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 Post subject: How to Beat Four People at Once
AgePosted: 2007-Oct-06 11:46 am 
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Joined: 2007-Jan-05 12:58 am
Age: Elder Dragon
I just wrote an article for my game store's newsletter that I thought you fine folks might be interested in reading. It's about multiplayer, not strictly about EDH, but I think it's relevant to these forums (I had EDH in mind while writing it).
Here's a link to the pdf: http://www.sentrybox.com/nmanagerpro/assets/2007-10/merchant_scroll_2.pdf

It's a monthly column. If you'd like to get it regularly in your e-mail, you can sign up at the bottom of this page.

I actually wrote a second column for this month, but it has nothing to do with EDH (it's about my experience at Canadian Nationals), so I won't post it unless you want me to.

Hope you enjoy.

edit: typo

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Last edited by Ban Ki-moon on 2007-Oct-11 12:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: How to Beat Four People at Once
AgePosted: 2007-Oct-10 11:34 am 

Joined: 2006-Jul-14 12:02 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
Location: Wherever I may roam
Ban Ki-moon wrote:
I just wrote an article for my game store's newsletter that I thought you fine folks might be interested in reading. It's about multiplayer, not strictly about EDH, but I think it's relevant to these forums (I had EDH in mind while writing it).
Here's a link to the pdf: http://www.sentrybox.com/nmanagerpro/assets/2007-10/merchant_scroll_2.pdf


Nicely written and all, but...a lot of your arguments work in a vacuum, with four emotionless robot opponents, but will fall down in multiplayer with real opponents. Of all the cards you list as good, Solemn Sim, Gratuitous Violence and some green are really all I agree strongly with. Big board sweepers, flashy lifegain and in-your-face cards like Mind's Eye and Doubling Season tend to paint big targets on your head. Actually, I've seen a few games where Doubling Season's power level is high enough to just win the game, but in most multiplayer environments it shouldn't...

Basically, when you sit down with 4 opponents, you have to realise that they all have 4 opponents too, it's not "you vs 4" until you make it so. Mind's Eye polarises things so much it almost immediately makes this so, it's the reason it's been gone from my principal EDH deck for some time. (Rhystic Study, which does the same thing - essentially, is still there because it makes it the opponent's fault that they're letting you draw cards...)

The Ferrett on the magic wesite previewed Dread as a top tick for black multiplayer, as it does everything you want, more than No Mercy. I'm not so sure I agree wth that, as No Mercy doesn't sit there being a fearsome 6/6 and it usually harder to kill. Either way, both of them serve to help redirect interest. Why waste your resources attacking the other players? It'll only provoke them into reciprocal action, and get you killed faster. Why waste your resources - when you can play such a card that almost forces their offence to go elsewhere - and will do your work for you?

Multiplayer games are often won by the quiet decks that bided their time, didn't overextend, and then when tested, showed just enough to keep the pressure off them, and enough force to clean up the game at its conclusion.


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AgePosted: 2007-Oct-10 2:28 pm 

Joined: 2007-Jun-04 6:34 am
Age: Elder Dragon
Location: Gainsville, FL
Rhystic Study is a poor example and you know it, Simon. When every spell is accompanied by a sarcastic Brit drawling "didja pay one furthat?" it gets noticed and swatted like a fly before you get to cantrip it. Once players become familiar with the card, or if it is played in such a way (as you tend to do) that it loses its subtlety, it loses effectiveness. It may be a player's fault they forgot to pay, but you have to remind them, and you played the card in the first place; in doing so you draw their ire. This is a card I find better in theory than practice.

On the other hand, Mind's Eye is there, everyone knows it, but you don't have to pester people by making them feel cheated when you draw. If you tap out for it, you're dumb. You can usually at least cantrip it. If you don't constantly sink all of your mana into it every turn (hence drawing attention to it), you can milk it slowly, which is what I think it is best for, and it will sit around until someone happens to have some artifact kill handy and has no better target. By then you have hopefully netted 3-5 cards. I think it is better than you credit it if you play it conservatively.

No Mercy is fabulous, agreed. At our table, at least three of us play it, though, and we know how much of a bitch it is. So it isn't as subtle as it would be at a generic table. It's better than Moat or Ensnaring Bridge because it doesn't keep people from killing each other, or piss other people off because their creatures can't attack period.

I think Dread is great, though. I'd play a 6/6 Fear guy, especially if he's black, because he doesn't die to most black removal (terror, sacrificed Havoc Demon, etc) because he is black and has a big butt. Look at the No Mercy ability as gravy. This certainly doesn't replace No Mercy. They play different roles. You can play both, or they don't need to be in the same deck.


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 Post subject:
AgePosted: 2007-Oct-10 9:15 pm 

Joined: 2007-Jul-12 11:06 pm
Age: Wyvern
Philatio wrote:
Rhystic Study is a poor example and you know it, Simon. When every spell is accompanied by a sarcastic Brit drawling "didja pay one furthat?" it gets noticed and swatted like a fly before you get to cantrip it.


Have you been playing in my group?

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AgePosted: 2007-Oct-10 10:51 pm 

Joined: 2007-Jun-04 6:34 am
Age: Elder Dragon
Location: Gainsville, FL
Lez wrote:
Have you been playing in my group?


I don't think so. Simon and I play in Princeton, NJ but Simon does travel around sometimes. He's the Brit in question aka Nomad.


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 Post subject:
AgePosted: 2007-Oct-11 12:56 am 
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Joined: 2007-Jan-05 12:58 am
Age: Elder Dragon
Thanks for the feedback, especially Nomad.
I do know that timing is crucial in a large game, and mopping up the remnants of a battle that you weren't involved in is easy work, of course. You have to be playing with bad, bad players, though, if you can consistantly sit back and do nothing FTW. Perhaps we have differing play-styles, but sometimes you just have to go for the collective throat.

To answer your question, Nomad ("Why waste resources attacking other players?"), because someone has to. Players are generally quick to learn the I'm-not-a-threat-go-kill-that-guy-please trick. Once they do, it's simply not effective any more. They realize, "Thallid boy has some threats that might be a problem later, but he's pretty easy to gauge. Ghostly Prison/No Mercy guy is definitely up to something, with his six-card hand and eight mana sources."
Either that, or they relax, just like you.

When I'm working at the store, one of the questions most frequently asked is how to break up the stalls that occur at tables full of Nomads. I always say, Just beat them. Instead of wasting your cards on test spells and wasting your tempo on actually doing nothing, assemble a force that's unstoppable even when everyone sees you're the threat.

Look at the blue/green decklist I put together, for instance. It's basically a 60 card version of my Momir Vig EDH, and it works fabulously. I won't reiterate what I wrote in the article, but The Team + Forbid really is game-win against any number of opponents. Recurring lost cards and tutoring your library so often makes it very difficult to disrupt*, so you can just chug along, countering only the gravest of threats along the way. It's a great example of a multiplayer deck that can just go after the entire table, forcing everyone to get in the game or lose.

The article, after all was titled "How to Beat Four People at Once".

P.S. Rhystic Study is less of an irritant than Mind's Eye**? Really?



* I just regret leaving Riftsweeper off of the list, since he's so good at returning Team members from the RFG zone.

**edit: Mind Stone -> Mind's Eye

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Last edited by Ban Ki-moon on 2007-Oct-26 11:55 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: disagree with those card choices
AgePosted: 2007-Oct-12 10:04 am 
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Joined: 2007-Sep-21 8:22 am
Age: Elder Dragon
I wholeheartedly disagree with your core cards to beat 4 people, because the easiest way to beat 4 people at once is to combo them out. Gifts Ungiven + Tidespout Tyrant, Humility + Dovescape, your specifically mention cards that are "global" but you entitled your article how to WIN, not how to threaten/disrupt/board control 4 opponents. To not include the core combos is sadness yo. I didn't mention life combos because there are too many, but that would have been a great include in the article as well.


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AgePosted: 2007-Oct-12 5:09 pm 

Joined: 2007-Sep-29 1:30 am
Age: Wyvern
The article is generally well-written but does generally lack kill conditions.

In the "This turn is my turn" deck I was dismayed to not see Sprout Swarm/Intruder Alarm. In any green/blue deck this combo is virtually mandatory (generate infinite 1/1 creatures every turn). Sure, it gets shut down by Betrayal of Night's Soul, but it's still a beast. Sprout Swarm is good enough by itself to be an auto-include for green (not listed in the article).

Teferi is an excellent choice. If the article was geared towards EDH, I would note that Teferi is probably the best mono-blue general choice.

Innocent Blood is an OK choice, but from experience Barter In Blood and Damnation are far better auto-includes for black. Innocent Blood is cheap, but it's still a sorcery and aggro decks aren't going to flinch at losing a single creature.

Rolling Thunder is arguable as the top choice Red spell. I'd put Molten Disaster due to split second. Rolling Thunder is only awesome if an opponent doesn't counter it. Molten Disaster can't be countered.

Another notable card missing from Red is Wild Ricochet. Deflection + Fork for 3 mana (RR1)? It's both prevention and potential kill effect.


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AgePosted: 2007-Oct-12 10:39 pm 
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Age: Elder Dragon
I intentionally left my notes on combo light, and frankly I'm surprised by these consecutive posts advocating infinite wins.

Perhaps it's a local thing, but combo decks are generally unwelcome at the multiplayer table. It's a shame when an interesting, back-and-forth game of attrition just suddenly... ends when the combo player mises his last piece. A long game is like a story, with a beginning, middle and end, and the combo player closes the book abruptly during a middle chapter.

I don't often get to play at the casual table, because I'm always working the FNM tournament. I do know, though, that if someone goes infinite, standard practice among the guys is to say, "Good game, you won", and then complete the game as if it hadn't happened.

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 Post subject:
AgePosted: 2007-Oct-13 12:30 pm 

Joined: 2007-Jun-04 6:34 am
Age: Elder Dragon
Location: Gainsville, FL
Ban Ki-moon wrote:
I intentionally left my notes on combo light, and frankly I'm surprised by these consecutive posts advocating infinite wins.

Perhaps it's a local thing, but combo decks are generally unwelcome at the multiplayer table. It's a shame when an interesting, back-and-forth game of attrition just suddenly... ends when the combo player mises his last piece. A long game is like a story, with a beginning, middle and end, and the combo player closes the book abruptly during a middle chapter.

I don't often get to play at the casual table, because I'm always working the FNM tournament. I do know, though, that if someone goes infinite, standard practice among the guys is to say, "Good game, you won", and then complete the game as if it hadn't happened.


Hee hee. That's harsh. But probably good at sending a message. Then again, if the "winner" has permanents you want to interact with in the rest of the game, it kind of sucks if he yanks his cards, having won, ruining your carefully crafted game state.

I will preface the following paragraph by saying that throwing intruder alarm and sprout swarm into a deck with UG in it, or similar examples, and is not dedicated to finding those cards specifically to end the game as quickly as possible is not a "combo deck".

I dunno, in a small enough metagame, your combo deck becomes well known. If it sucks, well, whatever. If it is competitive, it's fair. If it's truly degenerate, your friends can just ask you not to play it.

But a good combo deck doesn't "mise" its combo pieces, it goes and gets them forcefully in the same way an aggro deck slams creatures on the board and turns them sideways - it gets its threats asap and goes for the throat, but in doing so, is often open to disruption. For aggro it's weakness is wrath effects, but for combo it is hosers, permission spells and pinpoint removal.

I had an EDH deck that went for Metalworker + Staff of Domination to draw my deck after making infinite mana. It found them by using every tinker, artifact tutor or appropriate transmute effect in blue, big mana artifacts and draw 7's in blue and red to see lots of cards and artifact copy and recursion. It usually won by using the lone goblin welder (and lightning greaves) to win that turn by either untapping him repeatedly to weld in and out Triskelion enough times to kill the table, or in the event of Ivory Mask, etc, weld in and out Jar enough times to deck everyone but myself because I could continuously feed mana into Reito Lantern. Or Karn and swing with everything next turn.

However, the deck keeled over to Null Rod, Damping Matrix, Planar Void and any number of hosers once you realize Goblin Welder was the lynchpin once I got my combo. I found my draw 7's filled my opponent's hands up with counterspells and Putrefys at inopportune times. So I seldom comboed out successfully in games with 5 or more people due to hate. Fortunately, I could still power out big machines with lots of fast artifact mana and play it like an aggro deck if plan A failed, but since it wasn't built to do that, it did a mediocre job. I think even these decks are easily hated, or at least beaten into a sufferable level by the rest of the group.

My point is that I agree that combos you mise into are lame. They are uncreative and unfun. Dedicated combo decks are another thing, however. They add the "uh oh" factor at the table - the lurking shark in the water. That can be more enjoyable. Simon (Nomad) has a Numot deck that likes to play Eye of the Storm and other cards with the Storm mechanic. It doesn't win often, but when it does, it is flashy. And it definitely makes people nervous at the table.


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AgePosted: 2007-Oct-15 6:06 am 
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Joined: 2007-Mar-28 10:17 am
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Quote:
It's a shame when an interesting, back-and-forth game of attrition just suddenly... ends when the combo player mises his last piece. A long game is like a story, with a beginning, middle and end, and the combo player closes the book abruptly during a middle chapter.


Hear! Hear!

There are a couple of decks that I've had to put into the "kill on sight at all costs" category after they've aborted a perfectly good game. A certain Experiment Kraj deck is the poster child for this category.

This is the primary reason I'm unhappy with the Riftsweeper rule. The only use I envisioned for Riftsweeper was to take out a combo deck's general for long enough to kill off the player behind the deck. *sigh*

Heck, even if the combo deck did in the entire table on turn 6 before the game really got started (been there -- got the scars to prove it), it wasted the fairly long setup time required to round up players, sort out duplicate legends, and shuffle up 100-card decks.

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 Post subject: I can understand but...
AgePosted: 2007-Oct-15 8:13 am 
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Joined: 2007-Sep-21 8:22 am
Age: Elder Dragon
I can understand your viewpoint, but we aren't playing strictly casual we are "kind of" trying to better a format. In that vein, standards such as null rod and multiple disenchant effects should probably be in your deck. If they aren't, and combo isn't present, the game is skewed to be more strictly casual and less like a format. And besides, it makes the games far more fun to play in edh duels (which yes I know you probably don't ever play). Anyhow as more of a strict dueler who really only likes thd and emperor for a multiplayer format I condone brokenness in all its forms and yeah yeah I'm a vintage player at heart anyway (mana drain ftw). I guess as a strictly casual article it works, but as an article explaining the fundamentals of winning in a large multiplayer environment you can't ignore the fact that the combo win not only exists, but is the most likely scenario for a win.

I do think it's very cool that you develop attachment to the game and that's one of the most appealing parts of edh. I think stumbling upon a instant win to wriggle to victory in a lost game isn't horrible, though, it's the best part of playing cards.


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AgePosted: 2007-Oct-19 1:03 am 
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Age: Elder Dragon
I play EDH duels quite often (more often than not, in fact), and if you haven't seen them, my three cardinal decks are quite competitive. I even play Mana Drain FTW, too.

I guess my position can be best summarized thusly: There is literally nothing at stake.

When you sit down with your friends (emphasis plural) for a game of Magic, the only value anyone can extract from the situation is fun. Winning, of course, is the bee's knees, and the winner of each game can often be described as the one who had the most fun. Victory, though, is not the only way to achieve fun. Obviously, everyone has fun by making interesting plays, testing their deckbuilding skills, and just generally jockeying for first place.

Bringing a dedicated combo deck to the table will, much more often than not, steal several consecutive wins from the table. You've then achieved the maximum fun:time ratio (Yesss!). In the process, though, you've reduced both the frequency and relevancy of strategic, interactive plays, especially for the non-winners, reducing the fun value drastically for your table mates. The metagame will shift accordingly.

Rarely (as suggested by your talk of Disenchant and Null Rod), a playgroup will default to attack each other on unusual fronts, to hurt the others' known weaknesses. This is amazing when it happens, but is a problem in that a) it requires a substantial collection of solid combo-hosers, b) it requires a substantial level of skill and knowledge of combo-hosing, and especially c) there are many decks, many combos, and one deck cannot possibly have all the cards necessary to disrupt them all. There is an easier way.

Rather than evolving into a healthy, back-and-forth metagame of combo and combo-disruption, a playgroup will often erode into a handful of non-interactive combo decks all racing to a quick infinity. The winner will still achieve maximum fun, but the losers will be left with very little. Not only that, but the maximum fun becomes lower and lower, since the struggle for first place becomes less of a struggle and more of an announcement.

At this point, the multiplayer metagame strongly resembles the classic prisoner's dillema.

Cooperate (play fair) or defect (play combo). When simply taking your personal pleasure into account, it seems that choosing combo each time will maximize your expected value, regardless of what your opponents choose (it's true). Defecting, though, lowers the EV for the table as a whole, especially if your opponents choose the same. If each player chooses to cooperate, the EV for everyone rises, above even the maximum EV for a combo player in a room full of fair decks.

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 Post subject:
AgePosted: 2007-Oct-25 8:51 pm 

Joined: 2007-Sep-29 1:30 am
Age: Wyvern
Getting several wins with a combo deck assumes that everyone else isn't also bringing combos/combo spoilers.

Our group has found that virtually any threat has an answer, especially at a multiplayer table.

Drop a nasty general? Expect to see Condemn, Spin into Myth, etc.

Sprout Swarm/Intruder Alarm combo? Expect to see Time Stop, or counter/disenchant spells.

Granted, our group tends to be a bit more competitive since it consists of the top-ranked player in our state, three dci judges, and old-school players like myself.


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