Tis the season. The season to watch terrible horror movies, to dress up as ghouls and ghosts, and to stuff our bellies full of as many sweet treats as we can. Halloween comes but once a year, and it is one of my favourite holidays. Even though it isn’t as much of a big deal over here in merry old Blighty, Halloween still allows us to indulge our darker side. So, it shouldn’t surprise you that in today’s article I wanted to merge my love of Halloween with my love of my favourite TCG. But how to do it? A themed Modern deck based around one of Magics creepiest tribes? That would be far too easy. No, today we will be looking at injecting some spooky fun into your games with some multiplayer madness. So strap in and get ready for a look at Archenemy, with a Halloween twist.
For those not in the know, Archenemy is a casual multiplayer format designed for “one vs. many” gameplay. In a game of Archenemy one player takes on the role of a supreme evil doer, and uses an increased life total and a deck of non-traditional scheme cards to play against a team of about three heroes seeking to overthrow them. Players can use any format to construct their decks, provided all players agree to the format (you will lose a lot of friends if you crush their Standard brews with your $18,000 Vintage monstrosity). It’s a ton of fun to play and if you can get hold of a copy of one of the original box sets, or the more recent Archenemy: Nicol Bolas, then I would highly recommend it. Full rules for Archenemy can be found here.
But what if you were to flip the whole concept on its head? What if, instead of an ‘Archenemy’ you had one player trying to survive insurmountable odds against an endless horde of monsters and horrific beings? That would be a game worthy of Halloween. Today we will give you a step by step guide on how to create our own survival horror inspired multiplayer Magic experience.
The core concepts of Archenemy remain the same. The only differences is the theming of the game. On which plane should the game take place? Are you the besieged forces Mirrodin battling the Phyrexian armies of the Praetors? Do you want to tell the story of a group of humans on Innistrad, facing the unending forces of the dead? This simple choice will give your play group the basic themes you will need to build your decks. For our example we will take inspiration from the recent battles on the plane of Zendikar, with one player taking on the role of the plane itself, trying to repel the Eldrazi menace represented by the other three players.
For one player, you will have the unenviable task of fighting off your friends in the hopes of sneaking out a victory. The trick is to construct a deck that isn’t super over powered, but rather fits into the narrative you and your friends are trying to create. Anyone can look up the top tier builds and just pick one of them, but we are trying to create a story here, so the theme is key. For our Zendikar example we have a couple of choices. We can go with an Allied tribe deck, or we can represent the plane itself fighting back against the Eldrazi menace. I decided to go with the plane itself, as I have a love for Landfall and Trampling beasties.
Zendikar Fights Back
As you can see the deck has a strong theme, but is not overpowered, allowing for some fun games and moments. The second task for you will have to construct a Scheme deck of twenty scheme cards. There are currently Sixty-Five Scheme cards for Archenemy, and you can have your pick from any of them for your games (although the ‘maximum two of each rule still applies). It is also worth bearing in mind that some Scheme could have synergies with your deck, so make sure you pick your Schemes accordingly. For our example I have chosen to use the Scheme deck from Archenemy: Trample Civilization Underfoot. The deck shares a theme with our Zendikar Landfall build, so it seemed the logical chose for this game.
2 Every Last Vestige Shall Rot
1 Evil Comes to Fruition
1 I Call on the Ancient Magics
1 I Delight in Your Convulsions
1 Into the Earthen Maw
1 Introductions Are in Order
1 May Civilization Collapse
2 Nature Demands an Offering
2 Nature Shields Its Own
1 Realms Befitting My Majesty
2 Roots of All Evil
1 The Very Soil Shall Shake
1 Your Fate Is Thrice Sealed
1 Your Puny Minds Cannot Fathom
2 Your Will is Not Your Own
The other three players will each construct a sixty-card deck, representing the evildoers seeking the destruction of our ‘Archenemy’. As with the above build, the trick is to construct a deck that isn’t super powerful, but rather fits into the narrative you are trying to create. Who are the enemies to our protagonist? Will the work well together, or will they compete for the honour of vanquishing their shared foe? The choice is up to you, but I would recommend NOT building your decks together. Work as an allied group of foes rather than a single horde of monstrous rage, otherwise you might find the games all too easy. For our example we have a horde of enthralled vampires lead by Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, a U/R Eldrazi Devoid force, and towering hordes of Ulamaog’s B/G Eldrazi to face off against our denizens of Zendikar.
Traitors of Ghet
Heralds of Kozilek
Bringers of Dust
So, you now have your decks sorted, creepy music playing and the themed snacks ready to eat. The only thing left is to play some Magic. Games of Archenemy are usually shorter than your average game of commander, so if you have set aside an evening you should be able to get at least two or three games in before the witching hour. Try your hand at been the Archenemy, and then if you lose challenge your friends to see if they can do better. The most important rule is to have fun, so don’t take it too seriously and everyone should have a great time.
Well that should about do it for today’s festive treat (or is it a trick?). If you are planning some spooky Magic theme shenanigans this Halloween, please get in touch and let us know and maybe we will be able to share it with the rest of the MTG community. If you have enjoyed today’s article and want to read more, why not like and subscribe to keep up to date on the latest articles from us here at Master of Magics. But until next time remember, Good Fright and Good Night.