Card Superiority

This post also could have been called “Your Better Third” cuz …

Looks like I’ll be P-ing, again.  Type P Magic, that is.  Not sure if I ever linked to rules for it.

Type P

When is cracking packs fun?  When you are playing limited.  As much as I don’t see any advantage to the LCG model, it’s not like opening three boxes of boosters to get enough copies of tournament cards is somehow enjoyable.  It’s often tedious and frustrating, only made more so when you get sets that don’t have nice even distributions of rares or power uncommons.

As prizes?  Nah.  I buy enough boxes of cards to get everything I am interested in or, for games with card limits, enough to trade to get what I’m looking for.

What’s the payoff with limited?  Obvious, right?  Card variance.

So, what are the thirds with CCGs?

Better Player

Better Cards

Better Deck

Inspiration for this post is a combination of the last two.

I often have wanted to crack better cards when playing limited.  I know there exists generally a great deal of interest in cracking better cards, even if it was a myth (to a great degree, anyway) once upon a time that Magic sealed wasn’t as skill intensive because you had greater randomness of card pool.

But.  This idea runs counter to how I play multiplayer CCGs.  Sure, I once played two-player CCGs competitively, even Magic, if at a minor level.  They are a different animal for reasons I’ve mentioned at various times.  But, let’s continue on with the thought.

In multiplayer CCG play, I specifically don’t try to build best decks.  With rare exceptions, I’ve never tried to.  Sure, Conscription, “win in 20 minutes” B5 decks were something I found appealing.  Can go into reasons why, but I’ve either mentioned them or they distract from the gist.

Assuming I’m not driven to victory at all costs, wouldn’t I rather have weaker cards than my opponents in limited play?  After all, if I win, it comes down to skill, one or both of two types.  (Ignoring luck and limited sample size issues.)

Either play skill, which is not the topic, either.

Or, deck construction skill.  Which kind of is.

The best deck isn’t necessarily the one with the best cards.  That applies to constructed, as well.  Affinity might be all the rage, but, if everyone maindecks artifact hate at ungodly levels, maybe want to play red control or something.

My experience with not playing the best cards, coming up with my own personal banned lists either for cards or for decks, has soured me on the idea of cracking better cards.  (With V:TES, it’s much more cards.  But, I didn’t play certain decks with B5.)

I still want tons of burn out of Magic packs because I enjoy burn far more than anything else, despite it being really good and even better in limited.

But, the idea of “OMG!, double White Eyes, Black Magician” to wreck people with is … just … hollow.  It’s a fluke.  I don’t plan on selling cards, though I should probably sell a bunch of my Magic cards I never intend doing anything with.  So, foil, mythic planeswalkers of a Jacey bent don’t really amount to extra value.

Not to say I want to analyze a set’s commons to death so that I can build the optimal metagame deck (not that Type P has a metagame, given that it’s essentially sealed Classic) and have pure joy in how my common 1/1s with some annoying special carry the day off of inspired, heroic, bushido flanking.

I guess, at least until I find some reason to think competitively again, I’m just interested in getting random cards that are cool.  Might be cool ability, cool art, cool name, cool cost.  But, it’s almost a commander mentality without remotely getting into playing commander.

Yet, the reason for this post is that there’s still an interest in building a better deck.  Sure, it might not be the best deck for a card pool but a best deck that does what I’m interested in doing.  The last time I played P, I sided in a second Coral Eel and a couple of Giant Octopuses to go Octopus configuration, figuring 3/3s and a 2/1 for two can annoy morphs.  Deck was way too slow in the second and third games, though.

Magic really did do certain things right.  Limited is just so good because there are so many facets to it.  Sure, you will not have some of the consistency and card combinations that constructed provides.  But, you get flex your brain around having a specific card pool that is not predictable.  Sealed is even more this way than draft, which is part of the reason I vastly prefer sealed.

Draft has its own skill – um, drafting skill.  It’s interesting to me, though likely far less fascinating to me than a lot of Magic players find it.  I’d rather spend my time dwelling on how I force a red splash to play two burn spells when all of my other colors are vastly better.

I actually favor redundancy in my Type P decks because it’s a format that can get absurdly redundant.  I have seven Llanowar Sentinels in a deck, though I could imagine someone going crazy with just trying to build the most redundant Type P deck ever could find a way to get a ton of Raging Goblins or something.  The appeal, though, of redundancy tends more towards the “OMG!  I cracked five Scornful Egotists in five packs!”, with a bit of a “Are you sure you don’t mind losing a Shivan Dragon to this deck that already has two?”

And, draft kind of requires having a draft pool and playing out that event, where something like P has the advantage of my 15 year-old decks still being intact and all ready to acquire more dwarves.

Oh, well, yes, Type P is also different from common limited in that your card pool universe changes over time.  Though, I did do with a couple of P-ers a sealed league where it was just about adding a booster every week.  That had some interesting elements.  Magic – so many ways to play.  V:TES, B5, WoT, UC! – not so much.  Actually, Shadowfist might have more functional formats because people will buy into the idea of playing variant formats far more than V:TES players ever have.  Stronger theme.

Better Player?  I defer to my betters most of the time.

Better Cards?  Sometimes cool cards are better cards, and 3-mana, 4-damage, cannot be reduced or redirected or countered to chump or brain is always very cool, or, like, a real card that has some of those features.

Better Deck?  Magic isn’t the only CCG where this occurs, I find that I usually have the second best draft deck in any V:TES draft I play, but the decisions are rather more interesting when you have some bomb demon with double black but just really need to play R/U/w until you ditch blue and go R/W until you ditch white and go mono-red.

Yup, scary as it is.  Where I hardly enjoy cracking packs for CCGs I play, I still enjoy cracking Magic packs.

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