Monday, December 5, 2011

a guide to card pimping

A bunch of people are writing a lot about how to pimp your decks. This leads a lot of people to ask, "how can I make my cards as deliciously pimped-out as these?" Well, since you're completely ignorant about everything, I'll tell you.

A pimped card is one that is more expensive, because money makes things better. If you disagree, it's because you're poor.

We'll start with a card that I chose completely at random and ~pimp it out~

It's fairly bent, and overall not in great condition.

More importantly, it's a common, and therefore worth nothing to anyone. This makes this card "a piece of shit."

The first step in pimping it is to make it more tasteful. Since sleeves are used to hold expensive cards sometimes, I put it in a sleeve.

Next, we need to surround it with things that will make it look expensive and like some sort of decoration in a rich person's house, because rich people can throw money at things to make them "pimp." A candelabra is pretty pimp, because it's shiny and costs money. (This is the basic reason that promotional foils are pimp.)

This isn't enough, though; we need our card not to be simply placed upon something slightly pimp, but completely surrounded by class and luxury. In the following picture, our soon-to-be-pimp card is placed upon a lace doily, next to a glass of expensive bourbon, a magazine about horse breeding, a guide to wines of the world, and an original pressing of The Velvet Underground & Nico (if you haven't heard of that album and especially if you don't have a vinyl copy, then you might as well forever stop trying to pimp your cards, scrubbo).

This isn't good enough, though, because that spread would be a bit awkward to carry around and present every time we need to cast the card in EDH (by far the most pimp format, because deck size is bigger = more cards = more money = better than). We need something to pimp it out in the sleeve, so I put a $20 bill in. NB that $100 bills are extremely un-pimp because they're associated with actual pimps.

Hell yeah now THAT is a pimp card, even if it's only $20. I tried to put more in the sleeve but it kept breaking so I'll just lay it out here on some nice china. The money shown should be sprinkled liberally through the cards that are put into any deck containing this. Then people will go "wow! That's a lot of money! You must be a better person and it'll be more worthwhile to listen to you talk about Magic!"

Our work here is done. I hope you enjoyed this article on how to pimp a card, pimp pimp pimp pimp pimp pimp pimp pimp pimp.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

podcast, episode one: odyssey

This podcast was recorded ten years from now.

MP3 download here (mediafire link)

Monday, November 28, 2011

a style parody of matt sperling and michael j flores

Yeah, I’m losing my edge

I’m losing my edge

But I was there

I was there in 1994

I was there at the first Mirage booster draft playtests in Renton

I’m losing my edge

I’m losing my edge to the EDH players whose laughter I hear after round two

I’m losing my edge to the SCG grinders who can tell me every card played in Cawblade from June through the banning

I’m losing my edge

To all the foreign pros

I’m losing my edge to the casual players with Monster binders and ten thousand dollar versions of Ghost Dad

I’m losing my edge

But I was there

I was there at the first practice games at the beach house

I didn’t want to lend Herberholtz my Overgrown Tombs, so I gave him Stomping Grounds instead

 I made top eight at a PTQ where Conley played Death Cloud

I told him, don’t build such weird decks. You’ll never win a match

I cut Flamentongue Kavu from my Standard decks because it died to Flamentongue Kavu

I was there in 2002 testing the Pyschatog mirror against Carlos Romao

He never resolved a Fact or Fiction

I was there

I was the first guy drafting Dampen Thought

I drafted it at Neutral Ground

They know now

I was there

I’ve never punted

I was there on StarCityGames when Chapin wrote an article where he took a judge’s order to stay away from E a bit literally

I joined an Invitational draft on Magic Online and they didn’t know how to kick me out

I was there when Bertoncini won his first M11 draft with Ant Queen

I was there on MTGSalvation when Gavin Verhey infracted someone for posting a decklist with Damnation

But I’m losing my edge to better-informed players with better mana curves and different draft archetypes that are actually really, really really good

I’m losing my edge

I heard you quit Magic when damage didn’t use the stack, and again after the Organized Play changes

I heard you have every gold-bordered World Championship deck, altered to have black borders, then altered back because it was worth more originally

I heard you have every piece of tech Gerry Thompson has ever withheld from his articles

I heard you have a cube made only of cards that made other people stop playing cube

I hear that you’re buying a Sol Ring, Capture of Jingzhou, and an Emrakul, and are trading away your Snapcasters, because you want to play a fun deck

You want to play Vintage Teachings

I hear that you and your team have sold your Jaces and bought Doubling Seasons

I hear that you and your team have sold your Doubling Seasons and bought Jaces

I hear that every deck you play is more skill-intensive than every deck that I play

But have you seen my binder?

Incite, Island Sanctuary, Ernham Djinn, Protean Hulk, Stifle, Fluctuator, Crimson Acolyte, Ignite Memories, Tarnished Citadel, Arcane Denial, Demonic Consultation, Ironclaw Orcs, Pyrokinesis, Olivia Voldaren, Battlefield Scrounger, Snap, Pillory of the Sleepless, Attunement, Wall of Blossoms, Scorched Rusalka, Exile into Darkness, Desperate Ravings, Corpse Dance, Dralnu, Skyshroud Poacher, Dream Halls, Skirge Familiar, Manriki-Gusari, Abeyance, Cadaverous Bloom, Lightning Helix (just flip it…), Knight of Stromgald, Saffi Eriksdotter, Cruel Ultimatum, Plow Under, De! Ranged! Hermit! Covetous Dragon, Ebony Owl Netsuke, Serra Avatar, Goblin Bombardment, Barbed Lightning, Threads of Disloyalty, Swans of Bryn Argoll, Recurring Nightmare

Recurring Nightmare

Recurring Nightmare

Recurring Nightmare

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lend Your Cards!

There are so many articles about MTG finance and trading and how to maximize value out of the game by acting in a completely self-interested manner. This is not one of those. This article is about why you- yes, you- should immediately lend way more cards at Magic tournaments. I don’t mean just to close friends and teammates, though that’s obviously fine. I mean friends-of-friends, people in competing playgroups, that guy you saw Top Eight once, the guy who knocked you out of the last tournament, and little Timmy at his first FNM. And not just a couple uncommons here and there: I want you to start the first round of the GP with your binder spread out through the tournament hall, those dual lands and Snapcasters beign put to good use. Not just that, but you should take the first step in offering to lend these people cards.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

an open letter to magic players, by planeswalker points

Dear Players,

Hey. I know we didn’t get along at first, and that a lot of you don’t like me that much. That’s cool. Some of you aren’t any hot shakes yourself. Not pointing fingers or anything, just saying.

The point is that we’re stuck with each other for a while. Cool, huh? Yeah, thought so.

So. Remember that time you tried to get rid of me? Right. Fun times, fun times. How’d that turn out for you?

Oh, that’s right. You failed miserably. Because you’re a fucking whiny cauldron of baby cries that explodes into tears if the fucking frames change for a single goddamned set, with your pitch never changing from “earsplitting,” so Wizards is used to hearing the same “we’re all quitting” bullshit every time a single thing changes. Remember damage on the stack? Yeah, you yelled up a shitstorm about that one. Bosses actually caught word of that. They rolled their eyes and continued with their actual business making actual money.

Oh no, you say. You really, REALLY mean it this time. This change REEEAAALLLLY sucks.

Well then. Sucks to be you, because it sounds the same to me. But what do I know, I’m a noncorporeal system set up to distribute incentives.

You think your silly little letter is going to get this huge change reversed? The one that was obviously approved by businesspeople that don’t play Magic, and therefore don’t give a shit what a Magic player thinks? Sign whatever fucking name you want to it. They don’t know who you are. Hey, remember that huge change to Magic that was reversed due to immediate public outcry from the community?

No. No you do not. Because nothing gets reversed like that because of a few players bitching. Because players are always bitching.

And now, guess what? After all that complaining, they made some changes. And what were those changes? I’m more important than ever.

Ha ha ha. See what happened? You complained about how the system was weird with me around. So it got changed. And the changes made me more important than ever. Funny, isn’t it? It’s funny to me, at least. Humor is subjective.

So. Then. The point here (aside from me! Haw haw!) is that I’m not going away. Live with it.

Oh sure. You might get a change here and there. But I’m here to stay.



The Planeswalker Points System

Friday, October 7, 2011

gp montreal postmortem at goodgamery

My long-awaited (by me) report from GP: Montreal is up at GoodGamery. 

"You find yourself in a modern-looking train station that, due to lack of windows, could be hundreds of feet below ground or directly under the foot of some Francophone Godzilla, and you would be none the wiser until your life ends in its footprint. You’d still be none the wiser after that happens, being dead."

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

writing about magic: a style guide

Magic players are mostly smart people. This isn’t just audience flattery on my part or marketing by Wizards, it’s probably measurable by a bunch of people that are too busy doing actual work to measure it. Because of this raw intelligence, us smartypantses probably put vanishingly small amounts of effort into high school English, and got good/bad grades in spite of/because of the not caring. Personally, I wrote most of my essays the morning they were due, and got mostly A’s on those papers because I could put words together without making the teacher fly into a grammatically-induced rage; I doubt my experience was unique. Unfortunately for y’all, that teacher was trying to teach some shit that’s reasonably important about How To Write A Thing, and reading a lot of Magic articles doesn’t show much evidence that it seeped through the heads of Magic players into their brainplaces.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

a response to "dating and magic," by garruk wildspeaker

Now, apparently some dude tried to school y'all in "Dating and Magic." Garruk basically thought the guy's head in a place it shouldn't be, basically inside his butt.

Garruk met this guy one time. True facts. Dude was wearing some weird shiny black shirt and some like rainbow-colored armband. Looked like he was going to a funeral in unicorn land.

He made a list and Garruk will basically go down the same thing, talk about what y'all should actually know from it. Should help.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

this is not a kneejerk reaction to the planeswalker points system

I’m not going to write about the new Planeswalker Points system. Yes, it’s a fundamental change to an element of Magic that’s gone mostly un-fucked-with for quite some time now. It also gives us a new number to slap down on the table for all to admire. Is it a good system long-term? I don’t know. It doesn’t rate who the best players are, that’s for sure, but it’s not really designed to do that. Will it drive more people to play competitively more often, thus spending more time and money on Magic? That’s the hope, obviously. It probably will.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

obligatory alyssa bereznak response post

The Alyssa Bereznak post is the first true crossover hit between the Magic: the Gathering community and greater nerddom. For those of y’all that have, hopefully, streamed in with millions of your average-joe friends to read this fascinating piece of writing you have before you, what you have to understand is shit like this just doesn’t happen. Magic news is for Magic people. We’re comfortable in our little bubbles and don’t venture outside of them too often unless we’re really hungry and the Burger King is right there.

Monday, August 22, 2011

deck choice (a response to pvddr)

There is a very good chance that you are not Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa. Not only, chances are, do you not have his sweet name, you are not as successful a player as PV. This means that you are under no obligation to choose a deck for your next tournament in the same way that PV does.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

a review of newly-banned cards in modern (by garruk wildspeaker)

Alright so y’all punks’ve been talking about this “Modern” format when first of all, let’s get this out of the way, Garruk Wildspeaker AKA Garruk, Primal Hunter doesn’t do this “Modern” shit. Garruk is old school. “Ooh Garruk you absolutely must experience the exquisiteness of this piece of furniture of the utmost modernity that I’ve concocted from the newest metallic alloys” shut the hell up Tezzeret, your arm’s a chicken wing. Garruk wants a format called “back in the day.” In that format, y’all do some silly shit and Garruk clocks you over the head for looking at Garruk funny. Cut that shit out. But people keep asking Garruk about oh, what does Garruk think of the Modern banned list, well let’s take a look. This isn’t planned. Garruk just does. Gets shit done in a hurry.

Monday, August 15, 2011

tournament dialogue part 2

“It was lying there under a McDonalds wrapper but instead of Big Mac it had all these neatly-typed words and numbers on it. 4 Pattern of Rebirth. 1 Academy Rector. Some number of Protean Hulk. Etc. It had some french dude’s name on it and we’re sitting there just trying to make sense of the damn thing and it takes us a while but I have some experience with Protean Hulk-based decks so I can sort of kinda tell what’s going on? So we’re mostly doing our neanderthalesque headscratching and some kid from a card shop I used to play at comes over. HEY MAN WHAT’S UP. WHAT’RE YOU PLAYING. And I want him to piss off so I say that it’s a secret and he keeps nagging me about it so I say, well, sorry ‘bro’ but I don’t just give away my decklist for free, this is a capitalist society and-”

Monday, August 8, 2011

why is mtg salvation bad?

Pt 1: Overview

Commonly-held opinions don’t always get written down. Not in any sort of persuasive form, at least. Usually just in passing, just in reference to some other thing that not quite everyone knows. It is probably this somewhat-admirable avoidance of the obvious that has kept MTG Salvation from having critical articles written about it, like any new set or card would; That and the fact that it’s not a Magic card. Magic writers don’t tend to write about Magic-related things that often unless they are formats, sets, cards, or players. Even in describing players, writers usually just use different words for “good” because if they were bad, no one would have heard of them.

Monday, August 1, 2011

the rise and fall of commander

Commander went through some fairly large shifts, not in gameplay (gameplay shifts would have been inexcusable) but of how its community interacted both within itself and with the larger Magic community. Once it gained enough popularity to shed its original-and-way-cooler-sounding-but-not-as-acceptable-to-Wizards Elder Dragon Highlander/EDH nomenclature, the community, in a way both shocking in hindsight and almost eerily foreshadowing, zealously removed all references to Elder Dragon Highlander/EDH in time for the official Wizards Commander product, so much so that all columns were edited in a stereotypically Eurasia-esque way to talk about “Commander,” and anyone mentioning EDH would get a faux-confused look that was somewhat spooky to the recipients. After that is when Commander people got real organized.

Monday, July 25, 2011

BOOK: grinder: the brad nelson story, by rich hagon

(Note: if you're unfamiliar with the book, here's an explanation.)

After the success of Johnny Magic and the Card Shark Kids, it was inevitable that someone within the Magic community would write another book about a pro player with the intention of giving those with no knowledge of the Magic pro scene a glimpse inside this difficult-to-penetrate lifestyle. Potential authors, once they know that Grinder: the Brad Nelson Story by Rich Hagon exists, will probably stay away.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

why i want to fuck mark rosewater

Mark Rosewater once wished that writers would review sets from a more holistic perspective rather than going card-by-card,* and it’s an interesting enough idea until the issue of how much Magic sets differ from other forms of art that are reviewed. He’s definitely right in that sets should be looked at through the lens of whether they’re well-designed sets instead of just useful; if these were music reviews we’d all be talking about how useful the bass it as driving away squirrels from our houses and giving it a de-squirreling score out of ten (with ten being Wonderful Rainbow by Lightning Bolt).

Monday, July 11, 2011

how to make yr tournament reports slightly less boring

Congratulations, you did Something Moderately Noteworthy at a recent tournament and now you want to throw some words up on a screen so that we can all be envious of your immense Magic- and writing-related skills. The biggest issue with this plan is that most tournament reports are unbelievably uninteresting and can somehow turn high-intensity situations with thousands of dollars on the line into what resembles a summary of your aunt’s weekend spent “antiquing.” Example:

This match was against Valakut, which is a good matchup for me. Game one a mulligan is taken but my hand is pretty good after that. I have pretty good early pressure and he is killed by it within six or seven turns. After sideboarding, he starts out with some mana accelera

Friday, July 8, 2011

scg writer roundup

Patrick Chapin

Style: enthusiastic descriptions that make no sense whatsoever- so he can be viewed either as a version of Evan Erwin that has played nonzero games of Magic or as a schizophrenic professor that wildly oscillates between theories that won them the Nobel prize a dozen years back and the rantings that had them institutionalized six months after said prize. Talks about levels a lot. Popularized the phrase “semi-soft lock,” often used to describe the feeling of eating a DQ Blizzard.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

m13 review

Now that the entirety of M13 has been spoiled and the momentousness of Wizards’s product has begun to set in, the usual deluge of reviews will start. While it is difficult to write a true set review for the latest creation of lead designer Pierre Menard, the difficulty that mainstream Magic writers have in describing the changes it will have on the format is, in itself, a shining endorsement of Wizard’s new theories on how to change the most about the game by changing the least. For so long, the pendulum of how many new cards are in sets has been swinging toward the side of lots of new things (or at least things that had not been seen in a while), epitomized by the M10 change to core sets.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

an awed critique of gerry thompson

Gerry Thompson is one of the most brilliant people that currently writes about the game or builds decks, which is part of what makes him occasionally frustrating for me to read. It’s not because his decks, advice, or general tech is bad, because I certainly haven’t done the weeks of testing necessary to refute something he says. In fact, I’ll go ahead and assume that when Gerry tells the audience a card is good in a certain situation, it really is. Instead, what’s frustrating is that he never lets us in on the underlying theory that would let the plebeians figure all this out for ourselves. Several writers (Zvi, Lapille, most recently Sacher) have referenced the old cliche about learning to fish versus receiving fish, and Thompson seems way on the side of giving out heaps of the highest-quality deep-blue-water savory fish known to mankind and not letting the rest of us even see the boat. Show us the boat Gerry. We want to understand it.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

tournament dialogue part 1

“And I’m sitting there arms-crossed with my hand on the table looking at the matches on either side of me because that’s the proper response to an opponent resolving a Top activation during his upkeep for like the third turn in a row and way more interesting than this dude furrowing his brow over and over is the match to my right where this woman has taken her deck out of a box that says in label-maker-text ‘ANT’ and she’s playing mono-red burn against this Goblins player right. And this is the first game and she’s just crushing him with Lava Spikes and Bolts that go to his head at EOT instead of his turn-one Lackey, she was on the play, and then he’s tapped out she’s at fourteen or whatever he has the three creatures he’s had time to play before he’s down to two life and she untaps draws a land to go with her in-hand Bolt, Magma Jet, and she passes the turn back to him right after dropping the land and either she was just trying to tilt him majorly or she was just told always cast things at EOT instead of-”

Monday, July 4, 2011

magic players are straight white males

A few weeks ago an article about Magic players and their treatment of women made the rounds to mostly positive reception. One of the reasons I mostly dislike it is that it seems to ignore what I feel are the more interesting issues: why are Magic players such morons around women, and why are nearly all Magic players male?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

my elves

Legacy Elves is not very good. It has bad matchups against some of the best decks, and fairly difficult ones against some of the combo decks. I play it because it's the deck I'm best at, so it gives me better results than anything else. Is it the best deck in a format where people are playing Pernicious Deed, Stoneforge Mystic, and Grim Lavamancer? Of course not, have you READ those cards? Good lord they're incredible.

The rest of this assumes that, for whatever reason, you still want to play Elves and know how the basic deck works (Glimpse draws cards! Elves make mana!).

Saturday, July 2, 2011


Playing Elves on Magic Online made me realize how I could lose my house at a casino. Until recently playing constructed was, at best, a slow profitable crawl where it was impossible to wager more of one’s bankroll than professorial poker experts advised, because it took hours to play out a $6 event and one couldn’t do much else at the same time.* Gold queues, as the metallic name indicates, bring the smoky world of higher-stakes gambling to the nickel-and-dime world of online Magic.