We're excited to continue Coast to Coast Casual (CCC), a blog series written by East2West, published on MTG Cardsmith.
Ever since the dawn of Magic a battle has been waged between the two greatest factions of the game, flavor and function. The elegant joining of themes and mechanics against the overwhelming chaos of power! Okay, it's not actually all that epic but with Ravnica in the rearview I wanted to talk about The Simic and how they really emphasize this struggle from almost every angle.
(Disclaimer: If you don't know what the guild is, look them up now, explaining that could be its own article)
Everytime Magic has visited Ravnica the Simic get a mechanic that involves +1/+1 counters (Graft, Evolve, and Adapt). Flavorfully this makes sense, the experimentation of Blue and the growth of Green combine to make their creatures strong. However mechanically +1/+1 counters are a very Green thing. To put in perspective how much Blue sucks at +1/+1 counters here's how many cards each color has that in any way mention +1/+1 counters.
- W - 126
- U - 59
- B - 145
- R -82
- G- 300
Blue literally has the least representation of this mechanic anywhere on the color pie. When you think about it from this angle The simic are Blue and Green in flavor and colors alone, mechanically they are very much dominated by green. This sort of domination also creeps into their cards quite a bit. A lot of multicolored Simic cards just tack on "draw a card" and consider that enough.
For some examples of Green domination in Simic design, let's look at the cards that exemplify it best, the Blue cards. See a lot of Blue Simic cards are basically Green with something thrown in to make it seem more blue (Usually flying or card draw). A prime example is Benthic Biomancer. The design of the Biomancer feels like a multicolor design. It gets it's card draw from Blue and the counter synergy from Green, this makes it odd to see as a monocolored card. Two other cards have a similar problem, Clinging Anemones and Frilled Oculus. Both of these cards are Blue but have no reason to be Blue instead of Green, in fact all that keeps Frilled Oculus from being a below rate, vanilla creature is a Green activated ability.
So what does this all mean and how can we apply it to our own card designs in the future? The main lesson here is that flavor and function is a careful balance that must be watched and maintained. When creating your own worlds, characters, and multicolored cards try and answer these questions.-Why did you choose the color or colors you did to represent this card.
-Why isn't this card Monocolored?
-What does this get from each of its colors and how are they shown mechanically?
Hopefully in the process of answering these questions you'll find not only the perfect mechanical fit, but also a flavorful reasoning for them.
That's all for now, if you have any questions I'm happy to answer them on twitter, through email, or in the comments below. As always this has been East2west with CCC, I'll see you guys on the battlefield.
East2West is an aspiring writer from NJ currently seeking fame and fortune on the internet. She's been playing Magic since Zendikar block (the original one) and is a commander player with one deck for each two color pair and one for each single color. The only non EDH deck she plays is her own personal Pauper brew, Pauper Eggs. Follow her on her newly created and probably soon to be underused twitter @East2WestMTG.