Argothian Treehouse
Andy Van Zandt



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Argothian Treehouse

with Andy Van Zandt


At the Grand Prix in New Orleans this past weekend (more on that in a future
article) there was a new requirement added to the pre-game queue.  After
rolling the dice or flipping the coin to determine who has the choice of
playing or drawing (i.e. whoever wins goes first),  you had to mark down the
winner of the flip on the match results slip with an asterisk.  This was for
the auspicious purpose of aiding wizards r&d on determining if who goes
first has an effect on the environment.  Now, as most people know,  it
certainly has an effect on the games...  getting off the first duress or
being able to force spike on your opponent's first turn are both very
important things.  And if you're playing a mirror match,  the games very
often come down to "he who goes first, wins".  This can especially be seen
when you watch matches such as mono-black control on mono-black control in
odyssey block constructed,  or reanimator/alluren mirror matches in

Now perhaps this may be changed a little.  If it turns out that an
overwhelming majority of the matches are dependent on who wins the flip, 
then we may end up with a new attachment to the "play or draw rule",  which
was the original innovation they came up with when it was determined that
the person who goes first has too big of an advantage.  So my friends and I
started brainstorming up ideas of what they might be considering as
potential changes to the "who goes first" rules.

1: Give the person who plays second information advantage,  such as a peek
at the top cards of 1 of the player's libraries,  or a glance at their
opponent's hand.  This kind of information would be more important than it
seems,  if given before the second player has to decide to mulligan or not.

2: Give the person who plays second a land advantage.  They could choose a
basic land out of their starting hand and put it into play before the game
starts.  This would not only give them the ability to have 2 lands on their
turn 1,  but also the ability to force-spike/shock/whatever on their
opponent's first turn.

3: Restrict the person who plays first's ability to play,  first.  Don't let
them cast any spells during their first turn.  They can still cast on the
second player's first turn,  but they can't bust a move with a jackal pup or
duress before their opponent can react.  This could also be done by making
all permanents played during the first turn of the game (only the very first
turn,  by the first player) come into play tapped.

4: Have the starting hands of both players be reduced by 1 (6 card starting
hand).  This is a subtle difference,  it slightly increases the overall
percentage of card advantage the second player will have by being the first
to draw.

5: (my favorite) Change the mulligans.  Either disallow the first player the
ability to mulligan at all,  or only let them do a no-land mulligan (if they
have no land in their starting hand,  they may reveal it, shuffle it back,
and draw 7 new cards).  Or perhaps just give the second player 1 free paris
mulligan,  without depleting the amount of cards they get.

These are just a few options we came up with.  There are many more subtle
(and of course some far more extreme) ideas about what may be done.  And for
all I know,  the results may show that the player who goes first doesn't
affect enough matches to require any change.  But if they start making us
mark the winner of the dice roll at local ptq's,  think back on this article
and what may come of those asterisks.

Questions or comments are,  of course,  welcome.  And if you have any
thoughts on my Burrows Article from a couple of weeks ago,  I'd especially
welcome those,  as I'm putting together a follow up on it with input from
the emails i've recieved.  You could see your name in print  ;)


You can reach Andy at:

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