Morals, Friendship, and Ethics or Who Stole The CMU-Togit Kobe Decks?
Before I go into this article, let me introduce myself to the great StarCityGames.com audience. My name is Antonino De Rosa. Some of you know me as a big buffoon, and others know me as a true master. I am not really sure which opinion is more accurate, and I guess I will let you guys be the judge of that. I have been writing for over six months at Togit.com and I am sure many of youse guys have found my work an enjoyable read.
There are two reasons I have decided to start writing for Star City:
1) I love the forums. I believe they are a great way to find out what you're doing right or wrong in your writing adventures.
2) Me and Ted are down like two flat tires.
I will write a weekly column about anything, so if you guys have any ideas on what you want to read in the future, feel free to drop me a few lines and I'll try my best to please everyone.
The title of this article is"Morals, Friendship, and Ethics." You're probably wondering what in the world I am talking about, and you just have to read on to find out. I have been playing professional Magic for the last four years, and the friendships I have made are countless. Matt Rubin and Gerard Fabiano are the two brothers I wish I had, Gary Wise is the dad I wish I had, Luca Chiera, Stefano Fiore, Mario Pascoli, Andrea Santin, Guido Pacifici, and many more Italians are some of my closest friends. Without the people I have met throughout the years, Magic would be meaningless. Friendship means"the quality of being friends," and it's probably the most valuable thing I take away from the game.
Now this is where it gets tricky... I have lots of friends on the Pro Tour, but there are many degrees of friendship. I wouldn't go out of my way to help Brian Kibler, like I would go out of my way to help Ben Stark. Does that mean me and Kibler aren't friends? Nope, it just means that we aren't as tight as me and BenS.
The next term in my title is Morals or"conforming to standards of what is right or just in terms of behavior." Now who is to say what I do is right or wrong? We all have different opinions on what is right and what is wrong. The real question is how far can you go with your behavior and still be morally correct? That is a question that is very hard to answer, and it's based on people's personalities. There are plenty of behaviors that Trey Van Cleave might find morally right, that I am sure Mike Turian finds morally incorrect. What Mike Long does to win a match, I am sure is something you will never see from someone like Dave Price. The antics used by Jordan Berkowitz or Mark Zadjner will never be used by Eugene Harvey.
The final term I want to explore is Ethics or"the rules or standards governing the conduct of a person or the members of a profession." Professional Magic has Ethics above and beyond the rules of the game, and all of the members of our beloved community have different beliefs as to what is Ethical and what is not Ethical. Where am I going with this introduction? Well, let me explain what has happened in the last week to inspire me to write this, and we'll see how the actions apply to the definitions I listed above...
For every Constructed Pro Tour, all the pros divide themselves in groups to form what we call a test team. The main purpose of a team is to break any given format. These teams are usually formed based on how close you live to one another and whether you are friends with all the team members. As far as I am aware, North America has three major teams: the first one is CMU-TOGIT, which is basically everyone from Pittsburgh, New Jersey, and Florida with a pinch of a Gary Wise and Gabe Walls. The second team is New YMG, comprised of old YMG, and now including the Dutchies, Berkowitz, Zadjner, Rich Hoaen, Jeff Cunningham, Aeo Paquette, and the English. The final team is what I consider the Uber Team, since it's full of stars from across the US like: Brian Kibler, Huey Jensen, Matt Linde, PTR, Brock Parker, and the Baby Face Assassin.
Now every PT, we try our best to keep our tech secret from other teams. Additionally, not once in recent history did any team go out of their way to get others decks. You just don't do that, as it's unethical, especially since we are all supposed to be friends. As an example, I have roomed with people from other teams for a Constructed PT and it didn't even cross my mind to go into their bag and steal their decks. I never tried to make anyone on another team uncomfortable by asking them questions I knew they couldn't answer. It's something you just don't do.
For this PT, we (Togit-CMU) had the pleasure of testing on Darksteel Beta for Magic Online. Our team tested a great deal on the Beta server, mainly because Beta Magic Online is much more fun and enjoyable than Apprentice. Last week, Jeff Cunningham had the good fortune to somehow have been given moderator powers on this server by mistake. He went out of his way to log on my team members accounts and watch games between my team members. As part of watching these games he shouldn't have watched, was able to see and steal all of the decks we were working on.
Was that morally incorrect? Is what he did Ethical or Unethical? Should the friendship he has with me, BenS, Gerard, or Turian have stopped him? These are questions that everyone would answer differently. I am a big sissy, and believe friendship should always be placed first and foremost in front of a game. Jeff is a guy who I gave a place to sleep in Venice, is someone that Mike and Eugene invited to their house, someone that Gerard goes out of his way to say hi and bye to at every event. I like Jeff, and feel he is a very clever person and very fun to hang out with, but what he did was way out of line.
It's not like me and Nate Heiss were playing in the middle of the tournament site the night before the PT, and he just walked by and saw the decks. He went out of his way to screw his friends, and help his teammates and other friends. Is that wrong? Would it have been unethical for him to know he could watched our games, but didn't do it? Would his teammates be mad if they found out he had such powers and didn't use them to benefit his team?
Yesterday while chatting on #wisedraft Jeroen Remie said"I think if any Toggiter had those powers, they would have used them." Well I can wholeheartedly state that Jeroen's comment is completely wrong, and it angers me that people would judge character without really knowing how certain people would act. I could unequivocally state that no one on my team would have gone out of their way to steal decks from another team like Jeff did, nor would they have released the contents of those decks to the rest of the team.
I asked some other members for their opinion on the events that transpired and here's what they had to say:
Morgan Douglass -" I think he went over the line."
Matt Rubin -"[What Jeff did was] very unethical, not something a 'real friend' would do. [He clearly] cares more about the game than the friends."
Mark Wraith -"I thought Jeff was a good egg ... [but it] turns out he's a scumbag of the worst order."
Rich Hoaen -"What Jeff did was wrong, but the reaction has been greatly exaggerated."
Osyp -" I don't think anything he said validates what happened. Regardless of how sincere he was, what he did was still wrong. Maybe it's because he doesn't have a real job, but in business those practices would never fly, it's unethical, plain and simple."
Gerard Fabiano -"I wont shake his hand ever again."
Mike Turian thinks he is scum.
Ben Stark -"Jeff is the new Trey Van Cleave."
Josh Ravitz -"When you look up 'scumbag,' Cunningham's picture comes up in the dictionary."
In conclusion, everyone should understand the anger that runs through CMU-TOGITs members. What Jeff did in our eyes unethical, morally wrong, and against our friendship. Oh, and did I mention it was wrong? In Jeff's eyes and those of most of his team members, I am sure they don't think anything of it. In fact, he was probably congratulated by them. Hopefully Jeff's actions will raise the question you all should be asking yourself"What would I have done in Jeff's shoes?" How do you know when you're going too far to get an edge in Magic? Jeff didn't cheat or break the rules of the game, but you have to ask yourself: What's more important? The time with your"friends" or winning?
Maybe that's why I don't win much, because we all know the way I answer all those questions.
[Editor's Note: I tried to contact Jeff Cunningham before publishing this, so that he could comment on the article, but was unable to do so. Jeff will be given rebuttal space on the front page, if he wants it.]
What I've learned about Darksteel
Okay peoples, enough with the questions, and on to some actual Magic information that might prove useful to you. The PTQs for San Diego have just started, and I know everyone is eager to win that magical blue envelope. Unfortunately, there isn't much I can say to help you, since my awful performance in Oakland didn't allow me to fight among the best on draft day.
The way I can help you is by giving you guys a few hints on what to do while building your sealed deck. This format is much faster than MMM was. When building your decks, you should keep that in mind. I built my deck in Oakland with the most powerful spells I could muster, thinking the format was the same as I played in Grand Prix: Kansas City and GP: Munich. My deck had three seven-drops and three six-drops. If my Myr would ever die, I think I couldn't possibly win.
The first reason why this format is much faster is because of the land affinity guys. These creatures are very efficient and very undercosted for what they do in Limited. If you get a slow start and your opponent is fortunate enough to go turn 3 Razor Golem or turn 3 Spire Golem, it's almost impossible to race that with you hand full of five, six, and seven drops. The second reason this format is much faster is because of the new Timberwatch Elf of the format: Vedalken Engineer. I don't think I have seen anyone lose once they untapped with this guy in play on turn 3. Playing versus Vedalken Engineer without a Myr in play is like running a race as Matt Rubin vs. Ben Stark.
The third reason this format is much faster is because Black got much better in the new set. Black has many new aggressive cards: Chittering Rats will make your game a nightmare if you need to pluck that important fourth or fifth land. Grimclaw Bats speed up games by a bunch, as do Scavenging Scarab, and Nim Abomination. The Arcbound guys are another important factor why the games are much faster. Nowadays, it's harder to trade and keep the board empty. These guys allow you to force damage through, trading with your opponent while making your other dudes bigger.
One thing I love about Darksteel is the new Equipment. I have always been an Equipment advocate, but I think it is much better now. I think Leonin Bola makes it impossible to win a damage race that your already losing. Sword of Fire and Ice and Sword of Light and Shadow are obviously insane... and just think about comparing them to Vulshok Morningstar (which is a bomb in my eyes, and much better than Bonesplitter). The power levels are insane.
Then there is Skullclamp... what on Earth were they thinking when they made that card an uncommon? Skullclamp is by far the best card in the format. It is so good that you can't even compare it to Fireball, another card they shouldn't have made uncommon for the sake of Limited formats everywhere. I think the rule of thumb should be,"If any deck will first pick, and play that card, it should not be uncommon." Cards in the past like Overrun and Shower of Coals were much different, since they weren't splashable by everyone and everyone's mother.
When building those sealed decks for your PTQs, make sure you pay extra attention to mana curve and creature efficiency, because its more important now than it's been since Tempest Block. Make sure you take those Chatter of the Squirrels and Ember Beasts higher than normal... Oh, sorry, wrong block... but you get my drift.
Until next time,
Antonino De Rosa
Your Drama Queen