The Magic Show #76 – Drama, Drama!

Watch Evan Erwin every Friday... on StarCityGames.com!
Hello everybody and welcome to another edition of the Magic Show. This week we’re going to close out the year of 2007 with a little bit of pro player drama, discuss the importance of Pro Tour Sunday dress codes, and talk a little bit on the latest information on Morningtide.

Hello everybody and welcome to another edition of the Magic Show. This week we’re going to close out the year of 2007 with a little bit of pro player drama, discuss the importance of Pro Tour Sunday dress codes, and talk a little bit on the latest information on Morningtide.

Selling The Drama

Some news that you may have missed, yet is very impacting to pro players, was recently buried in the tail end of the World Championships coverage. It detailed the new policy changes regarding Level 3 Pro Player Club members.

Now if you don’t know what the hell a Pro Player Club is, let me give you the hard and fast info: The Pro Players Club is the incentive program for playing Magic professionally. Whenever you do well at a Grand Prix or Pro Tour, you get Pro Points. Those pro points add up over the year, also known as a ‘season,’ and if you get X points in a season, you get up to a certain Pro Players Club level, from 1 to 6. The higher the level, the better the perks.

Previously, if you had attained 20 pro points in a year, you were given Level 3 status. That’s the status where you quote unquote “gravy train” it. This level meant you got a $500 appearance fee just for showing up and competing in any Pro Tour. You got three byes at any Grand Prix, and you were invited to every Pro Tour and National Championship.

So what changed? That $500 appearance fee is gone. History. Finished. In the dark of the night at the end of the World Championships, they quietly released a quick interview at the end of Brian David-Marshall article where Scott Larabee notifies the Magic populous that, oh, by the way, those banking on the $500 appearance fee are officially out of luck. The gravy train you seek is further up the tracks, as it were, where Level 4 is now. Level 4 requires 30 points in a single season and that provides a $1,000 appearance fee for each Pro Tour and a single plane ticket to a Pro Tour of your choice for that season.

Why did this happen? Well, Wizards says that plane tickets aren’t getting any cheaper for those at higher levels who get free airfare. And this is certainly true. And I’m sure paying all of those Level 3’s appearance fees certainly wasn’t easy to justify when for just 5 more Pro Points those same players could double their appearance fee money and get a plane ticket. I would also not count out the fact that with the current rate of 5 new Hall of Famers per year, Wizards was essentially cutting $2,500 out of their potential Pro Tour budget for each induction. Of course these Hall of Famers may not attend every tour, but it’s something to think about.

But Zac Hill looks at the other side, where those Level 3 players budget the Pro Tours they can attend by those same appearance fees. For example, if I wanted to go to Kuala Lumpur, it would be a plane ticket for $1,300. With that total at $800 after the appearance fee, it doesn’t seem that bad. This change of course gets rid of this reasoning.

However, another change to the policy was this: Level 3 players don’t get their invites until the Thursday before a Pro Tour. What does that mean? It means that those players can now compete in PTQs, whose prize, as you know, is round trip airfare from your home city to the Pro Tour. Previously, if you were qualified for the Pro Tour you were ineligible to compete in PTQs. Now Wizards is giving you a chance to earn that plane ticket because that $500 appearance fee just ain’t available.

Many players who frequent PTQs may become a bit dismayed when their local pros show up to get the plane ticket they’ve been long striving for. But what about the caveat attached? “Level 3 players will now be able to play in Pro Tour Qualifiers, provided that their ONLY invitation comes from their Level 3 status.” This means that if you Top 16’d or better at a Grand Prix, meaning you got an invite to the next Pro Tour thanks to that finish, you can no longer play in PTQs that feed into that Pro Tour.

Oh, and lastly Level 3 can now be attained by garnering 25 points over two seasons instead of just one. So while there is no longer a gravy train to hop onto at that point, perhaps there’s at least a Pro Tour qualifying train that is a bit easier to reach.

So what’s the verdict here? Does this suck or not? Obviously it sucks from those who were Level 3 and banked on the money. Obviously it sucks for those who don’t like big name pros who’ve returned to the PTQ circuit in hopes of a plane ticket. But all’s fair in love and Magic, and I for one understand it from a business decision and empathize with those who are suffering under the cruel tyranny of not being paid hundreds of dollars just to show up.

What do you think?

Pro Tour Sunday Dress Codes

Patrick Chapin I think kindly reminded everyone that dressing up for a Pro Tour Sunday is quite the kick ass and gentlemanly thing to do. I truly believe it gave Patrick a greater presence and simply dressing up for the potential to take home $40,000 is a pretty good idea.

I say suits or button-up shirts with a tie at the least should be the de facto, highly (highly) suggested dress code for Pro Tour Top 8’s from now on. While it’s cute to win a small mortgage while wearing a t-shirt, it would be better for Magic’s image to the world to have that same champion really look like 40k as well as winning it.

A Look At Morningtide

This week we’re going to delve into the cards we know, correct some information from a few weeks ago, and see what we can deduce from these new discoveries.

Leading off we get to see a card that is almost certainly destined for the cube, Chameleon Colossus. This guy is a shapeshifting house, as you may have noticed, and something else you may want to take note is that it has protection from Shriekmaw. Yup, that little 3/2 dude is taking over inch by inch and slowly making his way into older formats. This guy says no thanks, can’t even be blocked by that Nekrataal wannabe, and with a little mana and some pump spells gets stupid huge stupid quick.

Another preview card that needs more love is Taurean Mauler. Is this guy nuts good or is it just me? If your opponent doesn’t Incinerate him on sight, he’s going to get out of control pretty fast. In a R/G mirror match, for example, this is a creature that can really show you who’s the beatdown.

Primal Beyond is a card that gets players excited for different reasons. Firstly, it’s a City of Brass for Elementals that deals no damage. Cool there. Secondly, it can still tap for colorless mana, another huge plus. Thirdly, it causes all of the Extended players to run through Gatherer in hopes of finding a forgotten Elemental to take advantage of. For example, did you know that Blistering Firecat was errata’d to be an Elemental Cat?

Moving on to Merfolk, Stonybrook Schoolmaster will be another Blue/White archetype bomb, as Judge of Currents or Drowner of Secrets knocks this guy into the stratosphere.

Preeminent Captain is next and is very, very intriguing. Here is what I consider a very exciting series of plays possible with this guy:

Turn 1 Goldmeadow Stalwart
Turn 2 Wizened Cenn attack for 3 (Opponent at 17)
Turn 3 Preeminent Captain, attack for 5 (Opponent at 12)
Turn 4 Land, attack, put Mirror Entity into play attacking, pump all creatures to 4/4’s (Opponent at -4)

That seems pretty strong, and I can only imagine as more Morningtide Soldiers are revealed this guy can only get stronger. Soldiers and Birds were a real joke in Onslaught block, and with only one of them coming back, I can imagine Wizards is ready for Soldiers to not suck quite as much.

But that’s not all the Captain showed us. Take a look at this image, the one from which the Preeminent Captain image was taken. These snippets of cards have been scoured over by Magic nerds worldwide and while some of these card texts can be debated, what isn’t in debate is the fact that there is a Soldier Equipment listed there. Yes, Tribal Equipment is coming, so get your Tarmogoyf ready.

Lastly, Stomping Slabs was revealed to us for some reason or other. Does anyone actually get excited about this card? You know what this card reminds me of? Ripple. You know what I think of Ripple? Hell, you don’t even want to know what I think of that stupid mechanic. This card is not only goofy, you can’t even draft a strategy around it because it’s uncommon and you only get one pack of Morningtide with your upcoming drafts.

But hey, I’m sure at the prerelease when it’s triple Morningtide draft somebody is going to kick some ass by drafting the Stomping Slabs deck. And to that I say, good frickin’ luck.

Oh, and a few weeks ago I detailed the Prowl mechanic incorrectly. The mechanic now says, using the example from the previous show, that if a Goblin or Rogue deals combat damage to a player, you may play that creature for its Prowl cost.

Check out this newly spoiled card coming to a Morningtide pack near you:

LatchKey Faerie – 3U

Creature – Faerie Rogue
Prowl 2U ( You may play this for its prowl cost if you dealt combat damage to a player this turn with a Faerie or Rogue )

When Latchkey Faerie comes into play, if its prowl cost was paid, draw a card.

Cool, huh?

Next Week

Next week we’ll take a look back at 2007. What were my Top 10 articles of the year? What about some classic show moments? Yes, I know, I did a highlights show in early September, but the past three months have been incredibly good to the show, including the Invitational and my trip to Worlds. And of course if I can find some info on the latest Morningtide spoilers, you’ll hear about it here first. Or second. Or whatever.

So until next time Magic players, this is Evan Erwin, tapping the cards so you don’t have to.

Evan “misterorange” Erwin
dubya dubya dubya dot misterorange dot com
eerwin +at+ gmail +dot+ com
Written in the post-Christmas bliss. Yay, presents!

Music Credits:
Title — “Falling On” by Finger Eleven
Intro — “Traffic and Weather” by Fountains of Wayne
Dress Code — “My Maker” by Heartless Bastards
A Look At Morningtide — “Goodnight and Go” by Imogen Heap