Monday, May 13, 2013

It's the Magic: Creep

For those of you who aren't familiar with them, Slivers are a type of creature in Magic who share abilities. Few Slivers don't have abilities. Usually, if you have two slivers on the board, they each have two abilities; one from themselves and one from the other sliver. Add a third sliver and you have three abilities. What kind of abilites? All of them.

Slivers come in all colors, so Flying, Haste, First Strike, Lifelink, Regeneration, Flash, Trample, Shroud, Vigilance, Haste, Double Strike, Protection, Deathtouch, are where they start.

They can be uncounterable, they can work around protection, they can just fuck over permanents,  they can generate mana, deal direct damage, enters-the-battlefield removal, need more slivers? No problem. Card draw? Slivers have it. Sliver-hosing? Yes.

They have keywords that literally haven't been printed yet.

Slivers are crazy.

And in in July, Slivers are back.

That's when the next Magic core set, M14, comes out. Previews for it are waaay off and so there's not much to say about it. Dragon's Maze just came out and there's usually some summer filler stuff hitting (Is there? Heroes versus Monsters is coming out in September. From the Vault: 20 is coming out in August. Dunno.).

The slivers currently being teased just in Naya colors (Red, Green, and White). They might stay that way. Those are the colors that are strongest with creatures and giving Slivers a specific color identity might give them a bit more flavor, especially considering some of the changes.

There are two big alterations to the new sliver cards. The first is that they no longer enhance an opponents' slivers. I don't like this personally, as the idea of having slivers turn on you for the hubris of trying to wield their power is just fine-and-fucking-dandy for me. They're considered some of the most wild and untamed creatures in Magic (more a reason for them to run Green-Red-Black, honestly, but half of one...). They recognize kin above whatever half-wit planeswalker summoned them to this particular battle. On a personal note, I like Sliver players getting rolled by slivers and having no responses, which is something that they fucking deserve for playing slivers.

I get the reasons behind it though. As I understand it, R&D is trying to clearly delineate cards that are all upside and cards that have downsides. They're trying to keep sneaky downsides from surfacing in the game. If a creature, like, say Leyline Phantom hits a guy then goes away, that's an unequivocal downside. I get that. Most players assume that advantages rendered by their creatures affect just their creatures. Playing blue and giving your opponent's dudes islandwalk is fucking lame and I get that no one wants that to be a game state new players encounter. I prefer that slivers share abilities regardless, but it's not anything I'm passionate about.

What I'm somewhat peeved with is the decision to revamp the appearance of slivers. I get it; understanding exactly what a sliver is is difficult. Because each one of them is an exception to the rule, it's hard to grok what the "base model" is. I'm still pretty fuzzy on the size and dimensions of "base" slivers. I know they have a crazy, pick-axe head and a single claw both coming off of a kinda slug-body, but I'm not crazy about the classic design.

On the other hand, making them into humanoids is a step in the wrong direction. While it's easier to understand their departures from a known a form and the artists have done an amazing job of making them appear obviously not human, they still look like something descended from humans and not something that have become more humanoid over time.

The slivers are something that are distinctively Magic and I'm fucking happy they're in a core set. But part of that distinctiveness was their appearance. Some of the guys at Wizards of the Coast have mentioned efforts to emphasize one limb and make it more talon-like to represent their initial appearance, but I haven't noticed much on that except for one sliver:

I know there are more coming, so maybe they're greater departures from the human form, but I seriously doubt it. I'd much rather they had pointed heads. I'm not a Silent Hill fan, but something like a very toned-down, organic version of Pyramid Head (with way less rape. Let's say "0" rape.) would be something I would prefer.

But hey, slivers are still fun and I'll be happy to break out Blackscratcher and take some o 'em down, given that I have money in the near future, so as long as none of them break out hexproof, I think I'll be okay with it.


Anonymous said...

This reminds me of Fallen Empires (when I think they introduced the Slivers) which inevitably reminds me of my beloved Thallid deck. Yeah it was weak, yeah it was goofy, but man it was fun when it worked. Watching as a horde of 1/1 brussle sprouts swarmed over the enemy and ate his lunch. Ive even got the little cardboard counters from Dualist magazine around here somewhere.

VanVelding said...

Weakness is never a bad thing for a set. Magic should be fun, first and foremost. I actually have a pretty fun saproling deck around here somewhere. If you have enough counters, they're really fun.