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Great Magic Writing of the Week

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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 Creating Magic

There are a lot of important decisions made in Magic creative that lead to the incredibly evocative and cohesive art and stories we get to see set after set. Many of those decisions are made by Jeremy Jarvis and the rest of the Magic creative team. This week, Mike Linnemann gets to fulfill one of his long-time goals as a Vorthos writer: he got to sit down with Jeremy Jarvis and ask him a series of questions about the process of creating Magic

GatheringMagic.com: Mike Linnemann (@vorthosmike) - An Interview with Jeremy Jarvis

I’ve been writing a little while here, talking about Magic, its art, and how flavor makes an impact on the game. Since I began writing more or less weekly since 2011, I’ve had a few things that I haven’t been able to land. One near the top is an interview with a Magic art director. To be fair, I haven’t been pestering the creative managers, brand folks, or PR people as much as I could’ve, but regardless, I’d dust off a proposal and resend to them when I could. Receiving a Vorthos-type preview card is also in that dusty pile.

For those of you who don’t know who art directors are, they’re the ones who commission artists to make the visual worlds we play in. The most notable is senior art director of Magic Jeremy Jarvis. While there are other art directors, from the stellar marketing art directors like Matt Cavotta—working with the graphical elements from booster box colors to all sorts of product stuff—to Dungeons & Dragons art directors—who help out with Magic from time to time—Jeremy is the go-to Magic guy who can give artists their big breaks or allow them to paint something magnificent. To say illustrating your first card is a big deal is the understatement of a fantasy painter’s career. In a sense, it’s a legitimization of one’s ability. When Jeremy knows about you and calls you, you can get a pat on the back because you have an instant following, and fans will look you up before every convention you attend.

I always scour for whenever Jeremy writes for the Mothership. I’d check his archive here. The Planeswalker’s Guides articles are basically a committee approach, easing up some of the massive style-guide explanations of what he could write. If you’re even remotely interested in Vorthos things such as art direction and use of symbols, you need to read his ten articles. As for him, there has been one article, long ago, giving some insight into Jeremy, and that can be foundhere.

In short, he is an incredible art director, is entertaining as hell in person, and has made some incredible art. He was in Spectum’s annual art book for these two images: Reverse the Sands and Loxodon Warhammer. Kind of a big deal.

Onward to the interview questions!


On Magic Online

The state of Magic Online is polarizing to say the least. Questions have been raised about whether the software is a step forward or back, the quality of user experiences, and what the future holds for Magic Online. Heather Lafferty thinks it's time for a frank discussion about what's wrong, what is being done, and how things can improve in the future. It's time for #JustV4Things.

GatheringMagic.com: Heather Lafferty (@revisedangel) - 20 Tweets: Just V4 Things

 When it comes to content, Magic is king. No one communicates, breaks down, shares, and inspires like the Magiccommunity. We have shot-callers like Mike Flores and Brian Kibler who have been promoting, playing, talking and writing about Magic practically their whole adult lives. We have streamers galore: the one and only LSV, Community Cup Champion Scotty MacCallum, and the king of Limited Marshall Sutcliffe. We have podcasters who have been sharing their lives, knowledge, and joy of Magic literally for years. Mini Magic empires have sprouted forth from the very bowels of the Internet to give millions of hungry Magic fans every bit of information they can assimilate. Sites—like this very one you are reading—have given voices to countless unknown artist, players, writers, and more so we can collectively build and learn from each other. All this has been done because we love you and Magic. We love just about everything about you. Most of these things have been done for free or practically for free. How awesome are these people who love Magic and how hard they work for you.It’s time you use this vast network of minutemen and women who stand ready to run and spread the good news. It’s time to start talking. It’s time to deliver a State of the Union regarding Magic Online. Pick a podcast. Pick a stream. Pick a site. Pick a person. Visit them all. Go on a press tour. Explain yourself. Explain what is in store for the people and game I love. Tell them you are sorry—sorry you let them down, that Magic Online isn’t what they need it to be. Tell them you will do better. Tell them how. Tell them how you are hiring as fast as your can; tell them something. Get out there. Make it better. Because this hashtag is a thing: #JustV4Things.


On Magic Storytelling

Magic's stories have been told in a myriad of ways since the game first began. Flavor text, comics, books, novellas, articles, and more. The characters and flavor have always been a big part of the experience of Magic, and as media has been evolving, so has the way Magic has told stories. In light of the end of Magic novellas, John Dale Beety takes some time to review all the ways we've shared in the trials and tribulations of Urza, Teferi, Gerrard, Jace, Elspeth, and many more. Where will we hear the stories of the next awesome Planeswalkers? There's only one way to find out.

StarCityGames.com: John Dale Beety (@jdbeety) - Media and Messages

RIP, Magic e-books.

Note that I did not say "RIP Magic storytelling," because it's far from dead. Magic has told stories through cards and other media since March 1994, when a set called Antiquities introduced the world to a couple of brothers named Urza and Mishra.

Why Antiquities? The Gathering (as the first Magic set was envisioned before "The Gathering" became part of the game's official title) had no cohesive storyline, and Arabian Nights borrowed from the classic work of literature andthe "Ramadan" issue of Neil Gaiman's Sandman but similarly had no plot thread.

The Wikipedia page on Magic storylines is a bit out-of-date (no mention of the Return to Ravnica /Theros e-books or the IDW comics series), but it does give an idea of the breadth of non-card Magic storytelling through the years. As the 20th anniversary of the first Magic novel approaches, it's worth examining how various media have been used to tell stories, abandoned, and returned to over time.


On Drafting Myths

Even experienced players fall into these five drafting pitfalls. Step up your Limited game with these tips from Jacob Wilson on everything from sideboarding to your choice to play or draw.

ChannelFireball.com: Jacob Wilson (@JacobWilson95) - Five Myths about Drafting

Draft is widely considered to be the most skill-testing form of Magic. Old school pros will occasionally show up to a Pro Tour after taking a break and dominate draft like they have not missed a beat. Because of the sheer number of variables and decisions faced in a draft people who make superior picks and decisions have their advantage compounded over weaker players. Some commonly-accepted Limited concepts are faulty, but they persist nonetheless.


On TCGPlayer Life

What's it like to work at TCGPlayer in Syracuse? Jon Corpora shares the story of his first week in his usual, rambling fashion. The details aren't important. It's the people and the story that matter, and Jon is still a fantastic storyteller.

Magic.TCGPlayer.com: Jon Corpora (@feb31st) - Week 0 - The Upkeep

You are reading the inaugural edition of a column that aims to give you a little sneak peek into what it's like to work at TCGplayer - rubbing elbows with attorneys in the elevator, crowding around Alex's computer at 10 o'clock sharp every morning to see what today's special is in the cafe downstairs, right down to which janitor will be there what days when you leave. No detail will be overlooked.

Some anecdotes about Magic Culture, and even the occasional tournament report, will inevitably find their way to this space. Oftentimes, playing Magic can have Diminishing Returns. It's at these times that people talk about Magic instead. You can generally count on eschewing that here, as we'll go straight to the very meta activity of talking about talking about Magic: the Gathering. It'll be just as fun as it sounds.


Delving into Khans

The Sultai Treasure Cruise is headed into town, and Sidisi's minions are ready to collect. Start delving into the story and flavor of Khans of Tarkir with this gripping story of Taigam's treachery and rise to power. Who is the advisor of the Brood Tyrant? This is your chance to find out.

DailyMTG.com: Matt Knicl - Taigam's Scheming

The Marang River flowed through Sultai territory, deep into the jungle and around many of their most illustrious palaces. Along the river, far from these palaces, were less regal settlements—homes of farmers and fishermen, built on raised wooden stilts and platforms. Although the marshy jungle was inhospitable to most, some had found the means to make a living, but only enough to scrape by. Their stomachs were as empty as their purses, and the small town of Kishla was in debt to the Sultai. They couldn't remember if it was for taxes or outright extortion, but they knew that Sidisi's Hand was there to collect. What the town could call its leadership was a small group of men and women who only were forced to get together and congregate when dealing with the Sultai.

The vessel pulled up to the dock. It moved slowly, and the village leaders could see the ropes from the ship's bow leading into the water. The water there was shallow enough they could see the undead sibsig servants pulling the ship, some of their heads partially above the waterline. Many of them had once lived in the village they were visiting. One of the younger leaders retched off the side of the dock. The others kept their composure, having dealt with the Sultai in the past. In contrast to the sibsig, the vessel itself was opulent and covered in gold. A light breeze brought the smell of perfume and spices to the leaders. A human Sultai enforcer lowered the gangplank for the leaders to enter the ship and head belowdecks.


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