The Anxious Moment

I turned in translation work on Monday. I didn't have any more lined up. I panicked. What would I do?

Work came in Tuesday while I was teaching.

How much time can we spend worrying about things? If I didn't get that job I would have to cut back on some frivalries. I've already cut back on snacking and that has made an impact on my wallet and my waistline.

But the worry can't be good either.

In fact, due to some worry about things I cannot control I lost a few hours tonight. I'll never get them back. It's 1:30 in the morning and I can't sleep because I am worried about something that ultimately shouldn't matter in my life. But here I am. And I have to live with that.

Mild Success

Three day weekend. Ex-wife took son somewhere or something. She doesn't tell me much. So I translated and played Magic. Should have done a bit more work on the Four Job Fiesta Infopicture for this year, but I at least got it started. I wasn't in the mood. I try to make that thing entertaining. Entertaining isn't something I feel right now.

So today was a tournament for the end of the year local big Modern tournament wherein you get a bye for winning. Pretty cool. The prize was also two Mox Opals (I literally just had to add Mox to my spellchecker which 1) makes me wonder why it took this long and B) makes me wonder where the word Mox came from.) which is a pretty big prize for a ¥2000 tournament. Sadly (?) I ended up second, which really I cannot complain, but the prize was an Aether Vial, of which I had four. The store owners said I could get ¥3000 store credit, which, not great but I’m up, right?

Plus I played Storm fairly well, I think. Round one was the mirror, and I think my opponent was a bit unlucky but I managed to squeak out the wins when the opportunity arose. Round two was a guy I’m used to being on UB Faeries, but was on UW control. He didn't see a White source until even after using a Field of Ruin to get UU for Vendilion Clique. So I was thinking Faeries, but luckily saw a Snapcaster Mage which made me guess UW. I was right, and unfortunately lost game two to more Clique beats and nothing but draws of air, but managed to pull out the win in game three with an early and pushed Empty the Warrens.

Round three was humans. It ended a draw. I think I did two Gifts Ungiven piles wrong. I forget exactly what I messed up game two, but game three I really needed it to be four pieces of removal, but I went for Past in Flames and he had a Meddling Mage. He couldn't finish me off when we went to turns though.

I got paired down so I faced off against Bant Eldrazi instead of KCI. I won, but the Humans player lost to KCI. I don't know if the breakers would have gone my way if I was tied at ten points with the Humans player. I’d guess not since I got paired down twice in the tournament. But it didn't matter since the KCI player won, and took the tournament. Still, I got some more reps with Storm. I’m still feeling a bit shaky, and it was hell against Eldrazi with Damping Sphere out, but with two Goblin Electromancers I managed to squeak out a win. Playing under that is a bit of a headache, and I had to apologize to my opponent and write out some math to makes sure I could do what I wanted to do. It was a bit intense, involving first casting a Pyretic Ritual into a Desperate Ritual with another spliced onto it, cast the spliced one, Grapeshot, make ten goblins, swing with my two Electromancers, and then my opponent drew for his turn and scooped.

Doing this all under the Sphere was intense. I had a similar match online today where my opponent on Elves had three Spheres out but I managed to get the win because a flipped Thing in the Ice made it impossible for them to build up a defense. Unfortunately, this stream isn't showing in my Twitch history, so I cannot make a video of it unless it somehow shows up. But it was a good match.

So lots of good Storm today. A few mistakes, but I’m still learning. Taking second isn't bad. This was no PPTQ, but people did come to get those Mox Opals, so I can't complain about how I did.

Only one more Modern PPTQ this season as far as I can see, and it kind of bums me out that I only found a deck I actually like this late, but hopefully it sticks around or at least gets some action to stay relevant and I can keep playing it for a while.

Learning

I made lots of mistakes with GIfts Storm today, but I learned a lot.

Land orders matter. You have to think about these. I may not have won the game, but I didn't have a chance because I put a Stream Vents into play tapped instead of a Spirebluff Canal and lacked enough mana the next turn.

I could have won round 3 if I paid attention to my opponent's mana and realized that he was tight on blue and my Wipe Away could have bounced an Island end of turn and Cryptic Command wouldn't have prevented me from winning on round five of turns.

Devoted Company is hard, but I have to try to trade for their early creatures as fast as possible so that I can get the chance to combo.

Mono Red Prison is mean. I think I just got bad beats there.

A 2-4 is not a great record, but I sure learned a lot playing the deck today. And that feels good.

First and Last

I played in two Magic tournaments today.

Well, three if you count the PTQ on Magic Online.

That's a lot of Magic. The Modern PPTQ was a disaster. Only eight people showed up which meant that it was single elimination. Through the Breach got me in two games before the match next to me really got started because of a judge call. Okay, I might be exaggerating. But it was done real fast. It took me longer to get there.

So I was bummed out. Okay, it happens, but whatever.

Then I drove to a nearby store that was doing a Store Championship. Another small tournament, but I crushed it. Turbo Fog did it this weekend. Control and mirror matches didn't hurt, but hey, I had bad varience an hour earlier. Then I won a tournament. Not one that gets me close to my goal of playing on the Pro Tour, but a confidence boost that I can win tournaments.

Then I did another sealed PTQ on Magic Online. 3-2 instead of 2-3! I pulled a Vaevictis Asmadi, the Dire and was so, so, so tempted to build around it, but my Red and especiallly my Green weren't exactly there. I did have two of the common dragons and a Dragon's Hoard, but I just wasn't confident enough and my white looked a little bit better. So I went White Black and after losing game one, round one, I through to gether the Vaevictis deck I was thinking about during sideboarding and it just crashed to mana screw hard. So I think it was best that I registered the White Black deck. I was lucky to get a bye round three, but my deck did what it was supposed to do rounds four and five. And that's six packs, which is 18 out of the 30 tickets the tournament cost. Selling the junk from my pool grabbed me another two tickets, so it was ten for some practice with sealed.

I am tired of M19 sealed and probably should just wait until Guilds releases to do any more. But today was a pretty good day for me Magic-wise. A needed boost of confidence.

Upgrading

I bought my first Apple product in 2004. In the past fourteen years I’ve been mocked for being a fanboy, and perhaps the label fits, but I was the dork who in his first programming class wrote a “quiz” in QuickBASIC where every single answer was mocking Macs because I knew the teacher was an Apple fan, and hey, it was 1997.

I even picked up an old Macintosh... I don’t even know what it was, and set it up in front of my one friend’s dorm room and said “Look at me, I’m so and so! I use a Mac!” because he used an iMac. I was (am?) an asshole. But I still see him when I go to America, so I guess he’s forgiven me or it wasn’t that insulting to begin with.

But between seeing him use it, another friend who was in Computer Science and my Japanese classes using Macs and one professor who used Macs despite ever other single professor at the time using Windows or some sort of Linux, I got curious. And my Sony Vaio was one of the biggest pieces of shit I ever owned. And really, it was 2004, and this was a Institute of Technology so not having even a semi decent laptop to work on while waiting for classes was becoming a pain.

So I bought a MacBook.

I brought it to Japan that summer. My first time in Japan. The tech guy at the college in Japan said it wouldn’t get on the college’s network. I figure it out. I beat the shit out of that MacBook. I tore it apart to replace a dead hard drive. I gave it to my father and he used it until last year where it just got to the point where it wasn’t good enough. Still. That little fucker did some work.

But it also changed me a lot. Despite its flaws, I hadn’t owned a non-Apple computing device until I built a PC in January 2017 just so I could play Magic Online on something that wasn’t a virtual machine and I was tired of going into BootCamp. I hate that fucking thing, and even though everyone tells me that streaming on PC is easier, I constantly run into problems. But I’m not here to talk about Windows.

I bought a Series 4 Apple watch today. Yeah, pricy. Yes, I am lucky that I have the disposable income to buy it. But when I placed that order, I looked down at my wrist and thought, despite its, many, many flaws, I love the fuck out of my original Apple watch.

Much like I didn’t use Apple stuff until 2004, I didn’t wear a watch until the Apple watch. I tried, but it never stuck. But this expensive dingus with its stupid little rings that track my steps, exercise and how many times I stand a day got me thinking about my health more. I lost a lot of weight the first year I had my Apple watch.

I listened to a lot of My Brother, My Brother and Me while walking around my old neighborhood before I got divorced and moved because I wanted to fill those stupid rings. And I did. And I was healthier.

The divorce, well, it messed me up a lot. I got off track. But I still look at those stupid rings every day and at least think about it even if right now I’m not doing my best. But I did it before and I know I could do it again.

Could this Series 4 come and I have bad luck where I get a defective device and I bring it into the store time and time again and keep getting duds because sometimes you have bad luck with things? Maybe. Maybe it will be so great that I will love it as much as my original watch which is on my wrist as I type this. Maybe it will be a nice little bump and I’ll feel kind of silly for spending money on a new one.

But like that MacBook, I beat the shit out of this watch and it has been good to me. And in a week or so it’s going to go back into its box. Maybe I’ll sell it. Maybe it will stay in my closet until I move someday and I have to decide whether to trash it or sell it somewhere for a couple yen. Maybe I’ll stop being emotionally attached to things at that age. But for now as I await the new one, I look at the old and as stupid as it sounds, I have to give it my gratitude.

Practice and its makings

I did a lot of translating over the past day. Sixteen thousand characters. Woof. Brain is a little fried, but I still found some time to stream some Gifts Storm online. The more I play it the more I like it.

I only went 2-3 this league, but I definitely felt like I learned a lot. Sometimes it's necessary to cast Grapeshot before Past in Flames because you essentially double your damage. Or do a third and then the remaining two thirds. But I didn't think that way. Lots of math in this. It's so much harder in paper because you have to keep track of so many things.

But I'm learning and I'm having fun. I don't know if this deck is "better positioned" than Mardu, and I am kind of scared to take it to a PPTQ this weekend, but I should get in another league or two before I do and I think I might be ready to try. I'm excited to try, at least.

Never clean

Heavy rain cancelled classes today. I'm lucky.

So I streamed. Exercised. Got my translation work done. Did laundry. Did a huge overhaul of my Magic collection for the upcoming Standard rotation.

I got a lot done today, but I still feel like I failed. What could I have done that would have made the day a success? Made a million dollars? That's unrealistic. Make a dollar? Well, I translated about $200 worth of stuff. So that's something.

I was also approved for a Japanese credit card. That's awesome considering how hard they can be to get. It arrived in the mail today.

I started learning Modern Storm. I went 3-2 in a casual league. I beat Humans, Grixis Death Shadow and then lost to Burn twice but beat Burn once. Burn is hard. But it was good practice. And I'm enjoying the deck a lot. Not sure if I am ready to take it to a PPTQ, but it's the most fun I've had with Magic in a while.

Today was good. So why do I feel sad?

Japanese Nationals Draft Deck

IMG_0060.JPG

This was my first time doing Competitive Level drafting. You’re timed and you can’t peek at your stuff while drafting. It was kind of intense the first pack, but it felt okay after that. 

Believe it or not I started the draft with a bad rare I don’t even remember, mediocre uncommons but there was a Strangling Spores. Felt good. Ajani’s Pridemate comes next and I’m feeling Black White lifegain. Start grabbing some decent White creatures, but Black is dry. Okay, so I pick some decent stuff in other colors to try to get somewhere, but there’s just no Black. Pack two I see a Heroic Reinforcements, so I’m ready for Red/White. I get passed a Sarkhan’s Unsealing and I think, hm. There are some good red creatures with 4 power. I only see the Volley Veteran, and that’s _pack three_. So I just keep grabbing small things that get out there quick. Trumpet Blast comes along and I’m feeling it. I got two Knights that make 2/2 knights, and the enchantment that creates one. We got a theme here. Pack three I open junk but get passed a Mentor of the Meek and Militia Bugler. Okay, baby, we’ve got a stew going.

I figure my curve is low and with Bugler, Mentor and three Daybreak Chaplains (one from each of packs A, B, and C) I figure I can afford to go with 16 lands and just try to push on through. Pegasus Courser helps two.

Round one I get matched agianst someone who had Sarkhan’s Unsealing and the creatures to use it. Although thankfully he never drew it (he showed me afterwards) but he did have _three_ Daggerback Basilisks and two Rabid Bites. I got wrecked.

Round two was against a White Black deck with that damn Sigeled Sword of Valeron, and my sorcery that destroys tapped creatures isn’t too great. We have two long games until time is getting close and he gets me game two. Game three I just go full Boros Blast on him and take the win.

Round three I get paired against a Black Red deck and I just make tokens and pump them and draw cardds off of Mentor of the Meek and I would say I got fairly lucky, but the deck did exactly what I wanted it to. So I’m fairly happy. I never drafted Red White in M19, but it turned out okay. 2-1.

I probably should have leaned off of White a little earlier and looked deeper into the other colors, but with a good White creature in the Pridemate and decent Black removal I thought I could get somewhere with that, but I didn’t. Had I picked up red a little earlier pack one I might have had a stronger deck, or I might have seen something in Blue or Green but just happened to miss it because, well, like I said this was my first draft with timed picks so experienced I was not. But it went pretty well. I’m happy with that.

One more day of Japanese Nationals to go. 

Audible

Can you hear me? Hahaha. Hrm. Not funny.

It makes me laugh a bit that I know this American football term even though I pay little mind to sports. But that's culture for you! Things just seep in no matter what.

So yesterday I decided to not hit up the Standard Showdown I usually go to on Thursdays in Osaka. Instead of trying to compete for a pack of potentially four very bad cards (My Standard Showdown pulls this cycle have been hilariously bad.) I decided to practice online.

But, oh no! I only have my Standard decks on Arena. That can't be good practice, right?

Well, reps are reps and as long as I think about the plays I'm making that's a good thing. I'm sure people who are playing in Nationals this weekend aren't picking decks because they think they're fun but rather because they think they are good and/or the player themselves is good with the deck. Still, I don't want to spend money on Standard on Magic Online with Arena around. I'd rather practice Sealed/Draft/Modern.

Anyway, I realized I needed to do laundry, so an even better excuse to not leave the house! Plus I'm traveling this weekend so cutting down on costs is smart, right? Right.

So I did laundry. While I waited for it to try at the laundromat I had some Indian curry for dinner. Mistake. I felt so tired after that. It was tasty though. So, so tasty. Worth the 0.8 kg I’m up today - which I’ll blame on water weight! And the carbs. The tasty, tasty carbs.

Anyway. I got home, relaxed for a bit and then decided to go on Arena. But as soon as I looked at my Red Black deck I just felt some dread. I don't like the deck. I don't like playing it. I played Turbo Fog to a 5-0 win in the “Competitive Constructed” on Arena. Which, I know, Arena isn't the true testing grounds but it felt so good.

So do I go with my gut feeling of wanting to play with fun or my gut feeling of wanting to play with proven success?

This is a “grow up” moment (admitted, not an important one in the grand scheme of things), and I don't know which path to choose.

Giving up

I decided to play Mardu Pyromancer this Modern season. It had not been going well. Now, there are many things I can do. Practice more, work on meta gaming, and so on, but the problem is that it isn’t even fun anymore.

So I should move on.

I realized I had almost everything for Storm, so I put it together. I haven’t really played it yet. Probably going to start practicing after Japanese Nationals, but the idea of learning something new is kind of exciting, even if it might not change my results.

But I feel it’s time for change.

Three days in

I'm trying something new over at https://www.youtube.com/user/revenantkioku.

I'm not expecting anything out of this. I am just going to talk to my computer for five minutes every morning. I might start getting onto topics. I might just ramble about my life. But I need to be making something again and if writing has become hard and programming has become hard and streaming has become hard, sitting down in front of a web cam and pressing recoard for five minute is something I can do.

And if I am going to get out of this depression I have to start doing things.

I call it "An Honest Five" and I'm sure you can figure out where that comes from. You know. Comedians are said to be working on their "tight five". So yeah, five honest minutes of feelings. That's all. We'll see where it goes.

Disenchantment

I hate having access to Netflix.

Well, I like it. When I was in a real bad funk last year, watching Rick and Morty over and over at least gave me something to chew over in my mind. And I enjoyed it. Plus living in Japan allows me to not be oversaturated with it popularity. Plusses.

But the “binging” is a bad thing from time to time. But is it preventing me from doing what I want or am I just using it when I am in a state that I wouldn't do anything anyway? I suppose that's another story for another time.

So, I finished watching Disenchantment yesterday. First, my apologies to John DiMaggio for somehow misreading his name as H. Jon Benjamin. I was really confused why I couldn't pick out the one actor.

Anyway, when I was back in the states this summer, I was watching the Pro Tour on Twitch and every break they showed the advertisement for Disenchantment at least twice. It was kind of annoying by the end, but I was still curious.

So it was on Netflix a few days after I got back from Japan and I squeezed it in over the past two weeks.

I liked it.

I think the trailer did it a disservice because it felt like the show would be about Bean running off during the wedding and exploring the world. That's not what happened. She spent a lot of time at home. And her husband to be spent a lot of time with a sword in his head.

But after I got over that I just took the show for what it was, and it seemed to be dealing with someone who “has it all, including depression”. And that, while not a completely unique thing, touched with those flavors of Simpsons and Futurama humor did work for me. The episodes were up and down and I was okay with it. Until the end.

The last two episodes (spoilers?) hit me just as hard as some of the best episodes of Futurama. You know the ones. I hadn't realized how attached I had grown to all of the cast.

So I hope there's a season two. I hear it's not getting the best reviews, but when you've got The Simpsons and Futurama on your resume, making anything has got to be hard. I like where it went and want to see more.

I hope we get to.

What I would do

Sometimes I think about being "independently wealthy".

Honestly, I am not entirely sure what that means or how it is obtainable other than birth. That last part has missed the boat, though.

But I think about what I like doing. Playing Magic. Making and playing video games. Having sex. Well, I’m probably not going to make money off of that last one. At least not and be happy. Yeah, I need a loving partner. What a strange request.

Anyway.

You know, I could be streaming. I don’t as much as I could because of... anxiety? What if I stream and gasp no one watches?! Well, that happens right now because I'm an unknown quantity and why would you watch me? I don't get viewers just because I want them.

And I don't get to win at Magic just because I want to. That doesn't mean I practice as much as I should. No. Instead I waste time on things because wasting time is easier than doing hard things.

At least I’m getting all of my real work done and not in any risk of losing my job(s) outside of the normal market conditions which thinking about is enough to send my anxiety flaring.

But what do I want? I want to play Magic, stream and make games. So I should start doing those things, shouldn't I?

Modern PPTQ Weekend

So I asked for sideboard help on Friday (thanks everyone). Went with 1 Collective Brutality, 1 Hazoret the Fervent, 1 Wear//Tear, 2 Kambal, 2 Ensnaring Bridge, 2 Engineered Explosives, 2 Molten Rain, 4 Leyline of the Void.

PPTQ1: R1 Storm (2-1): Game one I had Pyro, removal and Blood Moon. No discard. His early Opts and fetches Steam Vaults made me guess Storm. I made a mistake and played turn three Blood Moon and he had an Island and stormed me out. Game three a K Command on his Electromancer in response to a Desperate Ritual let him go for a while but eventually had him fizzle out. Rabblemaster took the game from there. Game three I hit him with a Leyline which seemed to surprise him and a Pyromancer took the game. R2 Ad Nauseam (2-0): Game one I strip his hand, start the Rabblemaster beats. Force him to time walk me by playing a Blood Moon that he uses Pact of Negotiation on. He desperately Spoils for a Phyrexian Unlife and dies to it. Game two he starts out with a Leyline of Sanctity. I get a Pyromancer out followed by a Blood Moon and slowly take him down, targeting myself with Inquisitions to get tokens. He Angel Grace's to save himself one turn. Next I Tear his Leyline, Thoughtseize him, Angel’s Grace. He has one more discard it and Bolt him during his upkeep R3 Burn (2-1) Game one he burns me out. Game two I take his Eidelons, and use Brutality to keep my life high enough that a Rabblemaster can quickly take him down. Game three he’s short on lands. I have a Pyro and both of my Molten Rains. He scoops after I blow up his two shock lands. Draw into top 8. Top 8 vs Eldritch Evolution: No idea what this deck was going for other than Reveillark, Wall of Reverence and Sigarda. Long game one where he eventually is just gaining 5 life a turn and swinging with Thrun and Sigarda and I can't keep up. Side in Leylines hoping to stop Reveillark and Ramanup Excavator shenanigans, Bridge for the big guys and Hazoret to block Thrun and get around a potential Leyline of Sanctity. Mull to five (both no land hands), no Leyline, stuck on two lands even after a Faithless looting. He's already fetching every turn for lands off of Excavator. I’m dead. Go and buy myself another Inquisition of Kozilek so I have matching art. (The true key to success.)

PPTQ 2: R1 Tron (0-2): He drops a Tron piece and a map. I Inquisition, he has Karn, Ugin, Ghost Quarter, another Map and a Forest. Karn comes out turn three and demolishes me. Game 2 I lead off with a Thoughtseize. He has Thragtusk, Stirrings, two Towers, Powerplant, Wurmcoil and Sylvan Scrying. My hand has two bolts, so I can handle anything but the Wurmcoil, so I take that. Goblinrabblemaster goes in hard. He never played the Thragtusk, using the green on Ancient Stirrings. I guess he was searching for something else that he couldn't find? Game three he leads with Tron and Map. I play land, pass. He plays Tron piece two. I play Young Pyromancer. He gets Tron and plays Karn, minus on my YP. Here's where I made a mistake. After fetching a Plains my hand was Land, Ensnaring Bridge, Blood Moon, Molten Rain, Bolt, Rabblemaster. I thought it out, decided to go for Rabblemaster for board presence. Should have bolted the Karn, probably, but he had another one.

R2 Merfolk (2-0): Game one a quick Vial gets him going with three (!) Silvergill Adepts but I slowly pick off his stuff and get a Pyromancer, Reveler and quickly overwhelm him when he's tapped out except for his Vial. Swing with all my tokens, he blocks and Vials in a Reejerey. After combat I use Collective Brutality on his Reejerey and then have to remind him all his Adepts die. Bedlam takes it from there. Game two I get a YP, then Rabblemaster. Turn four I Push his Lord while he has a Cursecatcher. He thinks, eventually lets the Push go through, figuring I’m trying to get something else with my remaining Mana. It's a bridge, though, and I manage that with Rabblemaster to not have my Goblins attack until I have a swarm that's too big. Knock him down to three with Bolt in hand, but one in his hand and mana up. Considering it's a Dispel, I let him untap, he plays an Adept, revealing a Lord, Bolt for win.

R3 KCI (0-2): This was my first time playing against the deck and I’m sure I made many mistakes. Turn one Thoughtseize he has 2 KCI, Myr Retriever, Chromatic Star, Mox Opal, Mind Stone, Grove of the Burnwillows. I guess I should have taken the Myr or maybe a KCI? But I took Stirrings. Next turn I top decked another Thoughtseize, took the Opal thinking to keep him off mana ramp, but turn two he goes off. Game two we both mull, I lead with an Thoughtseize. KCI, Grove, Spire, Terrarion, Mind Stone, Pyrite Spellbomb. Take KCI. He goes land, I draw a Wear/Tear and hold Blackcleave, Kambal, KCommand and a fetch. I play the fetch. He plays a Mindstone and Pyrite. I fetch for a shock and Wear his Mindstone hoping to keep him off mana. Turn three I hold up KCommand and pass. He plays Blood Moon. Was not expecting this at all. Blow up his Mox and make him discard. Should have blown up his Pyrite but for some reason I thought it did one damage and not two, which matters because I play a Rabblemaster next turn which he kills. Whoops. Then he just beats me with Myr Retrievers while I Faithless Looting into nothing but unplayable spells and then he EEs his own Myriad Retrievers and combos off. Lots to learn about this matchup.

R4 RG Eldrazi (1-2): Mulligan down to five game one. Drag it out with a Blood Moon but he gets me. Game two I strip his hand down and beat with Spirits, Molten Rain his Eldrazi Temple to win after he tries to stay alive with an Ooze. Game three I mulligan down to five with a Pyromaster, a Bridge and land, Faithless Looting on top. He just accelerates really fast and I’m dead.

R5 Enduring Ideal (2-1) Almost ask to ID just for the PWP and to go home early. I Inquisition a Pyrenean Unlife out of his hand turn one then get in with Pyro and Spirit beats, with a Blood Moon to slow down his Nykthos. hHe plays Ghostly Prison to give himself time. He casts Enduring Ideal, gets Form of the Dragon. I have KCommand and Bolt in hand. I had no idea what to side in. Hazoret for non targeted damage, EE to take care of trouble enchantments, Kambal because he's mostly non-creatures, Molten Rain for utility lands and Wear//Tear because I can get rid of one enchantment? He opens up game two with a Leyline of Sanctity. Then enchantment after enchantment, with a Luminarch Ascension which finally ticks up to four when he has too many Ghostly Prisons and such for me to attack and I die to angels. Bridges come in and I pray. No Leyline after he mulligans game one. I drop a turn three Kambal. He responds with Ghostly Prison. Get in one attack and he casts Gideon’s Intervention naming Kambal, but hey, loss of life is not damage! I get out a Pyromancer which gets named with Runed Halo. Hardcast Souls for some beats, he eventually gets Wrath of God. I put out another Pyro, flashback Souls. Next turn I Tear his Ghostly Prison, swing with the tokens. He draws and scoops. Was one short of having the mana to cast Enduring Ideal.

Ultimately not sure about the sideboard, but I did play a lot of different stuff. Everything ended up being useful at some point, Engineered Explosives probably the least used but still useful. Leyline I’m still up in the air on. Great when it gets there but sometimes you just don't have it and how hard do you mulligan? Maindeck Rabblemaster really helped put on pressure in the games where I needed it, though. Didn't entirely miss either Liliana, but I think having access to them might have proved useful in some cases. Not sure where to take the deck for my next PPTQs or even stick with Mardu or not.

Drama distraction

When I translate I like to take breaks and read the news. I say “like” when it tends to bring me down.

There has been lots in politics. Let’s nof go there. There has been lots in the world of Magic. That kind of takes away the fun.

Standard Showdown tonight. 1-1-1. Lost to Blue storm splashing Jhoira. Neat Esper Control and drew with Esper Control.

As much as I was not excited about pre-rotation Standard, I have been finding Turbo Fog has been fun. But getting out and actually playing thr game was fun and a good reminder of why I do this even with all the negativity going on.

Back to the Grind

Ooh, I was a bad boy over summer. Not a single blog post while in America! Not a line of code written for EPIC.

Lots of translating, though. Lots. Almost to the point where it "interfered" with my "vacation". But it’s good. I mean, can I complain? Yes. Should I? No. I worked to pay off the trip to America and then some. Which is good because bills, bills, bills. Including automobills. Or however the song goes. I never quite hear that one line right.

It’s funny that I say "vacation" to America because it no longer feels like going home. Yes, my parents’s home, which was my childhood home, hasn’t changed that much. But it’s no longer “home” home. Japan is ultimately my home.

And I’ve already been back for almost a week. What. How does that even...

If I learned anything from this last trip, my body does not get along with jet-lag as well as it used to. Or maybe I’m trying to do too much. Or maybe because I am a little fatter, I know, you don’t need to tell me. The scale isn’t lying.

But a few days in and I have already hit up two PPTQs. Blech. Modern. I dunno. I’m sure there are people much more dedicated to the format than I am who are doing just fine but I “don’t get it”. It feels like the price and deck variety of Legacy with the volatility of Standard mashed up into a format with kills so fast you might not possible even have the chance to draw any reasonable interaction and, blah. I am just whining now. But the PPTQ season goes on for a bit more and I’m sticking with Mardu Pyromancer because, well, I don’t know exactly other than it seems not terribly positioned and learning a deck is something. It’s not an easy deck, that’s for sure.

But what is.

I know what’s easy is just eating junk food and sleeping, two things I am trying to organize a bit better. No one would shut up about the “intermittent fasting” “”diet”” when I was back in the States so I figured I’d try it. And by try it I mean it is at least a good reason to force myself not to eat snacks late at night and that has to at least do something for my waistline. Right? Maybe? We’ll see.

Anyway, translation and some tournaments this week. Meetings and presentations for school the week after, and then we slowly get back into the school year grind.

When’s winter vacation begin?

Overworking

So damn hot.

But who cares, who wants to hear about that?

I got a metric fuckton, which I believe is the technical term, of translation work to do that somehow lined up right before I go back to America. And it will help pay for the trip. I mean help. But I am pulling a big duty on translating and in order to have everything done in time I'm going to have to not stream, not play my FF5 Fiesta run and ignore some other things.

But then I should be able to have a good "vacation". I'll probably get translation work then, but that's fine. I want to get better at this to increase potential jobs. You know, the future. Which I guess I still have some of.

I heard the new teacher coming to our town this year is twenty-two. Born in Nineteen Hundred and Nintey Six. I was already getting into arguments about video games on the Internet by then. Goodness. I mean, this person was in fifth grade when I started teaching in Japan!

It doesn't matter. I'm not judging this person so much as I am using it as a way to put my current life into perspective. Am I doing what I want?

Well, no.

So that's the problem. It's been the problem, and it feels like I have just been spinning wheels. I worry that Magic has been me delaying my life in some ways, but in others it is me actually enjoying life, except for the times where my depression gets the best of me and I let my results in a game drag me down. But I let my results from job applications drag me down. I let results from everything drag me down. So I can't blame Magic. Or companies that don't find me a current fit. I can only blame how I let myself feel.

Which in and of itself might not be the right way to go about it, but I do have to acknowledge it, right?

I also have a lot of translation to do.

First Impressions of Core Set 2019

Ah Core Set 2019. The puns that can be made. The fact that it is M19 on the cards but it's not actually Magic 2019. Nor is it the nineteenth “core” set… Wait. I guess if you count Alpha and Beta separately and Origins as a “core” set… Well, holy shit. They lined it up. Or something. Who cares.

Pre-release weekend! I started out pulling a Tezzeret, Artifice Master and then proceeding to go 0-4 in the pre-release. Holy shit. None of my rounds lasted longer than twenty minutes either. Let's just say that… things happened each round. But I did have a game where a turn three Manalith led into a turn four Tezzeret and well, I did win that game.

I think I went a little nuts and participated in a total of six pre-releases, but I am playing in GP Chiba, which is M19 Sealed, so, I mean, practice. After dejectedly going 0-4, I went 2-1, 2-1, 1-2, 1-2 and 2-1. Okay so not great but I started to feel like I had a grasp of the format and was trying out different kinds of decks to see what could be done.

Patient Rebuilding is kind of nuts if you land it at the right time. Against someone without enchantment removal or counters you can just ride the value engine of usually drawing two cards a turn or sometimes four or at the very least just your regular one but whoops, is that your Chromium that got put into your graveyard? I’m so sorry.

Those games went well for me.

I started a league on Magic Online, but the lackluster pool has me less than excited to play. I should crank through it though, as I am going to need as much practice as I can get for Chiba. My goal for this tournament is to build a good deck. I don't feel like I did that last year at GP Kyoto, so I hope to go in a bit smarter this time. Results? Let them fall as they may. I want to know that I registered something decent.

Ninety-Nine Bottles of Water on the Wall

So thirsty. I've been trying to stay hydrated with mostly water, because I am trying to be conscious of my weight, but I wonder if I am doing something wrong.

I’m taking a multivitamin in the morning. Yes, I know I probably pee out cents a day. Might as well fill in the holes that are being missed by accident, right? Unless I totally misunderstand how the body works.

I've been eating a fairly varied diet. Quite hungry at night once it cools down. Cannot fathom eating during most of the day, though. It's just been so hot.

Ugh. I’d hate to go look at what I was blogging last year (Was I blogging last year?) and see that I wrote practically the same thing.

I finished up a Standard league on Magic Online yesterday. 4-1. I was 4-0 going into the end and... I don't want to waste times with sob stories, but seriously? Can't I 5-0 once in my lifetime? Do I have to mulligan down to... Oh, never mind. 4-1 isn't bad.

But then I sold everything rotating and put it towards a Modern deck. PPTQ season is upon us. Plus I’m going to be practicing sealed for GP Chiba, and summer doesn't have many events anyway so I might as well put Standard on the back burner for the time being.

M19 is interesting but I dunno. Looking at my notes, so many of my rounds of the past few PPTQs were against Chainwhirler decks, the lack of a ban has me kind of shrugging my shoulders at Standard. M19 isn't going to change much. It was kind of funny listening to a set review and Chainwhirler came up every other card. Especially funny when it would be a goblin card and it's like “Okay, we are borderline ready for a goblin deck in Standard... except Goblin Chainwhirler probably hurts it too much.”

Depending what I pull from my pre-release events, I might either put together Esper Control with a Chromium in the side or a Grixis Deck if I mange to grab a Nicol Bolas or... four? Three? I wonder how many that deck wants. He will die and you will want to recast him. Hm. It's going to be interesting. But I know most of the FNMs around me are Standard so having a deck together is worth it. But I’m not too excited to play.

That said, a trip to America is coming up in less than three weeks. I’ll of course be doing stuff with my son, but also scheduling time to go to Magic tournaments with my brother and friends. (Hey, my son needs no-Japanese at all, immersive English Experience, right?)

Still thirsty though. And my water bottle is empty. Too tired to get up.