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CardShark Content - John Mourino (5/23/2005)

Most people don’t realize that there is quite a huge difference between constructed and limited games. The major problem, though, is that most people don’t realize that you need an entirely different mindset for limited. Here are a couple myths about limited:

“My Pool was terrible because there were no bombs! I can’t win!”

-Well, not everyone gets the bombs, but its important to not put emphasis on those types of cards. Focus on the quality commons and uncommons because these guys make up the bulk of your deck. A Kokusho will pull its weight, but I guarantee that pulling triple Kabuto Moth
Kabuto Moth
Kabuto MothSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
3
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
C
Number:
20
Artist:
Tomas Giorello
Power:
1
Toughness:
2
Text:
Flying T: Target creature gets +1/+2 until end of turn.
, triple Blademane Baku
Blademane Baku
Blademane BakuSet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
C
Number:
95
Artist:
Edward P. Beard, Jr.
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Whenever you play a Spirit or Arcane spell, you may put a ki counter on Blademane Baku. 1, Remove X ki counters from Blademane Baku For each counter removed, Blademane Baku gets +2/+0 until end of turn.
, and other multiple playable junks will serve you just as well if not better.

“WAH!WAH!WAH! I got color-screwed. I got mana-screwed.”

-I’m not saying that getting mana-screwed doesn’t happen. I’m just saying that people sometimes blame their loss because they drew too many lands or too few lands. Its very rare that you will pull the precise amount of lands you need each game. In fact, its quite natural that you will have a few more lands or a few less lands than needed. Most of the time, though, there are more factors than your lands that contributed to your loss (such as play mistakes, etc.).


-But we already knew this stuff, so let’s get into the meat and bones of sealed deck building!


Practice, Practice, Practice!

“I went out and bought a bunch of booster packs to practice my sealed play? Ain’t that great!”?

-No, Bob, that’s actually an extremely bad idea. Not only will it dent your wallet, but since no one will criticize the deck you built, you’ll end up making the same mistakes anyway. Absolutely nothing will be accomplished. You need to practice this stuff to get better, but how? Why, good ol’ Starcitygames of course. Not only is it easier to build a deck online, you’ll get feedback from people who have been doing this kind of thing for years. This is what you’ll learn:

*Recognizing deep and weak pools
*Knowing when to splash
*Knowing what cards to avoid playing
*Don’t have a top-heavy curve! (No more than 4 cards should cost 5+ mana, but realize that there may be exceptions to this rule)
*Establishing a good curve is vital to your deck’s success

-There are 4 different kinds of card-types that will make up your deck; the creatures, the removal, the craps (!?), and the lands:

Creatures: Always the bulk of the deck. Usually, it’s a good idea to have 15 creatures in a deck.

Removal: Usually one of the most important aspects of the deck. Cards like Torrent of Stone
Torrent of Stone
Torrent of StoneSet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
4
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
119
Artist:
Greg Staples
Text:
Torrent of Stone deals 4 damage to target creature. Splice onto Arcane—Sacrifice two mountains. (As you play an Arcane spell, you may reveal this card from your hand and pay its splice cost. If you do, add this card's effects to that spell.)
and Rend Flesh
Rend Flesh
Rend FleshSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
140
Artist:
Stephen Tappin
Text:
Destroy target non-Spirit creature.
will help take down opposing threats in order to help you establish board control. It’s a good idea to try to have an average of 4 removal cards in your deck.

Craps: I consider these the non-creature, non-removal cards of the deck. They can take the form of combat tricks like Indomitable Will
Indomitable Will
Indomitable WillSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Enchant Creature
Rarity:
C
Number:
17
Artist:
Christopher Rush
Text:
You may play Indomitable Will any time you could play an instant. Enchanted creature gets +1/+2.
and Serpent Skin
Serpent Skin
Serpent SkinSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
3
Color:
Green
Type:
Enchant Creature
Rarity:
C
Number:
240
Artist:
Rob Alexander
Text:
You may play Serpent Skin any time you could play an instant. Enchanted creature gets +1/+1. G: Regenerate enchanted creature.
or they can be great finishers like Strength of Cedars
Strength of Cedars
Strength of CedarsSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
5
Color:
Green
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
U
Number:
245
Artist:
Edward P. Beard, Jr.
Text:
Target creature gets +X/+X until end of turn, where X is the number of lands you control.
and Devouring Greed
Devouring Greed
Devouring GreedSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
4
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
110
Artist:
Vance Kovacs
Text:
As an additional cost to play Devouring Greed, you may sacrifice any number of Spirits. Target player loses 2 life plus 2 life for each Spirit sacrificed this way. You gain that much life.
or they can even be card advantage like Kodama’s Reach and Petals of Insight
Petals of Insight
Petals of InsightSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
U
Number:
79
Artist:
Anthony S. Waters
Text:
Look at the top three cards of your library. You may put those cards on the bottom of your library in any order. If you do, return Petals of Insight to its owner's hand. Otherwise, draw three cards.
. Aim for having an average of 3 of these guys in your deck.

Land: Champions of Kamigawa is an especially tempo-oriented set so missing land drops could be death. Personally, I prefer 17 to 18 lands for a deck.

Land Ratio
-Some people go for 3 color builds which include six lands of each type. This is a mistake, though, because this can lead to mana-screw more often than not. Personally, I try to stick to 2 of my deepest colors, and then splash for a 3rd color. For example, sometimes your red pool can be a ridiculously weak except for Glacial Ray
Glacial Ray
Glacial RaySet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
168
Artist:
Jim Murray
Text:
Glacial Ray deals 2 damage to target creature or player. Splice onto Arcane 1R (As you play an Arcane spell, you may reveal this card from your hand and pay its splice cost. If you do, add this card's effects to that spell.)
and Yamabushi’s Flame. Fear
Fear
FearSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Enchant Creature
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Mark Poole
Text:
Target creature cannot be blocked by any creatures except black creatures and artifact creatures.
not! Throw in 3 mountains and both of the red removal into your deck, and you’re good to go! It becomes more complicated when it comes to splashing for creatures, though. It generally is a bad idea to splash for creatures, but there are exceptions. For example, I wouldn’t mind splashing white for Kabuto Moth
Kabuto Moth
Kabuto MothSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
3
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
C
Number:
20
Artist:
Tomas Giorello
Power:
1
Toughness:
2
Text:
Flying T: Target creature gets +1/+2 until end of turn.
and maybe even Reciprocate
Reciprocate
ReciprocateSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
40
Artist:
Pat Lee
Text:
Remove from the game target creature that dealt damage to you this turn.
. Of course, I don’t know a single person out there that would not splash blue for Meloku (unless of course their blue pool is deep somehow, which happens just as often as winning the lottery).

Get Organized, Man!
-The best way to avoid deck-building mistakes is to get yourself organized. Count the number of creatures, removal, etc. for each color and then compare them. If you’re having real trouble deciding between which color to use, lay both colors next to each other, and then decide which color you’ll use. Take your mana curve into careful consideration, but don’t overdo it. For example, I would not play Humble
Humble
HumbleSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
18
Artist:
Carl Critchlow
Text:
Target creature loses all abilities and is a 0/1 creature until end of turn.
IEJ1ZG9rYQ== over Brutal Deceiver
Brutal Deceiver
Brutal DeceiverSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
C
Number:
161
Artist:
Jon Foster
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
1: Look at the top card of your library. 2: Reveal the top card of your library. If it's a land, Brutal Deceiver gets +1/+0 and gains first strike until end of turn. Play this ability only once each turn.
, even if my deck had 7 three-drops and only 3 two-drops. Keep scanning the colors that you didn’t use so you know you chose the right color.

Know the Set!
-This skill is perhaps probably the obvious that you need, but it’s still quite important. Know the bad cards, and know the good cards. If you know each card’s uses inside and out, it becomes a lot easier to make the final cuts for your deck. However, the only way to know the cards, though, is to practice with them. How? Online, of course. Sites like Starcitygames (http://www.starcitygames.com/phpBB2/viewforum.php?f=10)and Magicthegathering (http://boards1.wizards.com/forumdisplay.php?f=180) have fairly decent limited forums. Look for the threads that say stuff like “Sealed Pool”, build a deck from the list of cards, and then look through the comments to see how other people built the pool.


Playing Style

-Perhaps the most important part of the game, though, is to make sure you know exactly how to play with your cards. This means that you have to know which cards have synergy with each other, and you have to know how to utilize that synergy.

‘Example 1-> Why play that Kami of False hope right away when you know you have a RmFpdGhmdWwgSquire
Squire
SquireSet: The Dark
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Squire
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Dennis Detwiller
Power:
1
Toughness:
2
in your deck? Sometimes, its best to hold back your spirits if you know you have a powerful spirit/arcane triggers in your deck like Cunning Bandit
Cunning Bandit
Cunning BanditSet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
3
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Human Warrior
Rarity:
U
Number:
99
Artist:
Paolo Parente
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Whenever you play a Spirit or Arcane spell, you may put a ki counter on Cunning Bandit. At end of turn, if there are two or more ki counters on Cunning Bandit, you may flip it. ---- Azamuki, Treachery Incarnate Legendary Creature — Spirit 5/2 Remove a ki counter from Azamuki, Treachery Incarnate Gain control of target creature until end of turn.
, Soilshaper
Soilshaper
SoilshaperSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
U
Number:
243
Artist:
Thomas M. Baxa
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Whenever you play a Spirit or Arcane spell, target land becomes a 3/3 creature until end of turn. It's still a land.
, Oyobi who Split the Heaven, etc., but don’t make the mistake of holding back too much stuff for Spirit
Spirit
SpiritSet: Divine vs Demonic
Cost:
0
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
C
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Flying
/arcane. For example, if the opponent is about to nail you with an Okiba-Gang Shinobi, don’t be afraid to use your glacial ray on it.’

‘Example 2-> You played Phantom Wings
Phantom Wings
Phantom WingsSet: Weatherlight
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchant Creature
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Una Fricker
Text:
Enchanted creature gains flying.Sacrifice Phantom Wings: Return enchanted creature to owner's hand.
on a potentially threatening Scaled Hulk
Scaled Hulk
Scaled HulkSet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
6
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
C
Number:
143
Artist:
Arnie Swekel
Power:
4
Toughness:
4
Text:
Whenever you play a Spirit or Arcane spell, Scaled Hulk gets +2/+2 until end of turn.
because you plan to bounce it, but sometimes there are better options for Phantom Wings
Phantom Wings
Phantom WingsSet: Weatherlight
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchant Creature
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Una Fricker
Text:
Enchanted creature gains flying.Sacrifice Phantom Wings: Return enchanted creature to owner's hand.
. Everybody knows that Phantom Wings
Phantom Wings
Phantom WingsSet: Weatherlight
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchant Creature
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Una Fricker
Text:
Enchanted creature gains flying.Sacrifice Phantom Wings: Return enchanted creature to owner's hand.
can be a game winner when placed on cards like Okiba-Gang Shinobi or Mistblade Shinobi
Mistblade Shinobi
Mistblade ShinobiSet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Human Ninja
Rarity:
C
Number:
43
Artist:
Kev Walker
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Ninjutsu U (U, Return an unblocked attacker you control to hand Put this card into play from your hand tapped and attacking.) Whenever Mistblade Shinobi deals combat damage to a player, you may return target creature that player controls to its owner's hand.
. Also, know that Phantom Wings
Phantom Wings
Phantom WingsSet: Weatherlight
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchant Creature
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Una Fricker
Text:
Enchanted creature gains flying.Sacrifice Phantom Wings: Return enchanted creature to owner's hand.
also has potential synergy with cards that hose flyers. For example, Gale Force
Gale Force
Gale ForceSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
5
Color:
Green
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
209
Artist:
Lars Grant-West
Text:
Gale Force deals 5 damage to each creature with flying.
or Matsu-Tribe Sniper can easily deal with that Scaled Hulk
Scaled Hulk
Scaled HulkSet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
6
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
C
Number:
143
Artist:
Arnie Swekel
Power:
4
Toughness:
4
Text:
Whenever you play a Spirit or Arcane spell, Scaled Hulk gets +2/+2 until end of turn.
enchanted with your Phantom Wings
Phantom Wings
Phantom WingsSet: Weatherlight
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchant Creature
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Una Fricker
Text:
Enchanted creature gains flying.Sacrifice Phantom Wings: Return enchanted creature to owner's hand.
.

‘Mistakes, Mistakes, Mistakes!’

-Making mistakes is nearly unavoidable in a game as complicated as Magic. With so many confusing comprehension rules, effects of the stack, etc., one must always be on his toes in order to make the best play.

*For example, Izamuki, Treachery
Treachery
TreacherySet: Urza's Destiny
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchant Creature
Rarity:
R
Number:
50
Artist:
Matthew D. Wilson
Text:
When Treachery comes into play, untap up to five lands.You control enchanted creature.
Incarnate is a particularly useful card, especially when it has 2 ki counter on it. When should you try to use the counters to gain conrol of creatures, though?

Opportunity
Opportunity
OpportunitySet: Urza's Legacy
Cost:
6
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
37
Artist:
Ron Spears
Text:
Target player draws four cards.
#1- Before the Declare Attackers step during your turn (You use their creatures in order to finish the game). Don’t go for this unless you’re sure that it will end the game. Also, take note that Izamuki, Treachery
Treachery
TreacherySet: Urza's Destiny
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchant Creature
Rarity:
R
Number:
50
Artist:
Matthew D. Wilson
Text:
When Treachery comes into play, untap up to five lands.You control enchanted creature.
Incarnate doesn’t untap the creatures it steals nor does it give them haste.’

Opportunity
Opportunity
OpportunitySet: Urza's Legacy
Cost:
6
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
37
Artist:
Ron Spears
Text:
Target player draws four cards.
#2- Right before an opponent’s Declare Attackers Step (By far the worst time to use Izamuki, Treachury Incarnate’s ability. The opponent can still choose not to attack, turning Izamuki, Treachery
Treachery
TreacherySet: Urza's Destiny
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchant Creature
Rarity:
R
Number:
50
Artist:
Matthew D. Wilson
Text:
When Treachery comes into play, untap up to five lands.You control enchanted creature.
Incarnate’s ability into a 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.
.)

Opportunity
Opportunity
OpportunitySet: Urza's Legacy
Cost:
6
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
37
Artist:
Ron Spears
Text:
Target player draws four cards.
#3- Right after an opponent’s Declare Attackers Step. (By far the best time to use Izamuki, Treachery
Treachery
TreacherySet: Urza's Destiny
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchant Creature
Rarity:
R
Number:
50
Artist:
Matthew D. Wilson
Text:
When Treachery comes into play, untap up to five lands.You control enchanted creature.
Incarnate’s ability. You can gain control of one of the opponent’s untapped blockers and halt one of their attackers, hopefully getting 2 creature kills for 1 Ki counter. This is probably the best way to get card advantage out of Izamuki, Treachery
Treachery
TreacherySet: Urza's Destiny
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchant Creature
Rarity:
R
Number:
50
Artist:
Matthew D. Wilson
Text:
When Treachery comes into play, untap up to five lands.You control enchanted creature.
Incarnate’s ability.)

*You could also do some other tricks with the ‘Gain control of target creature’ ability. For example, in response to an opponent attaching equipment to a creature, you could gain control of it. The equipment can’t be attached to your creature.

“But, wouldn’t it be better to just let the equipping resolve, and then still use Izamuki, Treachery
Treachery
TreacherySet: Urza's Destiny
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchant Creature
Rarity:
R
Number:
50
Artist:
Matthew D. Wilson
Text:
When Treachery comes into play, untap up to five lands.You control enchanted creature.
Incarnate’s ability during combat. You could still snag a blocker to block the equipped creature!”

-First, I have to say that it’s always a good idea to second guess something. This is the kind of thinking that will win games! The truth is there are always exceptions to everything. It’s good to know all of the uses for a particular card, but it’s even better to recognize the best use for the card in a particular situation.

The Importance of Sideboarding

-Don’t you dare begin even one game before you take another look through the cards that you left out of your deck. It’s a very good idea to make a mental note for important sideboard choices. For example, you may want to bring in Ghost-lit Redeem
Redeem
RedeemSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
33
Artist:
D. Alexander Gregory
Text:
Prevent all damage to one or two creatures. (Treat further damage normally.)
er or Hisoka’s Defiance against a deck that packs Devouring Greed
Devouring Greed
Devouring GreedSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
4
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
110
Artist:
Vance Kovacs
Text:
As an additional cost to play Devouring Greed, you may sacrifice any number of Spirits. Target player loses 2 life plus 2 life for each Spirit sacrificed this way. You gain that much life.
, or you may want to sideboard in Gale Force
Gale Force
Gale ForceSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
5
Color:
Green
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
209
Artist:
Lars Grant-West
Text:
Gale Force deals 5 damage to each creature with flying.
against a deck with plenty of flyers. It’s silly to lose a game because you forgot to take out Befoul
Befoul
BefoulSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
4
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
116
Artist:
Pete Venters
Text:
Destroy target land or nonblack creature. It can't be regenerated.
against a deck with mostly black creatures or you forgot to side in Wear Away
Wear Away
Wear AwaySet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Green
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
C
Number:
250
Artist:
Tim Hildebrandt
Text:
Destroy target artifact or enchantment. Splice onto Arcane 3G (As you play an Arcane spell, you may reveal this card from your hand and pay its splice cost. If you do, add this card's effects to that spell.)
against a deck with Long-Forgotten Gohei or Umezawa’s Jitte.

**The main point, though, is that not only do you need to practice your deck-building skills, you need to know that sub-optimal cards like Glitterfang
Glitterfang
GlitterfangSet: Saviors of Kamigawa
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
C
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Haste At end of turn, return Glitterfang to its owner's hand.
and Blood Clock
Blood Clock
Blood ClockSet: Saviors of Kamigawa
Cost:
4
Color:
Artifact
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Text:
At the beginning of each player's upkeep, that player returns a permanent he or she controls to its owner's hand unless he or she pays 2 life.
, can actually become quite playable in the right deck (These guys shine in a deck with multiple cards that benefit from playing spirit/arcane junk). You need to know the right time to use certain abilities (For example, Waxmane Baku
Waxmane Baku
Waxmane BakuSet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
3
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
C
Number:
29
Artist:
Greg Hildebrandt
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Whenever you play a Spirit or Arcane spell, you may put a ki counter on Waxmane Baku. 1, Remove X ki counters from Waxmane Baku Tap X target creatures.
’s ability should only be used either right before an opponent’s Declare Attackers Step or right before your own Declare Attackers Step if you’re on the offensive), and you need to know that there are always exceptions to this rule (For example, if your Waxmane Baku
Waxmane Baku
Waxmane BakuSet: Betrayers of Kamigawa
Cost:
3
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
C
Number:
29
Artist:
Greg Hildebrandt
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Whenever you play a Spirit or Arcane spell, you may put a ki counter on Waxmane Baku. 1, Remove X ki counters from Waxmane Baku Tap X target creatures.
is destroyed, you might as well just use the counters, right?). Treat every game you play like a puzzle, and acknowledge your mistakes when you make them. Don’t blame your losses on mana-screw when you know you made some particularly bad plays. But most importantly, enjoy the games you play because it’s nearly impossible to get better at something you don’t enjoy.


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