By DarkRitual on March 7th, 2006 · Filed in Variant Formats · Comments not available just now
Anyone who read my last article on multiplayer probably already knows about Mo’land. I listed it as a multiplayer variant along with classic favorites such as Free for All, Two-Headed Giant, and Emperor. But Mo’land has a unique trait that differentiates it from the other formats: it doesn't have to be played in multiplayer.
For those of you who have no clue what I’m talking about, let me bring you up to speed. Ever get mad because you lost the game due to mana screw or mana flood? You draw 5 lands in a row, but you keep a cool head knowing it has to end sometime, only to look at your next card and see another land. Then you start to wonder, why has Magic plagued us with these useless cards that take up 40% of our decks? Will there ever be an answer? Well, there is an answer, and it’s called Mo’land.
This variant was created by me about 3 years ago, making its debut on a free online Mini tournament on E-league. The debut didn't go over that well. The variant wasn't very popular because people didn't want to have to make a new deck to be able to play, so I stopped running them. A month later, I got tired of online Magic and didn't play for awhile. Three years later, as I was writing my multiplayer article, I was trying to search for the website that I put the original rules on. I didn't find the original site, but another one had been made with the same rules that I used back in the day. Apparently the format had become a success after I left.
I actually got the idea from playing Mental Magic. I sucked at Mental Magic; I could never think of any good cards besides the one actually printed on the card, which is the only one you can’t use.
So I would always joke “Why don’t we just play the cards as they are printed and forget this Mental Magic business?”
“But then it would just be regular Magic.” He replied
“Well, actually no, because there are no lands.” And at that moment the wheels started turning.
“No” land: Take 1
So I started creating the rules for the game. I wanted the rules to be simple and to the point. So the first draft went like this:
Sideboards are banned
Lands are banned
Can play cards in your hand as lands that tap for the colors in their casting cost.
Gold cards and artifacts played as lands count as non-basic lands, everything else played as a land counts as a basic land.
The first version of the game I actually called No Land, instead of Mo’land, because lands were banned. The rules were pretty simple. Sideboards were banned because you could essentially put your sideboard maindeck in place of lands. As I said before, lands were banned. If you could play any card as a land, why would you want to still play lands? Well, what if you wanted to cycle Eternal Dragon? You would have no plains to get in the deck because plains are banned.
I sent the rules to one of the other e-league judges and asked him what he thought. He thought it would be better to have an FAQ section to address certain issues that might be confusing. So I started a list, by the time I was done I had like 15 questions up there. Way too many rules for new players to absorb, and there was still the issue of lands being banned preventing cards like Eternal Dragon from being playable. So I changed up the rules.
Mo’land: Take 2
In the next version, lands became legal to play again. The wording of the rule that let you play your cards as lands was changed so that people didn't get confused. It was changed to “You may remove a card in your hand to put a land into play that taps for the colors in their casting cost. You can’t use this ability if you have played a land this turn, you can’t play a land after using this ability. Can only be played as a sorcery.”
The rules got drastically shorter because I basically eliminated the FAQ section. I sent the same guy the rules again, he liked it. It was short and to the point. The only thing left to do was create a banned and restricted list. I started looking for cards that would be broken if you didn't have to play any lands. Boy there were a lot. Between the two of us we had like 30 cards on the banned list before we even started searching through the Apprentice card database. We couldn't really think of any good way to find all the cards that were broken. So we just tried to find as many as we could and stopped their. The rules stayed the way they were for the debut of Mo’land, but I was still trying to think of a better way.
Mo’land: Take 3
So I stopped playing online Magic, but me and my friends would still play Mo’land in real life. One of them brought a stunning observation to my attention. It seemed that every card that was broken in Mo’land referenced lands in some way. So we made the change to the rules and here’s what we came up with:
You may remove a card in your hand to put a land into play that taps for the colors in their casting cost. May only be played as a sorcery.
Cards you remove that are gold or artifact would put a non-basic land into play, cards that are single color put the basic land corresponding to that color.
Cards referencing lands are banned
Sideboards are banned.
With the new change the rules became significantly shorter. We realized that we wouldn't be able to play cards like Farseek any more because of this rule, but the fact that the rules got a lot shorter makes up for it. And since we were just playing for fun anyway, we could make exceptions to the rule for random cards that just happen to mention lands but aren't broken. For instance, Creeping Mold.
Why play Mo’land?
The coolest thing about Mo’land is that it’s a different version of regular magic. So it gives you the opportunity to be creative and come up with different deck ideas. Sure, you can play regular standard until you are blue in the face, but every once in a while you want a change of scenery. The weird thing about Mo’land is that the change in rules doesn't help out one type of deck more than another, it gives something to Aggro, Control and Combo.
Lands can be really troubling to an aggro deck. No matter how well you balance your land compared to the rest of the deck, you are bound to be mana screwed or flooded in some games. For the more aggressive aggro decks, like sligh, you quickly go into topdeck mode after the first couple of turns, and it hurts to see a land when you want another threat.
What do you think happens when you are allowed to play your spells as land? Two things. One, it’s now impossible to get mana screwed or flooded. And two, once you hit the top of your curve, you won’t have to worry about drawing a land.
As I said, the idea behind the deck is to get to the top of your mana curve and lay down the beats. The mana curve ends at 4 in this case. After laying down your 4th land you are free to just drop a biggie every turn.
What does control do? It stalls the game out while slowly gaining an advantage until they can win, usually with just one creature. The contents of a control deck and a control sideboard strongly depend on what other decks are around. So how, you might ask, could the rules of Mo’land help here when Control decks are least effected by the randomness of lands?
I couldn't figure it out myself, one of my friends built a control deck for Mo’land and it became quickly obvious. There are no dead cards in Mo’land. I was playing weenie and found that the Control deck could lay down Night of Soul’s Betrayal, and use Duress as land because it’s obvious I’m not going to have many spells to discard. Then I switch over to Combo and he would use the Night of Soul’s Betrayal as a land and play the Duress. Control can be very versatile in this fashion, switching from one strategy to the other depending on the deck they play against.
You have lots of options with this deck. Against aggro you can play Mortify, Faith's Fetters, and Duress as lands and throw down Wrath, Culling Sun and Wing Shards to stop the assault. Against you can switch right back and do the exact opposite, playing your spot removal and discard instead of your mass removal. This is the advantage control decks give you.
Combo aims to utilize one or two specific cards to get a certain effect that will hopefully win them the game. Mo’land helps out this strategy in two ways: First of all, it keeps you from getting Mana screwed or mana flooded. Secondly, instead of putting lands in the deck you get to put cards that make the deck more consistent. Instead of lands, you could now play a slew of Transmute cards to search for your combo pieces, and if you happen to draw the combo piece, you can play the Transmute card as a land. So it works out both ways.
This deck is pretty much a combination of Twiddle Desire and Heartbeat Desire. Depending on what you have in your hand, you figure out what you need to play as lands and what you need to keep. One of the cool things about this deck is Cunning Wish. You have no sideboard, but to play lands you have to remove cards in your hand from the game, so you can play Early Harvest as a land and then fetch it with Cunning Wish later. The other fun card in this deck is Fact or Fiction. Do you realize how broken Fact or Fiction is in this format? You never draw a land in the 5 cards you reveal with Fact or Fiction, so you have many more options than usual.
There are many more deck types other than Aggro, Control, and Combo. But the places where those decks get stronger are pretty much related to one of the three I previewed up there.
So I've told you the basic rules and some strategies for deckbuilding, now what? Now its your turn to go out and have fun with this varient. Next time you find yourself looking through your collection, throw a deck together and challenge a friend to Mo'land.
By DarkRitual on March 7th, 2006 · Filed in Variant Formats · Comments not available just now