02/15/2012 Stf: "Sympathy for the Devils"

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Savor the Flavor, which goes live Wednesday morning on magicthegathering.com.
I like what you guys have done with Devils and Demons. Kind of the opposite of D&D: over there, Devils tempt and Demons destroy. I like the contrast. 

Devils sound a lot like gremlins. Any chance we can erratta Gremlins into being devils?


And was that "fight back planeswalker" musing an actual AVR preview? ;)     

"Ah, the age-old conundrum. Defenders of a game are too blind to see it's broken, and critics are too idiotic to see that it isn't." - Brian McCormick

Doug. if you said that goblins could be omitted in Innistrad, and ditto for elves I suppose, why are there dragons in Innistrad? Couldn't they be left out too? I'm sensing a lil bias here (to dragon fans) but let's be fair. if you include angels, demons, wurms and dragons, where are the sphinxes/leviathians? what about Loch Ness???

you would argue that sphinxes and leviathians are not suitable in this context but so would dragons too. you could have made a flying mythical devil for example. dragons are so overused and they all seem to work the same - firebreathe

I would rather accept a ghost dragon, and that could actually fit the horror trope. it should be blue-based since it's a spirit 
Thank you so much for Devils. Cool I'm not a big Goblin fan, and I've hoped for years that Devils could become the little Red creature of choice. I guess it's probably only for a block (sigh), but at least they're here. Hopefully there will be a few more in Avacyn Restored.


Thanks!
Doug. if you said that goblins could be omitted in Innistrad, and ditto for elves I suppose, why are there dragons in Innistrad?



As I understand it, dragons are just really, really popular, so dropping them wouldn't make financial sense (though leaving them in doesn't make flavor sense).
Besides, angels and demons are not that prevalent in gothic horror either. Innistrad is based on traditional medieval horror as well, so dragons make sense.
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I feel better about not being able to attack as a 'walker when I get to use specific planeswalkers' attacks and strategies. Cards like Chandra's Outrage and Liliana's Caress help me to feel like I'm interacting on a more personal level.

Now that I see that in print, it looks pretty lame. Huh. Forum fail.
This block has made a fan of devils out of me, I'm glad to see a little behind-the-scenes of them.

I do wonder why they didn't just use imps as demon's peons like they usually do?
This block has made a fan of devils out of me, I'm glad to see a little behind-the-scenes of them.

I do wonder why they didn't just use imps as demon's peons like they usually do?

Imps in Magic have been defined as Black-aligned, so they couldn't have used them for the small Red creature type. Furthermore, they almost always have flying, which greatly limits the number of them you can do in Red at common and uncommon.
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Doug. if you said that goblins could be omitted in Innistrad, and ditto for elves I suppose, why are there dragons in Innistrad? Couldn't they be left out too? I'm sensing a lil bias here (to dragon fans) but let's be fair. if you include angels, demons, wurms and dragons, where are the sphinxes/leviathians? what about Loch Ness???

you would argue that sphinxes and leviathians are not suitable in this context but so would dragons too. you could have made a flying mythical devil for example. dragons are so overused and they all seem to work the same - firebreathe

I would rather accept a ghost dragon, and that could actually fit the horror trope. it should be blue-based since it's a spirit 



It seems like Innistrad is to Magic as Raveloft is to D&D: it's still the same fantasy game, just with a thick coating of horror tribute. In D&D, you still had armored warriors, barbarians, and bards, all wielding +2 weapons and carrying scrolls and the odd wonderous device as in the basic fantasy game, but everything else that could change to lend the flavor of horror end did. In this case, you still have a Magic world filled with Dragons, Gryphons, (and if the art is to be believed, sea serpents,) etc., but everything that can be bent towards horror has. Mostly, that seems to mean getting rid of anything that humans could talk to without fear of being eaten. No elves, goblins, merfolk or other sentient creatures. If it's not human, it can't be spoken to or reasoned with, and it probably wants to kill you. It's just a question of whether it's a dumb beast that wants to eat you, a large, clever beast that wants to eat you and every other human, or a malicious entity bent on destroying everything that makes up humanity.

Besides, angels and demons are not that prevalent in gothic horror either. Innistrad is based on traditional medieval horror as well, so dragons make sense.



Innistrad is pulling from a few sources, all of which can be summed up as "horror as I remember it as a kid". Frankenstenian undead, vampires, werewolves, and a lot of one-offs are gothic, but the flesh-eating zombies, Delver of Secrets and Gutter Grimes are all strictly B-movie territory. I would say that angels, demons, and devils -- while more important to medieval notions of horror -- are all still somewhat gothic. Satanic cults and the (big-D) Devil himself come in pretty regularly, even as late as works like Young Goodman Brown. For me, the most medieval touches of the set are green: it has Essence of the Wild as the green man figure, and a number of huge, fog-shrouded monsters that remind you that unknown, untamed nature is utterly terrifying. Man builds bonfires and walls not to scare off other men but to keep away nature itself.

This block has made a fan of devils out of me, I'm glad to see a little behind-the-scenes of them.

I do wonder why they didn't just use imps as demon's peons like they usually do?



Best guess: imps fly, and red weenies don't. Imps and demons are also very similar visually except for size -- imagine a child-sized demon that doesn't look like an imp -- so that's a novelty point in favor of devils.

Devils sound a lot like gremlins.



Gremlins (black), Goblin and Devils (now red -- yeah, we remember Stone-Throwing Devils) and Oafs (green) are all pretty similar: they're all small humanoids that are just smart enough to break things. Not that there's anything wrong with that. There's room enough for the trope across colors.


Best guess: imps fly, and red weenies don't. Imps and demons are also very similar visually except for size -- imagine a child-sized demon that doesn't look like an imp -- so that's a novelty point in favor of devils.



I can do one better and imagine a Demon Child that doesn't look like an imp! Tongue Out

The concept of players (as planeswalkers) doing damage makes me think of some sort of mechanic that's a cross between buyback and epic, reusable, but only once a turn.  Maybe a supertype or something?

Show
Punch in the Face
Super Instant

Punch in the Face deals 1 damage to target attacking creature. (You may only play one Super card with the same name per turn. Whenever a Super card resolves, return it to it's owner's hand)

"Ow, who does that?" - Faceless Butcher



Also, fun fact: Magic: Battlegrounds is how I got into [b]Magic[/c] in the first place.

But what's stopping me from just giving it a good old fashioned haymaker punch to the face... erhm... skull? After all, I decided to let my minions stand by and watch while I show them how it's done. I figured, in this sense, planeswalkers should have some way to deal damage themselves if they decide to let the attack through. And all players should have at least a 1-powered hit to represent the physical actions a planeswalker could do to attacking creatures, like a punch, a shield bash, or even an acidic spit in the eye! Hell, I'd love to get a kick in before getting pounded for 6 by a Skaab Goliath just for the heck of it. What do you think?



This comes up a few time in novels. In fact, I remember a duel scene from the first Magic novel, Arena, in which the protagonist, a wiard named Garth decided to run right past teh skirmishing creatures and give his opponent a good swift kick. Being kicked in... a very unpleasant place, this pretty much ended the bout. Spectators agreed that it wasn't exactly a magical duel, but was entertaining none the less.

In general, creatures are supposed to do the fighting and players/planeswalkers are considers "squishy" (0 power, like the Cunning Sparkmage). If the're not casting spells, they're keeping up shields to make sure lightning bolts only whittle them down instead of killing them outright, or retreating from the wurm that just rushed them. (Or did you think the wurm just went in, dealt 6 damage, and then left?) Non-player wizards usually rely on close-up tricks to provide power -- the way a warrior would use mundane weapons -- though some, like the Prodigal Pyromancer can range his attack the way a more powerful player wizard does a Shock spell.

Still, Gideon Jura weighs in as a 6/6, and Garruk Relentless gets to fight creatures as a 3/?. Form of the Dragon effectively makes you into a 5/5 flying creature (with some crazy reach and an attack on your upkeep). I guess there's room to make your player-wizard seem less squishy. For example:

Show
Garruk's Claws

When a creature deals combat damage to you, you may pay {G}. If you do, deal 3 damage to that creature.

Or
Show
Spear of the Sea

{T}: Deal 2 damage to target unblocked creature attacking you.


The trick is deciding when to deal the damage (on decalre blockers to simulate first strike, on combat damage being dealt to simulate non-firs strike) and if you should be  allowed to deal the damage to every such creature (for a price) or only to once creature per combat (the way other "blocking creatures" do.)
Whenever I think of a planeswalker (ie player) taking damage from a creature, I always think back to a short story from the Magic: The Gathering Pocket Players Guide, that described a duel between two planeswalkers. In the story, everytime the main character planeswalker was unable to block her opponent's creatures, she would create a manaless force field that used her life energy to repel the creatures and send them flying. The bigger the creature, the more life energy she had to use to keep it at bay. So the 20 life doesn't really represent how many times you can get hit by a sword or fireball, it represents how much non-mana life energy you have to repel attackers and offensive spells, and once you run out, those blades and flames hit their mark, and you as planeswalker are forced to retreat from the battle or risk being killed.

Even if I as planeswalker did have some physical combat training in planeswalker high or whatever, if given the choice between betting my life on being more skilled than the blademaster or bear coming at my throat, and blinking out to another plane to fight again, I'll always choose the latter. It's also probably very difficult to maintain the focus needed to maintain your spells while also fighting for your life.
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