The Butterfly Pisco Sour

Posted by Brian David-Marshall | Food

I have been obsessed with Butterfly Pea Flower extract since the first time I had a 1908 Empress Gin cocktail. It is a gin that is infused with Butterfly Pea Flower, imparting it a blueish color that changes when it mix it with various acids. Notably, lemon turns it a stunning shade of pink/purple. I have played around with a variety of gin and tonics and other Empress cocktail variants but recently saw something that opened up a whole new shelf on my bar.

My friend Stevie posted a link to a story about a cocktail made with a Butterfly Pea Flower syrup and I immediately had to track it down. You can find the syrup — as well as a bunch of other bar staples — at It is a little pricey for what amounts to four cocktails worth of syrup and you can certainly forgo it for a regular simple syrup but there is a lovely botanical quality to the syrup that you would be missing out on.

My first thought was to make a pink lemonade martini using vodka but quickly settled on making a vibrantly colored Pisco Sour instead. Pisco is a South American Brandy that I first encountered while covering Grand Prix Santiago in the eponymous Sour that is so prevalent down there. For this drink I used a colorless Pisco since I did not want to mess with the colors that come with just the Pea Flower and Lemon combination. I don’t remember what brand it was — we killed the bottle the other night and the name escapes me.

If you follow any of my drink stuff on Twitter you probably already know that I am obsessed with preserved lemon brine in my cocktails. I just like offsetting the acid and sweetness with a savory note. I have used miso and even fish sauce at times but this has become my go to, especially in any cocktail built around citrus flavors. I just buy it by the jar from Whole Foods. It is salty, ever-so-slightly spicy, and has an almost medicinal lemon aroma — but don’t let that put you off from it. It is not totally necessary for the drink and is definitely not something you see in the classic recipes but I have a real salt tooth and the drink is a little too sweet for me otherwise.

Butterfly Pisco Sour
2 oz Pisco
1 oz Butterfly Pea Flower Syrup
1 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbs Preserved Lemon Brine
3/4 oz egg white

Mix all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker — without adding ice yet — and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Then add a scoop of ice and shake vigorously again for 30 seconds to a minute. Strain into coupe glasses and add a little lemon peel or dried lemon for garnish once the foam from the egg white has settled. If you are adverse to putting egg whites in your cocktails you can omit it OR you could try using aquafaba. I have not tried this yet but multiple people I trust swear by it.


I have been wanting to make these for a while now but my wife is adamantly anti-blondie. No need to waste that baking energy when you could be making chocolate brownies instead has always been her stance.

But I had this idea for a blondie that would replace the normal chocolate chunks with the array of flavors and textures you get in a box of See’s Candies to really create a special holiday baked treat. I reached out to my cookie consultant Amie and she loved the concept but was worried it would be too sweet between the blondie and all that candy.

“Have you considered using white miso paste in your blondie?”


I did a test run about a week ago and was thrilled with the result. My wife was even a convert. The umami of the miso was just the perfect counterpoint to all the sweetness going on with everything else. It was time to make the next batch and add in the See’s.


1 stick unsalted butter
1 cop tightly packed brown sugar
3 tbs. white miso paste
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 beaten egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup chopped See’s Candies
(You can really use anything you want here from nuts to chocolate chunks to dried fruit.)

1 buttered and floured 8 x 8 baking tin

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees

Brown the butter in a sauce pan and when it turns golden brown and smells nutty, remove it from the heat and add the brown sugar, miso and vanilla. Stir to combine and set it aside to come to room temperature. Once it has cooled, add the beaten egg and stir until combined.

Add that to the remining dry ingredients and stir until it all the flour mixture is incorporated. Lightly stir in the See’s Candies.

Pour the mixture into the greased baking tin and put it in the oven for 27 minutes or until the edges look brown and crispy and a toothpick inserted comes out cleanly (try to find a spot without any candy chunks for this).

Let it cool and cut into sixteen 2×2 squares.

Mushroom Mac and Cheese Wellingtons

Posted by Brian David-Marshall | Food, Uncategorized

Sometimes you get an idea stuck in your head and have no idea how it got lodged there in the first place. That happened to me recently when I found myself thinking about “macaroni and cheese wellingtons” and no idea what sparked the thought. I recently made individual beef wellingtons so that does explain how there came to be an extra box of puff pastry in my freezer but still fails to explain the impulse to stuff it with mac and cheese.

So I made them the other day for a Sunday dinner and they turned out to be something I am going to be asked to make again at Thanksgiving — and at random craving intervals as dictated by my aforementioned better half. I leaned heavily into mushrooms to connect them to the idea of the duxelle that is often found in Wellingtons but you can go whatever way you want with the filling.


2 pound of penne pasta (you will have leftover mac and cheese and you will be happy about it.)

3 pounds of your favorite mushrooms (I used cremini and shiitake for this)
2 cloves of garlic
salt and pepper
several sprigs of fresh thyme
Oil for sautéing

1 quart of milk
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup of AP flour
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper

5 or 6 cups of freshly grated cheese (I used emmental and parmesan for mine)

1 package of thawed puff pastry
1 egg
1 tablespoon of water
salt and pepper

How to make it:

Cook the pasta in heavily salted water to a little short of al dente, tougher than you would serve it, since it is going to cook again in the oven later. I would say 5-6 minutes is a good estimate. drain and set aside.

Slice and sautee your mushrooms with some minced garlic and fresh thyme. No matter how much you have in the way of fresh muhrooms it is going to feel like you want more when they are cooked down. You can definitely up the mushroom ratio. Toss with cooked pasta and set aside.

Begin heating one quart of milk over low heat. Do not let it come to a boil. You just want it warmed through so you are not adding cold milk to the roux. In another saucepan melt six ounces of butter over medium heat and add the 1/2 cup of flour. Stir with a wooden spoon. You want the flour to cook in the butter but not brown. When it starts to bubble it is ready for the milk. Throw in the nutmeg and cayenne and then add the milk while whisking. Cook until the mixture has thickened for two to three minutes. Remove from the heat and add the shredded cheese and stir until it melted in. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Butter the sides and bottom of a casserole dish with the remaining butter. Toss the macaroni and murshroom mixture with the cheese sauce and pour that into the baking dish. Refrigerate for at least four hours until the dish has firmed up and you can slice it into bricks. I actually divided my mac and cheese over two baking dishes so I could use one up for the wellingtons and froze the larger remaining one for Thanksgiving (when it may just be converted into Wellingtons again). You want the bricks to be around the size of a thick filet mignon — maybe 3 inches wide, 5 inches long and 2-3 inches thick.

Roll out your thawed puff pastry (you really want to look for one that is just made with butter and not other shortenings. I love Dufour Classic Puff Pastry which is always on hand at Whole Foods and online as well as a couple of other local markets) and slice it into four even sections. On each section diagonally place a brick of the mac and cheese. Brush the edges of the pastty with an egg beaten with one tablespoon of water to act as the glue. Fold up the corners to completley envelop the brick. There should be no gaps for cheesey goodness to escape during cooking.

Place the sealed bricks on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet and brush the exterior with the remaining egg wash. I then added some flaked sea salt and cracked black pepper to the top. Set your oven to 400 degrees and chill the pastries in the refrigerator until it comes to temperature. You want the pastry to be cold and it will have warmed up some in the handling.

Bake for 22 to 25 minutes until gold brown and dry to the touch. I served mine with a fresh arugula salad.

Breakfast Pasta Achieved

Posted by Brian David-Marshall | Food, Uncategorized
Breakfast Pasta Achieved!

A couple of days ago I found myself in the throes of an idea. One Sunday later I managed to extricate myself through brunchery.


1 package of orzo pasta
4 oz of diced pancetta
1/2 large sweet onion diced
1 1/4 quart chicken stock
3 or 4 Calabrian chiles minced
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
large handful of Italian parsley chopped
6 large eggs
4 tbs butter
Panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup pine nuts
More parmesan

Preheat oven to 375

Simmer chicken stock over medium heat (I added parmesan rinds to mine) and reserve warm. In a deep saute pan crisp up the pancetta over medium-high heat. Remove pancetta and reserve on a paper towel lined plate. Add diced onion to pancetta fat, (don’t forget to salt and pepper) and sautee until onion is transcluscent. Add the orzo to pan and toast the pasta, keeping it moving with wooden spoon, until it smells slightly nutty. Begin adding the warm chicken stock in three or four batches, only adding more as the previous broth has been absorbed into the pasta. Continue adding broth until the pasta is slightly slightly chewier than al dente. Remove from heat and stir in butter, pancetta, chiles, parmesan, and parsely.

Butter a casserole dish and add the orzo mixture. Using the bottom of a ladle make six depressions in the orzo and break an egg into each divot. Make sure to salt and pepper each egg. Bake in the over for 15 minutes or until egg white has gotten opaque but the yolks are still runny.

Individual version heading into the oven…

To serve use a large spoon to scoop gently under each egg. You can also make these in indivudual baking dishes. If you do, don’t forget that the dishes will be scaldingly hot when you serve.


I mixed toasted pine nuts and breadcrumbs with some chopped parsely and grated parmesan and topped the perimeter of each egg once it was out of the oven.

I love a chocolate cookie but was frustrated when I could not find a recipe for one that captured the experience of eating good, dark chocolate. It was this frustration that actually spurred my (relatively) recent interest in baking. I tinkered around with several different recipes I found, mixed and matched elements I liked and disliked from each and eventually arrived at Dark Chocolate Rituals which were one of the first recipes I shared on this site. I have made the recipe many times and have occasionally experimented with other versions that, instead of coffee beans, incorporate orange zest and dried cherries. It was good but the flavor profile was too close to my Sunburst cookies. I loved the combination of dark chocolate and cherries but wanted something else to bridge those two flavors.

I have recently started using gochujang — a fruity and spicy, fermented Korean chili paste — in my ever expanding arsenal of flavors. While rummaging through the refrigerator for stuff to empty into a fritter I did a taste spoon to see how it would go with the Mediterranean flavors in my egg dish (the answer was “not so well” but I fortunately had a jar of Calabrian chilies). I could not get the flavor out of my head and began to imagine how it would taste with chocolate and then with cherries. I fooled around with the recipe a little and just prior to Grand Prix Atlanta I had a batch of cookies that exceeded my expectations and is now my favorite chocolate cookie in my repertoire.

Molten Pinnacles


1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Dark Cocoa Powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 teaspoon Kosher salt
5 oz dark chocolate for melting (I used a 76% chocolate for this batch)
5 oz dark chocolate chunks for even more melting
1 stick unsalted butter (grass-fed butter really makes a difference)
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons gochujang chili paste
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup dried unsweetened cherries. I used bing cherries for my recipe.

Time to make the cookies

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Melt 5 oz. of chocolate with one stick of butter in a double boiler or small metal bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Add the gochujang as the mixture melts and becomes smooth (I used an immersion blender to make sure it evenly dispersed through the mixture. Meanwhile add flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl. Whisk together and set aside. You also want to halve your cherries.

Add sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of your mixer and beat until light and fluffy. Add the melted chocolate mixture and combine. With speed turned down to low add the flour mixture in stages until it is all incorporated. Fold in the chopped dried cherries at the end and mix until they are just distributed through the dough.

Scoop the batter onto parchment or Silpat lined baking sheets with a small ice cream scoop. Leave about 2 inches between each cookie. Gently flatten each cookie into a disc. Bake for 15 minutes and transfer cookies to wire rack to cool. While the cookies are cooling you can temper the remaining chocolate to put on top of them. I like to reserve a couple squares of chocolate and put the rest in a glass bowl and melt in the microwave on half power. I go in short bursts until the chocolate is mostly melted. I then stir it until it melted smooth. I add the reserved pieces of chocolate and stir them in as well until melted — this “reminds” the chocolate of what it is supposed to be like when it cools. I then drizzle the chocolate over the cookies in a criss-cross pattern and let them sit until the chocolate has hardened. Then transfer them to an airtight container.

Makes 2 to 3 dozen spicy cookies.

For more than half a decade Gamers Helping Gamers has been living up to its incredibly straightforward name. The non-profit organization was founded by a handful of Magic players who grew up playing games and has been awarding college scholarships to gamers since 2012. President Timothy McKenna has been poring over the recent slew of applications with his board of directors that include Eric Berger (Secretary), Jon Finkel (Treasurer), Chris Pikula, Robert Maher, Jr, Matthew Wang, and Daniel O’Mahoney-Schwartz. Also contributing to the selection process were Scholarship Committee members Worth Wollpert and Jamie Parke.

Past winners of the scholarship include:

2012: Dylan Fay, Douglas Johnson
2013: Isaac Goldstein
2014: Nathan Calvin, Brandi Mason, Kenneth Siry
2015: Lirek Kulik, Dylan Quinn
2016: Faolan Sugarman-Lash, Jacob Schliesman, Oliver Tiu
2017:… Without further ado

August Peterson

Age: 18
Hometown: Minneapolis, Minnesota
College: Grinnell College

You have to give Peterson credit for planning ahead. The Minneapolis based Magic player first became aware of the Gamers Helping Gamers scholarship program when his father read about the organization in the New York Times. Now half a decade after that article appeared he will be attending Grinnell College and hopes to graduate debt free thanks to that very scholarship.

“He had heard me talking about Jon Finkel and saw his name while reading the article and thought I might be interested,” explained Peterson who had already been playing Magic for a year or so after being introduced to it by his friend Connor.

“It really did not take much more than playing one game to get me hooked. After looking through Connor’s binder I already had ideas in my head for what types of decks I wanted to build. I had played chess and other card games before, but the higher complexity level of Magic is what made this game more interesting. There was so much that I didn’t yet understand and that made me want to play more Magic so I could continue to discover more of the interactions of the game,” recalled Peterson of his first encounter with the game.

With college looming, Peterson has taken a more fun approach to the game of late but fully embraced the competitive aspect throughout most of his teenage years. A typical day for him and his two friends, Max and Lewie, involved playtesting Modern or Standard in preparation for an upcoming event. Peterson attended at least one Grand Prix each year for the past three years but has turned his attention to playing a budget deck in Legacy and tuning his Commander deck.

“I considered my greatest accomplishment in Magic to be the Legacy Eggs deck I built and tested for over a year before playing it to a positive finish at an SCG Legacy Open,” said Peterson of his pet Legacy deck that is much more accessible than other decks in the format built around the premium staples in Legacy.

“Beyond being my favorite deck to play, it is very meaningful to me because of how much time I have put into working on it. Combo decks like Storm, High Tide, Eggs, Pros Bloom, Academy, etc. are my favorite. Building a version of Eggs for Legacy was a very fun and rewarding experience. I learned a lot about how these types of decks work in the process.”

The application process for Gamers Helping Gamers includes questions about favorite (and least favorite) cards and the innocuous Chromatic Star was Peterson’s choice for that discussion.

“I love cards that do close to nothing on their own, except for giving you a very small advantage. In a deck like Eggs you combine a bunch of these small advantages together into a large advantage that wins you the game. If you have no special interactions Chromatic Star just draws a card, but when you combine it with mechanics like Prowess, Affinity, Delve, and Delirium you get more out of it than just one card. The advantages gained from these synergies are small, but they add up over the course of the game.”

For least favorite card Peterson wrote about Banisher Priest and how the templating for the card does not allow for cool timing tricks like you can get under the old templating of similar cards like Fiend Hunter. Back in the old days of Magic you could respond to the enter the battlefield trigger of exiling a creature by sacrificing or bouncing the Fiend Hunter which would trigger the leaves the battlefield clause. Since no creature had been exiled yet that part would fizzle and then the enters the battlefield trigger would happen and the targeted creature would be exiled, never to return.

“I believe that the Fiend Hunter loophole is good for Magic. It rewards players for ingenuity and understanding of the rules. When a new player encounters this loophole and loses a game to it, there is an opportunity for discovery. This learning experience never happens with Banisher Priest,” griped Peterson (and frankly I can’t blame him!)

“It is an enormous help in making college affordable for me. I knew that paying for college would be a challenge and I am incredibly grateful for the help I am receiving from Gamers Helping Gamers. The scholarship means that I should be able to graduate without debt, greatly lessening the burden on me and my family. It is an honor to be selected to receive this scholarship by people I so greatly respect. Magic has meant a lot to me for the past six years or so and I have spent a lot of time and energy thinking about the game. To have some of the best minds from Magic consider my ideas worthy of a scholarship is very meaningful for me.”

While Peterson is much more likely to be playing his Karador deck in a weekly Commander game than chasing down PPTQs he stays on top of the game and closely follows the competitive scene — and is always ready to watch GHG’s Jon Finkel stream some Storm action.

“Beyond being a legendary player, and a very good person, I admire him for his dedication to Storm in Modern. I too am a Storm player and I will pause videos of him playing the deck and ask myself what play I would make so I can compare it to his play,” said the avid consumer of streamed Magic content. “I also follow LSV, Conley Woods, Caleb Durward, Andrew Cuneo, Joel Larsson, and Andrea Mengucci.”

A couple of other players Peterson singled out were Sam Black and Frank Karsten.

“Building decks is my favorite part of Magic and one way I improve my skills is by watching how he builds decks. One thing that brought me into playing more competitive Magic was watching his deck The Aristocrats win Pro Tour Gatecrash in the hands of Tom Martell. I have gone back to watch that match at least five times,” said Peterson of Magic’s mad genius Sam Black.

As Peterson embarks on his college years he is already thinking about how he can make an impact on the world — and how there might be something we can take from metagaming and apply towards politics.

“The last thing I wrote about was my belief that our approach to solving problems in politics should be more like how the Magic community approaches a new Standard format. Players work together and test their ideas, recognizing other’s successes and their own failures. At the end of the season there is a general consensus on what the best deck was. There is no such recognition of success of others and failure of self in American Politics. There is generally no consensus, just ideology.”

Autumn Cook

Age: 18
Hometown: Rockville, Maryland
College: University of Maryland Baltimore County

Autumn Cook has been playing Magic for more than half her life after being introduced to it by her older brother when she was 8 years old. It all started with a stack of cards he brought home from a friend’s house.

“I thought the art on the cards was awesome and having played a few other card games very casually, I forced him to teach me to play. I was in love pretty much instantly, and continued to play even after my brother stopped,” recalled Cook who assured readers of the truism that nobody truly quits the game; even her brother. “He recently restarted again, and is having a blast.”

As she entered her teens she found her lane in Magic. Cook had begun attending tournaments on the Star City Open Series and realized she was not having as much fun as she expected playing in large tournaments.

“I realized that maybe that playing in large competitive tournaments probably wasn’t for me. However, I noticed another group of people that seemed to be absolutely loving the events they went to, and that group of people were the judges. I certified as Level One less than a year later at 14. I continued to work large events and leveled up to level two a little less than a year later at Grand Prix Baltimore 2014,” said Cook of the path that led her to judging. “The judging community is amazing, and it is one of the main reasons why I keep playing Magic and judging tournaments. They are family, and I love them.”

Watching coverage of Jon Finkel playing at a Pro Tour and the Judge community combined to inspire Cook to apply for the scholarship.

“I think I learned about GHG by following Magic coverage. Every time Jon was on camera the commentators mentioned GHG and the rest was history. People in the judge program also encouraged me to apply for the scholarship. Word of mouth is a really powerful tool!”

Her favorite card mechanic no doubt warmed Jon Finkel’s blue heart.

“My favorite Magic mechanic is the concept of drawing cards. In my opinion there isn’t another mechanic in Magic that has the ability to completely change the course of the game. The one top deck Cruel Ultimatum can completely swing the game in Gabriel Nassif’s favor, or induce the amount of emotion that comes attributed with Craig Jones’ Lightning Helix or the miracle Bonfire of the Damned against Brian Kibler’s team. This variance is what keeps the game fresh and lively, and it is what makes every game of Magic different. I talked the concepts of cantrips and how the addition of drawing cards makes a card inherently better.”

For Cook even the physical act of card-drawing offers some insight into the various personalities that make up Magic’s tapestry.

“I also believe that the way players draw a card — from a sideways deck straight to the hand, or the slow-roll drag across the table, or the “pure” way that Reid Duke draws his cards — can represent the diversity in the game. People can do even the most simple and arguably most integral part of a game of Magic so differently, even though we are all playing the same game, and performing the same game action.”

Fittingly for a Magic judge an obscure but now obsolete rules fix was singled out by Cook for least-beloved mechanic.

“I wrote about an ability called Substance. People probably don’t even know what this ability does, because it is one of the only abilities in the game to never have shown up on a card. Substance was an ability that was created to solve a problem that the 6th edition rules change caused regarding the cleanup step and how some cards functioned during the cleanup step. I’ll spare you the lengthy explanation on how it actually works, but it was pretty funky. Substance was eradicated from the oracle text of the 12 Magic cards it was on following the Magic 2010 Core Set Rules Changes. I dislike Substance because while it was a fix that worked and fixed the problem, Substance as a whole was unnecessarily confusing and complex — None of the 12 cards that had Substance actually saw play.”

“I am incredibly competitive,” said Cook who still tries to find time to play her favorite Magic format. “My absolute favorite is Legacy where my main deck is Enchantress — a couple of different builds, but I am currently running Bant-chantress. I love the deck so much that I have foiled/white bordered the majority of the deck. Even though I’m super competitive, I still play bad decks — I did get a Top 16 in a recent SCG Legacy Classic though!”

When asked about which Magic players or personalities she admires Cook rattled off a list of judges that she works with including Eric Dustin Brown, Brogan King, Liz Richardson, Nicholas Sabin, and Riki Hayashi.

“My absolute favorite streamers and Magic personalities are Emma Handy (@em_teegee) and Jadine Klomparens (@thequietfish). I am a mod in Emma’s channel, and try to tune into every stream that I possibly can. She is an amazing person and an amazing pillar in the community.”

Applicants were asked to talk about how the experience of Magic could be applied in a broader way to “real life” and Cook chose a topic most Magic players know all too well — the concept of “tilt”.

“Bad things happen to good people in real life, just as terrible draws happen to amazing players in Magic. But I believe that it is important to learn from your previous mistakes and to carry on. If someone allows themselves to be tilted by things that don’t go their way, they will never continue to grow and mature. Competitive Magic players have to learn how to deal with tilt in a tournament environment. I believe that that same lesson can be applied to literally every aspect of “real life.””

With real life beckoning for Cook the Gamers Helping Gamers scholarship has Cook looking past her immediate college experience.

“This scholarship is going to help me continue on to graduate school. My intended major is Chemistry, and I hope to go on to earn a MD/Ph.D after I graduate from UMBC. This scholarship will help me achieve those goals. But this scholarship is a lot more than money. This organization is a huge deal within the Magic the Gathering community and being picked as one of the recipients is a huge, huge honor. I won’t let you guys down. Thank you so much to all of the people who support GHG and to the amazing leadership team at GHG.”

You can expect to see Cook playing over the summer at SCG Richmond and just maybe Grand Prix DC in September but if you see an Enchantress deck going 5-0 in an Legacy League on MTGO there is a good chance it will be Autumn Cook.

If you want to find out more about Gamers Helping Gamers, whether it is to donate, find out information about upcoming application windows, or to find out about upcoming fundraising tournament events just go to their website.

PT HoF Ring

Hall of Fame 2017 Rules Changes

Posted by Paul Jordan | Magic

Wizards of the Coast announced a change in the voting threshold for Hall of Fame inclusion which moves the required percentage of ballots with your name from 40% to 60%. This is a very large leap. Before we dig into this, let’s take a quick review of how Hall of Fame voting has worked historically

  • 2005 – A 69 person selection committee each voted for 5 people. The top 4 players on ballots were inducted. The remaining players were voted on by a players committee, with the top vote-getter there getting elected
  • 2006-2007 – Both committees received the same ballots and voted. Selection committee votes were weighted as 2/3 of the vote vs 1/3 for players’ committee. Top 5 weighted vote-getters were elected
  • 2007-2013 – The same committees existed, but instead of the top 5 getting elected, you needed a 40% weighted threshold.
  • 2014-2016 – There was now only 1 committee, consisting of the 2 former committees merged. You still needed 40%

Now we have the same, singular committee but instead of appearing on 40% of the ballots, you need to appear on 60%. They’re culling the list of available players by increasing eligibility requirements as well as making it harder to stay on the ballot. The stated intent is that votes would be more concentrated. I have my doubts about this logic, but I’ll leave those to Twitter fights. For now, I want to focus on the what-if. What if these rules had been in place all along? What would our Hall of Fame look like now?

First, there are 43 people currently in the Hall of Fame. Of those, the average voting percentage (weighted or not, depending on the year) is 59.19%. So, the average Hall of Famer would fall juuuuuust short of getting into the Hall of Fame under the new system. Of the 43 players, 23 would not be in the Hall of Fame. Or, at least, not from the same class.

So, of those 23, how many have continued to put up results? Just because they didn’t get in one year, doesn’t mean they couldn’t get in the next year, right? By getting enough under the old rules to be inducted, they surely have enough under the new rules to stay on the ballot.

7 of those 23 have continued to cast spells and come up with another PT top 8. 2 of them even got 2 more top 8s!

  • Raphael Levy (elected in 2006, top 8 Yokohama 2007)
  • Tsuyoshi Fujita (elected in 2007, top 8 Nagoya 2011)
  • Nicolai Herzog (elected in 2007, top 8 Kuala Lumpur 2008)
  • Jelger Wiegersma (2) (elected in 2008, top 8 Fate Reforged 2015 and Dark Ascension 2012)
  • Brian Kibler (2) (elected in 2010, top 8 Dark Ascension 2012 and Amsterdam 2010)
  • Patrick Chapin (elected in 2012, top 8 Journey into Nyx 2014)
  • William Jensen (elected in 2013, top 8 Magic 2015 in 2014)

These players very possibly would have been elected in future years even under the new rules. Of course, they got these additional accopmlishments with the added benefit of being qualified for every PT as a result of their HOF status, but they frequently had other qualifying methods and even still made the most of it. I’m comfortable here.

The other players, however, very likely would still not be in the Hall of Fame. Maybe coming so close and missing out would have pushed them. Maybe they would have quit all together. I don’t know. But based on their existing results after inclusion, I don’t think they would have made the jump to 60%

  • Tommi Hovi – 52.17% in 2005
  • Alan Comer – 46.38% in 2005
  • Olle Rade – 29.20% in 2005
  • David Humphries – 56.78% in 2006
  • Gary Wise – 39.03% in 2006
  • Robert Dougherty – 38.20% 2006
  • Randy Buehler – 35.58% in 2006
  • Dirk Baberowski – 52.36% in 2008
  • Michael Turian – 50.13% in 2008
  • Oliver Ruel – 46.01% in 2008
  • Ben Rubin – 45.62% in 2008
  • Frank Karsten – 44.79% in 2009
  • Tomoharu Saito* – 47.74% in 2010
  • Bram Snepvangers – 40.03% in 2010
  • Steve O’Mahoney-Schwartz – 50.57% in 2011
  • Ben Stark – 58.96% in 2013
  • Willy Edel – 47.60% in 2015

*reminder – Saito was subsequently banned and did not get included in the Hall of Fame

All of this is, of course, revisionist history. Perhaps if the new rules had been in place from the beginning, voting patterns would have been significantly different. After all, the voting body is made up primarily of folks who game. If there’s 1 truth I’ve learned in my decades playing Magic, it’s that gamers gonna game. You give them a system and they will game it to their advantage.

Glimmer of Genius

Brian Adds Glimmer of Genius

Posted by Fetchland Editor | Magic, Top 8 Magic

The Stink Bomb Podcast

ManaDeprived published a new episode of Top 8 Magic yesterday! Yay!

You would probably already know this if you were subscribed to the Top 8 Magic podcast. If you are not yet subscribed to the Top 8 Magic podcast, stop reading this blog post and fix that situation for yourself here.



Mike and Brian spend the first fifty or so minutes of this podcast on a new-ish deck that they are planning to play at this weekend’s Grand Prix New Jersey. It is a straightforward B/G Aetherworks Marvel deck.

BDM laments the non-flavorful state of present day deck lists. To Brian, “Mardu Vehicles” and “Mardu Ballista” may be descriptive… But they are boring deck names. He names the deck “Stink Bomb” because it is kind of descriptive, but certainly not boring.

Noxious Gearhulk is noxious… Ergo the “stink”; Aetherworks Marvel is the bomb! You know, “bomb”. Put together, they , Stink Bomb.

Glimmer of Genius in Stink Bomb

Stink Bomb is the classic michaelj metagame deck. It is meant to beat particular opponents, and aimed directly at them. Mike maintains that B/G Marvel as a concept is heavily favored against the conventional B/G decks as well as Mardu Vehicles.

The problem? The format isn’t that simple any more.

Brian has been playing the heck out of competitive leagues getting ready for Grand Prix New Jersey, and claims that Temur Tower is the rising It Girl of Standard. Stink Bomb as Mike originally conceived it is not prepared for a format where Temur Tower is potentially The Deck to Beat. It is trivial for Temur Tower to Negate all of our Aetherworks Marvels, while Ulamog rots in our hands; this would result in defeat for our heroes 🙁

Something shocking happens!

Over the course of the first hour, Brian chips away at Mike’s stubbornness. BDM convinces Mike to add blue to fight Temur Tower in sideboarded games. Once Mike is on board with adding blue, Brian adds Glimmer of Genius to the previously two-color shell.

Glimmer of Genius is a clear upgrade to Live Fast in terms of card power. It is an instant, and it can help you push unwanted copies of Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger to the bottom of your deck (so that you don’t, you know, draw it).

The Glimmer of Genius Price

Adding blue for Glimmer of Genius costs you something, as blue is a whole additional color!

Mike pays the price of the third color with a single Botanical Sanctum, plus one Island. You can access the one island with any of twelve different cards, so consequently there are eighteen sources of blue.

Check it out:

This is what happened! Find out how BDM wore down Mike on this week's podcast

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Listen to the full podcast at ManaDeprived.

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Exquisite Archangel

Exquisite Archangel
Sure it costs seven mana, but can Exquisite Archangel serve as a solution to infectious aggression?

It has a hefty casting cost (to go along with that extra set of arms)… but it also packs a powerful (defensive) punch. With an Angel’s Grace-esque reference to [not] losing the game, many players have wondered about a particular Exquisite Archangel ruling…

As usual, the man Magician with the smoothest voice in all of Canada, Chris Lansdell, is ready to let us know what’s what:

Transcript: Exquisite Archangel & Infect

Billy wants to know how Exquisite Archangel interacts with poison counters.

Well Billy… Not so great.

Sure it’ll exile itself and gain you twenty life, but then the game checks again to see if anyone should die. And oh look! You have ten poison counters!

Sorry about that whammy bro 🙁

I’ve been Chris for Fetchland, and as always, I’ll be the Judge!

Check out all of Chris's "I'll Be the Judge!" (and more) at

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Aetherworks Marvel

In case you missed it, on the Top 8 Magic podcast returned… With a windy conversation about Standard, including me trying to convince BDM about a new and different G/W Aetherworks Marvel deck.

BDM: I’ll try your G/W Marvel deck; I’m pessimistic until proven otherwise.

YT: It’s very good against G/B. It’s very good against Mardu Vehicles. You cannot win a game against Rai combo.

BDM: I’ll take my chances.

The presumption being that the Standard format is locked down by only two or three archetypes (in particular the various black-green Winding Constrictor decks and the various Mardu Vehicles decks). Is there a potential solution to breaking out of a three-deck metagame?

In this podcast, I argue that Aetherworks Marvel is a possible solution.

MichaelJ’s G/W Aetherworks Marvel Deck:

G/W Marvel

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This is an update on a deck that Roman Fusco nearly won a PPTQ with, right before Aether Revolt rotated in. The deck’s original thesis was that Descend Upon the Sinful could be a good solution to a format where Emrakul, the Promised End was the most powerful top end card. Even if the opponent takes your turn, he can’t easily prevent you from Descending Upon his Emrakul. At the same time, you get a 4/4 to try to win the game with.

Descend Upon the Sinful is a potential “hit” for the Aetherworks Marvel tap, because you get a pretty big creature out of it. An instant-speed Wrath (coming off the Marvel) allows you to fight against vehicles… Plus the exile clause on the card gives you extra oomph against Scrapheap Scrounger and other graveyard-hungry threats.

Aetherworks Marvel Combo… Out Combo’d?

Even if you accept that a deck like this will be able to operate successfully (and speedily enough) against Golgari and Vehicles… There is the small matter of Saheeli Rai and other U/R-based decks.

If you don’t land your Marvel before they hit either their combo or their own Marvel (depending on which sub-archetype they are) you’re probably in trouble. You’re behind enough against Torrential Gearhulk that it is probably worth the downsides on Stasis Snare [against aggressive opponents] that you would choose it over one of the 1W instant versions.

BDM and I talk about the more main-line Magic stuff as well, plus the transformative influence of Kyle Korver on my Cleveland Cavaliers! This podcast is from about a week ago, but if you missed it, we really hope you check it out on, or here I guess:

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While you’re at it, subscribe to Top 8 Magic on iTunes so you won’t miss it next time 😉