Looking at a Random Card: Champion’s Drake

(What am I doing here? Read here!)

Champion’s Drake: Yet another creature. Seems I have to wait patiently for the law of large numbers to kick in…

This might become a short entry, since actually all I really can talk about is the level up mechanic, which simply sucks. Okay: I don’t mean every single card using it sucks, but as a mechanic overall, this is a major flop. It is unwieldy. It is inelegant. It requires yet another kind of counters to be put on your cards. It is, in most cases, excruciatingly slow (and it has to be to fulfill its intended function). It encourages you to put all your eggs in one basket (the German expression “alles auf eine Karte setzen” is so literally true here it’s hilarious!), spending several turns’ worth of mana on a single permanent, creating much of the same effect as auras do (although the issue here is tempo disadvantage, not card disadvantage). Also, in the end, these cards achieve very few things which +1/+1 counters (possibly coupled with an ability depending on their existence) and expensive activated abilities (to mimic their function of giving you lategame value when you have nothing better to do with your mana anyway) couldn’t do. In a way, they are similar to double-faced cards, adding complicated new logistics to gameplay for novelty value and flavor. Only a handful of level up cards play really well, and none of those would change essentially if they had just a single activated ability transforming them form their original state to the next more powerful. Yes, the most powerful states are splashy and probably give those cards Timmy appeal, but in actual play they are always almost a “win-more” not worth the creation of such a complicated mechanic.

Building a constructed or even casual deck around level up is effectively impossible – even with Venerated Teacher and proliferating cards as support, it is just too slow and too vulnerable. The Drake obviously needs such a deck, though, but if that deck ever works well enough that the Drake is of any use, the big flyer will most likely not be needed anymore. In Limited, on the other hand, this is a great example of a card which encourages you to construct your deck around a certain theme, but is way too swingy. There are similar issues with Griffin Rider in M12 – a card which I might put into an environment to encourage drafters to move into the griffin tribe, but NEVER at common! The Drake is even worse, though, since it is at the same time harder to “turn on”, and also more likely to be a win-more, since fulfilling the condition which it depends upon is an indication that things already go your way.

Champion’s Drake is a parasitic card; it feeds off a mechanic which is badly designed; and it does not even improve an environment it is in (to the contrary). I like the illustration, but that alone is not enough for even a slight upgrade. This is an E.

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8 Comments on “Looking at a Random Card: Champion’s Drake”

  1. atog28 Says:

    Whoa, why don’t you show the card your’re talking about first? As there’s no mouseover, ignorant people have to click the link. Those people keep forgetting the ‘back’ button though…

    • atog28 Says:

      Speaking of ignorant people… I found the discussion tab in gatherer. You can discuss cards over there with maybe thousands of other people. Wouldn’t that be the place to continue this series. And pointing to the entries of about 25 at a time in a single blog? At least that’s what Aaron has done twice already.

      • I lack the technical skills to provide mouseovers. However, the danger of people clicking the link and not going back should be reduced greatly because the link opens in a new window.

        I’m not sure you’re serious about the idea to post on the Gatherer discussion boards instead of blogging. As to your last suggestion: That’s what I have the index for.

    • It seems really useful… but unless I’m totally mistaken, it is a plug-in for self-hosted blogs using the wordpress-org software and thus nothing I can implement on ZEROMAGIC?

  2. atog28 Says:

    Haven’t found any clue on their page yet but it should also work for blogs hosted here. Installing doesn’t need any uploads usually.

    • This is awkward, because I am aware I know next to nothing about this stuff, while you have a lot of experience, but I still have to ask you: Do you actually have a clue how this works? It’s a honest question, because I really don’t see what you’re referring to.

      From the wordpress support documents:

      “Plugins are tools used to extend the functionality of the WordPress platform. However, they are only applicable to self-hosted blogs and web sites using the WordPress.org”software.”

      From the readme.txt from the downloaded plugin:

      “== Installation ==

      1. Upload the full directory into your wp-content/plugins directory
      2. Activate the plugin through the ‘Plugins’ menu in WordPress
      3. Enjoy”

      I don’t have such a directory anywhere on my computer, and I wouldn’t know how to access such a directory – if it exists at all – on the server side. I also have no “Plugins” menu anywhere in my blog menu.

      That is actually what I believe is to be expected, so I’m really lost why you, with roughly 10000% more knowledge than me about these things, believe otherwise. Please enlighten me!

      • atog28 Says:

        I haven’t that much experience in hosting a blog at wordpress, so if they don’t allow for plug-ins, which I had positively hoped for or even expected to be true, it turns out that it’s not. Sorry.

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