Card Design Ideas

Hello Everyone,

I have been steadily uploading my collection of card ideas to the discord section (#custom-cards), and I thought it might be nice to consolidate all the submissions in one place. I have tried to rehash all the older ideas so that they are more appropriate for the current iteration of the game. Most of my design interest is locked on multi-colour cards in all kinds of combinations.

I will update this post with new additions as they arrive. Please feel free to leave comments here or over at the discord. I think this kind of process (attempting to develop new cards) helps the community and the developers think through the future direction of the game. Hopefully you are inspired!


While some of the ideas are cute and creative, for sure, I see very little reason that most of these cards would improve the game’s experience or strategy, and I think the idea of adding completely random cards to your hand (or similar) would be a dreadful direction for the game to go in. Haste is also something to be careful about giving to creatures (especially as a buff rather than an innate property), since Haste creatures generally need to have low attack and very low life in order to define them more as spells than creatures.

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I like a lot of these, in no particular order;
Rainfall, verdant charm, scattershot, sanguine charm, iron drake, gabrian engineer, Frostburn, coastal salamander, cobalt drake, chromatic tiki, bantering bard.
I like those a lot and think there’s a high potential for similar cards to make it into the game eventually, Frostburn and Iron Drake are my favourite, I could see them in the game right now and they would just make fringe decks slightly more powerful and worth playing. GJ keep it up. As a sidenote I would also like Rebirth if it didn’t give haste, and I can’t really tell how I feel about Azure Charm, I think I like it?

I really like Mottled Ooze, but I think it should trigger “at the end of your turn,” instead of production. Hopping around passively absorbing life from creatures is a clever idea. 5 land requirement seems kind of slow though. 3 land tricolor sounds about right.

Rainfall is a funny idea too (raining frogs), but it would need some kind of check, maybe 0f “costs +2f for each unoccupied lake”? Board flood should come with a cost, and I don’t want it to be balanced by adding more board wipe.

Very cool ideas, and I love that you are working in the multicolor space.

I will also say I definitely do not like the idea of introducing the kind of randomness that plagues Hearthstone, so I am not a fan of all of the “random” keywords. And I don’t like the idea of effects that add additional cards to your hand/deck (same with burning/discarding). A lot of strategy goes into the construction of decks, and those mechanics completely bypass that.

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Thanks for the feedback everyone. Of course many of these ideas are experimental and untweaked/balanced, but it may be worth mentioning why I think the randomness associated with these cards is actually productive for the game.

I know many come to Faeria looking to escape the game-dominating RNG found in Hearthstone. For Faeria card design, my focus emphasizes randomness within the confines of multi-colour decks. A specific detraction and yet a potential strength of making 2 or (especially) 3+ colour decks.

Consider the two central contenders in my list: Spectral Swirl and Bantering Bard.

The first is a multi-colour take on Spellwhirl from blue. The benefit of Spellwhirl (adds density to your deck as a placeholder for 2 blue cards) is balanced by the randomness. You can not tell if what you get from Spellwhirl will be immediately useful to you, but you design your deck to take advantage of what is known (immediate event synergy) and what is unknown (range of blue cards available). Spectral Swirl operates in a similar vein, but extended to the whole range of coloured cards. The extremity of the randomness is further balanced by the small reduction you gain.

Now, I think it is important to note that this kind of randomness is generally negative to the player of the multi-colour deck, rather than the opponent. The reason is that unlike in HS, the number of impactful cards is limited by the nature of Faeria’s board. In HS, you face RNG at all kinds of levels, from things like Arcane Missiles to Yogg-Saron. But these cards are insane because the dimension of the “board” in that game cannot absorb the randomness.

In Faeria, if you played the Bantering Bard on turn 3 or 4, it is very unlikely that the cards you gain will be able to address the state of the board immediately - the range of situations is too great. What it does do is give a long-term card advantage to those who build a multi-colour deck. It gives up short-term tempo and specific choices with the long-term use of cards. And frankly, Faeria needs this archetype going forward. Investment in multiple land types should translate into increased power over the course of the game.

Instead, multi-colour (especially anyone interested in 3 or more colours) generally hit the ceiling of “growth” creatures, like Crusader and Firebringer - creatures which are mediocre design because they give an undue advantage to linear strategies (like hit face - which is already the point of the game - or drop creatures with more attack than HP, which is already beneficial). The Colossi are a slightly better take on this kind of design (play events, play lands, engage in combat (weak), harvest in enemy territory). Increasingly complex strategies should have increasingly rewarding payoff in the long-term.

Put another way, tempo (i.e. board presence) should be something players can snowball, but not something insurmountable. Board wipes, likewise, should be far rarer in Faeria, because it is so much harder to maintain tempo and board dynamics. Multi-colour cards struggle in BOTH departments, and the opposite should be the case. By sacrificing early tempo (since you need lands), you should be rewarded with late game tempo control.

At the moment all the multi-colour cards are woefully outclassed by these linear strategies. Scourgeflame, Twinsoul, Warstorm, Icerock, Apex, and to a lesser degree, Soul Eater are poor choices. They show up it “gimmick” decks (recall old Aurora’s Creation + Apex or roulette RB Icerock), but rarely perform well.

Combining these two facts (need for late game strategies to be viable and the outclassed multi-colour choices), I think the true place to introduce late-game control elements that do not merely AVOID the board is in multi-colour. And any multi-colour card which seeks to add value to hand ought to have an element of randomness to it.

I don’t see randomness as being anywhere near the problem it is in HS, because the board is a powerful antidote to the large outliers. If you risk playing with multi-colour decks, you risk getting rushed down. In addition, while both games limit you to 30 cards, in HS you can only include 2 copies in constructed - thinning out potential answers and increasing the RNG. In Faeria you can have a deck made entirely of 10 cards. In addition, since you can choose to draw every turn (not so much in HS), the chance you draw one of those 10 is 1 in 5 every turn, or 20%. This baseline consistency ensures that any randomness that gets added to Faeria will always be checked, no matter how many cards you make. If they do not provide enough consistency (in synergy with the rest of the deck), they will not be played.

Re: Rainfall. Do you think board flood of 2/2s in blue (likely mono blue at that) is that problematic? It seems to be a nice way for blue to re-establish the board late, yet still has counters in a number of colours. Interested in further feedback on this point. Thanks.

Good points all around. I get that randomness can be considered “balanced” by win rate (basically a measure of how often it rewards or punishes you), but within each match it’s not fair or strategic. It’s luck, by design. Not my cup of tea. Maybe chroma decks are destined to be chaotic and unpredictable, but personally I’m hoping for a different reward for the sacrifice of tempo.

My thought on Rainfall is that it gains value the longer the game continues, so you might be looking at 7f for 6+ frogs. Battle Toads is 4f for 2 frogs. And it’s not like you would only play it if you had no board. It’s a powerhouse card for sure.

Regarding the random thing - a card like Kaleidoscopic call, if it’s ever powerful enough to see play (which it absolutely would be in your current proposal), would absolutely destroy everything that is good about Faeria. You could get a card like Royal Judge (yep a 1/1 with no benefit) next to an opponent’s Grim Guard or you could get a card like Verudan Force or Magnus next to their Orb. There’s nothing you can do to set up for this and usually not much either player can do to play around it. It is the worst kind of random design. By nature of being a card-drawing game, Faeria already has a relatively high amount of RNG, but the ability to craft your deck intelligently, and to adapt the board to what you’ve drawn, allows players to play around it to some extent. I think this is the reason Unbound Evolution was removed - it was a fun, cool card, but its use relied far too heavily on the RNG and there was very little opportunity to play around it.

If any more RNG is going to be added, it should give players the ability to play around it. For example, if a card read “Destroy a random creature”, there is very little opportunity to play around this. But if it read “Destroy a random enemy creature whose attack is greater than its life”, the player using it can reasonably set up the board to give themselves up to 100% chance of taking out something that they want to take out, and an observant opponent could also sense that this was the plan and play a small yellow or red creature to make use of the spell less appealing. This would be a much more fun, strategic, and reasonable use of RNG in Faeria.

Something else that I want to address is the use of seemingly arbitrary mechanics and land requirements on a lot of these cards, from a gameplay perspective. Yes, what you’ve proposed generally does match the card’s idea from an aesthetic perspective, but “fits the creature’s theme” is a lot less important than “creates good gameplay”.

Let me use your proposal “Giant Fire Turtle” as an example. You have it as a 3f LL FF MM 3/4 creature with Aquatic, Taunt, and Gift: “Deal 2 damage to an adjacent enemy creature.” Yes, all of these things do make sense in terms of what I might imagine when I envision a “Giant Fire Turtle” in my mind. But I’d ask you - what strategic niche would this occupy in a game of Faeria? It’s Aquatic, yet it requires a heavy land commitment in non-Lake land types that it wouldn’t even be able to travel through, not to mention can only be used on turn 6+ when there isn’t much Ocean left on the board anyhow. It has Taunt to keep adjacent creatures occupied, but its Gift would be best used for getting rid of adjacent creatures. The card’s design is such that anything you’d want to do with it, something else about the card makes it unfavorable to do, and therefore its “power budget” is split in a lot of different directions that make it uninteresting and difficult to balance.

If I were to redesign such a card, I would first think about what are the coolest elements of the card. In my opinion, the idea of an Aquatic creature with Taunt is pretty nifty, and it goes well with the “Turtle” theme. What would a player want to use such a creature for? They would probably want to lock down an opponent’s aggressive land expansion, so let’s give it Dash to allow Turtle to do that. We also need to lower the special lands cost by a lot, so that he can hit the board early. Does Turtle really want to kill the opponent creatures? Not so much - let’s remove the Gift and lower its attack damage so that we can keep the Faeria cost reasonably low. Now the final question - which special lands should be required? Red should definitely be cut as it’s completely counter to Turtle’s strategic theme, but how about Green? As much as I also like dual-color cards, Green already has Taunts and we’re trying to create a specialty Taunt card that can be used in decks that don’t already have one. As tempting as LF or LLF are, I think LL is the best land requirement for such a card.

Now we have a card that would be much more playable, fair, and interesting in Faeria:
Giant Snapping Turtle
3f LL
1 attack, 4 life
Aquatic, Taunt, Dash 2.

A couple other cards with neat ideas that might be reworked into something good:
Mottled Ooze
6f FF DD
4 attack, 3 life
Jump. At the end of your turn, drain 1 life from all adjacent creatures.

Touch of Rebirth
2f FF MM
If any enemy creatures died during your opponent’s last turn, summon the last one to die in any empty land adjacent to your Orb. It gains +2/+2 and Taunt.

Chromatic Tiki
4f L F D M
1 attack, 1 life
Gift: Give a friendly creature Protection, Jump, Flying, and Taunt. Reduce its life to 1.

Thanks for the thoughts. I agree (and have said elsewhere) that the Kaleidoscope card is very much an outlier and experimental. It is taking ideas to an extreme. I also welcome the point about a card’s thematic elements being at variance with its utility.

Two ideas emerge from your contribution:

  1. What is the value of land thresholds in card design?
  2. Designing in Context

In your reworks of some of the oddball cards you cut back on the land requirements in order to make them more accessible, or as we sometimes say, “playable”. I understand this impulse, but my main interest in designing multi-colour cards is to push the envelope on the special land requirements. The Drakes are a good example. How should we evaluate the impact of land requirements on the cost/effectiveness of a card? Does the introduction of 3 or more colours give room for the kind of superfluous or flexible value suggested by the Charms or the Giant Fire Turtle?

Related to this is the question of designing in context. You have brought up the really valuable point about RNG needing to be balanced by a threshold of expectation on the part of an opponent. If I know the relative range of effects or counters, I can play around it, and it creates a good kind of tension in gameplay. If I am suddenly shocked by haste creatures of all different sorts randomly assaulting the board, there is little to no interaction. However, all of the multi-colour experiments (and some of the other cards as well) are being compared to the body of cards currently in Faeria, rather than on a trajectory of development which would include many tools to deal with these cards.

We might, for instance, drum up 4 or 5 different kinds of removals that have multi-colour targets to match the sudden influx of some of the cards above. These might have the flavour of the range of options available to a blue magic player who counters spells under 2 cost, artifacts, creatures, instants, etc, etc. I think this is the spirit of what you are suggesting: that it is better design to provide specific, manageable interactions which can then be uniquely piloted on the game board itself. And I am with you on that point.

However, Magic is also the game that brought us this unique idea of thresholds of power - that there could be a relationship between the land req.'s and cost which is dynamic. Faeria truly opened the door wide on this front because of the Well system and the lack of a necessity to “tap” all your land. My hope in these discussions and card designs is not so much to generate perfect specimens and “playable” cards, but to find what kinds of cross-pollination might work, and how the relationship between land/faeria can be altered. In this way, the design of land requirements are not arbitrary, nor are the effects. Each is attempting to maintain the balance of flavour which the relative colours suggest. As an example, consider one of the charms:

Azure Charm (6F LLL D M)
Choose one:
-Give a friendly creature Jump and Deathtouch.
-Draw 3 cards. The third card costs 3F less.

The charm design is to give a choice to the player which blends the dominant colour (in this case blue) with one of the subordinate colours. The first option is B+Y, which overlap in the “Jump” category, and tinge with Yellow’s deathtouch. The second brings together blue’s powerful draw-orientation alongside the randomness from red.

The question arises: Is this card good? You might say, objectively no, it doesn’t seem very good; it is too clunky in hand (6 to “draw 3” with a random discount is worse than the already mediocre Tale), requires too many lands to get going, and appears to be a catch-all. In addition, one of the options seems better than the other.

A card need not be “good” (whatever that means) to have a place in the game. Krog, Magnus, Magda are all legendaries, and yet they are hardly “good”. What the card does need to do is evoke the theme of its colours well. In many ways, balance takes care of itself. If the Giant Firebreathing Awkward Turtle doesn’t appear to have a place, consider that its awkwardness might be the cornerstone of a unique approach to the game. It might be just the tool someone was looking for at exactly that faeria/land budget.

As before, thanks for compelling this conversation forward.