It's been a while since my last Ten Things, and Magic seems to have a new topic every couple of days. There's plenty that I've missed!
10. Niv-Mizzet, Parun (and Treasure Map) Take Over Standard
Shortly after Pro Tour Guilds of Ravnica, Standard was considered solved. Izzet Drakes and Golgari Midrange stood atop the heap, and although decks like Boros Aggro, Mono-Red Aggro, and Jeskai Control could perform well, they performed significantly worse on average than the top two.
Leading up to #PTGRN, my team and I were working on how to best assemble Niv-Mizzet, Parun and Dive Down because that combo was basically unbeatable against the sea of midrange decks in the format. Unfortunately, Boros Aggro (and Adanto Vanguard) was a nut we couldn't crack without making significant sacrifices. Now that Boros has fallen out of favor, it's time to show the world how powerful Niv-Mizzet truly is.
Thankfully, Adrian Sullivan did just that. Not one to mess around, Adrian played the full amount of Niv-Mizzets, used Treasure Map to accelerate into them, and cut Chemister's Insight altogether. His Deafening Clarions solved the Boros problem. However, Arclight Phoenix and now opposing Niv-Mizzets will be an issue.
I look forward to solving this in two weeks for the Season Two Invitational.
9. WotC Overturns a Ban for Using Fake Cards
I'll be the first to admit I don't have all the details here, plus this actually happened a couple weeks ago. From what I know, Aiden Brier borrowed a deck from a friend that unknowingly contained some fake cards. Those fakes were discovered somehow, he was disqualified, then banned. After a surprisingly short appeal process, his ban was overturned.
We did it, I got unbanned. See you all at #SCGBALT— Aiden Brier (@HissingQuagmire) November 15, 2018
Punishing those for knowingly using fakes is actively a good thing, but punishing someone who had no idea that severely doesn't seem right. Aiden (and everyone else) should be responsible for playing with 75 legitimate Magic cards, but not every single player has the skill set necessary to spot those counterfeits, myself included. At some point, the onus must be on WotC to stop these fakes or help players develop the skills to find them rather than punishing the kids whose decks they end up in.
There's some potential for abuse here, as now anyone caught using counterfeits can claim ignorance and cite Aiden's case as a means for lenience. That's something the community shouldn't be happy about, but that's still no reason for Aiden to become a martyr.
At the end of the day, Aiden is free to play Magic again, which is a sign that the system works (sometimes).
8. Fabrizio Anteri Apologizes for Cheating
Anteri's manifesto isn't quite as obviously a pack of lies as Alex Bertoncini's, but I do find it damning that these folks only seem to admit to the things the public was already well-aware of. What about the other instances where they didn't explicitly get caught and punished? Admitting something along those lines would actually make me think they were telling the truth and wanted to reform. Instead, nothing here makes me believe the person who lied and cheated in the past, and it shouldn't sway your opinion either.
He could have just said, "Saying I forgot to shuffle my deck was clearly a lie." There is nothing about trying to make up for all the money he told and he continues to make jokes that paint him in a very negative light.
Don't fall for this crap.
7. Christian Siebold Disqualified in Top 8 of Grand Prix Warsaw
Judging from the writeup , I imagine this is how the situation went down:
- Player A: Does this resolve?
- Player B: *noncommittal shrug*
- Player A: Okay, play this other spell.
- Player B: Whoa, whoa, hold on. Counter your first spell.
If your answer to a judge asking you why you didn't say whether the first spell resolved initially is, "I wanted to get more information before deciding if I wanted to counter it," then you deserve your DQ. [Some shops have a player or two infamous for this move. It's infuriating with nearly nothing on the line, let alone playing for big prizes.--DWest]
Following this disqualification, a few other people have come out with stories about Christian Siebold, as is typical for people who would this run this sort of angle shooting. I hope this comes with a lengthy ban, but I'm expecting zero to six months. At least this instance was investigated and punished.
6. Updated Banned and Restricted List
Is this a good or bad thing? Some cards, like Faithless Looting and Ancient Stirrings, are on thin ice, but it's not time to pull the trigger yet. Those cards enable decks that exist in Modern's ecosystem, but like everything else, they're part of the ever churning metagame. Maybe at some point they produce something that's truly broken, but everything currently has an answer.
You could make the argument that the decks those cards go into aren't in the "spirit" of Modern, but I could get onboard with that. However, the format looks healthy, popular, and people seem to enjoy it.
I'm rooting for some bans in the near future, but not for cards.
5. Guilds of Ravnica Limited Delivers
Despite many believing the format to be "on rails," where you settle into a guild and continue to draft those cards, GRN has proven to be far more open than that. With a plentiful amount of mana fixing, splashing a third color or building a Gate-based deck around Guild Summit and/or Glaive of the Guildpact has become commonplace. In fact, those are easily my winniest strategies.
For any further evidence, check out the many articles by Ryan Saxe on this very website or the incredible amount of Magic Online trophies my cousin Gavin Thompson has been wracking up on Magic Online.
4. The GAM Podcast's Biggest Called Shot
This is my current front-runner for the Season Two Invitational in two weeks, and if you're looking for a Modern deck for your RPTQs but don't quite know what to play, I would recommend something fast and linear. EdB's take on Arclight Phoenix checks the vast majority of boxes for me.
3. #SCGCON on the Horizon
I've got #SCGBALT this weekend, but #SCGCON the following week is the real treat. Each Invitational has been a great experience for me, whether it's battling against the likes of players I respect, like Ben Friedman and Todd Anderson, or seeing the upcoming generation of Magic players like Austin Collins, Jonathan Rosum, and Hunter Krot given a stage to show their skills. Being a double Constructed tournament is awesome too because when you get both of your decks just right, it's an incredibly rewarding experience.
This Invitational will be the swan song for Guilds of Ravnica Standard, and I expect the format to continue shifting after Adrian's GP win. For those not competing in the Invitational (or those who bust out), there's no shortage of great events all weekend long, including the Cube challenge.
I'm sad to miss Grand Prix Portland on the same weekend, since it's so rare to get a GP in driving range from Seattle, but it's going to take more than a GP to get me to skip an Invitational.
2. MTG Arena Largely a Hit
While it's not without its issues, MTG Arena has been wildly successful. Twitch numbers are way up, especially for the last Pro Tour, and the marketing campaign for Arena is a large part of that. Guilds of Ravnica being a hit on all metrics is certainly the other.
New things tend to scare me as I'm comfortable in my current ways and given how the launches of MTGO v3 and v4 were disasters, I wasn't looking forward to Arena. I played the first day of the Arena alpha and the client was unplayable due to how much lag there was, but when open beta started and I had some free time, I decided to give it another shot.
To say I was pleasantly surprised would be putting it as mildly as possible. While the economy leaves much to be desired, the actual gameplay is smooth outside of the occasional mistapping snafu. Drafting against bots isn't ideal either. At the moment, the competition isn't as fierce as I'd like, especially in Standard where the economy makes it difficult for people to acquire complete decks, but hopefully that stuff will change.
Going forward, I wouldn't recommend paying people to stream Arena who have been previously banned from Magic, but hey, that's just my opinion. I'd also take a serious look into fixing the economy and deck-building aspects of the client, in that order. Other than that, enjoy Arena because it has the potential to be quite good.
1. MTG Artists Boycott Upcoming MagicFests
So far, 25 Magic artists have signed a boycott of any upcoming Magic Fests due to increasingly poor conditions.
"The recent removal of even basic conveniences, such as support during lunch breaks and a safe space to store equipment and gear, highlights the low priority artists have become for event organizers, and led to the formation of this letter.
For context, here is a list of the services MTG artists could expect at GPs just a few years ago:
- Paid Flights
- Paid Hotel
- Break room
- Place to store our gear (often locked or secure)
- Free large tables
- Thursday dinner with organizers
- Sunday group event with event staff
Here is a list of what we are offered in exchange for our time today:
- Smaller table arrangement (expensive upgrade option)
- Limited and unclear hotel sponsorship (for some)
We are happy to be invited to work with you to make 2019 a better year, however the relationship becomes increasingly unhealthy for artists. How can MagicFest be a celebration of the game without also celebrating its artists?"
CFB attempting to make Magic Fests appealing to everyone is a tall order. You've got collectors, Vorthoses, Commander players, casuals, and the folks who are there for the main event - How do you get all those people in one room and please them all? Well, I would argue that it isn't by significantly altering the branding of the event and make promises you can't keep while continuing to cut corners. In the end, everyone will go home disappointed.
I bought my first booster of Magic cards because of the art (Ebon Dragon from Portal, for those interested), and I wouldn't be here today if not for that. Art is just as important and as large of a draw to Magic Fest attendees as anything else. Let's hope this gets solved sooner rather than later.