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Great Magic Writing of the Week, May 19

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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 Community and Maturation

When any community starts growing bigger and more diverse, there are bound to be growing pains, and the Magic community has been growing in leaps and bounds in recent years. We've had plenty of articles about how different social groups are treated in the Magic community. This week Jon Corpora shares an experience of his that illustrates this issue, and talks about what needs to happen to fix it.

The thing is, Jon's article is different than most on this subject. He approaches this from a point of shared responsibility rather than assigning blame, and of cooperative, constructive improvement rather than mutually destructive behaviors.

ChannelFireball.com: Jon Corpora (@feb31st) - Winds of Change

The recent conversation about gender equality in the Magic community has gotten, for lack of a better term, stuffy. Recent scores of guys espousing “real talk,” be it on Twitter or elsewhere, is a reaction to this. Finding a middle ground between ignorance and irreverence is more complicated than ever, but then again, you could say that at any time in history and be correct.

Magic’s player base is maturing. Stuff like Mark Justice’s revolt at PT-LA in ’97 is interesting to hear about now because it’s impossible to imagine it happening now. For better or worse, today’s pros are a bit more calculated in their actions, realizing that Magic looking professional is in their best interests, and that while leading a player mutiny can be very satisfying in the short term, it’s probably in the best interests of the Magic brand to not play host to open player rebellion. These days, cooler heads prevail.

As with all things, with maturation comes different responsibilities. Now that Magic’s maturing, a higher code of conduct gets placed on the shoulders of the players. I like to think that I associate with the kind of people that either don’t mind these responsibilities or just don’t notice them altogether. That’s not to say that there’s a considerably high amount of people that do mind these adjusted expectations. Before, Magic was a refuge from political correctness, where you could be as crass as you wanted. As more players from increasingly diverse walks of life discover the game, though, this once small, predominantly white male hamlet becomes more diverse.


On Theft

As Magic has become bigger and bigger, the value of cards has only gone up. When thousands of players show up to a Grand Prix, each  bringing with them hundreds or thousands of dollars in cardboard, there are going to be those who try to take advantage. In this article, Michael Martin talks about the why of theft, as well as what we can do as a individuals and as a community to prevent it.

StarCityGames.com: Michael Martin (@mikemartinlfs) - Theft: The Game Has Changed

We learn that Magic tournaments are places we can let our guard down; we can trust these people, even if we don't consciously realize it. We play with them at our kitchen tables, and we spend hours with them at the local store. Even if we don't know the people around us personally, usually they know people that we know, so in a way we're all part of one network of friends—we're a community. We don't consider theft as even a possibility (at least, we didn't) since we know we're just going to the Magic tournament.

The game has changed, though.

Now these cards are worth money. When money gets involved, you tend to see the worst in people. We are no longer carrying around the equivalent of bubble-gum baseball cards; we're carrying around enough value to pay for entire houses and cars. We're slightly lucky that our community is small enough so that regular criminals don't understand the value that lies within the bags we carry. They only see cards used for a "silly hobby." However, if a person who has the propensity to perform criminal acts is a Magic player, they very much understand the potential value that lies within our bags.

That is where things go south. Quickly.


On Slivers

Magic: 2014 has brought with it the return of Slivers; but these new additions to the Hive are quite different than those we've become familiar with in TempestLegions, and Time Spiral. Is that necessarily bad? John Dale Beety looks at the mechanical and flavorful justifications and ramifications of these changes to Slivers.

StarCityGames.com: John Dale Beety (@jdbeety) - Sliverlicious

Slivers are returning for Magic 2014. These Slivers are different. The differences have been controversial, and there have been reactions and reactions to the reactions.

If this were only a screed about how "Slivers have changed and now I don't like them," I wouldn't have bothered writing it. Instead I'll be looking at the history of these little beasties, how they've changed over each incarnation, and what justifications there are for the Magic 2014 versions—at least what's been released publicly. Mark Rosewater's history of Sliver design (up to 2004, when he wrote it) is essential reading for the mechanical side; with my Vorthos proclivities, I'll be looking more at the creative end.


On What's Important

Everyone goes into a game of Commander looking for something different, and each individual builds their deck to accomplish something different. In this article, Adam delves into part of what makes Commander so special - uniqueness of importance. Each player gets to decide what is important to them and build decks that emphasize those preferences. You can prioritize control elements, Voltron elements, Vorthos-y elements, and each of those will create a unique gameplay experience. This format can be many things to many players because we can bring together our unique decks and expectations and create a new, complex social interaction that (hopefully!) ends with everyone leaving the table satisfied.

DailyMTG.com: Adam Styborski (@the_stybs) - What's Truly Important

I have an idea about what's important in Commander. My preferences and desires, iterated over years of decks, led me to believe it. But that's a tricky place to be. What I, or you, or any individual thinks about Commander isn't the whole story. In fact, most of us will have something quite different to say about the importance of things for the format. That's the danger of declaring things that seem true: "Real truth" is multiple truths existing simultaneously.

Simply put, what's important for someone may not even matter to you.


On #GPPort

Last weekend MJ Scott put on her Teysa face and headed off to Grand Prix Portland. While she was there, she captured some of the awesome sights, personalities, and events that happen over the course of a Grand Prix weekend on film. If you want to know what the Grand Prix experience is like or just want to see what happens besides what's under the feature match camera, join MJ for a trip to Portland.

GatheringMagic.com: MJ Scott (@moxymtg) - #GPPort Photo Diary


On Pro Tour Dragon's Maze

It's the Pro Tour weekend, and James Arnold has assembled another awesome infographic, this time showing you who the key players and countries heading into the event. Our Top 8 is locked up now, but if you want an easy way to stay on top of the movers and shakers in the Pro Magic community, James' Pro Tour updates are a great choice.

GatheringMagic.com: James Arnold (@thatguyjames2) - Pro Tour Dragon's Maze Infographic


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

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