draft tournament using the invented cards we have come up with. A couple of sets have been designed jointly, but most of the ones we have done have had a single designer. Several of us have taken on the task of designing an entire set of cards for everyone to play with, often keeping the details secret until it is all unveiled at the draft.

We played my latest set last Friday. Usually we invent sets out of whole cloth, but this time I had a different idea. I took the old expansion Legends, and redesigned it from the ground up, using modern card design principles and power levels, including Mark Rosewater’s design skeleton.

I left the card names unchanged and used the same artwork, but updated the card frames to the modern version. Depending on the card, I modified the casting cost, rules text, power/toughness, and in a few cases the card type or the colour. For example, Great Defender, originally a white instant, I turned into a blue Merfolk creature, based on the artwork. I improved the Kobold lords to make kobolds a draftable deck archetype. I made most of the legendary creatures highly playable (most of them were underpowered or overcosted in the original set). And I turned Wood Elemental, often nominated for worst card of all time, into a very powerful card.

I took out a lot of the walls and wall-affecting stuff, and ramped up rules text referring to legends. I gave the snakes generated by Serpent Generator the Infect ability (and made the artefact cost 3 to cast, and 3 to use the ability, rather than 6 and 4). I gave a bunch of green and black creatures Infect as well, to make a poison deck draftable and playable.

The other guys were delighted when I unveiled the concept. I’d made faux-booster wrappers and collated the cards into “boosters” for drafting (pictured). Ripping them open to see Legends cards – and not merely Legends cards, but Legends cards updated and made so that they conform to modern power levels – was really exciting. We all had a lot of fun drafting and playing the games. Legend was never designed for the draft format, and would be miserable unmodified. But revamped and updated in design, it was a lot of fun!

And as is traditional when one of us designs a set for us to draft, I came dead last in the tournament. (Seriously, this has happened more often than not when one of us designs a set.) But still had fun!

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