breaking radio silence

Last night, at approximately 1:30 A.M., someone was vacuuming nearby. Not just any kind of vacuuming - it was the vacuum equivalent of loud, passionate sex, modulating pitch then holding it still at erratic intervals. I also heard a car door being shut at various intervals, so I don't know what that's about.

There's been a lot of disgruntled commenting about how the new Magic card front design is so much worse than the old design. I maintain that if you're going to complain about design changes, Magic cards have sucked ever since they changed "Summon Creature Type" to "Creature - Creature Type." Which, for the record, was back in Urza's Destiny.

But I don't hate the new front design - and if anyone gets to complain about the new Magic cards, it's the old-school guy who's been playing since Ice Age. So I think it's time to objectively compare the two in various categories and find out who wins overall.

Overall Layout
The new layout is the winner here. The only major change was adding bars to put the name/mana cost and type/expansion symbol on, as well as putting the power/toughness in a more noticeable box - but that's kind of a big improvement, design-wise. What it does is unify the card so that instead of appearing like two separate boxes - art and text - it scans to the eye as one large block of content. I'll give new 1.5 points for that.

Again, this is one of the reasons why the new layout is cleaner. The new title font is black and bold, making it easier to read. There were also a couple of problems with the old title font - the capital "F" looked like a lowercase "f," and the white cards ended up with basically white text on a white background, making them very hard to read at a distance. This is just a minor thing, but new gets .5 points, for 2 so far.

Tap Symbol
You have to look closely to notice it, but they didn't change the symbol itself. They changed the colors. I kind of like the sepia shade they use on the new generic symbol backgrounds, but there was also a nice feel to the black-and-white symbol. The new symbol sticks out less on the card, but I think it's a tie.

They've changed the text box color on lands a lot. It started out with the dual lands' funky striping, and has been through various shades of purple, green, and blue-green before they settled on gold for the colorless lands and split-colored for the dual lands. I like the new lands' gray text-box background more than the Weatherlight-to-Scourge gold one (Ice Age-era purple is my favorite), and I think it's kind of a tie in terms of card backgrounds - the old one is nice and clean, but the new one feels a bit more landy. Overall tie!

Probably the most controversial change was making artifacts gray. Cause, you know, they're colorless and all, and "gray" is usually the first thing that comes to mind when you think of "colorless." I really think that brown expressed "artifact" better, but I've also enjoyed playing with my gray artifacts, and the new ones have nice background detailing that the original lacked. Also, the old artifacts had some weird pastel mosaic thing going on in the text box, which means it's another tie.

The old gold cards were rich and lavish, from the wavy gold-brown background to the fancy purple text box. It really felt like you were casting something special, like mixing the colors together gave you the privilege of playing with these elite spells. The new gold doesn't even come close to that. 1 point for the old!

The backgrounds are pretty much the same overall - old is a little more understated, but new is a bit peppier. The new text box is just gray, though, and the old one was probably the best of the original text boxes, looking like it was burned there by unholy magic. For that marginal victory, I award old a half-point, putting at 1.5 to 2.

The new blue background just looks watered-down. The old one was probably the best background among the originals. The new blue text box isn't that impressive either. Old gets a point!

I'm kind of ambivalent as to the differences in the text box but I like the old background better. I don't like the pastelization they did to a lot of the backgrounds. Old gets another point, leaving things at 3.5 to 2.

They had a perfectly nice design that just screamed "Red! Stone!" It was nice and clean, but they felt (rightly so) that red was more famous for fire than rock. So they made the new background a sort of washed-out lava thing. Now red looks kind of orangeish-pink. I know what they were trying to do here, so I'll only give old a half-point.

New White wins on a lot of different levels. Look at Old White! Look closely. What do you see? Lace. Lace and sand. I'm not a huge fan of white, but I think it deserves better than to be classed as an old Victorian lady who hangs out on the beach in her frilly undergarments. The new cards are a nice clean white with a subtle marbelization effect. That's honestly a lot better. Combine that with the fact that the white cards have WHITE TEXT ON A WHITE BACKGROUND, FOR GOD'S SAKE and you come up with a severe trouncing. 1.5 points for new!

I don't actually know at what point they started making the foil cards look good but they definitely sucked from Urza's Legacy (when they were introduced) through Invasion block, so I'll give the more recent cards a quarter-point for making the foils actually be something I might want to play with.

In Conclusion
Old cards beat out new cards, but only barely - it's 4 to 3.75, and I could easily tweak it up to a tie if I got really picky in my analysis. You probably disagree with me, but I've been thinking about this a lot (not that much, though) and I think this is a pretty objective estimate.

Although I am maybe a little overenthusiastic for gold cards.



Nothing particularly eventful occurred in London, at least, nothing seems to come to mind at the moment.

It's worth noting that I managed to get Magic cards in every country I visited.

Pictures should appear soon.

I was present at midnight for the release of Harry Potter and I read it all on the day-long plane rides back home. I must say, J.K. Rowling needs a better editor, since the book could have been significantly better if it wasn't a great beginning and ending wrapped around approximately 400 pages of dull exposition and uninteresting goings-on at school. Basically, the book is like an Oreo with really boring filling.

p.s. Snape kills Dumbledore! Spoilers!


europe, part iii

Here now in Paris, the city with one of the best subway systems in the world. Walking for me is not so good since I bruised my foot (or something), but it's getting better and I'm not limping around all House-like anymore.

I have the uncanny knack for finding Magic cards wherever I go - I found a game store in Padua, and here in Paris I found a store that sold expensive imported action figures, comic books in English, and various trading cards. I bought the "Spiritcraft" deck - in French, of course - and have been beating Mitch down with it ever since.

Yesterday I went to Disneyland Paris, where I had a lot of fun and paid a lot of money. At Frontierland, I got a toy pistol that should be a challenge to smuggle past security. Adventureland has a nice Jules Verne theme, with the Nautilus, a random zeppelin, and Space Mountain envisioned from the outside as the cannon from Journey to the Moon.

Probably the most interesting thing in Paris so far occurred in the laundromat, while we were all waiting for our clothes to dry. This random group of women wandering the streets decided to come inside and their apparent leader, a woman made up with freckles, blonde pigtails, and wearing a lab coat with a sign pinned on the back starts speaking to Lindsey in French and gesturing with a small pair of scissors. After it was determined that we don't really speak French, she began to explain things in English: they were all part of a bachelorette party (or something to that extent) on a scavenger hunt and they needed two tags off men's pants. Me and Mitch, being apparently the only suitable males in the neighborhood, were happy to oblige. The tags of our pants were ceremoniously snipped of the back rear and photographic evidence of this was collected. The lead woman (presumably the bride-to-be) was grateful enough to kiss us both on the cheeks, leaving a picturesque lipstick mark.

Overall, it was the most memorable and interesting thing on the trip.


europe, part ii

I'm now in the French Riveira trying to adapt to yet another European keyboard system. Despite the best efforts of the chaperones on the trip, many of us are having fun. The chaperones have the tendency to get us lost and make us walk around too much, as well as not knowing when things are closed. They also only give us time to shop when the shops are on the siesta. Goddamn continentals are too lazy and they have crappy breakfasts. I can't wait to get to Britain where no doubt they do things properly.

My arm is peeling. I got a cute bag in Rome. I hqd fabulous hot chocolate in Florence. Venice is pretty but very touristy. Lisa got stung by a scorpion in Italy and had to get five shots.

It looks like there won't be much to do for the next few days other than swim and teach cute Korean girls to play Magic.