Mixed Knuts: File Under “B” For Bitching

When Kai Budde sits down at a table to play Magic, he’s required to have the first words of his mouth be”I must break you.” He also needs to have a hot six-foot blonde bombshell sitting next to him for all photo-ops that he refers to as”his manager.”

I may be the worst player ever on Magic Online. In spite of participating in the Beta to the tune of about ten first- or second-place finishes in twenty drafts, I now have compiled an 0-3 record in drafts and an 0-4 record in my Sealed Deck league.

For those of you playing the home game, 0-7 is not so good.

I even got beat by a guy the other day that had Piper’s Melody in his main deck! If you don’t know what it is, look it up – I’m too embarrassed to explain what it does here. Let’s just say that you will probably never see it again, but if you do that opponent should probably have a big fat”BAD PLAYER” tattoo emblazoned on their forehead.

So why don’t I just put myself out of my misery? Well, I have, in a way. I have sworn off drafting Od-Tor until Judgment shows up, so that I can stop being confused about how much White does or does not suck. As for the Sealed League, it seems to be a relatively good deal for those who want to get a lot of play in, and who don’t have enough cards to make the top Standard decks yet, or who can’t seem to win a draft. Unfortunately, when the best card you open is a Wild Mongrel, when none of your creatures has a butt larger than three, and when your rares consist of Magnivore, Morningtide, Extract, and something else completely forgettable, you may find it difficult to win much in Sealed as well.

The problem with playing online is that it combines the normal difficulties one has in winning a Magic tournament with some additional factors that you will never see in the real world.

Factor #1) In the real world, I will never lose because of an incorrect click. In Magic Online, I make a clicking mistake about once a week that costs me a game.

Factor #2) In the real world, I rarely draw, and I never run out of time due to slow play. In MODO, I have lost multiple times due to the freaking thirty-minute time limit per individual. Any time you play a complex deck and you go to a third game in a draft, you stand a very real chance of this happening, which means you lose (or win) because of funky timing rules that only exist online. Not only that, but you also stand a chance of getting cheesed out by savage opponents. It’s legal, but it’s so sleazy that it makes you feel like you need to go wash up afterwards.

Factor #3) Pros are frickin’ everywhere! Last week Jimmy Bean (Jim Ferraiolo) and I tried to hop in a draft, and ducked out of no less than five straight queues because they had well-known pros like Jens Thoren, Ryan Fuller, and Kyle Rose in them. Drafting with Pros is not that big of a deal to some of you (I draft with two to four people every week who either are or have been on the Pro Tour – and seemingly fail to improve in spite of this, but I digress – but most Magic players would prefer to draft a little closer to the median skill level, and right now Magic Online doesn’t offer that. It certainly did before you started having to pay for things, but now that the Pros know they can make dolla bills online for playing Magic, they are out in force.

Factor #4) No Judgment. I’m done spending money on Magic Online until they catch up in set releases, and if they continue to lag the releases of sets behind the real world, I’m done period. I have a computer so that I can be all cutting edge and shizzy, getting access to the new set two months after release in the real world is decidedly not cutting edge. Release the freakin’ set already, folks. (From what I hear when I wrote this, it should have been available on August 1st… But we shall see.)

Don’t get me wrong; Magic Online is the best tool in the world to deck testing, provided you have the cards to test with. Card sorting is simple, and the statistical tools that detail your deck are very useful. Playing something like a Wild Research deck would seem to be the death of a thousand clicks, but most Constructed decks should be relatively easy to get used to playing online.

That said, there is no such thing as a proxy online, and you really need close to a complete collection to test a variety of decks. Unfortunately, there is no way on God’s green earth that I am going to pay enough money to have both an online collection and a real life collection. I already spend far too much money on this damned addiction every month – I am certainly not going to spend it twice. Maybe if the sets I redeemed online stayed in my online collection as well as being shipped to my home, I might consider it (particularly if I could buy a box at seventy ducats a pop). Until that day, you’ll find that there are too many Magic outlets chasing too few dollars for me to play Pokemon and try to catch them all.

The other problem I have with Magic: Online is that I hate it. Sort of. It’s not really a pure hatred, for deep down in my soul I understand its usefulness, and even admire its execution… But I hate Magic Online for what it is not. For me, Magic is not social – and if Magic isn’t social, then it isn’t particularly fun either. Sure, you can say winning is fun, and winning prizes is great, but it’s a whole lot less fun when I can’t make fun of everybody else’s bad plays and stoopid catch-phrases. The thrill, the suspense, and the entertainment value of the Online game just can’t match up to what I can get at the local card store.

Magic is like masturbation – sure it can satisfy a Magic craving or ten, but Magic is better with other people, and too much of either will make you go blind.

That’s just my opinion though, I could be wrong.

Staying with Magic Online… Last week, and for the first time in quite a while, Brainburst actually provided some info that was worth the money for their premium service. Deadbeat Dad Zvi Mowshowitz posted information regarding print runs from 7th edition for Magic Online. After posting what looked to be the entire common run from 7th edition, Zvi then asked the rest of the community to send him data regarding print runs from the other formats, so that he could post those as well at a later date.

Now that’s information worth paying for. Not that I haven’t enjoyed reading Chad Ellis stuff for the last two months, but when you throw print runs out there for the major draft sets, you certainly pique my interest and at least make me consider opening up my wallet to reward you. Congrats for publishing something truly worthwhile. Now you just have to hope that Wizards doesn’t decide to switch up the print runs online, which would be a helluva lot easier than switching them up with real cardboard.

Andrew Stokinger, paging Andrew Stokinger… I’m waiting to see somebody at Team Academy take potshots at one of the articles you’ve written for any of the two million sites that have published you lately. Last week’s article on this very site (here’s to wondering if The Rat King cuts this) can be summarized by saying”Bird decks – not complete sh*t.” Not that some of your stuff hasn’t been interesting, but other bits have been less than stellar. Show some equanimity and let the kids over at TA go wild on one of your articles (I’ll even toss up any of my articles to be embarrassingly ridiculed as part of the bargain). Hell, let Mouth do it, he’s got time on his hands.

^^That’s me, asking for trouble. Or maybe I’m just asking for more TA hijinks, who knows.

RAW is WAR! (to a dyslexic anyway)

Speaking of trouble, I have a big fat complaint with regard to it and the Magic community lately – there is no frickin’ controversy left in Magic anymore. Oh sure, TA is still around, making fun of people who suck, but that’s old hat. Where are the Rizzonians, who stir up trouble just by writing an article or three that takes a stand? Where are the bitch fights between Pros anymore – Pikula and Long, Shuler and Vienneau, Wise and anybody? Where are the big-name bannings for cheating? Where are the bad boys that manage to stir up trouble wherever they go? Where has all the action gone?

I mean, just look at the state of nothingness that we are currently in… All the big names who got banned are pretty much back on the tour (Fuller, Maher, and Fear, to name a few.) Boooring. Nobody interesting has been given the boot lately. Wizards’ crackdown on cheating has gone so well that they kicked all the truly interesting folks right out of the game. Not that cheaters shouldn’t be punished or anything… I just think they should have the option to be caned or banned and see how the choices play out.

The biggest current arguments among writers are derived from whether or not Type 1 deserves a Pro Tour event – and people taking the typical pot shots at Wizards. Freaking Type 1! Insomniacs think about that format to try and get to sleep! I miss the days of people walking around with T-shirts that stated”IDs are for p**sies.”

Speaking of p**sies, but when was the last time you heard about two guys at a PT wanting to throw down? Okay, Wise and Benafel got into it during the Nice Masters – but that’s Standard Operating Procedure for the big guy. (I hear they kicked him”oot” of Canada for causing too much of a commotion). I guess we need the guys who got banned to be back on the damned tour, just so they can cause enough problems to make things interesting again.

If Wizards wants to spice things up, here’s what I suggest:

I want to see some real hatred out there in Pro Tour land, not all this team swapping BS. If a guy leaves your team, you should want to pound him right square in the ass for whatever reason he left.”I have cancer.” F**k you buddy, that just makes it easier for me to give you the asskicking you really deserve! Just because you’re bald and undergoing chemotherapy doesn’t mean you are off-limits for a boot to the head. Ya never should have left the team, pal…

When these guys sit down at a table across from each other, the first words out of their mouths should be”c**ksucker” or something equally despicable. In fact, the only things you should be able to say to your opponent are things bad enough to get you thrown out of a baseball game by an umpire. If it’s not game-related and it doesn’t make my grandma’s hair stand on end, you can’t say it. If you have any questions about whether or not something can be used, you can call over Rosewater as the judge. The guy wrote for Roseanne – I’m sure that he’s familiar with just about every possible epithet that exists in the English language after that experience.

The only time you should shake your opponent’s hand at a PT is if you are stinkfisting them. Just imagine Zvi or Kyle Rose’s stinkfist and you can see how that would discourage handshaking in a hurry.

I want WWF trash talk included in the match coverage for every PT event from now on.

When Kai Budde sits down at a table to play Magic, he’s required to have the first words of his mouth be”I must break you.” He also needs to have a hot six-foot blonde bombshell sitting next to him for all photo-ops that he refers to as”his manager.”

I want a side event where the finals are decided by the best”yo mama…” jokes.

I want a real Grudge Match at the Grudge Match, where you combine Magic and the Ultimate Fighting Championship in the same event, and all tiebreakers are decided by who won the season series between the Red Sox and Yankees that year. Included in the prize for winning a Grudge Match should be the punishment that the losing side has to literally kiss some ass, pictures of which could be posted on the front page of yourmovegames.com or Neutralground.com until next year’s event.

I want to see a ten-year-old kid sit down at a table and tell the Psychatog player exactly where he can shove his counterspells when the kid’s ‘Monger fails to hit the table.

I want Wizards to hire Chris Rock to cover the finals of a PT, just so I can listen to him make fun of everybody. At least you’d be guaranteed that the coverage would get a better slot on ESPN2.

Why the hell aren’t there any notable black men in Magic, anyway?

Last but not least, I want a”Bad Boy of the Year” race that places somebody at the Invitational. Without villains, there are no super-heroes, right? And of course, once at the Invitational you’ll have to suspend the stoopid language filter on Magic Online, just so you can enjoy the witty repartee. Shvartsman can even track the”A**hole of the Week” as part of his Week in Review column, so everybody can see just how entertaining Magic players really are.

Screw the niceties folks – make with the entertainment!

Aside: You know it’s a down period for controversy when the poster child for bad boy behavior (PTR Szigeti) gets his ass kicked on a bulletin board by a Canadian. Canadians are the nicest people in the whole freaking world, and yet one chopped PTR off at the knees with a simple swipe of his pen (er, keyboard.) (I’d link to it, but the topic seems to have disappeared off of Wizards board, big surprise there.)

Ten Minutes Of Your Life You Wish You Had Back

Did you know that Bubblicious gum is owned by Pfizer (not to be confused with Price Pfister, the pfabulous pfetish (or was that pfaucet) company with the pfunny name), the drug company that produces Viagra? If yer having problems keeping the wang up and can’t get your doctor to give you a prescription for the big V, go grab some Gonzo Grape and see if you can get strange and chew gum at the same time. Be careful about any cunning linguistic activities though…

I got dragged along to go see Ethan Hawke give a reading from his new book this week and I was pleasantly surprised by three things: 1) Ethan Hawke is actually kind of cool and a lot more down to earth than you expect the typical Hollywood actor to be. 2) His book apparently doesn’t suck. 3) 80% of his audience was comprised of women. Gentlemen, if you are looking to pick up some fine ladies, go help Ethan promote his new book.

Word for the wise: Don’t try Birds and Type 2. OBC = fine (Stokinger even says so). Type 2 should be avoided.

Speaking of OBC, things are starting to heat up around here. There are no less than four OBC qualifiers within a three-hour drive of my home (technically there are six, but four of the events are held on the same weekends,) so interest in block testing is even hotter than it was for last year’s IBC season. I have a testing group and the start of a testing gauntlet and hope to start posting results and opinions next week detailing the best decks for the upcoming season. My guess is that the OBC metagame may be just as random as last year’s Invasion metagame, with different decks taking the top slot at PTQs each week, but only time will tell.

Quote of the week:

“Well, I go to parties, and there are drunk girls there…” – Andy Gibb’s full response when asked”Hey Gibb, do you score?”

Quote of the week #2:

“How did corporate executives start feeling they had to spend half their time doing lap dances for market analysts?” – Bill Keller from the New York Times, discussing stock markety-type things. Now that’s a Champagne Room that you certainly don’t want to see. Unless, of course, you like pudgy, hairy, sixty-year-old white men in thongs. If that sets your libido alight, you probably need more help than I can provide.

I’ll be back next week with real live OBC testing results, which may or may not get read by you, but it should certainly make The Big Marmot happy. (That’s the Ferrett, for those in Cluelessville.)

The Holy Kanoot

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