h1, h2, h3, h4, h5, h6 { font-weight: bold !important; }

«

»

May 05 2014

Multiplayer Madness I – The New Guy

Hello everybody!

I am Kuchisama, and since you can’t have heard of me before, I’ll use this article to introduce myself and to talk a bit about what you can expect from me in the future. Well, I am currently 33 years old, live in Bonn, the former capital of Germany, and earn my money as a professional translator.

I was introduced to Magic in the mid-nineties by a classmate who asked me if I would like to accompany him into town where he wanted to buy a single trading card. So we took the next train and went to that shop I had never seen before (and never will again as they closed down their business years ago). Upon entering, I couldn’t believe my eyes: books, comics, board games, card games, action figures etc. They had it all. I was convinced that I, a boy of perhaps thirteen or fourteen years, had discovered paradise.

While I was still standing at the threshold, dumbfounded, my classmate had already crossed over to the counter and was now talking to the owner of the shop. When he came back to me, his eyes were gleaming and he was smiling broadly, telling me that the trip had been totally worth it. When he started talking about the card he had just purchased, I quickly interrupted him as there was only one question that really interested me at that point.

“How much?” I asked.

“Twenty Deutsche Marks.”

Now, back then we didn’t have euros yet and twenty Deutsche Marks roughly equaled 10 euros, which is something around 13 US dollars. For me, that was a lot. More than half of my pocket money!

The card, you ask?

[card]Nightmare[/card]

Yeah, I know, hard to believe, but we have come a long way since then.

Casual Magic MTG Ornithopter with VenomMy very first game of Magic: The Gathering followed soon after. In the years to come, we would manage the most awe-inspiring feats, such as enchanting an [card]Ornithopter[/card] (yup, we played that card in regular decks; hey, it cost 0 mana!) with [card]Venom[/card] and then actually attacking with it. Turns out that your opponent just doesn’t have to block a 0/2 creature if they want to keep their own creatures…
[card]Scaled Wurm[/card] was the horror of those early days, and [card]Wrath of God[/card] was total crap. I mean seriously, why would I ever want to destroy my own creatures?!

It was a good time but I do not have all that many memories from back then when it comes to Magic. For me, it all really began years later, with Invasion block. I remember buying tournament pack after tournament pack just to get all five of the legendary Dragons. Since then, I have been an absolute multicolor fan. Imagine my joy when Wizards announced Ravnica!

Well, and apart from multicolor cards? What are my general preferences?

I’m a multiplayer enthusiast. That doesn’t mean I don’t like 1on1 but for me, multiplayer games tend to be more fun because of all those things happening. Every Tuesday, I get together with a few friends of mine (usually, we’re four, with the occasional guest player showing up) to sling cards, order pizza and just have a good time overall. We are casual players at heart, meaning that we play lots of different formats, such as Free-for-All, Star, 2HG, Hidden Alliances, Planechase, Commander or even Archenemy. Our decks cover the whole range: from generic Soldier tribal decks and extremely fun piles of good-stuff to evil control concoctions with only two win cons and lots of removal. Sometimes, a player’s more competitive side shows itself and he brings something more sinister to the table, so that even the hated Splinter Twin combo reared its ugly head a few times. It has since been replaced by the even more annoying TurboFog beast that we have all come to hate in very short time. Well, all but the respective player whose deck it is…

With regard to my future articles here at MTG Casual Play, multiplayer is what I’m going to talk about. I have some ideas and topics I would like to discuss as well as lots of different decks to show you, hoping that I can inspire you to perhaps use a wider range of cards, to build more decks and to have even more fun playing Magic: The Gathering. Ours is a very cool game – let’s keep it that way!

As a special treat for today, I have decided to put together my very own FtV-set (completely fictional, of course). Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I proudly present From the Vault: Kuchisama! It includes the following 15 cards selected by yours truly (sadly, no alternate artworks, and also no foils as I really can’t stand that shiny stuff):

From the Vault – Kuchisama

  1. [card]Sliver Queen[/card]
  2. [card]Solemn Simulacrum[/card]
  3. [card]Magister Sphinx[/card]
  4. [card]Honden of Seeing Winds[/card]
  5. [card]Karador, Ghost Chieftain[/card]
  6. [card]Flametongue Kavu[/card]
  7. [card]Blasphemous Act[/card]
  8. [card]Capsize[/card]
  9. [card]Cream of the Crop[/card]
  10. [card]Day of Judgment[/card]
  11. [card]Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker[/card]
  12. [card]Wall of Omens[/card]
  13. [card]Luminate Primordial[/card]
  14. [card]Heretic’s Punishment[/card]
  15. [card]Gray Merchant of Asphodel[/card]

Ha, you may now think that this is a list of cards I love but you would be mistaken. Well, at least in some cases…
Let me try to explain each inclusion while at the same time allowing you a little bit of insight into my experiences and card preferences.

From the Vault Mago - Sliver Queen[card]Sliver Queen[/card] – The Queen is at the helm of my current favorite Commander deck. Basically, that deck is just a pile of cards I really enjoy playing, with a few synergies here and there but nothing too complicated. However, when you play a deck like this, a deck chockfull of cards you really love to play, almost every draw step feels like Christmas! This is almost pure goodstuff, but hey, nothing is more casual than goodstuff, right? And I know you’ve always dreamed of destroying three of your opponents’ permanents with [card]Violent Ultimatum[/card] before running them over with a horde of gigantic Sliver tokens courtesy of [card]Titanic Ultimatum[/card] – in the same turn!

[card]Solemn Simulacrum[/card] – If I had to pick my all-time favorite Magic card, this would probably be it. As far as I know, I currently own 24 copies of it and none of them ever stay in the binder for long. My love for this card has actually driven me to the decision to never put it in a deck that has Green in it as I feel I should play alternatives at least sometimes. It’s nothing spectacular, but the Simulacrum makes your deck run smoothly like not many other cards do.

[card]Magister Sphinx[/card] – Ah yes, Two-Punch Steve if I recall Wizard’s playtest name for this card correctly. I understand that many a player does not like it (especially in Commander where it works differently than intended by not halving but even quartering a player’s life total) but to me, it’s one of the best creatures ever printed. Not only is it a very good win condition in its own right, but it also provides you with hilarious faces when you manage to kill somebody with this and [card]Hidetsugu’s Second Rite[/card].

[card]Honden of Seeing Winds[/card] – I’m not sure why I’m not seeing more of this card. It’s a [card]Phyrexian Arena[/card] without the life loss drawback; what’s not to like? The mana cost? Well, as I see it, this actually works to the Honden’s advantage. People look at it and forget it. It just seems so innocuous, and there is always more dangerous stuff around that has to go first: [card]Mana Reflection[/card], [card]Debtors’ Knell[/card], [card]Future Sight[/card] etc. And all the while, our little Shrine here keeps drawing us card after card after card. I like it.

Karador, Ghost Chieftain EDH Graveyard Recursion[card]Karador, Ghost Chieftain[/card] – Karador makes me sad. He used to be my favorite Commander (and perhaps still is) as I am a big fan of using the graveyard as a resource. My Karador deck isn’t even that recursion-centric even though I play [card]Hermit Druid[/card] (but also a rather large number of basic lands), [card]Greater Good[/card] and their ilk, but nowadays there is just so much graveyard hate around even in my little playgroup that I haven’t played the Centaur Spirit in a long while. That’s just sad. It’s an example of not being able to play a deck due to stupid foresight and metagaming on your friends’ part. Bah. Other people really shouldn’t do that…

[card]Flametongue Kavu[/card] – For a very long time, this was my favorite creature because it combines an aggressive body with a powerful ability. It’s better in 1on1 though, even though you’ll almost never lack a target in multiplayer. This card made me appreciate the value of ETB effects. It also reminds me of my first negative ebay experience: I ordered a playset of Planeshift FtKs and received four stupid gold-bordered ones from a Championship deck. Just great.

 

[card]Blasphemous Act[/card] – This is a fantastic spell in multiplayer. It’s great even without [card]Stuffy Doll[/card] or [card]Boros Reckoner[/card]. You don’t believe me? Then tell me how often you have cast it for more than one mana. How often for more than four? Thought so. [card]Blasphemous Act[/card] is so good at wiping the board at a very low cost that it always makes me feel a little sad if I can’t follow up with a big threat in the same turn.

[card]Capsize[/card] – HATE IT! HATE IT! HATE IT! HATE IT! HATE IT! HATE IT! HATE IT! HATE IT! HATE IT!
Seriously, if evil has a face, it probably looks like [card]Capsize[/card]. It’s not that I think the card is unfair – it’s not, especially with such a high mana cost if you cast it with buyback. And I can certainly see Blue’s need for it, too. Still, no other card manages to so completely ruin the fun for me in any given game as the first “buybacked” [card]Capsize[/card]. Everything seems pointless all of a sudden and people start stockpiling cards in their hands instead of casting them. This card is a perfect tool if you want to bring the game to a standstill. If you prefer your games to be fun for everybody, replace it with something else.

[card]Cream of the Crop[/card] – In my opinion, this is the perfect example of a card that stays completely under the radar at first, then makes you easily win two games in a row. Now my playgroup kills it on sight whenever they can. Even though it’s no [card]Sylvan Library[/card], it can be close if you put it into the right deck. One of my pet decks is built around [card]Impromptu Raid[/card] and uses [card]Cream of the Crop[/card] to great effect.

[card]Day of Judgment[/card] – What exactly makes [card]Day of Judgment[/card] special? Right, nothing. It’s unconditional mass removal that should wipe out most of the board. So why have I put it into my personal FtV set? Because it’s the perfect card for players with a tight budget. It does what it says it does, nothing more, nothing less. Sure, there are cards that are clearly better, such as [card]Wrath of God[/card] (unless you play a deck full of regenerating creatures), [card]Rout[/card] (instant speed) or [card]Austere Command[/card] (awesome flexibility). Day’s obvious advantage here is the price tag. Even with an almost empty purse, you can afford a playset. In multiplayer, you’d better get your defenses up fast, and [card]Day of Judgment[/card] allows every player to do so.

MTG Mago From the Vault Nicol Bolas[card]Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker[/card] – I really like planeswalkers. In my opinion, most of them are well-balanced and provide the one who employs their services as well as the opponents with interesting choices and challenges. The problems most ‘walkers have is that they do not convert as well to multiplayer as one would wish. With more than one player actively trying to rid the board of their presence, their lifespan tends to be rather short. Ol’ Bolas here, however, is one of the exceptions. He is immensely powerful and can take over any game the turn he enters the battlefield. He is in my [card]Sliver Queen[/card] Commander deck and has yet to disappoint me.

[card]Wall of Omens[/card] – When I started playing Magic, my first attempts at building decks made heavy use of Green because that’s where the big beasties were. However, I soon found myself gravitating towards White as it was better suited to my style of play, which tends to be on the controlling side. However, as the control player, you need to be able to draw answers, and one thing White is very bad at is card draw. White actually really sucks in this section and is clearly the worst color here. So when Wizards went and colorshifted [card]Wall of Blossoms[/card] to White, I became a very happy panda. The card is early defense that also furthers your own game plan a bit, making it quite good in my books. I would definitely click the Like-button if it had one.

[card]Luminate Primordial[/card] – This on the other hand has been nothing but a disappointment. It looks so cool and powerful in theory, but for some reason it has always failed to impress me. Even in formats where it should be better, such as 2HG or Archenemy (on the Archenemy’s side, of course), I constantly found myself wishing I had drawn something else whenever it found its way into my hand. And yeah, you’re right, that’s not a good sign. I have had a lot of fun with all of the other Primordials but this one could never live up to my expectations. It’s in this list as a representative for all those other cards out there that are looking cool in theory, making you order a playset to put into your decks, and then turn out to be much weaker than you thought. I mean seriously, a [card]Swords to Plowshares[/card] for each opponent in addition to a large body can’t be bad, can it?

[card]Heretic’s Punishment[/card] – Do you know this: You see a card, think it’s quite interesting, purchase a playset, sit down to build a deck around it – and it just doesn’t come together? It doesn’t matter what you do, what you try, for some reason you can never finish the deck, let alone play it. I picked this card for “From the Vault: Kuchisama” because it’s the embodiment of my failing to build a deck around a card I like. I’ve tried numerous times but it simply keeps eluding me. Of course, you can always just put it into a deck to provide some sort of inevitability, but I want it it to be more! I want it to be the key card of the deck – even though I have to admit it probably just isn’t key card material. For one, it’s quite expensive, coming down on turn five and taking until turn six to do something. And then you’re not even guaranteed success. But damn it, I would love to combine it with [card]Gisela, Blade of Goldnight[/card] and [card]Unburial Rites[/card]. One day, people, one day…

[card]Gray Merchant of Asphodel[/card] – I have a question here: How could they ever print this at common?!
Nonetheless, in a world where Mythics and Rares reign supreme, it’s nice to see the occasional common that is not only utility but can win games.

 

Okay, people, that was From the Vault: Kuchisama! Did you like it? How about developing your own FtV? What would it look like? Let me know in the comments!

Alright, this is it for today. I hope you enjoyed it!

Cheers!

Kuchisama

2 comments

  1. Wally D.

    Great first article! I do have a question for you though… I recognized all of your MultiPlayer formats except for “Hidden Alliances”. Curious to know a little bit more about this one!

    1. Kuchisama

      Thanks! Glad you liked it!
      “Hidden Alliances” works a bit like “Bang!”. You need an odd number of players. Let’s say 5 for this example. Each of these players is now assigned a predefined role in secret (for example by handing out marks): 2 Kings, 2 Knights, 1 Traitor. Each King has one of the Knights supporting them (say Team White and Team Black), but the Kings are the only ones to reveal their roles, the others stay secret. That way, each Knight knows who their King is so they can protect them. The Kings are quite aloof though, and do not really care about the identities of their subjects, so at first, they don’t know who’s on their side but must find out via correct deductions during the game since players are not allowed to reveal their roles until they die. A King and their respective Knight win the game if the other King and their Knight have been defeated, the Traitor wins if they are the only player left (so it’s definitely the hardest role).
      The format can provide absolutely hilarious situations. We had one game where one Knight killed his own King so that the other King thought he was on the same team and actually took out his Knight! The pretender then swooped in for the kill, easily winning that game.
      The format may not be everybody’s cup of tea but it surely shakes things up a bit.

Leave a Reply