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Great Magic Writing of the Week, September 28

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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 Judging Flavor

Court is in session. A. E. Marling is the Flavor Judge, ready to issue punishments or flavor violations of all kinds. If you've got a flavor question, whether it's about mixing guilds, mechanics, or the appropriate art for a particular cards, A E. Marling is ready to settle any and all flavor disputes, once and for all.

GatheringMagic.com: A. E. Marling (@AEMarling) - Ask the Judge, the Flavor Judge

 There are over thirteen thousand cards in Magic, and you chose one with terrible flavor. Don’t just throw bomb after bomb into your casual deck. Instead, garnish the applause of your fellow players with discerning choices. In this weekly column, Level 20 Flavor Judge A.E. Marling answers your urgent questions concerning style and panache in Commander.


On Change

Change is never easy, but we can certainly try to make it go more smoothly. This week Natasha discusses the progression of change, from motivation to completion, and how we can apply this knowledge to adjust and improve our Magical game.

GatheringMagic.com: Natasha Lewis Harrington (@natasha_lh) - Contemplating Change

Going through change is difficult. Changing ourselves, our behavior, is particularly so.

A lot of our performance in Magic (or writing, or athletics, or any other area of accomplishment) is about skill. It’s about learning the relevant information and using that information to understand and solve the problems that we are facing. It’s about having the answers to complex decisions—block or don’t block? Seventeen lands or eighteen? Use the removal or hold it?—at our fingertips.

But much of our performance is based on things that no amount of strategy and information can change: missing land drops because we’re exhausted, letting our attention wander during easy matchups, not practicing enough. These are things we know we shouldn’t do (or should do and don’t) but that somehow keep holding us back.


On Communal Commander

What happens when you take to Twitter for your deckbuilding? That's exactly what Heather did this week. Armed with nothing but a Commander and confidence in her followers, Heather set off to make a unique deck that was truly the result of a community effort. Based on nothing but your suggestion, this is what she came up with:

GatheringMagic.com: Heather Lafferty (@revisedangel) - Do You Want to Build a Snowman: Narset

Every week, I take to Twitter to use and abuse my friends and followers with questions about rules and interactions. My Twitter peeps are the actual awesome. They put up with my durdle questions week after week and keep coming back for more. This got me thinking . . . I need to build a Commander deck in honor of all my amazing Twitter buds, and I need to do it with their help. I knew without a doubt my colors and commander would be from my clan of Jeskai.

So, with that determined, there was only real choice: Narset, Enlightened Master.

I started with a base list of about fifteen cards I knew would be must-haves, such as Sol Ring, fetch lands, and so on. Then, I took to Twitter and asked people if they wanted to help me build a snowman! I offered no real guidance other than that we would be building a Narset, Enlightened Master deck. What follows is a depiction of real-life Twitter deck-building as it happened by people touched by Magic.


On Brewing with Dredge

Dredge is just one mechanic, but there are dozens of ways to build around it in Modern. From Vengevine and Gravecrawler to Haakon, Stromgald Scouge and Knight of the Reliquary, there are all kinds of ways to play out of the graveyard. This week Glenn Jones runs down a few of his favorite interactions just in time for the archetype to get a boost from Khans of Tarkir's Sultai Brood.

StarCityGames.com: Glenn Jones (@SecludedGlenn) - On a Boat in Modern

Brad and David Ochoa managed double Top 8s at Nationals in 2010 playing this beloved strategy. Standard Dredgevine was just a very sweet deck--summoning a bunch of Vengevines and gaining value out of the graveyard was fun in a relatively new way for Standard.

It was a deck I kept an eye on in Modern for a while. Enclave Cryptologist, Magus of the Bazaar, and Fauna Shaman aren't especially sturdy crutches in a format defined by Lightning Bolt and Snapcaster Mage, and Path to Exile made Vengevine much less powerful. The deck didn't scale especially well and has enjoyed limited success, to put it generously.

Following the printing of Deathrite Shaman and the reprinting of Scavenging Ooze, all appeared to be lost.

Well, one down, at least.

Dredgevine has continued to exist and languish as a rogue strategy in the format. However, I've got a feeling that Khans may be precisely what the Lich Lord ordered. The new delve cards are very powerful, and Wizards has clearly priced the mechanic to generate interest at the Standard level.

As we all know, anything Standard decks can do, Modern can do better.


On Vintage

Vintage Master brought Vintage to Magic Online and into the attention of average Magic players. Suddenly more players have access to the Power Nine, and the format has begun to be played more regularly, and evolve more rapidly. Can you imagine a better introduction to the Vintage format than to watch ten champions of the format and fantastic Magic players battling week after week? This is the Vintage Super League.

DailyMTG.com: Jacob Van Lunen (@JVLTMS) - Vintage Super League

Vintage has waned in popularity over the years because of card availability. It's hard to find eight people who have access to cards like Black Lotus on any given day. That's all changed on Magic Online, though. Vintage Masters gave people access to the Power Nine and, suddenly, Vintage is alive and well as a format on Magic Online. The sheer number of Vintage games being played right now has massively increased the velocity with which the format is evolving.

Magic Online streaming has also become more popular over the last year. In my opinion, the most exciting weekly stream is the Vintage Super League that's being run by Pro Tour Hall of Famer Randy Buehler.

Vintage Super League unites ten high-profile Magic players in a weekly Magic Online event wherein players battle each other while the match is commentated by two of the other players. Vintage Super League consistently provides us with a high-profile game of Magic. All ten players are all-time greats, Pro Tour staples, or legitimate Vintage Masters. Vintage is easily one of the most complex formats ever, and observing the beauty with which the players navigate each game is always a treat.

Let's take a look at the players involved in Vintage Super League.


On Grand Prix

How good are you at Magic and what does that mean about your expectations from a Grand Prix? Frank Karsten takes a look at how the growing attendance has changed the expected value for players of varying win rates. Frank Karsten brings you more Magic by the numbers with full analysis of the results.

ChannelFireball.com: Frank Karsten (@karsten_frank) - What is the EV of Playing a GP?

How much can you expect to earn on average at a Grand Prix tournament? What is the likelihood of earning a qualification for the Pro Tour? And how do these things depend on your match win rate, your number of byes, and the size of the Grand Prix? Let's do some analysis!


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