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The Orgg's Treatise on: Land and Other Issues
By Jensen Bohren
It's been a LONG time since my last original article. So many things have happened, the most of which I won't even touch on. A Pre-Release report that might not get written is one item that is on my "To-Do" list, as well as saving up enough money for perchasing a Button Maker for the CPA buttons that are STILL forthcoming. Buying one of them used is a bit tricky, believe it or not...

More than most of my submissions, this will be a general topic rant/semi-strategy article for the new-and-somewhat-improved Casual Players' Alliance. How is it improved? We are now no longer redirected from www.casualplayers.org to www.magic-singles.com/cpa; Now we are indeed casualplayers.org. For some reason, it seems like I used WAY too many periods in the past sentance, but I digress...

One point I'd like to bring up is the fact of the writing of "Casual Players' Alliance" in many people's websites. Every time I see our website mentioned, and I'm including everyone active and lurking in the forum as "our," I'm very pleased and grateful to the person. This website, as you probably know, is non-commercial. The banners at the top of the page are from "you scratch our back, we'll scratch yours" types of deals worked out a long time ago when this site was first starting up; not one red/semired/red-yellow/brownish/brownish-black cent hits the hand of Mike (or Ed, as we know him) Sullivan. His hard work has yielded what we all see here before us, and we owe it to him to be gracious and thank him. If banner ads are placed that aren't The Magic Obsession or MOTL, make sure to give 'em a click. As a matter of fact, give the MOTL one a click anyway...

And as one request to those who put the links and such on their sites: Put "Players'" and not "Player's" It's all of our site, not just one player's.

On to the strategy part of this article, the one part that truly I am amazed there hasn't been any large and detailed articles written on the subject put into the 'net (or even highly told). I'll start off with the explanation of how the technique occurred to me.

I was helping judge booster drafts at the Atlanta regeonals not too long ago (a few months, at least, but less than a year) and was given the assignment that included three professional players. For the sake of themselves, I will not give their names. This fact is also to save me from either bragging about getting them to sign some cards for me or complaining that I didn't have the cards that befit them to sign. Why does every pro have a signature rare? The only one that didn't (at least until Mirage came out) was Hammer Regnier, who was asked to sign Healing Salves after beating Guevin in the second Pro Tour... And now it's some kind of hammer for him... Anyway, Every one of the professionals were using their own land. I found this suspicious, and watched two of them play out their first match. As luck of the bad variety would have it, both R"TM"S and "GA" were paired from being in the opposite ends of the "X" I used for pairings (as the match sheets state, in case you havn't ever seen one). I kept a close look on their decks to see if I could tell when a land was going to pop up, as I sadly suspected cheating. After realizing I had only guessed two-out-of twelve right, I concluded neither of the players were using marked land. I wondered what it could be. I began looking at what was in play and enjoying the game as I reviewed a potential judge on obscure things. We both found that Warped DEVOtion and Storm Caldron worked very well for stripping hands, too, but that's off subject. Later, when thinking about the pro's usage of their land, I came to a startling realization. I don't know if it had to do with Storm Cauldron or not, but I have the feeling that I don't care where the realisation came from.

To have a better technical edge, use only the EXACT same type of basic lands in your deck. Ever notice(if you read Newwave.org back in the day) that Jay Schnider ALWAYS had "XX ARENA ISLANDS/SWAMPS/MOUNTAINS/FORESTS/PLAINS" for the land of his decklists? "For good luck" would always be in the "{ }" beside it, and most people took it as I did at that point: A professional being somwhat cocky about his resources and/or trading ability. Ever realize that near every "preview" on ESPN it has people with Beta or similarly hard-to-get lands in it? I mocked that practice at some Masques block tournaments by having all Pink-background Ice Age forests in my twelve-land Thrive deck. Little did I know that I had one of the simplest, yet overlooked strategies in my deck. Jay Schnider is not only the genius deckbuider who paved the way with "Sligh" and "Fish," he attempted to give out what MUST be the biggest kept secret on the professional levels of tournament play to everyone who copied decklists EXACTLY as written: Your lands are predictable.

Ever played Land Grant in a mono-green deck? I'm sure you have. Ever had the bad luck of drawing a forest the turn after you granted yourself that land? Did you play a land that turn?

The answer is obviously 'YES, you big IDIOT!"

Now the all-important question: "Did you think about which copy of 'Forest' you put into play that turn?"

The answer, in all probability is "No... why?"

My answer is this: Every card in your hand is public knowledge in the game of Magic. It is a card in such-and-such player's hand. Any more information cannot be determined by anything else. It's a simple game fact. If your playing your friend Beaureguard whose "Insta-Wratha-my Routa-roota!" is slightly muffed in one corner because it's a stupid Migrane introducing foil card that wears without protection more than non-migrain giving sheened cards, you just might know it from the look of the card. Just put on some sleeves without some kind of marks on them, and they become simply cards. Technically, you don't know which card your opponent has drawn. "It's that one on the left" is NOT an answer to the question-- It's actually akin to cheating. This is the reason Professional layers "shuffle" their hand nervously during tournaments. Watch Sol Malka if you ever witness him play. The sound effects during the match sound like this: "Whiphk! swihph swiph schwip." The first draw is placed into his hand almost without looking, then shuffled three times within his hand. He then plays a land if need be, and gets on with his turn. How does this relate to your lands? Well, playing it as soon as you draw it is somwhat ignorant and wasteful, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Land is a basic resource that's inherent in winning Magic. Originally, in my first playgroup, twelve land was enough, and fifteen was considered plenty. We also tapped the Dual Lands (thankfully, I borrowed decks) on blacktop. *shudders* Today, the land amount used has doubled from the old ways of thinking, and is typically kept away from the old "twenty-land, thirty creatures/ten spells" thought train of '95 and '96. Given, it is possible other places picked up on it sooner, but without access to this great medium you're reading currently, I have absolutly no way to know... and sadly, the safest place to find such old items is the lost information on www.thedojo.com... Somone needs to re-pick up that name, and find where the stuff on it was stored... but that's a rant that should be somwhere on the backpages, or deleted. Regardless of time periods, land has always been used by most people in some form. The only person, assuming they don't use the technique already, that won't benifit from using it is Olle Rade, the reason Perish mulligans were created. If you don't get that joke, ask an older player...

Land is least thought about. Early in the game you put it down until you've got a comfortable amount. You keep it in your hand late game to seem to have options and additional threats waiting in the hangar, waiting to fly out and schmack somone. If an opponent knows that something in your hand isn't a threat, it is a very big difference in plans. Usually, this isn't important enough to use Urza's Glasses in a deck that doesn't complement the Karn Vanguard card, yet it is still very good to know what your opponent has avaible.

In case the trick isn't lucid as it seems to me, the trick is to separate your lands out into piles on the basis of set and art. Just art won't do, there are differences in a Revised and Fourth edition forests, and a pretty obvious difference in Starter and 6--edition lands, though the art is the exact same.

The example I always give when telling this is the one of Hoodwink, now somwhat outdated since Pirates have only six months or less to live as a Type II possibility. If somone Hoodwinks your land, and you draw a land of the same type the next turn, playing the newly drawn land absentmindedly, you can possibly give away information about your hand. (Now that I look at it, it's pretty badly laid out-- but it's truly in conversational tone, so it works out...) If both of the lands have a different picture, you simply told your opponent, in effect "I have three cards in my hand that you might worry about, instead of the four I'm literally holding this minute." If the lands were the same picture, your playstyle would dictate if information was given. Shuffle your hand around, then play that land. You now, for all practical purpoise, have a four-card hand, exactly as it would show on an Apprentice screen.

I've given you a strategy I highly recommend you adopting, as everyone in Team Loser and a Monkey follow it for serious games when possible, and it's just a good tactic. I share this trick with everyone I meet that doesn't know it when I think of it, and I hope they spread it far and wide, as you should do.

I'd also encourage you to find your favourite art of certain lands and begin collecting them. Since I build decks like a Buggering idiot on Mongoose serum, I'm personally collecting Revised, Fourth, Ice Age, and Mirage lands to put into my decks, as those were innocent times that I remember fondly. Certain other lands that I like the looks of I also pick up when I can, such as the Stormy Island from Urza's Saga, and the Blue Toilet Bowl Water F/ Green Turdy Turrd island from Invasion, the "Twister" plains from Mercadian, Arabian Knights Mountains (actually, I'm just PRAYING to get some of theese, I havn't succeeded yet...) Starter level Swamps (It's just a freaky thing seeing them so desicrated with white borders. I feel like tapping them with "life" and watching them convulse... But that's Larp talk, so I'll stop it), and a multitude of others covered in "RV,4th,IA,MI" above.

I will now put forth an exchange rate that should be fair for all lands you need. One for one, recent sets, a land for a land. Older sets, two new for one, and for the extremly difficult to find land, use your own system. In starters, land is less numerous than commons, so a land should be equal to two run-of-the-mill commons from similar sets, three land per Liberate-styled uncommons, and rares... work them out beforhand...

Recommendations for those of you who have access to more obscure cards are the Beatdown lands from the Beatdown boxed set (I WISH I could get twenty five of each different art in THAT set! WOW!), the Anthology boxed set(expecially the {M} symbol ones, I think it was Forest, though I'm not sure...), Portal 1 (difficult for the lands not in the starter), Portal 2 (again difficult, but not TOO difficult for splash-amounts of land) and Portal: Three Kingdoms (This is the most difficult of the lands to pick up that are actually sold in packs) and Unglued (whose packs are priced $1 'cause the lands are worth $1 in trade...). Those of you who are insanly rich might want to try for the really big things, such as APAC lands, Eurolands, Arena lands, Foil Lands, and GURU lands. Good luck there, and remember the key: don't have every APAC swamp there is, plus the foiled Ice Age swamp, the Arena swamp, an Unglued swamp, et cetera-- Focus on One art and get the required amount of that CERTAIN Identical card

Best of luck in gathering your new bountiful land-- and lucky Tithes and Land Grants!

Sic Semper,
-The Orgg
Proud CPA member(www.casualplayers.org)
Founder of Team team
Member of Team Loser and a Monkey (as the monkey)
Master of his own breechcloth
Creator of Mr. T vs Magic: the Gathering(www.dork.com/theorgg/tvsmtg.html) and Mr. T vs Jonny Bravo, audio style(www.geocities.com/theorgg/mrtvsjonnybravo.html)

Read More Articles by Jensen Bohren!

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