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Light Casual
By Eric Turgeon
In one of my more recent articles, I detailed ten categories of casual players and what they look for in a game. Ideally, you'd want to play against an opponent using a deck with a similar power level as your own. So why not categorize the power of decks and hope that players can find opponents that are thinking on the same wavelength? Obviously, a player using Counsel of the Soratami to draw cards is not going to stand much of a chance against a player using Ancestral Recall to draw cards. This disparity in power level makes the game less fun for both players.

I chose to sort players by some basic philosophies: What are a player's motives? How much is a player willing to spend on his cards and his decks? How much does a player strive to be different? Would a player rather play duels or multiplayer? Each of these questions limits the available cardpool, just like regular formats, such as Standard and Extended do. And in the same vein, if a player has a Standard deck, he'll want to play against other Standard decks. It keeps the game balanced and fair.

However, when I wrote about "casual harmony," I forgot to include one factor that seems to touch the most nerves the actual abilities of individual cards, regardless of how cheaply they can be obtained or the quality of the cards in the deck around them. Most Magic players know that certain abilities are regarded as unfair, even if the cards they are printed on are actually quite balanced or even substandard. So for the players averse to these abilities, I present a new group of casual players, which I call Light Casual, and the types of cards they prefer to avoid.

Land Destruction
Why it's hated: Most players can't do anything without lands
The cards that gave it a bad name: Sinkhole, Strip Mine
The skinny: Land destruction sits alone on the top of the light casual player's banned list. Even terrible and inefficient land destruction cards such as Fissure and Rain of Rust are frowned upon in most casual games. The underlying dilemma exists in the desire to cast big spells or set up mana-intensive combos. Land destruction impedes these plans, despite its extreme susceptibility to fast decks, cheap creatures and the much more efficient mana-accelerants available. The popularity of the cycle of common Ravnica dual lands has made land destruction much more powerful and equally hated.
The verdict: Lands are not to be trifled with. If you're playing light casual, avoid these spells at all cost.

Discard
Why it's hated: Players get frustrated when their best spells go straight from their hands into their graveyards.
The cards that gave it a bad name: Hypnotic Specter, Hymn to Tourach
The skinny: The hatred for discard stems much more from the loss of potential than its actual effect on the game. Of all the light casual cards to avoid, discard probably remains the most prevalent. Because, by their nature, discard strategies attack unused resources, the power level of discard spells has been scaled back only marginally over the years. This is evidenced by the fact that one of the most dreaded discard cards Hypnotic Specter is still in print today.
The verdict: Dark Ritual may be gone, but its effects are remembered. Steer clear of all discard effects in light casual games.

Counter Magic
Why it's hated: Players get frustrated when their best spells go straight from their hands into their graveyards.
The cards that gave it a bad name: Counterspell, Force of Will
The skinny: Counter spells have had their power gradually scaled back over the years, seeing higher casting costs and requiring tighter conditions to be successful. However, the stigma behind them remains. Although inherently limited by their nature as reactionary spells, the anguish caused by eliminating a key component of a deck almost always leads the recipient to hold a grudge.
The verdict: Players can only stand having their best cards nullified only so many times. Limit the number of counter spells in a deck and only use high cost ones that won't ruin the early game.

Direct Damage
Why it's hated: Games have less interaction, turning into races against time.
The cards that gave it a bad name: Lightning Bolt, X-spells (Fireball, Disintegrate, etc)
The skinny: Direct damage is one of the touchier topics of the light casual debate. The cards themselves tend not to upset nearly as much as the manner in which they are played. For example, a second-turn Shock targeting a White Knight is expected, while a first-turn Lightning Bolt targeting a player is severely frowned upon. The problem presented by direct damage decks is that they do not attempt to interact with an opposing strategy, simply dealing 20 damage as quickly as possible.
The verdict: Only use spells that can target a creature or a player. Save them for eliminating threats and dealing the last few points of damage only.

Bounce
Why it's hated: Players want their permanents to stay in play once cast.
Cards that give it a bad name: Boomerang + Isochron Scepter; Cephalid Constable + Giant Growth
The skinny: Bounce is one of the most ineffective forms of removal, yet many people are extremely bothered by it. Bounce strategies are usually used for delaying games and rarely end them or even nullify an opponent's strategy. However, the weakness of bounce spells may be the cause of their strength. Because opponents don't actually lose a card in the process, bounce spells can hit a wider variety of cards at a cheaper cost than anything else. This indirectly makes Boomerang one of the cheapest land destruction cards around.
The verdict: Use them only to stall actual threats. Don't bounce lands!

Theft
Why it's hated: The bible says stealing is wrong.
Cards that give it a bad name: Memnarch, Bribery
The skinny: Stealing your opponent's cards is definitely one of the riskiest and least-efficient ways to win a game. It's also an extremely frustrating way to lose. Having your best creature in play Confiscated or the best creature in your deck stolen via Bribery and then used to kill you feels like a punch in the gut. But on the other hand, if one of your powerful cards gets stolen, there's a good chance you were planning to use it yourself. Just like trash talk, you shouldn't dish it out if you can't take it yourself.
The verdict: Use them freely to win the game, but don't steal more than you have to. That's just rubbing it in.

Mass Removal
Why it's hated: The effects are too great.
Cards that give it a bad name: Wrath of God, Armageddon
The skinny: Every color has some way to eliminate all of one or more types of permanent on the board. Players have been using these cards since Magic began, tuning their decks to limit the impact on themselves. The frustration arises when an opponent gets hit in an especially vulnerable area and unable to recover from the blow.
The verdict: As always, don't blow up lands, even if your own are included in the destruction. Everything else is fair game.

Tribal
Why it's hated: Popularity.
Cards that give it a bad name: Slivers, Coat of Arms, half of Onslaught Block
The skinny: For some reason, there have been a lot of complaints online about people overusing tribal decks. Since Onslaught debuted, they've been a popular theme, and the power and ease of matching up identical creature types has risen sharply. This increase in power seems to have left a lot of people wishing that tribal decks were allowed only in tribal formats.
The verdict: Quite frankly, I don't understand the hatred here. If you face too many tribal decks, then start tweaking your decks to combat them. Tribal decks are fun. Play away!

Read More Articles by Eric Turgeon!

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