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Magic the Gathering [anticipating some ridicule for this]

 Post subject: Magic the Gathering [anticipating some ridicule for this]
PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2008 7:50 am 
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Master Gunner
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OK not sure where to post this as I notice we don't have a forum for card-based games. I wonder if this may have been on purpose..... In which case you're welcome to tell me to take my Magicy questions elsewhere.

Apologies to any RPGers if I just descrated their corner of the Fringe, but, does anyone on here play Magic the Gathering? If so, I've just dusted off my old deck (last played, 2004, last seriously played, 1997) out of storage, and I have a question:

Is a blue/black Underworld Dreams based deck with only two Power 9 in it (f*&% buying/trading for any more of those) any good these days? If so, what would you put in the deck?


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2008 12:30 pm 
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We actually had a massive thread on M:tG years ago, before I vanished from the board. I don't remember which section it was in, though.

That said, Underworld Dreams seems like it would go well with Honden of Seeing Winds, Howling Mine, and the new Planeswalker, Jace Beleren. You may also want to drop in a Mirror Gallery, to allow you to play multiple Hondens of the same name (after all, Hondens are shrines, and their effect is applied once for each shrine you control. Four Hondens of Seeing Winds means 16 cards drawn per turn).

Of course, these suggestions may be of no help if you're not familiar with the card names. I would suggest either getting your hands on Magic Workstation, or checking out Essential Magic, as both have searchable databases of cards. I'm inclined to push Magic Workstation more, though, if only because it's easier to browse and look at potential cards to put into your deck. You can even build a deck in it, then test it against yourself or play online with people around the world.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 14, 2008 3:36 am 
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Cool, thanks Keldane. Those links are ace.

In my experience miniatures gamers are often less keen on Magic than they are role-playing etc, although I dunno why (actually, a guess - two expensive hobbies is one too many).

Honden looks like a fun card - I'll do some research into how to use it. My old plan was to play a Dreams as quick as possible, and then set up a succession of "draw seven" cards like Timetwister, Wheel of Fortune, and Memory Jar (cast one, and hope to draw another in the new seven, and so on until opponent dies). The difficulty I found is that unless I do that quickly I die.

I've never worked out a reliable way of a) getting enough mana out quickly, and b) finding the cards I need quickly in my deck. I use 4x Impulse and a couple of tutors, but that doesn't seem to work well enough.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 14, 2008 12:34 pm 
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The theme of my post is: Repent! It's not too late to forsake the evil of CCGs! (But I still have some useful resources if you choose to ignore my warnings.)

Traditionally our Magic: The Gathering discussions have been in the Off Topic forum.
I think our main Magic topic was the MtG: Prodigal Sorcerer thread.
There was also some discussion of Magic in the old It was my hobby, and you ruined it! thread (circa 2006).

My long-time gaming group kicked the CCG habit years ago and never looked back, or so we thought. Then, last year, one of our old members who had dropped out of gaming to start a family and be responsible returned. He'd gotten a divorce and wanted to re-live the good old days of gaming, including playing Magic. So, we dusted off our cards and, for about two months, played Magic like fiends. People were buying cards by the box and several new decks were being constructed every week. Eventually the novelty wore off and we settled in to more of an RPG mode and "the gathering" became just the layer of dust on the card boxes again. However, here are some things I leared from the experience:

By the time I got out of Magic I had recognized that it was just a bottomless money sink that you could never stay on top of. I took the opportunity of my return to liquidate quite a few of my more valuable cards. I don't even see the point of owning 2 of the "Power 9". There is no way that owning any one card translates in to $300+ worth of actual fun, especially when there are people who have every Mox and a Black Lotus who will smack you down for daring to presume you could play in their league. I was able to get a lot more fun cards by going through the 15-for-a-dollar commons box at my local store. They had come out with some pretty amazing commons since I quit.

In any case, I recommend looking in the display cases at your local retailers, finding what's currently hot, and selling them. For example, I was stunned to see Force of Will (a mere Uncommon from Alliances) selling for $16 or more at local stores. An Uncommon! I promptly sold a couple of mine for $12 each and immediately went looking for other old cards I could sell off. Of course other cards plummet in value... Underworld Dreams being a classic example. All the more reason to get rid of those cash sinks while the bubble lasts!

You can still enjoy the game using only cheap cards. In fact, I find that the game is a lot MORE fun when its clear that I'm just playing for fun and not having a manhood measuring contest over who owns the most Moxes.

The Advanced Search feature at Findmagiccards.com is amazingly useful for determining what new cards will go with your old decks. It also has a Price History chart for each card so you can see its rise and fall over the years.

WotC has a search utility called Gatherer which is also useful, though not as detailed.

I've never actually had an Underworld Dreams deck, but since it has been reprinted and made available to the masses, I'm sure there must be many deck ideas out on the 'net.

Yes, I do want to ridicule your lust for ridiculously inflated Power 9 cards. However, I do still think Magic is a fun game and I do still have thousands of cards for it. I just think it's a lot more fun and satisfying if you maintain realistic expectations of what a game is actually worth.

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"Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do." - Voltaire
"It is to be expected that we will run out of fossil fuels before we run out of optimists, who are, along with fools and madmen, a renewable resource." - Dmitry Orlov


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 14, 2008 1:47 pm 
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Ha! Cheers Venator,

Actually, I agree with most of what you say. I last played Magic seriously in 97, so I've owned almost all my cards for a long time. The power 9 weren't cheap then, but they were a good deal cheaper than they are now. I only mentioned it because unfortunately it is relevant to deck building: what other cards you use depends on which of the 9 you have in a blue/black deck that relies on playing a lot of cards in a turn to win.

Personally, I'd just like a deck that works. Mine never has properly since 97 - I've had a few games since then, but the pace of games has sped up so much since Revised that I've had to rethink everything and haven't got it right yet.

I agree that probably the best thing to do with old cards is sell them. My Mishra's Workshop cost me about US$15 and is now worth around US$230 last time I looked; but for every story like that there'll be an opposite one - I know I used to have a Bazaar of Baghdad back in the days when it was considered worthless, and now it is worth almost as much as a Workshop.

Also agree that the amount of fun you get is not proportional to the money spent. That's kind of why I raised the topic - if an Underworld Dreams deck doesn't work these days without the fast power 9 mana and Ancestral Recall then I'm certainly not spending a fortune on getting them.

I'll repent... after I work out if my deck is viable! :(


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 14, 2008 5:00 pm 
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Some more cards to consider:

Anvil of Bogardan (coupled with Library of Leng, preferably)
Booby Trap (if you're familiar with your opponent's deck)
Howling Mine
Honden of Seeing Winds
Jace Beleren(I've already mentioned these, just keeping the list complete)
Kami of the Crescent Moon
Lore Broker
Magus of the Jar
Memory Jar
Prosperity
Seizan, Perverter of Truth
Skyscribing
Standstill (followed by another spell)
Teferi's Puzzle Box
Temporal Cascade
Time Spiral
Timetwister
Vision Skeins
Walking Archive
Wheel and Deal
Windfall
Words of Wisdom

So there you go. An alphabetical list of cards that will cause both you and your opponent to draw. If you nab a Library of Leng, as I've suggested (I got mine for a couple of bucks at a local gaming store), then you can also make use of discard effects to reseed your deck and prevent drawing yourself to death, while simultaneously forcing your opponent into extinction.

Another idea would be to take a look for Null Profusion, and a card that will allow you to give it to your opponent (rare, but I'm sure they exist). Null Profusion in your opponent's control, combined with Underworld Dreams on your side, will make it so that every time your opponent plays a card, they draw another and take damage for it.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 14, 2008 11:56 pm 
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Mahurangi wrote:
I only mentioned it because unfortunately it is relevant to deck building: what other cards you use depends on which of the 9 you have in a blue/black deck that relies on playing a lot of cards in a turn to win.
No! Therein lies the path to madness! If you cling to the Power 9 to make your deck work, you will only lust after the other seven and wish you had another $1000 to spend on cards!

The truth is, every deck works better with five Moxes, a Black Lotus and maybe an Ancestral Recall thrown in for good measure. That doesn't mean you need them to play the game! I have very effective decks that don't include any card over $20. Can I beat someone with a $2000 uber-deck? Not on your life... but that's perfectly fine. I have no desire to play against the no-life my-Magic-deck-cost-more-than-my-car crowd.

Mahurangi wrote:
Personally, I'd just like a deck that works. Mine never has properly since 97 - I've had a few games since then, but the pace of games has sped up so much since Revised that I've had to rethink everything and haven't got it right yet.
Maybe your idea of "deck that works" differs from mine. I have very inexpensive decks that work just fine. They're fun to play and can put up a fight against a typical player.

Also, you sound like you only have one deck and have pinned all your hopes and dreams on it. Most people I know have a dozen or more. Some of mine are lean and mean for tournament-style play, others just generate freaky combos that nobody would expect to encounter. Just make some fun decks and play them for fun. If you can only be happy by having THE most powerful deck in existence, then sell your car or get a second job and complete your Power 9. Get a complete set of Dual Lands while you're at it, because you'll never be happy with less.

Mahurangi wrote:
I agree that probably the best thing to do with old cards is sell them. My Mishra's Workshop cost me about US$15 and is now worth around US$230 last time I looked; but for every story like that there'll be an opposite one - I know I used to have a Bazaar of Baghdad back in the days when it was considered worthless, and now it is worth almost as much as a Workshop.
Don't sell the cheap ones. You can't get anything for them anyway. Just get rid of the big ticket items and invest in cards that are fun.

Mahurangi wrote:
Also agree that the amount of fun you get is not proportional to the money spent. That's kind of why I raised the topic - if an Underworld Dreams deck doesn't work these days without the fast power 9 mana and Ancestral Recall then I'm certainly not spending a fortune on getting them.
Underworld Dreams is legal for standard tournaments right now and I'm certain there are people using it. None of these decks include Ancestral Recall, Moxes or Lotuses and I bet people still win with them.

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"It is to be expected that we will run out of fossil fuels before we run out of optimists, who are, along with fools and madmen, a renewable resource." - Dmitry Orlov


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2008 2:24 am 
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Thanks Keldane, that list is very helpful. I have a Library of Leng - one of my fave bits of artwork in the game.

Venator - I see your point better now. And while it is true that all decks work better with Mox mana, it is also true that some decks don't work well enough without 'em. It depends on what you want to do. As I settled on my deck theme ten years ago, I could make it work in the slower environment without depending so much on fast mana. Things have sped up now. I consider myself very lucky to own the one power 9 I think my deck really needs (Timetwister - without it I find it too hard to get my draw-7 sequence going that kills the opponent), and that's only because I've owned magic cards for a long time and was able to pick one up (relatively) cheap.

I could always change my deck or get a new one. But I really can't be bothered - I just want a deck that's fine for not-too-competitive play, that can win now and again against most opposition decks. So I think we agree on what "makes a deck work". It's just that I have an old deck that has been haphazardly updated, and I was wondering if it was still viable. My hunch is that it is, although without moxes it will never win a tournament. That's fine with me. But I haven't kept up with the recent sets, so I don't know if new stuff just wastes it.

So long as no one is snobby about their expensive decks (both ways, actually - it's equally daft to gloat about how you just overran someone's expensive deck with your commons) it's still a great game to play. I'd just like to win a game now and then!


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2008 3:25 am 
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Keldane wrote:
Another idea would be to take a look for Null Profusion, and a card that will allow you to give it to your opponent (rare, but I'm sure they exist).
A blue Sorcery called Donate (Urza's Destiny Rare) can do this.

Tcgplayer.com lists five serious competition decks that use Underworld Dreams as a sideboard card, but not in the main deck. They may provide some inspiration.
There is also one deck there submitted by a community member that is Blue/Black and uses 4 Underworld Dreams in the main deck (the one called "Yes Cards No Cards"). That one could be good or bad, but it shares some of the qualities of your deck.

Mahurangi wrote:
It's just that I have an old deck that has been haphazardly updated, and I was wondering if it was still viable. My hunch is that it is, although without moxes it will never win a tournament.
Well, if you DO want to win tournaments, you could just build a version of the deck for the "Standard" format that mere mortals play. Nobody has Moxes there so you won't be at a disadvantage. (And the mere mortals won't be crushed by your Timetwister.) Standard tournaments are by far the easiest ones to find too.

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"Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do." - Voltaire
"It is to be expected that we will run out of fossil fuels before we run out of optimists, who are, along with fools and madmen, a renewable resource." - Dmitry Orlov


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2008 2:53 pm 
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Venator wrote:
A blue Sorcery called Donate (Urza's Destiny Rare) can do this.

Ooh, nice catch. Thanks for the tip, Venator.

Hmm... This has inspired me to create a new deck... I should probably make my own thread for that, though.

Edit: Forced Fruition. It may cost a total of 6 mana to get it into play, and I don't see any reason why you can't achieve that by turn 4, theoretically speaking.


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