Drafting Unstable in Japan

“Do you speak Japanese?”

I often get this question when sitting down for a round of Magic. To be fair, it's often at Grand Prix events, which people travel around the world to play at, so yeah, there's a chance I don't speak the language, statistically speaking.

I like to joke back that I speak Japanese better than I play Magic.

Sometimes I read Japanese cards too fast even though I’m not familiar with the English card. Then I make a mistake. That happens in Pre-Releases sometimes. It's okay. It happens. It can be pretty bad for the board state, though.

So the tables have slightly turned with the release of Unstable, which is only in English. Everyone has their phones out with Japanese translations. Some of the translations aren't quite right, though. For example, one card gets flying as long as it is held above the battlefield. The Japanese translation said as long as it was raised above the battlefield. So people were putting the card on top of dice or deck boxes, which I don't think counts as being “held”, or at least it doesn't feel in spirit of the game. Especially since I saw a video of the guy who made the set holding the card in the air. So I’ll go with that interpretation.

Despite the language barriers, both drafts I played were fun.

As mostly a competitive player, it does bum me out a little that the cards I got are mostly worthless now, aside from the basic lands and tokens. Yet these were fun drafts. One was with complete strangers and one was with a group of people I've grown to know over the past year of playing Magic in Japan. Both were good times.

What am I doing?

It’s been a week since I wrote on this blog.

It bothered me a lot.

Some days I don’t know why I have it at all. Other than that I have had “a blog” for what, almost two decades?

But I don’t know what it’s for. I like writing, but I never feel like I’m doing something that is reading people or meaning something to anyone other than myself. And I have this bugbear that makes me feel like everything I do has to impact people and slash or make me money.

So why write?

The realization that you might not have something worthwhile to give or you “don’t have that novel in you” is harrowing.

I don’t know. I think that is the scariest thing as a thirty five year old white man who in all regards is “doing okay” but doesn’t feel it.

I don’t know. And I’m scared. I know I’m luck enough to feel this and not be in complete dire straits. But still.

I don’t know.

The Odds

A PPTQ and Standard Showdown today. 2-3 in the PPTQ and 3-0 in the Showdown.

There’s a lesson there, I’m sure.

I was so upset when I lost the last three rounds after winning the first two. But I beat some of the same people I lost to later in the day.

There’s odds in Magic. I’m sure I make many mistakes, but sometimes it’s just odds. I have to remember that I am trying my best and that sometimes it is not my fault.

That can be so hard.

Monthly Modern Masters Finals 2017

Kansai is an interesting place to live. It's not Tokyo, so it's not as big, and everything is a bit more spread out. So the fact that there are people who work to organize more Modern and Legacy events is awesome.

Today was the Finals. I hadn't had the chance to go to many of these events, as they are usually on Saturday which I tend to spend with my son. But we'll be spending a lot of time together these holidays, so I swapped some stuff around to go to this tournament.

I wasn't ready.

I probably should have played some Delver variant like I have for most of the past year. But there's been some Four Color Saheeli stuff going on, and I love the Copy Cat combo too much that I wanted to try it in Modern.

It's... not bad, but it feels like it is missing something. Maybe it's too "fair". It might just be too slow. Then again when you catch someone with their pants down, you have a turn three infinite number of cats.

I went 3-5, but I didn't go 0-2 many of those rounds. The only 0-2 round was versus Dredge, which just got me good.

It's amazing how open the format is. Eight rounds and I only played the same deck twice. Scapeshift. Other than that it was a Collected Company Walls deck, Dredge, Red/Black Aggro Discard, Ponza, Mardu Control, and Living End. It's quite hard to play against so many types of decks.

I somehow avoided Tron and Jeskai Tempo. No control, really, except for a Mardu control. But I can get by if you're not countering my shit.

It was a fun deck and I think I will keep playing around with it, but if I want to be serious in Modern, I just don't think this is the deck for me to play. There's so much people are abusing and I don't get to abuse that much.

Well, sometimes I drop a Siege Rhino and Eldritch Evolution into a Kiki-Jiki. That was always fun.

First Place, Last Place

Two tournaments tonight, two wildly different results.

I am getting better at playing Sultai Energy. I am not getting better at Modern Saheeli Cat. I am unsure if that deck is just bad or if I am making mistakes.

Well, I know one mistake I made twice tonight that cost me. The other times were kind of just games I either extended too far or went for it when I shouldn't have. But there is a big end of the year Modern tournament tomorrow, and I scheduled myself the day to play in it, but I am not thinking I will do well. I should be more positive, but I am slightly regretting my deck choice at the moment. I think it's too late to switch to something else, though.


I woke up at five am for a Kefka at Narshe race. I lost. Kicked my console accidentally. Twice. That'll lose you some time. Well, if I'm that careless then I suppose losing is what I deserve.

Couldn't sleep. Fiddled with a Modern deck. Not sure what I want to run. Tried looking for a card. Went through my entire collection until I found it in my binder. I must have missed it at least three times. I must be tired.

At least I enjoyed some good podcasts.


I was feeling a bit... stir-crazy today. I am not on break yet, but just another night at home did not feel right. And I am feeling better what with my cold mostly gone. So I went to Osaka.

Browsed some card shops in Osaka. It's amazing how some places can have cards for significantly less than others. But the same shop will have a different card for so much more than the shop that had the first card for a higher price. I don't know what dictats this, but I do get some enjoyment from browsing around for the best deal.

Anyway, one shop had a 7:30 tournament so I wandered back there before registration. No one showed up.

A year ago, Hareruya opened up a store in Osaka. This is one of the bigger Magic stores and they focus just on Magic, so it is pretty nice to have the store here. But they opened in northern Osaka, far away from most of the competition.

But the players seem to have gone there. Which may not be a problem for those who live in or near Osaka, but for me that means I cannot make my last train home. So no weekday tournaments at Hareruya. Unless I am driving to Osaka, and I think not. Look up prices of Japanese expressways sometime. Yikes.

That is fine. I still enjoyed my time in Den Den Town, had some good curry and made it home early to get some sleep. I do have a Kefka at Narshe race early tomorrow.

Still, kind of wanted to play some Magic.


I am tired.

Getting over the cold and translating close to 10k of characters on top of my day job has been... Woof.

But then again, I am making money, and there was a time this year where I was making less money, so I shouldn't complain.

I can, of course. But I shouldn't. Then again, I shouldn't be surprised when I fall asleep in front of my computer after getting a lot of work done. Of course, there's a part of me that feels bad that I didn't get more work done.

But there's a Winter event coming that is kind of based off of the Fiesta. I'm still working out the details. But it is schedule to start when winter does, which is around December 22. So I have a little time.

And a lot of work.

Maybe I need some more sleep.


You can tell how busy I am with work just by looking at this blog. If the posts are short, I forgot to write something and did it at the last minute. If there are no posts, I am either sick or working a lot.

This week I was sick and working a lot.

I cannot complain about getting translation work, but damn I got sick and pulled my right shoulder as well and that made this week hell.

Thursday was a holiday so I went to an Iconic Masters draft. Did that again today. Sadly, the prizes were not good on the small draft that I won and did poorly on the big draft. Oh well. I pulled some decent stuff from today's tournament at least so I got my money's worth.

Side note, you can also tell if I feel good about the writing or not if I post it to Twitter or just silently post it and pretend that the post did not happen but actually did write so that I feel good having had dumped out my brain onto the text editor. Yep. Doing stuff with words.

Goodness, I'm tired.


I am participating in a Final Fantasy VI Kefka at Narshe tournament.

I did really bad.

I mean really bad. I forgot to pick up items, I screwed up my RNG, I had characters die because I ran away with characters that should't have run.

And I feel shame.

Now this is just a video game. I am doing this race for fun. But the shame I feel right now is real. I am soaking in it. I have some other things I should be doing but I cannot stop thinking about my mistakes.

Will I make them again?

Proabably, because I am human. But I also need to learn from them. And that is fine. And again, this is just a tournament for fun. But there is still a part of me that takes this so seriously that I can't take any congratulations. People said good game. I said no, don't say that. It was bad. I mean, I appreciate the sentiment but right now all I feel is how awful I am. A part of me feels like I should be kicked out of the tournament for playing so badly.

Wow, what an overreaction.

I need to relax, practice some more and have fun. I did have fun, but I am letting that fun be killed by my shame, and I should not do that. I should just take my lumps, learn and move on. I'm not going to get any other work done dwelling on the mistakes. I know where I messed up and how to take care of things.

Plus, I didn't practice Monday and Tuesday like I had planned because of a cold. That just feels like an excuse, but then again, this is a video game tournament for fun. Goodness, I need to relax.

And get some other work done. Okay. At least perhaps writing out some of this will release some stress.

I can hope.

Doctor, doctor

I should probably go to a doctor instead of just lying in bed waiting to get better.

The throat pain has mostly subsided. My right shoulder is just a mess, though.

I could go but what is the end result? I get some pills that are supposed to make me better, but don’t really. It’s just time, hydration and more time.


Woke up feeling not great. Went to work, did some business. Can’t hone and passed out. Now my whole body is aching and the back of my throat is raw.

Fucking hell.

Other fun

I played in two tournaments today. An Iconic Masters draft and Standard Showdown. 1-2 and 0-3. Yuck.

But I got some reps in with some other decos I’m working on in the various formats. And those games were very fun.

It was very frustrating that my bad luck came during the actual tournaments, but I’ve got to learn to live with that.

Drafting Iconic Masters

I often wonder what my worst Magic skill is. I win a lot of game ones, but two and three I struggle. So sideboarding could likely be one. I also have trouble with mulligans, especially when a hand is “playable”, even if it doesn’t have a plan.

Iconic Masters released yesterday so my Friday Night Magic did a draft. You kept the rare and foil from the pack (they were returned to you afterwards) to disencourange rare drafting. “Luckily” I opened shit. Well, pack three was a Cryptic Command so I kind of got value out of the draft.

I have played a bunch of limited but have generally done poorly. I went 3-0 last night.

I started with a few good red and green cards, but green dried up fast. I tried looking for White after getting a Lightning Helix, but I noticed white was slim pickings while cheap, red creatures and burn were being passed my way.

My deck was fast. New set and everyone was playing to go big. I just went to kill them with cheap creatures as fast as possible. And it worked. I don’t even think I lost a game.

I don’t know if I improved my drafting skills last night, but I did get a better idea of how to go with the flow of what was being passed my way. And it worked out this time.

Prize was a foil token. Yay. Wizards sure screwed up FNM promos.

The Clock

I lost a match to the clock in Magic Online.

That always hurts. Because it it means I am playing slow. And I have things to learn. And that I could be better.

But I have to accept these losses and know that I will be better if I just keep trying and just keep building up the skills.

That is how skills work.

Sauce Boss

Went and got wings in Osaka.

¥1500. All you can eat. You get a drink. I had to drive a bit though, so nothing alcoholic for me. That's fine. I wasn't there for the beer.

Good wings. Well done, nice chicken meat. The all-you-can-eat plan lets you choose from five different typs that apparently rotate weekly. This week didn't offer anything I would call a "hot" wing. There was a chilli and lime wing that was on the spicier side, but the rest were just varios flavors. All good. None that I would call my favorite wings, but it was solid.

I'll definitely have to go back and get some straight-up hot wings some night. But ¥1500 all you can eat was good. I had a lot of wings. It's been a while, but I sure put them away.

Let's not think about how many chickens that was.


I had some alcohol tonight.

Yes, tomorrow is a workday, but there were reasons to celebrate. And I had some booze. I don't do this much so it felt good to unwind.

Ah, life.


Although I have turned to Magic for the majority of my gaming, I still occasionally boot up Hearthstone. It did get me back into the card game mindset, afterall.

I am sure the competitive level is actually quite competitive, but the random parts of the game turn me off enough that I don't feel like dedicating myself to the game like I do with Magic. I still like the Solo Adventures quite a bit.

Figuring out what card combinations are best to take out these clearly cheating bosses (I mean, the game says so) is quite the challenge. It can be frustrating due to the randomness but so far I have completed most of them. Why? The reward for beating the boss with each class isn't exactly exciting, but I feel motivated to do it.

Blizzard did a fine job with this, even though it is frustrating, it is sticky. I want to finish this.

Team Legacy

Three players versus three players. Three decks. No decks can contain cards that are in the other ones. Go.

The format was Legacy. I was on Grixis Delver. I was lucky enough to find two other people who needed a third. They had MUD and Griselbrand Storm. Nothing really lapsed over. We were good. I practiced Legacy a lot last week.


I went 2-3, my team went 2-3. Sigh. It seems to be my standard record. I lost to BUG Delver, beat Elves, lost to Eldrazi, lost to Miracles and then beat Death and Taxes.

The Elves match has a good story. I'll get into that more tomrorrow.

But it was a fun envent. A little different, and got people playing different things. And it just felt friendlier than a normal tournament. I liked it a lot.

The next Grand Prix in Japan is in Kyoto during March, and I hope I cna find a team for that. It is Team Trios, which means Legacy, Modern and Standard so the overlapping rule is not in place. Still, you can consult with your teammates which is a dynamic that adds quite a bit to the game.

Oh yeah, we needed a team name at the last minute so I said Team Legacy. My teammates went with it and we were the only one who did that silly joke.

Night moves

It was 9:30 PM, so I don't know what I was expecting.

But I was tired. And I wanted to do other things with my night. So I kept the lights on, set a half hour alarm, put my phone a good distance from me and put my head on my bed.

Next thing I knew it was 3:30 AM and my phone was close to my bed.

So I got up, turned off the alarm and went back to bed. I have no memory of this at all. I don't feel like I slept particularly well either. Should I have just done something until "bedtime" and then gone to bed and gotten perhaps better sleep? I don't know.

I did walk a lot yesterday, so I was exhausted. 9:30 isn't a terrible bedtime execpt I tend to sleep six hours and then naturally wake up so 3:30 was hey, not the bet of times to be awake.

There might be a lesson here. I am not entirely sure.