Magic Online Musings: This Week on MTGO #26

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Blisterguy returns semi-triumphantly from his National Championship… back-to-back top 8 performances in consecutive years is not to be sniffed at. He shares the fun of the competition, plus his usual breakdown of the Magic Online Metagame and trade rooms.

Heh, I can’t complain. Sixth place is hardly a bad run, but it’s not quite the fourth place I pulled off last year. Mind you, after driving halfway up and down the country in the process, I think I would still be too worn out to complain if I had somehow walked away with a gapping gunshot wound, three empty chocolate bar wrappers, and a chipped toenail. Back-to-back Top 8s is a gift horse, and I’m trying to look anywhere but the mouth.

But hey, if this is a tournament report then Dr. Seuss is an encyclopedia. Anything I’ve got to say about the past weekend can’t really be summed up in any of that round-by-round nonsense, so I’ll just speak a little about stuff in some strange order that you’ll probably need some kind of decoder ring to decipher.

The People.

What I enjoy most about Nationals is catching up with the people I only see once or twice a year. Some of these people have become good friends of mine over the years, and finding that fine line between enjoying great company and getting rest before the main event can be a little difficult at times. Many jokes were told, much food was eaten, and I even failed at Dance, Dance Revolution for the first time ever. I was actually somewhat shocked to find that Andrew from Hamilton (he who I unfortunately had to beat in the quarters last year) is actually ranked third in the country for DDR, and is something akin to a dervish on the pads.

When we first wandered into the video games emporium, we saw two young ladies pottering around on the machine together, which gave me some semblance of hope in regards to my own ability on those funky wee light-up pads. Andrew from Hamilton was soon up on the pads himself. After what seemed like a good solid three minutes and punching the buttons on the front to scroll through to what I can only assume is the “suicide by exercise” setting, he then proceeded to bring the entire room to a standstill by blazing across both sets of pads in an endless blur of legs, shoes, wee bolts of lightning, and other such atmospheric effects.

On the Sunday night, Andrew, Leighton, and Jeremy came and hung out with us at the backpackers for a while before they headed back to Hamilton. We received multiple complaints about the noise, including an actual staff member coming up to ask if we were having wrestling matches.

Of course, there’s always the friends who you travel with. It’s not a road-trip if you’re driving on your own. Joining me this year in the car were James (in the back, looking after the bags) and Dave (in the passenger seat, looking after my water bottle). Very much like the evenings spent not playing cards; most of what was said and joked about is basically unprintable on many websites, this one included.

The number of near-death experiences on the way up was kept to a minimum (blisterguy one — red light nil) and the traditional lunch of fish and chips was had in Kaikoura. I mention this because I don’t have very many pictures from this event yet, so here is one of a bunch of us eating said lunch of fish and chips.

yum yum

On the left is me, James (mostly obscured) and Dave (mostly unobscured). Continuing around in a clockwise direction, on the right is Aaron (with the hat, and shoveling food into his food-hole), Big Ogier (actually also called James and also obscured, but lets not confuse things), Little Ogier (Big Ogier’s little brother and, surprisingly enough, also somewhat obscured) and finally Tim (who decided he also wanted to be obscured, and has turned away from the camera). Tall Mike took the picture, and he was kneeling down when he did it. That’s how tall he is.

There were several other members of our play-group, but they elected to fly up to Wellington instead, so therefore they were not invited to partake in our delectable lunch and road-trip experience.

The Deck.

If nothing else, I’m sure you want to know what I played in the Standard portion of the tournament. Luckily for everyone, I had been keeping up with the metagame with you fabulous people each week, so we were pretty much ready to go in that regard. All that remained was to decide on which deck to actually play. Our main concern was obviously Solar Flare, now that it has had a good airing at the U.S. Nationals. It seems that we weren’t the only ones gunning for the Japanese deck, as the Magic Online Premier Events results from this week show.

14 (15) Solar Flare (Blue/Black/White Control)
12 (8) Magnivore (Blue/Red Land Destruction Control)
9 (3) Heartbeat (Heartbeat of Spring/Early Harvest Combo)
8 (1) Simic Snake Aggro Control (Green/Blue)
7 (15) Hand in Hand (Black/White Aggro Control)
6 (5) Boros Deck Wins (Red/White Aggro)
4 (8) Sea Stompy (Green/Red/Blue Aggro Control)
4 (5) Simic Aggro Control (Blue/Green)
4 (2) Selesnya Aggro Control (Green/White Aggro Control)
4 (0) Gruul Beats (Green/Red Aggro)
3 (7) Izzetron (Blue/Red Urzatron Control)
2 (4) White Weenie splash Blue
2 (1) Zoo (Green/White/Red Aggro)
2 (0) Green/Black/Blue Aggro
1 (2) Dimirtron (Blue/Black Urzatron)
1 (2) Azorius Control (Blue/White Control)
1 (1) Unknown 🙁
1 (1) Ghost Dad (Black/White Tallowisp Aggro)
1 (0) Blue/White/Red Firemane Angel Control
1 (0) Izzet Guildmage Combo (see below)
1 (0) Izzet Ninja Aggro (Hiyaaa!)
0 (3) Blue/Red/Green Urzatron
0 (1) Hierarch Control (Green/White/Black Control)
0 (1) Izzet Control (Blue/Red Control)
0 (1) Blue/White/Black Aggro Control
0 (1) Four Color Control
0 (1) Mono Green (Yes really, even Hunted Wumpus)

The Izzet Guildmage Combo deck kills by playing the Guildmage and using it to copy a Desperate Ritual spliced onto Lava Spike many, many times. The copy of the Spell does three damage to the opponent and gives the controller three Red mana to copy it again. The event in which it made Top 8 in had 48 players, so it wasn’t just one of those accidental top 8s that can show up with a 24-player event.

My Magic Online clan (Cymbrogi, obviously) had been testing Solar Flare extensively for weeks, placing two people in the Top 4 of the Australian Nationals Champs a couple of weeks ago. The list finally appearing in the “Standard Decks that done good” portion of the U.S. Nationals coverage after Brandon Scheel piloted it to a 6-1 finish in the Standard part of that event. Dave and I, being flatmates (a term used in this part of the world to describe two people who live in the same house but don’t hold hands and kiss and make babies and stuff.) were all set to play Solar Flare, until we finally decided to build a Zoo deck to bounce off it in some last minute testing.

Grabbing the list that Yann Hamon took to a fourth place finish at the French National Champs, we were stunned to find it brutally capable of killing anyone and anything on turn 4 without breaking a sweat. We took both decks up with us, and after much playtesting the night before, and a little pool to relax, we finally decided to ditch the Slow Control deck in favor of the LOL Fast Smashy Wee Men deck instead. Here is the list we played.

The only changes to Hamon’s maindeck were to replace a Seal of Fire with the fourth Volcanic Hammer, and replace a Forge[/author]“]Battlefield [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author] with the basic Forest. The Forest was a good idea, as the manabase was easily able to stretch to accept it to help bolster the Kird Ape front, or more importantly, the back. The original mana base had fourteen White and Red sources, but only twelve Green ones. While the deck needs those first two a whole lot more than the Green, having to play out a 1/1 Kird Ape is never a good time, and the change never cost either of us. I do think swapping the Seal for a Hammer was a mistake. This came from most of our testing being against Solar Flare, where the Seals obviously don’t do as much damage to a Court Hussar as say, a Volcanic Hammer. We found very quickly that we both like killing little Llanowar Elves and Birds of Paradise all weekend, so the fourth Seal would have been gravy.

Speaking of the Seals, I managed to forget to bring my Nemesis ones. The rest of my deck was very attractive, probably at least an eight out of ten and definitely someone you would totally call back after the first date. I had Arabian Nights Kird Apes, First Edition Portal Volcanic Hammers and Ice Age Pain Lands, but somehow I was stuck with the vastly inferior Dissension Seal of Fires. To make matters worse, Dave did remember to bring his Nemesis Seals, and no matter how much I pleaded with him, he wouldn’t lend them to me. What a punk! My only consolation is that while I couldn’t quite match my fourth place finish from last year, Dave certainly did, and our house now has two “Second Runner Up” trophies. Once I find where I put my one, anyway.

Now Dave and I weren’t the only ones from our entourage to do well this weekend either. Luke, (who beat me last year in the third/fourth playoff) managed to upgrade his finish to second place with the Counterpost deck played by Daniel Piechnick at the Australian Nats, and Tim (from the lunch photo above) managed to win it all with his Heartbeat deck. The Top 8 pairings were even nicely spread so that none of us were playing each other. Unfortunately, I ruined the possibility of an all-Christchurch National Team by having a couple of unspectacular draws against Bear, who I consider to be the best player in the Top 8 by a long stretch.

Before I leave you all again, here are the prices for this week. There was so little movement, I actually felt cheated after having taken all that time doing the information gathering needed to bring you this stuff. Stupid dealers, learn to fluctuate your prices more! Anyway, here’s the blurb while I sulk some.

The numbers shown, for instance, as 2-4, are the price people are buying the card for, followed by the price people are selling the card for. The prices shown in parenthesis, like this (2-4), are the prices from last week. If a card and its prices have been bolded, it’s because there has been a change in price from the week before to help you differentiate those cards from the others that are a little more… static in their movements. Card prices are in Tickets, because that’s what most people buy and sell with on Magic Online. Also note that prices can fluctuate based on the time of day as well, depending on just how many people are online selling at the time. Due to my uniquely antipodean location down here in the Pacific, and my tendency to hold down a regular nine-to-five job, the prices below end up being more of a general indication of what’s going on than an exact science.

Pithing Needle 14-16 (14-16)
Umezawa’s Jitte 7-9 (7-9)

Cranial Extraction 4-6 (4-6)
Dark Confidant 3-4 (3-4)
Persecute 1-2 (1-2)

Meloku the Clouded Mirror 3-5 (3-5)
Keiga, the Tide Star 3-5 (3-5)

I can’t believe none of the cards have changed in value so far… how unexciting. I was even going to end that sentence with an exclamation mark, but then I realized that not a particularly good way of expressing unexcitement, so I decided against it.

Simic Sky Swallower 5-6 (5-6)
Voidslime 4-5 (4-5)
Giant Solifuge 3-4 (3-5)
Loxodon Hierarch 3-4 (3-5)
Burning-Tree Shaman 2-3 (2-4)
Ghost Council of Orzhova 2-3 (2-4)

LOL the Elephant started it, nobody look at the Elephant in the room omg.

Birds of Paradise 4-5 (4-5)

Demonfire 3-5 (3-5)
Wildfire 3-4 (3-4)
Magnivore 2-4 (2-4)

Oh wait, they’ve stopped again.

Wrath of God 9-11 (9-10)
Paladin en-Vec 6-7 (6-7)
Yosei, the Morning Star 3-5 (3-5)

I should learn to keep my mouth shut.

Breeding Pool 12-14 (13-14)
Hallowed Fountain 10-11 (10-11)
Shivan Reef 9-10 (8-10)
Steam Vents 9-10 (8-10)
Godless Shrine 8-9 (7-9)
Blood Crypt 7-9 (7-9)
Stomping Ground 7-8 (7-8)
Caves of Koilos 6-7 (6-7)
Yavimaya Coast 5-7 (5-7)
Temple Garden 5-6 (5-7)
Watery Grave 5-6 (5-6)
Overgrown Tomb 5-6 (5-6)
Sacred Foundry 5-6 (5-6)
Adarkar Wastes 4-6 (4-6)
Forge[/author]“]Battlefield [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author] 4-5 (4-6)
Karplusan Forest 3-5 (3-5)
Llanowar Wastes 3-5 (3-5)
Brushland 3-5 (3-5)
Underground River 3-5 (3-5)
Sulfurous Springs 3-4 (3-5)

For those of you who made it this far, I have a wee treat for you! Just before we all loaded into our vehicles for the drive home, I managed to wrestle Tim’s decklist out of him. It was a hard fight, and chairs were thrown and teammates tagged in and pranced about the ring in a theatrical fashion before I finally pried the list from his fingers.

4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
4 Drift of Phantasms
1 Maga, Traitor to Mortals

4 Sensei’s Divining Top
4 Remand
4 Muddle the Mixture
1 Rampant Growth
4 Early Harvest
4 Heartbeat of Spring
3 Kodama’s Reach
1 Recollect
1 Savage Twister
1 Weird Harvest
1 Crime/Punishment
1 Invoke the Firemind

12 Forest
8 Island
1 Mountain
1 Swamp

3 Gigadrowse
3 Spell Snare
1 Rending Vines
4 Bottled Cloister
2 Savage Twister
1 Crime/Punishment
1 Research/Development

Some of you may have noticed that I didn’t mention my Draft decks from Nationals anywhere in here. Let’s put it this way… the first one had three Watchwolves in it (and one guy chose to draw after winning the roll, poor wee fella), and the other one I hope to bring you pictures of next week, while it is on fire (Worst. Draft. Ever.) Anyway, take care until then, at which time you shall get completely reckless and stuff!