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Image by Ricardo Gomez Angel
  • Writer's pictureRock

Must Have Cards… Aren’t

When Magic The Gathering first came along, it was, in effect, a gambling game.


(This’ll relate, trust me. By this time you people should be used to my tangents.) At the beginning of the game, you’d cut your opponents’ deck and place one card to the side as an ‘ante’; whoever won the game, won the cards. As time went on, the practice fell into disuse and I’m not sure it’s even in the current rules, but it was a thing for a time.


One of the first players of the game made the first of what is called ‘weenie’ decks. Low cost, weak cards, but just a TON of them, swarming his opponents as quickly as possible. Sometimes also called ‘rush’ decks, they have a simple goal: Win, and quick. For that early Magic player, though, there was an added bonus. They only won one out of every three or four matches, but when they did, the odds that they got a better card than they risked were pretty much 100%. They’d be risking a weak goblin card at most, while the return card could be something of way higher value.


All of this is to say that, after years and years of playing card games, I have great doubts whenever I hear anyone say that this or that card is a ‘must-have’ or ‘auto-include’. Powerful cards are great, getting just the right card at the right time to turn a loss into a win is a dopamine rush I never get tired of. But declaring that a card must be put into a deck means one of two things to me. Either A) the game isn’t balanced properly (Hey, Hearthstone, how YOU doing?) or B) the player hasn’t fully explored what can be done with the game.


The former, I can’t do anything about, I ain’t a game designer. The latter, though? That is one of my favorite things to do in any card game. I’m the guy that’ll come up with the weirdest ideas, stupid combos, decks that just should NOT work, and fiddle and fuss and take out and replace until I have something that not only surprises the hell out of my opponents, but shocks me at times! The near-infinite possibilities you can get with a good card game with lots of options scratches my weird brain itch like little else does.


Decks that need five card combos? YES. Decks that use cards from other characters/classes? You bet! Decks that do the exact opposite of what the character/class excels at? All the damn time. I hate getting put into a box just because some game designer thinks Green means Nature and Red means Destruction. I’ll make my own mind up, and cram in things that are silly just to see if I can break the game in a way no one else ever thought of before.


Now, in Midnight Suns (see, I told you we’d get here) I don’t think you’ll be able to do that, per se. Your cards will come from the heroes you choose, so if they’re not on the mission, you won’t have access to them… BUT…


The heroes, then, become where the wacky shenanigans can take place. Logic says you should take someone that can heal, someone that can tank, and a damage-dealer. But logic is a feeble reed, my friend. Logic said that trains couldn’t run and planes couldn’t fly, and yet here we are. So I will TOTALLY be the one trying out taking three healers, or three tanks, or three blasters, just to see what’ll happen. Is that smart? Oh, HELL no. I expect I’ll lose, and lose often, while I get the feel for what’s going on. But doing so, I also GUARANTEE I’ll find combos that even the designers weren’t aware of. Interactions between the hero powers that’ll do wonders in a battle, even if I don’t know what they are yet. I know they’re there, though, just waiting for some crazy bastard to find them, and I volunteer to crazy bastard the hell out of it.


Inevitably, there will be a ‘meta’, there will be guides and combos galore on the best way to play the game, the best, fastest, what have you to run through the game and win every encounter, every time. Sorry, I find that boring. Doing things by rote, following what everyone else has found and thinking that that is the way it ‘works’ is dull, dull, dull. Give me the nutbars that try off the wall plays that wind up blowing up a city block, every time. That’s how you get the ‘Holy SHIT!’ moments that make games exciting to play through, again and again. And you don’t get ‘em by just doing what everyone else does.


So, yeah, those ‘must-have/auto-include’ cards? They just ain’t.


- Rock

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