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By: OKCoyote, Daniel Matteson
Mar 30 2008 3:14pm
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Mastering Momir #1 - BASIC Training

by OKCoyote

Hi, everyone.  OKCoyote here to talk to you for a while about one of the many fun formats in the Magic Online community - Momir BASIC.

Now anyone that knows me (yes, all two of you, you folks in the back can sit down now) knows I'm a huge fan of this format, and I play in every Momir Premier Event I can make time for - so much that I rarely play any other drafts or events.  Maybe that says something about how competitive of a player I am, but I'm also a player that likes to have a good time, and I always have fun playing this wild and wacky format.

Why a series of articles based on Momir, you may ask?  Or more accurately, what makes me think I can keep up a regular series of articles based on such a narrow topic?  Well, there are a couple of reasons and I'll be happy to answer them.  Momir BASIC grew out of a Vanguard variant and was so popular that demand pushed WotC into running PEs of the format.  Recently, and most noticably since the Morningtide release weeks, attendance on these events has waned, to the point where many of the events aren't even firing since they're not accumulating the minimum 24 players needed to initiate.  As a huge fan I want to ensure that Momir BASIC events don't die out - I want to see them live on into v3.  I'm hoping that this article series can:

* Draw you in if you've never played Momir BASIC, enticing you enough to give it a try;

* Remind you that the format's still out there if you've played it before, coaxing you to try it again;

* Educate you on how you can improve your play, convincing you to come back again and again.

It's a tall order, but I'm determined to take on the challenge.  For this week's introductory article, I'm going to summarize the basic rules of play and also highlight some of the positives - and in the interest of full disclosure, a few negatives - of the format.

Boot Camp

Momir BASIC plays a lot like a Standard with Vanguard event.  To play, you need a deck with 60 basic lands.  No more, no less, no snow-covered allowed, and no sideboard.  How to divvy up those lands by type is up to you, and something I'll get into further down in the article.  In addition, you'll need the Momir Vig, Simic Visionary avatar.  If you're playing in a Premier Event, you'll also need an entry fee of six tickets.

Let's take a look at the text on the Momir Vig avatar.  In addition to giving you an additional four life at the start of the game, it reads as follows:

X, Discard a card: Put a token into play as a copy of a random creature card with converted mana cost X.  Play this ability only any time you could play a sorcery and only once each turn.

So in actual game play, what this means is that both players start with 24 life, are playing only lands from their hand, use the avatar once per turn to play a random creature card, and the only other thing they're likely to use mana for is for activated abilities on the creatures themselves - or certain annoyances like upkeep or echo costs.  The appeal of the format is in the random factor.  Since you don't know what you're going to get, there's a lot of luck involved in your plays, but there's also the skill element of working with what you have and making the correct plays.  With a little of both, anyone can win a game of Momir BASIC.
Momir Vig, Simic Visionary Avatar

Let's look at the positives of this format.

* You won't lose to Tarmogoyf.  A "Timmy" player will have fun in this format.  Since both players are only playing creatures, removal becomes scarce.  Therefore, the game is usually a race to get a large number of mana out qiuckly and start dropping larger creatures.  Creatures that would never see play in any Standard or Extended tournaments are suddenly a force to be reckoned with.

* You don't need Tarmogoyf to win.  Momir BASIC decks don't cost hundreds of dollars to build.  All you need is 60 lands and the Momir Vig avatar.  Once you have those, you're done, and each event you enter only costs six tickets.

* Great odds.  Momir tournaments need a minimum 24 players to start, and usually fire with just the minimum or slightly over the minimum number of players in attendance.  With a top 8 payout of at least one draft set, that's a 1 in 3 chance of at least three packs, usually getting you back double what you paid to enter.  Winning the final gets you four draft sets, or twelve packs.

* Fun factor.  Because it's such a wild format, though still competitive, Momir BASIC isn't as cutthroat as formats like Standard.  The experience is a lot of fun to play in.

* Luck factor.  Due to the random element of creature drops, any game can be won at any given time, no matter how bleak things may seem, by "topdecking" the right drop at the right time.  A last-minute Hoverguard Sweepers or Blazing Archon, just to cite two examples, can save or even turn the game around for you.

And here a couple negatives.  Hopefully they don't dissuade you too much.

* Rarity of the avatar.  With a limited number of Momir Vig avatars having been awarded during Dissension release events, the growing popularity of the format has increased the asking price of the avatar.  These days the price can fluctuate from nine to as many as 12 tickets.  The good news is, you only have to make that payment once.  You only need one avatar and then the deck is done.

* Wasted turns.  Many creatures behave differently in the Momir environment, and some will die immediately upon entering play, or shortly thereafter.  I like to call these "DOA creatures."  Indeed, there are a couple of creatures that will even automatically hand your opponent the game!  Phage the Untouchable is the most famous example of this.  However, smart players know about these stumbling blocks, and how best to try to avoid them.
Hoverguard Sweepers
* The format doesn't affect your tournament rating.  Well, it is considered a casual format, after all.  Though some may see this as a good thing!

* Luck factor.
  Yeah, this is the big one, and it's both a positive and negative.  Some players will complain - loudly that they've lost a game they had locked up to a lucky drop by what they consider to be an inferior player.  This does happen often, and it's upsetting.  If this happens and it knocks you out of contention, just be thankful you only had to invest six tickets into the event.  If you can't get past this, perhaps this format isn't right for you.

BASIC Strategies

Everyone has their own opinions on these strategies and what they feel works for them.  So feel free to try different methods and see what works for you.  However, here's my advice for beginning players:

* Fix your lands.  It doesn't matter what lands are in play for Momir Vig's ability.  When you drop a creature, you could get any color of creature regardless of what color mana you spent to play the ability.  However, you will need specific colors of mana to handle your creatures' activated abilities.  The easiest method would be to merely drop 12 of each basic land into the deck, but this is probably not the wisest idea.  You'll want to have various amounts of each land, but certain lands will come into play a lot more often.  Mountains are generally most important, as in the later game you'll be dropping creatures with direct damage capability, like Scourge of Kher Ridges and Ashen Firebeast.  In addition, some land types will make you more vulnerable to some creatures or abilities.  For example, landwalking creatures.  Experiment with your ratios until you find a balance you like.

* Aim for eight.  Most of the better creatures and a lot of removal exists with the eight mana cost creatures, so your early goal is to try to get to eight mana as soon as possible.  Unless you drop a mana-producing creature or similar effect, you'll need to skip one drop if you're on the draw, or two if you're on the play, in order to get to eight - otherwise you'll run out of cards in hand and be "stuck" on a lower number.

* Avoid odd numbers.  Odd numbered mana costs typically don't have as great an assortment of creatures.  In addition, the three "I lose" cards - Countryside Crusher, Leveler, and Phage the Untouchable - are costed at 3, 5, and 7, respectively.  Sound advice from me is to skip the one drop on the draw, and the one and five drops on the play, though this may vary based on the game state.

* Be aggressive.  24 life is a lot to accomplish, so you want to get in as much damage as you can in the early game.  Those first few points will make a big difference once your larger guns start hitting the table.

* Have fun.  The most important piece of advice.  Sometimes your best laid plans will go awry with an unlucky drop, or a lucky drop by your opponent.  When this happens, be a good sport about it and move on.  Remember that you're here to have fun - it is a game, after all!

Countryside Crusher
Phage the Untouchable
You don't want to hit any of these monsters in a Momir BASIC game.

That's about it for this article.  If you have any questions, or are looking to play a casual Momir game, you can message me at OKCoyote on MTGO - I can usually make the time for a round or two.  Next time out I'll discuss some of the flavor behind Momir Vig, and I'll also run down what Morningtide has brought to the Momir environment.

Thanks for reading!


by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Mon, 03/31/2008 - 10:48
Anonymous (Unregistered)'s picture

Zomg coyote, I loved ur article!

It's me DME btw.  :D

! by MagicStop (Unregistered) (not verified) at Mon, 03/31/2008 - 05:59
MagicStop (Unregistered)'s picture

Good to see you writing, OKCoyote! Represent teh auction room!