Every article deserves some recognition for something, but months later, when you're trying to compile a list of the best articles of the year, only a few stick out in your memory.
After asking my social media followers about their favorite articles from 2012, I've found that it's the articles that want to be read over and over that are the most memorable. It's the ones that move us on an emotional level or make us laugh or whose relevance extends beyond the game.
So while the most trafficked articles may be about decks and the metagame—or about banning Griselbrand in Commander, the articles that deserve a second (or third) reading are about more than just Magic.
In fact, sometimes they're about Street Fighter.
It was like going Caw-Blade into a field of all Shiels, Sacher, and other-Flores. Wasn't I the best deck? In reality, I had just stacked the deck against myself from the outset.
After those first few dozen losses, I realized something: Almost everyone I was playing against had more experience than I did. The same tools, the same technology, but many more devoted hours at the same task. I was never going to succeed on this model. In order to compete, I was going to have to give myself an unfair edge...and the edge I chose was (unsurprisingly)to go rogue.
Using Street Fighter as a metaphor, Mike manages to give a poignant lesson about metagaming, technology, and leveling. This article illustrates exactly what I love about games—if the game is deep enough, every decision matters. Good games require us to more deeply understand ourselves, our choices, and our strengths and weaknesses.
It's about finding your own path to victory, and Mike shows you just how it's done.
Quick note about commas: They have disappeared from some older articles. The scene of the crime suggests kidnapping. I think it was the butler.
Later in that month, Patrick Chapin produced a piece that struck Premium readers so much that they demanded it be put on Select—at least the second half.
Our community is at a crossroads. The floodgates have recently opened, and not everyone is going to be okay with this. Magic is a game filled with an awful lot of smart people with an awful lot of ego invested in convincing themselves how smart they are. A lot of these people are young men, and a number of them will have their feelings hurt by more slots being taken by women—something they will take as a personal affront when they don't accomplish the same thing. One response is to lash out at those women and try to get them "back in line."
Another response is to move the walls out of the way and free up admission to the clubhouse.
This article was a response to three different women players breaking into the Top 8s of Grand Prix. In particular, Jackie Lee went on a hot streak, consistently finishing at the top of the standings and getting plenty of feature match coverage on her way there.
People's reactions varied, from happy to dismissive to angry. Some used it as an excuse to become hostile towards them, using the internet as a shield. And then Patrick went ahead and dropped the hammer like only he can do, putting the haters in their place.
I hope 2013 is an even better year for top finishes by women players. Because it's about time.
"You sure do play a lot of Magic for someone who is quitting."
All I could do was smirk while I continued to shuffle away. The conversation became more intimate, as Chapin began to inquire why exactly it is that I play Magic. Short a real response, I told him that it's a mental release, a break from everything else in my life that I detest so strongly.
"So it's just the best of the worst for you?" he suggested. "That's not right, man… Magic is something you should love."
It's not often we get an unfiltered glimpse into the personal struggles of a Magic grinder—it's a life that can seem glamorous to the outsider. Yet it is also one where your entire goal is to doubt yourself and evaluate your mistakes. In order to improve as a player, you must constantly be zooming in on your own flaws and questioning your decisions.
Jason Ford outlines his trek from tournament to tournament, sharing his struggles with us, as well as the moments that make it all worth it.
And I am thankful that he did.
So you're probably desperate to hear what I was battling with right about now, huh? Well... I'd been hollering at my boy [popular pro] the last two weeks on Facebook, but for some reason he didn't accept my friend request or reply to my messages asking for an update on his [format-defining aggro-control deck]. Oh well, guess I'll just do the hard work for him! Here's the hotness:
[Decklist 64/75 of popular pro's list from 2.5 weeks ago that he said he wouldn't play again because the format was getting a bit too hostile. The twelve changes don't make any obvious sense.]
Why can't more tournament reports be like this one?
I'll wait for that irony to sink in.
If you want to shrug it off with, "Oh these are just some kids acting up," then we need to ask the question, "Why are children learning that this is acceptable behavior?" Because that's the real problem, not any individual comment. It's not until we stop minimizing the issue and picking it apart by details that we can acknowledge it for what it is and move forward.
I know I've struggled to write a similar article for a long time, but Jackie said everything I wanted to say and in the way I wanted to say it. She puts everything into new perspective and then provides practical solutions for how to make the Magic community better for its men and women.
It can be really difficult to articulate some things, especially when there seems to be such a large gulf between you and your audience. And you're not going to get everyone, or even most people, on board with the message with a single article. But it shouldn't discourage anyone from trying, and Jackie nailed it on the head in this one.
You'd think with such a home run there wouldn't need to be any more of these kinds of articles, but unfortunately, there continues to be a need. However as long as Jackie is part of that force, I have no doubt the Magic community will be pointed in the right direction.
Here's to 2013.
LegitMTG did a year in review article where they pointed out some favorite articles of theirs from throughout the year. This is how this article came on my radar screen.
Honestly, it is hard for me to pick out the best of Gerry Thompson because he is constantly setting his own bar higher, and he has a way of "breaking the format" of not only Magic, but of article writing.
This year, he unpacked his heated relationship with Delver, built the best version of everything, explored his feminine side, broke down a single game of Magic into its intricate pieces and examined each with a microscope, and caught a bit of flak for his response to accusations of him manipulating the metagame—accusations he did not want to take lying down.
Gerry always finds ways to push the envelope—while pushing some buttons.
Cedric knows what I'm talking about.
But through it all Gerry and I were like peanut butter and jelly.
Like spaghetti and meatballs.
Like ham and cheese!
We had our differences, but we overcame them to develop a friendship so special that nothing could break us apart!
But this past weekend, Gerry crossed the line. The line of no return. See, Gerry knows that I'm trying extremely hard to get back on the Pro Tour. He knows that I am desperate for another taste of the highest level of Magic. So why did he have to do this to me?
Why would he ruin my life in the span of thirteen rounds of Magic?
Did our friendship mean nothing?
Magic, it brings us together…and sometimes…it tears us apart.
2012 was a big year. For Patrick Chapin, it was bigger than most.
As I flew across the country digesting the news, I found myself strangely uplifted. Initially, it had hit me like a ton of bricks, but I knew I was going to be playing Magic the rest of my life, and if it was meant to be, it would be in good time.
I missed by five votes.
Some people are dreamers, and some people live the dream.
What this article does is illustrate that dream and give it form. It will not be everyone's path—in fact it is a path that only a fraction of people can walk. Yet it is a dream so powerful and vivid that it propelled a thirteen-year-old boy into the Magic Hall of Fame, decades later.
Magic, it is just that amazing.
Magic is about more than rules and records. It's about us.
Some say that Abe Sargent's "Revelations of a Magic Writer" is the best Magic article of all time. This was the sequel to that article. Read them, if you haven't already.
Abe usually writes about Kitchen Table Magic (as per his column name, The Kitchen Table). But when he doesn't write about casual Magic, his articles are guaranteed to make an impact. He did it twice this year, and both articles were nominated for best article of 2012.
For a decade, I've stated occasionally that I feel one of the biggest issues with the Magic community are these rampant slurs against people due to their sexual orientation. I've never done anything about it. It's time for that to change.
Progress is not always made by leaps and bounds. When it comes to social issues, it is particularly difficult to make great strides without a lot more active support from the community. It's articles like Abe's that gets the conversation going and makes it more acceptable to discuss and think about these issues. If we let ourselves fall into bad habits and thought patterns—just like in Magic—it'll get harder to unlearn them and improve. Magic should be a place that's welcome to everyone, especially those who the rest of society ignores or abuses.
This one's a little different from the others on this list, as its primary focus is the video contained within, and it is about a single deck from a single format. It doesn't make any grand statements about life or Magic in general. But I want to mention it because of its uniqueness. (Also that text message from Brad's dad was pretty awesome.)
As his roommate, I personally know exactly how hard Brad toiled on this project, spending weeks looking for exactly how to format the video and how to present the information in the best way possible. He also wouldn't shut up to me about it—which is what I get I guess, being his roommate and all. ?_?
Anyway, here's what he did. He had every saved version of his deck, Hoof There It Is, and he wanted to show people the evolution of it from start to finish, in video form. He culled the list of versions down from 30+, outlined a script, spoke into a mic for 40 minutes, and didn't include a single game of Magic.
Both the idea and execution were successful, and I feel Brad is starting to break into some revolutionary directions for Magic video content. I hope 2013 is full of more awesome ideas like this one.
I'm actually in the middle of reading World War Z, so this was a particularly delightful read. Chas manages to outline an even scarier scenario than zombies taking over the world…
The Magic: The Gathering Apocalypse, a day I hope I never live to see.
Everyone knew Countermark was going to be good, of course. How could it not be? When Card Advantage started preselling it at $40, though, people were still fairly skeptical. Without the algorithm, I know I wouldn't have given buying in a second thought.
By this point, though, we had total faith in our system. And when our system told us that this would be the first $150 Standard card, we decided to go all in. I figured that it would likely get banned long before hitting $150 of course, but even if it hit $100 likeJace, the Mind Sculptordid, I was poised to make a whole lot of money.
Gavin Verhey wrote a similar article back before he starting working for Wizards. Of course he was more concerned about bad design ruining Magic. Y'know, all the stuff Maro worries about—design space, complexity, flavor, fun factor.
Personally, I am not worried about what R&D will do to Magic. They have only gotten better at doing what they do with knowledge and experience.
Chas's scenario, however, feels eerily realistic. Hopefully, his article will ensure the apocalypse is averted, as now we know some of the potential warning signs. Unlike the Mayans, our calendar does not have an expiration date.
Video Series of 2012
Videos get their own category. They are special. Also, unlike any previous year, we've come out with all kinds of new video content, produced in-house and on the road. We have the equipment; we have the talent. Combined, these have led to some successful projects. Let's take a look at what we've been doing this year.
I only recently coined the term "Versus" to use for this series of videos. I changed it from "Playtesting" because a) it was boring, and b) it was inaccurate. Real-life playtesting consists of grinding games over and over again (generally ten or so at a time). Playtesting is also primarily focused on benefiting the people playing the games.
The Versus videos are meant to benefit the viewer. They're not a mathematical analysis of who's favored in a matchup. They're a demonstration of what kinds of decisions and interactions are involved in piloting a deck. And because the match isn't on SCGLive, they can talk openly to the camera and figure out lines of play.
The players also have a lot of fun while doing it, so they're not stale or lecturing. These videos have been some of the most successful pieces of content in 2012, and I want to make sure they get better for 2013.
Kicking off the new year, Gerry Thompson is coming back to the Versus stage on Premium after a hiatus. He, Todd Anderson, and Brad Nelson will be bringing you two new Versus videos each week.
On Select, I'm diversifying the cast to some ridiculously talented players who live right here in Roanoke: Ali Aintrazi, Brian Braun-Duin, Nick Spagnolo, and Charles Gindy will all share the spotlight. They will need some time to settle in, but with your feedback, they are sure to grow quickly into their roles as Versus competitors.
Your feedback will be more critical than ever in the coming months, so please comment, email, tweet—just get your voice heard!
This new Premium video series replaced the old Gerry & Brad TV (previously GerryTV). We upped the production value, introduced a host in Mr. Glenn Jones, and created fast-paced segments for easy and fun viewing.
We're only on episode 5 so far (with a new one coming out next week), but the response has been very positive, and I'm confident this is the right direction for a "talking" Premium video series.
This project is entirely the result of Jonathan Choi's hard work and dedication. As director/producer, he has realized his vision for a Magic "sports broadcast" type show, and we are very happy with the outcome.
In 2013, we are looking to bring in more guests, introduce new segments to increase audience involvement, and hopefully get the show out on a weekly basis (fingers crossed).
Again, audience feedback is critical. We try to read everything you guys say, and the more you voice an opinion, the better we'll get.
The Newsening and Other Showsenings with Reuben Bresler
Eh, I can't take any credit for this one.
The Newsening was made possible by a) Evan Erwin hiring Reuben for coverage, b) Reuben Bresler writing each episode and just being himself, c) our in-house directors filming and cutting the show, and d) our graphic designers creating the images that go into each episode.
I mostly just get in the way and figure out which jokes cross the line for family-fun viewing. Reuben hates me.
It's a wonder he hasn't, like, murdered me yet or anything.
Of course, as a recurring cast member on Real World Ravnica, I suppose I still have some value.
In 2013, expect more new episodes of The Newsening on SCG, as well as more Interviewsenings, Awardenings, and Whatevers-enings Reuben and his 'stache come up with.
The Magic Show isn't a new show, obviously. But it did go through some bumpy rides in 2012, first coming back on Premium—then moving back to Select. Hopefully that is where it will live for a long time.
As long as Evan Erwin doesn't die of Too Many Kids Syndrome… It's a real disease. Look it up.
We've done a lot of new videos this past year. I think one of the best ones, clocking in at less than 40 seconds, was Joshua Cho Visits the Invitational, which was made basically on a whim. Also, this thing. Hopefully 2013 will bring about even better stuff for you guys to watch.
Credit to our video production team: Jeremy Noell, Jesse Snyder, Shoebox (Daniel Schoenbach), Jonathan Choi, and Cari Ruthenberg.
The following articles are just full of good advice. And in the end, that's what makes Premium premium content. Read and enjoy:
When I took over the position as Online Content Coordinator earlier this year, I'm glad Kaitlin was there to take over my old job as Copy Editor. She and I make an excellent team, and together we have managed to tackle the ever-changing and perilous landscape of Magic content.
So first, kudos to us. Second, girl power. Third, happy 2013.
P.S. Check out our newsletters… I made some improvements.
*These Premium articles have been made available for free viewing early, so enjoy.