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Great Magic Writing of the Week, April 6

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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 Magical Matrimony

Magic is an awesome game. Everyone plays for different reasons and experiences the game in a different way. The one thing that's the same is how passionate people are about their Magic cards. This week, Tifa and Mike Robles gave us an inside look at one of the only weddings to need its own tournament organizer. From Magic-themed placemarkers to decorations to favors, this celebration shows just how important the game can be in our lives. Congratulations and best wishes to Mike and Tifa Robles!

GatheringMagic.com: Mike & Tifa Robles (@michaelrobles and @TifaRobles) - Gathering Magic Wedding

Magic: The Gathering is known for bringing people together. There have been countless Magic cards with marriage proposals and Magic-themed dates, and both of us have a friend who brought a binder full of Magic cards with floral artwork to a date as his “bouquet of flowers.” People who play Magic are very passionate about the game, and it shows in just about every aspect of their lives. When we became engaged, we knew that Magic had influenced us so much that it was going to be a huge part of our wedding.


On Altering Azusa

What goes in to altering cards? After three years, extensions and other minor alterations are something that MJ is comfortable with. What she really loves is the creative process of original full alterations. In this article, MJ walks you through every step along the way from original request to final product. If you want to know what goes into some of MJ's awesome alters, take a look inside.

GatheringMagic.com: MJ Scott (@moxymtg)- Alter Workshop: Azusa Full Art

I’ve been altering cards for about three years now. In this article, I walk through the steps from initial inquiry to finished alter. I’ve heard there are great tutorial videos on altering out there on YouTube, and I got started through the tips and how-to’s Jeremy Froggatt and Eric Klug put out back in the day. Other than that, I’m self-taught. I did well in art class in high school, and I took some art school classes, but I never had a formal education. This article will give you an idea of the time commitment in my process of creating original alter art, and if you’re new to the craft of altering and are interested, it should have some useful tidbits to give you a jumping-off point.

Full art replacement Mayael the Anima

While it’s a blast to get rowdy with extensions and partial replacements, my favoritest thing to do is original, full-art replacements on cards I love. This commission definitely fit the bill, so you can imagine how excited I was.

@CarlsonJJ: I'd definitely like a full replacement of the Azusa art. Something bright, colorful, lots of magic and plants?

Hurray! A unique take on Azusa, from scratch. Right up my alley. Plus, Azusa is such a badass lady in both Modern and Commander. I’d done an Azusa extension before and really enjoyed it—jumping in and swimming naked in the warm waters of her effulgent green fire and all that—but I’d never done an Azusa full art. My next move was to e-mail Joshua with a few questions that would help me develop his concept.


On Lore

Has it really been four years since Zendikar first printed? Time keeps moving and Magic sets keep rotating. In the new Forgotten Lore series, Evan Erwin delves into the history of Magic sets, covering the design process, flagship cards, and stories from the design, development, and early days of Zendikar block.

StarCityGames.com: Evan Erwin (@misterorange) - Forgotten Lore: Zendikar


On Dining in Phoenix

Are you looking to grab a quick meal at #GPPHX this week? Maybe you want something nicer once the day's battles are over. Either way, Pro Tour standby and food enthusiast David Ochoa has got you covered with this rundown of his picks for the best and most convenient food in Phoenix. With his typical combination of wit, attention to detail, and passion for gastronomy, this is something that I certainly hope we see more of in the future.

ChannelFireball.com: David Ochoa (@_DavidOchoa) - Grand Prix Phoenix Dining Guide

So where/what do you want to eat?

A phrase heard all too often after a long day playing Magic. Such a basic question can be so difficult to answer depending on various factors, most often influenced by the time of day and number of people eating. Once you’ve managed to jump over those hurdles, you’re left trying to figure out a suitable restaurant while watching the battery life on your phone slowly dwindle away one scrumptious benedict photo at a time. Decisions can be hard, but fear not, for there is a helpful guide to light the way to satisfaction.

All too often I’ve found myself in a city for the first time, hungry, with a bunch of friends, and everyone is looking at me for a "sweet place to eat." I’d somehow acquired the reputation of being a foodie. I’m not really sure how that happened, but in any case, there may be a few other people who may be able to relate. Regardless of how much you love food, you may find yourself visiting Phoenix for the upcoming Grand Prix, and if you’re anything like the rest of us, you’ll probably have to eat at some point along the way.


On Difficulty

What makes decks easy or hard to play? How do you know when something is too hard, or would take too long to learn? This week Paulo tries to quantify and analyze what makes different decks and formats more or less difficult than one another with some help from the professional Magic community.

ChannelFireball.com: Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa (@PVDDR)- Hard Decks

Hello!

A couple days before PT Born of the Gods, I found myself without a deck. Since I didn’t like anything, I decided to go with one of the team decks—Scapeshift or Affinity. I picked Affinity up to play a couple games and EFro told me that with the very limited time that I had, he didn’t think I could learn to play Affinity at a good enough level, so I probably should not play it.

I think he was right. I consider myself a very good player, but I also consider Affinity a very complicated deck, and one I’m not used to, so I knew wouldn’t be able to play it at a satisfactory level. I thought Affinity might have been the better deck, but I played Scapeshift anyway because that deck was easier and, with little practice, I thought I would do better.

This requires two different assessments—first, I need to know my strengths and my limits. I would have played, for example, UWR on a whim, because I’ve played this kind of deck before and I’m good with it; not so much with Affinity. Second, I need to know how hard the deck is to play properly and what kind of skills it requires. I need to know that my skills with, say, Faeries, will not translate into skills with Affinity, whereas they would maybe help me if I was playing something like Merfolk. Much is written about the first assessment, but the second is rarely mentioned, as if it’s not important—but it is very important.


On Expense

In contemporary Magic we expect a lot from our expensive cards. The bar is generally set at four mana. We want to sweep the board for four mana. We want Planeswalkers that can single-handedly take over a game. Creatures like Hero of Bladehold or Linvala, Keeper of Silence that can end games on the spot. If that's the baseline at four mana, what do we expect from higher casting costs? How do you know if a card is worth it? Mike Flores tries to answer these questions and more as he revisits his thoughts on casting costs.

DailyMTG.com: Mike Flores (@fivewithflores)- [More] Expensive Casting Costs

Whip of Erebos... Erebos, God of the Dead... Chandra, Pyromaster... you can probably rattle off a list as long as your arm of four-mana spells capable of winning games on their own. We already know that good four-mana spells are often very good.

This is an article about more expensive spells; that is, largely more expensive than four mana. Which are the ones worth playing? When should you play them? How do they differentiate themselves from cards that "merely" cost four—that are already at the end-point of what should be capable of winning the game?


 

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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