Gavin Verhey brought on the set design lead for the Commander 2021 decks to discuss how the decks came to be on today’s episode of Good Morning Magic.
Verhey, the lead architect for the Commander decks, asked Bowen all about the design process and how things changed from vision design handoff to set design with his team. Bowen also talked about this was one of the first products where most of the playtesting and work was done via work at home due to the pandemic, offering new challenges for creating the decks.
Verhey then got Bowen to highlight some of the major ideas and changes each deck went through.
Lorehold offered a new challenge making the deck not strictly about combat and wanting the deck to have an archaeological feel. Osgir, the Reconstructor originally had a draw engine instead of its first power that gives creatures extra power, design took it away so that the card wasn’t a complete engine on its own in conjunction with the second ability.
Prismari was interesting because blue and red spells decks are common themes, but in a set that’s all about spells, they wanted to put a twist on the archetype. They used the idea that they could encourage casting the largest spells possible. Zaffai, Thunder Conductor previously had an ability that would allow you to find creatures from your deck for casting spells, but it was changed to emphasize bigger spells.
Quandrix brings a token deck that varies from traditional green/white or black/white token decks. Instead of going wide, the deck wants to make clone tokens of other players’ creatures and huge Fractal tokens.
Witherbloom went through a long journey and started as a lifegain deck, but it was actually gaining too much life. Set design implemented more life loss abilities to make sure games would end instead of lasting too long from gaining large amounts of life.
Political decks, like the Silverquill deck, are tough to make because they’re divisive in the community and tricky to balance with non-political designs. Breena went through many iterations and adjustments to balance the risk and reward for players drawing cards to grow your team.