Monday, July 19, 2010

A conversation with Patrick Chapin

The Magic Show had Patrick Chapin on this week, and it was a great episode. I had my own conversation with Patrick via text message that I thought was worth sharing.

Patrick often cites "The Universe" as if it were some entity and not simply a category of things somewhat equivalent to "the set of all things." I'm a reductionist, so I don't find it helpful when someone brings up categories that are too broad to be useful. "The Universe wants you to _____" is meaningless. More generally, "The Universe ______" is a sentence structure that is unlikely to contain any useful information to anyone not studying or discussing the cosmos. Could I be misunderstanding what Patrick and others mean when they say "The Universe"? Sure, but that's the problem, if you mean some subset of the Universe such as a local environment or some collective consciousness, don't use the broad label. Don't speak in the form "Animals _____" when you wish to discuss only Golden Retrievers.

If I didn't think Patrick was smart enough to know better, I wouldn't bother. But I do, and I did.

Here's what I sent to Patrick via txt message:

"If you ask someone where to look for something, the answer 'everywhere' is as useless as no answer at all. So I ask you, where should I look for truth?"

I was hoping to illustrate the relationship between specificity of language and its utility. People understand this concept when it comes to giving directions, so I figured I'd use "where do I look?" language as a cue.

Here is what Patrick responded with:

"Everywhere. :) seriously."

I smiled when I received that text. He knows where I want to go, but he isn't interested in going there himself. Well played.

I've spent tens of thousands of words having the same conversation with others (most notably my own mother), and I think it says a great deal about my relationship with Patrick that we managed to understand each other (at least as much as is possible given our dispositions) in 1 txt each.

Still, despite his conciseness and stick-to-itiveness, I can't help but think that Patrick, just like my less concise mother, walks around trying to navigate a wilderness using a globe instead of a map.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Some individuals have said my last blog post crossed the line. Each of those individuals is a braindead idiot who, when he or she occasionally understands a joke, can’t take a joke. Still, maybe I can post something just for them. To those who enjoy Magic humor, but not insult comedy, here is a partial spoiler for my new expansion:

Creature – Cat
Cuteness 4 (Creatures deal no damage to this, any player may pay 4 to remove this ability until end of turn).
If Kittens is equipped with Mittons, it gains Cuteness 2. (Cuteness abilities are cumulative).

When Cookies comes into play, destroy target He Who Hungers or Famished Ghoul.
Sacrifice Cookies: Gain 2 life.

Cookie Jar
T, sacrifice Cookie Jar: each player exiles his or hand face down and then searches their library for any number of cards named Cookies. At end of turn, each player discards their hand and returns all cards exile this way to their hand.

Choose one: Counter target Thirst for Knowledge, Thirst, Cankerous Thirst, or Necromantic Thirst OR; if you control Cookies, take an extra turn after this one OR; untap target Kittens.

Cookie Monster
Creature – Muppet
Cuteness 2
At the beginning of your upkeep, sacrifice a Cookies or tap Cookie Monster and lose 2 life.
Sacrifice all Cookies you control: Cookie Monster gains +2/+2 until end of turn for each Cookies sacrificed this way. Cookie Monster does not untap during your next untap step.

Santa Clause
Creature – Jolly Saint
Sacrifice a Cookies, discard a Milk from your hand: Santa Clause gains +3/+3 until end of turn.
0: Choose a toy you own from outside the game, if you haven’t cast any black spells this game, put it into your hand, otherwise put a Charcoal Diamond card into your hand.

Baby Turtle
Creature – Turtle
Cuteness 4
Hatchling 3 (Baby Turtle comes into play with 3 time counters on it. At the beginning of your upkeep, remove a time counter. When it has none, it loses Cuteness and becomes a 1/4.)

Anne Hathaway
Creature – Angel
Cuteness 40

Thursday, July 8, 2010


I’ve just gotten a bunch of spoilers for an upcoming Magic set. I guess they’re combining regular Magic with the appeal of those “Pro Player” inserts they used to put in starter decks. Anyways, the set looks pretty sweet so far. I didn’t have time to put any commentary, just wanted to get you the spoiler ASAP. Enjoy!!

Luis Scott-Vargas
Creature – Master
Put a durdle counter on Luis: put a 0/1 Pun token into play.
Put a burdle counter on Luis: win target tournament.
Having pun yet?

Mark Rosewater
Legendary Creature – Master Designer
T: put 8,000 words onto the stack.
Whenever a green spell destroys a creature, a blue spell deals damage, a white spell draws more than one card, a red spell gains life, or a black spell destroys an enchantment, sacrifice Mark Rosewater.
Reporter: So you’ve been working on the game for over 15 years, spending hours and hours every week thinking about and playing Magic, and yet you still aren’t any good at it?
MaRo: Well, I’m ok, but not very good, no.
Reporter: So it must not be the kind of thing smart people get better at over time, right?
MaRo: No, it is.


Aaron Forsythe
Creature – Developer
As long as Aaron is in play, Enchant Worlds named Power Creep cannot leave play.
T: target creature gains +2/+2, but its converted mana cost remains the same.
Ask only whether we can print this card at this cost, not whether we should.

Stephen Menendian
Creature - Human Troll
Protection from Rationality
When Stephen comes into play, search your library for a card named Circular Logic and put it into your hand.
0: Put a pie chart or graph into play, this token has no abilities.
T: Target Troll gains +2/+2 and is indestructible as long as Stephen remains tapped.

Cedric Phillips
Creature – Human Gamer
T: Change the mode of target spell. (Ignore any targets of previous modes and select new
targets if appropriate).
“His deck selection is even worse than his taste in music,” said Oona. “Impossible,” replied Ajani.

Conley Woods
Creature – Human Rogue
When Conley comes into play, exile your library and replace it with target deck from the Casual
(Anything Goes) room. Flip 3 coins, if they are all heads, you win the game.
“They probably won’t expect Chandra Ablaze.”

James Gates
Creature – Ginger
(Gingers have no soul).
When one million teenage girls play a song, put a copy of that song into James’ iPod.
Making my way downtown. Walking fast. Faces pass and I’m homebound.

Matt Nass
Creature – Human Rookie
At the beginning of each phase, mention that you won a GP playing elves.
If you ever win another GP, target Hell’s temperature becomes 0 degrees Celsius.

David Ochoa
Creature – Human Gamer
Can block creatures with flying.
Evil played Lightning Bolt…-wait what are you saying?...- my opponent cast a Lightning Bolt…-Oh, ok. Go on.

Patrick Chapin
Planeswalker –Innovator
+1: You may reveal an instant card in your hand to all players, if you do, search your library for a card with the same mana cost and put it into your hand. (mana cost checks types and amounts of mana in the cost).
0: Draw 2 cards, then put a card from your hand on top of your library.
-2: Take an extra turn after this one.
Loyalty: 3

Brian Kibler
G, Discard a card: Target creature gets +2/+2 until end of turn.
G, Sacrifice Brian: Target creature gets +2/+2 until end of turn.

Creature - Human

Jamie Wakefield
Creature – Human
At the beginning of your upkeep, if the cards you own in all zones add up to 62, you win the

Mike Flores
Legendary Creature – Writer
At the beginning of your upkeep, put a Has Been counter on Flores unless any player says “Never Was,” in which case put a Never Was counter on Flores.
As long as Flores has a counter on him, he is 0/5.
Tap an untapped Good Player you control, that creature becomes equipped by any Deck attached to Flores, and wins target tournament.
"Anderson Verejao is better than Kobe Bryant." -Mindless Null

Brian David-Marshall
Creature – Coverage Artist
T: reduce the utility of target deck tech segment by 50%.
Those who can’t play, judge. Those who can’t judge, do coverage.

Lan D. Ho
Creature – Filmmaker Gamer
Protection from Hipsters
No Pants are too small to equip Lan D. Ho.

Todd Anderson
Creature – Grinder
If Kali Anderson isn’t in play, Todd counts as the best player from that Marriage.

Osyp Lebedowicz
Creature – Master Dancer
If Osyp is the target of a Dance-off, destroy all other targets of that Dance-off.

Gerard Fabiano
Creature – Human
If Gerard becomes equipped or enchanted by a Catch Phrase game machine, it may not be removed from him until the end of the game.
Is his success at the game inspiring or depressing to those who wish to succeed but also would like to believe skill is involved?

Paul Rietzl
Artifact Creature – Beast
Sacrifice an Artifact, put a +1/+1 counter on Paul.
When Paul attacks, he acts like he sucks, but he deals the normal amount of damage based on his power.
Zoo with Punishing Fire? Thanks for the offer, but Nassif said I can borrow his Affinity deck so I’m all set.

Paulo Vitor Dama Da Rosa
Creature – Master
T: Overstate every position you assert in any article, but win enough and be generally correct enough that it doesn’t matter.
After watching the World Cup, PV is happy the good Dutch pros quit the PT.

Legendary Creature – Master Deckbuilder
When Zvi comes into play, exile all female creatures.
"I thought I was alone on the PT until I met Zvi." –Cackling Fiend

Money Draft
Remove all money counters from target Master.

Steven Birklid
Creature – Alaskan Curler
If any opponent’s graveyard contains a card named Incinerate, sacrifice Steven.
Sweep a broom in front of target rock: until end of turn, target hobby seems like a reasonable way to spend all your free time.

Evan Erwin
Creature – Community Organizer
0: Name a card from the new set you believe will be a chase rare. That spell will not be a chase rare.
Those who can’t play, judge, do coverage, or write, do webcasts.

Mark Herberholz
Creature – Alcoholic
T: destroy target liver.
0: ignore target lack of consent.

David Williams
During your upkeep, flip 15 coins. If you win every flip, you gain 4 million life.
T: gain control of target barnacle.
"<3 DW" –YD

Sam Stein
Whenever you flip a coin you may flip two coins and choose one instead.
Tap Sam and an untapped Matt Sperling you control: win target money draft.
Sam may not be sacrificed to hypothetical effects that cure cancer.
“If I found out my opponent's 2 year old daughter had cancer and the only cure was me NOT winning the PTQ, lets just say I hope she likes chemo, cuz I came to win.” – Someone (wink) pretending to be Sam Stein on a message board.

Number of Pro Tours Hydra
Creature - Avatar
NOPTH comes into play with 5 Pro Tour counters.
At the end of your turn, if your life total is 5 or less, remove a Pro Tour counter from NOPTH.
At the end of your turn, if your life total is 20 or more, and NOPTH has less than 5 counters on it, add a Pro Tour counter to it. (this last ability was removed the card just before printing)
Best year ever for MTG, let's leverage this into more multiplayer box sets!

PTQ Judge
When any player requests a ruling, flip a coin, the winner of the flip wins the ruling.

PT Judge
When any player requests a ruling, flip a coin, the winner of the flip wins the ruling. Call the head judge on appeal.

Team/2HG Pro Tour
Legendary Artifact
0: put a Vote for Return counter on Team/2HG Pro Tour. Any player may play this ability.
When Team/2HG Pro Tour has thousands of Vote for Return counters on it, ignore it.

“Dude, I have a family”
If you would lose the game, instead your opponent concedes. Opponent may choose to ignore this card’s effect.
I didn’t let you take back that attack, but you’re asking me if I want to concede? Hmmm, maybe the answer is over here on this result slip, lemme take a look…

Elder Dragon Highlander
Enchant World
When EDH comes into play, the game is a draw. Each player reveals his or her library to all other players, discusses how cool their deck is, and has a good laugh.
Isn’t this a better version of Magic than playing “net decks”?

Adam Yurchick’s Mom’s Vagina
Destroy target land.

Tom Martell
Creature - Ex-Lawyer
T: choose a stock, pay 5 life, flip a coin, if you win, gain 6 life.
If Matt Sperling is in play, Tom Martell must attack each turn if able.
Obscurity, awkwardness, incompetence, a Jedi craves not these things. -Yoda.

Megan Holland's Cupcakes
Artifact - Equipment
Equipped creature gains 10 pounds.
Equip 1

Legendary Land - Island
When Curacao enters the battlefield, exile all Dutch, German, and Broke Pros as long as Curacao remains in play.

Las Vegas
Legendary Land - Desert
At the beginning of your upkeep, you gain 2 life and 1 poison counter.

Average Person Who Comments on My Articles
Creature - Zombie
"They groaned, they stirred, they all uprose, / Nor spake, nor moved their eyes; / It had been strange, even in a dream, / To have seen those dead men rise." -Samuel Coleridge, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"