Have you ever enjoyed a movie or series of movies only to have a long period of time go by before a sequel comes out? And the sequel is always something stupid like Jaws: the Revenge or Die Hard with a Vengeance. It's always got something to do with exacting revenge, despite the fact that the same protagonist who came out on top in the first movies still comes out on top in the new movie. It's so stupid. Why didn't they just stop when things were going fine instead of trying to stretch the plot with a whole bunch of stupid ideas that totally aren't working?
You know what?
It's time for vengeance.
I put a Braid of Fire in play 20 turns ago and I have a Quicken in hand, so it's time to unleash another 20-Point Fireball.
1) Let's start by answering the pressing question: why now? In case you missed it, way back in October, I wrote the brilliant piece entitled, "20-Point Fireball: Ravnica Edition." A month later, some mysterious poster, going by the eminently awkward handle of "Chris Romeo" (must think he's some sort of lover boy) posted a reply that read:
Wow! I'm one of the best writers on StarCity? Thank you. I know that it was said in the context of not liking the piece, but I'll take it. – Chris.
I had no idea who this person was or what the comment was supposed to mean, so naturally I ignored it. But just a few weeks ago, some writer at Star City Games, who also calls himself "Chris Romeo" had the brilliant and oh-so-original (note the sarcasm) idea of writing a column of "quick hits" because "I just have a bunch or random thoughts floating around in my head." Random Thoughts? Where have I heard that before? Oh yeah, he stole it from me! Or, if he's a football fan, he may have stolen it from Gregg Easterbrook, Pat Forde or Pete Fuitak, but I see no mention of him liking sports in anything else he's written. That makes me the leading authority of random thoughts on Magic. Thus, the revenge.
2) If you don't devote your life to Magic (how dare you!) you might not have heard that pro player and MTG.com Ask the Pro columnist Oliver Ruel was disqualified from a recent tournament for looking at his opponent's cards while shuffling. This is why competitive play is inherently flawed. I can't even count the number of times I've shuffled my own deck and cards got stuck in bad positions and flipped out onto the table or onto my lap or all over the floor. It happens. I can't even imagine trying to shuffle without looking at the cards. After a minute the entire deck would be splayed out all over the table and I'd have to resort to Texas Hold 'Em-style randomization. The alternative, of course, is to employ the riffle method, which looks much more professional if you can do it right, but has a tendency to bend the cards at the middle. If you drop a couple hundred bucks for some play sets of dual lands, this probably isn't your favorite option. The real solution is to take away the rule where your opponent is allowed to shuffle your deck. Let them cut it if they like. Let them cut it ten times if they like, but make sure every card is facing down the entire time.
3) Perhaps a better question, in light of this whole fiasco, is whether or not the value of Oliver's Pro Player card will go down in value. That's assuming he even has one, of course. I'm too lazy to check.
4) In one of Aaron Forsythe's columns on MTG.com, he ran a poll asking people how many Ravnica-block dual lands readers owned. Much to my surprise, almost 50% of the respondents said they only owned 0-4 of these lands, which are capable of producing two colors of mana. And only 9% were in my category of owning 40 or more. I guess it really takes a savvy trader to get their hands on four copies of cards like Orzhov Basilica and Selesnya Sanctuary.
5) I heard that when Umezawa's Jitte was still in the design stage, you could remove one of its counters to destroy a creature, draw a card or gain 2 life. Thank goodness they fixed it.
6) Back in early June, the DCI updated their banned and restricted list. Normally, I wouldn't give a second thought to this sort of thing, but one of the announcements was that Tribal Wars online would be changed to only include Standard-legal cards. Apparently, after Wizards made Tribal Wars a sanctioned event online, they noticed that everyone was showing up with Goblins or Elves or Zombies or Clerics – all powerful Onslaught tribes – and therefore the results from winners were boring. Of course, the backlash from this is that all the casual players, many of whom had spent months piecing together a sweet deck from some obscure tribe, just received a swift kick in the nether regions.
Let's take a look at the tribes that got royally screwed over in this deal: Kavus, Cats, Dragons, Angels, Nightmares, Nomads, Centaurs, Cephalids, Drakes, Avatars, Elephants, Lords, Assassins, Spiders, Vampires, Djinni, Shapeshifters, Trolls, Dryads, Griffins, Apes, Mercenaries, Shades, Minotaurs and Specters.
Now let's take a look at the creatures that were barely affected, if at all: Spirits, Samurai, Monks, Moonfolk and Ninjas.
Damn you, Kamigawa block! Luckily, the fan backlash was so severe that Wizards redefined the ban two days later, to separate classic tribal from standard tribal. Silly Wizards! If you stopped sanctioning every casual format, we wouldn't have this problem in the first place. What's next? Rainbow Stairwell tournaments?
7) The art on Giant Growth should always feature an enormous rodent. If there is ever another Nth Edition vote and Giant Growth art is featured, always vote for the enormous rodent. (This is also a hint for any artists who want their sketch to win.)
8) Matt Cavotta, in a desperate attempt to draw attention away from the pummeling his "angry tree man" sketch received in the 10th Edition voting, has now embarked on a venture to find Magic-related tattoos out in the world. Back when I submitted my first 20PF article, I predicted that someone somewhere in the world has a permanent tattoo of a mana symbol on their body. It looks like there's actually someone who has an enormous tattoo of a Goblin Piledriver covering their entire left arm. It seems as though some people are much more serious about this game than even I could have predicted. And you know what the saddest thing is? All that guy's Magic-playing friends probably think his tattoo is the coolest thing in the world.
9) That being said, I now have a new prediction: Someone somewhere in the world has a permanent tattoo of a guild symbol somewhere on their body.
10) In case you forgot that the people at Wizards (or possibly the DCI, whatever the difference might be) have way too much free time on their hands, Brian David-Marshall was kind enough to remind us all that there's a Hall of Fame for Magic players. I'm sure we'll be hearing plenty of banter back and forth from people who care about who deserves to be inducted into this prestigious organization and who deserves to die because they dared to cheat some years ago, completely ruining the reputation of Magic in the collectable card game community forever. I could care less, but I like to feel included, so here's my list, based on a very cursory glance of the candidates for this class.
-Mike Long, Mark Justice, and Dave "The Hump" Humpherys – Jon Finkel's in, so all the other guys with the adult film star monikers deserve to follow his lead.
-Alex Shvartsman – Ditto guys with made-up-sounding names. (Is Zvi not eligible?)
-Steven O'Mahoney-Schwartz – I'd never even heard of this guy before I read the list, but I love his name even more than all the rest of these guys. O'Mahoney? That's awesome! It's like one of his Irish ancestors had the last name "Mahoney," but that just wasn't Irish enough. After tacking on the power of the Schwartz, you just know we've got ourselves a real winner.
11) Did you ever notice how all the articles at Magicthegathering.com always have the word Magic bolded and capitalized? I guess that I got so used to seeing it that way that my eyes adjusted, like on those Magic Eye things. But those aren't Magic tricks, they just have subtle changes in the patterns that can produce that 3-D image of Magic Johnson dunking a basketball. Okay, I'll stop now.
12) The official numbering of core sets began with 4th Edition. Before this, there were four non-expansion sets released: Alpha, Beta, Unlimited and Revised. If Alpha was technically the 1st Edition, Beta the 2nd and Unlimited the 3rd, then what was Revised?
13) Worthless Combo of the Whenever: 2 Islands + Counterspell. For years, players have tried to break the unlimited potential of Counterspell. It seems like it could be the answer to anything. Wrath of God? Counterspell it. Morphling? Counterspell it. 20-Point Fireball? Counterspell it. Obliterate? Counterspell it. Theoretically, you can use it to stop all of your opponent's best spells, but unlike Force of Will, its combo potential wasn't written in the text box. Luckily, I have the solution: 2 Islands. By putting two (or more) Islands in your deck, you have the potential to finally put a stop to all those shenanigans your opponent is trying to get away with.
14) There should really be a Magic-themed amusement park. Think about all the cool ride names that already exist in the form of cards: The Excruciator, the Whirling Dervish, the Lhurgoyf. The possibilities are endless. Plus, you could meet all your favorite Magic characters like Kamahl and Akroma and Gerrard. Even the park areas would be easy to name, based on the planes, continents and general locations of Magic. For example, in Homelands area, you can take the Aysen Highway to the Dwarven Pony rides. Think of how much fun it could be! The only problem is that it would be a Magic-themed amusement park, so no one would go.
15) No, I would not like to check for a newer version of Bink on the Internet. Please stop asking.
16) Have you seen this new Who Wants to Be a Superhero show on Sci-Fi? Apparently, Stan Lee, founder of Marvel Comics, set out to find 11 people who take their hobbies even more seriously than your average Magic player. So hundreds of people dressed up like idiots and pretended to be super-heroes so that the world might scoff at them. At this point, I usually try to write a joke or punch line of some sort, but trust me, if you've seen the show, you'll know it's not necessary.
17) I know this has nothing to do with Magic, but one of the things about the show that bothered me the most was Stan Lee telling one guy that superheroes don't kill people; they save people. Um, what about the Punisher?
18) Online Multiplayer Free-For-All Tip of the Whenever: If you don't play a single online multiplayer free-for-all game of Magic in over four months, you're going to have a tough time thinking up advice to give people about it.
19) Tag Guard
20) There was a thread on MTGSalvation, posing the question of why large Magic tournaments always stink and if any of the other readers fit the Magic stereotype of "people who don't bathe." Of course, dozens of people responded, saying how clean they were, that they showered ten times a day, never left the house without deodorant, and always maintained a proper appearance. I chimed in to state that as much as I value hygiene, a Magic tournament is not one of those places I go to hoping to impress people. I shower every day regardless, but I don't put a lot of thought into looking good for a Magic event. I'm not trying to pick up chicks, I'm trying to play cards and if the 15 year-old kid sitting across from me thinks that I look like a hobo, so be it, but I'm comfortable sporting a five day-old nerd beard and wearing an old pair of jeans and a threadbare T-shirt. A reply quickly followed saying that "it is always best to look your best no matter what you are doing." I’m not sure if I believe this, but I'm going to give it a shot anyway. The next time I attend a Magic tournament (probably the Time Spiral Prerelease), I'm going to wear a suit and tie.