MTG: 2022’s Custom Cards, by The Numbers

Every day of 2022, I shared a Custom Magic Card — a card for Magic: The Gathering that I designed, using art gathered from the internet — on Reddit’s /custommagic Subreddit, My Talen_MTGee Twitter account, and then eventually, on Mastodon and Cohost. With 2022 behind me, I figure it’s now time to collect all the information I can about all the cards I made, and what I learned about myself and my assumptions.

Art Source 1, 2, 3

Warning: Wizards employees, this post contains unsolicited designs of custom magic cards.

Over 365 days, I made 393 cards. This is because February was all a bunch of three-colour partner pairs, and uh, also, I messed up and thought November had 31 days? But what’s equally weird there is that means, in my head, there should be 394? And then I’m left wondering if I’m missing another thing, or did I skip a day? When did I skip a day? I can’t tell.

Anyway, moving on.

Each month had a theme, and in the next month, I’d do a post showing the full gallery of the previous month’s cards, and what theme linked them, as well as some updates that corrected errors on the cards, or implemented good feedback from Reddit. The months and themes were:

Art Source 4, 5, 6

If I post them to Reddit and Twitter and Mastodon and Cohost, that means I should have something like, you know, metrics? But Cohost doesn’t give me metrics unless I want to go out of my way to find them (and it does make that hard), and I’m trying to never look at Mastodon metrics. Twitter metrics are pretty low key, but Reddit is a big community of thousands that can provide a lot of Numbers Go Up.

What did Reddit think were the best cards of the year? Well, here! Have a top ten!

I at least agree that this design is great. The name is too close to ‘knights of thorn’ though and it needs another one. But that’s what the flavour department is for.

I don’t really have meaningful feedback on any other cards of the year; few cards got special treatment for being particularly clever or cool, and I think that comments are far more interesting as feedback. I get a lot of comments that are sometimes redundant or involve mistakes – like the Boneshod Ursix had a lot of people who didn’t quite understand how Assist works, or believed I designed the mechanic – but yeah, what got upvotes seems pretty random.

You notice how these cards don’t have flavour text? There’s a reason for that. I think flavour text is extremely hard to write, and it needs to be written holistically. That is, you need to have a vision of the world you’re showing, the values of that world, the characters in that world, those characters need distinct perspectives, it’s so hard and you need to do it a lot and it needs to be done in a way that doesn’t make me cringe inside out.

There are three total cards I put flavour text on:

The flavour text on Virtue of the Silent is only there to keep the rules text from running into the power/toughness box. Rekindle the Past’s flavour isn’t even mine, it might be a quote from Hemingway. And the other one is uh, a joke about throwing things at fascists.

Art Source 7, 8, 9

I have made some assumptions about myself and the way I do things, and one of my favourite things to do as a designer is to make my assumptions then contrast them with the data I can compile. For example, I thought that I would have made not a lot of commons, but I would have probably made, predominantly, uncommons, because I really like uncommons.

Turns out, my data does not bear that out.

Of the cards I made in 2022, 62% were rares, 28% were uncommons, only 9% were commons, and I made a total of four Mythic Rares, which were basically statistically insignificant. I understand the low count of Mythic Rares; I don’t like the rarity and I only see it as being meaningful if you have super important impact in limited environments, or if it’s to serve some other purpose. Like, the four mythics I did design, I did because I was trying to replicate the rarities in a preconstructed commander deck.

What did stand out to me though is that man, I didn’t make nearly enough commons? Which was equally strange, because I kind of thought ‘surely I do commons, they’re useful and workhorse and they have a lot of interesting space,’ but nope. Turns out no, I didn’t bother at all. It’s even more interesting as we see the complexity, word count, and power level commons are allowed these days.

But okay, what about colours? Well, time to crunch those numbers, and see how many cards of each colour I made. My assumption up top was that I probably biased toward Green cards, with blue and black secondarily. How’d that look?

I was shocked. Apparently, the most common colour I made cards for was red, secondarily white. And I thought that yeah, I did a bunch of Boros cards in one month, but that shouldn’t be enough to distort all the other free-wheeling months! And to see black, one of the cards I expected to be jockeying for first place down at the bottom? Real surprising.

These stats are part of how I decided to approach custom magic cards in 2023. See, I got thinking: Why not do something with structure? I did something like that in 2022; I made a month about focusing on a preconstructed deck, built everything I could that fit the theme, then looked at what cards were missing, and at what points in the mana curve. That led to the 5-colour spirit decks.

Structure is fun! Structure presents something to build around, and when you have to build around things, you can get creative trying to work around those limitations. With that in mind, I decided I would try something different, with a different structure in 2023.

What kind of structure am I going to use in 2023?

Oh, you’ll find out.

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