Tag Archives: Magic the Gathering

Mindfulness – Grant’s Kitchen

Our guest writer today is a good friend of mine who I got to know over many games of Magic: The Gathering® and discussions on craft beer. I learnt a lot from him, so I’m glad that he could share some of his knowledge here with you.

Hello and welcome to my new column here, Grant’s Kitchen. There are a huge number of people who play “kitchen table Magic,” but most articles are for the competitive player who is looking to take down big tournaments. My plan here is to talk about the sorts of things that more casual players want to talk about. So you won’t find detailed meta-game breakdowns or play by plays here. But you will find commentary and ideas to bring back to your local play group.

Nissa
“Be mindful, youngling!”

To start off with let’s look at the concept of “mindfulness.” This is being mindful of your plays, and paying attention to what the other players are doing, and how they might respond to you. One of the biggest mistakes beginning players make is to get wrapped up in their big play. You can get so enamored planning for your big win that you miss the clues that herald your defeat.
Picture this: You are each at 2 life. Your opponent has three 3/3 creatures, and you have a single Archetype of Aggression in play. You know that card will grant all your creatures trample, and so you play Savageborn Hydra for 10. You have a 10/10 double strike, trample hydra, ready to crush all comers next turn. You’ve got this! And then the next turn comes around, your opponent swings with his three creatures and you die. Whoops! If only you had cast a slightly smaller hydra AND the little Llanowar Elf that was also in your hand. Then you could have chump blocked with your elf, traded your architect and blocked with your hydra. The coast would have been clear the next turn and victory would have been yours.
This is mindfulness. Magic is a complicated game, and it is easy to miss small details. But if we try and keep those details in mind and pay attention to what the opponent is up to we can have a better chance of victory.
Another way to use mindfulness is in multiplayer games. While in a two player duel, rushing out the gate and smashing face is usually a great idea. In a multiplayer game, with politics in the midst of everything, it can be deadly. Being an obvious front runner can spell an early doom for you as the other players gang up and take you out. Being aware of the relative power of each player while subtly advancing your own plan for victory is the key. Be a friend to everybody, until the time comes for your ultimate victory.
There is a lot going on in any game of Magic: The Gathering®, but it doesn’t need to be overwhelming. Just take a few moments, and pay attention to both your plan and what your opponents can do to stop you. This will both increase your chances of victory and your enjoyment. The more you can foil your opponents, the more fun you will have!

Grant is an avid casual Magic player and drafter who has been playing since the release of Dark Ascension. He loves value, drawing cards, and his Zedruu Commander deck. When he’s not playing Magic he is probably brewing or drinking beer. You can follow his beer related adventures at http://beersensei.net

 

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This site is not affiliated with, endorsed, sponsored, or specifically approved by Wizards of the Coast LLC. This site may use the trademarks and other intellectual property of Wizards of the Coast LLC, which is permitted under Wizards’ Fan Site Policy [link]. For example, MAGIC: THE GATHERING® is a trademark[s] of Wizards of the Coast. For more information about Wizards of the Coast or any of Wizards’ trademarks or other intellectual property, please visit their website at (archive.wizards.com).

Dwarves and Cheap NPCs

April 11th is Tabletop Day.

Tabletop Day 2015

Go join a game near you, find out more on TabletopDay.com.

Inspired in Japan
Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things, by Lafcadio Hearn, is a great read if you like your horror with a distinctive Japanese flavour.

Avernos Unearthed
As tough as their mountain homes, the hardy dwarves make their stand against the coming darkness. But it is a losing battle which they wage against the forces of the Abyss, as their numbers slip ever more rapidly into decline.

I love dwarves, I enjoy playing them and I feel I really understand them as a race, so I’m very glad to present them to you this week on the Avernos Wiki

Rising Phoenix News
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Campaign Journal
If you play Magic the Gathering, even half as much as I do, then you probably have a bunch of cards like these.

Magic Marketing NPC 1

In the spirit of Reuse, Reduce and Recycle, I turned mine into NPC cards.

Choose a side. I picked the sides that had cool characters and monsters .

Use correction tape or stickers to make some writing space.

Magic Marketing NPC 2

Add some text with a marker. I chose 4 points; Name, Race and Apparent Occupation (not class, because my “paladin” might actually be a rogue posing as one), Demeanor (how the character behaves) and Speech Quirks (how the character talks. Are they soft spoken or haughty? Do they have a lisp or do they tend to drone on and on and …)

Sleeve them. Shuffle them. Use them.

The final product looks pretty good. And they work well with my NPC Strategy Cards too, simple sleeve them together.

Magic Marketing NPC 3

That’s all from me until next week.
Tell Thrilling Tales


Cthulhu Mythos - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com


Icon 2011 – A Brief Glimps

Already almost a week in the past, Icon 2011 was loads of fun. I only managed the Friday, but there were plenty of familiar faces and I got to try my hand at convention level Magic The Gathering for the first time.

 

Magic

I’ve played Magic on and off since high school, and I was a little worried that I’d be up against serious players that were years younger than me, but those expectations were thankfully shattered. We played booster draft and although I only won two rounds, everyone I played was super friendly and each game a load of fun. I’d guess that most of the guys (and they were all guys) were between the ages of 20 and 35 or so, and more than patient when it came to questions about the rules. If I learnt anything playing at Icon it was that you just need to go and play, don’t make assumptions about other players, rather go and have fun.

 

Role-Playing

Positive feedback on my module, Storm of Souls, which ran in the morning. I didn’t watch any of the role-playing or get involved beyond writing my module, but judging by the number of people around on a Friday I’d say that role-playing games are a great reason to take leave, or that role-players are generally unemployed.

I managed to score some of the controversial D&D Fortune Cards (3 boosters in total of Shadow Over Nentir Vale) and must say I don’t think they are as bad as everyone feared. Firstly, you only need one booster to use them in your game, so 6 boosters will cover a party of 6 players. You can then build a deck with as little as 10 cards (there are 8 in a booster), allowing you to customise your deck to suit your characters fighting style and strengths. I haven’t played with the cards yet, but the advantage to the player is pretty small, considering that you only ever have one card in your hand at a time per turn. To me the main advantage (to the GM as well) is that players will probably tighten up their tactics to maximize the effects of the cards, which means faster combats. My main criticism is that only the rare cards have proper illustrations on them, which I think is sad coming from a company that produces games like Magic the Gathering. Secondly, I picked up 3 swaps in my boosters, which will make me less likely to buy these cards again, unless I find someone who’s willing to trade or the cards see a lot of use at the table. Still, I’m excited about seeing my deck work at the table, and I’ll let you know when I give it a test run.

 

Comics

I went to my first ever Icon looking for Spider-Man comics, and won a door sized Mary Jane poster because of it. I was also introduced to Warhammer 40,000, which led to role-playing games, so comics for me will always be where it all began. Comic books are still well represented at Icon, and if I had had more time and money I would have filled out my X-Force collection, or my Amazing Spider-Man collection, or my… well, you get the picture.

 

Warhammer and Warhammer 40K

I got a lift to the Con from a friend who was just bitten by the Warhammer bug, but unfortunately there was no action on Friday except for a demo game of Warmachine, which seems to be hugely popular. I must say though that, after spending a week packing up my home, Warhammer is one of the most difficult hobbies to cart around. It’s almost like being the logistics guy for your own horde of Orks (in my case), and is likely to end up with more than a handful of carefully painted miniatures hitting hard floor at one time or another and a huge load of stress, so I don’t blame them for not showing up on the Friday.

 

LARP

Big things are happening in the LARP world, and I’ll leave that for another post, save to say that you need to give it a try. The LARPers are great people and LARPing in South Africa is growing stronger all the time.

 

If you were at ICON 2011 let me know what you got up to, leave a comment and share your experience.

Magic – World Mechanics and Story Device

This week saw the premier of the final Harry Potter movie and the launch party for Magic the Gatherings 12th edition. It’s almost like magic is everywhere, and really, it is at the very core of the fantasy genre. Magic is an integral part of fantasy and fantasy gaming, from magical creatures to spells and worlds formed by raw magical energy. In this article I’ll look at magic in terms of world mechanics and as a story device.

 

Defining Magic

I could look specifically at magic in this article, but then write a similar article on mutation and super powers that wouldn’t add anything new. Rather, let’s group magic, super powers, psionics, amazing technology and everything else that is “abnormal” and call them “world mechanics”. I’m using broad strokes here, but let me explain. Mouse Guard is a game (and comic) with little magic. Mice can talk, but they possess no powers as such or magical artefacts. Mouse Guard’s “world mechanics” are interesting because we can play as mice in a world terrifying to mice. Dungeons and Dragons, on the other hand, lets us use magic to fight magical creatures, and we can become powerful beings that can take on terrifying dragons through the levelling up mechanic. If you think about it, levelling is a type of magic, you would never gain such abilities in real life even with dedicated training. Thus the world mechanics for D&D represent a world that is full of magic. So, I’m going to use “world mechanics” and “magic” interchangeably in this article.

 

Magic has Boundaries

Magic needs to have boundaries, without these boundaries players will feel cheated and confused. Can my wizard become invisible if he casts an invisibility spell? Boundaries (rules) set this out for you. The boundaries then, like I said above, define the world at the same time. Frodo’s ring had power to corrupt, so we understand that in The Lord of the Rings magical items may have a risk involved when they are used.

 

Magic breaks Boundaries

Firstly, as a story element, magic breaks boundaries. Magic lets your characters and NPC’s do things that they would not normally be able to do in the real world. Flight, as an obvious example, is only possible through magic. Because of this, you need to think outside of reality and be creative when designing your sessions and include encounters and NPC’s that bring the reality of the game world into focus and let the players experience that world. It’s no good running a fantasy game where everything is normal by everyday terms, and I’d argue that a normal day even in terms of your fantasy world would be too boring for your players, but there needs to be an obvious difference between the two worlds. A note of caution though, sometimes subtlety really pays of with regards to the differences in your fantasy world and our own, you do want it to all be believable in some way.

Furthermore, magic gives you a reason to break the mould with you game, within reason. In a recent game I introduced a series of earth-nodes that needed to be used in sequence, and did not let players move as they wished between the nodes. I explained this difference as a consequence of the spell plague, which the players were happy with and I could then stagger encounters out between the different nodes. Because magic and the mechanics of your game world represent the weird and wonderful, take inspiration from the setting and let your creativity flow.

 

Magic is often Limited

Magic has its limits, which is important to remember. If any world mechanic is limitless, it becomes worthless in a way. If everyone can fly, you will need ways to cut that ability at some point and you need to work out the repercussions of giving everyone such an ability. In my opinion, magic becomes more interesting if there is less of it. In the Lord of the Rings, there are only a handful of magical users, which makes characters like Gandalf and Saruman stand out amongst the rest, magic is thus strange and valuable.

Potter Fans at the Premier
Potter Fans at the Premier

At the end of the day magic represents a great device for telling the stories we love, that’s why so many people fell in love with the Harry Potter series, The Lord of the Rings and so many other fantasy stories. Use magic well and your games will be that much more interesting and captivating.

 

If you watched the last Harry Potter, or played MtG during the release party or have any other thoughts about magic, leave a comment. Let’s talk geek 🙂