This week’s In Development – In which I cite a firearms study

It’s In Development time again, and I’m looking at power!
Cue Ian McDiarmid here – “I have the power. Un…limited…POWER!”
Are designing a deck? Tweaking a deck? Picking someone else’s deck?
Whatever the situation, you’ll surely want to know if your deck is powerful enough. Which might prompt you to ask…what makes a deck “powerful?” What does that mean, anyway? Could there be a way of conceptualizing it, or, say, a rule of thumb?
Maybe. And maybe that’s what I wrote about this week.
Check it out, and then let me know what you think.

Allergic to victory

Every so often, comment threads prompt me to start asking, “Why would anyone..?” before I complete my own thought with, “Because anyone can comment.”
As C.S. Lewis, among others, reminds us, there is a natural human impulse to tear down. I’ve heard this expressed in the particularly American context as rooting for everyone to do well, then hating them when they do. So it’s not exactly surprising that you could bet money, blind, on seeing ill-considered, angry-sounding comments on almost any online content.
So it goes.
That said, I do find particularly curious the brand of hate that gets fired at fellow ChannelFireball writer and local nice guy Matt Nass.
In his latest article, Matt wrote about the Elves deck he played to a top four finish in the most recent SCG Open Series event. It’s a pretty cool article in which Matt links to a conversation that led to the build of the deck he ended up running. If you appreciate insight into how things work (and if you read anything I write, you do), then you’ll enjoy going through that, as well as his general explanation of the deck and how it played.
So, good article after a very good finish in a big event.
Naturally, the comments start with several people bitching about how all Matt ever writes about is Elves, how Matt sucks, and the ‘clever’ remark that we should have an author for each other tribe.
But you see, Matt won. Like, a lot.
And then he played a different Elves deck the following day in the Legacy Open and also did damn well, finishing in the top sixteen.
As LSV points out in his comment on the article, Guillaume Wafo-Tapa basically does the same thing Matt has been doing lately, playing some form of U/W control whenever he can…just that for Matt, it’s Elves.
Now, I get it when I draw fire for suggesting a build that hasn’t been tested particularly broadly — or, indeed, when any author draws fire for that. But Matt is talking about deck lists with which he has seen significant success at major events. As he also pointed out, he was not alone in taking the deck out for a spin on the Standard day:
Yes, that’s the American national champion busting people up with Elves.
So…what’s the issue? Is there just enough of a “Timmy” flavor to Elves as a deck to give an extra handhold to all the bitter trolls out there? As I said in the intro, I understand that there’s a basic desire to tear other people down rather than figure out how to make ourselves better. But it seems like it takes a particularly willful lack of mental integrity — in the sense of “structural” and not “moral” — to go after a successful player for their choice of paths to success.
For an outside observer, it just looks like a bunch of people who are allergic to victory.

In Development – Goals, means, ends

This is a busy week – I’m moving, and I’m planning for a whole passel of event seasons. Well, at least two.
This week’s In Development is about consciously approaching a new event season. Are you trying to take down a PTQ for Nagoya? Hitting up the SCG Opens? Involved in the next CFB seasonal series? This article is all about identifying your goals, then figuring out how you need to build your plans to achieve those goals.
So, if that’s up your alley, click here to read the article and then find me on twitter to let me know what you think.

In Development – Corvettes, Cobalts, and you

It’s In Development time again!
This week, I’m following up on a survey I posted last week, wherein I asked what people like best and hate most about Limited and Constructed. The goal? Figure out how to generate crossover appeal, so that those of us who are meh about Limited or bleah about Constructed can learn to love each other’s favorite formats.
And, not at all coincidentally, maybe actually go hit up some PTQs even if they aren’t in the formats we adore.
I got a great survey turnout, and it’s led to what I hope will be an enlightening article.
…and, of course, it let me compare Corvettes and Cobalts.
Click here to read this week’s article, and then find me on twitter to let me know what you think.
Both images are used under a Creative Commons license. The Corvette picture comes from Axel Schwenke and the Cobalt pic comes from the cryptically named Atomic Taco.

This week’s In Development – planning your way to a win

After a brief work-induced hiatus, In Development is back! This week I’m sharing some concrete planning methods and tools that you can use to prepare for big tournaments. No more last-minute panicked deckbuilding, no more confusion about what deck you want to play tomorrow.
Click here to read the article. The downloadable bits are going up as we speak, so if you don’t see them there yet, come back and try again later.
After you’ve had a chance to check out this week’s article, find me on twitter to let me know what you think.
If you’re super impatient, you can also click here for the planning template and click here for the playtest template.

A little bit of theory to go with your practice

Over on twitter, Russell Tassicker (who you may recognize from his ManaNation writing) asked what our favorite Magic theory articles of all time were.
I decided to go ahead and list the ones that have really stuck in my head before I checked in on some of the other responses. This could be a way of keeping my answer “pure,” but it’s more likely to be a way for me to shame myself over the articles I’ve forgotten.
The gigantic (gigantic!) caveat here is that I was out of Magic from 1996 through about 2007 or so, which means that there are probably good, influential pieces in the middle there that I have not yet backtracked all the way toward.
This ended up being a long post, so click through to the extended for the rest.

Continue reading

Read me at…everywhere, really.

This evening sees the fifty-seventh (really!) In Development appear over at, and the debut of my new metagame analysis column The Field Report at
I’d like to thank LSV and Jon Saso for being cool with me writing for another site, and for Ted Knutson and Pete Hoefling for, well, the same thing for a new author. The content in the columns is quite different – everything you know and love about In Development will stay there, and The Field Report features a window into a whole aspect of my appreciation of the game that I haven’t really touched on before.
Click here to read this week’s In Development – All about tilt!
Chiba From a Thousand FeetClick here to read this week’s The Field Report – In which we take a high-level view of the Standard metagame.
…and then, as always, find me on twitter and let me know what you think.
Special thanks today to Riki Hayashi, who scooped me up from the Bay Area PTQ scene for in the first place and introduced me to a wider audience.

This week’s In Development – Smackdown!

It’s In Development time again, a day late after I spent a bonus day in Korea this week (more on that adventure in the article itself!).
This week’s topic is the crushing matchup – whether that refers to a deck that you just don’t do well against, or a specific sideboard card that shuts down your game plan. See the grudge match above for reference.
As I often like to do, I’ve combined a bit of theory – playing around poor pairings – with some contemporary metagame stuff. As a consequence, this week’s column features my take on an Elves deck and a Mono-Red Aggro deck, ready to go for this weekend’s Magic Game Day.
Click here to read the article, and then find me on twitter and let me know what you think.