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CardShark Content - Jacob Goodisman (6/9/2004)

I have another format to offer, another break to the same duel style that some tire of. In Magic, the cards create their effects and go to the graveyard while land stays in play. This format twists that; each player has a set hand of cards they can always use and sacrifices land instead of tapping them.

One approach would be to let each player play a number of lands each turn or have basic land in the players’ hand. I prefer to have each player get a land of each type each turn. I have found it calls less attention to the choice of mana and therefore hides the nature of the hand better, makes the game faster and more stable than other methods.

One effect of giving each player all five land types is that it gives them the opportunity to play many colors. Many players, especially tournament players that play ‘competitive’ decks only, get into ruts of only playing some color or a type of deck. This ability would also encourage players to explore the color wheel.

The decks are where this format can get interesting. My first thought was that each person’s deck should be the same. This keeps each game fairly similar to the next and last as well as cutting off exploration and the inventiveness that Magic is based around.

The other idea is to allow individual players to make their own decks. This allows a lot of variation, so much that already flags are going off in my head. A person with, say a goblin deck would dominate this format, or maybe some cheap artifact agro deck. The model for the deck clearly has to be different from mainstream magic.

I like the idea of each player having one card of each casting cost in each color up to seven. It’s a random choice but I like it; one spell of each casting cost ensures that large and small spells will get played and that each player benefits from saving land. Why seven? The cards with eight casting cost seem too powerful for my tastes, specifically thinking of the Avatars from Prophecy
Prophecy
ProphecySet: Homelands
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Christopher Rush
Text:
Reveal the top card of target opponent's library to all players. If it is a land, gain 1 life. That opponent then shuffles his or her library. Draw a card at the beginning of the next turn's upkeep.
and also the fact that relatively few cards cost eight or more.

The model for from a player’s hand should be considered. Having 35 cards in your hand is ridiculous and the games become monotonous so I decided to add a bit of luck to it, as there is in Magic. My idea is to draw two random cards from each color, put the rest aside, and play with those ten cards as your hand. It’s like drafting for your hand.

I found that some more restrictions would be nice, to keep the games from getting too wild. I like Arcane Laboratory
Arcane Laboratory
Arcane LaboratorySet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
U
Number:
60
Artist:
Stephen Daniele
Text:
Each player cannot play more than one spell each turn.
’s effect, it brings out choice more, and I also wanted to limit the number of permanents in play. I decided 5 creatures and 3 other permanents, again that’s just a random decision.

This brings me to building the deck, since we know the structure of the game. One method is to make most cards interact with most other cards, in other words, tribal cards. Odyssey seems ideal for this, the only set that had creatures with three and four creature types. However, this is a really delicate model. Each tribal deck has three or four hubs that carry the deck and in this format, you are probably going to get a hub in about one game out of 42 games. The Wishes from Judgment can solve this problem but I feel they take too much luck out of this format. Perhaps needless to say, combos for combos’ sake are out.

The other option is to have each card by good in itself and this leads to the purpose of each color:

Red is obviously good for direct damage but its creatures in general aren’t incredible, although the creatures that combine the two like Shock Troops
Shock Troops
Shock TroopsSet: Mercadian Masques
Cost:
4
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Soldier
Rarity:
C
Number:
212
Artist:
Jeff Miracola
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Sacrifice Shock Troops: Shock Troops deals 2 damage to target creature or player.
or Flametongue Kavu
Flametongue Kavu
Flametongue KavuSet: Planeshift
Cost:
4
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Kavu
Rarity:
U
Number:
60
Artist:
Pete Venters
Power:
4
Toughness:
2
Text:
When Flametongue Kavu comes into play, it deals 4 damage to target creature.
often are. I would devote red to burn and mass removal with some creatures.

Green is all about creatures but remember the limitation on the number of creatures, if you play with them, and include enchantments and pump. I would have a creatures that grab lands, good beat creatures and cheap pump like giant growth

White has life gain and prevention that can be really helpful and don’t forget cards like Glorious Anthem
Glorious Anthem
Glorious AnthemSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
3
Color:
White
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Number:
15
Artist:
Kev Walker
Text:
All creatures you control get +1/+1.
. White is good at healing so the creatures that gain you life and damage prevention may be the best choices for this color.

Blue becomes really weakened; no counterspells, they get destroy the game, and your group can decide what to do about draw. However, some blue effects are very powerful like Somnophore
Somnophore
SomnophoreSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
4
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Illusion
Rarity:
R
Number:
97
Artist:
Andrew Robinson
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Flying Whenever Somnophore successfully deals damage to a player, tap target creature that player controls. That creature does not untap during its controller's untap phase as long as Somnophore remains in play.
and the Psionic Gift
Psionic Gift
Psionic GiftSet: Odyssey
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchant Creature
Rarity:
C
Number:
95
Artist:
Orizio Daniele
Text:
Enchanted creature has ``Tap: This creature deals 1 damage to target creature or player.``
. I would invest in flying creatures and odd cards like Stifle
Stifle
StifleSet: Scourge
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
52
Artist:
Dany Orizio
Text:
Counter target activated or triggered ability.
.

Black has death effects which can get old fast if they are cheap like a terror, creatures like Nekrataal
Nekrataal
NekrataalSet: Visions
Cost:
4
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Nekrataal
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Adrian Smith
Power:
2
Toughness:
1
Text:
First strike When Nekrataal comes into play, bury target nonartifact, nonblack creature.
and Darkmor Lance
Lance
LanceSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Enchant Creature
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Rob Alexander
Text:
Target creature gains first strike.
rs might be okay and they are creatures as well. I would pack heavy hitters for this color, enchantments like Unholy Strength
Unholy Strength
Unholy StrengthSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Black
Type:
Enchant Creature
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Text:
Target creature gains +2/+1.
, as well as Corrupt
Corrupt
CorruptSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
6
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
124
Artist:
Vincent Evans
Text:
Corrupt deals 1 damage to target creature or player for each swamp you control. When Corrupt successfully deals damage to a creature or player, gain life equal to that damage.
which can get huge.

Multicolor spells and artifacts are really up to the play groups. I would have the sacrificed land distributed between the spells colors and artifacts divided between all colors but these would come much faster than colored spells. In multicolor, first turn plays could range up to 7/7 with the Sliver Queen
Sliver Queen
Sliver QueenSet: Stronghold
Cost:
5
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Legend
Rarity:
R
Number:
141
Artist:
Ron Spencer
Power:
7
Toughness:
7
Text:
Sliver Queen counts as a Sliver.2: Put a Sliver token into play. Treat this token as a 1/1 colorless creature.
and Overlord and cards like Sol'kanar the Swamp King
Sol'kanar the Swamp King
Sol'kanar the Swamp KingSet: Chronicles
Cost:
5
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Legend
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Richard Kane Ferguson
Power:
5
Toughness:
5
Text:
SwampwalkWhenever a black spell is successfully cast, gain 1 life.
or Mirari
Mirari
MirariSet: Odyssey
Cost:
5
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Number:
303
Artist:
Donato Giancola
Text:
Whenever you play an instant or sorcery spell, you may pay 3. If you do, put a copy of that spell onto the stack. You may choose new targets for the copy.
’s Wake. Artifacts would have first turn Thopter Squadron
Thopter Squadron
Thopter SquadronSet: Exodus
Cost:
5
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact Creature
Rarity:
R
Number:
140
Artist:
Doug Chaffee
Power:
0
Toughness:
0
Text:
Flying Thopter Squadron comes into play with three +1/+1 counters on it.1, Remove a +1/+1 counter from Thopter Squadron: Put a Thopter token into play. Treat this token as a 1/1 artifact creature with flying. Play this ability as a sorcery.1, Sacrifice a Thopter: Put a +1/+1 counter on Thopter Squadron. Play this ability as a sorcery.
, Dragon Arch
Dragon Arch
Dragon ArchSet: Apocalypse
Cost:
5
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
U
Number:
135
Artist:
Dana Knutson
Text:
2, TAP: Put a multicolored creature card from your hand into play.
, or Predator Flagship.

Of course, power is relative but it may be helpful to agree on a total price according to a given store so a player doesn’t spend hundreds of dollars for his deck and another spent 30 dollars.

Life in this format just determines how long a game is; higher for longer games and lower for quicker games. After a while, the game becomes pretty obvious who will win, making game-changers important, and so a high life total can be a waste of time.

This is simply another format, why should anyone bother play it? This format emphasizes choice and resource management. Sacrificing the land gets players used to the idea that resources aren’t there the next turn; many tournament players will say that each turn is a resource that never comes back.


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