Who’s Your Favorite Magic Player? and More, Mailbag – April 18

Is it true you called Phil Napoli fat the first time you met him? – Osyp L

Not exactly.

Look, the first time I met pNaps, he was with his brother and I was introduced to the whole Napoli experience at the same time. I said something funny like, “Oh wow, you guys look exactly alike, except somebody grabbed Phil’s thumb and blew him up into a boom boom while they left you all skinny.” I may have also said something else like, “Hey, were you guys the models for the Mario brothers?”

I’d like to claim I had been drinking at the time, but this probably happened before noon and I was just spouting whatever vaguely funny stuff came to mind. Thankfully Phil Napoli is one of the most jolly Goldman Sachs meatsaballas around and was able to laugh at it all.  We even like the same music.

I’ve grown to be a much nicer person since then. I think. Self-censoring has never really been my strong suit.

Who’s your favourite Magic player? – Gerard MooneyEyes

Kenji on the cover of Japanese Teen Beat

Most of my best friends are Magic players, but as a fan, without a doubt my favourite Magic player ever is Kenji Tsumura. This is despite the fact that for most of the time we were around the Pro Tour scene together, we couldn’t remotely speak the same language.

The first time I saw him was at Worlds in San Francisco, where it looked like Tsuyoshi Fujita and Shuhei Nakamura had recruited a ten-year-old kid to Team Rochester against the rest of the world.  (By the way, this team retroactively wins my vote for best national team ever by a large margin.) (Second aside – The Dutch brought their own underage munchkin with big hair to this event. He managed to win the whole thing.) Right after that, I started travelling around the world doing coverage and he started appearing in Top 8s. By the time I retired, he had five Pro Tour Top 8s and a Player of the Year trophy, and he earned a sixth Top 8 at Worlds 2008 before putting his Magic career on hold so he could go to school.

Beyond the fact that he’s a great Magic player, come all these other things that make him an easy favourite. First off, he’s incredibly humble, but does so without being annoying about it. He’s also incredibly funny (even when you don’t speak his language) and one of those rare people who seems so full of life they are about to burst. What I mean by that is anyone who saw Kenji in person came away from that experience thinking, “Wow, that guy must be awesome to hang around.” And he was. Watching him interact with Gabe Walls on a regular basis was one of the highlights of my career.

The Gabe Walls. Big in Japan, big everywhere.

Oh, and he always looked cool, which earns bonus points. I missed him when I was country-locked during PT Amsterdam (the UKBA was holding my passport), which left me gutted, because he now speaks fluent English. Here’s to hoping I’ll have a chance to catch up with him (and so many others) at a future Pro Tour down the road.

So yeah, despite the fact that there are so many truly enjoyable Magicians out there, Kenji is and likely will always be my favourite.

Sorry Gerard, you’ll just have to settle with being my favourite person who works on 3ThingstoKnow.com.

Do you think if Jace were cheaper it would be even more dominant and thus more banworthy? – nayon7

The prevalence of Jace is slightly constrained by availability, but given historical precedent, it’s plenty banworthy right now. (Wizards has chosen not to do so for various reasons including really poor timing of the data, and potentially ugly PR implications.) There were 24 and 20 Jaces in the Top 8 of this weekend’s MODO PTQ and MOCS respectively. Early reports I’ve seen from Regionals look like Skullclamp Regionals all over again, with Jace decks taking about 75% of the slots (and attendance down quite a bit already, though that may be more the result of the new Regionals structuring than a Jace backlash).

The format has had time to adjust to the deck(s) and it can’t, Caw-Blade and RUG are simply superior strategies. WotC is now hoping they got the hosers right in New Phyrexia and we end up with a good final Standard format for this summer like we did post-Jund last year.

Speaking of which, has anyone noticed that balance for middle-set Standard has been horrifically bad for years now? Faeries, Jund, Jace… I don’t know if it’s a result of smaller set sizes or if they are overpowering new strategies to handle the current broken ones or what, but there have been majorly unbalanced formats again and again lately. Maybe everything was fine without me around bitching about it, but broken things keep happening. That sort of thing used to be reserved to Vintage and Legacy.

How do you pronounce your last name? – Joey P. from Ballimore

Kuh Newt Sun. This probably makes my column/blog name a play on words crossed with an obscure inside joke wrapped in a piece of bacon. I’m okay with that.

When classifying Magic players, ‘casual’ is a consistent term thrown around (among several others). How do you define casual and does that distinction impact how sites and writers should approach the masses? Is there any hierarchy of content and where does casual fit in the mix alongside the usual competitive content? – Adam Styborski

What do you need to do differently to attract hits to a site structured for Casual players than you would for competitive players? – TheWachman

The problem in trying to attract casual players versus competitive ones is one of diversity. At least with the hardcore guys, you know what they will be interested in (Standard, PTQ formats, some limited strategy), while with Casual they could be all over the map. Are you an EDH player? Will you read discussions about Chaos? Goofy Iron Man formats? Do you have Vorthos leanings? Maybe you care about semi-competitive formats like Singleton and Pauper, or budget decks? Casual players land in so many buckets and it’s a big question as to whether they overlap.

Thus, despite the fact that the potential casual audience is much larger than the competitive one, attracting them is damned difficult (even beyond the fact that they can be rather “casual” fans/readers at times too). At SCG we mixed in everything and it worked pretty well. Pete’s maxim was always to be the best Magic site to everybody, which is why we always had so much content across the spectrum. That said, I’ve never run a purely casual website, so my expertise in this area is somewhat lacking.

My suggestion for website peoples who are skewing casual is to look at what MTG.com has done with their lineup (which leans very casual), replicate most of it and see what works for your audience/writer mix. If you are a casual writer, review Anthony Alongi’s archives on the mothership and look at how he approached this problem. He is one of the best casual writers we’ve had and held a column there for a very long time, so there are plenty of         underlying lessons about content there to be uncovered.

I’d love to see Top 5 lists even if they were just names and no elaboration and as bonuses for your other entries. – AndytheHurst
Noted. I’ll give you two – one with elaboration and one without.

5 Random Songs from my Running Playlist
1) Gimme Some Lovin’ – The Spencer Davis Group
This is my favourite running song of all time. Awesome beat, awesome song, awesome chorus, ridiculous, jawdroppingly good young Steve Winwood vocals, organ, COWBELL. Every time this comes on, my workout becomes  a little easier. That is an amazing property for a song to have.  Hell, I have to stop myself from singing it out loud. It also works well for heavy bag workouts.

2) Fembot – Robyn
I love Robyn and her latest album is fantastic. Most of it is up-tempo enough to make it onto my running list, but I particularly like this one as a song and for the driving beat. If you don’t know who Robyn is (and Americans seem to have overlooked her entirely), definitely check out the Body Talk album.

3) Weapon of Choice – Fatboy Slim
An added bonus for a running song is for it to create vivid mental images when you listen to it. The reason for this is the last place I really want my mind to be focusing when I run is on the running. Thus if a song has a good beat, references Dune in the chorus, and has a ‘Holy shit, that’s Christopher Walken!’ dance video, it’s a good candidate to make the list.

4) Teenage Dream – Glee Cast Version
Don’t judge me. (I’ll listen to basically anything sung by The Warblers.) Tempo note: this is just barely fast enough to use.

5) The Beautiful People – Marilyn Manson
This is a fantastic song for boxing/MMA workouts, but slightly less good for my running workouts. I’m just not angry enough to appreciate this unless I’m actively hitting something, so moved it off a couple of months ago.

5a) Little Red Light – Fountains of Wayne
I’m a huge FoW fan, and this song reminds me of bouncing around in the crowd when I got to see them at the 9:30 Club in D.C. There is an irrepressible zoom feeling running through the song that makes it damn near perfect. Plus, the lyrics are relevant to all sorts of annoying thoughts about work or life you might be having at the time.

5 Random Names: T. Black, R. Linares, B. Starr, C. Evans, A. Keys

What should writers expect from the site they work for? – Dan Barrett

  • That they will answer your emails in a reasonable time frame.
  • That they will give you some feedback on your work and its popularity, if you ask.
  • Assuming you have a paid position, that they pay you at regular intervals.

Everything else, whether it be title changes, teaser text, *gulp* copy editing, etc is up for grabs. Obviously if you don’t like something, you should start a line of communication to discuss it, but in the world of internet publishing, there are few certainties.

#1. Why would anyone EVER deal women’s hoops?
#2. If someone does… are they aware of the ripple effect as to where now I have to pay guys to watch WNBA? – Pedro Alvarado

This, ladies and gentlemen, is really a question about Jelger Wiegersma (and peripherally about Eugene Harvey, who has also enjoyed his time working on WNBA). Unlike most sports fans, Jelger loves the WNBA. In fact, he is a passionate follower of the sport and enjoys trading it at work more than any other sport on the planet. It might sound like I’m lying here, but he openly proclaims his love for it on Facebook. You see, we’ve been dealing WNBA (commonly referred to by the previous lead trader as “Bitch Ball” – don’t get mad at me, I just tell the stories) at work for most of its existence. Apparently there are many people like Jeggles who not only enjoy watching the women’s game, but who also enjoy betting on it.

I personally wouldn’t mind trading the sport, but you couldn’t pay me enough to watch it, and I traded and watched Curling during the Olympics. WNBA is worse. Jeggles on the other hand… that guy can’t get enough. I don’t know if it’s because all the tall girls remind him of being in the Netherlands, or if he really likes basketball without the dunks, or if maybe he gets a thrill from watching them play and thinking, “Man, I’m better than she is!” For whatever reason, Jeggles and the WNBA will likely be inseparable until either he dies or the league does.

I think it’s kind of sweet, really.

How many Magic players work at Pinnacle? – Ben Holbrook
I’ve lost track, but I think it’s somewhere between 30 and 40. It started with Z and myself, then came Phoenix Foundation, Eugenius, Christian Luehrs, Craig Jones, and many many others. I am certain our company has the most Pro Tour points of any company on the planet. Not that it does us any good, since aside from the people who are in the Hall of Fame, almost none of us can actually get away to attend Magic tournaments more than once or twice a year, which means no one is qualified, which means we only show up to PTs to see friends.

I’d also like to note that Mark Herberholz has been on Curacao for the better part of a year and hasn’t died yet, absolutely smashing the Over on his life-expectancy in the process.

Thoughts on the U.S. crackdown on Online Poker? – Ben Weinburg
First off, let me say I think the U.S. stance on online poker and online sports betting is absolutely moronic. Physical gambling is legal in the vast majority of states. Lotteries exist in all but two of them, and those are the worst EV imaginable (it would be like sports betting with 50% vig – hellooooo math tax). Gambling is a recreational entertainment activity and it exists everywhere (Don’t think so? Why are there lines for every NFL game on ESPN and in the newspaper?), so just find the right way to regulate the fucking industry – like every sensible country in the world has already done – and earn the tax money.

People in and around the industry that I know were baffled that the poker crackdown took this long to happen. Sure, poker is a step up the rung from sports betting in terms of pseudo-legality, but the level at which PokerStars and FullTilt were thumbing their nose at U.S. regulations and profiting from it… well, it was startling that the U.S. government let them get away with it for so long. And make no mistake,  the owners of these companies made huge amounts of money from becoming the major players in the poker industry over the last five years. As long as they aren’t in jail, they’ll still be able to spend it. They likely won’t ever be allowed to go back into the United States, but being filthy rich and U.S. banned is really not such a bad thing.

As I mentioned on Twitter, I think this opens the door for the U.S. to put a regulated online poker policy in place. Whether they will get their shit together and do so any time soon is another matter entirely.

Thanks for the questions, folks. If you have more you want to see in the next Mailbag, post them here or drop me a line.

–CardGame
@mixedknuts on Twitter

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3 responses to “Who’s Your Favorite Magic Player? and More, Mailbag – April 18

  1. I chatted briefly a year or two ago with Tom LaPille at some Pro Tour or other and he said the same thing about middle formats. He seemed disappointed that it was consistently taking them until the 3rd set to get the format right. Faeries, Jund, Jace, I think they know about the problem, I don’t know if they know how to stop it.

    Blogging – are comments important to you? Zapd looks really interesting for making websites quickly but I’m unsure whether to dive in without the ability for comments. On the one hand, no spam and no moderation to deal with, on the other hand no feedback.

  2. T. Black… R. Linares… well, at least I know in some things we have similar tastes. =X

    My favorite Magic player right now is probably LSV. My first PT love was Nassif. The first time I went to a PT, though, I met Olivier Ruel and I was completely won over by his charm. Lately, though, I’ve been watching a lot of CFB’s videos, and LSV never lets up his incredible charisma and intelligent(though often loose) play.

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