An Airport Hell-o

Get ready for Standard at SCG Open Series: Milwaukee and SCG Classic Series: Raleigh by reading about some interactions that came up at Brian’s last tournament.

There are many scenarios and situations that occur in the world that I find annoying, stressful, and undesirable. As I get older, wiser, and perhaps more contemptuous, the list of things that I seem to find objectionable grows.

4) The behavior and practices of most other human beings in public restrooms.
3) The dredge mechanic in general.
2) People who cannot function for five minutes without fiddling with a smart phone.
1) Airports.

(Keep in mind these are items I find"annoying, stressful, and undesirable,"not "unforgivable, terrifying, and horrific."For examples of the latter, see serious socioeconomic problems, murder, deforestation, global warming, and Mana Crypt being legal in Commander).

What could be more fun in a casual format than a card that isn’t fun and costs $100?

I loathe the airport experience with every fiber of my being. They are the social, spatial, and structural convergence of everything that makes my skin crawl. The anatomy of an airport is a countless, teeming mass of humanity, all of whom are miserable because they don’t want to be stuck in an airport and all wishing they were anywhere else.

For an analogous Magic scenario, think 2000-player Homelands Limited Grand Prix.

I imagine that hell is a lot like a six-and-a-half-hour layover in New York—an inferno of $8.50 cappuccinos being smashed into by the mass of mindless zombies on their cell phones breathing the same stale recycled terminal air all day long. The constant static clacking of roller bag wheels is enough to make torment by fire seem welcoming.

So just for today I am going to chat with you guys like I’m a Magic player who is bored, stuck, and stranded at an airport with nothing else to do but talk about Magic. I’m sure that most of you can relate to this. Stuck in a car with a few guys from the game store four hours out from a PTQ in Pittsburg with no known commonalities besides Magic.

Just killing time and making small talk about plays, cards, combos, metagames, anything Magic while waiting in anticipation of getting to play more challenging, meaningful Magic at the next destination.

Dublin, Ireland, the Emerald Isle on the other side of the cold, mighty Atlantic, awaits me.

The next destination . . .

And so I wait at JFK for my connecting flight out of purgatory to the promised land of competitive Magic. Ah, the light at the end of the tunnel of airport death.

Next weekend I get to play in another Magic: The Gathering Pro Tour. Possibly another soul-crushing defeat lurking just around the bend.

The great thing about soul-crushing defeat is that a person has to have high expectations going into the event. I always have high expectations going into a Magic event. I want to do well, I prepare the best that I can, and I always try my best.

The Pro Tour has been a challenge (to say the least!) for me so far, and I have been overall very disappointed with the results that I have put up in the ten times I’ve been there. I only have one money finish to show for all of my years playing the game and have been heartbroken by tiebreakers on multiple occasions (missing money and missing Top 8).

It’s been a weird ride. The Pro Tour and I seem to have a very "oops, I’m qualified again" and "oops, I’m off again" kind of relationship. I don’t mean to present this in such a negative light. Playing on the Pro Tour is a lot of fun win, lose, or draw.

At this point I’m really looking forward to a weeklong Magic vacation in Europe with a bunch of my friends. I think that is what the Pro Tour is all about. I’ve had a lot of losing PTs, but there wasn’t a single one that I didn’t have an absolute blast attending.

Is it possible that airport hell is the high point of PT week as I wait in anticipation of all the fun stuff about to happen to me over the next week and the potential for some great success? If I feel like it, I could even imagine what it would feel like to win the PT at this point because it is actually theoretically possible. Unlikely, but possible.

Yeah, so have you actually gotten to play any tournaments with Theros Standard yet?

I’ve done quite a bit of playtesting but have only gotten to play in one actual tournament. I split the Top 8 of a 45-player tournament at Warriors III last Thursday playing basically the stock Esper Control list from my last article.

I did have a couple of really interesting interactions come up during the tournament.

Check this out—I ultimated an Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver against my Mono-Red Aggro opponent. And yes, it is nice to live in Magical Christmas Land, thank you very much.

Ultimate and keep doing it.

When Ashiok goes ultimate, if it survives the cards that get exiled from the opponent’s hand and graveyard can still be played via the –X ability.

(If you must know, my opponent mulliganed to five and kept a no-land hand on the draw. I lost the match though).

Also, Ashiok accidently crushes the Maze’s End deck.

I also got to ultimate Jace, Architect of Thought (I know, right? All ultimate, all the time!) and take my opponent’s Aetherling. I didn’t realize this until after I cast the Aetherling, but if it gets blinked, it will come back under its owner’s control.

It’s pretty lucky that Aetherling has the -ling ability, as I was able to make it commit suicide in response to my opponent’s Azorius Charm! Obviously, same story is true with an opponent’s Obzedat, Ghost Council put into play with Jace or Ashiok.

If you don’t own it, don’t blink it.

Mono-Red Aggro seems like a really hard matchup for Esper Control. I even had Blood Baron of Vizkopas in the maindeck. Burning Earth seems like the absolute most nightmare card to play against with a slow three-color control deck.

Also, I didn’t know this before, but I was told by a judge that Burning Earth’s damage trigger can be redirected to planeswalkers. What?!

Unbeatable—if it sticks.

One-sided Manabarbs is such a fun effect. Somebody has a really messed up sense of humor. There are five sets legal in Standard—three are from a multicolor block, one is a core set, and one is a big set. I think it would be really fun to have a card that punishes people for trying to play with the cards from the multicolor block.

To be fair, Burning Earth is probably just a mistake that tries to cover up another mistake.


Not that losing to Sphinx’s Revelation is any better than losing to Burning Earth. It is about the same level of fail.

I really believe that Burning Earth exists because somebody made a mistake and let Sphinx’s Revelation see print.

"I want to believe." —The X-Files

It has a fourth ability?! SAY WHAT?!

I had two different opponents not realize that my Blood Baron of Vizkopa was actually a 10/10 flying creature because my opponent was at ten and I was at 30. One individual was waiting until my end step to cast his Sphinx’s Revelation (thinking he was going from ten to six) and instead just died in combat.


No blocks.



Ok, you are at zero and lose.


I know; I’m as surprised as you are.

I also watched a game where one player had a 10/10 Blood Baron and didn’t even know it. Blood Baron goes big sometimes; it happens every single day.

Ok, here’s another sweet interaction:

It happened to me. It was bad.

I could not protect my Elspeth, Sun’s Champion from his scary royalty. If you are tired of getting crushed by Elspeth, Imposing Sovereign might be worth checking out. I really think the card could a pretty spicy piece of tech at some point in the future in Standard. It’s got some action against Aetherling too.

Well, my flight is boarding, so I’ve got to go. Goodbye airport hell and hell-o Ireland.

Only one more terrible moment to endure before I get there. The one where seemingly reasonable everyday people cannot figure out how to get off of a plane without taking forever. Hey, guy in the front row! Take your time repacking that gigantic roller bag while everybody else stands and waits.

Also, I’m going to miss the Detroit Lions finally beat the Green Bay Packers in Green Bay for the first time in well over two decades.

"I want to believe."

Are there any other quirky Standard interactions you have noticed that people should know about? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks and cheers,
Brian DeMars

Follow me on Twitter @briandemars1