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.
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.