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Ask the Pros - September, 2003


 September 24, 2003  

Question: Do you still buy cards at the local gaming store? If not, how do you obtain the cards for your Constructed decks?


Dave Humpherys: No, I used to have a sizable collection of current cards but I borrow most of the cards I need from one of the three card store owners on the YMG team (Rob Dougherty, Alex Shvartsman and Ed Fear).

Kai Budde: I call Holger or Sascha, friends in Hamburg, borrow their stuff, then destroy the cards while shuffling the deck in tourney, give them back and buy them a beer (well, sometimes).

Jeroen Remie: I buy them from the local "sponsor"

Paul Sottosanti: Begging on the street corner outside of the local gaming store.

Nate Heiss: Mostly, I just rummage around Mike Turian's floor until I find what I need. Shhhh... don’t tell him!

Gab Tsang: I practice online mostly and get all my cards from

Ken Krouner: Right now I borrow all my cards for Constructed. I am considering collecting again when Mirrodin comes out, as I am not as strapped for cash as I used to be.

Gary Wise: I've always received some product from Wizards for my writing that fills out most of my collection needs, and when that's not enough, I'll borrow from friends or teammates. When THAT's not enough, I'll borrow cards from Gaming Jim, who always has the cards I need, thankfully. Jimmy, I still owe you an Upheaval from Worlds!

Patrick Mello: Our local gaming store doesn't sell single cards (or doesn't have an up-to-date assortment). I try to get a good number of my cards through drafting and occasionally I buy some singles on or borrow them from friend. Once in a while, though, there's no way out and I have to buy cards at the tournament site.

Victor van den Broek: No I don't buy cards at the store anymore. A friend of mine is a dealer (who also sponsors my team, and I get my cards from there, or I borrow them from friends.

Osyp Lebedowicz: I am sponsored by The Only Game in Town and acquire most of cards from them. Josh Ravitz and Paul Jordan also have very extensive collections.

 September 22, 2003  

Question: Suppose there was an instant for one white mana that gave its controller life. How much life would it need to give to make it a worthwhile card?


Brian Kibler: Such a card can only be evaluated within the context of its environment. In a control-heavy format, life gain is terrible, so the number would have to be huge - despite what some people would have you believe, Life Burst decks were never good against Psychatog. In a beatdown-heavy environment featuring a lot of burn, the requirement would be much lower. Limited is similar - in a Limited format that involves a lot of racing rather than board control and removal effects, the number is lower, and vice versa.

Dave Humpherys: It would have to be a lot to ever make the main deck. Maybe 5 or so to be worth boarding, but much more to main deck unless in combination with some cards that take advantage of life loss.

Kai Budde: 6 life would be Constructed-worthy, I think, maybe even 5. It still wouldn't be main deck material though. I played Heroes’ Reunion which nets you 7 life for 2 mana in Block Constructed once... In Limited, it has to be a LOT life to be better than just an off-color morph, probably something like 10 or even more.

Jeroen Remie: There has been a card that gave 7 life for 2 mana, and that was never really played. So, it would probably have to be something around 10 to make it good enough for Constructed. I think about the same for Limited, maybe 12 though. Life gain is terrible in Limited.

Patrick Mello: A general rule of thumb is that pure life gain just doesn't cut it. Beyond a certain point, it's tough to ignore though and life gain becomes playable, see Gerrard's Wisdom or Ancestral Tribute. For Constructed, 5 life could be good enough, in certain decks/sideboards that have a way to fetch the instant. In Limited, 7 life would make the card interesting to win a damage race or survive the early game. I'd rather run another creature though to be honest.

Jeff Cunningham: 9 for both.

Nate Heiss: 8 life. This is a more interesting question now that everyone seems to be playing with Renewed Faith and casting it instead of cycling it. Still, without the option to cycle, I think 8 life would be enough to buy you at least one more turn. It is card disadvantage, but it gives quite an edge on tempo at only White Mana!

Oyvind Odegaard: In Constructed, at least 5, in Limited even more. This could at least make it sideboard material.

Gab Tsang: It would probably have to be like 5-6. Gaining life really isn’t all that important most of the time but it would seriously have to vary from environment to environment depending on how aggressive or passive it is.

Ken Krouner: I don't think that type of life gain could ever see main deck play in Constructed except in a heavily skewed metagame. To see sideboard play, I would say you would need to gain at least 7 life. As for Limited, I would also say 7. Heroes' Reunion rarely saw play and it was Green ManaWhite Mana.

Gary Wise: Well, Healing Salve is more versatile than that and yet has never been viable in Constructed. Maybe six or seven life could make for a viable sideboard card in a deck that just needs to establish itself to beat red. In Limited, it would have to be even more, as you're talking about playing against non-specific deck types.

Victor van den Broek: I think 10 life for both formats.

 September 19, 2003  

Question: How many hours a week do you play Magic?


Paul Sottosanti: Anywhere from 2 to 20, depending on if there's a tournament that weekend and if we're testing for an upcoming format.

Brian Kibler: Since Magic Online 2.0 came out - not nearly as much. I miss my sweet, sweet obsession...

Patrick Mello: I played a whole lot in preparation for Worlds, but if there's no immediate tournament coming up I don't play more than our weekly draft in Hamburg and a bunch of Magic Online events.

Dave Humpherys: Far too many, if I'm near a computer...

Kai Budde: I'd guess about 15-20.

Jeroen Remie: I play for about ten hours, but talking about it, thinking about it, making decks and everything obviously takes up a lot of my time too.

Nate Heiss: About -1 girlfriend’s worth. Actually not that much, as you can easily tell from my performances.

Gab Tsang: When I’m having fun, it can be insane amounts, I have no problem running the 70-hour week when I’m doing what I love with people that I want to be with and those weeks do occur when I game. However, I would say it is typically like 15-20 hours a week now.

Gary Wise: Not as many as I should of late.

Victor van den Broek: About 15, counting Magic Online and events.

Jeff Cunningham: These days, 3 or 4.

 September 17, 2003  

Question: Do you feel that the punishments the DCI has been giving to stop cheating have been fair?


Brian Kibler: To quote Pirates of the Caribbean, I think cheaters deserve “a short drop and a sudden stop”.

Kai Budde: To some extent, they are doing a great job. The only issue I have is slow play right now. If X plays against Y and Y plays really slow, that means that Y uses up a lot more of the round time then X, which just can't be correct. Chess clocks like on Magic Online are no solution though; they wouldn't work in real life. Really, really good judges who actually know enough about tournament level play that they realize when someone is just thinking because he is in a complex situation and when someone is just playing unnecessarily slow would be great, but unfortunately there aren't many of that kind right now.

Jeroen Remie: It all depends on the cases individually. There have been some harsh ones, but most are fair.

Patrick Mello: They're doing a better job these days. The worst example is Mike Long who got away with far too much and never received a proper punishment in his time. During the last couple of years, the DCI has cleaned up significantly by suspending a number of players with a long history of infractions.

Jeff Cunningham: All around pretty fair. My experience with cheaters is pretty limited. I try to play tight - no funny business.

Nate Heiss: Just right. Good job guys!

Gab Tsang: Probably too lenient, I’m thinking 5 years should be the basic penalty for cheating; the old one year slap on the wrists seem a bit tame.

Ken Krouner: Generally I like it. I initially thought that banning Trey Van Cleave from a photo was wrong, but I later found out he admitted to looking and didn't think it was wrong.

Paul Sottosanti: For a long time they were too lenient, but recently they've been cracking down and the penalties have been large enough that they might actually act as a deterrent. The only thing that I wish they would change now is the fact that they conduct their investigations behind closed doors, leaving the players completely in the dark.

Gary Wise: Too lenient. I think the suspension durations are acceptable, but I also think that a player should not be eligible to qualify for Pro Tours based on rating for a year after their suspension ends, should lose all pro points for the current season and receive on punch in the face from each and every honest member of the DCI.

Victor van den Broek: I feel that they've been on track lately.

Eric Taylor: I think the DCI in general does a great job. You have to travel the middle road, don't be too strict or rules lawyering will predominate, and don't be too lax or you'll have excessive cheating.

Osyp Lebedowicz: I feel it has been too lenient. All cheaters should be required to come back into the game with a 1000 composite rating and -20 pro points.

 September 15, 2003  

Question: If you could change one thing in Magic, what would you change?


Brian Kibler: I think there need to be more groupies. Sports stars get girls hanging all over them and I get 15-year-old boys IM-ing me for deck help. Somehow I feel like they get the better deal...

Dave Humpherys: Increased round times.

Nate Heiss: Starting and maximum hand size. I would increase it to 10 in order to reduce the amount of luck in the game.

Gab Tsang: I would try to have more Pro Tours, especially team events.

Paul Sottosanti: I would make more playable cards in advanced level sets. Not necessarily strong cards, just playable. I would aim for everyone having 27-30 playable cards after a draft so that the deck-building process is more than just adding the playables and submitting. You would have to make cuts based on synergy, mana curve, color requirements, creature/spell ratio, and any number of other requirements that usually only come up when you've had a really strong draft.

Oyvind Odegaard: I would like to see more frequent card bannings to make the playing environment better. Right now, I'd ban Eternal Dragon in Block Constructed and Goblin Lackey (just banned), Vampiric Tutor and Mind’s Desire in Extended.

Patrick Mello: The first thing that I had in mind was eliminating mana problems somehow. That's tough to pull off though without hurting the core elements of the game too much. So I'd go for something else: get rid of white-bordered cards! 8th Edition would've been the perfect time to change that together with the new layout. The old logic of limited/unlimited cards did never make much sense anyway.

Victor van den Broek: I'd have judges shuffle decks and have Magic Online-style time clocks. Unfortunately, neither are feasible for the PT.

 September 3, 2003  

Question: What is the coolest card that you have made up?


Ken Krouner: This is card I want to submit if I ever get invited to the Invitational:

Goblin Karter
Red Mana
Creature – Goblin
At the end of the turn, return Goblin Karter to owner's hand.
For each 1 damage dealt to Goblin Karter, Goblin Karter deals 2 damage to its controller.
Flavor Text: "Yo dude, Kart?"

Gab Tsang:

Dark Knight
Black ManaBlack Mana
Creature - Knight
When Dark Knight comes into play, search your library for a card and put it into your hand. Your opponent names a card; as long as Dark Knight is in play the named card cannot be played.

Gary Wise: Sadly, there's pretty much nothing about me that's cool.

Eric Taylor: Actually my favorite card that hasn't been designed yet isn't one I have made up but one that Pat Chapin made. It's a new way to create poisonous monsters.

Enormous Poison Rat
2 ManaBlack ManaBlack Mana
Creature - Rat
If Enormous Poison Rat deals damage to an opponent, it deals 3 poison counters instead.

So it's actually best used as a cheap wall. Also, if nothing else is going on, it can attack for a win. The key here is that instead of making poison an ability which causes the casting cost to go up, poison is added as a drawback - the creature can only deal poison to an opponent, which allows you to template bigger creatures with a smaller casting cost, which makes poison exciting. You don't have to do a whole poison set to make these creatures playable.

Osyp Lebedowicz:

Ultimate Attack
Red Mana
Deal 20 damage to target player. You may play Ultimate Attack as though its casting cost were 0 if you are being targeted by Ultimate Attack.

Nathan Heiss:

Mind Ooze
2 ManaBlue ManaBlack Mana
Tap: Return a permanent you own to your hand and a permanent to its owner’s hand.
Flavor Text: It seemed to be intelligent, yet bouncy.

Jeroen Remie: I have yet to make up my own card. The closest I ever came was a name. My friends and I have been joking a long time about the wonder that is the Viashivan Hellsprite.

Kai Budde: Not the one they ended up printing, unfortunately.

Brian Kibler: My card for the Invitational this year. It's a secret for now, I hope you voted for me.

 September 2, 2003  

Question: What is your best memory of playing Magic?


Gab Tsang: My best memories aren't really of doing well. When I think back, the fondest memories I have are just the times where a bunch of us were just together sharing a small yet significant amount of time together.
Ken Krouner: Without question, after round 18 of 2002 Worlds. My spot in the Top 8 was in question. It was either me or Amiel Tennebaum of France. Mark read the first 7 names. Jeff Fung is kneeling next to me clutching my hand. Mark's voice booms, "...and in 8th place from the United States..." The crowd went crazy, Ed Fear jumped on my back; the feeling was unreal. It was such a rush. I wouldn't trade it for anything. Immediately after that I went to do a 777 draft with Jeff and Jens Thoren against Huey, Matt Linde and Mike Turian. Even though I went 1-2, we won. It was my weekend!
Gary Wise: A buddy of mine taught me how to play by giving me his bad deck and smashing my face repeatedly while visiting home on March break. I went back to school, played a lot, traded furiously and came home for the summer. Our first game, he had 18 lands in one pile when I cast a card he'd never seen before: Chaos Orb. I dropped it, landed it on the pile and he quit around three months later.
Victor van den Broek: Playing in the Top 8 of Euros... that was exciting and tense.
Osyp Lebedowicz: I'd have to say my fondest memory happened at a Mercadian Masques PTQ a long time ago. I was in the 1-1 bracket and I was sitting next to my friend Jon Sonne who had the same record. We were both in danger of being eliminated and Jon's opponent was a very attractive female wearing a low cut top. Jon, being the ladies man he is, offered her this deal, the winner takes the loser out to dinner. Obviously smitten by the man's charisma, she accepted his offer and then proceeded to beat him in 2 straight games with Mageta, the Lion. Afterwards she said, "Well, sorry I had to beat you, but on the bright side, at least you get a free dinner, what time do you want to go out?" To which Jon replied, "Forget it, the date is off", and stormed out of the room.
Nathan Heiss: Probably the day I qualified for Rome with my Manakin deck - that deck had all the goodies: Mawcor, Keeper of the Mind, Thalakos Drifters, AND Hammerhead Sharks.
Jeroen Remie: Playing multiplayer with my friends, winning my first tournament and getting drunk with the Dutch and Kibler. Most of those... and they don't even involve competitive play.
Kai Budde: Winning big tournaments is fun.
Dave Humpherys: When I realized I'd win my match in the first Team Pro Tour Finals to seal the tourney.
Brian Kibler: And then...I cast Rith.

Ask the Pros - August, 2003
Ask the Pros - July, 2003
Ask the Pros - June, 2003
Ask the Pros - May, 2003
Ask the Pros - April, 2003
Ask the Pros - March, 2003
Ask the Pros - February, 2003
Ask the Pros - January, 2003
Ask the Pros - December, 2002
Ask the Pros - November, 2002

compiled by Mike Turian archive compiled by Mike Turian archive

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