Hello reader! What We Learned is a weekly feature here at Hipsters of the Coast. The goal is to take some of the events and articles polluting the Magic world, strip out the chaff (tournament reports, game theory, economics) and give you our superior opinion. Complaints are encouraged.

It’s the middle of December and that means the Holiday Season is in full swing. By now holiday music, most likely the theme song from the Peanuts Christmas Special, is following you everywhere you go, and your friends are constantly sending you videos of Christmas light displays set to dub-step.

The Holidays are a time for reflecting on who’s been Naughty and who’s been Nice and Wizards has been through both sides of the spectrum this year. Ten official Magic products came out in 2012 and some were clear hits while others were not.

Dark Ascension: We delved deeper into the Gothic world of Innistrad and met dubious characters like Falkenrath Aristocrat and Huntmaster of the Fells. Lingering Souls warped all of the formats but limited and constructed with DKA were both enjoyable. Nice

Venser vs Koth: I forgot this existed. Whoops. Naughty

Avacyn Restored: Bonfire of the Damned. Grislebrand. Restoration Angel. Entreat the Angels. Cavern of Souls. The list of overpowered bombs in this set goes on and on. The best part of 2012 was only having to draft this format for three months. Naughty

Planechase 2012: The original Planechase remains one of my favorite variants of Magic. Unlike Archenemy or Vanguard which were just fancy ways to play traditional Magic, Planechase fundamentally changes the way you think about the board state. Nice

2013 Core Set: I have a lot of opinions on Core Set Magic. None of them are very positive. Naughty

From the Vault Realms: This was the first expansion of the year in what I like to call the More Money/More Problems cycle. More to come on this later. Naughty

Izzet vs Golgari: The A vs B series is a lot of fun for casual gaming and this pair of decks was definitely a hit. If you haven’t played this match you probably should give it a spin because it’s a lot of fun, especially if you’re bored to death of traditional (e.g. Constructed/Limited) Magic formats. Nice

Return to Ravnica: A couple weeks ago I talked about this being the worst-named set ever until they announced Dragon’s Maze. While the nostalgia level completely shattered the previous record set by Time Spiral, the jury is still out on the quality of this set. For now, we’ll give RTR the benefit of the doubt Nice

Commander’s ArsenalAnd here we have the latter set in the More Money/More Problems cycle. Let’s face it folks, Wizards has a lot going on other than Magic, and even then they want to be able to put more money into Organized Play (as they announced this week). Since Dungeons and Dragons is currently a bottomless pit in which money spontaneously ignite, the responsibility of making money seems to rest squarely on Magic’s broad shoulders. From the Vault and Commander’s Arsenal are ways for Wizards to keep all of their designers employed, even if they’re working on awful products, because they can just print $100 bills in the form of Magic cards. I expect this practice to continue indefinitely. Naughty

Holiday Gift Box: This seemed like a gimmick to me until we cracked open one of the boxes. Wow. The production level for this storage box is as close to a perfect 10 as you can get. With room to store plenty of Cubes and/or EDH decks with well-labeled dividers and a plethora of labeling options, this is a must-have for anyone who likes to keep their cards organized. Nice

So there you have it. Ten products released and we have an even score in the Naughty and Nice columns. I guess Wizards is getting Coal in their stockings, but also that sweet BMX bike they’ve been begging us for since we forgot about their birthday and got them that gift card to Old Navy.

The Quick Hits

On Color Pie: It should come to the surprise of no one that everyone still loves Blue and that attacking with creatures is universally loathed. [Magic Arcana]

On Competitive Play: Is anyone else really unexcited about Prime-Time being a Grand Prix promo? I guess he’s great in EDH Modern Ramp Cube? [The Mothership]

On Exchanging Gifts: If you’re wondering what gift to get the Magic Player in your life, the correct answer is a 2-Liter of Mountain Dew. But, if they already have a lifetime supply of Mountain Dew (and we know they do) then check out Adam Barnello’s recommendations. [Recurring Nightmares]

On Lady Planeswalkers: Anything that helps make Magic a welcoming environment to women (and all types of people really) is a worthwhile endeavor. Go lean about the Lady Planeswalkers Society. [Facebook]

On Magic Online: This weekend, the fine folks at Wizards are giving away free Cube tickets if you play an event in the Beta client. So, they’re paying you to pay them to play Magic online, or something. [Magic Online]

On Mill Decks: If you want everyone to hate you, I recommend sleeving up Travis Woo’s new milling deck in standard. Nothing says Christmas like a slow painful death to Nephalia Drownyard. [Woo Brews]

On Ral Zarek: MJ Scott takes a critical look at male and female imagery in Magic starting with the newest dreamy planeswalker to hit the Ravnica social scene. [Gathering Magic]

The Week Ahead

If you celebrate Chanukkah then you’re in the clear! If you celebrate Christmas then you’ll likely be spending this week making a mad dash to buy those last few gifts and get them shipped out only to find out that you have to pay a fortune for expedited shipping.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!


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