Before I get started I want to state something (mostly so I don't see a torrent of rants replying to this article in the forums): The intention of this article is not to put down combo decks, counterspells, or decks designed to win. The intention of this article is to focus on the difference between making a deck that allows involvement from all players as opposed to decks that are bent on shutting the other player down. That stated, on with the article!
I remember playing magic in my local card shop years ago. It was around the time the Onslaught cycle was released (ages ago for some I'm sure). There were many players in the small shop, which made for some very interesting games. As time went on, I saw the old Illusions of Grandeur
combo deck pop up. Now anyone who as played against this type of deck knows what a pain in the butt it can be. Sure, it's a great combo. You can easily kill your opponent with a Capsize
and also add a mean 20 to your life total. Combined with acceleration like Intuition
, and a plethora of Counterspell
and Force of Will
, you are pretty much guaranteed to win.
So what's so wrong with that? Who am I to be upset at this deck?
“Oh my, someone made a deck that is designed to WIN? The audacity!”
Well, as the weeks went by I saw another one pop up. And another. And another. If not the Illusions/Donate combo it was some other mono blue combo based on counterspelling your opponent every turn so they had nothing out. Eventually I learned that I had to play nothing, hold every card in my hand, wait until they tapped out, play the cards I needed for my combos, and hope they didn't have four force of wills to set me back. I basically played games where I didn't play a single card and lost to a capsize.
So what is the bottom line here? It stopped being fun. I got over complaining about it, because in all honesty, it's a tournament, so people are going to be there to win. But playing casually with these players proved the same. Everyone just made decks based on this principle: Stop your opponent from casting anything. So I have to ask, why would anyone want to play against a deck where they know from the get-go that their opponent will ensure that they cast nothing all game? I might as well sit there and just draw, and say “go” every turn. Which is basically what happens.
I want to get into describing what I mean by player interactivity just to clarify my article. The easiest way to describe a deck that is interactive is by describing things that aren't. For example, abilities like Shadow. It completely removes your opponent from combat unless they are playing shadow, which is a pretty narrow margin. Any type of counterspell also removes player interaction. Heck, playing with a few isn't a big deal. But when people run 4 counterspell, 4 force of will, 4 forbid, and their deck is about 15% counters, that's not interactive at all. When your opponent can't even bring something into play, it removes them from being involved in the game. The same thing happens with combos like Winter Orb
and Icy Manipulator
. It's a nice combo, but basically you lockdown your opponent so they can't do anything while you do anything you want.