Today we’re going to detail one of the most important aspects of Magic, reading cards! Now, I know you’re all thinking that you already know to read cards, but we’re talking about paying attention to detail.
Most of the time a player is surprised to have lost, it’s not because he didn’t know the rules. It’s because he didn’t actually read and fully understand what every card did. Let’s look at a few examples of oversight I see on a regular basis: equipping illusions, Armadillo Cloak, and double strike interaction with equipment.
In the past few months of Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012, Realm of Illusions has remained one of the most viable decks. Unfortunately, a major flaw of phantasmal illusions is that if they are targeted by anything, they must be sacrificed. Thus, equipping illusions seems impossible.
Luckily there is a work-around if you read cards carefully enough: Quest for The Holy Relic.
When sacrificed, it allows its controller to search his library for an equipment card and attach it to a creature he controls. Since the wording of the card doesn’t say anything about targeting, you can throw Sword of Feast and Famine on your Phantasmal Dragon!
Obviously this won’t always be a viable option (lest of all in Duels of the Planeswalkers) but it certainly opens many possibilities you might not have thought about had you not realized that you could equip these illusions.
Next let’s go into Armadillo Cloak. This card reads “Enchanted creature gets +2/+2 and has trample. Whenever enchanted creature deals damage, you gain that much life”.
The first part is rather straightforward, but the second part is interesting. It basically describes Lifelink, yet doesn’t say the word. You can use this to your advantage in multiple ways. For instance, you can enchant a powerful creature of your opponent’s and every time it deals damage you will gain life, not your opponent. Another way you can benefit from the strange wording is by creating double Lifelink. If you equip Aura Gnarlid with Lifelink and Armadillo Cloak, it will gain you life for the Armadillo Cloak and for Lifelink, which will result in you gaining twice as much as you would expect. All because you were functionally literate.
Double Strike’s interaction with equipment is my last example of how paying attention to the exact wording of each card can help you out tremendously. The first time I saw this happen in Magic the Gathering online I was utterly confused. I saw my opponent’s life keep going down and couldn’t understand why.
Then I read Sword of War and Peace more carefully. It reads, “Whenever equipped creature deals combat damage to a player…” So the Kor Duelist that my Sword of War and Peace was attached to dealt combat damage to my opponent twice, once in the first strike damage phase and once in the normal combat phase thus activating the sword’s ability twice.
The importance of reading each and every card carefully isn’t an option, it’s necessary for winning games.
Here’s a final example most of you have never heard of. This combination deals with Oblivion Ring and Into the Roil. You play Oblivion Ring targeting your opponent’s Jace the Mind Sculptor. He’s not worried because he has an Oblivion Ring of his own in his hand to take care of yours. But then after Jace is exiled you cast Into the Roil targeting your own Oblivion Ring. His Jace stays exiled and you have your Oring back.
As long as you cast Into the Roil before the second part of Oblivion Ring, “When Oblivion Ring leaves the battlefield, return the exiled card to the battlefield under its owner’s control” resolves there is no way for the card exiled by Oblivion Ring to return to the battlefield.
Bye-bye Jace. Enjoy eternal damnation!