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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
May 05 2017 11:00am
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State of the Program for May 5th 2017
 
In the News
 
1v1 Commander Tournaments Begin May 10: Wizards has been testing for the release of 1v1 Commander events. They have now announced that 1v1 Commander leagues and tournament play will begin May 10th. Wizards has also created a special banned list exclusively for online Commander (both 1v1 and multiplayer). You can read the article here.  Commander leagues cost 80 play points or 8 TIX, run five matches and pay out in play points and Treasure Chests.
 
New Commander Banned List: The new Commander list will be effective May 10th. The cards are listed below.   Wizards has said that this list is “optimized for 1v1 play.”  Note that Wizards has expressly said that this list will change based on player feedback, and may change often early on. Given that, I would expect Leovold to be banned shortly.   The explanations for the bans are here.
 

Fast Mana
Combo Enablers
Oppressive Commanders
Other Bad Stuff
Multi-Player

 
The official Commander banned list is here.   That list contains 34 cards. The MTGO Commander banned list contains 50 cards. The two lists have 22 cards in common. That means that the official Commander lists bans 12 cards that the MTGO list allows, while the MTGO list bans 28 cards that the official Commander list allows. Interesting. I am looking forward to hearing more enfranchised Commander players’ responses to all this.
 
Draft Super League Coming Soon: The people who brought us the Vintage Super League will be bringing us a three on three draft league. It will feature some of the best limited players around, and three on three drafts are a really cool format. I am eager to see how MTGO will support 3v3 drafts. Details on the league, including rosters for the first five (of eight) teams are here.
 
Exert on MTGO: One of the mechanics in the new set is Exert, which allows a bonus on attacks but exerting creatures does not untap the next turn. This is a choice made when attacking: when the creature attacks, you choose whether to exert it or not. On MTGO, you only get the choice if you click to make creatures attack individually – using the attack with all creatures option does not allow you to exert. You have to either click attackers individually, or click attack with all, then unclick the exert creatures and reclick them to attack with exert.       
 
Redemption Deadlines Approaching: If you like to redeem product, remember that the redemption window for Khans of Tarkir and Fate Reforged, as well as Kaladesh and Aether Revolt, are fast approaching. Wizards changed the redemption windows last year, so Kaladesh and Aether Revolt will disappear quickly. Older sets, including Dragons of Tarkir, Magic Origins, Battle for Zendikar and Oath of the Gatewatch are redeemable until this November.  Redemption for Shadows over Innistrad and Eldritch Moon ends in April of next year.
 
The Timeline
This is a list of things we have been promised, or we just want to see coming back.   Another good source for dates and times is the calendar and the weekly blog, while the best source for known bugs is the bug blog which appears sporadically on MTGO.com. Most of the major upcoming events we know of are listed.  Not listed, but important: Wizards offers either one or two online PTQs each weekend, with qualifiers running the three days prior to the PTQ.
 
Recurring Events
Timing
Power Nine Challenge
Last Saturday of the month, 11am Pacific
Legacy Challenge
Second Saturday of the month, 11am Pacific
No Downtime
May 17th
Extended Downtime
May 24th , June 28th
Current Leagues End
July 10, 2017
Hour of Devastation release
July, 2017
Ixalan release
September 25, 2017
Commander 2017 details here.
November 2017 on MTGO
Next B&R Announcement
June 14, 2017
KLD and AER Redemption Ends
June 7, 2017 (yes, 1 month from now)
KTK and FRF Redemption Ends
May 31, 2017
DTK, ORI, BFZ & OGW Redemption Ends
November 2, 2017
SOI and EMN Redemption Closes
April 28, 2018
Flashback, Throwback Standard and CUBE for 2017
Wizards will be offering a flashback draft league, a flashback Standard gauntlet, a CUBE league or prerelease / Release events each week.   Here’s the schedule so far.
 
Flashback and Such Rotation
Begins
Ends
(Nothing yet announced)
 (sigh)
 
The new Flashback Leagues are still draft, and still you-keep-the-cards. They are 12 TIX / product plus 2 TIX / 120 Play Points. However, they are no longer single elimination. Now you play until you have three wins or two losses. Prizes are 150 play points for three wins and 70 Play points for 2 wins. The leagues run one week.
 
The Throwback Standard Gauntlet events provide a random choice of prebuilt decks from a past standard environment. These will function like the Pro Tour Gauntlets – you won’t need to own the cards. The entry fee is 10 TIX or 100 Play Points. Prizes are in Play Points: 150 for 3-0, 100 for 2-1, 40 for 1-2 and 10 play points as a bad beats award. 
 
Opinion Section:  Is Control Back?
Last week, I was wondering what Wizards could have been thinking when they decided not to ban Felidar Guardian and the Copy Cat deck, at least initially.   I think I may have an idea. Wizards may have thought that Control would make a comeback.   I am talking about classic counter-based blue control, which has not been a thing for years.
 
A long, long time ago, Magic had three main types of decks: control, aggro and combo. (Yes, an oversimplification, but I am condensing reams of date into one paragraph, so bear with me.   If you want more, I have written well over a million words just on that concept, so see my archives.)   Combo was a fast deck that assembled some combination of cards that had broken synergy and just won the game. Aggro dropped fast creatures, coupled with burn spells, and reduced your life total to zero as quickly as possible. Control tried to counter all relevant threats, refill its hand with instant-speed card draw and – once it had complete control – find something to win with.   These three archetypes, when all were equally good, formed stable metagames, because control beat combo, which beat aggro, which beat control.
 
Once again, because this was a truism of Magic since 1995 or so. Aggro beats control, which beats combo, which beats aggro. Let’s look at why.
 
A good combo deck kills faster than is typical for a format. It needs to be, because a combo deck is generally just trying to assemble the combo before it is killed or locked out.  Combo decks have to be faster than aggro decks; otherwise they just get run over. Every format ever has combos, but the combos are only relevant if they have a chance to win before dying. This is why we say combo beats aggro. A better, albeit longer, way of saying that might be “to be viable, a combo deck has to win, on average, a turn before the aggro decks can goldfish a win.” It’s trickier when the combo decks include defensive cards (like Felidar Guardian in Copy Cat or Deceiver Exarch in Splinter Twin), or when either the combo or aggro decks include cards like Thoughtseize, but the concept holds, and that is why combo beats aggro.
 
Control decks play a mix of discard, removal and counterspells, and try to prevent the opponent from resolving enough threats to kill them. The control deck’s goal is to get to a stable board state, then find a way to win. That can be a single creature, a millstone, a creatureland or almost anything else that can, over time, win the game. The difficulty for the control decks is that, if they get behind, it can be very difficult to catch up. This means the control decks have to be very careful (and a little lucky) in managing threats in the early game. Against combo, this is a lot easier. Most combo decks rely on a very few critical combo pieces. A control deck can usually concentrate on countering those specific cards, which is relatively easy for any well-built control deck. And this is why control generally beats combo. 
 
To finish off the trio, aggro decks seek to have a very fast, consistent curve, and to drop as many threats as possible. This means that they can often get a jump on a control deck that the control deck may never be able to overcome. This is especially the case when the aggro deck is on the play. Even if the control deck can counter everything the aggro deck plays from turn two on, it might still die to whatever the aggro deck cast on turn one – and that is why aggro generally beats control.
 
Many years ago, Magic also had mana-denial archetypes, based around land destruction, or cards like Stasis and Winter Orb. Eventually , Wizards realized that losing to Stasis was probably the worst possible Magic experience, and it got rid of the archetype. That’s why cards like Stone Rain, Pillage and Wildfire don’t see print anymore.   Shortly thereafter, Wizards decided that classic blue control was also an archetype that was not fun to play against, and stopped printing Counterspell. After that time, all hard counters cost three mana – in other words, they became Cancel.  
 
Another critical part of classic control decks was card draw. Counterspells decks had to draw enough counters to keep control of the game, and that meant they had to draw more than one spell per turn. To be effective, this card draw had to happen at instant speed. If it didn’t; if the control player had to tap out main phase to draw cards, then the opponent had an opportunity to resolve spells when the control player was tapped out. Instant speed card draw happens on the opponent’s end step, once the control player is certain the opponent is not going to cast any threats that turn. The last great instant-speed card drawing spell was Fact or Fiction, back in Invasion block. Ever since then, most card drawing has been sorcery speed or really expensive.
 
Until now. Now we have Pull from Tomorrow: XUU: Instant, Draw X cards, then discard a card. Adding that to Glimmer of Genius and Anticipate, and Wizards may have given us enough instant speed card draw to enable a true control deck. Maybe. Or maybe Wizards just thought so. I would love to know whether the Future Future League thought classic blue control would be good again. Then again, since the FFL somehow missed Copy Cat, maybe I’m not that interested after all.
 
Could control have beaten Copy Cat, at least often enough to balance the format? We will never know.  It is possible, but one of the things that made Copy Cat so dominant was that it played out as a very good midrange deck even when it could not find or resolve the combo. It had creatures like Servant of the Conduit that would have come down before the control decks could counter them (at least on the play), and things like creaturelands that are tough for control to handle. Copy Cat could also play counters of its own. It would have been an interesting battle, but one I am quite happy not to have to see or live through.
 
Cutting Edge Tech
Standard: Last weekend’s SCG Open was dominated by Mardu Vehicles. That is totally unsurprising. Last week the double B&R announcement, and the fact that the new set had just hit the shelves, meant no one was prepared for the new format. In the first week, people play what they know, and have cards for.   New decks tend to be untuned, unpolished, and piloted by people who cannot have had enough practice with the decks beforehand.   That tends to favor existing archetypes over new decks in the first weeks of any format. Since Mardu Vehicles is a deck that punishes inconsistent or bad decks particularly hard, we should have predicted that Mardu Vehicles would be all of the Top 32 last weekend. Next week may be different.
 

Modern:
 Once again, we are seeing an old archetype reinvigorated by Amonkhet cards. In this case, a deck which used cycling to dig for a combo has adopted new cyclers. The biggest addition is Archfiend of Ifnir, which not only cycles but does sick things when your cycle. Better yet, the Archfiend is the event promo this month.
Living End featuring Archfiend of Ifnir on Sax
BUS49, 5-0, Competitive Modern League
Creatures
2 Faerie Macabre
4 Fulminator Mage
4 Monstrous Carabid
4 Street Wraith
4 Archfiend of Ifnir
4 Desert Cerodon
4 Horror of the Broken Lands
14 cards

Other Spells
4 Demonic Dread
3 Living End
3 Beast Within
4 Violent Outburst
14 cards
Lands
4 Blackcleave Cliffs
1 Blood Crypt
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Forest
3 Grove of the Burnwillows
2 Overgrown Tomb
1 Stomping Ground
2 Swamp
4 Verdant Catacombs
1 Blooming Marsh
19 cards

Living End
 
Legacy: The first few weeks of results after the Top has been stopped have been interesting. One concern with having the best control deck nerfed is that Combo could run wild, and we certainly have seen a lot of ANT and Reanimator decks go 5-0, and even oddities like Dark Depths combo.   However, we are also seeing BUG Delver and Leovold decks do well, and even decks like this one.
 
 
Vintage: Another unexpected deck in Vintage this week – Elves! Who knew Leovold was an Elf? Well, Kaluma, obviously, but did anyone else?   
 
 
Card Prices
Note: all my prices come from the fine folks at MTGOTraders.com. These are retail prices, and generally the price of the lowest priced, actively traded version. (Prices for some rare promo versions are not updated when not in stock, so I skip those.)   You can get these cards at MTGOTraders.com web store, or from their bots: MTGOTradersBot(#) (they have bots 1-10), CardCaddy and CardWareHouse, or sell cards to MTGOTradersBuyBot(#) (they have buybots 1-4). I have bought cards from MTGOTraders for over a decade now, and have never been overcharged or disappointed.
 
Standard staples: Standard prices were generally up this week. Apparently, banning a deck almost everyone hates makes people more likely to invest in a format. Who knew? 
 

Standard Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$12.96
$9.89
$3.07
31%
$15.22
$13.51
$1.71
13%
$10.03
$10.66
($0.63)
-6%
$24.63
$19.46
$5.17
27%
$10.77
$16.12
($5.35)
-33%
$25.01
$22.04
$2.97
13%
$19.25
$16.46
$2.79
17%
$7.03
$8.22
($1.19)
-14%
$16.70
$14.04
$2.66
19%
$13.74
$10.44
$3.30
32%
$40.63
$29.85
$10.78
36%
$15.14
$12.90
$2.24
17%
Nissa, Steward of Elements
$6.17
$9.16
($2.99)
-33%
$10.36
$6.68
$3.68
55%
$8.40
$4.45
$3.95
89%
$8.05
$12.91
($4.86)
-38%
$7.92
$7.48
$0.44
6%
$25.54
$19.01
$6.53
34%
$14.99
$5.92
$9.07
153%
$10.33
$9.03
$1.30
14%
$8.33
$7.08
$1.25
18%

Modern staples:  Modern prices fell again this week. Is this a reaction to the no changes B&R announcement? I still don’t know. 
 

Modern Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$39.28
$40.80
($1.52)
-4%
$34.89
$34.44
$0.45
1%
$16.96
$14.50
$2.46
17%
$16.68
$17.29
($0.61)
-4%
$40.90
$41.43
($0.53)
-1%
$28.96
$29.11
($0.15)
-1%
$37.96
$43.12
($5.16)
-12%
$39.25
$39.91
($0.66)
-2%
$24.94
$23.63
$1.31
6%
$26.12
$32.00
($5.88)
-18%
$27.77
$30.45
($2.68)
-9%
$16.70
$16.89
($0.19)
-1%
$57.91
$59.11
($1.20)
-2%
$34.48
$36.64
($2.16)
-6%
$24.25
$24.86
($0.61)
-2%
$17.81
$16.01
$1.80
11%
$23.36
$23.74
($0.38)
-2%
$25.87
$25.71
$0.16
1%
$33.83
$35.51
($1.68)
-5%
$20.41
$23.06
($2.65)
-11%

Legacy and Vintage: Few changes this week. Leovold is up again, but he jumps all over the place anyway.   
 

Legacy / Vintage Cards
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
$20.86
$19.73
$1.13
6%
$64.27
$65.89
($1.62)
-2%
$24.35
$24.72
($0.37)
-1%
$25.37
$25.77
($0.40)
-2%
$47.63
$46.57
$1.06
2%
$48.43
$50.82
($2.39)
-5%
$30.37
$25.23
$5.14
20%
$24.25
$25.23
($0.98)
-4%
$37.72
$31.48
$6.24
20%
$49.97
$46.99
$2.98
6%
$21.34
$21.85
($0.51)
-2%
$42.13
$32.53
$9.60
30%
$31.40
$31.40
$0.00
0%
$35.36
$35.56
($0.20)
-1%
$24.79
$24.69
$0.10
0%
$160.31
$155.58
$4.73
3%
$53.09
$53.50
($0.41)
-1%
$59.74
$55.46
$4.28
8%
$37.75
$35.80
$1.95
5%
$18.81
$16.61
$2.20
13%
$50.70
$48.53
$2.17
4%

Set Redemption: You can redeem complete sets on MTGO. You need to purchase a redemption voucher from the store for $25. During the next downtime, Wizards removes a complete set from your account and sends you the same set in paper.  Treasure Chests and the current booster packs are here because they don’t really fit anywhere else.   Remember that Kaladesh and Eldritch Moon will go off redemption soon, even before the older sets. I’m not sure if I will keep the on the list once they are off redemption. I might, just because information on how Standard-legal sets are doing is interesting. 
 

Complete Set
Price
Last Week
Change
% Change
Aether Revolt
$73.39
$62.43
$10.96
18%
Amonkhet
$109.69
$138.64
($28.95)
-21%
Battle for Zendikar
$70.57
$49.25
$21.32
43%
Eldritch Moon
$117.65
$100.79
$16.86
17%
Kaladesh
$106.01
$92.46
$13.55
15%
Oath of the Gatewatch
$96.35
$74.73
$21.62
29%
Shadows over Innistrad
$76.87
$61.11
$15.76
26%
Treasure Chest
$2.58
$2.58
$0.00
0%
Amonkhet Booster
$3.49
$3.55
($0.06)
-2%

 
The Good Stuff
The following is a list of all the non-promo, non-foil cards on MTGO that retail for more than $25 per card. These are the big ticket items in the world of MTGO. The list is up to almost 70 cards this week.
 

Name
Set
Rarity
 Price
Rishadan Port
 MM
Rare
 $ 160.31
Black Lotus
 VMA
Bonus
 $    64.27
Liliana of the Veil
 ISD
Mythic Rare
 $    60.80
True-Name Nemesis
 C13
Rare
 $    59.75
True-Name Nemesis
 PZ1
Mythic Rare
 $    59.74
Wasteland
 TE
Uncommon
 $    58.36
Liliana of the Veil
 MM3
Mythic Rare
 $    57.91
Wasteland
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $    53.11
Show and Tell
 UZ
Rare
 $    53.09
Wasteland
 TPR
Rare
 $    52.61
Wasteland
 EMA
Rare
 $    50.70
Infernal Tutor
 DIS
Rare
 $    49.97
Food Chain
 MM
Rare
 $    48.43
Exploration
 UZ
Rare
 $    47.63
Chalice of the Void
 MS2
Bonus
 $    47.17
Force of Will
 MS3
Special
 $    43.67
Chalice of the Void
 MMA
Rare
 $    42.87
Ancestral Vision
 DD2
Rare
 $    42.30
Leovold, Emissary of Trest
 PZ2
Mythic Rare
 $    42.13
Mox Opal
 MS2
Bonus
 $    41.78
Tarmogoyf
 FUT
Rare
 $    41.77
Ensnaring Bridge
 ST
Rare
 $    41.24
Chalice of the Void
 MRD
Rare
 $    40.90
Engineered Explosives
 5DN
Rare
 $    40.79
Liliana, the Last Hope
 EMN
Mythic Rare
 $    40.63
Ensnaring Bridge
 8ED
Rare
 $    40.19
Ensnaring Bridge
 MS2
Bonus
 $    39.97
Engineered Explosives
 MS2
Bonus
 $    39.85
Force of Will
 MED
Rare
 $    39.46
Ancestral Vision
 TSP
Rare
 $    39.28
Ensnaring Bridge
 7E
Rare
 $    39.25
Unmask
 MM
Rare
 $    38.85
Engineered Explosives
 MMA
Rare
 $    37.96
Unmask
 V16
Mythic Rare
 $    37.75
Gaea's Cradle
 UZ
Rare
 $    37.72
Tarmogoyf
 MMA
Mythic Rare
 $    36.40
Misdirection
 MM
Rare
 $    35.36
Horizon Canopy
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $    35.30
Batterskull
 NPH
Mythic Rare
 $    34.89
Mox Opal
 MM2
Mythic Rare
 $    34.77
Mox Opal
 SOM
Mythic Rare
 $    34.48
Tarmogoyf
 MM2
Mythic Rare
 $    34.09
Tarmogoyf
 MM3
Mythic Rare
 $    33.83
Containment Priest
 MS3
Special
 $    32.88
Force of Will
 EMA
Mythic Rare
 $   31.60
Meren of Clan Nel Toth
 PZ1
Rare
 $    31.40
Karn Liberated
 NPH
Mythic Rare
 $    31.00
Scalding Tarn
 EXP
Mythic Rare
 $    30.67
Force of Will
 VMA
Rare
 $    30.37
Grim Monolith
 UL
Rare
 $    29.68
Eidolon of the Great Revel
 JOU
Rare
 $    28.96
Torrential Gearhulk
 MS2
Bonus
 $    27.86
Karn Liberated
 MM2
Mythic Rare
 $    27.77
Fulminator Mage
 SHM
Rare
 $    27.26
Fulminator Mage
 MM2
Rare
 $    26.57
City of Traitors
 TPR
Rare
 $    26.50
Gorilla Shaman
 ALL
Common
 $    26.40
City of Traitors
 EX
Rare
 $    26.25
Horizon Canopy
 FUT
Rare
 $    26.12
Daze
 MS3
Special
 $    25.97
Surgical Extraction
 MM2
Rare
 $    25.91
Surgical Extraction
 NPH
Rare
 $    25.87
Vendilion Clique
 MMA
Mythic Rare
 $    25.69
Torrential Gearhulk
 KLD
Mythic Rare
 $    25.54
Doomsday
 WL
Rare
 $    25.37
Containment Priest
 C14
Rare
 $    25.23
Grove of the Burnwillows
 FUT
Rare
 $    25.04
Grim Flayer
 EMN
Mythic Rare
 $    25.01

The big number is the retail price of a playset (4 copies) of every card available on MTGO. Assuming you bought the least expensive versions available, the cost of owning a playset of every card on MTGO is approximately $ 24,835. That is up about $420 from last week.
 
Weekly Highlights
The rain has finally stopped, and I can get back into the fields without having the tractor disappear into the mud. Now if I had one of those modern, self-driving tractors with GPS and internet in the cab, I could play MTGO while plowing and planting. But my tractors are fifteen and fifty years old, and the only thing digital is the hours in use meter on the newer one, so no field drafts. At best I can drive around and around while mentally planning Commander decks, so that’s something, at least.
 
I also get to play some more Amonkhet this week, both at FNM and online.  :)
 
PRJ
 
“One Million Words” on MTGO
 
 
This series is an ongoing tribute to Erik “Hamtastic” Friborg.
 
HammyBot Super Sale: HammyBot was set up to sell off Erik Friborg’s collection, with all proceeds going to his wife and son. So far, HammyBot has raised over $8,000, but there are a lot of cards left in the collection. Those cards are being sold at MTGOTrader’s Buy Price.  
 
 

13 Comments

1v1 Commander by Sensei at Fri, 05/05/2017 - 13:05
Sensei's picture

Do you play 1v1 commander or just multi? Oloro, Vial Smasher, and Tasigur will be banned way way way before Leovold.


Way.

1 vs 1 Commander tournaments by MichelleWong at Sun, 05/07/2017 - 02:44
MichelleWong's picture
5

I'm looking forward to the 1 vs 1 Commander tournaments.

At the same time I am concerned that this is the next step along the road to damaging the (already heavily damaged) multiplayer/casual experience.

That Picture... by Fred1160 at Tue, 05/09/2017 - 17:46
Fred1160's picture

I finally figured out where I know your pic from. I see it every day on a billboard advertising sinus doctors and treatment.

1v1 Commander is just going by Leviathan at Sun, 05/07/2017 - 01:38
Leviathan's picture
5

1v1 Commander is just going to go the way of Singleton, or Rainbow Stairwell, or the other similar formats. But what do I know, I'm just an old fart that has seen those formats come and go. Have fun while it lasts, and enjoy mulitplayer Commander forever.

Glad you're still doing these Pete.

re by Hearts at Mon, 05/08/2017 - 09:41
Hearts's picture

The comprehensive rules are important, but why ?

The Comprehensive Rules of by JXClaytor at Mon, 05/08/2017 - 10:39
JXClaytor's picture

The Comprehensive Rules of Magic is a reference document that holds all of the rules and possible corner cases found in Magic. It is NOT meant to be read beginning to end; instead it's meant to be consulted when specific rules questions come into play.

I hope that copy paste job answered the why.

Seems complete to me. :) by Paul Leicht at Mon, 05/08/2017 - 20:08
Paul Leicht's picture

Seems complete to me. :)

re by Hearts at Tue, 05/09/2017 - 08:13
Hearts's picture

Why isnt it meant to be read beginning to end ?

Merriam Webster defines by JXClaytor at Tue, 05/09/2017 - 08:41
JXClaytor's picture

Merriam Webster defines comprehensive as not lacking any part or member that properly belongs to it.

So generally, it means that there is a lot of information about it. Because there is so much, the magic rules does not make for a light hearted romp before bed.

It's like a dictionary or an by Misterpid at Tue, 05/09/2017 - 08:50
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It's like a dictionary or an encyclopedia. It has all of the information you need in one place and is set up in a way so that you can quickly find the individual bits of information at any given moment.

You can read it from beginning to end if you want to, but that's not really it's main purpose.

re by Hearts at Tue, 05/09/2017 - 09:08
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How can one comply with the mtg rules without having read them ?

What's your actual point here by JXClaytor at Tue, 05/09/2017 - 10:02
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What's your actual point here Hearts, because I feel like you're being deliberately obtuse now.

Did a judge hurt you? Did by JXClaytor at Tue, 05/09/2017 - 10:03
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Did a judge hurt you? Did you get ruled against? Did someone rules lawyer you?