Yesterday’s installment was almost content-free. It gets better. To sum up, after years of being unable to connect, I finally got to play Magic Online. I have a budget of $100 per month, plus a little more in special circumstances. I had my account and was ready to go.
Time to spend.
As a brand new player, I really had no chance of playing in Constructed tournaments or rooms, at least not until I built up some sort of collection. ("IN THIS CORNER, weighing in at over $500.00, the terror of the format … ARCBOUND RAVAGER! And IN THIS CORNER, weighing in at $9.99, the Life gain precon with 20 random cards added in." No, I don’t think so.) However, I am, and have always been, a Constructed player. For the longer term, I wanted to get my hands on older cards. I figured I would concentrate on getting Mirrodin block cards at first, because that set would rotate out soon. I also decided to get some 8th Edition cards, because I was going to need the basics sooner or later. I may never be competitive in Online Extended, but I may be able to play singleton or multiplayer in a year or two.
At the online store, you can buy booster packs and tournament packs from Mirrodin and Kamigawa block, and 8th Edition boosters. You can just buy packs and bust them, but that’s not cost effective. You can also buy precons, but that’s not very cost effective, either. With boosters, you can get into sealed tournaments or drafts, while precons just give you cards. Boosters is the way to go – although I expect to be buying or trading for individual cards in the future.
The best bang for your buck – other than free Constructed games in the casual rooms – is in league play. Leagues are Sealed Deck tournaments that run over a month’s time. You win points for your record in the first few matches per week, and can play as many matches as you want. You also get to add a booster every week, which gives you an incentive to spend more, but also keeps your deck fresh and interesting in the process.
I decided to buy the cards to get into three leagues: one Mirrodin block league, one 8th Edition league and a Champions league. The total, with tax, was a bit under $65. Two thirds of my allowance gone, but I can play at least 80 matches that count for prizes, and as many other matches for fun as I can fit in.
I also decided to get into a draft or two, to try out online drafting. I only manage to draft 3-5 times a month in real life, so I’m not that good, but Ingrid and I have won a pretty good collection of FNM foils. The plus side to drafts is that I can occasionally do well and win some stuff, and maybe rare draft a bit. The downside to drafting is that a draft can consist of spending $13.50 for a chance to play two games. Drafts are single elimination.
I decide to bust Mirrodin first.
I go to the leagues list and find a league that is in its first week of play. I hit join, check the window that will spend the product, cross my fingers for an Isochron Scepter, Eternal Witness, Darksteel Colossus and a Tooth and Nail. Some good stuff, please!
I figure I’m sick, and it’s my first open, and I’m feeling miserable, so the fates should give me some good cards. Now I know how few MD5 cards are actually playable in Constructed, but how bad can my opens really be? I mean, at the very least, I can score some Constructed worthy commons or uncommons. I’m sick, but good cards will make me feel better.
I scritch my dogs for luck, and give them a cookie. (That’s very lucky. For the dogs, at least.)
I hit join. I’m not feeling any better. I go curl up on the couch under a blanket and fall asleep. I have a nightmare.
In my dream, I open my stuff and my rares are Broodstar, Liar’s Pendulum, Door to Nothingness, Tower of Eons and Forge[/author]“]Darksteel [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]. I look for Constructed worthy uncommons and see only Clock of Omens, Dead-Iron Sledge, Gemstone Array and double Bloodscents. I look for playable commons – for any card that I have put into a Constructed deck at any time since Mirrodin became legal. Anything other than the Frogmite and 2 artifact lands that are trash, since Wizards just banned Ravager and friends. I find a grand total of Echoing Decay, Reap and Sow and a Shatter.
What a nightmare.
Fortunately, I wake up. I pull back the blanket and stagger back to the computer. I look at my real cards and see… a nightmare. The same nightmare.
Every have those dreams where you dream you are waking up, but you aren’t? Yeah, like that.
This time I really wake up, pull back the blanket, get up, trip over the dogs and head back to the computer. I look at my real cards and see…
The same stuff.
Okay, I look a bit more carefully. The rares are all bad. The uncommons are still bad, but I spot a Predator’s Strike in there. I had that in a mono-Green deck in Onslaught / Mirrodin T2, so there’s one more Constructed worthy (sort of) card. Then I take a look at the decklist from a sealed deck perspective. For those that are interested in semi-dead formats, here’s the good stuff:
Artifacts: Wizard Replica, Soldier Replica, Synod Centurion, Leaden Myr, Leonin Bola, Conjurer’s Bauble, Mask of Memory, Serum Tank, Vulshok Morningstar, Duskworker, Clockwork Vorrac, Arcbound haste dude, Pewter Golem, Frogmite, Tree of Tales, Vault of Whispers, Sunbeam Spellbomb
I build around the Blue creatures, the three Black removal spells, Shatter and artifact creatures – and 16 lands. My deck is okay, but not great. I figure I’m good if I can stall the ground, and then fly over with the Broodstar. The Replicas and especially the Bola will help stall. Serum Tank and the Bauble will draw cards. The deck is okay. Not broken, but it might have game. I would kill for a couple more Myr or a Talisman.
I have a deck. I save it. (Sometime I’ll have to figure out where that folder is located, but not now.) I go back to the league. I see a list of names – some in red, some black. The red seem to correspond to the avatar sitting at tables, playing. Maybe I learned something. I also discover that I can right click on the player and get some info, like ratings. A few high ratings. A few low ones. Mine’s 1600. Surprise.
Some people also have comments in their info boxes. I check out settings – appearance, and add one of my own. A Dorothy L. Sayers quote – her detective’s motto. I’m so literate. I check my info – and there it is. No one will ever get it.
Actually, checking ratings is boring, so I click on the play button. Up pops the play panel with dice rolling. I win the roll.
I won’t go into the details of this match. I had a lot of stuff, but this excerpt says it all:
"…my opponent’s Chimney Imp."
In the second match I face an opponent who is trying to increase his tie-breakers. He has won all his for-points matches. He has Electrostatic Bolt and Magma Jet and Grab the Reins and Spikeshot Goblin and mana acceleration and lots of Myr and bombs galore. I remember watching my opponent moving Loxodon Warhammer from Neurok Spy to Spikeshot Goblin back in an MMD draft, too. I didn’t win that one either.
I also learn how to set the game so that it always okays the Mask trigger. When the trigger is on the stack, right click on the pseudospell and you get some options. Click on "always yield to ~this~" and you don’t have to waste time clicking okay every time. (Actually, I learned this in a later game, but I’ll mention it here.)
I got bored with MD5 and decided to crack my CHK product. I checked out the leagues, found one in its first week and tried to join. Nothing. No join button. Some swearing and head scratching later I discovered that leagues max out at 256 players. I was trying to join a full league. I find one that isn’t full and join up.
Cross my fingers – come on good rares!
Blah. From a Constructed mentality – blah. Two – count them, two – Myojin of Wrath of God. He Who Hungers. (If I feed him, will he go away? And give me something useful?) And two Uyos. Sire of the Storm. 2 Kodama’s Might. Glacial Ray. Teller of Tales. Hinder. Burr Grafter. Red, Blue and Green Zuberas. Orochi Leafcaller. Hearth Kami. No Elders, Reach or other mana fixers, and no draw other than a Reach through Mists and double Counsel of the Soratami. I’ll have to do the land the hard way, although the Leafcaller could help color problems. Not a lot of little stuff (and I would kill for a River Kaijin) but if I run 18 land and don’t die quickly, it should work.
I play around with the deck a bit, but soon fall asleep at the keyboard. Ingrid finds me and drags me off to bed. I’m done for today.