Well, with this piece I officially become the FIRST CANADIAN MAGIC WRITER TO WRITE A MAGIC REVIEW! Drunk with power, I will undoubtedly beat up little kids for their lunch money, steal their cards, and mug old ladies. Before that happens, however, I will have to take a short look at the major events as seen through the eyes of what is now the best Magic website: StarCity Games. (Awww… — The Ferrett)
Every year has departures, arrivals and elements of note. I’ll go through all of these with incredible abandon, toppling unwary shoppers as I go, so forewarned is four-armed, as they say…):
As 2000 reared its "is my power going to go out and are all computers going to explode?" head, Magic seemed like a vibrant, exciting game. It seemed like it had been born anew. Okay, okay… I don’t even remember what Magic was like on the first of January, 2000, except I did play a few games with some buds (Cheers to Kenny G, Pimp-Daddy Jordan and Eugene) before the booze started flowing and the music started pounding. So thanks to StarCity Games’ incredible archives, a bit of head-scratching, and some forethought, here is…
CRAZY PIERRE’S ANALYSIS OF Y2K IN MAGIC!!!!!!!!
I want to get rid of the depressing stuff first, so let’s start with departures from the Magic world. No, I’m not talking about suggestions for new card layout (am I the only one who almost died when I saw those in Scrye?) but writers, far and wide, whose contributions cannot be overstated.
Jamie C. Wakefield, KING OF THE FATTIES.
Go to www.thedojo.com RIGHT NOW. Search for their archives, and read any of Wakefield’s articles, but especially "Cog and Zog," "New Yorker Magic," or "You Can Do Anything You Want". Anyone not thrown off balance or moved by reading these articles is either not fluent in English or has a heart of stone. (SPEAK it, Brotha! — The Ferrett) Mr. Wakefield is currently the most influential player no longer shuffling those neat cards. Many decks now have twenty-six + lands, Secret Force is seen in Extended decks, his all-over-the-place writing style is the reason I started penning columns… I just can’t say enough about Jamie, so I’ll end with a good note: Verdant Forces have his name on them; ’nuff said.
Omeed Dariani, Former Editor Of StarCity CCG.
See that little link in the Magic section that points to featured writer archives? Go into it, find one of Omeed’s columns (preferably one that relates to the Type II Pro Tour or flavour text) and enjoy. Omeed is the reason I started writing, and the Ferrett (more on him later) is the reason I keep writing. His ideas, his integrity, and his incessant devotion to flavour text of quality have all elevated him to loftier battles with the Orgg at WOTC – and has left an enormous void in Magic writing. We miss you, Big O. 🙂
Cathy Nicoloff, Team Legionnaire And Editor Of Meridian Magic.
Well, I was never a HUGE fan of Cathy’s writing… but good writing and a social conscience are in far too little supply these days to ignore them, so here’s my tip of the hat to a truly unique writer. Ms. Nicoloff managed to pen one of the most articulate articles on waste and Magic (it’s in the archives here – go see it and come back!), has been a proponent of protecting our fragile environment and being more socially aware. On the Magic side, she has always disassociated herself from combo decks, despite the fact that Dark Tide, one of the most underplayed and underrated decks in Extended (Ferrett, do you know where a decklist is?), came directly from Team Legion’s Manuel Bevand. Ms. Nicoloff did a colossal job with Meridian Magic, but got far too little credit for it. Thankfully, it seems Meridian Magic has been resurrected. Yay to that!
The New Arrivals
Since life is an ever-renewing cycle of creation of loss, I could not honestly write this column without mentioning some of the new players in the Magic scene, particularly in the strategy and general writing arena. My lack of knowledge about the Pro Tour will give ample opportunity to others to expound on the subject. Here at StarCity, the year saw three important people surface, much to our collective delight. In no order in particular, they are…
The Ferrett, Editor Emeritus Of StarCity Games, Founder Of Team AWWAJALOM:
The Ferrett has had the lion’s task of having to take over from Omeed Dariani, while improving on the quality of the site and losing mucho sleep editing and revising the articles that are submitted on a daily basis to this wonderful site. His off-the-wall commentary and columns have endeared him to the majority of StarCity readers. His foundation of Team Adults With Women And Jobs And Lives Outside Of Magic was priceless. A team for people in the minority is certainly something to look at, no? (And keep lookin’, Pierre — there will be some very special news for Team AWWAJALOM as soon as my special goodies arrive — The Ferrett) Keep up the great work, Ferrett. You make all of us look better. The Ferrett has recently embarked on a crusade to make the Pro Tour. More power to him if he succeeds.
John Friggin’ Rizzo, Rebel Writer With A Cause:
Never has a writer so quickly ascended to the loftiest peaks of featured writing. Hiding behind the pro wrestler picture is a man of deep thought, inflexible moral principle and pure craziness. A man after my own heart if ever there was one, Rizzo has been able to ride the fickle wave of reader acceptance and make an impact in the Magic world. His Universal Net Deck, while roundly pasted at the tourney he played it in, marked the first time a deck was truly designed and played by a consortium of minds.
I can’t say enough about Rizzo. He reminds me a lot of Jack Kerouac or William Burroughs. A mind so out there, you have to wonder how it remains connected to his body. Truly a fine writer.
Mighty, Mighty Michelle Bush, the Mother of Trix:
Michelle, aside from banning Dark Ritual and Mana Vault (why Mana Vault, Michelle? It was fine! You could bust out a Deadly Insect turn 2!) has emerged to be a tremendous strategy writer – and a controversial one as well. Her column "Two X Chromosomes And A Whole Lotta Attitude" ranks, in my eyes, up there with Cathy Nicoloff’s "Magic and the Environment" and Friggin’ Rizzo’s "Purge Mode: ON" as one of the most heartfelt pieces. But she doesn’t just write for StarCity boys. Check out the Sideboard online or the Dojo articles for more pearls of wisdom from this lovely person.
Important Issues of the Past Year
I can’t even begin to think enough to remember every important issue in Magic in the past year. Would that I had the brain the size of a planet of Marvin the Paranoid Android from Douglas Adams’ timeless Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series (READ IT NOW!) but since I don’t, I had to go through the archives and see what garnered the most attention. Here’s a small overview.
This was a shocker when I first heard it, that’s for sure. Wizards R&D is right on this one, though. Necropotence is simply to fast and powerful a card drawing engine to let run rampant. The simple fact that it will come out on the first turn an alarmingly large number of times, giving its caster the ability to "set" his hand by sacrificing eight to nine life, leads to games that end far too quickly.
Demonic Consultation also had to go. Even with its game-altering drawback, the fact is it IS an INSTANT Demonic Tutor. Not EXACTLY a Tutor, I understand, but good enough that you would play with four of them if you could. Besides, with the insane amount of card drawing available to Type 1 players, this is a small loss.
As for Channel, it is simply too expensive to see regular Type 1 play. Like its Red double-coloured counterpart Fork, Channel’s GG requirement means that it can hardly ever be played on the first turn unless you have a Lotus, a Mox Emerald, or a City of Brass in play. Channel is simply a weak card compared to some of the other mana producers available. (Would you rather have Channel… or Tolarian Academy? Channel… or Dark Ritual?)
Mind Twist is more interesting. If played on the first turn without Force of Will opposing you, you can empty an opponent’s entire hand immediately, which spells game. But with so much recycling and quick mana out there, Mind Twist does not seem THAT broken. Powerful and potentially game-breaking… but broken? No.
"Ban Force of Will!"
So went the hue and cry not more than two or three weeks ago. It seems there is always a card that some people hate and want removed from the environment. Not long ago it was Replenish, Masticore, Rishadan Port, and many others that were the culprit. Now, Force of Will gets the ugly finger of player frustration pointed at it.
Force of Will IS a strong card, it is truly an annoying card, and can be game-breaking, but does it deserve to be banned? No. There are simply too many cards that allow to be worked around it for it to be removed completely. I would be more in favour of removing the whole Ice Age block from Extended play…
WHAT??? No more Swords to Plowshares? No more Thawing Glaciers? No more Force of Will or Illusions of Grandeur? Yeah, so? Live with it. When we lost Fallen Empires and the Dark, did you quit playing Extended? It would actually be a breath of fresh air to be able to play a creature and worry about Terror, Incinerate, or Shock, but not Swords to Plowshares. This would leave us with Mirage Block to Invasion Block – more than enough cards to satisfy everyone.
Urza’s Block Rotates Out of Type II
Finally I can play a game and not have my opponent steal my creature and untap five lands.
Finally I can show up at a tournament and not be beaten by 19/19 Minion Tokens.
Finally I can play and not have the game end turn 4 by losing all my lands and creatures.
It was about time.
I got so sick and tired of Magic during Urza’s Block that I seriously considered never playing Type II again. Although I love strong cards and enjoy playing with them, the power level of Urza’s Block was simply too high and too fast for any kind of interactive entertainment.
What Wizards are doing right now is the right thing. They are offering us a slow, intelligent environment where different strategies can bring success. When was the last time anyone saw Millstone (!) in a tournament deck? But there they are, four of them in Gab Tsang’s sideboard. Incredible. 🙂
Invasion Block Enters Type II and Delights Millions
I have yet to draft Invasion, but I will soon. It is like a dream set to me. You have these huge FREAKING Dragons and these powerful, but expensive spells like Urza’s Rage and Fact or Fiction. (Just as an aside here, Fact or Fiction HAS to go in Type 1. Restrict it. Now. Please.
Imagine having your opponent go:
("Fact or Fiction – Oh, here’s a Time Walk, a Time Twister, Gaea’s Blessing, a Force of Will, and a Grim Monolith."
(Me: "I concede.")
Thankfully, not all cards in Invasion reach that power level. Invasion is what Type II truly needed. It is a step faster than Mercadian Masques, but it has powerful effects that can really change a game. Pyre Zombie is strong, as is Blazing Specter, Teferi’s Moat and Rout. Notice all these spells cost three or more mana? That’s a good thing. A VERY good thing.
There’s really nothing more irritating to me as a Magic player than to sit down, pay money, and have my opponent go:
"Forest Jaguar, go. Cradle, tap Forest for Wild Dogs, Tap Cradle for two Rancors, take six."
Dead two turns later. I think that what Magic needs to be is a game where the elite players have their niche, but where casual players can go to a tournament with sufficient preparation and do well. Ideally, each game should last at least 8+ turns and have players be involved. Every player’s goal should be the Invitational, because don’t we all want to design a card?
Here’s one just for this article:
Star City Games League of Mages
U: Create or publish a well-written article on Magic the Gathering
W: Edit any mistakes in said article (After all, White DOES have Erase 😉 )
Merry Christmas everyone, and Happy New Year! Have a good one!