Your Worst Archenemy

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Your Worst Archenemy

Magic, my old Archenemy, sucks me back in.

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Shadovarn taps two island and casts Counterspell.

Get back to work!
But I know what you mean. Recently got back into towards the end of school.
And Archenemy is a pain when someone plays a Black/blue discard counter deck.

getting a box of boosters for the new Magic 2010 release later this month. *Sigh* I'm hooked again.

I believe you mean Magic 2011 sir.

Edit: Yeah Archenemy is fun, but I'm just going to give you a tip don't mix it with planechase, it screws over the Archenemy.

Good to see your addicted to the good stuff Tito :)

ok little confused .. we have always played multi-player ... sometimes 8-10 people (o more) at a time, all playing against each other ... now of course we still duel ... some of our games would last hours ... needless to say, lots of time LARGE decks were used just to make it feasible ... but it is all about the fun of hanging out with your friends ....

I barely have any new cards ... still playing with cards from circa 1995-2000 ...

One issue I've had, and that I've heard repeated from many "old school" magic players, is about how the "new sets are overpowered". It's true, there's tons of ridiculous one-shot win the game (or never lose the game) types of cards out there. Or absurdly cheap cards from a mana -> ability standpoint.

Of course, if you go dig through the old sets, there's a ton of crazy things that have always been around. And from what I hear, the playtesting wasn't nearly as rigorous back then either, which resulted in many more "broken" combos/etc. So maybe there isn't much difference after all, other then finding excuses not to blow more money on silly cards. ;)

But the conclusion I came to was that Wizards was aiming for everyone to have that "killer deck". My unbeatable deck versus your unbeatable deck means two players sit down both thinking they're awesome, and then have a brutal game where no punches are pulled. It works remarkably well. At this point, we have a stable of about 8 terribly evil decks that are all geared to win in 5 turns or less, and playing them against each other is some of the most fun I've ever had with Magic.

On the other hand, I hear the next core set is coming out this week and I really don't need to be buying another display box of cards. But I will. Oh yes I will.

NNNNNNNNEEEEEERRRRRDDDDD!

And by that, I mean I picked up the Dragon archenemy deck. The pre-built deck inside seems pretty powerful. I'd like to pick up another, but can't decide between the Doomsday Machine or Zombies. Suggestions? I'm relying on the pre-built deck as much as the archenemy cards, since my collection is not too large (just a box of 2010 and a box of eldrazi).

Greg Tito:
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.

Our closest Best Buy sells them too, now you can pick up games and more cards.

Kross:
One issue I've had, and that I've heard repeated from many "old school" magic players, is about how the "new sets are overpowered". It's true, there's tons of ridiculous one-shot win the game (or never lose the game) types of cards out there. Or absurdly cheap cards from a mana -> ability standpoint.

Of course, if you go dig through the old sets, there's a ton of crazy things that have always been around. And from what I hear, the playtesting wasn't nearly as rigorous back then either, which resulted in many more "broken" combos/etc. So maybe there isn't much difference after all, other then finding excuses not to blow more money on silly cards. ;)

But the conclusion I came to was that Wizards was aiming for everyone to have that "killer deck". My unbeatable deck versus your unbeatable deck means two players sit down both thinking they're awesome, and then have a brutal game where no punches are pulled. It works remarkably well. At this point, we have a stable of about 8 terribly evil decks that are all geared to win in 5 turns or less, and playing them against each other is some of the most fun I've ever had with Magic.

On the other hand, I hear the next core set is coming out this week and I really don't need to be buying another display box of cards. But I will. Oh yes I will.

Remember when Boomerang returned things from the graveyard?
I do.

Also, alot of those insta-wins are 1). stupid expensive, 2). highly situational 3). easily manipulated and twisted.

Damn you, sir! I was sucked back into Magic last year with the release of the XBLA game and the complete revamp of the core sets with Magic 2010. Plus, my wife suddenly decided Magic was "like chess with monsters" and wanted to learn how to play. Now Archenemy is looking mighty fun, and I was thinking of giving it a whirl.

The part of my brain that used to care about Magic cards (and Spellfire card - did anyone but me ever play that game?) was completely dormant until all the office crowd started playing again. Encaen's accursed Landfall deck is easily the most annoying deck to play against, yet the most hilarious to play with.

"I play 6 lands this turn, so: I steal all your creatures, you discard half your library, and now there's a 28/28 trample coming your way - along with all your creatures" is as about the meanest single turn I've ever seen.

Curse you all for luring me back in! I shall find retribution in victory over your annoying decks with my future extra-annoying deck!
/buys more cards

Ya its amazing how fast magic spreads.Last year people who played magic in my school amounted to zero. And now it's gotten to the point that people are dossing whole days of school to play magic.

Phokal:
NNNNNNNNEEEEEERRRRRDDDDD!

And by that, I mean I picked up the Dragon archenemy deck. The pre-built deck inside seems pretty powerful. I'd like to pick up another, but can't decide between the Doomsday Machine or Zombies. Suggestions? I'm relying on the pre-built deck as much as the archenemy cards, since my collection is not too large (just a box of 2010 and a box of eldrazi).

Doomsday Machine man the Doomsday Machine. How else do you expect to Wrath everyone that isn't you without playing white or artifacts.

CaptainCrunch:
The part of my brain that used to care about Magic cards (and Spellfire card - did anyone but me ever play that game?) was completely dormant until all the office crowd started playing again. Encaen's accursed Landfall deck is easily the most annoying deck to play against, yet the most hilarious to play with.

"I play 6 lands this turn, so: I steal all your creatures, you discard half your library, and now there's a 28/28 trample coming your way - along with all your creatures" is as about the meanest single turn I've ever seen.

Curse you all for luring me back in! I shall find retribution in victory over your annoying decks with my future extra-annoying deck!
/buys more cards

If you want to beat that deck make R/G aggro Naturalize and Lightning Bolt will fuck it over. Assuming he doesn't have counters in which case Volcanic Fallout takes down Roil Elemental.

DOOOOOOOOOMBLADE!

A little in-joke with my friends. almost as bad as pacifism.

Coincidentally I was listening to arch enemy while reading this article.

I really like how the whole franchise evolves. I stopped playing at ~1999 myself and lately i am more and more considering getting back to that addiction. I was always big fan of the artists that make the cards look so amazing, many of them work as concept artists for games i play.

Now seeing all the latest ideas the guys at Wizards, starting with the Planeswalkers, through leveling creatures and now Archenemy it seems like they are still far away from stopping and actually try to lure in more people.

It is very nice to see that even in era of video games and internet they manage to stay strong with what started as a pretty simple idea. If only getting a perfect deck would not require so much money/luck and if only i could find some of those old card i kept...

I play Magic as well, so don't think I'm an utter n00b when I say the following.

Archenemy sounds like the WoW card game, where they released the Molten Core pack. It was basically four or five players with their respective "characters" playing against one person who played at the Big Bad Boss and a few minor bosses. Basically four against on overpowered one.

I always liked Magic, but always played on little unofficial things that didn't force you to buy cards. I doubt I'd get into it if the real random nature of it was played out. Then again, I could maybe try Magic Online now that I have monies.

HEHEHE there are only 2 other players with me in my town.

So Archenemy boils down to its now your turn for you win a game no hands down.

Archenemy is a new way to play Magic The Gathering with your friends. Instead of the one-on-one duels that were the hallmark of the game (the XBLA game is called Duels of the Planeswalkers for the love of Pete), Archenemy makes one player uber-powerful so that he can take on two, three or even fourty thousand other players. In this way, if you have a bunch of guys (or girls) who want to play Magic, you have a way for everyone to be engaged together instead of splintering into separate corners of the room to duel it out. For me, it was a great way to reacquaint myself with the collectible card game as well as introduce some people in The Escapist office to the wonders of Magic.

I first started playing Magic the Gathering back in the proverbial day. It was 1993 and here was this game that was the perfect meld of the fantasy roleplaying tropes that I loved (elves, goblins, wizards, etc.) with easy gameplay that even my non-nerd friends could enjoy. I played for a year or two, but then my time was absorbed by high school drama club productions and, dare I say, girls. I sold my cards in the summer of 1995 to a buddy for a cool $200. He was happy to have them for there were more than a few rare artifacts in amongst the chaff of Grizzly Bears and basic lands. After I cashed out, I didn't really think about Magic for more than a decade.

The first time Magic reentered my life was during Gen Con 2009. I had been to the previous year's Gen Con but had limited my wanderings to the show floor and gaming nigh-on incessantly. The next year though, I had a little bit more free time to wander and I stumbled upon a back room that was filled to the brim with people hunched over thousands of square feet of tables, playing card games. It felt like I was in a different convention, to be honest, for these gamers were all participating in high-stakes tournaments of collectible card games, with Magic prominently featured as the prime event. There were plastic sheets protecting every card and players nervously shuffled their hands while plotting out their next play. The palpable tension was different than anything else at Gen Con, even when I happened to walk in at almost 11pm.

When I started working here at The Escapist this fall, Magic was still barely a blip on my radar. I had exchanged a few emails with a PR guy who worked for Wizards of the Coast and when he offered to send me some Magic cards, I thought, "What the hell?" It was fun to play when I was a kid, and it's now my job to be familiar with popular games. See, that's how they get you. Those little cards are like crack.

It started when an officemate saw the decks on my desk. "Oh hey, you play Magic?" "Yeah, I'm thinking about getting back into it." "Cool," he said. "I have thousands of cards after splurging on the Exalted set last year." (That would be Shards of Alara) "We should play." "Definitely." Inspired by that one tiny innocuous conversation, I've bought more than 30 boosters, decks and other accessories and I plan to go in with them on getting a box of boosters for the new Magic 2011 release later this week. *Sigh* I'm hooked again.

I won't bore you with the play-by-play of what decks are kicking my ass right now (There's a Grixis Unearth and a Jund deck. Don't get me started on the mill), but it would be an understatement to say that my Magic Worship 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 normal.

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 an Esper artifacts deck, which are always fun to play. I was up against some pretty crazy decks though: a Gruul 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 Foreground; 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 Flawless 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!

edited for clarity and accuracy.

Huh. Sounds a bit like the Raid decks I saw for the WoW:TCG a while back, except with a bit more flexibility in what you're playing with, obviously.

Not played Magic much, just a few friendly games with my brother when he was around and had his deck out. Was quite fun, better than the other TCG I've played over the years. "Sadly", it didn't quite hook me in :p

Oh, Magic, how I've missed you. I've dabbled in a bit of Shards of Alara, got a couple whites out of there that give +5/+5, lifelink, double strike, deathtouch, trample, and first strike. Good times, good times.

Greg, I know what you mean.. I started Magic back in 2000, played for a solid 3 years, and then stopped for a while. Then, frikken Steam got Duels of the Planeswalkers, and now I'm right back in it.

So much for saving up for college...

I've wanted to get into this game for a while now, and there are a couple hobby stores in town that host games and things like that. Just a question though. How accessible is this new rule set?

I started playing 13 years ago and haven't had reason to quit...but I could use more people to play with.

Sigh. I'm not good at making new friends, I guess.

"a testament to the excellent design of Magic, and how Wizards is not afraid of innovation"

While that is mostly true, the design of Magic has gotten a lot more corporate over the past few years. While the immediate effect is that they have started to cater towards building sets that all players will enjoy, there are lots of subtly evil nasty things they are doing to push product, like the printing of the aforementioned 'too pwoerful for their mana cots, but not quite enough to be broken and bannable', as well as the addition of a new rarity that is rarer than the regular Rare.

Archenemy is actually a page stolen from the WoW TCG, I think it was called Raid Mode or something, with a 1 vs all format.

Not to discourage anyone, though -- Magic is still an exemplar game in terms of consistent balance and new design.

SomeGuyNamedKy:
I've wanted to get into this game for a while now, and there are a couple hobby stores in town that host games and things like that. Just a question though. How accessible is this new rule set?

Very, it's like chess easy to learn hard to master. You can learn to play in 5 minutes, it'll take years to get really good.

EDIT: I forgot to mention that stack, that's a very confusing place when you first learn about it. I'd explain it but you kinda need to know the rules before hand.

fanklok:

SomeGuyNamedKy:
I've wanted to get into this game for a while now, and there are a couple hobby stores in town that host games and things like that. Just a question though. How accessible is this new rule set?

Very, it's like chess easy to learn hard to master. You can learn to play in 5 minutes, it'll take years to get really good.

Cool, something for me to look forward to then. I've always loved trading card games, but for some odd reason, I've never really looked into Magic. I think I'll give it a shot as soon as I get some money in.

SomeGuyNamedKy:

fanklok:

SomeGuyNamedKy:
I've wanted to get into this game for a while now, and there are a couple hobby stores in town that host games and things like that. Just a question though. How accessible is this new rule set?

Very, it's like chess easy to learn hard to master. You can learn to play in 5 minutes, it'll take years to get really good.

Cool, something for me to look forward to then. I've always loved trading card games, but for some odd reason, I've never really looked into Magic. I think I'll give it a shot as soon as I get some money in.

Best way to learn is to find a near by comic shop and see if they do a draft, great way to get more cards, learn to play better, make new friends.

fanklok:

SomeGuyNamedKy:

fanklok:

SomeGuyNamedKy:
I've wanted to get into this game for a while now, and there are a couple hobby stores in town that host games and things like that. Just a question though. How accessible is this new rule set?

Very, it's like chess easy to learn hard to master. You can learn to play in 5 minutes, it'll take years to get really good.

Cool, something for me to look forward to then. I've always loved trading card games, but for some odd reason, I've never really looked into Magic. I think I'll give it a shot as soon as I get some money in.

Best way to learn is to find a near by comic shop and see if they do a draft, great way to get more cards, learn to play better, make new friends.

Care to explain? I'm a little dumb due to lack of sleep...

Amnestic:
Huh. Sounds a bit like the Raid decks I saw for the WoW:TCG a while back, except with a bit more flexibility in what you're playing with, obviously.

JusticarPhaeton:
Archenemy is actually a page stolen from the WoW TCG, I think it was called Raid Mode or something, with a 1 vs all format.

Was coming here to say just that. It even triggered a short series of Penny Arcade strips, which ended up getting Gabriel (the character and his real-life counterpart, Mike Krahulik) into D&D and related tabletop gaming.

I feel that completely summarises the synthesis of traditional tabletop Role-Playing Game and the more immediate, less characterful Trading Card Game. It not only acts as a lure, creating a middle ground for experience TCG players to cross, but blends the two formats in an ideal way and creates a new form of gameplay. I'm glad Wizards of the Coast have made this move; hopefully we'll see more new and interesting games emerge from this format yet. Be it Raid or Archenemy, I approve!

you have a way for everyone to be engaged together instead of splintering into separate corners of the room to duel it out

Wait. Haven't you ever played a 1v1v1v1? You definitely don't have to split off in that game. In fact having a nice free for all with 2 or 3 friends is great, alliances are struck and betrayed. It adds a whole new dynamic to the game!

As mentioned earlier Archenemy isn't the only way to play multiplayer magic. FFA's and Two headed giant are some pretty exciting gametypes that you can play without the archenemy scheme cards. (although I'm pretty sure this was mostly just a plug for the new product so you could nab more cards from that PR dude over at WotC)

And yes it is Magic 2011 coming out on thursday as well as I believe you were speaking about the Alara Block and not the exalted one.

Lastly I'm sorry. I recently quit magic after playing for 2 years.

3 nights ago I caught myself deckbuilding till 4 in the morning.

the next day I dropped $50 at a prerelease.

It never ends. never.

SomeGuyNamedKy:

fanklok:

SomeGuyNamedKy:

fanklok:

SomeGuyNamedKy:
I've wanted to get into this game for a while now, and there are a couple hobby stores in town that host games and things like that. Just a question though. How accessible is this new rule set?

Very, it's like chess easy to learn hard to master. You can learn to play in 5 minutes, it'll take years to get really good.

Cool, something for me to look forward to then. I've always loved trading card games, but for some odd reason, I've never really looked into Magic. I think I'll give it a shot as soon as I get some money in.

Best way to learn is to find a near by comic shop and see if they do a draft, great way to get more cards, learn to play better, make new friends.

Care to explain? I'm a little dumb due to lack of sleep...

Just use this handy dandy tool.

I don't know about anyone else, but when it comes to spending money, it's very much examined as a cost/benefit exercise. How far does my money go to keep me entertained? I can buy a new-ish computer game for 25 or so, and I tend only to buy ones that I know I can pick up and play again some way down the road. My purchase of X-COM: Terror From the Deep has, in that regard, given me an awful lot of benefit for the princely sum of 4.

I played M:tG for about three years. This was (more or less) the three years I was at University, when I didn't really understand money. Income and expenditure was managed on a 'well, I have all my savings up 'til now, and I'm not spending vast quantities on booze'. I was also receiving a student loan (where 'loan' means, effectively, 'free money').

To start with, I played with other people's decks, but you can't have pride in a deck that someone else made. I went onto a free online version of the game, and played around with what kinds of decks I might enjoy playing, and then took them offline by buying a mass of deck protectors and writing on a ridiculous number of small pieces of card all the rules. But again, it wasn't the same as exactly owning that deck. Not to mention the fact that I was having a hell of a time trying to make decks with essentially every card ever - the game was too big to really get my head around understand available strategies.

Then Ravnica block came out. I bought into loads of draft tournaments, bought boxes to run my own draft tournaments, bought boxes, bought cards. It was awesome, throughout the entire run, the balance of the different decks you could build, the versatility of the cards, the whole design was fantastic, and once the final expansion came out you could draft with some from each and MAN it was fun.

I'm going to say that I probably spent about 300-400 on Magic that year.

Then came Time Spiral. Suddenly, it wasn't so hot to play with Ravnica. When Time Spiral was done, we had Lorwyn. I liked Lorwyn even less. The Lorwyn cards were just better, mana-cost wise, than all those Ravnica ones. As I said before, I like to spend money as an investment into the future. TFTD is still picked up and played through. Now I couldn't play with Ravnica any more - who would I play? Losing all the time's no fun.

This doesn't even cover the aspect of the game which is so competitive, that there are always going to be a couple of people who find the tournament winning decks and just buy those cards, skipping the 'do it yourself' part of deck building. What chance have you of beating their decks, without spending a corresponding fortune on more cards?

WotC announced they'd be increasing the number of sets released each year. That'd mean going through cards faster. I'd stopped playing by the point the cards had increased in price by a whopping 50% - a box of boosters for 85?! The game makes it mandatory to keep buying more cards! I'd already seen that all the cards I had particular fun with would never last, and so I lost interest.

Just before I do the short-form conclusion: as another example other than X-Com, I'll also add in a couple of other games for comparison. Twilight Imperium, 3rd edition: I bought this for 60, and the expansion for a further 35. This has given me many, many, *many* hours of enjoyment, with plenty of people, and bought around the same time. Another is Dominion: a card game, deck-building based, only it keeps everyone on an exactly level footing when it comes to building their decks. Only 35 for the main box, and a further 35 for the second one.

TL;DR version:

I used to play Magic. I stopped because it's ridiculously expensive. You have to keep buying more cards to stay competitive, and the number of cards released means a constant expenditure of a small fortune. Old cards do not age well. In the end, you're only buying useless bits of card. There are better, more cost-effective alternatives out there.

FavouredEnemy:
[...] My purchase of X-COM: Terror From the Deep has, in that regard, given me an awful lot of benefit for the princely sum of 4.

I played M:tG for about three years. This was (more or less) the three years I was at University, when I didn't really understand money. Income and expenditure was managed on a 'well, I have all my savings up 'til now, and I'm not spending vast quantities on booze'. I was also receiving a student loan (where 'loan' means, effectively, 'free money').

[...]
TL;DR version:

I used to play Magic. I stopped because it's ridiculously expensive. You have to keep buying more cards to stay competitive, and the number of cards released means a constant expenditure of a small fortune. Old cards do not age well. In the end, you're only buying useless bits of card. There are better, more cost-effective alternatives out there.

Whoooo! Great to see someone else who enjoys Terror From The Deep and Magic as well.
(Offtopic: I just spent last weekend watching the Lets Play TftD thread on SomethingAwful... So cool to see all your childhood memories of invincible lobstermen come to life :) )

Ontopic: I just purchased one of the Archenemy decks (the Doomsday Machine) to play with my friends who are new to Magic. I handed them a couple of my older decks, so that I could give them hints on their play (as I still knew the decks pretty well).
Still, playing with the preconstructed Doomsday deck felt a little underpowered, mainly because I couldn't see a real strategy behind it's composition... Then again, it may have had something to do with getting slaughtered by my own Sliver and 5C Grozoth decks. :)

If my friends take the Magic bait... I'm sure I'll be spending a lot of the coming months with looking through new cards for deck ideas.
I can hardly wait.

The financial aspect of Magic really depends on how much your playgroup wants to invest in it. With my previous group we usually bought one booster box with the four of us. We used it for one evening of drafting, and then split up the cards evenly, with lots of trading afterwards. After that I usually bought specific cards from webshops to complete the deck ideas I got from the new cards.

God I hate and love that game. I was totally hooked on it like forever and then I realised how addicted I was (after several years and -a lot- of cash) and went instant cold turkey by selling all my cards at once (except for a single squirrel token).

Each year afterwards I have these regular periods during the year when the addiction makes itself known again. I can almost synchronize my clock by them. A couple of weeks ago I finally fell back in and registered an account at Magic Online. I'm still managing to keep it in check (maybe it's because the electronic version isn't as "sexy" - with all the paper cards and such) but whenever I get that craving I can fire it up and get it out of my system.

Still, firing it up to get it out of my system has proven to be quite dangerous. I easily lose track of time whenever I do that and suddenly realise it's 4AM and I have to go to work in ~3-4 hours.

Still, my favorite format right now is probably "Planeswalker". Yea, I know it's silly and such, but I like that it's so restricted. It allows you to pretty cheaply get all the cards you need to make a quite competetive deck. But oh man..when that craving for an 8 hour draft comes along - or when you just can't wait to attempt to streamline your deck to minimize your chance of getting no mana... God damnit that game is well designed, I hate/love it to hell/heaven and back!

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