You've seen the drafts and read the commentary. Now I'll tell you how we'll run the League. We're kind of like the Commander version of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, where the rules are made up and the points don't matter (although they actually do). Points are the method by which we have a pick order off the waiver wire and the standings will somehow impact the next League. Maybe we'll get a plaque or something to start recording who won each League and hang it in the game room, but for the five of us, winning is in the playing and having great times with good friends.
Like with all our points systems, we want to keep it relatively simple. Many years gone by now, we had quite complicated systems (at one point, there were like ten pages of achievements), and they dragged down games as players flipped through the pages trying to mine points or wondering if what just happened was worth anything. Playing the game is the important part, so we don't want to pull focus away from that.
Kills: Simply put, this is eliminating another player from the game or causing them to be eliminated. It comes by the normal ways of damage, commander damage, poison, or milling. No one is playing any “win the game” cards, so we don't have to worry about that. In unusual cases, we'll make a ruling as to what “caused” someone to die. For example, if I'm at ten life, Keith attacks me with a 6/6, and then Todd somehow buffs up its power by four, Todd gets the kill, not Keith.
Commander Kills: A bonus point for killing with commander damage, this is one which weirdly may not get invoked all that often because not many of the commanders we've picked routinely do it. I suspect Todd's choices of Maelstrom Wanderer and Animar, Soul of Elements will get there, and certainly Shea's Zurgo Helmsmasher. We'll see on the rest. We had talked about nominating one of our three commanders as “unlikely to get to 21” and then having an additional bonus point for killing someone with that one, but all of both Keith and Todd's commanders are easily capable of dealing 21 damage, so we scrapped the idea.
Cool Play: This is a table vote. Since we're all friends, we won't try to dagger someone out of a point they deserved. Just playing cool cards doesn't get the point. For example, in our first game, Michael played Nekusar, the Mindrazer. Todd stole it. Immediately afterward, Keith played Justice, so Todd would get the damage instead of Michael. Big laugh from the table = cool point for Keith. Like good comedy, that one was mostly timing.
Last One Standing: Simple, and easy to track. We're also tracking First One Out, just for statistical purposes. It's not worth any points.
Someone Saved My Life Tonight: Saving someone from getting killed, whether that's removing the lethal attacker, playing a Fog, or giving them some life which would keep them alive, will earn this point. You can only earn this point once per game.
Always Be Closing: Play the third (or subsequent) spell which begins in a letter chain: like Alesha, Who Smiles at Death; Bribery; Consecrated Sphinx or Martial Coup; Nekusar, the Mindrazer; Opposition. This requires paying a little attention, but with our weird mindsets, we'll remember.
Most Damage in the Game: Keith volunteered to keep track of all the damage dealt. Obviously, some decks are more likely to be able to snag this point, but in order to keep is somewhat more balanced, we count only combat damage done to players and planeswalkers and non-combat damage done to creatures. Creatures trading damage in combat doesn't count; otherwise, Todd with the Temur deck probably gets the point every time. It's highly unlikely I ever get this point unless I start battling with a giant Serra Avatar (it was 228/228 in a pickup game this week), since it's not really what my deck does, but we'll see.
Dookie: This is the penalty point for doing the anti-social things or stuff which deflates the game. We decided that this will also be a vote point, although drawing more than ten cards in a turn cycle gets you an auto-Dookie. I'm reasonably sure I'll get this is a penalty I'll get every now and again. I actually can't imagine too many scenarios in which this point gets invoked, since none of us are likely to do the things which have traditionally been on the Dookie list, like killing before turn 5, blowing up all the lands, or taking more than three turns in a row.
The Waiver Wire
Each week, we get one pick off of the waiver wire. Just like in baseball, we have to release a player in order to pick up one (freeing them up to be claimed by another “team”). We get waiver wire selections in reverse order of League standings; the tie-breaker will be total number of Cool Points so far (although it seems unlikely, especially after a few weeks, that we're battling over cards). Once we're on the clock, we have 24 hours to make a choice or give up our selection for the week. Basic lands aren't part of the pool; we can simply use as many as we want.
The Amateur Draft
When a new set comes out, we will hold a five-round draft. Think of it as a new class of players coming out of college. Those five rounds will translate into ten new picks. While the new set cards are the focus of the draft, we'll be able to pick up any other free agents during that draft, since older cards may become suddenly more valuable combined with newer ones (or, I suppose, existing cards become worse). Draft order is in inverse League standings (so 5-4-3-2-1), with the fifth-place player choosing his draft seat.
This will also be a chance to retire a commander during this draft. You'll have to spend a pick to do it, and the commander still has to be in all three of your colors, but the choice is available. Although it seems unlikely, a commander may come back out of retirement in a subsequent draft. We considered forcing this to be your first pick of the draft round but then decided that was needlessly limiting. The Amateur Draft will also be the end of the “season.” Once we start playing with new cards, League points reset and we play as many games as possible until a new set comes out.
First Game Report
We played our first game and it was clear from the outset that all the decks can do lots of things. Todd ramped early, but I was able to hold him in check with multiple blinks of Stonehorn Dignitary. Keith's aforementioned Justice shelled out some damage and kept the red creatures from doing too much battling. There was loads of back-and-forth for a while, with a little damage getting dealt out; Shea was hoping some of his lifegain could mitigate the damage he had taken from Justice, but Keith's Erebos, God of the Dead put an end to that.
We had two interesting card interactions. The first was after Todd had cast Bribery targeting me, getting Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite. Later, after I copied it with one of my Clones, someone wanted to kill the original, so Todd cast Chaos Warp on it, thinking he was going to get something out of his library. I said “thank you very much,” he read the card, and then he face-palmed. I only got a land off of it, but I'm sure he'll remember that for the future.
The second was far more complicated, and I'll confess I had to get some Level 5 help from Toby (it's pretty good when you have good friends who are experts on stuff). Michael cast Talent of the Telepath, targeting Todd. He revealed Seasons Past (which Todd had already cast once and we all agreed was pretty strong). The question was whether or not he can get Talent of the Telepath back from his own graveyard.
The answer is yes. You cast Seasons Past during the resolution of Talent of the Telepath. It goes on the stack on top of the already-resolving (but not completely resolved) spell. If it had targets, you would choose them then. Before Seasons Past can resolve, you have to finish resolving Talent of the Telepath, the last step of which involves putting the card into the graveyard. By the time Seasons Past resolves, Talent is there to be scooped up again. Check out sections 601 and 608 in your Magic Comprehensive Rules for more details.
The game got super-complicated toward the end, and I'll thank the other guys for their patience as I tried to extricate myself from a complex situation (if we would have had the “Look at Me, I'm Aaron Fortino” penalty for taking a six-minute turn, I would have definitely gotten it). There was a cool moment when I blinked Progenitor Mimic (which was copying Karmic Guide) to make another Karmic Guide so that I could return Diluvian Primordial to the battlefield, casting Todd's Spelljack to counter his overloaded Cyclonic Rift.
But that couldn't really save the day, as I got way too greedy in trying to use Faith's Reward to bring back some sacrificed stuff from my graveyard and then discard Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre in order to reshuffle it. In hindsight, I was at enough life (I had cast Sphinx's Revelation in response to Todd resolving Bane of Progress…when I had Mirari's Wake and a copy of his Zendikar Resurgent on the battlefield, which was what got me the first Dookie) that I really wasn't in danger and should have dealt with the immediate threat of decking myself. I also could have cast the Faith's Reward in response to the Ulamog trigger. But these are the things we learn when we're playing a deck for the first time; hopefully I'll be able to play it faster in the future.
I still almost had it worked out. I had two cards left in my library but Elesh Norn on the battlefield making four my lowest-power creature. I also have the troublesome problem of an Ephara, God of the Polis trigger (which we realized is not optional). With upkeep triggers on the stack, I can use Roon of the Hidden Realm to blink Elesh Norn until the end step. Then I can sacrifice Devout Lightcaster (which turned out to be insanely good), drawing two and discarding three, one of which will obviously be Ulamog. Unfortunately for me, once I put the Roon activation on the stack, Todd cast Reality Shift on one of my creatures so that I have to manifest the top card of my library (and I can't yet sacrifice that creature, because I'll mill myself out). Not having any zero- or one-power creatures, I'm out of luck. Todd gets credit for killing me since he was the one who effectively ran me out of cards.
With my control elements out of the way and Keith's Justice gone, Shea killed Michael and Keith on the same attack. Then Todd cracked back Shea for the last kill and last standing. On the damage count, Shea dealt out 146 (his final attack was pretty savage), fourteen of it being commander damage; Keith dealt 40 (most of it from Justice); Todd dealt 40, seven of it being commander damage; Michael dealt seven; and I dealt a grand total of zero.
This all means that Todd and Shea earn three points, Keith gets one for the Cool Play, Michael has zero, and I get -1 for the Dookie (and I think I should have gotten a second one during the last flurry, because I'm reasonably sure I drew more than ten cards for a second time). The silver lining is that this gives me the first pick off the waiver wire (which Keith later confesses he may have scooped out from under me). I want to think before I make my pick, so I tell them that I'll post my pick later in the evening. Michael says that's good, because he's pretty sure I'll knife him when he announces his pick. The results of the waiver wire are:
Me: Release Garruk's Packleader; sign Angelic Chorus.
Michael: Release Tempt with Reflections; sign Hive Mind (he's right, I would have been sorely tempted to shiv him).
Keith: Release Korozda Gorgon; sign Cryptic Incursion.
Todd: Release Avalance Riders; sign Wonder.
I'm not actually certain I'll put the Angelic Chorus in right away, but if I do (likely replacing Evolutionary Leap, which is more part of a Rubinia Soulsinger package), I'll also put in Serra Avatar, because who doesn't want to double their life total (repeatedly)? I suppose with Serra Avatar, I'll additionally have to try to convince one of the red players to pick up Warstorm Surge (so I can steal it with Aura Thief). Also, Serra Avatar might have helped me out of that tight spot at the end. Thinking about that situation may also lead me to draft Altar of Dementia, since no one besides Michael (who has Kozilek, Butcher of Truth) has defense against milling. Well, it would have, except I just figured out that Keith already drafted it. Guess I'll have to figure out something
All in all, the deck will definitely continue to test the limits of my play skill. By the time the first Amateur Draft comes around, I might just be comfortable enough with it to say that I know what I'm doing.
This week's Deck Without (Too Much) Comment is the version of Roon I played in that first game. I intend to swap around some cards every game, just to keep everyone else on their toes, not knowing exactly what the contents are. I'm not going to live on the edge and take out Draining Whelk or anything (which is exactly what a person crazy enough to take out Draining Whelk would say).
- 1 Solemn Simulacrum
- 1 Aura Thief
- 1 Clever Impersonator
- 1 Coiling Oracle
- 1 Dauntless Escort
- 1 Devout Lightcaster
- 1 Diluvian Primordial
- 1 Draining Whelk
- 1 Eldrazi Displacer
- 1 Eternal Witness
- 1 Farhaven Elf
- 1 Gigantoplasm
- 1 Glen Elendra Archmage
- 1 Karmic Guide
- 1 Mercurial Pretender
- 1 Mystic Snake
- 1 Progenitor Mimic
- 1 Restoration Angel
- 1 Reveillark
- 1 Seedborn Muse
- 1 Stonehorn Dignitary
- 1 Vesuvan Doppelganger
- 1 Vesuvan Shapeshifter
- 1 Wall of Reverence
- 1 Woodfall Primus
- 1 Yavimaya Elder
- 1 Avacyn, Angel of Hope
- 1 Brago, King Eternal
- 1 Derevi, Empyrial Tactician
- 1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
- 1 Kozilek, the Great Distortion
- 1 Lavinia of the Tenth
- 1 Saffi Eriksdotter
- 1 Sakashima the Impostor
- 1 Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
- 1 Ephara, God of the Polis
- 1 Kruphix, God of Horizons
- 1 Blade of Selves
- 1 Conjurer's Closet
- 1 Eldrazi Monument
- 1 Sensei's Divining Top
- 1 Copy Enchantment
- 1 Elemental Bond
- 1 Evolutionary Leap
- 1 Greater Good
- 1 Lurking Predators
- 1 Mirari's Wake
- 1 Rhystic Study
- 1 Arachnogenesis
- 1 Cryptic Command
- 1 Faith's Reward
- 1 Ghostway
- 1 Sphinx's Revelation
- 1 Twincast
- 1 Cultivate
- 1 Kodama's Reach
- 1 Planar Cleansing
- 1 Rampant Growth
- 1 Supreme Verdict
- 1 Tooth and Nail
Check out our awesome Deck List Database for the last versions of all my decks:
ADUN'S TOOLBOX; ANIMAR'S SWARM; AURELIA GOES TO WAR; CHILDREN of a LESSER GOD; DEMONS OF KAALIA; EREBOS and the HALLS OF THE DEAD; GLISSA, GLISSA; HELIOD, GOD OF ENCHANTMENTS; DREAMING OF INTET; FORGE OF PURPHOROS; KARN, BEATDOWN GOLEM; HALLOWEEN WITH KARADOR; KARRTHUS, WHO RAINS FIRE FROM THE SKY; KRESH INTO THE RED ZONE; LAVINIA BLINKS; LAZAV, SHAPESHIFTING MASTERMIND; ZOMBIES OF TRESSERHORN; MELEK'S MOLTEN MIND GRIND; MERIEKE'S ESPER CONTROL; THE MILL-MEOPLASM; MIMEOPLASM DO-OVER; NATH of the VALUE LEAF; NYLEA OF THE WOODLAND REALM; OBZEDAT, GHOST KILLER; PURPLE HIPPOS and MARO SORCERERS; ZEGANA and a DICE BAG; RITH'S TOKENS; YOU DID THIS TO YOURSELF; RURIC THAR AND HIS BEASTLY FIGHT CLUB; THASSA, GOD OF MERFOLK; THE ALTAR of THRAXIMUNDAR; TROSTANI and HER ANGELS; THE THREAT OF YASOVA; RUHAN DO-OVER; KARADOR DO-OVER; KARRTHUS DO-OVER
If you'd like to follow the adventures of my Monday Night RPG group (in a campaign that's been alive since 1987 and this summer will be running a prequel to our saga The Lost Cities of Nevinor), ask for an invitation to the Facebook group "Sheldon Menery's Monday Night Gamers."