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Great Magic Writing of the Week, August 10

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A staggering amount of Magic content is published each day each day on a plethora of content sites, blogs, podcasts, and discussion forums. No matter how honest an effort you make, it's easy to fall behind and miss incredible articles because there just isn't enough time to read everything.

To that end, we've collected some of the best articles of the week covering a broad range of topics. If you're looking for articles, these are the ones you don't want to miss!


On Content Consumption

How can you make the Magic content you consume better? Be a responsible reader and get the most out of the content that you spend time reading. Alex Ullman takes this opportunity to discuss the relationship between creator and consumers, and the process of creating things for others to enjoy.

GatheringMagic.com: Alex Ullman (@nerdtothecore)- Consuming Vortex

I started examining the process of writing Magic articles because it fascinated me. I have been enamored with this game for nearly twenty years, and the musings on Magic played a huge role in my ability to connect and understand the game. I brute-forced my way through the rule book after I had observed grade-school colleagues slinging cardboard on rough asphalt of the Brooklyn schoolyard. Sol Ring does not hold up as well as a pair of Air Jordans under these conditions. Reading is truly fundamental to the love of Magic. When I was simply a consumer of content, it was my chance to go down the rabbit hole and gain an understanding of concepts that may never come up in my own experience.

When I switched sides and started writing, I had a revelation. The act of creation is not an isolated one. Reading can be done in private, especially in the era of smart phones. Putting words down involves the populace. Writing can be said to be the greatest expression of one’s ego, and authors should write for themselves first; yet, without an audience to read the words, is there a point in creation?

Regardless of the answer to this existential proposition, consuming Magic content is a participatory event. Therefore, today, we are going to be taking a break from discussing the art of writing Magic articles and we will instead talk about being a responsible reader.


On Choosing Tools

Different players like different decks with different cards for different reasons. Jason has been pushing the concept of 75% Commander for awhile now, but that can mean different things for different players, groups, and even decks. Jason plays with multiple groups and enjoys different styles of play, so this week he talks about scaling his 75% decks for different kinds of play.

GatheringMagic.com: Jason Alt (@JasonEAlt) - 75% - The Right Tool for the Right Job

I’ve spent a lot of time talking about how and when and why to build a deck 75%. It’s taking a bit to convey the message that you don’t always want to build every deck 75%, but I am going to keep plugging away at it. The most common opposition I receive regarding the project is people starting their arguments saying, “In my playgroup . . . ” And that’s really the crux, isn’t it? If you play a certain way in your playgroup, build your deck for your playgroup. There’s no need to build a 75% deck if you play with the same people all the time. By all means, tune your deck to your playgroup. 75% decks work well for me because I play with new people all the time. I go to Grands Prix and play with all sorts of groups, ranging from aggro try-hards to people who want me to take a look at their 75% builds and jam a few games to casuals who are seven cards off from a precon and everyone in between. But that isn’t to say I don’t have a few regular, weekly playgroups, and it’s time I addressed what a 75% builder should do in that scenario.


On Changes to Organized Play

We've had some time for the news to settle in. Organized play is changing. PTQs will be different. What does it all mean? John Dale Beety takes off his Vorthos hat and does some analysis of how the system is better and worse for players in different geographic regions.

StarCityGames.com: John Dale Beety (@jdbeety) - Plenty to Think About

First off I'll launch Operation Linkstorm, because nothing that follows will make the least bit of sense without reading the official Wizards announcements.

The three-headed Premier Play Update of 29 July includes "The New Path to the Pro Tour," "Improving the Grand Prix," and " New Enhancements to the Pro Players Club ..."

The 30 July Magic Online Premier Play update gives details of the PTQ and MOCS events' return, including makeup events.

The Pro Tour and Grand Prix schedule includes all dates and locales for said events (with the exception of one Japanese Grand Prix and three geographically distributed events on the same weekend) for the season.

Read all that? Good. There's been plenty of digital ink spilled on these topics and What They Mean, both on this here site here and elsewhere. That said, they've tended to focus rather narrowly on one part of the high-level Organized Play experience. I'm starting to see ripple effects and possible futures.

Of course, specific predictions are the stuff of dated science fiction, but present-day readers of The Forever War forgive Vietnam veterans training recruits on a "planet Charon" past Pluto because of its timeless truths about war and what comes next. There's no way my predictions are 100% correct, but it's the spirit of exploration that counts.


On Post-PT Standard

Pro Tour Magic 2015 is in the books. What do the results mean for the next few weeks of Standard events? Is this the resurgence of Sphinx's Revelation control? The rise of Goblin Rabblemaster Red? Continued dominance of Black-based devotion decks? Adrian Sullivan crunches the numbers so you can crush some tournaments.

StarCityGames.com: Adrian Sullivan (@AdrianLSullivan) - Seventy-Five Card Decks

So, we finally have it. The pros have weighed in on Standard now that M15 is among us, and we have some greater indication of what is good in Standard than we once did.

Some greater indication because, for the most part, the players at the Pro Tour are the best of the best. Yes, there are probably some incredible players who weren't fighting at the Pro Tour, and perhaps some players were less prepared than they could be, but overall, this was a damned skilled field. This matters a lot. Jeff Hoogland, for example, in talking about Legacy put it this way: yes, he was doing fine with his non-Brainstorm decks against most opponents, but once you had a very skilled opponent on the other side of the table, things just changed.

The Pro Tour is the place most likely to have those opponents which just make the results all the much more real.


On M15 Limited

When you gather together some of the best Limited players in the world and draft several times a day for a week, you tend to learn a lot about a format. During team ChannelFireball Pantheon's testing, Matt Costa recored statistic about their Limited preparation. This week, he shares the data he's collected so you can learn from the best.

ChannelFireball.com: Matt Costa (@mattccosta)- Pantheon Testing – Magic 2015 Limited Stats

One of the most valuable aspects of testing for a Pro Tour with a big team is extensive draft preparation against some of the best players in the world. Each day the Pantheon would fire a draft pod that would make any PT coverage reporter jealous.

Finkel. Duke. Jensen. Parke. Turtenwald. Black. Rietzl. Martell.

Yes, that's the lineup of house draft number 14.

One thing I did a bit differently for this Pro Tour was that I kept statistics in an Excel spreadsheet to get a bit of a holistic perspective on draft. The spreadsheet was designed to track individual win rates, but also the win percentages of different colors, color combinations, and strategies...

In this article, I'll display some of the baseline stats I collected over 16 total house drafts, and then talk a bit about my observations on each of the colors and archetypes.


On Cutting Wasteland

Is Wasteland still an autoinclude? It's certainly powerful; format-defining even. But is it fundamentally necessary to Delver of Secrets decks? Caleb Durward isn't so sure anymore.

ChannelFireball.com: Caleb Durward (@CalebDMTG) - On Reconsidering Wasteland and Pyromancer Brews

Wasteland has been a four-of in every Delver variant since forever. It's a sacred cow, completely uncuttable.

Except there are no sacred cows. Remember when people didn't board out Force of Will until there was a flood of articles explaining why and where it was correct? And then there's Brainstorm, a card I left out of UG Survival to up the creature count for Survival and Vengevine.

It's not like tempo decks have always played Wasteland. Back in the day, four-color Thresh variants played 14-15 land, Waste-free. In the extra slots they just had more disruption.

On MTGO, some are playing Vintage but don't have Wastes. They're playing disruption-filled aggro-control decks, decks that would usually want the card, but instead they have more of another type of disruption or more gas and that's just fine.

I understand that Vintage is its own world, but it got me questioning my base assumptions.

The issue came up the other night while playing a Grixis Tempo mirror. Our lists were almost identical, the key difference being that I didn't have Wastelands on MTGO and my "budget" version had four more business spells. Our cards traded, and once we reached topdeck mode I was able to out-attrition him.

Just one match, but tempo mirrors often turn into grindfests due to all the one-for-one disruption. If it reaches the mid-game, the deck with the better topdecks is advantaged.


If you have suggestions for next week's recap you can mention us on Twitter, or share throughout the week in the comments below.


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