(EDITOR’S NOTE — Due to various StarCity-related troubles and the fact that Josh is far more literate than I, this article was supposed to go up two Fridays ago, and we missed it. Then, when I would have put it up this Friday, I wasn’t sure whether "exnihilation" was a word or a spelling mistake… so in the thrash for a definition, this went up even later. So if it seems untimely, this is entirely my fault and not Josh’s. And incidentally, "exnihilation" is the opposite of "annihilation." D’oh. — The Ferrett)
Enemies and enemies of my enemies, if there were an ocular equivalent of choking, you can bet I’d be writing with an aim of visiting it on you.
I can honestly say this is my least-favorite time of year, magic-wise, at least. Otherwise, that honour goes to the dead of winter, when the winds are more bitter than I am about them. Even still, this transition between summer and fall is near the top of the shop. My everyday life suffers greatly, forcing a deeper-than-usual retreat into the fantasy-land beyond the magical glowing box.
I don’t even own one of these boxes. I’ve been forced to my current location at the Public Library, sandwiched between Religious Studies and Educational Videos. There are seventeen moustaches distributed amongst dust jackets, video boxes and patrons. The fact that I know this demonstrates the verve with which I now write.
The first question in such a situation is "What is to blame?", because something certainly must be. I fancy myself a bit of an expert in scapegoating, but as much as I would love a little lynching I’m going to have to fault the more abstract collection of things called the "time of year."
In mundane capital-"R"-Reality the culprits are things like the organisation required of moving and the time and effort to keep myself enrolled in school, combined with the frustration of keeping all that in line. Never mind the thought of leaving a life of leisure for one of hard work.
True enough, last year I didn’t leave my life of leisure whatsoever, but look where that got me. I’m using a series of clever ruses to pay my tuition.
In terms of Magic, the problem is that we are at the end of a PTQ season, right before the release of a new set that prompts the rotation of Type 2.
We are in The Drought. The influx of new information is on the horizon, but not arriving fast enough. The result of this anticipation is a devaluing of present theory. There’s very little worth saying about Type 2, because it’s about to move from Nicholas Cage to John Travolta. Nothing is going to be so important that it demands the attention of the last month of sanctioned play. Also, since we’re at the end of this round of PTQs, there’s less call for MBC analysis.
In casual play I imagine this problem is nearly non-existent. The game is the game, and no matter the time of year it’s still worth playing. So too, there will always be things worth saying about the casual experience.
In the world of Tournament Magic, however, there’s suddenly a lot less worth saying.
The consequences are immediate. A lot of things happen at once and every single one of them gets on my nerves one way or another. This is probably because most of my writing of late has fallen victim of The Drought faster than rice would.
There’s a shift in writing from the specific to the general. This is because the subject of the discourse is suddenly changed from a thing well known into a possibility cloud. Hard to talk sensibly about the new Type 2 when its waveform isn’t due to collapse for a couple weeks yet.
Hand in hand with this is speculation about the new set. This I loathe slightly less than the endless dissections of the spoiler once it does arrive, and that only barely beats out spontaneous acupuncture. MTGNews does a fine job of what they do, but let’s not forget the inevitable errors. I don’t care who they have magnifying the blurred image of the uncut foil sheet, the phrase "you gain the game" will not appear on any card.
All this is to cover my paranoia that Wizards is going to botch what they put into motion with Mercadian Masques. Have no illusions, this is a Rosewater set. The Sideboard’s measured leaking of Invasion cards is only fuelling the fire. Even beyond that, these cards represent a small percentage of the whole. I have absolutely no idea what’s going on behind the curtain.
Suffice it to say that this exnihilation is driving me spare.
Finally, there is retroactive analysis of the bygone season. It is here that I think we can all find respite. It’s easy to disregard the tail-end reports so readily available as relics from a dead format. Resist that urge! You really could learn something to apply at a later date.
There’s already been plenty of talk about the reworking of MBC decks to include 6th Edition cards. It always strikes me as half-hearted, though. I think this results from a projection what I perceive to be a common apprehension at the appearance of a new set. What if the power levels are way off? Most of this fine language will have to be thrown out the window.
Nevertheless, an attitude of controlled dispassion will probably do wonders for keeping your online interest up.
While offline, there’s plenty to do to keep your smiles about you. Team Comf is running rampant with 100-Card True Highlander decks. I’m not recommending them just for the diversion from "high-level" Magic. In these desperate times, it’s best to keep the mind busy, lest you plunge into pathos like some Victorian heroine. Even if you can’t stand the prospect of "fun", a new format (even Limited, just for the change of pace) can do a lot to keep your skills honed. Lucky for you, it’s the next PTQ format.
And if you do come across something new and wonderful, by all means tell the world. Otherwise you’re left at the mercy of hacks like myself.
As for the rest of us: Do something meaningful.
Never mind the thirst from lack of water. What’s worse is the cracked and dry landscape, serving as a constant reminder.