It was just as Fallen Empires was released and a generals tournament was scheduled for Magic: the Gathering. Various people were constructing their decks with their friends - hoping to come up with the perfect combination necessary to make a mess of the other side.

What is a generals game? Ok... Typically, in Magic, it is played as a one on one game - you against your opponent. Your wits against his wits. While this is fine and dandy, its nice to have a game with friends. However, with any group of people playing a game, the 'Yellow Jersey Syndrome' kicks in and people beat up on the guy who is ahead, or they kick the guy who is down. In an everyone for themselves game this makes it a bit lopsided at times.

In the generals game, each side has three people - two flanks, and a general. The general sits between his two flanks. The table looks something like this:

 (Flank Ar)  (General A)  (Flank Al)
|               -->                 |
| ^                               v |
|               <--                 |
 (Flank Bl)  (General B)  (Flank Br)
There's also a restriction about where things can be cast - you can't influence something more than 2 people away. General A can cast spells that touch either of his flanks, or his opponents flanks - but not the other general. However, if one of the flanks dies, the other general is now within range. Furthermore, flanks can only attack across the table to the other flank - unless that flank is dead in which case you get to start whacking at the general. The game is over when either general dies - flanks don't matter. There are house rules beyond this that everyone has their own... but this is the basis of it.

So, back to the story... We got back together and stated looking at our cards and how we can come up with a killer deck. I tend to play a bit on the black, another one of our trio was a master of blue, and the last preferred to move to play green. This didn't quite look like we could get a consistent color. Then it came to us - goblins! Gobs and gobs of goblins. While none of us were masters of red, this was indeed something to play with.

Back from The Dark I had Marsh Goblins with an affinity for swamps. My green friend had the Scarwood Goblins which were slightly buffer than the average one, and drew upon green and red. We all had the standard set of goblins - Goblin Kings, Goblin Balloon Brigades, Goblins of the Flarg, Mon's Goblin Raiders, the Goblin Hero and Goblin Digging Team. Goblin Caves and Goblin Shrine for the land enchantments and buffing up our 1/1 friends. The Goblin Wizard was a joy but his power soon became apparent in the hands of Mr. Blue. The Blood Moon was a joy too, though we had to watch out we didn't step on our own multi-lands too hard.

And then, we glanced at the new cards we got from Fallen Empires, and our eyes gleamed. The Goblin Chirurgeon to keep the kings alive, the Goblin Flotilla and island-walk. The Goblin War Drums which allowed us to run our hordes, and lastly the Goblin Warrens that just kept churning out new goblin tokens. And let us not forget the Goblin Grenade. Whats that? You take a goblin, stick a bomb on its back, and throw it at something. Goblins aren't the brightest.

Mr. Blue looked at his old set of blue cards and realized that we could become invincible! With two kings out, one of the mountain walk abilities was redundant - a quick magical hack, and *poof* we've got forest-walk too! And the goblin wizards... oh, their true power was unleashed with the sleight of mind granting each wizard a different color to protect from.

At last came the day of the tournament. Each battle was 2 out of 3 games. Our first round was superb - goblins started falling out of our hands onto the table, and running across the battlefield and weathering our opponent down. Within a few rounds, each goblin was at least 6/10 (power/toughness) with mountain-walk. A crushing defeat. The next game was degenerate mess for our opponents - Mr. Green and I (the flanks) each found ourselves with Goblin Grenades in our hands and as the play - he was playing the right flank and was able to toss two grenades at their general for 10 damage. As play came to me, I looked up with a grin and threw two more at him for the final blow.

The next battle was against a team that had a bit more practice and covered all their bases well - to our eventual demise. While we finally overcame the flanks again with time and shear force of numbers, they quickly realized how to flatten us and picked up their sideboards. We thought we were going well in the second game until suddenly our nemesis showed his face - Tivadar's Crusade and our entire hordes became whimpering corpses in our graveyards. We never recovered from it and were slowly pecked to death. The final game didn't go much better - their general casted Conversion and all of our mountains became useless plains. While we each had some source of red mana, it wasn't enough to satisfy our constant casting, and our caves and shrines became worthless and our goblins became weak and puny.

All in all, it was a good game and a good time. We were there for the fun of it, not the win or loss. Indeed, our opponents were the better players. They shuddered to think what would have happened if they weren't as well rounded and able to handle attacks from any angle.

Let this be a lesson to all you Magic players out there - focus is a good thing, but too much focus will destroy you just as soundly as not enough. But never forget that the winners are those that have the most fun - not always those that win the game.

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