Monday, January 28, 2019


"Errata is bad times, though, as it causes confusing situations for people that play with older versions of cards. And this errata would affect lots of cards."--Aaron Forsythe, Classifying Samite Healers, 7/16/2004

Magic: the Gathering has had an extremely long history with errata, dating back all the way to 1993, when a number of Alpha cards were printed with wrong CMC, power/toughness, and in one case, no way to play it. In the very early days of Magic, it was simple, you played as the card was written. This meant Orcish Oriflamme was strictly better in a situation with an Alpha deck (only Alpha cards could be in with other alpha cards), however the distinctions between designs didn't end there. One of my favorite examples of cards having slightly different wording for different effects is Island Sanctuary.

A simple change in description, one says attacks, the other says damage. The difference being with the alpha one, as printed, you can get away without paying Force of Nature, or spam Orcish Artillery. In 94, they started down the long road of errata, which led to things like Raging River being an Enchant World, Cyclone having Cumulative Upkeep, and the back and forth ice hockey game that was 'text on Time Vault'.

One of the most errata'd cards ever to exist.
 Luckily, WotC has largely stopped attempting errata, unless it's something BIG (like the grand creature type update). However, I'm not here to talk about the errata of WotC and it's history, instead, I'm here to talk about well, this:

When those peppers are extra spicy
The poster child for the format itself, Chaos Orb is honestly probably one of the most famous cards in the game. It's effect itself is something of myth and legend, and its notoriety is just as famous. It even got a homage in Unglued, to the long told story that someone once tore one up in a tournament.

It's current text

However, as printed, the card is more than broken. Someone who's been flicking the card for almost 30 years can wipe out several cards with the precision of a laser. It quickly became the idea to 'fix it', with a fan agreed errata, and it became literally universally recognized

Outside of literally one detractor I know, almost all players agree on this line of text. It's easy to understand, it's still within the spirit of the card, and the only down side is, it can't possibly backfire by hitting your cards (it can however miss, which some would say is a backfire itself).

While debates on the rules were actually common (as would be, in a regional based format), all players recognized this as the only errata, until Fallen Star. Fallen Star currently has another strange errata, this time, you choose a number of creatures and put them into a pile, or a row, and drop the card. Again, it loses the chance to backfire on you, as well, the rest of the card functions as intended. However, being a dexterity card, I love the fact it's almost playable now online. I do agree with that text for online play.

Now there is something I like to call errata creep. As few of you know, I also play a game called YuGiOh (or did) and I keep an eye on it from time to time. As said at the beginning of the article, errata can often be detrimental for certain cards, and for people rejoining the game. It also can in turn, come into making a card even more powerful than before.

YuGiOh is one of my favorite examples of wanton errata, because card names are just as important the the function of the card as everything else. Which in turns, either creates renaming of cards (some of which are classics), or the text (x isn't a y card). This doesn't even delve into the mess that is the TCG vs the OCG, or how Europe occasionally doesn't errata cards when the USA does.

So why am I bringing up YGO in an MtG conversation? Well recently several USA play group's have decided to add errata to the infamous 'bands with others' lands. The bands with Others lands are notorious for their lack of mana abilities with the fact they have one function to form legends into bands.

When legends was released, it had a very thick D&D theme to it, and these 5 locations were stereotypes of places a D&D party might meet. They didn't tap for mana, since it was felt banding was that useful of an ability, and the flavor that these locations sh
ouldn't be mana rich enough.

Stangg always discusses a tactic with his twin over a cold one before going into combat.
Recently, I discovered that the brave Knights of the TAPlar have been playing with an errata that they can tap for mana of their respective color for over a year now. The Atlantic playgroup has suggested the same thing, but making them legendary, which adds an additional issue with that mechanic.

Yes, I know she's a throw away legend, and I know she's not going to see much play, but she's there. She has legendary landwalk, it's a legitimate issue changing the actual type of these cards. It's also one I guarantee wouldn't be noticed until someone pointed it out.

I'm not saying I don't understand the desire to make them better, but where does that stop? There is literally no reason to not run this outside blood moon as it is now. I understand you wish they were better, we all do, but when does that stop. How long until Safe Haven and Island of Wak-Wak tap for a blue? How long until Mana Birds have 1 toughness to make it more efficient? Hell why stop their, turning Mind Twist into Mind Shatter will make it fair. How about a 4/4 Hill Giant? We already have manaburnless Su-Chi in half the world? Can I get Camouflage to work as printed instead of the garbled mess it is on Gatherer? I'm just saying, errata is a slippery slope, and if not kept under control, and only to the absolute most necessary, Old School will soon lose it's identity, and will be unrecognizable from it's current self.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Visions: The butterfly effect.

Visions. What can be said about this that isn't presented on the card itself. It allows you to look at cards, and if you want, shuffle that library.

Art: NeNe Thomas I feel never got her due. For an artist mostly famous for drawing scantity clad women and fairies, she has some great pieces in Legends. This one is no exception, with a meditating samurai receiving a ghostly vision in the form of a ghostly woman. While simple, it's colors are good, with a large amount of contrasts, but nothing contrasting to overwhelming. The simple, but distinct features of the two characters are also nice, especially given how small the art was probably when commissioned. While the lack of background is disappointing, it works because any more details would probably be cluttered. It's only a bonus it's one of the few oriental looking pieces in OS, which helps it's distinction. The Art makes a good place in memory, sure nothing amazing, but certainly nothing terrible. 3/5.

Playability: Information is power. Wisdom is power. It took twenty years, but people eventually realized that Natural Selection is really good (especially when used against your opponent). Portent has been used in a similar manner. In reality, very few cards give you top deck information, and none of them dig five cards deep. However, this lacks the ability to manipulate the deck, but in turn, looks deeper. It also lets you shuffle. Someone once said 'Sylvan library is good until every card on top of your deck is crap'. I'd dare say, this can combo amazingly well with Sylvan Library. Other advantages with this, is a turn 1 drop when you don't want to mulligan, to see if your deck is worth keeping (or to try for better luck). Further, I'd say you could in theory try this with Millstone. However, you probably have better options for that. So I'd give it a 3/5. Not an amazing card, it has it's uses, and I'm glad it's there, but not an amazing card either.

Flavor: The flavor hits the nail on the head, particularly about the unpredictability of the future. Since the card is a vision (or visions), it's obvious you're looking into the near future. Now you can attempt to stay the course, or change the future (shuffle). However, the future remains unpredictable, and thus, it invalidates the visions you seen previous. If I have any issue with the flavor, is it's white. However, it's legends, so I'll toss it up to it making sense on paper. The Thomas Gray flavor text is just a nice bones. I'll give the card a solid 5/5 for flavor, particularly in the philosophical sense about the future, but perhaps I'm thinking to much about it.

11/15=3.6/5. It's an average card, nothing special, but nothing bad. A nice addition to have in your box for a brew, or perhaps to try and help a combo go off, but nothing that will win the game by itself. I recommend particularly trying it sometime with Sylvan Library, if for nothing else, than it's shuffle effect (better than taking 8 ;) ).

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Winter Derby 2.0: 5 color legends

"Anytime you can get Action Legends together, it's going to be a classic"--Chuck Norris

"Legends die hard. They survive as truth rarely does"--Helen Hayes

"Like any other world, Dominia has it's legends."--Legends Magazine Ad

It all started rather stupidly, when I did a poll on a certain facebook group asking what deck I should play in the Winter Derby. Among them included mono-red control, suicide white, and green/black burn. While most of the decks I had solid plans for, one I didn't was 5 color legends. A deck I figured would get a few votes, and that's it. It got triple the votes then anything else, and despite my best efforts, I couldn't keep myself from building it.

So where do I start, I guess with the building of it. 

Every card currently in the deck was put there for a reason.

For removal, a lone disc, a balance, 4 STP, and 4 Disenchant. I actually wasn't that worried about creature removal, since if I got any hitter on the board, he was going to stick. I made it a priority anything costing more than 3 had to have at least 4 toughness, with an ideal of 5. This killed Hazezon Tamar a Falconer from the deck.. And while Rasputin technically has 1, his ability to prevent damage was a must.

I utilized Untamed Wilds as my fetch card, perfect fixing, along with Stone. I'm not sure if City was a good choice, since it often was just as detrimental to me as to anyone else.


"Suck it Sol'kanar"--Stangg

 Believe it or not, out of all the creatures I ran, Stangg packed the most punch. Thanks to Adventurer's Guildhouse, they even formed a band into a impressive 6/8. More then a few players overly relying on bolts also realized the 4 tougness would be hard to go over. My favorite play involving him is when I played against Sean Duffy's w/u Control. Sitting on a Serra Angel, he cast balance, hoping for me to in turn lose both of my creature's to Stangg's death trigger. Forgetting my Karakas, I bounced my Stangg (almost just bounced the token, since I had two cards in hand to his 5), causing him to sacrifice his Serra. I still lost the game some many turns later.

 This card had more of a psychological effect than anything else. Besides for the story above, removal became a lot more of an issue, as a free bounce meant I could counter any spot removal that targeted my creatures. While no story outside the top one comes out in my mind, I do remember saving at least one or two chump blockers (mainly Kei Takashi) with this.

Fun fact: my first Legend Legends

Bartel was invaluable in the game. Swinging hard, blocking harder. Any game I managed to get him out was a game I was (with once) able to swing my way. Strong enough to resist Psionic Blast, able to trade with Juggernaut and Juzam, and swinging a lofty 6 damage made him all too respectable. It doesn't hurt he's immune to Terror.

Jeff A Menges makes it well

His recursion ability is amazing. I only put him in the deck for the sake of his art. However, he proved his value in any game he didn't die the turn he came into play. It saved me from recieving lethal from a angry Serra Angel by recurring Xira at EOT. Well until I drew an Elder Dragon.

The 4th edition colors are better. Deal with it.

This card is terribly underrated. It has good art, it fixes any basic you might need. It can even be played turn two. All and all, I recommend this card for anyone too poor for duals. Plus, it's deck thinning, which I heard is nice, and it can combo well with Sylvan Library.

The Sideboard

The two cards here that made a big difference is Energy Flux and Ayesha Tanaka. In fact, even if I hinted at artifacts, I usually threw her in, and it worked, occasionally. For the artifact heavy deck, I also included Energy Flux, but we all know that. Sword was originally in the deck, and felt it could work well against control, but I didn't side it in a single game. Spirit Link was for the Djinn/Efreeti player, but not once did I draw it against any of them. Hurricane was extra skies hate. Last year, I kept encountering The Abyss, so I figured Ashnod could help. I didn't encounter a single abyss this year. Finally, I wanted my time worn Arcades in the deck, but didn't know where, so I put him in the sidelines. I didn't play him once sadly.

Idk how to rotate once it's here, sorry.

Building mistakes

Perhaps I was a bit to loyal to the theme. Perhaps I should have stuck with the burn deck instead of building this at the 11th hour. One mistake that was made was I forgot to include mindtwist in the deck or board. Regardless, I went against a wide variety of decks, including blue/red burn (the match lasted less than 10 minutes), red/blue control (Shivan dragon hurts). I played against two green decks running a play set of Ice Storm, (the second one, a green/black deck utilized a Nether Void as well), while I encountered a red green deck running Stone rains as well. The frail mana base of the deck made this enough of a speed bump to cause me to bottom out. Burn and control were easily my most difficult match ups. I sadly didn't find my factories until after the event as well, which hurt even more.

The aspect of the colors also came at a drawback, my last opponent actually Elemental Blast my Sol'kanar with one mana open, because he was red. While this is the only time it became a major deterrent, it was something I hadn't originally expected.

However, the good. Against any midrange deck, or weenie deck I did well. I took Dave Bard to a third game against his mono-white burn, as well as both green decks I mentioned above. I beat a blue/black Djinn beat down (the Spirit Link in the board helped as well).

I also beat the one combo deck I encountered, which was a power artifact build. I'm not sure if I would do well against others, since I didn't encounter any this year.

Finally, the fan-fare, everyone who encountered the deck, complimented it as well. Talking about how original or interesting it was. I wish I wrote some down so I could quote them, but you know what you said.

I also learned I should type what happens after it does, I intended to do a deck by deck analysis, but I can't remember half of what happened.

To everyone in the event, thanks!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Goblin Flotilla: Suprising Tech.

"Exceptionally poor sailors, Goblins usually arrived at their destination retching and in no condition to fight."

"Row row row your boat, gently down the stream. 
Merrily Merrily Merrily Merrily 
Life is but a dream"

Easily one of my all time favorites, Goblin Flotilla is an exceptionally good Goblin in 93/94, if your opponent has Islands. I mean it's a goblin, it's doomed by default to be good in goblins, but no, it's even better, if your opponents have an Island.

"You can't block it"--Me, to my brother

Fallen Empires was the first expansion ever to have creatures that naturally had landwalk abilities outside of color requirements of its own (otherwise that would be Wurmwood Treefolk). These creatures are River Merfolk, and Goblin Flotilla. That in is where their latent power lie. Unblockability is a fairly rare mechanic in this format, and landwalk is rarely useful, but with the relevance of these tribes, it should be noted how useful it is (especially Islandwalk).

In a format where blue is often debated as the strongest color (with good merit), an unblockable, tribal relevant creature is exceptionally good. Given he falls into the 'Grey Ogre' scale of power, also makes him worth inclusion, and means you'll never have a reason to run Goblin Hero (not that you ever did).

Sure he does include a drawback, hes pay a red or die cost, but in reality, he shouldn't be blocked to begin with, since you'd only run him against blue.

Art: First the art. The art is actually really well done, by the master of boats Tom Wanerstrand. In it, we see some goblins rowing, while dropping some unmentionables (or some have argued it's water), out from the boat. The water is nice, and the atmosphere (and other boat) behind it, is a good touch. The Goblins are believable, not over exaggerated, or unusual. The best part is the contrast of strong and weak colors. I give the art a 4/5. It might be just nostalgia, but that's my opinion on that.

Playability: As stated above, Islandwalk is a powerful mechanic. While in the main, this cards drawback of R or enemy first strike is too risky, on the board, it can work nicely. I feel two of him would curve nicely with the king, to fill out that three drop spot (especially if you are a purest who don't want Ball Lightning). The gray ogre body doesn't hurt (nor help). It doesn't hurt that Goblin is an extremely relevant tribal type. I'm given it a 3/5, even in the main, because chances are, your opponent might have a blue dual.

Flavor: This card, like many of my favorites, oozes flavor. The idea of goblins being terrible sailors makes sense, but the Islandwalk does as well (who expects goblins on the water?). The idea of them being unable to actually perform in combat without a boost also helps, and makes the card that much more endearing. Plus, it's goblins, they didn't even know Merfolk could wield magic. Flavor 5/5.

In total, I'm given this little 12/15, which makes it a 4/5. If this card was literally any other creature type, I'd say trash it, but being a goblin is a big deal in the format, and for that, I recommend trying it in any goblin builds.

"Come back, cowards! Everyone knows Merfolk can't wield magic"--Pashadar Dirf, Goblin Flotilla Commander, last words

Sunday, January 13, 2019

The final Sin: The digitalization of Magic: the Gathering

"Insanity is defined as doing the same thing and expecting different results"

Did you know, Microprose or Shandalar, the first digital Magic the Gathering card game, was first announced in Duelists #3, back in fall of '94?

It's true, in the same magazine that gave a teaser for Fallen Empires, and spoiled The Dark, had the first announcement (complete with a FAQ) about the game. Released on Windows 95 and Dos in 97, the game featured 465 cards, largely from the Core, Arabian Nights, and the Dark. In the next year, two expansions were released, which included cards from Antiquities and Legends, and sealed deck mode, which allowed you to play against the AI. Speaking of which, the AI is amazing in it's unusual complexity at times to do simple things. Further more, while the Internet multiplayer never took off, you could play games across LAN, and the game included an interesting 1-player mode (where you won packs and played for ante), and had it's own unique set of Microprose exclusive 'astral' cards. These often had randomized effects that would be hard (if not impossible) to incorporate in real life.

Aswan Jaguar had the pleasure of making it into a RL jumbo promo card.
Despite its popularity, and Hasbro announcing in Duelist #40 a GOLD version of the game, the game never materialized and MicroProse went bottom up in 2001.

However, this was just the start of MtG trying to get it's foot into the game market. Chris Cocks, current President of WotC,  has said he will expand the IP of Magic into every crevasse it could fit into. This includes Comics, movies, and yes, Video games, not all of them related to cards.

Insanity is defined as: Doing the same thing over again, expecting different results. If this is the case, Chris Cocks, is well, insane. Magic has attempted this numerous times, over the years, with mixed results. However, it's two most successful, Magic Online, and Magic Shandalar, are easily it's most well remembered, and it's most successful.

 In 1996/97 Akklaim released a short lived (and very rare) MtG coin-op game called Armaggedon, and a realtime strategy game called Battlemage for the Saturn/PsOne/and PC. The PC is the most well regarded, being able to support up to four players via LAN, and being able to use hotkeys that weren't available to the console version.

While it's game play was rather poor, it's famous for it's pre-revisionist lore. It's solo-player mode tells the events of the Planeswalker War, and for this, it has a soft spot in many players. Plus a wicked magazine ad. This would not be the last Magic RTS.

Sacrifice cow on upkeep.
From between this and 2002, Magic would get a number of video games. A game similar to early MTGO was released in Japan as an exclusive for the Dreamcast, Magic Interactive Encyclopedia had an deck builder/game tester mode, and for the X-Box, Magic's strangest video game, Battlegrounds was released on the XBOX.

However, all of these are small fries compared to Magic:$ the Gathering: Online. (MTG). Magic online's history is a sordid mess of strange blunders, unusual decisions, and playing Cube.

Magic: the Gathering: Online is a sordid, confusing mess, but I do know in certain detail how it started. In 1999, a small game stupid named Leaping Lizards Software approached WotC, wanting to make an online game for MtG. Wizards was intrigued, and after a single weekend, a small alpha product of four cards was made. Originally called Magic Online with Digital Objects (which is where MODO came from), the game went public in June 2002, and automatically with skepticism.

Leaping Lizard Software

It's hard to imagine in the day of micro-transactions, that there was a time when the idea of buying digital objects with real world money was met with skepticism. However, not only were you buying digital product with real money, you were buying it at the same price!.

There argument in all fairness, was that they were going to use this price to maintain the servers, as well as to not undercut the physical game. Which is actually fairly noble of them. Then Hubris struck!

One of the first things they did, was 'phase out' Leaping Lizards, and instead went to in house developers.

There is an entire history of mistakes and greivances about MTG online: but I will leave a few basics:

  • You own nothing on MTGO. It's in their terms of service. I could be banned until the next millenia, WotC couldn't keep me from playing with my cards. Most famous of this is none other then the Zack Jesse case, which since I'm avoiding politics, I won't get into.
  • It's system is buggy. Brian Kibler once lost a major event due to a crash glitch in the system.
  • It has come to no surprise, that WotC for sometime designed cards not on how well they play IRL, but how well they play (or to code) on MTGO. The most recent and famous incident is Assassin Trophy, which MaRo said they now design cards with 'opponent controls' so you don't accidentlly click your own card by mistake. Another one was a change on how a recently printed Planeswalker was printed named 'Teferi, Hero of Dominaria'. The word 'may' was added to his first ability, rendering any argument on drawback, simply because online (and arena) players wanted it.

However, despite all of this, Magic: the Gathering Online (MTGO) was and is extremely successful. Somehow, despite numerous crashes, long delays of lag, and several unofficial programs, Magic online was a huge success! Some could argue it was too successful.

This led into a number of other attempts at interactive Magic media.

The second most successful of these was a series of console games called 'Duels of the Planeswalkers'.

In it, you'd play against AI, win packs, and could soft customize decks to your preference. In addition, DLC Expansion packs allowed more cards and decks to be thrown into the fray. It even came with a mail in code to get one of three planeswalker promo cards. It was a success, so much so that the decks in the the 2009 version got real world counterparts, which could be bought at chain stores like Barnes and Nobles, as well as several sequals (2009, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015). This easy to pick up and play game made it perfect to access the basics of the game, and combined this with the recently announced modern format, made for an amazingly advertisement for the core game. The player based surged, LGS's were popping up all over the place. One local store owner who ran a business before this even said 'When  I opened I had two competitors, and one was a sports card store, now I have seven, how am I to compete?'. In risk of anidoctle evidence, I remember going to the Return to Ravnica pre-release. There wasn't even a place to sit for some. My store wasn't the only store like this in the area, and I imagine it was like that in other area's as well.

While Magic at this point was 20 years old, this, was a bubble, a fad, even a blessing, if WotC acknowledge it as such. However that might not be a wise move financially speaking.

At this time, WotC decided to go another route with this, a TBS game called Magic Tactics. Promo cards with codes for promo units came in packs (randomly), and while I downloaded the game, for one reason or another I couldn't play it. Being released in early 2011 (2012 for Steam), the game used digital assets for content, once again costing real world money. In just three years, the game was closed, on March 28 2014.
Here it is, so it may never be memory holed.

However, this flash in the pan failure wasn't a big deal, because Duals of the Planeswalker still was selling well, and the player base was still growing. Pre-releases were still going well, and even becoming flashier, and while the official forums may have closed so people could only talk through WotC through social media platforms, the game was going well.

However, people noticed something. I mentioned in the last part of this, NWO. Cards were getting simplier, and to boot, card quality was slowly going down hill. There was also a more and more focus on the Planeswalker card type. However, their were two other things going on in paper magic, that would make a digital card market make more sense.

Many of us made some stupid rules or variations of the game to spice things up. Fan formats are as old as Magic, with some classics including Highlander (only one unique name for each card allowed), Kangaroo Court (AD&D rules flexability meets MTG), Tower of Power, and so forth. One of these formats, played casually in judge circles, was called Elder Dragon Highlander. Combining the popularity of the Highlander format, with the rule building guides of the little known format Elder Dragon Wars, it was a challenging, and entertaining way to use unwanted and spare cards you found in your collection, all matching the color of a selected legend (originally called a General, and later changed to a Commander).

In the 2000's it slowly, but steadily picked up steam, and by 2011, had caught the eye of WotC, who made it an official format. Complete with preconstructed decks, it just happened to be released at the same time as the Magic boom, and thus, many people who would have otherwise gotten into casual 60 card, came to associate EDH with 'casual magic', and 60 card as 'competitive Magic'. Now you had a beloved format, as with anything, decks got better, and as such, certain reserve list cards became sought after, doubling their prices over night. Enter the Shark.

Sharks have always been around, resellers, hoarders, however, this became something else entirely, thanks to the easy access of the Internet, and the advent of Smartphones, it became a major commodity to go into a store and buy out certain cards, just to sell them at an inflated price at a later time. I won't say names, but thanks to the RL, this has gotten absurd, and has created another bubble in MTG, the price bubble. Even modern has had an issue, with prices fluxuation unpredictably. It's nearly killed the concept of trading cardboard for cardboard because people have become uncertain of a cards estimated value. While WotC has released numerous 'products' to reduce card prices a bit, it's more of lighting a match, than flushing the toilet. WotC hands seem to either be tied or busy.

The other is the cardboard itself, which is one of the complaints, with cards coming out warped, de-colored, or even miscut at an alarming gradual fashion. Overheard at the pre-release for Return to Return to Ravnica, was the simple comment 'why are all my cards bent?'.These two issues make for a good argument for digital printing of cards.

However, back to the topic at hand. This covers the first half of the last decade, as mobile gaming became popular, so does the sense that Magic should have a mobile counterpart. Enter 'Magic Duels'.

Magic Duels was the successor to Duels of the Planeswalker, instead of their being multiple releases, one every year, this would use a update system, so no need to continually release the game to support new releases. Released in 2015, it lasted two years, officially ending updates (but not support) in June of 2017. This is an interesting note. It's still online, still available for sale, and still with a market you can buy digital assets from, with no warning to the consumers itself. More than a few have picked it up after June 2017, just to find it's no longer supported, sometimes after the fact they spent money on it (with no refund). So why, after two years, was this abandoned. I mean, even tactics made it three.


The bane of WotC

I have never played HearthStone: Heroes of Warcraft., my knowledge of it is relatively limited, but I know it's a digital only card game that took the world by storm in 2014. It has unlockables, but can also be 'paid to win', it has bright graphical interfaces and battles. I also know it's been called a Magic Clone, as well as a Magic predecessor. The argument being it's a game, since it's designed with digital in mind, works as a digital game. Now MTGO might be the first digital card game, but it's certainly not the last, and with physical limitation, their has been some strife about MTGO and cardboard Magic. Most notably effects like Scrambleverse and Grip of Chaos, which work (and even excel) on a digital medium become somewhat tedious in analog. This is similar to the Dreamcast and MicroProse games having exclusive 'randomly determined' effects.

Now, WotC isn't a stranger to competing online games. In 2014 they sued Cryptozoic over their digital TCG Hex: the shards of fate. The outcome concluded that Cryptozoic couldn't have any avatar start with 20 life, it's 'black cards' had to become a purple-black color, some art was changed, and a card named 'murder' was renamed. Around this time, WotC also killed a fan project for free online MtG called 'Cockatrice'. I sadly know little about this though.

Legend has this card was made as a celebration for winning against Cockatrice.

Then enter Arena. I will first let this video explain everything you need to know:

Magic Arena is a TCG designed similar in function to Hearthstone. It could be, in theory, called a Hearthstone clone even. However, that's not a terrible thing in it's own right, if it was separate. The problem is it's going along side not one, but two different platforms for M:tG, which means one needs to go.

On one hand, you have cardboard, which comes with a lot of overhead. If WotC stopped supporting cardboard in the next year (I suspect they will end the Bolas arc first), it's side effects on the market as a whole is literally unpredictable, but the game would eventually wither off.

On the other hand, you have MTGO, something that has been around for almost two decades. Some people have thrown in a small fortune into this platform, truly believing it to be the future of Magic.I understand it's been almost two decades, but these players have been supporting WotC, and WotC will just close it's servers, which I can only feel a little bit of pride in 'I told you so'.

The third and final thing is these three platforms will coexist, unable to make it big, because resources competing for each other will keep one from reaching it's full potential.

Now, finally, is the design. Cards currently are being designed, not for paper Magic, but Arena. While many who read my blog don't play outside of 93-95, there has been a growing trend of 'an opponent controls' on cards.

While I couldn't find this screen cap, it says here that Assassins trophy was designed so that you couldn't accidently click your own cards and destroy them by mistake. Similarly, Teferi received an errata because his EoT trigger required occasionally to untap opponents lands.

"It prevents you from accidentally destroyed your own permanents in digital."--Mark Rosewater

This guy now has 'up to' and his middle ability has been discussed to having the word 'another'.
Now Arena won't be played best out of three, but one game, for events, and cards have been designed to be more... modular, if you will, in design. Cards with two niche options at the same time, so you don't have to be stuck choosing it.

"I’m not likely to win, since I can’t meaningfully deal with it."--Joel "I scoop on turn two" Larsson

"I think so. The upsides trump the downsides. The great thing with Arena and best-of-ones comes down to one major advantage: accessibility. Games on Arena are smoother, faster, and only having to play best-of-one means that I don’t have to be so enfranchised into playing Magic for a long time every time I feel like playing. It also means that you get the urge to play just one more game when you barely have the time. And another one. And another one. An enormous barrier has been lifted. Make Standard what it has always meant to be. Accessible."--Joel Larsson, Best-of-one standard is the Future....

"I was really, really hoping that the pro community would be using their influence to push back against this unwelcome (to those of us that have kept this game funded and alive in the pre-Arena era) change, but instead we are getting an increasing number of articles like this one legitimizing this direction. I've seen articles like this from Brad Nelson, Todd Anderson and others in the last few weeks alone. This article is the most directly advocating for the change.
Frankly, it is beginning to feel like a coordinated effort to wear down the experienced player base and get them to accept this narrative as inevitable, so when it happens the protest will be muted. It's disappointing, man. You know for some us, BO3 magic isn't accessible through modern because that format is absurdly expensive. Standard is what we have.
I'm consistently seeing this appeal to accessibility. You know what? BO1 can exist for the person who wants to screw around in line at the grocery store. Why does the competitive mode, which should demand your complete concentration, be bent this hard for a casual audience? That's not what competitive, by it's very nature, is.
If you actually believe this is a good idea and aren't promoting some agenda I apologize, but please stop creating content that actively encourages Wizards to consider it. A lot of us who have been here, keeping the lights on, really don't want this and if they're going to do it anyway, they certainly don't need help doing so."--Anonymous

This is both extremely short sighted of them, since Arena's success isn't even proven yet. However, it should be noted that Arena has no intention of releasing older cards, and it's a 'ground zero' and forward for Magic. It doesn't hurt WotC has also relaunched a comic line (fourth time this has happened), has two mtg puzzle games using phone apps, as well as a planned MOBA and MMO coming out sometime within the next year. This overexpansion combined with the number of supplement products being released doesn't paint a good picture of MtG and it's direction. If I were you, I'd sell my MODO content, maybe even my cardboard content too, but I haven't yet, so I shouldn't talk.

Thank you so much for reading my articles. It's been a long series, and I'm glad I've written them, and gotten these grievances of my chest. Some aren't the best written articles, and some aren't the most cohesive, but they are my opinions and they are what they are. Thank you most of all Old School Community, without you, I wouldn't of even found the passion to start this. I promise sin 6 part 3 will be out eventually, and I'll have some 'old fashioned' card reviews here shortly, along with some theories and my winter derby deck. (History of Leaping Lizards and their involvement with MTGO 1.0)

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Year One: A retrospective

It's been one year since I've decided to make a part time side project about OS MtG. While I had thrown the idea around before this, this time I decided to do this, and to much fan-fare. Numerous people on the Reddit, as well as in the various old school groups have encouraged me to go on, writing more card reviews, and talking about jank I have fond memories of. I've also gotten a lot of feed back from my series 'The Several Deadly sins of WotC', for better or worse.

I thank all of you for your words of encouragement. Now to the stats.

My most viewed article (card review): Uncle Istvan (Uncle Istvan: When is popularity worth being weird?), which I remember someone arguing that I oversold his popularity, and someone else saying they now hate Aaron Forscythe because of his opinion on the card.

Least viewed article (card review): Weakness (Weakness: the other 1 mana black aura). With just shy over 80 unique views, it's easily the least popular review I've done. It's also one of the least talked about, with it garnering no discussion on the Reddit or in OS Groups.

Most viewed article (7 Sins): Actually the 6th sin part 1: Art and lore. Closely followed by Power Creep and Losing one's Identity.

Ironically, the least viewed article is 'The Fifth Sin: The Jacetice league'. Perhaps that shouldn't of been a sin in on itself, since I covered a number of things I disliked about them in another post. (if you exclude the intro post).

Most viewed article (other): (Replacing Juzam, how do the other's add up?), easily my most viewed article, and the only one to reach over a thousand views. It also got the most fan fare and discussion, with numerous discussions taking place over the article and it validity.

Least viewed article (other):  While my short article about Mirage is pretty low, my theoretic on an old school expansion has garnered less then 50 views, making it the least red article on the entire blog.

My most controversial article: (The 6th Sin, the degrading and 'casualization' of MtG (Part 1: art and flavor)). Easily my most controversial article, which featured an infamous header. The article had gotten me banned from Magic 4 Good, which wasn't even read by the person who did it, and came with numerous discussion from people who didn't pass the header. Those that did, however, said the article was well written, and made some good arguments, so remember, never judge a book by its cover.

So what should you expect in the next year, loyal reader? I have more card reviews planned (an article about Giant Strength compared to other enchant creature spells, and an article about Goblin Flotalla have been sitting in development hell forever), I plan on finishing Seven Deadly Sins by the end of Febuary (the article on tournaments has been rather difficult to finish), inspired by the popularity of Juzam, I plan on making an article about replacing Erhnam, and Jaydmae Tome respectably, and finally, a series about Mechanics. Of coarse! More card reviews!

Thank you for the wonderful year!