Serious // Fun

Posted in Serious Fun on November 21, 2006

By The Ferrett

Cackling Imp
What is fun?

It's a pretty simple question, but almost nobody can answer it.

What is fun?

Everybody knows when they're having it, of course, but that's a very personal thing; quite often, one person's “fun” is another person's misery, as anyone who's ever played against a Stasis deck knows.

What is fun?

Too many people think that their definition of “fun” is universal, but trust me – I've been writing Magic articles for over six years now, and I'm still surprised by what other people get a kick out of. So it's hard to tell what fun is.

But you know what's even harder? What's not fun.

Lemme give you a (comparatively) short list of things that you might run into in the course of a Magic game; I guarantee you that someone reading these words has a very strong opinion on why these are Not Fun.

  • Combo decks
  • Combo decks that you've seen before
  • Counterspells
  • Global removal
  • Control decks
  • Decks that win with fatties
  • Decks that win with weenies
  • That stupid, overpowered card that no right-thinking person should play in their deck (“What? Skullclamp?”)
  • That stupid, underpowered card that no right-thinking player should play, because and why don't you just play with good cards?
  • Decks that have too many rares in them
  • Decks that have too many commons in them yet beat the decks with too many rares in them
  • Decks that are more powerful than the decks I can afford to play (which is not the same as “decks with rares,” if you own older cards)
  • Decks that aren't nearly as powerful as the decks I can afford to play (Some people like a challenge.)
  • Decks that are too predictable
  • Decks that are too unpredictable
  • Decks that are taken from the Internet
  • Decks that are too simple, because anyone could have built them
  • Decks that win too much
  • Decks that don't win often enough
  • Decks that only won because you talked everyone else into ganging up on your opponents

As the editor of and a long-time Magic player, I've seen people go off on vitriolic rants on every one of these subjects. Clearly, the best way to devise a fun deck is to make an unpredictably predictable deck that's almost as powerful as every deck that it could ever face so that it can sorta-win but not always, and nobody should have ever thought of before but isn't something so simple that anyone could have thought of it.

Oh, and it can't win through combo, control, or creatures. I'll get right on that.

Allied_StrategiesThe boon of playing Magic is that it's fun for all kinds of people. In fact, we have four classic methods of enjoyment, all battling it out in the arena: Timmy, who loves to win with 13/13 tramplers; Johnny, who wants to pull off some crazy combo that nobody was expecting; Spike, who wants to win, period; and Vorthos, who wants to imagine vast armies struggling for dominance when he plays.

That makes Magic wonderful. Unlike simpler games, it allows Magic to attract all sorts of people, each of whom mines a different type of enjoyment from the game. That pulls more players in, and makes the game more popular, and means that you can find people to play with.

Unfortunately, it makes finding common ground really tricky, because the very cards that attract Spike are the ones that turn off Timmy, and Johnny cards usually aren't Vorthos-friendly.

Some folks have chastised me, both via private email and the forums, for valuing power over fun. “You build these decks that just concentrate on winning,” they say, which confuses me; it's not like my decks are unstoppable juggernauts (just ask my friends, who've smashed me any number of times). And I can't understand why I should try to feature decks that aren't as good as I can make them; if you're looking to build silly decks filled with one-ofs and containing no particular avenue to victory, you can do that without my help at all.

But I think what they're really saying, in a roundabout way, are two very important things:

“Your decks would beat my decks too consistently.”


“I don't find the way your decks win to be interesting.”

I can do almost nothing about either of those, sadly.

The fact is that power is tied to fun in ways that we cannot understand. Nobody wants to play with sucko cards that do nothing, so a fun card has to have a little bit of force to back it up. You'll never hear someone raving about this:

“I was there, my back against the wall, facing down an army of Saprolings. The next turn, he would smash me. I drew my card, bringing it up slowly to see what I got… And it was Moonlace! He killed me the next turn, of course.”

But you want surprise in your fun. You'll rarely hear people raving about this play, either:

“There I was, piloting an army of Saprolings, and I was about to win the next turn. Then I drew a card that guaranteed I'd win! Wow! What a great play!”

The problem is that one man's dramatic reversal is another man's completely unfair loss to an overpowered card OMGWTFBBQ. The difference between “Wow, what an awesome reversal of fortunes!” and “How the heck can you feel good about such a cheap play?” is almost entirely based upon the level of play you're used to. That's one of the big problems with casual in general, since every group of players has a different dynamic and a different card pool; I'm used to shrugging off attacks from fourth-turn Darksteel Colossuses and Rorix Bladewings, but a newer group of players might not have the cards or the experience to deal with it. And what fun would that be, losing all the time?

It's simply not possible to develop decks that are balanced for every playgroup. And decks that win or lose all the time simply aren't fun for anyone. (Except masochists. And they're probably off playing some other card game. Zing!)

What is fun when it comes to casual, though?

Phantom Wurm
The answer, I think, lies in partially being able to lose with a smile. That pretty much leaves poor Spike out of it, since his modus operandi is to win… But I think even Spike can appreciate the hilarity of an 84/82 Doubling Cubed Phantom Wurm that can't attack because it's not big enough to kill the other players. (And yeah, that happened.)

I think that fun involves being able to laugh as you watch your hard-earned lead evaporate – because even though you're suddenly behind the eight-ball, you totally didn't expect to lose in that way, to something so unique and fresh and silly that you never saw it coming. You have to look at your imminent demise and think, “Well, if I gotta go… That's the way to do it.”

(And if you're winning? Well, it's even cooler.)

I also think that fun involves interaction. You may have never seen the Izzet Guildmage/Desperate Ritual/Lava Spike infinite damage combo, but it's not something you have much of a chance against. If the first spell resolves with the Guildmage still on the table, it's not fun.

…Unless, of course, it comes from a guy who was literally going to die the next turn to not one, but two Sliver decks working in conjunction, and it was One Lone Wizard pulling off a victory from a single life, triumphing against the Horde of Slivers Who Had Decimated Three Other Players Before Them.

Then it's the coolest thing in the frickin' world… At least to Vorthos.

So what's fun? You're gonna debate whether it's fun. Maybe you can even tell me something more fun you've done in the forums.

But for now? We have this.

Maybe Fun Is….

…Infinite Removal With A Slow, Silly Combo?

“Mangara + Flickerform = 2WW: remove target permanent from the game. And to think! None of this would have been possible if development had just put the colon four words later! How can you not love a card like that?” –Stefan Walberg

I gotta say, Stefan. It's fun. But I don't know how often you could pull it off, since it's probably a little fragile and a lot slow.

But dang, if you somehow managed to kill me with that, I'd be grinnin'.

…Staying Under The Radar?

Vesuvan Shapeshifter
Vesuvan Shapeshifter can change a game quickly and effectively without making a splash. The first Darksteel Colossus was shocking, the second one was annoying.

“Whoever played the creature first has effectively accomplished two tasks, they have set the standard for what is fat, and they have de-sensitized the board to what you're about to unleash.”
–Adam Hill

Mildly fun. The fact that you keep your copy of the creature is entertaining (people usually prefer to kill the original before the copy, weirdly enough), and it's an excellent political analysis, but it's not monkeys.

Why monkeys? Monkeys are fun. You can't think of monkeys without laughing. Every game of Magic should be as fun as a barrel of monkeys, preferably live ones.

In fact, from now on, I'm rating all of these cards on the monkey scale. Take that, Alongi! Screw your “Rattlesnake” and “Cockroach” comparisons! Monkeys in yo' face!

Monkeys: One mangy chimp in a zoo!

…Playing With Pure Cowards?

“The best Time Spiral multiplayer card is….

Norin the Wary!!!

“I admit I laughed out loud the first time my eyes looked upon this scared little fellow, as many others did. But the power he brings to the multiplayer table is undeniable. The most obvious of advantages he possesses is his uncanny ability to avoid removal. He cannot be removed by any removal spell. Not even if it involves the Wrath of God. And the most sudden Sudden Death will fail, for not even a split-second spell can kill this cautious little fellow. Unfortunately, for as leery as Norin may be, any Tim sitting across the table from him can end his life in one little poke (since abilities don't seem to scare him), and, of course, he never likes it when Night of Souls' Betrayal.

Norin the Wary
“Now for some people his incredible inability to die may be entertaining enough to warrant multiplayer, but his strange inability to actually do something (say .. attack or block?) might turn some people away. And that's where his comes-into-play repeatability saves him. And specifically, it's the last part that specifies you should “return it to play under its owner's control” that makes him amazing (assuming you managed to read that far while laughing). Which brings in one of the most powerful advantages he has: his color. If I seem to remember correctly, there is some incredibly fun red multiplayer enchantment from Mirrodin that involves creatures coming into play .... Confusion in the Ranks is what makes Norin into a multiplayer bomb, since we can count on this faithful little fellow coming back to us at the end of the turn, bringing with him the best creature on the table.

“It should be safe to assume that every turn a player will want to either play a spell or attack, so you can count on him taking a creature every turn. This does some incredibly strange things to the board when every opponent realizes that when they play their Darksteel Colossus and send “poor little Norin” running off the table, they might as well have just Donated you their finisher (with the exception of that amazingly self-centered Pristine Angel).

“As Confusion in the Ranks is an obviously good choice, his comes-into-play-ness can be a valuable asset to many deck ideas.

Pandemonium puts a player on a ten-turn clock. And if we look at some other colors, Death Match keeps the board clean of little guys. Or your Juniper Order Ranger could gain a counter at the end of every turn. A Soul Warden could even bump up your life total little by little.

“But the first thing Norin will always bring with him is a good laugh. Just think of how the multiplayer table will react with your first-turn Norin the Wary. How could a deck like that not be (serious) fun?”
–Nathan Sanders

I gotta say that I have laughed at seeing Norin the Wary. I own a copy, for I got him fifteenth-pick in a draft. How could people pass on power like that? I held it up to the table, shouting, “What were you people thinking? Now I win the game!”

But that said, I've actually played against Norin. And he's not as fun as you'd think he would be, at least in the two obvious combos he has. I've played against the Confusion in the Ranks, and having someone steal all of my best stuff? Not as fun as you'd hope! And the Pandemonium combo, while entertaining, is more of a power play.

Thus, I'd say that Norin is fun if you don't play with Confusion in the Ranks or Pandemonium. If someone can come up with a deck that abuses Norin for some other reason, why, I'd laugh until my head exploded.

With Confusion in the Ranks: Curious George Without Confusion in the Ranks or Pandemonium, but the deck somehow manages to win: King frickin' Kong. Skating.

…Forcing An Arms Race Without Being Blamed For It?

Wheel of Fate
“I think that Wheel of Fate is the best multiplayer card of Time Spiral, and here's why: it's going to force people to play spells. Everyone is going to be thinking “Dang, my hand is going to go away in four turns; I might as well play everything I can while I have the chance.” And that is bound to lead to fun of some sort. Sitting around and staring at everyone else waiting for someone to do something is not that much fun (because my friends are ugly, but I didn't say that). When people start unloading on each other, things are bound to get interesting.

“And this plays into the second reason why the Wheel is The Best Multiplayer Card in Time Spiral. It is not an obvious threat to anyone. Sure, cards like Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir or Kaervek the Merciless or Deep-Sea Kraken get more powerful with more people, but all they're doing is painting a target on your forehead that say, “Kill me, plzthx.” Kaervek especially is just going to make everybody furious at you. Not a lot of decks can handle four to five people being furious at you.

“Now, how this connects to reason 1 is simple; it is all relating to politics. With everyone casting spells everywhere, toes are undoubtedly going to be stepped on. Eventually, someone is going to do something silly like pull out an Akroma and now everyone is going to be angry at that guy – but they probably won't be mad at you, even though you're the one that pretty much forced him into bringing it out.

“Of course, everyone else is dropping their bombs as well. They don't want to get behind on the arms race either. So, here comes the Colossus and Dakkon and all of their big fatty friends and now everyone is just going to be angry with each other and it's at this point that whoever is deemed the most or least threatening is going to get splatted. If you can play your cards right, you won't fall into either of those categories and you can just let everyone kill each other for you.

“And that's the key right there. It's a card with a huge (albeit mostly intangible) effect but without the side effect of getting your ass kicked after you play it. And that's just in a Chaos situation. It can easily be just as useful in a team environment. I don't even want to know about what kind of ridiculousness it can start when combined with things like Niv-Mizzet, Megrim, Underworld Dreams, madness, and what have you.”
–Skyler Jones

When I discussed multiplayer threat assessment a few weeks ago, people bitterly complained how some multiplayer games were slow. Apparently, there are whole tables where everyone turtles up, refusing to attack anyone for fear of retaliation!

I agree! That's no fun at all. That's zero monkeys. The fun of multiplayer comes from when someone takes a big chance and it either succeeds wildly or blows up in their face – and if everyone's waiting for The Perfect Moment, nothing happens.

Wheel of Fate is a veritable monkey engine. It can speed up games that would otherwise be as boring as watching paint dry, forcing people's hands because they won't have hands when it's done. Anything that encourages people to get out from behind their walls and start swinging with everything they have is a good time; may I suggest combining this with Grand Melee to get the party really started?

The only thing that makes this slightly less simian-licious is the stupid control and combo players. Handing a guy a fresh set of Counterspells involves no monkeys at all. Thus, the monkey rating must be knocked down a peg.

Monkeys: Two of them, swinging on a tire.

Except if you do this:

“Now that you've cast all of your good spells and exhausted yourselves, I'll Remand my own Wheel of Fate.”

Monkeys: A tribe of orangutans, hooting and hollering at your treeemendous play!

….Standing Alone Before The Best Armies Your Friends Have To Offer And Laughing??

“Multiplayer Magic is all about deception, intrigue, and screwing one guy over early in the game because he did the same to you last week with his stupid first-turn Tinker-Darksteel Colossus deck. When you're playing in a multiplayer melee its no longer a wizard's duel: you have engaged in an all-out war. Alliances are forged, treaties are broken, prisoners are tortured, and media networks are paid off to hide the sordid affairs of your trusted advisors.

“Most importantly, players will beg and threaten for you to aid or harm the opponents they want you to. But this is war.

Curse of the Cabal
“This brings me to Curse of the Cabal. For starters, your opponents can't counter it when you suspend it. Slam it on the table like a U.N. Resolution and watch your opponents begin to barter and discuss your intention. What makes this such a vicious play in multiplayer? When you suspend it, you don't choose your target. The player who will receive your curse will be chosen when the Curse resolves.

“Let the negotiations begin.

“You are now North Korea. You have told the world you have a nuclear bomb and you will use it if they don't wipe you off the map first. This gives your opponents several options:

  1. Bribe you into not targeting them.
  2. Bribe you into targeting someone else.
  3. Sacrifice permanents every turn to put counters on the spell.

“Each of these situations helps you out. If they bribe you, then hey, you get something out of it and you can always target them anyways because you're a Black Mage and therefore a rotten SOB. If your opponents sacrifice their permanents in fear this adds a new layer of intrigue. Which of them does the sacrificing? Do they all do it? If only one does it who decides? Do they take turns? Oh the humanity!

“But you can't win a war with just one nuke, so let's see what the arsenal looks like. Since Kamigawa I have built all my multiplayer decks to be B/W Block Constructed. I have some vintage and legacy multiplayer decks but I like the flavor of a Block Constructed deck and the feel of it in a casual Wizard's War.

North Korea Has Nukes.dec

Download Arena Decklist

“This deck is going to annoy a lot of your friends in multiplayer. Let's start with a turn-one Restore Balance. You just told your opponents that in six turns they're all going back to the Stone Age. Follow that up with a turn-two Phthisis. So now, the most powerful creature that survives the reckoning of Balance is going to get roasted as well. Your opponents have five turns to make their pleas or take you down. How do you survive?

“You send Angel's Grace, Darkness, Sudden Death, and Smallpox to the rescue. Back them up with a small army of Nether Traitors and Serra Avengers. Cycle Nether Traitors in and out of the ‘yard with Smallpox.

“Then comes the apocalypse. You resolve Balance and Phthisis and everyone hates you. How do we amend the situation? With everyone helpless, we put a lonely little morphed creature into play. Then suspend the Cabal Curse and everyone will be too preoccupied to worry about your hidden Liege of the Pit.

Curse of the Cabal will have your opponents reeling after trying to recover from Balance. No one will want to play anything too threatening for fear of the curse. Then simply beat your opponents down with Liege of the Pit while cycling two Nether Traitors to keep him appeased.”
–Rich Stein

Hey, I thought this was supposed to be fun!

You get no monkeys. You're the anti-monkey. You're like, an ostrich or something – whatever the opposite of monkey is.

In fact, I don't even know why I included you in here, Rich. It's almost as if I meant to include this bit with last week's discussion of Curse of the Cabal and forgot about it, then cunningly cut-and-pasted your deck into this week's article so it made it in here somewhere

…but an official writer for wouldn't do such a shoddy job, would he?


Monkeys: Rich is the walrus. Goo goo g'joob.

Curse of the Cabal for the win? Well, maybe not, but to scare people [expletive deleted], Curse of the Cabal is a must.”
–Alex Cook


Restore Balance is best, by a yard.
Once suspended, it makes the game hard.
Every player must count
To find each type's amount,
And then re-count with every played card.”


Dear Seth,

If a thousand monkeys were at a thousand typewriters, I doubt they'd be able to write anything as cool as this. The card? Not too monkeyriffic. But a limerick to defend your card of choice?

Suffice it to say that I went ape.

The Ferrett

….Messing With People's Minds?

Restore Balance
Restore Balance is the best multiplayer card in Time Spiral, not because of its effect, but because it'll make everyone else crazy in anticipation of the effect. I mean really, isn't messing with people's minds the best part of multiplayer?”
–Bunny Sword

Yes. But there are better ways to do it. You do, however, get a monkey for having the name “Bunny Sword.”

…Not Winning?

“Before I let you return to your regularly scheduled perusal of unsolicited (or so you say) junk emails claiming they have the all natural method of male enhancement, or that they can help you meet “Hot Sexy Latinas in your Area,” I have a suggestion that may afford you just as much entertainment as you get on Thursday nights at 8/7 Central.

“Suspend Wheel of Fate. Go on, do it. You'll see the most insane song and dance there's ever been. Every time, guaranteed.

“You see, most of the no-cost suspenders only benefit you, so the likelihood of anyone caring whether or not Mono-Blue Control guy pops a Remand on you is quite low. In fact, most of them will paint a bigger target on your head than dropping Karma against a table full of hardcore Mono-Black Control and Rock players.

“But the difference is, when you suspend Wheel of Fate, everyone still has a stake in its resolving, but they all have different motives. Take for example, the eight-player free-for-all I was playing the other night. Turns one and two, I was looking pretty innocuous with a Skirk Prospector and a Sparksmith - nothing out of the ordinary. Turn three, I drop Goblin Sledder and suspend Wheel of Fate.

“Suddenly, the whole board goes crazy. Greg (MUC) looks at his hand and smiles (I can see the Remand dancing in his fingers). Mark (MWC) calls me some things that you can't post on, because it's a family site.

Forty turns of insanity ensued…

“Then, a funny thing happened. Steve gets his turn and starts laying down all of his white weenies and goes to the red line against Greg to try to stop him from countering the Wheel. Forty turns of insanity ensued (eight players times five turns, because of a stray Clockspinning). The control players did their darnedest to wipe me off the map. The aggro players used up what kill spells they had trying to protect me, knowing that the Wheel would put them up on threats and equal on cards.

“And who wound up winning? Not me. Not the control players. Not even the supercharged white weenies who laid down a hurting on the two control decks. Old crazy Karl won for the first time, using his homebrewed, five-color Lhurgoyf deck with Patriarch's Bidding.

“And that's why I say ‘Woo hoo!' for Wheel of Fate. Now back to your regularly scheduled advert for a free month of Vonage.
–Paul Barclay

Patriarch's Bidding
Oh, Paul. You came so close to inadvertently stepping on the spirit of the game. Like Charlie Bucket, you have touched my heart with your innocent generosity.

Look at the other nominees here. Look at how selfish their writings are. “You'll win with this.” “This spell will let you win.” But you – you giving man, you – nominated a card because it let someone else win, a loopy little deck that had no chance whatsoever otherwise to win in that sea of Counterspells and control. And in doing so, you proved Skyler Jones's point about Wheel of Fate shaking up established game plans.

It's so noble. “I did not win,” you tacitly admitted. “The right man did.” And for that, you are a monkey's uncle – and I mean that in the most positive way! You came within inches of winning this contest….


What? What card am I missing?

Oh yes. The actual winner.

Are Cards Fun?

Oh, I got entries. Look at these guys!

“The Evil Overlord is here to state his opinion on the best multiplayer card.

“I chose Hypergenesis, for 5 major reasons.

“1. It makes friends. In multiplayer the urge, and need, to enhance your own side of the board is far greater than in duels. Indeed where the duelist creates card advantage by gaining his and destroying his opponents cards, the multiplayer must advantage himself against many foes. This makes players very eager to gain any form of power. They will want the genesis to activate. At very least you will have a few temporary friends, who will keep you around as long as it's convenient.

“And if a player goes against it, usually the mono blue control abomination, then the others can easily identify and obliterate him. People react in a primal way when you take something from them, even if it might not even have happened or was a bad idea. In addition people will heap their creatures in their hands, because if the ‘genesis activates, the mono blue abomination cannot stop your creatures.

“And when it happens, it's Christmas! Everyone will like you for it. I refer to this as the Love Me! strategy.

“2. It has incredible synergy. Coupled with the Love Me! strategy, you could run cards such as Wheel of Fate and Vision Skeins to pump up other's hands along with yours. Their opinion of you can never be great enough. But besides that you can have massive card draws just before the activation or discard others' cards to create advantage.

“And the very nature of the card is for you to place better/larger creatures on the table than anyone else. This gives opportunity for some good deck design and forethought.

“3. It swarms the board. “With every player “layin' it down'” the game will be over in a flash, something that is sometimes sorely needed in multiplayer. And usually the types of characters at a multiplayer game would want the experience of seeing their hand on the table and having massive fights with their creatures. It makes playing interesting at very least.

Scion of the Wild
“In addition to this you can then use the number of creatures to your advantage. With Divine Congregation and Scion of the Wild you easily gain a very large advantage from having such a large hoard. The reverse of this, of course, is to eliminate the hoard. Wrath of God and Magus of the Disk will suddenly claim a very large prize.

“4. It reveals secrets. “Everyone will suddenly put down all their cards. Then everyone can see the one who still has six cards in hand is the one with the secrets, who must not be trusted or allowed to live. Also, you are then very able to gage the situation and create a win scenario quickly. It's an honest green card.

“5. It is repeatable. “When a game ends with everyone having played seven fatties and beating each other to a pulp, rather than the combo guy just saying ‘My opening hand was perfect!' everyone is happy. They will want to play multiplayer again, with you! – Something that is also sorely needed from time to time. And every time the card activates it might be a completely different story. Who knows what the others will have in their hands next time. After all ‘You only won ‘cause you had that Spectral Force in hand at the time.' They don't need to know the truth about 4 Spectral Force and 4 Greater Gargadon and…

And lastly the very point of multiplayer is for everyone to play together, and Hypergenesis does just that.”

A card that destroys mono-blue players and guys who want to retain power? Gosh, that does sound fun! Or how about this testimonial?

“It doesn't get old. Because there's so much to do with this card, and because you can run it in virtually any deck with green in it (just pair with the color or colors of your choice), this is not like your one-shot-combo deck that everyone is sick of and never lets you use again after they've all been killed by it once. They can hardly even blame you, because after all, they did CHOOSE to put their stuff into play off of it.

Platinum Angel
“Even better, because of the variety of things to do with the card, your opponents never really know whether they should drop stuff or not. It's a thinking card, a finesse card, and one with a lot of room for messing with your opponents' heads. And no matter how many times they've learned that they would have all been better off ignoring your Hypergenesis completely, there will always be at least one sucker who thinks that ‘this time will be different' and hands you their Platinum Angel. Again.

“Finally, Hypergenesis is a great multiplayer card because it can backfire in spectacular fashion. Yes, it's great for the game because it can turn on you. It fast-forwards a long game straight to the epic battle of seven- to fifteen-mana titans, and sometimes, you'll lose. But aside from the combos, it lets your group get at their inner Timmy, and, so long as you're the casual player who can stand to lose sometimes (which if you're playing in multiplayer, you'd better be) those games are often the best.”
–Brian Kennedy

Whoah. Nice stuff there, Brian. But the winner winner chicken dinner of the “Fun” side of the contest is…

“Hello Mr. Ferrett! Or can I call you ‘The'?

“I am excited about your approach to multiplayer and Time Spiral has a lot of new tools for us Johnnies (a.k.a., “target #1 at the gaming table”). To me, multiplayer is about wacky effects, huge messes, bad cards, and getting away with everything you could never do at a tournament. Multiplayer Magic isn't about a handful of counterspells and a Stalking Stones, or shutting your opponent down before he can actually play his deck. With these things in mind, a single card stands out as the best (“best” meaning “most fun”) card in Time Spiral. That card is the obvious – but incredibly fun – Hypergenesis.

Hypergenesis is the complete opposite of competitive magic, and embodies everything that makes multiplayer games a different and interesting experience. At the same time, it can be a very effective tool and *can* win you the game, but even if it doesn't, the rest of the game is sure to be fun once that spell hits the board.

“First, it has suspend – 3, which will make the following turns very interesting. Some players will try to kill you immediately, but the 3-mana cost lets Hypergenesis come down before they can amass an unstoppable army and crush you. At the same time, some players will become your best buddy for three turns while they fill their hands with goodies and fill their minds with sick, sick plans.

“The same thing will happen after it hits; some players will punish you for the rest of the game, and some will thank you for letting them do something crazy.

“Second, Hypergenesis could have the following text: “Each player plays his or her deck.” It sounds silly, but so much of competitive Magic is about not letting your opponent(s) play their deck. Through land destruction, counter magic, removal, bounce, or other effects, many strong decks focus on frustrating your opponent. You can win by watching your opponent stare at seven cards they will never get to use, while your Psychatog swings in the air, but that's really not what it's all about at the kitchen table. Hypergenesis is exactly the opposite; it says “Hey, your deck does something, my deck does something, let's do it!”

“Third, and most importantly, Hypergenesis changes the entire game state in a positive way. Armageddon or Wrath of God change things as well, but I look at those as negative changes in a multiplayer game; dragging the game out and setting everyone back is not nearly as fun as letting each person do their thing and seeing who comes out on top. There aren't many effects that will change the entire game for every player, without making them all groan, hate you, or glance at their watches.

You can do all sorts of crazy, powerful, and fun things with Hypergenesis: eating everyone else's hands first, using it with creatures like Blazing Archon or Hoverguard Sweepers, or following it up with a Blatant Thievery. That's good and fun, but honestly, if you really want to win the game, there are better ways to go. On the other hand, if you want to play a really fun game, a game where people say, ‘Hey do you remember the time you played Hypergenesis and we ended up with 37 slivers on the board?' no other card in Time Spiral can have that effect.

“Magic is about fun, Multiplayer is definitely about fun, and Hypergenesis is super fun. ‘Nuff said.”
- Jonathan Chase

Let me set that apart in a pull quote so even the guys who are skimming this will see it:

Hypergenesis is exactly the opposite; it says
“Hey, your deck does something, my deck does something, let's do it!”

I can get behind that. Too often, we're screwed by mana, or mass removal, or what-have-you, but Brian sums up what I want to see in a multiplayer game: people's decks working as well as they darn well can.

You win, sirrah. Take the prize. And God be with you.

You are the biggest ape of ‘em all.

Signing off,
The Ferrett

P.S. – My favorite letter, though?

“I'd like to leave you with my brief reason why My Name is Earl is the best show on tv:

“Jaime Pressly.”
–Jeff Chen

Too true, my friend. Too true.

P.P.S. – In the forum responses to last week's article, I promised a discussion about power. Then I ran out of words. I'll get to it Real Soon Now, I promise.

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