Ask The Drama — The Masses Have Spoken

Read Jeroen Remie every Wednesday... at StarCityGames.com!
Last week, Jeroen cast his dignity in the dirt and literally begged for your questions. You responded in your droves, packing his inbox with enough content for five or six weeks! Today’s Ask The Drama begins thinning his inbox, and Jeroen answers questions on coping with playing a Big Name Pro, Mono Black in Standard, and much much more!

As it turns out, despite losing all my self-respect, begging does work.

Right after typing last week’s plea for questions, I decided that it would be the last time I’d be grovelling in the dirt, and that if I had to beg so hard each time, I’d know that people didn’t really want to read my column.

Wow, did you guys prove me wrong.

I’ve never received so many questions in a single week, and I actually have enough now for at least five or six articles. Thank you all! This means that you might not see your questions answered in this article, but I will cover all of them in the next month before I leave for the Pro Tour and a trip to the States.

As for this week, Heroes ended today in a decent enough finale that still left me somewhat disappointed. I guess it was just one of those things where you expect too much, and in the end you can’t avoid disappointment, but the series definitely deserved a little more. I still feel it’s one of the better ones out there. Thanks to the recommendations from the forums, I’ve started watching Battlestar Galactica, and it’s pretty cool too…

Okay, let’s start with this week’s bunch.

Ryan Trepanier with the first question:

1) How important is a player’s mindset when playing a tough matchup? I consider myself a decent player, but I find that in any pretty even matchup, or tough matchup, I ALWAYS feel behind, like my opponent HAS to have a better hand, etc… Does this happen to you? How does it affect your play?

No matter what people say, the psychological part of playing Magic is very important. Just last week, Raphael Levy wrote about how often he wins games just because their opponents play as if he always has the god hand and he always has what he needs. If you are that opponent, that is a horrible place to be.

One of the differences between the “good” or “successful” players is that they don’t let themselves be put in that position. When you are well prepared and know your matchup, you know what you need to do to win, and you know how to get yourself in that position. Feeling intimidated is completely useless, since the worst that can happen is that you lose a game of Magic. Who cares?

You get better at it through the years, and I had this happen to me when I just started out playing tournaments. Bas Postema, who basically was the best player around when I started, who taught me a whole lot and later made it so we could develop our games together, was always the opponent I feared most. He was better than me, and always beat me, mostly because of that fear… until one day I beat him in the finals of a PTQ, and that was a huge step for me, as it made me feel more confident.

Now if only I could have had that same confidence when I was playing Jon Finkel

2) Other than the Pacts, which Future Sight card is going to have the
biggest effect on Standard? Block? Extended?

That is really hard to say, as it is still very early, but there are some cards that jump out as being very powerful. Other writers have written about this, but think of cards like Korlash for Block and Standard, the new Ichorid Vintage deck that is heavily influenced by Time Spiral cards, as written about by Stephen Menendian on this very site. And, of course, there’s the new range of dual lands for Block Constructed!

Future Sight is awesome for Constructed, and a lot of cards will have a huge impact on the game, but which one is going to have the most? That’s impossible to say right now.

3) Which gravy train pro is most like Hugh Laurie’s character, House?

He’s almost stopped playing right now, but the person that most resembles Doctor House has to be Josh Ravitz. He is grumpy, he never really says kind things about people, and he always finds new ways to be rude. He is also pretty smart, and deep down he’s a good guy… Now all he wishes for is a Doctor Cameron to call his own…

Next up is a question by Jack Christopher:

I took your advice and played a MBC deck for 2004 States, here in ND, when Ravager Affinity ruled the roost. Needless to say, your advice paid off and I became the 2004 ND State Champion (thanks again, btw).

My question is this: Is there a viable MBC deck in Standard right now, or is it a lost cause?

A couple of articles ago I tackled the same question. I responded that it might very well be viable, and gave out a starter’s decklist. This turned out to be not so good, as the deck – or decks like it – never really got off the ground.

Now we get a whole bunch of great new toys for Mono Black, headlined by an awesome finisher / accelerator in Korlash, so once again people start thinking about the possibilities. I still feel that, despite Extirpate, Damnation, and Korlash, Mono Black still won’t happen. The reason is fairy simple… It’s simply not worth it.

Right now we have a format where dual lands were never this good… It is possible for almost every color combination to have perfect mana, thanks to a full set of pain and shock lands, Signets, and Lens. Even three or four colors is more the standard than the exception these days. On top of that there really is nothing to warrant playing mono-color decks. There are no Corrupts, no Mind Sludges, and Damnation is a lot easier to splash than Mutilate… and let’s not even talk about the lack of a viable Nantuko Shade

So why would you play Mono Black when you can just as easily use every good card Black has in a Blue/Black deck, with Urborg even helping the latest excuse for Mono Black removal, Tendrils of Corruption?

It’s not a lost cause, it’s just not worth it as there is so much more you can do than play mono these days.

Alex Pagnani hits us with the next bunch:

First off, thanks for the great column week in and week out. I know you’re low on questions, so here are three of ’em. Rain down your knowledge, O Wise One!

1) What do you think of the hot new “Narcolepsy” U/B dredge combo? It’s hard to argue with reliable turn 3 wins… but it’s so fragile and rolls over to multiple answers. Thoughts?

To be honest, I had to look up what you were talking about in the StarCityGames.com deck database, and couldn’t find anything there either. This is the disadvantage of playing mostly on Magic Online, and with Future Sight not released there I have no clue what you are talking about. I assume the deck contains the usual suspects, and uses the new cards Bridge from Below and Narcomoeba in combination with Dread Return.

This deck looks like it is definitely one of the new contenders, as answers can be stopped and not been drawn…. And old style dredge was already gaining some popularity without Future Sight. The question is if it s better then the other top combo deck, Dragonstorm… which kills one turn later, but really isn’t vulnerable at all thanks to Gigadrowse. Without more information… I am sorry, but I can’t help you.

I do feel that it cannot really be that efficient, and in that case a consistent turn 3 kill seems a bit (very) optimistic, especially if they kill your Magus of the Bazaar. Still, send me more info and I’ll give my thoughts.

2) Wizards has announced that Lorwyn block will include a new card type, and rumors are swirling that it will be of the “Planeswalker” variety. Heard any insider information you can share with us on this? Even if not, have any wild speculations you’d like to make on it?

Well, we have a great clue in Future Sight as to what the new card type is, and it is the reminder text on Tarmogoyf. This says: The card types are artifact, creature, enchantment, instant, land, planeswalker, sorcery, and tribal.

Since we already know a bunch of those, the new ones are Tribal and Planeswalker, which should be coming up. I have not heard anything about this, as I don’t hear more than you do in any case, but it seems like they have something exciting in store for us!

As to what they will do… well, that is impossible to tell. If I were to speculate, I would think Planeswalker was something like a legend that you could only run in your deck as a singleton, or something like an enchant world. I would definitely think it is a creature though… as past versions of them, like Teferi, are Planeswalkers too.

3) In regards to your “Top TV Shows” list… I’m dumbfounded that you can honestly call yourself a nerd, read comic books, and play Magic… but didn’t include the new version of Battlestar Galactica on that list somewhere. Somewhere, a Cylon is crying.

Haha, you must be confusing Nerd with Trekkie, as I’m not really into Science Fiction. This is why I passed it by at first, because there are so many TV shows to watch, and being in Holland there really is no way for me to see them all. Fortunately I got the tip from the forum members, and am just done with season one. I think the show is fine, especially since the Sci-Fi part isn’t that important, but it hasn’t really captured me yet thanks to some annoying plot-holes and characters, like Rosslin and Baltar. We’ll see where it takes me, and I’ll be sure to let y’all know what I think about it.

And if Cylons are crying, isn’t that a good thing? They are evil, after all…

Matt Mendoza has a bunch of things he wants to know:

I was reading this week’s column, actually it’s the first time I’ve ever read it (being out of the loop for a while) and I had lots of topics / questions to throw your way.

Shame on you for not reading me more often!

I saw that you mentioned school. What are you studying and how does that (or school in general) affect your “international social life” as a Magic player, or as a Magic player in general? Or as a person in general?

I am studying Business and IT, mostly because I started that six years ago, and only have one more year to go to finish. It ain’t all that great, but it’s something, and it is very important to have a degree – any degree – so I am sticking with it. I basically quit school for two years, because to me it really was impossible to focus on both Magic and my education at the same time, and at that point I was doing so well with Magic that I decided to go for that.

Being in school basically means that I can’t really live as a Magic player any more. It makes it impossible to go to GPs if I really want to be serious about it, and a lot of PTs tend to be during periods where there are exams. Luckily, San Diego is during the summer, but I skipped playing PTQs for Yokohama since I couldn’t go there anyway. School does leave me plenty of time to play lots of Magic in general, on Magic Online, but it doesn’t allow me to do it professionally.

Having skipped those two years has made me a lot more serious about school right now, as I really want to get that degree so I can start living my life again, as I want it… Before I just was there, and did stuff if I had to, but Magic came first. Not so much anymore.

Which decks do you feel benefit most strongly from Street Wraith? I was thinking something along the lines of combo and B/G dredge as a way to instantly dredge back Darkblast in response to your opponent playing Jailer. Or as a way to instantly dredge in response to some graveyard effect.

For dredge decks, being able to draw cards is just perfect, as the more draws you have the more cards you can dredge, so obviously this is the best deck by far to play it in. The Darkblast trick is just gravy, as it is just unreal with the general tactic of the deck anyway.

I don’t think the Wraith is good enough for regular combo decks though, as sure, it comes in handy to thin your deck and make it “56 cards,” but the two life means you will sometimes get a turn less as well, which is not what you want. For instance, I don’t think it will be good in Dragonstorm, as that deck really doesn’t want the to pull the “two life for a card” trade. I feel the card is mostly for decks that can actually abuse the “draw a card” thing…

I am an amateur (PTQ/Regionals level) player, but I am really interested in trying to get into the international scene because of my desire to document this game with film. Being a pro personality, what advice would you give someone who wants to rub elbows with such folk as Nuijten, Paskins, yourself, the Dutchies, etc.?

If you want to document the PT life on film, all you really need to do is ask. Most of us are media whores, and love all the attention we get for being good at something. We are also awesome guys, so if we can help you with anything, we really aren’t to hard to approach.

Of course this doesn’t mean we’ll test with anyone, or always have the time, but it does mean that if something interesting comes up like this, I am sure all the pros will help you.

How do you balance international travel / playtesting / tournaments with the rest of your life? What is affected? What isn’t? Do you have any tips for jugglers?

Like I said earlier, it really can’t be juggled very well. You can’t really both have a regular life with school or work and play Magic at a pro level. A couple of years ago school suffered, and this year Magic itself will suffer simply because I want to get that degree. My main tip would be to simply commit to one or the other, and not try and do either half-ass, because that just doesn’t work.

I am also a very social person, with a large group of friends who all need a lot of attention. That means that this takes up a lot of time as well, and there is no way that doesn’t suffer. Don’t even get me started on females…

With the addition of Pact of Negation on the horizon, do you think that Dragonstorm will be nigh unstoppable?

Nope, and to be honest I am not even sure that card is al that good in Dragonstorm to begin with. The way Dragonstorm works is that it needs to stall the game prior to going off, and, with Gigadrowse, once it goes off it really is uncounterable or stoppable. This means that the card just isn’t as useful, as the combo is very hard to stop anyway, and Pact really isn’t very good at stalling the game… something Remand and Delay actually shine at. I think those cards are just far better. I do feel that the Pact will be unreal in other formats though… and in other decks… just not in Dragonstorm.

I noticed in editing Raph’s RDW list you forgot to mention Magus of the Moon. Why?

Raph’s deck was a deck for Block Constructed. In Block there really aren’t a lot of non-basic lands that you want to turn off, as the most important dual is Terramorphic Expanse. This means that for Block Constructed, Blood Moon just isn’t all that good, and will just be a three-mana 2/2 most of the time… not good enough.

And that is it for this week! Don’t let the huge amount of questions I have right now stop you from writing, as I will need more soon enough. Also, if you want to know something, be sure to mail me at [email protected], and I’ll get back to you ASAP.