This article will be about the best format Magic has to offer: multiplayer. Phrased differently: multiple opponents. Sometimes more opponents can be a boon, with cards I like to call choice-cards for example.
In tournaments cards that let opponents make the decisions are most often rated low quality, because your opponent will always choose yours least beneficial option. In multiplayer however, there are several opponents. This alters the power of some cards considerably.
For example, Champions of Kamigawa gave us Gifts Ungiven: you search for four different cards and you opponent decides which two end up in your hand and which two will find an early death. Is that a good card? Is it bad? In multiplayer it depends on who is choosing.
Say that you and your two buddies are playing a game of chaos. Youíre playing a U/R deck, Anthony is wreaking havoc with his affinity deck, and Wilbert uses his white weenie deck. Now Anthony is going strong, a bunch of Frogmites, Myr Enforcers and Arcbound Ravagers can alpha strike one of you next turn. Weenie Wilbert has some critters, but not enough to be really dangerous. You draw and play Gifts Ungiven and search a Anarchy, Shatterstorm, Island, and Mountain. Now, suppose you want to take out the most dangerous player: Affinity Anthony. Who do you let decide which cards youíll draw? Easy isnít? Wilbert, of course. He will probably give you the Shatterstorm. That will give him and you both still a shot at winning this game. If you and Anthony would be near-slaughtered by Wilbertís weenies, you could let Anthony make the decisions. Big chance he would give you the Anarchy and a land.
Now this is very obvious, I know. The thing is, there are more cards that let an opponent make decisions that will benefit you both. I had two cards in mind when thinking about this topic. I find these two to be very effective and enjoyable (especially if you like to play with fun cards), yet no one I know use them too.
The first one is the green version of the chain-cycle that appeared in Onslaught: Chain of Acid. Each of the chain spells allow the player/controller of the permanent being targeted to copy the spell, for a price. Chain of Acid can be copied for free, however. That makes the chance itíll backfire bigger, but it also increases the possibility that an opponent will use it on one of your other opponents.
Chain of Acid only destroys non-creature permanents. Why use it instead of creeping mold? Because creeping mold will destroy one permanent, but Chain of Acid might take out several. Yes, that could include your cards. But when an opponent can choose between destroying one of your forests or destroying an enchantment controlled by Harold whoís show-casing his new 5 color Honden deck (e.g. Honden of Seeing Winds), the odds are raising that your one chain spell will take out several permanents in the game and screw Honden Harold big time (well, he will probably loose at least one of those legendary shrines).
I have seen a Chain of Acid demolish all equipment in play from a white weenie deck and get mana-screwed opponents recoup just to be mana-screwed again. Sure, sometimes it costed me a few forests too, but when playing mono-green that should not be too disrupting (Kodamaís Reach, Rampant Growth and other cards should make that no problem). Playing one spell and lose 3 forests to take out 3 dangerous non-creature threats is still great.
Now of course, this all happened because other players allowed it. They could also just choose not to copy the spell. But not every player does that (Even when that happens itís still effectively a Creeping Mold). The trick is to remember the reactions of the players in your group. Some will refuse to let you get away with it and will not copy it. Others will accept their losses and happily destroy something else, usually something more threatening than the forests you have in play. Such players can make a very impressive chain.
More often it depends on the game situation. When a playerís deck is really wrecked by someoneís non-creature permanent, target something they control and that player will probably take the opportunity to use the chain. Look out for such opportunities.
Hereís a casual budget deck that can use Chain of Acid without too much risk. Any deck that uses few artifacts, enchantments or non-basic lands could benefit from the green chains however.
4 Fierce Empath
4 Krosan Drover
4 Krosan Tusker
4 Wirewood Guardian
4 Tangle Golem
4 Dragon Fangs
4 Chain of Acid
4 Desert Twister
The only thing your opponents could use Chain of Acid on is forests, which youíll have plenty, and Dragon Fangs, which will be pretty futile. Fierce Empath can tutor for extra mana (Krosan Tusker) and creature kill (Duplicant). Nothing tramples, but thatís what the Dragon Fangs are for.
The second card I want to discuss canít be refused by opponents to ďcopyĒ itís ability: Cuombajj Witches. Look it up if you donít know it. Itís an old one, but as a Chronicles common it should not be too hard to acquire. For 2 black mana you get a 1/3 body who can take out Prodigal Sorcerers any time of the day. An opponent can enjoy the ping too, however. The great thing about this card is that you choose the opponent who may deal that second damage.
Suppose Weenie Wilbert, Honden Howard and you are once again enjoying a game of multiplayer chaos. Wilbert attacks Howard with his Leonin Skyhunter. You use Cuombajj Witches to deal one damage to the cat knight and let Howard decide the target of the second damage. What will he do? Ping one of your creatures? Ping you? Take out the skyhunter? If you donít control a Royal Assassin at that moment, the latter will be more probable. So, with a little Ďcooperationí Cuombajj Witches not only take out x/1 but also x/2 creatures.
Take note of the players who just keep pinging you and the ones that enjoy the cooperation to take out small hostile critters. You can use that knowledge to your advantage. Combine the witches with some ways to make Hill Giants and bigger creatures a bit smaller and those ladies will really earn some respect in your playgroup:
4 Cuombajj Witches
4 Bottle Gnomes
4 Goblin Replica
4 Ghitu Fire-eater
4 Shock Troops
4 Infectious Rage
4 Screams from Within
4 Grab the Reins
4 Urborg Uprising
Infectious Rage is Screams from Within #5-8, although they return randomly. When they end up enchanting one of your creatures donít hesitate to sacrifice it (Ghitu Fire-eater even gets better), Urborg Uprising will fetch them back. Grab the Reins can take out any creature too big for the ladies to handle. But you could use something else instead, like terrors or some other type of removal (e.g. shatter).
There are more interesting choice-cards out there. The other four chain spells, for example. They can only be copied when paying a cost, but you might spot (or create) situations in which your opponent gladly pays that price and use the copy on one of your other opponents.
Mogg Assassin is a bit risky, because 50% of the time the creature of an opponentís choice will be destroyed. However, when Dragon David is scourging that opponent at that time, your creatures may still remain unscathed! Death Match is a killing machine opponents can also utilize. When playing with cards like Humble Budoka, Phantom Centaur or Beacon of Creation, you can play Death Match without being harmed much. But will opponents leave each otherís creatures unharmed?
I find these cards to make multiplayer games a lot more fun and interesting. Try them, maybe you will like them too.
Arjan van Houwelingen (Jorael)
Groningen, the Netherlands
Feedback is appreciated!