First of all, dear readers, I apologize for turning in a less-than-dazzling column. Unfortunately, one of my ferrets— yes, I do own them, how do you think I got the name?— died of seizures at the vet last night, and I’m not really feeling well enough to write my usual scintillating prose. Sleepy, the albino weasel that I had taken care of and petted for near seven years, meant an awful lot to me. I’ll miss the little guy.
So what you get is a straight column that I’ve been toying with on multiplayer goldfishing. This is actually a pretty good standard to see how your deck will fare in a four-player free-for-all. Next week, as I don’t anticipate I’ll be feeling any better, I will finally reveal the kinds of decks I play with. So there ya go.
This solo game is intended to see how your decks will hold up in a free-for-all multiplayer game.
See, the problem with goldfishing is that it’s all about dealing damage, which is not necessarily what multiplayer is about. Unlike most solo games, which run straight from“setup” to“endgame”, in multiplayer there is often— nay, usually— a midgame where you’re jockeying for position to see who will come out on top. I’ve had decks that were great goldfishes and still weren’t great multiplayer decks, simply because they could bring it all out but got disrupted… or couldn’t handle a counterassault once they were done.
Sligh decks, counter decks, and straight weenie decks are a prime example of GREAT single-player decks and HORRIBLE multiplayer decks.
What I wanted to simulate was a full-out multiplayer assault where your opponents are all aware of your big scary deck— and are working in force to get you. There is increasing threat each round as your opponents get stronger and try to crush you. Eventually, you die, of course. But how long can you bring out threats to hold off their threats?
If you want to gauge your deck’s efficiency, play against this ten times and see how well you fare. The higher the average number of turns you last, the better your deck is. I call this number the Ferrett Rating, mainly because I’m the only one who uses it. I’m also hoping it becomes really popular and eventually my name goes down in the annals of Magic, along with Sligh.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
A deck (duh)
A piece of paper to keep track of both turn and round number.
Twenty (20) chits representing creatures, with each chit having a number from 1/1 to 20/20.
HOW TO PLAY:
Unlike regular Magic, there is only one turn, in which both you and your pseudo-opponents go. Your opponent casts and attacks at the beginning and end of your turn, while you cast in the middle. Start with twenty life as usual, and lose when you hit zero.
Each turn has six stages:
Stage One: Your Opponents Cast Creatures.
Stage Two: You Get To Cast Stuff
Stage Three: Your Opponents Attack
Stage Four: Adjusting The Round Number
Stage Five: Your Opponents React
Stage Six: Up The Turn Number And Round Number
STAGE 1: YOUR OPPONENTS CAST CREATURES
At the beginning of every turn, your opponent puts an X/X creature into play, where X is the current round number. (The round number starts out the same as the turn number, but can get adjusted by global reset spells like Armageddon and so on.) So the first turn you have a 1/1 creature to deal with, the second round he throws out a 2/2 critter, round three brings a 3/3, and so on. They don’t suffer from summoning sickness*, and attack at the end of every turn.
Needless to say, the game starts getting QUITE interesting by round 8 or so. You can do this without the little chits I mentioned, but keeping track eventually becomes overwhelming.
STAGE 2: YOU GET TO CAST STUFF
You can do anything in this round that you would normally do in a turn of Magic… EXCEPT ATTACK. (The key here is that we’re checking to see how strong your defenses are— and a good offense is a great defense. The creatures are supposed to simulate ALL threats your opponent will throw at you. That 6/6 monster is the equivalent of two Lightning Bolts.)
Otherwise, all the usual rules apply. Cast your creatures, enchantments, or artifacts, or kill or neutralize your opponent’s creatures.
Your opponent’s creatures can be killed in five ways:
1) They can be killed by any spell which would normally kill a creature (Terror, Shock, Serrated Arrows, Thrashing Wumpus damage, et cetera).
2) They can be counterspelled. It is assumed that you would have countered the creature at the beginning of the round before it would have been cast, so countermagic removes one creature of your choosing.
3) Any damage that would normally be dealt to opponents damages creatures… but only once. Sizzle, for example, does 3 to every player— but it deals only 3 damage to one creature here.
4) Any spells that destroy enchantments or creatures have a 50% chance of killing a critter. Flip a coin; if it’s heads, you lucked out. If not, nothing happens.
5) They can be killed in the upcoming combat phase.
Bouncing a creature back to your opponent’s hand just means that they can cast it again the next turn, in addition to their regular creature. So if you Snap that 2/2 creature, it won’t be there to attack this turn… but at the beginning of the next turn your opponents will play that 2/2 and a 3/3.
Yes, yes, yes. I know there are other spells than creature casting. They affect the round number, and we’ll get to them in a bit.
STAGE 3: YOUR OPPONENTS ATTACK.
At the end of every round, unless you have some spell or effect that stops them from doing otherwise**, your opponents attack with all of the creatures they have left, with one notable exception:
If you have a creature in place that can kill one of your opponent’s creatures— or block it without dying— you can set that creature aside to prevent your opponent’s creature from attacking.
That’s a technically correct but complex definition, so let’s give examples to make it easier. This is supposed to simulate creature standoffs, so use your own judgment.
· If you have a 1/1 Mother of Runes and your opponent has a 1/1, you can use good ol’ Mom to stall the 1/1 since Mom can kill it.
· If you have a 0/4 wall and your opponent has a 3/3 creature, you can stop the 3/3 from attacking by putting your wall in front of it. After all, it wouldn’t do your fictitious enemies any good to attack, since you’d just block, so they won’t.
· But come the next turn, when you still have that 0/4 wall and your opponent now has a 4/4 creature, you can’t stop the 4/4 from attacking. The 4/4 would kill your wall, and your relentless opponent will happily see your wall dead.
· If your opponent has a 2/2 and a 3/3 out, you can use that 0/4 to only stall one of them. After all, your opponent is trying to swarm you. (And don’t get sneaky and use the wall to stall a 2/2 and then block the 3/3— once you stall, that creature can’t block anymore.)
Clear now? Good. A coupla notes here:
· Note that you can choose to have your enemy attack even if it’s not in his best interests. In fact, you should do this to clear critters out as soon as possible.
· Your enemy’s as smart as what they can see on the table. If you have a Shivan and three untapped mountains, then your opponents know your Shiv can deal 8 damage. If you have a Thrashing Wumpus and a hidden Dark Ritual in your hand, then your opponents are out of luck.
· Speaking of smart, be smart. Playing your opponent as if he were dumb only makes your deck seem better than it is.
If any creatures have taken enough damage to die, they’re dead. On to the next stage.
STAGE 4: ADJUSTING THE ROUND NUMBER.
The round number is the number of turns you have taken, minus any advantages for spells you have cast.
You can change the round number by casting following spells:
· Any mass-destruction spells that bury all of your opponents’ creatures (think Wrath Of God, not Massacre): -2 from the round number.
· Any mass land-destruction (Armageddon, Jokulhaups): -4 from the round number
· Causing your opponents to discard a card: Flip a coin. If it’s heads, -1.
· Destroying an opponent’s land: Flip a coin. If it’s heads, -1. (And believe me, I’m being generous here.)
So if it’s the seventh turn, but you’ve sent a False Prophet packing and made everyone go away, the round number is 7 minus 2: At the beginning of the next turn, your opponent will cast a 5/5 critter.
STAGE 5: YOUR OPPONENTS REACT.
If you have some really cool artifact or enchantment in play that is messing up the game for your opponents— and I’m not going to tell you what they are, because you know damn well what your opponents would take out if they had the chance— then they will try to kill it.
The round after you cast it, start flipping a coin. If it’s heads, one of your nasty opponents has done away with it. So you get two free turns and then it starts to go bye-bye.
Incidentally, this applies to creatures as well. Don’t think you can get away with using that Wall Of Glare/Mother Of Runes trick forever. The turn after that Dawnstrider/Squee combo starts holding off your opponents, start flipping that coin.
(Incidental to the incidentally, protection from a generic color doesn’t mean squat in this game. However, if you can CHOOSE protection from a color, like from a Cho-Manno’s Blessing or a Story Circle, it’ll work.)
STAGE SIX: UP THE TURN NUMBER AND THE ROUND NUMBER
Do what it says, chumley. Start again until you’re dead.
As stated before, get an average of how many turns you can last. The better that number is, the better your MP deck will be.
There are exceptions, of course, but we’ll get to them in a future column.
NEXT ARTICLE: A Final Teaser Before The Ferrett Finally Admits What A Horrible Player He Really Is
*— Okay, you newbies… they all have haste. But I HATE the word haste. Basically,“summoning sickness” was really cool, it kept the magical flavor in Magic, and it made it really easy to understand why creatures can’t attack or use tappy things each turn. Am I the only one hacked off that Wizards changed this?
** — By the way, your opponents have infinite mana to pay for Propaganda costs. Nice try, bunkie.