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 Magic - The Gathering Online

Magic - The Gathering Online

In-depth FAQ for Emperor
For play on PC
Written by Michael Maillaro AKA Blackmore (on both the FAQ message boards and
Version: 0.1a
Last Updated: 9/9/2002

Contact me:

The best way to contact me is to e-mail me at  Send me
all comments, questions, corrections, or strategies, and I will make sure to
credit you.

This FAQ is going to be a work in progress, and as I pick up on new
information, it will be frequently updated.



9/9/02 Version 0.1 - The start of my first GameFAQ.  Only some basic
information here.

9/10/02 Version 0.1a - Expanded first draft, added some information about chat
commands and chat symbols.  Cleaned up the format.  Still working towards
getting a completed first draft.  Added some general emperor deck info, but it
will be a few more days until I can start putting more specifics up there
(busy week at work).

9/11/02 Version 0.1b - Added some general information about Magic The Gathering
and the difference between the different colors of cards.  Every section at
this point has some information, and I will continue to expand it as the week
passes.  Fixed the year in the copyright (2001?)


Table of Contents
Section 1: Introduction
Section 2: FAQ
         2.1: What is M:TG?
         2.2: What is a Trading Card Game?
         2.3: What is Magic Online?
         2.4: What is Emperor?
         2.5: Sounds simple!  What's the catch?
         2.6: What color/card/combination will guarantee me a win every time?
         2.7: Is there a way to pick who gets to be an emperor?
         2.8: What types of Muliplayer formats does M:TGO support?
Section 3: General Information about M:TG and M:TGO
          3.1: What's With all the Colors?
          3.1.1: Black
          3.1.2: Blue
          3.1.3: Green
          3.1.4: Red
          3.1.5: White
          3.1.6: Colorless
          3.1.7: Gold (Multi-color)
Section 4: Strategies For Emperor
        4.1: So You Want To Be An Emperor?
Section 5: Chat And Etiquette
        5.1: Typing Chat Symbols
        5.2: Chat Commands
        5.3: Ejecting A Player
Section 6: Miscellaneous
Section 7: Law Of The Land
Section 8: Closing Statements And Special Thanks



Welcome to my first FAQ.  I've been using this site for two years, so I
figured it was about time I started contributing.  I noticed there are no
FAQs for Magic: The Gathering Online, so I decided to construct one focusing
on my favorite version of play: the Emperor's game.

While this FAQ will provide some general information about Magic: The
Gathering (from here on it, M:TG) and Magic:The Gathering Online (M:TGO),
this guide focuses primarily on the multi-player mode called Emperor.  This
guide assumes you know the basics of playing M:TGO and have already read the
instruction booklet's that come with the game (or used the game's terrific
Help feature).

In my mind, Emperor is the most fun way to play.  So without further adieu, I
give you:

Mike Maillaro's First Game FAQ!



2.1: What is M:TG?

(From M:TGO): Magic: The Gathering was the world's first trading card game.
Invented by mathematician and award-winning game designer Dr. Richard
Garfield, Magic debuted at the GenCon gaming convention in 1993 to instant
success and has been growing and evolving ever since.
Like other TCGs, you build a Magic deck from either cards you own
(Constructed format) or cards you get at the beginning of an event (Limited
format) and try to defeat other players. Your deck might contain cards
carefully chosen to fit your play style, while your opponent's deck could be
completely different than yours.
Winning usually means reducing your opponent's score (life total) from 20 to
0. Attacking with creatures or damaging your opponent with spells is the best
way to achieve this goal. Imagine doing battle with fire-breathing dragons,
noble angels, powerful and mysterious djinns, and cunning elves-they're all
part of the Magic: The Gathering game.
Cards are the resources at your disposal. Some represent plots of land that
you draw mana from, while others depict fantastic creatures, powerful spells,
or arcane items. Each different card has unique statistics and abilities
which can interact in complex and surprising ways with other cards.
Sets of cards come in two flavors: basic sets and expert-level expansions. A
new basic set appears about every two years, while one large and two smaller
expert-level expansions come out each year. With over 1,500 cards currently
available in Magic Online, and lots more to come, the combinations are
limited only by your imagination.

2.2: What is a Trading Card Game?

(From M:TGO) The main difference between a trading card game (TCG) like
Magic: The Gathering and a regular card game is that each player uses his or
her own deck of cards when playing instead of having a common deck from which
all players draw. These decks can be customized using any cards a player
Another difference between a TCG and other games is that you trade cards with
other players (much like sports cards). Some cards are considered more rare
and valuable, and therefore more collectible, than others. You can tell how
rare a Magic card is by the color of the expansion symbol. Common cards have
a black expansion symbol, uncommon are silver, and rare are gold.
Some players might try to complete a collection, trading Magic cards until
they own every one in a set. Others might be on a constant lookout for just
the right card for their latest deck.

2.3: What is Magic Online?

Magic Online is a complete version of the original Magic game in an
electronic format. Whether you're a newbie, a casual player, or a serious
player, now you can play Magic against people all over the world without ever
leaving the comfort of your home.
You buy Magic Online cards, collect them, play with them, and trade them with
other players. The game keeps track of the cards you own, the decks you
build, and the victories you rack up.
You can play with cards found in any expansion from the Invasion set forward.
As new Magic sets are released, they'll also become available in Magic
Online. You can also take a look at older Magic cards and keep track of the
ones you own.

2.4: What is Emperor?

Emperor's game is a multi-player version of M:TG, played with six players,
two teams of three. Each team consists of an emperor who sits between two

Flanker1 A ---- Emperor1 ---- Flanker1 B
Flanker2 A ---- Emperor2 ---- Flanker2 B

Now, the goal of the game is to defeat the opposing team's emperor. Each
player starts with 20 life.

2.5: Sounds simple!  What's the catch?

Actually, there are a few catches:

 - Every player has a one seat radius for spell casting, which means the emp
can only cast on himself or his two flankers (or their permanents), and each
flanker can only cast on their emp or the player in front of him. Thus,
Emperor1 can only cast on Flanker1 A and Flanker1 B (or permanents belonging
to Flanker1 A and Flanker1 B), and Flanker1 A can only cast on Flanker2 A or
Emperor1 (or permanents belonging to Flanker2 A or Emperor 1).

 - Same goes for attacking. A flanker can only attack the opposing flanker in
front of him. And an emperor can't attack anyone until one of his flankers
has been defeated. Okay, what that means is, if Flanker 1A defeats Flanker2
A, only then Flanker1 A can attack Emperor 2. Emperor2 is now also open to
attack Flanker1 A as well.

 -  You can cast on any spell in the stack (which means any player can
counter a spell cast by any other player).

 - Spells that effect all (ex: Destroy all enchantments, or all creatures and
players take 2 damage) will still effect everyone (or all creatures, all
lands, all enchantments, all permanents, etc.)

2.6: What color/card/combination will guarantee me a win every time?

To be honest, there is none.  Every game is different (even if you use the
same deck every single game).  You could have the best cards and the best
strategies and get a terribly unlucky draw.  I've seen it happen many times.

Plus, not everyone plays the same way.  I used to prefer a red/black deck
which would deal a lot of direct damage and kill opponent's creatures, but
over time, I started enjoying the more subtle spells (such as counters,
creature boosters, things of that nature).  You'll develop your own
preferences and stragies over time and with some practice.  This guide should
help point you in the right direction for Emperor.

2.7: Is there a way to pick who gets to be an emperor? Like if you start the
game or something? I've played a couple and haven't gotten to be the emperor
yet. (submitted by Oxus the Smoove)

Whoever starts the game chooses who gets in what seat. This works by pointing
to a player's avatar and dragging them to whatever seat they want. This
allows the players to choose if they are emp or flanker, or even which team
they are on.

A good host will ask if everyone is happy with their seats and deck choice
before they select to start the game. I have a very specific emperor deck,
and if I join the game with my emperor deck, and get stuck as a flanker, I am
a useless player.

2.8: What types of Muliplayer formats does M:TGO support?
Other than Emperor, you can play:
A free-for-all where the last player left in the game wins.
Teams (2 vs. 2) or (3 vs. 3)
Each team tries to eliminate all players on the other team.
Two- or Three-Headed Giant
A team wins by reducing the other team's shared life total to 0.




You may have noticed Magic: The Gathering cards come in several different
colors.  Each color in Magic represents a type of magic (black magic, life
magic, mental magic, etc.) and usually each has specialized spells (example:
most counter spells are Blue), but this is not a hard as fast rule.

Which color is the best?  It really depends on your style of play and what type
of game you are playing.  My normal deck (which is also my flanker deck) is a
black, red deck, while my emperor deck is green, blue, and white.

Here's a quick breakdown of what each color means, where it gets its power
from, and the strengths of each:

3.1.1: BLACK:

Mana Source: Swamps
Symbol: Black skull

Black spells are primarily used for damage, negative creature boosting (-1/-1,
etc.) and destroying creatures.  Black spells tend to be the nastiest of the
game and usually have high casting costs, which makes it the slowest of the
five colors.  Great against decks with lots of creatures.

3.1.2: BLUE:

Mana Source: Islands
Symbol:  Blue Waterdrop

Blue specializes in spells "for the mind".  In the game, your mind is
represented by your library (your draw deck) and the cards in your hand.  Blue
cards will let you warp your opponent's mind (forced discards, counter spells)
and improve your own (drawing cards).  Many of the useful blue spells have low
casting costs, which makes it vital for a fast casting deck.

3.1.3: GREEN
Mana Source: Forests
Symbol: Green Tree

Green is nature spells.  Lots of creature enhancers, as well as low cast
creature spells.  Green is also home to several prevent combat damage spells,
which is vital if you are playing a deck with smaller creatures.  Green is
probably the fastest of the colors.

3.1.4: RED

Mana Source: Mountains
Symbol: Red Fireball

Red is full of direct damage spells.  If you want to sit back and pelt your
opponent or their creatures with fireballs, red is the color for you.  Red is
probably the most satisfying color to play, because you will always get
immediate results with direct damage spells, while some of the other colors
take a bit longer to develop.

3.1.5: WHITE
Mana Source: Plains
Symbol: White Starburst

White is all about preventing damage and healing your creatures and yourself
(or your teammates as the case may be).  But that doesn't mean white is weak or
passive.  Some of the strongest creatures (and creature enhancers) in the game
are white spells.


Two classes of cards in Magic have no color.  These are lands and artifacts
(which also includes artifact creatures).


Lands are required to cast your other spells, but have no color of their own.
There are basic lands, and also all types of non-basic lands, which can give
you multiple colored mana, turn into creatures, or a variety of other effects.
You are allowed to play one land per turn, and will almost always be the first
card you cast (there are some artifacts with no casting cost, but this is a


Artifacts aren't used very heavily by most Magic players anymore, but they are
still very useful.  Artifacts can really change the game play, and the best
part is you can cast them with mana of any color.  Artifacts can do anything,
from dealing damage, to providing mana, to allowing you to draw extra cards,
among many other effects.  There is literally no limit to what artifacts can
do.  They are also pretty hard to come by.


There are also several cards in the game, which require more than one time of
mana to be useful.  I've actually seen a card that requires all five types of
mana to cast, in fact.  Like artifacts, Gold cards have a variety of effects,
which usually combine two or more classes of magic.  The biggest disadvantage
with Gold cards is you need more than one type of mana on hand to cast them,
and you are limited to using Gold Cards which match the color of your deck, but
they can still be pretty useful!




The Emperor is the most important part of an Emperor game.  If the emperor
gets taken out, the team loses.  So how do you go about building an emperor

Before we start, I am starting with my strategy as an emperor.  As this guide
expands, I will be talking to other players and getting their thoughts and
strategies on being an Emperor.  My strategy just happens to be what I've
seen most players use.  Feel free to use my ideas or modify them in any way.
And please submit all your own ideas, so we can make this guide as
comprehensive as possible.

- Creatures: Since an Emperor can't attack when the game starts, I don't
like putting too many creatures in my deck.  Of course, this can create a
problem if one of your flankers gets killed and you have no creatures to
defend yourself.  What I would suggest is a handful of moderately powerful
creatures.  There is no point in using fast casting creatures because it's
not like you are going to get to attack with them early in the game anyway.

- Direct Damage: In most games, I love direct damage spells, but in Emperor,
until one of your flankers dies, you can't cast them on your opponents or
their creatures.  As a result, I would not bother putting too many direct
damage cards in your deck.

- Counter Spells: A big part of an Emperor game!  Since any player can cast
spells onto the stack, you should load up on counter spells, especially low
cast ones.  They just might save your flankers or yourself from defeat from a
powerful direct (or indirect) damage spell.

- Global spells: Enchantments, artifacts, and "Destroy all enchantments"
disenchants are a must, since you can't cast directly on your opponents.  And
sometimes one of your opponents will cast a really pesky enchantment or
artifact.  As a result, it's good to keep on hand some spells that destroy
all enchantments (or better yet, all enchantments of any one color).

- Prevent damage: Cards like a Moment's Peace are great in Emperor.  Moment's
Peace prevents all combat damage until the end of turn, and you can cast it
twice thanks to its Flashback ability (can be cast from the graveyard).  This
is one of my favorite cards in my deck and I have three of them in my deck.
Combat Healers or Healing Salve are also good for giving life or preventing

- Creature boosters: Enchantments or even instants like Giant Growth are
great ways to help your teammates inflict a lot of damage.  The instants are
especially good because you can cast them during battle, turning a 1/1
creature into a 4/4 wrecking machine.




You can include certain symbols in your chat messages by using special key
combinations. Symbols may be used in any chat message you send.  All symbols
are done by pressing CTRL and Q at the same time, followed by a trigger
letter or number.

Key Combination                       Description
CTRL+Q, W                             While Mana Symbol
CTRL+Q, U                             Blue Mana Symbol
CTRL+Q, B                             Black Mana Symbol
CTRL+Q, R                             Red Mana Symbol
CTRL+Q, G                             Green Mana Symbol
CTRL+Q, T                             Tap Symbol
CTRL+Q, number or X                   Colorless Mana Symbol
CRTL+Q, A                             Ten Colorless Mana
CTRL+Q, C                             Twelve Colorless Mana
CTRL+Q, L                             Sixteen Colorless Mana
CTRL+Q, S                             Smiling Face
CTRL+Q, F                             Frowning Face
CTRL+Q, Y                             Sick Face
CTRL+Q, E                             Trophy
CTRL+Q, I                             Wizards Of The Coast Logo
CTRL+Q, Z                             Snoring
CTRL+Q, V                             Arrow


You can type these in any chat window:

You can start or join a group chat by typing "/join room name" in any chat
area. For example, if Bob typed "/join Bob" then a private message window
with the name "Bob" would appear on Bob's screen. Other players could join
that chat by typing "/join Bob".

This is an important command as it will allow you to create a team channel so
you can communicate privately with your teammates during an Emperor game,
allowing you to talk strategies and prevent wasting spells.

You can mark yourself as being away from your computer by typing "/away
message" in any chat window, where the message is what you want to tell other
users. Your status and message will be displayed in the chat area of the room
you're in. Any players who try to send you private messages will get an
automatic reply telling them that you're away, but you'll still receive their
messages. When you return to your computer, just type "/away" to show that
you're back.
For example, if a player with the user name Bob types "/away using the
bathroom", the message "Bob is away - using the bathroom" appears in the room
the player is in. When the player returns and types "/away", the message "Bob
is back" is sent to that room.

You can send a chat message that starts with your user name by typing "/me
message" in a chat window.  This will make your message appear in blue.
For example, if a player with the user name Bob types "/me shakes head with
frustration" in any chat area, the message "Bob shakes head with frustration"
appears in the window.

You can also add a player to your buddy list at any time by typing /addbuddy
name.  If the player's name has a space in it, put quotation marks around it,
/addbuddy "player name".

You can go to the room that a player is in by typing "/goto name."  If the
player's name has a space in it, put quotation marks around it, "/goto
"player name"."

In a multiplayer game, players can opt to eject another player from the game
by typing /eject name.  See next section for more information


If someone is being disruptive or is taking too long between turns, players
can vote to eject any other player from an Emperor Game by typing "/eject
name" in the game's chat area.

If all the other players type "/eject player" the person will be removed from
the game.  This is a very extreme way of dealing with problems (especially
since it will leave a team one player short).  And if a team ejects their
emperor, they will lose the game.



This section is for anything else that comes to mind.  Right now, I have
nothing here and no real plans for this section, but we'll see what happens as
time passes.



This FAQ is copyright 2002 to Mike Maillaro, AKA Blackmore.

Any use of this FAQ for commercial purposes in any way, shape, or form without
the consent of the author is strictly prohibited.  This can be used for
personal use and freely distributed, as long as there is no profit being made
off the FAQ without my approval.

If you see this FAQ on any site other than Game FAQ, let me know, as it is
being used without my permission!

Any failure to comply with said premises can result in legal actions.




Well that just about wraps up my first FAQ.  As I said earlier, send all your
questions, comments, etc. to

And if you see me on the GameFAQ boards (Blackmore), just drop me a line.  I
usually hang around Super Mario Sunshine, Super Smash Bros, Melee, Eternal
Darkness, and Animal Crossing, though I am all around.  Same goes for M:TGO!
I'm always up for a game!

This guide would never have gotten done without:

My parents: For supporting my video game habits for all those years before I
went out and got a real job, and for always at least pretending to have an
interest in my games.

My sister: For always being there, and for being the first person I played
M:TG with.  My god, did you kick my ass...

Gina Altbuch: For the seven most wonderful years in my life.  I love you,
Imzadi, and can't wait to get our kids addicted to video game and

Jeff "CJayC" Veasey: For GameFAQs!  My favorite video game site on the web!

Wizards of the Coast: For M:TG and M:TGO!  I have enjoyed Magic for a long
time, and they keep making this game better and better!

The dozens of people I've played M:TGO with over the last few weeks to helping
me prep this guide.


Those who asked me questions on the GameFAQ board:
Oxus the Smoove

(c) Mike Maillaro 2002


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