Fuck You, 2007 MTG Vintage World Champion Stephen Menedian
In the upcoming set Magic 2010, there are going to be a few rules changes. One of these rules changes is to eliminate mana burn. I'm against the change because it completely nullifies a lot of cards, strategies, a teaching tool, and a huge flavour aspect of the game. I was going to be upset but just let it go until I started seeing the arguments in favour of removing mana burn, because they're all terrible. There was an article written by Stephen Menedian for Star City Games in which he said mana burn should go away, and this article is being quoted like it's fucking gospel. The reality is that the article provides no good reasoning for doing it, and shows that Mr. Menedian is using his status as a pro player to push his own agenda (While he has no official connection with R&D, getting enough people to very vocally support his cause is something that R&D will take note of). I wrote a rather lengthy post on the MTG salvation forums regarding his argument that is being treated as infallible, and I thought it was worth sharing with everyone. The passages in smaller text are quotes from his article:
"First, it simplifies the rules. Explaining mana burn to new players is like explaining herpes to teenagersÖ itís just grating. The rules of Magic are already ridiculously complex. Teaching people how to play Magic is challenging enough. One less rule that isnít intuitive is a good thing."
I don't give a fuck if he's the world champion in ever format for the last 10 years, those arguments are actually pretty terrible:
Explaining herpes to teenagers teaches them that there are repercussions to their actions if they aren't careful, and so does mana burn. If a new player decides to attack with all their creatures because they have an unblockable creature and all of their other creatures die in combat without taking anything out, they will realize that they need to be more careful in planning their combat phase. Without mana burn there is nothing to teach them to be more careful when casting spells in general.
"Second, it will save time. Players who donít want to bluff and donít want to worry about how they tap every last little bit of mana and can just float the whole of their available mana and then play out from there. I know many players wonít do this, but for those that will, the rule will save time. And in the long run, that will save time for everyone."
How will this save everyone time? If you're at the point where you couldn't be bothered to tap your lands correctly then you shouldn't be playing competitively, so this will only save your friends at the kitchen table time. It's not even about bluffing, it's about being prepared. What if your opponent makes you draw cards during their turn or has an effect that you can pay mana towards or to counter? I would worry more about making those people better players and less about enabling their bad habits. The more you encourage people to play poorly, the less likely they are to start playing competitively. (If you show up to a PTQ with all your bad habits and go 0-8, for many people that would be their last PTQ)
"Third, mana burn is a stupid way to win a game. In Magic, most cards have trade-offs, either by their presence for the cost for their benefit. For instance, City of Brass trades a point of life at each tap for the advantage of being able to get whatever color you want. Taking damage from City is something you incur because you want the benefit. Taking damage from mana burn Ė or worse, losing a game from mana burn Ė is awful. Mana Burn is one of the lamest ways to lose life."
This is 100% subjective. What if I think mana burn is not only NOT lame, but the most impressive way to lose? What if I think that combat damage is the lamest way to lose life because it's so banal and uncreative? Also, City of Brass trades a point of life for each tap in exchange for getting whatever colour you want IF you're left to your own devices. Since we're not playing solitaire, however, your opponent can make you take damage by tapping your City of Brass with an Icy Manipulator or the like. Cards have the ability to backfire on you because of the presence of your opponent, much like having a pool full of mana and nothing to do should be able to backfire. If I'm playing a bunch of rituals to ramp up my mana in my storm deck and then my opponent plays Orim's Chant, I'm boned, and I SHOULD be boned. This leads me to the perfect analogy of mana burn:
Mana burn makes complete sense, and has always made sense. It encourages people to play better, and is flavourful. In my storm/Orim's Chant scenario, I'm playing a masturbation deck. I was getting ready to blow my load, and then my opponent completely cock blocked me. So what is the final result? Do I just say "Oh well" and try again next turn with absolutely no repurcussions other than a little loss of tempo? Every guy over the age of 12 on this forum knows that's not what happens. The actual result of this Orim's Chant? Blue Balls. If you don't know what that feels like, I assure you it's extremely painful and probably quite similar to what mana burn would feel like.
"Fourth, it would improve Vintage. The two primary effects, in my view, would be this: First of all, Mana Drain gets better. You wonít have to worry about taking mana burn in your second mainphase or on your next main phase if you donít use the mana. This wonít actually change the use of Drain that much. Part of the reason to get people to play Mana Drain in their second mainphase isnít so that theyíll take mana burn but so that theyíll be bottlenecked and have to squander their additional mana. It wonít tactically change the timing so much as just remove a silly cost to the card. The second area in which mana burn comes up is in Workshop decks that play Spheres. When a Workshop deck has turn 1 Sphere of Resistance and turn 2 Sphere, it sometimes takes mana burn there. Workshops will get slightly stronger as a result. Then there are a number of smaller benefits that add up to a lot: Lionís Eye Diamond becomes even better. If you are tapping all of your permanents down to a Tangle Wire or sacrificing them to a Smokestack on your upkeep, there will be no reason in your upkeep not to just tap the cards for and float the mana into your draw step. It would change Vintage, but only make it better. Iíve won Vintage matches because my opponent mana burned, especially with Mana Drain which they forgot about."
So now we get to the REAL argument that this vintage player has. What this guy is saying isn't "Mana burn is bad for Magic". What he's saying is "I DON'T LIKE MANA BURN, SO EVERYONE SHOULD DO AS I SAY". Getting rid of mana burn would make the cards he likes (Mana Drain, Mishra's Workshop, Lion's Eye Diamond) better. These cards don't need to be better, and Mana Drain doesn't deserve to be STRICTLY better than Counterspell. Mana Drain is amazing, but it needs its downside. Getting rid of mana burn would also make cards he dislikes (Smokestack, Tangle Wire) worse. The argument is consistent with itself as well. With City of Brass, he explains that there is a tradeoff. You take a damage because you want the benefit of mana fixing from City of Brass. In the Tangle Wire/Smokestack example, however, there is NO tradeoff. You have no cards in your hand worth playing, but need to tap all your lands to Tangle Wire. Do you tap them for mana instead? The answer should be MAYBE. Under his no mana burn rules, the answer is always yes. But where's the tradeoff? Your mana is useless to you unless you draw a card during your draw phase that you can cast. This is a gamble, a chance. We know in Magic that gambles can have negative effects. Cards like Gamble, Game of Chaos, Frenetic Efreet, and Karplusan Minotaur have abilities based on random chance. If they work out for you, awesome. If they don't, there is a negative effect. As tapping your lands for mana with Tangle Wire out is a gamble, so should there be a negative effect for the gamble not working out in your favour.
Honestly, this guy's arguments are no more convincing, and his credentials are meaningless. He said he's won matches when opponents forget to use their mana from Mana Drain and burn to death. Know what? If you spend $400 on a playset of Mana Drains and then lose matches because of it YOU'RE A FUCKING IDIOT. Learn to play your own goddamn cards. If you lose to mana burn because you couldn't use the mana, that sucks for you but that's the intended drawback of the card. If you lose because you're retarded, then tough shit.
The ONLY legitimate argument I've seen so far regarding eliminating mana burn is to let them make more cards like Pulse of the Forge and Pulse of the Field, and that small bit of design space isn't worth the nightmare that this will cause.
I wonder if the wording in my blue balls analogy is vulgar enough to result in my 3rd suspension from that site in two months!
R&D needs to give me a fucking job
© 2009 by Dr. Jeebus