These are dark times for the Magic: the Gathering community. What better way to light things up than with a 20-Point Fireball!
1) As you may or may not be aware, the dark times I refer to are those of Magic Online. Last week, MTGO Version 220.127.116.1102 (affectionately called "V2.5" by those in the know) was taken offline so that all of the user and collection data can migrate south to the new system. Why this can't happen while the old version is still active, I have no idea. Probably the same reason that the old version crashed all the time. As terrible as it is to have to live a whole week without losing a casual game of Magic to a second turn 4/5 Tarmogoyf, I think the Magic Online developers are taking the whole situation a little too seriously. I mean, do they really have to call it "going dark"? The only times I've heard that phrase used are when spacecraft are unable to communicate when returning to Earth and in military operations when teams cut off radio contact to avoid detection. Last I checked, there weren't any lives on the line here. It's just an online video game. Just do what you got to do and stop being so melodramatic about the whole situation.
2) Another possible explanation is that they were originally going to call it "going black." But, of course, that wouldn't be very appropriate because once you go black, you never go back.
3) Worthless Combo of the Dark 1: Deep Water + Flow of Ideas. This two-card combo is guaranteed to draw you a ton of cards. All you have to do is play Deep Water, effectively turning all your lands into islands, and then cast Flow of Ideas to draw a card for every island you control. Use them together and fill out the deck with Spire Golems and Tidewalkers for the win.
4) If I was going to do a set review for Lorwyn, it would consist of three words: Onslaught, but [cheesy]. That's really all there is to it. Onslaught was the first tribal-dedicated block and Lorwyn basically does the same thing. Except where Onslaught focused on tribes like Soldiers and Zombies and Beasts and Dragons, Lorwyn decided to explore tribes like Giants and Treefolk and Faeries. Even the common tribes got fruity, as the goblins went from nasty-looking orc-like creatures to goofy-looking cartoonish gremlins with a name (Boggart) that sounds like it got rejected from Harry Potter. And the Elves went from crusty angry forest dwellers to some kind of weird half-goat people. To top it all off, they had to go and create the brand new Kithkin tribe, since I guess Faeries weren't quite [fey] enough.
5) In fact, why does the Kithkin tribe even exist? When Magic needed an elf-like creature, they went back into fantasy lore and used elves as they already existed. When Magic needed a goblin-like creature, they went back into fantasy lore and used goblins as they already existed. When Magic needed a human-like creature, they went back into fantasy lore and used humans as they already existed (although they called them "Sinbads"). So when Magic needed a group of tiny, dorky, quirky humanoid creatures, why couldn’t they just go back into fantasy lore and use hobbits as they already exist? If hobbits are off-limits, then just freaking call them Halflings, because that's what the Kithkin are.
6) Speaking of goats, someone needs to let Wizards know that not every creature of the past that was illustrated with spiraling horns needs to be retroactively reassigned the creature type of goat. Although I'm sure the two people in the world who were anxiously awaiting the cards necessary to complete their tribal-legal goat decks are thrilled.
7) I was also going to do a set review of Time Spiral, but I think it would be more fitting if I did that 5 years from now.
8) I have a problem with the new Akroma. The white one was named "Akroma, Angel of Wrath." If the red one is supposed to be the bizarro-Akroma, shouldn't she have a name like "Akroma, Angel of Forgiveness"?
9) Worthless Combo of the Dark 2: Fasting + Well of Lost Dreams. You want to draw cards, right? You also want to gain life. Fasting normally makes you trade your cards for life, but if you team it up with Well of Lost Dreams, you can turn that life right back into cards, which can then be turned back into more life, which can be turned back into more cards, and so on and so forth until you draw out your library or gain an insurmountable amount of life. And then you win the game.
10) I stopped reading the regular run of front page articles on magicthegathering.com a while back. I enjoy good writers that try to speak to a more casual crowd and after Anthony Alongi, Jay Moldenhauer-Salazar, Mark Gottlieb and Matt Cavotta all stopped writing there, the articles simply weren't that fun to read any more. I still like the inside design information from Mark Rosewater, and Chris Millar is entertaining, albeit a notch below Gottlieb, but overall, I found the site not worthy of a regular visit. However, despite the exodus of my favorite writers, I was still under the impression that all of the weekly columns had remained intact. So I was quite surprised when there was an announcement that after MTGO III goes live, there will be an opportunity for anyone to submit articles about their online playing experiences. What happened to Into the Aether, the weekly online report by Bennie Smith? Could Wizards find no one to write a weekly fluff piece and plug for their online product? I find it amusing that the company's own website is now resorting to reader-submitted material to fill the void. Good luck getting any decent articles. In fact, I can't even fathom the possibility that anyone would ever want to write anything about Magic without getting paid for it.
11) If banding and rampage were combined into one mechanic, would it be called bandage?
12) I really hope that once Magic Online III is up and running that they fix the deck editor to NOT search cards by artist credit. I hate it when I'm searching for cards with the word "land" on them and half the results are illustrated by Wayne England or Alex Horley-Orlandelli.
13) Worthless Combo of the Dark 3: Inquisition + Celestial Dawn. Use Celestial Dawn to turn everything white and then hit your opponent with an Inquisition to deal a ton of damage. And since Inquisition only costs three mana, it's way more efficient than Sudden Impact.
14) It looks like Shadowmoor will be introducing a new creature type, with a slew of scarecrows showing up on the Orb of Insight. If Wingrattle Scarecrow is any indication, a good number of these new creatures will be featuring Tek-like abilities, albeit based on controlling colored creatures instead of basic lands. Why a scarecrow is an appropriate creature for such a mechanic, I have no idea. It would be much more flavorful if the cards copied the ability of the original Scarecrow, whose primary duty was actually scaring crows.
15) For those who missed April Fool's Day this year, Wizards announced the next great product for tribal wars: Pirates vs. Ninjas. Obviously, the whole thing was a big joke, since pirate and ninja tribal decks would severely suck. The real kicker, though, was the fake 2-minute long "commercial" that they developed to sell the whole Pirates vs. Ninjas rivalry. It featured some white guy dressed like a ninja, hiding behind a plant and talking in a really bad foreign accent badmouthing pirates, while three of the fattest pirates I've ever seen told fart jokes and badmouthed the ninjas. I have no idea how this video ever met the lofty standards YouTube sets forth for its contributors. All I can really hope for is that no money was spent to produce this completely worthless and humorless joke.
16) I never had a problem with the new card faces until the Shadowmoor previews began. For the first time, the limitations of the larger lettering came through, as the name of Oona, Queen of the Faeries got cut off by the card's casting cost. This actually happened during the Kamigawa block with Azusa, Lost but Seeking Directions. Fortunately, it cut off a whole word and passed with little notice. And we should all be thankful that these changes were made long after Legends, or a lot of young players would have been severely confused about the functionality of Sol'Kanar, the Swamp.
17) I know this has nothing to do with Magic, but I just thought of the awesome-est joke of all time: Why is it so windy in New York? Because of all the Giant fans! Thanks, I'm here all week.
18) Online Multiplayer Free-For-All Tip of the Fireball: Five and six player free-for-alls take time. If you only have ten minutes before you have to leave for your shift at McDonald's, then don't join the game. Of course, quitting after the third turn is also one of the surest ways not to lose.
19) Worthless Combo of the Dark 4: Lurker + Cyclical Evolution. The great thing about Lurker is that your opponents can't target it unless it attacks or blocks. But what good is an untargetable creature unless it's attacking and blocking? Well, once you get Cyclical Evolution rolling, your 5/6 Lurker is going to be that much harder to kill. So once you clear your opponent's blockers out of the way, you'll be winning in four turns!
20) I recently spent some time reading through my whole archive of CPA articles and I realized that I'm a genius. There were so many articles that I wasn't sure if I should submit, but after mulling them over I just decided, "to hell with it" and sent them in, even if I didn't think they were great. And then I took some time off, reread them and saw how brilliant they were. Only time will tell, but I'm hoping that this is one such article.
See you when the lights come on.