Discarding is the act of putting cards from the hand directly into the graveyard. What does this mean from a flavorful standpoint? Exactly what are you doing to your opponent in your magical duel? Here’s my take.
With a card like Mind Rot, the flavor is a general mental attack. It’s pain, agony, and torture directed at your opponent’s brain to cause trauma, induce memory loss, or remove defiance. The cards you lose can represent a skill ripped away in the attack, a spell forgotten, or simply the loss of ability to fight back.
Thoughtsieze is a more targeted approach. Instead of a overwhelming mental barrage, it’s idea espionage. It’s forcing open an opponent’s mind and making away with a single tactic. Being the self-preserving black mage you are, it’s likely going to be the spell that would cause you the most harm in the long run, even if taking such a thought can be painful in the immediate now.
Gnat Miser is a different case entirely. Nowhere on this card is the word “discard” mentioned, but discarding is still the goal. Your maximum hand size is usually seven cards, and represents the spells you’re thinking of right now. To have your maximum hand size reduced means something is hindering your coherent thought. In this case, it’s the constant buzzing of gnats in your ears and the pungent rat odor in your nostrils. Distracting, to say the least.
And then there’s Jin-Gitaxias. Functionally reading “each opponent discards their hand in the cleanup step”, the Core Augur denies your foes everything but the most limited functionality. Putting it simply, he lobotomizes them while overfilling your head with ideas (probably notions of Progress Engine perfection).
I hope you’ve enjoyed this sampling of various flavors of forced discard. Join me on Thursday, when I will talk about implications of tokens, their supposed mechanical/flavor disconnect, and my personal explanations for why certain cards care about tokens vs nontokens.