Multi Player Chaos Mayhem
My name is Mike. I've been playing Magic since 1994. I am very much a casual player, though I have attended the odd sanctioned event. I hail from London, Ontario, and though I no longer live there, I still try to attend whenever my old play group gets together for an evening of card-flopping and socializing. Our preferred "format", if you want to call it that, is multiplayer chaos. There is no range and no "attack left" rule, no restrictions at all really. Attacking players may send their creatures at any number of defenders. The banned and restricted lists are not enforced (although if more than one Sol Ring hit the table coming from the same person's deck, there would probably be griping). Of the sanctioned formats, the card pool involved with our games would most closesly resemble Legacy, with a few Demonic Tutors thrown in.
I was exploring the Internet, looking for articles on Magic, when I came across mtgontario.com. I saw an article about multi player Magic and decided to check it out. I read the article, which was titled "Multi Player Miscellany #20: Building Decks Around One Card". The author sung the praises of Future Sight's Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth. The decklist seemed OK, but my interest was drawn past the decklist to the end of the article, which advertised an event at Dueling Grounds in Toronto on Saturday, April 14th, 2007. The event was called Multi Player Chaos Mayhem. Without knowing anything about it but the name, I decided to attend. I mean, come on! "Multi Player Chaos Mayhem"? If anything, I'd have made the name longer.
The Dueling Grounds website (www.dueling-grounds.com) listed a number of upcoming events hosted by the store, including Multi Player Chaos Mayhem Something. The rules were a lot like how my playgroup worked: players may attack or target any opponent. The event used the Legacy banned list, with the addition of "any mass land removal cards". I wasn't sure what that meant, and sent an e-mail off to the store owner, requesting an actual list of banned cards, as I suspected that many decks I currently had built would violate this rule. The scoring was simple: each player gets one point for each other player they kill. If a single spell or effect kills multiple players, it only counts as one point. The winner of the game gets double points for all players they killed that game.
I found out later that the spam settings on my e-mail prevented the store's reply from reaching my Inbox, so as the day approached, I thought I hadn't received a reply regarding the banned list. That wasn't going to stop me; I just made a pass through my existing decks and replaced what I thought were some of the more blatantly offensive cards. One or two decks I left intact though, even though I was pretty sure they'd be "banned" by the store's definition. More on that later.
On May 7th, the Saturday before the Multi Player event was scheduled to take place, I visited Dueling Grounds for the first time. I happened to be nearby, and I wanted to scope the place out. The store was as the website described it: tons of hobby related material, including Magic, and demonstration tables showcasing a variety of tabletop games. There were signed Magic artwork prints on the walls, including (of course) a proof of Pete Venters's art for the Invasion rare "Dueling Grounds". All in all, it was pretty nice. The play area in the basement was spacious, and the ceiling was high enough that I didn't have to stoop. (This is not always the case; some stores's play areas are dungeons by comparison.) The store's appearance, plus the friendly demeanor of the employees there, finalized my decision to attend. Though I hadn't set any Magic money aside, I still bought a couple of draws from the Magic Pull Box, and got nothing spectacular. (Good luck to you if you want to try it.)
On May 14th, I was back in the store. A player I had never met before asked if I was there for the Multi Player event. I told him yes, which was greeted with enthusiastic approval. I took this as a good sign.
I still had no idea what deck I was playing. I had brought my deck box, which contained 8 decks ranging from ineffective to illegal to just plain silly. I decided I would play a deck that was fun above all, and if it was effective too, then bonus.
I had arrived about an hour early, so I went downstairs to ponder my decision regarding which deck to use. I was soon joined by three more players, including the fellow who had spoken to me earlier. I asked them if they wanted a practice game and they said yes. Their names were Eric, Miranda, and I'm afraid I don't remember the third. I found out later that the lads are Miranda's sons. The family that plays Magic together. I thought that was just a saying! If it isn't, then it's time to make one up.
I hauled out the most funnest deck I had on me, a silly little thing built around the Weatherlight rare Psychic Vortex. I've since seen several other builds on the internet, many of which use some of the same cards that I used, but none are quite the same as mine. Check it out:
2 Jungle Barrier
Momir Vig, Simic Visionary
2 Mystic Snake
2 Simic Sky Swallower
3 Vine Trellis
3 Wall of Blossoms
2 Wall of Roots
Day of the Dragons
4 Psychic Vortex
Words of Wind
2 Yavimaya's Embrace
2 Ensnaring Bridge
2 Null Brooch
2 City of Brass
2 Hickory Woodlot
2 Lotus Vale
3 Mishra's Factory
4 Saprazzan Skerry
Well, I think it's fun. The goal is to get to 5 mana, then cast Psychic Vortex and pray. The Vortex sticks more often than not, surprisingly. Once one or two support cards are in play, the deck actually works pretty well. The Ensaring Bridge prevents opponents from attacking you, and when the Vortex is up to three or four counters, you may attack others with impunity. The Words of Wind is such a bomb; replace the Vortex draws with the Words "bounce" effect, return all your lands to your hand, pass the turn, and put all the lands back with Manabond. If that ever happens, all but the most stubborn opponents scoop. Unfortunately, during the test game I didn't see a single Psychic Vortex; it was all about walls. I just kept drawing walls! I'd cast a Wall of Blossoms and draw a Wall. With five or six walls and nothing else going on, my deck wasn't have an appreciable effect on the game state. Nobody was attacking me (a bunch of walls will have that effect), and I was still alive by the time we had to stop to prepare for the event, so I could have maybe ripped the singleton copy of Day of the Dragons and got the deck doing its thing, but maybe not. Besides, I thought, I can't count on nobody having enchantment removal. I decided that if I was going to do well, I'd have to play a different deck.
I considered my WB Angels deck that I had just recently built, but the house rule banning mass land destruction got in the way. This deck's entire disruption plan was all about mass land destruction effects. There wasn't any way to modify it for this event without rebuilding it from the ground up.
Akroma, Angel of Wrath
Angel of Retribution
4 Desolation Angel
3 Exalted Angel
2 Serra Angel
2 Voice of All
2 Warrior Angel
2 Enlightened Tutor
Crucible of Worlds
4 Urza's Incubator (naming Angels, duh)
4 Flagstones of Trokair
Karakas (aka Krakka Yer Akkas)
2 Godless Shrine
Yes, Copper-Leaf Angel. What are you looking at?? With a mass land destruction effect on the stack, she's not bad... but looking at the decklist now, I have to admit it's not a friendly deck at all. The goal is, of course, to drop an Urza's Incubator as early as possible, then cast a big angel, destroy all but one of everyone's lands and creatures, and then lay down the angel beats. The Enlightened Tutors are basically Incubators # 5 and 6, though a first- or second- turn Land Tax never hurts.
It was now 5 minutes to start time, and I still hadn't decided on a deck! With the clock ticking away, I decided to go with my Red deck, complete with Burning Wish Suite and Sorcery Speed Sideboard. Then a thought occurred to me. I turned to the store owner/ event organizer, and asked if sideboards were allowed. He replied no, as there weren't any matches; after the conclusion of each multiplayer game, the players would shuffle around and start again. Quick as a Flash, I swapped out the Wishes with the sideboard cards that I thought would be the most useful in multiplayer.
There were 8 players present for the event, or two tables of four players each. We were assigned our seats at random for the first round, and play began! I was pumped. Here I was playing my favourite kind of Magic, albeit with total strangers. Who knew what crazy, imaginative, and sorta inefficient tech I would see?
But first, the decklist as I played it.
CONFUSION IN THE RANKS
2 Crater Hellion
3 Norin the Wary
4 Viashino Sandscout
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Seething Song
4 Confusion in the Ranks
2 Ghitu Firebreathing
4 Darksteel Citadel
4 Great Furnace
The sideboard, if you can call it that, was now composed of four Burning Wishes, plus the cards that were either too narrow or too illegal to be included in the maindeck. I showed them to the store owner to see if they were legal in the tournament format.
Jokulhaups ("No way.")
Ruination ("Forget it.")
Wake of Destruction (He gave me the "What part of 'no mass land destruction effects' don't you understand?" look)
Wheel of Fortune ("Uh, banned Legacy list, remember?")
Wildfire ("That would be no.")
The only non-x spell I chose for the maindeck was the Firecat Blitz, and I never drew it once.
The objective is to cast turn-1 or turn-2 Norin, then use Seething Song to power out a turn-3 Confusion. Norin steals about a creature per turn. Ghitu Firebreathing was very effective. A typical ploy was to cast Ghitu Firebreathing targeting the biggest creature in play, and with the Confusion swap trigger on the stack, return it to my hand. For the low price of RR1, I get an enchantment of my choice. This turned out to be very useful, as generally, if a player was packing enchantments, the effect of the enchantment was quite beneficial to its controller. I've since heard conflicting reports regarding the legality of this play, but at the time it was accepted by the group. The artifact lands allowed me to steal either artifacts or lands. The Confusion causes a player to exchange control of permanents that share a type, so my Great Furnace would trigger Confusion because it's an artifact, but it could then be used to snag someone's Tron piece, if necessary. Though the artifact lands don't have the same "rinse and repeat" quality of Norin and Ghitu Firebreathing, it was still good to be able to do it. Brand could return all of my permanents to my side of the board, if necessary, while leaving anything I had stolen right where it was. I don't quite remember how the Psychogenic Probe got in there... probably because when I play with my friends, they'll borrow my own decks to use against me, and the Probe wrecks more than a few of the other decks I have built.
And the event began! I'm afraid I don't know anybody's name, so I'll identify them by the decks they played. There were three rounds, followed by a final round for the top four.
Game 1 Opponents
MUC1. The deck concentrated more on stealing permanents rather than countering spells. It contained one Counterspell and one Force of Will.
MESMERIC ORB. A mill deck in multiplayer! There's something you don't see at a tournament every day. Probably for a good reason, but still, cool.
WHITE WEENIE SHADOW: Unblockable fun.
The MUC deck, sporting only two counterspells, countered my Confusion on turn 3. I never saw another one. I spent my time casting the Viashino Sandscout, zapping critters, milling cards, and getting my skull caved in by Soltari Priests. I don't think any of my opponents realized what Confusion would have done if it hit the table, which was lucky for me. I did manage to burn the Mesmeric Orb player out of the game, so at least I was on the scoreboard. Props to the player using the Mesmeric Orb deck, for daring to dream.
Game 2 Opponents
AFFINITY. Affinity? In multiplayer? I had to see this.
MUC2: This build was 100% about stealing permanents, from what I observed.
RW BIG STUFF: Big, splashy effects from two of my favourite colours in the game. Fun!
This game, I didn't even draw a Confusion. The Affinity player, unsurprisingly, got an early lead before drawing a lot of hate from the other players at the table. For the first five turns, I just made my land drops and tried to look harmless. On turn six, I dropped a Crater Hellion that wiped the board clean. Once the Affinity player had been gang-killed by the rest of the table, I noticed I was ahead on life points, and I had a bunch of mana with an Earthquake in my hand. Moments later, the game was over, and I had two more points. (The Earthquake killed two players, so that's one point, and I was the game winner, so my points for that game were doubled.)
Game 3 Opponents:
MUC1: This guy again. I still nursed a grudge from game 1, where he countered my Confusion.
RW BIG STUFF: I have a deep respect for Dragons and Angels.
???: I can't remember what the other player was packing, though I know he was there, because I killed him. He probably kept an opening hand that he should have shipped back.
MBC1 gladly pays the alternate casting cost of Force of Will when I again try a turn-3 Seething Song into Confusion. In two games, I had seen both of his counterspells. Lucky me! RW Big Stuff drops a Warmonger, which everyone is more than happy to pump mana into. Nobody was at six mana, so unless players were willing to cooperate to remove it, it was sticking around. Players didn't cooperate. This was fine by me; I pumped as much mana into it as the next player. The unfortunatley titled ??? is on my right, and at the end of his turn with him at 4 life, I 'Monger for 1 and then Bolt him out of the game. RW Big Stuff then shows that not every spell in her deck costs 6+ mana, as she casts Flame Rift and kills MBC1 and myself at the same time. It burns!!!
RW BIG STUFF
Affinity apparently had quite the game 1, scoring 6 points by killing every other player at the table on individual turns. RW Big Stuff was riding her two points from Game 3 plus whatever else she accomplished in the first game. I don't know what MUC2 did to get to the finals, but it must have been decent.
I get turn 2 Norin, turn 3 Seething Song into Confusion. Finally! I then steal everybody's good stuff with Norin and Ghitu Firebreathing, including a Moonlit Wake to give me some breathing space. RW Big Stuff casts Pulverize, which makes Affinity boy very sad indeed. I don't wait for him to recover: I kill him first with my stolen horde. The other players see which way the wind is blowing, and stop casting creatures for the most part. All removal is targeting my permanents, but fortunately nobody's got anything to get rid of enchantments. MUC2 aka Board Control Blue isn't so good when I can steal creatures at will, but he tries some shenanigans with False Demise. It's not a bad ploy, actually. Do the math:
False Demise enters play, targeting a creature I stole.
Exchange control of False Demise with Moonlit Wake (cast by RW Big Stuff earlier and stolen by yours truly).
Now I control the False Demise on my own creature. When the creature dies, it comes back into play under my control. I must then give it away.
The hitch is, for this plan to work, someone has to kill my Norin before the enchanted creature dies, and nobody can seem to do it. Every time someone cast a spell, he disappears! Plus, I have Lightning Bolts in hand to scoop him out of harm's way if necessary. While I admire the fact that MUC2 must worked his way through the torturous chain of False Demise logic before playing the card, I figure he's got to go, and he is the next to die. A couple of turns later, RW Big Stuff actually kills Norin with a Martyr of Ashes. I'd run out of burn. She played the Martyr, and then sacrificed it in response to the Norin trigger. This earns her some applause. Unfortunately for her, I was holding two direct damage x- spells, and drew a Lightning Bolt on my next turn. I burn her out. The turn before I Bolt her to death I draw another Norin, just to add insult to hilarity.
My prize was nine Future Sight boosters and a foil promo Boomerang. Not bad for $10.
This deck was a blast to play, as was the tournament. I'd certainly do it again. Dueling Grounds promises to hold a Multi Player Chaos Mayhem event every month, and while I can't attend the June event, I'm certain that I'll be back.
Good luck and have fun,