In my group, the rule is four or more players. Nobody wants to play with less.
What I enjoy most about multiplayer is the (typically) slow, high-power environment. I can create decks whose strategy is to build up some complicated engine or deep box of tricks. When that kind of challenge is replaced with 'play Emrakul
, win', it loses a whole lot of its charm. Not that I begrudge other
players using those cards (although Emrakul is perhaps a shade too strong), but they fall flat for me. I'm also not a fan of 'just make it hit everyone'. Putting four copies of Exsanguinate
into every deck with Swamps isn't creative or interesting, but is almost always correct. I appreciate the effort being put into multiplayer design, and a lot of it is an improvement, but I feel like some of these solve-everything-in-one-card cards stifle deckbuilding.
Of course I'm sure Timmy enjoys getting to eight mana and playing Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger
, but it seems like R&D are under the impression that multiplayer is for Timmy and nobody else. Multiplayer is the format that allows creative decks the chance to perform complex tricks; it's a haven for Johnnies. I can only speak for my group, but not one of us plays these multiplayer bombs. Everyone already knows Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur
will win the game, so what's the point in actually playing
it? Again, I can only speak for myself and my group, but we favour high-powered but open-ended effects like Deadeye Navigator
(see, it's not all criticism of modern design) over dreary monsters like Eldrazi. Recent sets have provided both, and that's good, but the proportions seem to be pretty lopsided.
I guess one issue may be that R&D are primarily Spikes. Multiplayer doesn't attract a large proportion of Spikes; if you're in a four-player game, you can't afford to care too much about winning. In multiplayer, everyone wants their deck to do interesting things, and then hopefully win at the end of it. A lot of the multiplayer-focused cards that are being printed are just expensive bombs, which really isn't that exciting. There seems to be a trend of printing powerful, interesting combo enablers, then sticking them to creatures powerful enough to count as win conditions by themselves. All of the Praetors (bar maybe Urabrask the Hidden
) are less interesting by virtue of being large creatures rather than enchantments. I find a game produces a more interesting narrative when the decks' dominance play isn't also their big finisher.