So in case you haven’t already noticed, today is the preamble to one of the most exciting new eras in the history of magictheGathering.com. Once Monday rolls around, readers will have the opportunity to enjoy a heretofore unseen level of support and information via our new Premium service, which will offer these unparalleled services for Magic players who want the best information possible.
Those of you unwilling to meet the not-so-humble requirements for membership will still be able to enjoy the site you have come to know and love each day -- you just won’t be able to enjoy it as much as your more spendthrifty counterparts. There will be an extra level of insight that won’t be available to the everyday readers, although non-Premium members will still get the nuts and bolts they need to keep up with all the Magical happenings.
The site will be bringing in a number of the game’s experts to provide their unique insight and favorite recipes into very specific aspects of the game for the edification of premium members looking to improve very specific parts of their game and open their wallets. I am excited to provide you portions of upcoming "How To" articles that Premium readers -- let’s call ‘em preemies from here on, OK? -- can look forward to.
- How to win a Ratings Invite, by Billy Gilmore
Billy is a teenage Magic player from the New York suburbs. His parents own a Magic store and he is coming off a staggering 83-match win streak in Standard. His streak would actually have run well over 100 games except for a couple of losses at area PTQs in the opening rounds. Despite a rather small player base at his parent’s shop, Billy managed to string together his impressive win total beating the same four players over and over again in the store’s twice-daily sanctioned tournaments. Billy will share his secrets so you too can win an invite to an upcoming PTQ!
- How to Win Friends and Influence Multiplayer, by Dan Rampion
Dan is an avid player of group games and bounces from play group to play group. He will illustrate the proper tone to chastise players who use Counterspells -- or better yet, who Stone Rain your quintuple-enchanted Island (which happens to be the only Island in your deck). He will also share his fun decklist which contains a Capsize lock that allows you to bounce every permanent of every player in the game. Also look for a handy set of guidelines should you need to find a new group to play with every few weeks.
- How to Become a Beloved Forum Denizen, by Mort Mudlabial
Mort is a regular contributor to many of Magic’s most popular forum communities and he will share the hard-earned trade secrets that have made him such an indelible internet fixture. Many players spend way too much time reading an article or thread before posting a thoughtful and insightful reply. By using Mort’s patented quick-skim technique, you can almost get the gist of any article or thread you intend to comment on. By spending less time reading you can spend more time sharing your opinions and your endearing personality with the world.
Is Kai a strawberries-and-whipped-cream guy?
As for my weekly column, things will proceed pretty much as normal with stories and interviews about the players and personalities who make up the Professional Magic community, but going forward I will dig just a little deeper for the Preemies. And it's not just the Premium readers who will benefit -- Preemie Pros will get wall-to-wall, 24-hour-a-day coverage. Want to know what Kai puts on his pancakes? Is Zvi a boxers or briefs guy? We'll take you there, provided their checks clear. The trick will be maintaining a balance between the free side and the premium side so that penny-pinching readers who are not committed to buying Mark Rosewater a new Hummer . . . I mean, committed to enjoying all the new perks and bonuses that come with your new membership . . . can still enjoy the site.
The important thing to remember for readers who do not opt for Premium is that you will still be getting the basic information you need. Think of it as a basic cable package -- you will still get ESPN, CNN, and MTV but you won’t get the premium channels like TurkishStarz or Hallmark Channel OnDemand.
This week’s news is dominated by the Magic Invitational. The 16 players have been selected through a variety of ballots, electorates, and categories. I was very happy to learn that Antoine Ruel and Tim Aten were the victors on the final fan ballot. The R&D pick was used to select MTGO poster child Terry Soh.
With their invites secured, the players need to get down to the business of designing their Invitational cards. Each players has to submit a design for a card that will become a part of a future expansion should they win the event. Another card will also be selected from the 16 designs by the readers of this site to become an actual card -- the “Plus One” to the winner’s design, if you will.
Freshly elected Fan Favorite Tim Aten already showed off three potential designs in a public plea for votes during his "get out the vote" campaign. His offerings ranged from thought-provoking to downright broken and were the first act in my favorite aspect of the Invitational -- the parade of card designs.
Players take different approaches to card design. Some, like last year’s winner Bob Maher, elect to submit a placeholder design and round it out later while others choose to turn to the electorate for assistance. This was the preferred method each year for David Price, who would put out a request for designs to the public and then take the one he liked the best. In 2001, he actually took a card I designed to the Invitational but sadly did not win and my design for an unusual goblin did not see the inside of a booster pack.
Jeroen Remie narrowly edged out Aten in the Writer’s Ballot and is taking a truly unusual and heart-warming approach to the design of his card. Anyone who has ever fantasized about playing the game at the highest level would certainly appreciate Jeroen's approach, and certainly his actions demonstrate that Jeroen embodies all the characteristics you hope to find in an Invitationalist: Passion, loyalty, humor, and a long-standing love and respect for the game about which you are willing to reach deep into your pocketbooks to learn more, Premium information. Jeroen is also at the epicenter of a huge new team that has formed to storm the Block Constructed format for Pro Tour-Philadelphia.
“Tournament Magic has always been about recognition first, money second,” explained Remie. “Ever since I played my first PTQ I wanted to be good at this game, and for people to see me as good. I wanted to be part of the game’s history. Playing in my first PT was a great step, then getting on the Gravy Train, winning a PT and now being part of the closest thing this game has to an All-Star game -- you could say this was always the ultimate goal, being part of the best 16 players in the world.”
Long before Jeroen became a popular fixture at Professional Magic Tournaments, he was a fixture at his local card game shop in the Netherlands where he would play the game with his close friends.
Remie has a long-standing plan for his Invitational card.
“Back in the day after -- I think -- Avalanche Riders came out, me and my friends were just hanging around the store talking about how awesome it would be to just be able to create your own card," Jeroen reminisced. "We then started thinking about what it would be, what it would do, all that jazz. We basically swore -- tongue in cheek -- that whomever of us would ever play the Invitational, would have to hand in THAT card. This was before any of us ever played our first tourney, and my best deck had a bunch of Sengirs and Serras at that point, so it was really a ‘Yeaaaah, never gonna happen’ thing. Who knew?”
Jeroen is the only member of that group who still actively plays the game, although they all still follow his progress and root for their former Sengir-wrangler. Mark Brouwers, Mark Ligtvoet, Jan Stoop, Ramon Kool, and Marcel van Amstel plan to get together with Jeroen to iron out the card.
“The card was called the Viashivan Hellsprite,” Remie elaborated. “It was supposed to combine something cute and something awesome at the same time. What it did exactly I do not recall, but I do know its traits. It was to be an expensive flyer, something like 1/1 for 4, but its abilities were supposed to be awesome -- Masticore ability, searching out other sprites, etc., etc. A meeting has been set to finalize the card with my friends!”
Jeroen actually has more than a few meetings scheduled in the coming weeks. He is part of a massive meeting of the Magic minds to break the Block Constructed format for the upcoming Pro Tour. Jeroen -- who has been called an honorary American -- is part of a super squad that originally began when the prominent Dutch players joined forces with the New Jersey-based TOGIT team.
“Our motto? Let’s beat the Japanese!” was what Jeroen offered by way of explanation for the formation of the team. “It's basically TOGIT and the Dutch but grew out to be bigger than that. Right now it seems to be the continent of qualified North America and the Dutch with people like the TOGIT Crew, Jelger Wiegersma, Kamiel Cornelissen, Frank Karsten, Ruud Warmenhoven, Jeff Cunningham, Murray the Mauler, Rich Hoaen, Raphael Levy, Adam Chambers, Andrew Pacifico, Lucas Glavin, the Wolfman…the list goes on and on.
You could start with a worse base for a Magic think tank.
“TOGIT asked us to test with them since we are basically testing with them for all the other events anyway. So basically the Dutch joined TOGIT. Then we kept having buddies wanting to join, and this never stopped, since the more people you have, the less chance there is that you will miss something.”
Despite joining the Jersey based team, that is not where well-traveled Remie will be playtesting. One of the players also on the list is Gabe Walls. Jeroen will be returning to his favorite diner in Indiana in the coming weeks for a big plate of the usual and a brief side trip to Grand Prix-Detroit. Despite a heavy schedule of high-powered tournament action on the coming weeks, Remie still had the Invitational very much on his mind. The Magic Pro he was most looking forward to an All-Star Game clash with might surprise you.
“Julien Nuijten. Him and me have battled in the finals of the Dutch Nationals this year and have since developed a healthy rivalry where we have this li'l love/hate thing going on. That battle should be epic to say the least…”
There is no reason to fear progress.
Before I go, I want to share a decklist from an old The Week That Was that might have some value in the upcoming Standard format. It is a deck that a prominent Pro played in the Block Portion of a major tournament, and now that Affinity is dead it could be something to keep in mind as Regionals approach. BLOODBATH
Gabriel Nassif - Block Portion Worlds 2004
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