02
Feb 15

Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifier – Stirling

Wizards in their infinite wisdom decided to change the Pro Tour Qualifier system, now instead of winning a tournament there were a few of a year in Scotland to get to the Pro tour you need to:
Win a tournament there are about 10 per quarter of then
Top 4/8 (size dependent) a tournament that this competition feeds into.

At the first Scottish one ever, in Glasgow, I threw away the chance to Top 8 and it was won by Ferg.
There then followed events in Edinburgh, Glasgow (different shop), Largs and Dundee.

On 31st of January it was the turn of Stirling to host.

I joined the road trip crew of 5 from Dundee and 2 from Aberdeen to make it through. We were stuck in traffic for a bit due to Aberdeen fans making their way through to Hampden to get pumped by Dundee United due to having to cross the city to pick up cards.

We arrived at Stirling and for most of us it was our first visit to Common Ground Games. We were pretty blown away, a large retail space, with kitchen area making teas/toasties etc, massive gaming area with huge wargaming tables plus tables for about 50-60 players.

After the latest set release I knew my Super Aggro Red was in a bad place so I switched to big red devotion. I looked at a few lists online, and annoyingly can’t remember where the one I closely copied from originated from. Apologies and thanks to the mystery brewer.

Round 1 vs Steven Youngson (Green Blue)

I sat down at probably the lowest table to play my first round opponent. This was his first ever competitive tournament and hadn’t been playing for too long. This meant I could be facing someone who net-decked or brewed so couldn’t really play around a known deck strategy.

Game 1 he plays a couple of morphed Sagu Maulers and I burn them whilst beating down with flyers and Goblin Rabblemaster tokens.

Game 2 I bring he goes on the play and I get down to about 14 but his 2/2 and 1/1 creatures can’t race mine and I think I played and Eidolon of the Great Revel early causing most of that.

His deck seemed ok but he had jammed in a Planeswalker cos he had it etc, definitely a home brew.

Round 2 vs Phil Dalbeck (Blue White Heroic) 1-0 (2-0)

I was worried about this match up as Crater’s Claws can’t remove lots of his threats and he can give protection to those I can whilst I only had sorcery speed removal.

I win game 1 with some Goblin tokens, flyers and a Purphoros, God of the Forge.

Game 2 I lose with my opponent on 25 life, I think I was flooding out and he put an Aqueous Form on a dude making him unblockable.

Game 3 got to a point where I was at 3 life, dreading one of his two creatures becoming unblockable.

The turning point was him being on 8. I have a Stormbreath Dragon and a morphed Ashcloud Phoenix with 6 mana open. He has two creatures. He, declares attackers, then gives one of them protection from red, saying out loud that means his other creature would kill a blocking dragon.

I block the pro-red creature with my morph and the other creature with the dragon. I then unmorph the phoenix dealing him 2. After damage my phoenix dies, coming back as a 2/2 morph. My Dragon survives – to his surprise. On my turn I pay 1 to return a phoenix from the bin and hit him for 10.

Round 3 vs Scott Gibson (Junk, sorry Abzan) 2-0 (4-1)

Game 1 he drops two Siege Rhinos, the first of whom I had to Chained to the Rocks to make sure my tokens could get through, whilst being very worried. I win this with dragons.

Game 2 he wrecks me with Rhinos.

Game 3 I got my Glare of Heresys in and manage to deal with his board not taking a point of damage.

Round 4 vs Peter Deane (Blue Black Control) 3-0 (6-2)

Although my deck is the favourite against most control decks I was worried to be facing a player I knew of as a regular in top 8s and the like.

Game 1 I win the dice roll and manage to resolve a Purphorous, he is trying to find an answer whilst Goblin Rabblemaster and Purphoros do the work.

Game 2 I think went down to tokens again, didn’t make enough notes on pad 🙁

Round 5 vs Ross Jenkins 4-0 (8-2)

We were the only players on 4-0 – there were lots of draws due to the high number of control decks. Intentional Draw locks us both in the top 8.

Round 6 vs Andrew Rayner 4-0-1 (8-2-3)

Another ID and we watch for Gary Campbell vs Stuart to see which one of our travel group wouldn’t make it. Gary eventually won.

PPTQStirling

Looking at the placings going into round 6 shows how well our group had done. Brad added as a former Highlander Games player.

In the end 5 of our 7 from the North East made top 8 with Brad making it too.

Quarter Final vs Duncan Tang (BUG Control) 4-0-2 (8-2-6)

I was drawn against Duncan from Glasgow, based on our decks I expected to do well but he is a very good player, regularly top8s and quite often plays the deck style he had chosen.

In the end I finish game 1 on 20 life, his removal/counters couldn’t keep up with my threats.

Game 2 I bring in Erase, expecting to see Courser of Kruphix as I didn’t know the deck list and he barely played anything in game 1. I scooped when he had two Garruk wolves and a deathdealer whilst I was on 7 with a 2/2. Even if I block the deathdealer I go to 1 and he then has 4 creatures whilst he is on 19.

Game 3 I come out racing and dash out a Mardu Scout, play a Goblin Rabblemaster and then dash two scouts. He’s on 2 going into his turn 4 – one turn early for the wrath which could save him.

I shake the hand and say I’ll see him in Dunfermline (the next PPTQ) laughing that I won’t progress.

Semi Final vs Bradley Barclay (Black Blue Control) 5-0-2 (10-3-6)

The other semi is Andrew vs Ross so one of the group is making it. I’m facing one of the best constructed magic players in the UK so am not expecting it to be me.

Game 1 is some dashed Mardu Scout and Goblin Rabblemaster fun times.

Game 2 I hold up a Crater’s Claws in hand and gradually bait out his removal/counter spells for him to be tapped out to be able to cast it for exact damage.

Somehow I win 2-0 not dropping a point of life.

Final vs Ross Jenkins (Black Blue Control) 6-0-2 (12-3-6)

My first ever tournament top 8 at a higher than GPT level and I make the final. I’m pretty stoked but not expecting to win. Ross had only dropped one game all day so was at 12-1-6 showing how well he was playing.

In game 1 I get him down to 6 but he either counters or kills all I have and manages to kill me with a Pearl Lake Ancient. I eventually ran out of gas and kept drawing land. After the game I noticed a Phoenix in the bin I had forgotten to bring back but work out it would have only got an extra two damage in so made no difference.

In Game 2 I dash out scouts to avoid his sorcery speed removal and his Fountain lands gaining life stabilise him at 17 for a while before I manage to break through with a Dragon.

I take Ross’s second game of the tournament.

Game 3 I am on the draw and my opening hand is a Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, Mountain, 3 drop and then 4/5 drops. I know if I get the 2 lands by turn 4 I am in good stead but if I miss even one of those I’m dead, especially if he Thoughtseizes me at least once. I make a terrible decision to mull. My 6 contains 1 land so it’s 5 which contains a Chained to the Rocks and 4 land. I know I can play anything I draw and can’t go lower but it’s a terrible hand. I resolve a Chandra on 4, which is killed as my first spell. He has a hand full of answers and I’m drawing no questions. On turn 10 I missed my first land drop as I had drawn a second Nykthos. I ended the game with 3 Nykthos in hand and my opponent on 27 life.

Ross wins a well deserved victory and it’s back to grinding for me.

A good day all round, our team does fantastically, a visit to a new awesome shop, and I am now a single match win away from a bye at any Grand Prix I go to this year or next, and Dundee United get through to the Scottish Cup Final.

All that was left was a spicy haggis pudding and the short drive home.


18
Nov 14

Ingress

Over the past month I’ve played a fair bit of the Augmented Reality game Ingress. I was introduced by someone in work and it reminded me of Other.

It consists of two factions, the Resistance (blue) and the Enlightened (green). I obviously joined the blues instead of the snottery frogs of team green. Users submit Portals, which are statues, landmarks, churches and the like. Once accepted (months?) Each team battles for control of it. Deploying up to 8 resonators of up to level 8 on them. Once you control a portal you can connect it to other portals. If three form a triangle you control a mind field.

BluePortal

There is a factional scoring mechanism based on the time each faction has controlled the largest field. Unless someone introduces you to the game you will probably be playing mostly solo around where you live or work and only later realise the larger game and strategy.

After playing solo for a wee bit I found out a friend had also started it but wasn’t sure what to do. Soon I got two others involved and we started going out taking over areas of Dundee ourselves. A special event took place for the games second birthday. During this period you were able to get bonus action points (AP – the equivalent of experience points).

So we headed out a few times and I reached level 9. BatBaby reached 7 and BorisGrishnikov reached 8 too. A couple of days before it ended, we had reached out to some local players and realised the forthcoming Sunday was a Resistance meet up.

We met up with a group and we managed to make a small farm around us. Whilst doing so we noticed a few more new names appearing in Comms. A quick message and we met them and split resources ending up with a small number of all level 8 farms with multi-hack mods on them.

Over the course of the afternoon around 8 of us stayed together or ventured apart before meeting up again. The result was the entire City Centre of Dundee became blue.

After the afternoon work, Boris, Batbaby and I headed across to St. Andrews and destroyed all the snot which was covering it. A return home wielded this lovely, almost green-free, map.

IngressBlueCity

Effects of the game

Another byproduct of the game is a greater desire to hit the outdoors. My wander to and from work has increased by about half an hour as I detour to hit portals. I now know the names of loads of statues and where almost every church in the city is.

I used my local knowledge to submit over 20 new portals. No idea how many will be approved, but helping others learn about local history and the locations of plaques is definitely a side-effect which will be rewarding.

So if you want to play a game which will get you off your ass, outside and meeting people, give Ingress a try*

* on the Resistance side!


13
Oct 14

Mutiny Kickstarter

So we at joystuck love a good Kickstarter. Another local indie house Hidden Armada have created one for their pirate battle game Mutiny!

HiddenArmada-Mutiny-1

A 16 player game where pirate crews battle it out. I can see this being a game to remind you of all those afternoons spent playing Worms.

There’s a demo online and it’s due to hit Alpha not long after the Kickstarter finishes so the risk of it being vaporware are low to non-existent. Some of the add-ons are pretty cool including art books and glasses engraved by Lefay Engraving.

So take a look and give it your support.


21
Jul 14

Lords of Waterdeep

Lords of Waterdeep is a worker placement game which has been taking up a chunk of my time recently. Set in the Forgotten Realms city of Waterdeep, it has a Dungeons & Dragons theme, although D&D lore is not a necessary part of the game play.

Game Details
NameLords of Waterdeep (2012)
Accessibility ReportMeeple Like Us
BGG Rank [User Rating]52 [7.77]
Player Count2-5
Designer(s)Peter Lee and Rodney Thompson
Artists(s)Eric Belisle, Steven Belledin, Zoltan Boros, Noah Bradley, Eric Deschamps, Wayne England, Tony Foti, Todd Harris, Ralph Horsley, Tyler Jacobson, Ron Lemen, Howard Lyon, Warren Mahy, Patrick McEvoy, Jim Nelson, William O'Connor, Adam Paquette, Lucio Parrillo, Dave Rapoza, Richard Sardinha, Mike Schley, Andrew Silver, Anne Stokes, Gábor Szikszai, Matias Tapia, Kevin Walker, Tyler Walpole, Eva Widermann, Eric Williams (I), Matt Wilson, Sam Wood, Ben Wootten and James Zhang
Mechanism(s)Set Collection, Take That and Worker Placement

Lords of Waterdeep, Meeple Like Us, [CC-BY 4.0]
Colour BlindnessC
Visual AccessibilityE
Fluid IntelligenceD
Memory AccessibilityB
Physical AccessibilityB+
Emotional AccessibilityB
Socioeconomic AccessibilityC-
CommunicationB

There are a limited number of spaces which under normal circumstances can only be utilised by 1 worker at a time. Gradually more can be bought and the players are given more workers to place. This creates a lot of pressure to sequence your plays correctly as well as to try and dick over your opponents.

LordsFinalScores

Each player is allocated a Lord who may get a bonus for each Warfare (orange) and Arcana (purple) quest completed or Skullduggery (black) and Piety (white). Various combinations exist as well as more in the expansions.

There are 5 main resources in the game. Cubes of four colours which are available in differing ratios and gold. Different quests require different resources to complete. The other resources you can collect are quests to be completed – hopefully for your Lord specialty, Intrigue cards – like actions you can complete at set locations which can also, importantly, let you re-place those workers again later and Buildings which you can buy. Buildings are extra spaces on the board which workers can place to – and also giving rewards to the owner if someone does.

Two awesome locations

Two awesome locations

Quests come in 3 flavours: standard – trade resources for victory points, plot – have ongoing effects like bonuses every time you take a particular action later in the game, and mandatory – give to an opponent and they have to complete this rubbish quest before any good ones they have.

In a two player game it’s perfectly easy to go the entire game with only giving each other a couple of Mandatory Quests being the only interaction. In a 4 or 5 player game you have others vying for the same resources as you and it can be a bit more cut-throat.

The expansions also add more locations and with Skullport comes corruption. Take these negative victory point markers to gain extra resources – don’t mind if I do, it’s my preferred playstyle in games anyway.

So an awesome fun game which has ways to stop run away winners, has no early elimination and ways to sneakily catch up without anyone noticing. Can’t think of any ways to make this more worthwhile?

Well how about the best damn box a gamer has ever set their eyes on?

Best. Box. Ever.

Best. Box. Ever.

It has compartments for cards, which tilt. No more tipping boxes to get cards out. The cubes? They sit in inversed semi-sphered type things so you can scoop them out. The expansion box is not to the same high quality but still works in the same way.

Buy this game and crush your friends.


06
May 14

MtG Grand Prix Manchester

I had been enthused over the upcoming Manchester Grand Prix – my first ever proper magic tournament. The weeks leading up I played around with a few decks and then Pro Tour happened. The meta completely shifted and pretty much every deck I had been trialling was now dead in the water. Black Aggro seemed the most viable but relies on good draws and folds to the strong decks post-board. I completely lost enthusiasm but decided to go ahead anyway.

gp_manchester_wide

The 5+ hours travel to Manchester got us to the hotel and Event City with a few hours to spare. Ferg and I headed to the grinders. I got pounded while he made it to the final of one of them. He eventually lost to a guy we saw in the day 2 Grand Prix.

Block Constructed Grand Prix

I was already bored of block so wasn’t really in the right mind set not expecting to do well.

Round 1 vs Andrew Salkeld, Blue White

I can’t remember much of my first round but it was a 2-1 victory. First game I beat down taking nothing. Third game I stabilise at 15 and eat away at life.

Round 2 vs Daniel De Swarte, Red Green (1-0)

Awesome, round 2 and I’m already facing a Scottish player. One who is better than me, a judge and got to the final of the Game Day. I believe this is one of the many games where I flood out to nothing losing 2-1.

Round 3 vs Gary Baker (1-1), Chapin

I can’t remember any misplays from this game so must have just lost to the better deck and player. Ho-hum, *glances at side events*.

Round 4 vs Craig Banach (1-2)

Oh hey there Scottish player number 2. I expected a mirror match and he doesn’t disappoint. What does disappoint is the main deck Hall of Triumph and Feast of Dreams. It sits at 1-1 and he has tapped out to attack. He’s on 5 life. I have a Tormented Hero on board and only a Boon of Erebos in hand. Now I saw a route to victory last turn but now can’t see what it is. I attack with the Tormented Hero and blank on what to do to win, seeing only 2 more damage in hand. Idiot.

The time is ticking down taking ages between rounds. I see the schedule. If I win the next round great. If I lose I don’t have time to drop and go to the Modern event. I drop and go to write up the decklist for Modern.

Slightly disappointed but not unexpected for the GP. I should have been 2-2 but was just not into it and didn’t concentrate. I don’t know if I would do another block GP. The games were boring with about 2 decks which worked and everything else a mile behind. With a new set out just a couple of weeks before the GP, changing deck became super expensive or reliant on borrowing lots off friends.

Modern Treasure Chest

I had brought my Modern Goblin deck with me on the slight change I wouldn’t Day 2 *cough*. Joining another 52 players I was really looking forward to playing a silly deck.

What stands out is that in 6 rounds I played 6 different decks. Yay, lot’s of practice with Gobbos do the Jobbo.

Round One vs Alexander Mortimer, Red Blue Storm

I manage to win the match 2-0 with Alex stumbling in his storm. We play a couple of fun games after so I get to see how it goes off.

Round Two vs Matthew Thomson (1-0), Green White Hexproof

I win the first match but fold under a giant hexproof, vigilant, lifelink dude. Sure, I can side in Krenko and spam tokens to block but if you drop a Rancor I’m trading dozens of cards to stall you. I try and race in game 2 and 3 and don’t succeed.

Round Three vs Joshua Buchan (1-1), Blue White Red Control

All those remands, mana leaks and so on take their toll and I lose. Having great fun doing so. It really can’t be stressed enough. I have more fun getting stomped with Goblins in Modern than I do winning with Mono Black in Standard. I think the first game was flashing in a Restoration Angel to block and then bolt my dorks. I don’t get his life to single figures in either match.

Round Four vs Branoc Richards (1-2), Ninja Bear Delver

I’m on the play, drop a mountain and a Legion Loyalist. I can’t believe I’ve lost to fucking goblins states my opponent with his head in his hands. Er, I assume that’s not a concession, we play on. He gets extra card draw but not enough to make a difference. I have tears streaming at one point from us laughing at a silly topdeck. I win the match 2-0. His friend comes over after playing Travis Woo and he tell him the story of the match.

It’s getting late and I’m really feeling tired now. I can’t stress enough how much the bring snacks and drinks advice was useful. Given the heat in the hall it’s great to nip outside between matches too.

Round Five vs Matt Wakeford (2-2) Red Green Tron

It’s all to play for, sitting at 2-2 with 2 rounds to go, got to get in the prizes.

He is on the play and assembles Tron on turn 3. Passing turn, I play the land and Blood Moon I have in my hand. It always surprises people if they see it game one. Considering some decks play 2-3 basics it’s a no-brainer to me. The few occasions it’s not needed or that I top deck that instead of burn are far outweighed by the number of times you can basically lock your opponent.

Game 2 my opening hand contains 3 Mountains and a Blood Moon. First time I’ve seen it all day and turns up at the perfect time. Fair enough he’s not the biggest target for it, but every little helps.

Round Six vs Simon Smith (3-2), Robots

Simon was sitting next to me in the previous match so I know what to expect. A Blood Moon shows up again, not the best card against the deck, but still stops the Nexuses being used to kill me with infect. I win through ending up 4-2 overall gaining 4 packs. The winner and runner up get phat loot including fetchlands, legacy lands and a From the Vaults.

Day 2 – Modern Championship

I find out that Brad has made it to Day 2. Fantastic result. Some Scot we haven’t heard of is sitting 9-0 too. We have some time in the morning so we all sit tuning decks. Ray Doyle manages to cut my curve by a buttload after remembering a silly combo that used to exist.

Round One vs Nicolas Debacker, Green White Flash

I win the first match with a Kitchen Finks being his only play, so I’m not 100% sure what deck he is playing. We wins game 2 after playing Obstinate Baloth and flickering it twice with a Restoration Angel so it’s all down to the third match. I eventually get the board state to where he has 2 life, 3 open mana and a Restoration Angel in hand. Looking at the board I have enough to deal 12 damage, even if he flickers the Baloth and goes to 6 I can get through for 6 damage. Just win on the nose.

Round Two vs Charlie Ringer (1-0), Jund

I haven’t played against the new version of Jund yet so am looking forward to it. A turn one Goblin Guide reveals a Dark Confidant. The look on his face tells me he won’t be playing it…

He eventually manages to kill all my guys and in game 2 ends up with Dead Alan time.

Round Three vs Leonard Smith (1-1), The Rock

I hadn’t seen anyone play this deck before, so when he plays nothing but black spells in game 1 I figure he is some kind of control deck. Turns out he’s just mana screwed. So I have no idea what to expect. Game 2 he plays a Phyrexian Obliterator. Hmm, I have two mountains and three Goblins in play. It’s time for game 3. We go back and forth a bit and I get him to two life with a stalled board. Eventually draw a Goblin Grenade after chumping with my last Goblin. If any of the last 5 draws had been a burn spell of some kind… Oh well.

Round Four vs Olivier Lejeune (1-2), Blue White

So I’m 2-1 down but getting a lot of practice against decks I don’t normally play. These two side events have been totally worth it.

Game 1 I manage to get a Turn 4 win.

Game 2, turn 1 I play a Goblin Guide, he bolts it. Turn 2 I drop a Legion Loyalist and a Goblin Guide, double Lightning Bolt. Hmm what a pain, at least that’s 9 damage not at my face and only stopping him taking 6, but still. I get him to 1 life. He then double Lightning Helix to clear my board and stabilise beating me to death with a Restoration Angel.

Game 3 I manage to fight through a Wrath of God

Round Five vs Aaron Lipshitz (2-2), Green White Black

Game 1 treats me to another turn 4 kill, with him being on 12 life at start of turn.

Game 2 is probably a story he can tell. He gets me down to 2 life, clears my board and he is on 29 after a poor removal decision by me following a Blood Moon. How does he kill me, well with a Noble Hierarch. How does it get through my Goblins? It doesn’t, it grants exalted to a Birds of Paradise. Raced and beaten by a 0/1 flyer. Only playing goblins do you get such nonsense.

Game 3 I get him down from 18 to 2 on turn 3. He scoops.

The disappointing news has come through that Brad has lost in the quarter finals. I’m now the only person in our car in a tournament. I figure it will be quick so I’ll play one more round, conceding if it looks like I may be in a winning position so that I don’t knock someone out of prizes then drop.

Round Six vs Jonas Wienand (3-2), Storm

I sit down opposite a guy who has come all the way from Cologne for the weekend.

In game 1 I get him to 2 before he storms off and hits me for lethal with Grapeshot.

Game 2, he slowly eats away at my life with tokens from Empty the Warrens but I win out.

For Game 3 I get the travel buddies around us to watch. I slowly eat away at live. He salvages the match by killing a Legion Loyalist I top deck, which would have let me push through his tokens for lethal. I am on 17 and he is stalled on 2 for turn after turn. I just need a burn spell of some kind. He manages to storm off, casting Lightning Bolt and copying twice, down to 8. He then flashes it back and copies it twice. Oh well. Close though. I sign the slip, drop and wish him well.

Overall a fun weekend. I do wish I had not bothered with the main event though and played a Chaos Draft or something on the Saturday morning instead. I wasn’t up for it and my playing reflected it. Oh well. I really enjoyed all the modern matches and some of the block. I don’t think I met anyone I took a dislike too either which was a bonus.


01
May 14

MtG Journey Into Nyx Pre-Release

The new Set of magic was out and with the Manchester Grand Prix coming up it was our first chance to see the cards which we will add to existing decks or build new ones.

The first day I opened an absolutely insane pool with 5 Blue/Black cards, a temple and a Keranos which I splashed for. The deck I came up with was this:

With a new plugin which displays cards on hover here’s the Sealed Pool Day One:

Creatures: (14)
Rotted Hulk
Crackling Triton
Crystalline Nautilus
Servant of Tymaret
Siren of the Silent Song
Sealock Monster
Disciple of Deceit
Doomwake Giant
King Macar, the Gold-Cursed
Master of the Feast
Tromokratis
Keranos, God of Storms

Spells: (8)
Read the Bones
Griptide
Lash of the Whip
Pin to the Earth
Hubris
Asphyxiate

Fixing: (1)
Traveler’s Amulet

Land: (17)
Temple of Mystery
Mountain
Island
Swamp

Board: (6)
Sea God’s Revenge
Oracle’s Insight
Thassa’s Bounty
Dark Betrayal
Retraction Helix

The removal was pretty sweet so I was looking forward to running it.

Round 1 vs Tom Bull

After a long weekend I can’t remember the details of this match and didn’t write down their decktype so can’t remember it. They mulled in first game and I win 2-0. In game one they scooped on 12 when I had a massive board presence and had cleared theirs.

Round 2 vs Craig Low (Black White), 1-0 (2-0)

My life didn’t drop below 16 in either game and my two Dark Betrayal‘s in the board replaced the Asphyxiate and Lash of the Whip to reduce the removal cost.

Round 3 vs James Bulloch (Red White aggro), 2-0 (4-0)

James is a frequent visitor through to Dundee for events so we chatted a bit before playing and then got it started. I had the nut draws and just dealt with every threat he made once I was on 10 life. On game 2 I managed to stabilise on 11. Pin to the Earth is just so damn good. Sure your 3 drop hasty guy can hit me once and then He’ll be useless. It does miff me that it doesn’t remove flying as that’s the damn name…

Round 4 vs Andy Davies (Black Red), 3-0 (6-0)

Andy is another regular at Highlander so I was pleased one of us would make it through to the final.

Game 1 we slowly beat down at each other and I was finally the victor on 5 life. The Master of the Feast really did the work despite allowing him to draw more cards. Holding him off until I could take control. The dark betrayals immediately came in from the board.

Game 2 he goes up to 26 life with me on 12 and losing control. I manage to topdeck removal and stabilise on 1 life with him on 27. That single point that changes every combat calculation and is the only one that matters. I get out King Macar, the Gold-Cursed and a combat trick allows him to get through and then Inspired on the untap step. I remove his big threat and he’s left with a load of small creatures, the same number of dorks as me and 2 guys pinned to the earth. I exile each guy he drops and slowly grind down until I have a board of 6 creatures to his 2 pinned to the earth. The removal suite in this deck is insane and once I stabilised it was all over. An epic two matches. I’m up against Charlie in the final. His game was next to us and finished early and I just see his horrified looks at what my deck is able to do if it runs right.

Round 5 vs Charie Grant (Blue White flyers), 4-0 (8-0)

I go into the final without dropping a single match and an opponent who is scared of my deck. I try not to be too confident though as if he gets his flyers out before I can deal with them I’m toast.

The first match is an absolute grind fest with him recovering his life and slowly eating away at mine. A chump blocker who regains 1 life every turn is pretty good but I just can’t cope with the amount of flyers he has. Bouncing them just delays the inevitable and he wins through.

In game two I keep a hand with two swamps, a load of Bx cards and 2 bounce spells. The next land I draw is a mountain. Then two more swamps and another mountain. The splash for Keranos kills me by colour screwing me. A sad end to an epic match with a pretty insane sealed pool. Charlie deserves the win as his deck is superb and he plays it really well.

I end up in 3rd due to tiebreakers with 4-1 (8-2) being the record.

Final Vs Charlie

Final Vs Charlie

Sealed Pool Day Two

Creatures: (13)
Cavern Lampad
Pharika’s Chosen
Sigiled Starfish
Servant of Tymaret
Squelching Leeches
Cloaked Siren
Mnemonic Wall
Rotted Hulk
Chorus of the Tides
Shipwreck Singer
Whitewater Naiads
Doomwaker Giant

Spells: (10)
Viper’s Kiss
Bile Blight
Pharika’s Cure
Asphixiate
Feast of Dreams
Font of Fortunes
Fate Foretold
Pin to the Earth
Silence the Believers

Land: (17)
10 Swamp
Island

Board: (3)
Hour of Need
Feast of Dreams
Viper’s Kiss

Round 1 vs Steven Clark (White Black)

In the first match against Steven he said this was his 10th ever match. After we started I felt pretty bad as he was making a few obviously less than optimal plays and my deck was pretty decent. I pointed out his triggers and ability to drain me life at the end of my turn and so on. I also suggested he not play his new creatures before attacking tapped out etc (a bad habit I had from a Portal Starter set until someone pointed it out). This is what pre-releases are for though. New players playing with new sets and learning the new mechanics.

Round 2 vs Fraser Madden (Red Green), 1-0 (2-0)

I win the first game with my two deathtouch snakes holding off the aggro attack. A 2-0 win from some topdecking where I get every answer when I need it.

Round 3 vs Ray Doyle (Red White), 2-0 (4-0)

Great, up against one of the best players in the shop and I expect to lose badly. You know sitting down he will make no misplays. Ray also scoops his cards when he knows it’s done to quickly move onto the next game.

Ray keeps a poor hand and scoops on 16 after I lock his board down. He smashes through me in game 2 when I get mana screwed and draw nothing but fat. Game 3 is a bit more even but then he controls the board and I have nothing.

Round 4 vs Robert Meek (Green Black), 2-1 (5-2)

A decisive win in game one with some fat just blocking his board until I can get through. Get the Exile cards and can wipe it all and smash through.

Game two is a slow one with Servant of Tymaret eating away at live.

Round 5 vs Simon Larg (Red White), 3-1 (7-2)

Simon playing an aggro deck is a bit of a worry. In game one I hold him off before defeating him with the fat. Game two he smashes through my defences before I can stabilise at all ending on 23 life himself.

It’s all down to game three. A few turns in I get out Shipwreck Singer and his eyes pop open looking at his field of X/1s. I slowly grind away forcing his guys to attack and either reducing toughness to 0 or blocking with fat to kill whilst holding back bounce spells in case he does shenanigans. By the end of the game his graveyard is massive and when checking he only had 5 creatures left in his deck. A 2-1 win puts me in contention to top 4.

Round 6 vs Fraser Lawson (Black White), 4-1 (9-3)

Fraser has the advantage of me having watched the end of the game. He doesn’t have much to worry about in game one. He kills me in blobs of five ending on 20 life having wavered a bit.

Game two I get some damage in but he get’s 2 final points of damage in before I can get in the 3 I need against him.

Some awesome games and I finish 7th with 4-2 (9-5) record. The deck was nowhere near as good as the previous one and so it seemed a decent finish with it.

Pre-release weekend

Apparently some unlucky chump also opened a pack they dubbed The ByeDeck.dek and scrubbed out only winning the bye. The shop owner looked over it afterwards declaring There’s not 5 playables in any colour. It would suck to be that guy.


14
Apr 14

MtG -Warsaw Grand Prix Trial

This Sunday saw the Grand Prix Trial take place for Warsaw. I was mostly interested in points to grind to try and get a bye for Grand Prix Manchester. At constructed on Thursday, my Mono Black Devotion deck was pretty poor. This was not helped by three of the four match ups being against Green which has recently been a bit tougher due to hexproof and the card advantage they get. I had a look round and switched to a Mono Black Devotion deck more able to compete against green, closer to one I ran at the start of Theros.

On Sunday there were only 14 players so I knew 3-1 would get me into top 8, 2-2 might scrape in on tiebreakers but I was still hopeful to top 8.

Round 1 vs Jamie Lessels (Esper)

I had played Jamie before but couldn’t remember how the match up went. After mulling to 6 I got a T1 Thoughtseize taking a Supreme Verdict. He still had one and a Detention Sphere which I later stripped too. I managed to grind away winning game 1. For game two I sided in the 4 Duress and dropped a chunk of removal.

Excellent sideboard card

Excellent sideboard card

We shuffle up and I feel pretty dirty. Turn 1 Duress removes a counter spell. Turn 2 I topdeck a Thoughseize so use that and the other Duress in hand to remove an Elspeth and Verdict. His hand was all land and mine was an Underworld Connections, third land and 3 drop. It was pretty tense though and he wavered between 1-5 life for a few turns slowly removing things until I managed to win through.

Round 2 vs Neil Cuthbertson (Rakdos Aggro), 1-0 (2-0)

A thoughtseize made sure to leave him with a Doom Blade but there was nothing I could do about the number of threats he made. Neil made a number of good plays and decisions on what to play stopping me getting any 2for1s beating me 2-0.

Round 3 vs John Lynch (Red-Green Aggro), 1-1 (2-2)

I guessed he would be playing green and was worried as it gets a lot of extra draw through Planeswalkers and Courser. My opening hand was 3 * Hero’s Downfall an Underworld Connections and 3 swamp so I was pretty confident I could stabilise. I did and managed to slowly eat away his board presence whilst dropping Demons etc. He scooped on 15 life when he had nothing on board, no hand and with me having 3 Mutavaults and 2 Demons on the field whilst being on 6 life.

Game 2 went similar with a scoop on 15 life with no board. He just got flooded out both games.

Round 4 vs Sion Bayliss (Green), 2-1 (4-2)

Winning this match would make me top 8, losing meant I relied on my tiebreakers which I assumed would be quite poor based on results I had heard from previous opponents.

I think over 2 games I saw 3 Polukranos and 4 Courser of Kruphix. Game 1 at one point ended with me having no board, him with 1 of each of them and two planeswalkers. Welcome to scoopsville, population Alan.

Lifegain, sometimes free cards, great blocker. Bah

Lifegain, sometimes free cards, great blocker. Bah

Ho-hum looks like it’s down to tiebreakers.

Results are announced and someone had a durdle deck which resulted in a silly amount of draws pushing me into about 5th place. Bizarre.

Round 5 (quarter) vs Sion Bayliss (Green), 2-2 (4-4)

Hmm when the prize packs are put down for the loser I just move them to my side of the table and say we’ll get on with the formality of you wrecking me again then. Having lost every dice roll all day I was facing an opponent higher in the standings than me who had just smashed me.

I somehow manage to curve out perfectly and get the right removal at the right time winning 2-0.

A bit confused I move on to the semis.

Round 6 (semi) vs Neil Cuthbertson (Rakdos Aggro), 3-2 (6-4)

In some cruel jest I now face the other player who beat me in the Swiss.

Game 1 I manage to strip his hand of removal and drop Demons on curve winning the race and forcing him to sac his board.

Game 2 I rip out both his Hero’s Downfall and manage to beat down with a Demon and Nightveil Specter after he turn 4 Slaughter Games for Gary.

NightveilSpecter

Round 7 (final) vs Colin Lawrie (Dimir control), 4-2 (8-4)

Having won an FNM and been in the final of a couple this was my first proper tournament final.

I catch the end of the other semi and see a mainly creature based deck. I keep a removal heavy hand and am punished for it, removal gets countered and a Master of Waves and Mutavault assault leaves me dead with him on 22 life.

1-0 down against a control deck. Baws.

Game 2 I side in about 9 including the Duress and Bile Blight, Whip etc removing some creatures including some Pack Rats and Demons. I think Lifebane, Nightveil and Mutavault might be a better route. I make a horrible mistake early, dropping an Underworld Connections to bring Erebos live. This is to bait Colin into saccing his Ratchet Bomb on 3 so I can start dropping more Connections and a Demon. He does and I have to buy cards to 1 life to dig out of it. I get a Gary and swing up to 7. Buy again to 1 and then get up to 9. The incremental card advantage ekes me out a victory bringing it to 1-1.

Game 3 and there’s fowk in the shop cheering for each of us. No pressure like. I play an Underworld Connections on Turn 3 which isn’t countered. Colin responds by naming Swamp. For this reason alone I run different temples. By turn 5 I have two Underworld Connections on board. He gradually gets rid of a lot of my creatures and uses Jace to take removal and counter spells. At one point I have the choice between a Syncopate and two Thoughtseize. I know he has a removal spell in hand so I let him get the two Thoughtseize. He takes two cards from me leaving himself with no black open. Next turn I swing with Nightveil Specter getting an Opportunity. That goes well with my two blue sources. I end up buying a lot of cards and end the game with 12 mana and two usable Underworld Connections to his 5 mana. There was not a lot he could do really in the circumstance, bad draws on his end and no extra mana from Jaces left him static for a while whilst I was drawing 3 cards per turn.

Opportunity

I somehow managed to win the Grand Prix trial.

I really felt I was punished for every mistake I made in this match up – getting two for one’d every chance he could. Pretty tough going.

So should I want to go I get two Byes in Warsaw. Let’s hope I can do decently at the next few tourneys to earn a bye for Manchester 107 points down, 293 to go.

LeaderboardAfterGPT


04
Mar 14

This Week, er Month in Gaming

I thought it would be more amusing to extend the delay from posts. The main reason was not many new games being played in the first two weeks after last post. Over the past three weeks or so the fun new games played have been:

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Deck-Building Game was played for the first time and I thought it was quite fun. Not as good as DC Deckbuilder game though.

I managed to get another couple of games of Resistance but unfortunately some of the group made a couple of bad plays so the first two games ended 3-0 to the glorious Freedom Fighters.

At my parents one night and my two nieces were playing Happy Families. I was challenged and managed to beat them both. Yay. I’m better at kids games than children. When playing games against kids I tend to allow a bit of leeway by making a few mistakes/sub-optimal plays if they are beginners to the game but then get ruthless once they know the game. As a kid I remember the joy I had when I was finally able to beat Ben, my sort-of Great Uncle when he taught me to play Chess. But only because he had thrashed me for tens of games beforehand.

Cards Against Humanity appears to have taken over as the beginner game of choice from Fluxx at the pub. When it throws up classics like this though it can be forgiven.
CardsAgainstHumanityBelter

Mancala is a game I hadn’t had a chance to play and it was really tricky to get going with. I have no idea the long term strategy in it and am sure there’s probably a few moves you can make where you are guaranteed to lose 10 turns later if you do them etc.

The highlight of the past few weeks of gaming though has to be DC Comics Deck-Building Game: Heroes Unite.

batgirl

This works for 2-5 players and is both stand alone and can be mixed and merged with the first DC game. So far I’ve managed to play with all playable counts of players and about half the heroes enjoying them all.

There are some fantastic combos available with recursively playing the same cards again and again. In two player this can get a bit silly.

Ignoring the advice online we decided to just go ahead and mix the two games together 100%. It was stupidly fun but a total trainwreck. Flash got filtering to remove 2 vulnerabilities and then a location early which quickly snowballed into 4 locations and a minimum draw of 7 per turn. We got McCartney’d big style.

I’ll definitely be picking up the first now too.


11
Feb 14

This Week, er Fortnight in Gaming

With the tiredness at end of the Magic PTQ I was a bit mashed from gaming so haven’t played as much in the last two weeks.

Within that time there has been the Born of the Gods pre-release/release.

Other games I have managed have included The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Deck-Building Game. This was quite enjoyable. I had liked the DC game and the Penny Arcade one is ok so this theme probably appeals to me most out of the three. Would like to play the second one and then them mixed together now though.

I also played some Hearthstone after a few fowk mentioned it. It seemed ok, I quickly unlocked all the base decks and then played one random online game for the achievement but didn’t get further than that.

I played some Settlers of Catan for the first time in ages and it was fun as per.

I avoided Flappy Bird as it looked shit.

And that’s about it really, not a lot of new gaming to report. Let’s see this week.


28
Jan 14

This Week In Gaming

This weeks gaming was taken up by a lot of prep for the Magic PTQ in Dundee on Saturday.

Wednesday 22nd January

I managed to get a couple of test games of Magic against a Red/Green deck, something I lacked experience of, before more people arrived. When they did we broke out Red Dragon Inn and had some hilarity. Once that was done we cracked out the UK edition of Cards Against Humanity for the first time. I enjoyed it more than the US edition due to losing a load of references which are meaningless, replacing them with ones about Jimmy Saville etc. I think the favourite answer I put was for super hero duo where I had Pussy Galore and Dick Fingers which was pretty difficult to compete with. We followed it with some more Red Dragon Inn.

Thursday 23th January

Constructed night at Highlander

Round 1 vs Marcus Heder

I’m playing against an Esper control deck by Marcus who has previously beaten me with it. My Nightveil Specters do the work though and let me cast a Jace and a Divination (countered). Game 2 I forget to side in Mortars for Blood Baron but still manage to push it through winning 2-0.

NightveilSpecter

Round 2 vs Tom Clark

Playing a big red deck played by Tom, who has beaten me with it and then loaned to a friend to beat me with it. I prepare to go 1-1.

Game 1 I win whilst on 1 life after a pretty epic match. I have 2 Blood Crypts in play. My Nightveils let me cast a Fanatic of Mogis and a Stormbreath Dragon. I later manage to Chain a Boros Reckoner to a Blood Crypt. Splashing for shocks/scrys to let this happen has paid off in both matches so far.

Game 2 I lose. Game 3 manage to stabilise and then push through with Demons.

Round 3 vs Marc Mirror Match Ferg Ferguson

The last time we played in a competition it went to to top decking in game 3 with us both on 1 life.

This time I win both matches finishing the final one on 35 after Gary shenanigans.

Round 4 – the final – vs Phi Nguyen

A match against red green monsters has me pretty smashed as he gets way more card draw than I through Garruk. Oh well, I finish 2nd in a 16 person tournament which is pretty good prep for Saturday.

Garruk the cheater cheat card of card advantage

Garruk the cheater cheat card of card advantage

Friday 24th January

FNM at Major Arcana is a must having the PTQ the next day.

Round 1 vs Richard Crosby

I sit down with a player I don’t recognise and have his friend tell me he’s only been playing 2 weeks. Ouch this might be rough. I get an amazing hand and win both games quickly. He’s playing a 2 colour deck which has a few guildgates. It looks ok so I point out some minor mistakes he had made. He had a spare deck with him so I suggested he take that and play and I would play with his deck – open handed explaining my plays as I went. Hopefully it helped – I think he won some games later.

Round 2 vs Anand Alagappan

Great, Anand is a good player playing White/Green which if I don’t have enough removal can take over against me. The first game goes on for ages – The scores swing either way due to Armadillo Cloaked Loxodon Smiters vs my Whip. It’s 4-21 then 14-17; 14-13, 2-25 then 14-13, 22-5. I win a few turns later and Lifebane Zombie is the obvious sideboard option.

Armadillo Cloak 2.0

Armadillo Cloak 2.0

I win game two after managing to pump up two Nightveils, one with a Boon Satyr the other with Armadillo Cloak. Stealing a Forest and splashing for Black White scry pays off again.

Round 3 vs James Goring

He’s White/Black so it’s a case of me Thoughtseizing his Blood Baron and him Sin Collecting my removal. I manage to win 2-0.

Two nights in a row I go into a final round 3-0. This time we are a round short due to lateness and 30 players so we have 3 of us on 3-0.

Round 4 vs John Mc Cartney

And it’s a repeat of last nights final round – Green Red monsters. First game I keep a solid opening hand – 2 Swamps, 2 Pack Rats, Doom Blade and some other removal.

Turn 4 I see no land so swing and kill Domri. Turn 5, same story to kill Xenagos. Turn 6, no mana and this time it’s Garruk my rats kill.

I have a hand of 3-4 drops, 2 * 2/2 Pack Rats and a board opposite of around 8 mana including some mana dorks. It ends with me on 4 mana able to replace a rat, kill one dude or make a Specter each turn.

Game 2 is a repeat. Oh well, I finish 3rd with another 3-1.

Saturday 25th January

I elected to not go out on Friday night (shock), which proved unnecessary. Firstly due to the Scottish record turn out of 139 delaying the start. Secondly due to the result of the first three matches. I had been concerned about being mana screwed a couple of times but hadn’t had time to trial the deck with a sensibly increased count so went with it as is, rather than risk breaking a different element at this late stage. Probably a mistake.

Round 1 vs Jared Stovin

He’s playing Red with a splash of white. He wins first game due to me being totally mana screwed and I win game 2 to come back to 1-1. I totally forget to side against Assemble the Legions and get overwhelmed in game 3.

Black mana black mana, what you gonna do, what you gonna do with no Infest to use

Black mana black mana, what you gonna do, what you gonna do with no Infest to use

Round 2 vs Lewis Crombie

I sit down opposite a player with mono blue, a deck I haven’t faced in months. Crap – no idea what to side etc. I lose the first game to a Thassa. Game 2 I keep a dodgy 1 land keep on the play due to Thoughtseize and not wanting to get even more boned going down to 5 or so. I am pretty resigned to losing at this point anyway. He has the total nut draw and I remove a Thassa still leaving me dead in a few turns if I don’t draw land, which I don’t.

Round 3 vs Craig Banach

None of the locals with Commander decks etc have went 0-2 so I stay in for now. Craig is playing Red Green which is what destroyed me in the last two final games. It’s a repeat story, Garruk drawing more dudes than I can remove. 1-2 and me at 0-3/2-6 whichever way you look at it.

Round 4 vs Michael Little

I sit now facing a new player, whos deck I had given some advice to on Friday.

I win 2-0 with the most memorable move being to face a Heliod, bestowed Hoplite and Fabled Hero. A forced sac leaves him with a Fabled Hero and the God now and enchantment. An attack in match two with 2 pack rats turns into me discarding two cards to make them 4/4s and wrath his board. The other part was not seeing him play a creature so Thoughtseizing to remove a pro-black spell etc so he his hand empty. He had been dropping land for the past 3 turns then moving his hand below table so I hadn’t realised. D’oh!

Round 5 vs Connor Stewart

Sitting at 1-3 and it’s mirror time. I lose game 1 but manage to drop Gary in game two for the win. Game 3 I win so sit at 2-3. I can remember nothing of this match, which is the reason I stopped playing Black before, the games all merge into 1 especially in the mirror. Drop stuff, remove stuff, combat trick, Gary for the win.

Gary super Common

Gary super Common

Round 6 vs Callum Palin

This is a Red White deck, which I always find can overwhelm if I don’t have enough removal. Sure enough he wins Game 1 but I only see mountains so have no idea he will have Assemble the Legions in the board.

Game 2 he drops a Plains and a Favored Hoplite. I Thoughtseize on Turn 2 and see a Daring Skyjet, a burn spell, 2 Madcap Skills and 2 Banisher Priests. Holy crap, he kept a 1 lander that is dodgy but with 2 land would be horrible. I take the Madcap skills and Turn 3 drop a Lifebane Zombie exiling a Banisher Priest (irony etc). I win and then panic. I hadn’t sided in my cards to deal with Assemble the Legions. I go to board saying this and he says with sincerity he doesn’t run it. I believe him and don’t bring them in, shocked. Sure enough he doesn’t as I see after I win the third game.

Post games he says he didn’t know what to side so I point out what he has, I think he took out some cards great against mono-black although it escapes me what now.

Round 7 vs Gary Smith

Another match against a local player. I know his deck, not having played it, but it’s a Red/Green monsters deck. We both say beforehand this is the worst match up for each other. I’m surprised as the creature draw advantage he gets should push him ahead.

I win game 1. For game 2 I bring in Lifebane Zombies but he wins it due to Garruk with one hit giving 4 creatures including a Burning Tree and a Sylvan Caryatid. I manage to win Game 3 which sits me at 4-3. Positive record! Only took 7 matches.

Round 8 vs Alastair Headden

Another Red/White deck, I get mana screwed again and get destroyed in both matches.

That was my second PTQ, the first being Modern, where I borrowed a deck which I had played at one Constructed night and finished 2-4. To come 4-4 at the next is definitely an improvement. I didn’t expect to do much better but had hoped to end with a positive record, especially after the last two constructed tournaments where I ended in top 2/3.

Sunday 26th January

I take it easy chewing the fat at Highlander and grabbing some games of Commander. After tea I get to play Sentinels of the Multiverse but I think either we were lucky or took an awesome selection of characters as we easily beat the boss. Afterwards Higglebottom turned up so I got some pack wars in. My luck continues with him getting value in every pack and me getting trash.

Sentinals

Monday 27th January

A slight household emergency interrupts my plans to get some X-Com in. I settle for some Cockatrice with Ferg where we playtest a deck idea we had. Followed by some Legacy and Modern nonsense.

Tuesday 28th January

Pretty burned out after non-stop Magic all week and then annoyed that my blog post dies at lunchtime I settle for writing this as my gaming thing for the day.