Q: "I was just wondering how you decide which cards will become DCI promotional cards, such as Time Warp and Armageddon. Do you tend towards popular cards with no other premium (foil) version that will likely not be reprinted? Thanks!"
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
A: From Aaron Forsythe, Magic R&D:
"We do lots of different kinds of promo cards, Darren. The three most popular at this time are Friday Night Magic prizes, Magic Player Rewards prizes, and judge promos. Each of those has their own criteria as to what kind of cards we'll use.
"Friday Night Magic prizes are foil versions of commons and uncommons. We like to stick with cards that are Extended legal so that players will have opportunities to use their prize cards in sanctioned play if they so choose. The ideal FNM foil looks different than the original foil version of the card in some way beside the 'watermark' in the text box. For instance, we've been choosing prize cards that were not printed in the new (post-Eighth Edition) card face, such as Rancor (January's prize card), so that the prize Rancor stands out from older foil Rancors.
"Player Rewards promos used to be token cards, but we've made the switch to using textless spells recently, like Terror. Our criteria for those cards is that they're common or uncommon instants or sorceries that are Standard-legal. The more well-known a card is factors in, but we're willing to lower the bar a little on that requirement since the people that will be receiving these cards are very active in the tournament scene.
"The last set is what we call 'judge promos,' and that is where we pull out the big guns. The judge promos are foil versions of popular older cards (that are usually rare), and are sent to or handed out to DCI judges as a 'thank you' for all their hard work. These cards are chosen solely on their coolness factor, and whether or not any of them might be reprinted is not considered. (Some, like Phyrexian Negator, cannot be reprinted thanks to the Reserve List, which does, by the way, allow for special premium versions of cards on the list to be made.)"