magic: archenemy

Archenemy came out on Friday, a new multiplayer format for Magic. The idea behind the format is “one vs. many,” so kind of like raid bosses in WoW. One player, the Archenemy, gets a deck of oversized cards. After the draw phase, they reveal the top card of the Archenemy deck ans get to perform the action revealed. This can be anything from destroying one of each of his opponents’ permanents to dealing a bunch of damage to getting a free creature to drawing a bunch of cards. His opponents all play their turn simultaneously, like in two-headed giant. The only difference is that each player maintains separate life totals and separate blockers.

Review after the jump!

First off, we wanted to play in the release event to get the promo Archenemy card, “Plots That Span Centuries,” but there were like 30 people at the store and they were doing 4-person sealed pods, which a) didn’t make sense and b) we didn’t want to randomly have to play the stupid preconstructed decks against smelly kids and wanna-be Twilight goths. However, since there were so many people, the store only had a certain amount of Archenemy decks for sale over the counter, and they ran out of the dragon decks already, so we were only able to get the other 3.

Went to Alan’s apartment, ordered some pizza, and broke out the EDH, which is eternally going to be the penultimate multiplayer variant measuring stick. However, we quickly discovered a problem with EDH-Archenemy: EDH decks are inherently full of ridiculously good cards for low costs. The Archenemy gets to continually do broken stuff like bounce all our permanents, search for extra lands, and get free creatures; when he’s also playing stuff like Baneslayer Angel, Gifts Ungiven (which we told him was banned, but let him play it once), Ghostly Prison, etc., it gets out of hand really fast and there’s pretty much no way for us to win. Beyond that, we also went with the recommended life totals of 40/20, which might be too low. 60/30 or even 80/40 might be more balanced, since it gives the opponent EDH decks time to really get going.

We didn’t really try Archenemy with normal 60-card decks, but I think it might be more balanced because of the consistency. Unless it’s something ridiculous like 3x Jund vs. Planeswalker Control, it should generally be a pretty good match. The other thing is that, between the 4 of us, 2 of us had pretty pigeon-holed EDH decks; Uril with very few other creatures and Reaper King combo aren’t fast enough and don’t have enough quality removal to fight the Archenemy. If I had been playing my Oros deck or Rhys deck, I bet I’d have fared better. Oh well.

For the time being, EDH-Planechase seems much more fun, but I think once we work out the logistics of deck-building and game play for Archenemy, it’ll be just as good.

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