Franklin “Blitzzfrank” Dillich

I lost a friend today.

We lost a friend today.

Franklin Dillich was a soul of great passion, he believed in games in a way few do anymore. He believed in their power to unite us, to create narratives between people of unrelated backgrounds, to bring players from around the world together. Not only to find shiny Pokemon or cheer on their favorite team, but to do things for their communities, for other players.

He believed that everyone, players and non-players alike, could engage around something, League or otherwise, and come to a mutual understanding not only about what good gaming can do, but it’s place in this increasingly interwoven culture of ours.

For all their toxicity and bluster, games like League, Starcraft, WoW, Magic, and so on transcend the barriers commonly thought to separate us. They are a language unto themselves that anyone can communicate with.

That he is gone, means the world is a darker place.

Rest in Peace, Frank. You will be sorely missed.


Mage Ring Woes

So the full spoiler for Magic Origins just dropped and I’m a little sad about one of the lands in the set. Namely:

en_tiOYYQh6s8It feels like a huge flavor miss to have a land based on a system of rings that channel mana being such a slow and ponderous storage system. Why couldn’t it have been this?


But Trevor! That card looks a lot like this one!

Image.ashxOkay sure, Cloudpost is a broken card, but Glimmerpost, Thespian’s Stage, and Vesuva contribute to that and even with the latter two at it’s disposal, this tweak to Mage Rings is hardly on par with the Locus-based land of yesteryear.

Let’s look at how these altered rings compete with 12-Post (assuming you can always play a land that would increase the count).

Mage Rings 12-Post
Turn One
  • Max Mana: 1
  • 1 Mage Ring Network
  • Max Mana: 0
  • 1 Cloudpost
Turn Two
  • Max Mana: 0
  • Add 1 Storage counter
  • 2 Mage Ring Network
  • Max Mana: 3 (1*2L + 1)
  • +2 life
  • 1 Cloudpost, 1 Glimmerpost
Turn Three
  • Max Mana: 3 (1SC x 3)
  • 2 Storage Counters
  • 3 Mage Ring Network
  • Max Mana: 4 (1*3L + 1)
  • 2 Cloudpost, 1 Glimmerpost
Turn Four
  • Max Mana: 2 (2)
  • 4 Storage Counters
  • 4 Mage Ring Network
  • Max Mana: 9 (2*4L + 1)
  • 3 Cloudpost, 1 Glimmerpost
Turn Five (The Emrakul Point)
  • Max Mana: 16 (3SC x 5 + 1)
  • 1 Storage Counter
  • 4 Mage Ring Network, 1 Vesuva (MRN)
  • Max Mana: 16 (3*5L + 1)
  • 4 Cloudpost, 1 Glimmerpost
Turn Six
  • Max Mana: 6 (1SC X 6)
  • 4 Storage Counters
  • 4 Mage Ring Network, 2 Vesuva (MRN)
  • Max Mana: 30 (24L + 2)
  • +6 life
  • 4 Cloudpost, 2 Glimmerpost
Turn Seven
  • Max Mana: 28 (4SC x 7)
  • 2 Storage Counters
  • 4 Mage Ring Network, 3 Vesuva (MRN)
  • Max Mana: 31 (4*7L + 3)
  • +7 life
  • 4 Cloudpost, 3 Glimmerpost
Turn Eight
  • Max Mana: 16 (2SC x 8)
  • 5 Storage Counters
  • 4 Mage Ring Network, 4 Vesuva (MRN)
  • Max Mana: 35 (4*8L + 4)
  • +8 life
  • 4 Cloudpost, 4 Glimmerpost
Turn Nine
  • Max Mana: 37 (1SC x 7) – 2 + (4SC x 8)
  • 2 Storage Counters
  • 4 Mage Ring Network, 4 Vesuva (MRN), 1 Thespian’s Stage (MRN)
  • Max Mana: 40 (4*9L + 4)
  • +9 life
  • 4 Cloudpost, 4 Glimmerpost, 1 Vesuva (GP)

I could go on, doing the math for making Thespian’s Stages into Cloudposts and Mage Ring Networks, but the pattern is evident. Every other turn, or there about, the Mage Ring Network would provide a boost of mana rivaling Cloudpost and friends.

However, that’s all you’re doing.

To keep up with 12-Post, each turn all your lands are either tapped to make mana or to put a storage counter on them. There’s also the real truth is that Glimmerpost is gaining a non-incidental amount of life whenever it or Vesuva enter the battlefield. So yes, in an Eternal Environment, the Mage Ring Network I proposed produces just about as much mana as 12-post every other turn, but that’s assuming five of the 12 cards you see in the first five turns are 4 Network and 1 Vesuva.

Without Vesuva, in Standard specifically, the Network is limited to 16 mana maximum every other turn. And I’ll admit that’s a lot of mana, but against some of the aggro decks in the format right now, playing four lands and then potentially casting Emrakul is a quick way to get to game two. I plan on doing more testing to see if my feeling is still correct–that the Network imitating Cloudpost would be inferior in every way–so keep an eye on this space.

The Hazzards of Social Politics and Depression

I haven’t posted here in a very long time, in part because the things I wanted to talk about involved friends and I am still not really sure how to separate my personal struggles from difficulties in interacting with people. It is not as if I don’t appreciate the positions I held since this time last year, but it was a trying time all the same.

The months spent working at the shop were some of my fondest days from the last year, maybe even since we moved away from RIchmond, but it’s hard to divorce that fondness from the reality of a four or more hour commute round trip and ten hour shifts which ate up my summer with a voracity that rivaled Pac-Man. I enjoyed the people I was working with after that, but frustrations with slipping expectations and occasionally poor communication made each week more and more of a struggle.

And that’s all I’ll say about either of those things. My drafts are full of half finished posts that start with complaints. There’s multiple years of my life that are encapsulated in a couple paragraphs here and there. Maybe, some day, I’ll delete them. For now, they’ll stay there.They were chapters in the much larger narrative starring depression and hopelessness that spans most of my life. It’s hard to say now, wrapped in feelings more bleak than ever, that I could have been happier had I tried, but to be honest, I’m not sure I know how to be happy any more.

I mean, yes, I smile about things that happen. I laugh at a good joke. I have good days. But these things, each of them, feel ephemeral. They just roll off me before I can really come to grips with them. To put it in less hyperbolic terms, my baseline mood has fallen to a depth where I see Persephone on a regular basis.

I’m not suicidal, I’m not crippled, I just don’t feel happy or engaged in my day to day life. I’ve pretty much given up on any project besides the Calendar, which is really just data entry and research, because being creative, pulling things out of the depths of my soul, takes more energy than I seem to have any more. It was always a challenge to write or draw or do design stuff before. My attention always wandered. My workload frequently became overwhelming. Now my attention slips even sooner, I feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to do necessary things, much less spend five hours sketching with nothing to show for it.

The moment there’s resistance, or something else to do, I’m there.

I used to be this font of ideas, I wrote constantly. Scribbled all the time. A lot has changed, we’ve moved three times, I’ve had a few jobs, but the biggest is not being in the classroom on a regular basis anymore. I wonder if being out of school is the culprit not only in my declining creativity, but my overall downturn. I don’t have hours to listen to people talk while I do other things. I don’t have people interested in what I’m thinking about. I’m not really learning anything. Things are so matter of fact in my field. They’re handed down from higher up on the machine. No one discusses anything, that’s for the business to do.

To say it a different way, I feel like now all I am is this guy whose life is falling down around him because he dreamed too much, was too defiant when all signs pointed to no, and stuck it out because he believed things would get better.

I used to be powered by a sense of wonder, a sense of enjoyment towards what the day would hold. I used to rebound from my melancholy mindset each day. I’ve never really been a morning person, but I’ve never had so much trouble waking up as I have in the last two years. I know what the day is going to be like before it’s happened. Why bother getting up?

On occasion I get that feeling of wonder again, I even put my hands on it this weekend driving through the Pennsylvania countryside, and I feel like the me I remember being. The me who knew things were bad, but managed to leave that behind when need be.The me who was curious.

I’d really like to find that feeling more consistently.

Sir Fluffington III le MewMew


Rescued in 2007, Merlin as we called him, was a cat with an inordinate amount of personality. His wit and mischief will be missed. He was soft, reassuring, and smelled like oatmeal on a cold winter morning.

He entered our lives suddenly and was there for us throughout college and grad school. Adopted the hour of his execution, I like to think we helped him steal seven years from fate. During that time he’s was a loving companion, even if he was a bit of an asshole, and I will miss him dearly.

Rest is peace, dear friend. Travel safely to the other side. I hope they have turkey for you, I know it was your favorite.

Been Busy

Though really, when I think about what I’ve been doing, it’s hard to justify it as “busy”. Sure, my time is being used by social commitments, work, and sleeping, but if feels like a lot of it just vanishes into the cracks between those things. It’s hard to pin it what exactly, I don’t feel like I spend all that much time gaming or working on Magic–even if I did spend a few hours getting things in order yesterday.

Still, the point stands. Working on regular, writerly content has been a bigger hurdler than I though it would be. (I have gotten three articles up on mtgbrodeals though, so I’ve got that going for me). Everything I want to talk about is in here *taps head* but, it’s packed away. Buried under layers of comics knowledge I picked up over the summer, Magic news, and trying to remember what bills are due when. Unpacking the plots, character ideas, and story beats is proving far more difficult that simply removing some tape and moving the flaps aside.

I want to establish a night during the week as writing night and start reviewing my draft.

More soon!

A Return to Form

I’ve not posted here in months and my last post was about Magic and not about my writing. Since I completed my thesis I have done exactly zero work on it, the book still have nine chapters to edit and another two to write. The end is in sight, but for the better part of last year, writing just wasn’t happening.

As might be obvious from the start point on my radio silence, I finally picked up a job at the end of May. I was working at a friend’s forth comic book shop in lower Delaware. Five days of the week, I drove the better part of two hours there, would work a eight to ten hour shift and then drive back to my in-laws for another hour and forty-five. I worked a double on Sundays and Wednesdays.

Needless to say, there wasn’t much time in the day for anything else, but it kept us afloat. That’s not knocking the job as a whole, by the way. I got to spend a summer working at the beach, talking about comic books and board games with people from all over the country. It was the kind of work I really do enjoy doing. It was the 3 or so hours I spent driving and the routinely getting home well after 1 am that was really taxing on both my life and my health.

Now though, I’m looking at having more time to do things again.

First off, I passed my Level One judge test for Magic. This means I am now, or will be once the paperwork is filed, certified to run small events and assist on larger ones. I’ll talk more about it later this week. Which brings me to my second thing. Since I’m posting on MTGBroDeals regularly now, I plan to not post articles about playing Magic here going forward. This is a space for my writing, a place for me to talk about my craft and to interact with people who are interested in that. I’m working on a series of posts to get myself back into FourFold and make the final push to completing the novel. So stay tuned for that!

’til next time!


[WIP] GW Enchantress

Those who know me, know I love decks that are complex and have lots of interactions. I love a deck that rewards tight play and a solid grasp of its play lines.

In the days or yore, I played a casual Enchantress deck with Bramble Elemental and Aura’s like RancorMark of Fury, Crown of Flame, Fiery Mantle, and Ghitu Firebreathing. When I saw that GW Enchantress was a thing in Legacy I immediately wanted to play it. Granted, it’s not a very popular archetype and the argument against playing the deck is very reasonable. It is, for the most part, a bunch of separate pieces that do nothing alone and eventually coalesce into a win-condition–some would argue too slowly. In other words, Enchantress is a Control deck with a combo finish and in a format where combo also includes Show and Tell, Hypergenesis, and ANT, a turn nine or ten win just isn’t as impressive.

However, what about in standard?

Ever since we were told Theros was going to be an Enchantment block, I was hoping for the pieces to play a Standard-level Enchantress. Well, we got this:


I was skeptical at first when I saw our enchantment Enchantress was 4CMC, but in a world with Aburpt Decay 2GG is actually better than 1GG and besides, the three-drop slot is packed full of other wonderful toys. Cards like Courser, Boon Satyr and Banishing Light, cards that make the deck not just a collection of enchantments that do almost nothing but instead of collection of creatures that can beat down. The list I’m playing right now was inspired by the one Tomohoro Saito posted right when Nyx released.

I’ve since changed the list after a week of general success and then a week of nothing but draws as game one took forever.

2014-05-13 19.23.48
Deck List

Lands Creature Spells Non-Creature Spells
  • 4x Temple of Plenty
  • 4x Temple Garden
  • 9x Forest
  • 5x Plains
  • 4x Elvish Mystic
  • 3x Sylvan Caryatid
  • 3x Nyx-Fleece Ram
  • 4x Courser of Kruphix
  • 4x Eidolon of Blossoms
  • 1x Heliod, God of the Sun
  • 2x Archangel of Thune
  • 2x Karametra, God of Harvests
  • 3x Oppressive Rays
  • 4x Banishing Light
  • 4x Sphere of Safety
  • 2x Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
  • 2x Primeval Bounty

The core of the deck’s power is Sphere of Safety. Since just about all of your creatures are also enchantments, sphere stacks up rather quickly and most decks can’t even get through an enchantment count of three or four. It’s not like the deck fails to operate without it either. The Caryatids, Rams, and Coursers are massive brick walls for most decks that allow you to get past turns five and six when Elspeth, Karametra, and Thune take over the game. Rays and Light make for an effective removal package, placing a further tax on their earlier threats trying to attack and removing big threats somewhat permanently.

I’ve so far had pretty solid matches against Aggro and most Mid-range decks, but devotion Decks–especially those playing Nykthos–can push through a single Sphere without too much trouble. Gray Merchant and Fanatic of Mogis are both very dangerous cards, since you really only have four spells that remove a permanent from the field.

Which is why my sideboard is as follows:

  • 2x Banisher Priest (More real removal)
  • 3x Selesnya Charm (Mostly for GR monsters, and Mono-Black)
  • 3x Mistcutter Hydra (Can win blue based match-ups all on its own)
  • 2x Rest In Peace (Better for this deck than Scavenging Ooze)
  • 2x Bramblecrush (My answer to Nykthos)
  • 3x Celestial Flare (My only real hope against Hexproof)

I had the Thunes side, but I feel like I need to be able to win/steal Game One so that I’m under less pressure to close out two more games and with the Rams, Coursers, and Primeval Bounty, I do gain a lot of life and my creatures get massive quickly. I’ll have a report from states after this weekend, but until then, if you have any questions leave me a comment or tweet me @darkr3x.

Until next time, my all your top decks be excellent.

Losing Your Self Means You Can Find It Again

So I’ve been gone for a while and not just in the literal sense that I haven’t made very many blog posts. I mean that, for a few months there, I was losing who I was. Granted, that concept of identity has always been a bit vague for me, I’m just a little bit everywhere all the time. I’ve never felt like I’m a cohesive person, but fortunately I’ve got enough of a through line that I can cling to the fact that I love to learn things and I love solving puzzles.

Anyway, current issues first. Heres the tl;dr.

  • I was laid off in November.
  • I finished my creative thesis.
  • I put together an anthology of work from my classmates.
  • I won an award for being an important part of the Stonecoast Community.
  • I wound up mind-locked during my thesis presentation and failed that.
  • I did further research on my third-semester project to make up my presentation. Will likely post it up here in part.
  • I interviewed for a job in Maine and was offered a position, but I couldn’t accept.
  • I started going to therapy.
  • I got jerked around by at least four job opportunities in DC.
  • Same with Richmond.
  • I turned in my make-up paper and was sent my MFA. I’ve not written anything since then.
  • I moved in with my in-laws. I am looking for work in Wilmington/Philly.
  • I helped launch a ASCII-based rogue-like game.
  • I went to GPPhilly.
  • I started on the path to being an Level 1 DCI Judge
  • I started work on a comprehensive calendar for Magic events.

I will write a follow up to this at a later time, I want to unpack things a bit more.

[Community Calendar] Regional Calendar Links


Hi all!

I’ve been busy for the last couple of hours getting the regional calendars to talk to the master calendar which will push event postings to @CMTYCalendarMTG. They’re still mostly empty as the process is labor intensive but, if you want to subscribe to the regional calendars, their links for Google Calendar are below. If you would like the RSS Feed or iCal information shoot me a comment below or a tweet @darkr3x.

West Coast Calendar:
Southern Calendar:
South East Calendar:
Mid-Atlantic Calendar:
North East Calendar:
Rust Belt Calendar:
MidWest Calendar:
Master Calendar(all events in all regions):

I’m working on loading in the major events, but if your store is holding a community event let me know here or on twitter. If your LGS has a twitter, also let me know so I can follow them!

Until next time!

Playing Magic Regionally

There was a pretty big conversation on twitter yesterday which arose out of the angst about PastTimes making GPATL and GPCHI $50 events. One of the threads was a demand for greater regional support to alleviate the pressure from GPs. And while I think that’ll help, I’m not sure if such a structure is viable for Wizards to support at the moment.

So I was thinking why don’t we as players make something happen?

For example, the LGS in Dover, DE I’m playing at now is starting up a monthly series they’re calling “Standard for Power.” Each month they’re looking for 20 people to play standard at $25 so they can put a Mox in the prize pool. This month–this Saturday, even–is a Ruby and I know an Opal and Sapphire remain as well. On the smaller scale, they play Vintage (proxies welcome) on Tuesdays and EDH on Saturdays. I know other stores have to be having similar events, so why not network?

If your store holds weekly events, let me know here or on twitter (@darkr3x). I’ll work on boosting the signal for them with the goal of building stronger regional communities.