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Great Magic Writing of the Week, November 3rd


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!


Are you thinking of making your way out to Grand Prix Albuquerque? Then prepare for your trip with Mark Nemeth's guide to everything from transportation and food to sightseeing and museums. Need to know what resources are available near the tournament site? Where to get the best local foods? Things to do before you leave New Mexico? Mark covers everything you need to know before you head to Albuquerque.

GatheringMagic.com: Mark Nemeth with contributions from Roberto Gonzales and Dagny Cosby - Grand Prix Albuquerque Visitors' Guide

Welcome to the first ever Grand Prix in Albuquerque! The local Magic scene is excited to host such a big event, and we all want visitors to enjoy themselves in our fair city.

On Writing Flavor Text

What goes on behind the scenes to bring Magic Flavor Text to life? MJ was a part of the Theros flavor text team, and she's giving you a look behind the curtain. Join MJ for her flavor text writer's workshop:

GatheringMagic.com: MJ Scott (@moxymtg) - Flavor Writer's Workshop

I was screaming. It was an unattractive mix of anima and testosterone, straight from the mouth of a banshee pro wrestler doing a touchdown dance in the end zone of hell. Then I wept.

All for joy, and all because of an e-mail: Would you be interested in submitting flavor text as part of the writing team for . . .

I’ve written all my life, but I never accepted being a writer until very recently. As a young kid, I wanted to call myself A Writer. Enter the educational system. Who encourages third graders to write seriously? In middle school, everything you do well earns you the vitriol of your peers, so writing was embarrassing. In high school, I did a lot of work on the school paper, which made writing unfun. Then was college—the death knell. Writing suddenly seemed like a means to a degree, an endless procession of term papers I didn’t care about. Writing was the province of hipsters in coffee shops, interminably “working” on their “novels” while they uploaded pictures to MySpace.

GatheringMagic was the first step. I started to believe in my ability to communicate with the support of the great editors and readers on this site. And then, when I tested into the opportunity to submit flavor text as a freelancer for the Creative Team, it represented another level up in my self-opinion. I had to believe—or why waste Wizards’s time considering my work for print?

On Road Tripping

Sometimes a Magic road trip is to a Grand Prix or similar large event. Sometimes it's just to see a friend and a card shop. Bennie Smith shares the story of his road trip to the headquarters of StarCityGames in Roanoke Virginia:

StarCityGames.com: Bennie Smith (@blairwitchgreen) - A Long Overdue Pilgrimage

Not long ago, I realized I had a ton of vacation time I'd neglected to use throughout the year. For my full-time job, I'm the only guy that does what I do in the company, so when I take time off from work there's no one there to pick up the slack—the work just piles up and waits for me. There's always a ton of stuff for me to do, so when I take time off there's always a part of me that frets about what's accumulating while I'm gone... so given that disincentive, plus the fairly generous vacation days awarded to me for being with the company for so long, the days can stack up by the time the end of the year rolls around.

So I finally had to buckle down and figure out how to burn the time. As I was looking at the calendar and looking at various possibilities, it occurred to me that perhaps I could use a couple days to drive to Roanoke, Virginia and visit the home office of StarCityGames.com. If you read the column I wrote back in July – 1.5 Million Words: A Magic Life – you'll know that my whole Magic-writing career was jumpstarted by being one of the first batch of writers recruited to write content for a new website launched by Star City Games. I'd known Pete Hoefling for a couple of years before that by bumping into him at a few Magic tournaments, and had gone to a few PTQs he hosted at his then-relatively-small comics and games shop. Over the years, I'd made the trip to Roanoke for tournaments and watched as they moved to a bigger space as both their online presence and Organized Play division grew and grew. But constraints on my time and having issues with reliable transportation made taking the considerable trek to the western part of Virginia something that didn't really make sense over the past few years. Thinking back, the memorial tournament held in honor of Richie Proffitt back in 2008 (I wrote about it here and here) might have been the last time I made it out there. To put that on the Magic timeline, the last time I travelled to Roanoke, Eventide boosters were on the shelves. Shards of Alara, Zendikar, Scars of Mirrodin, Innistrad, and Return to Ravnica Blocks have all come out since then.

Yeah, a trip to Roanoke was long overdue.

On Commander 2013

Five preconstructed decks. Ten new Commanders. Infinite possibilities. Sheldon Menery runs down what he thinks of all the new cards in the Commander 2013 product and gives you an idea of which ones you can expect to face down at your local Commander games.

StarCityGames.com: Sheldon Menery (@ SheldonMenery) - Commander 2013

This Friday, in game shops all over the world, players will be tearing open the long-anticipated Commander 2013 decks, ready to use them as blueprints to embrace all new kinds of chaos. It's stocked with old favorites and hidden gems from sets all across Magic's history, and designed to include some cards that weren't widely available when they were printed. Let's take a look at the cards we'll be playing with starting this weekend. My main focus will be on covering the 51 new cards that are in the set, but where appropriate we'll make mention of some of those reprinted returning favorites.

On The Deckbuilding Process

What's the best way to build Commander decks? Bruce Richard celebrates Commander Week by giving you a look into his creative process for building awesome Commander decks. Let Bruce help you get ready for some Serious Fun with Commander 2013:

DailyMTG.com: Bruce Richard (@manaburned) - It's a Process

When planning for Commander Week's article, I knew I wanted to do something different. It isn't often you get a theme week that is so focused on casual Magic, so I knew I wanted to do something special. Adam Styborski and I brainstormed and we decided we would each build a deck with a new commander. This in itself is not all that exciting, but we want to take this opportunity to showcase different deck-building styles. I'll lay out my deck-building style and you'll get the chance to compare it to what the Stybs displays for all of us on Thursday.

My deck-building style, particularly when it comes to Commander, is strongly influenced by Brandon Isleib. Brandon, myself, and Daryl Bockett were all part of the StarCityGames Talent Search several years ago. We all enjoyed writing and weren't really ready to stop, so we started our own site, the now-defunct Muse Vessel, and published articles every week for a year.1 It was during this time that I read about Brandon's deck-building "formula" and later applied it to my deck building. I'm not going to tell you that I built a powerhouse deck and now I never lose. I did build a solid deck that was a lot of fun to play. I've used the same formula to good effect since then, so I thought I would share it. I've broken it down into three easy steps, because every good idea can be implemented in three easy steps.

On Midrange

Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa wraps up his series of articles on Magic archetypes by taking a look at the popular midrange archetype. Where did this archetype originate and why has it become so much popular recently? Paulo shares the ins and outs of midrange creature strategies based his his experiences on Magic's biggest stages.

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


A while ago, I wrote articles on AggroControlCombo and Aggro-Control. Today I’m going to expand on that and write about an archetype that has become increasingly popular and increasingly better—midrange.

There are many ways to define a “midrange” deck, and if your definition is different than mine, it’s not a big deal—the principle is what counts here. In my mind, a midrange deck is a deck with creatures, except that those creatures don’t necessarily try to kill your opponent very quickly—they try to outclass what your opponent is doing. It’s an aggro deck but bigger; instead of running a bunch of 2/2s for 1, it runs 5/5s for 4. It’s a control deck, except it has creatures instead of spells; instead of playing Wrath of God and killing their creatures, it aims to play a 4/4, and then a 5/5, which effectively kills their creatures because they can’t really do anything with them anymore.

Historically speaking, midrange decks have been much-maligned, including by me. This reputation is not exactly fair—it comes from some sort of Selective Memory where I only remember the bad midrange decks and then pass the good ones off as “aggro decks of some sort.” There is no denying, however, that midrange decks have gotten better through the years—a function of permanents getting better and the printing of planeswalkers.

Throughout history, we’ve had many successful midrange decks. I can’t tell you what the first one was, but the most iconic midrange deck nowadays is probably Jund. Lately we’ve had Jund decks in Standard, Modern, and even Legacy:

On Statistics

How is the Theros Standard metagame shaping up? Josh breaks down Magic Online results by the numbers, looking at how fast the format is, the top archetypes, and which decks are over- or under-represented. Arm yourself with knowledge before your next Standard event:

ChannelFireball.com: Josh Silvestri - Stats

This week is a Magic Online extravaganza where we talk about all the wonderful data replays provide us with. In this case my friend and stats guy Rolle provided me with a ton of useful data for both Standard and Theros Draft. Today we’ll be breaking down that data and seeing where the online metagame differs

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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