This week’s In Development – What we can learn from coverage

This week’s In Development bears the snappy title Seven Magic Moments, and is all about what we can learn from watching coverage of past events. The pitch is punctuated with my highlight reel of seven favorite Magic moments, and the lessons they contain.
Head on over there, and then hit me up on twitter and let me know what coverage moments are in your highlight reel.

The Spring series switches over to Extended this weekend

The ChannelFireball 15K Spring Series continues this weekend, with a brief dip into Extended. Come on by Superstars Game Center in San Jose this weekend for an Extended 1K featuring its own prize pool and qualification for the Spring Series 5K finale for the top 10% of the field.
Here are all the details.
I couldn’t make it to last week’s Standard event, but I plan on being there this weekend, with an all-new Extended deck along for the ride.
If you can make it to San Jose, come on by and play for prizes, qualification for the 5K, and a chance to see what weirdness I’m bringing this time around.

Yo! MtG TAPS! episode 15 liner notes

Edited this one to point to the correct episode — it was 15, not 14. Oops.
I was listening to episode fifteen of Yo! MtG TAPS! while I was in the lab for a couple hours this morning, and after showing great restraint at not turning them off when the Jund complaining started, I started jotting down a few notes relating to the content. For those YMT! listeners out there (and I do enjoy the show, so you should go give it a try), here they are:
1) One of the concerns people naturally have about Legacy and the inability to reprint dual lands is that if Wizards were to go ahead and print functional replacements, players who currently own duals would still be advantaged, because they’d be able to run eight of a given dual.
This isn’t actually as big an issue as you might think. Consider the use of duals in the following tier one Legacy decks:
Ad Nauseam Tendrils (ANT)

  • 4 Underground Sea
  • 1 Tropical Island

This deck could happily replace that one Tropical Island with our theoretical Snow-Covered Underground Sea (I love tacking “Snow-Covered” onto all these card names to yield curious-sounding lands…).

  • 1 Taiga

Some Belcher lists run two lands. Clearly, we’re not coming close to dipping into extra duals on this one.
Countertop Progenitus

  • 3 Tropical Island
  • 2 Tundra
  • 1 Volcanic Island (with one more in the sideboard)

Once again, we’re not dipping into extra duals. The mix of Tropical Islands, Tundras, and Volcanic Islands is necessary to make the deck work, rather than being some kind of concession to availability of duals.
None. Legacy Dredge in its various forms does not use duals at all.

  • 4 Underground Sea

This deck could run additional Snow-Covered Seas, but that’s probably a bad idea, as it increases your vulnerability to Blood Moon effects (which is probably why you’d want to run multiple Swamps and Islands in the first place, as the current lists do).

  • 2 Taiga
  • 1 Savannah
  • 3 Plateau

In Legacy or Extended, Zoo decks just tend not to max out on specific duals.
In the fetch-laden land of Legacy, most decks don’t run the full complement of any one dual, and thus wouldn’t benefit at all from having access to “four more” of a given dual. There are some exceptions, such as ANT dipping into a “fifth” Sea, and possibly Goblins, but generally, decks in Legacy do not automatically improve with access to four more of the same dual.
2) I’m still going to have to disagree with the view of Jund. The NFL analogy is off — having six Jund decks in the top eight of a GP is not the same as having the Patriots appear over and over again in the post-season, because the differences between any two Jund decks are much larger than the differences between, well, the Patriots and the Patriots. I’ve written about this more than once, but just looking at the colors and the presence of Bloodbraids and saying, “Oh, Jund again” is a lot like grouping all the AFC West teams together as if they were the same superteam.
Essentially, if you’re not going to bother to track the major differences in builds and pilot skill, then yeah, it’s going to seem like more of the same. That feels like almost intentionally making the game more boring for yourself, which is part of why it bugs me a bit each time I hear folks do it.
Or, put more positively, the difference between Gortzen Jund and Reitbauer Jund is significant and cool. It’s like watching the differences between the various Teachings builds at PT Yokohama, which ranged from single-card-choice differences through whether to include the Pickles lock or not.
3) The top eight at Kobe not being coated with Affinity decks and the idea that Affinity was dominant at the time are not mutually exclusive. It just shows that some people made an excellent metagame choice and, along with their play skill, piloted decks that were tuned to beat Affinity and have game against anti-Affinity decks into the top eight.
Here was the day one breakdown at Kobe:
Affinity – 110
Green-Red “Anti-Affinity” – 44
Big Red – 39
Mono-Green – 16
Death Cloud – 12
TwelvePost – 8
W/x Control – 5
Other – 6
None of the Death Cloud decks made day two, and only one W/x Control build (played by Shota Yasooka) made the cut.
Here was the day two field:
Affinity – 38 (34% conversion rate from day one)
Green-Red – 13 (29% conversion rate from day one)
Big Red – 22 (56% conversion rate from day one)
Mono-Green – 8 (50% conversion rate from day one)
Death Cloud – 0 (0% conversion rate from day one, and weren’t they sad about that…)
TwelvePost – 5 (63% conversion rate from day one)
W/x Control – Just Shota (20% conversion rate from day one)
One of the issues here, of course, is how we define “dominating.” The default anti-affinity R/G deck did rather poorly, but as Affinity was also the “I can’t think of anything better to do” choice for many players, it had its win percentage brought down by, well, bad players and people who just didn’t enjoy playing the deck. We saw something similar at Pro Tour San Diego this year, where 112 players brought Jund, many while saying they didn’t like the deck, but couldn’t think of anything better. 45 Jund decks made it to day two…which doesn’t tell us as much as it used to, with the draft rounds.
Affinity was “dominating” much as Jund is, in the sense that a good Affinity build with a solid player behind it would be very hard to take down. That said, it’s also “dominating” in the way Jund is in simply being prevalent, which means that many people have chosen it as the “best deck” without really understanding how it works or how to play it optimally. As a consequence, good players running other decks can carve through much of the field and make it to the top, much as we saw in San Diego this year. Consider the top eight constructed records from San Diego:
Luis Scott-Vargas, running Boss Naya
Jeffrey Chen, running Vampires
Tom Ross, running Boss Naya
Aras Senyuz, running G/W Reliquary Angel
Gaudenis Vidugiris, running Mythic
Pat Chapin, running U/W Control
Bertil Elfgren, running Siege-Gang Jund
Jason Ford, running Bit-Blast Jund
Despite the ho-hum response of “Oh, it was Jund in the finals” that people had, our top constructed list comprises six different archetypes even if I go ahead and batch the two Jund lists together. That’s significantly more diverse than the Kobe top eight, which was five Big Red decks, two Affinity decks, and one copy of TwelvePost (although in fairness, it was Block and thus bound to be less diverse).
I don’t have a huge conclusion on this one except that there are two meanings of “dominating,” and they tend to feed into each other. A good deck dominates to some degree, and then becomes prevalent…and thus becomes “less good” because so many people who don’t understand it, or perhaps don’t like it, are trying to run it.

All is, indeed, dust

This was previewed at PAX East:
(Pic made it to me courtesy Mananation, who got it from Drew Halloran.
First, the name is awesome.
Second, the flavor text is hilarious.
Third, the art sort of has this wacked-out, early D&D Erol Otis feel that works for such an end-of-the-world effect.
Fourth, this is a pretty cool global reset, akin in visceral reset joy to Kamigawa’s Final Judgment. In line with that comparison, Rise, like Kamigawa, is an expensive, splashy effects set (so far).
Fifth, did you notice that the two previewed colorless Eldrazi Sorcery spells are also typed as Tribal? We’ve had some laments about the lack of re-use of the Tribal type since the passing of Lorwyn, so it’s nice to see it back again (and, we presume, being used as a lever for interaction with various Eldazi-seeking effects).
Over all, I continue to be pleased with the Rise preview cards. The set should be quite different, and a lot of fun.

Want to work on the WoW TCG?

Following the spiraling death of Upper Deck Entertainment, the WoW TCG was ever-so-briefly in doubt, but has now been picked up by Cryptozoic Entertainment. Cryptozoic is effectively a spin-off of Blizzard, helmed by Cory Jones, formerly the Blizzard liaison with UDE for the WoW TCG. We have to imagine that after the debacle of UDE’s recent crazy time, Blizzard is no longer interested in putting its IP into the hands of genuinely independent entities.
Would you like to work on the WoW TCG, or just work for the company that holds the license?
Check out Cryptozoic’s careers page, which currently has openings for a host of jobs ranging from production through organized play and game design.

ChannelFireball $15K Spring Series

Earlier this week I wrote about a Standard $1K this Saturday that plugs into a not-fully described “big” event leading to a $5K down the line. Today, ChannelFireball released the full info:
The ChannelFireball Spring $15,000 Series is a collection of $1K qualifier events spread across a variety of formats, all feeding into a $5K in late June. You can either pay $100 to enter the $5K, or qualify by ending up in the top 10% of the field at any of the preceding $1K events. There are, of course, prizes for winning the individual $1K events (this time around, first place gets a foil set of Worldwake).
Here’s the schedule:
March 27th – Standard, $20 entry fee
April 3rd – Extended, $20 entry fee
April 10th – Standard, $20 entry fee
May 1st – Sealed (Rise of the Eldrazi), $30 entry fee
May 8th- Sealed (Rise of the Eldrazi), $30 entry fee
May 15th – Booster Draft (Rise of the Eldrazi), $30 entry fee
May 22nd – Standard, $20 entry fee
June 5th – Sealed (Rise of the Eldrazi), $30 entry fee
June 19th – Standard, $20 entry fee
June 25th (a Friday) – Standard, $20 entry fee
June 26th – The Spring championship, $100 entry fee or qualify via one of the $1K events
Pretty cool. I’m going to be attending at least some of these qualifiers, and hopefully the big show at the end as well.

If you like Dominion, you might like this…

I’ve never played Dominion, but have definitely heard of it as it’s very popular among Magic players and is in the top ten games over at BoardGameGeek. If you haven’t heard of it before, Dominion is a “deckbuilding” game — that is, it shares the deck construction aspect of Magic and other CCGs without being truly collectible. All the players for each given game are using one set (or combination of sets). Sort of like cube draft, really.
Courtesy of Mike Flores, here’s a link to an article at announcing a new deckbuilding game from Justin Gary, Rob Dougherty, and Brian Kibler. They’re all Pro Tour champions, with Rob being a hall of famer. In addition, they all have CCG design credits, including WoW for both Brian and Justin, and Epic for Rob. Their new game is “Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer.” Here’s a preview card:
There’s no note on the release date in the ICV2 piece, but the release will be supported with promo cards and store events, so be on the lookout for both.