Cowboy Magic, Part II

In my first post here, I looked at the touched on some of the Similarities between Magic The Gathering, and the Dallas Cowboys. I also "profiled" Jason Garrett, Rob Ryan, Stephen and Jerry Jones. This hopefully gives those that Play MTG, and even if you don't, a better understanding of the game.

Now I want to look at Roster Construction vs Deck Construction as I said I would in the last post. This may be a little more "advanced" but I will try and keep things simple for those that aren't into MTG. with that Said, "To the jump!"

First off lets look at the "Deck requirements" to play competitive Magic:

Minimum of 60 cards(can be more, but can be no less than 60)

Other than Basic Lands(this is your "mana base" think of it as a "salary cap") you are allowed only 4 of any card bearing the same english name.

Other than that you are free to build any deck you wish, so long as you can get the cards

Note: Certain cards are only allowed in certain "formats" As a card "ages" it rotates out and into "older formats". Depending on the "format" you want to play, you are limited to a "pool" of cards for that format. However, a detailed explanation is beyond to scope of this, so I won't go into it. For a more Detailed explanation, feel free to look at the Magic Website for more info.

Now the object of Magic is to defeat your opponent. There are many ways to do so. The general way is to reduce your opponents life total from 20 life to 0. Another way is to eliminate your Opponents "library"(the deck from which you draw cards from) to 0, as one rule is that if you have to draw a card and are unable to do so you lose the game. There are also many cards that if certain conditions are met, you win the game.

Aggro type- This type of Deck hits fast and Hard seeking to bring your opponent from 20 life to 0 as fast as possible. This deck while very fast does have the issue in that it can "run out of gas". If you can weather the Early assault, the Aggro deck has issues "finishing". To compare that to an NFL team, look at the Green bay Packers and the New Orleans Saints both are dominated by great Offenses, but struggle defensively.

Control Deck- This type of Deck seeks to, as the name implies, "control the game" They tend to have little offense, but can usually "answer" any threats. The issue with this deck is just that they tend to "start slowly" so if you can overwhelm them early on, you can beat the deck before it is "set up". For a comparison, look to the New york Jets, and the Baltimore Ravens. Both Emphasize great defenses with a strong running game, but lack a strong passing game, so they end up struggling to score a bunch of points.

Aggro-Control: This type is a "mix" of both previous types. It has elements of both Aggro and Control and can play Either way. The main issue is that it lacks the "consistency" of a pure Aggro or pure Control. So you may get not enough of either Aggro/Control to effectively beat a "purer" version. Versions of this in the NFL include the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants. Both have strong passing games, and can wreak havoc defensively, but struggle with consistency.

"Combo": This deck relies on one or two cards that can create an "impossible situation", usually some sort of repeating effect that either deals a large amount of damage, or prevents your opponent from dealing Damage, for your opponent. This type is not Applicable to the NFL, so I won't go into detail on this type.

What do think Dallas is trying to Build? I think Dallas is going for an "aggro-control" style of play. This is one reason why I think Dallas has struggled in recent years with JG. I do want to point out that I think an Aggro-control strategy is a more viable strategy in the NFL as opposed to "Magic". The Reason is in the differences. In Magic you have much more limits in choosing whether to play Offense or Defense as there are few cards that are capable of playing both. In Football you are playing both, no matter what. In Football specialization is required. You aren't going to have your Defensive players playing on offense and/or vice versa. Also you tend to have better "depth" in Football vs Magic. which allows for more overall consistency which is the main weakness of the Aggro-control strategy. Also in Magic Tournament play you have to win 2 of three to advance. In the NFL it is a "one shot" affair. You win once and move on. This also helps to "negate" some of the inconsistencies of the Aggro-control strategy.

Now one of the key components to deck building is called "Card Synergy" What is this you ask? Card Synergy is when two or more cards work in concert to create an effect. This effect may seem small, but if all the cards in your "deck" work like this, the Effect adds up. Now Card Synergy is similar to "card Combos" and in fact "combo's are merely Synergy at its extreme end. Now as an example of this, lets Look at a particular Deck, My "Zombie" deck:

Undying Zombies.dec


4x Gravecrawler
4x Butcher Ghoul
4x Blood Artist
4x Cemetary Reaper
4x Geralf's Messenger


4x Bone Splinters
4x Geth's Verdict
3x Altar's Reap
3x Sign in Blood
2x Killing Wave

4x Grave Purge

16x Swamps
4x Cavern of Souls

Now this is an example of "Deck Synergy". I have linked each card to it's "profile" on the Magic website. I encourage you to read up on each card as what I am about to talk about relates specifically to them. Continue on once you are done, I'll wait.......

You done yet?



Good, so lets start off. This is an example of an "aggro" deck. It has low cost creatures, and most of those creatures have a "high power/toughness ratio".Another thing is that you notice the deck has a small "Mana Curve". Of the 40 non land cards, none of them "cost" more than 3 mana(except for "Killing Wave which has X, which is a variable cost). This allows me to play with a "smaller Mana base" which allows me to play more spells/creatures. What sets this deck apart from most Aggro decks, is the "synergy" of the cards. If you notice most of the "Spells" require sacrificing creatures, and normally that is a "detriment". However, both Butcher Ghoul, and Gerdalf's Messenger both "get bigger" when they die the first time, and "the Messenger" causes your opponent to "lose life" when it comes into play. Gravecrawler doesn't care if it is in the graveyard or in your hand, as you can play from either place and Blood Artist deals damage and gives you a life every time a creature dies(even if it is an opponents).

And once you have two or three Zombies on the Field, Cemetary Reaper comes down and "pumps up" your Zombies. Unchecked this deck is capable of hitting hard and hitting fast. It is also capable of winning even in a "stalemate". With the Messenger, combined with the Blood Artist, it is capable of "finishing" an opponent by Simply Sacrificing it to either Bone Splinters, Geth's Verdict, Altar's Reap, or my favorite, Killing Wave.

Killing Wave is really fun to Follow up with a Gravepurge combined with a Sign in Blood. I can Sacrifice all of my creatures, then set them on top of my Library, them draw three of them, and given the low mana cost of them, generally play most of them. Combined with the "fast and hard hitting" nature of the deck(by the time I would draw one of the 2 Killing Waves, my Opponent would need to Sacrifice most of his creatures to keep from losing) that can be devastating.

So what does this all have to do with The Dallas Cowboys Roster? The same principle applies to Roster Building. The Players have to have "synergy" with each other.

A great QB is worthless without WR's that can catch the ball, and an Offensive line that can Pass protect. The O-line needs a good RB that can get yards "after Contact" to help in the running attack, which helps "slow down the Defense" in pass rushing. The Offense needs a good Defense to keep the other team from scoring.

To be a good Defense, The Secondary needs a decent front Seven that can "create pressure" on the opponents Offense. The Front seven needs the Secondary to Hold the Opponents "skill position players" in check, to help them create pressure.

I think Dallas has this in abundance:

With The Skill position players, Dallas has a formidable Passing attack combined with decent running game that should keep the opposing defense "off balance" and play to their weaknesses.

On Defense they have several DB's capable of of playing "press coverage" to disrupt opponents passing attacks, with solid front seven players capable of creating pressure, while still holding the opponents running game in check.

So does Dallas have the "synergy" to be a Champion? We certainly hope so, but like any "deck" you have to "play test". This is where you find out what works and what doesn't. Soon TC will start up, and Dallas will start the "playtesting". Let's all hope that Dallas gets the "kinks out" before the Tournament.

I hope that you all enjoyed this little Side excursion for me. I will be putting up my 53 man roster up shortly after TC, and will continue to post Comments throughout. I look forward to yours on this post and any others.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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