This entry is part 1 of 7 in the series Ancient Wisdom

By Old Man Fred

Fred’s General EDH Disclaimer:
My first exposure to the term YMMV on the internet was on the EDH rules page. After asking six people all at once on AIM what it meant, only one was able to tell me. It means Your Mileage May Vary. That means what I’m about to say, while written to be as broad as possible, is not applicable to every person in every play group everywhere. If some guy in your play group uses Evil Eye of Orms-By-Gore in every deck, and that somehow makes what I’m about to say totally wrong, don’t flame me. Your mileage may vary.

The Why
Why do we play Magic? I haven’t done the research. But Wizards of the Cost, who obviously has an interest in the answer, has. They’ve determined that Magic players play for different reasons. If you haven’t already, go read Mark Rosewater’s classic article explaining the different player types entitled “Timmy, Johnny, Spike.” As much as I despise the classification, I am a “Johnny.”

Here’s how Mark Rosewater describes Johnny:

“Johnny is the creative gamer to whom Magic is a form of self-expression. Johnny likes to win, but he wants to win with style. It’s very important to Johnny that he win on his own terms. As such, it’s important to Johnny that he’s using his own deck. Playing Magic is an opportunity for Johnny to show off his creativity.”

“Johnny likes a challenge. Johnny enjoys winning with cards that no one else wants to use. He likes making decks that win in innovative ways. What sets Johnny apart from the other profiles is that Johnny enjoys deckbuilding as much as (or more than) he enjoys playing. Johnny loves the cool interactions of the cards. He loves combo decks. Johnny is happiest when he’s exploring uncharted territory.”

That’s me, with one exception: I’ve seen too many unfair and unfun combo plays in my time to love combo decks, and despise them (I stopped playing Legacy, for example, after they “fixed” the format, and I lost on turn zero to a combo deck). I see deck building as a challenge and a form of self expression.

To that end, I’m willing to try unusual things as long as they interest me. For the longest time I resisted building a Sharuum the Hegemon deck because it held no interest to me. It was too easy to make, too powerful, and too obvious a deck choice. After Scars of Mirrodin came out I built one, but only because I could draw from four artifact blocks’ worth of artifacts to build it (Saga, Mirrodin, Shards, Scars), and even then, I only included cards I found interesting. Despite much magnificent internal synergy, I’ve never fully powered it up. That’d be too easy.

So I’ll often challenge myself to build certain decks with certain generals, and make the decks work; take a sub optimal idea and make a functional EDH deck out of it. There’s skill in this task, because you need to understand why and how decks work.

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This entry is part 2 of 7 in the series Ancient Wisdom

By Old Man Fred

Fred’s General EDH Disclaimer:
What I’m about to say, while written to be as broad as possible, is not applicable to every person in every play group everywhere. If some guy in your play group uses Evil Eye of Orms-By-Gore in every deck, and that somehow makes what I’m about to say totally wrong, don’t flame me. Your mileage may vary.

As long as Mark Rosewater isn’t talking about EDH, he often has interesting and insightful things to say (this is not a dig at MR. I like MR. However, he stated in his article about EDH that he doesn’t play the format, and then went on to pontificate about how it should be changed). Before he came to work for WotC, he was a writer, including for the TV show Roseanne. He has lots of interesting things to say about writing and the idea of creativity.

One thing he wrote once, that the more I thought about the more I realized how true it was, is that creativity thrives on restriction. It’s very true. There are examples all throughout history and all over the world of people being restricted in some way, and finding a way because of sheer will. I am a firm believer in the idea that “where there’s a will there’s a way.”

Now in his discussion of creativity thriving on restriction, Mark Rosewater was talking about the limits of card design. I am not a card designer. I am a deck builder. So I’ll be talking about limitations in deck building.

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This entry is part 3 of 7 in the series Ancient Wisdom

By FRED COLE aka OLD MAN FRED
Fred’s General EDH Disclaimer:
Your mileage may vary. What I’m about to say, while written to be as broad as possible, is not applicable to every person in every play group everywhere. If some guy in your play group uses Giant Shark in every deck, and that somehow makes what I’m about to say totally wrong, don’t flame me.

What do Armageddon Clock, Ankh of Mishra, Scion of the Ur-Dragon, Stasis, Atogatog, Hecatomb, Sorrow’s Path, Enduring Ideal, War Barge, Battle of Wits, and Ghost Council of Orzhovaall have in common? They’re cards that beg to have decks built around them. They are not cards to be casually thrown into decks; if they are, they are either useless or detrimental to the deck. An errant War Barge can be stolen and used against you. A poorly placed Sorrow’s Path or Stasis can ruin your day , just because you put them into play. But put them in the correct deck, and their effects can be harnessed brutally against your opponents. This is the challenge of the deck builder. This is what we are here for; to turn that Armageddon Clock or Hecatomb into a card your opponents dread.
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This entry is part 4 of 7 in the series Ancient Wisdom

By Fred Cole aka OLD MAN FRED

its the catFred’s General EDH Disclaimer:
My first exposure to the term YMMV on the internet was on the EDH rules page. After asking six people all at once on AIM what it meant, only one was able to tell me. It means Your Mileage May Vary. That means what I’m about to say, while written to be as broad as possible, is not applicable to every person in every play group everywhere. If some guy in your play group uses Evil Eye of Orms-By-Gore in every deck, and that somehow makes what I’m about to say totally wrong, don’t flame me. Your mileage may vary.

It’s a myth, and I’ve heard it propagated before, at least once, on a certain podcast, that you need dual lands to play five colors in EDH*. That’s a damn lie. Some lies are utterly harmless, and other lies harmful. The lie that you need dual lands to play five colors in EDH is the second category because it constitutes a barrier to entry into a fun, casual format that doesn’t really have any real barriers to entry (other than owning cards). That lie is a conceptual error, and it keeps people from playing the decks and generals they want. After all, who is going to invest money in expensive cards, or use expensive cards in their Atogatog EDH deck?

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This entry is part 5 of 7 in the series Ancient Wisdom
By Fred Cole AKA OLD MAN FRED

Fred is oldDisclaimer: This piece may seem very dickish.  It’s not meant to be.  However, I wrote it while I was still very annoyed, so if it comes off that way, so be it.  It’s meant to be an explanation of how and why people get annoyed.  I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.

My own life is my supreme standard of value.  That means I value it more than anything else. The hours in my day are subdivisions of my life, and thus also very valuable to me.   The time in one’s life is not an infinite quantity.  When I work, I exchange my labor and my time for money.  I exchange value for value.  Our lives are finite, and so I’d rather not expend my time if I get no value in return.

When I was 19, I’d work and go to class all week, then on Friday night I’d play in a Legacy tournament, Saturday noon time was a Standard tournament, Saturday evening was an Extended tournament, then I’d go to see my friend, who was a manager at Pizza Hut and closed Saturday nights.  We’d play in the back of Pizza Hut until he was done, then we’d walk to his house and play Magic until the sun came up.

Even if I wanted to–even if there were tournaments like that and even if my friend still managed the Pizza Hut–I no longer have the free time available to play like that anymore.  The older one gets, the more constraints there are on one’s free time. Read the rest of this entry »

This entry is part 6 of 7 in the series Ancient Wisdom
Posted by ‘FRED COLE’ aka ‘OLD MAN FRED’
Old Man Fred’s General Disclaimer: Your mileage may vary. What I’m about to say, while written to be as broad as possible, is not applicable to every person in every play group everywhere.  If some guy in your play group uses Brass Man in every deck, and that somehow makes what I’m about to say totally wrong, you’ve been warned.
 
Arabian Nights was the first ever Magic expansion.  It came out in late 1993, and was pretty much created ground up by Richard Garfield himself, sitting there with an Arabic dictionary and a copy of 1,001 Arabian Nights.  By, the way, I suggest reading the source material, aside from Aladdin and Ali Baba, there’s plenty more cards that make cameo appearances in the text.
We’re lucky that at the last minute he decided to keep the card backs the same as they were in Alpha, or we might not be talking about this right now.

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