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.