Tag Archives: Magic the Gathering

Magic Life Lesson #8: The Long Game

Magical Life Lessons are short snippets of wisdom learned from playing Magic: the Gathering. It may be a game, but here you’ll find insights learned from slinging cards that you can apply to the game of life.

It can take time for things to come together, but when they do, all the effort can pay off in a big way. Today’s Magic: the Gathering deck is all about the long game, and it wins by sticking around and grinding down the opponent for the eventual win.

Graveyard Adventures

You can copy and paste this list into MTG Arena:

3 Lucky Clover (ELD) 226
4 Order of Midnight (ELD) 99
7 Swamp (ANA) 58
8 Forest (ANA) 60
3 Rosethorn Acolyte (ELD) 174
3 Garenbrig Carver (ELD) 156
4 Leyline Prowler (WAR) 202
4 Spark Harvest (WAR) 105
1 Witch’s Cottage (ELD) 249
2 Glowspore Shaman (GRN) 173
2 Syr Konrad, the Grim (ELD) 107
1 Edgewall Innkeeper (ELD) 151
1 Liliana, Dreadhorde General (WAR) 97
4 Overgrown Tomb (GRN) 253
4 Temple of Malady (M20) 254
2 Kraul Harpooner (GRN) 136
2 Loaming Shaman (M20) 180
2 Find // Finality (GRN) 225
1 Izoni, Thousand-Eyed (GRN) 180
2 Golgari Findbroker (GRN) 175

Magic Life Lesson #8: The Long Game

Life is about the long game too, and that’s Magic Life Lesson #8: The Long Game. You work your plan for weeks, months, years, until you successfully achieve your goals. This takes two things: the ability to see where you want to be and stubborn perseverance to keep slogging away until you get there.

It won’t be easy.

It shouldn’t be easy.

Nothing worth doing is easy.

Your future is like a marble sculpture, while your plans are the sketches and clay models of what you’re crafting. Your hammer and chisel are the efforts you put into making this new reality happen.

Right now, I’m seeing my RPG content — writing and ideas I’ve amassed over years — come together as a consistent whole. Many lessons, over many years, have gotten me to this point, but only because I kept the future in mind. If I regret anything, it’s that I didn’t dream bigger, sooner. But I don’t regret the lessons; tomorrow’s brighter because of them.



Magical Life Lesson #7: Know When To Hold ‘Em

Magical Life Lessons are short snippets of wisdom learned from playing Magic the Gathering. It may be a game, but here you’ll find insights learned from slinging cards that you can apply to the game of life.

Magic: the Gathering is a lot like poker, and both games can teach you a lot about life. For one thing, you’ve got to know when to mulligan. As Kenny Rogers sang, “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em… .” And that’s today’s Magical Life Lesson #7: Know When To Hold ‘Em. Here’s Kenny Rogers singing The Gambler:

There’s enough there to write a book, but let’s focus on “knowing what to keep.” When you draw your starting hand in Magic, you get the choice between keeping them or mulliganing for new cards. Knowing when to mulligan helps you draw better starting hands, which helps you curve out better. Think about it, if you’re a master of the mulligan, then your whole MTG game improves.

Many writers and YouTubers have written about the mulligan and curving, so I’m going to assume you know enough about it and dive into the life lessons we can glean from it.

Magical Life Lesson #7: Know When To Hold ‘Em

Life, like a game of cards, if full of choices. One of the most important choices revolves around judging the value of things, especially activities and relationships. You have to decide what’s good for you, which activities are worth pursuing, and which relationships grow you as a person. Ruthlessly discard everything else.

Keeping the worthwhile things isn’t always easy, but those people, those passions, they’re worth fighting for.

So fight for them.

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.



Magical Life Lesson #6: One More Vedalken!

Magical Life Lessons are short snippets of wisdom learned from playing Magic: the Gathering. It may be a game, but here you’ll find insights learned from slinging cards that you can apply to the game of life.

My Vedalken! deck (say it like you’re pulling off a Hadouken) has been winning games, and has proven to be versatile enough to handle a number of decks in the meta.

Vedalken! Deck - Magic Life Lesson #6
Smurfy, very smurfy!

When I first had the idea for this deck it didn’t work, but I came at it again and again until I found a powerful synergy. The key is card draw and the ability to bring cards back to your hand, and thereby control the board. When you’re ready, Sage’s Row Denizen and Stolen by the Fae creates a powerful mill combo that can end the game in your favor.

Our Sage’s Row friend has a life lesson, and that’s that you have to keep trying. One more lap. One more try. One more push for the goal. The deck mirrors this perfectly, giving you the ability to duplicate and recast creatures as if they were teleporting rabbits. That’s Magical Life Lesson #6: One More Vedalken!

Magical Life Lesson #6: One More Vedalken!

You never know when things will come together for you. Maybe the next attempt will be the clincher. Maybe one more job application. Maybe two more. Maybe twenty more. Don’t let failure stop you, but keep learning and keep trying, and eventually, you’ll find the way and succeed. That’s what the Vedalken does.

The official version of Unstoppable by The Score is worth checking out.
Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.



Magical Life Lesson #5: The Need for Speed

Magical Life Lessons are short snippets of wisdom learned from playing Magic the Gathering. It may be a game, but here you’ll find insights learned from slinging cards that you can apply to the game of life.

As I write, Magic 2020 Mastery is coming to a close in MTG Arena, and we’ll be dipping into Throne of Eldraine by the time you read this. Trying to grab the last mastery orb forced me to find a fast deck with a high win rate, and that got me thinking about speed, which is Magical Life Lesson #5: The Need for Speed.

Krenko’s Kommando

The deck that’s gaining a lot of XP for me right now is Krenko’s Kommando, a fast 1/1 aggro token deck.

Krenko's Kommando — Magical Life Lesson #5 The Need for Speed

It ideally works like this, by turn:

  1. Torch Courier comes out
  2. Cavalcade of Calamity out
  3. Krenko, Tin Street Kingpin out. Sacrifice the courier to give him haste.
  4. Sure Strike and any other buffs on Krenko, before he attacks. That’ll create between 6 and 9 goblins.
  5. You horde attacks, each dealing 1 damage to your opponent’s face, even if they’re blocked

Krenko’s Kommando applies “planning to win” and “knowing your goal” and is fine-tuned for speed. Most of the games I’ve played I’d taken the victory by turn seven. That meant I could fly through games and rack up XP. In life, you need quick wins to get ahead, and that’s  Magical Life Lesson #5: The Need for Speed.

Magical Life Lesson #5: The Need for Speed

It takes time to learn and gain competence. You spend years of your life at school, then you have even more learning at university or on the job. The time it takes to get skilled up can be frustrating, especially if you’re like me and want to do things properly. But then things click into place and you gain speed.

You really crack things when you find work that you can blast through. For me, that’s editing work. I need a lot of time for writing, which is what I give my mornings to. My afternoons are for editing, and because I’m faster at it, I get a sense of achievement much faster than with writing. That keeps me motivated. Dan Abnett, who writes for Black Library, has a similar approach. He writes novels in the morning and comics in the afternoon.

Let me be clear here, you don’t need to be fast with everything, but having something you do often that you can handle quickly does so much for your momentum.

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.



Magical Life Lesson #4 — Plan to Win

Magical Life Lessons are short snippets of wisdom learned from playing Magic the Gathering. It may be a game, but here you’ll find insights learned from slinging cards that you can apply to the game of life.

Deck building is a major part of Magic: the Gathering. You can throw a deck together, based on a theme or a cool synergy, and it might work. The best decks take thought and research, combining strong synergies with cards that can handle whatever you’re up against. The strongest decks I’ve ever played were carefully put together and refined through hours of playing. This is planning, pure and simple, and it’s Magic Life Lesson #4 — Plan to Win.

Magic Life Lesson #4 — Plan to Win

It’s a cliche, but it’s true: “failing to plan is planning to fail.” You know how some decks are amazing at creating 1/1 tokens, or gaining life, and then there are decks with high win rates? The decks with high win rates are built to win, first and foremost. This is all about knowing your goal, but it’s also about creating a plan to achieve that goal. Some of these strong decks might create tokens or gain life, or do whatever they do well, but never lose sight of controlling the board, which is vital for victory.

Spock detecting large quantities of win in this sector. Magic Life Lesson #4

Lessons from Industry and Life

At the start of this year, we went back to our business plan for Rising Phoenix and gave it a lot of thought, which led to an overhaul of how we publish, what we publish, and how we market our publications. We knew it was vital to our business to have a strong plan, informed by lessons we’ve learned since we got started, viability, and our goals. Without it, we’d be all over the place, but, with the plan, we have something to gauge new projects by and goals to work towards. We won’t always get it right, we will make mistakes, but we’ll keep refining our plan based on the lessons we learn, and that will make us stronger. Just like refining a MtG deck after a few games or when you get new cards.

A Simple Plan (Not the Band)

A plan doesn’t need to be complex. Whatever you need to do, from studying for an exam to raising funds for your next RPG spending spree, just follow these simple steps:

  1. Identify what success looks like. How much do you need to know to ace your exam? How much do you need to raise to afford those minis?
  2. Chunk the work needed to gain success down into manageable bits. If you need to study 100 pages, how many can you handle in a 45-minute study session? How many study sessions would you need to learn all 100 pages?
  3. Begin working according to your plan. Track your progress as you go.
  4. Modify your plan to ensure you meet your goals. Do you need to cut pages from your study plan? Do you need to work more overtime to afford that core book? Make changes to how you’re going to achieve your goal, not to the goal itself.

The ICBM acronym might be a stretch, but planning works. Don’t roll through life without a plan — figure out where you want to be and go for it, fists flying!

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.



Magical Life Lesson #3 — Know Your Goal

Magical Life Lessons are short snippets of wisdom learned from playing Magic the Gathering. It may be a game, but here you’ll find insights learned from slinging cards that you can apply to the game of life.

Magic the Gathering is a great game, and it has plenty to teach about life. Today I want to talk about goals.

You win a game of Magic by getting your opponent’s life total to 0. Nothing new about that. There are other ways to win, such as if your opponent has to draw a card from an empty deck, but, for the most part, it’s all about that magical number, 0.

It’s easy to miss the point here. You can play to “beat” your opponent, forgetting that you’ve got everything set up for a lethal play. Taking your opponent down to 0 is the goal, any distraction from that goal is an opportunity for your opponent to win. Strong decks and strong players keep this in mind.

You’ll see people forgetting this in MTG Arena often. When your opponent has a significant advantage, but doesn’t go for the win, then they’ve forgotten the win condition. That can buy you time for a life-saving or game-winning play.

Knowing your goals will get you ahead, in Magic, and in life.


GOAL
Magical Life Lesson #3 by MaxieLindo on DeviantArt

Magic Life Lesson #3 — Know Your Goal

By figuring out your goals, you can eliminate anything that distracts you or stops you from achieving it.

As an example, I’ve been wanting to do regular posts here again, and blog about Magic, but I didn’t want to kill my productivity. I figured that short, 300-word posts would give me a chance to achieve my blogging goal without taking too much time away from writing RPG content. My priority — my number 1 goal — is to write new RPG books. Knowing this goal helps me manage my time and gauge how well I’m doing, so I budget time for blogging appropriately.

We’re halfway through 2019, so it’s a great time to look back at the year’s goals and see how you’re doing. Cut any goals that aren’t working out, create new goals where needed, prioritize them, and the rest of the year’s your chance to shine.

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.



Magical Life Lesson #2 — Practice Lots

Magical Life Lessons are short snippets of wisdom learned from playing Magic the Gathering. It may be a game, but here you’ll find insights learned from slinging cards that you can apply to the game of life.

I’ve been playing Magic the Gathering on and off for around 20 years now, but I only started to understand many aspects of the game recently, after playing hours of Hearthstone and MTG Arena.

With online play, you can get in more games against a wide variety of players in a single sitting, so you learn quicker. If you’re open to learning, do some reading (or YouTube watching), your growth can spike quickly. The rest is all practice, lots and lots of practice.

And the same goes in life…

Magic Life Lesson #2 — Practice, Practice, Practice

Here are two covers I designed myself, using stock art:

Covers, Then and Now

I studied design as part of my degree, so you could argue that I knew what I was doing back in 2012 with my first RPG book cover. I won’t hold it against you if you disagree. Fast forward seven years to the present and my cover for Horde is far more solid, works better from a distance, and communicates what the game is about.

Practice alone won’t get you to where you want to be. In his book, Talent is Overrated, Geoff Colvin talks about how practice needs to be intelligently done. Pick something you need to work on, and focus your practice on it. You don’t go into a game of Magic with a set of random cards and hope to win, you plan your deck, try it out, and refine it after a few games.

Figure out one thing you want to improve about yourself, practice that skill until you nail it, then move to the next thing. Rinse and repeat. Don’t give up.

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.



Magical Life Lesson #1 — Never Give Up

Magical Life Lessons are short snippets of wisdom learned from playing Magic the Gathering. It may be a game, but here you’ll find insights learned from slinging cards that you can apply to the game of life.

One Card to Rule Them All

So I’m playing a life gain black and white deck against an arguably better version of the same deck. I’m at 9 life, my opponent’s at 765! He or she has four creatures that could nail my coffin shut, and I can block three of them. But, for multiple turns, only two creatures come at me, so I block with my two 1/1 bats, spawned each round by Regal Bloodlord. A win doesn’t look possible, and I could throw in the towel — something common on MTG Arena — but I press on.

Then I land Adjani, Strength of the Pride. I activate his +1 ability and reach 40 health. My opponent goes all in on the attack, but at this point I’ve got the extra creatures to block. I kill off all but the three biggest guys, then pop Adjani, destroying my opponent’s advantage for good. Still far above 750 life, my opponent quits the game.

Draw Engine Fail

Earlier the same day, I played against an elemental deck with Omnath, Locus of the Roil and Risen Reef featuring prominently. My opponent’s forces were stacked heavily against me, but I waited for the assault that never came. In the end, I won because my opponent drew their last card off Omnath.

So…

Magic Life Lesson #1 — Never Give Up


NEVER GIVE UP!
by Emezie on DeviantArt

Never give up, success could be just around the corner. I’ve seen this again and again in RPG publishing, where one book might struggle to sell and another can fly off the shelves. You can do all sorts of things to help sales along, but you’ll never make it in the industry if you’re not creating new content regularly.

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.



 

Patiently Persistent Petitioners — A MTG Mill Deck

In Magic: the Gathering, playing a mill deck offers you a unique advantage. Most players are not expecting you to go for their cards instead of their life total. A good mill deck relies on the ability to control the board and survive long enough to pull off a powerful mill combo. You can’t win by milling one or two cards a turn, you need to build up to the big mill that robs your opponent of the remainder of their deck.

Meet the Patient Petitioner.

I’ve been working on this deck since I started playing MTG Arena, and it’s been loads of fun to play. Played right, it can be tough to counter.

The Cards

4x Scrabbling Claws
2x Blink of an Eye
8x Persistent Petitioners
3x Thought Collapse
3x Verity Circle
3x Waterknot
3x Watertrap Weaver
2x Sleep
2x Patient Rebuilding
1x Weight of Memory
1x Zahid, Djinn of the Lamp
2x Mass Manipulation
24x Island
2x Reliquary Tower

Total: 60 Cards

The Strategy

There are three main goals of the deck: controlling the board, drawing cards, and milling the opponent.

Control

Sleep and Waterknot not only offer control, but synergize well with Verity Circle to give you card draw. Verity Circle offers an expensive control option on its own. Mass Manipulation is by far the most powerful control card in the deck. Play it when your opponent has their most powerful creatures on the board and they’re likely to give up then and there.

Draw

Patient Rebuilding is the backbone of the deck, drawing cards while thinning out your opponent’s deck. Scrabbling Claws is an excellent piece of tech for thinning pesky graveyards that contain resurrecting creatures or instants that power cards in play. It also offers limited card draw that effectively targets specific cards in the opponent’s graveyard. Ultimately, you’re looking to combo Sleep and Verity Circle with Reliquary Tower to fill your hand with Persistent Petitioners…

Mill

Four Persistent Petitioners, with their second ability, effectively mill a fifth of most decks, which, when combined with the whittling effects of Patient Rebuilding, Weight of Memory, and Thought Collapse should bring you to victory.

Of course, there are plenty of ways to tweak the deck. Do you have any suggestions for improvements? Let us know in the comments below.

Till next time, play good games!

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter. Or come play some HearthStone with me and chat about game design.

Wizards of the Coast, Magic: The Gathering, and their logos are trademarks of Wizards of the Coast LLC in the United States and other countries. © 2009 Wizards. All Rights Reserved.

Resurrecting Your MtG Collection

I’m a big collectible card game fan, but I have piles of Magic the Gathering decks and swaps lying around that I’d love to get more life out of. I also have a bunch of friends who don’t collect Magic cards, but who might still be interested in playing if I can kit them out with a deck or two. Here’s my simple solution for resurrecting your MtG collection.

Resurrecting Your MtG Collection
Art Credit: Tan Ho Sim

First up, gather all your decks, ideally in deck boxes. Build more decks with the rest of your cards — it’s okay if they’re not tournament winning decks. The point is to have a bunch of different decks, so play around with as many variations as you can think of.

Now, line the decks up on a shelf, in order of what you figure is worst to best.

Invite friends over to play. Each player gets one deck from a group of decks sitting next to each other on that shelf. When you’re done playing, put the decks back in order from worst to best.

In this way, your decks get sorted as you play, making it easy to grab a bunch of comparable decks for a level playing field.

More Ideas

That’s my idea, but there are tons of ideas out there:

  1. Play solo games, which are a great way to test out a new deck concept.
  2. Build your own booster packs and play booster draft.
  3. Make a collage. Seriously! My bro cut out all the art from his commons and covered his door with them. It was awesome.
  4. Gift extra cards to friends who don’t play. It’s a great way to get new players into the hobby, but be warned — making a crappy deck for your friend is a good way to get them frustrated. Build something that can win amongst your group of friends.
  5. Pass your extra cards on to your local gaming store. If they sell commons then it’s one way to say thanks to them and keep your favorite store going.

Have any other ideas for resurrecting your MtG collection? Share them in the comments below.

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.