A few Snippets about This and That

I will continue my series about CML’s eye-opening blog post when I have a little more time, and just keep this blog going with a few things on my mind right now.

But let me at least address a few remarks from the comment section of my latest entry: I have no idea why someone who writes about Magic needs to be compared with Hunter S. Thompson (and it’s actually already saying something good if he is), and I also never claimed CML was a „great writer“ – although, to be fair, if you hold him to reasonable standards pertaining Magic articles, that is a very defensible position. Interestingly, I consciously declined to praise his writing style too much to avoid that very comparison to „serious“ writers, understating his abilities by only saying that he writes „quite well“. That is most certainly true even for „serious“ writing (albeit not necessarily for the highest publishing standards), but there should be nothing left to discuss considering we are talking about Magic articles here!

Regarding „real“ professional sports and the opporunity to make big money there: I admit I was thinking of conventional, physical sports here, like football, basketball or tennis. I have next to none knowledge about the e-sports scene. However, I would still be surprised if the higher payouts and the more professional sponsoring there wouldn’t enable at least a few of the top players to actually make enough money during their active time to set it aside (I’m not talking about „retiring“ afterwards, though, just coming out ahead). Anyway, the comparison between e-sports and Magic is better suited to highlight the value WotC places on their professional tournaments, which will probably be the topic of my next entry in that series. By the way, there seems to be at least some interest for this, judging by the fact that I actually got a few comments. Sadly, this is already remarkable! Just compare with the number of comments which the latest few articles on PlanetMTG – the only left publishing platform for editorial German Magic content – got:

PlanetMTG

In the meanwhile, I have done a couple of Battle for Zendikar drafts – seven, to be precise. I won two of them, went 2-1 in four more and would very probably have gone 2-1 in the seventh as well, if MTGO hadn’t decided to stop me from playing in the last round while I was 1-0 in the lead and in a very strong position in the second game. When I write this, I have been filing for reimbursement over 16 hours ago and not got an answer yet (other than the automatically generated email) – this used to go a lot faster a year or so ago! But alas, even one of the few things MTGO was to be commended for (fast reimbursement) has gone bad now.

These were my two winning decks:

Dimir

Azorius

Most of my other drafts I was more focussed on aggression, with Red and/or White as a foundation, and while I admittedly didn’t face the toughest opposition (and made several really stupid playing mistakes), my match losses were usually to back to back egregious instances of mana issues. Thus, I feel that overall I cannot really judge the format fairly yet, but my impression so far is that drafting it is fun, but playing the games rather annoying. It may be tainted by my frustration with the MTGO shuffler, though, which is having fun colorscrewing my two-color decks every second game (not even including the ones where I’m generally manascrewed), while my opponents lay down a third turn 3/4 Tajuru Stalwart off a splashed rare land every second game (alright, that is probably not the frequency that this really happens, but it feels that way). I just absoulutely hate it when I build my deck for consistency and am still struggling to cast my spells, while my opponents seemingly run haphazard mana bases without issues…

Objectively, though, I shouldn’t complain. I have a very decent win ratio so far, and in my very first draft I managed to grab a couple of (then-) money rares and sold them immediately afterwards, when they were still absurdly expensive. I never opened anything really valuable again, though, but I was one of the lucky recipients of the mistakenly awarded Gideon, Ally of Zendikar – those were supposed to be use- and worthless avatars, but some moron at WotC mixed those up, to the delight of some players and the dismay of most traders. I even managed to sell it before its price plummeted!

As for the dynamics of Battle for Zendikar draft: The format seems medium fast. You probably do not want to put some of its really expensive spells in your deck if you do not have a good plan how to support them, but you are also not required to run mediocre 2-drops if you do not intend to be aggressive, and most 2-drops are actually actively bad if you do not specifically focus on ending the game fast and being able to break through a solid defense. The colors seem reasonably balanced to me so far, but unfortunately the booster packs aren’t – some drafters are going to end up with five or more bomb-level picks, while others stare at empty packs each firstpick which do not even contain a good common. On the bright side, though, reading signals seems to work well, and thus you should usually get access to enough picks in your colors that you can finetune your deck for focus, curve and synergies, while still being able to snatch up a few useful sideboard cards and extra full-art lands.

Finally, an addendum to my Battle for Zendikar Limited Pool update: I decided to give Swarm Surge a chance as a black card synergizing with artifacts. Without eldrazi scion tokens, it will not be too exciting, but Black really needs it.

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3 Gedanken zu „A few Snippets about This and That

  1. Handsome sagt:

    „I have no idea why someone who writes about Magic needs to be compared with Hunter S. Thompson“

    Huh? That is like the exact opposite of what I was saying. What I’m trying to say is this: Good writing is all about finding a voice that yourself and your readers are comfortable with. But what we have here is a guy who clearly has mental problems who tries and fails to exactly emulate the writing style of another guy with mental problems he read when he was 18. That itself is not good writing. If it were, half of Tumblr would be populated by literary geniuses. Sure, he’s not a bad writer, but I don’t see how he warrants the (quite arrogant) „He’s good, trust me on this!“ card.

    „I admit I was thinking of conventional, physical sports here, like football, basketball or tennis. I have next to none knowledge about the e-sports scene.“

    Ah gotcha, that wasn’t very clear in this paragraph. Well, I’m curious to see how you substantiate the thesis that Wizards is selling a lie with the Pro Tour, because I really don’t see how they do or at least how they differentiate from other competitive avenues. CML sure as hell didn’t substantiate anything.

    • Zeromant sagt:

      You agree he is „not bad“, which is all I’m saying with „quite well“.

      As for „trust me on this“: Several readers told me they didn’t get that my short story „Ich bin ein Werwolf, verdammt!“ was an obvious parody, which proves how incredibly vast for many the gap towards the ability to analyze writing styles is, and how useless it is to argue about that.

      Now we two, on the other hand, are having a discussion where you keep using terms like „great writer“ and „literary geniuses“, which is once again a good deal removed from the basic ability to criticize writing styles, just to the other direction. As I explained in this entry, I never intended to claim that CML was producing great literature; just that he writes well about Magic and how he experiences it.

      By the way, we could also discuss how well you actually need to write to get published – while I would not consider myself qualified to judge the writing styles of Hunter S. Thompson or, e.g., Günter Grass, I can definitely say that bestselling authors like J.K. Rowling or Dan Brown were successful with writing styles not superior at all to those of better fan fiction, and that for the same reason a writing career of CML would not be hindered by his style if he found other reasons to get published.

      There is great writing – which you insist on talking about – there is solid writing – which I am talking about, and which I am able to produce myself (like you are) – and there is bad writing – which is what those ineffable short stories I parodied were.

      The gap between bad writing and solid writing is much wider than between solid writing and good writing, and thus it is easy to spot with a medium amount of reading skills, but it is also bridgable for most aspiring writers if they put some effort in it and are willing to learn. The gap between solid and great writing isn’t quite as vast, but harder to bridge, because great writing is no longer just about avoiding mistakes, but about actual excellence. But then again, actual excellence isn’t mandatory for success, while solid writing is (unless you can afford a ghost writer). By the way, you can exchange „writing“ here for most other crafts and skills, and the gist of these statements would still be true!

      It is not arrogant if I say „trust me on this“, just like it isn’t arrogant when a maths teacher tells young students still struggling with basic arithmetics that the square root of 2 isn’t rational; and this does not require him to be able to verify complex mathematical proofs. He can teach those students WHY that number isn’t rational if they are willing to listen and learn, but if they aren’t and insist that it is just a fraction which hasn’t been found yet, there is nothing to argue about – they either accept his authority, or they don’t.

      There are not many, if any, things I am great at; but there are a couple things I’m at least solid at, and two of those are general Magic strategy and basic writing skills. If people are bad at those (which many are without realizing or admitting it), they can ask me to explain things (which I usually bother to try); they can trust my authority; or they can choose to believe that I am not better at those things than they are, which is THEIR problem, not mine.

  2. Hans sagt:

    „what we have here is a guy who clearly has mental problems“
    Apart from insulting the guy and criticizing his writing skills you haven’t brought up much of substance yourself. People getting this butthurt over him are rather frightening because they must be in denial or delusional.

    The comparison to Poker was a joke. People grinding 10+ online tables at a time for some hours every day and living off that are real. Making a decent living sitting in front of your PC half naked is more than any mtg player can accomplish just by playing without winning a GP per month or a PT per year. The top end of poker even though just as unlikely to reach as a PT win is a whole other world. You can just trust me on this.

    I read all of his stuff that interested me quite a while ago and obviously liked it a lot. Once you realize how pathetic a lot of the components of the game are and how much time you have pissed away chasing them, there is no going back and you are better off moving on.

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