I didn’t like podcasts . . .
I found them longwinded—filled with unapproachable inside jokes and content that rambled for much longer than needed. Add a pint of liquid bread, and listening to a bloated, two-hour cast felt like an utter chore to me. I’ve felt this way for years, with one podcast not only shaping my Vorthos worldview, but also pigeonholing an entire area of media content.
I should love podcasts.
They were, after all, the reason I returned to Magic. While I previously said that living near a gaming store was the catalyst, and while they got me playing regularly, that was not the seminal reason I returned to the game.
I remember the exact date vividly.
A week before the prerelease for Future Sight, a podcast came out by Wizards of the Coast that had art director Jeremy Jarvis on it, explaining visual and design elements in the set. This is 2007. This was a transitional time of sorts, between the old guard of previous art director Jeremy Cranford and that of Jeremy Jarvis, radically changing the aesthetics of the game forever. To this day, it’s the best podcast I’ve ever heard, and you don’t need to listen past twenty minutes. Really. I simply cannot find it online anymore, so here is an .mp3 that used to be on the mothership:
Jake Theis was a brand manager and host of the podcast. Later, he became a creative manager for Wizards of the Coast in the mid-2000s, only to leave shortly thereafter. I came back into Magic at this time, noticing a pretty major visual shift in Future Sight. And I have been here since. This is where I began as a formal Vorthos.
Jeremy brought me back into the game with a podcast.
Those Rants Tho . . .
This time, in 2007, is when the Mending happened. For those of you more interested in art and podcasts than storyline, I’ll summarize. They closed the door on all older Planeswalkers, nerfing their powers such that they would be able to print Planeswalker cards. These new Planeswalkers—Jace, Chandra, and friends—were less powerful and were dubbed Neo-Walkers, or Bradywalkers, referencing Brady Dommermuth, Creative Director at the time.
In short, Vorthoses around the world were livid.
They invested years of loving Planeswalkers, dressing as those character, having alterations and play mats of them, while writing fan fiction of them only to see them be cast aside or killed in literally a year!
Many things happened very quickly. Responses were written, and the Vorthos community of art and storyline lovers became a hatedom. It was not a pleasant time. Threats were made to Creative Team members for changing what they loved of the game. It became serious and thus began the slide of Gleemax into the current mothership forums. That requires another article, but suffice it to say, when I listened, with eager ears, to one podcast, I turned my back on my fellow Vorthoses.
Phyrexia.com was the site where we congregated. Due to the hatred, we community-minded Vorthoses who were not furious angry went elsewhere. For two years, I disengaged with that community.
In 2009, I listened to four podcast episodes of Magic: The Gathering Storyline Podcast then named The Podcast That Shall Not Be Named.
It had all the areas of Vorthos community-building that I loathed. It contained snark toward creative members mixed with lists of best to worst in art, novel writing, and an unapproachable wall to outsiders. It’s a footnote, as it urged—no, forced—me to write on Vorthos content but be more open and more strategic and to engage closer to the art, as it was improving rapidly.
Two years and many conversations with Mana Nation—then Gathering Magic—editor Trick Jarrett later, I began writing here. You’ll notice that my content differs radically from Phyrexia.com and the DailyMTG.com forums on art and storyline. I purposefully did this, and you’ll see some of my stances on such. Perhaps a future definition article will be needed when Mark Rosewater writes an update on Melvin and Vorthos in the next few months.
This week, I actively listened to more podcasts in five days than I have in five years. I was enlightened more than I thought I would be. I also realized how much content is simply floating out there. We, as a community, need a podcast content curator not unlike our own Carlos Gutierrez’s Great Magic Writing of the Week series.
I dove into the MTGCast website, and man, simply dabbling is just impossible. I trying searching MTGCast.com for “Vorthos,” and I found only nine podcasts among the one hundred active and another hundred inactive podcasts. There are two hundred podcasts making content, and I found ten individual episodes that even mentioned a Vorthos.
We have no way to really hear introductions of podcasts. Only one has a blurb on what a podcast is about. I found it incredibly difficult to really distinguish a lot of podcasts from one another. Recap after recap with some jokes and personal jabs is the norm, but finding nuggets of truth shouldn’t be twenty minutes apart in each cast. I think if more people would even have an About page, explaining the point of the podcast, who is on it, and what they bring to the podcast, I think they, as media content source, would be radically improved.
The Referred Podcast List
I asked a few weeks back on Twitter for people to give me their top five podcasts they listen to. With more than five, it becomes hard to manage, as many podcasts are quite long. I found the following mentioned many, many times. They’re in alphabetized order.
Our own Gathering Magic podcast is closing in on one hundred episodes. The team is listed here. I like their rapid-fire financial discussion, arguing occasionally with evidence on calls they made and quick pickups to grab. More importantly, these are the cats you can ask about financial stuff on Twitter, and more often than not, they respond openly and honestly. It’s not just a show, it’s a community, and they want you to join them.
The newly-acquired Erin Campbell hosts The Deck Tease, and while it’s incredibly not safe for work most of the time, taking time out of your week to listen to a few episodes will be a delight. She’s among the few podcasters who does a tremendous amount of research into guests. As most are one-on-one, she focuses less on learning about how you won a tournament and more on the player, the person, and his or her perspectives and world views, and she unwraps how her guests tick.
Magic’s Head Designer Mark Rosewater records himself talking on his commute to the Wizards of the Coast office. He picks one topic, he occasionally has other WotC employees, and he tells a tale of design. I love how short they are, even if many of us alumni players have heard many of the tales before. It’s almost like the Issar Roon tales we used to have here on Gathering Magic, explaining a concept or piece of lore from the past.
Simply put, these hosts teach you how to play the Limited format of drafting and Sealed Deck better. They are the only ones with an About page that is concise and clear.
This is a Minneapolis group local to me, and I’ll be on the show soon. There will be more on them soon. Having two women on an ongoing podcast sets them apart immediately, and the show demands a listen every now and then.
My Canadian brethren to the north, ManaDeprived.com, host a whopping seven podcasts. They absolutely should be listed separately, but the following were mentioned often:
Apparently, they’re the number-one podcast in Canada. A lot of people recommended them for their humor and quick wit.
I appeared on this cast not long ago to talk art. These guys are incredible community-builders. Sadly, that’s such a quick byline that many of you will miss it. Community-building is utterly vital to having an audience and gaining the staying power to continue week in and week out. Also, their Booze Cube idea is pretty hilarious. Check that out.
I finally listened to one of Brian David-Marshall’s casts in Glorify My Name this past week. While I don’t think every podcast is a trip down the history center’s archives, I could see how this could be an incredible podcast that Emily and I could listen to on our way to Madison. Two episodes will nearly finish the trip!
Quick Vorthos Podcast Episodes
Of these, I found these with a simple Google search for “Vorthos podcast,” and I’d like to point them out—cause, obviously:
The Deck Tease #31 – The Vorthos Show, 1:10:09
Our own Erin interviews one of my flavorful friends John Dale Beety. He is a freelance writer for the Wizards flavor text team and very recently moved to Virginia to work with Evan Erwin and company for StarCityGames at the headquarters. Good for John Dale.
The Mana Pool #236 – The Running Games, 1:16:23
The Mana Pool #259 – Tundra Wolves Man 13, 2:14:10
The Mana Pool #279 – The Saga of Nicky B, 1:40:03
These boys have three articles mentioning the more flavorful side, and I feel compelled to call them out. Their podcasts are right around an hour, and while they have over three hundred casts, I found these interesting to Vorthos folk! Chewie there is also the curator to MTGcast.com—he’s well worth a follow on Twitter.
They just dropped their first Vorthos podcast this April! It’s over an hour and worth a listen. I haven’t listened to others in their genre, but for making that, it gets mentioned.
Volunteering Means Available
- You need someone to do an art review or breakdown. Let me know.
- You want to know why Kiora’s original art nearly hit $7,000. Bring me on.
- You want to know how much an Alpha original art would cost someone. Ask me on your cast.
- You want to ask what is the best way to invite an artist to a local prerelease, or even a Friday Night Magic. You bet I’ll tell you how.
I’m available and willing to be a guest. I think having a short segment every now and then to talk art, how design impacts the art, and all the aesthetics could be a great ten-minute to one-hour segment on a podcast. You know how to get in touch with me on Twitter.
Help find Alpha art here.