Another day, another dollar, another shoddy article with a trite opening. All in a day’s work.
Webter’s defines”trite” as”hackneyed or boring from much use; not fresh or original.”
I’ll give you the remainder of this sentence-long paragraph to let the irony sink in.
Webter’s defines”irony” as”the use of words to express something other than and especially the opposite of the literal meaning.”
And on a completely unrelated note, Webter’s defines”buffoon” as”a gross and usually ill-educated or stupid person.”
When I was pondering how to start this article, I had my friend Joey Bags in mind. Sometimes it feels like I’m writing solely for him. Of course, that’s not necessarily true; if it were, the introductions would be even easier to write. However, several of my friends and acquaintances, like Morgan Douglass and Brandon Biondo, actually really enjoy reading the first few paragraphs of my articles. And to them, I say screw you for putting all this pressure on me!
I know that the strategy elements of my article, while sometimes a little off, are sound, informative, and helpful. But who cares about that, really? There’s unbelievable strain on me to try to come up with stuff that Morgy will like! When people expect nothing from you, anything even slightly out of the ordinary that you accomplish will be at least somewhat impressive. But I go into writing some of these articles, realizing that people are going to be scrutinizing them for any hint of entertainment… And I’m really not that entertaining. Any enjoyment derived from my previous articles was a total fluke, as I’m completely untalented and have nothing worthwhile to express. My self-esteem is faltering, and I want to jump off a bridge.
You may have noticed that I like to crutch on self-deprecating humor. This is because you have to write about what you know. I assure you that anything unfavorable I say about myself is anywhere from 90% to 100% true.
You also may have noticed that one or more of the above paragraphs had an overabundance of commas. I wonder how many people are actually scrolling back up to check on the alleged existence of said comma-infested paragraph(s) if they hadn’t seen it/them the first time.
Man, I need to take some writing courses. It’s been ages.
I’m obviously not going to let you get to the strategy of the article just yet. I took a few notes in preparation for this article, something I rarely do, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let them go to waste. Let’s take a look at what I’ve written down.
“Reference the Hunter/Fever/Reckless draft.”
This was going to be a”clever” inside joke. I normally have a pretty good memory, but it’s sort of faltering here. I was going to make some comment about how I may not be a Kai Budde or a Justin Polin *cough cough* but I have come a long way from the days where I would play such awful cards as Fever Charm, Hunter Sliver, and Reckless One main deck. Having said that, I would have left a note for my handsome and dashing editor, The Ferrett, to make an aside about how I, in fact, actually did maindeck such cards; he was there to witness it. (That’s nothing compared to my disaster draft the next Saturday – The Ferrett, who witnessed a total deck hemorrhage) So try to imagine a paragraph like that in your mind. It’s really good stuff.
“Little girl giving me the finger.”
So I was”following closely” (tailgating is such an ugly word) on this ignorant piece of human garbage in a minivan, who, like all other ignorant pieces of human garbage, had as his or her sole objective to make me miss green lights while driving.
Quick aside: Comma count= 64 so far
Quick aside 2: I am not what would be considered a passive, or even an assertive, or even an aggressive driver. A better term for me would be”infuriated.” I am an infuriated driver, but rightfully so. How can I stay calm when people use such tactics as:
- The Blockade, where the drivers in all lanes of traffic have, by no coincidence, chosen to drive the exact same speed, creating an impenetrable barrier of stupidity;
- The People’s Elbow, whereby a driver will make a slow, exaggerated turn, a la the Rock when he nearly comes to a complete stop before delivering his patented elbow drop;
- The Crazy Lady, whereby a female driver will speed up so you can’t pass her, tailgate you when you have finally passed her, and drop to about ten miles per hour below the speed limit when you let her by you again.
Quick aside 3: Comma count now= 78
Quick aside 4: No, I am not actually keeping track of commas. Nor should you be, you psycho.
So anyway, back to the minivan. Yes, I like to drive a little fast. Forgive me for wanting to, I dunno, GET WHERE I’M TRYING TO GO. But this doesn’t mean that parents should train their precocious little tots how to give another driver the middle finger at the approximate age of two. At first, I thought the cute little black girl was waving to me – but no, I’m fairly certain I was the victim of an obscene gesture that had been used in the past and will be used in the future by the darling child. God bless her, and God bless her parents. Although, I must confess, I believe that it is something important to know. You can use crude hand gestures throughout your entire life span in almost any situation, making them far more useful than say, Literacy or Tact.
No, I’m not racist, so don’t deluge me with a flood of emails talking about my hatred. I just figured the detail of her ethnicity, while completely incidental, would help you picture the situation in your mind, even though you probably have no clue what I myself look like (dorky white guy with glasses and ridiculously unkempt hair).
And the last note says simply”Mmmbop.”
I was driving home after the little girl incident and the song”Mmmbop!” by Hanson came on the radio. I would like to say that I reflexively changed the channel in disgust and had a nice chuckle at the embarrassingly pitiful pop tune. I would also like to say that I didn’t sing along. Well, I didn’t sing along, so screw you, pal!!
But alas, I couldn’t bring myself to change it either. It was definitely morbid curiosity – like when you don’t particularly want to be staring at the 500-pound man dipping his KFC in butter, but you sort of have to.”Mmmbop!” was an all right song for what it was – blissfully ignorant bubble gum pop. Rest assured, though, that if it comes on the radio again within a month, I shan’t be listening to it.
Heh. I just said”shan’t.”
Ba dooby dop dop du wop ba doobah dop dop DOOOO, yeah-yeah.
What I meant to say was, The Hives are really good. So are the All-American Rejects, The Ataris, The Jolly Green Giants, The Vines, The Strokes, and countless other bands whose singers’ hairstyle resembles mine. I was doing this long before you, Pelle Almqvist!
I don’t really like those bands. In a moment of honesty (don’t die of shock on me), I will reveal to you what is currently in my 5-disc player:
- Our Lady Peace – Happiness is Not a Fish That You Can Catch
- Finger Eleven – The Greyest of Blue Skies
- Linkin Park – Meteora
- Stone Temple Pilots – Shangri-la Dee Da
- AFI – Sing the Sorrow
So that’s it for this week, kids. Come back next time when I provide live color commentary of the Eugene Harvey vs. Wielfried Ranque pie-eating contest, Rodman reviews Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, and I ramble on incoherently about a Sunday dress or something.
I’m kidding. I have to write stuff about Magic or I’ll get fired and fall behind in payments on my Lexus.
At 7:30 on Saturday morning, Rodman and Joey Bags finally arrived at my house. They were running a little late because they had apparently missed my exit amidst a heated debate on Godsmack’s musical prowess. Despite this bumbling, we get to the tournament site in Detroit at a reasonable time, register decks, get decks back, throw ducks at balloons, and start building alongside thirty other teams.
This is the part where you, the enterprising reader, gets a chance to see a card pool and some decks and discuss what you would have done differently.
Card pool–Team Sealed GP-Pittsburgh Trial (Team name: Who Could Love Me?)
2 Daru Stinger
2 Disciple of Grace
2 Piety Charm
Wall of Hope
2 Aven Envoy
Merchant of Secrets
2 Mistform Mask
2 Slipstream Eel
2 Trickery Charm
Wall of Deceit
2 Accursed Centaur
2 Blood Celebrant
Dirge of Dread
2 Goblin Turncoat
2 Shepherd of Rot
2 Crown of Fury
Skirk Drill Sergeant
3 Skirk Marauder
2 Wave of Indifference
Words of War
3 Berserk Murlodont
2 Canopy Crawler
Chain of Acid
2 Elvish Guidance
2 Elvish Warrior
2 Nantuko Vigilante
Patron of the Wild
2 Snarling Undorak
2 Wirewood Savage
2 Berserk Murlodont
2 Canopy Crawler
2 Elvish Warrior
2 Snarling Undorak
2 Wirewood Savage
Crown of Fury
Skirk Drill Sergeant
2 Skirk Marauder
Words of War
2 Goblin Turncoat
Disciple of Grace
A few notes about the card pool. First, allow me to explore the blue. The blue was rather deep in this sealed deck in terms of quantity – but when discussing quality, it came up a little dry. You like the aquatic analogy? Me neither. Anyway, most of the cards in blue are either”unplayable” or”reluctant 23rd card” caliber, so we were quick to dismiss the color entirely.
Second, there is a problem with the white. The tribal lines are drawn nearly equally – which is a problem when you have such cards as Daru Stinger, Catapult Squad, Profane Prayers, and Doubtless One. There’s a decent chance that my deck was misbuilt, but part of that was simply because each tribe came up just a little bit short. If there were just two more soldiers in the deck, it would have been a nice soldier tribal. Perhaps, as weak as the blue was, it would have provided the necessary compliment to the white. I could have kept the Swats and other black removal in the sideboard in case of problem cards like Sparksmith and Timberwatch Elf. (When I tried to make a W/u build just now, though, it ended up looking slow and weak despite the strong soldiers). As it was, though, my deck ended up looking like a mediocre draft deck, which simply should not be the case in Team Sealed. The decks should be tighter and more powerful because of the sheer quantity of cards you have access to.
Bags’s deck was better than mine. It was somewhat single-minded in its strategy, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The deck’s major weakness was its lack of answers for green monsters, which Bags unfortunately had to face down in several rounds. The deck would get a nice tempo advantage, but it would often run out of steam if he couldn’t draw one of his finisher rares or the Dynamo.
Rodman’s deck was ludicrous. Unfortunately, there was no good way to spread out the green, since the Canopy Crawlers, Murlodonts, Savages, and Undoraks all hinge on having a large number of beasts; dividing the beasts between two separate decks would have a significant diluting effect. We could expect more wins out of an insane green deck and a mediocre cleric deck than we could out of two average beast decks. The Starstorm may seem gratuitous, but it truly is best suited to this sort of deck. In Bags’s deck it would have been a global sweeper, as opposed to the”Wrath ya'” it was in Rodman’s deck.
Round One vs. Brian of 8-Year-Olds Dude
Brian was a nice, courteous opponent, the type you’d like to play every round. He didn’t seem especially skilled, making some misplays like attacking Elvish Warrior into my 2/2 Doubtless One when I had Daunting Defender out, but he was good enough to get the job done.
Brian was playing a green/red beast deck. Game one I tried to play aggressively, but I didn’t really have the type of creatures (including the aforementioned 2/2 Doubtless One) to get the job done. He had no difficulty stabilizing with large monsters like Krosan Tusker and Glowering Rogon. I’m pretty sure I didn’t draw any fliers the first game, which would have come in handy since he ended the game at six life.
In game two, Brian stalled on two land for a turn or two, which cost him dearly. My defensive deck somehow granted an aggressive draw with Catapult Squad and some fliers, and I won in short order.
Game three was a nightmare, as he played giant monsters, Wellwisher, and Timberwatch Elf while I”stalled” at one black mana and a lot of plains. My mana base was a little shaky, and it would haunt me in a few matches. He ended the game with over thirty life and an abundance of beasts, continuing to play them even after a critical mass had been reached. I wish I had had a Wrath to punish him – but unfortunately, my deck just didn’t have the tools to defeat swarms of fat beasts. By the time I was ready to scoop, though, Bags and Rodman had already won.
Team Record: 1-0; My Record: 0-1
Round Two vs. Gabe Walls of RIW Hobbies
Time is a precious commodity in the black/white cleric mirror matchup, which explains why Mr. Bwalls conceded at twenty life. On an otherwise stable board, I had the Replicator set up to make 3/3 clerics, and I had the Starlit Sanctum out to make the race faster; evidently, Gabe had no answers to the ensuing swarm.
Game three was anticlimactic, since Gabe was land flooded. I tiptoed around Infest (which Gabe did in fact end up having, but this was academic, as he never drew it) while still putting a decent amount of pressure on with assorted fliers and morph men. Bags lost a tight match to Kevin Sherman in great part because he had to go second two of the games, and Rodman stalled on two lands in the deciding game against Mark Herberholz, so we found ourselves in the 1-1 bracket.
Team Record: 1-1; My Record: 1-1
Round Three vs. Chase of Big as a House
Team Record: 2-1; My Record: 2-1
Round Four vs. Bill of Random Picks
In game two, I stalled at three plains and one swamp with a handful of double-black cards, but I fought valiantly. I killed Gluttonous Zombie with a sided-in Feeding Frenzy, I had a Catapult Squad to hold off his Severed Legion, and I managed to attack for a few damage in the air. His Smokespew Invoker was threatening to become active, so I had to make a move. I attacked with seven power worth of fliers, putting him to seven. His board featured Smokespew Invoker, Nantuko Husk, and enough other creatures to provide lethal damage. I had one blocker, so if he drew a land for Smokespew Invoker that turn I would lose; otherwise I was going to win. Knowing this, I Swatted his Severed Legion during his upkeep, hoping he’d take the bait and regenerate it with his Boneknitter.
Unfortunately, given the circumstances, my ruse was transparent, and he sacrificed the Legion to the Husk. Fortunately, he didn’t draw the land he needed, and we were onto game three.
Game three was one for the record books. What I did was of little or no consequences, so I’ll just list his turns. Yes, this actually happened. Turn 2: Withered Wretch. Turn 3: Rotlung Reanimator. Turn 4: Nantuko Husk. Turn 5: random creature. Turn 6: Draw a card, giggle, use the Husk/Reanimator/freshly drawn Caller to deal something like twenty damage. Bags won his match, and in a mistake-riddled, bomb-filled red/green mirror, fortune smiled on Rodman. We were one match away from making the top 4…
Team Record: 3-1; My Record: 2-2
Round Five vs. Aaron Breider of Pretty Purple Ponies
And what can I say about their third, Chris Benafel, that hasn’t already been said? He’s probably the nicest guy you could hope to meet. When he plays, he doesn’t try to use sneaky, underhanded tactics to win, and he doesn’t take a condescending attitude toward people with fewer pro points than him – and especially not out of insecurity when those people have a tendency to beat him despite being worse than him.
On an unrelated note, if any of the people reading this are themselves skilled writers, I’d like to ask: How do you make it evident you’re being sarcastic even though what you’re saying wouldn’t seem like sarcasm in context? Do you need to have a cutesy follow-up explanation paragraph, or does that just make you look dumber?
Even so, I still like Benafel, probably because he’s so amusing.
Aaron was playing a red/blue deck laden with morph men. In game one, we arrive at a stalemate despite his Quicksilver Dragon and Frenetic Raptor because I got the nuts Cleric draw, featuring Battlefield Medic, Daru Healer, Daunting Defender, and several others. He couldn’t make any successful attacks because of the Medic, but I really didn’t have enough manpower to attack him back until I got my Vile Deacon running several turns later. At one point, Aaron attacked, and as had been the standard, I prevented about five to one of my creatures with Medic, and one to myself with the Healer. I’m not sure when you’re supposed to stop preventing to yourself with the Healer. Before, it hadn’t been a problem since he had never attacked in such a way that would necessitate my use of the Medic. Maybe I should have taken the extra damage for that turn; I was in no immediate danger. I guess I figured he didn’t have anything. But he did happen to have a freshly-drawn Skirk Marauder. He killed my Medic, my defenses crumbled, and I soon succumbed.
Game two was much better. He played a bunch of random morphs while I played fliers. I successfully read that his morph was Quicksilver Dragon, and I saved Pacifism knowing he would morph it in without any blue mana left over. A Dirge of Dread sealed the deal.
To be honest, I can’t really remember what happened in game three. His draw was pretty good, and I didn’t really have a chance – unlike game one, which I may have blown. In game one, after my Medic died, I tried to attack aggressively and Prayers him out for the win, but he obviously had enough presence of mind to chump block while his large men pounded me. Rodman beat poor, hapless EDT, but Bags lost to Benafel, so we were out of contention. We decided to stay in another round for experience and ratings points – but this would end up being a mistake…
Team Record: 3-2; My Record: 2-3
Round Six vs. Mike of Aboshan-Go
Game one went swimmingly. He mulliganed and acted really frustrated, so I made sure not to overextend into a Slice and Dice or other wrath effect. As with Gabe Walls, though, he just didn’t have it. I figured I was going to win and finish the day with a 4-2, not good yet not a total loss.
Then came game two.
Bad blocks and bad judgment abounded. I don’t know if I’m suppressing the memory semi-intentionally or if the fatigue prevented successful entering of information into my brain, but I don’t remember most of what I did. I know that I threw away an unwinnable game. One of my mistakes was not writing down the cards he revealed for his 4/4 Stinger, causing me to play around a Gempalm Avenger he didn’t have. Another was attacking with Vile Deacon; I was shocked when he said”put the ability on the stack, shoot it,” as I wasn’t in the mindset to consider the stack, as well as the fact that I thought Mike was a total buffoon. If I had been in a better state of mind, I would have known not to attack, but forever wondered if he would have seen the”put Deacon’s ability on the stack play.” This resulted in me wasting a Misery Charm to get the Deacon back and not being able to get the damage in fast enough to put him in range for the Starlit Sanctum I later drew.
I got what I deserved in game three. My draw was a little land-light, and he had the combat headache that is Lowland Tracker/Whipgrass Entangler/other clerics/Whipcorder in play. Even though the game took forever, I had no way to win and conceded. Since Bags had also lost, we ended the day at an embarrassing 50-50.
Team Final Record: 3-3; My Final Record: 2-4
Fortunately, the day was at least a learning experience for me. Some of the lessons I gleaned were:
1. Sleep.I don’t know how many times it’s been said, but it bears repeating: If you don’t get enough sleep, your brain is not going to function at its peak. If you know for a fact that fatigue doesn’t play a role in your game because of lots of past experiences, feel free to disregard this warning. But you’re in the minority.
2. Make sure all your decks have a chance against green.Only one of our decks could beat opposing fatties consistently, and our performance suffered because of it. Try to build your decks in such a way that at least two of the decks can handle any given matchup without problem. In other words, Deck A may beat Clerics and blue/red but lose to green/red; Deck B may beat Clerics and green/red but lose to blue/red, and so on. Ideally, every deck will be able to beat anything that can be thrown at them, but this isn’t always the case.
3. You don’t have to play every color.Oddly enough – and we weren’t alone on this – we didn’t play any blue cards. Sometimes the card pool isn’t there. Usually, though, you’ll find that your decks are better on average if the colors aren’t spread thinly.
4. Team with people you’re comfortable with.Even though they are my friends and relatively skilled players, Bags and Rodman didn’t really”click.” It wasn’t them, it wasn’t me; there was just something intangible there where I felt we weren’t going to win. So maybe it was partially me. Nevertheless, try to find people who are both your friends and skilled at Magic for your team. If you want to give yourself a chance, don’t team with bad people or people who you will argue with nonstop. Try to find a team that has some sort of unspoken synergy. It’s more of an instinct than anything else.
5. Play the man, not the cards, BUT calculate risks.In the aforementioned match against Mike, attacking with the Deacon wasn’t worth the risk that he’d see the play. As I admitted, this wasn’t a mistake in judgment – it was a bad play because I was so tired that my brain couldn’t get past the assumption that the Deacon was simply a 6/6 attacker. This is instinct as well. Try to weigh the odds that your opponent will play into your hands against the consequences of him making the right play (or the play that will inadvertently hurt you the most, as may be the case).
6. If you’re going to write a report, take good notes.I’m sorry about the scant information provided about the actual matches, but as I said, in my hubris I figured I’d remember more than I would. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be a problem; I simply wouldn’t have written a report if I didn’t remember the details.”Ti Esrever Dna Ti Pilf” was all from memory. I kept track of life on a piece of paper, listed my opponents and their team names (regardless of how vomit-inducingly-bad they may or may not have been), but figured I wouldn’t need to write down the causes of the life swings. Maybe even that wouldn’t have helped; maybe I just need to perform better and sleep more to remember more. Maybe this”advice” is more something for myself than for you.
Please, if you have any comments about how you would have built the decks differently (assuming you have some idea about what you’re talking about) I’d like to get e-mails and/or see discussion in the forum. Also welcome in my e-mail bin are suggestions for articles and”No, No… Walk With ME!” drafts. This is where you would send me an account of your draft (featuring the card you chose and all other playables, preferably all other cards if you can swing it, for every pack) and maybe a little write-up of how the deck performed. It would be my job to make recommendations about how the draft could be improved.
I’ll try to come up with something spicy for next week that doesn’t include discussion of draft archetypes that have already been discussed, card lists (you’ll see enough of those when Scourge comes out), type 2 (which I know nothing about), gibberish, or the word”dilemma.”
And yes, I am lying about the gibberish.