working retail right before Christmas.
What could be more fun (or leave more time for
writing a column) than working a 9 hour shift every day?
my last article I promised to write on the subject of
I received 3 suggestions for the first portion of
this article, and a solitary suggestion for an alternate
format to review.
Here it goes!
first suggestion was that I discuss some decks for
Although my definition of an alternate format
would include Peasant Magic so that should fall under my
"expertise", I've never reviewed the format,
and I feel that the Pojo's Peasant Magic section would
do a much better job of tutoring in this area than I
You can find it at: http://www.pojo.com/magic/PeasantMagic/index.html
next I'll deal with was a recommendation to review the
"vampires of Magic".
He claimed that they have been quite powerful,
and the new (powerful) ones should spark newer Magic
players' interest in vampires.
Well, first let's list them all alphabetically.
Vampire – Portal
is a relative term, but I'm pretty sure Repentant
Vampire and Stalking Bloodsucker qualify.
I hate to do this, but I have to wholeheartedly
disagree with he who suggested this.
They are not that powerful, and most have gone
all but unnoticed.
Arrogant, Krovikan, and Sengir Vampires are
They're good enough to play in some decks in some
The rest are sub-par.
I'm sorry, bud.
don't believe there's enough interest for me to go too
far in-depth on this.
If I'm wrong, email me. (firstname.lastname@example.org).
If there's a large response, I might do an entire
article on the subject.
That would be a bit odd, though, wouldn't it?
An article on a creature type.
Anyhow, to overuse a phrase that seems cliché to
those who read my articles, moving on…
last suggestion actually came from someone I met in high
He asked me to use his name, and I told him I'd
call him Mr. Sillyputty.
Joseph Griffin suggested I discuss how Magic has
been different in the different places I've played.
has always been interesting to me how Magic groups all
seem to be related, but the Magic community is very
regional at the same time.
I've really only been involved in Magic in any
noticeable way in three places: Wayland, New York;
Alliance, Ohio; and Orlando, Florida.
Now I realize that not everyone cares about where
I've played, or what it was like there.
For those people, I would recommend skipping the
next few paragraphs and look for bold-faced type.
If you do decide to read it, though, I think
you'll find similarities to places you've played, which
is what I find so interesting.
Wayland I played mainly within the confines of my High
School, and most of the people I played with did also.
This was easily the most isolated group I've
I knew one guy, perhaps two, who read the Dojo or
went to any sanctioned tournaments.
Even that group was separated.
There were those who, like myself, typically
played on Tuesdays after school in the library.
Then there were those who played in a classroom
about the same time.
There were even a few who preferred the science
Magic was very personal there, as certain decks
became synonymous with the one who played it.
Sadly enough, I became known for Tim decks,
though I also introduced the group to a combo deck based
around Jangling Automaton, Tolarian Entrancer, Gaseous
Form, and Lure.
Ah, what a scrub I was.
I knew it too, and it didn't matter.
Strategies were built less on the clear logic the
cards create in a vacuum, and more around the people one
Alliance I generally played against those who went to
college with me and those who played at the local card
At First Choice there was a relentless
clash between those who understood the rules and
those who thought they did.
Otherwise the scene there was much as one would
expect, where a few good players totally dominate the
When I went to that college I found two people
By the end of my freshman year we were having
chaos games involving nearly a dozen people on a regular
Even though Magic was less a competition there
and more like a small party among friends, it still
generated a number of competitive players.
I don't think I've ever had more fun playing
Magic than I did there, and perhaps that's why we
created good players.
Some people just fell in love with the game, and
then their competitive spirit can take over from there.
Paul, my freshman roommate, originally picked on
us for playing "that game".
Once he gave it a try and built a deck with my
cards, though, he couldn't get enough.
Now his rating towers over my own.
He brought his friend, Matt Miller, into the
game, and now he too is quite competitive.
Andy Chapman was always the runt of the group (I
hope he doesn't read this). When he joined our group he
was playing a deck where he fully intended to play
spells causing his opponent to draw cards so that he
could Stormseeker them.
He still plays, and though his strategy
discussions rarely make sense to anyone other than
himself, he gets the job done quite well, and his rating
also towers over my own.
There is another side to this, though.
Matt List, for example, was clearly one of our
He rarely plays anymore, though, and seems to
have lost interest in Magic.
Kathy, who was Andy's girlfriend (now wife),
almost never plays, according to Andy, and doesn't find
nearly as much enjoyment in the game as she used to.
So Alliance was really a fork in the road, where
good players became bad, bad players became good, and I
went just about the middle of the road, improving at
about the rate I always have.
Or at least that's how I see it–I'm not exactly
objective on this point.
I first moved to Orlando I didn't know anyone who
played, and so I didn't.
A few months later my sister heard about a Magic
tournament because her coworker had a son who played.
I went to said tournament, and by doing so found
out about the Strategy Center.
The Strategy Center was a great place to play and
trade, as there was almost always people there willing
to do so.
About the time I moved, coincidentally ending up
much closer to the Strategy Center, the shop up and
relocated to a place rather close to where I used to
I've found other places to play, and I've found
that Orlando generally has four types of players.
First there is the truly competitive players.
I love playing with these guys, because it's a
You all know Spike.
Then there's the truly casual players, who
absolutely do not want to go to any tournament of a
Tournaments seem silly to these people.
Then there's the casual player trying very hard
to become competitive.
There's lots of these people, and I think that's
a good sign for the health of the Magic community in the
The fourth is something I really have only
encountered in Orlando.
They're the people to whom Magic is secondary.
They're Warhammer players, AD&D players, Star
Wars players, et cetera.
Apparently, Magic was all but non-existent in the
area a few years ago, and was more or less imported, due
to the constant influx of people Orlando is always
It's a very different sort of place, and
certainly more competitive than either of the previous
play groups I was with.
week's alternative format that has no name as far as I
was only one suggestion for an alternate format, and I
still have the email it was sent to me in.
Quoting, then, from Mr. Tang's email:
5 players, each who can only attack the people across
from them (like a star formation).
Once those two opponents are dead, you win the
one can do multiple rounds this way if you want to do a
tournament in this style.
winner(s) of that round gets 4 points automatically, the
1st person(people) to die do not get points,
the next person to die gets 1 point unless a winner has
been chosen, the person after that gets 2 unless a
winner has been chosen, and then survivors get 3…Each
round has random seating."
just because I find it humorous, I'll quote him one more
being the rare drafter since my friend's abilities
resemble a potato with a smiley face…"
you can do drafts in this fashion too.
Actually, I think this setup welcomes drafting,
because you generally want to sit next to those you
won't be playing when you draft.
Here you will be playing them, so that's
something to take into consideration, but you don't need
to kill them to win, so that's good for the draft.
format intrigues me.
In a normal chaos game of that size (chaos is
multiplayer with no extraneous rules) aggressive
maneuvers are often avoided for far too long, as people
don't want to attract too much attention.
This slows the game down tremendously.
It also more or less forbids land destruction,
and to a great extend, discard and various other
strategies that need to target a particular player early
In this format, however, going cutthroat from the
start wouldn't be a bad decision.
When your opponent only has two targets to choose
from anyhow, that player taking special retributive
measures against you isn't far from what they would have
Meanwhile, this format retains some of the
politics that makes multiplayer fun.
Consider this situation: it's the upkeep of the
fellow sitting to your left.
You suggest to that player that he attack your
mutual opponent with some of his large creatures.
During that turn, he does not.
During his end of turn step, you disenchant his
Now you might say, an enemy of an enemy is a
friend, so why should you try to disable that player
thereby making it easier for your opponent to beat him?
Well, you're giving that player incentive to
attack your enemy, not your other friend, while at the
same time making him look like a more appealing target
for your mutual enemy to direct attacks toward then
yourself, therefore giving you a better chance of
So there's additional considerations for when you
make game decisions.
Extra strategy is good in my book.
I believe this is a format you could really get your
mind into trying to figure out the strategy, which is
one of the things I look for in a format.
you find what you seek.
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