Hello again Magic Community, and welcome back to Jester’s ReCap. This is where I give you a foggy half-remembered version of all the Magic News happening right now. It’s a like a dream journal only more based in fact and even more clearly a demonstration of my deep-seated fears and personal shortcomings. Tons of stuff happening in the past few weeks so let’s get right to it.
MTGO…well, you know.
Yes, MTGO continued to suck. On busy weeks like this one it hardly seems worth dwelling on for too long. MTGO sucks in an unexciting, predictable manner. Clockwork sucking. Its sucking is a matter of course, an exercise in tedium. MTGO is a mediocre example of being not good. MTGO is the plain white toast of being terrible. The Times New Roman of disappointment. The Sam Worthington of unfortunate. The I-Formation running game of outdated tech. It’s the vanilla ice cream of sloppy programming. The Honda Civic of perfectly serviceable sub-par performance. The Mitt Romney of crashing and burning. The Lethal Weapon 3 of underwhelming. Remarkable only for its incredible staying power, MTGO sucks like a slow, steady drumbeat. It sucked yesterday, it sucks today and sure as the sun rises it will damn well suck tomorrow. Moving on.
WOTC is turning Magic into a MOBA? Other than assholes like me who make fun of them for a living, who is this for?
You know, I never played much League of Legends, or any other MOBA. I understood the appeal, I think. It had positive traits such as the depth, the shifting meta, and the fact it was free. However, early on the truly toxic environment, and my own stubborn refusal to improve my level of play even a little bit, kept me from investing too much. I’m very sure though, that at no point did I say “If only this was on my phone and starred Chandra Nalaar, THEN we’d be on to something”.
There are exactly two possibilities for this game, let’s inspect how they both play out:
- They ship a bog standard MOBA build which is slathered in a cheap MTG “Skin”. WOTC if this your plan, please stop. I mean it. Stop! Slow down! I only have so many articles to mock you with! I only write approximately 4000 words a month for this series. At that pace it would take me a hundred million years to properly shame you for such blatant corporate greed. To say nothing of the inherent stupidity. Your own internal data suggests Magic players enjoy seeing themselves as intellectual, savvy and financially astute. And your plan is to market to them with a naked cash grab of a mobile game? Good luck with that, Champ.
- Option two. You take the mechanics, flavour, themes and style of the most beloved, most complicated and most compelling card game on earth and earnestly try to layer it over the frame of the most intricate, delicate design structure in the video game world. WOTC, if this is your plan, quick question. Have you ever considered fishing for piranha with your own dick? No? Well, if I were you I would jam a hook in your urethra and start being pulled behind a riverboat because that sounds way more fun and profitable than making this version of Project M. If you want to experience pain trying something impossible then just dedicate yourself to eating both your elbows at the same time. Same experience, way less overhead.
I could be wrong, and I hope I am. On the face of it though, this is a horrible decision.
The Great Designer Search 3 is on! Before we get to the reality show style stuff of the top 8 though, we have to weed out of the chaff. WOTC posted a 75 question multiple-choice test. You needed to get 73 right to push through to the next round. Unfortunately, the questions were disappointingly narrow in focus. It was all about the colour pie, design philosophy, understanding complexity, blah blah blah. I can’t believe they cut all my questions about fitting in and working day to day at Wizards of the Coast. Look, here’s a taste:
Question 76: Which of the following is the correct way to greet your co-workers in the morning?
- “Hey guys? Did anyone else have ‘Unban Top’ spray-painted on the hood of their car this morning?”
- “The next person who parks in my space is going on the design team for Return to Mercadia.”
- “Shhhh. Not yet. Give me a minute. My coffee addiction is starting to feel like cumulative upkeep.”
- “TIME FOR ANOTHER DAAAAAAAAY OF WORK!”
Question 77: Which of the following Top-Down Designs would result in the “best” set?
- A Fairytale-inspired world where you sacrifice “children” tokens to thinly-veiled racist caricatures.
- An Atlantis-based set taking place entirely underwater but every common blue creature is an 8-drop with Islandhome
- A jarringly bizarre “All Vehicle” set based on the Fast & Furious movies
- Ication Masters
Question 78: If a co-worker was fired or resigned, which of the following is NOT an acceptable response?
- Bitching that management is “holding all the removal”
- Subtly implying that the recently departed employee was responsible for “Copycat Combo”
- Asking your former colleague what Blizzard pays.
- Going through all their designs in the latest file and adding “phasing” to every card.
The only thing notable about the FNM Promos turning back into “real” cards is how fast it happened. If Wizards hadn’t bothered to announce it in the first place and just made the promos tokens for a few months people might now have even realized it was a backtrack. I suspect part of the reason for this is that Promo tokens paled miserably in comparison to the gorgeous full art tokens in Unstable. Oh, that and the viscerally negative outburst from our community. That can’t be it though, because if WOTC changed plans every time we all started to bitch and moan they would literally never do anything. If they were dependent on pleasing us to get stuff done, every WOTC employee would become frozen solid like suspended animation. Or maybe they’d just all fall out of time’s natural flow and become Time Lords, except aloof and doomed. So, exactly like Time Lords, I guess.
Another chapter of Ixalan’s story…uh…happened. Huatli rode Zacama around and somehow managed to make that boring. It’s a three-headed Elder dinosaur and all you managed to do was learn its’ name, drive it up to your old hometown and look stupid climbing off of it? What is wrong with you!? How could you possibly have sucked that much cool out of anything? Goddamn Huatli, you’re a black hole of boring. And the story bears that out, because when it’s over you have left Ixalan to go catalog the stuff other, more interesting, people are doing. I’m not making that up. That’s literally her thing now. Hopefully she runs into someone cool? Someone who presumably we could have spent a dozen story chapters with instead of Huatli? Why does this character exist!?
Worse yet, WOTC went full “Vampires are misunderstood” bullshit and had Elendra become their messiah who will correct the course of their entire culture and redeem them. Which, I guess means they don’t eat people anymore? I mean, you can’t be good guys and eat people. My stance on that is well documented. But also, if you don’t eat people are you even really vampires? There’s nothing “vampiric” about you if you don’t steal life. That’s your whole deal. Without the bloodsucking, you’re just immortal, faster, stronger, prettier humans? That’s…that’s just Elves. We already have Elves.
WOTC, please. I beg of you. Just let some races and groups be bad guys. I know people like redemption arcs, but not everything that gets popular needs a retroactive rehabilitation. What, are the Phyrexians going to be led to salvation by Karn and end up curing all diseases? Is it going to turn out that Nicol Bolas has been Doctor Dooming us the whole time and only his ascension to an Oldwalker can save the Multiverse? Turns out the Raven Man is just Liliana’s estranged dad and he’s going to chaperone her and Jace to Wizard Prom. Just have bad guys! We like bad guys! Vampires can be irredeemable bloodsucking monsters and cool at the same time, I promise. Trust me.
I don’t know how much attention this got, or how much it deserves, but any excuse to link over to LoadingReadyRun is aces in my book. Canadian Highlander, for those of you who don’t know, is a format derived from turning vintage into a singleton format and then decimating the the consistency of the decks by making you run 100 cards. It’s fun and weird and different enough to always be entertaining. The locals in LRR’s neck of the woods have a highly organized competitive scene for the format and held their annual championship live on Twitch. Death and Taxes, Kiki-pod and Paradox Engine Bullshit were among the contenders and it was a decent watch. Mostly though, it just makes you wish you could get people that organized/pleasant to be a part of your local scene. For every person who actually plays Canadian Highlander there seems to be 10 people looking longingly at them through a window, in the rain, forced to live in an area where they can barely keep Standard events rolling at the local LGS. They place their palm on the glass, let out a long sigh and think to themselves… someday.
This section was added very, very late because WOTC hates me on a personal level and announced the biggest banlist switch in Modern after I’d already finished this article. If somehow you play Magic but didn’t read, watch or hear anything about the game in the last two days, let me be the first to inform you of some big news. Jace the Mind Sculptor and Bloodbraid Elf are no longer banned. I am not an oracle, a soothsayer, a Voodoo Priest, Spider-man, or a skilled Modern player so I have no idea how this will impact the format. I will say though, that the unbanning reasoning in the mothership article was basically an admission that Modern’s power level is so high right now that they don’t expect either of these cards to bust shit wide open. I hope they’re right, but it seems like an awful gamble just to get people to open packs of Magic 25 chasing copies of Jace.
And that’s it’s for me this time guys. Remember to leave a positive comment if you enjoyed the article and to hurl deeply personal vindictive attacks at me if you didn’t. If you have opinions on the unbannings, I want to hear them. If you think the MOBA could pan out, please explain to me how because I’d love to be wrong on that one. If you like Huatli, please explain to me how, because holy shit.