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By: Paul Leicht, Paul Emerson Leicht
May 25 2012 8:27am
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Logo by Winter.Wolf Ask in game if you want one of your own.

 

Sorry, No Michelle.
At the beginning of this year I predicted I would be interviewing FD_Sunie (aka Michelle Roberson) of the 2011 CCC fame. Sadly her life as a student/Frag Doll Cadette and general social butterfly meant that she never could find the time to fill out the somewhat lengthy interview questionnaire I sent her in January. By March I'd almost given up but was giving her some more time because she said she had midterms to deal with and could I wait. By the end of April I knew the article was dead in the water and let her off the hook via email. She was apologetic and contrite but I am guessing this was not in her comfort zone. For one, I believe she has not been online so much since the CCC and perhaps the allure of the game has lost its appeal for her since I know she is busy playing Assassin's Creed and other games.

So my own apologies for not bringing you that interview as promised. To make up for it I have combined a 2 in 1 by interviewing both BlippyTheSlug and Leviathan (Tarasco on Magic Online.) You know like those old time Marvel Team-Up issues.

Blippy + Leviathan = Sad Villains

How this will go:
Because I interviewed both of these fine gents by email and with different questions in some cases and not in a group setting I will try to weave their answers together where they mesh. I hope this doesn't disconcert you, my readers.

Both of these fellows are active and in my opinion important members of the community. As Tarasco on MTGO, Leviathan has opened our collective eyes to the world of Commander like no other writer in the field tackling many diverse subjects within the format. Unpopular commanders? Check. Broken cards? Check. Hard to deal with Commanders? Check. And so on. Initially this was going to be simply an article about this guide who has been setting an great example of competitive fun in Commander for years. However, Ham On Wry's inception, snowballing and execution changed my mind dramatically.

BlippyTheSlug has been quietly and over a long period of time (years) been impressing me and while we had a rocky start I have come to not only respect the Gastropod Mollusk but admire him as well. The man singlehandedly just finished hosting a marathon in the name of our friend Erik "Hamtastic" Friborg and weeks later I am still reverberating from the consequences of that. He also has established himself very nicely here as a veteran article writer, giving us important weekly updates on the modern scene as well as reporting on several of his own Player Run Events.

And so I had to do both interviews at once. As always I will use my in game name (Winter.Wolf) and theirs as well. Since there are three of us, Blippy will be in purple, Leviathan in blue and myself in green. Without further ado:

Backgrounds:

 

A Slug Lord

BlippyTheSlug aka Volker Kirstein is originally from Germany but transplanted himself early across the ocean to abide first in the USA and then Canada where he now resides in lush and lovely Dog River, Saskatchewan. I made up the lush and lovely part since I don't really know much about that part of the Earth except that it is above me and to the west by a long ways. (Near Montana according to Google Maps.)

He wrote a poem that I hesitated to publish as is but will paraphrase here:

In my video gaming daze
Era: the pong craze
A recurring phrase
I often would say:
Blip, blip, **********!

In a film I endorse heartily
Featured in the credits proudly
My sister was bitten
by a m00se soundly
Anyway, this beast is known by
Ralph the Wonder Llama

I'm a sluggard, I take thing slow
Use lots of lube, go with the flow
You'd be surprised at the things that I know
Living down here alone in my hole
I'm a slug

BlippyTheWonderSlug is my full moniker
But most sites I visit suppurate and canchre
When presented with a name of that stature
So of necessity I'm forced to fracture
To BlippyTheSlug

 

Relationship: "It's Complicated." Kids: 2 boys, Cameron, 26 & Connor, 21.
Work: Skip-Tracer (NOT a Private Investigator)
Age: 52. Blippy on his age: "I may be old, but I refuse to grow up."
Hobbies & Other interests: Magic Online. Has no social life. Lives alone in a cave. In the past was a punk rocker in the 80s (retired in 87) in San Francisco.  Played bass for the Sluglords (81-84) and then for the Rhythm Kings (blues band 85-87). He did a stint as a broadcast DJ in Montana mid 90's, and a stint as an internet DJ while in Germany & here in Canada from '03-'05.

Leviathan (Tarasco) aka Michael Morales, is originally from a small town halfway between Los Angeles and San Fransisco, called San Louis Obispo and now lives in San Diego, California, home of the Padres. 

No poem from Leviathan but thats OK because Ill make up a ditty and you can sing it to yourselves while reading:

Tarasco is a rascal who writes as 'Leviathan'
Apparently he's a big fan
of the whales and other large mammals
(but not camels)

You can catch him on late night
giving 2-3 others a real fright
with his commanders
(but as of yet, no salamanders)

 

OK I did warn you it would be doggerel didn't I? No? Well consider yourself warned posthumously. I am assuming the above was mildly fatal.

Relationship: Married to Audette. Kids: Daughter: Rilyn (age 5 going on 13) and Matthew (age 3) son. Apparently Rylin is getting an early start on teen angst whilst her brother is more peaceful and friendly.
Work: Attorney.
Age: 37.
Hobbies: Kids, Reading, Poker, Kids,  TV, KIDS!!! Yeah OK I think we get the idea. Mr Leviathan is a good and busy Dad. He does a lot of the taking kids to various activities and events. He used to play in the Men's Adult Baseball League (MABL?) until he injured his shoulder. He also mentioned that he and his wife like to drink recreationally. They currently seem to be working on finding good wines.

On Magic The Gathering.

Winter.Wolf: How did you get into Magic?
BlippyTheSlug: Hanging out at my friends house smoking dope playing Axis & Allies, a friend of his comes in and says "check this out". Taught us the basics, a month later I was spending money on boosters.

Leviathan: I was an RA (Resident Advisor) in the dorms in college and saw some residents I knew playing the game.  I thought it was Dungeons & Dragons at first.  Hadn't really played D&D before but I had read the Dragonlance Chronicles, liked fantasy settings, swords & sorcery, etc.  The cards seemed cool and the art was pretty sweet.  Come on, for an old guy like me seeing a Leviathan for the for the first time gave a pretty good impression.

After leaving the dorms I introduced my friends to the game, got everyone hooked on the cardboard crack, and kept playing until about a year after college.
 

Winter.Wolf: Blippy, as an old fogey like myself this question is for you: What attracted you to MTG over other hobbies/games?
BlippyTheSlug: Mind games, and I associate it with good times hanging out in the kitchen making the air smell funny. We'd plow through prodigious amounts of weed while doing this.

Winter.Wolf: And for you Leviathan: What kept you into the game?

Leviathan: Well, I didn't keep playing.  I sold off my collection at the time to fund a trip around Asia.  This was around 1998 I think.  I explain it a little more in my Memory Lane article, but I was away from Magic for a while after that.

Winter.Wolf: Howd you get into MTGO?
BlippyTheSlug: My old kitchen table buddy turned me onto it. I knew I'd get hooked. I was hooked on paper. Now I could play any where, any time. 

Leviathan: Two of the buddies who I had introduced to the game told me about it.  I was pretty skeptical at first.  I actually made my account in 2003, but once I figured out that you don't actually get physical versions of the cards I said "screw this" and didn't give it much of a chance.  A couple years later I was bored and got back on.  This was around Ravnica Block.  I was hooked, and bought a collection off someone to get started.  Of course, by that time my buddies were getting out, which figures.  But that didn't keep me from playing a bunch.

The Client:
[Winter.Wolf: I should mention that I wrote a bunch of questions about the client for Blippy which he did not deign to respond to and failed to ask  Leviathan the same questions so I decided to just skip them as probably being uninteresting, however one answer I got from Blippy was worth the effort to include here.]

On Modding:
Winter.Wolf: Blippy you mentioned that you have modded some of your card images. Care to share: How do you go about modding card images? Why? What is the downside (or pitfalls) to it? Any shortcuts/tricks?
BlippyTheSlug: I don't know if any of you are aware of this or not, but you can change the art on your MTGO cards. For example, most of my elves are anime hotties, vampires are hot goth girls, etc. Since I'm a "dirty old man", I tend towards pin-up type art. Art files for MTGO are stored locally on each machine, only I see my alt art, you see the art from the files that are on your machine.

To change your card art on MTGO, simply replace the existing .JPG or .PNG with a different art file of the same name. It's as simple as that! Since card art is stored locally on each machine, it is only visible on the machine it's on; other players see the art files on their system
.
  [Winter.Wolf: Blippy included a fullfledged FAQ which you can find here.]

GodsireDevouring Strossus

Favorites:
Winter.Wolf:  Favorite card(s)/Archetype(s)/Color(s)?
BlippyTheSlug: [Gave no answers for these categories which I am guessing means he doesn't have any favorites for them.]

Leviathan: I love beatdown.  To me, my favorite type of game has large creatures beating the crap out of each other.  So when I see someone bust out a card like Godsire or Devouring Strossus, it makes me really happy.  That's one of the reasons why I love the format.  I mean if you were really a planeswalker running around battling other guys, wouldn't you want the biggest, baddest dudes out there on your side?  I've been trying to spread my wings a little bit more recently by getting into a little bit of combo or reanimator, but beatdown is always going to be my fall back.

 I use Green a bunch, and White.  Black is pretty sweet too.  Blue is lowest on my list.  Red isn't bad, but there are only so many times you can play with dragons.  I'm actually putting together a list of every card I've used in my decks and I'm going to do an article about it at some point, so that should give a better idea of what I use and like.

The Psychographics:

Winter.Wolf: Would you categorize yourself as: Johnny, Spike, Timmy, Vorthos or Melvin (or any of these)?
BlippyTheSlug: I'd say Timmy/Johnny with a dash of Vorthos. 

Leviathan:  I guess I'm a Timmy with some Johnny undertones, but very muted.  You can probably tell based upon my love of beat down how much of a Timmy I am.  But I do like to occasionally get a goofy combo off from time to time.  I honestly don't know the difference between Vorthos and Melvin though.  I wish I knew more about story line stuff, but I just don't.

[To clarify for the readers, Melvin is the guy who sees and enjoys synergies and symmetry in card designs. For example the guy who looks at a card and another card and sees that while they are not that similar on the surface they are part of a cycle or a series. Vorthos is the guy who follows the storyline, knows the flavor text of his favorite cards, and will typically point out inconsistencies in flavor when he finds them.. -Winter.Wolf]

Commander:

Winter.Wolf: Leviathan, What is it that you love about the format?
Leviathan: Gosh, there are so many things to love about the format. I love that cards can get love that wouldn't be seen in other formats.  Where else can people cast stuff like Storm Herd and a kicked Rite of Replication all the time?  Decimate is a useful card in this format!  People play with Beguiler of Wills!  Dragons are the norm!  Seriously, what other format has all these things at the same time and in the same game? 

 

I also like deck construction and looking at all the possible cards.  There are so many choices, so many cards that you can use.  Getting a deck from 105 cards to 99 cards is pure agony though.  I spend way too much time thinking about whether to keep in (True Conviction) or Rhystic Study in a deck.  Coming up with new stuff, using new cards is always fun.  I know that I got into a rut for a little while by using the same cards over and over but I'm trying to open myself up to more new stuff.  I still see cards get played that I have never seen before and I always congratulate people when that happens.
 
I like a lot of the people that I play with.  Most people have a decent sense of humor, are aware of what makes a game fun or not fun, and are easy to chat with.  I really enjoy games where there is a decent amount of chat going on.  There's some funny stuff that gets said sometimes.
 
I like building around themes, and the idea of building around your Commander.  That's really flavorful and nice.  You're a planeswalker, and you're going to be throwing Lord of Tresserhorn out there.  How do you make him better?  What can you do to make sure that he's as good as he can be?  This goes along with building around legends that most people don't see.  I built decks using Livonya Silone and Zhang Fei, Fierce Warrior!  Where else would those guys even see play?  Cool, right?
 
Winter.Wolf: Dislike? 

Leviathan: My main issue is game length, but there really isn't that much that can be done about it due to the nature of the format.  I mean, you're playing multiplayer with 3 other people most of the time, the games are going to be long, there are going to be a lot of triggers, things happen.  I wrote an article with some time saving tips but even with using all those tips those games take a long time.  I've found that I even made card choices based upon time.  I won't use Soul's Attendant due to the "may" clause that will ask you if you want to gain the life even if you auto-yield to it.  So there are little things you can do but you can't plan for everything.  The other night someone used Chandra the Firebrand to copy a kicked Rite of Replication, first copying Soul Warden, then copying Myr Battlesphere.  That's an epic play!  But it took forever to resolve.
 
Reki, the History of KamigawaCaptain Sisay
Fair? Maybe...Fun? Probably not...
 
Decks specifically built to combo out are annoying.  I mean, Mikaeus, we know exactly what he does.  Are you going to do something different with him, or just tutor for Triskelion as quickly as possible?  This is also similar to doing the same thing every game.  Oh hey Captain Sisay, you are tutoring for Reki, the History of Kamigawa first again?  Really?  I don't mind tutors, but just doing the same thing over and over is annoying.
 
Not being able to have a set play group is a little tough to deal with online as well.  That's not a problem with Commander, it's just a problem in general.  I play enough where certain people are familiar so I have an idea of what to expect from them.  But it would be nice to find an even power level online sometimes.
 
Also, I don't like having to wait for a billion triggers.  But that's an MTGO thing.

Tribal Wars

Winter.Wolf: Blippy, on the Competitive vs Casual debate: You and I got into "it" back when you first started playing the Apocalypse and I know I was a little harsh (over the top maybe??) concerning some of your deck choices: What's your take on this conflict?
BlippyTheSlug: For me, Tribal apocalypse was "brainless fun", like Saturday morning cartoons, or comic books. My goal was maybe win tix while slamming home critters. So I pretty much was a Goblin man, with an occasional Sliver deck.

Goblin LackeySliver Overlord
Brainless fun!

Winter.Wolf: Do you seek more competition or more fun? Is there a difference for you?  
BlippyTheSlug: Hard to say. They're pretty intertwined.

Winter.Wolf:  We all know you, Leviathan from your Commander format articles. Any other favorite formats?
Leviathan: When I first got on I was really into tribal.  I liked goofy tribes like Apes and Centaurs especially.  I'm still a member of a clan called Team Rogue Tribe but most of those guys are no longer active.  When I started writing here I pretty much started only playing Commander.  I will use some of the Standard budget decks I see on Pure from various writers every once in a while just to vary things up or if I don't have enough time for a Commander game.  All my tribal decks are pretty old, but they still have a little bit of juice left in them when I take them for a spin.  I also liked Kaleidoscope but obviously that's dead.

Winter.Wolf: Blippy, favorite format(s)?
BlippyTheSlug: Modern, Duh!

Winter.Wolf: Which ones do you avoid?
Leviathan:  I don't necessarily avoid anything, I just haven't played formats.  I don't think I've ever played Legacy and Emperor.  I have rarely played Classic.  There is just not enough time in the day for playing every format.

Some questions for Blippy:

Winter.Wolf: What caused you to start running the Tribal Apocalypse, taking over from Flippers_Giraffe who sat in for Shard_Fenix?
BlippyTheSlugThe "payout" was better/more consistent than actually playing, and I desperately wanted to improve my cards. (I'm dirt poor IRL) I soon found out it was fun, and "easy money".

Winter.Wolf: Saturday Night Melee (or whatever its called lol)? Overdriven!? Eurodriven!? Where Angels Fear to Tread (aka WAFTT)?
BlippyTheSlug: Same thing. Payout was better than playing. I'm a whore. Or a pimp. Two sides of the same coin. Either way, I'm paid. :) I enjoy sharing the love. If I can "get paid" for doing so, so much the better! 

Same with my articles here on pure. A shameless pimping myself out in exchange for bot credits to get better cards.
 
Ham On Wry did indeed Fly 
 
Winter.Wolf: The legendary feat which prompted me to want to write this article:  Erik "Hamtastic" Friborg's birthday was May 4th and you had an extraordinary idea about it: Please give us a synopsis of your thought process and how it ended up? 
BlippyTheSlug: didn't I just publish that?
 
Winter.Wolf: Indeed you did and it was an excellent read which I recommend to those reading this. While I posted an initial idea for it (and mentioned it to a few people) you not only had the same idea but took off with it like a rocket pack. What sparked the verve to go for it?  
BlippyTheSlug: It just flashed on me as a good investment in karma.
 
Winter.Wolf: How did you get Wizards to be so generous? (Not that they aren't occasionally but certainly never before with a PRE) 
BlippyTheSlug: Weelll... this is gonna sound awful egotistical... 1) I knew from roundabout the m10 rule change/"Old" Extended rotation change that one of the Poobahs at the Ivory Tower had a forum post from me taped up on the wall. So I know they know my name. 2) Then, when K-scope switched from Extended card pool to Legacy card pool, I was running When Worlds Kaleid, I pre-emptively banned Destructive Flow. I predicted problems with that card in the dailies, and wizzo's followed suite
 
So I suspect they may respect my judgment to some extent. 3) I knew riding Hammy's magical coat tails opened many doors. 4) Has anybody ASKED before?
 
Winter.Wolf: Good question! Was running both events as brain draining as I imagine? How did you survive? Did your helpers come through, or is it really a one man circus/army? 

BlippyTheSlug:  Lot's of mind altering substances. It was a one man show. They did TRY, but there wasn't really anything for em to do.. no last minute pledges, not having to read the riot act, only a few people to track down for pairings... it all went pretty smoothly.

Winter.Wolf: 118 players in the US event and 47 in the Euro event = 165 players which seems like some kind of record. Is it? If so congratulations are in order I think.
BlippyTheSlug:I believe it is. I don't know for sure, but I'm going with yes. It is a record. In both attendance and prize support. it's awesome seeing the community get together like this. I'm thinking of trying it again for *MY* birthday on 11/26.

KarmaBrown Ouphe

Winter.Wolf: Did you get anything out of it except the stress of running it?
BlippyTheSlug: Other than Karma & Brownie points, no.

More Commander stuff and other Questions just for Leviathan:

Winter.Wolf: What did you think of the changes to the format once it was combined with the paper rules?  I thought it was great.  Commander is supposed to essentially be EDH, right? 
Leviathan: Sure, it means I can't play with Bringer of the Red Dawn in my Brion deck, but I generally tried to stick with the paper rules anyway.  Giving everyone access to Bojuka Bog wasn't necessarily fair in my book.  I just wish they could have made the change sooner.

Winter.Wolf: Do you read other Commander writers like Sean Mckeown and Sheldon Menery? Thoughts on them? 
Leviathan: I do.  I also read Bennie Smith's occasional Commander stuff as well, and the guy over on the mothership.  I think they're all great, and they all bring their own things to the table.  Menery is good just because he and I seem to share a similar sensibility as to what a Commander game should be like.  I also like that he has game reports, which I don't really think anyone else does on a consistent basis. 

McKeown is a lot more cerebral than I am and spends a lot of time on his articles.  He writes a ton for each card change.  I just don't think about things as much as he does.  I don't always agree with him about specifics, but he does bring up unusual cards that are worth looking into.  His Ad Nauseum/Griselbrand deck was an interesting exercise in ticking people off.  My guess is that his articles won't have the desired effect there though.
 
Sword of KaldraShield of KaldraHelm of Kaldra
Voltron Assemble!
 
Winter.Wolf: Is there a single commander you enjoy the most?
Leviathan: I really liked my Lord of Tresserhorn deck when I was playing it.  I hadn't really seen anyone try to use him before I made that deck, and he is a scary dude when you get him out there.  He is just nutty and I still really like him.  I also like my Numot, the Devastator deck because it is about as controlling as I usually like to go, and has the goal of assembling Kaldra.  Of course that's more about the deck than the Commander.  Tariel was interesting just because she is such a different and sort of strange Commander.

Winter:Wolf: Is there one or a set you least like to play with?  
Leviathan: Well I've avoided those Commanders that I don't like playing with.  If I wasn't that interested in a Commander, I liked building budget decks using them.  That way the decks weren't too linear, and were a little bit outside the box.  So even though Godo and Azami aren't typically Commanders that I would use, the decks that I made for them were still pretty fun.
 
I can't think of a specific set I don't like.  All the sets are sort of a big blur to me after Tempest until Ravnica.
 
Winter.Wolf: against? 
Leviathan: Let's see, the usual suspects include Zur the Enchanter, Uril, the Miststalker, Sharuum the Hegemon, Jhoira of the Ghitu.  To a lesser extent Arcum Dagsson (because I rarely see him played anymore), Mikaeus, The Unhallowed, Momir Vig, Simic Visionary, Grand Arbiter Augustin IV and Rafiq of The Many.  Most of these guys are of the "shoot them first, ask questions later" type of Commander where I pretty much target you out of the gate if I see you playing them.  Sometimes you still run into a new player that just got into the format and uses these guys without understanding just how powerful they can be, but most of the time people realize they are going to get hated and prepare for it.
 
Godo, Bandit WarlordAzami, Lady of Scrolls
Tricky Commanders to have fun with.
 
Winter.Wolf: Any offline commanders you wish were online?  
Leviathan: Wow, I don't know.  I guess there are some PK3 guys that aren't online yet?  To Gatherer I go!  Hmmm, looks like the pickings are pretty slim.  There's Zhou Yu, Chief Commander, who has the honor of being the biggest human in the game, but is basically a Sea Serpent.  Sima Yi, Wei Field Marshal is a crappy Korlash.  Diaochan, Artful Beauty is a strange build around me Commander that someone could try to use but seems like a pain in the butt.  Chandler and Daughter of Autumn are poo.  Gosta Dirk?  Joven?  Ur-Drago (he of the cool name)?  I guess the only one I want to see is Soraya the Falconer, just for those bird deck enthusiasts.  And maybe Diaochan.

Winter.Wolf: Is there anything in the format that causes you to want to concede when you encounter it? 
Leviathan: Mindslaver.  I really, really hate the card.  Supposedly Mindslaver is one of those cards that people have great stories about, where they changed the course of the game and everyone can laugh about it later.  "Hey, remember that one time I Mindslavered you, got you to send your whole army against the other opponent, then had you sacrifice your entire board to your suspended Greater Gargadon and made you discard your hand to (One with Nothing)?  And then I proceeded to slowly drop water on your forehead while you were strapped to a table with a spotlight shining in your cornea and told you that there were 5 lights when there were really 4 and made you say that there were 5?  Wasn't that awesome?!!?!"  No, it wasn't you twat.  It freaking sucked.  However I generally don't concede for those reasons.  I'll complain, but I will take my beating.
 
There are other things that annoy me.  Like when people Armageddon, but they have no way to close out the game.  That just prolongs a game that is probably already long, don't do that.  At least Desolation Angel gives you a body to beat with.  And people not paying the (Rhsytic Study) tax really annoys me too.
 
Generally I don't concede unless there are outside the game influences going on (wife, kids, sleep, etc.).  But if a game is clearly unwinnable then I do concede just to move on.
 
Sorely missed by many a caw blade player...
The Birds miss you!
 
Winter.Wolf: On that subject how do you feel about people conceding in 3 or more player games? 
Leviathan: There are plenty of times where I've conceded, things happen and sometimes you just gotta go.  Say "peace out bros" and feel free to drop.  Most of the time people are fine with that.  When it sucks is if you are going to take out an opponent with a big lifelinker equipped with Sword of Bacon and Eggs, and they concede before combat damage takes place, and you miss out on those triggers.  That's when it really sucks.  Please don't do that people, it's rude.  I know that you don't like losing, but don't screw people out of the benefit of killing you off.

Recently WOTC added 1v1 (by player demand I think) commander. What do you think of it?  I'm fine with it, but you aren't ever going to see me write an article about it I think.  I typically use it to test out a mana base and make sure that the deck can handle early threats.  What I don't like is that it seems a lot more cutthroat than a multiplayer game.  In 1v1, people are fine with Strip Mining your turn 2 bounceland.  Man that takes the wind out of my sails.  It's a move that you will almost never see done in a multi-player game.  I guess that's just the nature of 1v1, but since I play it so rarely it's a pretty rude shock to my system.  Not my favorite.
 
But if you want a quick Commander fix 1v1 can give it to you.  Just be prepared.
 
Winter.Wolf: What makes it different from Multiplayer? 
Leviathan: It's just a lot rougher.  People don't have to worry about being ganged up on, and can focus all their energy into one opponent.  It's pretty easy to make a 100CS deck, slap a Commander on it, and go.  Those decks are tuned for 1v1 play.  I don't have any decks that are tuned for 1v1, which means that I have sub-optimal cards in my deck when I play like that.  I've run into a few people like me, just taking their multiplayer decks in for a quick game.  But most players have tuned decks.  And that can make a huge difference.

Winter.Wolf: What would you recommend for a person wanting to play it who is a multi player vet? 
Leviathan: Well I'm not really an expert on the format so my opinion may be a little bit warped, but what I would say is that you should reduce your average CMC down a whole point, and take out all those cards like Decimate or (Lightning Reaver) that you stuck in your deck because you thought you'd be playing against a lot of people.  Look at 100CS decks for a good reference point of what to use.  Spot removal is more important, because you aren't going to be able to lean on other people playing Austere Command to get rid of stuff for you.

Winter.Wolf: Speaking of new players or not, any pit falls you recommend avoiding in 1v1? 
Leviathan: Avoid bounce lands.  Avoid lands that come into play tapped.  Don't play huge fatties unless you have a way to cheat them into play through something like Tooth and Nail or reanimation.  I dunno, I guess that's it.  Like I said, I'm not a huge fan of the format.
 
Winter.Wolf: What's your feeling on the ability to create 5-6 player games? 
Leviathan: I think it's great.  That's how the format originally showed up online, and people loved it.  I think the only reason larger games aren't as popular is that people got used to 4 player games and 5-6 player games are usually a lot longer.  Since WotC brought back the ability to have larger games I've only played in 2 of them, I think.  The time commitment is just rougher.  But if you are sitting around on a Sunday afternoon and all you're doing is watching football, might as well jump into a bigger game.
 
Strip MineAzorius ChanceryDimir AqueductCrucible of Worlds
Yeah this is definitely a nonbo....particularly if the bounce lands are yours...


Writing about MTGO/on puremtgo:
Winter.Wolf: How did you get into writing articles about Magic? 
Leviathan: I knew that Sheldon Menery had written a couple of articles with game reports, but for some reason he disappeared for a little bit, or I couldn't find him or something.  There had been one or 2 Commander articles here at Pure but nothing consistent.  I had about 7 or 8 decks that I liked to play, and I thought "what the heck, why not?"  I figured I would emulate Sheldon and do game reports.  Sheldon didn't always do deck lists, but I had a few that I could start out with and go from there.  I didn't know what would happen when I submitted the article, but they liked it enough that it got published a couple days later.  And here we are.

Winter.Wolf: What made you decide to choose Commander as your forté?
Leviathan: It was the main format I was playing at the time.  Also, there wasn't a Commander presence on Pure.  It wasn't like Standard, where there were a ton of people much more knowledgeable than me writing about it.  When I started the only person I know of who was writing about EDH consistently was Sheldon, and he even disappeared for a short while.  And since it was a casual format, my decks didn't have to be soul-crushing tournament busters or anything like that.  I could just do what I liked, how I liked it.

Winter.Wolf: Do you ever think about writing about other formats? 
Leviathan: Nah.  I just don't know enough about them.  "Look, this newb is trying to get into Modern!" would probably be the title of the article if I tried it.  I just don't have enough time to devote to getting to know a format to write about it with any knowledge.  It would have to be another casual format, like 2 headed giant or something if I ever did though.

Winter.Wolf: Who are your writer rolemodels? 
Leviathan: Sheldon at the start of things.  Since I started, I've sort of just done my own thing.  What I write is typically stream of consciousness.  I have enough analytical writing that requires constant reviews for work that I like just sitting back and spilling my brains out onto the page.  I dunno, I think it's been all right so far.  Hopefully if people had suggestions about my writing style they would feel free to pipe up, and I would take those comments into consideration.
 
I do put a good amount of time into playtesting the decks before presenting them.  I'm not sure all the other guys writing about decks do that.  So that sets me apart as well.

Winter.Wolf: What is it you get out of writing these articles aside from the credits?
Leviathan: LOL, you caught me, it's all about the credits baby!  Seriously though, I like the people that I've met through the writing.  I like getting some of my ideas out there so that others can think about them.  It started off as sort of a hobby, but now I'm pretty invested in it.  I just wish I had more time to devote to writing and the deck playtesting that is required before I think that a deck is presentable.  Plenty of my decks win the first game that they're played, but that doesn't mean I think they are worth publishing.  More time in the day would be awesome!

Winter.Wolf: Do you have advice for other writers? (if so what is it?) 
Leviathan: Proof read!  Please, for the love of God, proof read!  Just run spell check or something.  I know that I'm not perfect when it comes to this, but if you just do a read through and run spell check you will satisfy most people and at least be off to the start of a decent article.
 
If you are presenting a deck, playtest it.  Have a sense of humor.  Don't be afraid to mention something that isn't Magic related. Add pictures.  Link to other articles.  And don't forget that rules are made to be broken.  Except for mine.

Winter.Wolf: You seem to have covered nearly every single commander I can think of in your Conqueror & Commander series. Quite a feat I think. Any outstanding ones you want to tackle?  
Leviathan: Heh, well there are still plenty of legends to use as Commanders out there, but I can't think of any specifically that I want to use at the moment.  Mainly what I do is just start going through all my legends and see if anything catches my eye.  I have a couple of sort of half-done decks that could be worked on using Niv-Mizzet, Multani and Marton Stromgald, but they haven't really caught my attention for a while.  The funny thing is that since I've seen a whole lot of the newer Commanders being used since they've come out I'm not as interested in them.  I like the slightly strange stuff.  That's why using the original Elder Dragons was fun for me, even if I didn't really build directly around them. I'm thinking of doing a series on the precons (I know, a little late, but they're still on sale!) where I spend 10 tix to try and improve the decks. And I haven't really seen Ruhan used yet online in a multiplayer game. Maybe a Nin deck, or Thelon of Havenwood just for the giggles? But if people have something that they want me to build around or use, feel free to make a suggestion!  I always listen, even if I don't always do what I'm told.
 
Nin, the Pain ArtistThelon of HavenwoodRuhan of the Fomori
Potential candidates for future articles?


Winter.Wolf: Any you wish youd done better?
Leviathan: Wow, I gotta go back and look now...  I guess my Intet deck is sort of a generic "good stuff" stompy deck, I probably could have pushed it more toward a theme.  Probably same with Vorosh.  Basandra seemed like a good deck to work on in theory, but didn't really do as well as I wanted, even if it won a decent amount.  Otherwise I'm pretty happy with the way the rest of them turned out, considering the card pool at the time I made the decks.

Winter.Wolf: Any you think need an update now that new sets have come online? 
Leviathan: Oh yeah, Lord of Tresserhorn for sure.  That deck is a zombie deck from 2 years ago, well before all the cool goodies from Innistrad.  It would probably  need to be completely rehauled, even keeping the zombie theme, due to the sheer number of changes necessary. 
 
Let's see, my Oros deck should really be a Kaalia deck, since it had the dragon/demon/angel theme before the precons even came out.  And all the new demons and angels in Avacyn Restored would probably make it better.  As for the rest...  I mean, I started doing this 2 years ago, so I have plenty of decks that could be improved just by adding Primeval Titan or Consecrated Sphinx or something like that.  But for the most part they are pretty much still good to go, even if they are a little bit older.

Winter.Wolf: I have often noticed you are careful about which games you include in your articles. Is this about craft? Or is there a more mysterious method to your madness? 
Leviathan: Haha, well, it's not really that mysterious.  I can win with most of my decks, and sometimes get wins right out of the gate.  But what I want to try to do is show interesting games where my deck does what it is meant to do.  There are plenty of games where some Azusa deck just goes nuts and owns the table, crushing everyone by turn 6, but who wants to read that?  There are other games where everyone concedes, or someone Obliterates then bails, and that's no fun either.  What I look for are either games where the power level is even and there's some back and forth, or where I may have an underpowered or budget deck and end up beating powerful Commanders.  I tend not to show my games where I absolutely curb stomp my opponents, but those do show up occasionally if they are nutty enough.  I my Omnath deck game was like that, maybe my Intet game too.

Winter.Wolf: I know that you struggle sometimes for an article because of other duties/pleasures and just life in general, plus the oddities/vagaries of online players. What is your process for choosing what to write about? What is it that makes a particular game worthy of inclusion? 
Leviathan: I'm going to sort of move past that second question since I answered it above, and just focus on the first one.  What I write about really has a lot to do with my schedule, and how quickly a deck comes together.  As a matter of fact, let me copy and paste the relevant parts of a comment I posted from a previous article slightly edited:
 
"When I first started writing I was playing a lot. Almost 3 games a night. The first 7 or 8 articles were about decks that I had already built and played for a while. After I ran out of those though, things had to change. I was still playing a lot, so I was able to throw together a presentable deck in about a week or two. The weeks were I do set reviews or other random stuff ("How I build a deck" "EDH Staples") are those where I don't have the time to playtest a deck. Recently, due to various issues, I haven't been able to play nearly as much as I used to.  I'm at the point now where I might end up writing bi-weekly, instead of weekly, since I just don't have the time to play as much. We will see.
 
As for the decks, I usually try to get a couple of playtest games in before presenting them, somewhere around 5 or 6 on average. It's rare where I feel like I get things right on the first try, and the first game goes smoothly enough that I think I don't have to do any more and go with it, but it does occasionally happen. Most of the time the deck undergoes several tweaks, whether to the mana base or just adding more destruction/card draw/whatever. And there are other decks, like the Rubinia deck, where I played a ton before I got it to where I liked. I want to make sure that the deck can do well in the hands of another pilot.
 
Ideally the game I choose either shows what the deck is meant to do (assemble Kaldra, beat down with Rafiq) or has something else interesting happen. I try to avoid using games where people drop or disconnect, although I do use those occasionally because you can have a run of games where they just don't get completed. I also avoid 3 player games which I enjoy occasionally just for the brevity.
 
When it's all said and done, a short time for an article is about 6 to 8 hours, when considering putting the deck together, playtesting, writing and editing. Kind of a long time for each one, but I have fun doing it.
 
These decks are obviously far from perfect. Most of the time these decks are built and playtested over a matter of 5 days or less. I do have experience on my side when building them, but so do many of the other players I run into. But they are usually good enough to pass my muster, and presentable to the public. I think they are good for people to use when getting ideas, and most of the time they get adjusted to the individual user."
 
Yeah, time is still  an issue.  I basically get in 1 game a night at most.  And real life is starting to catch up with me.  I could present untested deck lists, but that feels like cheating to me.  "Look at this deck, doesn't it look awesome?  I have no idea if it'll work, but it looks sweet, right?"  Blah.  Taking the time is well worth it.  That's also part of the reason why I don't do the turn by turn game reports any more.  If the game lasted 15 turns or was complicated in any way, it would take almost 2 hours just to write up the report.  I'd rather just give you guys the highlights, and show you some screencaps, so that you know I'm not blowing smoke up your skirts.

 

The Slug vs the Whale - Team up questions: (Wherein the interviewees exchanged questions with a little help from me.)


Dogs Everywhere! It is clear to see cats are not so welcome here. :D

 

BlippyTheSlug: I've never played Commander. (Don't look at me like I just pulled a live kitten's head off!) I have played a lot of Two-Headed Giant online. What is it about Commander that cranks your gears?
Leviathan: Ahhhh, never?!?!  Let me go kick my dog....  All right, I'm back and a little more calm.  Commander is a singleton, big deck format.  If you like variety in your games with goofy spells and big plays, Commander is the way to go.  Remember all those cards you used to play with when you first started?  You can use those!  And if you don't want variety and all you want is consistency, you can do that with Commander as well.  But it's not nearly as fun, at least in my book.  

 

2HG is nice because you have a buddy, but in Commander it's you against the world!  Taking on all comers!  Political alliances can be formed and broken in a single turn.  And there are plenty of ways to come back from way behind too.  Plus read all the stuff above, that should help convince you too.  Good times. 

BlippyTheSlug: What did you do for your sixteenth birthday? And your twentyfirst? 
Leviathan: Wow, you're questions are way better than the ones I sent in.  I have no recollection of my 16th birthday.  Seriously.  I can't recall a thing about it.  I know that I got a 1979 Toyota Tercel about a month afterward for my first car.  That's about it.  Not fun I guess?  I dunno.  

My 21st birthday though...  I was going to school at UC Davis, and had just broken up with my girlfriend.  My buddies Myron and Jon took me out on the "walk of shame," basically a walk that hit most of the bars in Davis.  It started at The Grad, the local club/sports bar/place that served booze at 10 am.  Downtown Davis was about a 2 or 3 mile walk from there, so after a few beers and shots we went to the market next door and bought booze that we brown bagged on our walk to downtown.  Things start getting blurry, but I remember going to The Paragon and getting something called the Black Death.  It was a shot that had Jaeger, Tequila, and the bartender would wipe off the bar with a rag and squeeze the droppings into a shot glass mixing them together.  Top all that with a ton of pepper.  It was awesome/horrible/something that put hair on my chest/still burns my esophagus to this day.  I think I tried to dance with a girl and get her to sleep with me by saying "I need to cuddle with someone since I just broke up with my girlfriend."  I then proceeded to stick my face between her boobs and tried to motorboat her.  Seemed like a great idea at the time.  Needless to say it didn't work and I got thrown out. 
 
One of my last memories was going to The Saloon and having a blue drink put in front of me.  It glowed. It certainly didn't appear natural.  I asked, "What the hell is this?"  The bartender yelled, "Lloyd's Special!"  Me:  "Who the *#?% is Lloyd?"  Bartender:  "Me!"  Needless to say I have never had a sip of another blue drink ever again.
 

The next thing I remember, I was peeing on the wheels of a random truck while I could hear my friends saying, "No officer, he's fine, we're taking him home right now."  Fade to black.

BlippyTheSlug: Design yourself as a planeswalker card. Use normal Oracle text, you may use art if you like, but plain text is fine. Give yourself a cmc, including color, a +x ability, a -x ability, and an ultimate ability. (Edit by Winter.Wolf: using Magic Set Editor makes this an easy enough task.)
Leviathan: Wow, a design challenge!  You are hitting me from all directions.  This is a tough one.  I kind of want to build a better Red planeswalker, since the current ones are kind of narrow (sorry Chandra).  But I also like ramping sometimes.  How about something like this: (I made it an actual card in MSE - Winter.Wolf)

I figure the pic would be some dude that looks like Koth throwing huge boulders or something [Winter.Wolf: Sorry Leviathan I wasn't about to try and draw that in a hurry for this. Get back to me at some future time.].  This card combines Lightning Bolt and Explosive Vegetation.  I'm sure it's probably busted in 1v1, since being able to bolt your opponent each turn is out of control.  I guess you could knock down the +1 ability to 2 damage, like Shock?  The second ability isn't that crazy, you can only use it every other turn, so it's not like Prime Time nutty.  But each of the different Chandra's have crappy +1's.  Chandra Ablaze can at least do 4 damage, but you have to discard a Red card, that's annoying.  The power level is something for Development to work out.  My guess is that they wouldn't think it was splashy enough and make it, I dunno, a firebreathing dragon that can attack like Gideon or something.  But this is a great utility card that just about every Red/Green deck would want. I figured I'd go a little aggressive and useful and let someone else tame it down.

Leviathan: What motivates you to do what you do (Run PREs,  Write articles, get people excited about formats)?
BlippyTheSlug: I think I covered that with the whore/pimp thing above :)


Leviathan: What are the origins of Overdriven?
BlippyTheSlug: http://puremtgo.com/articles/overdriven-1

Leviathan: What can Wizards of the Coast do to maintain Modern's excitement and stature as an eternal format? 
BlippyTheSlug: I think Modern will be an FNM format by the end of the year.


Leviathan: What do you think about bringing the Power 9 to Magic Online? (sub questions: would it cause Vintage online to compete with Modern for player attention/resources? Would that be a good/bad thing? Why?) 
BlippyTheSlug: I'm all for the P9 coming online. Legacy folks would just move to Vintage, and I'm sure we'd lose a few from Modern, too, but oh well. The circle of life. We gain more every day.


Summary:
So there you have it. Two more excellent fellows doing their thing on Magic Online. I hope you enjoyed getting to know them better as much as I did presenting them here. I have another person on my mind for the next installment in this series but since I haven't broached the subject with them yet and have some other articles to write in the meantime I will hold off on any announcements for now.

Magickally,
Paul Emerson Leicht, Aka Winter.Wolf on Magic Online.

6 Comments

LOL! by BlippyTheSlug at Fri, 05/25/2012 - 09:06
BlippyTheSlug's picture

"møøse", not "m00se". :)

Sorry Blippy the null symbols by Paul Leicht at Fri, 05/25/2012 - 14:30
Paul Leicht's picture

Sorry Blippy the null symbols didn't keep :)

PatrykG's picture
5

I identify a lot with Leviathan, even moreso now that I know he's a guy who loves kids. Growing up with older brothers, one of whom was pretty... prolific, to put it nicely... I grew up as a guy who really loves kids, and it usually caused me issues (people look at me funny because I'm smiling at their kid or making faces with them), so it's good to see others of the same bent (even if not of the same experiences). Plus his views of Commander and mine are nigh-identical - we both pretty much solely play Commander, we both love the beatdown, and we both love us some green :-D Now if only I could write as often as he does :-D

One other thing that I completely agree with is the whole dropping-while-triggers-are-on-the-stack-or-are-about-to-trigger. In one game a week or so ago, this one guy basically targeted me from the get-go (I was playing Animar, and I guess to him I was the biggest threat). Basically, right when I'm about to get back the things he stole from my deck / my board, he quits - and then has the cajones to say "Scoop-countering is a legit strategy". These are the people that I block, and I'm sure Leviathan would agree.

Wow, I didn't realize I wrote by Leviathan at Fri, 05/25/2012 - 23:32
Leviathan's picture

Wow, I didn't realize I wrote that much! This was fun but that planeswalker should definitely cost at least 5 now that I looked at it again.

Patryk, that situation certainly sucks. I definitely don't consider that a "legitimate strategy". However I have never blocked anyone before. Just never felt the need. Maybe one day...

thibgs you would never guess by BOBBAKAKE at Sun, 05/27/2012 - 04:04
BOBBAKAKE's picture

So ol blippy was a punker eh? That is awesome. I just walked in from an all day show and i am real sore. The Briefs and The Addicts were there he might know of them. There is alot of punkrockers on mtgo, based against the population ratio anyway. On Freed From the Reel a week or two ago his weekly question was what do you listen to while you play? Once again I saw punk bands listed. This makes me feel warm. All we need now is more punk cards like dwavern beserker and anarchy.

Hi guys thanks for the by Paul Leicht at Sun, 05/27/2012 - 15:22
Paul Leicht's picture

Hi guys thanks for the comments. :D

@Patryk: Leviathan has the gift of gab as is apparent by his long and well thought out replies but this is something you could do too if you find inspiration in his work. I am sure Leviathan would agree with me here. The more you write the better you get doing it and the more you will find you have to say. I am glad you enjoyed this as much as I did.

@BOB Lol yeah. What's funnier is I was also into the punk music scene (In NYC, though I only briefly had a punk hair style.) But Blippy was the real deal. I was merely a dilettante who dabbled a little. He really was into it. That's why that's such an awesome picture. The problem I had was the crossing over from punk to skinhead and metal. Also wasn't really into the politics of it. Anarchists range from cool to scary and sometimes in the same body.

As far as punk cards go well they have to be far and few between or people would assume the Man was pandering to the outcast and trying coopt the revolution. So to speak. :p