Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Brian Weissman, Card Advantage, and Commander

Mana Drain

If you've never heard of Brian Weissman, he's the guy I think of when I think of the concept of Card Advantage in Magic.

He's the guy I think of when I think of, "The Deck."

There's lots of Magic theory out there. Check out my previous post about stuff like Card Advantage, Tempo, Time Walks, and more. And while reading out Magic theory is great, it's also academic.

But let's say you want to see the concept of Card Advantage in Magic in action. That's where Brian Weissman comes in.

I'm going to let you in on a secret.

Ongoing Investigation

Brian Weissman has a YouTube channel. And Brian Weissman plays Commander.

There's a small group of you out there that read those two sentences and just fell off the chair. If you are at all into what makes the game of Magic really work, you are in for a treat.

As he plays, Brian talks through his thought process about why he is doing the things he is doing during the game. Why he is casting a certain spell. Why he is leaving mana open.

His commentary is unlike any other I've listened to.

We get to listen to the thought process of amazing player, 20+ years in the making. You'll hear phrases like, "I don't care about that," when his opponent plays a card. These are cards that many of us would imagine represent a crushing advantage, where he dismisses them out of hand.

Fact or Fiction

If you watch a few games, you are going to see what is at the heart of Card Advantage in Magic. A turn where his opponent is out of cards, has very little on the board, and where Brian is sitting on several counterspells. The game is over, even if it isn't officially over yet.

This is the exact same scenario that "The Deck" would create. It is the epitome of the control deck archetype in a game of Magic, applied to Commander. Even if you hate control, you need to watch him talk these games through. It will change the way you commit resources into a control deck.

I've watched a dozen or more games so far, and all of them have had their interesting moments. But, if you want a good starter example, check out this Azami vs. Amazi match-up.

Brian Weissman is an amazing player, and has wonderful insights on how to evaluate the game using Card Advantage and control. The fact that he is recording games in the Commander format for us to watch is too good to pass up. These videos are criminally underwatched. Take a look and pause the video at each step. Decide what you would do in that situation and see if he does the same thing. I bet you'll be surprised.