This week’s In Development – Smackdown!

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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.

GP Schedule 2011 – Go, go home town!

The Grand Prix schedule for 2011 has been released. Click here to check it out.
2010 saw a Pro Tour in my home town, and this year there’s going to be a Grand Prix in San Diego as well. The format is Extended, which is pretty nice – although the timing ends up being potentially awkward, since it’s just shy of Thanksgiving weekend (although that may or may not end up being in San Diego anyway, so it’s probably fine).
Given the busy nature of my work schedule, I’m likely to make it to other GPs only if they intersect with that schedule – so clearly it’s time to start figuring out which conferences I’m attending in 2011, to see which ones (if any) align with GP dates.
Which PTs will you plan to attend in 2011?

Two great articles on thinking and Magic

This was a good week for ManaNation – probably all around, since one Mr. Jarrett got hitched. On the Magic content side, ManaNation hosted two excellent articles that will, one way or another, change how you think about Magic. Also, if you’re able to generalize, they’ll probably change how you think about pretty much everything else you do.
In no particular order…
Adam Styborski’s A Screen Full of Win covers a concept that’s near and dear to my heart – writing as a thinking tool. Adam presents a nice, concise overview of how and why writing can make you better at things like playing Magic.
I’ve learned over the years that if I want to seriously think about pretty much anything, I have to write about it. That’s how I ended up writing this site, and subsequently writing for ChannelFireball. Similarly, I write when I want to think about biology, which is what’s prompted me to put up my more science-related site (launching soon).
Even if you haven’t been reading Adam’s work on ManaNation and the mothership, you may recognize him from our back-and-forth about social contracts and casual gaming.
Kelly Reid’s Magical Hacks – The Workflow of Your Turn adapts the concept of workflow to running through a single turn of Magic. I know this type of article can seem imposing at a glance – after all, most people don’t put that much structured thought into much bigger tasks such as tackling a week’s worth of work, or packing for a move. The point, of course, is that if you start thinking about things in this manner, it isn’t a big deal – if you don’t quite get that, find a friend who’s been in the military and ask them to go through a complex task they learned in the service.
I’ve written about a related concept before, in my article Observe, Orient, Decide, Act, in which I look at how our attention and decision cycles factor into game play. Kelly’s article this week describes a structure that will help you deploy your OODA loop successfully.
They’re both good reads, so I recommend checking them out if you haven’t already.

This week’s In Development – Straight out of Tokyo! (also, transformational sideboarding)

It’s In Development time again…actually, I think it was In Development time about eight hours ago, but it’s 9pm here in Shinjuku, Tokyo, and I’m pretty disconnected from what’s going on back in the U.S.
That did not, however, stop me from delivering some quality content to you all in this week’s edition of In Development. This time around we’re looking at transformational sideboards – what are they, how do they work, and when do you want to run them?
Click here to read the article and then find me on twitter and let me know what you think.

This week’s In Development – Fauna Shaman decks with Necrotic Ooze

It’s been a hectic time in the house of Gifts, as I’m preparing to head off to Japan in about a day for a research conference. However, despite it all I had some time to think about what I might play were I able to make it to States this weekend.
In a nutshell, it’s all about the Fauna Shaman.
This week’s In Development features a discussion of Fauna Shaman in Zendikar-Scars Standard, including a review of the expected varieties and two new decks featuring everyone’s favorite 4/3 Fauna Shaman, Necrotic Ooze.
Click here to read the article. As a special compare-and-contrast bonus, click here to read Gavin Verhey’s elucidation of a startlingly similar Fauna Shaman deck. A quick check shows that we chose 51/60 of the same card in our maindecks, and 11/15 in our sideboards, which is pretty cool given that we didn’t trade notes.