Satire is a form of mockery.  It is meant to be humorous while belittling or deriding its subject manner. We see satire commonly in our everyday lives. Much modern American comedy is satirical, such as the Daily Show and the Colbert Report programs on Comedy Central. They present a satire of (mostly) American politics in the form of a parody of modern 24-hour news networks like CNN. This week the Magic Community was presented with a satire of itself, courtesy of StarCity Games’ Chas Andres. It mostly missed the mark.

Trigger Warning: There will be mentions of rape culture in this column in reference to things that Chas Andres wrote. If this bothers you please search for the phrase “Holiday and Other Ultra-Rare Promos” and begin reading there.

Satire and Stockings

Chas Andres Writes a Horrible Satire

This showed up on the premium side of StarCity Games on Monday morning. I will provide some choice quotes from it in case you don’t pay to read articles on SCG. If you do pay for content from the world’s largest provider of secondary-market Magic products, then I feel sorry that your money went towards publishing an article that the author himself titled “The Worst Magic Article Ever Written.” I agree with Andres on the title one-hundred percent, but likely not for the reasons the title was bestowed upon this awful piece of misguided comedy. Let’s break it down.

You should always have an opinion. Always.

Andres opens up poorly here. If you’re not going into this with the fore-knowledge that it is meant to be satirical, you certainly haven’t been clued in by the opening statement. At this point, what should we expect? Andres is primarily a financial columnist. Is he talking about an opinion on Magic finance? Card valuations perhaps? Or trading? Or working with dealers at an event? Who knows really. As we read on in the opening paragraph, things become more disparaging.

Open-mindedness is a sign of weakness, and weakness is the worst.

We’re really doing well here. We’re only a few lines in and warning buzzers are going off in my head. I’ve seen this type of comedy before and it never ends well. Satire is meant to be humorous while making a mockery of something with the intent of demeaning and deriding it. So far, Andres has belittled people who don’t have an opinion for being open-minded and weak. What he means to say is that you should not have strong attachments to your opinions and that open-mindedness is a strength, not a weakness. The problem is that Andres has apparently confused the literary device of satire with the elementary-school concept of opposite day.

I write Magic articles on the internet, and you do not. That means that I am right and you are wrong. Instead of having to make up a bunch of opinions about stuff you’ll never truly understand, why not read this article and pretend that everything I’ve written here is your idea?

Interestingly enough I do write Magic articles on the internet. Perhaps I should have stopped reading at this point because I’m not Andres’ target audience. But, as mentioned above, this is premium content which means it’s paid for so I’m going to hold onto the last shreds of hope that there’s something valuable in this content. Let’s look to the next paragraph. We’re only six or seven sentences in, surely it can’t all be rubbish, right?

I’m going to cover a lot of ground, so bear with me. If you give up before the end, it means that you’re not a real man.

I don’t run my own publication, in any medium. If I did I would never have published this line. I would have burned it in an editorial fire, made sure that the cleansing flame was applied liberally to the author in question, and then washed my hands of the ordeal, Pontius Pilate-style. There is no place, in my mind, for this kind of sexism, even if it is meant to be satirical. Again, Andres is not using satire. He is living in a strange adolescent world where stating the opposite of a thing in an ironic manner means you don’t really mean it. That’s usually okay for things like having an opinion, or having more important ideas because you get paid to write about a topic. It is never okay for sexism and it is especially not okay for sexism in gaming community, and most importantly for you, dear reader, it is absolutely never okay when addressing sexism in the Magic community.

I don’t even care what Andres has to say about his next few topics. He mocks the idea that Standard is the most important format because it is the most popular. He rips on “net-decking” like it’s a new idea and not something that Mike Flores was satirizing when Chas Andres was in grade school. Then he gets to his next great topic: economic prejudice in the Magic community.

Not having access to every card in Standard is shameful and unacceptable. If you can’t afford to buy four copies of every new card, you should quit Magic and pick up a poor people game.

Again, Andres believes he can simply say the opposite of a thing and that his readers will get that he’s writing a satire. He is wrong. What he is being is egotistical, writing something that he believes is comedic for the sake of feeling better about himself. He can go around and tell his friends “look at this great thing I wrote, highlighting all the problems in the Magic community and shedding light on sexism and economic disparity and stubbornness.” No one benefits from this. Will some people find it funny? Yes, because plenty of people have the same level of maturity required to play along with Andres’ opposite day game.

Here are a few more highlights where Andres thinks he can spew opposites around and pat himself on the back for exposing grave injustices afterwards:

Limited is a terrible format—the worst of all. The only reason I’m even bringing it up is because of how easy it is to cheat. Wizards even acknowledges it—why else would they do deck registration at Sealed GPs? This is part of a tacit understanding between Wizards and players that cheating at lower-level Limited events is both allowed and encouraged.

Nicely done Chas. Let’s help encourage all those cheaters out there. This isn’t funny. Cheating is a problem that 99.9% of the community takes very seriously. This isn’t satirizing it. I don’t even know what the point of this is anymore.

[In reference to Vintage and Commander] These are also great formats for showing off how rich you are. Laugh at anyone who plays a Terramorphic Expanse instead of a foil Japanese Polluted Delta in their Commander deck. If you couldn’t easily trade your deck for a Benz, don’t bother showing up.

Oh phew, I thought I wasn’t going to get to read more awful things about poor people but Andres comes through.

I recommend a more psychological strategy. Instead of telling your [trading] partner not to look prices up on his phone, scoff at him and tell him he can feel free to waste his time looking up retail pricing all he wants. When he comes back with an offer, summarily reject it and tell him that he knows nothing about trading.

This sounds like something you would read in a pick-up artist forum which is basically an instruction book for how to rape women. Andres suggests it (satirically!) as a way to screw people over when making trades. Don’t forget, this is premium content on StarCity Games.

Women are basically robots that respond to negative stimuli and magazines with celebrities on the cover, so they’re easy to figure out and control. Most women already wish that they were dating you—they just don’t know it yet. The only way to get them to realize their fate is by constantly badgering them until they give in.

I don’t want to come out and call Andres a rape-apologist but he’s making it really difficult. I understand, completely, that he is trying to be funny. He isn’t succeeding. Nothing about rape is funny. Even a perfectly proper satire of rape wouldn’t be funny. Seriously. I can’t express this enough. There are no funny rape jokes. Rape culture isn’t funny. People get raped.

That’s basically where things end. With satirical advice on trading and dating that is basically pick-up artistry. It’s completely unacceptable for StarCity Games to have published this filth without some kind of editorial supervision on a Magic: the Gathering Website, let alone expect people to pay money for it. It is an awful piece of writing that isn’t funny and contains nothing but offensive commentary on problems that are incredibly pervasive in the gaming community.

Chas Andres is not helping. He is not exposing any problems that people didn’t already know about. He is highlighting the worst that our community has to offer and doing it in a nonchalant way which will only encourage people to share his thinking and accept that it is okay to make jokes like these. Chas Andres is part of the problem. StarCity Games is part of the problem. And they expect us to pay to perpetuate these problems.

I love StarCity Games because they have been a beacon of class and quality in the community for a very long time. Their content is often worth reading and the services they provide the community through their secondary market sales and their impressive tournament circuit are invaluable. However, publishing this piece by Andres was a rare mistake by the often admirable SCG. I hope that it is a mistake they will not make again.

Holiday and Other Ultra-Rare Promos



One of the great annual traditions, since 2006, has been the Wizards Holiday Promo Card. These cards are incredibly hard to get a hold of but are absolutely gorgeous for any high-end collector. This year’s treat, Stocking Tiger, is a play on a Mirage favorite: Stalking Tiger. They even got Terese Nielsen to do the artwork. The flavor text is what ultimately sells me on this year’s card: Just hope yours isn’t full of coal golems. Get it? Because it’s a stocking and if you’re naughty you get coal? If you don’t get it, please stop reading.

You can check out the list of the other seven Happy Holiday promos here. Each of them is a play on a holiday tradition, such as eating fruitcake despite it’s general awfulness, or giving gifts, or beating your family members senseless. Wait, your family doesn’t participate in that last practice? You’re missing out. Sometimes, these cards, like Stocking Tiger, are a direct play on an older card from Magic’s history. What’s not cute, however, is the price tag on collecting these cards. Because they are only given out to, presumably, Wizards employees, they can be difficult to obtain.

Luckily, they’re not tournament playable in any format (see the silver border?) so they don’t have any playable value outside of casual games. That doesn’t change their appeal to collectors as they are still gorgeous, rare Magic cards. For example, SCG is currently sitting on three copies of Gifts Given, and wants $150 to hand one over. They’re not all quite that pricey, but still fairly expensive. The rest are all under $100, but none is lower than $50.

The appeal of ultra-rare promos is well documented however and is one of the nice things that Wizards of the Coast does for high-end card collectors. Yes, they are essentially printing money, but they tend to be fairly responsible about it. For example, attendees at San Diego Comic Con this year could acquire an exclusive set of  the original Lorwyn Planeswalkers with stunning negative-black artwork/foiling. In case you didn’t click that link, SCG has one of these box sets on sale for $700. That is the definition of high-end collectible. Another example would be the Jace Beleren book promo. This was a card you could order from Wizards if you bought a novel from them. It’s now worth $200.

High-end promos tend to polarize the community. Everyone wants it and they’re all pissed off that they can’t afford it. But, that’s the definition of a rare collectible. It wouldn’t be something special if it wasn’t something virtually everyone wanted. Not everyone can have the shiniest foils though, and that’s a good thing. The collector’s value of Magic cards needs its ultra-rare marketplace. If there weren’t folks driving up the value of the rarest of the rare cards, the market for general constructed staples would shift accordingly and the secondary market would burst like a housing bubble. You may never have a book promo Jace in your EDH decks, but the next time you profit on some Standard staples you should be thankful that there are people who do.

News from the MTG Pro Tour

Grand Prix Dallas/Fort-Worth

Mexican professor Marlon Gutierrez defeated Hall of Famer Huey Jensen to win Grand Prix Dallas/Fort-Worth

Mexican professor Marlon Gutierrez defeated Hall of Famer Huey Jensen to win Grand Prix Dallas/Fort-Worth

Grand Prix Dallas/Fort Worth did not start off on the most auspicious of beginnings. With a large winter storm system predicted to pass through the area, tournament organizer Legion Events announced that the GP would still take place. The show went on and just over 800 players were willing and able to make the trek out to the snowy plains of Texas. With so few players attending, the top 128 players made day two, meaning it was possible to make day two with a 6-3 record on strong tie-breakers. I think the last time this happened in a North American event was nearly a decade ago (but don’t hold me to that). 19 players were fortunate enough to earn their way in with only 18 points, including (4) Shahar Shenhar and Hall of Famer Patrick Chapin. Just missing this cut were (12) Owen Turtenwald (135th) and surprisingly still the only massively successful female Magic player Melissa DeTora (136th).

Aside: Remember when Melissa DeTora became the first woman to finish in the Top 8 of a Pro Tour event and we were all excited for women in Magic? Since then not a single major Magic tournament’s final elimination bracket has included a woman. Going through the event coverage archive, the only woman who appears anywhere in prominence since DeTora’s Pro Tour top-8 finish, is Melissa DeTora who was a member of the Community Team for the Magic Online Community Cup. What went wrong? Wasn’t DeTora’s finish supposed to herald in a change for women in Magic? What should Wizards, or anyone else in the community, be doing to fix this? Something to consider for 2014…

The top-8 in Fort Worth would only include a single ranked player: (1) Ben Stark. Stark, piloting a “Mostly White Orzhov Aggro” deck won his quarterfinals match against Idaho professor Eric Centauri and his Azorius Control deck. In the semifinals however, the top-ranked player in the world was upset by Mexico native and professor Marlon Gutierrez, who was playing Orzhov colors, but with a control strategy. While the other side  of the bracket didn’t contain any ranked players, it did feature Pro Tour Hall of Famer William “Huey” Jensen. Jensen, who was elected into the Hall of Fame earlier this year, was playing Azorius control as well. Jensen managed to make it out of the quarterfinals and was victorious in the semifinals, beating IT technician Darin Minard and physiotherapist Carlos Reyes who were both playing mostly-red decks.

The finals were set for a control-vs-control match-up between the Mexican professor Gutierrez and the American Hall of Famer Jensen. Things were intense moving back-and-forth within each game. As any good control match-up should, this one went the distance with the professor getting the best of Jensen two games to one. It was a great victory, on the heels of blue aggressive decks dominating the format. Seeing Orzhov and Azorius control along with some red aggressive decks in the final tables gives hope that this environment, which will be with us for some time, was not on the fast track to being a two-deck format, something that would have been disastrous for fans and players alike.

November Player of the Month Voting

Brian David-Marshall has put out the call to try to convince him why Owen Turtenwald should or shouldn’t be November’s player of the month. I’m hard-pressed to come up with any argument strong enough for any other player. Turtenwald won back-to-back Grand Prix events and then finished 19th overall in another one later in the month. Personally I think Jeremy Dezani also had a strong month, in addition to the suggestions BDM makes. However, everyone else in the world is pretty much a distant second to Turtenwald’s performance.

If you disagree, tweet @HotCBlog and @Top8Games with the hashtag #MTGPoM to plead your case and BDM and I will tell you why you’re wrong (unless you’re agreeing with the selection of Turtenwald).

Top 25 Update

(6) Sam Black climbs further up the rankings while (22) Ari Lax replaces the now un-ranked Jon Stern.

(6) Sam Black climbs further up the rankings while (22) Ari Lax replaces the now un-ranked Jon Stern.

(6) Sam Black broke into the top-6 this week, just barely missing out on cracking the top-5. There was a little movement all over the place as (10) Jeremy Dezani caused a bit of a ripple below him, as did (18) Alexander Hayne and (22) Ari Lax. All three are coming off strong performances in the past few weeks of Grand Prix events. All this raises an interesting question though, who is close to knocking (25) Luis Scott-Vargas out of the final spot in this list? Should LSV be concerned that his relevancy as a premiere pro player is waning? Not likely, but it would be interesting to know just how big the risk is.

(1) Ben Stark and (2) Josh Utter-Leyton both put up strong performances in Dallas this past weekend, so their holds on the top of the board should be secure, but for how long? With points deteriorating over time, either one could start to slip in the near future. It would be interesting to get some insight into this breakdown. Perhaps 2014 will be a big year for this aspect of coverage. We can only hope.

The Quick Hits

  • Nostalgia battles Ninjas when Time Spiral takes on Kamigawa in the EDH Battle of the Blocks [StarCity Games]
  • Wizards announces that there will, in fact, be a 2014 Magic Online Player Rewards program [Daily MTG]
  • Conley Woods gives some great advice for attending large tournaments [TCGPlayer]
  • Heather Lafferty interviews StarCity Game’s coverage content associate Reuben Bresler [Gamer Girl, Gamer Boy]
  • Amazingly enough, February’s FNM promo isn’t complete garbage [Magic Arcana]
  • Abe Sergent presents his Top 10 elves of all time (sans lords) [Gathering Magic]
  • MJ Scott has a bracket for what Magic cosplay she’ll do next. Go vote [Gathering Magic]
  • Mike Linnemann needs help compiling the whereabouts of every piece of original Alpha artwork [Gathering Magic]
  • AJ Kerrigan discusses the importance of establishing goals in Magic [StarCity Games]
  • Tannon Grace reviews some basic tournament etiquette [TCGPlayer]

Wallpaper of the Week

"This. Is. Meletis!"

“This. Is. Meletis!”

When I look at the artwork for Master of Waves in such high detail, the first association I make is with that scene from 300 with the shouting and the kicking. You know the one. Anyways, I really enjoy the action in this art. The pose of the character, the waves receding, the aquatic horses rising from the waters. It’s all very grandiose. It loses points as a wallpaper for having centered artwork, but it makes up for it in the color scheme, which has a lot of cool blue-green shades.

Grade: B+

The Week Ahead

There is no high-level competitive Magic next weekend. There is no Pro Tour and there is no Grand Prix event. This makes it the ideal weekend for the StarCity Games Invitational, held in Las Vegas, Nevada. This is a massive event, easily the pinnacle of amateur Magic tournament circuits. There will be $50,000 in prizes awarded, including $10,000 to the overall winner of a 16 round constructed tournament (eight rounds of Standard and Leagcy each) followed by a top-8 bracket (Standard constructed). There are four SCG Invitationals held every year. Invitations are given in a similar manner to the Magic Pro Tour. Players can qualify by finishing in the top-8 of an Open Series or Classic Series event, or the top-16 of another Invitational. They can achieve qualification levels in SCG’s player-point club as wekk. There are additional qualifier events that specifically award trips to the Invitational. Finally, SCG’s regular contributing writers get invited to every SCG Invitational.

With no Grand Prix or Pro Tour coverage to check out, give the SCG Invitational a try!

What We Learned is a weekly feature here at Hipsters of the Coast written by former amateur Magic Player Rich Stein, who came really close to making day two of a Grand Prix on several occasions. Each week we will take a look at the past seven days of major events, big news items, and community happenings so that you can keep up-to-date on all the latest and greatest Magic: the Gathering community news.

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