Hi again everyone and welcome back to another Casual Encounter! With Battle for Zendikar being out and now legal in Standard, there has been an explosion of decks being built. Brewers of all stripes have sat down and put their thoughts together to make a pile of sweet new decks. I have been in the process of building some of my own new decks, but instead of eyeing playing tier 1 Standard decks I’m looking to build decks to play casually. I’ve always had some unspoken guidelines that I’ve kept in mind when building these decks, but I’ve never actually sat down and laid them all out in front of me. Today I have compiled my personal top ten commandments for building my casual decks and will share them with you. At the end, if you have any others that you feel should be added or things that don’t work for you, leave a message or send me a tweet and let me know!
Let’s clear up a few things before we get started. When I say “casual” I’m talking about any time you just sit down with a buddy or two on a Saturday night and just jam a few games. You are playing Magic, but not with an express interest in winning (although winning is fun). You are looking to enjoy the company of your friends and have games of Magic where something interesting, surprising, or intriguing happens. So, if your deck is too powerful, or too weak, your experience is just not going to be as good because you will either dominate or get run over and your games will run out of steam. Neither experience lends itself to fun game play. So, when trying to build a deck I try to follow as many of these rules as I can. Without further ado let’s check out The Ten Commandments of Casual Deck Construction.
10) Thou shalt build a deck that is good…but not too good. Playing the oppressive tournament winning deck is no fun for your friends. It’s ok to have this built and to play it once in a while, but if this is your go-to deck you will quickly find that your friends lose interest or don’t like to play against that deck. Pull it out and play a game or two with your scary good tournament deck, but then put it back in your deck box and grab something else.
9) Thou shalt look for synergy over raw power. Synergistic decks are always more fun and can be deceivingly powerful. Once you get the momentum going you are hard to derail and can be capable of some pretty explosive things. One such example of a synergistic deck that is perfect for Casual play are Simic decks featuring the Evolve mechanic and lots of +1/+1 counters. The Simic deck can be slow to get going, but once you get that Zegana or Master Biomancer up to speed your deck gets hard to handle. Decks featuring somewhat obscure or tricky combos like Sanguine Bond/Exquisite Blood are other great examples of where synergy can totally take over a game, but the deck doesn’t need to ruin the experience for everyone..
8) Thou shalt play those janky bulk rares. Those terrible, unplayable cards can give you much joy and give everyone a good laugh because no one thought they would see play…ever. I’m looking at you Felhide Spiritbinder and Blessed Reincarnation. These sorts of cards can do powerful things if you are prepared to actually play them…sometimes with unintended consequences…and that always makes for great stories. Don’t be gun shy, just run’em. You’ll see.
7) Thou shalt remember that commons and uncommons are your friends. Most Casual players have boxes of commons and uncommons that just sort of sit around and don’t do very much. However, these very playable cards can be leveraged into good value during a game if you are committed to running them. A couple of recent examples are the uncommons from Fate Reforged like Elite Scaleguard, Temur Sabretooth, and Mistfire Adept that can be very powerful but often get overlooked in constructed in favor of just more raw power. Kitchen Table Magic is the perfect place for these to flourish.
6) Thou shalt play an imperfect mana base and that is okay. Really, it’s O-K. No one expects you to have all the most current dual lands / fetch lands / creature lands / make rainbows & skittles fly out of their back side lands. Plus it is way cheaper. WAY cheaper !!!
5) Thou shalt play seven mana (or bigger) spells and not even blink twice. I think this is self explanatory.
4) Thou shalt play expensive, but useful creature destruction. We all know how removal has changed over time. Long gone are Terror, Dark Banishing, Swords to Plowshares and Path to Exile. Instead we get much more conditional removal that is either slower (at sorcery speed), more narrow (like Ultimate Price) or just plain expensive like Spiteful Blow & Pinion Feast that tack on an extra effect. There is actually an incentive to play these less mana efficient cards outside of Limited when you head on to the Casual game. The extra ability (that usually makes the spell so expensive to cast) actually can help your deck do what it wants to do. I always use the example of Spiteful Blow in a deck with a fair amount of land destruction because now you get a 2 for 1 out of this spell that plays into the theme of your deck. Pinion Feast is fine removal in a deck looking to leverage lots of +1/+1 counters. Would I be clambering to play a full playset of these things? No. But there is a place for 1 or 2 of the more unusual spells. Besides to play a million copies of Hero’s Downfall is expensive and not fun.
3) Thou shalt play unusual artifacts. Hello Pixis of Pandemonium.
2) Thou shalt play answers to a little of everything. Since you really don’t get a chance to sideboard you need to play an answer to most sorts of things. Creature destruction obviously, but artifact and enchantment removal are key too. You can slide in some counter spells. No opponent wants to be locked out of the game on account of counter magic, but they do have their place. This takes up more card slots and increases your variance, but variance can make for fun game states with someone having the surprise answer in hand that can swing the whole game around.
1) Thou shalt remember that it is just a game and that you are paying for fun.
Notice I don’t say you can’t play this, that, or the other thing. Anything goes. Provided that your deck is mindful of things like your opponents and having a fun and interactive game, you can play that Ugin or Karn. You can go all aggro if you want, but maybe not quite as aggro as the winning deck at the last big tournament. You can do anything you like, but remember that you are playing for fun. Giving some consideration to the other players will help make your experience far more enjoyable for everyone.
Here’s an example of a deck I have built that fits many of these rules and would be an excellent example of a good casual deck:
So, let’s look at the number of commandments I’ve hit on with this list. It’s not just rares (#10), relies mostly on synergy (#9), plays a couple of janky rares (Foul Renewal for sure)(#8), has lots of commons and uncommons (#7), the mana base is a long way from being flashy or perfect (#6), and answers to a range of things (#2). That’s quite the number of goals that I’ve met and I have no doubt that the deck would fare just fine in a match with some friends. I’ve been toying around with this in the play rooms on MTGO and have seen some reasonable success by giving as good as it gets. More importantly, no one is going to look at this deck and just balk. It’s respectable, has a chance to win every time, and is looking to interact and make the game fun for everyone. It’s not a fancy deck, but it showcases many of the ideas I have been trying to illustrate.
Have I missed anything? Is there anything on my list you don’t agree with? Let me know. There are loads of people out there who play casually and I would love to hear what other people do as they sit down to make up their decks. So, leave me a message or fire me a tweet and let know.
Thanks very much for stopping by for a read. Until next time have yourself a great MTG day and I’ll talk to you guys next time!
By Bruce Gray – Casual Encounters
@bgray8791 on Twitter
The Legacy format is filled with cheap and efficient cards as it has access to the best ever printed over the entire history of the game. This deck is one of those that takes full advantage of that fact to pull together a cast of the top choices creating a highly disruptive killing machine. It pulls together permission, removal and draw to quickly dispatch all enemies that stand in its way. It’s no surprise whenever a deck of this style takes down a tournament.
Quite possibly the best Blue one drop ever printed, and quite aggressively out of Blue flavor, we have Delver of Secrets supported by an almost 50/50 split on spells which will be able to blind flip it turn two so you’re able to commence with the beatdown plan. Follow that up with True-Name Nemesis which demands the opponent to find an answer to it or they will definitely die to that unchecked clock. Both of them are supported by Stoneforge Mystic who is able to either search up an Umezawa’s Jitte to equip one of your attackers or find you a Batterskull to commit further to your beatdown plan. Next we speed up the deck with an abundance of card draw starting with the perennial Brainstorm, coupled with Ponder and Phyrexian freebie Gitaxian Probe which also provides you a sneak peek at the opponents plans. The deck also packs a very robust permission package centering around another format staple and free spell Force of Will, backed up by also free Daze and cheap but disruptive Spell Pierce. Then we round out the deck with top quality removal with the main reason this deck dips into Red with Lightning Bolt and also the classic Swords to Plowshares which will convienently exile most any creatures which are presenting you with certain doom.
Here is another great victory for a deck which has been coming and going with success over the past year. It is a very strong package of disruption which comes in the form of aggro beatdown allowing the deck to operate on a very powerful axis. For those of you unfamiliar with Death and Taxes it is at its core The White Weenie deck. It has evolved from a deck which worked to exile the opponents permanents for value into a mash up of hate bears and resource oppression. It has a pile of the best white creatures ever printed.
The journey up the mana curve is very important for this deck as it relies heavily upon Æther Vial to ‘cheat out’ it’s creatures around counter magic and as disruption. The ideal turn one play involves either Æther Vial or Mother of Runes to let the games begin. Once ‘mom’ is out it becomes increasingly more difficult for your opponent to use spot removal on your creatures. A great turn two play would be a follow up of either Thalia, Guardian of Thraben to actively disrupt the opponents plans or even Stoneforge Mystic to start building offensive to bring the beats. And while Thalia will affect your spells as well it is a minor cost as the spells we cast are one cost and the equipment is going to be cheated in with the Mystic. Speaking of equipment the Stoneforge package in the deck is rather robust including not only a Batterskull and an Umezawa’s Jitte but also a Sword of Fire and Ice, all of which are efficient tools to boost any of your creatures into lean and mean fighting machines. As for some straight-up beatsticks the deck packs a Brimaz, King of Oreskos for value and a trio of Serra Avenger which are able to skirt the turn it can be played restriction with an Æther Vial activation. Then for disruption we find a variety of answers with Phyrexian Revoker to shut down a pesky permanent especially in response to casting a planeswalker, Spirit of the Labyrinth which absolutely ruins players hands in response to a Brainstorm, and Aven Mindcensor that can come in response to a fetchland or Stoneforge trigger to try and force the opponent to whiff. The final creature in the deck is a trio of Flickerwisp which can be vialed into play in response to removal to save a permanent or used to reset a Revoker, rebuy a Mystic and even regerm a Batterskull, not to mention suit up with a Sword or Jitte to bring the beats. There is a heavy resource denial package within the manabase with not only a full set of Wasteland but also a full set of Rishadan Port to lockdown any hope of the opponent to have a fighting chance. Also, for spot removal we find Swords to Plowshares to rid the board of any nuisance creatures trying to stand in the way.
And there we have it the first Legacy winner is a deck that is rapidly becoming a staple deck at the top tables. Of course as Legacy is a huge wide open field there is always a brick wall that every deck will run into eventually, but this deck look not only to be resilient but also a great deal of fun. I would be not only happy but confident as well to sleeve up this deck for the next Legacy tournament.
We start with the namesake creature Delver of Secrets which is one of the best one drop creatures, when build properly into its deck. With a 28 of the cards in the deck able to Transform him from the triggered ability you’re basically a 50/50 shot to be smashing in with a ‘flying lightning bolt’ every turn. He is paired up with the very tricky True-Name Nemesis which while not unbeatable demands an answer or will make short work of your opponent. They are both supported by Legacy staple Stoneforge Mystic which has options to tutor up either a Batterskull or an Umezawa’s Jitte to speed to victory. A heavy disruption package finds full sets of Force of Will, Daze and Spell Pierce to suppress any plans the enemy may try to push forward. There is also a set of Wasteland in the manabase to try and limit their access to crucial mana. For removal we have both Swords to Plowshares to exile any creature threats and Lightning Bolt which can go either to a creature or straight to the dome to finish opponents fast. Finally there is both Brainstorm and Ponder to ensure that there is no taking the foot of the pedal once we get up to speed by streaming constant gas directly to the hand, and fetchlands in the manabase help to reset the top of the library when necessary.
Pick. Plot. Play. Experience a Magic format where the intrigues begin long before the first spells are cast! Revolutionary new abilities impact every part of the play experience, starting with the draft itself.
The first-ever multiplayer-focused booster set has new Magic cards with new mechanics that enhance multiplayer play. Returning favorites from throughout Magic’s history round out the set and cultivate an environment of deception and treachery. The Magic: The Gathering–Conspiracy set is designed to be drafted with six to eight players who then split into groups of three or four players for free-for-all multiplayer games.
Conspiracy Drafting Video
Conspiracy Booster Box
Conspiracy Booster Pack
Esper mastermind and longtime magic aficionado Shaheen Soorani battled last weekend at the SCG Invitational in Las Vegas to a third place finish. Fighting through a field of 299 qualified participants he was able to slaughter most every mage who stood in his way. The Invitational, much like the Pro Tour, is a multiformat tournament requiring proficiency in both Standard and Legacy to find success. In true Soorani fashion his weapon of choice for both formats was blue, white and black control style concoctions. With the two byes he had been awarded he drudged to a final swiss record of 12-3-1, the last round an intentional bye with Thea Steele to clinch the top 8 berth. The competition was fierce with hard wins against Tom Ross, Tim Landale, Erik Smith and Jeff Hoogland. Some tough losses came at the hands of Matt Nass the last round of day 1 playing for the perfect 8-0 and against eventual winner Max Brown entering the second leg of Legacy putting Shaheen on the ropes fighting to maintain a top positioning. In the top 8 he was immediately put to the test against Brian Brawn-Duin but dispatched him easily in three games but was knocked out by Greg Hatch after a hard fought five game battle.
22 other spells