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Forget not that I am a derp.

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  • Today
    Welcome to the Herd

    Had a random thought a bit ago, and I finally figured out how to finish it. So, with apologies to Bo Burnham...

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    7 comments · 178 views
  • Sunday
    Friendship is Card Games: Starlight Glimmer and the Secret Suite

    So. Funny story about this week. The original plan was for the most recent G5 IDW issue and the first issue of Classics Reimagined: The Unicorn of Odd… but it turns out the former is the first half of a two-parter. I don’t like the idea of going over two incomplete stories, and without either second part currently available, that means we turn to the next part of the G4 backlog… which is a

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    5 comments · 123 views
  • 1 week
    Venture Fourth

    October’s rolling around, and that has certain implications for me. Especially given certain upcoming milestones. So, given that, who thinks they'll be available to read some stories in a few months?

    Your lucky numbers are 4, 7, 10, 13, 50, 82

    19 comments · 268 views
  • 1 week
    Friendship is Card Games: Rural Renewal and Camp Bighoof #1

    If we’re going in strict chronological order of release, I should’ve gone for Camp Bighoof before Endless Summer, but it is what it is. Let’s see what I missed out on last time, while also chipping away at the main line backlog.

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    3 comments · 139 views
  • 2 weeks
    Friendship is Card Games: Violette Tendencies and Endless Summer

    Going to split my focus between main issues and specials for a few weeks, especially since this special is a one-shot.

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    4 comments · 192 views

Friendship is Card Games: Princess Cadance and the Spring Hearts Garden · 11:58am May 28th

We now come to the novel I put off last week. It does present a truly rare opportunity: A chance to flesh out Cadence. We got the story of her ascension in the novels, after all. Let’s see what this one offers.

Yes, the book spells it “Cadance.” As ever, I recognize that canon has made a decision, but given that it’s a stupid decision, I’ve elected to ignore it.

The name of the very first chapter is “Heartsong,” but I doubt we’re getting confirmation of the term I’ve seen some people use in reference to Equestria’s spontaneous musical numbers.

Ah, indeed not. It is instead the name of a Crystal Heart viewing festival in the Empire, performed on Hearts and Hooves Day with Cadence and Shining Armor conducting songs… one that was woefully underpopulated this year due to “a horrible case of the pony sniffles.” And this is a major concern, because this is one of the festivals that keeps the Heart charged.

It’s unclear whether this was a long-standing tradition or newly created as part of the Heart’s post-Flurry recovery, but this is set after her crystalling, and Cadence isn’t taking any chances. The winter was already worse than usual for the Empire, and there’s a chance the barrier could fail again.

There’s a lovely moment between the royal couple where Shining reinforces Cadence’s resolve with nothing more than a nod. Love to see nonverbal communication between people who are that close.

Interesting to see that “Crystal pony” is capitalized here. Feels like a chicken-and-egg issue with the ponies and the empire; which is named after which?

We get confirmation that Hearts and Hooves Day happens at the tail end of winter… which doesn’t really gel with the weather during the love poison debacle, but it’s not like spring is really a thing this far north. Not outside of the Heart’s influence, anyway.

I do appreciate how Flurry is explicitly described as having “oversized wings.” Less a fan of Cadence “[pointing] daintily” at the Heart during her closing speech; that just feels unnecessary.

Ah. This isn’t a cappella; there’s musical accompaniment by “the Crystal Sym-pony Orchestra.”
… I hope this will be the only time I want to slap G. M. Berrow today. It probably won’t be, but I can hope.

Despite the low turnout (and shaky rhythm in the song lyrics,) the Heart still gets a sizable charge, and Cadence is confident that the Empire is safe for another season. (There’s also a mention of “get-well soup,” which I’m going to assume doesn’t involve chicken broth. Though this far north, who knows? Maybe the broth is yeti-based.)

Lovely moment with Shining teasing Cadence by calling her “Mi Amore” to get her out of her own head. We’re seven pages in and these two already have more chemistry than they got in some of their appearances on the show.

Oh dear. It turns out that Shining Armor hates cold weather. That’s a bitter bit of irony. I suppose the city that Celestia calls home would be a bit warmer than average, even when on the side a mountain.

Cadence notices some lingering festival-goers looking to have an audience with her, and sends Shining and Flurry on ahead with promises of hot cocoa later. Shining’s excitement feels a bit much, but it’s not like Berrow writes most characters with maturity beyond that of the target audience.

“The self-elected leader” of the group of five hits Cadence with a wall of text that would do Pinkie proud, harkening back to the days before Sombra and a similar situation when so many Crystallites went to a Hearts and Hooves event in Canterlot… which raises a number of questions, given that the trains almost certainly weren’t in service at the time, to say nothing of the history of the holiday. It’s possible she’s making things up to fill in the trauma-induced hole in her memories, but with Berrow, I’m not confident of that.

This is Lilac Quartz, which we know because Cadence makes a point of remembering the names of everypony she meets. Plus she runs Cadence’s favorite cafe in the Empire. One of Lilac’s friends, Rose Water, encourages the royal couple to come by more often. Especially Shining Armor. (Cadence shoots this down with merciless, plausibly deniable grace. No word on whether Rose Water is involved with the design of any card games.)

The conversation shifts to Olivine Jewel, Lilac’s daughter, who Cadence fondly remembers as a filly making crystal berry tarts at the cafe. Well, now she’s a moody teenager, outside of the age range of Cadence’s foalsitting experience, and still a blank flank. The good news is that she has found something that, to her, is neither boring nor embarrassing.

The bad news is that it’s the Crystal Heart nearly exhausted of all power.

The next chapter opens with Cadence storming into her living quarters after giving the Heart an emergency boost of love magic, which is very much not a sustainable solution. What’s interesting is that the Heart’s magic is apparently the only thing holding it together; the story treats it running out of power and shattering as one and the same. Flurry really did do a number on the poor thing.

Cadence slips on a gown left on the floor—you’d think she’d have maids for this sort of thing—and by the time she hits the floor, her fall is softened by fresh grass. The sun is shining, the flowers are blooming, ponies are laughing… it’s the titular spring garden she was hoping to see and fears she never will.

The vision vanishes in a flash of blue, leaving Cadence in her sitting room with questions in her mind and a gown tangled around her hooves. Fascinating stuff; I am absolutely in favor of Cadence continuing to grow into her power over the decades.

Ah. Apparently, while Shining has the meticulous neatness you’d expect from Twilight Sparkle’s brother, Cadence is a bit of a slob in terms of leaving her stuff everywhere. Again, you’d think they’d have maids for that kind of thing. Heck, I could see the crystal ponies volunteering for servile positions at the castle despite the royal couple’s protests.

Oh. Apparently Cadence has been having visions of the future since she was a filly. Celestia’s hypothesis is that she got the ability through her defeat of Prismia. So this is less the growing ineffable power at her command and more a roughly crowbarred-in plot device. Amazing how quickly a clumsy explanation can make something far less interesting. :ajbemused:

Still, this isn’t even the first vision Cadence had today, an unprecedented event for her. The earlier one was of the Crystal Heart, its light extinguished as when Sombra ruled. Shining tries to her assure her they have nothing to worry about from that “nasty dude” (yes, that’s a direct quote from him) but Cadence is determined to make sure she can protect her subjects, and that means using one vision to negate the other. The foreseen garden will guarantee that the Heart will never want for love and light again.

”Cool with me.” Shining Armor shrugged with a smile. “But can we at least have that hot cocoa first?”

I hate to break this to you, Lovebutt, but you married a himbo.

By the next morning, Cadence is brimming with plans to redo the Heartsong bigger and better than before, some from her visions, some from later brainstorming. This is interrupted by a royal guard with a vital message from Celestia, “for Commander Shining Armor’s eyes only.” And yes, that means even Cadence isn’t privy to it.

It’s just a matter of starting recruitment trials early. At least, that’s what Shining tells Cadence. It’s especially bizarre since “The princesses didn’t normally keep things from one another.” You know, unless one of those princesses is Twilight.

In any case, Shining goes with the messenger—it’s almost like making the head of your military the ruler of a remote city-state without appointing a replacement is a bad idea—but not before he asks Cadence to get an assistant rather than try to shoulder the burden of the festival on her own. She insists she’s got this. I’m sure that won’t come back to bite her.

Cadence heads to the site of her vision, the “empire garden, by master gardener ‘a. s.’,” which turns out to be a dilapidated mess behind a set of half-shattered crystal gates. What isn’t overgrown is dead, and that’s not counting the piles of bare dirt. There is the question of how nopony’s actually found this area in the years since the Empire’s return, but it’s possible that others have and dismissed it as beyond repair. Cadence, however, is sure that it can blossom again with some tender loving care, emphasis on the love.

Of course, this is before she actually gets started and realizes she doesn’t know much about gardening. Or landscaping. Or plants in general. Thankfully, just as she realizes she’ll need help for this one, a tour group passes by, mostly full of disaffected teenagers who are more interested in talking with their friends than hearing about the castle that they see every day.

Apparently Cadence used to act as a tour guide as well as a foalsitter back in Canterlot, and the foals back then were always more engaged when they actually had something to do rather than just follow along and listen. That’s her justification for recruiting underage labor, anyway. :raritywink:

Olivine Jewel is in this class, which goes to show how much narrativium has gathered around the Empire today. In a lovely touch, when the class’s teacher asks Cadence for career advice and she answers with a platitude about following one’s heart, the students immediately question it, pointing at their cutie marks. I have to admit, Berrow does write a good teenager. Aside from them being enthusiastic about doing manual labor.

Your cutie marks are definitely important, but some very special fillies in Ponyville recently helped remind me that a cutie mark is just one part of you.

This is interesting. I have no idea what Cadence is referring to here. The Ponyville Mysteries series wouldn’t start until more than a year after this book was published. Darn it, now I’m really curious about this apparent interaction between her and the Crusaders.

Oh no. The students are from Crystal Prep. The good news is that pony Cinch doesn’t appear to be involved.

At the end of the chapter, Olivine mutters about how instead of dragging in the entire Empire, Cadence could just hire a professional. Nopony listens. I’m sure that won’t come back to bite Cadence.

By the time Cadence gets to the garden the next day, the conscripted class is already hard at work. (Interesting to note that there’s at least one unicorn among them, raising the usual question of what exactly a crystal pony is, magically and taxonomically speaking.) Cadence gladly chips in until she’s called away by affairs of state. (No word on who’s looking after Flurry Heart in all of this. Cadence may not want anypony picking up after her in her own chambers, but she seems just fine with hiring a nanny. Or a hazmat team.)

Olivine is less than pleased, both by Cadence leaving in the middle of work and “being forced to do community service for the castle!” Two of her classmates, Star Seed and Fire Opal, insist that they volunteered and look forward to the parade. Both are looking forward to using the creative license Cadence granted them to make their part of the garden outside the norm.

Olivine insists that it couldn’t possibly loo kas good as the garden had before Sombra’s reign. The others are understandably skeptical that she’d have even seen it then, much less remember it now. She apparently has a history of making up stories for attention… and that’s part of why nopony likes hanging out with her. It’s not because she’s a blank flank, just that she has such a lousy attitude. (We are told this directly by the narration, because Berrow only has so many pages to work with.) Still, she asks the others to come with her so she can prove it.

She leads them to an old cottage on the Empire’s outskirts… where her grandfather lives. Fire Opal was hoping for a zebra potionmaker, or a bat-pony, or Daring Do. Within, it’s practically a greenhouse, with hundreds of potted plants and countless books on magical botany. Instead of just finding a drawing of the pre-banishment garden, Olivine grabs a box full of magical seeds, planning to plant them in their part of the garden. I’m sure that won’t come back to bite her.

Ah. We do get an acknowledgement that Flurry is “old enough to stay with the castle foal-sitter,” which is especially welcome since it means Cadence and Shining can have a dinner date together. Berrow does do good work in showing the two interacting with each other, not just in love but in like with one another. She called them best friends at one point, and I can believe it. (Also, insert Lyrabon joke of your choice.)
We also get the second acknowledgement of the royal couple having servants with “A butler pony” pouring them cider with their meal.

Sorry I’ve been so busy with the Royal Guard recruitment trials lately. It’s just really important that we have a strong team, especially this year.

This feels genuinely bizarre. I can’t tell whether Shining’s been doing this in Empire or Canterlot, not what exactly he’s been having these ponies do. It sounds more like he’s scouting for a sports team. I know military matters are outside the scope of most official pony fiction, but this still feels off.

In any case, Shining handily deflects any discussion of potential threats to the Empire by talking about the students working in the garden. Cadence marvels at their green hooves, and I wonder how much earth pony magic might factor into it. (By all indications, there only two unicorns in the entire class and no pegasi to speak of.) She also talks about all of the other things she has, including a massive parade with floats covered in flowers. Most importantly, it’s already helped stabilize the Crystal Heart.

Things take a turn for the worse when one mare rushes to Cadence for aid, as another is caught in an hours-long giggle fit. Cadence’s magic manages to break it—always neat and a little disquieting to see her casually manipulate emotions—and she resolves to “get to the root” of the incident. Quoting there just to assure that the pun wasn’t my idea.

We cut to a “drill-off,” wherein Shining barks out orders and dismisses everypony who doesn’t follow them to the letter until only one remains. (This kind of thing is why I leave Guard-focused stories to those with some degree of military experience.) Cadence pops in, to Shining’s tooth-gritting shock, and convinces him to let the recruits have a brek for a picnic lunch. I presume this will somehow be important later.

Ponies are already flocking to the restored gardens days before the festival. The blooms “ranged from the size of a newborn foal to a full-grown stallion” which is patently absurd, but the kind of absurd that works in Equestria. Cadence notices some unfamiliar blooms and a marked absence of Olivine Jewel. She makes a mental note to commend the filly, and I’m sure that won’t etc. etc.

There’s a fountain of Spike with emeralds for eyes, and I’m happy to see the Brave and Glorious continue to get his due in the Empire. I’m less happy to see ponies getting oddly entranced, some by their reflections in the water, some in a bizarre state where they’re humming like entire beehives at each other.

Cut to Olivine and friends, who are hiding in a nearby “Humzinnia” bush. Because this is a deathworld, even if some of the flora won’t kill you immediately. Apparently the growth rate of the plants owed more to the magic of the seeds than the gardeners, but I’m willing to say that’s just Olivine making assumptions, because there are some hills I’m willing to die on. The effects are all temporary, “But Princess Cadence didn’t know that, Olivine thought. Maybe she would regret makinf a bunch of ponies do all the work.”
Honestly? This works for me. Somepony who remembers something before Sombra’s reign absolutely remembers the reign itself, and will understandably be ill-disposed towards what she sees as forced labor at the alleged liberators’ command.

The next chapter is entitled “Panic! at the Castle.” I’m not familiar with the band, but feel free to provide your own jokes.

We get a brief look at the couple’s advisors, or at least their senior staff. Proposed causes range from Discord to Chrysalis to a returned Sombra. (There’s apparently a book on the Chaotic Age of Equestria, which I have to imagine was compiled long after the fact.) Cadence, however, thinks it’s nothing so sinister and rushes out to find Olivine.

In her wandering, Cadence finds herself at the moment she foresaw… and thus gets the full context, including how the laughter she heard was botanically generated. Worse, the reactions have gotten severe enough that she can’t undo with magical brute force.

Cadence now realized she had been twisting the vision to suit her own desires. It was about as helpful as trying to decipher a pattern of leaves in the bottom of her teacup.

I mean, it was still a vision of the future that actually came to pass. Yes, it was a self-fulfilling prophecy, but in this case, ti was from trying too hard to make that prophecy come to fruition. I don’t think Cadence needs to take herself to task for acting on a premonition with proven accuracy.

Cadence goes to Lilac Quartz’s cafe in desperation, but Lilac busies herself by fetching more treats to avoid the princess’s questions while her gossipy friends—who happen to be the mothers of Olivine’s friends—mutter about how the filly’s always up to no good. Cadence breezes out, telling them she actually came to tell Lilac about a special honor Olivine will soon receive.

This is apparently the opening Lilac was hoping for, as she then leads Cadence to her father’s cabin. Her father whose full name is Alabaster Stone. Who, Lilac casually mentions, used to work as the castle gardener. There’s even a photo of him by the garden gates in the cottage… never mind how that would have been taken more than a millennium ago. :ajbemused:

Alabaster wakes up from his nap, and Lilac has to keep him from grumbling about “Those royals.” I’m honestly interested to hear what he thinks of them, but the mares keep him focused on Olivine’s visit… and how he was drifting in and out of sleep at the time. He’d missed that they took the enchanted seeds until now. Worse, he doesn’t remember how to undo the effects.
(I won’t lie, I’m a little disappointed that the flower causing the fascination effect with ponies’ reflections is the Reflection Rose and not some kind of daffodil, a.k.a. genus Narcissus.)

All three race back to the castle garden. As they pass by the Crystal Heart, it’s at a constant flicker. You can’t embody love when in an altered state of mind, after all. This either allays concerns about Cadence’s love magic or makes her a hypocrite depending on how you look at it.

Ah. We get some insight into Alabaster’s grievances. The way he remembers it, they didn’t want him back after Sombra’s defeat. According to Lilac, he said it would be too much work to refurbish the garden. I can’t help but think that leaving the old stallion alone on the edge of town didn’t do much to help fight his cognitive decline.

Things have gotten far worse in the meantime. Hundreds of ponies have been impacted by the plants. And it turns out Sunburst is visiting Starlight at the moment (and is distinct from the royal foal-sitter,) which is especially bad because Alabaster is so amazed by how beautifully the seeds came in that he smells one of the Humzinnias without even thinking about it… which is what coaxes Olivine out of hiding. She apologizes, but Cadence is far more concerned about fixing all of this. She hopes that Shining and the Guard will be able to help, but…

Well, it’s Shining Armor and there’s mind-affecting magic about. Besides, that would give the Guard a chance to actually be useful. We can’t have that, now can we? :raritywink: They’re all “giggling like a Filly Scout troop at a slumber party.”

Instead, Cadence goes to the exact point she saw in her vision and tries to recall every detail she can. In doing so, she realizes one key detail has been missing up until now: Hundreds of ponies were laughing and singing. This apparently ties into an old magical principle that Luna taught Cadence: “When the spell is strong and has been far prolonged, a familiar song may right the wrong.

She takes to the air and belts out the Hearts and Hooves song from the start of the story, with more and more ponies joining in with every line. By the last note, we have context for the blinding burst of blue light that ended the vision: The Crystal Heart has been fully recharged.

… The next chapter is entitled “The Horse Awakens.” Honestly, I’m just glad Berrow had fun with these titles.

Once everypony comes to, then the explanations begin. Particularly Olivine’s. At first, she has incensed that the royals never offered Alabaster his job back, then made her fix his garden… despite them having no idea who he even was, much less how he was related to them. (Indeed, there’s the question of how many crystal ponies remembered they were on the palace staff before Sombra took power in those early days.)

But when it became clear nopony else was mad about it, it became a matter of jealousy over the other ponies who were enjoying the work and, fittingly for a teenager, wanting them to like her and think she was cool. Hence grabbing the seed collection. But her friends assure her that… well, they’re her friends, and a little risk of wintry apocalypse isn’t going to change that.
Take a moment to consider that this filly may be the most destructive earth pony villain in all of G4.

Olivine apologizes once more and braces herself for banishment. Cadence in turn apologizes for just assuming she could fix whatever was troubling the filly rather than actually, you know, asking her. Hopefully this will be valuable experience for Flurry’s adolescent years.

The ironic thing was that in all of this, Olivine found that she genuinely enjoys gardening, and she proudly shows off a nonmagical rose bush that she grew herself. Cadence finds the scent is perfect, and that cues Olivine’s cutie mark, a heart-cut olivine with vines curling around it. A Garden Heart, if you will. (The story certainly does.)

The story closes with the parade, and Olivine as “Grand Mareshall” of it all, on the royal float with the royal family. They pass by the gossipers who insisted she was no good, who are now eating their words and finding them bitter indeed. Cadence tells Olivine she symbolizes spring, a new beginning regardless of deep chill or terrible mistakes, and light and love shine in both the Empire and its empress’s heart.

In all, given the restrictions of the targeted age group, this was pretty good. Some fascinating insight into Cadence’s personal experience with the alicorn condition, some lovely fluff with the royal couple, and the closest I can expect to actually seeing both Cadence and Shining in their official roles. (To say nothing of the closest Cadence can come to a fertility deity.) It’s not the best work of pony fiction by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ve definitely encountered worse.

Now, let’s see what I can coax from this soil:

Imperial Sommelier 1W
Creature — Pony Advisor
If you would gain life and you’re the monarch, you gain twice that much life instead. Otherwise, you gain that much life plus 1 instead.
After Sombra’s destruction, the crystal ponies gladly offered the royal couple whatever aid they could.

Lazililly Exposure 1W
Tribal Enchantment — Plant Aura
Enchant creature
Enchanted creature can’t attack or block.
Enchanted creature’s activated abilities cost an additional “Tap two untapped creatures you control” to activate.
It doesn’t induce sleep per se. It just makes everything else seem less important.

The Broken Heart 2W
Legendary Artifact
Creatures you control have outlast W. (They have “W, T: Put a +1/+1 counter on this creature.” Outlast only as a sorcery.)
X, T, Remove X counters from among creatures you control: Exile target nonland permanent with mana value X.
“Somepony may still be up there.”
—Argyle’s research notes

Crystal Conductor 2W
Creature — Pony Bard
When Crystal Conductor enters the battlefield, return target enchantment card from your graveyard to your hand.
3(up): Transform Crystal Conductor ((up) can be paid with either U or 2 life.)
“Don’t you just love this song?”
Resonant Infiltrator
(WU) Creature — Shapeshifter Bard
Whenever you activate an ability of an enchantment, if it isn’t a mana ability, you may pay 2. If you do, copy that ability. You may choose new targets for the copy.
“Once more, with feeling.”

Disciplined Force 2WW
Creature — Pony Soldier
Creatures you control have indestructible as long as Disciplined Force entered the battlefield this turn.
Shining Armor’s hoof-picked elite can secure a location faster than he can give the order.

Guard the Heart U
Kicker 2U (You may pay an additional 2U as you cast this spell.)
Target creature you control gains hexproof until end of turn. If this spell was kicked, you may choose new targets for up to one target spell or ability that targets that creature.

Prognostic Glimpse 1U
Scry 3, then put the card in your library that’s third from the top into your hand.
Trying to act on foreknowledge is the best way to invalidate it.

Palace Tour Guide 1UU
Creature — Pony Scout
Whenever a creature you control deals combat damage to a player, if Palace Tour Guide is attacking, draw a card.
“And if you’ll look to your left, you’ll see several guards who want to show us the dungeons. Try to keep up, everypony!”

Reflection Rose 2U
Tribal Sorcery — Plant
Tap target creature you don’t control. Create a tapped token that’s a copy of that creature, except it’s a Reflection in addition to its other types and has “Creatures with the same name as this creature don’t untap during their controllers’ untap steps.”
A sniff and glance leaves you entranced.

Seasonal Sniffles 1BB
Kicker 2W
All creatures get -2/-2 until end of turn. If a creature you control would die this turn, if this spell was kicked, exile that creature instead. Return that card to the battlefield under its owner’s control at the beginning of your next upkeep.

Humzinnia Attunement 2B
Tribal Enchantment — Plant Aura
Enchant creature you don’t control
Enchanted creature has “At the beginning of your end step, sacrifice this creature unless you put a -1/-1 counter on each creature you control that isn’t enchanted.”
The afflicted delight in humming at frequencies that make ears bleed.

Waning Hope 2B
Morbid — At the beginning of each player’s end step, that player loses 2 life unless a creature died this turn.
The Crystal Heart will keep back the ice for as long as its light persists… but nothing lasts forever.

Reclaim the Throne 5B
Return target creature card from a graveyard to the battlefield under your control. You become the monarch.
After Sombra’s third dread return, crystal ponies just accepted that they’d be seeing him now and again.

Giggling Funflower 1R
Tribal Enchantment — Plant Aura
Enchant creature you don’t control
You choose whether and who enchanted creature attacks each combat.
You choose whether and how enchanted creature blocks each combat.
One whiff and suddenly everything’s hilarious, especially slapstick.

Monarch License 1R
Enchantment — Class
(Gain the next level as a sorcery to add its ability.)
When Monarch License enters the battlefield, it deals 2 damage divided as you chose among one or two targets.
3R: Level 2
At the beginning of your end step, if a source you controlled dealt noncombat damage this turn, this Class deals 3 damage to any target.
6R: Level 3
When this Class becomes level 3, it deals 6 damage divided as you choose among any number of targets.

Draconic Tribute 2R
T: Add R.
3RR: Draconic Tribute becomes a 4/4 Dragon artifact creature with flying until end of turn.
There are only two rational reactions to a dragon: Fear and reverence.

Farasi Brewmaster 2R
Creature — Zebra Shaman
Prowess (Whenever you cast a noncreature spell, this creature gets +1/+1 until end of turn.)
When Farasi Brewmaster enters the battlefield, you may discard a card. If you do, draw two cards.
Zecora inspired many proteges.

Daffospill Pollen 2G
Tribal Instant — Plant
Prevent all combat damage that would be dealt this turn. Destroy all permanents you don’t control that are attached to attacking creatures.
A heady fragrance sends hooves flying.

Senior Gardener 2G
Creature — Pony Druid
When Senior Gardener enters the battlefield, look at the top five cards of your library. You may reveal a land or Plant card from among them and put it into your hand. Put the rest on the bottom of your library in a random order.
“I’m thinking phytohydras this year.”

Sprawling Topiary 4GG
Creature — Plant
Reach, vigilance
Sprawling Topiary’s power and toughness are each equal to the number of lands you control.
Foretell 2GG (During your turn, you may pay 2 and exile this card from your hand face down. Cast it on a later turn for its foretell cost.)

Cultivate Havoc 8G
Create a 1/1 green Forest Dryad land creature token for each land target player controls. (They’re affected by summoning sickness.)
Chaotic 4GG (You may cast this spell for its chaotic cost. If you do, choose its target at random.)

Royal Float 4
Artifact — Vehicle
Royal Float has crew 1 as long as you’re the monarch.
Crew 3 (Tap any number of creatures you control with total power 3 or more: This Vehicle becomes an artifact creature until end of turn.)
Four wheels fit for a king.

Resentful Outcast BG
Creature — Pony Rogue
Ward — 2, Pay 2 life. (Whenever this creature becomes the target of a spell or ability an opponent controls, counter it unless that player pays 2 and 2 life.)
Beware the loner in a herd species.

Crystal Heartsong RW
Enchantment — Song
At the beginning of your upkeep, put a verse counter on Crystal Heartsong.
RW, Sacrifice Crystal Heartsong: Exile up to X target creatures you control, then return those cards to the battlefield under your control, where X is the number of verse counters on Crystal Heartsong. Creatures that enter the battlefield this way gain haste and indestructible until end of turn.

Shining Armor, Wargamer URW
Legendary Creature — Unicorn Soldier
Battalion — Whenever you attack with three or more creatures, venture into the dungeon. (Enter the first room or advance to the next room.)
Whenever you complete a dungeon, untap all creatures you control. After this phase, there is an additional combat phase.

Court of Love 2UR
When Court of Love enters the battlefield, you become the monarch.
At the beginning of your upkeep, create a token that’s a copy of another target nonland permanent, except it has haste and “At the beginning of the end step, if you’re not the monarch, exile this permanent.”
Bright hearts lead strong nations.

Fertile Upheaval 2RG
Each player puts their hand on the bottom of their library in a random order, reveals the top seven cards of their library, puts all land cards revealed this way onto the battlefield tapped, then puts the rest into their hand.
Discord heard the term “crop rotation,” then immediately stopped listening.

Comments ( 13 )

One of Lilac’s friends, Rose Water, encourages the royal couple to come by more often. Especially Shining Armor. (Cadence shoots this down with merciless, plausibly deniable grace. No word on whether Rose Water is involved with the design of any card games.)


Oh no. The students are from Crystal Prep. The good news is that pony Cinch doesn’t appear to be involved.

I assume she sided with the Umbrum, if not Sombra specifically. (She may even have continued doing so after his comics-canon reform.)

Fire Opal was hoping for a zebra potionmaker, or a bat-pony, or Daring Do.

Emphasis mine. Is Berrow aware that her trilogy was supposed to be released as fiction in-universe?

Now, let’s see what I can coax from this soil:

Inside Baseball Alert: Sombra has in fact returned at least three times in official media alone. Some of them contradict each other or are stated to be noncanon, but that didn't stop Hasbro so it isn't going to stop FoME. :derpytongue2:

Inside Baseball Alert: Yes, Plant Hydras are a real thing in MtG. They're associated with Selesnya but I'm pretty sure they're the Simic's fault.

Inside Baseball Alert: The Wizards of the Coast actually beat Discord to that exact joke. Zendikar is fun (in the Dwarf Fortress with-two-exclamation-marks-on-each-side sense).

(Interesting to note that there’s at least one unicorn among them, raising the usual question of what exactly a crystal pony is, magically and taxonomically speaking.)

In one of my many unfinished stories, Spike was asking about the origins of bat ponies, and brought up, "Like, I remember that book you made me read that said Crystal ponies were just regular ponies who followed Princess Amore up north, and then, uh... m-magic happened.”

I hate to break this to you, Lovebutt, but you married a himbo.

That's a feature, not a bug.

We cut to a “drill-off,” wherein Shining barks out orders and dismisses everypony who doesn’t follow them to the letter until only one remains. (This kind of thing is why I leave Guard-focused stories to those with some degree of military experience.)

We actually did used to do this. We'd have the privates in formation, and we'd rapid fire drill movements, "Left face, right face, present arms, about face, etc." The purpose is to test not only their attention to detail and knowledge of the movements, but also if they remember what you can and can't do, ie you can't present arms (salute) from the position of parade rest, and you can't do any facing movements until you order arms (lower the salute.)


Like, I remember that book you made me read that said Crystal ponies were just regular ponies who followed Princess Amore up north, and then, uh... m-magic happened.

My personal theory is that they were earth ponies who refused to leave their ancestral home despite the worsening winter, and thus found an alternative way to harness Harmony. Recessive genes (and refugees who also refused to join the exodus) sometimes cropped up, leading to a smattering of pegasi and unicorns, Amore included.

That's a feature, not a bug.

Cadence certainly seems to think so.

We actually did used to do this.

I figured there were even odds of this being an actual thing. I'm just proving my own point. :derpytongue2:

And even so, when I read this one again a year and a half ago, it was my favorite of all the chapter books. This one has a plot that more or less hangs together, each event building on and following from what happened before, with characters who have actual motivations and character arcs. This is generally not true of the rest, I'm afraid.

The density and speed of the recollection meant I was skimming over chunks of this by the end, but it does seem a lot more structurally sound in the plot department than most of the rest. Bad puns and transparent character depth with shortcuts still leapt out at me, but rarely as egregious either.

It's not much, all in all, given Berrow's other tics and her tendency to drop to the target audience, but it's not nothing. First time reading these recollections where the fact that the chapter books past the first six aren't available to read has actually made me a bit glum.

I definitely want to see Wargamer in commander, in hopes of making a perpetual combat phase machine.

… I hope this will be the only time I want to slap G. M. Berrow today. It probably won’t be, but I can hope.

You and me both. You and me both…

So this is less the growing ineffable power at her command and more a roughly crowbarred-in plot device.

We are told this directly by the narration, because Berrow only has so many pages to work with.

This seems to be a pattern with Berrow. I'm not saying she's bad at her job or anything, but…

Stupid Complicated Game Alert: Get enough copies of him via Mirror Gallery type effects or clones that don't preserve legendary to complete an entire dungeon with just the triggers. You're in pretty much all of the colors that do that, so... :twilightsmile: Not bolded because you can get quicker wins with less (for example)

I laughed so hard when you called Shining a Himbo.

Unsurprisingly one of my favorite chapter books if only for the fact that it throws a glass of water on the thirsty plant of explaining what the heck is Cadance's deal anyway. Seeing her work her way through a genuine question of her presence and position was a long time coming, and the A-canon never got there at all.

Definitely doable, but was thinking blinking eccentric apprentice, fly, thorough investigation, etc. for funnier.
Seems a much sillier take than sefris or hama.

Have I ever mentioned how much I f**king hate how casual this franchise is about mind alteration and control? I have? A number of times? Well, then one more won't hurt, will it?

In all seriousness, it is nice to see a bit of exploration of the most underdeveloped Alicorn (and, yes, that includes Flurry) and this does seem like a good lesson, but... well, let's just say I almost wish I could take that sort of stuff as easily as they dish it out.

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