Emperor FAQ by blackmore

Version: 0.9 | Updated: 09/14/02 | Printable Version

Magic: The Gathering Online: In-depth FAQ for Emperor
For play on PC
Written by Michael Maillaro AKA Blackmore 
Version: 0.9
Last Updated: 9/14/2002

Contact me:

The best way to contact me is to e-mail me at blackmoreinc@yahoo.com.  
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 

9/14/02 Version 0.9 - Finally on the brink of the complete first draft!  
Added section on spell types, and began adding a copy of my current 
Emperor deck.   Added two questions about how much M:TGO costs.  This 
might take a bit longer than I planned, but I should have it all up in 
a few days.  Also worked on the format some, as some things seemed to 
be screwed up on me when I started viewing it on my new laptop (paid 
for through work).

So far, I have worked mostly on the non-Emperor information, but that 
will change over the next few days.


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: How much does it cost to play M:TGO?
         2.5: Is it worth it?
         2.6: What is Emperor?
         2.7: Sounds simple!  What's the catch?
         2.8: How can I win every time?
         2.9: Is there a way to pick who gets to be an emperor?
         2.10: 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)
          3.2: Spell Types
Section 4: Strategies For Emperor
        4.1: So You Want To Be An Emperor?
        4.2: My Emperor's Deck
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 

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 owns. 

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: How much does it cost to play M:TGO?

As opposed to most online games, there is no monthly fee to play M:TGO.  
You can download the software for free, and pay a one-time fee of 10 
dollars to register (which I believe you get back as in-game money, I 
am not sure as I bought the store version).  This takes a long time, 
even with a cable modem.

The store version is 15 bucks, which you get back 10 dollars of as in-
game money, which you can use to buy you a starter deck.

This will be enough to get you started, and through trading you can 
build up a nice collection of cards.  But, very quickly, I wanted to 
try as many cards as I could, so I started buying cards at the in-game 

Theme Decks are 10 bucks (though you can get smaller 40 color decks for 
8 bucks), same for Tournament Packs (some of each basic land type, then 
randomly packed cards).  You can also get booster packs for 3-4 dollars 
each, for the various expansions available in the game.  Also, tickets 
for the various tournaments are available for sale at a dollar a ticket 
(tournaments run between 2-5 tickets each, but you win booster packs 
for coming in first or second).

2.5: Sounds like this could end up costing a lot.  Is it worth it?

Obviously I think so, or I wouldn't have bothered writing this guide ;)

But, I'd say yes.  You really can get started with a minimal 
investment, and you don't have to buy new cards to have a great time 
playing.  I have always liked playing M:TG, and now I can always find 
someone to play right online.  There are all different types of games 
and opponents, so you won't get bored easily.  And the online card sets 
are expanding like the real cards, so it ensures the game will always 
have some next twists to it.

2.6: 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 flankers. 
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.

2.7: 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 emperor can only cast on himself or his two flankers (or their 
permanents), and each flanker can only cast on their emperor 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 affect 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.)

2.8: 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 strategies over time and with some 
practice.  This guide should help point you in the right direction for 

2.9: 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 sits 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 emperor 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.

2.10: 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. 

Also, tournaments start with 8 players, and players are always 
inventing new ways to play.  A few days ago, I saw someone trying to 
teach a new way of playing called Werewolf, but I was too busy playing 
to get a chance to try it out.




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 

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 rarity).  You can play a land only on your turn, before 
or after combat.


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.

Artifacts can be played on your turn, before or after combat.


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 


All the cards except land are considered spells.  Even creature cards 
are Summon spells until they are cast and on the table.  On each card, 
the type of spell being cast can be seen right under the on the left 
hand side of the card. 

Artifacts/Artifact creatures: See Section 3.1.6

Creatures: Creatures can only be cast on your turn, before or after 
combat.  Creature spells will say "Creature-<TYPE>" under the picture.  
The types of creatures vary: giants, goblins, birds, etc.  There are 
several spells that only effect creatures of certain types, so make 
sure you know the types of creatures you are using.

Creature cards can be identified by the numbers on the bottom right of 
the card.  The numbers will be in the format A/B, with A being the 
creatures power (how much damage it can deal), and B being its 
toughness (how much damage it can take).

Interesting side note: Creatures used to be listed as "Summon <TYPE>", 
but it was changed a few sets ago. 

Sorcery: Very powerful spells that can only be cast on your turn, 
before or after combat.  Sorceries tend to have high casting costs and 
their effects last only until the end of the turn.

Instants: The most versatile type of spell, as it can be cast at any 
time, including during your opponent's turn.  Instants can even be cast 
while an opponent is casting another spell (this is why all counter 
spells are instants).

Instants used to be divided into Instants and Interrupts, but since 
they had almost exactly the same function, they were all changed to 

Enchantments:  Permanent spells that can only be cast on your turn, 
before or after combat.  Enchantments stay in the game until they are 
destroyed, which means their effects are long lasting.  

Enchant Creature/Land/Artifact/Enchantment

These are special Enchantments that attach themselves to another 
permanent in play.  If the permanent is destroyed, the enchantment is 
destroyed as well.




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 deck?  

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 likly you are going to get to attack with 
them early in the game.

- 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 on spells in the stack, you should load up your deck 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.  This is one of 
my favorite cards for an Emperor game, and I have three of them in my 
deck.  Combat Healers or Healing Salve are also good for giving life or 
preventing damage.

- 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.


What follows is the Emperor's Deck I am currently using.  I will group 
the cards by color.  My deck has about 90 cards, which allows for lots 
of options.  Check out section 3.2 for some general deck building 

By the way, for casting costs:

B = Black
U = Blue
G = Green
R = Red
W = White
T = Tap
Numbers or X = Colorless

7 = Seventh Edition
PS = Planeshift
Tor = Torment

C = Common
U = Uncommon
R = Rare

Number in deck/Card Name/Type/Cast Cost/Set/Rarity

1        Blanchwood Armor    Enchant Creature    2,G         7     U
          Enchanted creatures gets +1/+1 for each forest you control

1        Circular Logic         Instant          2,U         Tor   U
          Counter target spell unless its controller pays 1 for each  
          card in your graveyard
          Madness: U (Madness allows you to cast the card for its 
           madness card anytime you would have to discard it)

1       Cleansing Meditation     Sorcery          1,W,W      Tor   U
         Destroy all enchantments
         Threshold: Destroy All enchantments, then return to play all  
          cards in your graveyard destroyed this way (you have 
          threshold if you have 7 or more cards in your graveyard)

2        Confound                Instant        1, U        PS     C
          Counter target spell that targets one or more creatures.

3        Counterspell            Instant         U,U         7     C
          Counter Target Spell

1        Daring Apprentice       Creature-Wizard  1,U,U      7     R
          Creature's Power/Toughness: 1/1
          T: Sacrifice Daring Apprentice: Counter Target Spell

1        Disclipine Of Kangee     Creature-Wizard  2,W       PS     C
          Creature's Power/Toughness: 2/2
           U,T: Target creature gains flying and becomes blue until end 
                of turn




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 

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 
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"."  This is useful when you go to the multiplayer 
room, as you will often see people calling "Emp game looking for 1 emp, 
2 Flankers".  This will allow you to quickly find and join an Emperor 

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 Blackmoreinc@yahoo.com.  

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.  

Blackmore is also my name in 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 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 

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

This just about wraps up my first Game FAQ.  I will be expanding this 
FAQ and continue writing reviews for Game FAQs.  Who knows, maybe I'll 
find time to start another FAQ.  

(c) Mike Maillaro 2002