Hi there Mages!

Today we’ll be talking about a fluid way to handle an element that is rigid by nature. Today, we’ll talk about the Sable expansion.

Râ's wrath

Râ’s wrath by Jessica Heran

Oh by the way, you may have noticed by now, but we decided to keep the French terms of the elements as our expansion names. We know a sable is a small mammal (and a very cute one with that) but in French, “Sable” is just the word for sand.

Why go for sand?

We’d say that out of the 6 elements, Mineral as it is in the “Way of the Warrior Mage” expansion, is the toughest one to apprehend. Not that it is very hard to understand (put on big armor, then do big damage). But rather, it requires players to handle their components with care, given how they need to be used for two very different purposes (as rocks, or as ores). This makes Mineral quite rigid and a bit on the slower side. Thus, we wanted to provide players with a simpler approach to the Mineral gameplay while still keeping its core. We wanted it to be a bit more fluid to play, faster to get on board, but yet still having defensive abilities with a strong late game threat level.

With these objectives in mind, sand seemed like the obvious choice, and we went for it.

After all, isn’t sand a fluid version of rocks by definition?

Monarchical faceoff

The Sable expansion narrates the tale of two monarchs locked in a fierce battle for the throne. Ptolemy XIV, determined to retain the Egyptian crown, faces off against his renowned sister, Cleopatra, who is equally prepared to reclaim it, even by force.

Both monarchs are formidable wielders of Sand magic, and eliminating Mages as powerful as they are would demand an enormous amount of time and planning or another Mage Noir of their caliber. Eager to resolve the conflict swiftly for the benefit of their country, they opted for a straightforward solution—an individual battle, one-on-one.

While both employ sand as their primary weapon, their techniques diverge significantly. Ptolemy, equipped with iron will and a rare talent for brute force, can manipulate massive amounts of sand, hurling them at his opponents with a focus on raw power. In contrast, Cleopatra excels in finesse and highly technical prowess, shaping sand precisely to fit the demands of each situation.

So what is sand about?

The 3 key concepts of sand are:

  • Allocation
  • Fluidity
  • Harshness

Sand is deconstructed Mineral, and as such, we decided that this iteration of the Mineral elements needed a little deconstruction to really shine from a design perspective. From the different approach to components they have to the way they fuel your stronger spells. Sand (and desert) spells have a strong identity.

What we did with sand

The first concept we’ve worked on with sand is fluidity. Just like water is fluid, sand can move some Mana around from one spell to another in order to fuel their power. However, unlike water which comes from sources and great bodies of water like the ocean, we wanted sand to be a slightly rarer resource. You’d have to be more careful with how you use it, and more importantly, where you use it. This is how we tackled the idea of “allocation”. Because while water spells can be fed gradually after they have been created, sand spells get a precise amount of sand used right when they are made. Which makes quite a difference.

In this expansion, most of your damaging or defensive spells will require you to use the Mineral Mana under your sand spells to fuel their power. This Mineral Mana is the sand you have to create your spells. Use everything on a huge wall for defense and you won’t have any sand left for your next spell. This is simple to understand, but requires the player to make tough decisions.

Should they go all in on offense? Should they stack defense while waiting to create more sand?

Of course they could get more fuel by simply channeling more sand spells, or by reusing scattered sand that is left from their previous creations. Simple components like “Fine sand” allows for this kind of recycling.

Fine sand

Sand however, needed to be harsh, and needed to keep its element identity by having strong late game threats, as well as potent defensive abilities.

Spells like Desert hand and Seed of the sands allow sand players to create quite efficient defenses to respond to early aggression but fall short before strong bursts of damage.

Desert hand     Seed of the sands

When it comes to being harsh however, the threat of getting punched in the face by a desert meteor 4 times in a row could make the opponent understand why a sand wielding mage with unlimited access to resources could become a serious threat if left unchecked.

Desert meteor     Oasis

Giving an edge to your swords

Unlike other elements though, this expansion also had another bonus objective that we felt needed to be addressed. Equipment is a key part of Mineral’s identity. And while the sand really fits the earth wielding boulder hurling mages, we felt it was not as much in sync with the type of mage that would wear heavy armors (Simply because wearing heavy plate armor in the desert does not seem like a good idea).

So instead of creating equipment, we created a plethora of new tools that would make already existing equipment more fun to play with.

Reforge     Glass replica

We wanted this expansion to allow players to rethink their decks revolving around equipment, and see if they could make it work in another way. We hope you’ll have fun with these.

Resources are scarce in the desert

Now for its main weakness, sand spells don’t produce that much sand on their own. Which is why key cards like Fine sand are quite important to ensure the archetype runs smoothly.

However, while they are great enablers for other spells, simple sand spells don’t do much on their own, and represent precious cards that could have been used for damage or defense. So while a sand deck will get to play much sooner than a rock deck, it will also feel how scarce resources are in the desert when you traverse it unprepared. And it will feel so much sooner than its rocky counterpart.

That mid game loss of momentum is a great window for any well prepared deck to strike their defenses down, and go for the kill.

See you next time Mages!

We hope this talk about the sand archetype gave you a better understanding of what we tried to do with it. We quite like how it turned out as we find its feeling quite thematic and its mechanics quite fun to play around with.

Now there is only one element left, and we can’t wait to talk about it. So see you soon Mages, and until then, take care of yourselves, and have fun!

~ Everyone at Double Combo Games