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  • published the article Ten and Gone: The Rise and Fall of the Old Core Set
    I'm not here to talk about M10. We only know the broad strokes, nowhere near enough details to really comment on the set itself. No, I'm more interested in the reasons why most people are so happy with the changes, and with why those changes became necessary.
    Posted in: Ten and Gone: The Rise and Fall of the Old Core Set
  • published the article Confessions of a Dave: The Fourth Psychographic Revisited
    Months ago, I put forward the identity of a fourth distinct player type from Timmy, Johnny, and Spike. This psychographic's name is Dave, and he plays to make you suffer. Today, a former Dave tells us about his experiences.
    Posted in: Confessions of a Dave: The Fourth Psychographic Revisited
  • published the article The Game that Wouldn't Die!
    Wizards of the Coast sure does hate Magic: the Gathering. It seems hardly a year goes by before the company does its best to deliberately sabotage it, and nothing we-the-players shout at the top of our digital lungs ever persuades them to change their minds. Yet, oddly enough, in spite of all these horrible past decisions WotC has made with the express goal of destroying one of their most profitable franchises, the game endures, even prospers.
    Posted in: The Game that Wouldn't Die!
  • published the article The Folly of the Leech Bonders
    My record in the club's weekly drafts in the final semester began to border on supernatural. Now, astute readers might have noticed all the past tense in that paragraph. Here are the lessons I learned returning to the world of Limited.
    Posted in: The Folly of the Leech Bonders
  • published the article Old Frontiers: Antiquities
    Arabian Nights was a big hit, and Magic rode its initial wave of popularity into 1994. Richard Garfield's college buddies, who'd helped him create the original game, spent some months not only working on its second expansion, but also on its first—and many say, still its best—storyline.
    Posted in: Old Frontiers: Antiquities
  • published the article The Draft Comes to Middle-Earth
    Another set, another limited format, ey? Always an exciting time, and as always, those who have a lot of experience drafting have an advantage over beginners (so much is obvious). However, those of us who were drafting, oh, five years ago had a particular advantage this time around, because, you see, Tribal sets draft differently than normal ones, and if you were already familiar with the style from Onslaught block, you had a leg up on the competition at the prerelease.
    Posted in: The Draft Comes to Middle-Earth
  • published the article Prehistoric Pie: The Enduring Influence of the Original Recipe
    Magic design has come a long way since 1993. It has become more streamlined and, yes, elegant—but a surprising amount of modern design traces all the way back to the very foundational sets of the game. With the lens of the modern color pie and power levels, the old sets hold up quite well—but not perfectly. This is to be expected, of course. What is interesting, however, is the precedents these early cards set—and how R&D continues to be influenced by them.
    Posted in: Prehistoric Pie: The Enduring Influence of the Original Recipe
  • published the article [MTGS Classics] Remember the Weatherlight, Part 1: Come Sail Away
    Come Sail Away -- VestDan explores the Weatherlight storyline and its place in Magic history in a series of 5 articles. MTGS's new Series feature makes it easy to find the entire series, and the Weatherlight story is as well told today as it was in 1997, when Wizards released it.
    Posted in: [MTGS Classics] Remember the Weatherlight, Part 1: Come Sail Away
  • published the article [MTGS Classics] For What It's Worth: Valuing New Cards
    With Lorwyn kicking the powerful Ravnica block out of Standard, get ready to reevaluate card value. This old guide will help make some realistic valuations before you commit yourself to expensive piles of new cards for your new deck. (This article was originally published on March 6, 2006.)
    Posted in: [MTGS Classics] For What It's Worth: Valuing New Cards
  • published the article The Fourth Psychographic
    We all know these players. Each of us belongs to one or more of these psychographics. However, while MaRo is famous for telling us interesting things, he is also known for cleverly not telling us things. Sometimes, because it's a secret about a set coming up. Other times, because it's a topic for a later time. And then, there are the times that the topic is simply uncomfortable or embarrassing. And what I'm here to tell you today falls in the last category.
    Posted in: The Fourth Psychographic
  • published the article Scathe Zombies Strike Back . . . in TIME!
    Scathe Zombies Strike Back . . . in TIME!
    Vestdan's earlier Mental Magic articles: 1 2

    For those of you too lazy to look at those earlier articles, here’s a brief overview of the casual format. Mental Magic can be played with virtually any pile of Magic cards, the more random the better. Any card can be played as any card at all that has the exact same mana cost. Scathe Zombies can be Krovikan...
    Posted in: Scathe Zombies Strike Back . . . in TIME!
  • published the article [MTGS Mini] Jaya Ballard on Darksteel Colossus
    Just a little humor as a weekend bonus. We'll be back on Monday with Cranial Insertion!
    Posted in: [MTGS Mini] Jaya Ballard on Darksteel Colossus
  • published the article "Speculative Fiction"
    First of all, if you don't know (which would stun me, because why would you be reading my li'l ol' opinion if you don't know who I am?), I'm a burgeoning writer, with a strong Scifi/Fantasy background. And that sentence leads me to this rant... for me, growing up, and most fans of the genre, it's always been "Scifi." Scifi is a broad genre, sometimes difficult to define (I'll probably have another rant on genre definitions in general later on). The problem is, the early days of popular science fiction founded its general definition with pulp novellas and cheesy monster films, casting it in general ill-repute with the greater populace. Occasional thoughtful works suck as 2001 and Planet of the Apes were slow to repair this, and sadly, all that work was dashed with Star Wars. For all it's epic coolness, Star Wars has had a generally negative effect on the Scifi genre as a whole, as the powers-that-be ignored the mythic depth of the original trilogy and focused again on the pulpy nonsense aspects that, while cool to a nerd like me, were just too odd for the general public.

    Now, to my actual point: because of this negative perception of the Science Fiction genre, many of the quality artists who work in it refuse to admit to it. The term they prefer, and get rather huffy about insisting upon, is "Speculative Fiction."

    What utterly pretentious crap.

    First of all, doesn't 'fiction' sort of include 'speculative,' just as part of its definition? An international espionage thriller, a detective story, even a simple romance involves speculation on the writers' part--if it didn't, it wouldn't be fiction. So for starters, the label doesn't make much sense. But my real problem comes from the elitist attitude such a moniker suggests--that their stories are somehow better than others, don't deserve to be degraded by being part of the same category. I mean, I think most people's blogs are crap, but I don't go and call this a "personalized opinion center" just to make myself feel better.

    Now, I understand where a lot of these writers (for it is largely writers insisting on this) are coming from; when someone asks what my story is about, I do feel myself hesitate before admitting it's a Scifi/Fantasy story. Even with the great progress things like Battlestar Galactica and the Lord of the Rings films have made for the genres, they are still not fully in the main stream (though Science Fiction is getting tantalizingly close). The scifi genre has been referred to as a 'literary ghetto' where shoddy, low standard work is the norm--and indeed this is somewhat the case. Fans of Scifi and Fantasy are far more concept-driven than the general public; we like neat ideas, whether it is futuristic settings or technologically-impacted characters or philosophical questions advances in science bring up.

    The result of this concept focus is, we don't care so much about the execution. As a prime example, the seminal Scifi series Dune brings up many fascinating locales and at times delves into in-depth explorations of philosophy... but the writing itself is, frankly, rather dry and stiff. Several classics of the genre suffer sizable stylistic problems when compared to classic literature, and in our (often overwhelming) nerdy fervor about that which we find cool, the labeling of such books as 'classics' actually hurts the genre. Every time someone makes an unreasonable comparison like "Forever War is like Catch-22 in space!", people become more skeptical of the genre as a whole. Instead of trying to elevate interesting but flawed works to 'classic' status, we would be better off simply admitting there are few true works of literary caliber in the Scifi genre, and working our collective best both to improve the quality of the genre as a whole, and reducing the stigma on the genre such that more quality writers would be willing to delve into it.

    Yet, instead of this, many the strongest writers in the genre insist they write 'speculative fiction', which is not only nonsensical and pretentious as I said, but also unrealistic. Like it or not, the public knows what Science Fiction is, that is the term they are comfortable with. Trying to use a new term with the same definition is a misguided exercise in political correctness; does using the term "African American" instead of 'Black' really improve their socioeconomic realities?

    The real problem comes from people making any differentiation at all; many of the best books and films are very difficult to place into any one understood 'genre.' The one way in which 'genres' are useful is to help the audience find stories to their tastes, and the fact of the matter is, all 'Speculative Fiction' would still fall under the 'Science Fiction' or 'Fantasy' genres for this purpose. Adding an additional, artificial genre where no actual categorical differences exist would merely create confusion... but that doesn't matter, as the public will never adopt 'speculative fiction' anyway. Already, the silly term has made me spend far more time and effort than is worth it just for this rant. I'll get back to my plan... elevating the genre I love instead of abandoning it.

    Or I might just fall asleep. I have a feeling half of this was incoherent from fatigue... but oh well. That's one rant I feel a little better about.
    Posted in: "Speculative Fiction"
  • published the article [MTGS Classics] For What It's Worth: Valuing New Cards
    As you finish up your Magic-related Christmas shopping, VestDan provides some advice on applying a few criteria to determine how much a card is really worth. (This article was originally published on March 6, 2006.)
    Posted in: [MTGS Classics] For What It's Worth: Valuing New Cards
  • published the article Remember the Weatherlight, Part V(c): Imperfect Parts
    The end of the Weatherlight Saga, so what do Wizards do? Put Continuity, Story Flow, Basic Logic, Reason and Common Sense on indefinite sick leave. The Conclusion of the Conclusion of VestDan's epic series, right here!
    Posted in: Remember the Weatherlight, Part V(c): Imperfect Parts