deep breath. this is about to out me as the mega-geek i truly am. the game i should like to discuss is magic: the gathering. yeah. i know, even dungeons & dragons dweebs look down on c.c.g. (collectible card game) players like me. in fairness, i don't think i've had a game in over two years. and i haven't bought cards for a while either (although david dreadful got me some for my birthday). but i do love it. really, really, really love it.

i possess a folder with hundreds of articles on magic theory. yes. magic theory. i also had this book. i lent it to some bastard who never gave it back; it's fifty quid new now. suffice it to say, i know what sligh means, and how to counter its weenie aggro. i can stay ahead of the mana curve, build a necro deck or furnish you with the precepts of the weissman school. ah, the weissman school. but, first, an intro is necessary.

magic is a game where two (more can play, but it's shit that way) people make their own deck of cards from the thousands available and play against each other. this is the best bit: sitting on your own (ALERT: INSIGHT INTO CHILDHOOD!) and coming up with a strategy based on the cards available to you. crucially, you don't have to have the best cards to have the best deck. i have never had a copy of the card generally regarded (at least if price means anything) as the greatest in the game: black lotus. neither have i ever had a mox. or any of the other restriced cards. a quick google reveals that they have, in the past, been known as the power nine. but, i think i might be getting ahead of myself...

there are various kinds of cards that do different things, but the chief aim is to reduce the opponent's score from twenty to zero. one does this by getting land cards (which will normally make up just under half of your deck) and using the power this gives you to cast spells of a particular colour. the first decision you generally have to make is what colour you should like to play with: white, blue, black, red or green. each has its relative strengths and weaknesses (or in green's case, just weaknesses. SLAM! take that, green! i am such a dork). you may play with more than one colour, thereby harnessing multiple strengths but laying yourself open to the possibility of not being able to use them - as each colour depends on a specific type of land being present.

i know that's a very quick rush through the rules, but it's my blog and i want to get onto the interesting shit. most players, when they first play the game, will opt for the simplest strategy: creatures. (the image that appears above is of the lovely serra angel, an example of a particular white creature - white cards require a particular land (plains) and their speciality is, in general, defence). this strategy is: get creatures on the board; use them to hit the other player.

that never interested me. i fell for the high concept weissman school wherein you do everything in your power to stop the other player doing anything, and then send over a single serra angel to kill them. it is immensely satisfying to play with and intensely irritating to play against. it relies on a principle called card advantage. this is, roughly speaking, trying to gain an edge on your opponent by getting more cards or, crucially, by taking multiple cards of theirs out of play with just one of your own. for instance, there's a card which allows you to draw an extra card every so often (there are a few - i'm thinking of the jayemdae tome... god, i am awful). the more cards you see, the greater the chances of you having the one you need to beat the opponent. also, if i use a card that says destroy all creatures, i'm using one card to deal with (potentially) loads of the opponent's cards. in addition, if i have no creatures myself, i'm at an even greater advantage.

i've realised i've probably said too much already. but... does anyone fancy a game?

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