We got started almost 40 minutes late. I’m not sure why that was, but I later heard mumblings amongst the judges that seemed to indicate that a rogue version of DCI reporter was at fault.
I was right about the continental breakfast. I wasn’t hungry anymore, but I didn’t feel energized. Not even the age-old trick of taking a long, long shower had put a dent in my fatigue.
During deck registration I was seated right next to EDT. This always happens at any event EDT is at, because out names are right next to each other alphabetically. I’m always shoulder-to-shoulder with him unless ex-Liberian president Charles Ghankay Taylor also attends the event – but he hasn’t had a lot of time since he was arrested at the Cameroon border. EDT and I made small talk for a little while, I asked him about the details of whatever gadget he was fidgeting with and tried to figure out the contents of the giant thermos he was holding. We started talking about basketball and I realized that if EDT were a basketball coach, he would probably be writing theory articles about coaching and posting them as comments in Mark Cuban’s blog.
Then we got handed our decks to register – I managed to avoid making a crippling registration error this time. When it came time to actually get passed a deck and build one myself, though, I made like a man recovering from an undescended testicle. I dropped the ball.
Here’s my card pool for Day 1 of the Grand Prix:
- 1 Boros Recruit
- 1 Elvish Skysweeper
- 1 Ethereal Usher
- 1 Golgari Rotwurm
- 1 Greater Forgeling
- 1 Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi
- 1 Infectious Host
- 1 Junktroller
- 1 Mortipede
- 1 Sabertooth Alley Cat
- 1 Selesnya Evangel
- 1 Stinkweed Imp
- 1 Stone-Seeder Hierophant
- 1 Tattered Drake
- 1 Terraformer
- 1 Thoughtpicker Witch
- 1 Tidewater Minion
- 1 Torpid Moloch
- 1 Transluminant
- 1 Vedalken Dismisser
- 1 Viashino Fangtail
- 1 Wojek Embermage
- 1 Gruul Scrapper
- 1 Lionheart Maverick
- 1 Rumbling Slum
- 1 Scorched Rusalka
- 1 Shrieking Grotesque
- 1 Tin Street Hooligan
- 1 Torch Drake
- 1 Assault Zeppelid
- 1 Grand Arbiter Augustin IV
- 1 Haazda Exonerator
- 1 Kill-Suit Cultist
- 1 Ogre Gatecrasher
- 1 Rakdos Ickspitter
- 1 Silkwing Scout
- 1 Vigean Graftmage
- 1 Boros Fury-Shield
- 1 Compulsive Research
- 1 Devouring Light
- 1 Dizzy Spell
- 1 Dogpile
- 1 Faith's Fetters
- 1 Festival of the Guildpact
- 1 Gather Courage
- 1 Glimpse the Unthinkable
- 1 Hour of Reckoning
- 1 Last Gasp
- 1 Moldervine Cloak
- 1 Quickchange
- 1 Rain of Embers
- 1 Reroute
- 1 Rolling Spoil
- 1 Seismic Spike
- 1 Selesnya Signet
- 1 Sins of the Past
- 1 Wojek Siren
- 1 Conjurer's Ban
- 1 Cry of Contrition
- 1 Leap of Flame
- 1 Necromancer's Magemark
- 1 Pillory of the Sleepless
- 1 Train of Thought
- 1 Carom
- 1 Delirium Skeins
- 1 Nightcreep
- 1 Plumes of Peace
- 1 Rakdos Signet
- 1 Twinstrike
- 1 Writ of Passage
I took every last minute of the available construction time, and in the end I still choked. I don’t know what I was thinking. Maybe the monitor radiation from one of EDT’s gadgets affected my brain. More likely, I’m just stupid. In any case, I misbuilt that pool into the following terrible, terrible monstrosity:
- 1 Elvish Skysweeper
- 1 Golgari Rotwurm
- 1 Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi
- 1 Selesnya Evangel
- 1 Transluminant
- 1 Viashino Fangtail
- 1 Wojek Embermage
- 1 Gruul Scrapper
- 1 Rumbling Slum
- 1 Scorched Rusalka
- 1 Shrieking Grotesque
- 1 Tin Street Hooligan
- 1 Ogre Gatecrasher
- 1 Rakdos Ickspitter
There are some major problems with this deck, and they all presented themselves when EDT (one bye) and I (three) sat down to do some decktesting following our mad scramble to get our final lists registered. The first thing I noticed was that Hour of Reckoning is almost uncastable with the manabase I used.
Two Plains, a Selesnya Sanctuary and a Signet, plus three White creatures, possibly four if you count the token my Transluminant could make. Wow. That means I’d have to draw over half of my deck to reliably have the WWW, even with Convoke. Terrible. I had similar (though not quite as severe) difficulties casting Devouring Light.
I kept beating EDT anyway. So I thought maybe I had a chance. Little did I know that EDT’s deck was awful, an infected, mishmash heap that was constantly asking itself the question “Sky Swallower Or No? Ugh.”
As bad as the inclusion of Hour of Reckoning and Devouring Light were, it wasn’t just drawing those cards that really put the hurt on me (though it was miserable), it was drawing the useless Plains that were in the deck to facilitate them (and that still failed to do so, I should add) when I really needed a black source for Twinstrike or Rotwurm. It was terrible. The deck was basically R/G with two splashes, but because the manabase was so misaligned, I didn’t have the 8-9 Red and Green sources I needed to reliably cast early game R/G beaters, and I usually couldn’t cast my splash cards either. Faith’s Fetters is a lot less impressive when you have Ickspitter and Rotwurm stuck in your hand instead of beating down.
The inclusion of Shrieking Grotesque as a double-splash was another head-scratcher. On the surface I think it was to help Convoke out the Hour of Reckoning, but man… how terrible is that? Every time I drew Hour of Reckoning, I could see the turns stretching ahead of me like some elaborate Rube Goldberg device that would, after about twenty draws, eventually allow me to cast the spell I needed now. And how many times did I have Hour and Devouring Light in my hand, uncastable, when I could have otherwise cast a Hellbent Twinstrike?
Don’t ask. Just… don’t… ask. Better you don’t. Better you leave some horrors behind the misshapen doors of human perception.
I knew instantly that my goal over the course of Rounds 1-3 was to find out the proper configuration for my deck, so I could have a fighting chance in Games 2-3. I had won three byes the night before, getting myself what amounts to six free game wins… and then I’d given five of those wins right back by ceding every Game 1 from Round 4 to Round 8.
Well played. Nice mana. Nice deck. Phil Samms, who once played a Stalking Stones in a G/U/r Mirrodin Sealed Deck that featured Fangren Firstborn and a splashed Shatter, would have been proud. He made me play a match of that event for him when he had to run an errand, and I drew the Stones, Shatter, and Fangren Firstborn in the very first opening hand I took.
Opponent: “I knew you had it. Nice Stalking Stones. Nice deck. Nice face.”
SammsCirca2004: “Demonfire you.”
Opponent: “Whatever. Nice nose.”
But I’m no Phil Samms. For one thing, I’ve never chowed down on chocolate bars right off the conveyor belt. For another… I’m not lucky enough to draw the mana for Hour of Reckoning, Rumbling Slum and Twinstrike in every game. My playtest games were bearing that out in abundance.
Did he win anyway? Obviously.
It turned out that my best bet was to leave Fetters and Pillory in, and take out the Plains and other White spells (Evangel, Guardian, Hour of Reckoning, Devouring Light) for more focused, easier to cast spells. I ended up settling on Rolling Spoil, Stinkweed Imp, Dogpile, Greater Forgeling, and Junktroller, along with a Swamp and Skarrg, The Rage Pits, which was very good for me all day.
Junktroller is a lot better than you might think. I didn’t know this until someone pointed it out to me at the event, but Haunt is not a replacement effect – a Haunt creature that goes to the graveyard sets up a triggered ability that does nothing if the creature is not there when it resolves. So Junktroller counters Haunt, Dredge, Izzet Chronarch tricks, Vigor Mortis, and any number of other things, all the while firing your own goodies back on top of your deck and blocking Siege Wurm all day long.
Pretty good, huh? I mean, it’s no Stalking Stones, but what is?
One thing I regret is that I never really had the chance during construction to explore playing Blue. Compulsive Research is one of my favorite Blue cards, and there might have been a good building hiding there, especially with Green to get access to Assault Zeppelid and the search ability on Silkwing Scout. That said – I’d lose a ton of removal going that way. It was a tough call – if anyone in the forums wants to take a crack at a better build, be my guest.
Round 1, I got a bye. Samms didn’t get a bye, though. In fact, he got slowrolled by a master who thought for about one minute before casting a lethal Cackling Flames. This guy did it in such a way as to string our rotund hero along, too – it was a real Canadian tragedy, like AVRO Arrow. Samms came up to me with mixed feelings near the end of the round, clearly upset about losing but also energized by the simple fact that he had something to complain about.
“Oh GT,” he said, “I just got slow-rolled.”
And the story went from there. Turns out our evil slow-roller thought just long enough to convince a hopeful, doe-eyed Samms that he didn’t have the lethal Flames. Samms was just about to start his mind in on the task of what his opponent could have drawn instead to make him think so long… just beginning to get those mental wheels turning… when the man across the table trotted out the Flames as pretty as you please, asking “Cack ya?” with a pursed-lip, questioning expression, the sort of thing usually reserved for a meek pupil who is asking the prof if his proof for Fermat’s last theorem is on the right track.
Oh, really? A Cackling Flames? And I’m at three? Pretty sure you’ve got it there, Will Hunting.
Samms: “I wish we were going to Candy Apple island.”
GT: “What have they got there?”
Samms: “Demonfires. But they’re not so big.”
The kicker? Because of two ratings points that weren’t reflected in the DCI database because of a reporting delay, Samms didn’t have his first round bye. With his correct rating, he would have avoided this round entirely.
Kicker #2? He knew about this, and was just too lazy to appeal for his bye.
Round 2… a bye. While waiting, I overheard a bunch of people gossiping about Nick Eisel. Have you ever been present for so many derogatory jokes about one person (without speaking up to silence them) that you’d feel ashamed to even shake their hand without apologizing? It’s like that with me and Nick Eisel. I’d love to go and say hello, but I don’t think I could do it without feeling disingenuous. Does anyone else have this problem? Like, you want to believe he’s a good guy, but you can’t ignore the endless stories about deck tampering, and the rumor that he got DQ’d from the World Series of Poker during his DCI suspension? It’d be like having a nice lunch with Henry Kissinger after having made about 200 “Operation Condor” jokes.
“Hey Henry – way to go on that whole Nobel prize thing. So… I know I hang out a lot with Chile, Paraguay and so on… but when they go on about you I just pretend to laugh. You know. To fit in.”
Round 3… a bye. Though I did go and check out how my buddy Josh Rider was doing against Brian Kowal. I arrived just in time to see him ship back a hand that went something like Invoke The Firemind, Brightflame, four five-mana creatures in four different colors, and a Mountain – a possible contender for the worst seven-card hand of all time that actually contained at least one land. Later in that match, Josh would accomplish something I thought impossible – he hit his first eight land drops, had four different colors of mana, and still couldn’t cast anything relevant.
Kowal somehow managed to pull out a victory with a turn 3 Cytoplast Root-Kin in Game 1 and a turn 1 Cytoplast Root-Kin in Game 2 – I think he actually started with it in play. Rough beat. Later in the event, I would often see Kowal playing in the area around where I was, and with each sighting, he would invariably be arguing heatedly with his opponent.
Round 4 versus Cedric Phillips a.k.a. CedricP a.k.a. +EV
Playing this guy is definitely “negative EV” for me, actually. I was sorta hoping for… I don’t know. Some kind of invalid – maybe a kid who sent “I want to attend GP Toronto” to the Make-A-Wish foundation. No such luck. Cedric was one of those guys who merrily views Magic through a green felt lens of positive expectation, buy-ins, suckouts, uh… check raises… well, whatever. I think I missed my big blind. Unfortunately for me, such players are usually quite good.
I lost Game 1 almost instantly. Get used to this in the following match reports. My deck in Game 1 has about five or six cards in it that, if drawn, are like taking a mulligan. You don’t know pain until you’ve taken a (legitimate) trip back to the well only to find Devouring Light, Twinstrike, Shrieking Grotesque, Forest, Forest, Mountain waiting for you.
Game 2 I resideboarded and ran a heavy sack beating with Moldervine Cloak. Cloak is one of the cards that benefits from my deck just casting guys instead of dicking around trying to finesse 4WWW spells. If I remember correctly, I got a big Cloak hit in, he cast a blocker, and I Pillory’d it and got another big Cloak hit in.
Game 3 was an interesting one. I had what I believe is an almost unbeatable opening hand of Mountain, Selesnya Sanctuary, Scorched Rusalka, Moldervine Cloak, Rumbling Slum, Last Gasp, and Viashino Fangtail. I got the Cloak out on my one-drop as planned, beating down quickly, but things got interesting when I drew dorks instead of land for a couple turns and Cedric got Minister of Impediments out and cast Nightmare Void, revealing my handful of absolute gas. We’ve been playing quickly, and when he said, “Okay, I’m going to need some time to figure this out,” I assured him that time probably wouldn’t be a factor.
The pause for brain usage was understandable. The permutations of Nightmare Void versus my hand were almost endless. Not knowing how many Swamps I’m playing versus how many Mountains, or Forests… the best Cedric could do was make educated guesses. He took the Fangtail first, and I failed to draw a land… but I did draw Dogpile, which would off his Minister just as easily. He Dredged the Void and took Dogpile. The next turn I drew a Swamp, and he didn’t Dredge. I killed his Minister EOT and drew an uncastable Golgari Rotwurm, then a Rakdos Signet to finally hit five mana for the Rotwurm and the Greater Forgeling I’d drawn earlier. Cedric cast Izzet Chronarch. At first, I thought he had only Nightmare Void in the yard, but a quick check revealed that he’d Dredged a Disembowel, and that’s what he took.
A couple of attacks and Rusalka activations in the intervening turns had taken Cedric down to five life, but he was quickly stabilizing. I cast out the Greater Forgeling and instead of using Disembowel, Cedric developed his side with a freshly drawn creature. His hand was Disembowel and not much else. I drew a land and cast Golgari Rotwurm, skillfully leaving a Signet untapped instead of a black mana. Oops. I noticed right away, but right away is still too late. Obviously, Cedric cast Disembowel on it and I had cost myself a point of damage. Meanwhile, the Rusalka traded in combat with a couple of opposing dudes and I sacrificed it, to bring Cedric to four. All I had in hand was a Stinkweed Imp that had been trapped there for ages since Cedric had played Trophy Hunter in the early going.
His board was Vedalken Entrancer, Izzet Chronarch, tapped Siege Wurm (it was looking to be the finisher) and Trophy Hunter against my Greater Forgeling. I was at ten, he was at four. I had one card in hand, he had none. My draw had yielded a land – I knew I couldn’t win by dredging Cloak unless my draw next turn was Skarrg, The Rage Pits, and I’d been hoping to topdeck Faith’s Fetters or Pillory for the Wurm to give myself a fighting chance. That hadn’t happened, and I gave the “here goes nothing” shrug and turned my Forgeling sideways, knowing full-well that I could still win if he chose to block with Trophy Hunter. Looking back, I did have another semi-viable option – dredging the Cloak, playing it on Greater Forgeling, and saying “go” with a 6/7 blocker in play… but that would leave me at the mercy of his Entrancer while our creatures stared at each other, to say nothing of his possible topdecks.
To my relief and delight, Cedric weighed his options and chose to play around Wildsize by blocking with everything. I killed Trophy Hunter and Entrancer, put my man in the bin, and then cast Stinkweed Imp. Before you question this play too much, keep in mind that my deck had not produced a single flier in either Game 1 or 2. That said, I had only two cards in hand and four mana available after pumping Greater Forgeling – they would have to be exactly Wildsize/Gather Courage or Wildsize/Seal of Fire, or else I couldn’t deal more than three through Chronarch and Entrancer, which would leave him with Trophy Hunter alive to guard against a post-combat Mourning Thrull, Stinkweed Imp or, god forbid, Utvara Scalper. What’s the correct play? Feel free to chime in.
I played the Imp after combat and he needed to draw one of approximately six outs in approximately eighteen cards – not bad odds. What he actually drew was a land, though, and that was the game. A peek at the top of my library revealed the Fetters I’d been hankering for, which would have made it interesting if he’d drawn a flier to block (since I couldn’t really afford to dredge the Cloak in that case).
This was an enjoyable match and Cedric was a fun guy to play against. Of course, it’s a lot easier to call a match “fun” when you’ve managed to squeak it out, as opposed to suffering a heartbreaking defeat. I was lucky to pull it out, his reverse implied odds were like 650,000,000 to 1, he got all his money in with the best hand, I just outdrew him.
PS: Cloak up my guy. All in. Or…
Player A: “Pocket aces.”
Player B: “Demonfire.”
I like the way Player B played that. Nice hand.
Round 5 versus Selesnya Guildmage Guy a.k.a. Token Green Guy a.k.a. Nice Nose
This is exactly the sort of opponent I wanted. A nice guy. A “good” player, but far from the best player ever. A deck with cards powerful enough to take him to 4-0 if drawn, but a bunch of duds as well, like Festival of the Guildpact. Plays at a brisk pace. May even be forgiving enough in the first game to spot me a freebie with some play errors. In short, a guy who plays like I did when I qualified for Pro Tour Chicago back in the day and thought I was good. Time to start the feeling out process.
“How did your first four rounds go?”
“I just cast Selesnya Guildmage and my opponents didn’t kill it. Sometimes I would have to discard from having eight cards in hand, because it made more sense to activate the Guildmage than to cast spells.”
Okay, we’re in business. My deck has a lot of problems, but one thing it can do is deal with a Selesnya Guildmage.
Game 2 and 3, I won. Not much to tell. One was a Cloak plus Skarrg blowout. The other was just a grinding win where I ended up killing him with Scorched Rusalka damage.
Record: 5-0, and boy did I need that match, because my deck is cuts, my build is cuts, and I am cuts.
Number of times I said the word “cuts” in the two years leading up to this event: 0
Number of times I said it at GP Toronto: 6,540
This was the round where most of my friends ended up dropping, and also the approximately the round when KK arrived at the event. Also, Samms probably started side drafting right around now. That’s another story. I’ll tell you another one instead. What is this alternative story, you ask?
Well… it’s… the story of…
Let me cut to the chase. There was a bespectacled teenager at Grand Prix Toronto who had one of the biggest, most utterly unabashed and unapologetic mullets in the history of the human head. Who was this visionary?
We do not know his name. We know him only as:
… a young man who set out to leave his mark and wound up leaving Ziggy in the StarDUST. I assure you, this was no mere piece of amateur neck-length work, but a small-of-the-back tickling, bowl-fronted behemoth straight out of Satan’s wigshop. And I haven’t even mentioned the wispy, nose-lint moustache.
In between rounds, when we needed some cheering up, the game of course was not DC-10 or mental magic or Ben Goodman/Adam Josef lawn darts – it was “Where’s Big Mulls?”. It became an obsession. For two perfect days, he was our Waldo, an elusive lad sporting nothing so mundane as striped shirt and tassled cap. No, his trademark was a shaggy coif right off the floor of the Kashyyyk Hair and Body Wellness Centre.
No matter how bad things were, we had Big Mulls to send us into peels of giddy laughter. The bad beats, slow rolls and mistakes would simply melt away, mere shadows before the blinding light of Big Mulls. Southern Ontario magician Cale Sparks, who found himself on the Day 2 bubble and fighting for survival, provided the ultimate example of the restorative power of Big Mulls.
Cale had fought long and hard with only one bye, found himself in a “win and in” position headed into Round 8. Tired and longing for a nice meal and an even nicer night of sleep, Cale was happy to see that he’d been paired down with someone sitting at 4-2-1 who couldn’t possibly make Day 2. Many people in that situation will concede to let their 5-2 opponents slip into Day 2, and Cale could only hope that his adversary would be gracious enough, kind enough, and merciful enough to pack ‘em up.
After that same Round 8, I found a despondent Cale sitting over by the pavilion. “I got paired down against some pro guy, he had no chance of making Day 2,” Cale lamented, “but he wouldn’t scoop and he crushed me- his draws were insane!”
Crushing dreams? Who would do such a thing? I checked the pairing sheet.
91 Sparks, Cale vs. Ravitz, Joshua (P)
That must have been like trying to get Genghis Khan to scoop in a Go tournament.
“Well, Ravitz is very good…” I said, trying to console him. Cale didn’t perk up much at that news… but luckily for him, there was other medicine on the premises, and I saw his eyes light up as he got to his feet and surveyed the teeming side event tables.
“Where is Big Mulls?!” he cried. “I need some cheering up. Big Mulls! You have a giant mullet! Where are you?” And so the search began. By the time it was over, the tragic details of Round 8 was the furthest thing from Cale’s mind.
I wonder where Big Mulls is, right now? Is he staring up at the same bloated, mid-June sky that I am? In fact, I often ask myself…WWBMD?
Spare me the story. Where’s your mullet?
Round 6 versus Antonino DeRosa a.k.a….. Man, I Want To Forget This Match
This round is covered on the Sideboard. It’s amusing to note that Antonino works for R & D at Upper Deck and I work for UDE’s creative team. I soundly defeated Ant the time we played before this. Sadly, the game in question was an aborted trial version of the WoW CCG – but boy, did I house him.
I was really depressed after this match. This was the first match I’ve ever played where I honestly just felt like I was too stupid to compete, and that the gulf in talent between me and the guy across the table was too great to overcome. I had never felt like that before, and it made me feel… old. Old and slow.
The second game of this match was basically my brain being overloaded. I had to figure out how to most efficiently stack my library with Junktroller plus Stinkweed dredge while remembering to ping him every turn with Rakdos Ickspitter and possibly sneak in a few points of damage here and there…and I just couldn’t do it. With two pingers on the board, I let a two-toughness flyer live for several turns and took a boatload of unnecessary damage as a result. Adding to my dismay, Antonino had to prod me a little about the pace of my play – something that has never, ever happened to me before. Why was I playing slowly? Because I couldn’t figure it out, that’s why. For the first time, I was the confused and harried one, the guy slowing down the game to the speed of his own addled mind.
In the end, when it became clear the Imp-dredge plan wouldn’t work, I could have set myself up to draw my one out – Moldervine Cloak – and win… but I failed to do that, pinging Golgari Rotwurm with Rakdos Ickspitter instead of killing his Golgari Guildmage.
Of course, I drew the Cloak. (To be fair, Antonino had mana to add a counter to his Guildmage to prevent it from dying, but I had to hope he would throw it at me with Rotwurm instead… I was almost dead, and he hadn’t seen the Cloak yet. It was worth a shot.)
I think I felt like every old, mediocre chessmaster did the first time they played against, say, Kasparov or Bobby Fischer, and let a game slip away not because they didn’t work hard enough to prepare enough, but because their brains were literally not strong enough. That’s how I felt. Maybe I’m too competitive, but the alternative… playing badly and getting my ass kicked with a big, goofy smile on my face – throwing down spells in the Round 2 “writers feature match,” maybe wearing a cape… just seems ridiculous to me. I want to win, all the time, and I always have. When I lose, I feel terrible.
Somewhere out there, there’s a guy who wants it just as badly as, say, Michael Jordan… but he was born 5’5, 120 pounds, with a club-foot. I think I understand that guy. What happens when you want to win all the time but you’re just not good enough to do that?
You spend a lot of time in between rounds in a miserable haze. Not even BDM, the most affable of men, would come near me. He would later say he could relate to how I felt, which was a comfort. I tried to explain how I felt to Josh Rider and others, and I don’t think I was very successful.
The bottom line is that some part of my self-worth is tied to success at whatever I try. I know there are some people out there who are like me in that regard – you all know what I’m talking about. And to fail so spectacularly, in a feature match, no less… ouch.
Just ouch. Oh well. I could only hope my next pairing is kind. Maybe I’d get matched up with some guy riddled by a swarm of various neurological impairments.
Round 7 versus Gerard Fabiano a.k.a. Abraham Zapruder
Gerard was doing a “video tournament report” but there was no sign of his camera this round, which I owe to my grotesque appearance and the fact that any video shot of me after my performance against Antonino would probably eventually end up on a stout mahogany table beside the label “Exhibit A”.
Game 1 was my usual “Hour Of Reckoning stuck in hand” loss, made all the more hilarious by the fact that he had Leafdrake Roost. I showed him the Hour of Reckoning after he’d crushed me, breaking every rule about tipping off a Wrath, but in this case it didn’t matter. The idea was that he might play around it after I’d sideboarded it out, but that was pretty pointless – Hour of Reckoning has a very distinctive casting cost, I doubt Gerard would think twice about flooding the board with me showing one White source out of six land.
Game 2 was a Moldervine Cloak plus Skarrg beating where Gerard basically had no chance. Amazing how well this deck works when you take the uncastable cards out and draw Cloak every game, huh?
Game 3 he wins.
Gerard is a master at little “Sorry, guy” head shakes that let his opponents know that he knows how it feels to lose and if he could find a way for both of you to win, he would. Stuff like that is a lost art – but I appreciate it. Magic is so closely tied to the mood of the players… the importance of being able to win with grace can’t be overstated. We’ll come back to that subject later. For now… ask yourself this:
Is it Gerard’s responsibility to soften the blow of victory against an opponent who is depressed and/or steaming mad?
Or… is it the loser’s responsibility not to get upset when the victor acts as human nature says he should – with elation? Regardless of the circumstances?
I think it’s somewhere in between – but thanks anyway, Gerard.
At this point I was almost welcoming an elimination, just so I could wallow in misery for a while and have an another excuse to quit this tantalizing but painful card game. The last GP I went to, Colombus if I recall, I had three byes and ended up missing Day 2. It was one of the worst days of my life. I was basically resigned to a Colombus repeat, the way things were going. I was a mountain of negativity. People tried to cheer me up; they failed. Not even Big Mulls could get a rise out of me. The world was gray, dreary… pointless. I just wanted to go home and sleep for about 18 hours.
Remembering how I felt then, I really wish I could have flashed forward in time about 16 hours to watch Phil Samms run side drafts on Day 2 – because I’m sure there would have been no way to keep a smile off of my face.
Whatever. Onward. Last round.
Round 8 versus Some Guy
I won this Round, and that’s honestly all I remember… the details are the least important thing about it. My opponent’s name is beyond me now, and I think that’s because I was basically playing against fate… something beyond my control. I was staring Magic in the eye and saying, “If you give this guy the cards to beat me, I’m out of here.” Stupid, I know. But honestly, after the match with Antonino, and the realization that I’m not much fun to be around at an event when I’m losing… I wasn’t sure I even deserved to play.
I do recall that I won a Game 1 for the first time all day, beating a weak draw by my opponent, and then managed to pull out Game 2 as well. Sitting here now, I’m almost ashamed to note that, had I lost this round, this report wouldn’t even exist and I probably would have quit Magic (again) as a result.
I actually talked a little about this phenomenon with Ben Goodman, who had some good advice – make the game less about winning and losing, and more about the social interactions.
Hey, that might work. Maybe then I won’t be such a miserable prick all the time, at every event I attend. But back to Round 8 – the match immediately to my right was Rick “Iceblaze” Selinger against some Mexican guy. Like Cale Sparks and myself, Rick needed a win and in… and like Cale, he’d been paired against a guy who couldn’t possibly make Day 2. While I was beating down, I heard snippets of conversation like this:
“Would you like to concede?”
“Very good playings you are doing, senor. Have funs and luck. Look here – this Moldervine Cloak, I attack for ten.”
“Maybe you don’t understand…”
“Very good playings you are doing.”
“I’m asking if you want to concede. Since you can’t make Day 2 and I can.”
“Look, for ten I attack, here…”
“My hand is like a piÃ±ata of Wreckings Ball. Two I have. I don’t see you can win.”
“Do-ey… el… concede-o… you… el wanto?”
Record: 6-2… good enough for 49th place. I returned to see my travel-mates participating in the most drunk and disorderly team draft I’d ever seen. Five extra life to start if you can blow a 0.11 BAL at the checkpoint. I chowed down on some premium-priced snack food and somehow managed to fall asleep amidst the chaos.
I made it to draft day. I made it to draft day. I made it to draft day.
But before I go to sleep, let me tell you a little about how the sun sets out in Toronto. It starts out by shimmering over the tops of the high-rises out in the eastern sky, presiding over them like a king at court, and as it sinks lower and the metropolitan shadows lay down to rest another night, growing ever longer, one gets a feeling of justkiddingIdon’twritelikethisanymoreDemonfireyou.
See you on Day 2.
[Join us tomorrow for the conclusion of this excellent report! – Craig.]