The Magic Show #107 – Windy City Nats

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Thursday, July 31st – Hello everybody, and welcome to another edition of the Magic Show. This week’s show is hopefully a primer for all things Natty. From the pros who hope to take home the gold, to the formats, the all-stars, the side-er, I mean, ‘public’ events, and more. We also cover the death of Gleemax and finally have an answer on my data recovery problem. Let’s go!

Hello everybody, and welcome to another edition of the Magic Show. This week’s show is hopefully a primer for all things Natty. From the pros who hope to take home the gold, to the formats, the all-stars, the side-er, I mean, ‘public’ events, and more. We also cover the death of Gleemax and finally have an answer on my data recovery problem. Let’s go!

Windy City Nats

This week I’ll be in Chicago for U.S. Nationals. This is probably the biggest tournament in the United States other than a Pro Tour, and Wizards certainly treats it as such. Expect to see a whole mess of gunslinging notables. You know what gunslinging is, don’t you? This means you get to sit down and battle against someone in Magic R&D, a Hall of Famer, a well-known pro, or, as the case in Chicago, the creator of the game himself. Yes, Richard Garfield is expected to be slinging cardboard for the masses, so bring your best deck and your A-Game and perhaps take home a prize for your win as well.

Also note that this event celebrates Magic’s 15th Anniversary. This means you can get a sweet foil Char just for showing up at the event, and the winner of each event large or small gets a Magic logo backpack and a spindown die. Very cool stuff.

Now we get to the competition aspect of Nationals. And boy, is it huge. Needless to say, even if you’re not qualified it would behoove you to get up to Chicago for the weekend. First up, we have to talk about the Grinders. Grinders, as they are referred to, are also called Last Chance Qualifiers. Those guys who couldn’t make Regionals, like myself, or got cheated out of a Top 8 berth will be happy to know that there are two completely different Grinder tournaments occurring on Thursday morning that fire off all day long. Now of course, by the time you read this they’ll be complete, but their formats certainly won’t be. [Editor’s Note — The Magic Show is coming a day early to give U.S. Nationals maximum exposure… so grind away!]

The first format is Standard Constructed, all sparkly and shiny and new thanks to Eventide being thrown into the mix. The most impacting card I believe remains Snakeform, which is still so awesome it hurts, with Figure of Destiny right behind it, followed by the new filter lands. You simply can’t print a Green/Blue land without the Spikes of the world collectively crapping their pants at the ability to play the best creatures with the best spells in the game.

The other format is Sealed. Now we just saw what Eventide can do to the Sealed format over in Grand Prix: Madrid. The most interesting section of Wizards coverage, now that it’s over, is most likely the Eventide favorites. This will let you in the mind of pros, how they think and what they value when they bust a pack.

For their favorite Eventide common, of the Top 8 three of them said Snakeform, my pick; three of them said Wickerbough Elder; one said Unmake; and the last was after Chapin’s heart by throwing out Noggle Bandit. I do love me some unblockable donkeys.

Their Top 8 decks are telling as well. Manuel Bucher, also known as the guy we can thank for naming 5-Color Control “Quick N’ Toast” rocked a near Mono-Green deck all the way to third place. He did run a few Mountains, however, so he could still play his Power of Fire, christened the Best Limited Card In Shadowmoor by one of the format’s best players, Jelger Weigersma.

The winner was playing a Red/Black monstrosity, with a ton of removal and bombs like Demigod of Revenge and Incremental Blight. He even snuck in Recumbent Bliss, one of the best Pacifisms ever, via a single Plains and a Rugged Prairie. With no less than six removal spells and Torture, it’s no surprise he took home the top honor. That said, for those who look forward to Sealed events this weekend would do themselves a favor by reading the coverage provided on MagicTheGathering.com and hearing what these pros have to say about the format.

Moving on, you can always get your pickup tournament on via this friendly chart (image). But based on the size and scope of the side – er, dammit, I mean ‘public’ events, I don’t think that’s necessary.

On Friday alone there are eight events rocking the day away, including a laptop tournament for those under 16, gift certificate tournaments, iPhone tournaments, Vintage Championships Preliminary tournaments providing two byes to the winner, an iPod tournament, a Grand Prix trial for Denver, a Legacy tournament for a box of Japanese Urza’s Legacy or Destiny, and culminating into a Super Friday Night Magic where each participant receives the new FNM Desert and those who go 4-0 get eight non-duplicant FNM foils, boosters, and free entry into another event. Sweet.

And that is just the first day.

Saturday provides you with a PTQ for Berlin, the 2008 Vintage Championship which I certainly intend to get some footage of, a 2HG tournament where the winners get a set of Shadowmoor and Eventide… completely foiled, and finishes with what could easily be the coolest tournament of the weekend: A Tempest Block Sealed Deck. How frickin sweet is that. With only 32 slots available, I would suggest you sign up for it as soon as possible.

Sunday morning starts out with a $3,000 Shadowmoor Booster Draft challenge sure to perk you up, while StarCityGames gives away the original art for Astral Slide during a Standard event an hour later. At 3pm you have what could be another amazing story: The Multiplayer Free-For-All Standard Constructed tournament. This event is non-sanctioned, limited to only 64 players and is even open to Wizards employees. For just ten bucks you can be sat at a table with seven other players to duke it out. The winner of those tables play each other, and the Top 4 get a foil set of Mirrodin, while those who aren’t quite so lucky get a non-foil set of Mirrodin. This is a tournament where I expect to see some fireworks, and I’ll do my best to capture them for you.

But what about Nats? Can Luis-Scott Vargas, Thomas Drake, Michael Bennett, and Michael Jacob make it twice in a row? The laws of averages and mana screw will probably make this not happen. But as we all know, the cream tends to rise to the top and I expect killer showings from Patrick Chapin, Luis-Scott Vargas, Paul “Neon” Cheon, Antonino De Rosa, Mark Herberholz, and the rest of the U.S. Pro crew. Fingers are crossed for some killer Top 8 action.

As you hear these words I’ll be in Chicago, camera in hand, ready to film anything and everything. Expect Nationals coverage for the next few weeks as we go in-depth with the winners, losers, talk to Wizards and see just exactly how powerful Eventide really is as I show you up-close how it affected the metagame across all formats. Too cool.

Goodbye Gleemax

This week over at the geeky social networking site you never visit, Randy Buehler gave us the sad news that Gleemax is dead. The site that never got past Alpha is going to be shutting down soon in order for WotC to focus on other, more important initiatives like the D&D Insider and Magic Online. Also known as Stuff That Can Make Money.

But Magic Online, if you haven’t heard, is like the ugliest baby ever. You really want to love it – hell, you can’t help but love it, it’s Magic after all – but my God, what a mess. The awful, unreadable theming; the vertical chat; the interface from hell; the list goes on… the only thing I hope to come from this Gleemax debacle is that Magic Online finally gets its crap together. I for one am ready for an easy to use, robust client that lets me play Magic and makes a digital collection something more than a punchline.

Speaking of Magic Online, have you been reading Ben Bleiweiss lately? He’s returned to StarCityGames in a writer position, and his new series is fantastic. He looks at the dealer side of things, and this week he detailed how the World of Warcraft CCG adds value to its pack via the point cards and their various bonuses. Particularly he links the bonus points rewards program that World of Warcraft the online game and trading card game put into practice and how basically kick ass. Now it’s a little promo-happy, but the concept is sound: Those extra cards in the packs? They should give you some sort of value. Right now, they don’t provide much.

The key is to utilize these ‘worthless’ extra cards by providing Magic Online points. These points can be provided via a 10-digit code at the bottom of the cards, on the back of the tokens and on the reverse side of the Tips & Tricks cards. These would allow you to cash them in for Magic Online prizes, packs, tickets, or promos. Essentially, it allows you to link your cardboard crack with the digital flavor. This, as you may notice, is an unbelievably good idea that promotes both buying more booster packs, encouraging people to play Magic Online, and depending on the prizes could very well fuel existing Magic Online players to begin purchasing booster packs.

In other words, it helps with acquisition, that Wizards of the Coast is trying hard for this year, helps with the struggling adoption of Magic Online, and in the end makes the company money.

Will this actually be implemented? Ha! Don’t make me laugh, peeps. Wizards is still convinced that Magic Online is the enemy of Magic Offline. Let me dispel it for the suits: It is not. Giving me incentive to play online doesn’t make me want to play offline any less. If anything, I’m more excited about playing offline if you give me online bonuses, like redeemable points, for playing offline. Maybe one day they’ll get it. Maybe.

Data Recovery Update

The data is here! YES! According to DriveSavers, they retained 80-90% of the data, and I’ll have footage in the show as early as next week. This means that the majority of Richie’s tournament footage and my buddy’s wedding was saved. Fantastic news, and I’m super excited. Thanks to everyone who placed bids on the donated auction items, which raised over a thousand dollars after fees; Drew Tudman for his personal donation; and for your support. The total bill came to over $1,600, and with your help I actually came up with such a sum. Craziness.

Next time I look forward to showing you the madness that was Richie’s tournament, along with the happenings in Chicago. It’ll be one busy week for me, I tell ya.

So until next week Magic players, when we get into the thick of it, this is Evan Erwin. Tapping the cards… so you don’t have to.

Evan “misterorange” Erwin
dubya dubya dubya dot misterorange dot com
eerwin +at+ gmail +dot+ com
“Just google me!” – Bound to be screamed during Nats at some point