Ask the Editor, 12/15/2004

If you could pick the ultimate Top 8 – what format would it be and who would be there?

Question #1 today comes from the forums, where erikcu, bearer of the Plunger of Death pondered the following:

A while back I read one of Ted Knutson articles and thought to myself that it was just filler on a website that usually has very good Magic articles. If I wanted to read about non-Magic blogging I would surf the web for blogs… but I have really enjoyed the recent few artcles by Ted, even if they have been loosely tied to Magic. I think Ted and I have very similar political views (might be due to both being of around generation X), so I often nod my head to his jabs at the establishment (GWB). What I wonder, is who edits the editor? Does Ted worry about his editorials becoming “an easy way to get read”, opposed to being another good piece of Magic writing on a high quality website?

I am genuinely curious about this point, because I think if I were in Ted’s position I too would write about more than just what is the best pick second pack of a Mirrodin draft, or the top 10 cards from Champions. Yet, I also think I would worry about keeping myself in check.

How do you balance it, Ted Knutson?

I stole this one from the forums because it seems like a good question to answer for a slightly more public audience than you get there. I started Ask the Editor because I like having a daily column on the site, and I also wanted to give people a chance to ask me questions about running the site, covering Pro Tours, etc after I’d been in charge of all the editing for a year. This column gave me the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. Of course, right from the start, I said I’d answer whatever questions people asked me, provided they were within the bounds of decency for the site, leaving me in a spot where I still have to be delicate about certain business issues or places where I have strong feelings.

To clear up a misconception, if I were looking for “and easy way to get read”, I would be writing strategy articles and tacking on my random thoughts like I’ve always done (peep the Mixed kNuts columns in my archive for proof). Strategy in general and mine in specific gets a lot more hits than these daily articles, no matter how hard I try to make them rock. I was originally planning to only do these silly things for a month, but then my vacation delayed them a bit and I kept getting more questions, so I extended it through the month of December as well. As of January 2nd, you’ll get someone fresh and new though, so if you are sick of these, just wait a couple of weeks and we’ll set you free.

Last but not least: Who edits the editor? For my more controversial articles, I generally run stuff through The Ferrett or Pete before posting. However, I’ve been doing this job for a while now and have a very good idea of where the lines are. If I were to go too far away from the needs of the site, I’d have to deal with Pete, and as nice as he is, I’d rather just use those two hours to watch TV or read a book. Hell, I’m a lot more mellow these days than when I was ripping on writers for putting out crappy articles and bashing Wizards for not spending enough on their coverage teams. (They still don’t spend enough for Grand Prix and we don’t have a reasonable system to gather Limited decklists, but I try and work on this from the inside nowadays…)

Translation: No one needs to edit me for content, because I’m the one who pays for it if I screw up. Occasionally I could use an extra eye to catch editing mistakes on my own stuff, but time constraints make that problematic.

I remember hearing somewhere that you are a Mixed Martial Arts fan. Is this true? Do you have a favorite fighter or a favorite fight? If I had to choose a favorite fighter it would be Kazushi Sakuraba, hands down. Favorite fight is tough, but I’d have to go with Carlos Newton vs Daijiro Matsui Pride 6. Check it out if you haven’t seen it, it was non-stop action.

Greg Hastain

I’ve watched all of the first 20 UFCs and most of the current ones and I’m working my way through the entire Pride series (I’ve seen about half of them thus far). So yeah, I guess you could say I’m a fan *ahem*. I often use the films as study devices to learn new moves and try and perfect techniques, or simply to see how different fighters react to being put in different positions.

My favorite fight is an easy one: Randleman vs. Fedor in Round 2 of the 2004 Grand Prix (Critical Countdown for those of you looking for the DVD). I’ve never seen anything quite as physically insane as Randleman shooting both fighters completely into the air and landing both of them on Fedor’s head, nor have I ever seen anyone recover immediately from that and armbar the guy like Fedor did. It was the most surreal fight ever, because the entire time Fedor was working on the armbar (I seem to remember it as an americana, but the Pride page says otherwise) I was shouting at the screen “You can’t do that!” He did.

One of my great frustrations as an MMA fan is that Randleman never got in with a real school after he first appeared as a force on the scene in UFC. If, instead of staying with Hammer House, he had gotten on with Militech or whatever the Alliance, or basically anybody with a clue, he’d be an absolute God now because physically he’s the most powerful athlete in the entire sport. Instead he stuck with the ground and pound guys and still couldn’t work a submission to save his life. What a waste. Regardless, Pride Shockwave 2004 on January 2nd is on my Pay-Per-View schedule, and aside from watching Silva beat up Sakuraba again – something no one needs to see – I’m totally stoked for the next fight card.

As for my favorite fighter, that question is really hard to answer. Sakuraba is at the top of the list (his first two Pride fights are insane displays of submissions aptitude and how can you not love a guy who yells “I want to fight a stronger guy” after demolishing Vitor Belfort?), as are Chuck Lidell (his takedown defense is ridiculous and I just like the guy), and Frank Shamrock… but if I had to pick a favorite, it would be a tossup between Bas Rutten and Randy Couture. Bas was one of the first really complete fighters to hit either Pride or UFC and he stayed at or near the top in MMA forever. Couture has had a similar career path, and while his actual techniques and style may not be quite as exciting as Bas, he continues to defeat younger, stronger opponents with consistency.

Hey Ted,

I think this is a cool idea, and I’ve got plenty of stuff to get some feedback on… so feel free to answer any or all of these questions.

1) What is the best way for WotC to “fix” Affinity’s domination of Standard? (Is a fix needed, if not – why not) How about for 1.x?

I answered this a bit more completely in this article, but my short answer here is that if Wizards wanted to nerf Affinity at this point they can wipe out Ravager + Disciple or they can ban the artifact lands. Before I analyzed the numbers for States, I thought the problem might have been fixed, but now I’m not so sure… At this point, I doubt Wizards will do anything before Mirrodin rotates out – they don’t want any more egg on their face for that block than already exists, and if they don’t absolutely have to ban something, they won’t.

As for Extended, in spite of the fact that a Pro Tour in this format just took place about a month ago, I think the environment is relatively unexplored thus far. It will take the whole season to figure out whether Affinity is really the best deck across the board, or if the larger card pool will finally let the rest of the decks hate that damned cockroach out.

2) If you could reprint any mechanic in a future expansion (ie: Buyback, Kicker, etc..) What/Why?

Split cards, definitely. I love those damned things and thankfully MaRo does too, so I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of them.

3) What are your opinions on reprinting cards that are on the reserved list? Are there cards on the reserve list you would like to see reprinted, and that you think would actually be fair/balanced in T2/1.x ?

I honestly don’t think about the reserved list that often because Wizards dug that hole for themselves and won’t be getting out of it any time soon. I suspect this was one of those ideas that got pushed by Brand in spite of the fact that R&D said it was a bad idea, and now everybody kind of rues the promise that was made.

4) What is your least favorite deck type to play against? Most favorite to play?

I hate playing against LD/Discard decks, but always feel really good after smashing their faces. As for a specific deck I hate more than any other, right now its probably Red Deck Wins. Rishadan Port, Wasteland, Tangle Wire? Yeah, f*** you too, buddy. (Thankfully Tangle Wire is out of vogue right now and all of the cards listed rotate out this fall. Huzzah!)

As for my favorite deck to play, that’s really hard to determine. In the last 3-4 years at States and Regionals I’ve helped develop various Aggro-Control and Control decks to handle the field, and while I usually don’t focus my energies on strict Aggro decks, I still enjoy playing them in some environments. I just find a deck that I like and run with it.

5) If you could pick the ultimate Top 8 – who would it be & what format?

I confess that even though I have grown to love the forty-card decks over the years, I still love great deckbuilders better than great Limited players, and my picks for Top 8 will reflect that (which means I’m skipping including Huey, Anton, and the Potato, even though I’d include them in any other list).

The format would be Extended, and it would include Budde, Finkel, Nassif, Walamies, Lebedowicz, Harvey, Oiso, and Mike Long with all players in their prime. To me that gives you the best possible mix of deckbuilders, skilled technicians, and amusing players. Some of the game’s historians are sure to rant in the forums that I’ve shortchanged the old school here (and I have), but I’ve seen all these guys play and every one is great to watch in their own way.

That said, I’m more than willing to see what everyone else says on this one, because to me, thinking about this sort of think is great fun.

6) Have you ever met any high profile entertainment field Magic players? Know of any?

I don’t quite know what this question means, but I’ve met Dave Williams and I know that he has done a movie or two in the past and probably has some development deals working for his life’s story right now. Flores and BDM also have connections in the Comic Book industry and Hollywood, and I’m pretty good friends with both of those fine gentlemen. If that doesn’t answer your question, feel free to explain what you were looking for and I’ll try to do a better job next time.

7) Who would win in a topless wrestling match, [Censored]?

This question has been deleted because answering it would get us both in trouble for misogyny, and the game has more than enough of that as it is.

8) Most embarrassing non-Magic moment that happened during a tournament (ie: not a misplay in a game, more like falling down a flight of stairs on the way outside)

I’m sure I’ve said or done more than a few things I should be embarrassed by, but my brain has generally blocked those items out. I’ll occasionally stop a game because I’m confused by a specific rules play, but I’m not wrong on those very often any more. (I actually caught Mike Long being shady in a match against Osyp at U.S. Nats this year when no one else watching the match except Randy Buehler picked up on it, and at that time I didn’t know if I was allowed to say something or not. Thankfully that’s all cleared up now, and if I spot something that I think is wrong, I point it out. I did this for about five missed draws from the Ice half of Fire/Ice when Patrick Sullivan was playing against Nick West at PT: Columbus.)

Aaaaanyway, the most embarrassing story that anyone has related about me thus far has to be the one Osyp tells here, which technically happened, though not at all in the way Osyp tells it. I take a lot of beats, but not usually like this. I usually don’t edit out the lies and falsehoods Osyp (or anyone else for that matter) tell about me, and now that everyone knows that, I suspect we’ll see a lot more of these sorts of stories in the future.

9) Why is pie so much better than cake?

More filling, less bread stuff. Carrot cake and Kahlua cake are the two exceptions to this rule.

Thanks for your response(s)

Michael Taggart

No problem, my man.

Ted Knutson

Teddy Card Game

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