Cleaning up

After I dropped off my son my thought was to go home and stream. Maybe Magic. Maybe FF6. But instead I sorted some cards. And it was a good sort. The kind where I got through a few hours of podcast backlog and made more of a mess than I had originally, but things feel a bit more organized. Even though it's messier.

Ah, starting always requires a bit of breaking, doesn't it?

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.

Games I beat in 2019 #3 - Return.

It might take me more time to write about this than it did to play.

This was another free game on Steam, and it was really short. It's just a little platformer. Control a soul and get it back to its home. Which is a body. So... You're reviving someone?

The game is cute and the music is nice and calming and I was freaked out the entire time. Because there have been so many games that got weird or have those jump-scares and this doesn’t. Spoilers. Sorry. But that made it all the more haunting because I was afraid that at any time something could happen at any moment.

But nothing happened. It was just a little game. The jumping was kind of annoying, but I worked it out. I’m still kind of spooked out though. No idea if this was the intent or not.

Games I beat in 2019 #2 - Princess Remedy in a World of Hurt

This one showed up in my Steam queue and it was free, so why not?

It was good. Simple, a bit silly, but not full of itself nor extends its welcome. What Undertale should have been instead of the steaming pile of shit that it is.

The concept is simple enough. There is a world of Hurt and you have to heal it. Go around towns and caves, talk to sick people, animals or plants and heal them. "Healing" is a single screen shooting segment with enemies that get craftier as the game goes on. It ends with a three screen boss battle that reminded me of Final Fantasy 6. There is one little thing that was a tad annoying as it made me restart the game. But it wasn't that bad.

There is a chest in the third section that is jealous that you opened other chests. So I restarted and made my way there without opening any others. Thing is, those chests contain power ups. Things that make battles easier. So getting to that chest is harder. The game is nice, though. After opening the Jealous Chest, the game gives you everything that was in the skipped chests. So I didn't lose that much time.

There are a few secrets in the game, but none were too hard to find. I did end up missing one item and had to backtrack for it. Turns out I missed an early fight because I had done it my first attempt at the game.

It was a decent challenge. It ramped up but never felt too difficult. There was one fight that I was doing before the Jealous Chest that took me a few tries, but figuring it out was fun. After that it wasn't exactly easy, but it was easier. The final boss only took me one try, but I never felt like it was a guarantee.

At the end is the option of proposing to any NPC in the game. Including the Jealous Chest, which is now an empty chest. A cute little ending plays with dialogue based on the NPC you picked. There's a sequel, and it's not free, but it also looks like it has a lot more going for it. I added it to my wishlist.

Games I beat in 2019 #1 - Celeste


What makes a game bad?

That is a boring question. But when I finish a game and my first thought is “Fuck this game.” I have to wonder why I bothered. I know why I put Celeste on my Steam wishlist. People said good things. But why did I finish it? All I have to show for it is a sore thumb and a few extra yen from selling the Steam trading cards.

Here's the thing. I finished Celeste and I have yet to finish games I like. Final Fantasy XV. Lost Sphere. Octopath Traveler. I could have played those games. But I didn’t.

I guess when people praise something game so much I get curious. When my own feelings don't match others I get even more curious. What do people see? Celeste is a pretty game. Its soundtrack is unoffensive. These are good things. It's opening levels are acceptable, if not trite. But then it begins to expand on a story and this is, well, a problem.

I won't pretend I know the people who made this game or made the story. But I have a reckon. Someone either suffers from or knows someone who suffers from anxiety and/or depression. They wanted to express this in the form of a challenging video game. Challenging oneself. Inner conflict. Self doubt. But... It felt… Hollow. Cheap. Ineffective.

It also led to frustrations.

So many game developers seem to think their own game is not enough, and add some sort of nonsense to it. Some of my beloved games do this. I didn't buy Final Fantasy 7 to snowboard. I didn't play Celeste for a “breathing simulator” where I have to balance a feather... with my breath? What?

See, there's a panic attack scene. One of the NPCs says to imagine keeping a feather afloat with your breath. Okay? Then the player sees a feather on-screen and there's this box that moves up and down. So. What do you do?

Well, I pressed the jump button. It felt like I was keeping the feather afloat, but nothing was happening. The box kept moving up and down. It glowed when the feather was in it, but the feather also didn't seem affected. Confusion struck me. Then I realized that the joystick could move the feather and that keeping it in the box was my “goal”. I'm not sure what they expected me to get out of this. It did not calm me down.

About this point the game shifted from a mediocre VVVVVV or Super Meat Boy and into more of a mess. The next area featured what I could best describe as a “even shittier than usual escort mission”. An NPC was stuck in a crystal because feelings. You have to chuck his crystalized body around while dodging this annoying enemy. It would sometimes be bop-able like in Mario Bros. or sometimes just slam you dead. It wasn't particularly fun.

Then you finish it and it gets emotional. Earlier in the game the main character comes across a window and a “part of her” escapes. You first think it's her evil side, but it's actually her fears and doubt, etc. And then is this long stage which culminates in a “boss” battle. The main character realizes she needs to be whole. Yet, the “other part” thinks she wants to get rid of her. So you have to “beat” the boss by touching the “other part”. An interesting idea. Gameplay-wise it goes on for about twenty more screens than necessary. It just kept going on and on and on and on and on and on and on. Fuck.

Finally things work out, yada, yada. Our main character begins her final ascent. First you there is a “boss rush” of the previous chapters. All the stage gimmicks (and I don'tmean that in a nice way) appear again only made harder. The last climb that required lots of precise jumping and maneuvering. Not particularly challenging. Just hard. I tried enough and I succeeded.

See, the thing is I never felt like I was getting better at the game. I felt like I was getting lucky and succeeding. And that sums up my feelings. I didn't feel any sense of accomplishment. I just won it because I pressed buttons enough times. An eighth chapter unlocked that requires some hidden items to access. (So it didn't unlock after all?) I don't think I’ll go back through the stages to find the hidden things necessary for me to play it.

An “old computer” hidden in the game features a simpler, more “retro” version of Celeste. I liked that more. It was less frustrating, felt snappier and didn't have any nonsense. I would have paid for that alone.

But in the end I finished Celeste. I wouldn't say don't play it, as you'll see many people say good things about it. I don't particularly agree.

My thumb still hurts.

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.

Fucking cars

Back in 2017 I had an accident. Nothing serious, but my car was totaled. Easily done when your car isn't worth much.

So I bought a "new" one. I'm still paying it off. But it was acting funny. Just as I was about to call the place I bough it, they called me saying they were offering a fairly cheap checkup. One of my back lights had gone out so I needed that replaced anyway and this gave me an excuse to go and get everything looked at.

The car's fine. I spent ¥4000 to get the bulb replaced, have the car looked at and got a free oil change.

I feel better. So much better. Not as good as if I put myself in a position where I would never have to drive again, but we'll get there when we get there.

I hope.

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.

Getting back on track

With the (deserved) hubbub about Tumblr banning adult material, I went through to see if anything of mine got tagged. What I did find was that I used to write a lot more. And it kind of made me sad. What happened?

I was writing a lot more prior to the divorce. I guess now that I have stepped out of that stage of my life I have other things going on so I don't feel the need to express myself?

No, that doesn’t make sense.

I spent the past two night sleeping as soon as I got home. Had I not pulled myself out of bed tonight to actually do something, I would have done the same three nights in a row.

I’m not quite happy with that.

This was originally meant to be me writing about me writing, and now I feel like I’m wasting my time, and yours.

But I’m putting up a blog post. That's something I haven't done in a few weeks now. So maybe this can help me get started again.

If I only knew what I was working towards.

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.

Focus lost

I finished up a lot of translation work last week. I was actually ahead and only had one job that required minimum work a day. I figured I deserved the time "off".

But then I get a big job today and it was surprisingly hard to get into it. Maybe it was because I had just woken up from a nap, but focusing on getting 5000 characters done when I only needed to do around 1000 for the past three days was surprisingly hard.

In just a few days, and seriously just a few days because I was doing a lot of characters per day last week, I got super lazy. Or maybe I just wasn't in the mood for it?

Perhaps over-analyzing it will get me nowhere. Perhaps I just have to be grateful for the work, grateful that I had time to nap and woke up around the time the new work came in, and was able to get some translation done and then even streamed for about a half hour.

Not a bad day. Hopefully I can just focus better on translating tomorrow.

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.

Little Joys

So. Today is my birthday. I don’t really expect much. A few “Happy birthdays” from friends and family. Maybe treat myself to a nice dinner.

Normally on Tuesdays I stay home and stream. But I didn’t want to stay home alone. So I went out.

One of the shops I like to go to does Legacy tournaments on Tuesdays. It’s a bit of a drive, but hell, treat yourself.

So I went. Got some happy birthdays from my Magic playing friends. Played Grixis Control. Got beat by Mono Black Reanimator, Burn and Miracles. Wasn’t a great record, but I felt like I played pretty well and just had some bad beats. Whatever.

Last place. Eh. I had fun. Chat with my friends. Store owner comes out, announces the winner. They get a Masters pack. A die gets rolled for the random prize. I win it. Nothing good in the pack, but still nice.

Shop owner says one more thing. Happy Birthday starts playing. A piece of cake gets brought out to me. Everyone applauds.

It was good cake. It was a good night.

Now it’s my turn to make 36 a good year.

Wish me luck.