Resource Management

Resource Management

In order to win, you've got to use what you've got.

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And in other news, I learned of a new multiplayer format yesterday called "Emperor"

It's a minimum 6 player game where killing the Emperor is the goal... but MAN is is interesting as hell!

Basically, the set up is like this

--E--
G---G
G---G
--E--
E being the Emperors and G being his Generals.

AoE Global spells still hit everyone, but targeted spells have a range of 2, and you can only attack the player you are next too.

Example, the Emperor has a lightning bolt,

--E--
G---G
G---G
--E--

His lightning bolt is a targeted spell, and thus has a range of 2 his targets are:

--E--
G---G
G---G
--E--

He cannot directly interact with the enemy Emperor

Well... if you can only attack the Enemy next to you... what do you do with the Emperor's creatures? They are useless, right?

Wrong.

At the beginning of the Emperor's upkeep, they can send their creatures to one of their generals. It can block for the General, or attack the opposing general. The creature is still the Emperor's in every way, it's merely on the General's playing field.

The creature is then subject to the enemy Emperor's spells though, because it's within the range of two.

I just learned of it, so I don't know exactly how range and counterspells work...

For example:

----Eb1----
Gb1---Gb2
Ga1---Ga2
----Ea1----

If General b1 is casting a doomblade on General a1's creature, can General a2 use a counter to save the creature?

The spell is resolving on Ga1's field... right? Or is it resolving on Gb1's field. ]

I'm not sure, but it makes sense to me that it would be a matter of where the stack is happening.

The stack started on Ga1's field, thus the counter is in range since it was added to Ga1's stack.

This did not come up yesterday so I forgot to ask.

When a General dies, the field changes

Example:

--E--
G---G
E---G

We actually lost a game, because we killed an enemy general, putting me (the Emperor) in the range of the enemy Emperor's spells, then I got double Sorin's vengeanced

P.S. Every General and Emperor has 20 life. They are all separate players, no pooled life or anything like that.

There's more, but I don't want to keep typing if no one will read it or is interested.

The premise kinda reminds me of a tactical RPG.

For the record, we played two games, my 2nd game... I played with my "Empires" Deck, which is a deck built around the 3 Empire pieces... I thought it was rather fitting. We won that game.

Good job talking about using life as a resource, a lot of new players (pretty much all of them) are way too hesitant to use it just as they would use mana. There goes a saying that puts it all in perspective: "The only life that matters is the last one."

It's also good to note when talking about card advantage that you should usually play your spells in the second main phase, leaving all of your mana available during combat (unless the spell you're going to play helps you in combat) because it gives your opponent less information. (which incidentally is another resource worth talking about at higher levels of play, but I don't fault you for not really going in depth in this article)

Another good read, keep up the great work!

I like all this tips, it's a good refresher since I'm getting back into magic. What I want to know is tips on drafting, and which god to pray to so I don't mulligan twice and get a one lander and a no lander.

I really am enjoying reading this column; thank you for taking the time to write it.

Using life as a resource is something old suicide black decks used to do very well. The basic premise was to put a countdown timer on yourself, you could have large creatures stomping around early, but they dealt damage to you as well. Without planning your opponent could just wait until you killed yourself.

Card advantage is something my play group has yet to master (most of them are relatively new), keeping your average CMC low with a card engine deck allows you to play most of your spells without incident, leaving you the options.

Goblin Grenade is a card I was seriously considering for a quick red deck, but Lightning Axe ended up looking a touch easier to control. Neither are bad options though.

Damn you Vanderwall! You've got me into a magic mood!

A couple things. Mana Leak is in no way an efficient counter. An efficient counter would be something like Force of Will, or an actual Counterspell. When you're talking in the realm of counterspells, their CMC is more important than their true cost. So Mana Leak and Counterspell both have a CMC of 2 and Mana Leak provides an escape clause. I'll take the Counterspell any day. Or, if you must have a counter with a cost of 1U, use Arcane Denial, especially if you're playing Combo.

As for your questions:

1. I generally play low CMC decks, so mana is rarely a problem. I do play multi colour decks, however, so getting out my Underground Seas is important.
2. It depends on the colour of my opponent. If they're playing red, I need to keep my life as high as possible, dying to a surprise Lightning Bolt is not fun. Other decks, however, I'll happily take damage down to around 10 life, at which point I'll start playing more carefully.
3. Depends, all of the combo decks I've ever made have certainly been improved with Impulses and Brainstorms. My Black beatdown deck also has required a few brainstorms to really get the creatures I need.

Draconalis:
The spell is resolving on Ga1's field... right? Or is it resolving on Gb1's field. ]

I don't believe so, I would think that it would resolve on the caster's field, and then you target something within a range of two.

One thing to note is that there are certain restrictions on cards that hinder their use. If your a black player playing standard, you know exactly what I'm talking about. My mono-black deck runs 4 different forms of creature removal: Doom Blade (inneffective on black-creatures), Go for The Throat (inneffective against Artifact creatures), Dismember (inneffective against creatures with toughness 6+) and Tribute to hunger (innefective against multiple creatures). If your facing an artifact deck, then your GFTTs are useless, and not really a "resource" when in your hand.

And Madness cards (which can be played if discarded) are completely different. If someone was to Mind Sludge you, and you had a few Basking Rootwallas in your hand, you don't lose any cards when you discard them. That's like just not paying the mana cost for a spell, or just not destroying a creature.

Also, some permanents, like Goblin Arsonist, like to be destroyed. If you Goblin Grenade an Arsonist, you can deal 6 damage to one target, or 1 to one and 5 to another. If you used a Goblin Bushwacker or Fireslinger, then you are losing a card.

Also, sometimes using your life gets a pay back immediately. Using life to boost a Lifelinker's power (Hatred or something like Lashwrithe) can provide an immediate boost to health AND damage.

And on the note of drafting: Creatures win games. Period.

I like playing on the edge, which means I'm willing to use every point of my life as a resource save the only one that matters; the last one. My favorite color should be obvious.

My main resource is equipment. I have plenty of cards that mitigate their costs, so mana isn't an issue, I have cards that let me draw, so that's not an issue, and I just need one replaceable creature to turn into an unstoppable killing machine.

Right now in standard I'm playing a G/W token deck. Unfortunately the $20 price tag of Elspeth Tirel and Hero of Bladehold mean it's not going to be super-competitive but it has worked out well for me so far. With Avacyn's Pilgrims and a turn two Mentor of the Meek you can get pretty awesome card advantage. I play conservatively until I drop a ton of tokens on the board with parallel lives and intangible virtue, then steamroll my opponent with an army of weenies.

I think that when talking about resources you shouldn't fail to mention wasted resources. Excess mana that you never tapped is lost potential. When building a deck you have to think from two ends; you not only need enough mana to cast your spells, you need to be able to constantly make use of that mana. Card advantage is certainly one way to do that. Another way is through abilities that are already in play. The most iconic of these is probably fire-breathing, a simple way to convert any excess red mana you have into damage. In my token deck I use Gavony Township. It can produce one colorless mana, but it's real use is that for 4 mana it can put a +1/+1 counter on each creature I control. It's a great way to make use of mana that otherwise wouldn't have been spent. If you look at almost all of the top end decks they will have things like this to spend extra mana on.

Souplex:
My main resource is equipment. I have plenty of cards that mitigate their costs, so mana isn't an issue, I have cards that let me draw, so that's not an issue, and I just need one replaceable creature to turn into an unstoppable killing machine.

The funniest thing I've found with equipment is using a Worldslayer with a Phylactery Lich and something along the lines of a Whispersilk Cloak. Instant lockout.

To be honest my strategy runs around the following cards

I no longer care about getting hit as of turn 5 because I drop a turn 4 life and limb, then a turn 5 mycoloth eating all my lands, which gives me a 14/14 who makes 10 new lands every turn minimum, so that means that I have 20 life minimum coming every upkeep from ideally turn 5 onward.

off-topic (sorry)

for Venser, the Sojourner

how do you interpret the "next" end step in the first effect?
i've come up with 3 possibilities:
1. the end step immediately after the effect is used
2. the opponents end step
3. the end step after your opponents

Draconalis:
snip

Heh, Emperor is a fun format(though weve been calling the Generals Towers).

As for how counters work:
If this is what the field looks like
T1a-E1-T1b

T2a-E2-T2b

Towers have a spellreach of 1, meaning they can only target the opposing tower(eg. T2a can target T1a)and their Emperor.
Emperors have a spellreach of 2, meaning they can target their own towers, and the opposing towers, but not the other emperor.

NOW

T1a is trying to kill T2as creature with a lightning bolt, the only people who can counter it are: E2(has spellreach 2, so he can reach T1a) and T2a. T2b cannot help T2as creature with, say, a giant growth, because of his spellreach of 1.

Lets say E2 decides to counter T1as lightning bolt. However, E1(or T1a) can NOW counter E2s counterspell. And further, T2a or E2 could now counter E1s counterspell. etc etc...

Basically Emperors can counter each others counters, but cant counter other spells from each other.

fangclaw:

how do you interpret the "next" end step in the first effect?
i've come up with 3 possibilities:
1. the end step immediately after the effect is used
2. the opponents end step
3. the end step after your opponents

Its option 1

OT: I only care about the amount of life i have when im playing either my U/W control, or my U/B control.
My Burn deck only cares about the amount of life i can burn off my opponent before dying, My False Cure only cares about the amount of life i can give my opponent for free on T2 or T3 and my Izzet aggro only cares about the first 2-4 turns of any game.
That said my decks tend to be either really fast or glacially slow.

The Escapist has it's own Magic column? Perhaps this could convince me into starting...

fangclaw:
off-topic (sorry)

for Venser, the Sojourner

how do you interpret the "next" end step in the first effect?
i've come up with 3 possibilities:
1. the end step immediately after the effect is used
2. the opponents end step
3. the end step after your opponents

The first one. When it says next, it means the one that happens within the shortest amount of time since you activated the ability. Although, if you somehow reversed the order of play with a card such as Topsy Turvy, it would be your opponent's end step, since that would be the next one to pass.

Nouw:
The Escapist has it's own Magic column? Perhaps this could convince me into starting...

It can be an expensive hobby, I would only recommend it if you have people to play with. I'm lucky, my dad's been collecting since '94, so I don't have to worry about getting most older cards. It's mostly things from the previous few years that I don't have.

SL33TBL1ND:
A couple things. Mana Leak is in no way an efficient counter. An efficient counter would be something like Force of Will, or an actual Counterspell. When you're talking in the realm of counterspells, their CMC is more important than their true cost. So Mana Leak and Counterspell both have a CMC of 2 and Mana Leak provides an escape clause. I'll take the Counterspell any day. Or, if you must have a counter with a cost of 1U, use Arcane Denial, especially if you're playing Combo.

Of course, mana leak is outright dreadful when playing in older formats where the original Counterspell or Force of will are available, but in the current standard, Mana Leak is the only 2-CMC universal counterspell. Other "counterspells" are either 3-CMC (Cancel, or the strictly better Dissipate), or have restrictions (Negate, Psychic barrier, Corrupted Resolve, Flashfreeze; or if you're going to a CMC of 1 but even more restricted, you have Steel Sabotage, Mental Misstep and Turn Aside).

It's run as a 4-of in basically every deck that has access to blue mana.

Besides, 3 mana is often plenty for it to be a hard counter.

I'm currently playing this deck; the idea is that you drop a threat (delver, Chandra's Pheonix) and the protect it until you win, using burn on your opponent to finish him off. Ponder is a 4-of because it's damn awesome (it sets up Delver for a flip, and it can speed up your game a lot if you avoid, say, 3 lands in a row), and I'm trying to fit in more desperate ravings because it generally lets you get rid of a bad card in exchange for two new ones - better ones, if you know what you're doing.

Druidic satchel is kind of card advantage here; it's main use is putting lands directly in play, because then you don't draw them and actually get something useful from your draw. The saproling (to chump-block that titan) and 2 life are nice, but mostly side-effects to the land-dodging.

A. Smith:

SL33TBL1ND:
A couple things. Mana Leak is in no way an efficient counter. An efficient counter would be something like Force of Will, or an actual Counterspell. When you're talking in the realm of counterspells, their CMC is more important than their true cost. So Mana Leak and Counterspell both have a CMC of 2 and Mana Leak provides an escape clause. I'll take the Counterspell any day. Or, if you must have a counter with a cost of 1U, use Arcane Denial, especially if you're playing Combo.

Of course, mana leak is outright dreadful when playing in older formats where the original Counterspell or Force of will are available, but in the current standard, Mana Leak is the only 2-CMC universal counterspell. Other "counterspells" are either 3-CMC (Cancel, or the strictly better Dissipate), or have restrictions (Negate, Psychic barrier, Corrupted Resolve, Flashfreeze; or if you're going to a CMC of 1 but even more restricted, you have Steel Sabotage, Mental Misstep and Turn Aside).

It's run as a 4-of in basically every deck that has access to blue mana.

Besides, 3 mana is often plenty for it to be a hard counter.

Well, I know yeah. But come on! Counterspell should've never been rotated out. I have no idea why it's not in every core set. If core's purpose is to introduce people to the game, then why wouldn't you have a card where it's name is it's effect. Easy to learn and remember. On the note of Mental Misstep, that's actually one of the few recent good ones. There's a reason it's banned in Legacy.

I'm currently playing this deck; the idea is that you drop a threat (delver, Chandra's Pheonix) and the protect it until you win, using burn on your opponent to finish him off. Ponder is a 4-of because it's damn awesome (it sets up Delver for a flip, and it can speed up your game a lot if you avoid, say, 3 lands in a row), and I'm trying to fit in more desperate ravings because it generally lets you get rid of a bad card in exchange for two new ones - better ones, if you know what you're doing.

Druidic satchel is kind of card advantage here; it's main use is putting lands directly in play, because then you don't draw them and actually get something useful from your draw. The saproling (to chump-block that titan) and 2 life are nice, but mostly side-effects to the land-dodging.

Druidic Satchel is damn amazing. My dad made a saproling deck with one of those in it. Sure, it didn't need it, but if it was out, Christ!

Honestly, to me creatures are one of my most precious resources, I try to only sacrifice them when I have to, if I can take a hit instead of losing a creature I will as the decks I build, I build around creature cards I like [Myr, Slivers, Changelings, Elementals, Wizards]. In the last deck I built and played with, which was a Mirrodin block deck, Red, White and Blue. And while I haven't used it since just before Innistrad it was a beast of a deck with my local group. Most people hated to play against it as the main core of my deck was Myrs' and artifacts, I would run Myr turbines, resevours, mana Myrs, battlespheres, Darksteel juggernauts along side red burn, oblivion rings, ponders.

My deck has brought me many hours of fun, whether its from the guy who cast day of judgement when to try and kill the darksteel juggernaut or the time where I drew 1 mountain, 3 Memnites and 3 Galvanic blasts as my opening hand or my favourite one of all, Blocking 2 dungrove elders with 2 1/1 myr tokens that I kept recreating every turn with turbines.

I see a lot of people mention the "last life is the only one that matters", Which is true in the case as it's the only one need to maintain the option to continue playing, but one of the most important aspects of recourse management is seeing what your opponent want to do with theirs. For example if your opponent is playing lots of burn spells (shock, incarnate etc...) than they are willing to trade cards for your life so you should be more willing to do the same.

SL33TBL1ND:

Souplex:
My main resource is equipment. I have plenty of cards that mitigate their costs, so mana isn't an issue, I have cards that let me draw, so that's not an issue, and I just need one replaceable creature to turn into an unstoppable killing machine.

The funniest thing I've found with equipment is using a Worldslayer with a Phylactery Lich and something along the lines of a Whispersilk Cloak. Instant lockout.

Try using Worldslayer with a Darksteel Sentinel. The fun that could be had ^_^'

SL33TBL1ND:

Souplex:
My main resource is equipment. I have plenty of cards that mitigate their costs, so mana isn't an issue, I have cards that let me draw, so that's not an issue, and I just need one replaceable creature to turn into an unstoppable killing machine.

The funniest thing I've found with equipment is using a Worldslayer with a Phylactery Lich and something along the lines of a Whispersilk Cloak. Instant lockout.

I've been trying to play standard legal, which is somewhat difficult with the ghetto-ization of equipments.

SL33TBL1ND:
A couple things. Mana Leak is in no way an efficient counter. An efficient counter would be something like Force of Will, or an actual Counterspell. When you're talking in the realm of counterspells, their CMC is more important than their true cost. So Mana Leak and Counterspell both have a CMC of 2 and Mana Leak provides an escape clause. I'll take the Counterspell any day. Or, if you must have a counter with a cost of 1U, use Arcane Denial, especially if you're playing Combo.

That's exactly why they haven't reprinted counterspell in forever, balance issues.
They brought back lightning bolt for a bit, and it was disastrous.
Now the standard coverall counter costs 1UU, and specialized counters such as remove soul or those with an escape clause cost 1U. It's all to keep things relatively fun for everyone.

SL33TBL1ND:

A. Smith:

SL33TBL1ND:
A couple things. Mana Leak is in no way an efficient counter. An efficient counter would be something like Force of Will, or an actual Counterspell. When you're talking in the realm of counterspells, their CMC is more important than their true cost. So Mana Leak and Counterspell both have a CMC of 2 and Mana Leak provides an escape clause. I'll take the Counterspell any day. Or, if you must have a counter with a cost of 1U, use Arcane Denial, especially if you're playing Combo.

Of course, mana leak is outright dreadful when playing in older formats where the original Counterspell or Force of will are available, but in the current standard, Mana Leak is the only 2-CMC universal counterspell. Other "counterspells" are either 3-CMC (Cancel, or the strictly better Dissipate), or have restrictions (Negate, Psychic barrier, Corrupted Resolve, Flashfreeze; or if you're going to a CMC of 1 but even more restricted, you have Steel Sabotage, Mental Misstep and Turn Aside).

It's run as a 4-of in basically every deck that has access to blue mana.

Besides, 3 mana is often plenty for it to be a hard counter.

Well, I know yeah. But come on! Counterspell should've never been rotated out. I have no idea why it's not in every core set. If core's purpose is to introduce people to the game, then why wouldn't you have a card where it's name is it's effect. Easy to learn and remember. On the note of Mental Misstep, that's actually one of the few recent good ones. There's a reason it's banned in Legacy.

I don't entirely disagree with you; it doesn't make sense that the core set doesn't have a card called "counterspell".

However.

As souplex said, it's just OP, just like the old lightning bolt. Worse then that, it's extremely strong without any thought being put into it, just like Lightning Bolt. Oh sure, as for other counterspells you need to choose which spells to counter, but there's no competition with other counterspells... In the current standard environment, many decks (including mine) run more counterspells in sideboard just to replace mana leak if the opponent is doing something that you have the specialized counter to.

Another resource to be managed, really. :D

Souplex:
*Snip*

A. Smith:
*Snip*

Well, I've never noticed anything OP happening with those cards. I guess I'm just too used to Eternal formats.

Belzera:

SL33TBL1ND:

Souplex:
My main resource is equipment. I have plenty of cards that mitigate their costs, so mana isn't an issue, I have cards that let me draw, so that's not an issue, and I just need one replaceable creature to turn into an unstoppable killing machine.

The funniest thing I've found with equipment is using a Worldslayer with a Phylactery Lich and something along the lines of a Whispersilk Cloak. Instant lockout.

Try using Worldslayer with a Darksteel Sentinel. The fun that could be had ^_^'

The problem with Darksteel Sentinel is its cost. Phylactery Lich is a 5/5 indestructible for BBB. One of the best opening hands in that deck is him, a Darksteel Relic and a Dark Ritual. Turn 1 5/5 indestructible.

Since I play Legacy and Vintage, it's all about cheap, efficient spells. And Phylactery Lich is one of the most efficient creatures I've ever seen.

Granted, maybe I went to far in my last post; I shouldn't have used "OP". Very few individual cards are OP (oddities like Black Lotus notwithstanding).

The cards themselves aren't OP, but I'd say they work within a different style of game compared to the standard format.

As you say, it's entirely possible to have a 5/5 indestructible creature on the board on turn 1 - in those circumstances, countermagic has to be dirt-cheap and extremely quick, otherwise it would be completely irrelevant. In standard (at least the current standard), games are longer, and not countering the first spell your opponent casts will never be game ending in and of itself; in fact, the extra breathing room it allows makes aggro decks like RDW viable with a smaller and inferior pool of cards as compared to other format's.

Thanks, love these articles since I'm coincidentally trying to get into the game myself.

When I started, I was way too focused on life amounts. My friend had to beat me several times to convince me that cards like Sacred Nectar or Angel Feather aren't worth it. Now I get why Necropotence is so damn overpowered.

I borrowed some of his cards, and now I'm sporting a pretty sweet blue/white control deck. My favorite card so far is Spiketail Hatchling, it's a flyer and a Force Spike built into one. And they're so cute too. ^_^

 

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