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CardShark Content - Kevin Knack (4/29/2002)

Emperor Magic is quite possibly the greatest variant on the game eve created. I was first exposed to this format in an Inquest article many years ago. Because some of you may have never heard of the variant or play with a different set of rules, I describe the style I know and love.

Emperor Magic requires six players, or two emperors and 4 generals. Emperors sit across from each other and have their generals on their left and right. Here's a sample diagram:

Emperor Letters

General A General B

General 1 General 2

Emperor Numbers

The purpose of Emperor Magic is to kill the other emperor. The trick is that you can only affect players to your left and to your right. In other words, General 1's spells affect General A and Emperor Numbers. If he wants to target a player with a fireball, he can only target those two players. If he plays a Wrath of God
Wrath of God
Wrath of GodSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
4
Color:
White
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Quinton Hoover
Text:
All creatures in play are buried.
, only General A, himself, and Emperor Numbers have to bury their creatures. If Emperor Numbers lays down a Bad Moon
Bad Moon
Bad MoonSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Jesper Myrfors
Text:
All black creatures in play gain +1/+1.
, only his, General 1's, and General 2's black creatures get the bonus. Getting the picture? Once General 1 kills General A, Emperor Letters is now in is realm and can be targeted (General 1 could also be targeted by Emperor Letters at that point). Once the emperor dies, that team loses, regardless of whether or not they have a general remaining.

Players also have the option of moving their creatures to other team members. If a creature can legitimately attack on a turn, a player may instead opt to ´´march´´ his creature to an adjacent player. The emperor can march their creatures to either side, but if generals want to share creatures, they must first march to the emperor.

That's really all you need to know to play. There are many variations on this style of play and a set of 'House Rules' follow this article.

You'd be very surprised how much strategy can be involved with this type of game. While generals can get away with playing a standard dueling deck, emperors might want to put more thought into theirs. Aside from obvious choices such as 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.
, Emperor Magic provides a unique format that encourages the play of rarely used cards. Chump rares and 'trash' cards start to shine in this format. The local commons box can become a treasure trove of powerful spells. Here's a list for your consideration. If you want to find out more about a card, just type it into Cardshark's search engine.

Truce
Truce
TruceSet: Fifth Edition
Cost:
3
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Donato Giancola
Text:
Each player may draw up to two cards. For each card less than two any player draws, that player gains 2 life.
: Who would have thought that a worthless Homelands rare would prove so useful? For 2W, you have an instant that lets all players draw 2 cards or gain 2 life for each card they don't draw. If you're an emperor and both of your generals are on their feet, your team can gain a net of 5 cards for 3 mana...not a bad deal at all. It's life option may not be very popular, but it's always nice to have the option if your general is in a heated match and just needs to survive another turn or two to deal a killing blow.

Prosperity
Prosperity
ProsperitySet: Classic Sixth Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
U
Number:
89
Artist:
Dan Frazier
Text:
Each player draws X cards.
: This card has its uses in tournament play, but is broken in Emperor. Sorcery - XU, each player draws X cards. Spend four mana, your team nets 8 cards...ouch.

Noble Benefactor
Noble Benefactor
Noble BenefactorSet: Weatherlight
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Cleric
Rarity:
U
Artist:
DiTerlizzi
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
If Noble Benefactor is put into any graveyard from play, each player may search his or her library for any one card and put that card into his or her hand. Each player who searches his or her library shuffles it afterwards.
: A 2/2 for 2U is kind of lousy. If you can find a way to kill him off, however, he turns into a demonic tutor for your entire team. Your generals will love you for that...

Shade's Form
Shade's Form
Shade's FormSet: Torment
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Enchant Creature
Rarity:
C
Number:
81
Text:
Enchanted creature has B: This creature gets +1/+1 until end of turn. When enchanted creature is put into a graveyard, return that creature to play under your control.
: Torment
Torment
TormentSet: Stronghold
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Enchant Creature
Rarity:
C
Number:
23
Artist:
Paolo Parente
Text:
Enchanted creature gets -3/-0.
offers up a useful emperor card. For 1BB, this enchant creature gives the ability of a Frozen Shade
Frozen Shade
Frozen ShadeSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Shade
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Power:
0
Toughness:
1
Text:
B: +1/+1
. If the critter dies, he comes back into play under your control. This card is great for two reasons. First, it serves as an insurance policy on a creature, brining it back for a second round. Second, since you still control the enchantment, you can use your mana to pump up a general's creature, giving your general a fatty and you something to do with all those untapped swamps.

Turnabout
Turnabout
TurnaboutSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
4
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
105
Artist:
Heather Hudson
Text:
Tap or untap all artifacts, creatures, or lands target player controls.
: This instant for 2UU lets you tap or untap all of a player's lands, artifacts, or creatures. Use it to double a general's mana or refresh their defenses. Or, if one of your generals has fallen, use it to tap your opponents army and buy yourself some time.

Flickering Ward
Flickering Ward
Flickering WardSet: Tempest
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Enchant Creature
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Greg Simanson
Text:
When you play Flickering Ward, choose a color.Enchanted creature gains protection from the chosen color.W: Return Flickering Ward to owner's hand.
: Keeping your general's creatures alive keeps you alive. Flickering Ward
Flickering Ward
Flickering WardSet: Tempest
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Enchant Creature
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Greg Simanson
Text:
When you play Flickering Ward, choose a color.Enchanted creature gains protection from the chosen color.W: Return Flickering Ward to owner's hand.
is an enchant creature that costs W. When it comes into play, the enchanted creature gains protection from the color of your choice. Hopefully you can see the usefulness behind this without me explaining it to you. Even better, however, is that for W you can return the ward to your hand, allowing you to save it from the graveyard if the creature pops off or redistribute it to a soul in greater need.

Hunted Wumpus
Hunted Wumpus
Hunted WumpusSet: Mercadian Masques
Cost:
4
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Beast
Rarity:
U
Number:
253
Artist:
Brian Snoddy
Power:
6
Toughness:
6
Text:
When Hunted Wumpus comes into play, each other player may put a creature card from his or her hand into play under his or her control.
: Another absolutely broken card in this format. For 3G you get a 6/6 monster. If that isn't enough, when you put it into play all other players get to put a creature into play from their hands too. It's like Christmas for you and your generals...

Elvish Herder
Elvish Herder
Elvish HerderSet: Urza's Saga
Cost:
1
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elf
Rarity:
C
Number:
247
Artist:
Tom Fleming
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
G: Target creature gains trample until end of turn.
: For G you get a 1/1 creature. In and of itself, this is rather unimpressive. Once he hits the table though, for G you get to activate his ability, giving trample to target creature. Even better, he doesn't tap to do it. This lets you make sure the damage your generals do doesn't get chump blocked away.

Well of Knowledge
Well of Knowledge
Well of KnowledgeSet: Weatherlight
Cost:
3
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Artist:
D. Alexander Gregory
Text:
Any player may pay 2 during his or her draw phase to draw a card. Players may use this ability as many times as they choose.
: An artifact that lets you draw cards for every 2 mana you spend is pretty good. Too bad the other players get to do it as well...oh wait...this is Emperor...

Obsidian/Crimson Acolyte
Crimson Acolyte
Crimson AcolyteSet: Invasion
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Cleric
Rarity:
C
Number:
11
Artist:
Orizio Daniele
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Protection from redW: Target creature gains protection from red until end of turn.
: These cards do get played in Type 2 tourneys, but I thought I'd bring them up to make sure they weren't overlooked. For W you get to give a creature protection from black or red depending on your flavor of acolyte. Like the herder, it doesn't tap so you can do it as many times as you have mana. Being able to protect all of your general's creatures from burn really pisses off a red mage.

There's a list of 10 to get you started. Toss a few of these in with a couple of modestly large creatures and you have the recipe for an effective emperor deck.


Now here's that list of House Rules:

1)Creatures that are marched have summoning sickness until they have spent the end of a turn with a player.
2)When rolling to play first, the emperor who wins first goes himself, then has one of his generals go. Play proceeds clockwise with the first general of the other team.
3)Generals and emperors can look at each other's cards.
4)Enchant Worlds are the only cards that affect every player at the table, regardless of who they are next to.
5)When a general dies, all creatures under his control are removed from game.
6)An opponent must be present during a player's upkeep before being 'registered'. This gives the emperor a slight edge when one of his generals falls.

And on a final note, Sliver decks are ridiculous in this format. Cards like Muscle Burst
Muscle Burst
Muscle BurstSet: Odyssey
Cost:
2
Color:
Green
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
252
Artist:
Gary Ruddell
Text:
Target creature gets +X/+X until end of turn, where X is 3 plus the number of Muscle Burst cards in all graveyards.
/Diligent Farmhand
Diligent Farmhand
Diligent FarmhandSet: Odyssey
Cost:
1
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Druid
Rarity:
C
Number:
237
Artist:
Gary Ruddell
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
1G, Sacrifice Diligent Farmhand: Search your library for a basic land card, and put that card into play tapped. Then shuffle your library. If Diligent Farmhand is in a graveyard, Muscle Burst's effect counts it as a Muscle Burst.
are also brutal if generals and emperor collaborate beforehand while building their decks. Please note that it's usually more fun playing decks 'off the shelf', so to speak, and discovering unexpected synergy rather than designing teams to go together.

Regards,


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