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CardShark Content - Kevin Knack (5/30/2002)

Unfortunately, one of Magic’s greatest problems lays not in its cards or rules or mechanics, but its players. Magic just seems to have a higher percentage of unpleasant people involved than say…chess…or baseball…or mass murder. Sure, there are a few nice guys (and gals) who are good players and fun to hang out with, but getting a game with them is like getting a date – most of the good ones are already taken. As such, you must either relax your standards, settle, and play with the guy who smells like he’s got some kinda plague and doesn’t want to wash because he’s afraid it’ll get ‘riled up’, or you bite the bullet and drag some of your friends, kicking and screaming, into this dank, musty underworld we call Magic.

Getting your friends to even try the game can be a monumental task. It can be easier convincing them to try life destroying drugs like heroin…crack…hell, even Draino. While the option of locking them in a cage, refusing to give them food or water, and occasionally poking at them with a high-voltage cattle prod can produce admirable changes in their willingness to try new things, it’s probably not the lasting first impression of the game you want to give them (you know, the one they get after years of conditioning that only nerds, freaks, and geeks play Magic). I prefer a more subtle approach. I merely skulk behind them (because I’m a Magic player and that’s what we do…skulk) until I spot the popular kids approaching. Then I shove a deck in their hands, yell out “Sure, we can play a few games of Magic tonight, but only after the Star Trek marathon and before our Dungeons and Dragons game,” and bolt for the door. Hell, their reputation is already ruined at that point, they may as well play. Nah, I’m just kidding. Surprisingly, most people seem quite willing to try the game (or at least watch a game) because of what they’ve heard about it. Must be one of those primal things similar to the need to see the chunky bits of a train wreck.

Once you get the deck in their hands, the real fun begins. While you’ve had years to learn, misinterpret, and mangle the rules, your friends are going to have absolutely no idea what they’re doing. If you’re lucky, they’ll understand the mechanics of shuffling and why it’s so important. It doesn’t matter how bright they are though, you’re still going to have to treat them like inbred monkeys for the first couple of games, and you can bet they’re not going to appreciate it. Because of this, and the fact you’ll be boring them out of their skulls explaining the nuances of tapping and the stack, you need to compensate somehow to keep their attention. I recommend using really cool sounding cards. Somebody playing Magic for the first time doesn’t give a rat’s ass about some card called ‘Lin Sivvi’ or ‘Llanowar Elves
Llanowar Elves
Llanowar ElvesSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elves
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Anson Maddocks
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
T: Add G to your mana pool. This ability is played as an interrupt.
’. Also, for the love of god, don’t play a ‘Counterspell
Counterspell
CounterspellSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Mark Poole
Text:
Counters target spell as it is being cast.
’! This card annoys veteran players and is absolutely unbelievable to new ones. Usually the conversation goes something like this;

“I’m going to counter your Diabolic Edict
Diabolic Edict
Diabolic EdictSet: Tempest
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Ron Spencer
Text:
Target player sacrifices a creature.
.”

“Ok, what’s that do?”

“Your spell doesn’t happen, just put it in the graveyard.”

“That’s stupid. This is stupid. You’re stupid. I’m gonna play GTA3.”

Interestingly, minus the middle two comments, you’ll probably hear that conversation at any given high level tournament. And besides, let’s be honest with ourselves. Telling somebody you’re counterspelling the only card they could possibly use to keep themselves in the game is like telling them you just ran over their puppy. How can you blue mages live with yourselves?

When you’re trying to seduce a new player to the game, you’ve got to bust out with the really impressive stuff like ‘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.
’, ‘Obliterate
Obliterate
ObliterateSet: Invasion
Cost:
8
Color:
Red
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
156
Artist:
Kev Walker
Text:
Obliterate can't be countered.Destroy all artifacts, creatures, and lands. They can't be regenerated.
’, and ‘Pestilence
Pestilence
PestilenceSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
4
Color:
Black
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Jesper Myrfors
Text:
B: Do 1 damage to each creature and to both players.If there are no creatures in play at the end of any turn, Pestilence must be discarded.
’. Make it look like you’re slinging some serious power about, and nothing says power like playing a card called ‘Hand of Death
Hand of Death
Hand of DeathSet: Portal Second Age
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Heather Hudson
Text:
Destroy any one creature that isn't black.
’ (Portal’s version of Dark Banishing
Dark Banishing
Dark BanishingSet: Ice Age
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Drew Tucker
Text:
Bury target non-black creature.
…it’s a tragedy how much cool stuff ends up in a set nobody buys). Fire Elemental
Fire Elemental
Fire ElementalSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
5
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Elemental
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Melissa A. Benson
Power:
5
Toughness:
4
, Animate Dead
Animate Dead
Animate DeadSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Enchant Dead Creature
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Anson Maddocks
Text:
Any creature in any graveyard comes into play on your side with -1 to its original power. At end of game, or if this enchantment is discarded without removing target creature from play, target creature is returned to its owner's graveyard. Target creature may be killed as normal.
, Colossus of Sardia
Colossus of Sardia
Colossus of SardiaSet: Fourth Edition
Cost:
9
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact Creature
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Jesper Myrfors
Power:
9
Toughness:
9
Text:
Trample Colossus does not untap during your untap phase.9: Untap Colossus. Use this ability only during your upkeep.
…maybe even a dragon or two…all of these are like candy to a newbie. I wish Wizards would print a card called ‘Big ol’ Beatstick of Impending Doom’ (Well…I guess Spiritmonger
Spiritmonger
SpiritmongerSet: Apocalypse
Cost:
5
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Beast
Rarity:
R
Number:
121
Artist:
Glen Angus
Power:
6
Toughness:
6
Text:
Whenever Spiritmonger deals damage to a creature, put a +1/+1 counter on Spiritmonger. B: Regenerate Spiritmonger. G: Spiritmonger becomes the color of your choice until end of turn.
is kind of close)…that’ll get your friends’ attention. Believe me, the last thing your friends are going to want to hear is “At the end of your turn, I Fact or Fiction
Fact or Fiction
Fact or FictionSet: Invasion
Cost:
4
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
57
Artist:
Terese Nielsen
Text:
Reveal the top five cards of your library. An opponent separates those cards into two face-up piles. Put one pile into your hand and the other into your graveyard.
,” followed by a 20 minute explanation of what the card does and why they can’t look at and choose cards from their library. It’s much more impressive to tell them that you’re Culling the Weak
Culling the Weak
Culling the WeakSet: Exodus
Cost:
1
Color:
Black
Type:
Mana Source
Rarity:
C
Number:
55
Artist:
Scott M. Fischer
Text:
Sacrifice a creature: Add BBBB to your mana pool.
and slapping down a 500lb fattie called Ishan’s Shade. Also, pay attention to the art you’re using. Force of Nature
Force of Nature
Force of NatureSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
6
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Force
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Power:
8
Toughness:
8
Text:
TrampleYou must pay GGGG during your upkeep or Force of Nature does 8 damage to you. You may still attack with Force of Nature even if you failed to pay the upkeep.
is an impressive card, if you’re using the bad-ass predator looking art. If you’re playing with the green Q-tip, I’m an overgrown treefolk version, your friends are going to be too busy holding in their contempt over the stupid looking art to show any interest in the card. Same thing goes with Craw Giant
Craw Giant
Craw GiantSet: Fifth Edition
Cost:
7
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Giant
Rarity:
U
Artist:
Scott Kirschner
Power:
6
Toughness:
4
Text:
Trample; rampage 2 (For each creature assigned to block it beyond the first, this creature gets +2/+2 until end of turn.)
.

Your friends have tried the game. They have a rudimentary understanding of the rules and they’re actually starting to believe that there are some cool things about the game. They like the cards, they like the art…they’re intesrested…now what? Easy…LET THEM WIN, JACKASS! No doubt being the proverbial Magic king of the mountain does great wonders to your ego, but it’s also irritating the hell out of your friends. Let them win and feel some of the good vibes annihilating your opponent can give you. Now, I know you have your pride. I know that if you’re sitting on a handful of control or burn or some other simple solution, it’s just against your nature to get pounded when you can so easily take care of the problem. So what do you do? Easy, give your friends some sort of beginner friendly, semi-tuned, semi-competitive deck while you yourself play with nothing but ass. Just make sure it’s something cool too. Think of this as your chance to be liberated. Yes, you can play with Lord of the Pit
Lord of the Pit
Lord of the PitSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
7
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Demon
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Mark Tedin
Power:
7
Toughness:
7
Text:
Flying, trample You must sacrifice one of your own creatures during your upkeep or Lord of the Pit does 7 damage to you. You may still attack with Lord of the Pit even if you failed to sacrifice a creature. Lord of the Pit may not be sacrificed to itself.
and not feel bad about it. Nantuko Shade
Nantuko Shade
Nantuko ShadeSet: Torment
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Insect Shade
Rarity:
R
Number:
74
Power:
2
Toughness:
1
Text:
B: Nantuko Shade gets +1/+1 until end of turn.
? Why bother? I’ve got 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
! Remember playing with walls? Go for it! This can be your big chance to build an Atog
Atog
AtogSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Atog
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Jesper Myrfors
Power:
1
Toughness:
2
Text:
0: +2/+2. Each time you use this ability, you must sacrifice one of your artifacts in play.
deck! You’ve always wanted to toss in an Atogatog
Atogatog
AtogatogSet: Odyssey
Cost:
5
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Atog Legend
Rarity:
R
Number:
286
Artist:
Ron Spears
Power:
5
Toughness:
5
Text:
Sacrifice an Atog: Atogatog gets +X/+X until end of turn where X is the sacrificed Atog's power.
…hell, why not toss in two?! As long as you don’t play with anything obnoxious, the sky is the limit!

All that’s left at this point is to get them actually start making some investments into the game. I’m not really talking about money when I say investments. While your friends aren’t looking forward to spending several hundred dollars into cards, they will; I’ve seen it happen dozens of times before. No, I’m talking about the investment of time, pride, and thought. To do this, you need to encourage them to try their hand at deck building. After all, you don’t want to be playing against your own decks all the time. You always end up with mixed feelings; one of your decks rocks, while the other is as inferior as a your high school’s cafeteria lunches.

To get them to build their initial deck, you’ll probably have to give them their first cards. That’s fine, you’ve got stuff sitting in your closet from block formats of yore, some of it is even actually pretty good. They’ll churn their gears and concentrate real hard and end up coming up with some 4 color, 250 monstrosity (without Battle of Wits
Battle of Wits
Battle of WitsSet: Odyssey
Cost:
5
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
R
Number:
69
Artist:
Mark Brill
Text:
At the beginning of your upkeep, if you have 200 or more cards in your library, you win the game.
), but who cares? You’ll hand them their ass game after game, giving them little hints and strategies (unless you’re a sadist and you enjoy heaping abuse upon your friends. You know all those lost games can’t be helping their confidence any), until eventually they have something that’s at least competitive in casual play. Once they get the idea, they’ll keep building and refining until they are a full-fledged player. And what will they do to get the cards once you shut down Card Welfare and the free cardboard stops flowing? They’ll start investing some coin. See how pieces all start to fit together until they form a picture of the beginnings of a cardboard junkie?

Really, all you’re going to have to do to get your friends hooked on Magic is get the ball rolling. The game is genuinely very good and quite addicting. It’s kind of like those pyramid schemes that pop up from time to time, “Our product is so good, it practically sells itself!” The only difference, you’re not universally reviled and viewed as a social parasite when your friends realize what you’ve done to them. Indeed, your friends may even thank you for introducing them to their new obsession.

Regards,


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