Pattern Recognition #190 - What the Heck was that?
8 April 2021
8 April 2021
Hello everyone! This is Pattern Recognition, TappedOut.Net's longest running article series as written by myself, berryjon. I am something of an Old Fogey who has been around the block quite a few times where Magic is concerned, as as such, I use this series to talk about the various aspects of this game, be it deck design, card construction, mechanics chat, in-universe characters and history. Or whatever happens to cross my mind this week. Please, feel free to dissent in the comments below the article, add suggestions or just plain correct me! I am a Smart Ass, so I can take it.
What the heck was that?
Well, I know that explaining the joke is usually a bad thing, I did get enough side glances and people confused about what I did last week that I feel that I need to step back and explain what the heck just went on.
Just what is...
If you want to skip my commentary, my awesomeness and my general me being me, go ahead and read this article, and I'll see you next week.
But if you're still here, well, have I got a story for you.
Back when Planar Chaos was being spoiled and previewed, one of the examples of 'what if' that was a bit more out there was the above article, a work of a few weeks by the people at Wizards that was a total reimagination of the high-fantasy Magic: the Gathering into the Space Opera styled Space: The Convergence.
Now, here's the thing. Space is, mechanically speaking, perfectly equal to Magic. It is a one-to-one match up in all things. You can point to a card in Space, and then find a perfect match in Magic.
The difference lay in the flavor, the Vorthos and the terminology.
You are a WARLORD.
You are a PLANESWALKER.
From these two statements, everything follows. As a Warlord, you travel the worlds of the Galaxy, seeking to achieve your goals. Contesting you - or perhaps you are contesting them - are other Warlords, each with the same power that you do.
You see, the galaxy is criss-crossed with numerous leylines of Psi-power, each bringing with them various attributes and favours. These five Psi-colours correspond to the same colour in Magic. is Crystal, the Psi of control, order, and perseverance. is Cryo, the Psi of ice, the cold calculations of heartless logic and perfect knowledge. is Necrotic, the Psi of death - and rebirth, to give and take, to sacrifice anything and everything for greater heights. is Pyre, the Psi of aggression, haste, motion and commitment to a cause, no matter what. is Xeno, and to draw upon this power is to channel the raw energy of life everlasting, power overflowing, growing without considering the consequence to you or anyone else.
The Five Psi Colours and the Five Mana Colours are the same. It's all the same.
From these colours, Lands become Resources. Now, this is a more general term, which allows for non-land means to produce mana/Psi. Basic Lands are replaced with Standard Resources - Lux, Geladine, Necroleum, Carbos and Biolute in the place of the terrain names of Magic.
By separating the source of power from a location, Space frees up more design room for what can or cannot constitute a resource. So Space, you can gain Lux not just from the Psi-light of a crystal, but from massive orbital batteries of solar panels, or even a person's inner light when surrounded by darkness.
Creature become Units. And instead of summoning them, you Teleport them into play. For the most part, this isn't a big flavor deal, but it does side-step the Wall problem I talked about earlier this year, about how some creatures in magic just don't really fit? Well, they still do if you stop thinking about them as being creatures.
After all, the Strike Cruiser is a space ship. Flying through space. It's not an elemental, made of air. What kind of air? Is it poisonous? How does it fight? No! This is a Space Ship! It's what it does!
Units don't Attack or Block, they Assault and Intercept instead, attacking not your Life Total, but your Control Pool. If you lose control of where you're fighting, you have no means to affect the battlezone any more, and must withdraw.
Your Library is your Archive, and while I used the term Void to mean Exile last week, technically, the Void is your graveyard. I made a mistake last week when I mentioned that Hacking Tablet now Hacks 2. It should have been Neural Klaxon instead. Because I forgot to triple check my work. That is my addition to Space's teminology, and everyone can use it, free of charge or credit. I'll know the truth! :)
Your hand is your Supply.
Because of the focus on battle more than in Magic, the terminology of Sorceries and Instants changed to Strategies and Tactics respectively. As a Strategy is something larger and more well developed, taking time, while Tactics tend to be smaller and on a case by case basis, you can see how something that is more 'spur of the moment' might be more tactical than a quickly cast magic spell.
Not to say that it's a perfect choice, but I can see why the decision to name these effects in these manners.
Artifacts are now Devices, a different name for the same thing. And yes, you can have a Device Unit instead of an Artifact Creature. They are, at the time, completely Psi-less, but if Space was being printed today, you can totally believe that there would be Psi-coloured Devices.
Enchantments became Augments with Modify being the substitute for Aura. What I did make up last week was the phrase Augment - Memory to represent Enchantment - Saga. Saga's are a way to keep memory alive, but for a Space Opera? Memory can be manipulated, replayed, and is both more and less alive in the process. It's a flavor choice.
Look, what I'm saying is that the games are mechanically the same.
For the most part.
As Space was created before Planeswalkers were a thing, the Fan-made Space Cube used the term "General" for Planeswalkers. These individuals are basically your Warlord's Lieutenant in the current conflict, another Warlord agreeing to help you to serve their own ends.
In addition, the same Cube utilized the term Distinguished to replace Legendary.
My article last week made more than a few tweaks to things as well as I was focusing on a years worth of sets. Starting with Theros Beyond Death, I more than made light of the lack of a story in that set, as in our reality, Wizards canned the story for the set in response to the utter .... words I don't want to say in front of the kiddies ... let's go with drek of a story that we got for War of the Spark. So I wrote in hints of a grand conflict between Elspeth and Ashiok as they struggled to escape, tying in the mechanic's name to the storyline itself. Or so I hoped.
Ikoria was rethemed to focus on my choice to have the sets have the consolidated notion that each set in the year was focused on the conflict over two Warlords with an outside observer or two to keep track of things. In this case, I aimed to give an actual plot to Ikoria that was in character with Vivien's previous cannon characterization, and to again incorporate the mechanic of the set - Mutate or Genegineering into the nature of the story and the conflict there-in.
Of couse, I had to take a shot at Companion as a mechanic, replacing it with Adjunct. Unlike Companion, which had a 'one-size fits all' for summoning them from the Command Zone, as well as the unique deckbuilding restrictions that saw Lutri, the Spellchaser banned a month and half before release from the Commander Format. Rather, I implied that each of the Adjuncts had a board state condition that would enable you to teleport in your Adjunct if, and only if they were met.
For instance, in my concept, Keruga, Sage of the Macrocosmos could be Teleported as an Adjunct if you had three or more permanents in place with a Psi value of or more, and no non-Resource permanents under that value. Then you would draw cards! Woo! Value!
And probably saner and better designed for something I pulled out of my ass than what we actually got.
For my review of the Core Set for that year, I lamented that we got more reprints of the Resource Indexers - sorry, Fetch Lands, rather than something new.
In reality, the Rare I have the most of due to reprints and the like? Battlefield Forge. I'm up to 8 of the damned things from Invasion block forward. Mostly thanks to Commander sets, but they were printed in Core sets as well.
Zendikar received the least changes, save for the background. In this case, the Eldrazi titans literally broke the world apart as they left, hatching like and egg - and breaking the egg in the process. Nahiri became the nameless Smith of Worlds, while her conflict with Nizza - sorry, Nissa remained pretty much the same. Jace was still off to one side, and I forgot to tweak his card to Iake, Reflection Pirate.
Because you know what's cooler that being a Pirate, huh Jace?
Being a SPACE PIRATE. That's what's cooler!
Planetfall is Landfall, obviously. I don't need to go over that, as I think you're all smart people. Except you. You in the back. I see you sleeping there, hiding behind your copy of Sarpadian Empires, Vol. VII. This is on the test!
Anyhow, I renamed Party to Away Team, something that I actually put effort into renaming as I wanted something sci-fi-y enough and generic enough to work. Picking the replacement classes was me leaning on the Space Cube, so thanks again to those guys for all their hard work. I stole from you without shame or regret. In order, they are Warrior, Rouge, Wizard and Cleric.
Naturally, the Core 2022 set won't be Dungeons and Dragons, but Shadowrun themed, to keep with the point of Space.
Finally Warlord's Gambit was me taking a shot at a card Wizards tried to sell as the next big thing in and being laughed out of their own announcement for it being one the biggest slaps to the face of a player in recent history. Remember, this card was expected to be so good that Wizards committed to making a Mystical Archive version of it before it saw the light of day.
There's good ideas gone wrong, like Companion. There's bad ideas that see the light of day - like any non-Pirate Jace. There's even worse ideas that see Wizards hype them, like everything to do with New Phyrexia. Then there's whatever the hell that card was supposed to be.
So I made it so powerful it got banned, and in the process gave me what I wanted in a game that hadn't banned cards left right and center for being pushed or too powerful. Seven years since the last Standard banning in fact!
Space: The Convergence is a dream. What you saw last week existed mostly in my head. Except for you two, Omniscience_is_life and legendofa, for rolling with the joke and staying in-character. You get a tip of my virtual hat.
But as a dream, I can say this. Space is the ultimate proof that Magic doesn't have to stay magical. The core mechanics and system work. Five colours. Seven card types. Infinite variety and variation. That flavour can trump anything, as long as you're consistent and well-crafted.
Bad cards are bad, no matter how you try to sell them.
Well, that was Space: The Convergence. Join me next week when I talk about a different subject. What one? I don't know yet.
Until then please consider donating to my Pattern Recognition Patreon. Yeah, I have a job, but more income is always better. I still have plans to do a audio Pattern Recognition at some point, or perhaps a Twitch stream. And you can bribe your way to the front of the line to have your questions, comments and observations answered!