"What Color Are You"
Valentine's Day Edition
we begin, there is something I would like to point out.
You will note that the title of the column you are
currently reading is "Random Beatings."
to allow those who accidentally came to the wrong page
to hit their Back button.]
any rate, this title should clue you in to the fact that
the babbling you'll read in this space every week will
be mainly devoted to the following two concepts:
concept of "randomness" is probably an easy
one to understand, as most of the word's dictionary
definition carries over well into the context of Magic.
The idea of beatings, however, often seems a bit harder
to describe to someone who hasn't truly experienced
them. Simply put, in the way that will probably cause
the least confusion, a beating is something which is so
incredibly cool that most other adjectives fail to
adequately communicate its coolness. A beating can be a
card, it can be a play, it can be a deck. Outside of
Magic, a beating can be a restaurant, a car, a book--
heck, a beating can be anything. The concept of beatings
transcends human perceptions of space and time. Beatings
are truly universal.
opposite of a beating is an anti-beating, a concept more
often expressed by using the phrase "not a
beating." When it's 11:45 PM, and you're running
low on caffeine, and you randomly side in Carpet of
Flowers against Trinity Green because you can't be
bothered to pay attention to what you're doing*-- that's
"not a beating." Beatings and anti-beatings
often tend to come in pairs.
more examples of beatings and their corresponding
Giant: Not a beating.
+ Troublesome Spirit combo: Not a beating.
Overrun and then attacking with an army of Saprolings
for "a lot": Beating.
the guy on the other side of the table: Not a beating.
you're new and don't know half (or any) of the cards I
just referred to, never fear. If you stay in this game
for any reasonable length of time, you will become
familiar with all of them and will no doubt encounter
each of them in play at least once.
there a point I was trying to make when I first started
on this long, rambling discourse about the nature of
any rate, as the title suggests, you'll generally be
subjected each week to whatever randomness happens to be
percolating through my mind at the exact moment I sit
down to write my article. I hope you'll find it
entertaining. But for the first few weeks, and perhaps
intermittently as time goes on, I'm going to have a more
focused goal in mind. Namely, helping out that portion
of my audience who are struggling to make the transition
from Pokemon to Magic. My thoughts will still be
significantly random-- I couldn't avoid that if I
tried-- but hopefully there will be a method to the
do us both a favor before you start reading this, and
make sure that you understand the basic principles of
Magic. By which I mean, you should have some awareness
of the various types of cards, you should understand
what goes on during a typical turn and during combat,
and other such basic stuff. There are jillions of
tutorials scattered far and wide across the Internet to
deal with this, and if I stop to cover it, I accomplish
nothing except boring myself and half my audience to
tears. I refuse to do that.
is color so important?
some people, identifying themselves with a certain color
or colors helps to increase the illusion that they are
part of a magical war between the elements. That is,
after all, what it seems Magic should be about-- fantasy
and legend made real, or at least as real as they can be
when expressed in the form of a stack of cardboard
rectangles. If you want a game of pure strategy and
mental challenge, where the pieces mean nothing beyond
their abilities, go play chess. Why do you think the
cards have artwork and flavor text, anyway?
a more utilitarian level, it seems to be an accepted
fact that many, if not most, players have one or more
colors that they are "best" at. Something in
the mechanics, cards, or general strengths of these
color(s) seems to mesh with their playing style, with
the result that the player seems to enjoy above-normal
success when playing the colors in question (and,
conversely, may do poorly if they attempt to play a
color with which they are not proficient.) Sometimes the
question of which color is "best" seem to be
determined through a natural tendency or affinity; other
times a person's best color is decided by playing one
color or one for such a long period of time that their
playing style adapts to it.
me, personally, there has been little doubt as to what
my best color is. It can only be red. The story of how I
became attached to this particular color is a fairly
typical one: I was attracted to one card in particular
(in this case, Jackal Pup) and built a deck to house it.
Since then, my successful real-life decks have almost
always included red in some way, shape or form. The only
time I have played seriously without using red was in
the summer and early fall of 2000, when I played Blue.
At the time, the Urza Block was still part of Standard,
and it seemed to me that I lacked the resources to make
a viable red deck, so I opted to play blue instead. Most
of my resources up until that point had been devoted to
assembling decks for casual play, so when it became
apparent that my initial experiments with Rebels were
not paying off, I needed to fill the gap with something
relatively cheap and easy to assemble. I ended up with a
sort of Blue Skies variant that was decent enough for my
purposes and, with the addition of a sideboard filled
with more hate than a Middle East peace conference,
accomplished my intended goal of pounding Replenish into
the ground. Since the glorious event that was the
arrival of Invasion, every deck I have played with has
had a significant red component.
just as I have one color that I identify with more
strongly and feel more comfortable with than any other,
there is also one color in particular that I have
learned to avoid at all costs. This color, as it turns
out, is white. White is more than just a little
unfriendly to me. White hates my guts, to put it
bluntly. There are very rare occasions under which I can
play white and not screw up-- playing a netdeck, for
example, or splashing white into a predominantly
non-white deck for some utility or removal spell-- but
such efforts are typically not worth the strain they put
on my play. Like my affinity for red, my aversion to
white was discovered through experience. When I first
ventured into the world of Type 2 play and was at a loss
for an easy-to-assemble deck, Rebels seemed like a
natural choice. I had been buying significant amounts of
Mercadian Masques, more than any other set, and had
quite a few of the common Rebels in supply. Silly me, of
course, had forgotten that Spike and religious fanatics
do NOT mix--
not even when said religious fanatics are
two-dimensional images on the front of gaming cards.
After getting drubbed a few times, it dawned on me that
I wasn't playing the deck very well, that I couldn't
play the deck very well. I put the plains away. Now and
then I try to make a deck with some white component, but
these experiments invariably remind me that I am a
creature of chaos and should not look to the color of
law, order, and smug self-righteousness for my strength.
note-- I have not absolutely said that I cannot
play any color except red, or any deck without a strong
red component, and be successful. I have simply said
that my performance when doing so tends to be suboptimal.
Playing red would probably make me feel more
comfortable, improve my play, and help me have more fun
to boot. In light of these facts, my playing a deck
without red seems downright silly unless there is some
special circumstance to be dealt with.
not just me, either. In the time I have spent attending
tournaments in one particular location, I have noticed
the exact same trend among the regulars there. People
may shift between aggressive and control styles, they
may add or drop other colors, but they always seem to
stay with one particular color or style that forms a
common thread through most of the decks they are
successful with. They may occasionally branch out, but
these experiments are rarely successful. The exceptions
to the rule seem to be one or two players who have no
one color allegiance, but just play whatever decks they
think are supposed to be the best for the format in
question. They often do well, but they never quite seem
to win, and I've noticed that they never seem to be
having any fun. One wonders at their motivation in
continuing to play. It's beyond me, so I'll leave it and
go on to the real question.
that point in the article where I have to prove that the
last three pages of rambling have actually had some
substance and haven't just been a colossal waste of your
time. What does all this mean to you?
as a beginner in the game, it means that you should
obviously try to find "your" color at some
point. It doesn't have to be right away-- you can switch
colors at any point during your Magic
"career", and no one will run up and slap you
with a frozen fish-- but if there's a color or colors
that you feel drawn to in particular, you might as well
start trying to play them as much as possible. On a
practical level, focusing your efforts on one or two
colors will maximize your efforts and increase the speed
with which you can assemble a solid deck. When you open
a pack, you'll already know which color you are looking
for, and if you've done your homework, you'll also
probably know which cards in that color are worth giving
a second glance. The rest of the cards in the pack
become either trade fodder or collection material,
depending on how good they are. In the beginning, I
recommend only throwing away the completely useless
cards (and only if you're certain you can tell the
completely useless cards) since it is almost never to
your detriment to have a collection of good cards of
every color. I will probably never play a Stompy variant
in any format, and as previously mentioned, I avoid
playing white, but if I needed four Giant Growths or
four Disenchants, I could find them with a few minutes'
search through my boxes. It is never a disadvantage to
have good staple cards, no matter what the color, so
always hang on to your cards.
you begin to grow more experienced in the world of
Magic, having your own color will take on different
aspects. When you are looking for something to play, you
will probably have a good idea of what to start out
with, which will lead to that much less time being
wasted in experimenting with decks from every color of
the rainbow. When a new format is coming up and you need
inspiration, you will already have eliminated as much as
four-fifths of the potential card pool with which to
start brainstorming-- again, leading to much less hassle
and confusion. Your decks will not always be mono-color
(and, in the current Type 2, they probably shouldn't be)
but having a familiar place to start working will always
be to your advantage. And that, boys and girls, is what
having "your" color is really all about.
to see a fair amount of decklists from me. I love to
just look through my boxes of cards, or open
Apprentice's deck editor, and just throw something
together. Once I've thrown said thing together, I often
can't resist the impulse to share it with others, and
this column gives me one more medium in which to do so.
Always take my creations with a grain of salt-- they're
not likely to be very well tuned, unless I indicate
otherwise-- but I hope you'll find them to be something
more than just a waste of space.
week's deck first came about when I realized that this
column would be published on February 14th,
Valentine's Day. I got the idea to make up some sort of
a theme deck for the occasion. Maybe red and white for
the colors, including whatever love-related cards I
could come up with.
I got to thinking.
is Valentine's Day as we know it really about? Is it
truly about the ideals of love and affection?
Valentine's Day is about is the twisted, commercialized,
stereotyped version of love that our society feeds us at
every possible turn. It's a crass ritual that seemingly
revolves around the expenditure of large amounts of
money and the exchange of physical goods.
you truly love someone, do you really express it on only
one day of the year? Do you really need an entire day
officially devoted to love so you can let your SO know
how much you care about them? As far as I can tell, you
shouldn't-- unless you're worried that they'll have
forgotten about it because you treat them like crap the
other 364 days of the year.
if, God forbid, you don't HAVE anyone to share this
"special" day with-- or if the person you'd
spend it with is far away and you haven't any way of
getting in touch with them-- then you can just forget
it. The rest of the world is too busy spending large
amounts of money on each other. They don't need you.
would have put Treachery in, and maybe a couple of other
cards as well, but I wanted to keep it T2 legal.
Not that I would know from personal experience, of