Hello! Today I’m back with another “Top 5” article, where I ask for suggestions for things to rank and then, well, rank them!
PV’s Top 5
Misspellings of My Name
5: Paolo Vitor Damo da Rosa
This is the most common misspelling by a lot. Even people that interact with me regularly often call me Paolo The conversation online usually goes like:
Them: Hey, Paolo.
Paulo: Hey, what’s up?
Them: I have a question, Paolo.
Them: What do you think of this, Paolo?
And it’s like… MY NAME IS RIGHT THERE IN THE CONVERSATION! It says my name in every one of my replies! How do you still get it wrong sghdgsfghhj ahsghgdahd
4: Daniel Vitor
In 2015, I won GP Sao Paulo. Devir, the company that at the time distributed Magic for all of Brazil and was basically in charge of Brazilian Magic, made an announcement about it.
3: Paulo Vitor and Damo da Rosa
Once, I tried to check in to a hotel.
“What’s your name?”
“Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa”
“I can’t find it. Do you have a reservation number?”
“That’s weird, this reservation is under the name of Damo da Rosa”.
“Yeah, that’s me”.
“Didn’t you just say you were Paulo Vitor???”
“Yeah, that’s me, too…”
2: Pablo Doritos
Once, we were in a restaurant and needed to call for a ride. Gabe Walls went up to the hostess and asked if she could do that for us. She asked his name was and he jokingly said “Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa”. She nodded and called the taxi service. “Hello, can I have two taxis for Mr. Pablo Doritos please?”
Once I forgot a card in a Restaurant, so I called and gave them my name. The woman who answered the phone said she would leave a note so I’d be able to pick it up. This is what she wrote down:
Top 5 Decks in Standard
Standard is constantly shifting , so for this category I’m not going to rank them—I’m just going to list the Top 5.
Phoenix is a metagame deck that lives or dies by the number of very specific cards people include in their decks. If everyone is playing Kaya’s Wrath and Tyrant’s Scorn, then Drakes and Phoenixes are very hard to answer. If everyone is playing Collision // Colossus, Despark, Cry of the Carnarium, and white-based removal, then the deck is a lot worse. Right now, Phoenix is underrepresented enough that people aren’t taking it much into consideration, but it suffers from splash damage from the popularity of the other red decks (Gruul, for example, leads people to play Cast Down over Tyrant’s Scorn), which keeps it in check, but it’s still a strong contender.
Esper Midrange is just a “goodstuff” deck. All the cards are individually very powerful, it can answer anything, and some of its starts are busted. This will probably be a top 5 deck forever regardless of how the meta changes.
I thought about just having “Esper,” but I feel like the decks are different enough to deserve separate entries. Esper Planeswalkers is less able to pressure the opponent since it doesn’t have many creatures, making it worse against opposing planeswalkers for the most part (as well as The Immortal Sun), but it’s better against creatures since it gets to play a bunch of Kaya’s Wraths. For the record, I think this version is the slightly better-positioned Esper deck right now, but that could change at any moment.
There are also many flavors of Bant Ramp. My favorite is GWu, splashing just for Krasis. I don’t think Mass Manipulation is truly worth it, given that it’s not even that easy to cast and it makes your Nissas much worse (since you can’t just jam 7 Forests).
Haste creatures are very important for killing planeswalkers, and Gruul has that in spades. At the same time, you have removal for mana creatures and Steam-Kins, which means you’re well covered against most things. The deck does have some non-functional draws (since it’s still playing a ton of mana creatures), but its good draws are very good.
Avid readers may be surprised to not see Mono-Red in this list, but I don’t think it’s well positioned at the moment. It’s still a very strong deck, but I think it has bad matchups versus both Gruul and Esper, which are two of the most popular decks in the field, so I don’t like playing it right now.
Top 5 Other Uses for Magic Cards
For clothes made of Magic cards, look no further than @coL_Amazonian.
4: Killing bugs
Brazil has a lot of small bugs like mosquitos, and sometimes you want to kill them without getting blood on your hands. So you grab a Magic card from your drawer and slap them against the wall with it. Voila!
I don’t read many physical books anymore (yay Kindle), but when I did I always used Magic cards as bookmarks.
2: As pieces for other games
A lot of games can be recreated with Magic cards. Take, for example, Werewolf. Magic cards are the perfect way to play without needing anything else. It can be a bit annoying when your muggle friends can’t remember which card represents which role (John, obviously the Island is the Seer and the Plains is the Medic…), but if you can teach them it flows smoothly enough.
You can also use Magic cards to play two games of Codenames with the same box. You just shred two Islands, two Mountains and two Plains and use the cards as markers for which words belong to which team.
Or you can play Dixit using Magic cards—the options are limitless!
1: As a key card in hotels
Some hotels have a system that requires you to leave a key by the door to turn power on. This is usually done so that a guest doesn’t leave all the lights and the AC on when they leave the room, but it’s very inconvenient if you are trying to leave, say, a laptop charging for a while, or if you have more people in the room than you have keys, and people want to keep leaving and coming back. But, if you’re a Magic player, you’re one draft away from having infinite key cards for life! You see, these systems have a mechanism that detects pressure, but there usually isn’t any electronic component to it, so it doesn’t have to be a key card specifically. Anything that just stays there will work. Some people use credit cards, but I’m always afraid it’ll damage the card in some way (plus, I’m not too keen on leaving my credit card that exposed anyway), so I use Magic cards.
Top 5 Current Players Who Have Never Been in the MPL
There are many talented players in the MPL and many outside of it. It’s hard to narrow it down to only 5, and I acknowledge that I’m going to be fully biased here as it’s very hard to rank someone I’ve never even interacted with (so there could be other people that belong here and I just don’t know because I haven’t played them), but here’s my attempt:
Honorable Mention: Jon Finkel
Is he still playing? Should I include him at all? It feels weird to just throw him out there if he’s not playing at all, but it also feels weird to not include him when he could be playing and be very good, so he gets an honorable mention.
5: Thiago Saporito
Thiago is a very talented player who finished #1 on the Mythic leaderboard in the one season that truly counted because everyone was trying their hardest. He also missed being in the MPL by I believe two points, which was very unfortunate. He does have some issues with tilting, but if he can overcome that I think he’s a force to be reckoned with.
4: Oliver Tiu
There’s a generation of young, talented players that includes Ondrej Strasky, Noah Walker, Oliver Tomajko, Petr Sochurek, and so on. I think Oliver Tiu is currently the best of them, even though final stage PT success has so far eluded him.
3: Kentaro Yamamoto
Kentaro doesn’t have the same results as the highest tier of Japanese players (Shota, Shuhei, Kenji, Oiso, etc), but people who play Magic at a high level know that he is very good, and even though he’s had a bit of a slow year you definitely can’t count him out.
2: Paul Rietzl
Paul is a fantastic player who plays very few events, and might play even fewer now that he’s doing commentary for so many of them. It’s always been impressive how he juggles playing Magic and having another full-time job, and for most of the years he would have been in that top 32. I think that even though he still doesn’t play as much now, he’s still way up there.
Luis is in contention for best player period, so it’s no surprise he’s #1 of non-MPL players.
Top 5 Underplayed Cards in Standard
Some people have been playing Ripjaw Raptor, so it’s not like it’s a big secret or anything, but people still don’t play it as much as they should. This card is a nightmare for any red deck to deal with (especially Mono Red, but also Gruul and sometimes Phoenix) and should definitely be included in your sideboards more, if not your main deck.
I feel like a while ago these cards were everywhere, and then they printed baby Teferi and everyone went, “Oh, counterspells are bad now, let’s cut ALL of them.” Even though it’s true that counterspells are worse, I think if you have a slow deck like Esper Planeswalkers then you simply need a way to answer what they’re doing. The game is going to come down to turn 35 anyway, so if they have a bombtastic card they will just draw it. Having 1-2 copies of these cards to dig for in these long matchups is very valuable.
Mass Manipulation, Thief of Sanity, and Hostage Taker are all popular cards, and Trostani hoses them on top of just being a good card against almost everyone. I feel like the best ramp decks are the more creature-centric ones at this point, and Trostani’s pump effect is important in letting you play your “mid-range” game when you aren’t ramping to a bomb. As a bonus, some people aren’t even aware of its other ability, so they will steal it with Thief of Sanity and just play it (that doesn’t happen that often, but it does happen).
For a long time, I didn’t play Fight with Fire in Mono-Red, but everyone has 5-toughness creatures nowadays. Lyra Dawnbringer is the most common, but Ripjaw Raptor is gaining in numbers, and Kefnet is also relatively popular. Having a card that answers all these threats is valuable, and in rare situations you even get to kick it to kill them. If you’re Mono-Red or Gruul you should consider this card (Phoenix gets to play Beacon Bolt, which is usually better).
With planeswalkers everywhere, people kind of forgot about Search for Azcanta, but it’s still a very good card, especially now that almost nobody plays Mortify anymore. Esper Control should probably play two copies, and even Esper Midrange should at least consider it.
Top 5 Things That Keep Baffling Me When I Go to the United States
5: No lights in hotel ceilings
Every single time I stay in a hotel in the US, I spend about 5 minutes looking for “the main lightbulb” until I inevitably find out there isn’t one. Yeah, table lamps are cool, but they are accessories to the main light that’s supposed to be in the ceiling! Without a main overhead light, I feel like every single US hotel room is dark.
4: Giant drinks with refills
I understand giant drinks, and I understand refills, but I don’t really get both. You’re literally getting infinite refills, why are you paying more for an “extra mega-large Coke?” Is it really that bad to just go and fill your cup once more throughout the meal? Also, who is the human that can reasonably drink all that in one meal anyway?
3: The bathroom stall gap
In almost all U.S. public restrooms, there’s a large gap between the stall door and the wall that you can see through. Who came up with that and why?
2: Middle names
A lot of people in the U.S. are confused by my name, but it’s really not that complicated; there are just a lot of them. Paulo Vitor is my given name, Damo is one last name, and da Rosa is another. Compared to the Grzegorz Kowalskis of the world, it’s a piece of cake. Yet, everyone in the States is always puzzled that I have so many names. So it came as a shock when I found out that a lot of Americans have as many names as I did, they just don’t use them!
As far as I know, basically every American has a middle name, and almost no American uses it. They don’t even sign it in official documents or anything. So, what’s the point of having them? From my understanding, it’s often in honor of a family member or a heritage, but, at the same time, if you’re literally never using it and erasing it from existence for all intents and purposes, doesn’t that defeat the point?
1: The non-metric system
“How tall are you?”
“Does this mean you’re 6.2 feet?”
“No, it means I’m 6 feet and 2 inches.”
“So 1 inch isn’t .1 feet?”
“No, it’s 0.08 feet.”
“Then why are you using them in the same measurement if they don’t relate to each other in any reasonable way?”
Top 5 Overplayed Cards in Standard
There is one reason and one reason only to play Tyrant’s Scorn over Cast Down in the current metagame: Hero of Precinct One. That’s it. If your deck doesn’t get any mileage out of it being a two-color card, then Cast Down is just better in this format, as it permanently deals with threats like Nullhide Ferox, Crackling Drake, Ripjaw Raptor, and Skaargan Hellkite. The one card that punishes you for having Cast Down instead is Shalai, but I think overall Cast Down is just superior right now, and if you’re Esper without Hero, Dimir, or Grixis, then you should be playing it instead (though things could change, of course).
I have no problem with the card in and of itself, but rather with what it’s replacing: the best card in the red deck, Experimental Frenzy. I don’t think Mono-Red is great right now, but it’s certainly a lot greater if you play four of your best card. I see a ton of people playing a split of 3-2, 3-1 or 2-2, but I think it should always be four Frenzies, and then however many Chandras you think you can afford (which should range from 0 to 1).
Enter the God-Eternals is a serviceable card if you don’t have access to white. If you do, you should just be playing Lyra instead, as it’s significantly better versus decks like Phoenix, Gruul, Feather, White Weenie, Mono-Blue, and so on. Enter the God-Eternals is for UB decks and Grixis decks.
Speaking of Grixis decks, what’s going on? Why is this deck popular all of a sudden?
To me, Grixis has two very big problems. The first is that all your cards are slightly inferior versions of Esper’s cards. Their wrath is better than yours, their small planeswalkers are better than yours, their life gain is better than yours, their sideboard versus aggro is better than yours (see the point above)—even their Negate is better than yours.
The second is that there are things it just doesn’t deal with. What do you do if your opponent plays Experimental Frenzy? Things that recur, like Phoenix, are also hard to deal with, since you don’t have Despark or big Teferi to answer something that will just keep coming back from the graveyard.
Overall, I really see no reason to play Grixis over Esper unless you really want to destroy specifically artifacts that cost less than 4 mana.
Legion Warboss is a good card in specific situations. If you need to goldfish your opponent, it’s a good card because it’s fast. If your opponent doesn’t have any creatures but has a lot of removal, it’s a good card because it leaves you with something even if it dies. And if it doesn’t die, then it can win the game on its own. But that doesn’t mean it’s good versus everyone, and I feel like people act as if it is. I’ve had several people board that card in (or leave it in their decks) against me when I’m playing decks like Mono-Red or Feather, decks that have a lot of cheap removal (4 Shocks!) and a lot of blockers.
I’m okay with it being in your sideboard or even your main deck, but you need to know that it’s not good everywhere. In fact, a lot of the time it’s good on the play but not on the draw.
Top 5 Fantasy Books I’ve Read Lately That Pleasantly Surprised Me
I read a lot of fantasy books in my travels, and fantasy book recommendations are often a fixture of my Top 5s. I’ve already recommended a lot of the ones I thought were great in previous articles, so I’m going to go with some that you might never have heard of but that surprised me.
5: Successor’s Promise by Trudi Canavan
(This is the third book of a series. Book 1 is Thief’s Magic.)
I’ve liked a lot of books by Trudi Canavan, but this one is very different. I read the first and second books years ago, but I kind of forgot about them until this third one came out. The series is sort of two different stories intertwined that come together in the third book. The world itself is unique and there’s a lot of “planeswalking” around, which has interesting applications.
4: The Spy in the Silver Palace by Jordan Rivet
A girl who can change her appearance dreams of being a spy for the realm, but is instead sent to work for the princess. It’s a very light book, which is refreshing, and a lot of the characters are very interesting. It’s part of a trilogy.
3: Forging Divinity by Andrew Rowe
(Warning: This series is not complete yet. Only books 1 and 2 are done.)
This book has a really cool take on sorcery and godhood in general, and I thought the characters were great as well. I look forward to reading the next book.
2: Heart of Ice, by K.M.Shea
A young queen is exiled for having forbidden powers, but then has to come back and help her country when the actual evil mages attack. This is a retelling of the “Snow Queen” story, but I found the main character to be compelling, and it explores a bunch of different things you can do with snow powers. A lot of the time when I read a book and someone has powers, I think, “Well, why wouldn’t they just do this with their powers?” and it feels like the only reason they don’t is, if they do, the plot is ruined. Here it didn’t feel that way; I felt like the main character actually used her powers creatively and to their fullest potential and that the plot of the book was crafted around exploring that. This is book 1 of 2.
Incidentally, I found this book after reading a book that was published later but is set in the same world: Apprentice of Magic. I enjoyed that one, too, but I thought the Snow Queen series was better (because I feel like Apprentice of Magic suffers from some of the issues about things being done unreasonably to satisfy plot requirements).
1: An Echo of Things to Come by James Islington
(This is book 2 of an unfinished trilogy. The third book is set to release in December. Here is book 1.)
This is another series that I kind of forgot I had started since it took so long for the next part to come out, but then I recently read the second book and found I really liked it. The world is interesting and the plot is super compelling, with unforeseen twists that actually make sense and make you want to know more. I feel like this book should be more popular than it is.
That’s all I have for today!
See you soon,