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Magic Variant: R.P.S. (Rock-Paper-Scissors)




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This Magic: the Gathering variant is designed to play with three players, each using a deck containing Rock Lobster, Paper Tiger, and Scissors Lizard respectively and a mix of versatile white spells. In this game, Rock wants to kill Paper, Paper wants to kill Scissors, and Scissors wants to kill Rock, due to the latter decks creatures rendering the formers creatures ineffectual. This sets up a unique situation where each player has one opponent he wants to eliminate, and another opponent thats trying to eliminate him. A player must often protect the very enemy that is gunning for him, because if that player is eliminated, there is very little preventing a swift defeat with near useless creatures.

The three decks in this variant are identical except where one has Rock Lobsters, one has Paper Tigers, and the third has Scissors Lizards. There are ten of that respective artifact creature (originally from the Unglued set) in each 40 card deck. The remainder of each deck is the same and made up of a single copy of versatile white cards from Magics long history. Each of the three players take one of the three decks and shuffle thoroughly.

RULE CHANGESThe game is played like any multiplayer game of Magic except for the following rules changes.

Players sit in rock, paper, scissors clockwise order around the table with their primary enemy (the enemy who's creatures lock down his creatures) to their left side. Turn order and priority passes in clockwise order and players should generally attack to their left.

Players will only gain and lose life in increments of four, and therefore a starting life total may be represented by five counters (5x4=20) or on a single six-sided die, though life totals may exceed 24 life on occasion.

If a deck runs out of cards, the player of that deck reshuffles his graveyard into his library the next time he would draw a card, and then draws. Players cannot lose by being forced to draw from an empty deck.

The players must collectively choose one of the methods of play below before beginning play. These game modes do not in any way benefit the player of the deck with the same name. If there is no consensus, the players play rock-paper-scissors (the classic game) to determine who chooses the method used.

  • Rock: The hardest variant, this method is slower and more like regular multiplayer Magic than the Paper or Scissors rules below. Players may play any card in their hands face down as a basic plains, and tap them for mana as a normal land. Once a card is played as a land, there is no way to get it back in ones hand (other than the Narrow Escape card in each deck), so each land played should be considered on its merits as a spell and the necessity of mana.

  • Paper: This variant causes cards (paper) to move to and from play throughout the game, and is faster than the Rock variant allowing immediate interaction, but is slower than the Scissors variant. During a players main phase, he may play a card from his hand face down as a basic plains, and tap it for mana as a normal land. Players may look at their own facedown cards at any time, and a player may tap an untapped facedown card to return it to his hand immediately, providing no mana. This ability does not use the stack. All generic mana costs are ignored allowing spells to be cast for 1 or 2 mana each and the essential artifact creatures to be played without mana at all.

  • Scissors: This variant cuts out a major part of the Magic rules, but makes things move very quickly, jumping directly into the heat of the battle. Mana costs are ignored when playing spells and activating abilities. Players may play cards any time allowed by their spell type without paying a mana cost.

Make sure players give priority in turn order and give the player to their left a chance to play or decline before declaring a spell. Because players sit with their primary enemy to their left, this usually allows the player being attacked the opportunity to pass priority to his secondary opponent and sometimes force him or her to protect him with spells.

Determine who goes first by actually playing rock-paper-scissors and have fun.

Other Land Options
  • Lizard: Add this option to the Rock or Paper modes of play to speed them up. During a players turn, he may play any number of cards from his hand face down as basic plains, ignoring the one land per turn rule.

  • Spock: Add this option to soften the Rock mode somewhat. Players may look at their own facedown cards at any time, and a player may tap an untapped facedown card to return it to his hand immediately, providing no mana. This ability does not use the stack.

  • Paper Mache Rocks: Add to the Rock mode to require fewer cards to be played as lands. All generic mana costs are ignored allowing spells to be cast for 1 or 2 mana each and the essential artifact creatures to be played without mana at all.

  • Soft Rocks: Add this option to the Rock mode to soften it a little. When mana empties from a mana pool at the end of a step or phase, untap one of that players lands for each mana emptied from his pool. Players may look at their own facedown cards at any time. During a players untap step, he may choose to return any of his tapped lands to his hand Instead of untapping them.

  • Rubber Rocks (or Paper): Add this option to the Rock or Paper modes for a unique experience. Whenever a land is tapped for mana, that card returns to its owners hand immediately, becoming a spell which may be cast, even using the mana it provided to pay for it. Unless you enjoy a slow game where lack of mana is a constant hindrance, this option is best combined with the Lizard and/or Paper Mache Rocks options (or both).

  • Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock: Add both the Lizard and Spock options to the Rock mode. Alternately, try the Rock mode with Lizard and one of the other three options. Or the Rock mode with Lizard and Paper Mache Rocks options. Or the Paper mode with both Lizard and Rubber Rocks options. Play the options you like the most and try all combinations that make sense to you.

Paper-Rock-Scissors: For a slightly less cutthroat game, try sitting in paper, rock, scissors order with a players primary enemy to his right instead of his left. Play still moves clockwise but players ordinarily attack to their right. This turn order gives a defending player a slight advantage since he takes his turn just before the opponent who is likely to attack him and can prepare for it somewhat better. More importantly, this turn order decreases an attacked players ability to pass priority to his secondary opponent in an attempt to force that player to use cards on his behalf. In this turn order, a player is his own last line of defense.

Ro-sham-bo: To add some randomness and extra fun to the game, use this rule. Rock Lobsters have the following ability in place of their printed ability.

  • When a Scissor Lizard would be declared as an attacker or blocker, its controller must beat you at a single rock-paper-scissors match or it may not attack or block this round.

Likewise, Paper Tigers and Scissors Lizards have the same ability in regards to Rock Lobsters and Paper Tigers respectively. This is also a good rule for less experienced or young players.

Shoot: To keep things happening when players run low on cards in their hands add this rule to any game of Magic: RPS. During a players draw step, if that player has no cards in hand, that player draws two cards instead of one.

Two players: The game can be played by only two players with less theme, without the attack/protect dynamic, but most of the fun. Each player chooses one of the three decks to play. In this game Rock Lobsters, Paper Tigers, and Scissors Lizards have the following ability in place of their normal abilities.

  • Rock Lobsters, Paper Tigers, and Scissor Lizards controlledby your opponent cannot attack or block.
Be creative. Most cards in the decks of RPS Magic can serve multiple functions, often offensive and defensive depending on the situation. Think outside the box with each spell, and find all the combos and interactions that can protect your permanents and remove your opponents permanents at key moments.

Dont overextend. It is especially tempting when playing with reduced cost or no mana costs at all, playing all the creatures and enchantments in your hand as soon as you can is often a bad idea, because each deck contains a number of mass removal spells. There may be a time when playing multiple creatures is a fine strategy that may somewhat insulate you from targeted removal and keep an attacker for your turn, but this is usually only near the end of the game when players have few cards in hand and are top-decking.

Protect your secondary enemy. The player to your right, though he wants to kill you most of all, has creatures that are locked down by your creatures. He is pretty easy to defeat once the player to your left is eliminated. At the same time, the player to your left has creatures that lock down your creatures and doesnt care about killing you. You will want to protect the player to your right once he gets down to 2 or 3 hits (8 or 12 life) because if he dies and his creatures are not there to lock down the creatures of the player to your left, you are pretty easy pickens. Dont wait until he is at one hit to start protecting him, because it might be too late at that point.

Avoid exile. There are some cards your opponents will play that can permanently exile your creatures and enchantments. These exiled cards will not be reshuffled if your reach the end of your library and you may wish to protect your cards from being exiled so you dont have a disadvantage in creature numbers if the libraries reset.

Learn the deck. The more you play RPS Magic the better you will be able to anticipate what cards will be played by which players and prepare for those plays. All decks are the same, so if you draw a card, there is a good chance that your opponents will have the same card in hand at some point.

Check out Forgetful Fish and Trippin', my other variant decks on this site.

Updates Add


Revision 5 See all

(6 years ago)

+1 Daredevil Dragster side
-1 Nevinyrral's Disk side
+1 Resurrection side
-1 Rock Lobster side
Top Ranked
  • Achieved #34 position overall 7 years ago
Date added 7 years
Last updated 6 years

This deck is not Unknown legal.

Rarity (main - side)

8 - 8 Rares

11 - 2 Uncommons

21 - 10 Commons

Cards 40
Avg. CMC 3.23
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