My Custom Card set & design thoughts

A long topic, and it’s mostly about how hard designing a good card is :stuck_out_tongue: Seriously, working on this gave me a lot more respect for the developers of any game. Because taking a CC project more seriously gives you a feeling of how hard their job actually is.
So enjoy the read :slight_smile:

Anyway, as you guys know I’ve designed a lot of custom cards over time. Most of them are in the Custom Card thread, and some others have been in the Discord channel. For 95% of the suggestions - actually, make it 100%, I think those are the places to go. Most of the card ideas we come up with aren’t really thought through after all, so just posting them ‘somewhere’ can be nice to inspire ourselves and other for the future, but won’t get us anywhere.
Yes, I am saying, most of the ideas we have aren’t that good in the first place, or contain just as much good as bad. Does that make it unneeded to post those? In the grand scheme of things, the entire concept of a computer may very well be unneeded, but leaving the philosophical discussion aside, the answer is probably yes. It is good to post these in the appropriate locations. Because creativity needs to flow and because speaking to each other gives people inspiration, whether it’s the game designer of Faeria or some artist working on something entirely different that is about as related to Faeria as planting flowers.
But a seperate thread? Not needed.

Now, why do I think this is different? Well, because I wanted to have my Custom Cards go through a full cycle - they all received at least once or twice feedback on either the Discord or the Custom Card thread (or both), and they all have been reworked a few times. None of these are in their first version anymore as I wanted the design process to work its magic.
Why? Like I said in the introduction, one reason is to get more of a feeling of how a game designer feels. We all love to whine at them and shout at them because they are doing it wrong, and I wanted to get a serious feeling for how hard it can be to design cards I would love to play with myself, and I hope others would enjoy to play with too. And considering how often I had to rework some cards, yes, I can say it is hard, and I would love to see how these cards would hold up to actual testing - the part of development I can’t actually do. I would not be surprised if some would not survive, but I’ll get to that later.
Secondary, I wanted to get my best CCs seperated from the rest, and make them both creative and balanced to the best of my ability. More selfish, I immidiately admit.

The cards:

General notes on the cards:
I deliberately left out the events, instead focusing on the creatures. I tried to have 2 creatures for every colour and four neutrals, but getting two yellow cards I was happy with took some doing - I didn’t like the Rare yellow card as it was kinda meh until I came up with a mighty predator of the skies that is able to support its own archetype, but I return to that later.
For green it was also quite hard since most of my custom cards tend to have the green colour.

In general, it’s worth noting that all of the cards that made it here are cheap in terms of both cost and land requirement, being geared towards multicolour midrange decks more than anything else, and Swallow making most high-cost cards a liability. Considering part of my aim is to design balanced cards that would not upset game balance (if anything, they should help it).

- Commons

Okay, let’s start with the Boisterous Pirate:
Unchanged (outside of the chosen artwork) since its original version that was in the massive card set I posted before, and really the only one out of two commons of my earlier designed commons that I liked. It’s simple, solves a RNG-problem in a specific matchup and allows for some more freedom in deckbuilding. Sure, the reason why this card was designed in the first place is much less significant now, the monoblue mirror (and the deck having lost the strength it used to have with Oversky), but despite that this design still goes strong and I feel the game needs something like this before this deck returns to the meta.

Keeper of the Forest:
Well, I’ve designed a lot of small green creatures since I found the Card Creator, and I mean a lot, but most of them felt kinda lacking, and the Fae Bookworm was a bit RNG-ish while actually being competitively usable. So I decided to throw them all together into this card.
Sure, the card might be a bit worse than the Sagami Warrior statwise, but that’s the price you pay for versatility.

Edit: Charge 2 makes it too good of a Turn 1 collector, so I replaced it with Dash 2.

Mountain Yak:
What is a card set without a Yak? Jokes aside, this card is much like the Boisterous Pirate from the massive 90-card set and was originally actually filler, but I like the concept of a card benefiting from its own land. We need more positioning-based cards, and this was my first attempt at one. Simple, and I buffed it slightly (+1 life, land cost significantly reduced) from its original status so it is at a viable level, directly competing with Axe Grinder.

Rakoan Shaman:
One of the newer cards I made, and I like the idea of some specialized landramp for a colour that really doesn’t have landramp. However… this variation still requires you to build neutrals and you need to place your Shamans carefully to benefit from its gift.
Like the other three commons, it is a Turn 1 collector, but obviously without the Explore you cannot benefit from its Gift, so keep that in mind.

Rescued Orphan:
Does not really count, being similar to Explore and all. Can’t be drawn from packs or be put into a deck directly, but it can be given to you by cards that are played. It’s less strong compared with Explore, but I wanted a similar card to Explore that doesn’t create lands on the board. Rescued Orphan does exactly that, and it also synergizes with one of the cards I introduce later.

— Rares:

A Russian myth, a spirit who bewitches humans and lures them to their death at the bottom of a lake or river. This screams Silence, and it indeed is one of the cards that originally had a temporary Silence. But while I like the idea of Silencing, and I think Faeria needs it, I do not like negative status effects in Faeria at all - it opens too much of a can of worms. This also includes Silence, so I decide to go with an alternative, opting for her to remove both Combat and Last Words from an enemy instead. Or rather, only one of them, considering there are currently no creatures in Faeria that have both Combat and Last Words abilities. It requires to be positioned ‘somewhat’ carefully, within two tiles of its target, which is mostly a flavour reason. Rusalkas need to be seen and heard in order to work their magic, and it’s hard to be seen if you are too far away from your whatever you are trying to bewitch!
If there’s no creature to bewitch, have no fear - it’s still a cheap collector if all else fails. I considered making her Aquatic due to her lore, but Rusalka could actually live on land temporarily.

Now, Rusalka is very situational, and after playing around with several secondary abilities, I came to the conclusion that Divine is pretty meh design-wise (not to mention I gave that to another card too) and settled upon an invulnerability to Haste creatures, making her not only even stronger against GY Sacrifice, but also a much more annoying blocker against YRush (which doesn’t really care about her first ability, many variants not using any combat or last word abilities). I reworded this ability eventually, because while immunity to Haste is nice, it’s a bit awkward when that immunity persists even long after the Haste creatures have been summoned. At the same time, it was kinda useless against GB Ramp - so instead, I went with a more blanket phrasing that removes both problems. However, as a side-effect the new phrasing catches Gift-effects too… I am sorry, Garudan!

Kind Ice Mage:
Much like Rusalka above, the Kind Ice Mage originally had a Silence ability, which I removed for the same reasons. She is also buffing adjacent creatures - positioning is fun and we need more cards to reward it, but the buff is relatively minor. It was never intended to be her main role or to be huge value when buffing a lot of things, like Salamander can be.
However, when I scrapped the idea of Silencing, I gave her the ability to remove Charge permanently to replace it, which makes sure she doesn’t overlap with the Rusalka. There’s also the rather evil choice that you have to make with the little Rescued Orphan mechanic added in - do you want to buff more creatures, or the event?
It is a wordy card, with three seperate gift effects that might all trigger at once, but are also all conditional (requiring adjacent creatures, an adjacent Orb and an enemy creature that has the required ability to remove). I think it’s an interesting addition with a lot of depth, mostly for Green token decks, so Salamander and/or SkyYak shenanigans, or even Green Blue token (as both new blue cards are cheap to play). Maybe she also opens up possibilities for a half-green event deck, since she does give that free Rescued Orphan, after all.

Infernal Beast:
The Infernal Angel from the original expansion I made. It was quite broken, but I like the idea of a strong comeback card that utterly ravages the board, dealing damage to absolutely everything. So it remained, the Angel becoming a Beast and getting an absolutely massive hit from the nerfhammer, by far the biggest from any custom card in this set. I couldn’t settle on its land cost - it has been 4 mountains and 1 desert (when it was the Angel), then it were 5 mountains, which I reduced by one but now it is five again. I think 5 mountains is better considering how strong this card is when played, and 4 is still possible to splash into multicolour decks, which I actually would prefer to avoid.
Because even despite all those nerfs, it is still a fearsome comeback card which can easily swing the momentum around. But yet, it kept both of its original drawbacks, not only does it damage your own stuff as well upon being summoned, but every turn it stays alive it feeds your opponent additional resources, so it has to be played with care.
That being said, this card might be a bit iffy balance-wise, as it combines strong effects you want as well as strong effects you do really want in a relatively cheap package, and this would require some extensive playtesting. Also, this card may very well become more imbalanced if more 5M creatures were introduced into the game, which is always worth considering too.

Great Eagle:
One of my most recent cards. I always liked cards that add HP whenever they kill something, but it took me ages to actually do something with the concept, and it was hard to make it both balanced and different from Seifer. But I think I succeeded after half a dozen tries and quite a bit of feedback, and I hope it succeeds in its intention to create whole decks around this card, which can easily be buffed to the point it is nearly impossible to remove without hard removal or Voice of Truth. Which is kinda the point, though it has to be aware of the Kind Ice Mage removing its Charge, or worse, Vanya removing everything and making it drop into the ocean as it tries to doublecollect and has no lands around it.
Talking about testing things, I’d wonder if a GY non-sac control archetype would be viable with this card and how good it would be. It looks quite scary on paper.

Windwalking Fencer:
Originally called rather blandly the Flying Hoplite, but as I wanted to change the card I couldn’t retrace the previous artwork, not to mention that I didn’t really like it for various reasons (too much ‘bulk’ for a flygirl), and the name didn’t really go well with the new artwork. But otherwise the card remained the same outside of having reduced its Faeria Cost by one, as the concept is just too much fun to pass up on - a Divine card that benefits from being buffed - so you have to play spells that affect the entire board (there is Eredon’s Drum in Pandora, but not really anything else) or place creatures that can buff it (Emerald Salamander, Kind Ice Mage and the Syland Chieftain below), or a ways to buff it otherwise without targeting it (Tiki Totem, Rescued Orphan (!)). Bonus points if it gets multiple Crackthorn ticks.
It shines obviously in Token decks, being cheap and hard to remove with events but with an entirely different effect than the Divine Guardian.

The oldest idea of the bunch, and repeatedly reworked. Outside of gaining power the more special lands you have (another concept I like and we still don’t have a card that has a linear increase in strength) I don’t think anything remained the same. I capped her power, though, since lately landramp is too common, and I prefer it to remain a toy for multicolour Token decks, or decks like Crackthorn. With GB ramp being a thing, a cap was necessary to the point the additional landramp would not be relevant, but I still wanted her to support the Angry-Red archetype if you had sufficient lands, which naturally led to the cap being put at one above her health.
The Gift was originally a Production effect that would target any random creature, but I think the current effect is more effective, if slightly weaker. A Kunoichi can’t go without a damage effect - after all, she is armed with shurikens.
As compensation for both of the slight nerfs, she borrowed Leap from other cards that I have designed but just didn’t make the cut here, Leap being a positional mobility-related ability, a concept that I would appreciate in this game but just isn’t being present enough. Sure, there is Charge, but Leap works only when Charge does not (when there is an ally in the way).

Edit: Overprotective Apprentice
A card that originally had Protection in many ways, shapes and forms. It still does, but only against damage-based events, of which the number is relatively limited. A bit of a counterpart to Rusalka which is immune to immidiate creature-based removal. Otherwise, it is basically a meme based around Rescued Orphans. It’s not designed to be a good card, but it’s probably possible to build a deck around it if more cards would add Rescued Orphans to your hand.

—Epic and Legendary:

Syland Chieftain:
Yes, really. A choice-based Last Word effect, and two out of three effects require careful positioning the moment this card dies. I just could not resist the moment I got the idea while watching a stream (I think it was Luuu who inspired this one). You have to predict in advance which of its Last Words effect will be the most useful to you, and that means you have to make sure it dies. It has Taunt to aid that process, but nothing more, and it is a card that might require a lot of careful thinking depending on how the match plays out. Or not, if you know your opponent plays Rusalka.

Vanya, the Nightstalker:
The Silencer, really, just without the keyword. She simply flat out removes all the bold abilities of an annoying opponent while having a solid 5/5 statline. It might be too solid actually, which made me worry a bit about her being used in Rush decks as well and taking away crucial Taunts, so I took a strong measure to prevent that - she can only be summoned on your own half of the board. However, this does not prevent her to be summoned in between the wells, so you can still use her somewhat aggressively in midrange decks.

She also has Leap, but she was designed long after I created that ability as well.

However, the strongest draw of Vanya is what she is going to do against Swallow - Swallow gets removed → Swallowed creature gets released and takes the place of the swallowing creature, therefore killing it. Yes, summoning Vanya would kill off a Skywhale immidiately, and while this is not exactly balanced, I think the mere presence of such a card in the game would give GB Ramp something to think about and aid midrange decks in their return.

Edit: With the recent Skywhale change, such a strong countermeasure to Swallow is probably no longer necessary, and a more intuitive - Swallow gets removed → Swallowed creature dies might be more preferable. I am not certain though, as Whale + Creation is still a thing and Swallow might be too troublesome in the future again.

Also, I never really mentioned the old version of Vanya, which also had Leap but did a lot of different things. But it were all things I no longer liked - and still don’t like. She was just too much of a value engine - double faeria collection when collecting from opposing wells, really? Let’s also not forget her actively punishing structure-based decks, which is highly unnecessary. However, I still like the art, the artwork, and the cardname, and it fits just as well with the silencing mechanic. It’s a good example of a card keeping its lore background intact but becoming unrecognizeable to fit a new mechanic as I worked on it.

Congratz for sticking with me until here :stuck_out_tongue: You actually read it all! What do you think, about my general comments on card design? About the cards themselves? Or about the thought process that went into their design?

Edit: Breaking up large clumps of text into more paragraphs tends to be nice, and cleaning up some wording here and there. It is probably still a bit messy, but oh well :slight_smile:

Edit 2 @next morning: Links and/or authors of the artwork
Artwork: If I don’t have the name of both the artwork and the artist, I put the link, at least for the cards I can actually find the artwork back:

Boisterous Pirate: Drunk Pirate by Igor Grenachyi
Kind Ice Mage: Jaina fanart by Eyal Degabli
Keeper of the Forest: Green Fairy by Yidneth
Rescued Orphan: I’m watching for you by Anastasya Sparrow (Silverwing Sparrow on DeviantArt)
Kunoichi: Samurai by Ilia Iovenko
Rusalka: Rusalka by Linda Kindt (Isriana on DeviantArt)
Vanya: Brenna by Linda Kindt (Isriana on DeviantArt)
Rakoan Shaman: Runaway Alchemist by Aurore Folny (ViridRain on DeviantArt)
Great Eagle: Hawk by Ilona Tsymbal (Tira-Owl on DeviantArt)
Overprotective Apprentice: Countermage by Phoenixlu
Infernal Beast: eli2 by Sandara

Windwalking Fencer:
Infernal Beast:
Syland Chieftain:
Mountain Yak: Not the original source (a museum website) but it’ll do:

Edit @ 5th of Februari: Traced the last artwork :slight_smile:

Edit @15th of March: Fixed the image - there were a few ‘bugs’ in there. Also nerfed the Keeper of the Forest - Charge 2 was just too much as a T1 collector.
Also the Overprotective Apprentice is added - it’s a bit of a meme card. 2/2 for 3 Faeria is just bad even with the event protection, but if you can arrange some Rescued Orphans it can quickly become a much better card.

Edit @3rd of April… Traced the artist of the Infernal Beast.