Competitive Playing in Casual Games (Opinion Piece)

Winning gives a great feeling.  I’m sure we all can agree on that.  However, does that feeling warrant potentially ruining the fun of others in a casual game format?  For example: in Magic the Gathering, do you play using a deck that may not be certain to win, but will be a challenge for your opponent?  Or do you play the deck that locks other players into a one sided game?  Is it worth the possibility of annoying other players, just to rack up a “W” in games where the only thing that may be on the line is your dignity?  Or choosing to take advantage of an in game exploit in a video game that will undoubtedly result in other players complaining about what you are doing, just so you can say you won?

One should always take into consideration who you are playing and whether or not there is a reason to win besides doing so.  The adage “Winning isn’t everything” comes to mind in such instances.  Perhaps if something is on the line (i.e. prizes, respect, your grandpa’s soul), then by all means, go all out.  However, if you are playing against people who only want to have fun, maybe you should reconsider bringing your gun to the knife fight.

Abzan Tokens, or Dark Mentor’s Spirits! (Modern)

Main Deck

Creatures (7)
Monastery Mentor
Dark Confidant

Sorcery (11)
Thoughtseize
Lingering Souls
Maelstrom Pulse

Instant (13)
Raise the Alarm
Abrupt Decay
Path to Exile
Surgical Extraction

Enchantment (2)
Intangible Virtue

Planeswalkers (3)
Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
Lands (24)
Plains
Swamp
Forest
Windswept Heath
Godless Shrine
Temple Garden
Overgrown Tomb
Murmuring Bosk
Isolated Chapel
Sunpetal Grove
Woodland Cemetary
Vault of the Archangel

When I first started getting into Modern this is the deck I came up with. This was a Standard deck during Innistrad block and I was absolutely blown away by the new Sorin. He was my favorite character in the lore at the time, and I really wanted a BW Planeswalker for my Teysa, Orzhov Scion EDH deck. He was perfect for me. I made a deck using him and Lingering Souls to swarm the board. I had Garruk Relentless backing them up with spot removal and death touch wolves. It was a lot of fun to play, and this deck is similar. It is much more of a control deck though. When Monastery Mentor was printed I wanted to abuse the crap out of it. This shell was still around, so I stuck him in there and have never been happier with how it turned out.

Sideboard

(15)
Timely Reinforcements
Rootborn Defenses
Sundering Growth
Nihil Spellbomb
Intangible Virtue
Beast Within

The sideboard kinda sucks unfortunately. I really like Timely Reinforcements against aggro and burn decks. Taping three in this deck makes people assume it’s Lingering Souls but then to get three creatures off the bat plus a huge life swing feels great. With Thoughtseize, Surgical Extraction, and fetch lands it can be fairly easy to get 1 or 2 points below your opponent to trigger the life gain. The rest of the Sideboard is not terribly exciting to me. I don’t use this deck in tournaments very often, so I don’t get to test out different cards.

GW Hatebears (Modern)

Main Deck

Creatures (27)
Noble Hierarch
Birds of Paradise
Leonin Arbiter
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Scavenging Ooze
Mirran Crusader
Loxodon Smiter
Aven Mindcensor

Planeswalkers (2)
Elspeth Knight Errant

Artifacts (2)
Sword of War and Peace

Instants (4)
Path to Exile
Lands (25)
Forest
Plains
Temple Guarden
Canopy Vista
Razorverge Thicket
Windswept Heath
Gavony Township
Ghost Quarter

This is my primary competitive Modern deck. While I don’t get to tournaments very often, this is usually what I pilot. I built the deck over the course of a year and some change. Trading for bits and pieces at a time. I wrote the list myself, but I used This article to find which cards I wanted to use. The list went through many versions before I decided on this particular build. The one before this actually ran Sun Titan and a fourth copy of Ghost Quarter as a land destruction package. I took it out because it was super slow and not terribly effective. If I could cast a 6 drop and have an untapped land ready to go, then chances are either destroying their mana base won’t do much or I’m already ahead and it is just rubbing salt in the wounds.

Sideboard

(15)
Voice of Resurgence
Kataki, War’s Wage
Leyline of Sanctity
Spellskite
Qasali Pridemage
Sword of Fire and Ice
Vryn Wingmare

This is the latest iteration of the sideboard. I’m not crazy about the single copy of Vryn Wingmare, but nothing else came to mind for that slot and it was the night before a GPt at a local shop. I may run a fourth Loxodon Smiter to go against control decks, but I’m already fairly well positioned against them. If I can get my hands on a second copy of Sword of Fire and Ice then I think I’d run that instead. The swords work really well with Mirran Crusader, so I may end up putting the one of in the main deck and running additional tech in the sideboard. Spellskite{/mtg_card] is quite good against Twin and Infect, so I may get a third copy of that.

Credit to Wizards of the Coast

Legendary Samurai Bros Deck List

Legendary Samurai Bros

General (1)
Iroas, God of Victory
Lands (39)
11 Plains
Mountain
Arid Mesa
Evolving Wilds
Terramorphic Expanse
Thawing Glaciers
Boros Guildgate
Wind-Scarred Crag
Temple of Triumph
Clifftop Retreat
Command Tower
Sacred Foundry
Emeria, the Sky Ruin
Shinka, the Bloodsoaked Keep
Hammerheim
Mikokoro, Center of the Sea
Kher Keep
Slayers' Stronghold
Keldon Necropolis
Untaidake, the Cloud Keeper
Ghost Quarter
Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion
Gods' Eye, Gate to the Reikai
Shivan Gorge

Artifacts (18)
Chrome Mox
Sol Ring
Skullclamp
Konda's Banner
Sword of the Animist
Swiftfoot Boots
Lightning Greaves
Scroll Rack
Commander's Sphere
Honor-Worn Shaku
Sword of Vengeance
Sunforger
Oathkeeper, Takeno's Daisho
Shell of the Last Kappa
Solemn Simulacrum
Heroes' Podium
Tatsumasa, the Dragon's Fang
Akroma's Memorial

Sorceries (2)
Faithless Looting
Wrath of God

Instants (9)
Swords to Plowshares
Path to Exile
Lightning Helix
Boros Charm
Aurelia's Fury
Deflecting Palm
Chaos Warp
Master Warcraft
Comeuppance

Enchantments (6)
Legion's Initiative
Scourge of the Nobilis
Honden of Infinite Rage
Honden of Cleansing Fire
Day of Destiny
True Conviction

Planeswalkers (1)
Gideon, Champion of Justice

Creatures (24)
Kytheon, Hero of Akros
Isamaru, Hound of Konda
Sensei Golden-Tail
Kentaro, the Smiling Cat
Rune-Tail, Kitsune Ascendant
Brimaz, King of Oreskos
Feldon of the Third Path
Hero of Oxid Ridge
Hero of Bladehold
Nagao, Bound by Honor
Fumiko the Lowblood
Jazal Goldmane
Diaochan, Artful Beauty
Tajic, Blade of the Legion
Anger
Agrus Kos, Wojek Veteran
Balefire Liege
Heartless Hidesugu
Nobilis of War
Homura, Human Ascendant
Sun Titan
Aurelia, the Warleader
Konda, Lord of Eiganjo
Gisela, Blade of Goldnight

This deck is one of my favorites. It has amazing come-back potential, great sticking power, and is very tricky for my opponents to deal with. It has come back from single digit life totals many times.

What started as a silly Samurai tribal deck became a more powerful RW agro deck with a legendary sub theme. I went out of my way to find some goofy legendary lands and other permanents to go with that flavor. I made this deck back in Scars of Mirrodin block originally, so I’ve had plenty of time to tweak it. I’ve gone through 4 generals before settling on Iroas (I say ‘settle,’ but really he is way too powerful to ignore). The only one who got cut from the deck entirely was Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer. The previous generals Aurelia, the Warleader, Tajic, Blade of the Legion, and Agrus Kos, Wojek Veteran are all still present to lead the army in case of Iroas’ absence.

The deck can maintain a low profile for a while, so in a multiplayer game it want draw attention right away. I’ll play some small creatures and Iroas to slowly increase my devotion. Then play one of the large devotion heavy spells (True Conviction and Nobilis of War come to mind) and swing at someone for a huge amount. It usually doesn’t kill the player, but it makes everyone else at the table switch to me as their main target (archenemy is always fun). Fending off three to four players at once with this deck really feels like a samurai taking on more several soldiers at once, making this deck an absolute blast to play. Even when it doesn’t go my way (which happens frequently) you can some really cool combat scenarios using Master Warcraft and some other combat tricks thanks in large part to Sunforger grabbing any instant I need.

The only downside of this deck is that it can have very slow draws. It is very mana heavy and many of the legendary lands are too ‘durdly’ to be effective. They add to the flavor and fun of the deck, so I won’t be removing any in the forseeable future. I do have a list of silly lands to add though (Rath’s Edge would be a welcome addition).

Hopefully you enjoyed this deck as much as I do.