First, some quotes too funny not to include.
“Sao Paulo — A city that feels like LA threw up on New York.”
“It’s not that I haven’t had good vegetarian dishes, it’s just that I haven’t met one yet that couldn’t have been improved with the addition of animal product, particularly, fat.”
“Four inches of hot love, baby.”
Who said them? Answers at the bottom.
There are a lot of fat people in America, and I’m becoming one of them.
Wendy and I have returned to the States for six weeks. Most of Spain goes on vacation throughout the entire month of August. With everyone on vacation, Wendy can’t really work. And I can work from anywhere, so we headed Stateside to see family and friends.
It’s been a fascinating four weeks so far. I’ve put on eight pounds.
Driving my RAV4 again is fun. I haven’t driven for a while. And when I stop to get gas, there’s a hot dog at every convenience store; and a soda; and maybe some pizza. And some chips.
In Madrid, I walk everywhere and when I return home the walk ends with a five flight walk up. In Vermont I go places by sitting on my ass and pressing a little peddle. And every time I stop, I eat. And then I get together for family and friend gatherings, and I shove hot dogs, burgers, beer, and birthday cake down my throat.
Hence the expanding waistline.
But the gatherings are fun and necessary. We have a lot of necessary things to do while we are home. Lobsterfest, of course. Introduce our Spanish and French friends to my college friends. See a Tango demonstration at the college. Buy supplies we can’t get in Spain and ship them over there.
And return to Heroes Kingdom.
Last night was Salsa dancing with The Beautiful Wendy, Debbie Doozer, her new beau, Heidi, and her husband Frank. A good time was had by all. The morning was coffee, shower, unload the Element, and hit the road. For some reason, I decide to wear my Pro Tour: Chicago shirt. It was sort of green, and all my Superman shirts were dirty.
I listen to “Crime Files,” a reporter’s experiences covering serial killers and rapists, most of the way to St Albans. The day is beautiful and clear. You can see the stunning Vermont countryside for miles in all directions. Around one bend in the road…
As I’m typing this, Alan comes over — “Did you describe the drive up here yet? In agonizing, excruciating detail?”
After I get done laughing, I tell him “I should just hand you, like, 2000 dollars.”
I walk in five minutes before the tournament is supposed to start. Hilary and Michelle told me they would have a deck for me, and Hilary finds two.
“I’ll let Michelle pick which one she wants, and you can have the other.”
“He can have the Pink Deck,” Michelle hollers across the packed store.
(“That says ‘deck,’ right?” Alan says, as he reads over my shoulder.)
The deck I’m playing today is one Michelle played last week. After she got smashed, Alan offered to help her with the deck. As they were pouring over the cards, Alan says:
“What do you want to accomplish with this deck?”
“Um… I want to win?”
“Right, but what is the goal. Do you want to smash face, or control the board, or what?”
“Um… I don’t care. I want to win.”
Not that Michelle couldn’t build the deck, but she’s about the same place I am with Magic right now. It’s interesting and fun, but not something we’re analyzing day in and day out like the old days. We don’t know the popular decks, so with no idea what to face, it’s better to just turn it over to a professional.
The deck is a mixture of beatdown and, well, late-game beatdown. It’s like a hodgepodge leftover mix of good Green and White cards. It has three Groundbreakers and Timbermares, one Saffi, two Troll Ascetics, one Stonecloaker, four Loxodon Hierarch, one Stonewood Invocation, four Call of the Herd, two Scryb Ranger, some elves, some birds and a lone Serra Angel.
Serra Angel and Timbermare, together at last.
What it doesn’t have is Faith’s Fetters, Wrath of God, Condemn, or anything resembling creature elimination or disruption. It kinda looks like a Wakefield deck.
My first round opponent was George with Zoo.
First game was lost due to my poor card drawing skills. I’m holding and drawing a plethora of Groundbreaker, Timbermare, and Harmonize, and a distinct lack of Loxodon Hierarchs and Troll Ascetics. Groundbreakers and Timbermares are not that hot against Zoo.
I side out the Groundbreakers, and add in two more Saffi and an Avoid Fate.
Game 2 is won by an excellent selection of cards. Like a third turn Elephant Cleric that gave me four life, drew out crucial burn, and then a fourth turn Serra Angel. As I played it, a feeling of dÃ©jÃ vu and remembrance hit me. She used to rule the skies, and even in today’s power-creeped environment she is still excellent. Especially against Zoo. I played the Serra, and looked at the Avoid Fate and the Saffi in my hand and knew that she was going all the way. And she did, with me finishing at 18 life
Game 3 was also won by an excellent selection of cards. Sadly, the excellent selection was on his side of the table and not mine. I started with three Forests, some Elves, a Spectral Force and a Saffi. I think I’ll be alright if I can draw a Plains. Soon I’m ripping Forests like a pro, and I play out two Spectral Forces, a Troll Ascetic, and am holding Stonewood Invocation. Lethal next turn.
George, on the other hand, has drawn two land, two Tarmogoyfs, Mogg Fanatic, and enough burn to melt steel. Which he points at my head.
I’m holding a healing ‘phant, and I can’t find a Plains to save my life. Literally.
“Incinerate you at the end of your turn.”
“Then I’m at three.”
“Untap. Incinerate you.”
“Then I would be at zero.”
“You know what irritates me? People who refuse to call it Mogg Fantastic.”
We go get coffee and wait for the round to start.
Round 2, Matt Woods.
I love playing Matt. He’s a great guy, great sense of humor, good sport. Since he has a girlfriend with him, and they’re all comfortable, I holler over that I’ll move to them. Alan and I watched his last round and he’s playing Blink Riders + Lightning Angel + Wrath + Numot. As I walk over, Alan tells me I have zero chance with my deck, and I tell him that I know.
“Magic being good to you?”
“I swear to god, I play anyone playing Islands I’m coming across the table.”
He cringes, and I laugh.
His first turn play is an Adarkar Wastes.
I cock my head to the side.
“It’s not an Island!”
I play a Forest and an Elf. He plays a Shivan Reef.
“I will play another ‘not an Island’,” he calmly states.
He starts doing the usual things you would expect. Compulsive Research at the end of my turn, and when I try to Harmonize, he Remands it.
“Tricksy tricksy. Damn Blue mages always countering my stuff and drawing cards.”
“You’re drawing cards.”
I look at the Harmonize in my hand. “No I’m not… you Remanded it.”
“You draw a card every turn!”
Laughter all around. Then he Wraths. I play a Scryb Ranger. He plays a Numot the Devastator. Go go Pro Blue.
The game progresses a bit, and then I decide to play a Stonecloaker and remove, “I don’t know, let’s say the Wrath of God.”
Alan picks a Momentary Blink out of the graveyard. “Maybe you should remove the flashback card instead, Jamie.”
He’s right, but I made my choice and it’s too late to go back and change it.
A few turns later I play Stonewood Invocation on my Scryb Ranger when it blocks Numot the Devastator. He flashes back Momentary Blink, and I slap my forehead. D’oh!
He eventually draws a Lightning Helix to dispose of the Scryb, and as legendary dragons are wont to do, starts to ravage my life and lands.
And then it’s time for sideboarding.
Matt has a girl with him. I ask her if she is playing yet. She laughs and says no, but her eyes say yes. Whoops, guess I’m reading too many romance novels. I turn on my computer to take notes since we’re just so hilarious. Can’t lose this comedy gold.
“You’re so tricksy I need to consult the brain trust known as the Internet to find out how to beat you,” I tell him.
I look at Matt’s girlfriend and an idea comes to me. “I should have Wendy come with me next time and just take notes. Honey, write that down, it was funny.”
Alan pretending to be Wendy — “That wasn’t that funny.”
Me — “Yes it was honey, just write it down.”
Alan — “But it wasn’t.”
Me — “Trust me dear, Magic geeks like me will find it hilarious.”
Ah, what a glorious day. I love the feel of the cards. The joking with my friends. The snapping of the cards. The shuffling.
“This is way better than Magic Online,” I boldly declare.
I side out the Groundbreakers and add in some Scragnoths. Man, this sideboard is awful. I ignore the Seal of Primordiums since I didn’t see any Signets.
Okay, quick quiz – Who knows what’s coming next?
Yeah… play more Magic, Wakefield.
I get a nice start with Elf, Call, flashback Call. He plays Lightning Angel, I attack with everything, reducing him to five, and then he plays…
He mock flinches as he plays it.
Have I told you how much I hate Matt Wood? I have never liked that guy. Not ever. I think he cheats, too.
I think about the deck and the options I now have to win this game. Okay, at this point his only danger is my one Serra angel, my one Stonecloaker and my Scryb rangers. I don’t think that’s going to be too much problem for him. None of those are on the board or in my hand. And he has a Lightning Angel out. And a full grip.
Resolute, I firmly declare “Okay.”
I draw my card. It is a Forest. I think for a minute.
I extend the hand.
Round 3 — Ronald Locke.
My next opponent is a young kid in his late teens wearing a shirt that says, “You don’t know it, but I’M RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU.”
“How long have you been playing Magic?” I ask him.
He thinks for a minute. “Pretty much since the beginning. How about you?”
“Since Fallen Empires. Right at the end of The Dark.”
Michelle is sitting two seats away. “That was a great set, we should buy a box!”
I laugh, since that’s what she and Hilary did, and it was one of the worst sets of all time.
“I thought you started earlier than that?”
“No, you guys started earlier than that. You got me into it, remember?”
(Shameless plug – All detailed in my book “Quest for the Pro Tour,” formerly known as “Tournament Reports” and now available for sale at JamieWakefield.com.)
Ronald has a mix of discard, Dauthi Slayers, Megrim, Cruel Edict, Hypnotic Specters, and Racks. A nice deck, but a little unfocused. As we start to play, Matt points at me and asks:
“Which pro tour is that shirt from?
Then conversation degenerates into what I do, Timbermare, Michelle scaring Richard Garfield so badly that there’s no more open bar the night before a PT, and how they have one of my books for sale for ninety dollars in the front if he wants to read about it. I fill him in that it’s available for four or ten bucks on my website.
Michelle chimes in again — “You should buy it, it’s a great book. It’s all about me. I’m the Serra girl.”
I laugh. “Hilary will tell you it’s all about him. Hey, did I tell you your one Serra Angel won me a game all by itself?”
Her opponent says, “I hate those things. Very tough to get rid of.”
“You be quiet!” Michelle says with a smile.
“I’m the one he beat with the Serra.”
“Excellent, then you may speak of that beating all day long” she says with a grand flourish. “Hey, did you know it’s my birthday?”
“Then your opponents should just concede to you.”
“Exactly. It’s your birthday? I concede, and here’s a Serra Angel for you.”
I get a phenomenal draw in both games. Draws like Forest, Elf, Groundbreaker, Groundbreaker, Timbermare. Or Forest, Elf, Call, Call, Groundbreaker, Elephant.
“How did you lose?” he asks me.
“It doesn’t always draw like that.”
Time for some lunch. I go get a Subway sandwich.
“Do you guys have Cajun chicken or steak?”
“No. We have Chipolte sauce though.”
“Let’s go for the steak on whole wheat please.”
He looks at my shirt — “Play Magic, huh? I used to play. Where did you qualify?”
“I made a deck once with all five Circles of Protection. It was so much fun. Sucked too, though.”
He charges me for a veggie sandwich instead of the meat I got. Ah, it’s good to be a celebrity. I could get used to this.
Round 4. Somehow I have forgotten to record my opponent’s name.
He’s playing Gruul with Keldon Marauders, Incinerate, Scab-Clan Mauler, Seal of Fire, Tarmogoyf, and the oddly effective Spark Elemental, which is the same as “Bolt you for three, make my Tarmogoyf one bigger at the end of turn.”
Game 1 he gets me down to five but I get him down to ten, and then Timbermare, Stonewood Invocation in one turn for the win.
Game 2 is a repeat of my first round against Zoo. He plays two lands and empties his hand at my head. I keep a three-Forest hand and never draw a Plains, while holding an elephant.
Game 3 is turn 2 Saffi, turn 3 Call of the Herd, then 3 healing ‘phants in a row.
I finish the day at 2-2, which isn’t bad. Seeing everyone was fun, and playing physical Magical cards while joking around with everyone was an utter blast. I have some cake, pick up some World War Hulk, and head home.
On the way home I think about how decks with Creeping Mold are great (grr Teferi’s Moat), and how much I love Overrun.
Here’s what I’m playing on MTGO right now.
- 2 Pendelhaven
- 22 Forest
The quotes at the top were from Anthony Bourdain on his show “No Reservations” on the Travel Channel. Unlike few other TV hosts, the guy smokes, drinks whiskey, swears, and make off color jokes through the whole show. Check it out. It’s very amusing. Oh yeah, and the four inches of hot love he was referring to was the sandwich he was holding.
Good luck and have fun.