Buff Net Neutrality
We are coming up on another month and another Brewer’s Challenge, but before we get to that I wanted to spend a little time talking about two topics that is not directly related to Eternal itself, but has consequences for gaming and the internet more broadly. First, I thought we should talk about protecting Net Neutrality, a concept you may have heard about elsewhere. If you haven’t heard about this topic, I will give you the “TLDR”. This is a potential change of regulation in the US that could have a massive impact on the overall health of the web. As of right now Internet service providers are required to show users the Internet without any preference for what they are looking at. They don’t get to boost or slow the speed of accessing any site. If the Net Neutrality rules are removed that will change, giving ISPs a lot more freedom to do whatever they like. They are upstanding companies though right? What could go wrong?
This video from John Oliver does a great job of summarizing the issue. It is a couple of years old and came out during one of the original fights over Net Neutrality, but it is still accurate on the basic facts.
There was also a recent article that came out from the New York Times that summarizes the issue well with a more serious tone.
To illustrate the importance of this, let’s talk about what Eternal might look like in a world where you no longer have Net Neutrality.
Eternal itself is spared from the worst of the changes, and you can access it at no additional cost. It is a bit harder to read pauses now since the lag is worse, but at least Eternal is not a game like PUBG or other first person shooters that have become essentially “Pay 2 Win” based on internet connection speed. Generally though, playing Eternal itself has not much changed.
Things change a lot when you look outside of the actual game. Twitch is where you see the biggest consequences…. or at least you would see them if you actually got the “Twitch +” package from your Internet service provider. You had to choose between Netflix and Twitch, but that extra 20$ a month was a bit too steep to get both. Sure you can still access Twitch, but the lag makes it basically unwatchable. Also, Twitch content is just worse now. Most Eternal streamers are still around, but they tend to broadcast less because of constant Internet issues. The ETS has stopped happening because of the added technical problems and the difficulty of finding casters with strong enough Internet to run the broadcast. Some of full-time streamers from other games have given up the Twitch gig and moved on to other things, like Kibler who decided to take a job at Blizzard rather than continue streaming. Twitch itself is not doing too hot you hear. TwitchCon 2018 was cancelled, and there are rumors that Amazon might be selling it off.
YouTube isn’t quite as bad. Premium YouTube access was thrown into your Internet package for free, though “premium” access now feels a lot like “regular” access from before. LocoPojo is still uploading great videos regularly, but some of the other YouTubers you like have stopped because of their frustration working with lower viewership numbers. YouTube is also running a LOT more ads to keep the service running. It sucks that none of this ad revenue is going to the content producers, and is instead going to YouTube so it can pay to protect its status as a legacy site, but what can you do?
Reddit has been spared for the most part. There are less Twitch clips, and YouTube videos, but the shit posts are still there. Well, most of them – Imgur got hit really hard, so threads like this are a thing of the past. Discord was actually a surprising casualty. It still exists obviously, but server issues and lag are way more common, to the point that having fluid conversations is often really hard. Discord says these problems are going to be fixed soon, but they said that last month too, and nothing has really changed.
This story may seem a touch melodramatic, and it is, but this just gives you a bit of a perspective of how things could go. It is not like these changes will suddenly cause the entire internet to collapse from the moment they are implemented, but it is more likely things will change slowly, until some of our favorite things go away. It is very hard to predict how big of an impact this will have or how quickly it will hit, but it is fair to say very little of that impact will be “good”.
If you live in the USA you can go to this site to learn more about what you can do. As of this writing there is about 2 weeks until there will be a vote on this topic and it is important for US citizens to melt the phone lines of Congress to tell them what you think. You can find information about reaching your member of Congress here. Made a call? Great! You can call again tomorrow. Your member of Congress is in favour of Net Neutrality? Great! Ask what they are doing to convince their colleagues to vote down these Net Neutrality changes. It makes a difference to members of Congress to know exactly how passionate you are on a topic, and the best way to show them your passion is calling again and again. Be polite of course – you are probably going to be talking to some nice operator or intern who is not a member of the nefarious FCC – but it is important to make yourself heard!
Part of the reason that I wanted to bring this up is I can’t really do much about Net Neutrality. I am a Canadian, and therefore I don’t have a Congressperson or Senator to call. Although Canadian Internet service providers are almost as scummy as American ones, at least we don’t let them set their own rules. I am worried that Net Neutrality being reversed in the USA will have a pretty negative impact on the health of the web as a whole. I love watching Twitch, and it is pretty easy to imagine a surcharge on Twitch access crippling the streaming service causing some of the streamers I follow start disappearing. I can’t do much about this, so I just wanted to politely ask all of you who can make calls to do what you can. THANKS A BUNCH FROM THE REST OF THE WORLD!
Making a Welcoming Community
A recent series of events in the Magic The Gathering community has made me reflect on the importance of creating a welcoming community. For those of you not tuned into MTG Twitter-verse, Christine Sprankle announced that she was going to be taking a break from the MTG because of the pattern of harassment she has experienced. Christine Sprankle is very talented cosplayer, to the point that she is often paid to come to various events showing off her creations. As is unfortunately often the case for women who try and become involved in gamer culture, she was constantly threatened, harassed and heckled (especially on-line). Christine’s announcement has triggered a fairly open conflict between the content creators who engaged in and encouraged this sort of abusive behavior with those who see it as unacceptable. In addition, many other content creators (particularly females and LGBT individuals) came forward and told their stories showing how they have experienced this same treatment. Clearly this is a deeply troubling situation.
I bring this up not as an expose on MTG’s dirty laundry – I think a very small percentage of the MTG community is responsible for the vast majority of this toxicity. I wanted to talk about this in the context of the Eternal community. Though I am under no illusions that the Eternal community is perfect, I have not seen much of this kind of activity, and Discord chat is generally pretty good at calling people out when they go over the line. One of the lessons I took from this episode, though, was the importance of prominent community members proactively fighting unacceptable behavior. Big moments of drama are sometimes needed to actually change people’s thinking on a large scale, but it would be better if we can avoid moments like this all together by creating a truly welcoming community. In that light I have been reflecting on my ability to create positive changes within the Eternal community as a lot of people listen to what I say (for some reason).
I deeply care about creating a welcoming community that is accepting of diversity. If you would like to talk to someone about behavior you have experienced or seen that you feel is bullying or unwelcoming – especially if it involves discrimination based on race/gender/sexual orientation – I just want to let you know I am here to talk about it. Send me a message on Discord (Neon#3989) or Twitter (@NeonEternal) and we can chat.
It is truly important to me that Eternal is welcoming to everyone. Except for Shark. That guy sucks.
For those that don’t know, every month I get to Master playing decks built around some off-meta card (you can find my articles about last month’s challenge here and here). I have 8 cards for you to choose from, and I will build around the winner! Votes count until the season actually turns over. Vote here!
This has seen some play, but I honestly haven’t worked with it at all. It has potential in some Praxis Horn style decks, or a finisher in some near-unitless control strategy. Lots of potential and possibility, but also a lot of cost! Let’s see if we can come up with something…
I keep on thinking this card has some kind of potential in some sort of all-in lifeforce deck or a version of Elysian Chalice. It seems powerful if you can get it to “go-off”, but it is clearly a high variance effect. I’m not sure if I can make it work, but I feel like it is worth a try!
SirRhino has convinced me that this card is worthy of another look. +6/+6 is a lot of stats, and it is easy to imagine a world where you get to do some insane nonsense with a card like this.
I wanted to put South-Wind Herald in this spot, but I was not quite brave enough. West-Wind Herald clearly has potential in a few different decks beyond that, like Bad News combo, or just some Hooru Cheese deck. Hopefully I get to try out a few of these!
Believe it or not, this card was top-tier ranked playable once upon a time. Visage control is an archetype that did very well for a while before people figured out how to combat it. I was messing around with it a little this month, and it felt OK, but there was clearly more work that needed to be done. It might be possible to pair this with another card on this list in some kind of control-ramp-lifeforce-something-something strategy.
CURIOX, THE COLLECTOR
Every now and then I look at this guy and wonder if I am missing something. 6/6 Flying endurance for 7 is not insane, but it is also not embarrassing. The Dragon’s Eye is also just sooooooo good! I feel like Curiox deserves another try.
MOLOT AND NAKOVA
I have been experimenting a little with various versions of Skycrag Midrange on-and-off recently, and it occurred to me that Molot and Nakova might me the missing piece to a deck like that. I am not going to go into the details now, but this card is legit exciting for me.
Stray into Shadow
It still strikes me as weird that this card is “off-meta”. When it first came out I thought it would be an all-star, and I still think it is probably under played. It was so good in LightsOutAce’s and SirRhino’s deck at Worlds that I want to revisit it.
That’s all folks! Bit more serious than most of my other work, but that is not always a bad thing. Be sure to share thoughts in the Reddit thread as usual. I should warn people that we should avoid making overly negative comments on the subject of bullying/harassment. The purpose of bringing this up was not to either trash-talk the MTG community, nor to start drama here. If there are people that you feel are bullies within the Eternal community pointing fingers at them in a public forum is not the best mechanism for positive change. Let’s try and keep things positive. Take care everyone!
PS If you would like to hear me go a little deeper on my thoughts about women/discrimination in gaming check out my podcast with Wafflez from last year. While she was active in the game she was a very strong contender on ladder, and came to the game with an uncommon background.