Last-Minute Preparations

I now know the nature of hell. I’m figuratively living in a whirlwind right now, and it’s a little tough to keep my head on straight. There is no causal connection between those two things. I don’t know if you’ve seen the videos of people who’ve had the halves of their brains separated by accident…

I now know the nature of hell. I’m figuratively living in a whirlwind right now, and it’s a little tough to keep my head on straight. There is no causal connection between those two things.

I don’t know if you’ve seen the videos of people who’ve had the halves of their brains separated by accident and can now move their hands independently (drawing circles and squares simultaneously, for example), but that’s about how I’m feeling. I’ve reread this for errors as often as my time constraints permit, but I still feel like I’m going to find paragraphs typed entirely on the left hand. My paranoia grows in leaps and bounds.

I’m currently in the process of hoboing myself. Most of my possessions are tied up in a shambles of a rooming house, and the rent is fast running out. I’m told there will be new boarders taking over what was my space in a matter of days. To complicate matters, I’m not only in another city, but also have no way to transport my personal effects. Never mind the fact that I wouldn’t have anywhere to put them if I did have a way to get to them.

Furthermore, I’ve got some sort of obligation to my employers here at StarCityCCG to deliver some number of words on a regular basis, and I’ve completely disregarded it for most of my exam period. Not that that was a particularly fruitful area of my life for the amount of time I invested, but that’s neither here nor there. The worst part is that while ignoring my fake job as an online columnist, I haven’t managed to obtain a real job to complement it.

So think about all that, and then realize that I’m typing away in an overpriced (but dreary) Internet Cafe, covered in filth from the piles of sheet metal I spent the early morning wading through. Life is grand. I’m sure I could justify that in some way.

The crux of the matter is this: Regionals has leapt out at me, and now I’m two days away from it. So I have the added burden of scrambling to build my deck, scrambling to get a ride, driving myself half-mad to profit myself nothing.

I’m getting anxious just typing it. It’s a little too much to have on one’s plate. How about a joke about kleptomania to take the edge off? No? Let’s carry on then.

The worst thing about the proximity of Regionals is that I invariably begin to doubt my deck’s chances. I’ve come up with more half-baked ideas in the past week than I thought existed. I can’t help it. I look at my projections for the metagame, and I just know that if I’m even close to right my time would be better spent laughing myself sick over the heavy lifting device called a "Manhandler" that was parked in front of the local gas shanty.

Then I get stressed out that if I’m throwing my time away on this fool’s errand, I really shouldn’t bother going. Believe me, the extra weight from the ridiculous state of my life isn’t helping. There’s so many productive, REAL, things I could be doing instead.

But I have a solution!

It involves a lot of stuff. I have to stop thinking about my stupid green control deck with Fallow Earth, Creeping Mold, Plow Under, Desert Twister and Mishra’s Helix (true, there is a similar deck on Mindripper, I discount that to convergent evolution of ridiculous ideas). I need to stop pretending like that’s what I’m going to play.

I’m going to play Mono-Beige. I’ve spent the week completing my sideboard full of stupid cards that won’t buy me a win against the top two decks, and I’m ready to lose!

That’s the other thing. I’m going to this tournament (in Ajax, which I’m sure isn’t a real place. I have a sinking feeling that the highway’s just going to end after so many miles. I’ll be sleeping in the back seat, so I won’t notice, but at least… dear God I’m rambling.) and I’m going to have a great time playing a fun deck that gets to Armageddon eight times after sideboarding. And when (if) I win, that’ll be super, and if I don’t make top eight, I’ll still have spent a rewarding day out with a fabulous group of friends.

Far too often (and this has been said a million times before) I let the anticipation of victory rule me. Knowing that I have a good deck and am a competent player will blind me to the fact that, despite all these things I have going for me, I still have to actually sit down, concentrate on the game, and TRY to win.

I don’t know if you’ve been told, but a lot of being a good player is actually in the play of the game.


When I’m not worrying about the value of a win, and just trying to win, I have a much easier time keeping my concentration on the game. The tournament is the context, the game is the important instance. When I can divorce the game from its surroundings and just play it as I would any other game, I’m more likely to turn the full force of my faculties to it. The result is a better chance at victory.

So the bulk of my preparation has been to mellow out in a serious way, and prepare to have big-time fun. I know this isn’t what you’re looking for, but I hope you’ll take it to heart. Do something instead of playtesting the night before (because, frankly, you should have done that stuff long ago), something fun that’ll let you sleep like the undead, only to wake and zombie your way to the tournament site to feast on your opponent’s brains!

Except for that last part. Go bowling instead.

It’s foolish of me to advise you all to have fun, because none of you are interested in it. Just give it a try. If worse comes to worse, you’ll have to qualify at meatgrinders, and that’s not exactly squandering your wee hours slicing yourself on rusty garbage, like certain web columnists I know.

Next week I hope to have a less-than-squalid place to live and a stable internet connection. If so, expect a tournament report.

Josh Bennett