Saturday, January 19, 2008

Mr Jack and Magic

Mr Jack

I spent shabbat with my brother Ben and we got in a few games, including this one. These were his first two plays of the game. He began by not understanding why it wasn't trivial for Criminal to win. So I had him play Criminal first, promising to switch sides for game two.

I forgot that he tends to whine when he thinks that there's no hope from his position, rather than look harder at finding a solution. So every once in a while I had to point out an available option. He still didn't believe that there would be hope, and I had to force him to play it out. It came down to him having two guys on round 6, one of which I was going to light and the other of which I wouldn't.

The one I lit (A) was not Criminal, and the other one (B) couldn't escape in time. Yet, if (A) had been Criminal and I had only been able to light (B), (A) would have been able to walk off the board and win the game. So it came down to the wire. And anyway, making it to round seven as Criminal on your first play is fairly impressive.

Now he was convinced that there was basically no was no way to win as Criminal. I took over as Criminal, and escaped on round 4, when I ended up with first shot at moving Mr Orange who was Criminal and had a manhole cover under him.

I think that Mr Jack is a game which you can lose if you don't think through your tactics very carefully. But if you don't throw the game, the games random elements then decide who wins, seemingly randomly.

Even so, the tactics that require thought are fun. You have to think not only about this turn, but the next two turns. It's challenging.


Ben doesn't like drafting, so we play Magic by rolling a die and picking three random cards from one of the colors, over and over until we each have 68 cards. Then we build decks.

This resulted in my having an incredibly poor deck for the first games. I sat there with basically nothing to do. Even though he was stuck with only two mana for a fair portion of the game, I still couldn't win.

The second time we did this, I had a slightly better deck, but it was still no match for his Shambling Strider, a 1/1 Bander, and a Village Elder. He kept picking off my creatures as fast as I could bring them out, and my lack of any damage or bury effects couldn't help me.

It became very boring and seemed to drag on for too long. Next time we play, I want to use my cards; his are too mundane.


Scooter said...

My friends have started playing a version of Magic they call STAXX or Stacks - I've never figured out how they spell it. All the cards except lands go in a few shared piles of cards and everyone draws from those piles. You play any card in your hand as either a land (I've played where it's just a "land", any color, and where it's a land of the color of the card) or the card it says it is. The focus is on playing the cards you get, not on construction. IT moves pretty fast and can turn on a dime depending on the mix of cards that are in the piles.

Yehuda Berlinger said...

I like the construction, too, but I would like a guarantee that a certain proportion and amount of lands would come out on time, without making it TOO easy.