Custom Card Game Design

Red’s Affection

Pia and Kiran Nalaar has to be the card in recent years that has the greatest disconnect between the flavor and its mechanics.

On the picture we see a man hugging his wife as they look over the streets of Kaladesh where their Thopter creations are buzzing through the air. In the story, Pia and Kiran are depicted as the loving parents of Chandra, who sacrifice themselves so that their daughter can survive. Like all other Kaladesh artificers in Magic Origins, Pia and Kiran Nalaar create Thopter tokens. And like many of the artificers, they have an additional artifact-related ability. In fact, the only thing that differentiates them from Whirler Rogue is a different activated ability. And what did they choose as the unique ability of Chandra’s loving parents? They throw their Thopter creations at your face…

An ability that is completely disconnected from their flavor — it’s just what red does, and so they got this ability. Even if you ignore the “loving parents” part and only focus on the “ingenious artificers” side of Pia and Kiran, why would they blow up their creations, which I assume they are quite fond of, to hurt you? I for one never throw my self-made cards at my playgroup.

In recent years, Wizards tried to depict the colors less one-dimensional (“black is not necessarily evil!!!!!”). With Drana, Liberator of Malakir they succeeded in making a black hero character into an elegant, flavorful card. But for Pia and Kiran this was impossible, because there is just no way to depict love and affection in red mechanically. That’s also why Chandra is still depicted as nothing more than “the angry pyromancer.”

So, how about we expand red’s color pie (again!)? One possibility I see is giving red a small share of defensive spells:

A defensive red spell.

But it would be important to differentiate red creature protection from those of other colors. Here’s how it could be done:

  • White doesn’t need to sacrifice anything to save your creatures. Defensive Magic is part of their color pie and a white mage can just create an invulnerability shield.
  • Black doesn’t save creatures. The creatures save themselves. Vampires, demons etc. sacrifice the pawns to regenerate.
  • Red doesn’t have access to defensive magic, so when someone throws a fireball at his friend, the red mage can’t just create an invulnerability shield. He has to throw himself before the fireball to save the friend.
  • Big green creatures are just naturally indestructible.

Of course, this is only one possibility. These red defensive spells would only appear from time to time, and like Protective Instinct, they wouldn’t be too playable. Still, I have reservations about this addition to red’s toolbox and would prefer a solution to red’s one-dimensionality that fits better into its slice of the color pie.

If we choose not to expand red’s color pie this way, would Protective Instinct be fine as a one-time thing?


4 responses to “Red’s Affection

  1. Inanimate March 2, 2016 at 7:18 pm

    I’ve thought of the same thing. Personally, I’ve just taken to reflavoring Swerve to fit.

  2. Baniff March 21, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    I don’t think “indestructible” should appear on a red card, but damage redirection could definitely fit.

    “The next 3 damage that would be dealt to target creature is dealt to you instead.”

    An interesting thought

  3. Pingback: RE: Red’s Affection – Cream-Six

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