Q: "For the week of August 15, it seemed as though the theme common to all the cards on Card of the Day was the word 'Gift' in their name. However, Friday's card was 'Presence of the Master' and I cannot, for the life of me, see how it is relevant to the rest of the cards that week. What's the connection?"
A: From Scott Johns, magicthegathering.com Content Manager:
"First off, for those that aren't aware, when I put together the Cards of the Day I often do them in five-card cycles so that each card shown that week has some common thread with the other four. I've never been sure how many people actually play the game of trying to find the connection, but it's an amusing thing to put together and helps Mark Rosewater and me narrow the enormous field of Magic cards down to something manageable each week.
"How those cards connect varies pretty wildly (though card name is often a good place to start), and while some tend to be trivially easy once you know to look for them (such as how Arcane Week only features Arcane spells), others can be a lot more challenging. (A good place to start, however, is always to check if there was a theme week on the site at the time, or if we were previewing a new set.)
"One thing I should point out, however, is that not all weeks have a theme across the Cards of the Day. Sometimes I'm out covering a Pro Tour, on vacation, sick, or who knows what else. Sometimes that means a theme gets interrupted, or not done at all depending on circumstances. For example, last week was Equipment Week, but I was out early in the week, which is why Scathe Zombies seems so out of place when compared to the other four cards I used for Equipment Week. Also, for 2005 I was out for quite a bit of time around the birth of my daughter. So, while 2005 is a bit hit and miss for these, those who have fun with this kind of thing will probably be able to find many as they work their way through 2004. (Anything before 2004 and you're before when I got hired at Wizards…)
"So, enough background, how about I actually answer your question? The answer is that this week revolves around 'gifts' just as you guessed. (That was National Thanks For All The Gifts Week, which I couldn't pass up mirroring in Card of the Day.) The part you missed was that Presence of the Master was included Friday because of the pun with 'presents'. (You can thank Managing Producer Monty Ashley for all the groaning you're hearing, as he came up with Presence of the Master as soon as I mentioned the 'gifts' theme.)
"So, what are some of the others we've done? Here are a few weeks to get you started.
July 25 (Core Set Week)
June 27 (Beatdown Week)
Tuesday, May 31 (Monday was an off day for Memorial Day)
May 16 (during Saviors of Kamigawa previews)
May 9 (the other week of Saviors previews)
January 10 (Betrayers of Kamigawa previews)
December 6 (This one revolves around a common number. The embarrassing thing is that I can't remember why that number was relevant at the time for the site! If anyone figures it out please post to the message boards!)
November 23 (The week leading in to Thanksgiving)
November 15 (One of my (silly) favorites, this was during Unhinged previews)
November 8 (also Unhinged previews)
November 1 (Monty Ashley did this one while I was away. It's tough but also pretty cool.)
October 4 (a fun one)
"Once you get past there you start getting into the period where I was doing the Card of the Day cycles a lot more often, so for those so-inclined I'll leave the rest of the finding to you.
"If you think these are fun please take a moment to let me know in the message boards. I've been letting them slip a bit lately but I'm more than willing to start them back up if people are interested.