Mountain + Black Lotus + Channel = 20-Point Fireball!!!
1) After reviewing my review of Ravnica: City of Guilds, I realized there were a few things I wanted to rate in the set that didn't quite fit with the quote format of my review. So I've taken the liberty to rate the best and worst of the set based on all the non-play factors.
- Best Art: Reroute – Not a lot of instants can show exactly how the card works in the art. This one does it perfectly and is even sort of funny in a morbid way.
- Worst Art: Birds of Paradise – That has got to be the ugliest Bird of Paradise I've ever seen in my life. And it's not even that colorful. Apparently the new BoP only produces pink and yellow mana.
- Best Flavor Text Runner-Up #1: Birds of Paradise – "Long ago, birds of paradise littered the skies. Thanks to the city’s sprawl, most now exist as pets of society’s elite." This one speaks to all the long-time Magic players who remember BoP as just a powerless flying elf. Of course, when everyone realized how good they really were, the birds became insanely hard to get.
- Best Flavor Text Runner-Up #2: Clinging Darkness – "There’s an experience worse than blindness—it’s the certainty that your vision is perfect and the horror that there’s no world around you to see." This is just solid, powerful writing. Eerie idea and excellently described.
- Best Flavor Text: Hex – "When killing five just isn’t enough." The flavor text for Hex just fits perfectly with the name, casting cost, and ability. It's also sort of funny.
- Worst Flavor Text: Greater Mossdog – "Man’s best fungus." Is this even supposed to be funny? It's not even a good pun (e.g. "Golgari pets can be a lot of fungus"). It's just stupid.
2) Here's a great idea for all those pro players out there trying to make a little more money: Decks on Tape. Instead of charging premium money for people to read your decklists online, record them to an audio tape or sound file. Then charge super-premium money so people can hear the deck's most successful player list all the cards in the deck. Just imagine the possibilities: Mike Long reading Prosperous Bloom! Jon Finkel reading Tinker! Daniel Zink reading Wake! Kai Budde reading whatever-the-hell deck he's ever won anything with! Who wouldn't want these? (Note: don't answer that) All I ask for is a 10% cut.
3) And if you think I'm joking, you must not have seen the Magic Goes Podcast announcement on October 26. We can now hear Randy Buehler preview Pro Tour-Los Angeles and Aaron Forsythe talk about Ravnica's impact on Extended! Thank god for Podcast or some poor Magic player might have been forced to read.
4) One time, when I was playing an online 6-person free-for-all, someone made fun of me for playing with Shell of the Last Kappa, so I killed him with a Fireball.
Of course, when he started making fun of me, I tried to explain how great Shell of the Last Kappa is. I told him all the pros were using it and offered to sell him mine for four tickets. Someone else in the game said they thought you could buy them among junk rares: two or three for one ticket. I told him he was probably thinking of Shell of the First Kappa, which sucks. Still no sale, though.
5) Will some of the cards in Coldsnap feature alternate artwork? I counted 56 cards having more than one piece of art available in Alliances, the second Ice Age expansion. To give Coldsnap that truly "classic" feel, about one third of the set should have more than one version of the art.
6) A couple weeks ago, Ted Knutson, editor at StarCityGames, wrote an article about writing articles about Magic. He described seven levels of Magic writing, from "n00bism" to "The Quan" and gave some examples of writers at each level. Apparently, the only way to become one of the best Magic writers in the world is to either write for StarCityGames or be Mark Gottlieb.
7) Has anyone read Zvi Mowshowitz's articles on magicthegathering.com? The title of the column is "The Play's the Thing" and Zvi sets up game situations and then tells us what the correct play or plays would be. At first, I liked the column. It was a little like Magic: the Puzzling, except it involved less complicated, more practical situations. Throughout the article, Zvi asks questions pertaining to certain aspects and then the reader can reveal the answer. I think this worked really well, but lately it seems to be getting out of hand. In one article, the following five questions are all asked in a row, with the answers to each question hidden:
1) What do you do, and what is your plan?
2) What's wrong with that plan?
3) Is there a better option? What matters in this game?
4) What's the best way to push that edge?
5) So which plan is better?
Look at those first two questions again. Now here's a question from me: What if we, the readers, are not as stupid as Zvi thinks we are and we guess the "correct" plan first?
In this situation, we immediately realize the proper answer and the way to achieve the goal in the game only to have Zvi tell us we're wrong and then, using some weird round-about logic, tell us we were actually right.
8) In the days of yore, there were three types of artifacts: Mono, which could have their abilities used once per turn; Poly, which could have their abilities used many times per turn; and Continuous, which had constant abilities. Continuous artifacts were actually added late in development to prevent a "mono-poly" on all the artifacts. Thank you. Thank you. I'm here all week.
9) Anyone who complains about the changes being made with card templating should understand that all these changes are actually helping the game. When Magic first debuted, the graphic aspect of it was VERY imperfect. If you need any proof of this, take a look at the back of your cards. Anyone who doesn't wish they could go back in time and take "deckmaster" off of them is lying to themselves.
10) If I could change one thing about Magic Online, I think I would make it possible for players to start their own draft queues. Right now, all draft queues are started automatically by the system. Why shouldn't someone be able to start up 9th-Mirrodin-Champions or Saviors-Saviors-Fifth Dawn or something weird like that? I wouldn't expect prizes to be awarded, but now, with Mirage, Ravnica and Coldsnap eventually coming online, I think a lot of people would enjoy playing unusual drafts. The regular draft queues with their standard prize structure could stay in place, but people could also start regular draft queues, just like regular games. Maybe you want to do a draft, but only play against your friends. I think there are a lot of options in this direction and unlike player-run tournaments, the draft process is a lot harder to replicate without the existing method created by online draft queues. I really don't think it would be all that hard to implement. Seriously, who would be opposed to this?
11) I was playing an online game of two-headed giant the other day and on the fifth turn, my partner managed to cast Enduring Ideal. Game over, I thought. This one was in the bag. I was sure he'd start popping out enchantments enough to deal with any threat we might encounter the rest of the game. Or maybe I'd see four turns of hondens, letting us gain a ton of life, create a ton of creatures, do a ton of damage and knock off our opponent's hands. Right? Guess what the first enchantment he put into play was… Form of the Dragon! In two-headed giant! While we had 40 life! Our opponents probably would have done the same thing if they played a Mindslaver on him. To make matters worse, I had a Loxodon Warhammer and a Sun Droplet in play. My "partner" just rendered them almost completely useless. In addition to all this, online rules for two-headed giant are still buggy, meaning the Form's clause of "creatures without flying can't attack you" doesn't apply to both players. This is yet another reason I greatly prefer free-for-alls over team games.
12) When trying to come up with 20 separate thoughts on Magic about once a month, it sometimes helps to cheat a little and make stupid little filler items that no one really cares about. This is one such item.
13) How much is a Masticore worth? I heard it was worth pretty much. I have a friend who owns one, but it's water-stained. I asked him about it and he said he dropped it in the bathtub. As much as this answer really just opens up a floodgate of other questions, I decided not to pursue the matter any further.
14) Some of you may have read the recent replies / blatant self-promotion of John Abernathy in our message boards. He commented on the forced synergy topic, as well as providing some feedback on my Ravnica set review. He seemed a little offended by my decision to point out the aesthetic appeal of women featured in the art of the new set. I'm sorry, but you have no right to point fingers, Mr. Abernathy.
15) Speaking of which, one of the easiest ways to come up with new material is to read as many other Magic writers as possible and comment on their work. Abernathy's blog has some insights and opinions on the game of Magic and like all bloggers, provides a lot of observations of happenings around the web. One thing I don't like about the blog is the title he chose: Magic Geek. I'm not a fan of redundancy. This is roughly equivalent to saying you've caught a water fish.
16) I was sifting through some of the older articles and replies on this site and something struck me: Why hasn't HOUTS complained about any of my articles yet? I feel spurned.
17) I know this has nothing to do with Magic, but the other day I noticed that my dental floss package contains 50m of floss. That means if I took all the floss out of the container, it would be more than half a football field long. That's a lot of floss. Also, for anyone living in the U.S. did you ever notice how often things are measured in terms of football fields? When someone tries to say how big something is, they always say it's so-and-so football fields long or some building is so many football fields high. Who started this trend?
18) Online Multiplayer Free-For-All Tip of the Month: If you ever have an opponent who's playing with a 500+ card rainbow deck, just be aware that his deck is better than yours. In six-player free-for-alls, you don't need a finely tuned 60-card deck to stay on top. What you need is an answer to any and all threats. With 500 cards across all five colors, I guarantee you: every answer is in that deck.
19) Why has Faerie Noble's creature type not been changed to "Faerie Lord"? Am I the only one who's outraged about this obvious oversight?
20) The other night, I was playing some Magic Online with a friend of mine from Boy Scouts. My wife was bored, so she decided to watch Dungeons & Dragons 2: Wrath of the Dragon God. What a total geek.