onsdag 25 maj 2016

Clip Show

There are something like 260 posts on this blog. Most are without tags or structure. A few people have noted this, and mentioned that some sort of links could be appreciated for new visitors, or for veterans who wants to give old content a second look. So I took some time and dug up five of the, in my opinion, more interesting posts in seven different categories along with ten or so deck techs with short summaries.
A random pic of Kalle doing the Lestree Pose with a makeshift pair of black sunglasses.
Maybe you'll find something sweet you haven't seen before. Check it out here.

onsdag 18 maj 2016

Springtime at Ovino, a guest report from Giuseppe Rinaldi

Ah, summer! Suddenly, everything is alive again, the parks are full of beer, and the sun seems to never set. There are many things I could rant about in the world of the oldest of cards. The unrestriction of Fork has already had a pretty big impact. In the years prior, it has taken a few months before we've seen the real effect of updates to the restricted list; mostly as it takes so much time and effort to build and test new decks. But this time, Marc Lanigra took down the MKM Series 93/94 tournament in Frankfurt with his undefeated Fork deck already the day after the card was legalized. Further northwest, the UK old school players got some stream time during the MagicMadhouse ProSeries in Birmingham last weekend. Chris Cooper and the others in the UK Old School crew have also announced the first UK Old School Nationals championship in Blackpool July 3rd during the Magic Madhouse Grand Finale convention. A part of the proceeds will go to charity, and word on the street is that you'll get to pick your potential spoils based on how skilled you are flipping a Chaos Orb on the prize table. I'll also throw in free entry and a beer at next years n00bcon in the prize pool if the UK Champion would like to come and join us there ;) And Stephen Menendian have completed his third entry in his series on Old School Magic at Vintagemagic.com; this time looking at Zoo decks. And 93/94 Skype Magic has grown quite a bit since the post last week, with both new players and new technical solutions. And I've built a Suicide Blue deck with Illusionary Mask. And some other sweet stuff is going on.

But this is not a week for me to rant. Instead, we have a treat from the southern part of the continent where the mages of old gather en masse to fight for glory and an oversized Chaos Orb. The Ovino tournaments are by now among the top four largest recurring Old School tournaments in the world. A year ago, they hosted an impressive 30 participants. Six months ago, they gathered 40, and this spring they were 51 guys battling it out in Milan, Italy. You can check out some videos and awesome decks on the Ovinotournaments web page. But that's not all, of course. Today we have the story directly from the horse's mouth. I give the word to the 2016 Ovino X Champion Giuseppe Rinaldi. /Mg out.

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In the autumn of 2015 I was surfing on this blog looking for some nice decks, when my attention was stunned by this picture:
Thomas's BRW Tempo
I liked the deck, but my first impression was that I could build it better and anyway I didn’t want to play a tempo-oriented deck but a midrange version. So I’ve played a BRW list with Dark Rituals, Sinkhole and Underworld Dreams until march 2016 when I finally got (with an huge trade) my P9, I added two more bombs and made several changes to the list thanks to the experience gained in the tournaments I played.

The main goal to reach was the simplicity: play creatures hard to deal with, like Sedge Troll (that is the most underrated creature in this format), removals and bombs. As you can see from my list, I built the sideboard thinking about control decks.
First version of the deck - December 2015, 3rd position on a 17 players tournament in Milan  (10 proxies allowed)
In the first build of the deck I ran a playset of rituals and factories 'cause I interpreted and played the deck as a Monoblack with a splash. I was wrong. This deck doesn’t want to act like a Monoblack with a ritual-specter on turn one followed by a sinkhole/black knight on turn two. In fact, if your starting hand isn’t explosive, what you want to do in the early game is to stay open and control the board until turn four, when you finally start to play your threats. So the rituals were cut for sapphire and fellwar stones that fix your mana and let you have an easier midgame. Sinkhole is played just as a one-of as a third solution to LoA or (as I often do) to destroy a blue land in order to play a bomb (now I have Fellwar Stone as cc2 drop). Armageddon was another great add: I wanted a big threat against "The Deck" at sorcery speed, in this way, my opponents can fight it only with permissions, and their  removals become useless.

About the Mishra's Factories: playing the first build I noticed that a lot of defeats were caused by Blood Moon or color screw, so the only solution was to cut colorless mana and add more City of Brass and basic lands. During the Ovino tournament I played with only one Mishra's Factory just to troll the other players :) The truth is that I really would like see it in the restricted list because I hate the stalling situations caused by them.

At the moment the only card that doesn’t convince me is Wheel of Fortune: it’s always the first card that I side out in every single matchup. Same thing about Chains of Mephistopheles and Wrath of God, they will be replaced.
The deck I played at Ovino
The deck works fine, I tuned it a lot during the past months. I started from an idea then I developed and improved it and mainly I forgot to blow Mr. Lestree or Mr. Weissman.

The Tournament

Round 1 - Mr Fabbri with BRG Abyss Control (2-0)
In G1 he resolves a Su-Chi on turn four with Badlands, Bayou and Taiga in play. I don’t see any blue sources so I just keep my Disenchant for The Abyss he had previously tutored and it’s gg. Game two is very similar but my hate for artifacts and enchantments has grown.

Round 2 - Mr Pandini with RUG Zoo (only cc1/cc2 creatures) (2-1)
During the morning I playtested with him, he had incredible starting hands and beat me easily 3-0.
In G1 I play a fast Juzam and several removals on his creatures, I force him to make unfavorable plays to take care of my big boys and he quickly lose gasoline and the game.
G2 Land creature go, land creature chain lightning, land bolt bolt. No brain, no pain. Easy victory for him.
G3 He has a Sylvan Library in play but sees only crap, another Juzam take him in the red zone but he’s able to limit it thanks to Maze of Ith until I draw a Time Walk.

Round 3 - Mr Ancarani with UWB Abyss Control 2-0
Before the match we talked about how Juzam is overvalued in this format. He asks me if I play them. I digress.
In G1 my starting hand is: 3 lands, mox, fellwar, Mind Twist and a random card. The plan is simple: Mtwist for 3 on turn 2, unfortunately for Mr. Ancarani my first draw is a Lotus...
However, the match is really long 'cause I draw only mana sources and removals, he’s able to rebuild his hand and has a nice comeback with his Mtwist. Then arrive 3 Juzam and it’s game over.
G2 again 3 overvalued djinns teach him how is wrong to mess with them.

Round 4 - a guy with Monoblack 2-1
In G3 I have to face a dramatic situation: my opponent has 2 Juzam in play, x cards in hand and 11 lifepoints, my board is a Troll, 8 lands and one card in hand (a mox). He attacks me and I go to 4 lp then he casts another Juzam. I topdeck a Fireball and let him die on his upkeep. An inglorious victory.

Round 5 - Mr Maggi with The Deck (with Serra Angel and Power Monolith combo) 2-0
G1 I play some fast creatures that meet stp and cspell, he resolves a Serra Angel so I have to invest my Demonic Tutor for a stp. I play a Juzam and he tries to chaosorbing him but the wrong flip gives me the game.
G2 I can’t remember much of this game, probably I win it thanks to a creature+armageddon.

Round 6 - Mr Lauter with The Deck (i.d.)

Quartefinals - Mr Melandri with UR Counterburn 2-0
G1 He keeps an hand with no red sources and my Specter starts to hit him. Eventually he takes care of him and when he taps out for a threat I simply discard his hand with a Mtwist. A Troll finish the job.
G2 In the midgame he plays a Control Magic on my Troll then resolves a Su-Chi, I play a Juzam and keep him on defense while destroy his blue lands with Sinkhole and Strip Mine. He plays a Timetwister and in response I cast a Bolt on his face, he seems dazed but what I need is just one of my eight outs (Reb or Disenchant) to let the Troll come back home. After the twister he chooses to attack me and I block his Su-chi with my Juzam, he looks at me, he looks at me again, he says "I know u want to fuck my ass", I put my pokerface on, he looks at his lands (island and cob open), he thinks, he looks at me again than taps his cob to bolt my Juzam.
"In response Reb on Control Magic"
"Ok man, you got my ass".
He pass, I untap, draw, play lotus, moxen, Mtwist for 6 and a second Troll. Call me scum.

Semifinals - Mr Esposito with Red Artifact 2-1
The match has been recorded so I hope u will see it online soon.
G1 I’m at 1 life and close to give up, but I succeed to take care of his massive army of Su-Chi and Juggernaut and then my Trolls give me an unexpected victory. Probably one of the best comeback in my life.
G2 A Blood Moon on turn one is enough for me.
G3 He chooses not to Chaos Orb my Troll (and swing his creatures to my face) and probably this choice costs him the game.
Mr. Esposito's deck.
Finals - Mr Citino with UBR Power Monolith 2-1
G1 I start with Scrubland, Lotus, Troll, then land, mox, Demonic Tutor (powersinked), in the midgame he plays a Timetwister and I see again Lotus, Demonic Tutor + Juzam, Strip Mine, and other bombs.
G2 An huge flood for me: 10 lands, 3 fellwar, 2 moxen (the other 2 in my hand). I play 4 spells: Time Walk, Reb, Disenchant and a Troll. He resolves Blood Moon and the Abyss then plays 4 Bolts and a Fireball.
G3 He quickly resolves a Blood Moon but has only an island and sapphire as blue sources, this means he cannot try his combo with a backup cspell. I have a Troll plus swamp and Mox Jet and slowly start a race. He gets some turns bolting my Troll in the precombat phase, then tries an Ancestral Recall on my eot, I let him resolves ‘cause I have only a Reb in hand as active protection. Then he casts a Boomerang on the autolocking Blood Moon and I let him resolves too 'cause now with Reb, Disenchant and Fork (previously drawn) I feel pretty safe. On his turn he plays a land and pass. No bombs, no Abyss, he’s in a deep flood. I draw a second Troll and resolve it (can’t remember if there was a counterwar on him). Two turns later he extends his hand.

That’s all, thanks for reading.
The prize: A huge Chaos Orb signed by Tedin and the players.
We give Giuseppe a great thanks for his story, for his good games, and for showing us again that underestimating Juzam Djinn will come at the price of your demise. All the best! /Mg

onsdag 11 maj 2016

Skype magic - or playing magic with people from all over the world when you have toddlers

Today we have a treat! Norwegian old school player and all round good guy Bjørn Einar Bjartnes shares his story, and his experiences battling opponents around the world using Skype and Shivan Dragons. Enjoy! /Mg out

I started playing Magic back when revised was in the shops here in Oslo. It was very casual and mostly with friends from school. House rules were a necessity because no-one knew the rules that well. My little brother claims I insisted Mana Flare only counted for my lands. No wonder I appreciated that card so much. We had a few older cards, mostly we got ripped trading dual lands for common legend cards, I think. My mum actually managed to buy eight packs of The Dark for Christmas once, I think the local card store got an extra box in. I still remember not being too happy about expansions like Ice Age, I guess 93/94 was in my heart already back then. When I started high school, I put my cards away in a shoe-box. Geeky hobbies like Mtg had to let go. Since then my cards had mostly been in that shoe-box, or played by my little brother who continued playing. Until the day I started working with Magnus and he showed me his blog. 20 years later all I knew for sure was that I was still going to play red and green, maybe with black, but surely not white and blue. Everybody knows those colors are for weaklings and cowards. I didn’t plan to go all in on 93/94 either, maybe just restore my old revised deck as I remembered it, but one thing led to another and suddenly the cardboard crack got the better of me, with new shipments being ordered before the first one arrives.
My current deck is under constant tweaking as I learn to play 93/94. My favorite kill is a Berserked Dragon Whelp with Gauntlet of Might. This is my build for an ongoing Skype tournament that allows revised.
A lot of good things can be said about Scandinavian gender equality, but it doesn’t give a man with young kids a lot of time to hang out playing Magic with friends all night. It’s not that much fun having a sweet deck built and hardly being able to leave the apartment… When I found the OLDSCHOOL 93-94 SKYPE TOURNAMENTS Facebook Group I got really interested. It definitely sounds a bit weird, webcam with strangers does sound a bit like chat roulette to me. Desperate to play magic, I decided to give it a go anyway. Turned out, it was a great experience, time flew, I had a few beers, we played and talked about Magic for hours. My girlfriend did make quite a lot of fun of me for it, I guess it must have looked a bit weird…
My first game, we played only using laptops, we didn’t even build the laptop up with books. We were such n00bs back then in April...
Suddenly I was able to hang out and play with people from all over the world. It has turned out a lot better than I expected it too. Old-school players are really chill, the format is really about casual fun and admiration of old cards. Rules are the “standard” Swedish B&R, but most people are ok with people playing revised cards. Personally, I play a couple of revised duals and a couple of birds, but I try to avoid going overboard and avoid proxies. I think most of us play to have fun with the old card, and even if I would probably win more if I added a few proxies for moxen and a lotus it wouldn’t feel right for me. Winning is less important than slinging old cards. Mostly, when I have time to play, I just post on the group when I have time and want to play, ideally the day before, but the same night sometimes works as well. As more players find out about 93/94 Skype I’m sure hooking up with players will be even easier.
I’ve had quite a few matches the last weeks with Markus. This shows my first setup, without an external camera, but using an extra monitor.
As more people join in on the fun, the Skype format evolves. One Sunday not too long ago we played a mini-tournament with four players, everybody got to play three matches with all three players. We had players on both sides of the Atlantic ocean. There are other longer-running tournaments being experimented with, and I’m sure we haven’t seen it all yet. We have even talked about traveling to meet up with some players to play IRL.

My experience so far, is that tournaments are a lot more chill if you schedule in matches in different sessions. Hanging out, slinging cards, drinking beer is more relaxed if you don’t have other people waiting. At least for me, the 3x3 matches in one night was less chill. I did get to play a lot of different opponents, I did have a great time, but I prefer playing one person without time limits.
Things you can do only on Skype: I can stand on my standing-desk while my opponent can sit down and smoke without bothering me.
Technicalities
Some things needs a few adjustment when playing over Skype, like taking control over creatures, rolling dice etc. But even flipping orbs works well! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxkpXbHGElA

Having an old laptop with a bad webcam shouldn’t stop you from playing on Skype. No matter how good your setup is, you will not be able to read the text of a card without holding the card to the camera, so a simple setup will suffice. However, I have played around a little to try to optimize my setup.
  1. Connection
    A stable connection helps a lot, not hearing your opponent clearly is more annoying than the video quality dropping. Getting good audio requires a stable internet connection. Wired Ethernet beats WiFi, so try to wire up. If you can’t, at least make sure you have a strong WiFI signal.
  2. Built in webcam
    If you don’t have an external webcam, there are a few tricks that works well. You can build your laptop up with a few heavy books to get a better angle, and if you have an external monitor you can avoid trying to look up on a bent screen on the book pile.
  3. External cameras
    You will get the best quality from external webcams. High quality webcams need to do compression to be able to send video feed to your opponent over the internet, if you have a beefy computer it should be able to do high res video (720p, at least) using your CPU to do the compression. If your computer is a bit slower, a camera with built in hardware encoding is definitely better. Cameras like Logitech’s C920 does hardware encoding of h.264 up to 1920x1080, that Skype for Windows can use directly without having to encode the video. I would definitely recommend the C920, I picked mine up used for about $50.
  4. Lightning
    Webcams need decent lighting. Avoid direct sunlight and spots that can give glares in cards. Direct back light can also be challenging.
  5. Life counters
    The mobile apps works really well, you can see both players score over Skype. My small, see-through dice are next to worthless. I dream of making a device of some sorts that would project life onto the screen, we’ll see…
  6. Sound
    Built in mics normally work, but external speakers and a decent microphone is better. I use the built in mic in the C920 and I think that's ok.
This is about as high quality as I have been able to get my video.
And in the not-too-distant future I am sure we can get even more immersive gameplay, with real cards projected on the table. The Hololens still costs approximately one unlimited Black Lotus, but unlike the Lotus, prices will drop. People have already started contributing ideas to https://microsoftstudios.com/hololens/shareyouridea/idea/magic-the-gathering/. Personally, I don’t care about the 3D models on top of the cards, there is nothing 93/94 about that, but having your opponents cards projected onto a table would be cool. Also a virtual touch on a card to have in enlarged would be sweet. http://i.cbc.ca/1.2927980.1421947089!/fileImage/httpImage/image.png_gen/derivatives/original_620/hololens-minecraft.png

We thank Bjørn Einar again for his introduction to Skype Magic and sweet tech. If you want to join him in a game or two, I highly recommend checking out the 93/94 Skype Magic Facebook group. Note that this group is not any kind of hardcore competitive environment, but a chance for deckbuilders with few local opponents or a lot of commitments to have a beer and swing old cardboard with similar good people around the world :)

tisdag 3 maj 2016

Banned & Restricted update 2016

It's that time of the year again. For real this time ;)

We got input from a lot -a lot- of active players this year. Some things are pretty much equal across the different groups; e.g. a great majority thinks that City in a Bottle should be unrestricted and that Strip Mine should be restricted, but there are still a handful very vocal opponents against their current status. Further away from the status quo than that, I've heard great players well invested in the format give arguments for restricting cards like Swords to Plowshares and Power Sink, and others arguing the merits for unrestricting Balance and Mana Drain. As noted by the response for the Aprils Fools post this year, it's easy to give somewhat good arguments for many, many different cards. And everyone wont always share the same experience playing with or against them. So it's important to test, talk to people, look at actual results, and understand that the changes should be made in the spirit of having people enjoy the format. It's a format for us who like flipping Chaos Orbs on Circle of Protection: Black and putting Shivan Dragons into play with Eureka after all.
A few of the cards that spark debates
Many players from different communities gave input this year, including building and playtesting decks. In particular the four last world champions and all round pillars of the community that are Elof Gottfridsson, Christoffer "Stalin" Andersson, Kalle Nord and Martin Berlin; and the skillful players and tournament organizers Markus "KungMarkus" Guldbrandson and Gordon Andersson. Among the other players who provided most valuable input I'd like to give a shout out to Gael from France, Marc Lanigra from Germany, Martin Lindström and GaJol from Sweden, and many others from across the lands.

And again, everyone wont like everything. As we've done for the last nine years, we might well keep making minor tweaks to this list every year for a long time coming. Promoting a small update to the meta, while at the same time trying to not mess too much with any pet decks. And if you don't like the changes or really want to play with four Strip Mines or 4th Edition Sylvan Libraries, just organize a gathering and do it. Make up your own house rules, or you can follow Eternal Central rules, BoM Rules, ChannelFireball rules, Local Danish rules, Ravenna rules, UK rules, EudoGames rules, Australian rules or whatever you want. There are a lot of variants. A group in Spain decides Chaos Orb flips with a coin flip to get a 50/50 chance of destroying a card rather than flipping the Orb itself. It's not like a gang of raging Scandinavians will come to your home and spill out your beer and break your kitchen table.

That said, I do realize that the great majority of the different players and playgroups around the world follow this B&R for their Old School needs. Even if many groups allow a few additional reprint sets, the B&R is almost uniformly consistent outside of USA. It's used in most all of the large European tournaments, and it's the list commonly used for 93/94 on Skype (more on that next week btw!). So we try and approach it with some thought to make it easier for players in different groups have a mostly common ground to stand on when they face each other across the borders. As a community driven format, I think that there will always be some differences, but it's important not to mess too much with the baseline and alienate players. Sure, it would be cool to legalize Rebirth, but it would also be a pretty weird play. Maybe in the future sometime ;)
I mean, you don't even have to ante if you don't want to.
Time to delve down. A lot of cards were discussed this year, let's take a look at five of the most heated suspects.
In a world where everyone has full power and everyone wants to play "the best deck", Black Vise might actually not be that much of a hassle. It's not a blow-out against powered UR Burn as they will empty their hands to four cards or less within a moment. It's not that good against The Deck, as The Deck plays full power to ramp out their hands of artifact mana and then still can operate a Jayemdae Tome with 3-4 cards in hand. And if it should be a hassle, The Deck has a lot of ways to remove it. It is however a ridiculous (and highly disliked) card against budget decks, and it makes power all that much more important. Say you're on White Weenie (a fast deck), and you face the double Vise start. Even if you curve out almost perfectly with turn 1 Savannah Lions, Turn 2 White Knight, and a drop or two turn 3, you still looking at at least 12 damage. If you don't curve out, opponent has some mana denial, or if you play something like Distress or Enchantress, you probably just lose. A card that does fairly little against the top tier decks but is pretty much insane against decks without moxen doesn't seem like something we need in the format. It is also a very high variance card; broken turn one on the play, but usually a feel-bad topdeck in the lategame. Combine those things with the fact that it isn't even needed to have it to have archetypes like prison or mana denial winning tournaments, and it just seems like a card that would make the format worse and decrease diversity (see e.g. Distress from the last Arvika top8, Oldschool's winning Nether Void deck from the Mindstage Convention, or Pefken's winning Parfait from n00bcon 4 for some different examples on prison decks). Black Vise stays restricted.
Going bigger.
Recall might not look like much for the modern mages. Five mana and discard two cards to pick up two from the graveyard doesn't seem to warrant a restriction these days. Well, it does in old school. Anyone who has ever cast a Recall for a Fork and a Time Walk, or just something like a Swords to Plowhares and a Mana Drain, can attest to it's power. There are some seriously good spells to pick up in this format, and a long game ensures that Recall often can be cast for seven or even nine mana. Unrestricting Recall would, again, make the power cards much more prominent and work against the spirit of having them restricted in the first place. It would also make the blue decks with a lot of restricted cards better, which they don't really need to be. Recall stays restricted.
"The Jace, the Mind Sculptor of 93/94" -Stephen Menendian
The Book has really stirred some feathers in the last few months. Trying to summarize the argument of why it should be restricted, it goes something like this: Old School Magic is a format were the answers are generally more powerful than the threats. You can't win with just answers though, so trading creatures for creature removal 1-for-1 would eventually put the creature player on top at some point as a creature will stick. But with the Tomes, the control players usually have access to two or three times as many cards as their opponent, while at the same time getting to play cards with better tempo that are more powerful in a vacuum. Many players think that The Deck needs to be taken down a peg or two, and the natural choice would then be to restrict the "glue" that keeps the unfair cards flowing. It can be argued that it would make the game more enjoyable if we cut down on the strongest unrestricted card advantage engine in The Deck.

The arguments against restriction is first that The Deck isn't the "end all be all" deck of the format, and restricting a card that isn't inherently broken by itself to nerf a great, but not really suppressive, strategy is bad policy. It's not like we're looking at The Deck before the restriction of Mana Drain. Second, it might not really make that big a difference; it's still very possible to play the deck with just one Tome and add something like Transmute Artifacts, Jalum Tome or Scepters in it's place. And third, the guys that are successful with The Deck are among the absolute elite in skill level in the format. It's not like any player showing up with The Deck will go top8.

This was a really hard one, and the discussions went back and forth. In the end, it seems better to possibly err on the side of keeping cards legal. I'm sure we'll look at it again next year, and maybe the meta has tipped the scale in the other direction then. Jayemdae Tome stays unrestricted.
Summer is coming.
To quote Brian "Brian Goddamn Weissman!!" Weissman: "With modern functionality the Factories become much stronger defensive weapons, at a modest cost to your mana base. Their ubiquitous presence in the format definitely sounds like they should be restricted." With 32/32 Factories in the n00bcon top8, and 28/32 Factories in the Arvika top8, it's hard to argue that they aren't extremely powerful. If opponent goes turn one Savannah Lions, turn two White Knight, and you go turn one factory, turn two island, you just built yourself a Moat for no mana or card investment. They are uncounterable wincons. The most popular version of The Deck just runs the Factories as their main win condition, and playing "the Mishra lottery" between control decks is usually not a good time.

But, and here's a but for you, people really like to play with the Factories. It's kinda like Brainstorm in the Legacy format; it may seem like an uniformed decision to keep them legal if we are objective about it, but people like playing them and a majority of the players would never want to restrict them. The Factory discussion started with a lot of animosity towards the card, but the longer it went, the more clear it was that most players really wanted to play with the card and didn't feel its power level was a big deal. So in the end we have a case of what might not be the most logical choice in a strictly competitive sense, but what's best for the format in a utilitarian sense. And after all, the answers are there and we could all afford to play a Stone Rain or two. We'll keep a close eye on the Factories the coming year, but for now Mishra's Factory is still unrestricted.
"After I started playing MtG again I can't even fork a GitHub project without tapping two mountains." -Bjørn Einar Bjartnes
Fork is awesome. Lets just say that this was a long discussion as well. Now go out and brew Fork Recursion, BR Trick Decks, Big Red or Erhnam Burn'Em. Let's see if mid-90s Mark Chalice was right and this really breaks the meta. Fork is unrestricted.

The update will take effect in tournaments from May 15, but feel free to try it out already. I'm always happy to get feedback, even if it's just "This sounds ok". There are always a lot of people who don't agree who make their voices heard, and it's always nice to balance with people who might agree ;)

Oh, also go check out Stephen Menendian's awesome article on the history of The Deck, complete with new (!) tech from the original 1994 control master Brian Weissman if you haven't yet. A great read with some very impressive research.