It isn’t fair for me to be openly critical of Magic: the Gathering if I don’t have something to show for my own game design project. While Magic could be considered an “acceptable target” for criticism based on its popularity and success, I’d like to try to be a little better than that … something about throwing stones through other people’s windows, and so forth.

So, continuing in the vein of my entries about rules, here’s a player power I came up with this morning while trying to figure out how to introduce a new mechanic with the intent to speed up the game a bit and make up for the drop in card availability with the change to the Divination power.

Development [Standard, Limited]
Reveal 1, 2, or 3 Destiny. If the total value of revealed Destiny is greater than 21, choose 1 to add to Resources and exhaust the rest.

If you notice the obvious resemblance to the card game Blackjack, I will happily award you with the “congratulations for spotting the obvious resemblance to the card game Blackjack” award, which is a snarky jab at how you noticed and/or commented on the obvious resemblance to the card game Blackjack. Believe me, it was intentional.

I think it’s cool to incorporate ideas from common or well-known sources. There’s a precedent for this sort of thing in the game Blackjack (even if it isn’t exactly the same rule), and other rules in my game would likely refer to losing other cards (via exhaust) to this mechanic as “busting,” or something like that. Players familiar with Blackjack would recognize the similarity and some of the same concepts would apply.

Anyway, the other thing this power does, beside adding a new mechanic that can be played with, is “name” (in magic, this would be a “keyword”) a discard. Cards are “exhausted” when they go to the discard pile, and that discard pile is called the Exhaust. So, in addition to our Destiny, Resources, and Reserve (plus the Outskirts), we now have the Exhaust. Cards don’t “die” like they do in Magic, for a specific reason…

…The game I’m developing has a theme of the social entropy (systems theory). You can look at each deck as a closed system (in terms of energy production) and the player chooses how to expend energy (remove it from the system) to remove energy from their opponent’s system. That might sound a little weird, but I think it works.

Oh, and the other thing this rule does is introduce the idea of adding together the value of revealed cards, which I only just thought of moments before clicking the “publish” button. This is a concept that will show up again in later rules, and it’s a good place to introduce it — in the process of drawing cards.