SUD Effects: Power
Updated: Jul 10, 2021
These series headers are not part of the formal SUDS Effects taxonomy, but they help with organizing the narrative. The Power family of Effects was by far the easiest to define and code, so it doesn't need much of an introduction. Although, we do need to have a little chat about an important SUD System distinction between ability mechanics and ability effects, a distinction best illustrated by how SUDS evaluates +1 power counter abilities.
When analyzing card abilities, we must always remember that mechanisms used to produce game effects are separate from the game effects themselves. For example, placing two +1 power counters on a single minion using Headlong increases the power of that minion, but so too does playing Upgrade on a minion for an ongoing +2 power.
Power gain is power gain, whether it lasts until the end of the turn or lasts indefinitely from ongoing abilities. As such, any temporal restrictions on an ability are part of its How (i.e. how long does this ability's effect last?). In fact, any conditions required to produce an effect are part of the How (i.e. how does this ability's effect activate?). We designed the SUDS' Effects to represent the irreducible What of Smash Up abilities.
Separating the How of an ability (e.g. +X power counters; ongoing +x power) from the What of an ability (e.g. increase player power on base) makes analyzing the game way easier and allows for exciting new discoveries.
Abilities that increase power values.
Empower is one of the most common Effects in the game with a clean and simple definition. A power value here refers to any stored instance of power. We have identified only two power values affected by card abilities - a minion’s power value (printed + modifiers) and a player’s total power value (minion power values + modifiers on a base). Our definition of Empower, therefore, extends to capture actions on bases like Aggromotive and even oddballs like Mimic.
Abilities that decrease power values.
Weaken Effects are straightforward too. However, an explanation is warranted for why the transfer of +1 power counters is not an Effect. After all, transferring is a verb and appears to be something an ability does. However, we must remember our rule that we do not create a new Effect unless the existing ones fail to capture what an ability does. Transferring +1 power counters simultaneously increases and decreases power values, which means transferring +1 power counters is a mechanic, not an Effect. Therefore, abilities that deploy the transfer +1 power counter mechanic should be coded as producing both an Empower and a Weaken Effect.
Our determination holds up even in cases where the transfer occurs between minions controlled by the same player on the same base. While the end result is a net zero gain/loss for a player’s total power value, this doesn’t change the fact that power was removed from a minion (decreasing its power value) and added to another minion (increasing its power value).
The Power family expands our understanding of why it is beneficial to distinguish mechanics from effects - separating the How of abilities from the What of abilities. And yet, all this Power could easily go to waste without the Knowledge to back it up. Segue!!!