The Daily Shot: That’s Me In The Spotlight – Losing My Credibility

Geordie’s back now that his new modem has arrived – and the Daily Shot continues! Today, he discusses the reasons for bringing his Alter Reality-based OBC deck to a Grand Prix Trial…

Credibility as a Magic writer, especially in the realm of strategy, generally goes hand in hand with success. If you’re not known for high finishes and format-breaking innovation, then people will read you through a layer of apprehension – the sort of attitude that comes naturally when you’re taking an article with many, many grains of salt. An eyebrow will get raised, and with a somewhat incredulous chuckle, they’ll crack the seal on a new article. The click that starts it all will be accompanied by a qualifier statement of some sort, probably along the lines of:

“What goofy idea is he cooking up this time?”

They won’t think less of you. If you think that’s what I’m saying, then I’m giving you entirely the wrong idea. No, the readers of the Magic world will still give you some of their much sought-after attention. Spellslingers will surf on in, wanting to relax after a hard day of work, and these weary souls, seeking respite from the maelstrom, will read you because they like the way you write, or because they’re curious.

Without the credibility, though, you’re just another shmoe when it comes to deck design, Limited analysis, set reviews, and any number of bread-and-butter Magic article topics.

Maybe you can write like nobody’s business. You’re absolute gangbusters when you’re at a keyboard, and the English language is your bitch. That’s all well and good; the problem is that just when you get people entertained, just when they start believing that you know what you’re talking about (mostly because you communicate your ideas quite well, being a fairly good writer and so forth), you go down to a moderately-attended GPT and drop after three rounds with a 1-2 record staring you in the face.

Ouch. You bring people in, and then scare them away by playing a three-color deck in Block. With four Hapless Researchers. You scare them away by completely misjudging that tried and true warrior of Magic articles everywhere -“the metagame.” Oh, and you have three Alter Realities in your maindeck.

Goodbye, credibility. Don’t forget to write.

This “1-2 with a Rogue deck, whoops!” syndrome is the terrible consequence of a gambit that didn’t pay off, and it’s a trap into which a lot of people fall.

Including me. Here’s how I got suckered in.

I’ll start off by sharing with you an idea that I’ve had for a while now. You see, as an Internet Magic columnist you have an invisible resume of sorts. Here’s me:

Geordie Tait

-guy who writes a lot

Trying to expand that little resume, in the never-ending search for credibility, can get you into trouble. Say I go to the GPT in Garden City and manage to mise the whole thing with Control Black. My invisible resume might look something like this:

Geordie Tait

-guy who writes a lot

-fairly good player

Not bad. It’s a small change, but an important one! People will be far more willing to give me fifteen minutes of their valuable time each day if I’m a”fairly good player,” as opposed to a player of indeterminate ability. Reading an article by one of those guys is like eating the cafeteria mystery meat. You never know what you’re going to get – could be a tasty bit of beef, could be salmonella. So you figure I’d be satisfied with”fairly good player,” right?

Apparently not. I fell into a classic trap by thinking to myself:

“What if I go to the GPT and win the whole thing with a rogue deck? That would certainly be sweet.

I was trying to get this resume:

Geordie Tait

-guy who writes a lot

-rogue deckbuilding genius

-fairly good player

What did I get instead? A black mark on my permanent record.

Geordie Tait

-guy who writes a lot

-jabroni who had two Llawan in his deck at GPT Cleveland, Garden City 2002

Not impressive. Actually, it’s a little bit embarrassing. I’m sure some players can forgive me for trying out something fun and exciting, “following my heart,” so to speak, but a good percentage of cardboard crack fanatics have no patience for stuff like that.

I typically look to major events as a chance to get some of that sweet, sweet high finish goodness. It’s like heroin. You get this funny feeling after a high finish, probably from the realization that people might actually put some stock in what you say about mana ratios and card selection. It lasts for a while, but eventually it goes away because you haven’t won anything since the Carter administration.

Then you want another hit of that credibility. You want to roll up your sleeve and spike your vein with that sugar that misers know so well… And it’ll cost you. It’ll take testing, study, research, time, effort. You have to keep your eye on the prize. If you spread yourself too thin, you’re going down. Building a strong deck, tweaking it with personal touches, and learning to play it in all matchups – that’s a great approach.

Building a rogue deck with a bunch of janky cards, doing five hundred goldfish draws in each configuration, playing about seven or eight test matches total, and then packing the whole thing up and heading off to the GPT? That’s a recipe for disaster, grasshopper.

I made at least ten mistakes in preparing for GPT Cleveland in Garden City… And tomorrow, we’re going to go through all of them so you can avoid them. For now though, I’ll just leave you with the decklist. Don’t make the mistake of thinking this deck is totally awful, because it isn’t – it can win games and matches. The day may not come, however, when we can say that it is consistent or good. It’s middle-of-the-road, with too much combo reliance and a shaky manabase and numerous card selection issues. That’s what happens when you only test seriously with goldfish.

In a crazy sort of way though, I’m proud of it – even though the whole concept of Sleight Knight isn’t strong in an environment where the best control deck uses almost no targeted removal, and where the best two-drop can change colors, and where anyone can get a similar level of evasion by throwing Glory or Wonder into the graveyard.

Sleight Knight 2002 (GPT Cleveland, Geordie Tait)

4 Hapless Researcher

4 Mental Note

4 Werebear

4 Aether Burst

4 Nantuko Blightcutter

4 Phantom Centaur

4 Mystic Enforcer

3 Alter Reality

3 Wonder

2 Llawan, Cephalid Empress

2 Breakthrough

10 Island

7 Forest

4 Sungrass Prairie

1 Tarnished Citadel


4 Envelop

4 Elephant Guide

3 Ray of Revelation

2 Genesis

2 Upheaval

Tomorrow, as I said, we’ll go over the mistakes. These are things you never want to do when you’re preparing for a Constructed event or building a deck. For today, though, I’m going to take my leave.

I have to get a deck ready for the PTQ this weekend. I doubt it will have Alter Reality in it, truth be told.

I’m just going for:

Geordie Tait

-guy who writes a lot

-fairly good player

-PTQ winner

There’s another line that I could try to add:

“Rogue deckbuilder.”

This time though, I’m going to resist the temptation. “Fairly good player” is good enough for me. And actually, barring that…I don’t mind being just “Guy who writes a lot.”

Have a good one.

Geordie Tait

[email protected]