The Mechanics Of Love
I’ve been slowly piecing together a “twitter” magic set based on submission from various twitter denzins inspired by the slim amounts of information I give them, usually a card with artwork, colour, and not much else.
Two weeks ago (jeez, really?) I asked for people to come up with a Mechanic, rather than a card. The mechanic I requested was supposed to represent “love”.
Various people submitted responses in twitter, and me, being a smart person, thought, “I’ll just let then sit in twitter and collect them all at the end of the week.”. Then, when I went to collect them, twitter wouldn’t let me go that far back into my @ archive.
Anyhoo, I re-asked, and various people were kind enough to re-tweet their efforts. Lets take a look at them.
@Fox_Murdoch: Lovelust X: if an opponent gained life this turn this enters the battlefield with X +1/+1 counters.
Lovelust is a clear play on bloodthirst, in which a creature enter the battlfiefield with X +1/+1 counters if an opponent took damage that turn. The difficulty with this conceptualisation is that while you can generally rely on dealing damage to your opponent and thereby ‘turning on’ bloodthirst, it is far more difficult to reliably give your opponent life. WotC don’t often print cards like Phelddagrif or Armistice, and are more likely to print cards like Punishing Fire, which is not a very “loving card”. The card might work better if it triggered on your own lifegain, but that would amount to self-love.
Ok, so what we have here is a psuedo licid/equipment/aura/creature thing. I can understand the concept – rather than give add a new creature to the ‘field, it “embraces” a creature already on the ‘field, adding new abilities/power to it.
Now, regardless of how broken I find a first-striking, hasty, mountainwalking 1/1 creature for R, this card has all sorts of problems. Firstly, you’d have to add all sorts of “loses creature and gains Aura” to the text. Secondly it represents a conflict of super/sub type of Creature and Aura, and I am pretty confident WotC do not want to return to printing Licids. But most of all, it’s incredibly confusing for new players. The repetition of the text, the positioning of one card-box above the other, it’s all pretty complicated, including on how to get it to work. The first time I read it I though it targeted itself. Overall it feels unnecessarily complicated – although, I guess love is pretty complicated.
@ChahMTG2: Befriend, Bond
Chah’s put a lot of work into the keyword. Essentially, has creatures put +1/+1 counters on another creature to “befriend” it, and when then allows “befriended” creatures to gain benefits. Eventually all befriended creatures share the common benefits. This is relatively neat, except that it may become difficult to remember which cards are “befriended” and which ones are not. +1/+1 counters are pretty common. In the comments the mysterious “Bass” notes that a “Befriended” counter might be a better idea.
Chah’s other keyword is Bond, which again uses +1/+1 counters, and then gain benefits as a result (such as his example, Bloodbond Warrior: When ~ enters the Battlefield, put a +1/+1 counter on it and target creature. When either of those creatures dies, the other gains double strike.
The only real problem with Chah’s execution are the memory requirements involved. I can imagine playing with half-a-dozen Chah cards and not knowing which ones were bonded with which, or befriended whom, and when one dies, what happens to what else? I certainly like where he took the idea with good/bad relationships on the second page of working, but the memory issues have me struggling with how the execution will work in-game, especially when other people are using +1/+1 counters but not the Befriend/Bond mechanic.
I will note, however, Mechanics such as Haunt were printed without any visual reminder.
@juzumjedi: Goblin Wife (Love): at beginning of your upkeep, if you have another goblin in play, create a 1/1 goblin.
It’s Uktabi Kong all over again! JJ keeps it pretty simple; love leads to sex, sex leads to babies (practice safe or gay sex kids!), so lets start spitting out tokens! As someone with four kids myself, I can appreciate this. I guess it is a mechanic, but not a keyword, per se.
@JulesRobins: Shelter: When ~ etb you may shelter target creature. Sacrifice ~: Regenerate sheltered creature.
This was a mechanic that Chah looked at, the idea of one lover sacrificing itself for another, but Jules plays it pretty straight here. It’s a relatively need execution, albiet one again that has no visual reminder for the long run. However you could more neatly do this with just dropping the whole “shelter” keyword and having the creature regenerate any creature on the board, similar to Saffi Eriksdotter. This doesn’t have the one-to-one feel of “love”, but we could call the card Regeneration Slut.
@thatdamnaussie: Blessed: Creature gets +1/+1 and is blessed until end of turn (with other abilities triggering off “blessed”)
Baz’s ability is much like the others, but as it reads his love is so short. Perhaps if the “blessing” lasted more than a turn that would be something else, but then it would resemble much of what everyone else has submitted. However WotC haven’t allowed buffs to go more than a turn since Riding the Dilu Horse, which is my new favourite euphamism. Love, with any luck, lasts longer than a turn.
A while ago I tried to play with a Love mechanic myself and came up with “Glamour”, based on the Terry Pratchett book “Lords and Ladies” (his best Discworld novel), as shown below.
As you can see it echoes much of what my fellow twitters represented. After testing it a little bit it became clear it didn’t represent a 1-to-1 relationship, as once there were many glamour tokens on the field it became pretty messy, but it didn’t matter, as Glamour avoided the needed to remember individual relationships between cards, such as with Haunt.
However, I wasn’t entirely happy with Glamour and thought it might be fun to do a trial ballon via twitter.
Ok, so I’m still don’t think the best solution has been found. Maybe cards with a one-to-one relationship are impossible in Magic, but I’d like to think not. I’m going to award this round to Chah, due to the amount of work he put in, and I’ll be gifting him a little prize on MtGO. But I think the search for the perfect “love” mechanic goes on.