Saturday, March 24, 2012, 2:29 PM
So, over the past few thousand games of multiplayer magic with and against scores multiplied by scores of different decks, I'd like to talk about some of the notable archetypes that have been played by multiple players over the years. Probably variants of these exist in your playgroups as well, because the concepts grow naturally out of the cards. This list is by no means comprehensive!
Black Slurp: We will start with one of the most powerful archetypes of all - one that has recently become even more (!) powerful. This is an incredibly simple casual decktype that focuses on black cards which drain life from the opponents and give life to the player. Syphon Soul is one of the earlier examples of these cards, which gain in power as they face more opponents. The archetype has existed for a long time and cards like Kokusho, the Evening Star made it really fearsome. This archetype didn't need any more help - and then they printed Exsanguinate which is just sick and wrong. The single-target X spells, especially powered up by Cabal Coffers were already strong in this archetype!
Draw Cards & Burn: This archetype is all about instant speed responses. It wants to sit back with untapped mana and a fistful of burn, counters, card draw, and bounce. It doesn't seem too threatening - maybe it just Repulse s a creature that tries to attack, Accumulated Knowledge a time or two, but once the game has gone long and people are around 10 life, watch out for the sudden bursts of mana and Fork ed direct damage spells that steal the win at instant speed.
Big Robots: The seeds of this archetype go back all the way to Juggernaut decks of the ancient days. It really kicked into gear once Urza's block was printed - Phyrexian Colossus + Voltaic Key was a fun trick at the time. Things really kicked into gear with the printing of Mirrodin, though. Darksteel Colossus was the biggest baddest beatstick we'd ever seen, and once you had committed to cranking out 11 colorless (or at least 9 for Tooth and Nail ) it seemed natural to also include other stuff like Platinum Angel or Mindslaver or Memnarch . This style recently made a big comeback even before the return to Mirrodin in Scars block, because the Eldrazi could fit into many of the same style shells, as long as their non-artifact nature wasn't a problem.
Don't Mess with Me: also known as "Judo" style. These are reactive decks which aim to turn attacks against them back onto the attacker. There are a lot of ways to do this - Backlash style, or Captain's Maneuver style, Slave of Bolas style or Misdirection style. This style is incredibly strong if you let the player get away with sitting back and don't force them to use up all their resources. Note that this archetype is different from the "steal ownership" archetype!
Tokens: In the past few years, tokens have become a tournament-worthy strategy, but for a long time, token decks were mostly the province of casual play. Squirrel tokens or saproling tokens were the usual choices. For a long time, my highest winning percentage deck was a Verdeloth the Ancient + Nemata, Grove Guardian token machine powered by Gaea's Cradle and Crop Rotation .
Needless to say, other known archetypes like tribal decks of every type, reanimator, and various arbitrarily large combos are also ubiquitous, but everyone knows those decks already.
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Monday, October 17, 2011, 11:10 AM
Played in States 2011 and went 6-2 with monored. Almost made top 8, I was 6-1 going into the last round of swiss but g/w tokens pretty much stomped me. Usually I only post about multiplayer casual, but I enjoy the occasional tournament as well.
My topic for today, inspired by my experience at States, is: " Shrine of Burning Rage is redonkulously awesome." I've always loved burn-heavy decks, in some ways I think I'm attracted to red in mtg because it contrasts with my very "blue" personality. In real life I'm someone who more or less spends all day studying science and philosophy, so I enjoy playing clear, simple, RAWR burn decks as a contrast to my normal proclivities.
The classic problem for Red is always running out of gas. Small aggressive creatures backed up by burn is a fantastic early game strategy, but once the Wraths and fatties, you are often reduced to hoping that you can topdeck enough burn to finish the game. The Shrine of Burning Rage fixes red's problem with forcing through the damage needed to finish the game if you have lost board control. Assuming you get a shrine out early so you have a stream of spells to charge it, it ticks up to high damage faster than a slow control deck can seal the deal.
If you have a shrine online, you can change your strategy a lot. Instead of being forced to use your burn to clear a path for your weenies, you can actually just lay back and save all your burn for the opponent's dome, and use your weenies as chump blockers to stall the game while your shrine charges. If you have a Shrine out, all you really need to do is wait, and it will eventually win the game for you. "At end of turn, Incinerate you, counter on the shrine, upkeep, counter on the shrine, sac the shrine and you take nine more."
As a red mage, I offer heartfelt thanks to r&d for printing a card that is so helpful at balancing the weakness in red's late game.
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Tuesday, March 15, 2011, 3:43 PM
Our Monday night multiplayer group is filled with the carnage of the war raging on Mirrodin. One of the most memorable games last night included everyone drinking from the forbidden Knowledge Pool and that card lived up to its reputation for creating brain warping game states. I was playing an Aura Shards deck with a lot of efficient creatures that get pumped from Wilt-leaf Liege , and when the pool came down, OP was able to play two lieges from the top of my deck in exchange for contributing a couple memnites to the pool. Once it got around to my turn, I attacked in, then used a pair of Fleetfoot Panther from my hand to swap in for a Ragged Veins contributed by Brett, then use the second panther to bring in the first from the pool and save one of my guys. If none of that made sense to you, its not your fault, Knowledge Pool is insane. That game was eventually won by Nicki smashing everyone down with a 10/10 Phyrexian Rebirth token (which dodged aura shards triggers more than once with the help of Brave the Elements ) backed up by Sun Titan recurring Wall of Omens .
Other notable matches from last night include a game that featured one player dying to mill the turn before the mill deck got poisoned out, a game where a pair of early game Magus of the Vineyard got wiped by pyroclasm and a final sudden death game where my Goblin deck featuring Warren Instigator lost the race for the kill to Brett's infamous elf deck, which had seemed to be playing out slowly until the final turn when a sudden flurry of elves let a pair of Timberwatch Elf make sure that something got through for lethal.
A deck that has really emerged as a standout performer is OP's multicolor deck, which uses a ton of dual lands and Valakut, the molten pinnacle to combine a profusion of "good stuff" like planeswalkers with the inevitability of Valakut's long game reach.
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Thursday, November 18, 2010, 4:16 AM
I'd kind of been waiting for Scars to come out to do a lot of deckbuilding work. I had made several decks after ROE came out focusing on about what you'd expect - Eldrazi, and the obligatory Ally deck. A lot of my decks were feeling a bit stale, and I was expecting Scars to offer a lot of fun possibilities, especially because I have a good stash of cards from the first Mirrodin block.
In with the new, out with the old - I tore up tons of old stuff, revitalized some of it, and then built about a dozen decks, about half pretty focused on Scars themes, the other half using "good stuff" from Scars and M11 along with old favorites.
Probably the most creative thing I put together was a "machine" style deck designed around a couple new imprint artifacts, Mimic Vat and Prototype Portal , and Vulshok Replica Perilous Myr along with old favorite Blasting Station .
As often with this kind of deck, its a bit slow and awkward to get set up, but gets powerful if nobody disrupts the engine. I've only played it once so far, as Brett's partner in a three teams of two game with an exciting finish. It had been a slugfest, a couple players down already. Brett told me I should finish off the opponent with the lowest life, so I tapped my Necrogen Censer and then made and sacced a Replica off a Portal it was imprinted on. That finished up Dan. The remaining player, Zack, was at 10 life and before he could untap, Brett cast...
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Sunday, April 25, 2010, 1:02 AM
In the history of MtG in a multiplayer context, there are ten commons that stand head-and-shoulders above the rest - and they are all from a single block and make up a single cycle. Figured it out? I speak of the amazingly wonderful Ravnica block "bounce duals", aka the "Ravnica Karoos". As soon as I laid eyes on these cards at the Ravnica pre-release, I basically went completely berserk (fortunately I didn't get destroyed at end of turn) and made the statement immediately that "these are better than any duals printed except the alpha originals, and I value these as rares." Time has shown that, if anything, I underestimated them - as a general rule, I PREFER these bounce-duals to the original dual lands and believe that in multiplayer, they are generally "just better". In fact, at the risk of sounding hyperbolic, I believe these are even better than the mox cycle - in the context of multiplayer magic.
What exactly makes these cards so insanely great? To begin with, I've always been a fan of any land that can produce multiple mana - from Ancient Tomb to Temple of the False Dog. Multiplayer games usually ramp up to lots of mana in play, and any land that taps for two means that you can achieve plentiful mana with fewer deck slots. A deck with 24 land, 4 of which are ravnica bounce duals, will end up producing the same amount of mana as a 28 land deck. In the context of a long game, these lands do NOT even slow you down - because in general you do not make a land drop every turn once you pass the midgame, so the replay of the bounced land can generally take place on a turn on which you would have otherwise made no land drop at all. This is a somewhat subtle point, but it is key to the power of these lands. Once you get past turn 7 or 8, a deck using these lands will have the same amount of mana in play as a deck with a higher land ratio, and will have drawn more active cards.
The easiest way to think of it is to regard these lands as CANTRIP DUAL-LANDS. In other words, a land that taps for multicolor, and ALSO draws you a card when it comes into play! Once you start thinking in these terms, you see why they have such immense hidden value. Multilands are inherently good, and card drawing is good, and getting both on the same card with merely the standard CIP-tapped drawback is incredible. Remember, the bounce is a BENEFIT, not a drawback!
In addition to being great purely for their basic functionality, they are also incredibly synergetic cards. It is hardly necessary to point out how good they are in combination with Gemstone Mine, Vivid lands, or any of the numerous CIP-effect lands from Zendikar block. Halimar Depths, anyone? Another bonus is the ability to get a 'free discard' for use in a reanimation or dredge deck. Beware the player who plays a second-turn Golgari Rot Farm and says "aw, shucks, looks like I have to discard" and drops a huge fatty in the yard!
To top it all off, the cycle (being from Ravnica block) includes a land for all the guilds - all ten possible color pairs. Without a doubt, I believe this cycle to be the most useful and powerful group of common cards ever printed in the context of multiplayer magic of all varieties.
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Wednesday, March 31, 2010, 10:21 PM
The Monday Night Magic play group began in early 1999, shortly after the release of Urza's Legacy. A few months before, my girlfriend at the time had acquired a large box of old revised commons and learned the game. After a few weeks of wondering what the heck she was so obsessed with, I learned myself, and thus began the typical voyage of a beginning Planeswalker. Urza's Legacy was the first set I was aware of the release of, and I bought a box. I'd also bought some 5th edition (worst base set ever, in retrospect) and was starting to notice I had a few more cards than could conveniently fit in a single box. Hence, the classic solution - build some decks from commons and teach your friends to play! I took a pair of decks I made over to a friend's house, and taught him and his girlfriend. They took to the game, and apparently spent all night that night playing the two decks against each other. A bit later, we taught his roommate, and thus began the Monday night tradition.
Over the following 11 years, our play location has shifted several times, and the cast of characters has gone through many changes. The game itself has seen a lot of changes. When we started, damage didn't go on the stack, and a Mogg Fantastic could either deal combat damage, or sac for a point, but not both. That changed early on - and now its changed back. What block has had the overall largest impact on multiplayer? Mirrodin, without a doubt. The incredibly powerful artifact based strategies it enabled shifted the metagame like nothing before or since, and cards like Mind's Eye, Darksteel Colossus, Tooth and Nail, Mindslaver, and many more, remain feared and notorious.
Monday Night Magic is going strong - like the game itself currently. We play a lot of five points currently, and had a fun recent Zendikar-Woldwake sealed event played out as duels for variety. The Eldrazi look like they are going to be pretty important cards in multiplayer - anything huge and devastating is at its best in a format where the large mana spells run wild.
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Monday, February 8, 2010, 11:28 PM
As it should be (and is) every Monday evening - multiplayer magic. I'll post about one game in particular - which I happened to win. Mostly this is a post about a deck that has been a lot of fun for me - Sneaky Magus. A fan favorite semi-broken card from day 1, Sneak Attack is an Urza's Saga rare that is just a bit too good. Even if you don't manage a one-hit will with Serra Avatar (the dream combo back in the day) there are tons of great tricks. In the five points game I won, it went about like this: land, land, mana artifact, land + sneak attack, and then unleash a barrage of fatties with sneak attack, and use a couple tricks to keep refilling my hand, such as the dragon that triggers wheel of fortune effect on combat damage. My final winning attack about two turns after sneak attack hit the board was a Hellkite Overlord , a Devouring Strossus , a Charnelhoard Wurm , two Liege of the Pit , and six 1/1 tokens. I was able to sneak all that in because of Magus of the Jar , who is just INSANELY BROKEN when you get the effect for just one red mana as an instant! That is one of two Magii that give the deck its name, the other being - wait for it - Magus of the Mirror . Since the deck has no defense pre sneak, you are likely to take some hits and get put down to a low life without dishing anything out - but assuming you get to untap with Sneak in play, you can sneak the mirror magus into play in your upkeep and turn the tables. (It wasn't tonight, but I did pull that off against a deck that had gained itself up to 40+ life when I was down in single digits.)
Anyway, Sneak Magus looks about like this:
a few other tricky guys like Arcanis the Omnipotent (Ancestral Recall for a red mana!)
a bunch of fun but uncastable fatties like Devouring Strossus
Ironically, in the 5-points game my Sneaky Magus deck won, another play was ALSO playing a Sneak Attack deck! However, one of their opponents was ready with an Oblivion Ring for it, and so I was the one who was able to run away with it. The moral of the story: better lucky than good, of course.
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Monday, August 31, 2009, 11:48 PM
Just finished up another great session of Monday night Multiplayer. After almost a decade of fun, I've decided to take some notes on our games and share the excitement. The first game of the evening we decided to try to play a quick 5-points (star) format with no deck/color restrictions. My opponents were Karl playing Naya Beatdown and O.P playing a Boros-colored deck of mine, while my non-opponents were Nicky playing White-Green and Zach also in Naya colors. The game started with Karl's Naya deck fast out of the gate with a pair of Woolly Thoctars, which did some early damage. however, when O.P. slapped down a pair of Sulfur Elementals, the small white creatures all died and the large white creatures lost their defensive strength, and the game slowed down a bit. I was playing a new Izzet colored deck which wanted to ramp up artifact mana then go for a series of extra turns with Twincast/Reiterate/Mirari type effects on Walk the Aeons, and finish with Fanning the Flames. I managed to take a few extra turns but stalled out and got knocked down to single digit life. Then I got lucky - my opponents both got knocked down a bit and I was able to just Twincast a huge Fanning the Flames to take them both out when they were both at exactly 10 life. After the game there were some recriminations, but I reminded everyone that we were playing for fun and we could all take satisfaction in my glorious victory.
For the next game we did Generals/Emperor and I was a wingman with O.P. as general and Brett as the other wingman. Our opponents had Zach as general with Nicky as the wingman facing me down and Karl matched up against Brett. Let's just say this matchup was pretty brutal, and we got STOMPED. I was playing White Weenie with every good 2cc knight and Aether Vial and some equipment - basically, the classic Wimps with Swords design. However, Nicky's green/red beatdown deck with Giantbaiting basically annihilated me, backed up by some removal spells from Zach's Izzet deck. The final backbreaker was when O.P's attempt to Reins of Power Karl's creatures to block Nicky's attack got Draining Whelked by Zach. Ouch. Some games, nothing works. We conceded soon after.
We rolled for partners for three teams of two nexxt, and I got paired up with Zach, O.P with Brett, and Karl with Nicky. At the start of this round, some insanely delicious fudge brownies were unleashed on the table and we all took about 5 points of chocolate damage. This game turned out to be completely dominated by one card - Lurking Predators. O.P. got this out, nobody had a disenchant it seemed, and for the rest of the game, everything we did gave him free cards like, say, Sphinx of the Steel Wind (he got that one off of Karl's Noggle Bandit) and Mindleech Mas. Since my deck was 'Izzet Ping' which tries to use multiple tiny spells to repeatedly untap Gelectrode or pump Wee Dragonauts...I was badly positioned. The details boiled down to: the entire table helps O.P. pump out a gigantic army of fatties via Lurking Predators. He crushes everyone. The only consolation was killing Brett with the Gelectrode - but since he was on O.P's team, the creatures that came out for free ultimately only hastened his team's victory.
For our final game, we decided to take my Type IV stack for a spin, with everyone getting a random chunk of 40 cards and drawing 5. Each player is allowed to play at most one spell one each player's turn, and is regarded to have an unlimited quantity of each basic land in play always. One gutsy play happened fast - on his first turn, Zach dropped Eater of Days to skip his next two turns! Of course, right before he was finally going to get to take his turn, Nicky dropped Gauntlets of Chaos and traded a smaller creature for it. Karl was very strong early, with a Lightning Greaves and later a Heartseeker for equipment. Heartseeker is an example of a card that is awkward in regular formats but fun, fair, and powerful in Type IV. However, Karl's advantage got eliminated when Nicky cast Warp World. He ended up with an Aku Djinn in play afterwards that ended up helping all the opponents. The next few turns saw O.P. kill several players in a row with reverse damage type effects, of which he had somehow drawn a mittful! He had Mirror Strike on Nicky's djinn-pumped Thieving Magpie, Boros Fury-Shield on my Capricious Efreet, and even Eye for an Eye on Karl's Aboroth! However, it wasn't quite enough, and Zach's Moroii ended up finishing the game and leaving Zach as victor.
Thanks as always to all participants for another great night of Magical Cards.
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Monday, August 31, 2009, 5:11 AM
When my Monday Night Magic play group got started back when Urza's Legacy was released, there weren't any official multiplayer rules. We developed our own set of rules and conventions that served us well. When the official multiplayer rules came out, they were mostly similar, and we began following them, for the most part. We remained slightly confused about the rules for permanents controlled by non-owners, but we finally straightened that out recently.
There is one player-death related rule however that we have deliberately kept our earlier house rule in deliberate contradiction to the official multiplayer rules. Our house rule, which we believe is VERY important and very fair, is this:
"Once a spell has been put on the stack, it will still resolve (unless countered) even if the player who cast it is killed in response."
In the official multiplayer rules, killing a player acts as a counterspell against spells they have placed on the stack. Why do we handle this differently? Several reasons:
1) Multiplayer ALREADY favors the 'reactive' player, and allowing player kill to act as a counterspell increases this advantage.
2) It forms a powerful disincentive to being the aggressor to know that you may invest huge resources in a game-winning effect, and if you are killed, you don't even have the satisfaction of seeing it resolve. Again, multiplayer needs incentives towards aggression.
3) A classic principle of the magic rules has always been: "destroying the source of an ability doesn't counter the ability once its been played" - and we believe that the SPIRIT of this classic principle of the magic rules is embodied by our decision to allow stacked spells to resolve even if the player casting them is killed in response. Just as killing a Royal Assasin AFTER it taps to kill another creature doesn't prevent the assassination, so should it be with player removal.
4) The idea of the planeswalker/wizard firing off their spell, and the magic leaving their fingertips, and then being killed, and as their dying breath expires, they see their final spell land - its just very flavorful and fun and creates good and memorable play experiences.
Anyway, we've been playing with the rule that you can kill the guy who's casting Drain Life in response - and he'll be dead - but his corpse's drain life will still hit you - for ten years, and we like it this way.
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Saturday, August 29, 2009, 4:27 PM
Multiplayer is where you can let your inner Timmy out - and he even gets to win, sometimes! However, Timmy being Timmy wants to cast his big spells NOW, rather than waiting around, and seven mana seems like a long way away...the answer? Eat a power pellet! The king in this category is Dan - Dan Thrynamo, also known as Thran Dynamo. It costs 4, it taps for 3, it comes into play untapped, and it has no downsides. This card, by the way, is way "over the line" by current standards for mana acceleration - Green is supposed to have the best acceleration, but it wouldn't get 'put three untapped forests into play' for four mana. Things were pretty wild back in Urza's Block, which brings us to another outstanding artifact, the Worn Powerstone. Just like Dan, the Wowerstone is all-upside. It comes out a turn faster, but comes into play tapped - regardless, it is also not reprintable due to a power level that is faster than green's land farming spells. Dropping down to the 2 cc level, there are nearly infinite options, such as Mind Stone, the Ravnica block signets, and multiplayer favorite Fellwar Stone.
Remember that these artifacts do have a casting cost so they can't replace the landbase in your deck - they need to be added to it. Dan Thrynamo is four to cast, so you still need the same base of about 24 lands to get there. This pushes your deck to make sure that you have both powerful effects, and card drawing/cycling to push you through the inevitable land gluts of a 50% mana deck. Let's make a quick multiplayer type 1 turbo-dragon deck to see how this can play out:
1 Sol Ring
This deck is a lot of fun to play, but if your multiplayer group is like most, you won't win much - you will just be way, way, WAY too threatening, and the table will gang up to kill you. You will probably be able to kill at least one person though before that happens, and having a Keiga or Ryusei out with Fling available allows you to pull some pretty amazing instant speed tricks.
Notice that you have basically no answers to control/prison/reactive decks - so you need to mount a maximum attack on any player with that style of deck as a first priority. Creature swarm/fatty decks are usually your prey due to your Kamigawa dragons, so leave them for last. "In response to Overrun, Fling Ryusei at your dome, you take 5, your guys die before overrun resolves."
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