Schlagwort-Archiv: CML

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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An Inconvenient Truth, Part 2

This is a series about a topic – or several related topics – brought to my attention via a blog entry by Christopher Morris-Lent, alias CML. It started here, and you can find that blog entry here.

Responding to feedback: You might not be interested in what CML writes about, you might not share his opinions, and/or you might not like his writing style, but this is certainly not an article by a „small-minded“ person – a strange person maybe, and one could even make a case that he (still) has mental issues, but his observations prove he possesses both an eye for details and the ability to view the bigger picture. Also, he writes quite well – I have learned by now that the typical MTGBlogs reader is unable to recognize this, but you can just trust me on this.

As for the content of his writing: You should be interested in it, if you

a) belong to the group of players he describes – the PT wannabes who might or might not manage to qualify from time to time, but never reach the „gravy train“;

b) are interested in the demographics and dynamics of the Magic community; or

C) care for the discrepancy between how Magic is generally presented and how the state of that game really is.

While you’re here, let me give you a link to another, newer article by the same author. There he obviously revels in his ability to polarize his readership, but he also portrays a side of Magic tournaments which is usually swept under the rug. By the way, the very fact that a player on illegal drugs is able to win a prestigious tournament is telling and supports CML’s views about the competitive Magic scene!

The first thing I want to write about in a bit more detail is the obvious: Magic „Professional Torunaments“ pay a lot less than the comparison CML uses, e-sports tournaments. This isn’t just about a difference in payout, though: It means that Magic has a substantially different and vastly inferior quality than those sports. To put it frankly: There are no professional Magic players! Even platinum level means that you are barely able to support a living, and staying platinum isn’t guaranteed, no matter how talented you are and how much work you put into it.

There are two kinds of „professional“ Magic players: Those who do not actually make a living from playing, but from related activities like working for a large store or developing their own games; and those who are effectively taking a sabbatical, travelling all over the world while doing well enough (hopefully) to cover their expenses, but nothing more.

In contrast to players in really professional sports, you will never be able to set aside enough money during your active years to supoort your living thereafter – and it doesn’t matter at all that you can keep on playing Magic on the highest level for much longer, because you are not making any substantial profit. Also, it is highly unlikely that you will ever be able to convert your Magic playing skills into a later career, especially if you’re not living in North America – there are only so many jobs available in Wizards R&D and at Star City Games, and furthermore, I would be surprised if those payed really well.

Do not fall for those stories of former players who made all their business connections and got their dream job via the Pro Tour! For one thing, this is like the veteran paradox: Of course, everyone who tells you about the war survived it! The millions who didn’t just do not have a voice. Also, the situation of pro players around the turn of the millenium was likely a lot different from what is going on today.

The basic truth is: The „professional“ in „Professional Tournament“ is a lie. That there are no real professional Magic players is all you need to know to prove this, but actually every aspect of „professional“ Magic is a hilarious, pathetic joke, just as CML writes, and that means that this series will probably have many parts more.

Completely unrelated:

After being unable to draft for several months due to a blend of computer and health issues, I have finally returned to drafting on MTGO. I am hopelessly behind with my efforts to build up my collection via drafting, and therefore I might sit out Magic Origins completely. I seem to be unable to get rid of my Fate Reforged / Dragons of Tarkir boosters because I still do pretty well in that format (which is, of course, a good thing), so this is what I have been busy with while waiting for Battle for Zendikar. You may not care about them anymore, but for the sake of continuity, here are my 3-0 deck lists from the last weeks:

 

BorosGruu1lGruul2

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An Inconvenient Truth

There is something I wanted to write about for months now, and I decided to finally take it on, but I will try my best to make this a series of short entries instead of one endlessly long entry (or, worse, a series of endlessly long entries).

There is a blog entry on the internet which most of you probably do not know about, and I believe it is one of the most important pieces ever written about Magic. I give you the link further down, but I ask you to click it only after you read a few sentences I want to say about it first.

The writer of this article – going by CML – is full up to the brim with negativity, and it is easy to see that this is rooted deeply in his own private issues. There are a lot of obvious points to bring up against his rant: He is projecting his own negativity onto his hobby; he didn’t prepare for his PT experience, so he deservedly did badly and then felt bad about it; he is antagonistic towards other people and the PT community in general, so it is no wonder that he isn’t feeling comfortable in that community or making friends there. All in all, his article is overripe for rebuttals along the lines of „you see what you want to see“, or „you get out of it what you put into it.“

And yet, viewing his text only through this lens would be a big mistake. For one thing, he states some painfully obvious facts which other authors do not seem to bother with, or do not dare to write about. Also, just like negativity may blind you for good things you encounter, so can positivity blind you to bad stuff – but this writer kept his eyes wide open for the bad stuff and saw many things a lot more clearly than most. Lastly, that such a miserable and self-loathing individual felt a pull to compete in the Magic Pro Tour doesn’t seem to be a coincidence: My impression is that he is prototypical for a great many players with similar feelings and disposition, but he is the rare exception to write honestly about those. It is very interesting food for thought that the Magic Pro Tour seems to be tailor-made for such people…

I will go over that author’s claims in detail in future entries – there is a LOT to say! – but for the time being, I’ll leave you with the link to the original text:

 

The Magic: the Gathering Pro Tour Sucks

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