Archive for Stream of Consciousness

Swan Songs Part 1: Why I’m Quitting

So it turns out that I started writing this post on July 4th. Independence from Magic Day, it would seem. I got precisely zero words done on it, just that *ahem* gem of a title you see before you. Heh.

 Now that I have said attention-grabbing title out of the way, perhaps I should clarify. Quitting is too strong a word, and anyone who visits MTG Paradise can tell that I clearly haven’t severed all my ties to the game. Nor do I plan to. To go into it more, I’ll tell of how this all relates to Australian Nationals.

 The whole mess started in the lead up – even as far back as last year, where I had come to the realisation that I enjoyed playing hockey so much on a Saturday afternoon, more than any of my other hobbies. The one time I skipped on hockey to play in a PTQ, I felt guilty as hell; there was a knot in my stomach that screamed at me that I’d just made an awful decision. The countless tournaments I had missed for hockey, I felt no such guilt. This year, I had missed a pre-release and for the first time in my tournament playing career, I had missed a PTQ in order to play hockey. Not only had I missed it, but I didn’t even know there was one on until someone asked me that night how my PTQ had gone.

 I had begun to feel a distancing from the game prior to that; I was getting more enjoyment from my post-event coverage than I was the event itself, regardless of how I did. Posting deck lists and giving the players of Perth some exposure via their hard work to the world was just as gratifying to me as the two PTQ top 8’s I had to my name. (Major gratitude to people like Brian David-Marshall and Mike Flores for helping me with said exposure.) It was becoming hard to justify attending events just to get deck lists at the end of it all.

 More to the point, reason #1, and the main one why I am quitting.

 I could no longer justify to myself spending $200+ on three PTQ’s, states and regionals every year to do terribly and gain no enjoyment from the event save for what I was doing for the community.

I was very much loved the coverage and community-building. I still truly believe that people really got a kick out of seeing the product of all their hard work recognised on the internet – I just couldn’t spend hundreds of dollars and waste a day when that was all I could get out of it.

 So I had decided that I was going to leave the game. At the very least, take an extended break from it. I didn’t want to play in any more sanctioned events until at least 2010, and even more if I didn’t feel the magic (no pun intended) coming back.

 There was just one hiccup in the road. The skipping of the pre-release and PTQ had happened across April (ish) and June, and I had prepaid for Nationals flights and accommodation in like…March. So I had one weekend of tournaments left. It was kind of frustrating, having made the decision to break away, yet still attached to the game by this upcoming tournament. But I didn’t feel like I was truly “done” with magic – even though I had made this decision, I felt like I could not, and possibly would never be able to completely separate from it. So I decided to come at it from the perspective that Nationals was Magic’s “last chance to convince me to stay”.

 Over the weekend, in the face of the M10 changes, I had a relatively good time at Nationals. While I never got past the second round of a grinder, and I 0-3’d the PTQ on Sunday, I got the chance to catch up with people I consider good friends. I chatted with people like Nic Rolf (“The Co.”), Bill Mladenoski,  as well as “Wedges” Matthew Hare on multiple occasions over the weekend, and I watched Levi Hinz, one of my favourite interstate players play in a feature match. On top of that I got to discover that I was not the only one thoroughly disgusted that “Bribery” Nicastri was the one who the face of Australian Magic was. I had dinner and went out drinking on multiple nights with the other members of the Perth community, and on the last night roughly 10 of us from Perth and 3 or 4 players from Brisbane, including the aforementioned Levi went out and had celebratory steak with the players who had done well/come so close to doing well. At the end of that last night, we went out to buy beer and brought it back to the hotel, drank and team drafted until 1 in the morning.

You’ll notice that until the draft, none of these good times I had were spent actually playing Magic. I certainly noticed it. But the thing that was most surprising was that I’d had so much fun playing in that draft that it was clear to me that I wasn’t yet ready to give magic away, not completely, not just yet.

This brings me right the way back to the start of the post, and how quitting was too strong a word for where I’m at with Magic. I’ve decided, in essence, to “retire” from tournament magic. For the foreseeable future, anyway. I might still game from time-to-time with my friends, and maybe we’ll all draft together when the new set comes out. But I feel completely comfortable with my decision to leave the tournament game alone. I’m finding it too expensive and too time-consuming for the little reward I was getting. This isn’t a messy, ugly divorce however. I’m leaving the door open for a potential return, if the time and inclination ever takes me.

It’s funny. I remember the first tournament I ever played in. It was at State Championships 2003, and I played a mono blue concoction that was basically a glorified limited deck. I went 0-6, and had the time of my life.

As I mentioned, my last tournament was the PTQ on the Sunday of Australian Nationals. I went 0-3 drop, and felt at peace as I signed my last match slip.

Throughout almost six years of tournament-level magic, what have I learned?

When to drop.

Maybe I’ll be back with some more funny anecdotes, or stories of the people I’ve encountered in my magical career, but until then, thankyou spellcasters, one and all. You’ve been awesome.

 – RP


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Lessons Learned at PTQ Honolulu

Lesson #3: While an alternate win condition is useful as a means of surprising your opponent, the most dangerous thing in magic is an additional way to lose the game.

Elves is a very powerful deck, perhaps the most powerful in the pre-Alara Reborn extended format. The one thing that is more powerful though is one of the Future Sight pacts. Please people, pay for your pacts.

Lesson #2: If the deck you choose for a tournament wins a Grand Prix and you don’t adjust your list for the mirror, you deserve to lose to it twice.

Ego is a powerful thing. “I will outplay my opponents” is a good philosophy to have, but it needs to come with some grounded perception in reality. That being a) That you are actually capable of this and b) That your playskill will matter at all relative to the difference in decks. I got this wrong, and I was pounded by maindeck paths and more 5/4 Thoctars than I could handle.

Lesson #1: Magic – Take it or leave it.

As you can see by the amount of time it has taken me to write this post, I’m feeling pretty apathetic about Magic. I’m preparing for Regionals because it is my bye week in Hockey, and I have an obligation to try and qualify for Nationals, which I will be attending in July. But the biggest thing that I took away from PTQ Honlulu is that I don’t feel a need to play Magic anymore. I think I might be more or less done with it, Magic’s become a social game for me now. It’s something I have to spend time with old school friends, or to spend hundreds of dollars and travel across the country to catch up with people I’ve barely met from different states…different countries. I don’t have the burning desire to play in the Pro Tour anymore. It’s not a case of losing “The Fire” that people (particularly myself) have spoken of in other places before. I still have The Fire, it just doesn’t burn for Magic anymore. Maybe i’m just becoming more stereotypically “normal”…

And it’s absolutely unclear to me whether or not I like it.

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Stop, Drop and Blogroll

I just wanted to draw your attention to the four links I have on the right of my blog. These are the three other blogs I read the most often, and all are worthy of your viewing pleasure.

Five With Flores & Top8Magic go hand in hand. The small amount of magic success I’ve had can be attributed to the impact on my game that Mike, Brian, Matt, Steve & co have had. I drove my construced rating up 300 points thanks to these people, and this is where you can find them these days. In particular, Mike taught me to love building my own decks, and to have fun doing it, which lead to a top 8 with arguably the most exciting deck in the history of Time Spiral block, Radha-Me-This. There haven’t been enough positive adjectives invented for what I could say for the authors of Fivewithflores and Top8Magic, so just hurry up and visit already.

The Starkington Post is written by a newer Magic personality that I have a lot of time for, Bill Stark. Bill has knowledge and determination to spare, along with the charisma to bring to you in an entertaining fashion. Over on the Magic mothership, Wizards seem to be grooming Rich Hagon as the guy to take over Randy’s seat in the booth (if it is to be taken over at all) but when Bill and Rich shared a booth at PT KL, Bill put Rich to shame. I highly reccommend this blog because Bill has a lot of smart things to say, and the passion for the game to bring it to you without fear of being wrong – a flaw many writers have nowadays.

Little Kuriboh’s Blog, currently going under the name “Little Kuriboh’s Greedo” is the blog of the creator of the wonderful internet parody series, Yu-Gi-Oh: The Abridged Series (YGOTAS). It’s appoximately thirty-two 5-10 minute episodes into its life, and pretty much all of them are hits. LittleKuriboh has a job/wife/life etc., so it’s a phenomenal effort to keep a series like this runing throughout all of it. The blog is interesting to me mainly because i’m a big fan of the series, so check out both links. Who knows? Maybe you’ll become a fan too.

Honey Garlic (I don’t know if this is meant to be one word or not) is co-ran by my good friend (that i’ve never met) Ryan. It’s full of quirky facts and info that never fails to at least bring a smile to my face, if not more. Ryan is in-depth with the Lolitics side of the blog, but we won’t hold that against him, as both the main authors are all worth your time to read. The only thing that you might not like is its focus on Canadian domestic issues, but all the posts have issues you can draw parallels with in your own life, so it’s all positive value in my books.

So that’s what I like to read on the internet. If I introduced you to one of these blogs, and you really liked it, drop a line in the comments box! I’m always interested to find out if my few readers (and my traffic stats tell me you’re out there!) like the same sorts of things that I do.

The Most Exciting Deck in the History of Time Spiral Block

2 Plains
2 Flagstones of Trokair
4 Llanowar Reborn
4 Terramorphic Expanse
4 Forest
8 Mountain

4 Greater Gargadon
4 Radha, Heir to Keld
4 Tarmogoyf
3 Riftsweeper
3 Mystic Enforcer
3 Akroma, Angel of Fury

4 Chromatic Star
4 Ghostfire
4 Riddle of Lightning
3 Stonewood Invocation

1 Disintegrate
2 Stonecloaker
2 Sunlance
3 Magus of the Moon
3 Boom//Bust
4 Ancient Grudge

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Paper-Smothering in Conflux Standard

Mike Flores recently blogged about some of his favourite articles from the last year. In one of them, he talks about Rock-Paper-Scissors metagames and how it becomes better to win tournaments with a certain type of deck. In the example he presented, Rock was Fae, and the most prevalent deck. Red Deck was Paper, because it beats the red deck, and Scissors was traditionally some form of Green deck with life gain, or certain builds of 5-colour that beat red deck but invariably lose to Faeries.

What I took away from this article was a proposal that Scissors was the right deck to play, because as the tournament wore on, the Rocks would play themselves a lot of the time, and the Paper would sweep away the Rocks, so if even just a couple Scissors survived towards the end, they’d be swimming in a sea of paper and be well positioned to cut through the top 8, so to speak.

What i’ve been wondering lately though – if the Red Deck beats Faeries as it is, with the benefits it is getting from Conflux – is there any excuse NOT to play Paper anymore? Life was already pretty miserable for Faeries, and it only gets worse with the new additions. Between Banefire, the new Unearth Sparky and Volcanic Fallout, you get a bunch of great anti-Fae cards that serve double duty by being good against various strategies trying to pose as the Scissors deck. Even the mighty hoser Burrenton Forge-Tender trembles before the X-Force of Banefire.

The strength of the Red Deck is the ability to “dial” it different ways. You can still play the traditional beatdown Red Deck Wins, it packages well with white and black to make good beatdown or control decks, and i’m sure that you can package all three of the previosly mentioned Conflux cards into an Unearth-Burn deck that allows you to play Volcanic Fallout in a non-controlling deck that doesn’t harm your own strategy. This last type of deck, Unearth-Burn seems the most exciting to me, as it fits the way I like to play Red Decks – it’s very much out of the mold of the Snow Red deck I made between Coldsnap and Time Spiral three years ago.

I haven’t spent a great deal of time thinking about other new implementations on the Red Deck, this is just sort of my beginning thoughts on where it could go. Below is a prelim list of how I might build Unearth-Burn

4 Mogg Fanatic
4 Hellspark Elemental
4 Hell’s Thunder
4 Demigod of Revenge

4 Tarfire
4 Incinerate
4 Flame Javelin
4 Volcanic Fallout
4 Banefire

4 Ghitu Encampment
20 Mountain

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A Reality Check

Sadly this thread will have no more mentions of The Miz. 😦

One of the first threads I ever posted on MTG Paradise was my White Weenie deck. It had barely any land, an awful Creature-to-Equipment ratio, and all in all was pretty bad. Everyone suggested that I add Skullclamp to my deck, but I wasn’t a fan of killing my guys (It had some creatures that didn’t gain bonuses when it was equipped) just to draw cards. But more and more people told me that I was nuts to not play it, so I said that I would at least test it. The card they were suggesting that I should cut was Vulshok Morningstar, so I tested a few games against various decks with both Morningstar and Skullclamp, and much to my delight, the Morningstar came out the better card. Still the ever-intelligent members of MTG Paradise insisted that I was wrong, and that Skullclamp was the better card. So I struck up a compromise – while Morningstar was the better performing card, I would add Skullclamp to my sideboard and simply add it in whenever I felt I needed. Still, that wasn’t good enough. I ended up very frustrated, but then a member named “Upturned Headstone” posted this: ” If you refuse to add Skullclamps when they’re the only card that makes White Weenie even remotely competitive, then you’re beyond help. Good luck with your deck.”

This sort of snapped me back into reality, and I made one more post addressing a couple of other posts, and then left the thread to die.

The point of all this being that: I was new to the game when I made that thread and those comments. It was nearly five years ago. recently I came across someone who doesn’t have that excuse to hide behind making the same mistakes. How can someone, who is supposedly quite a talented deck designer, take a post full of comments and say “I tested infinite games, so I know you’re wrong” (implying that the person making the suggestions didn’t test at all). If you’re not going to listen to comments – in particular the comment that say “you have two of X and Y, but X is better and here is why” – and then multiple people agree with them, why bother posting the deck at all? Did he think he’d struck deck design nirvana and was just looking for praise to descend from all the little magic-playing peons?

In my opinion, this deck designer has always had some high-quality ideas that were marred only by an inaccurate knowledge of how the metagame works, and this is supported by his finishes. It frustrates me no end to see someone with that amount of playskill, and a knack for deck design on a level that is quite rare…piss away all this talent because of Pet decks, favoured cards, and a refusal to admit the strength of the strategy of other decks.

Names have been removed to protect the guilty here, but I think we all know who i’m referring to. My lunch break has ended, so this entry must too. Two posts in a day…wow that doesn’t happen often, and especially not recently.


Ok, so I lied about The Miz. <_<

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A playlist for 09

This is what i’m looping through my iPod to start off the new year.

Yes I am stalling for magical content.

The Summertime Slam Van
Runnin’ Wild – Airbourne
A Whisper and A Clamour – Anberlin
This is the End (For You My Friend) – Anti Flag
The Running Free – Coheed and Cambria
Turn Your Back – Billy Talent feat. Anti Flag
This Fire Burns – Killswitch Engage
Done is Done – Millencolin
Complement Each Other Like Colours – PlayRadioPlay
Talk to Her – Priestess
Hotel California – The Eagles
You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid – The Offspring
Living on a Prayer – Bon Jovi

Spot the theme, and win a prize

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Jund Ramp, some maudling thoughts.

Never let it be said that there isn’t wrong with trying things. Below is a Jund Ramp list I worked on that started off with a Panorama/Basic Land suite. I think Panoramas are OK, but they’re not what this deck is looking for. Without further ado, the list.

 7 Forest
3 Swamp
4 Treetop Village
4 Mountain
4 Twilight Mire
2 Fire-Lit Thicket

3 Cloudthresher
1 Hellkite Overlord
4 Kitchen Finks
3 Broodmate Dragon

4 Gift of the Gargantuan
2 Makeshift Mannequin
1 Loxodon Warhammer
4 Rampant Growth
3 Violent Ultimatum
4 Resounding Thunder
4 Firespout
3 Garruk Wildspeaker

I feel like I want to trim a forest for a mountain, just to make it easier to cast Violent Ultimatum.

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