Okay, with everybody's least favorite year, 2016, winding up, it's time to reflect and contemplate. ....
Nah, f--- that, it's time to RANT!
So without further ado, here are my TOP 5 TOTALLY OUTRAGEOUS MAGIC: THE GATHERING CONTROVERSIES!
5. ELDRAZI!Seriously, who put these stupid spaghetti monsters into the role of "primary antagonist" for a year and a half? Not just story-wise, but also metagame-wise. Nobody likes them. I get it, it's supposed to be all Cthulhu cosmic horror, yadda yadda. Don't care. They don't make me feel horror or feel the insignificance of my meaningless existence (don't need overpowered colorless creatures for that, thanks!), they make me feel like I can't wait until something new. Besides, Hearthstone JUST did this with the Forgotten Gods expansion. At least they had the decency to add in some whimsy, and not to hide the blatant thievery of Lovecraftian lore. Silver lining: My beloved Tamiyo escaped relatively unscathed, despite getting her mind violated by Mama Em. Dishonorable mention: The "seriously, what could it be???" BS mystery that was Shadows over Innistrad. No, Marit Lage is not an interplanar mindf---er, she a flying ice kraken.
4. NO CONTRAPTIONS ON KALADESH!Okay, who dropped the ball on this one? R&D has to have figured out contraptions by now (it isn't that hard.. they're artifact tokens, either defined by the rules a la Investigate, or by some other rules text). Kaladesh was supposed to be this beautiful artisan world, and its face was this famous inventor capable of sculpting anything almost at will. But Maro hand-waved some lame reason about Kaladeshian inventors being more purposeful in crafting their creations than "assemble a contraption" implies. I call BS. I want contraptions, and I want them YESTERDAY. Dishonorable mention: The awesome Indian flavor being limited to just proper nouns, skin color, and clothing, and Saheeli being relegated to exposition device in the story. Guess we shouldn't hold our breaths for Hindi-language cards anytime soon.
3. PPTQs!What a great idea! Bring entry-level competitive play to the stores! Create another path to the Pro Tour! More work for level 2 judges! Except ... It's become a grind for everyone involved. Aspiring pro players have to spend their weekends hopping between stores all over the area hoping to get lucky, just to have a shot to get lucky again to make Top 4 at a Regional. These events were popular with stores at first, but they've become very unreliable lately. One store in my area filled to capacity at 37, and had to turn players away (after having not announced this previously, resulting in a very frustrated carful of grinders). So they rented a bigger space for the next one ... and drew 14 players.
Then, more salient to my interests, you get to the judges. They have to drive all over the place to run these things. My area is fortunate to have a surplus of L2s, but many areas are not this lucky. Burnout becomes a real danger. And, as rewarding as it is to see different stores in different towns and interact with different communities, I miss the mid-sized events that required more than a judge or two on staff. They were perfect training grounds for everybody--newer judges to get their feet wet, and more experienced judges to practice leadership and logistics. These events just don't happen anymore. Everyone's too busy with PPTQs to risk anything with $5Ks or whatever.