Why do you hate elves?

“shanoxilt” asks us this question on the RPGnet forums. Specifically, the question was:
Every time someone starts a topic that mentions fantasy cliches, many people respond that they hate elves.
Can somebody explain why they are so hated?
Personally, I think that there are so many varieties of elves that it is difficult to not find at least one type to enjoy.
Thank you for your replies. Have a pleasant day.

Some of the many fun and typically accurate replies:

The defining characteristic of elves is that they’re better than you. – Ratoslav

A race of mary-sue’s, whats not to hate.
Iron Kingdoms gave them katanas and trench coats, talk about overkill.
– GoodnightChesty

They’re the Vulcans of the Fantasy world.
Superior in every fascet, they’re stronger, faster, taller, more beautiful, smarter, and can live for many human generations. Their only downfall is that they lack the “unstable emotions” that come with being “human”.
Because of this, I’ve found, far to many of the closet basement nerds seem to be drawn to the idea of the fantasy “Master Race” and have either deemed to want to become one, idolize them, or honestly believes they are one.
– Archangel777

aaannnd that they didn’t have to do any real work to get that way. Look at Tolkien’s elves.
They have the finest food and wine. You ever see elves cooking? Nope. They have the best weapons and armor. You ever see sweaty, grimy elves toiling over a hot forge? Nope. They have the most beautiful homes. You ever see an elven carpenter or stonemason? Nope. They have the noblest, most beautiful steeds. You ever see an elf shoveling shit?
They’re prettier than you, wiser than you, stronger and faster and more skilled than you, they’ll live forever, and everything they have they conjure up with their pretty pretty princess magical pixie fairy fuckwit powers.
– Halloween Jack


Sticker shocklands, once again

In the last two months, I’ve been thinking of (gradually) picking up a full set of the shocklands, those Ravnica duals that are nearly as good as the classic, Legacy-and-Vintage-only duals I sold off two years ago. I have two reasons:
1) I think they’ll be back in a core set soon enough, perhaps as soon as eleventh edition (which I hope maintains tenth’s black borders, by the way)
2) Once Extended rolls over in late 2008, we’ll actually have the makings of a decent Extended card set across my pool of friends (for this same reason, I’ve been rounding out my Kamigawa collection, since I’ve gone back and decided I really do enjoy the flavor of Kamigawa block after all)
However, you always need more lands than anything else, and with only one amongst us having Ravnica duals, it figures that we’re going to want more. Fair enough — there’s no rush, so we should be able to pick up them up at a fair price…and until the beginning of December, that was true, with playsets of four shocklands going for less than twenty dollars.
But not anymore. Checking in with ebay shows that the prices are shooting right back up, although still short of their full-legal-in-Standard heyday. So what gives?
It’s PTQ season for PT Hollywood!
With an Extended PTQ season kicking up on January 5th, it’s no wonder that people are rushing to pick up shocklands and the prices are going back up. Fine by me, as I’m almost certainly not going to waste my money by trying to play in an Extended PTQ. I will look forward to the end of the PTQ season in early March, when people will be dumping their duals once again. In the meantime, I remain fascinated by the forces pushing the Magic secondary market.

Erick Wujcik

The unfortunate news came yesterday that Erick Wujcik was just recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer that has already spread to his liver.
You may, like me, know Wujcik from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness. This was the first roleplaying game that I bought on my own, and as a little kid, I was enthralled. He’s probably much better known for his innovative design work for Amber Diceless Role-Playing, which was quite different than anything that preceded it in the hobby. An entirely different and much larger gaming community knows him from his work on the computer gaming side, where he led work on Splinter Cell: Double Agent, Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter, and many other games.
Wujcik’s friend and sometimes publisher Kevin Siembieda has set up a tribute site here, so people can let Erick know they appreciate his work before he’s gone.
You can see his roleplaying game credits here.

People, places, and things – Magic flavor

In games, I appreciate a confluence of mechanics and flavor. It’s not enough that a game have interesting mechanical actions; it better engage me thematically as well. This is why I tend toward more characteristically “American” games like Axis & Allies, and away from purer abstracts (although I appreciate games that are fairly abstract with lighter themes, like Carcassonne).
Magic is confluence city. More in the extended.

Continue reading

2008 Pro Tour season, with 20% less World Champion

In his Star City column this week, crack podcast coverage reporter Rich Hagon tells us that brand-new World Champion Uri Peleg will not be playing in the first Pro Tour of 2008 in Kuala Lumpur.
Not by choice, but because he’s Israeli, and Malaysia doesn’t recognize Israel.
They’ve mentioned Russian players having visa issues in the past, but this is likely the first time it’s simply been impossible, for political reasons, for a “star player” to make it to a Pro Tour.

Cthulhu eats faeries

A little while ago during Lorwyn previews, Frank Karsten ended up previewing Cloudthresher in this online tech article. A lot of the online response to this was disappointment that Frank was given such an obviously “Timmy” card to discuss. Even though he mentioned the value of flashing it out, evoking it out, and hurricaning, people weren’t so keen on the Thresher.
This may have changed with Worlds. There, Thresher destroyed whole boardfulls of Faeries, and singlehandedly took care of a Hellkite in the final match to garner Uri Peleg a win. As it happens, even with quadruple green in its casting cost, a 7/7 Flash critter with a pet Skyroclasm is not bad at all.

Getting into Magic Online

I’m normally much happier playing Magic in person. It’s pleasant to sit around with friends, take in the environment, maybe watch other games or just chat with folks. That said, I’m also finding I’m at the point in life where I can’t do what I did in my grad school, Mechwarrior champion (seriously) days, and just head off to a tournament two or three days a week. However, I’d still like to be able to play, and to play in a competitive environment against a range of decks and play styles.
So I’ve been thinking about going in on a constructed deck on Magic Online for a little while now. I’m not a big fan of the virtual property, especially with redemption working the way it does (you need to complete a full set to redeem virtual cards for physical ones). However, I do like the “play whenever” convenience, including the fact that I can still hang out near my friends and loved ones instead of having to truck off to a game store thirty or more minutes away.
I started out with Magic online by playing in the current open beta. I heartily recommend this as a way to try the game for free — you can draft, play sealed, played casually — it depends on what they’re testing that week. This opportunity may go away soon, as Wizards is shooting for a release of 3.0 in early 2008. So if you’re going to try it, try it now.
You can get information on the open beta by clicking here.
One major limitation to getting into Magic online, for me, was how annoying the buying and selling environment is. Basically, you’re stuck with a cluttered, hard-to-parse message board system. Too annoying to use. While you can buy Magic Online cards on ebay, that’s also a little cumbersome and slow (although searching for and buying things via ebay is much, much easier than the trading area on Magic Online).
Fortunately, I found my solution in the cleverly-designed CardShark site. Serving both physical and virtual collectible games, CardShark is basically a virtual escrow site. Sellers list items for sale, and buyers then buy these items via PayPal. PayPal, however, pays CardShark. CardShark then holds the money for a week, to give the buyer time to make sure that the deal is going correctly and that the property is being transferred. After this escrow period, CardShark pays out to the seller. CardShark also has a feedback rating system.
I decided to make my first constructed deck a Rock variant (since I do enjoy that color combination, and it lets me keep playing my favorite planeswalker). I was able to pick up all the cards I wanted in one fell swoop, and I gave my deck a test run in the Casual Play – Tournament Practice area last night. Good fun.
Deck list in the extended.

Continue reading

Worlds 2007 – Less coverage than expected, and some good moments

I watched the live broadcast from the final day of Worlds 2007 yesterday, although I didn’t bother to write anything this time around. I was a little surprised to see that the live broadcast began with the team finals, and that the individual quarterfinals were already done. I’d been looking forward to seeing Mori in action again, so that was a bit of a disappointment.
You can see short recaps and post-match interviews from the quarterfinals on WotC’s Magic YouTube channel. For example, here’s the Mori-Peleg recap:

The semifinals were interesting, and the standout match was definitely the Dragonstorm mirror of Nassif versus Chapin. Much as he did last year, Nassif made a misplay that helped cost him the match — although, as Randy Buehler correctly says, this year’s mistake just made it far more likely that he’d lose the match, whereas last year he actually threw away a game he’d otherwise have won.
Despite the fact that I went in rooting for Chapin, I ended up wanting Uri Peleg to win just because a Dragonstorm win is so non-interactive. Chapin also wasted a little time asking the judge if he could pretend to accidentally reveal his sideboard plan to try and throw Peleg off. I can’t imagine that much would have kept Peleg off of his own sideboard plan, however, as siding in disruption made more sense than any other option. At the end of the day, Peleg had stability of his own and disruption for Chapin that kept Chapin’s deck off its plan.
You can read all the final reporting here. In addition to the decks used for the top eight itself, they’ve nicely gone ahead and listed the top Legacy decklists and the top Standard decklists. This is useful, since people may look at the top eight and think that B/G is just the way to go. As Aaron Forsythe reminds us in an interview with Rich Hagon, the decks in the top eight get there because their players made it through a format that was about two-thirds “not Standard,” so they’re not strictly representative of the best choices there. The top Standard decks (4-1 or better), in order from most to least frequent:
16 B/G Rock-style builds (all Elves versions wrapped into this total)
15 R/G Big Mana
8 U/B Mannequin
6 U/G Faeries
5 Dragonstorm
2 B/G Rack
2 Mono-Blue (Sonic Boom)
1 Red Deck Wins
1 B/R Goblins
1 U/B Faeries (go Zvi!)
1 B/R something
1 U/B Teachings (Wafo-Tapa)
1 Mono-Blue Pickles
…and, of course, you’d really want the full breakdown of decks that went into the initial Standard round to really know how good these are. After all, about six Dragonstorm decks went in, and five came out at 4-1 or better. A boatload of R/G Big Mana decks went in, so their entry-to-wins ratio is nowhere near as good. Mind you, if you try and play the new Dragonstorm deck now, you’re likely to insta-lose to someone who also watched Worlds and has sideboarded Story Circle against you. So it goes.

Top eight – evidence going in

As Rich Hagon has said more than once, even though the Worlds top eight is Standard, the top eight participants may not have had Standard be their best rounds of the event. Is there any predictive value in a player’s Standard record, going into tomorrow? Here’s how each player in the top eight did in the first five (Standard) rounds at Worlds this year:

  • 1. Christoph Huber – 5 wins
  • 2. Gabriel Nassif – 4 wins, 1 loss
  • 3. Yoshitaka Nakano – 5 wins
  • 4. Katsuhiro Mori – 5 wins
  • 5. Uri Peleg – 4 wins, 1 loss
  • 6. Pat Chapin – 4 wins, 1 loss
  • 7. Roel van Heeswijk – 4 wins, 1 loss
  • 8. Koutarou Ootsuka – 4 wins, 1 loss

There’s not a lot of variance there to work with (not really surprisingly). I guess we’ll just wait and see what happens tomorrow.