• DEBATE - Are Unicorns Overpowered?

    We have decided to try something new here on EQD to go along with all the editorials and other ideas you all brought up before our comments were wiped on the suggestion post. Someone mentioned Debates, and we thought that was a great idea!

    One thing we always argue about here on EQD is the power level of unicorns in comparison to other races. Unlike our various human variants here on earth, the three tribes in Equestria have vastly different abilities and strengths. But where do unicorns fit in to the equation? Are they a domineering force that could replace any of the other races without much struggle? Or do they rely on pegasus and earth ponies to survive, even now?

    Head on down below the break for the debate!

    Unfortunately, we got a bit too excited. This post got really long. Chances are future versions of this wont be so wordy. Our bad on that! We just had so much to say on the topic.

    Note: This will probably go through some major changes. Please provide feedback on what you'd like to see done differently, or any topics you'd like to see us debate! 



    Why Unicorns are OVERPOWERED!

    Argued by: Sethisto 

    We have five seasons of glorious cartoon equine shenanigans under our belts now, and and a huge amount of Equestria has been explored. There are still countless mysteries to dive into, but pony society isn't really a pandora's box of questions anymore. We've seen major cities, tiny hamlets, creepy forests, and a plethora of personalities and cultures throughout.

    For the most part, Ponyland seems to be a relatively peaceful place to live. Ponies go about their daily lives without much worry. Earth ponies grow their crops, pegasus tend to the weather, and all is good! Unfortunately, this feeling of security is almost comically shattered every few months by one race in particular: the unicorn! A creature so beyond overpowered, that a single depressed mare can literally wipe out space and time!


    Some would argue that the other pony races are equally magical. Pegasus can summon tornadoes, and earth ponies have some pretty incredibly strength and a natural ability for farming, but do either of these traits come anywhere near the level of chaos that an angry or misguided unicorn can cause? We have seen it countless times now. Sombra enslaved an entire empire, Twilight casts a simple spell and all of Ponyville drops everything and falls in love with a beaten up doll, Starlight Glimmer corrupts a town and shatters space time, Sombra enslaves an entire empire, then teleports it away for 1000 years; this isn't exactly uncommon!

    How is a pegasus to compete when unicorns can obviously manipulate clouds in mass as well? What does an earth pony think when her unicorn buddy can pick an entire apple orchard in 5 seconds? Unicorns are definitely over powered.


    Why Unicorns are NOT overpowered

    Argued by: ABagofVicodin

    Before I respond, let’s discuss the parameters of how all three races of magic are conveyed. Earth Pony magic appears to be what makes them adept at farming and cooking (Pinkie Pie, Applejack, and Roseluck to name a few). Pegasus magic helps them shape the weather as well as fly and stand on clouds (Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, and Derpy Hooves). However Unicorn magic seems to be able to do a little bit more. As Seth said, it can levitate, teleport, fire blasts of magical energy, go back in time, as well as erase memories and make an entire race disappear in Sombra’s case.

    In the case of the Alicorn Princesses, they are able to manipulate the world and keep it running with Luna and Celestia’s ability to raise the sun and the moon. I believe in their case that it’s a collaboration between all three of the “race magics” that makes them able to do it. Of course, back in the previous seasons there was the desire to have only Celestia and Luna be alicorns and that probably prioritized them as the “rulers”. However, the show has went down a different path. While it is still extremely hard to manipulate Equestria beyond the bounds of a pony’s race, it’s not impossible.

    Prince pony due to his very specific job agrees

    I believe that Unicorn magic is over-represented, but not overpowered. I think that there are a few reasons why magic appears to be overpowered, and that would be because Twilight Sparkle is the prodigy main character. She’s a student of magic, which means that she is going to be more adept at magical spells than most of the unicorns that are in the background. Rarity herself is capable of levitation and a few enchantments, but most of her magic only applies to her job. She hasn’t been reading up on books as much as Twilight (or has latent magical talent like Sunset Shimmer or Starlight Glimmer), and I’d imagine that most of the background ponies have a layman’s grasp of magic.


    --Round #1--

    Argued by: Sethisto 

    The argument that we only ever really focus on particularly powerful unicorns is an interesting one, but the season finale shows that even a pony that isn't naturally talented can still train herself to get there with enough effort. Starlight Glimmer wasn't exceptional as a foal, and when we first met her in Our Town, she only has small selection of powerful spells. She was amazed and impressed with how quickly Twilight copied her barrier magic.  A simple spark of revenge drove her to master apocalypse level time magic, perfect self levitation, targeted crystallization, and death beams right up there with an alicorn that has been obsessed with magic since she was a foal.

    If we want to just focus on "exceptional" unicorns, take a look at the class Twilight is lecturing in the finale. That's a lot of magically talented equines attending Celestia's school for gifted unicorns! Surely this level of power isn't a complete impossibility for any pony motivated enough to obtain it.

    Rarity is a good example of this. She may not seem like an exceptionally strong magic user, and definitely hasn't ever shown any interest in getting more powerful, but her acquiring the ability to manipulate the weather when her cutie mark was swapped for half a day is sort of a testament to what she has the potential to do. I'm sure with enough practice she could be right up there with a pegasus in setting up realistic weather patterns. But lets not forget, even in a newbie corrupted form, she had the entire sky checkered with impeccably placed clouds and only just woke up with the sudden need to do it a few hours before. A single, non magic focused unicorn had full control over the weather, including rain, snow, and somehow amplifying the suns rays to burn everyone.


    --Round 1 Response--

    Argued by: ABagofVicodin 

    The crossroads that I feel this debate is heading into (if it isn't already there) is the question over whether the type of magic that comes with friendship is as powerful as the destructive nature of the magics that Sunset Shimmer and Starlight Glimmer previously experienced. While friendship is indeed magic, to say that revenge is what tempted a character to use the magic that was already latent within her and waiting to be pulled out I feel is missing the forest for the trees.

    Twilight Sparkle reads. Everyone else doesn't. Case closed.

    I doubt that the unicorns attending Twilight's class have the capability to do everything Twilight can, since her presentation was more on the magic of friendship than actual magical talent. Insofar as Rarity is concerned, I'm not convinced that Rarity would be able to manage weather in any way, both because of her race and the inherent complications that came with the Cutie Swap. There's a bigger picture here between the pony's destinies lining up with their ability to use magic, along with a lack of magical representation for the other two races. It's possible that a higher learner of Pegasus or Earth Pony arts is just waiting to be unlocked much like Twilight unlocking Starswirl's Notebook.

    All we hear about is tradition. Is there something more?

    My problem is that there's a lack of something, which is why it appears that unicorn magic is taking the center stage. The lack of any sort of Earth Pony academy (besides the lessons that apparently seem to be passed through generations) leaves Earth Pony magic unexplored. Whereas Twilight Sparkle has had 5 seasons to explore unicorn magic, especially since it was her core narrative through Seasons 1-3. I'd love to see a major Earth Pony villain in the next season to see what happens when Earth Pony magic goes awry. It might be possible at the end of the day, with all of the lore that we have under our belts that unicorn magic is overpowered. But I see something else past the horizon. I see untapped Friendship is Magic lore, and I can't wait to see what it is.


    --Round #2--

    Argued by: Sethisto 

    The concept of earth pony magic is cloudy to us, true, but you would think it would have been completely explored by now in Equestrian society as a whole. The lack of an Earth Pony academy argues that there really "isn't" anything to discover there. They grow things better and have more muscle mass, but aside from that they aren't really magical outside of their butt symbols. We've never seen Applejack channel the energies of the world to rapidly grow a tree. On the contrary, Winter Wrap Up shows that they simply place seeds in the dirt, provide water and sunshine, and wait.

    Pegasus are the only other tribe that have shown any kind of unexplored magical ability via Rainbow Dash and her Sonic Rainboom. It's the single innate skill outside of horn waving that has rapidly caused a massive change in the world (cutie marks for the mane 6 and other, to-be-explored ponies).

    Thanks, Rarity

    And on our favorite fashionistas front since she was mentioned again, I'd still argue that Rarity could gain weather manipulation over time. We've seen unicorns do magic that doesn't necessarily match up with their destiny multiple times, and there appear to be several artifacts just floating around at your local pawn shop to enhance it. I suppose you could argue that horse shoes could be used to enhance an earth pony's bucking, or a Wonderbolt uniform could increase a pegasus's aerodynamics, but we've never seen anything sorcerous for them. 


    --Round 2 Response--

    Argued by: ABagofVicodin 

    I think there's a little bit more to the magic inherent in the races considering the tale of Hearth's Warming Eve. While previously all of the races did their respective duties in order to keep Equestria running (Unicorns moving the moon and sun, Pegasi running the weather and Earth Ponies planting seeds), I actually doubt that "just putting a seed in the ground" would be easy for Rarity. Sure, she could plant the seed, but whether or not something comes of it is another thing entirely.

    While there have been examples of a pony not adhering to the traditions of their race (Fluttershy not controlling the weather), there doesn't seem to be examples of ponies who have reached into another race's magic while at the same time disregarding their own. If there was a chance to convey this type of narrative, I think it would have been done with the CMCs. While Scootaloo can't fly like a regular pegasus, she doesn't seem to be moving into farming or magic, instead seeming more like an engineer. I feel this is important to note because if Unicorns were truly overpowered, then they would be able to not only dip into the powers of other races, but at the same time render the other races obsolete. Considering unicorns cannot either farm or control the weather, their magic remains part of the rock, paper, and scissors game that are the Friendship is Magic races.

    In conclusion, I think a lot of the apparent examples of Unicorns being overpowered is more of an examination into the role of destiny and friendship as a magical force instead. While there have been examples of Unicorns or Pegasi not conforming to the tradition of their race, Unicorns aren't able to be "better" than the other two apart from some convenient examples (such as levitating a tree's worth of apples). They are all brain and no brawn and perhaps according to the world, don't even have the capability to do what the other two races can. I think the better question is whether or not "Friendship" is overpowered, considering the pursuit and lack of friendships appears to fragment and split Equestria's reality. I love these debates and I can't wait to have another.


    --Closing Statements--

    Argued by: Sethisto 

    We've covered a lot here in this debate, and both of us have made some good points, but one argument in particular keeps coming up that I feel has already been answered way back in the very first season. Are unicorns making other pony races obsolete? The fact is, Winter Wrap Up proved that they are! Spike groggily complained about not just using magic to change the seasons when Twilight booted him out of bed to celebrate the traditional, earth pony event. This is pretty much a dead giveaway that Canterlot, a unicorn dominated city,  has moved beyond needing pegasus or earth ponies.

    The entire concept of Winter Wrap Up is simply a way to celebrate how ponies did it in the old days. It's not mandatory in the slightest anymore. We've seen Twilight transmute apples into oranges. It can't be too far fetched to believe that the unicorns of Canterlot can freely transmute other objects into food.

    While the other races have a cultural place, I don't think their skills and abilities, save for flight in the pegasus realm, could ever match a well trained unicorn. Even Maud Pie's rock breaking super strength could be emulated with a mountain-splitting unicorn blast. For this reason, I'm sticking by my motion that Unicorns, are in fact, overpowered!


    Argued by: ABagofVicodin

    Overall, I feel that while unicorns are capable of doing perhaps a little more than Pegasi or Earth Ponies can when it comes to telekinesis and teleporting, their magic is limited due to their race unless they commit a lot of time or talent to studying. There are a lot of factors going on in the background, from destiny to the magic of friendship. All of which are pushing characters across a mystical chess board. It is due to these intricacies that I still stand by my motion that Unicorns are not overpowered, but merely over-represented.

    Friendship OP. Nerf next season.

    And that's your debate!

    Who won? What side did you start on? Did it change you at all? Hit the comments up!

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