How many of you love Magic? All of you I'm sure, or else you wouldn't be reading this article. Now, how many of you feel that you're obsessed with it? Fewer hands this time...Well, I'm here to talk about a format that you'll do well in only if you have a bit of that obsession in you. I'm talking about Mental Magic. Now I'm sure plenty of you have heard of Mental magic, but it always surprises me how little the format is discussed. So, for those readers out there that have never played Mental Magic, this article is for you.
The format for Mental Magic (from here on referred to as MM) is for the most part easy to learn. However, it has a few minor rules you need to be aware of. Let's start with the basics, though.
The game is played with at least two people, though the more the merrier (personally I think 6 is ideal). All players play using the same deck (a "community deck", if you will) of about 250-300 non-land cards. If one of you has a random assortment of cards, with all different colors and casting costs, pull a large pile of cards from there. However, if you want to be precise, at the end of the article is a list of what I have found to be the best mix to use (for a 300 card deck).
Each player starts by drawing a seven card hand. Pretty standard, right? Well, except that your hand won't contain any lands. In MM any card from your hand can be played face-down in front of you as a land. This "land" can tap to produce any color of mana. Like in normal Magic, you are limited to playing one land per turn. Now comes the fun part. Your hand will contain an assortment of cards with all kinds of casting costs. As you're scanning through your hand you notice that you're holding a Shock
. But in MM that shock is never played as a shock.
You see, the point of MM is to play cards from your hand as if they were different cards with the exact same mana cost. The shock in your hand cannot be played as a shock, but it can be played as a Frostling
or a Gamble
. A Wood Elves
, however, cannot be played as a Troll Ascetic
because the casting costs are different. Make sense?
Now for some finer rules to the game. No card can be played more than once. If someone plays his or her Unsummon
as Ancestral Recall
, then no other ancestral recall can be played for the rest of the game. And, if a card is played that requires someone to "name a card" there are special rules that apply. When a card is in play it has the name of what it was played as. For example, if that shock from above was played as a frostling, then its name will be frostling. If that "frostling" is returned to your hand somehow, then its name will become shock. Needless to say, Cabal Therapy
is not very powerful in this format.
One other important rule to remember has to do with the graveyard. If you play a card as Wonder
, and that wonder dies, it will obviously go to the graveyard. But, just as cards in your hand have their original name, so do cards in the graveyard. That wonder, upon dying, is no longer a wonder, and thus will not give you any benefits. However, playing a card as a threshold creature is fine. That Wild Mongrel
can be played as a Werebear
and benefit if the community graveyard has at least seven cards. Most playgroups that play MM need special rules for things like patriarch's bidding, though. Here's my rule: agree not to play that kind of card.
See, MM is usually not about winning. It's about seeing what kinds of crazy cards your friends can think of. Try to build a combo with your cards, if you can. Some of the wackiest things I've ever seen happen in Magic have happened in MM (I've gotten infinite mana before, then used it to play Ivy Elemental
). As you play, you and your friends will surely encounter situations that require some discussion, but you can make up your own policies as you go. The point of the format, again, is to have fun. Show off your obsession for once! Until next time, enjoy the game.