Trading Blows with Tools

Posted in Serious Fun on May 18, 2010

By Adam Styborski

Stybs has played Magic the world over, writing and drafting as part of the event coverage team and slinging Commander everywhere his decks will fit.

Do you remember when you first started playing Magic? I'm sure you probably remember who taught you the rules, shared some cards, showed off some decks, and excitedly wrangled you into the wonderful world of slinging cardboard. I would also venture a wager that the first Magic product you bought was some combination of the latest set: what everyone else was happily cracking open you jumped right into as well. It's natural to want to get into the latest—it's exactly what I did with my very first purchase—but buying a few booster packs of one set won't give you the base to build a variety of decks.

Which is where we left off last week: I had taken a pretty normal "starting pool" for jumping into Magic and used The Deck Builder's Toolkit to work through the suggested process included to transform a handful of the cards that I found interesting into a fully fleshed out 60-card deck. The final stage of this evolution is to continue it. By playing the deck and thinking about where it could use a little boost we'll be able to continue the process of shifting and choosing cards. The end result is a deck that consistently does exactly what you want. The road you take there is one all your own choosing Momir Vig would be proud.

Take a moment to jump back to last week, where I shared my six packs of Rise of the Eldrazi then provided my completed deck, post-Toolkit. Once you've seen what I did, below is the short version of what everyone else was up to. If you're not interested in poring over the starters and final deck lists then scroll down to hit the game report—how everything shook out in the showdown, as well as even more information on the Toolkit.

Don's Sealed Starter

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Don's Toolkit Deck

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Don is a straightforward kind of guy and, as you can see, Don went with a straightforward route, similar to mine, albeit with some twists. Eldrazi Conscription looked to be a promising tag for any critter while his mana ramping efforts with Rampant Growth and Growth Spasm seemed solid to ensure a hearty Eldrazi would be able to join play. The similarity in relying on red to bring removal—Lightning Bolt, Flame Slash, and Heat Ray—is there too. While the idea of running red and green seems to imply similarities it's clear that the ramping and top end baddies are a little different, and better, for Don. Similar also means "not quite the same."

Sebastian Sealed Starter

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Sebastian's Toolkit Deck

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Sebastian is a little over 10 years old and comes with a bundle of energy for Magic. He has had some help and direction from his father, Don, and joined in multiplayer battling with some of us once before. However, building his own deck, his own way was a new experience for him. Aside from the "There's so much cool stuff!" excitement he asked us a great question: "Does my deck have to have only 60 cards?" Our answer as a group reflected what the Toolkit suggests: having fewer total cards means you'll get the cards your looking for more often as consistency in playing a deck comes from both having multiple copies (redundancy) and reducing the different cards to the minimum you feel comfortable reaching (variation). Sebastian kept one extra card in his deck when cutting down towards 60—a move we all agreed was perfectly fine as it's what he wanted to do anyway.

Moreover, Sebastian took a very different approach and made a fun white weenie style deck, except Knight of Cliffhaven can quickly become very un-weenie in size in a hurry. With some protection tricks and pump effects, Sebastian had one of the more dynamic decks among us, created of his own will, with just a darling of experience.

Brendan's Sealed Starter

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Brendan's Toolkit Deck

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Brendan, too, had a red and green approach but it was a decidedly different twist to both mine and Don's approach: Brendan had cooked up a token oriented deck filled with Eldrazi Spawn generators, and a Broodwarden to match, and other "make a critter, get more critters" cards with Avenger of Zendikar and Kazandu Tuskcaller being the flagships of this theme. Supporting it with an Overrun made sense—and deeply frightened us all. Complicating matters was that even if we could somehow keep his tokens in check, Fireball was always lurking just below.

Chris's Sealed Starter

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