Magic is a mental game. We spend most of our time deckbuilding, practicing and discussing strategy in an attempt to outthink our opponents. We even try to manipulate our opponents into losing by playing mind games.
But have you ever thought about improving your chances at winning simply through the production of good karma?
Despite my proclivity towards religious beliefs, I’m not talking about the generation of divine intervention to reward you for your good deeds. I’m talking about something much more real, tangible, and directly controllable. I like to refer to it as”people” karma. When you interact with a person in an emotionally intense situation, you will inherently change how that person acts towards you in the future.
Competitive Magic does a good job of fostering intense situations – especially as a few people get closer to being only a win away from some good money. This is where you have the opportunity to spread good karma. If you find yourself in a situation where it doesn’t hurt you to agree to an opponent’s request, then why deny it to them? For example, if your opponent wants you to draw so you both make it into the top 8, why force him or her to play? I’ve seen situations where one person will force their opponent to play just so that a friend has a one-in-a-hundred outside shot of getting in the top 8. Despite wanting my friends to do well, I am not a big fan of this practice. If you succeed in winning and kicking an otherwise shoo-in out of the top 8, you’ve made your opponent feel cheated.
I’m sure it may seem that your opponent’s feelings are rather inconsequential to your immediate goal… But your opponent will not forget that moment.
They may even happen to remember that moment when you two are matched up in the last round before top 8 of a crucial PTQ, when you’re the one who needs a draw to get in.
Bad karma will find a way of biting you back.
Good karma, though, works its own ways as well. Last year, I was at a Type II tournament where cash prizes for the top four totaled $400 – $250 of which went to first place. I had made it to the semi-finals, and had already beaten two of the three remaining players. The typical tradition is just to do a four-way split of the money so everyone could go home at a reasonable hour. Since I was confident that I could make it to first place, I definitely wanted to play it out. The other players really wanted to go home. With a little bit of persuasion, I realized it wouldn’t hurt me too much to spread the wealth and let everyone go home. I agreed to split.
Eight months later, I find myself in the top 4 of another $250 tournament. This time, I am one of the three who wants to split and go home. There is one person who is being encouraged to play it out. He happens to also be one of the people that was at the other tournament.
He happens to remember what I had so graciously offered to do several months ago.
We eventually end up splitting and going home.
And now for something completely different…
An actual attempt at strategy!
There is something quite amusing about reading Type I discussions, especially from those who happen to voice the following complaints:
1) Type I is too stagnant.
2) Type I is all about having the power cards to compete.
After having played a couple of Type I tournaments over the last year, I think I can help alleviate some of these concerns for the discouraged, intimidated, or uninitiated.
The configurability of Magic is what prevents a format from being truly stagnant. Although Type I may appear to move like a glacier when compared to the rushing waters of formats like Standard and Block Constructed, it does move, inch-by-inch. Even”The Deck” changes inch by inch as new sets push weaker cards out of the previous build. Invasion brought in Fact or Fiction. Apocalypse brought in Fire/Ice.
The beauty of Magic, though, is that it can be all things to all people. I’ve enjoyed Type I because it is the opposite of all the other formats out there. I don’t need to spend weeks trying to build, test, and tweak a deck just to be competitive. With Type I, I have the same deck. I might tweak it a little here and there, but mostly I can do what I like to do with other games – just grab it and play. Is there really anything wrong with that?
I should point out that I do know a local that really enjoys coming up with some new Type I creation that is usually fairly competitive, but I’ll chalk him up to being some bizarre Type I aficionado.
Type I, at least in my area, has a tendency to bring around a lot of people with power cards. I’ve seen plenty of versions of The Deck running around, and more than enough Moxes, Lotuses, Time Walks, and Ancestral Recalls to probably pay my mortgage for about a year.
I don’t own a single one. I also happened to place in the top 8 twice and top 4 most recently in the only three Type I tournaments I have ever played, using slight variations of the same deck. These aren’t small tournaments, either, as they usually draw between forty-five and sixty players for a total of six rounds. Not a single card in my deck costs more than $20, if that.
The deck? You might have guessed it by now – monoblack.
Here’s the current version I am running:
4 Hymn to Tourach
4 Hypnotic Specter
4 Nantuko Shade
4 Dark Ritual
3 Phyrexian Negator
3 Diabolic Edict
3 Powder Keg
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Vampiric Tutor
1 Yawgmoth’s Will
1 Zuran Orb
2 Mishra’s Factory
1 Strip Mine
I’ve built this one up on my own from the minimal scraps of Type I information I could find on the web. I am sure that some of my choices might draw criticism from the more versed Type I players. I only offer you this insight – I present this deck for your consideration, as I have felt that it can perform quite well in the Type I environment that I have come across. Like all decks, if you want to play it, try it out first. See where it is lacking. Modify it to fit your play style or your environment. Feel free to pass any insightful results along to me.
In the meantime, I offer you a couple of thoughts about this deck:
I am only running three Phyrexian Negators main because it is pretty scary starting with a handful of these against a monored burn deck.
I’ve had a couple people question the choice of the Vampiric Tutor due to its one-card disadvantage. Someone also recommended using Demonic Consultation instead. When you get right down to it, though, the things you usually Tutor for are the one-ofs that net you card advantage – Necropotence and Yawgmoth’s Will. Demonic Consultation isn’t very useful in this situation, and I’ve never regretted being able to get a key card, despite the loss of a draw.
I played against one person at the last Type I tournament who was running a similar black deck, except that he chose to play four Phyrexian Reavers instead of Necropotence and tutors. He claimed that his deck was fast enough that he didn’t need Necropotence to help win. My first build didn’t have Necropotence in it, but I decided to try it after finding myself with an empty hand in the finals from a well-timed Mind Twist on turn 3. I couldn’t recover. Having played with Necropotence a couple of times, I can assure you that I will never take it out. When you exhaust your hand in exhausting your opponent’s hand, there is nothing better than plopping down a Necropotence and refueling. Playing with this card in Type I sometimes makes me sorry that I never bothered to play constructed while Necropotence dominated the tournament scene. At least now I know why it was so dominant.
I like the Zuran Orb in this deck solely for its versatility. Sacrifice a couple of land to give you more card-drawing power from the Necropotence. Give yourself the extra life boost against burn to take the win. Sacrifice all your land in response to a Balance. It is all worthwhile.
I’ve had people argue up and down about the correct number of Factories and Wastelands for this type of deck. I’ve played this deck enough times to say that five nonblack mana sources are the most I can play with to guarantee that I won’t miss critical tempo by not having enough lands that produce the correct amount of black mana. You may find yourself of a different opinion. Adjust as you see fit.
I like twenty-three land because I have a slight paranoia about my inability to draw enough land, regardless of whatever shuffling technique I use. I want to make sure that I have three black mana available on turn 3 all the time. If you’re feeling more lucky than good, you can drop back to the standard twenty-two.
Still waiting for that Type I secret tech? Well, I haven’t gotten to the sideboard yet:
Non-secret tech Type I sideboard:
The Edict and Negator restock the deck for the mirror match.
Not many people like the Nevinyrral’s Disk in the sideboard; most give the reason being that decks you’d use this card against will usually be able to counter or disenchant it before it triggers. Here’s where I had to let logic sway me: Why would you not put in your sideboard a card that answers everything you can’t deal with for fear of it never going off? Wouldn’t it be better to at least have a solution than not bother with one at all? Much to my delight, this card gave me games that would have otherwise been unwinnable, as I sat staring down and Abyss/Ensnaring Bridge lock on the table.
See something missing from the sideboard? Two cards maybe?
Those last two cards are…
THE SUPER-SECRET TYPE I TECH!
Yep. Two Ichorid. I have yet to see a monoblack deck in my area put these into the sideboard. This card alone has won me critical games against the toughest, most expensive deck in the format.
How can such a measly critter be so powerful a threat? For those that like Ichorid, you probably already know the answer.
For those that don’t, I’ll give you a little idea of how I’ve seen”The Deck” work. Its basic goal is to try and build up enough card advantage while keeping the board clear. It will then eventually drop a Morphling with adequate protection in hand to keep it alive for the four turns it needs to win.
This usually means that”The Deck” likes to keep the board empty. Ichorid likes the board empty, too, if it means there are a lot of critters in the graveyard. Once in the graveyard,”The Deck” can do little except take the damage until one of two Morphlings manages to find its way onto the table. Nothing like a continuous damage clock to put the game in your favor.
Well, have you tried it yet?
In the meantime, don’t forget to spread around a little good karma when it counts. You will be remembered.