(Editor’s note: Filling in for Graveb. Muse is the leader-host of my playgroup, Buddy Renahan. A social worker and college instructor who has to be professional and courteous by day, Buddy is also courteous as a player, but his black-red decks tell you what’s been building up. Common phrases include “don’t waste haste,” “I’m swinging with everything,” and “well, how can we kill it?!” Buddy keeps us spring chickens/whippersnappers in line twice a week, and he’s a regular MV reader to boot, so subbing for a fellow black mage seemed appropriate. – Seedb. Muse)
Life is educational; you can take that statement to the bank. How many times do we stop and ask ourselves, “What do we really know?” If you are me (and I’m pretty sure you’re not, or I/we would know) then you ask that question a hundred times a day. I know I have at least that much since being asked to write for this site. Come on! The 3Ms are great and they have all this technical info/insight about the cards, game play, strategy, politics, experience… everything! I am regularly Devouring the site in between weekend playgroup gatherings to gain perspective on what I am playing and how I am playing it. I try not to lift exact phrases from the articles because I don’t want to be THAT obvious but:
1) Tricky card interactions are cool;
2) Threat assessment, scooping decisions and asking if I’m somebody’s B**** are important (I’m not proud of what I did, I just wanted to live!); and
3) Did I mention I LOVE Black?
The talk on the cereal box
One of the best ways to learn about life/ourselves is to examine where we have been and what we are doing now, shedding light on what motivates us to do what we do. Many direct and indirect discussions with Seedborn Muse, both during and outside of games, have provided me with interesting insights. As a result of discussing choices about Magic and life in general, I believe the same process can be applied to a player’s choices: number of decks; deck construction; and choice of which deck to play when. As long as I say “I think, or I believe, or I feel,” then I can’t be sued, right? (Editor’s note: Standing isn’t emotion-based. Sorry, man. – The Law Offices of Seedb. Muse and Windb. Muse)
What’s in your bag?
I carry a little black bag with twenty 60ish-card* decks and five 100-card decks. When I look at the colors in there I can see two things.
First: I LOVE Black. (Q: What are non-Black colors good for? A: To mix with Black.) All five 100s have Black and twelve of the twenty 60ish are Black and one other color (usually Red) or mono-Black. The other eight 60ish contain two WUBRG, two R/W or R/G, and a/one/uno mono-colored deck each in Blue, White, Red and Green. Seems I likes me some Red too.
Second: I do branch out into other colors and feel that each has something to offer in their own way, but I am biased and not ashamed to say it. Go read the Stranglehold text to get my opinion of Blue Mages.
More related questions in convenient bullet points
- What do you carry your decks in? (Bag, brief case, Fat pack boxes, back pack, plastic tub, etc.)
- What colors are in there?
- What blocks are represented? (10,000 points for saying Ravnica!)
- Do you feel you have too many to share the love with all of them?
- Not enough to keep it spicy?
- Just enough but always with both your favorites and room for more?
- How do you decide?
No right or wrong answers; this is up to you. As a dad on a budget I have to fight New Deck or New Card envy when the guys get new stuff. Be aware of who and what you are, what you play and embrace it! There are so many options out there, so try several. You can usually borrow a deck in a casual setting and see if you like how it works before investing in one like it for yourself. Notice I said you could. I can’t. Not because they won’t let me. Personal hang up. Never have. After writing this article (IF it is used (It is! WBM)) I will take my own advice and try borrowing a deck for fun. You just have NO idea what it’s like when 2 or more of Seedborn’s decks come within a light year of each other. Uh, seriously. Intense. But fun!
“It’s eleven o’clock… do you know where your decks are and what they are doing? This has been a Public Service announcement from your local MTGplay group.” (Elvish House Party anyone?)
I am not going into play styles. I want you to search (libraries? Not unless it’s black and its surname is Tutor or Vess) yourself and ask, “What am I and my decks known for? Are they the same or different?” Are you the nice guy that plays mean? Are you the mean guy that plays nice? Do you just want the blasted deck to work or are you along for kicks and giggles? It might depend on your mood that night. More on that later. For now…just with yourself…be honest… What is it you want? A fun game? A good battle regardless of outcome? One person left at 1 life? Epic moves and counters? OR JUST TO CRUSH THEM ALL AND RULE THE WORLD?! Your decks will show you that answer. Now, to get all social-worky on you, how does that make you feel?
My early decks showed me my desire to Drain Life, -x/-x to the nth degree, destroy and burn (burn them all, heh, heh heh). My next decks were Duel Decks so I guess I wanted to duel. I even chose to see if each color could give me destruction, burn and removal in their own way and not just in Planar Chaos. Don’t tell me I’m not fair. I will use any color that lets me do what I want to do when I want to do it.
This year I seem to see a trend to try to control the board more, sit back and pick my time to move and then swing in with crushing force. I’m worried about me but at least I see what’s going on. It’s a phase I’m going through. I should be ok. I am working on keeping me and my decks nice enough that the rest of the group still wants me to play.
It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine…
seems to be my sentiment most times and brings me to my last comparison. Musical references are almost a must in our play group. Music is a big part of many peoples’ lives. How do you pick your music in your everyday life? You know, the time between Magic that you have to endure until you can burst into the room at the same Bat place, same Bat time (love me some CombustaBat) and holler “BAM! What’s the format and who’s in?!” Some people listen to music because it shows them the mood they are in, others listen to something to get into a mood they want to be in and then sometimes we just pick something to try it on for size.
I think the same thing can happen when picking a deck. Can you tell when you are playing a deck because you feel like it or if the deck is playing you? Are you looking for something? If I am getting stressed or short tempered it means only one thing… If I don’t kill somebody soon I’m gonna Kill somebody!
That is when I sit out until it’s time to go, OR I pull my best deck for the format and play to win. Problem is I don’t have that Kill-you-all-deck every time, so what to do? I don’t want that to be my main motivation. My wife always asks, “Why are you so late coming back?!” No, I mean yes; she always asks that and then asks “Did you have fun?” I hate to say yes only if I won but that happens sometimes. I’m working on it, and it only happens the minority of the time. (I do have 3 thoroughly fun-casual decks on the flipside: evolutions of the Morph Mayhem and Ninjutsu preconstructs; and a five-color Unhinged deck looking to put Rancor and Wordmail on an Our Market Research Shows That Players Like Really Long Card Names So We Made this Card to Have the Absolute Longest Card Name Ever Elemental.)
Are you what you are, or what?
We need to be open with ourselves. Pick the deck that you feel like playing and then see if you know why. If you just have to play a certain deck, ask what you want to accomplish with it and then ask if you will be ok if that doesn’t happen. There are other players at the table all going through the same thing. Like my thought when I see traffic – how do we do this every day and not kill each other? – awareness of self and others is the key. Consideration for others is a good thing too.
It’s all about the interaction between us, so get out there and be part of a playgroup that makes the world a better place.
*60ish? What does that mean? Evidently I feel the need to try to put in just a few more Tutors, Seals of Fire or Terminates. I know that more than 60 cards is counterproductive but I still do it. Hmm, “Problems accepting reality, always looking for an edge, needs to work on ‘boundaries’ and control issues.” Guilty as self-charged.
Remember – Knowledge is one thing. Acceptance is another. And Submission is freaking out of the question!!!