Before I start, just let me say this:
JAMIE MOLES, 6 and 0!!! Respect is due!
Start HERE, for [EXPLETIVE DELETED] Sake!
(take a deep breath; pull those shoulders back; lift your chin)
I had a letter the other day from my good friend and contract intellectual Prof. Gabriel Sneeep*. As far as I could tell, he is in rude health** (thank you for asking), and he’s lost none of his legendary fervour for dough sculpture (as the large quantity of crumbs at the bottom of the envelope a-test) – in fact, he enclosed a photograph of his latest masterpiece called "Energy And Might, With Custard Filling", an impressive rhomboid tower of Dauphenoise potato shavings hammered, in the manner of fish scales, into an eight-foot, par-baked granary bloomer speckled with butter-icing swirls, fondant anchovies, miniature mallow bells, and the titular ‘custard filling’ (visible through a ‘wound’ cut deeply into the side of the bloomer). I, personally, found it to be an exhilarating statement against Authoritarianism, while my wife was just sick all over it (which is why I haven’t been able to scan it in for you folks now).
Onwards and Upwards
Anyway, what am I going to talk about this week? Ah, yes – now I remember – variants! Why should the guys at WotC spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week developing, modifying, clarifying, updating, and generally maintaining a fine game like Magic: The Gathering, when one can gather together with ones friends and discard all of that and come up with new variants instead? I mean, it’s not like the real rules are rubbish or anything, is it?*****
So, following sharply on the heels of Three Savannah Lions and my theme decks, here are some happy-go-lucky suggestions for further twists on that old favourite:
1. Magic A Trois (where’s the grave accent?)
When things are quiet and only THREE people are available to play Magic (or the group is only divisible by THREE, etc.), it can be a right-Royal pain in the ‘arris for the chap(ess) who has to sit things out. Like the penniless waif staring into the toyshop window, Cratchett-like, on Christmas Eve, a single, shining Holy droplet of spittle hanging (frozen) from the chapped and extended bottom lip, this player quietly shuffles his deck for the full 30-45 minutes it takes for someone (dammit) to finish a set. But fret no more, my own special lovers, for a solution is at hand. Henceforth, whenever three and only three are gathered together, everyone can play and enjoy Magic ? Trois:
Each player must have TWO decks.
Each player shuffles their decks separately, sorts out life counters etc. All players sit in a triangular formation – this is not some bizarre meditative contortion, you just sit together in the vague notion that each of you is a point in an invisible triangle.
PLAYER 1 PLAYER 1
Deck One Deck Two
PLAYER 2 PLAYER 3
Deck One Deck One
PLAYER 2 PLAYER 3
Deck Two ———– Deck Two
Roll to see who goes first. Play proceeds starting with the winner of the dice roll, e.g. if PLAYER 2 wins, he will play as follows:
PLAYER 2 Deck One plays turn 1 vs. PLAYER 1 Deck One; PLAYER 1 may interact as in a normal duel (which this is). PLAYER 2 Deck Two plays turn 1 vs. PLAYER 3 Deck
Play then proceeds to PLAYER 3, as follows:
PLAYER 3 Deck Two plays turn 1 vs. PLAYER 2 Deck Two
PLAYER 3 Deck One plays turn 1 vs. PLAYER 1 Deck Two
Play then proceeds to PLAYER 1, as follows:
PLAYER 1 Deck Two plays turn 1 vs. PLAYER 3 Deck One
PLAYER 1 Deck One plays turn 1 vs. PLAYER 2 Deck One
….and now we’re back to PLAYER 2 again, as follows:
PLAYER 2 Deck One plays turn 2 vs. PLAYER 1 Deck One
PLAYER 2 Deck Two plays turn 2 vs. PLAYER 3 Deck Two, etc etc
Got the gist? Good! If games finish early while others are progressing, then reset decks in non-play time and pass the active play around the triangle, as appropriate. Although it sounds, initially, quite complicated, this is a simple format to pick up and allows odd numbers of players to get twice as many games in!
Other bits and pieces:
You could have enchantments affect everyone (a la multiplayer) i.e. Briar Patch or Gravity Sphere would affect creatures in the game in which you have no part
i.e. the one between the other two players!
Did I mention, already, that this only works effectively with THREE players; any more and the dead time between turns is too much to bear!
(now touch your toes; one-and-two-and-three-and-four)
2. Planet Of The Apes Magic
You may only communicate with other players (and yourself, if you are so inclined) by uttering the oo’s, aaaahs, and whoop-whoop-whoops of jungle-dwelling primates; any human communication results in that player taking 5 pts. of damage and being locked up in an easily-escapable-from wooden cage guarded by Roddy McDowell with an Indian rubber factory on his face.
a. Picking fleas off of each other IS permitted.
b. Beating your chest like an aroused silverback IS permitted.
c. Baring your arse and painting it blue is NOT permitted******
Kudos points (and the 5pts of damage is reduced to Zero) should be awarded to anyone who can legitimately utter the following phrases during play:
"Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape !"
"You maniacs! You blew it up! Damn you! Damn you all to hell!"
3. Hippy Magic
You are not allowed to attack anyone. You are not allowed to deal them _direct_ damage (though you can have them take damage indirectly via Racks, Vises etc). Looks like it’s time to break out the infinite mana Stroke of Genius/Cheese Stands Alone/Celestial
4. Tantric Magic
Who can go on the longest number of games without actually winning (I’m pretty good at this variant!)
Another [EDITED] Subject Entirely
Are you a poor person? Are you forced into eating those thick bits of skin from the soles of your feet, or squeezing spots onto some dry bread because cheese on toast is too financially challenging? Well, fear not! You too can play Magic, albeit on a budget:
(star jumps – after me! one and two and three and four)
Lin-Sivvi, Peeved Hero
Twobid, Twoget etc
Zucchini (that’s a smaller version of Maro…)
No Honey At All
Mageta The Lion-Cub
Plaster [that’s a cut-price Bandage ;-)]
Eater of the Nearly-Dead
Puddle of the Dead
Uncle Istvan – actually he’s not REALLY an uncle, just a friend of the family…
Mox Cubic Zirconium
White Elephant’s Graveyard
Second-Hand of Justice
Day (think about it!)
One Rabid Sheep
Semi-Circles of Protection
Any Iron Pyrites Card
Avatar of Maybe (two for the price of one here)
(aaaaaaaaaaand rest !)
And so, as the hairy scrotum of Fate gets caught in the zip-fly of Destiny, it’s time for me to bid you all farewell – until next time:
God Bless and ciao babies,
P.S. I apologise for all of the bad language in this particular article, it’s just that the vending machine only serves freezer-distilled Java and I’m feeling a little ‘agitated’****
P.P.S Has anyone got a foil Foil they would trade with me ?
* Gabriel Einstein One-Two-Three-Four Gillygilly-Ossenfeffer Katsanella-Bowgun
By-the-sea-ee-ee-ee-ee Sneeep – Purveyor of Breads and Confections to Royalty (or at least a couple of Queens) and Emeritus Professor of Quantum Magic at the University of Chipping Sodbury. Best known for his outspoken theories of the fundamental composition of Magic (see HERE), and his essay on Sportsmanship (see HERE).
** rude health: when you can say [EDITED], [EDITED]***, or even [EDITED] without medication
*** sorry – that was un-called for; I won’t say that word again. Sorry.
****I can’t sleep and my eyes can rotate the full 360 degrees
*****This HAS to be bear-baiting, I know – so come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough!
******Unless you ARE, actually, a Mauritian Blue-Butt Baboon; in which case why would you want to paint it blue again?