Sullivan’s Satchel: Twitter, Legacy, And Old School

Patrick Sullivan answers mailbag questions on his Twitter presence, dusting off his Legacy Burn deck, and the pleasures of Old School.

Thunder Spirit, illustrated by Randy Asplund-Faith

Hello, and welcome to this edition of Sullivan’s Satchel. In some positive personal news, I’ve received a significant job offer from a game design company, and while the details are still being sorted out it probably represents a material increase in stability and earning in the near future.

I believe everything is contractually compatible with both Wizards of the Coast (WotC) and Star City Games, but if anything the blocker is likely to be sheer number of hours in the week, plus my sanity. I’m going to give it a fair effort to balance everything; I love working on Magic in various ways, but I also love my kids and sleeping every now and again. Writing and commentary in particular give me a platform for self-aggrandizing and sycophantic interactions and there’s no real substitute for that in my other professional endeavors, so we’ll see I guess.

End of the year is usually a blind spot for competitive Magic and this is even more the case this year with, you know, everything. I’m on Twitter less because it is aggressively useless for day-to-day practical matters besides “brand building,” but the sum of this has resulted in the questions not flooding in at their usual rate.

Consider this a threat — I don’t need you or this column. I never really did, but it is even more the case now and if you want to keep extracting bits of my soul (plus Cedric’s, who has to deal with a endless array of blown deadlines/issues with WordPress/my own vanity and the way it manifests in our professional relationship/etc.) I need more content from you, the reader, who is actually reading this right now and could send a question of your own through my Twitter DMs @BasicMountain or via email over at [email protected]. Remember, each week I select a Question of the Week, and that one is good for $25 in SCG credit. With that,

K L asks:

Hi. Just some feedback from a Twitter follower who doesn’t know you personally (you got me, I am talking about me 😉): It is really hard to decipher when you are snarky or when you are serious. Most recently the Tweet on the halftime score DAL – LAC. I thought you were a Dallas fan, but after reading your comment in the comments section, I was surprised to find you a Clippers fan. And I remember being confused about some of your political comments in the past and giving thought to unfollowing you (especially this past year). I am totally aware that you could give a $#!+ about some anonymous Twitter follower, but I sense that you are willing to hear from someone with this point of view. Thank you for reading.

I get variations of this a fair bit. I also know that I lost a fair number of followers (~300, with more people than that who actually “unfollowed” because I get new followers, as well) during the most recent American election cycle.

For the most part, the vitriol I received was in the “Why aren’t you doing everything you can to stop Trump?” sort of liberal analysis. I refute that critique on two fronts — the moral case that your vote should be an affirmative approval of both the candidate and the process that brought you here, and the practical case that you can’t get the politics you want by voting for people hostile to your politics, and in fact if you acquiesce to “the lesser of two evils” it is completely rational for the lesser evil you’ve signed up for to treat you like garbage and give you nothing in exchange for your support. But these are heated times and circumstances; I don’t begrudge anyone for unfollowing me or anyone else. It’s hard enough to maintain your sanity being online all the time and anything someone needs to do to curate their space I think is good.

A lot gets made of “echo chambers” online and I’m not saying there’s nothing to that, but I know that I have more appetite for disagreement when the stakes don’t really matter to me. I have an opinion on Paul George’s extension and if someone else lands elsewhere on it, that’s cool. Agree to disagree. Not everyone is so privileged when it comes to the outcome of elections or policy outcomes, and if you find yourself indefatigable when it comes to politely disagreeing with people who disagree with you, it is worth unpacking if you have “politics” or merely “preferences.”

Where the “confusion” comes from is that many liberals mostly argue online with their racist uncles or whatever and so their politics get to have the veneer of a moral aristocracy; they can’t countenance accusations that their politics aren’t sufficiently “good.” Furthermore, because the ideology selects for people who self-identify as “smart” and “rational,” they don’t have a framework for defending the contradictions within the ideas they claim to support, and how they manifest as policies with the politicians they adore. Black Lives Matter (MENA residents need not apply) or Believe Science (except the parts about fracking being bad), on and on it goes.

That isn’t to say I think these people are universally or even frequently bad; many of them have good intuitions and are doing what they think responsible people should do under the circumstances. But I find conversations in this space to be irritating to me and I’m sure the same is often true in reverse.

Even when I’m snarky, I’m serious. I think the stakes matter, and I think the range of options to produce acceptable results against the enormity of our shared circumstances narrows by the day. I don’t really care if the Clippers lose by 50 and I think it’s good to fill your life with some stuff you can “care” about but not really put a lot of weight into. I think you should unfollow me if I’m annoying or stress you out and you definitely are under no obligation to wonder why but it might be useful to, anyway. None of this really answers any questions but I just went back and read the message and it doesn’t contain any question marks, so I guess I’m off the hook.

From The Legacy Pit:

Patrick, Hello.

Do you have any interest in playing some Legacy Burn on The Pot as a guest remote player? The people have asked…

Absolutely! The Legacy Pit is one of my favorite Magic streams. Just some people playing live, paper Legacy, with really high production value as far as these things go. Takes me back to covering the Opens of 2014. I am well beyond washed and my time is at a premium but I’d love to find a way to do it. In the meantime, I suggest checking them out @TheLegacyPit on Twitch. They’re live a few times a week from what I can tell.

From Johnny_T:

Any updates to your Dimir Control deck?

Pretty close to the same. I like the second Essence Scatter, cutting the third Extinction Event, because it’s roughly as good as Extinction Event on balance against creature decks while also pulling weight against Yorion decks that often have Atris and Solemn Simulacrum on top of their companion.

I’ve having some trouble against Dimir Rogues and I’m on the verge of adding a third Midnight Clock to the sideboard, since that card + removal is where of your sideboard wins come from. But still happy with this, still not interested in Yorion (and just rinsing people in the “mirror”), position isn’t quite as good as it was a month ago since I played against nearly zero Mono-Green Food, but I still like it.

Lastly, The Question of the Week, from Eric Martin:

I dunno if you’ve covered this before but could you talk about what you enjoy about old school and maybe share the deck or decks you’re playing or building?

The thing I like the most about Old School is that I’m not actually that old-school. Not relative to that format, at least. I started playing Magic around The Dark, which of course is very old but not at the literal beginning. I was in the seventh grade, the internet didn’t inform much in terms of Magic sales or strategy (did it even exist then? I can’t remember), and I had no money to speak of.

Magic was exploding in popularity by the set, and keep in mind that you couldn’t really buy cards online, so cards from older sets were hard to find. I remember going to a tournament in Bound Brook, New Jersey, where a few of the players had a bunch of cards from Legends, and having never seen them before. I couldn’t believe it when someone cast a Thunder Spirit; what a deal! (It just died and then so did my opponent, but it was impressive nonetheless.)

So I think a lot of people would assume that I am fascinated by Old School because I played with those cards and decks, but the reality is that those were the cards and decks that I wanted to own when I was a kid and couldn’t. A Mox was maybe $120 back then ($250 adjusted for inflation), which is obviously much cheaper than a Mox nowadays but still was something I couldn’t afford. Looking at those decklists still triggers a childlike sense of wonder and inaccessibility, even though I own a few of the marquee cards in a tucked-away box.

Part of what’s fun to think about for me are individual cards I’d want to play with, less than decks. Off the top of my head, and in particular order, here are the Old School cards I’d want to play with the most:

Library of Alexandria Atog Serendib Efreet Balance Argivian Archaeologist Hypnotic Specter Disrupting Scepter Mana Drain Ironclaw Orcs Icy Manipulator Mox Ruby