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The Road to Tourneyland: 2005 Year End MML Report
By Mark Ortego
December 22, 2005
The Road to Tourneyland: 2005 Year End MML Report
By Mark Ortego

Wow! What a fantastic inaugural season we had this year in the Multiplayer Magic League at the Gaming Association of Southwestern Pennsylvania or, the MML at GASP, and the last game of the year was no exception.

First, allow me to recap the year, and before:

Last year GASP had a multiplayer point-based group called "The Rogue League" and it was chaired by Stan (a now converted WARMACHINE player). His league was great and it had some cool things in it like the last three players in the game were part of the IRON TRIANGLE which awarded more points to these players for making it through the mess, another thing was slightly twisted rules such as if a permanent's ability goes to the stack and that permanent is removed from the game before the ability resolves then that ability is also removed. But alas all good things do come to an end. He gave us a month's heads-up about his pulling the plug on the group and offered up if anyone would want to organize a similar league.

Being an educator and all I immediately wanted to organize something to replace the Rogue League but to do it quick so that there would be a smooth transition. I'm not that clever with story telling or imagination like the way Stan had built up the Rogue League with stories of wizards gone awry and costal gods changing the laws of Magic, etc. So I came up with the MML (Multiplayer Magic League) and no story but a lot of changes from the Rogue League that gave it more of a current tournament feel.

January 2005 - Seven of us are present to start the year off with our new league. We had some wrinkles to work out like our turn seven "Serum Visions Effect". On turn seven and every turn thereafter each player would draw their card during their draw step and then get to do the Serum Visions Effect which was Scry for {2} and then draw a card or visa versa. This made the game broken but everyone liked it and it made for some interesting game play.

Here's an excerpt from January's report of that game:

**********
3:52 p.m. - Steve was playing what could've been called "Five-Color Urzatron". He was loaded with artifacts from Diabolic Machine to all five Diamonds and a smattering of each color. He wasn't a real threat due to Pastor Mark's early Blood Moon (Steve was playing almost ALL non-basic lands) and Jim had laid down a Cursed Land on the one and only land Steve had as a result of being land screwed in the early game. [Bad Jim, bad!] Anyway, it was feasible for me to attack Steve and kill him without exposing myself to attacks from anyone else.
(Steve is awarded 4 "Placement Points" for being the fourth person eliminated from the game and I am awarded another 1 "Kill Point")
**********

LOL. Steve's deck in those days was cholesterol FAT! I mean he had everything in it that he could possibly NOT be able to use effectively. His deck this last month is still the same concept but much more "tuned" and lean (only a 105 cards now compared to his old 350 card deck) because he had to adapt to the new environment or be left behind in 1996 casual magic game play. Here were the placement/point standings at the end of that game:

January 2005
1.) 10 - Jim
2.) 8 - Me
3.) 5 - Kevin
4.) 4 - Steve
5.) 3 - Kelly (Kevin's Mom)
6.) 2 - Pastor Mark
7.) 1 - Adrian

Damn that Jim winning the first game, how COULD he!? It was MY league

By February's game the league was gaining attention from among the GASP Magic players and we had ten players for it. Here's an excerpt from that month's report:

**********
Another Hurricane, for 7 points this time, played by "Sam, The Blaster" followed by a Sizzle is enough to eliminate yet another of Sam's victims, the ever so humble "Yo! - Adrian" at 2:23 p.m. Is there no stopping this mad-mayhem of destruction by Samwise-Blaster? Have no fear as "SHE" is back to claim her domain!
~Sam is awarded 1 Kill Point
~Adrian receives 5 Placement Points

(**)Having had enough of Sam's shenanigans Megan aka "Sliver Queen" makes Sam go "Bye-Bye", "Thank-You for flying Air-Sliver". T.O.D.? 2:25 p.m.
~Megan is awarded 1 Kill Point
~Sam receives 6 Placement Points

(**)Ah yes, it was all my pleasure to sit next to this veteran gamer with a sharp eye and a commanding presence (she basically ended "The Argument" see below for details), she is the one and only "Sliver Queen" (at her daytime job she's just Megan). A Sliver here, a Sliver there, she just kept workin' that theme like nobody's business. I had seen a Brood Sliver that produces 1/1 "Sliver Tokens", a Toxin Sliver that kills creatures when you block it, and by the way, since Slivers are a close-knit community of destruction, they ALL get the same abilities as each other has to offer, OY! As expected the actual "Sliver Queen" card pounded the table and she was set. At 2:26 p.m. or so Megan made an Alpha Strike (Alpha Strike is defined as attacking with all of your creatures leaving none untapped to block - okay, so you still don't get it? It's Poker's version of "ALL-IN") Kevin survives and retaliates with his own "Alpha Strike" with a Spiritmonger, Wellwisher, Elvish Aberration, and several 1/1 Insects for an 18 point kill.
~Kevin is awarded a well deserved 1 Kill Point
~Megan receives 7 Placement Points
**********

Chuckle-chuckle. Megan hadn't been to any of the Rogue League games since I had joined in June of '04 but I had always heard of her infamous "Sliver Queen Deck". It had grown to legendary status when I joined and every game thereafter I 'meta-gamed' against it just in case I ever did finally meet her and her little deck. She never showed up until February of '05 and I was amazed at her game play and how she didn't take crap from anyone. Here are the accumulated standings for that month:

February 2005
1.) 15 - Kevin
2.) 11 - Jim
3.) 10 - Me
3.) 10 - Sam
4.) 9 - Steve
5.) 8 - Megan
6.) 6 - Adrian
7.) 3 - Pastor Mark
7.) 3 - Kelly
7.) 3 - Eric

Finally in March's game I win the whole kit and caboodle. I was playing this:

UBW Control

2 Darkwater Catacombs
4 Island
4 Plains
3 Salt Flats
1 Scrubland
2 Skycloud Expanse
4 Swamp

3 Barter in Blood
2 Decree of Justice
3 Disenchant
4 Dromar's Charm
1 Feldon's Cane
3 Innocent Blood
1 Mirari
2 Power Sink
4 Propaganda
2 Pulse of the Fields (MVP)
3 Recoil
3 Rout
4 Spite // Malice
2 Talisman of Dominance
2 Talisman of Progress
2 Vex

Of all the multiplayer decks I ever played this one was the most effective. Here's a sample of what I mean as taken from my report for that month:

**********
So there we are, looking at each other being the last two standing. I, with a seven card hand chalk full of counter magic, spot removal and mass creature removal along with utility in the way of Disenchants and Recoils and Sam with two cards in hand and more mana than any one player should have. He said that all he could do was try to run me out of counter magic. Well, yes, that's ONE way to go (CPA members can chime in here!). He played various things that I dealt with or allowed to resolve because I had had a Pulse of the Fields (a white Instant for{1}{W}{W} that gains me 4 life and goes back to my hand if an opponent has more life than me and Sam almost ALWAYS had a lot more life than me) in my hand since the start of the game.

I suppose due to boredom he casts a 21 point Earthquake that would kill him and me both but I respond with my Pulse of the Fields (which he knew I had in my hand) so it was no surprise to him when I played it. I'm at 2 and he's dead, robbing me of a Kill point.
Sam is not awarded a Kill Point for eliminating himself (a House Rule in the MML)

Sam is awarded 4 Placement Points
I'm awarded 5 Placement Points and win the game
**********

I literally had an "ANSWER" in my hand for every opponent's spell in that game. I think I ticked folks off something fierce. I never played it again in any multiplayer game since then. It was just THAT sick.

Our standings started to take shape rounding out the first quarter of the year:

March 2005
1.) 19 - Sam
2.) 17 - Kevin
3.) 15 - Me
4.) 11 - Steve
4.) 11 - Jim
5.) 8 - Megan
6.) 6 - Pastor Mark
6.) 6 - Adrian
7.) 5 - Kelly
8.) 4 - Eric

Sam had just taken the league by the reins and smashed his way to the top with this simple concept: Burn and kill everyone, including his self, to make the game shorter in length. It was true, the year before our games went 5 to 7 hours. Now they were quick.

April, May and June were like the "Dark Ages" for the league with an average attendance of 4. Not one member had made it to all three of those games and so the point spread staggered for a while. Here is what the standings looked like for June:

June 2005
1.) 26 - Me
2.) 23 - Kevin
3.) 19 - Sam
4.) 17 - Steve
4.) 17 - Jim
5.) 11 - Pastor Mark
6.) 9 - Dave
6.) 9 - Megan
6.) 9 - Adrian
7.) 7 - Eric
8.) 5 - Kelly
9.) 2 - Chris

By June we had a slight increase of membership with the addition of Dave and Chris aka Youngbeard. Megan had left us and never to return again. I heard she quit playing Magic and got married. The decks I had been using lately were: My version of BGr "The Rock" and GW Decree of Justice (no Wake).

Looking at my reports from the summer I was definitely slacking and I never got caught up until now. I missed the game in August and again in October so I was not thinking I would even have a chance of winning the whole she-bang until November came around and we had our annual GASPcon.

We had 12 members at that time but only 10 were "active" Kelly and Megan just up'd and vanished. Okay, well Megan got married and Kelly had a baby boy. Darn Life commitments!

November's game had all 10 active members participate and the race for first, second and third were tight. Sam basically "owned" first place and so he had a lot to lose if he got toppled. Going into November's game looked like this:

October 2005
1.) 38 - Sam
2.) 37 - Pastor Mark
3.) 35 - Kevin
4.) 34 - Me - Missing games hurts your score
5.) 33 - Jim
6.) 31 - Eric (Sam's 12 yr. old son)
7.) 28 - Steve
8.) 21 - Dave (Steve's brother)
9.) 15 - Adrian
10.) 13 - Chris (YB)
11.) 9 - Megan
12.) 5 - Kelly

I had been working on a Mono-Black Control deck for Multiplayer and with Mooseman's help with him letting me use Cabal Coffers and 4 Drain life I was going to do just fine. Well, I kept the board clean of creatures but my deck never really revved up the way I thought it would. Just the week before I cleaned house at Blue Star Games but the players in the MML are just a bit more savvy and competitive than those guys at BSG.

Anyway, Sam was playing "Life", you know, the extended deck of popular use last season? He made it to 4 million life and puttered out. It was Youngbeard, Sam and his son Eric left in the game at GASPcon 6 (I decked myself) when YB pulled a Feldon's Cane and refilled his library . This left Sam and son with a couple of cards and they conceded to YB. This was YB's second win in a row and he was ON FIRE!!!!!! (Go ahead; yell it out loud like Sam Kenison would've).

When the dust settled here were the results for November:

November 2005
1.) 47 - Sam - LOOK AT THAT!
2.) 41 - Me
3.) 40 - Eric
4.) 38 - Pastor Mark
5.) 37 - Kevin
6.) 36 - Jim
7.) 35 - Steve
8.) 27 - Chris
9.) 26 - Dave
10.) 15 - Adrian
11.) 9 - Megan
12.) 5 - Kelly

Sam basically just outlasted most of the players because he had 4 million life. How's THAT for multiplayer strategy? Too bad he left his Feldon Cane at home.

Okay, you're up-to-date with what had gone on in the MML. Here's how things shaped up for me going into this last game of the year.

I have ALWAYS had this *itch* in my brain that creature-less decks could fare better in multiplayer than beatdown decks. I have always liked Decree of Justice and, yes, it produces creatures and that's in direct conflict with my previous statement but I meant creature 'summon' cards not tokens. In January I had played a GW Decree deck with Akroma's Vengeance, Wrath of God, etc., but I wasn't exactly feeling like playing with that deck again, I was more in the mood for counter magic cards.

I played the March game with a UBW deck and it had faired extremely well but I didn't want to play that either. I felt like playing something... complicated. Something that really suited my need to play counter magic, life gain and... and greeeeeeennnn. I've always like UWG decks. During Invasion days I always built UWG decks, I even played a PTQ with a UWG Questing Phelddagrif deck.

So I searched the magic web sites for ideas. You know, I used to try and make excuses for playing net decks then I realized that even though I get an exact list I almost always adjust it for multiplayer use. PTQ decks *STINK* for multiplayer. I can't remember now how I stumbled onto it but during my search I ran across the 2003 Championship Pre-Con deck lists. And there it was; the UWG Wake deck.

I remembered this bad boy, in fact I had had all the cards for it back in the day and I played it at our local tourneys and doing quite well with it. I never took it to a PTQ but I can't remember why. Anyway, my appetite was whet and I started building it.

When Mirari's Wake came out I immediately liked the mondo mana producing effect which was good enough for me but add the +1/+1 to all of my creatures? Sure, why not? So the list called for three copies which is just what I had in my secret rare stash box that no one ever gets to see. The list also called for; 4 Wrath of God; 3 Moment's Peace, 4 Krosan Verge and 2 Decree of Justice. All of these are good, IMO, for an MML game and so in they go.

3 Mirari's Wake
4 Wrath of God
3 Moment's Peace
3 Decree of Justice (2 wasn't enough)

4 Krosan Verge (an excellent source of mana tutoring)

Here's where things start to change. The deck list had Mana Leak and 1 stinkin' Circular Logic, well that won't do, no, No, NO! So I'm thinking "Counterspell"? Yup, in go four copies. I need more counter magic but I have to start thinking about card drawing, too. So I pick an old counter spell called Dismiss. It's a cantrip and I've got mana to burn so the 2UU casting cost is not a problem. Life gain is next. The list had 3 Renewed Faith, I like that card but clearly in my mind's eye Pulse of the Fields was much, much better. I really didn't need three copies so I put in two instead.

Add:
4 Counterspell
4 Dismiss
2 Pulse of the Fields

Card drawing is next. The original had Deep Analysis and Compulsion, nope, they go out and I replace them with 4 Accumulated Knowledge and 3 Fact or Fiction. I needed a smidget of utility and the original deck had it in the sideboard in the way of Ray of Distortion and Ray of Revelation. I didn't like those options and I'm still worried about card drawing so I choose an old favorite of mine from Invasion days called Dismantling Blow. There, I can blow up an Artifact or Enchantment AND draw more cards with all the mondo mana available to me.

Add:
4 Accumulated Knowledge
3 Fact or Fiction
3 Dismantling Blow

The rest of the '03 Champ list had; Vengeful Dreams, Mirari and Cunning Wish none of which I felt would be strong in multiplayer. I have three slots left because I wanted to increase my land count so I actually can afford to 'meta-game' a bit. I know someone always has creatures in play with activated abilities that will house the rest of us so I put in one copy of Cursed Totem. Jim had recently been talking about building a 'token' deck and abusing the new green enchantment called Doubling Season which... doubles yer fun . Now, I am a strong believer of the 60 card deck and the discipline that goes into playing with one but in the past I've also felt that 61 cards can be good too without sacrificing too much. So I put in one copy of Regrowth just in case I blew one too many Decrees or Wraths. This decision will prove to be "KEY" for me during the game.

The lands from the original list were sub par when you consider that I have dual lands at my fingertips.

Here's my final list I used for the December '05 game:

UGW Wake of Justice

2 Flooded Strand
2 Forest
4 Island
4 Krosan Verge
2 Plains
2 Savannah
2 Temple Garden
4 Tropical Island
1 Tundra
2 Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree

4 Accumulated Knowledge
4 Counterspell
1 Cursed Totem
3 Decree of Justice
3 Dismantling Blow
4 Dismiss
1 Doubling Season
3 Fact or Fiction
3 Mirari's Wake
3 Moment's Peace
2 Pulse of the Fields
1 Regrowth
4 Wrath of God

When: Saturday, December 10 (Noon)
Where: Dec. GASP Game Day
What: The final game of the year for the MML

Players:
Player 1 - Steve playing his much tuned Urza-tron deck
Player 2 - Me playing above mentioned deck
Player 3 - Adrian playing, I'm never sure WHAT he's ever playing but it was a big pile! And it didn't have Battle of Wits in it either.
Player 4 - Kevin playing, okay, not to be-labor this point but "pile Decks" actually do well in multiplayer games for reasons unknown. Kevin's deck was certainly a "pile".
Player 5 - Jim play a blue black sort of discard/milling deck with counter magic in the way of Quash.
Player 6 - Eric playing Dad's Life deck?
Player 7 - Pastor Mark playing his much successful Black/White Pestilence deck with pro-Black creatures and more Sol Rings than any one man should have.
Player 8 - Chris (Youngbeard) playing the deck he piloted to an impressive last month (it has Underground Seas in it and that's all I can remember).
Player 9 - Sam with the big Target painted on his back playing his old Blow up the World deck.

I didn't keep good notes because I had resided to the fact that I wouldn't write about this game so things may be somewhat shoddy. Well, here I go.

Sam clearly was the target and he got picked on ASAP and he was also mana screwed but no one cared and so Sam was the first eliminated from the game. This took a while which allowed me to build up a strong mana base. But Pastor Mark got the Kill Point for taking Sam out. Sam was awarded 1 placement point which meant that it may now be possible to pass him up in the standings but who?

Next on the watch list was Eric. I had to counter several of his key spells that would allow him to gain a million or so life. He was vulnerable and so was Youngbeard. Both of them had just been screwed one way or another either by me countering their stuff or my well timed Wrath of Gods. I couldn't believe how much luck I was having by getting out a somewhat early Wake and a Doubling Season. I cycle a Decree at the end of Steve's turn and I have like 24 2/2 Soldier tokens in play. During my turn I swing at Eric, Youngbeard and Adrian. Pastor Mark saves Adrian by STPing some of my tokens and leaves him at 4 life. But Eric and Youngbeard were sent packing. I get 2 separate Kill Points and they each get a 2 Placement Points for being eliminated at the same time.

Now much has happened since then like this:

I am in the process of cycling a Decree of Justice - you know, announcing the ability, choosing the "X" all the stuff you're supposed to do before sending it to the stack when Jim shouts, "In response I'll play Time Stop!" And motions for my stuff to go away. Okay, timing is still an issue at our games and I can't seem to get everyone "on-board" about it. I hadn't even PUT the cycle ability on the stack yet and he wants me to stop doing what I'm doing and go to the next turn. I start to argue about how I hadn't put the ability on the stack yet let alone I haven't yielded priority either when the statement is made that since it didn't go to the stack the mana I tapped should make me burn for the amount I tapped. Well, I was in the middle of deciding what {X} would equal and I was tapping my mana to indicate that I would be using them to put into my pool (which my pool was still empty when he played his mis-timed Time Stop).

*SIGH*

I stop arguing and yield to Jim that his Time Stop resolved in the middle of my announcing the cycle ability and even though I hadn't yielded priority I would put the Decree in my graveyard and pass to the next turn.

These guys were desperate to eliminate me, Jim had been pecking away at my library with his Duskmantle, House of Shadow ( a half slow Millstone effect) and it was getting thin. A count of my library was held every turn thereafter.

Meanwhile, Steve's deck had it's mojo on and he's gaining life via Stream of Life with the help of all three Urza lands in play and Pastor Mark is Syphon Soul-ing us several times and so everybody's life was getting low except for those two.

Jim finally has me down to what he thinks is just the right amount of cards in my library to deck me. He taps his mana and I have three cards left. He looks at his hand he's got enough mana available to play another milling card or effect but he tapped mana for his other spells that he needed for this last spell. All of the other spells he played were resolved and I had put my cards in my graveyard already. So he starts to untap all of his land then re-taps them for the "optimum" use.

Um, NO!

I had to endure that whole Time Stop mistake and I took it on the chin so I was going to hold Jim to that same standard and after five minutes of him looking at what he had done in disbelief he finally concedes and says, "GO!" I know he was mad at me for holding him to his tapped lands but I did voluntarily put my Decree in my graveyard when I had every right to pull back the ability and let his Time stop resolve with nothing on the stack. Jim's mis-tapped lands proved devastating to him on my next turn.

At the end of Steve's turn I Cycle a Decree and now I have seventy-two 2/2 Soldier tokens in play (I had 34 of them from a turn or two ago). There's a Howling Mine in play and I have three cards in my library. I untap, I draw my regular card, I draw my Howling Mine card and in the MML the "Serum Visions Effect" is a "MAY" not a "Have to" so I skip that entirely. I start doing the math and account for combat tricks and I come to the realization that I could take out Adrian (4 life), Kevin (42 life) and Jim (38 life) all at the same time. I go for it and the look on their faces is priceless. By doing this I close the point gap between me and Sam and when I start to count it out I figure out that that attack put me within range of taking over and winning the whole she-bang.

Steve and Pastor Mark are at high life totals (Steve 95 and Pastor Mark 66). I have one card left in my library so I won't even make it to my combat phase next turn. I leave the game with 4 Placement Points and 5 Kill Points. These points put me at 50 and Sam gaining only one point puts him at 48.

I can't believe it, it doesn't matter to me that I came in third in this game, my deck did its job and I get first place for the MML before Pastor Mark even untaps. He is fighting for third place and he eventually eliminates Steve (an hour later) and the inaugural season of the MML is over.

(Playing in the background is some kind of dreamy Olympic music by Vangelis)

Here are the final standings for the MML 2005:

December 2005
1.) 50 - Me
2.) 48 - Sam
3.) 47 - Pastor Mark
4.) 42 - Eric
5.) 40 - Kevin
5.) 40 - Steve
6.) 39 - Jim
7.) 29 - Chris
8.) 26 - Dave
9.) 18 - Adrian
10.) 9 - Megan
11.) 5 - Kelly

For comparison here are the final results from the Rogue League 2004:

December 2004
1.) 52 - Pastor Mark
2.) 38 - Kevin
3.) 34 - Me
4.) 27 - Megan
5.) 21 - Steve
5.) 21 - Lee
5.) 21 - Stan
6.) 18 - Kelly
7.) 15 - Dave
8.) 14 - Kevin
9.) 12 - Jason
9.) 12 - Sam
10.) 8 - Jim
10.) 8 - John
11.) 7 - Jim* (not our Jim above)
12.) 4 - Adrian
13.) 2 - Tim
13.) 2 - Chris

Stan and Jim* had come up with the MML's point system which is based on NASCAR? I dunno, but I will say that the MML's point system made the race a lot tighter right up to the end.

January will be the start of the MML 2006 season. I know itĄŚll be just as exciting as it was this year.

Thanks goes to turgy22 and Spiderman for their encouragement to get this article written. Thanks guys!

~Mark

Read More Articles by Mark Ortego!

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