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Draft Modern

MagicFest Kansas City 2019

I took my wife & kids to Kansas City for a fun weekend and, lo and behold, there just so happened to be a MagicFest going on at the convention center attached to our hotel… WHAT A COINCIDENCE.

Regular draft sign-ups were over by the time I arrived on Friday evening, but there was a Modern side event firing soon so I gave that a shot. Two of my favorite artists were in attendance so I got some cards in my trusty Ponza deck signed just before we started: Arbor Elf and Tireless Tracker by R.K. Post and Eric Deschamps, respectively.

I went 0-4 in Modern, it was embarrassing. I got locked by the new Karn, the Great Creator + Mycosynth Lattice combo twice, and also lost to UR Phoenix and Cheerios Storm (of all things). Look, I’m a huge fan of Modern – an apologist, even – but the format is a garbage fire right now, and I think the newly-implemented London Mulligan is going to make it worse. On the other hand, we have Modern Horizons entering the fray so maybe that will shake things up. I’ll hope for the best but I see some bannings in our future. I could go on, but that’s a rant for another day.

Come sunrise and with the bad beats out of my system, I set out upon a draft binge. I drafted from 9am until 9pm, skipping meals and not drinking enough water. I lost track of how many drafts I did. It was glorious. I started the day with a P1P1 Chandra, Fire Artisan.

This deck needed some Bloom Hulks to be truly nuts but whatever: I drew Chandra and Nissa over and over. I could probably add 20 other cards and take this pile to Standard Showdown at my LGS. After this I had a few middling drafts where I died in round one or two but there was always a bright side. Maybe my deck was bad but at least I pulled a Karn. Or maybe I died but my opponent was a nice kid soaking in his first event of this size and I was truly happy that he was having such fun. Of course, fun is fun but winning is nice, too, so I was pretty stoked to end the day on a bit of a heater.

I signed up for a Chaos Draft. Some people can’t turn it off long enough to spew on something like this but I like the screw-around nature of it. Everyone got one “premium” pack – mine was Masters 25 – and it was funny that we all chose to open that pack first. Nobody wanted to slow-roll their expensive pack until the end!

Whether it’s at your friendly neighborhood LGS with folks you know personally, or it’s at a huge MagicFest with total strangers, when you sit down at a draft table you’re naturally gonna look across at the player you’ll face in round one and try to size them up. At this table, my dude was a real Chatty Cathy who seemed to know what he was doing. Had plenty of comments about what the guys next to him might be doing wrong, how he had things figured out, etc. I won’t draw this guy up as a cartoon villain or whatever – he’s just a dude – but I will say that I didn’t wanna lose to him.

My packs were Masters 25, Fate Reforged and Ravnica Allegiance. I first-picked an Elvish Piper out of my Masters 25 pack – no Jace?! Rip-off! After that I settled into kind of a blue-red spells deck with 2x Jhessian Thief (one foil, holla) and a Metallurgic Summonings. Maybe the Shiv’s Embrace was loose but I think it’s okay to build some “Bogle Equity” into your deck when the aura’s good enough. This Shiv’s Embrace was foil, too, so that counts for something, right?

The one thing I feel like I did wrong in the draft portion was in pack 3, my Ravnica Allegiance pack. My rare was Angel of Grace but there was also a Rubblebelt Recluse that my deck really wanted. I was never going to play the Angel but the dopey little kid in me thought “sweet, mythic Angel!” so I took it. It’s worth like a crummy dollar, what was I doing?! Of course, I wheeled the Rubblebelt Recluse and learned nothing. Aside from the admittedly dorky vanilla Gilded Cerodon, I think this deck came together nicely.

Round one versus Guy Who Knows What He’s Doing: Opponent was also on blue-red spells, featuring triple-Guttersnipe. His deck might have been sick; alas, the world will never know. Game one he misses on lands and does nothing. Game two he does manage to go Guttersnipe + Guttersnipe and maybe he’s finna go off but then my turn four (after playing guys on 2 & 3) is sideboard Blue Elemental Blast on one Guttersnipe and Heat Ray on the other. Homeboy’s life is ruined at that point. Stomp.

Round two versus BW Gain-Drain: The match whose winner I’d be playing took FOREVER in round one so I got a good look at their decks while watching them play after I’d finished my own match. Please note I wasn’t nefariously scouting here, I was innocently wasting away as these durdles ate up time like a couple of Langoliers (I owe my friends Mat & Steve a nickel for using that joke). Anyway, one guy seemed to have really gotten there with a BW lifegain/drain deck. He had some payoffs like Epicure of Blood and, especially, Sanguine Bond along with a cadre of cards that either incidentally gain some life or have a repeatable effect. Frankly, I’m impressed.

So, BW guy wins his round one and then we play. I dunno what I was sweating for; I easily go under him while he’s farting around, casting Sanguine Bond as his only nonland permanent while I’ve already got him on the clock. He gives me enough time to go off with Metallurgic Summonings and X spells, so I appreciated having that opportunity.

Round three versus Guy Who Didn’t Know What Time It Was: “Do you wanna just split? No, you wanna play? Okay.”

Friends, one of the simplest, purest thrills in Magic is laying a ranch on the galaxy brain who no-sir’s the split. I don’t mean to portray this guy negatively, he was very pleasant to play with and I think he may have been a little green and didn’t quite know what was up. I think the best thing I saw out of him was a Crocodile of the Crossing, which I agree is a sweet card. Not much to say, I put my boot on this guy’s neck. Sweetest play was manifesting Rubblebelt Recluse with Write into Being and unmorphing it in combat. Almost as good as flipping up a Woolly Loxodon! (KTK was a goat-tier limited format, btw)

Coincidentally, my wife came into the convention hall and found me right as we were finishing up and snapped a photo. GG’s my dude, I’m gonna leave with my pretty wife and collect my 300 skeeball tickets now.

At a certain point in the evening they start running “Turbo Drafts” instead of the typical 3-round affairs. You draft a normal 8-person table with the normal cross-table pairings, but you only play one round and the 4 winners get appropriately scaled-up skeeball tix. My first turbo draft deck wasn’t anything special, I had hella Bloom Hulks but wasn’t really “going off” with them (zero Kronch Wranglers).

We went to game 3 in this match and it was a sweet one. Opponent was super cool and I appreciated him; shout-outs, wherever you are. We got into a wide board stall but after several turns of draw-go I topdecked Chandra’s Pyrohelix. I told the guy, “okay, I think I have this; I attack with everything” – but he did have a couple cards and some untapped mana. I didn’t believe there was anything in the format that could get him out of exactsies – but I’m gonna die if I don’t go for it sooner rather than later. So, I made the attack and let him block and then cast the Chandra’s Pyrohelix, somewhat apologetically saying “I’m not trying to slowroll you” and he was totally cool about it, he said it was the best match he’d had all day. Respek.

It’s getting late at this point, so I’m like “okay just ONE more…” I first-pick a Jaya’s Greeting but then get a pack with Spark Harvest, foil Spark Harvest and Command the Dreadhorde. I take the foil Spark Harvest but I’m thinking somebody’s gotta be going black after this. I settle into red-white after a few picks and end up with this sicko – I think all the rares were passed to me.

There were a couple of Lincoln acquaintances in this draft pod with me, a husband-wife duo; I was glad not to be paired against either of them. As I glanced over I saw one of them with an anemic board while their opponent, a small child, had both God-Eternal Oketra and Storrev, Devkarin Lich in play off of only the appropriate basic lands… so just ponder that. Woof. Anyway, my opponent never had a prayer.

After that it was last call, somewhere after 9pm, and while I could have probably squeezed in one more Turbo Draft, it felt like an appropriate time to call it quits. I cashed in my skeeball tix for some merch and enough assorted packs to host my own Chaos Draft sometime soon.

All in all, a great day of durdling. Many thanks to my lovely family for letting me abandon them all day. For what it’s worth, I invited the kids to come along but they just do not care about Magic at all. Fair enough!

After that, we had some barbecue and checked out a museum. Holla.

Categories
Uncategorized

Make Me A Mix Tape

I came up in the age of the mix tape. My friends and I would compile favorite songs onto cassettes and pass them around. We eventually moved to CD’s but the idea was the same. Now, of course, everything is just streaming on your phone or whatever but I still think there’s a little magic in making a mix. I have a few that you can download at http://mixtapes.koalaresentmenthour.com

I try to keep them under 80 minutes so you can burn them to a CD if you still use that arcane, obsolete technology like I do.

Categories
Movies Opinion

Dopest Movies of 2018

I don’t watch as many movies as I used to back in the ‘ol Splattercast days, but I did see a few last year and you people are gonna hear about it! Here are my favorites:

Hereditary

Hereditary is an instant classic, it ranks right up there with Rosemary’s Baby, The Shining and The Exorcist. The trailer alone is better than most other films I’ve watched this year. I think some critics feel it goes a little too bananas in a couple spots but I say tally ’em up because this movie rules. It’s all the more impressive when you consider it’s writer/director Ari Aster’s debut feature. Do yourself a favor and NEVER EVER watch his only prior work, the short film The Strange Thing About the Johnsons. Holy cow, dude. No.

Mandy

Mandy leans hard on the whole neon-soaked drippy-trippy thing, but I think it works out splendidly. Nicolas Cage is perfect; could anyone else even come close in this role? Not to mention Cheddar Goblin, whose presence alone more than justifies the entire production.

Revenge

Revenge is not just a glitzy take on the terminally icky rape-revenge subgenre, it’s a cracking good action flick in its own right. It’s amazing that this, like Hereditary, is a debut feature. I can’t wait to see who director Coralie Fargeat cuts to ribbons next.

The Ritual

The Ritual features one of the most astounding movie monsters in recent memory, and probably ever. Yet even more harrowing is the meditation on the horror of failing your bros when the chips are down.

Annihilation

Eerie and deeply strange, Annihilation forgoes conventional alien invasion tropes and imagines something else entirely. Forget giant spaceships or egg-laying brood swarms – this is scarier.

The Night Comes for Us

Watching The Night Comes for Us is like sticking your head into a woodchipper. Except, you know… it’s fun.

Upgrade

Upgrade gives me a late-night, throwback VHS vibe that I dig. It’s cool but goofy, slick but cheap. Who doesn’t wish they had guns for hands?

The Predator

I know The Predator was a box office flop, but I loved it and I don’t blame the film at all. I think the contemporary audience simply does not care about this franchise anymore. Too bad, I’d like to have seen a sequel.

Death Wish

Did we really need a Death Wish remake? Probably not, but I’m a sucker for this street-level action stuff. The updated riff on the iconic final beat is great.

Teen Titans Go! To the Movies

Some people don’t like the hyper-irreverent humor of Teen Titans Go! Those people are joyless turds and they are wrong.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

I haven’t given a crap about Spider-man for years but Spider-Verse won me over easily. It’s full of heart and fun, with just enough serious stuff to give it weight without being too dark for kids. I saw both Spider-Verse and Teen Titans Go! with my older two daughters (ages 12 & 8). They loved the movies and my own experience was greatly enhanced by sharing it with them.

Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich

Puppet Master is a garbage-tier franchise. However, when I saw that this latest installment was written by S. Craig Zahler, I had to check it out. Zahler wrote and directed Bone Tomahawk and Brawl in Cell Block 99, both of which are excellent. Brawl would have been at the top of my “Best of 2017” list, if I had bothered to make one. As an aside, Zahler’s latest, Dragged Across Concrete, may have technically debuted in 2018 but I can’t find it available to watch anywhere. I assume it’s rad.

So, anyway, yes, Zahler and directors Sonny Laguna & Tommy Wiklund came through and made an entertaining Puppet Master movie. It’s still goofy as hell – how could it not be? – but it’s also got actual characters and the gore gags handily surpass anything the previous dozen or so films in this misbegotten series ever mustered.

Halloween

Jettisoning the continuity of the existing sequels was a great move for the new Halloween. They boil it down, make Michael Myers scary again, and actually go somewhere with the story.

The Clovehitch Killer

There was a serial killer whodunnit last year called Summer of ’84 that a lot of people liked, but I just didn’t care for it – although I do appreciate how it threw a bucket of cold water on the ’80s nostalgia trend with its ultragrim final act. The Clovehitch Killer, on the other hand, reeled me in with its portrayal of an otherwise idyllic small community picking up the pieces after being menaced by a killer who was never caught. If you only have time for one sicko-next-door movie, I recommend The Clovehitch Killer.

The Endless

The Endless is unique in that it’s a sort-of sequel to a completely separate movie, but even mentioning that fact is a spoiler of a sort. For those of us who were fortunate enough to see the movies in the correct order and without any inkling of the connection, The Endless was a really cool, really novel experience. Shout-out to my friend Rachel who subtly led me there.

Most Overrated: Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Yes, the helicopter chase is neat. Sure. But that may as well be a Red Bull promotional stunt, there’s no movie wrapped around it. Mission: Impossible – Nonsense Subtitle sucks. Nothing happens in this movie (killing Alec Baldwin doesn’t count). There are no stakes and Tom Cruise is getting doughy. Ving Rhames and the English nerd guy destroy the credibility of the whole affair; their characters don’t belong anywhere near any peril. I don’t think Ving Rhames could probably tie his own shoes, so yeah, of course he loses the MacGuffin in the opening scene. And don’t link me any dumb gifs of Henry Cavill “reloading his biceps.” Some behind-the-scenes footage of the cast of The Night Comes for Us getting lunch at the craft services table is certainly more badass than Henry Cavill in this movie. Lastly, we’re supposed to believe the bad guys are super-geniuses but if they were really so smart that one guy would have known he was being lied to as soon as he saw Wolf Blitzer.

Best Old-New-Thing: The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs

I became a fan of Joe Bob Briggs back when he hosted TNT’s Monstervision in the late 1990s. In 2018 the genre streaming service Shudder brought Joe Bob back to do a 24-hour marathon, and it was glorious. The movie choices were fine, but they honestly could have been anything – it’s all about the Joe Bob segments. The Last Drive-In was billed as a farewell to movie hosting, but it was so popular that Shudder has had Joe Bob back to do two more mini-marathons since that first one.

Thus concludes my Dopest Movies of 2018 list. I know there are a few things I missed that probably would have made the cut – I hear great things about Suspiria and Overlord, for example, but I just never got around to seeing them.

Thanks for reading!