Kind thanks to all the folks who said”Hey, why haven?t you been writing on Star City?” Unfortunately, the holidays, Lisa going to Turkey, and work (not to mention two GPs and a Pro Tour) have conspired to eat up a good deal of my time. The number of”Ask the Judge” questions has steadied to a manageable amount ? just in time for a new set to come out. I suppose that won?t last long.
I spent eleven days on the road between Grand Prix Houston and Pro Tour San Diego, and I had a grand time. In between I stopped in and visited my mom in Dallas, so it was a southwestern adventure. I ate more Mexican and Tex/Mex than I should have (but Baja Fresh is completely broken ? if you?re in San Diego, give it a whirl).
I was honored with being the Head Judge at Grand Prix Houston, and happy to know that my old friends Tim and Sheila Weissman were the Tournament Organizers. Tim and Sheila are great TOs. If you can play in any Event Horizons event, do so. They have a great staff of people helping them all the time.
(Sheila”Too Good to Be True” Weissman)
You can hop over to the DCI Judge page to read my report ? here at Star City, I?ll tell you about the fun stuff. My best memory of the event is the bed at the (rather swanky) hotel, the Westin Galleria. As I was approaching the site, I asked the cabbie if we were downtown. He said”Oh, no sir. This is up-town.”
Anyway, the bed was amazing. It was from a company called Dream-something or other. They had little placards next to the bed that said,”Better leave a second wake-up call.” From the body pillows to the silky soft sheets, it was an experience. I don?t smoke, but after I got into bed, I felt like I needed a cigarette.*
One of the things that Event Horizons runs is the Event Horizon Invitational, gathering the best players in and around Texas for a tournament full of great prizes. Saturday night of the GP (after the Swiss rounds were done), they held a qualifier for it. Since it?s an unsanctioned event, Scott Larabee decided he wanted to play. He borrowed a Standard deck from Montreal TO Mauro Bongiovani. Since my pal Scott was playing, I decided to play. I asked Alex Shvartsman to find a deck for me. He eventually produced a deck that”had kicked butt in Friday Night Magic.” It was a R/U/W Trench/Control deck that I took the opportunity to modify (taking out Opportunity for Prophetic Bolt). I went undefeated in the Swiss rounds. Scott didn?t fare so well. Obviously, he had an inferior deck. Unfortunately, the Top 8 drafted at 5 p.m. Sunday. I was still occupied with Day 2 of the GP, so I gave up my seat. Tim was still kind enough to give me my prizes anyway. Good guy, that Tim.
Side note: So that I could sound like a pro while I was playing, I just kept repeating”mise, mise, savage mise.” I?m pretty sure I had everyone convinced. Fellow judge and Event Horizon competitor David Hibbs picked up the chant and composed a haiku. I?ll spare you the details.
At GPs, Scott traditionally takes out the TO and the Head Judge on Sunday night. This time we went to a real Texas steak house. Unfortunately, we just barely got there before they closed, and they rushed us through the meal. The steak was mediocre, but at least the company was great. Good guy, that Tim (and Sheila would be a good guy if she was a guy; fortunately for everyone concerned, she?s not a guy).
After the aforementioned stop in Dallas (and another viewing of Lord of the Rings), it was on to San Diego and the Pro Tour. Thursday night I hung around a bit with my new pal Runi from Card Sharks, and eventually went to bed at a decent hour.
After the event Friday, I had the pleasure of playing a quick game of”Werewolf” with Dr. Richard Garfield. That?s not the RPG, it?s a little political game the Wizards folks play in the office. We had 9 players, with Dr. Garfield moderating. Two were the werewolves, the rest were townsfolk; one of the townsfolk was the seer. Each night, the werewolves agree to eat someone; each day, the townsfolk (which include the disguised werewolves) vote to lynch someone. The ace in the hole for the townsfolk is that the seer gets to ask the moderator each night whether or not a single player is a werewolf. The game continues until either the werewolves get lynched or all the townsfolk get eaten. I?ll let you figure out the strategies. It was a great game, with the prodigal Collin Jackson and I being the werewolves. Unfortunately, the townsfolk figured out who we were (mostly because Dr. Garfield bent the rules a little and let the dead speak).
Saturday night, I drafted with Phoenix TO Ray Powers and his crew, 3/3. I was teamed with Ray and Star City?s own Jon Chabot against three of Ray?s staffers?and we wrecked house. I went undefeated with a little black/green number featuring three Wild Mongrels, three Cartographers, and two Twigwalkers.**
(Gratuitous picture of the Donais brothers: That?s Mike, Jeff, and long-lost brother Julio)
Sunday, I was again paired with Dr. Garfield, only this time to judge the showdown between him and Jon Finkel. The Sideboard has all the coverage. Sunday evening, I went and had great Chinese food at the Panda Inn, courtesy of Jeff Donais? recurring judge dinner. James Lee did the honors by ordering food for all of us in Chinese and teaching us how to say”thank you” in both Mandarin and Cantonese. Shrimp in Lobster Sauce is a savage, savage mise.***
(B Tucker, Rune Horvik, Akio Sugaya and Judge-wannabe Randy Buehler)
After dinner, I headed back to the hotel and hooked up with some of my favorite WotC staffers. We went to the Star Bar, allegedly one of the top 10 dives in America (but at least it was open). It fit the billing. I was careful to completely sanitize myself when I got back to the hotel.
With that, my long, long trip was over. Monday, I flew back to Anchorage and reality.
Thanks to the DCI for having the faith in me to HJ a GP. Thanks to Josh X Bennett for being a fine companion in both Houston and San Diego. The One Man Crowd is something else. As always, thanks to my good friend Scott Larabee for being Scott and Jaime West for being Jaime (even though she?s going to lose her bet with PT Player Coordinator Andy Heckt). Finally, huge thanks to Pamela Wilson, who arranged all my travel, completely minimizing my time spent in airports.
This time, there?s no good segue into”and that?s my final judgement.”
See you soon,
* – Kids: Just say NO to tobacco. It?s the product that helped found America, but we?re done with it now. It?s evil.
** – Hey! I didn?t lose a match the whole trip! What the heck am I doing judging?
*** – Just for Rizzo. Savage Fact or Fiction mise. What a savage mise. (Frankly, just the pictures are just for Rizzo – The Ferrett)