I don’t know how Bruce feels about this comparison but I’ll make it:
Bruce Richard is Phil Collins.
Now I presume there are some differences, but relative to what you’re reading here the equation holds. My favorite band in the whole wide world is Genesis, basically a bunch of British boarding school twits who started making extended progressive epics about the stuff of classic fantasy literature, with complex piano parts, shifting time signatures, and plenty of costumed theatrics. If they sound like the types whose only arguments and stormings-off were about chord progressions, well, they were. (If I were a band instead of a solo project, I’d argue about them too.) They were capable of breathtaking music, but their biggest weakness was the chance they’d disappear tensely up their own backsides.
Phil Collins was Genesis’s third drummer and he didn’t come from that background. He was an easygoing bloke who loved all the theory stuff but very importantly was firmly down-to-earth. And it was Phil who diffused tensions time and again. It was also Phil who tended to play songs harder and more rocking than the twee lads would think to play them.
Daryl, Bruce, and I have had no tensions or disagreements ever; there’s been no chance of breaking up the band. But I know from my music and my esoteric topics (the hit counts say I’m the most inconsistently read) that I can disappear into la-la land with ease. I don’t know if Daryl has that tendency, but I’m an absent-minded professor in personality and he’s a professor in real life.
Bruce loves multiplayer theory and he’s no slouch on the subject, but he’s far more practical than me and has his head in things like real life. This means he’s a much better public voice of the site, for example. He set up the actual site, he’s got the Twitter account that announces our articles, he’s the contact to WotC Brand about preview cards, he’s the one who gets the promotional items sent to him, and so forth.
This also means he has a lot to say about the social aspects of Magic, and he’s also the best ranter because his rants are closest to reality. Like Soylent Green, multiplayer is made of people, and Bruce’s articles are vital counterpoint to Monday’s and Wednesday’s abstractions. Bruce has shown clearly how many things might be keeping you from winning. It isn’t just the whats of your deck or strategy; it’s the hows, like your tokens making a mess or your Rhystic Study questions annoying the table. We’re human, annoying things matter to us, and you can win more games by fixing them. If that subject matter isn’t original to Bruce – and to my knowledge it is – he’s certainly the one who’s most developed it, and getting his read on these details is eye-opening.
Because of his practicality, Bruce’s best articles tend to be his most read articles, so highlighting one was difficult. I chose his article on slow play for several reasons. He includes himself in the problem, setting a frank tone for open discussion. He states clearly the problems of slow play. He breaks down potential causes comprehensively. It’s this level of detail that helps me most when I read him – that everything from talking to the board state can make a game less fun. Lastly, he keeps it practical and gives solutions. These are all hallmarks of his best work, but they’re together in one article while addressing an issue I haven’t seen anyone else address. To me, this article represents everything great about Bruce’s contributions to multiplayer.
And if Bruce can play the blistering intro to “Los Endos,” so much the better.