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Participating NOW--Introducing Oversoul
By Stephen O. Bahl
I notice that at least two others have completed SeFRo’s “homework assignment” and I see no reason why I should not do so as well. Here we go…

Many of you reading this may remember the release of Portal, a set most consider to be a failure. Portal was designed to act as a starting point for new players to join the Magic: the Gathering fold. To the best of my knowledge it was not all that successful in this regard.

But, Portal is the set that introduced me to the game, way back in 1997. I would have been in sixth grade at the time, if I remember correctly. I didn’t know the rules very well, and had to teach myself using my 5th edition rulebook, which I possess to this day. My understanding of the game was rudimentary at this time. Like many of us when first starting out, I made the mistake of trying to build five color decks or decks with too many local enchantments. And so on and so on.

I had some small amount of luck by starting to play the real game and understanding the rules for the most part (Portal is a lot more simple) just before Urza’s Saga (perhaps the most infamously powerful expansion ever) was released. I met others who played the game and actually started to play it more. I developed a fascination for the mighty Sliver Queen, which eventually led to my acquiring four each of the Tempest/Stronghold slivers, and built a terrible deck that worked wonderfully in multiplayer games against other junior high kids.

My Sliver Queen thing became important, as my infinite combo decks with it tended to deck myself, so I used Necropotence as a means of preventing this. I became interested in Necropotence. That was the point where I actually learned to play the game well. Throughout my eighth and ninth grade years I dominated with Necropotence and Burn based decks, as well as highly refining my Sliver Queen deck for multiplayer. At the local card shop I was less successful, as there were better players, but I did moderately well in their Type 1.5 tournaments (Necro was legal back then as was another favorite of mine, Frantic Search).

However, after leaving the junior high and moving across town, I lost interest in the game as I had no one to play against and didn’t care to spend money on it. My sophomore year of high school I played no Magic at all, until toward the end of the year when we were registering for our classes in the next year, and lots of kids were playing while we waited. I borrowed some decks and found that I was reasonably more skilled than most of them.

I would in all likelihood have tried tournament play at this point, but when I returned to the game, I discovered two things…

My old favorite website, the Dojo, had somehow disappeared.

Necropotence, the deck I had been playing since 1998, wasn’t really usable in tournaments anymore. Some jerk had banned it or something...

So I became a completely casual player. Most of my games were against myself, as I tested and tuned my decks. Junior and Senior years of high school saw plenty of games in which my opponents discovered that they were completely overpowered. My favorite deck, a Necropotence/Zur’s Weirding lockdown deck evolved to incorporate Illusions of Grandeur and Donate for more threats, and Force of Will for more control. In an odd series of events, my Necro deck went from Necro to Necro-Weirding to Necro-Donate, which remained unchanged for over two years until I acquired a single Polluted Delta and threw it in to improve the mana base.

Lacking a multiplayer deck, I sought out to build an Academy deck, later a Dream Halls deck, a Megrim deck, and several others. I joined the CPA back in January of this year, and after leaving the scourge of high school forever, have participated there quite a bit in the forums.

I’ve also written two articles at the CPA. The first is on Burn decks but I don’t like the style too much. The second is a little long, but Relentless Pony is the greatest deck ever, so I think that may be my favorite article I’ve written for a while. I suppose that this will be my third article, and a fourth is in the making. Also, are plans for a new series of articles: Casual Archetypes, in which I will (hopefully) be highlighting a variety of decks for casual play.

Hello, I’m Stephen Bahl, and I’m a Magic player.

Read More Articles by Stephen O. Bahl!

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