To cut a long story short, I ended up with a deck of 100 Magic cards, with 20 of each colour, all in opaque backed sleeves coloured to match the spell on the front, so white spells have white backs, red spells have red backs, and so on. The plan was to have a two-player game of Magic using a common deck split into a few piles, so you can choose which pile to draw from and get some control as to the colours you draw. To gain mana, you either play a card from your hand face down, or you discard one of the face down cards from a previous play, so each card can generate one mana of its colour, twice.
And to be clear here, I'm not trying to "fix" Magic, but the existing game provides a useful bit of scaffolding on which I can play with a mechanism. If I like it, it may become something new. (Apart from anything else, something I really want to try making is a two-player head-to-head game of some sort, and maybe this could be a start.)
|...One golden glance of what should be... (it's a kind of Magic).|
What we did discover was that being able to have some sort of control over the cards that you draw (choosing from three piles in our case) and being able to see what colour cards were coming up in each pile made for some interesting decisions. In Magic terms it meant that you were never mana starved, and it also meant that, as most of the cards in the deck were pretty stereotypical for their colours, you could to some degree go hunting for the type of spell you want. Plus a card draw was almost always helpful -- though not always in the way you wanted!
I noticed that the management of resources could sometimes get a bit confusing, when you are using cards for mana from your hand or from the table, but I think that is a fairly minor issue that could be dealt with later.
Overall, though, we both felt that there was something there in the card management and use, so I'll be having a bit of a think about ways to work with this in a game that isn't much like Magic. You never know, this could be the start of yet another new game...