SCG Daily – Diary of an Online nOOb: Day 4

This one is about dogs, Magic, Cephalid Broker decks, and Pete’s first Constructed matches. Oh, and waiting… LOTS of waiting.

This is day four of my adventures with MTGO. I described the telephone line problems that kept me offline for years, then finally getting it loaded as I came down with the flu – and my first few days home sick with MTGO and the dogs. I’m writing this in a Word window while playing, then editing later, so sorry about the choppy style and random verb tenses.

I have some time again, so I click on "my leagues" and look for some games. I request a game and the window opens showing my avatar sitting and waiting at an empty table. I’m sitting and waiting, watching an avatar of myself sitting and waiting. My dog Bailiff is sitting and watching me watching an Avatar. Bailiff whines, and gets a cookie. I try whining at my avatar. No cookie for me. No game, either.

I check out the other league. A few names – one match in progress. I close the request in the first league and request a game in the second league. And wait. And watch.

Bailiff scores another cookie. I look over my collection, which is incredibly sparse right now. I’m moving the waiting for game panel back and forth, because it stays on top of the collection screen. Sometime I’ll have to see if I can’t find a setting to disable that, or minimize it.

I sit and wait. This is a lot like fishing. I used to read when I was fishing. I play solitaire this time, and scribble this in a Word window. And wait. I get no nibbles. I knew an old fisherman that dunked minnows in anise oil. He always brought home some keepers. I wonder how to dunk my avatar in anise oil. Or some other stinky attractant.

My dogs prefer rolling in raccoon poop, which stinks worse than anything else I know.

(I just reread this as I edit it. Someone is going to turn that into a sig. Just add "except, maybe, you.")

No, this isn’t Magic related. Nothing Magic related is happening, unless waiting for a game counts . But it’s early morning, I didn’t have this problem in the evening. Besides, I’m sick and miserable and impatient. Bailiff is patient and attentive, and resting his head on my leg. My other dog, Judge, is asleep in the living room.

I get a game, and I misclick and have a stop set wrong: no stop to play instants after declare attackers. That meant I couldn’t use the Flying Carpet (sided in because he was all weenie fliers) before declaring blockers, meaning that my blocker didn’t fly, and didn’t block, and so forth. Game 2 goes well, but I draw a ton of land game 3. Thirteen land, six spells.

Now I’m sick and miserable and bummed out. And waiting for another match.

I finally get smart and open a play request in each league. When I get a hit, I can close out the other request and then play whatever I get. It’s like fishing with two poles.

I wait.

Suddenly the dogs start barking. (No worries. It’s those guys stealing our garbage again. Every two weeks they show up with this big truck and steal our garbage. But the dogs bark at them, which eventually chases them away.)

One match. I win easily. He doesn’t play much of anything, then burns a bunch of creatures and tricks to finally kill off the Pewter Golem – and I drop a 6/6 Broodstar. It gets bigger, and his life total gets smaller, smaller, gone. Game two I do it again, only faster.

Waiting again. No hits. Bailiff is back on my knee. Judge is probably asleep again. Judge is an old dog now. In Magic terms, he’s Alpha. Actually, he’s older than Alpha. With bad hips. His real, official, AKC name is Crestview’s Day of Judgement – Judge for short. He’s a rescue dog. My sister is a vet, and loves to place homeless critters. She gave us Judge when he was a year old – his previous owners got him as a puppy and apparently were surprised when he got big. Great dog. As a pup, he chased deer – and caught one once. At least, he came back carrying part of a fresh deer tail. He brought me a woodchuck once, too. Alive. Dog and woodchuck were both fine – but I nearly had a heart attack when Judge strolled over with a snarling woodchuck in his jaws. I was under the car at the time, and eye level with the woodchuck. Golden Retrievers have a soft mouth, so anything they carry is usually safe – just pissed.

Judge will drop things on command. Of course, if he dropped it, the woodchuck would run to the nearest place of safety – under the car. With me. Anyway, that was a long time ago, and it all ended fine.

No hits. Slow, slow.

Bailiff is also a Golden, and a rescue dog. His owners got rid of him because he’s a neurotic twerp. Cute, but a neurotic twe…

A hit. Game on! Now to close out the other…

Two hits! Faster than I can click.

Okay, five-ten minutes with no takers, then two hits within two seconds. Great.

My screen jumps to one match, then the other. Okay – there are tabs for each duel atop the main screen. I play first – and second. I mulligan. I keep this. I keep this. I play a land. I – the program jumps between screens whenever a prompt comes up. It’s annoying. I screw up at least once because I was clicking to end combat, but it jumped to another game where my opponent had just Rended my dude. I had Hinder in hand. Alt-U won’t fix that.

I’m way too new with the interface to handle this. I tough it out through game one in both matches. I lose both, to a combination of misclicks, misplays – and possibly to better built decks. Halfway through the two games two, I decide to give this up. The Mirrodin block game looks worse, and I know my opponent has bombs I cannot handle. I type "Sorry – distractions here." and let the game sit for a couple minutes. Then I click back in, thank him, apologize and concede.

I’m back in the other league, and narrowly lose a very tight three game match. It was good Magic, and my only problem was that I could not get Uyo to work. I tried everything I could think of, but I could not get Uyo to copy a spell.

End of game 3, and my opponent clearly has me. I type some like:

me: Nice game – I’ll concede in a minute, but a noob question first?

him: k

me: How do I make Uyo work?

him: LOL I wondered about that.

him: hold CTRL during spell. Then you can use Uyo.

me: many thanks. good luck in the league. <concede>

I also found it in a message board later – if you hold CTRL down during a spell or action, you keep priority. That is huge – a trick you definitely need to know.

At this point, I own just under 370 online cards, plus basic lands. I try building some Constructed decks. I take a shot at Green/Black, but I have a random set of mana accelerator singletons, and one Thorn Elemental. No search. No discard to speak of – one Ravenous Rats. A couple Rends. Playing Spined Wurms turn 6 is nothing special. The deck looks boring.

I decide to build around the two Myojin of Cleansing Fire. I throw in all my white creatures, Arrest and the Gilded Lotus I opened when I joined a second Mirrodin league (I also opened Broodstar #2.) The deck had one Kabuto Moth, one Kami of Ancient Law, and so on down the line. About the only thing that kept it from being a singleton deck was double Standing Troops. Even playing my bad White and random artifacts, however, I could not hit 60 cards. I added a Red splash, for Volcanic Hammer, Pyroclasm, Magma Jet and so forth.

I head out to casual tournament area, and the new players room. I spot an empty table and sit down. We say hi and I’m playing Constructed online!

Hoody Ho!

I win the die roll and open with Tundra Wolves. He opens with Darksteel Citadel. My wolves bite him below the belt, and I play a 2/2 flier. He drops another Citadel and a Talisman. I whack him and drop Standing Troops. He drops and Mountain and goes Seething Song, Arc-Slogger.

I topdeck Arrest.

He draws, then Shrapnel Blasts me and Magma Jets a dude.

Um – casual room, new players – is this typical? I think the cards he has played already are worth more than my entire deck. But, who cares? I’m playing Constructed!

His Magma Jet should kill my 2/2 flier, but I have the one Indomitable Will I own in hand and untapped mana so my guy lives to fight on. I’m also dropping threats all over the place, and my deck is curving out just like White Weenie should. I have some bad equipment – but I also have Mask of Memory, so I am drawing cards like a Banshee. (Note: Banshees draw card like crazy, including during your turn if you look away. Remember that if you get paired against one.)

I win game one. I win game two. He says he has to leave.

I am amazing! Oversized sealed against Type Two Slogger and sealed wins it! I do the Numa Numa dance in my chair. My dogs stare at me – they wonder if I am losing it completely – or maybe they just wonder if cookies might be involved.

I click on another empty chair. "Sorry wtn 4 sumone." Okay.

And another chair. "Hi & gl." "U2." He’s playing a deck like mine. Random cards – just 40 in the deck. If they make 2 colored precons, that’s probably what he has.

I curve up a bit, do Blessed Breath tricks and drop Gilded Lotus. He’s like ":( Dude, I’m just playing a Limited deck!" I reply "I only own 300 cards – this is everything I own in these colors." I’m slightly behind – then I drop the Myojin.

He sends me a frownie face, then loses the connection. I leave the game up for a while and do some work in a Word window. He never comes back.

Whatever. Maybe he had some special notes in the tourney, asking for Limited-only games. I didn’t know enough to look for it.

I discovered that later, when I’m browsing the Casual Room – Anything Goes tables. If you hover your mouse pointer over the table icon, it will tell you what people are playing. At the time I’m there, two matches are going, and one table has an open chair. I however over it. "Online Extended." A bit out of my league, but… I look at the name next to the avatar, then click on his name in the lower right and message him. (I’m learning.)

me: I’m a noob with no cards, but I don’t mind losing. Want a game?

him: sure.

I figure I don’t have much chance here, but I have never tried building anything in this format. I’ll live and learn – or, more probably, die and learn. It’s all good.

I bring the beats. He plays a Cephalid Broker. Okay – the guy could be running this because he’s an overpriced Merfolk Looter, but it probably involves something worse – and besides, he’s in the way. I Arrest the bugger and smack. A turn later, the Broker and my Indomitable flier get targeted by Aether Burst #2. Broker comes back down, but I have Volcanic Hammer. I beat him down. He gets an active Broker. During my upkeep, he casts Plagiarism, then Brokers me. I discard, he draws. And Scriveners Plagiarism back. Sweet – I know that combo! I attack and he bounces my two dudes. Then I misclick – I thought I was agreeing to end the combat phase, but I ended my turn instead. He Brokers away my only creatures during my next upkeep. I lose.

Tight game. I ask if he wants to play again. He says yes, and I tell him I want to fix my deck a bit – I’ll be right back. A couple minutes later, he challenges me.


He has changed decks. It is a similar concept, but he has Sway of Illusion and Hibernation, and Scrivener again. I drop my creatures – over and over again. He puts Sway of Illusion on Isochron Scepter. Every turn, my creatures and his Scrivener turn Green, then Hibernate. Then I drop Gilded Lotus and hit ten mana: Myojin time! Bounce that dude, sucka! He does, but I Wrath away his Scrivener in response. I manage to pull that one out.

We chat for a bit, and he gives me some basic advice on trading, the interface and so forth. Eventually, I have to do real work and say goodbye.

His final remark: "You may not have many cards, but you build good decks."

Hey, it’s people like him that make gaming fun. Many thanks, dude.

Later on, I try building a few other decks, and realize that there is not much I can do. I still have practically nothing in the collection – a lot of one ofs, and almost none of even my common staples, like Elves, Duress, Wall of Roots, any kind of Elders, not to mention Talismans, Mirrodin’s Core, Gemstone Mine, etc., etc. I have always liked Chris Romeo writing, but I gain an additional appreciation of his decks.

I have built Peasant decks – but even those decks had many cards I just don’t own. Like anything from previous sets. I need to figure out how to get more cards – even playsets of the commons from the earlier blocks would help.

I am also pretty much over the flu. I have spent my last day home sick – and most of that was spent doing real work.

Play time is almost over. But I will get a chance to play some this weekend. I want to try a premium tournament next time.