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6: Pursue an Obscure Strategy
Magic is a wonky game. Often, simpler stuff can win, but who knows?

Magic is a rock-paper-scissors, with varieties of each which quell each other differently. If there’s a really sharp and strong pair of scissors in the format, but there’s a certain rock that has its number, those scissors get counted out and brewers keep looking.

However, if no one feels they need that rock, and it becomes relatively scarce, then you might be able to use those scissors to slice through the meta-game (such as when Rally the Ancestors thrived despite Hallowed Moonlight being available).

It’s common for players to count a card out, calling it not Standard playable, and occasionally this is premature. Cards interact in many ways, and everyone can miss something. For instance, I’ve noticed several pros mention that they overlooked the mana filtering ability of Vizier of the Menagerie. This is a busted ability of a bomb mythic, but it gets forgotten because the creature also has another, flashier busted ability (green almost never gets to read its top card without revealing it). R&D endeavors to make cards that are easy to understand and remember, and the creative team uses card names, art, stories, and even flavor text to make them still more resonant. And, players with experience will recognize similar effects that come back year after year, such as fog, threaten or wrath. All of these techniques for packaging complexity enable R&D to ramp up the total complexity of the format without confusing and overwhelming everyone.

Magic sets don’t need to be complex in order to be fun. But, in the current era of card design, the level of complexity is very high, and the power level is as well. This creates an exciting tension: cards like The Gitrog Monster and Ramunap Excavator exhibit tremendous potential if a deck can be designed and calibrated to leverage their effects while also protecting them and also having a way to finish off the opponent. This is a really, really, really fun strategy and I highly recommend trying it; you’ll have a blast even when you lose.

The large number of factors that players can take into consideration while analyzing the positioning of a card within a format can lead to overconfidence! As players learn more shortcuts, ways to compare cards, historical performance of various archetypes, tales from the pit of how cards were developed, etc, they obviously are going to jump to conclusions sometimes. And, this feeling of intelligence is absolutely one of the great things about this game! But, when you’re talking to players about your brewing and they sound very confident, remember that they might still be wrong. If you want to brew, don’t discount how synergistic the game is. You may be able to go off the beaten path, and each set has combo pieces you can experiment with.

When I brew, opponents are usually curious to see what I’ve discovered. Sometimes after they beat me, they compliment the deck! Brewing does typically lead to losing, so be aware of what you’re getting yourself into, but there is absolutely still hope that you and your friends can come up with something all by yourselves that will wreak havoc! Even if your brew is very spicy and doesn’t use the more obvious or popular cards, it might still be good! In fact, most of the super-powered archetypes from the last few years have had something very weird about their strategy.