The barrel of the gun tastes of sulfur and grease, the polished metal cool against my lips. The pull on this trigger is five pounds, and I’ve got four and a half resting on it; my finger quivers, and I can feel the rattle at the back of my teeth.
The hammer clicks up, ready to slap down on the bullet, to snap the rear of cartridge alive into a peppery burst of rapidly-expanding air, forcing it out of the barrel and into the back of my throat….
It would be quick, I think. And less painful.
And I’d only have to do it once.
But eventually, I set the gun down. I realize it’s probably not that bad – no, I lie. It is. But at least it will be over soon, and the rest of hundred and nineteen days will be filled with love, joy, and – who knows? – even the occasional bout of frenzied weasel lust. Regretfully, I set down the pistol and fire up my email client.
So how do you feel about set reviews?
For most people, it’s a happy time. For me, it means that every writer who wants to churn out a quick article will copy the spoiler list off of MTGNews.com wholesale, add some comments, and send it in… Leaving me to cut, copy, and paste my way through eighty pages of the exact same errors every time. Over and over and over.
If there is a hell, this is where editors live.
So in order to try and save the community like I did with my Fill-In-The-Blank Tournament Report, I will now attempt to do every set review for you ahead of time. When you’re tempted to write a review, just click the boxes and send it in instead!
My wife will thank you. She’s tired of spackling over the holes in the ceiling.
I have played Magic since:
_____The ancient days of Alpha and Arabian Nights, which means that unless a card is equivalent in power to an alternate casting-cost Time Walk, I’ll complain bitterly that it’s overcosted;
_____The days of Tempest and Urza’s Saga, where I lost all my games by the end of upkeep on my second turn, which means that I’ll be so pathetically happy for a slower game that a Raging Goblin for 3R seems fair and equitable;
_____The days of Tempest and Urza’s Saga, where I won all my games by the second turn, and I’m all pissy since I actually have to interact with my opponents these days;
_____The days of Mercadian Masques – and yes, I am that one person who started playing during Mercadian Masques who’s still with us;
_____Last week, and so all these cards are just so huck-golly neato! I could use Obstinate Familiar in a deck, couldn’t you?
_____Since forever, but I’ve never actually left my kitchen table to attend a tournament or a game store, and therefore have no clue what all this consarned”Type Too” fuss is about;
_____It doesn’t matter, since I’m a pro and I’m trying to mislead the community as to which cards are actually useful. I could use Obstinate Familiar in a deck, couldn’t you? Bah-roken! (Listens with bemusement as a storm of eager, mindless netdeckers storm the hobby shops, demanding four copies of Obstinate Familiar for their new Pro.dec)
I’ll be reviewing this set for:
_____Constructed, and I’ll be showing you how cards fit into the current archetypes because I’m oblivious to the fact that maybe – gasp – someone might actually build a new deck with new cards!
_____Limited, where I’ll point out the obvious gamebreakers and make snap judgements about the tricky cards’ usefulness, since I can’t be bothered to playtest – I have to get this finished before the set even comes out!;
_____I’m Gary Wise, and if you dare mock me I’ll snap Rizzo’s neck like a twig;
_____Both Limited and Constructed, thus spreading my ignorance over a much wider area;
_____Some random format you’ve never heard of, thus taking a boring concept and reducing its worldwide appeal even further.
I’ll be using the following method to rate these cards:
_____Between one and five stars;
_____Between one and five stars, but the cards that I claim are”moose-suckingly awful” will still receive two stars, leading us to wonder what sort of card merits a single star – a card that explodes when you sleeve it, perhaps?
_____Between one and five stars, but I won’t specify which format I’m rating them in;
_____First to fifteenth pick;
_____Hey! Didn’t you hear me? I’m Gary Wise, punk! Big-time pro! That’s my method of rating cards, so back off! I’m not afraid to kill Rizzo!
This new set:
_____Sucks in Constructed;
_____Sucks in Limited;
_____Sucks in both Constructed and Limited;
_____Has bad rares, so it sucks;
_____Just sucks in general;
_____Is a”challenging draft set,” which is secret code for”Wizards made this set so bad that only drafting can save it.”
_____This is a powerful new chase card! At least, until playtesting shows how much it sucks, and then everyone will have seven copies clogging their trade binders.
_____This is a powerful new chase card – and no matter how many packs you open, no matter how many drafts you play in, you’ll never open one because Wizards hates you! Ah ha ha!
_____This is a powerful card – but nobody’s chasing it because only I seem to like it, and I’ll spend the next year writing obsessive articles about how I almost broke this crazy card…
_____This is a powerful card, but it’s in a color that Wizards has been screwing over for the past two years, so yet another great black card bites the dust*;
_____This is a powerful card, but I’m too stupid to realize this, and a year from now someone will dig up this review and mock me on IRC for missing it;
_____This might be a powerhouse in the right deck, which is a nice way of saying,”I’m too lazy to build a deck and test it, so I’ll guess randomly”
_____This is a powerhouse in multiplayer, but since any self-respecting Pro player would sooner be caught in a hotel room with Michael Jackson naked than be caught playing multiplayer, I’ll say nothing;
_____This card is so powerful in Limited formats that it ensures an automatic loss when a scrub opens it, since he’ll base his entire deck around it even when the other thirty-nine suck;
_____This common or uncommon card is a bomb in Limited, which has the happy side effect of reducing the amount skill required for Sealed play to simply opening a pack;
____Limited? Are you mocking me? I’m Gary Wise, dammit! Rizzo’s life is in my hands!
____Please – have mercy, Gary –
____Shut up, Rizzo! Back off before I kill the bald guy with no sex drive! (Hey! – The Ferrett)
_____This is a watered-down version of an old powerhouse that everyone will play because even snapped in half, it’s still broken;
_____This is a watered-down version of a powerhouse that is so perfectly balanced now nobody will play it;
_____Here is a card that Wizards phased out of the main set three years ago for no apparent reason, and now that it’s back nobody will play it because better cards are available;
_____Here is a card that Wizards is reprinting, so I will blissfully ignore today’s environment and base my review on how useful this card was three years ago;
_____Here is a reprinted card, and I’m too new to realize that it’s a reprint – duh;
_____Here is a reprinted card with a different name and suckier art.
_____Here is the card I’m thinking about for my Type One deck… No, wait, it sucks. I haven’t bought a card in three years!
_____Now if only I could buy someone to play Type One with….
The new mechanics:
_____I still haven’t done any playtesting, but am mindlessly hopeful about it;
The mid-level cards:
_____Even though there are at least thirty cards in each set about which absolutely nothing noteworthy can be said, I’ve copied the spoiler off of MTGNews – and by God, I’m going to comment on every single one come hell or high water!
The suck cards:
_____“This would be good if it were a cantrip.”
_____The obligatory red coin-flipper;
_____The obligatory overcosted 23/23 creature for kiddie trade bait;
_____The obligatory monster creature with a drawback so bad that no one will use it;
_____The obligatory”too specific for Constructed, too useless for draft” cards;
_____The suck rare;
_____The really suck commons;
_____The horror, the horror;
_____Bitch, bitch, bitch, bitch, why does Wizards print these cards?
Once again, _____ got the shaft:
* – We shall see about Torment. Oh, yes; we shall see.