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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Amonkhet Prerelease

Opened some good rares at the Amonkhet prerelease, including a Glorybringer and a Hazoret the Fervent. I think my pool clearly wanted to be red-white, but I also dipped into black for Gravedigger, 2x Final Reward and the aftermath half of Start // Finish. I splashed off of 1x Evolving Wilds + 2x Swamp. I don’t know if that splash math is correct or not – it seemed to generally work out okay across my matches. Went 4-0, in any case!

Quick thoughts on the new mechanics:

Exert creates interesting in-game decisions but is slightly putzy to track. The little punch-out tokens they put in packs are helpful. I’m certain I failed, at least once, to untap a creature when I should have because I’d simply lost track of its exertion status.

I’ve become used to turning exiled cards sideways underneath my graveyard but the visual design of the Aftermath cards clashes with that. During the prerelease I put the Aftermath cards face-down and sideways when they were exiled. Embalm cards are kind of similar. There are little punch-outs that say “Embalmed” that I gather you can put on the actual card after embalming it to indicate its status as a token – but of course it’s important to the gamestate that the card is actually in exile. Don’t let someone embalm a creature, use the “Embalmed” punch-out and then put the card back in their graveyard when the token dies!

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Dude I just don’t know.

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Aether Revolt Sealed 9-0

Got my second-ever 9-0 in MTGO Friendly Sealed League with a powerful black-green deck. I did not have a lot of artifact synergy to go along with the Herald of Anguish but that card’s a bomb even if you’re not exactly “going off” with it.

That’s an 8-pack pool; I’ve been opting for the packs after Stages 1 & 2 most of the time. There are differing opinions on whether it’s a value spew to add packs in Sealed League but I like doing it, especially if I have the packs sitting in my account from previous leagues’ prizes anyway. Seems like a small gamble that’s worth it when it pays off and no biggie when it doesn’t. For example, in this league I got the Pacification Array in the pack after Stage 1, and that card was a huge factor in a lot of the subsequent games.

The last 3 rounds were all pretty sweet, and the final round guy gave me a couple chuckles in the chat:

As they say: “If” is for children.

Friendly Sealed has become my preferred way to play online over the course of the Aether Revolt format. It seems to hit that sweet spot where a mediocre player like me can realistically chain together several runs through the league. I do have one complaint though, and that is the potential to be paired against the exact same opponent in two consecutive matches.

I’ve had this happen within Stages (e.g. same opponent in Stage 1, Rounds 1 & 2) and across Stages (same opponent in Stage 1, Round 3 and Stage 2, Round 1). I’ve experienced all possible outcomes: Won against the same opponent twice, lost to the same opponent twice, and split the matches 1-1 with the same opponent.

I whined to MTGO Support about it the first time it happened, as I wasn’t sure it might not have been an actual bug. They just said (paraphrasing) “Hey, if there’s only the two of you in the queue at the time, it can happen. Tough cookies.”

Personally, I’d prefer to wait an indefinite period of time for the next match rather than be repaired against the same opponent – particularly in those cases where their deck handily outclasses yours and they just beat you to a pulp five minutes ago. That’s a pretty miserable situation that seems like it ought to be avoidable.

But, yeah, anyway: 9-0 holla.

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Mixtapes

I have sort of an eclectic taste in music and I like to put together mixtapes of favorite songs from all sorts of different artists. You can download zips of them at this link.

Guaranteed 100% solid gold hits. If you don’t like them, that indicates a problem with you that you should work on.

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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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