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Sperling’s Sick of It – July 2013

I apologize for taking June off from writing about Magic or being sick of stuff. I wish I were better at making myself write articles even when I’m busy with other stuff, I really do. I’m working on it.

The delay means I’m basically boiling over with frustration and anger about goings on in the Magic community that I haven’t been able to vent.

Here goes:

1) The Dumbest Humblebrag in Recent History

Travis Boese recently posted a great tournament report about what it was like to play and win as a person with very limited vision. You can check it out here.

One of the first comments on the piece was this one:

Incredible. The first thing I have to point out is Scott saying he won “the quarters” of a local GPT that awards 2 byes. The event probably had the store owner’s 11-year-old son in it to get it to 8 players, and yet Scott is recounting “the quarters” like he’s covering Wimbledon. But really the key here is that he’s taking his time to awkwardly brag about winning “the quarters.”

Maybe they didn’t teach humility at McFlurry University. In any event, Gary Talim and I produced the following two mock comments and a list of puns to commemorate this amazingly oblivious comment:

• “great article, you know we were JUST thinking of you in the x-3, shot-at-store-credit bracket in the second to last round of a PTQ, so naturally I had to comment. I was 20 he was at 16.”
• “Incredible article. It’s just a shame you couldn’t ‘author’ your way past my Merfolk deck in our Legacy Win-A-Top tournament. I’ll be looking at the top 3 cards for years to come thanks to your punt.”
• Great Sable Brag
• Humble Brag Budoka
• Humblebragonizing Memories (when he forgot to post on the guy he beat at the prerelease’s Facebook Note)
• Shivan Brag-On
• Brindle Boast
• Obzebrag, Boast Council
• Cloud Gloat Ranger
• Close Quarters!
• GP Trial // Error
• Out of Contexted Cliffs
• Humbull Ceredon

(Check out Tom’s humblebrag, for further reference:)

2) Reid Duke Not Having a Selson Blue Sponsorship

Reid’s hair isn’t news, neither is the idea of more sponsorships for top pros, but I haven’t heard much about where these two great things intersect. Troy Palomalu and Joe Mauer blazed the trail, it’s time we saw Reid’s majestic mane galloping down it.

We’ve seen several stages now, from Posh Spice to a grunge look and now a kind of redneck chic. All along the way, I and millions of others have cursed our luck in the genetic lottery (my hair stays as straight as Brian Hegstad if it gets longer than a half-inch) and wondering if any product out there could possibly close the gap. This is a simple 1 + 1 = 2 for advertisers, and everybody wins.

3) Modern Masters

This isn’t the most timely note, but it needs to be said. The Modern Masters packs were so expensive that before it shipped I expected a run of new cards to be in the packs that had cumulative upkeep: $2 which you could pay via credit card on wizards.com. Speaking of wizards.com—

4) Wizards.com

Here’s an excellent litmus test for whether your website is functional: if the only way to navigate it is by Google searching, it isn’t functional. Finding yesterday’s article is impossible from the homepage, finding an article from 2 weeks ago is impossible even from the specific content page that has the current content. There are big buttons on the top, some panels on the side, but no intuitive ordering or labeling of anything. It is to web design what Magic Online is to game design, which is approximately what Buffalo Bill’s house in Silence of the Lambs was to interior design.

I just visited wizards.com to make sure I didn’t miss any recent positive developments, and I confirmed that I have not. The first thing you see is that Magic and KaiJudo receive equal emphasis. I don’t know what KaiJudo is, and when I went to hover over it for perhaps more info or to click it, the box it was in changed to something else saying, “Visit WPN for Retail Support.” When I clicked on “Welcome to Wizards.com LEARN MORE” it took me to some company info/careers page. I’m sure it’s a cool place to work, but shouldn’t the default “LEARN MORE” be more about the products, not the company?

After a couple clicks I was bored, and I didn’t encounter anything that would change my default behavior when I need info on Wizards products or I need to find an article published on their site. I’ll still be searching Google.

One last thing, I can’t remember having left or read a comment on an article on Wizards.com. The comments section, like everything else, is at least one or two clicks beyond what you’ll ever see. This is the one redeeming feature of the website.

5) “What’s Your Record?” Fishing

Every tournament hall has dozens of these guys walking around, trying to spot friends, acquaintances, or people with their “shields down” to unwanted banter. When the person locks on, they immediately come with “What’s your record?” and before or immediately following your answer, here comes their record and how they won or lost their last round.

“You win last round?” “No lost a close ga-“ “Cool yeah, well I just beat this guy who cast [card]Aetherling[/card] all 3 games!” “Nice.” “Yeah it was unreal…” [This is when the listener starts pondering whether they’d prefer the speaker never win another match of Magic in his/her life, or instead always finishes with a heartbreaking “near-miss” in the last two rounds].

6) The Word Esper Interfering with my Vanity Searches

The best part of taking the “Magic Community” too seriously and being a fringe member of it is searching articles for your name when a friend, teammate, or opponent publishes their report. I am way too lazy to type “Sperling” into the search bar when I hit Control + F, and the word Esper turns up if I search “sper” which is a habit I can’t seem to break. Why couldn’t they name that shard Eriet or Ekible to frustrate other likely Vanity Searchers. Instead I have to type out an entire 5 characters, and sometimes it highlights when I click back into it so I end up retyping for a total of 9 characters, which is more than my entire last name contains in the first place. My back-of-the-envelope calculation is that I’ve wasted upwards of 2 minutes over the course of several years due to the name of this shard. It’s an outrage.

(This is perhaps the most vapid and irrelevant Sick-of-It section of all time, and the fact that I can’t say for sure that it is depresses me even more.)

7) A New Garruk Every Other Set

This isn’t that hard, just come up with a new green planeswalker, or give Garruk a few more reprints. Do we really need Garruk, Beast Friend, Garruk, Treater of Beastly Wounds, Garruk, Exasperated or whatever the latest few are, instead of a new character? Is every red flyer a different version of Rorix? Is there a 4/3 Rorix for 4, a smaller Rorix that grows, a giant Rorix that costs 9? No, because that would be repetitive and unnecessarily hard to keep track of.

“There’s a new Garruk coming out.” “YES, and I just pray it can make tokens and/or help me get fatties out.”

This kind of thing also subtly ruins the highlander formats by introducing a bunch of similar cards at a powerful level that takes away from the unique feel of the formats.

8) The Lack of Therapy Dogs at Tournaments

Magic can be really frustrating, and everyone who isn’t a sociopath likes Golden Retrievers (the default therapy dog), so again we arrive at a connect-the-dots service that no one is providing. Gary Talim (a recurring character in my sad, whiny life) and I recently had this exchange about a Cube draft he did on MTGO:

Gary: Do you have the number for a good PTSD counselor? I just [card]Spell Pierce[/card]d, [card]Force Spike[/card]d, and [card]Daze[/card]d someone on turns 4, 5, and 6.

Me: “Our therapy is going really well. We’re making so much progress confronting what happened on July 23rd, 2013. Just one more session, just pay for one more, pay one, and we’ll be set.” **client has seizure**

That exchange got me thinking about therapy dogs at tournaments. Maybe some catchy slogans can get this off the ground:

(each slogan accompanies the image of a cute therapy pup)

“Missed land 4? Hug this Labrador.”

“You’re still in contention for his love.”

“He would scoop you in if he wasn’t a canine incapable of participating in activities requiring abstract thought.”

“Paw of Obzedat.”

“Bring me a treat, and we’ll wag off that defeat.”

“She’s actually barking ‘you should have mulliganned that hand,’ but you’ll never know it.”

Discussion

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