Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Playing a Little Out of Bounds with Magic the Gathering

By Julian
The Growing Up Gamer crew loves to play Magic the Gathering, commander style.  We like to keep it casual and focus on just having some fun.  The decks we make are usually more for theme and style than ensuring a win.  To that end, one of my favorite decks I’ve only recently had a chance to play goes beyond the normal limits of magic and includes a little something extra.

Introducing Zed’s Make ‘Em Dead Emporium

Zedruu the Weapons Dealer

This deck uses Zedruu the Greathearted as its commander.  Her ability to give items to other players in return for drawing an extra card and gaining 1 life each turn is central to the decks theme.  Essentially, the deck is a weapon shop.  Rather than try to make everything it gives away barely useful to the opponents, it tries to give away the good stuff.  It’s got swords, scythes, and many other powerful weapons to equip any player for a great battle.  I’ve only played the deck once, but it was wildly successful.  How does it succeed by giving away powerful artifacts?  Well to get any weapons, first you have to sign a contract.

The Contract

Pay no mind to the fine print below.

Here’s where I had a bit of fun.  I made a contract the size of a magic card that must be signed by anyone who wants me to give them a weapon.  The contract requires them basically not to attack or mess with me in exchange for one artifact I’ve got in stock (in play) and the possibility of future benefits.  In my first game with this deck, I got two players to sign: Angie and Randy.  It was a five player game and those that didn’t sign with Zed’s Make ‘Em Dead Emporium came to regret it.

The No Contest Clause

And here’s the real heart of the deck.  It has a no contest clause.  It says that if the only person left in the game is someone that has signed the contract, I will concede and give them the win.  In the game I played, this worked perfectly.  People left me alone because I wasn’t as much of a target.  At the end of the game, it was Angie that won due in no small part to the weapons I supplied her.  I may have conceded to her at the end (that’s right, I stand behind that clause), but it sure felt like a win to me.  This deck worked wonderfully in a large player game.  It helped speed things up because I wasn’t exactly a threat the other players had to deal with.  Convincing people I wasn’t a threat left me free to just enjoy letting my deck do what it was supposed to do.

New Kinds of Fun

People laughed (in a good way I think) when I first pulled out those contracts at the table.  Zed’s Make ‘Em Dead Emporium is an absurd idea.  However, in a large player game it facilitated the fun, kept the play time down, and gave me a fun story to tell.  Sometimes going beyond the game, just a bit, can provide a new kind of amusement.  You wouldn’t think playing a game I’m hoping to concede would be much fun, but it was one of my favorite games to date.  Magic the Gathering is wonderful because it’s a flexible, versatile game.  Whether it’s a house rule, an odd deck theme, or a drastic shift in how to play (Like commander was when it first came out as EDH), Magic is at its best when you’re exploring just how much you can do with.  If you find your game of Magic getting stale, consider changing up just how you play.  You may find that the fun was just a small shift away.

We’ve got more Magic variants and fun themes we’ll probably share at another time.  Until then, we’d love to hear from you.  Are there any variant games or fun deck ideas that you’ve used to liven up your magic game?

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