We are now at the historic moment where I have written more”Multiplayer Is An Art” articles than that I am old – in years, anyway. And ain’t it great? It’s amazing. But I’m not going to celebrate it, because it doesn’t really mean anything. There.
And now over to translating the title for all you barbarians who cannot speak Dutch:
You foreigners all have gaming conventions, which I know only by name; I think that things like GenCon and Origins would fall in such a category. But here in the much smaller Netherlands, there aren’t that many conventions, and nor are there Pro Tours to gather people.
The largest tournament we have is Grand Prix: Amsterdam. Yes, it’s grander than Nationals. I once played against Zvi at that Grand Prix. He talked like a waterfall. I also played Stephan Valkeyser once, and I won that one. That was during my first time at the Grand Prix, which gained me about 100 rating points. What a shame that the amateur prizes weren’t handed out back then like they are now, for I ended up 50th overall, having scrubbed out at day two.
GP A’dam is always Sealed. During my first day there, I had a Rancor, Multani, Maro-Sorceror, Vile Requiem, Boneshredder, Witch Engine, Mother of Runes, two Cessations, and a Claws of Gix…. Complemented by a score of large treefolk and quick Wild Dogs. Needless to say, it was quite a good deck. I remember being 4-0 with it – which was quite the feat for me, being the provincial little boy that I was back then.
During the second day, I got not just one, but two Rancors! Could anything stop me now? Yes, it could. The only creatures I had were things like Unworthy Dead and Archivist. My best hope was for a Thran War Machine to get Rancored up – but to no avail. It never happened. My Archivist did dish out twenty damage in four turns, though, when it – as my sole creature – drew me into a Rancor, I considered giving up drawing an additional card each turn, for my opponent had nothing to block a 3/1 Archivist with… But I decided that the two cards per turn would soon enough give me another thing to swing with, so I kept on drawing. One turn later, I drew into my second Rancor, yet still no other creature was in sight. So I decided to create a real nasty Archivist, which would eventually serve for twenty. That was both sad and hilarious.
I remember losing my first round to a deck that seemed like it was of Constructed quality. On turn 1, a Phyrexian Reclamation was cast at the other end of the table. Dang. That’s not good a thing to see when it’s not under your control. On turn 3, my Weatherseed Fairies got Boneshreddered. That was even worse: a retrievable Shredder! What was I to do? Kill with my only black creature, the Unworthy Dead – and his friend the Thran War Machine? That was not gonna happen. Turn 4 saw an Avalanche Rider sledding down my only Forest.
Great; recurable land destruction. I really felt my opponent needed an advantage.
I felt sorry for my opponent, for he was only at eight life when I had no creatures, two lands, and ten life. I was still ahead in life, and he could use his Reclamation only three more times. Fortunately, he drew Radiant’s Dragoons. Now he could recur everything ad infinitum. Is that fair? Did he really pull that out of his starter deck and his two boosters? That’s great. For him, at least. The second game saw a turn 1 Reclamation, turn 3 Shredder. The Planar Void tech I sided in against his Reclamation-tech never reached my hand.
Sure, I lost that one.
I did decently during the remaining rounds, though. Had I been victorious in the last game (it was 1-1) I would even have won about 200 dollars – quite the amount for a schoolboy with no jobs! But for some reason I forgot to play the Intervene that was to counter his Vampiric Embrace, which killed me before I could alpha strike for the win. For the win and the money.
I just forgot to play it. I had mana. I had the card in my hand.
You have just read some kind of tournament report from a tournament that held place about four-and-a-half years ago. Call it a digression, for the only point I was trying to make is that the Games Spectacle, the Spellenspektakel, is the largest annual convention held in the Netherlands. And I was there, working for The Labyrinth as”head collectable card games-division” or something like that. It was good fun.
I got handed a load of binders, stocked Magic and with lesser games (like Pokedemon and Dragonball Z). I got handed cases and cases of display boxes. I got handed sleeves and other miscellaneous items. I also got some RPG books to fill the remaining space with. And last, but not least (Pokemon was least): I got some cash, for change and to buy cards with.
The mission: Make sure that the total value of your goods will be more at the end of the day.
Got it. I can do that.
I went about selling boxes, selling boosters and selling singles. I bought Grinning Demons for one Euro less than I sold them.
“That’s a ridiculously small margin of profit, Stijn.”
“Yes. Yes, it is. But it’s still profit – and when I do it five times, I have five times as much profit. And when I give somebody a lot of money for his Wooded Foothills, he will be more willing to part with it.”
I did quite well… Which means that I made more profit than that the rent of the stand, combined with my wage, had cost the Labyrinth.
After the whole three-day trial was over, we went to some American-style grill restaurant. Now you Americans might be a people that send men across the ocean to defend democracy, and you produce very few people who will bother to cross the street to vote… But you do know how to grill slain animals and season them. I was well fed.
You know you’ve been playing too much magic when you start wondering how much red mana you would get from tapping the Mount Everest.
I saw a blue Hurricane. For 8000. I saw a perfectly mint set of Beta power nine. For 3200. I saw three hard-cover R. A. Salvatore novels for 22, which I immediately bought. Now I lack only one book about Drizzt to complete my collection.
But the one thing that I did not see – even though I wished to see it very badly – was a set of Mishra’s Workshops. I wanted to build a type one deck known as TnT, Tools and Tubbies (An article was written about this deck recently, by Matt D’Avanzo and another guy whose name I have forgotten, so he must be using a nickname when posting at themanadrain.com.) (Actually, we have it as Jacob Orlove, but perhaps he’s referring to something else – The Ferrett) I wanted to build it for about half a year now, even before great additions to the deck – like Wonder and Anger – made the deck jump into prominence. I had all the cards necessary for it, except the Black Lotus, some of the Moxen and the four Workshops. So my prime objective of the breaks I would get was going out to buy four Workshops. But it was not to be.
“Do you have any Mishra’s Workshops?”
“Never even had some.”
“Might you have any Mishra’s Workshops for sale?”
“You’re the third one to ask – and the answer’s still no, unfortunately.”
“You wouldn’t happen to have four Mishra’s Workshops for sale, would you?”
“Nope, haven’t had those for a while.”
“Then where are they?”
“I guess people are just hoarding them.”
So I retreat to my own stand and start working again. This guy comes up and asks whether I want to buy some cards from him.
“Only if they’re Mishra’s Workshops.”
“Oh, I’ve got me four of those. From Antiquities.”
“Well! Then I might just be interested in them!”
“How much’re ye willing to offer?”
“150 for the lot of them?”
(I figured that when it’s cheaper than here at Starcitygames, it must be a good deal for me.)
“150? Mister, you’ve got yourself a deal.”
So the guy starts looking through his binder, trying to find his Workshops so that I could check their mintness and stuff like that. When he found them, he offered them to me with a smile of pride on his face:
“Look, all the four different seasons.”
“Man, those are Mishra’s Factories – not Workshops! I do not want factories filled with nasty cookie-baking elves. I want warm and Eco-friendly Workshops!”
“Oh, sorry, dude. I figured 150 to be quite a lot of money for the Factories, but I just thought you were a ravenous collector or something like that.”
“Oh well; better luck next time.”
You know you’ve been playing too much Magic when you stay up all night, debating with your friends about which colors you should be when you would become a multicolored legend.
That little jiffy with the Workshop/Factory mix-up repeated itself about four times – why do people confuse those cards? Do people confuse Phyrexian Arena and Phyrexian Marauder? No, they don’t. Do people confuse Urza’s Science Fair Project and Urza’s Rage? No, they do not. Do people confuse Verdant Force and Verdant Succession? Nope, they don’t. Sorrow’s Path and Dregs of Sorrow? Pale Moon and Blood Moon? Force of Will and Force of Nature? Ancestral Recall and Ancestral Knowledge? Mons’s Goblin Raiders and Mox Pearl (thanks, Pete)? Black Lotus and Black Carriage?
“I’ll pay you 600 for your mint black bordered Black Lotus.”
“All righty, then!”
“No man, that’s a Black Carriage. The raw material used up to make that card was worth more than the final product.”
“Oh, I thought you were really going to give me over two months of scholarship grants just for that worthless Homelands rare.”
“I wish I got that much grants…Oh wait, I do. Well, do you mind playing a deck with four proxied Workshops?”
And then the man dished out this fully-powered Keeper deck. For those of you not familiar with the archetype: Keeper is the name usually given to the five-color control deck in type I that is widely considered to be the best deck ever, because it has no really bad match-ups. Oscar Tan wrote a whole big lot about it, and it is a wonderful deck to behold in action. I’ve read entire essays and discussions on it, but I never saw one in the wild. But now I saw one, with a full score of Beta duals, Beta power, English Mana Drains and Foiled Vampiric Tutors. The only thing that struck me as odd was the Lim-Dûl’s Vault he played; that’s not a card which is often seen in those kinds of decks, but he played it nevertheless. And let me tell you, it is a very unnerving feeling when your opponent has just arranged the top five cards of his library while having five cards in his hand and six mana sources in play.
On the other hand, two Goblin Welders and two Juggernauts and a Black Vise and a Mana Crypt, with Triskelion and Phyrexian Colossus and Anger in the graveyard make me overcome such feelings of uncomfortability. I smashed his deck with a decisive 6-0 victory. And not only because I am such a good player (of course I am, otherwise you wouldn’t read me, would you?) but because the deck is so very, very good.
Cast turn 1 Juggernaut, with Workshop and Mox.
Force of Will.
Turn 2 Su-Chi?
Oh well; Taiga, Mox and Survival of the Fittest, then.
Survival: discard Squee for Anger, Colossus, Welder. Cast Welder and Weld Mox into the Colossus. Lotus, Triskelion. Swing for twelve. Gun three to your head. Weld away the Triskelion for another one during my next turn. Those are the turns…
What lunatic thought of this deck? Couldn’t be anybody else than a German now, could it? Mad props.
You know that you’ve been playing too much magic when a professor tells you that a certain dreaded chapter will not be included in the exam, and you answer with a simple:”Mise!”
But let me now take this occasion to rush to the defense of the Black Carriage that I have just so harshly maligned. It is, of course, a 4/4 trampler for, cough, only, cough, 3BB. To compensate for this blatant undercostedness, it doesn’t untap during any of your untap steps. You have to sacrifice a creature during your upkeep to untap it.
The artwork on this card is tremendous, by the way.
Now this potential perpetual untapping ability just screams for abuse, doesn’t it? Let’s not resort to those combo’s that are force-fed to you at magicthegathering.com (some of which were first publicized here in my column). I will not use the Rotlung Reanimator with Artificial Evolution to fuel the Carriage. I will use a combination of cards that I have all intricately described and praised before.
All of the above have already been used and described by me in previous articles. The Carriage is the only new one. Now this is how we do it:
Enchant the Carriage with your Fire Whip, as I hope will be the obvious first move. Then cast all the other permanents, as I also hope will be a clear choice. Then, during your next upkeep, shoot with the Carriage once. Then untap it with the Seeker of Skybreak. Then shoot again. Sacrifice the seeker to untap and gun again. Get a Spirit token. Sacrifice that little white guy to Hell’s Caretaker to get back your Seeker of Skybreak (the one with the original art of DiTerlizzi, of course) and use your Seeker – with haste courtesy of the Fervor – to untap the Caretaker. Then sacrifice the Seeker to the Carriage.
You have now entered Arbitrarily-long-loop mode, go and indulge yourself in Euphoric Puritanical Mysanthropia and kill your fellow player.
How I love this game.
You know you’ve been playing too much magic when you try and block your girlfriend’s advances with a Wall of Resistance.
At a certain moment at the Spellenspektakel, I thought I saw Elrond walking. Long hair of the right color, a typical face, and a ring much like nenya on his finger. I followed the figure to see whether it was really the celebrity I took him for. He went about and then sat down amidst a score of fantastic paintings depicting beautiful landscapes and reclusive hermits. I recognized the man next to him as John Avon, the creator of the two most beautiful pieces of Magic art (forest from portal one, and forest from onslaught). So which artist would this be? Turns out it was Rob Alexander! I had a full score of Dual lands for him to sign, and some other cards as well.
It was a very strange experience to be in his presence, amidst all his wondrous paintings. The man even looked like he walked right out of one of his own paintings. He really took the time to sign my Taigas, Underground Seas, Badlands, and Savannahs, amongst others, with a silver marker. Luckily he has an autograph which is pleasing to the eye. Paolo Parente’s is just, well, dominating to the view, or so to say. Jesper Myrfors makes his autograph into an expansion symbol, and at the right place too. My Bayous, Scrubland[/author]“][author name="Scrubland"]Scrublands[/author], Tropical Islands, and Tundras are all signed by him, so they have a pretty silver expansion”J-M.”
Now I only need to meet Drew Tucker and Mark Poole for the Plateaus and the Volcanic Islands.
People say I’m crazy for letting other people scribble on my expensive dual lands (some beta), but I reply in the same fashion every time:”It’s not like I’m going to get rid of them anymore. I will keep these forever.”
I have the full set, and have at least one of them in my hands everyday. They fuel about fifteen of my decks, for I swap them all the time. I swap them because they’re too expensive to have more than forty of them. And because I own them for a really long time, I feel like the investment has long since repaid itself. I remember pulling some of them from boosters that cost less than 2. I remember buying the rest for 7, or 9 a year later. Now they’re worth something like 15. But they’re all signed, safe eight. Does this devaluate them? Hell no – not to me, at least. I feel like I’ve personalized them – and I should, for I use them more often than, say, Counterspell and Disenchant combined.
But what I really wanted to tell about Alexander was how cordial he was. He seemed really glad that I took such joy in him signing my cards. He seemed to appreciate seeing me watching my signed cards with reverence, cradling them in my cupped hands to let the ink dry.
Should he have had the original art of Taiga with him, than I would surely have bought it. Ditto for Underground sea. Taiga just symbolizes Vastness for me. Vastness and purity. That picture just looks completely unspoiled. Drawing mana from a Taiga is something that I do with great joy. Mana from a Taiga feels just a little bit better than regular mana. It’s a godless savage garden. That picture has been with me for almost ten years. That’s more than half of my life! Can you imagine that such a picture really moves me?
Elder mountains resting in my sight, by chilling woods I stand.
The grimness of the naked winds, is all that ever shall be heard from here.
Immortal – Blashyrkh Battles in the North
This is also a reason that I like the TnT deck so much. It has four Taigas and four Land Grants and a Wooded Foothills to find them. That’s nine chances for a Taiga. And Red/Green was my favorite kiddy combination. Craw Wurms and Lightning Bolts, baby – yeah!
Underground Sea is another story. That picture symbolizes mystery and power. Look at it, it is endless. And can you imagine an entire Ocean Underground? Can you really lose when you control an Underground sea? I think not. It houses Vesuvan Doppelgangers… But in its dark corners lurk Royal Assassins. It fuels Control Magics, and combined with others they can produce the very Spirit of the Night (making the heavens weep crimson tears). An Underground Sea in play makes me feel more confident. Even though there may be no particular reason for that. It just radiates secrecy and might. When a mage controls an Underground sea, he must truly be mighty. Should you face one, run fast and run far.
Among these seas, wherein I drowned so may times,
I scatter the ashes of destiny, but still my flame is in hunger.
Emperor – With Strength I burn Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk
Well, that would be an impressionistic recount of my experiences at the Spellenspektakel. There’s only one question lingering through my mind:Is the Mox Jet round, or does it have a bulge in the center? Look at how the light falls and breaks, just away from its rim, yet still round. And the same way it is on the other side. Most people look at it, and because the picture is so simple, they quit looking at it very soon. To soon to notice that the thing is not perfectly round. It’s round in people’s minds, because they’ve been thinking it for years. But just look at it again. Look hard and hard. Do you notice that the light breaks at an odd manner?
You know you’ve been playing too much Magic when you spend hours debating the roundness of a Mox.
I was called a heretic when I first told this at the Labyrinth – but now I have a number of believers at my side. Together we’re forming the Bulged Mox Jet Front (BMJF). What do you think about it? Is it round, or does it have a bulge on top? Should you find definitive evidence, please let me know. Should you be Dan Frazier, please let me know what you intended to draw. Thank you.
You know when you’ve been playing too much Magic when you get mad at the robber not because he took your stuff, but just because he didn’t declare attackers.
Stijn van Dongen,
Send Bulged-Mox-confessions to [email protected]