$10 books and crowd-sourced listicles about Magic
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19: Design Your Own Cards
Card templates are easy to find, you can add art and imagination.

Designing Magic cards is one way to enhance your comprehension of the color pie, as you can get feedback about whether your design makes sense and has appropriate power for its mana cost. Lots of custom cards are hyper-powerful; many onlookers seem to appreciate them more when they are realistic.

You don’t need to know thousands of cards to understand that each color has tools at its disposal and it tends to use them in slightly different ways from set to set. Great design works within these guidelines to create an opportunity that’s enticing, yet fairly costed, and uses the title, art, and flavor text to hint at the bronze-age analog of what the card does.

Furrier 2{G}

3{B}, Tap: Destroy target non-Human, non-Zombie creature. For each {G} spent this way, put a +1/+1 counter on Furrier.


Here I’ve created a powerful, flavorful design and attempted to balance it with specific mana requirements. The 3{B} cost may still be too low, since this trick could be used during combat. Maybe it should be sorcery-speed. Repeatable removal is not allowed in limited, but perhaps this card could only appear at mythic or in a Commander product. There are dozens of specific guidelines like this that R&D uses to keep guardrails around powerful effects. Learning them from commentary on your designs might help you become better at limited, etc.

Custom cards occasionally feature characters from other contexts. Converting their attitude into a card is another way to test your understanding of the colors. You can ask Mark Rosewater on Tumblr if your conclusions match his.

Making your own cards can be fun, and once you identify a mechanic that you’d like to use, you may find a way to achieve it with actual cards from the past.