The beginning of a game of Type 4 is kind of like the cold war.
It’s literally the same thing
Each player’s hand probably holds the power to destroy the others at the table within one or two turns if they go uncontested, and if each player ignores defense in favour of offense entirely, the game will end with everybody in ruin but maybe one person will crawl out of The Abyss to claim an empire of ashes and cinder. Everybody’s hand is on the button and whoever blinks first can set off a chain of events that make Ragnarok look like that time you pissed on your pants a bit before a job interview.
When the first moves a player makes are so important, you need to think about them a bit more than you do in the average Magic game. Without mana curves, things are radically different. In most Magic games, the first few turns are essentially very limited flowcharts where you just hope a deck does what it’s programmed to do. In Type 4, where your options are so broad and can set off an avalanche of poopy consequences, think carefully.
“The candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long” ~ Ancient Chinese proverb used by people with nothing worthwhile to say
When building your Type 4 deck, whether you’re drafting, sifting through a card pool, or some other mechanism, you generally want to do it one of two basic ways to simply things as much as possible. One is the blitz-type strategy with little concern for card advantage and maximum concern for closing out the game. Cards like Blistering Firecat, Breath of Malfegor, Subversion (don’t laugh!) and Hydra Omnivore paint a pretty clear picture: WE COMIN FOR YOU. These cards kill people, no question, but if something goes wrong at some point, it can be hard to come back from burning all those cards.
The flip side of this coin is the more conservative, sustainable strategy, where the focus isn’t exactly not losing… but I wouldn’t fault people for thinking that. Continue reading
A format associated with the routine casting of six-plus mana spells warps your perception of value. Because of this, you’ll occasionally be drafting and come across a spell like Enervate and think “that’s stupid and useless and I hate you Andy.” Even something as good as Malestrom Pulse can start to look slightly stinky when you can cast a good ol’ Akroma’s Vengeance or something similar. So why should you even consider casting something like Riftmarked Knight (my boy!) or Fulgent Distraction during a game? What’s the use in these seemingly low-value filler spells?
Q: What do all these spells have in common?
A: Newbs always ask why I don’t cut them
The answer is a combination of a few things, some in-game and some out-of-game. Since this is Tips & Tactics, we’ll stick to the in-game factors that make the low-value spell desirable.
I make the wild assumption that as you read this, you enjoy a passing familiarity with the fundamentals of ‘traditional’/’boring’ Magic. You know, one land per turn, draw 7 cards, twenty life points, and so on. Having played normal Magic for a while, you’ve also probably garnered some degree of strategy and understanding of the game and it’s resources; principally, the value of mana, card advantage, and tempo (most in the context of control vs aggro).
In Type 4 a lot of these points are still important, while others drop to Washington Redskins-level irrelevancy. You need to shift gears a bit to accept that games will always be in the ‘endgame’ phase as every card played can be that suplex from the top of the cage through the Spanish announcer’s table. Life points and lifegain are more important. All in, the three most important resources in Infinity Magic to you are Time, Cards and Life Points.
T&T, for your informations, stands for Tips and Tactics. This is important because I designed a graphic for it:
No turning back now! Continue reading