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.

*People often neglect to count their deck as part of their bankroll, when its liquidity should make it part of that.

Today with my mother, we discussed my father’s previous addictions. When they started dating he enjoyed the trio of tobacco, alcohol, and cocaine, and since then has has (admirably/to his credit/etc) kicked the trinity entirely. Which isn’t to say that he danced away into bunnylandistan of Addiction-Free-Me; instead of drinking himself to tears once a week and spending everything on King of Beer while my mother was alone home with a smaller version of myself, he went to constant AA meetings, buried himself in their literature and knee-high stacks of Guitar Player while spending his money on guitars/amps/fuzzboxes/etc.

“I need a drug” was his explanation.

AFAIK he was never a real gambler, though. Previous members of my family were. I don’t know their specific stories. Invent your own.

At any given time, I’ll always have a thing. A thing that consumes roughly 90% of my usually-plentiful free time. At the moment I’m working four days a week, in class four, zero neither. It’s a different feeling not being consumed.

The process of having one (1) thing makes it difficult to attempt to establish a consistent readership for myself, due to to the inherent inconsistency. Who would read a daily blog on Elves (and only Elves) for two weeks, followed by two weeks of PC game reviews, followed by two weeks of hip-hop reviews? Substitute Starcraft 2 strategy or noise rock or anything.

Drafting online is perfectly suited for a gambling fiend. 3 packs + 2 tix, spin the roulette. Get the high or the letdown within thirty seconds of seeing the pack. Then slowly diminishing hits, each pack a little more Arm & Hammer than the last until the mellow disappointment of the dregs of the pack. Repeat for two more packs. Then each game won heightens anticipation, each loss heightens anxiety, but they feel the same.

Opponent: turn three Moltensteel Dragon


Me: beat down w/ Ardent Recruits till opponent concedes


Opponent: turn five Thopter Assembly


Three packs two tickets fuck that guy fuck fuck YES Batterskull. Etc etc etc

Rosewater (paraph): Timmy, Johnny, Spike. Experience something/express someth/prove smth. I grew up making weird decks built around weird cards or ideas (first deck built as a result of specific planning: UG Confiscate/Dominate/Bribery/etc) though it was mostly an honest attempt to win, if occasionally on My Terms. First deck I ever built not of my own design: Tight Sight, which I won’t go into the workings of too deeply but it was a bizarre UG Future Sight combo deck that won by decking itself then infinitely recurring Early Harvest then Predict to kill. Really a gorgeous piece of machinery in deck form. What I’m getting to is that I’m apparently a Spike/Johnny with nothing to express or prove through the game and I think Timmies are horrid people that should shut up always so his classification system (like all such pseudopsychological grid-based systems) is total bullshit. Men are from Mirrodin women are from Vesuva. Just the very assumption that people enjoy Magic for different reasons and in different ways is wrong, since there are people that play a whole lot of Magic without enjoying it. It’s just there.

Rosewater (paraph (himself paraph his college writing prof)): what unites all the decks you make/all the decks you play? For a lot of people this answer should be pretty obvious and if you just say that you “play the best deck” you’re wrong because you can play the best deck in such a vast number of different ways and I don’t mean in-game; which version do you use? Did you change it or use someone else’s 75? Test it yourself? Who’re you trying to beat with it? Was it even the best version in the room, really?

My decks are all reasonable gambles. I’m not going all in on 00 but if you give me a favorable coin flip? Definitely. Fuck all the decks that go to turn 30 with a way to win practically every game if you play it right, I need the rush from a turn three combo or at the very least a turn three five-drop. When I first started playing combo decks at tournaments, I would try to stop myself from smiling on the turn I went off. That was unsuccessful. I would involuntarily shake as I beamed down at the cards and go through the combo, whether it was Heartbeat or Desire or anything else. I’ve mostly stopped the smiling and shaking, from going through the motions so often on Magic Online if nothing else. No other type of deck gives that sort of rush. Sometimes after a close Limited game, I’ll begin the next game feeling terrible before I rack my brain to remember that I actually won in the end. Doesn’t make it very satisfying, personally.

Rosewater assumes in his analysis that all three player types want to interact in some way with their opponents, or at least their Magic-playing friends. I dislike interacting with most Magic players. That’s not what makes the game fun for me.


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