Sperling’s Sick of It – March 2013

First, I have to apologize for taking February off from “Sick of It.” Rest assured, I was privately fed up with things—I just didn’t have time to write. January’s column can be found here.

Here’s what I’m sick of this month:

1) The Adverb “Actively”

When you start playing Magic at 12 years old and eventually reach my ripe old age of nearly 30, you’ve lived through many phases of “Magic lingo.” “Some good,” “Tings,” “Mise,” “Barn,” “Saooo,” “Thatiss,” “Monguise,” “Game,” etc. I’ve witnessed some of these phrases pass through every phase of the cycle, from creation to use to overuse to “please kill me.” The latest is “actively,” which may have started with the somewhat sensible, “I actively avoid drafting red in that set.” Makes sense. You could passively not draft red because you don’t value the cards highly, hence don’t end up red often, but you’re saying you actively avoid it regardless of the cards that turn up.

That infrequent but sensible use aside, I now hear mostly stuff like, “I’m actively excited when they cast [card]Bloodbraid Elf[/card],” or, “I actively want to do another draft.” I guess given the sedentary lifestyle many of the people I have these exchanges with lead, perhaps being excited about an opponent’s spell is considered “active.” For most of us, though, it’s hard to see what “actively” is adding to these sentences other than smugness. I actively hope these people actively reevaluate their lingo and actively phase it out (no really, passive phasing out will come, but it’s slow).

2) Lingo Suggestion

“Community contribution” has entered the lexicon due to the special/sponsor’s (I can’t keep them straight) invites that have been handed out ostensibly for this achievement. I suggest the following usage for “community contribution” going forward: “The money draft? Oh, we lost. Paul 2-1’d, I 2-1’d, and Dave contributed to the game and the community.” It’s really the organized play equivalent of, “because I said so!” (which makes some toddlers asking, “but whyyyyyyyyyyyyyy,” I realize). “Man, you went 4-4 in a Modern PTQ again?” “Yup, I just can’t stop contributing to the game and the community.”

3) Silver Bullet Magic

During Gatecrash spoiler season, fellow Grinch Tim Aten and I were discussing the card [card]Frontline Medic[/card], particularly the obviously duct-taped on “counter Sphinx’s Revelation/Bonfire clause.” We joked about the card being a top-down design, and suggested other top-downs like “R, Instant – Destroy target Insect, then remove all instants and sorceries from its owner’s graveyard.” (We imagined them passing this off during the Delver era as a top-down implementation of “Bug Spray.”) The working title for this card was “Massive Raid.”

[card]Skullcrack[/card] was then spoiled, and again it felt patchy because everyone had been complaining about [card]Thragtusk[/card] (though admittedly this card could exist in another context). At one point Tim said, “Is there going to be a card in this set, ‘Destroy target creature. Its controller loses 5 life. At end of turn, deal 3 damage to a creature that player controls.’?” I lost it.

I’m sick of these inelegant tools to “rebalance” things. Forget making [card]Lingering Souls[/card] worse in context, let’s just put, “Murder all 1/1 flyers,” RIGHT ON the Dragon! ([card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card]). Get the artist to tattoo F*!# LINGERING SOULS on the Dragon’s forehead, and put a bunch of Spirits on fire in the art as well. Make the flavor text, “Hope this doesn’t linger!”

“Sacrifice Frontline Medic: Counter target spell with {X} in its mana cost unless its controller pays {3}.”

The setting is a large battlefield. Both sides have sustained massive casualties, but your enemy’s army, what remains of it, appears to be on the brink of defeat. All of a sudden, a giant sphinx, something you had only heard about over a campfire when your fellow soldiers broke out the ale, flies into view over the far side of the field. You notice something strange about the sphinx’s demeanor—it doesn’t seem ready to attack. It dawns on you like a ton of [card]Mizzium Mortars[/card], and you yell as loud as you can, “That Sphinx looks ready to reveal something, MEDIIIIIIIIIIIIC!” A nearby medic looks over, clearly confused. “What the hell am I supposed to do about this?” “Kill yourself.” That was the last day you were considered mentally fit for battle.

4) Everyone Who Has Ever Made a Magic Online Account is Now Streaming

You can’t read 5 Tweets from Magic players without encountering, “Firing up the stream for a Standard Daily, twitch.tv/guyyoudontcareabout.” Pretty soon we’ll see, “Streaming intro decks, red vs. green in Casual New Players,” as the Twitch/XSplit setup will be part of the basic tutorial. Michael Jacob or Cedric Phillips or Brian Kibler should be streaming, but when some random guy named Ravitz or Reynad fires up the stream, I feel like someone is putting up a webcast of high school sports. Cool if it’s your kid or your good friend, but you don’t need to advertise it. The people begging for tix and packs to fund their drafts are just embarrassing us all—at least that’s how I feel, which is what matters here.

There are some people who go to even more extreme measures to attract viewers, playing wacky combo decks and taking off their sleeves or even their shirt on the webcam. What would the founding fathers of video taped Magic like Mike Long and Shawn Hammer Regnier say if they were alive today? It just sickens me to the game treated this way, instead of the incredibly important intellectual pursuit I’ve built much of my life around. SHAME on you streamers.

5) Stupid Cards of the Month Not Named Frontline Medic

a) Borboyygmogogossosysosos, Enraged
The new Gruul motto: “Charge, Smash, Never Get Cast.”

b) [card]Angelic Skirmisher[/card]
Is that an “I can do it!” fist pump, or is she punching air? “WIND!” (she just threw on an elemental ring, any 90s kids here?). You can’t request “draw a battle-ready Angel” and get worse art than this. You can alter these and I won’t make fun of the alter. I grant amnesty to alters of this card.

c) [card]Blind Obedience[/card]
Top-down design Mark Rosewater made in honor of followers of his design column.

d) [card]Debtor’s Pulpit[/card]
West coast flavor text: “Please, Kenny, just pay. I’ll take half just pay me half.”

e) [card]Hold the Gates[/card]
If you’re holding the gates, each additional gate makes you weaker. Blotto 101 here. Is it easier for 2 men to hold 1 gate or 3? This card doesn’t make sense.

f) [card]Last Thoughts[/card]
Let’s see if this concept matches the effect. “I’m about to invade your mind and either steal something or implant the final thought that will exist in your head before you are destroyed.” Draw a card.

g) [card]Totally Lost[/card]
Nothing I’m sick of here, just wanted to say “Poor Fblthp.” =[

h) [card]Smog Elemental[/card]
Shifted in from the far away plane of Los Angeles, CA.

i) [card]Ember Beast[/card]
I can’t figure out why they didn’t just reprint [card]Ekundu Cyclops[/card] with original art. Oh well.

j) [card]Hellkite Tyrant[/card]
Saw this joke on Reddit a while back, I really love it: “You finally sneak into the dragon’s cave and find his treasure chest. you open it and there is just a macaroni drawing by the dragon’s son.

ITS TREASURE TO MEEEEE’ the dragon bellows”

k) [card]Massive Raid[/card]
Antonino DeRosa stops playing Magic so he can seek gold coins, and then someone comes along and just scares them right out of his hand.


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