All’s Fair In Love And The Writer War

Is Sol Malka calculating and shrewd? Or an opportunist? Who cares?

Blah, blah, vote for, blah, blah, drone, etc…

Sol Malka in the quarterfinals? Where have we read that before? In reading his excellent tourney reports he comes off as quite a likable fella, and it’s sort of easy to root for the guy who’s 0 for 19 in PTQ Top Eights, yet has an influence on deckbuilders and players alike.

He beat Josh Bennett, who, by virtually anyone’s standards is the best writer on The Net hands down; he beat Randy Buehler, a virtual legend not only ’round these parts, but in the entire global community; he beat The Ferrett by using sneaky, underhanded tactics against the man who virtually invented sneaky, underhanded tactics. (And I stand in open admiration of him for that – The Ferrett, pleased to be beat by someone who worked for it)

Why shouldn’t you vote for a guy like that?

Two words: Mike Flores. Two more words: New Wave. One word and an anagram: The CPA.

Is Sol calculating and shrewd? Or an opportunist? Who cares?

What started as a fun contest has rapidly become death or glory for all those involved; "vote for me" articles around Invitational time were always annoying, and it took until the Top Eight for anyone to even bother caring enough about the Writer War to bother publicly rallying their own troops. I think I remember seeing over seven hundred votes in Sol’s match vs. The Ferrett. Many of those votes can be attributed to the publicity that Sol’s "vote for me" article on The CPA, and the official endorsement from New Wave Games generated.

A fun contest that was offered as an enjoyable distraction has taken on the traits of a bid for Congress. I remember the first week of Da’ War. A few guys were none too pleased that the original voting was unsecured and asked for their names to be taken out of the mix; they didn’t want to be part of a contest where cheating was not only possible, but likely. I guess I can’t blame them there. But the voting was quickly secured (somewhat), and we got back to the business of treating the contest for what it was: A fun distraction.

Then, out of the blue, it got ugly when Mike Flores squared off against Michelle Bush in the first elimination round. Accusations of ballot-stuffing and/or general shadiness began to cast some doubt about the legitimacy of the entire voting process. While Flores emerged victorious, he didn’t emerge unscathed. Yeah, scathed in a "fun" contest. Mise.

Those events were quickly forgotten and all seemed to be fine and dandy in Kansas again. Heck, for some reason, I was able to garner more votes than Zvi, even AFTER he won a Pro Tour AND apologized for the "My Fires" novella on the Sideboard. I was certainly convinced that I was going to be trounced by the Nouveau Zvi Army, and prepared to meet my maker and stuff. But the Christmas Miracle came, I moved onto the next round, but more importantly, a seed of doubt was raised (at least in my mind).

I began to wonder just how many people actually did vote numerous times. "Enough" was the answer that I came up with.

There was no way I was going to beat Anthony Alongi, ever, and I was fully prepared to send him a "kudos, chief" mail when he did indeed give this writer guy what he deserved. A couple of days after the voting started, I checked in and saw that I was actually ahead of Alongi, which to me seemed like an aberration that would soon rectify itself. I also noticed The Ferrett had such a commanding lead over Sol that I was convinced that match was over. It looked like seriously bad times for Sol, who was being outvoted almost 3-1.

Then Sol took matters into his own hands by asking the members of The CPA to hook a brother up with a vote. Then he took more matters into said hands by sending an article to New Wave, who in turn gave him their rousing endorsement. Now, The CPA seems an odd choice for an established Pro Tour player to pander for votes, and I can’t think that New Wave is anything but a shell of it’s former self, but soft money reared it’s melon up in here, and John McCain is nowhere to be found.

It worked.

He took it to the people and his numbers rose dramatically. I checked the notes a few hours after Sol’s articles showed up, and all of a sudden, he was neck-and-neck with our beloved editor. Let me get this out in the open so there can be no doubt…

Josh Bennett is the best writer on The Net, and The Ferrett is a very close second. Everyone else can tie for a distant third. And I’ll round it out in fourth so I can watch all y’alls backs and whatnot.

And Sol Malka beat them both. Badly.

Let me get this out in the open as well…

Sol’s good, but he’s not that good.

But he won.

Make of that what you will, because I kinda don’t care anymore. I bore witness to a contest that turned into a knock-down, drag-’em-out fight, and I’ve decided apathy will be my best buddy for the rest of Da’ War.

I’m pretty sure that I couldn’t beat Alongi, even if he was a friggin’ drum, which, coincidentally, I think he just might be. But I did. What that means (or certainly implies, to me anyway) is that there was a sizable "vote early and vote often" crowd stuffing the ballots for me. Well, it’s likely that there was, but since I can’t prove anything (and don’t really care to), I’ll just use words that imply that kind of stuff.

Not that I’m an ungrateful wench for making my first Top Four, but if there were, um, "irregularities," then that’s some serious un-good times. Who the hell likes to win if the rules have to be broken (besides Net Deckers and Intentional Drawers, that is)?

Sol’s up against Flores and I get to arm wrestle Gary Wise. Flores should beat Sol, but, if Sol has proven anything over the last week, it’s that his supporters are as rabid as anyone else’s (except mine, who are just friggin’ nuts, and I wanna soul kiss all y’all many times), and may just have the ability to change their IP address at will, just like mine and many others, which means that Sol can be the guy who took out Bennett, The Ferrett, and Flores. While that’s not a PTQ victory, that’s a hella notch in his belt.

On the other hand, I started out not really caring much about Da’ War except for entertainment value (and it’s sure given us that in spades) and that’s where I am again. Cheating is wack. So don’t.

And if you do, I no longer care anyway.

With the new-fangled tech of having the tabulations hidden, I believe that this week’s votes will be much more of a true reflection than they were for the last, well, seven months or however long this thing has been going on. This is good times, and I’m sure that Becky would agree.

I’d like to think that I try to promote individual integrity, and often make sure that I get my ass kicked on a regular basis to further my ideals; an honest vote is one of those things that will probably get my ass kicked, but I’d rather go down in a ball of flames knowing that it was legitimate than win with an asterisk. I’m sure many of you would as well.

But I won’t pander for your votes, and I won’t do what some of you expect and ask you to vote for Gary instead of me to make some sort of statement. While winning the whole shebang would be fairly cool, it wouldn’t mean what I thought it would mean before all this utter weirdness started up. No matter who wins, an asterisk will probably be offered by someone, somewhere, and they might not be incorrect in placing it.

People got screwed. Egos got bruised. It’s likely that a few enemies were made. CCGPrime, while getting tons of hits as a result, may end up with a black eye, which it certainly doesn’t deserve. But I can’t even think of a way to protest any of it. And I’m not sure if any of it should be protested anyway. So, it’s apathy for me from here on in.

After all, it’s all in fun, and to paraphrase CCGPrime, "This contest means nothing aside from egos." But egos are a fragile thing indeed.

Vote early, not often. Or don’t.

Or cheat your ass off.


John Friggin’ Rizzo