Thursday, April 25, 2019

The Future of Gunnarson's Bag

Sorry for the haitus, I'm really busy at the moment. Here is some teasers of what's coming.

Jedit Ojanen: The Importance of Art and flavortext

Mightiest of the cat warriors, Jedit Ojanen forsook the forests of his tribe and took service with the Robaran Mercenaries, rising through their ranks to lead them in the battle for Efrava.
It's hard to imagine, how a simple 5/5 for 7 could be as popular as Jedit, but it's here. Sure, he's not much in the days of power creep, but market research at the time must have concluded his popularity. He got a mini-comic from Armada, a short story, and a cycle of three books about him (which was largely a more detailed re-telling of the comic). He was even 'planar shifted' in Planeshift as a mono-white legendary creature. So why? Why so much fair for a 5/5 vanilla from Legends? Well, he's more memorable then most.
Image result for jedit ojanen art
Proof of Comic
Playability: Easily the worst aspect of him, is well his playability. He's a 5/5 vanilla for 7, and while he's in white, and thus can synergize with Karakas, that's a minor advantage. Him being white, also gives you access to crusade/jihad/Call to Arms, but again, that's a minor advantage. Sadly, he's getting a 2/5 in this department.
Art: Jedit, in my opinion, is Poole's best art piece (which isn't an easy hill to climb). It's a deceptively complicated piece. First you have Jedit himself, with his most distinct feature being his face. Small details like the eyes and fur around the face is barely visible on the art, but is there, while the flowing mane and fangs make a distinct impression. The body is done well, with the shading technique replicating fur really well, while the bare chest makes it appear to be a alien humanoid figure that wouldn't exist on earth. The gear, a simple loin cloth, some hot topic bracelets, a belt, and a sword, shows him, while clearly skilled, he's still a savage, no needing for clothing due to his fur. Finally, there is the background a simple prairie and sky, which shows movement of wind through Jedit's hair, and the grass below. It's also light and simple, contrasting with the character, and making him front and center of the art. It makes for a powerful piece that is recognizable even on the other side of a table. His art is 5/5.
Flavor: A 5/5 who is basically naked, isn't some hero carrying divine magic, or ancient weapons. He's a bad ass. It also makes sense that a cat warrior who abandoned his forest home wouldn't be white, so him being blue (thus worldly, or traveled) would make some sense.
However, his real draw is his flavor text, which is descript enough to make him seem like a deep seated character, with enough cryptic background references to make him seem mysterious. He becomes a character you WANT to learn about. You want to include in your deck outside his stats because of that. This is how he got to be written hanging out with Hazezon Tamar! His popularity, came from these facts. Modern Magic could use a little bit of wisdom from this guy when designing legends, because it's legends like this that people remember.
Flavor 4/5.
11/15= round up 4/5. Sure, in the game he's not the best card, not even the best legend. However, he's a hero, a distinct hero at that, and that makes him a good card in many other aspects.

Friday, April 12, 2019

The slow death of Enchantments


As some of you may have remembered, I don't like Planeswalkers, as spoke about in a much earlier article. Today, I announce the death of Enchantment design space.

Some of you might be asking, well how could enchantments ever go away? It's literally Magic, by definition, in it's most classical form. Whimsical and mysterious! The workings of the beanstalk and giant gingerbread houses, weapons like the treasures of Britain. So why would enchantments go away? Am I just being an alarmist to change?

Well, to answer this, we need to go back to the beginning, yes, back in '93. In those days, each card type had a purpose, and Enchantments fell into two categories. The first were big boosts and game changing effects, which were Global Enchantments. These include such famous cards as Underworld Dreams, Land Tax, Crusade/Bad Moon, Blood Moon. As well as old favorites like Castle, Night Soil, Goblin War Drums. Local Enchantments were much smaller, localized effects, most popular and common in the form of enchant creatures, but enchant permanents for every type of permanent existed.

Enchantments from the start were murky, even when working with the types. Global Enchantments could reflect an abstract action or idea (exp: Crusade/Jihad, Karma, Underworld Dreams, Invoke Prejudice, Gloom), represent a physical location (Exp: Castle, Elven Fortress, Spiritual Sanctuary, Magnetic Mountain, landwalk cycle from Legends), actual changes in the Terrain/Weather (Exp: Blood Moon, Bad Moon, Raging River, Flood, Tidal Influence, Night Soil, Conversion), even things that should be physical items (like Goblin War Drums and Orcish Oriflame). This excludes some oddball cards like Chains of Mephistopheles.

                                                   Chains of Mephistopheles

Local Enchantments, mainly enchant creature spells, were all over the place, representing armor and clothes, physical strength, magical wards, among others. However, they all worked surprisingly well.

Divine Transformation
Transformations weren't uncommon either.

World Enchantments were suppose to represent actual planes, and as such, won't be talked about in great deal here.

Local Enchantments always had a common issue of card disadvantage, after all, if someone killed (or worse bounced) your creature/land/artifact, it would be destroyed as well. However, I know in the first few years, creature enchantments were somewhat popular, since they could allow someone locally on a budget to customize their creatures for a bigger threat. However, by the late 90's, playing any form of creature enchantment outside of limited was considered haram, and even inside limited was discouraged. I remember, during the Betrayers prerelease, one older player chastised a much younger version of me who just boosted about being the Magic guy, since I insisted on running red (with a fair amount of creature enchantments) in my limited deck. Insisting I must have no idea over the fine points of card advantage/disadvantage. If memory serves me right, I burned him out game three.

However around the first time cards started encroaching on enchantment design space. This would be equipments. Now the concept isn't new, I'd actually argue the likes of Tawnos Weaponry and Sandalls are proper "proto-Equipment",  but equipments were an entirely different beast.

Leonin ScimitarTawnos's Weaponry

Equipments (some of which were extremely powerful) weren't beheld to a particular color, and could go into any deck, it also hung around when the creature leaves play. This basically raised the question to why run creature enchantments at all. A similar card type for lands called fortifications has been experimented with as well.

It was around this time Enchantments started to become asymmetrical, with only upsides. However, this would be another slow process that could deserve it's own article.

Over the years, WotC has attempted to get around the 'card disadvantage' offered by local enchantments, and a small archtype has even evolved around it. In Theros, they instead just slapped Enchantment on Creatures, and made things that basically worked like Licids. They've also attempted to make much larger and flashier creature enchantments, all which are exampled below.

Bear Umbra
Umbra's or Totem armor, allowed said creature to survive at the cost of the enchantment.

Nyxborn Shieldmate
Bestow was an attempt, at aura's that can be creatures
(or vice versa)

The sad thing is, creature enchantments didn't need this, but I guess it's what some people wanted?

However, this wouldn't be the final death of enchantments, no I present to you these:


Yeah, that isn't touching on enchantment design territory like in the past they've been accused of. That's outright replacing it. The full set hasn't been spoiled yet, but currently (as of 4/12) only two enchantments has been spoiled, but numerous Walkers. It might be a knee jerk reaction, but it might be prophetic about the future of enchantments. Only time will tell.