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Oblique Strategies

A contest for an Urza’s Rage amongst Brian Eno snipes, children’s rhymes, an IBC rant, and the usual mass of strangeness. What else can we say?

If it’s good enough for Eno and Bowie, then it’s good enough for me. The inimitable Eno has developed a set of inspirational ‘cards’ which he keeps in the recording studio at all times. Each card contains a non-specific word or a phrase – sometimes obtuse, always ambiguous, these sound-bites are deliberately generic. Mr E uses the cards to stimulate the creative process within which he likes to work. Collaborators with the former Roxy Musician are invited to take a card and adapt/alter/completely overhaul their thinking and/or playing to accommodate its contents and their interpretation of it.


He calls them ‘Oblique Strategies.’


You’d probably call it ‘Pretentious Bollocks.’*


This, so the Angel sitting on my right shoulder says, sounds like a great idea for improving your play as a Gathering Magician. Simply take a pile of slightly-worn deck protectors and a bunch of Mercadian Masques land and cut up some sheets of paper so you can fit them in with the aforementioned sources of mana. Halt! Belay that order, if only for a little while! Before you ‘fit ’em in’, write upon each one a phrase taken from the list provided hereafter:


(oh – and I’ve just added some commentary of my own for each one)


DO NOTHING


TAKE A RISK


DESTROY THAT WHICH YOU HAVE BUILT UP


SURPRISE, SURPRISE


RESTRAINT


HONESTY


YOU WILL DRAW THE CARD YOU NEED


BE RELENTLESS


SILENCE IS GOLDEN


IT’S ONLY A GAME


UTILISE EVERYTHING AT YOUR DISPOSAL


LEARN SOMETHING NEW


DISTRACT


SHARE


FASTER


MAKE IT HAPPEN


YES


NO


CHANGE YOUR STRATEGY


CONCEDE


YOU HAVE ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD


REVEL IN YOUR GLORIES


STALL FOR TIME


Then, randomly select an O.S. before each turn and tailor your play style/goals to suit your understanding of the card.


Will the same card spawn wildly different reactions depending on your current disposition?


How will another player utilise the same card?


How do you do what you do to me? (I wish I knew!)


Is there something to be learned from the experience?


PART II. TWENTY QUESTIONS, or TONY’S BIG POLL (snigger)

Don’t say I never include you in anything, you ungrateful puppies. Here’s a chance to participate in the greatest interviewing event since, ooh, the last one (probably Ferrett’s little tete-a-tete with ‘Bandy’ Randy Buehler). Simply cut and paste the following questions into an e-mail and send ’em in to me at [email protected]


Right! That’s my next article sorted out too!


Muchos Grassy-Arse,


Tony Boydell


<<START THE CUT THING BELOW HERE>>


  1. Who is the best Magic player in the world today, and why?

  2. If (your answer to question 1) was a buffalo and you started measuring from the lip – how far towards the tail would you get, by way of a skills-type comparison?

  3. Would it be more accurate to start measuring from the other end?

  4. If you were a Magic card, what would your special ability be?

  5. Favourite non-Magic colour?

  6. Favourite Magic colour?

  7. Best ever single play?

  8. Worst mistake ever made?

  9. Tell me a joke

  10. Do you have a partner ?

  11. If not, would you consider having one?

  12. If yes, what does he/she think about Magic?

  13. Complete the following sentence: I LIKE MAGIC BECAUSE…

  14. Do you play other games apart from Magic, e.g., Settlers, Coppertwaddle etc?

  15. Are you any good?

  16. What do you do in the real world?

  17. How long has Magic got left?

  18. I lied about there being twenty questions – how does that make you feel?

<<STOP! STOP! THAT’S FAR ENOUGH WITH THE CUTTING!>>


PART III. STUFF AND NONSENSE


Whine, Lose, Or Draw


IBC – Have you had enough yet? It seems patently obvious that the following rules should be applied when considering ANY block format:


  1. Don’t bother looking at the Block Constructed Environment until the third set for the Block has been released.

  2. All of the cards that you thought were good in the first two sets are only sideboard worthy, so try not to invest in any until the last minute (besides, you’ll need to save your money for step c.)

  3. Buy 36 boosters of the aforementioned third set, shuffle the rares together with 24 (appropriate) land, and use THIS as your Block Constructed deck. Why not? It’s got all the best freakin’ cards in it, eh?

*SIGH*


So, I ask again:”IBC – have you had enough yet?”


That’s what I thought.


Anyway, that’s something approaching an ‘on topic’ subject, so I’ll digress. All work and no play makes Jack a dull, but rather affluent, boy; so, how about flexing your creative muscle (that’s”CREATIVE” not”PRO-CREATIVE” – saucy!) and wax lyrical in a Magical sense? Once more, for your nibblage, I present a Swiss Army Knife’s worth of poetic variations.


WRITE, DAMN YOU! WRITE IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS GOOD AND HOLY ON THE FACE OF THE PLANET EARTH!


When Badgers Attack


  1. The Magic Ode

  2. With a simplicity that is almost breathtaking, simply pick the name of a favourite Magic card and write it vertically. Using each letter as the first letter of the first word in each line, compose an homage to said primary CCG component.


    For example:


    When creatures rush to kill you

    Remember that you’ve got

    A spell of awesome power

    This card will kill the lot!

    H
    ordes may gather

    O
    pposite

    F
    ear not, you’re playing white

    G
    o

    O
    n! Just play the card, then

    D
    eath or Glory (just for spite!)


    That’s”WRATH OF GOD,” for the lazy amongst you. Extra points will be awarded to MINION OF TEVESH SZAT lovers.


  3. A Recipe For Disaster

Though not strictly a poetic form, this is a fun jokey variant for those long gaps between turns in your weekly 200-attendee multiplayer yawn-fests! The idea is to take a Magical card or cards or set or deck archetype or something-Magic-related-you-get-the-friggin-idea-by-now, and make up a quick food recipe around it. I guess some examples would be good…

  1. Replenish Stew: Prepare, cook, chuck in bin, then pick up bin and throw all over your guest.

  2. High Tide Omelette: Prepare, cook, serve, and eat all of it yourself (ignoring all guests).

  3. Trinity Green Salad: Overwhelm your guests with vast quantities of canapes.

  1. Nursery Rhymes

    (You know? For kids!) Take the old ones but good ones and bastardise them in such a manner as to make Kate Greenaway boil-in-the-bag. Kids’ll never read ’em, coz they’re too busy killing their school-mates and dealing crack. Go ahead – have some fun for a change…

Par example:


Mary had Aladdin”Lamp”

She rubbed it night and day

And nothing you could say or do

Could take his smile away!


ACTUALLY, SEND ME YOUR OWN CHILDREN’S RHYMES IN AN M:TG STYLE AND I’LL DIG OUT SOMETHING LIKE AN URZA’S RAGE FOR THE BEST!

I love you all (but not without protection),


Tony


* – But then you wouldn’t be”getting it”, then, would you? I’m loathe to argue with a man who is widely regarded as producing Bowie’s best album – and that’s a shed-load of ‘best albums’ to choose from!