Short Comment on Ryan Hipp

It was recently brought to the attention of myself, Mat, and Brad that in one of the recent paper testing videos one of our guests, Ryan Hipp (not to be confused with the children’s author of the same name), appears to have manipulated the top card of his deck while shuffling. While this was an unsanctioned game / match, this is not behavior we want associated with the content we work hard to produce every week.

While we cannot confirm the intention of the manipulation present in the video, we would like to echo that cheating is wrong and hurts the integrity of the game. I intend to leave the video live on my YouTube channel for reference purposes, but Ryan will not be a returning guest to our weekly stream.

10k Follower Hype & Stream Updates

Apparently while I was not looking my Twitch Channel rolled past the 10,000 follower mark. I never expected my streaming to grow as quickly as it has in terms of followers, subscribers, and viewers. I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has helped me get thus far – the channel would not be anywhere near as awesome as it is without all of you.

The paper Magic streams have really come together in the last month. On screen card overlays, better positioning of the hand cameras, and lightning improvements have all made the product we are producing a very reasonable quality.

The things remaining that still need improvement are going to require more sizable investments on my part, so they will likely be a bit slower to come. Eventually I would like to pick up cameras that have an optical zoom so we can zoom on player’s hands without the low resolution we have now. Better area microphone is also going to happen at some point as well.

At any rate – the paper streams in their current form have been far more popular than my MTGO streams were. Not only do we have more people watching live, but the archives on my YouTube Channel also see far more views than any of the MTGO archives ever did. This alone makes it worth the increased production time the live streams take compared to just firing up a piece of computer software.

Finally I just wanted to comment on something folks have asked about – the lack of a “sub goal” ticker on my stream of the late. Previously I had been doing long streams every time we hit a goal, but I am currently in the middle of 7 straight weeks of weekend travel, so fitting in a 12+ hour stream just is not feasible for me right now. We will for sure have another long stream after my travel season is done and I will post details about that when I have them.

As an alternative bonus for my subscribers I have created a private Discord Chat Server for Hex & Magic conversation 24 / 7. While I am not awake 24 / 7 obviously – this server allows me to prioritize responding to questions from people who help support me directly. While I still try to answer things on Facebook / Twitter as time permits – folks on the Discord server will always have priority.

Quick thought on the new PT Top 8 Structure

On August 2nd Wizards of the Coast announced a change to how the Pro Tour top 8s will be playing out. For reference they will be played out as such:


I think this change is great. Rewarding people for doing well in the swiss, in the top 8 is a good change. The “modified play-draw rule” was a first attempt at this, but it was not quite enough incentive to play out your last round as opposed to drawing.

One thing I have seen said a number of times though that I wanted to refute in this post is the following statement:

“This system does not really stop intentional draws. Anyone who can draw into top 8 as opposed to winning into top 4 or losing into top 16 will still draw”

I do not think this will actually be the case. The reason for this is because of the changed payout structure associated with this top 8 restructure:


Because 7-16 have the same prize money now, this means playing and losing your match for top 4 to end up top 16 is the same prize as drawing into top 8 and then losing in the quarters.

Basically you now get the choice if you want to play for that next position starting in the last round or the first round of single elimination. Some people might still choose to draw, but others will not. This also means people below these matches that 100% would have drawn previously, now have a chance to make it to the elimination rounds. Basically making for more people playing “exciting” matches during the event as a whole.

I love this change as a whole and really hope it trickles down to other magic events in general.

Just my two pence.

Being Critical of Your Play

Today I have some bad news for folks who play TCGs – most of the matches you lose are your own fault. Sure, there are going to be a few matches here and there where you genuinely lose to variance, but if you think these losses are happening more than the ones where you made various mistakes – then you are not being critical enough of your own play.

People often ask me how to improve as a TCG player to get to that “next level” where you are winning more matches than you are losing. Being critical of the decisions you make every game – even the games you are winning – is the best way to do this.

The things that make people who are good at TCGs good are not the games they win where everything is going according to plan. Those games are easy for novices and experts alike. It is the decisions the good players make in the games where things do not go their way that sets them apart.

You make your own luck. Focus on making optimal plays so that when you do draw the right cards, you have put yourself in the best position to win. Regardless of the outcome always look back on your matches to find things you could have done better / differently.

Food for thought.

Failing and Improving

If you are afraid to fail at something you can’t try to do great things.

Tonight during our second paper magic stream we failed at a few things. First and foremost – we failed at brewing in the new standard format. All three of our new decks were midrange decks that all failed to beat the existing midrange king: Bant Humans.

We also feel a bit short in getting our setup improved. We tried a new positioning for the hand cameras that I think ended up being a bit worse, but I will have to spend some time reviewing the recording to confirm what my few glances while recording was seeing. We also used standard gloss sleeves instead of the normal double matte sleeves which caused some glare issues.

Next week we will have some improvements on both fronts when we come back with deck ideas trying to go over and under the Bant Humans deck before the open in Columbus. Thanks to all the folks who watched this evening through our small growing pains as we get this live paper magic streaming down to a science.

Paper Magic Streaming, Long Stream, and Give Aways

Paper Magic Streaming

A couple of weeks ago I posted an update here talking about why I was going to be moving away from streaming MTGO after June. You can read about that here. The feedback on this was varied. Mostly folks said they understood where I was coming from, but were sad to see less Magic content on my Twitch page.

After doing some chatting with Mat Bimonte, who travels with me to many SCG Tour events, we came to a solution that allows me to still do away with MTGO, but also have Magic content on the channel still – live Paper Magic Streaming. The plan is to have a live testing stream every Wednesday evening on my same twitch page that will consist of Mat, Myself, and other folks who travel with us battling it out with ideas we are testing at that give point in time. It will primarily be standard and modern content, with an occasional night of legacy here and there.

As for the formatting of this, we are still working out the details, but it will likely consist of a top down camera in conjunction with hand cameras like we used to use on our old Crash Test series for The Meadery.


Next Long Stream and Give Aways

Every time I hit a certain sub threshold we celebrate by doing a long stream on my twitch channel. We recently hit this goal again and our next long stream will be starting around 11am CST on Saturday July 2nd. It will be a send off to regular Magic Online Streams on my channel as well as including some Hex Shards of Fate. The stream will be a minimum of 12 hours, with a possible extension to 24 hours if we meet a donation goal during the first 12 hours.

My plan is to start by streaming the MOCS Monthly event which is standard starting at 11am and playing some matches of Hex Shards of Fate between rounds. After the MOCS is over (or we are all scrubbed out) we will likely be taking votes to see what we want to do as the day progresses.

Speaking of the long stream – towards the end of it we will be doing at least two giveaways to my existing Twitch Subscribers thanks to my new sponsor the Collectible Corner in Normal, IL:

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So if you have not subscribed before now is an excellent time to do so! Both cards are in fairly good condition as you can see from the pictures, but I would be happy to damage sign them if the winner desires. Subscribers will not need to be present to win.

Collectible Corner is a game store in Bloomington/Normal, Illinois that specializes in Sports Cards and Magic the Gathering. We have daily Magic events, as well as singles, boosters, and supplies. We are open daily from Noon-11PM.

You can visit them in person at:

1520 East College Suite O Normal, Illinois

Or their online TCG storefront here

Farewell to MTGO

To cut right to the chase – I will no longer be regularly streaming Magic Online on my page after the first week of July. If you would like a bit of explanation please read on.

To start – I would like to give an incredible thank you to the folks in the MTG community who have supported my stream via subscriptions and donations since I started streaming 15+ hours a week in February. I was not making what you would consider “good” money, but it was enough to be considered a part time job that purchased plenty of cases of diapers. Not bad for something I was going to be doing anyways because it was something I enjoyed doing.

That last part was the most important though:

“Because it was something I enjoyed doing”

Spending 15+ hours a week playing Magic Online for the last few months though has reminded me why I stopped playing digital Magic once before. The point of this post is not to rant about Magic Online though. Anyone familiar with the software even a little does not need to be told yet again about the bugs, memory leaks, and Wizard’s insistence on raking every last penny out of their players.

I thought I could put up with the issues – after all Magic is fun and playing an interesting TCG on the computer is convenient. At the end of February though something happened – I discovered Hex TCG. Not only was the game play as deep / interesting as Magic – but the client was not riddled with bugs / lockups and the events they ran were structured with rewarding the players in mind as opposed to dragging every last cent out of them.

More and more often while I was streaming Magic Online I felt like I was just waiting for the minutes to pass until I had played enough to satisfy my Magic subscribers so I could get back to playing Hex which provided an enjoyable digital experience.

So with all of this in mind my Twitch stream is going to become more of a dedicated Hex TCG stream. As I mentioned – I intend to keep my normal two days / week MTGO streaming schedule through the first week of July (as my travel schedule permits) because I know many of my subs sent me that money with the desire to see Magic content and I do not want to rob them of what they paid for.

After the first week of July you will only see Magic content on my twitch channel when it has been long enough for me to have forgotten how bad playing MTGO feels compared to a TCG built with digital in mind instead of digital as an afterthought.

Finally – if you are a Magic player reading this who has not checked out Hex already I would highly encourage you to do so. It is everything I have ever wanted as a digital TCG and if you enjoy Magic you will likely enjoy Hex a lot as well.

You can find an intro guide written by myself to Hex here or if you prefer video content there is a video intro by Chris VanMeter here. You can also see how cheap the competitive scene is compared to Magic by taking a peek at my write up here talking about tier 2 decks starting at 10~ USD and a tier 1 deck for only 100~ USD. Hex is also a digital Trading Card Game – which means it is possible to cash your collection or sell cards when you are done with them – unlike Hearthstone.

Budget Hex Constructed Decks


I often have people ask me for suggestions for decks to get started into Hex Constructed that have reasonable price tags. I am going to keep this post updated with a few different suggestions so I can reference it when people ask this question.

If you are new to Hex itself and want to learn about the game in general check out my post on Hex Primal here. If you do end up purchasing the deck you want from you can use code Jeff5 at checkout to get a 5% discount on your order. You can easily paste the list of cards below into their Quick Buy Tool.

Ruby-Blood Burn – Approximate Cost: 40 USD

Champion: Yotul Mogak

4x Ghostblade Duelist
4x Arena Regular
3x Gnatmares
4x Whirling Brutalizer

4x Blood Infusion Device
3x Cremate
4x Fireball
4x Crackling Bolt
4x Ebony Pawn
3x Burning Tendrils

1x Blood Shard
2x Quash Ridge Rubble
13x Ruby Shard
3x Shard of Hatred
4x Well of Hatred

4x Burn
4x Casualty of War
1x Burning Tendrils
3x Electrofry
1x Gemborn Prowler
2x Heroic Outlaw

A Ruby-Blood aggressive deck that abuses Yotul’s ability to increase non-combat damage to kill it’s opponent with cards such as Crackling Bolts and Blood Infusion Device.


BumbleBot Assault – Approximate Cost: 60 USD

Champion: Morgan McBombus


4x Baby Yeti
1x Siege Engine Gemini
4x Psychotic Anarchist
4x Mama Yeti


4x Burn
2x Combat Training
1x Fireball
4x Crackling Bolt
4x Crackling Wit
4x Lanupaw’s Sight
4x Lazgar’s Vengeance


13x Ruby Shard
3x Sapphire Shard
4x Shard of Innovation
4x Well of Innovation

1x Combat Training
4x Time Ripple
2x Crimson Bolt
2x Flickering Gobbler
2x Reginald’s Riposte
2x Verdict of the Ancient Kings
2x Oracle Song

This is another aggressive deck that leverages the evasive power of McBombus’s Bumble Bots to trigger Assault over and over against on powerful cards like Lazgar’s Vengeance and Siege Engine Gemini. The splash of sapphire cards also gives it access to the power draw engine that is Lanupaw’s Sight.


Mono Ruby Aggro – Approximate Cost: 120 USD

Champion: Angus the Arsonist

4x Baby Yeti
4x Boltspasm
4x Burn
3x Burning Tendrils
4x Crackling Bolt
4x Fireball
3x Lazgar’s Vengeance
4x Mama Yeti
3x Matriarch of Flames
4x Psychotic Anarchist
23x Ruby Shard


3x Blamsmith
2x Crackling Magma
3x Emberspire Witch
2x Mindpyre
3x Reginald’s Riposte
2x Scorch

This is card for card the deck that 7-0’d the swiss of the second Hex CCS event. It is easily one of the best decks in the current constructed format.



Updated November 24th, 2016