Welcome to the second of a hopefully long series of year-end reviews from yours truly. We often tend to forget what happened so long ago, so I’ll do us all a favour and go through the annals of time (and Star City’s archives) and let us all remember fondly the year that was. Before I continue, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all the best of the New Year.
The Dearly Departed:
No end-of-year list can be complete without a look at those important figures who have left our community. In the case of Magic the Gathering, the departed tend to leave either in infamy or with an accompaniment of tears. Here are my picks for the”Where Are They Now?” awards:
Necropotence, Survival of the Fittest, Replenish, Demonic Consultation banned: In order to take a bite of combo and to re-establish some player interaction in Extended, the DCI banned these four cards… And I could not be more pleased that they did. How often was I on the receiving end of twenty-one points of damage from Replenish on turn 2 or 3, or losing to a continuous Tutor engine because I couldn’t keep up? Meh…Extended now is still not great, since you need dual lands to win more often than not, and Swords to Plowshares nullifies whole strategies, but it is healthy and it is much better than it was nine months ago. Good job, DCI – now get rid of Illusions already! ;).
The Dojo: On January 18, 2001, the world was stunned to learn that one of the most loved (and hated) Magic sites was closing down its doors. Psylum had acquired it previously and simply could not continue to run the site. Tears were shed throughout the community as the first, most venerable, and best Magic site shut its doors forever. If we have ever learned never to take anything for granted, it is now.
Michelle Bush: Dr. Bush was present at Grand Prix New Orleans and did quite well there, and contributed her knowledge of Magic and its metagame to the Sideboard for a short period of time. Of late, she seems to have faded from the sunlight afforded internet writers, hopefully to a happy and fulfilled life in her profession.
“Deranged Dad” Sean Erik Ponce: There are a lot of Deranged Hermits that cried tears of green when in a shocking column dated May 18, 2001, Deranged Dad announced his retirement from Magic writing. His last tale is one of majestic dragons and rainy classes that would rival anything heard on a barstool in a bar full of gamers.
Casey McCarrell: In one of the most hotly debated and defended cases of cheating by a Pro player, McCarrell was accused and convicted of stacking opponent’s decks while shuffling at US Nationals. After looking over his deck, the judges concluded he had indeed been stacking and branded him a three-year suspension from the game. If no one had taken the DCI seriously before, they were now.
David Williams: Another high-profile case of Magic cheating, Mr. Williams was caught with a set of Accumulated Knowledge cards that had bent corners, allowing him to locate them easily and conveniently during shuffling. David was levied a one-year sentence by the DCI.
Theron Martin: In a development that sent shockwaves throughout the Magic community, Mindripper writer and magic technician Theron Martin was suspended for five years for fraudulent tournament reports and profiting therefrom. It seems it all started when Kenny Crawford spilled the beans about shady dealings at a store he attended, and went downhill from there for Mr. Martin. The announcement was so sudden, and so little was said on the subject by the DCI, that many still do not understand what happened.
MTGnews.com: On October 2nd, 2001, the card-slinging world was stunned to hear that one of the most loved and perused sites was closing down for both personal reasons and due to the financial constraints in running a site with very little economic turnover. Raymond Yu, affectionately referred to as”DG,” told us all that the site had not run a profit in over two years and that it was time to stop. We’ll miss you, bud. (Of course, it’s still running as we speak, thankfully, but Lord knows how much longer it will be around – The Ferrett)
Meridian Magic.com: Sic transit gloria mundi! Another fantastic site gone from the Magic world, held by arguably the most socially conscious Magic player on the planet, Cathy Nicoloff. Meridian was afforded a server by MTGnews.com, and it was more than a portal site to the best articles and tech on the web, it was a gem for its quotes, decklists, and other notable items. We’ll miss you, Cathy!
Fact or Fiction restricted: At long last, the DCI did the right thing and restricted Fact or Fiction in Type 1. This card was simply overpowered and there was no reason to play with four in any deck you built. How often did this come up?
I’m glad to say that while Fact or Fiction will still see play, it hopefully will make less appearances than it did before.
The New Arrivals:
Now that the bad news is out of the way, let’s move on to more entertaining stuff, the new people that have made their mark during the year. Some may have been long-standing members of the Magic community, but have simply not had the wide exposure they now have. In no particular order…
Kurtis“Fat Man” Hahn: The man we all know and love pioneered one of the most bizarre and fun formats in Magic in a long, long time. It’s called 5-Color, and involves playing for Ante with 250-card decks that take hours to shuffle but are loads of fun to play with. 5-Color even got added as a format to the Invitational, replacing Type 1 as a format of choice. Go to www.5-color.com and join the craze – it’s lots of fun!
Cpl. Dan A. Rowland, head honcho at CCGprime.com: A little over a year ago appeared a new website, CCGprime.com. It looked kinda low-key, but it was the center for one of the most anticipated events since Tyson vs. Holyfield: The Internet Writers War, which let the whole of netdom vote on who the best writer was. The winner, none other than the inimitable John Friggin’ Rizzo, the soul and conscience of Magic. Mr. Rowland’s column, Ravings of a Lunatic is intelligently written and astute enough to deserve a second look. Keep up the good work Dan!
Apocalypse: After a lackluster appearance from Planeshift, the world of Magic was ready for a kick in the collective pants, and it got it from Wizards as they gave us one of the best expansions ever. Opposite-colour pain lands, a new”Disk” in the form of Pernicious Deed, one of the most hotly debated creatures ever in Spiritmonger and several useful utility cards made sure that deckbuilders stood up and took notice.
Odyssey: I kissed the ground when Mercadian Masques and its slowness left Standard, and embraced Odyssey with open arms. In our local playgroup, many derided Odyssey for its lack of”power” compared to Invasion or Apocalypse, but I strongly disagree with them. There are good cards a plenty, and many subtler ones that will eventually find their way into decks in November.
Magic Online: Word started trickling through the Magic community in late September that Wizards of the Coast was planning on releasing an Internet-compatible version of Magic. Panic spread like wildfire. Did this mean the end of Apprentice? Were we going to have to buy virtual booster backs? Would this kill the little guy (game stores) once and for all? While I intend to keep playing Apprentice, I must admit that Magic Online looks spectacular and that it deserves a first look at least.
www.misetings.com: This site offers what is sadly lacking from many Magic sites: A sense of humour and an acerbic wit that can make even the most cynical of people smile. With headlines like”Pro Tour Player Attends PTQ: The Horror, The Horror” and”Nate Heiss To Replace Barbara Walters,” what’s not to like? Great idea and great work, guys…
Reanimator: Seen at Pro Tour: New Orleans, this deck was a throwback to Tempest Block, when you could Firestorm a fatty then reanimate it and just lay the beats ’til you won. This deck uses Entomb and Buried Alive to put a variety of creatures into the graveyard, including Crosis, Multani, or Verdant Force, and go for the throat from there. If things go wrong, it can win through Zombie Infestation and Squee and Krovikan Horror, creating a ton of tokens and overrunning. Great fun!
Anna Marie Smith: What better way to close and end of year list that to mention the arrival of a bundle of Joy into Bennie Smith family? December 30th of last year gave another young person a chance to enter this world and make her mark at a later date. Congrats, Bennie – and remember, White Weenie and Combo are the first decks you want to show her ;).
I hope that this list proved entertaining and enlightening to you all, it was loads of fun and I hope to be here next year to do the same. Props and apologies to all those I may have skipped over; make sure you take some time to rest and enjoy yourselves over the holiday season!