Slugs And Thallids: Multiplayer’s Respite From States

This week’s an odd one. We’re just before the States, and probably the biggest change in Magic, in the last two years. Any strategy I could give you has been hammered out by a million other strategy pundits; a million other pundits have suggested any decks I might suggest (in one form or another). That’s…

This week’s an odd one. We’re just before the States, and probably the biggest change in Magic, in the last two years. Any strategy I could give you has been hammered out by a million other strategy pundits; a million other pundits have suggested any decks I might suggest (in one form or another). That’s not to say I don’t have any decks of my own – it’s just that most of them keep losing to the decks that are out there on the net right now. I’m also not saying that originality is drying up – far from it. I believe we’re at the forefront of a wave of new deck types, reworking of old deck types and possibly the most complex metagame we’ve had to think about in years.

But everyone else is talking about that. I don’t know about you, but I’m a little bored of it all right now. I’ve got a tourney to go to on Saturday, and I’m playtesting every night, and I want to see some Magical writing that takes my mind off of it a little. With this in mind, I thought I’d tell you about the Magic club I play in and some multiplayer decks of mine.

For the past four years I’ve been a member of Bath University’s Adventure Gaming Society. It’s the only club at the Uni that has anything to do with Magic: The Gathering, and a source of opponents of varied abilities on a weekly basis.

Over the last few years, we had noticed that fewer people were coming along year after year. Players would graduate and leave Bath, and no new players seemed to be joining. I quite wrongly assumed that it was because students in Bath have more pressing matters to attend to these days – student life no longer being the happy, drunken festival that my hazy memories tell me it was.

But it turns out that the club had not advertised the fact that they played Magic at all in the last few years. Nobody was turning up because nobody knew there was a place for them to turn up to. This year we changed all that. The ‘Magic Coordinator’ (a grand title for the member of the AGS who looks after us Magic players) took a couple of Magic posters to the clubs and societies fair and stood around telling anyone who would listen about Magic. The result: New Players.

This year, for the first time in a while, we have a bunch of players turning up who are really hungry for the game. They have a few cards, or in some cases lots of older cards, and are dying to try out the new Invasion and Masques cards they see us”tourney players” playing with. This has changed the atmosphere on a Wednesday night from one of serious Type II testing, to a more light-hearted gaming night. In my view, it’s a change for the better.

Instead of four or five of us turning up with our latest creations and playing for a few hours before we get bored and go home, we’re playing for longer. We still start the night playing one-on-one, testing a few decks here and there, but the last few weeks we’ve ended with a big multiplayer game. We’ve also taken a whole load of our unwanted commons along, with the proviso that none of them come home with us again. They go like hotcakes, they really do.

So there I was, playing a game with seven other players. I was playing my green/white Type II deck, it being the least evil of the decks I had with me. Chris was playing Nicholas Labarre’s black/blue discard deck. Bjorn was playing his Dragon deck (pure red with Incubators). Tom was playing his odd red deck. Chris number II was playing merfolk; Antoine was playing a more controlling green/white deck. Dan was playing a Tempest block white weenie deck, and Andy played his new multiplayer deck.

Andy’s had a lot of time on his hands recently and knew that we’d be playing multiplayer, so he built a five-colour deck.

A highlander five-colour deck.

A highlander five-colour deck with only basic lands in.

A highlander, basic land only, five-colour deck from Invasion block…

…with NOTHING but commons in it.

So who do you think won?

Well, Andy was the only one of us with one of each basic land on the table on turn four for a start – which kind of helped him. If I hadn’t cast Armageddon, he’d have won a lot quicker than he did (I know that Armageddon isn’t that fun in multiplayer, but I didn’t have time to swap them out, AND Bjorn had just cast a Lightning Dragon that I really wanted dead).

He played with one of each of the new apprentices too. They worked out a treat. He had lots of cards with kicker, one of each of the gold 2/2 protection creatures, and a few nasty surprises.

The new players loved it.

“What’s that do?”

“WOW! I didn’t know they’d printed that!”

“What power is that?”

“It does what? IT DOES WHAT!?”

And not just the new players. I saw cards played that I didn’t even remember were in Invasion – I need to play in more drafts, I really do. We had a great time and Andy won.

The discard deck couldn’t do enough to enough people, and with only four regenerating blockers was quickly overrun. The White weenie deck lasted a long time, but couldn’t really cope with the rest of our decks. Tom’s red deck never really got started – even on five land. The merfolk deck coped quite well, as the gold merfolk with protection did a sterling job of blocking most of the rest of our creatures. Andy eventually ran it over, though, with a horde of Invasion bad boys.

My deck lasted quite a long time, as I had lots of 3/3 creatures, but I noticed one fatal flaw: Blastoderm. Blastoderm in multiplayer is just not as good as any number of much more expensive big green creatures. I’d rather be playing with Child of Gaea instead. It’s a much funnier card for a start, but it also sticks around for more than three turns.

All in all, I’m getting back into multiplayer magic. (One of us, one of us – The Ferrett) The lack of pressure, the friendly atmosphere, the fact that you don’t have to play against people you don’t like playing against. It all adds up to a good night’s entertainment. That’s not to say I’ll stop going to tourneys or thinking about Type II for most of my waking hours – I won’t. I WILL, however, start building multiplayer decks again. I used to build two new multiplayer decks every week. I probably won’t get back to that, but the older cards tucked away in cardboard boxes are about to see the light again.

To finish, as ever, a few decks for you. This week, multiplayer decks. I know that multiplayer decks tend to be very personal to their players and, from what I’ve read, most people build their own with their own quirks and surprises. These decks are the latest version of a pair of decks that have given me a lot of fun though, and someone out there might be stuck for an idea for a deck so here they are. As you’ll soon see, I can’t quite escape from the tourney deckbuilder mentality, but I’m getting there.

Thallids Attack!

Thallids – the core of the deck:
2x Feral Thallid
4x Thallid
4x Thallid Devourer
4x Thorn Thallid

2x Spore Flower
2x Elvish Farmer
2x Femeref Archers

2x Kaysa
2x Overrun
2x Fungal Bloom

Library manipulation/card reuse:
1x Elven Cache
1x Regrowth
2x Gaea’s Blessing
2x Phyrexian Vault
2x Enlightened Tutor
2x Worldly Tutor

2x Gaea’s Cradle
1x Heart of Yavimaya
14x Forest
1x Wasteland
1x Strip Mine
2x Treetop Village
2x Stalking Stones
1x Quicksand

Thallids have always been one of my favourite creature types. I love the way they all make little Saprolings. It conjures up a real image in my mind of the fungus slowly taking over the forest. The deck isn’t too fast, and doesn’t overpower opponents. There aren’t many cards that opponents hate, but they soon learn.

Fungal Bloom is one of the first things to get killed, as with a few saprolings in play and Gaea’s Cradle untapped, one of your opponents is soon to be on the end of a very nasty Overrun.

The library manipulation gives you a little of everything, and you can get pretty much anything back from your graveyard again and again.

The land is pretty simple: A few sources of green and lots of fun things to do.

Tap, Draw, SLUG DEATH!

Kill cards:
4x Giant Slug

Cards that tap things:
1x Puppet Strings
1x Ring of Gix
1x Icy Manipulator
1x Master Decoy
1x Benalish Trapper
1x Thornscape Apprentice
1x Stormscape Apprentice

Cards that draw cards (and help with mana):
1x Jayemdae Tome
1x Elkin Bottle
1x Urza’s Blueprints
2x Barbed Sextant
2x Astrolabe
2x Chromatic Sphere
1x Temporal Aperture

Library manipulation/card reuse:
2x Tinker
2x Crop Rotation
2x Elven Cache
2x Raise Dead
2x Harrow

4x Quirion Elves
2x Voltaic Key
3x Disenchant

2x Island
3x Plains
4x Swamp
6x Forest
3x Gemstone Mine
2x Dust Bowl

This deck is even odder than the last, but another favourite of mine. You need to see a couple of tappers and quite a reasonable amount of land, but once it gets going you’re never really bored.

Both of these decks come from a multiplayer environment that isn’t very aggressive. Most of us attack people who look like they need attacking, rather than the ones whose decks haven’t done anything yet. This leads for a slow, developing game. Both of these decks love that type of environment. In a more aggressive game you’ll probably need to add some regenerating blockers (River Boa to the Thallid deck and Will-O’-The-Wisp to the Slug deck).

So, I’m signing off for another week. I’ve had a lot of problems with my mail recently (both sending and receiving). We’ve changed ISPs and had to rebuild our mail server a few times. I know that I’ve lost a lot of mail so, if you emailed and I didn’t get back, please resend and I’ll try to get back to you this week instead. Next week I’ll get back to strategy.

Good luck to everyone taking part in tournaments this weekend. I’d say that I hope you all win – but you can’t ALL win, can you? So instead, I hope you all do better than your worst fears and at least as good as you all deserve.

Cheers, Jim.
Team PhatBeats
[email protected]