Thursday, April 23, 2009

How to get rid of mana screw - casual play

Mana screw/the land card is one of the most characteristic aspects of magic. Is there really any fun in losing, or winning, due to mana screw? Isn't the best games those involving a lot of decision-making for both you AND your opponent, and not just having a single play because you screwed? And you screw on both land cards and the wrong land cards: In a tournament once  I sat next to a guy who, twice in the same match-up, didn't draw a single plains to play his white cards in his blue-white deck before he was killled by some R/G aggro brew. He had three islands, though, but hey...

People usually answer to this by saying that you have to improve your land rate, mana base, or curve, but thing is, you still are perferctly able to get mana screwed! Count on it! Never keep a single-land hand!  Never keep a hand that won't let you play anything for the first three turns! Or, choose your own mulligan guideline. You see, not getting lands the first 10 cards is nearly just as random as getting a land on every third draw (facts needed). Add in the fact that real life shuffling isn't that random, and your clusters of land from the match you just played might screw you up if you don't shuffe well. What really scares me is that there are even people who think mana screw is good for the game!

 The Legendary Exorbiantly-priced Black Lotus - The Gift from the Mana Gods

So, what can we do about this? In sanctioned formats, after pro-shuffling and mulling correctly, you can only hope for the Mana god to show some mercy, but as casual players, we simply alter the rules! 

People do that all the time - ban certain pest cards from the playgroup, allowing free mulligans and so on, so why not change how lands work? We can fix the resource card problem by playing the game and building your decks without lands. This will impact the game - these are two possible consequences from removing lands:
-> Some argue that removing the randomness in what resources are availiable makes aggressive low CMC (converted mana cost)-decks too powerful, as it will never have to draw land again when it has reach its fourth.
-> It will make players win more because of skill and the sheer power of cards - making it harder for any inferior player to win. At least mana screw makes it possible for a noob to win over a good player (but is it FUN? Yes, for the noob).

Never miss a land drop again.
A list of rule suggestions/variants that remove the mana screwing part of Magic:the Gathering. 

1. Infinite mana
- Known as Type 4, this variant has no lands, but let you play as high CMC a card you want. Your limit? One spell a turn. Another variant of this is that your cards in a 60-card deck total CMC cannot override 200. That leaves you with an average cost between 3 and 4 per card.

2. No land magic page
- You build your deck without lands. Then, any card can be played upside-down as a land of the types in its mana cost. A 3WG card will be a dual land of forest and plains, and artifacts tap for colourless mana. This makes more cards viable for your deck, when you have more places. Cards that you don't need can be used as land, and you won't get mana flooded either.

3. Land channeling
- you build your deck without lands. Once a turn, at sorcery speed, you may remove a card of a specific colour from your hand in order to get a land in the corresponding one. Removing a Grizzly Bear would grant you a forest. Just as in no land magic, you got to think what cards to enland. Site of origin and rules outline

4. Separate Land Pile
- A inuitive way of solving the problem. You have one pile for lands and another one for your deck of spells/nonbasiclands. Whenever you draw, you choose which pile to draw from. For example, when you draw your starting hand. You can still get colour screwed, though.

5. Land-bouncing the card
- A variant of the No-land-rules. You have some lands in your deck, but any cards can be played as a land. A 5W can be played as a plains, and when you have a plains, you can play the plains to bounce the card back to your hand. You still play one land per turn. This makes the strategi more like - you play your high CMC spells as land early on, and maybe get to use them later on, when you don't need it as a mana source.

6. Changing the mulligan - the mulligan of Choice
A last suggestion is to add a mulligan alternative, which is the only action post-deckbuilding that lets you have any control over upcoming screwiness. Let's say you choose what cards to keep and what cards to shuffle back into your deck. For instance, you choose to keep three cards, shuffling in the four remainder and draw three new cards for a total of six. Yeah, of course you could get unlucky again, but this time you kept low manacost cards in your hand, shuffling away big cards or redundant lands.

And here's a wizards post about mana fixing;
Fixing the environment
when all you really need is just another way of playing the game. Even worse, all those mana fix cards only aplly for some years, and then you need new cards, if you want to keep up with standard. But ah well, they will never change the official game, of course, it would be too much of a hassle, thankfully casual play is the way to go with all these house-rules.

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