Hall of Fame Daily – Alan Comer

KK returns to take a look at five of the Hall of Fame nominees that deserve a little more press. Today he starts with the mad brit that makes your MODO run better, Alan Comer.

And now… the return of the man who started it all… okay, that was Geordie Tait, but throw your hands up people for the KEN KROUNER!

Thank you, thank you. It’s great to be back in the daily seat here at StarCityGames.com, the best damn strategy site on the internet. During my tenure as a daily columnist I had my ups and downs. One thing I tried to revive was the good man of the week. I’d honor people for various reasons ranging from play skill, to amicability, to mockery, to legitimate good for the community.

Recently, Wizards of the Coast actually decided to legitimize this award. They were going to call it the “Hall of Good Men,” but I advised them that it would be better received by those outside the game if it were called “Hall of Fame.” As honored as I was, I insisted that they go with the more universal name. This actually caused a tiff internally, since they felt that the title of “Good Man” held a lot more meaning than “Famous.” One thing led to another, and Mike Turian and I got into a rather brutal fist fight. I came out on top, as you might imagine, but I lost my right to vote this year despite being one of the most knowledgeable historians still in the game. I suppose this is a fair penalty, even though it does a big disservice to the Hall itself. Luckily, I have been advising current voting members.

So my daily contribution will be highlighting five players on the ballot you may not be familiar with. Brian-David Marshall laid out all the stats, so I won’t be focusing on those. If you want to peruse them, check them out in this incredible article. While I won’t be endorsing most of the people I will be talking about for membership, I will tell you what they have done to deserve a spot, were there more spots available. I have known personally each of the people I will be discussing.

I do want to start the column by saying that any voter who doesn’t write Jon Finkel and Darwin Kastle on their first ballot should not be voting. Darwin and I have had our differences, and at times these differences became quite heated. The fact of the matter is, he has an unblemished record for integrity, and has accomplished more than anyone other than Jon and Kai. The Hall will have no meaning if each of these people doesn’t get 69 votes.

I’m going to start out with possibly the most famous of all the people I will be covering, Alan Comer. Alan, in addition to being one of the best players to pick up a card, also has one of the most impressive resumes. He cut his career to work for Wizards on Magic: Online. With 5 Pro Tour Top 8s to his credit while playing in only 32 PTs, he’s 7th in Top 8 percentage. At least as often as not, Alan made money at the Pro Tour. While he sits at only 11th on this list in money earned, I assure you all of these stats would be significantly inflated had he allowed himself to keep playing. Unlike many members of the inaugural class, Alan chose to stop playing while he was still very much qualified. Even if he weren’t to make the Hall, I believe his ratings are high enough to find him qualified should his stint with Wizards ever end.

Alan was a genius in Magic. He developed highly original decks like Comerzilla, a beastly reanimation deck that used Firestorm to fill the graveyard with giant men and bring them back to do battle with all the little weenies of the time. Monsters like Verdant Force, Shivan Dragon, and Sliver Queen, were dropped in the yard by Merfolk Traders and Hidden Horrors, only to come back with the likes of Necromancy and Animate Dead.

Fast forward to the twilight of the Trix era. Alan developed possibly the most powerful metagame deck of all time. MiracleGro used a sparse 10 land to play an early Quirion Dryad and make it bigger than the Verdant Forces of old through cheap card drawing and free Counterspells. Alan piloted this to a 9th place finish at GP: Las Vegas before fellow Hall of Fame hopeful, Mike Long took it to Japan and finished 4th with it. That’s all the world needed. GP: Houston saw it as the most played deck, and a mutant form of it was carried to the Top 8 by Brian Kibler and Ben Rubin.

Alan was just as crazy in draft. He always made it a point to go several colors in money draft. I remember a draft where I was teamed with PTR and Jamie Parke and we were battling Alan, Hall of Fame ballot member Matt Vienneau, and a third who escapes my feeble mind at the moment. Alan deliberately went all 5 colors and Frenzied Tilling took both myself and Peter out. We still won the draft, but I’d be lying if I said Alan’s method didn’t work like a charm. Our wins came in the play, not the drafting. This style was not limited to Invasion block where many color were acceptable (this was pre-Apocalypse, mind you). He was so confident in his play that his goal in a team draft was to make the person’s deck to his left unplayable. He knew that he could manage at least one or two wins with whatever he wound up with, so why not guarantee an 0-3 on the opposing team.

Alan was also a genius outside of the game. At that same GP: Houston, Alan told me more in one sentence about the game and it’s players than I learned from countless hours of tech talk with some other players. Alan asked me how I was doing. I responded with, “I am winning, but playing terribly.” Alan responded with the wisest words I had ever heard about play skill and players, “If you ask a good player how he is playing he will say he is playing terribly, if you ask a bad player he will say he is playing perfectly.” My eyes opened and I realized that this was what Magic was all about. Everyone makes mistakes. Only the good players see them.

While perhaps not as much of a lock as Darwin and Jon, I truly believe that Alan deserves a spot in the Hall the first time out.


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