Author’s Note: Just as a quick update, my daughter that was born 15 weeks early is doing fantastic. She’s still in the NICU and will be until sometime in March; she’s only 8 weeks old. Catherine is now over 3 pounds, which is up dramatically from her birth weight of 1 pound 5 oz. All she needs is more time and to gain more weight, but we’re on the right track.
The exciting news coming out today is the release of Bennie Smith’s new Commander eBook: The Complete Commander. I was able to get an early copy of it, and it’s fantastic. If love Commander or want to get started, get this book. Bennie and MJ Scott did a wonderful job putting the book together and with all of the artwork from James Arnold (that awesome artwork you see on GatheringMagic.com) it just blows you away.
Do I want a hardcover of this book? Yes please.
What Bennie and MJ have done is gathered a ton of Commander related content and jammed it into this book. You want sample decklists? Done. How about strategy? In here too. Commander Deckbuilding 101? Got you covered. Maybe a little short story fiction? Right there with you. A glossary and a list of Commander staples? Yes, this book has everything.
And it’s $10. $10? That’s less than a booster draft. It’s criminal of you not to own it at that price.
But it’s not just Bennie’s words in this ebook. Just as Commander is a community format, this is a community book. There are a ton of players who have written in with their favorite Commander moments. Other members of the Commander community have written short stories, just like Star City Game’s Vorthos expert John Dale Beety. Gathering Magic’s Content Editor and Daily MTG’s Command Tower author Adam Styborski wrote the introduction. Level Five judge and “Godfather” of Commander Sheldon Menery wrote the foreward.
Editor’s Note: Since it’s MTGO week on DailyMTG.com, I decided to publish this unfinished piece since the point that I’m making still stands. You can tell right away it’s a little out of date.
If you didn’t know, a few weeks ago, my wife was admitted to the hospital with our baby’s life in danger. Our daughter was born a few days later (15 weeks ahead of her due date) at 1 pound 5 oz, was just over 12 inches long and is in the NICU. Our baby will be there until mid-March, her original due date. She’s trending in the right direction but it’s still a long battle for a few months.
Obviously, my main focus is now on family instead of Magic; that’s just the way it is. I don’t have the time/energy/focus to post/tweet about Magic like I usually do or was planning to do, especially with my idea of running 99 CMDR Problems again. I want to get this piece out; it’s not a finished/polished piece, but it is what it is. The point I was starting to make is near the end of the post, like my usual writings (I know I know, that’s a problem for me). I think for MTGO to be more successful, it does need to be treated as it’s own entity instead of just a thought after piece (as it seems from outside WotC). I was going to go into more detail and why it would be good, and maybe a followup is worth it in a little while. At the moment it stands as it is.
I do have two more pieces to write about two exciting projects I agreed to before the baby was born prematurely and when I get the go ahead to talk about them, I will. One, which I was partially involved in, before the end of the year and the second will be a few months down the road.
This doesn’t mean I’m stopping writing or playing Magic. You just have to give me some time to focus on the family first as it is emotionally draining to deal with the up and downs of my baby’s time in the NICU. You can still find me on Twitter (@mtgcolorpie) and email me (mtgcolorpie – Gmail), if you want to chat. If I don’t get back to you right away, don’t feel bad. It’s awkward being this disconnected to the daily life of Magic; checking the major Magic websites at “Magic Midnight” and reading twitter is no longer one of my daily habits currently.
Thanks for understanding, and thanks to everyone with their support and well wishes. – Robby
In case you haven’t heard, most competitive MTGO events are being shut down. Here’s the announcement, and here’s the link from Hall of Famer Brian Kibler talking about his experience with MTGO this past weekend. I fully believe that this is the final straw that made WotC finally come to the decision to “shut down” MTGO. This wasn’t the first complaint, but it was the loudest in a sea of people who have been frustrated for years.
Full disclosure: I don’t play too much MTGO. I play some, and I mess around every once in a while but I’ve never competed in one of these major events. So I’m no expert when it comes to the inter-workings of how “bad” it’s been. But I do have some general thoughts about the subject and I’m working on my “topical blogging” merit badge.
I’ve got a theory about what’s going on with the community’s take on MTGO. This “Fanboy Syndrome” (or Fangirl Syndrome if you rightfully prefer) states that the more someone loves a particular product, the more they will complain when it doesn’t meet their vision of what the product should be. Now, this doesn’t mean that fans don’t have the right to complain about when something goes wrong, but a majority of the time they’re being too critical without looking at the big picture.
Is MTGO perfect? No, obviously not. Is it the horrendous piece of garbage that I’ve been told by many Magic players? Nope, that’s the other extreme of this issue. It’s an ok working product that’s not working to it’s full potential. And it can be fixed.
I keep seeing this argument all over the internet and I’ll address it here. The main complaint is about limited print runs: things like Commander’s Arsenal, Modern Masters, From the Vaults and SDCC “Black on Black” Planeswalkers. These types of sets are hoarded by people which make them rare and hard for people to acquire. People need these cards, so why would WotC ever make it hard for players to get them? With the continued (and neverending) support of the Reserved List, WotC just cares about collectors. Screw the players, right? To quote the Reddit post that finally forced me to write this piece:
If your going to use that bullshit “secondary-market” or “collector’s will get mad”. I’m done. This is getting way out of hand. People are hoarding this shit like its gold. Its cardboard. I want to play a game. I mean half of these products are so rare and demanded with lots of $$$, that most of this shit is sitting sealed and unopened in some guys shelf, or he has multiples unopened because he’s looking to make a few dollars.
This is bullshit.
You don’t need these limited print run cards to play Magic.
I started going to prereleases when we were first introduced to Mirrodin. Since then, I can count the number of prereleases I’ve missed on one hand:
Saviors of Kamigawa (Not interested)
Coldsnap (Not interested)
Eventide (Married a few weeks before)
New Phyrexia (Other obligation)
M13 (Out of town)
For those of you counting at home, that’s 28 of 33 prereleases since Mirrodin that I’ve attended. I’ve seen changes such as the introduction of Mythics as promo cards to have them be just Rares again. I used to go to the large prereleases until WotC stopped supporting them and now prereleases are held in local gaming stores (This is not the time to talk about this). Needless to say, I’ve got some experience when it comes to these events. Since I don’t do much competitive play, the prerelease is one of the only times scheduled on my calendar that gets priority over almost everything else (PAX is right there too).
They all had the same basic set up: you get 3 packs of the new set and 3 of the large set in the block (or 6 packs if it was the large set). In the past several years, WotC has pushed the prerelease to be an event, not just an opportunity to get the cards early. You can see this in the three “gimmicks” that have happened in the past three years:
Mirrodin Besieged: “Choose Phyrexian vs Mirrian”
Avacyn Restored: “Open the Helvault”
Return to Ravnica: “Guild Box”
All three are based on the same aspect: the opportunity to experience part of the storyline. With Mirrodin Besieged, there were more players, not just Vorthos’, caring about the storyline than any other point in the game. With the Helvault, people were wondering what was inside for the swag we were going to get.
That was the worst prerelease experience I had ever experienced.
So of course, I’m kinda doing it here. Why? Because we all wanted the Ravnica Dual Lands to be reprinted in M13. They weren’t. I argued last year why that was ok, and I’m still sticking to those points. With, sigh, a “Return to Ravnica” around the corner, we know it’s going to be a multi-colored set (Zac Hill even said as much today). It wasn’t a surprise, that’s the plane; it’s like going back to Mirrodin and having us care about the Graveyard. Flavor just doesn’t work that way.
Back to speculation. Sometimes you have no facts to back it up, but just a “gut feeling.” Everywhere people were talking about how Noble Hierarch was “Absolutely” going to be in M13 since they brought back Exalted. “Why not? It fit the name/number crunch and Exalted was in the set.” That was all the evidence that people needed. The evidence against was A) Exalted was only seen in White and Black (The other returning mechanics had splashes), and B) no three colors were ever seen on a card, unless they dealt with Nicol Bolas (Blue/Black/Red). Obviously pushing a Bant card in a set with no “Bant” wasn’t going to happen.
We have evidence though for Dual Lands with Basic Land types for Return to Ravnica. Evidence in this Core Set, M13. We know this because Wizards puts cards in the Core Set that work with the Block printed before, and after (though mostly after). That’s another post in itself, but you get things like Index (helps Miracles) and Disciple of Bolas (Undying and Morbid) that help out the previous block. What “evidence” do we have this time? What could possibly happen that would make me believe that Dual Lands are going to happen in Return to Ravnica.
Because of the increase use of the Basic Land type in M13.