What’s Your Multiplayer IQ?

Posted in Serious Fun on December 13, 2005

By Anthony Alongi

Another Cosmic Larva Quiz for our readers!

Response to the first Cosmic Larva Quiz, this column's Magic-related response to the better known "Cosmo Quiz" of women's magazines, was tremendous. I have therefore resolved to beat this successful device into the ground, until you are all sick of it. Here's Quiz #2.

Quizzes in fashion magazines are always asking the irrelevant stuff: how much does your boyfriend like you? Are you a procrastinator or a doer? What does your belief in horoscopes say about your likelihood to die miserable and alone?

But not this quiz. This Cosmic Larva Quiz will ask the stuff that really matters. For today, it's all about knowing how to play against multiple opponents. Oh, also, it's about taking more gratuitous shots at tournament duel enthusiasts. (Nothing personal, guys – I just like throwing red meat out there from time to time.)

#1: What is the optimal number of opponents in a free-for-all multiplayer Magic game?

  1. Two, the minimum number.
  2. Four, since that sets up a comfortable pace without taking too long between turns.
  3. Nine, because taking turns more frequently than once every quarter hour is an intellectual burden.
  4. None. Um, isn't the point to win?
  5. Twenty, because the more opponents there are, the more chances you get to build really cool and intricate alliances with people to help you deal with all those extra enemies.

#2: Which Magic card best symbolizes your approach to multiplayer deck construction?

  1. Laughing Hyena – narrowly focused on being silly

    Laughing Hyena
  2. Spiteful Bully – narrowly focused on powerful cards

    Spiteful Bully
  3. Master Warcraft – narrowly focused on complex tactics and interactions

    Master Warcraft
  4. Scorched Earth – narrowly focused on destructive power

    Scorched Earth
  5. Political Trickery – narrowly focused on confusing opponents

    Political Trickery

#3: Which Magic card best symbolizes your approach to multiplayer deck play?

  1. Spiteful Bully – posing continual threats to the board

    Spiteful Bully
  2. Master Warcraft – analyzing threats and providing measured response

    Master Warcraft
  3. Scorched Earth – blowing everything up continually

    Scorched Earth
  4. Laughing Hyena – presenting opportunities for humor during the game

    Laughing Hyena
  5. Political Trickery – attempting to fool opponents into thinking you're not a threat

    Political Trickery

#4: If all five players have a single Grizzly Bears and someone attacks you with theirs on their turn, what do you do on your turn?

  1. Swing back, because the guy's gotta learn not to do that sort of thing.
  2. Nothing, because it's a long game and two damage doesn't mean anything.
  3. Nothing, because I blocked, thereby giving three other opponents an opportunity to smack me for two apiece as well.
  4. Swing at a different player, showing my carefree spirit.
  5. Swing back, because I have created a network of alliances whereby I have been assured by reliable sources that so-and-so won't attack me if I'm super-nice and get him an ice-cream cone later on in the evening.

#5: What is this?

  1. Why, that's a ferret, also known as mustela putorius furo – a weasellike, usually albino mammal related to the polecat and often trained to hunt rats or rabbits.
  2. Why, that's a Ferrett, a creature who enjoys playing Magic but still has difficulty grasping basic principles of multiplayer strategy. Why, he thinks that multiplayer is all about politics! Whadda rat.
  3. Why, that's a Ferrett, a creature who enjoys playing Magic and has it all right when it comes to basic principles of multiplayer strategy. Hey, didn't he have Anthony beat in a high-profile multiplayer game a few years ago, until someone interfered and proved that there is, in fact, politics in multiplayer?
  4. Why, I'm pretty sure that's a saproling token. Doesn't matter if it is or not – I'm printing out this page, cutting it out, making a trillion copies, and using it that way for my Doubling Season deck.
  5. Why, that's a Ferrett, a true idiot savant when it comes to multiplayer Magic. I must follow him and win him over to my side! Come back, pretty ferret, come back!

#6: Describe your reaction to an opponent's Wrath of God.

  1. "Phew, that was close! I was falling behind in board position."
  2. "I knew I shouldn't have played that extra creature! Now I only have one left in my hand to recover. Other players will have more."
  3. "But you killed my creature, which was pounding on you successfully! Why would you do that?
  4. "Counterspell."
  5. "HEEEEYYYY! We had a DEEEEEAL! You wouldn't blow up the board, and I wouldn't whine like a TRAAAAAAAAIN whistle!"

#7: Describe your reaction to an opponent's Armageddon.

  1. Beats on the caster.
  2. Beats on the caster.
  3. Beats on the caster.
  4. "Counterspell."
  5. "HEEEEYYYY! We had a DEEEEEAL! You wouldn't blow up all lands, and I would get to play my cool CREEEEEEEEATURES!"

#8: Who will survive the longest at this Magic free-for-all?

  1. The woman with the red hair, since she just played a huge white card like Balance.
  2. The woman standing, since she's obviously analyzing threats across the entire board.
  3. The guy closest to us, since he's sneaking peeks at Green Shirt's hand.
  4. Green Shirt, because he's about to open a can of whoop-ass on Mr. Peeks-a-Lot.
  5. The small woman in the blue shirt, since she's crouching down and making sure no one notices her.

#9: You are in a six player game. Everybody has five life, your opponents have no cards in hand – and no other non-land permanents except for the five choices below. You have plenty of mana and cards in hand to neutralize ANY TWO of them at instant speed (though only one at a time). What is your best strategy? (Pick the closest to your preference.)

  1. This looks bleak. Who cares about the second creature? Threaten the Bloodfire Colossus now, forcing the controller to sack it, and accept a tie game.
  2. Neutralize the Verdant Force now, to stop the token generation. Saprolings are bad. Save the other removal for the first creature that attacks you with lethal damage.
  3. Neutralize Szadek, Lord of Secrets – he doubles in size, every turn. Save the other removel for the first creature that attacks you with lethal damage.
  4. Neutralize either the Darksteel Colossus or Akroma now, since they're incredibly hard to remove and you're probably the only one who can. Save the other removal for the first creature that attacks you with lethal damage.
  5. Leave the board as is. You never know who you can convince to help you down the road.

#10: Complete this argument: "I lost that free-for-all last week because…"

  1. "…I was too aggressive at the beginning and lost steam toward the end."
  2. "…I missed a key interaction on the board, which my opponent controlled."
  3. "…I got mana-screwed."
  4. "…I could have played my cards differently, but just made bad choices."
  5. "…everyone ganged up on me."

#11 You are at a critical juncture of a five-player free-for-all. You draw a black card with the artwork below, and have plenty of mana to cast it and/or use any abilities it has. What do you want the text to say?

  1. Mongo-Eye, 11/11 trampler. When this comes into play, if you have exactly 11 creature cards in your graveyard, you win the game.
  2. Eye of the Mongo, 4/4 flyer. , sacrifice a creature: Draw a card.
  3. Get Dizzy With It, Sorcery. All players sacrifice all permanents and discard their hands.
  4. My Vortex of Pain, Enchantment. Whenever an opponent plays a creature spell, you may pay . If you do, destroy target nonblack creature.
  5. Big One-Eyed Buddy, 6/6 first striker. At the beginning of your upkeep, choose an opponent. This may not attack that opponent this turn.


Give yourself 1 point for every "a" and "d" answer, and 2 points for every "b" answer. Subtract 2 points for every "c" answer. Do nothing with "e" answers – they get you nowhere to begin with.

-20 to 0: Hopeless. Stick to duels.

1 to 10: Needs Work. Your instincts lead to a certain bias – maybe all combo decks, or decks that are too aggressive – which lead to problems in multiplayer games. Keep your eyes open to the board, and learn to detect real threats.

11 to 15: Solid. Nothing wrong with your game. Like any player, you need to be on the lookout for improvements. Your best bet? Think more consciously about the threats on the board. Which are worth your time? Which are not?

16 to 20: A Multiplayer Maven. You know why you win multiplayer games, and you know why you lose them – it all depends on successful identification, prioritization, and removal of threats.

If you didn't get the score you felt you deserved, or have a concern with the metrics underlying this complex analytical tool…well, then, you missed the point of this amiably intended diversion. Happy holidays.

Anthony has been playing multiple Magic formats for several years, and has been writing for much longer than that. His young adult fantasy novel JENNIFER SCALES AND THE ANCIENT FURNACE, co-written with wife MaryJanice Davidson and published by Berkley Books, is available now.

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