Casual Fridays #54: Spot The Threat

EMERGENCY PREAMBLE: As I finish up this article Wednesday morning, I see that Signore Ferrett has just posted an article on…threat analysis in multiplayer. D’oh! But mine is better. No, not really; but it does have a fun quiz. And I use really cool words like "implicit" and "explicit"; Ferrett’s still chewing on the plural…

EMERGENCY PREAMBLE: As I finish up this article Wednesday morning, I see that Signore Ferrett has just posted an article on…threat analysis in multiplayer. D’oh! But mine is better. No, not really; but it does have a fun quiz. And I use really cool words like "implicit" and "explicit"; Ferrett’s still chewing on the plural of "wumpus." (I believe that the plural follows the construction of "goose/geese", ergo wumpus/weempus".)

So remember, when you vote in November: Alongi gives you fun quizzes. Ferrett, no fun quizzes. Alongi, cool words. Ferrett, uncool words. Alongi, compassionate conservatism.* Ferrett, cruel liberalism.


It should not come as any great surprise to any of you that the other players in our Magic group, very occasionally, only when completely necessary, and so rarely that you wouldn’t notice if you weren’t looking really closely… well, they hit me pretty hard.

This is both true and not true, in that our group hits everyone hard. We relax a bit on the newer players, but anyone who’s been playing with us for longer than six months gets little mercy. To a player who presents multiple threats in a row, it can seem rather harrowing. And our rough practices have, here and there, inspired a short conversation or two among ourselves.

Listening to all of those conversations (and okay, participating in a couple), it struck me that what I was often hearing was two or three very divergent views as to what/who the threat was on the board. For example, a young man in a five-way game feels that he has been rather inconspicuous. Nevertheless, in three games straight he is the first one out and notices rather concerted effort by the other four to that end. One of two things is happening here: First, the other four players may be trying to send him a message that they don’t want him around. (This is, incidentally, immature. A better way of sending a message is sitting the guy down and telling him what’s bothering you. Passive aggression should be a last resort, if a resort at all.)

Second, the young man may not be as inconspicuous as he claims. If he’s playing a well-worn combo deck, simply playing mountains, plains, and a tell-tale CoP:Red and saying "I’m not a threat!" is just not good enough. Yes, the CoP:Red is preventive, not aggressive. Yes, basic lands are incapable of attack on their own. But when you call your friends stupid for attacking you before you get all the pretty pieces into place, you are misjudging their intelligence as it is relative to your own.

On the other hand, perhaps that player has just made a new white-red deck that looks a lot like the old, combo-based one. Maybe CoP:Red is there because he’s expecting big burn in the metagame. There’s no Inferno, or Acidic Soil, or Earthquake waiting in the wings. Just a bunch of Sanctum Guardians and Duct Crawlers.

I’d like to give a quick primer on threats, and then check to see how much you’re paying attention with a fun little quiz that can test your intuition, analytic skills, and sense of humor.

WHAT ARE THREATS? Loosening the definition a bit from David Price excellent aggression/control analysis of legend, I’d like to define a "threat" as "anything that keeps you from ending up as the last one standing." A well-timed counterspell, a whiff of combo, a Berserked Lightning Ball with Blood Lust…they’re all threats. There are two categories to threats.

EXPLICIT THREATS. The first category contains the explicit threat. These are more often than not permanents, in full view of all players. (I suppose they can also be the six Counterspells you are holding with a Wandering Eye on the board.) A creature poised to attack, an artifact that can target a player with a nasty effect, an enchantment that makes it impossible to play certain creatures or spells…all of these qualify.

IMPLICIT THREATS. Implicit threats are, you may guess, more subtle. The number of cards you have in your hand with mana open, the creatures like Elvish Piper that can summon who-knows-what at instant speed, the second half of the combo that no one knows is lurking somewhere in your library.

Where most newer players get worked over – and understandably so, since who can learn all of the possible cards so quickly? – is in the implicit threats, especially in conjunction with explicit ones. I have a Squallmonger, you have a Serra Angel. You see I am at four life and have only two mana open. Good idea to attack and get me out of the game, right? So you attack me, I activate the monger for one, you laugh, then I sack a mountain and play a Thunderclap, and that is that.

So implicit threats are better, since you can’t see them? Not necessarily. A Seal of Fire can often do a lot more to warn off an attack than the possibility of a Shock. A Treetop Village on the board (with two other mana open) can usually do more than the Simian Grunts in your hand. And an active Nevinyrral’s Disk can just own the table.

Where most novice group players begin to become better ones is when they both anticipate the possibility of implicit threats, and come up with their own implicit threats to deal with other players’ explicit or implicit threats. In short English, that just means having some answers ready at all times – a Counterspell, an Incinerate, a Terror. And that in turn brings us to advice that is oft-repeated, but less oft-followed: Save those instant spells and effects until the last possible moment.

THE TEST. I say it at least once every four weeks, and in about half the emails I send in response to reader mail: Every group has their own dynamic. I don’t know what’s going on when your bud lays down a plains, then mountain. YOU guess, yours is the butt on the line. But I have not let my ignorance stop me from putting these scenarios, and possible solutions, forward. Do with them what you will.

For each of the following scenarios and questions, assume the following unless otherwise indicated:

* You are facing four other opponents (players B, G, R, and U). Guess what color each one of them specializes in. There may be color-splashing, but by and large they have the arsenals you’d expect at their disposal.
* You are the white mage. (Don’t take it personally.)
* You’re all playing Type I decks with 60+ cards.
* Everybody’s at 20 life, zero poison counters, and at least thirty cards in their library at the time you make your decision.
* It is the beginning of your first main phase at the time you make the decision.
* All creatures and artifacts are untapped at the time you make the decision.
* To start, assume all other players are tapped out with no alternative-casting cost cards in their hand when you make your decision. (Don’t worry; we’ll relax this condition quickly.)

SCENARIO ONE contains questions one through four. For all four of these questions, the following apply:

Player B has a Grave Pact, a Black Knight, a Wall of Souls, and a Bottle Gnomes out.
Player G has a Quicksilver Amulet, a Verdant Force, two saproling tokens, and Spidersilk Armor out.
Player R has a Warmonger, a Ghitu War Cry, a Shivan Dragon, and a Wall of Stone out.
Player U has a Legacy’s Allure with six counters on it, a Millstone, and a Whetstone. She has two islands untapped but you know for a fact she has no Counterspell ability in her deck.
You have an Archangel, a Serra Avatar, and a Claws of Gix out. (Jerk.)
Because of a recent Tectonic Break, you only have four plains. They are all untapped as you enter your first main phase.
You have Swords to Plowshares, two Disenchant, Paladin en-Vec, Congregate, a Wall of Resistance, and Land Tax in your hand.


1) What permanent is the most harrowing for you right now?

2) What player is the most likely threat to the green mage in the near future?

3) Is Land Tax a good idea right now?

4) When is the best time to Congregate?


What Permanent Is The Largest Threat To You Right Now?
Two-month players will answer "the Verdant Force", but you don’t exactly care about that right now, not too much anyway. After all, you can always block it with the Avatar, or Swords it in a pinch. The Quicksilver Amulet is actually more menacing-if he has a Beast of Burden or something similar coming down the road, it will be big in front of all those Saprolings. And the Spidersilk Armor is more threatening than it may look at first: the green mage is the only player that can stop BOTH of your creatures in an attack, right now.

Other young players may focus on the Shivan Dragon. Annoying, yes: Impossible, no. Your Archangel doesn’t tap when it attacks, so you have a flying defense. And again, you have that Swords…

The Legacy’s Allure isn’t that fun-if the blue mage decides to go for your Archangel, you have to either let it go or sack it to your Claws of Gix. Either way, you won’t see it anymore. On the other hand, as long as you keep one mana open, U is unlikely to bet her precious growing enchantment on a creature that won’t be around for her upon resolution. She’s eyeing the Verdant Force, only one turn away.

The Black Knight’s annoying, right? And it’s looking right at you. Protection from white, so you can’t block it or Swords it. Definitely a consideration. But it’s only 2/2; it’s not like you can or need to do anything about it right now; and if he attacks with it next turn, you can maneuver into a situation to win the game in a single counteroffensive with the Avatar. (Note that a fabulous implicit threat here combined with the Knight is Hatred, not commonly played in multiplayer games but certainly worth a laugh if it takes out a white mage with a Serra Avatar.)

What about the Warmonger? It blends direct and creature damage, which is not fun for a white mage. Every time you get nicked, it will hit your Avatar as well-in effect, it takes double damage. So ten damage in a single turn would destroy it. But for now, everyone’s tapped out; and even if everyone were untapped, after a Tectonic Break few players are likely to spend precious mana on a dubious (and ultimately futile) effort.

The Warmonger, and everything else, pale in comparison to the Grave Pact. All the black mage needs is another Bottle Gnomes and you are effectively forced into an alliance with him. That is to say, you will never attack him until you are ready to lose both of your creatures.

If you have a Scour in your deck, maybe you want to wait. Otherwise, you want to Disenchant that Grave Pact before B untaps. Never mind the possibility of a Terror for your second creature: right now, the Pact is a threat to one of your creatures. Do you want to wait until it threatens two of your creatures (at which point the Terror, if he has it, can still be used on a third)?

Right now, the black mage and his Grave Pact are the largest thorns in your side. The Black Knight just makes you hate him more. Your best course of action is to attack the black mage, and wax the Grave Pact in response to damage going on the stack.

What Player Is The Most Likely Threat To The Green Mage In The Near Future?
This may sound irrelevant at first, but it’s not. Figuring out who’s a threat not just to you, but to other players is a helpful skill in multiplayer. Without saying a word, you can reinforce other players’ (correct or incorrect) perception of who deserves to get hit.

Right now, who is the green mage looking at? Let’s start with the black mage, your current nemesis. Looking at explicit threats only (i.e. ignoring possibility of Terrors or multiple Verdant Force), B’s Grave Pact can’t possibly keep up with G’s tokens. That’s not an unqualified pass-implicit threats run the gamut from Perish to Living Death-but it’s enough to look at other players and see who might hit harder, sooner.

The red mage is certainly a good candidate. The Warmonger can burn away the tokens at a moment’s notice, even with a Spidersilk Armor out. On an implicit level, R is more likely than B to have instant artifact removal to target the Quicksilver Amulet-and if R is playing stuff like Tectonic Break, low-mana methods of bringing out big creatures are likely to get hit sooner rather than later.

The blue mage, however, is perhaps the most immediate threat in the short run. As of her next upkeep, she will be able to steal the Verdant Force at instant speed without using any mana. However, in the long run, U isn’t winning with Force/token beatdown. She’s counting on milling everyone out. And green ought to be able to move faster. So it’s not certain that beyond the Allure, U has much to make G worry.

Now let’s look at YOU. You have the only creature larger than the Verdant Force. More worringly to G, you likely have implicit threats that either put him on a four-turn clock (Disenchant the Spidersilk Armor, attack with Archangel) and/or twist his path to victory into life gain (Congregate). Of course he doesn’t know you have these things, but YOU do, and right now, from what you know, YOU are his largest threat.

Fortunately for you, the other three players aren’t looking too slouchy either, so it’s an easy matter for you to deflect G’s attention to…hmmm…R looks best right now. More on that in a moment.

Is Land Tax a Good Idea Right Now?
It depends on your objectives and the rest of your deck; but it’s not the worst idea I’ve heard of. It costs only one mana, and it thins your deck (note the light synergy with the Avatar). If you play it, you will still have mana to Disenchant the Grave Pact (or something else), plus one more mana to activate the Claws of Gix if the blue mage gets hungry for your Archangel.

The drawback is, of course, that with less cards in your deck, you will be the first target for U. She will seek to mill your Disenchants and make you reluctant to Tax out lands capable of pushing out more threats.

So keep that in the back of your head: See B out of the game first, or at least neutralize him. Then concentrate on U. As long as you have an Avatar and Congregate, you can cope with G. That leaves R. With luck, G will worry about R more than he worries about you.

When Is The Best Time To Congregate?
Never. There is no best time to Congregate. It’s a cheap-butt card and you’ll never get me to admit otherwise. Shame on you for playing it.

But if you must, please note that as soon as G has enough tokens to really eat at you (ten or more), you ought to leave four (and preferably five, if Legacy’s Allure is still out) mana open at all times. You Congregate when (1) the attack comes or (2) the tokens are about to take lethal damage from the Warmonger. Of course, if G attacks R too hard too early, that may happen before you have all the right mana in place. But like I said, you shouldn’t be playing with Congregate anyway.

SCENARIO TWO contains questions five through eight. For all four of these questions, the following apply:

Player B has a Phyrexian Plaguelord, a Dauthi Slayer, a Breeding Pit, and three Thrull tokens out. Oh, and a Subversion. All eight of his swamps are tapped.
Player G has three Priests of Titania, two Llanowar Druids, an Eladamri, a Rofellos, and a Chimeric Staff out. He also has two mountains to go with his six forests, all tapped for now.
Player R has two Walls of Diffusion, an Avatar of Fury, and a Viashino Heretic out. Two of his eight mountains are untapped.
Player U has a Wall of Fog, a Phantom Monster, and an untapped Nevinyrral’s Disk out. Six of her eight islands are untapped. She has demonstrated Counterspell ability already this game, waxing an attempt of yours to Disenchant the Disk.
You have two Mother of Runes, an Ornithopter, an Angelic Chorus, and Mageta the Lion out.
You have eight plains. They are all untapped as you enter your first main phase.
You have another Mageta the Lion, two Mesa Pegasi, Miraculous Recovery, Purify, and an Ivory Mask in your hand.


5) Which player is the worst threat from your perspective? Which player is your best friend?

6) Suppose you decide to do something about that threat. What are the two most problematic instant-speed implicit threats you can think of? From what player(s)?

7) Come to think of it, the other mages could pull some pretty nasty stuff on you as well. Name two of the best implicit threats for each color besides white. (You can count the ones you just used.) They don’t have to be instant speed, but they do have to be castable before your next turn.

8) The red mage plays after you. At the beginning of his main phase he is holding a Ball Lightning, a Tectonic Break, and a Wildfire. What should he do?


Which Player Is The Worst Threat From Your Perspective? Which Is Your Best Friend?
The critical part of this answer is, everybody can really wreck you within a turn, and that’s just with what’s on the board.

Let’s start with the threat you probably care least about: The black mage. Subversion is bothersome but with your Angelic Chorus, you can keep pace. As for your creatures? Honestly, you’re not expecting to hang on to those Mothers of Runes, are you? At instant speed, he can sack a token to threaten a Mother, sack another to your response of protecting her, sack another to your response of protecting her (again), and then off the Slayer to get rid of the second one. (There are other ways this could unfold; if B was insistent and altrustic enough, he might get Mageta off the board depending on your priorities.) The chances that B will go through all of this when you have a Renewal available are low. There are lots of other juicy targets for him to hit.

Like the green mage. Two mountains means Rolling Thunder capability, and there’s enough mana there to take two players at 20 life out of the game once his turn starts. Never mind the Chimeric Staff! Whether you see G as a threat depends on how badly you beat him last game, and how much you rubbed it in. But all things being equal, G is your number one threat. He’s forcing you to consider putting the Ivory Mask down before you want to (that is, at nine mana, when you can power Mageta as well), or hope that the black mage will focus his thrulls on Eladamri and (then) various elves. That would mean the black mage wants to take one for the team, in a serious way.

Maybe the black mage will leave removal to the blue mage. That Disk looks a little twitchy with all this stuff on the board, and with mana open the best time for U to act would be before G untaps. Your Miraculous Recovery can get Mageta back before your next turn, if you keep the mana open. Or maybe you’ll just play your second one. Either way, the Disk hurts others more than it hurts you. Heck, you ought to have two or three of these things in YOUR deck. What were you thinking???

But the blue mage might not stick to your timing. It’s probable U knows that G won’t hit her, not right away. G killing U first would mean the Disk goes off, which means he won’t be able to reload for whoever’s left. U has G in a bit of a trap, which means the two of them will act roughly in concert.

So you need an unwilling friend, like U has. No, not B. (Though that wouldn’t hurt.) Take a look at R. He has a Viashino Heretic, ready to blow something up. He doesn’t have a real reason to go after the Disk yet, but you could give him one.

After your uneventful turn, but before R’s turn, you activate Mageta and wipe all creatures from the board. The Heretic looks at B’s Breeding Pit and Subversion, G’s Staff, your Chorus, and U’s Disk, and decides correctly to take these beauties out with him. It fires off for the Disk. U activates the Disk and takes everything else with her.

Suppose You Decide To Do Something About That Threat. What Are The Two Most Problematic Instant-Speed Implicit Threats You Can Think Of? From What Player(S)?
My first vote goes to Natural Affinity, from the green mage. He taps Rofellos or a Priest, gets the mana he needs (in fact he could cast four of these with creatures alone, if he has the cards in hand), and turns some poor sap’s lands into creatures, to be done away with by the Disk (or Mageta). That poor sap will almost certainly be you. Don’t expect the blue mage to help you out, either.

The second vote goes to Interdict, from the blue mage. A rotten card, yes, and I wouldn’t expect it either; but what it would do! Played on the Viashino Heretic, it would keep the Disk-and therefore the Staff, Chorus, Subversion, and Pit-alive. Other creatures are dead and you keep Mageta, but now that sucker’s tapped, and you’re looking at an 8/8 Staff the next opportunity G gets.

Come To Think Of It, The Other Three Mages Could Pull Some Pretty Nasty Stuff On You As Well. Name Two Of The Best Instant-Speed, Implicit Threats For Each Of Them, As Well.
For G, beyond Natural Affinity (and related cards) I’d worry about the burn he’s doubtless holding in his hand. It’s not so scary now, but he can get started with a Rolling Thunder for three with buyback…and then all he needs is to drop two or three more elves…

U’s second nastiest threat would be Evacuation, played at instant speed after the Disk’s effect goes on the stack. Creatures leave (including the Staff, which G can activate), artifacts and enchantments blow, Mageta’s effect is worthless. Now look into the future and weep: You have no mana to do anything else the rest of the turn, everyone lays down their creatures again, glare at you as you either play Mageta again or Purify on your next turn, and then take a round of free shots at you.

R’s two wishes are: Sneak Attack, which he can lay down and activate four times with the land he has; and Wake of Destruction, which he can use to effectively take someone out of the running. (Hint: he’ll pick you.)

B’s hoping he put either Contamination (and another Breeding Pit) or Avatar of Woe in his deck.

There are many other possible answers, of course, depending on the situation and your tastes. Living Death from B, four Fireblasts from R, Sunder from U, and many others are all possible.

The Red Mage Plays After You. At The Beginning Of His Main Phase He Is Holding a Ball Lightning, a Tectonic Break, And a Wildfire. What Should He Do?
Assuming the Board has been cleared of non-land permanents, R really can do whatever suits his tastes here. He’ll gauge the strength of the players that remain-everything else equal, threats from experienced players are worse than threats from novices. For example, if G is a seasoned player, R knows that G is holding a bunch of elves in his hand and is waiting to lay them out again. That means saving the Wildfire for after the next wave is on the board.

In fact, with a Tectonic Break in hand, there’s little reason to play the Wildfire right now. If R perceives you and/or U as the worst threat because of your high-mana control strategies, maybe he’ll throw out a Break to wipe out four or five lands and see if U counters it. Hey, he’s got a Wildfire for later, why not?

In any event, the Ball Lightning is coming out, and it’s nearly certainly going to hit you. You’ve shown lifegain capability, creature-wiping instincts, and just general white mage sleaziness. If R is very confident, he might go after G instead.

SCENARIO THREE contains questions nine through thirteen. For all four of these questions, the following apply:

Player B has an Abyss, a Wall of Junk, and a Juggernaut out. Four of six swamps tapped.
Player G has a Concordant Crossroads, an Eladamri’s Vineyard, two Weatherseed Treefolk, a Fallow Wurm, and a Cradle Guard out. Three of five forests tapped.
Player R has a Wall of Stone and a Flowstone Wall out. All six mountains untapped.
Player U has a Morphling and a Glacial Wall out. Three of six islands untapped.
You have nothing out, except for six plains. They are all untapped as you enter your first main phase.
You have a Moment of Silence (boooooo!), two Swords to Plowshares, a Disenchant, and two Humbles in your hand.
It is not your turn. Player G is about to announce his attack phase. Under your group’s rules, you do not declare attackers/attacked players until it is too late to stop the attack.
You are the player to G’s left, so your turn is next. U will be next, and then R. B is the player to G’s immediate right.


9) Before G goes into attack phase, do you play the Moment of Silence or not?

10) Suppose you don’t play the Moment of Silence. (Otherwise I can’t do three more questions!) G sends one Weatherseed Treefolk at B, one Weatherseed Treefolk at U, and the Cradle Guard at you. He passes priority; you’re next for fast effects. Got anything? Then, after you’re done, who’s blocking with what?

11) Each of the other mages has one ace card they’re dying to play during this combat. What’s your best guess on that card for each mage?

12) Continue with the scenario as you’ve played it out. Any fast effects after blocking is declared? After damage is on the stack?

13) When is the best time to Disenchant the Abyss?


Let me just start here by saying there are about a billion ways you could go for all four questions.

Before G Goes Into Attack Phase, Do You Play the Moment Of Silence Or Not?
I hope you didn’t overthink this one.

Hell, yes, play the Moment of Silence while you still can? Even if G guesses that you have some removal, you are still his best bet. If he attacks U, B, or R, he gets one creature stalemated, probably loses one creature, and pokes through for five to ten. If he attacks you, he loses no creatures, nothing gets stalemated, and you get tagged for 18.

If you don’t play Moment of Silence, you may easily feel forced to play both Swords this turn to keep your life out of the red zone. Humble and Disenchant will do you no good. This is one of the few times when you will be glad you put Moment of Silence in your deck… for crying out loud, play it play it play it!

Suppose You Don’t Play The Moment Of Silence. G Sends One Weatherseed Treefolk at B, One Weatherseed Treefolk At U, The Cradle Guard at R, And The Fallow Wurm at You. He Passes Priority; You’re Next For Fast Effects. Got Anything? Then, After You’re Done, Who’s Blocking With What?
Well, it looks like G missed the boat here by not concentrating on you…or maybe he’s smart and figures you could make life miserable for him if he went at you when you have six open plains.

You have options here, of course. But right now no action may be your best bet. You can predict the blocks pretty easily. You don’t expect U to subject her Morphling to a blocking assignment…the possibilities are too scary. (A simple pumping of the attacking Treefolk would be enough to cause major problems.) And you figure B will save his Juggernaut for attack. R,U, and B have suitable walls for blocking. Looks like a bunch of stalemates, maybe some interesting things will happen with the Flowstone Wall.

You have plenty of time to deal with the Wurm, if you really want. And no one else has shown their hand. You wait.

Almost certainly, blocking will end up: U with Glacial Wall, R with Flowstone Wall, B with Wall of Junk.

ALTERNATE ANSWER: Play Swords to Plowshares on the Glacial Wall, to force U to decide to take the damage or risk the Morphling as a blocker. If you do this, how cool would it be if U spent two precious blue mana countering the spell? But most experienced blue mages will let the attacker through, especially if they’re at 20 life.

Each Of The Other Mages Has One Ace Card They’re Dying To Play During This Combat. What’s Your Best Guess On That Card For Each Mage?
G is the most transparent. Sure, it could be a bluff, but with three tramplers likely to face three different walls, who wouldn’t want a little pumping action? Two Giant Growths, an Invigorate (via alternate casting cost), and even Wild Might are all possibilities. Heck, maybe G has a Shrink fetish and he’s waiting to see the Flowstone Wall pump.

R is always pretty predictable. Burn, right? Pick your poison. He has six open mountains; that’s a potential 24 damage right there. (Four Bolts, three Blasts.) A more reasonable prediction would be, say, a Bolt and an Incinerate.

B’s blocking with a bouncing Wall, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a Terror for something more serious down the road. (And why waste a Terror on a recurring creature?) Maggot Therapy doesn’t get much play in serious constructed games, but wouldn’t it work wonders on just about any creature involved in this combat?

Misdirection is burning a hole in U’s hand. Expect it.

Continue With The Scenario as You’ve Played It Out. Any Fast Effects After Blocking Is Declared? After Damage Is On The Stack?
You use Swords to Plowshares on anything that pumps, as the pump goes on the stack. You use Humble on anything that did not pump, after it survives combat and has taken at least one damage. (Best targets are the Weatherseed Treefolk, who don’t keep their recursion ability as they hit the graveyard. Stay, tree, stay!)

When Is The Best Time To Disenchant The Abyss?
If your deck is creature-based (and you’re just unlucky with the cards you have in your hand), the Abyss is certainly one of the largest threats on the board for you, long term.

But separate that fact out from how it is hurting you relative to other players. You have no creatures right now to lose to the Abyss. If you draw a creature that costs more than four mana next turn (leaving two for a Disenchant), you are not playing that creature until you draw another one. While you wait for that second creature, the Abyss is helping you out by thinning the ranks of your opponents.

Unless your group dynamic is so anti-Abyss that Disenchanting it would guarantee you a reprieve from massive attacks and damage for about three or four turns, your best bet is to watch it do its work and shrug when people ask you where your Disenchants are.

Once you get two creatures on the board, if you feel you can cope with whatever else is out there, wax the Abyss before your next turn.

FOR FUTURE QUIZ CONSIDERATION: There’s still much to explore here, especially implicit threats and combo maneuvers. This is going long, though, and after a while quizzes stop being fun and seem more like…well…tests. So I’ll save the rest for later, and see what kind of feedback I get from this.

Disagree with any of the questions or answers? Hey, go ahead and write in. Let’s talk about it. I’ll post and/or paraphrase the more intelligent responses in a future article. Also coming soon: is Casual Fridays all I have in me? Am I capable of nothing more? Find out…next week.

Anthony Alongi
[email protected]

* – This is my first asterisked footnote attempt in 54 Casual Fridays. I did it to save space above, but this doesn’t feel quite right. I’ll try it anyway…I just wanted to let you know that just because I used the phrase "compassionate conservatism", it doesn’t mean I plan on voting for George W. (stands for "Would Anyone Know Me If It Weren’t for My Daddy?") Bush. Nor am I an automatic supporter of Gore. My politics are…oh, forget this footnote crap. I can’t stand it. How do Boydell and Ferrett LIVE WITH THEMSELVES? Does anyone even REMEMBER THE ORIGINAL REFERENCE POINT on these things? I’m outta here…