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Innovate Your Casual Holiday Magic
By Dan Freagarthach
The holiday season provides a time for casual Magic games with friends and family. An opportunity to design and build new decks that experiment with the fun Magic can offer. There are fast, scrappy small creature decks - I am working on a Castlevania themed version for a friend. Individually powerful creature threats are another perennial favorite, with ever increasing numbers of monsters and heroes who do interesting things once they hit the battlefield. These decks can be as much Vorthos as Timmy, as much personal art and storytelling as they are effective paths to victory.

You could bring a control deck to a casual table, though if you are interested in doing so, may I suggest building one composed entirely of instants and sorceries? That way your opponent can at least witness something unusual while you steal their spells and destroy their board presence.

Which brings us to building new combo decks. Sometimes the fun is in designing what a new deck can do. Maybe you are looking forward to rendering a game of Magic equivalent to a game of Monopoly in which each player owns a part of each property group and thus dooming your opponents to an imprisoning loop indefinitely. If so, I salute your trollish bravery. Sometimes though, the fun is in designing a new combo engine and empowering shell. In those cases, what you do with the resources the engine provides can almost be an afterthought. As Oversoul has mentioned in his articles, two options that have been used right from the beginning of Magic are lethal direct damage (Channel + Fireball) and what became known as mill (Black Lotus + Wheel of Fortune).

The design space of Magic has expanded and evolved significantly from those early days, and yet direct damage and mill are still common picks to sink combo resources into. This holiday season, I am advocating for you to go beyond these oldest traditions in two ways. First, draw your library. An advantage of building for casual Magic is that you can sacrifice pure efficiency for fun, and there are many ways for combo decks to achieve this. Give yourself access to every card you spent time adding to the deck, rather than a random top third. Second, exile everything. You could cast an expected Comet Storm, or an opponent irritating Bitter Ordeal. Why put in all that thought only to get shut down by Hindering Light or a Leyline of Sanctity?

Rather than targeting players, change the game state across all zones for all players and use the structure of the game itself to determine outcomes. To assure Turgy that this is a practical encouragement rather than mere theory exercise, I leave you with the following deck that has been providing me with both fun and casual game wins as we approach the holidays.

Balefire - Modern legal deck (60 cards)


20 Forest
4 Sunpetal Grove


4 Devoted Druid
1 Eternal Witness
1 Fathom Mage
4 Genesis Hydra
1 Grand Abolisher
1 Loaming Shaman
1 Riftsweeper
1 Rune-Scarred Demon
4 Sylvan Caryatid
1 Verdant Eidolon
4 Vizier of Remedies


1 Altar of the Brood
1 Cloudstone Curio
1 Leyline of Anticipation
1 Sentinel Totem
4 Tooth and Nail
4 Unbridled Growth
1 Worldfire

Comments welcome here

Read More Articles by Dan Freagarthach!

 - Wednesday (July 18. 2018)
 - Thursday (May 17, 2018)
 - Tuesday (Aprl. 24, 2018
 - Monday (Apr. 16, 2018)
 - Friday (Apr. 6, 2018)
 - Wednesday (Apr. 4, 2018)
 - Monday (Apr. 2, 2018)
 - Friday (Mar. 23, 2018)
 - Thursday (Feb. 15, 2018)
 - Thursday (Jan 25, 2018)

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