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CardShark Content - Brian Baker (4/6/2004)

I would argue that it’s sometimes harder to construct a solid casual deck than a tournament deck.

I’m sure that this statement will find some contention, so let me explain and defend my thesis for a moment. First, I’ll play devil’s advocate and look at the other side. Fact: tournament decks are expensive to build. Just staying within the semi-reasonable realm of Type-2, a good Ravager deck can cost upwards of a hundred dollars to assemble. Fact: in order to compete against similarly powered decks, each card in a competitive deck must be chosen in order to give some edge. These are the two main factors against building tournament decks, expense and card selection skill.

Alright, that’s quite enough of that. Assuming that you’re willing to spend some serious cash, the expense part can be assumed as a given hazard of playing at that level. It doesn’t actually make the deck itself more difficult to build.

As for the card selection skill, take that and multiply it for casual. If you run a tournament deck, and it’s successful, it’s probably based on a netdeck. I don’t mean to impute anyone’s deck-building dignity, but no matter how original your affinity deck is, it’s still an affinity deck. The fact of the matter is, the most powerful decktypes are quickly figured out by the professional players. After that, you’re probably playing a variant on a deck someone else built. End of story.

Such netdecks usually don’t exist for casual. With the exception of this article section, not much attention is given to creating casual decks, and that’s not a big surprise. Why? It’s because of two factors. First, there’s no monetary or point payoff in playing casual, so the need to run the strongest deck isn’t as pressing. Second of all, at least in my own experience, a much greater emphasis is placed on originality than in the competitive arena. This emphasis, plus a greater pool of cards than is usually allowed in Type-2 or extended formats, allows for a wider selection of deck types.

Just because you build casual decks for a more, well, casual format than tournaments doesn’t mean that you can’t work on making your deck better. By better, I simply mean more geared to remaining active in a game rather than flopping over. A deck of only lands and 7-cost spells may seem cool, but won’t be doing much in the manner of actually playing. A deck is allowed to be random, that only makes it play differently every time, but being downright bad is still a possibility.

Let’s take a look at some of the major deck archetypes that you’re likely to construct in a casual setting. It’s impossible to list every possible configuration, so I’m just keeping this to general overarching categories. I’m assuming a multi-player format, because in my experience that’s the most common form of casual play, but this can still be useful for the more duel-oriented out there.

Combo: This is the single most common type among players with a collection large enough to support it. The combo can range from a simple but effective 2 cards, like Defense of the Heart
Defense of the Heart
Defense of the HeartSet: Urza's Legacy
Cost:
4
Color:
Green
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Number:
100
Artist:
Rebecca Guay
Text:
During your upkeep, if one of your opponents controls three or more creatures, sacrifice Defense of the Heart, search your library for up to two creature cards, and put those creatures into play. Shuffle your library afterward.
- Darksteel Colossus
Darksteel Colossus
Darksteel ColossusSet: Darksteel
Cost:
11
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact Creature
Rarity:
R
Number:
109
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Power:
11
Toughness:
11
Text:
Trample. Darksteel Colossus is indestructible (Destroy effects and lethal damage don't destroy it.) If Darksteel Colossus would be put into a graveyard from anywhere reveal Darksteel Colossus and shuffle it into its owner's library instead.
, to a middle range 3 or maybe 4, like V29yZHMgb2YgWorship
Worship
WorshipSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
4
Color:
White
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Number:
57
Artist:
Mark Zug
Text:
Damage that would reduce your life total to less than 1 instead reduces it to 1 if you control a creature.
- Well of Lost Dreams
Well of Lost Dreams
Well of Lost DreamsSet: Darksteel
Cost:
4
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Number:
159
Artist:
Jeff Miracola
Text:
Whenever you gain life, you may pay X, where X is equal to or less than the amount of life you gain. If you do, draw X cards.
- Ageless Entity
Ageless Entity
Ageless EntitySet: Darksteel
Cost:
5
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elemental
Rarity:
R
Number:
73
Artist:
Jeff Miracola
Power:
4
Toughness:
4
Text:
Whenever you gain life, put that many +1/+1 counters on Ageless Entity.
, to a ridiculously long chain that I can’t even think of right now. It’s a fact; Magic players like to do cool stuff in interesting ways.
Pro: This keeps the environment fresh, at least for a while. Creativity is highly encouraged.
Con: In a lot of cases, if you’ve seen it once, you’ve seen it a thousand times. Also, combo decks aren’t always the most active in the opening game, and may not have much to do for a while.

Creature-Mania: A relatively simple but highly effective deck type, especially against longer combo decks. The majority of the deck (between 25 and 40 cards) is in creatures.
Pro: These are usually very active decks. This player will usually be the one to end games, rather than mess around with tedious combos.
Con: It’s easy to get frustrated with massive creature kill always killing your sole resource. Also, sometimes the deck is rendered powerless by some form of control.

Self-Preservation: You know the type. These decks usually specialize in powerful defensive creatures (i.e. Walls) and/or lifegain. Interestingly enough, this is also usually attributed to the player’s mindset as much as the deck. An overly defensive player can take an aggressive deck and make it passive.
Pro: You get to stay in the game longer. No one likes to sit down, get killed, and wait an hour for the next game to start. Also, certain new cards (like Ageless Entity
Ageless Entity
Ageless EntitySet: Darksteel
Cost:
5
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elemental
Rarity:
R
Number:
73
Artist:
Jeff Miracola
Power:
4
Toughness:
4
Text:
Whenever you gain life, put that many +1/+1 counters on Ageless Entity.
) put a point to otherwise tedious tactics.
Con: This is the exact opposite of being active. Sure, you’re in the game longer, but doing what? (Note: I’m biased, since this is my least favorite form of deck to play against.)

Lockdown: Keep the other players from doing anything. This is mostly a variant on the combo decktype, except that it doesn’t always rely on combos per se to bring on the shutdown. This is seen most clearly through the Stasis
Stasis
StasisSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Fay Jones
Text:
Players do not get an untap phase. Pay U during your upkeep or Stasis is destroyed; cards still do not untap until the next untap phase.
deck, but other variants, such as Opposition
Opposition
OppositionSet: Urza's Destiny
Cost:
4
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Number:
40
Artist:
Todd Lockwood
Text:
Tap an untapped creature you control: Tap target artifact, creature, or land.
and Land Destruction, exist.
Pro: You remain in control of the situation, which has several positive benefits. You’ll probably win, but even if you can’t, you can regulate the other players.
Con: Other players will hate you, especially (ironically enough) if you fail to eliminate them quickly. Players hate wasting time even more than they hate losing, especially if you make them feel that they’re powerless to stop you. (Note: I really don’t like this one either. Guess I’m getting too picky for my own good.)

Reactive: This can be linked to Self-Preservation decks, but they aren’t necessarily the same thing. A Self-Preservationalist might use reactive cards such as Wing Shards
Wing Shards
Wing ShardsSet: Scourge
Cost:
3
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
25
Artist:
Darren Bader
Text:
Target player sacrifices an attacking creature.
Storm
or Fog
Fog
FogSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Green
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Jesper Myrfors
Text:
Creatures attack and block as normal, but none deal any damage or otherwise affect any creature as a result of an attack or block. All attacking creatures are still tapped. Play any time before attack damage is dealt.
, but there are other reactive cards. The reactive player doesn’t generally do anything until someone else takes the initiative in some way.
Pro: These tend to be highly adaptive decks, which can deal with several possible threats without knowing beforehand what they’re up against.
Con: Again, the issue of not being active.

Aggro: No guts, no glory, right? This deck uses fast creatures and powerful destructive spells to bring an end to the opponents’ life totals quickly. Long-term decks use big, nasty creatures and X spells to finish the job.
Pro: This deck keeps the other players on their toes. It finishes games quickly, which is a good thing since it usually allows for more games in the same amount of time. This deck is the epitome of activity.
Con: First, some players make take offense at being so quickly ousted. Whether or not you care about that is up to you. Second, if just about anything should go wrong, you’re slightly screwed.

That’s about it. I’m sure that you’ve encountered a variety of decks in your own experience, but I think you’ll find that most fit into one or two of these categories.

Now, I’m curious. We’ve got this shiny new forum link at the bottom of each article, and I’m really tempted to exploit it. So, I will. (Plus, this will allow me to see how many of you actually read all the way through this article.) Below you’ll find that I’ve listed several cards. I’d like to see you discuss which type each of these cards falls under, including a small description of the type if you feel it’s one I’ve missed, as well as how good it is or would be in that type. Feel free to include personal experiences; it’s completely up to you.

Talk about one, two, them all, or however many you want. I can’t really force you to do anything that you don’t want, so this is all up to you. My only sincere hope is to make you think a little bit about some cards you may/may not use and why you do/don’t use them.

Coalition Honor Guard
Coalition Honor Guard
Coalition Honor GuardSet: Apocalypse
Cost:
4
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Flagbearer
Rarity:
C
Number:
3
Artist:
Eric Peterson
Power:
2
Toughness:
4
Text:
If an opponent plays a spell or ability that could target a Flagbearer in play, that player chooses at least one Flagbearer as a target.

Guilty Conscience
Guilty Conscience
Guilty ConscienceSet: Scourge
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Enchant Creature
Rarity:
C
Number:
17
Text:
Whenever enchanted creature deals combat damage, Guilty Conscience deals to enchanted creature damage equal to the combat damage dealt.

Spirit
Spirit
SpiritSet: Divine vs Demonic
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
C
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Flying
IEZsYXJl
Coast Watcher
Coast Watcher
Coast WatcherSet: Scourge
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Bird Soldier
Rarity:
C
Number:
30
Artist:
Luca Zontini
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Flying
Protection from green

Awesome Presence
Awesome Presence
Awesome PresenceSet: Alliances
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchant Creature
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Lawrence Snelly
Text:
Enchanted creature cannot be blocked unless defending player pays an additional 3 for each creature assigned to block enchanted creature.

Sapphire Charm
Sapphire Charm
Sapphire CharmSet: Mirage
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Steve Luke
Text:
Choose oneTarget player draws a card at the beginning of the next turn's upkeep; or target creature an opponent controls phases out; or target creature gains flying until end of turn.

Infernal Caretaker
Infernal Caretaker
Infernal CaretakerSet: Legions
Cost:
4
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Cleric
Rarity:
C
Number:
76
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Morph 3B (You may play this face down as a 2/2 creature for 3. Turn it face
up any time for its morph cost.) When Infernal Caretaker is turned face up, return all Zombie cards from all
graveyards to their owners’ hands.

Grave Consequences
Grave Consequences
Grave ConsequencesSet: Judgment
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
67
Artist:
Tim Hildebrandt

Text:
Each player may remove any number of cards in his or her graveyard from the game. Then each player loses 1 life for each card in his or her graveyard. Draw a card.

Spellgorger Barbarian
Spellgorger Barbarian
Spellgorger BarbarianSet: Judgment
Cost:
4
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Nightmare Barbarian
Rarity:
C
Number:
100
Artist:
Mark Romanoski

Power:
3
Toughness:
1
Text:
When Spellgorger Barbarian comes into play, discard a card at random from your hand. When Spellgorger Barbarian leaves play, draw a card.

Risky Move
Risky Move
Risky MoveSet: Onslaught
Cost:
6
Color:
Red
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Number:
223
Artist:
Jerry Tiritilli
Text:
At the beginning of each player's upkeep, that player gains control of Risky Move. When you gain control of Risky Move from another player, choose a creature you control and an opponent. Flip a coin. If you lose the flip, that opponent gains control of that creature.

Book Burning
Book Burning
Book BurningSet: Judgment
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
80
Artist:
Dave Dorman

Text:
Unless a player has Book Burning deal 6 damage to him or her, put the top 6 cards of target player's library into his or her graveyard.

Quicksliver
Fertile Ground
Fertile Ground
Fertile GroundSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
2
Color:
Green
Type:
Enchant Land
Rarity:
C
Number:
252
Artist:
Heather Hudson
Text:
Whenever enchanted land is tapped for mana, it produces an additional one mana of any color.

Animal Magnetism
Animal Magnetism
Animal MagnetismSet: Onslaught
Cost:
5
Color:
Green
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
245
Artist:
Ron Spears
Text:
Reveal the top five cards of your library. An opponent chooses a creature card from among them. Put that card into play and the rest into your graveyard.

Mirror Golem
Mirror Golem
Mirror GolemSet: Mirrodin
Cost:
6
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact Creature
Sub Type:
Golem
Rarity:
U
Number:
208
Artist:
Franz Vohwinkel
Power:
3
Toughness:
4
Text:
Imprint - When Mirror Golem comes into play, you may remove target card in a graveyard from the game. (The removed card is imprinted on this artifact.) Mirror Golem has protection from each of the imprinted card's card types. (The card types are artifact, creature, enchantment, instant, land, and sorcery.)

Panoptic Mirror
Panoptic Mirror
Panoptic MirrorSet: Darksteel
Cost:
5
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Number:
136
Artist:
Glen Angus
Text:
Imprint -- X, T: You may remove an instant or sorcery card with converted mana cost X in your hand from the game. (That card is imprinted on this artifact.) At the beginning of your upkeep, you may copy an imprinted instant or sorcery card and play the copy without paying its mana cost.

Arcum’s Whistle

Yeah, ok, I’ve noticed that there are some pretty awful cards up there, but hey, those were some of the ones that I thought would be most interesting to discuss the possible applications of. I’m not going to say that anyone should ever consider applying risky move to anything at all, but it’s always a possibility. So, now it’s your turn. Let those creative juices flow, and give us your thoughts.

If you decide to contribute, thanks. Thanks anyway for reading, and until next time, just take a little time to see where your casual deck fits in.


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