Network  Feb 18, 2002

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The Tome

Interview with Eric Taylor
  - by Ted Slone

(Editor's Note: This interview has been preserved in the original Instant Messenger format, and the only edits that have been made to it is to remove Eric Taylor's screen name for privacy's sake, and to insert the coding for font coloring. This makes it easier to tell who's talking at any given time. The entire Tome staff would like to thank Eric Taylor for taking the time to accept this interview.)

Here I am interviewing one of magic's "golden boys", Eric "Danger" Taylor (or EDT). Eric is one of the old-school magic theorists, a popular writer for the old magic site of choice, The Dojo. I got the chance to ask him a few questions.

The Ouphe King: Please be gentle =)

Eric Taylor: uh

Taylor: gentle?

The Ouphe King: Never mind.

Taylor: is this your first time?

The Ouphe King: It's my first time.

Taylor: you always remember your first or so they say

The Ouphe King: This will be one to remember.

Taylor: the nervousness the sweaty palms the desire to please your interviewee

The Ouphe King: Firstly, what do you consider your greatest accomplishments?

Taylor: i used to do a political talk radio show in the 80's for wcbn and would interview all kinds of crazy politicians, anarchists and communists

Taylor: ah . . . .

Taylor: i do believe i used to hvae a life before magic anyway

The Ouphe King: Didn't we all though?

The Ouphe King: In terms of Magic, what are your greatest accomplishments, then?

Taylor: my greatest accomplishment is the amount of quality writing i hvae done for he now defunct dojo. my tournment success has been negligible, for instance, i could quote my 1997 1.5 win over alex shvartsman for the north american 1.5 championship, but really. . . . I don't have any good tournament results yet.

The Ouphe King: That's probably what most people know you best for. You also did a lot of heavy theory writing for the Dojo. Do you still think of the game in such an analytical way, and do you think you'll ever return to the same theoretical way of playing the game?

Taylor: every player approaches the game differently. there are the great intuitive players like mike turian, and then there are the analytic players like brian weissman used to be before he quit magic. Of course the best player is one who melds both analytic and intuitive together and then you get a finkel or budde.

Taylor: i enjoy the theoretical aspect of the game more than anything (including the actual play of the cards), and I'm sure that has been a weakness in my game, concentrating on theory instead of just playing and playing and playing more (the more you play the better your intuition gets).

The Ouphe King: Do you think you're more intuitive or analytical nowadays?

Taylor: I'm definitely still too analytical. but that i hope will change. if you look at that thing wotc sends you to describe your "style of play" I always write down "I always try to improve."

The Ouphe King: On that note, how much do you think your game has improved since you started writing for the Dojo?

Taylor: have you ever seen the flintstones?

The Ouphe King: Sure have.

Taylor: well you remember the end of the cartoon where fred is racing against this treadmill and it keeps going faster and faster and faster

Taylor: that is magic the gathering. just to stay in one place you have to run faster and faster and faster.

Taylor: everyone from the lowest lever of player to the highest have improved incredibly from the first days

Taylor: i know for a fact I have improved. the trick is. . . have I improved more than everyone else is improving?

Taylor: that answer I don't know. I'm happy at least to be improving enough to still hang with the young boys.

The Ouphe King: Speaking of which, how old are you again? ;-)

Taylor: 40. but i want to set it straight once and for all, yes the wheel and fire were already invented when I was a teenager.

The Ouphe King: Do you think that as an older player you have a disadvantage when it comes to game play, whether it's learning new cards or strategies, or just staying as sharp?

Taylor: oh certainly, it must be more difficult. All the research I have read indicates that those who learn games such as magic beyond their teens will never do as well as those who learn it early in life and practice it constantly.

Taylor: personally i haven't really noticed any effect of being older than my fellow gamers

The Ouphe King: Then do you think it might be a subconscious change?

Taylor: however, I suspect if I had learned magic in my teens I might have been a much better magic player.

Taylor: it's difficult to speculate on what might have beens.

The Ouphe King: Let's shift into a somewhat lighter gear...when exactly did you start playing Magic, or can you not remember? ;-)

Taylor: well i first started around fallen empires. my friends locally are all gamers and we played titan (still do), board games, chess, whatever, and one day one of the geeks brought this pack of magic the gathering

Taylor: i said, "hell no I'll never play that game, it's such a scam the marketing scheme is targetted to lead gamers into a gambling frame of mind"

Taylor: the whole idea of busting packs to get rares you see.

Taylor: that was the only game we played for about 2 months in 1994 so it was that or nothing

Taylor: my favorite creature at the time was kird ape, it had the most efficient power and toughness

The Ouphe King: What drew you in?

Taylor: i would have quit magic then in 1994, but you see there was this thing called the "pro tour" and that was what really caused me to enjoy magic

Taylor: without the pro tour I would have played for 2 months and then quit forever

The Ouphe King: So right from the very start you were in the competetive frame of mind. No first years mired in casual play?

Taylor: you see most games, like titan, or axis and allies you can't compete at a high level, and that detracts from the game. bridge and chess on the other hand are very enjoyable to me.

Taylor: i don't understand the attractions of casual play. to me magic or chess or bridge is interesting because of the complexities the interactions of the game states the ability to use your mind to figure things out. . . .to find that one "Eureka" moment when you discover something you have never thought of before, that's what I enjoy about gaming.

Taylor: Actually I will play dc-10 that's kind of fun, but I would never play magic just for it's casual aspect.

The Ouphe King: Ah, DC-10. Do you play Five-Color?

Taylor: actually i like a lot about five color, the big deck is interesting, but there are so many flaws in the game structure that i can't really enjoy it as much as regular magic.

Taylor: for instance the mulligan rules are ridiculously complex.

Taylor: they could fix their desire for easier mulligans by implementing the "fleming" mulligan

The Ouphe King: Can you enlighten us ignorants?

Taylor: (this is a mulligan that a local player bill fleming invented). it's just like a paris mulligan except instead of going 7, 6, 5, 4 with each additional mulligan you just go 7, 6, 6, 5, 4, etc.

Taylor: it gives you an extra mulligan for free at 6.

Taylor: anyway, nobody is going to fix 5 color, it's a "People's Format" and as such it will always have lots of little idiosyncratic rules, at least as far as I can tell.

Taylor: also play-draw is sooo 1994

The Ouphe King: What do you mean by that?

Taylor: it's obvious to everyone that playing and drawing a card is unfair, that playing or drawing is one of the best rule changes that magic has created. . . and 5 color refuses to use it because they want this old fashioned 1994 flavor

Taylor: if you talk about nonstandard magic gaming chapin's identical draft is by far my favorite format not five color

The Ouphe King: What's that?

Taylor: well you know how in normal booster you get 3 packs you bust them and pass, and sometimes you just get busty rares to win

Taylor: well in chapin's identical draft all the 24 packs are preconstructed

Taylor: err sorry

Taylor: it's for four players not 8 (it just works out better this way)

Taylor: so you get four times three packs, and they are all preconstructed

The Ouphe King: So it's a lot less luck-oriented.

Taylor: now here's the "identical" part. each player's first pack is identical to each other's first pack

Taylor: each players second booster is also identical

Taylor: so for instance you see a wild mongrel a looter in pack one you pick looter. . . then you pass and when you pick up the pack from the guy on your right you notice there is no mongrel

Taylor: you know exactly what the guy on your right is drafting and can infer what the guy across from you is drafting fairly clearly

Taylor: it's a sort of cross between the best of constructed and limited

The Ouphe King: are the packs' cards chosen?

Taylor: it's exactly like regular booster draft

Taylor: oh how they are constructed?

The Ouphe King: Yeah, that's what I meant.

Taylor: good question. you can make any booster you like, type 1 packs, block packs however you like.

Taylor: of course if you make it type 1, and there's an ancestral in the booster there's a good chance everyone will pick that first

Taylor: so you wnat to make some of the choices difficult at least for the first pick

The Ouphe King: Sounds like this Chapin character is pretty creative. How long have you known and associated with Pat?

Taylor: i guess 8 years?

Taylor: chapin played in the 2000 invitational you know

Taylor: so he is quite well known

Taylor: I taught chapin everything he knew. that took about 2 weeks and from then on, he's been teaching me.

The Ouphe King: While we're on the topic of Magic acquaintances, how did you come to know Flores and Wakefield, or in other words, Cabal Rogue?

Taylor: i never knew wakefield well. all I know is that people have always misunderstood him. they always though he was well loved because he wrote about "fatties" and lived the life of the common man. I knew it was because of something else. he had a devlish talent for the written word (except for one peccadillo his ability to write about his wife as if she were a large docile horse).

Taylor: many have tried to duplicate wakefield's writing but they can't, not because they haven't tried the same topics but because nobody has had even a touch of his ability to write well.

Taylor: i met him only once i remember in person chicago 2000 i believe and only for a few seconds

Taylor: i chatted with him on irc all the time though and always berated him for the 62 card deck. . . and one day I found out that the only reason he played 62 was because he had an irrational fear of getting a deck check and showing only 59 cards

Taylor: his fear was so irrational he went up not to 61 . . . but to 62 .. . .just in case

Taylor: as for flores, oh I remember well the first time flores and I played in phillie, when lauer was just starting to bloom as a magic player

Taylor: the first thing flores did when we sat down in his suit (he looked sharp enough to cut diamonds) was to tell me to stop where I was and hand him the sideboard while he counted it 1,2,3. . .15

Taylor: watching me like a hawk for extra cards, mana in the my pool. . . .flores had the "fire" back then

Taylor: he says he has it back . . . . maybe he does

The Ouphe King: Well, he has won multiple PTQs recently, right? He's gotta be doing something right.

The Ouphe King: Not to mention tying the knot.

Taylor: I liked flores right away, I don't know why, maybe because he was so silly and so sharp looking.

Taylor: yeah I think flores is doing something right recently. he's much much better than people realize

Taylor: the thing is when flores makes a mistake everyone is all over him

Taylor: but when another pro makes a mistake they think "Oh that only happens once in a while"

Taylor: of course now that flores is married it is sure his magical life will suffer

Taylor: unless of course it turns out his wife is a real bitch and he needs to go to magic tournaments to escape her

The Ouphe King: Alright, let's have some short answer questions. First is: what do you think your strong point is: constructed or limited?

Taylor: constructed, however like I said before I try to improve, and one thing I'm tried my darnest right now is to quit doing as much work on constructed and concentrating on my weak spots, which is to say limited

The Ouphe King: Do you still have the same enthusiasm for the game, or has the fire within been quenched in a sense?

Taylor: that's a difficult question. magic is tied up with so much of my life now. I remember going to paris getting 65th on tie breakers and having to sit on the sides while mike long and mark justice battled it out. . . I remember going to dalls while chapin had his break out tournament with sligh, seeing justin schneider play while hammer raged at the television monitor at the manipulations justin was doing to baca's deck, the times I went to la on the boat, then after bombing out day 1, renting a spruce green convertible and driving all the way to las vegas

Taylor: it's all tied together for me. the travel, the people, the gaming, it's hard to separate out the actual game magic the gathering from the entire tournament experience.

Taylor: do I have the "fire"? right now. . . i can't tell. a little yes, more than I have had in the past less than I have had other times.

Taylor: but I do enjoy the entire experience immensely

The Ouphe King: And finally, to wrap up, let's have the obligatory Hat question. What the hell were you thinking when you bet against Kai? I mean, this was before Biarritz when the giant was slain (somewhat), but didn't you know even then that Kai doesn't lose on Sunday?

Taylor: look man. i was just mouthing off as usual, going on about this that and the other thing so I'm thinking "this is absurd of course kai is the best in the world, but don't these idiots understand that kai is susceptible to the same vagaries of chance that the rest of us mortals are?"\

Taylor: so naturally i just spout off that i will eat my hat if he wins and think nothing of it

Taylor: the next day. . . .

Taylor: well the next day, everyone had remembered written it down cirled it in red ink and they decided to hold it to me

Taylor: i would have as well just forgotten it but well I would show them right?

Taylor: I certainly did. I'm not longer convinced that kai is subject to the same physical laws of the universe as the rest of us.

The Ouphe King: What was your initial reaction when you went to the sideboard page of your doom?

Taylor: let me tell you this, I don't mind it being published anywhere, because nothing is worse than the actual experience itself.

Taylor: the humiliation. . . the taste of felt

Taylor: I won't make a fool of myself again that way. I'll find a brand new and different way to make a fool of myself next time.

The Ouphe King: How did fedora taste?

Taylor: fedora tastes quite cardboardy, bland. the ketchup really helped.

The Ouphe King: Well eric, thanks for being with me for my first time. I'll never forget it

Taylor: excellent. I really enjoyed chatting with you.

The Ouphe King: we shall cross paths again in irc. Until then, thanks again

Taylor: thanks. later

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