I have used "Spectators" before, but I think it's even more fitting this week because I want to talk about passive knowledge acquisition. Reading is for suckers.
Being Read to Is the Coolest
Okay, so obviously as someone whose main aspiration in life is to have an article to write on some site seven days a week, it's not a good long-term strategy to talk people out of reading entirely. But what I am up to has influenced my column a lot lately and being in the midst of a huge buylisting project has had me on a hunt for distractions.
For the first bit of it I had Netflix open in one window and Trader Tools in the other. Netflix can be a bit of a liability if it becomes so much more interesting than buylisting that you get distracted and your productivity suffers.
I thought I had found the perfect solution in the old FX drama "Rescue Me" in which Dennis Leary plays an alcoholic firefighter whose PTSD has him seeing the ghost of his dead partner. I watched five seasons of it in the background while I buylisted until I had an epiphany one day.
I hate "Rescue Me". It's not a distraction because it isn't interesting. Sure it pushed the envelope for FX a bit back in the day, but it still consists of PG-13 swearing, simulated sex scenes where the participants leave their underwear on and contrived dramatic scenes where people do things they would never actually do in real life.
If I wanted something mildly entertaining that I didn't have to look at, I was going to have to go back to the drawing board.
It took way longer to occur to me than it should have. I want to stay on top of my game and that requires spending a lot of time reading articles and forums to see what the players are up to. Being behind the game in finance isn't making anyone any money so I'm constantly having to pay attention to what's going on so I can warn people. When I am spending lots of time buylisting I can't be reading articles.
But I can have them read to me.
Listen and Learn
Spending time doing other things like boring office or lab jobs or buylisting frees you up to be distracted. I chose mindless entertainment for a while, but it occurred to me that spending that time listening to Magic podcasts was a great way to optimize the time I was wasting before.
I can keep my eyes on what I am doing and still listen and absorb the information in the podcasts the way I was with a godawful piece of garbage of a television program before.
Listening to podcasts isn't exactly "having articles read to you" but it is a way to get information into your head without having to read it. With Magic podcasts bringing you Magic news, strategy and brews, you can see what players are up to and that will help you stay ahead of the finance game and improve your play.
So which podcasts are valuable to listen to and what can they teach us?
Who They Are - This plucky group of Canadians is still the gold standard in Magic podcasting. With the departure of Jon Medina, they have abandoned all pretense of having any finance content, but that is not a problem given the depth of their competitive content. Entertaining, professional and established, The Eh Team should be in your rotation.
Pros - These guys know podcasting and the show is incredibly entertaining and informative.
Cons - Canadian.
Who They Are - A group that talks about finance a lot more than even they would like to admit. Ferret and Matty are dedicated MODO speculators and their insights are very good. As much as their fanbase who tunes in to hear dick jokes and stories about drinking roll their eyes when a financier is a guest on the program, there is a lot of good MODO finance information here, and when they talk about brews it's good to listen to what they're thinking.
Pros - Very good finance insights hidden in each episode, superlatively entertaining.
Cons - Superlatively entertaining but not to everyone. If you don't particularly enjoy their style, it's a lot of content to mine for a few nuggets of finance wisdom.
Who They Are - Dedicated MODO grinders, concerned with going infinite, stepping up their game and solving the various Limited archetypes. They also have quite a bit of knowledge about MODO management--redemption, bankroll management and bot interfacing are all discussed. The people who don't think The Eh Team is the best Magic podcast will almost always say Limited Resources is their number one.
Pros - If you want to know anything about Limited, this is your one-stop shop.
Cons - Limited Applicability. This is a phenomenal podcast and sets the bar for all other casts. However, there isn't as much finance knowledge here as you might find in a cast where they talk about upcoming Constructed tech, but I can't advocate keeping this out of your rotation.
Who They Are - Commander Players. I am firmly of the belief that if you don't understand at least the basics of Commander and you care about finance, you're doing it wrong. Lots of people misevaluate spoiled cards because they don't understand what Commander is actually about, and predicting what that format will actually want to pick cards like Black Market, Phyrexian Altar and No Mercy out of bulk or binders without having to look up prices has made me hundreds. If you're not inclined to play the format, let Commander players tell you about it.
Pros - These guys know a lot about Commander.
Cons - These guys know a lot about Commander. They don't necessarily rehash basics all the time so you will need to listen to a lot of episodes to pick it up, but if you invest the time, it's worth it.
Who They Are - The Limited Resources of Vintage. Are you sensing a pattern? I am recommending what I feel like are the best example casts for each format. If you listen to one Vintage cast, have it be this one.
Pros - This is the best Vintage podcast in my opinion.
Cons - Vintage makes ten cards like Slash Panther spike for every card like Null Rod. Unless you have a way to get a ton of Japanese foil Vandalblast quickly while the Vintage community is still testing, you don't stand to make a ton of money. Still, Vintage is awesome and this podcast is time better spent than watching bad television. You stand to learn a lot about an interesting format.
Who They Are - The only finance podcast.
Pros - By definition, the best MTG finance podcast.
Cons - By the same definition, the worst MTG finance podcast.
This list of casts has helped me keep all of my bases covered. Listening to podcasts about a variety of Magic topics has helped me stay on top of what is going on out there and I'm not surprised when new developments occur. Being forewarned is being forearmed in the finance game and I have plenty of warning.
Are there other good casts out there? Yep! MTGCast has quite a few and more are being added every week. Give a few a listen and see what you like.
These are the ideal way to pass the time in the car driving to work or to events where you'd normally listen to music, time spent doing data entry or inventory management on your computer when you'd ordinarily watch netflix, or time spent at work when you should be pretending to be productive when your boss isn't around. Anything beats reading.
Reading is for suckers.
Happened. I'll be honest, if you want people to care about a Standard GP that is 12 hours' different from the USA, don't schedule it on the same weekend as a Team event. I don't care that it's Limited, Team events are vastly superior to Standard GPs in every way.
900 players made the trip, which would disappoint a North American TO, but this was Australia's largest event ever, which is pretty cool. I guess what I am trying to say is that I didn't watch coverage because there was a Team event.
The Mothership must have seen my comment where I told them putting the Top 8 deck lists on a separate page that I can link to instead of having it in the middle of a giant wall of text was very convenient and I liked it, because they went right back to their old way of doing it.
I didn't watch coverage so I got to be surprised when I checked and saw what won. I bet you'll be surprised, too.
Nam Sung-Wook managed to win in a field of R/G Monsters with Mono-Black Devotion. Monsters became a popular choice after so many people saw Bile Blight as the new go-to removal spell. R/G lists where Elvish Mystic was the only target for Bile Blight dominated the meta last weekend. Nam's list cut down to two Blights and increased the amount of "hard" removal a bit.
An interesting move was his inclusion of two Watery Grave, seemingly just to cast his one-of Notion Thief out of the board. Although in the match-up against Mono-Blue, I wouldn't hate a Watery Grave in play when I am flipping up hot cards with my Nightveil Specter (although if you're hitting them with Nightveil, you're probably in OK shape).
Fated Retribution is actually heating up a bit, but with it capped at two in all likelihood, there isn't a ton of money to be made here.
Did you buy Courser of Kruphix at $5ish? I didn't like the card in a vacuum and I certainly didn't like it in Oracle of Mul Daya's shadow, but this card appears to be what Standard wants right now and it's headed to $9 and above. I think it will settle below there long-term, but if you wanted them to play with in the meantime, I hope you bought in around $5.
I can't even rule it out as a card that will see play in Modern as four toughness is actually a bit of a benefit when people are inclined to try and get you with Wild Nacatl (so far they aren't) and Lightning Bolt (so far they are). Copies under $6 are all but gone from TCG Player and $6 seems about right for a card that is sold out on Star City for $12.
Honestly, this Top 8 is pretty boring and all the changes made were pretty minimal over the last few weeks. The Standard results from the Open will tell us more.
SCG Open Results
Nope. Guess not. Nearly the same maindeck 60, complete with the reduced number of Bile Blights, won the Open, too. Boring.
This deck is fun! I don't know if there is room for anything to grow besides the underplayed Witchstalker, but this is a deck I would build and play with. It got Top 8 and it looks like fun, and it's not stupid Mono-Black, Esper, Mono-Blue or Monsters, so I like it.
The 8th place R/W deck jammed Legion's Initiative. In a format with an instant-speed wrath, maybe that's the play. In any case, I don't hate its power boost with Assemble the Legion, either. Ash Zealot is getting there despite no one flashing anything back, a testament to how good its skillset is.
Look, a "burn" deck with 14 creatures and 17 instants.
This is not an exciting week for Standard, I'm sorry.
Boring old RUG Delver shows it's a dependable choice that has few atrocious matchups and can draw itself out of bad situations with its cantrips.
It looks like there is no clear winner in the "best Stoneforge Mystic-TNN deck" race and I like it. I have had some success with the Bant version trotted out by Sam Black and this version with Lightning Bolt main and Grim Lavamancer in the board seems fine. Meddling Mage is starting to shoot up--get these while you can. It's Modern- and Legacy-legal and a good way to deal with unfair cards proactively.
Blah, BUG Delver. We've seen this exact 75.
I love this infect list. People have been trying this kind of deck since they spoiled the infect mechanic. This and decks like it are the reason Might of Old Krosa and Invigorate are picks. Casuals like it, and the deck is capable of a Top 8 finish at an SCG Open. When you get unlucky, you just eat it, but when you're lucky you get free wins, and faster than anyone anticipated.
I would get heartburn running what is essentially a combo deck with eight copies of the key component, but with blue to draw cantrips and lots of matchups eschewing blockers, this seems okay. The game can go long, and you're no less explosive on turn ten if you can keep them from thwarting you entirely. One big swing is all you need and you have counterspell backup.
Someone should tell Brian Braun-Duin that no one plays Jace in Legacy. I love Thopter-Sword in Legacy a whole bunch, and in this deck is seems right at home.
Remember when Vendilion Clique was only $30? I anticipate a future installment of my alticle to say "Remember when Vendilion Clique was only $60?" If you want these to play with, don't delay.
Someone should tell Bobby McCollough that Esper Stoneblade has fallen by the wayside. He'll be as surprised as I was to hear it.
11th place finisher Reuben Bresler was remarking to an attendee that "no one is playing Goblins" right before someone pulled his pants down with Tin Street Hooligan. James Miller and his goblin pile managed a Top 8, hooligans and all.
Shardless BUG is a fine deck and its results bear that out.
We have a Legacy Top 8 with eight different decks. I don't know about you, but I think that's a pretty healthy format, and there haven't been any bannings lately despite some people calling for bannings of components of Sneak and Show, a deck with zero Top 16 finishes.
There was quite a bit of Reanimator, but I attribute that to the geopgraphical region where the tournament was held.
Poor Reuben. He had to scramble to find four Gaea's Cradle so he could give them to the person that needed them to build a different deck so Reuben could borrow Painter's Stone. 11th is bad beats, but it's a non-zero amount of money, and one of his losses was to BBD, and I hear that happens from time to time.
I liked that there is a Punishing Jund deck in the Top 16.
I guess Infect gets the "Pet Deck of the Week" award. I am happy for its pilot getting there. Jamming a deck like this until you get the right amount of skill, preparedness and luck going is a grind, but it pays off.
Most of the Top 16 is comprised of people playing decks that they have played in the past to great effect which goes to show you that Legacy allows you to play a deck long enough to get good at it. This Top 16 was pretty impressive, made up of some of the best Legacy minds in the game and Alex Bertoncini.
That does it for me this week. Buy Meddling Mage if you can still find them cheap, get your Magic news piped directly into your head by listening to podcasts and cut back on the number of Bile Blight you run. I don't care how tempting it is to play it on that Sylvan Caryatid, it won't go your way, I promise.