Category Archives: Uncategorized

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!


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.

Home from Stonecoast

20140124_210257It feels weird, knowing that (right now, at least) I won’t be packing and traveling up north next Summer. I’m done, I’ve graduated.

Now what?

Well, I still need a job, but I’m much more inclined now to just work on things instead of worrying about something I only have marginal control over. I’ve got stories to write, comics to draw, and games to cast.

Speaking of, I’m likely going to work on launching a new blog to support LOLRVA, the League of Legends community down in Richmond, VA. I’ve got a fair number of friends down there that play and since I’m shoutcasting for them anyway, I might as well boost the community a bit. More on that at a later date.

I’m going to keep playing Magic, even if I’m not going to be at the top of my game with being unable to buy all the cards I need to play on the bleeding edge of competition. So those articles aren’t going to go away, but there’ll likely not be very many tourney reports.

Above everything else, FourFold. I’m closer than ever to a finished manuscript and I have to capitalize on that momentum. There’s about three to four more major plot points between where I am and the end (of the first book) I just need to write the terrible sketch versions of the chapters and then tear everything post-thesis apart and explode it out to a fuller size.

Anyway, I’ve put off putting this up long enough and while it’s rather anemic, something is better than nothing.

’til next time!~


Got a call this morning to let me know I was being let go. That my last day is November 30.

I wish I could be excited, but all I feel is numb. I’m so scared right now.

More to come.

[Magic Mondays] RtR Mechanics Spoilers

MY co,umn about Magic: The Gahtering

Its here folks! Return to Ravnica Spoilers started dropping on Saturday and now the mad dash of card reveals has begun. The updating list is on the Wizards site and I’d love to talk  about all of them, but I just want to focus on the new guild mechanics in this week’s column.

For those not in the know, RtR will feature five of Ravnica’s ten guilds. (For those even less in the know, don’t worry, it’s okay. All you need to know is that Ravnica plays using all ten two-color combinations, each represented by a guild.)  The guilds featured will be Azorius, Golgari, Izzet, Rakdos, and Selesnya. With that, lets talk mechanics.


The Senate’s return brings with it the mechanic of Detain. Fitting for a host of bureaucratic might. However, compared to Forecast, Detain has a totally different feel. It’s not so much a threat of action now as much as it is a halting of it. I like the flavor, but I’m not sure what effect it’ll have on game tempo. I mean yeah, it’ll feel great playing it, but playing against it will definitely have an un-fun factor to it.

That said, I’m not sure where it’ll go aside from limited and block constructed.  The staples of the current competitive scene that will remain don’t rely on extra creatures, so unless there are instants and sorceries that will also have detain, I don’t see this fitting in with anything built. That said, the mechanic is fairly strong and I could see constructed working around it, especially if there’s an enchantment for “When a creature ETBs, detain.”


The Swarm’s return brings with it a mechanic that’s appeared before, though in smaller form, on the infamous Scavenging Ooze. Scavenge puts a number of +1/+1 counters on a target creature, making Golgari a strong late game competitor. It also works marvels when paired with Dredge, and I wish they were printing both mechanics and not just the new one.

That said, I’m really looking forward to seeing it in action. I just wish other passive abilities were also granted. Like with this spoiler card, I wish Scavenging it also granted Deathtouch.


The League’s new machanic, Overload, converts any single target spell with the keyword into a board hitting spell blast when more mana is pumped into the spell. Flavor wise, its very them. Gameplay wise, it allows early spells to be late spells. Between these two points, I don’t really see a downside to it beyond the absurd mana costs. It’s certainly more accessible than Replicate was and its got some real applications.

I’m looking forward to seeing what some of the permanents are like and seeing how they make the flavor spread around.


The cult of Rakdos had an odd mechanic in Hellbent, and Unleashed is equally interesting. Throwing away defense for more offense works very well flavor-wise, but I’m not sure how strong the mechanic is, especially when compared to Selesnya’s ability to make lots of creatures with Populate. However, a couple of cards spoiled out of Golgari, along with staples like Doubling Season, it might see some very focused constructed play in modern. If there are lots of state altering enchantments based around +1/+1 counters I can see the guild doing well in limited, but otherwise I don’t see much application to the current Standard scene.

Then again, there could always be another Rakdos Pit Dragon and all of it is worth one bad-ass card.


 The Conclave’s new mechanic is Populate. Populate is simple and straight forward. Make a copy of a creature token you have in play. From a flavor standpoint, it really fits with the guild’s concept of a growing army that wins by overwhelming numbers and it’s a lot more balanced then Convoke was.

Coming out of Innstrad and M13, tokens are a pretty big way of doing things right now and Green/White is the king of token generation.  With the ability to make copies of tokens, I can see some white splash becoming a real boon  for Red/Black vampire decks or there being some fun interactions with Seance, Cackling Counterpart, and other make a token copy of a creature cards in the Standard pool right now.

I will say that it’ll make limited play particularly fun and I’d like to see it get play in Modern.

All in all, I really like the mechanics and they all work really well for limited. I can not wait for the 29th and these next few weeks are going to be super exciting. Catch ya’ll next week!