Jester’s ReCap 11 – Predicting the Future

Hello again Magic Community,

It’s the New Year and with the Mothership taking the Holidays off, the New Year’s hangovers potentially still quite fresh, and the news slowed to a dribble, it was mighty tempting to just do an annual “recap” of the entirety of 2017. After all, that’s sort of what I do here and there’s going to be plenty of folks horning in on my schtick as it becomes time for “Best of” and “Biggest News Stories” lists and other phoned-in hackneyed bullshit. Amateurs. I’ve been phoning in my hackneyed bullshit for months already! Get on my level, Scrubs.

So, instead of that, I’ve decided to look to the future, kinda. We’re going to look at the handful of Rivals of Ixalan Spoilers, a few of the products announced for 2018, and I’m also going to make some very much unfounded predictions. After all, today’s announcements are tomorrow’s cynical dismissals, dreary disappointments and, when we allow ourselves such, pleasant surprises. And to begin, I’m going to start with the one prediction I’m certain of:

 

MTGO Will Still Suck Next Year (And I Won’t Care Much)

Sometimes, I think folks misunderstand why every single article I write starts with MTGO’s raw, undiluted, sewage-splattering garbage-ness. They see a 15 year-old computer program getting ragged on for being slow, unwieldy, and ugly as the devil’s sin, etc. and they assume I hate it, or judge the people who use it, or want it to die. This is more a condemnation of me, and my complete lack of sympathetic qualities than anything else. I’m not against MTGO in any way—it’s probably more accurate to say I’m obsessed with it. I’m not the bully, picking on MTGO for being the homeliest kid in school. I’m the creepy stalker hiding in the bushes, sketching MTGO through a window because I think that they’re beautiful underneath it all, and one day they’ll see how I stuck with them through the bad times and love me back. It’s sick and weird and just plain wrong on so many levels, but it really is rooted in love. The kind of love that sometimes results in a skin suit, but love all the same.

So, when I tell you that MTGO will still be a hastily constructed mess in 2018, and it really will be, don’t read too much into it. Sure, it’s still going to be cobbled together like a Jenga tower made out of mouldy breakfast sausages. Sure, the “known bug list” will still dwarf your average entomological encyclopedia. Sure, it will still crash more often than the cast of the Fast & Furious movies. But none of that will matter to me, really. I’ll want it to succeed and survive, if only to justify the endless amounts of time and money I’ve poured into it. A conservative estimate of my MTGO budget this year is probably somewhere in the $200,000.00 cost range, total. Not just in drafts, decks and events, but in lost potential. Every draft is another few hours I spend not learning a skill, or reading a book, or…I don’t know… wooing an heiress—whatever it is successful people do with their time. So, Happy New Year, Magic: the Gathering Online; if you try to suck less, I’ll do the same.

 

Rivals of Ixalan Spoilers

I don’t pretend to know what cards will be playable, and some of these might end up looking less stupid in a vacuum. But our lack of concrete knowledge is my comedic gain:

The Immortal Sun – It always makes me nervous when Wizards decides to print hate for something I considered goofy fun or stupid bullshit. “Superfriends” decks aren’t ever exactly bad, but they aren’t such a scourge anywhere that they needed their own Stony Silence, even one that costs 6. Of course, this is also an anthem effect, a draw effect and a cost reduction effect. So maybe it’s less a hate card and more design throwing their hands up in the air and saying “I dunno, it does everything. All the things. I’m going to go get shitfaced. Development’s problem now.”

Tetzimoc, Death Primordial – I’d complain that “Forecast” is supposed to be Azorius mechanic, but that would imply that Forecast mattered, ever. Tetzimoc seems like a ton of fun. It gives your opponent a lot of warning before it punches them in the face, but like 80% of them won’t be able to do anything about it:

Player 1: I’m going to punch you in the face, later.

Player 2: Oh. Uh…ok?

Player 1: Really hard.

Player 2: I…I should duck, or block, or run away or something.

Player 1: Yep. I mean, I’m going to really cave your face in, so it seems wise.

Player 2: I don’t seem to be doing any of that, though.

Player 1: Nope. Pretty soon, now.

Player 2: Maybe I could- (KER-PUNCHED!)

Vona’s Hunger – So this card is your basic, “this is what we get instead of Diabolic Edict” effect that they’ve been toying around with for a couple sets now. The twist, of course, is that it has the new mechanic “Ascend”, which is interesting. Originally, I wrote a semi-informed breakdown of why I was skeptical of this mechanic, but then I shook my head and remembered this was a comedy article. Here’s a bunch of stupid reasons why I don’t like Ascend:

  1. I watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer in my youth, and so was disappointed that “Ascension” didn’t involve becoming a giant snake monster.
  2. “City’s Blessing” is what the homeless guy who stole my bus pass was rambling about.
  3. I know they mean “ascend” in a spiritual or power-level sense, but I still think this mechanic would have about the same gravitas if it was called “walk up a flight of stairs”.
  4. It means the story is going to be about achieving some kind of “Enlightenment” or “Godhood” or “Ultimate Power” and that leaves two possibilities I can see. Either Jace gets it, becomes briefly even more insufferable than usual and gives up the juice before he can use it to smack down Nicol Bolas. Or, Vraska gets it and becomes some sort of anti-hero in the greater story. Meaning Jace will have another “sort-of, maybe” romantic relationship with a complicated Black Planeswalker woman he can’t trust. Awesome WOTC. You know, when Jace got amnesia we didn’t all also forget his backstory. No matter how much we wished we could.

 

Also up in 2018:

Masters 25 – So did this rob all the cards from Iconic Masters, or did they split it off evenly, or…what? 25 years is a long time, and conceivably this could be anything. Right now though it is 3 months away and it is difficult to get excited because WOTC has been frustratingly vague on the particulars. Iconic Masters was already about famous or nostalgic cards. Modern Masters and Vintage Masters did useful reprints and Unstable told a bunch of inside jokes. Masters 25 is supposed to be a “celebration” of Magic’s quarter-centennial, but unless it’s a bunch of polaroids of WOTC staff past and present actually jerking themselves off it’s probably going to be a half measure. Less a “celebration” and more a random assortment of junk. Sorry folks, hope I’m wrong.

Challenger Decks – I guess these are Event Decks 2.0? It’s funny how some people who play this game just want to sit down with a pre-built deck, whereas to me that’s like sitting down to a meal someone already ate. Also “Challenger” decks? Really? Clearly the guy who named “Magic: Arena” is pulling some serious clout over there in R&D. That is some weak sauce product naming. Heads up WOTC, when two guys fight? One is the “Champion” and the other one is…? Yeah. You’re just lucky I’m too tasteful to make a heat shield joke.

Dominaria – I want it to be good, but I’ll settle for it exploding in an amusing fashion. For the love of god WOTC, whatever you do, just don’t let it be boring. If you take out of all the broken old stuff and print hill giants and grey ogres, we may never forgive you.

And that’s how what little we know about 2018 appears to be shaping up for the game. For my part, I have a bunch of half-baked little side projects in the works, some of which I’ve mentioned publicly. Those didn’t go away, I just became busy and remained lazy. Assuming I can hire enough exotic dancers of both genders to properly distract the editing team, I should be able to roll out the first taste of one of said projects for you guys around the time of my next article. Hopefully you enjoy it, and here’s to a great 2018.

 

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