The past week has been one filled with much more Magic than I can usually cram into seven days… But I’m not complaining. As a matter of fact, I’ve had a fantastic time, being able to play more Magic than usual. I’ve had such a good time, in fact, that I’ve decided to share with you the two best experiences that I had Â— one completely random and totally hilarious (in a way), and the other refreshing and exhilarating, all at the same time. So to experience a range of Magical goodness, continue.
No doubt, you’re wondering what could be so weird, so wacky, so crazy that I could be writing about it. Well, before Thursday, I didn’t even know that there could be such a thing. But first, some background.
The absolutely most fun format of Magic is by far Chaos Magic. Chaos Magic is just like normal Magic except for one thing: The Chaos Phase. Before each of your turns, after creatures lose summoning sickness and fade in but before you untap, you get a Chaos Phase. In the Chaos Phase, you roll 1d20 and 1d10, using the number from the d20 as the hundreds and tens places (20 = 00) and the number from the d10 as the ones place. For example, if you rolled a 16 and a 4, your Chaos Roll would be 164. If you rolled a 20 and a 0, your Chaos Roll would be 10. Each number corresponds to a different effect – and that’s two hundred effects, folks! Some effects cause you to roll in a Wackyland, which does crazy things (like letting you take four extra turns), a PersonaLand, which gives you some crazy ability (like the ability to come back from the dead once you are defeated by an opponent), or an EnchantWorldLand, which affects the game constantly (this is also put into place before the game begins). For a copy of the Chaos List, go here.
This format is extremely fun, especially (and almost solely) when played in multiplayer. The added dimension of randomness to the game makes play much more fun, as some players are royally screwed or you become the new most powerful player. Effects like Balance and Jokulhaups Light can take players down a notch, whereas effects like Prosperity and Happy Balance can make everyone happy. Since there can be no spells or abilities played during the Chaos Phase, spot removal or targeted effects that would normally be prevented (i.e., fading a creature with Parallax Wave or saccing it in response) can spit in the face of Mothers of Runes and Goblin Bombardments everywhere. If you haven’t played Chaos Magic, go now, and relish in the glory. Well, finish the article, first, then go.
Anyway, there were six of us playing Chaos, but we only had six hours; not too much time to get a lot of games in. Well, our first game lasted a long time, but we had enough time to get another game or two in before the end of the day. However, our group decided that the past three hours of Chaos had been enough craziness for now, and we were going to draft with Invasion and Planeshift with some packs that had had the rares removed but had been otherwise left alone by one of our members. Since the rares were gone, we were going to add a bit of our own kookiness. We decided to add in broken rares from different sets. Our final list of rares in the draft was:
Mageta, the Lion
Force of Nature
Tahngarth, Talruum Hero
Is that crazy or is that crazy? Well, that’s crazy, but it hasn’t reached the peak of craziness yet. We decided before we started to draft that we were going to play a multiplayer game with our draft decks. And not only a multiplayer game, but a Chaos game! We were drafting multiplayer, Chaos decks with Invasion and Planeshift cards but miscellaneous rares.*
So, the game progresses, and I’m playing with some G/W/r deck with a splash of blue for Allied Strategies and a Swamp to make my Domain-ish cards better (Harrow is huge!). The game goes on, as you might expect a multiplayer draft game to go on, with lots of creatures hitting the board and wheedling all over the place. Finally Mark, who was playing a B/R deck, gets out his Thrashing Wumpus. Huge! What’s better than that? I put an Armadillo Cloak on it on my turn! But wait, there’s more! We had out the EnchantWorldLand Up the Stakes, which doubles all damage dealt and life gained outside the Chaos Phase. His Wumpus was HUGE! He Wumped twice, killing everything except the 5/5 Wumpus and Matt’s creatures (for he had Lashknife Barrier out). I got up to eighty-one life after he attacked someone for five, killing the Wumpus with a block but taking out the only creature that didn’t belong to Matt. Matt was later executed for making us forget about his Barrier.
However, because I had so much life, I became the target. On the other hand, because I had so much life, I could AFFORD to be the target. Once I got down to about twenty to thirty life, and someone else had gained a lot of life from the Chaos Phases, the guns turned towards him.
When there were only a few of us left, we knew that the game was going to come down to decking. (We had set a sixty-card minimum deck size and we each drafted an extra pack with no rares, so it took longer than it would have otherwise.) It was just as well, because it was time for the day to end. But then, someone rolled the one that says all graveyards are shuffled and put on top of their owners’ libraries! After that, we called it a draw and a day.
But the Magical goodness didn’t end there (and neither will my article). Three days later, I found myself in Star City Comics & Games for their weekly Standard tournament. The prize: A box of Apocalypse. Nice-o-rama! I had been testing a deck for the past several weeks, and I liked it a lot. Can you say”utter control”? I wish I could take the credit for this beast of a success, but it spawns from the mind of Dave Meddish, who wrote about the deck here. For those of you who just can’t tear yourselves away from this article, here’s a list:
4x Dromar’s Charm
3x Wrath of God
3x Tsabo’s Web
3x Fact or Fiction
4x Accumulated Knowledge
3x Dismantling Blow
2x Nether Spirit
4x Adarkar Wastes
4x Underground River
4x Coastal Tower
4x Salt Marsh
This deck is control crazy, with sixteen unconditional counterspells, including the life-gaining Absorb, the game-winning Undermine, the versatile Dromar’s Charm, and the ubiquitous Counterspell. Wrath and Rout clear the board, and Dismantling Blow deals with annoying artifacts and enchantments. Go for the throat with Nether-beats after a couple of Undermines for a quick win.**** But the deck wouldn’t be good if those counterspells couldn’t be played. However, the great part about this deck is that it almost never has mana problems! Despite being heavy on three colors, I can almost always cast my spells. The only problem I’ve had is not having enough blue mana to play four counterspells during my opponent’s turn. 🙂 But with global sweepers, reusable blockers, and spot removal, the deck has it all.
So, I took it to a local tournament. Granted, this was no Pro Tour, but Roanoke has its share of good players. My first match, however, was against a relatively newer player, Ryne Amos, who was playing some crazy black/red”combo” deck. He was telling me that his combo involved five cards,”But two of them are lands, so it’s really only three cards.” I was perplexed as to what he could be playing, so I played cautiously, holding back counters.
The first game, he got somewhat mana-screwed, which allowed me to build up an ample defense before he was able to start playing too many threats. When he cast a Teferi’s Puzzle Box, I figured he was playing with one of those combo decks. I had never really seen one, so I didn’t know if it were black/red or how it worked. I asked him if that was part of his combo, but he said it was just utility to help cycle through his deck. Heh. Shortly after that, I beat him, and we shuffled up for Game Two. Having no idea what he was playing, I boarded in nothing.
Game Two arrived, packing plenty of spells but nearly no mana. Without the ability to counter, I quickly discovered his secret”combo.” It was Darkest Hour and Urborg Shambler. Make all creatures black and give them all -1/-1. Wow. Needless to say, his black, 4/2 Skizzik got -2/-2 from Dromar’s Charm, saving me a lot of grief in Game Three. There was a Game Three, though, because of the aforementioned mana screw. The next match, however, I was placed in the 1-0 bracket.
This match was also against a crazy black/red deck, but this one was bereft of combo. This player also seemed to be newer, for he picked up several of my cards to see what they did, including my Tsabo’s Web. The first game, he got me down to four life, but I stabilized and pulled my life total back up with Absorbs. I won the first game. Like in Round One, my second Game Two saw mana screw. Here’s the story: I was drawing first, and my opening hand had Nether Spirit, Adarkar Wastes, a coupla Counterspells, and some other stuff. I opted to go for the”pitch Nether Spirit” route for the first turn. Note to self: NEVER KEEP A ONE-LAND HAND! Why do I make this note? Because I did not draw another land for the rest of the game. *Sigh* Game Three, however, I swept. I had complete control, especially after he forgot about Nether Spirit’s recursion and put it into a pile with a land, leaving me three counters from a Fact or Fiction. The game was easily bagged.
Well, at this point my deck was having more mana screw than normal, but aside from the single-land game, it was nothing too terrible. Round Three, however, left me with one white mana and two Wraths and a Rout in hand against a whole frikkin’ horde of DJ’s Fires critters. On Game Two, the DJ just swept me away with a too-fast horde.
I could still make it into Top Four if I won my next match. Round Four was against a CounterRebel player, and I figured this might be a tough matchup. The games were long, but I managed to have a WHOLE lot more counters than he did, and global removal is some good. After it was all said and done, I was in the Top Four.
Now, here’s where the REAL combo deck came in, piloted by Greg Porter. It took me a while to figure out what was going on, but I eventually got it. Here’s my point of view: He goes first, which is a HUGE advantage against my deck. Therefore, he gets out an Orcish Artillery, and I need to save my counters for”better” things. Then, he put Spirit Link on it, making it a 1/3 Nether Spirit blocker that tapped to deal two damage and gain him two life. And then, he played a Blood Hound. So, he taps to deal two damage during my turn, gaining two life and making his Blood Hound a 4/4. He does it again on his turn, making his Blood Hound a 7/7 attacker. Ah! Well, I Wrathed next turn without mana open to counter from the sheer fear of Blood Hound beats. Because of my lack of counter-mana, he played a Static Orb. Ah! Slowly, slowly, I began to recover. I dug up Dismantling Blow for his Static Orb and another for his Seismic Assault (!). I managed to build up my resources until I scratched out a win.
For Game Two, I boarded in Millstones and the Aura Fracture. I got out a Millstone, but he snuck a Static Orb into play, forcing me to be very conservative with my Milling. I managed to Blow his Orb (get your mind out of the gutter!) and regain control. A whole lot of Milling goin’ on won me the game, but just barely. That was a close match!
Okay, so I made it to the finals. I was sparring off against DJ’s Fires deck again, the one that had beaten me soundly in Round Three. I offered to split the box, but DJ’s on a team in which they share their prizes, and his team was unwilling to compromise. Just as he had before, DJ squashed me in game one. Game Two, however, I drew just the right amount of removal and a Millstone to start winning. I Milled away an Obliterate, and I was hoping to get rid of the rest of them, when he cast the game-altering spell. D’oh!… Or so I thought. Apparently, DJ wasn’t exactly ready to recover from the end of the world Â— and, because his Tectonic Instability was making me keep lands in my hand, I was. I got out another Millstone and went to town.
So we were 1-1, and the odds were really 50-50 on who could win. I REALLY wanted some Apocalypse product, so I asked his team again if they would split the prize. We agreed to let them have twenty-four packs, and I would have twelve packs and the points for winning the tourney.
So in actuality, Nether GoMar Something Something won its first tournament in my hands. I didn’t get much of anything good aside from a Prophetic Bolt, but I later used that to trade for a couple of the new painlands in a trade that helped me on my way to completing my goal of collecting four of each of the new painlands.
Well, there you have it Â— my two Magical experiences that are the first of their kind. I hope you’ve learned something, either about drafting chaos or taking complete control of a Magic game. Or if you haven’t learned anything, maybe at least you were able to revel in my temporary glory. Or not. Well, for whatever reason it may have been, you came with me this far, and I hope you’ll join me next week for a … special surprise.
* – My”d” key on my keyboard just died. How stupid is that??? Good thing I have some d’s already in place so I can copy and paste.**
** – That sentence as it was typed:”My”” key on my keyboar just ie. How stupi is that??? Goo thing I have some ’s alreay in place so I can copy an paste.” Kinda makes you appreciate d’s, huh?***
*** – The next day: The keyboard has been replaced, and I’m ready to go!
**** – Quick, of course, meaning after the twentieth turn or so.