FINAL JUDGEMENT: The Multiplayer Bandwagon

Thanks to everyone who sent Lisa birthday greetings – again, too numerous to mention by name. I turned on her computer before she got up on Tuesday and opened her mailbox so that they’d be waiting for her. She was most pleased. I also want to thank all the folks who have yet to mail…

Thanks to everyone who sent Lisa birthday greetings – again, too numerous to mention by name. I turned on her computer before she got up on Tuesday and opened her mailbox so that they’d be waiting for her. She was most pleased. I also want to thank all the folks who have yet to mail me but said to her "I love your husband’s column," etc. You flatter and humble me.

This week I’m going off the beaten track to offer you some gifts for your multiplayer stocking and to comment about David and Ferrett’s articles of last week regarding the Beta Test for the Great Alaska Multiplayer Challenge. If you haven’t seen them, check out the Featured Article Archive. David’s contains pictures, most notably of the Fabulous Lydia (although the resolution on the picture doesn’t do her justice-she’s so beautiful it hurts; she also makes the best lattes).

Before I do, I’ll fulfil my requirements for making this a rules column. There have been rumors about a broken interaction between activating a Saproling Burst and using enchantment removal before the Burst activations resolve. As the rules stand, it works and here’s why.

Saproling Burst:
Info: Color=Green Type=Enchantment Cost=4G NE(R1)

Text(NE): Fading 7. ; Remove a fade counter from ~this~: Put a green Saproling creature token into play. It has "This creature’s power and toughness are each equal to the number of fade counters on Saproling Burst." ; When ~this~ leaves play, destroy all tokens put into play with ~this~. They can’t be regenerated.

The fact that there’s a triggered ability here is important. Remove two tokens, then respond with Disenchant (or whatever). Disenchant resolves first, whacking the Burst. When it does, the Burst’s trigger goes on the stack. It resolves, destroying all tokens it’s created…which is zero, because none have entered play. Then the first activation resolves, it will look for Last Known Information (D’Angelo A.4.6) about the Burst – it had five counters on it, so you end up with 2 creatures that are 5/5 (and won’t go away). Until the DCI issues any kind of errata on this, feel free to play and abuse it at your leisure.

Okay, now to the multiplayer stuff. First to the rules. Instead of taking up column space here, here’s the link to my website: http://web.acsalaska.net/~juggernt. Just click on the picture of the Ovinomancer (I own the original, by the way) to head toward the Magic stuff. There’s a new page all about multiplayer, which includes the rules draft (feel free to comment) and some decks. The idea is to have competetive but fun multiplayer games that don’t degrade into two people trying to wait each other out. Aggressiveness is encouraged in the form of the bounty system. Simply put, if your damage (or effect) kills someone, you get their bounty. What the bounty consists of is left up to the group or the organizer.

A word on the MP decks: I make them five or six at a time, so there are some sub-optimal card choices due to the fact that even I have a limited pool of cards and I don’t want to keep switching cards between decks. I think I’m going to buy about twenty Nether Spirits from Star City some day.

As Ferrett pointed out, the better players in our group consider me the player to beat. I think this is both the right and wrong of it. It’s smart to worry about what the good players have up their sleeve, but one can focus too much on this and let other players rule the table. I don’t mind getting ganged up on so much (hey, that’s what Mogg Maniac is for!), but it only has a portion of the intended effect. Sure, it might get me out of the game earlier, but while they’re doing that, they’re ignoring someone else building up something obscene (usually Joseph, who we’ll see at PTLA).*

What I enjoy about this is knowing that I’m never going to have an easy time of it; it gives me a real challenge to deckbuilding. Much like Ferrett, I don’t like the easy way out; I’ll never play a net deck again (after qualifying for Nationals with a MoMa Stroke deck that I absolutely hated playing), nor will I use "conventional wisdom" when constructing. Raw combo decks are right out. I’m going to win my way or not at all. And yes, graveyard recursion is frequently a method. In two-player, 60 cards is more than enough; in MP, it rarely is. Why not use your best cards over and over? It breaks the four-copy limit. I have a wicked infinite Living Death thing going (Extended legal!) that can survive without being comboish, but I’ll only play it at most once weekly, because everyone is tired of getting waxed by it (and social harmony is very important in a MP group). (Also, as he hesitates to mention, it became so noticable that whenever he broke it out we all ganged up on him and he began to lose consistently with it – The Ferrett)

My secret, however, isn’t that secret. In two-player games, control of the environment, whether it’s board control or time control, is essential. It’s no different in multiplayer. Controlling the environment is vital. The success of my Wildfire/Multani deck (and to some extent Ferrett’s Limited Resources deck) proves it. The difference is that it’s very difficult in MP to see what the environment is going to be. In some games creature control is necessary; in others, it’s land and resource control. It’s generally just a guess, even if you know your group well.

On to the event: Ferrett played Limited Resources and I whispered "brilliant" to myself. It was an excellent assessment of what the metagame was going to be and how to control it. Too bad it didn’t work better (although it did sweep the table once, which is certainly admirable). (And would have done it again had I read the dang text on Land Grant; see my column from Friday – The Ferrett) Unfortunately, he violated one of his own rules (I’m sure he can link to the column where he said it): Fly under everyone’s radar for a while. By playing Limited Resources, he painted a big, fat target on his own head. Even in the game where he didn’t play it, people where attacking him because they (incorrectly, now that they had land out) feared it. In the first game he played it, I spent an Earthquake for one to wipe out is mana infrastructure; after that, he was in the same boat we were.

And he should have listened to Chabot a little more. I know he loves his Wildebeests, but there are certainly more optimal cards for punishing the table for being silly enough to need more than one mana.** At the very least, and much to his credit, the deck will redefine for some time the way the good players in our group approach deckbuilding. All in all, I’d rate the deck a success; it led me to consider whether or not Limited Resources was something that should be considered for the MP Banned List (though at the moment, it’s not under serious consideration), and went in the direction that I asked: the attempt to break the environment. Kudos to Ferrett for that effort.***

If you have great multiplayer deck ideas, don’t be bashful about sending them to me. I won’t tread on Alongi’s ground here and run a contest (150 responses? Anthony is the king!), but if you send me something innovative and cool, I’ll give proper credit. And hey, if you have ideas to help out my new T2 UB anti-Fires deck (Plague Spitter is an operative), send them along. Should a blue deck maindeck Teferi’s Response? Is Recoil good or bad in the current environment? The deck started out as a Nether-Go deck that eventually got rid of the Nether Spirits (they’re not that good with other creatures in your graveyard). Vodalian Zombies rule! Bring on your silly Saproling tokens! And what’s not to love about Tsabo’s Decree?

Enjoy your New Year’s holiday. We’ll be having a True Millenium Anti-Party here at the Menery Estate. We’ll have a few friends over, eat and drink, converse, maybe play some RoboRally or Once Upon a Time****, and generally stay away from all the amateur drunks on the roads. At midnight, we’ll feign indifference to the clock. After all, what is it but just another arbitrary day?

And that’s my Final Judgement.


* – Joseph is an amateur boxer in the 150+ pound class who routinely beats guys a weight class or two higher. I outweigh him by fifty pounds and can lift him over my head, but I wouldn’t mess with him for anything. I want to see some Pro try to pull some cheese on him. Really.

** – Like I’m going to tell him what they are!
*** – But I will continue to beat him like a red-headed, left-handed step-child when we draft. Call it tough love in helping him prepare for his distant dream of qualifying. (And don’t think I don’t appreciate it – The Ferrett)

**** – If you haven’t played either of these games, you’re missing out. In how many games do you get to have a Butt Laser?