You CAN Play Type I #2: Why You Shouldn’t Force Of Will A Channeled Fireball

StarCity’s latest Featured Writer discusses some of the subtleties of Type One Play. Wow, aren’t we high on T1 now?

(link to Type I sucks please)

(link to Darren’s rebuttal please)

(link to rebuttal to the rebuttal please)

“Was Type One Sucks a vitriolic and widely-unfounded anti-Type One article? No; it was just the opposite. I laid myself on the line, took the criticism in the hopes that I could spring new life into a format that I love.” — Matt Smith, on Star City

I violently disagree, and I think that I speak for the majority of the regulars on Beyond Dominia, the”little patriots” as Mr. Smith referred to them.

The True Subtleties Of Type I

The Beyond Dominia community did not take Mr. Smith’s article very well, and I think he has yet to understand why, at least based on his e-mails to several of my regulars. And as a writer, I am deeply offended by the claim that no man should ever be called out for his writing and asked to defend it.

No one could understand Mr. Smith’s original article, but it was not simply because the flowery metaphors and”reverse psychology” were vague and incomprehensible. The more important reason: it presented no Type I strategy at all, despite Mr. Smith’s claims.

Simply put: Having a Force of Will in hand is not the crowning glory of Type I strategy!!!

(Aaaarrrrrrrrrgggggghhhh! Finally got that out of my system! Say it once more with me, with feeling!)

Mr. Smith’s central example was a Force of Will stopping a Channeled Fireball. To quote Mr. Smith:

“Sack the Lotus for three green, cast Channel and pay nineteen life?”


“Tap Ruby for red and fireball you for twenty?”

“I’ll pay one life and Force of Will the Fireball. You’re at one.”

This is hardly an example of a serious change in Type I (Alliances is hardly a new set) nor of any real skill. This lone example was, in fact, a very poor one.

(As an aside, he could have given the winner a Misdirection instead of a Force of Will, but this is hardly why the example was poor.)

First of all, Mr. Smith’s”ideal player” should have lost when he countered the Fireball. Why?

Because he should have been expecting Kaervek’s Torch, not a Fireball.

This, however, is just the shallowest of my criticism. The true skill of a Type I player would have been measured in the second game, after he Force of Willed that incredible Fireball. A true Type I player would have read into the opponent’s deck, and a true Type I writer would have written about this — whether in metaphors or something more easily understood.

What can you infer from a Black Lotus, a Channel, and a Fireball? Quite a lot. First of all, you would assume that the opponent’s deck is designed to reliably produce two green mana. Even with all the dual lands in Type I, this is no simple task, as any Moat-toting player knows.

To me, this would have meant two things: First, it could mean that my opponent was playing a poorly-constructed combo deck, most likely with a blue component of its own. I could confirm this guess by watching the cards played in the second game closely. If the guess proved right, I could then guess which cards to counter and how to force the combo apart. I could do a lot of things: I could attack certain lands with Wastelands, I could force a Mind Twist, I could change the timing of the counter war, I could split Fact or Fiction piles differently, and I could even attack his life total more aggressively, all depending on the rest of my deck.

As Darren”Azhrei” Di Battista already pointed out, however, the Channel combo deck is a weak and erratic deck. While anticipating it, nevertheless (due to the old-school nature of the friendly opponent), I would also be anticipating something else.

What comes with a lot of green and burn?

The logical deck would have Kird Ape and friends, something that resembled Trevor Blackwell’s Invitational deck (which the old school friend could easily have copied):

4 Kird Ape4 Kird Ape

4 Jackal Pup

2 Gorilla Shaman

4 Serendib Efreet


4 Lightning Bolt

3 Kaervek’s Torch

2 Pyroblast

4 Mana Drain

1 Ancestral Recall

1 Time Walk

1 Mystical Tutor

1 Vampiric Tutor

1 Demonic Tutor

1 Demonic Consultation

1 Mind Twist

1 Yawgmoth’s Will

1 Regrowth

1 Birds of Paradise

1 Chromatic Sphere

1 Sol Ring

1 Black Lotus

1 Mox Ruby

1 Mox Sapphire

1 Mox Jet

1 Mox Emerald

1 Strip Mine

3 Wasteland

4 City of Brass

4 Taiga

4 Volcanic Island

2 Tropical Island

2 Mishra’s Factory

Thus, the first-turn Channel would actually signal me to prepare for creatures. While keeping mana open to counter, I could go for The Abyss. I would probably be safer with Moat if I had it…. But even if I did not, an early Blastoderm would require my opponent to tap out and I could prepare to deal with it in some other way.

And, this is all without the benefit of seeing the Mox or land that accompanied the Black Lotus. A Badlands instead of a Mox Ruby, for example, might warn me of a possible Duress in the second game. A Badlands would be a clear indication that his deck was built to have black mana early. Type I decks usually have the black staples — Vampiric Tutor, Demonic Tutor and Yawgmoth’s Will — but rarely do they emphasize black mana just for these.

And why would it take a good, experienced player to note all this? Remember, there are no true net decks in Type I, and even the closest examples can have infinite variants given the size of the card pool. And a lesser player would refuse to play after seeing the combo. A good one would mutter,”Beginner’s luck” — and with good reason.

So, a simple mention of Force of Will — already discussed to death by frustrated Extended players — is hardly new, and talking down to more knowledgeable Type I players for concluding this speaks poorly of Mr. Smith.

“Mwaha…Mwha…Mwhahahaaa,” yourself, Mr. Smith.

Strategy With The Most Broken Card Pool Ever

Allow me to at least articulate what I believe Mr. Smith failed to. Let me speak briefly of the true depth of Type I strategy as a springboard for future columns:

He is right, at least, that Type I has radically changed since 1996. The Mirage Tutors have been restricted, and this has decreased the number of Ancestral Recalls one can have in a deck. Necropotence and even Demonic Consultation have been restricted, but Mind Twist is legal once again.

Yes — I said radically different, despite my short list of changes. What I enjoy so much about Type I is that a one-card change can redefine a deck, and tweaking is a more loving, more patient task with so many cards available. The possibility of a Mind Twist, for example, made so many subtle waves. It affected everything from the use of Wheel of Fortune and Timetwister to whether or not you would allow an opponent with black mana to get away with an early Mana Drain. And, it gave practically every control player a potent new tool to force through after the counter war.

Even more important, however, is the realization that Type I has changed precisely because of new expansions. True, it is inconceivable that there will ever be better versions of Ancestral Recall, Necropotence, Lightning Bolt and Swords to Plowshares. Nevertheless, each expansion brings a few gems that can compete with the best cards ever printed. Urza’s Saga, for example, brought Duress and Stroke of Genius. These scattered gems do add up, and some new cards are even powerful enough to redefine the format. After Misdirection, for example, the first-turn Ancestral Recall will never be played the same way again.

The best recent example is Fact or Fiction. Already powerful in Type II, it is one of the worst headaches in Type I… And in the strongest color Type I has to offer, and easily splashed at that. Yes, it is a broken, unrestricted card drawer — but more than this, it gave Type I control decks an unrestricted spell that just had to be countered, never mind if the opponent had to tap out to fight a counter war in his own end phase. And, the increased consistency it lends blue was what made the Type I Accelerated Blue or BBS (Blue Bull Sh!t) deck possible, but I leave that discussion to Darren and”Dragon Gold.”

Another example is Obliterate. The possibility of an uncounterable, undeflectable mass destruction spell has forced a change in how Type I players play when they see more red mana than usual. I have played Obliterate and have concluded that it is a bad card (and had the pleasure of defending that statement with Brian Weissman at length on the Meridian list), but one still has to be prepared. A fully-powered player like Brian would simply hold back Black Lotus and Yawgmoth’s Will, while a less wealthy player like myself would hold back something like Library of Alexandria.

And yes, Mr. Smith is right that a good Magic player should be able to play well in any format and with any deck. The same rules apply, and Everything Is A Time Walk, after all. But Type I players have it tougher. For one, there are no real Net decks for Type I, and the Invitational decks and the international consensus on Beyond Dominia are but small, isolated segments of the Type I possibilities. Thus, a Type I player has to be able to anticipate specific cards from a pool of several thousand. He cannot simply conclude”Fires” or”Skies” after the first turn. Even when he finds himself playing against a popular archetype, even a one-card change can totally redefine a deck, so you really never play the same game twice in Type I.

(If you recognize the old references to Everything Is A Time Walk and to playing the same game twice, you must really be a Type I player!)

Strategy, But With Sentiment 😉

But all this is still not the complete picture.

Above all, Type I players arguably love the game and their cards more than others. I play Type I mainly because I have neither the time nor the energy to chase after new cards and test countless new strategies month after month, and I am more than happy to occasionally play with a cherished deck. This attachment changes the way I look at my hobby. Whenever a new set is released here in the Philippines, the local pros talk mainly about draft strategies and shakeups in Type II while I take time to ask about the story and the art.

I would like to think that this more casual approach has enriched the game for me. My personal decks are somewhat different from true competitive decks because I see my metagame as anyone who might want a casual game in the card store (thus, I play with no sideboard, but with maindeck Disrupting Scepter, Ivory Mask, and Moat). With the pressures of ratings and invites set aside, I feel free to pit a deck I have mastered after years of owning it against the favorite of another old player. And with the pressures that lead to netdecking set aside, I can have my fun playing against Survival variants left over from the last season or suddenly bringing out my old Thrull deck with complete alternate art.

(This is, of course, my personal perspective. Beyond Dominia regulars who play in sanctioned tournaments or online share the same passion, albeit with a competitive twist. Just note Darren’s excitement over the seemingly endless possibilities for new decks.)

Yesterday, some freshmen saw my old Type I deck and looked through the old cards with awe and respect, handling them gently not just because of their monetary value, but because of how long I had obviously played them. Just a few hours ago, I was talking to a classmate since the second grade about the deck he played five years ago and kept intact, and it brought the same smile that corresponding with Beyond Dominia and Casual Player’s Alliance regulars brings. You just cannot form that sort of attachment to your ever-changing and eventually illegal Standard deck.

Although Type I is the least-played format, perhaps you can see why this is sometimes a blessing in disguise — and it is precisely this that strengthens the bonds between the international Beyond Dominia community. And if Mr. Smith finally accepts the invitation to visit, perhaps we can lay this series of rebuttals to rest and accept that the fire of Magic does burn with a special warmth in the hearts of Type I players, wherever they are.

But again — look past the Moxen, people. Sentiment alone would not keep us playing, and one just has to appreciate the infinite variety and much slower pace of card rotation that differentiate Type I.

More on this beautiful intellectual challenge in future columns, if the Ferrett allows. 😉 (He will — The Ferrett)

(For comprehensive references to more established Type I decks, try the Beyond Dominia primers archived in Beyond Dominia’s Type I Mill with copies available at the Casual Player’s Alliance site.)