Magic Cinema – A Few Good Lotus Cobras

Like this, but with #LotusCobra
Like this, but with #LotusCobra

Some of you may have figured out that I’ve got three loves of my life: My wife (hi hun), Magic, and Movies. Wife doesn’t play Magic, but we watch movies together, and recently I’ve been mixing Magic and movies on this blog. In this new series (Magic Cinema), I take a look at some famous scenes in movies and imagined what they might look like if Magic was the central focus of them. This is the second scene I thought of, but more relevant timing (Note: I did not plan this to fit so well with the timing of “Lotus Cobra is Evil”) Some NSFW language, but not rampant.

A Few Good Lotus Cobras

Players are mad, they’re angry that Lotus Cobra was made a mythic, and they want answers. Why would they print such a powerful card at that rarity? More importantly the players want someone’s head on a plate. WotC offered up two of the developers who made Zendikar: Grame Hopkins and Matt Place. The two said they were just following orders but no one believes them.

Two Pro Tour players have been selected to represent the Prosecution, Mike Flores (who previewed the card and said it was nuts and one of the best cards ever printed), and Defense, Patrick Chapin (who doesn’t live in “Magic Christmas Land” (Sorry, another Premium SCG article)) as well as Fanboy Evan Erwin of “The Magic Show” to reside as judge. Smelling something fishy going on, Chapin had brought fellow Pro Player Brian Kibler to help defend the two sacrificial Zendikar designers and find out the bottom of the situation. There have been rumors of cards that were supposed to go in the Mythic Rare spot instead, to even one of the other cards moved to rare so Lotus Cobra could be Mythic, to moving Lotus Cobra to a different set altogether.

As a last ditch effort during the trial, Chapin has decided to put Mark Rosewater (MaRo), the head designer of Zendikar, on the witness stand to try and get something out of him. During his investigation, two people enter the courtroom, Elane Chase and Aaron Forsythe, both WotC Employees. After mocking Chapin for a few minutes, MaRo stands up and starts to leave. Chapin has asked him to sit back down because he wasn’t done with him.

INT – MILITARY COURTROOM – MORNING

Inside the courtroom everyone is stunned that CHAPIN told MARO to get back up on the witness stand. CHAPIN sighs and takes a drink of water. He’s decided to finally go for it, the jugular. MARO goes back to the stand and sits down.

MARO
(Sarcastically)
What would you like to discuss now? My favorite color?

CHAPIN
Mr. Rosewater, Zendikar was the first set in the block had no Green Mythic opening?

MARO
Yes.

CHAPIN
Worldwake, the next set, didn’t have an open slot for a Green Rare?

EVAN
Patrick, I think we’ve covered this, haven’t we?

CHAPIN grabs both three ring binders from KIBLER.

CHAPIN
Your Honor, these are the Multiverse database developers comments for both Zendikar and Worldwake. Zendikar shows no open Green Mythic spots that had to be created. That’s the same as Worldwake’s comments as well as there were no open Green Rare spots. I’d like to admit them as Defense Exhibits “Alpha” and “Bravo”.

EVAN
I don’t understand.  You’re admitting evidence of a card hole that never existed?

CHAPIN
We believe it did, sir.
(Motioning to the WotC employees)
The Defense will be calling Elane Chase and Aaron Forsythe.  They work for WotC and have intimate knowledge of the Multiverse database.

FLORES
(Standing up)
Your Honor, these two weren’t on the list.

KIBLER
Rebuttal witnesses, Your Honor, called specifically to refute testimony offered under direct examination.

If you looked closely at MARO, you could see a drop of sweat.

EVAN
I’ll allow the witnesses.

MARO
(Upset)
This is ridiculous.

CHAPIN
MaRo, a moment ago…

MARO
(Cutting him off)
Check the database comments for Christ’s sake.

CHAPIN
We’ll get to the employees in just a minute, sir.  A moment ago said that you ordered Ken Nagle to tell his team that Lotus Cobra was not to be touched and leave it at rare in Zendikar.

MARO
That’s right.

CHAPIN
And Ken was clear on what you wanted?

MARO
Crystal.

CHAPIN
Any chance Ken ignored the order?

MARO
(confused)
Ignored the order?

CHAPIN
Any chance he just forgot about it?

MARO
No.

CHAPIN
Any chance Ken left your office and said, “The ‘old man’s wrong’?”

MARO
No.

CHAPIN
When Ken spoke to the other designers and ordered them not to touch Lotus Cobra, any chance they ignored him?

MARO
You ever spent time developing a card game, son?

CHAPIN
No, sir.

MARO
Ever made a Magic set?

CHAPIN
No sir.

MARO
Ever put your card in another man’s hands, ask him to put his card in yours?

CHAPIN
No sir.

MARO
We follow orders, son.  We follow orders or cards die. It’s that simple.  Are we clear?

CHAPIN
Yes sir.

MARO
(Reiterating forcefully)
Are we clear?

CHAPIN
(Smugly)
Crystal.

CHAPIN stands there for a moment, then starts to interrogate further like he has drawn the nuts to win the match.

CHAPIN
(continuing; beat)
MaRo, I have just one more question before I call Elane Chase and Aaron Forsythe.  If you gave an order that Lotus Cobra wasn’t to be touched at rare, and your orders are always followed, then why would it be in danger?  Why would it be necessary to raise transfer Lotus Cobra to Woldwake?

MARO sits there for a moment, looking at CHAPIN, silently. Finally, after a hard swallow, he speaks.

MARO
Lotus Cobra was getting to be in a Starter pack. We we looking at another landfall card…

CHAPIN
(Interrupting)
But that’s not what you said.  You said it was in danger of getting transferred to another set.

MARO
(beat)
Yes.  That’s correct, but–

CHAPIN
(Cutting him off)
You said, “It was in danger”.  I asked “Grave danger?” You said…

MARO
(Trying to explain)
Yes, I recall what…

CHAPIN
(Cutting him off)
I can have the Court Reporter read back your…

MARO
(Angry)
I know what I said.  I don’t need it read back to me like I’m a…

CHAPIN
Then why the two orders?
(beat)
Sir?

MARO
(beat)
Sometimes men take matters into their own hands…

CHAPIN
(Interrupting)
No sir.  You made it clear just a moment ago that your team never take matters into their own hands.  Your team follows orders or cards die.  So, Lotus Cobra shouldn’t have been in any danger at all, should it have, MaRo?

MARO
(Under his breath)
You little bastard.

FLORES
(Standing up)
Your Honor, I have to ask for a recess to–

CHAPIN
I’d like an answer to the question, Judge.

EVAN
(Beat)
The Court will wait for answer.

CHAPIN
If Ken told his men that Lotus Cobra wasn’t to be touched, then why did it have to be transferred?

MARO is looking at CHASE and FORSYTHE.

CHAPIN
(continuing)
MaRo?

MARO says nothing and shifts his gaze back to CHAPIN.

CHAPIN
(continuing)
Ken ordered the Mythic Rarity, didn’t he? Because that’s what you told him to do.

FLORES
Object!

EVAN
Counsel.

CHAPIN will keep going through FLORES’ objections and the threats of EVAN.

CHAPIN
And when it went bad, you cut these guys loose.

FLORES
Your Honor…

EVAN
That will be all, counsel.

CHAPIN
You had Buehler sign a phony transfer order…

FLORES
Judge…

EVAN
Counsel, I’ll hold you in contempt.

CHAPIN
You doctored the database.

FLORES
Damnit Chapin!!

EVAN
Consider yourself in contempt!

CHAPIN
(Yelling)
Mark Rosewater, did you order the Mythic rarity?

EVAN
You don’t have to answer the question!

MARO
I’ll answer the question. You want answers?

CHAPIN
I think I’m entitled to them.

MARO
(Angerly)
You want answers?!

CHAPIN
(Demanding)
I want the truth!

MARO
(Yelling)
YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!

And nobody moves.

MARO
(continuing)
Son, we design a game that has rules. And that game has to be designed by people with experience.  Who’s gonna do it? You?  You, Brian Kibler?  I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom.  You weep for Lotus Cobra’s rarity and you curse the designers.  You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know, that Lotus Cobra’s rarity, while tragic, probably saves Magic.  And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves Magic.
(beat)
You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me designing Magic.  You need me designing Magic.
(boasting)
We use words like casting cost, rarity, loyalty…we use these words as the backbone to a life spent creating something.  You use ’em as a punchline.
(beat)
I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very game I design, then questions the manner in which I design it. I’d rather you’d just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a pen and start designing cards.  Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you’re entitled to!

CHAPIN
(quietly)
Did you order the Mythic rarity?

MARO
(beat)
I did the job I’ve been sent to do.

CHAPIN
(Yelling)
Did you order the Mythic rarity!?

MARO
(Yelling)
YOU’RE GODDAMN RIGHT I DID!

Silence.  From everyone.  EVAN, FLORES, KIBLER, no one. MARO seems strangely, quietly relieved.  CHAPIN simply takes control of the room now.

CHAPIN
If it would please the court, I suggest the jury be dismissed so that we can move to an immediate Article 39a Session.  The witness has rights.

Silence.

EVAN looks to FLORES.

EVAN
Flores?

FLORES is frozen.  He doesn’t know what to do.

CHAPIN
(as a friend)
Mike?

FLORES looks at CHAPIN, then MARO, then nods his head “yes” to EVAN.

EVAN
The Head Judge will take the jury to an another room where you’ll wait until further instruction.

The HEAD JUDGE begins leading the JURORS out of the room. MARO stands up and walks off the stand, looking around the room.

MARO
What the hell’s going on?

No one will say anything until the jurors are out of the room.

MARO
(continuing; to Flores)
Flores, what the hell’s going on?  I did my job.  I’d do it again.  Now I’m getting on a plane and going back to Renton.

EVAN
You’re not going anywhere. T.O.s, guard the prisoner.

Two T.O.s have come to stand side-by-side with MARO.

MARO
What the hell-

FLORES
Mark Rosewater, you have the right to remain silent.  Any statement you do make can be used against you in a trial.  You have the right …

FLORES continues reading MARO his rights as he starts to object.

MARO
I’m being charged with a crime? I’m… that’s what this is…
(Flores is doing his job. MARO Looks at everyone who’s silent)
I’m being charged with a crime?  This is funny, that’s what this is. You know that, this is—

And MARO lunges at CHAPIN. The T.O.s grab and restrain MARO. KIBLER stands up next to CHAPIN.

MARO
(continuing; to CHAPIN)
I’m gonna tear your eyes right outta your head and piss in your dead skull.  You fucked with the wrong designer!

FLORES is done reading MARO his rights.

FLORES
Mr. Rosewater, do you understand those rights as I have just read then to you?

The courtroom is silent. MARO takes a deep breath and relaxes his body. The T.O.s let go but stand right there.

MARO
(continuing)
You fuckin’ people.
(beat)
You have no idea how to design a game. All you did was weaken Magic today, Chapin. That’s all you did.  You put the game in danger.  Sweet dreams, son.

CHAPIN
Don’t call me son.
(beat)
I’m a Pro Player, and a fan of the game of Magic.  And you’re under arrest you sonofabitch. The witness is excused.

FADE TO BLACK

With my deepest apologies to Aaron Sorkin.

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