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Multi-player Guidelines
By Sy Johnston
Guidelines for multi-player fun

While competitive duels and tournaments can be fun, multi-player magic games give the players the opportunity to cut lose with some of their friends utilizing some of the more fun cards. Some of the most memorable magic moments (no pun intended) happen in one of those grueling, hour long chaos games. When was the last time you saw a chain lightning get bounced among players 6 times? How about a huge counter war between 4 players? And how could you miss the taunting elf that trampled over everyone's creatures for 128 points of damage? The laughs are bountiful, and the decks tend to be fresh and original; yes, it's the crazy decks that you find in multi-player games that breath fun and creativity into magic. This article will help you to make multi-player games more fun for everyone, and also offer some deck building advice.

Multi-player etiquette:
Nobody likes to be singled out in a multi-player game (abbreviated MP game from now on) for death and sit on the side lines for an hour waiting for the next game. Nor do people like having their entire decks shut down and waiting to die. Following these guidelines will help make sure you don't step on anybody's toes.
1.) Don't play deck specific hosers. I don't mean wrath of god or tranquility, I mean stuff like Boil, Douse, and Back to Basics that punish a player just for playing a specific color or type of land. Something like dust bowl is fine; take out that Academy! But sideboard cards should stay out of group games.
2.) Try to cut down on reset buttons. Sometimes clearing the board is necessary, but the game gets really boring when players constantly have to start over. Cards to play in moderation include Armageddon, Pernicious deed, Balance, and Wrath of God. Especially the balance. Imagine a group game where balance was cast for the 6th time late in the game, and everyone had to reduce down to no creatures, 3 lands, and 1 card in hand. I have been there, and we all quit with 5 people left. It was very anoying.
3.) Try not to pick on somebody to the point of exile. This is a fine line. I am not suggesting you not attack with your creatures when they are defenseless, but there is no need to slap a black vice on somebody that has already been targeted with another black vice from somebody else. There will be times when a player has stabilized to a point where he will win without some alliances being formed against him, and under those circumstances go ahead. I think you get the gist of this topic.
4.) Sit back and have some laughs! It really adds to the game when you act out your deck! Playing a pirate theme deck? Try doing a pirate impression when you cast a pirate ship!
5.) Switch decks if you got more, especially after winning a group game. This helps to keep the night fresh.

Multi-player deck building:
Have you ever played a multi-player game in which one of the players cast a Mana Flare or a Howling Mine? Odds are, most of the players were excited to see it played. These cards allow players to do more with their decks, and they tend to make the game much more exciting. Here are some tips to help you build a deck that will lend more to the group game.
1.) Play cards that allow everyone to do more things. You don't have to do this just to help everybody out, you can build your deck around it. Everyone will enjoy a howling mine, but maybe your deck is designed to really take advantage of it. Good examples of these sort of "share" cards include: Mana Flare, Mana Cache, Rainbow Vale (cool with Fellwar Stones), Well of Knowledge, Eledamri's Vineyard, and Wild Dogs.
2.) Try out some of the cards that get passed around the table like a curse, they are great fun! Examples include: Jinxed Idle, Kudzu, and Traveling plague. I find using these kinds of cards provides the most fun in the game.
3.) Avoid using cards that say "I win!". You know what I mean, Coalition Victory, Battle of Wits.
Nobody likes the game to end without somebody everybody having to work at it.
4.) Don't use the tournament combo decks. Other players that may be using a more fun deck won't have a chance, and it is boring for the other players when you take a 10 minute turn, or take 5 2-minute turns.
5.) Theme decks are fun! You can actually kill someone with a fairy deck, I've done it !

Multi-player Formats:
Playing different formats adds a new flavor to the game. Chaos is usually the standard; every man (or woman) for himself! Some formats allow for a twist on the game.
Emperor:
Emperor games require 6 people to play. There are 2 teams, each team with an emperor. If the emperor dies, then that side loses. Rules apply, such as spells can only target another player up to 2 seats away. Creatures can only attack players 1 seat away. Some variations include global spells that only affect up to 2 seats away. This format usually benefits from specific deck builds.
Additional Variations:
Feel free to state that there is a howling mine always in play, or a mana flare. Maybe players can only attack the player to their left. Team games can be fun, do you share life totals? Do you share blockers?
Assassins:
Each player is secretly and randomly assigned another player. This can be done many different ways. Each player can only attack the player that they are assigned. When a player is assassinated, the killer's new target is the person that the defeated player was to assassinate.

I hope some of these tips help you to bring out the fun in the game. Just hop over to the decks section of the site and see if you can build a deck to use these ideas. Good luck, and have fun!

Read More Articles by Sy Johnston!

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