Jester’s Recap Episode 5: Branding Exercise, Commander Bans, Lightning Round

Hello Magic Community,

It’s me, Englishgrinn and I’m here to do my usually once-a-fortnight recap of the shake-ups and happenings in the great Magic community. I don’t research or dig deep, this is all off the top of my head. Consider this both a light recap of Magic News as well as an impact test for which news might stick around in the collective zeitgiest. Also, no promises, but sometimes it’s funny. Ok, preamble done, let’s get to my favourite part.

MTGO Still Sucks, and So Do I

Last week I wrote this big long promise to MTGO that it would live forever. I wasn’t praising it, but condemning it to an eternity of mediocrity. I cursed it. I would eventually be cold in the ground and know peace, but MTGO would never know the sweet embrace of infinity or whatever. The metaphysical type of infinity, not just the kind of infinite combos that usually cause MTGO to bug out like a Russian MiG at the end of Top Gun. It shows no signs of making any less money. The return of leagues are a small but important change toward playability. The Ixalan release had some bugs, but it went relatively alright.  And to be honest, the Magic Community would bitch and complain about just about any product put in front of them, which curbs WOTC’s incentive to improve it in anyway. Maybe my anger and frustration are misplaced. Maybe  I’m too tired to keep a thriving rage boner for a program that’s never stopped sucking in 15 years. Maybe, someday soon, it will be time to bury the hatchet and admit MTGO, for all it’s flaws, shoddy design, shortcuts and money-grabs, is overall a successful platform.

Today is not that day.  Because today I had to teach someone to play MTGO. A long time player of paper Magic, who was interested in drafting on demand, or testing decks more than once a week. A good friend of mine who asked me to show them how to get started on MTGO. And I looked at them, and I whispered “No. Not this one. They can be saved.”. And my friend, who has known me a very long time, made an elaborate jerking-off motion and told me to just show them how to play. So they paid their ten dollar account fee, the goddamn blood tax of a medieval goddamn era and they downloaded the program.

I explained to them how they’d been given cards, but nothing good. I explained to them how they’d been given “New Player Tickets” which would not last them enough events to truly figure out the interface. I explained the new player tickets would only allow 4-play drafts. “You can’t draft with 4-players, that’s like two person baseball.” said my friend, aghast. I nodded solemnly. Then they started playing and I began apologizing. For the clumsy design. The un-intuitive buttons. The frankly embarrassing sound and visual effects. I kept apologizing, but I wasn’t sympathetic. I wasn’t sorry. No, I was just an apologist. I love Magic. I want Magic to succeed, and so I fed it my friend. One day, maybe I’ll forgive myself, but for now I’ll have to settle for being honest.

I love Magic: Online. I play it all the time. I love being able to draft whenever I want. I love being able to play in huge events. I love being able to build decks without taking up every ounce of table space in my house. I love having my collection easily searchable, filterable and automatically organized. I love being able to buy any card I need, even at 2 in the morning. Magic: Online is a like a constant drip-feed stabbed into the arm of an addict – we might claim to hate it, but we never take out the needle. Magic: Online is broken, ugly and barely functions. Magic: Online is well past its’ prime and doesn’t deserve an ounce of any success it has known. MTGO rubs people the wrong way and its apologies are fumbling, self-conscious disasters. I don’t just love MTGO. I am MTGO. And MTGO is me. We’re the same. We deserve each other.

Branding…Banner…thing?

I guess, Magic: The Gathering is getting a new logo? And this is news. This is important to some people, I guess?  It’s changed 3 or 4 times over the years. It started Blue and has worked it’s way over to Orange, so I guess we’ve crossed the entire colour spectrum? Presumably our options are now to start doubling back to blue, or carrying on into infrared. Far be it from me to claim that I ever know what’s going inside WOTC, but it seems like this is an unfortunate side-effect of the folks in marketing being responsible for the press releases. God forbid they should put all this work into graphic design and font choice only for the stupid ignorant players to only care about things like card design, digital products and format health.

The way I see it, the Magic Community mostly rolled its’ eyes and patted WOTC on the head and said something to the effect of “Good Job, Champ, let’s get you a milkshake”. It was condescension, but only because our genuine response was complete and utter indifference. And believe me, WOTC, that’s what you wanted. The Magic community can basically only be united under the banner of apathy. You did NOT want to be responsible for 500 page threads of Magic players passionately and aggressively arguing the merits of your goddamn colour choices down to the freaking hex code. I only barely care about the card art and design, and that at least lets me recognize cards at a glance without reading them.

 

The shit you put on the packaging is goddamn meaningless. Not to make a second addiction reference in as many sections, but a heroin addict doesn’t care if you put the smack in fun colourful bags. An alcoholic will drink what you put in front of them, they aren’t usually big on brand loyalty. Experienced Magic players are mostly buying out of the secondary market or whole boxes based on a complicated EV calculation, (because Magic players like to feel smart even as they pay $120.00 for a bunch of cardboard). And new Magic players aren’t buying because of the shade of orange you spelled the word out in! They’re buying it because of experienced Magic players, who are pushing that shit the villain in a 90’s after school special. In fact, most Magic players get started when some other player gives them a bunch of draft chaff or space-taking commons. I can just see a guy with dark circles under his eyes, in a leather jacket, approaching a bunch of school kids,

“Hey man, you wanna try some Zendikar?”

My point is, maybe hold back on writing a bunch of cheques for graphic design in the future.

Commander 1v1 Bans

I’m Canadian, and I’m pretty sure it’s somewhere in the Proclamation of Dominion (it’s…it’s like our declaration of independence except without all the independence and issued by a Queen. I know that sounds weird, but we were happy with it. We liked the British, just go with me on this) that I’m obligated when discussing head to head Commander Duels that you could be playing Canadian Highlander instead and it’s better and go do that.  But until WOTC catches up with the hip and fashionable cultural relevance of Canada, some of you will be making due with 1v1 Commander, and it’s going to be a lot easier to have fun because they banned a bunch of tutors and Baral, Chief of Compliance. Which is good! Commander in my mind is an inherently crazy, silly and casual format.  But that’s not why this was done, Baral was just way too much of metagame. Which means that Commander 1v1 is being played at competitive level, which means you guys are doing it wrong. Again, if you want a 100-card singleton competitive format…we have that. Commander is for saying things like “I want to durdle around until I can put my Platinum Emperion behind Asceticism  and then spend 79 turns letting my Primordial Hydra double.  Or  casting Blasphemous Act into my Stuffy Doll to dome some poor bastard. There are plenty of places to play good Magic. I want to play stupid Magic.  I don’t want to feel smart. I want my opponent to feel angry. I want to lose friends and disillusion people. But that’s just me.

Lightning Round

Here are some quick one- to-two sentence observations, with no relevance to anything:

Unstable is all about mad science, but there’s purposefully no Izzet or Simic factions. But that means we’re 7 for 10 for creating all colour pairs as just mad scientists.

If you have hot anime chicks on  your card sleeves, I assume you’re bad person.

The Vampire Conquistadors of Ixalan are searching for a cure to their bloodlust in the Immortal Sun. Goddamnit WOTC, I warned you, this all ends with Chandra being seduced by a sexy Werewolf on Innistrad doesn’t it?

I don’t care what anyone says, The Scarab God isn’t getting banned. WOTC will just print an incredibly narrow but efficient hate card called something stupid like “Beetle Squash” or “There, please shut up now”.

If Dominaria ends up being “Time Spiral pt. 2” I really hope they do the whole “cheat the reserve list” thing again where they make some of the less exciting reserve list cards into different card types.

Magic: Arena still looks good, and still sounds stupid. I think it was originally called Magic Arena Online, but were worried about the short form of MAO.

 

That’s it for me, have a good week.

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