Fate Reforged: Multiplayer Edition

Posted in Serious Fun on January 20, 2015

By Bruce Richard

Bruce's games invariably involve several friends, crazy plays, and many laughs. Bruce believes that if anyone at your table isn't having fun, then you are doing it wrong.

With each new set, I like to take a look at the cards to see how they function in multiplayer games. I'm looking for that card that gets an extra benefit in games with multiple players. Whisperwood Elemental is a great card, but it doesn't get better with extra opponents. I want cards that go from good to great, or great to awesome, simply because there are more opponents.

Daghatar the Adamant

The first thing I thought of when I saw this card was, "How do I pronounce Daghatar?" I hope we get a pronunciation guide on the Adamant One soon, because I intend to be casting him a lot. The second thing I thought was, "I hope this card is good, because art that amazing shouldn't be wasted on something that's buried in your collection." Zack Stella's art is getting more and more impressive!

Daghatar the Adamant starts out as a 4/4 with vigilance for only four mana. That's when things get all kinds of multiplayer friendly. His ability lets you move +1/+1 counters from one creature to another. Plenty of other cards do that, but few let you move those counters from a creature you don't control, to one you do. This ability can put a serious hurt on a lot of multiplayer decks. I don't recall the last game I played where someone didn't have a +1/+1 counter on a creature. And with bolster being one of the new mechanics, you can count on that happening more and more. Daghatar and a hexproof creature, or a creature with evasion, and things can get miserable fast for your opponents.

I also revel in the idea of moving counters from one opposing creature to another in combat. An opponent attacks with a 3/3 creature into a 2/3 creature. You move a +1/+1 counter from another creature onto the 2/3 creature, killing the 3/3 in combat. After combat, you move the counter again, and the 2/3 then dies. A double win for you!

When you glance at the card, it appears to only fit into Abzan decks, but remember the hybrid mana for the activation cost can be all black or all green, so Daghatar the Adamant works in Orzhov and Selesnya decks too.

Other subtle options with constantly-shifting counters are the Doubling Season-style cards. When you move the counters, Doubling Season doubles them for you. Move a counter off your Hooded Hydra to Daghatar, giving him two counters. Remove one from Daghatar, giving Hooded Hydra two counters.

The downside to Daghatar is the activation cost. Three mana to move one counter is pricey. Often, you're not going to be able to shift more than a couple of counters. However, there are plenty of ways to reduce activation costs, if you're really determined.

Tasigur, the Golden Fang

I do love political cards. And when it comes to multiplayer games, Tasigur is politics! In a head-to-head game, you activate the ability and know that you are going to get what the opponent believes is the worst nonland card in your graveyard. Your opponent has no incentive to give you good cards. You are going to use those cards against him or her eventually, so why give you something good?

In multiplayer games, you just need to find the right opponent. If you have three opponents and one of them has some particularly powerful artifacts, you can probably find an opponent who will put that Naturalize back into your hand again and again. If you and one opponent each have a single large flier, you are protecting everyone at the table. Neither you nor your opponent will use the flier to attack, since you know that doing so will leave you open to being attacked by the other's opposing flier. If your creature dies, you'll probably be able to find an opponent who will put that Big Ugly back in your hand, knowing that it saves everyone from getting attacked by the remaining flier.

Ain't politics grand?

Tasigur, the Golden Fang is also a great way to fill your graveyard for fun recursion tricks, or to delve out other cards in your deck. With a little work, you can force your opponent to give you very particular cards.

Humble Defector

I spent an entire article talking about the joys of Humble Defector and how to maximize his unique set of skills for your advantage. I was remiss in not discussing the most obvious option for Humble Defector: Zedruu.

Zedruu lets you pass the Humble Defector to an opponent, and you'll get cards and life in return, all while giving your opponent good feelings…you hope.

Ben (@bccarlso on Twitter) recommended his list as a mostly tried-and-true option, and it looked like something I could really get behind.

Zedruu

Download Arena Decklist
COMMANDER: Zedruu the Greathearted
99 Cards

Ben focuses on getting Solitary Confinement and Sunforger going, which allows him to provide only the finest gifts from Zedruu to Ben's "friends."

Mob Rule

The obvious comparison is with multiplayer all-star Insurrection. Insurrection usually ends games, or at least brings them near to an end very quickly. No one has creatures to block with, so the player casting Insurrection simply sends enough power at each player, greater than each life total. Insurrection is often a one-card combo in games. I don't like the card. If the other players don't have a counter, you lose. I like games where the board state builds and you see incremental changes. Dropping a two-card instant-win combo just feels dirty, stealing away the fun of a building tension. Insurrection feels the same way. Eight mana gets you all of the creatures untapped, with haste, under your control.

I understand that eight mana (three of them red) is a lot of mana. When a player reaches those kinds of numbers, everyone should be ready for that play. I still don't like it.

Mob Rule is Insurrection, but with the fun. There are games where taking all the big creatures (or all the small creatures) will guarantee you the win just as crushingly as Insurrection. However, many other games will leave you with fewer opponents, but still plenty of game to play.

Mob Rule is better in multiplayer games for the same reason Insurrection is better in multiplayer games: with multiple opponents, Mob Rule is less likely to miss. You can always run into opponents who are playing fewer creatures. Perhaps they are milling you out, or still controlling the game with a couple of creatures and bounce. Mob Rule with these players only hits for a few damage in these situations. With multiple players, there are always players with plenty of creatures on the battlefield. Multiplayer games lend themselves to bigger board states and more creatures. When you have a card that steals multiple creatures, multiplayer games are where you want to be!

Supplant Form

After just saying in Mob Rule that cards that steal multiple cards are great in multiplayer, what is Supplant Form doing in this list? While it only "takes" one creature, it still takes the best one, and multiplayer games are bound to give you more options worthy of six mana.

The joy of Supplant Form is that it is so much more than just another Clone variant:

  • It's instant-speed bounce when you really need it. You can bounce an attacking creature or potential blocker. You can bounce one of your creatures that's about to die. You can bounce an opponent's token creature, and it is effectively exiled.
  • It's instant-speed copying when you need it. You can get any "enters the battlefield" trigger at instant speed. You can copy your legend and have the original back in your hand, ready to go back into play whenever you want.
  • It's a flash creature when you want it. Want to surprise your opponents with an attack? Copy a creature on your last opponent's end step. Flash in a creature to surprise an attacker.

The flexibility of Supplant Form is undeniable.

Mindscour Dragon

Mindscour Dragon reminds me of Teneb, the Harvester or Numot, the Devastator. Both are dragons that prey on the weak to attack the strong. A 4/4 flying creature will usually be able to find a vulnerable opponent in a four- or five-player game. A four- or five-player game also tends to have a player that you just can't attack. Whether it's a wall of creatures, Propaganda effects, or a combination of the two, you just can't break through. Where Teneb lets you take cards from any graveyard (and use them against that powerhouse opponent), Mindscour forces any player to mill four cards.

Mindscour Dragon forces opponents to try to figure out a way to stretch their defenses to help even the most helpless player on the board, or they may suffer. I'm not saying that Mindscour Dragon is going to win you games because of its ability to mill four cards when it does combat damage. But add in a few more mill cards to your deck, and suddenly players are forced to defend themselves from an angle they hadn't considered.

Fascination

And since we were just talking about milling, Fascination is another multiplayer option. One option is to have each player mill X cards. Decks that run opponents out of libraries in multiplayer were rarely good, since most of the cards only milled one player. Lately, many of the milling cards have gone after every player, making mill decks more viable than they once were. Just look at Altar of the Brood in Khans of Tarkir to see how mill decks are going.

The joy of Fascination lies in the flexibility. The ability to give every player X cards is something that would rarely be chosen. Giving all your opponents access to more information only puts you more at risk than you would have been had you not cast the card. However, adding that option means you can force opponents to draw cards, perhaps when they don't want to, or create a situation where you can force them to discard cards. There are plenty of options that making drawing several cards very painful, and Fascination becomes another option for those decks.

Ugin, the Spirit Dragon

Finally, I need to include Ugin, the Spirit Dragon. If you question his value in multiplayer games, consider Pernicious Deed. The Deed can take out artifacts, enchantments, and creatures that cost X or less. Ugin does the same for ANY COLORED PERMANENT! He takes out Planeswalkers and even lands, assuming you can find a way to make them a color (hello Painter's Servant). The ability to reset the board again and again is a useful tool, as any opponent will be reluctant to even play out cards, knowing they will quickly be destroyed. And if you thought your more expensive permanents were safe, keep in mind Ugin starts with 7 loyalty. That takes out most everything immediately, and everything after just a few turns.

Fate Reforged promises to be an exciting set for casual players. With two sets of legendary creatures, Dragons, and game-changing spells, there is something for the Timmy and Johnny in each of us. I can't wait for the chance to get some of these cards into decks as soon as possible.

Bruce Richard

@manaburned

mtgseriousfun@gmail.com

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