CASUAL FRIDAYS #117: DCI Bans Alongi For One Month!!!

All right, it’s not as dramatic as it sounds. But with all the high-profile cheaters out there getting tagged, I felt left out – and so I’ll take what publicity I can get.

There is, believe it or not, a downside to working closely with Wizards. Apparently, once you’ve seen at least half of an expansion’s spoiler, you cannot participate in the prerelease for that expansion, nor any DCI-sanctioned events using the expansion for one month. And I’ve seen it, so I’m banned as such.

This rule exists to give the rest of you time to catch up with my superior knowledge. Frankly, based on my performance in most Odyssey block events, I feel like my head start is actually not quite enough. I think I should not only be allowed to play, but also have the option of covering up the rules text of all of my opponents’ cards during the first two games of each match. I mean, if we’re going to try to play fair here, let’s play fair: Slow, stupid sorts like myself should get as many breaks as possible, to give us a sporting chance. Sleek, whippet-like minds should have to work harder. If you’re so damn good at this game, can’t you play it with a handicap or two? Let’s see how good you are when you have to guess the power and toughness every time, smart-ass.

My appeals, despite my”inside track,” will likely fall on deaf ears. So I have chosen to make a bad situation even worse: I will try to become more like Sheldon Menery. Yes, I plan to take the Level I judge test at the event, if it’s available, so that I can join the ranks of the blessed.

So to all of those high-profile people who have been banned from DCI-sanctioned events recently, I say: stop whining, it’s not so bad. Make use of your down time. Demonstrate how productive you can be toward the Magic community.

And oh yeah: Stop cheating, jerks.

Holiday Lessons

With the rest of the time we have together this week, I’d like to bask in the memory of a very relaxing vacation.

I was out of touch for two weeks – a detail I probably should have mentioned to my readers, and my editor, and I apologize for not doing so – and so there was not much Magic playing happening. So this column will come at Magic from a different angle: What I learned from my vacation that we can all apply to our Magic lives.

Frodo and Deck Efficiency. I saw Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring four times over vacation, fully qualifying me as a top-notch geek. (Or is it dork? I get confused sometimes.) One of the things I found enjoyable about the film is the editing, which moves the narrative along at a pace where characters can develop, and action can happen. Making a movie this well requires exceptional editing, and no doubt many hard choices. A lot ends up on the cutting room floor.

This should ring true to anyone who has built a deck with serious intent to stick near or at the sixty (or forty) card minimum. How on earth can we possibly spin the great narrative of our decks – that is, the amazing victory through four different paths, each backed up by countermeasures for countermeasures – if we have to get rid of so many cool pieces? Won’t the less tolerant audience get all angry? Won’t they shout for Tom Bombadil, or (in my case) the barrow wights? Won’t they wish we had run less copies of Saruman and the scouring of Isengard?

Tough choices get made in a lot of different contexts. Much as we spend perhaps a bit too much time worrying about that 61st card, we also spend a bit too much time getting antsy about different artistic interpretations of a classic. It’s all art. We can appreciate both versions of Lord of the Rings, just as easily as we can appreciate multiple versions of Secret Force decks.

Muscles and Mana. Any good mana curve gives a player time to”warm up” with efficient, low-cost spells before more pronounced bombs hit the scene. I was thinking about that as I geared up for the annual football game that old high school friends and I play every New Year’s Day.

We’ve changed the format from Standard (tackle) to limited (two-hand touch); but we still usually manage to find at least one injury per year. This year was more fortunate than most, as no one lost teeth or twisted an ankle; but the value of stretching muscles both before and after play has never been brought home more clearly to me. A hot tub experience at a friend’s house was very welcome, and made me wish I could soak in something similar after going 0-2 drop at a PTQ.

Holiday combos. Cinnamon buttons combo really well with green frosting on sugar cookies. Enough said.

Enjoyment of a game. My friends on Cape Cod are not as much into Magic as our group in Minnesota is. (There’s one or two into it; you can check the archives from January last year for some detail there.) Instead, we play poker, which we did regularly back when MaryJanice and I lived there.

We play five cents per chip to avoid frivolous bets, and, as most groups do, we rotate the dealership and each picks his or her format. Seven card stud, night baseball, hi-lo, anaconda… Even quasi-original creations like”bad baby poker” all get tried out. It’s great fun for everyone, not because Poker, Inc. comes out with a new expansion of clubs or diamonds every three months, but because it’s interactive, it combines luck and strategy, and you can do it in groups. What makes Magic special for me is that it hits the same broad goals… It just uses different tactics.

COMING SOON: The ever-moving expansion”blind spot” in Magic, and what cards your group may have forgotten to play.


Anthony Alongi

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