Casual Magic At Its Best

…and Matt Eddleman, and Israel Marques. The all-multiplayer day continues with a 5 Color Chaos Multiplayer report from three separate players!

Last time, I promised you a report the likes of which you’ve never seen. Well, here it is. Last week, two of my friends, Israel Marques (of Star City fame) and Matt Eddleman (of Scrye fame) came to my humble abode to experiment with a new casual format. I must tell you, it turned out to be a great success! Take 250-card decks, put three of them together, and then mix in chaos rules, and what do you get? Our Saturday evening! We mixed Five, Chaos Magic, and multiplayer together to get a crazy format. Unfortunately, only three players could make it…But we had a great time nonetheless.

In order to give you an idea of the wackiness that can go on, we’ve decided to share with you our experience in report form, detailing the match (which lasted as long as a small tournament). However, my perspective alone can’t capture the essence of the experience – so therefore, Matt and Israel will be piping in with their additions throughout the article. You’ll see Matt’s comments in italics and Israel’s in bold print. So, without further ado, I bring you our match!

First, let’s start off with the decks. Instead of listing all 800 cards of our combined decks, how about I give you the gist of it? I thought you might appreciate that. My deck was RandomCards.dec. Those random cards were pretty good, though. I had to prepare my Five deck quickly, and instead of searching through my disorganized tub of commons, my first step in deckbuilding was to go through my binders in order to pull out more convenient cards. Therefore, more than half my deck is rare (albeit normally crappy rares). Israel’s deck is some sort of Reanimator deck with lots of goodies such as dual lands, Birds, expensive Apocalypse rares, etc. The logic behind this being, of course, if you’re going to play make sure you play right. Besides I was hoping to negotiate a tradeback deal if I lost a pricey rare. Too bad we grabbed a Blinding Angel for ante. Just a Blinding Angel! Gahh! Matt’s deck was the strangest of them all. He brought with him a functioning Enchantress deck! Five-Color Enchantress!!! Oh yeah! The funny thing is the fact that it works. Of course, it wouldn’t have worked in a duel (I’d have to tune it a bit first), but with Israel and me both in the contest, Matt figured he had a chance for the win.

To begin, we drew antes from the decks. I coughed up a Denying Wind (one down, two to go), while Israel saw a Blinding Angel leave his deck (For which I was incredibly grateful) Luckily for us, Matt lost a Verduran Enchantress from his engine to the Ante Gods. This is a perfect example of the Eddleman Luck. It’s consistent, all right; consistently bad. Since Daniel had the highest casting-cost ante card, the turn order became Daniel-Matt-Israel. Additionally, our first Chaos Enchant World Land was City of Solitude, which made sure no one could cast a spell on someone else’s turn. (For more information about Chaos Magic, view my article on the subject or take a look at the Chaos Magic Homepage.

The first turns of the game started out slowly, with Matt and I each getting rollfork counters, allowing us to copy any roll. Israel started out with force, casting Entomb to go hunting for a hefty creature to stick into his graveyard for reanimation. On my second turn, I rolled Storm Seeker, punishing Israel for his insolence by dealing him six damage. Not too shabby. Needless to say, the next few minutes have to be censored for our younger audience. Matt also castigated Israel by giving his rolled Creeping Mold to Israel (I destroyed his land) and casting a Thran Foundry, which could wreck Israel’s strategy at the drop of a hat. I made sure I had him under control. Israel followed up with a rollfork counter of his own, as well as playing an Ivory Tower – which, upon looking at the life totals, stayed in play for quite a while. Oh yes, there are several reasons that Ivory Tower was banned in Extended in its day and is restricted in Type 1. Not all of them are Necropotence-related.

So, we were off to a relatively slow start, but things were soon to pick up. My Patience (a life-altering roll) didn’t spice things up; however, Matt’s roll of Demonic Tutor(!) (!!!) evoked a round of”Oooooh!” (Again Israel’s reaction must be censored) – his play of an Argothian Enchantress (yes!) got things rolling. A couple turns later, Matt decided to do me a favor (I didn’t mean to…) by rolling Turntwister, which allows the person who takes the next turn to be randomly chosen until the person who rolled Turntwister goes again. After his turn, which included playing two Fertile Grounds and drawing several extra cards, was over, Matt passed it off to Israel. Israel didn’t do much, and randomly assigned me to go next. Here, the fun began.

But before Daniel has too much fun, let’s talk about a subject that’s near and dear to the hearts of every man, woman, and child that plays Magic: Manascrew. One of the worst things about playing 5 color magic is that between the 250 card decks and the requirement to play a minimum of 18 cards of each color, mana screw is not only inevitable, but it happens a lot… Especially when you run two primary colors with splashes of everything else. At this point in the game, I was staring at a handful of black reanimator spells, a few green cards, and a Wall of Roots. Needless to say, my deck was royally sucking.

I started by getting into play an Ertai, Wizard Adept, which I later discovered was none too good for Matt – for his win condition is a sweeping X direct damage spell. I don’t like things like Ertai. To give you an idea of how screwed I was at this point, I almost danced when Daniel got the little guy in play. I also played a Feldon’s Cane (At this point, the game couldn’t get much worse) and passed the turn to… Me! My chaos roll resulted in the destruction of City of Solitude and replaced it with Circle of Life, which allows non-sacrificed cards that would go to the graveyard to phase out instead. Looks like my Ertai would stick around for a while! Not having much else to do, I passed the turn to… Me again! On my third fifth turn, I rolled a Conquer, targeting Matt’s land with two Fertile Grounds on it. Matt forked my roll and stole his land back. Whew! Feh. Having a very expensive deck, I passed my turn again, and this time it went to… Matt. Finally.

Matt began to show us what he could do, first by having everyone gain three life from a Global Stream of Life. Then, he proceeded to cast Wild Growth, Cloud of Faeries, Verduran Enchantress, Soothsaying, Whispers of the Muse, and Impulse… All of which except for the Soothsaying hit play uncountered. In all fairness, Matt ended up with mana burn at the end of his turn. Just a point, no problem. Nothing else impressive happened until Israel rolled Storm Seeker Too, dealing seven damage to himself, resetting the work of the Ivory Tower of the past several turns. He recovered by casting Ring of Gix. Let this be a lesson to you: Never hijack someone else’s luck (namely Matt’s, or anyone like him). It tends to lead to some really bad juju. Fortunately, playing the Ring kept allowed me to stay alive a little longer by making sure that both Matt and Daniel wanted me alive to screw over the other guy.

Matt once again made two enemies during his next turn by dealing me two damage with his chaos roll, casting Radiant’s Dragoons, and attacking me with his Cloud of Faeries. Coming to my rescue, Israel rolled Stupor, targeting Matt and taking out a Blastoderm and Recover. The Blastoderm was chosen, and the Recover was random. Normally I wouldn’t have targeted him, but Radiant’s Dragoons is incredibly abusive with the”Circle of Life Enchant World” in play. (Daniel’s Sidenote: Actually, Circle of Life doesn’t apply to sacrificed permanents, and non-payment of echo results in a sacrifice… But Israel’s mistake was my good fortune.) When asked after randomly discarding the Recover if he’d discarded the ‘Derm with the hopes of Recovering it, Matt sullenly answered yes.

Holding my own, I rolled Fissure on my next turn, taking out Matt’s doubly-Fertile land. (Argh! However…) Just before dropping it into the graveyard, Matt remembered Circle of Life, claiming that his land and all the enchantments would phase out. Checking the Chaos List affirmed his claims, much to my disappointment. (HaHA!) However, admittedly, it made the game much more interesting (As you shall see…). I played a Ring of Gix of my own and passed the turn.

On his next turn, Matt decided to totally break himself by rolling in three new Enchant World Lands, all of which helped him. After seeing Locomotion Drain, Mana Flare, and City of Solitude, Israel and I were depressed to know that only walls could attack, all lands produced more mana, and there was nothing we could do to stop Matt on his turn. Locomotion Drain is definitely some bad when everyone has over forty life and your main win condition happens to be non-wall permanents. This was looking grim (very grim; I had two Enchantresses out), although I was at least partially happy for the Locomotion Drain, as I had virtually no creatures out. Wanting nothing to do with handing Matt the game, I promptly played and bought back Allay, destroying the City of Solitude. So Ertai could work. Argh. Matt’s statement after reading Allay was absolutely priceless.

Matt, deciding to gain yet more life, dropped a Dragoons into play after putting some creatures in the grave to be affected by his recursion later on. For some reason, he played a Blastoderm, though it couldn’t attack. Israel had some things out, and I was anticipating the destruction of the Locomotion Drain pretty soon. Actually Matt’s assessment was really optimistic. At this point, I still had out jack squat of importance. On Israel’s turn, I gave myself some insurance by countering Israel’s Masticore. However, I should have known that all Israel would do would be recurse it later on in the game. Over and over again… In retribution, the Chaos Gods decided to deny me a draw step, so I had to pass my turn to Matt while retaining the position of weakest player. Matt rolls in Concordant Crossroads, giving all creatures haste – yet they still couldn’t attack!

Despite the current non-threatening nature of creatures in general, we all knew that the Locomotion Drain could be destroyed at any moment. Israel was forced to act on this notion when he rolled Chain Lightning. He killed my Cetavolver, and Matt forked it to kill my Ertai. In response, I threw the Lightning back at Matt’s Verduran Enchantress (gahh!) who passed it on to Israel’s weakened, pro-white Wall of Roots. At the end of Israel’s turn, having nothing better to do, I Allayed one of Matt’s Fertile Grounds. I was low on blue at this point, so this really sucked.

On my turn, more bad luck came to me, as I rolled Eureka, allowing any permanents in hand to drop into play. I, who was holding a fistful of enchantment removal, could drop nothing. Luckily, Matt also had nothing, but Israel had plenty to do. He dropped into play an Animate Dead, getting back his Masticore, as well as Spiritmonger, Predator, Flagship, and Sterling Grove. On my turn, I found it imperative to cast my Yawgmoth’s Will, getting back Ertai, Cetavolver, and Ring of Gix. Additionally, at the end of Matt’s turn, I used my Feldon’s Cane on Israel’s graveyard to send his Squee packing. Infinitely-fed Masticores are very bad for my deck. Of course, I can’t get away with anything, so Israel promptly killed my only threatening creature, my twice-destroyed Cetavolver.

At this point, I’m going to hijack the article again with some gratuitous theory. Most players would’ve figured that Ertai was more threatening than a 3/3 Cetavolver (only one kicker was paid) under Locomotion Drain. However, at this point in the game I still had my Ring of Gix, so I could keep Daniel from countering my spells. In addition, I could also end the threat as a response at any time by pinging with my Masticore. Unfortunately, at this point in the game Daniel and I both knew that Matt’s win condition consisted of some random X-direct damage spells. At this point, I made the decision to leave the Ertai to function as a balance of power. Multiplayer is very similar to International Coalition Politics; in both cases, each player (or government) has a very limited amount of power – unfortunately, that power is often not enough to deal with multiple opponents at the same time. The solution? Using others. At this point, I knew that Daniel would be waiting to counter Matt’s win condition, and that Matt would be really careful about casting anything important. As long as Daniel had Ertai, Matt couldn’t win without several X spells or a lot of removal. The reason this is good for me is that Daniel couldn’t let Matt kill me without losing his Ertai in the process (Masticore is always hungry) – thus, we achieved a balance of power. But more on all this in a later article, so let’s get back to the game… (Daniel’s Sidenote: Thanks, Israel…)

The next couple turns didn’t have too much action going on. I drew some cards.

Matt played a Disenchant. I can’t even remember what I hit with it, the turn was so boring.

Israel played Pulse of Llanowar. He found it with the Grove. Finally, some black mana! And after I cast most of the cards in my hand with Eureka anyway.

The difference between these three turns: Israel’s actually helped him! I knew that I could destroy his Pulse of Llanowar at any moment with the Allay in my hand – unfortunately, Israel also knew this and allowed his Masticore’s hungry gaze to settle upon my Ertai. Knowing we had a temporary alliance against Matt (since I was building up, getting ready to go off during the Locomotion Drain standstill), I let him keep his mana problems at bay. Well it was really more of a hostage situation, since I told Daniel in no uncertain terms that my Pulse of Llanowar’s health was tied directly to his Ertai via my Masticore. I wanted to keep the balance of power, but I needed Pulse of Llanowar to make up for my total lack of non-green mana (in a deck that’s base black and blue, no less!).

On my turn, however, with Israel tapped out, I decided to act against his Masticore with a brilliant play.(I cast Allay – and as Israel started to scoop his Pulse into the graveyard, I announced the target to be the Animate Dead currently keeping Masticore alive. I then cast Ashen Powder to take the Masticore. Drawing cards at the end of my turn for the Necropotence I had rolled that turn, I cast Soul Warden with my Quicksilver Amulet.

On Matt’s turn, he affirmed his position as King of Enchant World Lands, as he rolled – in addition to the ones already in play – an Aluren, which didn’t help my deck at all, but made Israel and Matt very happy. Israel rolled Ancestral Recall (which I should have forked with my rollfork counter, but I didn’t think of it) and, using Buried Alive and Entomb, dropped two Ashen Ghouls, a Tradewind Rider, and a Squee, Goblin Nabob into his graveyard. On my turn, I followed up with a big bag o’ nothing by rolling Calm Before the Storm, which would allow no chaos rolls until my next turn, after which there would be a round of double-chaos rolls. I also played my card-drawing engine, Rowen (all lands except for the Urzatron in my deck are basic). In the round of boredom, the only thing to happen was Matt’s Disenchanting of Israel’s Ring of Gix.

Back to my turn, I was pleased to roll Control Magic, getting hold of Israel’s Spiritmonger (which still couldn’t attack). Matt followed up with giving his Kird Ape forestwalk (with the roll Shortcut) since that was my only targetable creature at the time that didn’t already fly, and played a Verduran Enchantress. I got back my last one with Recover. At the end of Matt’s turn, I turned proactive, trying to destroy Israel’s Pulse of Llanowar and Predator, Flagship (which would kill my Ertai upon untapping); however, I never saw Matt’s two Rewinds coming, and I still can’t believe he helped Israel out like that! During this turn, Daniel had to step out for a few minutes, so Israel and I did a little bit of plotting; the key is that I convinced him that I was no threat at that point and that Daniel was, since he had both a Masticore and a Spiritmonger on his side and an Allay in his hand, which was probably headed for the Locomotion Drain. And by the way, countering his Allay and his Disenchant were both good plays for me, as the Predator did destroy Ertai and I permanently stopped the Allay action. To be perfectly honest, I let my annoyance get the best of me. I knew that Daniel was the dominant player and I figured that Matt couldn’t go off any time soon. Basically, I proposed an alliance and he accepted. His convincing just made me revise my estimate of how much I was going to help him. Just goes to show you that you should never leave to walk your dog when in a multiplayer group. (Daniel’s Sidenote: So the truth comes to light! They plotted against me all along! And Israel thought I was the strongest player? Apparently, he hadn’t taken a look at my hand while I was out… Oh well.)

On Israel’s turn, we all gained eight life, and Israel cast Ray of Command on my (his) Masticore via a chaos roll. During Israel’s upkeep, he”forgot” to pay the upkeep, sending it back to the graveyard (again)… And then he put into play two Ashen Ghouls (Not that they could attack, but they, like Nether Spirit, have a special place in my heart) – two life for me! Thanks, Soul Warden. That Soul Warden made a lot of difference during the game; he gained like twenty life off of it.

On my turn, I once again (incorrectly) turned on Israel by casting Denying Wind. In response, Israel cast Fact or Fiction twice, allowing his temporary ally to give him excellent piles. Well, I made sure that he got lots of cards, cards that didn’t hurt me, so I kept him away from stuff like Pernicious Deed. Out of spite, I pull three Masticores from Israel’s deck (which wreck me), two Pernicious Deeds (which wreck Matt) (Thanks, Daniel!) (Daniel’s Sidenote: Yeah, yeah…) a Treachery, and a Multani, Maro Sorcerer. Then, I cast Plague Wind (Mana Flare is nice), wiping the board of all creatures I don’t control. And I was getting ready to go off…This was one of the stupidest moves that either Daniel or I made all game, since he could’ve completely removed Matt’s win condition on that turn. But then again, Masticores are so good that you almost don’t need the rest of your deck. Whatever the case Daniel had some good reasons, just wish I could figure out what they were. (Daniel’s Sidenote: Actually, I assumed that Matt wouldn’t be able to pluck an Enchantress from his gargantuan deck. However…)

On Matt’s turn, he played another Verduran Enchantress! In disbelief, I commented on Matt’s uncanny ability to always have an Enchantress on the board. Matt simply replied,”I always have my girl at my side.” Israel, at the end of Matt’s turn, used Enlightened Tutor to search for Animate Dead. In the words of Matt,”Gahh!” That’s one good thing I can say about my deck. I was basically the Graveyard King the entire way through.

On Israel’s turn, he cast Treachery on my (his) Spiritmonger, played Vesuvan Doppleganger, copying Verduran Enchantress, Animated his Tradewind Rider (not good…), used Disturbed Burial to grab Royal Assassin, and took advantage of Aluren and Concordant Crossroads to immediately play an active Assassin. On the plus side, I gained three life! On the minus side, I had two potentially active Tradewind Riders and one of my little Ghoulish friends came back.

On my turn, I hoped that Israel wasn’t paying attention to all the rules, and I attempted to take control. I wasn’t about to let THAT happen, though. I played a Greel, Mind Raker, and Israel Impulsed in response, though he didn’t counter. I then played Kamahl. I knew perfectly well that I could lose this battle, but I hoped that Israel didn’t know that. I tapped Kamahl to kill the Assassin. In response, Israel tapped the Assassin to kill Kamahl, and then used his Tradewind Rider to bounce his Assassin. I allowed the bounce to resolve, and then I activated Greel. However, unfortunately for me, Israel played the Assassin in response, killing my Greel. Israel still had to discard his hand, though, so he cast Diabolic Edict on Matt, who countered it with a Power Sink. To finish off my turn, I played the last card in my hand: Cognivore. This beast turned out to be a 25/25 flying monster! And Israel had a Doppelganger, so I was beginning to sweat here, since as soon as the Locomotion Drain left play, I was sure to go down. Plus, I gained four more life! And this just goes to show you how much it pays to know your stack interactions in any and all formats.

Matt went off in a subdued sort of way by drawing what he calls his Shimmering Wings engine. It’s good stuff with an Enchantress out. Basically, it’s U: Draw a card. Buyback: U.”JUMBALAYA!” he exclaimed in exuberance. Yes,”Jumbalaya!” Matt played several enchantments, Dismantling Israel’s Predator in the meantime (why didn’t he just let me Disenchant it?). Well, one of my engines was going, and I was looking a lot more threatening, so I figured he would get rid of my Enchantress, which is NOT good for me. Israel rolled another Calm Before the Storm, and used his Doppleganger to copy Cognivore. If I still had any enchantment removal, I could have gotten rid of Locomotion Drain – as it was, that was all that was saving Matt’s sorry hide. And I was out of counters, so things were looking pretty grim if I couldn’t just go off and win soon. On my miserable turn, I cast a Rootwater Thief and passed to Matt.

On Matt’s turn, he again”went off” in a less subdued manner than before. At the end of the turn, he’d gotten himself two more Enchantresses, a Cloud of Faeries, an Urza’s Blueprints, a Propaganda, a Serra’s Sanctum(!), and a Lotus Vale. Gulps were heard from his opponents. They knew their time was quite limited.

Israel did nothing on his turn, and I ended our lives on my turn. That’s right. First, I rolled what looked to be great: three creatures from any graveyard under my control. I got Masticore (which Israel promptly destroyed with Swords to Plowshares, removing the fourth and final Masticore from the game), Ashen Ghoul, and Sengir Vampire. (Daniel’s Sidenote: Masticore’s intimidation factor can be noted by the above play with the additional information that I had zero cards in hand. Israel could have just let my upkeep roll around for the Masticore to do, but the fear of a possible Masticore on the board pushed him over the edge. Lesson: Put Masticore in your deck!) Unfortunately, I also rolled Lightning Round, which allowed a player to draw a card whenever he played a spell until my next turn. Israel and I cried,”Oh no!” as Matt exulted,”Oh yes!” Needless to say, it was not looking good for Our Heroes (Israel and me, at the time). Hey! How did I get to be the villain?!?! Because Combo is the Devil’s tool.

Matt’s two rolls resulted in Eureka (neither Israel nor I had hands), which allowed Matt to put Planar Portal into play (doh!), and Nevinyrral’s Li’l Disk, which Israel forked, to make us all sac two permanents of each type. Yes, the Portal was a D’oh! At this point, I was going to use the Portal to find Palinchron and just win, but the Disk effect made things a LOT less easy for me, since I lost the Portal as well as my Blueprints. As you can see, I occasionally have my moments of brilliance. However, it was not enough to stop Matt. Enter Matt’s mad experience with Enchantress decks… With Locomotion Drain for protection, Mana Flare for acceleration, Aluren for easy playing of creatures, and Lightning Round as an endless supply of cards, Matt was ready to go off. However, with a huge deck, and with no infinite-mana engine at the time, it was harder than he anticipated, and for a long time, he used his amazing amounts of mana just to support himself with his card draw, etc. I was also using my Serra’s Sanctum-Enchantress-Flickering Ward engine. Matt’s turn took forever – indeed, I got up and fixed us some dinner during his turn! And it was good stuff, too! However, after tons of plays, he had arranged himself in the perfect position. I had like forty cards in my HAND at this point. He Capsized a Fertile Ground so that he had one on both his Gaea’s Cradle (which I told Israel not to lend him before the game!) (Thanks, Israel!) and his Serra’s Sanctum. He then destroyed my Soul Warden. Thus, my infinite mana engine wouldn’t get him lots of life. From there, he could play a Cloud of Faeries for free (via Aluren), untapping his Cradle and Sanctum. Tapping them for mana, and a lot of it (including UU) allowed him to Capsize his Faeries. Truly, it was an infinite mana engine. Israel’s hand and my hand were both empty, so there was nothing we could do about it. Conceding to Matt the win, our amazing game was called to a close. And that’s the end of that chapter…After the game, I looked back at what I had discarded to Daniel’s Greel tricks. He had forced me to discard a Wheel of Fortune, along with several creature removal spells. My vote for the most ironic moment of the night was the fact that I probably could’ve kept both Daniel and myself alive if I had been able to cast it, since I was going to draw into a lot of removal. Ah, well; c’est la vie.

So there you have it: A near play-by-play of a most unique game of Magic from not one, but three authors! We hope you’ve enjoyed the experience. If you haven’t (or even if you have), please email me to let me know. If there’s enough interest, perhaps another article or two like this might grace the front page, though not with Multiplayer Chaos Five. We ARE multi-talented. The Internet can only hold so much wackiness! And be sure to check out more of my antics in the pages of SCRYE. Since we’re shamelessly promoting, I’d just like to say that I’ve been on a small hiatus from internet Magic for a while. But all things must come to an end, so expect a little something-something from me in the next few weeks. Until then, good luck with Extended season; it’s a killer.

Daniel Crane, [email protected]

Matt Eddleman, [email protected]

-Israel Marques, II, [email protected]

-Member, Team AWWAJALOOM