Greetings, prized reader, and welcome to another rousing edition of McLaren's Musings.
Join me as once again we explore everything Magic has to offer, and more. Cast away all doubt that you won't have an amazing time, because as always, I, Shaun McLaren, will be your Tom Hanks and you will be my Wilson the Volleyball. So sit back and watch as I serve you up another helping of fun.
Wait a minute.
Do you hear that?
That ringing sound? Hold on a second while I pick up the phone.
Hello, will you accept a collect call from… Adventure!? …Yes. Of course I will, because I'll pay whatever the cost is for adventure.
Excuse me, reader, the Adventure Store just called, and they're running out of you.
It's time to open your heart, cup your palm to your ears, shut down your brain, and embrace adventure.
Climb aboard my back and we'll leap into the unknown, face first.
Today we have pure excitement in store. Today we explore Magic Online.
But we aren't just exploring Magic Online any old way; we're going to explore it as though we were a new player. Which means, first of all, you need to forget everything I've taught you…
You just did? That didn't take long.
All right, then, starting from the very beginning. Creating an account.
How would a new Magic player get Magic Online? First we need to find the right page, so let's just open up our search engine of choice and find account creation.
Okay, here we are at the account creation landing page. I'm getting excited already! It won't be long before we're battling, I'm sure.
I'm ready to skill up and begin building a reputation! I suppose "skill up" is a new slang lingo hip Magic players are using. I like it. Let's skill up, then! I'm ready to go straight to the top of the leaderboards!
Simple enough to fill out our security information and pick a username that will strike fear into the hearts of our opponents. We make it through our first challenges without breaking a sweat, but we soon meet a foe that won't go down without putting up a fight.
The dreaded payment page. Payment!? I suppose they want to weed out anyone who isn't truly serious about playing Magic at this point.
I'm not ready to give up yet though. Thinking quickly I have the solution: No obstacle is too great for Mom's Credit Card!
All right, we are good to go and…
Well, I tried.
But what would a new Magic Player do? Magic players are smart and resourceful. They wouldn't give up so easily. They might even be willing to refill out all their information again in the hopes of it working this time, or even face the mini-boss: game support.
It turns out there may be another way… a way to play without having to create an account.
Aha! There is a way to play Magic Online for free!
They're using the oldest trick in the book. Something called a "demo." You see, the smart honey salesman gives a bear a taste of his finest wares for free, and then once the bear is hooked, they'll have a loyal customer for life. Assuming the bear has currency and the mental capabilities to trade for goods and services instead of just mauling you and stealing all your honey.
Let's see what honey Magic Online has to share as a first taste to get us hooked.
Turns out you can choose from all your favorite deck archetypes and actually play Magic. Naturally, I choose Tezzeret, since a Metal deck sounds the coolest and edgiest.
Thankfully I'm ready to be tossed straight into the action without a tutorial, because there isn't one.
After only a minute of waiting, we find an unwitting opponent.
Little do they know they're not just facing Guest0070, they're facing down the Shaun McLaren and about to be in for the fight of their lives.
After immediately mulliganing to five, I find myself fighting for my life in the fight of my life. It's amazing how accurately Magic Online's trial mode simulates the ability of having to mulligan a lot!
I'm greeted to the familiar sights and, more importantly, sound effects, because it wouldn't be Magic Online if the default wasn't playing an obnoxious noise to make sure you're switching phases.
I was losing and quit, but I didn't Rage Quit. I Joy Quit. I quit with a feeling of love and joy knowing I had experienced what it was like to be a new player and not constantly be winning all the time, while also being able to give my opponent the gift of winning.
I have been reborn and I am a skilled-up player for it.
I can now appreciate what I took for granted. For example, that I had already created a Magic Online account, or that playing Magic in real life is amazing.
Satisfied that I had experienced all that a new player possibly could, since there wasn't anything else I could do, I was ready to move on and top the leaderboards.
Being New to Magic Online - Final Score: 52/60 playables, thanks to the lessons we learned along the way.
It turns out I still have time for another topic to muse over, since I was so efficient with this last one. With a fresh set of eyes, I'm ready to go from the new player experience to the expert-level one by examining one of the most experienced cards and deck archetypes Magic has to offer. I'm going to expose what we do in the shadows.
We all know about the concept of death. It's one that will follow and plague humanity every waking moment until we eventually can't run away from it anymore and it consumes everyone and everything.
The card Death's Shadow manages to live up to the hype of this concept.
Turns out a one-mana 13/13 is pretty good.
I mean, I will admit one mana is more than zero mana, which is a downside, and a 13/13 is smaller than a 14/14, but I suppose it's still acceptable.
The deck's gameplan is similar to what's it's always been. Cast a bunch of efficient one-drops, damage yourself, cast Death's Shadow, win.
Simple concept, much harder than it looks to execute.
Grixis Death's Shadow really puts an emphasis on planning ahead. You have to be playing five-dimensional chess and planning ahead through pretty much every turn of the game, although, to be fair, there probably won't be many turns per game, since your main gameplan involves trying to get your life total as low as possible.
Don't worry, though. You'll make up for the short games by taking five minutes to think each turn.
Whew, okay, time out! All this talk about Death's Shadow is starting to get too heavy. I think we need a quick break. Let's discuss the exact opposite topic from death, which is, of course, Cats!
Top Five Cutest Magic Cats!
So many cute kittens.
This handsome fellow needs a home, someone to put a ribbon on him and give him tummy rubs.
How could you say no to cuddling that cute little critter?
2. Black Cat
Don't let the glowing red eyes deter you from petting this kitty. Black Cat will make you discard your inability to love.
Just imagine waking up and seeing this lovable little furball staring at you. So. Cute.
Okay, back to Death's Shadow
It's not just a deck that's impossible to pilot correctly, but one that's even harder to play against. Never go in against a Sicilian when Death's Shadow is on the line. Just make sure to skill yourself up on the deck.
Thankfully the format has adapted and fought back. Death's Shadows decks are beatable now, ensuring that Death's Shadow isn't quite oppressive enough to ban, leaving Modern in a purgatory that will make sure you're longing for the sweet release of the deck's namesake card every time you match up against it.
Yes, Modern is healthy and stable, except for the long Shadow of Death looming over it that threatens to throw it out of balance if the wrong card gets printed. Death's Shadow is currently a part of a surprisingly well-balanced but delicate Modern ecosystem.
- With Death's Shadow as the best deck of the format, Modern has been diverse, with many viable decks.
- High skill cap, leading to complicated and intricate games.
- Lots of math and precise thinking needed to play optimally.
- The rules of how Death's Shadow works in combat are confusing.
Death's Shadow - Final Score: 32/60 playables.
That's all for today. I hope you enjoyed reading. Join me next time with more muse you can use!