Ask Ken, 06/04/2004

Help! I can’t stop losing!

Man oh man, is that GaryT one funny MF. It’s the end of another week here at Ask Ken. I’m your host, Ken Krouner. People often stop me on the street and say,”Ken, how do you sleep at night while so blatantly ripping off beloved TV personality, John Henson?” I generally just ignore them and walk away. Stupid peons. That sad refrain I hear can mean one of only two things. Either it is time that I actually paid some attention to my mom, or it’s time for a little Reader Mail! Hey! Alright, let her rot!

Today’s letter comes to us from Alan Heffner. Alan writes:


I enjoy your articles very much even back those ancient ‘Dilemma’ days. Here is my question for you:

I am by no means and exceptional player. I’ve been playing for 4+ years and ‘competitively’ for 2. When I could find people to play IRL I had a mid 1800’s limited rating. And in my play online in the past month I’ve added about 100 points to my rating. (At least before tonight.)

I just finished an evening of MODO drafting where no matter what I did, no matter how hard I tried, no matter what cards I drafted, I couldn’t beat ANYBODY! If my opponent needed to draw a Shock, he got it. If he needed to draw two lands, one of which was a Mountain, then a Detonate, he got it. Every third turn Morph was flipped 4th turn to reveal Exalted Angel. Every third turn Equipment was Sword of Light and Shadow when I am sporting Plains and Swamps. It came to the point… as I recall… that the only way one guy could win the game in a MMD draft was to draw two Snow-Covered Swamps followed by Homarid Shaman. Then he did it. This was combined with 7 land opening hands followed by a no land mulligan followed by a 3 land re mulligan containing the 23rd & 24 card to make the cut. Two land hands that stayed 2 land hands till turn 7. Erratic Explosions targeted at me for 7. Erratic Explosions targeting a Morph for 1. As I said… I COULDN’T BEAT ANYBODY!!!


Why does this happen? Is it bad karma? Bad luck? Bad drafting? Do games/ days like this happen to ‘good’ players? To pro players? If yes, how do you recover and get back into the battle?


Scarred Psyche

Well Scar I am going to let you in on a little secret. No matter how bad they look, more often than not, games you lose were winnable with the cards you were dealt. This is a tough concept to understand. It seems like your opponent ripped the perfect card and beat you. Did you maybe miss an attack early on that would have prevented him from getting that extra turn? Did you use an answer to this card earlier in the game on a card that you shouldn’t have?

There are many games that are lost that were simply unwinnable. No series of legal plays could have made a difference. Is it possible that in this streak of games you are referring to none of them were winnable? Sure, anything’s possible. Is it likely? No.

Perhaps you did draft poorly. I don’t have any decklists and I didn’t watch the draft so I can’t speak in definites. But in a given Magic Online draft, there are so many places to make errors to purely blame luck for a bad outing is unrealistic.

The source on losing,


That’s all for this week. Keep those letters rollin’ in, and don’t miss my new series of articles on MD5 drafting. G’night everybody!

[email protected]


Hello gentle readers. It’s your twelfth-favorite has-been pro here, Gary Talim. When KK asked me to write this week’s Ask Ken, I was filled with many emotions, including apprehension, confusion, and indigestion. After all, asking me to write”ask the pros” is like asking, well, Ken Krouner to write”ask the pros” – I mean, I guess he could technically do it, but isn’t there someone better suited for the job? (Ha! I kid. I kid because I love. And because I’m bitter.) After a while, though, I realized that Ken has simply run out of real pros, with the only remaining options being me, that kid who T8’d a JSS that one time, Dr. Robert Bayardo, and Stinky Pete McGee, who once got top three at a South American Gee Pee. And since Stinky Pete had prior obligations, Ken turned to me. How embarrassing. But, those”pros,” for all their”accomplishments” and”talent” lack something I have in spades: HEART! And a foil Shivan. But mainly heart. So, just like the time I went to the prom with my cousin, I’ll try to make the best of an awkward situation and have some fun, and maybe cop a feel or two.

Here’s today’s question, courtesy of the mysteriously-named”Dom,”

Hi KK,

With the Magic Invitational just recently passed, the Magic world lives in

fear of opening a booster to find Bob Maher’s mugshot staring back at them.

And hey, the rest of us are such a bunch of self-obsessed narcissists we all

wish it was us. Then we all sit around designing our own invitational cards

anyway. So I have to ask: What will your invitational card be when you win

next year ?

And on a related topic: If you could pick any one person besides yourself to

have a Magic card based on them (but *you* get to design it – hehehe) then

who would you pick ?



Hi Dom (-inique?) (-inguez?),

Thanks for writing. Ah, invitational cards. From Darwin Kastle’s Avalanche Riders to Jon Finkel Shadowmage Infiltrator to Brock Parker’s”Eater of Hoagies,” they’re always a hoot. As a fan of wacky cards and even wackier formats (one, two, three packs of Legions?), I’ve always enjoyed following the Invitational. There’s just something about watching Zvi Mowshowitz and Jin Okomoto engaged in an epic three-hour Highlander duel that really hits the spot. Even though the odds makers have set the chances of me being voted in next year or having enough pro points to qualify somewhere between Gandhi winning GP: Orlando and you flying to the moon on a hotdog, a man can dream.

As you pointed out, we gamers are all a bunch of”self-obsessed narcissists” who want nothing more than to look at out own pretty mugs day in and day out. So if I got to design a card, I’d make sure it was playable in both Limited and Constructed, but broken in neither. People often complain that certain cards are obviously only useful for Limited and not Constructed, or vice versa. A card like Goblin Brawler, for example, is a solid man in any draft deck (and makes Fist of the Anvil very playable), but has no business in Type Two or Extended (prove me wrong people, prove me wrong!). Now for high rolling pros like Jeff Cunningham and Brett Shears, men who light their cubans with Arcbound Ravagers while sitting in silk robes by an open fire, this means nothing. But I’m a man of the people, so when little Timmy No-Legs opens my card, I want to make sure he gets full value. So my card would be something like

Red Guy


Creature- Guy

First Strike.

If you have 40 or more cards in your library, Red Guy gains haste and costs 1 less to play.

“Sup brah?”


So it’s basically a Limited/Constructed split card, good but not too good in Limited with the little extra”oomph” needed to make the cut in Constructed. Is this a good idea or just stupid? I really don’t know, but it is interesting, you gotta give me that. In a world full of superstars and heroes, I’ll settle for interesting.

As for the second part of your questions, I was going to make the painfully obvious”Ken Krouner, PT player, Fading: 1 year” joke, but for all of our sakes I won’t. Instead, I’ll highlight one of the lesser known superstars of MTG, Kenny”The Master” Hsuing.

Kenny Hsuing, Tar Baby


Creature- Human Buffoon Legend

Kenny Hsuing, Tar Baby comes into play with 10 Tar counters on it.

Remove a Tar counter from Kenny Hsuing: Cobra spit target creature. (it loses flying until end of turn).



You may not have heard of Kenny, but rest assured, if you’ve ever spoken or heard a word of Magic lingo, you have Kenny to thank, and by thank I mean blame.

Well that’s all for me. Make sure to tune in tomorrow when Ken gets to the bottom of the”Rockshard Elemental and Gratuitous Violence: Just how much damage are we talking here?” controversy.

Thanks for reading. Buh-bye.

-Gary Talim

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