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Dave

Energy Pie?

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There was a great article just today (Monday) by Mark Rosewater, the head designer for Magic: The Gathering. I know we talk about M:TG a lot, but it's the granddaddy of all competitive card games, and the basic strategy for it is so well developed that we'd be silly not to take a lot of stock in the time-tested ideas that the game has brought to the table.

In this article, he heavily discusses the "color pie" in Magic, which is the usually clear lines that separate the colors from one another in terms of types of mechanisms or creatures that they have access to. His focus is on the times when they choose to blur those lines, such as giving dragons (usually red) to other colors (as they have in the newest set, Dragons of Tarkir).

It got me wondering, though - can we be said to have an energy pie in this game?
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Identity

We know that characters are generally classified well thematically between the energy types. The mask characters tend to be the ones who are the most cunning, typified by the brainy Beast or the evasiveness of Kitty Pryde. The bolts tend to focus on characters that rely on energy and range, such as Human Torch or Cable. The fists are the brawny ones, and the shields are the defensive ones.

But beyond theme, where are we?

I think it's safe to say that direct damage is strictly in the bolt arena. Human Torch, Pyro, Nova, Slifer, Carrion Crawler, these are just a few of the many bolt cards that deal with targeted damage. It's the closest to Red in Magic.

Shields have brought a lot of defensive abilities to the table from the beginning. Their stats have been skewed towards defense (most often) and abilities have dealt with damage reduction.

Fists definitely are about brute strength.

I would say that mask has most often brought us die manipulation. I don


Blurring the Lines

Where do these abilities and energy types cross over?

Some of them are obvious hybrids. The Red Dragon global certainly deals with cost fixing, but it also deals direct damage.

Some of them are mixed pretty strangely. For example, Gambit provides extra dice on some cards, direct damage on others, and remains a mask. As often as die manipulation has been mask, though, we have Nova turning damage into dice, or a global that costs a shield giving us dice in our prep area.

Others are completely on an island and don't make a lot of sense. Blue Eyes White Dragon is a bolt and offers a phenomenal global on his rare card that makes dice cost two less to purchase. That's a somewhat odd ability for bolt. Same goes for the Elf Wizard, who is a bolt but has very little firepower and manipulates dice.

I could go on, but we can all think of dice that don't really fit into the descriptions from the first section.


Who am I?

I think that it would be good to see the energy types get a little more defined in terms of the abilities and such that are tied to them moving forward. It's not going to narrow focus to one strategy, as it's too difficult in this game to go mono-energy. That's not really practical given that you're then limiting yourself to two sides on a sidekick dice and taking away access to a bunch of globals. Focusing on one while splashing one or two more is and has been a realistic objective, and a shift towards exploring the identity contained within the energy type could only aide that.

Too much bleeding between energy types just creates an artificial barrier between strategies or cards that make it so you just can't buy anything at any time. Let's give it a little more meaning! It could be fun !
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