Three months ago, I attended StarCityGames’ first Casual Magic tournament. I had a great time, and I’ve wanted to go back ever since… But would you believe that every one of my past twelve Sundays was filled with a commitment that wouldn’t allow me to go play Magic? Well, needless to say, I was certainly itching for an excellent day of Magic when I went to my second Casual Magic tournament yesterday.
For those of you who haven’t read the other literature on this site about the Casual Magic format, here’s a quick rundown: Casual Magic is an unsanctioned tournament structure that allows the tournament organizer to develop whatever rules he or she wants. For example, Pete Hoefling (Roanoke’s Casual Magic organizer) has devised a Casual Magic Banned List specific to the format of his store; additionally, he has created a”card of the week” challenge, where any player who wins a game with the card of the week wins a booster pack. What makes the whole thing work, though, is the casual atmosphere of fun and ease that draws more and more players every week.
So as can be expected, I had a wonderful time at yesterday’s tournament. I was playing a deck called Four-Pack that uses Pack Hunt to gain mucho card advantage with Multani’s Acolyte and Yavimaya Granger. A bunch of other elves and Opposition seal the win, and Treachery and Bribery allow me to gain control of the card of the week (almost always a creature) without having to play with it. A friend of mine, Rodney, modified my Cunning Wake deck to include Hand of Justice, yesterday’s booster-winning creature. As janky as the deck was (Rodney was playing it only to get out Hand of Justice), he took second place while I took a measly fifth! Way to go, Rodney!
So, when the tournament was all said and done and the prizes were handed out, I turned to Rodney and said,”Hey Rodney! I’ve got the Chaos Magic list with me…”
(To learn more about Chaos Magic, read A Full Spectrum of Goodness and Casual Magic at its Best, or visit the Chaos List. In short, Chaos Magic is regular Magic except that something completely random happens at the beginning of every turn.)
Well, since Chaos Magic is the greatest Magic format ever, we easily got eight people ready to rock and roll with a huge game of Chaos that lasted about three hours. (In the end, I managed to get a Masticore and eighty-two mana, kill a player, force two more to concede, and then die to decking, letting me come in second place.) Afterwards, several players were clamoring for another Chaos game – but the more experienced players reminded them that there was no way we could play one in the forty minutes left before the store closed. However, the great interest in playing multiplayer showed by many of the Casual Magic regulars got me thinking: Would there be a way to make Casual Magic a Chaos format?
Well, no. It’s just too chaotic. For example, the judge we called over couldn’t answer the following question: What happens to a Birds of Paradise not controlled by its owner when the Birds is instructed to go to the owner’s graveyard when the owner and all of his cards are phased out? Plus, rolls that makes everyone move down a space and assume the position of another player would make it totally unfeasible to have a reliable tournament structure for Chaos.
However, it’s not out of the question for Casual Magic to go multiplayer. As a matter of fact, when I inquired as to the possibility of it, one of the store employees who works with the tournaments told me that if I could come up with a workable tournament structure for multiplayer, Pete might take a look at it and actually give it a try! So, that’s just what I intend to do. Here’s what I’m thinking:
The people who sign up for the tournament are divided into groups as equal as possible. For example, if thirty people sign up, two games of eight players and two games of seven players are started. Match slips are created with all eight players – and when each player is eliminated, he marks the number of points he’s received. Points are distributed as follows:
- Eliminating a player – 1 point
- Winning the game – 3 points
- Good sportsmanship (voted on by all players in the game, with ties going to the judge’s discretion) – 2 points
Now, when a player’s eliminated, he signs up for the second match of the tournament. When enough people are signed up for another game (in our example, first eight, then eight, then seven and seven), the second game begins. In this way, the”worst” players automatically play against each other, just like in a regular tournament. And, in effect in our example, the top two from each game should come together with a third-place finisher. After each person has played in three games, the points are tallied and ranked. In the event of a tie, the player with the most sportsmanship points wins. If the number of sportsmanship points is the same, number of games won determines who comes out on top. If that number is the same, then the people just tie.
As for rules, the same Casual Magic rules would apply: Whatever the TO says, goes. A certain banned list could be created – for example, cards that let you automatically win the game, like Test of Endurance, though fun, may cause problems in the smooth running of the tournament. The”card of the week” feature could still be maintained, and the easy atmosphere would feed multiplayer hallmarks like wacky decks, tentative alliances, and loads of fun.
So that’s what I’m looking at for a new multiplayer format in Casual Magic. However, I’m sure that there are more experienced players out there who can help make this thing really work. So, if you have any suggestions on how a multiplayer tournament might actually be run, please email me!