The Kitchen Table #139: Real Multiplayer Essentials

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Recently there’s been a spate of writers on various sites that have tried to explain some basic staple cards for everybody to collect. The problem with this is simple. I don’t think some of these guys have ever seriously played Casual Magic.

You want to know how I know? It’s simple…

Recently there’s been a spate of writers on various sites that have tried to explain some basic staple cards for everybody to collect. The problem with this is simple. I don’t think some of these guys have ever seriously played Casual Magic.

You want to know how I know? It’s simple. Orim’s Thunder. There’s no Orim’s Thunder. Orim’s Thunder is the best artifact and enchantment removal spell ever printed, period. If you aren’t recommending Orim’s Thunder in all Red/White decks that are looking for some removal, you either have a really weird deck, or you don’t know Casual Magic.

Today I thought that I’d look at some of the real multiplayer essentials. These are cards that are vital to success. Are you looking to get ahead of the competition in multiplayer games? This article is for you.

I’m not going to assume that you have any sort of cardpool. All sorts of players play multiplayer, and some just don’t have many cards. As such, you can expect to see some commons and uncommons in here, in addition to some cheap rares. Also, all of the cards I mention today are going to be cheap. Hopefully, you’ll find some inspiration in here.

Let’s take a look:


Orim’s Thunder — As mentioned above, nothing is better than Orim’s Thunder at being a Disenchant. If you are playing the colors, then play the Thunder without hesitation. The added ability to pop a creature when desired is so good, so tasty, so universally helpful, that the Thunder will become your new best friend. In multiplayer, you want to maximize your answers, and the Thunder is an answer to two separate threats in one handy card.

Aura of SilenceIf you are going to play a Disenchant effect other than Orim’s Thunder, (or you are not playing Red/White) then look no further than Aura of Silence. This great enchantment works on all foes, requiring them to pay two extra mana to play artifacts and enchantments. When you need to kill something, just sacrifice it to pop an artifact or enchantment. It’s is a very useful and versatile card. Not only does it slow down opponents but it also acts as a Seal of Cleansing.

Shattering PulseIn multiplayer, it’s been my experience that artifacts are more likely to be played, but enchantments that are played are more likely to be good. Lots of small artifacts are played, like Artifact Lands, Signets, small artifact creatures, and so forth. Occasionally, artifact removal hits a Memnarch or Mind’s Eye. Enchantment removal usually takes out a Sylvan Library, Future Sight, Mirari’s Wake or other powerful enchantment. However, there are fewer enchantments in decks out there. Therefore, over the course of a game, if you were to hypothetically have in your hand a Demystify and an Oxidize, you’d find the Oxidize had more targets but the Demystify’s targets were better. Shattering Pulse is great because it’s buyback artifact removal. Therefore, whenever you have free mana, you can just throw it at a small artifact, and you still have it for the major artifact targets later.

ExpungeAlong the lines of maximizing usefulness, Expunge has some that other Terror effects do not. It has a way to use it, even if the only creatures you care about are Black and/or artifact. Someone is eventually going to pull out creatureless deck that prevents most other creatures from seeing play. When the Humility/Aether Flash deck hits the table, your Expunges will still cycle, so they aren’t completely useless.

Rend FleshThe Expunge is useful against creatureless decks. However, note that it requires you to cycle it to be useful in many other situations, like going up against a mono-Black deck. Rend Flesh, however, can kill most of those creatures too. It is arguably the third best creature removal spell ever printed (Swords to Plowshares and Terminate being the other two above it).

Flametongue KavuYou can get played ones for a lot cheaper than they normally go for. FTK is arguably the best 187 creature ever. It’s big, splashable, a threat in combat, and able to kill Serra Angels, Sengir Vampires and Platinum Angels with ease. The biggest two things it has going for it are it’s large power and its large amount of damage. You can easily off a major creature, then still have a four-power beater to send into the breach. It works great with haste effects, recursion, bounce, and more. FTK is arguably one of the top uncommons ever made, and it is going to be useful in your decks, I promise.

Avalanche RidersWhat’s not to like about Avalanche Riders? They pop a land, they have haste and swing for two, and they can be recurred from the graveyard or bounced and replayed. The Riders are friends of cards like Erratic Portal, Haunted Crossroads, and so forth. Even if you are not playing other land removal, you still want to be able to handle the occasional land like Vitu-Ghazi.

Thornscape BattlemageI swear by this card. This is a 2/2 that for one additional mana each can pop an artifact and deal two to a target player or creature. Its kicker costs are cheap and its usefulness is high. As such, the Battlemage is useful at many things. In multiplayer, card advantage is more useful that in duels, so a creature that destroys two permanents and stays around is great.

Silklash SpiderThis is one of the best creatures ever made for multiplayer for one basic reason. It can block Akroma and live. Akroma players (and by extension, Spirit of the Night players and Rorix players) will play their big, fat, hasted, flying creature of doom and then promptly attack somewhere else because you have a Spider out. When you get the mana, not only will the Silklash block an Akroma, but it will kill it as well. This is one of the most useful creatures ever printed, and if you don’t believe me, play them in your multiplayer deck and find out.

Spite/Malice — This is a counterspell for something important, or a creature removal spell for something important. Either way, there is always something you can use Spite/Malice on. No split card is more useful, except for Where/When/What/Who/Why.

Pyroclasm (See also: Infest) — Nothing says “Get Them Little Critters off my Board” better than a Pyroclasm (Infest). Lots of players play weenie decks, and Pyroclasm (Infest) can slow them down significantly. It will also off utility creatures like Birds of Paradise and Weathered Wayfarer. Pyroclasm (Infest) is truly a great way to handle the small creatures so you don’t have to waste your removal. Just remember to play creatures with a defense higher than two!

Retribution of the MeekNothing says “Get Them Big Critters off my Board” better than a Retribution of the Meek. Lots of players play big creature decks, and Retribution of the Meek can slow them down significantly. It will also off utility creatures like Arc-Slogger and Bringer of the Blue Dawn. Retribution of the Meek is truly a great way to handle the big creatures so you don’t have to waste your removal. Just remember to play creatures with a power lower than four!

Abe’s Note — For real power, play a deck with creatures with a power lower than four and a toughness three or higher. Then play both of these removal options and watch as your creatures never die!


Wall of BlossomsI like a wall that can block a lot of guys and still just costs two mana. It also gives you a card when you play it. I think a wall like this ought to be played in an awful lot of multiplayer decks. In fact, I think a wall like this would easily, hands down, win my award for Best Wall Ever. Play it and love it.

Sakura-Tribe ElderIt’s been dominating Standard for a while now, so hopefully you’ll know how good the STE is. However, if you are the one person who has no idea how useful the STE is, then I’m mentioning it here for you.

Weathered WayfarerLand Tax might cost the same, but it’s not nearly as good in multiplayer. The Wayfarer is much better for several reasons. First, it’s a creature, so it can block an annoying attacker. Second of all, you can only retrieve one land, instead of three, so it feels less broken to opponents, who may let it hang around for a turn or two. Third, you can get any land, which helps get Kor Haven, Maze of Ith, Volrath’s Stronghold, and so forth. All of these combine to make the Wayfarer a vital card to many White decks in multiplayer.

Spike WeaverYou can get some played ones here for just a couple of bucks. The Spike Weaver is one of the great creatures of all time. Nothing does what it does. You play it, and all of a sudden, nothing is gained by attacking you for three attacks. It says that you have three Fog effects, and you are not afraid to use them. Combine with recursion like, say, a Hell’s Caretaker, and you can never be attacked again. Compare this card with Dawnstrider to see how much better this is. You can even swing with the Weaver in your turn for damage, then Fog when someone attacks. The fact you can ignore attacks often sends attackers elsewhere.

Temple AcolyteThe Taco is one of the best creatures to mug up the ground. For just two mana, you get a 1/3 that also gives you a three-life bump. I’m not normally about lifegain, but getting a sizable bump on the body of a two mana 1/3 creature is great. The Taco (T.emple Aco.lyte) will block most early creatures successfully and can even swing to get in a hit when needed. Between the life and the early game defense, the Taco is truly a great card.

Krosan TuskerOne of the true greats of Green, the Tusker is a fine beater later in the game, a mana smoother in the early game, and a way to draw a card. The beauty of this card is that it helps you win early and late, and that’s something for a mana fixer. If you draw a Kodama’s Reach late game, there’s nothing really you can do with it, but a Tusker is still a 6/5 creature.


Cycle Lands — There are a lot of decks that can benefit from the ten cycle lands. Monocolored decks can run four and use them as a way to sift through the deck. This is especially useful in the four non-Blue colors. Since Blue has better and cheaper ways of sifting through cards, Lonely Sandbar and Remote Isle aren’t as useful as the other colors. Not all decks can use these, but a lot can, and it’s always nice to have a bunch to toss into decks.

Deep AnalysisNot everyone has a lot of Fact or Fictions to toss into every deck they build. If you don’t, you may be trying to find a solid draw card that can net you several cards for your deck. That’s where Deep Analysis can kick in. Initially two cards is okay, but the ability to make it two more later is very nice. This card plays well with a slew of other cards, from discard to Tolarian Serpent. I’m sure Deep Analysis will find a home in your decks.

SkullclampAlthough some formats have banned or restricted Skullclamp, that doesn’t mean that you can’t play it around the kitchen table. Your group may be fine with the Clamp. If so, make sure you can play a few and turn your deck into a crazy card drawing machine. You should be able to acquire these easily as I still know people trying to unload Clamps.

Fellwar StoneI was about to create a category for Medallions, Signets and other two-mana artifacts that soothe your mana when I remembered that none of the recently printed cards matter. All that matters is the good ol’ Fellwar Stone. In multiplayer, every color will likely be played, giving you access to every color of mana with no extra cost. No comes into play tapped, no pain, and no pay a mana in order to tap it issues. This is just plain and simple.

Kodama’s ReachThis is another recently printed card that really holds up well against previous cards. This card, for three mana, allows you to solve two mana problems. You can get two colors while also accelerating your mana by a turn. When you consider how powerful that combination is, you realize just how good the Reach can be.

ProbeI love Probe. It draws you cards, which is good for any effect. It makes an opponent discard two cards, which is also good for any effect. The combination, carefully timed, can be devastating to an opponent. This is a great card. However, if you want pure discard, then you want…

UnnerveFor multiplayer discard, nothing is as powerful as an Unnerve. A resolved Unnerve can easily force the discard of ten or twelve cards from opponents’ hands while not touching yours at all. There are ways of forcing all of your opponents to discard more. However, if you play Unnerve, some players will still ignore you and attack someone else. If you make them discard their entire hand, then every player is coming after you.

CongregateCongregate is the ubiquitous life gaining spell of choice for multiplayer decks everywhere. For four humble mana, you can gain ten, sixteen, twenty or more life. Against decks that like producing token creatures, I’ve seen thirty or more life gained with no sweat. Four mana brings you a much larger dosage of life. This is undoubtedly the best life gaining spell ever printed, and you have only to play a handful of multiplayer games before you realize that.

Sylvan LibraryThe Library is one of the best enchantments you’ll ever play. You get better card draws, you can draw cards in an emergency for some life, and it’s not nearly powerful enough to require an opponent to destroy it. See, if you play, say, a Mirari’s Wake, every opponent with enchantment removal will fall over themselves to destroy it. However, if you play a Library, lots of players will choose to save their removal for something more deadly, like the aforementioned Wake. Therefore, this card is great and subtle.

I hope you enjoyed this trek through some real multiplayer essentials. I’ve tried to steer clear of obvious deck stock like Counterspell and Impulse and Stone Rain. Instead, the list may have a few cards that you never considered for your multiplayer decks. These are cards I’d swear by, if I swore, which I don’t usually.

Until next time, when I’ll likely be looking at all things Coldsnap!

Until later,

Abe Sargent