This weekend I traveled directly in to enemy territory for Grand Prix Cleveland. Flights were hysterically cheap, the company was fantastic (thanks to John
and Allie), and the hotel was going to be a clean split between us three. Costs were low, expectations were high, and any type of Limited practice before
the Pro Tour seemed like all the more reason to go. After doing an obligatory wife-check to make sure I wouldn’t be poisoned for traveling to another
tournament a week after competing in Miami, I was given the green light, and I was off to the land of rock n’ roll.
Aside #1: The Health Of Fate Reforged Sealed
Several players- people I consider friends, people much better at Magic than I am- told me not to go.
After intimating to me that the format was one of the least healthy ever birthed by WotC, they expressed their disdain for the format using various
four-letter words and the word “horrendous” over and over again. I had done about five or six Sealed events online along with drafts, and I never really
saw the problem. Sure, there were really difficult to defeat bombs, but other than that it seemed like it wasn’t that bad at all.
Well…since I was on the receiving end of what were considered the “unbeatable” bombs in the format, I can safely say that if this format was a person, I
would strongly have to resist the urge to “Macho Man” elbow-drop it off of the top rope.
End Aside #1
As I registered my pool, I took note that I had a Palace Siege, an Ugin, and twenty other cards that were sub-optimal. I had both Chief of the Edge and
Scale with a few other warriors, so my aggro-Ugin deck with eighteen lands was ready to get ghetto stomped into next week.
And it did!
I showed my pool to friends Seth Manfield and Chris Fennell, who laughed at me and apologized for the state of affairs I was gifted with. There was no good
way to build the pool- practically no strong points to any version of the deck, and unless I magically had Ugin every turn 8…you know…with my eighteen
lands and two-drops…games would look pretty grim.
I came off of my byes and ate two games pretty quickly. Platinum hits included a very nice young man who cast Lightform on turn 3, casually putting
Daghatar the Adamant facedown as a manifest, a turn 4 Dragonscale General, Abzan Guide into Armament Corps with a dashed Kolaghan thrown in there…and after
I had successfully dealt with all of those threats…I was unable to beat his Ugin, the Spirit Dragon.
This loss felt pretty good, as I navigated bomb after bomb after bomb, succumbing to the ultimate trump. I rallied hard before finally taking my third loss
playing for Day 2, so I took myself and my little goofball deck back to the hotel to get some rest for the Super Sunday Series Sealed event.
Yes. After getting ranched I decided to run it back. Maybe I would get a busted pool to carry me to victory?
No I did not.
I had some solid early and midgame with my Siege Rhino and Archfiend of Depravity Abzan deck, but I was unable to overcome my opponent having Mob Rule each
game, the turn before he was dead, killing me with it. I lost to a nice guy who cast Cloudform on turn 3, and on turn 7 when he was dead, he flipped a
Thousand Winds off of it for the maximum blowouts.
Are you serious, bro?
You would think I’d been slowly driven to madness, and you’d be right. I felt like I was banging my head off of the wall as I walked past the top tables
and saw them littered with Mastery of the Unseen, Abzan Guides, Daghatars, and other ridiculous cards that don’t seem normal to beat in Sealed.
I defaulted to my favorite format, Two-Headed Giant, and easily swept through my opponents with John as my partner.
This weekend, as far as progress and winning was concerned, was absolutely miserable.
This weekend, as far as fun and good times was concerned, was absolutely worth it.
Aside #2: Rage Quitting Ain’t Cool
I tend to booth-hop in between rounds to check for various Commander foils because I am a child and love shiny cards in my hundred-card decks, and I
stumbled upon a booth where the player was telling a buyer about how unlucky he was, how much he hates Magic, and that he was selling everything in his
collection because he “couldn’t take it anymore.”
Impulsive decisions often have dire consequences. After selling my collection several times, let me tell you why I’ll never do it again:
1- It takes an eternity to recoup.
2- The amount of money you’ll get won’t equal the amount you’ll need to get back in.
3- Instant seller’s remorse.
4- Impulse control has developed from years of bad decision making.
This gentleman selling his cards has obviously never seen my list. Sometimes people need a break; I get that. Hell, I took about four months off from
Magic. Quitting Magic is understandable. Moving on from the game happens. Growing out of a hobby is a reality. Selling everything because you’re on tilt,
however? Please, let me talk you out of it.
I recall playing Blackjack at my local casino a couple years ago. I was having a fantastic day at the tables- up a little over a thousand in under an hour-
but a guy three seats down from me was getting killed. His high bets kept getting fed to the dealer because of poor hits, unlucky flips, and unreasonably
taking insurances when statistically it would be silly to do so. At one point the dealer is showing a ten and he is dealt two sixes. He then throws his
hands up in the air and says, “Whatever. I’ll split.”
Splitting two sixes against a visible ten isn’t a good idea, and I’ve never heard a good reason to do so. His split was met with the obvious crushing.
Instead of just taking a hit like he should have, he threw more money at the dealer because of tilt. As he walked away from the table he angrily exclaimed
how unlucky he was.
In Magic, a loss can hurt. Multiple losses can sting worse. But there is no good reason to get up from the table and throw your money at the dealer because
you can’t comprehend how “unlucky” you’ve gotten.
The best thing to do is go outside, take some deep breaths, and try to calm down. Don’t make any rash decisions.
End Aside #2
Throughout the weekend I lamented how much I hated this Sealed format and commiserated with other friends who share the same sentiments. My professional
friends hate it more than I do, and the only people that seemed to like it were the people holding the paddle, not the ones being spanked by it.
And therein lies the beauty.
This article is called “I Love that I Hate Magic,” and I think it’s the coolest thing in the world.
This was how one of my conversations went this weekend:
This format makes me want to jump off of a bridge.
Let’s do it. This is Cleveland. There are tons of bridges.
Why would they put so many unbeatable rares and mythics in a single set?
To piss us off. It’s working.
I seriously hate this game right now.
Do you want to room with me at the Season One Invitational? I can’t wait for the tournament!
If I can get the PTO for work, that would be awesome!
Do you freaking see what happened in that exchange?
Two players expressed their utter hatred for this format, the state of Limited Magic, and contemplated jumping off of bridges, only afterwards to exclaim
how excited they are for an upcoming tournament because they wanted to play more Magic. I was excited to write today because I wanted to talk about Magic.
I just accepted an invitation to be on a Magic podcast a few minutes ago!
What the hell?
Reason 1 Why I Love to Hate Magic
The highs are remarkable and intoxicating. The sheer amount of fun derived from this game can last you weeks at a time. The rewards and the rush from
winning games is unreal.
The lows are incredibly deep, and nothing feels worse than spilling hundreds of hours into something only to see it pay absolutely no dividends. But I love
that. I love feeling like garbage because of a game, because I know I still have so much work to do and an almost endless horizon to walk towards.
Reason 2 Why I Love to Hate Magic
I feel like Wizards of the Coast likes to poke the bear by making a format like Fate Reforged Limited. These are extremely intelligent people that let
these cards leak through the process, quality control, and their testing procedures. You mean to tell me you folks didn’t see Mob Rule or Silumgar coming?
I call bull on that one.
But for every format that they create that makes me want to scream in a crowded elevator, they release one like triple Khans or Innistrad, and all is
forgiven. Sacrifices must be made sometimes, and this lame duck will hopefully be fixed by the Magic of Dragons!
Reason 3 Why I Love to Hate Magic
The people, man. I love the people.
This weekend, every person who stomped a mudhole in me and walked it dry was exceptionally cool. These are people I’m supposed to want to trip as they walk
away. They literally beat me like I owed them money, but still they were very gracious in winning, and that’s something that made me remember that as much
as I dislike losing. If it comes with grace it almost completely erases the sting.
Being kind to each other is one of the most underrated concepts in Magic. We all have watched the crazy people go off the rails when losing, and I saw
quite a few people who won their matches loudly emulating Ric Flair by “woooooo’ing” in their opponent’s faces. I hate that. I mean, I love the Nature Boy,
but what good reason is there to grind someone in the dirt who already feels bad enough?
The sheer percentage of people being excellent to each other this weekend though…that was impressive.
Well, kiddies, it’s time for me to board my flight. This weekend, I’m going to go ham on Prerelease weekend because my LGS is rocking three separate Sealed
events, and I am a degenerate MTG addict. I’m playing in all of them.
If you don’t hear from me next week, I probably died from exhaustion.
Or I exploded due to happiness from all the games I won.
Either way, we all know Magic will be the central reason.