I found this waiting in my inbox at my [email protected] address when I awoke on Monday morning:
Dear Mr Bleiweiss:
My suggestion is that you not tease your readers with unfinished stories. Especially not after telling them they would only have to wait another blog to hear the finale.Â
Oh and you have a cute butt.
By popular demand of someone who may or may not be my girlfriend (and who may or may not be speaking to me by the time this sees print, seeing as how I may or may not have said she was or wasn’t my girlfriend), I present part two of the serial and epic adventure entitled I was a Teenage Fallen Empires Box Winner.
The top prize at the early Steve and Keith tournaments was a set of Moxen plus a Lotus – second place grabbed a whopping $50 in”store” credit – the store consisting of an increasingly shrinking stock of cards that Steve put out for sale before each tournament. If only he had ever taken the time to restock his binders, there might have been cards worth winning! Unfortunately this never happened, so second place went from Libraries of Alexandria to Singing Trees rather quickly.
I didn’t do so well the first few tournaments, though many players respected my play skill based on the smaller events I’d won at local stores. I finally had my breakthrough tournament with an Abyss/artifact creature deck. Virtually nobody had been playing artifact removal the week before, and R/G creature decks were the rule of the day. Using Dark Ritual to power out a second turn The Abyss won me virtually every match. The onslaught of Juggernauts, Clockwork Avians, Mishra’s Factories and Su-Chis which followed could come at my whim, since White (and therefore enchantment removal) wasn’t present in any significant amount.
I was also lucky that I avoided Vinny”the Pimp” Falcone. Even at twelve years old, he always found a way to beat me. These tournaments were double elimination, cutting to the top two. I would always breath a sigh of relief when Vinny got knocked into another bracket from myself, because that meant I had a chance of winning. On this particular day, the day I won my first tournament, Vinny took a quick exit. It also marked another first:
The first time Steve and Keith decided that attendance wasn’t good enough to warrant the full prize.
I’d been playing in these tournaments for a few months, and my first win was marred by a reduction of the prize from a set of five Mox and a Lotus to a Mox of my choice. Woop. I won’t lie – it felt great to finally win, because as a nineteen year old who was a big fish in a small pond, I felt like I deserved to win because I was a better player than everyone else (ah, youth!). It did suck royally that Steve essentially shorted me on the prize after the tournament had already begun.
This happened the next month as well, when I won my second in a row. I lost to Vinny in the second round this time around, but he took two quick losses afterwards, and so I was free to run the loser’s bracket. I was matched up against Chris Wong, Vinny’s teammate, in the finals. Chris had copied my deck from the month earlier – remember, he was a good player but he tended to follow the established metagame. I tweaked my Abyss/Artifact deck to be more of a toolbox deck – Swords to Plowshares, Disenchant, Icy Manipulator, Lightning Bolt, Gorilla Shaman, and copious artifact creatures. I figured other people would be running The Abyss, so I would just need to run creatures which were The Abyss proof and not The Abyss itself. I was completely correct, and proceeded to completely humiliate Chris in front of every spectator.
I used to be extremely arrogant, and it showed in this match. I had an answer to every single question Chris played to the board. Mox? I killed it with Gorilla Shaman. The Abyss? I dropped Juggernaut. His Jade Statue? My Icy Manipulator. His Su-Chi? My Disenchant. After beating him the first game, I got downright cocky in game two.
“Arrrr!” I said, doing a really bad pirate imitation.”I see ye have two moxen on the board, ye scurvy bastard! I be playing this Gorilla Shaman now and I’ll be tapping two mana. Which of yer Mox do you want to send to the watery grave first?”
The crowd went wild. Chris was not amused.
“Will you knock it off? That’s really annoying.”
“Arrrrr! This be how I talk every day, matey! I know not what you talk of. Tap yer Swamp with my Icy.”
Chris tapped a Swamp.
“No! I mean yer other Swamp. Arrrrr!”
Yeah, I was a dick. But everyone was eating it up and laughing and having a good time and it was all in good fun. Chris and Vinny were our rivals, and if I was going to beat their team, I was going to have a little fun while doing it.
This led to my second win in a row at Steve and Keith’s now”Mox only as winnings” tournament. The next month would bring even more changes to the event, and would signal the end of an era for Magic as a whole. Tune in tomorrow to see the final installment of I was a Teenage Fallen Empires Box Winner and to find out about my next performance, the taste of victory over Chris Wong, and the humiliation at being banned from playing in Steve and Keith’s Mox (formerly five Mox and a Lotus) Magic tournament.
Ben can be reached at [email protected].