Hello! This is a Top 5 Lists article where I receive suggestions from people on things to rank and rank the Top 5 of that category, both MTG related and not. As always, opinions are my own and feel free to agree or disagree with me on the forums.
Top 5 Cards I Thought Were Bad But Turned Out to Be Great
Yeah, I missed the memo on this one (along with everyone else). It wasn’t fantastic when it was printed, and it actually took a while for people to catch on. If you were smart, you could have bought a bunch of Tarmogoyfs for $5 before they spiked.
4. Reflector Mage
I thought Reflector Mage was “just a Man-o’-War that could maybe see play,” and instead it turned into one of the defining cards of the format—it turns out that the extra point of toughness and the ability to prevent your opponent from replaying the card really do make the card a lot better.
3. Collected Company
When I saw this card, I thought it was interesting but overrated as I assumed you’d get, on average, about the same amount of mana you spent, and that was not worth the swings when you missed. In practice, I underestimated how powerful it was to be able to get 5-6 mana worth of creatures split over two different threats. I also underestimated how powerful it was to get specific utility creatures, such as Jace or whatever you’re missing for your Melira combo.
2. Goblin Guide
In my mind, getting an extra 2 damage as opposed to a regular 1-drop was not worth the chance to give your opponent a land every turn. In practice, Goblin Guide decks were so fast that the extra card rarely mattered, as you constrained people on mana and not on other resources.
1. Path to Exile
When I saw Path to Exile, my first thought was “who wants to give their opponents a land?” (notice a pattern?)—well, it turns out everyone does. I expected Path to be barely playable, and only in very niche strategies, but as soon as it started seeing play it became obvious that the card was very good, and the tempo swing you gained by removing anything for 1 mana was more valuable than the land you gave your opponent most of the time.
Top 5 Books I’m Looking Forward to Reading
Honorable Mention: The Winds of Winter (Song of Ice and Fire book 6) by George R. R. Martin
I’ve given up on waiting for this book, and I act as if it won’t exist. When I get it, it’ll be a nice bonus. I’m not as big a fan of the series as some other Magic players are, but I’ll still read it when it’s out.
5. The Lycanus Trilogy Book 2, by James Islington
As far as I know, there is no name for the second book of this series yet (the first one is called The Shadows of What was Lost), and I’m not sure it’s ever going to be out, but I thought the first book was very interesting (especially for a first time author) and would like to read more.
4. Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass Book 4), by Sarah J Maas (Out Sept. 6, 2016)
This is another less-known fantasy saga that I’m a big fan of. The characters, magic, and world are interesting.
3. Day Three: The Doors of Stone (Working Title) (The Kingkiller Chronicles Book 3), by Patrick Rothfuss
By now it’s unclear whether the third and final part of Name of the Wind will be released in my lifetime, but I’m looking forward to reading it if it is. I thought Name of the Wind was consistently great, and Wise Man’s Fear was better in some parts and worse in others (mostly the forest parts were more boring than anything in book 1, but parts of it were better than anything in book 1 as well). I’m hoping book 3 has the excellent ceiling of book 2 without the poorer sections.
2. Stormlight 3, by Brandon Sanderson
I like big fantasy sagas that never end (like Sword of Truth and Wheel of Time) and I am a big fan of Brandon Sanderson, so it comes as no surprise that I rather like his big fantasy saga. The world is engaging and the characters are fascinating, and I look forward to reading more. Luckily, Brandon Sanderson writes faster than anyone, so even though the book will likely be gigantic, I don’t expect to have to wait too long to read it.
1. The Blood Mirror (Lightbringer Book 4), by Brent Weeks (Out October 25, 2016)
I thought The Black Prism was an excellent book because it was different than what I was used to—instead of starting as a nobody and having to overcome adversity like every other fantasy book, the protagonist starts as the most powerful man in the world, which means his interactions and challenges are very different from what I’m used to reading. I read the first three books assuming the series was a trilogy, which frustrated me to no end when I got to the end of it, but I guess I can wait until October 25th.
Top 5 Worst MTG Rulings
5. Luis and Paul were playing a 2HG event once when their opponents committed a game-loss worthy infraction. A judge was called and after thinking for a while, decided that “normally this would be a game loss, but since this is 2HG and they’re only 1-game matches, it would be the equivalent of a match loss, and I don’t want to do that, so put that back in your hand and you lose 10 life.”
This is not necessarily an awful ruling because it was in a side event, but it’s still pretty ridiculous, so I’ve included it.
4. At the team PT many years ago, Ben Stark’s team was 3-0 when one of his teammates had a seizure and had to be taken to the hospital. They said “OK, we’ll continue playing and we’ll get a match loss every round for the third person.” The judges said they couldn’t because they would have an unfair advantage compared to other teams who had to build three decks with the same pool instead of two. If you want to rule that teams have to be three people no matter what, then just make that ruling—but to say playing with one less player is an unfair advantage? You know you can always build two good decks and give the bad one to the other person, right?
3. At a GP, player A had a Countryside Crusher in his hand with three 5-mana cards in hand—all of which are known (because of Countryside Crusher). Player A only has 4 lands in play, though, and is not going to ever draw a fifth because of Crusher. At some point, player A draws a card without revealing it. Player B calls a judge because of the missed trigger, and the judge says he can put the trigger on the stack now but that card is already drawn. So player A ends up drawing the land he needs (and that he would otherwise never have drawn) and casts all three 5-casting-cost in his hand to win the game.
2. At a team Grand Prix, a team of 3 kids (each about 12 years old) approached a judge in the middle of deck construction and asked “if my teammate casts a spell, can I use surge?” to which the judge promptly answered “yes” and walked away. I mean, technically the judge is correct—surge does work with teammate spells if you’re playing 2HG—but given the context, it’s obvious what the kids were asking and the judge should have replied to that. I suspect those kids were very sad and/or confused later on when they found out how the cards actually worked.
1. Martin Juza was playing PT Paris when his opponent cast Summoning Trap. After looking at the top 7, his opponent announced that he missed (found no creatures), but then realized that he actually looked at the top 8 cards instead of the top 7. A judge then ruled that since he looked at 8, he could shuffle those back and look at 7 new cards. This was appealed and eventually reversed.
Top 5 TV Shows
5. Modern Family
Modern Family is just incredibly funny, and the right kind of funny—smart and sarcastic rather than goofy.
4. Death Note
Death Note is a story about two incredibly intelligent characters surrounded by people who have no idea what’s going on, which is about how I feel during our testing right now (kidding, kidding). Throughout the show, they fight their own battle of wits while everyone else is oblivious, and the way the two characters think is amazing.
3. The Americans
The Americans tells the story of two Russian spies who go to live in the U.S. during The Cold War, but it’s different than other shows like it, because the Russians are actually the heroes!
2. The Good Wife
The Good Wife gets a bad rap because the name is kind of bad (and people think it’s Desperate Housewives), but it’s a terrific show about a lawyer who is married to a politician involved in a scandal. It’s basically a law show and I’m very sad it’s ending.
1. Avatar: the Last Airbender
Avatar is simple, but it’s awesome. It has a great story, great characters, and it’s incredibly funny. Since it’s so “light” and short, I’ve actually watched the whole thing 3 times—I’ve never watched any other TV show twice.
Top 5 Players Without a PT Top 8
This is a bit hard to rank since I obviously haven’t interacted with all the good players without a PT Top 8, so it’s going to be skewed toward people I know, but:
Honorable mention: Robin Dollar
I don’t know Robin Dolar much other than having played him once, but Ondřej and Ivan keep telling me that I have to include him on this list, so I’m going to give him an honorable mention to keep this list less U.S.-centric.
5. Fabrizio Anteri
Fabrizio is a newcomer who hasn’t excelled at the PT yet, but who has had awesome results in GPs all season, with 9 GP Top 8s (10 now, I guess) and 5 wins, which is a pretty absurd number.
4. Nathan Holiday
Perhaps the lesser known of all the Platinum players, Nathan’s Magic skills are often overshadowed by his great hair, but he happens to play pretty well too.
3. Sam Pardee
Sam is one of the most underrated players around because he is not splashy—he doesn’t have a lot of big results and he doesn’t write articles (though he does videos), but he constantly does well both in real life and in Magic Online.
2. Kuo Tzu-Ching
Kuo Tzu-Ching has 11 GP Top 8s and is currently the player with the most Pro Points without a Top 8. He’s also the first Platinum player from APAC, which has historically been underrepresented when it comes to big tournaments.
1. Shahar Shenhar
Shahar doesn’t have a PT Top 8, but he has 2 Worlds wins, which is way more than anyone on this list. I think the other places are up to discussion, but Shahar has to be #1.
Top 7 Harry Potter Books
7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Harry Potter is my favorite book series of all time, and this was the only book that I actively disliked. I felt like it was simply too different from Harry Potter, and lacked the things that made the other books different from other fantasy books—particularly the school aspect. Harry Potter has fantastic world building and complex characters, but those all disappear in some random quest for random artifacts with random symbols and conspiracies that seem thrown together hastily and don’t connect with the rest of the books in any way. Also, I rather liked Dumbledore and (spoiler alert) there’s less of him in this book.
6. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
There’s nothing wrong with the Chamber of Secrets, but it’s just not as appealing as the rest of the books. Part of the reason I think this is the second-worst book is that I dislike Hagrid and spiders, and there are a lot of both in this book.
5. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
The first book is great, but I think it lacks its own story. It introduces you to the characters and the world, but the “Sorcerer’s Stone” part of the plot is simply not as interesting as the specific plots of the other books. It’s also a bit unrealistic (yes, I know, wizards and all, but still) in that a bunch of first-years shouldn’t have the need or the skills to stop what is happening. This is still the book I’ve re-read the most in my entire life—I’ve read it about 10 times (I used to re-read it every time a new book came up).
4. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
I’m now in the “all these books are fantastic but which is most fantastic?” territory, and I think other than the one in first place, I liked the next 3 books equally. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is a transition between school and real world, but most things still happen in the school, so you get to see both. You also get to see more of Dumbledore and he’s my favorite character (along with Hermione).
3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Prisoner of Azkaban is excellent at building suspense, and it surprises you in a great way—you don’t expect what is coming but you accept that it makes sense once it’s revealed. It’s also a little darker than the other books, but the fears are more real instead of just “monsters”—it sets up the pace of the series by introducing a “good side” and a “bad side” in a way that the other books do not. Time traveling is also done very well—every time I see a time traveling plot I think it’s going to be full of holes, but the one in Harry Potter is actually reasonable.
2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
The tournament itself is interesting, but the best part of this book is that you get to see more of the Harry Potter world, including the other schools. Since what I like the most about Harry Potter is the world, I rather like this book.
1. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
I’ll be honest—I strongly dislike the first hundred or so pages in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Overall, I’m just not a fan of emo-Harry, and it’s annoying to read exclusively about him because I like the side characters and the world, and he doesn’t live in that world . I wish this part didn’t exist, and I actually skip the first hundred pages when I re-read this book. But I think the rest of it is just fantastic. Umbridge and the exams are great, and all the side characters are developed—McGonagall is also a big favorite of mine in part because of this book. You also get to finally see actual “battle” between good and evil, and Dumbledore is great.
Top 5 Players I’d Like to Test With But Haven’t Yet
5. Reid Duke
Reid is a dedicated person, an excellent player, and someone who I believe isn’t afraid to test new ideas. On top of that, he’s pretty cool.
4. Zvi Mowshowitz
I’m a big fan of Zvi’s articles and the way he thinks about Magic, so I would like to be able to test with him at some point. I’d have a lot to learn from the way he approaches a new format.
3. Kai Budde
I don’t know if Kai tests much nowadays, but I would like to be on a team with him at least once so I can begin to understand how he wins so much more than anyone else.
2. Sam Black
Every time I read a Sam Black post-PT article I think “wow, that really makes a lot of sense, how did I not think of it?, so I imagine he’s pretty great to test with because he has so many interesting ideas.
1. Shota Yasooka
Testing with the Japanese players is difficult because communication is often an issue, but I would really like to have insight into Shota’s mind—he always plays the craziest decks that somehow work and I’d like to know how he gets there.
Top 5 Things Everyone Likes But I Don’t
5. Jessica Jones
I love super hero movies, but I don’t get the love for Jessica Jones. I like that the main character is a woman, which is too rare among super hero stories, but the story just didn’t captivate me at all. I just didn’t care what happened to the characters.
4. Peanut Butter
I don’t particularly dislike peanut butter, but I believe it’s inferior to both Nutella and chocolate in every occasion, so I’m not sure why you’d ever eat it. There is simply nothing that gets better with peanut butter on it than it does with Nutella.
3. Fight Club
I’m told this is a great movie, but I don’t like it. It just feels pointless to me. Yeah, I get it, it’s different in some ways, but it just evokes no emotions from me. Maybe the fact that I had spoilers before I watched it the first time ruined it for me.
I don’t like the consistency of eggs, and I don’t love the taste either. I’ll eat some kinds, but I don’t like fried eggs, scrambled eggs, or omelettes. It really limits my choices when I go to an American breakfast place.
Beer is awful and I don’t understand how anyone can possibly enjoy the taste of it.
Top 5 Dual Land Sets
5. Allied-Color Creaturelands
Raging Ravine, Celestial Colonnade, and Creeping Tar Pit are awesome, and Stirring Wildwood and Lavaclaw Reaches have some uses. This cycle is great because they both fix your mana and are legitimate kill conditions, and that’s good enough to play lands that come into play tapped even in a format as punishing as Modern.
4. Ravnica Duals
2 life is a fine price to pay for a land coming into play untapped, and having basic land types is very relevant.
Some people hate fetchlands because of the shuffling, and I sympathize, but I like them—I think the shuffling makes them more interesting (Brainstorm, Top, etc), I like the 1-life-for-fixing price/payout ratio, and I like how they interact with other duals.
2. Future Sight Lands
The Future Sight set of duals (Graven Cairns, River of Tears, Grove, etc.) is very interesting—they’re all unique and tailored to their color combinations by either their advantages or their drawbacks. Grove of the Burnwillows, for example, is fine in RG but completely broken in UW. River of Tears makes sense in UB because blue has instants, but wouldn’t make sense in GW. Nimbus Maze is kind of a fail, but whatever.
1. Dual Lands
Well, you can’t really beat the originals…
Top 5 League of Legends Champions
Keep in mind that I like playing mid, so this list is going to be skewed toward this. I’m also Gold I-ish, so that influences my choices. That said, Orianna is a solid laner with good late game, and she’s very interesting with the ball placement and whatnot. Her only downside is that she requires a bit of teamwork, which is annoying if you’re playing solo queue and can’t communicate as you place the ball on someone and they just jump away. If you’re playing with Ondřej Strasky, this also happens a lot.
I’ve liked Lux since I started playing—she has good range and people underestimate her damage. She’s very fragile but YOLO.
I like that Azir is great, yet people rarely play him in my games. He’s very hard to play, and I can’t say I that mastered him, but you can do some pretty cool things from time to time and people also underestimate your damage.
Lulu is my go-to top-laner (and sometimes support), but I also like playing her mid. She does an obscene amount of damage early, is cool/tricky with her off-angle glitterlances, and I like being faster than everyone.
I’m not a good Thresh player, but I love the champion. You can save teammates, kill enemies, slow everybody—you can basically do anything, and that’s in a role that most people don’t like because they think you don’t influence the game enough.
That’s what I’ve got for today! I hope you’ve enjoyed it, and see you next week.