Sperling’s Sick of It – January 2014

New Year’s Resolution: write more. If you’re one of my dozen or so faithful readers, let me apologize about the end of 2013. I’d say I was busy with other important stuff, but I Tweeted a few too many Holiday Cube screenshots to pass that one off.

I was sick of many things over the holiday season (I’m part Grinch as I’ve explained before). Below is a list of my current annoyances with the Magic community.

1) “Stop Bullying/Be Nice/Watch Your Language” Articles

Is it important to convince more people to act like adults online and at Magic events? Sure. Do we need 5 of these articles on every Magic website and blog? No.

That 15-year-old cursing your mom on Magic Online or saying homophobic stuff at your local card shop knows you don’t approve, he knows I don’t approve, but he’s disregarded the Surgeon General’s warning for being a little s***. A lot of people play, and if I’ve learned one thing it’s that in any large group of people, some are selfish jerks, and they will find you.

That guy who hasn’t showered in a week probably doesn’t have a place to sleep, has a psychiatric condition where disregarding hygiene is a serious symptom, or is French. Well, I should say they were homeless or psychotic or French… until your 500-word blurb about “just buy a bar of soap” hit their browser. Now the guy has an interview lined up at one of the big 4 accounting firms and is deciding which freshly tailored designer suit to wear to it.

Some of the articles don’t even have a specific recommendation, they just want you to “be nice” or “don’t be a bully,” which is the perfect advice for someone who already knows what that means and respects it as a guideline. It’s even more perfect if you’re looking for a few pats on the back and “everyone should read this” shares.

Just ease up on these articles please, and send or repost links to the existing articles to get your grandstanding fix.

2) The New Card Frames

When I saw the black card Waste Not, my first thought was, “whatever, the new frame is a non-issue; who cares.” My second thought was, “the community wasted their opportunity to design a card, and called it Waste Not.”

waste not

Then I saw the Wall of Fire below. Veeeery clever, Wizards, leading with the black card. “Oh my god, your dog chewed up everything in my apartment.” “Well, let’s inspect his chew toy to see how much damage was done.” The black card looks fine… because the disastrous tapered black ink doesn’t contrast with the rest of the frame.

wall of fire

They needed the white printed words to be against a black background, but instead of boxing it tightly or creating a box in the style of the boxes higher up on the card, then filling it black, someone in the art department decided to make this the focal point of the bottom half of the card.

It pulls your focus right down to where it doesn’t belong, urging you to glance at the most boring part of the card. It seems so obviously overthought. Only after hours and hours and hours of trying to find the best way to minimize the distraction of white-on-black collector’s info fine print would someone then stand up and go, “what if instead of a minimal black box, we just made the entire bottom black?” I understand how that part could have happened. I just don’t get how this got approved by everyone else and saw the light of day.

3) Tragedy of the Commons Case Study: Helene Bergeot’s and Worth Wollpert’s Time

In 2013 it became commonplace to Tweet or Facebook post any and all grievances you have with Magic to Helene Bergeot, WotC’s Director of Global Organized Play and/or Worth Wollpert, Magic’s Official Nero Watching Magic Online Burn (title approximate). At first it was only logical, they have the title, are active on social media, and you have an issue you’re trying to resolve. You could take it to the message boards or call customer support, but that would take your time, time you could be spending writing your magnum opus, “Stop Bullying Me with Your Jokes: A 13-Part Oversensitivity Retrospective.”

Instead of spending your time, you use a little of Helene’s or Worth’s. I have done it myself, make no mistake. The problem is there are an awful lot of Magic players, and two things happened: 1) more and more of them starting realizing they had this lifeline, and 2) they started using it for more and more trivial gripes.

Over time, the bar just lowers on what is worthy (or Worthy) of public complaint. Brian Kibler used to only complain publicly when something got really bad and he had a decent idea of how to fix it, but now he Tweets they should use the old card art on the Power 9 online just so he doesn’t have to memorize 20 new card layouts to play Cube for phantom points. Helene used to get important Tweets about not being able to find the tournament site for a big event or if someone won a Qualifier but their name wasn’t on the qualified list. Now it’s:


I like that one because it tags everyone Tom could think of, and none of them cares about his idea. Here are some more:


“Hey Helene, can you take some time to answer this hypothetical: if I solved all your problems, would you even care??”


They are a thing, but not a thing she is in charge of dealing with.


Helene and Scott handle security for GenCon, which isn’t even run by Wizards? They do it all.




I bet she was checking her inbox for hours until it arrived. To much words.


There’s a lot to love about that one.


Asks Worth a condescending question. He replies. “What about Helene?” Incredible.


Kenny the Dragon demonstrating a PROPER request.


It’s almost certainly a high priority, but he’s aware it might not be nowhere near to not being not not a priority.


Right, right.


Thanks for reading,
Matt Sperling

If you’ve got a comment about my article or you experience a bug in your casual Commander game, hit me up on Twitter @mtg_law_etc.

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