My self esteem is not based on my win/loss record or tournament results.

But, as a competitor, it once was. I tell you from experience that if you let winning rule your emotions, you can go from king to a nervous wreck in a day. The swings are brutal. It’s not a sustainable way to live.

So what is my self esteem based on?

Well, let me ask you this. At the end of a game of basketball, if I am sucking air, on my ass, sitting in a pool of my own sweat, how can I feel bad about losing? I gave it my EVERYTHING. I did everything in my power during the game. My effort could not have been higher.

The same is true for Magic. If I try my HARDEST to win, the winning itself isn't so important. It will come later.

The Quest to Attack for Over Nine Thousand

The Quest to Attack for Over Nine Thousand was NOT about winning… but winning was an important part of it. If I want to be a master of this game, it is important that I test the boundaries of what is possible. It is important that I discover the maximum parameters of this game—and BREAK them.

After all, if I can attack for over 9000, how hard can it be to attack for 20? Challenge accepted. Challenge completed!

(Yes, that is a 12,788 damage deathblow.)

The Quest to Attack for BILLIONS

Have you ever attacked for BILLIONS? Sure, I've played my fair share of infinite combos. But there is a difference between saying, “I could have attacked for a billion,” and actually doing it. There is something a little unsatisfying about declaring an arbitrarily large number while your opponent hurries up to concede. It doesn’t feel clean.

So I set out to actually, honestly, attack for BILLIONS. I wanted to see if it could be done. And I wanted to do it without an infinite combo.

PRIMAL SURGE

[deck]4 Temple Garden
4 Overgrown Tomb
4 Woodland Cemetary
2 Swamp
8 Forest
2 Gavony Township
4 Arbor Elf
4 Avacyn’s Pilgrim
4 Scorned Villager
4 Elvish Archdruid
4 Village-Bellringer
1 Wild Beastmaster
4 Gilded Lotus
1 Yew Spirit
1 Infinite Reflection
1 Akroma’s Memorial
4 Craterhoof Behemoth
3 Diabolic Revelation
1 Primal Surge[/deck]

We come out of the gates ramping, HARD!

[draft]Avacyn’s Pilgrim
Arbor Elf
Scorned Villager
Elvish Archduird
Gilded Lotus[/draft]

By the mid-game, we are often presented with an opportunity to kill with a [card]Craterhoof Behemoth[/card]. But why would we attack for 30 when we could hold out and attack for BILLIONS?

So we wait until we draw [card]Diabolic Revelation[/card].

We play a 9 mana, x=4 [card]Diabolic Revelation[/card], pulling out an [card]Infinite Reflection[/card], our last two [card]Diabolic Revelation[/card]s, and our [card]Primal Surge[/card].

And then it begins.

[draft]Primal Surge[/draft]

One card by one card, our entire deck is now in play.

[draft]Craterhoof Behemoth[/draft]

[card]Craterhoof Behemoth[/card] triggers go on the stack. Our men are HUGE.

[draft]Village Bell-Ringer[/draft]

Four untap triggers go on the stack. Our team has haste thanks to [card]Akroma's Memorial[/card]. Now seems like a good time to tap our extensive mana team four times.

[draft]Yew Spirit[/draft]

Now with a ludicrous amount of mana, we sink that into [card]Yew Spirit[/card]. I will not delve into the math here. But a lot is a lot.

[draft]Infinite Reflection
Wild Beastmaster[/draft]

And now for the Magic. Our WHOLE TEAM is now [card]Wild Beastmaster[/card]s. We turn them sideways, putting the Craterhoof pumped Beastmaster triggers on the stack. We allow our formerly [card]Yew Spirit[/card] now Beastmaster to resolve first. A lot is a lot is a lot.

So how much damage is this?

Rules Broken

Apparently, on Magic Online, 2,147,483,647 (2 billions, or 2^31 -1) is the biggest number. This is known as the Max Int. This is a bit of a let down, but I guess 2 billion will do. Two billion is a LOT. Mission Accomplished!

Use Your Imagination

Make mana, pull spells from your deck, put your deck into play. This is a recipe for doing whatever you want. So use your imagination. Want to attack with 20 [card]Thragtusk[/card]s?

(Easy!)

Want to go down in a blaze of Cats?

(This one was not easy, but worth it.)

Why not?

Seriously, do whatever you can imagine!

Want to attack for numbers so big that we don’t even have words for them?

Here are a couple community ideas that push the envelope even further.

Sideboarding

There is no sideboard! The whole point is to go for a personal record every game, so what’s the point of a sideboard?

Although, now that I’m thinking about it, I could attack for ALL of the damage game 1, go out in a blaze of Cats game 2, and attack with 20 [card]Thragtusk[/card]s game 3. A sideboard might actually be fun.

[deck]Main Deck:
4 Temple Garden
4 Overgrown Tomb
4 Woodland Cemetary
2 Swamp
8 Forest
2 Gavony Township
4 Arbor Elf
4 Avacyn’s Pilgrim
4 Scorned Villager
4 Elvish Archdruid
4 Village-Bellringer
1 Wild Beastmaster
4 Gilded Lotus
1 Yew Spirit
1 Infinite Reflection
1 Akroma’s Memorial
4 Craterhoof Behemoth
3 Diabolic Revelation
1 Primal Surge
Sideboard
1 Thragtusk
1 Sanctuary Cat
1 Worldfire
3 Oblivion Ring
1 Sudden Disappearance
4 Axebane Guardian
2 Gavony Township
1 Griselbrand
1 Avacyn, Angel of Hope[/deck]

Training With a Weight Vest

So, what is the point of all this? For me, there is a lot of value here. When training for athletics, it is common to create and practice in situations that are actually more difficult than game situations. For example, sometimes people do drills with an extra 20 pounds on them. This is good training. If an athlete can perform an action MORE difficult than what happens in a game, imagine his confidence when he gets into the game and it’s actually easier than his practice?

That is what I am doing here. Attacking for billions is NOT EASY. It is harder than attacking for 20. It is goofy, but it requires a lot of mental energy to figure out how to pull it off. The end result is not really that I am attacking for billions. The end result is that I go back to attacking for 20—with EXTREME CONFIDENCE.

There might have been a lot of “losing” along the way, but this training is important to my long-term winning, so I will feel good regardless.

Taking the Weight Vest Off

Primal Surge IS competitive. I was pulling off kills regularly, despite playing a dozen mediocre, unnecessary cards. So if we trim the fat, there is a real deck here.

Mana guys plus [card]Gavony Township[/card] already makes for a winning strategy, and we don’t need to play anything extra to insta-kill with [card]Primal Surge[/card]. We could simply attack with a Township-fueled team of mana dorks for the kill without having to jump through any hoops.

I don’t have a competitive list right now, mostly because Gatecrash is here to shake things up. But I will tell you that it IS possible—but only if someone wants it bad enough! It could be you!

<3 Travis

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Questions! Comments! Think there’s something I forgot?

P.S.: For those of you interested in the video of the billion-power Pack Rat, here it is!