Competitive Magic for Roleplaying Gamers

One of the big problems with newer players, who have some experience under their belt, but not much, is that they’ve learned a certain style of play and they try to play that way whatever deck they play.

First things first: Kai Budde is one of the two greatest players ever. He has seven Pro Tour wins, which is more than twice the number of wins anyone else has. If he has enough time to prepare, he is as unstoppable as a player in such a random game can be. Well, back when Channel Fireball: The Pantheon was Team StarCityGames, they had player bios for each teammember. Each had a guild… except for Budde, who’s bio said something along the lines of not being there to roleplay.

So, with that in mind, where does the RPGing come in? Well, you can use that as a shortcut for your style. You need to take a certain role and for many, this will be easier, if you can give your deck a personality.

This personality shouldn’t be random or arbitrary, but instead should obviously have something to do with the deck. You are basically committing to the strategy of the deck rather than general play advice.

What does this mean in practice? MaRo likes to talk about color philosophy. Each color has its own views on life.

White is about community and society. They are not necessarily “good”, because in their own sick way, fascism is also white. So, generally, protect your guys, but know that some of them might need to take a hit and go down for the good of the greater whole. Sometimes you need to attack into a situation where you’ll lose some troops, but that doesn’t matter if the whole survives.

Blue is about knowledge and being prepared. This doesn’t need to be its own end, but often is. You need to be aware of your situation and plan ahead. Do I counter right now as I have free mana, or is it more important to counter some other spell later on in the game? You need to be aware of all things. The tempo, your plan, your opponent’s plan, your deck. The more information you have, the better. Be curious, take notes and so forth.

Black is about self. Just like white isn’t always good, black isn’t always evil. In fact, there are some black good guys in the history of magic, specifically Toshiro Umezawa and Sorin Markov. Black is amoral and is ready to do anything to achieve its goals. Sure, allegiances are good, but they are also just resources that can be expended if needed. Assess the importance of your life total. If its not that important, its a resource for you to use at will. Your creatures are there to be sacrificed at will. There is no room for sentimentality.

Red is about the moment. Sure, there’s a future, but we’ll tackle that when we get there. Right now we’re just doing what needs to be done. Be quick, be forceful, overcommit. Use what you have now. There is no tomorrow. After all, you’ll win now, but if the game drags out, you’re losing anyhow.

Green is about growth. And it can get out of hand quickly. Embrace that. You are playing green to get that Akroan Colossus out on the third turn. Live for those moments when your Polukranos goes monstrous and mows down all those pesky little humans.

This is (of course) just a place to start. Since you are going to play more than one color at most times (unlike me), you are likely going to need to find something more intricate (or less intricate in some cases). Also, there’s also different approaches to colors as well. You’ll play Monoblack Devotion very differently than Monoblack Aggro, even if they still have certain elements of their colors philosophy, but just in different degrees.

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