Deep Analysis – Pro Tour: Mars City Report – *1st*

Read Richard Feldman every Thursday... at StarCityGames.com!
Thursday, May 22nd – Richard Feldman is on a mission. What mission, you ask? Break Standard the day before the Pro Tour? Build a mechanical suit that can fly? Parody as many Star City writers as possible in one article? He only had time to complete one of these missions…read on to find out which one.

It doesn’t matter if it is good
It only matters if it ROCKS.
The main thing that we do
Is to rock your socks off

“Rock Your Socks,” Tenacious D

I’ve just won Pro Tour: Mars City. I mean, no, it hasn’t happened yet, but honestly, when it does, I’m a lock for it. I will have played Next Level KFC, which will play that 9/9 for one Green mana with Deathtouch and Cycling 1 and Cantrip, and then the rest of the deck will be basically all Blue cards.

What does it feel like to have won a Pro Tour? It feels like the sublime caress of a thousand celestial nymphs, heavenly beings wrought not of the stony flesh that grips to the lifeless bones of wretched mortals such as we, but of the pulsing, radiant essence of the divine—an ephemeral convergence of love, joy, and immeasurable satisfaction which envelops even the most base of onlookers in rapturous epiphany. You know, basically the nut high.

Here is a picture of me hoisting the American Flag for no actual reason trophy.

Down And Ginger

I’m pretty sure if we had run this tournament over 20 times, I would have won it 16 times. No, wait, 18 times. Well, maybe only 3 times. No, I take that back, probably 15 times. Or like 14 times, but then Zac Hill would have won it the other times. Actually, to be honest, it’s more like 37.962 times. Out of 20, I mean.

Believe it or not, my favorite memory from the Pro Tour was not winning it. No foolies. It was actually the ride over to the Convention Center on Day 2. So I’m sitting there and there’s this really attractive brunette next to me who looks really familiar. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen her in a movie, in fact. She has on these really big sunglasses, and I’m not sure if she’s really a famous actress or if my vision is still just really blurry from last night’s “Top of the Standings” celebrations. (Let’s just say it’s a good thing I won the PT, because otherwise I was not going to be able to pay that tab off.) After awkwardly eyeballing her for around eight minutes I finally decided to start up a conversation.

“Hey, how’s it going?”
She actually smiles and says “Not bad.”
“I want to make a bet with you.” This is my favorite pickup line. “Ten bucks says I can guess your last name in three tries.”
A laugh. “Okay, let’s see it.”
“Awkward. McAdams?”
“Still no.”
“Loose. Alba?”
“She’s not even a brunette in that picture!”
“Okay, fine. I give up. What’s your name?”
“Angelina Pitt. I’m married now, remember?”
I jump out of my seat. “Man! I forgot this was the future. What a blowout.”
“Where’s my ten bucks?”
“Noooooooooooot paying.”
“Pony up, red. Seriously, I’ll kick your ass.”
“Can I pay you in salsa lessons?”

Luckily, the next stop was the convention center, so I booked it out of there before she could Kung Fu me or something. (Not sure if she does her own stunts, but also not chancing it.) Anyway, running the No Pays on Angelina Jolie was definitely the highlight of the PT for me.

The other day I was having dinner with Stephen Hawking* at Roscoe’s House of Chicken ‘n’ Waffles. By the way, if you are attending PT: Roscoe’s House of Chicken ‘n’ Waffles this weekend, I strongly suggest that you Roscoe’s House of Chicken ‘n’ Waffles while you are there. If you have never had the chance to Roscoe’s House of Chicken ‘n’ Waffles before, you are in for a treat. They serve you fried chicken, and waffles, and the combination is as delicious as it is surprising. Fact: 100% of people (male and female) who have told me the combination sounds anywhere from “weird” to “gross,” and who have subsequently visited Roscoe’s House of Chicken ‘n’ Waffles and tried it, have thoroughly enjoyed it. I recommend the #13: “Carol C. Special — One succulent breast, one delicious waffle.” (Yes, that was from memory.)

Stevie Trash Talker and I are at Roscoe’s House of Chicken ‘n’ Waffles, and we are discussing the second-best source of free content on Star City Games: Patrick Chapin forum posts. Specifically, we are speaking of this line:

“…the Faerie mirror match is actually the stone stupidest, and while it is true that skill plays a very minor role (VERY), I have no pity for people who sell out to the Fae and then die by the very hand that feeds them. Anyone good enough to think they can outplay people in Magic should know better than to Faerie (Unless they honestly feel coin flips are their best play).”

This is the most important Magic-related forum post you will ever read. It is the Holy Grail of all Magic Forum Posts, and all other forum posts are kold to it. Honestly, I don’t even see why you would read other forum posts**.

(Seriously, though, pay attention, because this is one of the few parts of the article that is actually for real.***)

(Gotcha! Did you actually think this article was going to have any actual strategic content? Even though it’s labeled “Strategy”…?)

(No, seriously, this part is actually for real. Literally.)

Do you see why this observation is so brilliant? If you play the best deck, you will have a 50% matchup against the best deck—even if you are an absolute master. So where is the value in playing the best deck, as opposed to a deck that literally actually beats the best deck?

Historically, you could play the best deck and have the best overall win percentage against everything but the mirror, and you could test the hell out of the mirror so that if you played it, you had some combination of technology and matchup insight that would put you ahead of the average pilot. If you can’t do that, though, as seems to be the case with Faeries, then you have a good matchup against most of the field, but only a 50-50 against the most popular deck. If that’s the case, couldn’t you do better by playing something that is better than 50-50 against most popular deck, but which is worse overall against the rest of the field? Naturally it depends on how much worse you expect to do against the rest of the field, and which decks (and how popular those decks are [and what the skill is of the people who play those decks ( and whether or not they have tested against your deck [and how likely they are to be sober on Day Two])]) people play, but. I have to say it’s a bulletproof argument for playing something that is not the best.

Take the NecroGargles versus CMU Blue Man Group Five Niner Ace Foghorn Dizzy Gillespie Refrigerator Platypus matchup from Grand Prix: Kalamazoo in 1486. Necro dominated everything, because it played, well, you know, Necropotence, but the mirror match was basically, well, you know, Who Got Necropotence First. Total coin flippage. CMU’s alternative had not-quite-so-good matchups against the rest of the field, and suffered a particular frailty to staple Red offerings such as Bon Jovi Deck Wins, but ultimately Andrew Carnegie emerged victorious at that tournament by stepping all over the Necro decks while taking only a few token losses to the Red decks.

This reminds me of a conversation I had with my friend Jak on AIM recently:

Jak (9:44:37 PM): I got an 87 on that test
Jak (9:44:47 PM): This is my complete knowledge of art history
Jak (9:44:52 PM): Here goes…
Jak (9:46:05 PM): “Once upon a time there was the medieval times. That kicked ass. Then there was a renaissance and they put down all the swords and axes and catapults and fun stuff and everybody got really into old greek art. Four guys named after the ninja turtles sculpted and painted a bunch of naked people.”
Jak (9:46:16 PM): That’s art history.

Do you see what I mean? Basically, it comes down to coin flips if you run Faeries, but playing something else that is better than coin flips against Faeries (and, you know, still the favorite against some non-Faeries.decs) means you could actually rock the tournament despite playing a deck that is “not as good” as the “best” deck.

Like the D said: “It doesn’t matter if it is good, it only matters if it ROCKS.”

Now, how do you beat Faeries? Everyone’s got a theory. Me? I like Riftsweeper and sideways eight flyer-killers. Hurricane, Firespout, you name it – just keep ‘em coming. Fill that board up if you have to, just cram as many one-sided Wraths in there as you can fit. Why Riftsweeper, I hear you scream? Because he just wins games sometimes. You know games, right? Riftsweeper wins them. That’s right, He Wins Games. After all, isn’t that the best reason to play a card? Winning games? Well, Riftsweeper Wins Games, so I’d play him if I were you. Do you need another reason? I didn’t think so. He Wins Games. That’s all you need to know.

By the way, the other day someone was telling me about a piece of literature which critics have called “turgid,” “obscene,” and “makes me want to /wrist.” As I have always aspired to instill these feelings in my readers, I have copied it out by hand below.

When I get that feeling, I need Textual Healing

If you recognized this as the 2008 Instructions for Form 1099-MISC, Box 5: Fishing Boat Proceeds, by our very own United States Internal Revenue Service, then you win the prize – a cash payout of fifty thousand dollars!****

In conclusion, I would like to restate my original thesis that these are my current top five favorite albums (limited to one per artist, otherwise Cake obv dominates DI etc.):

1. Don’t Mess With The Dragon, by Ozomatli
2. The Eminem Show, by Eminem
3. S&M, by Metallica
4. Let’s Face It, by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
5. Comfort Eagle, by Cake

Actually I ordered my top eight albums, but Top Five lists are what all the cool kids are doing, so if you want to see the rest of the eight, skate on over to my shameless plug full Top Eight Albums list.


… Tapping the cards so you don’t have to.

* Fact: Besides being a world-renowned trash-talker, Stephen Hawking has the biggest brain in the universe.
** Well, except for mine, obv.
*** What, you don’t believe me?
**** Actually, there will be no payout. I just stone lied out the DI.