Hello again Magic Community,

Welcome back to the Jester’s ReCap, that thing I do because screaming opinions about Magic into the dark void of the night tends to piss off the neighbours. Plus, my voice breaks like a 14-year-old’s and I sounds all wheezy. It’s just awful.  So instead, I gather up what little I can remember of the past two weeks, condense it for easy consumption and fire it out into the much larger, much darker, void of the internet.  I actually played a fair bit of MTGO these past couple weeks, and I greatly enjoyed the Uncommon Cube. I continue to find Dominaria an interesting enough draft format. I think returning to Kamigawa will be fun if only to relive a brief period in Magic‘s history where a three-mana 2/2 required a drawback. All that play though has definitely charged up my hate batteries, so let’s get to it:

MTGO Sucks

Whenever I want to go easy on MTGO, I go back to my mantra. It’s a simple list which I repeat monotonously while flailing myself every morning and atoning for my numerous and creatively executed sins. If you have a Cat O’Nine Tails and a masochistic streak, you can join in at home. Try to get a good rhythm going where each blow hurts fresh, and isn’t covering up the lingering pain of the previous strike. Then repeat after me:

 

  1. It Costs Ten Dollars per Account

*WHACK*

2. Dozens of cards don’t work and will never be fixed.

*WHACK*

3. It’s Ugly. A Blemish of Design which makes me feel uncomfortable the whole time I’m using it.

*WHACK*

4. It’s a resource hogging, slog of a program to use. Slow enough to make me feel impatient the whole time I’m using it.

*WHACK*

5. It bugs out, makes cards the wrong colour, puts them in the wrong place and has entire mechanics which don’t function properly.

*WHACK*

6. It does all this in 2018, an era in which any kid with access to Unity, a few asset packs, and enough spare time can make a functional “game” even if it’s not one I’d want to play. And it does all this with the financial backing of Hasbro, the largest remaining toy company.

*WHACK*

7. I play it anyway. That’s why I deserve this pain. Because I’m too weak to live without this suffering. Because I don’t deserve to be happy. Because the Universe doesn’t care about me.

At that point I usually can’t lift the flail anymore and the tears and sobbing have started to take over, so I start to freestyle. A little dry heaving. A little fetal position, maybe with some rocking back and forth. Maybe some primal screams, maybe some faint deranged whispering. It’s a personal touch kind of thing. Keep it loose, have fun with it.

M19 Spoilers

Core Sets are back! For those of you who don’t remember, way, way back in the year…2015… we had these things called Core Sets. They were simplified sets meant to be good entry points for newer players and interesting draft formats which were not tied to a particular plane for established players. They also worked as good “bridge” sets to help mesh disparate mechanics between two potentially very different sets.  If you had zombies-matter cards in April, and that summer they released a zombie mythic that cared about when lands were getting played, hey Maybe landfall was coming back. Or you know, something like that but less stupid. Core sets were retired for a whole whopping two years after Magic Origins, and now they’re back. I’ll talk about the few cards we know about in a minute, but first…

Wizards, there’s a perhaps over-simplified rule in life called “Fake it, ’til You Make it”. The idea of that premise is that sometimes you just have to smile and and act like you know what you’re doing. Because people respond to confidence, and confidence begets greater opportunity to experiment, learn and improve. It can absolutely blow up in your face, but if you work hard and you’re competent, you usually get the hang of whatever you’re faking before people notice what a lying fraud you are.

You are not faking it, and you are not inspiring confidence. Leaving aside the practically emergency bannings in Standard, the outright bald-faced denials of any Card Stock Issues, the questionable but not indefensible last couple Master’s sets, and a few other odds and ends issues, you are all over the place in your “Big Picture” plan. Blocks are two sets now… oh no wait, Block Structure is dead, but we’re doing an entire year on Ravnica? Core Sets are gone, but then just like that they’re back. Booster Box promo cards were controversial…so we’re doing them again. Masterpieces were great at driving booster sales, until it became apparent we had no plan for how to do them long term and had to slam on the breaks. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop and you guys to announce you no longer make a card game; you now produce limited-edition Pogs and Crazy Bones.

I get that you are making it up as you go along. Every creative person, team and company basically is. The trick, Wizards, that any Billion-Dollar Empire should probably have caught on to by now, is that you’re not supposed to look like it. How can people as smart, dedicated, and talented as the team you have over there, (And to any armchair designers/internet bitchwads like me who want to dispute it, these people ARE that smart and talented. I mean it, they’re amazing, I will fight you) how can you be flailing this obviously? How can you lack any professionalism, polish or performative element that lets you keep a veneer of control? Basically, where’s the presentation? Learn to fake it a little more, guys.

Ok, so cards:

“Apex of Power”

Basically, pay 10 mana, get 10 mana of one colour, and draw 7. It’s got a bunch of bells and whistles that make it harder to break than what I just said, but that’s the gist. This is the kind of card that Brawl has become a orphanage for after every other set puts it in a basket and then lets it float down a river. Saffron Olive will probably get a good Against the Odds out of it, I guess. It won’t have any eternal format impact though, because for ten mana you could just cast Omniscience. I do love the idea of someone drawing 7 burn spells with this and torching their opponent for 21, but that would mean putting a ten-mana spell in a burn deck. That’s not funny, that’s just sad. It’s like a one-legged rabbit that just keeps hopping in circles.

“Wall of Mist”

0/5 Defender for 1U, in case you “Mist” it… Aha. Ha. …shut up. This card isn’t worthy of a real joke.

“Sovereign’s Bite”

Playtest name “Alms of the Vein but more boring”

“Skyscanner”

You know what Magic was missing? Quadcopter drones. The last set had a robotic pet owl, but sure, let’s downgrade to something I could buy right now, on Amazon.

Great Designer Search 3 Rolls On

The Art Challenge was lame. Right? I can’t be the only one who thought so. After a strong start with the Tribal thing, and an amusing if somewhat repetitive time on Circus-theme “Bigtopia”, and a definitely important “Can you Design a Keyword” test (Turns out none of our contestants can), we spent some time matching card designs to art.

That seems really backwards to me, although I do know that “spot-filling” is super important to how Wizard’s designs sets, so that part at least was practical and interesting to see. I always figured artists were commissioned to produce card art after most of the set was finished, but what the hell do I know from out here in the cheap seats?

The real story here is Maro and the other judges being absolutely savage with the competitors in the last couple rounds. The happy-friendly, “you’re all winners for getting this far” schtick is slowly but surely giving way to “Not as easy as it looks, is it assholes?” Bitterness. I dig it. WOTC takes a ton of shit from us, and I count myself proudly in that group, but they don’t get many opportunities to smack us around. They’re a billion-dollar company and they have to sit there and take it, mostly. The only way they get to see us suffer is by completely ignoring us. This is more direct. A bunch of people who think they can be Magic Designers getting a dressing down from the pros that often strays from “constructive” to “I get what you were trying to do, but it wasn’t worth doing AND you failed AND you suck AND I hate you.” I also like how Rules Advisor Eli Shiffrin likes to passively aggressively ask designers, “Is that what you want?” Once he explains how their inadequate grasp of the rules will lead to absolute hell-on-earth chaos in an actual game of Magic.

Eli: Now, if this trigger actually resolves the way it’s written and their opponent controls more than two enchanted creatures, the game actually creates a temporal paradox. Is that what you want?

Idiot Designer: So it’ll draw the game?

Eli: No, I mean, a genuine temporal paradox. Time will bend, Matter will break, the Universe will shatter and we will all be cast screaming into the space between realities. Is that what you want?

Idiot Designer: Well, I just thought…

Eli: You are playing with fundamental forces beyond your ken, and you are going to doom us all to Oblivion. IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT?

Dominaria Story Concludes – Spoilers Ahead

Cliff notes version – the plan goes according to…uh..itself. The Weatherlight crew fights past what feels like every black legendary creature in the set that wasn’t already on the crew, Gideon and Chandra find Radha for the Vorthos in the audience who care and Belzenlok met a fate so dull and uninteresting I’m already regretting learning to spell his ridiculous name correctly. It was fun that Yargle got to make an appearance; Wizards clearly knew that one was going to be meme-candy, but in the end it just felt like Martha Wells had told most of the story she had wanted to and then in the last chapter still had a checklist of bad guys to include somewhere.

Liliana‘s story is supposed to be our emotional center here but it doesn’t actually go anywhere. She admits to herself that Belzenlok using Josu against her did bother her, but since every other character, and the entire audience, already knew that, it doesn’t feel like a revelation. It doesn’t even feel like relief, like “finally” because she’s even done a poor job hiding it from herself. Then she uses the Blackblade to drain the demon to death. Which was exactly the plan they came up with 4 chapters ago, the only twist being that the Demon was holding the sword at the moment it happened. Which…sure, ok? Was that not how the Blackblade was always supposed to work? Then everyone pats themselves on the back, the Gatewatch plus Karn gears up to go jump Bolas, and Planeswalks off Dominaria. The Weatherlight Crew decides to take a “curbstomp our remaning enemies” victory lap around the plane. Liliana is about to leave with the others and — GASP! — in a completely predictable outcome, killing all the Demons leaves her completely in Nicol Bolas’ power. Shocker.

How could that have been the most obvious goddamn thing in the entire world! It was written on your body, Lili. Your eternally young, nubile body, that you are supposedly vainly obsessed with.  Most girls I know can’t stop picking apart their own imagined imperfections. They know which elbow they think is uglier on their own body. I’m supposed to believe a woman who cut a pact with 4 demons so she could look good forever never read the fine print carved into her own skin? Bullshit.

It’s cool that when she doesn’t show up, Jace figures it’s totally normal and that she betrayed them. It’s nice that he acts more resigned than hurt. It’s bizarre that he’s the only one, but whatever — the others did just fight side by side with Lili in a major battle. Now I want to see Vraska and Lili both as underlings to Nicol Bolas constantly out-bitching each other. The only shame is Vraska can’t remember her romance with Jace so she can’t throw it in Lili’s face. Sadly, we’re probably a few sets away from it becoming an all out “DeGrassi High: Planeswalker edition”. Or maybe “Days of Our Lives” is more appropriate. Either way, it’s going to be awful and it’s coming.

And that’s it for me folks, GDS will probably wrap up by next article, and I look forward to seeing how that turns out. Remember, only your comments sustain me. Well, that and the flail.

 

 

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