Thursday, November 14, 2013

Magic: The Gathering commander league now forming at Big Ben's Comix Oasis

ALLEN PARK — Building a deck to play “Commander-style” in Magic: The Gathering — a fantasy playing card game — used to be rather expensive, which restricted game play from some players.
All of that changed in the summer of 2011 when several varieties with low-end price points were released for as low as $30 a deck. With those releases, building the specialized 100-card decks required for play became simple and drove demands for places to play to an all-time high.
Big Ben’s Comix Oasis, 6711 Allen Road, will begin offering a weekly Commander League that will be open to anyone who wants to compete for prizes.
According to Nick Byrd, one of the Magic specialists at the store, Commander is a “different format” in that it lends itself to more friendly game play, rather than a rush to “crush your opponent.”
“The deck will consist of 100 cards, one of which is a legendary creature,” he said. “The rest of the deck can only have colors that match the selected creature.”
During game play, “mana” is the magical energy that powers spells and it comes in five different varieties. Mana is picked up through different types of land and separated by color: black (swamps), blue (islands), green (forests), red (mountains) and white (plains).
Within those groups, each color stands for different characteristics which affect game play. Black correlates with darkness, ambition and death; blue with knowledge, manipulation and illusion; green with growth, instinct and nature; red with freedom, emotion and impulse; and white with order, protection and light.
Other playing cards, which often depict fantastical creatures, can “attack” and “defend” during game play. These playing cards require mana in order to be played. Strategy comes into play when certain cards are paired for maximum effect, and having available mana in which to use these cards.
“The object is to actually have fun in a group environment,” Byrd said. “It’s meant to create a different game every time you play it.”
If tournament Magic is about wanting to win as fast as possible, Commander is more about how crazy the game board can become.
“It’s an emphasis on having fun,” Magic specialist James Prentince said. “It was never meant to be a competitive format.”
Another twist is that among the deck, which is larger than most formats of Magic, there can be only one copy of each card in the deck, other than the “basic land” varieties.
“You can use as many ‘basics’ as you want,” Byrd said. “But every other style you can only have one of each card.”
Not a league in the traditional sense, no one has to sign up early and there won’t be a committed to a set number of weeks to play.
“It’s called a league because you used to have to register your deck,” Prentice said. “There could only be one of each Commander in the league, that was changed a while back.”
Starting at 6 p.m. Monday, the league will compete every Monday as long as there is interest in keeping it going. Entry to the league is $10 a week and includes a booster pack of cards. The top three finishers each week will be awarded prizes based on the size of the entry pool.
More traditional “Friday Night Magic” is also played at the store each week with tournaments starting at 6:30 p.m.
For more information on the league, contact the store at 1-313-382-0700.

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