As per the usual, I spend Saturday day into evening playing in two pre-release events for the new set. I like to hit the afternoon event, and then grab a bite to eat before coming back for Two Headed Giant fun times. Dana is always my companion in these things, and it’s rare for us to have the same type of luck. This time, she went 3-1, while I lost my first three rounds in an increasing cloud of frustration. While I was losing, I penned an angry screed that well captures the emotional state I was in during the release; I am not the biggest fan of this set so far, and it shows.

Not that I didn’t redeem myself! I managed to get Kalonian Hydra successfully online in round four (I had it online in round three as well, but my opponent killed me with it thanks to Act of Treason—I was at 20), and somewhat made up for my shame, ending 1-3. And 2HG was as fun as usual…We intentionally drew our last game for the prize packs (and to get home), but in the first match I used Garruk to draw and play literally every creature in my deck (all 18), and in the second match we managed to stabilize against an Archangel of Thune, and would have probably gotten the win had we been turn zero.

Anyway, the point is, here’s my irritated look at M14, without a significant amount of editing and whatnot. It’s worth sharing, if only because it’s easy to be a Pollyanna about new sets, the game as a whole, and how much fun it is to lose in what is supposed to be a low complexity, casual set. Enjoy?

My god, how does Magic ever get new people to play this game? I have been out of the loop for like, maybe three months now? Not a long time, and I still watch the fun GPs and such, and yet here I am, at the most theoretically welcoming level of play (the core set prerelease), and this is absolutely miserable. So far I’ve lost rounds to a) a Shivan Dragon with double strike, from 16, b) a mulligan to one, and c) my own 20/20 Kalonian Hydra. Which, sure, maybe I should have kept the three with one land and two off-color late drops, but that hand isn’t getting there. Better to leave your hope to luck at that point. At least then you’re not stuck staring at your fate while your opponent kills you…there’s the eternal hope that you’ll get the top deck that keeps you in the game. And with the other two, I knew the cards that were going to kill me (Act of Treason and Disperse), but knowing that they’re there doesn’t change the fact that they kill you. I mean, you’re dead either way, right? I can’t even imagine what it feels like to have horrible losses like that without understanding how the wheels can fall off before it happens.

Anyway, I came here with a firm plan to have fun instead of being Spikey, so I should theoretically be inured to all this. But while core sets are significantly less complicated than your average expansion, the absence of complexity makes them so much less full of potential shenanigans. And shenanigans sell the game! Mathematical races are boring, and card advantage control isn’t really welcoming unless you know the threats in a set. This set is all bombs. Synergy seems less important than it has for several sets, unless you’re in one of two decks (slivers or R/B sacrifice). Which is infuriating. I feel like Punxsutawney Phil…three more months of shitty limited until Theros comes around. Now leave me alone so I can curl back up in my hole.


Now, I know my column has strayed from its whole etiquette roots, but maybe this needs saying? The new reality is forever recession, even for people who spend lots if money on small pieces if cardboard. As such, no matter how proud you may be of your current education or vocational path, it’s still not particularly polite to ask your opponent what they do for a living. Our generation is beset by un- and underemployment. A significant percentage of the category of “youngish people” are going to have a negative reaction to that question, and bringing work shit into an escapist forum is poor form. Anyway, that’s what I think, and I know I am not alone. I get how Magic spaces are pretty insulated from disparity in privilege, but it’s something every space goes through from time to time, and we should take a lesson from queer spaces: feel things out before you ask!


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