Innovations – It Always Hurts When One Gets Away

Read Patrick Chapin every Monday... at StarCityGames.com!
Be it lovers, decklists, friends, or fish, it always hurts when one gets away. In this entertaining article, Patrick opens the doors to his life, sharing stories and insight in equal measure. He peppers the prose with many Magical morsels — Extended decklists, advice for Evan Erwin regarding his Invitational submission, and an interview with the winner of GenCon’s 112-player Grand Melee…

The night began when many nights do. During the day.

It’s Friday as I write this, you see. Or it was, when this night began. Around 3 pm, Laura gave me a call. Laura is a rather fetching young lass, standing an imposing 5’10 with the most spectacular curves that I am actually aloud to even mention in this medium. Well, I can’t actually mention them. That is why I am just alluding to them.

So she calls me. She wants to know what I am doing later in the evening. “Posting sick new Magic Technology in an article I am writing,” I tell her, “But you have to search through a bunch of nonsense about my personal life to find it.”

I did have plans to kick it with Brian DeMars, best known for playing Control Slaver and writing Sonnets, but we are definitely the type of gentlemen looking for mischief. I tell her we can rendezvous at the bar around two, call our crew and she call her crew, and see what it do. This was, of course, hip people lingo for meet up before going to the bar, maybe around 9 or 10pm.

Brian shows up around 6 or 7. A bottle of champagne and a few Killians later, we end up in Detroit’s southwest side. For those of you not familiar, the southwest side is the ghetto. Like, it is the ghetto’s ghetto. We pulled up in the truck and walked past a park with a boombox bumping Tag Team, “Whoop There it is.” While there were at least a dozen people sleeping on the sidewalk, there were certainly more smoking the crack rock.

Speaking of smoking the crack rock, have you seen Evan Erwin’s Invitational submission candidates? 1GW for a 2/1 Haste creature that also gives you Call to Blades. Did I mention he is also Orcish Oriflamme and Fires of Yavimaya? That is right, six power worth of haste split up over three bodies. For those of you keeping score at home, that is not only out of flavor for G/W (both in terms of abilities and in terms of being a Pirate), but also undercosted by more than Tarmogoyf. That guy would actually be the most powerful creature of all time. Now I think Evan Erwin is a much mightier mage than he lets on, but come now, this is just absurd.

May I suggest revising it along the lines of:

Creature — Human Pirate
Humans get +1/+0 and Haste.
Kicker – 1G: When comes into play, put two 1/1 human tokens into play.

As I was saying, we question the wisdom of meeting a young lady in this neighborhood, but it is no biggie. We call and ask for more specific directions and are told to look for the guy stealing a mattress and carrying it across the street. We see him and walk that way.

The bar, Jumbo’s, was not the classiest establishment I had ever attended, but it did have a framed black and white glossy portrait of Elvis Presley (The King). We entered to a warm greeting by a dog of questionable origin (named Clutch) running to us from the Elvis Pinball Machine. Laura immediately bought us drinks and we were sucked in.

The defining characteristic of the bar was the portly balding gentleman with Tourette’s Syndrome screaming obscenities. It turns out that he does not actually have Tourette’s, but rather fakes it to get attention from the ladies. Did I mention he is 71?

Oh, how I miss Tight Tommy Glavin.

Originally, The Plan called for Laura to bring one of her ladyfriends, but she had to bartend, so Laura invited a platonic friend, Kyle, to keep Brian company. Brian was not amused.

Laura, Brian, Kyle, Clutch, and I kick it at Jumbo’s for a few hours. There was some scandal involving some Washington Apples and a few other odds and ends. Laura and I end up in a heated pool match.

Now, to be fair, I am not the worst at pool.

Not the worst anyway.

I am pretty bad though.

We are talking Pearled Unicorn bad.

I am no Great Wall though, thank goodness.

It turns out Laura is hammered.

She is normally very good at pool, but the game is close as I get some lucky shots and she is keeping it close for her own amusement. I get down to one ball left and she decides to put me away. She calls her shot with the 8-Ball and misses….

… but accidentally knocks it into another hole.

I am the winner?

She told me, “it always hurts when one gets away.”

So I mise a helluva topdeck and we move on to the next bar. Driving seems like a poor idea (and besides, the truck is probably on blocks at this point) so we just mosey down the street a few blocks to a nicer part of town. Eventually, we arrive at this Irish pub, Flanagan’s, where a friend of hers, Amanda, is bartending. Kyle had to leave to go home (and by leave to go home, I mean service a booty call). Still, we are undeterred and Amanda turns out to be cool as Gerry T.

The kitchen is closed (frown town) but Amanda buys us shots and tries to corrupt us.

Umm, this is very much like when you are playing Flash and your opponent is playing a Drain deck. You just sit there and Brainstorm and Merchant Scroll until you set up more Flashes, Forces, and Pacts than they could have counters. If they don’t have Chalice of the Void, they are probably soft to you. Flash actually beats GAT. Seriously. Even Steve Menendian agrees at this point, and you don’t know what it took to convince him, the world’s foremost GAT expert.

So, there is something about Bell’s Oberon and something about some Royal Flushes (a drink with Crown Royal, which turns out to contain Whiskey. A fun fact I did not know). Black Sabbath is rocking on the jut box and we are having a grand ol’ time.

The bartender pulls out her jewelry and presents her sales pitch. It turns out Amanda is an artist and makes her own homemade jewelry. I take a gander at the merchandise and realize that my life will just not be complete with a set of earrings made from parts of a guitar. I buy them for my best friend Melanie. I am pretty sure I agreed to let the bartender design a set of coffee and end tables for my living room.

Did I mention that Cryptic Command is really actually pretty amazing? Many will be turned off by its casting cost of four (triple U), but don’t let that scare you. This card is the one us Blue Mages have been waiting for. It is actually amazing. You could roll 1D6 to determine which mode it is in and it would still be good. This card is one to snag up at the prerelease. It is also exactly the type of card I would like to see work. Which is good. It may mean I am biased. But I think it just means I am fortunate. It will be a thing to see… how many new Standard decks MichaelJ creates packing this bad boy.

We hung out for a while, but alas, the bar closed at two. We walk to my apartment, which is a hike, but a fun adventure on this particular evening. Eventually, we arrive, Laura, Brian, Clutch (who apparently was with us tonight), and myself. We slide in and do our best imitation of people not up to anything. It turns out that we were not convincing enough. The security guard stops us and explains that there is no way he can let us take the dog upstairs. This complex certainly does not allow such happenings to happen, and we are on camera this very moment.

I was a bit surprised at the negativity, especially considering that I had given this exact doorman a beer while he was on duty just two weeks prior. Still, it is his job on the line, so what can I really say? We talk it over and Laura decides that the only course of action is for her to take the dog home to her place. This sucks for me, as we are in no position to drive and I have to give Brian a ride home in the morning.

She ends up getting a ride. Are you kidding me? Over some random dog? What a gigantic beating. I mean, she has to do what she has to do, but I like this girl. It is always hard when one slips away.

Brian and I go upstairs and jump on the interweb. I take care of some things in the refrigerator. He signs on (under my AIM name) and immediately starts talking to people that don’t know that he isn’t me. Why wouldn’t he, right?

He is talking to Anusien, and Anusien wants to know my thoughts on Bring your own Standard. Brian, on the other hand, wants to discuss the conflict between guttural slang referencing female anatomy and assembling the Tron.

You can see how constructive a conversation this turned out to be.

Constructive? I’ll give you constructive.

The basic idea is to play as one of the storm Goblin decks, but now with the added feature of being able to Haze people out on turn 3 or 4. Let me just tell you, it does not take much to Haze for lethal. Still, this deck is just not as fast as the other combo decks, which is a problem that needs to be dealt with. You can’t call four Mogg Fanatics a disruption package. Solve that problem, and you may have found a winner.

I was so happy to put this monster together in my head. But, upon testing and discovering that it needs to change and I don’t think I am the one to make it work… well, it always hurts when one gets away.

It would seem that you could just add Cabal Therapies and whatnot, but can you do it and keep the combo aspect intact? Here is a little different of a take on Goblins.

As you remember from last month, I attended GenCon and competed in the Legacy and Vintage Championships. Unfortunately, I was unable to compete in the most prestigious event the weekend had to offer up.

The 112-player multiplayer Grand Melee.

The rules are basically that all 112 players sit in a giant circle and only attack to the left, though they can cast spells that effect the person on their left and their right. There are many turns taking place at the same time. Every four players that are removed causes a turn to collapse and the circle to shrink. Last person standing is the winner. The stack and other fun features are actually quite complicated, but you get the idea.

I sat down with the eventual winner, former Pokemon World Champion, Dylan Austin, who made it through over seventeen grueling hours to emerge victorious.

PChapin: How much did you prepare for the Grand Melee?
Dylan: Someone at the store I play at plays a G/W Fog deck in Standard. When I heard about the format, I thought it would be a good choice.
PC: You caused a bit of controversy and won largely in part to the Range loophole you discovered regarding Holy Day. Did you know about it beforehand?
Dylan: No, I asked a rules question after an hour and discovered it, making it so that people could no longer attack my neighbors.
PC: How many people did you actually kill?
Dylan: Only two, actually. Eventually, someone who had gone infinite with turns, soldiers, life, mana, cards, Regrowths, was forcing each person to his right to draw their entire library each turn. When I came into his sphere of influence, I Extirpated him on his upkeep for Loaming Shamans. He had Research Development to combat this, but there were eleven Rites of Flourishings and two Howling Mines in his sphere, so he never made it through his draw phase. The only other person was my bodyguard to my right. I waited until we were the only two people left and I had to finish him off by Extirpating everything in his deck. He was cool with it though, and knew that he had come as far as we could together and this was the end of the line.
PC: What would you change about the format for next year?
Dylan: Something needs to be done about infinite turns. The range rule is also very abusable, but overall they did a great job of making the format playable despite 112 players. It was a lot of fun.
PC: Congratulations!

I originally envisioned retelling the tale of the game, including all the politicking and conflict, but I have come to realize that this one of those situations that you just had to be there. Suffice to say, this was totally cool, easily one of the greatest games of Magic I have ever seen.

That article would have been amazing, but I just couldn’t do it in a way that I would be happy with, a way that would convey the energy of the event. That article would have made me proud. It always hurts when one gets away.

There were highs and lows, of course, but in the end, it was a thing to behold. While there were times the game would drag on, such as when players had to wait upwards of 45 minutes to take a turn due to how many other mages were “going infinite” in one way or another, there were moments that made it all worthwhile, like when one player that people had taken to calling “The Abyss” was killing everyone in his sphere of influence every time he had priority. He was killing mages so fast that turns were collapsing around him left and right. Fifteen planeswalkers later, he hit someone that had a way to disrupt his combo that he had not anticipated, and he fell.

At another point, a player running Dragonstorm, Wild Pair, and all the Dragons and all the Slivers legal (except Hunted Dragon and Mistform Ultimus, as he is proud to point out) had 107 creature CARDS in play and was involved in a single stack that lasted 25 minutes.

It was particularly heartbreaking when a player playing a block Sliver deck fought and fought, playing a true team role, eventually ran out of options and committed what essentially amounted to suicide, to aide informal “teammates” that he had allied with. He came to realize that he was going to die eventually anyway and had one last chance to make a difference. He cast Boom/Bust, destroying all of his own lands and dooming himself, but crippling a powerful neighbor that allowed someone he had come to work with to continue on.

All in all, definitely a reminder that at its core, Magic is a game that provides a context for making friends and memories, and that has so many more dimensions than we may realize.

Richard Garfield, thank you. I can’t thank you enough.

Patrick Chapin
“The Innovator”

PS: I was actually supposed to tell the story of the Saga-Legacy PT NY that I had broken and should have won, if not for having my deck stolen. It always hurts when one gets away.