Magic Fra Diavolo: Now With Extra Spice…

With the Back to School season in full effect, I thought it would be a good time to share some techniques my school Magic playgroup has used to keep the game fun and exciting.

Chances are if you’ve been playing the game for a long time with the same group of people, and you’re on a limited budget, you’ll notice your sessions taking a turn for the dull. It’s nobody’s fault, but Magic is interesting mainly because of the countless interactions between the cards, and seeing how different “formats” evolve depending on what cards you use. This element is lost when you wind up playing the same decks against each other over and over again. Eventually you will have evaluated the matchups from every angle, and you’ll know who is going to beat who before the cards are even shuffled.

To help keep the game lively among your playgroup, allow me to suggest Magic Workstation. It’s a program that allows you to store the entire catalogue of MTG cards and build multiple decks. It also allows you to play with other users online, all for free.

Once you’ve downloaded MWS and used their instructions to set up Magic, you’ll have unlimited copies of every card in the game at your disposal, creating endless gameplay options.

My playgroup turned itself into a “Workstation League.” We brainstormed a bunch of wacky variant formats, in which we’d compete round-robin every week. We made each event a one-dollar buy in, so at the end of a month we had around 40 dollars to give to the player who had won the most matches. We added a prize as a cheap way of injecting some incentive into playing and playing well, but it’s obviously not necessary.

Here are some ideas for alternative formats we used:

-Dart Block Constructed: We laid out every set in Magic on pieces of paper, which we attached to a dart board. We made bad sets that nobody wanted to play huge, while good sets we’d all fight over were only allotted a small space. Then, each player got three darts, and whatever sets he hit would be his “block” for that week.

-Break The Card: We searched the extended format for what we considered to be some of the worst, most situational and janky cards ever created for the game. Then we put them in a hat, drew lots, and built decks around the card we drew. Your deck had to contain your card, which had to be an integral part of your win condition. While fun at the outset, this format probably generated the most controversy, as it’s hard to tell when a card is “integral,” to the win. As a variation on this format, we would occasionally all take the same card, to see who came up with the most innovative way to break it.

-Time Machine: There wasn’t much creativity involved here. We just decided we missed certain eras of Magic’s development, and wished we could go back and play more. Whoever chose this format got to choose a format no longer legal in tournament play. I was psyched to get to build decks for stuff like Ravnica Block and Onslaught Block so many years after packing those cards away.

So, if your local playgroup is on the rocks, and you’re looking for a free way to add a little variety to your Magic games, I highly recommend Magic Workstation. It’s also a wonderful tool for deckbuilding and testing more serious matchups, since you can build any deck in any format without spending a dime.

Until next time, MTG’ers, have fun and mise!


About incontrol88

I'm a 21 year old senior Journalism and Mass Communications major at St. Bonaventure University in Olean, NY. Writing and hobby gaming are my two greatest loves, and it is my hope to combine them here for the benefit of the burgeoning gaming community. I'm mostly an RPG/RTS fan, but I play everything from Final Fantasy to Call of Duty! View all posts by incontrol88

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