The Long and Winding Road - The Writer's Toolbox
Trying to get into Magic writing?
Well don't let me dissuade you from exploring this lucrative and rewarding uh career choice. When you're starting out writing articles back-to-back (to back to back to back and so on) can seem like a challenge but it won't be an issue if you have the right tools at your disposal. Most Magic writers utilize a toolbox a collection of article archetypes that makes writing easier.
If someone took the time to compile them for you so that you had a reference I'm sure it would help.
Yep sure would.
But who in the face of what might possibly have the lowest hit count in the history of any Magic article topic ever would write such a thing?
I'll do it.*
The Tournament Report
This is in many ways the “original” Magic: The Gathering article. Essentially the early Magic Dojo (still available online in archive form) is a collection of tournament reports. Often these reports went beyond just looking at the results of the tournament they covered; they included testing travel arrangements deck construction and modification thoughts on the format and venue and antics that occurred on the way to the tournament and after the tournament. When the Dojo started there weren't really Magic articles on the internet and those in publications tended to be painfully out-of-date by the time they hit print so finding a tournament report on a relevant format that included some ideas about deck construction was often the best way to prepare a deck or decks for testing purposes.
Today many Tournament Reports include in-game detail and strategic decisions far beyond what you'd have seen in the late 1990s. Writers like PV and Stephen Menendian among others offer impressive clarity in their tournament reports as far as specific and critical decision-making and strategy trees. One other major difference is that old-school tournament reports were about the experience of the tournament more than anything else; they often recapped failures as much as success. It was acceptable to go 2-3 in a tournament and write a report on it provided it was at least entertaining and educational in some way whereas today most people don't do that sort of thing. We're much more of a “history is recorded by the victor” sort of group today when it comes to tournament reporting.
The Tournament Report can be serious business meant to teach others about a deck format play strategy or all of those things but it can also be meant for entertainment purposes. The best articles in this category tend to include both. There have been so many Tournament Reports written over the years that you really need something special to stand out in the crowd; what that is exactly is hard to pin down but you know it when you see it.
The Untold Stories series just launched here contains some examples of Tournament Reports that focus far beyond just the actual games of Magic; some are hybrids with The Lament (see below).
The Set Preview / The Set Review
After Tournament Reports this is probably the most common Magic article. Before a set is released as it's being spoiled the internet floods with Set Previews. After a set is released or once it's fully spoiled we get the Set Reviews.
Previews tend to focus on something specific as they're dealing with incomplete information (and therefore also run a high risk of being hugely incorrect). Sometimes that focus can be a single card such as a Wizards-chosen preview card. Other times it might be the discussion of a new mechanic or a focus on a few new cards and how they might impact an existing deck or decks. Occasionally writers also produce longer in-depth preview articles but many writers avoid these as they tend to become invalidated almost immediately by more detailed Set Reviews.
Reviews used to break down into either brief looks at every card in a set or focused reviews that look at only specific cards; examples of the latter might be the best cards overall or the best cards in a specific format such as considering pick order in Draft and Limited bombs Standard playables Legacy or Vintage-centric reviews and casual or multiplayer reviews. Lately many reviews have instead been detailed looks at every card in a cross-section of relevant formats such as: Set Review – White wherein the author looks at every white card in a set and notes any contexts in which the card might stand out or gives it a rating generally in Constructed and Limited.
I happen to be of the opinion that these Set Reviews are often poorly constructed and lacking in useful information to such an extent that I avoid 99% of Set Reviews. For example the only reviews I read for Scars were some of Patrick Chapin's (which were all fantastic just exceptionally long and I was time-crunched) and Zvi Mowshowitz's because I read everything Zvi writes for what I hope are obvious reasons.
A recent addition to this article archetype is a sort of Set Review Update written some time after release.
So there are some examples of previews done right.
Here are a few examples of why Set Reviews go wrong:
- They fail to consider the new cards in the right context such as how they might be impacted post-rotation or once the full block is released.
- They devolve quickly into a glut of sameness as most cards are by definition average in quality and average cards tend not to see much play.
- In trying to be all things to all readers they lack the specificity needed to be relevant to anyone.
- Many writers find the actual act of writing Set Reviews to be disinteresting and it shows in the encyclopedia-esque writing style of these pieces.
- Perhaps most damning: authors don't say anything definitive in Set Reviews.
Let me expand on that last one as it irks me the most. Here's a generic example of what I'm talking about. You might find a review that reads like this:
“This card costs probably one mana too much for its effect but there are some situations where I could see this being a role player in Standard depending on how the metagame develops. If a later set includes an artifact that can reduce the activation cost on this it could become part of a broken combo. You might consider picking up this card cheaply just in case and it's probably decent in EDH.”
This type of writing pervades so many Set Reviews and honestly makes it impossible to get any worth out of the majority of them. I'd always rather see someone say: “I think this card sucks. I'd most likely see myself using it to scrape dog poop off my One with Nothings.” Or: “This card is going to replace Jace in most formats. It's that good.” Or even: “I'm pretty sure this is just an average card with no real special qualities; I feel no particular drive to pick it up at this time as similar cards at the same cost and function are available.”
Just be honest and state something. Sure hedging your bet means you won't ever say Jace the Mind Sculptor is overrated or awful or that Grinning Demon is going to break formats but people will at least respect you for being honest and saying what you really think even if they zing you for missing cards here and there.
This is a good and perhaps not unintentional transition into…
Grr I'm so mad about something!
That's basically The Rant in a nutshell. For good examples type “Becker” into the StarCityGames.com search box under "articles" and read… anything really. There are of course a number of other people that have excelled at The Rant over the years including Josh Silvestri Chris Romeo large chunks of each novel-length article from Rizzo Peter Jahn and many others. More recently we've seen this type of article from Cedric Phillips Gerry Thompson and Geordie Tait.
The Rant tends to be most effective when it combines brutal honestly with a dash of humor to sweeten the medicine just a bit. While The Rant is often a popular article choice when used too often or without a clear and generally accepted target (or an audience) it can backfire easily.
The Deck Jam Session
Another popular article this is where a writer sits down and tries to churn out some new decks or deck updates. Sometimes these are thematic and writers of all skill level like to do this. Two of the best at this type of article are Patrick Chapin and Gerry Thompson who have an annoying knack at just throwing out decks that whoops define formats.
Must be nice fellas.
Some of these articles are quite academic in nature such as attempts to amalgamate decks from source lists in tournament results or deck creation by way of specific schema or theory. Others are more basic and are literally a writer jamming out decks that have no testing whatsoever; some of these have a stream-of-consciousness style that make them a hybrid with The Kerouac (see below). Patrick Chapin has perhaps the most notable hybrid with a Satire in his article "Sixty"; Matt Sperling's recent Scars review was a hybrid Deck Jam Session (as often occurs with The Set Review).
New formats (due to rotation or changes like banning or restriction) tend to result in a number of these articles and they're also very common during new set releases and during “down” periods when not much else is occurring on the tournament front.
The Ramble is different from The Rant which tends to be fueled by anger disgust and disdain. The Ramble may have some degree of this but it isn't the main focus of the piece. Rather a Ramble is an article that lacks a roadmap an A to B progression. It isn't a persuasive piece or a specific analytical writing or a theoretical discussion or launch pad.
A Ramble can result from several different article beginnings. Sometimes a writer wants to cover a number of diverse topics in brief detail and the result is The Ramble. Other times the writer may begin without a topic in mind and result is The Ramble. The tone of the piece might be serious and strategic or it might be humorous in nature.
Note that not every Ramble is a Kerouac but they're often hybridized.
Question and answer with someone or a group of people. These often skew towards entertainment or at times a sneaky way to make a request for a certain action from Wizards of the Coast or the DCI.
While these often strike me as filler and some are painfully self-indulgent on the part of both parties or are full of in-jokes to the extent that they're nonsensical to all but a small group of folks (see: any interview by Flores) there are some that transcend this to be enjoyable and informative.
The Theory Article
This is without a doubt the hardest article to get right because many basic foundational theory articles have already been written. There are some people that seem to gravitate to these articles and have a high enough batting average to get away with it (Flores Chapin) at least sometimes while others have repeatedly attempted to write them over long careers and mostly failed.
One problem with The Theory Article is that people love to argue Magic theory and there's very little acceptance of basic and common Magic terms like tempo active / reactive metagame deck and so on. Deck labels (control combo aggro and the hybrids in between) are often challenged as well; getting people to agree on basic principles and to build a theory on top of those principles is very difficult. Some people try to work around this by building a “theory of everything” that replaces existing verbiage with something new (Stock Mana Interaction Theory and so on). When people present these articles you often see a group of people who are very critical of these articles while others (particularly their authors oddly enough…) swear by their validity.
In my opinion a successful Theory Article is one that makes you think about the game in a new way. Even if you disagree with some piece of a Theory Article or perhaps even all of it if it's well written and thought-provoking then to some degree it's successful.
And trust me; if you can walk away from a Theory Article with at least a few people engaging in thoughtful conversation then you've done well.
The Stratego is a strategy article designed to help you master one or several specific parts of Magic gameplay especially the mechanical parts of actually playing the game. Two of the more typical categories covered include sideboarding and mulligans. Both of these parts of the game are critically important yet hardly anyone can agree on them which is a reason why writers often go “back to the well” on these topics.
Other common topics for the Stratego include: understanding matchups in detail (so you might see the inclusion of a Play-by-Play) how to build a mana base ideas for winning political battles in multiplayer games bluffs / mind tricks how to focus and what to focus on and so on. These articles are often requested by readers as they're the type of article that help you get better at Magic provided that the information contained is any good.
The Position Piece
This is your basic persuasive argument sort of an op-ed piece if you will; it's like a Rant with less anger and more scholastic tone. These are the types of articles where someone says something like Cruel Ultimatum will warp Standard or Legacy Zoo is a steaming pile. This article tends to be the one most like to lead to a Rebuttal article along with Magic Theory articles.
Someone wrote something and I disagree strongly.
That's The Rebuttal.
I'm a huge fan of The Rebuttal either in piece or in whole. For example at times someone will write an article that has overlap with something else recently published which lends an opportunity to include a brief or partial rebuttal. Other articles are completed dedicated to a rebuttal in whole and I've done this a few times over the past two years.
Rather than go after someone on Facebook or forums or Twitter if another author writes a piece that you have a clear understanding of and strongly disagree with The Rebuttal is a great way to offer a counter opinion. Doing so in a manner that isn't offensive to the author of the original article you're rebutting is the challenging piece of The Rebuttal; although often the entire point of The Rebuttal is to discredit another writer and/or a writer's ideas so (for better or worse) people are often not worried about offending the original writer.
The Play-by-Play is a sub-type of the Stratego but is different as it's inclusive of many points of strategy surrounding one specific game or in-game situation. Perhaps the best example I can give is Richard Feldman's One Game a fantastic article that covers almost every facet of a game in which one player is severely mana-flooded along the way. Stephen Menendian has written several of these articles as have others; Feldman's piece is an example of how much depth there is in seemingly simple in-game actions during a game of Magic while other versions of this article may include brief recaps of games to cover many games in Play-by-Play style.
In some respects Match Coverage is a Play-by-Play the difference being that those games are simply factual accounts that may contain interesting strategic nuggets whereas the intentional Play-by-Play article uses specific examples to convey chosen pieces of strategy.
Oft-requested Play-by-Play articles include mirror matches when a “best deck” format is involved or a Play-by-Play may be an extension of (or included in) a Primer.
I believe that The Primer is one of the underrepresented articles in modern Magic writing. You might say that this article is a Primer for the types of Magic articles and as such would be useful (I'm hoping anyway…) for someone looking to get into Magic writing. Similarly the Primer in Magic is a start-to-finish look at a specific deck or class of decks. It's meant to be an introduction and reference point for players looking to learn more about a deck but may also be used as a way of introducing an entirely new deck.
The Primer is often included as an article within an article such as in long Tournament Reports. Sometimes such a Primer is necessary when a new deck is the subject of a Tournament Report or that report won't make sense to the majority of readers. Another common place to find Primers many of which are quite good is in Magic forums such as The Source The Mana Drain and MTG Salvation. Frank Karsten is one of the all-time masters of the Primer having at times maintained Primers on entire formats on the Wizards forums.
As with some other articles The Primer lends itself to being a more academic piece and can sometimes come off as dry or even boring; additionally a good Primer includes information for the newbie as well as the advanced player to broaden appeal and give additional relevance. Still I believe that having good Primer articles available is essential as a way of helping new players succeed at the competitive level.
Lumped in with the Primer is an offshoot the Deck Evolution.
The Metagame Review
The Metagame Review article is often associated with Mike Flores and his SWOT articles but this type of article has become more common and is no longer really tied to a specific format change (such as the unfortunate commencement of Extended PTQ Season). When written well these articles are regarded highly by the Magic player base as they're key tools for those looking for a reference point for a given format at a point in time. The two usual pieces of The Metagame Review are a gauntlet of decks and some sort of presentation of hierarchy or matchup information for those decks or at minimum strategic strengths and weaknesses for them.
For players of Eternal formats the Metagame Review can be especially important as these formats receive less coverage from the mainstream Magic media and deck results from events can be harder to locate. With Legacy coverage picking up dramatically in the past two years and the format now existing online almost as it does on paper this is slightly less an issue for Legacy players than in the past.
A good Metagame Review is trying to give the reader a sense of what's happening at a high level in a given format for a specific time period. It isn't really enough to say that Deck X is winning Y percent of tournaments; a more comprehensive review attempting to quantify deck strength in matchups should include data showing deck popularity overall against Top 8 penetration and tournament wins and so on to the extent that this data is available. Additionally helping readers understand not just what's winning but why specific decks are winning is critical.
This is similar to the TBS (see below) but different in that it encompasses several tournaments or a season of tournaments to date.
Another of my favorites The Satire can take many forms some blatant and some subtle. In a way The Satire is an alternate take on The Rant that reads a bit like a funny Rebuttal; it can be either less offensive or more offensive depending on the topic of The Satire and how it's meant to be received. Effective Satires are among the best articles you'll ever read as they can be entertaining and thought-provoking at the same time and tend to be memorable.
The basic idea of The Satire is to take a look at an idea person deck theory or really anything that can be discussed and to humorously discredit or counter the thing being discussed. For instance you might write an article in the style of another author or take something written previously and alter key components or change the lyrics of a song or alter pictures or assign nicknames etc. A full-on Satire is an entire article designed to be funny and break down the work ideas or statements of someone else and make you think about it differently.
As with The Rant The Satire is also an article form that should be used in moderation as very few people can crank out quality articles in this form on a regular basis. Additionally keep in mind that some writers naturally use a voice that lends itself to elements of The Satire but aren't necessarily writing Satires each week. Writers I'd lump into that category include Cedric Phillips and Craig Stevenson but the list is quite long. Craig Stevenson's articles are some of the funniest you'll ever read by the way. Look him up in the archives.
Note – There probably should be a subcategory for LOLs which are articles written strictly for the guffaws. There aren't many of these and most are Satires or Rants but there are occasionally some articles that just exist to make you laugh.
This is a tough one because it's more of a stylistic overlay to other articles that may include Tournament Reports The Ramble Stratego and so on; this is really a Ramble written in stream-of-consciousness style that may include elements of other article forms one that takes you on a journey that may or may not completely make sense. The amount of actual Magic content will vary wildly.
Two writers that use this style on occasion are Patrick Chapin and Kyle Sanchez – well Sanchez sort of used it primarily for his best output – but there are others; for instance those prone to meander across topics like GFabs or Osyp may dabble in this style. This type of writing is found in articles that are personable but not necessarily personal.
If you've read a Kerouac book I suspect you know what I'm trying to say here and some articles will come to mind; for others think of this type of article as say the Hunter S. Thompson style but hopefully with significantly less drug use and less hostility. Articles that take you on a trip somewhere with the author perhaps a disjointed one at times but an enjoyable one nevertheless with some interesting and useful information here and there perhaps only tangentially related to Magic and that may have MS Paint drawings or rap lyrics; these are the hallmarks of the Kerouac.
The Personal Reveal
From time to time writers produce an article that's only loosely tied to Magic; although most of these articles have at least some sort of subtext that includes Magic in one form or another. Rich Hagon and Abe Sergeant wrote my two favorites in this category and there's a classic by Richie Profit as well. I think for most writers this is among the hardest of articles to produce.
When a writer has established good faith and the trust of his readers one can get away with writing a Personal Reveal with almost no Magic content at all. Other articles are a blend of the Personal Reveal with a normal Magic piece of writing.
This often isn't really a Magic article at all even less than the Personal Reveal or the more abstract Kerouacs but rather is a piece of fiction writing (or quasi-biographical or autobiographical) disguised as a Magic article. These are relatively rare as they're hard to pull off but when they work they're awesome. Mark Rosewater's recent interview on this website with Ted Knutson seems to have produced a few of these the past several weeks.
There are several types of The Lament chief among them The Lament of the Has-Been and The Lament of the Never-Was or the Lament of Opportunity Squandered. The Lament is often meant for entertainment purposes or for the recovery or self-assessment of the writer and tends to be self-deprecating but this is also an article that can sneak into your other writing unannounced. Watch out for that. When done intentionally these can be great but when unintentional they are painful and awkward.
None of Rizzo's articles fit any known classification of any writing ever; thus they all fall under the category of The Rizzo. If the Kerouac is a stylistic overlay the Rizzo is Magic writing in the form of a nuclear bomb made out of radioactive LSD.
Do not try to write an article in this category.
The TBS (Tournament Box Score)
This article is similar in some ways to the Metagame Breakdown but is different in that it's taking a highly detailed look at one specific tournament. Jared Sylva does these for the StarCityGames.com Open events for example and Adrian Sullivan has often looked in detail at results from events from the PTQ and States level on up to the Pro Tour level. Stephen Menendian and I have both done these types of articles on Vintage and Legacy events as well.
Where a Metagame Breakdown is presenting a gauntlet and/or hierarchy of decks in a given format a TBS is drilling down into a specific tournament to look at what cards were played in what decks which decks performed well and perhaps even looking at the effect of variations among specific decks (such as Merfolk with a white splash compared to mono-blue or a black splash) or the performance of each Pillar in a Vintage event.
The challenge with these types of articles is in keeping the writing interesting as the topic tends to be very academic in nature. Some people love to crunch numbers but that can be a turn-off for those looking for entertainment or just decklists.
The Wall Street Journal
There are two major types of these articles. The first is about trading.
I know a lot of people love these trading articles where someone starts out with only a lowly piece of Government Cheese and over a period of weeks even months of intensive trading for value and grinding out incremental increases they end up with a Mox!
Yes countless hours of work and potentially grey ethical maneuvers resulting in a… few hundred dollars of profit.
Ignore the fact that hourly wage calculations on these activities would show you that you should just get a part-time job and skip the whole process because really the value in this activity is that it just flat-out appeals to certain folks. And for those folks articles or series of articles on how best to ethically make this happen can be interesting.
Personally I do enjoy articles that focus more on the cards that are increasing or decreasing in value and most importantly why; by the time you read an article on a certain card's value change it's probably too late for you to get much out of it but if that article explains the concepts that drive the value change you can get ahead of the curve in the future.
The second type of Wall Street Journal is one that looks more at card values and the suggested trend lines for those values. I much prefer those articles as they keep you able to trade intelligently.
The Draft Walkthrough / The Sealed Pool
Self-explanatory; the Sealed Pool most often comes into play from Prerelease and Release events and during Limited PTQ Season while drafting is an ongoing thing. Seems to be supplanted lately by the Draft Video which is somewhat irritating as I cannot watch those at work. Not that I read or write articles while at work.
Ahem moving on.
The Flavor Savor
Articles about flavor text artwork and even more ephemeral things like packaging playmates pimping cards or doing alters or even sleeves all fall under this category.
Note that these types of articles can be a great break from skull-crunching strategy pieces even for tournament veterans. While many of us may be hesitant to admit it the “flavor” of Magic is one of the things that sets it apart from other similar gaming alternatives. Reminders of that are enjoyable at least to me despite the fact that I'm often oblivious to them when focusing on the strategic element of the game itself.
Writers generally churn out one of these when they hit a milestone such as 100 / 200 / 300 articles or something of that nature; a final article often includes some degree of The Retrospective.
However you could also apply this nomenclature to articles that recap a format before it rotates or recaps a PTQ season just ending or the end of a calendar year or anything similar.
The Weekly Recap
These are popping up in various places on the internet and are different than an automated feeder. Various sites have a writer who compiles the best or most interesting articles from the previous week and some websites recap their own content.
Note that this author never makes those lists. It's cool though guys; it doesn't bother me seriously. [ *Pat pat* –LL ]
While I've listed many different types of articles above it's very common to find hybrid articles that pull from two or more of these categories at the same time. You may find articles where several mini-articles are combined to push an article to necessary length but other times it may be a thematic blend of pieces.
Hybrid Example – Cedric and Goblins
This article by Cedric Phillips is an example of several article forms combined: Stratego Primer and Position Piece: "Goblins in Legacy."
In it Cedric explains why you should play Goblins in order to beat Survival and Merfolk and how you construct the deck to do so. His assumption – that Goblins beats those decks – was challenged and led to a Rebuttal / Tournament Report hybrid the following week: "Goblins Followup."
Hybrid Example - The Tramble Report
Generally a Tournament Report focuses on one event. Thankfully Pro players tend to hit many events in rapid succession sometimes battling online in-between events. Many classic tournament reports focus on the events before and after a tournament but what happens when multiple events are included in less detail than a normal report? The in-between events may be far more broad-reaching in this type of article a cross between a Ramble and a traditional Tournament Report such as: Gerry Thompson's "A Trip to Chicago Toronto and Beyond."
You can actually hybridize almost any number of these article types but I'll let you figure those out on your own. And be aware that this list is not all-inclusive by any stretch.
I'll say this: the majority of the best writers aren't those that stick to the basic archetypes I listed above but rather the ones that sample from multiple categories at once with some sort of either targeted niche or with a distinctive voice.
Bonus Content – Article Starters
I've listed above a wide range of article types that writers will use when they're trying to come up with an article concept each week. These are archetypes article Mad Libs almost that help you start to grind out content week to week month to month. As I alluded to last week though regardless of the form or style(s) you're using in a given article you still need some idea some spark about which to write. Where do you find it especially if you haven't been playing much Magic or you have but your results have been poor?
The best thing I can suggest is simply to interact with people. Last week I had a number of article ideas literally handed to me by folks in various ways. I'm going to provide some of that content now so you can see how easy it actually is to come up with interesting articles if you chat with intelligent Magic players.
I'm sure many of you would've probably read one of the following articles but you got this one instead. That's what I'm here for y'all to deliver difficult life lessons: sometimes instead of getting what you want you get what I want.
Article 1 – How to Win in Vintage
I've long wanted to write an article about winning games of Vintage and how the central premise for me is pattern recognition. Because Vintage decks tend to break down into a relatively small number of predictable strategic plans. What appears to be an incredibly complex format at first is often rather simplistic once you understand what the decks are doing. Winning Vintage then becomes a battle to realize which path your opponent is on how far along it they've moved relative to you and what your options are to change the game state if you've fallen behind.
A few examples of the patterns I'm talking about:
(Sphere of Resistance / Chalice of the Void / Null Rod / Thorn of Amethyst) -> (Sphere of Resistance / Chalice of the Void / Null Rod / Thorn of Amethyst / Tangle Wire / Lodestone Golem) -> (Sphere of Resistance / Chalice of the Void / Tangle Wire / Thorn of Amethyst / Smokestack / Crucible of Worlds)
Article 2 – Theory Stolen from the Brain of Brad Granberry
Then I'm online talking to Brad about random this and that and he comes out with this:
“One concept I always find interesting is of viewing the world of Magic in percentages or ratios. For example why are certain cards just not played in some formats? The best way to approach this would be a cost-effect format; for example if we take a look at the popular Survival decks we can see Survival of the Fittest turns into 1G initial investment and we spend G to get a Vengevine ready; then every G after that basically turns into an extra four damage from another Vengevine before we finally pay G to return them all. So we can see that with Survival out and active G translates into four damage (after all the setup) which is basically better than a recurring Lightning Bolt.
That is a more complex way to look at it. Another way to look at it would be to examine the recent success of these B/W and B/G "Rock" decks the ones that are basically centered around Hymn to Tourach and whatnot. Imagine if both players have five cards in hand and one player casts Night's Whisper manipulating two cards to go up to six in hand. His hand is now 20% bigger than his opponent's. But compare this to the other player who when both players have five cards in hand casts Hymn to Tourach. He now has four cards to his opponent's three cards – and his hand is 33% bigger despite having manipulated the same number of cards.”
Seriously that's how this guy's brain operates over IM; Rich Shay is the same way. You can probably imagine why I wanted to be on a Vintage team with these guys.
Article 3 – Emails!
Brandon Isleib (who is also in the StarCityGames.com Talent Search!) emailed me about Magic statistics and analogues to baseball statistics which I briefly mentioned in my last article. What he sent over was really eye-opening and I hope that he or someone else with sufficient knowledge and writing skill in the appropriate areas explores this further. As it turns out Brandon has significant background and experience with this topic.
Check this out:
“I think what Spaniel is doing (and what Frank Karsten did before him) is vital. All of us are used to insignificant sample sizes even in pretty good playtesting I'd say and only work as macro as Spaniel's can get to the heart of what matchups work and what don't.
I once tried to do something for The Hardball Times on benches and bullpens as baseball's version of metagaming; although my editor played MTG he didn't see the thread as sufficiently compelling.
As both games are heavily about matchups (and to some extent available resources) there may be some parallels there. My intuition is telling me there's some connection to be made between zone rating and having your matchups covered but that may only come out later.
Relief pitcher leverage may have multiple analogs in combat math including blocking and instant-speed tricks of various stripes. Of course relief pitcher leverage has defined tables for the abstract which if I remember Tom Tango's work correctly change based on the run environment (whose proper analog would be speed of the format). There may be a sort of blocking / Doom Blade leverage index that could come out of this...
…the idea in any resource-oriented game that the proper leverage of your best pieces is essential overrides everything and even if that's sort of "tech"-y in sabermetrics it's a backdoor sort of connection made easy. Chess is like both baseball and Magic in terms of leverage and I think there's a Venn diagram overlap of concepts sufficiently that you can get the basics through. I actually think that familiarity with the basics of baseball statistics would be misleading to the Magic reader; the analysis of one can be made to resemble the analysis of the other but zoom in too closely and there are problems.”
Awesome. Seriously one of the best parts about writing is getting emails as cool as this one.
For me the hardest part of writing was clearing the first few articles. Since then I've found that even when I hardly play Magic for weeks I have more topics to cover than I can ever get to in a timely manner. They literally just come in from all over the place.
Anyway that's enough for this week as my editor is probably already plotting her revenge for this article…
*I've included references as examples of each article type. These are simply that: examples. They're not meant to represent the absolute best-of-all-time from each category in any way shape or form. While I encourage you to post decks in the forums from each category that you consider archetype defining or best-of I'd ask that you do so without asking “Why did you not include article
Voltron00x on SCG TMD and The Source