Thoughts on new sets' mechanics Apr 8, 2023 19:50:56 GMT
Post by ameisenmeister on Apr 8, 2023 19:50:56 GMT
Hello MSE community,
Whenever a new set is on the horizon and spoilers start, I'm mostly looking out for the new mechanics the set will feature. That's because mechanics - in my opinion - are the most important aspect of any set, as they carry the burden of linking gameplay to flavor, thereby carrying both. Flavorless (or rather flavorpoor) mechanics of the past, for example reinforce or the untap-symbol can feel disconnected from the set. On the other hand, flavorful mechanics like inspired can harm a set with gameplay issues.
So what I'm going to do in this thread is looking at new mechanics (at least) of every new standard legal expansion and evaluate them according to certain criteria. For familiarity's sake, I'll use some of the criteria MaRo uses in his Storm Scale articles but also some of my own:
Design space - How many more cards could we design with this mechanic? Design space is important because if we can't make more cards, it doesn't matter how much players like it or how easy it is for development to balance.
Versatility - How well does this mechanic mix and match with other mechanics? Does this mechanic require a lot of infrastructure or does it require minimal support? In short, does this mechanic make design easier or harder?
Complexity - How easy or hard is the mechanic to process for players? Do you have to be knees deep into the comprehensive rules to make use of it or can any new player get what's going on?
Novelty - Is the mechanic a new original or built upon an older one? Is it basically a reprint mechanic? Does it do something that few or no mechanic did before and add something innocative to the game?
Flavor - Is the mechanic flavorful within its setting, flavorful on its own or maybe not flavorful at all? Not every mechanic has to be a flavor home run, but being one sure doesn't hurt.
Enjoyment - How does playing with the mechanic actually feel? This is obviously very subjective but I'll try to give comprehensible reasons for my opinions.
The goal with this evaluation is twofold, though. I want to give my immediate reaction, basically right when I've seen a new mechanic for the first time, but I also want to offer more than educated guesswork. That's why I'm going to review a new set's mechanics twice - the first time before it is released and the second time after I got some drafts and construted games in. So hopefully I can provide a lot of content here for anybody who's interested in it.
One last note before I start with March of the Machine's mechanics: What is a mechanic and what isn't is not always crystal clear. Is surveil a real mechanic? What about oil counters? And how about Naya's power-5-or-greater theme? I will try to go by a rule of thumb here: If it's a keyword used on five or more cards within a set, it's considered a mechanic. AND: If it is used to identify a faction within the set and has a certain recognition value, it is considered a mechanic too.
So without further ado, let's start with the set that just got completely spoiled but not yet released: