Mono-Red Prison (aka. Free Win Red), or anything with Panharmonicon
Favorite Color (or Color Combo)
Blue, but with other colors. I like drawing cards.
It’s a tie between Blood Moon and Panharmonicon.
Honestly, right now it is Pioneer, although it has been Modern over the past few years.
I’m super lucky that Magic is my IRL occupation. I’m the content manager for
35, probably better know as old
Not technically a team in the traditional sense, but team Goldfish
Most Notable Achievement (MTG related)
This is a tough one. I’ve never really tried to qualify for pro tours or anything like that, so I guess it would be the success of my content (thanks to the support of an awesome community).
Seth, better known as SaffronOlive! Thank you so much for taking the time to be on Glimmers of Genius! I have always followed your content pretty closely, and remember building a free of your budget decks when I first got into magic. I’m sure that a lot of people have a similar experience, but I want to start from the beginning! When did you first get pulled into magic?
Pretty randomly actually. I didn’t play Magic growing up, but during college one of my roommates showed up with a box of cards from his Mom’s house (this was around when original Ravnica was releasing, so 2005-2006). I had always liked strategy games, so I started messing around with the cards on day and building janky casual decks, and before long I was hooked.
For the first few years I just played casually on the kitchen table, but once I started playing Magic Online (around when Zendikar released) I started taking the game more seriously.
Well it’s good to know that the jank hasn’t stopped, for our sakes! You’re a well known content producer now, but I’m guessing you didn’t just jump into that. How did you transition into being the content manager for goldfish and what were you doing before?
That more or less happened by accident. I finished college and was planning on going to grade school, but in the meantime was buying Magic collections on places like Craigslist, sorting and reselling them as singles. I got involved with the Magic Reddit community and was posting what were essentially articles as Reddit posts (things like expected value calculations for new sets). That’s how I ended up meeting Richard who founded and owns MTGGoldfish, and from there I sort of fell into content creation, first as a part-time thing, and then a couple of years later full time as the content manager for MTGGoldfish.
what did you go to college for?
I changed my major a couple of times, but ended up with a psychology degree.
From where I’m standing, it seems like you put out a piece of content almost every single day. Do you ever feel any sort of burnout or exhaustion with MTG? And if so how do you handle that?
I don’t think I’ve ever really been burnt out with Magic as a whole. I get burnt out with different formats though. When that happens I tend to switch to another format for a while.
speaking of new formats, what have been your first impressions of Pioneer?
At this point it’s hard to say. So far the format has actually been a lot less broken than I expected when it was announced, but I do still think there will probably be some bannings before the Player’s Tour in February. If I was to guess Dig Through Time and Treasure Cruise will probably be the first to go, with Felidar Guardian and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx also in the running.
On the other hand, energy and Aetherworks Marvel hasn’t actually been very good so far. While it could still get to the point of needing a banning, at this point it’s pretty low on my list of potential problems.
On the flip side of things, do you think that the format would be ok with no bannings?
For the short term I think so. Over the long term it seems like bans will probably be necessary. It’s hard to imagine that once decks are fully tuned and the metagame is know something won’t end up being a bit too good for the format.
So, pioneer is exciting, but I’m curious to get to opinion on MTG: Arena as well. What are three things you would change about it? one thing that is 90% likely, one that is 50% likely and one that is 10-20% likely.
In general, I think that Arena has been solid, although there can always be improvements. I think one improvement that needs to happen and likely will in the not super distant future is performance. There have been some issues with lag and bugs recently, but I expect that Wizards will get this ironed out eventually. I’ve played Magic Online for a long time, and in the past it had similar issues, but eventually the got resolved.
Another is adding more formats. Historic or Brawl are probably the easiest since they are already on the client, but I think Pioneer would on Arena would be a huge deal. So far Wizards has been really resistant to adding non-Standard formats, but hopefully this changes in a future. I wouldn’t bet my life on it, but I wouldn’t be shocked if we get Pioneer eventually.
As for a long-shot, I’d change the economy. This years rotation has shown that not having dusting or trading is especially rough in a game where half of your collection becomes illegal in Standard each year. I think the odds of this happening are small, although it would be a massive improvement over the current system, especially with Standard being the only constructed format fully supported on Arena at the moment.
Shifting gears back to you. You brew multiple decks every week for different purposes, whether it be Budget Magic, Against the Odds, or another one of your awesome columns. Where do you get the inspiration? When you sit down to brew a deck, where do you start?
I actually do a lot of my brewing in Magic Online, just digging around in the deck builders, searching for different abilities or effects until something catches my eye. Rather than a flash of inspiration, in my opinion building decks is more about being willing to put in the work.
Do you ever have a flash of inspiration?
I guess that sort of happens sometimes. Not for a full deck lists, but sometimes I’ll be thinking about a card and have the perfect combo or synergy suddenly comes to mind.
So aside from occasionally getting a case of the galaxy brains, what does putting in the work look like from the beginning where you find a card or combo that you like, to the end where you publish the deck
So usually it starts with an idea, card or synergy that I want to build a deck around. With that in mind, the next step is actually building a deck, which is where digging around on Magic Online’s deck builder (or someplace like Scryfall) comes in. My first goal is to get to the point where I have a deck I can play with for testing, so I’m usually not too worried about it being perfect right away. Once I get a 75 together, I play a match or two, mostly to get the feel for how the deck is playing, while also looking for anything I might be missing (for example, did I forget to put any graveyard hate in the sideboard? Do I have enough ways to kill aggro creatures? stuff like that). I usually make changes between matches. Sometimes it only takes a couple of matches, other times it takes days of playtesting and updating. Eventually I get to a point where I either feel like the deck is at a place where I’m happy to play it for a video or stream and make the actual content, or I feel like the idea just isn’t coming together, and then I usually put it back on the shelf for a while and move on to something else. Then I usually try to come back to the deck in a few weeks or even months and try it again.
Do you have any advice for people who want to brew successfully?
Practice! The best way to become good at building Magic decks is to build a lot of Magic decks. I think one of the biggest challenges is not getting frustrated and giving up when things don’t go as well as you’d like right away. Building unsuccessful decks is the way you learn how to build successful decks, you just have to stick with it.
well, Seth, as we wind things down to a close here, I wanted to just give you the opportunity to speak your mind about whatever you would like. it could be one final piece of advice, an opinion you want to share, or even a rant about an unrelated topic (Would love to hear that, honestly ;)). the floor is yours!
Well, first off, thanks so much for having me! On the way out the door, I’d just like to say that it’s a really exciting time in Magic, between Pioneer, Arena launching and several new sets on the way there is a ton happening at the moment. If anyone reading this hasn’t tried the game, they definitely should. Magic Arena is a great way to start playing for the first time since it’s free to play and it has some nice tutorial or teaching new players the basics. Oh yeah, and my beard is much, much better than Pleasant Kenobi’s.