Monday, January 19, 2015

kill reviews addendum: planeswalkers

The best way to think about Planeswalkers is that they’re aliens. While they might be printed with the set whose icon adorns them, they are not of the set. They are from elsewhere, and everything about them, from their mechanics to their name and aesthetic highlights their other-ness.

Their debut in Lorwyn certainly stunned the playerbase like a visit from extraterrestrials: a combination of “what the fuck?” to “where do we go from here,” then a lot more thinking, then back to “what the fuck?”

Sunday, January 18, 2015

kill reviews: alara block

Hope you enjoyed all the chat about Lorwyn and Shadowmoor, because this thing's about to get sad.

During Alara block’s time in Standard, many tournament players played in events using Jund, in a format where it was the only good deck, in order to grind against other Jund decks that varied by no more than two cards. This illustrated to me the great importance of having non-Magic hobbies to fall back on.

steve argyle: one of the worst artists in magic's history

Most modern Magic art is pretty good. More specifically, it varies from “eh” to “that’s kinda cool,” with very little deviation therein. The strict style guides, combined with art direction that seems to be aimed at creating a generic house style for Magic, have pushed out most of the truly unique artists from the game. There are a few holdovers, namely Terese Nielsen, whose art direction often invents ways of saying “make something that looks like Terese Nielsen art.” There are some recognizable styles, like Raymond Swanland’s “ALL SPIKE EVERYTHING,” the logical conclusion of Magic art trying to be as badass and masculine as possible.

And there’s Steve Argyle, who’s fucking awful.

Monday, January 5, 2015

kill reviews: shadowmoor mini-block

pt i: this isn’t about magic so just scroll on past if that’s what you’re here for

I’ve been procrastinating writing about Shadowmoor and Eventide for a pretty basic reason: I didn’t play with it. This is also true of every block before Urza’s (and I had a pretty sketchy grasp of everything before Onslaught, really), but that was easily solved by looking at the cards, seeing how they influenced things that came later, and introducing people to these usually-obscure objects.

The sets we didn’t play with can influence us more than the sets we did. Missing a year in Magic means not seeing what decks were around, what cards were popular, what mechanics were pushed to the point of everyone being tired of them… we’re more likely to go “ooh, neat” to a tier-one deck from a time in Magic we skipped, because it wasn’t piloted by the obnoxious smelly wheezy dude at FNM for six months straight, but we also miss out on the nostalgia of some tier-two deck that did something completely bizarre.