My first article for this column appeared on 28th November 2000. I’d been writing for Star City for some time (my articles in the Feature Article Archive go back to March of the same year) before that, but finally gaining Featured Writer status and having a picture and everything made me a very happy man indeed. My goals at the time were quite simple:
“The title of the column comes from my goal to get a combined ranking of 1800 over the next year. I’m starting at 1712, so it should be a reasonable goal; on the other hand, an 1800 combined ranking would rank me 59th in the UK! I know that 1800 isn’t an amazing ranking, but for someone like me, who attends one or two tourneys a month and play tests regularly, I think it’s something I could be proud of.”
So, how’ve I done? Well, my combined ranking, as of today… Is 1719.
Yup, I’ve gone up seven points.
After a year of reasonably hard playing and good results, my ranking has hardly changed. The main reason for that is that although my Type II ranking has gone up – up to 1803, in fact – my Limited ranking has slipped even further behind. Even though I went 3-3 at the Nationals in Limited, one of those wins was a bye, and so I lost points. I only played in five Limited tourneys the whole year: A side event, three Prereleases and the English Nationals. That’s mainly because we can’t get eight players together to run a rated draft – quite often we’ll draft with six or seven, or build Sealed decks with four or five of us.
The title of the column does include”or Bust” – so should I give up?
Not on your nelly, mate. No way. Nope. Don’t think so.
I’m going to keep going, but with one important change: I’m going to stop worrying about my ranking.
My new attitude comes down to something a friend of mine and Pro Tour Irregular, Gordon Benson, said when I was whining about losing ranking points when I was going 4-2-1 in tourneys.
“You going to go to any GPs?” asked Gordon
“Any chance of qualifying for the Nationals on Ranking?” he persisted.
“Erm, not unless a lot of people die.”
“They why do you care so much?”
I couldn’t answer. Maybe my quest to get an 1800 composite ranking meant more to me than playing well and enjoying myself – I certainly felt that I’d played well and had fun, but I went home unhappy when I knew I was going to lose ranking points.
That’s all going to stop. I know that I’m good at Type II: I keep coming Top Eight in fifty-player, seven-round tourneys. I know I’m not great at Limited, but I don’t have to prove anything. My friends all know I’m good at Magic, and the local players respect me (or at least say they do) and they seem to value my Type II deck advice. I write for Star City and I write for a magazine in the UK called Deckmaster. What more do I need?
Well, I guess I could really try to get on the Pro Tour, but I know how much dedication and work that takes and I have other things to do with my life. I think the guys who have time are great …But it’s just not me right now. What I’m going to do is concentrate on getting better at Limited, and try to do well at the English Nationals this year (I came 39th last year). I’m hoping to play three our four times as many Limited matches – even if they’re all side events – and continue to score well at Type II.
So, enough justification. Enough words about me. How about something you might actually be interested in? Type II?
I know everyone and their dog seems to be talking about Extended right now, but it’s really not my bag… So I’ll stick to what I know and give you two decks.
3x Meddling Mage
4x Galina’s Knight
3x Merfolk Looter
3x Glacial Wall
4x Thieving Magpie
Other Spells (21):
3x Static Orb
3x Memory Lapse
4x Sleight of Hand
4x Adarkar Wastes
This deck has its roots not in Kai’s Invitational U/B deck, but instead in the deck he played at Worlds 2001. I’ve tried to keep similar numbers of spells, creatures, and land and tried (somewhat desperately) to work out a way of staying alive without Foil and Thwart. This is the result.
I found Counterspell and Memory Lapse weren’t good enough on their own and added the two Absorbs; the addition of white also gives us the tricky Meddling Mage to help control Urza’s Rages and meddlesome Bounce mages playing with your toys. Galina’s Knight lives in the deck over Spectral Lynx because it can’t be burnt – ever. No matter how many lands I added to splash black mana for the Lynx, I found that I either killed myself with painlands, or they’re use a pair of spells on it – great for card advantage, not so good for a deck that needs its creatures to stay alive.
We tried Skycloud Expanse in the deck, but it didn’t seem to work very well, it was often left untapped when choosing what to untap, and forcing mulligans if you’re unlucky enough to draw two in your opening hand.
One Opt is included to increase the number of 1cc deck smoothers. Four Sleights is great, but often didn’t seem to be quite enough – one more Opt seems to have sorted that out.
All in all, the deck will beat R/G control if you see the Knights, Walls and Opposition. It can beat Domain because of Orb: They need piles of mana to cast all their expensive spells. You really need to work out what to name with the Mages, though – it’s often Pernicious Deed or Void.
The second deck I’ve been playing is much more fun to play, but certainly not good enough to take to a tourney where you’re expecting a reasonable number of good players with control decks to turn up.
4x Birds of Paradise
3x Llanowar Elves
1x Crosis, The Purger
2x Penumbra Wurm
Other Spells (23):
4x Zombie Infestation
2x Strands of Night (and yes, they are in 7th)
4x Pernicious Deed
1x Diabolic Tutor
4x Llanowar Wastes
The deck, like many modern Reanimator builds, uses Life/Death and Entomb. I found Entomb on its own didn’t turn up enough to allow me to drop my creatures into the graveyard, so I added the Infestations – they also give you early creatures to stem a R/G tide if you’re unlucky enough to miss your early Life/Deaths.
Duress helps you out against Control decks, but in reality you’re going to be very lucky to win. Deed helps against any deck with permanents that don’t regenerate.
As I said, the last of these is a fun deck – there’s probably a good deck there somewhere (and Dave Price’s ReanimaTINGS deck looks good, as it doesn’t rely on reanimating things) but this probably isn’t it.
Another year beckons. Hopefully, this year I’ll start winning Limited matches.