Magic: The Gathering can be a very painful game. It is painful to watch your carefully crafted deck be destroyed by a powerful combo on turn four, or to see your game-winning creature go stale with a timely Counterspell. Sheepwave, a streamer and artist who is also a Magic: The Gathering content creator, doesn't find this game too painful. Sheepwave created the Shockbox, a small electric jolt that gives players damage to add some spice to their Magic games.
Sheepwave claims that the Shockbox was created out of a sense of humor and an interest in electrical engineering projects.
The whole thing began as a joke that I made once, Sheepwave tells The Verge. It was really well received by people and my skills were sufficient. It's a lot of fun to work in electrical engineering, so it was great to be able to create such an amazing spectacle.
The Shockbox, a plastic box with wires and balsa, is similar to a TENS unit. It delivers an electric shock through electrodes that are taped to the player's arm. The Shockbox can be used by up four people at once (great for Commander or Two-headed Dragon games), and will zap a person when they have taken a random amount.
Magic players begin with 20 points of health, or more depending on how the match is formatted. The goal of the game is to reduce your opponent's life total to zero. This can be achieved by using a combination spells and monsters to hit your enemy in their face. The Shockbox tracks a player's life total. Players take damage by pressing a button one time on the box for each point.
It would be tedious to get a small jolt for each point of damage. Sheepwave came up with a clever way to keep the game interesting and the players engaged.
Sheepwave explains that it tracks four different thresholds of damage. A player takes more damage than their threshold, which is a random number between 1-10. The box modifies the shock to create suspense at low levels of life. It activates the shock and the duration is determined by how much damage they did before it went off.
Simply put, you don't know when or how long you might be shocked. Sheepwave also programmed each button to flash as a warning to the player when they mark damage. A shock is on the horizon. This is the box in action.
It's funny to hear the players laugh when they are shocked, but Sheepwave emphasizes how important safety was in designing this box. The box's shocking mechanism is powered by a single 9-volt battery. This is not enough power to cause any harm. Circuit breakers and fuse players were also added to the box so that it can be disconnected from the power source in an emergency.
The systems are separated so that even the worst case fails on one side will not put anyone in danger. Additionally, the Shockbox runs on internal batteries and not a wall plug.
Sheepwave also designed a calibration mode that allows players to adjust their shock levels to their liking.
It's been a lot of fun to portray the crazy scientist without any regard for safety or mental health on social media. However, I want people to understand that this image is entertainment only and that I have put a lot more effort into safety features than I did anything else.
Sheepwave says that shocks don't really hurt.
She says that the shocks are not painful but startling. These shocks can be a little bit uncomfortable, but they are thrilling in a good way. One time, I was forced to drop a deck of cards by an involuntary contraction. This made it very funny.
Sheepwave had been thinking about the box for a while, but it took her only about a month to build it. The biggest challenge was keeping the box compact.
Sheepwave stated that it went through many revisions. The Tupperware container was used for the first version.
To keep the Shockbox fun, Sheepwave has set some limitations and rules. The maximum health that players can gain is 60. Certain cards, such as those that endanger or prolong the game arbitrarily, are also prohibited.
Sheepwave said that there are decks she discourages people playing with the Shockbox.
Overly defensive decks don't encourage the type of experience that people who have electrodes on their heads want to have.
Eat shit blue control decks.
Sheepwave does not intend to sell the Shockbox. So don't expect Sheepwave to be at Friday Night Magic attempting to terrorize and delight your friends.
It is a surprising little addition to her Magic streams for now.