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CardShark Content - Brian Baker (12/22/2003)

Casual games are no doubt the heart of magic’s longevity. Magic has lasted for as longs as it has, and will continue to flourish, mainly because of its unique gaming experience. When you sit down for a game of Magic, anything can happen. At the same time, casual games are one of the most complex components of playing Magic.

Like I said last week, you have to be conscious of exactly why you’re constructing your deck. Even being aware of what your deck is supposed to do, however, isn’t enough. If you come up with a perfect little trick that you can pull off repeatedly, one of two things will happen.

First, the people you play with will begin to anticipate your next move simply by what deck you’ve chosen. I know from firsthand observation that the first player to play a sliver card is usually a dead player, unless the group deems the sliver player to be sufficiently neutered.

Second, you actually manage to continue to make the deck work, and it gets old. If it doesn’t get old for you (and it will, eventually,) it will get old for your opponents. While you might not care as much about their opinions of you and your decks as you do for your own skills, it’s still worth considering. Politics DO exist in casual games- especially in multiplayer- and having everyone else against you is not winning odds.

So what do you do? Again, two responses (since I’m not going to count just giving up playing as a possible response.)

First, you continuously think up new deck ideas and put them into practice. This is a good habit to get into for several reasons- it promotes creativity, keeps the opponents guessing, and strengthens the deckbuilder’s skills at recognizing card combinations and strengths- but there is one downside. Building multiple decks of different ideas requires a substantially established collection, which is a big downside for any new player.

Second, you build decks that are as flexible as possible. Depending on the card pool, this can be more difficult at some times than others, but we live in very flexible times. Making an “imprint” themed deck from Mirrodin with multiple subjects for imprint on lenses, scepters, shields, and golems is just one recent idea.

As for myself, I took a step back from the newest set and returned to the Onslaught
Onslaught
OnslaughtSet: Exodus
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
C
Number:
92
Artist:
Paolo Parente
Text:
Whenever you successfully cast a creature spell, tap target creature.
block for one of the most versatile, keep-em-guessing mechanics ever printed- Morph.



Green (20)
4:Nantuko Vigilante
Nantuko Vigilante
Nantuko VigilanteSet: Legions
Cost:
4
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Insect Druid Mutant
Rarity:
C
Number:
132
Power:
3
Toughness:
2
Text:
Morph 1G (You may play this face down as a 2/2 creature for 3. Turn it face
up any time for its morph cost.)
When Nantuko Vigilante is turned face up, destroy target artifact or
enchantment.

2:Broodhatch Nantuko
Broodhatch Nantuko
Broodhatch NantukoSet: Onslaught
Cost:
2
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Insect Druid
Rarity:
U
Number:
250
Artist:
Keith Garletts
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Whenever Broodhatch Nantuko is dealt damage, you may put that many 1/1 green Insect creature tokens into play.. Morph 2G (You may play this face down as a 2/2 creature for 3. Turn it face up any time for its morph cost.)

1:Hystrodon
Hystrodon
HystrodonSet: Onslaught
Cost:
5
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Beast
Rarity:
R
Number:
266
Artist:
Anthony S. Waters
Power:
3
Toughness:
4
Text:
Trample. Whenever Hystrodon deals combat damage to a player, you may draw a card. Whenever Hystrodon deals combat damage to a player, you may draw a card. Morph 1GG (You may play this face down as a 2/2 creature for 3. Turn it face up any time for its morph cost.)

2:Serpentine Basilisk
Serpentine Basilisk
Serpentine BasiliskSet: Onslaught
Cost:
4
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Basilisk
Rarity:
U
Number:
280
Artist:
Franz Vohwinkel
Power:
2
Toughness:
3
Text:
Whenever Serpentine Basilisk deals combat damage to a creature, destroy that creature at end of combat.. Morph 1GG (You may play this face down as a 2/2 creature for 3. Turn it face up any time for its morph cost.)

4:Spitting Gourna
Spitting Gourna
Spitting GournaSet: Onslaught
Cost:
5
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Beast
Rarity:
C
Number:
284
Artist:
Heather Hudson
Power:
3
Toughness:
4
Text:
Spitting Gourna may block as though it had flying.. Morph 4G (You may play this face down as a 2/2 creature for 3. Turn it face up any time for its morph cost.)

4:Llanawar Elf
3:Overrun
Overrun
OverrunSet: Tempest
Cost:
5
Color:
Green
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Jeff Miracola
Text:
All creatures you control get +3/+3 and gain trample until end of turn.


White (10)
4:Frontline Strategist
Frontline Strategist
Frontline StrategistSet: Scourge
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Soldier
Rarity:
C
Number:
15
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Morph W
When Frontline Strategist is turned face up, prevent all non-Soldier combat damage that would be dealt this turn.

3:Crude Rampart
Crude Rampart
Crude RampartSet: Onslaught
Cost:
4
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Wall
Rarity:
U
Number:
17
Artist:
Sam Wood
Power:
4
Toughness:
5
Text:
(Walls can't attack.). Morph 4W (You may play this face down as a 2/2 creature for 3. Turn it face up any time for its morph cost.)

1:Windborn Muse
Windborn Muse
Windborn MuseSet: Legions
Cost:
4
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
R
Number:
28
Power:
2
Toughness:
3
Text:
Flying
Creatures can't attack you unless their controller pays 2 for each creature
attacking you. (This cost is paid as attackers are declared.)

2:Holy Day
Holy Day
Holy DaySet: Legends
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Justin Hampton
Text:
Creatures attack and block as normal, but none deal any damage. All attacking creatures are still tapped. Play any time before attack damage is assigned.


Artifact (8)
2:Howling Mine
Howling Mine
Howling MineSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Mark Poole
Text:
Each player must draw one extra card during the draw phase of each of his or her turns.

3:Proteus Machine
Proteus Machine
Proteus MachineSet: Scourge
Cost:
3
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact Creature
Rarity:
U
Number:
141
Artist:
Greg Staples
Text:
Morph 0
When Proteus Machine is turned face up, its type becomes the creature type of your choice (this effect doesn't end at end of turn).

3:Star Compass
Star Compass
Star CompassSet: Planeshift
Cost:
2
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
U
Number:
134
Artist:
Donato Giancola
Text:
Star Compass comes into play tapped. T: Add to your mana pool one mana of any color a basic land you control could produce.


Lands (22)
Plains
Plains
PlainsSet: Oversize Cards
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
X
Artist:
Tony Roberts
Text:
T: Add W to your mana pool.
:8
Forest
Forest
ForestSet: Oversize Cards
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
X
Artist:
Tony Roberts
Text:
T: Add G to your mana pool.
:14

Versatility is key here. Your opponents, whether they’ve played against this deck or not, won’t know if that’s a face-down Frontline Strategist
Frontline Strategist
Frontline StrategistSet: Scourge
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Soldier
Rarity:
C
Number:
15
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Morph W
When Frontline Strategist is turned face up, prevent all non-Soldier combat damage that would be dealt this turn.
, or a Nantuko Vigilante
Nantuko Vigilante
Nantuko VigilanteSet: Legions
Cost:
4
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Insect Druid Mutant
Rarity:
C
Number:
132
Power:
3
Toughness:
2
Text:
Morph 1G (You may play this face down as a 2/2 creature for 3. Turn it face
up any time for its morph cost.)
When Nantuko Vigilante is turned face up, destroy target artifact or
enchantment.
.

Keep them guessing with the multiple morphs, correct the somewhat steep mana curve with Elves and Compasses, make friends with the Howling Mine
Howling Mine
Howling MineSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Mark Poole
Text:
Each player must draw one extra card during the draw phase of each of his or her turns.
, stop attacks with the Strategist (or, against soldiers, Holy Day
Holy Day
Holy DaySet: Legends
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Justin Hampton
Text:
Creatures attack and block as normal, but none deal any damage. All attacking creatures are still tapped. Play any time before attack damage is assigned.
,) blow up hurtful enchantments or artifacts with the Vigilante, and swoop in for the kill with the deck’s 28 creatures and an Overrun
Overrun
OverrunSet: Tempest
Cost:
5
Color:
Green
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Jeff Miracola
Text:
All creatures you control get +3/+3 and gain trample until end of turn.
or two…. There’s not a lot that this deck can’t deal with.

So remember, the next time you consider bringing out the old tried-and-true deck everyone’s seen twice today already, think about building something with a little bit of a fresh feel to it. Just because a deck can be consistent for you doesn’t mean that it has to be for everyone else.


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