Magic Pro Photoshop contest and this week’s Quotes

Chris Pikula

The card they make Pikula use when picking teams at Finkel drafts

Once upon a time, Magic players could win a tournament called the Magic Invitational and get their likenesses put on a Magic card. Sadly, that event was discontinued some time ago. The last invitational card produced was Antoine Ruel’s Ranger of Eos.

Just because Wizards isn’t making Magic cards with Pro faces on them any more doesn’t mean we can’t. So today’s contest will be:

Create Magic cards for your favorite/least favorite Pro Tour players. These can be past or present (so something like Ken Krouner as Enraged Baloth or sticking Osyp Lebedowicz’s head at the bottom of Liar’s Pendulum would be acceptable, as would Paulo Da Rosa as Dreamy McElferson (a card I am told Lauren Lee has already posterized on her wall). Please only submit new ‘shops.

Winners will be chosen by me and bonus points will be given for humor, sick photoshop skills, and excellent use of source material. The deadline for this is midnight Sunday eastern time.

1st Prize: Primeval Titan (MODO or RL)
2nd Prize: 10 Magic Online tix or a 10$ SCG gift certificate.
3rd Prize: Something random

Post your entries in the comments below or send them to me at mixedknuts at gmail. Best of luck.

Quotable Quotes

@bmkibler – The Andover Bookstore does not sell hats nearly big enough for my head.

@briankiblersego My head is so big it was once confused for Conley Woods #ohsnap

@briankiblersego My head is so big it was 3/4 of the field at GP Dallas #banjace

@briankiblersego I was going to say my head is so big it was once confused for Antonino DeRosa, but he’s too old school for these kids #tragedy

mixedknut yay, another discon
Riptide i have a good method to avoid disconnections
Riptide (lose)
Kepp hmm, im having a sky eel party tho
Riptide in your pants?
Kepp obv

kaib fp deathmantle
kaib 2p scrapmalter
kaib 3p myrsmith
kaib running well
kaib sword in pack 2 fp, odds on argentum armor for p3?
kaib hm
kaib no argentum armor
kaib steel hellkite is also 6 to cast though
kaib will have to go with that
kaib only equipment bombs, steel hellkite and artifact removal
kaib obviously playing vs some dumb infect deck r1
kaib hah
kaib 5th pick
kaib argentum armor
kaib prolly gonna pass though

Draconis you know what scg needs
Draconis a weekly article on all the judge gossip
Draconis called RikiLeaks

mixedknut flame, what are your feelings on The Bieber
flameWRK the other day i saw this young guy walking hand in hand with a pretty girl
flameWRK i thought “why would she want to be with that child”
flameWRK then i realized…Bieber haircut

kaib if you feel pissed and thate verything is unjust, Kepp, ask ROSHOLM_ for the forum link of some guy who never drafted before and his draft
kaib who made the wrost picks a few times, just completely horrible
kaib and then went on to beat anton a few drafts in
kaib that should pick you up a bit!
Riptide can always count on kai for the rubins
Kepp there are a couple of great 3-0 drafts on antons site too
kaib its all i have left

Kepp also, im not sure if there are any japanese essays on swedish christmas traditions floating around
13:27 kaib uh oh
13:28 kaib i heard swedish xmas sport is
13:28 kaib going out there with a gun
13:28 kaib and shooting some guy skiing?
13:28 Kepp yep
13:28 Kepp its extremely difficult tho
13:28 Kepp since you have to ricochet the shot off a moose

Samuel Stoddard: I’d imagine that the US govt seeing wikileaks for the first time is like the poor Japanese guy who got linked to Tubgirl and realized it was his daughter.

Ben Bleiweiss: Congratulations. When I search “Sluttiest Knutson in England” on Google, you don’t even make page 1 of results.
Knutson: goddammit!
Knutson: I’ve even been working on my SEO for that

Riptide: wow those alterations
Riptide: was gonna say “how do they find the time?”
Riptide: then realized im doing my 104th mss-draft

number1GTfan: rating the Man your fave made me all wet in the pants, so thanks for that- heh.
Mixedknuts:  I’m a pleaser!

Mrfridays: the only way you are getting me to listen to a two-hour podcast is if it’s guaranteed to have a code at the end that unlocks sex with Jessica Alba

Mind-blowing Alters with Jon Corpora

On most Sunday afternoons, instead of going to church or doing my share of the chores around the house, I wonder to myself, sometimes aloud, “what is better than a Top 8 profile of a Magic player in a Grand Prix tournament?” The answer, of course, is nothing, because they let Magic players fill those things out themselves, and they are always, without fail, hilarious and awesome, and never stupid. Favorable matchup against MTGMOM??? Whaaaa? HILARITY. Magic players are the best.

Something that comes close to the sheer brilliance of a guy saying “I’m pro” in parenthesis in his Top 8 profile and thus cementing his “god-among-men” status is altered cards. Jeremy Froggatt, all around chill bro and bacon enthusiast, has his own column now, where he shows off card alters, and every single freakin’ one blows my mind. Some of the concepts are just out of this world, especially those badass GURU Force of Wills. The seasonal Wastelands are also one of my personal favorites.

I’m not usually one to go a long way to pimp out decks. My system for pimping out my standard/extended deck is really specific and kind of insane – Oldest edition of the card, non-promo, no Portal/Starter, no foils, English only. Aside from constantly praying that Birds of Paradise never shows up in a deck I want to play (Alpha price tag: $200), this system also means that I don’t go much for altered cards, but now that I get to see the cream of the crop on Jeremy’s column, I can now see them for all their awesomeness. Like anyone whose estimation of their own abilities far exceeds what they’re actually capable of, I figured I’d try my hand at it.

These are my supplies. Note the Super Nintendo in the background. Very pro. That bottled beer there, which will serve as my hors d’œuvre for that 12-pack of Killian’s, is a Southern Tier brew named Krampus, recommended to me by my hetero bro Brad. Quoted from the side of the bottle:

European tradition says while St. Nicolas is busy delivering presents to good little boys and girls, Krampus hands out punishments to the bad. A fanged, goat-horned bully, the Christmas Devil uses sticks and chains to beat the naughty children.

Jesus Christ. No wonder Dirk Nowitski has such weird taste in women. Sure beats Krampus.

My non-drinkable supplies are very limited, seeing as they’re all I could find on my first run-through of my kitchen drawers. I foresee the medium-sized black marker to be my workhorse, while the fat marker will pull some serious outlining jobs, and the orange one I’ll probably use for flames or cotton candy or something. The possibilities are literally endless.

The reason I chose Chrome Steed as my card to alter is a monetary one: I like to draft and do so often, thus I have lots of Chrome Steeds to burn.

If I’m being honest, I haven’t really drawn anything since junior high, and even then, those picture were just Dragonball Z doodles in my notebook. I had to get in a different mindset. It helped to ask: What was Jana Schirmer & Johannes Voss’ inspiration here? And looking at this Chrome Steed art… well, it’s a horse. A horse made of metal. A Steed Made Of Chrome, if you will. Let’s take a peek at this flavor text-

“According to Auriok myth, it collects scrap in order to reassemble its lost rider.” Got it. What we have here is a metal rocking horse of accelerated intelligence, trying to find its lost jockey. BUT. Since metal horsie emotions, accelerated as they may be, are still not as acute as those of man, he’s trying to put his jockey back together with random scraps of garbage he finds across Mirrodin in order to create a cross between Tobey Maguire from Seabiscuit and Arnold Schwarzenegger from The Terminator. A kind of half-robot, half-man, half-jockey, if you will. Chrome Steed isn’t the brightest.

So what Chrome Steed is searching for is a half-robot, half-Seabiscuit-guy. Here is a rough sketch that I definitely didn’t draw in my notebook during Geology.

For the purposes of this alteration, we’re gonna go ahead and fulfill the flavor text and stay that El Steed-o de Chrome found and/or put back together his lost jockey. In the words of Evan Erwin, HERE WE GO, YA’LL! YEE HAW.

To start off, I went and did the outline in black, because I saw Jeremy do that a bunch on his cards and it seemed like the thing to do. It turned out okay, even though I messed up that bottom left corner a little bit. Additionally, it turns out that drawing on Magic cards is just like drawing on any kind of currency: it’s fun and awesome.

We start out with the face of our jockey, the most important part of any person, because, hey, let’s face it (fun wordplay!), if you are an ugly person, then you cannot possibly succeed, ever. Nothing will ever come easy to you and you will die bitter and alone. Thank God I’m handsome. So here we are creating a sort of alternate universe in which the steed is not looking for, but wistfully staring at, his chrome.

Here we kick off the starting of our sentient-cyborg-killer-jockey now, utilizing that wild-card orange marker we randomly found in the cupboard to bring attention to his metal parts and show that the are, in fact, shiny. And look! That bottom left-corner fixed itself!

I started to color the sky black, because I wish to convey a story with this piece about, no matter how bad you became in limited once Mirrodin Besieged hit, Chrome will always find Steed, no matter what the cost. So to raise the stakes a little bit (no, I am not sure how this actually raises the stakes), I made it dark outside, because it is HARD to find stuff in the dark. I still haven’t found my special black handcuffs I had made to play with the kids next door with. But then I realized, mid-coloring, that if I made the WHOLE sky black, you wouldn’t be able to see Tobey Maguire’s hook hand, and if you can’t see Tobey Maguire’s hook hand, well, WHAT IS THE POINT?

It’s worth noting that I’ve imbibed quite a bit of alcohol at this point.

So now it’s dark outside. What’s the next step?

Horse on fire! Despite having never seen it, thus not knowing what the basic premise of it is, I know that Man on Fire was a very popular movie. Since Man on Fire is about a man on fire (why else would you call your movie “man on fire?”), why not a horse on fire? Plus, I had to use that orange marker because I’m not about to grab an orange marker and ruin it by drawing all over black marker, just to make a robot appear shiny.
That’s dumb. I am better than that.

I wanted to draw a sun there, because it’s either Mirrodin or Tattooine, can’t remember which, that has two suns, and I wanted to illustrate that in this piece, TWO SUNS RULE THE DAY. However, some IDIOT decided it would be a good idea to black out the sky. I honestly don’t even remember why I ever thought that was a good idea.

And there is your finished product. As it turns out, the combination of alcohol, frustration, and no artistic ability whatsoever takes its toll. The odds were definitely  stacked against me on this one.

@feb31st on Twitter

Behind the Scenes of #banjace

In my last update I discussed needing a business model and a plan to help figure out what you want to do with your blog/website.  What I failed to address in any way whatsoever was what the hell I am doing with my blog?!? I should probably explain that…

The reason this thing exists at all is because I wanted to write something, but the stuff I want to write about doesn’t have a comfortable venue for me.(To be fair, StarkPo offered but I wouldn’t get all the data I get out of doing it on my own.) Once I decided to start my own blog for posting whatever, I then figured I might as well experiment with it. And that, my friends, is where we are now.

It’s been kind of a weird week in that, despite the fact that three of the most respected Pros in the game in PV, LSV, and Chapin have all generally sided with my point of view, one of my best friends said I was clearly trawling the lowest common denominator with this whole Ban Jace thing. (And here I thought my argument was based on logic.) Additionally, SCG copy editor Lauren Lee wrote a general response article on her personal blog, and seemed to entirely miss the point that the data argument was based on seven enormous tournaments and not just GP DFW, as she kept saying. Thus while the piece was nicely written, half of it was a straw man. Oh well.

In reality, I was simply making a point that, given what Aaron had said about banning Skullclamp, Jace clearly meets the criteria for a ban in Standard. That type of article is fun to write because it doesn’t come up very often. The timing was admittedly a little poor in that there is no Banned and Restricted window any time soon, but it’s not like I have any control over it.  Regardless, for the purposes of the experiment, all of this worked out rather well. It certainly sparked a lot of discussion on Twitter and across the community about what is wrong with current Standard (because something certainly is). As I mentioned last week, Part of the point of writing at all here is that I want people to have an opinion, so in this case, job well done.

Lessons Learned/Hypotheses Confirmed (these might be obvious)=

  • Jace is a hot button subject in the Magic community.
  • A good argument for banning a popular card can drive substantial hits, especially when you fan the flames on Twitter.
  • Content five days a week is a big deal, even when you are just fucking around.
  • Other people like propaganda posters too.

Ban Jace went up at around 9AM Eastern on Monday but the big hit day of the week was actually Tuesday. Part of that was click-thrus from around the net (especially Silvestri’s link over at CFB), but another big part of that was people were genuinely excited about the propaganda posters (which ended up being a cross-promotion with More successful networking in action). I didn’t know what to expect, but figure it was worth a draft set or two to find out. It worked out really well, and if I were running a regular site, I’d definitely experiment more with image contests for small prizes.

So Monday was 2500 hits, Tuesday was 4000, and even Wednesday – when I didn’t have any new content – saw 1225 views, which is more than I had any day last week from new content. 4000 views in a day for week two is pretty crazy, and seems to mean that you can go from zero to well-read in a much shorter time than I had previously hypothesized. This is true despite the fact that I have yet to include a single decklist in any post on the site.

Maybe I’ll do something like that tomorrow…

So Where’s This Blog Going? What’s The End Game?
I dunno. I figure I’ll just hang out over here, writing what I feel like a couple times a week, if that’s okay with you. Next week we’ll run a mailbag (add your questions in the comments section por favor), and maybe do some regular promo giveaways like Medina does, another photoshop contest, drink some beer…

I can tell you one thing that won’t happen though – this won’t become a regular Magic site. I’ve already done that a couple of times and don’t feel the need to bury myself with that amount of work again. That said, if you want to do a guest spot of something fun, hit me up via email (mixed knuts at guh mail) and we’ll talk.

See you tamale,

Post Script – I’m totally done with the #banjace and won’t mention it again. Sorry for any extra kerfuffle caused to all your Twitter feeds.

Awesome TCG Blog Business Models (and How Not To Fuck Up)

So you’ve started a blog and have been updating it faithfully. You have a nice little following of regular readers, your twitter account is full of interactions, and you find yourself enjoying the whole process. Now what?

Now you have to answer the hard questions like:

“What the hell am I going to do with this thing?”
“How do I justify spending all this time working on a hobby site?”
“Do I want to start letting other writers in on this?”
“How do I make some money?”

The last one almost certainly drives the rest.

Fellow part-time troll Josh Silvestri pointed out a couple of things that rang very true while we were chatting about blogs and new websites in general. The first is that most blogs, regardless of their subject, die quickly unless they start making money. The second cogent point he made was that most blogs have content that is simply worse than what you would get on the major websites. If it wasn’t worse, the websites would snatch that person up and pay them. The lesson? Money ends up being important one way or another.

This is why you need to decide on a business plan for your site, and you need to do so early. Without a plan, you’ll just flop around for a while, eventually run out of air, and your site will probably die. With a business plan, you at least have a chance to succeed and do cool things.

Potential Paths
1) The Store Front
Assuming you are running a blog that you want to turn into a full-fledged website about a trading card game, you have a few different revenue streams you can tap in to. The first one is the obvious one where you act as the front end for a store (old is the classic example, places like and – now owned by CoolStuffInc – are the current ones). You generate daily content for a website, which in turn is tied to a store front that sells things (like games and cards). The traffic from your clicks then drives traffic to the store, which then (presumably) results in increased sales for the store itself.

This is by far the easiest way to get a revenue engine running behind your website but it takes knowing a store or building that relationship, AND (very importantly) it cedes some of the control to the people with the purse strings. There are plenty of small vendors out there who might be interested in this type of relationship, but they need to be willing to spend money on marketing (which is what your website will be doing) to help increase their sales volume. Meanwhile, YOU, as the person who developed this whole thing in the first place need to make sure that you a) don’t lose control of your baby and b) get paid in the end for success you help generate.

2) Ad Revenue
This is far more hit or miss than tying yourself to a store, but it allows you to keep your freedom. On the other hand, your budget and livelihood lives or dies based on your ability to generate vast amounts of hits. What’s interesting about our demographic is that most of us could reliably pick out ads that would succeed with them ahead of time, which means you could end up with some pretty decent per click/per serve rates, but finding that type of ad service is tough. My view is that all the media sites should have some sort of ads running on their site (but DEAR GOD DON’T HAVE SOUND AUTO ON) to help offset hosting costs and the like, or in the case of the bigger sites, to help them pay their talent and create quality content.

All of that is cart before the horse though. Generate lots of hits on a consistent basis and you can spend time figuring out the rest. Even when you do this, don’t expect to earn a ton of money from it – internet advertising is a much lower revenue model than being a store front unless your site is absolutely huge.

3) Merchandise Revenue
This is a more classic internet revenue stream that rarely seems to get applied to MTG sites. Basically it involves selling T-shirts, mugs, playmats, sleeves, stickers, whatever – stuff that would appeal to your customer base that you can make a percentage on. If you or your staff are particularly creative (like @griffnvalentine), you can do some very cool things with this. However, it involves extra work beyond just what is on your media site, requires finding a vendor you like that can work within a price structure, and possibly some investment in stock as well.

In short, it’s complicated.

4) Subscriptions
This one is also complicated and is really a next-level play. The problem here is that you need to have a thriving website before you can really consider adding a paywall/subscription model. Said a different way, you need to have interesting content people would be willing to pay for.  Additionally, by adding this revenue stream to your website, you will take a PR hit, so your site needs to be at such a point that it can take this hit and keep chugging along.

Star City wasn’t the first site to add a paywall to their content, old Brainburst was (read: around 2003 or so. For those of you playing the home game, that means pay Magic sites have been around for eight years already. Oddly enough, since that time only has decided join the painwall wagon (TCGP actually ended theirs at one point and never put it back, though some of their old content is bafflingly pay locked). I don’t know what things look like behind the scenes at Quiet Spec, but I was dumbstruck when I found out they had a paywall. Maybe it works for them because of their niche (financial market plus smennendian blathering), but I’d almost certainly want to be bigger than that before I took a site pay.

I do have to say, considering they have been a proven success for eight years, I am shocked more sites aren’t using paywalls. You have to have something readers want to pay for in the first place, but given the size of the Magic audience these days, that’s not nearly as hard as it used to be. As Aaron Forsythe used to say, “Tech certainly does not want to be free.” Nearly a decade of experience tells us that when it comes to articles, that is certainly true.

Technically this could be filed under merchandise, but it feels like these guys deserve their own mention. They basically invented MTG podcasting, and reinvented MTG writing in book form. However, their site just kind of exists – updates are irregular and really just an excuse to get together and talk about Magic. Once a year or so, they let you know there’s a new product you might be interested in and that’s about it. It’s a very unusual spot to be in, but they’ve been around for years, and while they occasionally sell merch, they seem to do it mostly out of love and have been successful.

As usual, not everything fits neat into one analytical box.

Next Steps
Once you have some idea of what your business model will be, you can start fleshing out your expectations for the site. If you’re a storefront, then you need to provide some of what the store owner wants (and they likely want to sell cards). If you run on an advertising model, then you need to be serious about exploiting ideas that generate tons of hits on a regular basis. (In reality, you probably want to do this as a store front as well.) If you want to focus on merch, you can use your website to poll readers for feedback regarding potentially interesting products.

More than anything, you need to figure out what you need from writers (or in this day of mixed media, “content producers”).  What kind of site are you? Do you want to do a little of everything like Do you want to be mostly tech like SCG/CFB/TCGP? Do you want to go niche and do Legacy/Cube/Finance/Canada? Even if you don’t want to lock yourself in to a specific path, you should have a general idea of what to emphasize to make recruiting talent easier.

In order to keep readers coming to your site regularly, you need good updates at least three days a week. Five is one level better than this, and two-per-day five days a week is really the sweet spot. That’s way too much content for one person to create and still be interesting, so you’ll need to recruit and groom a team of writers that you can rely on. To help with this, you might also be interested in running a weekly content contest. These typically only cost 25$ or so, but this small outlay can result in a massive amount of content generation (at which point your editorial staff becomes the bottleneck).

You need to accept that the best of these writers will eventually leave for higher-paying pastures. If they get an offer of double what you can pay them per article, they certainly should. However, if you maintain good relations with them, you can ask for favors from time to time. (Example : “Hey Bob, I know you are busy with your work at, but how would you like to do some Drafts for us once a month?” Or “Any time you want to write an issues article and need a platform, let me know.” It doesn’t always work, but there is no harm in asking.)

Since I have done this type of thing a couple of times before, I have a pretty good idea of what can be done within a particular set of budget constraints. If I were starting off on my own, once I got the website work sorted, I could start and run a pretty solid website for $100/week ($5200/year). It would take a ton of personal grunt work and I’d need to produce strong content of my own as well as editing everyone else’s, but with a strong leader who can recruit, you could certainly create a contender in a year or two. The real cost here though is the opportunity cost of my time (which for me is massive, but for a college student is much smaller) plus whatever my outlays are for writer costs and hosting, etc.

At $500/week ($26,000/year), I could create a site to rival anyone except SCG/CFB (who are problematic because they have multiple revenue streams that presumably lead to an enormous potential budget, which they would then use to steal all my best writers) in about two years. You would need to be extremely strict with your writer budget and absolutely bust ass recruiting and editing on your own, but that level of money would allow you to approach the best sites out there. On the other hand, fifty dimes is a lot of money, the work load we’re talking about is beyond a full-time job, and there’s nothing in that budget that accounts for paying YOU. Additionally, at the end of that time, you’d need to be absolutely sure you were profitable going forward or you’d need to fold the whole thing as a failed experiment.

The thing to remember here, is that the Magic community is smart and massive, and they will do a surprising amount of work for relatively minimal compensation if the other benefits make it worthwhile for them. If you manage to create a site with a thriving, interactive readership that gets writers a bunch of hits and exposure, it’s very likely a great place to be. This is especially true if you are an unknown looking to make a name for yourself and the site you are looking at has a good reputation for grooming talent into popular writers. In short, never ever underestimate what the Magic community can do with proper encouragement.

Mail Time!
This is perhaps more of an introduction than a comprehensive look at what you can do with a Magic website. My next piece directly addressing this topic (and others) will be a reader mailbag. If you have thoughts about anything you’ve seen on here in the last two weeks or questions you want my feedback on, pop them into the comments section below and I’ll write about them soon.


Ban Jace Propaganda Posters

I really like propaganda posters, so decided to reward the clever photoshoppers among you with a prize for creating cool images to go along with yesterday’s controversial topic. Internet amigo Sphynxx over at did the same for those in his homeland and what follows are the results.

Prize winners are announced at the end.


Sphynxx: the sign says “NO!!”, the original poster has a guy, offering another a glass of vodka:




CardGame: The original poster for this is an incredible piece of art. I like this, but the changes might be too small to win outright.



CardGame: I have to admit, at first I thought this one was silly, but it’s grown on me since yesterday.


Sphynxx: The text is a quote from revolution-era soviet poet saying: “there is no use in messing with Jace, it must be hammered fearlessly, shamelessly, with burning passion. Daily, at every step, you should never give rest to your hammer.”

CardGame: I love the ban hammer.


Sphynxx: “I never do (nasty) things like this”
original here


CardGame: Fascinating original for this one can be found here: I find this one amusing and the original is kind of mind-blowing in this day and age. Nice choice of original material and a good adaptation.




CardGame: This one wins a no prize for greatest use of purple.


Sphynxx: “Want to look at my top card? Would you mind brainstorming instead?”


Big ups to everyone who threw their hats in the ring here and to Sphynxx for cross-promoting it with the Russian audience. Almost all of these are surprisingly entertaining and/or just plain cool.

My favorite image of the lot has to be number 5 from Milton A. Santiago (twitter: @miltonischillin). I love the color palette, the slightly three-dimensional look, and the words on this really work.

Picking a second-place is actually too hard for me, so I’m actually going to ask artist and Super Friends podcast host Justin Treadway and wife Thea Steele to pick their favorite(s) and kick an additional pack of either Scars or Beseiged to those winner(s).

Nice work, everybody.


Ban Jace Propaganda Poster Contest!

At least part of tomorrow’s update will be composed by you fine reader folk. That’s right, I’m running a visuals contest for propaganda posters on the subjects of ‘Ban Jace’ and/or ‘The Jace War.’ (Those of you who disagree with the arguments posted here can obviously create work backing Jace – as I’ve said before, I don’t mind differing viewpoints from my own.)

Entries can either be posted in the comments here or sent to me via email (mixedknuts over at gmail). Entries are valid until 9AM Eastern time, at which point I’ll put my favorites in a new post and pick a winner. Top prize will be an MBS draft set on Magic Online and a random foil from my online collection (Like, literally random. As in we will generate a number and I’ll give you whatever foil that is.) There may also be additional prizes for creativity, etc.

Have fun and good luck!

Here are some examples for those of you unfamiliar with the genre: