Each Friday afternoon, Still Had All These gets you ready for your Magic weekend by looking back at the past seven days of topdecks, mises, misplays, and whatever deck Travis Woo is brewing this week!

So This Is The New Year, And I Don't Feel Any Different

Over the week of Christmas, the mothership gave us their favorite articles of 2012, and this week, the big sites did the same. TCGPlayer, while not eviscerating my eyes with their terrible site layout, brought back two of my favorite articles from 2012 in Steve Guillerm's fantastic primer on what Magic is and isn't for non-players and Jackie Lee discussing her disqualification from Pro Tour: Return to Ravnica. Start City Games gave us their list of favorite articles from 2012 courtesy of Lauren Lee, and while it's hard to take a list with a Mike Flores article at the top very seriously, there are some gems, including Dan Barrett's killer send-up of every wanna be (like me!) and their Godawful tournament reports. And Patrick Chapin wrote two important pieces on Magic's social system and acceptance.

The Clanking of Crystal, Explosions Off In The Distance

This week is the first week of official Gatecrash previews over at the mothership! While there are unofficial spoilers at a certain wretched hive of scum and villainy, let's talk briefly about the 5 Gatecrash guilds and their mechanics.

  • The Boros Legion - Battalion - Battalion appears on creatures and gives them a bonus for attacking alongside two or more other creatures. Boros Elite is a 1/1 for W that becomes a 3/3 when her and her buddies attack together. Firemane Avenger is a 3/3 flier for 2RW that throws out a Lightning Helix for his Battalion bonus. Boros also interestingly has the only non-land reprint from the original Ravnica block so far in Skyknight Legionnaire.
  • The Gruul Clans - Bloodrush - Bloodrush appears on creatures, functioning similarly to Saviors of Kamigawa's Channel mechanic. By paying a cost and discarding the creature card from your hand, you get a one-shot ability onto an attacking creature. Viashino Shanktail is a 3/1 first striker for 3R that you can pitch for 2R to give an attacker +3/+1 and first strike. Rubblehulk is a 4RG monster whose power and toughness are equal to the number of lands you have in play. You can pitch it for 1RG and give that bonus to an attacker.
  • The Simic Combine - Evolve - Evolve appears on creatures, giving the creature with Evolve a +1/+1 counter when a creature with greater power or toughness than it enters the battlefield under your control. Fathom Mage is a 1/1 for 2GU with Evolve, and whenever a +1/+1 counter gets placed on it, you draw a card. Experiment One is a 1/1 for G with Evolve and the ability to regenerate by removing two +1/=1 counters from it.
  • House Dimir - Cipher - Cipher appears on instants and sorceries and operates a lot like Guildpact's Haunt mechanic. When you play the spell, you can exile it to encode the spell on one of your creatures. Then, when that creatures deals combat damage to a player, the creature's controller can cast a copy of the encoded spell. Hands of Binding is a sorcery for 1U that taps a creature, and keeps that creature tapped for a turn. Once you encode it onto one of your creatures, it's a callback to limited powerhouse Sigil of Sleep. Call of the Nightwing makes a 1/1 blue and black flier for 2UB, and you can encode the spell onto the token.
  • The Orzhov Syndicate - Extort - Extort can appear on any permanent and lets you pay W/B whenever you play a spell to drain each opponent for 1 life. Basilica Guards is a 1/4 defender for 2W with extort, and Treasury Thrull is a 4/4 for 4WB with extort that returns an artifact, enchantment, or creature to your hand every time it attacks.

With more spoilers to come over the next two weeks, I'll go further in depth later this month.

Let's Make Believe That We Are Wealthy For Just This Once

The money printing machine known as Magic Online kept the train rolling over the past two weeks with the return of Cube drafts. For the holidays, they spiced the Cube up quite a bit, adding Black Lotus, the original [card Mox Ruby]Moxen[/card], Time Walk, Library of Alexandria, Sol Ring, etc. The fully powered Cube led to hundreds upon thousands of "LOL, this play" moments on Twitter, Facebook, and Twitch, and a crisp jingle in the pockets of the Magic Digital team. While it's fun to play with the most powerful cards in the history of the game, the Holiday Cube was woefully imbalanced towards ramp strategies, leaving aggro in the dust as nearly nonviable. While that'll get the pros' blood boiling with excitement over the Cube experience, I can't imagine logging in and drafting white cards only to get demolished by Smokestack and Tangle Wire backed by a half dozen pieces of efficient artifact mana made them feel like Cube was an awesome experience. Hopefully the Cube goes back to Legacy power levels when it returns later this year.

I Wish The World Was Flat Like The Old Days, Then I Could Travel Just By Folding A Map

Here's the big Magic events coming up this weekend!

  • Grand Prix Denver will be live on the mothership's Twitch channel. The format is Legacy. That means there will be Legacy players for the pros to feast on. (This is actually just an excuse to post the one good thing that came from Bill Stark's TheStarkingtonPost.com.) Expect cold temperatures and hot plays, with commentary from Rashad Miller and whichever pros scrub out of day 1.
  • SCG brings the Open Series to Columbus, featuring the usual Stndard on Saturday and Legacy on Sunday. Behind the mics this week are Ari Lax and Adam Prosak, with Glenn Jones handling coverage and booth features. The SCG Live production has come a long way since I criticized it a couple of years ago, although I still don't care about what happened in Round 3's feature match in the break before Round 7. You can catch the broadcast on SCGLive.com or their Twitch channel.

There'd Be No Distance That Could Hold Us Back

This past Sunday, we got what might be a glimpse into the future, as 8 of Magic Online's most popular streamers got together for the Magic Online Streamer Championship. It was an interesting experiment, as every match between the 8 players was streamed, giving viewers unique access into a tournament from the players' perspectives. There were flaws, to be sure - a lack of centralized coverage first and foremost. The site for the MTGOSC doesn't have results or any information on the tournament other than who played in it a full week after its completion. Also, there were some technical glitches with matchmaking. But warts and all, I think the tournament showcased the power of streaming for Magic and should be a launching pad for more events in the future.

So This Is The New Year

Let me know what you think! Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be cleaning up old, dead, decaying links, and every Friday I'll work to bring you a windfall of information. You can catch me on Facebook, Twitter, and Twitch!

James