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Don’t Forget to Enjoy Yourself - William Ritter (9/27/2011)

I am very new to Magic but have quickly become obsessed with it. Friends convinced me to try out the game about 2 months ago and I’ve been loving it ever since. What was once two people that used to play Magic in high school is now eight twenty and thirty-something friends all spending money they don’t have on Magic to compete with each other. We all play with M12 since it was, and still is at the time of this writing, the newest set. I have several years of expansions and rulings to learn about, but this article details the most valuable lesson to my Magic enjoyment I’ve learned so far.

My dilemma involved the relationship between winning and having fun. I’m sure to many people they are one in the same. For me, my enjoyment of the game is half and half. For example, the first deck I ever assembled and won with was mono-red. I won here and there, but even winning quickly became unfun. As with most mono-red decks, my deck was built around getting mana and doing direct damage, and a lot of it (so original for red!). There were a few creatures (some dragons and goblins), but mostly there were instants and sorceries. And it was boring. So I didn’t win a lot, and I didn’t really enjoy playing (not that I’m knocking red at all!).

I watched other decks pull out monsters and demons and angels and golems and all kinds of interesting beasties. Whenever I would put more creatures in my red deck and take out some sorceries (to keep it at the 60 card minimum), it wouldn’t play as well. I’d be without mana and the game would last longer, making my loss inevitable. Or I would add a few cards of black or green and I just couldn’t win. Friends told me to leave the red deck alone because it worked!

Even in the red deck, if I put everything into it I liked to make it more fun (Furyborn Hellkite
Furyborn Hellkite
Furyborn HellkiteSet: Magic 2012
Cost:
7
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Dragon
Rarity:
M
Number:
135
Artist:
Brad Rigney
Power:
6
Toughness:
6
Text:
Bloodthirst 6 (If an opponent was dealt damage this turn, this creature enters the battlefield with six +1/+1 counters on it.) Flying
s and Flameblast Dragon
Flameblast Dragon
Flameblast DragonSet: Shards Of Alara
Cost:
6
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Dragon
Rarity:
R
Number:
100
Artist:
Jaime Jones
Power:
5
Toughness:
5
Text:
Flying Whenever Flameblast Dragon attacks, you may pay XR. If you do, Flameblast Dragon deals X damage to target creature or player.
s and Chandra’s Phoenix, for example), it would’ve been 80+ cards and would definitely not have worked as well, not that I had 4 Furyborn Hellkite
Furyborn Hellkite
Furyborn HellkiteSet: Magic 2012
Cost:
7
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Dragon
Rarity:
M
Number:
135
Artist:
Brad Rigney
Power:
6
Toughness:
6
Text:
Bloodthirst 6 (If an opponent was dealt damage this turn, this creature enters the battlefield with six +1/+1 counters on it.) Flying
s waiting around to put into a deck. I felt restricted by the rules of what I was told makes a good deck. My friends and I are no experts, but we like to kid ourselves that we could compete in tournaments and win. So, we follow the rules and try to build decks like the tournament pros that win a lot with as few cards as possible.

One of my friends that we’ll call Jace will, 90% of the time, uses a mono-blue deck. The deck has only M12 illusion creatures, Lord of the Unreal
Lord of the Unreal
Lord of the UnrealSet: Magic 2012
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Human Wizard
Rarity:
R
Number:
62
Artist:
Jason Chan
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Illusion creatures you control get +1/+1 and have hexproof. (They can't be the targets of spells or abilities your opponents control.)
, and M12 Jace in it as far as attackers/creatures; everything else is Redirect
Redirect
RedirectSet: Magic 2011
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
71
Artist:
Izzy
Text:
You may choose new targets for target spell.
, Cancel
Cancel
CancelSet: Time Spiral
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
51
Artist:
Mark Poole
Text:
Counter target spell.
, Ponder
Ponder
PonderSet: Lorwyn
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
C
Number:
79
Artist:
Mark Tedin
Text:
Look at the top three cards of your library, then put them back in any order. You may shuffle your library. Draw a card.
, etc. And it functions – he will copy with Phantasmal Image
Phantasmal Image
Phantasmal ImageSet: Magic 2012
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Illusion
Rarity:
R
Number:
72
Artist:
Nils Hamm
Power:
0
Toughness:
0
Text:
You may have Phantasmal Image enter the battlefield as a copy of any creature on the battlefield, except it's an Illusion in addition to its other types and it gains "When this creature becomes the target of a spell or ability, sacrifice it."
his Lord of the Unreal
Lord of the Unreal
Lord of the UnrealSet: Magic 2012
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Human Wizard
Rarity:
R
Number:
62
Artist:
Jason Chan
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Illusion creatures you control get +1/+1 and have hexproof. (They can't be the targets of spells or abilities your opponents control.)
and keep copying it and hexproofing everything. If you don’t immediately start killing things, in a few turns Jace will have 3 hexproofed Lord of Illusion copies and several hexproofed and 3 or 4-times-buffed illusion creatures. And while it works well and can be frustrating to play against, it is incredibly BORING. Playing against Jace’s monoblue deck became not only boring, but incredibly predictable. Everyone playing him knows exactly what he’s going to play almost every turn. We used to make jokes whenever it was our turn about having to ask him permission to play anything because of his Cancel
Cancel
CancelSet: Time Spiral
Cost:
3
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
51
Artist:
Mark Poole
Text:
Counter target spell.
s and Negate
Negate
NegateSet: Morningtide
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
43
Artist:
Jeremy Jarvis
Text:
Counter target noncreature spell.
s, or we’d bet on what creature spell he was about to play. Surprise! There’s a Phantasmal Image
Phantasmal Image
Phantasmal ImageSet: Magic 2012
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Illusion
Rarity:
R
Number:
72
Artist:
Nils Hamm
Power:
0
Toughness:
0
Text:
You may have Phantasmal Image enter the battlefield as a copy of any creature on the battlefield, except it's an Illusion in addition to its other types and it gains "When this creature becomes the target of a spell or ability, sacrifice it."
! Surprise! He’s countering my spell! Not so much.

Another friend, we’ll call him Gideon, plays a lot of white, and has 4 of everything in his main white deck. It’s 60 cards, of course. So imagine every good white card in M12, and put 4 of them into a deck and you’d have his. It is:


White (60)
4: Sun Titan
Sun Titan
Sun TitanSet: Magic 2011
Cost:
6
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Giant
Rarity:
M
Number:
35
Artist:
Todd Lockwood
Power:
6
Toughness:
6
Text:
Vigilance Whenever Sun Titan enters the battlefield or attacks, you may return target permanent card with converted mana cost 3 or less from your graveyard to the battlefield.

4: Gideon Jura
Gideon Jura
Gideon JuraSet: Rise of the Eldrazi
Cost:
5
Color:
White
Type:
Planeswalker
Sub Type:
Gideon
Rarity:
M
Number:
21
Artist:
Aleksi Briclot
Text:
+2: During target opponent's next turn, creatures that player controls attack Gideon Jura if able. -2: Destroy target tapped creature. 0: Until end of turn, Gideon Jura becomes a 6/6 Human Soldier creature that's still a planeswalker. Prevent all damage that would be dealt to him this turn.

4: Gideon’s Lawkeeper
4: Gideon’s Avenger
4: Grand Abolisher
Grand Abolisher
Grand AbolisherSet: Magic 2012
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Human Cleric
Rarity:
R
Number:
19
Artist:
Eric Deschamps
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
During your turn, your opponents can't cast spells or activate abilities of artifacts, creatures, or enchantments.

4: Day of Judgment
Day of Judgment
Day of JudgmentSet: Zendikar
Cost:
4
Color:
White
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
9
Artist:
Vincent Proce
Text:
Destroy all creatures.

4: Demystify
Demystify
DemystifySet: Onslaught
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Number:
24
Artist:
Christopher Rush
Text:
Destroy target enchantment.

4: Lifelink
Lifelink
LifelinkSet: Magic 2010
Color:
White
Type:
Enchantment
Sub Type:
Aura
Rarity:
C
Number:
18
Artist:
Terese Nielsen
Text:
Enchant creatureEnchanted creature has lifelink. (Damage dealt by the creature also causes its controller to gain that much life.)

4: Pacifism
Pacifism
PacifismSet: Classic Sixth Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Enchant Creature
Rarity:
C
Number:
33
Artist:
Robert Bliss
Text:
Enchanted creature can't attack or block.

4: Oblivion Ring
Oblivion Ring
Oblivion RingSet: Lorwyn
Cost:
3
Color:
White
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
C
Number:
34
Artist:
Wayne England
Text:
When Oblivion Ring comes into play, remove another target nonland permanent from the game. When Oblivion Ring leaves play, return the removed card to play under its owner's control.

4: Angelic Destiny
Angelic Destiny
Angelic DestinySet: Magic 2012
Cost:
4
Color:
White
Type:
Enchantment
Sub Type:
Aura
Rarity:
M
Number:
3
Artist:
Jana Schirmer & Johannes Voss
Text:
Enchant creature Enchanted creature gets +4/+4, has flying and first strike, and is an Angel in addition to its other types. When enchanted creature dies, return Angelic Destiny to its owner's hand.


16: Plains
Plains
PlainsSet: Oversize Cards
Color:
Land
Type:
Land
Rarity:
X
Artist:
Tony Roberts
Text:
T: Add W to your mana pool.



Nice, right? And it works too. At least, it works against other M12 decks made similarly. Now this deck may not be typical, I know, but his deck and Jace’s mono-blue deck illustrate a point. The overarching, underlying grand design that my friends work for is a deck that wins, period. What creature will Gideon play with his white deck? Well there are 5 possibilities, and he probably has 1 or 2 of those creatures in his hand at all times. As soon as he gets 5 mana, he’ll play Gideon. As soon as he has 6 mana, he’ll play a Sun Titan
Sun Titan
Sun TitanSet: Magic 2011
Cost:
6
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Giant
Rarity:
M
Number:
35
Artist:
Todd Lockwood
Power:
6
Toughness:
6
Text:
Vigilance Whenever Sun Titan enters the battlefield or attacks, you may return target permanent card with converted mana cost 3 or less from your graveyard to the battlefield.
probably. It works, it wins, and it’s boring. Why do all my friends have 6 or more decks built (Gideon has over 10)? Maybe because different decks are effective in different situations, sure, or maybe because playing with any one deck too long would make them drill holes into their heads. They switch between the decks. Even if one deck would probably be better against a particular opponent, I’ve seen them use a not-so-great deck just because they’re sick of playing with their better one.

So, seeing this trend, and not being able to afford Garruk, Primal Hunter
Garruk, Primal Hunter
Garruk, Primal HunterSet: Magic 2012
Cost:
5
Color:
Green
Type:
Planeswalker
Sub Type:
Garruk
Rarity:
M
Number:
174
Artist:
D. Alexander Gregory
Text:
+1: Put a 3/3 green Beast creature token onto the battlefield. -3: Draw cards equal to the greatest power among creatures you control. -6: Put a 6/6 green Wurm creature token onto the battlefield for each land you control.
s and Grave Titan
Grave Titan
Grave TitanSet: Magic 2011
Cost:
6
Color:
Black
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Giant
Rarity:
M
Number:
97
Artist:
Nils Hamm
Power:
6
Toughness:
6
Text:
Deathtouch Whenever Grave Titan enters the battlefield or attacks, put two 2/2 black Zombie creature tokens onto the battlefield.
s, I built my second deck with one purpose – to be awesomely fun. It is 112 cards and counting (I videoed myself shuffling the deck once to appease my rule-savvy friend Gideon). It has Emrakul the Aeons Torn, Progenitus
Progenitus
ProgenitusSet: Conflux
Cost:
10
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Legendary Creature
Sub Type:
Hydra Avatar
Rarity:
M
Number:
121
Power:
10
Toughness:
10
Text:
Protection from everything If Progenitus would be put into a graveyard from anywhere, reveal Progenitus and shuffle it into its owner's library instead.
, Iona Shield of Emeria, Yosei the Morning Star, and Thrun the Last Troll in it. It has hydras and angels and Godsire
Godsire
GodsireSet: Shards Of Alara
Cost:
8
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Beast
Rarity:
M
Number:
170
Artist:
Jim Murray
Power:
8
Toughness:
8
Text:
Vigilance T Put an 8/8 Beast creature token into play that's red, green, and white.
s out the buttock. I’ve got enough Baneslayer Angel
Baneslayer Angel
Baneslayer AngelSet: Magic 2010
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Angel
Rarity:
M
Number:
4
Artist:
Greg Staples
Power:
5
Toughness:
5
Text:
Flying, first strike, lifelink, protection from Demons and from Dragons
s and Gaea’s Revenges in there to take on an army of Phyrexians. And it rocks! It’s stuffed full of mana and cards that let me search for mana, and I threw in 4 Quicksilver Amulet
Quicksilver Amulet
Quicksilver AmuletSet: Urza's Legacy
Cost:
4
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Number:
130
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Text:
4, T: Choose a creature card in your hand and put that creature into play.
s and Dramatic Entrance
Dramatic Entrance
Dramatic EntranceSet: Shadowmoor
Cost:
5
Color:
Green
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
111
Artist:
Mike Dringenberg
Text:
You may put a green creature card from your hand into play.
s to help with those big nasty creatures. But the reactions on people’s faces when I pull out Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
Ulamog, the Infinite GyreSet: Rise of the Eldrazi
Cost:
11
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Legendary Creature
Sub Type:
Eldrazi
Rarity:
M
Number:
12
Artist:
Aleksi Briclot
Power:
10
Toughness:
10
Text:
When you cast Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre, destroy target permanent. Annihilator 4 (Whenever this creature attacks, defending player sacrifices four permanents.) Ulamog is indestructible. When Ulamog is put into a graveyard from anywhere, its owner shuffles his or her graveyard into his or her library.
, even if he is removed or paralyzed the next turn, is priceless. The joy of drawing a card at the beginning of my upkeep and seeing Akroma, Angel of Wrath
Akroma, Angel of Wrath
Akroma, Angel of WrathSet: Legions
Cost:
8
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Angel Legend
Rarity:
R
Number:
1
Artist:
Ron Spears
Power:
6
Toughness:
6
Text:
Flying, first strike, trample, haste, protection from black, protection from red
Attacking doesn’t cause Akroma, Angel of Wrath to tap.
charging towards me is priceless. I have probably heard more “What the heck is that!?”s in the last month than in the rest of my life combined. I don’t always win, sure, but I do most of the time and I have fun every time. Winning doesn’t have to be your only goal.

It’s Green/White, if you were wondering. In the 13 games I’ve played with it, I’ve only mulliganed once because of lack of mana in my hand. Every game is different - completely different. Sometimes I draw wurms and Godsire
Godsire
GodsireSet: Shards Of Alara
Cost:
8
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Beast
Rarity:
M
Number:
170
Artist:
Jim Murray
Power:
8
Toughness:
8
Text:
Vigilance T Put an 8/8 Beast creature token into play that's red, green, and white.
s and trample my foe, sometimes I draw angels and Pacifism
Pacifism
PacifismSet: Classic Sixth Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
White
Type:
Enchant Creature
Rarity:
C
Number:
33
Artist:
Robert Bliss
Text:
Enchanted creature can't attack or block.
s and paralyze him. Sometimes, sometimes…I draw on my opening hand a Quicksilver Amulet
Quicksilver Amulet
Quicksilver AmuletSet: Urza's Legacy
Cost:
4
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
R
Number:
130
Artist:
Douglas Shuler
Text:
4, T: Choose a creature card in your hand and put that creature into play.
, a crap-ton of mana, and Progenitus
Progenitus
ProgenitusSet: Conflux
Cost:
10
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Legendary Creature
Sub Type:
Hydra Avatar
Rarity:
M
Number:
121
Power:
10
Toughness:
10
Text:
Protection from everything If Progenitus would be put into a graveyard from anywhere, reveal Progenitus and shuffle it into its owner's library instead.
and on turn 4 have him out raping and pillaging the countryside. The point is I love the deck. It is immensely enjoyable to play with and viciously satisfying to win with.

If you are new to Magic, certainly learn the basics; start with a mono deck as I’m sure you’ve been advised to do, but then go crazy. An advantage to just now getting into Magic: The Gathering is that it’s been around for a millennium and by now you can make a deck do just about anything. I guarantee there is a card out there from some expansion that will make work whatever you want to work. Want to build a deck around making your opponent’s creatures into chickens? There’s a card that does that, and a way to make it effective I’m sure. Want to make a deck that allows you to pull cards from your opponent’s library or graveyard to play for yourself? No problem!

How about building a deck that’s only goal is to give you as much life as possible? Shoot for a goal, say 40 life, then check out the creature card Felidar Sovereign
Felidar Sovereign
Felidar SovereignSet: Zendikar
Cost:
6
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Cat Beast
Rarity:
M
Number:
12
Artist:
Zoltan Boros & Gabor Szikszai
Power:
4
Toughness:
6
Text:
Vigilance, lifelink At the beginning of your upkeep, if you have 40 or more life, you win the game.
. Do you hate people who use decks that build their life up to 40 or more? Check out the Planeswalker Sorin Markov
Sorin Markov
Sorin MarkovSet: Zendikar
Cost:
6
Color:
Black
Type:
Planeswalker
Sub Type:
Sorin
Rarity:
M
Number:
111
Artist:
Michael Komarck
Text:
+2: Sorin Markov deals 2 damage to target creature or player and you gain 2 life. -3: Target opponent's life total becomes 10. -7: You control target player's next turn.
(the cheapest M12 Planeswalker, financially speaking), specifically his -3 loyalty counters ability, which is “Target opponent’s life total becomes 10.” Are you wanting to build a life-gain deck but are afraid of Sorin Markov
Sorin Markov
Sorin MarkovSet: Zendikar
Cost:
6
Color:
Black
Type:
Planeswalker
Sub Type:
Sorin
Rarity:
M
Number:
111
Artist:
Michael Komarck
Text:
+2: Sorin Markov deals 2 damage to target creature or player and you gain 2 life. -3: Target opponent's life total becomes 10. -7: You control target player's next turn.
’s -3 ability? Check out the Eternity Vessel
Eternity Vessel
Eternity VesselSet: Zendikar
Cost:
6
Color:
Colorless
Type:
Artifact
Rarity:
M
Number:
200
Artist:
John Avon
Text:
Eternity Vessel enters the battlefield with X charge counters on it, where X is your life total. Landfall — Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may have your life total become the number of charge counters on Eternity Vessel.
artifact and put some Oblivion Ring
Oblivion Ring
Oblivion RingSet: Lorwyn
Cost:
3
Color:
White
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
C
Number:
34
Artist:
Wayne England
Text:
When Oblivion Ring comes into play, remove another target nonland permanent from the game. When Oblivion Ring leaves play, return the removed card to play under its owner's control.
s in your deck! You can literally do anything because there is a card for everything, and a card to counter that card.

Win, but don’t forget to have fun. To me at least, winning is almost useless if I didn’t enjoy the fight.


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