It’s the very beginning of the Block Constructed PTQ season. What people want, more than anything else, is Block tech. However, since I am writing this just before the first big event in the format — GP: Montreal — I’m going to have to talk about something else. If I do say anything about Block, the odds of looking like an idiot are way too high.
What to say? A quick trip to the “drafts and ideas” folder showed me one possibility: my Future Sight review. I started this back when Future Sight was just spoiled, but never finished it.
The main focus of my set reviews is multiplayer and casual play. That’s how I started, back when I was writing a Casual Play column on The Dojo, and later on this site. I still prefer casual multiplayer paper games to nearly everything else. So I do multiplayer set reviews.
As I was writing this one, however, I noted that my set review was turning into a treatise on multiplayer gaming.
Well, that seems okay. Given that the set has been out, even on MTGO, for a while, talking about the nuts and bolts of multiplayer seems at least as useful as a pure set review.
Besides, my set reviews for multiplayer and casual are generally pretty short. I dismiss a whole ton of cards, since they offer nothing new to what is, basically, Vintage Lite.
Look at Blind Phantasm, for example. It is basically a little blocker — something to drop to discourage attackers, or at least convince your opponents to attack someone else, instead. However, with thousands of other cards to choose from, I’m going to think about cards like Hammerhead Shark (same, but cheaper), Wall of Tears (bounce is good), Glacial Wall (fatter butt), Fog Bank (cheaper, flier, immune to damage), Drift of Phantasms (flying, tutor) or even Stinging Barrier (0/4 Tim) long before I ever think about adding BP. Frankly, a ton of similar cards are just better — and I’m not even thinking about rares here. I probably wouldn’t play Blind Phantasm casually unless I was playing some sort of 10,000 card highlander deck.
So, in a set review, I’d just skip Blind Phantasm.
That same reasoning applies to most of the cards that are included in a set mainly for Limited play, and since that describes a good portion of any given set nowadays, multiplayer set reviews can be pretty short.
Q. What’s the difference between “The Future Sight Multiplayer Set Review “ and “The Top Twenty Multiplayer Cards in Future Sight?”
A. Two cards.
Actually, when I started this list, I highlighted 39 cards to talk about. However, a large number of those are examples of what not to play in multiplayer. Stronghold Rats is a great example. The Rats can almost certainly connect with some player’s nose every turn in a multiplayer game. However, the rats make everyone discard a card. That is going to make everyone upset — no one likes losing cards.
Best-case scenario: Someone shoots your Rat, and everyone leaves you alone — until you do something else annoying or dangerous. In this scenario, the Rats are basically useless, except that they can create this:
Worst-case scenario: Your opponents decide that losing more cards to the Rats will hurt them too badly, and their only real chance is to kill you before you get another attack. So they do (kill you, that is).
I have a simple rule in multiplayer: I never want to look threatening or annoy until I can kill the table. Or, at the very least, until I have rendered all my opponents helpless.
Here’s what I try never to announce in a multiplayer game:
“During my first main phase, play Goblin War Drums” (Goblin War Drums: Enchantment: Each creature you control can’t be blocked except by two or more creatures.)
“Attack phase: send with Nactal War-Pride.”
Sure, it’s a nifty combo. You get a bunch of unblockable 3/3s, and should be able to kill all opponents in a dozen or so turns. The downside is that you are quite obviously a threat — and your combo pieces are vulnerable. The whole table is going to be trying to disrupt that, and throwing everything from Terrors to Naturalizes (okay, more like Control Magic and Orim’s Thunder) at your stuff.
Now, in theory, you could play something like Privileged Position and a Sterling Grove, and make your War Stuff (War Drums and War Pride) immune to targeted removal. That is not better. Instead, since your opponents are threatened, and can’t remove the threat, they will remove the threatener.
On the opposite extreme, here’s the line I really like to use in multiplayer games — and actually have, quite often.
“That’s game. You all lose.” Followed by, “let me explain…”
I have a couple favorite multiplayer decks that I threw together years ago, but keep in my bag for games against new players at the shop, or to see if my regular opponents have gotten Alzheimer’s.
One looks like a basic Green beats deck.
It starts with some walls and mana acceleration: 4 Wall of Blossoms, 4 Wall of Roots, 4 Argothian Elders (tap, untap two lands). It has a scattering of utility cards (Regrowth, Naturalize, Creeping Mold, a couple Mazes of Ith, Gaea’s Blessing, Silklash Spider, Eternal Witness, etc.) It also runs a couple copies of Rocket Launcher “to deal with Royal Assassins, and crap like that.” Finally, it has a smattering of fatties: Gargantuan Gorilla, Silvos, Rogue Elemental, Thorn Elemental, etc.
Spotted the win, yet?
If you said Silvos, you aren’t paying attention. Even in a relaxed, casual multiplayer, Silvos is a pretty big target. I usually throw him out there just so I can look sad when someone hits him with Annihilate, Spite/Malice, or Duplicant. Silvos and company are just there as distractions — the scantily dressed girls who grab your attention while the magician slips the elephant up his sleeve.
Would it help it I mentioned that the deck also has one Whetstone — a Korean one, at that.
Basically, this deck aims to do one thing: get a Maze of Ith and Rocket Launcher (or Whetstone) into play, then attack with an Argothian Elder*.
And, for obvious reasons, it only does that once a night. After that, the opponents know enough to kill the Elder on sight, or at least before he can be declared as an attacker.
For me, being subtle is a huge part of multiplayer success.
Which brings us to our first card review:
Creatures you control have flying, first strike, vigilance, trample, haste, protection from black, and protection from red.
This has all the subtlety of a Flamethrower outfitted with sirens and soaked in skunk juice. Anyone who has ever faced one of these in Draft or — worse yet — Sealed knows how truly annoying this is. Akroma’s Memorial makes anything threatening.
Take Stalking Tiger, for instance. In multiplayer, Stalking Tiger looks like this:
But add Akroma’s Memorial, and it looks like this:
The only way to play the Memorial, and not look immediately threatening, is to have no creatures in play.
Here’s a picture of absolutely no creatures at all, with Akroma’s Memorial.
So, if I were building a deck around Akroma’s Memorial, I would play something like this:
* mana acceleration, like Thran Dynamo, Mindtone, etc.
* Icy Manipulators
* creature control, like Portcullis, Purging Scythe, etc.
* Forge[/author]“]Darksteel [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author] (so no one destroys my artifacts)
* The Abyss, Moat or stuff like that.
* Mycrosynth Lattice (so that all my stuff is an artifact, and indestructible)
And, finally, March of the Machines or Karn, Silver Golem.
I would play March or Karn last, so I wouldn’t telegraph the effect. Once I had made all my non-creature artifacts into creatures, then I could beat down with a flying, first striking, protection from stuff, trampling hasty Memorial itself, as well as Icy Manipulators and all the rest. Moreover, on a good day, I might well be able to resolve the Lattice / March combo — which kills all lands in play, now and forevermore.
More probably, I would not play Akroma’s Memorial at all — but if the group you play with likes beatdown and skimps on Disenchant effects, play it. You’ll have a ball, until they team up and kill you.
Let’s move on to the next card:
Angel of Salvation
Creature — Angel
Flash; convoke; Flying.
When Angel of Salvation comes into play, prevent the next 5 damage that would be dealt this turn to any number of target creatures and/or players, divided as you choose.
It costs a pazillion mana, even with convoke, and the creature you get is not really all that spectacular (compared to Reya, Dawnbringer, or any of the Invasion or Planar Chaos three color dragons.) No, what’s actually useful is the flash and damage prevention ability.
Seriously. This is multiplayer, after all.
The damage prevention ability can buy you allies.
It can buy forgiveness.
It can buy the enemy of your enemy more time, or more weapons.
Imagine this scenario:
A multiplayer game was dominated by Bill’s Avatar of Woe, until someone finally managed to off it. Now, one of two things happens:
1) You drop a 5/5 flier, and suddenly have a huge evasive threat.
2) Tom attacks Bill with an unblockable dude, then Ninjitsu’s out Ink Eyes — getting set to steal the Avatar. You bust out the Angel, prevent all damage that would be dealt by Ink-Eyes and keep the Avatar safely in the graveyard. Everyone is happy — and overlooks the fact that you now have a huge, evasive threat.
It’s all about people’s perceptions.
Seriously — people get upset when you dump a bucket of icy water over their head, but not when their hair is on fire. The trick is to have the ice-water ready when you need.
Angel of Salvation is almost as good as a bucket of ice-water.
In other words, once in a blue moon you might find a use for it.
Search target player’s library for a card and remove that card from the game. Then that player shuffles his or her library. Gravestorm (When you play this spell, copy it for each permanent put into a graveyard this turn. You may choose new targets for the copies.)
Years ago, I had a combo deck that revolved around Myr Retriever, Ashnod’s Altar, and Disciple of the Vault. The deck was pretty solid, but if people killed the Disciples, it was harder to win. Bitter Ordeal would work just as well — just swap Myr Retrievers 500 times, then cast Bitter Ordeal and remove everyone’s libraries from the game.
Even if you are not running a combo, you can stall a bit with cards like Wall of Souls, let everyone overcommit, then cast Damnation and Bitter Ordeal. In multiplayer, Damnation can take out a lot of creatures. At the very least, you should be able to neuter a combo deck or two, or strip some control decks of their win conditions.
Until your next turn, creatures can’t attack you. Remove Chronomantic Escape from the game with three time counters on it. Suspend 3-2W
Obviously, this only works when your opponents are playing creature-based decks. If they have combo decks, or control decks, or can just wait, it may not do any good. On the other hand, it will prevent all other players from attacking until your next turn, and if you can cast /suspend copies on the other two turns as well, you can create a very tough lock for many decks.
Of this entire cycle, this may be the best card — for multiplayer at least. It has a significant and useful effect — but it is not annoying or threatening in a way that makes you a target. Of the rest of the cycle, Arc Blade does too little, too slowly (but it is still far better than the green one.) The Black card, Festering March, should eliminate a lot of the annoying little enablers (Birds of Paradise, Royal Assassins, Peace Keepers, some Magi, etc), while not being too upsetting to your opponents. Finally, the Blue Boomerang, Reality Strobe is mildly annoying, but could be useful — and you can always bounce your own lands, if you want to make a point of being politically correct.
Politically correct? Like being political? Are you saying that politics plays a part in multiplayer games?
Does the Pope sh** in the woods?
Look, I’m not really all that good a player. I have no poker face, and I’m sloppy. On the other hand, I can talk my way into, out of and around practically anything.
That’s how I win multiplayer games.
True story: back in my college days, I had a summer job as a door-to-door fundraiser for a non-profit group. One day, a guy met me at his door with a 12-gauge shotgun. He was totally pissed off about door-to-door fundraisers.
I got him to give me $10.
When Imperial Mask comes into play, if it’s not a token, each of your teammates puts a token into play that’s a copy of Imperial Mask.
You can’t be the target of spells or abilities your opponents control.
In one multiplayer group I play with, we have a rule: Emperors cannot play combo decks. That rule exists because it is too simple for the Emperor to sit back and assemble a combo, then just win. Imperial Mask might be almost as bad — at the very least if can shut off a lot of options for the opponents.
It will be far better in Emperor than Ivory Mask is in, well, anything. Then again, sucks is far better than sucks a ton — but I’d rather avoid both.
Hmmm, I’m wondering about building a non-combo Mesa Enchantress deck for Emperor. The trick will be to avoid combos, and to avoid cards that screw my pawns — and to still actually have the deck do something beyond draw cards.
I’ll have to think about that. Certainly nothing is springing to mind.
You may choose a multicolored card you own from outside the game, reveal that card, and put it into your hand. Remove Glittering Wish from the game.
As I once said about the Onslaught Wishes — Glittering Wish gives you the one thing multiplayer games have never had: home field advantage. I can get anything from my boxes of cards, since casual multiplayer isn’t sanctioned and doesn’t use sideboards.
Cauldron Dance for the win, dudz!
Bet you didn’t see that coming.
Actually, I just love toolbox decks, and tutoring for answers. Glittering Wish is like a new puppy. Better yet, in casual, Ravnica won’t rotate out, so my new puppy will still be cute and cuddly for a long time. In Standard, by comparison, once Ravnica leaves Glittering Wish will be like badly aged wood: good for nothing but slivers.
Choose target attacking or blocking creature. Scry 3, then reveal the top card of your library. Judge Unworthy deals damage equal to that card’s converted mana cost to that creature.
I have a favorite nearly mono-White control deck (nearly, since I splash an Island to pay kicker on Dismantling Blow.) I have tried various removal spells in the deck. Swords to Plowshares is clearly the best. I have one Second Thoughts in the deck, there mainly because it is a cantrip. I also run an Exile or two, because “remove from the game” is much better than “destroy.” Still, Judge Unworthy might find its way into the deck, because Scry is so danged useful.
In multiplayer, cards generally need to pull double duty to be considered, and Judge Unworthy does that.
Creature – Giant Warrior
Cowards can’t block Warriors.
R: Target creature’s type becomes Coward until end of turn.
2R: Target creature’s type becomes Warrior until end of turn.
This reminds me of a LOLcat picture. You know, the cute pictures of cats, with misspelled captions that make bad jokes. Boldwyr Intimidator would be captioned something like:
“Im in ur combat faze, messin wit ur blockz.”
You can have all kinds of fun with a card like this, enabling and disabling attacks, but, in the end, someone with a real deck is going to just kill you.
Enchantment — Aura
Enchant instant card in a graveyard.
Whenever you play a sorcery spell, copy the enchanted instant card. You may play the copy without paying its mana cost. If you do, remove the enchanted card from the game and attach Spellweaver Volute to another instant card in a graveyard.
I am seriously considering putting a Spellweaver Volute into my Elder Dragon Highlander deck. The first consideration, however, is whether I have enough sorceries to make the thing work. Ideally, you want to have a bunch of buyback or reusable sorceries — but also have enough instants to make sure you have something to enchant.
I see this as a fun card, which is what most of my EDH deck is. I don’t see it as very consistent (look, nothing worth casting in any graveyard), and I see it as easily disrupted (got graveyard hate?). I do see it as being cute at times, and fun in certain situations. That’s what EDH, and multiplayer in general, should be all about.
Hey, I play Mundungu in my EDH decks. I think Spellweaver Volute could be at about that power level. Of course, you could try to build a combo deck around it, but I don’t think that would be as much fun. If you want a true combo, there are far better options. However, if you want to just goof off, this might be a good card to try out.
I’ll be tweaking my EDH deck before PT: San Diego. I’ll see if I can find room.
Speaking of which, I need to head out now. Later.
“one million words” on MTGO
* Attack with Elder, tap a Forest for G, use Maze untap the Elder (Maze does NOT remove him from combat), use Elder to untap Maze and Forest, repeat 500 times, machine gun everyone with the Rocket Launcher, or deck everyone with Whetstone.