The Huge Ask the Editor Blowout Special!

For one day and one day only, Teddy Card Game answers all the questions that he never got to during the normal run of the series (all 24 pages of them). If you’ve ever wondered about Kanoot’s thoughts on… well, just about anything, there’s probably an answer contained within – he even remembered the cheesecake. For those who’ve been clamoring for a little more Ask the Editor, this is your last chance to get in on the action before it disappears… FOREVER!

When I first proposed the Ask the Editor column back in October, I promised to answer every question I received. Well, after two months of writing (and traveling) I still hadn’t gotten to everyone and that fact gnawed on my conscience every night while I was sleeping, haunting my dreams with whispers of “betrayer” and “teller of false truths” until I finally broke down this weekend and answered every damned question that was left in my inbox. There were a lot of them, so it’s better that I just dispense with the intro and get to the answering, or else the ghosts of questions past may never leave me alone.

Dear Knut,

Why aren’t you writing more?

Peter Jesuale

Former U.S. Nats Top 8 member

Dear Peter,

Your name seems awfully French for you to be an American. Are you sure that you aren’t Canadian or something? Maybe your middle name is Lillian and you just aren’t telling anyone. Aaaaanyway…

I am writing. I did the Ask the Editor column on this very site for most of the months of November and December and it seems like I’m always off somewhere doing coverage. In fact, if you haven’t read the coverage from Osaka, at least check out this article right here – it’s the best idea I’ve had in months and all I had to do was type it. Thanks again to Ron Foster, Keita Mori, and Fujieda for taking the time to make something awesome.

Another thing that people don’t realize is that it frequently takes me six to ten hours to write an article, time that is often better spent tackling a number of the great articles that I literally have not had time to put up lately. Our cup currently overfloweth (this is great, by the way – keep ’em coming) and the people who benefit from it are our readers, so if I can spend that time making six other articles look better or in just writing one of my own, I often pick the former. Oh, and Peter’s tournament report from Chicago where his team started off an astounding 8-0 should be up on the site tomorrow.

I’m a huge Postal Service fan and am very excitted to have someone reporting on good music since I’ve been away from school. So the question… have you heard of a band called Lovedrug? If no, find them. Listen. They are, quite honestly, the best group I’ve heard in a while. It would behoove (stole your word) you to hear them. So maybe my babbling isn’t enough for a decklist, but who knows. Worst case scenario, you take 5 minutes to listen to a new band to decide they suck, where I spent 5 trying to con a decklist out of you. Well, either way, peace.


I haven’t heard of them and tragically, even though I’ve had this e-mail since October, I never got around to checking them out. It goes back on my list of things to do as of now. Thanks, Cisco.

Well, I really love magic, but I am a ‘poor college student’ so I find that I’m faced with either devoting my money and time to playing and testing and going to tournements, or, say, food and rent and school and work. I’m very aware of and willing to make the monetary commitment necesarry to stay involved with the game, but I’m concerned with how best to make the moneny I DO spend count. SO! my question is:

“As someone immersed in the magic world, who communes daily with the pros, and knows all the ropes about competing very seriously, what you say is the best way to get or purchase cards for an aspiring pro player?” or even better, “How do the pros go about purchasing and aquiring their cards?”

Essentially, I find that while I still have all the same love that I’ve always had, my time that I can be going and just trading and hanging out is very limited. So I have been drifting away from magic since any money I would spend on it seems so inefficient as I would only be buying a pack or something. I’m writing to ask for help! I dont want to give up magic, I still want to play in tournaments, and continue to play for years and years. What do YOU do when a new set comes out to get all the cards you need? Do you get a box? Buy 4x commons sets?… Well, now that I think about it, considering you are the editor at SCG, getting cards is probably not too big of a challenge for you, but you know what I mean.

Okay, thank you very much for taking the time to read my ramblings and inquiries!

Sincerely, -Matt

Hmm, there are basically two questions here that don’t actually have anything to do with each other, but you wouldn’t know that. Most Pros are the biggest mooches ever, which is one reason why pros of the past worked hard to develop the barn network. Most people think of “barn” as a pejorative term, but honestly its just a term used to refer to the network of people you don’t know who are friends and associates of Pros that you are more familiar with. Since “barn” is the generic term, I’m of the opinion that people should start referring to their specific group of barns as their “flock” or “herd”, though “posse” or “pack” would seem equally applicable I spose, depending on the character of the group. I have yet to see anyone besides Dave Williams that has any sense of thug style (he looks damned good though), so perhaps we should just stick to the “herd” naming convention, even if kids these days are still into wearing loose hoodies and their pants cinched up around their knees. Anyway, pros are mooches and they only “obtain” cards as a last resort – they generally beg, borrow, and steal to build their Constructed decks.

As for how those of you in the real world should obtain cards, the cheapest way is to buy boxes and then draft with those cards. That way you get dual use out of what you open, become a better Limited player, and presumably snag a decent stock of cards from each set to work from. The next step in this line is learning to trade well, but seeing as how I don’t have much time to do this anymore, I don’t have much advise there.

I’ve heard of a feud between Jamie Wakefield and Geordie Tait that was apparently so heated that Jamie still did not want to talk about it in his recent interview with Ben Bleweiss. All I know is that it had something to do with Asheron’s Call, and I’m wondering if anyone has a more detailed version of the events? Why do they hate eachother so much?

Vishu Doshi

Dear Cpt. Slacker (I know Vishu pretty well),

It definitely had to do with Asheron’s Call, there’s a rather large discrepancy between the two parties as to how it went down, and I’m pleading the fifth as to whether or not I have a more detailed account of the events. Sorry.

Yes, yes… I’m a newbie. So the obvious question to an editor would be what are some of the Magic specific words used mean? There’s a whole list of them, I’m sure you know what they are. And also, a history lesson about the origins of those words would be an appreciated bonus.

For example Carl Winter‘ article “The ghettocon”. They’re a nice read, funny too, but once in a while you come to a sentence that you just have to pause for a bit to think, then continue.

And also, in your article “5 things to know for champs”, you posed the challenge “my decklist for your questions”. So yeah, it’s be good and much appreciated if the question was good enough, a bit like completing two objectives with one question.


Ted Chong

Dear Cheech,

First of all, let me say that I loved you in Tin Cup and the Robert Rodriguez films, but was underwhelmed with your work as Don Johnson’s sidekick in Miami Vice. With regard to your question, The Ferrett wrote a Magic Dictionary thingie some time back that should provide the basics you need to know in terms of Magic slang. The rest of it you’ll just have to pick up from context… everyone uses their own slang around here and while it often bleeds together, certain folks are always looking to innovate further until you can’t actually understand what they are trying to say.

Thanks for axing, yo


If you could design an Unglued/Unhinged card, what would it be?

-Anthony Halderman

This question requires too much thinking for me to be able to answer it, and even if I put in the thought, I’m not sure I’d have a good answer. I’m like the BASF of card design as opposed to the MaRo… he’s brilliant in ways my mind simply does not bend.


You want a good question so here goes…How can I a guy like me. A 22 year old, father of three, wife of one and all around good guy from Missouri get more into magic? I mean as you read the last line(that is unless you are just skimming certain parts) I started life way to early. I love playing the game and would love to go to tournaments or do more with the game of Magic. But I don’t think my family would appreciate me leaving each weekend to go and play in a card game. My wife plays the game and likes to play with me(no not like that…well yeah she does but uh uh uh never mind) she enjoys playing Magic against me but sees nothing else but a game. I see so much more. Any suggestions or ideas of what I could do to further both my gaming and personal career(possibly) in the game of Magic? Appreciate you taking the time reading to considering if this is a good question(or a good paragraph)

P.S. Boston won and so will the Cardinals.

P.S.S What has happened to Ben and his blog I miss his articles of life with magic entwined in it.


Jeremy Jackson

Dear Pacey,

I just wanted to tell you what a huge fan of yours I am. You were obviously the best actor on Dawson’s Creek, you got to be with the smoking hot girl for an extended period of time (and Meredith Monroe, who you dated before Katie Holmes, was equally ridiculous, you lucky bastard), and you had all the funny lines too. In short, you were the glue that made the show (though once again, hot girls in their mid-twenties acting like teenagers can’t hurt, am I right?) and I thank you for your awesome work. Since you were such a player with the ladies, I can’t say I’m all that surprised that you ended up with so many kids at such a young age, but I am a bit shocked that you ended up in Missouri – I figured you for a city boy. Enough blathering, on to the questions!

You’re in a really tough spot, really, though I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that. Kids are time vacuums, and I’m sure your wife doesn’t get enough personal time or you time as it is (what wife does?). The most time efficient way for you to get more involved with MTG is probably to play on Magic Online and work from there, but the cost can be hefty. Regardless, if this route is available to you, it will let you play at any hour of the day or night and you’ll have to worry less about abandoning the fam for a whole weekend or even a particularly long Saturday.

If MTGO isn’t an option, you can do what I did when I was searching for a possible way to make some money back on the game – start writing. If you are good enough, you can win some cash or credit for more cards and pick up valuable skills in the meantime. I know that my wife was overjoyed when I started to get comped for writing because it meant that I basically broke even on the game. Then again, writing tends to take a bunch of time as well, but at least you get benefits from that particular pursuit that extend outside the game as well.

If neither of these are possibilities, I’m afraid you’ve stumped me. Kids are hard damned work, and until they are old enough for you to combine kid time with MTG time, you may have a tough time making a go of it. I wish you the best of luck there, big guy, and give Joey a kiss for me.


P.S. – You were at least half right in your baseball predictions, and as I now know from experience – blogs are hard. Maybe Ben will write some more of his Magical stories when the mood strikes.

Hey Ted

It’s Eric again. After reading a spectacular article posted on your very site, I have decided to run affinity not the way I was running it before but the way it should be. As combo. before I was running it with qumuloxes and hoverguards and scales OH MY! my new ravager decklist is standard Aether vial affinity only it runs green for Commune with Nature and doesn’t run Blue at all. Any way I just really wanted to find out if the whole 3 Broodstar thing was not a joke and is what you planned on running because on “that other site” in the forums quite a few people were being advocates for running Broodstar Affinty because it has good matchups against the rest of the field except for Ravager. My question as simple as it may be has to be answered and explained in full to me.

Why on earth was MUSE not on your list of bands/songs people should be sampling? I have been listening to thier CD for about three or four solid months and one of those months was a burned CD before it was released in the US. Every song on the CD is awesome so another question is now that they are becoming more mainstream, have you heard thier music yet and if so why aren’t they on that list, it rocks.

Good Luck at States


I’m doing this one as a collective answer to all the people who e-mailed me saying “OMGBROODSTARWTFBBQ?!?” I was kidding. Honest. I was making fun of myself for my buffoonery at States 2003 where I forgot to register 3 Broodstar. That’s it. Don’t play it, it’s bad. Honest. The Lox is better, and even he isn’t worth goofing around with.

As to Muse, it sounds like angrier Radiohead, a band that I liked through The Bends, but who lost me somewhere after OK Computer. I can see why people would appreciate them, but people ain’t me, capice? Thanks for the recommendation, though. Here’s one back at you that might grow after you’ve listened to it a couple of times: The Decemberists. Heck, Muse might grow on me if I listen to them more too. I’ll try it and see how it goes. Look for my final 2004 list of excellent albums early next week when I run the 2004 Awards show.

Here’s some questions for you:

As an editor, what things do you look for that make for a good article?

As a writer, what things do you think should be included that make for a good article?

As a reader, what things make for a good article?


John McGuire

Dear Mr. McGuire,

In spite of the fact that I know you were on the juice for the whole 90s, I still love you, and your battle with the home run record and Sammie Sosa will never be forgotten. You always were my favorite Bash Brother, and screw that Jose “House Arrest” Canseco guy, amiright?

Uh, yeah… where was I? Oh right, good articles. As an editor I like things like proper grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and adherence to our writer guidelines (which I need to update. Put that on the “To Do List” as well please, Jeeves). As a reader I like funny, I like good argumentation, and I like data that backs up whatever controversial thing you are trying to say. In lieu of data, I’m willing to accept a reasonable examination of both sides in a debate.

As a writer, I try to combine all of the above. I write different sorts of articles for different things, and inside articles I often include a billion different topics. You would not believe the amount of things I think are good topics that never get written about… I just never have time to pursue them all, sadly.

Write more, damn it! Editing pays the bills, I know, but you ( and Jim!) need to put out more.

Have you ever checked out the British comedy ‘Bottom’?

Think Trailer Park Boys meet Kids in the Hall—-the goods indeed! The recurring opening scene in every episode will make you spill a gut alone.

Bonus Question(for the techy sideboard maybe?!)

Who’s on your Christmas wishlist of writers to recruit for SCG? Think Billy Idol screaming ‘More, More, More…’

ps—great call on the ankles, man. When in doubt, check the ankles!

pps–I’ll be playing Rav with Glimpse of Nature—–it’s quite the Gong Show!

Thanks, and play well at States.

Curt Lorge,

Moose Jaw, Sask, Canada

I’d make fun of this one, but where do you start? This letter is, well, it’s quite the Gong Show! In a good way. I think. Perhaps it’s better to just play the straight man to this one and answer the questions, non?

I’ve never seen Bottom. I need to see The Office, another Britcom that Ferrett swears by, but I’m too busy watching the first couple of seasons of 24 (season 1 is gas, season 2 is… meandering) and The Wire (patently ridiculous. Why haven’t I head more about this show? It’s absolutely broken! Please go out and rent Season 1 of this DVD set, I promise you that you will not be disappointed.), and since I’m not home that often it means I don’t see as much popular entertainment as I would like.

I’m so not telling you who’s on my writer wish list, even if you did quote a good Billy Idol song. Let’s just say that you’ll see a couple of them in the coming weeks and leave it at that, shall we?

Hi, My name is Nathan Reifsteck. I’ve read StarCity for a few years, and have greatly enjoyed it. I was very disapointed when the Ferret quite editing, because I didn’t think anyone could replace him and his unique style. I was extremly pleased to be proven wrong when you started. You don’t have Ferret’s style, but your style is different, but still a lot of fun to read. Anyways, for my question. If you had to go back to one constructed format to play all over again, what would it be. Also what was your favorite and least favorite deck in that format. I’d love to hear your answer, as I didn’t play before Oddessy, so I really don’t know what formats were fun or boring. I hope you’ll show me your decklist, as I need a deck that is both viable and fun to play with out having to play affinity once again.

Thanks for your time, and good luck at States,

Nathan R

I really liked Masques-Invasion Type II all the way through. That time was a lot of experimentation for me (in Magic, you pervs. As in “the card game”), there were a bunch of balanced or semi-balanced decks, and it seemed like each new set release forced the metagame to evolve in interesting ways. Remember kids, underpowered doesn’t always mean “unfun”, especially since unfun isn’t a word.

My favorite deck during that period was clearly Sky Tide, the Blue Skies deck that also ran the Ankh of MishraParallax Tide combo. It turns out the deck was easy to beat if you were ready for it, but I loved that damned thing to death. The decks I hated the most back then were Rebels decks running Armageddon. Boo hiss, White Weenie will never be good until ‘Geddon is back, sniffle, whinge… look folks – having all your lands blown up is no f***ing fun, especially when your opponent has six power of creatures on the board. I like White Weenie as much as the next guy, but I’m not sorry to see Geddon out of Standard and I hope it stays that way.


As soon as I saw the paragraph header “Ask the Editor”, the first thing I wanted to ask was what you’re playing at states, but then you went on to say that I could get that for free! 2 for 1? I’ll take it. Here’s my question, and you must realize that I’m asking YOU because I agree with your predictions for the states metagame, and this is a metagame question.

I’ve found Scale of Chiss-goria to be rather techy in the mirror (affinity that is, lol) and that extra bit of protection I need to protect my guys from the hate that will undeniably be present at states this year (E-bolt, decay, arc-slogger etc.) My friend insists that running vial and some non-artifact guys such as rigger or atog and possibly Myr retriever is a better plan. I can see his point, but Hirobi seems to be gaining a lot of popularity and the vial plan has got nothing on him. So in your opinion, will I see enough Hirobi to warrant the scale over the vial?

Hey, a question that I get to look smart by answering because I waited so long to answer. Yay me! Vial is better, it’s always better, and I don’t care what crazy ideas people have to the contrary. Let me lay it on you in two words or less, okay? Free. Spells. That’s it, just those two. Zvi was right, the rest of us were wrong, play Vial and let’s move along.


I do have question I would like your opinion on. I have persuaded my wife to play at Champs and it will be her first ever tournament. What deck, which is both fun and at least a bit competitive to play, would you recommend her taking? I will be taking Big Red so that is the only deck she won’t have.


Ben Russell

You know those tasteless jokes about quadriplegics that you probably learned back in high school like, “What do you call a quadriplegic in the water?” Well…

What do you call a quadriplegic hiding in the leaves?


(This is why I don’t write very often either – I always get in trouble for something. Back to the question at hand from Mr. Russell.)

N00bies play Tooth and Nail in this format because it’s fairly simple and they get to bash with trampling fatties. What’s not to love?

What would your favorite magic experience be? More specifically, if you could play Magic anywhere (GP style travel tournament or otherwise), where and who would you play for a good time?

Kevin Binswanger

And since you have to answer your own damn question, I’d love to head out to Japan somewhere to play magic, because I need to get over there, and it would be incredibly ironic to play Kamigawa limited in Japan. Who I’d play… That’s tougher, any pro would be cool, but since I’m on a MeanDeath high right now, I’d say Smmenen.

Binswanger is a helluva name. Just the fact that you have “wang” in your name means you should be commended, even if you have all those extraneous extra letters cluttering up the good parts.

Grand Prix: Osaka has to be near the top of my list for favorite Magic tournaments. It’s the first time I’ve started to feel comfortable in Japan and the level of Magic played in both the semifinals and finals was absurd. It’s not often you get to see two of the best teams ever go head to head with a title on the line, and it’s even more rare that the matchup can live up to the hype. P.S. 2 and Shop Fireball most certainly delivered last weekend. Unfortunately, I’m going to have to cop out on this question and say that answering question 1 is just too hard right now and I haven’t been doing coverage long enough for me to give you a real answer.

The answer to question 2 is equally difficult, but I at least have some instincts about this one. I’ll give you four names off the top of my head that I really enjoy playing with and the reasons why: Aaron Forsythe, Mike Turian, Brian David-Marshall, Mike Clair. The reasons? These guys are all really good players who are highly competitive, but also know how to have fun while going about their business. They all have good sense of humor, are nice guys, and could probably teach me incredible amounts about the game if only I could sit down for more than a day at a time to play with them. Honestly, that’s about everything I want in a playing partner, and each of those embodies the sort of “takes joy in the game” element that I’m looking for. Jim Ferraiolo has similar qualities, but I’ve actually played Magic with everyone listed above more recently than Jim at this point, even though I usually see JMF every week or two. What a strange world.

how does starcitygames afford to run a site arguably better than any other magic site without charging a “premium”? is the site run purely on card single sales?

Noooooot tellin. State secrets, if I told you I’d have to kill you, no Mr. Bond I expect you to die, etc.


1) What is the best part about working for Starcity?

2) What is the best/worst part about event coverage?

3) What has been your favorite event you have been to?

4) What has been your favorite event you have done coverage for?

5) How are feature matches chosen?

6) What has been your favorite Type 1/Extended/Block/Type 2 format?

7) Is it true that if one asks the Holy Kanoot what to play in the format, they will play the deck to a good finish, or this just the Star Wars Kid Phenomenon?

8) I’ve always wondered how much refreshments (especially coffee) the STARCITY GAMES EMPLOYEES consumes every day. Are there some who manage to do their Magical work without the magic of caffeine?

Thanks, Nick

1) Probably working with all the people I get to work with, even if it’s generally done remotely. I like being in the mix of the Magic world, so to speak, and I genuinely enjoy interacting with all the gamers. Then again, the time flexibility of the job is kind of nice as well, and I never, ever have to wake up until 3PM if I don’t want to. I mean, I do… I rarely sleep past oh… noon or so, but I don’t have to get up until most of you are ready to come home from work so uh – maybe I should stop rubbing it in now.

2) The best part of event coverage is clearly the hanging with the people (meaning both the event/coverage staff and the players), though I like the history element as well. The worst part is the crush of exhaustion I feel every Monday morning when I have to get up and catch a flight home.

3) Dunno yet. As I said above, Japan is pretty gassy, as was Australia. I’m looking forward to London this summer.

4) Yeah, still don’t know. Ask again in a couple of years.

5) At Pro Tours, it’s usually either Mark Rosewater or Randy Buehler that does the choosing. At Grand Prix, it’s the job of the coverage reporter.

6) I answered this one earlier.

7) Your results may vary, but Flores and I both have records of choosing exceptional metagame decks.

8) I don’t work at SCG proper, so I only know what I go through at home. It’s usually 2-3 Diet Cokes a day (12 oz cans), though I do not require caffeine to work well. My wife is somewhat more addicted than I am.

I have a lot of questions for your November ask the editor feature,

What was the smoothest flowing and best run tournament you have ever been to? Was it organized differently than most tournaments? What sets apart a good tournament from a bad one? Is it the environment and setting?

Write more articles about predicting metagame. How are you able to predict metagames so well? Knowing the metagame is so important and you do a great job. Does writing about past metagames help a lot?

Thanks a bunch! Keep up the good work. Good luck at states and have fun on your trips out of the country.

Simon Helgeson Chicago IL

Magicalsi on Magic Online and most magic websites.

John Carter and Sheldon Menery both run very smooth and briskly paced tournaments, and they do so simply by making sure everyone knows their jobs and staying on top the slackers while ironing out any issues you might have along the way. I’m sure it’s much harder than it looks, but both of these fine gentlemen make things look easy. Then again, it’s not entirely person specific – I’ve been to some hideous Regionals and PTQs where Carter was the HJ and technical difficulties severely impeded the tournament’s progress… even the best judges are limited by the efficiency of the resources at hand.

I predict metagames well by knowing more information than almost anybody out there. Even before I had this job, I read everything about what’s going on in Standard and the PTQ formats, but now… I read twice as much as what you see published and I talk to everybody and their mother about what the best decks in each format happen to be. Hell, if you had all of the info I usually have, you would probably come to the same conclusions that I do. My version of metagaming isn’t particularly artistic, it’s more like putting together a somewhat complex jigsaw puzzle – a task that becomes a lot simpler if you have all the pieces in front of you. I don’t think past metagames help a whole lot except to sometimes give you the impression that you have or have not seen something before and therefore get a sense of whether or not something new is likely to occur.

What is your favorite non-sanctioned Magic format?

Thank God somebody asked this question. The answer is Tyyyyyyyyyyyype Four, which is only the best casual format evar (like totally, omigod, gagmewithasilverspoon it’s hella good). I can’t say enough good things about how much fun this format is, either in the quick and dirty form (shuffle up the cards into even piles and pass out decks) or in the more strategic form (Rochester drafting the stack). Every time I travel to Japan I get asked to whip out my *ahem* stack, and I feel as if I’m bringing a miniscule amount of good to the world every time I hear about someone building a new Type 4 deck. Hell, if nothing else it’s one of the best ways to sell old singles that I’ve ever seen, so if you are a store owner, I encourage you to toss together a rudimentary T4 deck and introduce your customers. It’s likely both your new players and your pocket book will love it.


I am a long time fan of this site and am very intrigued by your “devious” plan. If I manage to receive your prize I will be happy, but the question I most want to ask might not be answerable because of your “tech,” if your playing Affinity, any way, I hope this question qualifies: What do you think is a more affective answer in the Affinity mirror match, to side in Oxidize and Viridian Shaman with main deck Tree of Tales, or to side in Relic Barrier and Electrostatic Bolt with maindeck Darksteel Citadel? Both seem alright, but I cannot decide whether to use green to go after their landbase or go red to protect my manabase(Citadels). I am inclined to go green for the more proactive approach, but I am still unsure. Whether or not I win your prize, I wish you the best of luck at Champs and many more entertaining articles on SCG.com.

Thank you,

Charles Fitzpatrick


This sort of thing was much better argued by people like Osyp Lebedowicz and Mike Flores during Block Constructed season, but I think the general opinion was divided on this one. I don’t think we’ll ever come to a final objective conclusion as to what the sideboard should be for Affinity mirrors, but if there are no bannings between now and June 25th, I guess we’ll get to have this chat at least one more time before it doesn’t matter anymore.

To The Holy Kanoot, It is I, your faithful fan Brook Gardner-Durbin. First, great article (as always).

I had a number of questions for you.

1) Why did you post the red build of Tooth and Nail in your article, with Cloudposts? The red only makes the deck better against Affinity, and you know you’re going to lose 2-0 to that anyway so you might as well just pray to god that you play against nothing but Mono-Green all day. As for cloudposts, they’re just awful. With 4 of each tron you can usually draw into either 2 and one searcher or 1 and a witness. They’re also usable the turn you cast them.

2) I know you answered this in a previous Ask Ken, but I have managed to forget-just how do you pronounce your last name? I know how annoying it is when people are always bugging you about it- my last name is Gardner-Durbin (pronounced Guard-ner Der-bin) for crying out loud!

3) How come you let so many articles put in stuff that isn’t Magic-related? I’m a big fan of links to Lindsay Lohan pictures or whatever (and since I’m 15 I don’t even have to report myself for being a petifile after viewing the pictures), but it does seem a bit distracting at times.

4) How come you don’t have articles every week or so with links to pictures of Lindsay Lohan and others?

5) Why is there no weekly article that offers brief summaries of the previous week’s articles, as well as links to the articles? I know you have the past few days’ articles at the bottom of the page, but they don’t say what the article is about.

6) Do you think that the majority of people playing Tooth and Nail play it because they’re too dumb to see the deck sucks, too lazy to build a good deck, or because they’re simply so in love with fatties that losing 87% of games to any deck doesn’t matter compared to the 13% of games where their deck actually works?

7) Why is it that Kai, Zwi, Nate (Heiss), and whoever the 15 year old who won worlds all write for Brainburst.com, and not for you like they should?

Thanks for any replies,

your faithful fan Brook Gardner-Durbin

I’m not sure I’m comfortable with having a faithful fan – what’s expected of me in this relationship? Do I get vacation time? What if I want to take a break from “us”, is that going to be okay with you? I’m okay with signing autographs and exchanging e-mails, but dinner is on you and no, you can’t sleep over.

1) I’m not sure I’m wrong on this one because I don’t view Affinity as an autoloss and I like the Red options against other decks as well (Slith Firewalker is a pain in the ass as are Temporal Adept), but I still dislike Tooth with the Tron, which is why you won’t see me running it any time soon.

2) A previous Ask Ken, eh? Why I oughtta… Anyway, my last name is pronounced Kuh-newt-sun, hence the whole Holy Kanoot nickname.

3) I started writing Magic articles a couple of years ago because I realized that the articles didn’t have to be solely about Magic. That trend and the appreciation of that freedom continues in my articles even today (though I’m so busy that you see a lot less fun stuff these days).

4) Tell Lindsay, Jen Garner, J Lo, Marissa Miller, Josie Maran, Allesandra Ambrosio and all the other hotties out there to allow more pictures to be taken of themselves and maybe we’ll have more material to link to. Speaking of hotties and links, I’m utterly smitten by this girl even though she’s totally not my type (which is usually either short, curvy, and exceptionally hot Latina or tall, athletic, and bombshellish). Maybe it’s the nipple piercings that snagged my attention and won’t let me go, or maybe it’s just the fact that she’s missing only the “Latina” part of my short, curvy, and oh so hot requirements. Oh well, her name is Apnea, and I’m certainly encouraged by the prospect of many, many more photos of her making their way into the world.

5) I tried that for two months at the end of 2003 and the beginning of last year, but not enough people read the summaries to make it worthwhile to do anymore, so not unlike your favorite TV show, it got cancelled.

6) I think the majority of people who play Tooth play it because it’s still a good deck that has a fun combo feel to it.

7) You would have to ask those fine fellows for their reasons. I think our stable of Featured Writers is good right now, but let me just say that it’s about to get even better and leave it at that.

Heeeeey, Knut, my favorite editor. Here’s my first question for your new column.

How has the internet affected tournament Magic. What was the pro/competitive scene like when the only real news and tech on the game came from magazines such as Scrye, Inquest and The Duelist. Would tournies in different cities have wildly different metegames? Did some tech take weeks or even months to seep out from certain teams and groups of players? Let me know, I’ve only been playing competitivly for 3 or 4 years now and I’ve always wondered what tournaments were like back in the day when I was playing on my living room floor.

By the way, nice article, you should write more (not just Q&A’s.)

-Josiah “CoolJets” Skallerup

Heeeeey CJ, sup my man?

Lemme tell you ’bout the way it was back in the day, okay? Way back before the internet was all the rage in the States and Europe, tech took weeks to pass from place to place on horseback, and some communities never even saw tech – they were too remote for delivery service, and sending out tech by telegraph was some hard damned work, let me tell you… you weren’t learning Zvi Bargain without the goddamned instruction manual and “How to” guide, and it simply wasn’t cost effective to ship that sort of thing out back then. These communities (when they first heard about tech), they had no idea what to make of it until some dude took the tech and started dominating their little world with it. Suddenly, everybody wanted in, but tech is a powerful tool and not everyone can be expected to use it for the forces of good. Soon tech was hoarded and was only doled out by the powerful to those they considered allies or people who could do them favors. This sort of society continued until the delightful benefactor Frank Kusumoto eventually brought tech to all people, thus enabling even the lowliest of scrubs to win tournaments on the back of extremely powerful decks that they read about online only the night before. And thus the era of the net deck began…

I would really like to see your decklist, AND I have had a question that has been bugging me for a while:

I have been playing M:tg for 2.5 years now, and almost 1 year competitively(FNM, GPT, PTQ etc). I can’t seem to ever do well. I take decks that I have tested extensively with, and I still lose matchups I shouldn’t. Is it just expreience that is holding me back? I guess my real question, so I know I am not a hopeless case, is: How did it take some of the pros to make their first top 8, or first tournament win?

Sit, Ubu, sit. Good dog.

Top 8 time and tournament wins for Pros varies drastically, though I’m convinced that the younger you are, the easier time you have learning the game and quickly advancing to the highest level as long as you are willing to put in the requisite time to learn. One of the biggest keys in advancing your game is to be willing to put in the time and pain to learn it properly. Don’t get stuck thinking that the way you play is correct – actively seek out other opinions and test for new avenues of play that you haven’t explored.

I’ve long said that I’d like to take a month of my life and spend it learning to draft with Mike Turian and the guys of CMU-Togit because they are good guys and represent some of the better Limited players in the world. However, the prospect of that is extremely unlikely, so I’ll just pass on some advice that Turian gave to me when I asked quite simply: How do I get better?

Mike said that after every Pro Tour or Grand Prix, you should build the Top 8 decks from that tournament and play them against each other five or ten times to see how the matchups play out. It doesn’t matter whether the tournament is Limited or Constructed, playing both formats will teach you a great deal about card interactions that you might not have thought about and perhaps introduce some concepts that you could be stumbling over in your play right now. Basically this type of exercise is meant to act as muscle memory for your brain, which is why you do the exercise more than you would in a normal match of Magic. The most important element of this exercise is to learn whatever you can from the game, especially since you shouldn’t really care about whether or not you’re winning or losing.

Once you’ve run through the matches, check back over the coverage and see if the reporters have highlighted any special plays or deck features that you missed out on. When I heard this, I considered it to be awesome advice that I’d never even thought about… maybe you will too.

The Potato had a lot of other advice for me that I might someday transcribe to paper, but for now it will have to wait until I have more time.


Mr. Knutson,

Just read your ask the editor column for the week – and a question hit me. If an error slips through editing to be posted onto the site – do you want to hear about it? Does the severity of the error impact the answer to that question?

I ask because you do a great job editing the site, but most assuredly catch a lot of flack from asshats about minor sh**.

So in the future, should I tell you that the ‘e’ in none got cut off in question 7 of the “Ask the Editor” or would you prefer to let it lie?

With esteem,


Dear Adam,

This is a really good question. I do want to hear about errors on the site, usually so that I can catch them and fix them right away. Even though I spend hours of working time massaging text to try and make it perfect, I’m sure that I fail with alarming regularity and the only way I catch it after it’s already been published is for someone to tell me. Sometimes I won’t bother to go back to fix minor things like your “e” example, but I’d still rather know that have everyone laughing at my screwups behind my back.

Judging by the end of your article, it seems that you encourage(d) people to play Broodstar at States. While the strategy of playing non-artifact threats is definitly a sound one, what in your opinion makes Broodstar a better choice than the less expensive, more Ravager friendly Qumulox ?

Paul, Montreal QC

Been there, done that… NEXT!

Hi Ted,

I tuned in on Friday and there was no Flores! Instead, it was some awful article by Phil Stanton (sp?). I want to know how you can pay that guy? His ‘analysis’ of the type 1 metagame is so statistically flawed they hold no value. Clearly from your own writing, you know what statistics are important for making the types of statements this guy is making, and he clearly doesn’t have it. Sure, he has pretty tables, but they don’t make up for a total lack of content. The guy couldn’t even take some time to talk about what a good player playing in their format meant for it. I guess he was too busy barning Steve and JP.

To further expand on the point, you’ve published a featured article about how Mishra’s Workshop is self-restricting because there aren’t that many. How can looking at top 8 data possibly tell you anything when you play in a self-restricting format? That calls for an even more careful approach because there are clearly other forces on the metagame than some top 8 decklists. (Some of which contain zombie infestation which doesn’t get his wtf? Of the month award. Maybe that guy would win with workshops if he had them. Too bad Phil isn’t a decent journalist and would ask him about it.)

Now its Monday, and again, NO FLORES? My most pressing questions is “What happened to Flores?’ The second is ‘How can you pay that Phil guy?’ At least Monday’s articles have something of value in them besides so called statistics. I’d rather see reprints of classic Flores articles on the top of the page on Flores Friday than something as god awful as Phil’s article.

Matt Olson

It’s nice that people have opinions, even when I think they are horribly wrong. I was annoyed enough when I first received this letter that I immediately set it aside so that I wouldn’t answer it or else you’d have me filleting one of our readers in print, and that wouldn’t be very nice, now would it?

It’s not unlike the regular idiocy we see in the forums every time someone from Meandeck writes an article discussing the Type One metagame… they get accused of trying to skew the metagame in a particular direction, when in reality they are merely talking about what they see coming but doing so in a vacuum where no one else ever writes. Every article skews the metagame in one direction or another, if you disagree with what the Meandeck guys have to say about it, then please write a rebuttal.

Similarly, no one that I can remember has ever rebutted anything Phil has said in article form in spite of the fact that his articles are actually quite popular. You are never going to know the complete archetype breakdown from most tournaments that take place unless Wizards finally institutes a Scan-Tron system for decklists and then uploads them to a central, publicly accessible database. Even then, Phil’s work is done on mostly unsanctioned Type One tournaments, so it’s doubtful that he’ll ever get full data to compile for analysis. Therefore he is forced to work from the data he is able to gather and then approximate and extrapolate the rest of the info.

We know that Top 8 results and decklists influence what is played in future tournaments, so there’s some precedent for Phil using this information and making conclusions, even if you disagree with what those conclusions are. If you would like Phil to be more rigorous in his analysis, I’m sure he’d love to hear about it… as you can tell from reading his articles, he enjoys this stuff more than a little bit, and generally relishes whatever information or advise you can give him that will help him become better at it.

As for Flores, he turns in things on his own time, though I’m sure he’ll go though whatever great emotional pain he’s capable when he hears that he disappointed you.

You mention soccer a bit so I have a soccer question or 2 for you.

1) Do you have a favorite MLS team?

2) who is your favorite MLS player

3) The team you most enjoy watching?



1) The Chicago Fire, though I actually watched zero games this past season because I was too busy working most weekends.

2) I really enjoyed watching Chris Armas before he blew out his knee, but since that time there hasn’t been a player that really grabbed me.

3) Arsenal is where my true allegiance lies. I love watching their fast attacking style and the way they often use long pinpoint passes to pick apart defenses. Unfortunately, as of right now it looks like Chelski are in the driver’s seat for the Premiership proving that money and a great coach really can buy championships, but I can always go back and trounce them in Football Manager 2005, so it doesn’t hurt so bad.

I had two questions for your Ask The Editor column. They are as follows:

1)With your expirence covering the Pro Tour do you believe there is a corelation bewteen age and sucess when playing Magic. For instance you never see someone under fourteen in a Top eight let alone on the Tour at all. So do certain ages have advantages over others in respect to sucesss?

2) Again with your expirence covering the Pro Tour would you say that yhose who are sucesssful come from middle to upper-class families? I ask becuase I myself come from a low-income family and many times find it difficult to get the Extended and even Tpye two chase rares and am wondering if budget ever influences when Pros break into the Tour.

Thank you for your time and I will be looking forward to a reply.

1) Yes, there is an age floor to players on the Pro Tour, though it’s probably younger than you think it is. The JSS alone limits the willingness of a lot of kids to step up and play with the big kids, especially since many of them can’t travel alone anyway, so any trip to a Pro Tour would be for two people instead of one. I do find it interesting that kids like Gadiel, Kyle Goodman, Jeff Garza and Julien have been able to immediately transition from the kid’s game into real results on the PT though. It’s certainly not something I expected to see a year ago.

2) I don’t know enough about this one to give you an informed opinion, but my gut here tells me that you are correct. Magic is a moderately expensive hobby and it’s clearly worse for your health as a kid than getting out and exercising consistently, so families with lower incomes probably have to make a choice regarding their kid’s hobbies, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if MTG lost those battles. Without having some actual market research on this one, I’m hesitant to say more, if only because I look like a buffoon enough, even when I think I know the facts.

Alright kids, that’s all. I hope you have enjoyed this final Ask the Editor blowout, and I look forward to doing this again some time far, far in the future, by which time you’ll all have forgotten how I answered each question and I’ll just recycle the same stuff one more time.

Thanks for listening,

Ted Knutson

Teddy Card Game

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