Is your emperor match dragging on too long? Well it’s time to speed it up with a 20-Point Fireball!
Recently, I’ve been accused of being a Magic elitist because I make fun of organized tournaments and professional players. Just to show the world that I am actually an equal-opportunity offender, this column is dedicated to making fun of the people who are truly ruining the game of Magic: the casual players. You guys suck!
1) First, I’d like to say goodbye and best of luck to longtime casual writer and avid deckbuilder Jay Moldenhauer-Salazar. In case you haven’t heard, Jay’s promising career at Taco Bell is finally taking off (he’s been promoted to night manager at the local franchise) so he doesn’t have time to write weekly columns for MTG.com anymore. It’s a tragedy to lose such a dedicated writer, but maybe we can finally start to see the deck tech we’d all much rather be reading about.
2) Speaking of JMS, when I read his Building on a Budget columns, I always get the impression that he’s either a phenomenally talented player, phenomenally lucky player or that he just makes up all his game logs. His deck evolution exercises start with him taking a preconstructed deck and guiding it to some ridiculous record. I would not be at all surprised to read something like, “Using the Truth Seekers precon from Saviors, I posted a 4-1 record against UW control, mono-black control, two white weenie decks packing four Jittes each, and a straight red burn deck. Although my opponents rarely had an answer to Bounteous Kirin, I really think Ghost-Lit Redeemer is worth evolving the deck around.”
3) Did you enter that contest to win a free trip to PT: Honolulu, sponsored by Wizards? Apparently Jake Theis screwed something up and couldn’t make it, so he decided to pick someone at random to win his tickets as a prize. Anyway, congratulations to Tyler Jones, who won the contest and got to spend his weekend in Hawaii. I hate you, Tyler.
4) Speaking of contests, anyone who complains about the lack of card links in any articles that appear on this site will automatically win the opportunity to edit all my stuff and insert the freaking links themselves. I spent more time coding last week’s article than actually writing it. Want a suggestion? Have Gatherer open and ready before you begin reading anything here.
5) What the hell is a big-deck mulligan? Are there official rules on these things? The first time I encountered one was when I was playing Prismatic online, so I just assumed that it was only available in that format or when playing with a 250+ card deck. But since then, I’ve had them come up in random free-for-alls by people playing 60 card decks. What’s the deal?
6) I like Abe Sargent. I really enjoy his stuff at StarCityGames. But did anyone else catch his little blurb on the Nephilim a couple weeks back? Here’s the gist of his argument: Nephilim are not a traditional fantasy creature, but they are an important aspect of his religion and they are being disrespected by being used in Magic. I’d like to address his concerns and perhaps help put his mind at ease on the issue. First, let’s look at the importance of the Nephilim in a religious context. From what he wrote, Nephilim were apparently mentioned in the book of Enoch, which is accepted as canon by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the Essenes Jewish sect. So there are hundreds of branches of Christianity and sects of Judaism and only two of them actually believe this has any bearing on their belief system. Just for the sake of argument, I’ll assume Abe is a member of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (from his mention of the “Old Testament,” I infer that he is not Jewish.) Now the question is whether or not the Magic nephilim are being disrespectful towards the religious Nephilim. The biggest flaw in this argument is that, according to Abe, angels and demons are acceptable in a fantasy context. But they, too, once only had a biblical context until fantasy genres took them and adapted them to their medium. It’s not a sign of disrespect, so much as finding any similarity between aspects of fantasy and religion. Nephilim means “fallen one.” To the best of my knowledge, the Ravnican nephilim were the ancient gods who fell out of favor with the guilds as the city expanded and technology took over. The word nephilim seems like a pretty good fit here. In fact, as far as I can see, the only real problem with the nephilim in Magic is that they all suck.
7) When are the people at Wizards going to make a decent Dark Ritual-type card in red? I don’t mind it if they shift the color pie around as long as I get to see all my old favorite cards coming back into the game. Hell, I think they could make it even more powerful than the original. It could still cost one mana to cast, but it should add four red mana to your mana pool instead of three. On second thought, that’s pretty broken. They’d better make it a sorcery to balance it out.
8) If you’re looking for any more reasons to hate casual players, check out this article at MTGSalvation by some guy who calls himself “Lord Moo” (almost assuredly a casual player’s nickname.) He tries to play off all those stupid noob game rules as generally accepted “House Rules.” There’s no such thing as “House Rules.” If you can’t take the time to read and memorize the comprehensive rules, you shouldn’t be playing Magic.
9) If Wizards really wants people to take more interest in the Pro Tour, they should encourage people to gamble on it. How many people truly care about college basketball compared to the amount of people who fill out a bracket, throw five bucks in the office pool and then follow the results religiously, praying that some team like Rutgers upsets Illinois in the second round?
10) I read some complaints last week by Ken Krouner and Jeff Cunningham at StarCity Games over how the Magic Invitational is run by Wizards of the Coast. For the most part, I agree with them. The Magic Invitational is a Magic: the Gathering All-Star game for Pro Players. So first and foremost, casual players who do not follow the Pro Tour should NOT be voting on who gets invited. Just because you see a ballot doesn’t automatically mean you have to vote in it (unless it's a presidential ballot, in which case not voting makes you an unpatriotic traitor). I repeatedly stress that I don’t care about the Pro Tour and I have no idea who the best players in the game are right now. So I don’t vote on it. And if you’re like me, then you should do the same.
Jeff and Ken were both upset because more popular Magic players might get voted in even though they aren’t the best players in the world. I call this the Nomar Effect. Allow me to explain. Nomar Garciaparra is an extremely likeable and popular baseball player. He also used to be really good. Last year, when he was on the Cubs, there was a clear and significant decline in his ability. He was also injured. However, due to his popularity, early in the season, he actually led in the fan vote for shortstop in the All-Star game, despite the presence of clearly superior candidates. Fans liked Nomar, remembered how good he was and voted for him, despite the fact that he really didn’t belong there. Apparently, Mike Flores is in a similar situation. The trouble here is that WotC has this vote to appease all Magic fans and if the people want to see a player at the Invitational, they’re going to let him go.
But why force an inferior player to hang with the big boys while simultaneously pushing a worthy candidate out? For this reason, it might be a nice idea to hold a separate Invitational event for the popular players that aren’t as good. It could be similar to the NBA celebrity All-Star game, where they have Frankie Muniz and Nick Lachey play on teams with Kevin Garnett and Allen Iverson. Chris Romeo is really stumping for a spot in the Invitational, but I really have no desire to see him go, just to get pummeled by far superior players. On the other hand, I would love to hear stories about a huge free-for-all with him, Rizzo, JMS, Alongi, and Mark Gottlieb, playing alongside some Pro Players, all with 500-card monstrosities designed by the fans.
Finally, I think the biggest problem with the Invitational is the writers’ vote. This idea was copied from professional sports’ All-Star games, where the sportswriters vote for the representatives. The reason this works in sports, but not Magic, is because no sports writer is considered an eligible candidate. Every person involved in this decision should be given a choice of whether they’d rather have a vote as a writer or be placed on a ballot. Too many conflicts of interest are formed the way it is currently run. I mean look at Cunningham’s article and his top-five ballot. He doesn’t even try to hide the fact that he’s at the top of his own list.
11) Professional Magic matches should be run more like professional wrestling matches. Every card should be assigned theme music that plays before the card comes out. Just picture it: one player ends his turn. The next player starts his. Then the lights dim. Flight of the Valkyrie begins to play. Dun-dunun-dun-dun! Dun-dunun-dun-dun! “Who could it be? Wait... I know that music... that’s... that’s... it is! Meloku! Oh no! This match is over!!!” Then Meloku hits a Skyknight Legionnaire over the head with a folding chair, leaving him unconscious until Meloku’s posse shows up to win the game.
12) If Niv-Mizzet’s so smart, then how come he hasn’t harnessed the power of electricity? Seriously, it’s not that hard. He has steam. He has water. He has sunlight. He has all the elements necessary to create, store and distribute electricity, but for some reason he chooses to rely on alchemy to service the city of Ravnica. Alchemy? Alchemy isn’t even a real science. It’s baloney. It’s crap. This leaves us with a flavor paradox. Wizards does not want real technology to be used in the game, but they also want us to believe that a super-intelligent, 10,000 year-old creature can’t even figure out what an electron is. It didn't take us clearly inferior humans that long.
13) Worthless Combo of the Month: Urza’s lands + Obsianus Golem – Here’s a special one for all you casual players out there. You know how Obsianus Golem is a freaking unstoppable beatstick, but it’s always getting hampered by that 6-mana casting cost? Well by combining it with Urza’s Mine, Urza’s Tower, and Urza’s Power Plant (also called “Urzatron” - a worthless combo in its own right), you can get it out on the third turn! Turn three Obsianus Golem!!! How awesome is that? Of course, you’ll still have to take the one point of mana burn (unless you’re a casual player, in which case you probably don’t even know what mana burn is) since the Urzatron creates seven mana and you only need six.
14) Speaking of combos, have you checked out that awesome combo contest being sponsored right here on the Casual Players Alliance? All you have to do is come up with the craziest combo imaginable and then write about it and you can win great prizes like a Cranial Extraction or an Exalted Angel! Enter now while supplies last! Also, expect me to keep plugging this contest until the deadline.
15) Birds of Paradise is the best creature ever printed in Magic. For this reason, no matter what color or colors your deck might be, you should always splash green to include four copies of the birds.
16) In case you have not yet fully explored the Casual Players Alliance, now is a good time to check out the forums. Check this out: People play games in the forums. Games of Magic. On a message board. What the hell is wrong with you casual peoples? Pony up the ten bucks for a MTGO account or take the time to download Apprentice or Workstation. As much fun as it sounds to play a four person text-only free-for-all game that lasts over six months, I think I’ll pass.
17) Like my mother always said, "If you don’t have anything nice to say, then post it on the internet."
18) Online Multiplayer Free-For-All Tip of the Month - Before the game starts ask whoever created the game if they made sure that it was set to attack anyone and not attack left, as is the default. If they answer, “yes,” saying that they did check and are sure, then there’s about a 50% chance that they did not.
19) If you’re looking for a reason why I will never be a writer outside of this site, take a look at Anthony Alongi’s article about chaos games. He discusses the reasons behind why a person gets ganged up on by multiple opponents, as well as strategies to prevent this. Anyone who plays multiplayer chaos regularly knows these reasons and could analyze them just as well. However, the difference is that Anthony titled his article, “Hail, Hail, The Gang’s All Here.” Had I written a similar article, it most assuredly would have been called, “Gangbanging.”
20) I’d just like to give a big shout-out to all my adoring fans for making me the #1 Google search result when I enter my own name. Take that, Eric Turgeon, former hockey player for the University of Maine! I rule.