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PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2018 2:51 pm 
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Hello there everyone, I used to be a member here about four years ago. I just sort of fell off the face of the earth, stopped playing the game, and I'm not entirely sure that I've returned. However, there has been something nagging at the back of my mind for a while now, and that is Portal: Three Kingdoms. This was something that I rather treasure a great deal. I never had access to more than a handful of cards, but it combined two of my greatest hobbies at the time: MTG and Romance of the Three Kingdoms (or RTK). I experimented with other sets, created a few very amateurish ones of my own at some point, and overall had fun, but I feel like because I left something unfinished. So, here I will - sporadically - work on a block composed of three sets. I'm a crazy, kooky twenty-something, so naturally I have boundless confidence before I even begin working on the cards themselves. At the moment, themes are what I'm interested in. So, without further adieu, here's what I have in mind.

Magic, but without most of Magic

Now most of the fun of Magic the Gathering is the fantasy elements. Pictures of dragons, elves, and artifacts were probably among the top lures that brought many of us to the enterprise. While Magic often looks to the past for inspiration for some of their more flavorful worlds, it is a very rare thing for them to deal with settings that does not have many fantasy elements. The Three Kingdoms period does not offer much in the way of fantasy elements to play around with, which is going to make turning this set interesting a little more difficult. The more historical one makes it, the less of an opportunity there is for fun. As such, I will endeavor to incorporate some of the fantasy elements that get introduced to the period from novelizations and plays, which allows for some fantasy, but it will be a low-fantasy environment. Most of the magic will be tied to Green and Red, with some in blue, and none in Black and White. This plays mostly in the themes I want to engage in. White and Black represent civilization in its positive and negative aspects, Blue represents change and innovation within civilization alongside some mystical qualities with regards to celestial knowledge, and Green and Red represent the peaceful and chaotic forces of nature.

So what is that fantasy? This is a human centered block, so there are no elves, dwarves, or merfolk. There are some animals that exist, but like the original Portal Three Kingdoms set they will be green. Beyond that some fantasy creatures will be included, as they fit into the mythical/historical setting. The Four Symbols will play some part, I imagine, as I can work them in. There are also dragons that get mentioned in both the books, and a few are cited in the historical records of the time as omens. Magic spells and sorcery will be represented by a small number of cards, probably no more than 2 or 3 per set. Immortals exist in the set, but these will also be rare and green. This should be far away from the focus of the set, which is instead on the flavor of the story.

A Story in Three

The Three Kingdoms/Later Han contention is a near-century long civil war that took place with the fall of the Han Dynasty in Early Medieval China. A good comparison would be the third century crisis of Rome, as the two were roughly concurrent and involved somewhat similar problems. The block will not cover the conclusion of the period, but will rather serve as set-up for the mid-section. This is where most of the romance of the period is located, as when asked about the period most people will engage in what happens at this part of the story and history. Should I feel especially daring, I may add a fourth section that concludes the block, but right now I am focused on the first bit.

The set will open in the waning days of the Han Dynasty. Here the Han Dynasty is failing, but all within the structures of power are either blind to that fact, or hoping to capitalize on its failures. The Han Dynasty isn't meant to be a playable deck, so much as an ever-present force at the start. It is principally white, but contains blue, black, and green. Blue, black, and green are divided, probably about half, between those that support the Han flavor-fully, and those that do not. Red is the catalyst that brings the whole franchise to its knees, and it is represented predominately by the Yellow Turbans - though there will be bandits and others that are present at this stage in the background. Mono-Red should be a playable deck, while the other colors lack synergy by design. Playable, but usually forced to splash white. This is by design as you're not supposed to be able to escape Han just yet. However, in constructed play, other decks should be viable (we want this to be fun after all, and encourage experimentation). Most of the mechanics that will define later sets will be introduced minimally here. The set should also be small, 160 cards +/- 15, and remind people of a core set.

The second set will take place during the chaos of Dong Zhuo's ascension and the warlord period that immediately follows. This set will have ten factions, each competing for power. While not directly inspired by Ravnica, I won't be opposed to taking heavy influence from them in order to best represent them. However, it won't be nearly as quirky as all that. Each color represents a certain force in this setting, and so the pairs will correspond to that flavor-wise and mechanic wise. Given the type of setting, mechanics are going to be hard to work out, but the factions should be able to tell a story simply by the cards and decks that are constructed. Each faction should be playable, fun, and encouraged from the outset in constructed and limited. Tricolor experimentation should work to a great degree as well, which encourages mechanically the next set. While the first set will have a lot of monocolors, most of this set will be two colored. Though perhaps something only a few people will appreciate at the moment, the factions and color affiliations are as follows: White/Blue - Liu Biao, White/Black - Cao Cao, White/Red - Yuan Shao, White/Green - Liu Bei, Blue/Black - Yuan Shu, Blue/Red - Sun Ce, Blue/Green - Liu Zhang, Black/Red - Dong Zhuo, Black/Green - Zhang Lu, Red/Green - Ma Teng. This will be the largest set, around 240 cards.

The Third Set covers the establishment of the Three Kingdoms proper from around Chi Bi (timeline wise) onward. The chaos of the warlord period is over, leaving just three major factions left. Other warlords exist, at least temporarily, and will be represented with some cards, but they won't be independent decks in this set. They have to be used within others. To represent the conclusion of that period, but still not the neat order of other sets that feature this color mechanic properly, the three major factions will be tricolored. Cao Cao is black, white and blue. Liu Bei is white, green and red. Sun Quan is Blue, red and green. Cao Cao's Wei faction is composed of colors representing human civilization. He has managed to unite two thirds of the country under his banner and is working to restore the past system, though under his absolute control. Both Liu Bei and Sun Quan are leaders of smaller factions in the southern backwater portion of the country protected by mountains and rivers near as much by their own armies and oppose the Wei. As such both are heavy in the chaotic and pacific realm of nature, both red and green, along with a principle anchor of civilization. Liu Bei vows opposes Cao Cao's control over the past hierarchy and fears its replacement. As such his faction is principally white. Sun Quan represents a different direction, largely liberated from the past. As such, his faction is principally blue. Both Sun Quan and Liu Bei were allies historically, so it makes sense that both share more in common color-wise as well. Usually tricolor sets have five factions, but I have no desire to force that here where it wouldn't belong. As such one color will be top-heavy, and that is black. Cao Cao will have more black, and there will be more monocolored black cards as a means to compensate that imbalance. This will be a small set, around 160.

Mechanics of Play

This is the most fuzzy at the moment, but here are a few things I want to find a way to incorporate or work around.

Generic Enchantments will work like battlefield strategies, providing broad bonuses to your side of the field or doing something to restrict the opponent's play.
Enchantment Auras will act as support in some manner, perhaps like riding a horse or providing additional abilities.

Weaponry and Armor can be incorporated fairly easily. This is a time period centered around warfare after all. There won't be too many though.
Artifacts can exist as well generically, but should be used sparingly.

Sorceries will act as ruses or political strategies.
Instants will act as battlefield tactics, and will usually be defensive in nature.

These sets will be legendary heavy, as I imagine almost every rare creature will be legendary or thematically/favorfully significant.

Creature abilities will be worked out in such a way that makes each faction significant and unique.

Generic abilities that will span all or most factions are Horsemanship and an ability called Stratagem. Stratagem will simply be turning the ability that many cards in the Portal Three Kingdoms had that was nameless. Two variations of the ability will be present, perhaps requiring two different abilities. The first is after you declare attackers, but before your opponent declares blockers, you may pay x and tap a creature to produce a result. The second would be after your opponent declares attackers, but before you declare blockers. (Perhaps a way to do this would be during a player's main phase after attackers have been declared, but before defenders have been declared, xxx)

An example might be: Stratagem (On your turn after you've declared attackers, but before you declare blockers) - target creature your opponent controls gets -1/-1 until end of turn.

Concluding Thoughts

I know that this idea is a little crazy, and I am unlikely to complete it any time soon. However, I am open to any and all feedback! Feel free to comment at any time telling me how amazing or amazingly bad you think this project has the potential to be. I may post the idea around a bit in some other areas I frequent just to see what others think, depending on how it goes.


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 08, 2018 3:46 pm 
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Portal: Three Kingdoms, the Old Set, for reference and comparison.

white

blue

black

red

green


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2018 6:25 pm 
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I'm thinking for a few days....


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2018 2:58 pm 
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I'm thinking for a few days....

I welcome it! I'll be writing something up soon and doing some more sorting as prep work. I don't want this to be a project that goes Legendary Creature first, but something more holistic.


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