Alas, I was denied, and I now see why. On the Great Designer Search 2 multiple choice exam, I got 39 out of 50.  The cutoff was 44, so I wasn’t even close.  Still, I feel pretty good, as five of the questions that I missed were the 5 most missed questions.  Here are the questions, each of which is followed by two parts: my analysis and the actual answers.  If you wish, you can go to the Wizards of the Coast site to see how well you can do.

I initially tried to post all of the answers, but I will let you go to the Wizards site for that.  Here was my analysis of the questions that I missed:

6) Design often makes creatures that have flash and “enters the battlefield” triggered abilities like Deflecting Mage. Which of the following abilities would we least likely pair with flash?

a) Counter target spell.
b) The next time target instant or sorcery spell would deal damage, it deals double that damage instead.
c) CARDNAME deals 2 damage to target attacking or blocking creature.
d) Prevent all combat damage that would be dealt this turn.
e) Target creature gets +3/+3 until end of turn.

Correct Answer: E

My Answer: B

Analysis:  When I answered this question, I had two general problems.  First, I was thinking like a player, and not a designer.  This lead me to believe that all of the abilities made sense with flash, as they would all be nice “trap” cards to play.  Second, I was hung up on the wording for answer B.  The NEXT time an instant or sorcery does damage?  If you could see my printout, you would see a little note that says “WTF does that even mean?”  I remember thinking that it made no sense that an instant or sorcery would deal damage more than once, and my mind segregated this ability from the card in question; that is, a card with Flash.  I should have thought, “which of these cards won’t work with Flash?”  Had I taken that approach, I probably would have nailed this one.  Definite lesson learned.

I don’t feel too bad, though; according to the statistics, less than 10% of the participants got this question right.

Questions 22–24 refer to the following card:

Annoying Bell
Annoying Bell enters the battlefield with three charge counters on it.
T, Remove a charge counter from Annoying Bell: Target player puts the top two cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard.

22) In an artifact block such as Mirrodin or Scars of Mirrodin, which rarity is most appropriate for this card?

a) common
b) uncommon
c) rare
d) mythic rare

Correct Answer: A

My Answer: B

Analysis: This one was just a general ignorance of the nature of artifact blocks.  From this answer, one can tell that I was out of the game during the days of Mirrodin.  I knew that the answer had to be something less than rare (where a proper Millstone would normally sit).  I thought it would only go down one notch, but I now see why the three-use limit takes it down a notch further.

25) Which of the following is true about planeswalker design?

a) A planeswalker must have exactly three abilities.
b) A planeswalker cannot activate its “ultimate” ability on the turn it is cast.
c) A planeswalker must have at least one ability that adds loyalty counters and one ability that removes them.
d) A planeswalker must have a subtype that isn’t shared by any other card.
e) A planeswalker cannot have any card types other than planeswalker.

Correct Answer: E

My Answer: C

Analysis: This is one where I tend to disagree, and one where they definitely nailed the people that researched the web-site for answers rather than the printed cards.  Devin Low explained and later reiterated the 19 principles of planeswalker design, and Principle 10 states “Each one has a +N ability, a -N ability, and a -BIG N ‘Ultimate’ ability.”  I knew that Sarkhan the Mad didn’t have a +N ability, but that one bending of the rules doesn’t negate the principle of Planeswalker design.

Yes, there is an explanation on why Tezzeret the Seeker isn’t an artifact, but that sounds much more like a matter of taste and style than a design rule.  Of course, I must accept that my answer is wrong (and it’s hard to disagree with the 80+% that chose E as their answer), but I still think C was a more correct answer.

27) If Magic 2012 needed to take an uncommon white card from Magic 2011 and reprint it as a common, which of the following cards is R&D most likely to choose?

a) Ajani’s Pridemate
b) Celestial Purge
c) Roc Egg
d) War Priest of Thune
e) White Knight

Correct Answer: D

My Answer: B

Analysis:  I can’t really justify this answer.  I was thinking about the simplicity of the Celestial Purge, but I should have known that color-hosers didn’t belong at common.  Also, a creature with such a simple ability as War Priest of Thune was scaled and simplified well enough for common.

29) Which of the following enchantments are we least likely to print?

a) All creatures with changeling have flying.
b) All creatures with echo have deathtouch.
c) All creatures with exalted have lifelink.
d) All creatures with infect have first strike.
e) All creatures with landfall have haste.

Correct Answer: E

My Answer: D

Analysis:  This was an outright guess.  I figured it would have something to do with the distinction between keywords and ability words; I even have a note on my sheet that says “Ability word vs keyword issue?  Research.”  Somehow, though, I think my research lead me to believe that there were two ability words among the answers, and not just one.  Either way, I absolutely deserved to miss this one.  It does make me feel better, though, to know that this was the second most missed question on the test.

31) Which of the following abilities is R&D most likely to put on a common creature in an upcoming set?

a) Tap: CARDNAME deals 1 damage to target creature or player.
b) Tap: Prevent the next 1 damage that would be dealt to target creature this turn.
c) Tap: Tap target creature.
d) Tap: Target creature gains first strike until end of turn.
e) Tap: Target creature gets +1/+1 until end of turn.

Correct Answer: C

My Answer: E

Analysis: Again, I was thinking like a player.  My mind was on power level, and not board complexity.  I was completely off base, and this was little more than a guess.  It gives me little solace to know that this was the 4th most missed question; I simply didn’t know.

33) “Each person’s life unfolds according to a pattern. Accepting this fact is the key to harmony.” Which color has this philosophy?

a) white
b) blue
c) black
d) red
e) green

Correct Answer: E

My Answer: A

Analysis:  I think I was tripped up by the use of the words “pattern” and “harmony.”  White seeks harmony, and seeks to have structure.  Even as I read it, I remembered thinking that I disliked the characterization of the term “unfold,” as it sounded too green (White would have said “each person’s life must conform to a pattern”).  Upon reflection and review of the answers, I now see why.  It WAS green.

That said, if you look at Mark Rosewater’s article on the philosophy of white, you probably would have noticed the following statement:

Each color’s philosophy is anchored in what it wants. Each color strives to make the world in the image it believes it should be. That said, what does white value most? Harmony.

Still, I should have known better.

38) Which of the following abilities is R&D least likely to put onto a green creature in an upcoming set?

a) All creatures able to block CARDNAME do so.
b) CARDNAME can’t be blocked except by two or more creatures.
c) [Mana]: CARDNAME gets +2/+2 until end of turn. Activate this ability only once each turn.
d) Vigilance
e) You may have CARDNAME assign its combat damage as though it weren’t blocked.

Correct Answer: B

My Answer: E

Analysis: I knew that this answer had to come down to B or E.  I also knew that the Goblin War Drums ability was found in green in a few instances, though it was predominantly red.  This was a case of me talking myself out of the correct answer.

44) According to R&D, what is the flanking mechanic’s biggest shortcoming from a design perspective? (See all creatures with flanking here.)

a) Flanking not working against other flankers wasn’t intuitive to many players and thus was often played incorrectly.
b) Flanking creatures were all conceived as humans riding horses, thus limiting the types of creatures R&D could design.
c) Flanking only worked on attacking and not on blocking, limiting the number of interactions it created.
d) Flanking was priced such that players didn’t actually pay anything extra for the flanking ability.
e) Flanking didn’t include a number, eliminating the ability to design future versions using increments greater than -1/-1.

Correct Answer: A

My Answer: E

Analysis: This was the third most missed question.  I felt that, from a design perspective, the lack of a number constrained design space, but I can definitely see Rosewater’s point abut the non-intuitive nature of the flanking-on-flanking interaction.

46) Which of the following cards is least a Johnny card?

a) Clone
b) Devastating Summons
c) Fauna Shaman
d) Mortician Beetle
e) Near-Death Experience

Correct Answer: B

My Answer: C

Analysis:  On this answer, more than any other, I believe that my answer was correct and the key’s was wrong.  In the post “Survival of the Fittest” age of Magic, Fauna Shaman is no longer a Johnny card; it is one of Spike’s utility cards.  The explanation that it enables quirky decks doesn’t fly.

I’m probably going to write an article about this (of course, given that I wrote this, it will probably never happen).  Here’s the main point:  Clearly, at the time that Necropotence was printed, it was a Johnny card.  Nobody knew how to use and abuse it, and the design team couldn’t have foreseen the havoc it would cause.  Now that it has been broken, however, and the community has “grokked” the interaction, it is a solid utility card.  Regardless of who the original Necropotence was designed for, any future 1-life for 1-card spell, even if it is a creature, is a Spike card.

With that in mind, the most recent Magic Show discussed the fact that Survival of the Fittest is everywhere in Legacy. Half of the Top 8 deck in the last 3 SCG tournaments had the enchantment, and that is out of 5 in the top 16 in each.  In Rion Marmulstein’s Survival Ooze deck, it was actually sporting 8 of them, the other 4 being Fauna Shaman. The ability to tutor for creatures is a solid Spike ability.

I call this concept Psychographic Creep, and it is one of the causes of complexity creep.  Johnny cards, once broken and grokked, become Spike cards in their future iterations.

48) One of R&D’s ongoing concerns is board complexity. We’ve coined the term “virtual vanilla” to refer to a creature that, after the first turn it enters the battlefield, functions as a simple vanilla creature for purposes of evaluating the board state. (Avoid getting hung up on obscure combinations of cards that could make the card not function as a vanilla.)

Here are ten creatures:

How many of the ten creatures are virtual vanilla?

a) four
b) five
c) six
d) seven
e) eight

Correct Answer: D

My Answer: B

Analysis:  I knew that I missed this question very shortly after submitting my test, though for the wrong reason.  When I reviewed the test, I noticed that I listed Vulshok Berserker as a “No,” even though its only ability was haste.  I was tired at the time, and this was the last question I answered.  I must have glanced, seen a keyword, and moved on.  In any case, I would have missed it anyway because I didn’t consider the vanilla creature to also be “virtual vanilla.”  While the question was tricky (and the 5th most missed), I don’t think it was a trick question.