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The Weekly Shuffle: 12/13/04 - 12/17/04
By John Keard
Welcome to The Weekly Shuffle. I'm starting this series because there are so many Magic sites out there, and it's impossible to keep track of them all. It's to the point that you need a weekly newsfeed of the past week's top stories just to get a sense of what is really going on. Allow me to be that news courier.

This week begins a little light as it's my first time doing this, and MagictheGathering.com dominates the stories. I'll try to keep this series to gaming and casual news primarily, but might just slip in some major tournament stories from time to time.


Ravnica to be Next Block

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Perhaps the coolest news out there last week was a Magic Arcana sneak peek into the first set of the Control-Alt-Delet block. Finally the secret codenames are broken, and we know the first set to be Ravnica: City of Guilds. The set, with a release date of October 7, 2005, looks to be set on a world covered by a city.

A pangaeaic city, eh? Sounds like it'll be hard to make Forests and Plains.

To make sure you don't get confused, Wizards provided a helpful guide to pronouncing the set's namesake city: RAV-ni-kah.


Ravnica Speculation Begins

Thursday, December 16, 2004

A news item at MTGNews contained information that "ravnica" might just mean "plains" in Croation. Another of their forum members observed that the buildings in the preview artwork look to be Eastern European in design. The two points seem to support each other. Will we be seeing more vampires? Does that mean Kate Beckinsale making an appearance in yet another tight outfit? We can only hope.


Magic Online Overhaul, Vanguard Coming

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Randy Buehler began his Magic Online article with the wonderful quote: "We've been really hesitant to talk much about new features for Magic Online since we can't really do much with the current code." That's because the Version 2.0 coding for Magic Online is a total mess. They dropped the ball hard and failed to deliver nearly every single new feature they promised. In fact, they even took away lots of features, such as premeire rooms for quite a while after the disaster that was Version 2.0's launch.

But, old Bull-Head gives us word that Wizards of the Coast is on the way to launching a version 3.0. Yeah, cross your fingers. This is Wizards of the Coast, after all. With any luck, we'll only lose the casual room and the prize payout for drafts will decrease to 1-0-0-0. I say lucky with that outcome because given their history with mere set patches, we'll likely have a full system crash and chaos to follow for a long time.

Version 3.0 is predicted to be launched in the fourth quarter of 2005. Small improvements and features that have been promised since before the Version 2.0 launch will finally be added in "bite-sized chunks" throughout 2006 and beyond. Is that a normal person's bite size? Or the old Bull-Head's bite size? Let's hope the latter.

Adding to the predicted launch of Magic Online's second armegeddon, Randy went on to say, "We definitely want to add Vanguard functionality to Magic Online at some point."

For those of you who don't remember the oversized casual cards featuring the cast of the Weatherlight Saga, Randy explained what this means: "Vanguard will be a special format and if you choose to play a game using the Vanguard format, then whatever avatar you're using to represent you will give you special powers inside the game. Every avatar in the game will have a unique set of Vanguard powers...Fallen Angel says 'Whenever a creature goes to your graveyard from play, target opponent loses 1 life and you gain 1 life.' When playing Fallen Angel, you still start the game with the normal 7 cards, but your opening life total is 15 (instead of 20)."

Yeah, you play Magic with personal customization or house rules. Some affect you only. If this is anything like the real life version, some may affect your opponents. Squee was such an example, that forced your opponents to play with their hands revealed, ala a free Telepathy.

"We think this format will be an awesome new addition to Magic Online's casual constructed rooms and there's actually an outside chance we could get this functionality before V-3 comes out," Randy said of Vanguard functionality. Indeed, Bull-Head, people will go nuts for this format and avatar prices will rise fast.

Pick up those Flametongue Kavus for a ticket a piece while you can, dear readers.


Online Players Get Holiday Goodies

(Tuesday, December 14, 2004

In more Magic Online news, Wizards has announced special Christmas Holiday events to run from Monday the 20th through January 3rd. These include larger prize payouts, special leagues, and even drafts that cost zero tickets to enter. To top it off, some events award the top players with the Fallen Angel avatar.


Artist Brings Myr to Real World

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

And to end everything on a silly note, a Magic Arcana piece let us know artist Henry Higgenbotham created five Myr statues. At least it's a better use of time than making peeing cherubs.

Keep in the shuffle,
-John Keard
Member, Team 5150

Read More Articles by John Keard!

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