My multiplayer reviews are fairly straightforward: I look for cards that are better in multiplayer games than they would be in standard 1v1 games. Tibalt, Rakish Instigator is exactly what I’m talking about. Against one opponent, he is preventing a player who may have no way to gain life, from gaining life. In multiplayer, you will almost certainly find at least one player who is looking to gain a ton of life. Tibalt shuts that down and is a much better card in multiplayer as a result. No, Tibalt isn’t good enough to make the list since I’m not spending mana on a spell that does only that. And don’t talk to me about a 1/1 Red Devil that only makes it easier to get Tibalt off the battlefield. Tibalt may get his moment, but it won’t be with this card.
This list isn't the best cards for multiplayer games; I'm looking at cards that get better because of multiplayer. Then I take what I think are the best cards from those cards and talk about them here. Like I said, straightforward!
A great way to really emphasize what I’m talking about is to show you the opposite. Aria of Flame, in the right deck, against one opponent might be okay. I suspect it is still garbage, but in some bizarre Storm style deck, maybe the counters go up fast enough. You give an opponent ten life, cast two instants and/or sorcery spells and deal three damage. Cast two more and you deal seven more. Once you have cast more than four of those spells, you are finally netting a gain.
However, we are talking about multiplayer games here. With three opponents you give up 30 life! You have to cast eight spells to be doing more damage than the life you gave. Very few decks are going to get to keep this enchantment in play long enough to make that happen and those decks that can, likely have a better card for this card slot. And yes, I understand that there is proliferate. There are even reasons to want your opponents to have a bigger life total at times. However, this card is worse in multiplayer formats than one v one. All right, now let’s get to the good stuff!
Ninjutsu and Swords of X and Y
These cards are all better in multiplayer formats. For them to work, you are looking for opponents that either can’t or won’t block. That is more likely to happen in multiplayer games. There are times when another player is working with you, so they will take the damage from your creature equipped with Sword of Sinew and Steel so you can destroy another player’s planeswalker and artifact. More often, there is an opponent who just has their defenses down, so you can swing in without worrying about losing your creature. With multiple opponents these opportunities happen all the time!
Given the push in Modern Horizons toward creature types, seeing a card that tries to slow down tribes makes sense. With multiple opponents in a multiplayer game, you are likely to find someone running a theme deck that is wreaking havoc. Whether it is a resurgence of slivers, the usual elves and goblins, a more esoteric tribe led by Morophon, the Boundless, theme decks are getting even more popular. Token strategies are also common and Plague Engineer can shut down a lot of the smaller token creatures (unless you are running Divine Visitation).
And when all else fails, remember that there are simply a ton of human creatures in Magic. Shrinking all of them kills many, and makes most others weak at best.
Seeing how Rotwidow Pack is better in multiplayer than one v. one is fairly obvious. Each opponent is losing life, not just one. The interesting part with this card is that it really relies on you having an ungodly number of spiders and/or mana. To force each opponent to lose five life you need three other spiders and the mana to use Rotwidow Pack. Given your meta, that may mean playing the Pack and activating it immediately. That’s 9 mana to go with those three other spiders. Now this is a Green deck, so that’s not too crazy, but it still requires plenty of setup.
I’d love to be able to activate this twice in a turn! All my opponents losing five life, then six life! That sort of damage makes Rotwidow Pack a target right away, which would be comical, given that you need 10 mana to do that, and plenty of creatures in the graveyard to threaten further activations.
Of course, all this changes if you suddenly find yourself with ten or more spiders!
With multiple opponents, the odds of you or a permanent you control being the target of a spell or ability don’t change. This doesn’t sound right at first thought, but when you realize that with more opponents there are more targets to choose from, in theory everything equals out.
The benefit here is that with multiple opponents, Unsettled Mariner acts as a deterrent. Why pay one extra to hit you, when they can just take out someone else’s annoying permanents? And for those of you who think this won’t really work, ask me how often do people pay the Propaganda tax in your games? Are players lining up to pay for Smothering Tithe? Just 1 mana often proves to be a deterrent that works far better than it should.
The fact that Unsettled Mariner is so cheap is another boon. If you cast it early enough in the game, the extra mana isn’t just a deterrent, it can be the difference in being able to target you at all!
I know this is a reprint that you aren’t playing with but hear me out. You are getting a creature that can deal a ton of damage to every creature on the board and every player in the game! Now, I know it is only a 1/1, so if you want to use it repeatedly, you are going to need to make it indestructible, or recur it, but what other card can do what this does?
Okay, all true but isn’t the idea of doing all that damage with those little red-eyed rodents just cool?
Nothing huh? Okayyyyyy, moving on!
Winds of Abandon
I really like Winds of Abandon, but I know I probably shouldn’t. For 6 mana you are getting a Wrath effect. That would be a little expensive for just a Wrath, since they are usually 5 mana. However here, you are exiling the creatures and that is worth the extra mana. Exiling avoids all the graveyard shenanigans that we see right now, so getting creatures truly gone is worth it! Now did I mention that this doesn’t hit your creatures? Winds of Abandon opens the path for you to really smash your opponents. Has your Boros deck been locked out by some solid defenses? Are your well-equipped White creatures unable to get through? Winds of Abandon gives you that turn to just swing with everything as hard as you can.
Giving your opponents all that mana is going to be an issue. You can’t think that giving a token player the ability to get ten basic lands from his deck isn’t going to haunt you on their next turn! Even adding three land to a player who already has eight is playing a dangerous game. There is a bright side here. Many opponents (I’m thinking of long-time players like me here), tend to run fewer basic lands than they should. I have all these shiny dual lands and lands that do more exciting things that just tap for one color of mana! Cards like Winds of Abandon could wipe out my defenses and get me one tapped land. The other thing to watch for are the number of cards your opponents have in hand. You are about to give them all the mana they need to cast whatever they have in their hand. However, if they are drawing off the top, you will likely get a couple more turns to make things happen!
In the end, using Winds of Abandon is really an opportunity to get one free shot at your opponents. You are going to really want to make this count if you are playing it!
Finally, we hit the multiplayer all-star for Modern Horizons! Forget the Entwine for a minute and consider this as a three-mana instant. Forcing each opponent to sacrifice a creature is big. For every player running token creatures, there is another who is looking at their commander alone on the battlefield, or their value engine creature, or the creature that can’t be targeted that they thought they wouldn’t have to worry about. Then you follow that up with exiling all cards from all of their graveyards! Those cards that got sacrificed are now exiled. No more messing with the graveyard. And this is an instant, so you can stop their efforts in mid-stride! This also allows you to flash in a flying blocker if you need it!
Most of the time you are going to be doing two of those three things. Gaining four life is cute but almost never as good as one of the other options. Now consider the Entwine and realize that for 6 mana you can get everything! I love the flexibility this offers and can’t wait to get it in my decks!