The Third Annual StarCity Awards Show!

One thousand, seven hundred and eighty-three articles. That’s how many pieces StarCity has published over the past year. That’s an average of 6.83 articles every weekday for your pleasure – or about three and a half million words. That’s the equivalent of 3,800″How I Spent My Summer Vacation” articles, seventeen Stephen King novels, or half a Rizzo article.
So what was the best article? The funniest article? The worst article and the weirdest story? Find out if I mentioned you by name!

One thousand, seven hundred and eighty-three articles.

That’s how many pieces StarCity has published over the past year. That’s an average of 6.83 articles every weekday for your pleasure – or about three and a half million words. That’s the equivalent of 3,800″How I Spent My Summer Vacation” articles, seventeen Stephen King novels, or half a Rizzo article.

Me? I’ve edited them all. Good or bad, they’ve all had to pass my desk in order to make it to our front page….

…And I think it’s time to point out the best and worst of StarCity yet again.

Omeed Dariani, the first (and some say greatest) editor of StarCityGames started the tradition of the Annual StarCity Awards, and I’ve had no choice but to follow. But it’s not all bad; I get to make fun of people, which is something that I’ve spent my life trying to make a living at.

So walk with me. I’ll show you the finest articles we have, the behind-the-scenes stories, and some amusing bits.

Best Up-And-Comer Award:

Nick Eisel

When I met Nick at GP: Philadelphia, he was doing the unthinkable.

It was Round 13 – a loss would mean that Nick’s opponent, Jeff Cunningham, would be knocked out of the Top 8. And it was looking bad for Jeff – he had just lost the first game to Nick’s rather demoralizing Mythic Proportions beating, and was glumly shuffling his cards.

And yet Nick was encouraging his opponent.

“You could still make it,” he cried, thumping the table.”You can beat me!”

I knew then and there that any man who could be so supportive would be a hell of a writer. Yes, Nick had nothing on the line; he was a shoo-in no matter what, and he really could have simply conceded if it wasn’t for the Rochester Draft seating… But how many pros actually comfort their enemy under any circumstances? Anyone that friendly had to be good.

I went out of my way to find Nick – and my efforts paid off, as he’s written some of the best in-depth draft articles around while proceeding to put up back-to-back Top 8 finishes at consecutive Grand Prixs. I think he’s definitely the best new writer of 2002.

But Nick’s exhortations worked a little too well; Jeff went on to win that match, then the whole damn Grand Prix. D’oh!

Best Article Of The Year

Playtesting 101: The Six Steps Of Evaluating Decks, by Rob Dougherty

I’m a firm believer in the”teach a man to fish” theory; too many articles attempt to give you the latest tech, except that it’s all complete tripe. Nobody who knows what they’re doing is going to give you a real advantage – and even if they did, tech is moving so quickly that an article can’t give you the latest news.

Rob, in a tragically-underread article, gives you the real guts: Here’s how to do it yourself. Stop relying on other people. Do the work.

To date, this is Rob’s least-read article on StarCity, and that fact makes me want to throttle all of you. This is must-read material. This is far more valuable than his Benzo articles – which are among the finest ever written. This is the meat and potatoes of what you should be doing, and if you don’t read it you deserve to go 0-3 at every tourney you ever attend.

Hear me, folks. Listen to this man. Now.

Funniest Article

My Penance, by Toby Wachter

Okay, Geordie Tait had some solid home runs this year, but Toby got the final shot across in the bottom of the ninth. Toby was someone who dared to question Rizzo’s importance during the botched”Rizzo Week” (agh!) and got slammed for it… So he shot back with panache. I can say nothing that’s nearly as funny as this article. Just read the damn thing.

Close Runners-Up

Funniest Title Of 2002

I Am Danish, And So I Must Destroy The Earth, by Henrik Bentzer

A little-known fact is that I title most of the articles on StarCity. Sure, the authors suggest them… But if I find their titles boring, I’ll retitle it for maximum impact. I’m reasonably sure that I titled this one. I know I titled the rest of them, except for Shaft and Styfen’s article.

(Note: The Funniest Title Of All Time, William Shatner Buys Porno, has been retired.)

Close Runners-Up

  • Uncontrollable Magic: If I Get To Twelve Mana And I’m Still Alive, I Deserve To Deal Ten Damage
  • Urine Stalagmites And Blasting Cards With Shotguns Was My Inspiration: 2nd At The Last Osaka PTQ Anywhere,
  • I’m A Hero As Long As I Keep Opening Puppies
  • Is Unbuttoning Your Girlfriend’s Shirt A Valid Distraction?
  • Shaft 2002: Can Ya Dig It?
  • Bald And Dancing With White Weenies
  • I Use… Tuna Fish Sandwich!
  • It May Not Be Good, But People Will Punch You In The Face For Playing It: Bounce-A-Mounce!

Most Controversial Issue

The Minute Maid Massacre

Pop quiz, everyone!

When a player annoys you at a FNM tournament, you should:

a) Ignore him

b) Discuss his mother’s sexual proclivities

c) Call the judge

d) Smash him in the back of the head with a twenty-ounce bottle of lemonade.

Um, wrong answer.

Most Controversial Issue That Proves That Most People Who Write Issues Articles Are Far Too Panicky

Magic Online

It would destroy Apprentice. It was going to kill FNM. It would, of course, be no good. And the pricing? Too expensive. Magic Online was a fiasco that would annihilate Magic.

But as it turns out, new mechanics are what destroyed Apprentice. FNM’s doing fine. The program was good, and the pricing is tough but we’ve all learned to live with it. Now can you all learn the lesson and frickin’ calm down?

Gutsiest Stunt Award

The Grand Experiment: Playing Baked In The Bean Bracket

Over dinner, I idly wondered whether you could play Magic stoned. Ted – who had never smoked any sort of illegal substance before – actually broke the law in order to see whether being high improved your play. Now, I don’t condone drug use under any circumstances… But that’s devotion.

The only bad thing is that I know for a fact that Ted’s smoked several times since then, and apparently has acquired at least a passing love for Maryjane. I worry that some day I’ll be walking to work – and there Ted will be, kneeling in a gutter as he reaches down through a sewer grate to try and pick up his dropped crack pipe. He’ll smile up at me through cracked teeth and say,”Hey, man! You changed my life!

(Ironically enough, Ted’s article appeared on the same day as the runner-up for”Gutsiest Stunt”: [author name="Ben Bleiweiss"]Ben Bleiweiss’s[/author] 18,000 word challenge.)

Most Unique Writing Style

Pale Mage/Blisterguy

Either of them have writing styles I could see from across the room – and they’re both damn entertaining reads. Pale Mage, novice-in-training and caption artist extraordinaire, has a Fight Clubbish technique wherein he holds a conversation with Jack (I am Jack’s sense of shame). Blisterguy, on the other hand, abuses parentheses shamelessly, and never fails to amuse.

Blisterguy, you could be the next Rizzo, if only you wrote more, you lazy Aussie bastard. I’m gonna pay Jarrod Bright a fiver to come over and beat the crap out of you.

The”Author I Wish Would Write More Often” Award

Matt Vienneau

He’s funny, he’s foul, and he’s written the single best article ever on drafting. I don’t really care who he writes for – though I’d hope it would be us, of course – but I need more tales of frighteningly-attractive transvestites from New Orleans, more draft picks, and more sexual escapades.

Unfortunately, I talk to Matt from time to time, and he’s fallen off the gravy train and onto the women train: He’s dating three chicks at once, which explains why he won’t be at New Orleans. I have to admit I’d do the same.

And if he dates all three chicks, um, simultaneously, I think the Magic community would have to immortalize him in some way. Perhaps an Invitational Card?”Shadowmage Pimpmaster”?”Chickmage Prodigy”?


Josh Bennett, Tim Aten. I love ’em both.

Worst Part Of The Job Award

Rejecting articles

Whenever an article doesn’t meet my standards – and four out of ten aren’t – I go out of my way to write a paragraph-long critique of why I thought it wasn’t up to par, and what you could do to make it better. I spend a lot of time doing this, and I hate it… But I figure they spent time writing it and sending it in, and it’s not fair to watch it vanish into the aether.

Invariably, after all of this heartache, I get three basic responses:

  • “Was it 4 a.m. in Cleveland and they had a blue light special on crack when you rejected my article? Look, jackass, I’ve read StarCity and you suck – my article r0xx0rz! What the hell is wrong with you?” (about 5% of them)
  • A rewrite of the article where they make up playtesting data and make the article sound worse (15%)
  • Nothing at all (80%)

That’s right – 80% of the time, I never hear from them again. And yet if I don’t respond, then people get bitchy. I hate rejecting people. *sigh*

The Rizzo Memorial Editing Award
Iain Telfer

Rizzo was known for many things, but the thing I’ll always remember him fondly for was breaking our database. When he wrote”The Guy That Invented Regionals Needs To Be Beaten Up,” I knew it was big – but it turns out that our article database has a character limit. Who knew? Nobody had even approached the limits of our system until The Friggin’ One.

Not only did Rizzo break our system, but he broke it twice – we had to break”Welcome To My Overcompensation” into three parts in order to fit it in. You may remember Rizzo for his moral stands and funny articles; I remember him for subjecting me to three-hour editing sessions as I waded through a sea of words that no spellchecker can confirm.

The writer who most deluged me with words this year was Iain Telfer. Every base set, he sends me a synergy review – and this year’s Onslaught review was sixty-eight pages in 12-point font. I normally save articles by name and date – this is”0101Ferrett.doc” – but Iain’s articles are always saved as”That Telfer Guy Is Scaring Me.”

Editorial Assistant Award

Dan Evenson

Every morning, like clockwork, Dan looks at all the card links in the articles and sends me an error report on which ones are broken. It is the little things that make my life easier. Thanks, Dan.

Most Accurate Predictions


I don’t write too often – but when I do, apparently you should listen! I predicted that Magic Online had a reasonable chance of succeeding – and lo and behold, it did, and pretty much in the way I said it would. I said that R/G was a dead deck in Odyssey Block, and yes – I was right. I said that CounterMobilization was a big bag of hooey, and hey! Right again.

(Note that I also accurately predicted who would win each of these awards, thus proving me to be psychic. Given time and effort, I can read my mind.)

Now all I have to say is that you should listen to me on why reprinting the Power Nine is a terrible idea and how Onslaught Sealed involves a lot of skill. But you probably won’t.

The Best Way To Get Great Vintage Articles Written

Publish a bad one.

Vintage players are downright defensive about their format, as shown by the fact that they all come crawling out of the woodwork whenever the old”Type One Is Dead!” issue comes up. They love to complain that they’re not getting any support, and that Wizards should reprint and yadda yadda…

What they don’t love to do is write strategy. Considering they have a fairly constant metagame, you’d think the field would be ripe to write some of the most intense strategy articles ever…

But no. Most Vintage players don’t bother. (Oscar Tan being the shining exception, obviously.)

There is an exception, though: Whenever a bad Type One article gets written, the responses are invariably some of the most elegant and thoughtful responses you’re likely to see. Even Oscar Tan first article was a response to an article of mine – which is, almost by definition, bad.

Now, I’m not saying that occasionally I publish bad articles to rile them up… But I will say that maybe if you all wrote a little more, people would take the format more seriously.

Saddest”But We All Saw It Coming” Award

Anthony Alongi

Hmm. He’s opened up his own business? And he’s writing for Magicthegathering.com, a site that pays a lot better than we do? And he’s doing coverage for the Sideboard?

“Ferrett, start prepping the next wave of multiplayer writers. Anthony’s goin’ down.” – Pete Hoefling, in February 2002

The”Jeez, Can You Get An Original Idea?” Award


Three of their five original writers were ours. Their editor used to be a Featured Writer of ours. And now they’ve not only stolen our”Ask The Judge” section, but taken our searchable rules database with it. What’s next? I mean, seriously – you think you can steal all of our popular writers? Well, it won’t work.

The”How To Make A Bad Deck Sound Good” Award

“This deck is has strong matchups against the field, except for decks packing Pernicious Deed.”

I don’t mind it when rogue deck creators like Jeremy Muir present decks that they’ve playtested fairly thoroughly, even if they’re bad; I think there’s value in seeing what strategies work in a diverse field and what strategies don’t.

However, if you’re trying to convince everyone that a bad deck is actually good, what you do you spend the first half of the article discussing its good matchups and its sideboarding strategies.

Then, way down in the article, drop that tiny hint that maybe – just maybe – it has a crippling flaw:”This deck has problems with Wild Mongrel….”

That’s right; this deck would be a top tier deck if nobody played Wild Mongrel. Or Pernicious Deed. Or some other card that is in about 50% of the best decks out there, rendering this deck kind of useless.

I can’t wait for car manufacturers to start taking this approach:”This car would get 500 miles to the gallon if it wasn’t for stoplights and friction.”

Biggest Editorial Mistake

Rizzo Week

We shall not speak of this again.

Best Argument For Pro-Choice

Mike Turian

What if [author name="Mike Turian"]Mike Turian[/author] could critique your play?” Hmm. What if Mike Turian could tell you he’s going to get around to it some day? At every tourney you see him at? Via various emails? For six months at a time?

The good news is, by the time he gets around to it in 2004, he should have Odyssey Block drafting down to a science.

The”Magic Player Who Has The Most Sex” Award


All right, maybe other players do manage to hop in the sack more often than I – but do they write about it? I am, to date, the only Magic player who’s told you about his virginity, as well as admitting to missing out on a PTQ because I was too busy fooling around with my wife.

(Incidentally, reader feedback was 15-0 in favor of missing the PTQ for some strange. It’s good to know that the community has its priorities straight.)

The”Et Tu, Brute?” Award

Laura Mills

She used to write for us, and I was about to offer her the Featured Writer position… And then I woke up one morning and saw her writing for Brainburst.

I felt like I had caught my wife in bed with Carrot Top.

I know that a lot of people write for The Evil Competition – but I correspond with Laura on a regular basis, trading emails. We’re scheduled to do a dinner in New Orleans. I invited her to a party at my house once, and she’s a friend of mine on LiveJournal. I like her.

And yet she refuses to jump ship. How can you treat a brotha like that?

The”King For A Day” Article

The Daily Shot: What You NEED To Know About Magic Online

Geordie caught lightning in a bottle when no less a site than Penny Arcade and Slashdot linked to him, giving us ten times the usual traffic, creating our most-read article ever, and generating over a hundred and fifty emails – which is pretty damn good for an article that contained not a whit of strategy. Geordie is now working as a telemarketer, and is now grateful when someone doesn’t just hang up on him. Ah, the nature of fame.

The Author I Disagree With The Most

Michael Jay LaRue

I love the fact that the man critiques art… But good God, the man likes ugly art. He waxes eloquent on Walking Desecration – me? I see a bad X-Men panel. He thinks Solar Blast is good – I think it’s a blurred piece of crap. He loves Rorix – I see a piece with washed-out colors and a dragon whose bloated head looks like an anime reject. And Lord knows that I love art. Further proof that I don’t have to agree with you to publish you. (Love ya, MJ!)

“Best Sense Of Humor” Award

Pete Hoefling

In my LiveJournal (warning: strong language, as usual), I mused about the nature of business and said this about Pete:

“He’s evil. He’s greedy. He spins such elaborate plots that I call him Darth Junior to his face…”

Pete’s nickname on our message boards is – you guessed it – Darth Junior.

The”Best New Site” Award


Nah, just kidding. It’s us.

Ever since our revamp in September (and our new set of writers), StarCity’s average hit rate has gone up by better than 50% per article. Our sales have increased by a significant margin. Our deck database is a huge hit, our profits are at all-time highs, and our forums…

…Well our forums could use some more traffic. So tell you what – what was your favorite moment of 2002? What award would you give if you had the power? What award would you like to see me give – and what award did I give to the wrong person? Why not drop by our forums and check it out?

Signing off,

The Ferrett

[email protected]

The Here Edits This Here Site Here Guy

Happy New Year! See ya in New Orleans!