I had this bizarre idea earlier this afternoon — I have this irritation with the game, Magic: the Gathering, because I think basic lands are a stupid, waste of space. I’ve noticed that the idea has caught on with a few groups of people, after I’ve ranted about how luck of the draw determines whether the game is even playable. (“Mulligan” is an ugly patch rule used to shore up this weakness.)

The idea goes something like this: rather than following the conventional rules of Magic: the Gathering, which have retarded rules for resource gathering and management, what if the game had an action-based system like Agricola?

Picture this: each player gets two actions per round. There are a limited number of actions that can be performed in a given round, and not every player will be able to perform all of them. What if each player started with two lands of their choice, placing a land was an action that only one player could perform each round, and untapping was a separate action? (Again, only once per round.)

Gameplay would start to look something like this:

Game setup:
Both players place 2 lands each.
Both players draw 7 cards for a starting hand.
They determine who goes first.

Round 1:
Both players add 1 mana counter to each untapped land.

* Player one places a land (3 total).
* Player two taps a land for 1 mana (3 total).
* P1 draws a card from his library and remains “first player.”
* P2 uses his 3 mana to summon a creature.

Round 2:
Both players add 1 mana counter to each untapped land.
(This works out to be 3 for player one, and 1 for player two.)

* P1 uses 4 mana to summon a creature with Haste.
* P2 places a “bounce land” and returns his tapped land to his hand. (That means he doesn’t waste an action untapping it!)
* P1 taps his creature to attack for 2 damage, and player two discards 2 cards instead of blocking with his creature.
* P2 draws a card and becomes “first player.” In the next round, he’ll get to take his turn first.

I’m thinking that rather than using the arbitrary “20 life” at the beginning of the game, the players use their libraries to represent their final score. Cards that are exiled, or that go to the graveyard, aren’t counted, and the player with the most cards left in his library at the end of the game wins. Attacking deals damage to a player’s library.

Obviously I need to playtest, but I think it might be a really interesting variant game.