Friday, July 15, 2011

MTG Tips #4 All about Card Advantage

Tips and tricks for Magic the Gathering players.

What is card advantage?
In its simplest form: Card advantage means having more cards than your opponent.

Example: Divination draws two cards. You had to play and lose 1 card to draw 2 cards (+2 cards but -1 to get those cards). That means you managed a net gain of +1 card advantage. If you're not a fan of math then don't worry, there's only one more example below that uses any. Hurray!

Common misconceptions:
Spot removal spells (like Doom Blade) and counterspells don't actually generate any card advantage. These spells are useful for utility but they translate into: trading one card for another card. This is the main reason why filling your deck with spot removal is a horrible idea.

Also contrary to popular belief: cantrips are not card advantage. For those unfamiliar with the term: a cantrip is any spell that also draws a card (take a look at Wildsize for an example). It replaces itself which means there isn't any card disadvantage but there isn't any card advantage either.

Milling also doesn't generate any card advantage. It doesn't get rid of cards that are actually available to the player such as cards in hand or on the field.

Why is card advantage important?
It wins games. It's one of the single most important factors when you're playing Magic. Never underestimate it.

Ways to generate card advantage:
1) Drawing cards
This was already implied earlier but drawing extra cards is the easiest way to gain card advantage. Nothing left to see here. Moving on.

2) Discard

Discard is the exact opposite of drawing cards in terms of card advantage. Rather than giving yourself more tools to work with, you're taking away the tools of your opponent (and tossing those tools in a deep chasm).

3) Field advantage

This one is a bit more complicated. It depends on how many permanents you have on the field and how useful or powerful those permanents are. Having two 7/7 creatures is more beneficial than having four 1/1 creatures. Much like a single Gundam versus twenty Zaku.

4) Mass removal aka Board Sweep
If you play something like Wrath of God and take out four of your opponent's creatures then you've generated card advantage (and probably made your opponent grumpy to boot). You used 1 spell to take out 4 creatures (+3 card advantage).

5) Virtual card advantage
Virtual card advantage is the concept that having a useless card in your hand or permanent in play is essentially the same as not having it at all. Take a look at the card Moat. It doesn't get rid of any cards like Wrath of God but it instead makes them useless and therefore it generates virtual card advantage.

6) Planeswalkers

Imagine being able to cast a powerful sorcery every single turn but you only had to pay for it once. That's basically what Planeswalkers are. Even better still is the fact that they typically have abilities that also generate card advantage such as drawing cards, forcing discard, or creating creatures. There's a reason that Jace, the Mind Sculptor is the greatest Planeswalker ever printed and needed to be banned.

This is Kylak signing out and making more demotivational posters that don't work out of context.


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