Archive for the ‘Magic’ Category

Jon Medina Needs to Be Banned From Tournaments (Not Trolling)

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Let me preface this entire discussion by noting the following: It is not my intent for people to harass the DCI or Wizards of the Coast in an attempt to have Jon Medina receive an official ban. While it is likely that Jon is guilty of many, many instances of Tournament Error – Failure to Follow Official Announcements, without being present to have heard the official announcements it is impossible for me to know this with any certainty.

Now onto what I want to talk about…

The Problem

For some time now, trading cards has become a bitter ordeal. Medina’s popularity has create a race of “binder grinders” who do nothing but value trade at tournaments and stores. While these people are beyond annoying to deal with, it’s impossible to avoid them because they’re usually the only people you can find who are looking to trade or who have stuff that you need. Not only that, but if you’re holding a binder (or even if you’re not), they will attack you like heroin addicts looking for a fix. I discussed the similarities between value traders and drug addicts after my trip to GP Providence last year so I won’t go into it again, but it’s pretty brutal to watch. This behaviour has been growing and spreading to the point where I can’t even make a fair offer to a 14 year old who’s been playing Magic for about 3 months without having the little shit try to nickle and dime me.

In the interest of fairness: yes, I trade for value sometimes. I do this when I’m trading something that I don’t particularly want to trade and need to be incentivised, when I’m trading hot cards for cards that, hot or not, I don’t actually need and am just going to have to invest time trying to move, or when I’m trading for something that’s kinda cool but I could take it or leave and need to be incentivised. These make up the vast minority of my trades. The majority of my trades, the ones where I trade cards I don’t need (Any cards I need/may need/want are in separate “no trade” binders) for cards that I do need or want, are done on a “it’s close enough” basis.

Back on topic, this trend in trading is beyond fucking irritating and can be considered harmful in a way, but it’s not grounds for any action. However, a number of months ago, I don’t remember exactly when, Medina was ejected from a tournament for buying cards at a tournament. The impression I got from his Twitter feed was that he felt it was some big joke and there was no reason for him to have been thrown out. We all should have seen the writing on the wall back then.

Shit Just Got Real

While the previous trend of value traders ruining that aspect of the game was bad enough, the line has now been crossed. Actually, the line was crossed the first time Jon offered to buy or sell cards at an event. Jon has now defecated on the line whilst smoking a cigar lit with a Black Lotus and invited the world to join him.

You see Medina was recently fired from Star City Games. On the most recent episode of The Eh Team (Episode #67, Red-Sleeved), Jon described the final article he submitted that was never published. And with good cause. Jon reads part of his article on the air and it described how he is teaching these people not just to be traders, but to be dealers. Except he isn’t teaching them to be dealers. Dealers understand how business works and recognize the value in purchasing a table from the tournament organizer at large events. Medina is teaching these people to be scheming douchebags. He describes how to go about buying and selling cards at tournaments without getting caught and thrown out by the organizer, and this is reprehensible.

As I said before, I can’t say with 100% certainty that Medina is violating any DCI rules. However, any major tournament I have EVER been to has always had an announcement from the organizer stating that only the vendors are allowed to buy and sell cards. By his own admission (I would produce a citation but that man talks way too much for me to find a several month old tweet), he was thrown out of an event for doing this once before. If you listen to him talk about how to get away with it and what behaviour would make an organizer suspicious, it is hard to believe that this is not a man speaking from considerable experience. Medina has decided that he is entitled to do whatever he wants, and that anyone who wants to wave “rules” in front of his face can go fuck themselves.

Why Is This Such a Big Deal?

You may not see this behaviour as a big deal. Maybe you think “Well fuck those greedy vendors, let the little guy have a chance!” You also may have no clue how the business work operates. A single person operating this way at an event with 1600 players may not be a huge deal, but when you have a well known figure in MTG finance instructing his thousands of drones how to also operate in this fashion, it can become a huge problem. Why would anyone buy a table at a large event from the organizer when every inch of table space that isn’t dedicated to sanctioned matches is filled with these fake dealers who are undercutting them? Many premiere organizers are store owners who set up at the events they run as well. As an organizer, why would I bother to go through all the effort of organizing and running an event where my store is making no money and I’m not making any money by selling tables? These people aren’t running tournaments because you’re entitled to them or out of the goodness of their heart. It is a LOT of work to put on a large event, and without adequate compensation, they aren’t going to bother (Or they will drastically cut prize support). Maybe someone else would step in and try, but it wouldn’t take long for them to realize it’s a losing proposition either.

Welcome to America, Bitch

Here in America, a private organization has the right to refuse service or admission to anyone for any reason. This extends to Wizards of the Coast (A publicly traded company is still privately owned; it is not government owned), the DCI, and the individual organizers. This is also why there is no official burden of proof in disqualification investigations or for DCI bannings (A player was banned not too long ago just for accumulating too many gameplay error warnings without ever receiving a DQ). But as I said, this is not a cry for a DCI banning. This is really a warning to all tournament organizers out there.

As organizers, it is our responsibility to keep this shit under control. This behaviour has always existed, but with such a large public figure presumably taking part and irrefutably instructing and encouraging others to take part, it is only going to get worse. Organizers need to take a stand and make an example of Medina. People need to understand that these rules exist for a reason, and they will be enforced. I implore all tournament organizers to ban Jonathan Medina from events that they run. He also seemed to argue on Twitter today that it isn’t violating DCI rules if you’re not in the tournament. I respond to this in two ways: first of all, I have seen judges enroll people who had DCI numbers but were not participating in an event into the event just to officially DQ them. More importantly, while the DCI may not have reign over you if you’re not playing in the tournament, the tournament organizer still does and still gets to throw your ass out on the curb.

It could easily be argued that this behaviour is extremely difficult to catch, but I have to disagree. With the number of staff members most events have, yes it probably is. I think it is well worth the investment for an organization like Star City Games to hire a couple people for events specifically to watch for this, however. Oh, and Jon recommended in his unpublished article that people find a nearby location to conduct their business so check the closest Panera as well. Anytime I see someone try to buy or sell cards in my store, I always make it very clear to them that it is not allowed. If they go outside to conduct their transaction, they will find that the doors have been locked behind them (The majority of our tournament time is while the store is officially closed). If they left their cards inside before the doors were locked, well they can come back during business hours to claim them.

But He’s Such a Nice Guy!

Who the fuck cares? If someone walked into your store and took money out of your register, would you say “but he’s a nice guy!” and just let them walk out? I surely hope not. We all saw how quickly the trading habits of the entire Magic community changed when Jon hit the scene, so you can imagine how quickly this behaviour is going to spread as well. The most effective and fastest solution to this problem is for tournament organizers to unite and collectively ban Jon Medina from their events.

And because I know you all came here expecting me to troll instead of use logic and facts, I’ll leave you with this: Isn’t it funny that LegitMTG is run by a guy who advocates illegitimate business practices and that the “company” website is nothing but a pointer to a sales thread on an trading forum?

Fully Altered Simpsons EDH Deck – Introduction

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

As many of you may have seen me mention on Twitter (over, and over, and over again), my girlfriend, Julie (@jwlz85), has offered to make me a fully altered EDH deck. That is 100 cards all with new artwork. It was a very sweet offer and one that I couldn’t turn down, although I have turned this into much more of an enormous fucking project than it necessarily had to be.

The Idea

Julie came to me with the idea of fully altering a deck. She was going to just alter her Rafiq deck in its current incarnation unless I wanted one of mine altered. This gave me an unnecessarily complicated idea: I had just picked up a spare Mimeoplasm (I want to keep my set of Commander theme decks intact) and was intending to start building a deck that very night. Instead of trying to find a theme to fit one of my existing decks, I could unleash my inner Johnny and design a deck specifically to be altered. I decided to go with a Simpsons theme because I’m a huge fan of the show, it has a seemingly unending cast of characters to fill all sorts of different roles in the deck, and by nature of being animated it would be much less complicated to do en mas.

The Format

This was a really tough one for me. The art was going to be completely changed, which meant some of the words had to remain on the card for it to be recognizable as what it is. This left me with three options: I could leave all the words, I could have the cards be done as full art and leave the name, casting cost, and power/toughness (where applicable), or I could change the card names and the leave the casting cost, rules text, and p/t the same. It was a really tough decision, but I decided that I was going to change the names on the cards. A lot of the cards I really could’ve gone either way with, but it was important to me for some of the cards to have different names and it seemed it would look better if they all had new names instead of a few (although there are 3 cards which kept their original name, because they were already perfect). Julie also offered to alter the flavour text on the cards (Because the project wasn’t big enough), so there’ll be that as well.

The basic land was another tough decision. While the options were the same, the rules text is unnecessary (and pretty much non-existent), so I decided to go full art on these (leaving the card frame). This turned out to create a big challenge because while there is more space on the card to paint, screenshots are much closer to the normal art box size than the full frame size. Finding exactly what I want and cropping it properly has proven to be a bigger problem than I thought, and is still a work in process.

Card Selection

Because the Simpsons’ cast of characters is so big, I could not dedicated a card to everyone I wanted to. I kinda knew going in this was going to be the case. Because of the nature of the theme, this deck was going to have a much higher count of creatures than I normally run in an EDH deck. My first step in designing the list was to think of the most appropriate cards I could for each of the characters I wanted. This proved harder than others for some cards, and also resulted in a lot of subpar cards. I was fine with subpar though as long as the deck was fun to play. And subpar or not, playing Zodiac Rabbit in EDH is awesome.

After making the list, I tested the deck. It was not fun. However, I could tell it very much had the potential to be, I just stalled on land every game do to having just built the deck and not shuffling properly. Even so, I made a realization: some of the cards were far too cute. Sure, Xanthic Statue is the best possible card for the Lard Lad donuts mascot, but when I’m supposed to have some enormous monstrosity in my deck like that thing, it’s pretty heartbreaking to cast Tooth and Nail and pull two creatures combining to a whopping 3/4. That decision was also largely because of how far behind I was from missing land drops, but I was lacking any real power. I’m really sad to see the Xanthic Statue go, but that card is shit anyway so whatever. The deck is now tuned to a point where it is fun to play and has the potential to win, even if it’s not as powerful as it could be.

The Alteration Process

I have absolutely nothing to say about this, because I’m not the one doing it. However, Julie will be writing some guest blogs to chronicle her progress and share some previews with you, as well as probably talking about altering in general. Then again, I’ve given her no guidelines as to what she needs to write about, so she may just write about stuffed animals and butterflies as that’s all girls ever seem to care about anyway. However, I would like to share at least one preview with you guys because I’m really pumped about this project. It may only be a basic land, but it’s still awesome. The artwork stars Eddie, Lou, and Homer Simpson as “Max Power”. Enjoy!
Gp swab Beckley, he likes it!

The Hierarchy of Magic Players: Casual to Competitive

Friday, January 6th, 2012

Since the dawn of time it would seem, there has been an argument over who is more important to the game of Magic: casual or competitive players. These debates never go anywhere, not like anyone is going to “solve” anything anyway. However, a common thread in all of these arguments is that people can’t seem to agree on what makes a player casual and what makes a player competitive. Two categories simply isn’t enough, as there’s a lot of middle ground. To try to help future discussions, I’d like to identify the hierarchy of players based on their level of competitive nature.

Yertle the Durdle

While empirical data on the matter would be hard to find if it even exists outside of some heavily guarded vault deep within Wizards R&D, this group most likely makes up an overwhelming majority of players. Like, severely overwhelming. No, bigger than that. Look, we’re talking krakens and dreadnoughts for earings.

Yertle is as casual as they come. An important thing to remember here is that being casual has nothing to do with how much time you spend playing, talking about, or reading about Magic. Yertle is the player who plays Magic strictly because it’s a fun game. He enjoys the game and enjoys having fun with his friends, but he has absolutely zero interest in putting up with hardcore Spike neckbeards that you find at tournaments. Level of experience has nothing to do with this either. I good friend of mine is the epitome of Yertle. He has been playing about as long as I have, which at this point is nearly 17 years. Since he has roommates that also play Magic, he can play as often as every day of the week for multiple hours a day. He may even venture away from the kitchen table for prerelease, launch parties, and weekly drafts at a store, but you’re unlikely to see him at any constructed events. Yertle owns cards from all different sets, and he doesn’t want you imposing restrictions on which cards he can and can’t use. It’s very unlikely you can drag Yertle to a limited PTQ, and if you try there better be promises of booze and strippers to follow. A Yertle will exclusively be Johnny or Timmy. The one caveat is that Yertle may also be a total fucking prick in which case he’s a Spike who refuses to venture into the realm of organized play because he wants to prove he’s the best, so long as he can do it without putting himself in a situation where he might fail. Yertle’s collection ranges from meager to respectable, but is rarely impressive. He values cards by how useful they are to him rather than their market value, so he consistently takes it up the ass from Medina with a smile.

Contributions to the game: These are the unseen masses that more competitive players aren’t even aware exist. This is a fact that is completely mind boggling to me because this is where everyone starts. Nobody plays their first game of Magic at a PTQ. Brian Kibler wasn’t conceived, born, and raised on the pro tour (although I’ve received numerous reports that his bastard children may have been). How the more competitive players that acknowledge nothing in the world beyond their own lives seem to forget that at one point they were playing Magic exclusively with their close friends and the rest of the Magic community had no idea they exist is inconceivable, but it seems to be the reason all these arguments exist in the first place. Yertle’s contribution to the game is his wallet. He is the main reason this game still exists after twenty years. Yertle keeps Wizards in business by buying packs. Lots of packs. Maybe he doesn’t buy boxes at a time (however Yertle can and will buy a booster box or two whenever a new set is released), but he has no problem running next door to Target every single day on his lunch break to buy a couple booster packs. He keeps brick and mortar stores in business both by buying sealed product from them, and by shelling out money for singles that would never in a million years see play in a serious tournament.

Average Joe the Average Joe

This is the second large group of players. Naturally, the more competitive the player profile, the less players will fit that profile. If you’re reading this, chances are this is where you fall. That’s right, loyal reader, you’re only one step away from a durdle. Joe likes both the fun side of Magic and the competitive side. You can find him playing in weekly tournaments at your LGS, and he probably has a weekly EDH game as well. Joe will frequent local PTQs and GPs, but won’t necessarily be at every one (Note that “local” can vary greatly depending on where you live. In the Boston area “local” would be about an hour drive, but for players in remote locations in may be a three or four hour drive). Joe may even be willing to travel long distances a few times a year to attend events like GPs or GenCon, but normally requires a compelling reason such as visiting a city he’s always wanted to or meeting specific members of the community that he knows will be at the event. Joe can be any combination of the player psychographies. He is also likely to have a very impressive collection of cards. Joe is even capable of experiencing some measure of success such as winning the occasional PTQ or state championship, however if he wins a PTQ he’ll be lucky to break .500 on the pro tour.

Contributions to the game: While the mass of Yertles combine to spend by far the most money by their sheer volume, Joe may be the most important person to the game. Joe loves Magic and the Magic community, and he has no problem investing his time and money to enjoy it. They help brick and mortar stores and online stores with purchases of boxes and singles, including high end singles. The majority of high end Magic cards are owned by Joes, as many have no qualms with pimping out their EDH or constructed decks. They’re also the player most likely to playsets of everything you could ever need for a given format, just in case they or one of their friends ever wants to use it. Joe also hosts podcasts, provides free content on websites, and is active on internet forums and Twitter. He has a voice, and he wants to share it however he can. This category is also home to nearly the entire judge community.

Wesley the Wannabe

Wesley is what people often refer to as “grinders” these days. Wesley will travel all over the country and possibly even the world to play in as many events as possible in the hopes that the variance inherent to Magic will eventually work in his favour. He might have an EDH deck or two that he’ll occasionally play to blow off steam, but in general he has very little interest in anything beyond testing for events and trying to win events. Wesley has likely already experienced a small measure of success in competitive play, but the fact that he’s still grinding PTQs every single weekend shows that he’s probably just not going to get anywhere in his goal of being a pro Magic player. He is also the player most likely to give a obsess about Planeswalker Points. Wesley is convinced that he is a Spike, regardless of what his psychographical profile looks like. While it is possible that Wesley has a decent collection of cards, his constant travel expenses will normally require him to borrow cards from friends rather than buying his own.

Contributions to the game: Despite what he will tell you, Wesley contributes very little. His funds are mostly reserved for travel leaving little to be spent on Magic beyond tournament entry. He may host a podcast, but it is not nearly as entertaining as Joe’s. Wesley also provides a combination of free articles and premium articles for websites, but they are less entertaining than Joe’s and less informative than the final players in our hierarchy. He is the most likely to write articles about how everyone sucks at Magic and articles claiming credit for previous known or ridiculously obvious ideas. You can find Wesley on Twitter sucking the dick of any pro player they can find in the hopes of finding out their super secret tech or just garnering favour with the people they wish they were. For anyone interested in running a store, these people are the surliest douchebags you will ever have to deal with, so beware.

Marty the Mainstay

I can’t be sure, but in my experience this is by far the rarest of the player profiles. You recognize Marty’s name. You may not know a lot about him, but you swear you’ve seen his name on Pro Tour results before. He isn’t a top level pro player, but qualifying for the Pro Tour is no great shakes for this guy. He plays almost exclusively competitive events, but will show up at FNM to test out a new deck. The only time Marty will play outside of sanctioned events is when serious testing for sanctioned events; he has no interest in casual variants. Marty is willing to travel for pro level events even if he only qualifies on rating and must fund the trip himself, but he is unlikely to travel for qualifying events as they aren’t really necessary. Marty enjoys playing the game, but he is absolutely a Spike at heart. He owns very few cards, frequently selling his current deck to buy a new deck.

Contributions to the game: Marty doesn’t spend a lot on the game, but he’s still more helpful than Wesley. Why? Well, as previously stated Wesley is a surly douchebag whereas Marty tends to be very pleasant. Why wouldn’t he be? He may not be the absolute best in the world at the game, but he knows he’s top tier. More importantly, however, Marty helps your LGS restock. He may only come in a few times a year, normally just before rotation or just before a major event he needs cards for, but when he does come in he has a big stack of cards that your store would very much like to own. Marty also understands how money works and is unlikely to give you shit over your offer on those cards. He writes articles that you probably need to pay to read, but there’s a lot of good information to be found. You can also hear Marty podcasting, though he’s more likely to show up as a guest after a particularly good performance than to host his own show. Marty has a Twitter account, but he probably don’t post a whole lot.

Petey the Pro

These are the guys that won’t come on my show. They’re the pro players. The household names. They are Spikes, and they play to win. They probably have a single EDH deck that they own and may occasionally play to promote their image and try to earn street cred, but they care about playing at the pro level and nothing else. FNM is slumming it. Playing in qualifiers is unnecessary. Petey is entitled, and you enable him. Petey probably doesn’t even own cards because he has a sponsor, and because players will gladly lend him anything he needs just to say “He won using my Underground Sea!” He is willing to travel all over the world to play the game, but only if someone else is bankrolling it.

Contributions to the game: Petey’s contributions are a large point of contention, because they’re hard to quantify. Directly, they provide virtually nothing to stores or to Wizards. Indirectly, their fame creates a level of interest in competitive play that is impossible to accurately measure. One thing is for sure, however: whatever the importance of Petey’s contribution to the game, it’s but a fraction of what he thinks it is. Petey writes premium articles, and they range from unreadable garbage that makes people want to cancel their SCG premium subscriptions to the most important Magic articles you’ll ever read. Petey does guest spots on podcasts, but he is frequently boorish and uninteresting.

Alex Bertoncini the Mike Long

This is a very special segment of players. They don’t care about being the best as long as you think they’re the best. They’re the cheating assholes that put all of organized play under strict scrutiny by the community.

Contributions to the game: Funny stories and player base animosity.

While I don’t suspect these names will ever catch on, I hope these different player profiles help people accurately describe what they mean in their discussions of casual vs competitive players, because the difference isn’t nearly as black and white as many people would lead you to believe.

My 30-Day Design Challenge: Create an Entire Set

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Note: If you don’t care at all what I have to say, there are links at the bottom of this post to my set. You can view the whole set at once, or view it by rarity or colour.

The Challenge

As many of you know, November is National Novel Writing Month. I decided that like Memorial Day, Christmas, or any other special occasion that originally had some sort of meaning, I would twist the celebration to my own purposes. I later found out that there was an offshoot of this called National Game Design Month, but my project doesn’t actually fit well into either category so whatever. My goal was to create an entire set of 229 cards (plus 20 basic land to make it 249), and, time permitting, try to work on the rest of the block.

As it turned out, time was the bottleneck of this project. Thirty days is more than enough time to get a workable draft of a set together to send to development, which was my goal. However, I have a full time job and a part time life, so being able to dedicate the amount of time necessarily to this project proved rather difficult. Were my attention not forced to be divided by so many different things, I’m sure I could have finished this portion of the design in about ten days.

The Design Process

The design process was pretty awesome. I did a design skeleton for the set to start, which took about two hours. Much of that time was spent compulsively making sure I had the proper quantities of each rarity, colour, and card type. From there, obviously I went to designing the cards. Originally I tried to just go in order: CW01, CW02, CW03, etc. That proved to be a fairly restrictive and counterproductive idea, as my mind would either wander from being too pigeonholed, or while brainstorming ideas for one card I would think of ideas that belonged elsewhere in the set. It’s a seemingly small and fairly obvious lesson, but it’s still something I feel was important to experience.

As for designing the cards, obviously it was a ton of fun. If I didn’t think it would be, I would never have attempting something like this. Finding creative uses for my new keyword was a large part of the fun, and it resulted in a couple cycles of cards as well. Cycles are something that players seem to love and I think they’re a great design tool. Interestingly enough, I only came into the set with one cycle in mind, but I wound up with a few of them. A blue common for limited resulted in a cycle of cards that not only seem fun for limited, but helped tie the flavour of the set together. A passing thought to push the power level on a creature resulted in a cycle of legendary creatures, which in turn resulted in a cycle of artifacts I’ll mention later.

Now obvious I realize that this set isn’t being rushed to the printers after two years of development, but I still found this to be a great exercise, a ton of fun, and hopefully something the community enjoys enough to orchestrate drafts of.

What’s In a Name?

Overall, I’m happy with the design of the set. There’s some limited fodder that I’m not entirely sure about, and there are a few cards that I am fully aware are really pushing the power level (But hey, that’s development’s problem!). When all is said and done though, I am proud of the rules text of the 229 cards. I should note now that not all 229 cards are new. As with any set, I chose to reprint some cards to fill necessary roles in limited. I could have made functional reprints, but there was no compelling reason to do it. I also accidentally designed an equipment that had already existed in Darksteel but that I had long since forgotten about. To my credit, I did come up with the exact same casting cost, equip cost, and commonality on my own. So I guess that leaves the question of what am I not happy about? The answer: card names.

I did my best, I really did. Or at least, I did the best job I possibly could given I only had three nights remaining to name almost every card in the set. Some of the names I’m really happy with, some of them are a bit generic, and some are probably just terrible. I freely admit that I find card names to be the hardest part of design, and I absolutely suck at proper names. In fact, while I did finally name the plane Adican, I don’t even know what the name of the set is. I named the other two sets in the block (the next set is Inquisition!), but I can’t find the perfect word for this one.

I mentioned a cycle earlier though, and it resulted from my difficulty with names. I had the cycle of legendary creatures I mentioned, as well as a single multicolour mythic that was designed specifically for EDH. While having trouble naming a rare artifact that was designed for EDH, I decided to name it after the EDH legend. Because why not. At that point I noticed that five of my other rare artifacts actually could be named after the other legends. This was completely unintentional, but the artifacts just happened to line up with abilities most common in the five separate colours. This was, without a doubt, the best moment of naming the cards.

I’m Not Sure That’s My Job

There’s one part of the cards that is largely missing. This was because of time constraints, and I’m not even sure it’s design’s job. You’ll notice, however, that most of the cards are missing flavour text. This is a big deal to me simply because having flavour text (and some better card names) are key to bringing the flavour of the set together. I wish I had more time so I could have taken at least an attempt at this, but self-imposed deadlines exist for a reason.

“How is That Different From Fading/Vanishing?”

This is the question I was asked most when I previewed cards from my set. I bring back the keyword “affinity”, but I also have a new keyword: instability. Instability works as such:

Instability X (At the beginning of your upkeep, put an instability counter on this. Then, if there are X or more instability counters on it, sacrifice it.)

Yes, it looks like fading or vanishing except that the counters go up. Technically, it is. However, by virtue of the counters increasing instead of decreasing, it opens up a huge array of abilities and flavour. It will become more obvious what I mean when you take a look at the cards, but for the most part the more unstable something becomes the more powerful it is. It’s no longer just a countdown to death anymore! I mean, yeah it’s that too and there are some vanilla guys for whom that’s all it is, but other cards make use of these instability counters as well, and I think by simply inverting the countdown to a “count up”, it opened up a lot of design space. That, or my head is up my ass. Either way.

Oh yeah, and you’ll also note that there are no cards with instability in white. There’s not as much story to the set as there should be without the flavour text (I mean in my mind it’s all there, but you can’t see inside my head), so in short the plane of Adican is reveling in its excess and chaos, but Althalos, the Righteous wants to restore the plan to a place of law, order, and piety. And he doesn’t care what it takes to accomplish that goal.

Where’s the Damn Spoiler, Already?

You don’t wanna hear my story? Fine, fuck you. Here are some links. There’s the whole list of course, but you can also view specific rarities if you don’t want to look at what you might consider “random limited garbage”. If you so choose, you may also view the cards by colour. You racist.

I hope you enjoy looking at the set, and by all means leave me feedback here, via e-mail, or on Twitter. I would love to know what everyone thinks of all my hard work. A special thanks also goes out to Robby (@mtgcolorpie) for taking a look once I had finished and making a few notes. I didn’t agree with all of them, but it’s amazing how helpful a second pair of eyes can be. Anyway, thanks for viewing!

*Remember: This was all designed by me in a single month. That means the only development process was me theorycrafting, so I realize there might be balance issues for limited or that some of the cards with which I tried to push the power level may have gone a little too far. Not saying I don’t want criticism, just keep that in mind. Oh, and there’s no expansion symbol cause I couldn’t figure out the damned utility in MSE.

Note: These pages were generated by Magic Set Editor. If you don’t like the layout, blame them, not me!
Full Set
Multicolour, Artifacts, and Lands

Free Shit’s Good Except Babies and Diseases…and SCG Judge Rewards

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

For years I have been quoted as saying that “free shit’s good except babies and diseases.” Despite what some people may think based on my derision towards the Star City Games judge rewards program, I still believe this to be true. So why such vitriol towards the program? Well let’s look at the facts. Note that I will be looking at this strictly from the standpoint of the floor judge. Results as head judge will vary, but there’s only one of them and lots of floor judges.

These Rewards Aren’t Free

What’s this? The judge rewards aren’t free? But you’re getting something for nothing, aren’t you? You are receiving some sort of benefit that was not there before, yes. However, it’s not being handed to you; you still have to earn it. The rewards only go to judges who are working long days for them, at not until a judge has worked 15 events. That means you have to work at least eight weekends for them in order to get these rewards. That means you put in considerable time and effort to earn that $25 store credit, applicable only to the most overpriced MTG store this side of Crazy Bob’s Assrape Emporium.

“But Jeebus, it’s still free! People were doing that work before and didn’t get it, that means it’s a free bonus!” Um, no it’s not, dumbass. It’s called a raise that you earned by being a loyal employee (or in this case more of a contract worker than an employee, but regardless). When you get a raise for working hard at your job do you throw your hands up in the air and yell “Free money!” for all your friends and coworkers to hear? No, because your time and hard work aren’t free and you have earned that compensation. If you got a considerable raise it’s not unrealistic that you might take your wife, girlfriend, or, far more likely for the MTG community, your neckbeard cohorts out for dinner or drinks to celebrate your extra 20% income. It is unrealistic, however, to think that you would drop to your knees and start gobbling the cock of the CEO then posting it on the internet so the world can see your love of the company’s generosity. Unless that’s how you got the raise in the first place.

Judge Rewards Aren’t a New Idea

Rewarding judges for their hard work beyond their regular compensation is a great idea. In fact, it’s such a good idea that WotC already started doing it years ago. However, when SCG starts doing it, “Oh my God! This is the greatest idea ever! Amazing!” Ironically, of all the comments I’ve seen about how brilliant this novel idea is, only one of those comments came from an actual judge. I think this speaks to the fact that players have no fucking idea what being a judge is like if they think this a big deal, but either way it’s already old hat. Oh yeah, and Wizards does it better too: and I’ll take a foil Xiahou Dun every major Wotc event over a $25 store credit every 15 major Star City events any day. Fun fact: that foil Xiahou Dun comes packaged with 13-19 other judge foils as well.

It’s Not Free, it’s a Raise. It’s Not a Raise, it’s an Insult

So we already covered that this isn’t free because you’re working for it and have to earn it. Well, it’s not even so much a raise as it is an insult. Here are the facts about judge compensation as provided to me by level 2 DCI judge Jeph Foster* (@rhythmik) who is also a really cool guy all around and has hooked me up with judge foils on multiple occasions.
*Note: The opinions and analysis in this article are not necessarily shared by Jeph. He merely provided empirical data.

  • The average Star City Games Open event lasts 12-14 hours. We’ll split the difference and call it 13.
  • Compensation per event is $150 cash or $180 store credit.
  • Judges are offered a $20 stipend for lunch.
  • When SCG stopped giving out foil promos to judges at events, compensation was raised, but they discontinued room compensation.
  • SCG does not offer travel compensation (And didn’t back when they had room compensation either)

Math time! If we figure 13 hours for the average event, judges are making $11.54 per hour. The lunch stipend is not included in this because you can’t pocket the cash, it’s just a “free” meal. I say “free” because I’m pretty sure it’s a legal obligation based on the structure of the work day and not an act of generosity, but I don’t have time to double check. In order to earn a $25 store credit, you must do this 15 times. That’s 195 hours. Which is a raise of 12.8 cents per hour. Which is a 0.01% raise. Which is a fucking insult. Oh yeah, and it’s not even a cash raise. If you want to convert it to cash, you have to buy singles from SCG’s ridiculously overpriced inventory and then sell it. So for $25 I can get, say, an Elspeth Tirel. I can then either sell it below retail cause I’m not a store or sell it at retail on ebay and lose money to fees. Currently I could expect to actually get maybe $15-16 for that in my pocket. So now we’re look at a 0.0067% raise.

I Thought Everyone Cared About EV?

What’s the EV on being a judge at these events? If you work both events, you get $300 per weekend, for two 13 hour days. Minus travel expenses. Minus room expenses. So what does that make the EV on an event if you have to fly to it, $0 or less to work your ass off? I’d rather give a dude a hand job in an alley and get the $25 cash then have to dedicate 8 weekends to that. Good thing those expenses aren’t legally relevant too, because these are slave wages that people who travel to judge are making. “So just don’t travel, Jeebus! Quit being a bitch!” Fine, I won’t travel. I’ll just judge the events in Boston (Sure I could drive to New York easily, but that’s a lot of gas and I’d have to pay for a hotel overnight) and bust my ass for two extremely long days to make $300. I mean, there’s no EV on these events if I actually have to travel, so I’ll just earn my rewards here in the greatest city in America.

Wait, how many open weekends are in each city per year, two? I’m just eight years away from getting that Elspeth for only 140% of what it’s worth!

Thank You, Star City

Thank you for showing your judges how much you care by creating this program. Thank you for making the points retroactive and publishing the lisst so we can see that almost none of the judges have actually earned anything after a full year of opens. Thank you giving me absolutely no reason to travel around the country working for you to earn this pittance. But most importantly, thank you for showing us all that, like most “financial experts”, Jon Medina can be bought. His orgasmic response to this program which he’s clearly smart enough to know is insulting and meaningless is proof that he has sold his soul and (theoretically) good name to laud the greatness of whatever worthless tripe comes out of SCG. What happened to you, man? You used to be cool.

At this point I can only assume that Star City Games is run by an evil sorceress, and the only way to disrupt her hypnotic spell on the rest of the Magic community is to bake the hall in the candle of her brain…whatever that means.

Preparing for States

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

So I’m trying to get a control deck together for states, because I love me some control. This is a rough sketch so far. Mana base will certainly need tweaking, otherwise I’m happy with everything except the lack of card draw (It’s been decided that Ponder is no good for control). Think Twice would be good if I could find room. The only thing I feel I could even argue against being necessary is the Dismember, so maybe those should be Think Twice instead. Otherwise, the general premise is that states is always very, very aggro heavy, and this should be able to shut that down. Feel free to discuss on here or with me on Twitter.

4x Mana Leak
4x Timely Reinforcements
4x Dissipate
4x Day of Judgment
4x Dismember

4x Snapcaster Mage
4x Oblivion Ring
2x Sword of Feast and Famine
1x Batterskull
1x Consecrated Sphixn
4x Mayor of Avabruck

1x Moorland Haunt
4x Hinterland Harbor
4x Seachrome Coast
4x Glacial Fortress
2x Razorverge Thicket
1x Forest
4x Islands
4x Plains

Dr. Jeebus on Dating and Magic

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

For weeks now, Twitter and Magic sites have been all about dating instead of Magic. Geordie Tait and Darwin Kastle tried their hardest to get you laid, but everyone is still talking about dating instead of new Magic tech, so clearly they have failed. And so it falls on me. But fear not, faithful reader, because the doctor is in. So grab your latest PTQ brew, your sports coat, and, of course, plenty of condoms: you’re about to be up to your waist in hot Magic player snatch.

The Introduction

A good first impression can have her panties wet before you’ve finished resolving mulligans (Which will also help you win, as though you were gonna lose to a girl anyway), so you have to bring your A game. Everyone knows that no girl ever has decided on her own to play Magic. They simply lack the intellect and drive to, and that’s okay. It’s obvious that the female opponent sitting across from you was taught to play by a past or current boyfriend. However, you need to operate under the assumption that she is single. Any reference you make to her potentially having a boyfriend is going to make her think that you’re not interested. As such, instead of following your instinct and asking “Are you here with your boyfriend?”, instead you should try asking her “So, are you here with your son?”

This introduction serves a couple purposes. First, by telling her that you could see her as a mother it shows that you find her to be mature and sophisticated, things that all women like. Also, by showing her that you’d be sexually attracted to someone who was old enough to have a Magic playing child it says to her “I may have this creepy beard, but I’m not ACTUALLY a pedophile.”

Everything I Need to Know About Dating a Magic Player I Learned from Master Thief

As the flavour text for Master Thief says, “Possession is ten-tenths of the law.” Darwin started to hint at this, but he said it was a “moral gray area.” Know what? That’s loser talk. Magic players should only date other Magic players, because Magic is an all consuming hobby and the only thing either of you should have time for aside from sex and MAYBE a real job. And Hot Pockets. Lots and lots of Hot Pockets. It’s a well known fact, however, that all female Magic players are dating someone, so you’re going to need to steal someone’s girlfriend. If you can’t be comfortable with that then you don’t deserve to have a girlfriend.

How do you go about stealing someone’s girlfriend? Well you’ve already got their juices flowing with your introduction, so you’re well on your way. During the course of your match with your future fuck toy, you should be sure to flirt using lots of graphic, sexually explicit comments. It’s also important to maintain eye contact with her at all times. Never break eye contact for even a second. Showing this sort of interest will not only make her more comfortable with you, it will let he know that you’re interested in the things she has to say and will be a great listener when she comes home from the beauty parlor and wants to tell you all the gossip she heard.

Except For the Stuff I Learned From Mike Long

It’s okay to cheat, even if everyone is staring right at you while you do it. You’ve won over one girl, and she’s graduated from playing in tournaments to following you around as a cheerleader. Does this mean you shouldn’t steal another guy’s girlfriend right in front of her? Absolutely not! I mean, you already did it with her, so she should’ve known this would happen. Besides, this will only make your first girlfriend even more attracted to you. After all, if other girls are willing to spread their legs for you then you must be pretty damn hot. Having a girlfriend with you will also make it even easier to attract more girls because girls are all catty bitches who have no desires in life besides being artists, photographers, and being hotter than every other girl they meet.

Be Excellent. OR ELSE.

Now that you’ve won over a whole squad of cheerleaders to follow you around at tournaments, it’s time to keep them happy. As has been mentioned, a good way is to take them out to an nice restaurant or for drinks after you win a big event. This will make them equate their happiness with your winning, because once a girl is in a relationship her happiness should revolve solely around you anyway. But how do you remain excellent?

A good way to remain excellent is to beat your girlfriend when you perform poorly in a tournament. She’s already associated you winning tournaments with being happy and celebrating, so it’s time to make her associate you losing tournaments with physical pain. Not only will she cheer extra hard for you at events, she may even be willing to flash your opponent or give them a hand job to distract them while you draw extra cards. This increased desire to see her man win also means you’ll have not only a relationship partner, but a playtesting partner who is available for you 24/7. She can’t afford to see you lose, so if that means replacing foreplay with a few quick practice games and replacing pillow talk with discussing your new brew, then so be it.

It’s also good to note that beating your girlfriend is a good way to next level your competition. All those guys that had been trying to steal her from you at previous events will now find her scars and black eyes to be unsightly, and they will move on to fight over other girls. Suckers.

It’s The Little Things That Count

We’ve covered a lot of the important things already, but I figured I’d throw out a few extra pieces of advice just in case you still are having trouble with the ladies:

  • Be condescending – Girls like confidence in guys. Being condescending to them is a good way to show your confidence in yourself as well as showing them that they have found a truly superior mate.

  • Be the alpha male – Much like in the wild, if someone tries to encroach on your territory you are well within your rights to kill them. Seeing her man take down a challenger will make a woman bend over and present herself immediately. Just remember, you MUST kill them with your bare hands to demonstrate your superiority. If you use a weapon then you’re just some scary murderer she won’t want to date anymore.
  • Dress to unimpress – If you show up to a Grand Prix wearing a tuxedo and try to win a girl over, she’ll think you’re trying too hard. Instead, I recommend sleeping in your clothes from the day before and showing up to the tournament without showering. She’ll instantly be interested in any guy that comes up to talk to her that is so disinterested in how he looks; clearly he must not need to even try to get a girl into bed!
  • Whip it out – Much like a newborn’s instinct to latch onto a nipple for feeding, all girls have the natural instinct to just start sucking any hard cock that is put in front of their face. This may not get her to be your girlfriend, but it will attract the attention of all the other girls in the room who will be wondering “Why was she lucky enough to get this cock, and what do I have to do to get his attention instead?” WARNING: If you are well endowed, make sure that when she gags it isn’t your cards she throws up on.
  • Entrapment – If you start to fear that your girlfriend is going to succumb to the woos of another Magic player, put a baby in her. You may need to poke holes in your condoms or replace her birth control pills with sugar candy, but once you do she’ll never be able to undo it. Unless she’s some sort of sinner.

You are now equipped with all the knowledge you need to go forth into the Magic tournament scene and find some PYT to bring home with you. Go forth into the world and spread your seed!

Letters from Geordie Tait – An Experiment in Group Think

Friday, September 16th, 2011

Warning: I’m probably going to offend you with this article. If you’ve read my stuff before then this is no surprise, but hopefully this will gain momentum beyond my normal readership. If you’ve never read my writing before, consider yourself warned.

Let’s Start at the Beginning

So yesterday a preview link was given to Geordie Tait’s latest article on Star City Games. It wasn’t even on the front page yet, and it was being lauded as the greatest piece of literature since The Bible. Normally I’d link you to the article so you can read it in its entirety before reading this, but you’ve probably already read it, and if you haven’t I’ll spare you the 90 minute read by giving you a brief synopsis. Here’s what his 100,000 word article looked like:

*Note: This article was written as a letter to his non-existent daughter. This is a cute premise, but it’s fucking annoying to read and gets really old, really fast. Luckily, the article is nice and itemized, so I can break it down pretty easily.

1. Introduction – Women are mistreated by all of society, gamers are bad people, and you should probably burn bridges with all your gamer friends; doing so will make you a better person.

2. Part of the Tribe – This is where Tait decides it’s obligatory to wave around his nerd credentials. “I am just like you! You can trust what I say, because I am an actual, card carrying nerd.”

3. #Finkeldate – This is the basis of the entire article. It wasn’t the point that the article was trying to make really, but it was the basis for writing it and was constantly referenced. He describes Alyssa Bereznak’s blog post (in both its iterations) very accurately, but I’m sure you’ve read at least the revised version of her blog post so there’s little point in going into this in detail.

4. The Response – Here Tait describes the response people had. Surprise! Everyone’s response to her blog post was negative. If you read it, you had negative feelings about it too, so don’t fucking lie. He focuses on how many of the comments were about her being a bitch or shallow, and the irony of calling someone shallow then saying that Finkel makes a lot of money. This irony is the first worthwhile point int he article.

5. A Sordid Past – As it turns out, our beloved hero, Geordie, wrote two very angry responses to similar things in 2002 and 2003. At this point he is saying “I WAS just like you, but not any more! Now I’m better! I’m soooo ashamed for what I did, and you should be too!” You see Geordie finally got laid in the interim, and now sexism was WRONG. Those are practically his exact words. He describes how he finally started a serious relationship, and he suddenly felt awful for everything derogatory towards women for any reason. He even says “I was so sick of the avalanche of sexism that I wouldn’t have criticized Alyssa if she’d set Jon on fire during the date,” and I believe him. More on this later.

6. Pride – Here he talks about how gamers have a big sense of pride as a community, but that this blind devotion can be a bad thing. He also reveals a very poignant quote from earlier in the article to have been stated by a juggalo. Of course, because this guy is actually still a giant douchebag despite claiming to be a changed man, he then makes a number of ignorant and bigoted remarks about juggalos without any real understanding of them (Note: I am not a juggalo). More on this later as well.

7. Fear – Basically, all that’s said here is that Alyssa laughed at you so you’re flailing around wildly like a giant pussy crying and trying to deflect your rage and hurt back at her.

8. Bonus Material – Worst name for one of his sections possible. “Bonus material” is the term that was deemed appropriate to describe the only particularly relevant part of this article. This part explains precisely WHY Bereznak would have thought as she did about Magic players, citing a number of quotes and sources, most notably an article written a decade ago by Aaron Forsythe’s wife. This could and should have been the entire article. If it was the core of the article instead of a footnote buried under a metric ton of self-indulgent bullshit, then this response would not be necessary.

9. Conclusion – This is about feminism, and you can make the entire world more tolerant by not flaming women. No matter what they do, women are off limits. He also decides to forgive you all for what you said, and knows that maybe someday you can be better. Like him. When you finally get laid.

“What’s the Big Fuckin’ Deal, Bitch?”

So why do I hate this article? Well aside from being filled with more self-indulgent ramblings than a Tarantino flick, there is a huge problem with the entire article. Before I even get to that, let’s get to the worse part: the response. It’s 1:30 in the morning at this point in time, so I’m not gonna bother making fancy screenshots, but you are welcome to fact check this because it’s all true. Here’s what a couple people said about Geordie Tait’s article yesterday:

Jon Medina (@mtgmedina) – “I’m not one to gush over things but this article truly is insane. I want to take the day off work just to absorb it.” “I haven’t got through the whole thing, but you should feel honored for being part of this awesome article.”

Evan Irwin (@misterorange) – “Geordie Tait knocks it out of the park.”

The vast majority of the MTG community all had similar things to say. It’s the best thing anyone’s even written. However, I’m gonna pop in a time machine for a second and go back to August 29th…

Jon Medina – “I love how the article starts out, ‘I got drunk and made a profile on OK Cupid.’ Were you drunk when you were checking it every 5 mins too?”

Evan Irwin – “Nothing like a tech writer being shocked & appalled at how geeky her date is. Hahaha. So..@Jonnymagic00 1, idiots 0.”

Now, Tait actually has a screenshot of the quote from Evan in his article, but he ignores the condescending tone and the fact that he calls Bereznak an “idiot” at point blank range. There are countless more examples of this, but these are the biggest names that I distinctly remembered talking shit about her and then changing their tone with this article. I’m sure it will take you very little thought to recollect many of your own friends who had the same reaction. This is the most blatant example of group think I have ever seen. The entire community felt the same way: that this girl was a shallow bitch (Or possibly not shallow enough, since she didn’t care that Finkel has money). Suddenly, a respected writer (Or so I’m told. I had honestly never heard of this fucking guy until two days ago) writes something about how ashamed we should all be, and suddenly it’s the greatest thing in the world and we should all be preaching tolerance and love while holding hands and shitting rainbows. Sorry, but I’m not buying it for a second.

Aren’t You Forgetting Something?

As we covered, the entire catalyst for this article was the reaction to Bereznak’s blog post. This was also really the entire premise and focus of discussion. But everyone seems to have forgotten something: she completely deserved it. DO NOT STOP READING. You’re probably thinking some bullshit about how I’m blaming the victim or being an intolerant asshole. However, let’s think about what our friend Alyssa said, and more importantly how she said it. You see, I don’t care that she didn’t want to date a dude that plays Magic. That’s 100% understandable, but picture this scenario:

Instead of going on a date with a Magic player, she went on a date with someone who, after she mentioned that her brother was a gamer, said “Oh, I play World of Warcraft. Actually, I was the first person in the world to hit level 80.” Would anyone be appalled that she ran? Not a fucking chance. Why? Because World of Warcraft ruins lives. If you’re reading this, then you’re a gamer. As a gamer, you have almost certainly lost a friend into the depths of Azeroth for months or even years. Maybe they’re still stuck there. But Magic isn’t like that, right? Magic is a social medium! You know, except for the fact that everyone’s an asshole and at higher levels of competition people have seemingly no interest in any sort of friendly banter. It’s time to face facts though, guys:

Magic is expensive.
Magic is time consuming.
Competitive Magic is even more time consuming.
Magic players are some of the only people in the world who would fly to Paris, the most romantic city in the world, and leave their wives and girlfriends at home. They would rather go alone and never see anything but the inside of a convention center (Or possibly a bar if they 0-2 drop) then go with the love of their life and share a bottle of wine while gazing upon the Eiffel Tower.
Simply put, hardcore Magic players are unattractive and in many ways unavailable.

This was not the tone of the article, however. It was rude, condescending, and outright mean. There were a lot of things that Bereznak could’ve said. She could’ve just said that she didn’t like Magic players. She could’ve mentioned that some guy who, from every picture I’ve ever seen, has the cold, dead stare of a serial killer took her on a first date to see a one man play about a fucking serial killer. She could’ve said that she was desperately wishing she had gone on a date with one of the suitors who had just wanted to get into her pants instead of the one who potentially wanted to wear her skin. She could’ve said that he was boring, and that there was no real spark, attraction, or mutual interest. Instead, she not only talked about how she went on a date with the “champion of the dweebs”, she used his real name. She didn’t go on a date with some random nerd, she went on a date with “Jon Motherfucking Finkel.” Put all this together, and you’re asking for trouble.

I learned a long, long time ago that if you’re going to speak negatively about someone or something on the internet, you need to be prepared for retaliation. Because retaliation IS coming. If you put one of my boys on blast, I’m going to call you out. I’m not going to call you out by saying it wasn’t nice, I’m going to try to emotionally cripple you, because nobody fucks with the people I care about. Not only do most people feel the same way, but a very large percentage of the Magic community considers Finkel (and all pro players, writers, etc.) to be their boy. Alyssa Bereznak punched Jon Finkel in the dick in front of 1,000,000 of his boys, and expected nobody to do anything about it. And according to Geordie Tait, you shouldn’t have.

The Brutal Truth

Now it’s my turn to say something negative about your boy, and time for all of you to flame me. Don’t worry, I’m not gonna cry like a little bitch about it; I’m used to people not realizing I’m right.

There were a couple things I said I wanted to come back to, and now is the time. The first thing I’d like to mention is the total hypocrisy of Tait’s messages in his article. It is okay for Alyssa to talk shit about the entire Magic community from an ignorant and bigoted standpoint. It is apparently okay for Tait to talk shit about juggalos from an ignorant and bigoted standpoint. But God help you if you talk about women from an ignorant and bigoted standpoint! For of all the groups in the world, be they separated by gender, religion, or personal interest, women are the only group which is above reproach.

More importantly, however, is Tait’s entire attitude towards woman, and towards you, the reader. You see, Tait spend a LONG time, I’d venture twice as long as this entire article, explaining that he’s “just like you!” He’s a nerd, he’s said mean things, and he can totally identify with everything you feel. But, you see, he met the love of his life and everything changed. And by the love of his love, I mean the first girl that would let him fuck her. By Geordie’s own admission, he tried from ages 18-28 to have a steady girlfriend with no success. He then met a girl who he dated and married. Maybe he was able to pull off getting laid a few times before then, but the smart money’s on not very often. He even went so far as to say that he wouldn’t criticize Alyssa had she set Jon on fire during their date. While this was meant as hyperbole, I believe there is truth to that. Tait has become so enlightened, so much more so than you are, that he would tolerate any ridiculous, inappropriate behaviour from a woman. It’s actually pretty disgraceful.

What’s more disgraceful, however, is how much better than you he thinks he is. There is an actual statement of forgiveness in the conclusion of his article. “It’s okay that you’re still an unenlightened sexist. I forgive you, for I am God and God is forgiveness. Maybe one day you’ll get laid too, and then you can be as sensitive to the plights of the opposite sex as I am.” Yeah, you’re a real sweetheart. All that happened here was that lifetime loser who was desperate for approval from any woman finally got some for the first time in his entire life, and he’s not willing to risk giving that up even it means throwing all logic and decency out the window, so he wrote a needlessly long diatribe about how cruel gamers are and how you need to be ashamed of your very existence.

And you all bought it. You bought it and you lauded his greatness, because he wrote it for Star City Games. The Dojo was our Torah, Star City Games is our New Testament. Be it decklists or opinion, every published word is infallible. Mob Mentality FTW.

The Best Deck to Ever Debut at 0-3

Monday, May 30th, 2011

So I went to GP Providence on Saturday, and it was an absolutely miserable experience. I had been up drinking until 1 or 2 the night before and had to get up at 7 to drive down. I wasn’t hungover, as I have never been hungover ever, but I apparently still was not playing anywhere near my best. I was going to write the saddest tournament report ever in which I get terrible pairings, come SO close, and fail to win any matches. But that’s not what happened.

You see, my official result was 0-3, but that does not accurately reflect the results of the tournament. My first two rounds were against Merfolk, one of my worst matchups, and the reality of the situation is that I actually won both of those matches. I was describing to my brother how the tournament had gone, and as I described how my first opponent had the perfect hand to beat me game 3 and I STILL almost won, my jaw dropped. I explained the board position and what I thought I needed to topdeck to win, and at that moment I realized what sleep-deprived, dehydrated Jeebus had not: Necromancy cannot be targetted by Cursecatcher. As if that didn’t make me mad enough, I then remembered that’s the exact same reason I lost game 3 of the next round as well. It was a little more complicated and he did have a Force of Will in hand, but I had the win that game as well. (Round 3 was a really good matchup for me, but after keeping marginal hands I drew nothing in either game except the cards that you never want to draw with this deck ever).

So aside from putting me on tilt for 18 hours and counting right now what does that tell me? Well considering what a bad matchup Merfolk should be and the fact that I beat two of them, it’s telling me that this deck is indeed real. My poor performance aside, this deck absolutely has what it takes to be competitive (Although it does need to make room for 2 more Mental Missteps in the maindeck). And now that you’re all done scrolling down and ignoring this, here’s the deck:

Zombie Hulk
3x Ponder
4x Brainstorm

4x Careful Study
4x Entomb

3x Pact of Negation
3x Force of Will
2x Mental Misstep

4x Necromancy
4x Footsteps of the Goryo
4x Protean Hulk
1x Reveillark
1x Body Double
1x Mogg Fanatic
1x Carrion Feeder
1x Body Snatcher

3x Chrome Mox
4x Underground Sea
1x Volcanic Island
1x Badlands
2x Island
1x Swamp
4x Polluted Delta
2x Scalding Tarn
2x Bloodstained Mire

2x Mental Misstep
3x Chain of Vapor
2x Pithing Needle
2x Red Elemental Blast
3x Pyroclasm
3x Energy Flux

About the deck:
The core is pretty much a reanimator deck. I like reanimator, but the problem with those decks are that even after you “combo off”, you still need a couple turns to win. This deck casts a reanimate spell and wins that turn, which is ideally turn 2 or 3, but now that Mental Misstep exists, it appears to be 3 or 4. The deck definitely needs 2 more Missteps main and a better sideboard (I just copied the list from a reanimator deck that placed well at a tournament recently as I had no time to test, and someone else insisted I put Pithing Needle in which is VERY important for Relic of Progenitus).

And there it is, the deck that should have won me a ton of money. Go forth and play it in your legacy events. Just be sure to tell anyone who asks where the deck came from that Jeebus sent you.

It has been brought to my attention that not everyone knows how the combo works. I assumed everyone did, so let me explain:
1. Get Protean Hulk into your graveyard
2. Cast Footsteps of the Goryo or Necromancy (NOT during main phase)
3. EOT or during Cleanup, Hulk goes to the graveyard. Fetch Carrion Feeder and Body Double. Body double copies Protean Hulk.
4. Sac Body Double to Carrion Feeder. Fetch Mogg Fanatic and Reveillark.
5. Sac Mogg Fanatic to deal 1 damage. Sac Reveillark to Carrion Feeder. Return Mogg Fanatic and Body Double copying Reveillark.
6. Sac Mogg Fanatic to deal 1 damage. Sac Body Double to Carrion Feeder, returning Body Double and Mogg Fanatic. Repeat ad infinitum.
7. IF Revillark or Body Double is in your hand (Always shove the combo creatures back into your deck with Brainstorm), instead fetch Body Snatcher at that step. “Imprint” the card in your hand on Body Snatcher, then sac the Body Snatcher to Carrion Feeder.

An Affinity for Affinity

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

I have a long history of being on the unpopular side of arguments. I was surprised to find this was the case when I named cascade as the best ability in extended, because it is. The fact that so many people picked it as the worst ability in extended is solid proof to me that the vast majority of entrants had absolutely no business taking part in the Great Designer Search 2.
Hey look, it's an MTG Commander spoiler!
So once again, I’m on the unpopular side of a debate. Why? Because I think affinity is a great ability and that it needs to come back. Now please don’t misunderstand me, because Ravager Affinity was a terrible thing to happen to standard and I did not play the deck. In fact, I was so adamant in my refusal to play the deck that I said “fuck it” and built a Shared Fate deck. It was a lot of fun, and I even went 3-1 a few times at an extremely competitive FNM venue.

You’re probably confused about how I could love affinity but think that the affinity deck was terrible and refused to play it. The answer is really, really simple: Wizards fucked up affinity BAD. Wizards took a brilliant ability and instead of asking themselves “What is the best way we can use this ability?”, they asked themselves “What is the most impressive way we can use this ability?” which is the worst thing they could have done. Affinity is an unbounded mechanic. Unbounded mechanics scare a lot of people, and rightfully so, because when the most impressive application of them (The one guaranteed to move product), is invariably broken.

So how did affinity go wrong? Logically, the first design space you want to explore would be a group of cards with affinity for themselves. This would be fine had they not chosen this mechanic for an artifact block. Unbounded mana reduction on cards with strictly colourless mana costs results in free spells. Free spells are dangerous. Free spells with no additional cost involved are REALLY dangerous. A bunch of cards that make themselves and each other free (Supplemented with the occasional card that is more powerful based on how many of these such things have been played, undercosted card draw, and cards that make your other spells free and then cycle themselves from play) have too much potential for abuse. Oh yeah, and artifact lands? Wizards let people play with 24 lands in a deck that all produced 2 mana each (Or more, if you played multiple affinity spells in a turn) with absolutely no drawback.

Alright, so we’ve figured out what went wrong. Free spells with no drawback = bad…I mean, unless the spells are awful or inconsequential ala the various baubles. That means the solution is nice and simple, which is just to put affinity on coloured spells so that they can’t become free. There is a lot of design space here, and I think that the ability appearing in Mirrodin resulted in a huge creative roadblock, as there was so much insistence on affinity for artifacts. Above, we can see how one of their new EDH generals is exploring the design space of affinity, even if they forgot to keyword it originally. Here are some other areas of design that could be explored:

Affinity for basic lands
Affinity for cards in your hand
Affinity for creatures
Affinity for [creature type]
Affinity for [card type] in graveyard (As seen above)

Basically, you can have “Affinity for {card type, subtype, supertype} in {zone of play}”. You can also add things like card colour such as “Affinity for white permanents” or card power such as “Affinity for creatures with power 5 or greater”. The legendary creature above also shows how you have have affinity interacting with another ability on the card.

Simply put, there are a lot of options here, and as long as they monitor the ease of acquiring affinity and the minimum cost the card can have (As well as the ease of lowering it. I’m looking and you, artifact lands!) then everything should be fine.