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CardShark Content - Stanley Rutkowski III (5/7/2002)

With all of the feedback I have gotten on my testing articles (see the content page for information on testing for Regionals and Testing for Milwaukee), some interesting comments and discussions arose. Most of them pertain to card quality and sideboard options. With that in mind, this article is going to address some of the thought process behind card choices and sideboard choices for certain decks. In addition, this will also touch on many broad scenarios as opposed to specifics for each type of deck. With the feedback I have received, basic (or general) categories of solutions seem to be more relevant than going into specific ones.

At larger tournaments versatility can be as important than the card quality. Sometimes cards are great against a specific threat. Many times that specific threat can be the make or break point of a deck. In smaller venues (Such as Friday Night Magic), specific “hoser” cards can be your best answer to these threat cards. In larger scale tournaments, you have to look at a wider scope when determining your answers. Normally, a tighter metagame is formed in a local area and more specific “answers” means winning more games. In a tourney of 12-35 people, the scope of your sideboard and main deck answers is somewhat defined. When you look at scope of an event such as Regionals where 300+ people are attending, versatility and flexibility can prove to be your best plan of attack.

An example is a green/red sideboard option. In a local tourney, Engulfing flames is a good sideboard choice against both U3BlY3RyYWwgLynx
Lynx
LynxSet: Portal Second Age
Cost:
2
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Cat
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Rebecca Guay
Power:
2
Toughness:
1
Text:
Forestwalk (If defending player has any forests in play, Lynx can't be blocked.)
and Nightscape Familiar
Nightscape Familiar
Nightscape FamiliarSet: Planeshift
Cost:
2
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Zombie
Rarity:
C
Number:
48
Artist:
Jeff Easley
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Blue spells and red spells you play cost 1 less to play. 1B: Regenerate Nightscape Familiar
. In a larger scale tourney such as Regionals, an argument can be made that Scorching Lava
Scorching Lava
Scorching LavaSet: Invasion
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
164
Artist:
Mark Tedin
Text:
Kicker R (You may pay an additional R as you play this spell.)Scorching Lava deals 2 damage to target creature or player. If you paid the kicker cost, that creature can't be regenerated this turn and if it would be put into a graveyard this turn, remove it from the game instead.
is a better choice for the slot. Engulfing Flames
Engulfing Flames
Engulfing FlamesSet: Odyssey
Cost:
1
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
U
Number:
191
Artist:
Marc Fishman
Text:
Engulfing Flames deals 1 damage to target creature. It can't be regenerated this turn. Flashback 3R (You may play this card from your graveyard for its flashback cost. Then remove it from the game.)
has the added bonus of flashback, but does one point of damage make a difference when Scorching Lava
Scorching Lava
Scorching LavaSet: Invasion
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
164
Artist:
Mark Tedin
Text:
Kicker R (You may pay an additional R as you play this spell.)Scorching Lava deals 2 damage to target creature or player. If you paid the kicker cost, that creature can't be regenerated this turn and if it would be put into a graveyard this turn, remove it from the game instead.
deals two points? Both cards (Lava with the kicker) rid your opponent on low toughness regenerators. In the bigger scale, Scorching Lava
Scorching Lava
Scorching LavaSet: Invasion
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
164
Artist:
Mark Tedin
Text:
Kicker R (You may pay an additional R as you play this spell.)Scorching Lava deals 2 damage to target creature or player. If you paid the kicker cost, that creature can't be regenerated this turn and if it would be put into a graveyard this turn, remove it from the game instead.
can also be used against cards such as Braids and other two toughness creatures. It can also be used to deal two points of fatal damage to your opponent. Granted, the mana curve needs to be addressed in either scenario, but on a larger scale, scorching lava tends to be more versatile against the entire field.

Mana curve is also a part of deck construction that is sometimes overlooked. In discussions with some readers, there has been some deliberation on how to make certain decks perform better against the field. For example, how to I make my deck better against an aggressive “Frog” deck while not hurting myself against Tog? When developing your deck, make sure that you have enough lands and colors so your deck consistently draws the correct ratio of the lands. Also be aware that your mana curve provides you early, mid-game, and late threats. A typical short-coming of decks is that you play too many “game breaking” spells but have no initial “setup” for them. Normally, game breaking spells have a significant cost to them. Make sure that you survive the early game to be able to use the late game direction of your deck.

Another key to success with a deck is to know your deck. This may seem obvious, but are you aware of how you are going to deal with specific card interactions. If your opponent plays a spectral lynx and has no black mana available, do you need to burn the creature to rid them of it (basically being defensive or reactive) or do you use that damage against the player (being proactive because in a matter of a few or multiple turns your plan of attack is not hindered by the lynx being in play). Is the lynx an issue that you use your burn spell to rid them of it, or is the burn spell better used in a future situation? Play testing your deck one of the essential steps leading to more victories. The more you understand your matchups, the better your decisions will be when it is time to make them.

Synergy is another topic that seems to pop up in discussions on decks. Why is psychatog so good? It is because all of the cards in the deck point to one common goal: survive long enough to clear the path for a fatal blow by the tog. All of the card draw, search, etc. help with adding cards to both your hand and graveyard to make the fatal blow. All of the card drawing improvings the quantity and quality of the cards in you hand. A poor example of synergy is having a complement of mana producers (Llanawar elves, Birds of Paradise
Birds of Paradise
Birds of ParadiseSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
1
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Mana Birds
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Mark Poole
Power:
0
Toughness:
1
Text:
Flying T: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool. This ability is played as an interrupt.
) to use their acceleration for Pernicious deed to clear your path to victory. The acceleration provides quick threats, but if your defense is based on using deed, then you are also taking out your own resources as well, and in the end it may be more harmful than beneficial to have all of these cards in your deck. PT Junk in extended used the deed to clear the bard, but also used creature like U3BlY3RyYWwgLynx
Lynx
LynxSet: Portal Second Age
Cost:
2
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Cat
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Rebecca Guay
Power:
2
Toughness:
1
Text:
Forestwalk (If defending player has any forests in play, Lynx can't be blocked.)
, River Boa
River Boa
River BoaSet: Classic Sixth Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Snake
Rarity:
U
Number:
249
Artist:
Steve White
Power:
2
Toughness:
1
Text:
Islandwalk (This creature is unblockable if defending player controls an island.) G: Regenerate River Boa.
and 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.
that could all regenerate with the deed. Thus the synergy of your threats with the board clearer of Deed has great synergy. Make sure that you are not your own worst enemy by having conflicting interests in your deck.

Hopefully this helps in your adventures. As always, questions and comments are appreciated.

Thanks for reading,


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