I started thinking about Basic Lands and Locations (from Magic: the Gathering, and Star Wars CCG, respectively) this morning, in the context of the 52-card Magic deck I built, and what locations represent in the game I’m designing. What’s in a land? In a location? What should they do?

In Magic, Basic Lands represent sources of power for planeswalkers, that they can “tap” to cast their spells. In Star Wars, they represent places of interest or influence, where players muster their forces.

In Magic, you can play one land and draw resources from it on the same turn. Alternatively, in Star Wars, you may play any number of locations in your hand at once, but you can’t draw resources from them until the beginning of your next turn. However, your opponent may be able to draw resources from your locations in the interim — timing the placement of locations becomes a matter of strategy.

Most of my game takes place on the Reserves level — specific Resources the player has decided to bring to the forefront of the “battle.” They may be creatures, artifacts, magic items or spells, places of power, or important events. (The sack of Troy? The sinking of Atlantis? The quest for the Golden Fleece? The Battle of Thermopylae?)

The Reserves is like the four squares in the middle of the Chess board. It’s the hill that you want to be “king” of in territory control. The cards you reserve determine what those four squares are (or the “hill” is) like, and what kind of battle will be fought there. Playing locations, I think, should facilitate certain types of strategy.

Let’s say you play a university, that should facilitate Academics cards. A gymnasium should support Athletics cards. A location probably allows for a once-per-turn free activation of a related card. A battlefield, for instance, should allow for a free activation of soldiers of lesser value. (You need a bigger location for more “valuable” troops.)

Oh, dear. I just hit upon an important new idea. I must freewrite … now. Ta!