Aten’s Angry About It

I Wrote an Article! Wow!

I’ll start with the proximate impetus to finally submit this article! The blame is split between authors and editors, but I have no idea how an environment has been fostered in which there’s no upper bound to the acceptable number of exclamation points you can include in an article. I don’t think it even registers as a concern for most people, who just went directly from sleeping through English class to submitting hastily-assembled affirmations of Llanowar Elves and Winchester variants. We get it! You’re excited! But honestly, it’s as exhausting to read an article where every sentence ends with an exclamation point as it would be to talk to someone who communicates solely through shouting and jazz hands.

The exclamation points don’t add “personality” or “tone” to your piece. They demonstrate a lack of understanding of the medium and turn it into some clown-shoes claptrap that looks like copy from an entry-level marketing class. Grow up and use a ****ing period.

Content Redundancy

Simply put, there are too many people “creating content” nowadays, or as I called it back in my prime*, “writing articles.” Not every person with 15 or more Pro Points needs a regular column—there just isn’t enough relevant novel information to justify it.

How many articles were there upon the announcement of Bloodbraid Elf’s unbanning where an author rushed to put out a deck list for what basically amounted to Frank Karsten’s Aggregate Jund™?

4 Tarmogoyf
4 Dark Confidant
4 Bloodbraid Elf
2 Scavenging Ooze
4 Liliana of the Veil

Riveting.

Oh, and did you know that Kolaghan’s Command can both be hit off cascade and bring Bloodbraid back to grind them out? I couldn’t have gotten this exclusive insight anywhere else!

There were only two opinions on whether it was a good idea to unban Bloodbraid Elf: “yes” and “no.” I got Mike Sigrist’s opinion, Paul Rietzl’s opinion, and Gab Nassif’s opinion… do I really need Ari Lax’s, Brad Nelson’s, and Ondrej Strasky’s?

Similarly, there were only two opinions on whether it was a good idea to unban Jace, the Mind Sculptor. I got Ari Lax’s opinion, Brad Nelson’s opinion, and Ondrej Strasky’s opinion… do I really need Mike Sigrist’s, Paul Rietzl’s, and Gab Nassif’s?

This isn’t exclusive to the Magic community, of course—it’s emblematic of the internet at large. What we’ve discovered is that there are severe diminishing returns on everyone having a voice. I miss the old days where there was a barrier to entry—someone curating and sorting out what was worthy of being shown to a broader audience.

“Wow, you think it’s bad to decline handshakes after a match? You too? You too? Well wait, you over there—what’s your opinion? Oh, you also think it’s bad?”

It requires a particular brand of arrogance to believe your opinion on everything warrants mentioning even after dozens of people have expressed an identical position. Or perhaps you’re oblivious enough that you disregard other people’s prior posts before spewing your generic thoughts into the void.

And look, some people with “pillar of the community” status should be there as guideposts for the discourse among the population as a whole… LSV, PV, etc. And I’m not saying that all but five people should stop posting on Twitter entirely, refreshing though that might be. I’m just saying that no one is waiting on the edge of their seat to hear whether Oliver Tiu believes it’s ethical to play the From the Vault Dryad Arbor.

(As a final note, I know that content drives traffic, which drives sales, and phoned-in sideboard guides serve that purpose as well as anything. But I defy you to show me data that clearly indicates the marginal utility of the seventh “Brewing with Wizards in Dominaria” article is increasing your profit margin.)

Mismatched Land Obsession

Some of you have OCD. There are actual conditions that plague millions, and I don’t intend to diminish that. But the rest of you have got to stop fixating on whether someone’s cards are, on aggregate, as aesthetically pleasing as they could be.

This is especially problematic when the people obsessing about mismatched art/frames are official commentators. At a recent Grand Prix, Riley Knight actually interrupted his co-commentator’s strategic analysis to audibly groan at someone’s basic lands not being perfectly in sync, and then both commentators went on a tangent about that while the on-camera game continued. By now, I would hope we had something more interesting to talk about than basic land art each and every round. If mismatched basics are worth mentioning every time they pop up, if there’s really nothing more interesting you can say about the game in front of you, then, well… it’s no wonder Magic hasn’t gotten more traction as a prospective eSport.

If you’re playing against someone with an 8th Edition Urza’s Tower next to an Antiquities Urza’s Mine and it tilts you—good. I hope it distracts you and you lose because of it. You deserve it for focusing your mental energy on irrelevant minutiae.

To the spectators who comment on this: you’re wasting your lives. You have some combination of way too much free time and/or unbelievably charmed existences if mismatched basics cause you enough distress that you feel obligated to vent about them. Go back to your own private corner of the internet, where you can freely assert your strongly-felt beliefs about whether a hot dog is a sandwich or whether pineapple belongs on pizza.

Coverage “Narratives” That Spread

A prominent figure, typically part of the coverage team, will come up with or latch onto a narrative about a particular player, team, or deck, then their compatriots will disseminate it to the general public, who then parrot it endlessly. The most recent example of this occurred at the Magic Online Championship, where Paul Rietzl was impressed with Dmitriy Butakov’s self-aware assessment that he’d have to do some mising to make it through a stacked field, prompting him to choose Bogles for the Modern portion. This notion got distilled to “Butakov was humble for playing Bogles,” was repeated ad nauseam, and kind of became the key takeaway from the tournament. I guess it’s convenient to have more complex ideas or situations boiled down to easily digestible bullet points for simple word associations that foster inane conversations later on.

“I played Dimitriy Butakov last round.”
“The Bogles guy?”
“Yeah.”
“Dude, he’s so humble.”
“Right?”

When people get tunnel vision on a narrative like this, I like to take it to its logical extreme. If playing Bogles makes you humble, what about the other competitors? Gabriel Nassif played blue-red control… does that mean he’s an arrogant prick? Is everyone playing Bogles trying to compensate for a play-skill deficit?

Shoutcasting

“HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO CONVEY HOW ‘HYPE’ I AM AND PUMP THE AUDIENCE UP UNLESS I’M YELLING INTO THE MICROPHONE? THERE’S LITERALLY NO OTHER WAY.”

I, for one, could do without having to turn the volume down every time someone wins a game, removes a problematic permanent, misses a land drop, makes a land drop, etc.

“Playing Great Magic”

No one who has ever said a person “has been playing great Magic” has been qualified to make this assessment. You haven’t been watching all their matches, and even if you had, I doubt you could discern what they’ve been doing differently that makes their current level of play above their baseline, assuming it is at all. What you really mean is, “This person has been winning a lot of matches.” To that end, I suppose “playing great Magic” is a more brand-friendly euphemism than “running hot.”

“We Have a Good One for You”

(As a lead-in to a feature match.)

Well I certainly hope that’s why you’ve chosen it from the hundreds of possibilities as worthy of showing to the hundreds of people following along at home. But you’ve kind of painted yourself into a corner, haven’t you? If you neglect to say it before a given match, does it mean that match is not a good one? That means you have to say it every time, which is the functional equivalent of never saying it, which is what you should be doing in the first place.

Projecting Emotions on Players After Matches

This isn’t quite at mismatched basics level yet, but it’s becoming an epidemic. When the camera cuts to each player after a game or match, the commentator frequently observes whether they are smiling and tries to ascribe meaning to it.

“Look at Gerry, he’s pumped that he pulled that one off! He’s having the time of his life!”

Dude, Gerry had the exact same smile on his face after he double mulled and lost on turn 4 the previous game. Stop trying to concoct alternate realities.

Winners Rush the Stage

You know the moment: In the middle of the winner’s interview at a Pro Tour, a dozen or so of their friends rush the stage and swarm them in a spontaneous display of overwhelming excitement. It’s kind of amazing how it happens the same way at the same point in the interview at every Pro Tour. I wonder what the odds are. It’s almost like someone in production is waiting just offstage with the throng and instructing them, “Okay, go rush the stage and surround and hug the winner… wait for it… NOW!”

Prior to this, I hadn’t seen pseudo-spontaneity this blatant since Brandi Chastain whipped her shirt off at the soccer thing. You know the one… it had a ball and a low score and they ran around a bunch.

Excessive Laughter

Much like not everything is worthy of Lightning-Helix-topdeck screaming (including the Lightning Helix topdeck itself), there isn’t much that happens in the course of a Magic tournament that prompts natural laughter. Ivan Floch attacking with Nyx-Fleece Rams to win a PT, sure. Ken Yukuhiro splashing Burning Sun’s Avatar and Queen’s Agent off treasure in his blue-green deck—I’m right there with you. But stuff like “heehehhhe has the sehehehehcond copy of Merherherfolk Mistbindheherherhrer” and “the Dusk Chargerehrherher came bahahahack nihihihnth” makes me cringe and reach for the mute button.

Also, nervous giggling is not a substitute for banter. Please, fewer exchanges like these:

“He’s only playing three copies of Lightning Bolt main deck.”
“Ha ha ha ha.”

“This is her third Grand Prix and her second Day 2!”
“Ha ha ha ha.”

“He has four copies of Molten Rain in his sideboard and hasn’t played against Tron all weekend!”
“Ha ha ha ha.”

What Would Winning [Major Event] Mean to You?

This is an old standard Top 8 profile question, and quite frankly, it’s lazy journalism that never produces noteworthy responses. Other than Sam Black that one time, everyone who answers the question seriously gives some variation of “everything” or “a dream come true.” It never produces memorable content or gives special insight into a player’s mindset or personality. I guess it reinforces that winning a Pro Tour is a big deal, but that’s kind of a given… and if it’s not, aren’t there more interesting ways to convey it?

I’ve run a bit long, and there’s always an endless, constantly-updating supply of things of which I’m sick, so let’s finish off with…

The Lightning (Bolt) Round

I’m also sick of…

  • People who feel the need to physically touch the card they’re Thoughtseizing with the Thoughtseize itself.
  • Hamfistedly self-aware flavor text. The Masters 25 Lightning Bolt and the Masters 25 Giant Growth both have the flavor text “Hey guys, this was in Alpha. *winking emoji* *member berry*”
  • Using dice to determine random discard. Just shuffle ’em, put ’em face down on the table, and have the opponent select randomly. No one is trying to scumbag you there.
  • Calling the deck/card “Boggles.” Ah yes, “Boggles.” So-named because of the card Slippery Bogle and rampant illiteracy. “But undisclosed author, everyone knows what I’m talking about. You’re just being pedantic.” First of all, no one who says “boggles” would ever use the word “pedantic.” And second, it’s this type of willful ignorance that has prevented us from making any real progress as a species since the late 1960s. How is “I don’t care what’s right or true—I’ll just do things my way” a healthy, productive attitude?
  • The half dozen or so people who “cleverly” suggest “top 5 top 5 lists” when PV or Luis are looking for subject matter for their top 5 ranking articles or streams. Watch for it, kids. It happens literally every time.
  • When an astute Twitch chatter asks how many lands the streamer is playing after they get flooded or screwed, then helpfully suggests to add one additional land in the case of screw or to remove one land in the case of flood.
  • Playing against Tetzimoc or Profane Procession in the 2-2 bracket.
  • “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love…” article titles.
  • Powerful common Auras in Limited. Every color doesn’t need a 2-mana Aura in every set with the text “Enchanted creature has [the activated ability of Amulet of Quoz].”

*Like I had one of those.

[Editor’s note: This article originally included a reference to Portugese-speaking players that has been removed. While the remark was intended as satire and not as a joke at the expense of a group of people, we believe it did not reflect our standards here at CFB. It’s never our intention to make any readers feel excluded or disparaged by our content, and we didn’t meet that standard here. My sincere apologies for the mistake.

-Andy Cooperfauss, Editor-in-Chief]

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