0-5

Holy shit I win three games in five matches tonight. It just was not happening. I definitely made some misplays, like using deadeye tracker during my upkeep when I was at one, and that could have been a blocker to buy me a turn. But I merged out that with twelve lands left in my deck and thirty some cards remaining I should be able to grab some of the remaining removal. I drew two lands but I guess that is punishment for being cocky.
I really messed up the final turn against a panharmonicon deck because I was confused as to what cards belonged to what player under Hostage Takers. One wrong click and suddenly my opponent just did like eight panharmonicon triggers and I was dead on board. It felt real bad.
So, I feel confused. I don’t think my deck is bad, I just don’t know how bad I’m playing and how bad the deck is it feels weird. I haven’t felt so confused in Standard for a long time.

Lost and Found

I knew I put last year's tax paperwork in a safe place.

Taxes are easy in Japan. As a part-time freelance translator I do need to take care of them because some years I pay too much in taxes and some years I don't pay enough. Silly system.

But it's easy because I just go to the local tax department with my documents, tell them a bit about my deductables and they (a college student in training it seems like) fills out the stuff for me, I get my payment or refund slip and walk out.

It takes a couple of hours, but I got podcasts to listen to or translation to do. It's funny to be making money while getting your taxes done.

So anyway, while it is easier, having the previous year's paperwork makes it even easier. So last year I decided to put the documents somewhere secret. Somewhere safe.

I searched my entire apartment this afternoon. Could not find them. When I was just about to give up and get dinner I noticed a brown envelope in my work bag. You guessed it: There it was. I had been carrying it with me for the past year.

I guess that's safe?

Anyway, I am ready to get my taxes done, so that is something I cannot complain about.

Fuck

Went 2-1-2 (draws go in the middle right?) at the pptq today. I can name one mistake I made, but I think I played pretty well although I think that made me play a bit slower. Then again, my bye wasn’t exactly my fault.

Anyway. Holy shit I feel sick all of a sudden. So I’m going to bed st. 8pm. Good night. L

4-1

I opened two vampire lords in this week’s limited tournament. A little bit of decent white and black removal made me go that way. I pulled two Dragonskull Summits, and probably should have registered with a red splash for some better removal from the start but I did side into it starting round three.

I only lost to a red green deck that got Ghalta and lots of big stuff. I couldn’t get there fast enough. But the rest of the rounds I just went as fast as I could to pile little flying vampires on my opponent.

This is the first time I have done this well in an online tournament so I feel good. I have no idea what the MOCS point means, but I guess I have something to look into.

Another 1-2

Went back to Black-Blue Midrange. Lost to Esper Approach and Merfolk. But they were good games and/or I didn’t draw my excessive removal. So what can you do.

Unlike some other decks, I’m feeling good about it. So I think I’ll do some practice with it tomorrow and take it to the PPTQ on Sunday. I think it has potential.

I’m a loser, baby.

1-2 at another Standard Showdown. No pack. Boo.

I’ve been playing Black Green Midrange and... eh. I’m not feeling it. I haven’t been feeling any deck in Standard this time and since I don’t feel like sticking with a deck and mastering it, that also doesn’t help much.

So, much like my progression on life, I’m feeling stuck. I just don’t know what I want.

Making decisions is hard.

I made a mistake

Standard Showdown, Round Three.

Winner gets the prize pack and a Standard Showdown pack. Loser just gets nothing.

I look at the board. Chandra is going to either put me down two more life or flip something that can help my opponent win the game. Gonti grabbed a Glorybringer. Chandra is at five loyalty. I have two Zombies, a Jadelight Ranger with two +1/+! counters on it and Gonti. Vraska is able to make a Pirate. I do that. I swing into his four creatures. I burn one with Glorybringer. He chumps one, let's Chandra die.

Next turn brings back his Eathshaker Khenra. I Fatal Push it. He targets my Pirate. Swings with his remaining two creatures. I go to mark my life total. I was at five. I thought I was at seven. I didn't check the life totals.

I should have used the Fatal Push on one of his other craatures, swung into Chandra, leaving up two blockers. I could have had the game. I threw it away. Because I didn't look at my life total.

This is bugging the shit out of me. I don't need the prize cards. I have the cards I need to play Magic. What I need, what I crave right now is to not feel like an idiot. But I let something slip by and I made a mistake. And it cost me the match. And I feel so bad.

Not because I didn't get prizes. Not because I didn't win. But I failed. I failed to examine everything. And it bothers the shit out of me.

But what I have to do with this is learn, not hate myself. Right now there is a part of my brain yelling at me for being such an idiot. But maybe I was tired. Maybe I just brain farted. Maybe the ticking clock on the round had me worried. Maybe one hundred fucking things, but in the end I made a mistake. And I have to live with that and learn from it but I also have to find a way to not let that part of my brain, no, not let my depression own it and put me down. I made a mistake in a game.

That's okay.

It reinforces to me that I need to be careful and do math a bit slower. I need to think things through. I need to not let myself rush if I need time. I need to think out possibilities. That is what separates me.

But goodness, Depression just won't shut the fuck up now. And seriously, Depression, shut the fuck up.

Is it a cry for help if you're not crying?

Sometimes I wonder if this is my mid-life crisis. I'd hate that. I don't want to be dead at 70.

But I still feel like I am in the middle of some sort of existential crisis. After a three day weekend where I played a good amount of Magic and lost a good amount of Magic, I went back to work. Only I felt a complete and utter sense of dread.

I don't know. That is what is scary. I don't know exactly what I want, but it's not this.

Well, if I was able to stream myself playing Magic and other games. Run the Fiesta and other events. Translate here and there. Make a game now and again. But the goal would be survival off of those endeavors. If I could survive, then I would. But that seems like folly to want because I’m just not in the state of being able to do that. And there are so few people who can. So wanting it feels stupid.

Doesn't stop the heart wanting what it wants.

But I feel like a dummy. That's why I feel bad when I stream because I feel like I am yelling at the wind. When I release a game, it’s just a cute little moment like when a baby shits itself and smiles from joy. “Aw, look what the man with a CS degree did in his spare time.” Even this blog feels like a failure. I spend time every day writing for it, or feeling bad about not writing for it, and since it makes me zero money, I feel bad.

Then again, what am I providing that people would want and would make me money? Sounds greedy, but I got them bills to pay. The CS degree did my little good once I decided to teach English in Japan for a couple of years. Then I got “stuck” because I needed some job to pay the bills while my (now ex) wife was staying at home with the child. Well, that sounds like I am blaming others. I made what I thought was the best decision at the time. Now things are getting tough. Plus, I owe her money for said child, whom I do love. Also, I hate the fact that I feel the need to preface, or say afterwards in this case, that I love my child. I do. Maybe I’m afraid people will think I’m a shitty father and a shitty person. Maybe I think to much about what others think.

Wow, I sure made some good decisions, huh?

But what is complaining going to get me? Maybe some pity. And pity can be fucking nice at times! But it doesn't pay the bills. Which, wow, I get back to that a lot, don't I? Every month when I get my depression/anxiety pills I get asked if I think about suicide. Not in so much as I am going to do it. It does seem like a weird question, or at least worded in a weird way because I hear about suicides. So of course I think about suicides.

Okay, I’m being pedantic. The doctor means if I am thinking about doing it myself. No, but then again there is that bit of depression where existence just doesn't seem worth it. That doesn't mean I want to die per se. It just means I want some sort of change. Change big enough to make me feel like life is something. That I’m not just grinding away to back past debts and future ones for my child.

I do kind of like playing Magic. I suck at it though. And almost feel like there is some part of me resistant to being good. Like yesterday. Round one. I saw a potential play but just didn't do it, not thinking that if my opponent had one piece of removal I was dead. Of course they had the removal. But I was feeling sad about my opponent's 7 lands on the table while I was stuck at 4. I was feeling bad for myself, which I am realizing doesn't do much good but is a bad habit that sure digs in.

What am I getting at?

I'm sorry. I’m sorry to you all. I feel like a burden. I know that is the depression speaking, and I wish it would shut the fuck up. Because I know I haven't done grievous crimes. Shit, there are people out there doing terrible things and getting away with it. And I have the gall to feel bad for trying to do something with the mess that chemicals in my brain seem to want to work with? There I go, feeling bad again.

Where was I?

Yeah, I hope this isn't a midlife crisis, because I don't want to be dead by 70. I do want to play Kingdom Hearts 3, after all.

1-2-2

My PPTQ record was not good today. In fact it was worse than last week.

Variance. Misplays. I had fun, but letting losing not get to me is frustrating.

After draws in rounds two and thre (A Mardu player who I would argue was slow. I probably should have called a judge. I probably should have watched the clock.) And then versus UB Control which was a grind and when I beat him game two after losing game one the "Time's up!" bell rang. And I groaned.

I wasn't exactly tilting, but when my round four opponent was hemming and hawing over something I said "Look> I drew two rounds. I do not want to draw again. Let's play faster." Then he scooped. In a sense it felt like I forced him to do so, but on the other hand I had the board quite dominated and he was stuck on three lands for the past few turns. I wasn't going to win next turn, but it would have taken a lot for him to pull out of his situation.

Then I lost to Mono Red. It's funny becasue I played against Mono Red in a Standard Showdown I went to after the PPTQ. I beat them. That is what my deck should do. It just did not want to against my PPTQ opponent. Or I made a misplay I am not aware of.

That is what bugs me the most. Am I playing bad decks? Am I playing poorly? I feel like I'm at a stage with Magic where I don't know what I don't know.

And that is scary.

But I had fun. Which is what I was supposed to do.

Audible

Grixis Control just hasn’t been working for me. Went 0-2-1 at a Standard Showdown and wasn’t feeling the deck at all.

I’ve decided to put together another deck that while I have less practice with, I have played around with a deck similar to it and have a feeling it will be something I can play.

Big risk before a PPTQ?

Hell yes. But I’d rather take a risk than go in with something I feel completely disassociated with.

A 3-2

There seems to be 8pm seald PTQs on Magic Online on Saturdays.

That's about the time I get home from my day with my son.

Coincidence?

Well, I went 3-2 this time. So I got prizes. Just packs, but hey, that is something, and I think I made the best use of what I had. I ended up going Black Red pirates. Very aggro with a few high-end big and black Vampires. But in the end I lost to a control deck that just had tons of removal and took advantage of the City's Blessing and then a Blue/Red deck that had lots of unblockables and good enchantments to go on them.

And I did not have the requisite removal to handle it.

So it was tough, but I got a 3-2 and felt like I got a little bit of a handle on the game. There's a sealed PPTQ a week from Sunday, well, today, so a little bit more practice can't hurt.

But goodness, that round five person just had a stack of solid bombs. Ouch. That's limited, though.

Indecisive

Confidence is not one of my strong points.

I have been working with a deck for the past few days for Standard but right before Friday Night Magic I changed it. I don't know why. I went more Red in the Grixis Control than it was possible It was able to beat the Grixis Energy matchup, but lost to Green Black Control and God Pharaoh's Gift.

I tried out Azor's Gateway and Cut//Ribbons but it just didn't pack the punch that it did in a deck like GB Control. I never flipped a Gateway. It was always removed by GPG or GB Control got theirs online before I could get mine. The looting was nice, but I don't know. It just didn't ever work out. Not enough games maybe?

But I finished the night putting my deck back to what it was. I'll practice with it Saturday night online, do another Standard Showdown on Sunday and take it to the PPTQ on Monday.

I am worried I am making a bad choice, but I don't know what choice too make, so I should probably stick to the deck I have been playing enough repetitions with.

Always the bridesmaid

Came in third in tonight's Standard Showdown. Okay. That's not bad. I don't think I made too many misplays, although it does feel kind of shitty to lose the last round to a deck that mine is supposed to beat.

Variance, I suppose? I saw little card draw and my opponent always had his counters when he needed them and he got my Scarab God off of a Gonti, which I just couldn't counter. So it was good on him. I can't point out too many mistakes I made. Myabe I should have held off on using a Fatal Push until I could have something die and then push his Virtuoso? I didn't see a single Scarab God all the matches, and perhaps I was too eager to get my Gearhulks out and should have waited until it was clar, but I don't think I would have ever gotten that chance.

I was really banking on getting an Hour of Destruction off to ruin his board but my Azcanta wasn't digging for one. I guess that happens. But I like the deck still. Even though a part of me still feels as if I'm "playing a week behind" everyone else. I just don't feel like I'm on top of Magic even though I'm reading all the news and following the top decks. It feels like there's some secret I'm missing.

I think that's part of the depression/anxiety of my brain. That part needs to shut up.

A bad run

I've been practicing a lot with Grixis Control for the PPTQ coming up next week. Well, it's mostly Blue and Black with some Red splashed for Abrades, Angrath and Nicol Bolas. Those three are some very powerful cards.

Tonight I got smashed, though. I let myself tilt after a bunch of games where my draws were just bad. I mean, we're talking keepable hands that never see a third land after cycling.

I made a big mistake one game by tossing a land into the graveyard with Search for Azcanta when I should have taken it so I would be at four lands and could start casting Glimmer of Genius. But I was so tilted from my previous excessive mulligans that I started playing too fast.

Again, I really have to start slowing down. I know I keep saying this, but I ruin my own fun by just doing things that don't make sense or at least make sense in the minute but the second I do them I realize how dumb they are.

I'm a bit worried that the deck has too many two and four drops and not much around the three area other than Disallow, and its UU requirement worries me.

I am kind of doing okay with it on Magic Online, but I'm just not sure if it is what I want to bring to the PPTQ next week.

Learning to fly

I am impatient.

I always have seen myself as a "control" player in Magic, but I am not much of one since I am so impatient. I lost a few games tonight because I hastily took things I shouldn't have with The Scarab God, did not respect the possibility of double Lightning Strike hitting me when I had a Gearhulk in hand that could have gotten me some extra life to stay alive one more turn, and so on.

I need to slow down. The breathing exercises I have been doing do help in some situations, but I am still impatient. And I need to work on that. The number of Magic Online button mistakes I have made recently is still not zero, but they are decreasing because I am paying attention to it.

This is progress. Now, I got in six rounds of practice with this Grixis (well, basically UBr) deck. 3-3 so far. 2-3 in the league, which is not great, but I did start off another league with a win, so that is good. Plus I beat Mono Red, which is a tough matchup.

I just have to keep talking myself through the plays, thinking about them - not too long because there is a clock - and practice my way towards next week's PPTQ on Monday, our national holiday.

Woo. Three day weekend.

Doing the less fun

For some reason I thought I wanted to do a sealed event in Magic Online tonight.

I did. All I got was frustrated.

My pool was bad. I got beat by someone who had three of the Elder Dinosaurs and the ridiculous red uncommon from Ixalan.

But that's sealed. And outside of pre-releases and PPTQs or GPs, I don't think I like sealed. And that is mostly because it is a way to get Planeswalker Points, potentially qualify for things or win stuff, and also build up my collection. But with Magic Online I don't really want to build up a collection. I just want my Legacy deck, maybe a Modern deck I'll put together sometime and a Stanard deck to pracitce with.

So I have to stop doing sealed online, unless it's a PTQ. I did that the other night and that was fun. But this regular sealed event online? Not as much fun. So I won't do them anymore.

PPTQ Dominaria 2/4

Hm. Well, I went Grixis because I have been playing it a lot lately. But I didn’t like Whirler Virtuoso, so I cut it for four Dire Fleet Daredevils.

I think they did well. The opponents often had things I wanted to steal, and first strikers made for confusing moments for several fights. Even against God Pharaoh’ Gift I was getting to draw cards.

Glorybringer honestly felt underwhelming. It was often killing things that weren’t too exiting and felt a bit slow. Rekindling Phoenix was a champion. Even if my opponents took care of it, it wasn’t just with one card most of the time.

Grixis really has a problem with enchantments. Consign//Oblivion and Commit//Memory might be making their way into the decks. Negate isn’t enough.

I think four Vraska’s Contempt definitely need to be in the 75 to deal with stuff that just sticks around way too long.

Other than some shitty draws, I was pretty content with how the deck worked. I tried one main Duress to try to play with the Daredevils, but I don’t think it was worth it.

I’m probably cutting the Glorybringers for Gearhulks, and try to find space for some of the bounce. There are too many artifacts around to not be running red or green and as long as Second Sun decks are around, Blue is needed too, I feel. With the Scarab God as good as it is, I think Grixis is the way. It just needs tuning.

2-3

I'm at some sort of stuck place in Magic where I go 2-3 in tournaments. I just do. I can win the first two rounds, and then I will lose the next three. Just tonight I got to the fifth round of a PTQ, 2-2 and yup, lost the game. Mulliganed a good amount.

Oh, I don't want to whine. What's a bad beats story good for anyway.

But dammit. There is this block. And I know it has to be some mistakes I am making. Maybe it's tilt from the multiple muligans I always seem to get game five. I dunno. It feels like the world, i.e. randomness, is out to get me.

I know intrinsicially this is not true. It is just randomness. And I probably am making mistakes that go back to deckbuilding or sidebording. So there is improvements to be made.

But damn sometime it just feels that way.

Failure

I didn't get that job. Yeah, that was my feeling after the interview.

Then I went 1-2 at Friday Night Magic. Then no one wanted to play Modern for some reason other than me and one more person. I won that match with Mono Blue Living End.

It was a night.

I'm feeling confused right now. I'm not sure what I want to play in Magic, I'm not sure what I want to do for a job in the future, I'm not sure if staying in Japan is a thing I should even do now. Other than my son, well, right now nothing feels that important.

Although he is important.

But I just feel lost. At least I am making progress on things but still. I don't feel quite right.

Positive thoughts

I’ve been trying to think positively.

Today I bombed an interview and then went 1-2 in a Standard Showdown.

I’m frustrated. Maybe the interview didn’t go terribly, but the interviewer just didn’t seem that interested. Perhaps it was their fourth interview that day. Maybe they had a bad day. Maybe I just wasn’t a fit. Who knows. I’ll find out the results when I do.

I felt weird afterwards. So I went to a tournament. Standard Showdown. I got a pack and pulled a foil Nissa, The other players agreeded that I got the best pull, which is cool, but I went 1-2. I was more interested in winning. Which, I should probably focus less on. I made a silly misplay in my last game that spiraled to my loss.

I suppose it’s just frustrating when your opponent has the win on the board and doesn’t take it and I don’t even get to take advantage of that. But he got lucky I did not.

Hey, it was just a small tournament. I got practice for the PPTQ on Sunday and a feeling for some sideboard changes to make. Grixis Midrange still feels good and I like playing it.

Tomorrow is FNM, so I’ll try to get lots of reps in. Saturday I spend with the boy. Maybe I’ll be able to play some Magic Online, but I don’t have Grixis built there like I do in paper. So I might not get the practice I want to.

Part of me is itching to play Sultai. Maybe I should practice that online and see how I feel.