Magic: the Gathering

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Lovecrafter

Magic: the Gathering

Postby Lovecrafter » Wed Apr 03, 2013 11:18 am

I think this could be a good topic here, although I'm not good at introductory posts.

For the uninitiated: Magic: the Gathering is a trading card game, designed by Richard Garfield, in which you are a "planeswalker": an extremely powerful wizard with the ability to cross the boundaries between worlds. And of course you use these world-changing abilities to beat the tar out of other planeswalkers, by summoning creatures to fight for you, hurl bolts of lightning at their face directly, crush their puny minds, call in favors from other 'walkers, or win through some other, fancy way.

Anyway, I love this game. There's over 13000 cards to build decks with, and a steady flow of new cards each year to expand your options. And even beyond deckbuilding and playing, the game has good flavor, interesting settings and characters for people into that. Oh, and you can turn yourself into a dragon. That's pretty awesome.

So, who else likes this game? What do you people play? What's your favorite card/combo/creature/whatever?
I mostly play the Commander variant (roughly 16 decks), but I'm looking to step into Modern with a Restore Balance deck. My favorite card is the aforementioned Form of the Dragon and my favorite creature type is Gorgon (which extends beyond Magic into all fiction).

NEWS CORNER (will be updated regularly)
M14 has been completely spoiled , they've announced the next fall block, known as Theros/Born of the Gods/Journey Into Nix, Duel Decks: Heroes versus Monsters and From the Vault: 20.
Last edited by Lovecrafter on Wed Jul 10, 2013 9:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Nyctef

Re: Magic: the Gathering

Postby Nyctef » Wed Apr 03, 2013 1:56 pm

I haven't played Magic personally, but I've heard about it a bunch, most from LoadingReadyRun doing videos such as this series, as well as actual gameplay videos of online drafts and stuff (which sound interesting but are mostly incomprehensible :)

I keep meaning to get started with the online game or something, but I'm not sure that I've actually got enough spare time to do it justice, which is a shame.
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anaphysik
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Re: Magic: the Gathering

Postby anaphysik » Wed Apr 03, 2013 4:37 pm

Lovecrafter wrote:For the uninitiated: Magic: the Gathering is a trading card game, designed by Richard Garfield, Ph.D.
Fix'd that for you.

Anyway, I used to play MtG a whole lot, particularly in high school (my high school was so nerdy that magic players had taken over the hallway outside the /gym/; also, we had a club that was basically just playing mtg), but I never understood the obsession with Standard and the constant block releases were just too much for me. My decks were usually mishmashes of cards that I'd collected over the years, and the remaining ~two that I upkeep (*wink*) are exceptional examples of that. Basically anything from Mirage to [Shadowmoor's the most recent, I think?] is fair game, even with a few Ice Age cards thrown in (from an Ice Age draft *squee*!). (Technically I first started playing when Exodus came out, but I got a lot of older cards from friends and box-diving.)

As far as favourite creatures, I'd guess I'd say Scalding Salamander and Man-o'-War.
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dudecon
Location: Camarillo, CA. Paul Spooner IRL & blog comments
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Re: Magic: the Gathering

Postby dudecon » Wed Apr 03, 2013 7:08 pm

Nearly all my MTG experience was during college. I never owned any cards, but there were several guys with huge libraries that let interested people construct decks.

My favorite was an Urza artifact counter deck that hinged around Voltaic Keys and a few others that allowed you to generate and move counters. When it worked right the whole table turned into a lovely machine that could construct armies out of nothing, block damage, and generally run circles around traditional decks. When it didn't work, it was a sad broken down rusted out truck with weeds growing through it in your neighbor's yard, an eyesore and disappointment.

Since I didn't own any cards myself, I lost touch with the game when I graduated.
Syal

Re: Magic: the Gathering

Postby Syal » Thu Apr 04, 2013 1:22 am

Played for a couple of years a few years back, never got most of the really good cards. I remember there being an artifact that could be tapped to bring a creature into play and untapped when a creature left play; there was also an artifact that could be tapped to sacrificed a creature and deal 1 point of damage to a target and untapped when a creature came into play. The two together were basically unlimited damage as they would constantly untap each other.

My favorite strategy was building a deck with counterspells, direct damage cards and a few Path to Exiles (remove a card from the game), and one Sway of the Stars (everyone shuffles all their cards and their hit points go to 7), with the intention of blocking everything the opponent threw at me and very, VERY slowly running them out of cards.

Never did get that to work.
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modus0

Re: Magic: the Gathering

Postby modus0 » Thu Apr 04, 2013 4:20 am

Man, I haven't played Magic for almost a decade (no local areas outside of schools to play at). Started with 4th Edition/Fallen Empires, though I have managed to acquire a few Revised cards (some dual-lands, an Icy Manipulator, Vesuvan Doppelganer, some others). Last set I spend any money on was Mirrodin.

One of my most memorable games was actually done as a bit of a joke in a FLGS tournament during the Invasion block.

I'd put together a 5 color Disciple/Volver deck, that turned out to not be fast enough, and I lost every "official" round of the tournament. So the guys running it, decided to pit me against the guy who hadn't lost; who happened to be playing a counterspell deck with only a single creature.

I managed to get out a 1/1 on my first turn both games, and plinked at him until I got my Spiritmonger, then used a bunch of creatures with a kicker cost (extra mana spent, extra benefit) without paying the kicker to (along with him casting spells to refill his hand) tap all his lands, before dropping the Spiritmonger. The bad part was that I did this exact strategy twice in consecutive games, and beat him both times.

For those that are still playing, I have some advice that I picked up from a Magic website article: You learn more from losing than you do winning.
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Lovecrafter

Re: Magic: the Gathering

Postby Lovecrafter » Thu Apr 04, 2013 10:52 am

@ Nyktef: The easiest way to start is with the "Duels of the Planewalkers" games (available on consoles and Steam). They're cheap (something like $10) and teach the basics. MTGO is a little more complex because it insists on applying all the rules without the shorthands people use in real life, which requires some basic knowledge and can get out of hand quickly (DotP decks are built without overly complex interactions). Wizards also has a series of videos on their site which explain the core mechanics.

@ Anaphysik: Sadly, the editor doesn't allow me to fix it anymore.
"Starting moment" is kind of a bad measuring tool. I technically started during Scars of Mirrodin, but most of my cards are from Kamigawa, Shadowmoor, Ravnica and Time Spiral. During the Return To Ravnica prerelease, I managed to make a Rules Advisor stare, mouth agape as I rattled off all the guilds and their original mechanics (which he couldn't).
Also, Terese Nielsen's art on Scalding Salamander is lovely.

@ Dudecon: I'm guessing Power Conduit was part of that deck? Or was it more based on the modular keyword? Also, I love the imagery you used.

@ Syal: That would be Summoning Station and Blasting Station, respectively. Although those two do not go infinite by themselves. They still need Grinding Station, Salvaging Station and a CMC 1 noncreature artifact to go off as intended (although there's plenty of other options).
Sway of the Stars works best if used through Jhoira of the Ghitu's ability, with some other stuff suspended as well. I used to have a deck that did that and it was brutal.

@ Modus0: Ugh, Spiritmonger. Our local judge plays that in his Commander deck and it is such a wrecking ball. Eleven years after its printing and it is still one of BG's best beaters.
You learn more from losing than you do winning.

QFT
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Indy_S
Location: Australian Outback

Re: Magic: the Gathering

Postby Indy_S » Thu Apr 04, 2013 12:00 pm

I started Magic with Dissension in the first Ravnica block. Interesting fact: Simic is not a beginner's deck, the deck runs entirely on activated effects. The numbers at the bottom of the cards were never what I thought they were because of 'graft'. Still, in my first game, I managed to get the deck's legendary out, Experiment Kraj was an 8/11 monster, strongest thing on the board. But I'd lost all my other creatures to graft onto him and it was all for nothing because my opponent had a Dark Banishing in his hands. Oh well. The game was fun. Was completely hooked for the next five years. It's fallen behind recently and I've been meaning to pick up the new Simic deck but never got around to it.

The most fun deck I've built is my Innistrad suicide deck. Blue/Green self-milling deck that just tears through itself and I hope I have enough mana to pull off a series of spells to get the Laboratory Maniac down. The first time my opponent was ready to flip the table. It was great.
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Ygor
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Re: Magic: the Gathering

Postby Ygor » Thu Apr 04, 2013 7:16 pm

I played during high school mainly, and while I still do enjoy playing with my friends, I am rapidly approaching that part where my old cards are becoming less viable against most of the newer stuff, with the exception of Worldgorger Dragon. Because that card is just too boss.

That card was actually one that was utilized in my very first deck I've constructed myself- a black/red combo using said Dragon to generate you infinite mana, then wasting your enemy with one drain life or some fireball.

But the most fun one, I've built is the black/white/blue creature type changing deck. It was fun to play and I still dust him off and pit him against my friends from time to time, just to remeber good old times.
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modus0

Re: Magic: the Gathering

Postby modus0 » Thu Apr 04, 2013 8:22 pm

Lovecrafter wrote:@ Modus0: Ugh, Spiritmonger. Our local judge plays that in his Commander deck and it is such a wrecking ball. Eleven years after its printing and it is still one of BG's best beaters.


The main reason I went for getting it into play in those games was because my opponent admitted to having a Mahamotti Djinn in his deck, and all my other creatures were either too weak to deal with it or required too much mana to get out. Sure, an Anavolver would be just as effective, but would cost 2 mana more, making it better as a sacrifice to make him spend mana on a counterspell then even more on a spell to refill his hand.

I was more surprised that he didn't realize that my playing several creatures with kicker costs and not paying that extra mana to make them stronger was merely an attempt to get him to tap all his lands so I'd be able to get something else in play.
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Lovecrafter

Re: Magic: the Gathering

Postby Lovecrafter » Thu Apr 04, 2013 8:32 pm

modus0 wrote:I was more surprised that he didn't realize that my playing several creatures with kicker costs and not paying that extra mana to make them stronger was merely an attempt to get him to tap all his lands so I'd be able to get something else in play.


Rule #1 of playing control: Unless you have an actual infinite counter-engine, you can't counter everything.
This is why counterspell-based control is such a tough archetype to play. You need to save the counterspells for what matters, and that means knowing a lot about the decks you play against. You were an unknown factor and it sounds like he panicked.
Syal

Re: Magic: the Gathering

Postby Syal » Fri Apr 05, 2013 2:41 am

Lovecrafter wrote:@ Syal: That would be Summoning Station and Blasting Station, respectively. Although those two do not go infinite by themselves. They still need Grinding Station, Salvaging Station and a CMC 1 noncreature artifact to go off as intended (although there's plenty of other options).

Darn, those look familiar. Maybe there was a card that turned all creatures into artifacts or something. Probably just misread the card though.
Lovecrafter wrote:Sway of the Stars works best if used through Jhoira of the Ghitu's ability, with some other stuff suspended as well. I used to have a deck that did that and it was brutal.

Not knowing that card existed I figured Oblivion Rings were the way to go. But I wasn't trying to make it effective, I was trying to make it utterly infuriating (let's both go through our entire library, and you'll lose one card permanently, and then we'll do it again!).
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modus0

Re: Magic: the Gathering

Postby modus0 » Fri Apr 05, 2013 2:46 am

Lovecrafter wrote:You need to save the counterspells for what matters


I think this actually had more to do with it than panic.

Since he had only 1 creature in his entire deck, and no means to deal with something once it came into play, he had to try to refuse me everything. Unfortunately for me, I had figured out his strategy (counter, then cast a card-drawing spell) and used it against him by throwing out a bunch of low cost cards to drain his mana.

Thought the Necra Disciple I got out first turn both games whittling away at his life probably didn't help...
Blake

Re: Magic: the Gathering

Postby Blake » Mon Apr 08, 2013 12:50 am

I first started a long time ago, first pre-release I ever went to was for Scourge during the Onslaught block.
Went to lots of pre-releases between then and Shadowmoor, then only played a few occasional things once or twice a year since then.

But up until late last year I had read every article written by Mark Rosewater (the lead designer), and would say I've read even more of his words than I have Shamus' (which I've been reading since DM of the rings was being made).

Magic is possibly my all time favourite game, but not one I have the time for :(
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Lovecrafter

Re: Magic: the Gathering

Postby Lovecrafter » Wed Jul 10, 2013 9:12 pm

Let me just tap these five Swamps here, because we're massively derailing the "This week I've been playing" thread:

Zukhramm wrote:I don't play Magic specifically, but the way I see it, building your deck is the real game and playing is a mini-game. As such, I don't think it's possible to to have a price on playing since you need to keep getting cards.


I would disagree. While deckbuilding is a big part of the game, it's not the only part that matters. That's kind of like saying that constructing an F-1 car is the real contest and racing is just a mini-game. It's about both. Tournaments these days have "Deck Tech" segments in which players talk about how their deck operates and why they choose certain cards. Decklists of people who went 4-0 or 3-1 on the MTGO dailies are posted and analyzed on forums, with special mentions for especially unique or weird lists.
Building and playing are two sides of the same coin.

And as far as "need to keep getting cards" goes: as I explained here (first paragraph), upkeep can be virtually non-existent, depending on your style of play.
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Zukhramm
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Re: Magic: the Gathering

Postby Zukhramm » Wed Jul 10, 2013 11:39 pm

Lovecrafter wrote:That's kind of like saying that constructing an F-1 car is the real contest and racing is just a mini-game.


I am sure the people who construct the cars think that.

Lovecrafter wrote:And as far as "need to keep getting cards" goes: as I explained here (first paragraph), upkeep can be virtually non-existent, depending on your style of play.


Which is why I specified what my own style is.
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Thomas

Re: Magic: the Gathering

Postby Thomas » Thu Feb 19, 2015 1:05 am

I don't actually want to talk about Magic The Gathering The Game

...but can I talk about how incredible Magic's story has been this block?

(For those who don't know, each year the official 'block' of Magic is themed to a world and tells a particularly story. The stories both expressed through the cards and mechanics and outside sources, with an assemble of recurring characters who connect the story through worlds. Just as Magic is one of the most impressive examples of pure game design and expressing ideas through mechanics, it rocks at establishing worlds through mechanics too)

You can find all the stories for the most recent block here. under 'Tarkir'. But in particular I want to highlight the story about Alesha and Khanfall.

The basic underlying mechanics is that the block is transitioning a set using three colour card combinations to a set using two colour card combinations... but they've turned it into an actually really beautiful tragedy about trying to hold on to who you are in the face of disaster and it just lines up with the colour identity and philosophy in Magic so perfectly. They've only got 1.5 short stories to establish who the Khans are and what happens to them, but using that and their actual cards in the game they've created really compelling characters.

In particular Alesha has a really amazing youthful passion and joy for life, that you don't normally see represented in the leader of horde. She's also Magic's first transgender character, but the story only lightly uses that in combination with a story about how people define themselves (as healers and warriors and friends and allies) and then they combine all that character development with a really cool card and it ties itself together perfectly.
Image

Khanfall is all about how the clans have to give up the parts of their cultural identity represented by the third colour being dropped in the set transition. The warrior monks have to give up their (red) warriors, the hardy desert folk give up their (black) ancestor worship, the horde no longer waits (white) for the weak and the slow to keep up, the shamanistic tribe gives up examining the future (blue) and lives in the hunt and the hedonistic necromancers give up their... well okay people are struggling to figure that one out.


It's the really rare example of a story that's better because it's tied to a game. Not because it's told through the medium of the game, but because the games mechanics and history and colour philosophy lend so much weight and importance and cause-and-effect to the story...

Wizards of the Coast have been adjusting the way they deliver their stories and the types of story they tell, and I think this proves those changes have been an incredible success. By getting the story across through short stories published on line, the whole community has access to them and talks about them and gets excited about them, which helps the cards seem more fun and the blocks seem like a bigger deal.
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SpammyV
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Re: Magic: the Gathering

Postby SpammyV » Thu Feb 19, 2015 2:57 am

Wow, I didn't even know we had this thread.

Perfecting the art of telling a story through a block has been something that the designers have been working on ever since the Weatherlight saga I think where they said after the block, "We're not doing this again."

Innistrad in particular is a really good case as the first two blocks do a good job of capturing despair and failing hope, with several cards showing how much it sucked to be the good guys or humans willingly turning to the vampires or werewolves instead of the Angels, and then in the last block suddenly they explode out with more cards with daylight art and like as many Angels as the previous sets contained and things.

Point is they've been working at that craft for years now.
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Thomas

Re: Magic: the Gathering

Postby Thomas » Thu Feb 19, 2015 11:22 am

Ooh true Innistrad was good, but I thought Theros was kind of weak and Ravnica started off well and then kind of went nowhere. Mainly because a lot of the key events were all hidden in a book
Adeon_Hawkwood

Re: Magic: the Gathering

Postby Adeon_Hawkwood » Thu Feb 19, 2015 6:23 pm

Nyctef wrote:I haven't played Magic personally, but I've heard about it a bunch, most from LoadingReadyRun doing videos such as this series, as well as actual gameplay videos of online drafts and stuff (which sound interesting but are mostly incomprehensible :)

I'm similar. I haven't played since I was a kid (and have little interest in playing) but I enjoy listening to the LRR team talk about Magic (especially Tap, Tap, Concede).
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Thomas

Re: Magic: the Gathering

Postby Thomas » Thu Feb 19, 2015 11:56 pm

I love Tap, Tap Concede. It's nice that they seem to have such a good relationship with Wizards of the Coast too

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