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Sperling’s Sick of It – April 2013

Here’s the stuff I’m sick of this month.

1) No Splitting on MTGO

This is not a new development, we’re going on several years of this “bug” (I think it’s a bug they apparently think is a feature), where you can’t just split an 8-4 finals 6-6 and join another draft. You can’t split a 5-3 Constructed finals 4-4. You can’t split a 4-3 finals with a coin flip for the extra pack.

If you ran a movie theater, would you let people leave the film as soon as the end credits started rolling, buy another ticket for a different one and go see it immediately? OR would you force people to watch the credits and as a result sell fewer movie tickets? The analogy is not as strong as my, “lap dance: pay for 3 songs sit through 2,” but I don’t think my editor will let me flesh that one out. The point is, people want to just split and join a new draft. That’s selling more of your product and making people happier at the same time.

When people are doing something under the table that’s win-win-win from the player A-player B-Company perspective, just allow it to happen above-board. Draws at the end of Swiss tournaments can come or go, but in the 8-person queues this is must-have functionality. And as for the QP, double all QP awards and thresholds and award them 1 QP each when they split or 2 if they win.

2) “How Did You Lose With This Deck?!?” Guy

We’ve all been disappointingly 0-1 or 1-2 with a great Sealed deck. Sometimes Worth Wolpert, Magic Online’s Czar of Misery and Player Therapist Relations, just flips the doom switch and you get stuck on lands or draw nothing but. I’m a good sport, I can take my medicine. I get upset and certainly I’m not immune to getting sick of certain outcomes and situations, but I never take it into the chat window and blame my opponent.

As I’m doing my best to keep to myself in the 0-1 bracket, I sometimes have occasion to cast, say Aurelia in the same game I cast 2 [card]Mugging[/card]s (random example) and HDYLWTD? Guy will chime in, “wow, 0-1, how’d you lose??” One time my opponent was BEATING me in the 2-2 bracket in a PTQ, MILLED my bombs, and he thought it was an appropriate time to ask how the hell I ever lost with what clearly was a once-in-a-season deck.

Any remark about the strength of your opponent’s pool is already unnecessary. They can’t control it, you can’t control it, and it just comes off as you not being able to handle the smallest bit of perceived luck influencing the game. Be like Brienne of Tarth, not like Jaime Lannister, when things aren’t going exactly your way. There’s no way Brienne is typing into the chat, “can’t believe you opened 3 dragon’s you lucky b****.” Meanwhile Jaime is the kind of guy who takes 3 from [card]Dark Confident[/card] when he’s at 17 and types, “sigh, haven’t hit a land with Bob in 4 rounds.”

But these particular types of chatters, the HDYLWTD? People lack both the common decency of not spewing their impressions of the breaks of the game and the common sense of timing. You might be a little upset or intrigued to lose to bombs in the loser’s bracket, but the person with the bombs has already had the maximum punishment Sealed deck has to offer inflicted upon them. They had high hopes, they opened what they thought would fulfill those hopes, and now Top 8 is as unattainable as a stay on Worth’s yacht you helped pay for 30 tickets at a time. Be kind to these poor souls, don’t rub it in.

3) The Facebook Trophy Profile Pic

Changing your profile pic to you holding a trophy from some Magic event is not unacceptable in its own right. But, as with HDYLWTD?, timing and taste matter. Here is the official acceptable timeline for changing your profile pic to the trophy shot:

Won a PT/Players Championship: 1 month

Won a Grand Prix, made a PT Top 8: 1 week

Won a SCG/CFB/TCG Open/5k/Invitational: 3 days

Won a side event of any kind (draft challenge, 2k event, States): 0 days

Made Top 8 of an Open or Grand Prix, or placed 2nd in anything and are holding a plaque or smaller trophy than the winner got: 0 days

You might notice that a PT Top 8 allows you to post the player profile image, but a PT finals loss does not allow you to post the tiny trophy pic, isn’t that inconsistent?

No, if they hand you a consolation trophy or plaque you should carry it as a badge of shame, an albatross, a scarlet letter, a constant reminder of how you came up short. Posting a picture with it makes no sense unless you’re playing some hipster irony angle. Just don’t do it.

Now we must turn to the one individual who has most egregiously ignored the above guidelines. On February 16, 2010, Matthew Nass changed his profile picture to him holding his Grand Prix Oakland trophy, the image shown here.

As I am writing this, it is April 25, 2013. It is now over 3 years since Matt won that GP, and his profile picture has not changed. There are a few select achievements: president of a large nation, astronaut who walked on the moon, Super Bowl MVP, that define who you are in the years following the achievement. They become part of your title, part of the fabric of your (very) public persona. People who meet you will say not only that they met you, but will reflect on how cool it was to meet, “a [what you are].”

Magic: The Gathering Grand Prix Champion is not one of these achievements.

I could cite other violators but everything is dwarfed by Nass’ streak. It has not and will not be equaled. DiMaggio’s 56 seems like the blink of an eye in comparison.

4) You Make the Card

This should be called, “You provide input into the card,” since the oversight and selection is completely out of “You”’s hands. The true You Make the Card would be like when Mountain Dew put up a survey, “Dub the Dew,” which was basically, “You Name the Soda,” and the winning soda name was, “Hitler Did Nothing Wrong.” OK, that was a spectacular failure, but at least it was spectacular. And I trust Magicians won’t take it that far over the line, but who wouldn’t want to see a Teenage creature type (completing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Ultimus) and some wacky inappropriate name? Everybody wins.

Also, someone had tremendous foresight in calling the first YMTC card “Forgotten Ancient.” It’s like they knew it would be wildly unplayable in a few years’ time. Only if this one is called “Disappointing Dud” will that name be surpassed.

I submitted the following mechanic by the way: “As long as Massimo Esposito Did Nothing Wrong is in your graveyard, if a non-token creature you control dies, look at the top 3 cards of your library and put them back in any order. Miracle XB – Creatures your opponents control get -X/-X until end of turn. Cascade.”

5) Electronic Cigarettes at Tournaments

I’m not sick of this for health reasons, I doubt the limited exposure I get to even real cigarettes has had any impact, let alone these vapor ones. What I am sick of is the whole persona that always comes with these things, and the example it sets for the kids. OK I don’t really care about the kids either, just the fitted-cap tattoo types that feel like they’re e-cool with every drag. Take it to the smoker’s area, that shrinking space our society has already set aside for those who were born without the good sense to not suck stinking carcinogens down their throat.

6) Stupid Cards April 2013 Edition

a) [card]Skullcrack[/card]

In testing Standard recently, it came up that the [card]Fog[/card] deck rolls over to Skullcrack, and someone suggested [card]Witchbane Orb[/card] as a solution. Problem is, of course, that you can just Skullcrack yourself and damage still can’t be prevented this turn, by anyone. Lovely flavor there, crack my own skull, now your fog does nothing.

b) [card]Adaptive Snapjaw[/card]

Evolving is FABULOUS! The flavor text “Eh, needs more toad,” was probably overheard at a Biomancer brunch resulting in gasps as someone’s mojito recipe was called into question.

c) [card]Bane Alley Broker[/card]

So the ability lets you look at them, and without it your cards are exiled face down and cannot be seen. Here’s my question: if I kill a Bane Alley Broken in response to my opponent activating it, how can they know which card to return? Are they allowed to spread them out and memorize which is which? Can I shuffle them up like a Three-card Monte after they do? Is there any protocol at all for ordering cards in the exile zone?

d) [card]Merciless Eviction[/card]

“Dear enchantments, pursuant to ghostly decree you are hereby given eviction notice and notice to vacate the premises in the next 3 days.”

e) [card]Shambleshark[/card]

Shouldn’t it be a Shark Crab or a Fish Crustacean? Please ask your biologist friends to stop what they’re doing and weigh in.

f) [card]Skynight Legionnaire[/card]

This is some really bad posing in the art.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MpIna3RiH3I

7) No Transparency on DCI Actions

Of the purposes DCI punishments likely serve—deterrence, retribution, removal from the public environment, and rehabilitation—the most important to a competitive game is clearly deterrence. The rules are in place so people will play fair. Getting rid of cheaters is important too, but not as important as preventing cheating before it happens by defining the rules and making a credible promise that you’ll enforce them. Why then are people being banned without an explanation of why? When Alex Bertoncini recently got 6 months tacked onto his ban, people were left to speculate. It was probably because he did unauthorized commentary on an SCGLive feed, but I’m not sure. He also had a public Facebook profile with some unsavory comments on it fairly frequently. Did that contribute at all?

If you explain what happened, you get some deterrence. If not, all you can hope to gain is a mix of retribution, removal, and rehabilitation. So as for banning people and never learning why, it’s no better now than it was in years past: been there; was mediocre.

-Matt Sperling

mtg_law_etc on Twitter

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