GDS Puzzle-making and Graphics Editing Tips

This page is intended to offer graphic editing suggestions for designing your Great Designer Search puzzle(s).

What software should I use?

  • If you use a graphic editing program like GIMP, Photoshop, or Pixlr, download one of the two background images (without graveyard // with graveyard). You can even use Paint, though it may not allow you to reposition cards very easily.
  • You also may find it convenient to edit in presentation software like Google Slides, as it is easy to use and we have the templates available for it as well (without graveyard // with graveyard). To use these you will have to first save them to your own Google account or you will not be able to edit them. Just make sure to save the final product as a JPG. (File -> Download as -> JPEG, current slide.) You can also download these templates file and edit them in Microsoft Powerpoint.
  • Add cards (see below for how-to) to the appropriate template and enter in any requires extra notes, the opponent’s life total, and your name and puzzle difficulty (basically which round we are in: Proto-puzzle, Uncommon, Rare, or Mythic).
  • If you need counters or dice, you can use our dice graphics here (ZIP file).

How do I download card images?

  • We recommend using Scryfall. Simply search for the card you want, and download the PNG image (as per below) of it which you can then import into the program you are using for editing.

Puzzle Complexity Guides (click headings below to expand)

Proto-Puzzle:

  • Proto-puzzle Guidelines
    1. Other than basic lands or dual lands, the puzzle may have no greater than seven total cards of any type combined between your hand, your battlefield, the opponent’s battlefield, and the graveyard (if applicable).
    2. In addition to that, you may have up to five lands that are either Basic lands, “Shock” lands, or Guild gates. Any additional lands subtract from your card total.
    3. Ideally, proto-puzzles should focus on a single interaction, (such as Deathtouch + Trample, for example), rather than several tricky steps.
    4. Do not worry about including flavour, realism, or distraction angles.
  • Proto-puzzle Example + Solution

    1. Cast Giant Spectacle on Gaea’s Protector.
    2. Cast Gift of Strength on your opponent’s Ancient Brontodon to give it reach.
    3. Attack with everything! Because Gaea’s Protector must be blocked if able, and has Menace, and there are two creatures that are capable of blocking it, both must.
    4. As a result, only the Saproling can block Ghalta, and you trample over for 11!

Uncommon Puzzle:

  • Uncommon puzzle guidelines
    1. Other than basic lands or dual lands, the puzzle may have no greater than ten total cards of any type combined between your hand, your battlefield, your graveyard, and the opponent’s battlefield.
    2. In addition to that, you may have up to six lands that are either Basic lands, “Shock” lands, or Guild gates. Any additional lands subtract from your card total.
    3. Need more blockers? You may use additional Standard-legal tokens that do not count against your card total.
    4. The solution should involve no more than four meaningful steps and be solvable without advanced rules knowledge or stack tricks.
  • Uncommon Puzzle Example + Solution

    1. Cast Regisaur Alpha, make a 3/3 Dinosaur token with trample (and haste thanks to the Alpha.)
    2. Use Huatli’s 0 ability to make a 3/3 Dinosaur token with trample (and haste thanks to the Alpha.)
    3. Attack with your three 3/3s and your 0/3, then cast Dinosaur Stampede, making them into three 5/3s and an 2/3.
    4. Your opponent has two 4-toughness creatures, which are most effective here by blocking two of the 5/3s and soaking up 4 trample damage each. Still, that reduces 17 attacking power just down to 9, which is enough to defeat them. Your opponent’s Sun-Crowned Hunters triggers are on the stack ready to defeat you, but you win before they resolve!

Rare puzzle:

  • Rare puzzle guidelines
    1. Other than basic lands or dual lands, the puzzle may have no greater than twelve total cards of any type combined between your hand, your battlefield, your graveyard, and the opponent’s battlefield.
    2. In addition to that, you may have up to eight lands that are either Basic lands, “Shock” lands, or Guild gates. Any additional lands subtract from your card total.
    3. Need more blockers? You may use additional Standard-legal tokens that do not count against your card total.
    4. The solution should involve no more than six meaningful steps and involve some level of complex interactions or counter-intuitive card use.
  • Rare Puzzle Example + Solution

    1. Cast Hedron Archive.
    2. Cast Metalwork Colossus for 0 mana, since you control a total of 11 converted mana cost worth of noncreature artifacts.
    3. Use two remaining lands to activate Mirage Mirror, targeting Metalwork Colossus.
    4. Before that resolves, use two mana from Hedron Archive to activate Mirage Mirror again, targeting Multiform Wonder.
    5. Let the Wonder copying resolve, but before the Colossus copying does, use the Mirrored Multiform Wonder’s ability to spend your one energy to give it flying.
    6. Then let the Colossus copying resolve, and get this, it keeps the flying. (Copiable traits are what’s printed on the card. The Wonder’s temporarily flying ability belongs to the Mirror all turn long, regardless of what else it becomes.)
    7. The hard part’s over. Now just swing for 10.

Mythic puzzle:

  • Mythic puzzle guidelines
    1. Mythic puzzles have no card total limit or restrictions on solution complexity! Just make sure the puzzle is legible and not over-crowded. And remember, more stuff is not necessarily a better puzzle!
  • Mythic Puzzle Example + Solution

    1. Tap all four lands (4 mana)
    2. Cast Grand Warlord Radha (0)
    3. Attack with all but Novice Knight, get 5 mana in any combination of R and G from Radha (5)
    4. Cast Status on Judith (4)
    5. Before blocks, sacrifice Novice Knight to Pitiless Pontiff. Elenda gets two +1 counters. Target Shalai and Radha with Judith’s triggers such that Shalai’s will resolve first, killing both due to deathtouch. Elenda gets two more +1 counters. (3)
    6. When Radha dies, we get two more Judith triggers. Target Rakdos and deal 1 to the opponent, Elenda gets another +2 and is now a 8/7.
    7. Attack. Elenda must be blocked by Humongulus or else you can deal overkill. Damage happens, hit for 3 (Judith), 3 (Pontiff), and 3 (Teysa) for 9, total damage so far 10, taking them down to 5.
    8. Sacrifice Elenda. Make a horde of irrelevant Vampires. Target the opponent with both Judith triggers, taking them down to 3. (2 mana)
    9. Sacrifice Teysa. Target the opponent with both Judith triggers, taking them down to 1. (1 mana)
    10. Sacrifice Judith, target the opponent with the one trigger to finish them off. (0 mana)

If there’s anything we can help with, email us at mtgpuzzles@gmail.com or Tweet at us at @mtgpuzzles