This article, along with the following week's article celebrating snakes ("Yay Snakes!"), was the most fun I had writing Serious Fun back-to-back in months. Readers seemed to love this, which felt good. Gottlieb admitted I got him dead on with the "exhaustion" remark. None of the other authors have been exactly effusive in their praise of my last list; but they just can't admit how amazingly clever and funny I am. It's a common affliction among people who know me.
You know what's really cool? Doing author's comments before author's comments. That's right, as soon as I'm done here...you get more author's comments that I wrote with the original article! Woo-hoo! Who wouldn't want to read comments I wrote, before comments I wrote, before a whole article I wrote? Merry Christmas, indeed!
This article originally appeared on October 26th, 2004.
uthor's note: Normally here at magicthegathering.com, we authors manage to stay on weekly themes without bumping into each other. However, I found out after submitting this column that...well, there's no easy way to say this. I found out that Mark Rosewater got an advance copy of my column and stole my idea.
Okay, he didn't steal my idea, but let's be frank: he could have done a better job, just like he should have on Opalescence. *Sigh* Listen. Everyone around Mark has been been waiting for this sort of disaster to happen for some time. In fact, when Aaron Forsythe first took the editor's job, he put his arm around my shoulders and said, "Don't tell him I told you this, but we need someone to clean up after Rosewater. The guy insists on a weekly column, but he's already spouting out weird ideas like "reader mail" and one-paragraph columns that burst out into 50 different links. Here's our plan - we put Mark on Monday, insert you as an immediate Tuesday antidote, and with luck, the aftertaste is out of everyone's mouth by Thursday, Friday tops."
So here's the deal. If you're like most Tuesday readers, you're looking forward to reading this theme idea done right. Glad to help...just read on.
And if you're one of the three members of the Mark Rosewater Glee Club, well then, the link back to your hero is right here, buddy. Don't let the mouse button hit your rear on the way out. - AA
This week poses an unusual dilemma for Serious Fun. The most obvious list for me to generate here in Top Ten week is best cards for alternative formats, and my specialty is multiplayer. But of course, I can’t do that on the heels of coming out of three weeks’ worth of Hall of Fame cards. (Quick refresher: Pernicious Deed; Verdant Force; Cowardice; Confusion in the Ranks; Last Laugh; Radiate; Questing Phelddagrif; Rith, the Awakener; Endless Whispers; and Bloodfire Colossus.)
So I’ve got to go a different way. Here’s my path: take ten of my favorite top ten lists, and let ‘er rip…
TOP TEN LIST #10: TOP TEN REASONS WHY YOU SHOULDN’T TRY TO PUT ALL TEN OF MY TOP TEN MULTIPLAYER CARDS IN THE SAME DECK
10) Decks with Questing Phelddagrif require Coat of Arms, and you don't have the mana base for that.
9) Your saproling tokens from Verdant Force won’t be able to steal back your Verdant Force using Confusion in the Ranks if, um, someone already took Verdant Force using Confusion in the Ranks. See also: Rith, the Awakener.
8) I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: four copies of each card when possible, and at least 24 lands in your 60 card deck. The two rules are impossible to follow at once with ten cards (10 x 4 = 40; 60 – 40 = room for only 20 lands). Hacks!
7) Radiate with Cowardice resembles Evacuation too darn often.
6) Anything with Cowardice resembles Evacuation too darn often.
5) Rith, the Awakener is just the right size to go down to Bloodfire Colossus. See also: Rith’s saproling tokens, Verdant Force’s saproling tokens, Verdant Force if you have Last Laugh out, Questing Phelddagrif if you’re a life-hog, and any other copies of Bloodfire Colossus you’ve managed to get out, you incorrigible show-off.
4) Last Laugh requires too high a mana commitment to black to include Pernicious Deed.
3) When you Radiate a good spell, it will hurt all of those cool hippo tokens you generated with Questing Phelddagrif.
2) Not possible to squeeze in all of the really cool white cards that didn't make Top Ten Hall of Fame but would still fit beautifully in a deck like this.
1) Endless Whispers and Confusion in the Ranks together really ought to be enough to get all of your opponents up and away from the table.
TOP TEN LIST #9: TOP TEN GOALS FOR THE REMAINDER OF THIS COLUMN
10) Lose the respect of my readers, and then win them back tenfold after entering the local battle of the bands, standing up to the bully lead singer of my chief competition, and believing in myself!
9) Use the latest techniques in interactive computer education to stimulate readers’ interest and to enhance long term retention of facts regarding the Earth, the solar system, and my in-laws’ home on Alpha Centauri.
8) Celebrate the New England Patriots’ 21st consecutive win, baby! (Note: written before the game with the Jets. Not responsible for any damage, loss of life, or embarrassment caused by any adverse events during that game.)
7) Determine whether a deck with Peer through Depths, Reach through Mists, and Sift through Sands can become even better without The Unspeakable.
6) Use the word “cream-filled” in a non-gratuitous, intellectually honest way.
5) Make readers cry. (Check.) Make readers laugh. (Pending.) Make readers sigh with longing, stare out the weathered window-pane at an appropriately picturesque rural setting, and ponder the incalculable breathlessness of life. (Hmmm.)
4) Pay appropriate homage to Jon Stewart, the Smartest Funny Man in AmericaTM.
3) Get every single one of our play group members to read this, so they can see just how much amazing strategy and insight on Magic they’re missing on a weekly basis.
2) Engage in a whirlwind romance with Rebecca Romijn in a manner that neither angers my God nor my wife (not necessarily in that order).
1) Keep my mind off the fact that Election Day is next week, I’ve visited hundreds of households, and I still have hundreds of doors yet to knock on. (I’ll count myself lucky if I get this article in on time!)
TOP TEN LIST #8: TOP TEN WORDS THAT HAVEN’T YET BEEN PUT IN MAGIC CARD TITLES BUT REALLY SHOULD BE
Yes, his real wife is laughing, too.
6) Fire (just kidding!)
4) Musk (Alaborn Musketeer doesn’t count)
TOP TEN LIST #8: TOP TEN REASONS SOME READERS DON'T LIKE COLUMNS THAT DON'T FOCUS COMPLETELY ON MAGIC
10) Well, um, isn’t it a web site that’s supposed to focus on Magic?
9) Cannot win the Pro Tour Qualifier from the confines of our parents’ basement without a constant stream of useful Standard tournament information.
8) Rosewater does enough of that ridiculousness – Alongi pulling this only encourages him.
7) Voices in our head only get louder when we cannot distract them with images of Auriok Champion and Earthbind.
6) We’re not all like Mark Gottlieb and his fancy-schmancy joint majors – some of us like to focus on one thing at a time, and Magic is more appealing than our current courses in 15th Century French History.
5) We keep hoping that if Alongi keeps practicing, he will eventually get good at writing about Magic – and all of these other topics only delay an already unlikely event.
4) Discussion board members get cranky when they can’t begin article-reaction posts with “I can’t believe he forgot the best combo of all…”
3) For once, have homework assignment due tomorrow on Magic theory, sparking frantic web search for relevant and timely material – thanks for nothing, buster!
2) Drinking game success depends on Alongi mentioning “multiplayer” multiple times throughout article.
1) The four hours of sleep we manage every night is hard enough to get through without Magic – why torture ourselves for another 5-10 minutes?
TOP TEN LIST #6: TOP TEN MOVIES THAT CAN INSPIRE FLAVOR-BASED DECK FRAGMENTS EASILY ENOUGH FOR ME TO INCLUDE THEM IN THIS COLUMN
10) Lilo & Stitch (Island, Swamp Mosquito, Abomination)
9) Gone with the Wind (False Mourning, Pillage, Field of Dreams)
8) Shaun of the Dead (Contagion, Hidden Retreat, Watchdog that can’t look up)
7) Psycho (Shower of Sparks, Endless Scream, Lashkife)
6) The Day After Tomorrow (Tidal Wave, Tornado Elemental, Brain Freeze)
5) Casablanca (Trickery Charm, Fight or Flight, Unlikely Alliance)
4) Yellow Submarine (Living Airship, Zur’s Weirding, Morphling or other “blue meanie” of choice)
3) Spiderman 2 (Spider Climb, Giant Octopus, Stand or Fall)
2) Memento (Reverse Damage, Forget, False Prophet)
1) Y tu mamá también (Mother of Runes, Youthful Knight, Brothers of Fire – all Spanish versions)
TOP TEN LIST #5: TOP TEN POLLS I WISH THIS SITE WOULD DO (NOTE: THIS LIST IS NOT ITSELF A POLL)
10) Which card do you find most jaculiferous: Brushwagg, Serrated Biskelion, or Thrashing Mudspawn?
9) Which two members of the R&D team would you like to see stop fighting and just get married already?
8) Which of the following Homelands bombs would you like to see reprinted: Anaba Ancestor, Irini Sengir, or Shrink?
7) (Open answer.) Describe, in 500 words or more, why you think you could do a better job than Wizards at designing or developing Magic cards.
6) Be honest: do I look fat in this dress?
5) With a Humility, Opalescence, Parallax Wave, Kismet, and Worship in play, which of the following board-sweepers will give you the most satisfaction?
4) Which one of the following answers are you least likely to select?
3) Which variety of cream-filled donut do you enjoy the most?
2) A train leaves Carson City at 4:20 pm. It travels east at 60 miles per hour and carries 4,000,000 pounds of Magic commons. Another train leaves Denver at 4:32 pm. It travels west at 65 miles per hour and carries 3,000,000 gallons of Mountain Dew. Why hasn’t America converted to the metric system? Do we want our confusing English-based measurement system to be responsible for these two trains hitting each other? What kind of monster are you, punk? Huh? HUH?!
1) What would you like next week’s poll to be about?
TOP TEN LIST #4: TOP TEN THINGS READERS CAN DO WITH THIS COLUMN, WHEN PRINTED OUT CORRECTLY
C'mon. You know you can do better.
10) Use the last letter of every line to spell out the secret reason why Wizards won't ever reprint your favorite obnoxiously broken card from Alpha or Urza's Saga.
9) Make razor-sharp creases to make the most aerodynamic fleet of paper airplanes ever.
8) Second-guess Scott's editorial and graphics work by pasting pictures of other cards you feel he should have highlighted next to portions of my text.
7) Compare to a “non-print-friendly” version that only shows the top half of my picture and the first three words of the column.
6) Color in pages with a really good brown crayon, snip and paste where appropriate, and attempt to pass off as really good Magic card proxies. (Optional: add foil.)
WE INTERRUPT THIS TOP TEN LIST TO BRING YOU A SPECIAL EDITION TOP FIVE LIST: TOP FIVE THINGS YOU CAN DO WITH THIS COLUMN, WHEN PRINTED OUT CORRECTLY
5) Scan electronically, randomly mix up font types and sizes, print out all over again, and then cut out letters and rearrange them to make rather cool-looking ransom letter. (Note: it is both illegal and rather impolite to combine this activity with actual kidnapping.)
4) Make paper-mache R2-D2 for Halloween. (My mom actually did this for me once! Just last year, in fact.)
3) Well, you could read it. I spent enough time writing it, you ingrates!
2) Arrange the pages to find the clues to the location of next Rembaldi artifact. (Televised double-agents only.)
1) Fold over the top halves of all the pages to view special collectible, limited series, “top five” editions of all the lists!
TOP TEN LIST #3: TOP TEN THINGS THAT JUST MISSED THE TOP TEN LISTS SO FAR (YOU HAVE TO GUESS WHAT TOP TEN LIST(S) THEY BELONG TO...)
9) That idea over there doesn't go with that idea over here.
8) Blow a few people's minds by suggesting some of the items here might actually not have made this Top Ten list, and thereby qualify to make the list.
7) Why do you think that particular Top Ten topic was a bad idea?
6) Simulate a cream-filled donut by wrapping the pages around a tasty sugary-dairy center.
5) Ponder on what an eellogofusciouhipoppokunurious job I'm doing here. (Go on, Moldenhauer-Salazar! Put it in a card title! Or even flavor text! You don't have the guts!)
4) Blow a few more people's minds by pointing out that if #8 is true, then it logically follows there are items originally on this list you'll never know about, because they were too good to belong on a Top Ten list.
3) Obambulate (but only metaphorically speaking).
2) Which two cards go together least well?
1) Really, positively blow everyone else's mind by pointing out that #5 and #8, even if true, are just illusory constructs of an elaborate environmental matrix that has trapped our minds while we lie helplessly in liquid tanks, feeding our robotic adversaries with our own internal electric impulses. (Mycosynth Lattice, Power Matrix, Slow Motion.)
TOP TEN LIST #2: TOP TEN MOMENTS SO FAR IN THIS ARTICLE
10 through 1): That timeless, unforgettable evening with Rebecca Romijn.
Okay, for the number one Top Ten list, I have to get back into Serious Fun alternate-format form…Wow, I’m going to regret doing this…
TOP TEN LIST #1: TOP TEN ALTERNATE FORMATS DESIGNED AFTER FELLOW MAGICTHEGATHERING.COM WEEKLY COLUMN WRITERS
10) The Scott Wills “Choice” Format: Put the nine other formats that follow into three neatly arranged rows. Poll your play group on which format would be the best format to pick at this particular time. Compare their responses to a panel of experts. Use this information to select your format. Get shelled on the message boards.
9) The Adrian Sullivan “Relentless” Format: Pick a card. No, wait, pick another one. Nah, that one’s too good. Um, what card do you all want to pick? Okay, that one. Each player builds a deck around that card. The winner of the game goes to a Pro Tour Qualifier with that deck and gets the stuffing knocked out of them. (No, no, no, I didn’t mean to be that cruel! Adrian’s a far better player than I am, really. And his deck design rocks. But come on – the guy’s from Wisconsin. I have a duty here.)
8) The Jay Moldenhauer-Salazar “Title” Format: Among all players, write down all last names. Take the two longest, most-difficult-to-spell last names and hyphenate them. Build a Magic Online deck that uses the first letter of each card title to spell out that newly hyphenated last name. Make sure to include Stone Rain if you have an “S”, and play it in those 1-1-1 Emperor formats just to tick them all off.
BONUS FORMAT: Use “funny” alternate spellings of your newly hyphenated name. For example, Moldenhauer-Salazar can become Mall-Down-Under-Sells-A-Car, Mold-Can’t-Have-a-Salad-Bar, and/or Peanut-Brittle-Is-Nowhere-In-This-Name.
7) The Brian David-Marshall “Tourney-Shark” format: See Jay’s format, but pick the two shortest and easiest last names. You can get more copies of certain cards in, can’t you? See? This is why tournament decks are better than casual decks.
6) The Nate Heiss “Budget” Format: Take ten dollars. Divide that by ten. Subtract three-quarters of it. Take the square root and divide by ten again. Split the remainder among your group evenly, and have each player use their share to build a deck. “Add money” to the format by letting everyone build a deck with an actual, honest-to-goodness chance of winning.
5) The John Carter “Helpful” Format: Let people ask you questions about a format. Explain the format to them. Provide an *Extra* format for those seeking additional format knowledge.
4) The Mark Gottlieb “Entrails” Format: Just go off the deep end. I mean seriously loony, like Daffy the Duck on Jolt cola spiked with coffee grounds laced with crack. Pass out from the exhaustion inherent in being who you are. When you wake up, look down in the basement. The neatly arranged limbs and internal organs will spell out your new format.
3) The Mark Rosewater “Elegant” Format: Build a 10-card deck. For each card, you must click on a link to find out what five other cards are behind it. After you are done clicking on each card and then hitting your back button so you can click on the next card, you will have seen the entire deck and be able to play it. Sort of. Not really all at once, though. Anyway, it was creative, and that’s what you’re paid to do – be creative! – so anyone who doesn’t like this format can go fly a very elegant kite. The player with the best kite wins.
2) The Aaron Forsythe “Marry Up” Format: Make a new format. (Give it a rockin’ name like Athena.) Explain your format patiently to your play group. When they use your explanation as evidence of a conspiracy to ruin their favorite format, go to plan B and get the wife to write her own column and slap some sense into these ingrates.
1) The Mike Flores “Discovery” Format: Discover a questionable writing talent who just barely skims by on a Pouncing Jaguar joke. Nurture him for pity’s sake. Smile like a proud papa when he makes more money than he has a right to writing about a game he loves; and disown him immediately when he pays horrifically awkward homage to nine other high-profile Magic writers. Play progresses in descending order of who can use the most inside jokes and name drops. Ting a mise.
Be glad I spared you all a “top ten sign-off” section. See you all next week!
Anthony cannot provide deck help, for the ten following one-word reasons (in no particular order): outrage, inattention, fatigue, helplessness, salmonella, fear, wayzgoose, fleas, cacaesthesia, and ennui.