I’m a triple threat my dudes

The wife and kids were out of town for the weekend so I got to play a bunch of Magic, 3 formats in 3 days. First up, Modern FNM. I played my current pet deck, GR Ponza. I ran well and split 1st-2nd. I’ll be running this list at the next HobbyBear Open this coming weekend, if you wanna hate me out LOLZ.

In the maindeck, I consider only 2 cards to be flex slots at this point: Garruk, Primal Hunter and Thrun, the Last Troll. Those could be maybe a 2nd Chandra, Torch of Defiance and a Thragtusk or Scavenging Ooze or a Primal Command. I used to have Thrun in the sideboard but I kept bringing him in all the time.

There are versions of the deck that dedicate 6 slots to the Platinum Emperion + Madcap Experiment combo but I haven’t wanted to try that out yet. I used to own 2 or 3 Platinum Emperions but got rid of them back when they were bulk mythics and now he’s like a $20 dude or something ridiculous. I also just don’t like that kind of combo very much, where a deck has cards you specifically *don’t* want to draw. This deck already has a bit of that issue with Bonfire of the Damned but sometimes just casting that from hand for X=1 or 2 is really great.

I love my sideboard, I only really waffle between 3x Sudden Shock and 2x Anger of the Gods – i.e should those numbers be reversed? Sudden Shock is/was really important against Infect and creature-combo. I’m probably pretty soft to Living End and maybe Dredge. I haven’t really encountered those decks yet.

Then, on Saturday, I got in a draft at a new comic shop in town, Rainbow Comics. This was the first Magic event they’ve tried to run and I think it went great, I hope they do more in the future. I think I first-picked Thopter Arrest and then ended up with a pretty solid UW Skies deck.

It may have been wrong to play the Glint-Nest Crane with so few hits in the deck. I definitely had a couple whiffs where I was pushing 2-3 cards I actively wanted to the bottom of my deck. I split the finals with Chris but round 2 was a really sweet match against a blue-red deck. We both had Aethertide Whales and had to let them kill each other in combat instead of either one of us choosing to bounce.

Anyway, if you’re in southwest Lincoln, be sure to check out Rainbow Comics. Cool little shop.

Which brings us to Sunday, Game Day at Hobbytown North and my least favorite format: Standard. I only played because I love North HTown – it’s nearby, only a pleasant walk away from my house – and I had the day free since the family was away. Accepting that Standard is a garbage format for garbage people, I brewed up a sort of “cards I own dot deck” in an Eldrazi theme:

Chris harangued me for playing Bearer of Silence but I thought it was cute. I will confess that I sided it out 100% of the time. The maindeck Warping Wails were awesome, I would run those back in a heartbeat. I ran well in the first rounds (vs mono-red aggro, vs black-white midrange, vs red-black madness) and was able to double-draw into Top 8.

My final round opponent wanted to play for funsies after ID’ing so we farted around a little. He was on a blue-red improvise brew that seemed good when it was doing its thing. He trounced me but then again we didn’t bother sideboarding. As it turned out, I was paired against this same dude in the quarterfinals but I got to play first as I was the higher rank.

Long story short, I pooped the bed in games 1 and 3, mulling, discarding to hand size, bad beats. In game 2 I actually cast a few cards and won that one, at least. I’m mildly buttsore about it but c’est la Magic! Besides my opponent, the rest of the Top 4 were all on BG Snakes. For his part, my opponent made it to the finals before getting snaked, so good on him.

So, yeah, I still think Standard sucks fat boners but such is my love of the game that I will deign to play even Standard in certain circumstances.

Good times, my dudes.

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AER-KAL Single-Game Match League

There’s a new draft league variant on Magic Online now, the Single-Game Match League. The full WOTC-speak description is here. You draft normally but just like it says on the tin, your matches are only one single game, not the usual 2-of-3 with sideboarding. You play until you hit 7 wins or 4 losses, whichever comes first.

The prize for 7 wins is your entry fee back (120 Play Points) so your best-case scenario is that you break even on Play Points and then net whatever cards you drafted. Clearly, you will not be translating your martial prowess with the magical cards into any meaningful profit in this type of league.

I gave it a shot, first-picking a Lightning Runner (which might suck? I dunno) and then wasting lots of picks as I bounced around between red, green and black. I ended up black-green with no real theme but a few individually powerful cards such as Renegade Freighter.

The sideboard obviously wasn’t going to be used in any individual matches, but those are the other cards that I could have swapped in between matches. I maindecked a Natural Obsolescence which is pretty narrow and could certainly have been a dead draw but I figured it was worth it in this format.

I popped up a Google Sheet and took some notes as I played each game, on items such as die roll, mulligans, whether Natural Obsolescence rotted in my hand, etc.

Here’s how the games went:

Round 1 (win) vs UWr Fliers, lost the die roll. Natural Obsolescence was stranded in my hand, I could have cast it on a Thopter token but never needed to.

Round 2 (win) vs GR, lost the die roll. Opponent mulled to 6, I cast Natural Obsolescence on a Servo token, no better targets.

Round 3 (win) vs R, won the die roll.

Round 4 (lose) vs BR, lost the die roll. Both of us mulled to 6. Opponent had a Reckless Racer that he attacked into my 2/3, but then he followed that up with a Fourth Bridge Prowler to kill my guy and I fell way behind.

Round 5 (win) vs BW, won the die roll. Opponent mulled to 6, I cast Natural Obsolescence on his turn-2 Smuggler’s Copter.

Round 6 (lose) vs BR, won the die roll. Opponent has turn-3 Aethersphere Harvester which I immediately kill with Daring Demolition. He nevertheless goes on to thrash me handily with a very synergistic deck, rebuying Ovalchase Daredevil multiple times. For my part, I flood out and die with 8 lands in play and 3 more in hand.

Round 7 (lose) vs UR, won the die roll. Opponent mulled to 6. Another good synergy deck that drew its important cards. He got Efficient Construction going while I played crummy 3-drops.

At this point I’ve got 3 losses but I just watched Super Bowl 51 so I know that nothing’s over my dudes.

Round 8 (win) vs UR, won the die roll.

Round 9 (win) vs UWr Fliers, won the die roll. Opponent mulled to 6.

Round 10 (win) vs BWr, lost the die roll. I steal opponent’s Aerial Responder via Gonti, Lord of Luxury and work him over with his own card.

Hooray, I hit 7 wins before 4 losses, and my garbage pool was worth one hot ticket so I came out just slightly ahead (minus my time but let’s be real my time ain’t worth that much).

Would I play this league again? Sure, probably. After a few iterations I’ll have a better sense of it. I like that I could lose a couple of times but still be live for the best ultimate outcome. I gather that this is also a little closer to how drafts in competing games such as Hearthstone work. The entry & payout are still out of whack in my opinion, though. You should come out at least a little ahead on Play Points if you hit the 7 wins. Throw us a li’l sprig ‘o broccoli, WOTC.

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A cataclysmic end to the format

I was doing pretty well there for quite a while, I hadn’t had to put any new cash into Magic Online since somewhere in the middle of Eldritch Moon. Then somewhere here in the latter days of triple Kaladesh I went on a bit of a slide, X-2’ing multiple draft leagues in a row and hemorrhaging tix. I managed to pull out one last 3-0 with my last draft set:

My final play of round 3, game 3 was casting Cataclysmic Gearhulk with Marionette Master in play with 4 power and just enough artifacts to drain the opponent out, after we had both been stuck land-go’ing for several turns.

Captured by the Consulate has been a debatable card (e.g. is it just worse than Revoke Privileges since they still get to block?) but it was clutch for me throughout this league. Whether I put it on a good creature, such as opponent’s Fretwork Colony in the screenshot above, or just some average guy like, say, a Weldfast Monitor, they pretty much had to spend some kind of removal on their own guy just to move on with their lives. Round 2 opponent tried to target the Captured by the Consulate on his Combustible Gearhulk with Appetite for the Unnatural. He did gain the 2 life on the deal.

After selling off the packs and rares I have enough tix to do a couple queues when Aether Revolt hits this week. Depending on how that goes, I’m going to try to resist putting much (if any?) cash back in for a little while. Playing Magic Online is right up at the top of my favorite leisure activities and while I was keeping my packs/tix in the black it was no big deal to play several leagues per week. Now that I’m close to busting out, though, it’s making me think twice.

It sounds like they’re working on some kind of new paradigm with the “Magic Digital Next” thing, so maybe we’ll get a less expensive but still “real” (no, Duels of the Planeswalkers doesn’t count) Magic Online option in the next couple years. I ain’t made of money, WOTC!

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Riding the Skysovereign to a 9-0

Achieved my first-ever 9-0 in a Friendly Sealed League on Magic Online. You need to catch some breaks to win 9 in a row, it helps to start by opening some unfair mythics.

I noticed multiple decks were playing at least three colors, and the deck I played against in round 8 even had a full “five color green” thing going on. I had a good curve solidly in only two colors so I was often ahead on board by a couple permanents while opponents were still setting up their third colors in the early turns. I’m also frankly lucky to have avoided encountering many opposing decks as absurd as my own. Sure, I saw other planeswalkers and other gearhulks, but I never had a Skysovereign mirror match come up.

Memorable moments included doming a guy for 11 with a Combustible Gearhulk trigger and killing an Aethersquall Ancient by casting Skysovereign, Consul Flagship and then cloning it with Saheeli Rai to get two 3-damage triggers.

Skill game!

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Torch of Defoilance

We only got 6 people for draft night so we did it up team-style, but I scored pretty big with my pack one, pick one:

That’s a foil, if it isn’t clear from the crummy cell phone photo. I’m grizzled enough that I don’t freak out too much about pulling this or that from a booster but I must admit I was giddy over this one. I have been trying to get a copy of Chandra, Torch of Defiance for my Modern deck for several weeks now. I repeatedly checked with my friendly local game store – they just haven’t gotten any more copies into their stock yet. I’ve been using a borrowed one from my pal Chris for the last couple Modern tournies but of course I’d prefer to have my own.

After that pick, I tried to draft red (duh) and ended up with an okay red-white deck.

Cutting to the chase: my team won, thanks largely to one of us (not me) pulling off a 3-0. From what I saw, all six decks in the draft were pretty legit. There was an actually good Electrostatic Pummeler deck on my team, and an actually good Panharmonicon deck on the opposing team, plus some more “normal” midrangey decks like mine. Pretty sweet format.

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HobbyBear Open – Fall 2016

The local store ran a larger Modern tournament this past weekend with some of the trappings of the various “open series” events out there, such as an exclusive playmat. This one has original art by Ron Spencer, so that’s pretty dope.

HobbyBear Open Fall 2016 Playmat

There were 67 players for 7 rounds of Swiss. I ran Ponza, which shut up it’s a sweet deck. I tried out one Chandra, Torch of Defiance from the latest set, she seems like a pretty strict upgrade to the older Chandra, Pyromaster.

Usually you’ll have at least one Relic of Progenitus and/or Grafdigger’s Cage in the sideboard but I was more concerned about having plenty of stuff for Affinity and Infect so I loaded up on Ancient Grudges, Sudden Shocks and Anger of the Gods.

Round 1 vs Affinity: Game 1, I ranched with an early hardcast Bonfire for X=1. Then in games 2 & 3 I lost to quick Ensoul Artifacts, not drawing enough of my healthy stock of sideboard hate. I was a little butthurt to start with a loss but you gotta get back up. (0-1)

Round 2 vs Bye: I guess I can’t complain about a freebie. (1-1)

Round 3 vs Naya Burn/Zoo: Game 1 I fell pretty low but managed to fade enough of his draw steps. Game 2 I sideboarded in a bunch of Kitchen Finks and it wasn’t too big a deal. It’s not always intuitive, but Blood Moon is actually really good against these decks. Sure, they can still cast a ton of red spells but keeping them off of things like Atarka’s Command and Boros Charm is relevant. (2-1)

Round 4 vs Abzan Company: I lost game 1 after mulling into a 6-card hand with 2x Bonfire of the Damned. You typically don’t want that card in your opening hand unless your opponent is on a deck with X/1’s and maaaybe X/2’s. In this game, I actually did hardcast 3x Bonfires but opponent had some Collected Company and Eternal Witness action and I couldn’t keep up. Game 2 I brutalized his manabase and game 3 I repeatedly swept away all his creatures. There was one early turn where he cast Path to Exile on my Arbor Elf on my upkeep, to keep me from doing something too gross with Utopia Sprawl. I searched up my basic from Path, shuffled and presented my deck for his cutting pleasure. He cut me to a Bonfire of the Damned for my draw step and lost his board. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s all randomized but it’s still kinda funny when stuff like that happens. (3-1)

Round 5 vs Infect: I always sperg out against Infect, it just tilts me off. Here, I lost game 1 but got the post-sideboard games. Sudden Shock is a huge help, I think I’ll always play at least 3x in my red sideboards. (4-1)

Round 6 vs Titan-Shift: I had early Blood Moons in both games and opponent couldn’t get away from it. Seems like a pretty bad matchup for them if they can’t find a sideboard Naturalize effect. They do ramp quickly so you can easily die to Primeval Titan beats if you can’t deal with the 6/6 via Beast Within or something. In both of these games the board states developed such that I think I would have instantly died if opponent ever drew one of his Nature’s Claims. Sometimes you manage to fade ’em. (5-1)

Round 7: Draw into Top 8. You can view the Top 8 decklists here. Yes, that is correct: there were two 8-rack decks in there. Modern is a helluva format.

Quarterfinals vs Storm: I have only a small chance against the Pyromancer Ascension deck, especially with him on the play as the higher seed. This time, I rolled over and died in 2 quick games. Cheers, Dave!

davidchill

Going forward, I think I’ll have to play a couple pieces of graveyard hate in my sideboard so I can at least pretend I’m doing something against this kind of deck. I’m figuring 1x Grafdigger’s Cage and 1x Relic of Progenitus. I’ll cut the sideboard Chameleon Colossus, that card is cute and obviously great against black decks but I can live without it. I don’t think I want to cut Fracturing Gust so maybe an Anger of the Gods? Other than that, I really like the list I’m on.

So, despite a very anticlimactic quarterfinals, I still had a great time. My prize was 5x packs of Modern Masters and I opened a Karn Liberated so that’s pretty deece.

Deece.

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On Hatred

Cross-posted from DeadLantern.com because I know you come here for overwrought political commentary as well as printable Harambe tokens.

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