Focus is a game played with Icehouse pieces and a Magic: the Gathering deck. The players take on the roles of sorcerers striving to complete a mystic focus, a set of pyramids which can be used to channel an ultimate spell to defeat the opponent.
Magic cards represent the spells and mystic energy available to a wizard. One deck is shared by all players. A Focus deck must use at least one color other than black, and the game is best when played with all five colors. Ideally, the deck should contain a good mix of colors and card types. Icehouse pieces represent the magical pyramids the wizards are building. Each color in Magic is linked to a different color of pyramid, as shown below:
Multicolored cards- Legends, Multilands, etc. - can be used as any of the colors indicated on the card. Land is considered to be a colored card matching the type of mana it produces. For example, Islands are blue and Swamps are wild.
Each player receives eight cards. If a player has no land or colored cards in his initial hand, he must discard it and draw eight new cards. Each player then sets one card aside, face down. This card is the Focus card, and must be Red, White, Blue or Green. The game ends when one player succeeds in constructing two large pyramids matching the color of his focus card.
Decide who will begin the game using a random method: Rock-Scissors-Paper, cut for mana, the roll of a die, etc.
Turns in Focus are short and simple. The active player draws one card, plays one card, and the turn then passes to the next player. Card effect is determined by the color and type of card played.
|Land||Generation: Create a small piece, or increase the size of a piece, matching the land's color.|
|Summon||Destruction: Reduce or destroy any piece which does NOT match the card color.|
|Enchant||Alteration: Change any piece to card color.|
|Sorcery/Instant||Elemental Magic: Increase or reduce a piece matching the card color. You may not create a new pyramid using this type of card, but you can destroy a small pyramid through reduction.|
|Interrupt||Counterspell: Cancel the effect of any card which matches the color of the interrupt. Play on an opponent's turn and draw an additional card to replace it on your next turn. You may not use an interrupt to cancel another interrupt. A black or colorless effect can only be countered by a black interrupt or an artifact. Multicolored cards can be countered using a interrupt matching any of the colors of the card. Land cards cannot be interrupted.|
|Artifact||Wild Magic: Play as any type of card, of any color.|
If you run through the entire deck, shuffle and continue play. The game continues until one player has two large pyramids matching the color of her Focus card, at which point she reveals her Focus card and the game ends.
In principle, Focus can be played with any two-color Magic deck. Depending on the ratio of colors and card types in the deck, the game will change dramatically. A game with many artifacts and black cards will be quite different from a deck with no wild cards. Some types of decks, such as an all-creature deck or an all artifact deck, will not work well at all for this game. Personally, I feel that the game plays best with a five color deck. In addition, try to keep the colors distinctive. Rather than giving each color an identical mix of card types, give red and green most of the creatures, blue most of the interrupts, and so on.
In case you don't want to think about deck design, here's a sample deck to get you started:
Focus is not a complicated game, but there are a few tricks. Try to get
the most use out of all of your cards. Enchantments may appear to be useless
when they don't match your focus color. But they can slow your opponent
down, or allow you to use other cards- Instants or Lands- which require
a color match. Interrupts- especially wild interrupts- are often the key
to victory, and should not be squandered lightly.