Er… no, that’s not quite right… first up, just a quick note to say that I am getting a little worried right now. Worried for the beloved game of Magic: The Gathering. Why? Well there’s a new kid on the block and he’s getting all of our friends to go play with him instead – his name is Call – Asheron’s Call. Now, it’s a given thing that everyone knows the eminent Mr. Wakefield has decided to pack away his cards and log in to Dereth, but very-recently a noted UK female player (no names, but no prizes either) has all but thrown in her M:TG towel in favour of same said on-line gaming experience. For someone at the height of her powers, this comes as a sad shock.
Let me pose a couple of questions and indulge me as I squeeze out MY part-formed answers:
Qn 1. So why should people be lured away from the face-to-face, card-flopping experience?
a. too many over-powered, game-swinging cards; it looks like the May set is now the ‘stupid big stuff’ set, if the Prophecy spoilers are to be believed; also, how many times have you been on the cusp of victory only to see 4 mana tapped and a Parallax Wave/Tide conjure a works-lodging spanner? One card should not achieve such a massive swing in the game…
b. it is getting progressively more costly to stay in the game – given that the competitive Standard decks require anything between 6 and 20 (!) rares…
c. too many junk cards – the secondary collectors market seems to have slumped; certainly in the UK the ‘set collector’ is even rarer than a foil Lightning Bolt!
d. the environment seems to be swinging between one ridiculous predominant deck to another with bannings in between.
e. Wizards of the Coast’s seemingly erratic behaviour with regard to on-line traders (see Mr. Granaas’ recent article)
f. a general feeling of stagnation, of the handle being turned and clean product being trundled out at the end; where’s the innovation? Is it really time for a new colour?
Mind you, on a positive note, I think the limited environment is wonderful at the moment – draft is my absolute favourite format (in our regular 3 match Swiss sessions, I should now like to be called ‘Mr 6 Points’ – I just can’t take it that extra 3); and the latest card artwork is simple jaw-dropping (Copper-Leaf Angel makes a delicious screen backdrop).
Qn 2. Is Asheron’s Call REALLY that good?
a. from Jamie Wakefield ‘farewell’ article I thought it actually sounded more than a little clichéd (and dull…and downright difficult!) – during an obviously lengthy session, he died twice and lost all of his equipment! Ho-hum – no politics or intrigue, he was just a bit too slow on the ‘fight’ key.
b. it’s obviously cheaper than M:TG – I’m assuming very low (if nil) connection and call rates and the one-of payment for the software – are there recurring charges? If not, it beats M:TG with a brown stick for VFM. Inform me – I’m in the dark!
c. despite the sexy graphics, wouldn’t you all rather be face-to-face roleplaying? At least you’d have time for a cup of tea and a slice of Madeira cake…mmmm, sounds good…hang on a second…
(sound of receding footsteps, opening and closing of cupboards, clatter of plates, approaching footsteps)
*mmmmmfff* mow ats etter *mmffffff*
d. its a jazzed-up chat board as well (bo-nus!)
Is anyone else concerned? That’s it for the rant…now on to the silliness…
HUH LAY-DEEZ ANNA GENNALMEN
(hushed commentary over a general background of murmuring as the Theatre fills up)
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to this, the most important event in the Dominarian calender, the Annual Masqued Ball. All of the multiverse’s most popular personalities will be present this evening. As I speak, I can see the first guests beginning to arrive, so without further ado I shall hand you over to our Master of Ceremonies, Miss Davina Intervention.
(slight howl of feedback)
Splendid in his General’s Regalia, I can see the lofty, blond-haired and blue-eyed "tall, arian Acka Demie" enters the Hall; oh, and I see Manny Pulator over by the Hors D’Oevres of Leitbur, helping himself to the Raiding Pate, Part Water Biscuits, and the Cheese (which is all by itself).
Here come Carter Mundi, Chester Scap, Max Jet, and the hairless "Bald" Uve Yanhort; following them is a strong academic contingent of Prof. Ici, old "Learn ‘Em" Jim, and the Right Honorable Passage.
The Church, of course, is always well represented at these functions, and I can just see Reverend Mantra and Cardinal Advantage (both strong ecological campaigners, or "Greener Pastors"), Brother Zovire, Mother Superior Numbers, the monk E. Cage, the Runed Archbishop, and Vicar-General Jarkeld; unfortunately, the Pope had to pull out at the last minute*.
Also joining us in this magnificent Arena, there’s Alma Geddon, Ray O’Command, Mike Stone, Pierre Elemental, Rudi Medallion, Tony Bout, Mario, Dirk Ritual, Derek Banishing, Frank N. File, Pete Bog, Wendell Ust, Richard Anport, Phil Ingstar, K. Ossorb, Brad Moon, Savannah Lionel, Stone Hans, Fritz Liveroil, Gunther Spell, Blessed Wayne, Phil Gya, Spencer Beetles, Noel Rod, the Scotsman Nic Warter, Fenella Fortune, Dean Eight, Auntie Marge Ikora, Vic T. Mise, Coral Helm, my mate Rowen, Graham Ogre, Gaz Barnogre, and Julie D’Amulet.
Oh my word! Everyone is standing for the arrival of King Masticore, or to use his full title: King Masticore Shouldbe-Bandits O’Broken; with him, as usual, is the Royal entourage comprising his conquerbines Lady Cardsonthetable, Miss Ticramora, and Ella Swarm; his children, Prince Errors, Princess Ayshun, and the Prince of Great Whales (with his fiancee Miss Erscage). Also with the party are Count Back, the Marquis De Fury, Lord Otherpit, Earl E. Harvest, and Duke Hatchling.
And now to the world of TV, Film, and Music as a coach-load of stars arrive from Allaywood: George Cloney, Jennifer Lapis-Lazuli Talisman, Gary Oldmanofthesea, Uma Thermokarst, Kevin Bacon-to-Basics, Christian Slaughter, Russell "Storm" Crowe, Raging River Phoenix, Brad Pitt-trap, Meryl Streepmine, Kathleen Turnabout, Christian Boil, Kevin Alternative-Casting-Costner, Truce Willis (and ex-wife Demi Moorfiend), and Richard E. Landgrant. Oh, not forgetting Ballista Flockhartstone (from Allay McBoil) – she’s looking a little heavy…hello! There’s Aether Sting, Pariah Carey, the bands Marosmith & Karn, and Madonnate.
We interrupt this program to bring you grave news: Tony Boydell has just announced that he will NOT be quitting Magic. After much soul-searching, naval-gazing, and consultation with family, friends, and legal advisors, Mr Boydell has announced that he will not be selling his cards, will continue to attend tournaments (albeit intermittently), and has absolutely no intention of becoming addicted to Asheron’s Call. Replying to this announcement, a close friend said: "I’m sorry that Tony has felt it necessary to announce his commitment to Magic at this time, I’m sure that a great many people will agree that this is a questionable decision, possibly made in haste, and we hope and pray that he will reconsider his position in the near future".
*an old joke, but one of the best!