Good Beats: Players And Writers At GP Boston

Charles Manson wants to be free. Tech doesn’t want anything. So why do writers share all of the tech?

Hello, gamers! (Why is that so funny to me?)

At both Pro Tour: LA and Grand Prix Boston, I received several inquiries from other players about my writing. Most were just "When-is-your-next-article-going-up-I-like-them" kind of stuff, but a couple queries came complete with sidelong glances and raised eyebrows, as if to imply, "Yep, I knew you were a charlatan. You weren’t serious with your pleas for more Pros to write articles."

I was serious – and here I am again, buckos. I honestly haven’t been shirking my duties TOO much… I wrote a 4,000 word recap of PT: LA last Wednesday, and then randomly hit "No" when asked if I wanted to save changes to document "Untitled2." Goodbye, article. Consider that a valid excuse, or at least part of one.

I have vowed to save my stuff more often; if you’re reading this then it must have worked out. Perhaps I’ll touch on LA in a later installment.

Anyway. (hitting Save As…)

As I was saying, I went to Boston for the Grand Prix this past weekend. By airplane. The rest of the CMU peeps, being mostly college-aged whippersnappers, thought it would be cool to pile five-deep into Andrew Johnson’s Jeep and drive for ten hours. They didn’t get moving until 8 p.m. on Friday; needless to say, most of them didn’t get much sleep. That just doesn’t seem as cool when you’re twenty-eight with a full-time job and a wife who wants to come along.

Anne and I got into Boston around midnight – our flight was delayed an hour-and-a-half – and managed to say "hi" to a few people at the tournament site before packing it in around 1:00 a.m.

The next morning, there were almost 600 players ready to rumble, the attendance beating out Philadelphia for the largest North American GP. Jon Finkel was NOT in the house, nor was Mike Pustilnik. Rob Dougherty was there, but was partially responsible for running the event, so he was out of the action. Every other American with at least nineteen points this season was there, plus some old-school greats like Dennis Bentley and Shawn Regnier, and many other Magic luminaries – from Flores to Wise, Sullivan to Guevin, Price to Kurt "Fat Man" Hahn (the inventor of 5-Color Magic). The place was packed, and as we sat down to register decks, I realized that less than one-person-in-nine would be making the second day.

I had to be one of them. After relatively poor performances in Chicago and LA, I had the feeling that I was just a little out-of-whack with the top players – I’d do better in these high-level events if I just got to play in more of them. So once the Grand Prix circuit started making stops in the northeast quadrant of the U.S., I bought a couple round-trip tickets to Boston. Top 32 or bust.

The Sealed deck I received was pretty atypical. No U/B/R for me. The red was awful, highlighted only by a pair of Lava Zombies. The black had a couple decent cards, but it was very thin. The real goods were in blue and white – Faerie Squadron, Voice of All, Glimmering Angel, Repulse, and Samite Archer were the top-shelfers, with Tidal Visionary, Crusading Knight, Hunting Drake, Metathran Aerostat, and Confound making up most of the rest. The real tough decision was whether to use black or green as the third color. Black offered some good removal, like Annihilate, Death Bomb, and Exotic Curse, plus Duskwalker and Recover. Green gave more good monsters, like Kavu Climber and Chameleon, plus Armadillo Cloak and Canopy Surge. It was a tough call – both required commitments to double-colored casting costs, but in the end my Stormscape Battlemage led me down the path to black. The final product was W/U/b with at least two double-casting-cost spells in each color. Not exactly ideal, but all the cards were pretty powerful, and it was my kind of deck. I felt I had a decent chance to go 3-1 and then possibly draw into Day 2.

Anne ran off to do some sightseeing, so I spent the majority of my three byes in a pizza shop across the street from the venue. Mike Turian and Andy J joined me, as did Matt Vienneau. Vienneau didn’t like how I build my deck – he said I should have played Darigaaz’s Attendant and Pollen Remedy over my two double-black spells just for consistency. Turian felt that I should have used the green cards instead of black, and said I should consider siding in all the green cards if my black ones would be too cumbersome against any particular opponent. Noted. Johnson claimed I should have used Terminal Moraine – a card I have never tried in Sealed; it seems a turn too slow to actually be good. Yes, my mana was bad. But I didn’t want to risk having a colorless land early in the game.

Vienneau showed his deck off, and the consensus was that it was very average. The bulk of it was 2/2 fliers for four, including a Volcano Imp that could not be given first strike. Johnson, Turian, and I all felt that the Imp was incorrect, and Vienneau said he’d consider siding it out.

Johnson built his deck in a weird way, trading power for speed – he played R/G/w beats, leaving Spinal Embrace, Stormscape Battlemage, and Cavern Harpy, among others, in the ‘board. I played a few games against him, and mauled him.

Cutting to the chase… Vienneau went undefeated on day one, never siding out the Volcano Imp. Johnson went undefeated as well – and didn’t lose a single game. Regardless of how the final product turns out, players who are good at Sealed deck – and I count Johnson and Vienneau among the very best – will tailor their decks to their own abilities. It might not be pretty, but each player knows which cards will help him win, and it isn’t the same for everyone. Trust yourself.

Turian also built his deck strangely – he was playing G/R/b and left Plague Spores in his sideboard. Again, Mike’s been playing long enough for me to accept his choices. He had to play it for five rounds, not me. Mike ended Day 1 at 6-2 and made the cut on tiebreakers.

I started playing in Round 4, at about 5:00 PM. My first opponent was Bryan Manolakos, who also had three byes. In game one, he cast his Thunderscape Battlemage three time and made me discard five cards. That advantage was enough for him to dominate the board. I bluffed him out of killing me for about five turns when I was at two life and his men outnumbered mine, but he Worldly Counseled into Urborg Emissary before I could draw my Battlemage. 0-1. I swapped black for green in game 2, and after trading permanents for awhile, I beat him down with Kavu Chameleon. 1-1. Bryan wanted to do a big sideboard swap before game 3, but I told him we only had six minutes left. Bryan is one of those "thinking" players who agonizes over each choice. It makes for an unpleasant play environment, and eats up the clock. The third game never ended.

I needed to go 3-1-1 in five rounds to guarantee Day 2, and I used up my draw in the first round of play. Time to win.

And win I did, sweeping my next three opponents. I beat Peter Ceprano in round 5, even though he cast Spinal Embrace in both games. Cool Aerostat tricks prevented his second attempt from resolving. In round 6, I beat Osyp Lebedowicz by kicking my Battlemage against his Shivan Wurm. But that doesn’t top my doubly-kicked Battlemage being cast three times in the same game against Robert Stead in round 7. I Recovered it once and Repulsed it once, and the nine points of lifegain was just important in the race as the three creatures I killed.

None of those three opponents won a match after playing me, and Manolakos failed to make Day 2 as well. So my tiebreakers weren’t super heading into my round-8 match with Justin Schneider. The winner would start day 2 at the top table; the loser would… Not.

It wasn’t close. I got stuck on three Islands and an Ancient Spring in game one as he bashed me with fliers. As we sideboarded for game 2, he duped me into telling him if I was playing or drawing – Note: don’t fall for that again. Regardless, my green sideboard didn’t put up any resistance against Justin’s crazy deck – he couldn’t activate either ability of his Nightscape Master for most of the game and I was still losing. He got a little annoyed when I mentioned that all he had was platinum hits, but what was I supposed to say… "You sure are outplaying me?" Ah, well.

I ended day one at 6-1-1, in 40th place. A great Chinese dinner with Anne, Andy J, Turian, Nate Heiss, and Dan Silberman capped the day, and then it was off to bed.

Day 2’s draft action started at 9:00, but someone misinformed Hashim Bello of that fact. He was conspicuously absent from my first table. Seizing the opportunity, I announced to the rest of the table that I had dibs on the bye. That strategy worked at Nationals, so why not give it a whirl again?

There were a couple other players at the table that I recognized, like Sean McKeown, Sam Fog, and Brian Hegstad. I was feeding Ryan Golden and being fed by Chris Manning.

First pick Annihilate. Cool. I planned on being submissive, however, and took Armadillo Cloak second. The rest of my picks in pack one were green and white, including a trio of Kavu Climbers and a Restock. Pack two contained a Breath of Darigaaz and an Agonizing Demise. The Breath is more powerful and was in my "aligned" color, but by taking the Demise I could also rework the Annihilate into my deck. More green and white cards ensued. The Planeshift pack had only two good cards as well – Phyrexian Scuta and Stormscape Battlemage. Images of the Battlemage smearing men on Friday leapt around in my brain, but I figured that three colors was plenty and took the big zombie. More green and white picks ensued, plus a Death Bomb to round out my four-card black splash. The deck had bad mana, but lots of monsters and three banishing effects. I played Chromatic Sphere, Fertile Ground, Quirion Elf, and Quirion Trailblazer in an attempt to get the mana smoother, although I frequently sided the Trailblazer out for a 17th land.

Round 9 – Hashim Bello. How convenient. I took the free win and had a turkey sandwich while I watched AndyJ beat Darwin Kastle. A good round.

I actually had to play in round 10, and it was against Sean McKeown, a well-known strategy writer from NYC. Sean’s U/W/b deck worked me in game one – his two tappers and his Benalish Heralds made life pretty tough. In game 2, he cast his Heralds and said, "Chance you have a way to stop this guy: Slim." I said, "Not THAT slim," and Demised it. I don’t think Sean ever did an analysis of G/W/Banishing before – but it’s a joke here in Pittsburgh that Agonizing Demise really costs G4. It’s a G/W mage’s best friend. I Death Bombed his Vodalian Serpent later on, and that was about it for his defenses. In game three, he Tsabo’s Decreed an Armadillo Cloaked Elf, but the rest of my big monsters were just enough to punch past his regenerators and Shoreline Raider.

Sean felt that whoever won our match would win the table, but Brian Hegstad had something to say about that. Hegstad is one of Chris Benafel’s boys from the Northwest, and while he hasn’t put up any big PT finishes, he finished 11th at both GP Dallas and New Orleans this year. I wasn’t able to stop him on his way to the Top 8 in Boston. With his posse cheering him on, he dropped Rith on me in games one and three… And me without my Banishings! Of course, I drew all three Banishings and Restock in game 2, but one game doesn’t get it done. The kid has skills.

I needed to 3-0 my last table to have a shot at the top 8, and I felt I could do it. I was being fed by Andrew Ranks and passing to Internet bad-boy Peter Szigeti. My card quality was pretty poor in this draft – the first two picks I made were Thornscape Apprentice and Obsidian Acolyte. Be very afraid! I dipped into red as the draft went on, but I ended up passing way too may Probes to my right, and I never got any removal. My first pick in Planeshift? Gerrard’s Command. The deck ended up being a bunch of Ogres, three Giant Growthy cards, a Harrow, and a Zap. Must… attack… (And hope everyone else’s deck sucks, too.)

I beat Bryce Currence in round 11 because of a combination of his mana issues and my two Slingshot Goblins. Sometimes those guys are just nuts. Bryce played Sky Weaver and Tower Drake on turns 2 and 3 in one game, and my turn-3 Goblin quickly dispatched of them. I killed Bryce in both games with Zap.

In Round 12, I had a Featured Match with local hero Chris Manning. Manning’s deck was insane, with two Probes, Recoil, the Rat/Harpy combo, Rushing River, Lord of the Undead (and several zombie buddies), and the Black Battlemage. In game one, I rushed him early and let the Goblins smash his Shoreline Raider and Tidal Visionary, but his Vodalian Serpent stalled me enough for him to get Lord + Phyrexian Bloodstock running. Moving right along… Things were looking bad for me in game two, until I got my Obsidian Acolyte out. I got Chris down to four life, and the Acolyte was allowing my 1/1s to hold off all of his monsters except for a Phyrexian Slayer. I eventually drew the green tapper to neutralize Chris’s red Alloy Golem. Chris had a Recoil in hand, but I had just enough white mana – and the sense to protect my red Apprentice last – to sneak the four points past his black fatties. There were scant minutes remaining for game 3 – Chris suffers from the "Boston Slowness" – but I felt if I got a good draw I could win in time. I got the right draw – a cheap red guy, a Sparkcaster, two Plains, and the Acolyte. Chris Probed into Recoil, however, and bounced the Sparkcaster the on the 4th extra turn. Darn. And my deck was so outmatched, too; a win there would have been beautiful.

The math showed that I’d make Top 32 no matter what at this point, so in true anti-climactic fashion, I lost round 14 to Mauro Bongiovanni, 2-1. My lone Zap was no match for his Thunderscape Master.

My 29th-place finish was good for one PT point and 250 bucks. The point was nice, the money barely dented the overall cost of the trip, but the pride of a high finish – 29th is the top 5% – is what I was looking for. That was my first in-the-money finish in five GPs, and the satisfaction that I’m still good at this game is just what I needed.

Johnson and Turian also finished in the Top 32, so it was a pretty decent weekend for the team as well. Johnson could have qualified under a weird provision if Alan Comer won the whole Grand Prix, but Comer lost to Tom Swan’s Cloaked Llanowar Knight in the semi-finals, so Johnson’s going to have to ride his rating to Spain.

The CMU gang had a phat $300 seafood dinner after the tournament, including "chowdah." So I did experience one cupful of local flavor.

I gotta give props to some people who raised my levels of enjoyment for this tournament. First, Adrian Sullivan, who beat me up in "5" a lot (my deck SUCKS)… We sure drew some crowds, eh? Speaking of "5" – Kurt Hahn was on fire. That guy is great for Magic. He’s loud, he’s funny, and took that 1700 flag right to the top of the mountain. Oh, and Tom Swan. The guy is fifty – that means I still have at least twenty-two good years left!
Funny story – before draft 2, Tom’s son Brad sat down at our table and said, "So, is anyone else’s dad at the top table?" I wonder what it’s like to finish 36 places behind… Your dad. Finally, what would Boston be without… Tom Guevin? The guy never stops. He has a remark for every person, every situation. And they’re always funny. For a while, I hated him. But there’s no point. Hating him deprives you of the chance to enjoy his scathing humor, which is worth the price of admission. As long as he’s not directing it at me, of course… Others that I got to hang with include Chris Benafel, Don Gallitz, and of course Randy "one-man coverage" Buehler – all good times.

So that was the Grand Prix. I can’t wait to see the pictures my wife took of Boston so I can say, "I was there, kind of."

Anne and I left Boston at 6:30 a.m. on Monday, and I drove straight to work. That made for a long day. After I got home, I talked to my family on the phone. My dad wanted to know "what happened" that caused me to finish 29th. Hrmm, 29th seemed okay to me. And my brother felt the need to analyze all my draft picks and basically tell me that I don’t know what I’m doing. Whatever, dude.

But the capper to that evening was an email from Will Rieffer of Team Binary 21, one of the Star City writers that I’m on a mailing list with. It was a forwarded message that said (condensed):

"I heard at GP Boston (I’m not saying who, it wasn’t Aaron), that Forsythe is sending you and Binary 21 BAD DUMB decks on purpose, just to see how smart/dumb you are. If so, that would be mean…. HINT!!!! Do NOT share this with Forsythe, of course he’ll deny it…."

Well, doesn’t that take the cake?

The StarCityMtG mailing list hosts lots of Star City writers, like John Rizzo, The Ferrett, Jon Chabot, Vasco Da Gama, Shawn Jackson, Mike Mason, and tons more. (Read Rizzo’s "The Dead Thread" to get an idea of what goes on.) Lots of stuff gets discussed on the list – Magic and otherwise – and many of the articles you enjoy on StarCity are birthed there.

I’m the only player qualified for Tokyo on the list, but lots of those guys like playing and thinking about Block Constructed, so ideas were flying around. I told the list that I wouldn’t be posting any of CMU’s decks there because of normal "security issues;" Lauren Passmore is on the list as well, and anything she sees is going right to Dave Price. So there was one obvious tech leak, which probably meant that there were a few more that weren’t as obvious.

Some of the members, however, are great thinkers, so I sent them a deck we were working on at CMU. It was a "domain deck," based around Collective Restraint, Tribal Flames, and Draco. At the time, it was brand new tech – weird, hard to play, and in need of more testing than we could afford to give it. So I sent the list to Chabot in Boston and Rieffer in St. Louis, hoping they could give it a few run-throughs and make some suggestions. They did, and I appreciated their time.

As time went on, I threw a couple sub optimal decks up on the list, just to make conversation. One was a plainly awful attempt at a landkill deck:

4x Thornscape Familiar
4x Utopia Tree
4x Benalish Emissary
4x Frenzied Tilling
4x Implode
4x Harrow
4x Rushing River
3x Nightscape Battlemage
2x Restock
2x Trench Wurm
2x Sunscape Apprentice
2x Plague Spores
1x Allied Strategies
6x Forest
4x Mountain
2x Swamp
2x Island
2x Plains
3x Darigaaz’s Caldera
1x Treva’s Ruins

That is a bad, bad deck. Worse than bad. Funny bad. (Like the four Implodes wasn’t a sign of this? – The Ferrett) The other one was an attempt to use Planar Overlay, a card Rizzo stumbled upon in his quest to beat the Domain decks:

4x Planar Overlay
4x Dream Thrush (more Rizzo tech – not a bad combo, actually)
4x Exclude
4x Opt
4x Wash Out
4x Waterspout Elemental
4x Disrupt
3x Fact or Fiction
2x Blind Seer
2x Rushing River
2x Repulse
1x Zanam Djinn
20x Island
2x Terminal Moraine

I played it to a 3-1 record on an #apprentice tournament, but don’t let that fool you. It sucks. It rolls over to two-mana creatures. It will, however, smash Domain decks.

Anyway, I did, in fact, post those two decks to the mailing list, just as conversation pieces. No one was to take them seriously, and I don’t think anyone did.

Back to what I was saying… There’s another popular mailing list out there, run by one Greg Smith. It hosts a wide variety of people, from Rieffer to CMU’s own Nate Heiss, to the aforementioned Matt Vienneau. I think Rizzo’s on it, I think McKeown’s on it (He is – The Ferrett, also on it), and I know Seth Burn is on it, plus many others. Quite a hodgepodge. Some of these people are associated with Magic’s big teams, so it seems to me that the level of tech being traded on this list should be very low. There are probably lots of red herrings, lots of subtly out-of-date stuff or cryptic, teasing hints. In general, it seems pretty counterproductive.

Rieffer’s a talker, and I’m sure he couldn’t resist dropping his own hints. He posted, "We got the latest CMU deck and tested it. It’s quite different, exciting, etc…. but it went 0-2 in what would have been one game matches (I decked them both times) against two decks I have, one of which, a G/W, I built just yesterday. Their deck could have perhaps won easily if they’d have stuck to Aaron’s original build, which he showed me later. Cuneo tweaked it for an imagined MG and IMHO didn’t help it any. Now what am I trying to say here? Don’t know. You know the rules. Burn? Their deck can gain life, as can mine, sometimes a whole lot. I hit sixty-one life with mine yesterday. (I’ll explain this. I got them to three life and had a Charging Troll out. I had a Cloak on their creature so they had to block my Troll obviously repeatedly)."

To me, that seems like waving a steak in front of wolves. I know that Vienneau, currently teamless, is constantly sifting for every valuable nugget he can find; he and others were always prodding the list members for concrete information. Rieffer didn’t give our deck away, but he sure whet people’s appetites.

The above is just an example of the type of cat-and-mouse dialogue that goes on between lists, writers, and players. But the whole thing came full circle in Boston.

The second half of my conversation with Vienneau, Johnson, and Turian in the pizza shop turned to Invasion Block Constructed. Vienneau told me that it was all over the net that I had a black/blue/red deck full of rares. Huh? I told him I had no such deck (which is quite true). He asked if I was on a list with Will Rieffer, I said yes, and he said that Will is taking what I say on StarCity’s list and passing it off as "gospel" on Greg Smith’s list.

I replied, "That’s fine. I only put bad decks on that list, anyway."

Statements like that tend to take on a life of their own.

I’m sure no harm was meant when Matt repeated that quote to Greg Smith later on at the GP. And I’m sure no harm was meant when Greg warned Will that I was passing off bad tech on him and his teammates.

The problem was that the obviously bad decks I put on StarCity’s list were being confused with the "real" deck I sent Will. So when I got the email from Will calling me on the carpet for suckering him, I was pissed.

So pissed that I fired off an angry email to Matt, accusing him of trying to smudge my reputation and paint me as a deceiving scumbag who was hoping Will would write articles about bad IBC decks.

Cooler heads prevailed, and between Matt, Greg, Will and I, we straightened out what was happening. My putting "bad decks" on the StarCity list might seem malicious to an outsider, but it was all in good faith. I hold no grudges towards anyone involved, and I hope their suspicions of me have been lifted.

It’s like that one episode of the Brady Bunch where, like, Greg thinks the rival quarterback is dating Marsha just to steal Greg’s playbook, so Greg plants a fake playbook, and then he feels bad about it… Remember that? Man, that was awesome. I’d feel bad about planting fake playbooks as well. Not my style.

When sorting out events like those in my head, I had a small epiphany. My experiences have shown that there seems to be bad chemistry whenever "writers" and "players" start mingling and discussing tech. Allow me to define the two.

Writers are people who want to make their mark on the Magic community through the internet (or magazines). They have a very altruistic, heart-on-my-sleeve approach to information. They want to figure out the best ideas for new formats, and then paste them all over cyberspace for the whole world to see. Writers will do this no matter what, even at the expense of their own success: "Here’s the deck I’m going to play at Regionals!" That seems crazy to me.

I’m not a "writer" by that definition. I’m a "player." Players want to make their mark in Magic through tournament results. A player wants to figure out the best ideas for new formats, and then keep them secret until tournament time, sharing only with a close circle of confidants. Players are all about themselves, and feel that if they keep everyone in the dark about what they’re doing, they’ll have an advantage. Advantage is everything.

The line might seem fuzzy, but it isn’t. Sure, players can write (me, Zvi, Kastle, etc.), and writers can play (all of them do, but Rizzo is a good example). The distinction isn’t which one you’d choose if you were forced to abandon one or the other, but rather how you handle "information" knowing that you fill both roles. Rizzo likes to talk tech. I don’t. Players will tell you all about what they did AFTER the tournament is over. Writers don’t want to wait that long.

"Tech wants to be free." – Paul Barclay

"My ass." – Aaron Forsythe

Charles Manson wants to be free. Tech doesn’t want anything. Tech is to be distilled in basements and stored in sun-proof bottles and traded for diamonds, missiles, and real estate. Tech is to be guarded for months, and then unleashed upon scores of hapless players in a scourge like a biochemical bomb. If tech was free, it wouldn’t damn well be tech. And tournament Magic wouldn’t be nearly as intense.

I’m a friendly guy. I want everyone to enjoy Magic a lot, I really do. But I want to win. I like what I do because I know there’s a competition going on at all times – not just when you’re actually playing.

I told you I sent my Restraint deck to Jon Chabot as well. Well, Chabot’s article a week later contained this:

"Surprisingly, one of the strongest builds I have seen to date is the ‘domain’ deck. It’s a 5-Color monstrosity, using…

4x Collective Restraint
4x Reviving Vapors
4x Harrow
4x Worldly Counsel
4x Absorb
3x Sterling Grove
3x Global Ruin

…As the base of the deck. From this point, I’ve seen a variety of kill mechanisms, builds with or without Yawgmoth’s Agenda, Probe, or Fact or Fiction. Since many of the top pros seem to be looking at this as the best deck in the format, I’ve been sworn to secrecy about the specific fine-tuning being used by different teams, but overall this looks to be a pretty flexible deck. Restraint/Ruin is one of the best creature locks available in the format, and deals with pesky ten-point Urza’s Rages as well."

Now, Jon’s a writer and he can write whatever he wants. But this bugged me. I mean, he doesn’t give the whole thing away, but damn! I am a nervous man, a paranoid man; I’m spending many nights and tons of money to try and do well at a Pro Tour in Tokyo, and I think every little fingerhold I get in a format should be a closely guarded secret. I like to keep the tech in a Tupperware bowl under my bed.

Rizzo’s in our playgroup at CMU and gets to see all out stuff up close. He’s gotten pretty good himself, and has contributed many cards and decks to our playtest regimen. Regardless, this snippet was in his last article:

"Collective Restraint.dec can make a brother scoop like no other, but it just rolls over and dies to Planar Overlay. It can set up the almost perfect lock with Restraint (or even multiple Restraints), protected with a Sterling Grove, with a friggin’ Draco in play, and cast Global Ruin that just houses everyone in said house…"

Sigh. Maybe our deck was obvious. Maybe it just seemed obvious, I don’t know. All I know is that three other StarCity writers saw the deck and then there were three posts to "public" forums (two articles, one teaser on Greg Smith’s list) about it in one capacity or another. It’s enough to drive a nervous, paranoid, tech-hound crazy.

There’s a very good chance that those guys all would have written about the Collective Restraint deck if I never showed them mine, but I can’t help but blame myself for any "leaks."

I write these articles on the side, but I’m not a "writer" at heart. I don’t really like to share my ideas up front, and I get my panties all in a bunch when other people do, intentionally or not. Is it a flaw? Not to me. I suppose those guys needed something to write about. IBC is an upcoming Pro Tour format, and I guess they feel the need to cover all the bases so that big "I-told-you-so’s" will be in order once the dust settles in Japan. As for me… I’d be content if no one said a word about the format until it was all over.

Both groups have their place, and they’re both constantly learning from one another. I appreciate all that the writers do for the community, but I am always depressed when what I thought was a secret idea turns out to be a topic for someone’s column. There’s a fundamental difference between players and writers, and that’s why I can’t see myself divulging any more CMU stuff to other StarCity guys. It’s not that they’re maliciously giving info away; it’s just that I can’t stomach the possibility. I don’t want to contribute to any pre-tournament analysis, consciously or otherwise. It’s just not worth it.

I really enjoy my conversations and banter with all the writers for Star City, but I think our relationship is going to have to remain "Spy vs. Spy." I’ll be working on new stuff, and they’ll all try to scoop me. We’ll see who comes out ahead.

That, my friends, is the nature of the business.

Game hard,
Aaron Forsythe

Thanks to Will, Jon, Scott Forster, Mason, and Jay Moldenhauer-Salazar for all their IBC thoughts. I hope you can see where I’m coming from.

By the way, here’s the full Collective Restraint deck. There’s no way I’m playing it in Tokyo (but it sure looked good a few weeks ago). It loses to one "popular archetype" almost 100% of the time. No, I’m not giving any more hints.

4x Collective Restraint
4x Probe
4x Worldly Counsel
4x Reviving Vapors
4x Harrow
4x Chromatic Sphere
4x Tribal Flames
2x Draco
2x Global Ruin
2x Yawgmoth’s Agenda
3x Sterling Grove
1x Spite/Malice
7x Island
5x Forest
5x Plains
3x Swamp
2x Mountain

If you are playing in PT: Tokyo, please concentrate on beating the U/B/R decks similar to the one McKeown talked about on Mindripper. The deck is very good, but no fun at all. I don’t want to play against it for fourteen rounds. Pack extra Lobotomies, Cremates, Disrupts, etc. Just beat it.