This week’s article is being brought to you in spectacular HUBRISVISION, allowing you, the reader, a more realistic experience. More capitalisations! More rhetoric! Watch my ego grow in realtime! Bigger, faster, stronger, more! It’s all here with HUBRISVISION! And now, today’s feature, brought to you by Bounty (It’s the coconut-kick-in-the-face!) :
Let’s take a quick survey of how things are:
Last week’s article at the top of the page, in big font? Check.
Most significant non-idiocy-related e-mail turnout? Check.
Other writers on this site totally bogarting my style? Check.
I would say everything’s just dandy.
I’m tempted to try chastising My Esteemed Editor into giving me top billing again this week, but he’d probably catch on. He’s way too smart to fall for something like that twice. Hopefully, this empty praise will put me firmly in his good books. It’s like Mensa conning its membership.
Mensa: Hey, you’re a smart guy. Why don’t you give us $100 so we can tell everyone else how smart you are?
Rube: Shucks, I’d be a fool NOT to do this!
At any rate, it’s up to you, my blindly zealous readership, to ensure that I’m properly enshrined at the top of this site. Send non-threatening e-mail to My Esteemed Editor with your thoughts.
I can’t stress that non-threatening part enough.
Truth be told, seeing my particular form of prose adopted by others is not all wine and roses. I’ve got a nice intra-team feud going with Sky, so he’s ratcheting up the competition. Several other writers for this site (who will go nameless, they’re not getting free press from me!) have had recent articles differing ever so slightly from their usual motif. That, and Anthony Alongi totally ruined a perfectly amazing Chthulu joke I had all planned out for this week. It’s enough to make me just give up, you know?
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery my foot! I can’t handle this. I’m a jealous man. A jealous, petty man.
Let’s see what I’ve dredged up for this week. But first, a word from our sponsor:
Felon: Padre, I don’t want to be electrocuted.
Priest: Have a Bounty.
Felon: Thanks! Now I’m ready to die!
Well, Hell in a Cell, it seems I’ve scheduled myself to indulge in a little comedic parodying. Apparently, I’m sinking to the lowest levels of whoredom. I hope it’ll be painless and quick.
THE DUKE OF NEW YORK: PHONY COLUMN A-NUMBER-1
To begin, there is no reason you should listen to a damn word I’m saying. Please read on.
I will now say some things about what I call "Winning-the-Game-ness."
"Winning-the-Game-ness" is a measure of how much the players are "Winning the Game,” encompassing precisely every aspect of the game in question.
THE BASIC RULE
If you have lots of "Winning-the-Game-ness,” you’re probably going to win. Cards that help you win have lots of "Winning-the-game-ness", cards that do not, do not.
SUPPORT ONE: SOMETHING ABOUT NOTHING
One time, Bobby Boucher was playing a sligh deck. He used his creatures defensively, burning his opponent’s threats, and bluffing counterspells, hoping to establish a hard lock. He did not win that game, because he failed to exploit his deck’s "ability to win.”
What is this "ability to win?” In short, it is every way that a game can end with you as victor. This includes, but is by no means limited to, having Opponent’s life total reduced to zero or less, having Opponent acquire ten or more poison counters, having Opponent’s Lich leave play, having Opponent fail a deck check, having Opponent arrested for drug trafficking, and having Opponent spontaneously combust. Knowing your deck’s "ability to win" is the first step to having lots of "Winning-the-Game-ness.”
SUPPORT TWO: YOU SEE, KIDS TODAY DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT JAZZ IS ALL ABOUT
Your opponent has a whole bunch of small creatures. You have just stabilised things, and are in the process of winning. Do you attack? Sure. Who cares? You’re going to win, right? Go for the throat. Rip his guts out. Bring it!
SUPPORT THREE: CHOCOLATE MALTED SOCK HOP FEVER
Attack, defend, do a little jig, it doesn’t matter. You’re not constrained by rules of any type, isn’t that great? In fact, why don’t we all run out and grab milkshakes?
I like milkshakes.
END PHONY ARTICLE A-NUMBER-1 (Original Article brought to you by the good folks at Bounty. Bounty: Seriously, one time I ate a ham as big as my face.)
Thank goodness that’s over with. So, why single this guy out? I mean, I didn’t even do a straight-up parody. It’s not like I’m even making a pretense of being fair. I bring this article to your attention because it is symptomatic of the larger problem facing the Community of Online Magic Theorists.
Thanos has once again assembled the Infinity Gems.
No, that’s the problem facing the West Coast Avengers. The problem for us is that Magic Theory has become pretty unenlightening. Follow that above hyperlink and read the article, then ask yourself this question:
Will the application of the theory I just read change the way I play?
I find that most theory is reverse-engineered from existing data. That is to say, a theorist looks at a state of affairs, makes up some definitions, and describes what they already know. The resulting analysis will not add to your understanding of the game, because it is entirely descriptive. It’s like making a map with a 1:1 scale. Of course it’s always going to be right, it just doesn’t make a very convenient map.
This all boils down to the fact that Magic Theory isn’t really doing its job. It’s supposed to be extrapolative: when presented with new situations, the application of theory is supposed to supply answers. And it seems like nobody’s giving that out anymore.
There are exceptions. Deck deconstruction is, on the whole, an interesting enterprise. This is because the information presented is new and exciting, giving you precisely the answers you’re looking for when learning a new deck. I’d really like to laud myself that last week’s response was based on my scintillations, but in all likelihood it’s because I was exposing the inner-workings of a powerful, unknown extended deck.
Yet, I AM undeniably fascinating.
So is it any surprise that many writers are tackling the Nemesis spoiler? Desperate for new and interesting things to say, it provides them an easy out. I can’t fault that. It makes for potentially worthwhile reading. It’s just that after about two such articles (and they tend to be HUGE) I don’t have the stamina to slog through another. By their commonality, they estrange their intended audience.
Soon, we’ll see their offspring: the New Decks. Also potentially interesting. I’m not cut out for all that, so I stick to simple buffoonery. But let me say again that all this stuff people are saying about Nemesis is worth saying.
When Adam, the Judas that he is, accused me of not putting much strategic content in my articles, I replied:
OMC: You see, the web is a vast, barren wasteland, and the agonising truth is that the meager leave-ins of strategy that worm into my articles are only as awful as everything else out there.
Adam: But still…
Which is a point well taken.
I *should* be doing what I can to up the ante as far as strategy goes. The problem is that I already do, and it doesn’t amount to much, let me tell you.
So where the hell am I going with this?
KMFDM: Stop saying "don’t quote me,” because if no one quotes you, you probably haven’t said a thing worth saying. Quit whining you haven’t done anything wrong, because frankly, you haven’t done much of anything.
Direction at last. This is a call to end the clamour of modern Magic discussion. What I want to see, and bless my buttons if it happens, is more detailed discussion of the workings of specific decks. I don’t care if you think you have no authority to explain the workings of a deck, document your experience, and tell me why you make certain choices in certain games. That goes a long way to giving me insight into the play of a deck.
Valueless when compared to actual experience, mind you, but I’m working with what I’m given.
Tournament reports! If you have nothing interesting to tell me, then I don’t care that you won a tournament. I know this is shocking, but round-by-round descriptions amounting to "I won" and "I lost." aren’t worth the no-paper they’re not printed on. Instead, why not tell me about why you make certain plays against certain decks? Talk to me about deck design. Use more than ten words, and please, make them good ones.
Earn my attention, by cracky.
If your analysis is going to be descriptive anyway, why not just hand over interesting raw data, and leave the judgment up to the reader? Don’t try to say more than you know, but give as much information as possible. Writers are servants to readers.
I’m simmering down, now. I think I’ve torn out enough meaty chunks for one column. Tricky business, this. I’m hoping against hope that you won’t notice that I’ve pretty much written myself out of the picture. I’ll figure a way around it. I always do. Heck, nothing wrong with a little hypocrisy.
And since I brought up the whole "stealing another writer’s angle" angle (and relatively good-naturedly, I might add. A little friendly rivalry to spice up the mix?), I should mention that if any of you like wrestling, and also like crass humour, then you should be made aware that the King Of The Internet, HYATTE, has moved his Mop-Up.
He is probably indirectly responsible for anything funny I’ve ever written. Granted, our executions differ, but I learned a hell of a lot from that guy, and if I ever get paid in a serious way (hint, hint), I’m sending him a check.
Class dismissed. Get out of here, you crazy kids! Remember, Content comes first! If that fails, then Form over Content, but use that only as a last resort! Surprise me by doing something worthwhile!
Do you need friends? I am not your friend. You can e-mail me and pretend that we are friends, but this relationship can go no further. I am not sorry.