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JumpSTARt: Battle Royale — Devlog #03: Star-Format-Friendly Mechanics

JumpSTARt: Battle Royale is a star-format Jumpstart product for Magic: The Gathering. This blog post is part of a series chronicling its development.

Previous devlogs:
Devlog #00: Kickoff
Devlog #01: Packet Skeleton
Devlog #02: Drafting

Designing a star format Magic: The Gathering product when none currently exist means you get to shine the spotlight in a unique way on individual cards. For some groups of cards, they stand out in this context due to a mechanic.

This blog post will go over each of the keyword and ability word mechanics on past Magic cards that function more interestingly in JumpSTARt: Battle Royale. Perhaps it will serve to help you pick out reprints for, say, your star cube.

Doubled Teammates: Assist & Surge

Each of assist and surge appeared in Two-Headed Giant format sets; in Battlebond and Oath of the Gatewatch, respectively. In these settings, of course enabling of these mechanics would occur just from your 2HG teammate. In JumpSTARt: Battle Royale, however, you have more than one teammate who can help cast your spells.

Assist only lets one other player help you pay for a spell — now you gotta pick who’s assisting! There’s a tension to consider here as perhaps the target you most want to remove in a particular moment doesn’t line up with best teammate to help you at that time. HOW. INTERESTING.

Contrastingly, surge cares not which of your adjacent buddies casts a spell when meeting its condition. This means surge is more likely to be enabled compared to when the mechanic first debuted!

Attacking: Battalion, Battle Cry, Mentor, & Training

When you have two players’ worth of attacking creatures, battalion is more likely to trigger. This mechanic only cares about checking any other attacking creatures, not just other attacking creatures you control.

Similarly, battle cry gives a boost to just plain ol’ other attacking creatures — no caveat that you have to control these other attacking creatures.

Both mentor and training just need you to attack with other creatures. These other creatures — you guessed it — don’t need to be controlled by you.

All together, battalion, battle cry, mentor, and training incentivize a bit more of the behavior we like to see in multiplayer Magic: attacking.

Trivia: besides the fact that many Battlebond cards are used for JumpSTARt: Battle Royale, both battalion and battle cry are contributing factors to deciding on “Battle Royale” in the name of this Jumpstart product.

Opponents Losing Life: Bloodthirst & Spectacle

Normally, in each of the past sets where bloodthirst and spectacle appeared, the work was all on your shoulders for making an opponent lose life.

In the team-based turns of JumpSTARt: Battle Royale, you can benefit from your teammates’ damaging actions! The wording on these keywords only care about opponents losing life, not whether you’ve dealt damage to them.

So, there’s a unique opportunity here to benefit from topdecked bloodthirst and spectacle cards, even when you have no other cards in hand or creatures on the battlefield to help cause loss of life.

More Players, More Shenanigans: Morbid & Storm

Because there are five players in a game of JumpSTARt: Battle Royale, there is a higher likelihood for certain qualities to occur.

In the star format, more creatures die over the course of the game. This means morbid is more likely to be enabled.

With JumpSTARt: Battle Royale’s Two-Headed Giant style of shared turns, there’s twice as many players that can cast spells that normally could only be cast during the main phase. As well as, of course, there being five players present. More opportunities for a higher storm count!

Rejected Mechanics: Graft & (Day/Night)bound

Some mechanics work well in team-based or star formats. However, with the specific setup of JumpSTARt: Battle Royale, a couple I decided to pass on: graft and daybound/nightbound.

Eagle-eyed designers will notice that graft triggers for any creature entering the battlefield. This gives an opportunity for you to be able to bolster your teammates’ creatures! This normally would be great for, say, Two-Headed Giant or Emperor. This is because you and your teammates are aligned 100% in your goals for winning.

However, because your teammates in JumpSTARt: Battle Royale are more like frenemies, it’s not as incentivizing to sacrifice your own board position in order to beef up either of your teammates’. The style of assistance to your teammates should be like, say, battle cry; where there’s incidental boosts for them for actions you wanted to already do anyway. It’s a low likelihood that you actually wanted to weaken your own creatures!

As for the daybound and nightbound mechanics — it’s true that day and night would trigger more frequently from turn to turn, due to twice as many players at once being prone to meet the condition. However, tracking day and night takes a bit of effort & complexity for what has become diminishing returns. If one player in five has a Werewolf, then all five players have to track their spell counts just for the sake of one player’s Werewolf. Not worth it!

If this were a different project — like, say, an Innistrad, traditional star format set; where everyone’s rocking some daybound/nightbound cards; then including cards with this mechanic would be more appropriate.

Illustrated by Zoltan Boros

’Til Next Time

Thanks for reading! Next, we’ll cover cards that satisfy one of the slots each packet has: the “multiplayer-effect” cards.

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