Thursday, May 22, 2014

Pro Tour Journey into Nyx (Atlanta) Report

This report was originally going to be in the "Props & Slops" format.  I'm in a good mood so I'll try for all "Props & backhanded Props."  Let's see how it goes.

Big huge props to Gabriel Nassif, Gabe Carlton-Barnes and Martin Goldman-Kirst who all conceded to me on day two once out of top 25 contention so that I could have a chance to make top 75, which I did, which qualifies me for the next two pro tours.  Not everyone is as unselfish and understanding about getting a couple points to someone who can really use them.  I appreciated it tremendously. 

The other big huge props have to go to Patrick Chapin for winning the Pro Tour.  Patrick and I have been friends for many years, and I've learned on several occasions that Patrick is the kind of friend who would give you the shirt off his back or the big piece of fried chicken if you were hungry (and he fucking loves fried chicken).  A man of truly grand vision, Patrick has put more sweat, passion, and hours of work behind his vision for the competitive Magic: The Gathering community than anyone I know. 

Patrick is a leader also in the way he balances that work with celebration of and appreciation for everything and everyone he has around him.  If someone's not having a good time, Patrick's work is not done.  I'm lucky to have Patrick as a teammate but far luckier to have him as a close friend.  

Props to Reid Duke and Jamie Parke for breaking through to top 8.  Everything you've heard about Reid is true, which is high praise.  Jamie is an old school background player like myself who just snatched the mic and starting singing a lead vocal.  You haven't heard the last from Reid or Jamie, and again I'm lucky to call them teammates and friends.

Props to Dan OMS for helping us with offsite logistics while the PT was going on.  Support via email is key as you scramble to figure out what is happening at the PT and compile the public information you gather.

Props to Wrapter from [that Other Team] on his top 8.  You could pick him as the best in the world and/or the most likely to win the next big event, and you would be at WORST only very slightly wrong. 

Props to Hall of Famers Finkel, Kai, Nassif, Bob, Karsten, Darwin, Rob, Jelger, PV, LSV et al for showing up and giving a shit even if past their prime.  Better to have had a prime and lost than never to have had a prime at all like me.  And I think everyone benefits from them using their invites and try to win.  So, joking aside, props for still giving a shit.

Props to the bartender at the Sheraton near the convention center.  This woman was more understaffed than the judges at a Bolivian limited Grand Prix but still kept the drinks coming with a smile.  No bar back, no cocktail server, no second bartender, just her and a hoard of thirsty gamers. 

Props to Atlanta for having Uber. 

Props to Waffle House for being better than Dennys and iHop (sounds easy but there were a million of these everywhere and when I went it was good). 

Props to Zac Hill for finally mentioning on camera that he used to work in R&D and had some role in the development of cards that were recently released.  You might have missed it if you took a break from the stream but trust me he said it at least once on the record. 

Props to R&D for not having a cheap wrath in the block.  If I wanted the same pieces available every game I'd play chess.

Props to Tom Martell and Paul Rietzl for hitting Platinum.  Tom is better than you think he is and almost as good as he thinks he is.  Paul is as good as you think he is and better than he thinks he is. 

Props to the PT coverage staff for getting a picture of me doing my Walt Jr. impression as Patrick drew a land he needed vs wrapter. 

Props to Andrew Cuneo for being the funniest person over age 60 to come along since George Carlin.

Props to Marshall Sutcliffe for the time he remembered which creature had been targeted by Kiora's +1 the turn prior.

Props to Paul Rietzl's opponent (Paul please tweet who it was) [edit: Marlon Gutierrez] that accidentally pointed to only one of his creatures with a Mogis' Maurader trigger and told the judge the absolute truth about his physical gesture when asked.  Easy to fudge or reinvent what happened; this guy went down with honor, integrity, and only one creature with intimidate. 

Props to WotC for not having Michele of Gaming Etc deal cards for the PT.  Who knows if I still would have made top 75 if others weren't scrambling looking for cards the night before the PT.  If it ain't broke, find a local supplier to fix it as the saying goes.

Props to Conley Woods and Brad Nelson for taking some high-profile split card criticism in stride and finishing top 50. 

Props to Sam Black for calling a judge on himself when he scryd into a card that wasn't in his deck in a game he was going to win.  Could have sent it to the bottom, sided it out, fixed it between rounds - no one finds out and no real harm done - but he did the right thing and played by the rules. 

Props to runner up Nam Sung Wook for playing well and being grateful to make the finals and willing to fully celebrate the 2nd place when he lost.  Oh and for playing fast even in top 8.  This kid gets it in my opinion.

Props to the members of R&D who gave a talk on the design of Journey to Nix cards and mechanics.  The members of the Hex design team that were present can't thank you enough. 

 -Matt Sperling

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Journey Into Nyx Policy Changes – For Players/Judges and /r/Spikes to complain about.

[Guest post by friend-of-the-blog Lucas Siow.  Send props to him, angry letters to me as usual. FYI - skim this post for context: JOU Policy Changes  -MJS]

Posted on April 28, 2014 by a level 5 commander player

With the latest policy update, there’s a major change to the Electronic Device policy for Competitive and Professional REL. We wanted to make it really hard for casual players to use their phones to keep track of life totals while minimally impacting the ability of serious scum bags to game and abuse the system.
It can be summed up easily: Don’t use them during matches or any other “official” times (drafts, deckbuilds, etc). Its only ok to use them while taking a fake bathroom break, while looking at the pairings board and when appropriately hidden under the table as you pretend to drop things a (aka you are Mike Long). Taking a brief personal call is OK in an emergency – as a competitive magic player you probably have a lot of an important things going on outside of the tournament and we believe that.  If you happen to be in the group of honest, non-emergency suffering magic players, we would appreciate if the 11 of you  could leave your devices in your pocket until the match is over.
We tried having a policy to define what could be done with devices, but like most things which involved computers it ended up having too much downtime. We are committed to Stability, Performance and integrity in all of our decisions. We swear. We were planning on going with the make the same promise year after year until nothing gets fixed route, but the current policy was really out of date with regards to the capabilities of devices. We wanted people to behave themselves, but gamers are finding needle in the haystack exploitable loopholes which is just an unlucky feature of how popular magic is. We had the choice of writing a complex and ever-changing policy and immediately enforcing it without soliciting any outside advice/feedback or taking the cleaner route of disallowing them entirely during matches. Based on our experience with previous: Rules Changes, Pro Player Club Changes, MTGO PTQ announcements, GP rules changes, Magic Coverage, PT invite alterations and prerelease statistics we have decided that mixing both strategies was the safest course. Devices may be used freely at Regular REL; because - seriously - who tryhards at FNM? Outside Assistance rules still apply to those who names don’t rhyme with vidiguris.
A few players have asked about using video cameras to record or stream matches. This is allowed as long as the device is passive, not consulted, and you have permission of the Head Judge and each opponent. In other words we are calling this the Classic invitational Player’s Championship exception. For reference, the following is a list of passive mobile computing devices:
Blackberry Anything.
One other clarification that is not a policy change: at the end of extra turns, players are not allowed to flip over the top cards of their decks to do comparisons or see “how things would have worked out” to determine the winner of a match. We really want to enforce the notion that collusion should only take place between  established players that are well versed in the tournament floor rules and magic culture. The rules do not allow players to look at those cards until the game has ended, and, once the game is over, it’s using an outside the game method to determine an outcome. Instead of that we would prefer if both players only colluded when using very specific legal language. We cant tell you what language to use. But if you propose something we might be able to tell you if you got it right. Unless you werent specific enough. Because that would be coaching. 

Wizards feels very strongly that the game is moving in the right direction. Judges are not supposed to use rational subjectivity in making rulings. Instead we are one step closer to our ideal of irrational objectivity. 

[posted by Matt Sperling but authored by Lucas Siow as noted earlier. - clarifying the auto-author-tag that appears below]