On Magic and Models 5

A Magic the Gathering deck

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“As we’ve talked before [<link; medium read], I’ve turned Magic [the Gathering] into a complex mental model. So it has practical application.”

“Can you give an example?”

“One of the things I love about Magic is its modularity. This is an essential feature of the Magic-model.

Structurally, Magic can be broken down into two phases: deck-building and play.

Think of Poker. You have a fixed deck of cards, which are shuffled together, and cards are extracted from it in random order according to a specific set of rules.

Unlike Poker, decks in Magic are customizable. Magic cards can be combined in a myriad ways.

The Designer that I am, I’m constantly optimizing the many systems of my life. In fact I think of optimization itself as a system to optimize.

A (not that long a) while ago, I asked myself:

How can I optimize Optimization?

The answer opened up a beautiful design-space: Magic.

What if I created physical optimization cards, similar to Magic cards?

I started playing with the idea, did a little prototype, and loved it. So I started building on it, optimizing with each iteration.

Magic has a number of card types distinguishing different types of spells (creatures, instants, sorceries, enchantments, and artifacts). At some point I asked myself:

What if I created different types of cards?

I tested it, and loved it.”

“What types of cards did you create so far?”

Optimization cards – How can you optimize x ?
Implementation cards – How can you implement x ?
Questioning cards – various questions

Learning cards – refreshers on the things I’ve learned
Priming cards – cards with a priming effect

What’s beautiful about the system is that, since all the cards have the same size, they can be combined to form decks, which allows for deck-building.

Like this:

They’re not as as pretty as Magic cards, but they get the job done, and are a joy to play with.”

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About Dani Trusca

Life-Artist, Thinker, Mover (Traceur)

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