Welcome back, everyone. I’m on four hours of sleep, and the A/C is out in my office. I feel like some good old-fashioned complaining today. Fasten your seatbelts…

JUDGE FOILS

-Force Of Will is now a judge foil, as you’ve all no-doubt seen.

It’s interesting that Wizards of the Coast has decided to celebrate the 5,000-judge mark by…giving the Forces to only the judges that have promoted other judges? Why wouldn’t you hook all 5,000 up if that’s the milestone you’re going for? It probably stings a bit more with some Judges reporting getting full playsets. Fortunately, Helene Bergeot, Director of Global Organized Play for WotC (@HeleneBergeot) has swooped in to save the day:

 
I still doubt that means these are coming in the standard event packs judges get, but who knows?

-Perhaps more to the point, they’re stupidly-expensive on the secondary market. StarCityGames has been moving them at $999 a pop. (I’m complaining about this basically only because I want one for my Prime Speaker Zegana deck…totally self-serving here.)

The finance guys are saying that number will settle eventually much lower. Here’s to hoping.

-While we’re on topic, I think I’m the only person in the world not excited for the Judge Foil Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite. I don’t care if it’s flavorful for being printed in Phyrexian; it still breaks my “no non-English cards” rule.

-The rule, for the record:

“I resolve never to play cards that don’t tell me exactly what they do in plain English on the face of the card, because my poor sleep-deprived brain can barely remember if my untap step comes before or after my draw step, much less what your Sandskrit copy of Chains of Mephistopheles technically does.”

-Yeah, yeah, I know. Smartphone. Look up the Oracle text. Shaddup.

-Yeah, yeah…updated Oracle errata. Shaddup x2.

-That Judge Foil Greater Good, though…I want about twelve.

-And then there’s Nekusar, the Mindrazer and Oloro, Ageless Ascetic. Dear lord, WotC…stop giving these people ideas.

(Yeah, yeah…I have recently owned an Oloro deck. See “Smartphone” and “updated Oracle errata” above.

-I’m nothing if not proudly hypocritical.

SOLFORGE

-In “slightly related to Magic” news, SolForge can kiss my entire ass. Here’s why:

It’s touted as “F2P” (Free to Play, for those of you not down with online gaming.) Theoretically, that means you can play off of the various bonuses and free drafts that you get for things like logging into the system, and beating the computer AI to a pulp.

This, however, is misleading at best, and likely more along the lines of “sheer crap.” You can spend real money to buy packs of cards from the client, and the distribution of better cards (the hierarchy is “Legendary”, “Heroic”, “Rare”, and…er…”Crap”, from best to worst.) Those that do can very easily assemble the latest competitive soul-crusher to do battle in the tournaments that are firing 24/7.

The real problem here is that there’s exactly one non-tournament option for constructed games. On MTGO (or at least back when I was online with V.2), there were different rooms for different builds; “Casual Decks Only”, ‘Tournament Practice”, and so on. In SolForge, it’s “play” or “do not play”.

End result? I’m averaging a roughly 90-percent rate of starting a game with my “Green Draft Castoff Junk.dec”, and getting mobbed with tournament-grade Yeti/Zimus, the Undying/Phoenix /whatever is the cool new tourney deck, which beats me to a pulp in three turns flat.

For the love of all that is holy, Brian Kibler – Roll out some casual (or more-casual) options for constructed play. You’ve created a monster that caters to competitive players, when history shows the casual guys really drive the sales of a CCG.

While we’re on topic, the way the game works (for those who don’t know) is that you make a deck of 30 cards, and each card has three levels (not counting the new Forgeborn cards that have four, but let’s not complicate things.) Each time you play a card, it goes back in your deck at the next level. Once you gain a level yourself (which happens every five turns or so…I’ve never bothered to count), you can then play the next-level card.

Now, if you haven’t played a specific card, you’ll draw it at level one, even if you’re personally at level three. This phenomenon is known as “level-screw”, and is roughly equitable to “mana-screw” in Magic.

I’ve done everything I possibly can to play cards in different patterns to maximize level-ups, and it doesn’t seem to matter – I will always eventually be crushed when I hit a turn and draw all level ones to my opponents’ straight level threes. It is inevitable, and it seems very much not a balanced phenomenon.

Can you tell I might have been up late with my daughter and my iPad last night yet?

Anyway, the moral here – Wizards of the Coast, please hurry up and produce a decent Magic Online client, and then port it to the iPad so I can uninstall SolForge. I’m waiting (likely until I start collecting Social Security checks, I know…)

MAGIC ONLINE

-Speaking of MTGO, Vintage Masters is a thing in a month. I think that’s exciting, but I’m not sure. Back when the V.2 client was live, I was deeply invested in playing “Classic”, which was roughly “Vintage without all of the early sets that aren’t live on MTGO yet.” (Shout out to DangerLinto and ClassicQuarter.com!) I sold out, partially because my time at home was at the time rarely something that I could use for online gaming without risking the ire of my wife, and partly because I had a ton of money tied up in “digital items” – essentially, I was paying to own an instance of renting a card image.

This is scary, and I’m amazed that it is viable; the state of MTGO as I understand it is dismal at best (FUBAR more likely), and the fact that there’s still a stable singles economy is incredible; I’d liken it to forcing everyone in the world who plays, sells, trades, judges or promotes paper Magic to continue to do so, but only within the confines of a giant ocean liner that intermittently runs out of fuel, loses electricity, infects portions of the population with the hantavirus, leaks to a greater or lesser extent, or just sinks.

That said, there are some people who swear by playing EDH online these days, and I’d love to play Vintage again without mortgaging my house a second time. Also, having two kids means that now I have tons of time when my wife is sleeping at thing and I have nothing to do, and not nearly as much time to actually leave the house to play because there are two kids and my wife will…er…draw more ire if I’m not there to help with the chaos. MTGO should be perfect for me.

Is there anyone out there who has good experiences with this platform? Help talk me into reactivating my account…

PUCATRADE

-Why can’t I get PucaTrade to work for me? Twitter is all aflutter with people raving about it, posting huge trades and extolling virtues and whatnot. I know it’s a good product. I’ve dabbled.

…Yet all I can manage is to have people take my points for small-to-midrange cards. When I’ve had points, I can’t manage to land bigger cards, which just sit and rot on my watch list. Worse yet, I can’t manage to send cards, because I can never manage to be in the right place at the right time to catch someone want-listing something I have. You Puca-super-users get all the goods because I can’t sit with a window open on a 15-second refresh all day.

There’s only so many times you can ship out a 23-point card alone before you get sick of trying to save up for a Demonic Tutor or something. To make matters worse, I have a pair of near-mint Misty Rainforest that I desperately want to turn into a pair of Scalding Tarn, and I don’t want to lose value selling to a dealer or putting them on TCGPlayer/Ebay and paying fees. But I’m scared out of my mind that I’ll list these and they’ll ship, only to sit around waiting for months and months before someone decides to part with the Tarns.

What am I doing wrong?

-In other news, if you happen to have a pair of Scalding Tarns and want a pair of Misty Rainforest, shoot me a message…

CONSPIRACY

While it’s way too early to delve into this thing yet, and also because we will delve into it, I’m not going to review or pass judgment on the cards yet. But I will say this:

mARCHESA

Anyone else look at these spoilers and say, “Man, this game has too many damn keywords.”?

CLOSING TIME

I’d love some thoughts on this stuff. Anyone out there pick up a JF Force of Will yet? Where do you think these things will end up? Am I crazy not to play foreign cards? Am I crazy to reinstall MTGO? Why can’t I manage to PucaTrade correctly?

Hit up the comments. We love comments.

Cass
@GDCCommander