Argothian Treehouse
Andy Van Zandt



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Argothian Treehouse

with Andy Van Zandt

Formats That Don't Matter:

120 Card 50 Life Group Games

Ah, nostalgia.  Remember that song "Everybody's Free (to wear sunscreen)"? 
It had a line that said "Advice is a form of nostalgia.
Dispensing it is a way of wishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off,
painting over the ugly parts and recycling for more than it's worth." 
(  And while this is
certainly true for the most part, as was most of the song/speech,  I still
like me a big ol' bowl of nostalgia on occasion.  When I first started
playing magic (see, this is where I was going with this) it wasn't so much
as one on one games with bad decks...  It was big 8+ person group games. 
Not with normal decks... with 120 card decks (which we also incidentally
used to play one on one games too).  Not with 20 life... with 50.  This led
to big games with lots of stuff in play and some political maneuvering.  I
liked it then, I like it now, even if I don't get that much opportunity to
play it anymore.  Here we'll go over a few of the finer points of this, the
second in a series of "Formats that don't matter".

The Good.
Everything's good... almost.  I mean, nothing can make shelkin brownie
playable,  but almost anything else with an interesting ability has a viable
use in such wide ranging games.  I used to play a single Naked Singularity
in one of my decks so when It got down to one or two players and I had an
advantage,  I could drop that and mess up their strategies for the next
couple turns.  Instant abilities are excellent too, especially stuff that
will affect combat.  This is primarily because of the politics of the game. 
Fog for someone else when they would die otherwise, and you've got a buddy
for life (or at least until you need to kill them or vice versa).  Clones
give you the coolest abilities in play (and doppelgangers were even better).
  Diversify and conquer.  Just make sure to leave yourself some defense and
some way to finish off the last couple players.

The Bad.
The part where I said there was cool political actions?  (No, not like in
Jyhad/Vampire tES).  Well, that's a double-edged sword.  You have to be very
careful of what you're doing,  and you don't want to make enemies until
you're ready to handle ALL of them.  Most people think a howling mine or two
is a great way to make everyone your friend at the table...  until someone
can't use enough spells in a turn to stop from discarding, so he gets a
little annoyed and starts using them on YOU.  By the same token, when you
have the choice of either terror'ing the biggest creature on the table or
discarding, you should strongly consider discarding.  When you terror that
fatty,  no matter how much you may try  to justify it as the only logical
action,  you'll have painted a big target on your head.  If you've really
got a death wish,  you can do some mass annoyance spells, like earthquake. 
Tick off everyone at the table all at once, do it right.

Also,  you have to remember you have to at least appear to be a force to be
reckoned with, without looking like TOO much of a threat.  Creatureless
control decks don't work very often, because you look like the one weak link
ripe to be attacked, and when someone does, and you're forced to Rout away
everything, suddenly everyone wants you dead.  If you're the only guy at the
table with fliers... and it's Two shivans, a morphling, and a vesuvan copied
shivan,  sudenly you're looking too strong, and you may see your whole army
wiped out when a couple players decide you are looking like your stockpile
of weapons is a bit more than is necessary for self defense.

The Fun.
Wyluli wolf that attacking creature, use a desert on that one! Weee!  Mana
Flares and Howling Mines!  Jayemdae tomes that you actually get to use! 
Saprolings as a viable strategy!  Like I said at the beginning, almost
anything goes.  Remember to hold back a counterspell or something to phase
out all your critters, or a caller of the claw to recover, in case anybody
gets a little too frisky and tries to end everyone's (or just your) fun all
at once with a decree or somesuch.  The Hive or Master Of the Hunt are good
ways to build up a "defense" without looking like too much of a threat...
with the added bonus of getting to play cards that have never ever been
tourney viable!  yay!  If you don't see the fun in that, something's wrong
with you.  Fountain of youth, and other small-advantage-over-time things
also add up, and let you recover from any small early losses.

So yeah.  You should get some friends together, build a few unnecessarily
large decks, and play some 120 card 50 life magic.  50 life protects you
while you develop your deck, just make sure you do it right.  Even big
stacks of random cards with appropriate land is fun in this format.  Who
doesn't like amassing huge armies of guys and then sitting back with them
while the other players destroy each other?  The only other thing that even
rivals magic at it is Legend of the Five Rings in group games.  And don't
forget, you can still be decked...  Thran Foundry/Feldon's Cane can be a

You can reach Andy at:

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