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"[FoME] manages the impossible combination of being an actual legitimate nerd while staying unabashedly pleasant." —Aragón

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  • Thursday
    Deca Sanctuary

    Ten days remain for Imposing Sovereigns III, and while a few entries have come in, I suspect the bulk has yet to arrive. In order to help that suspicion, now's the point where I ask if people need more time. So, how goes it?

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  • 6 days
    Friendship is Card Games: The Knights of Harmony

    And so the unsung underbelly of G4 draws to a close… more or less. There’s that intergenerational crossover coming up. But this is certainly the finale to Season 10, and to the FiM line. 102 issues isn’t a bad run, and that’s not counting alll the spinoffs. Let’s see how it wraps up.

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  • 1 week
    Expansion // Explosion

    "The series premiere, but different" is a timeworn genre in most fandoms, and pony is no different. A good chunk of the authors here have put their own spin on Twilight arriving in Ponyville and that first journey into the Everfree, including me. But this one is special.

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  • 2 weeks
    Judge Worthy

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Friendship is Card Games: Homecoming, Part 2 · 12:55pm January 3rd

When last we left the comics, Twilight had sent Zecora and a brute squad to Farasi, a land Zecora had abandoned long ago on a quest for magical power… leaving behind her friends as well.

Any resemblance to Sunset Shimmer is probably coincidental. Besides, as far as I know, Sunset’s never had to deal with a grootslang. Time for adventurous diplomacy!

Issue #91

And speaking of adventure, we open on a flashback to before Zecora left these friends. During a LARP, of all things. Really driving home the exotic, distant culture that has barely heard of Equestria, guys. :ajbemused:

Some people have commented on Dust Devil’s nonbinary pronouns. I’m more impressed by them wearing a black cloak in the middle of a desert day with no apparent ill effects.

“Fight to the last horse” carries some interesting implications. Especially when the abada are debatably equine at best and the kelpies are equinoid water elementals

Oy. Going by what they’re doing, “IFGS” stands for In-Fighting Gaming System.

“I gotta be honest” doesn’t exactly follow from a heartfelt apology. Still, good to see Zecora try to mend bridges, though it comes rather suddenly.

:rainbowlaugh: Thank you for your contribution, Rockhoof. Very helpful.

Interesting. Speak with plants is a handy spell, though I’m surprised that Tempest is so skeptical. After all she’s seen and done, it’s communicating with cacti that pushes her suspension of disbelief to the breaking point?

I do like the dynamic between Tempest and Crystal. Especially the bit about being the kind of pen pals that could write to each other if they felt like it but never actually do.

Okay, I like a good bit of pun-based biology as much as the next guy, but we’ve seen rocs in FiM before. Still, goodness knows there are plenty of varieties of birds. just because Everfree rocs are nothing but oversized raptors, that doesn’t mean rock rocs can’t speak.

Tempest lamenting diplomatic solutions is fun, I won’t lie. She’s the best at what he does, but no one’s letting her do it!
Also, interesting to see that this roc can’t actually get airborne under its own power. Turns out birds made of stone have some issues.

I see Dust Devil is the local avatar of the Speed Force. Rainbows and high velocity seem to be connected in this world on as deep a symbolic level as star and magic.

That… Okay, wow, I had to upload this panel to Derpibooru just so other people could appreciate it.

Okay guys, we get it, you’re calling out Elements of Harmony. Though I would argue that selflessly putting one’s self at great risk to help someone else is more Generosity than Kindness… except that I literally just described Fluttershy’s trial with the manticore and the thorn. :derpytongue2: Well, the two do often blend into one another.

“Everypony in Equestria is always seconds away from giving every monster everything it wants.”
The Storm King hardly counts, Tempest. The country was nerfed for the purposes of the narrative.

Oh dear. A kelpie losing cohesion is not a pretty sight.

Aaaand musical number. She’s called Medley Brook for a reason, it seems. Tempest’s utter disgust through the whole thing is honestly kind of delightful.

Freddy Mercury and Kiss. The “Andy you magnificent bastard” tag is there for a reason.

As previously stated, Zecora brought a brute squad. And Tempest echoing Rockhoof’s “aye” is pretty great.

And another Tree of Harmony. I knew this was coming. The blurb for the next issue directly mentions it. I’m withholding my feelings on the matter until I see where they go with it. On that note…

Issue #92

Ooh, nice reference to Somnambula’s Legends of Magic issue. Though the grootslang may actually digest what it eats. Could be a bit of an issue.

Ah, sweet, sweet combat encounters. Always nice to throw the minmaxers at the table a bone.

Trees of Harmony do seem to crop up in abandoned and remote regions, don’t they? Usually forests, but forgotten desert temples work too.

Apparently “you know what to do” was more an optimistic statement than an accurate one. The pictures can mean things, guys.

Indeed we have some intriguing inscriptions to consider:
• The Observer, because of course he’s there.
• What seems to be a prophetic presentation of… five of the six pony Bearers? Going by outlines, either Applejack or Twilight is missing. Odd.
• What seems to be a relief carving of Cosmos or a similar horror, which is especially odd given that zebras weren’t involved in sealing her away.
• And perhaps most thought-provoking, a world map with four Trees of Harmony evenly distributed around the circumference.

Oof. The shovel blade may be nigh-unbreakable, but the handle isn’t quite so sturdy.

Ooh. This Tree’s a bit better at communicating with those who experience linear time. A bit. Seems to go for DS9 Prophet-style clip show communication.

“The Elements of Harmony are not tied only to six ponies in one particular land.”
Hmm. We certainly saw that in “The Ending of the End,” what with the Rainbow Beam of Fix Everything Triple Deluxe. The question may not be “How many Trees of Harmony are there?” but “Just how far did the roots go?”

“Kid, are you saying you just talked to this tree in your dream?”
Marini, you are literally standing next to someone who talks to cacti. This is not that weird.

The Tree did tell you to look to your friends, Zecora. This shouldn’t come as much of a shock.

Huh. Odd combination of both the Tree and the Element-containing mechanism from the Castle of the Two Sisters. Also, looks like this Tree’s roots don’t go very far at all… unless the central one’s inside the pillar. (Otherwise, we’d need separate origins for each Tree, and as much as I enjoy parallel structure, four sets of six heroes planting seeds for the future is stretching things.)

:ajsmug: “Been there, done that.”
Oh, let them enjoy it, AJ. :derpytongue2:

Huh. No crown in this batch, including Zecora’s Element of Magic. I suppose that’s an implicit “no” to a certain somezebra getting wings and a horn.

I do have to wonder why the grootslang was holed up in the temple. Just a Nidhogg for the local Yggdrasil, or was there some deeper motive that it refused to share? Hard to say.

There is something far too amusing in seeing Tempest Shadow blow bubbles in the bath.

Very interesting to see the land heal as the local Elements find Bearers. Though

Wait, why would Prince Abraxas need a boat not made of wood? I feel like I missed something.

Boseman’s Panther Cafe. Ouch. Rest in peace, sir. (Mamuwalde’s, meanwhile, harkens back to a… different era of cinema.)

I really hope they don’t drop Zecora’s rhyming entirely. I like it. I understand how it could be seen as her moving beyond the need from it, but it feels more like the writers inventing a reason to make her dialogue easier. Still, more echoes of Twilight and Sunset with someone staying with her friends and their magical jewelry.

Ah. Those five lights are each associated with a different Tree, it seems. Which means there’s one more not represented in that mural. And that last page is most intriguing, especially the statuette of an unknown species. And given the desert, mountain, and forest temples, I expect some combination of ice, water, graveyard, and/or sewer levels. And given how the Elements tend to operate, I have to wonder if these five will lead to a sixth, a Tree of Trees...

In all, this raises a lot of questions, but I’m looking forward to getting the answers. Season 10 looks like it’s going to be quite a trip… though the next few issues will be tabling this storyline in favor of Scootaloo’s family drama and Cheesepie shenanigans. Eh, plenty of time to speculate.

All told, this does feel worth the wait, at least in terms of giving more to anticipate. Let’s see what I can do with what they’ve given me.

Hound of Krypton 1W
Creature — Dog
Hound of Krypton has flying and indestructible as long as your devotion to white is four or greater. (Each W in the mana costs of permanents you control counts toward your devotion to white.)
The breed needs a lot of space and exercise.

Abraxas’s Gratitude 2W
Prevent all combat damage that would be dealt to you and planeswalkers you control this turn. Create a Treasure token for each creature attacking you or a planeswalker you control. (The tokens are artifacts with “T, Sacrifice this artifact: Add one mana of any color.”)

Harmonious Binding 2W
Exile target creature if it has power X or greater, where X is 8 minus the number of creatures you control.
Even when a force is more than the sum of its parts, it helps to have a lot of parts.

Zebrat Cataphract 3WW
Creature — Zebra Knight Ally
Rally — Whenever Zebrat Cataphract or another Ally enters the battlefield under your control, support 2. (Put a +1/+1 counter on each of up to two other target creatures.)
“My armor is steel. My weapon is trust.”

Stoneplume Roc 4WW
Creature — Elemental Bird
Battalion — Whenever Stoneplume Roc and at least two other creatures attack, Stoneplume Roc gains flying until end of turn.
Discord’s old jokes sometimes bred true, leading to generations of valiant struggle.

“Talk to Your Friends” 1U
Enchantment — Song
At the beginning of your upkeep, put a verse counter on “Talk to Your Friends”.
UU, Sacrifice “Talk to Your Friends”: Up to X target creatures can’t be blocked this turn, where X is the number of verse counters on “Talk to Your Friends”. Until end of turn, those creatures gain "Whenever this creature deals combat damage to a player, draw a card."

Extratemporal Entity 3UU
Creature — Avatar
You may have Extratemporal Entity enter the battlefield as a copy of any creature card in a graveyard.
Forecast — 1U, Reveal Extratemporal Entity from your hand: Each player mills two cards. (Each player puts the top two cards of their library into their graveyard. Activate this ability only during your upkeep and only once each turn.)

Frost Spreader 3UU
Creature — Elemental Wizard
When Frost Spreader enters the battlefield, tap up to X target creatures, where X is the number of creatures in your party. Those creatures don’t untap during their controllers’ next untap step. (Your party consists of up to one each of Cleric, Rogue, Warrior, and Wizard.)

Snow Cushion XU
Snow Instant
Return up to X target nonland permanents you own to your hand. You may put a nonland permanent card with converted mana cost equal to the amount of S spent to cast this spell from your hand onto the battlefield. (S can be paid with one mana from a snow source.)

Abada Cutpurse 1B
Creature — Unicorn Rogue
Whenever Abada Cutpurse deals combat damage to a player, that player mills X cards, where X is the number of creatures you have in your party. (Your party consists of up to one each of Cleric, Rogue, Warrior, and Wizard.)

Lurking Malice 2B
When an opponent has one or fewer cards in hand, if Lurking Malice is an enchantment, it becomes a 4/3 Spirit creature with flying.
Most madness is in your head. Some looks for available vacancies.

Zecora’s Resolve 2B
For each player, choose friend or foe. Each friend draws a card and loses 1 life. Each foe discards a card and mills a card.
“I do what I must for those that I trust.”

Fallen Prince 2BB
Creature — Zebra Vampire Noble
Whenever Fallen Prince deals combat damage to a player, put a +1/+1 counter on Fallen Prince.
The princes of Farasi rarely serve for more than a few decades, making the exceptions all the more notable.

Knights in Sombra’s Service 3BB
Creature — Pony Knight
When Knights in Sombra’s Service enters the battlefield, amass 2. (Put two +1/+1 counters on an Army you control. If you don’t control one, create a 0/0 black Zombie Army creature token first.)

Desiccate 1R
This spell can’t be countered if it targets a blue creature.
Desiccate deals 3 damage to target creature.
Water is life.

Crippling Heatstroke 2R
Crippling Heatstroke deals 2 damage to each creature. If you control a Desert or there is a Desert card is in your graveyard, Crippling Heatstroke deals 3 damage to each creature instead.
Deserts need no monsters to threaten the unwary.

Velocimancy 2R
Whenever a creature you control with haste attacks, exile the top card of your library. You may play that card this turn.
1R: Target creature gains haste until end of turn.
Faster than the speed of time.

The Lay of Rockhoof 3R
Enchantment — Saga
(As this Saga enters and after your draw step, add a lore counter. Sacrifice after III.)
I — The Lay of Rockhoof deals 2 damage to each creature without flying.
II — Sacrifice any number of lands. Draw that many cards.
III — The Lay of Rockhoof deals damage to each opponent equal to the number of land cards in your graveyard.

Unbreakable Scales G
Target creature gains indestructible until end of turn. Destroy all Equipment attached to creatures blocking or blocked by that creature.
“Knew I should’ve paid extra for darksteel.”
—Rockhoof, Pillar of Strength

Broken Drought 2G
Lands you control have “T: Add one mana of any color.”
At the beginning of your end step, untap all Deserts you control.
With the temple reawakened, Farasi’s interior flourished with new life.

Abada Greenspeaker 3G
Creature — Unicorn Druid Ally
Rally — Whenever Abada Greenspeaker or another Ally enters the battlefield under your control, put two +1/+1 counters on target land you control. If that land isn’t a creature, it becomes a 0/0 Elemental creature with haste in addition to its other types.

Vibranium Bodysuit 2
Artifact — Equipment
Whenever equipped creature is dealt damage, put a charge counter on Vibranium Bodysuit.
Equipped creature gets +1/+1 for each charge counter on Vibranium Bodysuit.
Equip 2

Temple Restoration GW
Legendary Enchantment
At the beginning of combat on your turn, until end of turn, target creature you control gains indestructible and becomes the creature type of your choice in addition to its other types. Then if you have a full party, transform Temple Restoration.
Desert Temple of Harmony
Legendary Land
T: Add one mana of any color.
2GW, T: Creatures you control get +X/+X and gain hexproof and indestructible until end of turn, where X is the number of creatures in your party.
The second of many.

Zecora, Hero of Farasi WBG
Legendary Creature — Zebra
Zecora, Hero of Farasi is also a Cleric, Rogue, Warrior, and Wizard.
4WBG, T: Destroy target nonland permanent. This ability costs 1 less to activate for each creature in your party.
4WBG, Q: Return target permanent card from your graveyard to the battlefield. This ability costs 1 less to activate for each creature in your party. (Q is the untap symbol.)

Rapids Rager 2UR
Creature — Elemental Berserker
U: Rapids Rager gets -1/+1 until end of turn.
R: Rapids Rager gets +1/-1 until end of turn.
All the might of a waterfall, with social skills to match.

Forgotten Temple
Forgotten Temple enters the battlefield tapped.
As Forgotten Temple enters the battlefield, choose a color
When Forgotten Temple enters the battlefield, scry 1.
T: Add one mana of the chosen color.

Comments ( 19 )

All told, this does feel worth the wait, at least in terms of giving more to anticipate.

You did that on purpse :P

The multiple trees make sense, in a way. After all, even a tree has seeds and seeds tend to travel/drift.... "winkwinknudge" And if Harmony knows time stuff in advance, then surely Harmony knew of Twilight Sparkle and her quest for ultimate friendship :raritywink:

the next few issues will be tabling this storyline in favor of Scootaloo’s family drama and Cheesepie shenanigans

Sounds like they're taking the "Season 10" moniker seriously, then. :ajbemused: (And for the record, it's "ajbemused")

Let’s see what I can do with what they’ve given me.

Inside Baseball Alert: Yes, Kryptonians are solar-powered and Superdog was a thing. The Innistrad werewolf mechanic was meant to represent day and night, though, so I question this interpretation anyway.

Stupid Complicated Game Alert: Yes, Temple Restoration's triggered ability can give you the last member of your party you need to then flip itself with the same ability. It's also worth noting that Zecora and changelings are only one member of your party each. (Shameless Plug!)

The botanist in me takes a small bit of umbrage with Farasi having cacti. Because if it's meant to be an African analog, they wouldn't have cacti, they'd have Euphorbia, Stapelia or Huernia.

Other than that, the idea of the Harmony manifesting trees in other regions makes sense. After all, if dark forces manifest in other parts of the world, wouldn't the guardian entity of the planet manifest its power to give those around it the ability to fight back?

But the ToH (at least in Equestria) is not the guardian entity of the planet, it is the fairly mundane creation of some particular mortals.

Though that raises an interesting possibility - perhaps the ToHs that are the subject of Season 10 are actually primordial and cosmic entities, and Equestria's is an artificial knock-off.

Or perhaps the trees themselves are an inevitability, but the means by which they are created differ in each case

Or, another possibility is that their "creation" gave 'Harmony' the necessary vessel to manifest itself. As in, it subconciously guided them into making a body for it to inhabit so it could appear where needed.

What seems to be a prophetic presentation of… five of the six pony Bearers? Going by outlines, either Applejack or Twilight is missing. Odd.

Twilight Sparkle is the figure on the far right -- note the combo of wings and horn. Given that there's only one other pony outline with wings, by my count the diagram is missing either Fluttershy or Rainbow Dash. (Applejack is the third figure.)

Any resemblance to Sunset Shimmer is probably coincidental. Besides, as far as I know, Sunset’s never had to deal with a grootslang.

She probably had to deal with a bunch of people talking about GotG through native colloquialisms. That's the same thing right?

I always figured that the Tree and Elements were just conduits for Harmony as a cosmic force rather than a source of power in themselves. Witness the founder’s Fires of Friendship being unleashed or the Siren’s defeat in Rainbow Rocks with no Tree or Elements in sight. The Pillars unwittingly tapping into that force to create the seeds of Harmony and other heroes of other lands being able to do the same makes sense. Harmony always creating crystal trees of the exact same 6 elements regardless of the local people’s culture and ideals is kind of boring though.

Knights in Sombra’s Service

I saw that Erfworld reference.

Velocimancy is a pretty cool card. Don't get to see many reasons to use haste after something's done with summoning sickness, and it's still a pretty red effect in this card.

Also, that Zecora legend is looking a little Abserd. :derpytongue2:

Cheesepie shenanigans.

Oh, that oughta be good: "No, no, don't be silly, that part of the finale totally wasn't slapdash and perfunctory. Look how much buildup we can backfill!"

My own issues with that whole business aside, the second half of this story was... better than the first, but not by much and certainly not enough for me to want to continue with Season 10. The whole thing felt very uninspired and underwhelming, the attempt to create a culture for Zecora served to do nothing more than mess up the enigmaticism and difference from ponies that made her so effective in the first place and the whole "moving beyond the need to rhyme" thing feels both like it insults her previous self and removes something unique and fun about the character solely to make the writer's job easier.

So, yeah, this is not giving me much reason to be optimistic about "Season 10" and has not changed my decision to actively, aggressively ignore this backstory in my own works. Heck, I'm almost tempted to re-write my next story specifically to contradict and mock this. I'm not going to - that would be childish and, given that I'm intending to get it out very soon, very ill-advised - but I have to admit the temptation is there.

I prefer to think that the ponies' creation is ersatz. It's more of an indictment of them that way.

A lot of bronies take anything that contradicts their headcanon way too personally.

It's satisfying to get a Song enchantment from a comic :) I imagine this probably isn't the first time, as I sometimes miss your comic recaps. But between the amusing Andylicious costumes, the very FiM lyrics and Tempest's frustration (including on the cover of the comic), that song was about as good as I could hope for from a comic.

What's Extratemporal Entity referencing? I tried a few googles to work out who you might be meaning when you say Cosmos, but that's a hard character name to Google for.

Desiccate is an excellent design. Simple, probably even common, but a perfectly natural clause - hosing a mechanic and a colour most associated with this mechanic - in a perfect flavourful representation of a moment from the comics.

(Side question: Should it say "can't be countered by spells or abilities"? ISTR Wizards recently removing those words, but it'd be odd if this can still kill a Shapers of Nature even through a Swift Warden's hexproof.)

Velocimancy is a delightful build-around. It'd make me want to build a Commander deck for Brudiclad or Dragonlord Kolaghan or Maelstrom Wanderer if it was printed, put it that way :)

Given Zecora's status as the heart of a new Mane Six on another continent, having her card tie in to a mechanic that wants you to get specifically 4 creatures onto the battlefield doesn't feel quite right. I guess you liked Zendikar's party mechanics a bit more than I did :twilightsmile:

You prefer to hate ponies. On a site devoted to ponies. :rainbowhuh:

For the record, the changed the rules so that spells failing to resolve due to their targets being rendered illegal are no longer considered "countered". Mostly because those extra words elicited all kinds of silly questions from people who often genuinely didn't know better, especially on Gilded Drake who couldn't be countered except by spells and abilities.

The seeding theory does make some sense. We saw it with the Lockbox of Harmony; who's to say how many other seeds the Tree dispersed before Celestia and Luna pulled out the MacGuffin-berries?

Representing Krypto as a lycanthrope doesn't feel at all appropriate. I figured high devotion to white was a good way of representing "intense solar radiation" while still being a more fair threshold mechanic than, say, controlling a certain number of Plains.

The immune response idea also works. And, to riff on 5427926's point, they are crystals. Harmonite may have a dendritic structure built in at the molecular level. Though I do agree with 5427941 that all of the Trees having the exact same elements is a bit lame. (But that may be the chemistry at work again.)

Huh. Focused as I was on the wings, I missed the horn. This just raises further questions.

:rainbowlaugh: Different tree entirely.

Remember, Simmons et al. are supposedly "Knights in Satan's Service." But yes, rock and facepaint demand certain terminology.

I am quite happy with Velocimancy. Haste lost out in Ikoria's "keyword tribal" theme for obvious reasons, but there are ways to make it work.

Also, that Zecora legend is looking a little Abserd.

Between the healing magic, skulking about in a cloak, staff techniques, and arcane know-how, I'd say Zecora is more qualified for multiclassing than, say, a glorified pack mule.

Yeah, the world building was a wet fart when all was said and done. There are definitely some interesting ideas, but also more than a few I plan on ignoring myself.

Going to echo Herald: Why are you even here?

It's not contradicting my headcanon I mind so much as shutting down interesting story possibilities and offering little to nothing to replace them.

Comic Songs are rare for obvious reasons, but I have done "Ponyacci, Ponyacci" for Pinkie's Micro-Series issue and Doomsayer's Dirge for All in Marederation.

Extratemporal Entity represents the local spirit of Harmony, what with appearing as figures from Zecora's past and being more than a little mind-meltingly eldritch.

And Zecora isn't perfect, but speaking from experience, just keeping four creatures on board is a big ask. Six can be downright ludicrous. Sometimes flavor has to bow to playability.

It's not contradicting my headcanon I mind so much as shutting down interesting story possibilities and offering little to nothing to replace them.

I wasn't referring to you, but the sorts of fans who think they know better than the creators.

Also, the ending gave me a sense that they were planning to revisit Farasi. I'm predicting that season 10 will end with Elements from around the world teaming up.

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