Ask the Editor, 11/12/2004

StarCityGames.com has a unique editorial style in that editors are involved in more than just fixing spelling and grammar, adding comments to articles [Hundroog] and removing unrealistic matchup percentages. How did this come to be and why has no one else adopted it?

Ah Friday, glorious first day of my weekend. It’s also the first day of my awesome vacation to Oz and Japan, so for the next seven StarCityGames.com days, you will be treated to a return of the best damned editor this site ever had. No, not more of me, though I thank you kindly for saying so. I’m referring to the one, the only… The Ferrett! All of you Knutson haters out there can sit back and bask in the glory of His Resplendent Snarkiness, as he takes a break from mastering the web and growing his cult of personality so that yours truly can enjoy my first vacation days in over a year.

My vacation also means that this column will switch gears briefly and become more of a travel diary of my journeys until I return. If I haven’t answered your questions yet, I will… but not until I get back home on November 23rd or so. In the meantime, here’s what we have today.

Dear Mister Editor:

Are we the same person? People seem to think so, but I’m not so sure.

Yours, etc

Pugg Fuggly

Obviously we are not the same person or else Pugg Fuggly would be writing a puckload more than his current “not writing at all again” status, and I wouldn’t have to bust my balls fleading with him to figure out some topic — any topic for him to cover so that the world will once again be graced with his clever word play.

Then again… maybe this is yet another clever ruse to keep the public guessing. What I can tell you is that neither Pugg nor I go by the alias “Shawn Fullerton” — we’re not that smart.

Pugg Fuggly: Yes I am.

Okay, I’m not that smart.

Pugg: Well, at least you got it half right.

Moving on…

Alright me boyo,

I’l be coy. My burning question is, truthfully, “wtf, 3 broodstars?” but since that’s of poor print quality, and you’re going to be getting in en masse:

Does the Knut play poker? Does the Knut enjoy poker? Is the Knut any -good- at poker?


I do play poker, though how much I play varies from month to month. For example, I didn’t play at all last month, but I played a whole lot for the couple of months before that. As to whether I enjoy it or not, it all depends on whether I’m winning and how much I need the sort of respite that poker provides. Explaining the second half of that sentence would require a longer answer than I have time for right now, so I’ll just leave it at that.

I’m not a particularly good poker player, though I am up a considerable amount from my initial buy-in and have definitely cashed out quite a bit more money than I put into the game. Unfortunately a lot of my friends are very good at the game, and they win or lose more than my entire bankroll in the course of about fifteen minutes of play, so the likelihood that I will ever consider myself good is rather slim.

The next two are from Regionals Champ Sameer Marchant, pioneer of the incredible Elf and Nail deck, a variation of which made Craig Krempels into the most improbably U.S. National Champion since… Josh Wagener.

– StarCity has a unique editorial style in that editors are involved in more than just fixing spelling and grammar, adding comments to articles [Hundroog] and removing unrealistic matchup percentages. How did this come to be and why has no one else adopted it?

This one is Ferrett’s fault. He put in his own comments to help spice things up in other people’s articles (particularly since some submissions can get pretty boring or say ludicrous things in what are otherwise solid articles), though he cut back on it considerably the longer he was editing the site. It was always something I loved about StarCityGames.com as both a reader and a Featured Writer — I liked looking for Ferrett comments in my articles – and so I adopted it when I took over as editor, though this was (and is) a decision that remains somewhat controversial. Many people feel it is unprofessional to have the editor actively inserting sarcastic commentary into an article, but I feel it lends our content something different that no one else has been willing or able to duplicate. It also shows that we tend to read the articles we edit rather closely, as most of our comments are based on what the author is saying inside the article itself. Love it or hate it, the editorial commentary is here to stay for as long as I’m editing.

As for your second point, some articles are good enough to see print, but often contain a glaring flaw that would effectively cripple the article if the flaw were left there. As editors, it’s our job to make the articles submitted as good as possible, so like any normal editors, we actually… edit the articles, taking out the crap and leaving the good stuff.

– I hear conflicting stories about how much the pros actually test. Some say they simply work harder than everyone else, and this is something you consistently hear about Kai for instance. But there are also a lot of stories about pros showing up at a tournament, including Limited tournaments, with little or no experience in the format, reading the spoiler or borrowing a deck from someone the night before, and still doing well (Finkel). What percentage of pros do you feel fall into each of these categories? On a related note, what do you think is more important for success at this game, practice or inherent ability?

You hit the two extremes on the head. Kai’s success is do partly to innate skill, but much more so to his work ethic and his preparedness for tournaments. This, more than anything else, is what made him the game’s greatest player. However, Kai’s willingness to put in all the work has diminished over time, and this is directly reflected recent lackluster finishes. I think Kai has grown somewhat bored with the game these days, and even though he’s the ultimate gamer, Magic has lost some of the allure it had for him back when he was dominating every tournament he played in.

Finkel, on the other hand, got by almost exclusively on talent alone. Jon could pick up a deck, learn how to play it during the night before, and then mise his way into the Top 8 on Sunday through sheer, unadulterated brilliance. The scary part is that he was often able to do this in Limited formats, where testing and draft strategy is often considered paramount.

As for the rest of the world, I’d say it’s pretty evenly divided. Pros rarely put in a lot of time testing for a Grand Prix (new Limited format GPs are often prereleases for the pros), but about half of them will do the heavy lifting for Pro Tours in whatever their favorite format happens to be. These days I think testing is actually more important than it has ever been before, and most PT results reflect this. That is not to say that you won’t occasionally get a stellar performance or two from people who haven’t done a lot of homework but who have a boatload of playskill, but now more than ever before I think Magic rewards those players who are willing to work harder than others over the long run.

Have a good weekend, and check out the coverage from Grand Prix: Brisbane this weekend for a peek at what Australia thinks of Champions of Kamigawa Limited.

Teddy Cardgame

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