Hooglandia Open 7 – Historic Ban List Justifications

The next Hooglandia Open Series event will take place on Saturday, October 3rd and it will be a modified Historic format. You can join the event on MTGMelee here.

This event will use the normal Historic card pool and banlist with the following additions:


Justifications for Bannings

Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath – I could write a lot of things about Uro, but I think the most straightforward reasoning for getting rid of this card is that it just does too much for too little. In a healthy metagame, aggressive decks tend to be the natural predator of ramp decks but with Uro, ramp decks can stay alive against aggro fairly easily without having to dedicate many slots to interaction. 

It is my hope that removing Uro from the format will force ramp decks to either become more interactive or cause them to lose more often to aggro. This power level increase to aggro should in turn cause midrange decks to become better as well since they are the natural predator to aggressive strategies.

Muxus, Goblin Grandee – While I think it is generally a good thing when an archetype can do a few different things well, I do not think it is healthy when a deck is capable of fast combo, fair aggro, and late game card advantage. The addition of Muxus to the Goblins archetype means it gets to do all of these things, killing as early as the third turn of the game thanks to Skirk Prospector and Irencrag Feat.

It is my hope that removing Muxus from the format will remove the frequency of low player agency blowouts like Muxus generates on turns 3 and 4, while leaving Goblins still a competitive deck based around the power of Krenko, Mob Boss and three mana haste lords. 

Claim the Firstborn – This will probably be the most contentious banning for this event, but I think it is one that will hopefully be healthy for the format. The Rakdos and Jund Sacrifice decks in the format are interesting and intricate, but I feel their current iterations do too much to oppress other small creature decks. While they have a few other cards that are powerful in the creature match ups, such as Mayhem Devil and Priest of the Forgotten Gods, Claim the Firstborn is the least interactable of all of these and this is the one I am choosing to remove. 

Much like the removal of Uro from ramp, the primary goal of banning Claim is to increase the strength of small creature aggro. Aggro being better should hopefully make midrange strategies more viable as well. 

Overall, I think the key part of all three of these bannings is that while they all weaken top archetypes in Historic, none of them make any deck they were previously in outright unplayable. My hope is that these changes allow people to continue to play established decks they love, while players who are interested in brewing feel more rewarded for doing so.

Social Media, Anxiety and Self Worth

As my job as a streamer on Twitch scaled up to a full time job, it became almost all consuming in every aspect of my life. When I wasn’t streaming I was working on things to get the next stream setup. When I wasn’t doing that I was plugged into social media trying to keep up with the game and what was going on with the people around it.

Every time I sent a tweet or posted on Reddit I would feel a sense of anxiety bubble up inside of me. Would I be praised? Refresh. Would I be vilified? Refresh. Why did they dislike me? Refresh. Did they understand what I said? Refresh. Why didn’t they understand what I said? Refresh.

Many Humans have a natural tendency to focus on the negative in life. This means on a good day when I’d get a dozen positive comments, the one or two hostile ones would sting. I’d remember them longer.

There weren’t just good days though. Have you ever had someone tell you that you are terrible at the thing you spend most of your time doing? How about two people? How about a dozen people? How about fifty people who get up votes and likes from hundreds of other people?

I think many of us, myself included, often forget that there is a person on the other side of our computer. We type things to TopDeckHero420 that we would never dream of saying to someone in real life. It is harder to be empathetic to a faceless username than it is to be to a person standing in front of us. It is easier to write them off as dumb, rude or mean as opposed to misunderstood.

Just as much as I have been on the receiving end of this, I have also been the one who has sent out the hostility on more than one occasion. The social media world is fueled by hot takes and putting people on blast to encourage outrage. Taking a step back and thinking about the impact your words will have often comes second to garnering clicks, likes and upvotes.

For a long time I rationalized to myself that the way social media culture occurred did not impact me. I was tough. I had a thick skin. Blocking, banning, muting and timing out people who wanted to be hostile was “fun”.

It wasn’t fun though. It did impact me. It made me anxious. It made me frustrated. It made me sad. It made me question my self worth. It made me wonder why I spent the time making the things I made.

Some of you may have noticed a couple of months back the tone and types of posts on my Twitter account changed a bit. This was because I gave up direct control of that account to my loving wife who now runs it as a content focused account with the occasional post about our adorable kids. At the end of last year I did something similar with my reddit account, but this time leaving my buddy Mat with the login.

Not only did not spending time on social media make me more productive – it made me happier. While I was missing out on some positive feedback, I also wasn’t being subjected to negativity. It is a change I wish I had made sooner.

In case any of you here find yourself in a similar spot in life just remember –

  • You are great
  • Life is short
  • Social media is optional
  • You are worth more than your number of likes

Sub-Only Chat & Small Schedule Updates

I just wanted to take a few moments to update the folks who follow my content about some changes that will be happening on the stream moving forward. Let’s start with a tl/dr of what is happening:

1.) Sub-Only chat is going to be the new norm in Hooglandia moving forward on Twitch

2.) My weekly schedule is going to change a small bit. My Monday-Friday schedule will now be approximately as follows:

All times are Central Cornfield Time and as always you can find my latest schedule week to week here.

While I have talked about my reasoning for these changes on stream in the last week, I’d like to write a quick summary for why these things are changing for a quick reference.

With regards to Sub-Only chat – this is something I had entertained doing in the past, but had always ended up deciding against. Recently, though, as my community, and Magic as a whole, has been growing it has become harder and harder to keep up with the rate at which my chat is moving. Meaningful questions were being lost in the churn.

This past week we gave Sub-Only chat a test drive on stream and, while my viewer count was down a bit as a result, I feel like the overall quality of my content was better. It felt good not needing to moderate as much and being able to catch almost every single question that was posted in the chat again.

I feel like Sub-Only chat will result in a better overall product for the people who directly support me which makes it a worthwhile change. For people who are watching my content, but not subscribed, remember you can still interact with me after the fact on my videos on YouTube.

With regards to my schedule – as Arena and my stream grew at an absurd rate during January and February of this year I let streaming consume almost every bit of my time. Being live for 50+ hours a week meant I was working close to 80 hours most weeks with all the extra things I do during my offline time to stay organized.

While I love this job and I am incredibly grateful to have it, I need to strike a bit better work-life balance overall. Scaling back my live hours a bit will allow me to do this, while still providing a quality of content I am happy with.

These changes here are not required to be permanent and as I collect more data after making them I might adjust them a small amount.

As always – a huge shout out to all the folks who make this weird thing I do a job for me. My content is sponsored by viewers like you so thanks for keeping me around while I grow as a content producer and person.

Thoughts on Artifact

I would like to start this article by saying as far as core game engines go – I personally kind of like Artifact. As someone with a strong math and technical background, the type of game play Artifact generates feels like it has potential to me.

That being said – the point of this article is talk about about things I do not like about Artifact currently and why I’m not logging in until they get things figured out. I’d encourage you to keep in mind while you read this, that I am writing an opinion piece here. These words are my feelings on these topics and are not facts. If you feel differently, great! This piece here today is about how I feel though.

Game Play: Amazing for Some, Terrible for Many

A random review of Artifact that I read at one point described Artifact as a “10 for the players who like it, and a 2 for everyone else” and I think this description hits the nail on the head pretty firmly.

Playing Artifact feels like taking a competitive math test. You and your opponent sit there and play cards to impact the math equation sitting in the center of the board and then, once you both agree, the math equation resolves. As someone who has taught math at varying levels over the years, I feel like while this is really going to capture a subset of people like me, it alienates a lot of people who really don’t care for math as a subject.

Balance: They are still figuring this out

I certainly didn’t play enough pre-patch to know if things were balanced or not, but based on them rebalancing a number of things I am guessing they weren’t happy with the balance they had. The thing is though – it shouldn’t take 80%+ of your player base leaving to have things change. I know people who were in the closed beta who were giving them feedback on things like Ax and Cheating Death months ago and nothing happened with them aside from Cheating Death moving from a 3 cost to a 5 cost.

Game design is hard. Creating new, complex games like Artifact is hard. That being said – a mass player exodus shouldn’t be what triggers trying to fix things.

Economy: Playing Sub Games to play a game sucks

As someone who once upon a time campaigned for secondary markets in digital TCGs – I am happy to admit when I am wrong – I think they suck. Secondary markets require people to play a finance “sub game” or feel bad about spending extra money they maybe did not have to.

Take me for example – I’ve spent $175 on Artifact over the couple of weeks that I played it working on building new decks. I have most of the staple Blue and Green cards, but I don’t really have much from Red or Black. Right now you can buy a full playset of every card in Artifact for approximately $169.23 according to this site as I write this.

This means for less money than I spent to build a couple of decks, I could now have everything. In essence I feel like I was punished for wanting to play the games of Artifact when I wanted to play them.

I’m not a stranger to TCG finance having played Magic for decades. I know that cards are always going to cost more at release and I understand that I paid a premium to play when I wanted to play. You basically get two choices with a secondary market when cards release:

You pay through the nose to play with the cards when you want to play with them
You wait and don’t actually play the game you want to play till all hype is gone

As much as Hearthstone and MTGA are not perfect systems, it is nice knowing that a Legendary or Mythic card always costs the same, regardless of it is at set release or just after the card was in a Pro Tour winning decklist.

Finally – you top all of this off with the fact that there isn’t an easy and direct way to cash out of Steam wallet money. This makes me feel like we’ve lost the big appeal for having a secondary market. With paper Magic or MTGO when I am done with cards I can give them all to a vendor and get cash right away. With the way Steam works I need to jump through hoops to try and get anything out.

Content: This game makes for terrible background noise

For those who might not be familiar with me – I have been streaming Magic the Gathering full time on Twitch for all of 2018 and streamed various card games part time off and on for the better part of the last 5 years now.

Making Artifact video content is a struggle for a few reasons. The first is that there is just so much going on. Not only because of how many game boards there are, but also because of how many cards player often have in hand. It is very difficult to jump into the middle of a game of Artifact on stream and quickly assess what is going on and who is winning.

This is a big problem because, in my experience, the number of people who are watching card game content on Twitch as their primary activity is a very small number. Many people who watch digital card games on Twitch either have it on at work as their background noise – turning their attention to it when an interesting situation pops up – or are watching a stream while playing a game themselves.

This means from a content creator perspective it is likely going to be hard to have good numbers on Twitch with Artifact – and that is coming from someone who has spent lots of hours streaming MTGO.

Wrapping Up

While I don’t see myself dipping back into Artifact right away, I will likely keep tabs on it as it progresses. When we get details on how to qualify for their big cash events or when their second set drops I’ll probably poke my head back in and see how things look.

At any rate, hope you found this interesting and informative. It is something I had been wanting to write for a bit, but just hadn’t had the time to do.

Happy Holidays folks!

Temporary Donation Queue Slow – Not Active

Status: There is currently no slow. Learn how to submit a deck here.

For people who like to get to the point right away:

Effective Immediately I am putting a hold on adding new decks to the queue for the normal $10/1000 bit donation amount 

You are however still allowed to cheer / donate to boost existing decks in the queue to see them sooner rather than later.

If you really want to add something new to the queue during this slow, I make two exceptions:

  • $30/3000bit+ donations can still add something new to the queue
  • Tier 3 subs still get to add one new deck each month when they renew

The goal of this slow is to allow me to work down the number of the decks in the queue. While I am up front with how the system works, I feel a bit bad that someone has to wait too long if they submit a deck with the base amount of money. When I get the queue back under 40 decks will reopen donations at the $10 amount again.

Many people at this point have asked me why I don’t always increase the base price for getting on the list altogether. The reason I do not want to do this is two fold:

  • In general I want people of all means to be able to get a sweet idea they have on stream at some point. We have found many awesome decks from the base amount donations and I wouldn’t want to miss some of them in the future.
  • Because the queue is public, decks often get funded by multiple people. One person adds a deck for the base amount, but then multiple other people bump it up towards the top sooner. Sometimes a $10 deck turns into a $30 deck by the power of Hooglandia’s community.

At the end of the day this is kind of an absurdly wonderful problem to have. I cannot express how grateful I am for all the support the community has given my content this year. I wish I had more hours in the day to play all your awesome decks as soon as possible.

Coordinating Magic Stream Hosting

I’d like to extend a small offer to any aspiring Magic streamers out there – if you would like I am willing to coordinate hosting your channel at the end of my normal streams. You can find my approximate schedule for a given week here. Find a stream or two where you think you can be live around the time I plan to wrap up and then reach out to me on Twitter here so we can coordinate.

Keep in mind I primarily stream Modern and some Legacy, so the people I host to your channel will be more likely to stick around if you are playing one of those formats.

The Magic community has been absurdly generous to me since I moved into streaming full time in recent months and I want to do my best to use my platform to not only benefit myself, but also the Magic community as a whole.


Thoughts on Hearthstone

I’d put off giving Hearthstone a real try for a long time. There were a few things I kept telling myself to keep myself from dipping my toe into the water of the most popular CCG:

  • Putting money into a CCG is a money pit, instead of an investment like a TCG
  • The game has to lack depth in order to fit onto a phone screen
  • The game has to have a lot of variance due to the word “random” on so many cards

Bickering with people over why the reserved list is bad for Magic / Legacy made me come around to the idea that my first point was kind of silly. The games I am playing for fun are not stocks – I do not need to treat them as such.

Putting some amount of money into something like Hearthstone every month is no different than going to see a movie or any other number of activities I spend money on just for enjoyment. Ultimately while Magic cards having cash value was nice sometimes, there were other times it was annoying when a card I really needed spiked in price or something else tanked in value before I could sell it.

The second point was a mix of what my gut told me had to be true, as well as second hand feedback from others who I knew had played Hearthstone in the past. Because of this going into trying Hearthstone, my expectations were low.

After having logged hundreds of games of Hearthstone in the last couple of weeks, I have to say this second point feels very wrong.

The best way I can describe what I found with playing Hearthstone is with a comparison to chess. It is a game that is extremely easy to understand the basics of, but leaves a lot of room for mastery.

I think the thing I have been enjoying the most about Hearthstone is how interactive the game play is. While Hearthstone does not allow you to play directly on your opponent’s turn like many Magic players are used to thinking of as interaction, the way the combat system is designed leads to many decision trees every game.

For those who are unfamiliar with the combat system – essentially every “minion” can attack other minions directly. This means every minion we play out can effectively be removal. Unlike Magic, the turn order in Hearthstone is fluid. This means you can attack, play cards, attack again, and so on until you have used all of your minions. All of this leads to lots of meaningful choices which I have been enjoying.

I feel this combat system really rewards you for proper “role” identification. Realizing when you are the beat down and when you should be trading your minions to clear the board is really important.

The final point about the game itself containing a lot of high variance cards, also feels like it was off base after playing the game a bunch. While it is true there are far more cards that contain the word “random” on them in Hearthstone than in Magic, many of these cards allow you to make choices to mitigate / reduce the variance associated with these cards.

When you combine the knowledge of being able to mitigate the variance of the random cards, along with the removal of resource variance, the ability to take partial mulligans and I honestly would not be surprised if the current Hearthstone standard format has less variance than most Magic formats.

Past the positive things I have to say about the game play itself, I also have to say the actual Hearthstone client is just A+ software. Blizzard is very good at what they do. Having a fun and interesting card game that plays well on my phone, tablet, and computer is great.

If you have been apprehensive about trying Hearthstone in the past and are looking for something fun to poke at on mobile like I was I’d encourage you to give it a try. Tempo Mage and Odd Rogue are both very powerful standard decks you can build for very minimal cost.

Upping my hours – Spring and Summer Stream Schedule

At the end of February I wrote a short post thanking the community for their support and talking about reinvesting that support into more streams. Time flies when you are 3-2ing Modern leagues with sweet decks so here I am writing another post about stream stuff two months later.

The support has continued to be generous, so today I would like to share that I am reinvesting into more and better content again.

Starting next week I will no longer be double dipping as streamer and nanny at the same time. This means when I am live, 100% of my focus will be able to be on creating the best content I can. For those who love the kids, because let’s face it they are cute, they will still be making cameo appearances on occasion.

I also intend to increase the number of hours I am streaming consistently from the 20~ I had been doing previously to 35 with the following schedule for the Spring / Summer:

As always, this is a rough outline and will change on occasion. For instance I still plan to do occasional “post event” streams on Saturday / Sunday nights here and there when I am home. You can always find my schedule for a given week updated live here.

You’ll also note that in addition to more Magic hours, I’ve added a few hours of Hearthstone to my schedule. I recently started playing Blizzard’s CCG and I’ve been enjoying it a lot. Had some folks asking if I would stream it on occasion so I am adding it into my regular schedule for the Summer to see how it goes.

As always, thanks for the support folks. My subscribers and my sponsors are the reason I am able to do what I do – so thank you for enabling me. See you live soon I am sure!

Stream Rules

Links are enabled. Feel free to share decklists and related things.

Having fun is a main goal of this channel. Any comments that are meant to incite negativity won’t be tolerated.

If you see a play that is wrong / bad – explain why it is wrong / bad. Help me (and the rest of chat) learn why it was a mistake. Don’t just spam !punt and without context.

Generate discussions. For example if you think we should be playing a card in a given deck list don’t just say “Card X is good in this deck.” Say “Card X is likely better than Card Y that you are already playing because it serves Z function”. The first is just stating your opinion. The second provides context to why you feel the way you do.

If you break these rules you will be quickly timed out. Rules are subject to change and are managed at my and my moderator’s discretion.

Think before you type. Read your message back to yourself before you press enter.

MTG Arena looks great, but it isn’t Magic for Me

Since MTG Arena dropped its NDA and allowed people to start streaming it – I have had a lot of people ask me for my thoughts on it and if I plan to stream it. Today I just wanted to write a short note giving my early thoughts on it.

Before I say anything though I’d like to remind everyone of something very important:

As of my writing this Arena is only in a CLOSED BETA I am certain many of the details surrounding the game are subject to change before the final release

That said – let’s dive right in with my hot take on MTG Arena shall we? My sound bite opinion on Arena as it stands is the title of this post:

MTG Arena looks great, but it isn’t Magic for Me

I genuinely mean the first part. The interface on Arena looks really slick. The auto-tapping of lands when playing a spell, while currently a bit rough, is awesome and makes game play really smooth. I also love what they have done with the timers in arena to encourage people to play the game quickly.

The second part of my title is one that might confuse people – after all – Arena has a full Magic rules engine. The thing is though – Magic is more than just a set of rules. Magic to many, myself included, is the formats that we play within those rules.

To say I play a lot of Magic is an understatement. In fact – if you peek at my YouTube channel you’ll find 30+ hours a week of Magic for most of this year (and that is just counting on stream games). What you will not find on that channel though is standard matches of Magic.

In terms of constructed – Standard is all Arena is likely to support moving forward based on what WOTC has told us. This means that while Arena looks great, it is about as useful as Hearthstone to me when it comes to playing a game I am interested in playing. If I can’t play formats like Modern, Legacy, or Pauper on Arena – then Arena will not let me play Magic that I am interested in playing.

At the end of the day – I hope Arena is successful. More people playing Magic is good for the game. Eventually those people will likely get interested in playing all that Magic has to offer.

While Arena does not support sweet non-rotating formats though, it simply will not be Magic for me.