This week my utter lack of focus has kept me from coming up with a coherent argument on a single target. Instead of pumping out a thousand words of filler, here instead are a couple of short ideas with which I’ve been playing around.




I have this friend who is Magic famous; I’m not going to put her on the spot, but the stress she is experiencing on the basis of this increased tier of attention seems intolerable. Between judging her appearance, slandering her public persona, and being dicks about her on Reddit, she has been utterly provoked and the fact that she’s managing to face all this with grace and aplomb speaks to her character. But it’s ridiculous that she should have to face this shit, especially since so many of the problems trace back, fundamentally, to the fact she’s a woman.


This all strikes me as being indicative of a larger issue: a culture that actively roots for all remotely famous women to fail. This culture seems to burble out of a well of misogyny and hatred fanned in the hearts of a significant segment of those who consider themselves outsiders. These men, though yes it’s not all men, are then angry when people they view as being insiders, with all the access that entails, rise to prominence in “their” sphere.


And women fall into the “insider” category, because despite us playing Magic since the beginning, a set of advertising decisions in the 90s/00s consistently tried to push Magic to be seen as a “Boy Game.” As a result, you have a bunch of dudes who see women as being interlopers, because they were lured to this game with the promise that it would be for them and them alone.


It’s a sense of ownership crossed with unacknowledged bias, and it is dangerous.




I am of the opinion that news of a Top Eight competitor bawling on camera would be widely discussed. Perhaps I am wrong, but either way I feel fairly secure in saying that crying, by a professional-level Magic player, is not something that Would be well-received by the broader Magic community. And that is a crying shame. Because crying serves an important purpose, and we should encourage it more as an outlet for salt.


I get the reticence for people to let it out. Crying implicates a combination of the toxic masculinity in which men are stewed and the pressure put on women in the public eye. For women, this sense that to cry in public in a situation like this would be “letting down the team,” reinforcing misogynistic narratives which we are repeatedly forced to overcome. For men, it’s this idea that crying makes you less of a man, which is the toxic half of masculinity.


It’s nasty either way.


But how many salty losers would be better if it was okay to just cry when you lose your win-and-in? If you didn’t have to keep your composure, maybe you’d be less likely to spew negativity at your opponent. And if your opponent was crying, maybe it would make sore winners better consider their attitudes. I don’t know… we’re not there yet, but we should be.




How is there not a Wizards-produced reality competition show on Youtube? They already have the model in Ironroot Chef, for chrissakes. With a little tweaking they could totally make a decent show out of that, and they could pay out in product, minimizing their overhead for a show like that.


I say this as only a minor consumer of the genre of shows; ever since I went to law school with a former reality show writer I’ve had a fair bit of skepticism towards the idea that people are ever “real” in those heightened situations. But I do enjoy RuPaul’s Drag Race, in which there is a continuous crafting component, and I’ve been digging Forged in Fire, which is basically Iron Chef for metalworking dudes (always dudes). They both are doing interesting things with the weird ways in which our society views gender, albeit both from a shockingly woman-light set of contestants.


I imagine Iron Chef is a better example, but I am not a HGTV fetishist. Anyway, it’s easy publicity at a relatively inexpensive cost. It would appeal to casual player-base that is uninterested at Pro-level coverage but would probably love to see some new wacky kitchen table brews. Once you’ve tapped this market, you can then advertise new sets to them directly, within the conceit of the show.


It’s a good idea, and I am shocked the company that made a Battleship movie isn’t fully monetizing their brand.




I want to play Overwatch more than Magic these days and I don’t know how to reconcile that with my Magic-themed platform. There is just precious little that Magic offers that gives me the same joy as sweeping in as Mercy and resurrecting a field of downed players. Or holding down a location with Symmetra, using her weapon as much as her turrets to do so. Or rushing people to the objective with Lucio, then just jazzing out as I try to keep us alive.


Magic doesn’t offer the same type of support roles, even in a multiplayer game like Commander. That makes me sad, but, more importantly, that makes me want to play Overwatch.




Once a week I walk past Forbidden Planet, a nerd store in NYC with a relatively long history. It’s kinda an iconic store, down by the Strand. For the last couple of sets I was buying my boxes from them, because the weirdness of MTA transportation means that it’s actually a pain in the butt for me to get to Williamsburg, where I might otherwise find these wares. When I went in to buy a box of Eternal Masters this time around they said that they hadn’t gotten any EMA product, the implication sounding to me as though they had ordered a bunch of it and not yet got it in yet.


Which, sure, whatever, it happens. When I stopped back in on Monday, they still didn’t even have single packs of EMA to sell. That’s a couple hundred dollars of lost sales, and all because Wizards seems to have kept the print run of EMA to a minimum, just like they did with Modern Masters and Modern Masters 2. I am no financial genius, but considering they get no money out of the secondary market, which primarily exists due to formats like Modern and Legacy, it seems like they would have made more money had they printed more of these products.


I understand wanting to avoid damage to the secondary market, since sale of singles is what keeps many a store afloat, but had they printed more EMA they would have made more sales. And not only would those sales have been better for nerd stores like Forbidden Planet, but any dip in the price of the reprinted cards would be compensated for in a jump in the price of non-reprinted cards like Show and Tell or the dual lands. Not a single deck was reprinted in its entirety in EMA; even Elves requires Gaea’s Cradle to work at full power. That seems like a situation in which the secondary market would self-stabilize.


And in the meantime, I just haven’t been buying single packs of Eternal Masters. Alas.




Hopefully you enjoyed this set of digressions. I did not bring up the question of the gender politics of the Nahiri storyline or the grotesque horror of the I’amrakuled angelic heralds, but I am sure as there are more cards spoiled we will have plenty of opportunities for those discussions as well.


Jess Stirba is a Mercy first and a Symmetra second.

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