MTGS Mini is the format that goes up on Friday night/early Saturday. MTGS Mini is a far more easygoing format. So sit back and relax while we relax... our standards. If this isn't your thing, take a break and we'll see you on Sunday night with Cranial Insertion!
What is Casual?
Hello. I'm Charlie, and I'm here to talk about Casual. But not the type of Casual most people think about. When you click into the Casual forums, you see decklists loaded with dual lands, expensive cards, and sometimes even multiples of a card on the T1 restricted list.
But that isn’t what Casual is to me. Casual to me is not playing without a restricted list, but playing with a larger restricted list. Casual is waking up one day, pulling out the unsorted contents of your entire card collection, and throwing together a sixty-card monstrosity. The kind of deck that is :symw::symb: because you have some Guildpact and runs 1 Seize the Soul because you have one.
Casual is the game as Richard Garfield originally meant it to be played: There might be one of a power card floating around, but that’s it. That was the rationale for printing cards like Black Lotus. This rational is now scoffed at, but really that’s all Casual is. It is a Limited environment without playing Limited. But it’s also an environment that doesn’t get respect.
What is Casual?
Yes, amazing as it sounds, I’m not just here to rant. I’m writing this because of the aforementioned lack of respect and support. You can’t really get deck help for the format, and no matter where you go it seems it is almost a lost format, as if nobody recognizes it. This is NOT because of a lack of players for this format. This is, of course, because the standard MTGSalvation user is experienced. Yes, to you players who go to PTQs or Regionals or some such events, you may believe that there are “N00bs” on MTGSalvation. But in truth, there are almost no true newbies on MTGSalvation. This is because the only players who find Salvation are those who are addicted enough to get online for it, instead of just playing it.
Getting back to my point, the main problem is the lack of deck help. While it may seem that you can’t improve a deck made out some random number of cards from random sets, without actually seeing the cards, it is possible. You just need to know the basics, which leads me onto the main event.
How can I improve my Casual deck?
Improving a Casual deck is all about utilizing your resources and taking advantage of the format. One of the first things you have to do is up the mana cost of each spell in your deck. Casual plays a little like Sealed in this regard, in that spells can be much slower. However, unlike Sealed you must prepare yourself for more focused decks than yours. Many Aggro decks like White Weenie can be made even with extremely limited resources, so one of the most important things is to have a good supply of walls. Anything you can get your hands on, from Carven Caryatid to Benevolent Ancestor to Drift of Phantasms, use any large walls you can get your hands on. A slow deck with walls like those dominates many casual games, as do cards that require you to metagame around them like Web of Inertia. Any cards like these will maul unfocused decks, so put things like those in as much as possible.
One of the next things you have to prepare for is to accept uneven circumstances. In Casual, one person might be playing using a deck using only cards they got from a couple Booster Packs, while another more experienced person might be packing a (admittedly budget) Elf deck. If you know that you’re on the low end, pack cards to even things out like Rain of Embers or any Wrath variant you can find. Also bring any removal you can find, not only creature removal but artifact and enchantment removal as well (Non-basic lands will show up rarely or never, so don’t bother with land removal or cards like Blood Moon). Assume that each of your opponent’s cards will be better than yours, so a card-for-card trade will always be fantastic. Remember, just because you don’t have as many cards as the other person doesn’t mean you’re doomed to lose.
Use bombs, but sparingly. A good Casual deck will include a couple bombs, but mainly should be as consistent and defensive as possible. A Casual deck should have a way to deal with any threat at all, because decks will be extremely unpredictable. If you have any Faith’s Fetters or any of the ”destroy target permanent" type cards, Casual is the place to use them. Flyers and artifact creatures are a must-include in any deck as well, because Fear and Flying can dominate a stalled game, which happens quite often in Casual. Of course, this means that you should play cards with Fear and Flyers yourself, hopefully catching an opponent unawares.
Also, remember to re-think each card. A card that you immediately dismiss as unplayable in most Constructed formats can turn out to be the bomb in Casual. Almost every rare is playable somewhere in Casual. If you think some random rare is unplayable, it is only because you put it in the wrong deck. Try, try and try again to put it in, because when it works in the right deck, that junky rare will positively win games by itself. Including Nephilim.
Next, start thinking about putting 4-ofs into your deck whenever you can. Then spit on the idea and dismiss it out of hand. In Casual, threat diversity is the bomb. Not because of cards like Cranial Extraction, but to try to catch your opponent off guard. Since Casual playgroups tend to be more limited then non-Casual playgroups (for obvious reasons), a common tactic is to put in a card to stop the certain deck you have problems against. For example, they might say “Colin played this deck with land destruction, so I’ll put in that Crucible of Worlds/Life from the Loam I have.”. If your deck is filled with lots of land destruction and nothing else, those cards can wreck you. But if you play an unfocused deck, they have nothing to defend against except for straight goodness. That’s right, I’m advocating unfocused decks. It doesn’t sound good, but in the end it can make your deck difficult to combat and nearly impossible to beat.
Most people reading this have probably never played true Casual before. They are the typical MTGSalvation user, stuck between the Casual and Competitive levels. Sometime when you’re feeling bored, I invite all of you players: Take an hour, put together a Casual deck, and try playing a few games with it. It feels great knowing you made a deck, and knowing you can make one with whatever materials you have on hand. Even just the act of finishing the deck and shuffling it for the first time gives a sense of excitement. If you have a large collection of cards, try building a deck daily, weekly, or monthly, until you run out of cards. Invite your friends to do the same. Try playing the original form of Magic, the simple form of the Magic, the form of Magic where you sit on your floor and just sift through cards trying to find a nice burn card.