The Casual Report #11: A Multiplayer In King YMV’s Court

October 7, 2002. That was the last time I wrote a Magic article.
August, 2002. That was the last time I played a game of Magic with more than two people involved.
After seeing that Rizzo still writes more often than I do – and he’s supposed to be retired – I decided that I better actually write something. And if he can write about absolutely bombing at the Grand Prix, why can’t I?

October 7, 2002. That was the last time I wrote a Magic article.

August, 2002. That was the last time I played a game of Magic with more than two people involved.

Law school really sucks up your free time.

After seeing that Rizzo still writes more often than I do – and he’s supposed to be retired – I decided that I better actually write something. And if he can write about absolutely bombing at the Grand Prix, why can’t I? And I can even promise a little more Magic content than Rizzo offered.

Just before I get started, I can’t agree enough with [author name="Peter Jahn"]Peter Jahn’s[/author] article from earlier this week. The current sealed deck format is well suited to those of us who are foreign to the tournament scene. Check out his article, and come out to a sealed deck tournament. Just focus on having fun, and you will. This is a game, after all.

The Planning

I am the anti-tournament, uber-casual player. I had never been to a sanctioned tournament before and had only entered one other tournament that was a single round elimination. I love Unglued. I build chicken decks. I even wrote an article way back listing the top 40 reasons I don’t go to tournaments. The whole thing started by sheer fluke.

My lovely Yolanda lives in Boston while I struggle away in law school in Winnipeg, Canada. That works out to 1,500 miles between us. Since the airlines don’t offer flights for free, and neither of us is independently wealthy, our visits are limited. In January I began to plan to try to visit Boston for Spring Break. I got the break I needed when Yolanda found round trip tickets for $220! The flights were set and I would get the chance to visit for an entire week plus a weekend!

Only a week after the flight was booked, I discovered Grand Prix Boston would be running on the weekend I was scheduled to leave Boston! I saw this as an opportunity, not to go in the tournament, but to at least go down, get some cards signed, pick up a couple of dual lands.* Besides, just how bad can four hundred Magic players really smell? I mentioned this to my girlfriend and she insisted that I go in the tournament.

That’s right; it was her idea. She understands that the game involves some thought. She knows that I really enjoy playing it. She has played once and it doesn’t interest her. And she wanted me to play anyway. Yes, I do know how rare this type of woman is and I have no intention of letting her go. And no, I didn’t tell her about the nasal assault many Magic players perform at the tournaments.

In spite of Yolanda’s encouragement, the thought of dropping $30 to go 0-2 drop wasn’t all that appealing, but I hadn’t played Magic in a while so it started to grow on me. I decided to go for it. After a while I knew I couldn’t lose, since the best I expected to do was to go 0-2. I was going to go in this tournament just for fun, and enjoy the whole experience.

The Road Trip

The trip itself wasn’t that big a deal. The Customs people felt the need to rip my luggage apart for the first time in several cross-border trips. Hint to international travellers: Just buy any sexual paraphernalia in the country you are traveling to, rather than bring it into the country.

Hey, this doesn’t have anything to do with Magic. Ummm, anyone ever played a deck with 4x Customs Depot? Maybe purchased 1x Wand of Denial and tried to bring it over the border?

I flew out on Valentine’s Day, spent a nice evening with Yolanda that is nobody’s business but ours. Wanderlust isn’t the right word to describe our evening, but it certainly sounds like it should be.

The Snow

I’m a Canadian. I know snow. Boston got some snow on the Monday before the tournament – twenty-seven inches of it in about twenty-four hours. That is a hell of a lot of snow by anyone’s measurement! I shovelled out the driveway twice during that time, yet the neighbour downstairs still managed to get his fancy Volvo stuck.

Hmm, this doesn’t have anything to do with Magic. Ummm, Boston was some seriously Snow-Covered Land. Ever played with Winter’s Night? Not a great card, but pretty appropriate to the whole snow thing I’m trying to do here. Perhaps all the snow could be akin to Glacial Wall? Pretend the beige Volvo was a Black Carriage.

The Morning

Yolanda and I got up early and drove into Boston in time to register. Yolanda dropped me off in front of The Castle and headed off to find a place to park her Mom-mobile, while I headed in to register. The pictures in the Sideboard give a pretty good idea of just what the place looked like, yet somehow, they don’t do justice to the place. I walked around inside and there is also a large hall in the front of the place that most of the players never saw. The turret and the stairs up to the top were there as well. This place was a castle in every sense of the word!

After a quick BM to relieve my nervousness,** I registered and just hung around with Yolanda, who had found parking behind the building for $10! A bit better than Rizzo’s $45, n’est ce pas?

For someone who has never been to a tournament, the whole scene was crazy. More and more players kept filing in to sign up. There were dealers all along the eastern wall, the concession along the northern wall, and the registration, judge’s tables, Sideboard reporters, etc along the west wall, next to Pete*** and the StarCity tables. The middle was full of the gaming tables. Having never seen more than twenty people playing Magic at any one time in person, watching over six hundred players file in was impressive.

I intended to describe for those who have never been in a tournament what happens before the actual games started – but Peter Jahn did a great job of that in his article, so I won’t bother, except to include my personal anecdote. I sat across from Brian Hegstad during the deck registration and deck building portions of the event. After he stopped me from incorrectly filling out the registration form (“You don’t play with the deck you are registering, so don’t fill in your name there”), I pretty much just followed his lead to make sure I didn’t screw up any further. Much thanks to him for helping this scrub.

So the deck that I got? Well, I’m embarrassed that I got what I thought were such good cards, since I knew that I would play them poorly. My pack could have ensured a good player success for Day 1, but it certainly made my $30 to register well worth the money.

Rorix Bladewing, Skirk Commando, Skinthinner, Smother, and Akroma, Angel of Wrath were just a few of the goodies. I’m sure there were others that I am just not aware of, but those were the ones I knew were decent. A foil Gravespawn Sovereign was also included in the pack, so my multiplayer heart rejoiced! Spectral Sliver, Vile Deacon, Enchantress’s Presence and White Knight will all have places in decks I already have made.

I opted for a B/R build with Rorix and a single Screeching Buzzard as my only flyers. I figured I had more removal than most other decks, so if I could do some damage early, I should be able to get ahead enough to seal the deal as it went on. Or more appropriately, it seemed like it would be a fun deck, and hopefully I wouldn’t get pounded on too badly all the way through the tournament.

The Afternoon

Round One – Neil Parker

Game one: Neil was a great first opponent. We chatted a bit before the start of the round and everything was friendly the entire match. The first game took over half the time we had available, with both of us playing fairly deliberately. In spite of my slow play, I still managed to miss opportunities to cycle cards, didn’t morph creatures when I should have, and just plain sucked.

Neil’s deck wasn’t exactly cooperating with him early on, and he really wasn’t getting much on the board. I think I had him to twelve thanks to a morph and a Goblin Taskmaster before things got ugly for me. The fat green started to pour from his hand and eventually he overwhelmed me. I think I did manage to get him to eight in that game, but we both knew the outcome was settled when his big stuff started pouring onto the table.

Game Two: We shuffled up and started game two. Neither of us bothered to sideboard anything. He pretty much knew that I wasn’t going to beat him with what I had, and I knew I had nothing in my sideboard that was going to help me, so off we went.

I might have actually won this game but for repeated mistakes. I held a Barren Moor and failed to cycle it for three consecutive turns. I could have morphed my Skinthinner, but instead let it go straight to the graveyard. I could have used morphed my Skirk Commando and never did. Lavamancer’s Skill could have reduced the number of creatures he had, but I forgot to use it too many times. On the other hand, Neil’s deck was pretty solid, and he played well, so I suspect I would have gotten close but never managed to finish him.

Neil finished the tournament in 112th place, so I hardly felt like a poor player beat me.

0-2, 0-1

At this point I just chuckled to myself, and was happy that I hadn’t actually come to the Grand Prix expecting to win a game. If you are going to a tournament for the first time, just go to find out how things are done and to enjoy yourself playing Magic. There is no pressure, and you won’t beat yourself up over the mistakes that you are bound to make. I know that I wasn’t at this point.

Yolanda had come back after shopping around downtown Boston, and we agreed to grab a bite to eat after this round, especially since this was likely to be my last round.

Round Two – Ben Faga

Ben was a younger guy (yeah, who wasn’t a younger guy at this tournament?) who was a little nervous, but a quick handshake and some shuffling and we were off.

Game one: Ben was a nice guy who understood what he was doing, but just did not get the cards, while my deck performed like an all-star. The curve was working perfectly, and I played it out all the way to Rorix hitting the table in time to do the final points of damage.

Game two: Before I could get excited about having won a game, it was all over. An almost identical repeat of the last game, with this one ending when I cast Smother on the one flyer he had at the end of his turn (the first time I used that card properly the whole game), then cast Rorix to win on my turn. I felt badly for Ben, since I knew he was a better player than the games showed, but mana screw is a bitch.

Ben finished 358th, so obviously things improved for him after the 0-2 start. Congratulations for sticking it out, Ben.

2-2, 1-1

At this point, I was satisfied with the way I played. I had managed a win that I didn’t think I would get (I’ll take the mana screw wins), and the opponents I had faced were good guys, and they didn’t stink! Everything was going great!

Yolanda and I found a place to eat a couple of blocks from the site, and I figured how much time I would have before the next round started, so we hurried through our meal. Yolanda was a star, putting up with my incessant Magic chatter, all the while knowing that she would be suffering through another round of Magic. She was discovering that many Magic players are not as hygienic as you might hope. I promised her that win or lose, I was dropping after this third match.

Round Three – Robert Thierry

In spite of my well-timed lunch, I arrived five minutes after the start of the round. Robert was still waiting and was prepared to let me play anyway, but I didn’t think it was fair to him, and besides, I was going to be leaving, so I signed the slip, marked the drop box and Robert earned the 2-0 win.

At this point, most anyone would be a good sport, and Robert lived up to the bill. He had come from Montreal with several friends and we were both surprised to be in Boston, playing a fellow Canadian.

We decided that we would play it out for fun, since he would have all this time to kill anyway. It worked out well, since Robert’s deck destroyed mine. My curve did not work nearly as well as it had against Ben, while Robert’s clerics (along with Nantuko Husk) did a number on me. Within 35 minutes, Robert had beaten me convincingly twice already, and it was obvious that he would have won 2-0 even if I hadn’t given it to him.

Robert finished 422nd, so apparently things didn’t go too well after our match. Bonne chance Robert!

2-4, 1-2. Drop. 509th place out of 610.


Grand Prix Boston was a good time for me, irrelevant of where I rank. I had a blast playing and just enjoying the experience of the whole event. Just a couple of notes:

  • The advertised artist was a no-show. That was disappointing, as a couple of signed Coat of Arms would have been wonderful gifts for the guys I used to play multiplayer with.

  • I didn’t even know Rizzo was at the event until I spotted his name in the online coverage later on. A”sup” and a”heh” were in order. He has made being a Bruce in Magic an interesting thing.

  • Zvi’s voice is way more high-pitched than you might think.

  • Rob Dougherty looks exactly like his picture

  • Josh Bennett hair looks much bigger in pictures

  • The tournament wouldn’t have been complete without seeing PTR giving some random crap.

  • The tournament lived up to its reputation: There were plenty of”ripe” players. Come on people; a little shower and deodorant will go a long way towards increasing the number of women at a 600 player tournament into the double digits!

  • Funniest part of the tournament: The look on a player’s face when I told him that I had never played in a tournament in my life, and that I had come all the way from Winnipeg.

Bruce Richard

[email protected]

* – I now have at least one of each. You try expanding your collection on $10 CDN per month!

** – A habit I picked up during my first set of final exams in college. Flush your cares away!

*** – Pete Hoefling is shorter than I pictured, but he certainly looked busy every time I wandered in that direction. That is the important thing as far as anyone at StarCity is concerned.