My local gaming group has finally been gifted with a new hang-out where we can just chill and play some cards (our prior location, having 'gone sanctioned' on me, now strictly hosts cash prize Standard tournaments, and it's tables are now reserved for players who are part of the daily tournament(s) only. Not a bad decision on the owner's part, either; he's making a mint since he changed the store format). We've had about a week to 'settle-in' with the place, and last Wednesday we talked with the owner to see if we could arrange a casual 'tournament' (format undecided at the time) with some ante'd junk rares as a prize to the winner. After a bit of discussion, everyone unanimously agreed that Wednesday at midnight would be an absolutely awesome time to have a tournament. The owner then commented that he'd be happy to host a weekly 'Midnight Magic' on Wednesdays, presuming that we had a fair turnout.
I and thirteen others showed-up for the game tonight. Pretty 'fair' turn-out for a casual tournament, I'd say. We were just going to play a free-for-all game... but given the appropriate amount of players and the nature of the game, we decided we may as well go with a format that was also out of the norm. Generals.
Generals is, effectively, what most players know as 'Emperor' - with a few modifications to the rules to allow each player to keep playing the game until it's all over. Everything following the '***'s below is a description of the format, for those interested in knowing. If you're already familiar with Emperor, or you'd just rather hear about what I brought and how I performed, just scroll past it (the end is also marked with '***').
Generals requires a number of players that can be divided into two equal, odd-numbered teams. For example, two teams of 3 people, two teams of 5 people or (like in tonight's case) two teams of 7 people. We have players randomly assigned to each team, and each team then elect a General. Everyone who is not a General is considered a Regiment. Seating is arranged so that each team sits across from the other, the General sitting in the middle of his Regiments (with an even number of Regiments to his left and right). We also randomly determine Regiment seating.
At the outset of the game, every Regiment is considered to be 'engaged' with the opposing Regiment sitting across from them. Regiments can only attack and cast spells against whomever they are engaged with, and any global effects they cause likewise only affect whomever they are engaged with. Generals are not engaged with anyone at the outset, but may always cast spells against any targets on the field - and their globals affect everyone.
If a Regiment is defeated, they are Timetwistered (with the additional effect of also shuffling any cards in play and any cards removed from the game back into their library) and restored to 20 life. The are considered Routed at this point (retreated back to the General), and while they may still drop lands and cast spells, they are no longer engaged with anyone. The Regiment who defeated them is given the same Timetwister effect, reset to 20 life, and then chooses another Regiment to engage (changing sides of the table, if necessary).
If all Regiments of one team are Routed, all of the 'winning' Regiments are set to 40 life and given the Timetwister-like treatment - except that they draw 14 cards instead of 7. The 'losing' Regiments are all similarly Timetwistered, but draw the usual 7 cards. Their life is reset to 20. All Regiments of the winning side then engage all Regiments if the losing side, plus their General. If the attackers slay the General, the game is won in their favor. If they are repelled, they fall back to their own General. Everyone is then Timetwistered, the repelled Regiments set to 10 life and the opposing Regiments set to 20 life. Everyone is then engaged in a final battle - victory going to the team whom kills the other team's General.
I was assigned as the middle-left Regiment. This is what I brought to the table:
The Ouch Generator, Mk. I
4x Seismic Assault
4x Zombie Infestation
4x Howling Mine
4x Land Tax
4x Desperate Ritual
That's right. 20 spells, 40 land.
My first opponent was playing with Black / Green aggro-control (some people know this archetype as 'The Rock'). First turn Land Tax, second turn Zombie infestation. He had a first turn birds, but I was churning-out Zombies faster than he could find his own threats. A couple of dead Baloths prolonged the game, but he couldn't find a Pernicious Deed before he hit 0 life. I'm reset, and I decide to help-out my Astral Slide teammate against Goblins. Another first-turn Land Tax, and a second-turn Seismic Assault thanks to Desperate Ritual. I help sweep-away his threats, then spend two turns sending volleys at his dome before he dies. I move against a Show and Tell / Darksteel Colossus deck that our teammate's White / Green aggro-control deck is having a really hard time against. First turn Land Tax, second turn Zombie Infestation. My ally's Moment's Peace and Holy Day plays keep the Colossus at bay, and he gets overrun by Zombies and Spikes.
The rest of the enemy Regiments have fled by now, thanks to the rest of my teammates. So, we move against his General. Land Tax --> Seismic Assault --> Land Tax. The enemy General died as a result of direct damage on turn 4 of the attack.
The 'prize' was distributed evenly among our team, and I departed for home at around 1:30. I think everyone had fun.
So, looks like Midnight Magic will become an annual event. I'll see if I can't keep a record of it going, and try to note anything that might be learned from it.