Archive for the ‘soulbond’ Tag

I know you’ve got soul(bond)   Leave a comment

So I’m only two weeks in, but I am a self-confessed lover of Soulbond. From the perspective of both a player and an aspiring designer, it’s my favourite mechanic of the block as a mechanic that is fun to play with that creates interesting gameplay.  Thankfully, I think they’ve found a good set for it- Avacyn Restored seems to be a slower, combat-oriented limited format, so Soulbond can show off quite a lot in the time it has- although I’m certain it will return some ways down the road. So why do I love it?

Firstly, it’s a great fit for the set it’s in. It could have fit in Innistrad or Dark Ascension, as a way to show the humans working together against the gathering hordes and would have been fine, but it works much better in Avacyn Restored. The humans are making their final push, finally driving out the horrors of the plane, so the mechanic pushes that aspect of the story- Soulbound appears mostly on humans and their guardians; some spirits, some Wolfir and not on any of the ‘bad guys’. For a set based around good triumphing, a mechanic based around working together does the trick quite nicely- two people bond to fight evil and boost each other’s talents so they can do as a team what they might not be able to do individually. A neat little quirk of what R&D has managed to do as well is make sure that the benefits of bonding suit the colours of the bonders  Green , with Pathbreaker Wurm and Druid’s Familiar, accentuates the very green core of the bond between humankind and nature flavourwise. Mechanically, they boost each other’s power. Or the humans work with an animal to gain reach, so they reach attackers in the sky,which they could not do alone. Blue’s soulbonders mostly gear towards combining for the pursuit of knowledge- Tandem Lookout and Stern Mentor accentuating this the most. Red has the very angry and passionate ‘mob mentality’ cards that give benefits like haste and firebreathing. Admittedly, White does get a bit let down in this regard which is a shame as White should really get to shine with this- but I don’t see the connection between working with someone to gain lifelink, for example.

I’m surprised it’s taken this long to have a mechanic that does this- providing the effective way of having two cards work together without the unnecessary complexity of something like Banding, possibly one of the worst mechanics ever made. In anything. Ever. But the execution here works a lot better than I first thought it would after playing with it for a couple weeks. The cards feel good to play, as they offer a benefit for what you normally want to be doing- playing more creatures. It’s very similar to landfall in that respect, that it boosts your happiness during a game, because it comes almost as standard- you’re not having to jump through awkward hoops (Fateful Hour) or having to design your deck around them (Miracles). They fit most decks the average player will use, casual or otherwise. Sure, you can get blown out with Soulbond- but at the end of the day it’s almost like having “Creature Equipment”, because you can always play more guys. It doesn’t feel like you’ve just been kicked in the nuts if it doesn’t work out as planned. It feels pretty rewarding to the other side too, when you manage to break that pair to kill one of their creatures and get ahead. Another reason I like the mechanic- unlike something like Undying, another good mechanic from this block- you never really have great moments from it. With Soulbond you get the crazy “Well, I top decked a Wolfir Silverheart and paired it with my guy to win the game the turn before I was dead!” stories, that you remember and makes Magic very rewarding to play. You just can’t create that magic with Undying.

Overall, I think it’s my favourite thing from Avacyn Restored to date. More of the same is in order I hope- simple, elegant mechanics that are fun to play with. This mechanic can and should be re-used later on and has plenty of design space still open to it in the future. Good job, WotC.

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