As an editor, you know that you should probably take a serious look at a writer when Mike Flores says, "You have got to hire this guy. He's great." Michael Clair is the reigning New York State Champion and hopes to help others like himself as he strives to qualify for the Pro Tour.
Here’s the problem with Sealed Deck: you get an unopened pack of cards and have to build a deck out of it. How many rares in there? Three. How many boosters? Two. So that’s a grand total of five rares, which means you get five chances to open a Kumano, Meloku, Jitte or random (non-Red) Dragon. Oh you didn’t open up one of those? Oh darn, unless you’re really good at Magic the chances of you Top 8’ing this PTQ just went down dramatically. Now if you’re an unlucky sap like me, you’d better grab a cup of coffee and read the rest of this article, because you’ll probably be opening a lot of Misako’s and Swirl the Mists this season.
As one becomes better at this game, one gains confidence in its many aspects. I like to think of how far my understanding has come, how theory that once would dizzy my mind with its talk of curves and timings now seems rudimentary. Where once I hoped to bring others into the discussion, to find a way to translate the works of Zvi and EDT into readable chunks, now I feel I am expected to impart my own understanding. Certainly to look at how far I’ve come you could assume that I had gained knowledge useful to the entire community, if I was but willing to share it. But aye, there’s the rub, how to talk about Fight Club with that pesky first rule floating around.
Today the Magic Jerk dips into his recent Pro Tour experience to illustrate just how good the Japanese really are, riffs on the skill factor in Sealed Deck vs. Draft, and delivers a few helpful suggestions to improve your Limited game. Tomohiro Kaji, this one’s for you!
The most interesting matches of my season so far came back to back at last week’s PTQ in Milford. I was playing Aluren, and my first opponent was Jonathan Ward of Team MYR. We were both 3-0 at this point and he begins the game with something like Duress, Birds of Paradise, Cabal Therapy and I assume he’s playing Rock, so I Cabal Therapy him back on Vampiric Tutor. He shows me a hand of Worship, and Academy Rector. What the hell? If your PTQ season has gone at all like mine, I’m sure you’ve had more than a few of these strange moments and can share my pain.
Getting better is not easy, and it’s not fun, at least not after a while. Sometimes when I’m feeling optimistic I like to look at how far I’ve come in the past year. U.S. Nationals was last summer. This spring I’m going to the Pro Tour, and even though it’s “only” a team event, I couldn’t be more proud of where I am as a Magic player. Still, getting better sucks, and if you are anything like me, you probably have some good stories about the growing pains you have gone through as part of improving your game.
Mike Flores and I spent the weekend losing at Magic, but I’ll spare you the boring details of that sad tale and instead focus on a discussion we had after the tournament was over. What came up on the car ride home wasn’t how to beat the combo decks that ran rampant in Boston, but why our Red decks were suddenly incapable of winning. There were two decks in the Top 16 that tried to win with Red men and burn – the rest of the Top 16 is filled with combo, combo and more combo, until you reach the Top 2 where you find a deck that combines two combo decks in one! So why can’t Red decks keep up? It’s a thing we termed Interaction.
Everyone knows that Affinity won Pro Tour: Columbus, but Mike Clair says that there have been modifications to the deck that make it even faster and more explosive in Extended. This is information you absolutely must have if you expect to succeed this PTQ season.
After bombing out at U.S. Nats while playing a horrible Goblin deck, I promised never again to sully my hands with Goblin Warchiefs or Piledrivers, content to play with artifact lands in the only deck that can use them well. Fast forward to a week ago and Ruel’s Goblin deck caught my eye and I was able to pilot it to a mighty *ahem* 2-2 finish at a local Neutral Ground tournament. Now, with weeks of playtesting under my belt against a gauntlet that includes five of the most relevant matchups in Extended today, I’m happy to say that I’m finally able to give you reliable information on how it performs against the field.
In this ironically titled article, Clair looks at the perils even good players often have when picking up a deck for the first time and expecting to win with it at a tournament. None of us can expect to replicate the success of Olivier Ruel when we first pick up the Frenchman’s deck, even if you’ve got the illustrious michaelj around to help you try and “make the deck better.”
“In order to advance to the midgame with the largest possible advantage, in the early game play as if they have it, until you have the trump.” What does this maxim mean and how can undersatnding it make you a much better Magic player? Only the Magic Jerk knows…
As Flores spoke about here, my team and I (consisting of Steve Sadin and Paul Jordan) were lucky enough to win byes at the GP: Trial at Neutral Ground by going an illustrious 0-2 in played matches. So we were looking forward to a solid chance at making Day 2…
This week I’d like to talk about a draft archetype that is near and dear to my heart: R/W jank. I was reading an article by Ken Krouner the other week and he said, “I have even heard rumors about Akki Avalanchers and Lava Spike making their way into highly aggressive decks built around Kami of Fire’s Roar,” while talking about red pick orders. Now if you’re anything like I was a few weeks back before Brian-David Marshall ushered in the era of the R/W jank deck here at Neutral Ground, you probably laughed whenever you saw someone play a Lava Spike without shocking something. That said, if you’ll give me a few minutes of your time, I’d like to introduce you to this deck, and maybe you too can whimsically debate around the draft table if there is any deck better than R/W jank.