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Uncle Nickelpockets

February 18, 2013

Dear Reader,

Today, I wanted to discuss one of my other frequent gaming activities, Magic: The Gathering Online.  I played on and off for a while, but recently got my buddy interested in it due to the relatively small investment it took.

We both puttered around with cards provided by the starter pack plus the five dollar expansion box.  It was a lot of fun and we had a lot of good back and forth concepts that we dueled with.  Then, though, he took some of the “free” currency we’d been provided and started to trade for more cards to strengthen his deck.

Thus began the arms race.

Because his decks were now universally stronger, I felt I had to go shore up the flagging levies of my own decks.  I traded here and there, finding some excellent cards to make my decks competitive again.  Throughout this, we joked back and forth, exchanged names of good vendors, and kept it all light and friendly, so while the arms race escalated, the politics seemed friendly.

A few days later, I noticed he had a new crop of rare cards.  Some of the rares he’d found were absolutely ridiculous.  I asked how he’d procured so many, and he let me in on the name of a vendor who was selling 20 for a buck.  When I got there, that deal had passed, but I knew I had to peruse to keep up with him, so I did.  I bought a few here and there, and our decks mostly equalized again.

This has gone on a lot since then, and we’ve found that the more we do this, the more our decks win due to a single rare card coming up.  We’ve termed these situations “Uncle Nickelpockets” (from moneybags, but the rares were 5 cents apiece).  We’ve also gotten a lot more terse about losing to ridiculous rares.

The thing is, we still laugh about our own hypocrisy.  He complains about my “Uncle Nickelpockets” wins, and I bitch and moan about his.  Throughout it all, we laugh and have good, fun games.

It’s interesting, though, because in a “normal” game (we virtually never play against anyone else), the wins would often come down to whoever had the most rares.  It’s a sad state of affairs, really, and neither of us have any desire to play in any formal, competitive venues because of that.  When we play our casual, friendly games, we always make sure we’re both happy with our hands, or we just agree to restart.  In a tourney, you could never do this; restarting would mean elimination.  To add to that the likelihood that the most “well-nickeled” person likely comes out on top would just add more frustration.

That said, M:TGO is good about the cost issue; it offers “pauper” tournaments in which you’re only allowed to use “common” quality cards.  I like that concept; it seems pretty egalitarian.  Still, the sheer time it would take to mull through the literally 1000s of commons still translates into an enormous investment.  I simply don’t have it in me; my decks I just throw together and then tinker with if they stink.  I’m sure the best players’ decks are constructed with a lot of time and research; they don’t come together just by magic (oh yeah).


Stubborn (and feeling clever)

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Dangfool permalink
    February 18, 2013 10:08 am

    It’s almost impossible to follow all formats. Here’s my suggestion for the Pauper format. Each format has its own supporters and community web sites. is an excellent resource for Pauper. Among the sub-formats is “Modern Pauper” and “Standard Pauper”. You can review the decks used in various tournaments to get a feel for an archetype that appeals to you. I wanted a Red Aggro to start with and substitute around cards I don’t have.

    Good luck!

    • February 19, 2013 2:29 pm

      I’ll certainly check that site out. Thanks for the suggestion! I’ve been working on getting up to speed on the various formats. I had a hard time just understanding “modern” vs. “legacy” and the like, but I think I’m getting my feet under it now. I’ve been working on buying bulk commons from the newest sets so I can work on modern pauper stuff, but since it’s all just for fun with my buddy anyway, it hasn’t been a huge priority.

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. Tellah permalink
    February 18, 2013 10:20 am

    One thing that I do when it’s brewing time is to hit up and run searches related to whatever card I have on the mind at the moment. I did that in my shortrun series on this wonderful site, when I was considering my options.

    I know that you don’t really like taking other peoples decks directly, but letting someone else do a lot of the heavy lifting and then tweaking the ideas to your style can shortcut the heavy lifting of sorting through without being a netdecker.

    • February 19, 2013 2:36 pm

      I did that for my infect deck, which is by far my strongest. I looked up some slivers, too, but there’s so many and many are so expensive I didn’t bother to follow that one up.
      I have considered getting a pre-made, but I’m trying to limit my costs. Getting a deck list could work, though, and funnily enough I’ve built a sac/morbid deck after the one you evolved that meets with marginal success (nothing like getting a -13/-13 til EoT for one black mana).

      You should seriously log in. I’m Stubborn; he’s bkauclctr. You’ve spoken to him on vent before during that one Star Wars thing.

  3. February 18, 2013 2:51 pm

    I haven’t followed the MtG metagame in years, but I know that at least several years ago there were common/uncommon decks that could still give rare-heavy decks a run for their money. The Green/Blue Wild Mongrel decks, for example, could do some silly things with discarding and Madness cards. These days? I’m not so sure.

    I definitely know what you’re talking about with the arms race. My friends and I used to play once a week in 4-5 person multiplayer games. While they basically bought booster packs once or twice a month, I was on eBay picking up those sweet x4/x4 com/unc deals (i.e. 4 of every common/uncommon in a particular set). The advantages gained was pretty brutal sometimes, but mitigated somewhat by A) the fact that few cards could save you from getting attacked by 2-3 people, and B) any time a deck “worked” (the big combo won me the game), I always retired the deck and built something new.

    • February 19, 2013 2:41 pm

      I’ve seen that madness mechanic, but I wasn’t sure if it was enough to build a deck around. I’m going to check that out, though, as it looked kind of interesting. The sheer volume of new mechanics since I was playing back in the early days has been a little mind-boggling. I’d do a list now, but it’s too long and I’m about to leave the office. Suffice it to say, my sliver deck has probably 6 or 7 mechanics in it I have to routinely check the meaning of (though I’m slowly getting better and learning them). Then there’s changes to the rules that have baffled me. When I played, Interrupts were still a mechanic, and tapping was an interrupt, so, for example
      1: I attack with a creature.
      2: You tap a royal assassin to kill my creature.
      3: I tap a royal assassin, which kills yours, and PREVENTS yours from killing my attacking creature.

      Now, there’s no interrupts, and stack mechanics dictate that my creature dies, too.
      Then there’s the multiplier thing. My buddy and I both remembered that in D&D and in MTG that doubling a double equaled a triple rather than a quadruple. Apparently that’s no longer (or maybe never was) accurate. Still, we both remembered it that way, which is odd if we were both wrong. Who knows.

      It’s been a lot to adapt to or relearn, but it’s been fun.
      Thanks for the comment!

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