DCI, Ban Congregate In Multiplayer!

My, how I wish it was true. is amazing in multiplayer, really amazing – especially when one deck is pumping out two or three saproling tokens a turn. Hang on – I’m writing about multiplayer! Where’s the strategy? Where’s the Type II deck lists and history? Where’s a few choice words on Invasion? Team PhatBeats…

My, how I wish it was true. Congregate is amazing in multiplayer, really amazing – especially when one deck is pumping out two or three saproling tokens a turn.

Hang on – I’m writing about multiplayer! Where’s the strategy? Where’s the Type II deck lists and history? Where’s a few choice words on Invasion?

Team PhatBeats and a few other local players have been playing multiplayer Magic in the last few weeks. With no Type II tourneys for a couple of weeks and a Pre-release this weekend we’re all relaxing and playing purely for fun and, I must admit, the last few weeks have been great fun. So why not talk a little about it. Star City is, after all, the premier site for multiplayer Magic. (I try, despite my ungallant nonstance on cheating – The Ferrett)

This week was the first week we all got to play with pure multiplayer decks (other than Alan, who was too lazy and decided to play Sneak Attack instead – Sneak Attack works quite well in multiplayer; not as well as Wildfire, but well enough).

I put two of my favourite deck types together: Thallids attack! And Blue control. Thallids Attack! is pretty much always green with something else. I’ve played mono-green and green-white, so I put a green/black version together. For anyone interested, here’s the deck:

4x Thallid
4x Thorn Thallid
4x Thallid Devourer
2x Elvish Farmer
2x Norritt
2x Spore Flower
2x Femeref Archers
3x Feral Thallid
1x Gravedigger

Other spells (14):
2x Fungal Bloom
1x Demonic Tutor
1x Worldly Tutor
2x Gaea’s Blessing
1x Elven Cache
1x Regrowth
1x Overrun
1x Raise Dead
2x Desert Twister
2x Syphon Soul

Land (22):
4x Bayou
4x Land Grant
1x Thawing Glaciers
1x Gaea’s Cradle
3x Mishra’s Factory
6x Forest
1x Kjeldoran Outpost
1x Treetop Village
1x Heart of Yavimaya

I’ve played this with more Overruns and Giant Growths before now, but I was hoping to play a little cleverly and tried to build lots of redundancy in. If anyone gets rid of anything it’s pretty easy to try to get it back. The Archers and Norrit help against fliers and along with the Thorn Thallids, you should be able to do a lot of damage. Thorn Thallids always seem to be a target for some reason….

I added the Outpost just in case I got white mana and a plains for some reason. Hell, you never know.

Andy mentioned that what this deck really needed was Earthcraft. It took me a minute to work out why, and shows why Andy keeps coming up with odd combo decks. I decided that Earthcraft was too abusive – at the time, I hadn’t actually built a multiplayer deck for some while.

The other deck I built was much more reactive. I have a few older cards that I really wanted to play so I threw this together:

Creatures (13):
4x Dream Fighter
2x Dwarven Thaumaturgist
2x Spiny Starfish
1x Shivan Dragon
1x Molten Hydra
2x Gorilla Shaman
1x Clone

Other spells (26):
2x Fork
4x Impulse
2x Control Magic
4x Betrayal
4x Ray of Command
1x Braingeyser
2x Wheel of Fortune
2x Deflection
2x Chain Lightning
1x Illicit Auction
2x Desertion

Land (21):
2x Wasteland
1x Volcanic Island
3x Gemstone Mine
2x Reflecting Pool
2x Stalking Stones
6x Island
5x Mountain

This deck is all about sitting back and trying to survive for a time before taking a few choice creatures. Anyone does something nasty to you, Fork it right back at them, Deflect it, or steal one of their creatures to protect yourself. It’s not a deck you can play often, or your playmates will know what you’re about to do and pounce on you right from the start.

You’ll probably notice that my multiplayer decks are very different from my tourney decks. Loads and loads of different cards, lots of different things to do every turn and, often, no particular way to win. The aim is to be busy – I can’t stand games where you draw a land and say go. I want to be doing things in everyone else’s turns too!

Eight people turned up, the most we’ve had around for a while. We played for a good three hours before the lure of four-player Tennis on the Dreamcast was too much (Tennis is funny, very funny). We got to see some moxen, Timewalk, Timetwister, Regrowth, Berserk and Congregate. Of all of these Congregate was the most annoying. I don’t mind if someone has three mana available on turn one. I do mind if someone gains seventy-four life in the middle of the game and sits behind Serra Angels.

I’ll be building a few more decks over the next week. They’re going to be a little quicker and a lot more powerful.

I can’t really write an article in the week before a Pre-release without mentioning the new set, Invasion. Once again its that time of year where the naysayers and doom mongers tell us that Magic is dying, all our favourite deck types are going to die, Green has been screwed again and the new set just isn’t good enough.

I’ve been playing a long time now – not as long as some, but certainly longer than many. Every time a new set comes out lots of people look at it straight away and give their opinions on the new cards. Some of these opinion pieces are well thought out but all of them suffer from one thing – timing. How can you judge a new card before anyone’s played with it? How can you know what Zvi, Flores and the rest of the deck building elite will do with it?

I’m pretty sure that most of the card commentary’s authors are hoping to be the first person to say a card will be really good – and for that card to actually be good. How many people overlooked Replenish? How many people ignored Yawgmoth’s Bargain because is was”too expensive”?

It’s one of my pet hates; people are notoriously bad at predicting the future. Hell, most of us have problems reliably remembering the past! So how can we know what’s going to happen? After all, Invasion cards are going to be in play for TWO YEARS. There are another five sets of cards that we have no knowledge about, let alone what the interactions the new cards will have with Masques, Nemesis, Prophecy or Sixth.

I like what I’ve seen of Invasion so far. Over the last year I’ve decried the lack of cards that make building two- and three-coloured decks easy. Invasion brings such cards back into Type II. With the Ice Age painlands and the new ‘come into play tapped’ dual lands, aligned colour decks will be a lot easier to build and a lot more consistent. Okay, Dust Bowl gets more targets – but maybe eight two-coloured land is enough to make it work. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed for a few opposing coloured lands in one of the next two expansions. That’d really open things up.

Mono decks will survive, purely because they’re consistent and focused. It’s hard for a deck to be colour screwed if they’re only playing one colour. They probably won’t survive in the forms we know them, but you’ll have to do a lot of convincing to make me think that there won’t be at least one Tier One mono deck after November.

Whatever your thoughts I hope you’re looking forward to the Pre-release this weekend. I have no idea about most of the cards. I’m going along for fun.

Cheers, Jim
[email protected]
Team PhatBeats.