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CardShark Content - Matthew Smith (5/24/2002)

Best of the Best: A Guide to the Best and Worst on the Net. (05.24.02)

What I am about to do is shaky at best. With the rise of Magic internet sites dedicated to embarrassing writers and their ideas, I am about to…kind of…do the same.

But not really.

In homage to my compadre, Shawn Jackson, I am going to attempt to readjust one of my old favorite genres of writing, the critique. This is not an old concept, as it has been done before in Shawn’s Best and Worst of the Net found here:

http://www.starcitygames.com/php/news/expandnews.php?Article=189

and here:

http://www.ccgprime.com/columns/sjcolumns.html

What I’ll be doing, if you’re not familiar with a critique, is perusing the articles in a given week—from Friday to Friday—and then painstakingly sorting out the top five and the bottom five articles, with proper explanation, throughout that week. As a general disclaimer I am NOT the god-authority-end-all-be-all on writing an effective article, but I do feel that writers who put in time and effort to produce something that truly shines above the rest should be recognized as such.

My scale, while still in the experimental stages, goes as follows:

Content (10 points) is largely based on how well the author understands what s/he is talking about and the mood in which that is portrayed.

Grammar (10 points) I understand we’re in the age of Technology and all, but a little grammar ALWAYS counts.

Format Accuracy (5 points). Are you discussing an extended deck in a standard article? Are the cards you’re choosing sub optimal, best suited to a multiplayer deck?

Title (5 points) Have you ever heard, “Don’t judge a book by its cover?” We do judge an article by its title. Beautiful article, but no one read it because the title was misleading.

Page layout (5 points). I understand that on some sites (*cough* not mentioning any names *cough*) you can’t do much with the layout of your article. Rizzo was an innovator with his pictures at the end of every tournament report, but unless you’re the editor of your own site, you probably won’t be getting jiggy with the layout.

Language (5 points). Be professional. I understand the words, I know how to use them, but if you feel you need them to stress a point, fine. Don’t go overboard.

Subjective score (60). This is left entirely up to my imagination. Something that just rubs me the wrong way, or I feel you’ve really done something special in your article, this is the meat that makes up the subjective score. This is the area in which creative genius lies, or the area in which the process of revision starts.

I hope this helps to explain the process in which I rate a potential article. As you can see, the scores are mainly subjective, (over 50%) so I hope this shows that this is really only one man’s take on the scene. (I say this now to dodge the eventual hate mail). This isn’t just a stab in the dark—it’s a qualitative, methodical, systematic procedure—based on a system of basic criteria. Under no means do I want this to be an oppressive process; rather, I’d like this series to become what its predecessor dreamed, “…is to provide a little criticism into a community that is devoid of self-criticism. Please, if your article appears on my bottom 10, don't take that as a signal that I don't want you to write. “

Understand though, that no one site will escape the eye of scrutiny. I will remain in CONSTANT VIGILANCE as I painstakingly filter through article after article, week after grueling week. Because of this, if you find an article particularly disgusting, or surprisingly life-altering, then please, send it my way! I guess this is my way of saying to not be afraid to let me know what you think. I’ll be tagging my email address along with all of my articles, so if you want to give suggestions, then go for it. Remember, I’m not personally attacking any one person. I’m putting your writing under a microscope as a reader, not an English professor. That means I’m not looking for perfection, just something that makes me smile inwardly.

One side note, this was partially resurrected, and you’ll never see a premium article on the list, because of the rising concern of the lack of quality articles on the internet. Well, I haven’t paid for the service, and I don’t plan on doing it anytime soon.

With the rules clearly laid out, I suppose it’s time to commence with this week’s Best of the Best.

TOP FIVE –May 20, 2002

5. Captain America: Playing Counter-Trenches

Rick Rust
Rust
RustSet: Legends
Cost:
1
Color:
Green
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Liz Danforth
Text:
Counter target artifact effect, which must require an activation cost.
@ StarCity Games
http://www.starcitygames.com/php/news/expandsub.php?Article=3049


´´If Eric Taylor won with it and the deck list is plastered on sideboard.com, then it's a net deck that has proved itself - so it has to be good, right?´´

Rick does an excellent job of examining a deck that many players have put to the side while looking at Psychatog
Psychatog
PsychatogSet: Odyssey
Cost:
3
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Atog
Rarity:
U
Number:
292
Artist:
Edward P. Beard, Jr.
Power:
1
Toughness:
2
Text:
Discard a card from your hand: Psychatog gets +1/+1 until end of turn. Remove two cards in your graveyard from the game: Psychatog gets +1/+1 until end of turn.
. I liked the way that Mr. Rust
Rust
RustSet: Legends
Cost:
1
Color:
Green
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Liz Danforth
Text:
Counter target artifact effect, which must require an activation cost.
completely broke down the deck and explained some of the finer points of how it works. He clearly explains the mana curve, the players who have succeeded with the deck, consistency, development/tempo, flexibility, and the sideboard. This is the first time I’ve read one of Rick’s articles, but I enjoyed reading about the deck I’d heard so little about prior to GP Milwaukee.


4. Yawgmoth's Whimsy #34: Ranting about Blue


Peter Jahn @ Starcity Games
http://www.starcitygames.com/php/news/expandnews.php?Article=3051

´´The simple fact is that Wizards has created an environment where creatures are irrelevant. Ernham Djinn may be back, but it isn't playable. Control is everything.´´

You’ll see a trend of anti-blue articles this week, due to an article by Randy Buehler. While I’m mainly a blue mage, and my first response to this flux of blue haters is, “shut yo trap,” I have always liked Peter Jahn’s writing style. Peter’s wife, Ingrid, writes for my stomping ground, CCGPrime, and I’ve witnessed the husband and wife duo’s writing mature over the last year or so. I believe that Peter accurately expresses the viewpoints of many magic players right now with a degree of professionalism through his investment theory argument. So while this article is a bit of a rant, it’s an educated rant. I think Peter essentially summed up some of the points that readers felt across the board.


3. The Deck Clinic: Zombie Madness


Alan Comer @ Sideboard
http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=sideboard/deckclinic/20020520

´´When I go to U.S. Nationals this year, I plan on playing a deck from the Deck Clinic series. While I am not going to tell you which deck I am going to choose, or even if it has yet been published, I will play one that has been published by the time Nationals comes around.´´

One thing I had to include in the Top Five was Alan Comer’s Deck Clinic series. Since this recently came to be, I’ve waited with baited breath for each and every installment. Mr. Comer has taken numerous decks and stripped them of the nonessentials (depending on your format) and created a leaner cut. The internet community really owes this innovative deck builder some deserved credit for the decks that he has created. He has single-handedly (with some help, okay not so single-handedly) defined environments, and now he can help YOU define your FNM environment with a twist on your own deck idea! This week he makes the claim that he’ll show you he’s no huckster, as he brings one of his Clinic decks to U.S. Nationals this year. This week: Zombies and how to abuse the cards that create them. A must read for those of you who want to try a new deck out.


2. The Death of ZevAtog
Atog
AtogSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Atog
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Jesper Myrfors
Power:
1
Toughness:
2
Text:
0: +2/+2. Each time you use this ability, you must sacrifice one of your artifacts in play.
?


Mike Flores @ Sideboard
http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=sideboard/strategy/20020520b

´´But once upon a time, not that long ago, ZevAtog
Atog
AtogSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Atog
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Jesper Myrfors
Power:
1
Toughness:
2
Text:
0: +2/+2. Each time you use this ability, you must sacrifice one of your artifacts in play.
was quite good, even format-defining, maybe ´´best´´. What made this deck unique?´´

Mr. Flores explains why ZevAtog
Atog
AtogSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Atog
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Jesper Myrfors
Power:
1
Toughness:
2
Text:
0: +2/+2. Each time you use this ability, you must sacrifice one of your artifacts in play.
may be, gulp, dead. As stated, there are really two schools of Tog that sprouted from the pits of the tournaments. The bouncy, cantrip version of Ryan Fuller, or the familiar based/Upheaval
Upheaval
UpheavalSet: Odyssey
Cost:
6
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
113
Artist:
Kev Walker
Text:
Return all permanents to their owners' hands.
version of David Humphery. Mike tells us what we’ve just discovered this week: Trenches seems to own Psychatog
Psychatog
PsychatogSet: Odyssey
Cost:
3
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Atog
Rarity:
U
Number:
292
Artist:
Edward P. Beard, Jr.
Power:
1
Toughness:
2
Text:
Discard a card from your hand: Psychatog gets +1/+1 until end of turn. Remove two cards in your graveyard from the game: Psychatog gets +1/+1 until end of turn.
—or at least this version of the deck. Mainly because of ZevAtog
Atog
AtogSet: Revised Edition
Cost:
2
Color:
Red
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Atog
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Jesper Myrfors
Power:
1
Toughness:
2
Text:
0: +2/+2. Each time you use this ability, you must sacrifice one of your artifacts in play.
’s dead draws, inability to match permission spells, and the quality of card-drawers. Standstill
Standstill
StandstillSet: Odyssey
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Enchantment
Rarity:
U
Number:
102
Artist:
Heather Hudson
Text:
When a player plays a spell, sacrifice Standstill. If you do, then each of that player's opponents draws three cards.
takes a backseat to Prophetic Bolt
Prophetic Bolt
Prophetic BoltSet: Apocalypse
Cost:
5
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Instant
Rarity:
R
Number:
116
Artist:
Dave Dorman
Text:
Prophetic Bolt deals 4 damage to target creature or player. Look at the top four cards of your library. Put one of those cards into your hand and the rest on the bottom of your library.
. With this being said, Flores states that Psychatog
Psychatog
PsychatogSet: Odyssey
Cost:
3
Color:
Multicolor
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Atog
Rarity:
U
Number:
292
Artist:
Edward P. Beard, Jr.
Power:
1
Toughness:
2
Text:
Discard a card from your hand: Psychatog gets +1/+1 until end of turn. Remove two cards in your graveyard from the game: Psychatog gets +1/+1 until end of turn.
is indeed a force to be reckoned with—but not this version. Is he right? Time will tell.


1. Resurrecting Flying Men
Flying Men
Flying MenSet: Arabian Nights
Cost:
1
Color:
Blue
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Flying Men
Rarity:
C
Artist:
Christopher Rush
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Flying
: Suntail Hawk
Suntail Hawk
Suntail HawkSet: Judgment
Cost:
1
Color:
White
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Bird
Rarity:
C
Number:
28
Artist:
Heather Hudson

Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
Flying
and the pie.


Randy Buehler @ Sideboard
http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=mtgcom/daily/rb19

´´So enjoy your Wild Mongrel
Wild Mongrel
Wild MongrelSet: Odyssey
Cost:
2
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Hound
Rarity:
C
Number:
283
Artist:
Anthony S. Waters
Power:
2
Toughness:
2
Text:
Discard a card from your hand: Wild Mongrel gets +1/+1 and becomes the color of your choice until end of turn.
s and Basking Rootwalla
Basking Rootwalla
Basking RootwallaSet: Torment
Cost:
1
Color:
Green
Type:
Creature
Sub Type:
Lizard
Rarity:
C
Number:
121
Power:
1
Toughness:
1
Text:
1G: Basking Rootwalla gets +2/+2 until end of turn. Play this ability only once each turn. Madness 0
s while you still can because they’re a bit better than what we plan to give to green in the future.´´

Well, well, well. Mr. Randy Buehler certainly stirred up a hornet’s nest with this article. I’m not sure if those were his intentions, but he certainly lit a fire under more than a few angry Wakefieldian mages. In what started out as a seemingly innocent article about how everyone will be forced to play white weenie this summer, Mr. Buehler took estrangement (and not the Type One kind) to a whole new level. Basically, he told green mages to be content with this set, as they were now going to be subjected to a life of grizzly bears and llanowar elves. The article took top spot this week for a number of reasons: I am thrilled that Rosewater and the gang have opened the forums to the business side of Magic. They have given players a new sense of hope, that they actual DO matter when it comes to card and set design, even if their personal bias occasionally slip through. I am also glad to see the occasional sneak peaks they give us. All in all, it seems that the powers-that-be at the WOTC are thinking of the players. And don’t think that goes unappreciated.

BOTTOM FIVE

5. How to Change a Light Bulb.

Chris Romeo @ 7Towers
http://www.7towers.net/articles/051702romeo.htm

“Q: HOW MANY PRO-TOUR PLAYERS DOES IT TAKE TO CHANGE A LIGHTBULB?
A: TWO - ONE TO TRY TO CHANGE THE LIGHT BULB AND ONE TO SAY ´´IN RESPONSE, I'LL CAST FACT OR FICTION.´´”

Now what! You say. This guy is awesome; he talks about sports, making use of common cards in an oh-so-not-common world, and he sticks up for the underdog. His writing is the hella good, and now I know you’re on crack. Well…I agree with you. Romeo does have a way with words…just not this time. I didn’t really find his forced humor very funny, and frankly, if he’s going to proclaim himself as the next Rizzo, (and he is a very capable candidate) then he has to come with it—every time. I’m always looking for something new from Chris, but I’m also looking for something good. Remember: the intention of this series is not to point out who is utter crap, like other websites, it’s to recognize great writers and critique their work.


4. R/G/U Upheaval
Upheaval
UpheavalSet: Odyssey
Cost:
6
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
113
Artist:
Kev Walker
Text:
Return all permanents to their owners' hands.
, a New Monster in Type Two?


Jared Hudgins @ MTGPlanet
http://www.mtgplanet.com/Articles/Decks___Type_Two/R/G/U_Upheaval
Upheaval
UpheavalSet: Odyssey
Cost:
6
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Number:
113
Artist:
Kev Walker
Text:
Return all permanents to their owners' hands.
__a_New_Monster_in_Type_Two_.html

“One of the most common ways that the deck was able to win was its ability to make a ´´Time Walk
Time Walk
Time WalkSet: Alpha
Cost:
2
Color:
Blue
Type:
Sorcery
Rarity:
R
Artist:
Amy Weber
Text:
Take an extra turn after this one.
´´ all the time with the use of Fire/Ice.”

This article is the result of someone not running a submission through the spell checker. While the deck looks like it may indeed be good, I’m not familiar with that particular R/U/G build, the article really lacks substance. If I were handing out a good-tryer award, this one might get it. My advice? Keep on writing, run spell check, and don’t get discouraged!


3. Stalling


Kyle Palmer @ Brainburst
http://www.brainburst.com//issues/020520.asp

“I was frustrated and proceeded to grab the deck and look at the last 6 cards. There was no upheaval.”

In what, I’m sure, led to the discussion of a major issue in the game of Magic today, Kyle Palmer singled out a player in what he deemed a rules infraction. My problem? Completely unprofessional. The gentleman who he addresses in the article was named, without the opportunity for rebuttal, or knowledge of printing of the article. This is slander. To ruin one’s reputation openly in a public forum, when clearly, the judge ruled in said person’s favor, is preposterous. What would I have done? Well…If I were still pissed I’d probably do the same thing, but it that how you should handle it? No. Take the time to write an article on the state of Magic and how stalling is ruining the game, but don’t call someone out. And don’t grab someone’s deck at the end of a match. If it was me, and you grabbed my deck, I’d probably take you outside for a little visit afterwards.


2. Leeching off others…


Sean McKeown @ TeamAcadamy
http://www.teamacademy.com/article050902sean.html

“This public service announcement has been brought to you by Sean McKeown.”

Well…this is another case of someone feeling left out from the big boy club. Sean how far you’ve fallen. If this is what I can expect to pay for at Brainburst’s premium club, then I’m glad I’m not member. What little respect I had for McKeown has pretty much left the building. From his preamble on how good he was during the Writer War, to the respect he always claims he should get, this piece of trash really shows me what kind of person McKeown really is. The real problem is that this piece isn’t even that witty. But, I got to admit, it didn’t take long for Sean McKeown to grab the essence of TA.com, just add a few “your moms’” and some swearing and…viola, you’re with the “in” crowd. I think McKeown has found his genre. My advice…do what you know to do, be true to yourself, and just write.


1. You CAN Play Type I #44: Why There Are Only Four Colors In Magic.

Oscar Tan @ StarCity
http://www.starcitygames.com/php/news/expandnews.php?Article=3042
“Vote Oscar! And support Type I if that poll is still up.”
Every article a plug, every plug an article. Watch your feet, cuz someone’s dropping some names up in this mug. Okay, let’s talk. Truthfully, when this series started I was excited. Oscar really talked in depth about some things that I didn’t really want to know about at the time, but I was glad to have them nonetheless, as I knew if I ever decided to play Keeper (I’m an avid T1 player) I would have a great spot to reference all the information. After a while though…well, let’s just say at first it was cool, then it became kind of funny. He beat My Fires for crying land’s sakes. Then, well, it just got damn annoying. Oscar Tan HAS, as you may have heard, an elitist attitude. He and a few others believe that they are the only people on this planet who play and have contributed anything to Type one. You see, they believe that since they are the only ones who currently play the format, then they’re the only ones qualified to speak of it, Pros included. Regardless, the fact that he’s up against Rizzo in the Writer War only leads me to believe that he’s plugged every mailing group he’s on, logged on to every computer in his country, and attached his winning to “bringing back Type One”. Almost as preposterous as saying that he died for our sins. My advice? Shorten the articles, don’t try to force entertainment, and stop putting in Apprentice logs. Oh, and drop the attitude, as it shines through the writing.


There you have it, back on the Net to show people how it’s done the right way. Constructivism is far greater than Defeatism. Oh, and it makes you more friends also. Remember, watch those articles, because someone else is definitely watching them!


Viva,


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