In the last month, I’ve had ample amount of time to finish reading The Broken Eye (Lightbringer #3) and digest everything in this great series. Now Nine Kings doesn’t play as large a role in this book as the previous one, but it’s certainly there in the undercurrent. Once again, I’ll try to keep the spoilers to a minimum. However, Nine Kings in particular is very interwoven with the storyline, so if you’re debating reading these books and just stumbled upon this post, nookmark it, go read them, and come back in a month (or however fast you read) and then check out my ramblings. Not too much I can do about that one.
Lightbringer is a relatively new series by Brent Weeks, right now there’s three books out. When I first started reading this series it was tauted as a Trilogy (as is pretty common in Fantasy-land), but it looks like there was a little bit of overflow so it looks like there should be one more coming. I’ll read most fantasy books I hear good things about, but if you’re going to be a High Fantasy setting, I’m a huge sucker for unique Magic systems (like the metal based system in Mistborn). Well, here’s another very interesting Magic system, Chromaturgy is based on light. Each drafter can channel one or more colors of light and create “luxin” which is basically a solid form of the colored light. Anyway, if you’re up for another series, and like interesting magic systems like I do, check out Lightbringer. (The Black Prism is the first book)
THIS IS YOUR LAST WARNING: There are definitely going to be some plot related spoilers in this post.
Reading the passages of Nine Kings as a former (recovering?) Magic player, there are many many similarities. Most of the appearances of Nine Kings appear in the second book (Blinding Knife), where one of the main POVs Kip is basically blackmailed into playing the game against his Grandfather. Wagers are placed on each match (not unlike Ante from early day Magic). The biggest difference is card creation, basically anyone can “print” their own cards and use them against each other.
One last important note is that turns are timed. So if you take too long thinking, your turn will end and your opponent will take advantage. The game is on a level with Chess, where the greatest minds of the world play it, people compare it with dealing with people (both diplomatically and on the battlefield), and there are great number of expert level books on the topic.
Book Quotes (mostly from Blinding Knife)
“Andross Guile said nothing else. He played his first card, setting the scene. Kip played. He played one of his good cards too early—which he only realized at the end of the game—and got slaughtered”
This is one of the first game specific elements about 9K. “Setting the scene” sounds something like a “World Enchantment” in Magic speak. I know these cards are no longer printed, but it’s basically a type of card that globally effects things.
“But three rounds in, he lost it. Got befuddled, didn’t move before his timer ran out.”
The timer is an interesting piece. It doesn’t work like a Chess timer, where you get a certain amount of time for the whole game. The books say it’s a sand timer, but how does it work? Does each player get one sand timer for their whole turn? If I play fast enough, does that mean my opponent gets less time (timer not starting at 0)? Does each player get multiple timers, so your opponent is just in charge of giving you a full timers worth when your turn starts?
“It became a game of mathematics, managing piles of numbers and playing odds. Playing against a certain deck in a certain situation, your opponent would have a one in twenty-seven chance of having the perfect card to stop you.”
1 in 27 is a curious reference here. Does that mean deck sizes are 27 cards? 54 would make sense, that’s the size of a standard deck of cards plus 2 jokers (which makes me think of the Doomtown CCG/LCG). So if I only have two artifact removal cards in my deck, and my opponent plays a devastating artifact (Winter Orb, Ensnaring Bridge, etc)
“They’re sometimes known as the black cards, or the heresy cards. The odds of the entire game have shifted without those cards. Some cards can’t be countered in ways they easily could have when those cards were in play, and so forth. … you won’t win against someone playing with black cards. ”
This game has been around for ages, and keeps evolving. Just like Magic, some of the very early cards are just a completely different power level as modern cards.
“I am a Maker. We are not mere artists; we are the caretakers of history. The cards are history. Each one tells a truth, a story.”
The card designers are unique individuals who craft original cards with special abilities. From these originals, they are copied throughout the world by lesser artists, or skilled crafstmen.
Outside the Book:
“Thank you to mathematics professor Dr. N. Willis, who read The Black Prism and immediately asked me if I’d played Magic: The Gathering. (His sneaky way of seeing if I would play with him, without admitting his geekery straight out.) I had never played MtG, but soon saw the mathematical beauty of the game. The seed for the in-world game Nine Kings was planted there (though the mechanics and play are different). To forestall some emails I know I’ll get about this: Yes… but it’ll be years. ”
Each player needs a constructed deck of cards. Theoretically, they should agree on which cards are legal (see heresy cards above) and agree on a wager. For now, let’s say this deck is 54 cards.
Settings – These cards affect where the match will take place.(Enchantments?) Typically played by the first player. These a
Sources – How you afford to play your cards. Different colors for each spectrum of Light. (Land) Different Sources provide light of different colors, red walls of a castle, grass, forest, blue sky. Either player are allowed to draft form sources.
Allies – Primary damage dealing card type (“Superchromat” spells wouldn’t fail )
Spells – Cards that have an effect on the game, but aren’t a permanent object. (Disarm)
Items – Permanent objects that aren’t actually people/monsters. (Sword)
While there are limited aspects of how the deck construction and play work, there are some ideas in the books. Andross Variant: Each player has 5 seconds on the sand timer to act during their turn. Players are allowed to influence how long turns are based on playing cards (such as the Green card “Panic”). Going first means you get to declare the Setting (either via a card in your hand, or by simple declaration?). Going second allows you to draw an extra card.
I know the author says the game plays much different, but there are a lot of similarities. Shared Resources allows for players to play more spells, although each turn there’s probably a limit in how much you are allowed to play. Attacking and blocking sound very similar, so it’s hard to see how they are different.