Welcome Back! Dragonstorm Edition

January 19, 2010

Well hello! It’s been a while, no? Holidays of all sorts, moving into my new house, and all sorts of other “serious business” (read: World of Warcraft) has been getting all up in the way, but now I’m back. Since the Extended PTQ season is in full swing now, we’ll talk about it a bit this week. So today I’ll talk about a deck near and dear to my heart (even though it might not win any tournaments for you… though Extended can be pretty random) and on Thursday I’ll be doing my first Extended MTGO Analysis. Apologies if this seems a little disjointed, but I’m still kicking the rust out of the brain-gears.

Anyway, on to the deck!

Storming with Dragons

Yes, really. Dragonstorm has been a much-maligned archetype of late, passed over for flashier combos like Dark Depths and Hypergenesis. But, as with Tooth and Nail, Dragonstorm is still a powerful strategy. It may not have the thunder of 20/20 indestructible flyer, or the goofiness of dropping four fatties into play with relevant abilities (wait…), but it boasts a possible turn one kill, a resilient combo in the face of control, and has the ability to, as a last resort, actually cast its win-conditions. I’ll start by discussing a fairly representative current list, as well as Makahito Mihara’s Worlds-winning list, and then I’ll get into some of those claims I just made.

Dragonstorm by freakflag
MTGO Extended

Maindeck Sideboard

Land
1 Breeding Pool
2 Dreadship Reef
6 Island
2 Misty Rainforest
1 Mountain
4 Scalding Tarn
4 Steam Vents
1 Watery Grave

Creatures
4 Hellkite Overlord

Spells
4 Dragonstorm
1 Gigadrowse
4 Lotus Bloom
2 Magma Jet
4 Peer Through Depths
4 Ponder
4 Remand
2 Repeal
4 Rite of Flame
4 Seething Song
2 Serum Visions


2 Ancient Grudge
3 Firespout
2 Pact of Negation
3 Ravenous Trap
2 Repeal
3 Spell Pierce

Compared to the original list:

Dragonstorm by Makahito Mihara
Worlds 2006 Standard

Maindeck Sideboard

Land
1 Calciform Pools
1 Dreadship Reef
8 Island
4 Mountain
4 Shivan Reef
4 Steam Vents

Creatures
4 Bogardan Hellkite
2 Hunted Dragon

Spells
4 Dragonstorm
4 Gigadrowse
4 Lotus Bloom
4 Remand
4 Rite of Flame
4 Seething Song
4 Sleight of Hand
4 Telling Time


1 Calciform Pools
2 Dreadship Reef
3 Ignorant Bliss
3 Pyroclasm
4 Repeal
1 Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
1 Trickbind

Now, the MTGO list has made some obvious changes from the original list, running Hellkite Overlords over Bogarden Hellokitties. Further, Ponder is included in the list, as it is strictly superior to Sleight of Hand. The Zendikar fetches make their appearance as well—unsurprising, really, due to the whole “blue-red” thing the deck has going. freakflag’s list is fairly representative of the current D-storm lists, but therein lies the problem. Mihara’s list was an ungodly monstrosity that flourished even in the face of a Mystical Teachings format. The newer lists seem to be working too hard to combat the varied metagame that Extended has, and so end up with a much-diluted version of the deck.

In a way, the new decks are “pre-sideboarded” with singleton-like cards that are good in some matchups but not others, and they bank on somehow digging to those silver bullets in game one. Magma Jet is for Gaddock Teeg. Serum Visions is for digging to those silver bullets. Most decks I’ve seen run one or two Gigadrowse, which is maybe correct for the control matchups. (It’s certainly debatable… in Mihara’s metagame, Teachings was the control deck to beat, and it was everywhere. Now it’s Faeries and/or Tezzerator, and your likelihood of hitting those matchups is much smaller… but a blowout loss if you do with only one Gigadrowse in your deck.) All in all, the new lists seem to want to have prior knowledge of the opponent’s deck in order to play their best. Without that… game one is a crap shoot.

So I suggest a list closer to Mihara’s original list, only adding obviously superior cards:

Dragonstorm by Rick Cummings
Extended

Maindeck Sideboard

Land
1 Calciform Pools
1 Dreadship Reef
5 Island
1 Mountain
4 Shivan Reef
4 Steam Vents
4 Scalding Tarn
1 Hallowed Fountain
1 Stomping Ground

Creatures
4 Bogardan Hellkite
1 Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund

Spells
4 Dragonstorm
3 Gigadrowse
4 Lotus Bloom
4 Remand
4 Rite of Flame
4 Seething Song
4 Ponder
4 Telling Time
2 Pyroclasm


1 Calciform Pools
2 Dreadship Reef
3 Silence
2 Ancient Grudge
3 Repeal
2 Pact of Negation
1 Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
1 Trickbind

Now, this goes against my “no four-card changes of existing lists” motto, but Dragonstorm is currently more “casual” and/or “rogue” than “serious contender,” so I feel a little less bad about posting this list. In the end, though, I feel like most of the new changes to the list are, at best, treading water. While some of them make sense, others are just confusing. Running fewer lands but more draw seems counter-intuitive to me, when the deck sort of needs land. Scry is a powerful mechanic, but is it enough to counteract the loss of lands in the deck? In any case, I can’t say that the changes necessarily make the deck better, more resilient, or faster, so there’s really no reason, in my mind, to change up an already good thing.

Certainly there are other ways to take the deck; you could splash black and run a more proactive Duress/Thoughtseize package and perhaps run Kokusho, the Evening Star to run a non-preventable life-loss[*] angle, for example.

SWOT

Dragonstorm as an archetype, regardless of build, is a pretty standard strategy, so we can still look at how the deck is positioned, even if you disagree with my particular choices.[**] We’ll use the Mike Flores-approved SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis. I’ll talk about some individual choices, as well.

Strengths:
Dragonstorm is the only turn-one kill in Extended. Yes, Hypergenesis can “basically” win on turn one, but if you want someone dead with a combo deck, you want them dead now. Going Mountain, Rite, Rite, Rite, Song, Song, Dragonstorm seems pretty insane, but I’ve done it with the deck, and so have dozens of other people. Outside of that (or a similar) hand, it has a very consistent turn-four kill. Most of the other decks. In the format clock in around turn four, but Dstorm is just consistent. If the deck hits turn six or seven, you’ve pretty much lost, unless you’re building up charge lands for a giant Gigadrowse in a control matchup. Which is not an out that, say, Hypergenesis has. But with a set of Hellkites and the Tyrant, you’re assured of a kill even with a storm of three, and perhaps even two if your opponent starts at 17 thanks to fetch-shockland-go.

Weaknesses:
Being a combo deck, Dragonstorm has obvious weaknesses to discard and counterspells. Mihara’s list ran Ignorant Bliss to combat the discard, and the card is still a viable option. However, the quality of discard is much better in Extended than it was in Standard. Both Thoughtseize and Duress are pretty terrible for Dragonstorm to face, and are a full turn faster than Ignorant Bliss. Unfortunately, many of the control decks are running black for the possibility of that turn-one discard, and that’s a huge liability for Dstorm.

Opportunities:
The lack of specific storm hate is a huge opportunity for the deck. This applies to any storm deck, such as Aussie Storm (the Perilous Research-Hatching Plans-Pyromancer’s Swatch deck) and Mono-Red Dragonstorm. Furthermore, the lack of a memory the Magic community at large has may be enough to let you sneak some wins in through people who aren’t familiar with the deck. Much like TEPS was last year, and Affinity is always, storm loves an environment in which nobody is prepared for it. If you do your playtesting homework, you’ll show up with a much better advantage than your opponent. However, if Trickbind and Mindbreak Trap see an increase in play, be ready to switch some numbers up in the sideboard to combat them.

Threats:
Many, many lists present problems for Dragonstorm. The first is rival combo deck Dark Depths. The problem with Depths is that it’s more of a control deck with a combo finish… that can also combo on turn two. It presents Thoughtseize, Chalice of the Void, Engineered Explosives, and Muddle the Mixture all as spanners in your works. These are all very bad. Thopter Foundry/Tezzerator is also a control deck with a combo win, so it’s probably smart to be careful there as well. Zoo presents a interesting problem with Gaddock Teeg, hence the inclusion of mainboard Pyroclasm. If Teeg hits the board, the game suddenly becomes unwinnable for you unless you start piling out Hellkites for full retail. Which is a bad deal for you, because it probably means you’re going to die. Especially if they’re playing Baneslayer Angels, which conveniently have Protection from Your Deck.

As with most of the decks I suggest, this one isn’t going to break the format. It will probably give you a winning record, though, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a properly-built, well-positioned Dragonstorm deck take home a blue envelope this season. It’s Extended, after all, and aside from Dredge two years ago, it’s not going to have a deck that’s all that dominating win for a while. The format is just too open for one deck to win everything all the time. As I’ve been saying for a long time, playing what you know is probably more important than playing The Best Deck in a metagame as open as Extended. (Of course, if you know The Best Deck better than anything else, by all means, play that.) All I’m doing is letting you know that there’s still this other really good deck out there.

Of course, the last time I played a “proven” deck that was a little outdated was Sonic Boom… about four months after it was a well-positioned deck. (For those wondering, that was my celebration for picking up about 40 points in DCI rating to hop back above 1600… play a terrible deck and lose them all again. Hey, if I was playing to win, I wouldn’t be building things like Mono-Red One-Drops, now would I?)

Anyway, there you go. Welcome back to Scrubbin’ in Fort Wayne, and thanks for reading.

[*]That is, when two Kokushos are in play, the legendary rule kicks them both to the graveyard, which makes your opponent lose ten life (five each) and you gain ten life. With a Dragonstorm for four, you get all four Kokushos and can drain your opponent for 20, and they can’t prevent with a Circle of Protection or something because it’s life loss and not damage. Obviously, this means you need all four Kokushos in your library, which is a bit of a problem, even with Ponder and Telling Time.

[**]Honestly, I don’t know how hot I am on this build. It’s certainly not the best, and the sideboard is questionable. But I’m really sort of thinking out loud here, rather than presenting you a deck that I know is a winner. Even though I know it’s a winner. Three years ago. …this is awkward.

Whoa, Jeez, 2010?!

January 4, 2010

The calendar year has caught up to Magic’s base set.

In other news, we have a new house. Hence the lack of updates.

I should be back up to the regular update schedule either later this week or early next week. Still unpacking and all that. And I didn’t get internet until… an hour and a half ago. So… yeah.

Here’s to 2010, and here’s to a new house.

Thanks for reading, and let’s make this year kick ass, yes?

Some Comments on the State of MTGO (no analysis this week)

December 17, 2009

And we come to another week in which Rick doesn’t do his homework. Remember last week when I said I’d start talking about Extended events on MTGO? Turns out they don’t fire anymore. Like, ever. Combine that with an interesting smattering of words about MTGO this week from other writers, and we get the idea that maybe MTGO is really isn’t the analogue for paper Magic that people are hoping for. Not exactly the wild-and-woolly world where anything goes in all things casual and competitive.

The first article I direct you to is Peter Jahn’s article at Star City Games, The Exodus Online Release Non-Events. This one is a free side article, so you should have no problems reading it. The basic premise that older sets are pretty much DOA nowadays.

The second is Jeremy Fuentes’s article at ChannelFireball, Dear MTGO. Jeremy bemoans the lack of Extended play online.

The unsaid, but mildly implied, part of both articles is that non-Standard, non-current formats are pretty much non-starters for MTGO. The events rarely fire, the cards and packs for them hardly sell, and the following rarity of the cards make the prices so exorbitant that it’s likely that the formats will die from stagflation.

There are a few reasons to this that these two fine gents bring up. First, Jahn mentions Wizards’s release policy. Older sets are available to an initial rush of prerelease-release-circulation. After a limited amount of time, the sets disappear completely, perhaps to be resurrected in a sealed block tournament three years later. Furthermore, he mentions relatively few of the cards in older formats are actually powerful enough to warrant widespread purchasing/drafting, etc. Which I can agree with. I’m sure most of the reasoning behind Master’s Edition is that most older cards (say, pre-Mirage, or pre-block design) are really badly built. And very few of the older cards see a lot of play anymore. Peter called out about a dozen cards in the whole of the Tempest block (of which Exodus is the third set) that actually see play in various formats these days. There is little incentive to play or buy older packs when most of the cards you get are useless past the event you’re playing in. Peter’s article is much more in-depth than this description, so I suggest, again, that you go read his.

Second, we have Fuentes’s article. Extended is in bad shape online. Jeremy points most of this toward the EV (or expected value… sort of like cost/benefit analysis) of Extended tournaments. The prize payouts don’t really justify the investment. That is, in a nutshell, Jeremy’s article. But go read it anyway.

I’d like to present a third and fourth explanation to these.

The MTGO world is, at its most competitive levels, a world build entirely on advantage. The regular money-spenders online are the ones that stand the most to gain from a continued investment. And the easiest way to make that gain is through Standard play, or the current limited format. Once Standard moves toward rotation, very few players (especially those with limited budgets) hang on to their cards from the outgoing expansion as they immediately lose playability value in Standard, and the loss from hanging onto them is compounded with the loss of buying into a new format. That is to say, most players looking to profit from MTGO, or “go infinite” aren’t trying to build a collection, necessarily, but to make sound business decisions. While the casual side of MTGO certainly exists, the competitive market is roundly based on Standard. This is very related to Jahn’s article; a format without an impact on the most popular format will likely die out due to disinterest.

My other point is that, sniping aside, nobody cares about Extended in the larger MTGO community. A cursory look at the MTGO boards will show you that. Communities have built up around Pauper, 100-card Singleton/Commander (basically EDH), and Classic, but Extended gets no love unless it’s PTQ season. And even then, it’s pretty difficult for people to get excited about the format. How many writers consistently write about Extended? How often, outside of PTQ season and immediately preceding Extended Pro Tours, does anyone start working on the format? Pretty much never.

Related to this is the sheer ignorance of players toward the game. I’m not going to get all old man on you here, and tell you that things were better back in my day, but we have kids playing the game now that don’t know the cards had old frames. (Seriously. I played a Tempest version of Mogg Fanatic once and had to explain the frame change to someone.) Some of them are unaware of things like Ancestral Recall, let alone Urza lands or Mana Leak. The thing about Extended is that it’s becoming more like an Eternal format than a rotational one. That is, it is a curiosity, something people talk about but rarely play because they’re ignorant of the format. Look at the push toward Legacy lately. Star City Games has been instrumental in pushing this format forward, as well as actual support from WotC in the form of Grands Prix.[*]

So what are the answers to these problems? I don’t know. I have a few suggestions, though.

First, cultivate a feeling of history in the game. And not just for people, for players. I will admit modern Magic is very loosely based on older Magic, but Ravnica was a scant four years ago. When I talk about Ravnica-Time Spiral-9th Edition Standard, I get blank stares. By working to remind new players of where we’ve come from, maybe we can get them excited about less immediate formats than Standard. The next block to leave Extended will be Mirrodin. Is that so long ago? Why, then, is Extended so hard for people to acknowledge as newer format than Legacy? Is it because the format is “figured out” so quickly, and stays relatively static thereafter? Should that be the case in a format with something like 4000 cards?[**] Legacy is still moving and shaking, after all.

Second, put a more equal emphasis on all formats. Sure, Standard and limited are the big money-makers, but they also have FNM, weekly drafts, and weekend tournaments locked up all over. It might be a little chicken/egg, but maybe the reason some relatively accessible formats are dying is because they don’t get any support anyway. Some good, hearty cheerleading is necessary to drum up support for things. Magic’s momentum keeps Standard afloat, but you have to fight if you want old formats to exist. If you want to play Extended, play it. Get your friends to play it.

Third, consider that EV may not be everything. This ties into my second answer above: if you like a format, play it. Don’t worry that your six tix are going to five tix worth of prize support. You’re probably not going to win the thing anyway (statistically speaking), so if you’re out six tickets playing a format you enjoy (Extended) versus one you’re already bored with (Standard), then what are you out besides time and six tickets? At least do what you enjoy.

Finally, and this is sort of what Peter implies but doesn’t necessarily say, is for Wizards to make cards for older formats available for a longer period. Most sets are available for their duration in Standard, but older sets like Master’s Edition III and Exodus have a much shorter shelf life for little reason. Does it put a strain on the servers to keep older sets available, or is Wizards attempting to create an artificial shortage of cards? Is it a perceived rarity, like Disney’s “movie vault” for older DVDs? What, really, is preventing them from keeping cards accessible?[***]

Of course, these answers are only suggestions. There may very well be other answers that work, like Jeremy Fuentes’s suggestion of making Extended tournaments pay out better, or the commenters on Peter Jahn’s article suggesting other incentives like participation foils. Are these the answer? Possibly. There’s also the possibility that some or all of these things should be done simultaneously. Sort of like a stimulus package for Magic Online.

Post-Script

I got my Momir Vig Vanguard card for MTGO yesterday. There is much rejoicing. I’ll hopefully be talking a bit about Momir BASIC in the near future… including the upcoming Premier Event!

[*]It’s worth mentioning that next year’s Grand Prix schedule breaks down as follows:
Limited: 8
Standard: 5
Extended: 3
Legacy: 2

Pro Tour next year has one Standard, one Block Constructed, and one Extended tournament. And Worlds generally has Standard and Extended in individual rounds, and Standard, Extended, and Legacy in team rounds. That seems like a lot of Extended, but with five total events for Extended versus seven Standard and twelve limited (remember, each Pro Tour is a split constructed/limited event), there isn’t that much going on for it. Compound that with States, Regionals and Nationals, and the SCG $5k series all being Standard, and the SCG Legacy series making its debut this year, there’s little hope for Extended in organized play.

[**]Rough guesstimate. I’m not adding up those sets right now.

[***]One possibility: the only form of currency on MTGO is tickets. By restricting the commonality of certain cards, they can ensure high prices on the secondary market, and thereby increase the sales of tickets with which to purchase them. This is highly conspiratorial, but also possible. Unlikely, but it’s fun to pretend.

The December 10th MTGO Metagame Report, States, and Jund

December 10, 2009

Apologies for missing a non-metagame article this week. I don’t really have anything new to report in deckbuilding, and I’m still procrastinating on the Commons Cube rebuild.

MTGO vs. States

Deck Number
Jund (214 of 493)
RDW (48 of 493)
Boros (39 of 493)
White (23 of 493)
Vampires (23 of 493)
Harrow (16 of 493)
Junk (15 of 493)
Naya Lightsaber (15 of 493)
Jacerator (13 of 493)
Grixis Control (13 of 493)
Unearth (10 of 493)
Bant (8 of 493)
UW Control (8 of 493)
Spread Em (7 of 493)
Nissa (7 of 493)
GW Midrange (6 of 493)
Other (28 of 493)

You can compare this to the States metagame (so far) at Star City Games. It’s worth noting that I’ve posted the MTGO metagame around States, not because of it. It’s also probably worth noting that I lumped all of the white decks together, because the difference between Mono White Control, Mono White Tokens, and White Weenie (and White Weenie-splash blue) is very slight. Were I to split them up, Vampires would easily be the number four deck on the MTGO list.

Now, the difficult part of comparing the MTGO metagame and the States metagame is that we get a vastly larger number of decks, and not just decks that made Top 8, but decks that also “virtually” Top 8, by going 3-1 or 4-0, but miss on tiebreakers. None o’ that with States: just Top 8. So if Vampires made a run for it at States (as I predicted), and then didn’t convert to Top 8 much, we really have no way of knowing. As it is, between the two metagames, there is only a slight difference in raw totals. Jund and RDW are much larger presences online, while most other decks have the advantage in real life. But most of these differences are in the realm of a single percentage point. One could probably argue, then, that Magic Online’s metagame is probably fairly comparible to paper’s metagame at large. The problem is that MTGO is a terrible indicator of individual metagames (and so are Pro Tour results.)

For instance, take a look a North Dakota States, played in Fargo, ND:

TurboFog
Emeria Aggro
Emeria Aggro
TurboFog
Jund
Jund
Naya Lightsaber
Emeria Aggro

Compare that to South Dakota, played in Sioux Falls, SD:

Naya Lightsaber
Boros Bushwhacker
Jund
Jund
TurboFog
Spread Em
RDW
Naya Lightsaber

Compared to Indiana, in Indianapolis:

Jund
Jund
Bant
Jund
Naya Lightsaber
Jund
Vampires
Jund

The first two are seperated by about 245 miles of nothingness (apologies to Wahpeton, Sisseton, Watertown, Brookings, and cities in between). Indy is about 800 miles from either. I could present more examples, but just these three should be plenty to illustrate my point. That is, all this statsitcal analysis is worth bupkis is you don’t do your local homework.

Sadly, not one (not one) deck, out of nearly 500, was a new, original design. With the exception of a Jund deck that swapped out Broodmate Dragons for Sedraxis Specters (chew on that for a while) there wasn’t a single deck that we haven’t seen in the past two months. Does this mean Standard has now run its course and is a “dead” format? Possibly. Since the Extended PTQ season is picking up soon, this will be then end of my Standard breakdowns for a few weeks. I’ll still be trolling the lists for interesting new ones, but I’m done with analysis for the format for at least the rest of 2009. We’ll pick up again in 2010.

Jund, the Tier 2 Metagame, and Set Sizes

Another quick point I’d like to make is that Jund is at least on par with Faeries dominance from last year. Yet attendance is way, way up. Fargo had 64 players this year (I’m told), whereas last year was 39. I’m interested to know if approximately 50% higher attendance is a trend for all tournaments this year. I’m also interested to learn how genuine the threats from Faeries haters were when they screamed they’d quit if something wasn’t done about the Faerie Menace. I’m also curious how true the “Affinity killed Magic” argument was. Is Magic’s current popularity due to the playability and depth of the metagame, or is it due to the new marketing push for acquisition? Is Magic’s “old guard” of “I swear to God I’ll quit if this keeps up!” that outnumbered by new people, or are the whiners just whining? It’s interesting to ponder a little. In my own experience, I threw a pretty major hissy during the M10 rules change, but I also included the provision that I’d stick with it if the game continued to be interesting. Which, so far, it is.

I don’t really have a problem with one deck dominating for a while. Dragonstorm, Faeries, Demigod Red, and so on. Sure, it’s boring to write about, but playing the game, I could really care less. Maybe I don’t play enough to be annoyed by it, but as far as I’m concerned, it happens. Either you bitch about it and quit, you bitch about it and don’t quit (and thus look like a hypocritical whiner), or you accept that the game just does that sometimes, and take it into account when choosing or building a deck and playing in a tournament.

I don’t want to sound harsh here, but every time a deck becomes popular and starts taking over a metagame, this happens. And every time, the complaints are the same. There’s no Combo Winter anymore. This is a natural outcome of conscious decisions by Wizards over the past two years. The two decisions in particular are the “Tier 2 Metagame” and smaller set sizes.

The Tier 2 Metagame is the idea that there need to be fewer top decks, and that all decks should be closer in power level. This began in earnest with Ravnica, with a wide variety of powerful strategies, from control to combo to aggro to midrange. There were a LOT of viable options during Ravnica’s run, though much of that had to do with having really good mana. (Think about how good Faeries and Five-Color/Quick n Toast would have been with the only change being shocklands!)

The liability with the Tier 2 Metagame is that, if all decks are similar in power level, a deck with a slight advantage easily seems dominating. At its core, Jund is a completely fair deck. It doesn’t blow up your mana, it doesn’t counter your cards, it doesn’t combo out on turn four and win the game on the spot. It just plays dudes, kills your dudes, and attacks. Sure, a Blightning (or a really good cascade from Blast to Bloodbraid to Blightning) can be devastating, but without that back of tricks, it’s ultimately a deck that tries to win the creature fight. And it does that pretty well. So when the format is nothing but creature fights, it’s perfectly natural that the one that fights them the best will rise to the top. In short, even in a Tier 2 Metagame, some deck will always be better than the others. The problem is that all the others are similarly underpowered against the “best deck.”

As for smaller set sizes, Ravnica/Time Spiral Standard had 1872 cards from 9th Edition, Rav block, Coldsnap, and Time Spiral block (including Timeshifted).[*] Standard right now has 1037 cards. That’s over 900 fewer cards. If we assume a quarter of those are tournament staples, that’s still a full block’s worth of “good” cards we don’t have access to right now. It may be a little unfair to compare one of the largest formats Magic has ever had to one of its smallest, but there is a reason the format doesn’t seem as diverse as in years past: because it isn’t. Even when Worldwake and Rise of the Eldrazi, we’ll have a whopping 1533 cards in the format. And some of them are bound to be reprints like Cancel (seriously, please give us even Mana Leak) or Oblivion Ring. That’s nearly 450 cards.

So, then, are you really all that surprised Jund is so big? Take heart, though! The Banned/Restricted Announcements are comings soon! Maybe your most hated card will be banned! (But probably not!)

It’s getting to be almost noon, so I should probably put this rotten thing up. I wasn’t really expecting nearly 500 decklists when I woke up this morning.

Post-Script

Am I the only person that finds it hilarious the Spread ‘Em punishes people for not playing blue? “So your Savage Lands is now an Island. Oops! Shoulda been playing blue just like I am! It’s as if blue mages are so miserable that they have to make everyone else miserable with them.

[*]These are Rosewater’s numbers from The Year of Living Changerously. The numbers for the current Standard (and post-Rise) are from the product pages of the individual sets in question.

The December 3rd MTGO Metagame Report

December 3, 2009

So, what should you play for States? Whatever you want. Really. Just be prepared to play against Jund.

Really, that’s pretty much the encapsulation of every article you’ve read this week. Sure, some of them have an extra helping of “Play my deck!” (including mine), but by and large, no one has any insight past what I’ve already said. That can partially be blamed on how late States is this year, sure, but part of it is the nature of the metagame as it stands.

Deck Number
Jund (230 of 484)
RDW (39 of 484)
Boros (37 of 484)
Naya Lightsaber (24 of 484)
White Weenie (23 of 484)
Harrow (16 of 484)
Vampires (13 of 484)
Jacerator (11 of 484)
Sphinx Control (11 of 484)
Bant (10 of 484)
Unearth (9 of 484)
Spread Em (8 of 484)
Grixis Control (8 of 484)
Mono White Control (7 of 484)
Nissa (6 of 484)
Junk (5 of 484)
GW Midrange (4 of 484)
Naya Other (4 of 484)
Magical Xmas (3 of 484)
Other (16 of 484)

New for this week: “Other” now contains decks that have two or fewer copies. I did this partially out of berevity, and partially because a lot of them are random flukes, established decks, or decks I’ll highlight anyway.

Anyway, when I say States will be a symptom of the metagame, I mean that aside from Jund, no deck has more eight percent of the metagame. That’s out of almost two dozen established archetypes. When forty-eight percent of the metagame is one deck (up slightly from last week), the rabble below is pretty well fragmented if nobody is seriously gunning for the leader.

If I were to divide the metagame any further than “Jund vs. everything else” I would, by merit of results, rank decks as follows:

Tier 1: Jund
Tier 2: Red Deck Wins, Boros, Naya Lightsaber, White Weenie
Tier 3: Harrow, Vampires, Jacerator, Sphinx Control
Everything Else

Again, note I said by results and not “in theory.” Honestly, I think we can trust twenty-plus tournaments with 40-plus entrants as being indicative of what decks are “good” by this point. But this data also gives us another neat conclusion: rogue is perfectly alright now. Three percent of the metagame is made up of decks that one or two people won with, out of a total of 484 decks. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean those decks are good, but in general it means that you can do well in the format right now by playing a deck OTHER than the Big One (or Five, or Ten). So seriously, play whatever you want. Just be prepared to play against a lot of Jund.

On Monday, I said there would probably be a pile of Jund and Vampires at States, and I’m still expecting that. Next week I’ll be comparing States results to our recent online metagame, just to see if there’s much of a link between the two, and then I’ll be switching to some other format for our MTGO analysis for a while. There are two main reasons for that. First, it’s getting really difficult to spin “Jund is really good” in a different way each week. Second, it’s getting really boring. I’ll still be monitoring Decks of the Week for new, interesting lists to share, but unless there’s a massive shift in the metagame before Worldwake, I’ll probably be avoiding Standard reporting. At least for a few weeks.

Finally, have a total of one new decklist for you all to look at this week.

Landfall by rainin6
MTGO Standard

Maindeck Sideboard

Land
5 Forest
1 Jungle Shrine
1 Kabira Crossroads
4 Misty Rainforest
1 Mountain
3 Plains
2 Swamp
4 Terramorphic Expanse
4 Verdant Catacombs

Creatures
4 Birds of Paradise
4 Bloodbraid Elf
4 Knight of the Reliquary
4 Lotus Cobra
4 Ob Nixilis, the Fallen
3 Oracle of Mul Daya
4 Realm Razer

Spells
1 Behemoth Sledge
2 Identity Crisis
1 Liliana Vess
4 Path to Exile


1 Behemoth Sledge
4 Great Sable Stag
2 Lavalanche
2 Maelstrom Pulse
2 Mark of Asylum
4 Wall of Reverence

I’ve seen some pretty linear landfall decks, but this one seems to be the most linear one so far. What really caught my eye here was Realm Razer. I can imagine there are some ridiculous plays in the deck. Sadly, I think most of them are in a Magical Christmas Land area—the place, not the deck—which makes me think the deck may be a little inconsistent without a turn three Realm Razer or other ridiculous threat. Part of that inconsistency is what I think might be an over-dependence on Lotus Cobra. Where Magical Christmas Land—the deck, this time—had redundancy and a few other avenues of attack, this deck seems like it needs to have Lotus Cobra, or it just doesn’t get rolling. By the time the Knights come online, I think the deck might be dead.

Of course, maybe I’m wrong, and the sheer power of the deck outweighs its inconsistency. In any case, it’s definitely a fresh list, and I admire the Realm Razer synergy with landfall. I was thinking about tinkering around with a deck focusing on the same synergy, but I’m not sure it would be much better than this one.

And that, as they say, is that. Thanks for reading this week!

Post-Script
Things consumed during this article:
– 1 Bowl of Malt-o-Meal Honey Bunches of Oats knock-off
– 1 12oz glass of Mountain Dew
– 1 Tool – Aenima
– 1 Amanda Palmer – Who Killed Amanda Palmer?
– 2 3/4 hours (partially interrupted by daughter needing breakfast)
– 484 decklists from 26 events

MTGO Trends and a Haterator Deck for States

November 30, 2009

November Trends

I’m going to keep this short and simple, because most of the time my Mondays are for wacky fun decks and discussion, and this topic is decidedly not wacky nor fun. But it IS pretty revealing.

First, apologies that’s so tough to read. The only way the graphic will fit in this template is to be tiny.

Second, it doesn’t really matter that you can’t read it, because it pretty much says that over the course of the month Jund hasn’t been less than forty percent of the metagame, and no other deck has been more than fourteen percent. Furthermore, since the SCG $5K debut of Nissa, no non-Jund deck has been more than nine.

As for methodology, so you know where these numbers come from, I used my past five weeks’ worth of MTGO metagame reporting to pull the performance from week to week. I chose a smattering of the most consistent decks. Some decks, such as Elves, spike for a week and then lie dormant for a couple, then spike again. So what we have here is the most consistent decks from over one hundred events of Top 8 and 4-0/3-1 decks, from late October to just last week. And what do the numbers say?

Jund. Lots of Jund. All the other stuff? Doesn’t really matter. Jund.

Now, it’s not all doom and gloom. Most weeks the metagame is over fifty percent not-Jund. You could feasibly enter any tournament with just about any deck and do well, but you will be likely to hit at least two Jund decks in any five-round-or-higher event. Has it gotten to the point that one can specifically metagame against Jund and sideboard against “the field”? I don’t think it would be unreasonable.

Of course, States/Champs are coming up soon. It’s a widely-held belief that the tournaments are full of aggro and aggro-midrange decks, as they typically perform well in an undefined metagame. However, what we can see is that the metagame is largely defined. What is true is that States typically has a larger casual-style crowd, so I’d expect an uptick in Vampires decks for the tournament. So I would expect that a deck ready to deal with black decks, while still being capable of dealing with aggro onslaughts[*] should do well. Most of that aggro will, statistically, include the colors green and/or red, or come in the form of a mass of soldier tokens.

Brainstorming

So what would I bring, were I to play in States? (I’m not going this year. Buying a house and driving to and staying in Indianapolis are mutually exclusive right now.) Some quick brainstorming is in order.

First, in a Jund/Vampires metagame, my first options are to play with pro-black creatures. Gatherer tells me there are four creatures in the format with protection from black: Devout Lightcaster, Great Sable Stag, Valeron Outlander, and White Knight. Ordinarily, this probably wouldn’t be a huge deal, but let’s be realistic here: mana sucks right now. Trying to play all these color-intensive cards might be tough, but since we’re brainstorming in Magical Christmas Land here, let’s see what we can come up with anyway.

First, then, we’ll need a solid creature base. Luckily, white has the best creature in the format, Baneslayer Angel. Financial implications aside, it’s the best thing you can cast at five mana right now (and, arguably, ever). If we go with a base of white and splash for green, we should be well on our way. Therefore, the white creatures are easy.

3 Baneslayer Angel
4 Devout Lightcaster
4 White Knight

Adding green to this mix might be difficult. But I’m going to try to force it anyway. Because I’m stubborn like that.

3 Great Sable Stage
4 Valeron Outlander

This leaves us with 42 slots to fill with land, fixing, and removal. Let’s start with land.

Since we’re running a pretty important five-drop, we’re going to want enough land. I think 25 is a good number to start at, just because. The first obvious inclusion, to me, is Graypelt Refuge. Including these both fixes the mana and furthers the defensive plan a bit, by giving some incidental lifegain. Then there’s the obvious Sunpetal Grove. From there, things get a little wonky.

If we include a lot of basics, we run the risk of missing our color drops. In a deck with triple-white and double-green, that’s important. However, the tradeoff for running fetchlands is a little steep: at the cost of one life, you only get one color you need; you might as well have run a basic. So for that reason, we’ll stick mostly to basics, and supplement them with other non-fetch lands.

As it is right now, we only have four guaranteed enters-tapped lands, the Refuges. That means we can probably play some Zendikar single-color lands for our colors. I’d start with Oran-Rief and Kabira Crossroads, at two and three, respectively. So far, our mana looks like this:

4 Graypelt Refuge
4 Sunpetal Grove
2 Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
3 Kabira Crossroads

That’s 13 land, which leaves us 12 more. At this point I’m reaching the edge of my comfort zone for enters-tapped lands, with nine for sure, and four more possibles, so I’ll probably fill the rest of the land requirements with basics. Unfortunately, that leaves us a little short on fixing, so we’ll have to address it with spells. Right now, my thoughts the total land numbers look like this:

4 Graypelt Refuge
4 Sunpetal Grove
2 Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
3 Kabira Crossroads
8 Plains
4 Forest

All we have left is the other incidental stuff. First, we want to address some fixing issues, so I’m including three Khalni Heart Expedition. This might be enough, so we’ll start here. Second, we want to continue the black and aggro hate, so that means including two Celestial Purge, four Path to Exile, four Harm’s Way, and a singleton Behemoth Sledge. For the final three slots, I’d like to include Captured Sunlight. First, it’s pretty decent lifegain, and second, it helps address both the mana issues the deck has (the two most color intensive cards in the deck are both three-drops) and create a little bit of card advantage.

After this, there’s some sideboarding to be done. With a deck so focused on the number one deck (and the expected/assumed number two), sideboarding is going to be important for the matchups against other decks… especially other green or white decks.

I’ll start with 4 Day of Judgment. That seems easy enough. Second, we need a way to win the Big Dumb Creature Fight that green-white mirrors tend to be. The easiest ways to do that are to neutralize their threats or make our threats better. So we can include some Journey to Nowhere, probably as a three-of. To make our threats better, we’ll include two Elspeth, Knight-Errant. That leaves six open slots. Many of the white decks are running some kind of enchantment for creature fights, plus the expedition enchantments are a pain in the butt, so three Qasali Pridemage sounds good to me. For the last three slots, I’d like to figure out some kind of tokens trump. Some kind of Overrun effect seems good, so I’ll include—for now, anyway—three Garruk Wildspeakers. Not only does it provide the Overrun effect we want, it pumps out tokens, and helps ramp (a little bit) into our bigger spells faster.

The final deck, then, looks like this:

GW Haterator by Rick Cummings

Maindeck Sideboard

Land
4 Graypelt Refuge
4 Sunpetal Grove
2 Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
3 Kabira Crossroads
8 Plains
4 Forest

Creatures
3 Baneslayer Angel
4 Devout Lightcaster
4 White Knight
3 Great Sable Stag
4 Valeron Outlander

Spells
4 Path to Exile
2 Celestial Purge
3 Khalni Heart Expedition
4 Harm’s Way
1 Behemoth Sledge
3 Captured Sunlight


4 Day of Judgment
2 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
3 Journey to Nowhere
3 Qasali Pridemage
3 Garruk Wildspeaker

The first thing that pops out to me is that this deck has no inherent outs to UB Unearth (or “Crypt” or “Dredge”), so some Relic of Progenitus might be a good sideboard candidate if you expect a lot of that in your meta. Second, this deck may fall prey to being “too cute” and die to its own internal issues, like mana screw or a slow start. Hopefully those issues are mitigated by the lifegain cards, and the sheer power of Baneslayer Angel. Finally, this deck is simply off the top of my head. If I were going to States myself, I would probably put some playtesting into the deck, but as it stands, I like the idea behind it. Jund, as we have seen, is a ridiculously large part of the metagame, and is probably deserving of some dedicated hate, even though the hate isn’t necessary to beat it. So there you go. Give the deck a whirl, and if it does well for you, let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading!

[*]While it may be a falsehood that States is typically an aggro format, the numbers speak pretty convincingly that this time it will probably be true. Non-aggro decks are fairly outnumbered by aggro and aggro-midrange already, so I would expect States to be even more so.

The November 27th MTGO Metagame Report

November 27, 2009

Worlds’ Influence

THUD.

THUD.

THUD.

That’s the sound of me slamming my head on my desk in frustration after Worlds failed to make a reasonable dent in the MTGO metagame. Oh sure, there were a few new entries this week, but if I would have asked you two weeks ago what the most popular deck spawned by Worlds on MTGO, you would have never in a million years guessed “Turbo Fog.” Because that’s all Jacerator is. It even edged out the deck that won, Naya Lightsaber. It edged out Conley Woods’s newest creation, Magic Christmas Land. Of course, by “edged out” I mean “put up over triple the numbers.” Same story with the influential (buy semi-retired) Gerry Thompson’s Spread ‘Em deck. (Jeff Phillips gives a good rundown of all these decks at Star City Games. Except for Conley Woods’s deck, which the man himself wrote about at ChannelFireball.)

Now, to be fair, WotC’s reporting of tournaments stopped on Tuesday of this week, a scant two days after Worlds ended. However, there were Deck Techs posted throughout the tournament, and by early Sunday, any new decks would be known and disseminated throughout the MTGO metagame. If the MTGO crowd is anything, it’s fast at absorbing new technology. What this means is that, from last Thursday, when Worlds began, through Tuesday, when I run out of data from Wizards, only three entirely unknown decks made the jump to MTGO, one of which is just a Fog deck. (That is, Jacerator, Magical Christmas Land, and Spread ‘Em. I’m not counting Naya Lightsaber here, because Mike Flores had been pimping at his blog for a while before Worlds.)

It should be noted that Jund’s lists have been changing slightly, partially to adapt to the “growing” “hate” against them, partially to battle the mirror, and partially to integrate new tech (like Master of the Wild Hunt). So the still really has no natural predators. It’s sort of like the great white shark, in that respect. It’s the top of the food chain, and the only things that kills it are other great white sharks and the accidental interference of man.

Jund Bannings

Now, after nearly two months of Jund’s domination, and no end of it in sight, is it appropriate to bring up bannings? Probably not. Here’s my reasoning.

First, as Cedric Phillips points out, Jund Stinks. (That’s a SCG Premium article. Apologies if you can’t read it.) The deck is a pile of good cards, but it’s not overly synergistic. It’s not a deck that absolutely dominates its games. Usually. It plays a lot of removal, some decent creatures, and tries to win the cascade lottery.

Second, and this ties into the first point pretty well, there’s nothing specific to ban in Jund. There are a lot of good cards, but nothing on the level of Bitterblossom (the last major banning candidate) or Skullclamp or what-have-you. There’s no specific engine that makes the deck run. It just plays some land, some dudes, and hopes to beat you to death with said dudes. The closest thing to an engine I can think of is Bloodbraid Elf, and banning that also makes a ton of other decks worse, while not really affecting Jund. Think about it this way: if Jund doesn’t have a BBE, they just keep playing. When they hit one, they hope to hit something useful off it. It’s not a blowout card, and it’s not necessary for the deck to win. And that’s arguably the “most broken” card in the deck.

Third, and probably most importantly, the deck is beatable by decks that are not specifically built to hate it. Jund is not warping the metagame on the level of Faeries or Affinity. Most people are simply ignoring the deck and playing their own gameplan, and it’s working for a lot of people. That’s good. Contrast that with Faeries. If you didn’t play a deck that could somehow mitigate Faeries’ plan, you lost. You had to take Fae into account when you built a deck, and you don’t have to do that with Jund, because sometimes the deck just doesn’t do anything of note.

To sum up, no, Jund does not necessitate bannings, nor would they be effective. Hopefully this message gets out, because I’m starting to see the beginnings of insurrection on various boards.

Analysis

Finally! Here are some actual numbers!

Deck Number
Jund (146 of 317)
Boros (23 of 317)
White Decks (22 of 317)
Jacerator (14 of 317)
Harrow (13 of 317)
Naya Lightsaber (12 of 317)
Vampires (11 of 317)
Nissa (9 of 317)
Junk (9 of 317)
RDW (9 of 317)
UB Unearth (8 of 317)
Bant (7 of 317)
Sphinx Control (6 of 317)
GW Midrange (5 of 317)
Naya Other (4 of 317)
Spread Em (4 of 317)
Magical Xmas (4 of 317)
Pyromancer (2 of 317)
Cascade (2 of 317)
WRB Aggro (2 of 317)
Other (5 of 317)

Other includes one each of: Mono-Black Ascension, Blightning, Specter Unearth, Warp World, Grixis Control

Most of the commentary I have is listed above. Any of the Worlds-centric decks are discussed in the articles I linked above, so I’m not going to go into them here. A couple of nomenclature notes, and then I’ll get into the new (non-Worlds) decks this week. The deck I’ve been calling “Eldrazi Rock” has become “Junk,” partially due to its name being more well-known thanks to Worlds, and partially due to the fact that Eldrazi Monument is losing favor among players. “Sphinx Control” is the old “RWU Sphinx” lists, a change that reflects the fact that some of the Sphinx lists are dropping white. These are fundamentally different lists from “Spread ‘Em,” so I’m listing them separately. “Naya Other” consists of both Midrange and Zoo. Naya colors, non-Lightsaber-style lists. “White Decks” is, again, all the mono-white lists (plus one that splashed blue for an Outlander and Hindering Light.) I do this because the difference between White Weenie and White Midrange and White Tokens is generally about 8-12 cards. It also includes at least one copy of Rob Dougherty’s White Weenie deck, which I admire for its sheer chutzpah. (Sixteen land?!)

I’m going to talk about two decks today, and neither is particularly overwhelming, but I thought they were neat.

WRB Aggro by Tulio_Jaudy
MTGO Standard

Maindeck Sideboard

Land
4 Arid Mesa
2 Dragonskull Summit
4 Marsh Flats
4 Mountain
3 Plains
3 Scalding Tarn
1 Swamp
4 Terramorphic Expanse

Creatures
1 Elite Vanguard
1 Goblin Bushwhacker
4 Goblin Guide
4 Plated Geopede
4 Ranger of Eos
4 Steppe Lynx
1 Vampire Lacerator

Spells
4 Blightning
4 Burst Lightning
2 Earthquake
2 Grim Discovery
4 Lightning Bolt


2 Celestial Purge
2 Deathmark
1 Earthquake
2 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
4 Path to Exile
2 Relic of Progenitus
2 Unstable Footing

I thought this deck was neat just because it tries to combine the speed of Boros with the raw power of Blightning. I honestly don’t have that much to say about it past that. I just think it looks fun to beat face with.

Specter Unearth by Farmor
MTGO Standard

Maindeck Sideboard

Land
4 Crumbling Necropolis
4 Dragonskull Summit
1 Island
2 Mountain
2 Scalding Tarn
9 Swamp

Creatures
4 Bloodghast
3 Extractor Demon
2 Hypnotic Specter
3 Nyxathid
4 Rotting Rats
4 Sedraxis Specter

Spells
4 Blightning
3 Earthquake
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Sign in Blood
4 Terminate


2 Bituminous Blast
3 Duress
2 Fleshbag Marauder
3 Infest
1 Liliana Vess
2 Malakir Bloodwitch
2 Slave of Bolas

Really, this one is here because I like Sedraxis Specter decks. It’s similar to a build of the Crypt of Agadeem lists that run Specter as well… plus it’s a pretty straight Grixis Aggro deck. With all that discard, those Nyxathids have to be pretty big. I really don’t have a whole lot of insight into this one. I looks pretty straightforward to me, not terribly unlike the TarmoRack decks of yore. It looks like it might run into many of the same problems the Crypt decks would have (Relic of Progenitus and Jund Charm), but it also looks to take a proactive approach to the hate through a TON of discard, rather than the reactive plan of having discard and countermagic in the sideboard. So… there you go.

Conclusion

As you’ve probably noticed by now, I didn’t do an evolutionary analysis of the format, like I mentioned last week. Most of the reason for that is that it’s a freakin’ holiday weekend. I’ll actually write that article over the weekend, and post it as the Monday/Tuesday post. States is coming up, so I’ll probably be keeping track of Standard for another few weeks, and then I’ll be switching over to a Standard/Extended split since the Extended PTQ season is almost upon us. How I’m going to format those posts, I’m not exactly sure yet. I’ll figure it out when I get that far.

One last thing before I go. The 2010 MTGO Release Schedule has been posted. Fun news? Urza’s Saga and Urza’s Legacy arrive next year, as well as a fourth installment of Master’s Edition. Of course, this is in addition to the normal releases of Worldwake, Rise of the Eldrazi, Magic 2010, and “Lights,” the first set in the new block. Plus, the new Phyrexia vs. the Coalition Duel Decks is coming in the spring. Lots of activity on the MTGO front next year. Online Classic should be getting a boost from the introduction of Urza Block, and with the addition of MTGO PTQs (you know about those, right?) things are shaping up to be busy indeed for the digital Magic players.

Thanks for reading!

Post-Script – Bonus Graphic

Just in case you’re wondering, this is what the metagame looks like without Jund:

It’s not perfectly balanced, but it’s a lot nicer than with Jund. This has some nice, varied tiers of what is good. When you throw Jund into the mix, it becomes two tiers: Jund and Everything Else. This is becoming tiresome.

The Holiday Zendikar Snake!

November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

It’s Turkey Day!

November 26, 2009

Thanks to the holiday, this week’s MTGO Analysis will be up tomorrow or Saturday. In the meantime, I’ll be putting up the Weekend Zendikar Snake that I missed this passed weekend. In a few hours. Because, I’m not gonna lie, I just got out of bed, and it’s too early to be yelling at Photoshop for not making me look more competent.

Until then, enjoy your day off, you US folk!

A Short Chat About the Gindy DQ

November 23, 2009

For those of you that kept up with Worlds, the next couple paragraphs will be nothing new, so you can skip down to the response section. For those of you still with me, it’s story time.

Charles Gindy, winner of US Nationals, was in a Round 6 match against France’s Antoine Menard. At some point in the match, Gindy activated his Master of the Wild Hunt (the official account says he used two wolf tokens, some others say only one) to kill some 2/2 of Menard’s. Menard failed to state where his 2/2 would deal its damage, as per Master of the Wild Hunt’s ability. No matter what happened, Gindy had a situation in which he could gain advantage. After the game, Gindy said to his opponent, “Why didn’t you kill my 2/2 wolf token?” at which point, Menard called for a judge.

In the ensuing investigation, it was determined that Gindy was guilty of Cheating — Fraud, and was disqualified from the tournament. The US team was therefore ineligible for the team competition, as alternate Brad “FFfreak” Neslon was not allowed to take Gindy’s place, as per the rules.

Response

Let’s look at the infraction’s definition from the Infraction Penalty Guide (which can be found, along with all the other rules for Magic here):

3.10 Failure to Maintain Game State
“This infraction is committed by a player who has allowed another player in the game to commit a Game Play Error and has not pointed it out it before he or she could potentially gain advantage. If a judge believes a player is intentionally not pointing out other players’ illegal actions, either for his or her own advantage, or in the hope of bringing it up at a more strategically advantageous time, the infraction is Cheating — Fraud.”

That means that Gindy was deemed to have intentionally withheld announcing his opponent’s game play error because it benefited him (Gindy). Since the arbitrary nature of the game state at the time of the error was illegal and allowing it to persist due to said game state giving him an advantage, it also states—rather unequivocally—that Gindy cheated.

Do I think Gindy is a dirty cheat on the level of, say, Mike Long, who kept combo pieces in his lap? Do I think he’s a cunning cheat like Olivier Ruel, who read his opponent’s cards of the reflection of said opponent’s glasses? No. I think what Gindy did is unfortunate, but it’s plainly stated in all rules that Gindy is expected to know as cheating. Whether or not it was malicious is irrelevant. Gindy cheated. I think it was on a technical level, and I don’t forsee him turning into a serial cheater in the way that Mike Long was. Charles Gindy is now the poster boy for “If in doubt, call a judge.”

Why?

Because if he would have called a judge at the time of the infraction, the most he would have gotten is a warning for Failure to Maintain. Instead, he allowed it to persist until the end of the match (that he won, by most accounts due to not having a creature die in the incident in question), and therefore committed Fraud. Always call a judge, kids.

Ultimately, this falls on no one’s shoulders but Gindy’s. He made the error, and it ended up costing him a lot of money, and took the possibility of much more out of his teammates’. It’s unfortunate, but the rules are there, and it was Gindy’s responsibility to know and apply them.

Post-Script

The things that irks me the most about this whole situation is that there seems to have been an explosion in the comments section of pretty much any related article in regard to some world-wide conspiracy of DCI judges that are “out to get” players. What it reeks of, to me, is disrespect not only to judges, but to other players, and the integrity of the game itself. Not to sound too insane here, but am I the only person that gives a shit about the rules?

Seriously, these people are many of the same ones that keep people out of tournament play, and make Magic players seem like four-year-olds. If you don’t have faith in the judging system, if you can’t treat your opponents with respect, and if you can’t be trusted to properly play the game by the rules, (pardon the language here) get the fuck out of my game. If you can’t be an adult and play a game with proper respect for human beings, I don’t want to play against you.

It seems like the shiftiest people are the ones that are screaming loudest about this, too. The ones that are claiming the system is broken, the ones that are (essentially) calling for judges’ heads on pikes. How am I going to know you’re going to keep your own play accountable if you won’t keep mine accountable unless it somehow benefits you? How am I supposed to expect a civil game if you’re pissing and moaning about a call that didn’t go your way, or ridiculing your table judge, whom you appealed and got overturned?

Seriously, people, grow up. If you have so much disdain for the structure of tournament play, and for people in general, stay out of the tournaments. It would be better for everyone involved, because we wouldn’t have to deal with your inane bullshit, and you wouldn’t have to have an aneurysm every time something bad happened to you.

In the words of Denis Leary: “Life sucks. Get a fuckin’ helmet.”


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