For the first test of the Great Designer Search 2, we had to write ten 250-350 word essays answering questions about the game.  Here were my thoughts on the questions.  I’ve also included my answers as spoilers.

1. Introduce yourself and explain why you are a good fit for this internship.

This was the standard first question.  I won’t bore you with my tooting of my own horn.  Let’s just get on to question 2.

2. You are instructed to move an ability from one color to another. This ability must be something used in every set (i.e. discard, direct damage, card drawing etc.). You may not choose an ability that has already been color shifted by R&D. What ability do you shift and to what color do you shift it? Explain why you would make that shift.

In the last Great Designer Search, they asked about what color countering should be moved to.  In this one, they decided to leave it more open ended.  This question was one of the easier questions for me to answer, as the mechanic that I wanted to change jumped almost immediately to mind.  Hopefully, the design team agrees.

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3. What block do you feel did the best job of integrating design with creative? What is one more thing that could have been done to make it even better?

One thing that was interesting to me was the extreme direction this question took.  In GDS1, we were asked to describe the biggest problem with Ravnica (considered one of the best blocks at the time), and the best part of Kamigawa (considered one of the worst blocks at the time).  In those two questions, I was forced to pull to the middle; I had to answer about the worst of the best and about the best of the worst.

In this question, I was asked to go the opposite direction.  “What block was the best, and how would you have made it better.”  Fortunately, the first part of this answer jumped out at me right away.  I thanked my lucky stars that I had read the novels for this block, too, as that deep knowledge informed my choice for the improvement.

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4. R&D has recently been looking at rules in the game that aren’t pulling their weight. If you had to remove an existing rule from the game for not being worth its inclusion, what would it be?

At this point, I was starting to feel that these questions were written for me.  There is a rules change that happened at the beginning of 2010 that completely ruined a deck I tested a long time ago.  I thought the change was pointless, and really constrained the design space of the game.  Again, this question took no time to answer.

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5. Name a card currently in Standard that, from a design standpoint, should not have been printed. What is the card and why shouldn’t we have printed it?

This one took a bit more research than the others.  My initial thought was to look at cards on both extremes.  That is, cards that were too good, and cards that were not good at all.  It was when I was searching through the latter of the two that I stumbled across an M11 card that defecated the design rules for the color pie.

My biggest problem on this one was constraining my answer to 350 words.  I could have probably written 1,000, complete with annotated footnotes.

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6. What do you think design can do to best make the game accessible to newer players?

In GDS1, when asked what design could do better, I answered that it was having a problem getting the word out.  I started to answer this question that way, but I soon realized that this wasn’t exactly something that design could control.  I decided to fall back on my training in educational technology, and get into teacher mode.

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7. What do you think design can do to best make the game attractive to experienced players?

This one was tough for me because maintaining experienced players is something that I believe design does very well.  I had to think back to my past, about how I felt when I took my initial hiatus, and what could have been done to alleviate those concerns.

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8. Of all the mechanics currently in Extended, which one is the best designed? Explain why.

Not much to say, here.  This one was fairly easy, as the mechanic jumped out at me right away.  I love scalable cards, and this mechanic is a perfect fit into that scalability.

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9. Of all the mechanics currently in Extended, which one is the worst designed? Explain why.

After reading question 8, I could augur what was going to be asked in this question.  While 8 was easy, this question was probably the hardest question for me to answer on the test.  The reason for this is that the design team is actually very good at vetting new mechanics.  Occasionally a bad one, like affinity, will slip by, but the days of banding and islandhome are far behind us.

For this question, I decided to settle in on the mechanics that made the least sense and were the least consistent.  When I took that approach, the worst mechanic was much easier to find.

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10. Choose a plane to revisit other than Dominaria or Mirrodin. What is a mechanical twist we could add if we revisit this plane?

This was my dream question.  In fact, I found it slightly ironic that Mark Rosewater joked about “Homelands 2″ during the sequel-week article that announced GDS2.  If there was ever a set that I wanted to revisit, Homelands is it.

If I get to the third test, I am going to build my theme around my answer to this question.

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Update: I received an e-mail today.  I made it to Round 2.  I can’t wait for the test on Wednesday!