29
Mar 17

Amonkhet Masterpieces – Abomination Series

In 2 of the last 3 Magic: The Gathering blocks they have included ultra super mega rare cards called Masterpieces. These were of a different theme and style each time. Zendikar had Expeditions. Kaladesh had Inventions. The intention is to do this kind of thing in all Standard sets.

After seeing the new ones for Amonkhet I immediately thought they were horrible.

I’ll make the assumption that you are familiar with normal magic cards, so here are the problems that stand out in order of importance for me:

Font used for the name of the card and typeline

Without knowing the name of this card would you be able to read that and tell it correctly immediately.

If you can, do you think everyone can? Including those with visual problems? There is someone who regularly comes to pre-releases at my store who has to pick up new cards and move them right up to their nose to read them.

What about people in other countries? These are all going to be in English. For someone who doesn’t speak English, or a latin character based language how easy would it be to read what those characters are?

What about a new player who is not familiar with what one of them does? The rationale of Russian foils and Elesh Norn phyrexian language cards being the same falls apart when you realise a new player at their first pre-release won’t open one of them or face it across the table.

Extra characters on the type line

The problem of the font being hard to read is made worse by it being padded by similar characters to either side.

Colour identity of card

It took seeing a number of these cards before I could tell what the colour identity was. Normally the frame shows that, including for multicolour cards.

The other clue of the casting cost is also gone. You don’t realise how much you subconsciously used the colour of the casting cost as well as the symbol before it was removed.

Artwork size

There is a comparison image I found, with unattributed source unfortunately. this shows various printings of Wrath of God. This shows the art to be about 10% smaller. You can also see gradual changes to the style of cards over the years as well as a full art textless one.

Orientalism

Whilst it is great to use sets based on real cultures there is a feint whiff of Orientalism to the whole thing. This may be unfounded so I won’t expand.

Border Colour

There are rules about the border colour of cards being used in tournaments (I’ll leave aside my support for more gold and silver bordered sets). I didn’t initially realise these count as black bordered. Mainly because the border is a mess.

There are some good things about the design though:

It’s good to try out new ideas. One response I saw repeated though was that this was trying too many things all at once. There were mock ups where the font on the name and type line were left using the normal font and they look a lot better and probably wouldn’t have resulted in the same volume of negative reactions. One repeated image on twitter was the car designed by Homer Simpson where he changed practically everything to suit himself and it resulted in a complete mess.

The art is amazing. It’s just a shame it’s reduced in size.

The theme is spot on. Leaving aside my worry about it veering into Orientalism, for a set which is inspired by Egyptian mythology it’s bang on for style.

Centring text looks pretty good. Some of the mock ups of improving text showed the text still centred and it looks cool.

Overall I’m pretty disappointed with these. Masterpieces in the sets they have been included with have been seen as lottery tickets. Ultra rare cards which probably have a high demand and you can throw in a commander deck. These would stand out from every other cards in lot’s of negative ways.

Mostly though, I’m disappointed that the accessibility issues of these cards hasn’t been considered a high enough priority to put a halt to them at some point in the design process. The worst part of this being that even if these are only printed in this and the next set then they will be around forever. They can also be encountered in multiple versions of the game – Modern, Legacy, Commander so we will face seeing them across table and not being able to read them, or recognise them (based on new art) for the foreseeable future.


01
Jun 15

A year of Magic

After starting playing Magic at the start of 2013, the last year has seen me improve a lot and play a lot more. I’ve tried to not let it overtake all my other nerdery (board games, computer games etc), but it does tend to dominate.

2014 saw me go to a number of events and for the next yearly period (Jun 02 2014-May 31 2015) I set myself some goals. Time to see how well I did.

Seasonal Score: 400

400 points per season was the marker to get 1 bye at a Grand Prix so I wanted to hit this each season. Wizards then decided to change the bye policy. So don’t know if I hit that or not. I’ll assume I did as my score for the year is more than 4 times that.

Yearly Score: 1300

After the bye scoring was changed I decided I would instead target 1300 points for the year to make sure I then got 1 bye all the next year. I actually hit 2250 so that reached the next target of 2 byes. So for the 2015/2016 season I will have 2 byes at every Grand Prix I attend.

Scottish Season 2014-2015 showing some local players too

Scottish Season 2014-2015 showing some local players too

Scotland Lifetime: Top 100

I ended up being 75th which was pretty cool. Seeing someone you know a few points ahead of you in the lifetime or yearly standings was a good motivation to keep going to events. I know for lots of people they never even look at these stats but I found it a good marker to keep track of progress.

Scottish Lifetime Rankings

Scottish Lifetime Rankings

Grand Prix: attend at least two

I ended up attending Utrecht and Liverpool. I did awful at them but that’s not the point :D. They were two different formats: Standard and Sealed.

Pro Tour Qualifier: Positive Record

4-3-0, 1-2-0, 4-3-0
Were an improvement on the previous years 4-4-0 and 2-4-0. I dropped in the second one as the World Cup Trials were happening for the World Cup Qualifier the next day – getting a bye in that seemed more important when my score meant I couldn’t top 8.

World Cup Qualifier: Attend all three

After attending only Dundee ones I wanted to travel to all three.
3-4-0, 3-4-0 and 3-4-1 would have probably been good for me at the start of the year.

When Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifiers were announced I decided I would try to:

Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifiers: Make 1 top 8 per season

I achieved this by losing a final with Red (splash white) Standard in Season 1 and losing a semi final with Goblins Modern in Season 2.

Leave Dundee for some events

The previous year I had only attended events in Dundee, and in Manchester whilst visiting for work. Over the last year I have attended 2 Grand Prixs as well as competitive events in Glasgow (Spellbound and Geek Retreat), Black Lion Edinburgh, Common Ground Stirling and Little Shop of Heroes Dunfermline.

Other changes over the year

I think the biggest downside of the year was the closure of Major Arcana. It left Highlander Games being the sole games shop in Dundee. The ownership of Highlander also changed.

Goals for next Year:

I swithered over whether to publish my goals for next year but sod it. I have set a pile of goals which try to improve on last year without needing me to dedicate the time that would make Wizard Poker take over even more of my spare time.

Grand Prix: attend at least 2, have positive record

London is one, any other UK ones (don’t think there are any) and then at least one in mainland Europe is the plan.

World Magic Cup Qualifier: attend all three, positive record in all, top 8 in one

This time last year I was barely using a proper deck, over the last year I’ve been paying a lot more attention to the meta game and trying to have a standard deck based around it. Instead of trading random bulk rares for more I’ve been trading into staples – for example getting a playset of all the fetchlands early on. Having hit top 8 at some competitive events but with a poor record (2/9?) I would hope to hit 1 out of 3 for these. This is a stretch goal and I doubt I’ll hit it.

Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifier: top 8 at least once per season, win once

Having hit one top 8 per season I think I should try to sustain that, qualifying for one Regional Pro Tour Qualifier being a supplemental goal.

Regular constructed: win at least once per month

Over the last year I have improved a lot at constructed and now almost always have a positive record at the end of the night. I want to make sure this continues by winning at least one event per month.

Yearly overall: Hit 2250 points again

At the start of the last year I aimed to hit about 2/3rds of this. Hitting the same total again this year reduces need to go to Grand Prix Trials for the next year and helps give an incentive to go to more Grand Prixs.

Scotland Lifetime: Top 50

This year I hit 75, so lets see if I can hit number 50 this year. Over the last year I leapfrogged a few people I know don’t play very much any more so if the 25 players above me still play regularly this could be not possible. Right now I am at 3603 points. So if I meet the previous goal that would put me at 5853 points which would as of right now mean 38th so it seems a good midpoint to account for that.

Visit other Scottish games shops: Competitive Events at each store once

I haven’t attended competitive events at Bus Stop Largs, due to the pain in the arse travelling there from Dundee. At least two other shops in Scotland are trying to qualify to be able to host competitive events. So right now it’s Go to a PPTQ at Largs but that may change over the course of the year.

Goal Setting

Goals concept on blackboard

Goals concept on blackboard

So having made all these it should be obvious that they all feed into each other creating a feedback loop. If I don’t attend many events I won’t get the points total. Without the points total I won’t climb the Scottish Lifetime rankings. Doing less events means hitting targets for wins/top 8s becomes more difficult. I’ve tried to create a list of goals which all refer to each other. If I start slipping in one it leads to failing the others so creates motivation (for me) to keep on playing in the way I am and to improve. I also tried to make them all stretches but achievable if I just do a bit better than I did last year.

How do you set goals for competitive gaming? Do you aim for the same as last year? Do you just note landmarks along the way of improvement?

Lifetime Stats

Now after writing about the last year here’s my lifetime stats (via Xamleeg) so can you see on the scale of new player to great player I’m currently at middle of road player.

Overall record: 485 wins, 517 losses, 18 draws
Win percentage ignoring draws: 48%

So I’m still under 50% and playing catch up from when I first started.

Formats

I’ll take out the formats I’ve played 10 or less matches at.

Regular Constructed:

Standard: Overall record: 210-251-10, Wins: 46%

Still below positive although recently I have been having a positive record most nights so hopefully next year I’ll get above 50%.

Modern: Overall record: 85-82-1, Wins: 51%

So I have sneaked ahead into positive in Modern. Goblins OP

Block Constructed: Overall record: 12-20-1, Wins: 38%

Reflects how bad my deck was during Theros block. Looks unlikely to change as that format is kinda binned.

Limited Formats

Booster Draft: Overall record: 80-94-3, Wins: 46%

Still below positive in drafts.

Sealed: Overall record: 59-51-2, Wins: 54%

Above positive in Sealed. The format has always been my favourite limited format.

Trios – Limited: Overall record: 11-8-1, Wins: 58%

Positive here, although I seem to remember it mostly being down to my teammates in these matches.

Tournament type

Competitive events and their feeders

Magic Pro Tour Qualifier: Overall record: 15-16-0, Wins: 49%

This type of tournament has now been retired so looks like I will forever be negative here.

Magic Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifier: Overall record: 39-27-3, Wins: 59%

Dragged up by two top 8 finishes.

World Magic Cup Qualifier Trials: Overall record: 4-3-0, Wins: 58%

Positive here although I can’t seem to remember doing well at them.

World Magic Cup Qualifier: Overall record: 11-15-1, Wins: 42%

Seems my bad first two tries in Dundee dragged me down a bit. Last year I went to all three which will have improved score somewhat.

Magic Grand Prix: Overall record: 9-13-0, Wins: 41%

Seems about right, I’ve sucked at every one I’ve attended.

Magic Grand Prix Trial: Overall record: 37-45-4, Wins: 45%

I’ve won one and lost a couple of finals so expected this to be higher, oh well.

Public Event at Grand Prix: Overall record: 15-11-0, Wins: 58%

Annoyingly a pile of public events at Grand Prixs went down as casual, like Chaos Drafts, so I never got the points boost from them.

Magic Prerelease: Overall record: 55-44-2, Wins: 56%

These tend to be sealed so that may help explain my positive record there.

Magic Game Day: Overall record: 15-21-1, Wins: 42%

The last year I have barely made any of these which hasn’t helped boost record up.

Friday Night Magic: Overall record: 51-37-2, Wins: 58%

A positive record here which is good.

Magic Tournament: Overall record: 215-275-5, Wins: 44%

The generic bucket for sanctioned events, not positive here yet.


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


21
Jan 14

This week in gaming

Unfortunately the upcoming PTQ for Magic has dominated this week. then there’s a pre-release weekend and release weekend. I see much cardboard crack in next few weeks.

Wednesday 15th January

Games night in the pub. We got a few games of Jackpot! in followed by about 6 of Resistance. I really liked it but the strategy was foiled by some mistakes on the part of players leading you to get wrong information. And Ewan being completely unable to bluff. L2B n00b.

Jackpot

Thursday 16th January

Played constructed Magic at Highlander going a poor 1-3 winning a bye. Pre-Christmas my deck was regularly posting positive but since then I have done awful with it.

First game against Campbell I make a hilarious mistake in the second match. I sided in Illness in the Ranks for Assemble the Legion in case I didn’t Thoughtseize them all away.

He drops it Turn 5. I top deck Illness and play it. Much laughs.

I have a Nightveil Specter chained to the Rocks and he swings with a Cackler. I stupidly crack a Ratchet Bomb on 1 blowing up my own Illness in the Ranks meaning he can drop his legion of dorks every turn.

Hilarious sideboard card if you aren't stupid enough to ratchet bomb on 1

Hilarious sideboard card if you aren’t stupid enough to ratchet bomb on 1

Ferg sitting next to me rightfully mocks me. Then he plays Campbell next and cracks his on 5 to blow up the Assemble the Legion losing his two Gray Merchants at the same time.

Friday 17th January

The only gaming on Friday was of the awesome new games in the Balcony. Elvis pinball machine for the fun.

Saturday 18th January

I did some minor tweaks and playtesting of deck in preparation for Sundays GPT and raided someones traded in collection for cool stuff. Later at night Dek and I played some pinball with me scoring 37.7 million (yay) and then some Centipede on the old Arcade machine too.

Sunday 19th January

Turned up to the GPT in expectation to maybe finish middle of the table. Last time I top-8’d when there were less than 20 but this one had 34 players. Given the way my deck was running I didn’t expect much.

Round 1 vs Jonathan Isaacs

I had never played Jonathon before so didn’t know what to expect. He said he was running a new deck and hadn’t tested it much so I thought I might be ok.

Game 1 I manage to Thoughtseize away two Elspeths through an Elixir of Immortality and win.

Game 2 he’s on 7 life. I have a whip on board and a Nightveil Specter with lots of goodies in the yard. He has an Elixir in play. I whip in an Erebos. He nods. I declare attacks and swing with 7 power on board. I go to mark lifelink and he says he’s cracking the Elixir. Ray behind me says Erebos and I shrug. If he had cracked it in response to the Whip activation it was fine. So I won due to a misplay by opponent (would probably have won next turn doing similar, I had another Erebos, 2 Gray Merchants and at least one Demon in the yard). Won 2-0

Elixir

Round 2 vs Ferg

A match I have not played to death repeatedly over last few weeks. Ferg won 2-0 as I predicted before we play. Game 1 I was mana screwed, stuck on 3 then eventually 4 mana with a hand of 4/5 drops. I’ve already burned through my removal whilst he drops rat after rat with 9 mana and an Underworld Connections. 1-1 with 2-2 matches.

Round 3 vs Marc McNaughton

I expect this one to be a poor match up, he’s playing GW goodstuff. I win through game 1. Game 2 he smashes through me in about 5 turns.

Game 3 the Judge is standing behind us as not many games are going on.

He has something bestowed with a Booooooooon Satyr (tapped) and a Voice. I have a Nightveil Specter, Erebos and an Underworld Connectiosn out. He’s sitting on 7 life. I kill the Voice and he says It’s my turn. I correct him that it’s my turn and he puts Voice in the graveyard not replacing with a token. I shrug and declare attackers swinging for lethal. He smiles and stretches hand to shake. Then afterwards goes crap I get a token but had already missed the trigger, went through attack step and shook hand in front of a judge. Oops. Another victory due to player error. Normally it’s my opponents who get them!

Voice

Round 4 vs Gabor Kovacs

Gabor is a good player and had been sitting next to me in a previous match. He’s playing BG and I expect to get smashed. Game 1 I get mana screwed he is top decking like a boss so I lose fast.

Game 2 I keep in the Doom Blades as he had tons of Green. Bring in Dark Betrayals and some other changes. My opening hand is 5 land, a Devour Flesh and a Doom Blade. Figuring I at least had two removal I keep a hand I would never had kept in first game but due to mana screw keep. he Thoughtseizes and takes the Devour Flesh. After the match he shows me he sided out all his Green creatures.

Round 5 vs Colin

I keep a hand of removal not knowing what I am up against and then my opponent and I start to play. He is Blue White and we both flood out completely. Any time I manage to get a threat he counters etc giving me at most one attack. I Hero’s Downfalled 3 planeswalkers. Eventually he wins through after I didn’t manage to resolve a single threat whilst having about 13 mana on board I had been at 25 life, and he 2 before he got his Aetherling and enough mana to flicker forever.

After the tournament I got a game of DC Deckbuilder. Stabby raced ahead early and was scoring 13-16 points of power a turn. Smashing both Joe (on his birthday!) and I, at least Ferg dropped to play Lords of Waterdeep so I wasn’t last…

Then some Pack Wars when Ewan turned up later, even with ramping I managed to have 11 land on the table and 2 creatures at one point. Ridiculous.

Monday 20th January

Just Wallabee to take a break from proper gaming.


12
Jan 14

Wizards fixed the datas

So it appears that we have more readers than we first thought!

After posting last week about the nationality data issue with Planeswalker Points the article spread round a few places online, even being spotted by Tony Pagliocco who works for Wizards. He contacted us to find out more info and got on it fixing it in a couple of days. So well done and thanks to him!

This also brought something to our attention, in an attempt to fix an issue giving this blog a bunch of white screens of death we had (wrongly) attributed it to some plugin updates. So the Google Analytics one is now back on. Unfortunately this means we got no real info on visitors as Statpress gives different, inaccurate results. I don’t think we can believe it’s 800 visits in 2 days number, as awesome as that would be.

Oh well, here for lols is the screenshot of the wrong data. You’ll be glad to know it’s sorted and I am now back to being 292nd. You’ll also note that the number of players in Scotland is over 1000, here having only 395 showing a large number of players were effected. I doubt I’ll ever appear on the front page of that table again though so it’s amusing to keep.

Lifetime21stCrop


07
Jan 14

This week in Gaming

It’s a new year so let’s attempt a new series of something which will peter out at some point. Yay! I realised I’d done at least one bit of gaming every day this year so let’s see how long it can carry on.

Wednesday 1st January 2014

I kickstarted the new year with a few games on Netrunner, which I treated myself to when it was way to cheap on amazon. Unfortunately laziness meant missing a section of the manual and it was played wrong. Rectified soon. As it was after Christmas I also played some of X-Com, a gift from Dek as well as some Magic 2014.

X-Com

Thursday 2nd January 2014

After spotting the issues we did wrong, blasted a few more games of Netrunner. It was quite enjoyable, but I don’t know enough about it to make proper decks or decide which of the squillions of add-ons to buy.

Friday 3rd January 2014

Played a fair bit of Magic: the Gathering. It was Friday I noticed the bug in the online score system, which I reported to Wizards and then later blogged about.

Saturday 4th January 2014

Saturday was a mini-nerd fest due to Graeme returning from university over Christmas. Alzo won his first ever game of Cards Against Humanity. Another two encounters on our Descent campaign were done and we finished off with some Zombie Fluxx. We also got a 4 player game of Monaco going after a different 4 player game failed to work split screen.

hijack_at_the_hairpin

Sunday 5th January 2014

Bit of a quiet one, threw in some games of Commander and helped CJ with some cards he needed for a disgusting Pauper Commander deck.

Monday 6th January 2014

Blogged about the Magic scoring issue and noticed the spike in traffic here, yikes! Got a call to meet in pub for Nerdery. Played some silly magic Standard then two giant Commander games. First one I did sillyness with a borrowed Bant deck, second game I was mana screwed with a Simic deck. Stuck on 5 lands with disgusting 6+ drops. Game was won by Colin with Rise of the Dark Realms, followed by a wrath whilst controlling a Blood Artist. Earlier we had all copied a Tutor, Unexpected Results and Blasphemous Act for great hilarity.

Tuesday 7th January 2014

Didn’t do any gaming before this post other than some Wallabee. Managed to grab an item an e-friend needed from a cache though so that was fulfilling. Also got a call at night that @tpupaz was trying to contact me investigating the bug. Woo, internets fame and stuff.

What I intend to play next week:

Probably some Netrunner, might play a game of Deadzone if Mantic send the missing bits to Major Arcana. FNM for nerdy Magicness. Dunno what else I will squeeze in.


06
Jan 14

Wizards have borked the datas

Update: Tony Pagliocco and his team have now fixed the issue!

I logged into Planeswalker Points to see how I’d done for the year. For Scotland I was sitting about 50th for the year and 299th of all time. Pretty cool for having only played Magic for a year.

A few days later I was discussing with friends, one of whom had an old 6 digit DCI number and couldn’t find their new one. I fiddled around trying to spot and saw something strange. I was now 13th for the year and 21st best of all time. Something wrong there methinks.

The thing that stood out was that the only people whos names I recognised started about the same time as me. Everyone I knew to be above me was missing. I contacted one to check and he had been changed to be registered to Britain rather than Scotland.

Ah some bizarre nationalist political point I’m making in the run up to the referendum this year, or perhaps a stance taken by the Scottish magic community to show they are opposed and see themselves as British! Well no, looks like Wizards did some kind of data update and broke the data, reverting old accounts to be British and not Scottish.

Why is this important? Soon we’ll have the World Cup Qualifiers. Players have to be registered as Scotland (and England, Wales, etc respectfully) to be allowed to take part in the qualifiers to try and be in the team representing their country.

Last years Scottish team was Stephen Murray, Jamie Ross, Alan Hutton and Bradley Barclay. A quick check shows none of them in the lifetime top 100 for Scotland.

Brad is now the 7th best in Britain, Jamie Ross 114th. Various other Scottish players from Dundee are now in the British list too.

As soon as I saw this I contacted Wizards to let them know. Their reply was:

Thank you for contacting us. Changes to nationality are typically applied at the beginning of the year. While we are not able to provide information about a specific account to anyone but that account’s owner, it is possible that some players may have requested this change. If any players have mentioned to you that their accounts have changed nationality in error, then please ask them to contact us directly, and we would be happy to help those players.

So rather than check why loads of people including half the Scottish team from last year have definitely had their nationality changed they are leaving it up to individuals to check and then contact them if they spot a problem.

So if you want to play in your countries World Cup Qualifiers you need to:
1. Check your nationality is down as the correct one
1. b. if not contact Wizards to have it corrected
2. Go to your Friendly Local Games Store and win some matches at FNM, Pre-release, Release weekend or the upcoming Grand Prix Trial or Pro Tour Qualifier to make sure you have at least 100 points (for Scotland, different countries vary).


07
Dec 13

First ever draft win

I have managed to win my first ever draft, having always got mana/colour screwed any time I managed to pull together a decent deck. Here’s what I managed with other people in my colours too.

9-11-2013-ManaDeprived-Fabled-Hero-1

  • Spark Jolt
  • Chained to the Rocks
  • Messenger’s Speed
  • Lightning Strike
  • Setessan Battle Priest
  • Bronze Sable
  • Cavalry Pegasus
  • Chosen by Heliod
  • Akroan Hoplite
  • Observant Heliod * 2
  • Wingsteed Rider * 2
  • Two Headed Cerberus
  • Spear of Heliod
  • Gift of Immortality
  • Fabled Hero
  • Anax and Cymede
  • Divine Verdict
  • Portent of Betrayal
  • Heliod’s Emmisary
  • Hundred-Handed One
  • Bordeland Minotaur
    • Relevant side:

  • Silent Artisan
  • Last Breath * 2
  • Satyr Rambler
  • Prowler’s Helm * 2
  • Anvilwrought Raptor
  • Traveler’s Amulet
  • Scholar of Athreos
  • Opaline Unicorn * 2
  • Burnished Hart
  • Traveling Philosopher (had in game 1, swapped out for Portent of Betrayal)

Round One vs Simon

Simon is a really good player who bested me in the two headed giant tournament we played at last time. He had what he described as an insane Blue White deck.

I start and drop a land. He drops the 1/1 lifelinker. I drop a land, he equips an ordeal and swings for 2 going to 22 life. I have a spear in hand so play that. He puts on a second ordeal, swings to make it a 4/4, gaining 20 life going to 46 life, with me on 14. Not a good start for an aggro deck. He’s locked because of the spear now though. I gradually manage to drop Fabled Hero, Pegasus and Two-Headed Cerberus and the Setessan Battle Priest. I’m swinging for 12 a turn and win whilst on 6 life. Tense and a bit crazy. For game two I swap out the vanilla 2/2 and put in a Portent of Betrayal.

Cavalry-Pegasus-Heroes-vs-Monsters-Spoiler

Game two I fight through 3 vaporkins? (he has 5!). Eventually besting him to win 2-0.

Round Two vs Kian

I’m up against a blue/black deck with Ashiok. Game one he drops and Ashiok but I managed to kill after 2 activations. I then turn attention on the player and after equipping on Fabled Hero and swinging in with a Pegasus it is hilarious.

Game two he manages to drop Ashiok and some deathtouch dudes, eventually I kill Ashiok with 6 cards in hand, no flyers and him having two deathtouch defenders.

Game three is a bit more even, but I eventually manage to Chain a deathtoucher to rocks, and tap down another to win 2-1.

Round Three vs Dan Birthday Boy Rayner

It’s the final and I’m up against the store owner and it’s his birthday. He’s playing a Green/White deck and that explains why I was being cut from the right on packs 1 and 3. I still got passed 5 of the 6 rares in my maindeck though, Fabled Hero and Hundred Handed were definitely from the left though.

Game One I drop a couple of dudes. He drops the Green 2/2 who gets a counter when you target. He equips with two ordeals and swings through for 12. I had taken him down to about 14 at the time. It’s turn 4 and he’s tapped out with an 8/8 on the table and I have about 5 power. Time for a Portent of Betrayal then!

Game Two is a bit of a grind but he eventually manages to get me down to one life and he has three creatures on board.

Game Three and it’s all to play for. Spear does it for me again, to kill blockers. I have Anax and Hoplite out, flying with Pegasus. I have 10 power on board and he has 12 life. I get the land I need and equip Anax with +2/+2 so it’s game for my first ever draft victory.

Anax

Spoils

Totally worth a quick Saturday afternoon. After doing terrible with my silly standard deck recently I then went 3-1 on Thursday with my Modern Goblins.

  • Thassa, God of the Sea
  • Temple of Mystery
  • Bident of Thassa
  • Pyxis of Pandemonium
  • Sin Collector (promo)