The Definitive “Women in Magic” Thinkpiece

The topic of Women in Magic, specifically the question of why there are so few, has been a point of contention for essentially as long as organized play has existed. Every couple of years a new writer tries their hand at examining the issue. This time around we have a piece from Daniel Fournier and a response from Matt Sperling.

Agree or disagree with those pieces however you please but above all, fear not! I am here now to provide the definitive thinkpiece on the topic.

Here goes:

Chicks and dudes like different kinds of stuff.

And that’s okay.

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Finally got one, sheesh

I finally achieved a good result in an Ixalan Sealed League, after posting multiple 5-4’s, 4-5’s and even a 3-6! This sealed format sucks, I only keep playing it because my core love of Magic is so strong. (i.e. I am addicted)

Anyway, I went 7-2 with this red-white no-synergy deck, splashing black for Vona, Butcher of Magan.

I’m very happy to get a 7-2 with this pool. One match I lost was to a black-white vampires deck; I maybe blew myself out in a game by attacking into Bright Reprisal mana after working hard to stabilize against opponent’s wider board. In my defense, I had not yet seen a Bright Reprisal from him at that point in the match, but I know enough of the the cards in the set now that I could have noodled out “okay if he has Reprisal here I lose.” The other loss, I just got outdrawn and overpowered, no biggie there.

I’ve lost a lot to tribal/archetype decks, which is kind of why I don’t like the format. Pools that contain a tribal precon will beat up on non-synergistic “normal” sealed decks. Of course that’s just another type of variance but I think it widens the gaps between the good/better/best decks. In an average format, you can maneuver your “okay” deck to beat a “very good” deck but in Ixalan it sometimes feels like the opponent is playing a Modern Bogles deck against you.

Some single-card notes: I wouldn’t first-pick it or anything, but Tocatli Honor Guard was actually pretty great in multiple situations. Unless it’s really bad for my own deck’s ETB effects, I think I’ll always maindeck it when it’s in my pool and I’m playing white. It nerfed many Explore creatures and Imperial Aerosaurs, not to mention some rares like Rowdy Crew.

Thaumatic Compass was great; I had not previously played with or against it. Clearly it’s helpful if you’re splashing a color as I was here. It gives you a midgame mana sink until it flips and is obviously strong after turning into Maze of Ith.

I’ve had Sunbird’s Invocation in a couple of pools now and I’ve loved it. You have to find a turn where it’s safe to pay six for no immediate effect, but after that investment you’re in value town. Maybe I’ve just been lucky, but I think I’ve only whiffed on a Sunbird roll one time.

So, yeah, the format sucks but I’ll keep playing it at least a little bit because I’m a hopeless fiend.

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Suxalan Sealed

This is me after posting losing records in like six consecutive sealed leagues:

I accept responsibility, to a degree, for my poor performances but I think this sealed format kind of sucks.

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Our ride’s here!

You maybe had to be there for this, but trust me it was hilarious at the time.

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First tries at Ixalan Sealed

Did an Ixalan prerelease at the nearby LGS but pretty much pooped the bed, nothing interesting to report. I fared better in my first online sealed league, however, opening a strong red-white pool including a planeswalker:

I finished 7-2 so I was quite pleased with that. I think I punted one game/match but I’ll forgive myself. Random musings: I happened to face a lot of blue-green decks, like 7 or 8 of the 9 were? Something absurd like that. Probably just a weird variance thing. I mulled often, I thought my curve looked good but my losses came down to not hitting 5 lands and dying with powerful 5’s rotting in my hand. The conditional removal is funny – had multiple board states where opponents had several 3/x’s and I had Legion’s Judgment stinking up my hand. I never had the cajones to try playing Goring Ceratops even though I could kinda see it maybe fitting in the deck (i.e. haste it with Otepec Huntmaster).

The last game of the last round, I was far ahead on life total (opp was actually on 1 life for several turns) but we got into a stalemate on board and I couldn’t quite close it out. He got down a Fleet Swallower and attacked, getting a Traumatize effect. My immediate next topdeck was a Sure Strike for exactsies on a trampler through his blocker. I love a good results-oriented lul 😀

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Hour’s up

Did my (most likely) last HOU-AKH draft down at the store and also my last sealed league online before Ixalan hits. My last league deck was only okay, but I was happy with it – triple Open Fire and double Struggle // Survive was nice, and I had big poppa Sifter Wurm up top. Manabase is kinda bad but it mostly worked out. My only losses were to a couple decks with gods – although I did snipe a single game from an opponent with The Scarab God. He didn’t see I could use Mirage Mirror to copy the god, plus make a black with Oasis Ritualist to steal the card he targeted with the god’s token ability. I mean, he killed me in game three but that was still sweet.

So, yeah, there’s nothing special about this deck but it is a good example of a deck I’d be perfectly content to run through a league. I lost track of how many leagues I did – a couple dozen or so. I can’t think of another format in my time playing (started around Core 2010) that so drastically improved with the addition of the second set. Amonkhet-only was kinda sucky in my opinion – you’d get ranched by whoever had more Gust Walkers and Hooded Brawlers. Hour of Devastation slowed everything way down so you could jack around, get to seven mana and cast your Sifter Wurms. I’m here for the midrangey durdlefests.

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CancerTube

You’re probably familiar with the concept of “going down a rabbit hole” on the internet. You innocently click one oddball link and the next thing you know, you’ve spent two hours watching dermatology videos on r/popping. It can happen to anyone!

I recently fell down a “bad Magic YouTube” rabbit hole and I’m just so confused… who are these people? Who are the people watching these people? Now, there is certainly a ton of great Magic content available on YouTube, like a video of a pro narrating a draft – that makes sense to me. But some guy recording himself opening a booster pack… and then some other guy making a response video about the first guy’s pack opening video… and yet another guy making a video commentary on those first two guys’ interaction… I don’t get it and it creeps me out a little bit.

I feel like something is hinky. Like, with the whole world. I’ve been reading this author, Laird Barron, who does kind of eldritch horror stuff (e.g. The Imago Sequence; The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All). The guy’s work is just tremendous, I highly recommend it. The stories often involve a person who’s caught a glimpse of the inscrutable forces that exist just beyond our perception, and the inevitable ruin that comes from knowing too much.

That’s kind of how I feel when I see Tolarian Community College talking about whether it’s “worth it” to buy a Commander precon. I feel a creeping existential dread. My mind shatters, dashed upon the jet-black rocks of wackness.

Like I said: Hinky.

So, somehow I arrived at a video of this guy, Unsleeved Media, doing a hard-hitting investigative journalism takedown of this other guy, Bad Boy MTG. From what I can tell, both Unsleeved Media and Bad Boy MTG make completely terrible garbage content. Trying to say that one is any better than the other is like deciding which of your nuts to smash with a ball-peen hammer. It’s a distinction without a difference.

This guy Bad Boy (how can you be an actual adult human and choose to call yourself “Bad Boy?”) primarily does pack opening videos. If that wasn’t stupid enough, he also does “repack” opening videos. Repacks are eBay scams where a seller will bundle up a booster’s worth of loose cards and sell it as a “pack,” typically with a claim that somewhere in the pool of repacks there is a chance at a very valuable card. It’s a stupid idea that’s been around forever – here’s a 2011 Chas Andres article on repacks. It’s like buying a raffle ticket, I guess, and you just have to trust that they really will pay out the grand prize. Seems bad.

So Bad Boy allegedly faked some of his repack videos and Unsleeved Media exposed the deception. Total cringefest, a couple idiots slapfighting each other over nonsense. Bad Boy even starts crying in one of the videos. In the related videos sidebar, I see this other guy, DesolatorMagic, doing commentary on the issue and he’s gotta be the worst of them all. Holy cow, these people are wild. They suck more than anything I’ve ever encountered in this sphere. Yet, based on view counts, they appear to each have a bit of a fanbase. I am grotesquely fascinated. What is going on here?

That’s a screenshot of a Bad Boy video where he is autographing a worthless draft common for a fan, for some reason? What the hell for? Some non-zero number of people apparently facilitate this by sending money to this guy via Patreon. These people are allowed to walk around in society. They’re allowed to, like, vote and shit.

Incredibly tilting.

There is some self-sorting here that’s pretty interesting. I think people must feel a tribalistic urge to connect with other people who are roughly as dumb as they are. Apparently Magic-playing internet denizens, at least the YouTube-dwelling ones, will naturally identify an archetypal example of the general sort of player they themselves are, and gravitate toward that individual in a cultish fashion. This is often in spite of or, bizarrely, specifically because of an orientation toward anti-excellence. DesolatorMagic, for example, defines himself by aggressively sucking and being hyper-wrong about Magic. He and his fans don’t characterize it that way, of course, but the data is right there on the channel.

Is there any other field of endeavor where people intentionally glom on to personalities that objectively, willfully suck at whatever the activity is? I can’t think of an example. This isn’t the same as being, say, a long-suffering sports fan who sticks with a crummy team even though they stink year after year. In that scenario, there’s always a desire that the team will turn it around and do well. Indeed, Magic might be unique in facilitating this phenomenon. There seems to be a sizeable contingent that effectively enjoys sucking and is hungry for a sucklord to lead them in suckery. When competing sucklords (Unsleeved, Bad Boy, Desolator, others) clash, the resulting suckstorm is… I’m at a loss, my brain has liquified and poured out of my ears at this point.

I think it would be fascinating if we could somehow round up several of these people and hold a special tournament, complete with deluxe streaming coverage and deck techs, draft viewers and the whole enchilada. It would surely be nothing less than a landmark study in contemporary anthropology.

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