Mark Rosewater

Mark Rosewater is the Head Designer of Magic, and has probably written more about designing cards than anyone else in the world in his Making Magic column.

  • Design 101 describes the common mistakes most novice designers make.

    Mistake 1: The Card Is Too Complicated
    Mistake 2: The Abilities on the Card Have No Synergy
    Mistake 3: The Card Ignores Basic Design Rules of Magic
    Mistake 4: The Card Doesn’t Work Within the Rules
    Mistake 5: The Card Is Undercosted, Overpowered, or Simply “Bah-roken”

  • Design 102 contains the things Mark feels Magic designers could do to get better.

    1: Know Magic History
    2: Play Magic
    3: Design a Lot of Cards
    4: Know What You Want
    5: Play With the Cards
    6: Have Other People Play With the Cards
    7: Give a Set Time to Breathe

  • Design 103 has some more advanced mistakes.

    Mistake 1: Making the Audience Do Something They Don’t Want To Do
    Mistake 2: Making the Audience Do Unnecessary Work
    Mistake 3: Don’t Put Things They Care About Out of Their Control
    Mistake 4: You Force The Players hand Too Much
    Mistake 5: Making Cards Match The Wrong Audience

  • Design 104 takes Dr. Roger von Oech’s “creator roles” to explore four more mistakes.

    The Explorer’s Mistake: “It Hasn’t Been Done” Is Not a Reason to Do Something
    The Artist’s Mistake: You Try to Be Too Literal
    The Judge’s Mistake: The Card is Awesome but Not For This Set
    The Warrior’s Mistake: You Can’t Fight For Everything

His Nuts and Bolts series go into explicit details about designing a set.

Rosewater also applied Dieter Ram’s Ten Principles for Good Design to Magic.

  • The Ten Principles of Good Design, Part 1
  • The Ten Principles of Good Design, Part 2

    1: Good design is innovative.
    2: Good design makes a product useful.
    3: Good design is aesthetic.
    4: Good design helps us to understand a product.
    5: Good design is unobtrusive.
    6: Good design is honest.
    7: Good design is durable.
    8: Good design is consequent to the last detail.
    9: Good design is concerned with the environment.
    1: Good design is as little design as possible.

Finally, these two articles cover issues of complexity, especially in commons.