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Selling your Covered Call - Thoughts on How to Select Your Strike and Expiration
Congratulations! You are a bag holder of company XYZ which was thought to be the best penny stock ever. Instead of feeling sorry, you consider selling covered calls to help reduce your cost basis - and eventually get out of your bags with minimal loss or even a profit! First - let's review the call option contract. The holder of the call option contract has the right but not the obligation to purchase 100 shares of XYZ at the strike price per share. This contract has an expiration date. We assume American style option contracts which means that the option can be exercised at any point prior to expiration. Thus, there are three parameters to the option contract - the strike price, the expiration date and the premium - which represents the price per share of the contract. The holder of the call option contract is the person that buys the option. The writer of the contract is the seller. The buyer (or holder) pays the premium. The seller (or writer) collects the premium. As an XYZ bag holder, the covered call may help. By writing a call contract against your XYZ shares, you can collect premium to reduce your investment cost in XYZ - reducing your average cost per share. For every 100 shares of XYZ, you can write 1 call contract. Notice that that by selling the contract, you do not control if the call is exercised - only the holder of the contract can exercise it. There are several online descriptions about the covered call strategy. Here is an example that might be useful to review Covered Call Description The general guidance is to select the call strike at the price in which you would be happy selling your shares. However, the context of most online resources on the covered call strategy assume that you either just purchased the shares at market value or your average cost is below the market price. In the case as a bag holder, your average cost is most likely over - if not significantly over - the current market price. This situation simply means that you have a little work to reduce your average before you are ready to have your bags called away. For example, you would not want to have your strike set at $2.50 when your average is above that value as this would guarantee a net loss. (However, if you are simply trying to rid your bags and your average is slightly above the strike, then you might consider it as the strike price). One more abstract concept before getting to what you want to know. The following link shows the Profit/Loss Diagram for Covered Call Conceptually, the blue line shows the profit/loss value of your long stock position. The line crosses the x-axis at your average cost, i.e the break-even point for the long stock position. The green/red hockey stick is the profit (green) or loss (red) of the covered call position (100 long stock + 1 short call option). The profit has a maximum value at the strike price. This plateau is due to the fact that you only receive the agreed upon strike price per share when the call option is exercised. Below the strike, the profit decreases along the unit slope line until the value becomes negative. It is a misnomer to say that the covered call is at 'loss' since it is really the long stock that has decreased in value - but it is not loss (yet). Note that the break-even point marked in the plot is simply the reduced averaged cost from the collected premium selling the covered call. As a bag holder, it will be a two-stage process: (1) reduce the average cost (2) get rid of bags. Okay let's talk selecting strike and expiration. You must jointly select these two parameters. Far OTM strikes will collect less premium where the premium will increase as you move the strike closer to the share price. Shorter DTE will also collect less premium where the premium will increase as you increase the DTE. It is easier to describe stage 2 "get rid of bags" first. Let us pretend that our hypothetical bag of 100 XYZ shares cost us $5.15/share. The current XYZ market price is $3/share - our hole is $2.15/share that we need to dig out. Finally, assume the following option chain (all hypothetical):
Purely made up the numbers, but the table illustrates the notional behavior of an option chain. The option value (premium) is the intrinsic value plus the time value. Only the $2.5 strike has intrinsic value since the share price is $3 (which is greater than $2.5). Notice that intrinsic value cannot be negative. The rest of the premium is the time value of the option which is essentially the monetary bet associated with the probability that the share price will exceed the strike at expiration. According to the table, we could collect the most premium by selling the 110 DTE $2.5 call for $0.95. However, there is a couple problems with that option contract. We are sitting with bags at $5.15/share and receiving $0.95 will only reduce our average to $4.20/share. On expiration, if still above $2.5, then we are assigned, shares called away and we receive $2.50/share or a loss of $170 - not good. Well, then how about the $5 strike at 110 DTE for $0.50? This reduces us to $4.65/share which is under the $5 strike so we would make a profit of $35! This is true - however 110 days is a long time to make $35. You might say that is fine you just want to get the bags gone don't care. Well maybe consider a shorter DTE - even the 20 DTE or 50 DTE would collect premium that reduces your average below $5. This would allow you to react to any stock movement that occurs in the near-term. Consider person A sells the 110 DTE $5 call and person B sells the 50 DTE $5 call. Suppose that the XYZ stock increases to $4.95/share in 50 days then goes to $8 in the next 30 days then drops to $3 after another 30 days. This timeline goes 110 days and person A had to watch the price go up and fall back to the same spot with XYZ stock at $3/share. Granted the premium collected reduced the average but stilling hold the bags. Person B on the other hand has the call expire worthless when XYZ is at $4.95/share. A decision can be made - sell immediately, sell another $5 call or sell a $7.5 call. Suppose the $7.5 call is sold with 30 DTE collecting some premium, then - jackpot - the shares are called away when XYZ is trading at $8/share! Of course, no one can predict the future, but the shorter DTE enables more decision points. The takeaway for the second step in the 2-stage approach is that you need to select your profit target to help guide your strike selection. In this example, are you happy with the XYZ shares called away at $5/share or do you want $7.5/share? What is your opinion on the stock price trajectory? When do you foresee decision points? This will help determine the strike/expiration that matches your thoughts. Note: studies have shown that actively managing your position results in better performance than simply waiting for expiration, so you can adjust the position if your assessment on the movement is incorrect. Let's circle back to the first step "reduce the average cost". What if your average cost of your 100 shares of XYZ is $8/share? Clearly, all of the strikes in our example option chain above is "bad" to a certain extent since we would stand to lose a lot of money if the option contract is exercised. However, by describing the second step, we know the objective for this first step is to reduce our average such that we can profit from the strikes. How do we achieve this objective? It is somewhat the same process as previously described, but you need to do your homework a little more diligently. What is your forecast on the stock movement? Since $7.5 is the closest strike to your average, when do you expect XYZ to rise from $3/share to $7.5/share? Without PR, you might say never. With some PR then maybe 50/50 chance - if so, then what is the outlook for PR? What do you think the chances of going to $5/share where you could collect more premium? Suppose that a few XYZ bag holders (all with a $8/share cost) discuss there outlook of the XYZ stock price in the next 120 days:
Person A does not seem to think much price movement will occur. This person might sell the $5 call with either 20 DTE or 50 DTE. Then upon expiration, sell another $5 call for another 20-50 DTE. Person A could keep repeating this until the average is reduced enough to move onto step-2. Of course, this approach is risky if the Person A price forecast is incorrect and the stock price goes up - which might result in assignment too soon. Person B appears to be the most bullish of the group. This person might sell the $5 call with 20 DTE then upon expiration sell the $7.5 call. After expiration, Person B might decide to leave the shares uncovered because her homework says XYZ is going to explode and she wants to capture those gains! Person C believes that there will be a step increase in 10 days maybe due to major PR event. This person will not have the chance to reduce the average in time to sell quickly, so first he sells a $7.5 call with 20 DTE to chip at the average. At expiration, Person C would continue to sell $7.5 calls until the average at the point where he can move onto the "get rid of bags" step. In all causes, each person must form an opinion on the XYZ price movement. Of course, the prediction will be wrong at some level (otherwise they wouldn't be bag holders!). The takeaway for the first step in the 2-stage approach is that you need to do your homework to better forecast the price movement to identify the correct strikes to bring down your average. The quality of the homework and the risk that you are willing to take will dedicate the speed at which you can reduce your average. Note that if you are unfortunate to have an extremely high average per share, then you might need to consider doing the good old buy-more-shares-to-average-down. This will be the fastest way to reduce your average. If you cannot invest more money, then the approach above will still work, but it will require much more patience. Remember there is no free lunch! Advanced note: there is another method to reduce your (high) average per share - selling cash secured puts. It is the "put version" of a cover call. Suppose that you sell a XYZ $2.5 put contract for $0.50 with 60 DTE. You collect $50 from the premium of the contract. This money is immediately in your bank and reduces your investment cost. But what did you sell? If XYZ is trading below $2.50, then you will be assigned 100 shares of XYZ at $2.50/share or $250. You own more shares, but at a price which will reduce your average further. Being cash secured, your brokerage will reserve $250 from your account when you sell the contract. In essence, you reduce your buying power by $250 and conditionally purchase the shares - you do not have them until assignment. If XYZ is greater than the strike at expiration, then your broker gives back $250 cash / buying power and you keep the premium. Early assignment - one concern is the chance of early assignment. The American style option contract allows the holder the opportunity to exercise the contract at any time prior to expiration. Early assignment almost never occurs. There are special cases that typically deal with dividends but most penny stocks are not in the position to hand out dividends. Aside from that, the holder would be throwing away option time value by early exercise. It possibly can handle - probably won't - it actually would be a benefit when selling covered calls as you would receive your profit more quickly! This post has probably gone too long! I will stop and let's discuss this matter. I will add follow-on material with some of the following topics which factors into this discussion:
Effect of earnings / PR / binary events on the option contract - this reaction may be different than the underlying stock reaction to the event
The Black-Scholes option pricing model allows one to understand how the premium will change - note that "all models are incorrect, but some are useful"
The "Greeks" give you a sense about how prices change when the stock price change - Meet the Greeks video
Position Management - when to adjust, close, or roll
Legging position into strangles/straddles - more advanced position with higher risk / higher reward
Open to other suggestions. I'm sure there are some typos and unclear statements - I will edit as needed! \I'm not a financial advisor. Simply helping to 'coach' people through the process. You are responsible for your decisions. Do not execute a trade that you do not understand. Ask questions if needed!**
‘They are us’ – an urgent, uncomfortable call to action
"By Morgan Godfery | Contributing writer March 13, 2020 A proper reckoning with March 15 2019 demands that we take up a generations-long struggle to destroy all the exclusions that make up our society and produce the conditions we know as racism. An essay by Morgan Godfery. This work is made possible bySpinoff Members.
I was cleaning out the garage the other day and found an old Crusaders jersey. If I remember right it’s their team kit from 2005, the white knight sewn into the chest and the old Ford logo printed in the centre. The jersey itself is still as fresh as new paint, a novelty purchase from when we were passing through Christchurch on our way to Christmas in Oamaru. I was a year 9 in school and a Super 12 jersey was the kind of item you had, just so you could say you had one. This is about the same time it was still acceptable to whisper things like how the white players in the Crusaders were responsible for their team’s championship success, playing their footy with brains, and the problem with mid-table finishers like the Blues were too many brown boys who only knew how to throw their weight around. I’m not quite white-passing, but my upper middle-class accent, generally preppy affect, and not-quite-pasty-not-quite-brown skin makes me ethnically ambiguous enough that people are happy to share their thoughts about big Polynesian units, Asian immigrants, Muslim terrorists, and the Jews. The first time I remember running into entirely casual racism was in Christchurch, on the way back from that Christmas in Oamaru, when a retail worker caught up with me on the street apologising for short-changing me in store. I didn’t realise or particularly care, but years later I thought about his apology. “Sorry, I just Jew-ed you”. At the time it was nothing to me. In high school and later in my flat at Victoria that was just what people said. “Jewing” someone was a verb for ripping them off, taking an advantage, or just a way to give someone a bit of stick. In my experience it was especially popular with the Christ’s College boys, which probably has something to do with the city’s private schools inheriting their culture from Britain’s public schools. “A Jewish boy at a public school almost invariably had a bad time,” wrote Orwell in 1945. Things probably aren’t that much better in 2020. The other day I read an old mate – a private schooler too – on Facebook joking about how Jews are useless at sport. I suspect for good liberals this is probably shocking. This isn’t language that ever sneaks through our circles. But outside of our cosy hermetic world words like coconut, boonga, fob, wog, gook, curry muncher, towelhead, the hundred variations on the N word, and “Jew” as more than a noun are common currency. The stains from that vocabulary seep into every part of the culture and society, and nothing much has ever been done to wash it out. The first time I remember encountering deliberate, menacing racism is on the rugby paddock when a white coach was yelling at my mate on the wing “run you BLACK bastard”. I thought about that moment when spectators in Christchurch were caught vilifying Fijian player Sake Aca in 2015, screaming from the stands “black cunt”. Fandoms like to imagine their sports, multicultural rugby especially, as pure and independent realms (“a level playing field”) absent race, politics, or any disadvantage other than skill. It’s a seductive argument, I’ll concede that much, but it’s so self-evidently false it still surprises me every time someone insists on it earnestly. Sport? Not racist? In 2012 talkback callers and trolls went after then Blues coach Pat Lam and his family for the great crime of simply being Polynesian. In 2010 former All Black Andy Haden was put through the wringer for telling media the Crusaders only recruit a maximum three “darkies”, presumably to preserve the team’s famous brain-brawn balance. Even in the laudatory histories New Zealand rugby was, and probably remains, a notorious nexus for down home conservatives, know-nothing administrators, and out and out racists. In 1960 the rugby union sent the All Blacks on tour to Apartheid South Africa, waving the team off without any Māori players or officials in a remarkable sop to the country’s colour bar. In 1976 the national team were sent back, this time defying international calls to cut sporting ties with the racist state. In protest at the tour more than twenty African countries led a boycott at that year’s Olympics, a moral stand that should perpetually shame New Zealand Rugby. Not racist? As if. In an ideal world the Canterbury Crusaders would study this history, carefully considering whether their decision to retain the team name is another brick in rugby’s wall of shame. The managers might consider how “deus vult”, meaning God wills it, a battle cry from the first Crusade, and “Acre 1189”, a reference to a siege in the third Crusade, are URL shorthands and postscripts for white supremacist users constructing a historiography for their neo-fascist movement. The managers might also reflect on how real-life white supremacists in countries like Brazil, Norway, and Australia are adopting the Knights Templar, the Christian warrior monks who made up the crusading hordes, and the literal white knight that was formerly the Canterbury team’s logo, as their saints. 📷 CRUSADERS MASCOTS AT AMI STADIUM IN CHRISTCHURCH IN 2019. PHOTO: DAVID ROGERS/GETTY IMAGES. FEATURE IMAGE: FRIDAY PRAYERS AT AL NOOR MOSQUE ON MARCH 22, 2019. PHOTO BY SANKA VIDANAGAMA/NURPHOTO VIA GETTY IMAGES As it happens the team’s managers, after kicking the issue to a “market research” firm shortly after March 15, made the call to save the name. It’s an unconscionable decision, for obvious reasons, but the team bosses seem cognitively incapable of reasoning through the issue and its implications beyond mere “branding”. In a statement announcing the name-stay the team’s PR people wrote “for us, the Crusaders name is a reflection of the crusading spirit of this community,” as if it’s possible to just reframe the holy war using a press release. It’s a cretinous thing to do when not even a year earlier an alleged shooter undertook a massacre at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques as part of his own “crusade”. A28-year-old man is before the High Court facing 52 murder charges relating to the events of March 15. What we know about his life is little, save the things he was curating about himself online, which in this essay I treat with caution and scepticism. But it seems clear enough the Australian citizen was an obsessive for the Crusades, scribbling references to the religious war for the Holy Land across the weapon police accuse the man of using to carry out the massacre. Investigative reports note in his pilgrimage to Europe the 28-year-old – who pleaded not guilty to all charges – made particular visits to Christian-Muslim battlegrounds in the former Ottoman Empire, apparently as a tribute to the crusading warmongers he was so keen to match. To outsiders the obsession with this particular historical episode is probably bizarre, if not creepy. But in the nether world this man and his neo-fascist comrades inhabit they imagine they’re acting out the thesis and title in Samuel P Huntington’s The Clash of Civilisations. In his 1993 essay the American political scientist argues that in the immediate past global conflicts were between warring ideological factions – capitalism and communism – but post-Cold War conflict will centre between clashing civilisations. The West vs the rest. Christianity vs Islam. The Crusades II. In Huntington’s telling, and in the alleged shooter’s head, the West and the Islamic world are fated to compete. Yet that competition won’t centre over economic issues like stable oil supply lines, or even political issues like the territorial integrity of Western allies in the Middle East, instead the clash is meant to happen over Islam’s apparently regressive values and the West’s progressive tradition. It’s a striking thesis, especially for the generals and politicians who were hunting for cover for their military adventures in the Middle East and East Africa in the late 80s and early 90s. But it was always a notion that was impossible to apply, reducing the Islamic world to a series of stereotypes (it never had its enlightenment) and setting it against an equally reductive West (it did have its enlightenment). The late Edward Said, the Palestinian scholar, cut right to the heart of Huntington’s argument in identifying it wasn’t an argument at all – rather, he was “a partisan, an advocate of one so-called civilisation over all others” who maps billions of people into “vague” and “manipulable” abstractions and then presents it as a true account of the world. “Thus to build a conceptual framework around the notion of us-versus-them is in effect to pretend that the principal consideration is epistemological and natural – our civilisation is now and accepted, theirs is different and strange – whereas in fact the framework separating us from them is belligerent, constructed, and situational.” In other words, the thing separating the Christian us from the Islamic them, to the extent a clean separation is possible at all, is history – of colonialism, of Cold War power politics – and not immutable categories like “the West” or “the East”. That the categories exist at all are a function of history and political convenience, not a universal law stipulating conflict as the only end. Yet for the neo-fascists like the alleged shooter every thought they cherish orbits this particular rock: that the entire Islamic world is one dirty blob of terrorism, rape, and invasion, and that all its more than one billion members act with a single purpose and co-ordination unknown in the entire history of humanity. But why commit to a dichotomy so obviously stupid at all? The 28-year-old grew up in Grafton, a waterway town in northern New South Wales, and in his time on the Eastern seaboard it seems unlikely he ever actually met many Muslim people at all. In his own family’s account they were just ordinary Aussies. It’s impossible to interrogate the claim – every family thinks itself the norm and we can’t penetrate their private lives to investigate how true it is – yet the family were probably ordinary in one sense. They were unremarkable. Just another white family. The alleged shooter’s parents were in traditional jobs. Mum a teacher. Dad a rubbish man. The people who were closest to him – cousins, old school mates – pinpoint his OE to Europe as “the moment”. As RNZ reports in his manifesto the alleged shooter recounts his trip through North Korea and Pakistan, paying tribute to the locals’ kindness and hospitality (noticing the contradiction he explains he doesn’t hate the yellows and blacks who stay in their own “homelands”). Eventually he lands in Europe, road tripping France. In one passage he despairs that he can’t seem to find an all-white town or city. In another passage his travels take him, quite conveniently, to a cemetery for the European dead of the world wars. “I broke into tears, sobbing alone in the car,” he writes, mourning the apparent Islamification of Europe. “Why were we allowing these soldiers deaths to be in vain?” He didn’t realise that the dead he mourned died trying to kill people like him. In 2018 I wrote (presciently, without claiming too much credit for an insight this awful) that “white nationalism is, for the basement dwelling 4chaners, mouth breathing Redditors, and Youtube philosopher kings, nothing more than a desperate search for an alternative fatherland”. That search is what drove the alleged shooter from his Australian home. “The origin of my language is European, my culture is European, my political beliefs are European… most importantly, my blood is European”. To the alleged shooter his actual home was irredeemable. “What is an Australian but a drunk European?” In each claim is a desperate narcissism, reaching for an imaginary identity when your existing accomplishments don’t match your personal ambitions. It’s tempting to extend that psychoanalysis. The alleged shooter’s fetish for imaginary “whites” is a cover for the trauma of being a nothing, disembodied. Or maybe the urge to order and rank the world into competing civilisations is a neurosis, like stacking your knives and forks in a row. Perhaps the pleasure he takes in trolling is jouissance, a momentary transgression in the service of briefly feeling. Yet those readings are weightless if they stand alone. The alleged shooter’s interior life is relevant, certainly so for a conviction on murder, but studying the actually existing politics that shaped his positions and actions seems more important than base speculation. In The Invention of Tradition the historians Terence Ranger and Eric Hobsbawm argue that traditions, far from the ancient wisdoms of old, are often nothing more than recent beliefs that help foster a common identity when – to borrow from Said – “organic solidarities” like the family or village break down. The inventions are easy to spot in the courts and parliament where British ritual connects the two institutions to a pedigree and past that their move half away across the world broke. In the neo-fascist movement the inventions are slightly more subtle, taking actual historical happenings like the Crusades and pick-and-mixing the symbols (Knights Templar), battles (Acre 1189), and language (deus vult) that they can contort around the various anti-Muslim bigotries. The idea that traditions are a kind of stand-in where old connections break down seems especially apt in settler colonies where the relationship to the past and a present community often amounts to nothing more than a shopping list of shared habits and references. Gumboots as culture. I appreciate that description could come across as banal, or even malicious, but it gets close to the impulses apparently guiding the alleged shooter: the search for meaningful political connections and political community. As he saw it Australia had no identity to offer. Instead he found his connection in an “imagined community” – in violent European nationalisms – and online. “I am a racist”, the man writes in his manifesto. His neo-fascists comrades were too.
One of the first inspirations he cites is Luca Traini, a 28-year-old Italian neo-Nazi who, with a 9mm glock, went on a drive-by shooting injuring six African migrants in Macarata in 2018. The racist rampage lit a fuse under that year’s Italian general election. The left went after Matteo Salvini, the League Party leader, the same party in which Traini stood as a mayoral list candidate, for inspiring his violent work. In an ordinary election a political leader would make an immediate climb down, condemning Traini and his crimes. But Salvini, best known in the English-speaking world for closing harbours to refugees crossing the Med, was surprisingly consistent. He said the left had “blood on its hands” for packing the country with “illegal migrants”. The unspoken implication: Traini was doing his patriotic duty. The alleged shooter, watching on from another hemisphere, found a brother in arms. The two men had built their identities around all the same hatreds and had clothed their boogeymen in all the same threads. One stitch for migrant “invaders”. Two stiches for liberals and Marxists, and a needle for the “race traitors” among them. But where the twin gunmen’s hatred really met, transforming from online big noting to a real-life passion, was in protecting “their” women. Traini undertook his crime as an apparent act of revenge against the three Nigerian refugees in court for killing 18-year-old Pamela Mastropietro. In his manifesto the alleged shooter offers a similar provocation, taking 11-year-old Ebba Akerlund’s death as his red pill. In his self-mythologising, the Stockholm truck attack, a deadly terrorist attack that took Akerlund’s and four other lives, was his waking moment. “It was another terror attack in the seemingly never-ending attacks that had been occurring on a regular basis throughout my adult life,” he wrote. “But for some reason this was different”. What was that difference? Akerlund. An innocent. It’s a vile misuse – he doesn’t care for anyone or anything beyond himself – but the narrative demands an affect, the shooter turning in his coward’s rags for a knight’s armour. For neo-fascists it’s essential to tell their origin stories through the opposite sex. For aspiring movement leaders like the alleged shooter it’s the fight to protect the “virtue” of “our women” against “Muslim rapists” that forces their hand. For lurkers, shitposters, and like-avores it’s the feminists and “Staceys” who never recognise the genius and vigour of their own race (plain meaning: “women don’t want me”) who lead them into fascism. Santa Barbara shooter Elliot Rodger, a martyr for beta males, undertook his crimes and suicide as an apparent act of “retribution” against women for denying him the sex and love he thought of as his by right. This, not the customary declarations of love for the race, or even the thrill of sharing the same enemies, is usually the heart of online fascism – it’s a reaction against women. In Male Fantasies the German sociologist Klaus Theweleit argues the fascist men who fought against the Weimar Republic from 1918 to 1933, and who went on to prominent positions and a political home in the Nazi regime, were in their heads and hearts afraid of women. For the “Freikorps” there were two womanly classes: White Women, “the nurses” representing order and servitude to men and country; and Red Women, “the communists” representing disorder, whoring, and the end of patriotic men. The latter were the women the paramilitary movement were under an obligation to kill. In one speech a general complains that when “a few old girls get blown up the whole world starts screaming about bloodthirsty soldiers”. “As if women were always innocent,” he said. This is why every fascist movement purges women first – metaphorically and actually. In Ruth Ben-Ghiat’s Italian Fascism’s Empire Cinema the American historian describes how films under the Duce’s regime “remove the Italian woman from the colonial space”, portraying the colonies as where men might find purpose through trans-national thuggery, and attacking women’s emancipation at home as a “corrupting” force and a check on the people’s success. The alleged shooter undertook his killings with similar illusions. That he could forge a new identity in gun fire and blood, and that liberated women (and Jews) were responsible for his personal and racial decline. In his manifesto the opening line is “it’s the birth rates”, repeated three times. 📷 THE WELLINGTON 15/3 VIGIL HELD AT THE BASIN RESERVE (PHOTO BY ELIAS RODRIGUEZ/GETTY IMAGES) It’s easy to diagnose the same pathologies in his comrades. Game developers Zoë Quinn, Brianna Wu and media critic Anita Sarkeesian – the victims in 2014’s Gamergate troll – were made targets for harassment for no other reason than they were women crossing the border between a man’s stuff (the spacies) and a woman’s role (sex and housework). In New Zealand the death threats against Golriz Ghahraman, our first MP who arrived in New Zealand as a refugee, are so frequent Parliamentary Services ensures special protection for the Green MP. The critics go after Ghahraman for everything from fakery (her “CV” is a lie, she isn’t a “real refugee”) to acting as part of a globalist conspiracy to wipe out the white race. It’s impressively stupid, of course, but the point isn’t the truth in the charges. It’s that an Iranian-born woman sits in our parliament. The same trolls go for the prime minister on Twitter’s #TurnArdern hashtag too, condemning Jacinda as a lazy woman (#parttimePM) who coasts along on nothing more than her femininity (“she’s a pretty communist”). That’s hardly out of the ordinary, of course. In the 2000s print commentators were comfortable enough to throw equally chauvinist slurs at Helen Clark, using “Helengrad” for Clark as the controlling woman and “political dominatrix” for ball-breaking the men around her. The difference is today’s trolls serve their sexism with Islamophobia on top. Last year activist Rangi Kemara found a telling correlation between tweeters of Turn Ardern and tweeters of Islamophobia. The Christchurch man selling MAGA hats – “Make Ardern Go Away” – on TradeMe once wrote he would destroy “mosque after mosque till I am taken out”. Give me the misogynist, to corrupt an old saying, and I’ll show you the Islamophobe. Simone Weil, the French philosopher, would recognise in the turn to Europe – and the turn against women – a classic “uprooting”. In almost every country material comfort and security often rely on cutting the cord between a person, the past, and a present community: removing Indigenous people from their land; separating citizens from their homes and families in one place for work in another; and reducing people to their supposedly “innate” categories (race, gender, etc). These uprootings, in Weil’s words, are a “sickness of the soul” that leave men especially vulnerable to demagoguery. In their search for past and present connections they turn to “false conceptions” like patriotism and national greatness, and at the core of each in 2020: hatred for and fear of women.
What’s notable about this neo-fascist movement isn’t necessarily its reach but its mode. Online, yes, but more importantly: politically free. Other than finance, the alleged shooter had no political or bureaucratic restraints. He could post all the tell-tale things he apparently did, and it seemed neither the police nor the spy agencies would ever flag it. He could acquire the semi-automatic weapon the Crown charge him with using with nothing more than a gun licence – and the seller was under no obligation to log the purchase. And he could move between Australia and New Zealand’s practically open borders with only a passport and a straight face for the eGate. I hope you register the irony in this. Borders were the very thing the alleged shooter was desperate to enforce against the Muslim hordes. After moving to New Zealand, ostensibly to plan an attack back home, the 28-year-old found instead that “the invaders were in all of our lands”. Even at the bottom of the world in formerly lily-white Christchurch. “Nowhere was safe”, he wrote. The alleged shooter, in a bonfire of pomposity and self-regard, actually did think himself at the centre of a civilisational struggle between the out-bred West and Islam. In the mind of the manifesto writer, massacring Muslims would enforce the borders the supposed sell outs in government wouldn’t. But in allegedly killing the innocent people he did he wasn’t taking on a powerful soon-to-be majority. Rather, on one side is the 28-year-old with all his political and social freedoms, and on the other are the shooting’s victims who were living their lives under significant political and social restraints. The spy agencies were dedicating their resources to “Islamic terrorism”, not the alleged shooter’s terrorism. Police commit more resources to “street gangs” – that is, Māori – and barely even bother with the alleged shooter’s brothers and sisters in white power. The immigration department, as any anecdote can confirm, focuses disproportionate attention on non-white entries, and the only people who move freely between borders are people like the 28-year-old. In short: non-white people live their lives under scrutiny and surveillance. The government’s official response to the Christchurch shooting is to extend that scrutiny and surveillance to, well, white people. Jacinda Ardern is leading reforms to gun laws and the rules governing how online users share violent, racist, and other objectionable material. Last month the country’s top spies told a parliamentary select committee that they’re keeping watch on dozens of suspect characters. Police, even a year on, are still making home visits to destroy illegal weapons and otherwise interview lurkers and posters. The changes, taken together, rightly remove the freedom and options the alleged shooter had, and make it almost impossible for his comrades to organise. Yet as good and necessary as those changes are some of the structural conditions that produce the racial distinctions the alleged shooter holds so dear are left intact. In organised debating one of the famous moots is the “balloon debate”. In it each speaker, usually arguing on behalf of someone famous, proposes why the others shouldn’t toss him or her over the side of a hot air balloon in order to save the others. It’s a riveting hypothetical, placing six people in disaster’s mouth and exercising the collective choice to doom one and rescue the others. But for anyone who understands how it feels to have their apparent merits and demerits subject to “debate”, with someone else drawing up a balance sheet in red and black, it’s horrendous. The idea is we’re born equal, but after that all bets are off. This is what women, takatāpui, Māori, Muslims, and other deviations from the “norm” deal with most days. Are we worthy? It’s the same principle that organises immigration to New Zealand: who’s worthy? In our system the government literally attaches “points” to the world’s hopeful according to their potential for improving the lives of the hosts. Good English? Points. A tertiary qualification? Add to the tally. Assets? You’re basically in. The system’s political champions admire this approach for its rationality. Unlike the US where immigration sometimes relies on a lottery – eg the American Diversity Immigrant Visa – or just keen racism – i.e. the Muslim travel ban – New Zealand immigration is hassle-free and non-discriminatory. It’s a self-serving argument, of course, because an immigration system where the purpose and function is defining inclusions and exclusions (who’s in and who’s out) is never neutral. When Winston Peters calls for tighter English language requirements, for example, that’s really an argument for conferring an advantage on applicants from the Anglosphere over people with equivalent skills or greater need from other parts of the world. This isn’t explicitly discriminatory, at least in the sense the exclusionary threshold doesn’t depend on a person’s race, but the impact is racist in that one group of people (mostly white) enjoy an advantage over another group (mostly non-white) thanks to nothing more than the great good fortune of being born an English speaker. It’s a perversity. Yet this is what border systems, including our points system, do: they force you to think about inners and outers. The threshold between the worthy and the unworthy. This is one reason the refugee-led campaign to end the “family link policy” was so important. In removing the rule barring African and Middle Eastern refugees from settling in New Zealand (unless their family were already here) the campaigners saw to one of the worst racial exclusions our border system made. If you’re an optimist you might hope the other racist exclusions in our border laws – like The Citizenship (Western Samoa) Act, the legislation stripping Samoans of their Privy Council-confirmed New Zealand citizenship – are but a campaign away from abolition. I’m a pessimist. I suspect most people imagine borders as objects, a line in the ground demarcating our country from theirs. Yet the American southern border, as one example, is notable more for “the Wall’s” absence than its presence. The northern border is even less dramatic, a largely wide-open space with fences here and there to pen in the farm animals. In New Zealand airlines usually enforce the country’s borders thousands of kilometres from our actual line on the map. Under the Advance Passenger Screening programme carriers only board passengers with the appropriate documentation. 📷 A POLICE OFFICER DEMONSTRATES ILLEGAL GUN MODIFICATIONS. (PHOTO: RNZ / ANA TOVEY) It’s another marvellous technocratic achievement, appointing airline staff as de facto border patrol agents. But like the points system the screening programme’s impacts can end up perverse and racial making it almost impossible for refugees and asylum seekers from “non-visa waiver countries” (i.e. the developing world) from ever making it far enough to lodge a claim for protection in New Zealand. The programme, more than anything else, exposes borders for what they really are – a list of biased inclusions and exclusions – and the structural violence borders perform are in whom they include (the English-speaking, the educated, the wealthy) and who they exclude (the desperate, the poor, the mostly brown and black). The alleged shooter and the neo-fascist movement understand a struggle is happening over the nature and function of borders. This man recognised new borders – the “balkanisation of the US” – as the only way to guarantee “the future of the White race on the North American continent”. His comrades, like the neo-Nazi who went on a stabbing riot on a train in Oregon, claim their end goal is smashing the US into competing ethno-states. For them – and their king in President Trump – reconfiguring the borders, whether as policy changes to the inclusions and exclusions or new border lines entirely, is the best way to guarantee their political supremacy this century. Are borders by their very nature racist?
I took my last trip to Christchurch a month and a half after March 15. I had a speaking engagement with Network Waitangi Otautahi, the local tauiwi Treaty group. I thought about putting it off. Post-March 15 the only conversations that seem urgent and necessary are about March 15. Taking up space felt wrong, and even stepping off the plane felt intrusive. The city was grieving. Even the affect was off. People were unusually quiet in public spaces. In private one person I spoke to was literally in tears. We weren’t talking about March 15 at all but she was thinking about it every day. Even that felt like I was taking up space. Am I here to grieve too? I thought about Sam Neill breaking down in a taxi when the news broke, openly weeping, and how he took comfort from his Muslim driver. Hmmm. I spoke, in the end. Not entirely comfortably, but an intervention of one kind or another felt right after the racism debate went from “individual hate” to “firearms access” to “the internet”. Each is its own valid connection, sure, but it felt as if all the most important connections were missing. In the English-speaking world it’s fashionable to name private, individual acts as “racist”. The intolerant, unfair, or simply racial things that fall out of people’s mouths. Like “cheeky darkies” on the 7pm telly. But it’s unfashionable, of course, to name racist systems. Instead bureaucrats and opinion-makers opt for euphemisms like “unconscious bias”, reducing racism to a state of mind and not a systemic design. This is why I thought it important to issue a reminder, in the very small way that I could: racism is a social relation. It’s the principle governing the relationship between coloniser – the people who took this land and built the institutions to control and profit from it – and colonised, the people from whom the land was taken and the institutions built to protect and exploit the founding theft. The same principle shapes the relationship between citizens – people who enjoy all the rights the state confers – and non-citizens, outsiders who must prove their worth through their contribution to citizens. 📷 These are the systemic conditions that produce racism – unequal power relations – and it’s what makes it so easy to condemn the Māoris or the immigrants or whoever else. When one people are up and the other are down, and the scales are apparently resistant to any remedial attempts to balance them with Treaty settlements or an increase in the refugee and asylum seeker quota, it makes it seem as if their disadvantage is a state of nature and not a centuries-long project to exclude certain people from prosperity. To the alleged shooter his victims were by their very nature irredeemable, abusing the West’s generosity, and he understood himself as enacting the same permanent exclusions his ancestors made, from the Crusades to the war on terror. In this sense, the alleged shooter was an individual racist. Of course he was. But in another sense he was taking our exclusionary systems to their logical end. Is there any response to savagery like this? The government’s reforms are one. I entirely support them. And yet they fall so short. People will still define their identity in different nationalisms, just like the alleged shooter did, so long as there are racist border system to enforce them. Neo-fascists will still define their identities against women as long as there is an unequal “domestic sphere”, an unequal workplace, and a society where one group – men – accumulate and exercise disproportionate power over another – women, trans people, non-binary people. That makes the struggle against the alleged shooter’s politics longer than his trial, his probable conviction, and his probable imprisonment. It’s a generations-long struggle to destroy all the exclusions that make up our society and produce the conditions we know as racism. On my read Simone Weil’s original, vital insight is that as people and communities we find our identities in the obligations we owe – and in the obligations owed to us. In those reciprocal relationships we find meaning and purpose. In the give and take, in its delights and frustrations, and in the everyday work of making a home in these islands. This is where we find our roots, connecting to each other in different ways – whether as Māori or women or Muslims – but never excluding. “They are us” is an inclusion. They are us is an affirmation. They are us is also an urgent and uncomfortable call to action. As New Zealanders, it’s our responsibility to take on every exclusionary system, whether it’s racist borders or enduring gender roles. The memory of those who lost their lives on March 15 demands no less."
bones' word wall - "it's called word wall for a reason" edition
greetings, i'm bones, the aggro/midrange player of TESL and i have a few things i wanna talk about. They directly correspond to, like, practically every complaint i hear recently, especially in relation to gameplay. It's worth noting that some of these can't be blamed on our current developers, Sparkypants, because they come from darker times of neglected client, so don't go shopping for pitchforks for the amount of stuff that'll be covered in this post, but with that said, let's go through this stuff, one by one. I want to divide this post into 3 sections:
Client design (where i'll also put UI related nitpicks because there's a few of them)
Core mechanics design
i'll make the subsection names pretty bold so if you're interested in only one specific part feel free to scroll down to the section of your choice starting with
1. CLIENT DESIGN
I can't say anything objective about aesthetics - to each their own. Personally, the game looks much better now than it did in the old client. Loading times have been overall much shorter and that applies both to transitions between menus and switching pages in collection. Clickables on the board, while completely unnecesary, are a nice addition to the overall "feel" the game gives. The way cards look now in comparison to the old client are, again, a subjective matter, but I've grown to like them quite much, especially things like Premium Legendary Guards, they look stunning on the board. Long story short, the game LOOKS damn fine, at the very least for me. That includes the animations that cards have. However, the speed of these animations, not all of them - mostly ones that occur multiple times per turn, depending on the deck, like Fifth Legion TraineBruma Armorer buffs on creatures played in quick succession, Bruma ProfiteeNecromancer's Amulet in similar instances, Galyn/Ungolim/Therana shuffling cards to the deck, Relentless Raider dagger (in Wispraider), cost reduction animation (for abomination scout and leafwater OTKs), Piercing Twilight banish (control decks), even something as recent as multiple instances of Training Grounds - is abysmally slow, they make the whole game feel like it's covered in some gluey substance or, in case of the new playmat, that the action takes place underwater. I know that devs are aware of it, because it's been pointed at several (dozen) times already and in Patch 2.7 they have taken a step towards fixing it - namely buffs/heals happening for cards that summon multiple creatures occur at the same time. Baby step in what to us feels like an easy solution (just replicate what was happening on direwolf's client), however i can't discredit a step being taken. Some of the decks are practically unplayable on the ranked ladder because of the animation speed, like the old terror called Nix-ox Telvanni. Figured I'd put it here mostly to keep everything I hold against the game altogether contained in one spot. Then there comes the issue of when a card becomes interactible (for a lack of better word). By which I don't mean how good the card is, but rather the timing in between what occurs in the game. Here are two examples that I know of to illustrate the issue better:
affects my stupid deck but bear with me - if you have an Orc on board and at least one Fifth Legion Trainer, play Wood Orc. Only when he gets Charge he's able to be selected.
in Leafwater OTK, you cannot play the Leafwater until it ends showing you the discounts from either Thieves Guild Fence or Gates of Madness.
In first case the problem is minimal, but there is a tiny chance to screw you over. In second case, it's actually pretty big, because that and animation speed makes this OTK (and many others) much slower. Amongst other things that devs know is the issue of not being able to check your discard with a selection box present (like the one Mudcrab Merchant, Merchant's Camel, Indoril Mastermind, etc. give) which is pretty important for control decks, especially considering deck tracker is still absent. But while we're at clicking discard pile icons... How about being able to click the Deck icon to see what's in your deck? An option to view your deck is already there in Laaneth, so I can't imagine there's too much coding that needs to be done to actually implement being able to view your deck's contents. Halfway through Heroes of Skyrim, for some reason we got buttons to remove and copy a deck in the collection menu... while simuntaneously the same options were taken away from the specific deck's menu. It's a very tiny thing, but I reckon it'd be nifty to have deck code, copying and removing deck button somewhere on the deck screen as well. By no means a high priority thing, but i thought i'd mention it nevertheless. There have been personal issues with TESL i've been facing on both Steam and Mobile clients. On steam the game slows down a LOT just before the game starts, while server registers i'm in a game. This causes me to, often, miss mulligans. It's more likely to be on my end, but no clue what causes it. On mobile, when building a deck, clicking on an attribute once only highlights said attribute for some reason. Again, nitpicks, but I want everything gathered in one spot. This is something that I'd call more of a wishful thinking than an actual complaint - Something as simple as being able to highlight (just to keep tabs on it) a card in opponent's hand, without revealing it obviously. This would be helpful with things like remembering Galyn target, a card that Thieves Guild Shadowfoot stole or just keeping a tabs on Tome from Daggerfall Mage or Dagger from Crown Quartermaster. With this inclusion, an option to sort cards in your hand would become available. Necessary? Nah. Priority? Fuck no. Would it be welcome? Maybe? Idk, that's more like a personal suggestion. I feel like there should be more options for friendly matches. Since there's no reward for winning or losing them (at least not in any internal way), these would be very welcome for customization - Picking lane effects, who gets the ring when challenging, some sort of toggle for an option that allows you to draw specific cards to make testing interactions or bugs far easier, something that lets a player (or both players) see both hands to make coaching/explaining much less of a hassle in a stress-free environment - just to name a few things that come to mind. Last, but not least, very undertalked issue. Logs. They are very uninformative. I don't think I've ever seen worse logs, sorry guys. Being limited to only 8 last events, which includes minor things like a buff happening is seriously terrible. Not only does it keep information away from each player, it comes with incredibly small amount of information. For example, when your opponent plays an item, you don't get the information whether it's from their deck or was it an item obtained via Gardener's Harvest. Another example is the card Shadowfoot stole - because it's not a copy generated by anything, logs leave no indication about the card's origin. But that's not all the issues this uninformative log causes - bug reports are much harder to actually verify! We're not ideal, we sometimes misremember things. Or sometimes things can't be logically explained. Take this for example - I somehow kept the ward on a creature after attacking with it. I have no bloody idea how did that happened and logs only tell you as much as you can see - Ordinator was placed down and opponent passed the turn, then I equipped Battlemace on Wardcrafter, swung into the Ordinator and was left with a 6/1 with Ward. Keep in mind, I don't even wanna mention things like Decktracker and such. They'll be there when they'll be there. However, there's something that rubs me the wrong way about... Tournament Mode. You know, thisthing. It's been 9 months since we've seen these two teasers, but ever since that it's been radio silence about Tournament Mode. I can understand priorities like honing the client and stabilizing expansion releases, but to tease something that community has anticipated for a good while and not have anything to show to us other than "we're working on it" is really a big let down that is worth pointing out. On a similar note, we really could use Gauntlets and Chaos Arena. Not only because they add tons of variety to the gameplay, but... um, i'll mention why a bit later. I know I pointed fingers at plenty of issues, but this is still tons better than what direwolf offered, because we see improvements to the client done at a much faster rate, so kudos to the team and here's to hoping that whatever problems we have with the game right now are going to get solved relatively fast. So far I can't say the quality of the client has disappointed me. In contrary to...
2. CORE MECHANICS DESIGN
TESL's main stand-out mechanics are rather easy to spot. Let's go over them one by one:
One a field line, the other's covered in shadows. At the point of me writing this, there are only three (soon to be four HOPEFULLY) means for someone to actually play around with more lane conditions than the default two. These being Solo Arena, Story Mode and recently added Syl, Duchess of Dementia and Thadon, Duke of Mania. With how fresh in our collection these two cards are, I'm fairly certain Sparkypants will start slowly introducing more intricate lane conditions or maybe possibly using some of the existing ones. Here you can find all the conditions available in game, in case you're curious. With two lanes come options to move between them. This, I'd say, is one thing that TESL nails. Moving is a strong mechanic and cards that enable the move are similarly potent. If a moving card isn't utilized, it's most likely due to the card itself, not because of it having means to move - Riverhold Escort, for example, isn't played because you want your guards, for the most part, to protect the lane they're in. Cliff Strider's problem is its text that prevents it from ever going face, etc. If there was one problem someone could point out with moving mechanic, it'd probably be a very small pool of cards (a total of 1!) that lets you move opponent's cards. That, however, is probably even stronger in a vacuum and should be made extremely carefully. So yeah, overall, kudos to design team, past and current (Mad Dash is very, very good as a 1-of surprise card). Strictly attacking between lanes seems to be kept to minimum, which is fine - the lanes are there for a reason, elevating in-between lane combat to a much higher power level is a cool idea. However, there's also... idk how do I put it better, attacking creatures not strictly? This exists in two forms. Since this part is about mechanics, i'm going to focus on only one of these here - Battle. Battle allows the creature with it to trade blows with any single one of the enemy creatures on the board. Until very recently, Battle was... actually kept in a rather nice state - cards with it saw either very limited play in some decks (Ashlander Zealot in Doomcrag, Fighters Guild Steward in Rage Warrior shortly before Isle of Madness) or were solid arena picks (Cliff Hunter, Skyborn Dragon). Some were incredibly unique, like Dragon Aspect, where you battle with your face! Had we kept it that way, no one would probably notice an issue with this mechanic - it allows a creature that has just been placed on the board to instantly attack. This includes the health it gains from its Drain, any Slay effects, Breakthrough damage, and so forth. Until Isle Battle was strong, but its strength was kept on cards that required plenty of work put in to dish out results or weren't strong in a vacuum. Then Squish the Wimpy happened. That card is what happens when you don't realize how powerful giving any card Charge and Bushwhack effect is. And, let's be honest, it's not exactly it - you can't battle your opponent's face - but even that has workarounds nowadays, like Flesh Atronach OTK. Between Flesh Atronach OTK (cards needed in it aren't necessarily always useful, but Squish is never really bad and Flesh Atronach can be brought back from Discard Pile with Odirniran Necromancer if need be) and the amount of ways you can use Squish in Rage/Ramp Warrior (from just removing creatures, to ramping while removing creatures, to healing and stealing creatures, just healing, dishing out insane damage with breakthrough, etc.) this card elevated Battle onto godlike status. However, if you take a gander at how good Battle was prior to Isle and how good it is now, it's easy to figure out that the culprit is one very strong and flexible card that gives interaction to a class with no interaction prior to this. Because of how much power this action carries, I don't think keeping its text the way it is and just fiddling with cost is going to make it any less powerful - even Duel Atop the World, which costs 5 magicka more and its only difference is +3/+3 to the target of the action, has seen some fringe play, mostly in decks that also ran Morag Tong Nightblade. There's one more big thing that happens between lanes that, at least I, didn't put too much attention in when looking at mechanics. Summon effects. We don't have too many cards whose summon effects affecting opponent's cards are limited to the lane they're played in (Skaven, Tiny Dragon, Cradlecrush Giant, Knight of Order, Giant Snake, Sanctuary Pet, Belligerent Giant, Mantikora... total comes to maybe 20 cards at best) and... I'd say that's not really a good thing. I think more creatures should have its summon effects limited to the lane they're played in, both positively and negatively, however, quite frankly, I have no idea how to approach that kind of balance change for all of the cards in the game, so I'm going to refrain from in depth means of changing this. My only idea was changing Camonna Tong Heavy's Plot effect to affect the whole board, given how little play he sees. But yeah, Summon effects have gotten sort of problematic, with their instant value that's only stoppable by "silver bullet" cards. More on these later.
Prophecies and Runes
If utilizing two lanes in card design would get a B- from me, then utilizing Runes would get an E-. Sure, there are some interesting cards that even to this day some of the best players can't quite agree on (Wilds Incarnate being the best one), for the most part anything that isn't a Prophecy and does something with Runes themselves was very mediocre. Morokei in Singleton decks is a great card, but... it's also a Singleton card. That's not gonna bring you tons of playability. He's gonna be an auto-include in Singleton decks, but Singleton decks aren't going to top the tierlist because of built in increased variance and an unsufficient reward for gimping your deck (only three singleton cards). Mechanical Heart is the other card that brings back a rune, but it's also relatively easy to deal with, a huge tempo loss on play and unique legendary, meaning only a singular card in 50 or 75 of them in your deck. The fact that Runes have been this unexplored for the longest time is a sin, especially because coming up with things to do with them is actually very simple and straightforward.
Replacing runes with other effects upon reaching health threshold.
Using up a rune to pay for an additional effect (ala' Exalt)
Forcing a rune break of your own.
Cards that punish opponent for breaking runes for a turn
Changing conditions for rune breaks (amount of creatures removed, amount of extra cards drawn, etc)
Cards that let you select a card from your deck to be a guaranteed draw when the rune is broken (possibly more late-game).
The list really does go on. Even on this list alone you could probably make a split for offensive and defensive options. The reason I gave Rune-related mechanics E- and not F is completely on the cards that reward you for breaking a rune - These I find for the most part very well done. Simply put, high risk, high reward cards that present a fair deckbuilding challenge to the ones willing to take it. Playing with these cards is also handled really well - they are prime targets for removal with their low health or other vulnerabilities, so it's quite easy to punish playing, for example Haafingar Marauder or Relentless Raider at a wrong moment. This sentiment doesn't quite extend to Beast Form. By themselves, most of these cards are alright, similarly to how "rune break" cards perform. However, with Companion Harbringer and Skyforge, there was a clear attempt at introducing something ala' a Werewolf deck or a Beast Form deck. Without alternative means of destroying opponent's runes, there's not much reason to go full werewolf, sadly, and without Beast Form these cards are nothing more than understatted creatures with no weight on them. Similarly to other very fringe and not played mechanics, only the most swingy of representants see play, like Circle Initiate (for very average statline at its cost and Prophecy tag), Aela's Huntmate (draw) and Whiterun Protector (just a solid body in a midrange deck post-Beast Form). Still, probably more blame lies on underutilizing means of breaking runes rather than Companions themselves. So let's talk Prophecies... However, not in the way people would probably think about them. Instead of trying to describe in my own words how do they feel, I'll try and draw links between them and mechanics in two other, seemingly completely different games - Team Fortress 2 and Wargroove, starting with the former Between Prophecies and Critical Hits, there's plenty of similarities. So in TF2 Critical Hits are Random. Matter of fact, they are very similar in its randomness to Prophecies in TESL in that you can technically influence the percentage (in TF2 by dishing out damage, in TESL by... adding more Prophecy cards to your deck), but regardless of percentage, you can go several seconds with nothing but crits or you can never see a critical hit in the round. Random critical hits remove a lot of decision making from the player, as this little tidbit styled after Pokemon battle explains really well, lasts about 3 minutes tops. Now, TESL doesn't have it quite as terrible, because the "critical hit" that happens does actually end up teaching you the essentials of when to play your cards, the ordering of your actions and whatnot, however what holds true in both cases is that it feels just as bad to die to a random critical hit as it is to losing to a random Prophecy that stops your lethal. I think these Prophecies in particular are the biggest offenders - things that create insane swings capable of changing not only the way you play out the remainder of your turn, but flip the entire game upside down essentially. Your Cloudrest Illusionists, Mystic Dragons (at least early game), Lightning Bolts, Piercing Javelins, Shrieking Harpies, Golden Initiates (to an extent) and many others all affect the game state significantly the moment they are played. Again, you can (and you should) play with a possibility of these cards popping in on your turn in the back of your head, and admittedly aren't executed in the worst way because you are capable of playing around them, however losing to one of the big prophecies from first rune or dying to a prophecy lightning bolt don't feel fun, matter of fact they're pretty frustrating to lose to. Then there's Wargroove, one of the recent games, turn based strategy (if you liked Advance Wars I highly recommend you pick Wargroove up!). The reason I'm mentioning this game is its way of handling critical hits. Instead of bigger and smaller random percentages, which no doubt would end up being frustrating to deal with, the game has conditional critical hits. For example, your cheapest infantry unit only does critical hit when the army's general is standing on a tile next to that unit. This adds a lot of depth to the gameplay and feels very rewarding to pull off successfully. As for TESL, I don't know how could you introduce something that gives you similar feeling - whether introducing conditions that one must meet in order to be able to play the card for free or just making it so that when the conditions are met that one card is guaranteed to appear during the breaking of your next rune. Maybe there's a way to somehow utilize leftover magicka from your last turn during opponent's turn. I want to just present how other games handled something that's widely considered frustrating. The details of execution I'd rather leave to card designers. I'll explain my last pet peeve with rune-related mechanics in next sub-chapter. Conveniently, we're done with what TESL does differently to other card games, so let's move on to:
First of all, I have nothing against your Treasure Hunts, Exalts, Betrays, Assembles and the like, however I can't help but feel that all of the "new mechanics" are only here to make expansions sound better. Whenever a big release was coming to TESL, be it a story or a new set, one of the main advertising points were new mechanics. They were one of the first things we heard about the set as well, for example in case of Houses of Morrowind, for which the very first announcement covered Rally, Plot, Exalt, Betray and "5 power or more" condition. Then there was nothing new that came for these mechanics. The reason this makes me miffed a bit is twofold:
We could've gotten mechanics that no other game but TESL can pull, especially anything involving Runes.
If the mechanics I mentioned in the first point are too complicated to just introduce, then at least take proper care of the things you do introduce.
Things like Factotums, Beast Form, Shouts, Exalt all are probably around a card or two away from being very much viable. I don't see much reason to keep them hanging. Treasure Hunts and Rally desperately crave for more, at least from Constructed point of view. Ironically, I think the most recent monthly card, Training Grounds, together with Ring of Lordship, are... perhaps not viable, but definitely a step in the right direction, especially compared to Singleton. These two present specific deckbuilding challenges that grant you plenty of cool perks and flashy plays should you overcome them. Not only that, playing against decks built with these two cards doesn't feel unfair, because you can see the synergy coming if you're observant enough. I'm not sure, however, what to think about Supports and Support Removal. This interaction feels very binary and, similarly to prophecies, not really fun for either side of the interaction. You're going to feel just as bad when your opponent has a few supports on their side of the board that you can't deal with as you'd feel when your freshly played support you didn't quite reap benefits from gets instantly removed by Dushnikh Yal Archer, Shadowfen Priest or Edict of Azura. I'm not sure how can this be designed in a better, more fair for both sides, way - perhaps make it so that supports have health, but can be targetted with creatures to deal 1 damage to them if guards aren't on the way, while reducing the support's cost all around, dunno really. Other mechanics that we had since the dawn of TESL time, namely Pilfer, Slay and Last Gasp, have been for the most part kept safely tame. Last Gasp has maybe two problematic cards at best (Haunting Spirit and Balmora Spymaster, for different reasons), but at the same time I can't help but feel that the whole Last Gasp bundle is being really overlooked by all of us. Pilfer is kept at VERY safe levels, probably because of how dedicated Tier 1 Pilfer deck would negatively affect newer players - they'd feel cheated by the Master of Thieves combo, which to them would have no counterplay what so ever, especially if another card that gives any creature pilfer gets printed for Monk. Finally, Slay in a vacuum is also more or less fine, but in tandem with Squish the Wimpy and battle tricks like Sword of the Inferno, Archer's Gambit and Crusader's Crossbow starts raising a few issues, the last three specifically with creatures that have both a Slay effect and Lethal. I also think that Slay and Drain shouldn't affect your own creatures if you end up killing them with Unstoppable Rage or any of the pings mentioned above. The possibility to turn one lane with one big creature in it into almost 30 health or an OTK in one turn is rather disgusting, especially the latter, since you can just place Child of Hircine in shadow lane against an empty board and use your next turn to add a Brotherhood Sanctuary and a bunch of Firebrands, Rage and attack a total of 7 times. There's also this elephant in the room... you know, Tricolors. What initially was perceived as a fun little gimmick (after all, why give up consistency for increased variance?) turned out to be the most viable way of building your decks. The results speak for themselves. Turns out that increased variance isn't really an issue for the tricolor player, because of several things:
Deck that they play can't really be shut down by anything - your class lacks support removal? Third color has you covered. Short on pings? Good thing extra 25 cards can fix that. What in 50 card decks could be called "identity", a set of strengths and weaknesses, is gone with transition to 75 cards. Every tricolor deck has access to everything, in smaller or bigger amounts.
The only conditions one needs to meet to play a tricolor deck are the deck size and having at least one tricolor card in its deck - That's... not really a setback. Sure, you increase the variance, but that variance often gets lost with how the deck gets built. Tempo Scout has proportionally less reach in its deck than Tempo Telvanni, for instance. As for the second condition... name a single deck in which tricolor card is a detriment to that deck.
With increased variance comes increased unpredictability. As someone facing a tricolor deck, I can't reliably play around its weaknesses, because they can have a multitude of different things. The only safe 2 magicka cards that one can play against Tribunal are Siege Catapult, Mournhold Traitor, Snow Wolf and Steam Constructor. Everything else dies to Negation, Execute or Firebolt.
Because of Tricolors, previously balanced cards start becoming a problem - the nerf of Goblin Skulk could be mostly attributed to Hlaalu and Telvanni with their Firebrands and Fireblooms respectively. If we were to favor classes over houses, Hlaalu Oathman and Cruel Firebloom would become more likely nerf targets than the Skulk itself. Similar things could be said about Tullius' Conscription.
Even with increased variance, tricolor decks can contain a bigger amount of more powerful cards. Telvanni is probably the biggest offender, with Negation, Black Hand Messenger, Emeric, Queen Barenziah, Thorn Histmage, Scout's Report, Telvanni Catspaw and Sun-in-Shadows all being a part of their control lineup. 18/75 is more than class' highest ratio of 1/5th.
Practically every possible group of people, Timmys, Johnnys, Spikes and everyone in between, have at least a few people admitting that the introduction of tricolor decks changed the game for worse for various reasons. The stats we have are definitely in favor of their strength. But at the same time there's a group of people who consider tricolor fun and different enough, which is perfectly fair. There isn't a lot i can think of in terms of solutions - rotating tricolors out first would need to happen, because honestly the design itself requires plenty of tweaking to make the games with it fun and that's not really something i know how to achieve. All of different solutions i've heard haven't really been elegant. But yeah, following rotating out the tricolor I'd either make an expanded queue for ranked/casual or run some tricolor gauntlets, should they make a comeback. don't think there's tons of things to say about specific cards that I feel like should be adjusted or cards whose design philosophy ought to be changed, but i still feel like giving 'em a section of their own.
3. CARD DESIGN
Starting off with something that was already talked to death by other people, most notably mr Ian Bits in his video here, namely heavy RNG cards. Now, it's understandable why are they made - giving fun to Timmys and some Johnnys, but i don't think power level of some of them is in the right spot. Biggest offenders of course being Suran Pawnbroker, Mudcrab Merchant and Manic Jack/Mutation (although i feel like Barilzar's Tinkering and Desperate Conjuring are also worth looking at). Still, this issue is explained in the video I linked far better than I would be ever able to explain it. There is, however, other type of rng cards that i feel like wasn't mentioned and is arguably a problem of similar size - Ring cards. By that I mean cards that are extraordinarily good on curve, but only with ring. When played without ring on curve, these cards have a lot more answers than with ring. Pre-nerf Goblin Skulk was very much a ring card, but even currently we have Cornerclub Gambler, Fifth Legion Trainer, Mournhold Traitor, Withered Hand Cultist to an extend belongs there too, East Empire Crafter has potential to land in this spot soon, although on a much smaller scale. Granted, when playing against control decks a lot of these become non-issues, as they have sufficient amount of early game removal to be able to deal with them swiftly, but for aggro mirrors these may as well be winrate swings. For all the things bad about Mudcrab Merchant there's one positive - Crabo has let us play more than one 1 drop that still holds its value during mid-game. I'd say this is worth looking at closer, because if there's something to fix the issue of Ring of Magicka in Aggro mirrors, it's decently powered 1 magicka creatures. Currently 1 drops fall into one of these categories:
Insane on turn 1, quickly lose value - Sarethi Scion, Palace Prowler, Ungolim, Deathless Draugr
Offer an unsufficient value across the entire game - Aldmeri Patriot, Blood Sorceress, Descendant of Alkosh, Blackreach Rebuilder, Covenant Marauder and many others
why are they still here? just to suffer? - Enraged Mudcrab, Niben Bay Cutthroat, Prophet of Bones (sorry my prophet), Voracious Spriggan
actually viable, as they are alright on turn 1 and their value is still solid mid-game - other than Mudcrab Merchant and Crown Quartermaster there's Deepwood Trapper, Gearwork Spider, Shadowmere, Marked Man, Karthspire Scout and, arguably, Scroll Seeker.
Even in the last category, only some decks really want these cards over others at a different point of the curve. Giving people a tad more incentive to go for Scroll Seeker or Karthspire Scout could potentially improve the means of fighting in Aggro mirrors or maybe bring back Midrange out of the sorry state it's been in. Endurance in its current state from aggressive point of view is an ideal color - comes with a lot of overstatted creatures, perfectly pairing up with other colors, either with enabling plenty of trades or supplementing big bodies with smaller, but Warded bodies (Willpower and Intelligence) or with buffing these creatures even further and abusing movement (Strength and Agility). At this point of time we're like 99% sure that Catapult will receive a nerf, if anything then because of community issues with the big body, now made much harder to punish with Skinned Hound, but to ignore Haunting Spirit, Young Mammoth, Dragontail Savior, Corrupted Shade and Bleakcoast Troll would be similarly unwise. The problem is, I suppose, in the fact that it's really hard to balance something out regarding these 5 cards without wrecking Endurance. I have faith that our card designers will be able to overcome the difficulties currently caused by this attribute. On the other side of the board we have cyclers and recyclers. Granted, it's safe to say that in a vacuum cards like Merchant's Camel or Indoril Mastermind are, for the most part, fine as is. Enter houses and Odirniran Necromancer, however, and we end up with cards that absolutely neglect the negatives of tricolors (reducing the increased variance) and, because of constant milling, allow these decks to find an answer to opponent's gameplan much more reliably while simuntaneously progressing forward with the board state. Don't get me wrong, it's not a problem that's only restricted to control - cards like pre-nerf Ash Berserker and Cornerclub Gambler should land here just as well. The amount of milling we have is one of the likely reasons the meta is in its extremes - it's either extreme aggro, extreme control or extreme swings/cycle. The solution sort of comes naturally - slow down! Less mill makes for a smarter game to play for both players. The second part of "Indirect card combat" that we call pings, also belongs here. However, by that I don't necessarily mean actions that just deal damage, like Firebolt, Rapid Shot, etc. These are necessary, fair and harmless. The only problematic cards are Archer's Gambit, Sword of the Inferno, Crusader's Crossbow and Unstoppable Rage. The first two, even at their low cost of 2 magicka, are almost always used on lethal creatures to act as a hard removal with benefits - in case of Archer's Gambit it's the ability to trade the lethal creature into an enemy creature on the same lane and potentially reap benefits from Astrid's effect, for Sword it's proccing Slay twice (on enemy creature and on itself), especially on lethal creatures, on top of just being able to remove two creatures with one so long as the wielder has 3 or more health. Crossbow feels the least problematic of all of these, mostly due to its cost, but also due to lane limitations - in Shadow Lane you can't quite always deal with two creatures at the same time, due to cover. It also doesn't give Guard to the wielder, so it doesn't force 2 for 1s with benefits. Unstoppable Rage is a whole different story. It's perfectly fine as a lane clear, but becomes unfun to play against when paired with a Drain creature or a creature with Slay effect, mostly due to these two things proccing off your own creatures too. This results in even 50+ health swings on top of the lane clear. Of course, there's a difference between feeling bad and being badly designed - I don't think the card itself is problematic, you can play smart to deal with Rage for the most part, but I can't deny its demotivating effect. Finally, there's silver bullet cards. You know, ones that are useless for all but one matchups - Grummite Magus, Memory Wraith, Piercing Twilight and Cast into Time (sort of, they're helpful everywhere to an extent), Garnag, Bedeviling Scamp and Withered Hand Cultist. These ones are probably the things I hate the most about card design. We're playing a Card Game. You can eliminate the problems by tweaking cards or card interactions in order to help players make punishing certain plays easier. Printing a card that answers the problem for you is an insult to card player's intelligence. It's the equivalent of giving a worse of two chess players an extra handicap piece that can move on any tile of the chessboard - why improve your play, when you can just play an easier game? If your goal is to welcome more casual players easily with these cards, then consider making something along the lines of an advanced tutorial. These could be a series of puzzles for free that any player can partake that would teach them the most important essentials of playing smart and playing to win. Not only that, these would play well into a marketing strategy - you can then direct someone done with advanced tutorial to the store, where he can find more puzzle bundles. It's really worth putting more effort into the game than just creating an easy answer for a card - it makes for a more compelling card game, a more satisfying esperience when you do overcome this one strategy you had troubles with in the past. Don't take this joy away from new players by giving them the middle finger card. Please. And if you're truly set on introducing hate cards to the game, at least split them into several smaller cards that affect different aspects of an archetype. Cultist, for example, should probably receive a big nerf in tandem with introducing cards that affect Summon effects, ability to be shackled, damaged by lethal creatures, affected by actions, etc. The very last thing I wanted to mention, more as a closing note, is the speed of making changes. Hearthstone recently went on to create drastic changes to the card game, mostly in the amount of nerfs/buffs but also in changing the base set. I mentioned a lot of things in this word wall of mine and I believe introducing even half of them from section 2 and 3 would greatly increase the quality of gameplay TESL definitely deserves. But in order to get there, serious changes need to be made, for we've kinda dwelled a bit too far into some of these problems. For an example of a game that undergoes gigantic changes with every patch to keep the experience fresh and enjoyable, look no further than Dota 2. The game has balance patches which are about as long as half of this article of mine, affecting various little tidbits of gameplay. While TESL by no means has as many gameplay intricacies, it still has cost, attack, health, card text, starting hand, interactions, etc. This game has tons of potential for really compelling games across all kinds of players and between all kinds of players, but a serious amount of effort and dedication needs to be put in in order for us to get there. Passion is what got us some of the all-time great games in the past, like Chrono Trigger, for example. But I direct this not only to design team and developers at Sparkypants, but to each of you reading this. First of all, thanks for making it to the end. I hope I didn't cause ya to fall asleep. I also hope that what you read helped you understand that not all of the enjoyable things are really good for the game and that, vice versa, there are still tons more enjoyable things to TESL that we haven't gotten yet. I don't expect for you to agree with all that I have written here - we're all humans (hopefully) and we're going to have our different points of view and different preferences. I encourage you to discuss things in the comments, for fruitful conversations help immensely in more means than one. If you come up with an idea to fix things better - post it! Sparkypants devs have been reading our feedback much more often than Direwolf devs and we should seize the opportunity to hopefully change the game for the better. In the end, if you've made it to the end, I'm rather certain that you do love this game. If a piece that takes almost the entirety of symbols on reddit is any indication, so do I. Regardless of how cheesy it sounds, this love for the game and this passion is what will make the game a better experience, and, eventually, us - better players. Whether you're a fun-loving person who cherishes all of the huge flashy plays above everything else (Timmy), a guy/gal whose primary interests lie in deconstructing the game's interactions and trying to discover more of the interesting combinations, treating the game like a box of Legos (Johnny) or you want to be the very best at everything the game offers and for your game sense and game knowledge to thrive (Spike), in the end we're all a part of this big family. thanks and goodbye
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Team Name: Dallas Mavericks Subreddit: /Mavericks, home of the only coach and player to beat the LeBron-era Heat in a series Arena: American Airlines Center Attendance: #2 in the league for 2012-2013 (104.4% home attendance) source
1 in the league from 2010-2013 (104.8% capacity over that time period)source
h/t to all my fellow #MFFL (Mavs Fans For Life) that support the team year in and year out. Division: Southwest Division (Western Conference) Rivals: San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, possibly OKC Thunder Franchise Regular Season Record: 1341-1317 (.505) 2012-2013 Regular Season Record: 41-41, 4th in Southwest Division, 10th in Western Conference Franchise Playoff Record: 86-93: 18 playoff appearances, 4 Western Conference Finals appearances (1987-88, 2002-2003, 2005-2006, 2010-2011), 2 NBA Finals appearances (2005-2006, 2010-2011), 1 NBA Finals Championship (2010-2011) 2012-2013 Playoff Record: N/A GM: Gersson Rosas (a recent addition from the vaunted Houston Rockets front office, thanks Daryl) Coach: Rick CarlisleJim CarreyRick Carlisle 2012-2013
State with the Team
Darren Michael Collison
No longer with team (departed via FA to LA Clippers)
Ovinton J'Anthony "O.J." Mayo
No longer with team (departed via FA to Milwaukee Bucks)
Almighty Shot Creator, Our Lord and Savior, Franchise Redeemer
No longer with team (departed via FA to LA Lakers)
Surprise Sixth Man of the Year candidate, still with the team
Still with the team; just re-signed 2-yea$10 million contract
Still with the team
Still with the team
Merked benches (i.e. 2012-2013 Mavs bench players no longer with the crew)
Placed on paid administrative leave in Dallas for 24 games last year, now re-signed to 1-year deal in OKC
Second to sharpshooter Jin-Hui Ding, the most pivotal member of the middling Zhejiang Golden Bulls
Traded to the Hawks in February for Anthony Morrow
Departed via FA to Atlanta Hawks New Orleans Pelicans
Mavs did not offer to re-sign, left via FA to Atlanta Hawks
Mavs did not offer to re-sign, now wandering the FA market, hopefully with a doctor's supervision
Mavs did not offer to renew 10-day contract
General Team Statistics
Advanced Team Statistics
Current Era Recap The Mavericks are a franchise that has been spoiled by success over the course of the recent decade. The franchise was founded in 1980 by Don Carter. The Mavericks three eras can be most aptly defined as follows: a period of semi-relevance and dark-horse playoff contention from 1983-1990 (the highlight of which was Dallas taking the "Showtime" Lakers to seven games in the Western Conference Finals in the 1987-88 season), a miserable period of irrelevance from 1990-2000 in which the team failed to make the playoffs even once (reaching an historic low point in 1992 under Richie Adubato in which they opened the season 2-27), and finally; the Mark Cuban/Dirk Nowitzki era (from 2000 until today). During this recent stretch, the Mavericks have qualified for the playoffs in every season but one (which was last year). The three head coaches during this time period were Don Nelson (no defense), Avery Johnson (too much defense), and Rick Carlisle (just right). 2012-2013 Season Recap 2012-2013 Starting Lineup - skip to 2:00
This was a particularly painful season for Mavs fans for a couple of reasons; chief among them being injuries to crucial players. By now everyone is probably familiar with the knee issues Dirk had last year to start the season (he missed the first 27 games due to arthroscopic surgery and recovery).
As always, with an injury of that nature and a player of Dirk's age - even a typically healthy one, he is an iron man as far as veterans are concerned - there is a lengthy reincorporation process for the player to get acclimated to playing at game speed and being in game shape.
This problem was exacerbated by the fact that Dirk was surrounded by an entirely new group of players and playstyles that he was forced to adjust to on the fly. Dirk is one of the smartest and most savvy players in the league, and surprisingly he was able to make it work to a significant extent (the Mavericks finished the season 28-18; beating the Nuggets, Bulls, Clippers, Hawks, Rockets(2x), Nets, Warriors and Grizzlies during the aforementioned span).
Marion also missed 15 games including a brutal stretch of eight games down the home stretch in mid-March when we were still clawing for that 8th seed.
Of course, the second reason the season was painful was that we didn't make the playoffs, as is evident at the top of the post. Last season marked the first time since 2000 that we had missed out on the postseason - and while we consoled ourselves with the fact that our team was able to remain so competitive despite being so utterly devoid of talent and cohesion, it was of little comfort to a franchise accustomed to success.
Although Dirk has labored (and triumphed, mind you) with supporting casts that are downright laughable in comparison to the murderer's row trotted out by the likes of Miami (and the Clippers/Nets it seems this year), last year's squad was particularly pathetic. Because the Mavs were trying to save up cap space for a marquee free agent like Dwight Howard (oops...), and the front office was unwilling to pay nine figures in luxury taxes (unlike Brooklyn), the team was almost entirely composed of players signed to 1-year deals (Collison, Brand, Kaman) or 2-year deals with player options for the second year (Mayo).
Playoffs Playoffs? Ah, but alas, a new day is upon us! Let us set gaze to brighter future, and see glory brought to this house once again. Batiatus! Let's go Mavs! 2013-2014 There's been a TON of activity on this front for the Mavericks - it's been a busy offseason to say the least. But let's start with the draft. Dallas had the 13th pick in this year's NBA Draft. They pulled off a trade with the Celtics to move down to 16 and then a subsequent trade with the Hawks to move down to 18. They also acquired Milwaukee’s 43rd pick via trade with Atlanta. Here’s who they got.
University of Miami
Larkin was the Co-ACC Conference Player of the Year. He also won the Lute Olson Award in addition to being an AP Second Team All-American. Unfortunately, he messed up (read: broke) his ankle during summer ball and will be sidelined for another 8 weeks or so. Chad Ford's Take: The Mavs were looking for a point guard with Darren Collison heading into free agency. Larkin is small, but he's an elite athlete, plays the pick-and-roll very well and can really shoot the ball. If he were a little bigger or longer, he would've gone much higher. He's a solid pick here for the Mavs. The second pick of the draft for the Mavs was:
Ledo was initially taken by the Milwaukee Bucks with the 43rd pick. This pick was traded to the Hawks, who then traded the pick to the Mavericks in return for Brooklyn's 2014 second-rounder (which Dallas acquired from Boston earlier in the draft) and the rights to Mike Muscala out of Bucknell (whom Dallas drafted on behalf of Atlanta). His biggest knock is that he's had some significant character issues. Chad Ford's Take: Ledo has top-10 talent. He's a scoring machine who can really shoot the ball. He slipped after missing the season because the NCAA declared him academically ineligible in addition to numerous off-court issues. If the [Mavs] can rehabilitate him, he has a chance to be this year's Lance Stephenson. In the past, the Mavericks have typically sold draft picks at fire sale rates in order to lubricate transactions for veteran role players. But it seems like the front office's approach to the draft is evolving under the specter of the new collective bargaining agreement. I'm really excited about Ledo. He's a 6-6, 200 pound pure athlete who can score at will. If Carlisle can get him to apply himself and buy into the system he would be an absolute theft of a selection. Now let's get into the free agent market! (Part 2 in comments, Part 3 in comments Part 3 posted here!) Part 3 OF 30 TEAMS IN 30 DAYS Monta's Miscellany Here are my favorite Mav gifs, videos, and whatnot. Jason Terry is not pleased Shawn Marion likes what he sees Dirk does the German boogie Delonte West bullies Gordon Hayward for playing Starcraft Monta Ellis killer handshake Finally, Dirk is a champion Dirk and Nash are best buds - video Take Dat wit chew - Championship edition Take dat wit chew - DJ Steve Porter Remix Rick Rolled MUST WATCH - MONTA ELLIS HAVE IT ALL Nicknames Dirk Nowitzki: The Dunking Deutschman, The Wurzburg Wunderkind, Ghostface Drillah, Dirty Dirk, Dirk Diggler, D Boy Get Money (heard at a bar in 2011), Ze German Monta Ellis: George Zimmerman Shawn Marion: Matrix, Trix Samuel Dalembert: The Haitian Sensation Drinking games Drink every time:
Dirk makes an off-balance fadeaway.
Monta Ellis misses a contested jumper.
Monta Ellis misses an open jumper.
Shawn Marion makes a shot AND your face is one of bewilderment (this will happen often).
Well, that's all I've got folks. I appreciate any and all feedback! EDIT 1: Formatting derp EDIT 2:ad925 pointed out that Morrow went to the Pelicans! Thanks! EDIT 3:OneRandomDude pointed out the greatest Mavs video ever, Dirk "The German Moses" Nowitzki! EDIT 4:leaffan_digger added that I should post the Mavs rivals, so I have. EDIT 5:tornado_watch reminded me of a great post by Mark Cuban about the direction and soul of our team, I have included it here.
On May 30, 2012, Cal FC shook up the American soccer world. A 5th-tier amateur side from Thousand Oaks, California, Cal FC was a team of pro castoffs deemed not good enough, described by manager Eric Wynalda as a collection of "yeahbuts":
“I’d try to help some of these guys find a (pro) club,” Wynalda said. “It was always the same thing. You talk to a club about them and they pick them apart, tell you everything that’s wrong with them. It’s one big excuse factory why they’re not good enough. It was always, ‘Yeah but.’ “I just got tired of it. I was like, these guys are good enough. About two or three months ago, I just said screw it.”
And with its attitude in place, Cal FC qualified for the U.S. Open Cup, proceeding to trounce PDL champs Kitsap Pumas 3-1 and USL PRO runners-up Wilmington Hammerheads 4-0 before sealing a 1-0 victory over the Portland Timbers in what was one of the most monumental upsets in American soccer's recent memory. Although Cal FC eventually crashed out to Seattle in a 5-0 defeat, its legacy had been confirmed. But what happened to all those rejects, those "yeahbut" players? Nearly three years on, I went back to explore the tales of each player on Cal FC's squad that beat the Portland Timbers. Eric Wynalda (Manager) Then Much like the members of his team, Wynalda had suffered rejections of his own, turned down for head coaching gigs by the Chicago Fire and Chivas USA. At the time, Wynalda co-hosted Fox Football Fone-In with his assistant coach, Nick Webster. Now Shortly after his Cal FC stint, Wynalda was brought on as the interim manager for an Atlanta Silverbacks team that had only gained eight points from its first 14 NASL matches. Using the opportunity to bring on a handful of his Cal FC companions, Wynalda led the team to 22 points from its next 14, and remained on as the technical director once a new coach was hired in 2013. In 2014, Wynalda was given another chance to coach the Silverbacks, but chose to do so in a limited capacity, often interrupted by his work for FOX Soccer. After gaining only 10 points in the nine-game Spring Season, Wynalda resigned. His departure, however, didn't help the club, which fared worse in the Fall Season and ended up last in the NASL. Today, Wynalda works as a full-time analyst for Fox Sports One’s Fox Soccer Daily. Derby Carrillo (GK), 27 Then Cut by Seattle, Carrillo mustered six appearances for FC New York of the USL PRO in 2011. Against Portland, Carrillo endured an onslaught of shots and kept Cal FC in the game with his performance. Now Following the tournament, Carrillo was signed by Salvadoran side Santa Tecla FC, and played there for two years. In 2014, he came to Atlanta on a short-term deal, but eventually returned to Santa Tecla. Carrillo's play opened up an opportunity for him with the El Salvador national team, on which he has now made several appearances. Jesus Gonzalez (DF), 23 Then Gonzalez played with the U.S. youth setup and for Mt. San Antonio College. He trialed with both Portland and Seattle, but was cut each time. Now Gonzalez signed with the Atlanta Silverbacks in 2013 and made regular appearances over two seasons. He became a free agent at the end of the 2014 season. Beto Navarro (DF), 25 Then After graduating from CSU Bakersfield, Navarro made sporadic appearances at Fresno Fuego in the PDL. Now Navarro was signed by Wynalda after he came to the Silverbacks, and ended up playing there for two years before FC Edmonton bought him midway through last season. Mike Randolph (DF), 29 Then At 26 years old, Mike Randolph was the oldest member of the bunch for Cal FC. He had 39 appearances for the L.A. Galaxy from 2006-2008, but was released, jumping around from Miami FC to the L.A. Blues and finally to the Ventura County Fusion in early 2012 for a one-game stint. Now Randolph was signed to Atlanta by Wynalda later in 2012, and quickly established himself as a leader on the team. He assumed the captain's armband for the 2014 season, and following the conclusion of the season, was signed by Ottawa Fury FC on Jan. 14. Hector Espinoza (DF), 23 Then Espinoza played at Santa Ana Community College from 2010 to 2011. Now After finishing his senior year as a defender at Concordia University Irvine in 2014, Espinoza may seek out a professional team or follow a different career path. Richard Menjivar (MF), 24 Then Menjivar played for CSU Bakersfield and saw a little action with U.S. and El Salvador youth teams, but hadn't signed a professional contract. Now Cal FC's Open Cup run paved the way for Menjivar to sign with Jammerbugt FC in Denmark, where he played a season before being picked up by Atlanta in 2013. With the Silverbacks, he made the NASL Best XI and was acquired by the San Antonio Scorpions prior to the 2014 season. Menjivar has also broken into the El Salvador national team picture, garnering 18 appearances since his debut in 2013. Eder Arreola (MF), 23 Then Arreola, another U.S. youth product, was selected by the Houston Dynamo in January 2012 during the MLS Supplemental Draft, but was cut from the team. Now Arreola moved on to Delfines FC (Ascenso MX) in 2012-2013, and played for the L.A. Galaxy II in 2014. From the looks of it, he is set to receive his UCLA diploma in the coming months. Pablo Cruz (MF), 23 Then Prior to his Cal FC experience, Cruz had played on a U.S. U-17 team in 2007-08, but hadn't signed with any professional team. Now Picked up in 2012 by the Atlanta Silverbacks, Cruz has become one of the rocks of the team, and is currently its longest-serving member. Diego Barrera (MF), 27 Then The elder of the Barrera brothers had struggled to fit in, going on European trials and bouncing around lower-division teams, including some games with the Wilmington Hammerheads in 2011. In the Cup, he turned heads by notching two assists against his former team during Round Two. Now Barrera took his trade to the Philippines, and has played with three clubs there, enjoying a good amount of success. He won a league title with Stallion FC in his first season and has carved out an enviable collection of goals. Currently, Barrera is plying his trade with Kaya FC. Danny Barrera (FW), 25 Then Like his brother, Danny Barrera saw time in the lower leagues (Ventura County Fusion) and tried out FK Spartak Zlatibor Voda in Serbia without resounding success. However, Barrera's performance in the Open Cup was outstanding. He scored twice in both the first and second match, earning himself the TheCup.us Player of the Round award both times. In Portland, his ball up to Artur Aghasyan in extra time became the match-winning assist. Now Barrera was yet another player brought on by Eric Wynalda at Atlanta in 2012. After a successful run, he transferred to San Antonio in 2014 and was traded to Carolina for César Elizondo halfway through the season. Carolina declined Barrera's option at the end of 2014. Artur Aghasyan (FW), 27 Then Aghasyan had trials with Real Salt Lake and Chivas USA, and played four games with RSL in 2011 before being cut. Aghasyan scored three goals in the 2012 U.S. Open Cup, immortalizing himself with the 95th minute winner that took down Portland. Then Aghasyan had a second stint with the Ventura County Fusion in 2013, but hasn't played recently. Now, he's coaching the Glendale High School (CA) men’s soccer team. Bench Cesar Rivera (MF), 28 Then Released by the L.A. Blues after the 2011 season, Rivera found a home with the L.A. Misioneros in 2012. He came on for Arreola as a substitute for Cal FC against Portland. Now Rivera continued with the Misioneros through 2013, eventually signing with the Blues' new iteration, Orange County, in 2014. Alex Caceres (MF), 27 Then Caceres played for the Fresno Fuego in 2012. He came on as a substitute for Diego Barrera against Portland. Now After spending some more time with Fresno, Caceres was signed by the Atlanta Silverbacks in 2013. Currently, he's playing indoor with the MASL's Monterrey Flash. Paulo Ferreira-Mendes (MF), 24 Then Mendes had experience with the Rhode Island Reds in the NPSL. He was subbed on for Cruz at 72’. Now Mendes was brought into Atlanta in 2012, then spent 2013-2014 with the New York Cosmos. The Cosmos cut ties with him midway through last year, and he re-signed with Atlanta in September, but had problems with his International Transfer Certificate and didn't play. Currently, he is presumed to be a free agent. Pedro Ferreira-Mendes (MF), 24 Then Pedro Mendes played alongside his brother with the Rhode Island Reds. He scored one goal for Cal FC in the Open Cup. Now Signed by Atlanta in 2012, Mendes played two seasons for the Silverbacks before moving to Indy Eleven in 2014. Unable to find a foothold, he transferred to Minnesota United midway through the season, and made just one substitute appearance before having his option declined at the end of the year. Jordan King (GK), 28 Then King attended UC Riverside in mid-2000s, trialed with Seattle in 2009, and played for Ventura County Fusion that same year. Now In 2012, he was listed as a L.A. Galaxy Reserves guest player. Currently, he doesn't appear to be with a club. Michael Rocha (DF), 26 Then Rocha played at San Diego State University, graduating after the 2010 season. Now Rocha returned to Cal FC for its 2014 U.S. Open Cup run along with Makai Werring. Makai Werring (DF), 28 Then Werring trialed with the Kansas City Wizards in 2010. Now Werring paired up with Rocha during Cal FC's 2014 Open Cup campaign, in which they were beaten 6-1 by the L.A. Galaxy II in the second round after failing to obtain a number of International Transfer clearances in time for the game. He's currently the men's soccer head coach at Oak Park High School in Ventura County.
“There's no better way to overpower a trickle of doubt than with a flood of naked truth” - A preview of the St Kilda Football Club’s 2016 season
St Kilda Football Club - 2016 Preview /StKilda | Official Website Fortius Quo Fidelius ("Strength through loyalty") Premierships (1): 1966 Grand Finals (7): 1913, 1965, 1966, 1971, 1997, 2009, 2010 Finalists (26): 1907, 1908, 1913, 1918, 1929, 1939, 1961, 1963, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1991, 1992, 1997, 1998, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 Wooden Spoons (27): Get Fucked Club Summary “Every Tuesday I sit down with the CEO and the Football Manager to discuss the season's agenda. Well, discuss is probably the wrong word. They talk while I sit quietly and imagine their lightly salted faces frying in a skillet.” Captain: Nick Riewoldt Coach: Alan Richardson CEO: Matt Finnis President: Peter Summers Assistant Coaches: Danny Sexton (Director of Coaching & Strategy), Rohan Welsh (Defence), Adam Kingsley (Midfield), Aaron Hamill (Forwards), Adam Skrobalak (Ruck; part-time), Danny Frawley (Specialist Defence Coach; part-time). 2015 in Review 14th: 6 wins - 15 loses - 1 draw @ 78.4 Trevor Barker Medal:Jack Steven (2nd) Best Clubman Award:Jarryn Geary Best Emerging Player:Jack Lonie Player Trademark Award:Maverick Weller Leading Goal Kicker:Josh Bruce (50) 2015 Brought a host of experts predicting another dire year for the Saints, with some even predicting a winless season, and as BT would put it ‘Boy oh Boy’ they were wrong. Lead by the emergence of Josh Bruce, David Armitage and Jack Steven the Saints won 6 games, However more importantly were much more competitive against the best teams in the league. Unfortunately big losses to Carlton, West Coast and Sydney showed we have a lot of work to do Season Highlights Round 6 vs Western Bulldogs WB 13.9 (87) def by St Kilda 14.10 (94) Easily the craziest game of football I’ve ever seen, saw the Saints dominated by the Dogs for the whole first half. Until a 2nd half resurgence lead by 4 goals from Billings saw St Kilda come back from 55 points down to win. Round 11 vs Melbourne St Kilda 12.13 (85) d Melbourne 12.11(83) While not the best quality game of the season this game was particularly entertaining with an amazingly tight last quarter where neither team could score until the last minute when a late Jeremy Howe goal put Melbourne ahead, only for Steven and Montagna to perform an amazing game winning goal with 11 seconds left List Changes “There are two kinds of pain. The sort of pain that makes you strong. Or useless pain. The sort of pain that's only suffering. I have no patience for useless things. Moments like this require someone who will act. To do the unpleasant thing. The necessary thing... [puts the player out of his misery] There, no more pain.”
Jake Carlisle & Pick #14
Pick #5 & Pick #24
Nathan Freeman & Pick #68
2016 2nd round pick & Pick #63
2015 NATIONAL DRAFT
Albury Football Club
2016 Preview "For those of us climbing to the top of the food chain, there can be no mercy. There is but one rule: Hunt or be hunted." 2016 will mark another year of development for the St Kilda football club, Where we hope the young stars of the future will begin to take a greater control of the team from the veterans. We will likely see all three national draft selections make their debuts Our midfield will be lead again by the core group of Armitage, Steven, Dunstan and Weller with Billings, Lonie and Sinclair beginning to spend more time in the Middle Our Defence will be lead by Veterans Fisher and Dempster. Young Hugh Goddard should see a lot of action with Carlisle missing this year. Don’t be surprised to see Tom Lee thrown into the back line in 2016 Our Forward line will be led by Riewoldt Bruce. He is Love, he is Life. He will hopefully have support from, Billings, Ross, Lonie and Sinclair, with McCartin hopefully to have a solid second season. What we should expect to see is Riewoldt spending less time in the forward line and pushing up the ground more. Giving McCartin and Bruce more time to control the forward line Senior List “You may have all the money, Eddie, but I have all the accurate full forwards”
Players to Watch
Darren Minchington - Picked up in 2012 as a rookie, Darren has come a long way, at his best he can be a line breaking, damaging half forward. Unfortunately he has found himself somewhat down the pecking order, last year he was competing with; Billings, Sinclair, Lonie, Membrey & others for a spot in the team, with the inclusion of J. Gresham & N. Freeman this year looks to be no simpler.
Patrick McCartin - How will last years number one pick adapt to AFL football after his first season? With Riewoldt likely to be spending more time on the wing and in the middle, look to see McCartin get more time and freedom inside the forward 50. Nathan Freeman - The only top 10 pick from the 2013 draft who is yet to make his debut due to injuries. He looked to leave Collingwood for a fresh start. A Jet when healthy, he will be sure to add some much needed outside speed to the Saints midfield Jake Carlisle - The Saints big recruit for 2015 got off to a poor start with a poorly timed line of coke, Hopefully with a big preseason he can atone for his sins and join the team in time for his club debut in round 3 What's next? Snap chatting himself doing lines of coke off of a burning drawf highschooler? Players on notice “Nobody’s a Boy Scout. Not even Boy Scouts”
Tom Lee - Not sure he has the talent / body to make it, he'll need one helluva year to stay on IMO. Luke Delaney - Probably safe on the basis that Fisher will probably retire at the end of the year and we'd be screw'd if one of Goddard or Carlisle goes down.
Darren Minchinton - Can turn the game on his head when he’s playing well, but also can never seem to get some consistent form, He needs to play so consistant footy or he’ll find himself as trade bait
Nousernames-left “I'm not going to lie. I despise Snapchat. There. I've said it.”
Jake Carlisle - goes without saying. You fuck up, you fuck off.
meatpie_lover Best 22 “I love this team. I love them more than sharks love blood” FB: Dempster, Fisher, Geary HB: Savage, Goddard, Webster C:Montagna, Ross, Newnes HF Sinclair, Riewoldt, Membery FF Lonie, Bruce, McCartin Foll Longer, Steven, Armitage I/C Billings, Gilbert, Dunstan, Weller Expectations for 2016 "When you've been in the wasteland as long as I have, you become immune to flattery"
Winning all the winnable games. We should put away Carlton, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Essendon and probably Melbourne. Mixing it with the middle of the pack otherwise
Being competitive for the whole games, no blowouts and Improved accuracy when goal kicking
-Nousermanes-left Concerns for 2016 “Love of the club: most footballers are permanently chained to that slogan, club loyalty. But when you cozy up to opposition clubs and I find out, I will make that hypocrisy hurt.” Goal Kicking - Countless times last year the Saints kicked themselves out of games, this needs to change if we want to be serious in pushing for finals and winning close games. Midfielders - Too many times in 2014 when Steven or Armitage were taken out of the game via a tag, we struggled to get the ball forward and keep it there. we need to now if our current midfielders have the ability to hold their own against other strong midfields “Dodoro and I have a good working relationship. Or used to. You can see he has a temper, but I can usually cut through that and reason with him. But I may have pushed him too far, which is worrisome. Friends make the worst enemies.” Jake Carlisle - This trade can have a massive impact on the club. In particular how Jake Carlisle commits to this year off. There are two ways this could go, either he can enjoy the time off with a snapchat world tour in which he tests Coke from all around the world and he never plays a game for St Kilda. Or he works hard, keeps his nose clean literally and St Kilda get the defender we need while not paying him anywhere near as much as we first were. Josh Bruce's Haircuts The Normal The Debut The Glorious Man Bun 2016options Pass Mark "Melbourne is blocking my way. Gold Coast at my heels. There can be no false steps now. The higher up the mountain, the more treacherous the path"
12-14. We've recruited carefully, got another pre-season into our young stars and should expect the improvement to continue. Getting 10/11 by season's end would take a fair bit of luck, so 12 is a good target.
It's five days after Christmas Day, 1986. Swift Current, Saskatchewan is exactly as you would expect on that day - cold, grey and kind of dreary. Freezing rain is in the forecast, along with the strong winds that Prairie residents have spent their whole lives fighting. A bus full of hockey players is setting off from the town's main arena, the Centennial Civic Centre. The bus makes a left, makes a right, gets onto the Trans-Canada Highway toward Regina. The players are members of the town's local junior team, the Broncos. Later that night, they'll suit up against the Pats. There's a right curve on the highway out of town that takes you on an overpass over the Canadian Pacific Railway. On this December day, the freezing rain and cold conditions turned that overpass into an icy slip and slide, causing vehicles to carom everywhere. The bus is travelling well below the speed limit when it first hits that icy patch. The bus starts skidding and driver Dave Archibald can't regain control. The bus is heading for an embankment. Archibald can't save it. He turns and yells out, “Hang on!”. The 1986-87 season was meant to be a celebratory one for Swift Current hockey fans. The city would, finally, have a major junior hockey team again. The Lethbridge Broncos were moving to town. The problems started after the announcement. Several Lethbridge veterans refused to move or play in a town as small as Swift Current, which boasts around 15,000 people. Once deals were made, the key players were chosen. Forward Warren Babe was supposed to help score, but he flamed out and was traded. That left the door open for others, younger players who were hungry and had something to prove. Two of the younger players hoping to prove they belong were Trent Kresse and Scott Kruger. For Kruger, the Broncos were a family affair. Kruger was born and raised in Swift. His younger brothers, twins Trevor and Darren, were both Broncos prospects, with Trevor playing as the team's backup goalie. His uncle Lorne Frey was the assistant coach. His mother, a local character everyone called “Fanner”, followed the team on road trips and never missed a game in Swift. Kruger even played for Swift Current's old Junior A team, the Indians, two years before, chalking up almost two assists a game. Kresse was an older player, more experienced. The offseason before heading to Swift, he proposed to his girlfriend. They were planning a wedding for after the season ended. One key figure, Kurt Lackten, was trying to make the best of a bad situation. When several of the Broncos' skilled older players demanded trades, some were dealt to the Calgary Wranglers. Lackten got send to Swift in the trade. A late round NHL draft pick, Lackten wanted to make his name in the junior ranks with a tough, two-way game. He became the team's captain quickly. Another pair of skaters, Sheldon Kennedy and Joe Sakic, were both very young but showed great promise. Sakic, a skinny kid from Vancouver, was hoping to break out in his new home, while Kennedy was a player known to hockey fans in the region from his time with the Moose Jaw Warriors, only an hour down the Trans-Canada. Kennedy's coach in Moose Jaw, Graham James, took a job with the Broncos as their head coach and GM. James instituted a fast-paced, skill-heavy game that gave his top players – including Kresse, Kruger, Sakic and Kennedy – room to breathe. That system relied on a key element of 1980's junior hockey – the enforcer. Chris Mantyka, a tough kid with a goatee from Saskatoon, took that role and ran with it. Another player, Brent Ruff, the youngest son of a hockey family that included his brother Lindy, cut his teeth by playing fourth-line minutes and digging in the corners. The team came together over the first 36 games and went their separate ways for Christmas. The game they were travelling to Regina for was their first one back. In any car accident, no matter how big or small, there's a few seconds of pause between when all the chaotic movement stops and survival instincts kick in. Everyone has the same reactions, more or less – being stunned, trying to regain equilibrium, not sure if you're upside down or not. The bus slid off the road and off the overpass after the bridge. After skidding on frozen grass, the bus hit an embankment and went flying through the air. It landed on its side, skidding to a stop in the ditch. The chaos stopped and, when the pause ended, the commotion really began. The first player to do anything was Lackten, who crawled out of his seat and yelled back to check who was alright. He instructed everyone to get out through the buses' windshield, cracked and destroyed in the wreck. Once everyone who could get out got out – including James, Archibald, and both Sakic and Kennedy – players did a head count to see if everyone had made it. They hadn't. The players fanned out to check the scene on Lackten's instruction. One player, Tim Tisdale, was stuck in his seat inside the bus with an injured back. They pulled him outside. A voice came from the distance. Two guys were in the ditch. Lackten and his teammates came running. Kresse and Kruger were in the ditch. They had been in the back, not wearing their seatbelts, and were thrown from the bus when it hit the embankment. Neither was breathing. Lackten tried CPR on both, but it was no use. Trent Kresse and Scott Kruger were both dead. Another voice came from the bus site. Someone had heard something. The crowd came running back to the bus and were greeted with a single, horrifying sentence. “Get the fucking bus off of me!” Chris Mantyka was pinned underneath. A few of the players tried to lift the bus. It didn't budge. Mantyka was bleeding heavily and gravely injured. He died while his teammates tried to free him. A number of motorists on the highway had pulled over to assess the situation. A few pulled U-turns and drove back to town to alert authorities. Truckers called for help on their CB radios. Some drivers took the uninjured drivers home before ambulances arrived. One player found a leg sticking out from underneath the bus. It was Ruff. The youngster had been playing cards in the back of the bus with Kresse, Kruger and Mantyka and was also pinned beneath the bus when it crashed. There was nothing anyone could do. In the space of ten minutes, the Swift Current Broncos went from preparing for a rivalry gameto seeing four of their teammates die in front of them. After the crash, a massive wake was planned in the team's Civic Centennial Centre. Planks of plywood were dropped over the ice to make room for thousands of chairs. The rink only officially holds 3,239 people with standing room, but you can bet more than twice as many people filed in to pay their respects. The Kruger family made it down, too. Fate struck them an even worse hand, as earlier that week, during a private memorial service for Scott, his great-grandfather dropped to his knees and suffered a massive heart attack. He died before he could be taken out of the church. Town officials and team organizers spoke to the throng about the four young men and who they were on and off the ice. Lackten, who had been so valiant in the moments after the crash, spoke to the crowd too, wearing his jersey with the captain's "C" on it. "We're gonna miss them very much," he said to the onlookers, choking back tears. There was a serious debate over whether the team should cancel the season after the accident. After all, how can you focus on hockey when you've just seen four of your closest friends die? The crash became a turning point for Graham James. Before the crash, he was seen as an oddball, a hockey outcast who would maybe amount to being an average coach, nothing more. His actions after the accident had serious short and long-term effects. Coach James held a player meeting in the dressing room. He asked all the team's players, one-by-one, whether they wanted to continue playing. Maybe they were still shaken up, maybe they were wanting to do what they felt honoured the four best, maybe they were intimidated by the coach asking them in front of all their teammates. Each player voted to keep playing. The team remained in lockstep in all decisions, most of which James himself played a big role in. Other teams offered to loan the Broncos players, but James refused the charity, instead calling up four players which the team had cut earlier in the season. The team's practice and game schedules were unchanged. Another curious red flag was how James handled the idea of player counselling. When the coach was offered team counselling sessions for his players, he rejected the idea immediately. He said the team could handle the tragedy internally and didn't need a lot of psychologists poking around and asking the players tough questions. Whatever the reasons were for James' decisions, the team somehow thrived. Sakic played like a man possessed after the crash, showing all the signs of the player he'd later become in Colorado. He won the WHL's Rookie of the Year award and was named his division's Player of the Year – an award that was renamed the Four Broncos Trophy after his fallen teammates. Lackten anchored the team with his gritty two-way play, and Kennedy ended the season just as hot as Sakic. Despite every conceivable odd stacked against the Swift Current Broncos, the team made the playoffs. The run didn't last very long – the Medicine Hat Tigers, also not far down the road from Swift, swept the Broncos in the first round, but it almost didn't matter. Somehow the team had salvaged a bright future from the darkest pit possible. During the 1987-88 season, the Broncos were almost a team of destiny. Sakic and Kennedy led the team's top line with Peter Soberlak, a lanky scoring machine who also kicked his way through the windshield on that fateful day. Rock-solid defenseman Dan Lambert, who was playing at the World Juniors at the time of the crash, stayed on defence and formed the top pair with Bob Wilkie. Following in his footsteps, both Sakic and Kennedy played in that year's World Junior tournament. Both of Scott Kruger's younger brothers, Trevor and Darren, both took regular shifts. Trevor became the team's starting goalie, while Darren became a one-man power-play wrecking crew on defence. Sakic brought the team a little gift from the West Coast – his younger brother Brian, who became a key player himself. Joe, to the surprise of almost nobody, exploded again on offence, leading the WHL in scoring and getting both WHL and CHL player of the year honours. The Broncos made it back into the playoffs, beat the Regina Pats 3-1 in the first round, but lost out to the Saskatoon Blades in the second round. In 1988-89, Joe Sakic had left for Quebec, but Brian was still there, along with most of the cast from the season previous. A new hero emerged to help the team's cause. Tim Tisdale, the boy from Shaunavon who grew up playing in Swift, who had hurt his back in the crash and underwent vertebrae fusion surgery afterwards, took Joe's spot and ran with it. Peter Kasowski, a top playmaker, emerged as a threat. The Broncos packed the Civic Centennial Centre again, this time for happier reasons – they were unstoppable. By the time the season ended, the Broncos were tops in the league, 25 points clear of any other team. The team ran train on other sides in the playoffs, sweeping Moose Jaw in the first round and sweeping Saskatoon in the second. In the finals, Swift Current played Portland, but they weren't a capable challenge. They got swept, too. The Swift Current Broncos won the WHL title without losing any games, a feat that had never been done before. In two and a half years, the Swift Current Broncos went from rock bottom to cloud nine and a Memorial Cup berth. In 1989, the Memorial Cup was not that far from Swift Current, about a five-hour bus ride away in Saskatoon in the brand new Saskatchewan Place. Swift and S'toon would both play, along with the Peterborough Petes and the Laval Titan. Swift Current ran through both outside teams, beating the Petes 6-4 and Laval 6-5. However, the Broncos were upset by the Blades 5-4, weeks after sweeping them in the second round handily. The fastest team in the west would need to earn their spot in the finals the hard way, facing the Petes again in a win-or-go-home semi-final. They advanced easily with a 6-2 win. The final would be a good-ol'-fashioned Sask showdown. North vs. South. City vs. country. Underdog vs. juggernaut. SaskPlace was packed. CTV affiliates showed the game on their air instead of the evening news. People packed into living rooms and basements, gathering around big wood-panel TVs to watch the big game. The Broncos struck first with Sheldon Kennedy finding twine. Later, Blake Knox made it 2-0 Swift Current. Then, things shifted. The Blades scored one goal, then added another one and fired one more past Trevor Kruger, giving Saskatoon a 3-2 lead. The Blades, on home ice with a friendly crowd, smelled blood. A Blades victory was coming closer until a breakaway in the 3rd period. Rookie Kimbi Daniels and Kennedy went in deep. Daniels swatted one past Blade goalie Mike Greenlay and tied the game up. The game was tied after 60 minutes. Overtime commenced. The Blades went right back to smelling blood. They brought the puck into the Swift Current zone and fired a shot off on Trevor Kruger. Saved. A rebound. Saved. The puck swung out again. Another save. Another one. Another one. Kruger made five saves in just under three minutes. Finally, Swift cleared the zone. Darren Kruger took the puck through the neutral zone. He faked toward the slot, then cut fast to the outside, leaving a defenseman sprawling. Heading into the corner, Kruger was running out of options and had to ditch the puck off. Kennedy was coming in front, with a defender draped on him. Greenlay was watching closely. Behind everybody, Tim Tisdale was standing with his stick down on the far end of the crease. Kruger knew he'd have a hard time finding Tisdale, but if he could thread the needle and get the puck past three people, there'd be a sure goal. Kruger rolled the dice and passed. The puck went just off the ice. The defender didn't see it. It whizzed past Greenlay. It ended up on Tisdale's stick. Open net. Tap in. Goal. Red light. Green light. Get the trophy. Swift Current was the officially the best junior team in the world. The crowd went nuts. The players collapsed with relief and joy. Fans in rec rooms across Saskatchewan either jumped for joy or crumpled into the couch. The trophy was awarded to the team, but after the high of the goal wore off and the awards were given out, the team was wiped, even sombre - almost as if they knew four guys should have been there with them. Turns out, for at least one player on the team, there was another reason to be dour in victory. One of the awards doled out afterwards was given out by hockey's newspaper of record, the Hockey News. It was given to Graham James. The plaque he was given had four words in black text on it - “MAN OF THE YEAR”. NHL teams were knocking, but James, ever the situational hard-ass, stayed in the town they call “Speedy Creek.” It could have been happily ever after for him, becoming one of those small-town hockey institutions – the guy who coached for forty years, won titles, brought up the local kids and sent them to the big time. It wasn't like that. It would never be like that. Throughout his tenure as a coach, even back in Moose Jaw, there had been whispers about James' personal proclivities. No proof, mind you, just chatter. Opposing fans who knew bits and pieces – that James could be abuse, had a tumultuous personal life, oddly close relationships with current and past players – would target James and his players with taunts on the ice. Some fans chanted “James' buttboys” at the Broncos during road games. One of the players who got this treatment the most was Sheldon Kennedy. His path through hockey was intertwined with James, ever since James first found him at a hockey camp when he was 14. It was James that signed him up with the Warriors, and who specifically picked him out when he was hired with the Broncos. Kennedy left Swift for the Red Wings system after the Memorial Cup win, heading into the farm system. He began drinking heavily, was often injured, started falling into stronger and stronger substances. Gradually, his professional career, one that was chock-full of potential, fell apart. In 1996, seven years after his moment of glory in Saskatoon, Sheldon Kennedy told the public why things fell apart – that Graham James, the “Man of the Year” and junior hockey juggernaut, had repeatedly raped and abused him, and others, for years. We now know that Sheldon Kennedy wasn't James' only victim. James had been abusing kids for years before he ever set foot on the Broncos' bench. In his early days as a substitute teacher in Winnipeg – a job that he got after apparently lying about having a teaching degree – James was in contact with children constantly. When he started coaching hockey in 1979, James' documented instances of abuse began, repeatedly abusing player Greg Gilhooly. Once he saw Kennedy and his friend Theoren Fleury at that hockey camp, James brought both boys under his wing. He began grooming them young, saying they could become massive stars if they did everything he said. The requests got more and more intimate, and James got more and more intimidating, threatening to end the boys' careers if they stopped or told anyone. When James became coach and GM of the Moose Jaw Warriors, he signed both Kennedy and Fleury, not solely because they were great players, but for his own twisted purposes. Fleury stayed in Moose Jaw when James left, but when Kennedy was sent to Swift, the abuse continued. His teammates began noticing something was off. Before the crash and his death, Scott Kruger allegedly mentioned to his mother that he was very suspicious of his coach. Another player who joined the Broncos after the Cup win, Todd Holt – coincidentally a cousin of Fleury – was also abused in Swift. Those four names – Gilhooly, Kennedy, Fleury and Holt – are the four victims we know about. James has pled guilty to literally hundreds of instances of abuse. Two other victims have come forward but refused to give their names. There could be much more. After his first prison sentence for his actions toward Kennedy was done, James – under a different name – was running youth hockey camps abroad. There's no telling what horror he got up to there, or in the Winnipeg education system. The Broncos still play at the Civic Centennial Centre today. It's been renamed after a corporate sponsor – it's now the Credit Union iPlex – and the team hasn't returned to its previous highs or lows since. The players have moved on to new lives – Kurt Lackten now flies planes for Hawaiian Airlines, while Sakic works with the Colorado Avalanche as their GM. Tim Tisdale, the Memorial Cup hero, still lives in Swift Current and goes to Broncos games all the time. Darren Kramer was a head coach in the WHL, while Kennedy spends his days advocating for abused youths and raising public awareness about James and his crimes. Graham James is now 65 and has been prison for most of the time since Kennedy came forward. He served 18 months in jail for his abuse of Kennedy before being paroled. He was fully pardoned of his crimes by the federal government in 2007, an action that nobody knew of until one of his victims found out and leaked details to the Canadian Press. In 2011, he pled guilty again to offences toward Fleury and another player after Fleury went public. He was eventually sentenced to five years in prison, with another two years added on later after more offences came to light. Last year, James was granted full parole. At last check, he was working with a technology sales company in Montreal under an assumed name. Meanwhile, not far from the overpass near Swift where that bus slid off more than 20 years ago, there's a memorial, a concrete pad with a granite four-leaf clover on it. The clover – which the team has used as a symbol and logo ever since the accident – shows the faces of Trent Kresse, Scott Kruger, Chris Mantyka and Brent Ruff. On the back of it is a paragraph detailing the crash and what happened to the four young men. On the bottom, in all caps, is a four-word phrase. It says, “YOU ARE FINALLY HOME”.
If you want to read more about the weird, forgotten or amazing bits of hockey history, visit our subreddit at /wayback_wednesday. You'll find dozens of articles just like this one. We'll be back soon with another article. If you have any ideas or information for later Wayback Wednesday posts, please don't hesitate to message me or comment below. I'm never too busy to answer questions about these.
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