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CardShark Content - Matthew Sablan (12/28/2004)

It was recently brought to my attention that I haven't written anything for Cardshark for a long time by one of my teammates in Team Alternate Win Condition. In a crush of exams, RA duties, and Magic, it's true I had forgotten to tend to this little writing exercise of mine, and I apologize for that. Looking at all of my old articles, I see promises of things I was going to talk about, that I never really did get around to talking about.

And when I come back to reading Magic articles here, at the end of the year (did everyone have a happy holiday?) I find articles that abound about DampenThoughts.dec (a deck I'd built awhile ago, but didn't find that effective), cards from Unhinge
Unhinge
UnhingeSet: Torment
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
87
Text:
Target player discards a card from his or her hand. Draw a card.
d that are ´´playable,´´ and other such articles. The competitive field was indeed tense where I play at Dream Wizards, even for the Unhinge
Unhinge
UnhingeSet: Torment
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
87
Text:
Target player discards a card from his or her hand. Draw a card.
d pre-release! I had people cheating at Unhinge
Unhinge
UnhingeSet: Torment
Cost:
3
Color:
Black
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
87
Text:
Target player discards a card from his or her hand. Draw a card.
d (and I don't just mean with Cheaty Face). People stacked their decks, argued over what constituted a ´´laugh,´´ and I mean an argument that had to be resolved with a judge's ruling. Maybe Magic's just too competitive for me? Who knows.

But I just wanted to lay out what I'll be talking about for the next year, as I return to Virginia for some serious Magic action. The first kind of article I'll be writing is a lot like this one. My team's outlook, and team strategy and developments. My team is Team Alternate Win Condition- it's comprised of myself, Alex and Eric (so you know who these guys are if I drop their names randomly.) We went 2-2 in our last team tournament, and in January we're going to the PTQ for Atlanta at Dream Wizards for some more experience. If you're in the area, I'll see you there.

The second kind of article is more editorial, like a lot of my earlier articles here. I'll talk about rules enforcement, being ´´the jerk´´ or the ´´nice guy´´ (my style of play is very laid back and forgiving, I don't call judges very often, one of my team mates plays by the rules. He's never lost by allowing a ´´do over,´´ I have. Plenty of times. People like us about the same.) I'll talk about the upcoming sets, things I like, things I don't about the state of Magic. I'll even have horror stories from tournament scenes, and stories of daring heroics, both in and out of game.

The third kind of article is what I'm calling ´´Judge Quest: 2005.´´ I've been reading up on becoming a judge. State-based effects, triggered abilities, proper way to cast a spell, floor rules (ugh, that's a big document!) and all the rest. Hopefully, these articles will help you find out what it’s like to become a judge, and whether it’s something you want to pursue. Plus it'll be a good review of rules and reviews.

The fourth is the most common, single player strategies, draft and sealed information. I try to avoid talking about pick orders and ´´Dynamic Pick Orders.´´ I talk more about theory and strategy. I think my articles should be more universally appealing, rather then ´´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.
is 'the nuts.'´´ I shall also try to refrain from using the phrase ´´holding the nuts´´ whenever applicable.

The fifth, and last kind of article, is going to be about actual card design and set design. I've recently been working on designing a set using Magic: Workstation and every other kind of tool available to me. It's a lot harder then it looks, and in a year, I've produced about 400+ cards, and only around 200 of them are of any real merit. I'll talk about story design, and maybe even talk a little about why I think game design is one of the most difficult fields of entertainment. But don't worry, they'll all relate to Magic, such as the costing of different creatures and what that actually means.

But, all that's just preambulatory to what this article is about. This article is about team strategy. Alex, Eric and I have talked a bit about our team strategy- our name comes from it. I hold three basic tenets when designing my Sealed decks, and I try to apply it to my team sealed decks as well. I'll explain each one, and then explain my reasoning behind it.

One: have more then one out. Dampen Thought
Dampen Thought
Dampen ThoughtSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Sub Type:
Arcane
Rarity:
U
Number:
57
Artist:
Arnie Swekel
Text:
Target player puts the top four cards of his or her library into his or her graveyard. Splice onto Arcane 1U (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.)
s, 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.
, Dragons are all great win conditions. However, if all your eggs are in one basket, that's a good way to lose games. This is where our team name came from, we devised that each deck should have a back up victory condition, an Alternate Win Condition. What this means is that your deck can shift rapidly in tempo, threat format, and even colors with a very elegant design. My RW control via pinging and lockdown deck in my last team game took a sudden turn when I played a Forest
Forest
ForestSet: Oversize Cards
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
X
Artist:
Tony Roberts
Text:
T: Add G to your mana pool.
followed up by Honden of Life's Web
Honden of Life's Web
Honden of Life's WebSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
5
Color:
Green
Type:
Legendary Enchantment - Shrine
Rarity:
U
Number:
213
Artist:
Rob Alexander
Text:
At the beginning of your upkeep, put a 1/1 colorless Spirit creature token into play for each Shrine you control.
. All of sudden I wasn't going to win by pinging you with Frostwielder
Frostwielder
FrostwielderSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
4
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Human Shaman
Rarity:
C
Number:
167
Artist:
Christopher Moeller
Power:
1
Toughness:
2
Text:
T: Frostwielder deals 1 damage to target creature or player. If a creature dealt damage by Frostwielder this turn would be put into a graveyard, remove it from the game instead.
s and nominal life gain from the Honden of Cleansing Fire
Honden of Cleansing Fire
Honden of Cleansing FireSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
4
Color:
White
Type:
Legendary Enchantment - Shrine
Rarity:
U
Number:
14
Artist:
Greg Staples
Text:
At the beginning of your upkeep, you gain 2 life for each Shrine you control.
. But rather, overwhelm and swarm. These were all second to my Takeno and Nagao, who were there to beef up my samurai. I could win through beatdown or control, mattering on the situation. I went 3-1 in the games we played. Alex had 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.
as his main win condition, and good old fashioned Moss Kami
Moss Kami
Moss KamiSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
6
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
C
Number:
228
Artist:
Hugh Jamieson
Power:
5
Toughness:
5
Text:
Trample
and Gibbering Kami
Gibbering Kami
Gibbering KamiSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
4
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Spirit
Rarity:
C
Number:
112
Artist:
Jim Pavelec
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Flying Soulshift 3 (When this is put into a graveyard from play, you may return target Spirit card with converted mana cost 3 or less from your graveyard to your hand.)
beatdown as his back up. Eric's goal was to stall out and win through Keiga and blue flyers. His back up? Oni. Would more focused decks have been better? I'm curious what everyone thinks, the fact we went 2-2 in our first event (we dropped early) makes me think no.

Two: the first design of any deck is sketchy, work together to make it better. Competition is unhealthy within a team of players. It doesn't matter if Alex acknowledges Eric as the ´´control guy´´ and thinks he can't contribute much to Eric's U/B or U/W build. Each little tweak makes a deck a bit better. In the team format, maximizing the card pool is important. So never wed yourself to a deck type, and certainly always give advice and constructive criticism. Working together to build the decks is usually the best way to go. We learned this the hard way in our first event, where we each build our own, and then shuffled cards around madly in the last five minutes of deck building. Had we worked together, I'm confident we could have built better decks then what we had. We probably also would have split our strong White, which ended up in my hands because Alex was going G/B and Eric wanted the White control elements. If I'd seen what he was building, as opposed to that last minute swapping, I would have been able to switch him my Honden of Cleansing Fire
Honden of Cleansing Fire
Honden of Cleansing FireSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
4
Color:
White
Type:
Legendary Enchantment - Shrine
Rarity:
U
Number:
14
Artist:
Greg Staples
Text:
At the beginning of your upkeep, you gain 2 life for each Shrine you control.
for a more offensive card (a Blademaster, I think.) This one card change would have given him that extra little bit of control to make his deck better, and would have allowed me to apply earlier threats.

Three: know your team's strengths and weaknesses. I am a versatile player, I can do control or beats. But, I like to win in fantastic ways. I issue self-challenges that get in the way of efficient winning (I'll deal all 45 damage in one attack.) So, I tend to be given the simpler decks that can't pull this off. Also, because I'm the most well-known player of our three at the shop, and I have the best intimidation factor, know the rules best, and can work the best with the least, I should, probably, be given the less powerful decks, and the decks that require more tricks. Alex has an affinity for green and creatures- he works well with them, and he can plot a mana curve like it was his job. We should probably let him glance over our decks to make sure we're not trusting our decks to like us so we can consistently cast our five drops. Eric's the best at assessing threats and appropriate responses. He knows the cards the best, and therefore we like to give him the controlling decks. Because he knows when to use what. Know thyself, and know your team, and you'll be better able to divide up your strong cards and weak cards. Also, you can agree and disagree on what cards are strong and weak before the tournament. But once there, it’s not time to argue for the value of Ragged Veins
Ragged Veins
Ragged VeinsSet: Champions of Kamigawa
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Enchant Creature
Rarity:
C
Number:
139
Artist:
Chippy
Text:
You may play Ragged Veins any time you could play an instant. Whenever enchanted creature is dealt damage, its controller loses that much life.
. Put it in, or don't. But don't waste time arguing over it. If one guy likes a card, let him have the color and try to make it work. It's better for people to have the cards they are comfortable with, then to fight over the good stuff.

Anyway, I hope these three basic tenets can be expanded on, and help you to begin your foray into Team Magic. I'm more then willing to talk to people about any of the things listed above as article topics, and I'm interested to hear what you want to read.


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