Flavor Hits and Misses from Modern Horizons

As I write this, 188 cards have been previewed. If you are like me and use Mythic Spoilers to follow these, the last card to be previewed as of this writing is [scryfall]Soulherder[/scryfall].

But we are not here right now to talk about the powerlevel or usability of the cards, except when it affects how a card feels. I’m here to talk about how the cards evoke memories of old cards or themes.

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From Kickstarter: Loot

9c551d727b15f475c09a3c7ab821a45f_originalWhile browsing our IG feed I came across an card pack that looked interesting – it featured a magic sword with stats and art. Since I was brewing a new Dungeon World campaign (more about that later) it sparked my interested and found out it was a part of a Kickstarter campaign. Since we have been occasionally discussing with Aki and Ville about occasionally reviewing Kickstarters I thought this would be a great place to start.

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Underdark Without Nightvision #2

Spoiler Warning! Underdark Without Darkvision is a based on my experiences on playing Out of the Abyss campaign and will include a host of spoilers. Thread carefully!

IMG_2840Second session for my human ranger on his way Out of the Abyss was a bit different from the first session. Or for any other session I have played since high school for that matter. It was a series of random encounters of which only one dealt with something else than fighting the horrible monsters of the Underdark.

As there is not that much to tell about the session itself I think that this time I could discuss the nuances of the game. Which pretty much sum up into “Underdark without nightivision”.

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My Experiences on the Battle for Zendikar Prerelease

I just came home from my second prerelease event; this time it was Battle for Zendikar and at the first time I was at Magic: Origins prerelease. I had fun though I am suffering from a never-ending flu. As I only have experience on these two sanctioned events I cannot help but to compare the two. I might add that I have nowhere near as much experience on Magic: the Gathering as Aki has and I take the whole game anyway pretty differently.

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Thoughts on Planeswalkers

I don’t know why (probably because we had a short discussion on a planeswalkers-based AW hack in our Guild forums), but I’ve been thinking about various things regarding Planeswalkers. You know, stuff I probably shouldn’t think about too deeply, but I do.

Its possible that R&D (especially the creative) has put some thought into these subjects and probably has answers as well, but I didn’t do my research, so I don’t know. This is just a bunch of random thoughts like most of my posts.

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Exiled: Planeswalkers and Activation Costs

Exiled is my own MtG-set I’ve been working on for a while. You know, just for the heck of it. Its taken a step or few back, because I had a mechanic called adaptive, which resembled monstrosity from Theros quite a lot. I’m not sure I want to have that and if I take it away it’ll set me back a whole mechanic.

Well, here I am talking about it. I haven’t talked about it at all on this blog, but some guild members will be somewhat familiar with the background. I probably should talk about it here at some point. Anyhow, today I’ll talk about my Planeswalkers.

According to MaRo, the activation costs are based partly on how happy the planeswalker in question is to do it and how much energy they need to expend. Basically, they are your friends, and they are glad to help you, but they have their limits.

Now, apparently, based on this, we tell a lot about the planeswalkers just based on their abilities. So, based on this, Jace really, really liked imparting information and having discussions (or something), but used to want to see that everyone gets their share. His tastes have since evolved somewhat.

  • Beleren has +2 Each player draws a card, and -1 Target player draws a card
  • Mindsculptor has 0 costing Brainstorm
  • Memory Adept has +1 draw a card, mill a card, and at -7 any number of target players draw 20 cards
  • Architect of Thought has his mini-Fact or Fiction at -2

Jace’s attitude towards messing with peoples brain has also evolved:

  • Beleren would mill target player by twenty cards, but only with -10.
  • Mindsculptor would get rid of the whole library at -12, leaving the player scrambling for sanity (and some people seem to think Jace is the good guy), or have fun just looking at what’s close to the surface and maybe getting rid of it (+2)
  • Memory Adept would mill ten and think nothing of it (0)
  • Architect of Thought will dive into the mind of all opponents and extract the best information there, but won’t do it happily (-8)

Ok, so based on this, what if my white planeswalker is basically optimistic and friendly gal, who enjoys helping her friends, whereas the black planeswalker is looking out for herself and only works with the player for her own purposes.

So, basically our white planeswalker will only do stuff which ups her loyalty, the black one will only do stuff which lessens her loyalty.

Andara Nula 1WW
Planeswalker – Andara
+1: You gain 2 life
+1: Target creature gains first strike until your next turn
+1: Andara Nula gains a loyalty counter for each other planeswalker in play
Loyalty 3

Karana the Hatemonger 1BB
Planeswalker – Karana
0: All planeswalkers lose loyalty counters equal to the number of planeswalkers in play.
-1 Target creature gains intimidate (this effect does not end at the end turn)
-2 All creatures you control with intimidate gain lifelink (this effect does not end at the end of turn)
Loyalty 7

MaRo would not like many of these abliites, as they require more memory than usual or extra bookkeeping which are both big no-nos. On the other hand, these cards are mythic rares and mythics should be doing extraordinary things. Forgetting this, would people get the flavor? Karana just isn’t that interested in working with anybody, but won’t mind messing with some people (although I’m not really happy with the third ability).

Andara, on the other hand, will become more attached to the people she’s working with, because she’s like that. Maybe the third ability should be something like “put one loyalty counter on all planeswalkers you control”, which would better represent her ability to inspire loyalty.

Granted, these two aren’t very flashy, unlike most planeswalkers, but they are at least very different. They are also have a good contrast, showing very different views of the world. What I do dislike, is that they seem too much like stereotypical good and bad guy in their own colors, where I like to think that white can be evil (white is the color of organization, like the Nazis) and black can be good or at least work towards good goals (like Iron Man when he was just getting off on being a superhero).

I was also thinking that if I ever get to the third set of this block, I’d make new versions of these two, where they have changed. Andara would be more inclined to use force to make people act the way she wants them to and Karana would have learned not to burn all her bridges, but to work with other beings, at least those powerful enough, instead.

Since this world has plenty of elves, who need help, I’m going to bring back Nissa:

High Guardian Nissa 1GG
Hexproof, all elves you control have vigilance
+1: Target elf with no hexproof gains hexproof (this effect does not end at the end of turn)
-5: Exile all other planeswalkers.
Loyalty: 3

Note: Her first ability is a static ability, not an activated one. She’s pretty narrow, but that’s just going with what the original Nissa is like. She likes her elves and doesn’t care about anything else. She’s there to protect her own, who are stranded in this strange place.

Starting a New Hack for AW

I am awful when it comes to RPG rules. I dislike reading them, cannot remember them and have (and quite likely will) changed them always to suit my preferences. I was almost certain that coming up with my own system would solve the case.

Of course it didn’t.

The past months have been a bit dry for me as a GM. I certainly have had ideas and the will but when it comes to choosing or creating the system I get overly complicated. I actually explained this in the first edit quite a lot. But it too got too complicated.

When Aki brought out the tremulus I was quite eager to try it out. Call of Cthulhu kind of games are close to my heart. My gaming group have been playing and enjoying the Apocalypse World and I had wanted to try it but I just do not get anything from post-apocalypse games.

As stated previously I enjoyed tremulus enough to give it a try as a GM. It was almost what I had been searching. But naturally (for me) not exactly it. After brooding over it for a few weeks I decided to try something new.

Joe McDaldno had an interesting thing called “Simple World” on his blog. It basically gives you a blueprint of writing your own Apocalypse World hack. So what the hell, I decided that this was what we should do.

As I write this I have gone through the first steps of the guide (MC Prep). It needs a little re-wording and proofreading but I will present it as I’m satisfied with it. I think I need to map out a little extra for the rules along the ideas represented by tremulus and Urban Shadows RPG (both Apocalypse World hacks). But hopefully we can get this game up and running during this month.

We’ll keep you posted!

Zombies vs. Vampires

Today, its the Vorthos in me talking.

Wizards is working on each color having their own “iconic” creatures. They have two approaches: tribes and big mythics. For the big ones, dragon for red is the oldest of these, but angels for white and demons for black have been around for a very long time. Lately, blue has been getting sphinxes and apparently, green is going to be getting hydras for a while now (which is fine with Theros coming up, but I don’t like them long term, unless they find new design space for them – which they probably will, my trust in MaRo is very high). For the tribes, red has had goblins since the beginning, green has had the elves, blue has merfolk, even if they sometimes disappear for lack of water, white has humans and black has zombies.

Well, apparently, black used to have zombies. Its not definite, but vampires are moving in. Now, I don’t really mind vampires. They are cool, if done right (note: not like they have been in different media recently, in MtG, they have been generally done right), but to me, they are better if they are kept special.

In Magic 2014, there are two common zombies (Minotaur Abomination and Zombie Minotaur, creatures closely related to each other) and two common vampires (Blood Bairn and Child of Night). All in all, zombies still win (five to four), but previously vampires were only seen here and there.

For me, Vampires shouldn’t be common. They should be rare. Maybe in some sets, such as Innistrad, where vampires are rampant, you can have a bunch of common vampires, but this isn’t supposed to be a poorly thought-out version of World of Darkness. I’d much rather have just Olivia Voldaren and Falkenrath Noble to show how vampires are powerful beings, who can completely take over the game.

Zombies, on the other hand, can very well be common. They have a tendency to proliferate and once the zombie infestation gets going, they are everywhere. At least that’s how zombies are perceived now.

Of course, it is possible that Wizards had a couple of abilities they wanted on the common level for black. These abilities just happened to feel vampiric, so they just put those abilities on vampires. Child of Night has been printed three times before anyway and Blood Bairn isn’t really new ground either, although it is a new card. Black does have access to plenty of things, which definitely aren’t ‘zombie’, so I guess there’s just a need for the vampires from a creative point of view.