My wife, Kat, does not entirely get why I like Magic. There are way too many rules for her, some of which she can’t or refuses to make sense of (“Why am I attacking you? Why wouldn’t I just attack your creatures? My creatures are stronger.”). She’s also not super into summoning sentient creatures to fight for her amusement.
But sometimes, she humors me and plays with me anyways. We play by what is known as “Kat Rules”.
This is a story of “Kat Rules” Magic.
My dad, who is awesome, bought me a couple of packs of Kaladesh as part of my birthday present this year. I really wanted to open these packs, because not opening them felt akin to not opening your birthday presents, which is a terrible feeling. But I didn’t want to open them without using them to play an actual game of some kind.
So Kat and I played a Pack War. For those unfamiliar, Pack Wars is a format in which each player opens a booster pack, shuffles 3 of each type of basic land in with the cards from the booster pack, and then uses those cards as their deck. Pack Wars is great fun, because you never know what you’re going to draw, and you get to use a bunch of cards that otherwise wouldn’t see play, even in normal Draft. The very best part is waiting for your Rare to show up, hoping that your pack has a Planeswalker or something equally ridiculous.
Combine the uncertainty of a Pack War with the uncertainty of “Kat Rules” Magic, and, well, then you’ve got a stew going.
I drew my opening hand and saw my Rare, a Master Trinketeer, along with the mana required to cast it. I felt pretty good, as the Trinketeer is a solid creature and can create an army over time.
But, my Trinketeer was living in a world governed by different physical laws than regular Magic. My Trinketeer had to dodge a Metalspinner’s Puzzleknot that my wife threw at his head (Kat made the argument that it was her Puzzleknot, and that’s what she wanted to use it for. We rolled a die to see if the Trinketeer was able to dodge the assault, thankfully he did.). My Trinketeer was able to create a last Servo before getting destroyed by the Metal Gear Death Hulk, but was apparently so stunned by the Hulk that his last Servo was defective, and actually couldn’t do any damage.
In the meantime, Kat’s Narnam Cobra was threatening to kill me, as the two of us still hadn’t come to a satisfactory agreement on whether we, as players, were creatures or not. I kept bargaining my way out of actually dying to the Cobra, instead taking 3 damage instead of 2 whenever it hit me with Deathtouch.
I had finally come up with a way to stall both the Cobra and the Death Hulk, thanks to my trusty Accomplished Automaton, but when I went to block the Death Hulk with both the Automaton and a Servo, Kat’s Thriving Ibex altruistically chose to sacrifice himself, stepping in the way of the Automaton, so only the Servo was left to block the Death Hulk. My Automaton was apparently not accomplished enough to anticipate this, and so down went the goat instead of the Gearhulk.
I was able to summon a Foundry Screecher, who convincingly flew over the Metal Gear Death Hulk, even though the Death Hulk is very tall and “should have been able to reach him”. And I was able to chip in for about 6 points of damage, but it wasn’t enough, as Kat was able to make a Haste-y attacker and stop me before I could take her down with my Engineered Might.
If it sounds like I was mostly the Abbott to Kat’s Costello in this game of improvisational Magic, it’s because I was, but don’t let that fool you. I loved arguing about why and how an Ibex was “thriving”, and I loved the look on Kat’s face when she saved her cute little Salivating Gremlins from the graveyard.
But when Kat got that same feeling of “Man, this card is the bomb!” that all of us would get if we got to blow something up with a Noxious Gearhulk, that moment was my actual favorite of the game.
Lots of us play Magic for lots of different reasons, myself included. But sometimes, I play just to see what sorts of crazy things my wife will think of when she plays. And it is always fun, and I am never disappointed. For those of you who are married, open to bendy rules, and looking for a new format, I highly recommend “Kat Rules” Pack Wars.