From Right Field: You Can Not Be Serious!

My favorite part of Magic is still the creativity that it takes to build new decks. But something has happened recently: Winning is becoming more important to me. I don’t know what exactly happened to make me feel this way, but whatever it is, I want to win now. And playing your own decks isn’t the way to do this.

Last week, I sent Mr. The Ferrett an e-mail entitled”The World’s Easiest-to-Edit Tournament Report.” I knew that he was getting a ton of reports, and I’m pretty sure most of them went like this:

“Hi. You don’t know me. But I played U/G Madness at the Upper Southwest North Dakota Regionals. I finished 37th out 98 people. Here’s what happened. Round one against R/G…”

Man oh man oh man. Just what The Ferrett needed. More tales of discarding Wonder to a Wild Mongrel. Ugh. His eyes must have been glazed over. I hope part of the compensation package that he gets from StarCityGames includes aspirin and a bottle of Jack Daniels.

So I decided to give my main mammal a little break and a chuckle. I didn’t intend for it to see publication. But apparently, it tickled him enough to run it… And I’ve gotten enough responses to know that it tickled more than a few folks.

Editors are like record producers; they bring a fresh perspective to things. They see what the writer or performer can’t. Sometimes, they even know what’s good when the creator doesn’t.

MUSIC TRIVIA TIME: John Mellencamp didn’t even want to record the song”Jack and Diane.” He didn’t like it. The producer convinced him to try it anyway. They did a few takes. Mellencamp still didn’t like it. He figured that was okay. Since it wasn’t good, the record company wouldn’t put it on the album. It was the last song that got put on the record. It’s still his biggest hit ever.

Anyway, I’m glad that so many folks liked the piece. Really, I do. I was beginning to think I was out of ideas and couldn’t be funny anymore.

But I have to add this:

You have got to be kidding me! A forum topic on this? To make all of this even more surreal, people are really debating this. Hold on a second; Mr. Serling is paging me.

For the record, I did indeed play all eleven rounds. Ericson hit the nail on the head. I spent about $120 for that weekend (hotel, entry fees, food, hookers, bail). I’m playing all the rounds I can. Now, if I had been, say, 1-4, I probably would have dropped so that I could draft. If you’re 1-4, I don’t care who you are, you aren’t having fun. But I was always right at breaking even. In fact, going into round ten, I was 5-4. I could have ended up at 7-4. But I’m a bad player.

Also, my round ten opponent pulled out the only Worship in his deck when I had him at one life. Is anyone else suspicious about this? Or am I just whining again?

So, now I’m 5-5 heading into round eleven. It’s 12:35 a.m. I could just drop and end at .500… Or I could play and try for the same 6-5 record I had in 2001. I went for it. We had to go to extra rounds in game three; on turn 4 of extra turns, I’m looking at the Might of Oaks in my hand and my opponent’s eight points of life. I can do one of two things. I can sit on this knowing that he can not win on turn 5, assuring me a 5-5-1 record, or I can attack and hope that he leaves one guy unblocked.

I hate draws. I swing. He blocked everyone. And, even though it’s 1:30 in the morning, he blocks intelligently. I lose when he swings on turn five.

So, yes, I went 5-6. I got a full day’s worth of Magic in.

Qwertius thinks I should have put in props and slops.

SLOPS: People who can’t clean up after themselves – I spent a lot of time cleaning up tables. And I didn’t get any tips for it, either!

SLOPS: My glass jar of pennies (for counters, squirrels, etc.) – after more than two years of tournaments, it randomly shattered between rounds in my bag. Luckily, I saw the shards of glass before reaching into my bag, or I would have had to drop so that I could get my hand stitched up.

SLOPS: People who were prepared – I brought a ton of commons and uncommons to trade. People are always begging for commons and uncommons when I go to PTQs and other big tourneys. Everyone brings rares to trad, but who brings Compulsion and Wild Mongrel? Usually, it’s no one. I was all set to trade a Withered Wretch for some old crap rare like Wake of Destruction… But everyone was prepared.

PROPS: Every one of my friends who listened to me whine.

PROPS: Stacey Allen – My pal Stacey started 0-1 (like me!) and finished 8-3 (not like me!). She made Top 44, which meant she got a box of cards. Folks, that’s 8-2 over the last ten rounds. Boo-yah!

TRUE STORY: The boxes given away at Southeast Regionals were made up as draft boxes: Twenty-four Onslaught packs, twelve Legions. Last week, Karl and Stacey wanted to practice drafting, so a group of us got together to help (and learn, too).

My woes as far as pulling the hottest rares is well documented.

Cards I Have Never Pulled From A Pack

Call of the Herd; Shadowmage Infiltrator (it was a $15 card once); Exalted Angel; Blistering Firecat. That’s in more than three boxes of Odyssey and three boxes of Onslaught.

Guess what I pulled first from Stacey’s Regionals box.

FOIL Exalted Angel.

Dear Anthony Edwards (the Southeast Regionals tourney organizer, not the actor from ER),

On behalf of Stacey Allen (#39, SE REG, 2003), nice box.



Was I serious about playing netdecks? You betcha. Most of my Magic-playing friends don’t think of me as a competitive person. It’s something I tried to do away with as I got”more mature”… But I used to be very, very competitive. I played three sports in high school and even got baseball scholarships. I practiced all the time because I wanted to be the best. I lived in the batting cage. You know those old ladies in Atlantic City who have their very own slot machine at a casino, one that they play so much that the management has it roped off just for them? I had my own batting cage.

I took up tennis last Summer. That’s me flinging my racket at the fence because I can’t get my serve to be in and to be over 100 MPH at the same time today. (“Why is it that I have blood pressure problems again, doc?”)

My favorite part of Magic is still the creativity that it takes to build new decks. But something has happened recently: Winning is becoming more important to me. I don’t know what exactly happened to make me feel this way. It could be that I’m upset that, after four years playing this game, I don’t think that I’m any better than I was after six months. Or I could be bothered by the fact that I’ve spent thousands of dollars on this game and never seem to win anything back. Whatever it is, I want to win now.

Playing your own decks isn’t the way to do this. Sure, it’s fun and very satisfying to beat someone at a tourney with your own deck… But it doesn’t win you any product. Usually.

So this weekend, I started on my trek to play net decks. I took Brian Raymond’s Sligh deck from 2003 New England Regionals. I figure if the guy can get 6th place in that region, it’s a good deck.

Unfortunately, I’m still not a very good player, apparently. So, I went 3-3. Hey, wait a second – my record in two Regionals is now 11-11. I am Even Steven. (See Seinfeld episode number whatever.) (The Opposite, Episode #86, starring French Steward and Regis Philbin – The Ferrett, Seinfeld fan thanks to David Phifer)

Cybercow called my piece Magic haiku or”Magiku.” I like it. And now, the first official Magiku poem:

I suck at this game.

I wish I were much better.

I will play netdecks.

The fun part is that you get to pick the decks that I’ll be playing at the local Saturday tourneys. Tell me which decks I should play. And don’t just say”‘Tog.” When I say I’m netdecking, I mean I’m copying, card for card, a deck that’s proven. So don’t say,”Play green/white” – say,”Play [author name="Nate Heiss"]Nate Heiss[/author]‘ green/white deck that he took to fourth place in the Ohio Valley Regionals.”

As usual, you’ve been a great audience. Here’s hoping that I start breaking even playing this game, or I might just quit.

Chris Romeo

[email protected] (just drop the”spam” and”not.” I have to start trying to foil the spambots.)