Ravnica Allegiance, The Magic Pro League, And Me

Brad has had many successful years of pro Magic, so why was he about to give it all up? And why didn’t he? He’s got previews to discuss, but he can’t do that without telling you the truth about his role in Magic and where it’s going now!

Today I’m trying something new by intertwining storytelling and card
evaluation. 2019 is going to be an exciting year for Magic, and I want
to explore all things creative as I find my place in the new landscape
of this game. Playing it safe was so 2018!

In June 2018 I punted two matches deep into the tournament to finish Pro
Tour Dominaria with an 11-5 finish. I made thousands of dollars,
earned enough Pro Points to achieve Platinum status, and wanted to quit

That’s right.

This was the life changing finish that made me want to end my career as a
Pro Magic Player. Not years of bad finishes or a lack of noticeable growth.
I actually top 8’d back-to-back Team Grand Prix with some of my closest
friends the weekends leading up to the Pro Tour. In a three-week span, I
won $7,000, gained nineteen Pro Points, locked up another year of Platinum
status, and never wanted to touch another Magic card ever again.

It’s a discombobulating feeling to do what thousands only dream of yet
still be unhappy. I struggled with this idea for weeks. You see, I wanted
to Top 8 that Pro Tour so badly because that would help lock up an invite
to the Magic Hall of Fame. Achieving this honor was my everything. It was
what I was working towards, and I failed. Now, Hall of Fame season was
about to come, and I wouldn’t have great chances. The thought of “there’s
always next year” eventually took over and I went back to my normal life
after working through my internal issues. It was still difficult to not
feel like I had one foot out the door though, and I began operating on….

The Azorius keyword from Ravnica Allegiance is quite interesting.
Addendum screams “spells matter” which makes sense as spells do tend to
matter when playing the blue/white color combination. There’s more to
it if you think about the difference between instants and sorceries
though. Instants tend to be slightly less powerful than sorceries as
they benefit from being able to be played at any time and eek out value
while sorceries get to do the really powerful stuff and heavy lifting
during a game of Magic. That said, there’s still plenty of reasons why
playing at instant speed is still a winning strategy to execute in

  • Holding up many unique spells during your opponent’s turn
    gaining you more options.

  • Getting to wait for more information before making plays.

  • Causing opponents to take actions with imperfect

  • Getting to play counterspells, because deep down you’re a
    cruel person who hates fun.

These are the key selling points for my favorite Modern deck: Jeskai
Control. The strategy is to play a land and pass the turn if the window
for winning the game is not a possibility. Turn after turn Jeskai
Control patiently waits, gaining as much information as possible before
making a decision. This often forces the opposition to execute
decisions into open mana, all while having less information. As a
result, virtual card advantage is gained through these exchanges.

Jeskai Control isn’t a powerful deck, though. There are many strategies
in Modern that just overpower the deck if they aren’t susceptible to
the traps set by Snapcaster Mage. Often, a game can go so long that
both players resources are only what they draw off the top of their
deck. In these situations, instants lose some of their value as they
tend to be slightly weaker than sorceries, and the ability to wait
around to gain virtual card advantage is lost.

That’s what makes addendum so interesting. You get the utility of
instant spells but also the higher power level of sorceries. For
example, let’s look at Sphinx’s Insight.

This card is worse than Inspiration on the surface as it needs to be
played in two colors as opposed to one, but the added value of gaining
some life in the process is pretty nice. The same can be said about
comparing this card to Concentrate. Two life is worse than an extra
card, but you can play Sphinx’s Insight on your opponent’s turn. It’s
difficult to know if it’s good enough for Standard, but we’ve been
casting Revitalize for some time now, so it’s not out of the question.

The last point about addendum that’s interesting to me is that it
functions so nicely with acceleration. Often, instants are worse than
sorceries in decks with mana acceleration as you’ll end up playing them
at sorcery speed anyway since you’ve taken the turns to develop your
mana earlier. Mana acceleration typically doesn’t find its way into
Azorius type decks, but randomly Standard has a planeswalker who rather
enjoys you playing cards on your turn, so sure!

Teferi is the perfect card to go alongside addendum spells. You get to
hold up these spells while also protecting yourself with counterspells,
but once Teferi is online, you get the added bonuses of these addendum
cards while also continuing to hold up mana. That’s what some would
call “having your cake and eating it too!”

Hall of Fame was my everything because at the time it was Pro Magic’s
everything. The game hadn’t changed in over a decade. Sure, things would
shift around, but everything was the same since I started playing the game
on its greatest stage. I would prepare for Pro Tours with teams, write
articles, play in Grand Prix, and hope to get to Platinum and Worlds. Year
after year this was my life, and I was getting bored of it even though I
was on the top of my game for four years running. I still loved aspects of
it all, but the grind had gotten to me and I was left wanting more.

At least I had the World Championship to look forward to – a tournament
held once a year that I always dreamed of playing in when it was first
unveiled. Luckily for me all my hard work paid off and for the fourth year
in a row I found myself qualified for this event. It was the biggest stage
with the brightest lights. The pinnacle of Magic competition. I tested hard
for this tournament alongside my KMC-Genesis teammates, Seth Manfield and
Brian Braun-Duin. I took a very risky deck to the tournament, but I wanted
to go big or go home.

Little did I know that the proper strategy was to just go home.

Rakdos sure does love putting on a show, and spectacle is right on
theme. This keyword screams “velocity,” as every card with it only gets
better when you’re already damaging your opponent, which just so
happens to be exactly what Rakdos wants to be doing. “You may play
those cards” is so much better than casting them as it means you can
play the lands exiled by Light Up the Stage, pushing it from being
pretty interesting to potentially game-changing.

Another great feature of Light up the Stage is that you have next turn
to play the spells which allows you to cast the more expensive cards
exiled this way. Normally that’s the condition that sucks on cards like
these, as you may not have enough mana left over to get value out of
the card.

It’s still up in the air if Light Up the Stage will see significant
Standard play, as there’s already The Flame of Keld and Experimental
Frenzy in the format, but I’m okay with unique forms of card advantage
being evergreen for red. After all, the size of creatures is only going
up which means that the average red spell doesn’t do as much as it once
did. Red needs interesting ways like this to stay competitive and
doesn’t need more cards like Hazoret the Fervent!

On the morning of the most exciting tournament of the year I was found
patiently waiting on-site doing my morning rituals (you know, drinking more
coffee than one probably should). The room was filled with that tension
that only pre-tournament jitters could create. Suddenly it was broken when
someone said, “Wow, check Twitter.” I pulled up my phone to find that Gerry
Thompson, one of the 24 players in the tournament, wouldn’t be
participating in protest against the Pro Magic structure.

The weekend was strange. At first, I was angry that the best tournament of
the year would get overshadowed by this decision. I worked very hard to get
here and now everything’s going to be so weird. Many chose not to watch the
event in protest, potentially tanking viewership. Who knows, maybe it was
because the formats for the event were older than the pasta in my pantry.
The atmosphere online was not one where I felt comfortable talking about my
tournament progress in fear that the internet would attack me for not
focusing on the topic at hand. I didn’t know what to do or say without
feeling like part of the problem.

There’s not much to say about this card besides how freaking awesome it
is, but I’ll do my best to expand on the idea that this card rocks!
Bedevil is the perfect best-of-one card for Magic, but it will also be
great in a best-of-three environment because it’s just a great card
This will slot into Grixis, Jund, and Rakdos decks as it’s a premium
way to deal with both Planeswalkers and artifacts. These three
strategies know how to beat creatures but can sometimes have a
difficult time with the other two types of permanents.

If I had to make a prediction, I’d say that best-of-one Magic is here
to stay as the exclusive ladder-climbing format on Magic Arena. It
might not be the way I like to play Magic, but I’m willing to evolve
with the game. As long as Wizards of the Coast continues to build great
answers for best-of-one, I’ll give it the old college try and Bedevil
is exactly that!

As the World Championships played out, I kind of just finished my matches
and then waited for more rounds to follow without any excitement at all. It
was all just too much to process.

After the event, I thought about how I too was frustrated with the system
and wanted something to change. I just didn’t know what I actually wanted
but knew I wasn’t willing to sacrifice something that meant so much to me
to try to cause it. At the time I was content with my financial situation
within the system in place, but I knew I was unhappy with the process that
it took to acquire it. Since that was the case, I couldn’t really fault
Gerry for his actions and eventually commended him for them.

I started thinking about ways to enjoy Magic again. You know, get back to
the things that excited me in the earlier years. Arena helped a lot with
this as it was finally a digital program that was fun to play. In fact, the
very first weekend I downloaded it, my fiance’ and I played it for three
days straight! We were blown away at how beautiful Magic could look on a
computer and found the new way to play Magic both fun and exciting. I knew
my pathway to enjoying Magic once again would start there. I began
streaming again and was looking into other ways to enjoy this potentially
new world for Magic. Little did I know this was the same path WotC was on
as well.

First off, I don’t think this card is that good. I say this from
previous experiences with 2UU 4/4 fliers with marginal abilities. We’ve
seen them throughout the history of the game and they just aren’t up to
snuff for Constructed. That said, this reimagining of the “Leyline”
ability is amazing and could be the future of Magic in a best-of-one
world. Hear me out!

Consistency is one of the biggest issues in card games. In Magic right
now, the biggest point of contention in the best-of-one vs
best-of-three debate is that one-game matches are often too high
variance. Sometimes you just don’t get to play a game given how lands
function, which is why something like Sphinx of Foresight can help out
with on turn 1! I’ll just have to wait to see how this card feels when
I try it out, but I’d really love to see this design space toyed with
in the future.

I got a call. One of those that you think will be fairly uneventful so
you’re most susceptible to being caught off guard. Well, I was. Within five
minutes I was told my life was going to be changing. Not a trophy or ring
could have changed things for the better more than this call. Within five
minutes I was told that Magic: the Gathering had plans to set sail for the
esports world and that I had a first-class ticket on its inaugural journey.

What do I do? Where do I begin?” Magic’s changing, I knew that
before, but what do I do now that it is? I started working. On what,
exactly, was effectively chosen at random.

“I needed a new computer, an Instagram, a YouTube channel, graphic
design work. Oh, and I need new clothes if I’m going to look good at
PAX East in March. Do I really need these things? Of course I do!
What’s a Stream Deck?

Who likes Turbo Fog? I think I saw someone in the back there raise
their hand, so I guess we can continue…

Well you’re in luck, one person who raised their hand, because this
card seems great for any deck wanting to ramp into Teferi, Hero of
Dominaria, cast a fog effect, and then eventually take every turn.
Growth Spiral is a very scary card in Standard as it’s an instant-speed
way to develop your mana while also having mana up for reactionary
spells. It’s also hard to play around, as it can threaten Teferi one
turn earlier.

In all honesty, I’m very scared of this card and believe it has the
potential of allowing Turbo Fog to take a stranglehold over best-of-one

That pretty much catches us up to today. I’ve now purchased a new streaming
setup and have been working diligently on absorbing as much information as
I possibly can about the new world Magic’s entering. Sure, I could have
stopped to talk about Absorb too, but do we really need to? It’s a
counterspell that gains you life. It’s good and will get played. “It
counters both sides of Risk Factor.” There, happy?

Anyway, I’m fully engaged with Magic again. I’m excited about the future
like I’ve never been before, and I’m passionate to up my content game like
never before. The future’s bright in Magic once again. The greatest game
ever made has a brand-new look, and I’m excited to see where this all goes.
I’m along for the ride and ready to go! I hated the way I was thinking back
in 2018, and at the time I didn’t really understand why I felt that way.

I do now, though.

I was knowingly off the grind but didn’t know what to do with myself. I
wanted a change but didn’t have a great avenue for it. I wanted to stream,
for example, but hated doing so on Magic Online. I wanted to start a
podcast but didn’t have the passionate foundation needed to make great
content. Instead of trying something new like this, I just clung onto the
way of life that I’d grown tired of. I still loved building decks and
sharing them in my content, but I didn’t enjoy needing to travel 25+ weeks
out of the year to keep my platform. Once home, I was too tired to try new
things or too stressed about upcoming events to worry myself with other
ventures. I’d become trapped in a prison of my own creation.

Where do I begin? Detention Sphere was one of the most powerful cards
in Standard back in the day, but that was also during a time where
Sphinx’s Revelation existed. It’s difficult to compare this card to
that though as Deputy of Detention is a creature with very low power
and toughness. That hasn’t stopped cards like this in the past from
seeing play, so I’d bet this card is going to find its way into decks.
I just don’t know what they will look like just yet.

It’s interesting to imagine a world where Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
isn’t just found in control decks and could settle into an Azorius
Midrange deck. I personally love Azorius Midrange strategies, but
they’re rarely good enough. They also don’t have keywords like addendum
to help with those types of strategies. If you’re interested in Deputy
of Detention, I suggest trying to put this card in decks with Teferi as
the top end of a very permanent-driven strategy.

That time in my life is over now though. WotC started the Magic Pro League
which was exactly what I needed to get me rejuvenated for a brighter future
in both competitive Magic and content creation. I’ve got big plans in place
and can’t wait for them to come to fruition!

Getting these new plans accomplished means being willing to grow and change
though. Starting in 2019, I’ll be leaving Vs Live! as my fiancé and I
prepare to move to Seattle in the upcoming months. I’ve loved my time in
Roanoke, but this is as fitting of a time as any for me to venture onward.
We’re very excited about this decision and look forward to the
opportunities that await us on the West Coast. I’ll still be writing weekly
for Star City Games and will potentially be doing other projects with them
in the future once we’re settled.

My goal this year is to up the ante in everything I do. Even harder-hitting
strategic articles for StarCityGames.com, as entertaining of a stream as I
can make, and a few other ventures I’d rather not spoil just yet. If you’d
like to follow me on my journey, be sure to do so on these platforms.

  • Twitch: FFreakMTG
  • Twitter: FFfreakMTG
  • Instagram: FFfreakMTG
  • YouTube: FFfreakMTG
  • Phone Number: 1-FFF-REA-KMTG (I kid, I kid)

They might not all seem active just yet, but they will be in the very near
future as I slowly work my way into this new esports world. Don’t worry,
though; this article series will continue to be the heart of my content. My
goal is to make sure you’re as prepared as possible for all your upcoming
events, and the best way to do that is right here on this website. If
best-of-one Magic on Arena takes off, I’ll be sure to do my best to educate
you on the best decks to climb the ladder. If tournament Magic stays
best-of-three, I’ll be here with the best sideboard plans in the business.
In short, wherever Magic goes, I’ll be there with the best knowledge I can

2019 is going to be the year of the Bard!