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Limited Thoughts

I have been meaning to write a little something for the Kaboom website for quite some time. I’ve talked about it with Will at least a half dozen times, but lately it has been hard enough to find time to play MTG, let alone write an article on the subject. Still, I find myself thinking about it nearly every time I sit and draw seven (and mulligan to six, and too-often to five) and I can’t think of a better time to get it done than after a GPT win.

Last week Kaboom hosted a Sealed Grand Prix Trial for Grand Prix Baltimore. In addition to the free wins at stake for GP Baltimore, Kaboom added two packs per person to the prize pool. All in all the tournament drew about twenty players to crack packs and sling spells. While I could go into detail about the individual matches I played and the decks I played against, I really want to talk about the format in general.

So far I have really enjoyed Khans Sealed (and Limited in general) and it seems that opinion is a common one for most players. I think what I enjoy most is the diversity of the deck design, both in Sealed and Draft. The game plan available to players is much wider than it was in previous blocks. In most blocks there is a clear and decisive “best” way to build your deck. I don’t necessarily mean individual archetypes, though they tend to fit into the overall “best” game plans somehow. In Theros, for example, the steps to winning any limited event were: 1. Cast a creature. 2. Make him huge. 3. Never ever block with a creature you were not willing to lose. In Khans there are certainly superior and inferior strategies, but there are so many powerful ways to build a deck that a capable player can pilot almost any decently built deck to victory.

I think there a few reasons for this shift. The reintroduction of Morph into the format was more impactful than I thought it would be for a number of reasons. The common and uncommon dual lands provide more mana fixing than we’ve ever had in a Limited format, and those are in addition to Banners, mana fixing creatures and fetch lands. And while every set seems to have an underpowered color that feels like the runt of the litter, the colors in Khans feel equally playable as either a supplemental piece or primary base of the deck. The power level of the multicolor cards often means a player can lean on the complimentary aspects of a color without being hampered too much by its weaknesses.

I honestly believe any of the above reasons is worthy of an entire article, and maybe if readers enjoy my ramblings here I’ll write another on one (or eventually all) of them. But when you put them all together they add up to a set that is radically different from its predecessors and makes it possible to build tempo, agro, midrange or long grinding decks without immediately putting yourself at a disadvantage against the field. The big bodies that feel like walls now have outlast, which essentially means they gain utility once you’ve balanced the battlefield and want to take up the offensive. Perhaps the biggest and most important evolution is the flexibility in color choice made possible by the dual lands.

There have always been a few areas that separate the solid Limited players from the novices; evaluating card power, picking up on signs while drafting and formulating an overall game plan for the deck come immediately to mind. But what most frequently separates the wheat from the chaff seems to be color discipline. I cannot count the number of times I have seen players “splash” red in their sealed deck for a dragon that costs XRR, or play three basic lands in their deck for the single off-color Mythic Rare they opened. Almost inevitably these players wind up holding a bomb in their hand they never manage to cast or draw two of those three mountains when all they really needed was another swamp. The abundance of dual lands in Khans, especially at common rarity, dramatically reduces the need for color discipline. Players can now play a three or even four color base and splash for a fifth color without being punished as they might have for playing a third color in M15. This helps mitigate the gap between the Spike and Timmy players, at least enough to allow the less competitive players to play a reasonable and enjoyable match with the bombs they desperately want to cast.

All in all I think Khans appeals to players because of its flexibility. Not only is it dramatically different from the sets we’ve grown accustomed to, but it balances skilled play with fun play in a way that appeals to all Magic players. Whether you want to play two color agro, five color surprise (that’s a lot of Morph) or anything in between, the designers for Khans of Tarkir found a way to make anything possible. Draft picks are relevant almost to the last card and Sealed pools seldom require you to exclude powerful cards with little or no in-color support. Khans Limited formats offer Magic players exactly what they want, a competitive environment requiring skill and encouraging big, fun cards.

A few notes about the GPT itself:

Eriks Apelis, a player I already liked as a person, earned a tremendous amount of respect from me during the GPT. Eriks had as potent a card pool as I’ve seen in KTK sealed, but suffered absolutely horrific luck against me in both Swiss and elimination play. I’ve never had an opponent handle a rotten run of luck with the class and sportsmanship he displayed. Serious Kudos.
The only feeling better than Skull-hunting a Duneblast out of your opponent’s hand is doing it again game two.
My opponent in the finals, Josh Peek, is the same person who initially invited me to car pool to Baltimore, offered me a place to stay during the GP (for free) and opened/registered my sealed card pool (he thought it was terrible). As far as I know, his offers still stand.

An Introduction

Hello everybody. Since I’m newish to the area, fairly new to the local magic scene, and brand new to the Kaboom website I figured an introduction would be a good place to start. My name is Rob. You may have played me in a tournament or two, if you have you have probably beaten me. I’m not the best player in the world; actually I’m downright not very good. I hope this will allow a little different perspective on the game in these posts. You’re not going to see me any tournament winning deck lists or any in-depth insights to the game that will improve your play. What you will see is a journey of a player with the goal of becoming a good magic player. I hope it will be an entertaining series for you and an educational one for me. I need all of your help in this journey. I guess any journey’s story need to start with the beginning.

My introduction to Magic came in sixth grade. My group of friends all played the old Decipher Star Wars CCG. Before school we would play and trade in the cafeteria. I noticed a few older kids playing a card game I had seen in stores called “Magic: The Gathering”. There were a couple girls in the group and the kids seemed pretty cool to me. So I went to the store picked up a Fifth Edition Starter Deck with the intention, no joke, of being able to hang out with girls. I quickly learned that in 1998 small town Northern Michigan girls in sixth grade were decidedly not into Magic. With no interest in the game from my friends, the cards went on the shelf.

When Eight Edition came out I had a cousin who played the game. I bought a couple of the starter decks and set out to learn. He thought me to play, but left out a lot of the rules so he would beat me every time. I hated the game. My Magic cards went on the shelf again. A short bit later I gave it another go. I was taught properly and started to enjoy it. I would play occasionally in high school before class. One of my memories was almost beating a seasoned player, but losing because I didn’t realized I could have played a Healing Salve during combat on his turn. That’s where I learned about the beauty of instant speed. I didn’t play too often, but I bought cards here and there but mostly my Magic cards went back on the shelf.

The summer of 2009 brought me to my next jump in with the game. A friend of mine was selling his collection. He had a small collection of stuff from his middle school days of playing Magic. He had a couple players buy what they wanted from them and sold the rest to me for twenty dollars. I started playing a bit with some cousins. That’s when Zendikar hit. My cousin who had been playing fairly successfully at FNMs in his college town alerted me to a prerelease event in a town an hour and half away, yes we had to travel and hour and a half to get to the nearest shop. I played in the sealed deck Zendikar prerelease and had a blast. I loved the set. We played a lot of Zendikar and a fair amount of Worldwake. When Rise of the Eldrazi dropped I had began playing less. I moved from Michigan to Virginia in the summer of 2010 and my cards went back on the shelf.

Being a newlywed in a new area didn’t give me a whole lot of time to find a shop or players. I went into a shop bought a few packs here and there but never played. Around May of this year someone tipped me off to Hearthstone. I played that for a bit and it made me think, “Magic was awesome, I need to get back into it.” I stumbled into Kaboom during Journey Into Nyx release weekend. I bought a box, put together a deck and started playing again. My cards are finally off the shelf.

That’s my short history with the game. For someone who started before “Modern Era” cards were made I should be way better. That’s where I need you guys. Normally people would be offended if you called them an idiot in the comments, not me. If you read something and think “This guy is all wrong, he has no idea what he’s talking about.” You’re probably right! Tell me. I really hope my posts about my journey will be an entertaining experience for you guys. I want you to laugh at the dumb things I do and help me become a better player. My first goal is to win an event, any event. I don’t care if it’s an FNM with four people, a draft, a prerelease, or anything else. I’m hunting for a win. I need your help! If you see me at a shop come say hey, beat me at a few games, and give me some tips. Also if you’re looking for a game in Norfolk hit me up! I would love to play with all of you, and I know you all can help me sling spells better.

 

SecretPlans

Drafting Khans of Tarkir: A First Look

So far I have done two drafts in paper and one Prerelease sealed event. From what I’ve seen so far, I can safely say that this format rewards tight play. You are faced with a multitude of options each turn, whether it be trying to get the best value out of prowess, wondering how to use your morph, and whether you should attack into their morph and when to delve and for what card. A lot of the abilites have a lot of value that may be hard to reap under certain circumstances and it will take time to learn and master what the best set of plays is. Read More Here

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Khans of Tarkir Prerelease Primer

Spoiler season has ended, and now that all the cards have been spoiled Prerelease Weekend is upon us. Khans of Tarkir is shaping up to be the most interesting limited format in a while. You’ll experience multicolored cards, five color decks, and have to deal with face down cards, something that hasn’t been seen in a prerelease in years! Read More Here

Rattleclaw Mystic

Morphing Into Standard

Morph Is Back Guys and Gals!

If you haven’t already heard, morph is coming back to standard with the new set Khans of Tarkir and it’s cause for celebration! Morph alters gameplay in a lot of ways and it isn’t something to be taken lightly, and if anything causes me to get excited it’s things that warp formats!

Read More Here

Legacy Jund

SCG Baltimore – Legacy Tournament Report

I started playing Magic a little over 3 1/2 years ago when a couple of friends randomly asked if I still had my cards from middle school. That turned into casual games with them from time to time. Eventually that wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to play more often than they could. I did some research online and found this thing called Friday Night Magic, called my local game store and a few days later showed up to my first FNM. I was in for a rude awakening. While there were only 8 people that first Friday I couldn’t beat one I faced. I quickly learned that a preconstructed infect deck was not good in the land of titans and eldrazi. I may have gone 0-3 that night not winning a single game but that lit a fire in me that still burns today. I had to get better. I had to buy better cards. I had to learn how to play competitive magic. I was hooked! I started playing as much as I could, learning all the time. Once I got the hang of FNM I still wanted more, so it was onto StarCityGames Opens, IQs, and Grand Prix. Read More Here