Magic: Channeling Land, Oona, and You

It’s been some time since I wrote the Channeling Land Magic variant. In my group we’ve been playing that flavor of Magic exclusively for several months now. There are just a couple of sticking points, which I’ll cover here and offer suggestions on how to smooth them over.

The Faerie Queen

By far the biggest point of concern in my group has been Oona, Queen of the Fae. While she’s quite the six-mana bomb, her ability becomes even more efficient when there are no lands (and thus fewer non-color cards) in an opponent’s library.

Playing Shadowmoor/Eventide already results in decks which are essentially mono-color, reducing the uncertainty of your color selection with Oona. Take out the lands and it’s often a pretty sure thing. At this point, her power level is out of proportion to the degree that our games weren’t fun when she showed up.

Adapting Oona’s Ability

Modify her ability as follows:

...For each card of the chosen color removed this way, roll 1d10. For each of those rolls of 5 or higher, put a 1/1 blue and black Faerie Rogue creature token with flying into play.

This modifies the ability to simulate the probability of failing by removing a land card from target opponent’s deck, assuming an average deck composition of two-fifths land. At this rate the queen should be back to producing faeries at about the expected pace; she’s still a powerful creature but hopefully this brings her ability back in line with what Wizards intended.

Adapting Land-Searching

Beyond the presence of Oona, there’s another small area of abilities that could use some attention. I mentioned previously that I thought land-searching abilities decreased in value a bit under Channeling Land. They can still offer some utility however, from mana acceleration to the simple effect of grabbing an extra land card (and allowing you to channel one fewer spell when trying to afford mana costs).

The simple solution is to change all land-searching abilities from, “you may search your library for a land card…” to “you may search your land pools for a land card…” instead. If the ability allows you to search for a basic land, you would still be searching for a basic land when looking through your pools. When searching your pools, you may search any or all of them, regardless of the type of land the ability indicates. If you do search your pools, shuffle each that you look through (separately) afterward.

This may make some land-searching cards useful useful enough to include again, which is good; after all, one of the goals of Channeling Land was to largely maintain a “normal” Magic play environment and include as many of the cards and abilities as possible.

Let me know in the comments if you have found any other sore points with Channeling Land, questions and suggestions are welcome!

  1.  
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    Mike Says:

    I think channeling has, for the most part, worked well for us Scott. I know Oona has been a hot topic, but your adaptive idea would certainly help balance her.

    I think the nice thing about the channeling variant is that you get to essentially play with 60 cool cards instead of 40. It gives you more options in dealing with your opponent(s)…though I do tend to channel the card I need most 2 turns later, heh.

  2.  

    As for the land searching, that is why in my variant I mentioned for limited play as soon as a card said “land” a card of the matching color was removed and a land was replaced. Sort of the same idea as channeling lands, but with a bit of a different twist.

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    Mike-

    I’ve been quite happy playing Channeling Land, really haven’t missed vanilla Magic once.

    The decisions of what card to channel when are great, I think. As I’m reading Rules of Play, which is basically THE textbook on game design, I find myself looking at those decisions as encouraging what the authors would call meaningful play… one of these days I’ll have to write more on the subject, because I really dig the book.

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    Josh-

    Thanks for reminding me, your Little Big Deck variant includes a slightly more advanced land-searching adaptation, and would certainly be viable with Channeling Land for anyone who’d prefer that the search still exact the price of a card from the searcher’s library.

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    Joe Says:

    Scott,
    I think Josh’s land variant is interesting and merits a try in our Channeling Land variant.
    I also dig the Oona variant. It makes her still awesome, but playable. Only 60% success instead of near 100%.
    I must agree that I haven’t missed vanilla Magic at all and have taken the Channeling Land variant we play as rote.
    I worry how my Slivers would do in this variant…

  6.  

    I have to admit, I haven’t played any magic in quite some time. I think in part this is due to Dominion and Race for the Galaxy. Magic was the game that a couple of us would turn to when there was only two or three people around to play games but with adding Race and Dominion to my collection (both games working very well with three players and Dominion being fine with two) there was less need for Magic.

    On the other hand, I am not sure if I would enjoy playing constructed Channel Lands. I like it theory, but I also like the increased difficulty of playing bombs that comes with standard Magic.

    Mostly I am just trying to avoid becoming one of those ex Magic players that now is a Magic hater. I still think the game, in many of its forms, has a lot of merit even if I don’t play the game myself much anymore.

  7.  

    I have to say, so far in our games the Hecatomb effect you mentioned before hasn’t really come up. Perhaps having only three players helps, it’s multiplayer but not the supremely slow pace of a big multiplayer game where you might hold out longer to drop threats or defenses.

    The other factor is that the elimination of land screw/land glut gives just as much of a boost to fast, mana-efficient decks as to bomb-heavy combos. I have found card selection to be, outside of a few minor instances, almost the same as it was under vanilla Magic and the same mana cost curve – just that now I’m building to 60 spells 🙂