Truck Driver Divorce

Friday, September 24th – Little did I know that when my friend B got divorced, he’d be taking my Magic group with him. Then again, he opted for the atomic bomb separation.

Truck driver divorce
It’s very sadddd…
Steel guitarrrrrrs…
Usually weep all over it…
— “Truck Driver Divorce” by Frank Zappa

Little did I know that when my friend B got divorced, he’d be taking my Magic group with him. Then again, he opted for the atomic bomb separation.

A lot of guys’ divorces are like leprosy; parts just fall off of ’em over time. One day their pride’s just lying in a corner, and the next their dreams
of ever having sex again are moldering in a pile underneath the dresser. These are the kinds of guys who have
huge strip-club bachelor parties

before they get married because secretly, they know that they’re entering into a demonic covenant where they’re exchanging all their fun and enjoyment in life for a nice, healthy stack of Life Security. They give you these rictus-like grins of a man who could be happy — could be in excruciating pain — and they stay up until six in the morning grabbing lap dances because once this party is over, they’ll go to sleep, and when they wake up,
oh my God

they’ll be shackled to a wife who they don’t have anything in common with.

So you see guys shuffling away from the Magic table, making excuses about the kids and the job and the responsibility, but what it often comes down to is that their wife doesn’t play Magic, and in this household, we only do things


Keep in mind that I’m

saying women are anti-fun battleaxes. Crap, I married a woman who’s tons of fun, and Jamie Wakefield got his mojo going on. Magic’s full of wondrous, talented women who know how to throw down — hell, if I miss my guess, one of them’s probably editing me now. Hi, Lauren! [
Right back at ya! 😉 —LL


The core problem here is that a lot of guys — and particularly nerds — view Wimmen as this scary, unfathomable code they have to crack before they get Teh Sexx0r. So when they find a Wimmen who’ll deign to touch their sweaty body, they’ll give anything to keep that flesh in contact with them. And believe me, they

give everything… until one morning they wake up in the big suit with their house on fire and say to themselves, “My God! What have I done?!”

What follows after the breaking point is as inevitable as Affinity: a long series of pathetic, failed negotiations, where usually a) the wife has to be unfaithful, or b) the husband has to find a better option (because you can’t just leave a hideous marriage to leap into

). Then there’s a slow cheating process that’s embarrassing and sad for everyone involved.

Anyway, B wasn’t like that. He pretty much just woke up one morning and shouted, “Talaq! Talaq! Talaq!

” Happily married one day, as far as anyone knew, divorced the next week. Shocked all of us, not least of all his wife.

The problem was — and I make no judgments on almost any divorce because there’s no reason two people should be unhappy together — the divorce caused a brief schism in the Magic group when some old friends who were more sympathetic to the wife’s side got uncomfortable playing. That loosened things. And then there was an issue with another player who got all butt-hurt and vengeful whenever he was attacked for any reason, no matter how justified (“Why are you after

? I’m only at thirty-seven life with this Test of Endurance out, playing my dedicated life gain deck!”), which caused more friction, and some other people had babies, and…

…well, I was pursuing other things.

I dunno. How long’s it been since we talked? I mean, seriously? ‘Cause in 2008, I took six weeks off (thanks, Pete) to go to
the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop

, where I was put through a boot camp of professional fiction writing. It was the most grueling damn thing I’ve ever done, and I’ve been married.

. No, seriously, I love my wife, so let’s try that again:

It was the most grueling damn thing I’ve ever done, and I’ve played Mercadian Masques Sealed format.

Hotcha! Know your audience, folks.

Since then, I’ve spent at least an hour a day just pounding down the fiction. I’ve had my stories published in “pro” mags at least three times (meaning that I achieved victory by getting at least five cents a word), along with a lot of lesser sales. If you wanna see my complete list of publications, well,
here’s a full list of my credits

. Some of them are even available for the freeness.

…Which means that after spending ninety minutes in a basement and nine-plus hours working for The Man (The Man defined as StarCityGames.com), I just didn’t have the energy to patch together a group that had fallen apart. It was bad, I knew, but in the end I just couldn’t summon the effort. I’ve only got time for so many hobbies. So honestly, it’s not really B’s fault or anyone’s but my own – I certainly could have played the diplomat, patching up the inevitable rifts that form in

group of a size. Yet in the end, I just left it drift away. (But hey, discussing nerd divorces makes for a more interesting start to my return than “Hey, got bored, whassup now?” )

So for my Magic fixes, I went to the Prereleases to see what was going on, and spent an inordinate amount of time drafting on Magic Online… But who cares about that? I’m the casual guy — the man who specializes in Multiplayer Politics. I could take draft snapshots and have you debate my picks, but

my picks are debatable. Yes siree, what SCG needs is a guy showing you what picks he derfed up in the 4-3-2-2s and who’s lucky whenever he scrapes the ceiling of an 1800 rating.

Plus, well… you know what I like about Magic forums? Have you ever scanned the Craigslist casual-encounters ads? You know, the ones that promise “a little fun?” And if you listen to the guys there, every single guy in existence is, uh…

…wait, we’re a family-friendly site… [
At least, that’s what they tell me we are. -LL


statistically inordinate

. They don’t need jump ropes, if what they say is to be believed.

So if we’re, uh, discussing the relevant attributes of a manly beast, then according to everything we know about those attributes, these guys are

above the norm. It’s a wonder they can even walk outside without tripping over themselves.

It’s almost as if these guys might be — I dunno — exaggerating.

Likewise, every Magic forum is just

-full of people with 2000+ ratings, folks who are perfectly willing to slag any writer because they’ve never ever lost a draft in their entire lifetimes. Not just criticizing — heck, I can take critique (you shoulda seen the way I held it together when Neil Gaiman told me, “This story is

“) — but actively

anyone who doesn’t have the l33t skillz that they do for daring to show their little heads in public.

This makes it a little intimidating for the mid-level guys to step up and say things. You’re just going to get mocked. So, being the rampant coward I am, I stuck to writing about my known skills… And since I wasn’t playing any games where I could utilize those skills, I went dark.

Yet the Ted came back. He couldn’t stay away — and everywhere, people asked him, “So is Ferrett coming back, too?” It was as though Ted was the Magical
Ferrett-Summoning Fairy, bringing back players from hither and yon to
write, write, write

for your entertainment. [
Julie Andrews even did the sentencing. — Knut, flapping his wings


But it wasn’t him. It was the seventh or eighth person who said, “Gee, I wish Ferrett was back” that made me go, “Well, maybe I

return.” But I didn’t want to just return and write, “Hey, here’s Scars of Mirrodin, isn’t it awesome?” I wanted to do an article where I just sort of meandered and discussed life and Magic all together, and then maybe a little multiplayer on the side.

Yeah. Let’s talk about multiplayer for a second, shall we? In theory. Because I don’t currently have an actual, you know, group — though if you live in Cleveland and feel like throwing a weasel a bone,
feel free to email me


Dumb all over
A little ugly on the side
Dumb all over
A little ugly on the side…
— “Dumb All Over” by Frank Zappa

I said this on
my Twitter feed

the other day:

“The casual player in me can’t decide whether he’s more excited about

or Darksteel Sentinel. Raw power or resilience?”

Thing is, both appeal to two different sides of me — sides that I think are a part of most multiplayer, Spikey people.

Exsanguinate? Is raw power. If you want to build a multiplayer deck, just throw four Innocent Bloods, four Barter in Blood, four Cabal Coffers, and four of this. Pumped with enough mana, you’re going to make yourself unstoppable.

No, it doesn’t affect the board. On the other hand, Kokusho, the Evening Star pretty much proved that sucking everyone’s life can be

annoying — and a solid victory method. This is the kind of deck you play if you loom large and go, “
Ho, puny mortals!

I dare you to stop me!

Darksteel Sentinel, however, features everything people want for the attrition game. It’s hard to kill, holding the fort at home effortlessly. You can ping for attacks whenever you want without fear, thanks to the vigilance. (Which I always want to pronounce as “vig-ih-lunce.”) And it flashes in, so you don’t have to commit until you know it’s going to work.

Darksteel Sentinel works for people who are looking to win the long game with cards that work in increments. These decks work surprisingly well in multiplayer; sure, someone might be able to Path to Exile your Darksteel Sentinel, but come on! There’s a huge Angel over there, some lumbering green beast there, and a stupid control mage with a Wall of Fog trying to buy time — why waste the removal on Sentinel?

And so you fly below the radar, winning because you’re in a position where it would take an effort to destroy you, but not so far ahead that everyone


The more I think about it, the more I think of Darksteel Sentinel vs. Exsanguinate as multiplayer demographics of their own. And it’s nice that both can work, it really is.

Dissipation Field

Too expensive for Constructed, this one might make it into a lot of multiplayer decks as a kind of pseudo-Propaganda: “Don’t hit me, hit


Ironically, though, it has the exact same weaknesses that Propaganda has; it wards off swarms of token attacks (they can’t afford to pay for their Saprolings with Propaganda, and they can’t afford to have them all bounced with Dissipation Field), while being vulnerable to the one big guy (Kresh the Bloodbraided doesn’t really care if he has to go to bye-bye town once he’s smacked you for seventy damage).

It helps ward off Prodigal Pyromancers, I suppose, but anyone who’s playing those in multiplayer is generally losing anyway.
*cue angry dude with totally

Prodigal Sorcerer deck*

Elspeth Tirel

Every planeswalker has this ability:

+1: Set StarCityGames.com price to $49.99.

But is it always the first ability they

to use when they come into play?

(Oh, that’s right; it’s “enters the battlefield.” Isn’t it enough that I’m balding and lose all the time? Thanks, Wizards, for giving us a whole friggin’ vocabulary makeover to make us old players actually


Anyway, she’d be great if I opened her. But I don’t play Standard, and I’m not quite willing to drop the shenanigans on a casual Soldier token deck.

Though what do I know? I’m the one who saw Baneslayer Angel at $14.99, and I said, “Meh, I’ll get that later.”

Genesis Wave

This is actually a great design for the long game; green’s traditional weakness has been to Wrath of God effects, where, whoops, you just lost all those green fatties you cast.

“I snuck up behind him and Wrathed his Kargan. He said something about pumping his Kargan, and I said ‘Dude, you

no Kargan.'”


be a completely meaningless reference in a year. Sorry if you’re reading my archives.

Anyway, the thing about a lot of green stuff is that you’re sitting there in the late game, down on cards and low on the board, but you do have a ton of friggin’ mana because that’s what green does. And you play this for six, or even eight, and

you are

back in the game.

Hand of the Praetors


Seriously, dude, who doesn’t like Leeches? Get used to it. Still, somebody’s playing this with Doubling Season, and I’ll laugh when he wins.

Hoard-Smelter Dragon

Remember Viashino Heretic? You don’t?
That’s because you’re young


In any case, Viashino Heretic was amazing in multiplayer games just because some idiot was always casting artifacts, and you could just do the ol’ ”
Stop hurting yourself!

” to the face with it. Sure, it hardly ever lived (Lightning Bolt ended careers just as quickly back in 2000 as it does today), but there was no better feeling than going, “Oh, I’m sorry —

that happening with your Darksteel Colossus? Ow.”

I’m honestly not sure if this is good or not because frankly — though it’s a big frickin’ dragon with an auto-fire Shatter (and remember, reusable effects are wondrous in multiplayer) — it’s also got a large target on its back. The beauty of the Viashino is that it was a turn 3 drop. So what if someone Doom Blades it? (Cue

.) That’s one less spell someone has when you start casting your big threats.

But this

your big threat. So is it worth it? MonSTARS usually are, my friend. But is it better than all the other six-drops you could have? Is this better than Grave Titan or Primeval Titan? Who knows?

I mean, seriously, who knows? Casual players can’t afford Titans. We just sit in our basement and open packs as though we were Veruca Salt’s factory workers, hoping one day to crack a Titan and endlessly getting Brittle Effigies. No casual player has ever cast a Primeval Titan ever. Merely doing so shatters your status as a casual player.

Don’t argue. I’m old.

Necrotic Ooze

It costs four mana, but only a fool will cast it then. Just wait for the late game. Not yet. Not yet. Not yet…


Painful Quandary

Casual players love to trot out roadblocks like this.

“For five mana, I’ll decimate everyone! They’ll have to lose life or cards with every spell I cast, and I’ll win!”

“…This enchantment goes away if I just friggin’
kill you

, right, Fred?”



Platinum Emperion

Very nice. I have nothing to say about the card aside from the fact that I love the design.

Prototype Portal

I’d say something clever like, “This is going to be the sleeper casual hit of Scars of Mirrodin,” except honestly I haven’t read any other casual players’ articles about Scars. Maybe they’re all a-twitter! Perhaps they’re dancing in the streets! My rampant ignorance doesn’t allow me to say!

That said, for four mana, this is pretty bitchin’. Even if you’re just endlessly copying Sol Ring, you’re doing danged well. Reusing and recycling is the key to any long game in multiplayer, and this can be reused in a variety of ways to really create some havoc. It’s pricey, sure, but I think if you just wait, you’re going to see some nice decks built around this one.

In fact, I’m totally

going to announce a deckbuilding contest! Because reading the decks of a hundred and twenty people is work. Who wants that? I have stories to write.

Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon

I really like the design on this one. I’m not sure I want to pay what it’s going for at SCG right now, even though it’s reasonable, because I’m hoping to crack one this weekend. I think that’s the main appeal of Elder Dragon Highlander these days; you can just Wonka your way to a good deck — because you don’t need four Jace, the Mind Sculptors, you need one. Likewise, all I need’s one good dragon, and maybe I’ll rip it.

We’ll see what happens on Saturday.

Signing off,
The Ferrett


The Here Does Something At This Site Here Guy


on Twitter