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By: Lord Erman, Nafiz Erman
Apr 24 2007 10:17pm
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by Nafiz Erman

Episode VIII: "Pimp My Card"

Welcome dear readers to the 8th edition of Rogue Play, "Pimp My Card". In my previous article I assumed the role of an Orzhov Pontiff and I questioned your faith. This time I'll do something similar; I'll be your XZIBIT this time! Oh yes, this will be so much fun. You will make a wish and I'll help you to make it come true. No decks or deck strategies this time; this time we will have fun fun fun and fun.

Let's get started, shall we?

Do you think that some of the existing cards in Magic could have been done better? Do you also think that after seeing the new cards of a new set, that there is something missing in the set and you happen to know what that is? Do you also dream of something, that Wizards of the Coast never ever dreamed of before? Or in much more simple words; do you have any original card ideas? Yes? Good. Now I will show you how those dreams can come true such as this one:

A killer card for sure! So you get excited and want to make your own cards. Okay fine, that was my intention. Follow the steps below and you'll have your own cards.


First of all, you have to have the appropriate program for doing this. Click here and get it! It is the ultimate program for designing your own cards. If you already have it or want to skip this part, click here.

I cannot show/teach you each and every aspect of it because it would take too much space here. But it is a very simple program and I believe after a few experiments, you'll find out how to use it. Nevetheless I want to highlight some of the important things about it.

First you have to create a name for you set. You can do that by clicking "New" and saving the file (even though it is empty) under a name such as "puremtgo". The "Set info" button is where you make some of the fundemental changes about the set such as border colour, set symbol, automated card numbers etc.

Style is where you decide how your cards will look. Modern style or old style? This is also the place where you tell the program that you want to make a split card. Also, if you want to use guild mana symbols, you can adjust it from here. Unless you don't do that, you will not be able to make the guild mana symbols. Here is a fun card:

Once you finish your card, click the save button. To make the second card in the set, do not click the "New" button for that button is only used for creating new sets not cards. You have to click the green plus button 3rd from right. This way you will open a new empty card which will be your second card in the set. The red X button is for deleting a card in the set.

This is how an empty card looks like:

Upper left corner is for the tombstone symbol in case you want to create cards with buyback. Name, mana cost, card type are obvious. By left clicking on the set symbol, you can decide whether it's a common or an uncommon or a rare. By double clicking on the white space where we should have art, you add... uhm... art!

You see a horizontal line on the rules text box. The upper part of it is for the card's rules text and the below part is for flavor text. The square box you see there is for mana symbols in cases of lands and guild symbols if you want to add them. When you are on the rules box, press TAB to have access to that square in the middle. Then press SPACE and a menu opens. From there, you can make your decisions.

There are also P/T box, art designer's name box and collectors info box at the bottom. 

One very important note: You must hold SHIFT to type mana symbols in the rules box section. Also for typing guild mana symbols, you have to type for example this: W/U. This will get you the Azorius mana. But pay attention how you type it. It is W/U not U/W. If you type U/W you'll get nothing. Just remember that while typing guild mana symbols.

 Actually this is pretty much it about the program. As I said, it is an easy program and after a few experiments, you will have no difficulties in using it.


What good is a Magic card without art? So you have to find art for your cards. You can start searching for art by typing "fantasy-art" on google.com. There are so many great websites about fantasy art, so you will definately find one suitable for your dream card.

But please make sure to name the artist. And if the art says "you cannot use this", then it would be a better idea not to use it. Also do not use arts saying "Copyright by XYZ Company". Let's be safe.

However, from my own experience I can tell you that even if you don't have any particular ideas for a card, those great arts of those great artists will help you get the inspiration you need. You see an art and all of a sudden you have it! So even if you don't have that many great ideas, keep searching for great art nevertheless. Eventually you'll come accross an art which will lead you to the next big bomb that will be the one of the best cards in Magic's history!


This is one of the most important parts of designing a card. So let's say that you want to create a card which let's you put 5 saproling tokens into play. Unfortunately it is not as easy as saying "Put 5 saproling tokens into play". There are rules. The appropriate way of saying that is "Put five 1/1 green Saproling creature tokens into play". But how will you know that?

Actually it is easy; use the Gatherer! Type "saproling" in the "Enter a search term" box and then choose only "Search for rules text". This way the Gatherer will display the cards with the term "saproling" in their rules text. Then you'll see Bramble Elemental there from Ravnica: City of Guilds set and you can simply copy the wording on it to your card.

If it is a little bit more complicated than that, then I suggest you to ask an Adept about it (if you can't be sure if you did it right on your own of course). When you are online, go to "Game Help" and then select "Rules Help". There is always an Adept there, who is willing to help you. He can answer your rules and/or wording questions (this is what I do at least).

There are also other little things you have know when designing your cards. For example that saproling card above says "Five" whereas a direct damage card would say "5". These kind of things are also very important.


So you don't have the imagination to come up with cool fantasy names like Teysa, Juzam, Ertai or Urza. No problem, use a fantasy name generator! You can search for that on google.com too. This is also how I create names for my cards. Instead of thinking for hours to come up with something "catchy", I use a fantasy name generator and voila; I have it in seconds.


Now you know every technical detail necessary to create a card. There is only one final thing left; creating the card. Of course there is no way to teach one how to come up with cool and original ideas. That is a gift. And the most gifted ones among Magic players are already creating the cards we play (a.k.a. R&D at Wizards of the Coast).

But this doesn't mean that we, the less gifted ones, cannot create cards for fun. Of course we can. If you already have great ideas you don't need any advise. But if you don't, I might have a few suggestions for you:

1- As I already mentioned, search for art. Art on its own is a great inspiration.
2- Try copying the existing cards. For example take Last Gasp and try to make it better. If not better, try to make it more appealing. Make something similar but yet different. This way, you won't have to think about new ideas but still get the fun of making custom cards.
3- Say things differently. We already have Lava Axe saying "CARDNAME deals 5 damage to target player". Isn't there another way of saying the same thing with different words or in a different way? Try to find it.
4- Change the colours of existing cards; colourshift them. White gains life and black gains life as well, so why not make a black Venerable Monk?
5- Change the card type. Make a creature saying "When CARDNAME comes into play add R to your mana pool for each Goblin in play". This way Brightstone Ritual will turn into a creature. We don't have such a card, so it will be different.

Well, this is pretty much it. I hope I was succesful in luring you into the dreamland of Custom Cards&Sets. But before I say goodbye, I will show you a small number of cards from my own collection. I hope you like them.

MY CUSTOM SET - "Conquest of Aldold"

This is the name of the set I was working on since months. I just finished it a few days ago and you may consider this as a preview. The set contains 303 cards. There are some other details about it but let's skip that part. I will show you 2 cards of each colour. Let's begin with green.




The elvish princess protects her people. I choose black for opponents turn because black has many nasty "destroy target creature" sorceries. And blue is good at making unpleasant surprises, so blue was an obvious choice for my turn.


This may not look as much at first but green in "Conquest of Aldold" has a lot to do with Elvish Scout tokens. There are so many other cool token generators, pumps and more. This guy happens to be their leader.
Considering he has regeneration and that not many colours can overcome this ability, you may say that in a few turns your side of the table will be swarming with Elvish Scout tokens.



I just love this card. It is something in between Mogg Fanatic and a walking Volcanic Hammer. Overpowered for a common? Perhaps. But I just love it.The art and the flavor text perfectly fits in. One of my "above avarage" cards for sure.


Before you say "Boooo", I advise you to re-read it. I was toying with some of the existing keywords in Magic and this is my version of Echo.
Normally when a creature with Echo comes into play it does something awesome like Avalanche Riders. Or some more balanced cards like Mogg War Marshal do less awesome things when they enter play and when they leave play. My version fills the gap. 
To get the benefit of the card, you just have to wait one turn, then pay the Echo cost of it and only then you can use its ability. In this case it is direct damage to flyers. 
If you can deal 2 damage for 2 mana via Goblin Skycutter, then 4 damage for 4 mana is perfectly well balanced.




The keyword Vanishing is a perfect one for werewolfs. When it is full moon they turn into a monster but when it ends they just... vanish! 
My werewolf is the new generation of Isamaru, Hound of Konda as you can see but a different one. Your opponents cannot target it but it won't stay on table forever.


For many years, Nevinyrral's Disk was a staple in all black decks. And Nevinyrral was a necromancer himself. And here is my version of it. I think it is a well balanced card. It is slow but in return it is safe from enemy spells.




Blue in "Conquest of Aldold" cares a lot about time and timing. So no more cheap combat tricks or nasty end of turn step surprises for no price. 
But you can see its true power against "draw&go" style control decks. This card can be truely devastating against them.


What good is blue without rogues? And this one is a real rogue. It takes advantage of blue's allied colours in a pure blue-ish way. And flavor text explains that perfectly.




Now this is some treason! You are fighting a necromancer and play with protection from black creatures and all of a sudden this guy shows up on the other side of the table and starts ruining your plans. Sentenced to death on sight.
About the names on the card; Aldold is the land of the paladins and the lady you see on the card is called Dabila, Duchess of Cuyx and she is a mean black legendary vampire as you may have guessed.


 Now there are several things about this card.
1- The creature type Paladin. It is a new one. And no, it is not Human Paladin. It is Paladin. As in the D&D games. Lawful Good characters. They are not ordinary humans and therefore they have a creature type of their own.
2- The new keyword Valour. I must admit that the inspiration for it came from Paladin of Prahv. This keyword is Paladins only. 
3- The card itself in general is a Tivadar of Thorn variant. But better in my opinion. The targets? Well, Jaya Ballard, Task Mage, Niv-Mizzet, the Firemind, Numot, the Devastator, Radha, Heir to Keld, Razia, Boros Archangel are only some of them (in standard at least). And no, I didn't give it protection from red or first strike, because I thought that it would be too much.
4- In extended, Well of Lost Dreams would have been sick with Paladins.
EDIT: Just saw that WOTC came up with a similar keyword called Lifelink. Almost the same as Valour.



Very simple; the top half of your deck goes to your graveyard along with your hand and then Dralnu, Lich Lord and Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir comes into play and Spell Burst and one other counter of your choice goes to your hand. Hmm...


This is the first card I designed for my set. I always dreamed of a creature that doesn't die to Wrath of God and here it is; ME!





Total mayhem, chaos, death... No creature is safe while this one is on table.


A good sideboard card. You may never know when this might come in handy. But in my "Conquest of Aldold" set, this card is devastating against those white Paladin decks that gain life like crazy.





 Well, the Ravnica signets won't be with us forever, will they? So we need something like this.


A few notes about this card:
1- Even though the creature type Pirate exists, it is one of those rarely used and in my opinion somehow underestimated creature types. But even alone the word "Pirate" is an inspiration on its own. You can create many great cards about them. And I tried to fill that void. In my set, blue has a lot of pirates. And they are cool!
2- Why a land? Because as the flavor text says, they hide in that harbour. They are safe there. So therefore I choose a land for this ability.

Well, this is all of what I will show you from my own set. If you want to see more of my custom set click here.

Okay dear readers, one other edition of Rogue Play draws to end. But this wasen't a common edition, so we may say a Special Edition. It is a great feeling to look at a card that you've been dreaming of since years. I strongly advise you to start making your own Custom Cards if you haven't already started. As I said at the beginning; it is fun fun fun and fun!

But before I go, say hello to the archmage once again...

Thanks for reading.

Take Care
Nafiz ERMAN, a.k.a. Lord Erman

Just a Thought: Maybe we should have a special place in our forums for Custom Cards&Sets just as some of the other websites have. We can run our own "Create a Card" contests and see how crazy some of us are! :)))
And a Reminder: Don't forget to click here and see more of my set. Thanks!


Fantastic Article by The Pink Floyd (Unregistered) (not verified) at Fri, 11/02/2007 - 09:04
The Pink Floyd (Unregistered)'s picture

Great article on a subject I hope to have a go at.

Thanks for taking the time to write it. 


Interesting... by Kirisgat at Thu, 09/06/2007 - 09:21
Kirisgat's picture

They're interesting... But the flavor texts could use some work.

Wording isn't perfect either, but hey - I don't play anymore.

I just make cards with MTG Set Editor. What's with the font?

Isn't it supposed to be MATRIX? O_o 

by mtgbaron at Fri, 07/06/2007 - 15:38
mtgbaron's picture

cool cards i like that art for your card very cool!

WOOT! by Lythand at Fri, 04/27/2007 - 22:37
Lythand's picture

I love MSE. I recently found it about 3 weeks ago and already made some of my own cards for my casual games.

Just so you know there already is a Hatred card.

Awesome article!

by thescale99 at Fri, 04/27/2007 - 08:52
thescale99's picture

This is one of the coolest articles yet. Ive been tooling around with that program for two straight days. Great stuff!

wow by AirStriker (Unregistered) (not verified) at Wed, 04/25/2007 - 08:42
AirStriker (Unregistered)'s picture

Really inspirational, ive been watning to make my own set of cards for year's, but the tast of using photoshop to do it all was too daunting, with the programmes you listed, its gonna be very fun...

Brilliant Article and i love some of your previews.

Great Article.. Very different by mtgotraders at Wed, 04/25/2007 - 10:38
mtgotraders's picture

I always just thought people did these in photoshop and had no idea there was a program that does it for you. Man that makes it soo much easier. Once the forums are working we will def have to have a contest.

amazing by hamtastic at Wed, 04/25/2007 - 11:16
hamtastic's picture

This was really cool! A great primer for making your own card sets. Thaks!

Over-powered? by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Wed, 04/25/2007 - 12:31
Anonymous (Unregistered)'s picture

I think your set has need been though the design team yet. Many of your cards seem overpowered. The goblin grenade, for example, is just a much more powerful mogg fanatic.

Hmm. by AJ_Impy at Wed, 04/25/2007 - 12:52
AJ_Impy's picture

A useful primer, and the concept is cool, but the cards themselves seem a bit oddly powered and costed. I'd recommend playtesting the set with a few friends and seeing how it plays. Also, there's already a Hatred: a popular Exodus finisher.

by Lord Erman at Wed, 04/25/2007 - 13:18
Lord Erman's picture

Thanks for the feedback guys, I really do appreciate it(as I always do). AJ, I just don't know how I missed that Hatred. Call mine Hatred-2, what can I say now :((. And yes, we should definately have a custom cards&sets contest in our forums. That would be so much fun.

Me Likes by Dreager_Ex at Wed, 04/25/2007 - 20:09
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I do have to point out though that having the cost of 0, remove a counter (or sacrifice) has been errated to just... remove a counter (or sacrifice) no need to put the 0 in there...

? on making your own cards by Anonymous (not verified) at Sun, 08/09/2009 - 08:24
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were can u get the blank magic cards ?

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