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The Return of Ante

Have you ever played for ante? It's certainly a good way to get the adrenaline going. If your eighth card is a Dark Ritual, you're sitting pretty, but if it's your Time Twister, you better have nerves of steel or you've as good as lost it.

Originally, ante was a clever ploy by the game's developers to encourage people to buy more cards. After all, that's the way it worked with marbles back in the schoolyard days: the kids who were bad at it had to keep buying more to replenish their losses.

But Magic didn't need ante. The game itself creates an arms race that rivals the Cold War. Start off buying a few boosters with friends to try out this game you've heard so much about and end up buying half a dozen boxes of each set to keep up with your (by now ex-) friends' arsenals. It's madness, I tell you, madness!

After a while, ante was done away with, because it conflicted with the gambling laws in some countries. That's not as ridiculous as it seems, if you consider that luck plays a large part in the game and that some of those bits of cardboard represent a substantial amount of money.

Ante was fun, though, so it is still played in various variants. My personal favorite is "Ante for Wimps". It restricts decks to only commons with a maximum of X uncommons, where X is agreed upon beforehand. The second restriction is the Rule of Five, which means you can only play a card if you have at least five copies of it. That way, even if you lose a nice card, it won't kill your favorite deck.

As an exception to the previous rules, you are allowed to play up to two ante cards in a deck. If they end up owned by your opponent or in the ante, you're allowed to exchange them for the top card of your library. Ante cards can't be tutored for. In the end, whoever loses the game signs the card he or she lost in the ante and the winner can use it as a nice little trophy. It's a good way to get some use out of all those spare commons.

That will probably sound boring to some, so here's another variant, called "Support your Local Magic Shop". The idea is that you both chip in to buy a few boosters and instead of putting up a card from your deck for ante, shuffle the cards in the boosters, without looking at them and reveal the top three cards. If all of those cards are common, reveal an additional three cards until you have at least one uncommon or rare in the revealed pile. The revealed pile is the ante.

If even that sounds boring to you, there's always "Ante for the Brave and Stupid". Normal ante rules apply, but instead of using one card for ante, use three. No cards under $5 are allowed in your deck, so if you want to play Disenchants, they had better be foil or beta and signed by the artist. Additionally, conceding a game is not allowed.

In that format, the decks to watch out for are the ones that can gain control fast, and use token copies of ante cards like Timmerian Fiends, Tempest Efreet or Bronze Tablet to steal all your cards. In that case, it's always good to have Demonic Consultation in your deck, so you can consult for a card you don't have, removing your whole library from the game to safety.

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The Complete Encyclopedia of Magic the Gathering

For the first time ever, all the existing Magic the Gathering cards are recorded in a single 720 page book. With over 7,200 card pictures, The Complete Encyclopedia of Magic the Gathering is a must for any collector, trader and art-admirer.


Onslaught continues the story of Kamahl, who struggles to cope with what it means to be a druid. At the same time, he has to help his sister, Jeska, who has been transformed into Phage, a being that can kill with a mere touch. At the same time Ixidor, an illusionist with the ability to shape reality is out to kill Phage for killing his one true love. Who will find her first?

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