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The Road to Tourneyland: The MML's First Game
By Mark Ortego
1/10/05
The Road to Tourneyland: The Multiplayer Magic League – January
By Mark Ortego

This past Saturday (1/8/05) was the inaugural game for the Multiplayer Magic League at GASP Game Days here in Pittsburgh. After some debate about how the rules would work out and about what sets are allowed we got off to a great start.

First, a step back in time; GASP stands for Gaming Association of Southwestern Pennsylvania and it’s a group dedicated to gaming of many genres. Magic & WARMACHINE are probably the most popular games played at GASP Game Days (second Saturday of every month). But you’re likely to find folks working on their character for an AD & D game or members playing board games like Car Wars and an array of other games. The website will list all the games played for that month’s Game Days, they do this by having members provide a list of players and what game was played and who owned it for each and every game played (demographics stuff, I guess).

There has always been some sort of organized multiplayer Magic game going on at GASP since it’s beginning (circa 1995?). The first group was called The Chaos League when Magic was still new however, due to some disagreements and rules layering among its members, it disbanded for several years. The need for GASP to have an organized multiplayer Magic group came in demand after a long stretch of not having one and so was born The Rogue League. The RL was more defined and rules & “House Rules” were established. Here’s how its creator, Stan, put it with a cover page for the rules:

[Written in “Chiller” font]
Since the beginning, sorcerers have abided by the rules of engagement handed down from the ruling coastal wizards. For Millennia, wars have waged under the watchful eye. Conjurers, enchanters, necromancers, shaman, warlocks, witches, sorcerers, and magi of all doctrines have all battled under the ever increasing complexity of these laws…
But rebellion was brewing deep underground.

Without warning, the wars ended and the sorcerers vanished back to their libraries to brood and plot. The ruling wizards of the coast continued to issue proclamations of protocol to the world, but a small faction of magic users were no longer listening.

And now, the waters of conflict begin to stir. The outlaw sorcerers once again prepare for devastation, and this time, they have abandoned the law.

Welcome to the ROGUE LEAGUE
[End “Chiller” font]

Well, last month the creator of the Rogue League announced the end of the leagues existence. I had only joined this past June and have written several articles about my climb to third place but I wasn’t ready for the league to end, I really liked it! The game’s chairperson, Stan, was always diplomatic and even handed in all situations the game offered. What were we going to do now?

The right guy, in the right place at the right time

Pfft! Since THAT didn’t happen I stepped up to the plate and volunteered to run the Rogue League. Stan’s one wish as the creator of The Rogue League was that we did not use that name for the new league. Fair enough. Wish granted.

I am not and never been or have proclaimed to be an original type person with cool and original ideas. How could I compete with the past league?

COPY

Why not? Everyone liked it including me. Since I only had less than a month to put it together I had no time to come up with an original name, so I went with what seems to be quite literally what we’re playing: The Multiplayer Magic League. No story, though. Maybe I can come up with one later.

I did, however, make a few changes to better reflect tournament-style Magic game play. One of the old ‘house rules’ was that when a card’s ability went to the stack so did the actual card and you could destroy the card and kill the effect. We cleared that rule for 8th Edition rulings. Another was that the game assumed a “Howling Mine Effect” starting on turn seven; however I changed that to a “Serum Visions Effect” starting on turn seven at the beginning of your draw step.

Draw step:
1.) You may Draw a Card
2.) You may Scry {2}
3.) Draw your regular ‘one-card-per-turn’

Interesting, huh? It’s a Broken Howling Mine! The HM was not a “may” in the house rules, but Serum Visions Effect IS a “may”, I don’t think players who play with small decks (60 cards is a small deck in this group) should be penalized. The original idea of the HM was to be helpful not harmful but I hated it in the beginning, until I learned how to build decks that would welcome its usefulness.

There are some other changes like the cost to participate, a pay-out chart, how we determine chair placement, a new scoring procedure, and who goes first and other little things like that. All sets are allowed including all three Portals, Unglued, Unhinged, Promotional Cards, Championship & Collector’s Edition cards. No Ante, PROXYS or Vanguard Character cards allowed. There is no ‘Restricted’ list so if you have four ‘Black Lotus’, use ‘em!

Onto the maiden voyage of the MML.

Game play should start at noon but things got off to a late start due to not being able to get into the church rec. hall until about ten minutes to 12:00. That’s okay; it’s still supposed to be a casual game, right?

Right.

We had seven folks show up for the game. The average range is anywhere from 7 – 10 players so today’s number was good. Here’s who came:
Player 1 – Mark playing G/W Control with Eternal Dragons and Wrath of God.
Player 2 – Jim playing Mono-Black Zombies w/Shepard’s Rot
Player 3 – Kevin (formerly Kevin the Goblin King) playing B/G something (pile?)
Player 4 – Kelly (Kevin’s Mom) playing her infamous B/W Cleric deck
Player 5 – Pastor Mark playing, …Goblins!?
Player 6 – Steve playing Five-Color Artifact deck w/tons of metal wrecking stuff
Player 7 – Adrian playing, well, I couldn’t tell WHAT his theme was so I’ll call it 5-Color Pile w/An-Havva Inn and other non-basic lands from back in the day. OH, it did have Naked Singularity in it!

There was a noticeable absence of blue from the game, hmmmm. I know every time I play blue I get crushed. Counter magic based decks in a game this size is too overwhelming, maybe an Aggro-Control deck could work like UG Madness. Maybe.

(*) indicates time of death for a player.

~12:20 p.m. – We finally start the game. If I haven’t mentioned this before, we all start out with 30 life points and ‘gain life’ spells run rampant in this group mostly in the form of Syphon Soul. Hey! Why should you be happy with just gaining life when you can have you’re cake, too in the way of others suffering ‘2 life loss’?

~1:30ish p.m. – We get to turn seven. At this point the game assumes the “Serum Visions Effect” and slowly we go through the steps for each player. I think everyone likes it that they can dig and draw twice. I know I do!

*2:25 p.m. – Adrian plops down the Naked Singularity card and everyone immediately gets a headache. I have to write down the card’s text in front of me so I can get it right, on top of that Jim also has a Blanket of the Night in play so all of our lands are Swamps in addition to their regular land-type. You think that that would be enough but Pastor Mark had laid down an early Blood Moon. ZOIKS! Adrian HAD-TO-GO and at 2 life he was an easy target. I swing with an Exalted Angel and he dies.
(Adrian is awarded 1 “Placement Point” for being the first to be eliminated from the game and I am awarded 1 “Kill Point”)

*2:57 p.m. – Pastor Mark is not having a good day with his Gobbo deck. He got mana flooded in his starting hand figuring that he’d hit a ton of Goblins soon. Nope. Combined with that I would play Wrath of God every now and again and cooled his heels every time he’d even get a small horde out. The Blood Moon didn’t affect me too much but still, that red enchantment was messing with Jim’s Unholy Grotto. Jim took him out.
(Pastor Mark was awarded 2 “Placement Points” for being the second person eliminated from the game and Jim was awarded 1 “Kill Point”)

*3:34 p.m. – I hadn’t noticed Kelly doing much of anything during game play. That’s actually her strategy, she bides her time well by not attacking anyone and laying down a good line of defense. But, multiple Syphon Souls from the black mages and various Shepard Rot activations by Jim slowly chipped away at Kelly’s life total. She was at 16 when Kevin attacked her for 16 but I responded with a Wing Shards and she was at 1 life. Jim came in for the kill with a Rotting effort. She’s gone, and Kevin is robbed of a Kill Point, HA!
(Kelly was awarded with 3 “Placement Points” for being the third person eliminated from the game and Jim is awarded with another 1 “Kill Point”)

*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”)

In the old Rogue League we used to have what was known as the “Iron Triangle” which would start once there were only three players left in the game. These players were awarded extra points for making it this far but we changed that for another point system that Stan and Jim (a different Jim) had already been working on since last year. They would’ve wanted to implement the new scoring system for this year anyway. So I took it under advisement for the MML and I think it’ll work out pretty good.

*4:30 p.m. – I had been attacking Kevin quite steadily since about mid-game. He was playing Spike Hatcher {6G}, it gets six +1/+1 counters, and having it enchanted with Dragon Shadow from Scourge, it gives your creature +1/+0 and Fear. If it’s in the graveyard when you cast a creature costing six or more it automatically enchants that creature. No, No, No. We can’t have THAT around! I Wing Shard two of them away, one that was coming at me and another to rob Kevin of a Kill point, . I swing at him with a Dragon but “Bad Jim” Rots for the kill and robs ME of a Kill Point, .

*4:40 p.m. – I like to consider myself as a disciplined player, but I had made several boo-boos during the end game. One of which was that I had a Yavimaya Hollow in play since mid-game:

Yavimaya Hollow (Urza’s Destiny)
Land
Tap: Add one colorless mana to your mana pool.
G, Tap: Regenerate target creature.

And did not activate it for my E-Dragon after I had played an Akroma’s Vengeance! I think that in the back of my mind I had gotten used to Pastor Mark’s Blood Moon, which he had played twice during the game. Another mistake I had made was not opting to bypass the Serum Visions Effect (remember that I had mentioned that it was a “may”), so by this time I was down to about four cards in my Library when I finally remembered my own rule. DANG! Jim had made a great effort to kill me but to no avail. I decked myself and Jim is robbed of a Kill Point.
(I was awarded 6 “Placement Points” and Jim was awarded with 7 “Placement Points" for being the last player in the game.)

Here’s the formula: P + K = T
P = Placement Points
K = Kill Points
T = Total Game Points

First place-----Jim----------(7 + 3 = 10)
Second place----ME-----------(6 + 2 = 8)
Third place-----Kevin--------(5 + 0 = 5)
Fourth place----Steve--------(4 + 0 = 4)
Fifth place-----Kelly--------(3 + 0 = 3)
Sixth place-----Pastor Mark--(2 + 0 = 2)
Seventh place---Adrian-------(1 + 0 = 1)

And so goes the first official game of GASP’s Multiplayer Magic League.

Many thanks to:
-Stan for his words of wisdom and encouragement to get me through this.
-Steve for his patience and support in my effort
-All of the members of the league who had input into the rules proposal
-My friend Marty (who I hope WILL join us for a game or two) who helped me with the nuances of the rules

This article may be found at these sites:
The CPA (Casual Players Alliance) Front Page at www.casualplayers.org
The GASP home site at www.GASPgamer.com in the February newsletter

Please send any comments and/or questions to me ortegoc@aol.com
For directions to GASP Game Days (held on the second Saturday of each month) go to the website and click on NEWS and then find GASP Game Days directions to the church rec. room in Coraopolis.

~Mark

Oops, I can’t be finished with this article without providing my deck list:

“Green – White Control” (not a net-deck!)
By Mark Ortego

Land
4 Elfhame Palace (Invasion black-bordered)
5 Forest (Invasion #347)
9 Plains (Mercadian Masques #333)
2 Sungrass Prairie
2 Temple of the False God
1 Yavimaya Hollow

Creatures
2 Ageless Entity
2 Eternal Dragon
3 Exalted Angel
4 Ravenous Baloth
4 Troll Ascetic
4 Weathered Watfarer

Spells
2 Akroma’s Vengeance
2 Decree of Justice
2 Pulse of the Fields
4 Rampant Growth
1 Sensei’s Divining Top
4 Wing Shards
4 Wrath of God

For card text check out the Magic Oracle at: http://www.magicthegathering.com

Read More Articles by Mark Ortego!

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