Monday, June 19, 2017

Common Cycling Lands Back in Standard

Previews have officially started for Hour of Devastation. And while there are several interesting Commons that have already been spoiled, the existence of a cycle of Common Lands that can be cycled will probably make a big difference in the upcoming metagame. One of the perennial problems in Magic is drawing too many Lands in the course of a game. Lands that cycle solve this problem quite elegantly, allowing you to discard them for a new card and a marginal cost. Unless you're playing a very aggressive deck where the fact that these Lands come into play tapped is an issue or need a very finely tuned mana base, including a full playset of these in your deck is probably a good idea.

In this case, the cost to draw the new cards is 2 mana, one of which (presumably) is the same color as the land would have produced. This is somewhat of a blend of the original cycle back in Urza's Saga (which has never been available on Magic Online) that cycled for 2 mana and the newer one from Onslaught that cycled for a single colored mana.

Interestingly enough, it appears that each land in the cycle will also be a Desert, which looks like it will matter for at least a few cards at Common.

Finally, I want to apologize for the lack of content. June has been extremely busy. I haven't had time to open Magic Online in weeks, and all of my other hobbies are suffering as well. The rest of the summer looks quieter fortunately, so I should be back to a more regular schedule from this point forward.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Delay in Updates for Week Six of the MPDC League

I am traveling all of this week, will have only occasional access to the Internet, and almost certainly will not have access to a computer to post the results from Week Five of the MPDC League or restart the Scoreboard for Week Six. So what does this mean?

The results and prizes will be delayed until next weekend. I hope to have it updated by this Friday, but it may be as late as Saturday before everything is updated.

In addition, the Scoreboard will continue to display all of the match results from Week Five, with the new results from Week Six appearing on the same spreadsheet. So if you check the Scoreboard during the week, you will need to scroll down to the bottom to find the new results.

However, this will NOT otherwise affect the league. Continue to use the Results Form as normal, and when I have access to my computer again on Friday afternoon, I will sort everything out.

I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Have a great week!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Sushi Go

My wife and I, being the avid gamers that we are, are slowly introducing our children to our wide collection of "Geek" games. We decided to start them off easy, and the game we picked was Sushi-Go.

Sushi-Go is a quick card drafting game where you select a card from your starting hand, play it face up in front of you, and then pass the rest of the cards to the next player. You then select another card and continue the sequences until all of the cards have been played. You do this over three rounds, keeping score after each round, and then the winner is declared at the end based on the total number of points you selected.

As you might expect from the title, the cards represent different kinds of sushi, each illustrated with a cute picture and coded to a particular color. Some cards are worth points all by themselves, but most of them are only worth points in particular combinations. These combinations range from having the most of a card type, from completing either pairs or sets, playing a multiplier on one particular card type, and even a card that only scores at the very end of the game, awarding the player with the most bonus points and punishing the player with the fewest the same number of points. The game takes its name from the "Chopsticks" card, which allows you to draft two cards during one of your turns rather than just one, requiring you to announce "Sushi-Go!" when you do so.

While not particularly complex, there is definitely some light strategy when it comes to selecting which card types you are going to build towards. You need to pay attention not only to which cards you're passing but also to which combinations your opponent is playing. Since even in the five player version you don't actually see every card, there is a fair bit of randomness involved, but you typically see enough cards that this randomness shouldn't be too much of a factor.

Our kids picked it up quite quickly, and while there was the typical hurt feelings when only one person wins, it was still a fun and easy game to play with them, and one I'm sure we'll return to in the future.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

WIP: Three Gifts

I've written in the past how I've used Magic the Gathering art to inspire some of my writing. Today I want to share with you a work-in-progress based on this particular card image (and you get bonus points if you can name the card without using Google search or something similar).

Looking at this piece of art, I imagined a priest who specialized in identifying and destroying items that contain dangerous or evil arcane energies. This seemed like the perfect setup for a story about a series of objects that the priest encounters, and how he unwittingly falls prey to dark magicks hidden within. Here, then, is the first 150 words or so, which encapsulates the scene from the art. Enjoy!

Berend swung his maul, scattering shards of pottery across the stone chamber and unleashing a burst of sand into the air. A cloud of grit slowly settled amidst the jagged pieces of what had once been a statue, causing the robed figure to cough. He kicked at the debris scattered across the sigil of Piotyr inscribed on the floor, grinding a small fragment under his boot. Satisfied, he turned as two figures approached, burdened by the second of the grotesque statues that had been dragged into the temple after being found outside that morning.

“By the Light, your pride will be the death of you someday, Berend,” the first said. “You didn’t even bother to lay down a Protection sigil?”

He snorted. “You worry too much. Ugly as they are, they're hardly tainted at all. I don’t know why they even bothered sending them up here.”

Monday, June 5, 2017

MPDC League Scoreboards and Decklists

Earlier today I posted the results from the now complete Week Four of the MPDC League. Congratulation to cRUMMYdUMMY who went undefeated this week to earn the first place trophy.

Several people have requested permanent access to each week's Scoreboard to make it easier to track decklists. I finally updated the Scoreboard page to include these forms from each week. While the data isn't very easy to sort through in Google Pages itself, you can choose to save a local copy to your computer, which you can then input into your spreadsheet editor of choice. Hopefully this will allow some of you to share with us some insights on what's going on in the format.

I am also slowly in the process of exploring ways to save the Top 4 decklists from each week. Since the last time I checked, it appears that MTGOTrader's Decks feature seems to be working correctly, so I am in the process of uploading those into that database. But for the moment, you can check out the 1st place decks from each week below:

Week 1: White Weenie by nate316
Week 2: White Weenie by manaissues
Week 3: Burn by DrChrisBakerDC
Week 4: Azorius Artifacts by cRUMMYdUMMY

Last week we had 19 players who contributed a total of 69 games between them. Thanks to everyone who has participated in the league.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Writer's Symposium at Gencon

The official sign up for events at GenCon 2017 finally went live this past Sunday. Although the con itself isn't until the middle of August, the sign-up for events is always a bit crazy, as thousands of registrants compete for seminars and events that can only hold dozens of people at most.

Like in the past few years, GenCon is also hosting its annual Writer's Symposium, where successful authors in the science fiction and fantasy genres give panel discussions on a variety of topics. Some of the major authors featured this year include Brandon Sanderson, Mercedes Lackey, Patrick Rothfuss, and Larry Correia, each of whom are doing special Q&A and book signings in addition to their panel discussions. If you're curious, you can see all of the Writer's Symposium events here.

Here are a few panels that I am particularly looking forward to:
  • Medieval Cooking and Fantasy Foods
  • Believable Fictional Languages
  • Real Animals in a Fantasy World
  • War Magic — When Magic Goes to War
  • Can a Hero be Too Powerful?
It's going to be another great year at GenCon. If any of my readers are planning on attending, let me know. I'd love to come say hello and meet you in person.