When Richard Garfield created Magic, he did a very wise thing: He made sure all of the colors had weaknesses. This was a very wise choice, because it ensured that everyone would have to buy five tons of cards in order to get a deck that worked.
You think that the color limitations actually affected our strategy? Not in THOSE days, pal. Heck, when I started out you had a very simple way of getting around the color limitations: You made a rainbow-colored deck that was six feet high and required three stout lumberjacks to shuffle.
Games back then sometimes lasted for three, maybe four days. I myself once had to kill a man in Reno because he wouldn’t give in. But can you blame me? I mean, I had almost decked him, his last draw was a Feldon’s Cane… and he shuffled ten thousand cards back into his library. It had been two weeks since I had last seen daylight, my hands were blistered and bleeding, my butt had fused to the chair — I just couldn’t take it anymore. I papercut his jugular with a sharpened Atog, then buried the body in a sealed box of”Homelands” cards. Nobody’s found him yet, although I expect to find”Dead Body, casting cost unknown” turning up in a Price Guide one day.
He’s a rare. Somebody’ll pay thirty bucks for him.
Besides, back then you didn’t need decks that looked like Dagwood Sandwiches either; Garfield kept forgetting which color was supposed to do what, and you could always find Blue land destruction or a Red card-drawing engine. Ah, those were the days.
But alas, eventually Wizards R&D wised up.
Now it’s tough to build a monocolored deck that has no weaknesses. I myself like Stompy decks (remind me to show you my infamous”Bouncing Weasels” deck someday), but they’re awful weak against a Red deck. Black and Red suck against White, who has all the killer enchantments.
White always wins. It has no weaknesses. I hate White.
But in any case, can you afford to play with a gaping hole in your defenses like that? Of course not. But what’s a monomage to do?
It goes against the multiplayer metagame* — you’re supposed to just sit back and wait — but occasionally a megaquick deck with no provisions for an endgame and no defenses can sneak through. And there’s nothing faster in Multiplayer than a well-tuned monocolor deck.
The whole point is that you come out of the gate so fast that you don’t care about your weaknesses — you smash into the guy playing the harming colors and take him out BEFORE he can hurt you. You need to choose your target on turn one and just not let up. (It helps if you know who tends to play which colors — a definite advantage of knowing your table.) Be willing to sacrifice anything just to get at him — after all, what does blowing a Rhox matter when he’s going to cast Perish next turn?
But you need a good strong deck. Get a deck that can deal forty damage by turn six, and you may have a winner. What you need is a deck that can swarm under one player, and then have enough defenses left after you’ve killed THAT guy to survive everyone else.
Black has some ability to pull this strategy off, particularly with Dark Rituals — but Black’s quick creatures tend to be Suicidish, and frankly that’s a drawback if you have people left after you’ve dealt your first twenty. Accelerated Blue might do okay, but it relies so heavily on artifacts and other miscellaneous mana sources that it doesn’t take much to disrupt you. (Remember, double the players = double the threats, and putting out two Grim Monoliths and a Mana Vault first turn is sure to get everyone’s attention.)
Naw, what YOU need is a Green or a Red deck. There’s a reason why the newbies always play Sligh or Stompy: They work more consistently and with less effort than any other archetype. And if you want fast single damage, Green decks with plenty of tramplers can really work a number on anyone. Red’s a little worse, but a deck that’s geared to produce large numbers of Goblins and Dragons and happy little bonfires to help them can take down even the strongest of players. But your deck had better be able to deal out at least thirty points of damage a shot by Turn Eight.
Normally I don’t advocate playing with color hosers — not only are they megaunfriendly, but generally they can stand useless in a deck. What good is it for a Red player to stuff his deck with four Flashfires if nobody has a plains?
Sometimes it’s not an entirely horrible idea.
If you know that your deck is The Bomb except for, say, game-critical counterspells, then sliding in one or two island-killers might not be a bad idea. There’s two tricks you have to have, though:
- You’d better have library manipulation to get it early, and more importantly:
- You’d better let the opponent know you have it.
No, this isn’t as effective as it could be. But it’s like every John Woo movie, where the two heroes wind up holding guns to each other’s heads. Flash that Flashfires, and say cheerily:”If you cast what I THINK you’re about to cast… then this comes out.”
You’d be surprised. If that spell is going to win him the game, of COURSE he’s going to cast it. But if it’s just something he wants to play so he can screw you over, now he realizes that he might lose by casting it. He’ll back off.
However, watch your opponent. This only works on logical people. If he’s one of those crazy guys who takes every threat as a challenge, then don’t even bother. Just cast it.
USE THOSE OLD CARDS.
Now that they’re not tourney-legal anymore, you’d be surprised how cheap the common cards from Legends, Antiquities, and Arabian Nights are. And a lot of them are completely off-color. Look through spoiler lists, catalog the weirdos, and surprise your pals; for a twenty-dollar investment you can change the game.
Is this fair? No. But as long as Wizards refuses to put spot enchantment removal into Green, I’ll still be using Emerald Charm. Nyah.
There are two ways to deal with this:
If you’re blue, just keep those two islands untapped at all times in order to stop that colorhoser. Works better than you might think, as long as you don’t have two people working against you.
But if you’re not playing blue, and you want to play your favorite Blue deck but some idiot keeps packing Chills and Hydroblasts because he really hates blue — then come up with a counterdeck. It’s not hard. Just figure out what style of play the guy usually has, and then design a deck that does nothing but piss him off. Play it constantly and smile a lot. He’ll quit.
Really. He might not draw it. It’s okay.
NEXT ARTICLE: Why You Should All Just Shut Up About R&D
Writing a much more hapless article than he normally would because he’s going on vacation,
Visit The Ferrett Domain if you’re not easily offended. Matter of fact, stay away if you’re offended at all. Probably it’s best if you leave now, really….
* — Is it just me, or is the term”metagame” the coolest word ever? It sounds so… so TECHNICAL.”The metagame here leans towards Sligh.” It’s a lot easier than some doof saying,”Well, I guess everyone’s playing Red here.”