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By: spg, Steve Gargolinski
Nov 05 2009 1:26pm
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 Explorations #48 - The Casual Debate, World Queller, and More

Today's article is going to have three different sections.  I'm going to start off with my views on the 'what is casual' debate (sparked by discussions in the comments of my last article), then give some of my updated impressions on Zendikar, and then finish up with some info on a deck that I built around World Queller.

So What Is Casual?

Last week I made a deck based on Magosi, the Waterveil, a cool new rare from Zendikar.  This deck used Magosi alongside cards like Rings of Brighthearth and Deserted Temple in order to create infinite turns. Here's a decklist for reference:


Some people seemed to like this deck a lot, and others did not like it at all.  The main problem seemed to revolve around whether or not this deck is "casual".  This casual debate has raged on Magic Online since the beginning:  what's casual, what isn't casual?  Which decks should be played in the casual room, and which decks should be restricted to the tournament practice room?  I'm going to give my thoughts on this briefly.

Some people think that certain strategies should not be played in the casual room.  Land destruction?  Get out!  Counterspells?  Please!  Combo decks?  No way!  Infinite turns?  What fun is that?!  Discard?  I want my cards!  Tribal?  Go back to Lorwyn!  Planeswalkers?  We play by 2006 rules!

Others think that expensive cards should not be played in the casual room.  Underground Sea?  We roll with Underground River and Salt Marsh!  Baneslayer Angel?  What's wrong with Serra Angel?!  Fetchlands?  Go reallocate your 401k instead!  Force of Will?  Disconnect!

If you ask me, here's what I think people should play in the casual room:

WHATEVER THEY WANT

Personally I think it's crazy to put any sort of restriction at all on what people are allowed to play in the casual room.  Magic is a game that needs to cater to a whole ton of different types of players, and not just broad demographics like Timmy/Johnny/Spike.  If someone loves playing wacky combo decks, then who I am to say that they shouldn't?  If they want to run Tropical Island instead of Yavimaya Coast, then why shouldn't they run their sweet dual land?  It seems totally fundamentally flawed to me that people would be scared or nervous to play cards from their collection just because they might not fit within their opponent's definition of casual.

Here's the thing at the center of it all: players are never going to agree on the definition of casual.  It's just not going to happen, and it's not worth arguing about.  The solution to this problem is definitely NOT in trying to get everyone on the same page when it comes to the word casual.  Alright, so if solving this problem through the definition of casual is out - then what is the solution?

The solution to this problem is more aggressive use of the game description as you create a table in the casual room.  If you don't like the expensive cards, then make a note that players shouldn't join if they're packing Lotus Cobra.  Let people know what kind of game you're looking for before getting started.  If you're playing a janky deck and don't want to run up against anything tough, then ask people to bring their B decks.  Messing around with a deck and it seems to be pretty strong?  Ask people to bring something on the powerful side.  Does your definition of casual not include the words 'counter' or 'discard'?  Make a quick note.

One bittersweet aspect of the casual room is that losses have no real effect on anything, so players can concede at any time with no real negative impact.  On the positive side, if you clearly advertise for a specific 'flavor' of game and your opponent shows up with something else - then you can just concede and move on with your life.

The major downside of the 'no-penalty concession' aspect of the casual room is that players can concede abuse this.  I've seen players who concede whenever things aren't going their way, concede if someone plays a card they don't like, mulligan super-aggressively and concede if they don't get the perfect hand, and concede if their opponent isn't playing by their definition of casual.  A more heavy use of game descriptions will definitely not solve this problem completely , but it will definitely help.  It certainly can't hurt.

99.9% of the games I see in the casual rooms have no custom description attached whatsoever.  Let's say you're a player who has a strong definition of what casual means to you.  How the HELL do you expect to find an opponent that fits your definition of casual by just creating a game with no information or description?  I'm firmly convinced that increased utilization of game description is the key to solving this casual issue once and for all.

There are two major bummers here.  The first issue is that players do not currently use the game descriptions, and this solution only works if players use it.  The second issue is that Wizards does not exactly streamline or encourage use of game descriptions.  In the default view, you get  a tiny little spreadsheet cell to use.  Unless this becomes a true first-class feature of the casual room, chances are that players will not use it.

As for me, when I'm in the casual room waiting for a game...  I say bring any deck you want to battle.  I love playing against strong decks, weak decks, fast decks, slow decks, combo decks, aggro deck, whatever.  Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose - but if you have the correct mindset then you should always be able to have fun, and always be able to learn something.

There's one major misconception that I want to cover - the idea that strong decks should move from the casual room to the tournament practice room.  I use to take strong-ish casual decks into the tournament practice room, and it did not go well.  The main problem is that people are in the tournament practice room to prepare for tournaments, to go up against decks that are in or of the current competitive metagame.  They do NOT want to play against some four card Magosi combo deck just because I happened to win a few games in the casual room.  In addition to this, I'm not preparing for a tournament.  I don't even have a sideboard!  I'm not saying that there's no potential for a strong casual list to make the jump to tournament-worthy rogue deck - but these are the super-rare exception instead of the rule, and require a ridiculous amount of tuning and work.

So that's pretty much everything I have to say on this subject, my views on the casual room are pretty simple:  stop worrying about the definition of casual, play whatever cards you want, and use game descriptions to advertise if you're not ok with other people playing whatever card they want.  My whole goal of the Explorations series is to write about decks and ideas that will hopefully be interesting to my readers.  I don't think it's particularly valuable to worry a whole lot about whether or not certain decks or ideas are casual. If a deck, idea, or topic is interesting - then who really cares if fits a specific definition of casual or not?

Before I move on I want to take a second to highlight a comment that Windcoarse left on my article last week.  Honestly I was pretty much blown away by this one.  It's very rare to read something on the internet that's so well written, especially in a forum-style post.  I think he probably did a much better job of expressive my opinion on the subject of casual than I just did.

I'd encourage everyone to check out his piece, you can read it here:

http://puremtgo.com/articles/explorations-47-greatest-quest#comment-15785

And finally, I'd love to hear what everyone else thinks about this debate.  Feel free to leave your comments in below!

Zendikar Impresions

So Zendikar.  What do you guys think of this set now that it's been out for a while?

This week I wanted to make a Standard deck based on a card from Zendikar, since the combo deck that I made last week could only run in Extended or Classic.  So I fired up Gatherer and started browsing through everything in Zendikar.  This was a little uninspiring to be honest, less jumped out to me in a crazy way than I thought would.  This was a little disturbing to me, since Zendikar is the "land matters" set - and lands are my absolute favorite Magic cards!

I was thinking about how this could be the case when I found a forum post on the mothership that summed up my thoughts perfectly.  I guess this is the week when forum posts sum up my ideas:

"...  Also, I really feel like the end product DOESN'T make me care all that much about lands. The lands themselves are not as impressive or interesting as Ravnica's lands were. Rather than being the land set, it is the "lands come into play" set, which is, beyond being narrow, a bit lame..."

I think this little conversation snippet really sums up my issues with Zendikar.  There just aren't many cool lands, instead it's all about landfall.  Let's take a look at the complete list of lands we got in Zendikar.

We got awesome full-art basic lands.  These are fantastic, although when it comes down to it we're not talking about any interesting functionality - just badass art and style.

Magosi, the Waterveil Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle Emeria, the Sky Ruin

Oran-Rief, the Vastwood Crypt of Agadeem

This cycle is great, I give it an A+.  From my point of view, these five cards are the highlight of Zendikar.  This cycle really captures what I would personally want Zendikar to be all about - awesome lands!  Four of these even push mono-color design a bit, which is something we haven't really had in Standard for a while.

Akoum Refuge Graypelt Refuge Jwar Isle Refuge 
Kazandu Refuge Sejiri Refuge 

ANOTHER cycle of lands that come into play tapped and produce two different colors of mana.  I guess these are ok, but we've gone through so many different versions of these through the history of Magic.

Arid Mesa Marsh Flats Misty Rainforest 
Scalding Tarn Verdant Catacombs 

The enemy fetchland cycle completes the full set of the best mana-fixers of all time.  These cards are awesome for sure, but feel very "been there, done that".  Of course it feel like this because we HAVE been there and done that.  I'm glad we finally have the enemy fetchlands available, but it really feels like we should have just had these all along (in Scourge maybe?  Or Legions, if they didn't have that 'all creature' thing).

Kabira Crossroads Piranha Marsh  Soaring Seacliff 
Teetering Peaks Turntimber Grove 

This cycle is completely underwhelming to me.  I love the idea of 'spell lands' - but these effects are just so generic.  It's almost as if Magic R&D was having a contest to see who could come up with the lamest effect to use for each card of this cycle.  Seriously.  Flying?  +2/+0?  +1/+1?  Lose a life?  Gain a life?  Could they possibly have some up with anything less inspired?

So that's it for lands in Zendikar.  For a set that's supposed to be all about lands, where are the manlands?  Where are the Mazes of Ith, Dark Depths, or Safe Haven style lands?  Why isn't Dryad Arbor in Zendikar?  Wouldn't this have been an awesome time for some really powerful land enchantments/auras?  Shouldn't there be more creatures that 'power up' or get bonuses depending on the lands in play?  Couldn't ANYONE at Wizards come up with a more interesting drawback than "come into play tapped"?

Some lands that matter.

There's one more set where "land matters" coming in Zendikar block, so I guess we'll have to see what the future brings.  It just seems like for a big first set of the 'land matters' block, land doesn't really matter very much.  Kind of a bummer, especially for a land junkie like me.

Enter World Queller

Even though the lands of Zendikar are a bit uninspired, I still wanted to find something to build a Standard deck around.  One card that does seem like an awful lot of fun in Zendikar is this guy:

World Queller

World Queller is my kind of card.  It has a unique effect, provides a 4/4 body, and currently sells for $0.15!  It reminds me very much of an old favorite of mine:

Smokestack

In the olden days, I used to love to play a mono-white Legacy prison deck based around Smokestack, Crucible of Worlds, Armageddon, and Ancient Tomb/City of Traitors.  Here's what an updated version would look like:

Armageddon Stax
Legacy Legal
Creatures
0 cards

Other Spells
2 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
3 Moat
2 Humility
4 Oblivion Ring
4 Chalice of the Void
3 Trinisphere
4 Smokestack
4 Mox Diamond
4 Crucible of Worlds
4 Armageddon
2 Ravages of War
36 cards
Lands
3 Flagstones of Trokair
4 Ancient Tomb
3 Wasteland
3 Mishra's Factory
7 Plains
4 City of Traitors
24 cards
 
Armageddon


The basic idea is to control the mana, use Smokestack to control the board, and then finish off over the long games with Elspeth tokens.  Exalted Angel and Magus of the Tabernacle are other potential win conditions.  Smokestack doesn't currently exist on Magic Online, so this deck can't really be played in Classic.  Braids, Cabal Minion and now World Queller are potential alternatives for the unique effect that Smokestack provides.

What makes Smokestack so powerful?  Stacking the upkeep effects of Smokestack correctly allows you to stay one permanent ahead of your opponent.  Stack it so that you sacrifice BEFORE adding the soot counter and you'll clean our your opponent's quickly.  Exploiting Smokestack in this way allows you some serious control over the board state.  This exact play isn't possible with World Queller, but there is another way to break the symmetry.  Since you get to choose which type of card will be sacrificed, go ahead and pick something that your opponent has and you don't have.  This play puts you one card ahead on the board.  Not bad, huh?

The other differentiating aspect of World Queller is that it also brings a 4/4 body for your five mana.  While this isn't fantastic, it's not terrible either - and opens up the use of World Queller to decks that range all the way from aggressive to control.  Today I want to try out World Queller in an aggressive or midrange strategy for Standard.

Boros Bushwacker Overview

Let's take a quick look at one of the surprisingly powerful decks in new Standard.  Boros Bushwacker may a terrible name, but it's a brutal RW landfall aggro strategy.  Here's a sample list:

Boros Bushwacker
Standard Legal
Creatures
4 Elite Vanguard
3 Ranger of Eos
4 Steppe Lynx
4 Goblin Guide
4 Plated Geopede
4 Kor Skyfisher
2 Goblin Bushwhacker
25 cards

Other Spells
4 Path to Exile
4 Burst Lightning
4 Lightning Bolt
12 cards
Lands
3 Mountain
4 Plains
4 Arid Mesa
4 Marsh Flats
4 Scalding Tarn
4 Teetering Peaks
23 cards
 
Lightning Bolt


This may remind you of some Zoo decks of old, combining cheap and powerful creatures with burn as reach to finish off your opponent.

Kird Ape Savannah Lions Lightning Helix
Old Zoo vs New Zoo
Steppe Lynx Goblin Guide Ranger of Eos

Boros Bushwacker relies heavily on playsets of Steppe Lynx and Plated Geopede, which are powered up by twelve total fetchlands.  Ranger of Eos searches up more threats, Path to Exile clears the way, and Lightning Bolt/Burst Lightning finish off your opponent.  This deck is lean and mean, bringing the aggression fast.  If the opponent stumbles at all in their development, then Boros Bushwalker will take them out.

So... World Queller?

So what does this list have to do with World Queller?  If you'll notice in the decklist above, there aren't any permanents other than lands and creatures.  If our opponent plays out any sort of planeswalker, enchantment or artifact, then we can take it out without sacrificing any permanents ourselves.  My basic plan is to bring the 'only creatures and instants/sorceries' theory to a ramp/midrange Naya deck built around World Queller.  I'm going to run some mana acceleration, some strong creatures, and World Queller for a bit of board control.  

Here's the theory.  In a deck like this, World Queller is able to take out anything other than a creature without forcing me to sacrifice my cards.  If I pair this ability with high quality creatures, then I should be able to win on that front as well.  Let's see if we can make that happen.

I also want to make a deck that's pretty light on the budget this week, and adapting the Boros Bushwacker strategy is hard on a budget.  It runs twelve fetchlands, which are key to the double-landfall attack, and you can only get so far on a playset of Terramorphic Expanse and some Panoramas.

Here's what I'm going to try out for my first list:

Budget Naya World Queller Ramp
Standard Legal
Creatures
4 Woolly Thoctar
4 Meglonoth
4 Ant Queen
2 Feral Hydra
2 Mycoid Shepherd
4 World Queller
20 cards

Other Spells
2 Fireball
4 Naya Charm
2 Soul's Majesty
4 Rampant Growth
4 Harrow
16 cards
Lands
4 Jungle Shrine
3 Rupture Spire
9 Forest
3 Mountain
5 Plains
24 cards
 
Harrow


This list runs eight mana accelerators (4 Harrow and 4 Rampant Growth) alongside 20 powerful creatures.  This list was chosen as a balance of strength and budget, and as a result the deck packs a wide variety of threats.  Meglonoth is a personal favorite, a roadblock that's nearly impossible to break though.  Ant Queen creates a swarm of monsters, Woolly Thoctar beats early and hard, and Mycoid Shepherd triggers lifegain from every creature in the deck.  Naya Charm gives the deck a bit of versatility.  Fireball can take down creatures early or go straight to the face in the late game.  World Queller does everything that we discussed earlier.

Here's the basic gameplan to utilize with this deck:

  1. Use Harrow and Rampant Growth to hit 5 or 6 mana.
  2. Start deploying threats, one big dude per turn.
  3. Use World Queller to take out any problematic cards along the way.

Seems like a lot of fun, huh?  Before we hit up some test games, let's go through the cost of this deck quickly.

4 World Queller = $0.60
4 Woolly Thoctar = $1.00
4 Meglonoth = $0.48
4 Ant Queen = $0.40
2 Feral Hydra = $0.20
2 Fireball = $0.16
2 Mycoid Shepherd = $2.00
4 Naya Charm = $0.80
2 (Souls' Majesty) = $0.20
4 Rampant Growth = $0.08
4 Harrow = $0.80
4 Jungle Shrine = $1.40
3 Rupture Spire = $0.24

This deck runs a lot of rares, but they're all cheap.  The full budget of this list comes out to just a little over $8, which seems pretty low to me for a budget deck.  If you want to cut it down another $2, then the Mycoid Shepherds are easily replaceable with whatever big creature you'd prefer.  I wanted to leave the Shepherd in, since I've been looking for a deck to play that guy in for a long time.

Let's test this out!

Game 1 vs Ranger of Eos/Hedron Crab Mill

My opponent plays out Seaside Citadel and then Hedron Crab.  I play out Rampant Growth and then Harrow, my opponent starts using the Crab and Terramorphic Expanse to mill away my library.  He plays out Memory Erosion, which turns up the clock on his millstone strategy considerably.  I use Naya Charm to take out the Crab.

Thanks to all of my Rampant Growth and Harrows, I have enough mana for World Queller.  World Queller gets the job done and takes out the Memory Erosion.  My opponent reloads with Ranger of Eos into double Hedron Crab plus Terramorphic Expanse for a sweet twelve card mill.  I cast Meglonoth and start the beatdown alongside World Queller.  My opponent saves himself from six damage with Path to Exile, but this gives me plenty of lands to Fireball away both Hedron Crabs in one shot.

My opponent plays down Jace Beleren and I take the planeswalker down with World Queller.  Khalni Heart Expedition comes into play and World Queller takes care of that too.  I cast Ant Queen and get through for lethal damage with eleven cards left in my library.

Analysis:  Game one and World Queller has already proven his worth.  In this one alone he took down Memory Erosion, Jace Beleren, Khalni Heart Expedition AND did sixteen damage.  Not bad for 3WW huh?  The ramp aspect of this deck also worked out pretty much perfectly in this one - I always had plenty of lands and access to all three colors.  Solid game one.

Ranger of Eos Hedron Crab Hedron Crab
Pretty cool combo!

I really liked my opponent's deck in this one, Ranger of Eos for double Hedron Crab...  talk about an exciting play!

Game 2 vs Jund Dragons

My opponent plays out Savage Lands, I get Rupture Spire into Harrow into Mycoid Shepherd.  Crucible of Fire comes into play for my opponent, and then he uses both Jund Charm and Lightning Bolt to take down my Shepherd.  I cast another Harrow, followed up by Woolly Thoctar and Meglonoth.  I attack for the win.

Analysis:  My opponent commented how he didn't draw anything small.  Crucible of Fire seems like a lot of fun though.  I'm assuming he has Broodmate Dragon.  I wonder which others he's running?  Shivan Dragon?  Flameblast Dragon?  I wonder what he was waiting for that was 'small'?

Game 3 vs Vampires

My opponent starts off with Vampire Lacerator, I start off with Rampant Growth into Mycoid Shepherd.  He plays Doom Blade to get rid of my 5/4, but I'm able to come back with Ant Queen.  He responds with double Child of Night and starts chump blocking.  I cast Soul's Might for five cards and then play out Rupture Spire, Harrow, and Woolly Thoctar on my next turn.  Talk about some serious velocity.  He gets double Vampire Hexmage, but I am bringing serious creatures into battle.

Analysis:  I wasn't exactly sure about the inclusion of Soul's Might in this deck, but in this game the power level it displayed was pretty insane.  Being able to draw five cards after you've deployed a threat basically guarantees that you'll be able to pound the red zone with giant monsters.

Game 4 vs UB Underworld Dreams/Planeswalkers

Here's the hand I decide to keep:  triple Rampant Growth, Harrow, Plains, Forest, World Queller.  I start off with Rampant Growth and my opponent plays Howling Mine and then Khalni Gem.  I use Harrow followed by a second Rampant Growth, ramping my mana significantly.  My opponent plays out a second Howling Mine and I respond with World Queller.

Vampire Hexmage

Doom Blade takes down my Queller, but thanks to the double Howling Mine I'm able to play another one.  My opponent plays Underworld Dreams, but World Queller takes it out.  I cast a third World Queller and my opponent Doom Blades one of them.  Jace Beleren comes into play and goes down to World Queller, so does Sorin Markov.  I attack with World Queller and then Ant Queen for the win.

Analysis:  So in this game World Queller took down Underworld Dreams, Jace Beleren, and Sorin Markov as well as doing a whole ton of damage.  Nothing wrong with that!

Game 5 vs White Weenie

My opponent starts off with Kor Aeronaut and then Kor Skyfisher.  I cast Rampant Growth and then Woolly Thoctar, but my opponent takes the 5/4 out with Pacifism.  I cast World Queller and my opponent has another Pacifism.  Thankfully though, World Queller has no problem busting up enchantment and I start to get rid of my opponent's, which lets me get some damage through.

My opponent plays out another Kor Skyfisher and we trade damage.  He casts Conqueror's Pledge for a ton of tokens, but I've been ready for that.  I'm holding double Naya Charm, so I tap down his whole team and attack for the win.

Analysis:  Once again World Queller was awesome in this game.  These big guys took down double Pacifism, and got through for a whole ton of damage.  My deck did a decent job of holding off in the face of a quick and evasive attack, racing damage with plenty of time to spare.  Another solid showing for this deck.

Was That Casual Enough For You? =)

So that's all the time I have this week for test games, so I'm going to wrap things up.  I had a lot of fun with this deck, and I'm happy that I was able to put together something this much fun to play on such a tight little budget.  If you're into attacking with giant monsters in a reasonably competitive Naya ramp strategy with a cool Zendikar junk-rare twist, then I'd definitely recommend that you put together this deck.  You can have it all for the cost of just TWO booster packs!

I'm also really happy that the World Queller experiment ended up a success.  Queller is a pretty unique effect, and it's always hard to know how cards like that are actually going to work out in practice without spending some time in test games.  During these test games, there wasn't a single time that I had World Queller in my hand that I didn't want to cast him.  Whenever I didn't have World Queller, I wished I had World Queller.  These are signs of a solid card.  That's one junk rare that turned out to be ridiculously useful.

Jace Beleren Sorin Markov
World Queller victims.

There's one World Queller strategy that I didn't have the heart to use, but that I really want to mention here.  Using World Queller to blow up lands can be a really devastating strategy.  Thanks to all of the Rampant Growths and Harrows, you'll typically have WAY more land than your opponent.  Let's say you manage to accelerate into a turn four World Queller.  If your opponent is stumbling on land at all, then you could easily make sure that his land problems continue while bringing the beats.  If you decide to use this strategy then be sure to watch out for those 'land destruction is evil, even if it's attached to a five mana Zendikar junk rare that does tons of other stuff' people.

Adding Money to This Deck

So usually my decks go in the other direction: I make a deck and then show how to budgetize it.  This time I made a budget deck and I want to talk a bit about how to spruce it up if you have some extra cash to throw at the problem.

One awesome aspect of this Naya Ramp Queller deck is that the creature suite is completely customizable.  I chose the creatures in this version with an eye towards a balance of power and budget, but you can feel free to customize the creature suite with whatever you happen to have lying around.  I'm just going to throw out a few options here, but I'd definitely encourage you to go crazy and play with whatever creatures seem like fun to you.

Baneslayer Angel is, of course, a completely ridiculous creature (and current costs $50!).

Apocalypse Hydra and Protean Hydra are WAY more exciting than Feral Hydra.

Scute Mob is basically guaranteed to hit the +4/+4 each turn.

I didn't realize that Path to Exile was a $2 card, but this deck almost definitely wants a few copies.

Bloodbraid Elf can bring the beats and cascade into mana acceleration.  Nothing wrong with that.  I also had this one in my original list before realizing it's a $2 uncommon.

Earthquake is another card I want to mention.  The creatures in this deck, other than Ant Queen tokens, pack some serious toughness.  Earthquake allows you to take down aggro creatures (Vampires, for example) and also provides reach to finish off your opponent.

Banefire is a lot better than Fireball and gives you some outs if you run into a control deck that's giving you Hell whenever you try to cast a spell.

The last thing I want to mention is that you shouldn't be afraid to add a couple of creatures with sky-high casting costs into this deck.  In the test games above, I often found myself with eight or ten mana available.  You could try out Godsire or Iona, Shield of Emeria in this role, or whatever other giant monster you prefer.

Until Next Time

So that wraps it up for this today.  Hopefully between the casual debate, the talk of Zendikar, and this World Queller deck you got something out of this article.  Feel free to chime with a comment below if you agree or disagree on any of these subjects.

Join me next week when I take another look at budget deckbuilding, but in a much different way than I did today.  The week after that is article number 50 and I was planning on putting together some sort of retrospective on the articles I have done so far.  I've always enjoyed reading when other writers do stuff like that.

Thanks for reading!

Steve Gargolinski
spgmtg@gmail.com
article archive
th1ckasabr1ck on MTGO

31 Comments

I agree strongly that players by GregAndThenSome (not verified) at Thu, 11/05/2009 - 14:48
GregAndThenSome's picture

I agree strongly that players should be able to play whatever they want in the casual room and, regardless of complaints, this is pretty much what they do anyway. I also agree that people should make better use of the game descriptions, but the big problem is that NO ONE READS THEM. When I want to play Pauper Standard I make a Pauper game and write "Standard Decks Please" in the game description and more than half my opponents that join will NOT be playing with Standard legal decks. So I have to sit there and type "did you read the game description?" to everyone that joins my game, which more or less negates the purpose of the game descriptions to begin with and makes you feel like an idiot turning players away from a game over and over.

Hmmm Whenever I add a by Paul Leicht at Thu, 11/05/2009 - 15:24
Paul Leicht's picture

Hmmm Whenever I add a description (usually something like "bring your A game" or "this deck might contain annoying cards" but occasionally also "weak deck") I get what I asked for. This might be because I play some of the "Fringe" formats and Extended which while not fringe has a more long term (dare I say mature?) group of players who actually do take the time to look at the description column.

I have noticed that standard players tend to be more aggressive, urgent (play now! play quick! no talking!), and rude. This isn't necessarily true of all Standard format players but seems to be more the rule than the exception. Thus those players who are somewhat ignorant of basic social standards of interaction may also tend to ignore obvious signs like: "No land destruction!" etc. I am not saying this is definitely so but I think it likely.

As Steve says everyone has a different definition of casual magic. The same is true for casual behavior and social standards. While a majority of players are from the US, there are quite a few other cultures represented online as well and conversational english isn't universal (though it may be some day.) Just as people don't always respond well to chat they may not be able to read your message clearly.

On the other hand I wouldn't feel bad about turning people away. The point of casual is to have fun or in someway enjoy the experience. (Learning something might be the goal instead of pure enjoyment but the goal is to get something out of it.) If you aren't getting something out of it then why bother? It is of course nice to be polite and courteous but it may not be possible to always do this with players who can't or won't read the signs. It does help if you are having this problem to repeat the phrase in chat. For instance "Looking for semicompetitive opponents only, standard format, table set up"

The key point Steve hit on which I think is 100% correct is that like casual player to player trading, casual gaming messages aren't encouraged. They aren't discouraged but the UI does not really help you get the message across. I hope the design team are reading articles like this for this crucial commentary.

Nice article Steve.

Correction by Anonymous (not verified) at Thu, 11/05/2009 - 14:51
Anonymous's picture

You mean Soul's Majesty rather than Soul's Might. Good article.

"I cast Soul's Might for five by Anonymous (not verified) at Thu, 11/05/2009 - 14:58
Anonymous's picture

"I cast Soul's Might for five cards and then play out Rupture Spire, Harrow, and Woolly Thoctar on my next turn. Talk about some serious velocity. He gets double Vampire Hexmage, but I am bringing serious creatures into battle.

Analysis: I wasn't exactly sure about the inclusion of Soul's Might in this deck, but in this game the power level it displayed was pretty insane. Being able to draw five cards after you've deployed a threat basically guarantees that you'll be able to pound the red zone with giant monsters."

Yep you're right, Soul's by spg at Thu, 11/05/2009 - 15:06
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Yep you're right, Soul's Might definitely doesn't draw you five cards =)

Awesome deck dude. Right up by Anonymous (not verified) at Thu, 11/05/2009 - 15:23
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Awesome deck dude. Right up my alley.

Thanks for the feedback man, by spg at Thu, 11/05/2009 - 23:04
spg's picture

Thanks for the feedback man, glad you liked the deck.

Sorry for the rant, but it's the only true flaw I feel MTGO has. by FierceTable (not verified) at Thu, 11/05/2009 - 16:48
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" It seems totally fundamentally flawed to me that people would be scared or nervous to play cards from their collection just because they might not fit within their opponent's definition of casual."

I used to agree. Now I just conform. I held that attitude thinking I would just play what I like and if people blocked me and didn't join that was fine...I likely didn't want to play them anyway. After a few months of doing that I couldn't play the game. I had people (this is plural mind you) concede because I played something like Befoul targeting a creature citing, "I don't play against land destruction." "I'm targeting your creature." "But you'd play it on my land if you had to."

I thought those people would be the minority...they aren't. (I'll agree most aren't that extreme, but most people do have some limitation on what is casual to them that is generally far below what a tournament level deck is. I'm not suggesting tournament quality decks aren't casual, but I can at least begin to sympathize with people when they bring fun.dec and get smashed by tier1PTQ.dec.)

I've had considerably more fun by having slightly less fun than I would in an ideal world. By that I mean I don't play land destruction in casual anymore and people don't randomly quit. I get irked a little when I go up against someone playing Volrath's Stronghold to absolutely wreck me with Eternal Witness or Academy Ruins with something slightly less immediately game winning than Mind Slaver. I never say a negative word because it's my own fault for wanting to play games that don't end due to random concession. Afterall I'm not mad at them, I'm mad at the population that has changed the rules of the game for me.

If every player would take the time to appreciate what a resource truly is the casual scene would be awesome. There would still be those who wouldn't want to play against 'X' but there would be far less crying and much more diverse Magic being played on the whole (at least I think so).

I agree with you here. May I by StealthBadger at Fri, 11/06/2009 - 06:04
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I agree with you here. May I suggest that you NEVER head into the multiplayer room. You will be blocked into oblivion if you even think of acidic sliming one of the infinite number of cloudposts..

I have ranted on this many times before, but the multiplayer room on mtgo has essentially just become battle of the big-mana, because all of it's natural predators (i.e. LD or discard, or some kind of combo) are "not casual". but dropping sundering titan in the midst of 5 consecutive turns (from timestretch, of course) somehow falls within the bounds of casual. /End rant (for now).

nice article steve, I think the first decklist is mis-titled though!

Here is my casual deck i've by Mishras Sweatshop (not verified) at Thu, 11/05/2009 - 18:22
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Here is my casual deck i've been having a blast with recently which has made many people block me from the casual room. I get a huge amount of whiners in the causal room, but like playing there due to the speed you can get into a game mainly. I do alot of playtesting for decks & alot of trading to be always building to keep things interesting.

I do not consider this even close to a 'tournament practice' deck, esp. due to all the graveyard hate which is required with Dredge running so rampant.

This deck is fun for casual mainly because it cheats fatass creatures into play that are really hard to deal with with a quickness.

The reason I'm posting this. Is because initially when I started this deck, it had a shell of
3 Bazaar of Baghdad
4 Squee, Goblin Nabob

That's it. I wanted to abuse Bazaar for card advantage. It started out as a counter/burn suite with the aforementioned combo, and has now over time evolved into the following;

4 Underground Sea
4 Badlands
1 Swamp
8 assorted fetch lands for swamps
4 Dark Ritual
3 Bazaar of Baghdad
***22 mana sources/19 Land***

1 Demonic Tutor
1 Vampiric Tutor
1 Imperial Seal
4 Animate Dead
2 Zombify
2 Dread Return
3 Reanimate
4 Buried Alive
2 Strategic Planning
4 Careful Study
***24 spells***

1 Iona, spirit of kickass
1 Anger
1 Inkwell Leviathan
1 Reya Dawnbringer
1 Mindless Mass
1 Tidespout Tyrant
1 Sphinx of the Steel Wind
1 Blazing Archon
1 Platinum Angel
4 Squee
***13 creatures***

Should I be lambasted for playing this in casual? I have spent a couple weeks on MTGO playtesting, doing tweaks and it has become what it is now. (which by the way is a blast)

I also have a mono-blue casual deck I play which packs 4 Force of Will, 4 Mana Drain, lots of bretheren counterspells but has plodding slow win conditions set to 4 Spire Golems. It is not a tournament deck, but if someone gets their !@$# Force of Willed you should see the responses.

Just curious to the responses, am I a bastard for playing these? Ultimately I don't care if you think I am, i'm going to keep having fun by coming up with an idea for a deck, then playtesting and tweaking it until I get bored with it.

dont feel bad i had an by ShardFenix at Thu, 11/05/2009 - 19:50
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dont feel bad i had an extended UB reanimator deck that got just as much as you do im assuming. Eventually i just switched it to my "friends" folder which is basically decks i know i can play against anyone on my buddy list since i know they wont whine or complain

I think it's fine, by StealthBadger at Fri, 11/06/2009 - 06:08
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I think it's fine, personally. You'll find you get a lot of people telling you that it's "not casual" if you run out any powerful card. I get it for casting gifts ungiven in extended. I'm using it to set up Toshiro Umezawa guys! TOSHIRO #%*(#"% UMEZAWA!

Gifts is totally broken! :P by Paul Leicht at Fri, 11/06/2009 - 10:55
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Gifts is totally broken! :P

Mindlock Orb by ChardOne at Thu, 11/05/2009 - 19:06
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I've been experimenting a little bit with the orb as a way to fight against all the landfall craziness. It shuts down fetches, the land gain from Path, Ranger of Eos, Harrow, etc, etc. I'd be interested to see your take on the card in a future article. I just wish it cost less so it could come down sooner.

oh and to comment one your by ShardFenix at Thu, 11/05/2009 - 19:55
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oh and to comment one your article, i must be so much worse at this game then you are spg...

"The last thing I want to mention is that you shouldn't be afraid to add a couple of creatures with sky-high casting costs into this deck. In the test games above, I often found myself with eight or ten mana available."

yeah i struggle to get to 5 lands a lot of the time, either im bad at mulliganing properly(true) or the shuffler hates me(i also assume this to be true).
Anyways the deck is fun though i have yet to win a single game...I definitely need the shepherds as right now im running titanic ultimatum in there place just as a filler. The one game i cast it my opp. had fog :P
So the deck looks like a blast, now if only i can figure out how to play it.

Titanic is just not worth it by Paul Leicht at Fri, 11/06/2009 - 03:42
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Titanic is just not worth it normally. It either is massive over kill and you are winning anyway or it is so expensive it leaves you open for all kinds of reprisals or just plain counters.

Right up my alley, man. These by The D.K. at Thu, 11/05/2009 - 23:15
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5

Right up my alley, man. These are the Johnny-rific decks I just can't help but love. Sure, you can run ptqtier1.dec and own everyone in the casual room, but it just feels so much better when you do it with a deck you made on your own.

I've gotta give this deck a run soon. It's right on my budget. :D

Casual Play by sideburns (not verified) at Fri, 11/06/2009 - 00:43
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I agree with most of your comments about the casual room. I spend most of my time there testing out random decks, and I've also encountered a bit of whining there. Completely unexpected: I brought my standard mill deck to a game IN THE TOURNAMENT PRACTICE ROOM, and this guy started calling me a coward when he saw the crabs come out, and again when I exiled one of his permanents, and then he let out some hateful angry tirade before quitting. Did I mention that was in the tournament practice room?

Anyway I find there are some fun casual games to be had in the Pauper format. There's the occasional belching goblin deck or black control going on, but there are also a lot of quirky and fun decks being played.

I love the Queller deck you posted above. I went ahead and built it almost identical to your build, but subbed out the Ant Queens for some random single rares I've got - Uril the Mistwalker, Hellkite Charger, Rampaging Baloths, and Iona Shield of Emeria. Can't remember the fourth. Uril might not belong in this deck without enchantments, but the two fliers each won a game single-handedly for me. I also opted for some zendikar uncommon life-gain duals rather than those rupture spires. Oh, and SUMMONING TRAP is great for seeking out a Queller or even getting a decent discount on Iona or other expensive bombs, even if there isn't a single counter in the enemy deck.

Won a bunch of matches with this deck, and then went up against a player using almost exclusively cards from the MTGO new account pack. And I'll be darned if he didn't Act of Treason my Queller and then sac it to his Vampire Aristocrat!

I've got a set of Path to Exile, but I might consider adding Vines of Vastwood before Path, in order to protect those precious World Quellers once they're out there, as well as some of the other fatties that are vulnerable to cheap kills.

Some Keeper of Progenitus could be real nice with any of the Hydras and with Fireball, for double pumping action, and Drum Hunter might also be a nice source of card advantage.

Casual Play by sideburns (not verified) at Fri, 11/06/2009 - 00:45
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I agree with most of your comments about the casual room. I spend most of my time there testing out random decks, and I've also encountered a bit of whining there. Completely unexpected: I brought my standard mill deck to a game IN THE TOURNAMENT PRACTICE ROOM, and this guy started calling me a coward when he saw the crabs come out, and again when I exiled one of his permanents, and then he let out some hateful angry tirade before quitting. Did I mention that was in the tournament practice room?

Anyway I find there are some fun casual games to be had in the Pauper format. There's the occasional belching goblin deck or black control going on, but there are also a lot of quirky and fun decks being played.

I love the Queller deck you posted above. I went ahead and built it almost identical to your build, but subbed out the Ant Queens for some random single rares I've got - Uril the Mistwalker, Hellkite Charger, Rampaging Baloths, and Iona Shield of Emeria. Uril might not belong in this deck without enchantments, but the two fliers each won a game single-handedly for me. I also opted for some zendikar uncommon life-gain duals rather than those rupture spires. Oh, and SUMMONING TRAP is great for seeking out a Queller or even getting a decent discount on Iona or other expensive bombs, even if there isn't a single counter in the enemy deck.

Won a bunch of matches with this deck, and then went up against a player using almost exclusively cards from the MTGO new account pack. And I'll be darned if he didn't Act of Treason my Queller and then sac it to his Vampire Aristocrat!

I've got a set of Path to Exile, but I might consider adding Vines of Vastwood before Path, in order to protect those precious World Quellers once they're out there, as well as some of the other fatties that are vulnerable to cheap kills.

Some Keeper of Progenitus could be real nice with any of the Hydras and with Fireball, for double pumping action, and Drum Hunter might also be a nice source of card advantage.

Excellent work Steve, quickly by Scartore at Fri, 11/06/2009 - 08:17
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5

Excellent work Steve, quickly becoming one of my favorite writers.

On Casual/not Casual. Room descriptions are fine, but people can also be abusive with them. I remember back in Ravinca era standard people would ask for "no counters" and then drop Simic Sky Swallowers on you.

One definition of casual for me, and this is just me, is this: Casual means I can play a bad deck if I want to. Just a pile of Jank that I thew together on a whim because I thought it might work. I can toss together a pile and wander into the casual room and get a FRIENDLY game. And no matter what else, the FRIENDLY can't be overstated. So much of this debate could be solved with the modicum of social skills I learned fron Fred Rogers as a kid.

!!!!! That is all I can say by Paul Leicht at Fri, 11/06/2009 - 10:56
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!!!!!

That is all I can say about that last paragraph. So right on the money, words fail.

ZEN common land cycle by Anonymous (not verified) at Fri, 11/06/2009 - 09:49
Anonymous's picture

Great article and great read. I love the Queller deck.

I'd like to comment on the common-land cycle for Zen. As a limited player, I've been a huge fan of these. The two elements of tension they create are 1.) the ability to splash off-color lands for their effects but not disrupt your mana base and 2.) when to drop them if everything is not great. I've worked with a couple of black-white drafts with quick beats and have loved the red land. Turn 1 Lynx, turn two Teetering Peaks is a beating of a way to start. Follow it with Kor Skyfisher to replay the Teetering ... wow, welcome to 12 life on my turn 3. It is straightforward for red-white but being able to do that in a black-white deck requires deck construction skill and offers interesting possibilities. The other element, timing, is challenging when you've got a slower hand and not enough lands in hand to time things perfectly. I've got a four drop and four lands, one of which is a Soaring Seacliff. I'd much rather cast my creature on turn 4 and then give him flying on turn 5, but on turn 3 do I roll the dice and hope I draw into another land or play it out without a good target and guarentee I have a non-flier active on turn 5? I like these puzzles. If you haven't tried them in Limited, they may surprise you in what they bring to the game.

Again, thanks for the article.

Rings of Brighthearth is NOT by Anonymous (not verified) at Fri, 11/06/2009 - 13:41
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Rings of Brighthearth is NOT Standard/Type 2 Legal. It's a Lorwyn card.

wow dude reading is by ShardFenix at Fri, 11/06/2009 - 13:57
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wow dude reading is tech...find one spot in his article where he says rings is a standard card. Otherwise you just achieved an epic fail

Aw Snap. by Mishras Sweatshop (not verified) at Fri, 11/06/2009 - 14:13
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Aw Snap.

Ummmm by Rerepete at Fri, 11/06/2009 - 14:15
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It is titled as Standard Legal....obviously mistitled

oh i see, sorry anon guy. I by ShardFenix at Fri, 11/06/2009 - 14:34
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oh i see, sorry anon guy only slightly though half that deck is not standard legal so you should have known better. I can feel for steve on this one. As a fellow writer i have forgotten to change titles and subtitles many time during writing an article, its suprisingly easy to forget too

love the article... by Anonymous (not verified) at Fri, 11/06/2009 - 20:52
Anonymous's picture

...and the ramp deck! Whiners can be heard haunting many corridors og MTGO I carry an Ank of Mishra to ward them off.

Oh Oh by Anonymous (not verified) at Fri, 11/06/2009 - 20:56
Anonymous's picture

Enlisted Wurm instead of BBE would be sweetah

Casual? by rpitcher (not verified) at Fri, 11/06/2009 - 21:21
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I've yet to read the meat of this article, but felt compelled to reply to the "casual" part.

Obviously people have differing opinions about what is casual or not for purposes of the casual rooms on MTGO. It seems whatever they are losing to is NOT their idea of casual. That's silly.

Some people whine about land destruction. Some people whine about counterspells. Some people whine about mill decks. And on, and on, and on.

I don't think it's fair to single out archtypes as casual or not.

My personal beef with the casual room has to do with "net decks". Sure, it might be fun to try out the awesome deck that just won the most recent Pro Tour. It might be fun to try some funky deck from a recent Grand Prix Top 8. Fun does not always equal casual, though. I can have fun in a business suit, but that doesn't make the suit casual.

The fact that there is a "tournament practice" room suggests to me that there was some intention to seperate serious decks from fun decks. The deck someone copies from the recent Pro Tour is serious. The silly deck someone tries to make around a garbage rare is casual. The deck some builds around their favourite tribe is casual (with some exceptions of course, such as when a tribal deck wins a PT).

I beleive it is important that proven, serious decks remain out of the casual room. It is important because people need a room to try silly stuff in. Most of us know our "home brew" deck will get killed by the recent PT winner, but trying homebrews is a HUGE part of this game.

People who's online collection is still growing need a place to play. We want these people to have fun. Scaring them away does nothing to promote the game.

If your real life Magic buddies pulled out net decks when you got together for fun games, would they be your buddies for long?

Casual by Mikec_00 (not verified) at Mon, 11/09/2009 - 09:07
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I got screamed at the other day for "mechanics abuse", because I sacced my tidehollow sculler to Thopter foundry before the trigger resolved so that the card would never return from the removed from play zone. I had never heard that particular complaint before. The funny thing was the guy was playing a control deck using Jace, Sorin, Counters and discard. And he was complaining about the casualness of an open the vaults deck with a neat little minicombo (I took his Sorin which was probably his real issue)

I have no problem if someone concedes because they don't like playing against my deck, and I don't complain. But I also reserve the right to concede when I am not having any fun because I am in the casual room to have fun. I told a guy that was playing an infinite turn combo deck that I wasn't going to play the last 2 games of the match because to be completely honest his deck was not fun to play against. While it might be fun for him (is goldfishing fun?) It wasn't really fun for the opponent, since you just stand there doing nothing. Obivously in alot of cases I think those are the types of decks people don't like. L/D, Discard, counters to a lesser extent, some combo decks and even burn decks in some ways are all archtypes that discourage your opponent from either doing anything or interacting in anyway.

So if your opponent wants to concede fine. If you want to concede fine. But please could everyone just be civil about it. There is no reason to insult your opponent, just explain your reason (or don't) and move on.