Hour’s up

Did my (most likely) last HOU-AKH draft down at the store and also my last sealed league online before Ixalan hits. My last league deck was only okay, but I was happy with it – triple Open Fire and double Struggle // Survive was nice, and I had big poppa Sifter Wurm up top. Manabase is kinda bad but it mostly worked out. My only losses were to a couple decks with gods – although I did snipe a single game from an opponent with The Scarab God. He didn’t see I could use Mirage Mirror to copy the god, plus make a black with Oasis Ritualist to steal the card he targeted with the god’s token ability. I mean, he killed me in game three but that was still sweet.

So, yeah, there’s nothing special about this deck but it is a good example of a deck I’d be perfectly content to run through a league. I lost track of how many leagues I did – a couple dozen or so. I can’t think of another format in my time playing (started around Core 2010) that so drastically improved with the addition of the second set. Amonkhet-only was kinda sucky in my opinion – you’d get ranched by whoever had more Gust Walkers and Hooded Brawlers. Hour of Devastation slowed everything way down so you could jack around, get to seven mana and cast your Sifter Wurms. I’m here for the midrangey durdlefests.

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CancerTube

You’re probably familiar with the concept of “going down a rabbit hole” on the internet. You innocently click one oddball link and the next thing you know, you’ve spent two hours watching dermatology videos on r/popping. It can happen to anyone!

I recently fell down a “bad Magic YouTube” rabbit hole and I’m just so confused… who are these people? Who are the people watching these people? Now, there is certainly a ton of great Magic content available on YouTube, like a video of a pro narrating a draft – that makes sense to me. But some guy recording himself opening a booster pack… and then some other guy making a response video about the first guy’s pack opening video… and yet another guy making a video commentary on those first two guys’ interaction… I don’t get it and it creeps me out a little bit.

I feel like something is hinky. Like, with the whole world. I’ve been reading this author, Laird Barron, who does kind of eldritch horror stuff (e.g. The Imago Sequence; The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All). The guy’s work is just tremendous, I highly recommend it. The stories often involve a person who’s caught a glimpse of the inscrutable forces that exist just beyond our perception, and the inevitable ruin that comes from knowing too much.

That’s kind of how I feel when I see Tolarian Community College talking about whether it’s “worth it” to buy a Commander precon. I feel a creeping existential dread. My mind shatters, dashed upon the jet-black rocks of wackness.

Like I said: Hinky.

So, somehow I arrived at a video of this guy, Unsleeved Media, doing a hard-hitting investigative journalism takedown of this other guy, Bad Boy MTG. From what I can tell, both Unsleeved Media and Bad Boy MTG make completely terrible garbage content. Trying to say that one is any better than the other is like deciding which of your nuts to smash with a ball-peen hammer. It’s a distinction without a difference.

This guy Bad Boy (how can you be an actual adult human and choose to call yourself “Bad Boy?”) primarily does pack opening videos. If that wasn’t stupid enough, he also does “repack” opening videos. Repacks are eBay scams where a seller will bundle up a booster’s worth of loose cards and sell it as a “pack,” typically with a claim that somewhere in the pool of repacks there is a chance at a very valuable card. It’s a stupid idea that’s been around forever – here’s a 2011 Chas Andres article on repacks. It’s like buying a raffle ticket, I guess, and you just have to trust that they really will pay out the grand prize. Seems bad.

So Bad Boy allegedly faked some of his repack videos and Unsleeved Media exposed the deception. Total cringefest, a couple idiots slapfighting each other over nonsense. Bad Boy even starts crying in one of the videos. In the related videos sidebar, I see this other guy, DesolatorMagic, doing commentary on the issue and he’s gotta be the worst of them all. Holy cow, these people are wild. They suck more than anything I’ve ever encountered in this sphere. Yet, based on view counts, they appear to each have a bit of a fanbase. I am grotesquely fascinated. What is going on here?

That’s a screenshot of a Bad Boy video where he is autographing a worthless draft common for a fan, for some reason? What the hell for? Some non-zero number of people apparently facilitate this by sending money to this guy via Patreon. These people are allowed to walk around in society. They’re allowed to, like, vote and shit.

Incredibly tilting.

There is some self-sorting here that’s pretty interesting. I think people must feel a tribalistic urge to connect with other people who are roughly as dumb as they are. Apparently Magic-playing internet denizens, at least the YouTube-dwelling ones, will naturally identify an archetypal example of the general sort of player they themselves are, and gravitate toward that individual in a cultish fashion. This is often in spite of or, bizarrely, specifically because of an orientation toward anti-excellence. DesolatorMagic, for example, defines himself by aggressively sucking and being hyper-wrong about Magic. He and his fans don’t characterize it that way, of course, but the data is right there on the channel.

Is there any other field of endeavor where people intentionally glom on to personalities that objectively, willfully suck at whatever the activity is? I can’t think of an example. This isn’t the same as being, say, a long-suffering sports fan who sticks with a crummy team even though they stink year after year. In that scenario, there’s always a desire that the team will turn it around and do well. Indeed, Magic might be unique in facilitating this phenomenon. There seems to be a sizeable contingent that effectively enjoys sucking and is hungry for a sucklord to lead them in suckery. When competing sucklords (Unsleeved, Bad Boy, Desolator, others) clash, the resulting suckstorm is… I’m at a loss, my brain has liquified and poured out of my ears at this point.

I think it would be fascinating if we could somehow round up several of these people and hold a special tournament, complete with deluxe streaming coverage and deck techs, draft viewers and the whole enchilada. It would surely be nothing less than a landmark study in contemporary anthropology.

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The Bird is the Word

Pack one, pick one, I open River Hoopoe and decide to force blue-green right then and there. I get some other good blue cards early, such as Eternal of Harsh Truths and even a foil Kefnet’s Last Word at the beginning of pack two. Somewhere in there I tabled a second River Hoopoe so I knew I was on the right track. It’s hoopoes all the way down my dudes.

Round 1 my opener is Island, Forest, 2x River Hoopoe plus who gives a shit what else. I win easily in about 5 seconds.

Round 2, opponent has a good black-white zombies deck but I stabilize and activate a River Hoopoe something like 5+ times in game 1. That is no bueno for the aggro deck. In fairness to my opponent, he had to mulligan down to 5 on the play for game 2 so he was in a pretty tough spot, and proceeded to flood out. I also made at least a couple of really egregiously bad plays but still won, which I know can be frustrating – i.e. “How am I losing to this idiot?” Opponent was a good sport, who I’m pretty sure has killed me in more lifetime matches than I have him – so it all comes out in the wash. Split the finals, went home.

HOOPOE!

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Hour of Devastation

Have had some moderate success in my first few passes at Hour of Devastation limited. Well, in sealed at least; in my first draft I insta-died.

In my first prerelease sealed, I went 5-1 with a base blue-white deck:

So, if you assume that I’ll draw into my colors (hey, it worked out) this deck is pretty good, and the single Forest was just a mise for the second half of Prepare // Fight so that’s not too crazy. Vizier of the Anointed was great, I triggered the card draw many times.

I played a smaller 4-round flight the next day and tried to build a Nicol Bolas theme deck since I opened these rares:

The manabase was not great but I guess I ran well enough overall. I went 3-1. I never cast the Nicol Bolas, God-Pharaoh but hoo boy was The Scarab God good. Felt pretty unfair whenever I cast it.

The next day 8 of us who had scored some prize packs got together and drafted, so this is my first draft deck of the format:

I’ll note that during the draft I opened a foil Claim // Fame but passed it for some random good common for my deck. That was a huge punt because the foil uncommon is worth $15 or so since it looks likely to be a Modern card in Death’s Shadow decks.

I mean, it’s not Pascal Maynard’s foil Tarmogoyf or anything, I can live it down, but still. Then, in the first round, I got ultrakilled by local limited specialist Tim (revenge for that last Khans draft, I suppose). Tim managed to assemble, in his first pass at the format, what certainly looked like the nut blue-red spells deck, complete with multiple Riddleforms and even an Imminent Doom. The red enchantment might look like a clunky do-nothing but Tim cast it and then triggered it 1-2-3-4 on me. The draws he had, it frankly felt like playing against a Modern Storm deck. Literally nothing I did mattered in those games, and I had functional, curve-out draws. But enough bellyaching 🙂

One more sealed deck the next weekend for Launch day. Very unexciting deck here; I mained a Honed Khopesh for crying out loud:

Okay, so round one I mulligan both games, not drawing lands and I die to my opponent’s workaday creature draws. After the match I’m messing with my deck and notice I have 38 cards, 15 lands. So, obviously, that’s not a legal deck and it also may partially explain the land-light draws. Woof. I deserve the match loss for sheer boneheadedness.

Strange, too, because usually I’m kind of anal about counting my cards, just a little OCD type of thing I’ll do. I’ve been trying to avoid doing it lately because it looks like pile shuffling which you just should not be in the habit of doing. If I would have just run that pile count, I would have noticed the missing lands. Anyway, I fixed the deck and won out, finishing 4-1.

One more thing that was kinda trippy – or I may be losing my marbles? A few of us were chatting about movies between rounds, and one of the guys mentions he’s just seen this movie Predestination with Ethan Hawke, it’s about time travel, he really liked it and recommended we check it out. I’m like, “yeah, that sounds really cool, I have never heard of that, I’ll give it a shot.” So that same night, my wife and I put on the movie after the kids are in bed. 10, 15 minutes into the film it dawns on me that I have actually seen it before. That is so weird to me that I could totally forget something like that. I’m kind of a “movie guy” so the fact that I could draw such a complete blank about a movie described to me with that level of specificity… yeah, might be losing my marbles.

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Throwback Khans Draft

Did a sweet throwback Khans of Tarkir draft this week. I first-picked an Icefeather Aven and also got 2x Bellowing Saddlebrutes very early. I tried to stick to Sultai colors and was pretty pleased with where I ended up, despite not having any splashy rares.

Round 2, game 2 was a grueling grind against an Abzan deck, the board had gotten very clogged – he had a Herald of Anafenza that had activated 7 or 8 times. We got to a point where I was on a one-outer to draw Death Frenzy, and I got there. That was against Tim, who has killed me many, many times in draft so I felt fine about sacking off the topdeck. Seriously, though, Tim is pretty much an elite limited player at this point (1900+ online, all that) as well as being a total class act. He’s moving away later this summer and will be missed in the local draft scene for sure. Cheers, Tim!

My finals opponent offered the split, which of course is fine by me. It was a 5-3 and we were just kind of playing the fetchland lottery anyway so we each took 4 packs. While I did win our funsies match, he definitely won the night. I pulled a Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker from my packs… opponent pulled a foil Polluted Delta.

Great format, cool dudes, would run that back anytime.

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Grand Prix Omaha 2017

Spent a nice weekend at Grand Prix Omaha recently, brought along Chris to keep an eye on me. I’m due for a bender (I think I average one per quarter) so it was prudent to have a spotter around. As it happened, I was wholly responsible the entire time and got into zero trouble. I think that just rolls over and amplifies the next bender but let’s leave tomorrow’s problems for tomorrow.

The main event was Standard, which I just cannot be bothered with. To spoil the ending, an Aetherworks Marvel deck won the tournament and the card was subsequently banned. Whoopee.

I was there for the side events, the first one on Friday evening was “Foiled Again!” sealed, which was just 3 rounds of Amonkhet sealed with extra FNM promos after each win. The best one by far was the Unlicensed Disintegration that everyone got just for signing up. You did get a random Cascade Games playmat upon entering and I was glad to get the Dreamhack pyramids mat for mine. The other possible mats were all shitty garbage like a picture of Rattleclaw Mystic or Ajani standing there being a dumb cat. Hard pass.

My sealed pool was lame but I managed to 3-0 through sheer force of will, beating other decks with real cards like Angel of Sanctions and Glorybringer. I also entered several drafts througout the weekend but insta-died in all of them, so there’s not much to say there. I did open my first Invocation, a Kefnet the Mindful so I was pretty stoked about that. The other rare in the pack was Rhonas the Indomitable, so homeboy on my left was also pleased. I still think these Invocations look dope, you haters can take off. Have you seen the Blood Moon one?! Hnnnnggggh.

On Saturday, I entered a 4-round Modern event with my beloved Green-Red Ponza deck. Chris likes to give me shit about the deck whenever I’m talking it up – although, for that matter, Chris would probably give you shit for tying your shoes so it can be tough to know how to interpret any single instance of shit-giving… I digress. Point is, here for the first time, Chris had the pleasure of seeing me play some matches with the deck. I sacked off some nice Bonfire of the Damneds and everything. I don’t think I made him a believer, but I did X-0-draw into a goodly stack of skeeball tickets for the prize wall. During the event, I also happened to meet Matt Mendoza, the creator of the Modern Ponza deck. He was a couple seats down and noticed me playing it. He was fun to chat with; I should have had him sign my Mwonvuli Acid-Mosses. Other donkeys were going around getting LSV to sign their titties or whatever but for me, Mendoza was the coolest dude to meet.

Speaking of signing stuff, I got some cards signed by artists Mark Tedin, Eric Deschamps and Darrell Riche. They had advertised Jesper Myrfors but he didn’t show up. I was mildly butthurt about that as I brought a few of his old cards (e.g. Cosmic Horror) to have signed. I love that older art style; we never get anything like those pieces anymore. Now, everything is run through some processed cheese stylebook regimen.

Yeah, that’s a foil Olivia Voldaren. I got it in trade for a Bonfire of the Damned back when those cards were in Standard which, at the time, was pretty fair.

Aside from Magic stuff, we checked out a few restaurants – I made Chris try sushi, a minor coup because this guy is PICKY, and he even liked a couple of the items so we’ll have to run that back sometime. We also caught a late showing of Wonder Woman at Alamo Drafthouse. That movie is just okay, y’all need to calm down. I saw the goofy new Tom Cruise Mummy movie the following week and frankly had way more fun seeing that. I rantlaborate on that a bit on Splattercast #502, whenever that gets posted.

All these events run on prize wall skeeball tickets now so you have to cash out before you leave. I had a respectable pile and found myself with kind of slim pickins to choose from in their available stock. I got some deckboxes and a t-shirt, a few draft sets’ worth of Amonkhet boosters and burned the remainder of my tix on Eldritch Moon boosters, hoping to spike a Liliana…

Got there! Must be good karma.

Anyway, it was a pretty deece weekend.

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Giddyup

Oh hey, P1P1 Gideon, sure we’ll try it.

The deck seems fine; I managed to ride Giddybro to a 3-0. Round 2 was the highlight, as it culminated in a pretty silly board state. Opponent was at 1 life and 0 cards in library, so he’s dead to decking on his next turn and not really anywhere close to killing me. I had played Gideon very early and the poor guy just never got out from under it.

Opponent Ribbons’d me for X=12, just for something to do on that last turn I guess. It didn’t even tickle. On my turn I could have simply passed to deck him, but I made Gideon into a creature and attacked with my 7 guys into his 6 blockers. I had topdecked Impeccable Timing and considered casting it to kill one of my guys after attacks, before blocks, as a troll move but opponent conceded before I could execute that. Ah well.

Unrelated:

Over at Dead Lantern, we just posted the 500th episode of our podcast, the Splattercast. Check that out if you’re into genre movie stuff. As I told my co-hosts, I wanted to hit that 500 mark as a kind of arbitrary accomplishment but after that I need a long break. While I do still enjoy watching movies, I’m not really very interested in talking about them anymore. Almost everything just boils down to “yeah, I liked it” or “no, it kinda sucked” so what’s the point, really? I certainly agree there is value in content curation, so I still love giving and receiving good recommendations but beyond that I don’t feel I’ve been conveying much of value on that show.

Not only are we saturated with content options (hence, curation becomes more worthwhile) but we are also saturated with content-about-content options! There are more numbnuts podcasts and YouTube channels talking about movies than you can count. Some are great but many of them are just insufferable, some putz pooping his pants over a Star Wars trailer and then inviting you to donate to his Patreon. I don’t want to contribute to that kind of global wackening by generating similarly shitty content. I have at least some pride. I mean, it’s not a ton of pride but it’s a non-zero amount.

I’m reminded of this “Hitler learns…” video I made several years ago taking a shot at one of our genre podcasting peers. I meant it in good fun, I swear!

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