IHAO on ... Magic the Gathering: Conspiracy (and other ramblings)

Oh, Magic.  I talked about you before.  Though last time it was more a recollection of good times with friends and the social aspects of the game instead of the actual enjoyments I receive from it.  The social aspects are very important for me, but the thing I really love about the game is the deck building.

Magic the Gathering has been around since 1993.  I played a little in 5th grade, though I didn't own any cards, deciding instead to go with what I thought was the superior game at the time, the Star Wars collectible card game.  Then I moved to Yu-Gi-Oh ... until my buddy Patrick and I learned that the rules were not the same as the first season of the cartoon.  He tried teaching me Magic again, but it wasn't until college when I got back into it.  I remember specifically the moment I was hooked ...

A friend in college, my first friend in college actually, had two unstoppable decks, Slivers and Counterspells.  He also eventually admitted to me he was an absolute cheat and would do so constantly to win.  During that time, I knew two things: one, I liked RED DAMAGE, it was awesome; and two, I love weird blue, especially bounce.  So I asked him how I should go about building a Red/Blue deck.  But you see, back in the day, that was all but impossible.  You see, a major aspect of the game is that each color has a unique identity, including which colors they work well with and which ones are natural enemies.  Blue and Red are ENEMIES.  And they made it very difficult to make blue/red work together.

But I was positive I was going to do it.  And I did.  I figured it out.  I solved it.  I made a ridiculous blue/red deck, got lucky, and a single Unsummon allowed me to swing for the kill.  I did it.  I built an impossible deck, beat a great (and cheating, though I didn't know it at the time) player playing his best deck, and I did it through a combination of ideas and skills all my own.

This image is owned by Hasbro.  Or Wizards of the Coast.  Or whoever I'm supposed to say, whatever, I don't own it, I'm just using it.  Don't get mad.

You see, every player plays Magic for different reasons.  And I promise, I'm building up to the actual review, I just know a lot of non-Magic players read this blog, and I'm TRYING to be entertaining and informative, you, guy who is complaining that I am assuming exists within my average 27 readers.  Mark Rosewater, the dude who IS Magic, defined the players as Timmy, Johnny, and Spike.  He wrote a great article on them, but here is the simple, down and dirty description:

  • Spike plays the game to win, to prove something.  He's considered the tournament player, the guy who appreciates every well-costed, powerful card that helps him achieve his objective, and everything else is whatever.
  • Timmy plays the game to experience something.  He's considered the power gamer, loving huge effects and feeling POWERFUL.  Enormous creatures, big effects, amazingly large armies, that is what Timmy loves.
  • Johnny plays the game to express themselves.  He's considered the combo player.  He looks for cards that spark his interest, or ideas to craft a story or combo of some kind.  Winning the game is less important that pulling off the purpose of the deck, whether it is to feel like a goblin or to draw as many cards as possible.
If you cannot tell by the sheer amount of words written, I am a Johnny/Timmy.  I don't have a Spike bone in my body, though I do enjoy winning the game.  Everyone enjoys winning.  But for me, the most fun is to make decks that DO things.  Such as, I just bought two very simple decks, one based around Scrooge McDuck and using all the player's lives as "money" and focusing on GOLD!!!! ... and the second is a throwback to my favorite original play-style, direct damage red burn deck built around these two great cards that are more powerful the more times I use them.  They even have silly names, from Where the Red Burn Grows to gold. Gold! G.O.L.D.!!! ... you know, based on the Duck Tales pilot/arc and the amazing villain El Capitan!

Gold. Gold. GOLD. gold. Gold! G.O.L.D.!!!!!

Hee hee, I made that gif.  I could talk forever about the decks I love, and the decks I built, but I want to move on to why Conspiracy is so great.  Oh, yes, Conspiracy is awesome.  It is a style of Magic that fits my group's play style perfectly.  See, our general group consists of 4 regular players, including myself, and a group of outliers.  And the vast majority of them are Spikes, which is kind of hilarious for me.  But even more important, we play exclusively multiplayer standard Magic.  And Conspiracy is just perfect.

Conspiracy was designed to be drafted (you build the deck from a pool of unopened pack) including new powerful cards called conspiracies that can drastically alter the game and a bunch of powerful multiplayer effects based on rewards for attacking the "winning" player, voting as a group, or giving a big helpful effect to everyone.  You draft a deck, and then everyone plays a multiplayer game with those decks.  It is perfect.  So perfect we did it at our group's punching bag Spike/Johnny's bachelor party.  By the way, that's where I was for the past missing days of no blogs, doing groomsman activities and stuff.  But that is neither here nor there.

We were able to draft for 3 games with 5 players then 4 in the next two games out of one box and a handful of other booster packs we picked out.  In the first game, I got incredibly lucky by opening my first pack and getting the following card:

I own this card, but not this image.  It is an awesome card.

That meant I spent the rest of the draft just grabbing every single powerful card that came my way.  It was very powerful, and I won that game handily.  I still have that Worldknit, I will always remember it.  I like that.  I like that a card that has very little worth in the real world (there is a large second hand market for cards, which is how my little group can get all our ridiculous decks about flipping coins or exiling everything or oozes oozes all the time oozes) it has crazy sentimental value from that great game.

Second time around was less successful.  As was the third.  I drafted basically the same both times, WUB fliers with strong removal.  The third game in fact I felt terrible.  I was having the absolute worst time drafting, feeling like I was getting nothing.  And that third game ... it was the most fun one.  It ended in a crazy draw because of some shenanigans I was able to pull off (I was trying to make another guy win, but he got killed just before I made the rest of us players all die at the same time).  It was ... 

It is very hard to explain just how great it is to have an amazing amount of fun with a deck you felt was garbage.  The game is built to be the absolute best multiplayer game series possible, with so many big change-up cards and upsets and fun problems to deal with.  It is just perfect.  Even better, it is getting cheaper by the day, as the price of boxes slowly drop in price.  It is a thing I know for a fact we as a group will do again, and I would gladly bring other fringe magic players in on to play even more.  I would even suggest it as a place for players to start if they have never played, as it teaches all the fundamentals of the game, from deck building to making card value choices to how the colors mix and interact to all the amazing strategies.  Anyone who has played games like Dominion or Ascension, it is time to join up with Magic, which is just getting better and better and better.

So yeah, that was my experiences drafting Conspiracy, as well as a bunch of other thoughts.  I guess I should have said it was an opinion on rambling like a fool, and then eventually reviewing Conspiracy.  Whatever.

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