One Last Time / One Hundred Times

Jim Davis says goodbye to a rotating Standard favorite of his, then he celebrates a huge milestone in his Magic writing career! Congrats on a well-earned top 4 at #SCGMKE, Jim!

Saying goodbye is always tough.

It is hard to find the words, as poets have spent humanity’s existence searching in vain for the perfect ones. The range of human emotions is far too vast
for something as simple as language to accurately portray, and words often fall short. When we spend a large amount of time with another, we create a bond
that is indescribable. When we must depart, that bond is separated.

Thankfully, the best way to express affection is not with words but with actions:

Last weekend I was able to say goodbye the only way that made sense:

Play Elspeth, Sun’s Champion with Dissolve backup.

At #SCGMKE, I decided to sleeve up U/W Control one last time, and despite losing my first two rounds for the second Open in a row, I was able to rally back
all the way to top 4. Samuel Braatz was able to take me down with his Sultai Control deck in an epic semi-final match, and while I was unable to present
Elspeth with a trophy as a going away present, I think I did her proud.

I’m not going to spend too much time talking about the deck, as clearly many of the key pieces are rotating, but I do want to talk about a very important
part of the deck.

Even in a deck that was full of counterspells and not especially well suited for him, Jace Vryn’s Prodigy was nothing short of excellent for me. I know, no
big surprise, but Jace has nowhere to go but up. The format is shrinking by two sets, and a lot of good, cheap removal spells have left the format as well.
Fetchlands will also be extremely abundant in almost all decks, which will make Jace flip even faster than usual.

Jace is going to be a force to be reckoned with in Battle for Zendikar Standard.

As a byproduct of this, Ojutai’s Command also gains a ton of value. While I initially was very unimpressed by the card, the synergy it has with Jace,
Vryn’s Prodigy is absolutely fantastic. Being able to constantly present copies of Jace over and over again in the midgame is very powerful, and it really
puts the impetus on your opponent to be doing proactive things or they will be put in a very difficult catch 22. Dismiss is also a fine card, and it is
even better when you are drawing and playing a Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy with haste for free instead of drawing a random card.

As sets rotate out, the relative power level of cards change, and with less competition overall, Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy and Ojutai’s Command will be even
more powerful than they were in Theros/Khans of Tarkir Standard.

While losing Elspeth, Sun’s Champion to rotation is a cause for sadness, we have cause for celebration as well!

This is my 100th article for StarCityGames.com!

It’s almost hard to believe, but I’ve hit the triple digits. Truth be told I almost completely missed it, but I’ve gotta say it’s a nice mark to hit. I’m
not the most sentimental guy on the planet, but I am truly thankful for the opportunity that StarCityGames.com has given me over the last two years, and
thankful for the great people I’ve gotten to work with (except Cedric of course, I don’t understand how that guy still has a job).

Today I want to look back at my top 8 favorites.


One thing I really love is both telling and listening to stories, and when I saw the #MTGStories hashtag floating around Facebook and Twitter, I had to get
involved. I read a lot of really fun ones, and then had to dig back for some of my personal favorites.

All three of the moments here were some of the most amusing and exciting moments in my time playing Magic. None of them were really that high stakes (even
the Pro Tour Kobe one was just me playing for 5-3 to day two), but what makes them interesting and enjoyable memories is how crazy and outlandish they are.
Seemingly impossible comebacks are always exciting, and are made even more so when the other player is caught completely off guard.

7thWin Equity

It’s easy to forget it sometimes, but Magic is an incredibly complicated game. Like, insanely complicated. Even the best players in the world rarely play a
game without making some sort of misstep, and players are expected to come up with the best play in extremely complicated scenarios very quickly – even
when hours of discussion may not yield a consensus ‘correct’ play.

In this article, I examined, in great detail, a fairly simple scenario from a match at an Invitational. My opponent, who had no cards in hand and was dead
on board, plucked a Falkenrath Aristocrat off the top of his deck with me on exactly four life to turn a certain defeat into a victory. Rather than bemoan
my bad luck, I decided to look at the choices I had made on the previous turn and see if I was properly playing to our outs.

One of the things that makes Magic difficult is the uncertainty of the game. Trying to play to your outs, or to play against your opponent’s outs, is very
murky when combined with all the other factors at play in a game. Even after 2000 words and careful examination, I could only be somewhat sure of my

6thFuneral for a Friend

Sometimes you’ve just gotta have some fun, and this article was a blast to write. I’ve been known for playing Goblins for years, having often been called
“The Goblin King” and/or “The Goblin Master,” and while I never loved the titles, I did in fact love the deck.

Goblins was always my favorite deck because of how well it melded so many excellent elements. It was fairly aggressive, it had a great mana engine in
Aether Vial, it drew more cards than the blue decks, it had tutoring, and it had the fantastic mana denial of Wasteland and Rishadian Port. The deck could
kill fast or it could grind with the best of them, and best of all, it was insane against non-combo Brainstorm decks yet completely disrespected.

Plus how can you not love my crude photoshop at the end?


Let’s face it, lists are fun! Hell, we’re right in the middle of a list right now! Everyone loves making them, and everyone loves talking about why they
made them. Just like the #MTGStories hashtag showed us, Magic is such a great game because aside from the competition and serious stuff, it’s also just
fun. Magic creates great moments, and great moments turn into great stories. It’s easy to get attached to certain cards, and it really feels like some
cards are just made for some people.

I was super happy with how well this article was received, and also how viral the theme went. While not everyone used the #MyTop8Cards hashtag like I would
have liked, more important was everyone got involved in telling stories about their favorite cards and sharing great memories, and that’s a win in my book.

4thI’d Keep It Again

A common theme in these articles so far is that I really like storytelling, but it’s often more for entertainment and fun than for practical purposes. This
article, thanks to being able to go back and watch my match after the fact, was able to get the best of both worlds. While I was able to follow the
narrative of the match, I was also able to give my real time strategic thoughts that showed what was I thinking at every point during the games.

The match in question was the finals of #SCGDAL, so this article really had everything going for it – a tense and exciting match with a lot on the line, a
lot of difficult choices, a classic aggro vs. control matchup, and some lucky swings. The only thing missing was a trophy!

Sometimes you make the right choice and don’t get paid off, and that is a very important thing for all Magic players to come to terms with.

3rdThe Gambler’s Fallacy

I can clearly remember walking away from that blackjack table with Nicole and talking to her about how I had to write about the experience. Aside from just
being a fun story, it really goes to show how much the average person fails to understand the basic concepts of probability. People can be so emotional
when it comes to issues of probability that they somehow completely abandon any notion of logic or reason. It’s intriguing how much of a part of the human
psyche superstition is, and how it almost feels like our default or ingrained response.

While your average Magic player is certainly more intelligent than your average person, they are certainly not invulnerable to the pitfalls of fallacy.
Most Magic players know if you flip heads on a coin three times in a row, it’s still 50/50 to do so again, but they don’t necessarily put that knowledge
into practice. This article was a fun way to do a ‘fundamentals’ type article that was a lot of fun, and I was super happy with how much discussion the
Monty Hall problem at the end created.

2ndOne Word

This was one of my first articles, but it is still one of my favorites.

Simplicity is key when you are teaching. Your goal in trying to teach someone something is to break it down in the simplest way possible, and create a
simple framework for them to work from and build on. This article broke it all the way down to one simple word: “Why?” Rather than just worry about
whatever we were doing, asking why encourages the player to actually try and understand what their opponent is doing, and in turn delve much
deeper into the strategy of the game.

The idea for the article came from how I used to handle my tutoring appointments when I was working at the writing center at Stony Brook University. A
student would come in with an unfinished or ill-thought out paper, and I would probe with questions about their topic. As they answered them with simple,
one sentence answers, I would continually pelt them with the question “Why?” every time they made a statement. This forced them to look deeper into their
topic, and very often they would verbalize to me the heart of their argument and then just need to get it down onto the page.

1st“You What?”

As both a musician and an avid music fan, when someone asks me what the best song on an album is, I often end up giving what I think is the “best” song,
and then what is my favorite. Usually I will get a puzzled look, and then they will ask how can I recognize a song as clearly the best, but still like
another one more. The simple answer is that “best” and “favorite” are not mutually inclusive.

I’m not sure if it is actually my “best” work, but this article is definitely my favorite.

It contains zero strategic advice, no decklists, no card discussion, and not even some good basic fundamentals. Rather, it is just a fun and silly story
about a good friend who loves to feel the gamble. It is perhaps not “useful” for someone trying to get better at Magic, but at the end of the day Magic is
not the stock market. It’s not life and death medicine at a hospital; it’s not billion dollar construction projects. Magic is a game, and Magic is supposed
to be fun.

This story makes me laugh, and happily, it made others laugh too. Also more crude photoshop humor; what more could you want?!

And Many More

Elspeth, Sun’s Champion is great, and writing a hundred articles is great, but as always, the future is on the horizon. I hope everyone has enjoyed the
articles as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them, and I look forward to the next hundred. But for now, I’ve got a spoiler to look over and decks to brew.