Sunday, July 22, 2012

MTG Tips #10 Cards to Ignore (Win More and Lose Less)

Tips and tricks for Magic the Gathering players.

When building a deck, there are certain cards to be wary of that might as well be traps. Admiral Ackbar isn't here to help you since he's in a galaxy far far away so I'll be his temporary replacement. The two particular types of cards we'll be looking at today are "win-more" and "lose-less" cards.

Win More

A win more type of card is one that is only truly useful when you're already winning the game. These are essentially traps because they look powerful and shiny at first glance and make you want to drool on them and include them in your deck when in reality you could be putting a more useful card in that works 100% of the time (rather than less than 50%). The hardest part is deciphering which cards would qualify for this award and you'll find that it's rarely black and white. It usually comes down to looking at your own deck and making that decision for yourself.

You may have noticed Dragonstorm hangs above to wave the banner of win more cards everywhere. This is a card that costs 9CMC and loves to brag about how explosive it can be "potentially maybe in a vacuum on a Tuesday if it doesn't rain". You could have played a powerful dragon on turn 5 or 6 and have been swinging with it and winning before you got the mana for this bad boy. Let me repeat: you could have already won. That's not even mentioning that it will actually cost you more than 9 mana since it wants you to play cards before it thanks to the storm mechanic.

Before the pseudo-tournament players jump on my back, you have to understand, the reason I use Dragonstorm is it's also the perfect example of an exception to the rule thanks to it working in a very very particular deck. Tourney players will tell you of the days of the Dragonstorm combo that could cast Dragonstorm on turn four consistently in Standard and summon four Bogardan Hellkites to instantly win the game. As I said before, it's never black and white. Dragonstorm is going to be a terrible card in more than 95% (totally accurate made-up statistic right there) of the decks that try to play it because they could have been playing an actual consistent card that had a better effect for a cheaper cost. That being said, the Dragonstorm combo deck had all of the right pieces to abuse the storm mechanic and the only reason it was successful was because of how fast and consistent it was. It was the backbone piece of a single combo deck but for everyone else it's just a win more type of card.

Lose Less

A lose less type of card is a bit different but I'd say it's easier to spot. These types of cards are at their best when you're losing the game. They never actually help you win the game which at best means you're only delaying the inevitable and at worst you're bringing a knife to a gun fight (maybe a Jellyfish to a Dragon fight?). The hardest part that some players have in figuring this out is those that are still learning about Control decks. Control decks don't use cards that simply delay the game. They use cards that control the board in their favor and give them superior card advantage to win the game.

Take a look at Guard Gomazoa. That is some hefty defense right there but it doesn't really do anything else. You could have just as easily included a flying creature that can actually attack. If your opponent pops out a Baneslayer Angel then yes, Guard Gomazoa is going to help you lose less often but it's never going to actually win you the game. Baneslayer Angel on the other hand is going to win a lot of games and generate more virtual card advantage by being a better threat on the table than any jellyfish.

Compare this to Wall of Omens. It's one of the only walls that has been used in tournament play in quite some time and there are actually a lot of reasons for it. It manages to replace itself immediately with another card which lets you dig deeper into your deck to find your actual threats, it's below three mana which means you can drop it at the most crucial time to place a wall (the first couple of turns), and it has four defense which not only means it's out of Lightning Bolt range but it blocks just about anything for quite a few turns. It combines card advantage and virtual card advantage (if you don't know what I'm talking about then read this article: All About Card Advantage) into one tiny cost-efficient package.

Just to clarify so that I don't send the wrong message: it isn't walls that are the problem. Cards that simply delay without giving you any kind of advantage in the game are the real trap. There are plenty of great walls that do more than just "exist" on the field and there are more than enough non-walls that are about as useful as a dead body.

Ignore the traps my friends.

This is Kylak signing out and helping you bring the right weapons to the table.


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