Ever wanted to
challenge yourself to a Magic Duel? Here’s how! All you need is a deck
(either a deck you use all the time or a sealed deck), the rules below,
and a slightly different way of approaching the game. Solitaire Magic
won’t improve your timing skills or the menacing glare that
intimidates opponents. It will, however, improve your card memory
skills, including your ability to estimate how likely you are to draw a
card based on how many cards you’ve seen.
Setting up the Table
Take your deck,
shuffle, and deal out seven traditional solitaire stacks – the first
has one card, the second two, and so on. As long as a stack contains any
cards, the top one is always turned face up. The remaining cards are you
deck. You start with no hand and an empty graveyard. There are no life
totals, so don’t worry about that. The goal of the game is to
eliminate all the cards in these seven stacks before cycling through
your deck three times.
Lands must be moved
up above the stacks, where the aces would go in standard solitaire. Each
different land type is placed in its own pile. If more than one copy of
a card is ever face up or in your hand, move it to a stack with that
card on top. In other words, if two stacks both have Hurloon
Minotaurs on top, you must move one Minotaur on top of the
The Seven Stack (And How to Get Rid of Them)
The cards on top of
each stack have many uses. If the card is a permanent, it’s considered
in play, unless it’s a local enchantment. If there’s more than one
card face up on a stack (which cold happen if you’ve drawn multiple
copies of a card), all those cards are in play. For the purposes of card
text, you don’t control any of these cards. However, you may play
these cards by paying their cost as described below.
A card on top of a
stack may be targeted as if it were in play, in a player’s hand, or
even as if it were being cast. For example, AEther
Flash is on top of a stack, and you’d like to get rid of
it. You could play Disenchant,
Sink, or Duress
– from your hand or from another stack. Because those cards could
Flash either in play, while being cast, or in hand, you could
use any of them to remove it from the stack.
Creatures on the
stacks can also be destroyed in combat. In Solitaire Magic, attacks are
declared against stack, not a player. The Magic creature-combat rules
apply. Your creature is considered to be attacking, and all the
creatures in the pile are considered to be blocking. Since there are no
turns, creatures do not suffer from summoning sickness. Remember, this
will usually just be one creature – unless you’re facing a stack of
identical creatures like the Hurloon
Sacrifice Your Lands
Instead of playing
lands and tapping then for mana, you sacrifice lands to generate mana
(and the sacrificed lands go from the top row to the graveyard). In
order to play a card or ability, you must sacrifice a land that produces
at least one colored mana of the card you’re playing. All other costs
are ignored. If a source provides more then one mana, the extra is lost.
For instance, sacrificing a swamp to play Dark
Ritual will only allow you to play one spell or ability
requiring at least B. if a spell or ability has X in its cost, X is 1,
plus 1 for each additional land you sacrifice or mana source you play.
Three Trips through the Library
As in normal Magic,
you draw cards from your library. But in Solitaire, you draw three at a
time and look only at the top one. Also, you don’t lose the first time
you’ve drawn all your cards. Instead, you can go through the deck
three before you lose. Place the cards you’ve gone through into a
discard pile. When your library is empty, the discard pile becomes the
library (unless you’ve gone through the library three times already).
Library-searching effects can still be played. Harrow, for example,
would allow you to search your library for two basic lands and put them
into play. In this case, the lands would go directly into the
appropriate land stacks above the seven stacks.
One Permanent at a Time
You can never
control more than one permanent, except for local enchantments. Play
that permanent below your seven stacks. Whenever you use a permanent’s
ability – or attack with it if it’s a creature – you sacrifice it
when the action is completed. You may use abilities that play as fast
effects multiple times before sacrificing the permanent, such as Knight
of Dusk’s “BB: Destroy target creature blocking Knight
of Dusk.” You can play a local enchantment on that
permanent (or several enchantments), and any enchantments get sacrificed
when the creature does.
Your Hand – A Precious Resource
Of the three cards
you draw at one time, only the top card is revealed, and that card is
considered your hand. If your hand matches a card on top of a stack, it
must be moved to that stack.
If you have to
discard your hand (if you play Apocalypse, for example), place the top
card from your hand in the discard pile. If an effect directs you to
draw, take the top card from your library and make it the top card of
your hand. Effects that return cards to your hand put those cards on top
of your hand in any order you chose. Capsize,
for instance, can move a permanent from the top of a pile to the top of
your hand. Evacuation, likewise, would put all face-up creatures –
plus your permanent if it’s a creature – on top of your hand in any
order you choose.
Aim for the Graveyard
This works the same
as the Magic graveyard. Al destroyed cards are placed in the graveyard,
including lands sacrificed to pay for spells and abilities. Remember,
your goal is to eliminate the seven stacks, so you want to put a lot of
cards in the graveyard.
The Rest of the Rules
Because there are
no turns, anything that happens at the beginning or end of any phase is
ignored. Abilities that are played during a phase can be used at any
time. As always, one you use an ability, the permanent is sacrificed.
Since there are no life totals, damage is of no consequence to you,
though it still gets rid of creatures. If an ability requires you to pay
life, you must discard a card from your library for each life you wish
Some Helpful Hints
This variant was
taken from Duelist Issue 34. It was written by Michael Mikaelian.