Tag: casual-magic

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Bruce Gray - February 6, 2015

Goblin Contemplation – Casual MTG

Goblinslide - Casual MTG Standard

Goblin Contemplation 

By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

There are some people that only want to brew up top tier decks and if it isn’t first rate, then they don’t want to try and do anything else. However, I look at making up a new deck a bit as a creative experience.  There are lots of people who paint or write or act but will never reach those upper echelons of the craft…but that doesn’t invalidate their creative efforts or lessen the pleasure they get from pouring their energy into their activity of choice. My creative activity of choice is making a new deck that is ostensibly only played around the kitchen table with my friends…and that is just fine. I will never join the ranks of the Pro Tour with any of my decks, but I will always enjoy the process of building a new fun deck to play with my friends. So, today I’m going to share my take on a fun Casual deck that I will be playing at our next Kitchen Table card night.

I’ve seen a number of pros talk about the power that can be harnessed with Goblinslide and Quiet Contemplation. These are very similar enchantments that reward you for casting non-creature spells and you can trigger them to have an additional effect.  The effect is different, but both of them are 100% repeatable and impact the board enough that you could gain a pretty significant advantage. Both enchantments have been suitably potent that they have been used in a viable draft deck in the right circumstances.

 

With that in mind I set about building a deck that could exploit these two intriguing (and deceptively powerful) cards.  But what sort of deck do you build around these cards?  The obvious starting point would be a pile of Burn spells to eliminate threats and allow you to get the engine of the deck started.  Burn out their creatures, tap the remaining ones, and make Goblins…seems simple enough.  However, those Burn spells need to be quite efficient because you need additional mana available to trigger the Goblinslide or the Quiet Contemplation, so efficiently costed spells are key. However, the issue of card draw starts to emerge because unless you can burn out your opposition you are likely to run out of gas pretty quickly.  So, there are a few interesting options that can be used to help with some additional card draw and preventing you from running on fumes. Let’s see what we’ve got:

 

Goblin Contemplation – UR – Casual MTG Standard

 

Ok, well the creature package is pretty small, but the Windscouts, the Jeskai Elder, and the Riverwheel Aerialists all come with Prowess…meaning that they can often tussle with bigger creatures without much trouble.  The Scaldkin are there as fairly useful fliers that can “Shock” something.  It is hardly an earth shattering creature package but you do want a few critters to keep your opponent honest.

The Enchantments make this deck go because if you can start to trigger them regularly you can make extra Goblin tokens or tap down your opponent. That is basically the whole premise of the deck anyway, so ideally I want to see one (or both) of these in my opening hand anyway.

The instants and sorceries are the fun part because they are burn, card draw, or just plain old Trumpet Blast to help your little Goblins punch through for a pile of damage. The newest treat for this deck is Collateral Damage which suits this deck perfectly.  Can you imagine casting Lightning Strikedealing three damage to your opponent, triggering Goblinslide for a mana, and then casting Collateral Damage for an additional three damage, sacrificing the Goblin token you just made…and then activate Goblinslide a second time and STILL having a Goblin Token on the table?  That feels very achievable…and 6 points of direct damage is nothing to sniff at.  Sure, it feels a little clunky but it just might get the job done around the Kitchen Table.

The deck hardly looks over powering, but for a deck packing no rare cards it feels like it could do some pretty powerful and hilarious stuff.  Who doesn’t want to flood the board with a load of Goblins and over run your opponent?  Seems like it might be legit little deck.  It also meets most of my key components…it is a) inexpensive to build b) uses spare parts that I have in some my boxes and c) looks like it could be a load of fun. Sounds like a win to me!

Well, that’s all for today…thanks very much for taking the time to read!

Until next folks…have a great MTG day.

By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

@bgray8791 on Twitter

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Bruce Gray - January 14, 2015

Fate Reforged Reviews: Top 10 cards for Casual Magic

Archfiend of Depravity - Fate Reforged

Fate Reforged Previews: Top 10 cards for Casual Magic

by Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

                Fate Reforged is right around the corner and the anticipation in the Magic Community is mounting.  So many SWEET treats! But with any new set it is also spoiler and preview time as everyone offer their own opinion on cards.  However, anyone can offer an opinion…but what can we at Three Kings Loot do to make out previews a little bit different?

We decided that this time round that previews would be done a little bit differently.  If you want a full, comprehensive review of each and every card, you are welcome to check out the host of sites that do that sort of thing.  No, here at Three Kings Loot we decided that focusing on the cards that will be impactful at various formats and what they offer the Magic Community would be a different take on the whole “Preview” idea and might spice things up.  On my end, I will look at cards that will impact Casual Magic players.  Specifically, I will look at some of the cards that have got me excited and some of the ways I intend on using  them to help diversify my Casual play experiences with my pals when we next meet around the Kitchen table.

I would like to make one major distinction because when most people hear “Casual” they immediately think of EDH.  However, there is far more to Casual play than just Commander and so I will touch on a variety of cards and some of them may be awful for Commander.  However, what keeps many of these cards all in step is that many are unlikely to see play in Constructed environments in most situations.  Let’s take a look at my top 10 cards for Casual Magic.

 

Honourable Mention

Archfiend of Depravity – Who doesn’t like a 5/4 flier for 5 mana?  Add on that extra ability and this guy is hilarious.  Granted, only the guy who is a “griefer” in your play group is going to dig this, but it is still pretty amazing.  This guy shuts out token strategies, destroys Manifest decks, or really just about any deck that is looking to go wide…and then shuts them down again by making you crash into a 5/4 flier if you get brave enough to attack.  The best part is that is asymmetrical, meaning you can throw down as many creatures as you like!  It wrecks Hexproof because it doesn’t target…really, there is very little this can’t do.  Sure, it might not get everything, but this guy can single handedly make a mess of the board state and put you in the driver’s seat.

 

Top 10 Casual cards from Fate Reforged

10- Fascination – This just looks like a ridiculous spell.  Normally I don’t like symmetrical spells like this, but the option to Draw or Mill both players is incredible…and double blue and X is potent. At 5 mana it’s Jace’s Ingenuity.  At 6 it’s Opportunity. At any more than that you are grabbing a huge pile of your deck and just going to town.  Now, my IMMEDIATE thought was pair this with Notion Thief…which would be a hilarious interaction.  Consecrated Sphinx sounds fun too.  How about this plus…oh I don’t know…Reverberate/Fork/Howl of the Horde?  Oh my…the hilarious nature of those spells.  Also, there are a number of fringe decks that could run this because they don’t care what their opponent does.  Turbo Fog has little to no interest in what their opponent does…so symmetrical card draw is fine because they only want to dig up Fog effects.  Lastly, this could totally power out some busted Delve type spells by Milling everyone.  All in all, this is just fun and the sort of card I would be looking to brew Casual non-sense with.

 

 

9- Mob Rule – Hello! This is just Harness by Force on Crack…or Threaten on steroids…or something ridiculous to do with 6 mana.  Take all your opponent’s stuff, untap it, and smash them with it?  Wowzers. That’s filthy.  I’m on board the train to silly town with this guy.  And at Casual, 6 mana isn’t an unreasonable casting cost…and the effect is kind of bonkers.  I’m in.  Just ridiculous.  But wait! There’s MORE! “What is even better than just taking their stuff?” you ask. Well let me tell you.  Let’s imagine you CAN’T kill them by stealing all their stuff…why not start sacrificing their stuff to some sac outlet for hilarity’s sake?  Altar’s Reap is an easy place to start…but why not keep going and go to Bloodflow Connoisseur , Cartel Aristocrat, Corpse Traders, Culling Dais, Dark Triumph…and you’re getting the idea.  I’m not sure that there is something that makes me happier than sacrificing my opponents stuff for a laugh and a giggle.  Time to find Free sac outlets!

 

8- Ghastly Conscription –  Oh c’mon…as if you didn’t think of this with Fascination?  Mill their Graveyard and the next turn turn them ALL into Manifested 2/2 creatures?  That seems like fun.  Heck, any Mill strategy with this will be hilarious and ensure that you will bury them under a pile of their own cards.  I’m quietly giggling waiting to pick up a couple of these and surprise my pals.  I might get Booed out of the room…but that’s ok for the look of sheer disgust on their faces. I love it.  7 mana ridiculousness never looked so good.

 

7- Manifest – Yup, that’s right…I like this new Mechanic so much that it is effectively on here twice. Ghastly Conscription is just the tip of the iceberg!  I’m lumping this whole mechanic in as being sweet for Casual play because there are a number of fringe ideas that this can play right into.  The card that highlights this ability most to me is Ethereal Ambush that dumps a pair of 2/2 Manifested critters on the board for you and give you and immediate board presence.  I’ve already expounded pretty well on where I think this idea can go, but to sum it up, anytime you can guarantee to turn random cards into 2/2 creatures it is not a bad thing.  Pack your deck full of creatures and very few spells and you can make your Casual deck tons of fun to play with and still flip them over by paying their casting cost.  Add in the interaction with Secret Plans and Trail of Mystery and you have some very powerful engines to power through a deck.  Oh, and you know all those Moprh triggers? There could be some really interesting interactions as you need only pay their mana cost to flip the card over…meaning Master of Pearls now flips for 2. 2 Mana! Wow.  Yeah…this could get silly and I’m going to be diving right in trying to break it huge.

 

6- Ojutai, Soul of Winter – Ok, so all the other Legendary dragons in this set could at least see some sort of Constructed play…or at least I could conceive of a deck that would want them…whether they see play is another matter all together.  However, Ojutai just will not get the job done.  The ability isn’t powerful enough by itself and Ojutai needs some dragon buddies to really go off.  That said, he will still be a sweet addition to a number of decks in the Casual realm.  First off, Dragon Tribal EDH will LOVE this guy.  That’s an obvious starting point.  However, a W/U deck premised on Freezing your opponent or Detaining their whole team is indeed a thing and Ojutai is right there playing along.  How about Jeskai Dragons featuring Brood Keeper and Crucible of Fire?  That has some promise.  Or, just as a really big dude in any deck dabbling around with W/U really…Ojutai is still a big beat stick with a Crippling Chill attached to him for good measure.  He may not see Constructed too readily, but I’ll still be pumped to open up this guy and run him in other things.

 

5-Temporal Trespass – Ok, so the debate is already raging if this is good for Constructed or not.  My sense is that it is, but who the heck am I? There is absolutely no doubt that this is good enough for Casual because it says TAKE AN EXTRA TURN!  You know what I can do with an extra turn? Absolutely ANYTHING.  I love it and I will make in happen …regularly.  Stay tuned because there will be deck lists featuring this little beauty.

 

4- Siege Cycle – These will be terrific in Limited, but they will all be amazing in Casual games, in large part because of the wording.  Each of these cards have a mode that impacts each player sitting at the table, meaning that you can impact each opponent at a multiplayer game.  That’s big in EDH and 60 card multi-player variants because it gives you good bang for your buck.  While they aren’t degenerate cards, except for maybe Frontier Siege which ramps at EVERY MAIN PHASE, they will all be useful and are likely to be solid additions to most decks.

 

3- Warden of the First Tree – There is no doubt that this will be outstanding in the Casual arena.  I have my doubts if this is good enough for Constructed, but in Casual I can assure I will ramp to the ultimate and make the 8/8 trampling, lifelinking sprit token.  Yeah…this seems like fun and the Hybrid mana cost means he could fit in sooooo many Casual brews that it is ridiculous.  There will be a warm spot for him in my Evolve deck powered with Gyre Sage and ramp this guy out.  Really, any mono-green ramp strategy will be a solid fit and will make this guy into an instant all star.  Look for this guy causing havoc at Kitchen tables for years to come.

 

2- Shamanic Revelation – Ok, this is an upgrade on Collective Unconsciousness, and it will be ridiculous in Casual Games.  Any strategy going wide playing Green will gobble this card up, run it, and gain about a bajillion life and draw ALL the cards.  Think about it. I can name at least 2 of my own decks that will love this and there is room for plenty more.  Mass card draw in Green is never easy to find and the fact that this one takes some set up is not ideal, but the potential upside is huge.  I can hardly wait to fire this one off.

 

1- Temur War Shaman: Ok, if this were a 4/5 for 6 mana it would be ok.  However, this packs an additional Manifested creature when it enters the battlefield meaning that you get  6/7 for power and toughness…across two bodies…for 6 mana. That is some pretty good stats that you shouldn’t overlook when you are playing this card.   This is also absurdly easy to abuse…bounce it to your hand with Sage Eye Avengers, Roaring Primadox, Quickling or Deputy of Acquittals…but even better is all the flicker non-sense from Avacyn Restored. Cloudshift, Ghostly Flicker, Conjurer’s Closet, Deadeye Navigator…and you are off to the races Manifesting everything.  I really like this guy and feel like it has some Casual applications in addition to the ridiculous pile of Manifest cards that can just make the battlefield one huge mess.  I’m a fan!

Well, there we go.  Of course, you might have some other casual favorites in mind, and that’s 100% fine.  The nice thing with Fated Reforge is that it seems to offer quite a number of really interesting cards for Constructed and Casual applications making it look fun and feel pretty neat.  Also, I feel like the Manifest ability is going to make this set very complicated and challenging…which is a good thing because it will force us all to deviate from playing boring linear decks, but instead splashing it around and seeing what other sorts of shenanigans we can concoct as we move forward.    I’m a big fan, in case you haven’t seen. However, the Khans of each of the clans, Ugin, and some of the other spells and creatures are all insane, but I wanted to take some time and highlight some of the things that have got me excited.

Thanks for taking the time to read.  Until next time, keep it fun, keep it safe…keep it Casual.

by Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
@bgray8791 on Twitter

 

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Bruce Gray - January 9, 2015

A look at Fate Reforged Spoilers and New MTG Brews

Morph Token

A look at Fate Reforged Spoilers and New MTG Brews

By  Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

 Well…HAPPY NEW YEARS magic players! Fate Reforged spoilers have started and dear LORD am I excited.  We have only started to see the sweet new treats coming our way, but they look awesome already!  I mean…Ugin?! Sure, he’s pricey…but he’s mighty sweet.  Old Nicol Bolas may have bitten off more than he could chew here.  And Soulfire Grand Master looks RIDICULOUS! Jeskai Burn/Wins decks just got an all-star to hit Clean-up…and dear lord does he pack a punch! I mean, lifelink on all your burn spells? That’s insane.  Oh…and if you find yourself with a bunch of extra mana why not cast your spell and have it return to your hand? No biggie.  That’s totally fair…and not the least bit suspect when you can also trigger Jeskai Ascendancy.  No, that’s not broken at all.  However, I digress…here at Three Kings Loot we are working on our previews as well, but what got me started today was one little word.

MANIFEST.

Yup.  That one word BLEW my mind because it meant that Morph was going to continue to be a thing in this second set.  We saw some sweet Morph creatures in Khans of Tarkir and some really amazing enablers to push them.  However, I was really worried that the Morphs were going to disappear in the follow up sets meaning that they really only had a place in Limited and a few super Casual brews.  However, with the support of the Manifest mechanic in Fate Reforged there is  the very real possibility to push Morph decks from the realm of Limited to Fringe Constructed play.  Here is where my mind is going.

We saw very early in the Khans Limited format that Secret Plans was a very powerful engine in the 5 colour Morph deck…or really any Morph deck.  It allowed your Morphs to outclass those of your opposition, could chain you into more cards (replacing the need for more narrow card draw spells in the later stages of the game) and generally allowing you to out card advantage your opponent as you closed in for the kill.  I also had an up-close look at Trail of Mystery and have decided that it is the real deal too.  It may not pump your Morphs right now, but it does filter your deck, ramp your land, and then lead to blow out central when you start un-Morphing your creatures later on.  These two powerful engines can really make Morph decks go.  So, the logic being that if they are good in Limited, there is an outside chance, with some additional support, that they could start to be reasonable to see some fringe constructed play at FNM or some low pressure constructed events.

What are the new treats you ask?  Well, the two that REALLY got my attention were Ethereal Ambush and Whisperwood Elemental.  These two cards come with the Manifest mechanic and can totally enable further some gross things.  They just enable you to chain more Morphs together into more cards and lands…and then full on going off.  It does rely on synergy to get ahead and can be easily disrupted, but you should be able to pull it together once in a while and with devastating effect.

Now, I was debating what colours to use when building the deck, but the obvious starting point is U/G/X…and the X is totally up for debate.  Yes, yes, I could go 5 colour, but that is just full on greedy and if the intent is to create something that is at least feasible in a competitive arena then 5 colour is NOT the way to go.  So, we’re back to 3 colour build.  Let’s see what we can do here.

My first reaction is to slide in Red for the Temur Morph deck, and looking at the other cards that have been spoiled, this feels pretty normal.  Now, the nice thing with a Morph deck is that your actual curve is quite flat…because everything you play is really a Morph and you don’t much care about the actual casting cost.  You DO care about the Morph cost, but hey…at least you should have things on board early on.

 

Temur Morph test deck

 

 

With the inclusion of Ethereal Ambush and the Whisperwood Elementals you aren’t rewarded for spells with the Manifest ability because lands and non-permanent spells simply become a 2/2 until they die.  That is not overly useful in lots of regards.  So, packing a deck full of spells is a bit foolish.  So, as you may be able to see, most of the things in this deck are the two engines (Trail of Mystery and Secret Plans) or are creatures with a Morph ability anyway.  The real trick is finding creatures that can Morph relatively inexpensively but yet are still useful.  Sagu Mauler and Ashcloud Phoenix are obvious auto-includes  and a couple of Thousand Winds could prove very effective at washing away your opponent. The other Morphs are all cheap to un-Morph and all of them have a solid ability.  The Flock is just a big old flying wall to ensure you don’t get shredded from above.  The Mystic of the Hidden Way ensures inevitability because it just can’t be blocked.  The Icefeather Aven is a fun bounce effect. And the Rattleclaw Mystic is unadulterated ramp.    The other spells are all useful, but if you lose one or two to being Manifested (Is that going to be the Term? I guess we should figure that out) by the Whisperwood Elemental or a stray Ethereal Ambush, but hey, that’s ok.

Your ideal opening hand has you playing Trail of Mystery on Turn 2, a Morph on Turn 3 to fetch a basic land, another Morph on Turn 4 to hit your 5th land drop…and you are off to the races.  By the 5th Land drop you could cast Ethereal Ambush on your opponent’s End Step, Manifest 2 face down creatures, search up 2 more lands and well and truly be set cast your whole deck.  Sneak in a Secret Plans as you go and you have a card engine to match your land filter engine…and all the mana you need to pay those Morph costs.  Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me and could lead to all sorts of ridiculous things.

Now, I have been toying around with some of the other colours as well.  For a while everything I touched turned Bant…so U/G/W…and this could very well lead me to doing exactly the same.  Here’s the build I’ve been toying with.

Bant Morph test deck

 

The deck functions very similarly to the Temur version but is somewhat less obviously powerful with no Phoenixes or direct burn.  Instead you have Watcher of the Roost and Master of Pearls as the replacements and a couple of Feat of Resistance to make combat truly miserable.  The trick here is that when you Morph your Watcher of the Roost for Free (Provided you still have a white card in your hand)  the Trail of Mystery triggers making it now a 4/3 flier.  Pump it again with a Master of Pearls as it Morphs  and it is now a 6/5 until end of turn and likely making combat truly awful.  Now, this is absolutely living in a fantasy land where I can do as I please and have all the pieces to the combo set up, but I can clearly see that this deck has more “moving parts” in order to generate the sort of explosive damage I want and can be derailed more easily.  I feel like the Temur build is the better option, but I still like the idea of blowing out an opponent with Master of Pearls and a couple of Watcher of the Roost.

The options in Black if I wanted this to be a Sultai deck are less appealing with only the Ruthless Ripper and Grim Haruspex as desirable targets to Morph, but it does offer a lot of really interesting spells that I would love to have access to.  Villainous Wealth and Murderous Cut being the first two most obvious choices, but there are others including Dead DropArchfiend of Depravity is also highly entertaining but none of these cards play into the Morph deck idea.  Heck, the Villainous Wealth deck is already a thing on the fringe of Constructed standard.  No, unless there are some higher quality black Morph cards coming in Fate Reforged the Sultai version would just be Sultai good stuff and not so much a Morph deck looking to abuse Trail of Mystery and Secret Plans.  So, I think I’ll pass.

Well, there we have few new ideas to go about what Fate Reforged has to offer.  And I just scratched the surface because I can see loads of other great pieces that will make many of the best decks even better, and will allow for some newer decks to start taking shape.  Needless to say, we will be in for a treat in a few weeks when we all get to crack Fate Reforged and see what it has to offer up close and personal at the Pre-releases.    I can hardly wait.

Anyway, thanks for taking the time out of your busy day to read my ramblings.  As always, keep it fun, keep it safe…and keep it casual.

 

Regards,

 

By  Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
@bgray8791 on Twitter

 

 

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Bruce Gray - December 15, 2014

Trading Up [ MTG trading ]

Trading post - MTG trading

Trading Up [ MTG trading ]

by Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

If you are anything like me, you have entirely too many cards.  You likely don’t intend on having that many cards and limit your purchasing to those cards you do want.  But, every time you draft, play Sealed, get handed a random pack, or receive one as a gift you likely find 1 or 2 cards you actually want to play with…and a bunch of other ones that you have no intention on playing with EVER.

Now, this colleting of cards isn’t a bad thing.  In fact it can enable you to do all sorts of other fun things like make Battleboxes, Stinky Cubes, draft packs to practice with, or fun casual decks.  Casual players, such as myself, LIVE for these random extra cards.   However, even I have a limit for how many of these cards I am prepared to keep and what I intend to do with them.

One of my prime issues, like most of us, is storage.  Where do you PUT all these cards that start to pile up?  You start with boxes, of course, but eventually, once your collection continues to grow with expansion after expansion your boxes fill up and then they start multiplying. Soon you are not looking at a box or two, but numerous boxes, full of cards you just aren’t prepared to play.  This can be a huge issue. Some players are students and don’t have the ability to store loads of cards.  Others move addresses regularly as they bounce from place to place meaning that they need to also pack all their cards with them.  Some of us just have a finite amount of space in which to store our cards.  So what is a player to do?

The obvious solution is to try and package up a large number of your cards and trade them for something.  This usually means one or two more valuable cards, if you can muster it.  This is what I think of as trading up.  I trade a large number of less valuable cards for a smaller number of more valuable cards.  This is extremely difficult to do, in no small part because most players aren’t looking for less valuable cards when you walk into a shop with a collection of traders.  Most people are there looking for bigger ticket items.  Fetch lands, Shock lands, Modern staples, Standard Staples, weird odds and sods and really anything else that is obscure.  It’s just a tough process.

One strategy I’ve adopted is using the Buylist for a local game store (or Three Kings Loot) and selling cards that I am not currently playing back to the store.  Sure, you take a hit on the relative value, but the alternative is that they sit in a box and collect dust.  At least this way I can recoup some sort of value, even if it is Store Credit (which I know I will use to acquire more cards later).  This is a form of trading up because you can use the accumulated credit to pick up one or two bigger ticket items that you are looking for.  Some people would never sink to this level, but to players on a budget it is a viable approach to trading up.

However, even with this relative thinning of your collection, you STILL likely have too many cards and not nearly enough credit.  There is a limit to how much a store is willing to keep on hand and so you will undoubtedly still be looking to rent a storage locker soon for those ever growing piles.

So, what alternatives exist once you’ve gone to the local store and scoured their buylist? One route is to go to the bulk buyers who will give you a few dollars for a 1000 cards.  Depending on what the going rate is you and how many cards you have available is what ultimately determines how much you get in return, but let me assure you it is a fraction for what those cards would cost you to BUY on the secondary market. Many basic commons cost between 5 and 10 cents a card…multiplied by a thousand cards and you are looking at a sizeable loss to you.  Think about it…it would cost you $0.15 to buy an Ainok Tracker from Khans of Tarkir from Three Kings Loot, just as a random example.  If all the cards in your box of 1000 cards would be worth roughly the same on the secondary market logic would dictate that your box is worth close to $150.  However the bulk purchaser will give you a couple of dollars…let’s say for arguments sake for your box of random commons and uncommons…$10 (which is likely more than you are likely to see in my neck of the woods) for your box.  On one hand, you’re pleased because you just scored $10, but on the flip side you have potentially taken a loss of $140 on your cards! Ouch!   I have seen people posting on Kijiji and other similar websites that they are looking to sell their cards because privately hoping for a better return than from a bulk buyer, and who can blame them.  However, let’s be real, the chance that someone will grab their collection is quite low.  So…if you’re losing a healthy chunk of change on your box of cards, what else can you do?

I recently found a site that might interest many of you, particularly the casual crowd who might be looking for some esoteric cards or to clear out a pile of random stuff.  For you competitive or financial types, this may not float your boat, but you might want a look too.  Pucatrade seems to be gaining steam as a pretty legit way to trade and receive cards.  It’s pretty easy to use and I have found that it is a great way to assist in the process of thinning out your cards.

It’s really quite ingenious because Pucatrade eliminates the haggling over the relative value of cards and currencies by essentially assigning a point value to each card based a number of financial websites they monitor.  Once you have a profile you can see what cards people are looking for and send them the cards they want in exchange for their points. On the other end, people are able to see what you want and then trade you the cards you want in exchange for your points.  So, you can trade 20 or 30 lousy cards to people and collect a fairly sizeable number of points and in return get one quality card that you intend to play with.

Now wait a second Bruce, I can hear people say, what about postage?  Yes, you will need to pay the postage and maybe that is a deal breaker for you.  However, think of it like this, you know that same 1000 card pile of randomness that you were selling for $10?  Yeah, that one.  You were losing roughly $140 dollars on it anyway! So instead of just losing that value, why not use that $140 sunk cost and use it to cover the postage of mailing out the cards and eek a little more value from the cards?  You’d be surprised about what people are looking for out there in the world and that some of those janky cards you’ve had in a box since Lorwyn might interest someone out there and in return net you that sweet treat you were looking for some other deck.

Does it work?  If the goal is to trade a bunch of commons and uncommons and in return pick up higher end things, I feel I’ve managed to start the process reasonably well.  I have moved over 100 commons and uncommons (and 1 bulk rare)…anything from a Bond Beetle to a Loyal Cathar to Mardu Skullhunter…and in return I’ve received two cards on the basis on my points.  The cards I’ve received were a Dig Through Time and a Siege Rhino.  If I could have traded those 100 cards for those 2 cards, I would make that trade every single day of the week.  The fact that I was able to do all this with the help of Pucatrade as an intermediary is pretty neat.  I also find it pretty cool that some of my cards have gone as far as the Netherlands, Argentina, and Singapore.   The world of Magic just got a little bit smaller!

Now, I admit, Pucatrade and my approach may not be something that you are interested in.  It does present a certain amount of drain on your resources to continually pay for postage, particularly when you are mailing about commons and uncommons. You may not agree with my assessment of the sunk cost associated with all those boxes of commons and uncommons and that’s fine too. For those of you looking to perpetually turn a profit on your trades or your sales, I’m sorry this may not be the situation with Pucatrade unless you want to wade into the end of the pool with guys shipping Fetches, Dual Lands and Legacy Staples.  However, if you want to thin out your collection and trade a pile of lesser cards for a few good ones, Pucatrade could be the answer you were looking for.  I am by no means pushing the site but there is a chance that some of you out there in the interweb haven’t encountered this yet, or haven’t given it a try. I’m here today to tell you that the option is available and if you want to explore it you might like the results.  It certainly makes the option of legitimately trading up into a bunch of higher end treats more feasible for those of us with a big pile of steaming you-know-what sitting in a box a realistic possibility.

Thanks for reading and I would be all ears to hear from people who have tried Pucatrade or other options out there to move cards.   The Internet is so big with so many options available that people don’t know about.  If we can all let each other know about what’s out there and what is available (and that they aren’t big, bad and super scary) then we can help each other to get the cards people all want to play with and use as they go about their business of brewing for competitive or casual purposes.

 

Thanks once again and until next time keep it fun, keep it safe…keep it casual.

 

by Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
@bgray8791 on Twitter
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Bruce Gray - November 18, 2014

New Casual MTG Brews for you

Flying Crane Technique - Casual MTG brews

New Casual MTG Brews for you

By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

Folks, I have to admit, it has been a long time since I sat down and set about to brewing up some new decks.  With the excitement that Khans has provided I have been engrossed watching the new top tier Standard decks take shape and getting primed for the draft format.  This means I have not spent nearly enough time brewing my own wonky concoctions for fun…but that has finally changed.  I sat down and put together some new decks that I want to share with you for your next casual game.  Will these EVER win you anything at a Constructed event? Not a chance.  But around a kitchen table they are loads of fun and well worth the time to put them together.

The impetus this time was that my friends and I had our casual night a couple of weeks ago and we agreed to play Hobo.  For those who are new here on Three Kings Loot, Hobo is basically the name my friends and I gave to playing decks with no rares or mythics…just commons and uncommons.  This is often called Peasant, but we thought the name was lame and preferred the name Hobo.  This particular time the extra restriction we set was that all the cards needed to be from Khans or M15 in an effort to force us to play new cards.

Most people brewed heavily with Khans because many of the cards are just more powerful than what we find in M15.  However, I decided to go the other route for one of the two decks I put together.  I figured that many of the M15 uncommons would be unplayed, giving me the chance to surprise my opponents and come at them with a bit of a curve ball.  The first card I wanted to brew with was Brood Keeper.  I really feel like the potential upside of this card has largely gone unexplored and I wanted to do something with it.  Well, the deck was a mess and I affectionately called it “4 colour mess”…and it was terrible.  I’m not even going to bother to post the list because I took it apart so quickly, but it did lead me to attempt number 2 on the Brood Keeper deck. Here is what I’ve got.

 

R/W Brood Keeper – Casual MTG / Standard on a budget

 

The plan behind the deck is dead simple.  Cast a Brood keeper and then hit it with an aura or two in order to produce the Dragon token it makes.  The token (a 2/2 flying dragon with Firebreathing) is a real card…Furnace Whelp was an uncommon in M13.  Dragon Whelp has been a thing since the beginning of Magic…and Brood Keeper just produces them as value.  Wow.  That’s mildly insane. Everything else in the deck is designed to help you get there.  Heliod’s Pilgrim allows you to fetch up an aura if you don’t have one in hand.  Sightless Brawler can be used to Bestow it on the Brood keeper or play it as a dude. Bladetusk Boar and Eagle of the Watch give you suitable targets to cast auras on if you don’t have a Brood Keeper and both come with a form of evasion.  The auras are cheap and many cantrip for more cards or have some other upside to them being in the deck.  It isn’t a fancy deck, but the curve is low, Brood Keeper is most certainly a thing, and it feels like a much more reliable build than a 4 colour mess.

 

Sultai Casual MTG deck

The other deck I ran was an unadulterated Sultai deck.  I feel like the Delve mechanic has been breaking formats since Khans hit the shelves and I wanted in on the plan.  The deck wants to dump a ton of cards in the graveyard and then do broken things with the extra resources.  At Hobo night the deck fared quite well because it just could make more use of its resources than many of the other decks.  I mean, Treasure Cruise for 1 blue mana (+ a bunch of cards in the exile pile) is pretty solid card advantage and leaves you wide open to cast any spells you picked up when you drew off the top. It proved to be a very potent combination and left many opponents unable to handle the relatively potent spells that I could follow up with.  Here’s the deck list.

 

Sultai delving convocation – Casual  MTG / Standard on a budget

 

Essentially I’m not paying the full casting cost for all my most powerful spells on account of the Delve mechanic or the Convoke mechanic.  Satyr Wayfinder and Sultai Soothsayer dump cards in my yard that I will then turn around and Delve to cast something else…and then in the next breath tap them to pay the Convoke cost of the Feral Incarnation I want to play.  It really was kind of disgusting and a couple of opponents just looked on, in bewilderment, as I paid the Convoke cost of Feral Invocation and then in the next turn played Overwhelm meaning that things got crazy fast. It was a fun build and one well worth keeping together and fixing up to make it more…I’m not sure…spicy?!. Ok, more spicy.

 

Jeskai Casual MTG deck

The last deck I have for you is an update of an R/W heroic deck that I was running several months ago and I wrote about here on Three Kings Loot.  I like the deck, but with Standard rotating I wanted to freshen the deck up somewhat.  My build around piece was Preeminent Captain and the ability to play soldiers without paying their mana cost.  The deck is full of soldiers and combat tricks to protect the creatures or to trigger Heroic and get in there for big damage. Here’s what I’ve got.

 

Jeskai Heroic Captain – Casual MTG / Standard on a budget

 

The game plan is to play my Preeminent Captains, protect them with a Gods Willing or Feat of Resistance and attack to drop another soldier card from my hand for free.  Since I can play the creatures for free I can use my mana to play the tricks in my hand to make combat miserable.  The addition of the Refuge lands from Khans has been a neat twist and really enabled the playing of Ajani’s Pridemate, which is a terrific card.  Play it for free and have it pile on counters each time you gain a life is a nice boost.  Dragon-Style Twins and Fabled Hero are just the sort of hammer you really need should things start to get out of control and can seal up a win in short order if you can fire off a few tricks.  Along that same vein, Flying Crane Technique really serves the same role to just snatch a win out of nowhere by making your team Double Strikers with Flying.  Oh, and the Ainok Bond-kin is a terrifying little creature because this deck can pile up +1/+1 counters very quickly…making the Bon-kin super useful to give my team First Strike and just make combat totally miserable.  Will this deck wow the world at the neck Standard event? No.  But it is a lot of fun, particularly if you can get the Captain on-line to play creatures for free. And it isn’t even that expensive to build! Nice value!

Well, there we have it, three new brews to share with you guys.  These may not be Standard worthy, but they have given me plenty of enjoyment around a Kitchen table and letting me to do some pretty silly things. The best part, many of the decks I have here are relatively kind to your wallet, which is always a secondary consideration when playing Magic.  No one likes to be broke, so why not try to keep the costs of playing this hobby down a bit.

 

So, until next time, keep it fun, keep it safe…keep it casual.

 
 
By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
@bgray8791 on Twitter

 

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Bruce Gray - September 13, 2014

Random beats at Casual MTG decks night

Kor Skyfisher - Casual MTG decks

Random beats at Casual MTG decks night

by Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

Well, we’re back to school and back to the grind. For some this is the worst time of the year because it signals the start of the boring and mundane for yet another year.  For others it is a time of excitement as things start all over again with fresh beginnings and fresh options.  For those of us who play Magic, the specter of rotation and the imminent arrival of Khans means there is lots of buzz in the air.  The end of September can’t come fast enough!

 

This isn’t an spoiler article because we are hard at work here at Three Kings Loot prepping our review, but we’ve got good stuff on the burner.  However, with Khans being on the horizon and Constructed being in a bit of holding pattern until the rotation, I thought this would be a perfect chance to highlight some casual decks I’ve been rocking, some relatively inexpensive and fun decks to liven up your Casual games.  These are all 60 card decks that are perfectly viable in a duel situation, but are better suited to playing a multiplayer setting.  Let’s see what I’ve been brewing.

 

The first deck is my take on what can only be called a Modern Mono-Green Devotion deck.  A number of months ago I posted a decklist for a budget Mono-Green Devotion deck here on Three Kings Loot.  It has done reasonably well for me since then, but decks are like living organisms that change and evolve and this deck is no different.  With cards like Chord of Calling, Genesis Hydra, Hydra Broodmaster there are yet more powerful options to sink a ton of mana, there is no reason not to change a few cards to do a few more powerful things.  However, the addition of a card from an older set is REALLY what I wanted to add to the deck…and that was Craterhoof Behemoth.  This just smacks of being the best thing you can do to dump a ton of mana either by hard casting it, Chord of Calling for it, or Genesis Hydra for about a billion and grabbing it too.  Here’s the list.

 

Mono-Green Devotion (Budget modern and/or casual MTG decks)

 

I was rocking this is in a 4 person free-for all game and was in the driver seat.  My opponents had allowed me to resolve a number of creatures, a Voyaging Satyr and a Nykthos.  I had all the tools needed to start going off and just needed some huge mana sinks.  Sure enough, up comes a Polukranos and we’re off to the races.  I cast “Big Polly” and get set to Monstrosity him…but sadly have to target the stupid Biovisionary in the stupid combo deck my pal was playing, a Fleetfeather Cockatrice because I had no flying defence, and some other random creature.  Stupid Cockatrice and the Deathough ability.  Oh well.  I get my turn back and top deck… Hydra Broodmaster! OK! So, cast it, and then set up the Monstrosity…and make 10 10/10 Hydra Tokens! OH YEAH! Let the beat down plan begin.  I start smashing stuff around and just making a wreck of the board.  Then, out of nowhere, my buddy slams a second a Biovisionary, casts Polymorphist Jest, and turns his mana dorks into Biovisionaries…and we all lose.  Damn it! Lesson learned…kill the stupid combo deck…no matter how durdly the combo is.

 

Next, I shuffled up my Mono-Red Goblins deck.  I have no real expectation that Mono-Red Goblins will fare well in a multi-player game.  They are far too fragile and just not suited to trying to fight a number of opponents.  However, things are going my way.  I land a Foundry Street Denizen, Legion Loyalist, and then…KRENKO! Oh yeah.  A couple of Krenko activations later and I have a ton of goblins, had just smacked one opponent for 20 points of damage and was in good shape to start taking the game over.  Everything changed with one card…Scouring Sands…and wipes out all the Goblin Token…and I get thumped.  Ok…I know Goblins are fragile, but it is a terrible feeling to have your board wiped out by Scouring Sands because NOBODY plays Scouring Sands.  However, I lost to Scouring Sands and I wanted to cry (well, not really).

 

Mono- Red Goblins (Casual MTG decks)

 

 

The last deck today is one that is clearly a Casual build because it is such a silly concept and packs such a ridiculous mana base there is no way to describe it.  Here’s the list and I’ll talk about it afterwards.

 

UWR Skyfisher (Casual MTG Decks and/or budget Modern)

 

 

This deck plays on the interaction between Kor Skyfisher and Spark Trooper.  Most opponents won’t bother to block what amounts to a Ball Lightning because they know that it will be sacrificed at the end of the turn.  Sure, they eat 6 but they are banking on the creature no longer being a threat. However, during your second main phase if you can cast the Kor Skyfisher you can return the Spark Trooper and re-use it.  Once I established that interaction it became a matter of digging up a host of creatures who a) return stuff to my hand to be re-used or b) have good enter the battlefield triggers.  Now, this is a very mana hungry deck so playing it in a duel is suspect, but in a slower multiplayer game it is just perfect.

 

Well, I shuffled it up and suggested a couple of minor adjustments to our game.  I suggested that we all play at the same time and play with a Howling Mine effect.  The Howling Mine is hardly earth shattering, but the “everyone plays at the same time” is…interesting.  It makes resolving spells really tricky, but boy was it fun! So, we had 1 player eliminated leaving 3 of us still playing. It was a tricky situation but I decided to throw caution to the wind and swing to take out the opponent to my right.  The whole team went and was delivering somewhere up to 35 points of damage…but in the process the opponent to my left hit me.  All the while, the opponent to my right wound up and lashed out with Nefarox with some ridiculous amount of Exalted triggers caving in the guy to my left.  So, all in one turn all three of us just straight up die ending the game in a weird finale. It was a fun variant and something we will do again, but most definitely not the way to play every single time.

 

All three of these decks would fall into a pretty budget friendly category and highlight how you can make some fun decks with just a pile of funny cards and do some damage at your next Casual Night.  The Mono-Green deck is probably the most pricey of the decks on this list, but the cards on it can totally be substituted for and can revert back to the Budget deck list I had previously.  However, the new twists on it could make for a fun deck because of the powerful things you can do with the crazy amount of mana that can be generated. The UWR Skyfisher deck is pretty unreliable because of the wonky mana base and the fact that half the plays in the deck set you back, but when it works…dear LORD…does it work.  And Goblins…well…they’re Goblins and will always be funny. When they work, they work awesome.  When they fall flat on their face, they fall flat on their face hard.

 

There we have it, three fun builds, three fun games, and some random feel bad stories about how to lose a game despite being in a dominant position.  I’m not sure what lesson to draw from the last two apart from perhaps playing the politics game a little more, but regardless of the lessons learned it was fun. It was refreshing to sit down and just sling some card board and relax with some friends with nothing on the line.  I’ll have to make a point of playing this way more often just to keep things fresh.

 

Thanks for reading again this week…and until next time keep it fun, keep it safe…keep it casual.

 

by Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
@bgray8791 on Twitter

 

 

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Bruce Gray - August 17, 2014

A Brave New World (Grixis control standard)

Prognostic Sphinx - Grixis control standard

A Brave New World (Grixis control standard)

by Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

 

Well, the summer Pro-Tour has come and gone and we have seen the full evolution of Standard.  The match play was terrific with some hugely entertaining matches both at Draft and at Standard.  Congratulations must go out to all the players, and especially Ivan Floch for his display of prowess and winning the Pro-Tour with his Blue/White control deck.  It is no small feat and he had to play some tremendously high caliber matches to win the title.

 

As cool as the pro-tour was to watch, I have to admit, I was a little disappointed that it was Blue/White control that was the winning deck.  I have no problem with the strategy and can clearly see that it is effective, but there were a number of really interesting decks running around that were much fresher and newer.  I would have loved to see one of these newer decks win the day simply for the novelty, but at least it wasn’t Mono-Black Devotion.  There was plenty of variety in the Top 8 decks, which was nice, but still, to see an archetype that has been as consistent from last Fall to now still prevail is a little bit…I don’t know…I guess boring. However, the days of Blue/White control in Standard seem to be coming to a close, so get your fill now folks because I suspect we may not see it for a while.

 

This first portion of my article today is strictly a prediction.  I have no inside source at WoTC or anywhere inside the Magic community.  However, based on a few observations I can pretty safely declare that Blue/White control or U/W/x control will be taking a back seat.  We will be watching as Return to Ravnica rotates out of Standard in about 7 weeks leaving two HUGE holes in the U/W control strategy.  The first gap is Sphinx’s Revelation. Sphinx’s Revelation is a major key to the strategy because it just allows for massive card advantage and life gain allowing the control player to reload their hand with answers and gain valuable life.  I would be shocked if something comparable was printed in Khans for the simple reason that it is such a powerful card. Notice I say “powerful”, not “broken” because I fundamentally feel that Sphinx’s Revelation is a fair card and a player who casts it can still be beaten, but it is a very powerful card that can turn the tide of the game very quickly.  I would expect some measure of mass card draw, or life gain, but NOT both together the way that Sphinx’s Revelation does it.  No, the days of easy living on Sphinx’s Revelation will be drawing to close at Standard for a while.

 

The other piece is a little trickier, and that’s Supreme Verdict.  For ages now we have just come to accept that there will be a 4 mana sweeper in white. Please see exhibit A- Wrath of God.  Exhibit B- Day of Judgement.  However, when they printed Supreme Verdict they raised the bar a touch.  4 mana sweeper…and can’t be countered.  Well, that’s a big upgrade and pretty much makes Verdict the Cat’s Ass of wrath effects.  However, since Supreme Verdict was released there has been steady trend. Removal has got progressively more expensive.  Think about it…in Theros we were given a large number of removal spells, all of them quite pricey (thank you Sip of Hemlock).  Inexpensive removal consists of things like Hero’s Downfall…which is still a 3 mana removal spell.  Sure, it hits Planeswalkers too, but in most situations it is used to wipe out a creature.  Bile Blight is a thing, but it is also conditional because if the creature is too large, Bile Blight just shrinks it (and you hope to heavens you can block the creature profitably).  Ulcerate is 1 mana…but costs you 15% of your life total just for casting it.  Fated Retribution, Planar Cleansing and Mass Calcify are other removal type spells…and cost 6 or 7 respectively.  Even Red has not been spared.  Apart from Lightning Strike, Red has started to see burn spells creep up in cost as well.  Bottom line, the price of removal is getting a tad higher.  So, combine the fact that Wizards has already given us the Cat’s Ass of mass removal, and that removal is getting more expensive, I would honestly be surprised to see a 4 mana sweeper once Khans of Tarkir is released.  There will be mass removal of some sort, but I would expect to see the coverted mana cost climb to 5 , or if it is staying at 4, would require all three colours from the respective wedge. In either scenario, the requirement to cast the spell has just increased. This slight increase, coupled with the loss of Sphinx’s Revelation might be enough to knock U/W control down from a top tier deck to being a reliable but somewhat lacking tier 1.5 deck that just won’t command the same level of respect at any given event during the Standard season.

 

So, U/W may be taking a back seat for the next while, but there will absolutely be a control strategy of some sort that will come around.  It’s a bit tricky to try and pick up on what exactly that strategy will look like, but I am prepared to take a look at some new options, and one in particular, that you might be interested in keeping an eye on as Khans of Tarkir starts to be spoiled in the next couple of weeks.  For many a season now we have seen U/W/x be the dominant control strategy but what if we removed the White from that mix and instead replaced it with Black?  We would move away from the Esper or Jeskai (did you notice the new wedge name?) and move towards Grixis as a potential control strategy.  Let’s explore this strategy a tad.

First off, land.  This colour combination could very well have the appropriate land base to make a go at it.  There are Temple of Deceit (U/B) and Temple of Malice (R/B) and Temple of Epiphany (R/U) from Theros block to give you at least 12 on colour Temples to start your deck off.  From M15 we also have Shivan Reef, meaning that you are pushed to 16 total on colour dual lands for your deck. Add in Mana Confluence and you could be as a 20 lands for your deck to cast your spells and have access to the right mana.  So, the land looks good.

 

Next, you have your removal package which is still very strong.  With access to Hero’s Downfall, Bile Blight, Ulcerate, and Silence the Believers you have a pretty robust suite of removal with which to handle most creatures that are on the table.  I agree, this is all targeted removal and not a sweeper meaning Hexproof creatures or other creatures that are difficult to interact with could be a problem.  The solution would appear to be, in the absence of a true sweeper, sacrifice effects.  Devour Flesh may  be rotating out, but there will undoubtedly be another sacrifice type effect that could at least be sided in if the need arises.  I’m hesitant to include In Garruk’s Wake, the 9 mana sorcery that is an asymmetrical board wipe, but if you are playing a control deck you could get there in a long game and then drop this thing to just devastate an opponent.  I’m skeptical myself, but it warrants some investigation.  Red would also give you access to Lightning Strike, Anger of the Gods,  and Magma Jet and Magma Spray meaning you would have a pretty beast set of removal spells to lock your aggressive opponents out of their creatures.

 

Lastly we have the permission package and M15 gave us a sweet option. Dissolve is a very solid 3 mana counter spell, but now with the addition of Dissipate we have as many as 8 hard counters to use. That could be pretty devastating to deny your opposition of a crucial spell or to protect some resource of your own.

 

I can think of very few creatures that you would be truly excited to play in this deck because control decks are usually pretty light in the creature department, but those that they cast can protect themselves.  Aetherling played such a role perfectly for months after it arrived on the scene from Dragon’s Maze, but Prognostic Sphinx could play a similar role.  The 3 power makes it JUST small enough to avoid getting killed by Elspeth, Pillar of light or other spells.  The high toughness means it survives most burn spells. You can even grant it Hexproof to help protect it.  And the best part is the Scry 3 whenever it attacks basically ensures you can draw exactly what you need.  Other options could include Indulgent Tormentor because the triggered ability is useful in all three modes, or Chasm Skulker because the more cards you draw to bigger it gets…and when it dies it spits squid tokens everywhere making it a real pain to contend with.

 

The last consideration is Planeswalkers and the Grixis control standard colour combo could have some good ones.  Chandra Pyromaster is the best Chandra yet printed and she could be extremely useful in this deck.  Lilianna Vess is another viable option and her ability to tutor up an answer makes her invaluable.  Jace, the Living Guildpact could also be a very solid control card and offer some very good versatility to filter your draw and bounce permanents.  The last is Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver who might be an ideal Planeswalker in this sort of deck to give you a true win condition of milling out your opponent.

 

So, the pieces sort of fit and so I have put together a rough list of a deck that start down the Grixis control standard path for when Khans of Tarkir is released.  It is not going to be perfect because it only includes cards that are from Theros and M15.  Without knowing exactly what Khans could hold for this deck it’s tricky, but I figured I would give it a stab and see what i can put together as a framework for the deck and add when Khans is released.

 

Test Deck – Grixis Control Standard – Khans of Tarkir

 

There we have our shell for a Grixis control deck.  Of course, this is not written is stone but is something that you might be willing to brew up and test out.  I haven’t put together a sideboard yet either because you might have your own direction you want to take it in.  The beauty of this time of year, as we prepare for the Brave New World post rotation, that anything is possible and lots of interesting new twists on decks could emerge.

 

Let me know what you think about the deck.  What would add?  What would you take out?  Would you go another direction all together? Some of the beauty of playing Magic is that the possibilities are endless, so let me know what possibilities YOU see.  Send me a tweet and let’s exchange some ideas.

 

Thanks for reading and until next time keep it fun, keep it safe…keep it casual.

 

by Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

@bgray8791 on Twitter

 

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Bruce Gray - August 6, 2014

Exploring Casual Variants of Multiplayer Magic

Kitchen Finks - Multiplayer Magic

Exploring Casual Variants of Multiplayer Magic

by Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters

 

I have to admit, the Magic community is really pretty terrific.  By and large most people you meet and interact with while playing Magic are genuinely nice, helpful, and just friendly.  Let me share with a little anecdote.  Not too long ago I was trying to think up some new twist I could bring to our next Casual Magic night because we got into a bit of a rut.  We all love Multiplayer Magic, but the games take so long and if someone gets skunked on land they find themselves quickly eliminated and having to sit and watch the others play.  That really isn’t all that fun, so I was trying to come up with some way to mitigate this issue. When I was drawing a blank I turned my attention to the Magic Community and reached out on Facebook for suggestions and was rewarded in short order with tons of great suggestions.  Today I thought I would share some of those fun options so that you could use them the next time you play around a kitchen table with your friends.

 

Pack Wars

This is perhaps the easiest of all the Casual variants and it takes very little in the way of set up.  Essentially all you need is a booster pack and some land and you have all the ingredients for a game.  People have said for a long time that just cracking a booster pack is a waste of time.  You rarely get a solid return for you money spent, once open it is just 15 more cards, and really is a very short lived experience.  However, you can draw that experience out by opening your pack and just shuffling in some land and playing a game!  Typically you would want 3 land of each colour and then the spells are whatever you open, meaning you have little to no strategy, curve, or any other technical element to your game.  However, it does cause you to think on your feet and adapt to the situation and making due with obviously substandard cards.  The best part is, it could be any two packs…not even from the same set…and everyone is on the same respective level (unless they open some silly bomb).  I gave it a try with a buddy and we laughed ourselves silly with the sheer ridiculousness of some of the cards we played…and really at the end of the day it really is all about having some fun.

 

Howling Mine

One of the main complaints with Multiplayer Magic is that it takes so long because everyone runs out of cards.  It’s true…I have routinely seen games grind to a halt as everyone ends up in Top-deck mode praying that they rip some awesome bomb off the top of their deck.  However, a great strategy to ensure everyone has enough cards and speed up the game is to give everyone a Howling Mine effect.  This means everyone draws 2 cards instead of the usual 1. This really speeds up matters and ensures everyone can play with the cards in their deck instead of just sitting around top decking…drawing a dud…and then passing the turn.

 

Archenemy

Not all that long ago Wizards had a product that essentially pitted one deck against two others.  The idea being that the one deck was super powerful and that the other two were more marginal, but could team up to beat the superior deck. So, why do you need a particular product from Wizards to play this?  The answer is…you don’t.  Playing 2 or 3 on 1 is a great way to even out the playing field, so find that buddy with the super powerful deck and have him play solo…and then the rest of you get to see if you can take him out.  It sounds really fun because if you are the solo guy, you want to see just how awesome your deck is against multiple opponents.  If YOU get the win solo…damn…you be DA MAN! For the guys teamed up on you, you get a chance to dismantle THAT guy…you know…the guy who almost wins. Even if it is in a handicapped situation, there is no better feeling than beating that guy.  A nice variation on this is to build the deck that the player who will be solo together as a group, so you all know just how awesome it is.  There is a lot of fun to be had in group deck construction.

 

Two Headed Giant of Foriys - Multiplayer Magic

Two-Headed Giant

This classic team games pits 2 vs 2 and each pair of 2 players take their turn at the same time.  This ends up being a wildly fun and exciting way to play.  It can be played with constructed decks if you like, but is just as much fun in a limited environment.  The ability to sit and discuss strategy with your team mate is one of the highlights of this format and helps you to explore a variety of different strategies.  This one also shows up from time to time at pre-releases and such, making it a little more mainstream and sometimes competitive, but even there is generally regarded as being a fun and friendly format.

 

Dice-y Free for all

One way to mix up your multi-player free-for-all game is to have each player roll a die to determine which other player they will be attacking this turn.  Sure, it takes a little longer, but in the end it usually avoids one person getting ganged up so badly that he gets blown out the game.  Remember, you are here to play Magic…not blow someone out of the water…and giving each person the chance to not get attacked and develop a bit of a board only makes the game more enjoyable for everyone.

 

Token Sanctuary

[Gregsterism Addendum] Back in high school, we played a lot of multiplayer games and to prevent players from ganging up on one person early on, we used a Token Sanctuary (in reference to Island Sanctuary). As long as you have the token no one can attack you or your Planeswalkers. The first person to get attacked gets the token, it stays with that player only till the next player gets attacked, they then get the token. It continues moving as the last player to get attacked has the token. We usually used a coin or a a miniature statue to represent the token.

Chaos Draft

For those who love to draft…why draft boosters from the same set/block?  There’s no set rules come Casual Magic night…so everyone show up with different boosters and just see what you get.  The randomness and unpredictable nature of the Draft environment makes for tons of fun as one guy brings in a pack of Modern Masters, and the next guy brings in a pack of Dark Ascension…and let the mayhem begin.

 

Mass-Chaos

One of the major complaints with multi-player free-for-all games is that they take a lot of time. You spend forever sitting there waiting for everyone else to finish their turn and twiddling your thumbs, all the while hoping you don’t get hated out of the game ASAP.  Well, one way to speed the game up significantly, and create all sorts of mayhem and chaos, is to have everyone at the table take their turn at the same time.  There’s no waiting for the turn to come around…you’re going at the same time as the guys sitting beside you.  Now, resolving spells, attacking, blocking and the like is pretty complicated, but between the bunch of you I’m sure you can figure out a system to make it all work for you guys.  This seems like the most insane and disgustingly fun format I have ever encountered and really want my play group to give it a try.  I can only imagine the arguments, shenanigans, and ridiculous scenarios that will get cooked up with this format…bring it on.

 

Awarding Points

My buddies and I have grown tired of having players sit and posture in a multiplayer game.  Anyone can durdle…heck…I’m one of the best at it.  However, to create an incentive to being more aggressive, we award points for having taken out other players at the table.  At the end of the game, the player who has the most kills is actually declared the winner, even though he’s not last man standing.  This absolutely speeds up the game and makes people play much more aggressively, but you need to watch out for the “cherry picking” as one guy does all the work to KO one player at the table, only to have his point stolen from him by an opportunist who swoops in and delivers the final blow to take the point.  In either case, there is no doubt that this gets people moving and out of their defensive posturing shells.

 

So, there we have a number of suggestions to help spice up your next Casual night.  These could be a breath of fresh air for your playgroup and be options that you guys opt to maintain as house rules for when you play.  Maybe you give them a try and find out that you don’t much care for some of these variants. That’s fine.  There’s no wrong way to play Magic so long as everyone is having some fun and slinging spells. In either case, give them a try and see what you think.

 

What do YOU guys do when you sit around your kitchen table to play?  Do you use one of the variants that I’ve listed above or do you have your own house rules?  This is a great time to share these ideas with Conspiracy here and the new 2015 Core Set just released giving us an influx of great new cards to liven up casual games further. Let me know what you think. Hit me up with a tweet and let’s hear what other people are doing out there in the wide world of Magic.

 

Thanks for reading and remember keep it fun, keep it safe…keep it casual.

 

by Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
@bgray8791 on Twitter

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