Is There An I In Team?

I feel like I’m getting better, and I’d attribute that to several things that go together… Mainly, Team Binary.

Wow. I’m referenced in Mike Mason and Dave Meddish articles. That’s a good day.

First and foremost, I’d again like to thank everyone who’s taken the slightest interest in my condition, my health, and to those who been inquisitive or sympathetic. I’ll say that it helps to share and think that someone understands. Plus, I’d like for as many folks to know about my condition, in case I do fall out from hypoglycemia. I had a recent visit with both some diabetes counselors, and the doctor and they both say that I’m doing great with my routine – exceptionally well for the time frame since my diagnosis. So I’m feeling better about things in general, a little residual anger at what can’t be helped not withstanding.

Magic? Binary 21 is rather ate up with the Peoples Auction idea for the Invitational at the moment. You thought that Jay Moldenhauer-Salazar thirty decks in thirty days was something? He’s hitting us with like five themed Auction decks a day. For those that are math challenged, that would be a hundred and fifty decks or so in thirty days… And Jay stays on theme. I mean, he really sticks to a theme with every card. I’ve seen decks that were basically the type One Power 9 with a few creatures thrown in to cap them off – I hear that Sean McKeown offered an Academy deck with a Kobold thrown in. Of course, Sean’s was a joke; he said something to the effect of”If anyone picks this, they should be fired,” or something to that effect. The Mad Doctor Smiling Jay however gives us stuff like a deck of Clams. Clams, for crying out loud! And ‘cause it’s in theme, they get their one and only one Mox Pearl. Pearls are rather rare, I hear.

I’ll just show you a few of the decks that I’ve spilt out.


4 Hypnotic Specter

4 Blazing Specter

4 Abyssal Specter

2 Doomsday Specter

4 Howl from Beyond

4 Terror

4 Recoil

4 Darkness

4 Dark Ritual

4 Bad Moon

6 Swamp

2 Volcanic Island

4 Sulfurous Springs

2 Underground River

4 Underground Sea

4 Badlands

Not too tough to throw together, and darn effective. Of course it could be speeded up with Moxes and so forth but I’m not sure it needs it. The deck is a simple hand-wrecking machine, and the cards seem in theme to me. I had Terminate and Diabolic Edict in there, but then I didn’t see a thematic connection with those cards. Anything black can be associated with”terror,” and other cards like Bad Moon and Howl from Beyond fit in quite well as well… I hope. One might”Recoil” in fright, et cetera. Look for these poor analogies to continue throughout this section of this article.


1 Baron Sengir

1 Crovax, The Cursed

4 Arrogant Vampire

4 Sengir Vampire

4 Vampire Bats

1 Crumbling Sanctuary

3 Wave of Terror

3 Ancient Craving

3 Terror

3 Vicious Hunger

2 Blood Lust

2 Vampiric Tutor

4 Sol Ring

4 Dark Ritual

4 Mox Jet

1 Castle Sengir

4 Ancient Tomb

2 Sulfurous Springs

4 Badlands

6 Swamp

Again not, too hard to stay on theme here, and the deck is pretty good but not overpowering. The Vampires had to have mana acceleration. Mana is a necessity for the game, and the more normal and notable accelerants don’t much fit in with any theme anyway… Unless, of course, your Clams need their one pearl…


4 Illusionary Forces

4 Thalakos Mistfolk

4 Somnophore

4 Phantom Warrior

3 Chameleon Spirit

3 Palinchron

4 Fade Away

4 Fact or Fiction

2 Illusionary Mask

2 Illusions of Grandeur

2 Sky Diamond

4 Mox Sapphire

20 Island

Do we ask,”Where’s the Donate?” I like this one, and again it’s been competitive. Illusionary Mask is fun, and never having seen the card before I’ve found Fade Away to be a beating in the format. Is Counterspell the singular property of a Mage deck? Somnophore and Chameleon Spirit can be annoying without some from of removal as well.

And now for my favorite:


4 Academy Rector

4 False Prophet

4 Noble Benefactor

3 Defender en-Vec

2 Reliquary Monk

3 Fact or Fiction

4 Wrath of God

4 Control Magic

2 Treachery

2 Confiscate

1 Worship

1 Soothsaying

1 Dreams of the Dead

1 Remembrance

1 Pure Reflection

1 Field of Souls

1 The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale

1 Serra’s Sanctum

1 Library of Alexandria

1 Kor Haven

1 Forbidding Watchtower

1 Coastal Tower

4 High Market

2 Plains

2 Island

4 Tundra

4 Adarkar Wastes

I still feel that the most inspirational and notable Magic tourney win was Dr. Ped Bun’s Regional victory of 2000, in which he piloted”Sexy Rector” to the win in the Chicago region. This was a unique and quite rogue deck for the tournament — and Ped, one of the great ambassadors of the game, did an exceptional job in both choosing and piloting the deck. I hope that a mock cleric deck of that nature would happen to get played at the Invitational, whether it’s my version or one designed by someone else.

The deck is both intricate and powerful. As the format presses toward creature-heavy decks one that can thematically pull off what this one does – mass creature removal – has something to offer. Wiping the board with some wrath-like effect, either from Wrath of God itself or from False Prophet, and then returning by preaching for a little”conversion” through Treachery (and aren’t those guys seen as treacherous by their former mates?) or Confiscate is usually a big swinger in board position. Interesting, fun, and powerful enough that I think it would be really great to see something like this piloted at the event.

The Locals

Well, since around the time of Regionals – and even counting that event – things have been pretty good for me Magicwise. I start 3-1 at Regionals before dropping the next two, then forget to drop out before going to see about”the flat” to end up 3-4. Downfall? I listen to too much net talk on the”death of skies” and ditch my anti-island sideboard for the R/W”God” deck. I go 2-1 vs. Fires, but lose whenever the Islands show. It’s here that it kinda hits me that I don’t make too many play mistakes, but am feeling lost where sideboarding is concerned.

Prior to Regionals, I go to a pretty hot local tourney that many were using for a regional tune-up and take a rogue U/G deck. I go 4-0 in the swiss, defeating the gracious Dr. Ped along the way, before I gaffe and lose to the area’s top-ranked player Kyle Kloeckner. I do have an excuse, as my loving wife walked in the store with a combo of Plague Spitter, Seal of Removal, and a Bird of Paradise that I needed on the board next turn when I say”go” dies before I return the Spitter to Kyle’s hand. I do, however, pick up some needed ratings points to keep me away from the dreaded 1400s.

Team Sealed is a 2-2 wash without much to be said. I play well enough, but can’t overcome some bomb cards that I can’t match. I pull into the GPQ after the team drops and go 0-3. Verily, there are bumps in the road. Why? Because, out of what has been my more normal mode, I make a lot of mistakes and they will really cost you.

I take pretty much the same”Dark Solution” deck to the Block PTQ and start 5-0, only losing two games in twelve before bowing out in three to the eventual champ. This provides me with what is probably the somewhat rare hundred-point day.

I take my Magpile deck south and go 4-0 in the swiss, and then win a round in the finals before losing to second-turn Scuta game one and an uncounterable turn 2 Ritual-fueled Persecute in game two.

Where is this all leading? Well, it’s just a pattern that makes me feel that I’m getting better and I’d attribute that to several things that go together.

My team is very good. Not that we are world beaters by any stretch of the imagination, but Mike, Scott, Jay, and Carl are all very worthy players and excellent people to be on a team with. We all get along. We have fun. We share cards. And most importantly, we get to practice playing in a good environment. We get constructive criticism. This is all key. And we get inspiration. I mean I do even if it’s often shared with the world. You want to be inspired. Read Mike Mason articles here on Star City.

These things were, I feel, the biggest part of the reason that I now feel I’m at least a respectable player… And in some places, I’m even the 800-pound gorilla.

So I would tell you that if I could offer no other advice, it would be to try and get yourself on a good team. Get your friends and play. Work on your game while you do it. The single thing that will make you better is to play and play right. That means taking criticism and taking it to heart. This doesn’t mean that every bit of advice is going to be right, but you have to listen to it like it may well be the best thing for you… Because it might. You have to impart to your teammates that you are serious and can listen as well as talk. That you appreciate that at worst, they are trying to help. Talk is cheap. It’s far better to take your lumps from a teammate if they are going to save you from taking them later.

You also might get to feel good about telling a bunch of Pros that testing has revealed that Blurred Mongoose is the proverbial”some good” in the block format, while they didn’t seem to be getting the same picture. Or sharing a good chuckle when Zvi Mowshowitz sez things like,”Indentured Djinn just wins this matchup.” Or nod your head knowingly when he wishes that the Absorbs in his”Solution” deck did three points to his opponent while also knowing your teammates are doing the same.”We” are, at least, so very rogue…