Black Lives Matter.

Throughout the recent, turbulent past, I’ve strived to keep FTS apolitical. That time has ended.

On Thursday, May 25th, 2020, Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck for at least seven minutes. Reports differ, some as many as nine minutes. At this time, there are three different videos of the incident. You can view the videos at your discretion here at CNN. The second video shows four officers involved. Two autopsy reports arrived at different results.

In short, the State of Minnesota, Hennepin County has formally charged former officer Derek Chauvin with both Murder in the Third Degree and Manslaughter in the Second Degree.

Court Case Lookup: Case Number 27-CR-20-12646

At this time, the State has not charged the other three officers.
Edit: Tou Thao has been fired. Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng were also involved.

In less than one week and in the midst of COVID-19, over two hundred and fifty cities have held protests here in the states. New Zealand, Netherlands, Germany, and the UK have joined in solidarity. This article delves into the not-even-close to exhaustive list of events that have lead up to this week.

In less than one week, I’ve watched police officers shoot at unarmed civilians and media journalists, some as close as point-blank. These weapons are labeled as, “non-lethal,” but that is a misnomer. Let us be absolutely clear. A blank can kill. A rubber bullet can kill. A bean bag can kill. A smoke grenade can kill.

Keep this in mind when you view the images below.

My friend sent me this image of Mennonites joining the protest. Please let me know who to credit.

We have a President who is actively stoking the fires [1, 2]. We have officers who surround the home of a killer instead of doing their job and arresting him.

We have police using vehicles to attack civilians [1, 2, 3].
We have police using pepper spray and tear gas to attack civilians [1, 2, 3].
We have police attacking and arresting journalists [1, 2, 3, list of 19?? more].
We have civilians attacking civilians [1, 2], both arrested & charged with swiftness.
The Verge has a list of incidents here.
We have cops taking down the American Flag to replace it with a flag of their own [1].
We have concerns of agent provocateurs [1, 2, 3].
We have concerns of cop agent provocateurs [1, 2].
We have looting [1].
We even have police using tear gas on themselves… [1]
We have community members cleaning up after the riots [1].
We have civilians providing safe refuge for protesters [1].
And we have civilians protecting officers [1].

For comparison…
This is how police handled the COVID-19 protesters one month ago [1].
This is how police handled the riot after the football game [1, 2].

This list is by no means exhaustive.

Source

TL;DR?
Our Police have doubled-down and arrested, attacked, and harmed countless civilians instead of arresting four of their own.

Last updated: June 2nd, 2020.

Lutri

I played a terrible Zirda deck tonight. I’ll summarize: I only won vs the Bye. Lurrus > Zirda. Full stop.

If I was going to play a non-Lurrus deck, I would run this Lutri combo deck. It’s a 60 card singleton with a Lurrus main. Because Lurrus is that good. It also needs a Tendrils maindeck, and probably a Vampiric Tutor.

I did not have time to test a Red Prison / Hate Bear deck. Ash Zealot, Pyroclasm, and Grove/Fire Combo seem well positioned. Four Trinisphere and four Chalice makes Red Prison, and we only get one of each. Yidaro is better poised for Legacy until we get better lock pieces. Maybe a Red/White variant with Thalias can help shore the weaknesses. Good hate in both colors. Mardu gives Bob. Jund gives Wrenn. The format will settle down soon enough.

There is an upside to Lurrus. I haven’t lost to Mentor since.

Standstill – UR

Here is where I am currently at:

Version 1, 2020-04-20

I’ve opted to splash Red for 4x Yidaro, Wandering Monster, 3x Lightning Bolt, and Sideboard singletons of Pyroblast and By Force. I’m running more Bolts than Pyroblasts because of Lurrus, even though it weakens my matchups against Oko and other blue Planeswalkers. The card is that good.

I went 3-2, but was overall pleased. Ian’s Storm deck blew through my counterspells, and I couldn’t find a red source to Bolt Lurrus and stabilize. Dredge is a terrible matchup.

Yidaro was consistently less than stellar. Definitely has potential, but not a good fit in this deck. Nimble Obstructionist would have been a better fit, especially for the mirror. Or maindeck Mindbreak Traps.

Chains introduced me to Hall of Heliod’s Generosity. Both Standstill and Shark Typhoon are enchantments. Serenity, Seals, Detention Sphere, Porphyry Nodes, and Ghostly Prison are all enchantments.

I definitely want to test the UW version, but for now, I’m going to remove the Yidaros. Typhoon eliminates the need manlands, and improves the manabase. Running more basics helps the Shops matchup.

Version 2, 2020-04-20

I have no idea what to do about Dredge. Thoughts welcome.

Download Version 1, Version 2

Expensify & Assistance for those on SNAP

From: David Barrett <[redacted]>
Sent: Wednesday, March 18, 2020 12:38 AM
To: [redacted]
Subject: Expensify.org/hunger to reimburse families in need during COVID-19 crisis

These are unprecedented times, and it’s inspiring to see communities rising to the challenge. However, not everyone has the resources to “shelter in place” especially the millions of people in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Living paycheck to paycheck is hard when millions of businesses around the nation are closing down indefinitely, and hourly workers (including those dependent upon tips) are the hardest hit. In particular, families with kids whose primary meals happen at school are especially vulnerable when those schools shut down.

With this in mind, Expensify.org is going to temporarily redirect all of its charitable funds to Expensify.org/hunger. With its ability to reimburse volunteers directly in real-time, Expensify.org is uniquely positioned to help families in need immediately. Until today, this fund was focused on paying off kids’ “lunch debts” , but with schools closed around the nation, that isn’t the top priority. Instead, we’re devoting everything to a new program: matching SNAP grocery purchases up to $50 per family. It works like this:

  1. Purchase food as normal with your SNAP card
  2. Download Expensify on iOS or Android, for free
  3. Join the Expensify.org/hunger policy
  4. SmartScan the receipt, which will tell us how much you paid and show that it was paid for with an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card
  5. Submit it to volunteer@expensify.org
  6. Set up your bank account to receive the funds
  7. So long as we have funds available, we will reimburse up to $50 per family (one time), the very next day.

To be clear, we can’t commit to reimbursing every single person in need — we have no idea how many people will do this, and unfortunately, we don’t have unlimited funds. We also don’t know how long this crisis will last and how far our brand new charity’s resources will stretch. But we’re going to do what we can with the funds donated on behalf of Expensify Cardholders via the Karma Points feature, as well as by the extremely generous donors who have signed up for our Corporate and Personal Karma programs.

This is a truly global crisis, and it is only beginning. We all need to work together to weather the storm, and on behalf of Expensify.org’s many generous members, we’re eager to help.

-david

President of Expensify.org

PS: While you may not personally be on SNAP, please forward this along to anyone based in the US (where the SNAP program operates) you know that may need food assistance — or to any other groups or organizations who might be able to spread the word that help is available. Helping our local communities is what Expensify.org is all about!

Sent by: Expensify, Inc. – 548 Market St #61434 – San Francisco, CA 94103

UG Uro

I think I’m finally happy with UG Uro and the sideboard in Vintage.

(Download the decklist)

Matchups:
Workshop Aggro (Ravager, Traxos)
+2 True-Name Nemesis, +2 Force of Vigor, +2 Tabernacle, +2 Ooze, -4 Preordain, -1 Mental Misstep, -1 Narset, -1 Oko, -1 Sylvan Library
Counter Spheres & Lodestone. Force of Vigor threats. Allow opponent to lock themselves out once you have Ramunap + Strip/Wasteland. I will gladly keep hands with multiple Wasteland effects.

Workshop Control (Golos Stax)
+2 True-Name Nemesis, +2 Force of Vigor, +2 Surgical, -4 Preordain, -1 Mental Misstep, -1 Narset
Counter Spheres, Crucible, then Golos. As long as you can keep Crucible off the table, you should win.

Workshop Combo (KCI, Blue Steel)
+2 Ooze, +2 Force of Vigor, +2 Spell Pierce, +3 Surgical, +2 Tabernacle, -1 Probe, -1 Mental Misstep, -4 Preordain, -1 Treasure Cruise, -1 Dig Through Time, -2 True-Name Nemesis, -1 Sylvan Library
You need to deal with Scrap Trawler, Sai, and Emry, in addition to the usual suspects. Keep Crucible off the table. If they have Sai, keep KCI off the table.

Storm Variants: Jeskai, Citadel, DPS, Paradox Outcome
+2 Spell Pierce, +2 Flusterstorm, +2 Force of Vigor, -4 Preordain, -1 Ramunap, -1 Oko
Play and protect Ouphe. Wasteland/Strip Mine their White, Black, and Red mana, in that order. Expect Blightsteel in Games 2 and 3.

Bazaar Variants – Dredge, Hollow One/Vengevine
+3 Surgical, +2 True-Name Nemesis, +2 Ooze, +2 Tabernacle, +2 Force of Vigor, -4 Preordain, -4 Ouphe, -2 Oko, -1 Sylvan Library
Mulligan into Surgical for Vengevine. Surgical Targets: Prized Amalgam, Ichorid, Vengevine
Tabernacle wins games.

Creature/Tax Variants (Hate Bears, Eldrazi)
+2 True-Name Nemesis, +2 Ooze, +2 Tabernacle, -4 Preordain, -1 Sylvan Library, -1 Oko (draw) / -1 Narset (play)
Counter Lavinia, Thalia, Sphere, Thorn. Waste their lands. Stick Tabernacle. Ooze to gain life.

UR Control
+2 Fluster, +2 Pierce, +2 True-Name Nemesis, +2 Surgical, -4 Preordain, -1 Oko, -1 Ouphe
Optional: +2 Ooze, -2 Ouphe
Second worst matchup. They have Lightning Bolt, Pyroblast, Dack/Narset, and many, many other good cards.

Breach Combo
+2 Ooze, +3 Surgical Extraction, +2 Flusterstorm, +2 Spell Pierce, -4 Preordain, -2 True-Name Nemesis, -1 Treasure Cruise, -2 Oko
It’s going to be a long game. Keep the graveyard empty of relevant cards. Whoever blinks first loses.

4c Planeswalker/4c Dreadhorde
+2 Spell Pierce, +2 True-Name Nemesis, -1 Ouphe, +3 Surgical, +2 Ooze, -4 Ouphe, -4 Preordain
Surgical Force of Will and Wasteland. Be aggressive.

Doomsday/Inverter Combo
+2 Fluster, +2 Spell Pierce, +3 Surgical, -1 Ramunap, -2 Oko (keep one for Sylvan Library), -1 Sylvan Library, -2 Force of Vigor, -1 Preordain
Wasteland/Strip + Surgical. Ouphe to lock out their mana. You can still lose to Black Land + Ritual -> Doomsday -> Ancestral/Gush, Black Lotus, Thassa’s Oracle, Street Wraith, X.

BUG Variants
+2 Ooze, +2 Tabernacle, +2 True-Name Nemesis, -4 Preordain, -1 Ouphe, -1 Force of Vigor
DRS is the bane of your existence. Don’t be afraid to Surgical your own land in response to DRS so it cannot pay for its own Tabernacle upkeep.
Green Sun Zenith gets DRS. Force of Negation.

Oath
+2 Force of Vigor, +3 Surgical, +2 Fluster, +2 Spell Pierce
-4 Ouphe, -1 True-Name Nemesis, -4 Preordain
This match is a toss up. They have access to Pyroblast, Lightning Bolt, and Veil. Keep an Uro and a TNN in.

Points of interest:
Preordain:
I keep boarding out Preordain. We run twenty-two lands, two Mox, and a Lotus. We also have fifteen card draw spells, and two of our lands draw cards. Preordain is my first cut on the draw. It’s also terribly awkward to bottom two cards with Preordain, only to shuffle them back in with Misty. It’s worth running main. If the format goes heavier to creatures, I could also consider Ice-Fang Coatl and Hexdrinker instead of Preordain.

Basic Lands
I want a fourth basic Island.

Waterlogged Grove
The second copy is a flex spot.
It should not be another basic.
It should tap for both G and U.
It needs to come into play untapped.
It needs to add value with Ramunap.

Non-land considerations:
Brazen Borrower
Eternal Witness (yup)
Fastbond
Green Sun’s Zenith
Living Wish
Search for Azcanta
Tarmogoyf
Trygon Predator (too many CMC3)

I’m sure there are other considerations.

MTGO & Localization

In short, “Localization,” is the term for adding support for different regions and countries to your program. Localization determines when you use a comma and when you use a decimal in currency, and what symbol the currency uses and where it’s located.

Localization is strongly correlated with language and language support. Despite the fact that MTGO is printed in fourteen eleven languages, plus the seven languages for Promo Cards (Arabic, Classic Greek, Hebrew, Latin, Phyrexian, Pig Latin, and Sanskrit), Magic: the Gathering Online lacks support for other languages.

I haven’t tested localization, but I have never seen options for localization in the settings. And, I checked today, February 29th, 2020.

I’m amazed, appalled, and quite frankly disappointed in Wizards of the Coast, Hasbro, and the MTGO Development Team. I’ve certainly voiced my complaints over the years, but this takes the cake.

I’m fortunate enough to be able to use Google Translate, speak English fluently as a primary language, and be familiar with these topics. Vintage has a large Japanese community, and they raised this to my attention.

Besides raising this to Wizards of the Coast, as a need to properly support a global game, in a global economy, for a fucking e-sport, there are things we can do as players to help support our non-English speaking community members.

Thankfully there are a couple simple options we can do.
1. Include decklists as a file (.dek vs .txt to be determined)
2. Use Pile View instead of Card View in the Display when posting screenshots to various media.

I’ll share more as I learn more, but language barrier shouldn’t be an issue in 2020.

Special thanks to Justin “IamActuallyLvL1“, abr, and ZYURYO (links to their Twitters) for raising awareness.