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I have been playing magic for about 4 years, and this is my first article. From the beginning I wondered how much was the deck and how much was the player. If I give a bad deck to a pro player, would he still win against a new player with a good deck? Then I tried to build my first deck after reading a card list of almost every card ever printed at the time. (Scar
y thinking back on that) I made it with many proxies, and it did not work. (Blue/black control deck.) Then I tried to figure out why; why was my deck not working? Then I learned something when I played it without an opponent. I could easily control the game on turn six. (There was my problem: SIX) I kept losing on turn 6-7 but by then I was in bad shape and could not get myself out of the mess I was in. I needed to make sure that I could stop them from beating me before I could control the game; slow them down. With that, I quickly learned two important facts:
Artist: Pete Venters
Text: Put a -1/-1 counter on target creature.
1) Play with the best.
2) Speed is everything.
PLAY WITH THE BEST
Ok, let us start with #1: Play with the best. This has two different meanings and I mean them both. Firstly, it means play with the best cards for that situation. When given a choice to play with a “lesser card” that will cost you ten cents or the best card for three-dollars, you have to play the three-dollar card. The reason is that playing a card that only “kind of works” makes your deck only “kind of work.” Now, not all good cards are high priced, nor are the high priced cards good in every deck, but just remember, do not settle for a lesser card just because it will let you play a non-proxy version of the deck. A great deck is worth waiting for.
Secondly, it means to play against the best opponents. You will never improve your game if you only play against the same deck repeatedly. In addition, you will also never improve if you only play against players that do not play at their best. The best way to learn is to struggle through the game. You will learn more by playing and talking to the better players; they will have insights into the game that you will not have considered. They also may have suggestions on cards that you never heard of that will work better in the deck, and they can give reasons why.
SPEED IS EVERYTHING
“Speed is everything.” I have been yelled at a lot for this statement in the past, but I have yet to hear a real argument to the contrary. There are people who say consistency is more important, but what they do not realize is that consistency is included in speed. If I say, “how fast can a burn deck kill its opponent?” Well if he draws nothing but lands for the first 6 turns… or if he has a perfect draw… you have to average out the speed of your deck. That is why it includes consistency.
If I said the statement, “how fast does a type 1 counter spell deck control the game?” Your answer would be like, “It would depend on the cards in the deck.” Well if your deck had Force of Will
s in it, it would have an answer to a spell before their first turn. Therefore, a good counter spell deck can control the game before its first turn. (That is why counter is hard to beat.) A decent type-one burn deck can kill you in 3-4 turns. But, a kill of 3-4 turns vs. before turn 1 control will show you that the control deck has a big advantage. As with green stompy vs. burn, both have a 3-4 turn kill speed and you will see that the decks have about a 50% chance of beating each other.
|Force of Will|
Artist: Terese Nielsen
Text: You may pay 1 life and remove a blue card in your hand from the game instead of paying Force of Will's casting cost. Effects that prevent or redirect damage cannot be used to counter this loss of life. Counter target spell.
As I stated in the last paragraph it is not just speed to win, it’s speed in control, lock, combo, win, or do what ever your deck is supposed to do. If you usually “go off” turn 2-3 and your opponent can only lock the game on turn 5-6 then you will usually win; anybody can see that.
The effect of control cards in a game is to sacrifice some of your speed in order to slow down or disrupt an opponent’s “plan” or “Slow them down.” Cards like: counter spells, land destruction, disenchant, or creature destruction. These cards are usually meant to only slow the opponent down so that you can maintain the upper hand. Counter spell / control decks contain many of these cards. Burn decks typically do not have much in the way of control cards. But, if you ever look at the sideboard of a type 1.5 burn deck you will see red counter spells (Red Elemental Blast
|Red Elemental Blast|
|Set: Revised Edition|
Artist: Richard Thomas
Text: Counters a blue spell being cast or destroys a blue card in play.
). These are there to counter a control deck, sacrificing some of their deck’s speed, in an attempt to slow down their opponent’s control of the game.
|Set: Fifth Edition|
Artist: Kaja Foglio
Text: Counter target spell if it is blue, or destroy target permanent if it is blue. (If this spell targets a permanent, play it as an instant.)
WHAT HAPPENS NOW
You will want to play against those players who always win and look at what cards they are playing. Try to find out why they are using those cards instead of other cards that they could be playing. Start playing cards that are better in the deck rather then settling with what you can get easy. You will look at your decks and be able to see what you want each deck to do and how to speed it up to make it work faster or slow my opponent down to get a chance to let the deck work.
The next time a new player asks you to look at their deck and you see cards never used or that all their creatures can only be played after turn four; you will think, “how can I speed up this deck, to make it work fast enough to compete with the speed of the other decks around in order to give this person a chance of winning?” Because you now know the real way to get a deck to work is to make it work before their opponent’s deck does or to slow their opponent’s deck down to the point were they have the time to get their deck to work.
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