Re: “Why Leaks Hurt”

oath bannerAs I’ve written about before, Oath of the Gatewatch was subject to perhaps the single biggest leak since the godbook of New Phyrexia was released online. For those who don’t recall, the “godbook” is a full spoiler sent out to those in need of preview info on sets, i.e. magazines etc., and the then-world champion Guillaume Matignon, who wrote for the french Magic magazine “Lotus Noir” shared his godbook with a friend, who shared it with a friend, who leaked it online. An article on this can be found here on the Mothership.

This time around, all of the Mythic Rares from Oath of the Gatewatch were leaked online, in a thread on Reddit, and it has sparked some outcry from the community – some feel robbed of their spoiler season. Others are discussing the mythics, as is.

dewdropspy.fullTrick Jarret wrote a response to the leak, commenting on why it’s bad, in an article on the Mothership entitled “Why Leaks Hurt“. He makes a few points, but overall, I’d call the article quite bad. In fact, I wanted to take a few moments and dissect some of the worst things he states in the article, for the sake of fairness. The article, overall, comes across as quite whiny in my book.

There is a natural struggle between players and Wizards when it comes to knowing the game’s future. Magic‘s entire premise is that of constant change, and this tantalizing premise creates a constant tension between our storytelling and players wanting to know what comes next.

I agree on this point almost entirely, to be honest, and this lets us define the roles for the two players in this opposition: it is the role of Wizards to keep shit under locks until spoiler season officially begins, and it is the role of the community (the parts that wants to know, that is) to find out stuff beforehand. The ball is, as I see it, entirely in Wizards’ court; in the latest leak someone has taken photographs of actual real, physical cards. This means that someone who shouldn’t have gotten their hands on the cards got their hands on the cards, it’s that simple.

Let’s face it – Wizards makes a damn good game, it’s alluring to find stuff out beforehand, and Wizards just can’t blame people for wanting to know stuff about their game. It makes absolutely no sense.

As a person who used to run a fan site that would occasionally leak something, I know the lure for content creators. Leaks draw traffic and they give you something new to talk about. But let’s get one thing straight: leaks aren’t journalism. Publishing leaks is purely self-serving, looking out for the good of yourself and your ego.

Leaks aren’t journalism because there is no cover-up. There’s no secret exposé about the working conditions of goblins on Ravnica, or the water quality on Zendikar, or the climate change on Mirrodin (though that one might have something). Leaks are all things that the public will find out eventually. There’s no conspiracy being unraveled, just something new revealed through the theft of intellectual property. That’s right, theft. If we didn’t give it to you and say “Show this,” then you are stealing something from Wizards of the Coast and the Magic community.

goblinspy.fullLet’s get another thing straight – leaks are definitely journalism. The fact that this journalism presents content in a different context than was intended by the content creator doesn’t take away the fact that this is journalism, at least as far as journalism goes when it comes to Magic. To make an analogy – if president Obama was to hold a speech in the future, about huge changes in, say, the American welfare system, and New York Times got a hold of a first draft of this jaw-dropping speech – if they report on it, is it not journalism because they didn’t wait to hear the speech from the president himself? Of course it is.

Further, the fact that Jarret is trying to call out people reporting on the leaks with a few unsubtle ad homenim-attacks does not make him right in any way. It comes off as petty, honestly.

Would you go on your friend’s Facebook page and announce a pregnancy if you found a positive pregnancy test in their bathroom? No, that would make you a terrible human being! Because it’s not your news to give, and when the world gets to know it is up to that person and their significant other.

Here, Jarret confuses private information (pregnancy) with information regarding a product from a huge company. If I got hold of a picture of an iPhone 7 and posted that on the internet, would that be as bad as revealing an acquaintance’s pregnancy? Of course not, a company is not a personal friend, and the analogy is absurd.

Our policy has and continues to be that we simply don’t discuss leaks. Go read the article from then-Magic Marketing Director Kyle Murray to learn about the problem we were facing even back then, over thirteen years ago. Confirming or disproving a leak may solve the problem in the short term, but it creates a bigger problem in that it can force us to acknowledge each and every rumor. And then when we decide not to comment, it becomes an even bigger deal.

This seems like a fair and stable policy and in my opinion. It makes sense and it’s a clear policy.

Make no mistake, we take leaks very seriously. We always investigate leaks with our internal teams as well as external partners to figure out where and how the leaks happened. We have and will continue to not just ban leakers from the DCI and cancel their Planeswalker Points accounts, but pursue whatever criminal and civil actions necessary to protect our intellectual property and the Magic community.

eyespy.fullRight, it’s one thing to be sour about a leak. I understand that, I really do. By profession, I’m a teacher, and I can get salty if a lesson I’ve been working hard on gets ruined by one or more pupils simply refusing to take part, or even disturb the class. In a worst-case scenario, I might’ve spent four or five hours planning. I can’t imagine if months of work gets ruined by leakers.

That said, outright threats of expulsion from the competitive side of the community is not the proper way to go.

Leaks create an unfair advantage as—because they do not go out over official channels—they are not as widely distributed to less-enfranchised players, thus creating an unfair advantage for some players.

I don’t see how this is relevant in this case – what was spoiled was the expeditions and the mythics, which will have some impact on limited play, but not a whole lot compared to the playable commons. The constructed players will easily have their chance to look at the official spoiler before their first constructed event, leak or no leak.

So if we can’t design a game that is leak-proof, our only other option is to work hard to prevent leaks. Which we do. We follow rigorous security protocols to ensure assets don’t sneak outside the building. So when you see a leak online, what you are seeing is theft, and we have an obligation to pursue and punish those engaged in that activity.

edric,spymasteroftrest.fullThis is a good thing, and it is part of Wizards’ job. Apparently, these security measures failed this time around – and my point is that the blame should probably be placed on Wizards’ security protocol, not on the parts of the community that leaked it, or parts of the community spreading it (like I).

Granted, I don’t know what happened in this case, but I hope we’ll find out eventually. In the case of New Phyrexia, it is a clear breach of trust between the company and a single person – until something like this is clearly proven, I have to assume the breach is internal. There’s no reason to believe outside people should have a hold of physical cards this early, and thus, the blame has to be placed on Wizards.

The community can’t be blamed for liking content from the company, and a spoiler of this magnitude creates not only traffic for a site, but also prestige and attention, two very human desires.

We’re humans, Jarret. Stop being petty about that, and work for a tighter ship instead. It usually works just fine, why didn’t it this time?

[OGW] RW land is a fake

oath bannerThe RW folkland I included in my spoilers post yesterday was debunked months ago on Reddit. No idea why it resurfaced now.

It is, as suspected, a fake indeed – which is a shame since I kinda liked it.

My apologies, nonetheless.

[C15] Spoiler-less

city of shakarI just spent the better part of an hour scouring the Rumour Mill on MTGsalvation, trying to find at least a single post that didn’t contain baseless speculation and/or horribly designed cards that will never get printed. I failed. For the last five pages of the thread (I won’t even link it, because MTGS is shit), here’s what’s the hot topic of the day is:

  • How there’s no spoilers.
  • How BG should be an Infect deck.
  • How Commander is not a competitive format.

All three points obviously unimportant topics of discussion. MTGS is literally the cess-pool of the MTG community online. 47 pages of discussion about two (2) spoiled cards – the rest complete garbage.

Yes, I’m bitter – but mostly at WotC not spoiling anything until next Monday.

The deck that never was

dig through time bannerDing dong, another one bites the dust, etc…

Announcement Date: September 28, 2015
Effective Date: October 2, 2015
Magic Online Effective Date: October 7, 2015

Legacy:
Dig Through Time is banned.
Black Vise is unbanned.

Vintage:
Chalice of the Void is restricted.
Dig Through Time is restricted.
Thirst for Knowledge is unrestricted.

Source: The Mothership.

I stated yesterday here that I was going to attend a Legacy event for the first time since forever. Well, this was the main deck that I sleeved up on Sunday night. Might’ve been foolish, but it didn’t actually cross my mind that the banning announcement was today.

Castlevania (“Burg” is German for “castle”, get it?)

4 Flooded Strand
3 Polluted Delta
2 Misty Rainforest
4 Wasteland
2 Tropical Island
2 Underground Sea
2 Volcanic Island

4 Deathrite Shamandigthroughtime.full
4 Delver of Secrets
3 Tarmogoyf
1 Snapcaster Mage

4 Brainstorm
4 Ponder
3 Dig Through Time
1 Sylvan Library

4 Daze
4 Force of Will
3 Spell Pierce

4 Lightning Bolt
2 Abrupt Decaye

 

So yeah, it was probably pretty broken anyway, and I can’t say that I’m bitter. In my humble opinion, OmniShow was a lot better at abusing Dig Through Time than Delver ever was. It’s a shame, however, that the deck looks like a blast to play. I guess I have some re-thinking to do for Saturday, huh.

What do you think of the new bannings? Leave a comment!

Things that worry me in Battle for Zendikar

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Battle for Zendikar has been fully spoiled and I have to say I’m not excited wholeheartedly. I was skeptical towards Khans of Tarkir as well at first, but that turned out awesome, so I won’t judge the set before I get my hands on it. That said, there are a few things that worry me in the set.

1. (Some of) the mechanics seem to be parasitic.dominatordrone
A parasitic mechanic, as defined by Mark Rosewater in an article on the mothership, is a mechanic that doesn’t blend well with other mechanics and other cards. I find more than one examples of this in Battle for Zendikar. Ingest has synergy with cards within the set, but will probably not be relevant outside Battle for Zendikar limited, and maybe Standard. Devoid, or rather “colourless matters” is a more broad mechanic in general, since there are lots of colourless cards outside Battle for Zendikar. Rally, the keyword for the Ally enters the battlefield triggers is at least less parasitic than it was in original Zendikar block, since bonuses from allies are granted all of your creatures these days, not just your other allies. That said, in order to re-trigger these abilities you need more allies, a creature type confined to the blocks set on Zendikar, and that’s excluding Rise of the Eldrazi, in which they are inexplicalby absent.

heroofgomafada.full2. The limited format seems wide open.
This isn’t a problem intrinsicly, since open limited formats are a lot more interesting than “on-rails” drafts in closed formats, but even so – having a limited format with very little direction is daunting to me as an irregular Limited player. Aside the blatant Allies deck and maybe some Eldrazi ramp/colourless matters (though the ramp isn’t very rampy, frankly) deck, I don’t see a clear direction. Granted, I’m a really bad Limited player, but I have played Magic for more than fifteen years. I can’t imagine how confused beginners would be, sitting down at a Battle for Zendikar draft table.

3. The Eldrazi are pretty awful villains.wastelandstrangler.full
To kill, to consume, to move on. Eldrazi motivations carry about as much relatability and weight as the Tyranids from the Warhammer 40k universe – which is approaching zero. I’m quite sure that Wizards has designed the Eldrazi to feel strange and alien, and when it comes to the whole “First I put the cards from your library to exile, then I put them in your graveyard from there” does a good job at conveying that, but it turns the Eldrazi into nothing more than a force of nature. Conflict between lopsided sides when it comes to sympathy makes for dull storytelling. Nissa, Jace, Gideon et al might as well try and put out the greatest forest fire in Zendikar history – because that’s essentially what the Eldrazi are, they are a very hard to put out forest fire. Compared to conflicts between sides that have no clear “good” or “evil” alignment – say House Tyrell and House Lannister from George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, the Battle for Zendikar falls quite short. With stories with clear “evil” villains, I much prefer relatable villains with understandable motivations over Eldrazi, or Tyranids. This is Vorthos, but Wizards is banking a lot of Vorthos these days, and some players do care.

4. The low power level compared to Khans.akoumfirebird.full
Again, not an intrinsic problem, since power is relative. That said, Battle for Zendikar will spend some time in the sun together with Khans of Tarkir block, which has a generally high power level. My fear is that the cards in the new set will be overshadowed by the older cards, and I have a sense that we will se a lot more Siege Rhinos than Eldrazi on camera during the Standard portion of Pro Tour: Battle for Zendikar.

As I said, these are just my worries about the set, and I might be completely wrong. Reading the spoiler doesn’t get me excited for anything though bar a few of the EDH goodies they crammed into the set.

Zendikar, like Tarkir, seems like a world that was a lot more interesting before the big baddies took over.

The path of addiction

One minute you’re thinking “I’ll just build an EDH deck to bring along to tournaments in case there are delays or so” and the next thing you know, you’re out of usable deck boxes capable of storing 100 cards.

deckbox

Plastic bag deck box is love, plastic bag deck box is life.

 

Pascal Maynard’s way to #MakeMagicHistory

mmgoyfbanner

This past weekend, Magic players from all over the world gathered in Chiba, Utrecht and Las Vegas for Modern Masters Weekend, an event severely hyped by Wizards beforehand, and during the weekend, with the Twitter hashtag #MakeMagicHistory. I, obviously, wasn’t able to partake due to work and family and everything detailed in the post below, I elected to play an FNM instead. Not bad.

In any case, GP: Las Vegas was so large it had to be broken up into two separate tournaments, and in one of them, Pascal Maynard made Top 8, and in the Top 8, his pick one of pack two stirred a storm of more or less tongue-in-cheek critique from some pros:

Meynard was draftin RW Aggro, and obviously wasn’t going to play a Tarmogoyf in his deck, but he still money-drafted it, like a boss. He picked it over a Burst Lightning, which later was the card he lost to in his quarterfinals match. The critique storm followed:

All of these, by the way, have been tweeted or re-tweeted by Owen Turtenwald. The community, on the other hand, seems to be more upset with the pros tearing Meynard a new one over his money drafting shenanigans. Reading the #GoyfGate feed on Twitter is both hilarious and sad at the same time, and Meynard himself has had to post an “apology” on Facebook. I sincerely hope that the harsh language used by these pros are mostly jesting in a way I as an outside don’t understand, but at the end of the day, if that isn’t the case, then I know which side I would pick for calling someone “a disgrace”. No matter his reasons, Meynard picked the Tarmogoyf, it was awesome to see, and he did indeed #MakeMagicHistory.

Meynard is auctioning off the Tarmogoyf in question on eBay. At the time of writing, the highest bid is $2,275,00, a pretty price for the card that’s now part of (infamous) Magic history. He is also donating half of that to charity.

Guess who I think is the bigger person of #GoyfGate?

The problems with playgroups

tasigur banner

I spent Monday night playing EDH with some friends who I usually don’t play EDH with, which is always a complete blast. This night, I brought a deck I recently put together – Tasigur, the Golden Fang, who I myself wrote down wrote off as too durdly in my preview post of him. All bad feelings regarding him went completely out the window when I happened to open a copy of him in my Dragons of Tarkir sealed pool, and naturally, I had to build a deck around him. He did really, really well.

The deck can be seen here: You go, Tasigurl! on TappedOut.net.tasigur

The deck is obviously not tuned to any given metagame, since I more or less just threw together the good BUG cards I had, and with the tuck countermagic replaced by other similar cards, I was ready to at least take Tasigur for a spin around town, and boy did he spin.

Tasigur is followed by some cards that I have described as problematic before – Time Warp, Exsanguinate, and Rite of Replication to be specific, but since I had no idea what to expect from the metagame in question, I figured that the gloves were off. I wasn’t about to be outdone by somebody else at the table, and this is where I sorely failed.

Problems arose when the others showed up, a couple of people had preconstructed decks, some had just put together decks from draft leftovers, some had pieced together decks more aligned with my own from EDH staples. We played mostly three man pods, but found time for a final four man pod and when I brought out Tasigur and his deck, I realized how miserably I had failed in my deck construction.

villainouswealth.fullI don’t want to say I didn’t have fun, for example, casting Villainous Wealth for like 15 on the mono-green preconstructed deck from Commander 2014, which yielded Titania, Protector of Argoth, into Terastodon blowing up three of my own lands into Collective Unconscious for about a dozen cards was awesome, and even some of the other players at the table laughed at my board state. Rather, the issue was that I suspect nobody had as much fun as me at the table, and that is a huge issue in a social format. Thankfully, most of the players around the table seemed to let me be an asshole and play out my board with few frowns, and some even talked about getting more into the format afterwards, but I’m sure the latter were in minority.

My point is that the main issue with EDH as a format isn’t that it is inherently broken, which it obviously is. The problem is that it’s difficult for players to find a suitable power level in a playgroup. When my first playgroup started playing back around 2011, it was clear that everyone was very casual in the beginning, but as soon as somebody placed an order at StarCityGames, the arms race began, and pretty soon, we all had rather powerful decks. This is the same playgroup that both other contributors of this blog are a part of, by the way, and we’ve been playing EDH ever since. In fact, I’d much prefer to visit my old stomping grounds and play EDH a Friday night than compete in a tournament these days – partly because it’s great to see old friends, partly because in that playgroup, everyone has played lots of Vintage, Legacy and EDH and have access to most cards they want and need. In a setting like that, I don’t feel too bad about casting Villainous Wealth for fifteen because people are doing things in that neighbourhood all the time. However, in a group where there is a mix of new and seasoned players, I am left clueless.

Have you, dear reader, encountered similar issues with EDH? What’s your solution?

Merry Christmas from GoyfWars!

sf67_infernalSpawnSlice

I was planning to get a banner of Infernal Spawn of Infernal Spawn of Evil but time makes fools of us all.

Merry Christmas from us at GoyfWars. When this post goes live, I’ll still be sound asleep in my bed on christmas day, and I will hopefully do much of just that over the holidays. Over the next couple of days, we’ll be featuring another issue of Mana Burn by Grim Lavamancer, as well as some shorter stuff from PurgAtog. The rest of the time we’ll devote to eating and drinking ourselves silly with our loved ones. There might be some EDH as well, we’ll see.

Please note that the lads writing this blog is from Sweden, where saying “Merry Christmas” still isn’t considered to be politically incorrect. No flames, please.

My failed decks and why they failed

Lazav banner

Inspired by the episode “Failed Decks in EDH” from the Five Commander podcast, I wanted to expand on my historic EDH decks, what commanders they were based around, and why the decks were all dismantled eventually. This isn’t a top 5 of any sort, it’s a chronological run-down of my shitty decks.

MimeoplasmThe MimeoplasmI only got into the format with the first release of the Commander preconstructed decks, and this one is the one I got first. Later on, I bought the Zedruu, the Greathearted deck to play with another group, and I actually liked that one a lot more. The good thing about picking The Mimeoplasm as the first deck was that it was quite easy to expand upon – adding some Fauna Shamans and Survival of the Fittests to the list increased its consistency, and I owned most of the tutors since my Vintage days even before I picked the deck up. I strongly believe that BUG is just about the best three-colour combination you can play in EDH – the generals are nothing to write home about, but the colours themselves are excellent. This meant that the deck was often quickly the target of the other players around the table in both of my play groups, and since graveyard decks are quite easy to disrupt, well… It didn’t end too well most of the time. Sometimes the deck just got to cast the general on turn four or five, remove Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon and something with 6 or more in power, pay a black and swing for lethal. It’s quite stupid and it’s quite boring. The deck itself failed not only because people started to hate on it, but also because I grew bored with it. Come to think of it, the latter is probably the main reason why I stop playing EDH decks.

vorosh,thehunter.hqVorosh, the HunterAfter rebuilding the deck almost from the ground and up, The Mimeoplasm changed to a Vorosh deck, a sort of a ramp-combo deck. The idea was to ramp up to about a dozen mana of assorted colours and chain Time Stretch and Time Warp with various Regrowth effects and kill everyone around the table with the commander. In theory, it was very durdly, but in practice it had a lot of very powerful synergies, like Eternal Witness + Crystal Shard, which made the time walking effects absurd.

The deck failed because it was really boring to play against once it could go off. Forcing the table to watch you play your solitarie game of cards before you finally kill them in your sixth or seventh extra turn isn’t really fun for anybody. The deck made me feel awkward at how linear it was in its execution as well, since it employed all the neat little tutor effects available in the colour.

dromar,thebanisher.hqDromar, the BanisherHoo boy. This was the first-ever EDH deck I built from scratch, this was after dismantling the decks above, but before I really knew anything about the format. Dromar was essentially a control deck with like 12 sweepers main-deck, but without a real way to win. I had just cracked a box of Innistrad the weeks before, and I really loved the flavour of the set. Thus, I also had a human sub-theme in the deck which turned out to be more of a sub-human theme, since the deck really sucked.

The deck eventually went through a lot of changes to turn from a combo-control reanimator deck with Sharuum the Hedgemon at the helm, to a straight-up, balls-to-the-walls Sharuum combo deck. This deck was also dismantled later on, since it was a proper glass-cannon and too linear to be fun to play.

Dromar remains the worst deck I’ve ever built and though I really like the card, it’s just not powerful enough as a commander.

intet,thedreamer.hqIntet the DreamerCan you tell I really like the shard/wedge dragons yet? Intet was the last proper attempt at making a deck with these 6/6 flyers in them. It was essentially a worse version of Vorosh – it also won through recurring time walks, but my idea was to cast them from the top of my library with Intet rather than paying ten mana up front. It had Scroll Rack and Sensei’s Divining Top as ways to get the good cards at the top of the library, where Intet would break the game in half with them.

The deck failed because in the end it not only looked like a strictly worse version of Vorosh, it played like a strictly worse version of Vorosh. It had less consistency – something I don’t really mind in general when it  comes to EDH, but it is really frustrating to sit around and topdeck a bunch of 8-12 mana spells while everyone else is advancing their board states. The deck was too weak and too random to do what I wanted it to do, and when it finally did what I wanted it to do, it just took a bunch of turns in a row. How exciting.

lazav,dimirmastermind.hqLazav, Dimir MastermindThe last and latest of my truly failed deck experiments was Lazav. After receiving one in an online Secret Santa, specifically a Simplified Chinese one, I decided to make a deck with a bunch of spot removal and Lazav in the deck. The idea was that Lazav would always be the best creature on the battle field, and the deck would steal stuff indirectly.

The deck failed because it was slow, it didn’t synergise well enough in itself, and it was miles behind all the other decks in the room in terms of raw power. The four coloured mana needed to cast the commander himself was sometimes a hinderance, but often times the deck just drew a few cards, played a single spot removal and then rolled over to powerful combos. A huge let down.

What do you think of this list of deck? What EDH decks have you played that didn’t quite work out? Leave a comment!