The Gathering can be a very painful game. Sheepwave, a streamer and artist who also creates Magic: The Gathering content, doesn’t find this game too painful. Sheepwave created the Shockbox, which delivers an electrical shock whenever a player sustains damage.
Sheepwave tells, that the whole thing began as a joke. It was well within my capabilities and people responded positively. It’s a lot of fun to work in electrical engineering, and 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. The Shockbox can be used by up four people at once (ideal for Commander or Two-headed Dragon games), and will zap a person after they have taken a random amount damage.
Magic players begin with 20 points of health, or more depending on how the match is structured. The goal of the game is to reduce your opponent’s life total by zero. This can be done by using a combination spells and monsters to hit your enemy in their face. The Shockbox tracks a player’s total life and every time they take damage, they press one button to the box.
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. “Once a player has taken damage beyond their threshold (which is a random value between 1 and 10, which the box modifies in order to build suspense at low levels of life), it activates shock. The duration of the shock is determined by how much damage the player did before it went off.”
Simply put, you don’t know when or how long you will be shocked. Sheepwave also programmed each button to flash as a warning to the player when they mark their damage. A shock is coming Soon(tm). This is the box in action.
The box’s shocking mechanism is powered independently from all other components. It is powered by a single nine-volt battery, which is not strong enough to cause injury. Circuit breakers and fuse players were also added to the box so that it can be disconnected from the power source in an emergency.
“Making sure that the systems are separated means that even the worst case failure on one of them won’t put anyone at risk, and the Shockbox runs on internal batteries instead of a wall plug is an additional safety feature.”
Sheepwave also designed a calibration mode that allows players to adjust their shocks to a level that is most comfortable.
“While it was fun to portray the mad scientist without any regard for safety or mental sanity’ image on social media, I want people to understand that this is entertainment value only and I have put a lot more effort into safety features than I did anything else.
Sheepwave claims that shocks don’t really hurt.
They are somewhat unpleasant, but they can be quite thrilling. One time, an involuntary contraction caused me to drop a few cards on the table. This was 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 the project went through many revisions.
Sheepwave has created some rules and limitations for the Shockbox to keep it interesting. The maximum health that players can gain is 60. Certain cards, especially those that arbitrarily end the game or prolong it beyond their life totals (e.g. Platinum Angel), are prohibited.
Eat shit blue control decks.
Sheepwave does not intend to sell the Shockbox. Don’t expect to see Sheepwave at Friday Night Magic attempting to terrorize and delight your friends.