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Duelist #4: Origin Stories

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According to Mr. Pling

by Scott Hungerford

On any given day, the Wizards hear quite a few strange stories. I dispatched my "agents" to investigate a few of these bizarre tales—some of the results will remain, of course, classified.


Tokens of My Affection

Reports of people using weird objects as counters and tokens are common. My personal favorite is the player who uses spent .357 shells as blood counters in Jyhad.

"My Tremere does three damage to your Craw Wurm."

The Ring of Ma'rûf from Arabian Nights allows you to bring any card into your hand from outside the game. A player can certainly bring a Toreador Jiisticar or even a Four of Diamonds into his hand with a Ring of Ma'rûf—he can even get them into the graveyard by a variety of means—but is there any legal way to get these strange cards into play?

"Around the television aerial, off the sofa, over the pizza box, nothing but net."

Some players still use Chaos Orbs and Falling Stars, and many show an unsettling mastery of nailing cards that offend them. I have seen airborne Chaos Orbs that defy the laws of gravity and physics; I have seen well-flipped Falling Stars turn arpimd a runaway slaughter and secure a decisive victory. I have even seen secret government documentation that space aliens from Alpha Centauri are waiting to kidnap the world's top twenty Magic players at GenCon and force them to become combat pilots, just like in The Last Starfighter. No matter how weird things get, though, you cannot:

  1. Cover any part of the playing field with plastic wrap.
  2. Cover your cards with card protectors, pieces of stained glass, or hundreds of little lead figures.
  3. Use large encyclopedias, animals, or people as counters. (Using your little brother as a counter just isn't legal.)
  4. Shred your Chaos Orb into little pieces and let the fragments drift across your opponent's side of the playing field. (The Chaos Orb becomes an invalid card, or at the very least can safely be considered marked and cannot be legally used in play.)
  5. Tape or staple cards to the walls, ceiling, underside of the table, or yourself.
  6. Hide your cards underneath your opponent's cards.
  7. Coat your Chaos Orb with Stickum(tm) so you can nail the Pearled Unicorn your roommate stapled to the dorm room ceiling.
  8. Nail your opponent in the eye or any other vital organ with a well-thrown card. Just because you're losing doesn't mean you have to blind or cripple your opponent—it's just poor sportsmanship.

Preliminary reports have also confirmed that one employee at Wizards of the Coast owns a huge Chaos Orb, roughly the size of a box of breakfast cereal. Now wouldn't that be nifty to fling at your opponent?

The Frozen Shade from Heck

In an Emperor's game, a 32/33 Frozen Shade was Berserked to become a 64/33 Frozen Shade, then was Forked and enchanted a hideous number of times by the General and his Lieutenants, making it a 19,000+/33 Frozen Shade. Unfortunately, the opponent blocked this monstrosity with a Wall of Shadows from Legends—all damage the Wall of Shadows receives from creatures is reduced to zero....

Ironman Magic

I have personally taken part in this bizarre variant of Magic. In Ironman Magic, when a card is destroyed, it is really destroyed: the offending card can be ripped up, flushed, burned, dunked in tomato juice, or downed in a two-liter of generic diet grapefruit soda. This game was meant to be played in front of a large crowd, with only Alpha and Beta cards allowed, but I have also played it with everyday common cards and simple decks. Mutual consent must be established for who gets to destroy which cards, but the following rule generally applies: the player responsible for a card going to the graveyard gets first say on who gets to destroy the card in question. If you Disenchant your opponent's Mox Sapphire, you get to decide whether you want to flush both the Disenchant and the Mox. Sometimes it's better to force your opponent to tear up his own Mox, just to watch the tears bead up in his eyes.

The game is best played with tournament legal decks, and both players should start with forty life points each. Starting with this much life guarantees that both players will go through a large share of their libraries before the game comes to a close. The sole survivor from my last game is a ketchup-stained, stapler-hashed, black-handlebar-mustached Lord of the Pit.

Complete Trading Mastery

My operatives recently verified that someone had successfully traded a couple of Revised starter decks into a full set of Legends. The person did it in just a few months, without ever spending a cent of his own money. How did he do it? He contacted every game, hobby, and toy store in his area and traded fairly with everyone he could. When his hometown resources were exhausted, he checked the Yellow Pages at his local library and sent fliers to every game store in the region.

"Can I Death Ward Myself?"

A rather strange individual called the WotC customer service line right after Halloween, asking about spells that would protect him. After a few minutes of convoluted conversation, the confused customer service representative finally figured out that he wasn't asking about Magic: The Gathering—he wanted a magical incantation that would protect him in real life. Once it was explained that WotC could only help him with questions about its card, roleplaying, and board games, not about magic, voodoo, or matters of the occult, he quietly hung up....

Also from WotC's customer service files: a young child once called up and asked what the cover of Spider-Man #238 looked like. When he couldn't get an answer to the question, the child began crying hysterically.

Paint Thinner Blues

An avid player of Magic suffered through the Chicago floods with devastating losses. His basement flooded and most of his cards were either soaked or floating. Although it's possible to iron out cards and save a few against the trauma of water damage, a can of turpentine was also mixed in with the water in his basement. The turpentine didn't combine well with all thirty of the Black Lotuses he had painstakingly traded for over the course of the previous six months.

Strange Sightings

I've heard stories that Magic cards have been seen for sale at the occasional 24-hour restaurant, and even across the counter at a small gas station in California. There are even rumors of Fallen Empires booster packs being sold at a Victoria's Secret.



Wizard's Chess, by Tom Hazel
Magic in the Classroom, by Susan Mohn
According to Mr. Pling, compiled by Scott Hungerford
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