The Philadelphia Paper, Part One

Philadelphia’s a great city, full of Philadelphians (or is it Philapinos?). I had a blast at the Grand Prix, though I spent a good bit of time away from it. called me up a while back, asking if I wanted a free trip to the GP– which I could not refuse, of course. I think…

Philadelphia’s a great city, full of Philadelphians (or is it Philapinos?). I had a blast at the Grand Prix, though I spent a good bit of time away from it.

Pete Hoefling called me up a while back, asking if I wanted a free trip to the GP– which I could not refuse, of course. I think he was thinking I’d go up and play. But, as almost anyone will tell you, I suck. I could just drop twenty dollars into some grotto and save myself the time it takes to scrub out. Still, I wanted to go, as it would serve as a nice way to meet some people from that crazy northern part of whatever country this is.

Friday afternoon, Pete, Justin Kates (whose name is *SO* close a Carmen Sandiego criminal, don’t you think?) and Chris“the International Man of Mystery” Wolfecek swing by Charlottesville to pick me up in the Starcityccg.com-mobile. After all, every online superstore has to have a logo-ridden minivan. 🙂

We make the nice trek up to the land of unsweetened tea, through semi-disagreeable weather (and a slew of random braking cars), without incident. We check in at the Doubletree Hotel, in downtown Philly, to the tune of two awesome complimentary cookies. How sweet it is! It doesn’t matter that the room was over 100$… we got cookies.

After setting up the Starcityccg.com booth, the Wolf and I go hit a small MM/NE/NE draft. Chris and I sign up as #7 and #8. We go to get seated. Crazy New Joizey Judge has the sheet.

CNJJ: Okay. We’re seating. Number one, you’re in seat one. Two, you’re in two. Three…

You get the idea. So, I’m sitting next to the Wolf, who is actually good at these sorts of things.

Me: Aren’t we supposed to do random seating?
CNJJ: This is random.
Me: Well, not really, see I’m sitting right next to the guy I signed up with. There isn’t anything random about it.
CNJJ: Well, too bad
. The Wolf: Okay, whatever, just as long as the customer isn’t happy.

I first pick Drake Hatchling, second pick Waterfront Bouncer and pick up two Outriggers, and a Counterspell. That was it. Oh. And twelfth pick Dehydration. In the Nemesis, I first-pick some janky blue creature. I get second pick Belbe’s Armor. Third pick, Kor Haven– guess I’m playing white! Fourth pick, Silkenfist Order. I am playing white!

The next pack, I get a fifth pick Flowstone Thopter. Whatever dude! Hmm… though I have no drafting skills, whatsoever (best evinced by the fact that I usually end up drafting blue/black/white), I have managed to get very good deck. I even drafted the foil Island! Just part of the prize, baby!

I somehow get to the finals, riding the tide of Kor Haven and Daze! Nothing especially interesting happens. Who do I meet, but the Wolf. Eh. It’s two a.m. We split and split.

One thing I noticed is that the little Laccoliths are just not impressive. They don’t hurt enough for you to worry about them. I’m happy to take two and hit you for two. Also, with the exception of Blastoderm, I just don’t fear fading creatures. I’ll take six, I’ll take nine, whatever. I don’t have to kill the little dude. He just does his business and leaves me to win the game.

I can’t draft, but I’ve won my last three drafts. Maybe I can draft…


Anyway, close to six hundred people show up for GP Philly. It was amazing. I hadn’t seen that many Magic players sitting down in quite some time.

Of course, I wasn’t playing. I even had a bye!

Required extended rating for a bye: 1700.

My extended rating: 1702.

Like I could make Day Two in a format with Trix. I struggle to beat good combo decks like Yawgmoth’s Something or Other. I wouldn’t have a chance against the most broken deck since Academy. So, I decided I’d hang out and watch, get some cool play-by-play for this article, you know.

Or, so I thought. Pete and I are standing about a foot and a half from the tables, listening to the opening announcements, watching the hopeful masses shuffle up and chat with their opponents. So are fifty other people. You can feel the energy. One judge comes up to me, out of all the people standing shoulder to shoulder and says to me“you’re going to have to move back, if you want to watch.” I ask him why.“So that the judges can get through.” Bear in mind that he is standing in between me and the tables, with PLENTY of room to gesture. I motion towards the eighteen inches of floor and ask him“don’t you have enough room?”“No. You’ll have to back up more.” I take a baby step back, into the wall.“More?” He nods. I unsubtly crash my heel into the wall behind me.“That’s better,” he says.

Pete and I leave, as the round appears not to be starting anytime soon, and we can’t see very well from our“spectators’ position.”

The Wolf and I show up in the middle of round two. We head towards the 1-0 section. We are immediately chased off by not one judge, not two judges, but THREE separate judges, who all tell us that we can’t“stand here (in three different spots)” to watch the matches. Our“why nots” are just ignored. Finally, we leave when the two of us are standing in the exact same spot that Pete and I stood in earlier and told that we could not stand there.

Later on, I’m sitting in our room, watching Fight Club (Pay-Per-View!) when I hear a knock at the door. I’m puzzled, as everyone that knows we’re staying here has a key. So, I set my drink down, go to the door and open it. Well, who should burst into the room but that crazy little judge! He says to me“sorry, you can’t be here. You’ll have to leave.” I protest, but am forced out by his incredible authority. He takes a drink of my soda, sits down and starts watching the movie, forcing me to stand near the bathroom.

Well, that didn’t happen, actually. But it could have! This was the most ridiculous bystander-related incident I can remember. We left the play area in disgust. I griped to Pete, since he knew the TO. We even flashed credentials, no luck. As a member of the legitimate press, twice over, I am outraged by what can easily be defined as censorship.

Really, when was the last time that you, as a well behaved bystander, were asked to leave the play area and were left with absolutely no way to watch what you came to watch?

So. I apologize to you. I wish I had something to report from the first rounds, aside from the squalid treatment of spectators by the judging staff. On the plus side, I got to watch a lot of the good mid-Atlantic players with two/three byes warm up. Lots and lots of Hatred. Lots of Negators. Lots and lots and lots and lots of Necro. And, of course, Donnie Gallitz, with Lobotomies.

After all, it wouldn’t be a tournament if Donnie didn’t play Lobotomy!

A couple of observations:

But Phyrexian Negator was definitely the card of the tournament. They were in everything– Hatred, Necro, Donate, everything. All these decks have spare permanents. Wow. Sarcomancy gets really good once Negator comes into play. The more, the merrier.

Another interesting development was the addition of Firestorm to Trix by Your Move Games. Wow. It’s genius, genius, genius. It does so many things. If they’ve got an offense… playing some crazy deck that involves the so-called“attack phase,” you can knock the“T” right off of their Threat, leaving them with a hreat, or something like that. Whatever. If they’re all clever with the Ebony Charm and the“hey hey hey, you gotta Trix me twice,” you can let the wind out of their sails by busting them down a point or two.

Anyway, I’ll leave it at Saturday evening until my next article.

Before I go, I want to share this killer ad I saw in the subway station (it’s cheating, because I saw it on Sunday, but hey– it’s too funny to wait until Friday):

There’s a head shot of Stallone as Rocky. The caption says:

The Philadelphia Paper: As much punch as Balboa, with a better grasp of the language.

Take care.

Omeed Dariani.
Eic, www.starcitygames.com
Contributing Editor, Scrye Magazine

“Here we may reign secure, and in my choyce
To reign is worth ambition though in Hell:
Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heav’n.

-Paradise Lost, Book I, John Milton”

-Should have been the flavor text on Murderous Betrayal.