As a longstanding veteran of Magic: the Gathering, I have watched many players come and go throughout the years. In fact, when I look at the number of people I’ve played with since the early 90’s, the number of friends and family who once participated in the game but no longer do is far larger than those I know who still do. That the list of former players is sizable doesn’t surprise me – there are a multitude of reasons people quit. Rather, what strikes me when I look back is how many of those players were people I taught how to play (or learned with concurrently). For years, I was unofficially designated by those I played with as the go-to person not just for rules knowledge (as is the case now) but also as the best resource to teach someone new to the game. At one point I had it down to a science, knowing which things to impart to a brand new Magic player and which to leave out so they didn’t get quickly overwhelmed.
I didn’t complain with this charge, as I loved the idea of getting new friends into an activity that I enjoyed, but given the turnover of players I’ve been privy to over time, I also secretly rejoiced that I was able to keep the pool of Magic players I knew at the same level.
However, I have to confess that I haven’t had taught anyone new in almost seven years, and that person decided that the game wasn’t for her. Part of this dearth of new blood is due to a bunch of societal factors such as a social sphere that doesn’t often see an infusion of new people and that our play group has gotten collectively older.
Yes, Magic may be for every age group, but finding new casual players the further ones gets from the 15-25 year old demographic has proven, shall we say, tricky.
The other major factor, though, is the experience issue. The most novice players in our group have been active for at least five years, and better than half of us have been playing for at least a decade. That’s a lot of inherent strategic and tactical knowledge for a group, and for someone coming into that environment who’s trying to grapple with the mere basics, it can be incredibly intimidating. It can also be incredibly disheartening if Magic initiates are surrounded by people with significantly more knowledge, more experience, and usually, much more complicated and powerful decks.
One thing I do remember that hasn’t changed since the beginning: the moment a new person feels significantly outclassed, that’s the first strike against their desire to continue learning. Just think back to the last time someone completely smashed you into the pavement before you even got ow started or when someone purposely pivoted into an infinite combo win and there was absolutely nothing you could do about it.
Now multiply that by ten: that’s how a new or returning player feels about the same situation. Half the time they won’t even understand what just happened, let alone be disappointed in losing.
Unfortunately, there’s no one simple answer on how to handle such instances. Commander and other multiplayer formats help diffuse new player balance issues somewhat, but aside from pairing newer players with other new players or having your play group pull punches by not using their top-tier decks, the best option I’ve determined in my time is to prevent said hyper-aggressive or combo-addicted players from acquiring the tools they need to become unstoppable in the first place.
To that end, this week’s pick happens to be a great Timmy-friendly removal card.
Today we have: World Queller
Name: World Queller
Focus: Spot Removal / Board Wipe
Highlights: World Queller certainly reflects the plane it comes from, as there aren’t a great deal of quasi board wipe cards that come in a 4/4 frame. Admittedly, World Queller isn’t the fastest removal card around, but it has a few advantages all the same. For one, the card doesn’t attempt to indiscriminately wipe the entire board or generate a one-sided destruction effect. For another, World Queller forces permanents to be sacrificed rather than be destroyed, which is always helpful against pesky indestructible things.
Plus, a 4/4 isn’t exactly a pushover of a creature, bestowing you with a decent blocking deterrent from smaller creature attacks.
World Queller is also a very useful political card in Commander since you don’t technically have to destroy anything when it triggers if you don’t want to. While it’s usually best to opt for a card type that will get destroyed since it doesn’t often have a huge lifespan on the board, it can be advantageous on occasion to choose a card type that won’t be affected for reasons of appeasement, political alliances, or to simply increase its lifespan.
All together, World Queller may not be a highly complicated card to understand, but is a highly economical option that is easily worth its five mana cost. Sure, it doesn’t help the old chestnut argument that White has answers to anything, but the card’s effect is limited to an upkeep trigger once per round, so it isn’t going to be a game-breaking card. If anything, it’ll help stop game-breaking situations.
And new player or not, being able to stop your opponents while providing a modicum of balance to the game is always worth the investment.
Keep an eye out for us to be regularly featuring other more accessible-but-worth-it Commander cards going forward. In the meantime, we’ll keep the light on for you.
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