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Your Worst Archenemy

Greg Tito | 13 Jul 2010 21:00
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I won't bore you with the play-by-play of what decks are kicking my ass right now (There's a killer Zombie deck and a multi-color deck stacked with legendary dragons. Don't get me started on the freaking deck-burning artifact deck ...), but it would be an understatement to say that my Magic habit is back. Oh yeah, I'm full-blown addicted. I'm researching deck strategies online and talking shop at lunch. Every time I go into Target for toilet paper or whatever, I walk out with Magic cards. It's bad.

We play in the office after work, usually in the Treehouse conference room, but there was a problem. If there were three or more people who wanted to play, there was always the odd man out who was left sorting cards or watching the action. That's where Archenemy comes in.

The changes to the format are simple. The Archenemy plays first and starts with 40 life. At the start of each turn, the Archenemy plays one of 20 "scheme" cards. These oversized cards (3" X 5") give the archenemy huge benefits like a free 4/6 artifact creature or an extra turn directly after the current turn. Otherwise, the game plays as normal. The Archenemy draws cards, summons and attacks with creatures, and tries to take out his weaker adversaries, who still only have 20 life. The other side takes their turn simultaneously and they can coordinate strategy, but they do not share mana.

The first time we played was actually my birthday, so of course I had to be the Archenemy. The deck that came with the scheme cards was a blue/white/black artifact deck, which are always fun to play. I was up against some pretty crazy decks though: a green/red Annihilator deck from the Rise of the Eldrazi set, a vampire deck and a deck-burning discard deck. That's right, 3 against 1. I didn't think even my 40 life was going to stand a chance.

Turns out those scheme cards are pretty nasty. The first one I drew had all players shuffle their hands (and graveyard) into their libraries and then draw four cards, while I could draw 7. Handicapping everyone at the start of the game like that was a devastating blow from which my paltry adversaries couldn't recover. I took them out one by one, concentrating on the Annihilator deck first as I knew that if he got the mana out, I was screwed. Soon, they all fell to my diabolical machines.

It's good to be the Archenemy.

Magic has been chugging along in the nerd background; it's crazy to realize that it's now entering its seventeenth year of existence. I was surprised at first at how easily I was sucked back in, but it's really a testament to the excellent design of Magic, and how Wizards is not afraid of innovation. Each new set adds fun new strategic elements, and the new Archenemy rules and scheme cards allows groups of gamers to share the same experience. I may be addicted, and my wallet may not be able to support my new habit, but damn if I'm not enjoying the rush.

Greg Tito taps two forests, and one island and casts Vacation!

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