Hello again Magic Community,
Welcome once again to the Jester’s ReCap, a place to catch up on all the latest Magic News without trying very hard, so long as your standards are low enough. It’s been a slow stretch in Magic News as far as I can tell, but two weeks never goes by without the largest card game on earth making some waves. Shut up Poker! You don’t count, you’re public domain. Also, if it turns out Yu-Gi-Oh is more popular than Magic nobody tell me. I will hang myself in a my bedroom closet with a noose made out of my own tongue. World is going to hell in a hand-basket, I don’t need to lose any more faith in humanity.
Real quick, a reminder that this is always off the top of my head. Consider this “Holistic” or maybe “alternative” reporting on my part. And just like other “alternatives” such as medicine and facts, it’s just like the real stuff only without any value and containing mostly bullshit. Alright, we all clear on the rules? Let’s go into this with our eyes open.
Ahh, the end of a format doldrums. In my opinion, Dominaria had more staying power than most formats but in the end, MTGO grinds them all in to the dust. You know, I often say the only saving grace of MTGO is the ability to fire a draft at any time. Day or night, rain or shine, you can always get your fix. But the thing is, that’s not actually really all that great, is it? After all, draft formats aren’t built to be drafted ad infinitum. You cannot fit endless innovation into a finite set of cards. There was a time, or maybe even a current reality for some folks, where drafting was an event. You might get in 6 or 7 drafts in a whole format. Every time you’d get that hit of “new draft high” and excitement of having to go “whoa, wait, what does this do?” over at least a couple rares.
Now, a dedicated MTGO grinder probably puts their total drafts easily into triple digits, probably a fair bit more. The amount of data mined, the amount of play states analyzed has destroyed the elegant mystery of the draft. It’s like air travel. In the 60’s everyone could smoke and drink scotch in their Sunday best at a lofty 30,000 feet. Sure the whole “Stewardess” thing is sexist as shit and smoking in an air tight box seems like a great way to get cancer and die ugly, but don’t derail my metaphor. The point is, air travel was both a luxury and a rarity and so it garnered a certain amount of respect. Now, they literally call them “Air Buses” and they are filled to the brim with tired, anxious dregs who waited in line for 2 hours for the privilege of cramming themselves into rock-stiff plastic seats that still reek of whatever ungodly shit the passenger sitting there a couple hours before was covered in. MTGO robs Limited Magic of that same gravitas. A Magic draft isn’t your Friday night social event, filled with cocktails and airy laughter, it’s just a another shot of cheap hooch you picked up at 7-11. Open 24 hours! And all it cost you was any semblance of class.
Bolas Has a Good Story, but Should He?
So people are really coming around on this “Chronicle of Bolas” thing and they dig the quality and presentation of the story. I’m not feeling it, personally, but far be it from me to stand against the Hivemind. You guys are scary. So ok, I’ll concede the point that these stories are good ones, and well-written. I do have some concerns, though.
See, it’s generally not a good idea to do too much delving into a villain’s past. Villains who have stories have motivations, which is good. Vital, actually since villains are almost always the proactive movers and shakers that drive a story. Heroes, by nature, tend to be reactive. Villains who have more story than that might have sympathetic qualities, which all the best villains do. Watching evil twist its way out of a place of understandable weakness is a story we never get tired of watching. However, villains whom you watch grow up from an infant and whose lives, desires and flaws you know intimately? They’re called anti-heroes and they make really shitty villains.
It’s one thing if Nicol Bolas is going to turn out to be the Good Guy. I’ve floated this theory before — the Doctor Doom Hypothesis that Bolas is only looking to conquer the Multiverse because he’s protecting it from something worse, or because he knows through some divination or forewarning that he absolutely has to. Now he’s in full anti-hero protagonist mode and we can make that work. Nobody thinks Frank Castle or Moon Knight would be a fun guy to get drinks with, nobody is even really sure they’re justified in what they do, but we sure as shit do cheer when they mince the bad guys into meat chunks. They sure are dark and compelling. It wouldn’t be perfect, to take Bolas in this direction, but what I really fear is worse.
It’s another thing if Nicol Bolas is just an asshole who wants to rule everything and we’re getting an inside peek at his origin story. We don’t NEED that! Every player in Magic already thought Nicol Bolas was a bad-ass Elder Dragon God-Thing and we all loved his goddamn wings off. One of the first things I ever wrote was a detailed explanation of why we all thought Nicol Bolas was the goddamn Emperor of Beating the GateWatch within an inch of their whiny, self-absorbed WB-style melodrama lives. We knew he was strong, and tough, and always two steps ahead. We knew he was evil, and had a rival in Ugin and had a Master Plan with many intricate pieces. He was an effective and respected villain. And given Wizard’s complete inability to keep villains around in this game, they should have really stuck with that plan! You start poking at this with a stick, and suddenly the next time Bolas is bitch-slapping Gideon around like a Raggedy Andy doll with a steroid problem, will I be distracted? Will I be thinking “He’s just working out his anger because Cynthia didn’t take him to Dragon Prom”? We don’t need it spelled out Wizards, just let bad guys be bad!
Card-Warp Time Elapse
So a guy on Reddit called “BytesInFlight” posted a video of a cards warping in real time. Just a couple hours. This is not news, or even really a big deal, but I’m shocked it took this long for more of these videos to pop up. This one is good too, and really clearly illustrates the problem. The problem, I’ll remind you, Wizards completely denies the existence of. It’s infuriating, and it stays with me all the time. It feels less and less like run of the mill PR-speak and more and more like someone lying to my face.
And I’m more sympathetic than most! If you don’t have a solution, or even really know the root cause, addressing this early only tightens the bind you find yourself in. Better to play it cool. Better to have your ducks in a row. But this is not a new problem any more, and we’re still hearing about how “nothing has changed” in how cards are printed. Son of a bitch, stop gas-lighting me, Wizards. Just fix the damn cards! And you know, dicks, or something. I dunno, I forgot to put a joke in this part.
National Pro Points At Worlds
This story is primarily about competitive Magic and the only thing I’m competitive at is my fantastic time in the “100m lose-a-draft”, so forgive me if I’m a bit out of my element. The short version is, somebody buggered up the way pro points from Nationals are only going to count up to August 5th of this year. But a fair number of countries aren’t holding their Nationals until after that date. So…I guess, go screw yourself Belarus, Chile, China, Ireland, New Zealand, South Korea, Latvia, Malta, Norway, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Argentina, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Germany, Malaysia, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Finland, Paraguay, Brazil, Greece, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Turkey and like 20 others. Holy shit, WOTC, that’s gotta be some kind of record. Who pisses off a dozen counties in every hemisphere in one decision?
No one is suggesting that wracking up Pro Points has ever been weighted for anything other than North American dominance, and no one is pretending that this affects the majority of players but this was not a hard thing to get right. Pro points count or they don’t. The last time this many countries were all pissed about the same thing, Germany was invading Poland. That is not good company, Wizards!
And that’s it for me. Be sure to leave hateful, angry comments about what a piece of shit I am in the comments. Or good stuff too, but you know, it’s the internet. I know my odds. You wanna know something exciting? Next time will be my one year anniversary of writing this column. I plan on celebrating the only way I know how, a loose recap of stuff that already happened.