SUD Effects: Territory
Updated: Jul 10, 2021
The Territory family of Effects manipulate the location and/or control of cards in a player’s card pool. As a reminder, a player’s card pool is all the cards a player owns and/or controls in stages 1-3 of the Lifecycle. Here also, we define a card's location as the base the card is played on. Be careful not to confuse a card's location with a card's Lifecycle stage. In SUDS, a card can be in the Play stage of its Lifecycle without having a location (e.g. standard actions). But if a card has a location, then it must be in the Play stage.
With the idea of a player’s territory, we have intentionally conflated the concepts of control and location. Smash Up often plays like an exchange of claims over the victory points on bases. When an opponent plays on a base where we have played, it can feel like an invasion of our “territory.” The inverse is true too; when we contribute power to bases where an opponent has played, it can feel like an invasion of their “territory” - a challenge to their claim. Similarly, when an opponent takes control of our cards, it feels like they have subverted our army and our cards' loyalties.
As such, the boundaries of a player's territory manifest in the shifting of board states and through the impact of abilities that manipulate the location and control of our cards in it.
Abilities that relocate cards using the “Move” or “Transfer” keywords.
Move, the most common Territory Effect in the game, lets us take a card on one base and put it on another. A simple and flexible Effect but constrained to cards in the Play stage. Requiring the "Move" or "Transfer" keywords helps us exclude pseudo-relocation cards like Terraforming and Hulk Smash, cards that would not trigger abilities that require movement like Blue Marvel.
Depending on the circumstances, Move abilities can be used for attack or defense and are a hallmark of the Control playstyle. Nothing else fancy to see here. Easy coding.
Abilities that remove cards from the active player’s card pool and adds those cards to another player’s card pool.
Back in the Lifecycle discussion, we highlighted how important it is to understand all the places a card can be. Similar to how a card can only exist in one Lifecycle stage at a time, a card can only exist under one player’s control at a time. Thus, the idea of a card pool was born because we needed a way to represent all the possible targets for cards that manipulate card control and, more broadly, the concept of possession.
The rulebook does not treat cards in Deck or Hand to be under anyone’s control and yet we hold them in our hand or draw them from our deck. From a rulebook perspective, when the Anansi Tales player places Pot of Beans in our hand, we do not have control over Pot of Beans like we would over Sneaky Squire – a card put under our control that is in Play.
Bottom line is that “control” is not so clear cut, and that it came in two distinct flavors – cards that give and cards that take. It would have been misleading to lump them all into one overarching “control” Effect category. So we separated them out; just like that.
Abilities that remove cards from another player’s card pool and adds those cards to the active player’s card pool.
We are taking a few liberties with the word active because the “current” player is the player whose turn it is, but cards with Give or Take effects are not guaranteed to be played by the current player. So, we call the player who is playing a card the “active” player. By defining an active player and the card pool, we can cleanly define the opposite and territorial nature of Give and Take abilities.
Pillage was a notable decision point for us because it made us realize that increasing hand-size is not the same as drawing a card. This helped us towards discovering the Lifecycle model and established the Take Effect too.
Abilities that alter base values, base abilities, and what bases are in Play.
The quintessential Territory Effect, Tailor is SUDS’ catch-all for base-manipulation abilities. The category name is a reference to base’s being like the fabric of the game. We were careful to specify in each Effect definition whether the Effect interacts with base cards. Playing Monsters on a base will increase that base’s breakpoint, so cards like Taunter or Mass Summoning are Tailor abilities. Similarly, cards that remove Monsters like Big Hero end up lowering a base’s breakpoint and are also a Tailor.
Territory doesn't show up in SUDS beyond describing this particular set of Effects, but now that I am aware of it, I've started seeing tactics more clearly.
By design, all these Effects are special. But the final family is truly... Unique!