The Dojo Effect. The King of the Fatties. Sullivan Library. Through the Looking Glass.
Net decks. Study and Grow Strong. Frank Kusomoto. Casual vs. Pro. Reviled and admired. Chads of MephistophEllis. Mike Flores. Psylum, Inc. #mtgwacky.
A moment, frozen in time. A young (is he so young? He is in his early 30s, but a feeling of youth permeates him; he never feels quite his age, but by the time this article is over, he will feel one more weight upon his shoulder, one born of experience…) A Magic player gains his first Internet connection and stays up late, wondering at this wonderful site. He looks at the plastic dinosaurs, laughing along with Wakefield as he reads of the Lovely Mare.
A moment, frozen in time. The man is older, wiser. Frank Kusomoto’s motto "Study and Grow Strong" echoes through his ears as his friends deride him for following the tenets of the Dojo. The Dojo effect starts being felt throughout the Internet. No one knows how it really started, but we all now how it ended. January 18 2001. The end of the innocence.
A moment, frozen in time. Mike Long is caught with a Squandered Resources in his lap (or is it a Cadaverous Bloom?). The Dojo has thread after thread defending or condemning the man. This man, Mike Long, will be immortalized in the Urza’s Destiny expansion with his own card – the Rootwater Thief. Loved and hated, he continues to play.
A moment, frozen in time. A young lady called Alice Coggins pens a column called Through the Looking Glass. Many deride her. A woman can’t play Magic, can she? Or write about it! Preposterous! Insane! But her writings DO have an impact. Team Spike UK creates a niche for itself in this world of the Internet. This world where time is counted not in hours, but in blinks of an eye.
A moment, frozen in time. Psylum Inc. acquires the Dojo. Much worry is felt throughout the Magic community when the Dojo goes offline for an eternity. A few weeks? A day? Was it a month? I can’t remember. But I do remember saying it was a good thing. How foolish I was, how incredibly stupid. I wouldn’t realize till much later how important this site would be. Far too late…
A moment, frozen in time. Urza’s Saga appears. Degenerate combo decks appear everywhere. The Extended season is one dominated by High Tide. But one man, Jamie Wakefield, sticks to his principles. He stands strong, knowing that Green can do what no other colour can – stop the High Tide. Armed with his Root Mazes, his Chokes and his Best Fatty Ever Printed, he cuts a swath through the combo madness and wins a Pro Tour.
A moment, frozen in time. The Dojo is condemned. The Dojo is blamed. The Dojo is reviled. Everyone blames the Dojo for a lack of originality. Few understand that the Dojo is nothing more than a reflection of the community. Those who ignore it are reflected in a brilliant quote: "Those who choose not to use net decks are like the ancient Samurai, fighting someone armed with a Smith and Wesson. Guess who wins?" <sorry about the imprecision, but the spirit is there.> (The truly embarrassing thing is that I WAS THE ONE WHO SAID THIS, and I can’t even find it in my archives to correct it – The Ferrett)
A moment, frozen in time. The Classic edition brings with it a series of rules changes. One of them allows Thawing Glaciers to be abused by putting its effect in play at the end of an opponent’s turn, effectively allowing it to be used twice. White Lightning strikes as Waylay tokens become Ball Lightnings. Anger, denial, victory, all in one short month.
A moment, frozen in time. A young Internet site open its doors. Called Star City Comics and Games, it looks like a poor version of the Dojo. But it has spunk. It has drive. It has some writers borrowed from the Dojo. Today, it is one of the best Magic sites on the Internet. It owes a great debt to the Dojo.
A moment, frozen in time. Michelle Bush breaks down in tears. "I’ll put crying on the stack." Article after article condemns her, but she emerges, a shining example of courage triumphing over adversity. This medical student causes sweeping changes to the Extended format through a card few people ever considered playing with – Illusions of Grandeur.
A moment, frozen in time. Sullivan Library and its author, Adrian Sullivan, becomes one of the best reference points in a swirling mass of information. Mr. Sullivan’s column covered more data, more precisely, more accurately, than even I can begin to fathom.
A moment, frozen in time. Someone doesn’t like Gary Wise cocksure demeanour. Someone fills the ballot box found at the bottom of each writer’s columns with 1s in an effort to belittle someone they obviously fear. Gary Wise stands strong, and will, with Mike Turian and Scott Johns win a Pro Tour, proving all his doubters wrong.
A moment, frozen in time. Pokemon sweeps through gaming stores. Column after column condemn this kid’s game; some say it will kill Magic. Sites erupt like mushrooms, dedicating themselves to this fad. And a fad it is, ladies and gentlemen. Through it all, the Dojo stood strong and dedicated to our great game.
A moment, frozen in time. Sweeping changes are made to Magic. Over a dozen cards are banned in an effort to stabilize Type II and Extended. Vintage is an afterthought. Earthcraft, Lotus Petal, Fluctuator, Recurring Nightmare, Tolarian Academy – all will fall in what could well be one of the most sweeping changes to Magic ever.
A moment, frozen in time. At 1:05 a.m., a very tired, very saddened writer hopes to do what so many others must feel – convey the enormous sense of grief and anguish no doubt seizing the whole Magic community at this moment. Words can’t manage it, but here it is, a requiem for a giant, the Dojo.
Veni, Vidi, Vici. You Came, You Saw, You Conquered.
Because of you, the Dojo, Magic on the Internet will never be the same, but it will continue, a pale imitation of your greatness.
January 19, 2001.