Posted tagged ‘Magic’

Roses are Red; Bears Still are not Blue

March 3, 2017

 

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Maybe in Amonkhet?

 

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Looking back at Eldritch Moon & Take the Crown

September 10, 2016

It’s a bit hard to motivate myself right now, but I do not want to cease blogging about Magic altogether yet. I had intended to write about Eldritch Moon and Conspiracy: Take the Crown from a Next Level Cube perspective, but then my computer died, and I still haven’t completely caught up with re-installing everything I feel I need on it, and working through the backlog of my computer-related activities, of which keeping my Limited Card Pool up to date is one. I finally did the latter – although obviously it’s still pre-Kaladesh yet – and will now briefly mention which designs from the latest two published Magic sets made the cut.

About Eldritch Moon in general: I’m not the set’s biggest fan, at least not from the point of view of single card design. I still strongly dislike double-faced cards for RL play (and, even more importantly, draft); I still believe madness is a too swingy mechanic, rewarding you too much if its pieces come together, and punishing you too much if they don’t; and I still think delirium is just taking up too much mental space in a game. That is already most of what Eldritch Moon is mechanically about…

Then there are tribal matters cards, which I do like on principle. However, for the sake of backwards compatibility I will not adopt human tribal, which would be terribly confusing with many older cards which are humans but don’t say so in print, and wolf tribal can not be separated from werewolf tribal, which would require double-faced cards.

This leaves three tribes I use. Among those, I have zombies firmly in Black. Both Innistrad blocks offer some blue zombie tribal stuff, but that fails to reach the necessary level in both quantity and quality to convince me to put zombie tribal in two colors, since I decided against „splashing“ a tribals matter theme in a secondary color. As for the black zombie tribal designs in Eldritch Moon, they just did not survive the crunch – some are fine by themselves, but lost out to similar cards I already use.

Vampires matter cards, which I also only have in Black for similar reasons, offer a couple good designs though, and so do blue spirit tribal cards. Spirits in my pool still reel from the removal of all arcane cards, and consequently all spiritcraft cards (triggering off casting spirit or arcane spells), which left mostly soulshift as a spirit tribal mechanic – the exception being Blue, which is slowly gathering spirit tribal cards from the Innistrad blocks. I decided I want a clear split in colors between soulshift and other spirits matter, so white spirit tribal from Innistrad is being left out.

I was disappointed by the designs with skulk in Eldritch Moon, although I like that mechanic in principle. With emerge, it was a bit the other way round: I took a fancy to some of those cards by themselves, but realized they would require too many specific support cards in a Next Level Cube if they were to be a meaningful addition. As for escalate, I consider it a superfluous design in a space that is already full of too many slightly varying similar mechanics. With access to 23 years worth of Magic cards, I just don’t need it. It doesn’t help that the more interesting escalate cards tend to be overpowered and/or complicated, with the latter escpecially being an issue if casual players try to play around them.

Like in Shadows over Innistrad, there were some recurring creatures in Eldritch Moon, but I do not like how those affect gameplay, so I do not use them. Eldritch Moon also dabbles in insteries matter, auras matter and equipments matter designs. The first delivered a few nice cards, while the others suffered from not being compatible with my approach to those themes – for example, I do not want to mix auras matter and equipments matter on the same card.

As a final note, I was disappointed by Eldritch Moon‘s only “devilpops” design, which lacked the elegance of those from Shadows over Innistrad.

So here is what made it, 30 cards all in all:

 

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Most of these are simply basic, elegant designs on a good power level, something I am always on the lookout for. Some were added to my Limited Card Pool without any specific card leaving to make room for them (although I am continuously culling cards to stunt the growth of my collection in general), while some were direct replacements. Among the latter are Drogskol Shieldmate for Affa Guard Hound, Faithbearer Paladin for Dawnstrike Paladin, Falkenrath Reaver for Goblin Raider, Noose Constrictor for Darkthicket Wolf (but consequently allowing Rootwalla back in), and Tattered Haunter für Vaporkin (for tribal reasons only).

The more specific cards enhance existing themes in my Limited Card Pool: Vampire tribal, spirit tribal, insteries matter, and self-milling (the only kind of milling I allow). Imprisoned in the Moon is especially important as a maindeckable answer for special lands at common. Sanctifier of Souls made the cut as a well-designed, interesting, but not suppressive rare.

Some noticeable cards which I considered lengthily, but didn’t make the cut: Lunarch Mantle and Faith Unbroken are too swingy; Long Road Home is too close too Feat of Resistance; Stensia Innkeeper doesn’t make for a great gameplay experience while not fulfilling an essential function; Noosegraf Mob has a cool concept, but is just a little too strong; Assembled Alphas are a bit too powerful for a splashable creature; and Geist of the Archives makes repeated scrying a little too easy – too much card selection goes against the very idea of limited play.

Now to Conspiracy: Take the Crown! Obviously, I do not care too much about the reprints in there, although I am always searching for updates to cards in my pool with a more current wording (for example, Skulking Ghost from Eternal Masters now saying that it’s a spirit is great). Also, since I do not play multiplayer, the vast majority of original Conspiracy cards make no sense in my Limited Card pool. Even those which do not feature specific multiplayer mechanics are usually not balanced for one on one limited play.

Two cards still made it:

 

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Sinuous Vermin complements my other monstrosity options (Ill-Tempered Cyclops, Ravenous Leucrocota) nicely; and Leovold, Emissary of Trent replaces Sidisi, Brood Tyrant – both designs are a bit loaded for my taste, but Leovold is more straightforward.

Next up is Kaladesh, which has a couple of really interesting designs!

I’m not even mad at WotC

April 27, 2016

…because it makes no sense to be mad at them. They are an evil, soulless company. They do as evil, soulless companies do. I despise them, of course, but I am not mad at them, because for me, there is a requirement to be disappointed first before I get mad. For the same reason, I am not mad at Donald Trump when he fires off yet another barrage of hateful lies and stereotypes – I know that is just what he does, and I have to expect such things from him.

I am mad at you instead, humanity itself (and by extension, even a bit about myself), because I probably still hold too high an opinion of our species and thus can be disappointed. I am not mad that a megalomaniac, misanthropic asshole like Trump exists and does what megalomaniac, misanthropic assholes do; but I am mad at all the people who do not unambiguously oppose him, or even support him. And in that vein, I am also not mad at WotC because they just displayed yet another time their disrespect for their customers, and their disregard for their customers’ intelligence; but I am mad at those customers proving yet again that they (and partly, I must admit, we) do not deserve their respect, and do not show enough intelligence.

If you read this blog entry, you really should know what I am referring to, but to make sure: This is an announcement by WotC from a few days ago; and this is their statement from yesterday, after they experienced a massive backlash on social media (and probably through other channels as well, but social media are nowadays the only relevant platform for public outrage short of outright riots).

I will just quote the most relevant passages to get my point across. First, from the original announcement:

“The adjustments to the Platinum pro player appearance fees, effective after the conclusion of Pro Tour Eldritch Moon, are as follows: Platinum pros will receive an appearance fee of $250 for competing at Pro Tours (previously $3,000), an appearance fee of $250 for competing at the World Magic Cup (previously $1,000), and an appearance fee of $250 for competing at a World Magic Cup Qualifier (previously $500).”

“These decisions were not made lightly, and were finalized only after much discussion about the goals of the Pro Tour Players Club. The appearance fees we awarded for Platinum pros were meant to assist in maintaining the professional Magic player’s lifestyle; upon scrupulous evaluation, we believe that the program is not succeeding at this goal, and have made the decision to decrease appearance fees.”

Then, from the update:

“We unintentionally broke the trust of current Platinum players, those players who have been working to achieve that status, and the wider Magic community.”

It could actually hardly be any more obvious that at least one of those statements is a lie – very probably the latest one. And yet, players are already back to “oh, they surely had good intentions, but punted, and now they have apologized and reconsidered, everything is fine again”!

It is not fine if a company lies to its customers. It is also not fine if they intend to break our trust and only back up after seeing they didn’t get away with it (this time). It is most disappointing, though – and making me actually mad – that so many people do not see this for what it is!

Look, they explicitly state that this decision wasn’t made “lightly”, which implies they put a lot of thought into its consequences. Also, rebudgeting a six-figure amount of dollars isn’t something a lone low-level employee would do on a whim, not even at Wizards of the Coast, a subsidiary of Hasbro. Even if they hadn’t explicitly said it, there is no reasonable doubt that several people rather high up in the company’s hierarchy must have been involved, and certainly everyone who is specifically responsible for the organization of professional play. (And even in the exceedingly unlikely case that this wasn’t true, they still would have lied to us about the decision-making process.)

So, what they want us to believe is that several persons from upper management, including those whose very job it is to create professional play policies, did not realize that they broke the trust of people by taking 5-figure dollar sums (per person!), which they had already been promised, away from them? And you believe that?

See, I know very well that people can mess up things badly from time to time. It is still at best in the outermost fringes of barely believable that a single person competent enough to hold a job deciding about six-figure budget changes would overlook these consequences for the very group of people they were explicitly directed at. Such a mistake is once again especially unlikely when it is the very job of that person to assess the consequences of such policy changes. And it gets once again more unlikely by an order of magnitude when the very announcement of these changes spells out clearly that people who were promised to get an amount of 3000$ per event next year would now only get 250$. If you believe this, you should also not convict someone for murder if their defense was “I didn’t know he could die if I slid his wrists and left him unconscious in a locked room. I’m sorry!”

However, fanboy glasses are a really potent means to alter the perception of reality, so let us pretend for a moment it was at least remotely believable that a single person messed up that badly. But this decision cannot have been made by a single person. There were undoubtedly several people involved, and it must not have occured to ANY of those that they were taking away massive amounts of promised money from a group of people, if none of the above statements was a lie!

It is incredible to which extent WotC relies on the non-existence of common sense among gamers, and this once again proves that they can – and that makes me mad.

You know what happens when you repeatedly let someone get away with obvious lies? Correct – they will lie ever more often to you! And here you have the answer why this pattern of “outrageous announcement, public outcry, sheepish apology” has been repeating itself so often during the last couple of years. WotC get away with it. They try out how far they can push the envelope, then paddle back if needed, showing goodwill just for not doing outrageous things they tried to do, while slowly eroding our expectations. In the end, we’re actually happy that they only do a little bad stuff to us, because we compare it to the very bad stuff they had threatened to do – and at the same time we give them credit for “listening to us”!

…or, more precisely, you do. I am unfortunately prone to a great many weaknesses, just like any human, and naivity is even one of them, but at least I see clearly through the most obvious lies of this company. If you do not, even after I broke everything down for you, then their demeanor is actually your fault. And this is why I am mad at you.

Time to Go

April 27, 2013

Not too long ago I published on three blogs: Here, on Zeromagic, about everything Magic-related; on Ein Platz für Andi, my creative outlet and the place for the occasional semi-private topic; and on Andis Andersartige Ansichten, where my views about politics and society could be found. While that was a testament to my enthusiasm, it became clear after a while that I couldn’t keep up with a posting schedule attending to three blogs at once. Also, my desire to comment on politics and society plummeted once I realized that I was effectively saying the same things over and over again, albeit in ever new context, and that became tedious. So I decided to put Andis Andersartige Ansichten on hold (with no real intention to ever resume posting there, but I didn’t see a need to burn everything down, so I kept the site as an archive) and return any occasional posts which would have belonged there to Ein Platz für Andi, my original blog.

Now, once again, I realize that my desire to post does not match the number of my blogs anymore. Certainly, I had specific reasons for every period of blogging inactivity, but when both reasons and inactivity periods began to accumulate, I had to consider that this constituted a trend. As with Andis Andersartige Ansichten before, I found that the sheer existence of two blogs paralyzed my desire to post on either of them. So, it is again time for “rightsizing”.

Now, Zeromagic, even though the newer of the two, sports the higher number of clicks by a large margin, most of them owing to being linked from various other Magic sites, first and foremost among those PlanetMTG. But I have never been much of a click-junkie. PlanetMTG didn’t link to my posts very reliably, often missing some if they followed each other too shortly, came at an inopportune time, or said inopportune things, so I could compare the number of clicks from posts they linked and those they didn’t link, which led to the sobering insight that the number of readers I had who found their way to Zeromagic without the help from Germany’s largest Magic site was just a fraction compared to those “drive-by” readers – still a few dozen, but vastly outnumbered by the hundreds coming from PlanetMTG.

Nonetheless, I knew I was being read, and I knew people were interested in what I wrote, because they posted comments. In case you were not aware of it before: It is the readers’ feedback which mainly preserves a blogger’s motivation to keep posting when it is at a low otherwise. If that is missing, you are running out of reasons to keep up a routine quite fast.

You see what I am getting at: The amount of feedback I have been getting on Zeromagic has declined steadily over the last few years, and for my last few posts, even though one of them generated a far above average number of clicks, it was absolutely zero. Effectively that means that my motivation to resume posting is also nearing zero. That is different from Ein Platz für Andi, where I mostly post stuff I would write anyways, even though I never get a lot of feedback there (but always some, and often especially encouraging).

Thus, I decided to relieve myself from the last vestiges of pressure to keep Zeromagic alive by officially closing it down. Of course, I will keep it up as an archive, as I did with Andis Andersartige Ansichten, and comments will be allowed for another week or so, but there will be no more updates. If I ever post anything Magic-related again (like updates to my limited card pool, which I will likely do sporadically), I might do so by using a Zeromagic page, but I will link to it from Ein Platz für Andi, my first and now again my only (active) blog. By the way – I heartily recommend that blog to all my German-speaking readers! Concerning Magic, I will keep tweeting short bursts of sentiments on my english twitter account, and in case someone wants my opinion on a certain topic (yes, it has happened before), he can use that medium to ask me about it.

So that is it for Zeromagic. All in all, the site had a good run and saw many heated and interesting discussions (sometimes those were even the same). However, just as Magic has developed in a direction moving it away from me, so has the Magic community, it seems. Its generations follow each other fast, and the gap between an oldtimer like me and the players of today seems to finally have widened too much. I leave it to you if you interpret my farewell as conceding or as an intentional withdrawal.