Old vs New vs Alternate/Custom Art


Alternate art can be awesome.

As a longtime Magic player, I have seen the art work on cards grow and change over the years to a degree to where the illustrations on the cards are beyond anything that I would have imagined back in the summer of 1994 when I first discovered Magic the Gathering.

Back then, it was the works of artists like Christopher Rush, Jesper Myfors, Nene Thomas, and my personal favorite of that era being Quinton Hoover that defined the look of the game with their images for each card.

But like all areas of gaming, whether it be video games, table top, or in this case, collectable card games, technology would become a real asset for the medium.

With the leaps and bounds in digital illustration, and the changes in the printing process, the card art today looks so different. In many ways the art today is better than the art of the cards of old. I know that might not sit well with some of the players from my generation, but lets remove the nostalgia factor for a moment, and I am sure that we can agree that the art now is way more aesthetically pleasing in it’s current format.

One really has to look no further than the art work in the Battle for Zendikar set… as the artwork in that set really gives a feeling that not only could the Eldrazi just jump off of the card, but that they could drag you into the Blind Eternities as well.

Artwork on the cards has evolved, and as such, at least to me, has made the game a little more immersive in it’s presentation.

Here are a couple of examples of the old vs new art styles of cards that were in the Alpha set of MTG compared to their Modern Era incarnations.

Hypnotic Specter

Serra Angel

Shivan Dragon

As you can see with the images above, there has been quite the evolution for Magic The Gathering, however, that is only part of the awesome.

Alternate card art is something special, not tournament legal in some cases, but it is amazing and a great conversation piece when it comes to social play.

Such as this beauty here:

serraangel3 This right here is an example of the custom artwork that has become a fun trend amongst the MTG social circles over the last few years. Showing an emphasis on the overall detail, and quality of the art that can be displayed on the cards, these custom pieces feature alternate art that fits the theme of the card but was not drawn/painted by the original artist.

While alternate art is not new to MTG, as it has been featured in previous years and sets, the borderless cards are much newer to the scene than I had thought.

While not entirely legal in tournament play, these are more for the players that enjoy the more laid back social play aspects of the game.


Some of the most famous cards have received this treatment as well, such as the various Planeswalkers, and even cards from the “Power Nine”, I myself happen to have been recently gifted this alternate art Sliver Queen for an EDH deck that I was tinkering with.

These cards are great to use in social play as proxies for cards that you don’t want to physically use in order to keep their value up, but remember, they are not legal in sanctioned play, and should not be used in place of “legal” proxies that are distributed by the judge at a tournament.

In the next article, we will get into the use of proxies, and why there has been an explosion of proxies on the internet that are sometimes being peddled as the real thing… stay tuned.



Ban List Swings Like the Pendulum Do…


Combos and win conditions, 2 X 2.. DCI decisions blow with the wind, say good bye to Emrakul the Promised End.

After having a little time to digest the changes that are coming down with the 1 week early release of the DCI banned and restricted list, I am left thinking that this was a bit of an apology and an attempt to try to get back the players that have been lost from FNM lately.

While I do agree with some of the banning decisions, I do have to question not only the timing, but the reasoning behind a couple of the decisions that were made… I will break this down to the 3 cards that I found to be not so much surprising, but to a degree overdue.

Emrakul, the Promised End:

What Wizards/DCI had to say: “Created to be scarily powerful, Emrakul, the Promised End delivered on that promise too well. Emrakul faced too little resistance and ended games too easily. She was the world ending, all-poweful monster she was in the story, which was too much for Standard.”

My take: Emrakul, the Promised End may have been too much for Standard, but are you seriously telling me that banning her in Standard is enough?

All you have done is spared FNM from her wrath, but that will not change the possibilities of Emrakul, the Promised End wreaking havoc on Modern, Legacy, and Vintage formats… considering that she is a 13 drop, that can’t be targeted by instants, and furthermore with the costing 1 generic mana less to cast for each type of card in your grave yard, and the ability to lower her casting further with things like Helm of Awakening, it is actually possible to take her from a 13 drop to all the way down to a 3 drop.

Further, if playing  Green (source for mana speed as well as blending with Aluren), you could possibly get her to the table for free… not quickly per se, but it is possible. This would also extend to stuff like Breaker of Armies, Desolation Twin, and a multitude of other Eldrazi that are currently in Standard.

Smuggler’s Copter:

What Wizards/DCI had to say: “Simply put, Smuggler’s Copter is too efficient and shows up in too many decks, diminishing the format’s diversity. We wasn’t Planeswalkers, sorcery-speed removal, and a variety of vehicles to be viable options, and believe removing Smuggler’s Copter will allow them to flourish again. Of the top archetypes in Standard, very few didn’t play four copies of Smuggler’s Copter, stifling many creative, fun opion. Smuggler’s Copter was the result of a new card type being pushed too far, and, as such, is now banned.”

My take: Yeah, this was a decently reasonable reason to ban the card in Standard, and DCI makes a good case for it, but there is one small problem with what they are saying here… to a degree, they are banning a card based on how popular it is, and not because it is really all that game breaking.

Yeah, it’s a 2 drop, rare, and when it blocks or attacks you may draw a card, then discard a card… While I could see in some decks that this would be game breaking, it is still a vehicle artifact, and it still requires tapping a creature with a power of 1 or more to turn it into an Artifact Creature… so even though it is a 2 drop, it still requires outside factors to even activate that ability… and it would have to be done every turn… so again, mechanics wise, it is not that hard to remove the Smuggler’s Copter from the equation.

This one totally smack of strictly being a ban based on simply how popular the card is, and not how it would reshape a match.

Gitaxian Probe:


What Wizards/DCI had to say; “Gitaxian Probe increased the number of third-turn kill in a few ways, but particularly by giving perfect information (and a card) to decks that often have to make strategic decisions about going “all-in.” This hurt the ability of reactive decks to effectively bluff or for the aggressive deck to miss-sequence their turn. Ultimately, the card did too much for too little cost.”



Now that part is out of my system, there are 2 questions that I have to ask about this banning.

  1. Why did it take so long to come to the conclusion that Gitaxian Probe is rather broken?
  2. Why is it not also banned in Legacy or Vintage?

Part the First… New Phyrexia was released in 2011, and with it the Phyrexian Mana mechanic where you can spend 2 points of life or a single mana of the corresponding colour to cast spells and activate abilities… in some situations that could be a real game shifter such as with the Gitaxian Probe which is a single Blue Phyrexian Mana to look at your opponent’s hand, and then draw a card yourself.

6 years and not a peep/ruling, and now… Ban Hammer.

Part the Second: The important part of this is that it went through Standard, and has been dwelling in the other formats for all these years without a banning. It is still fully legal in Legacy, Block, and Vintage formats… Black is not an issue so much, but do you honestly believe that Gitaxian Probe is not any more broken when it can be combined with the card pool in Legacy or Vintage?

If the point of banning Gitaxian Probe in Modern is because of the number of third-turn kills that it can result in, how in the blue cheese do you suppose it would be any less devastating in the arguably more powerful Legacy and Vintage formats?

The host over there at the Mana Source put out a video right after the announcement, and the point that he made about Probe being banned was not so much about the card itself, but more about the precedent that it had set… that being an active diminishing for control decks.

To be perfectly honest,  I kind of agree, but I also don’t really like the Mana Source too much (based on the sound of the narrator’s voice… makes everything sound like a question and not a statement), but the information is good.

At the time of this writing, the response from Jeremy at MTGHeadquarters has not hit, and I have not seen anything quite yet from Tolarian Community College or Command Zone, but I am sure they will be weighing in on it soon.

Moving into 2017…


​Well… that was a long hiatus, but I have returned with a better focus for the new year.

I am writing this article after having been away for well over a year, as well as coming to the conclusion that Angry Dwarf Studios is no longer going to be a thing.

As I write this blog entry, I am also counting down the remaining days of 2016, and to be honest… it is a year that I would be fine with being rid of.

So, on to better things.

There will be a renewal of the blog “I have lots of double letters in my name” as well as a better focus on doing more with the podcast “This Nerdy Life”.

The thing that I need to emphasize really is what I aim to do with these things… and that is simple.

I am now doing this to amuse myself.

Maybe I will get readers, maybe I won’t…

Maybe I will get subscribers, maybe I won’t…

The fact is that I am really happy with my career away from the social media/pop culture world, so it is back to being a proper hobby as opposed to being something more than that… and for the truth of the matter… it has been a mere hobby that I have neglected for too long.

With that being said… I guess it would be safe to say that I have returned… at least for a while.

Why Some of Us Stay.


For my first article, I wanted to pose a question.

If you are unhappy with the current job that you have, what is your motivation for staying?

My interest in this question was at first to see what the most common answer would be, and then to also address the root of the most common answer that I would receive.

Pretty straight forward experiment I feel. As such, I was all for giving my two cents for whatever information I would receive.

The premise is really simple as we have all been there at some point in our professional lives. Sometimes we have been there more than once.

It’s not always the best situation to be stuck in. To be honest it is quite frustrating to be trapped in that scenario. The helplessness, the feeling that there is no other option, and that we should be grateful for the job that we have, no matter how bad we feel that we might have it.

Or, the feeling that we have no other option out there because we are not good enough.

That last portion is the worst of all the feelings that we can have, and at times it could even be the source of our own undoing when in a job… not a career, just a job.

Some of the answers that I received were very interesting.

“Unhappy with my current job…..maybe. But the motivation for staying is a simple one. Not only is the money enough to cover my bills every month and put food on our table; but driving is something I love to do. Mind you it is not the job that I am unhappy with, it is the people and the politics.”
– Roy, Driver

“I stay where I am in the hopes that things will get better.”
– Michelle, Server

“I can’t find anything else that I am qualified for, and I can’t afford to go back to school to get something better.”
– Jeff, Warehouse Loader

“For me it’s because I don’t like change and hate losing seniority”
– Clarissa, Certified Nursing Assistant

“I stayed at my previous job merely to keep making car payments. Eventually the daily mental argument of whether blowing my brains out was better than that job made me realize I just needed to leave.”
-Anonymous, Call Center

“Some people are “stuck”. They have been in the position for a long time, but have no degree…they can’t go anywhere else for the same amount of pay, or more, for that matter, because they are lacking that ” X thousand dollar piece of paper”, but in all actuality, can run circles around anyone with a degree because of their experience”
– Tammy, Management

“I love my job but I have been stuck at [Redacted] for five years out of fear of starting over.”
– Lita, Hair Dresser

The results above are for the most part, right in step with the rest that I received. It seems that the biggest things holding people in position that they were not the most happy with (in some cases to put it lightly) was that many companies seem to not regard experience in place of a degree as a selling point for someone that is looking for work.

I will save that rant for a later time, but I wanted to focus on the overall point that was made with many of the responses. And that was quite simply…

People will stay with a company out of habit.

Whither the reason that employee’s give is that they don’t want to start over, or that they don’t feel like there is something else out there for them, or that they just can’t make it somewhere else… while all being valid excuses, they are at the end of the day, excuses disguised as reasons.

At the end of the day, it is something like this that will decide if it is a job, or a career.

Now while my career path has not been typical, it is the outgoing nature of how I present myself and information that has led me to constantly “falling up” the ladder when it comes to my employment. I spend time networking with people that are in my field, I try to open doors, and make it so that if in the worst case scenario, I would have a possible way into another company.

It is through the relationships that I have forged with colleagues in my field that has allowed me to work for the company that I do now, and the awesome part about it, is that while I knew someone that worked for the company, it was my personality, and experience that I was able to get the job.

I write this as someone that has been both a “company guy” and an entrepreneur, and the thing that has helped me is the ability to embrace the idea that I am a creature of habit, and I will actively try to make improvement of my position, and work place as a healthy habit.

On the other hand, not everyone makes these same decisions, but it is something that separates the “job oriented” and the “career minded”.

We all know that one person in the office, that complains constantly about things going on in the business, tells us how they would do it better, and then when the time comes for them to make a suggestion, or when they have the floor in a meeting. They completely buckle, and say nothing.

Again, I am not that guy. In fact, I was once banned from internal focus groups, because I was known for not holding back my concerns, and had the reputation of making the presenters look severely out of place with the questions I would ask, and the solutions that I would propose.

I had the thought process of stepping up and voicing concerns when I had them as there was no other way to fix the problem if there was one.

In it’s own way, it seems that feeling valued and the strength of communication have been the two things that have shaped how I feel about my career. I admit that I am pretty darn lucky, To me that is why I so thrilled with what I am doing with my professional life now.

Which leads me back to my question, and conclusion… it comes all down to this.

There are two kinds of employees that are within their company…

Those that are trapped in their job out of fear of the unknown, and those that look to the challenges in front of them in their career, and will do everything that they can to make things better.

I suppose the only question left is, which one are you?

That Extra Something.


I had asked via social media a very straight forward question. “Are you able to take pride in what you do for a living? If yes, or no… Tell me why.”

Like in my previous article (where I asked if you were unhappy with your job, why did you stay there?), I felt that I had to ask about pride in your job.

Here were some of the responses:

“Yes. I provide a service that no one wants to do, but everyone needs. We are unsung heroes. I provide for my family, am self-reliant, and me and mine want for nothing. I don’t do what I do for the fame. I do it because without me, the world would be screwed under their own filth.”
– Clarence, Commercial Driver

“I love to make soy candles I love what I do and it helps to get rid of my stress.”
– Lois, Small Business Owner

“Yes. I keep 3 children healthy and happy. I budget, meal-plan, penny-pinch, and make sacrifices so we can all live a quality of life that otherwise wouldn’t be possible on our current income. And I’m damn good at it.”
– Rosemary, Homemaker

“Yes. I believe helping people find their way to God and his will for them is a blast.”
– Kurtis, Pastor

All of the above were great answers.

There was something that I noticed about the answers that were given, as every answer that I received were all along the same lines. As every responder was

When I was a kid, it was instilled in me that if you could not be proud of what it is that you do for a living, you don’t really have a reason to continue devoting time to it. That if you are not able to look at yourself in the mirror at the end of the day, and feel good about what you do, it is time to call it quits.

It is with that thought process that I have left companies that I had worked for. Whether it was for reasons pertaining to ethics, safety, or business practices, I drew a line in the sand and refused to stay with said companies.

On the other hand, I am very proud of the company that I currently work for. So I can say that I have experienced both sides of the coin.

The ability to take pride in where you work, or what you do for a living, is not just something limited to business owners or people that work in fields that carry a certain prestige to them. While I have friends that are in the military, police officers, fire fighters, and paramedics… I have friends that work as drivers, custodians, and clergy that take just as much pride in what they do.

For many years in this country, it was the concept that Americans have come to a point where we not only look down on certain occupations, but we refuse to work certain occupations as they are beneath us as a whole.

While there are many occupations that fall under this umbrella, there are some things that I learned recently that kind of blew my mind.

Recently there was a study done that evaluated the percentages of American citizens vs Non-citizen immigrant workers in the realms of Taxi drivers, house keepers, landscape workers and the like. The aim of the study was for the most part, to see if those fields of work were truly worked by Americans or not.

The United States Census Bureau looked at around 400 occupations in the United States, and came up with some very interesting facts.

51% of Housekeepers
58% Taxi Drivers
63% Butchers
64% Landscapers/Groundskeepers
66% Construction Workers
72% Porters, Bellhops,Concierge
73% Janitors/Custodians.

All American Citizens, showing that these are positions that are not entirely “immigrant” positions. They are in many cases, lower skill, or without needing vast education, but at the same time, have their own kinds of education. Meaning that there is still some kind of special training in order to do them.

Butcher’s for example need to be taught how to do what they do, and they also have their own union in many cases. You can also take classes in this trade at many community colleges. After all, it is an occupation that has been around for well over a thousand years.

Now, I know what you are thinking. “What does that have to do with taking pride in what you do?”

It’s simple. Pride in one’s work, is still the driving force in staying with your occupation, and that skilled trades such as butcher, landscaper, welder, etc. as well as the “low skill” jobs such as housekeeping, taxi driver, farm hand, while looked down on in some circles… require a certain amount of dedication and as a result, pride in those occupations.

We need to take pride in what we do to do it well. To make sure that things are not only done right, but also done to the high standards that are sometimes required by those on the outside looking in.

It takes me back to what I was saying before with what I was raised with, “If you don’t have pride in your work, you don’t have any business doing it.”

Again, the responses that I got were overwhelmingly positive. Some of the responses came from those that had responded to my previous article asking about why do they stay with their current line of work… and to their credit, they responded positively to that question as well.

At the end of the day, I guess what it all boils down to, is really just a couple of factors that we can all agree on.

When you can feel good about what it is that you are doing, you will be able to put that extra effort into it. You will go above and beyond to ensure that not only are you doing your job right, but that you stand head and shoulders above anyone else that does the same job.

Be the hardest working person that you know, and you will have success following you no matter what it is that you do.

And that is something that I can take pride in.