Friday, January 13, 2012

It's the Magic: Worst Deck in the World

I couldn't find a clip of the episode where Data beats a guy at space finger-chess by playing for a stalemate, so here's 15 minutes of Worf getting shot down:

It's long been a dream of mine to make a deck that's incredibly bad. I mean, I've made hundreds of decks and about half of those have been god-awful. What I'm talking about is the creation of a deck that finds new depths for poorness of existence.

Don't think this is a simple task. A deck with sixty lands is pretty bad, but not in that great a way. A 104 card deck a Hymn of the Invincibles playset and one hundred mountains objectively unplayable. A deck that does nothing but makes you pay life for spells. Fifty-seven copies of Relentless Rats and three Swamps. A deck with thirty-six creatures in the variety of Commander Greven il-Vec, Phyrexian Dreadnaught, Lord of Tresserhorn, Fleshbag Marauder, and others of their ilk.

You'll thank me later, when you're not blocked by Saprolings.

Anyway, there has to be a certain level of finesse here. Anyone can make a deck that doesn't work (except George Takei. It's not that he's tried and failed, but that the paradox of George Takei attempting to be awesome at being terrible would cause the universe to explode. He's far too conscientious for that.).

The world's worst deck needs to have some of several qualities:
1) Terrible cards. Playing the worst cards available has some merit. Nothing says "this deck isn't afraid to be pathetic" like Pearled Unicorn or Takeno's Cavalry.

Takeno's Cavalry, the Dan Hibiki of Magic: The Gathering.

There are some classically useless cards, too many for all of them to be included in one deck without just becoming a kitchen sink of crap, which leads to the second point.

2) It has to play like a deck. In Magic, the practice of playing a deck while wailing on an imaginary, do-nothing opponent is called "goldfishing." Some players use it as a metric for how their deck works, but it's kind of boring. If another person is going to shuffle, cut, and set their life total to twenty, you should at least be playing a game. It might be a flat, set-'em-up-just-to-knock-them-down beatdown, but there should be some interaction and a few surprises. Even a deck that doesn't play a single spell until turn six is kind of funny.

3) It should be funny. No pressure, but if you forgo the traditional route of gaining enjoyment from a game of Magic (victory), then there has to be another objective at play. Instead of letting your opponent goldfish until you die, you interact in the pursuit of a counter-intuitive objective, usually one absurd enough to be a pleasant surprise.

a. Dealing more damage to yourself than an opponent does to you.
b. Gaining life faster than they can take it (without actually winning).
c. Creating an infinite stalemate.
d. Locking the game into an infinite cycle.
e. Losing the game on the first turn.
f. Making a terrible card effective, (For example, turning all of an opponent's creatures into spirits, forcing them all to attack, then using an infinite untap cycle on Takeno's Cavalry to destroy all of them.) even--nay, especially--if there are better cards for the role.
g. Near-synergistic elements that seem to work, but don't.

4) The ultimate point of a terrible deck is to showcase the same skill set that a good deck does; choosing synergistic cards and good play. To that end, you have to survive long enough to demonstrate what's in your deck and why. After all, you don't want to go best two of three with a deck that's destined to lose. Granted, you're probably swinging full playsets of reject rares and shitty commons, so the jewels of your deck should come quickly. None the less, adding a few turns to the game is probably a good idea (see 3 b.-c.).

My current Worst Deck Ever is white with Auras, life gain, and shitty fliers...and Takeno's Cavalry. It's 2-3 so far, so I've got a long way to go before making a truly terrible deck.

Two victories. I'm certainly no Takei, that's for sure.

No comments: