Death Pit Offering + Bad Moon + Breeding Pit
February 17, 2005 12:02 PM   Subscribe

Any Magic: The Gathering players out there in MetaLand? What are some of your favorite cards? How about favorite combos? Do you have any seriously killer decks whose secrets you'll share? Lastly, how do you feel about the newest editions WotC have been putting out?
posted by baphomet to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (37 answers total)
I used to be obsessed with Magic: The Gathering about 10 years ago, until I discovered Jyhad (later renamed Vampire: The Eternal Struggle). There's just no comparison.

I'll take Smudge The Ingnored or Igo the Hungry over your Fungusaur or Lord of the Pit any day!

I'll tell you what cards I HATED, though: those stupid "Circle of Protection [color]" cards. Hell, I PLAYED a white deck and I hated them.
posted by emptybowl at 12:13 PM on February 17, 2005

I played MTG until after Antiquities, but I burned out on it. I picked up a couple of starter decks in 2002 to teach a friend to play but I wasn't very impressed with them.

However, just as I burned out on MTG, I got into Jyhad heavily, but finding a consistent gaming group for it was difficult. The game demanded a much deeper understanding of strategy than just the tactics skills most players developed from MTG.
posted by mischief at 12:34 PM on February 17, 2005

I loved, and still care deeply for our friendship, Twiddle. It was one blue mana to tap or untap anything. There was always a use for it, be it locking down that LotP or readying a Tim for another blast.

That was years and years ago. I gave away all my old cards. I was a blue/black control type person and those trends kept with me when I picked up Legend of the Five Rings and played Scorpion.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 12:36 PM on February 17, 2005

I'm another of the "old" Magic players, still have tons of cards up to Fallen Empires in stores, but I started losing interest when all my favorite cards started getting banned. For instance, I was very fond of channeling and forking gigantic fireballs purely for humorous overkill effects, and well...

The folks I know who still play tend to be younger and don't like the "old" cards 'cause they weren't around for them... as such, I haven't played in a long time. From watching them, the first thing I think of when asked for my opinion on Magic these days is that I really, really hate how they redesigned the cards. Ick, are they ever unattractive now...
posted by Pufferish at 12:38 PM on February 17, 2005

Like the others, I played MTG quite a lot (though I started during Revised and played until the start of 5th Edition) until discovering other collectible card games-- in my case, Decipher's Star Wars.

One trouble with anything like the "seriously killer deck" is that there are now so many different types of tournaments with different restrictions on what kind of cards you can use. And the most rewarding tournaments are the ones that largely forbid some of the old and too-pricey cards, which means that which deck is "seriously killer" changes from expansion to expansion.

That's the fun of the game, of course, but it also means that the killer strategies of last year can be laid to waste by a few new developments.
posted by willbaude at 12:39 PM on February 17, 2005


As punishment, I tap a whole bunch of mountains, forests, etc and cast a 13-point Fireball, and on my next turn finish you off with a horde of Thralls.

In all seriousness, my M:TG experience went from shortly after The Dark through somewhere in the beginning of the Weatherlight saga. I really didn't get the whole 'Ooh, look, we have a storyline now!' thing, although that was only one reason I left (lack of local players, and just general losing of interest / growing up, being the others).

I think I still have my ~2,000 cards up at the family house, unless I sold them to my friend's kid brother...I forget.
posted by cyrusdogstar at 12:42 PM on February 17, 2005

Thralls? Thrulls? I don't even remember anymore =(
posted by cyrusdogstar at 12:43 PM on February 17, 2005

Best way to play Magic I've ever come across: 60+ deck size, limit of one of ANY individual card (other than land), no other limitations. "Good" players basically throw more than half their cards away and make finely tuned killing machines based on only the very best cards... limiting yourself to one copy of anything forces players to consider using spells and monsters they'd never dream of in any other situation. You end up with a game that is far more about unusual combos and creative strategy than simple tuning.

It also tends to level the playing field when facing players who buy boxes of cards and have four of everything in their collection.
posted by Pufferish at 12:48 PM on February 17, 2005

I used to play hardcore for a couple of years, I quit around 97 or so. I've gone to one M:tG MeetUp here in NYC, and it was fun, but I just haven't had the time to get back.

/Slivers rule
posted by o2b at 12:56 PM on February 17, 2005

I actually had it in my head the other day to ask this same question, and see if there were enough MeFi magic players to warrant a meetup.
posted by o2b at 12:58 PM on February 17, 2005

I still have my Mana Flare deck, though I haven't used it in years. I ran from just after The Dark up through Ice Age, and then realized that I was spending an awful lot of money (for me) on something that I was losing interest in.

Random thing I found recently, though: an online card dealer who has available for download scans of every single goddam card ever. The site is often slow, but if you go to "download" and snag "alle mapper" (and then wait, wait, wait), you'll have 360 megs of highly-nostalgiac card art.

If some sort of M:TG dorkery were going to occur in Portland, OR, I'd be game.

And yeah, another shout out to the Jyhad.
posted by cortex at 12:59 PM on February 17, 2005

Well, the official site actually has more combos than you'd know what to do with, and since they now post the winning decks from every event, it's easy to figure out how to make a "killer" deck.

I like playing from time to time, but what bugs me is the fact that how good you are is directly proportional to how much money you spend. On the other hand, a booster draft (get a bunch of friends together, give everyone 5 boosters, then have a tournament) is a lot of fun.
posted by Sibrax at 1:02 PM on February 17, 2005

I wonder if there would be enough Magic/Jyhad MeFites in one area to hold a Meet Up......

Are there any in the DC/Baltimore area? I'd love to throw down with my Tremere/Thaumaturgy deck.
posted by emptybowl at 1:06 PM on February 17, 2005

I had a red sligh deck that killed in 5 turns.

I also had a squirrel deck that was awesome.

My favorite deck was a passive black control with no critters. You basically kept everything the other player put down off the table and watched 'em squirm. It rarely won, but it really pissed people off. You might want to check out Essential Magic for what folks are doing nowadays. I don't play anymore.
posted by sciurus at 1:11 PM on February 17, 2005

I stopped playing seriously just a few months ago, after moving to a different town and not being able to playtest with my usual group any more.

I very seriously into it, working on qualifying for the Pro Tour. If you want to have good competition, you'd better read up on the different official tournament formats that are played (I believe we're still in Extended season), since most good players will be practicing that format in hopes of winning some prize. is a good resource for studying the current metagame.

I eventually lost interest in keeping up with the current tournaments, and started playing a lot of Type 1. Type 1 is a format with its own Banned and Restricted list, but otherwise lets you play with every card ever printed. If that's your thing, then I recommend the ManaDrain forums for research.

If you want to just play casually, multiplayer, whatever... then I can't help you so much. Just slap some interesting cards together and have fun with it!
posted by patgas at 1:13 PM on February 17, 2005

I'll tell you my M:tG story. Back in OAC (aka, grade 13, the last year of which school in Ontario at the time) we knew this dude who was in university, he went to GenCon one year and came back with this card game. My friends and I thought it was pretty fun, and bought a bunch of decks from the *only* store in Toronto that sold them at the time, (The Worldhouse on College).

(Other stores: "Hello, OtherStore" "Hi, do you have Magic cards" "You mean... like... tarot decks?" "um, no...").

So anyway, we played for a while, then I put my cards away, had summer vacation then started at university. One day I went in to the common room saw a bunch of people I sorta knew playing Magic, and so the next day, I brought my cards in to play.

Now, unbeknownst to me (but knownst to them), WoTC had stopped making the "alpha" and "beta" black border cards I had, so I had all these ultra rare discontinued cards that everyone was all hot for. People would pay me $20 cash money for a Giant Growth and I was like "meh, whatever, I've got lots of those".

I was basically flush for first year because of Magic.

Later on, some cad broke in to my locker and stole all my cards, CompSci textbooks and Sandman graphic novels. To this day I am on the look-out for an especially nerdy thief.

That is my story.
posted by Capn at 1:13 PM on February 17, 2005

Oh, man. My old-school blue/white creature-permission deck. Loaded with Control Magics, various Counters, Vesuvan Doppelgangers, Clones, Serra Angels, and Tims. Counter anything I don't like, take control of or copy anything I do. Good times.

My friends and I occasionally dig out our old decks, buy some new packs, and have a few games. I haven't been terribly impressed by anything since Tempest, but I do like the recent expansions that introduced Equipment to the mix. Adds a whole new dimension to combat that I enjoy.

God, I'm such a geek! Help me!
posted by ruddhist at 1:16 PM on February 17, 2005

Oh, as far as decklist recommendations: I still keep Zvi's Turboland list together for fun. It used to be legal in Extended until they banned Oath of Druids. It's still a mind-warping deck to play. There are many times when I've sat down for a nice friendly game against some greasy kid who thinks he's god's gift to the game... nothing takes him down a peg faster than taking infinite turns and locking him. :)

posted by patgas at 1:18 PM on February 17, 2005

And Capn: I, too, know the pain of being a victim of card thievery. No man is so low as the man who'd steal another's Force of Nature.

I'm still seething.
posted by ruddhist at 1:19 PM on February 17, 2005

Threadjack:Speaking of CCG's - has anyone played any that translate well to pc' games? I've played Starchamber, but I just don't get it, either the rules aren't clicking, or there's too much to remember. Being unfimiliar with the cards and races don't help. I've been thinking about picking up Phatasy Star Online for Gamecube.. anyone have any opinions on it?
posted by TuxHeDoh at 1:31 PM on February 17, 2005

Oh -- if you don't mind buying digital cards, the online version is pretty cool. I just buy pre-constructed decks and play for fun. It's especially good if you haven't played for a while, because you get to know the rules of play again, not to mention effects stacking (which has been clarified and tweaked over the years).
posted by o2b at 1:36 PM on February 17, 2005

My card thievery story:

I had a lot of my rarest and most expensive card in a pile on my dresser (antiquities and arabian knights stuff, I was thinking of selling). Near as I can put together, one of my younger brother's friends showed up with a second friend, one my brother didn't know too well. This jag-off saw the stack of cards on my dresser, and must have decided he wanted them. I guess he didn't realize how incredibly anal I am, and how I had meticulously recorded every card I had. So, I knew immediately what was missing, and obviously who took it. I wanted to bust this kid's door down and take them back by force, but my father offered the more diplomatic solution of calling his parents and asking if maybe this kid had "accidentally" picked up the cards. He didn't budge. So, I set up a sting through another friend of my brother's. He went to the kid and asked for a few cards I knew there was no possible way he could have (Tawnos' Coffin, Scheherezade) and wouldn't know the value of, given that he was a new-school player. The fact that he a) had them, and b) would willingly trade them was proof enough to me that he had my cards. Another innocent call to his parents was all it took to make him crack. He broke down and admitted he took them. His parents wanted to give me ALL his cards, but I only took the ones that were mine.

Yeah...kind of a lame story, but at least it was a victory. Sad that over 10 years later, it's probably still the most clever thing I've ever done.
posted by emptybowl at 1:36 PM on February 17, 2005

I had a friend who had a "Goblin deck" that was surprisingly strong. It was basically every goblin-related card he could get his hands on, plus some red fireballs and stuff. The goblins all get extra points for every goblin temple in play (or something like that) and the goblin deck can get a large ~5/5 force out for not much mana.
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:40 PM on February 17, 2005

I played for a while, back in high school; I thought Drew Tucker had the coolest illustrations. Personally, I was big on land denial decks. (back when you could have 4 vices)
posted by AllesKlar at 1:41 PM on February 17, 2005

This is a chatty thread, but if you're getting burned out on Magic, it's a great place to spread out into game design of your own. There are several proxy printing programs out there - just print your own custom cards on sheet-sized label paper, slice 'em up, then stick the labels on bulk commons. (The game shop guys must think I'm crazy buying commons by the 100s). It's up to you if you want to mix and match with regular cards.

Tip: use penny sleeves to keep the labels from getting messed up & make it easier to blend with normal cards.

Some friends and I did that recently using our high school D&D campaign as inspiration. Nostalgia on two levels, since most of us got tired of Magic between Fallen and Mirage. It was a big surprise for the former DM, who had forgetten a lot of the old PC/NPCs and was struggling to figure out which expansion spawned all these crazy new cards.

It was a total blast to make that set, from thinking up powers, finding art, and writing flavor text. Taught me a lot about game balance, too. I'm slowly working on a proper, full custom expansion that introduces new game mechanics and doesn't fall into munchkin territory.
posted by Sangre Azul at 2:01 PM on February 17, 2005

I was really into it from just after Antiquities to somewhere around the sixth edition. I tried most of the other CCGs that came out over that time too. I've got complete sets and some pretty nice decks (fav. was fast red/green). Many of my friends have small collection of the same vintage too.

And all that crap is going up on eBay as soon as I find a way to fit a few more hours into each day.
posted by krisjohn at 2:25 PM on February 17, 2005

The new Unhinged set is pretty damn lame. Somehow they convinced themselves that "fun and wacky" equaled "mechanics based on cards' artists". It doesn't.
posted by smackfu at 3:03 PM on February 17, 2005

Capn: I feel ya. Back when I first started playing was right after Alpha and Beta but I still had a chance to get my hands on those cards. Oh, how I wish I had.
Alas, I stopped playing right around 4th edition/Ice Age. I mainly used a white&green wall/artifact deck. Was damn hard to kill me, but I also didn't exactly deal a lot of damage. Usually won with that artificat that forces you to discard 2 cards from your deck.
posted by jmd82 at 3:29 PM on February 17, 2005

OK first off, blue "denial" decks and red direct damage decks suck. No fun at all.

I started playing just before Legends came out and stopped around the time of fifth edition, and the best deck I ever had was the Millstone deck. I was reading the rules one day early in my Magic career, and I saw the part about the two ways you can lose: zero life or no cards in deck. Since I always had to be different, even around nerds, I figured it would be way more amusing to run through decks. Five colors, no creatures (except walls), no damage spells, every card drawing spell I could find. You think forking a fireball is scary, try Forking a Braingeyser for 20. The best though was when I could get Chains of Mephistopheles out (discard every time you draw a card).
It only worked about a third of the time (and was probably too slow to work at all anymore) but when it did what it was supposed to, the game took like an hour and people had no idea what to do.
posted by Who_Am_I at 3:54 PM on February 17, 2005

HAHA, sorry jmd82, didn't see you there. Now my story is much less interesting :(
posted by Who_Am_I at 3:56 PM on February 17, 2005

When I was in high school (starting around Ice Age or so) we had an informal Magic-dork club who would play every day after school in the cafeteria. Entirely too much Magic-playing for our own good. My brother and I stopped playing after HS.

Recently (like, about a month or two ago) my brother started playing again and got some more cards (old and new). It still is a fun game after all!

My favorite deck that my bro and I came up with was our "ante-stealing" deck. I forget exactly which cards were involved, but basically the trick was to rearrange the top of the Library until there was a basic land on top, then use Demonic Attorney (I think) to swap that with your ante card. There was another combination we used to "steal" the opponent's ante card as well. There were no creatures in the deck other than Will-O-Wisps for defense, so once you get the cards swapped (so nothing's for ante except basic lands, and both your and the opponent's ante cards are in your library) -- you intentionally lose!

Hilarious deck, but I don't think anyone was stupid enough to play against it.

(I really like Pufferish's suggestion. I'll have to try that.)
posted by neckro23 at 4:14 PM on February 17, 2005

Blue denial/control was awesome! I played Magic with a gaggle of friends, no card limits, usually everyone with a 6-80+ card deck. We only played group games (for one on one, I had a 13 Red Mana/27 Lightning Bolts deck. Very cheap until I faced the Greenie Weenies for the first time) and it was great (for me) to have everyone check with me whether or not they could do something. I rarely won (until I got my Clones and Doppels) but would always play Kingmaker for a ride home, the last slice of pizza, etc.

The best I ever did at L5R was almost win a big storyline Gold tourny (Selection of the Chancellor) with a Bucket Full of Corrupt Ninjas deck that later evolved into the Scorp Corrupt Blitz. Good times, good... sad... times.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:46 PM on February 17, 2005

I was in 5th grade when MTG came out. My brother worked at a comic book store and sold me about 200 of his alphas and betas for, I think, $60. I played red and black. Evil.

I was the kid who started the Magic craze at my school. I was in a gifted class with a bunch of other nerds, so it caught on rapidly and spread thereafter to the rest of the school, which inevitably resulted in newspaper articles, local tv news stories, and much brow furrowing about whether or not we were all worshipping Satan.

The reason I know it was my influence that made it spread was that the entire school was playing with my house rules rather than the official booklet rules. Needless to say, my dark master was pleased.

We played during lunch and at recess every day for about a year. Me and my best friend went camping with my dad, and all we did the entire week was play Magic: The Gathering over and over. I think he played blue and white, the pussy.

The last time I ever played it was the summer before Middle School. Besides puberty, the reason I stopped playing was that it got way too intense, with the constant expansion packs, and the rabid collectors, and all the rules nazis.

At one point, I went to a con and wanted to trade some cards. I didn't collect them for money, and I didn't even know the values -- I just wanted to get something new to play with. This middle-aged shyster type guy who had all his cards organized in binders offered to trade me some rare card I had for a couple of cards he had that sounded cool, but were worth nothing.

Finally this lady came over and convinced me not to make the trade, and the two of them got into a loud argument over whether or not I should have to "live with it" if I was stupid enough to make a bad trade. That was probably the moment when the game jumped the shark for me.

I still have all my cards though.
posted by Hildago at 7:09 PM on February 17, 2005

I still play casual but I no longer buy cards because it's a waste of money since they have spoilers for everything and I play with a bunch of guys that don't mind rampant proxying.
My pride and joy is a 5-color highlander (only one of any card...including basic lands) deck that has a ludicrously unwieldy infinite turn combo in it.
Since it's proxy-as much-as-you-want, the deck is fully powered and therefore still capable of the odd random win here and there.

on preview: 5-color highlander = pufferish's suggestion but taken to the next level of silliness.
posted by juv3nal at 7:11 PM on February 17, 2005

Years ago, a friend of mine's mother would always give me Magic cards for any gift-giving occasion. Her son was enthralled by the game, I could care less, but she still gave them to me. I have over four hundred cards in unopened packaging. I think I'll sell them one day and buy a yacht.
posted by odinsdream at 7:27 PM on February 17, 2005

I used to play - waaaaay back when the current expansion was Ice Age. Played for a bit, then lost interest after the people I used to play with dispersed and I had nobody to play with, plus all the new expansions and new card properties and "oooh lookit, we have a PLOT!" started getting dumb.

After a bit, my interest was resurrected briefly when I started playing with some friends from IRC using Apprentice. Then I lost track of them again.

As for colors - I always loved playing with green, especially mana-producing elves. In Apprentice, I had my deck perfected to the point I could pound the crap out of any other deck in five turns or so if I got lucky on the draw, and 10 if I didn't. Had a red/green deck which used elves, forests and taigas for mana and red spells for the kill, a monogreen which used elves and forests for mana, elvish piper to pull out huge beasties in a short term, Eladamri lord of leaves for added protection, and a couple miscellaneous effects (that was fun... I should rebuild it, I lost the decklist in a computer crash) and a control white/black (can't remember how it worked, lost the decklist in the aforementioned computer crash, sigh).

Damn, now I'm wanting to play again. I should grab Apprentice again and see if I can find anybody to play with...
posted by sailoreagle at 10:13 AM on February 18, 2005

I play with apprentice/mindless. o2b -- don't pay for cards you can't shuffle!

I went to the Betrayers tourney last month and had some fun, but I've shelved the cards in lieu of my virtual ones.

Anybody who wants to try a game over IP, let me know. I've got a killer goblin deck.
posted by codger at 11:26 AM on February 18, 2005

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