Welcome to WOOBERG.net! WOOBERG once again has it's own domain name!
After much shuffling, and many behind the scenes changes, WOOBERG.net returns and with it, the hope of exciting changes. I have a new banner being commissioned with original artwork (of which I am responsible for the concept ...my artistic skills are that of a muse, not so much an actual artist).
Today we have an exciting article to add to the excitement of a new domain name, the final entry into the Unsung Heroes of EDH series that has been running for quite some time now. Also, in celebration of WOOBERG.net and the completion of the Unsung Heroes of EDH Series there is going to be a contest with PRIZES. Stay tunes to learn more.
Onto the last set of legends!
All but one of the 'Z' legends come from Portal 3 Kingdoms. I'm not going to reiterate in each entry how card availability limits the ability to play with all of them, but keep it in mind as I write reviews, because it is somewhat relevant.
Zhang He, Wei General
This dude is a HOUSE! Awesome evasion, CHECK! Pumps all your guys, CHECK!, in one of the best colors for EDH, CHECK!
Zhang He here has nothing but price keeping him down. If you have him, flaunt him!
Zhang Liao, Hero of Hefei
Zhang Liao here...not as awesome. In fact, slightly larger Hippy with no evasion is pretty terrible. This guy MIGHT have seen some play if he were from a different set, but he is still REALLY bad. At least he isn't [card]Gallowbraid[/card] or [card]Jedit Ojanen[/card]
Zhao Zilong, Tiger General
A 3/3 Unblockable general for five mana is never a bad thing. Another minor ability is a bonus, but not worth it's weight really. All-in-all, there are strictly better generals with horsemanship for mono-white, but like I said, unblockable is never bad.
Zhou Yu, Chief Commander
Hooray! [card]Sea Monster[/card] can be my general! Gah, this card is almost funny enough to run, and it is huge, but it doesn't seem like it would ever be the best choice. I'm not even sure you could go mono-blue soldiers...maybe with merfolk...
Zhuge Jin, Wu Strategist
OooOoo, [card]Crafty Pathmage[/card] can be my general TOO?! Not the worst legend in the world, but at least he can make ANY creature unblockable. It is only on your own turn though, so no shenanigans with opponent's creatures.
Zuberi, Golden Feather
I'm honestly supprised here. Not that Zuberi is particularly a good general, just that I figured some griffin lover would have thrown together a tribal deck with ol 'Uber here. Throw in some crazy [card]Griffin Canyon[/card] combo or something and it could do ok. Downside being that most griffins are pretty weak in EDH, but hey, not every deck has to be over 9000.
Rating: C+ (For theme deck use)
Zuo Ci, the Mocking Sage
Man was I mad when this guy and his ilk from P3K got erratta. It would be super awesome if this guy could be targeted just fine, but he could not be chosen by a [card]Clone[/card] or [card]Cytoshape[/card] to be the cloned dude. However, not only was he erratted, but now there are basically no cards in exsistance that still ask an opponent to choose a creature that do not target instead. Making Zuo Ci totally overcosted and worthless. He has an "evasion" ability that NEVER matters, and is a 1/2 hexproof for three mana. Too bad [card]Troll Ascetic[/card] makes this guy look sooooo terrible. Hell, [card]Thrun[/card] can even be your general and is better than this guy.
So here we are, at the dramatic ending of a LONG running series about Magic players' favorite variant format, and to bid it a fond farewell, WOOBERG.net (so, me) is going to have a deck-building contest.
Contestants will be choosing one of the Unsung Heroes of EDH from this series and building a deck around that commander. Players with the coolest deck that is the most fun looking, while still being able to compete with the likes of tier 2 generals ([card]Jenara[/card] for example) will win a 4th Edition [card]Nevinyrral's Disk[/card]!
Not a huge prize, I know, but certainty enough to warrant building a fun deck for EDH next week. (Gimmie a break here, cards are coming from my personal stash, and no matter how awesome I am I still do all the content here for free!)
Decks will be graded on the following criteria:
- Originality: Unique cards and card interactions are what makes playing with Unsung Heroes fun. I don't just want to see [card]Gallowbraid[/card] helming a deck of 60 staples and 40 land just to try and win "points".
- Rating of the General vs Deck Playability: The crappier rating the general got in my articles, the more likely you are to get a higher rating assuming the deck remains playable. Only make [card]Gallowbraid[/card] your general if you plan to cast him AND use him for stuff, which brings me to the next point:
- Focus on the General: The deck needs to display a clear theme that is related to the general. With all the talk of Staples and Goodstuff decks out there I want to see Generals and their armies, not a bunch of steroid pumped dudes lollygagging around where the general happens to be.
Submissions will be due before Christmas (12/25/11) at midnight. That following Wednesday I will be announcing a winner. Send your submissions to me by clicking this link.
Bonus: If you have pictures of yourself playing with the deck, or even winning with it as well as a brief play-by-play of a sweet turn (See the Cool Plays thread at the Commander forums), I will throw in a [card]Lightning Greaves[/card] or [card]Sol Ring[/card] from the commander boxed sets as well as the Disk!
That's all for today, tune in next week for something a little different.
Until next time...
Use YOUR shoes as counters!
Aak! So busy these days! Work has kept me on my toes and what with the upcoming trip back to my hometown for Christmas, and my daughter being at the doctor every week lately I am so tired I could eat a cat. Well, not a jungle cat...but you know...
Next week will mark the end of the "Unsung Heroes of EDH" series of articles. I have something big planned to finish of the series in a memorable way, so stay tuned.
This week, Black cards, partially black cards and the usual suspects (Kamigawa block, Legends, P3K and Homelands). It will be no suprise that most of today's generals are under/un-played.
Strangely unrelated to [card]Scion of the Ur-Drago[/card] as far as I know, Ur here is not, what we call, a good card. He prevents a kind of evasion that is not widely popular, but does show up from time to time due to [card]Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth[/card]. Seven mana for a 4/4 first strike is underwhelming in the current days, but at least his text box isn't full of literature.
Veldrane of Sengir
Black has some sweet legends. Veldrane is not one of them. Sucking Harder than her [card]Grandmother[/card] and [card]Irini[/card], a 5/5 for seven mana is not good, a 2/5 Forestwalk for 7 is not good. I guess if EVERYONE plays green at your table, you MIGHT play with Veldrane...but even then [card]Commander Greven il-Vec[/card] is more evasive, cheaper and fatter.
Xun Yu, Wei Advisor
The only reason this card is a legend is because of the set theme it came from. the ability to pump a dude BEFORE combat is unimpressive at best and to waste your general card-slot on this dude would be depressing.
Yomiji, Who Bars the Way
Yomiji creates some interesting recursion for a Legendary themed deck. White may not have a ton to offer in this regard, but I still think Recurring [card]Flagstones of Trokair[/card] with this dude would be pretty cool. Some other Legendary white stuff that is good to recur includes [card]Jareth, Leonine Titan[/card], [card]Dark Depths[/card], [card]Grimoire of the Dead[/card], and many, many more. Be careful with Yomiji, as well. This guy can also [card]Mindslaver[/card] lock a player all by himself too.
A lot of untapped potential here, enough to make me kind of want to build a deck.
Yuan Shao, the Indecisive
Horsemanship is never a bad trait for a general. Yuan Shao's second ability looks like a decent one, but in all reality it doesn't do much. He combos with [card]Goblin War Drums[/card] and [card]Two-Headed Dragon[/card]. He is playable and I bought a copy, but I have been less than impressed with how he grants his team "evasion"
Yukora, the Prisoner
A 5/5 vanilla with a Horrible Drawback....that seems Familiar. At least his isn't cumulative.
That's all for this week. Tune in next time for the final exciting episode of the Unsung Heroes of EDH!
Until next time, Use YOUR shoes as counters!
WOOBERG now has a section of links to Magic sites that I spend way too much time on. Some are funny, some are EDH and some are just useful.
Tacos are unrelated to EDH
Welcome back WOOBERG readers, in an attempt to finish what I have started, I plan to power through the last 3 entries to the Unsung Heroes of EDH series that has been running here on WOOBERG for many [card]moon[/card]s. This week, awesome things (besides tacos) that start with the letter T. There are quite a few of them and many are quite terrible. There is even more than one Vanilla Abomination that begins with T...however I would like to note that I am aware that [card]The Lady of the Mountain[/card] should be listed under the 'L' Section, but the sort function in MS Excel 2010 is NOT. Without further ado, I give you...
Taniwah makes me laugh, he has a funny name, a funny keyword and a funny drawback. All-in-all, Taniwah is terrible, but that doesn't mean we can't build something with him. A 7 power means he is in the "3-or-less-hits-for-a-general-damage-kill" club, and if you are playing with douche-bags, you could join in and Cast a [card]Sunder[/card] with artifact mana on a turn when all of your land is phased out. Still, not many fun applications for Taniwah here.
So, Grandeur is basically a blank ability in EDH, so let's look at what Bladewing Jr. does here. For 5 mana we get a 4/3 flying, haste dude. Papa Bladewing ([card]Rorix Bladewing[/card]) seems better almost all of the time, for 1 extra COLORLESS mana you get +2/+2. If you want to run a hastey dragon general, go with Bladewing the first.
Telim'Tor here pumps five dudes in an EDH deck, [card]Blazing Blade Askari[/card], [card]Bogardan Lancer[/card], [card]Burning Shield Askari[/card], [card]Suq'Ata Lancer[/card] and [card]Searing Spear Askari[/card]. There are a couple of cards that grant flanking as well, but are you REALLY that desperate to make a Telim'Tor deck?
The Lady of the Mountain
Vanilla Abomination...also starts with L not T...Stupid Office products.
The Unspeakable here costs 9 mana which hinders him a little bit, but for a big fat flying and trampling general, that could be ok. His last ability is pretty neat, recursion is always good, but it is quite limiting in only getting back arcane spells. Blue has a few decent ones, but they mostly only draw cards and bounce or [card]Twiddle[/card] stuff. [card]Reweave[/card] seems like a cool thing to recur, as well as [card]Heed the Mists[/card] for some theoretically huge drawing power. [card]Shifting Borders[/card] turns off or steals you some powerful non-basics, and [card]Veil of Secrecy[/card] makes for a self-Voltroning general. [card]Grozoth[/card] fetches your general if he gets tucked too!
Thriss, Nantuko Primus
Ummmm....Thiss seems boring. He is a dude that you can strap on to your other creatures for a turn. I mean, I guess having a bigger [card]Living Hive[/card] could be cool, but otherwise, wouldn't you rather deal 5 general damage than an extra 5 damage with a different creature? At seven mana, Thriss needs to do a lot more that have a tap ability that is a lot like [card]Giant Growth[/card] (which sucks in EDH).
Tivadar of Thorn
Tividar here is also on the boring side, unless your opponents' general is [card]Wort, Boggart Auntie[/card] or some such, he is basically a worse [card]Paladin en-Vec[/card]. I guess he deals with [card]Goblin Welder[/card]s.
MORE Vanilla Abominations!
[card]Lady Caleria[/card]'s evil twin costs a bit less for a bit less junk in his trunk and weaker arrows. Unfortunately, he also comes in colors that can outright kill and burn the hell out of dudes WAY better than Lady Caleria, so he is just BAD.
Torsten Von Ursus
Three Sir, THREE! Just another Vanilla Abomination.
This is just a mini, flying Thriss. The green/red flying legend role is filled by only Mr. Deathlock here (yes it is a MR, read the flavor text), plus an actual Deathlok alter would make this card pretty sweet.
Well, that's all for today. Next week will be U-Y, because YES there are THAT MANY legends beginning with Z on the list.
Welcome back to the Unsung Heroes of EDH, a column dedicated to the Legendary Creatures in Magic that are too cool for school, and too hot to handle...well, maybe just not handled. These creatures are not currently being played as a commander by ANY user on the MTGSALVATION.COM or MTGCOMMANDER.NET boards.
Today...Lots of Snakes and even more Kamigawa legends! Also, I am noticing a pattern with Mirage block legends also showing up here a lot due to their uninteresting nature. On to the Legends!
Sachi, Daughter of Seshiro
Sachi here was once part of an infinite combo in both Standard and Kamigawa Block constructed. Her, plus [card]Orochi Leafcaller[/card] and [card]Freed from the Real[/card] is infinite mana. Also, she may kind of stink at being a snake legend, but let's not forget her second ability. In a Shaman tribal deck, Sachi plays one hell of a mana ramp game. Definately worth a second look. [card]Reach of Branches[/card] seems like a good start.
Sakiko, Mother of Summer
I really enjoy the idea of Sakiko. I had a deck starring her for the longest time, and I might build one again. The biggest problem with green is, it doesn't NEED more mana ramp. It already has done that by turn 6+ like a BOSS! On the other hand, [card]Ant Queen[/card], [card]Genisis Wave[/card] and [card]Gelatenous Genisis[/card] have been released since I have last played with this card and give me a renewed love for the idea of a Sakiko deck. [card]Wurmcalling[/card] is another that seems pretty good. If only there were outlets in green that resulted in something like card draw or whatnot. I suppose [card]Book of Rass[/card] is ok.
Sensei GT here is just too little of an effect to make much a difference. He is a 2/1 for 2 with an ability to make dudes into samurai. Samurai pumpers, and samurai in general kind of suck in EDH. He isn't as bad as some others, but he is far too boring to get played in any significant amount...also, I don't think gaining multiple instances of Bushido 1 stack.
Shimatsu the Bloodcloaked
Shimatsu here looks like he sucks a fat one on first glance, but then think of this; red has a ho-jillion ways to steal stuff until end of turn. Add all that to a deck with this bad boy and you just x-for-1'd your opponent. Additional suggestions like [card]Vedalken Orrery[/card] and [card]Winding Canyons[/card] make him even better.
Shisato, Whispering Hunter
This card is so douchie if it hits someone, but because it is a small dude with a somewhat harsh upkeep it seems "fair" i guess. Throw on a [card]Whispersilk Cloak[/card] and he starts to be a helluva lockdown. He seems "bad but usable" enough that I would try him out with things like [card]Snake Basket[/card], [card]Orochi Hatchery[/card], [card]Snake Pit[/card], [card]Endless Swarm[/card] and [card]Sosuke's Summons[/card]
LOOK! I CAN PLAY [card]SEASONED MARSHAL[/card] (with flanking) AS MY GENERAL!
Sima Yi, Wei Field Marshal
Half of a [card]Nightmare[/card] seems ok, but with [card]Korlash[/card] why would you play with Sima Yi? Sima probably even costs more money since he is from P3K. Never the best choice for a black deck, but at least he gets huge.
Sir Shandlar of Eberyn
Wow! The Vanilla Abominations were so cool looking and had great flavor...too bad they were SUPER unplayable. I guess Sir Shandlar is at least a white and green Knight Legend for your knights tribal deck these days. [card]Knight of the Reliquary[/card] says hi.
Spirit of the Night
Damn Spirit of the Night is expensive. [card]Arkoma[/card] costs one less and gets more abilities. I guess, at least Spirit of the Night is black so you can play Akroma as your general in 3 different colors now. Also, if he gets tucked there is [card]Urborg Panther[/card] and friends.
Sun Ce, Young Conquerer
[card]Riftwing Cloudskate[/card] but with better evasion and +1/+1 can be your general. Seems good, psudo-removal or a reuse a 187 creature's ability on a creature that basically reads as unblockable is very nice. Probably doesn't see play because he doesn't have flash and is from P3K so he is quite pricey.
We're getting to the end of the Unsung Heroes of EDH. It seems that the further through the alphabet we get, the worse the cards are. Maybe I am just tired of seeing such BAD cards.
That's all for this time, so until next time...
Use YOUR shoes as counters!
There was a search done on Google this month for the question "mtg why is there no sideboard in tribal?"
I felt, as the emissary or variant formats, to try and answer this question. There are several possible reasons:
1. The format was designed to be casual: Like most variant formats, Tribal was invented by some random unnamed playgroup somewhere. Games may or may not have been even PLAYED for best 2/3.
2. Sideboards are implied: This may or may not be true on MTGO, I don't do the MTGO thing, but a lot of times variants assume everything to be the same as one of the various sanctioned Magic formats except where explicitly stated otherwise.
3. Tribal Wars is not a supported format: Sideboards are almost exclusively a thing of sanctioned formats. Tribal Wars was "sanctioned" once at 2003 Magic Invitationals where they actively seek out variant formats. Those decks were also built by Daily MTG readers, so they probably removed the sideboard option to make deck-building easier.
All in all, it could have been any or all of these factors, but frankly I think #1 is the most likely. Most variant formats are simply created by a bored playgroup and not a whole lot of thought is put into them at their inception.
Until next time, Thanks for reading and Use YOUR shoes as counters!
This month is crossover month at Commandercast.com in which, WOOBERG is the first lucky site to get an article written by someone from Commandercast. While my article rests safely in the hands of the Commandercast team HERE, we have the pleasure of hearing from the father of Commandercast Andy a.k.a. Ghooosts about none other than Comman...wait, this article is about Type 4. Andy has admitted to having a second love, and an itch to write about it, RIGHT HERE! So without further ado, here comes the article.
Hi, my name is Andy and I run a website called CommanderCast. This means I am closely associated with EDH to people who don't know me in the real. It only makes sense; when a guy runs a Commander-centric website, talks about the format for almost two hours a week on a podcast, and has done up videos, articles, and all kinds of other crap all based on EDH, then it's probably a safe bet that I'm pretty invested in Commander.
While this is true, it's also not a huge secret that Commander isn't my favourite format. That honour belongs to a wild take on casual Magic you have probably heard whispers of, but may have never experienced yourself; some lucky few have gotten a taste at a convention or tournament, but then never pursued the format further. This format goes by various names: Type 4, Infinity Draft, and Stack are all applicable labels it's gone by at one point of another. In this article, we’ll be calling the format Type 4, shortened to T4 for the rest of this crap (or at least as far as you manage to read before giving up to go play videogames). To check in on the basics of playing T4, you need look no further than this very website to find an outline of the rules. However, much like Commander, T4 is a format of great variation and customization without a single all-encompassing set of standardized rules.
The purpose of this article is to discuss some of these variants on T4, which ones I've found work best for me, and why you should try them. While it's pretty hard to screw up a game of T4 to the point nobody actually wants to play, there's no reason not to experiment and see what you like best in terms of format configurations. There have been all kinds of tomes written on how to construct a stack at various websites, so this article will duck those discussions and assume we’re all big boys and girls who can use Deckbox.org or whatever and read cards ourselves to figure out what we want in the Stack. Instead, we’re just talking about ways to play T4 and why I’ve settled on the format I’m playing now (hint: because it’s the best).
Each T4 Stack is a format unto itself, like a given Standard rotation except not totally shitty and boring. Building the Stack is like building a Cube. You need to craft the experience you want. But also like Cube, there’s all kinds of peripheral stuff you need to consider that will make an impact on the games before they start. For example...
Personally, I don't understand why people stress over cutting cards from their T4 Stacks or keeping it below a certain number of cards. While I can understand the Cube-esque approach since it means you're creating a focused experience that showcases some of Magic's most hilariously overcosted-but-backbreaking cards, it also makes for a more dry experience. The biggest value of T4 is that you are playing cards that aren't used much anywhere else, even in shoddy/awesome games of Commander. Towards that end, it's great to play a game of Magic where you don't expect to see a bunch of the same cards like you see in developed/boring games of Commander. A bigger Stack has more variance, and leads to more wildly entertaining and less predictable Type 4 games. In the end, I say let your Stack expand organically and don't worry about self-imposed restrictions like "under 300 cards". It's a pretty crazy format, so why try to make it all academic now?
HOW TO PLAY YOUR STACK
Leaping into Type 4 is a little overwhelming. And by that, I mean overwhelmingly awesome. This is not a format that requires looking for good lists, investigating format staples, or 'keeping up with the Joneses' in terms of having expensive cards. You actually don't even need to invest much money into the Stack; between the crap you have sitting in boxes, overcosted beaters in your binder, and your favourite [card]Craw Wurm[/card] variants, you can build a perfectly functional Stack that will give you a great experience. But the real question is, "how do I plan to play this thing?" You'd better have at least an idea, because the impact on how you compose the Stack is pretty serious.
The most commonly-played variants of T4 I see break down as follows:
1) Grab a Pile: A lot of people sit down and grab a pile of cards from the Stack, and then start playing. It's simple and it works. This also saves a lot of time since you don't need to compose decks, draft and read the cards you're about to get wheeled, and so on. This is the simplest way to play since it has the least setup and the rules are pretty close to a regular game of Magic.
2) Off the Top: Some people sit their Stack in the middle of all the players and everyone draws from it communally. In Stacks of over 150 cards (which describes every one I've ever seen), usually you take a fat pinch of the Stack and plop it down between the players. Everyone draws off this same Stack and then you play a regular game of T4. This might even be easier than playing "Grab A Pile" style, but it has a significant impact on the Stack's design. You need to avoid tutors, since once one goes off, everyone literally has to wait for it to resolve before they can draw or take their turn, and they might be looking at a pile of 200 cards. You need to keep in mind cards like Impulse might not work as intended, since once cast, another player can use some Instant-speed draw to get the cards laid atop the library. This is another time-saver, but I'd rather play Grab A Pile.
3) Draft: Personally, I consider Rochester draft of the Stack the ultimate T4 experience, hands down. Even the process of revealing each draft is exciting as people get hype over the smorgasbord of bombs laid before them. The pregame of drafting is a game unto itself, with the signals, table talk, and whatnot all contributing a great deal to the T4 experience not only in ways that directly impact the coming game, but also socially. You need to decide on the size of your decks (I like drafting to 30 cards per library) before starting to draft, but I also like that in this format, mill is a viable strategy and cards like [card]Keening Stone[/card] or [card]Szadek, Lord of Secrets[/card] can go all the way.
Furthermore, knowing your Stack will be drafted makes the composition more interesting. You can start to build with archetypes in mind; you can include cards you know will be sleepers and may be under-drafted to see how well they fare ([card]Fulgent Distraction[/card]!); you can put people's valuation to the test by seeing who first-picks [card]Brainstorm[/card] over something bone-crushing like [card]Jareth, Leonin Titan[/card]; you get to consider things like colour-dependent pitch cards (after all, [card]Force of Will[/card] kind of sucks without other blue cards in your library) and how people will draft them. These factors make me consider the Rochester Draft of T4 the best way to showcase the format and get people addicted.
Towards this end, behold the greatest piece of real-life technology to hit T4 since sleeves:
It's not just a funny novelty, it's also practical. When playing with players new to T4, they often need to read cards passed to them in draft. When they're getting passed nine cards in a five-player game, rotating each individually is kind of a pain in the ass, so why not just sit them on the turntable and spin the whole thing towards the active drafter? It works so well I could barely believe it. If you draft in T4, you owe your Stack one of these.
ALTERNATIVE CASTING COST
T4 is defined by two beautifully contrasting rules: limitless mana reserves and a single spell per turn limit. However, Magic as a game is defined by the willingness to continually break it's own rules within the framework of the game. What happens when we apply that to T4? Wizards is unlikely to ever print a T4 expansion set that gives you T4-specific cards to enable things like multiple spells per turn (and even if they did, I don't think I'd want it, truthfully). But fortunately, there's a subset of cards that already warp MtG's core rules that we can also use to create an interesting dynamic in T4: alternative casting cost cards. Examples include the 'pitch' type cards from Alliances/Coldsnap and Mercadian Masques, 'Trap' cards from Zendikar, and Suspend cards from Time Spiral.
Some players allow these cards to break the one-spell-per-turn limit so long as their alternative cost is paid. This is an interesting dynamic that shifts how these cards are evaluated. While [card]Ricochet Trap[/card] is a fine card on it's own, it's value skyrockets when it allows you to cast an additional spell per turn. In an environment that is heavy on counter-magic and redirection, as some stacks become, Ricochet Trap is beyond valuable as it gives the ability to protect your precious once-per-turn spell. Some Suspend creatures like [card]Riftmarked Knight[/card] are pretty unimpressive by T4 standards, but what about when he shows up for free a few turns later? By allowing people to play alternative cost cards without it counting towards their spell per turn, you not only increase the number of cards that can be considered 'Stack worthy', you also open up more avenues of play - always a good thing.
Personally, I strongly favour not only allowing alternative cost cards to duck the '[card]Arcane Lab[/card] Rule', but also placing many into the Stack. They create fun situations and having them as a known quantity following a draft creates more tension in games. Not knowing what your opponent is holding makes the game more fun; after all, nobody likes [card]Telepathy[/card], right?
Of course, this means you might have to make some rulings. For example, is Morph cost an alternative cost (yes)? What about Phyrexian mana (no)? Flashback (no)? My guideline to define a true 'Alt. Cost' is to determine whether you can cast the spell in a way other than the mana cost in the upper-right corner. Flashback cards can't be cast using the normal cost in the Graveyard, so it's not an 'alternative' cost; it's just a cost. The same with Phyrexian mana; there's only one way to pay for the spell and it's all in the upper-right. This guiding principle has yet to fail me, and while admittedly Morph can feel a bit weird (and goes infinite with a few cards or by themselves at times), it's fun to see these creatures performing so well outside a Limited environment.
STACK COMPOSITION AND THE TOUCH OF DEATH
When I refer to 'composition', I'm not talking about having X% of removal, or any other number-crunching guidelines; I leave those up to eggheads who like spreadsheets. My stack just consumes any cool card that gets too close to it (occasionally accompanied by some creepy John Carpenter-type music played softly in the background) without much regard to balance, and if it feels off, I just work out what cards people don't like after some games and take them out.
I'm instead referring to the inclusion of entire categories of cards. The rules of Type 4 radically alter the way some cards play. [card]Fireball[/card] goes from Limited Champion to "Win the game"; Mana-producing abilities are worthless; [card]Firebreathing[/card] creatures have the 'touch of death'. Do these kind of cards have any place in your Stack?
While I personally don't use any cards that result in instant victory (like most multitarget X spells) or even single-card player killers, there's nothing wrong with having them in the right kind of stack. Justin, who regularly podcasts with me on CommanderCast, keeps his stack on hand when he's judging at events. Between rounds, it's not unusual for him to sit down with some contemporaries and play T4. However, in this context, Justin's environment demands short games. When organized play resumes, his judge posse has to return to the floor to smite cheating scumbags and dispense Solomon-esque wisdom to resolve rules disputes. This is where the X spell comes in handy. How long can a game go when a single spell can mean instant death?
But this also means you want players to have a fighting chance. Justin's Stack is loaded down with cards like [card]Redirect[/card], [card]Twincast[/card], [card]Wild Ricochet[/card], [card]Commandeer[/card], and [card]Shunt[/card], not to mention a hefty dose of countermagic (which all stacks should probably feature). This creates a great dynamic exclusive to Type 4; if you go all-in on that [card]Ghitu Fire[/card] on somebody, you're also completely exposed. You can't cast countermagic. If your opponent [card]Redirect[/card]s your spell or something, you expire. Given the density of such stack manipulation cards in Justin's cube, then these 'instant kill' type cards are perfectly acceptable. Obviously, you can also opt in on a ton of creatures with [card]Firebreathing[/card] or [card]Shade[/card] pumps, but then you need to pack adequate [card]Fog[/card]s and removal effects. It's all about balance.
That said, it's not for everyone, myself included. I prefer my games to be a bit more of an extended engagement. I still leave in cards like [card]Urza’s Rage[/card] that can easily finish an unprotected player off, but they’re also totally awesome and exciting when they get played.
So, I’ve gone over a few outside-the-game issues that influence your T4 experience; Stack Size (let it grow!), Deck Composition (draft all day!), Alt. Casting Rules (use them and love them!), and Touch of Death cards (stay away unless you need 5 minute games!). I’ve also included my recommendations on what’s made an optimal experience for me, but if there’s one thing you should take away from this article, it’s that T4’s simple and absurdly awesome premise contains within it huge potential for customization, personalization and complexity. I would be surprised to find a Magic player who could not sculpt all these variables into a T4 experience they would love playing with their friends.
Build a Stack. Experiment with it, toy with the card choices, fiddle around with the pre-game setup. But play Type 4 . It’s the best format there is, and it also provides a wonderful breath of fresh air when you’re feeling stifled by bullshit conventions like ‘converted mana costs’ and ‘land bases’. Commander overrun with boring staples and predictable archetypes? Cube too expensive? Standard still awful? Don’t worry; Type 4 is ready for you. The real question is, are YOU ready for Type 4? When asked, I haven’t met a Magic player who hasn’t been ready, whether they knew it or not. Grab your turntable, round up your [card]Grozoth[/card]’s buddies, and LET’S GET IT!
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.