King of Cards: A Magic The Gathering Story

The Project

Magic the Gathering is one of the world’s most popular trading card games. It incorporates the strategy of other card games with solid world building and breathtaking fantasy artwork. The main inspiration for this project was the admittedly predatory pack system. Magic cards are ranked by rarity, with “common” cards typically being less valuable or playable than “rare” or “mythic rare” cards. Since each card pack has 10 commons, 3 uncommons, and 1 rare, that means there are probably a bunch of “bad” cards that are never going to be used! The detail that goes into these cards is still amazing, and is definitely worth upcycling. The practice of bedazzling cards like this is already common in the community, so maybe I could do something similar.

The idea is to laser cut these cards and stack them on top of each other, combining the artwork of different cards into entirely new creations. This would blend different iconic artistic styles as well as give the resulting cards a cool 3D effect. The rules text of different cards could even be combined with others to create new amalgamations that you could be played in the game.

The Problems

  • These cards are tiny, will I be able to align them enough?
  • The cuts will be complex, with the laser be precise enough?
  • The material of the cards is cardboard and adhesive. Will they pass a burn test, and will the cuts leave noticeable burn marks?
  • I haven’t made any laser cutting templates, how difficult will that be?

These are some real problems, and if any of these problems make the idea unfeasible then I’ll likely switch to cutting the cards by hand with an xacto knife. If that proves to be hard… well, I guess it’s time to reevaluate my decisions.

What Have I Done?

I’m almost to the “doing stuff” phase of the project. I have test templates that will determine the difficulty of the problems above, and then several designs if those succeed. One of my friends works in the ATLAS BTU lab, so I’m getting her help with everything to do with the laser cutting. I’ve also reached out to the CU Magic club to see if I can get some donations of cards. With some of my design ideas, I might have to get my hands on specific cards but I have plenty of time to either trade for them or buy them online.

Further Musings

The hallmark aspect of Magic is it’s five color system, otherwise known as the color pie. Each color and combination of colors has its own unique identity which is reflected in gameplay. For instance, Blue tends to want to control the board, countering your opponent’s plays and denying them resources. On the other hand red is much more aggressive, usually having cards that deal direct damage or attack quickly before your opponent has a chance to respond. However, the more colors you decide to play in your deck the more difficult and inconsistent it will be to gather the resources that will allow you to use those cards. Because of this I think that one potential use of this project is with five color cards. They are especially rare currently only having 25 unique cards printed, and rightly so because they have to represent each of the five color identities. Cutting this card with five others that are uniquely “their color” would be flavorful in the context of game design.


A claw holds five swirling colored orbs

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