Most Magic players are aware of the power of fast mana. Being able to play more, better spells earlier than you normally would be able to is a huge advantage, to the point that cards such as Mana Vault, Lotus Petal and the Moxen have ended up being banned for it.
But there’s one card in this group that has never gotten as much respect as the others and that’s Grim Monolith. Is it truly that powerful? And if so, what makes it fly under the radar so much compared to other similar cards?
Huge concrete silos rise proud against the stunning American landscape. Factories and warehouses grow alongside a railroad, so infinite that it disappears with the horizon. Science and architecture present themselves as the bringers of a new, modern age where work and industry rule the universe.
In this world, two ideologies fight for supremacy. At least, in theory.
Powerful aliens meet in Cosmic Encounter. One of them, Chronos, has the power to go back in time and force the opponent to replay a battle if he loses. Another, Zombie, has immortal ships and Mutant always keeps 8 cards in hand, taking more of them from the deck (or his opponents) if necessary. The strangest of them all, the Schizoid, changes the winning conditions of the game itself, forcing other players to try and guess which one he has chosen.
And then, there’s the Philanthropist. Compared to these powerhouses, it not only seems weak, but counterproductive. Why would you want to give cards to your opponent? Doesn’t that help them? Many players glaze over him, dismissing him as a joke or a narrow way to help an ally.
But not only it’s a tremendous power, it’s an insidious one and also a great piece of game design.
“So it’s just like Condottiere” I remember thinking when I first heard about Gwent. And when I first saw it on the table and played it, there was no doubt; Gwent was quite literally the same game. Same rules, same cards, same weather-inmune heroes and same scarecrow that returns cards to your hand.
At first I thought it was a new release based on Sapkowski’s fantasy world but I soon started to have doubts: The credits of the game did not mention its designer, but another man: Damein Monnier. Continue reading »