Blogg Fanatic: Stereotype One

Recently, Bleiweiss managed to unapologetically piss off the entire Type I community. He said their decks were unoriginal. He told them they were bad players. He called them whiny elitists, and he showed no remorse for his actions. What could he possibly have been thinking and what is he going to say next? If you are a Type I player (or just someone who really dislikes Ben Bleiweiss), then this is the article for you!

A few weeks ago, I was up in Columbus, Ohio for the Origins convention. Me, Pete Hoefling (the owner of this business) and Ted Knutson (our esteemed site editor) made the drive up from Roanoke, Virginia to run the StarCityGames.com booth. On our first night there, we went to this Mongolian barbecue place, the name of which escapes me at the moment.

If you’ve never been to a Mongolian barbecue, I highly recommend the experience. Here’s how it works: the waitress gives you an empty plate. You then go to a buffet of different raw meats, poultry and seafood (including fish and shellfish). You lump a ton of the good stuff on your plate, and then head to the veggie bar, which has all sorts of shoots, greens, and noodles. Lastly, you hit up the sauce station, where 20-30 different flavors await. [Don’t forget the spices! – Knut] After all this, you bring your now-full plate to a special chef. At this place, there were two college age guys who were working a giant circular grill with huge wooden sticks – you’d hand them your plate, and they’d drop it on the grill and stir all the ingredients together until your food was cooked. Then, you bring everything back to the table and enjoy your meal.

Quality stuff!

So me, Pete and Ted are getting our food together when Ted nudges me. “See that guy over there?” he asks, pointing in no direction in particular. “That’s Rich Shay. I ran into him at U.S. Nationals last weekend and he’s a pretty big Type 1 player. He came up to me and asked ‘Does Ben Bleiweiss know what the hell he’s doing?'”

After we sat down, I grabbed our waitress and asked her to pass Rich a note. Being the coolest waitress ever, she agreed, and I wrote this on the back of one of our coasters:

“Mr. Shea

I know exactly what I’m doing.

Mr. Bleiweiss”

The three of us were seated at our table as the waitress gave Rich the note, just as he was bringing his food to the cooking station. He read it for a second, then literally hopped into the air, and started looking around. It took him a couple of seconds, but he finally spotted Ted and worked his way over to our table.

Introductions were made, and Rich had to ask me a question. “Do you really think that all those cards were useable in Type 1, or were you just trying to get a reaction?”

This refers to Fifth Dawn set review from several weeks ago. In the Type 1 installment, I took several pot shots at the Type 1 community, which continued into the Extended article the following day. At this point, several prominent members of the Type 1 community had e-mailed both me, Pete, and Ted and shown quite an outrage at my having attacked the entire format, especially since I was acting in the capacity of both a featured writer and General Manager of StarCityGames.com.

But this article today isn’t about those articles – that part is history and backstory.

I answered Rich evasively. “What do you think, Rich?” He thought that I was just trying to get a reaction from the Type 1 players, which was correct – the purpose of those articles was to get Type 1 players to stick up for their format, and to show all the growth the format had gone through over the near year since the Type 1 championships at Gen Con, 2003.

Unfortunately, that entire plan backfired into a firestorm of controversy and bile, all if it aimed at myself and my article.

But again, today’s article isn’t about that controversy.

Today’s article is about our conversation with Rich Shay.

Rich chatted with us for a good fifteen minutes, until his friends literally had to drag him away from the table so he could eat his now cold food. Over the course of the conversation, we talked about the growth of Type 1 over the past year, the role of different sites in promoting Type 1, the main”name” players in Type 1, along with which cards were or weren’t good in Type 1, and what factors could help or hinder the growth of Type 1 as a format. The main part of the conversation that struck me was regarding how to make the format grow.

I am convinced that Type 1 can be huge in the public’s eye. There are several factors that can help or hinder this growth, and many of them are tied into the availability of cards, the legality of proxies, and the level of skill involved in playing/deckbuilding for this format. Those are all minor technicalities compared to the biggest problem facing Type 1.

Rich said something absolutely shocking over the course of the conversation. It was so out of left field that me, Pete and Ted sat there dumbfounded, staring at one another for several seconds. None of us had a response to Rich’s statement. What’d he say?

“Oh, I didn’t realize you guys were trying to support Type 1.”

I don’t recall why he said this, or exactly how it fit into the conversation, but it was meant in earnest. It was absolutely shocking. Hadn’t we been the only site to cover a major Type 1 event (Gen Con 2003) live on our website? Didn’t we have the highest quantity of Type 1 writers of any site on the net? Haven’t we been front paging a Type 1 discussion topic every day for the better part of a year? Hadn’t we promoted Type 1 writers such as Steven Menendian, Carl Winter, JP Meyer, Oscar Tan, and Phil Stanton, along with many others, for years now?

I didn’t take any offense from Rich’s comment – it was more of a pure shock moment. After Rich left, me, Pete and Ted got to talking. Why weren’t we perceived as a Type One supportive site? All three of us thought it was obvious that StarCityGames.com not only supported the Type 1 community, but did our best to actively promote the community. This was apparently not the case.

Guys, we support the Type 1 community. Okay, it’s been said – and I’ve even given examples above of how it happens. How’d this perception come about? Part of it is because of The Mana Drain (www.themanadrain.com), which is the main repository of Type 1 discussion on the internet. Many Type 1 players flock there to discuss Type 1, since the entire site is dedicated to the format. Another reason is because many of our Type 1 writers haven’t been writing as frequently on our site. Still another reason is because Type 1 has been exploding as a playable, popular format, and many players of Type 1 have been thrust from the role of Magic’s ugly stepchildren to potentially respectable players in a very public forum.

There is nothing more I’d like to see than for Type 1 to gain the respect and interest of the Magic playing public at large. Type 1 encompasses the entire history of the game, and lets newer players get a glimpse into the rich past of Magic. There are many colorful players in Type 1 – JP Meyer or Carl Winter could easily be as popular as Osyp as humor writers, except that they write about a format which most of the Magic playing public doesn’t pay attention to (and yes, I recommend you go scour their archives – their articles are really good reading).

Type 1 is on the stage right now, and is at a very critical juncture in its growth. Post Pro Tour: Seattle, there are no Magic events as significant or as large as our upcoming Richmond Type 1 Tournament tomorrow and the Type 1 Championships at Gen Con the following month. There is a huge Magic void between now and Worlds that can be filled by the Type 1 community, if they are able to step up and fill that void.

Here’s some suggestions for the Type 1 community on how they can help get non-Type 1 players interested in their format:

Write tournament reports. Nothing really conveys the excitement of being there than a first person account of the event. After these two events, write a report and submit it to our site. We’ll happily publish these accounts (provided they are quality reports), and give exposure to your format to the world at large. Write about the highs and the lows. Write about what made the tournament(s) fun for you – what you liked and didn’t like. Write about the big things, like your matches – write about the little things like who you came with, where you stayed, and how your trip to Richmond/Indianapolis went. This is how Jamie Wakefield and John Rizzo connected with players – they wrote about their tournament experiences and really got people caring about how things went – even when those same people didn’t play that format. In turn, that got people interested in other aspects of their lives – hence Jamie Wakefield literally caused Green to undergo a massive renaissance as a color.

Interact more on the forums of StarCityGames.com. Many times, we’ll see one of our Type 1 discussion threads literally cut and pasted on The Mana Drain, killing all discussion on our site and diverting all discussion to that site. Zherbus has done a great job establishing The Mana Drain. I am putting this comment here not because we want to divert all traffic from his site, or because there is any competition between our sites – it is because when Type 1 players take their discussion from a very public site that gets tens of thousands of hits every day and moves it to a place that a significantly smaller population frequents, it keeps Type 1 out of the eye of the public. This in turn does not help get people into the format (either as players or as supporters) and gives the impression that Type 1 players are elitist or standoffish. I met a lot of Type 1 players at Origins this year, and virtually all of them were personable, well spoken, and reasonable human beings. This negative reputation their community gets comes from their self-sequestering, and not from reality.

Make your deck names more accessible to the public. One of the huge barriers between casual and serious players is elitism, and naming your decks really esoteric names that do not impart information about the true nature of the deck turns off many players. You’ll notice that in virtually every other format, decks are named either after their main goal, their colors, or some of the key cards in the deck – decks like Elf & Nail, Goblins, or Raffinity. Other decks have more pet names, like Trix, The Rock (and his Millions), and Baron Harkonnen. These decks were piloted by well-established names in the Magic world (Michelle Bush, Sol Malka, and Adrian Sullivan respectively) and were pet decks of these players.

This is not a knock against Type 1, but there are no players out there who are well known enough who are exclusive to the Type 1 community where their custom named decks will be understandable to the public. Masknaught is a good deck name – it tells a casual player everything they need to know about the deck. TNT, $tack$, and 7/10 Split don’t say anything about their decks – just by looking at the names, I couldn’t tell you what these decks do, or any of the cards in these decks. Often you have to grab a reader’s attention with your first couple of sentences, and if your title (A discourse in $tack$) doesn’t mean anything to a reader, they will skip your article/discussion completely.

I hope nobody takes the above suggestions as anything other as constructive – everything I’ve said in this article is completely 100% in earnest, and there is no one who would like to see the Type 1 community grab the spotlight over these coming months more than me. It’s out of my hands though, other than this article – I don’t have enough time to be an ardent Type 1 player myself. What I can do is let everyone else know that Type 1 exists, and that it is both worthwhile and highly popular. It is up to you to find the ways to get the rest of the Magic community to support your format – and once this happens, all that you could hope to achieve with Type 1 will be yours, as all of Magic accepts and rallies around the fastest growing format in Magic.