Thursday, February 15, 2018

Social Capital

This essay by Thea Miller on making a better place to play stood out to me as a very good essay.

I was especially drawn to this passage:

Women in Magic have a marked lack of social capital, which is the interpersonal relationships, networks, resources, and other social assets of a society or group that can be used to gain advantage and mobility

because let me tell you as someone who has difficulty asking strangers if they want to play, while also using this same game as a way to get to know people, I get a very, very tiny taste of how challenging that might be for a woman who wants to play.

If I feel weird and nervous and challenged by things that are 98% in my own head, how much more difficult is it for someone who might have some internal pressures but then is now being given the business by someone else?

Unreasonably difficult. And there's really no reason for that.

I know I'm personally grateful that I've been in environments that, so far, have seemed really welcoming to everyone but I know that's just my experience. I hope that's been everyone's.

So let's remember to be nice out there.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Something Had To Give

After making some minor adjustments to Sygg's army of the undead, I ran it through the analyzer at With a commander deck, those tools are just incredibly useful for getting a snapshot of what's going on.

The data, coupled with a weekend of perpetual goldfishing, lined up: I didn't have enough black mana in the deck, and I could use some better answers.

These changes, including the addition of Phyrexian Delver and Leechridden Swamp, gave me another problem, though: the deck came well over $50. I'm not going to argue over $0.31 but the issue is that if the deck is $51 and I'm thinking, 'well, that's OK because...' then where do I draw the line?

So what do I do? I look at the analysis and see what's expensive that can be cut. It didn't take long for me to conclude that Door of Destinies should go.

Yes, it's amazing and yes, with a deck like zombies that has some light recursion, the possibilities for DoD get crazy.

It's also a $5 card and removing it for Capsize, a $0.20 means I can increase the answers in my deck while also easily staying under the $50 target.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Design Contest

My friend Sean entered into the Great Designer Search 3, but unfortunately he didn't get past the testing round.

Their loss is your gain, though, as he decided to publish the answers to their essay questions on his blog.

Since he's employed as a game designer, it's pretty cool to get a window into what he thinks of as Magic's biggest strengths, weaknesses and hurdles.

Reading his essay, I can't help but come up with a couple points of agreement and contention, for example: yes, vehicles are quite intuitive and a great way to amplify the visual aspect of a new plane. Vehicles on Ixalan do not resemble anything on Kaladesh.

On the other hand: expanding artifact capabilities helps two colors: white (which can sometimes use a boost) and blue (which perpetually needs to be kept in check), while creating a greater demand for artifact destruction that is generally lacking in the density or utility required in red and green, and absent in black.

Then there are other points that only someone with his expertise could actually articulate, such as the response to Magic's greatest weakness.

All in all, I dig it, so check it out.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018


Tests with Lauriel went about as I should've expected them to. I got run over by her Ghave deck, and there wasn't a heck of a lot I could do about it.

The mana situation? I mean...look at all that mana I have! 12 lands. I should be able to cast everything and more. Instead, I just kinda died on the vine.

So, I took another look at Sygg and saw part of the problem: I really half-assed it when it came time to upgrade. To be specific: All the cards that had to be three mana or less because of Tiny Leaders rules I just kept in there, instead of developing the deck for the Commander format.

On the other hand; that's why I'm writing the series! So, remove: Perplex, Dimir Doppleganger, Black Cat, Gravepurge, and Dominating Licid

Testing: Dregs of Sorrow, Gravedigger (which should've been in here to start), Lord of the Accursed, Bontu's Monument, and Life's Finale

The issue here is that it takes the deck to just a smidge over $50. 31 cents over.

I think I can live with that. Let's test it out.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Best Intentions

Apparently, when I was testing sixty card decks, I needed to go to the Tonic wanting to play Commander. Because this is the second week in a row where I have gone there hoping to play Commander and ended up playing sixty card decks.

One guy even recognized me and told me he was thrilled to play some of his other decks, because everyone was so focused on Commander there.

So there's that.

Don't get me wrong: it was a pretty productive evening. I lost a fair share of games but I think I've got a solid handle on why I lost them.

I also ran the same decks as last week: Fenix and Hope and a wayback machine deck, 1000 Shards.

Jeeze: I've been doing this for six years! Go me!

I did get a Commander game in last night against Sasha, playing Arahbo, and it did not go well. I had the mana, but I did not have the ability to match against that deck's sheer power. A creature hooked up with Argentum Armor and boom. That was it. I had the mana to do something about it, I just didn't have anything else.

Now on one hand; budget deck, so that's to be expected.

On the other: this represents an interesting problem that Sygg is going to have all the time.I wonder how I will be able to solve it.

And by that I mean: what method will work. Not 'how can I possibly'.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

I Blame Myself

In a four player game, it is probably unwise to use your mass removal too soon. But I did that because Caitlin was running the board over with tokens so it made sense. So I cast Fade Away. It worked, and I was able to take out multiple creatures not just of Caitlin's but of Noah and Matt's too.

Then I had to deal with a game that ran over an hour and looked like this:

What a zoo. I don't know that I should've waited but I'm definitely responsible for some of this.

With a Maze of Ith on Matt's board, I swung at Noah with a zombie he couldn't block (so I could draw a card off of Sygg) and a Polluted Dead that would certainly die to his Hydra Omnivore. My intention: to get this game kicked into gear. Either the Omnivore eats a form of removal or we start dying off.

Noah didn't see it that way: he used Aetherspouts to not take any damage. And the game went on.

Now, I don't like telegraphing my plans. I feel like that's unfair-ganging up on someone. Also, I like drawing cards.

But if I'm going to stop and think: What is my end goal (to attack with my creatures) and I need help accomplishing it, then I'd best go about it clearly. Being obvious and just attacking Noah with the Polluted Dead and someone else with the other creature might've helped make that clearer.

Either way: I gave Noah the stink-eye for his play and I shouldn't've. I made those choices without considering what he might be after and yeah, go figure he didn't want to take four damage and let me draw a card.

On the upside, I can say that I saw the error of my ways sooner than I usually do so I'll take that accomplishment.

The unfortunate part is that I didn't learn a lot about the deck. Lifebane Zombie seems meh, except for the intimidate part. One run through just isn't enough for me to say for sure, though. Fuz took a look at it and suggested Undead Alchemist which is one of those 'that's crazy but it just might work' ideas. There isn't a lot of support for what the Alchemist does coming from the rest of the deck, but it's weird and the price point doesn't break the bank.

It's just too soon to say what would be best.

Thursday, January 25, 2018


I went to the Tonic on Monday with the full intention of testing out Sygg, River Cutthroat, but I arrived late and multiple games were already in session.

To make things more complicated, there was a band performing in the stage room. What this really meant was that whenever there was time between songs, people were coming out to get a beer-which isn't a problem, except for all the stage fog they were letting into the area.

Magic is a difficult enough games as it is; playing in low light and fog? I suppose it would've made for a great Innistrad draft but for everything else it's a bit of a bummer.

So I didn't get to play Sygg. But I did meet a couple of nice fellows who were playing what they called 'Kitchen Table Magic' and they were OK with playing a few rounds so I pulled out Rize of the Fenix (which lost to mono-W humans because I kept a terrible hand), Hope is a Passenger (won against a G/B thing that never seemed to come together) and Mobile Shooting Gallery, which has recently undergone some revisions because of Ixalan's Ripjaw Raptor.

I've been trying to get MSG to be more consistent: What does it lose to? Wrath effects and countermagic. So more Spellbreaker Behemoth, Elemental Bond over Kavu Lair along with the Raptor to keep my threats on board and...testing it out to see how it goes.

I went 1-1 against affinity, so I feel pretty good about that but I'd really like a game three.

Next week, I hope. Or Commander games! Either is good by me.