Games I beat in 2017: #2 Anodyne

What a weird game. What a beautiful game. Anodyne feels like a Legend of Zelda game made by those who wanted you to question why video games are things.

I have a haunting feeling that I already wrote about this. I can't find the blog post. Was it a lost draft? I cannot find that either, and I am usually good about keeping track of those sort of things.

That haunting feeling sums up Anodyne. It feels familiar, but new. It’s some sort of dream that’s halfway towards being a nightmare but you've already woken up. Or have you? It’s a movie cliche except you're enjoying yourself. Until you're not sure what exactly is going on.

It breaks my heart that a dull game like Undertale can get so popular while a little gem like this passes by unnoticed. Well, for me at least until I get gifted a copy for Xmas.

If you like Zelda games (And I mean real ones, not the 3D disasters.) then I suggest you play this. You will enjoy yourself.

Net Decking

Ah, net-decking. A “hot topic” amongst card gamers because “There's no creative spirit!”

I don't mind it.

I mean, I think about it. What is the best way for me to proceed? I net-deck because then I know it’s on me. The playing part, at least. The deck is out of my hand.

So I took a modified Black-Green deck to last week's Friday Night Magic. I went 1-2. Round 1 was against an Abzan Revolt deck. I had thought about this exact kind of deck, but I didn't know the best way to build it. My opponent was also in a testing phase because the deck didn't seem to work too great. All the games were a grind, but I managed to pull out ahead.

Then I lost to Copy Cat and the mirror-match. The Copy Cat games were hard. He just had answers and draw. Didn't see my draw, although Copy Cat sure packs more. Mirror match was similar. He saw things that I didn’t. This is the problem with little events like this. I’m not sure if I misplayed or not. I think it was just a little bit of bad luck.

And I’ve got to roll with that.

I would walk a quarter mile

I am fat.

Okay, I’m not fat. That is a rude thing to say. But I am not happy with my weight. I could blame The Medication. If anything, though, I have had less of an appetite ever since going on the medication for depression. Perhaps it is just a lack of exercise. That bastard, exercise.

Who am I to call exercise a bastard. Perhaps it was born in wedlock. Again, I am apologizing a lot today.

But I walked the other day. And my thighs are now b-b-burning like a hunk of love. Except replace love with pain. And hunk with eternal. “Burning like a eternal of pain.” That is some shitty grammar.

There is pain. Which is life, I do suppose, so I’ll just remedy that with what I can. Drink your water, children. It'll get that body hydrated. Sweet, sweet hydration. Important even during the winter months.

Which I have to say other than being fuck-cold this year have treated me well enough. No colds. I think my last one was around a year ago. I binged Archer when I could not get out of bed. So that was a pretty good cold as far as colds go.

We are in the last half of February. Time for shit to get warm. Then it will get too hot and I can can complain about that, but for now I can look forward to “Not too hot”.

Ah, life.

Game Day(s): 2017.02.12

I wrote this up on Sunday, but then life stopped me from posting it until now.

I heard it was going to be a big one, but the cold must have kept people in. Fourteen players, the smallest amount I saw this weekend.

I wasn't sure whether to go GB or Copy Cat, so I flipped a coin. It came up Copy Cat but my gut said GB so I went with that

Round 1: Temur Eldrazi 2-0
Gonti, Lord of Luxury stole two Thought-Knot Seers game one. So luxurious. Then my opponent rammed Reality Smasher into Gonti. This confused me. But they had not realized everyone's favorite Lord of Luxury has Deathtouch. Whoops. Game two I stole yet another one but he dumped his hand so fast there was no value. I did clear the board and then drop a Winding Constrictor, pump up my Walking Ballista and then swing for a hell of a lot. Ballista blows to face. Good game.

Round 2: GB Aggro 2-0
My poor opponent. He got mana screwed twice. Game one he just called it after a mulligan and I went turn three Rishkar onto a Snake. Game two went longer. But I stole a Blossoming Defense with Gonti, Lord of Fucking-Your-Shit-Up. Then a Swamp protected my Snake from his Fatal Push. The amount of faking out you can do with Gonti's grabs is just too good. He dropped another Fatal Push the next turn, but the beats just began coming too fast.

Round 3: Abzan Control 0-2
I broke the cardinal rule about not tilting. I missed an opportunity to at least buy myself some time. Although when your opponent draws Ob Nixilis and Gideon off of Ajani Unyielding… While you have been top-decking lands for the past five turns... It is easy to forget that your Walking Ballista could ping Ajani to prevent him from doing his ultimate. An ultimate which in turn makes Gideon's token a 7/7 and gives an Ob Nixilis emblem. That is pretty much a lost game. The amount of answers I had remaining in the deck makes me want to cry, but that is Magic. And speaking of Magic...

Round 4: Aetherworks Marvel 1-2
Fucking Ulamog gacha-gacha. Fuck. That's the game. Sometimes there's some random shit to it and sometimes your opponent just gets the shit they need. Oh, I had answers. But then Ulamog slammed 20 of my cards into the exile and hey, look, the first one was an answer! Oh well.

Made top 8. Got another promo. Yay? Someone actually bought the store out of Aether Revolt packs so our prize pool was Kaladesh. Yikes. Nothing good in the pack I got. Oh well.

The event was over early and the day was mine! So I went to another one nearby. Entry was free! So hey, that's cool.

Round 1: BR Dredge 2-1
Ah, game one I got him with the combo but game two just dragged on. I couldn't hit a sixth land. Trying a version withoutAnticipate this seems to be a potential problem. Thing is, I just hate Anticipate so much. Putting removal instead to deal with aggro decks is a good idea. But it just doesn't work out if you don't draw the stuff at all.

Round 2: Jund Vehicles 0-2 Just smashed. I didn't have enough time to get anything going, and Unlicensed Disintegration stings hard. Both games were similar. Mulligan a one or no-land hand and then try to play stuff but nothing happens.

Round 3: BR Discard 2-1
This one was just annoying. My opponent seemed to have a mishmash of cards. Game 1 was a lot of little creatures that I didn't see games two or three. What he did have was a lot of discard and Goblin Dark-Dwellers to recur it. I had to stabilize each game. Twice I did, once I didn't. He made me discard Gisela early game three but later on when he was down to topdecking I found Bruna. That ended things.

Round 4: UR Control 2-1 All games involved us making our land drops and not doing much else. Until one of us made a push and then the counter wars began. He was playing Baral, Chief of Compliance, who seemed not so great. Yeah, he got some filtering off. I also had to count his mana for the potential spells that he could play. But Baral died to Harnessed Lightning or Immolating Glare the few times he did attack. I just had to save counters for his big spells and counter wars.

Then I somehow made top 4.

Top 4: Aetherworks Marvel 2-0
This felt like revenge. Now to be fair, my opponent whiffed with Marvel game one. I put out a Saheeli Rai followed by Nahiri, the Harbinger. Then it was just a game of "try and protect my board best I could with counters" until Nahiri used her ultimate to get a cat. He scooped. Game two was similar except I there was a conundrum. Do I cast Nahiri turn 4, leaving him the option of dropping a turn five Marvel? He didn't have much energy, and would have to wait to dig into the gacha-gacha anyway. I decided to go for Nahiri. He did have the Marvel, but he never got it off. I just plussed my planeswalkers, kept up mana for counterspells. When I used Nahiri’s ultimate he just showed me a hand of lands and two Ulamog.

So I got lucky. Which I have to realize is part of the game for both players. If I hadn't taken advantage of his low energy situation to play Nahiri, he could have drawn something. A Lost Legacy or Transgress the Mind would have ruined my plans. I had to push, guessing why he hadn't played anything. He had bad luck, but if I had not thought to capitalize on it, I could have risked my own situation.

Top 2: Temur Eldrazi It was late. I knew my opponent from one of the shops I go to. A high school kid, so he was already looking at the clock, not having expected it to go as late as it had. I asked if he wanted to split. Someone gets the mat, someone gets the Planeswalker Points. He seemed fine with that. I didn't need the mat, and I want to get the points for Grand Prix byes. I “won” and then gave him the mat.

I know there have been bans for “bribery”. So I was careful about my language, although I don't think it matters. There was nothing on the line but the mat, which I didn't want and is worth more than the 6 Planeswalker points. Plus, I made a suggestion, not saying who gets what and he forfeited to me. I don't think that’s bribery. People seem to do it at Grand Prix Trials and the like all the time anyway in front of judges. Not to mention the stakes here are much lower.

Biggest flop of the weekend was Gisela. I sided her in so many matches and never saw her. I guess she just did not want to come out to play. So disappointing. I wanted to at least see what it was like to have her against vehicles and the like. Yes, they'd blow her up. But then I'd have a turn 5 play and a turn 6 play instead of just doing nothing on turn 4 because I had none of my removal. I think Anticipate has to be in the deck. The digging is just far too important. I don't like it, but it just seems to be the way it has to be. Negate is pretty good. Disallow can be costly, but countering something like Haunted Dead’s activation is devastating.

Gonti carried so much that I think I might focus on the Green Black deck more than Copy Cat. By the time Grand Prix Shizuoka rolls around things might change. Hell, there is a ban announcement five days before the event begins. So we’ll see. I'll be practicing with both decks.

I forgot my iPad

I have been using my iPad a lot for work this year. Yet somehow this morning for the first time since I bought it last year I forgot it. I meant to put it in my bag. But in my bag it did not end up.

So I get to work and realize that I am doing something every day that requires the iPad now. The students got used to it. Shit. What am I going to do? Well, I have my iPhone, but all my apps are on the iPad.

Except I have Xcode on my computer. And I have the projects for those apps. So I build them for my iPhone and they run. One needed a bit of a layout change but other than that they were up and running in seconds. And then I just used Air Play from my iPhone instead. Classes went great.

I just love a happy ending.

Game Day 2: 2017.02.11

It is a fucking holiday in Japan and I am going to play me some Magic, dammit.

I decided I needed a break from Jeskai Copy Cat and would play the Black and Green Aggro deck at the evening Game Day. I was going to need coffee for that one, though, as it started at 7pm and was going to run for five rounds and then cut to Top 8.

So for my sleep, Top 8 would not be ideal.

Round 1: ¿Superfriends? 2-0
I have no idea what this guy was going for with his deck. Is that insulting? I apologize. He had mana issues both games. He hardly cast any spells except for a Yahenni's Expertise game to kill two of my creatures. He then removed Winding Constrictor with Lost Legacy. I'm not sure Lost Legacy was good choice here. The beats I am delivering come in the way of Verdurous Gearhulk and Walking Ballista. Not that those can be selected, but that’s the point.

I only saw his deck thanks to Gonti. I pulled two black removal spells (Ruinous Path and Grasp of Darkness) game one. Then two Planeswalkers (Jace, Unraveler of Secrets and Ob Nixilis Reignited) game two. I played his cards against him. Gonti's good. Real good.

Round 2: UB Control 2-0
This was a nail. biter. Game 1 I just went nuts with Snakes and Ballistas. Then I stole a Disallow with Gonti. Then he tried to cast a Gearhulk. Whoops. I had his counter. Game me. Game two he had two Torrential Gearhulk when I hit him with a Transgress the Mind. But he also had Yahenni's Expertise. Not good for my board. Especially knowing he was packing Liliana. So I took that and tried making a board. He cleared me out and was beating me with the Gearhulk until I drew a Pokédex. Then it was on. That scry is amazing. I had all the lands I needed. I just kept drawing creatures and playing lands, drawing cards. Filled my hand back up and took over. Keeping watch for when an Expertise could waste me. But it didn't happen. I just kept stealing stuff from him.

Round 3: UR Control 2-1
Game one I did the thing. Game two was painful. He used Shock, Harness Lightning and counters on everything I played. I topdecked land. Didn't see a single Pokédex. Game three I did, but he countered it. He couldn't find red after his mulligan and I just took advantage with Energy Bob and a Servant of the Conduit. Push, push, push. Although I did not play a Fatal Push except for game 1.

Round 4: BG Aggro ID We figured the numbers out and it seemed like we'd both get in if we drew. So we did. I played the games but didn't think about my mulligans game three. How would had the match been on the line? I'm not sure.

Round 5: BG Aggro 1-2 I made a real big mistake here in game 3. I played a land before using the draw from the Ob Nixilis I stole. I ended up drawing a Swamp. This would have let me put in a Walking Ballista at 3 which could have killed their Tireless Tracker. It would have been at 1 to ready to receive glory from a Verdurous Gearhulk the next turn. I should have killed the Tireless Tracker even if I didn't draw that land. They just put my Gearhulk on the bottom of my deck and swung into Ob. It went downhill from there. Games 1 and 2 were many similar games from today, just beneficial for either one of us.

So 3-1-1. Should be enough to get into Top 8. And I was in fourth! So I got to pick to go first in the top 8.

Top 8: UR Control 1-2
And we have the reverse of the last time I faced this guy. Game one just got away from me, game two I took it quickly. Then I got screwed with mana.

Would I play the deck again? Heck yeah. It’s fun and Gonti is a champ.

Game Day 2017.02.11

Decided to play Jeskai Copy Cat for this event. I liked the three Immolating Glare I had put in, but was not a fan of the lack of removal for aggro, so -1 mainboard Negate, back down to 2 and then +1 Raidant Flames.

Round 1: Jund Vehicles 2-0
Got the combo both games. Lost one Saheeli to a shock but was able to recover by digging for another one when they tapped out. Both games were just looking for the opportunity to combo. Having Negate for Fleetwheel Cruiser was great. Saved Saheeli and let me combo next turn.

Round 2: Abzan Landfall Aggro 2-1
I'm not entirely sure what was going on here, but game three he overran me with Battle for Zendikar block enchantments that created 1/1s on landfalls and pumped creatures and did all sorts of things. Game three I managed to Gideon to face. The packing of Ballistas in this plus expecting some sort of dicard made me side into the Jeskai control variant, and that seemed to take out the board pretty well. This is a fine exampel of paying attention to board states. I put down the wrong land and was unable to cast Tireless Tracker on a Tireless Tracker that basically took game 2 for them with all the drawing they got out of it.

Round 3: Black Red Aggro 1-2
Oh, I digged. But then game three was a mulligan down to five and I just could not keep up with the recurring Scrapheap Scrounger. Fucking sucked. I sided in the Angel package to hopefully delay the game and get some life back. Didn't see them. Did see Gideon, who got his ass blasted. Perhaps I should not have dropped him without extra mana to protect him. That was a mistake. I could have probably lived a bit longer and maybe even won. But going down to five I got cranky and had already resigned myself to the loss. Bad mindset.

Round 4: Red White Humans
I felt bad for my opponent. I saw him earlier in the day and he seemed normal. By round four he wasn't speaking. Just pointing and making grunts. He squeaked out "Humans" after playing a Metallic Mimic. It seems he had some sort of pain in his mouth. He didn't seem entirely focused and drew poorly, or at least he seemed frustrated by his draws.
Both games ended with me doing the combo after draining his hand out with various Gearhulk beats.

Top 4: Four Color Green Goodstuff?
I don't know how to describe this deck. Other than it smashed me. Gideon, Avacyn, Walking Ballista, Sylvan Advocate, Felidar Guardian. I actually give on up on tagging that stuff. Way too much. That sounds mostly white and green, but there were red and blue lands of which I don't quite know he was doing. I didn't see it, but he didn't need it. Game one I open with a Gearhulk, two Anticipates, two lands a Glimmer of Genius and an Immolating Glare. So, hey, I think. This isn't bad. I play. Topdeck a land on turn three. Feeling good. Dig with thoser Anticipates. See a lot of Glimmers of Genius. Do not see land. Get stuck at four and while I can kill one or two things, he drops his sixth land with a Sylvan Advocate, I try to blow it up and he plays Avacyn. I scoop.
Should I have? I was at 13. He had a Ballista at 2, and was hitting me for a total of ten. I could have cast a Glimmer but then he would not have dropped Avacyn. So even if I got a fifth land and Fumigate, I was done for. Bad beats. It happens.
Game two went a bit longer but he plays a Rishkar and he almost plusses Rishkar, but then stops himself and plusses two creatures that don't have summoning sickness. I should have counted his land. Guess what he had next turn when I played Fumigate? If you guessed Avacyn, then you are right. I was without anything to counter Avacyn and his board was going to do me in next turn. This time I had no choice but to scoop.

Prize packs were Top Tier Garbage. The promo cards look cool, though.

I need to remember to look at my opponent's cards a bit more. I have gotten into a habit of asking how many cards are in their hand, but I am not counting mana often enough and thinking "What is their out?" instead of freaking out about what mine is.

But hell, I made top four in Game Day. Plus I won a GPT last week. My Magic playing is clearly imrpoving.

I hate Anticipate. For some reason I originally thought the card was put one in hand, one on the bottom and one on the top. That might be nice. There are times where it would be not nice. But always having to shove the other two cards on the bottom is not good fun.

Disallow does not feel great as I can deal with creatures that hit the board in other ways and I want to deal with them interrupting my board or trying to drop things. I may go down to 0 on this. Increase Radiant Flames main and go up on to a 3 Negates and 4 Immolating Glares. Immolating Glare has been great. Would Disallow have stopped Avacyn? Oh yes. Did I have Disallow or three mana at that time? I did not. So, I don't know what the answer is. More thinking? I did have Linvala, the Preserver in hand. I could have played that, had a Gearhulk, her and her angel buddy and then he likely would have slammed into me and dropped Avacyn to save his creatures. Then I could have wiped the board. Ah, hastiness. And hindsight being 20-20.

Digging with the Pokédex

So there is an Early Friday Night Magic at the one store I like going to.

I usually try other decks out during this. Tonight I played this.[^ Sorry for those of you not SSG subscribers. I think the deck is in the paid part.] It's not as competitive and a smaller group. Tonight was four people, so I played everyone once. I went 2-0-1. And the draw was because game two took a long time against control.

But Lifecrafter's Beastiary is absolutely nuts against control. [footnote]Did you know it was called Pokédex during testing? So awesome.[/footnote] Scry every turn? Draw a card for every creature you cast for G? Yeah, the control deck countered my creature. Boo-hoo. I replaced it for G. G! It is ridiculous.

All three decks were control variants. Game one I usually took it with pure speed and then game two I took out the slower stuff in the deck and went with a package of 3 Beastiaries, discard and artifact destruction. And if game three did not go to time during round 2, I feel like I would have gone 3-0. But I still got first place in the little tournament and it felt good. Real good.

In fact, I'm not sure if I want to run Copy Cat during Game Day. Well, I managed to schedule so I can go on both Saturday and Sunday, so maybe I'll go practice Copy Cat Saturday and then play GB Aggro depending on how I am feeling on Sunday.

Negating the competition

So I was looking at the lists of the top performing decks at the PT. I noticed that Negate would counter anywhere from 8 to 16 of the cards in the majority of the decks.

So, do I up from 2 Negates main deck to 4?

Now, Copy Cat runs other counters.Disallow hits anything and has its other uses, but is 3 mana. Revolutionary Rebuff doesn't hit artifacts and gets worse as time goes on.

I tried searching for some math on this, but was coming up with nothing. But the deck has Harnessed Lightning and Immolating Glare (which I think should go up to 3 from 2) to deal with the creatures. upping Negate to 3-of or even 4-of seems like a solid way to deal with the both Mardu Vehicles and GB. If it is time for the combo to go off, it’s some of the cheapest protection that you could ask for. Other than Dispel, but Negate hitting planeswalkers and artifacts. Artifacts which are often vehicles. Negate seem like a good deal.

Dealing with a resolved Gideon was the biggest issue I had outside of pure aggro smashing at me. And the side has an extra Fumigate and Radiant Flames for aggro.

This is all just thoughts which I’ll be putting to the test over this weekend. Aether Revolt Game Day is this weekend, so I’ll see how Copy Cat performs. I expect even Japan will hop on the Mardu Vehicles train.

Grand Prix Shizuoka Trial 2017.02.05

Grand Prix Shizuoka Trial 2017.02.05

Spolier: I won.

It ended up only being an eight person tournament. This meant only single elimination rounds. One loss and I get some packs at least. Well, roughly $15 for a pack if I lose round one. Two if I lose round two. I think it was six packs for coming in second and eight for first? Something like that.

But I won round one versus Jeskai Dynavolt control. Then I won round two versus Black-White control. Then my final opponent said that all he wanted was packs. I asked if I could have one. He agreed. The pack was nothing, but now I have two byes for Grand Prix Shizuoka.

I was lucky today. Game one was a lot of back and forth until I attempted the Copy Cat combo to lure out some counter spells. I ran my opponent down on resources and began beating with a Torrential Gearhulk. Game two he just didn’t draw land. That sucks. But last week I lost by only drawing land. Such is Magic. Perhaps there is more to these losses and wins, but often I am not able to see it.

Round two I the effectiveness of Gifted Aetherborn surprised me. It kept things at bay and made it tough for me to just get in Gearhulk beats. Removal plus Gearhulk beats did win out.

I missed a few things. I dropped Gideon, Ally of Zendikar with a Gearhulk out against a tapped out opponent. All I had to do was make the Emblem and win. I still won, but that was a silly mistake. I am not used to using Gideon.

I also forgot the Oath of Jace trigger several times. I did the same thing in GP Chiba with Delver of Secrets. I need to get in a habit of putting a die on top of my deck to remember upkeep triggers.

I didn't use the combo once in my four games, but who can complain. I just need to practice the deck a lot, especially against Mardu Vehicles, before the Grand Prix.

Assuming Felidar Guardian remains unbanned.

Casual Standard 2017.02.02

I am gullible.

Or Mulder-like as in I want to believe. Nah, let’s go with gullible. I let my opponents string me along in Magic. Even if they don't think they are doing it. Or maybe they are. I don't mean to insult anyone’s intelligence. Except my own.

Standard last night was six people.

Here is what I brought.

(The name Copy Cat has stuck but oh how I want to call it Frosted Flakes. Oh well. I smell a cat-ban soon.)

Half of us were on Copy Cat. One third of the group was playing a Black-Green variant. The last lone feller was playing an Esper Improvise deck. When I beat him round two, that was his second loss to Copy Cat. I didn't combo him out, though. I just had Gearhulk beats game one and Gideon beats game two.

I think my control play is improving.

The guy seemed frustrated by having lost to the same deck twice. I get that. So he dropped. I wish he didn't. Now, if my round one opponent had won, I’d have played round 3. He did not so I got a bye. Hoo-ray. I love paying money to not play Magic. The store clerk gave me a promo card as an apology.

I love Japan.

Looking at my round notes, I noticed a few things. I was not good at writing down Saheeli Rai pings. I would often scry and then forget. Now, the proper order for Saheeli is to scry and ping. This can matter in cases of redirecting the damage to Planeswalkers. But I was just flat out forgetting to write down my opponent taking damage. Not good.

I also believe I forgot the Oath of Jace upkeep trigger. That’s right. The card is more than just “Draw three, discard two.” That upkeep scry is important. Especially with Saheeli or Nahiri on the board because that means more digging.

I also countered a Spell Queller when I shouldn't have.

I love the card’s name in Japanese. 呪文捕らえ (Jumon-torae) which one could translate as “Spell Captor”. Now, the English name sounds better than “Spell Captor”. But the “torae" part kind of sounds like “try” when said fast. And I always loved it as “Jumon-try” or in my head, “Try and cast that spell!”

Anyway, I digest.

I cast Saheeli. Opponent has five mana. I have a Disallow. Opponent casts Spell Queller on my Saheeli. I Disallow it. What was I thinking? With a hand full of cards my opponent counters the Disallow with a Dispel. Untap, upkeep, draw. He plays land number six and does the combo. Cats all up in my face.

Why did I try to counter the Queller? I was at twenty. I could have handled the Queller some other way. Then I would have had Saheeli. Plus, he would have had to protect that Queller hard or I could combo. Alas, I fell into a trap of my own mind. I did not need Saheeli then. She just would have been nice. Should have played it slower.

Tuesday Modern 2017.01.31

I'm bad at Magic the Gathering.

I want to get better, though. So I play. But I need to think more about my play. So I’m going to do that. And I’m going to try to be as honest as I can about my playing. That will be the hard part.

Modern Tuesday

Ah, a Tuesday of Modern. Which I would prefer on Monday because of alteration. But this is Japan. It’s on Tuesday.

I moved some cards around to play Grixis Delver better. Less Bloodstained Mires and more Polluted Deltas. Fulminator Mages and Engineered Explosives to deal with a variety of things. Tokens and Tron which I was expecting. I saw none of this.

Well, some of it. The tokens, that is. Plus the guy sitting next to me wsa playing Tron. He died. He needed an Island one game. But that is another story that someone else should tell.

Round 1: Burn?

Okay, so this guy is running a version of burn I’m not too familiar with. Lots of artifacts, lots of goblin token making. Monastery Swiftspear, Goblin Guide, Atarka’s Command, Signal Pest. It was fast. Game one I’m down to under ten life before I stabilize and my playing Tasigur makes him upset.

I have trouble trusting people. He could have been realizing he was about to lose, but my mind tells me he is playing tricks and is going to win. Tasigur plus a soon flipped Delver take the game.

Game two I mulligan twice and as I draw my third hand I make a note that I had done so. “I won't need a third mulligan!” I think as I draw no lands. Going down to two fetches and two Serum Visions seemed okay enough. Then he turns a Mox Opal into three Goblins turn 1. I just cannot find an Engineered Explosive or anything to take over the board again. Game three repeats the first one. Delver plus Tasigur. I’m feeling good. I win.

I’ve noticed people often write down how many times they mulligan. And how many times their opponents mulligan. This seems like useful information. I decide to write it down.

Round 2: Grixis Control

Only one mulligan this match. Game two for my opponent. Game one he rips my hand with three discard spells. Then it is back and forth with land drops until he starts putting out creatures and a Bedlam Reveler sticks. I dig for answers but I can't find them. Trying to reflect upon this game, perhaps I kept an opening hand that didn't do enough. Both of us played land after land. He just had a threat that stuck.

Game two I do what Delver decks do. I play a threat and protect it. I regret not remembering much about this match.

Game three I learn again that having three Lightning Bolts is not impossible in Modern. I have a Fulminator Mage with Snapcaster Mage in hand and Lightning Bolt in the graveyard. He swings with Tasigur while I’m at 13. I let it through. He drops three bolts and I look at my Snapcaster Mage and Mana Leak and sigh. Why didn't I kill Tasigur? It wasn't just a Gurmag Angler. He was going to get Tasigur activation value each turn I let it pass. My only outs were battle tricks. I wasn’t going to double Bolt Tasigur. Maybe I could dig out a Terminate. Maybe he had enough counters. But I didn't try. He did.

Round 3: Kiki Chord

I had never played against this deck before and was not sure what was going on. Kiki never showed up. Except for when I used Kolaghan’s Command to kill his Eternal Witness and make him discard his one card in hand. My siding was bad. For some reason I thought taking out Tasigur, Gurmag Angler and the Thought Scours was smart. I replaced them with Fulminator Mage and more counters. Disrupt his mana base! Counter that shit! Perhaps somewhere in my brain I thought I was running Young Pyromancers like in my Legacy Deck. Perhaps I thought Delver and the Mages, Snapcaster and Fulminator, would be enough. I was wrong, and he beat me with creatures while I had plenty of counters to stop things.

What I needed to take away from this was to jot down more notes, perhaps sooner after the tournament. I need to play slower. Or at least look at the board and my opponent’s hand before just saying “Okay”.

A New Drug

Last year I went on medication for my anxiety. Last week the doctor looked me straight in the eye and asked “Do you want something for the depression?”

I’ve heard such bad things about depression medicines that I had resisted. I had resisted for so long. Not that I think medication is a joke. There’s just the side effects, especially my favorite of “May cause depression”. Plus there’s always been that voice in the back of my head going “Well, perhaps other people need it. Sure they do. You’ve never attempted suicide, or even thought about doing it. That much.”

That voice was likely Depression. Or Anxiety, who is pretty fucking quiet these days.

But daily medicine feels like exercise to me. If I have to make myself do something every day, I could just be working harder. Oh, no. I do not judge you who does it. You have your reasons. I’m just a person without reasons. You know. I’m worse than you. You, you do what you have to do. I do it because I’m selfish.

Again, likely the nasty voice of Depression.

So, I am on a drug. A drug for Depression. I can tell that nasty fucker-of-relatives is still hanging around back there. But it’s a little quieter. A little more subdued, or at least a little more overwhelmed by a part of my brain going “Fuck you, Depression. And you too, Anxiety. Fuck you both.”

Saying that I’m well or that I’m “fixed” after a week would be a lie. Saying that I’m not worse, or at least not the same would be a lie. I am better. Is it a lot better? Scales are weird. Am I different? Yes, and for that I am a bit grateful.

Roughly $10 a month for these two meds. All hail insurance. And as far as I can tell, I’m lucky enough to just be a little sleepier. but then again, that could be the occasional staying up until 2 or 3 am playing Magic. But let’s blame the drugs. It can be our little secret.

Breaking Traditions

Every year I play Chrono Trigger from start to finish. (Well, define "finish" as one of the various endings. Sometimes I used New Game+.) I have done this for… Well, a long time now.

This year I didn’t.

I started. I intended on finishing! But at the last minute I decided to spend New Year’s Eve in a different way. So I didn't finish the game. I broke tradition.

Well, I played the game. And 2017 includes me finishing the game. And I might play it again this coming December. The thing is, this bothers me. As if I have broken some cardinal life rule that, well, I just fucking made up.

2016 was a lot of that for me. I tend to log the games I complete and write a post about each one. I started, but didn’t. Then I got into Magic: The Gathering again. And my blogging tapered off until I tried again and then lost track again.

So I don't know.

One thing I do know is this: I enjoyed playing Chrono Trigger on the train December 31. And again while lying in bed January 1, hungover. And Ending 6 (Spoilers?) where you see Robo and Atropos playing out the Crono and Marle bit was adorable. And then Tata runs in after Magus but there is Crono, Marle and Lucca. What? That was interesting, but I sure wish there was more to it. Was this just a quick idea tossed out to give extra endings? Or were there limitations that prevented us from getting more?

That is what I would like from a Chrono sequel. A short RPG with a whole bunch of time paradox and twists and turns where everything you do has some weird effect.

If this game does exist, I want to play it. If it does not. Hm.

Grand Prix Chiba 2016 Report

When I started playing Magic back again in August I said to myself, “Self, just some casual Standard.” Then I built a Modern deck. Then I heard about Grand Prix Chiba. When I got the okay to swap my schedule around and take off the Friday, I built Legacy.

Whoops.

I practiced a lot and was feeling good if not a bit nervous. I got my two byes with a win at a Grand Prix Trial. I took the shinkansen to Tokyo, had dinner with a friend. Hooters is a weird restaurant. The wings are pretty good, though. Pretty, pretty good. Especially considering what you can get in Japan. Enjoyed an alcoholic beverage with some people and then went to sleep. On Friday I took the long, packed Tokyo rush-hour train to Makuhari Messe. There I enjoyed getting cards signed and playing in a Legacy League.

The highlight of the rush-hour trip was feeling a hand pressed against my penis. It took me a brief second to realize that it was my own hand.

I never played in a league before. They are neat. You just keep playing people who are available until you get all your matches. I went 3-1, beating Dredge, Lands and Reanimator. I lost to Eldrazi. But that was a 1-2 match and the games felt good. My prize was four packs. Opened a Combustible Gearhulk. Not bad.

Had some time before meeting more friends for dinner. So I played a Commander event. The guy to my left comboed while me tapped out counters in hand, but my entry pack contained a Spirebluff Canal. Not bad for the ¥500 entry fee.

That evening I enjoyed walking around Akihabara with friends. We had drinks and steaks. I went to sleep. Got up. Saturday trains are much less terrible.

My first Grand Prix began.

I went 4-2-3.

Round one and two were byes. This was nice. Staying with a friend reduced my costs, but my travel time to and from the event increased. I do hope to have byes again if I am ever going to another Chiba event. because otherwise, wow, I will have to take an early, early train.

Round 3: Grixis Delver: 2-1

What a way to start. The mirror match! My opponents play intimidated the hell out of me. Later he told me he was new to the deck and had little experience but he sure did not carry himself that way. An important lesson here. There was another lesson: honesty. A few turns into game one he raises his hand and calls for a judge. I start to freak. Did I do something wrong? He tells the judge he just drew a sideboard card. He gets a game loss. I learned that if I called him out for a deck-list check he could have gotten disqualified. So the honesty was nice, but also better for him. As it was a mirror match, the card (Darkblast) would have been quite questionable to see game one. It's a common sideboard card. Game two he gets the Pyromancer engine going and I shrug. Game three I play the land denial game and he’s not drawing much. True-Name Nemesis hits the table and he’s done for.

A friend of his was watching the match and asked if I sided out my Force of Wills. I say no. They kindly explain to me this is a bad choice because in the Delver match up, you do not want to 2-for-1 yourself. It’s all about sticking a threat and protecting it. Force is going to reduce your resources. It’s hard for me to side out Force of Will. I remember pulling one back when Alliances was out. I remember trading, trading hard, for the remaining four. I remember just buying them two months ago for quite a price. But the game logic has to trump emotions.

Round 4: Eldrazi: 0-2

I lost so hard to Eldrazi. I actually went to the judge booth afterwards. I know I sound salty, but the guy went Eye of Ugin, Mimic, Endless One x2 games one. And then again game two. Then he had Simian Spirit Guide for my Dazes both games. Then he drops Wasteland. Maybe he was lucky. I told the judge that I hope it was luck, and I felt bad doing it but I don't know. The match just left me feeling weird. Not bad for losing just weird.

I shuffled his deck real good. I always do a little weird cutting at the end. Your top seven go to the bottom. I shuffle a bit more and then put the top X cards somewhere into your deck where X is the game number. So if he actually manipulated his deck, hot damn. I doubt it. But I figured telling the judges made sense. Just in case. Sounds like he was lucky.

Round 5: Lands: 1-1-1

I took game one. Deathrite Shaman and well-timed Wastelands can do it. Game two I was keeping him at bay and made a silly attack when he could have made Marit Lage. I brainfarted and attacked with a Delver when I shouldn't have. True-Name Nemesis and a bolt would have given me the game had I not been stupid. He was at nine. I was swinging with TNN, a Delver and a Pyromancer. He outplayed me, though.

How? He used his Thespian Stage to turn it into an extra Maze of Ith at the end of my turn. Then he dropped a land and ended his turn. He was completely ready to make Marit Lage, while I focused on the extra Maze of Ith effect. I attack with everything, he uses the real Ith on the Pyromancer, makes Marit Lage and blocks my Delver. I smack my head and go to game three.

A short game three where neither of us could pull it off in time. We draw. I curse under my breath (No, in a loud voice, I'd wager.) because now I am in the Draw-Zone. Slow decks and slow players likely abound! Hooray?

Round 6: Deathblade: 2-0

Pyromancers crushed him. I got some advice before the tournament started. Be careful about drawing because you increase the chance you play against slow decks. I was about to call the judge on him for slow play. Yeah, Brainstorm can lead to difficult plays. I get that. I know I have thought long and hard when playing that card. But his general play felt slow. I got worried that I’d be drawing a lot more. But my deck worked like intended.

Round 7: Shardless BUG: 0-2

Ouch. I hate to say “My opponent got lucky!" but even he was praising his own luck. I don't know if I misplayed at all. I just felt like he had everything he needed and I was drawing into lands and counters a turn too late. Game one, we are both below ten life. I am keeping a Goyf and Shardless Agent at bay with a Pyromancer, lots of tokens and a True-Name Nemesis. He goes into top deck mode, gets a Brainstorm, gets the Toxic Deluge he needs. Swings and game one is over. Game two is similar although I hold back TNN expecting a Deluge to take out my elementals. He Deluges. I drop TNN and and have a Jitte ready to go. He has another Deluge. He smashes my face. I need to win the next two rounds to get to day two.

Round 8: Death and Taxes: 1-1-1

And another draw happens. Game one he gets Rishadan Port and even though I have a variety of lands, he taps down exactly what he needs to. Game two a well timed Fire Covenant takes out his board. My Jitte-wielding True-Name Nemesis ends the game. Unfortunately games one and two dragged out long enough that game three was going to have to be quick. It was not. When time gets called he casts Swords to Plowshares on my second Delver. Good for him, it would have killed him. But bad for him, that gave me the one life I needed to survive his last attack.

Round 9: Shardless BUG 1-1-1

The Table of the Hopeless. A win would leave us at 17 points, one short of getting to day two. I take game one in a few turns. Nothing sticks out in my memory. I side in a Jitte, hoping to take care of his Baleful Strix and other annoying critters. I go risky and drop a second turn Jitte, he goes turn three Pithing Needle on it. I have no way to counter it. As I search for my Ancient Grudge he searches for anything but Abrupt Decay. I cannot keep a creature on the board, he cannot get one on the board. The game just dragged on until he finally lands some creatures I am no longer prepared to deal with. Game three starts a minute before time. A judge watches us play and as we're on turns he says “You can just agree to draw." My opponent says that's fine with him. I look at my mulliganed down to six on the play of three lands that drew into two more and saw no way out. We drew.

I suppose I learned to watch the clock. I need to learn when a game is hopeless and move to game three if I took the first one. There is a gut feeling I have to “Never give up” because, well, I have had plenty of games that I pulled a win out of nowhere. But the clock is important. It is easy to forget about and it is easy to not see the clock from some seats. Regardless, it is something to keep in mind

I’m sure I made more mistakes than I noticed, but I felt like my play was fine. I just couldn't get games done in time in some matches.

It was my first Grand Prix, and I began playing Legacy in September. I feel good. I learned a lot, played well and didn't even tilt. (Except for that Eldrazi moment.)

I am loving Legacy. There are some monthly tournaments and I’m going to try my best to go to them. I cannot wait for another Legacy Grand Prix. Time to focus a bit on Standard (ugh) and Modern (kinda ugh) for a while.

Day two (well, my third day) I just got some stuff signed by the other artist there. Then I played a Modern League where I learned I like playing Suicide Bloo a lot. I do wish it had a more tasteful name. I pulled a Kaladesh Chandra out of my prize packs. With a bit more time before going home I played another round of Commander. Again, I am caught with my pants down as someone combos off. This time it was just lots of land. What can you do.

It was a lovely trip. I cannot wait for the next Grand Prix I can attend.

Well, it isn't bad

Final Fantasy Fifteen opens up (Gasp, spoilers.) with the main party pushing their car down the road. If this does not summarize the past, fuck, ten years(?) since the game’s “”announcement"" then I do not know what does.

I like the game.

So far.

I think everyone (Okay, I am just talking about one person: me) was expecting a total disaster, and it is not. It is a fine video game. Is it the exact Final Fantasy I want? Well, no. But that hasn't happened since... FF10? I mean, 11 and 12 are disasters. 13 and its sequels were fun enough, 14 is another fuckstorm, but this is something. This I can play.

Thanks to the Bravely games and I am Setsuna I have had that good-good RPG feeling. Even my foray into the Trails of games has not hurt. Fifteen is hitting the spot of a modern-isa game to play right now. Plus those Final Fantasy bits that get my bits all hot and slash or bothered.

That’s four hours in. We will see how it keeps up.

A Long, Hot One

Doing my business in the bathroom during my free period, some other teacher came in and did theirs. Then as they left they turned off the lights. I sat in the dark, alone, for a few minutes as I finished my, ahem, duties and then left the room.

Habit on their part. I would wager. Saving electricity. I do not mind, actually. Bright lights tend to bother me. I think it is the blue eyes? I read that somewhere.

I saw a headline the other day for an article about how lonely people replace human touch with long showers. Makes sense. Might not be true. Might be. Oh, life, how coplicated you are. Science is always at work.

It is getting cold. I am worried that this medicine for my anxiety is making me sleepy. I slept for eleven hours yesterday. Why does the idea of a “twenty minute nap” seem so appealing at 8pm? Maybe because “I can get up and brush my teeth after the nap!” and “I don’t have to get up, I just have to yell at Siri to remind me to get up in twenty minutes!” I have a vague recollection of the alarm going off. Then I have a the solid memory of waking up at 7:30 in the morning. Whoops.

I still have not played World of Final Fantasy. I am scared to. What if I do not like video games any more? I have not played many in the past few months. Been out playing Magic. But it is not always easy to make it somewhere where there is a tournament. There are none in driving distances outside of Friday Night Magic and Sunday tournaments. Otherwise I gotta ride that train and that money adds up. But who likes staying at home alone every night? Some people, I guess. I envy them.

It is time for a long, hot shower.

Getting Bye

I won a Grand Prix Trial on my birthday.

That's a hell of present.

My mind is too much of a blur to remember much, but Death and Taxes is an uphill battle. Jund is a pile of fuck that I hate dealing with. And Delver BUG is annoying. But when they have no green mana and you blind-call Tarmogoyf with Cabal Therapy? And not only are they are holding two of them but three Abrupt Decays? Well, you can’t help but let out a sigh of relief. And then turn cards sideways and smash face.

After the tournament was four of us played a little game where everyone opens a pack then picks eight lands. The packs get shuffled together. Everyone is at ten life and gets four cards. The remaining cards go in the center. You can play lands you draw from the pile or cycle them. If you don't play a land from your hand you can pick one from the pile. But when there are no more Islands there are no more Islands. So choosing those eight lands is important.

We each bought two packs and used them as the prize pool, along with the rates and foils from the packs. Holding a Nissa in hand all game, unable to play her, and knowing I was not going to win sucked. But I have my play-set. I cannot complain.

After that I got some curry for dinner and drove around for a while. Picked up a copy of World of Final Fantasy. But I was not in a playing mood. I listened to some podcasts, drove around. Browsed some shops.

Right now I sort of feel like I wasted my evening, but perhaps it was necessary. Maybe the mental strain of all these Legacy tournaments got to me. Maybe the open road and some podcasts was just what my brain needed.

Right now I feel tinges of regret, but also a bit relaxed. So perhaps I made the right choice. Grand Prix Chiba is in less than three weeks. I have two byes. World of Final Fantasy awaits me tonight.

Things are not so bad.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year, everyone. You know, because I was born today and so my actual year begins today intead of January first. Oh how clever.

How's that working out for me? Being clever. Christ, Fight Club is a shitty movie. That is a good quote, though.

If 70 people read this, there is a 99.9% chance one of you has tody as your birthday too. If so, happy birthday. Treat yourself. Read some Wikipedia, maybe? Good facts, you know. Wikipedia is never wrong.

Had some bad Magics yesterday. Round one in the GPT was against Miracles. We went to time and I just could not draw anything to take the dude out. Sure kept his board clean, though. Terminus fucking sucks. Round two Merfolks smashed over me. Oh well. Dropped, went and got a late lunch. Then I drove to a store that was doing a 7pm Legacy tournament.

Five played in that. Twelve were playing Commander. I have not even seen that many people playing Commander. But they sure seemed to be having a good time. Well, the folk who were making infinite combos going off seem to be having fun. The others just kind of sat there. I wonder about that format. But lots of people were playing. So I think they might have been having fun.

I'm off the Stifle version of Grixis Delver and am now playing the Cabal Therapies. I'm not sure. But it seems to be the more standard version which may mean it is better, which may mean it is more well known. But I was still able to pull off some wins in the five-person tournament last night. Lost against Tin Fins. Got kind of grumpy as I just could not seem to grab any counters. He was not even ripping them from my hand with discard spells. I just didn't have them.

Beat some WU deck I cannot remember the name of. Stoneblade? Was it WUR? Memory getting fuzzy. Then I tied against Eldrazi. That was annoying. Games just went long. I could stablize, but then just could not finish him off due to his big ass things. Well, game one was real long. Game two I locked him down and pulled it off right after they called time. Whoops.

Gonna spend today at another Grand Prix Trial. Last chance to get those two byes. If not, a long day of Magic awaits me. Or not if I lose real quick, but then at least I will be in Chiba, near Tokyo and friends and can do some stuff. Should be fun.

Spoiled myself with a steak dinner last night. Might spoil myself with World of Final Fantasy tonight. Or a box of Battle for Zendikar. I mean, that chance of an Expeditions is pretty sexy. Plus Gideon is rising in price like crazy. But nah, no box, I think. I mean, playing Magic itself is enough of a gamble. Why bust all them packs when the chances are so low?

Wish me luck at the GPT!

I have an Apple

This one is a little less of a bummer.

When I was a freshman in 1997 I wrote a Quick BASIC quiz as part of a class assignment. The theme was mocking how stupid Macintosh computers were. My programming teacher was a jolly, vest-wearing man. As he took the quiz he laughed, passed me and said "You just haven't used one yet."

In my daily life now I use:

  • A 2015 MacBook Pro
  • A 2013 iMac
  • A small iPad Pro
  • An Apple Pencil
  • An iPhone 7
  • An watch
  • An tv

I sat for way too long trying to decide whethere I needed those a's and an's.

That is a hell of a lot of Apple products. I am often called a fanboy. Okay. Sure. But I have to say I haven't had many problems recently. None. And I do quite a bit.

Every work day I am hooking up the tv to a projector or TV and using AirPlay from my iPad to teach class. The kids sure enjoy the Pencil. I use that same iPad for translation work when I'm on the train or out and about. You know, when I don't feel like carrying around my MacBook Pro. Which I use for my translation work as well as developing apps which I use in class on said iPad and tv. Also, I make games which development goes on both the MacBook Pro and iMac. And the iMac I stream on. I do have to boot intoWindows

I don't think I have to explain the amount of use my iPhone and watch get every day. It's a lot.

So I'd like to think I do a lot of work with it. So it weirds me out when people say "If you don't have problems you don't do a lot of actual work."

Hm.

Well, I guess some problems include Siri not being great with foreign names. So if I want to listen to Ana Ng I just have to say "Hey Siri, play Lincoln by They Might Be Giants". Being in Japan, I tend to reference people by their relationship to me instead of their names. That is quite Japanese, so it works out. Siri just does not play nice with some names.

But I log every single yen I spend. Every single one. I want to make sure I'm spending them yens the right way. Lifting up my phone and saying "Hey Siri, open Drafts." Tap that little microphone button. "680 new line curry dinner" and boom I just have two taps to add to my spent file.

So I'm happy with all my Apple stuffs. Maybe I am a fanboy. Maybe you have problems. I'm sorry. That sucks to hear. I hope things work out. I am getting lucky with a little bit of life. That makes me happy.