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Subject: Round 2: the aftermath of the starter decks fiasco rss

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Branko K.
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Some of you who have followed my infinitely exciting adventures from my previous thread here know that I had some attrocious experience with starter decks, but then due to some amazing and totally unexpected turn of events got hold of two Dissesion decks. In this chapter, my stupefying trip to the world of Magic continues.

First of all some totally unexpected trivia. My initial suspicion that Wizards of the Coast chose a croatian word for plains - "Ravnica" proved quite correct. These Dissession decks are swarming with croatian terms. The biggest clue is "Rusalka" - a creature directly lifted from croatian mythology which in the decks gets all sorts of atrocities brought down on it. Poor thing gets scorched, starved, drowned.. I half-expected she'd get molested somewhere down the road but I guess that would be too Cable-Networky for a family-friendly game. But it doesn't stop there - "Drekavac" is a not-so-common croatian term for "screaming dude" and "Kraj" basically means "The End". To cross into realms of absurdity, Simic is my friend's last name. How many of you have Magic Deck named after them? Anyone?

Anyway, my friend of course chose "Simic" deck (surprise, surprise). Since sadly there wasn't a "baba" deck available I settled for the Rakdos, which amazingly enough, doesn't mean squat in croatian.

Onto the game. We shuffled. We took 7 cards. We cursed because we forgot to take out those cards with some dudes on them. We made some more Simic Mutology jokes. Then we started to play.

The game started slowly, what with all the reading of the cards, figuring stuff out and whatnot. It was apparent that we should find something for the "+1/+1" counters, so my friend suggested we use shredded paper tokens. This turned out to be quite a brilliant idea when one accidental sneeze suddenly made his army a whole lot weaker, but we managed.

For the first 10-15 turns nothing spectacular happened. Simic played a bunch of islands and placed a few of those strange grafting creatures. I on the other hand was happily swamping my side of desk while putting one Moloch to safeguard me from his attrocities.

Card by card, I managed to place some rats and use Hellbent. Not too efficiently though because all I succeeded in was trading my creatures for his. Almost half of our decks were spent, and all we had was a bunch of land. I was longing for my good old Eager Cadet to steer things up, but he was sadly unavailable. Probably he was torturing a Rusalka somewhere.

Then my game picked up with a Drekavac draw followed by that Mayhem enchantment. Yay, I could finally do some damage! My happiness didn't last long because right then my friend pulled out what looks quite close to me as the "Win game button" card - the Protean Hulk. His 6/6 couldn't stop my mighty Screaming Dude..ahem Drekavac, but after the Hulky guy was dead my friend told me that he can now pull all of the creatures from his deck into play with 6 mana cost or less, which are basically, well, all of the creatures.

Before I could say what-the-youknowwhat, his side of the table was filled with gazzilion creatures and he was shredding his second paper for the tokens. I still think there was something fishy about the whole thing, but I checked the text ten times and it seemed he was playing by the book. And I thought that Kraj thingy was too strong a card.

I couldn't stand a chance against a truckload of creatures and was quite dead the next turn. Too bad, I was quite enjoying this game before the "win game" card.

Second game, deck switching. Hehe, now I got the Unbeatable Hulk, just you wait. As it turned out, it was just not meant to be. My card draws were attrocious - lands and horribly mutilated Rusalkas mostly, while my friend got the winning streak by churning out powerful creatures, enchanting them and managing to get rid of his cards quite quickly. I did a few succesful sacrifices for a few turns but was overwhelmed too quickly. The game was over before it truly began. The Hulk and Kraj stayed buried - I didn't even get to fiddle with the paper bits much.

End result - well, even though I was beaten to the dust I deffinitely liked these decks better then those attrociously unbalanced starter decks. However, these expert decks seem much more involving, fiddly and for quite a few times we had to stop and consult the rulebook to figure out how to resolve some moves or whether we are playing correctly. But inherently this was much more satisfying then the puny starter ones.

Finally, I still have some confusions concerning some cards, and would be much obliged if someone here would enlighten me:

1) Drekavac - it says he must be sacrificed as soon he gets into play if I don't discard a card. Why shouldn't it just say "discard a card when you play it"? Why would I ever play a creature and instanly kill it?

2) The %&!*! Protean Hulk - is this card for real? How do you counter it?

3) Ragworm - his ability is to untap it. But if he is tapped, I cannot use this ability. If he is untapped, then I really don't see much use of untapping the untapped card, if only for some obscure philosphical discussion. Perhaps they should change his ability to "can wiggle around and dance lambada". What am I missing?

4) Stasis Cell - we are completely at lost to what is this card used for. I don't see any benefit in echanting my creatures so they become permanently tapped. However, if it is meant to be used on the oponnents creature, then firstly I didn't even know you can enchant your oponnents creatures (no way, he'll steal my card after the game!), and if you can, I don't see how can he remove this if he hasn't got Island cards. All in all, weird card indeed.

There. Any enlightments much appreciated.

Cheers!
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Nick West
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baba44713 wrote:

1) Drekavac - it says he must be sacrificed as soon he gets into play if I don't discard a card. Why shouldn't it just say "discard a card when you play it"? Why would I ever play a creature and instanly kill it?

4) Stasis Cell - we are completely at lost to what is this card used for. I don't see any benefit in echanting my creatures so they become permanently tapped. However, if it is meant to be used on the oponnents creature, then firstly I didn't even know you can enchant your oponnents creatures (no way, he'll steal my card after the game!), and if you can, I don't see how can he remove this if he hasn't got Island cards. All in all, weird card indeed.


Well I have not played MtG for five years or so and do not know the cards you ask about but I will share a couple of ideas from my memory of the mechanics.

1) One idea could be if another card required a creature sacifice to maintain it or activate it's ability then you could play Drekavac, not discard a card, and then sac it to feed that other card. It is all about card utility and flexibility.

2) You can certainly enchant other players cards just as you can play instants with them as targets, and not just his creatures but lands, artifacts etc. He cannot steal your cards, they remain yours irrespective of where you play them on the table. He may indeed not be able to remove the enchantment - that is often the power in enchanting his cards rather than your own. You are upsetting the way his deck is designed to operate and not just trying to out race him in your own deck's power development.

Hope helpful although I am sure more experienced recent MtG players than me will be along in a minute.
 
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Alexander E. Stevens
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The Hulk only lets you get any number of creatures whose total COMBINED converted mana cost is 6. so that is 6 creatures that cost 1, three that cost 2, etc.


You may enchant any creature with a creature aura, even your opponents. Keeping a creature tapped has many strategic advantages. A creature cannot attack, block, or use Tap abilities while tapped (unless, of course, the card specifies otherwise.)

Auras that can only enchant your creatures will say as much.


Playing the Drekavac and letting it die is useful when you want to trigger something that triggers with a creature coming to play and/or leaving play (see cards Pandemonium and Grave Pact for examples.) There are also special interactions that arise with things that have additional costs as opposed to triggered effects like the Drakevac's.


You will often find things that seem different in strange ways, and then learn much later how important those differences are. One of the many funny things about magic, whether one loves it or hates it.
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Stephen Tavener
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Quote:
1) Drekavac - it says he must be sacrificed as soon he gets into play if I don't discard a card. Why shouldn't it just say "discard a card when you play it"? Why would I ever play a creature and instanly kill it?

They could have worded it that way for a different effect. This way, (1) in response to you playing the spell, your opponent can respond by making you discard your hand, which would kill your creature
(2) you could respond to the "sacrifice this creature when it comes into play unless you discard a card" trigger with a spell or effect that would save your creature, without having to discard
(3) some other spells are trigered when a creature comes into play; these would still be triggered even if the creature then dies.
... and many more subtle interactions.

Quote:
2) The %&!*! Protean Hulk - is this card for real? How do you counter it?

As noted, it's COMBINED mana costs; but nonetheless, it's a powerful creature for a high cost. Generally speaking, expensive cards like this will win you the game if they get to resolve, so (a) kill your opponent before he gets to 7 mana, (b) force him to discard the protean hulk, or (c) hold it off with a small regenerating creature for the rest of the game.

Quote:
3) Ragworm - his ability is to untap it. But if he is tapped, I cannot use this ability.

False. Creatures only tap to use an ability if the tap symbol is part of the activation cost.

Quote:
4) Stasis Cell - we are completely at lost to what is this card used for.

Yes, you can cast it on an opponent's creature, e.g. a protean hulk. Yes, you are expected to remember to put it back in your deck at the end of the game.
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Branko K.
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I knew there was something fishy about the Hulk guy. The confusion was that in the rulebook, when talking about mana the "total converted mana cost of X" is referred to the actual total mana cost of one card when you add up all the symbols on top.

The Hulk text is "When Protean Hulk ... search your library for any number of creature cards with total converted mana cost 6 or less and put them into play". It now seems quite clear that we should have added up the mana cost to 6, not just pull out ALL the creatures, but yesterday it wasn't so obvious from the description. I still think they should have added the word "combined" somewhere.

On the whole, I think I should deffinitely do some more playtesting since these decks seem too much luck-oriented when put against each other. If the Radkos player gets good cards in the beginning, he makes a fast victory. If the game starts dragging, Simic gets some really powerful stuff. I guess some tempering with the decks is needed, but as I said I don't want to do that because once you start there ain't no going back.

Anyway, thanks for the feedback. Cheers!
 
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Douglas Buel
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baba44713 wrote:
1) Drekavac - it says he must be sacrificed as soon he gets into play if I don't discard a card. Why shouldn't it just say "discard a card when you play it"?


Because ruleswise, that sort of instruction would mean that if you didn't have the card to discard, you would just do nothing.

"When this happens, discard a card" -- you discard one if you have one, and if you don't, do nothing.

"Do this unless you discard a card" -- you discard a card if you have one, and if you don't, do something.
 
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Douglas Buel
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"When Protean Hulk is put into a graveyard from play, search your library for any number of creature cards with total converted mana cost 6 or less and put them into play. Then shuffle your library."

As you know by now, they mean the total converted mana cost of all those creature cards. The converted mana costs, totaled.
 
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Douglas Buel
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baba44713 wrote:
3) Ragworm - his ability is to untap it. But if he is tapped, I cannot use this ability.


You can, actually. Being tapped doesn't mean the ability can't be activated.
 
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Douglas Buel
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baba44713 wrote:
4) Stasis Cell - we are completely at lost to what is this card used for. I don't see any benefit in echanting my creatures so they become permanently tapped. However, if it is meant to be used on the oponnents creature, then firstly I didn't even know you can enchant your oponnents creatures (no way, he'll steal my card after the game!), and if you can, I don't see how can he remove this if he hasn't got Island cards. All in all, weird card indeed.


You absolutely can enchant your opponent's creatures, and as you suspected, that's what this card is for.

You'll have to remember to take it back at the end of the game.

Your opponent can't remove the Stasis Cell even if he has Islands. Even though the Stasis Cell is on his creature, it's still your Stasis Cell. Only you can play the "Attach Stasis Cell" ability.
 
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Bill Barksdale
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Links to the decks in question:
http://www.wizards.com/magic/displaythemedeck.asp?set=dissen...
http://www.wizards.com/magic/displaythemedeck.asp?set=dissen...

It should be noted that based on the cards that make up these decks, the Rakdos deck has a stronger early game and the Simic deck has a stronger late game. The Rakdos deck can make a lot of cheap creatures and get in damage early, but the Simic deck has ways of drawing more cards, and its creatures are generally bigger. This matchup of decks then is the battle of tempo vs. card advantage (two common strategy terms). How does this affect how you should play?

The Rakdos deck should try to get in damage early. Don't be afraid to mulligan hands that contain a lot of land, or to make attacks where you would lose creatures if you can get in enough damage. If you can reduce your opponent to a low life total, you have cards like Scorched Rusalka, Lyzolda, Rakdos Ickspitter, Seal of Fire, and Cackling Flames that can deal damage to your opponent directly.

Conversely, the Simic deck wants to do everything it can to survive to the long game. If you're playing this deck, try to trade your creatures off by blocking whenever you can, rather than get into a damage race, where both players are attacking. Experiment Kraj and Protean Hulk are both very powerful in the late game. (Side note: There is a deck people are talking about that attempts to put a Protean Hulk into play and sacrifice it right away in order to search for a combination of creatures that can cause the opponent to lose 20 life as early as the first turn of the game.)

There is a classic article that every Magic player should read that explains this kind of strategy in broad terms called Who's the Beatdown, by Mike Flores: http://www.starcitygames.com/php/news/expandnews.php?Article... Don't worry too much about the specific cards mentioned but try to understand what he is saying about how the differences between decks affect overall strategy.
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dbuel wrote:
"When Protean Hulk is put into a graveyard from play, search your library for any number of creature cards with total converted mana cost 6 or less and put them into play. Then shuffle your library."

As you know by now, they mean the total converted mana cost of all those creature cards. The converted mana costs, totaled.


While common sense would dictate this result, the card text...as supported by the checking of the rulebook...doesn't. And all it needs is to have the word "combined" inserted after total, in order for the meaning to be clear. Otherwise, the effect as played appears to be the intent, which is of course a win-the-game card.
 
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Bill Barksdale
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kingbobb wrote:
While common sense would dictate this result, the card text...as supported by the checking of the rulebook...doesn't. And all it needs is to have the word "combined" inserted after total, in order for the meaning to be clear. Otherwise, the effect as played appears to be the intent, which is of course a win-the-game card.


The word "total", in this context, means what you think "combined" would mean.
 
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Douglas Buel
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kingbobb wrote:
dbuel wrote:
"When Protean Hulk is put into a graveyard from play, search your library for any number of creature cards with total converted mana cost 6 or less and put them into play. Then shuffle your library."

As you know by now, they mean the total converted mana cost of all those creature cards. The converted mana costs, totaled.


While common sense would dictate this result, the card text...as supported by the checking of the rulebook...doesn't. And all it needs is to have the word "combined" inserted after total, in order for the meaning to be clear. Otherwise, the effect as played appears to be the intent, which is of course a win-the-game card.


I can't agree. You're taking the text to mean, "Search your library for any number of creature cards with converted mana cost 6 or less and put them into play."

The actual text is, "Search your library for any number of creature cards with total converted mana cost 6 or less and put them into play."

The word "total" is doing something there.

This simply isn't one of those cards that gets misunderstood a lot. For a new player, it's understandable, but this card is not one of those with a bona fide wording problem. There have been such cards, but this isn't one of them.
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Hunter Shelburne
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And yes, you can use Ragworms ability even when tapped. If it doesn't require you to tap the creature, you can use it when tapped.
 
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Also, I had the same problem when I was learning, I would see cards, think they didn't make sense, and they were poorly designed, and ignore them.

That is a mistake, 90% of the time, if you see a card that makes you say "But that doesn't work....or its not useful at all" it probably is, and you are probably getting a rule wrong. I had the same problem with Enchant Creatures and stuff (now Auras).
 
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Gabe Edwards
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baba44713 wrote:
On the whole, I think I should deffinitely do some more playtesting since these decks seem too much luck-oriented when put against each other. If the Radkos player gets good cards in the beginning, he makes a fast victory. If the game starts dragging, Simic gets some really powerful stuff.


In regards to this, I agree with what wcbarksdale said. Different decks work in different ways. Sometimes it can be luck, but most of the time it will be using your cards in the right ways at the right times. Practice makes perfect!
 
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