A Thousand-Dollar Journey For Nothing?, Part II – Beating Garfield With A Kiss

Yeah, yeah, yeah – the woman with the Viking helmet scrubbed out in the draft at Nations. You don’t care. But I bet you want the tourney report on the Live Action Magic game she played with Richard Garfield himself, using Alan Comer, Gary Wise, and Sol Malka as cards….

Day 2 of Nationals. Despite the rest of the Colorado contingent’s desire to get in a bunch of OD-TO-JU draft practice in before this morning, I decide to just go back to my hotel room and get some sleep. I hate draft. I suck at draft. I think I’ve played in a total of five drafts in my entire life. Did I mention that I hate draft?

I think it has something to do with the thought of me paying someone $8-$10 to give yet another person my good rares. When I become the person that is paying $8-$10 to get everyone else’s good rares, then I might change my attitude. Of course, I still have to go through the first stage to get at the second stage. If I had an internet connection at home, then I’ll bet Magic Online could make this transition a little less painful…. But that’s a topic for another day.

Okay, so as I was saying, I suck at draft. I also have the fortune to get Chris Benafel on my left and Andrew Johnson on my right. The first pack I open, the only two good cards are Muscle Burst and Shelter. Both are tempting, as I know I am going to see a lot of white and green in Judgment… But I also know that the green Judgment is just plain better. So I take the Muscle Burst. I see a few green cards here and there through the Odyssey pack, but not much. Someone to my right is sucking up the blue and black, so I don’t have much to pick from and start taking the decent red – Firebolt, Chainflinger, Rights of Initiation, Demoralize. At least I am in red and green, the two colors I consider the best combination for the draft. When Torment comes by, I don’t see a single Violent Eruption or Fiery Temper – what kind of crap is that?

This is where I make a few mistakes that probably hurt my deck. I don’t take the Petradon I open, thinking something that expensive will come back. It doesn’t. I also let three Longhorn Firebeasts past in favor of other cards (I can’t recall what), since everyone tells me how much they dislike the Firebeast. Bad move, as I only end up getting back one. Judgment makes up for it, as I see a Firecat Blitz – and then another one. Unfortunately, the second Blitz is in the same pack as Arcane Teachings. The one card I wanted to make sure I got in draft was Arcane Teachings, and I decide to take the Blitz over it for the swarm strategy? Doh! I also should’ve let someone else counterdraft the Silver Seraph… But as I’ve said before, I suck at draft.

I end up with an enormous pile of red cards, and only a handful of green. The handful consists of Giant Warthog, Arrogant Wurm, Muscle Burst, and Chatter of the Squirrel. I spent a long time debating whether or not to splash green, but finally decided to go mono-red, putting in a bunch of one-drop creatures in hopes to get a Rites off early. When I looked at it, I didn’t think the deck looked all that bad – five 1-drops, Rites, two Blitzes, Firebolt, Chainflinger, Pardic Arsonist, Demoralize, Pyromania, three Barbarian Bullies, Longhorn Firebeast, and a couple of other miscellaneous red stuff.

How wrong I was.

Round 1, I play Craig Wescoe. Game 1, I draw a great hand, with Rites, Firecat Blitz, and Barbarian Bullies. I lose thanks to timely Prismatic Strands and Pay No Heeds from Craig. Game 2 is no contest, as I can’t draw much more than a bunch of land. Not a good start.

Round 2, I play Andrew Mabry, the only person other than me that Craig said he didn’t recognize in our pod. He’s wearing a Japanese Transformers t-shirt; you get an extra brownie point from me for that one. Game 1, Andrew gets minimal offense out early and nips my heels while my Chainflinger starts pinging away. While we are playing, another photographer decides to stop by our table and start taking pictures. Again? I try to ignore the photographer as best I can and continue to play. I have Rites in my hand, and am set up to do more than fifteen points of damage to Andrew if I attack with everyone. I attack and cast Rites, pitching a hand of four Mountains. Andrew responds with a Toxic Stench to one of the Enslaved Dwarves. I can still get enough damage through to kill him off, though.

Then he responds again with another Toxic Stench.

Crud. That ends this one.

Game 2 is a little bit better for me, as I manage to get him down to five life, holding a Firebolt in my hand. I just need to draw one of five to six burn spells. I think we go through about six turns where I see nothing but land. In the meantime, Andrew manages to Last Rites the Firebolt to my graveyard, and then Nantuko Tracer it to the bottom of my library. Ack! I should have cast it! He ends up taking over with his fliers and shutting me down while I continue to draw very little in the way of spells.

That’s two rounds in a row that I get mana-flooded. I am talking to one of the other Colorado players, and he said he kept getting mana-screwed. So I wiped his shirt with my hand, hoping to give him some of my mana flood.

Round 3, I play Scott Johns. You can’t imagine how much of a relief it was to finally see Scott Johns in person. You see, I had a buddy in college who was named Scott Johns. When I first saw the name Scott Johns associated with Magic, it was sometime around 1997. This was long after I lost contact with my Scott Johns, and I was dying of curiosity to know if the two were one and the same.

Now, finally, five years later, the mystery is solved – they aren’t.

This little revelation was probably the most interesting part of our match, as I finally get rid of the mana flood curse and stick at three land for all of Game 1. Game 2, I couldn’t find a way out of staring down Aboshan, Cephalid Emperor.

Scott was nice enough after our match to give me a few pointers. He also mentioned that he would’ve splashed my good green, which is the opposite advice I heard from Craig earlier in the day. Uh, okay. After seeing the size of the creatures everyone was playing with, though, I think I’d have to agree with Scott on this one – I should have splashed green.

At around this time, Mike (you know, the hubby) and I try to swallow some lunch while there is a little bit of time before the next draft. I find out from Gary Wise that the photographer is with the Orlando Sentinel, and they want to get an interview with me. The lone female gig again. First question out of the reporter’s mouth – how old are you? I think this is also the first question that Gary asked when we started our interview yesterday. Could someone please tell me why this is the first thing everyone wants to know? Is it some sort of measuring stick for the rest of the world?

Fortunately for them, I was more than happy to oblige. Most of the Magic community that I hang around with thinks I am in my mid-thirties, and I need to set the record straight that I am still not thirty. This interview actually ended up in the Sunday Orlando Sentinel, so I got the privilege of taking home a few souvenirs from my trip.

So here I am, 0-3 for Day 2, without winning a single game. Did I mention that I suck at draft? I think I’ll spare you the gory details of Draft #2, since it was really pretty horrible. I did finally manage to find people worse than I was, though, as I ended up 2-4 on the day, thanks in part to a match loss by one of my opponents for registering a 39-card deck. Heck, I was ready to take whatever I could get so my finish didn’t look so horrible.

As far as drafting goes, the only piece of advice I can give you is that it pays to eat your fruit. I won a Disney World pin from a DJ outside for walking by while eating an apple I grabbed from the car. So matter what happens to you in life, always make sure to eat your fruit.

Don’t stop reading just yet – I have yet to talk about the coup de grace!!! I was determined to make it worth my time to be at Nationals, so when I heard about the chance to battle Richard Garfield in Live Action Magic, I promptly bought thirty tickets. You can guess that people were laughing at me as I strutted around with three long banners of red tickets, waiting for them to make the announcement. I thought this might be my only chance to play Mr. Garfield, and I was going to make sure the odds were in my favor. I looked excited and desperate enough that I managed to convince a couple of the players I met throughout the day to feel free to pass on their ticket in the chance that their name got drawn instead.

Drumroll, please. The announcer starts calling off numbers, the last two digits being 87. I look at the first ticket from each strip, and see 88 at the top. Oh no – am I just one ticket shy? Then I look at the following ticket… 87. Woot! I’m in! Imagine someone from The Price is Right jumping up and down and screaming as they come on stage. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before. I still can’t believe I did that.

Live Action Magic, for those of you who don’t know, is where the two players get people from the audience to represent the cards in play – lands, creatures, etc. Lots of props help distinguish creatures, lands, and other spells. If you’ve seen Live Action Chess at your local Renaissance Festival, you probably have a good idea of how this plays out.

Ding! Ding! Ding! Soapbox time! Feel free to skip ahead to the play-by-play.

Now, I know that Live Action Magic is mostly for fun, but other than a few pictures on the Sideboard, I saw no coverage of this match. Wizards employees out there, this should be a feature match with full, in-depth, play-by-play analysis! The antics that happen on the scene are much more interesting than about half the feature matches. Heck, I bet even Randy wouldn’t walk away in the middle of this game. Live Action Magic is the core of what Magic is supposed to be – fun! Heck, I’ll even go out to the next one and write the coverage for you. My treat.

Ding! Ding! Ding! Soapbox time over!

It is Richard in one corner with Randy as his card holder and commentator, me in the other corner with Mark Rosewater as my card holder and commentator. Live Action Magic begins with the roll of a big squishy twenty-sided die (I have to get one of those). Both Richard and I roll a twelve, and we go again. This time, with an extra flip of the wrist, I manage to wind up with a nineteen. I get to either choose the deck or play first. After a quick glance at the props on the table, I see my choice of either Blue/Red or Green/White. The choice is obvious, and I decide to pick the deck, taking Blue/Red. My opening hand isn’t bad with a couple of lands, a couple of Shocks, Stone Rain, Blaze, and Wash Out. Richard starts off with a Forest, and passes the turn. I lay down a Mountain and pass. Richard lays another Forest, and then plays Werebear. Oops, he just got shocked. I start giggling as my next draw ends up being yet another Shock. Richard plays another land, and then casts a Samite Healer. The crowd starts chanting,”Shock!”,”Shock!”,”Shock!”. Of course I oblige them.

I grab Ed Fear from the crowd and get him to shoot down the unsuspecting victim – a judge. Turn three, I Stone Rain one of his lands, but Richard isn’t fazed as he plops down another critter. I have an Unsummon in my hand, but can’t figure out what to do with it, until I draw the next card – Flametongue Kavu. This is going to be so fun! I grab an overly-excited kid from the audience who does a great job of throwing out the fire. Richard casts a Noble Panther, which I block, put damage on the stack, and then Unsummon the Flametongue to take out the Noble Panther on my turn.

Now this is where things start to get ugly. Richard decides to cast Gorilla Titan. I count his mana – four. What? Judge? The judge tells me that Richard had three mana floating, and more than enough to cast the Titan. The photographer shows me the bribe on his camera, but I am still nonplussed as I start arguing with the judge. Somebody else points out the bribe packs on the floor, and the light finally shines. Now I get it. Okay, so the Gorilla Titan is on the board. He also happens to be an 8/8 monster, since Richard was able to connive his graveyard into going over to my side.

Now I’m ready to really battle, as I finally get the chance to don my Viking armor from yesterday. Richard attacks with his Titan – but before I declare my Flametongue Kavu as a blocker, I make sure that his graveyard remembers their loyalty to their owner. The Flametongue blocks. Richard responds with a Giant Growth, and I have no choice but to cast the other Unsummon I just drew. I forgot to put damage on the stack, though, and I take seven trample damage to the head. The shenanigans end after I recast my Flametongue and take the Titan off the board. Things calm down a little, and I manage to cast a Hill Giant. Everyone was rooting for me to pick Gary Wise, but I had to pick this one guy who towered over everyone else – he was a great Hill Giant. Gary still got a chance to get in the game, becoming Richard’s Wayward Angel. Richard is at threshold, so the lone Angel on his side doesn’t faze me too much.

I lay another Island on my turn, and grab a lady from the audience. Mark Rosewater once again proves he is the king of bad puns by commenting on my choice:”After all, no man is an Island.” I pass the turn.

In a move I didn’t see coming, during Richard’s upkeep, he announces Vivify; a land goes to the graveyard, and he draws a card. I should point out that he announced Vivify. No spell, no card, no tapped land, it just happened. I guess cards just appear when you’re the creator of Magic. If you ask me, I think he was getting outside help on that one.

Okay, so the Angel tries to take a swing at me. I bribe his graveyard back to my side, and announce my second Flametongue as an instant. Richard has not one, but two Giant Growths to respond with (one being recast from the graveyard), and I take another ten to the head, putting me at three life. At the end of his turn, I Unsummon the Flametongue back to my hand for the third time. I actually wasn’t taking cards from my graveyard or making them up – I really did draw three Unsummons. On my turn, Gary dies a timely death.

I’m still holding Blaze in my hand, with a Hill Giant and two Flametongue Kavus on the board. I try to count Richard’s and my land to see how much creature damage I have to get through before I can steal his lands and send the Blaze for the final blow. I attack with everything, and Richard casts a legitimate Tangle, leaving me defenseless. On his turn, Richard then summons Call of Alan Comer, and everyone passes around an actual Alan Comer token card to see. Staring down a quick demise, I have no choice but to Wash Out naming red at the end of Richard’s turn. Randy makes sure to comment,”Gotta love that end-of-turn Washout.” Hey, I’ve always said Wash Out would be a really great card if it was an instant. Alan Comer gets Flametongued off the board during my turn.

Richard doesn’t do much during his turn, but I did notice that he happened to steal one of my Mountains. Not gleaning a purpose, I dismiss it and don’t try to get it back. Suddenly, I see this big guy carrying a club coming right at me. What?”Volcanic Hammer,” announces the judge. Wait, wait! I have a response! I start trying to steal all of Richard’s land and tap it for mana, but he manages to get about half of his lands to come back. Alright, audience participation time!”Everyone who wants to be a land, come on down!” The response is amazing. I think I end up with about thirty land on my side, which I tap and summon forth Sol Malka to deliver the twenty-point Blaze to Richard’s head. The Judge calls a halt, and says that I can’t cast Blaze. It’s a sorcery.

Okay, gotta find a way to bribe the judge. There aren’t any more bribe packs left, and I only have a penny and nickel in my pocket. The judge is scratching his cheek, but I am slow to catch on. Then I finally get it. I plant a big kiss on his cheek, he turns around and declares,”Blaze is an instant!” Sometimes it pays to be female.

And that’s how I brought down the creator of Magic. This, by the way, has apparently relegated me to sketchy player status for beating Garfield at his own game. What can I say? I play to win.

When everything started winding down on Saturday, a conversation I had with a lady who brought her son to the JSS came back to me. I had asked her if she and her son were planning on visiting Disney World after this weekend, and she said that to her son, this tournament was Disney World. You know what, I think I have to agree with her. This was Disney World.

I think I’m going to have to come back to visit again sometime soon.