Ways that Wizards could Improve Legacy

Many of us Magic players are Legacy enthusiasts. We love the format – we’re heavily invested into it, we love playing with some of the most powerful cards ever printed, and we have been doing so for years. More recently, Wizards has seen fit to promote the Modern format heavily – it will be the Standard of eternal formats. The reasons for doing so are sound – the biggest being that the reserved list exists. That all being said, I believe that it is in Wizard’s best interest to continue to promote Legacy as well as Modern through some direct injections of key card reprints as well as maybe some alternatives for reserved list items. Here are a few ideas I’ve thought of.

Obviously, the biggest restriction to Legacy growth is the supply of dual lands. There, Wizards could easily come up with some plausible alternatives. Snow duals have often been floated – it’s not a bad idea, but it’s a bit of a cop-out. Snow duals would be almost exact functional reprints of regular duals, and they would have to be introduced into Standard. That could be a nightmare for many a reason. Another idea would be some type of hexproof dual with a penalty, such as enters tapped or requires loss of life to be played. A hexproof dual would also ease the need to own Wastelands in the format as well, which would be a good thing. While we’re at it, Wasteland and Rishadan Port are certainly nearing time for a reprint.

Another idea is to print Force of Will – in Standard. Having Force of Will in Standard would be a blast – Legacy players would make Standard decks just to play Force. In all likelihood, it would not be stellar in Standard because it’s a combo-killer and there isn’t much combo happening in Standard. Where there’s been a history of broken combo, though, is Modern. Adding Force of Will would certainly be a big change for Modern, but who’s to say that’s a bad thing? Having Force of Will in Modern possibly would have precluded a need to ban a bunch of the more powerful combo decks, too. Nothing would please me more than to see an easing of the Modern banned list, like there has been with Legacy over the years.

Yet another idea would be to make some very powerful tribal lands. There are certain tribes that border on Legacy playability – such as vampires, zombies, and wizards. If there were some lands that added a powerful effect for those tribes (and maybe some spicy meatballs for goblins and merfolk too), it could boost them to Legacy playability – Modern, too. Those decks already have access to Mutavault and Aether Vial through some recent reprints. Adding them to Legacy could create an awesome new era, and it could be done deliberately.

There are certainly more things that could be done. I don’t think it would be too much to ask for Wizards to do something big to inject new life into Legacy. It’s a great format, and there are many players that are dedicated to it. Vintage is a broken beast, but Legacy is a well oiled format – there is so rarely a dominant archetype that it is no stretch to say Legacy has the best stability among all formats, Standard included. That alone is reason enough to keep it around – until Modern proves itself as the worthy successor, it would be a shame to destroy the most beautiful thing you’ve ever created.

Ferretarmy.com has a New Hosting Provider!

Ferretarmy has been hosted by GoDaddy since 2007. Today, this is no more.

GoDaddy has a penchant for being in the news, in almost all cases for negative reasons. I believe people were rightfully outraged when they heard the founder likes to shoot elephants. Their advertising is juvenile. Their pricing strategies are infuriatingly complex, and they constantly try to upsell services that often should be free (private domain registration, anyone?). Their tools (thought they have come a LONG way since 2007) are complex, poorly designed, and unintuitive. Worst of all, they initially supported SOPA – this move alone caused customers to leave in droves┬álate last year.

Well, enough is enough at some point, no? Instead of renewing my hosting contract for Ferretarmy.com in July, I decided to take the plunge and move off Godaddy compeletely (hosting AND domains). Moving a website, even one built on top of WordPress, is not exactly trivial (though let’s not get too far out there – it’s definitely not rocket science either!). All Ferretarmy.com properties are now hosted with Dreamhost – so far, I’ve been very impressed with the toolset that Dreamhost provides, as well as their customer-centered approach to web hosting.

 

CISPA

CISPA is the latest cyber-intelligence legislation passing through Congress. Basically, it’s goal is to legally allow companies (like Facebook, for instance) to share user information with the Federal government.

Obviously, the government should be able to have access to private information online in order to prevent crimes they are reasonably certain are going to happen. This is not a new concept – we have the same needs in the physical world, where a set of checks and balances has been established to allow the needs of law enforcement while protecting a reasonable amount of our privacy. Law enforcement uses the courts to obtain permission to gather information that would be reasonably otherwise private.

I wanted to educate myself on CISPA – is it a reasonable piece of legislation, or does it allow an unlimited breach of privacy, as it’s detractors have said? I took a reasonable time to look over the legislation, and there was one thing that struck me about it fairly immediately. Go here, to the official repository of the CISPA draft. Click on the latest version, and search for the word ‘warrant’. No results found.

What’s so bad about getting a warrant before asking private companies for information about their users? Is that too much due process? It doesn’t seem to be in the physical world. Any legislation that addresses cyber-intelligence (or, in other words, all the public and private data online) should carry with it a system of checks and balances that prevent abuse. As such, CISPA is deeply flawed and cannot be reasonably justified. FerretArmy.com stands with Tim Berners-Lee in saying that CISPA threatens the rights of all citizens and should never be enacted.

The Penny, a Blight Upon the Money System

There has been some recent news about the US proposing to alter the composition of the penny, to make it cheaper to produce. The US has minted the Lincoln penny coin since 1909, a little over a hundred years. This is at least a decade too long. The penny is absolutely useless, save for being able to subdivide the nickel, another coin whose utility is somewhat in question. I can’t stand them – they they are often green and smelly from copper oxidization, and they add bulk to your pockets for no real gain. They are inefficient to produce. They don’t interact with anything – you can’t put them into vending machines or parking meters. People don’t value them – very often, they go into the charity jar or ‘take-a-penny’ tray next to a cash register, better left behind than carried along. Rounding prices to the nearest nickel is, on average, going to net you approximately the same amount of money in your pocket, so eliminating the penny is essentially zero-sum.

Worried about Abraham Lincoln losing relevancy in the US if the penny goes away (Illinois)? First, that’s probably not going to happen given that he’s one of the most revered presidents, but even more so, that sounds like a problem worth solving. Take a fraction of the savings from getting rid of the penny and build (another) monument to Lincoln, or transfer his image onto the dollar coin. We send a lot of things into outer space that need names. There certainly is a solution here.

In summary, hate on the penny, and get rid of it.

FerretArmy.com is Anti-SOPA and Anti-PIPA

Today is the great internet blackout day, in protest of the proposed SOPA and PIPA laws winding their way through the US House and Senate respectively. I won’t go too far into detail on my thoughts on these bills other than to say they are destructive to the ability to grow innovative businesses on the internet. They strip due process from copyright infringement claims, which allows entrenched interests (such as the RIAA and MPAA, major backers of this legislation) to censor free speech and destroy fledgling businesses with innovative business models or that take advantage of new technologies. We’ve already seen widespread abuse of the DMCA by these interests, so there is absolutely no reason to believe they will use the new powers granted by SOPA and PIPA in a responsible manner.

I urge you to contact your congressional representatives today to stand in opposition to SOPA and PIPA. Let them know that you oppose these bills!

jsFiddle: The Online Web Editor

I just started playing with jsFiddle, which is an online tool that allows you to test and share HTML/JavaScript fragments. It’s a really neat tool – I’m not entirely sure what it’s boundaries are quite yet, but it’s been pretty amazing so far.

The interface is fairly intuitive – just three panes for HTML, JavaScript, and CSS, and an output pane that displays your rendered content. It also has support for a number of JavaScript frameworks (jQuery, MooTools, etc), and a number of addons for those frameworks. It’s also setup as a collaborative tool – by default, your ‘Fiddles’ are public and accessible by URL. As a quick test of the tool, I ported the code I wrote for my ‘:between‘ jQuery selector – check out the demo here: http://jsfiddle.net/jneal/WmnNJ/.

You can even embed your Fiddles on other websites. Next time I write a post on a coding technique, I’m planning on setting up some examples through jsFiddle. Hopefully it turns out well!

jQuery Templating with .tmpl

Templating of web controls is a valuable technique that allows for code reuse. For example, if you have a repeated list of items with common attributes that need to be displayed on a web page, templating is a great solution. Templating can often be accomplished on the server side through controls such as ASP.NET repeaters. However, with the web of today, asynchronous programming is where it’s at. With AJAX data calls, you often get JSON objects back that must be turned into HTML and displayed on a web page.

There are a few ways of doing so – you could have an asynchronous call return an HTML fragment, for instance (done that). You could also embed placeholders in hidden HTML fragments on a page, and use a combination of jQuery’s clone/replace/append methods to push object data into them (done that too). However, there’s an even better technique available now, as a first-class citizen in the jQuery library – the .tmpl templating API.

jQuery templating is a feature that’s currently in beta (though it is distributed with jQuery as of version 1.4.3), and is based upon an existing templating plugin. I’ve had the pleasure of using the jQuery templating API for a bit of time now, and I admit that it is by far the easiest, most robust templating solution I’ve found. There are template controls for repeaters ({{each}}), conditional statements ({{if}} and {{else}}), templated HTML fragments ({{html}}), and wrapping ({{wrap}}). That’s a lot of functionality out of the box!

By far my favorite part of html templating, however, is the <script type=’text/x-jquery-tmpl’></script> tagging that you can wrap around your template fragments. One thing I’ve disliked with templating is that you have to embed potentially malformed HTML into your page – for instance, you might end up having to template id attributes. Malformed html is not the worst thing in the world, especially in hidden fields, but it certainly doesn’t help with search engine rankings and such. Having a way of clearly saying “I’m a template fragment” is a great thing, both for search engines and general maintainability.

If you haven’t gotten a chance to take a look at jQuery templating, now is certainly a great time to do so. It comes for free with jQuery, and it’s a fast, easy, and robust solution for templating needs.

text/x-jquery-tmpl

Triple MBS Drafting

I’ve been doing a ton of triple Mirrodin Besieged drafting on Magic Online lately, and I’ve been winning my fair share of packs. Triple MBS is a limited-time draft format, so there likely won’t be much strategy written around it. Triple MBS is a great format to draft because it’s a small set (less packs opened) and because it has relatively more money cards than Scars of Mirrodin. Okay, onto some thoughts.

First, I don’t think infect is a very good strategy in triple MBS. The infect cards are spread out across too many colors, so getting a deck together is tough. Second, the best infect cards are also the best cards against infect. Blight Widow and Priests of Norn will be highly picked by everyone, so you’ll end up with the drecks, like Flensermite. Third, infect is a popular (but bad) strategy, so the cards will be that much harder to come by.

Fangren Marauder is first-pickable. I’ve not had any trouble picking up a full playset of these in most of my drafts, and I’ll always splash green to play them. They are the nuts against non-infect decks, and they are even great against infect. Next, anything that gives a -1/-1 counter or does one damage is playable, and probably will be awesome in your deck. Any guaranteed 2-for-1 is playable (even Myr Sire). Sword of Feast and Famine isn’t nearly as threatening as you think – it’s a mana sink in the early turns, and every deck should have an answer to it (maindecked, none the less). There are far fewer mana fixing cards to make splashing three colors easy in triple MBS than there are in Scars (no mana Myrs), so Sphere of the Suns is a great pickup, as well as Viridian Emissary.

So, what do I think is the most playable strategy in this format? Red-Green artifact sacrifice. The core of this deck is anything that works with artifact sacrfice – Fangren Marauder, Gnathosaur, Ichor Wellspring, Myr Sire, Kutholda Flamefiend, Myr Turbine, Spine of Ish Sah, and such. Red in general has powerful cards all along the curve, and the synergy that can be put together in with this core of cards is amazing. In general, I’m very open to also splashing white in these colors, for things like Master’s Call, Divine Offering, Priests of Norn, and Choking Fumes. If you happen to open a Spine of Ish Sah, try your hardest to get a Treasure Mage, and pick Gnathosaur high.

I highly recommend triple MBS drafting to anyone that has such an inclination. It’s a great format that won’t be around for long, so enjoy it while you can!

My Zendikar Full Art Lands

One of my more ambitious recent projects was to extend the art of all the full-art versions of all the Magic: The Gathering Zendikar lands. Zendikar lands aren’t particularly valuable, but they do lend themselves very well to having their art extended. In addition, I can always use full art lands – just about every other card in Magic rotates eventually, which was a concern of mine, since I primarily play Standard (for now). In any case, check these out (the pictures aren’t the best, but nobody ever accused me of being a professional photographer):

zen_plains zen_islands zen_swamps zen_mountains zen_forests

I’ve got quite a few other painted cards in my collection, mostly for my cube (still a work in progress). I might add pics of those cards in the future, if people would like me to do so. In case you’re wondering, I don’t currently do any for-hire card painting. The paints I use are Citadel model paints from Games Workshop, which are pretty widely available.