I was planning on writing about the next round of the UST… But things change. Ten years ago, I wrote my first article for StarCity Games, called ” Change Happens.” That same day, Tony Boydell wrote an
article called “Peter Out!” Well, now that my column has been put on
“indefinite hiatus,” that appears to be true. Guess it’s time for a retrospective.
I started writing, in early 1999, for The Dojo. In late 2000, the Dojo folded. The Ferrett — then editor here at StarCity Games — offered me a new
home here. I have been writing a weekly column, for this website ever since. I had been writing casual stuff then, with an occasional tournament
report. Since then, I have written a little bit of everything…. Or maybe I should say a lot of everything.
How much has changed in that decade.
Back when I started writing here, Bob Maher, Jr., Kai Budde, and Jon Finkel were all still playing regularly. A good chunk of the current members of
the Pro Tour Hall of Fame had not yet played in their first Pro Tour — and some didn’t even have DCI numbers. Players have appeared, won Pro Tours,
retired, and been forgotten during my stint here at SCG. (Who am I referring to, do you ask? I dunno — I’ve forgotten, too.)
When I started writing, there was no Standard, Legacy, or Vintage. We had Type I, Type II, and Extended (aka Type 1.5.) The dual lands were legal in
Extended, as was Ice Age. Trix was a dominant deck. When I started writing — for the Dojo, at least — damage did not use the stack, because the stack
had not yet been invented.
Since my first article for SCG, over fifty — that’s fifty, 5-0 — new sets have been released. I started writing just after the emergency bannings that
saved Standard and Extended from the problem cards in a MaRo-designed, artifact-heavy set called Urza’s Legacy. I’m stopping, at least for this site,
just before a MaRo-designed, artifact-heavy set called Scars of Mirrodin.
It’s bookends, I guess.
Back when I first joined StarCity Games, the Ferrett was trying to build up StarCity. Back then, SCG was the casual spot â€” but the Ferrett
worked hard and SCG passed Mindrippper and even the Sideboard (as the mother ship was then called) to become the premier Magic website. Eventually,
The Ferrett moved on to more serious writing. He was replaced by Ted Knutson. Later Craig took over, and now Teddy Cardgame is back. Between them,
they will — assuming this article is published — have edited 409 of my articles. A few were insanely long, and the Daily articles were just 1,500
words, but the average was about 4k words per article. That means that I have written over 1.5 million words here on StarCity. 1.5 million words
probably puts me up in Rizzo territory — but John F. Rizzo wrote roughly 1.5 million words per article.
I’ve enjoyed every word — and everything else involved in writing for StarCity Games. (Except for the jackasses in the forums, that is.)
I’m pretty sure I’m the senior writer here at StarCity… Until tomorrow, that is.
I looked back at my first SCG column. At the bottom of the page, SCG lists the other people published on that day. Me. Rizzo. Anthony Alongi. Tony
Boydell, David Zach Stroud. Looking at other articles from the period, I see a couple of familiar names — including Geordie Tait. He was writing
decent strategy, back in the day. Now he’s back. That’s
Over the years, I have seen a lot of writers appear, disappear and reappear. Jamie Wakefield made a couple comebacks. Mike Flores has been writing,
on and off, for SCG. Rizzo had a comeback for a while. Sheldon was writing Ask the Judge back then. Sheldon wrote, took a break, and now he’s back…
Unless he is getting a hiatus, too. I guess that depends on just how much Ted is doing to shake things up.
Hopefully, the shake-up will do good things for SCG. In some respects, it is needed. SCG articles have been pretty short of graphics and embedded
videos and all the cool stuff. Submitting those has been a pain, and the rules on what was acceptable have been constraining. The quality of some of
the articles has been iffy. It looks like Ted is being brought in to fix that. StarCityGames has been slipping — Channel Fireball and even whatever
Mindripper is called nowadays (it’s had at least five names while I’ve been at StarCity) are looking pretty competitive. SCG buried everyone, once.
Hopefully, they can do it again.
We’ll see. I’ll be rooting for them… Probably. On the other hand, since SCG put me on waivers, maybe I’ll be playing for another team, and have other
loyalties. Of course, after backing SCG for a decade, I’ll always have a soft spot for the site (especially if they let me keep my Premium account.)
It’s been a pretty good decade. A lot of memories.
I learned an important lesson in my fourth article on SCG. In Conspiracy, I wrote an intro talking about Wizard’s
new money-making scheme — eliminating basic lands and making all lands at least uncommons. I pointed out that the spoilers then floating around did
not list basic lands — a clear indication that they were being phased out. The forums, which unfortunately no longer exist for articles that old,
exploded. People actually believed me — and I learned to publish hoaxes only on April First.
(I have also noted that MTGSalvation now always lists the 20 basic lands first — even when the spoiler is just twenty cards long. Maybe I have a
I had a lot of fun writing April 1 articles — although one April Fools’ Day, I wrote a classic tournament report, instead.
I also coveredthe death of Magic. Andthis death. Andthis one and this one. Magic has died 8.46*10^47
times since I started writing. During that time, the entire population of the earth has quit playing. Three times. My personal favorite article– the one that I
think I really got exactly right – was also a rant about the death of a format.
My articles were hardly all rants, however. I had a lot of fun. I wrote about a lot of decks — multiplayer, competitive, and just plain weird. I
also got a lot of great opportunities. One of the biggest came when Wizards asked me to playtest Mirrodin. Wizards wanted
someone to playtest cards in a multiplayer setting, and the Ferrett recommended my group. It was awesome! (And when we saw it, Disciple of the Vault
cost 1B, and Affinity was not quite as powerful. We did not playtest Darksteel.)
Being a playtester lead to another change. Playtesters cannot play in any sanctioned tournament for a month or so after the set is debuted. That
meant I could not play in the prerelease. I could, however, judge. I passed my Level One judge test, and have been judging ever since. Judging has
let me attend other events, like Pro Tours and Worlds. I wrote about those events, and about judging â€” things likeSo You Want To Be A Judge, and Pro Tour Hollywood, plus a couple dozen
Writing for StarCity — and for PureMTGO, and other sites — also lead to another insane opportunity: playing in the first Community Cup Challenge in Renton. That was also
All of these opportunities have given me topics for the four hundred plus articles. What goes around comes around.
A few years back, StarCity ran something called the Daily Series. A single author would write a five article series to run one a day for a week. The
articles were short — the target length was 1k words, instead of the standard 3k. I loved these. I wrote several series. The Dailies let you change
styles and write a bit differently — like the time I wrote traditional movie reviews, but replacing the actors with cards and built a deck at the end.
Here are the links.
SCG Daily Movie Review: The Princess Bride
SCG Daily Movie Review: The Corpse Bride
SCG Daily Movie Review: The Sequel
SCG Daily Movie Reviews – Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were Rabbit
SCG Daily Movie Review Goes XXX
One series that got a lot of feedback was the countdown of the Five Worst Cards of All Time. A lot of people speculated on Number One, during the week
leading up to it. Here are those links.
Public Enemy Number One was not Island.
I could also link to my Extended Format history articles, or my numerous statistical breakdowns of formats and PTQ / Nationals seasons, but that’s all
old history. If you like that sort of thing, check out my article archive.
I think I’ll close with a bit of what would have been — here some more coverage of the Ultimate Standard Tournament. I have been running a tournament
matching thirty-two of the best Standard legal decks of all time in a single elimination tournament. The idea is to find out if modern decks can run
with the best historical decks. The event will play best of five matches, with two unsideboarded and up to three sideboarded matches. The decks
chosen are a selection of the most famous historical decks, as played at the time.
The brackets and decklists can be found here. I’m curious about the final results, so I
may play out the tournament. If I do, I’ll update results and maybe add play-by-play to the Google doc. Or carry it over to another site, if that’s
how this plays out.
On to the coverage.
Glare: Draw Kodama of the North Tree, play Forest, play Guildmage using Brushland. (19-20)
Affinity: Draw Blinkmoth Nexus, play Seat of the Synod, Frogmite tapping Vault, Thoughtcast (drawing Thoughtcast and Shrapnel Blast)
Glare: draw Pithing Needle, attack with Guildmage (no blocks), Play Guildmage #2, play Sanctuary bouncing Brushland. (18-18)
Affinity: draw Ravager, play Thoughtcast (drawing Electrostatic Bolt and Shrapnel Blast) attack with Frogmite (no blocks), play Ravager. (16-18)
Glare: draw Jitte, play and equip Jitte, attack with equipped Guildmage. Affinity double blocks with Ravager and Disciple. Counter moves to
Frogmite, Disciple pings for one. (15-18)
Affinity: draw and play Arcbound Worker, Disciple of the Vault, beat for 3. (12-18)
Glare: draw Vitu-Ghazi, the City Tree. Beat with Guildmage, Play Tree, Arashi. (12-16)
Affinity: draw Thoughtcast (draw Nexus and Skullclamp) play Blinkmoth Nexus, Clamp, equip Worker. Counter to Frogmite, draw Citadel and Myr Enforcer,
ping one) play Enforcer for free, clamp Frogmite (now 6/4), beat with Frogmite. (6-16)
Game Two — Affinity on the play.
(Play alternating sides for the two non-sideboarded games, then three sideboarded games, if necessary.)
Affinity: Draw Worker, beat for nine (Wood Elves chumps Enforcer), play Citadel, Worker (6-20)
Glare: Draw Forest – concede
Glare can bring in two Naturalizes, two Carven Caryatids and the Wrath for the two Yoseis, two Congregation at Dawn, and a Kodama of the North Tree.
Affinity brings in the Pyroclasms for two Shrapnel Blasts and two Welding Jars.
Game Three – Glare plays first.
It’s just slightly risky, but Glare keeps 2 Vitu-Ghazi the City Tree, Umezawa’s Jitte, Pithing Needle, Wood Elves, Carven Caryatid, Loxodon Hierarch.
Affinity mulligans 2 Darksteel Citadel, Ravager, Enforcer, 2 Blinkmoth Nexus, Disciple. It draws another risky hand — Worker, Glimmervoid, Chromatic
Sphere, Pyroclasm, Shrapnel Blast, Ravager. It’s on the draw, so it keeps.
Glare: Draw and play Okina, Temple of the Grandfathers, play Jitte.
Affinity: Draw and play Seat of the Synod, beat for one, play Ravager. (19-20)
Glare: Draw and play Forest, equip Jitte, attack. Affinity blocks with Worker, sacks it to Ravager so no Jitte counters. Glare plays Carven Caryatid,
drawing Pithing Needle.
Affinity: Draw and play Chromatic Sphere, attack with Ravager. Block with Caryatid, sac one Sphere to the Ravager so it kills the Caryatid.
Glare: Draw Wood Elves. Play Pithing Needle naming Ravager, attack, trading Worker for Wood Elves and two Jitte counters. Play Wood Elves, fetching
Temple Garden, and equip.
Affinity: Draw Skullclamp. Sac Chromatic Sphere for Red — drawing Disciple — then Pyroclasm to get rid of the Wood Elves and beat for six. Play
Glare: Draw Llanowar Elves, beat into Ravager, trading token for Jitte counters. Make a Saproling, equip it.
Affinity: Draw and play Skullclamp, Shrapnel Blast token, beat for 6. (7-20) (A desperation play, hoping Glare would burn counters saving the token.
Few other options.)
Glare: Draw and play Brushland, beat for four and two counters, play Glare (11-16)
Affinity: Draw Frogmite, play Frogmite, Ravager. Glare kills Frogmite, then Ravager with the Jitte, makes a Saproling end of turn.
Glare: Draw Guildmage, beat for eight, play Guildmage.
Affinity: Draw Glimmervoid and scoop.
— Affinity on the play
Keeps Great Furnace, 2 Worker, Frogmite, Disciple, Ravager.
Glare mulls five lands, Arashi, and Hierarch into Forest, Brushland, Birds, Wood Elves, Guildmage, Kodama of the North Tree.
Affinity: Draw Seat of the Synod, play Ravager, beat for one, play Frogmite. (19-20)
Glare: Draw Llanowar Elves, play Brushland, Wood Elves (fetching a Temple Garden untapped), Llanowar Elves. (17-20)
Affinity: Draw and play Citadel, play Worker, sac Worker to Ravager — counter on Frogmite. Sac other Worker to Ravager. Play Pyroclasm, beat for
Glare: draw Hierarch, play untapped Temple Garden, Hierarch (12-20)
Affinity: draw and play Frogmite, attack with Ravager. No blocks. (8-20)
Glare: Draw, play and equip Jitte.
Affinity: Draw and play Chromatic Sphere. Play Disciple, draw another Sphere and play it. Attack with two Frogmites, Ravager. Hierarch blocks
Ravager, Ravager sacs itself to put counters on unblocked Froggie, which is lethal.
This column, on the other hand, does not.
It’s been a good ride.
“one million words” on MTGO