Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Never Give Up Without a Fight



     I wrote the following transhumanist essay at some point within the past couple of years, then I lost it, and I just stumbled upon it again in an email I sent to a friend a while back who is probably dead by now. She had a rare autoimmune disease that caused her to not be able to feel physical pain, and this sometimes made it difficult for her to keep track of problems with her health.
     When I first met her she was terminally ill because her insurance refused to pay for her treatment before it was too late, and then she went from doctor to doctor and asked many people for help, but oftentimes what would happen was that they couldn't or wouldn't help her, or she would just be referred to someone else.
     I only ever met her once in person though. Aside from that, all of my interactions with her were through email. And because of my organizational difficulties I naturally found it very difficult to maintain an email-only friendship in the long-term. I eventually ran out of things to talk with her about for a while and we gradually fell out of touch.
     I hope she's still alive, but I'm guessing she probably isn't. And even if she is, I doubt she is going to be for much longer. I wish I had talked to her more. I would send another email to check up on her, but I don't know what to say, and it would be really awkward to do that after having fallen out of touch with her for over a year or so.
     Anyways, here is the essay I was talking about.
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     Fear. Cold. Darkness. Why am I afraid? Why am a horrified? Not knowing any better, I fled from the truth without even noticing. Now I grasp my fear and my horror in my hands, like a disgusting bar of soap that keeps escaping from me. I realize that I am afraid and horrified for a reason—because it IS scary, and it IS horrifying. I let the fear in. I let the horror in. I feel overwhelmed. This is too much. I’m too frightened to think. I just want the fear and the horror to go away.
     No. What’s true is already so, whether or not I acknowledge it.1 I am afraid and horrified for a reason. What am I afraid of? What is it that horrifies me?
     "Life isn’t always sunshine and lollipops. Things can get hard out there. Hard enough to destroy everything you’ve worked for. Everything you’ve loved. And what will you do when that happens? Curl up and die? When things get tough, you don’t just curl up and admit defeat, you get tougher! Nobody gets anywhere by giving up hope when everything seems hopeless. Even if it is, you never stop fighting! Everyone has the right to live, and don’t let anyone take that away from you without a fight!"2
     Reality doesn’t care how I feel about it. It doesn’t care how much I scream or cry or beg.
     So I channel my fear into anger, and my horror into compassion. I think. I plan. I act.
     I fight.
     Not for glory nor fame. Neither for power nor riches. I’m not just trying to make a statement. I’m not proselytizing.
     I just want to live. And I want other people to live as well. No excuses. No strings attached. That’s it.

       1.      Adapted from the Litany of Gendlin
       2.      Quote adapted from a speech made by Frontier Brain Lucy in “Latias’ Journey”, an epic pokemon fanfiction by Ri2 that I liked to read when I was younger.
       3.      Title was partially inspired by the above quote, and partially by the inscription on Zuko’s blade in Avatar: the Last Airbender (television series)




Brown

This is something I wrote for Black History Month a couple years ago. Well, technically I started writing it before then, then finished it during black history month a couple years ago but wasn't able to find anywhere else to publish it. Then I misplaced it, forgot about it and then recently stumbled across it in an email I had sent to a friend. Hope you like it!
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Brown
            My parents are red. I'm brown. It was a rather nasty shock for them when I was born. They tried to stamp the brown out of me. Twice a week, they forced me to go to a cutter to remove all the brown, down to every inch of my body, and I had to have this chemical rubbed over my whole body to keep the brown from coming back. It was deeply humiliating. The cutter always looked down on me with resentment and disregard, like he'd rather be doing anything else, and did not like having to be my cutter. Because of this, the cutter was often careless. I still have the scars on my ears and scalp to this day.
            My parents told me it was for my own good, since brown people, “are plain and worthless; they are intellectually and emotionally stunted and never good for anything because brown is a boring color.”
            But they couldn't hide it forever. One day the cutter's hands got grievously injured and he couldn't cut anymore. I couldn't skip school indefinitely until my parents could find another cutter or I'd be in a lot of trouble, my teachers would get suspicious and start asking questions, trying to find out why such a good student suddenly wasn't coming to school anymore. My parents and I could not afford to move away.
            My parents tried to keep me out of school anyway. We were brought to delinquent court for my truancy. This is when it was discovered that I am a brown. Since it was illegal for browns to attend schools in non-brown neighborhoods, and I had been attending one for most of my life already, I was tried as an adult and sentenced to prison for twelve years (which was how long I had already been in school), and my parents were fined. My parents couldn't afford the fine, so I was sentenced to another three years, or fifteen years in total.
            Not long after that, another brown was unjustly imprisoned over something stupid, but which she did have control over. Unlike me, who couldn't choose what school I was enrolled in, that lady had refused to give up her seat on a bus to a yellow man of her own free will. She was a civil rights activist who had been planning her bus incident with a team of other brown rights activists for months, in an attempt to bring national attention to the oppression of brown people.
            She succeeded. A civil rights movement began. I was fifteen years old.
            Fourteen years later, I was let out of prison after much pressure from pro-brown advocates. I emerged into a world where a lot of people were very excited and interested to meet me, simply because I am brown. Brown people were no longer seen as boring, useless or without spirit. We were now commonly viewed as calm, collected and professional, although still lacking in creativity.
            Many brown people believed this about themselves. There was an entire culture based on the brown identity. They were proud to be brown. Never mind the fact that eventually most of us would become silver and white.
            I remember many times when well-meaning and supposedly open-minded people have told me something blatantly prejudicial in a starry-eyed voice, like, “It’s who you arrrrree!” and, “You should be proud!”
            After many more years of this, I was fed up with the sheer stupidity. It was very difficult, but I finally worked up the courage to say something I had secretly wanted to say all my life—the obvious, sensible words cried out into the dawn through decades of pain, resentment, bitterness, anger, exasperation and incredulity.
            “I have brown hair! And I'm neither proud of it nor ashamed of it! IT'S JUST BROWN HAIR!”
            No one answered. A few people gave me weird looks.
            “...it's just brown hair,” I whispered, the despair and incredulity threatening to leak from my eyes.
            Few heard me. Fewer listened. Of those who listened, even fewer if any understood. They just chalked me up as another weird exception to the rule, and then forgot about me. But I remembered them. They were the same people who had condemned me before, silent as I was punished for something arbitrary, superficial and beyond my control, now loud in their praise of me for the same reasons.
            The exasperated fury arose in me, clearer and brighter than ever before, and with it a steely determination born of all the utterly pointless suffering I had endured, of rebellious thoughts I hadn't let myself think, of dreams I hadn't dared to dream. That determination came with instructions: If something's broken, fix it. I turned this desire upon myself, clearing the fog and cobwebs of my mind until I could see through it clearly. I looked at the people, and I saw their preoccupation with color for what it was: not a weapon, but the result of a weakness which was made more harmful by sheer numbers.
            If a skilled gunman was surrounded on all sides by a million sword-bearing child assailants, eventually the gunman would fall. If his goal was to defend his assailants and not just himself, that made things all the more challenging. But in this case, the weakness of the assailants was not that they were bringing swords to gunfights. It was that they were bringing aggression to argument, and leaving their minds behind them. They were either not attacking of their own will, or were attacking without meaning to, or didn't really understand why they were attacking and whether those reasons were sufficient, legitimate, or even related to their attacks, and they all adamantly refused to admit that and continued to attack anyway.
            That meant that they could be outsmarted, tricked and manipulated. From that, a plan started to form in my mind. Convince people to be convincible, trick them into not being so easily tricked, manipulate them into being resistant to manipulation, indoctrinate them into valuing their own mind and mental freedom so that they would want to think for themselves, and then teach them how to recognize and counter indoctrination techniques, propaganda and systematic biases so that they would be able to avoid falling prey to them in the future.
            After all, even if a person couldn't be reasoned out of a position they weren't reasoned into, and even if they wouldn't change their minds no matter how many times reality itself proved them wrong, if they were culturally indoctrinated into that position then surely they could be indoctrinated out of it.
            If a plan like this one was implemented, then maybe travesties like the world's pathetic, insane obsession with hair color would end, and people would start paying attention to things that actually mattered.
            Of course, someone else could have easily thought of all this long before I did. It might take a lot of resources and trial and error, but in the end the idea wouldn't necessarily be that complicated or difficult for a good, smart and sane person with enough money and time on their hands to at least think of, if not comprehend and facilitate.
            But if there were such good, smart and sane people out there, where were they? They couldn't all be poor and disadvantaged, or locked away in a cell, right? Were they working on a plan like the one I thought of? Was it working, albeit at a very slow pace? Had it failed? How many people had tried something like it before throughout history? Surely I wasn't the only person who's ever noticed the problem that the vast majority are terrible at and resistant to learning critical thinking, and yearned to correct it?
            Why was it that in fourteen years of civil rights advocacy, of a systematic campaign protesting the kind of nightmarish ignorance and insanity that would cause a child to be imprisoned just for having brown hair, all that was really accomplished was the trading of one obsession with hair color for another? It wasn't just that they were treating the symptoms and not the disease. It was that they were attempting to repurpose the disease to treat the very symptoms it had caused in the first place, not by eliminating the symptoms entirely, but by replacing them. That was beyond stupid. It was insane.
            And that insanity was precisely the problem. If people had been remotely reasonable, it wouldn't have taken fourteen years and an entire social movement to let me out of prison. If people had been sane, then I probably wouldn't have been arrested in the first place. Their decision to imprison me was not intended for my benefit, and it wasn't intended for anyone else's benefit either. It didn't make sense.
            Why was it that the civil rights movement merely switched some of the stereotypes and discrimination from unfavorable to favorable and only marginally reduced the dangerous, ridiculous perception of “otherness”, if at all? Even now that the movement had long-since ended, people with brown hair were still significantly more likely than other people to be turned away from employment and housing, to be pulled over by police while driving, to live in poverty, and to be victims of hate crimes. Even now, a third of all adult men with brown hair have or will be imprisoned at one point or another.
All this over something as trivial and superficial as hair. Just hair.
Really, humanity, how much more stupid and pathetic could you get? This is the kind of inane bullshit that makes me ashamed to be a member of your species. Why are you still being so unreasonable? Why won’t you change? And don’t smugly and self-righteously proclaim that it’s just your nature. That’s a bullshit excuse, saying it doesn’t make you deep or wise, and you know it.
            To answer that question, there were several possible explanations I could think of:
                  1. People preferred to be unreasonable because it took more effort to think clearly and act sensibly then to think incoherently and act insensibly
                  2. There were smarter and saner people who benefited from the ignorance and insanity of the public, and worked to maintain it.
                  3. People were just naturally like that
                  4. Some combination of 1, 2, and/or 3.

“What seems to be the problem, ma’am?”
“That man over there was being disruptive. He shouted some nonsense and now he’s been muttering to himself and pacing back and forth in front of that house. It frightens me.”
This is my front lawn, I’m allowed to walk around on it whenever I want, jerk. And I find it easier to think out loud because otherwise my mind wanders. Why were you eavesdropping for so long anyway? It frightens me. And you’re only scared because I was walking and talking. Everybody does that. For all you knew I could have been on my cell phone.
I sighed as the officer approached me. It was time to get to work. I had a long day ahead of me.


Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Bet

"Now, I want you both on your best behavior," our mom said. "No funny business. We are here to visit family, and we want to make a good impression."

She rang the doorbell.

My brother and I rolled our eyes behind her back.

"I bet we can turn everyone at the Seder table into atheists in ten minutes," I whispered.

"I bet we can do it in five, Sis," said my brother.

We grinned.

Our mom sent us a warning glare right before the front door opened and we were introduced to our estranged "family".
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My brother and I were on our best behavior, and whenever it wasn't our turn to read from the Haggadah we were silent. We didnt even complain about how hungry we were. Unbeknownst to anyone else, we had already familiarized ourselves with the story of Passover beforehand, and we were waiting for our moment of opportunity.

Finally, our opportunity came.

I glanced at the clock. It was 8:45pm.

"All the people of Egypt and the King himself beheld this miracle," recited our uncle. "They saw the fish die as the blood flowed over the land, and they turned with disgust from the offensive smell of the sacred river."

"Eww gross!" I said, while at the same time my brother said, with the apparent morbid fascination that preteen boys often have with gross things, "Cool! I didn't know God went for that kind of miracle."

As the next several plagues were described, my own face became more and more disgusted and horrified, while my brother's became more morbidly fascinated.

"Why did God kill all those poor, innocent animals?" I asked.

"They weren't innocent, obviously," said my brother. They were sinful animals who served the evil Egyptians, just like the animals that were killed in the flood. God wouldn't have smited them otherwise."

I made myself look like I was going to cry. It wasn't that difficult, since I really was horrified. It just so happened that I had cried when I had first read about the ten plagues. But no one else at this damned Cthulhu-worshipping ceremony knew that I was using that episode as a script for how I was acting now, since they didn't know that I had bothered to research their stupid religion before coming here.

The recital of the ten plagues continued like this, with each of our estranged extended family members taking turns to read. And then it was our grandmother's turn.

"Midnight of the fourteenth to the fifteenth of Nissan came, and G‑d struck all first-born in the land of Egypt, from the first-born of King Pharaoh, down to the first-born of a captive in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the cattle, exactly as Moses had warned. There was a loud and bitter wail in each house a loved one lay fatally stricken."

"GOD DID WHAT!?" I shouted in rightous indignation.

My brother laughed cruelly.

Our mom sent us a warning glare.

"But, but, God is omnipotent right? Why didn't he just teleport the Israelites out of Egypt?"

"Obviously, he wanted to punish the Egyptians for their crimes against the Israelites," said my brother smugly.

"But the Egyptian children didn't do anything wrong!" I argued. Then in a smaller voice, I asked, "Why didn't the Israelites shelter the Egyptian children? God had promised to pass over their houses."

"Like that would have worked," my brother scoffed. "God would have known. He would have gone to those households and started banging on their doors, saying, 'I AM THE LORD YOUR GOD. OPEN UP!' and if they didn't open the door God would have just barged in. Then God would have demanded to know where the Egyptian children were, and the Israelites would have said, "There aren't any Egyptian children here. It's just us."

My brother's eyes took on a maniacal look just like we'd seen on the faces of supervillains in movies. He'd practiced that facial expression a lot in order to try to scare me when we were younger before I caught on to what he was doing.

"And then," said my brother. "God would have killed those Israelites, just as he had done with the plague of darkness to the Israelites who betrayed him by trying to assimilate with the Egyptians."

"I'm scared," I whispered, dramatically. "Is God going to kill us, too?"

Out of the corner of my eye I could see my mom's mortified and embarrassed face. I could also see the horror that flitted across the faces of all of my estranged extended family members before the look was replaced by a look of righteous fury and moral indignation directed at my mom. I looked at the clock. It was 8:52pm.

Later, on the car ride back home, I turned to my brother and said, "Pay up."

"No," he said. "Your bet was that we would turn them into atheists in ten minutes. Mine was that it would only take five. But in case you haven't noticed, we weren't able to convert them at all."

"You saw the horrified looks on their faces just like I did! We DID turn them into atheists, even if they don't want to admit it."

"No, we turned them into antitheists. Even if they become atheists eventually, it wouldn't have happened in ten minutes, so the bet is off, Sis."

I sat there, fuming silently while my brother started messing around with some game on his phone.

Our mom looked at us sternly through the rearview mirror.

"By the way, you're both grounded."

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Internal Dialogue about the End of the World

"You have got to be kidding me."

"What did you expect the end of the world to be like?"

"Something more....more...."

"Dramatic? Dignified? Come on, this is the real world. Obviously, the end of the world is going to be utterly mundane, something that doesn't violate the laws of physics and is a perfectly natural result of human stupidity. If there was a big red end the world button, someone would press it just to see what happens. But in this case, the trigger for Armageddon isn't necessarily going to be something so obvious as pressing a button."

"But that button hasn't been pressed yet! There must be something we can do!"

"There is. It's probably not going to work though."

"So there's still a chance?"

"Yes. There's also still a chance you'll win the lottery. Good luck with that.

"It sounds like you've given up."

"Do you mean to tell me you don't have a nagging whispering doubt somewhere in the back of your mind that maybe what I'm saying is right and it really is too late? Because I'm pretty sure most sane people have that nagging whispering doubt."

"Most sane people also don't give up and wait for the end just because things seem hopeless."

"I'm pretty sure it doesn't just seem that way."

"But that's still how it seems to you. The map is not the territory, after all."

"True. But I have yet to see any evidence that we aren't as doomed as it seems to me like we are. Do you have any such evidence?"

Silence.

A sigh.

"Didn't think so."

"What should we do, then? Just curl up and die?"

"No. That is definitely crazy. If you don't want to die, if you feel despair over the end, then that is the most counterproductive thing you could possibly do."

"Then what should we do?"

"That's obvious, isn't it? Continue living. Continue this futile struggle. Who knows, maybe we will win the lottery. And maybe we'll get a nice perfect happily ever after, with easier choices that have lower stakes, where the challenges are designed to be solvable and the world's at peace and everything is more fair and more beautiful. I doubt it's going to happen, but there's no harm in trying. What have we got to lose?"

Monday, August 21, 2017

Reflection on the Gen Con Mage Wars Academy tournament and Misconceptions About Mage Wars Academy



If you're not familiar with Mage Wars Academy, this post will likely be hard to follow. If you're interested, I recommend checking out the game here, and then getting a demo either at your friendly local game store or at a convention.

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I won the Mage Wars Academy tournament at gen con, and while I played fairly and fought my hardest and overcame all the opposition, part of me still doesn't feel like I deserved my victory. Partly because there were only five other competitors in the tournament. Partly because I did not face a significant challenge until the finals.

First, a recap of the tournament for those who were not there to see it. There were six players in it including me. I fought in three matches: my first match was against a beastmaster which used a minor animal swarm, second match was against a Mana denial wizard using Mana worms. My final match was against a very aggressive warlock using Sanguine Hunter and Drakas, Imp Overlord.

First match I won because my opponent forgot that Aurora Lucere, Dawnbreaker's Chosen had an ability that let her treat his minor creatures as pests, and therefore could keep her guard marker if melee attacked by them as long as she didn't counterstrike.

The second match I won because my opponent wasn't prepared to deal with Aurora Lucere. We both agreed afterwards that he should have summoned a Sailfin Hydra and attacked my Dawnbreaker's Chosen with it, using disperses to get rid of any shrinks I would have enchanted his hydra with.

The final match was best 2/3. First game I won because I surprised my opponent by rushing him really fast and he wasn't prepared to deal with my strategy. Second game I lost because I forgot to crumble his armor before attacking with Dawnbreaker's Chosen and he was able to kill me before I could recover from that mistake. Third game I won because I landed a really lucky roll on a firestream dealing 8 damage which brought him to 17 damage, and then he illegally used exile on my Dawnbreaker's Chosen because he didn't realize it could only target minor creatures. And that was the end of the tournament.

To be honest, I was disappointed that I didn't get a real challenge until the final match of the tournament. I have some educated guesses as to why it happened like this. You see, I spoke to multiple Mage Wars players there about the Academy tournament beforehand, and nearly everyone I asked was either unsure if they wanted to participate or were unwilling or did not have spellbooks prepared for it.

Two or three people even expressed the view that Mage Wars Academy was merely watered down Mage Wars Arena. This is a common misconception perpetuated partly because of the unintentionally deceptive advertising of the game on Arcane Wonder's part, and partly because Arena players just starting out in Academy don't know how to build good Academy spellbooks but too easily think that they do, especially in the absence of a real public competitive academy metagame.

At least several people told me that they had not played Mage Wars Academy since the release of its core set, and this was something I had heard before from other mage wars players online. Mage Wars Academy has been available for online play on OCTGN for about two years, but it has been almost impossible to find anyone to play it with there.

Because most people likely have not tested their custom Academy spellbooks all that much if at all, or at least because there is very little public record of what kinds of spellbooks work in Academy and what don't, Arena players who start playing Academy with each other start out trying to make their spellbooks too much like Arena spellbooks.

Mage Wars Academy is not watered down Mage Wars Arena, as I hope will become clear to you after reading this post. Unfortunately, Arcane Wonders has advertised Mage Wars Academy in such a way that it made it look like Mage Wars Academy was really Mage Wars Arena jr. For one thing, they put a mini advertisement for Mage Wars Arena into the Mage Wars Academy commercial. They have also kept talking about how they designed it for the purpose of being a point of entry for Arena, and they did not do anything to correct any of the wild misconceptions Arena players had about Academy, except by writing the words "new, standalone game" on the core set box.

Mage Wars Arena players new to Academy likely won't notice how the lack of action accelerators like spawnpoints and familiars, combined with the 1x1 zone arena make putting on armor round 1 a better decision than in Arena. They'll just think that first initiative gives an unfair advantage because the first player gets to attack or target enemy objects first after the setup rounds end, while also doing a chain of four consecutive converted quick actions without the opponent being able to respond during that chain. In point of fact you do have the ability to respond to your opponent during this chain, it's called revealing enchantments (or using defenses or other abilities that don't cost actions to use). But Arena players new to Academy are likely to think this isn't enough because casting enchantments uses a quick action in the first place.

They dont notice that because of a lack of action accelerators in Academy, that the loss of actions is nowhere near as costly in Academy. Unlike in Arena, in Academy skipping your quickcast action to save mana is a perfectly viable tactic and does not mean that you made a mistake. It's ok to lose an action or two if you are devaluing the actions of your opponent. Arena players new to Academy think that introducing quickcast phases would be a good way to solve this supposed problem of consecutive actions, but it is entirely unnecessary. Consecutive actions would only be a problem in arena because of action accelerators and the existence of move actions. With two full actions and two quickcasts, you can cast two familiars and two spawnpoints and take two move actions in Arena, which increases your action generation per round exponentially. In Academy the only action generators are creatures, each creature can only use one action per round, and only mages can cast creatures and they must use their full action to do it. With two full actions and two quickcasts in Academy you just get at most two more actions generated per round, plus maybe another quick action or two for very specific things, like how the packleader's cloak or the priestess's ability let's you put a guard marker on a friendly creature as a "free" action (you still have to pay mana for it).

Unfortunately, it seems that these misconceptions about Academy likely contributed to the quality of much of the competition in the Academy tournament, as well as to the extremely low turnout compared to the Arena tournament. At least one or two people I asked said that they were going to just cobble together an Academy spellbook right before the Academy tournament, without testing it.

I don't intend to slight any of my opponents. They all fought valiantly, despite two out of three of them coming unprepared. However, this was supposed to be a competitive level tournament. And yet from the way people were talking about it, it seemed to me a likely possibility that most of the other competitors were not expecting competitive levels of difficulty in the Academy tournament before they came to Gen Con, and that they did not think that they needed to prepare for it much if at all. I suspect they may only have started to believe otherwise after Arcane Wonders ambassador and mage wars tournament judge Silverclawgrizzly hypothized that I would just wipe the floor with everyone in the academy tournament because most other people hadn't practiced it at all since the core set's release.

This is the second mage wars tournament I have ever won, and both times there were only five other competitors, and both times the majority of the competition did not seem to be at a competitive level. I have two really cool mage wars trophies in my apartment now, and I find myself disappointed that I did not have to work harder to earn them.

Hopefully the next Mage Wars Academy tournament I attend will have a greater turnout of competitive-level players.

Note: I just looked on the forums, and there doesn't seem to be an event page for the Gen Con Mage Wars Academy tournament like there was for the Gen Con Mage Wars Arena tournament. I suspect this likely also contributed to the low turnout for the Academy tournament.

Special mention goes to my opponent in the final match, who did come prepared with a spellbook he had tested ahead of time, and he nearly beat me for the championship. That match included some of my most fun fights in Academy that I've had so far.

You can see the spellbook I used in the Gen Con Mage Wars Academy tournament here.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Did I make a mistake, or was I just unlucky?

If you're not familiar with Mage Wars Arena, this post will likely be hard to follow. If you're interested, I recommend checking out the game here, and then getting a demo either at your friendly local game store or at a convention.

I just played a game of Arena on OCTGN. I was playing a forcemaster of Salenia and my opponent was a Priest of Malakai. I had a forge, meditating monk, a mana crystal, enchanter's wardstone and a surging wave-thoughtspore. My opponent had a forge, mana crystal and guardian angel. I rolled a really unlikely bad roll on a surging wave against his battle forge which cost me the whole match, and the more I think about it the more it seems like there really was nothing I could have done to deal with that bad roll. After that bad roll I didnt have any surging waves left except for the one attached to my thoughtspore. Next round, in order to finish off the battle forge, I had to force pull the guardian angel so that it was no longer protecting the forge, then my spore attacked it again. But then guardian angel was able to attack my spore and bring it to the brink of death, and then finished it off the next round. If not for my using force pull on the angel, it would not have been in range to attack my spore. And I wouldn't have used force pull if I hadn't rolled such a unusually bad roll when I had attacked the forge the round prior. If I had rolled slightly better, the forge would have been gone sooner and I wouldn't have spent as much mana and actions to take it down, so I would have had more mana to cast certain expensive spells sooner. And my surging wave-spore would have still been alive to deal with guardian angel so that I could focus on attacking the priest. But none of that happened because I had one lousy roll against a battle forge. It seems that for the very first time EVER, I have just played an Arena match where I lost exclusively because of luck rather than skill. It was frustrating, but at least it's only happened to me once in the four years I've been playing the game.

...Then again maybe I should have used my force crush on the guardian angel instead of the priest. I already had dot on the priest in the form of magebane, ghoul rot and arcane corruption, and I had used one of my ghoul rots to finish off Cassiel, Maybe I didn't need more dot on the priest and I could have spared my force crush for the guardian angel. I'm not sure if it would work or not, but I'll try it. Next time I'm facing a mage that uses guardian angel to guard itself and my surging wave-thoughtspore dies, I will try putting force crush on the guardian angel. If that doesn't work, then I'll know that this match was decided exclusively by luck rather than skill. Considering that this is the only time that might have happened in the four years I've been playing the game, I don't think I should worry about this match too much. But I really should try using force crush on the guardian angel if I ever encounter this situation again, just to see if it would work.