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CardName: Banding in the Restored Series Cost: Type: Pow/Tgh: / Rules Text: Flavour Text: Set/Rarity: Conversation None

Banding in the Restored Series
 
 
Created on 20 Aug 2014 by jmgariepy

History: [-]

2014-08-20 04:24:01: jmgariepy created the card Banding in the Restored Series
2014-08-20 04:24:16: jmgariepy edited Banding in the Restored Series

You know, I started this comment on the card Beast Walkers in my set Homelands Restored, but I wanted some opinions, and I was afraid I'd bury the conversation over there, with me adding 3 cards a day or so, so I moved it over here.

The problem: In Homelands Restored, I'm trying to 'fix' Homelands, specifically by balancing the power level, and making the mechanics look like they belong to modern magic. Cards should look like they could be reprinted in Magic 2016. That's impossible to do with some cards (Apocalypse Chime, for example), but I'm doing what I can.

That's the goal. The goal is not to design new cards to prove how clever I can be. I'm not going to use a fancy pair of suspenders, when a boring belt can keep the pants in place.

Banding, however, is proving to be a particularly tricky problem. It only pops up on Beast Walkers and Soraya the Falconer. But if I plan to do Fallen Empires Restored and The Dark Restored at some point, then I'm looking at seven cards with banding. Maybe more, if I decide to 'restore' more sets than that.

What I need is a simple solution that could appear on cards in Magic 2016, features as much of banding as could be considered reasonable, but also didn't try to be clever about it. Ideally, someone reading the card should say "Oh, that makes sense.", "That seems pretty obvious." or, best case scenario (which I don't expect here.) "Oh. I thought that's how it worked in the first place. Weird." All that, and it needs to be repeatable, since it's bound to appear on 7+ cards

Any suggestions?

Haven't been people been trying to come up with a "better" banding for quite some time? It may be a doomed effort. It's not something that's likely appear in Magic 2016 (though neither is shroud, which appears in this set). I guess that shouldn't prevent you from trying, though. I'll be honest: I'm not even sure what banding does. I've never played with it, so I've never bothered to learn anything about it.

Heh. Yeah, this is an uphill battle, and one with no winning solution. Unfortunately, I'm trapped by the goals of my set, and by cards like Beast Walkers. Most of the other cards aren't giving me this sort of problem. I just happened to stumble into one of the greatest sinkholes that Magic design has to offer.

For reference purposes, here's banding's reminder text. It's a doozy:

Banding (Any creatures with banding, and up to one without, can attack in a band. Bands are blocked as a group. If any creatures with banding a player controls are blocking or being blocked by a creature, that player divides that creature's combat damage, not its controller, among any of the creatures it's being blocked by or is blocking.) ­

What's crazy is that that's not even the full extent of banding, since it doesn't include banding as a blocker. When you group block a creature, and at least one of them is a bander, you get to divide up how the creature deals combat damage among your creatures. And just to throw one absurd twist in this complication, this runs directly against how combat damage is assigned post Magic 2010 rules. You don't choose the order that creatures are assigned damage... you can fan it out. If you block a Grey Ogre with two Beast Walkers, you can spread the damage between the two and absorb it all, killing the Ogre and keeping your Walkers alive.

Man, it takes far too much energy to explain the mechanic. It's cool once you 'get it', but it sure doesn't grok easy.

For starters, I've come up with four possible solutions off the top of my head, though, I'm eager to hear others:

  • Do nothing. Banding is a thing now in current Magic. Deal with it. ­
  • "{t}: Target attacking or blocking creature gets +X/+X until end of turn." ­
  • "Pseudoband (Any creatures with banding, and up to one without, can attack in a band. Bands are blocked as a group.) ­
  • Tagalong (When you attack or block with this creature, you may target another creature you control. You may redirect any damage dealt to this creature or the targeted creature to this creature or the targeted creature this turn.)

  • I'd go with breaking it up; give some creatures "Sacrifice ~: Target creature deals no damage this turn" which is, functionally, most of block-banding; and for the attack, I'd go with either granting fight to things, or making things un-blockable. So capturing most of what you can do with banding, without going to the complexity of it.

    The reminder text does include banding as a blocker: "If any creatures with banding a player controls are blocking or being blocked by a creature, that player divides..."

    I wonder whether you could give Soraya and Beast Walkers two abilities? ­Soraya the Falconer I think could have:

    {1}{w}, Sacrifice a[n untapped] Bird: Target creature deals no combat damage this turn.
    {1}{w}, Tap an untapped Bird you control: Target attacking creature gets +1/+1 UEOT.

    That I think still works out as less words than the banding reminder text...

    Splitting banding into two separate abilities is a good idea I didn't think of. It's going to look funny printed 7+ times on 7+ cards, though. I really was hoping for something I could keyword, but maybe that's not in the cards.

    Hmm... maybe we could combine the two? Because both those abilities are present when a creature is banding, it could be:

    ­{1}{w}, Tap an untapped Bird you control: Target creature gets +1/+0 until end of turn, and prevent all combat damage to target creature this turn. You may use this ability only before blockers are declared.

    I could drop that last sentence. I just tossed it in there to get as close to the principals of banding as I could. This doesn't really allow you to do the opposite... chumping the other creature so you can keep a bird. But there's no version where I keep everything...

    That seems about as reasonable as you'll get in Homelands Restored if you don't want two abilities.

    However once you get to The Dark or Fallen Empires, you'll have to deal with creatures that actually have banding built in like Icatian Phalanx. How would you phrase the ability in those cases?

    Oh, hey, I forgot to add sacrificing. Yup, they should sacrifice if I don't want the ability to create indestructible attackers every turn. So that would be:

    Icatian Phalanx
    ­{?}{w}
    Creature - Human Soldier
    Sacrifice Icatian Phalanx: Target creature gets +2/+0 until end of turn, and prevent all combat damage to target creature this turn. You may use this ability only before blockers are declared.
    2/4

    Hmm. It's a bit lumpy. And it doesn't do a good job of expressing that the Phalanx could probably take the hit in a band...

    I don't know. I'm really starting to think that Psuedoband is the best idea. It does a good job of reminding you of what banding was, but doesn't bother trying to do much of anything. It just looks at all those rules and says 'nah'. I'd rather just have a bigger creature, thank you.

    I wish I had some maple syrup, because I fear I'm going to be doing some tall stack waffling over here.

    Too bad banding isn't just, like, "Creatures with banding may attack in a group with shared power and toughness."

    That's amazing. I love it. The only problem is how it interacts with combat abilities like first strike, flying, and lifelink.

    And deathtouch.

    Maybe "Creatures in a band may attack in a group with shared toughness. Of the group take lethal damage, only one dies." Only better worded.

    I think the biggest problem with banding is that there are two ideas that need to be put forward. 1. What constitutes a band? 2. How again is this damage redirection thingy happening? Every time someone wraps their head around one of those things, they tend to forget how the other one worked. Hmpf.

    Also thought of this: "Whenever this creature attacks, you may remove it from combat. If you do, target creature gets +X/+X until end of turn." At least it's a little closer to intent than Ghost Warden.

    Ug. Maybe all banders should just have Exalted instead. I suppose that's always an option.

    I'd actually fix this to work like a mixture of bestow and soulbound. For Icatian Phalanx:

    Newband (At the beginning of each combat, you may band this creature with another creature you control until end of combat. If you do, ~ can't attack or block this combat.)

    Banded creature gets +2/+4. If combat damage would be dealt to banded creature, you may instead divide that damage among banded creature and this creature.

    For Soraya it is more complicated but could also work.

    {1}{w}: Target Falcon gains Newband, "Banded creature gets +X/+Y, where X is this creature's power and Y is its toughness." and "If combat damage would be dealt to banded creature, you may instead divide that damage among banded creature and this creature." until end of turn. (At the beginning of each combat, that creature's controller may band that creature with another creature he or she controls until end of combat. If he or she does, the first creature can't attack or block this combat.)

    That's at least as close to banding as I think it gets this way. Personally I'd like a solution that's not as close but more intuitive.

    Still thinking on a way to combine this with Links version to make for a clean ability that only needs keyword + reminder.

    That's really strong Jsys. I like how this gives us a keyword to play around with, but doesn't require the keyword to do all the heavy lifting. I think I'm going to switch over to this version, shortly. I like Link's idea, but it's more a substitute ability that reminds you of banding, than a banding clone.

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