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By: one million words, Pete Jahn
Oct 16 2009 4:01pm
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The Magic Online Community Challenge Cup

Wizards has created a challenge.  They have invited 8 players from around the MTGO universe to fly to WotC HQ and play in a two day / four format tournaments against a team of Wizards employees that Wizards describes as "the creators."  We don't know who, but we do know that Wizards has some really good players.  Mike Turian has a Hall of Fame ring, and Worth Wolpert, Aaron Forsyth  - you know, I'm not going to list all the people wth pro points and Pro Tour Top 8s.  It would be too depressing.  Put it this way - if Wizards wants to field a great team, it can.

So, who would you put up against them?  The current leaders in the Player of the Year race are Gab Nassif, followed closely by LSV and Shuhei Nakamura.  You could add the Ruel borthers, and  a couple other active Hall of Famers, then round it out with a constructed specialist, like Wafo-Tapa, or a writer / pro, like Chapin.  It could be a dream team.

That's not what Wizards did.  This is the online community challenge.  Wizards didn't want paper pros.

Well, we now know the online Player of the Year - it's yaya3.  Wizards could start with him, and the second place finisher Duo as well.  That team could have included...   

Wizards didn't do that, either.

Here's the announcement.

Its eight writers and community leaders.  The majority is from this website, but the team covers a broad field.  Here's the list.

  • Hamtastic
  • Bubba0077
  • Dangerlinto
  • SpikeboyM
  • Tweaker
  • John Baichtal - Wired GeekDad
  • Sam McCarl - writer for

and me. 

I'm all


like that.  I've been like that all week.

I'm off to Pro Tour Austin in a few hours.  Running around screaming is probably not "appropriate" behavior for a judge.

You know what - I don't care. 


I'm going to Renton! 

 Well, I get a trip to Seattle during the rainy season.  (Truth be told, Seattle is all rainy season, but whatever.)  What does the community get out of this? 


Wizards has created a forum thread - actually five now - for the community to post its advice and recommendations, and just to wish us good luck.  Anyone that posts their MTGO user name in that forum will get a Gleemox (if we lose) and a Momir Vig Avatar, plus free entry into the Momir Vig tourney if we win.


This raises a serious question - can we win?

Yes - with help.

We are, frankly, not the eight best MTGO players in the world.   Wizards knows that.  They know that, if they put us up against Worth and Aaron and Mike, and five more almost as good, and played regular formats, we would be toast.   Really, really burnt to crispy charcoal toast.

That's not what they are doing.  Probably.  We might play Aaron and company, but then I have almost beat Aaron. 


In a GP a pazillion years ago. 

When I had a busted limited pool.

Anyway - Wizards is giving us some advantages.

First of all, the tournament is not all standard formats.  We are playing four - two drafts, and two constructed.

The first draft is Zendikar.  That's a really standard format - but the format has just launched. In paper, and launches a week or so from now online.  Sure, some of the R&D folks have a lot of experience with the cards, but that was a year ago or more for them, and they didn't see actual packs and actual card runs.  It's going to be relatively unfamiliar to both sides.

The second draft format is Invasion block.  That was a long time ago.  None of us remember it all that well.  

The first constructed format is UNIFIED Standard, with Zendikar. That means that we build standard decks, but that the "four of" rule applies not just within a deck, but across all decks and sideboard.  If we put four Lightning Bolts in the Jund deck, we have none left for Goblins or Boros Bushwhacker.

The final format is even worse in that way.  It is Unified 100 Card Singleton.  No more than one copy (other than baci lands) in any deck or sideboard.  We have the whole Classic card pool to work with, but one per deck, time 8 decks, times 115 cards per deck (sideboards) is not as many cards as it might seem.  After all, who gets the Tarmogoyf?  (Well, me, OBV, but you get the point.)

Note that 8 player unified Standard and 8 player unified 100 card singleton are not sanctioned formats.  They are not even fan-supported quasi-formats.  They are special formats created just for this event.

In other words, no one has an advantage here, in terms of having a head start.  It's just us against them.

Sure, the "them" are some of the smartest people around, who play and think Magic all day, for a living.  That's their advantage.

The eight of us are not necessarily the best Magic minds around.  We also have jobs, or school, or websites, or other responsibilities - or all of the above.  We don't think about Magic all day long - far from it. We have lives, and those lives really cut into our Magic time.

(For that matter, our other Magic cuts into our Magic.  I need to leave for the airport to fly to Pro Tour Austin in about half an hour, which means that this article will be a bit short.)

So, what do we have to counter the really smart people who can do Magic all day.

We have you.


As a group, our biggest advantage is that we can talk to a ton of people.  We write for Wired Magazine, and, and, and  Two of us will be at the Pro Tour.  We have the heads of two huge special interest communities - Pauper and Classic - and we have the creator of - the MTGO Facebook.  And the Forums.

It's us against Wizards.  Our advantage is that there are a whole lot of us.

Over on the Wizards forums, we have several threads established.

Here's the main thread:

We also have subthreads for each format.

Unified Constructed Strategy
Unfied 100-Card Singleton Strategy
Zendikar Draft Strategy
IPA Draft Strategy

What can the "we" do?  The initial announcement was posted Monday night.  By Wednesday night, the Standard forum had already developed eight decklists, with a ton of additional comments and analysis. Singleton is a bit behind - mainly because it takes forever to type Singleton decklists.  We have some great advice on drafting Invasion - and I printed out everything on Zendikar (it's a lot) for the flight.

Individually, we might not be smarter than Wizards.  Collectively, we can be.

Speaking of Wizards being smart, I think they are doing themselves a bunch of good, all at once.  They are promoting a bunch of independent websites, writers and community people - all of whom help grow the game.  They are promoting and innovating formats.  They are finding another great way of raising interest in MTGO.  Finally, they are promoting their new & improved community website.

Seriously.  They really want people to log in and post - even if it is just to wish us luck.  If you do, and if you include your MTGO user name, you could get this:


If we win, you get a free Momir Vig avatar, and free entry into a community Momir Vig tourney. 

Woot!  Loot!  Woot!

Yes, I know the new forums are part of the new community site, and that you have to register.  No biggie.  I managed to register in under five minutes, while drafting at the same time.  It's easy, and pretty straightforward.  It also works.  That's a pretty big improvement, since I lost my last three Wizards accounts when their site randomly changed my passwords, then no one from Wizards could get the password reset to anything I could use.

It works now.  I'm on.  User name is PeteJahn, and my "pic" is my dog, Bailey, asleep on a couch he was not supposed to be on.  But I digress.

You should be part of the Wizards community, so you can help us crack the format and beat Wizards!  You get loot, we get glory (and I think we get a Gleemox and/or Momir Vig Avatar, too.)  More importantly, we can show that the community can beat Wizards at its own game.

I hope.

More later.  I have to head for the airport now.  If you are in Austin, come say hi.  If not - I'll be online once I'm back from the PT. 


"one million words" on MTGO




Congrats, Pete! And please, by Natedawg (not verified) at Fri, 10/16/2009 - 17:41
Natedawg's picture

Congrats, Pete!

And please, you and the others need to post in the constructed threads, we've got some good frameworks for the decks, but without knowing what any of you guys are wanting to play, it can be a bit difficult, like if nobody wanted to play Grixis control or something like that. So far only DL and Sam have posted there (We'll give Hammy a pass for this weekend :D )

Good luck to all of you!

I play Grixis Control by Alex Hemedinger (not verified) at Sat, 10/17/2009 - 09:00
Alex Hemedinger's picture

Congrats, and have fun! And I don't play grixis control anymore, but when I did I went undefeated at the 5k event. And top 8 at a ptq in Sacramento. Go grixis lol! Good ol' days. I had articles and video interviews on Good times...

Congrats! by Giraffe at Fri, 10/16/2009 - 18:10
Giraffe's picture

It's quite awesome that Wizards is doing this. Have fun guys!

100CS = Win by Zimbardo at Fri, 10/16/2009 - 18:29
Zimbardo's picture

Go Team!

I think you're going to like the lists that platipus10 and the community are putting together for 100CS. Unless they assign a department to work on that for the next two weeks, they're not going to be able to match the level of insight that he and various others have in the format, and they'll miss a lot of things. There are a lot of nuances to catch and obscure useful cards to identify, so hopefully people will go on the forums and continue to offer their observations. The link to lists-in-progress can be found on page 4 of the official 100CS thread.

Sounds like a blast! This is by spg at Fri, 10/16/2009 - 19:40
spg's picture

Sounds like a blast! This is an awesome idea from Wizards, and seems like it's going to be a total blast to participate in. Can't wait to see how it goes down...

Yeah Zim and Plat did a lot by Paul Leicht at Fri, 10/16/2009 - 19:51
Paul Leicht's picture

Yeah Zim and Plat did a lot of work on the unified 100s strategy and gave us some sneak previews there.

Wreck them with Jank!!! by Jed R (not verified) at Fri, 10/16/2009 - 23:02
Jed R's picture

Run Poly-progenitus!! Sick props if you do!! Don't think, just run it :P


Aaron by Sander at Wed, 12/22/2010 - 06:00
Sander's picture

Is it this Aaron Foysyth ? Yeah, he plays very well. I'd love to be as good as he is and many other players mentioned above.

A road trip and a contest by samm at Tue, 03/22/2011 - 10:08
samm's picture

A road trip and a contest game at the end of it? What's not to love about this equation. You guys must have had some great fun there. I miss a road trip and I'm looking forward for summer to come and set up my mpg travel trailer for a little adventure. Do you have any updates on how your trip went?