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Author Topic: Casual Vintage -- Creativity Within Boundaries  (Read 9698 times)
Ephraim
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The Casual Adept

LordZakath
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« on: February 03, 2005, 11:16:03 am »

What is casual Magic? It occurs to me that although this forum exists, that question probably remains unanswered. The variety of decks and discussions that show up here clearly show that there isn't exactly a consensus regarding what defines a casual deck. To parody Mike Flores, casual doesn't mean bad. If you play with bad cards, please don't call them casual.

For some people, casual is embodied by an alternate deck building format. Highlander, Mental Magic, Peasant Magic, and 5-Color are all examples of alternate formats. These formats are what I like to call "competitive casual." The rules regarding deck construction are as strict as those for Vintage or Standard -- they're simply a little bit wackier. The format itself may impose some additional rules as well (ante in 5-Color, all of Mental Magic). Nonetheless, the rules regarding these formats are firm enough that they could serve as the basis for a tournament. Assuming enough people play, a metagame could develop and they'd really just be a microcosm of competetive gameplay. Vintage players in particular can respect this notion, since the stakes of Vintage tournaments seldom yield the same sort of fierce, amoral competition that one sees in professional competition. If alternate formats are "competitive casual," Vintage is "casual competitive."

Another form of casual that arises is multiplayer casual. Two-Headed Giant, Emperor, and Limited Infinity are good examples of casual, multiplayer formats. Decks may be constructed according to any deck building format -- sanctioned or casual alike. The casual nature of the game comes not from the cards being played, but from the way in which the players interact. Because these formats tend to emphasize having fun in a group, I think of them as being more casual than the "competitive casual" formats described above.

There is another form of casual deck building, however, that neither of these categories encompasses. That form is "casual Vintage," as Ecko (from #themanadrain) so aptly called it. It's the format of many non-competetive players -- build decks out of whatever cards you can get your hands on. That's not a bad idea, but it makes for poor discussion. Assume for a moment that a player has an infinite pool of cards. As far as I'm concerned, this describes most Vintage players anyhow. What, then, differentiates a casual Vintage deck from a competitive one? The answer is, "the player." Although few say so outright, most casual deck builders design their decks with any number of constraints in mind.

For example, consider my recent creation, Hitchcock's "The Birds." My constraints in building this deck are clear: The deck must utilize Faces of the Past, the creature type I wish to use is "Bird," and the deck must utilize Keeper of the Nine Gales. Not explicitly stated, but obvious (if you know me) is that this deck will not include random Power 9 cards, if only because I don't have them. In keeping with these constraints, for example, I turned down a suggestion that I use Battle Screech. I'd have to remove Zephyr Falcon and/or Bay Falcon to make room for more white creatures. That would draw the emphasis of the deck away from Keeper of the Nine Gales, so I discarded the idea.

Obviously, it isn't necessary to think about the constraints of your deck every time you set out to build something casual. Sometimes, the deck really will be "the stuff in my box of cards that looked like it would work well together." For the purposes of discussion, though, it is helpful to have constraints in mind and to state them explicitly. After all, if you don't state the boundaries within which you're operating, there's no reason why your casual control deck shouldn't inevitably drift in the direction of a Slaver variant. On the other hand, if you state, "I want it to use Mystic Snake and Argothian Wurm, but avoid Survival of the Fittest and Oath of Druids," then you have a set of constraints that can define a new direction for the deck. Rather than just vaguely telling people who suggest new cards "that doesn't really fit with what I want the deck to do," be ready and able to explain just what it is the deck wants to do and why their suggestion doesn't fit with that plan.

Also, keep in mind that TMD has a fantastic community with a lot of expertise. If you want relevant commentary on your deck, however, it is helpful if you treat your casual creations with the same dignity as you would treat a competitive deck. Comment on your deck at length, explain any card choices that may seem unusual, and be open to criticism. If you obey the TMD forum rules with your casual decks, your readers will be encouraged to write helpful comments. Bare deck lists are no better for casual commentators than they are for competitive ones.
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Upinthe
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« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2005, 03:06:37 pm »

One of the constraints I liked from Puschkin's old "Seriously Casual" series was that he never allowed himself to proxy cards. You end up using a lot more of your collection that way.

Sensei's Divining Top/Sylvan Library/Mirri's Guile/Preferred Selection?
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I know this won't happen in a tournament, but if my opponent has Chaos Orb in his hand while I'm controlling his turn from a Mindslaver, who flips the card if I force him to play it and activate it?

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« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2007, 02:10:03 am »

My friends and I haven't hammered out anything explicit, but we tend to play a "no power" and no more than six restricted cards kind of format. I am the only one who owns power/drains/shops, so i typically don't run them in casual play. Drain maybe, Force of Will sometimes, Wrath of God, often:) It's more about using Sol Ring and Dual Lands. Demonic Tutor and Balance. Fortunately too, none of us are really combo players, we all run aggro-control decks. The closest thing we have to combo is Stasis+Capsize! It's just about having fun and we all kow that these lists are not tournament competitive. Also, we tend to play free for all four person games or two teams of two. That affects design as well as you have to build for a long game. generally the longer the better!
I don't know if that helps the discussion, just a window into my little circle.
tom
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Ephraim
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The Casual Adept

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« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2007, 10:38:33 am »

Defector, your example is actually very helpful.  When the players are able to tacitly agree that certain cards and certain strategies will make the game less fun, and then avoid those cards and strategies, the entire casual play group benefits.  One of the problems with trying to lay down "rules of deck construction" for casual play is that if the group doesn't have a shared understanding of what the appropriate power level is, then you'll still get players creating the most broken possible deck within the rules.  Just to provide an example of how I approach this problem:  If I find that one of my casual decks is winning more than 65% or 70% of the time, I pull it out of the rotation.  It becomes a "special occasion" deck.
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GUnit
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« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2007, 02:39:15 am »

Defector, your example is actually very helpful.  When the players are able to tacitly agree that certain cards and certain strategies will make the game less fun, and then avoid those cards and strategies, the entire casual play group benefits.  One of the problems with trying to lay down "rules of deck construction" for casual play is that if the group doesn't have a shared understanding of what the appropriate power level is, then you'll still get players creating the most broken possible deck within the rules.  Just to provide an example of how I approach this problem:  If I find that one of my casual decks is winning more than 65% or 70% of the time, I pull it out of the rotation.  It becomes a "special occasion" deck.

That's pretty much how I handle it. I normally try to pick a janky strategy, and then make it as good as I possibly can without using expensive non-land cards. For example, a personal favourite of mine is to play nature's revolt, reins of power, brand and goblin bombardment to turn all of my opponent's lands into creatures, take control of them all, take mine back, and then attack someone for a bunch and start shooting lands at people's heads with bombardment, or drawing cards with read the runes.

However, if everyone starts to gangbang me in multiplayer I'll be a jerk for a game and bust out meandeck tendrils (not to be confused with MD Gifts) and bust some heads on turn 1.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2007, 02:48:55 am by GUnit » Logged

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KnowmaD
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« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2008, 03:27:31 pm »

I don't know about the jerk part , yeah maybe, but if an entire table of mages are  hate n  they are definitely asking  for the "Meandeck".  And/or the middle finger . Wink

Price seams to be the deciding factor for the majority of the play groups i've  been in.  This can have an unfortunate effect to create a separation of the groups.   
In general people are cool an no one should ever have to worry about it.  Most people playing any type of casual or magic for that matter have a second deck.
Pet Decks an such.  Playing another persons deck is fun too.

 I also hear a lot of "if you got it play it".

Me. I tend to carry a basic guide line for casual. Mostly mentioned above. No proxies is a big one. Then probably no power, but thats a price an information problem for people. For example, the town i'm in now didn't hardly know of power aside from the infamous black lotus.  No one understood why just that it was so damn expensive. So when playing in town i tend to play with restrictions. Highlander or five color (not the big pile of 200) and request lots of booster drafting an other of the like styles that allow more player skill to be a factor.

As for casual vintage.  I don't agree that its a format but more of playing good vintage decks in a casual way most likely casual setting.  I do most def beleve that its about the people when i comes down to it.

                                                                                                                                                                        Later.  Knowmad
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Prodigal_Sorceress
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« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2008, 09:32:36 pm »

Really, I believe that casual is all about the player's mindset. If it is getting together to talk about strategy and to pit your Barren Glory deck against a deck that abuses Warp World, it is likely that your playing casual. My friends and I define casual as a game where it doesn't matter to you whether you win or loose, you are playing merely for playings sake. We play multiplayer, Two-Headed Giant, Emperor, Battle Royal, really anything that allows us to continuously enjoy the game. The only real rule is that proxies need to be kept to a minimum. You may take a slip of paper and call your island an Akadar Wastes, but only if you are actively trying to obtain the card in trades. I have noticed that casual games also tend to be slower, or have fewer rules, restrictions wise. We don't really care if you play with your three Lion's Eye Diamond and two Tinker, as long as you own the cards, and you are making the game fun for everyone else.

For those of you who may like a challenge, try building a fairly fast deck that wins with Coalition Victory or Barren Glory. Stuff like that is always fun.
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KnowmaD
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« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2008, 08:13:53 pm »

I''ve done the victory with sliver overlord ex.. turn 5 / 6 tops.   Barren glory is a new one for me but the old Mortal combat was my favorite.  A bit tricky but being able to say Mortal combat in the tone of the game fallowed by fatality.  Priceless.

                                                                                                     keep kool
                                                                                                     Knowmad
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ChaosOrb
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« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2009, 05:26:07 pm »

I agree with what Prodigal_Sorceress  wrote.  I play to have fun, win or lose.  Don't get me wrong, I'm competitive, but for instance if I'm playing a multi-player game and a younger gamer joins in, I'm not gonna Force of Will his Craw Wurm.  I also LOVE playing casual because I get to play my favorite card of all time:  Chaos Orb.   Very Happy
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mike_bergeron
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« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2009, 07:44:21 pm »

Cube with all the oldies and goodies in there.  I love playing against arabian nights cards you barely ever see anymore, and throwing in new ones to spice it up.  Singing Tree was house the other night.  We do play with power cards int he cube- but we do it for nostalgic reasons more than anything.  People love Chaos Orb, Icy, and playing with moxen. 

Its funny, people are more excited to play with blaze of glory and forcefield than ancestral.  My crowd played 94-96 and stopped, and recently got going again the past few years.
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zeus-online
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« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2009, 07:56:39 pm »

We usually have only a few rules for casual decks:
They must be legal in some format.
You may not play with cards such as the P9, FoW, Plow or other way overpowered cards that can nullify entire decks just by their presence in a deck.
Other then those constrictions, go nuts! But beware, noone likes to play against a "too efficient" casual deck as your opponent probably does not have the means to combat overly powerfull cards, combinations or tactics.

A good example of this would be Draw, go! there are no overpowered cards, but the tactics is extremely annoying and rather hard to deal with when playing a casual deck.

It's mostly about equilibrium though, aslong as everyone plays by the same rules, no problems.

/Zeus
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ChaosOrb
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« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2009, 10:24:48 pm »

My groups always let me play multiplayer with my power, but if I start going broken, the whole table goes after me.  I'm soo Switzerland when I play.   Wink

One of my favorite things to do when playing casual is "Door to Nothingness".  Freaking awesome fun.   Very Happy
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Elfer
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« Reply #12 on: September 23, 2009, 10:26:52 pm »

It's really hard to discuss rules for casual vintage in the general case because it's EXTREMELY metagamey, and depends on the budget of the players involved.

For example, back when I was 11, it was viable for me to build a janky deck out of commons and beat the kids who had money for new preconstructed decks (at that point in my life, the Urza block precons were sort of a benchmark that separated the good players from the rest). Since nobody really had the budget or the card pool to run four copies of rares, we ended up with a sort of semi-limited yet constructed environment. Anything was allowed, but power levels were naturally in check.

Ten years later (and after a long break from the game), the players that I know all play competitive constructed, and could likely hose anything I could put together from my old collection with their second or third best standard deck. So now I only play limited, and a bit of casual constrcuted with other non-serious players using my own collection as the card pool.

Basically, the rules that make casual vintage fair are the rules that give every player a relatively equal ability to win games. I have a tendency to lose more than I should under these rules, but that's because I prefer playing lots of weird decks to tuning up a really brutal deck. I also quickly retire decks that win too often, since they're not interesting to play with.
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