Welcome to the Team!

Posted in NEWS on January 6, 2006

By Scott Johns

No, it's not a portrait of our newest resident Johnny, but it'll
probably make it into the column at some point anyway...

With Guildpact previews right around the corner, I've got a couple announcements regarding some changes to the line-up here at magicthegathering.com. First off, I'm very pleased to announce that the House of Cards column will be returning to the site next week. House of Cards will be publishing on Tuesdays for the two weeks of Guildpact previews, then will be swapping with Zvi's column, putting The Play's The Thing on Tuesdays and House of Cards on Wednesdays. We took the time to get the search right on this one, and everybody involved in the decision agreed that the newest member of the magicthegathering.com team was the right choice. I'm not going to announce who it is yet, but you'll get your first crack at him Tuesday. I imagine there may be a forum post or two.

To free up the slot to bring back House of Cards, we decided to let the Limited Information column go. This was a very difficult decision. Currently all of the columns on the site serve important purposes, so there wasn't any simple candidate for making space. We were very fortunate to have Scott Wills and Matthew Vienneau put so much hard work into this column, but the problem is that writing quality draft and sealed deck analysis and strategy is enormously exhausting (and unforgiving) work. Writing compelling articles about Limited formats is far more difficult than pretty much any other strategic writing in the game, and our experience has been that the most successful articles were those that found interactive ways to get the readers involved in the process, and those take even more time and resources. (See Alan Comer Speaks in the Draft Viewer! and Matt's PT Atlanta 1996 Continues article and the message board that goes with it for some good examples.) With all that in mind, we're going to move dedicated draft coverage to more frequent feature articles where we have the time and resources to handle it right. We'll also be covering Limited formats in the other columns from time to time as well, so we should still be able to present quite a bit of material for fans of the forty card decks, and by moving the venue to feature articles we'll have a lot more in the way of time and resources for exploring new widgets and creative presentations for capturing the crucial experiential nature of drafting rather than just throwing words at you.

Frazzled Editor/Producer

When Wizards hired me to run magicthegathering.com, it was to help merge three different sites into a single mega-site for Magic. Since that time, I've pretty much always been trying to do two jobs. On the one hand, there's the copy editor, the guy that gets all the articles in, gets them ready, and hands them off to the dev team. For some publishing jobs that's already plenty of work (particularly given how much material we publish), but that goes double for something like Magic, where even the most grizzled veteran can (and will) occasionally slip up on card interactions and such.

Then, on the flip side, there's the producer side of the job. This involves the top end of the editing duties (working hands-on with writers to improve their writing on a bigger picture scale, adjusting the content of columns from week-to-week both internally and how they relate to each other, etc.), scheduling out and assigning the avalanche of original content we host, as well as more strategic duties like putting together mini-features like Card of the Day and Ask Wizards, full-blown promotions like Selecting Ninth Edition or the art tease series we did for Ninth Edition, the different promotions for the Mirage preconstructed decks, special requests from Brand, R&D, and OP, and so much more. And that's before you even get to things like project management for new toys like Gatherer, the Draft Viewer, and the other things you don't even know are coming yet. (And they're cool. You're going to love them.)

And even that doesn't nearly capture everything involved in the crazy load that has been my job for the last two years. The result is that I've never quite been able to get it all down to my satisfaction. On any given week I've had to play a crazy balancing act of setting priorities for which elements needed the most love at any given time. Looking back, I'm proud of how far we've come in the last two years, but I know that we can do better.

With that in mind, we are adding a new position to the content side of the magicthegathering.com team. I'll be staying on as the producer for the site (in addition to Greg Collins, who is the producer for the Organized Play side of Magic, and the shadowy overloard we work under, managing producer Monty Ashley), but we're now adding in an editor as well. For those that didn't see the announcement on Star City earlier, I'm very pleased to announce that Ted Knutson will be joining the team as editor, starting Monday, January 16. Ted is a very rare combination of talent, drive, and pretty much everything else we could have asked for, and I'm positive he's going to help do great things here. Between Ted and I we'll have enough manpower to professionally manage the day-to-day content of the site as well as plan all those great extras that make the site what it is.

As I write this, I've now been running magicthegathering.com over half the site's life (which is a weird feeling, as on some level this will always feel like "Aaron's site" to me). In the last two years I believe the Magic team has made some great strides on the site. So, with that in mind, I'm really excited by the opportunity we'll have to make the site even better. It's an exciting time for the site and for the team. So far magicthegathering.com has been extremely successful in terms of traffic and reader satisfaction, and I think now we're going to blow all that out of the water in '06.

So, if you get a chance, please take a moment to hit the message boards and let us know how you think we're doing and anything you'd like to see change. I'd like to think this is one of the more reader-sensitive sites out there, and now we're going to have even more opportunity to give you the site you've been looking for, so this is probably the best time ever to weigh in with your thoughts. Let us know what you think, I hope you'll join me in welcoming the new members of our team, and we'll see you Monday for the kickoff of Guildpact previews!