Busting on 21

スクリーンショット 2019-05-23 15.43.27.png

I have been playing 4C Dreadhorde in Standard recently and been having, well, decent success. Winning lots of games. Feeling confident. Loving the decision making of deciding what card to name with Tamiyo, Collector of Tales.

But Command the Dreadhorde is a hell of a card. Mirror matches can come down to who can “combo off” first, and milling with your Tamio can help your opponent.

Round five in this Sunday’s MCQ I was looking to go to time for the second round in a row. I try to play at a decent speed. I might play too fast. But this was the mirror match, and while I quickly scooped game one and game two did not take that long, game three was an absolute mess.

Getting a draw was looking to be the “best” outcome for me. I might have just scooped to my opponent. Judges were watching us and this makes me nervous. I don't know why it makes me nervous, but it does.

The round ends. I finish turn zero, not accomplishing much. My opponent takes turn one and gets a Command the Dreadhorde. I untap and try to find a Duress. No such luck. I pass the turn.

My opponent casts Command and looks through our graveyards to decide what to take. I think about my options. Maybe if I get Tamiyo then I can get back a Ritual of Soot, clear the board and not die. Maybe. I’m half tempted to ask the judge if I can look at the top card of my deck to see if I should just concede or not. I know I can’t, but my opponent was taking quite some time. I don't blame him. It's complicated.

The judge tells him it's about time to make a decision. My opponent has a number of cards selected. The judge asks if those are his targets. My opponent says yes. I say it resolves. (I don't have counterspells, anyway.)

My opponent counts the converted mana cost of the cards. Twenty one. He looks at his life total. Twenty one.

I put my face down on the table, trying not to laugh. I’m beet-red. I feel like shit. This is not how I want to win, but I did win. A friend congratulations me. My opponent did make a mistake after all.

It didn't feel good, and my opponent likely would not have made this mistake if not under pressure of time. Then again some people make this mistake on Arena because they miscount. I probably will do it too sometime.

I did go on to lose the next three rounds. So, karma?

It happens at midnight

I'm sitting at a store in Osaka, seven minutes at the time I'm writing this to the midnight pre-release of Ravnica Allegiance. I might be too old for this shit, but gosh darn-it, I'm going to have some fun.

It's hard, though, because I always end up doing badly at pre-releases. I don't know what my problem is, and I haven't gotten better in two years.

That's a bit disheartening, but hey. I am playing a game. That's good enough.

Southern Osaka Legacy at Anoa Design 2019.01.14

The store I go to most often seems to be running a league for Southern Osaka. I’m kind of embarrassed that I don't entirely know the deals, but what it meant was that there was a Legacy tournament going on today and a chance for me to play more ANT.

Round 1 - Grixis Delver

I just got ran over these games. I think I'm not entirely sure when I should be using my discard because I never felt like I had a chance to go off. Then again game one I felt like I should be proactive because this guy is sometimes on Miracles and a Counterbalance would make my life miserable. He was on Grixis Delver, though, and I just never found a chance to do anything. 0-2 and I’m 0-1.

Round 2 - Aluren

I start thinking about my use of discard and play a little more cautiously. I Duress my opponent and see two different Harpies. Aluren! Also, the coast is clear so I go for it. Game two I hit him with a Duress and he has a Shardless Agent and Leovold. For some reason he decides to go with the Shardless first. I take this opportunity to double cantrip my next turn and when he taps out to for Leovold I have a Thoughtseize which doesn't get him a counterspell off of Leovold and despite him having two Surgical Extractions to try to keep my Cabal Rituals from Threshold, I’m able to get storm high enough when I hope he isn't siding Mindbreak Trap after he draws a bunch off of Leovold. The Tendrils get him. 2-0 and I’m 1-1.

Round 3 - Turbo Depths

Funny enough, this guy was one of the first ANT players I ran into. He had loaned his ANT deck to, funny enough, the guy who won the tournament. Spoiler: That wasn't me. I did at least get to ask him some ANT questions after the match and he gave me some good pointers. Game one he gets a turn two Marit Lage but I’m able to combo off. Game two he discards and casts Surgical Extraction on my Tutors. I try, but I can't get anywhere. Game three was interesting. He casts Duress. I Brainstorm into some lands and another Infernal Tutor. So here’s my dilemma. Do I put both Tutors on top but not have a way to shuffle my deck, put a Tutor on top and hope he doesn't have Surgical Extraction, or leave both Tutors in my hand and put Ad Nauseam on top, hoping he takes a Tutor but doesn't have Surgical Extraction and lets me keep them all. Or do I put other stuff on top? I opt to put both Infernal Tutors on top and lose the Ad Nauseam. After I draw my two Infernal Tutors he casts Lost Legacy naming them. Hey, at least I get to draw two cards! I was worried he'd name Tendrils and I’d lose the game. But I was able to cast a Past in Flames and generate enough of a Storm count to try my luck at the Ponder and Brainstorm game and I find Tendrils of Agony. 2-1 and I’m 2-1.

Round 4 - Sneak and Show

Game one is classic who can combo first. I do. Game two I try for a risky line with LEDs and flashing back Past in Flames but he has more counters than I do. Game three I start off by discarding his key cards and eventually I see he has two Emrakul and a Griselbrand so if he top decks Show and Tell or Sneak Attack I am dead. We both cantrip for a while and eventually I am able to cast Duress, see he has nothing, drop some Petals and LEDs, cast Chain of Vapors and sacrifice my lands to bounce them all back, get more store and cleanly hit him with lots of Tendrils. 2-1 and I’m 3-1. And that's good enough for top eight.

Top 8 - Maverick

I’m fourth place going into top eight so I get to play. Opening hand has no lands. Ship it back. Six cards, no lands or Petals to try to cantrip myself into something so I go to five cards. It's mediocre, but I keep hoping to use my discard to buy some time. My opponent seems to top deck whatever I make him discard and I don't have time. Game two we both mulligan down to five. Even playing field. Or so I think. I scry a Thoughtseize to the top and play my fetch. He leads with a Noble Hierarch. I draw, fetch, and Thoughtseize to see a Wasteland, Choke, Ethersworn Canonist and Knight of Autumn. Maybe I should have fetched a basic Swamp, but with the few cards in hand I felt like I had to risk it. Every choice seems bad to me. Had I taken the Choke I might have had some time, but I took the Canonist and he top decks, Wastelands my Underground Sea and plays an Ethersworn Canonist. Well, that’s Magic. 0-2 and I’m out.

I had to take a moment after that round and bite my tongue. I wanted to whine. I wanted to scream. Why, oh why do I finally make a top eight and just have two pointless games? Where is the luck? Why isn't this fair? Oh, wait. It is fair. I had my chances and got some luck and worked hard to get those wins I got earlier in the tournament. This time it didn't work out. Frustrating? Yes. Part of life? Yes. Luckily I’m at a store with friends so I just take a breather and watch the remaining matches. I make sure to watch the other ANT player and I don't see them take any lines that surprise me, and they win the tournament. So I feel a bit better about my plays and realize it was just some bum luck.

The tournament is over and a bunch of us regulars go out for dinner. It's a good time. I ended up seventh place and my prize wasn't great, but it also wasn't an expensive tournament. Whatever. I wanted to practice ANT and I felt like I got some excellent practice in.a

Hareruya Legacy 2019.01.13

Hareruya Cup 2019.01.13
 Seven rounds of Legacy! Let's go!


Round 1 - Tinfins

This guy and I seem to get matched up all the time. It's fine, because he's a good guy, but still kind of a ridiculous amount. Game one he Thoughtseizes me and takes Duress. I top a Dark Ritual and combo off. I almost conceded before realizing I forgot to write down the loss of two life from Thoughtseize. I had him, but almost thought I didn't. Whoops. Game two he ripped apart my hand and then got the combo. Game three I had a chance to Tutor for Ad Nauseam but somehow forgot about the card. Although, at the time I didn'trealize the way to win versus Children of Korlis. I at least learned afterwards. I think my side-boarding for Tinfins is wrong. 1-2 and I’m 0-1.

Round 2 - Sneak and Show

Game one I rip apart his hand and get a quick combo. Game two he plops out Emrakul turn three and I try to go for it but fizzle. Game three he mulligans down to three and starts with Leyline of Sanctity. I’m looking at two Thoughtseize and a Duress. I thought having discard against a three-card hand would be good! He gets a Show and Tell for Emrakul but the next turn I don’t forget Ad Nauseam. I ritual off, cast Ad Nauseam. He has no cards in had. I go down to six but I get two LEDs, a Tutor and Past in Flames. I ritual back up, Tutor for a Chain of Vapors and he concedes. 2-1 and I’m 1-1.

Round 3 - Grixis Delver

Ah, Grixis Delver, my old friend. Game one I rip apart his hand and win. Game two he gets a quick start and I cannot find a single discard spell. I try to go off on my last possible turn but he has Force of Will. Game three he makes me discard Infernal tutor and then casts Surgical Extraction. I try to stay alive and go off hoping to Past in Flames into cantrips into something, but fizzle. 1-2 and I’m 1-2.


Round 4 - Mono Black Reanimator

Another player I run into often at my "local" store I do. He's been playing Mono Black Reanimator as long as I've known him. So it was no surprise when game one I am face-to-face with a turn two Iona. Scoop. Games two and three I make it through Leylines of the Void. I also was lucky to dodge Surgical Extraction. 2-1 and I’m 2-2.

Round 5 - Miracles

Afterwards my opponent said if Miracles makes it to turn four they have a good chance of winning. I'll have to remember this. Game one I took in no time. Game two I cast Duress to see two Vendilion Cliques and I know I’m in trouble. Didn't get there. Game three I manage to get the right mix of discard and rituals to combo off. 2-1 and I’m 3-2.

Round 6 - Miracles

Wait a minute. Well, game one goes long and no, I don't win it. There may be something to that previous advice. Game two is a clean and easy win. Game three we don't have much time and I go for it a turn too early. I cast Duress and it gets countered. I should have feared another counter. He had it. Had I waited he might not have dropped his Monastery Mentor. I might have at least gotten a draw or had a chance on my last turn if he tried to get me in time. Either way, I took a risk and it did not pay off. 1-2 and I'm 3-3


Round 7 - Grixis Control

Game one he stumbles on lands but I can't take advantage. He gets rolling and Bolt-Snapcaster-Bolt brings me in range of death. Game two I made a big mistake. I managed to get a turn where I could go off. I have a huge graveyard. I cast Duress. He's got Marsh Casualties, Force of Will and Surgical Extraction. Plus five mana up. I take the Force. I start the combo and he casts Surgical on my Infernal Tutors. That's okay. The Storm count is high. If I flashback my cantrips into either Tendrils or Empty the Warrens then I can win. All I have to do is Duress away the Marsh Casualties. I cast a cantrip, look at the three cards, say “Shuffle” and my opponent says “Okay”. I grab my deck and as soon as the cards get put in we both go “Wait.” I had cast Brainstorm, not Ponder. Whoops. Judge call. It takes some time. In the end we both shuffle my deck and I draw a card. I don't feel great about this, but we both messed up and the card didn't help. I flashback Ponder and find Tendrils. Game three I start ripping apart his hand. He casts Hymn to Tourach but I have Flusterstorm. I have two Thoughtseizes and hit him back to back. He has double Force of Will, Jace the Mind Sculptor, and a Surgical Extraction. I take Jace and the Extraction. Between the Ad Nauseam and Infernal Tutor I have along with the mana, I think I’m good. He top decks Jace. I know he has Force of Will, so I try to sandbag but Jace gives him enough card advantage and I lose. 1-2 and I am 3-4.
 My round seven Thoughtseizes might have been wrong. Maybe too hasty. Maybe I take a Force, next turn cast again and try to go for it. I felt bad about the Brainstorm fuck-up, though, so I don't feel too bad about losing.
 I learned important things and put them to practice soon after. Sometimes you need Ad Nauseam. It's never fun, but the deck needs the card. I was hoping for a positive win record, but in games I was 10-11. Not too shabby. I’m excited to play more Legacy, and that's a good thing.

Friday Night Magic 1/11/2018

So, in the end I decided to go to FNM tonight. There were a lot more people than I was expecting, and I only went 1-2 but at least I had some fun games.

I did have two completely non-games, but who wants to hear me complain, right? Actually, I think I did a decent job at controlling my emotions. It’s an uphill battle, though.

Not much to talk about the deck, though. I played the Naya Midrange that I took to the PPTQ last weekend and I continue to be unimpressed. That’s it for this Standard, though. My one worry is that with the next set giving us all ten shocklands, the meta is going to be so wild for a while and I don’t have any desire to build decks. As much as I love Magic, deckbuilding is boring to me. I don’t want to think of an idea and make it. I want to play the game with the best stuff that I can.

So maybe it’ll just be some drafts, Legacy and Modern (barf) for the forseeable future?

I am excited for the next set, at least.

Standard PPTQ 1/5

Thirty-three people puts us at six rounds. Here’s to a long day. As much as people have been talking up this Standard as being good, there is no deck that I have liked. I spent the majority of the format on various Phoenix and Drake decks and I honestly could never do much with them. Chromatic Black was fun but I wanted to take this one seriously. So I sleeved up a Naya Midrange deck I found online and after putting some reps into the deck on Magic Arena I felt good enough to take it to the PPTQ.

I arrived at the store with my decklist already printed. Not something I commonly do, but I think it helps me not try to make last minute changes. I name the deck “Knights in White Gruul”. That might be one of my best ones yet.

Round 1 - Chromatic Black

My mind like to pretend it is karmic justice that I give up on a deck only to lose to it round one of the next tournament I’m in. Of course this is nonsense. My losses were due to two misplays. Game one I went through pretty quickly and actually showed now Green. This might have been an advantage. Unsure. Game two I mulligan down to six and play to avoid wipes. Alas, his removal is strong and I drop a Carnage Tyrant when he has a Plaugecrafter sitting under Karn. Whoops. Game three starts off with another mulligan. He gets a quick Karn which I punch through, but make the mistake of giving him a Cast Down instead of a Swamp. See, I’m thinking that I can stifle his mana a bit for Cabal Stronghold, but this bites me in the ass later when my two Shalais are taken care of and my Rekindling Phoenix gets hit with two Cast Downs. A kicked Josu Vess drops and I’m dead. I did die with three lands in hand, so my options were not exactly strong, but I can at least pinpoint the mistakes that cost me the game. I am actually unsure if this was Chromatic. I never saw a Chromatic Lantern, although I did see Treasure Map. Didn’t matter. 1-2 and I’m 0-1.

Round 2 - Treasure Red

Is this Big Red? I don’t know. It’s Treasure Maps, Karns and good Red spells. Kind of exactly what this Naya Deck was designed to beat. Game one I blew up his Treasure Map with a Knight of Autumn and his mood significantly changes. I slowly build up knights and History of Benalia helps me win. Game two I keep a risky hand. But two lands, removal, a two drop creature, an Ixalan’s Binding, a History of Benalia and a District Guide make me think if I get land three I’ll be dropping my History and getting there. And I did. I start to wonder if this deck wants Treasure Maps of its own. I don’t know where they would fit, but the District Guide gets me a mountain so I have double Red for the Phoenix I drew. Two Histories, Shalai and all the other junk just puts enough pressure on him when the Binding locks him out of Treasure Maps. 2-0 and I’m 1-1.

Round 3 - Treasure Red

It is matches like this that make me wonder how decks are even capable of winning. It was a classical “draw the wrong half of your deck” situation. I had single removal game one when he filled the board game one and sweepers when he had single threats game two. As I write this words I am so fucking angry. And I know that is unhealthy. Part of it is knowing that my PPTQ year, and I hit them pretty hard in the past year was nothing but three top 8s, and nothing higher. And my depression tells me that it never will be. (Not to mention PPTQs aren’t a thing anymore. I guess we should soon find out what will be replacing them.) I know my depression is wrong in that it cannot predict the future, but I’m just angry. It’s just a game. And it is unhealthy to tie my success in a game to my happiness, but I don’t know how to not do that. 0-2 and I’m 1-2.

Round 4 - Jeskai Control

The deck did what the deck was designed to do. Jeskai couldn’t keep up with what I was doing. I just kept putting on enough pressure that I would eventually drop a Shalai and they would have to counter it, but die to my attack, or not counter it and be unable to use Settle the Wreckage. Both games came down to that.

Round 5 - Drakes

Game one was a good back and forth but me eventually punching enough damage through. Game two I sat on a Lyra a bit too long, but I was not in the position to throw her into a Drake with potential Dive Down backup. Eventually Ral got me. Game three I flooded. Happens.

Round 6 - Drop

I normally don’t drop from events but going home and playing some Magic Online felt like a better use of my time. I did feel like a bit of a jerk because I had to run out in order to make my train, but I did not want to wait around. I have to be more careful about how I spend my time.

I am not happy with how emotional I got. I mean, emotions are fine, but I let myself get way to happy and sad from my results. I have to work on this. It was at least a fun little deck to end the Standard season with, but bring on the next Standard. Hopefully I can find something I really like.

Missing Out

The past two weeks are the first in a long time that I have not attended Friday Night Magic. The only other times I can think of are when I’m somewhere for a Grand Prix. I miss going out for these quite a bit. There have been holiday events lately so I have gone and seen friends. I also hit up several tournaments over before the New Year. Plus there's Arena and Magic Online.

It is a bit cheaper to stay home but... It was a ritual of sorts. I am not a religions man, but Friday Night Magic was a thing I went to. With my car in a questionable state, I am afraid of driving it out there and then getting stuck.

I would get home late and my sleep would get messed up. Perhaps this is not a good thing. As far as earning Planeswalker Points, well, it was never great. I could get anywhere from one to ten because these are not big events. Not to mention it took three hours of driving. Being there from seven pm to one am was just a little bit more time spent playing than driving.

Which I knew all the time but still did because I liked it. But there were parking fees, and gas, and the tournament itself. Not that I have particularly enjoyed these Friday nights I have stayed at home.
 I don't know. This has given me something to think about but I don't know what to do.

Hareruya Osaka Modern 12/31

New Year’s Eve!

Round 1 - Walls?

Don't know this deck. But I was not able to combo game one before he got a metric fuck-ton of walls and played Arcades. I have no idea how to side, but I’m expect graveyard hate and maybe Leyline of Sanctity. I was right about the Leyline. 0-2 and I’m 0-1.

Round 2 - Dredge

Game one starts with a Shriekhorn. Things don't get better. A ridiculous board smashing into my face soon after. Game two he has a slower start and I manage to storm off at 2 life. Game three I mulligan down to enough rituals and an Empty the Warrens, but I waited too long. Turn four he casts Stain the Mind for Empty the Warrens. Didn’t even know that was a card! 1-2 and I’m 0-2.

Round 3 - Blue Black Ninjas

Sometimes winning doesn't feel good. My opponent seemed new to Modern. He got some Ninjas out against me, and he seemed proud each time he Ninjitsued one onto the battlefield. But each time I comboed off the next turn. Two of the easiest games I’ve played with Gifts Storm. They didn't feel good, though. 2-0 and I’m 1-2.

Round 4 - Slivers

This was my first time against Slivers. Game one he almost gets me but I combo on turn three. Game two he has a Relic of Progenitus turn one. I finally get a high enough storm count to make twenty-two Goblins and pass the turn. He then plays a Sliver that gives them all flying. Oops. Didn't know that was a thing. Game three was similar but this time he lacked Slivers that pumped his team. I put sixteen Goblins on the board and then cast Abrade on his flying-granting Sliver. 2-1 and I’m 2-2.

Round 5 - Tron

I lose the die roll and flip through my notebook. I went second every game one today. Oh well. I’m not going to make top 8, but maybe I can squeeze out a win. He leads with an Urza’s Mine and an Expedition Map. Fuck me. He plays a Wurmcoil Engine and it hits me twice. He’s at thirty-two and has a Relic of Progenitus. I cast Repeal at the end of his turn and he activates it. But I had two Gifts Ungiven and Baral. Two Grapeshots take him out. Game two I am stuck on two lands as he plays the Karn-Father. But for some reason he exiles a land instead of Baral. I draw a Mountain, make eight Goblins and Grapeshot him twice (Thanks, Remand!) to kill off Karn and get in some damage. He plays two Thragtusks in as many turns, but the ten life isn’t enough and he’s bricking on draws. (Not that I had much. I had been drawing lands.) He’s finally at two. He draws and passes the turn. I have three Goblins and Baral. I swing and he admits defeat. 2-0 and I’m 3-2.

I kind of hate Modern. I could (should?) play a more broken deck. But I do like puzzling out games of Storm. Although I’m not quite yet good at figuring out what to do in weird situations. There was a game against the Walls player where a different Gifts pile might have given me a chance. There’s much to learn about Magic. That’s why I love it.

I had time, so I signed up for five o’clock Standard. They were offering it for free, but there were only six of us. My first round opponent was on a creatureless, planeswalkerless Jeskai deck. My draws with Chromatic Black did not line up well. During the match they announce that I got twenty-second place in the Modern tournament. This month was the store’s second anniversary. So they gave a pack of Ultimate Masters to anyone who ended the tournament with a two in the one’s place. A garbage rare, but it’s the thought that counts.

Round two I’m paired up against one of the round one winners. I mulligan a no-lander into a no-lander. I grab the slip, sign it and congratulate him on winning the match. It’s New Year’s. He can have it. Anyone 2-1 or better gets a prize. I didn't feel like fighting for it. He thanks me and I say Happy New Year. I head home.

Tomorrow is 2019. Damn. Well. Hey. Happy New Year.

Hareruya Osaka Legacy 12/30

Hareruya Legacy 12/30

It's the end of the year. In Japan that means family things! But not for me! Well, yes, I have my son, but I see him on Xmas. He spends New Year's with his Japanese family. Now, I could stay home. But there's Magic to play.

I head to Hareruya and order three Urza Saga Duresses. Four mismatched ones were starting to bug me. Some friends show up and we have fifty-nine people and five rounds. Time to make it rain.

Round 1 - Maverick

Game one he has a Scavenging Ooze on turn two. I take some damage as I try to fill my graveyard to cast my three Cabal Rituals. Turn four he plays a Tireless Tracker, a fetch, and gets two Clues. I get enough into my graveyard that Ooze can't stop me. I make a bunch of Black mana, cast Past in Flames, sack two LEDs for Blue and Red. He thinks. His Ooze eats a Brainstorm and I flashback Ponder and get an Infernal Tutor. Game two he opens with just a land. I look at my hand. Lotus Petal, two Cabal Rituals, Dark Ritual, Infernal Tutor, LED and Polluted Delta. I draw a Bayou and make fourteen goblins. He plays Thalia, takes thirteen, draws and scoops. I'm 1-0.

Round 2 - Omnitell

My opponent is from my usual store, but I haven't seen him recently. He usually plays Omnitell, but last we played I was on RUG Delver. I start with an Underground Sea and Ponder. Grab Thoughtseize. Next turn he counters it. I play Preordain for nothing. He casts Show and Tell. Omniscience and then Emrakul. Sigh. Game two starts like the first, but he doesn't have enough counters. I make him shuffle away Emrakul. He plays a Grim Lavamancer and Search for Azcanta. Next turn I lay out my Storm counters, he laughs. I combo off. He thought I was on some BUG variant. Game three I have lots of Dark Rituals and some discard. I go for it. He's got Flusterstorm for my first Dark Ritual and a Force of Will for my Thoughtseize. Next turn he has Show and Tell with Emrakul. I double Dark Ritual, cast Ad Nauseam and don't see a Petal or an LED. I'm 1-1.

Round 3 - Merfolk

I play Duress. Mutavault, Island, True-Name Nemsis, Lord of Atlantis, Phantasmal Image, Force of Will and Umezawa's Jitte. Fish! I combo off turn two and check my sideboard guide. This was my first time against Merfolk in Legacy and games two and three are ones I won't soon forget. Game two I bait his Cursecatcher with a Duress. Or did I? Because next turn I get a Chalice of the Void for one slammed on my face. I do my best stave off death. But I only hit him with seven Tendrils and could not find the resources to finish him before the fish finish me. Game three we both mulligan. I hit him with a Thoughtseize and see two Islands, three Lords of Atlantis and Harbinger of the Tides. He plays a Relic of Progenitus. The fish don't stop. I'm 1-2.

Round 4 - Omnitell

I Thoughtseize. He casts Force of Will. On my next turn I Ponder, hoping for something. He plops down Ancient Tomb, Show and Tell into Omniscience. Guess who comes next? Yay, Emrakul. This is familiar. Game three: Tropical Island, Ponder, Brainstorm, Lotus Petal, Flusterstorm, Duress and a Cabal Ritual. Guess how many lands I saw after that? Here's a hint: I lose 0-2 and I'm 1-3.

Round 5 - Maverick

Hm. Wait a second. Anyway. Game one I have this feeling and after a Ponder I fire off a Thoughtseize via a Lotus Petal. He had an Ethersworn Canonist! A few cantrips later I combo off. Game two he has a Gaddock Teeg when I hit him with Thoughtseize. Safe! The next turn I combo for fourteen goblins. Should be good, right? Well, see, there's this card called Armadillo Cloak. It's not bad on a Geist of Saint Traft. And it's pretty bad when you forget it gives trample. I didn't leave enough goblins behind to block. I should have anyway because he would have outraced me with the angel token. Alas. Game three was dull. First I sent back a bad seven. Then I send back a decent six. A mistake. My five was bad. Hatebears kill me. I'm 1-4.

But it was fun. I love ANT. I hate Ad Nauseam.

I watch some games and decide to grab some food and go home. I couldn't find an open restaurant. I ate some jam-filled bread and drank some coffee as I waited for my train home. The old man at the convenience stand rang up my items by hand and he had mistaken my ¥160 beverage for one that cost ¥140. I correct him. It was the right thing to do.

It's those little things that matter and I am sure I will pick them up as I play more ANT. I've got no plans for the New Year's and there's a Modern tournament tomorrow. Time for some more Storm.

12/29 Standard PPTQ

It’s the last PPTQ of the calendar year. I am not in the mood for Drakes or Golgari. I decide to bring Chromatic Black. I have been goofing around with the deck online and at Friday Night Magic, and it has been fun. Plus someone actually brought it to Worlds? So hey, why not have some fun.

Round 1 - Boros Aggro

A quick 0-2 remindered me why I shouldn’t have registered this. Game one was somewhat interesting as I lead with a Thaumatic Compass, quickly get lands and draw... More lands. I was able to blow up the board once, fight off with two fake Maze of Iths but mana flood into extinction. Game two was a mulligan for Boros and a decent keep for me. Alas, their six was better. Legion’s Landing, Adanto Vanguard, Legion Warboss. I wipe. He pays four life. Next turn for him is Heroic Reinforcements and then an Ajani the next turn. Could it be any more perfect? I wish him luck, and he laughs. The last time we were both at this store we played each other first round. But he got me this time. I’m 0-1.

Round 2 - Golgari

Six rounds today. If I get home before 8pm I can play a Sealed MCQ on Magic Online. I decide to focus on doing something fun today before I drop. So I did that game one with a quick Josu Vess and my opponent doing lots of math to see how I could not kill him the next turn. Game two he embarrassed me with double Duress after I took a mulligan. Losing my Treasure Map and Ritual of Soot was game over. Game three opened like two. Mulligan and he casts Duress. My hopes dropped as I kept casting things he used Assassin’s Trophy on. But I had two Cabal Strongholds so I needed to draw my Masterminds. Then I did. Two. Belzenlok and Josu took the round 2-1 and I’m 1-1.

Round 3 - Izzet Drakes

Spirits higher, I see my opponent is the person who sat next to me round two. But he watched my game end, so we both knew what the other was playing. I shuffled up and he went down to five cards. I kept a slow hand but lots of removal with The Eldest Reborn to clean up. Game two was a long back and forth where the fake Maze of Ith kept me alive long enough to finally Banefire for 29. 2-0 and I’m 2-1.

Round 4 - Treasure Red

Game one it’s a Karn on Karn battle. He has more Karns, though. His Constructs soon overpower me as I’m looking for a Ritual of Soot. He Banefires me for one to end the game. This is important. Remember this. Game two I flip two Treasure Maps early. I untap and look at a his board with Karn, a Construct and a Rekindling Phoenix. I count my mana twice. He urges me to speed up. I cast Mastermind from a Cabal Stronghold to get Zacama. Cast Zacama, blow the shit out of his Phoenix and its elemental. He draws and scoops. Game three he’s flips a Treasure Map early. I have a Compass and am trying to assemble lands. He plays a Chainwhirler into a Legion Warboss. I Ritual of Soot and pass. He drops Karn, makes a Construct and drops the Snapcaster Pirate. I topdeck land six and stare at the board. I’m at thirteen. I have my other Ritual of Soot, a Mastermind’s Aquisition and Belzenlok. What would you do? I play Belzenlok, go down to twelve, losing a Cabal Stronghold and gain a Duress. He untaps and swings. I write down six. He casts Banefire. Fuck. Why was I worried about losing Belzenlok? Now, I didn’t know his hand. Had I cast Rain of Soot, I would have drawn the Cabal Stronghold. Then Belzenlok, get Duress and toss away his Banefire. Not that I knew it could have gone that way. Either way, I sped through that turn too fast and didn’t consider my opponent’s cards. Something I have to pay more attention to. 1-2 to be 2-2.

Round 5 - Boros Angels

Turn two Adanto Vanguard from him and I know I’m in trouble. Lucky for me I’m able to stay alive long enough to kick Josu Vess. His paying four life to keep his Vanguard alive through a Ritual of Soot let my Zombie Knights deal exact. Game two I mulligan away garbage and open a few lands and a Treasure Map. He plays an Adanto Vanguard, and then Resplendent Angel. The icing on the cake was an Ixalan’s Binding on my Treasure Map. It wouldn’t have helped as he smashed my face in.

Then there was game three. He goes land. Land. Land, History of Benalia. History of Benalia. History of Benalia. I flip my Treasure Map and kill two knights with two Moment of Cravings. I have two Vraska’s Contempts in hand, but I am in trouble if something big happens. He swings for twelve when the second History of Benalia pops. I top deck a Ritual of Soot to clean the board. He plays a Rekindling Phoenix. I scry with Treasure Map to flip and want a land but see a third Vraska’s Contempt. This was a game of multiples. I Contempt his Phoneix. He plays Rekindling Phoneix into Lyra and I thank the world that I did not scry that third Contempt to the bottom. He drops two Resplendent Angels and I respond with a Josu Vess. He swings at me, pumps the Angel I didn’t target with Fake Maze of Ith and he puts two Angel tokens into play. He’s at twenty five. I uptap and count my lands and treasure tokens in my head. I swing. He decides to block a Zombie instead of Josu. He goes down to seven. I activate Cabal Stronghold, cast Mastermind’s Aquisition and grab my sideboard. Tap out and Banefire for nine. Wouldn’t have matter if he blocked Josu or not. He extends his hand. 2-1 and I’m 3-2.

Round 6- Golgari

I’m eleventh place. My tie breakers don’t look great. Playing for points. That’s fine. Let’s have some fun. Game one I’m on the play and mulligan down to a decent six. Unfortunately he gets going and my removal can’t keep up. I die short of flipping a Compass. Game two is another mulligan to a keep I’m not as happy with but feel pretty decent against Golgari. But he’s got Duress on turn one. He takes my Chromatic Lantern and I start working on a Treasure Map I had scried to the top. Although I have plenty of removal, he’s got plenty of planeswalkers. Karn, Vivian, Carnage Tyrant. I drop a Karn of my own before he plays Vivian and minus for a token. Vivian kills the token. I play yet another Karn and get out a token. Then here comes the Carnage Tyrant. I make another token to have six artifacts out. Vivian is too low to kill another token, so I swing into Karn to kill it. Now, was this a misplay? I had a Duress. Should I have done it first? He had another Vivian, and Carnage Tyrant. Plus Vraska’s Contempt, The Eldest Reborn, Find//Finality and a Chupacabra. I take The Eldest Reborn. Karn’s dead, but my tokens are going to die. He plusses Vivian to find a Plaguecrafter, my one token dies. He Contempts the other and slams into Karn. I play my third Karn, make a token and wait to die. He kills Karn. and plays the other Carnage Tyrant. I Vraska’s Contempt Vivian. He swings in for 14 and I’m at eight. I topdeck my fourth Karn, play it with mana floating from a Cabal Stonghold, plus Karn, praying for a miracle. (Double Masterminds? I had enough treasure tokens to make this happen. I did get doubles, though. Swamps. I laugh, he laughs, some people watching the game laugh. I sign the slip. A quick 0-2 to end 3-3.

As I leave I see the guy who beat me round one relaxing outside. He drew into top eight. I wish him luck and hop on the subway. I grab a Big Magic coupon out of my Modern deckbox from MMM The Finals two weeks ago. I then sigh when I see a sign saying Big Magic won’t open again until January third. I run over to Dragonstar and take a quick look at the Green and Blue binders. The Xantid Swarm and Chain of Vapors I needed for Storm are on page two each time. I message the group chat I’m in and they say there’s a Legacy tournament at Hareruya tomorrow. I’ve got my plans.

What did I learn? I can get lucky even when my opponent gets lucky. Three History of Benalias back to back to back? I cannot believe I pulled that out. When a friend asked him how the game went he said he lost, but it was a good game. Even if I hadn’t pulled it out in the end, I don’t think I could have been mad that game. It was swingy and fun. I ended on a bummer of a note, but we can’t have them all.

What did I learn? I need to take a brief moment at the start of each turn and think a little. Now, when I did this to do the math for Zacama, my opponent made a comment about how I should speed up. I let this get to me. I may have taken a little too long that time, but that doesn’t mean I take no time. As soon as I wrote down six on the lifepad I realized a Banefire was coming at my head. A second too late, but at least I realized it? Either way, a 3-3 with what I would hardly call a top tier deck doesn’t feel that bad. I had a good time.

Stupid fun

I played this deck tonight at Friday Night Magic.

It was easily the most fun I had this entire Standard. I wish I had brought this to the Grand Prix. I don't care if I won any more or less. I would have had so much joy.

Okay, but still. It's a bit of a silly deck. I ended up going 2-1, beating two Selesnya Token decks and losing to Keld Red, but I was surprisingly close to beating the Red deck. I might have misplayed somewhere. Still. This was more fun than I ever could have imagined.

There are just joys of hitting your opponent with a Banefire for twenty out of seemingly nowhere or your oppenent's jaw dropping when you flip over a Niv-Mizzet, Parun and Josu Vess, Lich Knight with Karn, Scion of Urza.

Magic can be fun. I have to not forget that.

Getting sloppy

I went 1-4 in a Competitive League tonight with Gifts Storm. Lots of sloppy play. I was surprised to not see a single Phoenix deck, but I did see a lot of mainboard hate. Lots of decks with Relic of Progenitus in the main, and two with Anger of the Gods that both got me turn three after I had gone off with my one of Empty the Warrens.

Kind of impressive!

But I think I tilted, or at least I let it get to me because I started overthinking and was playing a bit sloppy. Then I lost, and lost, and lost. And lost! Four losses. But I did get a match win and usually a win per match, but some were due to luck and some were due to not-so-bad playing. But at least I shook off some rust before this weekend where there's going to be lots of Modern and Legacy.

Grinding

I played a Dominaria sealed tonight. I got to face off against someone with two Verix Bladewings. Seriously? On top of that they had another Mythic, and I look at my pool and wonder why play sealed?

Other than it's fun. I had fun. 4-3, I believe? Maybe 5-3? No, 5-3 would have gotten me enough gems to do another. 4-3. Still, with a Muldrotha, the Gravetide and a decent BUG pool to play along with I did okay.

Although poor Muldrotha got exiled.

Then I did a 3-2 league with ANT. I messed up clicking one game. I swear I was holding down Control, but I must have messed up somewhere. Then there was Miracles where I kept a hand I probably shouldn't have, and well, soemtimes you don't draw what you need to draw.

But I'm feeling better with ANT every time I play it. And I'm excited to bring it, and Gifts Storm, to this weekend of Osaka Magic tournaments coming up. It's going to be a fun time.

I like fun.

Oh, go fuck yourself.

I streamed some Arena and Magic Online tonight.

I went 4-2 with Eight Drakes. I did terrible with the deck over the GP weekend (I still need to write up the whole GP stuff, but that is coming.) but winning with the deck at least made me feel a little bit less insane. It literally felt impossible over the GP weekend.

Then I went over to Magic Online for some Legacy. Gotta get ANT practice in before Eternal Party 2018.

So I get paired up against Manaless Dredge. Go off game one. Game two I get them with some back to back discard. You might think "But they want to discard!" Ah yes, but if you keep them off of their Dredge cards and unable to choose what to discard, well, they get stuck.

So I get to my turn three and I have the kill in hand. I cast Brainstorm to get things going. I cast Dark Ritual.

They don't respond.

A minute passes.

Five minutes pass.

Eventually the respond. I combo off and win. But this kind of shit is why I'm starting to like Arena more and more. Yes, Magic Online has the timer that almost prevents this, but still, having to wait, what, ten minutes if someone disconnects or is just quote mode, AFK?

Fuck you. Come on.

Sure, something seirous might have happened, but I doubt it. People just want to be buttholes.

Bring on Arena.

ANT Progress

One of the nice things about streaming, even if I don't get many viewers, is that I will get people who will help me with my playing. That was a big help.

Although I went back to review some of my play and I don't talk enough. I went through one thing thinking a lot, but I don't think out loud, and that's not entertaining for viewers.

I still need to find a Magic Online layout that I like. I realized into a Ad Nauseam that my video was covering part of my hand, and rewatching the video I see my chat covered the Storm count. Whoops.

Although I am no designer and don't know what would look good. Or how to get Magic Online to fit the best while still being able to have the stuff available. I’ll have to try and figure something out.

I usually don't go back and watch my videos unless I know something is awesome that I want to make a clip of, but seeing myself play silently for five minutes, even though I won, is eye-opening. I think a lot, I should just vocalize it. That’s probably not only good for viewers, but for helping me think.

That said, I ended the night 3-2. Not only did I get my first match win with Storm tonight, but my first set of prizes. So the event paid for itself and I’m up two tickets. This was my third league with the deck, so ticket-wise I’m down, but knowledge-wise I am making progress.

I played Vintage Magic

So for some reason I was looking at Vintage deck lists. I think the ship has sailed on me having a set of Power 9. But then I looked at Magic Online and they are... Relatively affordable. Well, I mean we're talking $2 or so for a Mox instead of $1000+. So hey, I had a bunch of tickets from some winnings and selling other stuff so I grabbed a list that seemed interesting, had put up some results and didn't require stuff like four Mox Opals.

So I put together this. Is it good? Well, I never got to cast its namesake once, but in my first Vintage game ever I started off by cracking a fetch for an Underground Sea, played a Mox Emerald, cast Demonic Tutor, got a Black Lotus and then cast Tinker to get a Blightsteel Colossus. I had a Force of Will but my opponent scooped.

I did win one game each match but overall went 0-5. I definitely don't know the format well enough to say that I wasn't making terrible mistakes, but goodness it was a good time. A genuinely fun time.

Now I just need to make a game that makes me hundreds of thousands of dollars so I build a Vintage deck in person.

Learning

I went 4-1 with Gifts Storm Monday night. That felt good. I have been playing around with Gifts Storm since September. I feel like I'm constantly getting a little better.

Last night I tried Ad Nauseam Tendrils, affectionally known as ANT. I’m playing a version with Daze because I don't want to buy a Bayou. Yes, I purchased Lion’s Eye Diamonds, but that is neither here nor there. I can't be spending all the money all the time.

This was my second attempt at playing ANT. It was another 0-5 experience.

I’m sure the Daze version has its issues, and I’m also sure I’m just making mistakes or have a weak Sideboarding or sideboarding skills. But it's actually fun to play, which despite my worries that now is not the best time to be getting into ANT, as they say, formats like Legacy are part about knowing your deck and the matchups. So I’ll keep trying.

Maybe I’ll win a match one day. I hope so. Grand Prix Shizuoka is coming up and maybe Grixis Control or Grixis Delver would be the smarter choice, but right now I’m thinking ANT. We've got a few weeks for me to decide.

Dominaria draft is still fun

I don't know if Magic Online has Dominaria draft still, but it's just finishing up a run on Arena, and goodness it's still fun.

I probably wouldn't pay the cash to play in Magic Online, but I sure will trade in my Arena funny money to play it there. Yeah, drafting with bots has its problems. The games are still fun.

They did this "Gaby Greedy Dominaria Draft" where it's still basic drafting but you start with nine cards and can play two lands a turn. It gets kind of stupid with all the good Kicker spells in Dominaria. But stupid fun. I drafted two decks I thought were pretty mediocre but took them to 6-3, one win away from the top prizes.

All the while earning credits for my daily rewards.

I've been playing a lot of Shadowverse on my phone and the thing is I never seem to complete my dailies on that because they are generally tied to winning with certain classes. With Arena, they are tied to either casting spells of certain colors, dealing damage, destroying creatures or the like. Things almost any deck can do. Especially if you're doing sealed.

So I'm liking Arena more and more. I'm getting frustrated with my Windows machine, so I really cannot wait for this to be on my Apple stuff. I also did some Standard practice which was good enough that I sold out of all Standard stuff on Magic Online and dumped the tickets into Legacy and Modern decks. I'll do my practice for those there, but Standard I am pretty sure I'm sticking to Arena from here on out.

Booster Blitz

So I did three ""serious"" tournaments yesterday at the GP, two today and then there was an even neard the end of the day called "Booster Blitz." I wasn't entirely sure what it was, but I signed up for it.

Six ten minute rounds. That's right. Ten minutes. Now, if you're American (or maybe somewhere else, I don't know the exact way these things happen) you've probably heard of Pack Wars. You and your opponent open a pack facedown, shuffle it up, draw two cards and play. Infinite mana, you can deck, and any land card can be cycled for free.

It's fun and sometimes the winner gets both packs, sometimes it's just a more interesting way to open a box without having to do everything a draft entails.

This Booster Blitz is something I've only encountered in Japan.

Rules are you make four three-card decks. Since packs come with lands now, that's 14 cards to pick from. Sometimes you get lands, but you don't want those. So you make four three-card decks and whoever finishes deck construction first goes first.

You and your opponent each point to an opposing deck and that's what gets used. You have all three cards in your hand. There's no decking, you each have five life that's that. First to two wins takes the match.

Now you'll notice there are four decks. Sometimes you use two, sometimes three, sometimes all four. Because drawing is common in this format. You and your oppnent had equal amounts of threats and answers and a blank board is left were you can't do anything. Game's a draw, move on to the next one.

Now this is something people do for fun with packs. Making it into a six round tournament, with a cut to top eight made it really interesting.

My trip was a bit of a roller coaster. Lose, win, lose, win, lose, win. You need three wins to earn two more packs. Anything else got nothing. So eight packs for the $30 entry fee is about retail price for packs so that's not super value, but I got some decent rares and, hey, I had a real good time.

That's worth thirty bucks.

Also, one time I got Izoni, Thousand-Eyed and a Ledev Champion, so I made infinite tokens and got infinite life before my opponent did anything. One time I had Inescapable Blaze, which yes, that would let me win even if I was going second, but my opponent luckily didn't pick that deck.

It's good to remember Magic can be silly fun.

Missing the Obvious

I finished up a Legacy Compative League I started last week when I was still playing Canadian Threshold. I had extra stuff I wasn't using to put together Grixis Delver, but Grixis Control requires some stuff on the pricier end of Magic Online's prices and I don't feel like picking up those copies of Jace, and so on.

Although I do like playing Grixis Control. I'm wondering if I could hock some of the stuff from Canadian Threshold and pick up the pieces for Grixis Control. Anyway. I have Delver. Going to practice that tomorrow night and then decide which I want to run in the side events at the Grand Prix this weekend.

But first there was finishing the League with Canadian Threshold.

I ended up 3-2. I was 2-0 going into tonight where I faced UR Delver, Grixis Control, and Lands. I made slight misplays against UR Delver and Lands which cost me the game. It's funny to me that I beat the deck I want to be playing, but that's Magic sometimes.

The thing about both of my losses is that it was subtle things that caused them. Forgetting to take the fourth Thespian's Stage with a Surgical Extraction led to my eventual demise against Lands. Not that I was in a good position with Choke and The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale making me unable to do anything, but having removed Punishing Fire and Thespian's Stage, had I done it correctly I could have probably run my opponent out of time.

But one little click. I might have lost anyway but I gave my opponent the chance.

I also cast Force of Will when I should have cast Daze against UR Delver and that cost the match. I don't know why I did it. Too fast. Not thinking through the plays. But these little things solidified my losses.

And that's part of what makes Legacy so difficult and so enticing. Now I am sure if I kept playing Canadian Threshold I would find myself playing it better and winning more, but after this weekend's tournament, Grixis is just where I want to be. Delver or Control I'm not entirely sure, but I have more fun playing those decks and I think that's what I need to focus on first and then slowly getting those small details as I continue to play.