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20-Point Fireball (TM): Very Bad Edition (TM)
By Eric Turgeon
Life gain would be a Very Bad Thing (TM) because all I have is a 20-Point Fireball (TM)!

1) For those who hadn't figured it out, the title of this 20-Point Fireball (TM) is taken from the internet practice of trademarking two or more words that have been randomly capitalized. It is one of many things that pisses me right off. (No, I'm not negative!) By the end of this column, I hope everyone else hates it as much as I do. Let's start with a few thoughts on the subject:


  • One of the downfalls of reading about Magic is coming to the understanding that 90% of the people who write about it are complete nerds. As nerds, they feel the necessity to use leet a "language" created by a bunch of guys who got beat up all through high school. Now it's used as a method of self-gratifying ego-boosting for kids currently getting beat up in high school.
  • Who began the practice of placing a trademark symbol after terms like Bad Thing, Good Thing and Very Bad Thing? I'd like to smack them. Of these phrases, only one actually has a copyright attached to it and of all the instances I've seen it used as "Good Thing (TM)" none have been by Martha Stewart, who owns said copyright. Don't think she won't sue you.
  • I wish everyone would understand how Very Annoying (TM) all this Geek Speak (TM) crap is to read on the internet. Just because you write Something-In-Capital-Letters (TM) does not automatically mean it needs to be trademarked. Can you imagine a Legitimate Journalist (TM) doing something like that?
  • w00t! What the hell does this even mean?

2) Chris Romeo seemed surprised that I dubbed him one of the best writers at StarCityGames (note: I don't have a premium membership), but it's hard to argue against it. Chris writes a weekly article entitled "From Right Field" that's as funny as it is informative. Well, maybe it's not informative, but it's funny and well-written and includes lots of links to cheesecake pictures.

3) A normal person can't come in first place in a release league on MTGO. In regular leagues, it's possible because they last four weeks. It's really hard (but not impossible) to win the first five matches you play every week for four weeks, so if you do it, you're almost guaranteed to come in first. But with the release leagues, which only last one week, it's a lot easier to win five matches in a row. In fact, I'd guess about 10% of the participants do it. So even if you win your first five matches, there's going to be about 25 other people who did the same thing. And among them, there's going to be at least one Total Loser (TM) who apparently has time to play 50 matches a week and rack up his tiebreaker points to some insurmountable level. But at least you can enjoy your bonus avatar.

4) Think about that for a second. League games are timed, allowing each player 45 minutes to play up to three games, meaning no match can last longer than an hour and a half. My highly unscientific guesstimate as to the average match time is about 45 minutes total, including time spent waiting for the match to begin. Ravnica tends to go slower, but I'll leave it at that. I played twelve matches in my league, meaning I spent a little over nine hours on league games in one week. The average number of matches played by the top ten players in the league was 36, meaning they spent about 27 hours playing in the league. Congratulations if you can dedicate 27 hours a week on Magic. One guy is up to 54 matches. That's a work week for me.

5) I can't believe that "guesstimate" is a real word.

6) When I first got my MTGO account, things were set up a little differently. In the Casual Room, there were actually two rooms for non-casual players: the tournament practice room and the "1800 Room," which was reserved for players with ratings greater than 1800. Somewhere along the line the developers realized that no one was hanging out in the 1800 room. There were also a significant number of players in the casual room playing Not-Quite-So-Casual (TM) decks. So they nixed the 1800 room and created a new "Anything Goes" room. I thought this was a great idea. I'd finally have a room where I could play my sub-par land destruction, affinity, discard and Astral Slide decks without getting quit on after my opponent realized what my deck did. The first couple months after this room was created, there'd be about 100 people in it most of the time. I played some good games in that room, with no complaints or hard feelings. Nowadays, there are about five people in the room at any given time and they're all playing best-of-three matches with tournament-level decks. Isn't that what the tournament practice room is for? At the same time, other people keep dragging their net decks into the casual room. I still can't understand why the Anything Goes room died out so quickly. The last time I went in there, only three people were in it. When I went into the Casual Room, I played games against dedicated land destruction and discard decks. The only reason I can think as to why no one uses the Anything Goes room is that all the people who build Not-Quite-So-Casual (TM) decks really don't want to play against these decks, either.

7) Kudos to Doug Beyer for creating Gatherer. It's the most useful tool for finding and sorting Magic cards. It's highly interactive and is a must for any dedicated deckbuilder. The Sample Hand Generator, on the other hand, is just kind of stupid.

8) In my last 20-Point Fireball (TM), I wanted to put up a picture of dental floss and a football field to go with item #17. When I looked up "dental floss" on Google images, the seventh most popular item was a woman wearing a thong. When I looked up "football field" on Google images, the fourth most popular item was a woman wearing a thong. Someone please explain this to me.

9) Which Wizards employee do more Magic Geeks (TM) drool over? Rachel Reynolds or Jen Page?

10) It's becoming painfully apparent that a significant portion of the writers at magicthegathering.com would rather be writing about the Pro Tour than what they are supposed to write about. In my understanding, Brian David-Marshall and Mike Flores are the Pro Tour guys. Mike does Swimming With Sharks, where he reviews decklists and strategy. Brian does The Week That Was, where he covers players and results. I don't read these articles for a couple reasons. First, I have no interest in the Pro Tour. Second, because I don't want to see pictures of what "real" Magic players look like.

To get back to my main point: Bennie Smith is supposed to be writing about Magic Online. In this article, he spends 2100 words giving an interview with a pro player, barely mentioning MTGO before spending about 850 words talking about card programming problems (mostly quoting Rachel Reynolds) and entering an online draft (Scott Wills' former territory.) Speaking of Scott Wills, Matthew Vienneau (who reminds me of Kevin McDonald from the Kids in the Hall) recently took over the column Limited Information. Limited Information has always been an advice column about drafting and sealed deck. In Matt's first article, he talks about his experiences at Pro Tour Atlanta 1996. Aaron Forsythe frequently dedicates columns to updating the state of competitive Magic. This is forgivable, since development's primary interest is in balancing the competitive state of the game. But I can't stand Mark Rosewater babbling on about Pro Tour history in his design column. My basic point is this: If people want to write about professional Magic, then Wizards needs to get them out of the casual columns. Hire another Anthony Alongi, Jay Moldenhauer-Salazar, Scott Wills, Chad Ellis, Mark Gottlieb or Matt Cavotta someone who can write about what they're supposed to write about instead of just what they want to write about. Doesn't Scott Johns read these things before putting them up? If I wrote an article about football or politics, do you think it would get posted here?

11) Two weeks ago was Dwarf Week on magicthegathering.com. It was also the week of Thanksgiving, meaning no new material was posted after Wednesday. Was it a mere coincidence that Dwarf Week was on a short week?

12) In Matt Cavotta's most recent article on MTG.com, he tries to explain that attractive and scantily-clad women found in card art are not there by the request of Wizards of the Coast. Even though they are trying to market to a primarily male audience and sex appeal is a big sell for that demographic, apparently the artists alone decide to put hot women in the art. I can believe this to an extent. I'm sure there are a lot of times where the art description does not mention a subject by gender. But one thing that Magic's creators do have complete control over is how new creatures are depicted in the style guide. If they didn't want the cat women of Mirrodin or the rat women of Kamigawa to have curvaceous features, they easily could have had them redone. I personally don't have a problem with this. When the creative team decides to make large-chested cat women and rat women, I can understand why they would choose to give them human-female features over the More Traditional Animal Offspring-Feeding Organs (TM). But I do have a problem with the snake women of Kamigawa. Reptiles don't produce milk. Most of their offspring are hatched and immediately scurry off looking for insects or small rodents to eat. No nurturing period is required. It's bad enough that snake people were given arms and legs and hair, but when you give them breasts, you've gone too far.

13) In my first 20-Point Fireball, I spent a few points discussing the stupidity of the new Pro Tour Hall of Fame. If you happen to feel otherwise, I'll assume you have not yet seen the Pro Tour Hall of Fame Rings. They make me angry. Not because they're a huge waste of money. Not because they're gigantic and gaudy. But because the idea of rings for the Magic Pro Tour Hall of Fame is so ridiculous that I cannot make a joke about them that isn't more absurd than their very existence.

14) A while ago, I was playing in a 4-week online league. In one of the matches, my opponent asked me to take a draw because they didn't have time to finish. I usually like to think I'm a nice guy about these sorts of things, but I have to pay for the packs and events that I enter online. I'm not about to give up a potential win and possible prize place just because my opponent didn't plan enough time accordingly. Of course, after I explained myself, they called me an Insensitive Jerk (TM) and quit right away, but I stand by my choice. Do you think that if a player enters a real tournament and doesn't have time to finish, that his opponents will be penalized with draws in all the games he misses? Of course, if my opponent had explained that it was an emergency or something, I might have reconsidered, but if it's an emergency, they probably shouldn't be getting so worked up over losing a game of Magic, either.

15) On a barely related note, one time I was playing a match in a different league and I came down with a Severe Case of Diarrhea (TM). I tried to hold it in, but finally just said, "brb," and took off for the john. It cost me fifteen minutes off my timer, but luckily I was still able to lose with plenty of time remaining.

16) Which came first? Ferret or Ferrett?

17) Paris Hilton may have Nothing To Do With Magic (TM), but by typing her name along with the word "nude," I may increase the amount of traffic that comes through the Casual Players Alliance.

18) Online Multiplayer Free-For-All Tip of the Month (TM): Don't stop playing until you're dead. This probably doesn't happen a lot in real life, but online once someone starts to dominate the game, one or more players will always quit. Quitting early only leaves all the underdogs in an even weaker position. If one person plays an Enormous Indestructible Creature (TM) or a spell that wipes out the board, he'll be the target of every other player in the game. I played one game where two players were jockeying over who could control more Darksteel Colossuses using Sculpting Steel. One player was so intimidated by this that he up and quit. He visited the game about half an hour later only to discover that both of those players were out of the game after knocking each other's life down and then getting hit by an entwined Grab the Reins. Quitting early can only waste the time you've already spent on the game. It also tells players with the most powerful spells that they don't really have to earn their wins.

19) It's a good thing I have nothing to do with the production of Magic cards. If someone had shown me the picture for Chorus of the Conclave and asked me to come up with ideas for a card name, the first name that would have popped in my head would be "The Selesbians."

20) I just realized that my name means "Ever-Ruling Sheep-Herder (TM)." Now I feel the need to build a deck around this revelation. Here's my decklist so far:
4x Ovinomancer

Read More Articles by Eric Turgeon!

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