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  • Axis of Allies: My problem with Allies in Magic: The Gathering

Axis of Allies: My problem with Allies in Magic: The Gathering

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The Allies mechanic in Magic: The Gathering seemed like a boon for me, since creatures of the similar type could team together and create special ability effects. Too bad in practice that rule is terrible.

It's terrible because in the Zendikar block of cards Ally decks experience the worst of multicolour decks - because if you can't get a decent mana base you're screwed even if you do get an Ally ability triggered on your Highland Berserker, he'll be dead before you can cast another one to follow on. Out of all the decks I've played, the Ally deck mechanic has been even worse than my two Kamigawa decks I have from back in the day. There, I said it. Kamigawa as a block is less broken than the Allies mechanic - because if you don't have block exclusive abilities like Ninjutsu to worry about - then what's the problem with just using a straight out Kamigawa deck in a casual game? I've never had problems with the Kamigawa decks I have, good LORD - why is the Allies ability so broken?

No matter how much I tweaked my Zendikar Allies deck, it just couldn't win a victory. To use an Australian analogy that doesn't even involve Mad Max for you to understand the context, it's like the New South Wales team in the past three State of Origin NRL series.

Other decks in the Zendikar block like Kor and Vampire decks I've experienced fare much better. With a well built mana base and a good set of creatures that are both defensive and offensive with things like the much better designed Artifact Equipment mechanic and the Landfall mechanic, you can't go far wrong with either of these sorts of decks if you do what Queensland does every year at Origin time, good selection of players and good defense base as well as offensive. Each player in the team is there for a reason, not one of them should be weak or just there to throw away. Kor and Vampires are so far some of my favourite decks in the whole of the Magic game - you can identify what they are - they stand out and are intimidating. When you look at a Kor or a Vampires deck in Magic, you know they mean business just by looking at 'em, just like the Queensland Origin team every year.

The Allies are more like the mess of players New South Wales selects every year, and even the best coach can't score a win if the players don't fit well together and they don't know what they're doing. The Allies just feel like they don't belong together - even decks which attack with non-Ally or similar special abilities do better in combat against them because by the time you get an Ally on the field, they're just smacked down and you can't get up again because your mana defense base is all broken up into two separate teams when really it should be working as a whole. Kamigawa on the other hand did multicolour decks really, really well because it felt like the two colours for each deck could really belong together.

Don't get me started on the mess that is being a Blue colour Planeswalker - I tried to go down that road long ago and failed miserably because the decks I play against are both offensive and defensive. Also, I didn't even bother getting a Blue/Green Allies deck because I knew from playing a Green/Red deck, formerly a surefire Alastatian-like attack hound force when I was playing Kamigawa in casual games, Allies just bumble along getting knocked about before they can even trigger their abilities. The summoning sickness is what gets them, they've lost the fight before they even get stuck in! While the Allies are bumbling around with summoning sickness, a much more powerful Caravan Hurda with Trusty Machete equipped not only kills the puny Highland Berserker while it has summoning sickness, but it gains even more life while doing so!

Allies in Magic no longer seemed like the hope they were when I picked up the game again this year. They're like the New South Wales Origin team's repeated failures to launch any sign of victory - throwing up the while flag before the fighting even got good. Sure you may score one goal against the other team, but they're slaughtering you in points anyway.

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