A Tournament Report, Minus The Report

…Just what it says, folks.

Hello, all. Recently, I tried my B/U/W control deck at a local tournament again, but to less success than before. Instead of telling you about the plays of that tournament, though, I thought I’d talk about the players. People have tried to place those involved with Magic into categories in the past. Those categories included Traders, Players, and Dealers; Casual, Semi-Casual, and Pro; Sharks, Fish, and Guppies, etc. But, no one can ever be neatly fit into any category. Therefore, I thought I might show what real people in the Magic world are like.

In the first match, I was paired up against Star City (the store, not the website) regular, Sonny Jones. You know he’s serious about playing when you look at his deck. Of his four Rishadan Ports, two are Japanese and one is foil. All his land is composed of foil Urza’s Saga lands. His Birds of Paradise are from Beta. I’m more surprised to see a NON-foil card out of his deck than a foil one. As our game progressed, he showed his devotion by not only playing with pretty cards, but by also playing with them very well. He concentrated on what he was doing and made the best available choices. He talked very little and ignored the distractions about him. His slow and deliberate play, when combined with my slow and deliberate play, led us to a forty-minute game in game one. Needless to say, we ended in a draw. Good thing, too, because he had TWELVE sideboard cards against my deck. Yikes!

Sonny’s a mad collector who has foils of just about everything, but he doesn’t let it go to his head. He’s a very cool and collected (no pun intended) player, and he’s pretty darn good, too. After our match, he commented,”Those draws’ll kill you!” in reference to our final tournament standings, but we both made it into the Top Eight, so we didn’t have too much to be worried about.

Match Two was against a guy whom I’ve seen but I don’t really know. He was relatively good-humored, but he was also dead serious about his game. In addition, he was EXTREMELY confident in himself; not to the point of conceit, but just enough for me to notice that nothing I did would faze him. He won Game One, and he got out Millstones faster than I did in Game Two. As he was filling out the results cards, he said,”Well, it’s time to go play golf.””You’re leaving?” I asked.”Yup.” So, I asked him why he didn’t just give me the win.”I need the points,” he responded.”What’s the difference between an 0-2 drop and a 1-1 drop?” I asked.”I dunno,” he said as he walked away. Well, that left a bad taste in my mouth. He could very well have cost me the Top Eight with no real advantage on his part. When I went a Team Sealed PTQ, our team gave our last opponent all three wins (though we had won one match) because we were dropping and they were going on. It seems to me to be the civil thing to do. So this guy is a stickler for his rating and a good player. I didn’t get any headway on him, just as I didn’t with the many others just like him that I’ve met.

My next opponent was in the 0-2 slot, and we were at the last table. Boo-urns. After our games, I realized exactly why he was in the 0-2 slot. His deck was a Fires variant that really didn’t have any fat (including Blastoderm) and whose acceleration was Quirion Elves. He was running Volcanic Hammer and Lava Axe as his burn. He was very receptive to any suggestions – indeed, he asked me to look at his deck and suggest some improvements for his deck. I spread out his deck on the table and told him what I might do to the deck. He and his friend nodded and noted the suggestions. They were very eager to learn, and pretty nice overall.

During that game, we had a bit of distraction to deal with as well: Rodney, who has sort of a deck-borrowing history with me. Today was no different, as he was playing with my Domain deck that I’ve had since before there was such a thing as Domain. Throughout most of our match, Rodney was talking to me about my deck, how it works, and how he might improve it. I like Rodney, but he was being pretty distracting. He’s a funny, down-to-earth kinda guy who conceals his clever worldly observations beneath an almost goofy exterior.

My next match decides whether or not I make it into the Top Eight. Lucky for me, my opponent is Adam Bowles playing the Foil Fish deck, so the pressure is off. Adam’s a really nice guy who was satisfied with the fun he’d had during the day. I beat him twice in a row, but I don’t think I can recall his face without a smile. He tried some Jedi Mind Tricks:”Yep, I have two Islands untapped. Go for it. Wrath of God. Go ahead.” But he wasn’t sounding sarcastic. He sounded almost like he wanted me to Wrath. I did, and he didn’t counter. He smiled and put his creatures in his graveyard. When we finished playing, he told me that this was his first time playing Magic in about a year, and a 2-2 finish made him rather pleased. Also, I learned that Adam is the VERY best kind of player: The kind that reads my articles. 🙂

So I’m in the Top Eight. Pressure’s on! My first opponent is a rematch against DJ, playing Fires. DJ feels very confident about his deck and plays fluidly. He expects my Wraths of God, and I squeak a first-game win. In the second game, shortly after I discarded my second Teferi’s Moat, he used Thunderscape Battlemage to destroy the first one, dealing me eight points of damage. He and his friends were pretty sure that he was going to beat me. I remained very quiet and calculating, feeling that no one was on my side. I managed to Wrath and gained control again, even through an Obliterate. As I was gaining control, DJ got slowly quieter, until no one was talking as we were playing. It was as if he had been deflated. Apparently, he doesn’t like to lose, especially when he thinks he should win. But he wasn’t a bad loser, and I look forward to having future Top Eight faceoffs with him.

My next opponent is Raynor Barton, playing some God-awful red Sligh deck that just wrecks everything in the environment. I helped Raynor playtest his deck, and I don’t remember a night where I’ve lost more games than that night of playtesting. So needless to say, Raynor’s very confident about his chances of winning, and I’m contemplating my desperate win conditions. As we start to play, I realize that DJ’s gaggle of friends is nothing compared to Raynor’s. It seems like everyone in the building except for the other U/W Control player in the other semi-finals game is rooting for Raynor, and rather loudly, too. James, who’s sitting on the end of the table, finds especial pleasure in everything that Raynor does and makes even the worst topdecks of his seem like Godsent presents and the best cards I can manage seem like drek. In Game One, Raynor just crushed my face in, and he had a great time doing it. If I’d won the die roll, the whole game could have been different, as I would have been able to counter his Chimeric Idol… But luck wasn’t with me that day. In Game Two, he’s in high spirits. I mulligan twice into a two-land hand, and that doesn’t make him feel any worse. I’m one turn too late playing my boarded-in Teferi’s Moat (which was included in my deck as a specific foil to Raynor’s). Therefore, I have to Rout his only creature before he can sac it to Keldon Necropolis, sending my Nether Spirit to the graveyard and giving his Chimeric Idol the opportunity to make me lose my last two life points. After I Routed, Raynor shrugged, turned his Idol sideways, and triumphantly proclaimed,”Crack!” Then, he split the prize with Sonny.

Raynor likes to win, and he’s popular with the Star City folks (many of which belong on the same team of players). He’s also a good player, so his desire to win does not go unfulfilled. He reveled in his glory, talking about how terrible his deck is, and disliking the paltry amount of good rares in his prize packs. But, after the tournament, away from his teammates, he told me that he was lucky and that I played well. So, it seems like he wants to please everybody. He’s not a bad guy – he’s just someone who likes to be cheered for.

So, those are the people that I met at the tournament. I’m sure that you’ve met similar people, and, if you haven’t, you probably will. As for you, at least you know that you’re like Adam Bowles.

Daniel Crane

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