It’s been a long while since I introduced a new column to the blog, and with my recent return to Magic, it seems fitting to chronicle the things I’m doing with the game. Some of the columns I’ve written in the past or continue to write tend to focus on a single topic, so this was an opportunity to open up a new one and talk about another of my nerdy passions. As I don’t play Magic as often as I would like, this column won’t have a schedule of any kind, and will only be touched upon when I have something new to report. This should be fairly regular though, as I intend to continue playing with my friend, and also look forward to attending a Friday Night Magic tournament soon. The above linked post will give you a primer on my history with the game, along with what I’ve got in the works currently (also some handy links for those of you playing the game).
As I mentioned in that post, I managed to pull together a pretty significant amount of cards for a relatively inexpensive sum, but that doesn’t mean having a killer deck right away. I purchased starter kits, boosters and then some singles and threw together two decks that I thought would be halfway decent. It turns out, one of them actually was. My friend and I finally got together to do some play testing, and I put forth the stronger of my two decks, a Black/White life building set. In it, I packed white cards that provided life gain, black cards that benefit from life gain (adding special effects to creatures when I would gain life), and a powerful artifact called the “Aetherflux Reservoir.” The latter card would allow me to gain life quickly via the use of spells, and hopefully go for a kill shot. My friend brought a Green/Blue deck to the table that was actually pretty good, but my half-assed deck still gave him a run for his money.
He told me that we should play a best of three to get our bearings around these decks. I needed some playtesting done to find weaknesses with the deck, and I surely did. Game one went fairly smooth. I managed just the right balance of board control, hand control and whittled him down until I could go for a kill shot. It seemed that the weakness of my deck was not exposed. Not yet, at least.
In game two, we saw a repeat of game one for quite some time. At one point I managed to get to 36 life, and had him down to 6. However, I found the failing of the deck. I didn’t have enough powerful creatures coming out often enough to win. He mana starved me by destroying a few of my swamps, and slowly started to gain board control. I stayed alive for a long time, but eventually he had enough creatures on the table to overrun my defenses. I conceded, but the match was not over.
Game three was for all the marbles. I managed a decent start, had plenty of mana, but was then starting to get flooded without enough creatures to help. I wasted my one board clear option early on, so by the mid game he simply killed me. There wasn’t a point where I wasn’t staying in it though, so I can tell that the sustain is working. I just have to find the combination that will get me kills.
I also tried out my Red/Blue deck against his Green/Blue, and my Black/White against his other deck, which was Red/Blue. His Red/Blue definitely trumps mine, but I have really been focusing on the Black/White so that would explain it. He’s also been back playing the game for a while, and the last time he played was more recently than I, and he still has cards from both eras. It’s only a matter of time before I catch up and build some killer decks, but for the time being, he has a distinct advantage. I still had a blast playing though!
Once I came home after our matches, I knew where to focus my efforts. It seemed that I created too high of a mana curve in this particular deck, so I know I need to remove at least a couple of lands. I also need to remove some of the cards that I thought would work better than they did, and find extra copies of the cards that were really killer. I scrounged Toad and Troll the other night and notice that plenty of the cards that I wanted extra copies of were available for mere cents, so I dropped a $20 on singles, and will have some additional power for the deck. Once I get those and really get things honed in, we’ll have to do some more playtesting. I’m hoping to receive the package before the weekend and do just that.
I’m impressed at how the game has changed but has also stayed the same. Much like series such as Civilization, each new entry adds and subtracts from the base formula, but the addictive qualities are ever-present. I’m very happy to have rekindled this lost hobby. I will be back with another report soon, probably after I revamp my deck. I’ll provide a decklist and strategy as well, especially if the playtesting goes well. Until then.