From time to time, I like to pull out my insane knowledge of obscure cards and show a couple cards that most people don't remember exists that allow colors to do something they do not normally do. Today I will be listing a couple of Mana creatures in blue to help out my fellow mono-colored players. Every color actually has some decent to good mana dorks, and here are some blue ones.
First, the cards that just plain old produce man:
Blue's number one mana creature is from a long time ago back in Mirage. Obviously worse than some others, it van both filter your mana to blue (albeit one at a time) AND give you accell. Not bad for a mono-blue deck. The next one comes with a bit of a drawback, but can seriously pay off if an opponent is running blue (or any other color of mana your deck needs.
Untapping your opponents' land may seem fishy (pun intended), but this dude is a blue Fellwar Stone with politics attached. Not bad at all. Next we come to some classy ramp for mono-blue:
Turn one blue mana into 3! Sign me up. if this were an artifact that cost 4 mana almost everyone would use it. It's like a signet but it converts to quantity not quality of mana. The last blue card I want to show today is Mr. Mishra's Workshop. He ramps you out artifacts like no one's business
That's a tasty ramp card, plus it helps you activate artifact abilities as well. Sure he dies to a lot of stuff, but if they kill Mr. Workshop instead of your threats you are still winning.
That's all I have for today. So until next time...
Use YOUR shoes as counters!
Yesterday I wrote about pursuing that memorable "THE moment" in your EDH games. It was mentioned to me, that maybe I should spend some time listing off both how to build to promote "THE moment" in games, as well as list some examples from games that I will never forget.
Not everyone will pursue "THE moment" in the same way. Mark Rosewater over on the mother ship often talks about the three player psychographics; Timmy, Johnny and Spike. Each of these players enjoys different things about the game, but they all like to have fun and feel like they accomplished something in a game or at least that SOMEONE accomplished something that makes the game memorable. My next goal is to write about how each psychographic can help create “THE moment” in EDH without conforming to other player types’ views of fun.
Timmy has the least trouble creating “THE moment” in an EDH game, because his play style is defined by it. He loves to watch [card]Warp World[/card] resolve for the second time, or even kick a [card]Rite of Replication[/card] and [card]Twincast[/card] it for a ka-billion token copies of [card]Hamletback Goliath[/card] each in turn making the other larger. Timmy can simply put cards he already likes into decks. The best cards at creating Timmy “THE moments” are high casting cost, no drawback cards that are terrible in two player games, and still sub-par in games of multiplayer as well.
Johnny loves to make cards interact in new ways to create fun moments, so he has only a little problem creating “THE moment” in EDH games. The pitfall most Johnnies fall into is that of familiarity. Johnnies who perform two card combos that instantly win the game and have been prominent in a sanctioned format for months or even years tend to end games far before anything memorable happens and leave other players unfulfilled. In EDH, you can make things happen that take far more time and resources than other formats. Find cards that work in several 3+ card combos. Try to find 5 card combos that will make the whole table laugh when you play them. Accidentally going infinite in a way you didn’t even know the deck can do is incredibly fun as well. I had an [card]Izzet Guildmage[/card], [card]Reset[/card], [card]Djinn Illuminatus[/card] and [card]Reiterate[/card] all in play and/or in my hand and accidentally infinitely looped for mana on someone else’s turn and then had to use [card]Whispers of the Muse[/card] to "tutor" for [card]Searing Touch[/card] to win. It was insane, it was a game winning infinite combo, but no one complained.
Spike has the hardest time with not only holding back to create a moment, but with the EDH social contract to begin with. Spike likes to win, to prove that he is the best. The problem with EDH is that winning quickly is easy, being efficient is easy. What is NOT easy, is to do it a fun way. Spikes of the world, I am not asking you to choose suboptimal plays nor suboptimal card choices, but you do have to remember this. If you can win at any time, why end the game now instead of after everyone is fulfilled. There are two main ways for spike to create moments in EDH; hold off on a win until after THE moment, or make your wincons THE moments in and of themselves. The first option works only for Spikes that can set up a situation where they can win at instant speed. If you have the ability to win with an [card]Exsanguinate[/card] for 40 next turn with a [card]Vedalken Orrery[/card] on the board, that is totally a fair way to win, go you, but other players may be unsatisfied if the game ends without a defining play to take home as a good memory. Since you have achieved victory already, and can win at instant speed against any number of opponents. Let the Timmies and Johnnies of your group get their moment before you have yours. Everyone will be happy and you still will have won. Understandably, the opportunity to win is not always something that you have 100% control of when it happens. Without the Orrey, the last scenario would not be satisfying to a Spike due to the chance that someone else could steal his win before he decides to pop the [card]Exsanguinate[/card]. In those situations, I urge Spike to try and win in unconventional ways. The definition of “good cards” is pretty loose in EDH. Tons of tournament staples are junk in EDH and several cards that are considered total junk in other tourney formats are bombs in EDH. Win with crazy cards like a 11/11 [card]Draining Whelk[/card], or an [card]Ixidron[/card] with 20 face down dudes on the board. Strap a [card]Loxodon Warhammer[/card] on a general like [card]Commander Greven il-Vec[/card] or the like and smash face for a ton of general damage. If the wincon you use has not won a ton of games before but is still a good card, it is more likely to create THE moment when you win, rather than just be an abrupt end to a fun game.
It is everyone’s responsibility to make sure a game of EDH is fun for everyone playing it. Timmy and Johnny, make sure you play to the best of your abilities to challenge Spike. Spike, let Timmy and Johnny have their time to shine before you smash their face in, if at all possible.
"...there were just 2 of us left in the game and he had stolen my [card]Butcher of Malakir[/card], copied it 5 times with [card]Rite of Replication[/card] and then with his general as well! It was awesome, and then I got OWNED!”
While recapping the last move of my latest game of EDH, I came to a realization. Every good game of EDH has it’s “THE moment.” When I recall any game of EDH I have ever played I don’t remember all of the details of the game, I remember the one big, splashy play that was SO over the top that it MADE the game.
On that same note, there are several games of EDH that I have played that I DON’T remember. Most of those are games I would consider un-fun, but I suppose there are some of them that just didn’t have THE moment as well. In order to promote fun EDH games, no matter what group you are playing with, the main goal of every player should be to create THE moment.
All players have different ideas of what is and is not fun in a game of MTG, but I think that one thing that players of all types can agree is amazingly fun and always memorable is a big splashy play that does something that feels like a great accomplishment in a game of Magic. Winning can be, but is not always, THE moment in an EDH game. While all players should try to win, only the win in EDH that makes every player other than the winner happy to lose, or just happy that they played that game is a true win.
Even a win that is not a THE moment win is ok in a game of EDH. Most players will harp on combo decks in EDH because, how easy it is to “go off” in a format that includes all the most broken cards ever printed. The real reason they are unhappy (subconsciously) is that they feel like the game is over and will be lost to the annals of their memory and that the “dirty combo player” stole THE moment from the rest of the table.
To you combo players out there, I offer you this piece of advice. If you have the combo, and could go off. .. Don’t! Not yet. Wait for THE moment of this game. When it happens, let it happen. Don’t let the urge to control the game state completely overcome you. Let it at least, FEEL like someone accomplished something crazy and difficult before you end the game and move it on to the next one. If I get my [card]Hamletback Goliath[/card] up to a 47/47 and swing at someone, only to be chump blocked, the combo going off next turn FEELS better. It feels like your hand was tipped due to MY crazy dude and that game had MEANING. Something cool was accomplished by at least one player that everyone will be talking about even if the whole group hates combo. Heck, if your combo is something that is less simple to assemble than say [card]Mind Over Matter[/card] + [card]Temple Bell[/card], or less commonplace than [card]Reveillark[/card] + [card]Saffi Eriksdotter[/card] and [card]Karmic Guide[/card], your combo-win may just create another THE moment.
The thing I urge you to take away from this article is, EDH is not ABOUT winning. Sure, the GOAL of a game is to win, but the POINT of EDH is to try and have fun with big plays and to create THE moment for any specific game, so that all involved players will have something to relay to their friends about why/how that specific game was SO awesome and the accomplishment of one player that defined that particular match of EDH. If there is no THE moment, the game will just disappear into the players’ subconscious.
Welcome back to a little something different. Today I am going to revisit my "Tribal Wars Around the World" series and move on to the next tribe, Avatar!
Avatars are a tribe that needs A LOT of help to be a deck in and of itself. Almost all avatars are CMC5+ and several of them are made specifically to be in a deck of another more common tribe (See the "Ones")
The closest thing to a theme that I could find was that G/B land denial was a viable strategy thanks to Herald of Leshrac, Gaea's Leige and Deus of Calamity.
Now, this does not seem like much of a fun strategy to me, but its all I have to work with in a tribe full of finishers and devoid of any kind of early or mid game plan. the mana for any of the creatures in this deck is also going to be complicated.
4 [card]Avatar of Woe[/card]
4 [card]Avatar of Might[/card]
4 [card]Deus of Calamity[/card]
4 [card]Gaea's Liege[/card]
4 [card]Herald of Leshrac[/card]
4 [card]Gilded Lotus[/card]
4 [card]Skyshroud Claim[/card]
4 [card]Reap and Sow[/card]
4 [card]Overgrown Tomb[/card]
4 [card]Tainted Wood[/card]
1 [card]Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth[/card]
The deck has a mana denial theme, which I am not proud of, but hey, with a curve that starts around 5 being normal for tribal avatar, you are likely to still let several quick spells through in the early game with tribal wars usually being a quick format. The [card]Avatar of Woe[/card] and [card]Avatar of Might[/card] will both likely never cost 8 as your opponent(s) will always be doing more than you so you do sort of have an early game plan. This deck is best for single player, as LD is just plain bad in multiplayer, but this deck is passable at multiplayer as well with the Avatars of Might and Woe likely to come down somewhat early due to elvish or goblin speed decks rampant in Tribal Wars. I'm not sure what I would even do with a multiplayer avatar deck. Possibly just ramp hard and then play alot of the Demigod cycle from shadowmoor in the same color (mono-green perhapse? That would let me play with the formerly tournament playable Autumn Willow as well.)
That's all I've got for today folks, so until next time...
Use YOUR shoes as counters,
Part of the fun of playing a variant format is the fact that you have to be creative to find a deck that works. I have been playing Magic for 12-13 years and I refuse to net-deck. This is a brief intro to deck-building for the new player. It will help you build a deck that will at least draw you good cards so you can be on your way to winning some games. I cant promise that this will fix the whole problem of a loosing streak but it will certainly help.
Tip #1 - The deck size minimum is an unspoken maximum: There are all sorts of articles out there on other websites that actually do the math about probability of drawing a card in a deck of a given size, but they aren’t really necessary. In order to get your best card, a 4/60 chance is better than a 4/61 chance to get want you want. Do the math 4/60= .066 and 4/61 = 0.065. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that 4/60 is the bigger probability.
Tip #2 - Play 4 copies of a card if you have it: Again same probability issues apply. 4/60 is better than 1/60. This rule does not always hold true, but in general it does. There are some times reasons to play less than 4 of a card. Later I will list some good reasons for playing 1, 2, and 3 copies of a particular card.
Tip #3 - Mana curve: This is hard to summarize, but in a pinch lay your deck out in piles by converted mana cost (3R= CMC 4), lining up the top of one card directly under the title of the previous card. The bottom of the rows should form a ‘U’ shape (see below picture #1). This implies a few 1 and 2 cost cards, more 3, 4, and 5 cost cards and less of the more expensive spells. If you play a really aggressive [aggro] deck this does not apply in the same manner. In this case you want a lot of 1, 2 , and 3 converted mana cost cards and very few cards over that. The ‘curve’ will look more like an upside down skateboard ramp (see below picture #2).
Tip #5 - Mana ratio: Back in 1994 when I started playing, there was a nice easy way to figure out how much mana your deck needed. Generally you used 1 land to 2 cards ratio. Also you generally matched 2 cards of a color with 1 land that produced that color. In today’s higher mana cost environment, the best way to go is to follow the above rule and then add a few more land based on what type of deck you are playing. The best is to usually convert 5% of your deck to mana (22-23 cards in a 60 card deck) if I am playing a mid-range deck and 10% (24-26 cards in a 60 card deck) more if I am playing a control deck. An aggro deck can sometimes play 2% less land (anywhere from 18 to 21) if it has a really low curve. (This will look like a steeper ramp in Tip #3).
Tip #6 – Playtest: That is all I have to say about that…..for now.
(on a side note apparently there is no tip #4)
Today on the mothership, at the end of the serious fun column there was a contest to submit a deck that dealt damage to the opponent in a big way, and one of the options was to build for a variant format. Naturally, seing the words "contest" and "variant format" in the same place sparked my interest. I love the chance to be challanged to build a deck within a set of constraints and I DEFINATELY love me some variant formats.
One of my favorite formats to play burn in (which was Adam's topic that brought on this challange) is colored life. It quickly and easily shuts down entire colors for your opponent and the format has some really neat constraints on how you can win.
Here is the submission I entered into the contest
4 [card]Land Grant[/card]
4 [card]Lightning Helix[/card]
2 [card]Balefire Liege[/card]
4 [card]Vengeful Rebirth[/card]
4 [card]Exploding Borders[/card]
2 [card]Prophetic Bolt[/card]
2 [card]Skyshroud Claim[/card]
4 [card]Volcanic Island[/card]
2 [card]Tropical Island[/card]
This is the latest iteration of my burn deck built for the "Colored Life" variant format. Rules can be found here (http://wooberg.weebly.com/colored-life.html) on my website, but the jist of the format is each player has 5 life of each color and 5 colorless life. You can only deal damage to a life total of the color of the damage's source and if you have no life in a color you cannot play cards of that color. I know the deck is a little costly, but I have been playing for quite some time and have all the dual lands available to me so I may as well use them. The manabase can obviously be tweaked to make the deck a little more budget friendly with Ravnica shocklands and a Pillar of the Paruns and the like. the goal is simple, burn out each 5 point life total one at a time until they are dead. It fits well with your "Deal damage to the opponent" theme and has both the variety that makes a deck fun along with the classic "Burn the face" strategy that makes the all Lightning Bolt decks fun.
#10 - Choose a plane to revisit other than Dominaria or Mirrodin. What is a mechanical twist we could add if we revisit this plane?
“Arkazon shattered his magical prison and stretched his massive arms…”Ahhh, Freedom!” he hissed. “Now where was I?” he said as he planeswalked back to Shandalar to announce his return, and his dominion! The demon had all of eternity to advance himself to a position of power amongst the remaining planeswalkers after the mending. He had observed the whole thing from his prison, and was aware that few planeswalkers rivaled his albeit reduced power. Returning to Shandalar would be an invigoration experience. Magic is so prolific there that he could do anything. The nature of the moving plane was such that magic was common and all of its denizens could cast spells. Shandlar was a plane that had yet to be explored in the traditional sense. It had been read about in many books, but it was yet to be focused on in a planeswalker’s tome. The plane reminded him much of another place that he had read much on, Ravnica, the endless city plane that had a guild government structure, but the guilds on Shandlar were focused on Monocolor. Rarely did the colors mingle, but mana was prolific so planeswalkers stuck with their single color strategies. This made the plane unique and Arkazon found it to be weak. Thus his second coming began!
#9 - Of all the mechanics currently in Extended, which one is the worst designed? Explain why.
Clash is a keyword ability with a ton of potential to be incredibly fun but was poorly executed. Lorwyn and Morningtide were not the best place to put a mechanic that cared about converted mana costs. It did not really play into any of the sets’ themes and encouraged playing more expensive spells in a format that was filled with super quick removal spells and tribal creature decks that promote small creatures. The feeling of getting a much more powerful effect for winning a mini game where you are rewarded for playing with big splashy cards is really appealing to the casual crowd, and clash is a lot of fun with 1-2 cards featuring clash in a casual deck that allows you a much more broad card pool. In constructed environments, you have to make much more expensive spells win the game extremely quickly for them to see play, and with the release of Rise of the Eldrazi, it is likely that clash is a better mechanic in extended, but that is unlikely because the clash spells themselves all tend to have a converted mana cost of four or less. Releasing a mechanic like clash in Rise of the Eldrazi would have been much more exciting, splashy and fun, accounting for many memorable moments during casual and limited play. The design of clash is not bad (the abilty is fun), it was simply a bad fit for the environment it was submitted in. Design cannot happen in a vacuum and clash is a victim of its surroundings not being optimal.
#8 - Of all the mechanics currently in Extended, which one is the best designed? Explain why.
Of the mechanics in extended, the best design was hybrid mana symbols. There have always been colorless mana symbols that functioned similarly to hybrid insofar that they allow them to be paid for with multiple types of mana, but a completely colorless card is limited in the scope of what it can accomplish without allowing so much of a mechanical bleed that all five colors would begin to feel as though they were an unimportant distinction. Hybrid mana does several other things that cannot be achieved in the game without it. It allows the creation of one mana multicolored cards, allows cards to be designed that want to be usable in just one or two colors that could not be on an artifact without having to put extra text on the card (I.E. alternate casting costs), and it helps explore what design space the two color pairs have in common by forcing designers to think about a card as mono-white and mono green at the same time. By searching for this overlap in colors, designers are shown what abilities show up in which combinations of colors. This lets them see colors that need to have more abilities in their pie and which abilities are restricted to only one color and should be spread around more. Not only did hybrid mana open up a lot more design space. It also helps explore the design space that was already there, opening the designers’ eyes to places that need more or have too much overlap.
#7 - What do you think design can do to best make the game attractive to experienced players?
There are three different aspects of the game that keep players coming back: Nostalgia, New Interactions, and Value. Design has control over most of these aspects and they have in the past been used to great effect, but there are several ways to use each to our advantage.
Players like things they are familiar with. Designing cards that feel like cards from “the good old days” make players keep coming back for more. Molten-Tail Masticore, and really the whole idea of returning to Mirrodin, was a fantastic way to take advantage of nostalgia. Players who love and remember the original Masticore see the new card and immediately know at least partially how to feel about it. The design is not identical however, which creates the possibility of new interactions they can explore.
New interactions are another reason for a vested player to stay in the game. It is exciting to discover that a brand new card can work with older cards that have been sitting around collecting dust and make new fun play scenarios. When Training Grounds was released in Rise of the Eldrazi, players immediately leapt at the opportunity to dig through boxes of old cards to find creatures that suddenly were excellent because their activated abilities cost two less mana to activate.
The final way to keep players involved in magic is value. If powerful cards exist at lower rarities, it is more likely a player will buy boosters instead of single cards because there is more likely to be a card they wanted in any given pack. Cards like Lightning Bolt and Path to Exile insured that packs from M10 and Conflux were cracked in massive numbers and kept players buying packs. If the powerful cards in a set are too concentrated in higher rarities, players will buy singles online rather than purchase packs of the game resulting in less overall sales, as vendors will be the majority of pack purchases.
Moderator of WOOBERG.net, the Encyclopedia of Magic Variant formats, Shoe has been playing MTG since mid to late 1994, He acquired the nickname ‘Shoe’ through a stupid joke made during a MTG game about the Chimpokomon episode of South Park. He loves MTG and gaming in general and hopes to work designing games one day. He plays mostly with his 6 year old daughter these days, but multi-player, and weird formats are his preference.