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Thursday, December 29, 2016

Yuna revisited

I drew Yuna few years ago and I wanted to know how it would go if I would try today. Well, today's painting looks very different from the one years ago. So I guess I should be happy, I quite like it^_^

Monday, November 7, 2016

Library of Slovakia, Highlander tournament report

This weekend a new Highlander series - Library of Slovakia - was to be held in Bratislava, Slovakia. I wanted to go but I had too much work to do and I wasn't sure if I could come. Fortunately for me I could. I bought a bus ticket, grabbed two decks hoping that out of them I would have 100 cards for a deck and left for Bratislava.

I arrived on Friday to Bratislava where two friends awaited me. We ate something that was supposed to be Chinese food in a bistro and then went to their place. I had to climb five flights of stairs! After that it was time to build our decks and write decklists. I started putting together Junk Midrange that I build for Chainsaw Massacre but I had to replace some cards because they are on the German Highlander banlist - Natural Order or Birthing Pod for example. Instead though I could play Demonic Tutor.

This was the original decklist that I played at the Chainsaw Massacre event. Actual decklist from the Library of Slovakia event is on the bottom of this article.

When I was done with the deck I also checked if I have all cards needed for UWb combo-control. I was missing few cards - Mana Drain, Into the Roil, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar - nothing too important. While Ivan was building his crazy blue-red storm deck we played few games with Beata who was on White Weenie. The Junk deck came victorious always. Meanwhile another player arrived. He was on BUG combo-control (Doomsday). We had few funny games. I knew that winning with Helm of Obedience and Rest in Peace might not be ideal against this deck since it ran Counterspells and enchantment and artifact removal. I tried few times nonetheless. It worked out in most cases. We had one funny moment. My opponent destroyed my Rest in Peace but I could still keep my Helm. He than played Doomsday though. I milled him then and he realized his mistake. I think he'll never do this again. Junk was also capable of winning even against this deck. Last I played against Ivan's Izzet deck. He was unable to control the game in most cases but once he killed me with his Grapeshot. His deck was good for stalling but not for winning.

I tried writing my decklist then. Well, I have to say it was a challenge. I managed to fit it on one page but it was a mess.

We went to sleep then. At 9 we got up and later left for the site which was actually nearby. The store was full of people. I was amazed by the number of players. 67 players participated in the event but there were even more players that wanted to come. Some players from Austria also said they'd come if they knew about the event (those that came to play PPTQ). I submitted my decklist and awaited round 1. Meanwhile I talked to Marian, lent him a deck. We had quite some fun talking about our games from the day before (making fun of Beata who was the biggest troll of the day - not playing optimally she often put us in unreal situations that ended up in her favor)

We were seated a while later and we were supposed to fill in a questionnaire about banlist. Since I already did that on the German forum I answered only briefly. Then we could get up and go see pairings for round one.

Report

Round 1
I was paired against a player whose name I already saw somewhere. I was wondering if he participated in a German tournament I attended as well and tried to figure out what deck he played. I soon found out he was on UWb combo-control, the very same deck I usually play. He played well, fast and he knew what he was doing. I knew that I'm not favored but I still could try my best and try to win. I managed to get him down to 1 life but couldn't deal the last damage. Jace, Architect of Thought and Humility ruined my game. When Jace went ultimate I scooped. In the second game I simply went on beatdown plan and won. But game three, I once again showed that I could deal 19 damage but not 20. Everything seemed fine but my Aven Mindcensor that was keeping my opponent in check eventually died (or rather was bounced with Jace and then countered). Back to Basics prevented me in playing spells with cmc 3 and higher each turn since I had only two basics I managed to fetch. Occasionally I played a three drop but that was usually countered and I lost since I was rather mana screwed thanks to Back to Basics.

As usual I started a big tournament with round 1 loss, meaning I would have to go X-1 to end up in the top. With UWb Combo-Control I could imagine that happening but not with this Junk pile.

Round 2 - Reanimator (0-1)
Next round my opponent started with Underground Sea and I started to suspect that he was playing Reanimator. He was. I was ready though because I had Deathrite Shaman. It resolved, didn't die and bought me enough time to win the game with my creatures.

In game two my opponent discarded some creatures and later tutored a reanimation spell. Thus I tutored a discard spell to get rid of the reanimation spell. After I discarded his Exhume he top decked Reanimate. He brought Iona, Shield of Emeria into play. I was glad it was that card because I was more likely to get rid of it. The other creature in the graveyard was Inferno Titan which would be way worse for me. it was time for me to top deck. To my surprise I drew the worst looking Karakas ever (Eternal Masters one). I bounced Iona that named white earlier and swung with my creatures. I played more creatures while my opponent was tapped out and couldn't counter my spells. He drew Life/Death and reanimated Inferno Titan killing two of my creatures. I knew though that I just need to let all damage through and deal the remaining 4 damage with my creatures. Since my opponent didn't produce enough red sources to kill me I killed him back. I was very lucky to win this match.

Round 3 - Esper Control (1-1)
I kept an ok hand, nothing explosives nor disruptive. My opponent played an Island turn 1 followed by another one on turn 2. I was playing against another Control deck and I hoped it would go a bit more smoothly than last time. I hoped to draw some disruption, a manland or a Planeswaker that could stick. I managed that - I drew Gideon, Ally of Zendikar - and played it when it was likely to resolve (only Force of Will or Pact of Negation could counter that, I did not expect the latter). It did. The game was soon over. In the following game I had enough low CMC creatures and Demonic Tutor. The plan was to keep my opponent off two white sources so he couldn't play a Wrath effect. I played Vindicate on one of his white sources and Wastelanded another one. Meanwhile I was attacking through Spellskite and Maze of Ith. Fortunately for me it was enough. Tidehollow Sculler removed Supreme Verdict temporarily giving me one more additional turn before my creatures would die. I won the game in time even though I started to doubt it since two creatures couldn't go through each turn.

Round 4 - Reanimator (2-1)
This was the most funny game of the weekend. I kept the hand because I had Deathrite Shaman in it that could eat creatures my opponent would discard. My opponent kept a hand with two lands, Show and Tell and Ashen Rider. Neither of us could draw a land for quite a while. I knew I was the one in disadvantage since I had 37 lands in my deck and Reanimator usually plays around 40 (I used to play 41). My opponent drew the lands first and played Show and Tell. I was wondering what could possibly await me - Ashen Rider, Griselbrand, Angel of Despair? Well, it could have been relatively anything but many of the cards that came to my mind were black, so I put Mirran Crusader in play. My opponent revealed Ashen Rider destroying my poor Deathrite Shaman (that did a great job though already). Then it was time to race the Rider. After some difficulties I managed to win (difficulty being Maze of Ith). I had to deal with Ashen Rider or Maze. I dealt with the creature and played another creature thanks to which I won the game later.

Game two wasn't good and I even messed up. I could have had Scavenging Ooze in play that would most likely eat one creature but another one would wreck my game. I rather scooped. Knowing that this error and lack of one green source most probably just meant a lost match for me.

The deciding game wasn't any better. Faithless Looting discarding Inferno Titan wasn't a good sign. I couldn't deal with the card in my opponent's graveyard nor in play and lost the match as I expected. A pity after I miraculously won game 1. This also meant that top16 was most unlikely. And when I saw where I was sent next round my tiebreakers suggested that I would not be anywhere near the top.

Round 5 - Doomsday (2-2)
I played against The player from the day before so I knew what to expect and since this was no Vintage I knew my chances to win were relatively high. I also knew the deck could do crazy stuff so I had to be as disruptive as I could. I simply played creatures that could attack well keeping some in my hand after my board would be wiped with Damnation, Toxic Deluge or Pernicious Deed. The first game was rather uneventful. My plan of being vigilant worked out. In game two it wasn't that good. I got mana screwed and my opponent was well ahead with his mana sources and he also saw more cads than me. In a game of Vintage this would be a lost game for me already. But it was me with creature on the board and dealing damage. My opponent was forced to tutor Toxic Deluge and pay few life which put him down to 4 life. That did not seem to unlikely. He played Courser of Kruphix and few lands which helped him gain some life. Meaning I couldn't kill him with Elspeth that I saved for a final attack. I went for the plan though knowing my opponent would get down to 1. He played Titania, Protector of Argoth and his board actually looked pretty bad for me at that moment. But due to having 1 life and a fetchland in play he couldn't crack and thus couldn't create an Elemental that would deal with my Elspeth I won. He tried to look for something that could deal with my Planeswalker but did not find anything so he extended his hand. With 3-2 record I hoped to win the last round but I felt it might be a bit of a challenge because I started feeling very badly due to low blood pressure.

Round 6 - Red Deck Wins (3-2)
The weather was changing fast and I felt it would start raining soon. That meant that I would not be able to concentrate much. I tried drinking coffee while waiting for the following round so my blood pressure wouldn't get to low but it didn't help much. Game 1 was a fiasco.

My opponent took few mulligans. Meanwhile I was trying to figure out what he was playing. If I could think straight I would have expected RDW because the tables next me were full of those and this player played in my vicinity at the higher tables (which were very red). I didn't figure that out though even after he played Mutavault turn 1 and Mishra's Factory turn 2 and on turn 3 it was already too late - Blood Moon hit the table and I was doomed. I could swing with my creatures and hope but I did not even manage that. My mana dork was producing mana of a wrong color. I died few turns later and I certainly deserved that.

In the following game I tried to concentrate. I kept a good hand that even included Timely Reinforcements. The player next to me said that I presideboarded for the tournament. My opponent's hand contained Skullcrack though so I had to be vary of that and play it when I could actually gain 6 life. While my opponent was attacking with creatures I managed to draw Sorin, Solemn Visitor. I remember messing up that turn which resulted in the Planeswalker's death. On the other hand it was Skullcrack that destroyed the card which was good because I could play Timely Reinforcements then. I felt fairly safe after that. My first few creatures that followed died which was a good sign as well since my opponent switched to defensive. Later I managed to have a creature in play that was big enough for bolts and won the game later.

The deciding game was similar. I had more creatures so I could trade them with other creatures. I also managed to discard Sulfuric Vortex as in the previous game knowing what would follow next. I had Dryad Arbor, mana dork and one more creature in play and Sword of Fire and Ice in my hand. Hopefully my opponent did not have Forked Bolt or something similar. The Sword is a big problem for these decks so I had a plan, but I drew Sorin which got a higher priority. I played it and swung with my creatures with lifelink. That bought me more time and it would require two cards for my opponent to deal with Sorin. Later I drew a fifth land so I could play the Sword, equip and the game was over.

Decklist

100CS Junk Midrange
by STsung, 1650USD, 472tix
Creatures
1 Anafenza, the Foremost
1 Avacyn's Pilgrim
1 Aven Mindcensor
1 Birds of Paradise
1 Courser of Kruphix
1 Dark Confidant
1 Deathrite Shaman
1 Dryad Arbor
1 Elves of Deep Shadow
1 Elvish Mystic
1 Eternal Witness
1 Fleecemane Lion
1 Gaddock Teeg
1 Grim Flayer
1 Kitchen Finks
1 Knight of the Reliquary
1 Leonin Arbiter
1 Llanowar Elves
1 Lotus Cobra
1 Loxodon Smiter
1 Mirran Crusader
1 Mother of Runes
1 Noble Hierarch
1 Qasali Pridemage
1 Reclamation Sage
1 Restoration Angel
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Shriekmaw
1 Siege Rhino
1 Sylvan Advocate
1 Tarmogoyf
1 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
1 Thalia, Heretic Cathar
1 Thragtusk
1 Tidehollow Sculler
1 Tireless Tracker
1 Voice of Resurgence
37 cards

Other Spells
1 Abrupt Decay
1 Abzan Charm
1 Council's Judgment
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Dismember
1 Dromoka's Command
1 Duress
1 Eladamri's Call
1 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
1 Garruk Wildspeaker
1 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
1 Green Sun's Zenith
1 Inquisition of Kozilek
1 Liliana of the Veil
1 Lingering Souls
1 Maelstrom Pulse
1 Parallax Wave
1 Path to Exile
1 Sorin, Solemn Visitor
1 Sword of Feast and Famine
1 Sword of Fire and Ice
1 Swords to Plowshares
1 Sylvan Library
1 Tectonic Edge
1 Thoughtseize
1 Timely Reinforcements
1 Vindicate
1 Zealous Persecution
27 cards
Lands
1 Arid Mesa
1 Bayou
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Blooming Marsh
1 Caves of Koilos
1 Flooded Strand
1 Forest
1 Gavony Township
1 Godless Shrine
1 Hissing Quagmire
1 Horizon Canopy
1 Karakas
1 Llanowar Wastes
1 Mana Confluence
1 Marsh Flats
1 Maze of Ith
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Plains
1 Polluted Delta
1 Razorverge Thicket
1 Savannah
1 Scrubland
1 Shambling Vent
1 Stirring Wildwood
1 Sunpetal Grove
1 Swamp
1 Temple Garden
1 Treetop Village
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Wasteland
1 Windswept Heath
1 Wooded Foothills
1 Woodland Cemetery
36 cards

Tournament aftermath

When the tournament was over we waited for standings because with my record I could possibly be in top 16. Judging from the table I played at in the last two rounds I expected to be far from that. I missed the top16 by 4 places though. I was happy with my 4-2 record though. I did not get annoyed with my deck much so all was good. The card that performed better than I thought was Grim Flayer. I would swap Leonin Arbiter for Containment Priest next time. The card I was seriously missing from my deck was Winter Orb. I usually play it (instead of Sword of Feast and Famine) but it did not come to my mind when I was putting the deck together on the last minute as usual.

After the tournament I traded and sold few cards. My binder full of Vintage cards wasn't too useful to many but I was glad I sold something, hopefully it helped the players at least a bit. I also sold Brainstorm for 1 EUR. That was funny. The player did not want to give me 1EUR but in the end bought it, he gave me that in 10 cents pieces (so I bought bus ticket for that). When no one else seemed to be interested in my binder we left.

We arrived to the flat and ordered some food. In the meanwhile Beata and Ivan went shopping, I opened Magic Online and played some Standard while Marian was watching me and Tomi was left alone at the table. One of the games I played was quite funny. I played against something that seemed to be Energy aggro. When my opponent played some 1/1 creature I was wondering what can happen to me next turn. My opponent had two cards in his hand so I did not expect anything lethal to happen. I decided to play Liliana, the Last Hope and try to kill the creature. I did not expect the creature to die but I expected my opponent to save the creature and not be able to kill me next turn. Well...this happened.

When all of us gathered we started a draft of Conspiracy: Take the Crown. Marian opened three Mythics, drafted a nice deck but flooded out during the actual game. I took a mulligan because I had 2 Mountains in my hand while the rest of the hand consisted of blue cards. When I drew my new seven cards I realized that I play 3 colored deck (I was 'splashing' Hallowed Burial and 2 Lieutenants). The first round of all turn 1s ended up like this - 5 different basics in play.

I had a bad deck with a lot of flyers but it didn't help me against a Wild Pair deck. Beata got a neat deck with the 'Doran' conspiracy card. She had 5/5 lifelink creatures with flying which was quite a problem for everyone. When Tomi managed to play Wild Pair he started doing crazy stuff. Unfortunately we were too ravaged by trying to fight 5/5 lifelink Sycopants that we couldn't handle another strong player. We started to get eliminated one by one. I lasted long but I ended up with 16 lands in play so I couldn't defend myself nor eliminate one of the strong players.

After we were tired of Conspiracy Tomas and Marian left so they could still use the public transport to go to their flats.

I played few games of Standard, featuring Emrakuls and some very big Tireless Trackers, wrote my decklist for Standard PPTQ and went to sleep.

I would like to thank Beata, Ivan and Marian for the awesome weekend (I might add a PPTQ report later). I can't thank everyone enough. I also wish good luck to the Highlander Series TO. I hope to come to other tournaments of the series but most probably I won't be able to come to other cities except Bratislava (we'll see about that). It was a great tournament.

Thanks for reading. If interested in games of Highlander (100 card singleton) just contact me via Magic Online (stsung) or twitter (stsungjp).
(The report was written on my cell phone which I hoped would make the report short, just saying...)

Thursday, October 27, 2016

(An Eternal) Weekend in Paris.

Warning: This post is more of a rant...it might not seem like it, but in general my experience from the whole weekend was rather negative than anything else. This is no report from the tournament even though I briefly talk about the matches. It is just ... a text written out of desperation ... it is personal and contains my own opinion on some stuff or people.

Few days before Eternal Weekend
Few weeks ago we found out that we would have to move to a new flat and as it usually is with everything it was delayed. So the week of Eternal Weekend we finally could and had to move. I was trying to pack everything. I guess all of you know Murphy's Law, right? Well, during that time I had to work hard at work, those people who asked me if I can help them with something just told me that it is now the right time to help them etc. I wasn't happy, I was tired and had to work way more than normal. There was no time for Magic and there was no time to relax. Magic Online stopped working which fixed the 'playing Magic' issue.

Trying to put everything into boxes...kinda failed but almost succeeded. Heavy stuff...Very heavy stuff.

There were some people who offered help with the moving but that's where it all ended. I did not bother some of the more reasonable people and just tried my best alone. My parents were of great help, but what I still had to do was way more than I was ready for. My roommate started packing his stuff later. He also provided us with food and that helped me a lot with all the stress. He 'booked' a moving company for Tuesday evening. Everything went fine. The next day we cleaned the flat. I almost suffocated (oh man that was horrible...) and we watched two episodes of Westworld. The series looks pretty cool, I can recommend that. Zdenek called a taxi and we moved the remaining stuff and us to the new flat while listening to the taxi driver complaining about immigrants and such. Not the best first thing to say to an Asian person...erm. But we learned that the 'best paid' job - collecting dead bodies around the city - is pretty tough and stressful. Zdenek saved me from an embarrassing situation and gave the taxi driver some additional money. I went to sleep then but couldn't fall asleep so I tried watching Body of Proof the only series that I haven't seen on my notebook not having access to the internet. I gave up few times ... and went phishing. Unfortunately for me the wi-fis I connected to weren't good enough for me. When it was almost dawn I fell asleep (why is there a hotspot in the middle of a park?)

While I was 'without an internet connection' I really wanted to know more about our trip (thanks to my sister providing a modem and working internet connection, I had some problems with our Garruk - router - but I was online, in the end it was rather the modem doing strange things). Not having the needed information I became upset, even more than from everything else that did not really go as planned (for example asking for help that all was turned down except two people that simply couldn't help at that time).

That day, the day before EW, I realized that I don't even have my decks ready. This realization did not help my battered state much (covered in bruises and aching all over my body) . I could hardly walk or stand and I was in serious pain (the reason I couldn't sleep actually). I tried to stand up anyway and went searching for anything Legacy/Vintage related. I was ready to play the first deck I would encounter since I had no energy for anything. Fortunately I ran into Grixis Delver and Grixis Therapy first and the decks were more or less complete. I was just missing Pyroblasts. I have no idea where I put those...so a long search followed. I found OmniOath finding out it plays Red Elemental Blasts, I found Miracles also playing REBs. I found binder with Vintage cards only containing REBs as well. I decide to go to sleep and ignore the card but when I lay down a deck fell down to the ground. I looked at what it was - it was Pauper UR Delver. Yay! I got my Pyroblasts.

Everyday we had to climb about 100 stairs in total to pass across a bridge over train station

Day 1
In the morning the following day I arrived to the airport and had to wait for everyone else. Even though I had telephone numbers of others I decided to call Matous, the only person that could probably keep me sane. He came second so that was good. We talked a bit about our decks and then others came as well. Svata and Mates followed and finally the organizer of everything - Zuzy (he promised me to call the info about the flight, but didn't). I have to say that personally this was the worst flight I ever underwent. The crew wasn't speaking French, English nor Czech and it was the most chaotic flight ever. But everything went alright, we arrived even half an hour earlier. I hoped that this would mean we could still get to the site in time for Vintage Trial. Unfortunately we had to wait for over 20 minutes for them to let us get out of the plane. We arrived to the hotel just fine and fast. But then we decided to go shopping and eat a bit. Well, this took ages. Organizing a group of 6 people is obviously not easy. I made the mistake of staying with them. But since I had no idea where we are and where the site is I stuck with them. Still it was a mistake since I actually knew that the site is 'Espace Charenton' *facepalm*.

When we arrived to the site it was already late so we just played Vintage among us. That was fun. I also walked around and checked Magic Bazar and Cartapapa stands. I bought some Japanese cards but neither had Jace, Vryn's Prodigy.

My opponent had ideal hand. Played Mentor on turn 2, all spells except 2 cards. Wonder what they were? Force of Will and a blue card for my Snuff Out. Instascoop.

When it was quite late we returned to the hotel. It is something I'd rather not want to talk about. I couldn't sleep because of all the noise and stuff. I tried falling asleep finally at 2 am while Svata realized he doesn't have his deck and decklist ready. I told him he had 57 cards in his deck and he wasn't listening to me at first. But then I told him that the remaining card is Ancestral Vision and that he used that as proxy in his Vintage deck. Then he was trying to figure out why he's got 64 cards in his deck/on his decklist. Even I told him that he said Force of Will twice while writing the decklist it took him about 20 minutes to figure this out on his own. I eventually did fall asleep but after already few nights of not being able to sleep and being totally exhausted I knew that the Legacy Champs would be a failure. After Svata's final exclamation 'Oh there's 8 Forces' I could finally attempt to sleep. Unfortunately one of my roommates was snoring too loudly and one of them was even talking while being asleep (and being pretty vulgar). (I actually recorded all that stuff...if I will manage to get it of my cell phone I will certainly let someone listen to it^_^)

Interlude - Deck Tech

There is a mistake. I played 2 Pyroblasts and 1 Murderous Cut. Just saying before you start to wonder about it...

Patrick Dickmann was coming in my direction suddenly. I was wondering what he's doing there at EW. I did not imagine him to play in the event. While thinking about that, he actually came to me! He asked me if I wouldn't want to do a deck tech which answered the question I asked myself earlier. I said yes even though I had no idea how that would go since I'm better in writing than talking (I will upload it later). I felt like a total idiot during the whole deck tech but I managed to say something at least^_^. Patrick was doing the talking most of the time. What I wanted to say is that I think he would like this deck. Even though it is not a combo deck it reminds me a lot of the games I played with Patrick's Tarmotwin. I used to race Merfolk with Pestermites and I do the same with Elementals against Eldrazi. I'm glad Patrick gave me this opportunity and I hope to talk to him again. He seems as a very nice guy.

On the other hand I'd like to say that I'm very disappointed in another player. Soly was obviously watching the whole stream and was toxic during the whole event. This is a very sad thing because I really like Vintage and I hope that new players would show up and start playing it. But with people that try to discredit everyone are not the best paragons of Vintage. My thanks goes to the players especially Peach_MTG that opposed Soly during the stream.

Day 2 - Legacy Champs
Getting up with these guys wasn't cool either but it was ok. We arrived 20 minutes before the start of the tournament. Ate a bit, drank a bit and awaited our first round.

I was paired against a nice girl playing Burn. I guess better than Death and Taxes? I wasn't particularly happy about playing my first match against something aggressive like this but I managed to win. I was lucky certainly. My life total went down to 5 when I finally managed to play Gurmag Angler and I hoped that this card would deal the remaining damage soon enough before two cards would finish me off since I did not have any counterspell at that time. I drew a Force later which countered Price of Progress and then I was in bolt range for a while but Angler needed to attack twice. She blanked twice and I won game 1. In game 2 I seemed to have everything including a creature with Jitte equipped but I let my creature die and almost let her kill me. I really needed someone to slap me hard at that moment. I tried that at least in my mind and decided that this CAN'T happen in the following rounds.

In round 2 I played against someone who started of with Volcanic Island and some cantrips. When another fetchland followed and another cantrip I started to fear. I kept a hand good against fair decks but not Storm. Fortunately for me my opponent played Delver and I could calm down. I won relatively fast afterwards. In game two we played a mirror match right from the beginning when I finally managed to stabilize the game though my opponent played True-Name Nemesis and killed me with it. In the deciding game my Cabal Therapies hit what I needed to discard and then I decided to race my opponent. It did not look good but it worked out in the end.

Round 3 was actually fun. My opponent played a mountain and passed. I did not really liked that much since I had no counterspells. But I had 2 Young Pyromancers and hoped they would be enough to win the game. While being under Blood Moon I simply played my Pyromancers and was attacking with them while wishing to draw a Force. I got rid of the combo and won. The following game was very similar with the exception that I lost. The deciding game was more interesting. It was the first game I did not need to play mono-red. I had to face Jaya, Sulfur Elemental, Blood Moon and Ensnaring Bridge but my Ancient Grudge and Pithing Needle allowed me to win the game.

In round 4 I could hardly concentrate. I was half asleep during the whole game but I tried to still concentrate. It was the best match of the tournament, usually games against good Miracles players are like that. I Probed my opponent seeing Swords to Plowshares, Terminus, Tundra, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Monastery Mentor and Brainstorm. That was more cards I needed to deal with than I expected. I dealt with Mentor but I couldn't deal with both Jaces and thus scooped. In game 2 I tried to be as aggressive as I could and somehow needle Top and counter Counterbalance. That worked more or less with the exception that Council's Judgment is a card and is often played in Miracles. My opponent assembled Counterbalance and Top soft lock while being down to 5 life. I managed to deal some damage 4 more damage and then I just needed to Bolt him before he would find a second Top, Jace, Mentor or Entreat. I managed that. Game 3 was very close but I did not win. My opponent was one of those that showed me Kozilek's Return. Obviously people like the card and I wasn't really happy seeing it.

In the following round I just couldn't play at all. I started with forgetting about Delver trigger while having 3 fetch lands in play. It continued with me not countering Ponder with Pyroblast which would give me one more chance to flip the Delver and deal the 3 damage I needed to deal in order to win. Delver did not flip, died and I lost with Lightning Bolt in my hand. I was ready to drop. I dropped to the surprise of my opponent still being able to top 8.

After I signed the matchslip and my opponent left with it I realized that I will have to do something during all those hours everyone else would be playing. I missed the Vintage Trial by few minutes but I guess that was a good thing since I couldn't obviously play Magic at all. I started walking around eventually waking up from the exhaustion and such. I was sad at first and then angry because I was on my way to the top, but I couldn't continue in the tournament because I simply did not have enough of sleep. I guess I also underestimated the needs of my body. I should have drank more and certainly I should have eaten something sweet. After another *facepalm* I hoped I would find someone who'd play some Vintage with me. Mates participating in the Vintage trial got a bye for the round so we played some Vintage together. The first games were terrible since my brain was still asleep but it got better and we played some interesting matches. After this I spend most of the time watching the top 8 of Old School Vintage tournament. Matous Trajhan, who was the only person who kept me sane during our trip, won the tournament with 'The Deck' after beating Henrik Storm also on The Deck. Henrik's hand with three Serra Angels wasn't good enough to win the game. Matous had Swords to Plowshares, Counterspell and Fireball for that and his own Serra Angel to fly for the victory (not really). Matous did win ages later but thanks to Recall/Fireball.

When we got back everyone had the urge to drink and smoke and such. It was a mess. I wanted to play some Vintage, especially against Oath. Well, the games did not go as planned, my brain refusing to work. After a rather funny episode I decided to leave everyone be and try to sleep. That didn't work out that well but at least I could lie in bed and relax just a bit. After Svata once again counting his deck and writing decklist in the middle of the night I managed to fall asleep.

Interlude - BoM
I'm not entirely sure why Wizards of the Coast let Bazaar of Moxen organize Eternal Weekend in Europe. Many players consider this a mistake and many already lost faith in BoM organizing Vintage events. They even cancelled them except Annecy. This is also the reason why many players decided not to go and rather decided to play a Standard GP than event that was bound to end up badly organized and in overall a joke.

Anyway I'd like to stay positive and hope that players will come to the event nonetheless at the end of March 2017. It is good that we have Eternal Weekend and we should support it even when it is organized by someone many do not like. Please come if you care about Vintage. It is also about us players and we can make it worthwhile.

Day 3 - Vintage Champs
Getting up in the morning was even worse thx to him but thanks to that we arrived even earlier to the site. I bought a coffee and waited for round 1. I had a bad feeling about me playing Magic that day.

In round 1 I realized that it wasn't just a bad feeling. I was totally incapable of playing Magic. My opponent started with Library of Alexandria turn 1 which did not really help my situation. His hand was full of good cards and I had nothing to pressure him nor Strip Mine. When I finally got the chance to destroy the Library I decided against it and lost like 15 turns later. Second game looked similar. I couldn't deal with Library and lost later to Vendilion Clique (with 3 Blasts and 2 Snuff Outs in my deck?). My opponent wished me better luck next time. I told him this wasn't really about luck but me being totally incapable of playing and wished him luck as well.

Round 2 I played against UR Delver and opponent that did not speak English. Even though I did not expect to win I actually managed to get through counterspells later (with Cabal Therapies) and keep my elementals alive and win. In the following game none of us had anything in play except few lands. But then I managed to draw Young Pyromancer and Dack Fayden. I stole my opponent's Skullclamp and thanks to it I managed to draw something. Honestly in about 20 cards I managed to draw 2 cantrips and a Time Walk.

Round 3 I kept a hand with Lotus, Ancestral Recall, Jace, Vryn's Prodigy and some counterspells. I drew quite a lot of cards turn 1 but I did not find Young Pyromancer so I played Jace. My opponent was just nodding her head so I started to suspect that she was on Shops, Eldrazi or Hatebears. She started with Ancient Tomb and Chalice of the Void that I countered. Eldrazi Mimic followed. I tried finding Young Pyromancer so I could fight back but in vain. My Jace died later to Endless Ones and Mimic. I had to win game 2 and 3. My opponent did not have any Thorn effects even though I had to face an army of Eldrazi. I managed to deal with that and win faster. In game 3 I wasn't really happy when I faced Reality Smasher turn 1. But I knew that not much would follow since my opponent was stuck with 2 lands. So I dealt with Smasher and tried winning fast enough before any other Eldrazi would show up. Thalias sneaked in but I countered one and killed the other one.

Round 4 was relatively quick. I played against White Eldrazi or something. My opponent started with Thalia and Containment Priest. I had Cabal Therapy in my hand so I played it naming Thought-Knot Seer. My opponent discarded the only card in his hand. So I had some time to deal with the two creatures already in play. With my next Therapy I blindly named Reality Smasher because that was the only card my opponent couldn't play at that moment. He discarded two Smashers and I won few turns later. In game two I got Thought-Knot Seered to death. That wasn't nice. In the deciding game though I managed to have Young Pyromancer and Cabal Therapy. So first I blindly named Thought-Knot Seer and then discarded Reality Smashers and dealt with the white critters already in play.

In Round 5 I played against a very nice guy who was on BUG with Managorger Hydra. I stripped him of Ancestral Recall while countering Brainstorm leaving him with Strip Mine, Underground Sea, Tropical Island, Mox Ruby and Underground Sea in his hand. Then I just hoped I would draw something with which I could kill him. He played few Gushes and Hydra but I already had an answer for it with some Force of Will back up. In game 2 I wanted to discard Abrupt Decay but instead said Force of Will. Which was an obvious misplay and my opponent told me this after the match as well. I knew I had enough time to discard the Decay next turn because my opponent started with Library of Alexandria but it was a bad decision anyway since I could have discarded something else instead - Brainstorm, Mana Crypt, Mox Pearl, Ancestral Recall, Abrupt Decay and Managorger Hydra was my opponent's hand. I was top decking like crazy though so I just ignored the library and was putting pressure on my opponent hoping not to get hit by Toxic Deluge.

Round 6 was the deciding round if I would end up in top 8 or not. I was paired against Lada Loucka whom I did not want to face or rather lose to. He was on Car Shops which wasn't a good matchup. But well there were Shops and Eldrazi next to me so I guess I would play against such deck anyway, even though piloted by someone else. I mulled to five that was far from ideal. I died soon. In game two I kept Dack Fayden 2 lands, a Mox, Snuff Out, Pyromancer, Ingot Chewer. That seemed pretty good actually but my view on 'good' had to be reconsidered when Trinisphere showed on the stack turn 1. I destroyed it but then faced Skysovereign and Lodestone Golem. Unfortunately I was one mana from away from dealing with both these cards. I scooped while my opponent thought that there was no way he could have lost this game. But he could have easily lost it if I just had another Mox in my hand or Black Lotus. I was very upset and angry sending this person in the top 8. But anyone could get there, it is just sad that some of the good players present did not top 8, in general losing to this kind of Vehicle madness.

After this I had a very cool and friendly game with Svata Sejkora whom I hoped would Top 8. But unfortunately it was not to be for either of us. He was on Nahiri Control and my best card against that deck was Echoing Truth^_^ since milling a deck running Emrakul does not always work. Even though I managed that few times already but this was impossible when my opponent had also Dack Fayden in play.

Aftermath

Google Maps was incapable to tell me in which direction I should head, Pokemon Go solved that problem. We were sitting on a big Gym btw that was unclaimed when we arrived. Just on a side note. I've seen many people 'playing' Pokemon GO there.

After the tournament I went back to our hotel room to cry or whatever. I found Mates there, who got banned from the site earlier, watching the top 8 on the stream. I couldn't listen to the coverage so I checked how to get to La Tete dans les Nuages to somehow finally get rid of the all stress I was in. I was too silly not to do that earlier. I found the nearest metro station, got to LTDN and played Pump it Up till I couldn't walk. First I wanted to try DDRX2 to see what songs there are and what the stepcharts look like. I got stuck in beginner mode though. After that I managed to play in the Expert mode and played some nice songs. But I couldn't bear the platform. From somewhere in LTDN though I heard songs from Tatsh and was wondering from what game that could possibly be. I knew that there was Pump it Up in LTDN but no other Japanese BEMANI game. So I followed the sound and found Pump it Up Fiesta and two girls trying to understand how the game works. They left after their first stage so I finished the last 3 stages.

Why isn't this the most played song on PIU Prime? I guess because Shinwa and Tara is more popular...(the most played song wasn't even Canon-D^_^)

It took me 2 credits to finally end up in Full Mode so I navigated to J-Music finally and played some of the songs there. The first one I played was Bad Apple. After that I rather played Korean songs that are more about stream than rhythm since I was too exhausted to force my body to a different rhythm. I even decided to play Xuxa on doubles but remembering that the stepchart is actually quite difficult I wasn't sure if that was a good idea. Well, I survived the song with loosy A and rather came back to Korean stuff.

After I spent all my tokens I left to see how the remaining players from our group fare. I expected to find them drunk but they far exceeded my imagination. One thing was clear, none would be able to play Magic. Even talking seemed difficult to some. Few were half asleep. Highlight of the night was Zuzy returning Black Lotus with his feet to the owner. Other Power cards ended up on the ground where Coke and Rum was spilled, don't ask how that happened or how MANY TIMES that happened. After this I think I could be glad that my playmat was just used as a plate for pomelo and that my deck stayed intact.

We tried to go to sleep for a bit before we had to go to the airport. Zuzy promised to call a cab but obviously he failed at it. Svata saved us and got us safe and sound to the airport. I couldn't walk much so I lost them on the way but I managed to 'walk' to the self-check in get my plane ticket and almost crawl to the gate B16. Everything went smoothly. We boarded on time but had a big delay. Even Zuzy and others arrived on time even though relatively late compared to everyone else.

In Prague I just had enough of everything and left everyone to their fate, having Zuzy's Lotus and Matous's cards with me.

Then it was time to finally fall asleep and regenerate. I woke up sick, tired and in a very strange mood. I tried sorting stuff, reinstalled Magic Online few times and went to eat a normal food finally. I couldn't do anything of what I needed to do (from doing the laundry to submitting my Vintage article, to playing in the event I promised to play in). On the other hand I managed to get MODO working! Since I lent some cards I had to come up with a deck though since all my decks except Miracles showed as illegal. I just decided to try some Grixis Therapy in Legacy and see if it could possibly work. I played a very greedy game against cgomes, totally top decking to the victory even with few misclicks. The game was fun, for my opponent probably not that much. I recorded the match but my computer ran out of space so I only have a replay of the second game. Top decks for the win! Unfortunately that does not tell me much about the deck's 'power'.

I did not really look forward to going to work the next day.

Now I'm back in reality and I will have to figure out if going to EW2016 was a positive thing or not. My feelings are mixed about the whole weekend and the event. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

PureMTGO - Power Nine Challenge - Grixis Therapy journey

I participated in the September Power Nine Challenge piloting Grixis Therapy. Not only I enjoyed the tournament very much I even managed to squeeze in the top 8. If interested in my journey, you can read my report at puremtgo.com

http://puremtgo.com/articles/power-nine-challenge-grixis-therapy-journey

Friday, September 30, 2016

Ascension: Dreamscape

It's been several years that Gary Games (now Stone Blade Entertainment) published their first deckbuilding game - Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer.

Even though I probably cannot be called a hardcore fan of Ascension I'm someone who really likes the game. When a new set is announced I look forward to it. I follow the visual spoiler and then I try to get my hands on the set. Unfortunately it is difficult to get it here and it usually comes out with 6-12 months delay. In the meantime a tenth set Ascension X: War of Shadows was released and new expansion is on its way. But I just discovered Ascension: Dreamscape.

Ascension Dreamscape is a ninth expansion set (stand-alone for 4 players) which was released in a digital version few days ago, but which was released in December 2015 in paper.

For those not familiar with Ascension the Game here's what I wrote to describe the first game.

Ascension the game

Ascension has a very simple rules and can be setup really fast. Each player gets a starting deck containing ten cards. There is a central row which contains a pool of cards from which you either buy cards or defeat monsters. After a card is bought or destroyed a new card fills the vacant slot. To buy a card you need a certain amount of Runes. To defeat a monster you need Power. Your starting deck contains 8 Apprentices (Runes) and 2 Militia (Power). You start the game with five cards.

On your turn you can buy anything as long as you have runes and you can also defeat monsters as long as you have Power. At the end of each turn you discard the remaining cards you did not use and draw 5 new cards.

In the center row there are three types of cards - Heroes, Constructs and Monsters. Constructs, after being played, stay in play. Monsters can be defeated in order to gain a reward. Heroes are one time effects that can be used on the turn they are played.

Each player has access to some common cards - Mystics, Heavy Infantry and Cultist. The first two are unaligned Hero type cards that give you Runes (Mystic) or Power (Infantry). Cultist is a monster that can be defeated if you have at least two power (you gain one honor when you defeat him).

The game ends when a pool (depends on the number of players) of Honor points is depleted.

When the game ends each player counts the number of honor points they have (cards in your deck have them and you also get them after defeating a monster).The player who gets the most points wins the game.

Ascension: Dreamscape - Components

Cards (214):
  • there are 4 starting decks (8 Apprentices,2 Militias per player)
  • 1 Cultist
  • 20 Heavy Infantries (not sure if it is 20/20 because in some of the games I bought there were more mystics)
  • 20 Mystics
  • 98 center deck cards
  • 35 dream cards
Counters/tokens:
  • 50 Honor tokens, clear diamond ones - 1 honor each, red diamond ones - 5 honor each
  • 30 Insight tokens, faceted egg orange ones. There are also two types, the bigger one is worth 5 Insight and the smaller ones 1 Insight.
Game board
Rules

Ascension: Dreamscape

Each Ascension expansion set brings something new to the game. In this game a new resource is added - Insight - that is used to buy Dream cards.

At the start of a game each player chooses 3 Dream cards from 5 Dream cards that are dealt from a shuffled Dream deck. The rest of the cards are shuffled back into the deck. The cards are put into Dreamscape zone and are hidden from other players (placed face-down on the table).

Dream cards can be either Heroes, Constructs or Visions. Heroes and Constructs when acquired are put into the discard pile as any other acquired card. When drawn they behave in the same way as normal versions of these card types. Vision is a new card type. Some Vision cards have only one time effect that you can thus resolve 'anytime (on your turn)' you wish (when you buy the card, the card is removed from the game then) or have an Ongoing effect (those stay in play).

Dream cards can be bought with Insight. Unlike Power or Runes Insight does not dissipate at the end of turn but stays till it is spent (orange egg shaped counters are used for this, yes the counters are round!).

In the digital copy Dreamscape zone can be brought by tapping the cloud icon on the left side of the screen.

Insight can be gained from cards' effects that you acquire from center row. Additionally if a Dreamborn card shows in the center row, each player gets 1 Insight. The player to acquire the card will gain additional 1 Insight.

I have to say that I like the idea of Insight. I wasn't a big fan of Energy from Rise of Vigil. That worked like Threshold, you could reach certain amount of Energy on your turn and profit from all cards that required that amount of Energy. That set was very swingy. While it was fun to play one long turn and gain all the Honors it wasn't an interactive game that I would prefer, it did not really make sense to play a multiplayer game from my point of view. The solitaire game was quite good though actually.

Insight and one's own pool of cards is something that looks balanced to me and I actually like the idea. It is simple but gives us more options to what we can do. For me this is a good idea how to add something new to the game. If one knows how to use the Dreamscape well, they can get some advantage that does not usually end in a huge swing. Also since the Insight does not dissipate at the end of turn it is easier to work with it and you don't need to be frustrated like in Rise of Vigil when you couldn't get the right amount of energy you needed and your opponent got it and just ended the game on his turn. The cards added to Dreamscape are added randomly but we get the choice to buy the cards we want and when we want which gives us control over our decks and I really like that.

What I do not really like about this new instalment is the art. I know that is a subjective thing. I already got used to the new frames and new look of Sabee's work but in Dreamscape the illustrations' feel is different and I'm not a big fan of it. Some of the Void cards do not really look like his work. I miss his omnipresent lines I guess. But this also means that for the same reason I do not like the art, someone might like it even more.

Apart from the art the game is solid and beginner friendly even though building a deck is not that easy in this game and the game has more depth that won't be seen at first sight. The only problem the set has is the fact that it cannot be well mixed up with earlier expansions much. Certain amount of cards will be fine, but after certain number of cards added it will become too diluted and no one will be able to buy the Dream cards easily (because gaining Insight will become rather tricky). This game allows a four player game but for 6 player game it needs cards from other sets to be added (I actually played it with the promo packs and that worked fine, but some promos are rather strange so I wouldn't recommend it, but I did not have problem producing Insight).

Certain cards are really powerful and Chaos Cannon can produce way too much power per turn when there are other Mechana constructs in play! My relatively power centered deck couldn't keep up with it. Probably needed some Lifebound as well to gain more honor per turn.

Strategy and other comments

At first sight Ascension players always tend to try what worked in earlier sets. Dreamscape looks very much like a return to the very first set even though it is not. The first thing one will learn is the fact that one should be careful with buying Mystics and Heavy Infantries. Dreamscape might seem simple but actually requires more thought and planning in order to win. The balance between gaining Insight, adding cards to Dreamscape and the timing of when to buying Dream cards should be balanced and well thought out. When a swing happens there is usually way how to deal with it unless the game takes longer than it should (or some of the big impact dream cards was acquired on turn 5-6). Players should remember that the usual control/aggro strategies work here even though all of these are way more tempo oriented and thus a single misstep can be a problem. It is not the randomness of the game that makes huge swings but rather decisions taken at a wrong time.

As I mentioned earlier, the games I played so far were very tempo oriented. It is very important to buy cards at a certain moment. One needs to have the right amount of runes or power or buy Dream cards at very specific moment not to lose tempo, rather than be able to produce the same amount of runes/power per turn. This is also due to the fact that there isn't too many cantrips nor cards that banish other cards from the deck. Even though Arha Sensei upgrades Apprentices to Mystics or than changes runes into power it does not help get the deck thinner. But I don't find that to be wrong, the game just plays out differently and needs some getting used to.

As for the Dream cards. People might to tend to compare them to Soul Gems but these cards have a different impact on the game. First of all, those cards are not cards from previous sets, they have other effects. These effects shouldn't be thought of as a random additional effect we can get but rather something we should incorporate into our strategy plan and use it well. There are cards that are situational, can be really good or just totally useless. For example Technological Leap is such a card. I like this one but I'd rather see a different cost on it (higher one). Some cards might seem useless at first (Dust to Dust and Ashes to Ashes) but actually come pretty handy and Dust to Dust played at the right moment can save you and win you the game. Test of Faith is seriously a test of how lucky you feel like and that is something I'd like to avoid. Armistice is a card that at first I totally ignored but then I realized...it gives an extra turn!

There are two cards that acquire a random card from the Dream deck and I really wish they would have MAY in their text because there are sometimes cards that are being added to one's own deck that simply bog it down. And it is not uncommon to hit three Dream cards that have no impact on the game.

The game feels to be quicker than the previous sets but in reality it is not in terms of turns. We usually finish the game around 16th turn. If we both go for similar strategy it either speeds up or slows the game down but when both players are trying to win the game and take the path that is open the game lasts around those 16 turns. This was true for the previous sets as well. The thing what makes it feel 'faster' is actually the fact that we can observe a power creep and that sometimes 20 honor can be taken from the pool in a single turn.

Verdict

This game feels more like the base game but requires planning and different style of play. This game can be played on different levels which adds more depth to the game. Even though it introduces a third resource I do not find that as something bad. It is actually good. It is not difficult to keep track of it and does not require too much of concentration or going through cards to check the amount of Insight one has (other players can check that easily and it is easy information to remember). Even though it has certain similarities with Rise of Vigil (tempo, card draw inexistant, too few banishing of cards) the game feels different if one discovers the routes one can take. If someone likes very swingy games and likes doing crazy stuff this is not the set for him even though it allows for it a bit as well. But it is something that happens 'randomly' rather than I will acquire this and that and go crazy (if you see what I mean).

No matter if you are a new player or an experienced one, you like to learn, discover and think ahead this set is for you.

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, September 29, 2016

S'Tsung doodling

Yesterday I watched a friend of mine draw on stream and I have to say that it was a really great experience and I would like to watch other artists painting/drawing. It motivated me to draw (erm paint) something as well. I was always interested in how my process looks like - from initial sketch to a colored 'something' so here is such a video of one fast doodle.

Friday, September 23, 2016

PucaTrade

From time to time players ask me if I use PucaTrade. I always said no because from what I heard it is something that could never suit my needs. PucaTrade is not the only place where you can trade online there is Magic Online Trade League, MTGSalvation but also Deckbox.org or Pojo Magic. Each site/forum has its upsides and downsides. You can of course you sites like eBay or MagicCardMarket but those are sites where you buy and sell which does not necessarily mean 'trade'. Other possibilities are social networks like Facebook or Twitter. It works fairly well if you have a list of conditions for your trades, otherwise it can be very time consuming and not efficient.

Since PucaTrade seems to be the trend nowadays I decided to give it a try. I do not write this as a user that has been trading on the site for a while but rather a new user. But still I can tell you a bit about PucaTrade.

I've read many articles saying that you can send a lot of bulk and then buy your revised dual lands or even a piece of Power. But the actual listings of these cards are very scarce and sending more bulk cards to a single recipient is rather tough using PucaTrade. So ignore articles like this and see what you can realistically get. If you send out EDH cards, you can easily get your hands on Standard and mid-value Modern cards. But even getting Modern staples might be difficult (or rather you will have to wait for quite a while) and I don't even speak about Legacy cards.

What is PucaTrade?

PucaTrade is an online trading service where you can exchange PucaPoints for physical or digital cards. You earn PucaPoints by sending cards to other members or buying the points from Puca (accepts PayPal).

How does it work?

After you create your profile you can create a have list and a want list. PucaTrade sets prices for everyone. So the cards on your list will have a price listed in PucaPoints. Then you can send cards to other users. You can see what people are looking for and match it with your have list (or use the search function to find something you have and want to ship). Then you just send the card to the member you chose. When they receive the package they will confirm it and you will earn puca points. Your cards from your want list will appear there as well so someone else can find you and send the cards to you if you have enough puca points to pay for it. If you are sending digital objects you will rather trade pucatrade bot and the other member will get it from the pucatrade bot.

What are the pros and cons of PucaTrade?

After I joined I realized pretty quickly that the site is ideal for trading standard staples and some medium value cards. I guess for those cards there is relatively high demand so the cards are traded often. Finding someone who is willing to send you Legacy staples will be much harder though. The same goes for bulk. Being able to send bulk cards in bigger numbers to a single person seems rather unfeasible.

There are no fees on puca trade. All you have to pay for is the shipping (if you both send and receive everyone will pay more or less the same for shipping). You can choose to ship to certain countries so that can reduce the shipping fees you will have to pay. Anyway you will have to see what is the lowest value you are willing to ship.

When you register, you can earn 350 points that you can immediately use. That's 3.5USD you got for free.

Since you do not need to price cards etc. you can save a lot of your time and do not need to stress over it in general (selling under price etc). It also means that after many lower value trades you can possible get the fetchland you always dreamed of (if you wait long enough for someone to send it to you). On the other hand this means that the site is not place for those who would like to profit on those trades (I don't say that this is a bad thing). This does not mean that you cannot gain by trading. In in person trading you usually profit by always taking some bulk cards etc. It can be done on PucaTrade to some extent too.

If a condition of a card is an issue you might not want to use PucaTrade. Sending cards in worse condition is more or less a no-go on this site. If you have free account you cannot send points to other members. This means that free account members cannot refund or pay extra points. If you have solver or gold account you can do that so trading played cards can be done relatively well.

When cards spike they become untradeable so members wouldn't need to cancel the trades because of price spike.

Happy trading!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

PureMTGO - EDH on Magic Online - Gisa and Geralf

Since Onslaught I fell in love with Zombies. I wanted to build a Zombie Tribal deck but the decked lacked a general I would actually like. The new set though brought Gisa and Geralf and that is a card I liked from the moment it was spoiled and that is how Gisa and Geralf EDH came to be. If interested you can read about it at PureMTGO!


http://puremtgo.com/articles/edh-magic-online-gisa-and-geralf

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Unsporting Conduct: Major - My story

Not so long ago Ali Aintrazi was accused of sexual harassment. After reading both Ali's and Amanda's story I had to write something myself. Lately I try to speak more to some of the players around me and I'm horrified listening to their stories and reading the stories online about what happened at certain SCG events does not help it either. While my experiences are very bad some of them are nothing compared to what some other players had to go through. I hear complains from both female and male players, both foreigners and local Caucasian players. At first I thought that I'm more of a rare case and that I cope with this behavior badly but in reality I withstood all that I describe in the article relatively without much harm done (most probably because most of the damage was already done before I actually joined this community, it was always part of my life). I'd like you Magic players to read this. It is something I wrote down without giving it much thought - those are pure emotions talking. Please read this and try to understand how some players may feel. Avoiding situations that are making matters worse for others might help a lot. Respect other players no matter their gender, sex or race.

My words to the Magic community.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Conspiracy: Take the Crown

Yesterday I happened to come to the LGS when a draft was supposed to start. After rather long debate about whether to draft Conspiracy or Eternal Masters it was decided that CN2 would be drafted. I joined because I wanted to draft this set at least once in my life and I did not feel like doing anything that day except play some ZEN/ZEN/WWK drafts.

I haven't really seen the spoiler so I didn't know what to expect. I knew what interesting Mythics and Rares were in the set but I did not really know what cards in general there were and knowing chase rares and mythics certainly wouldn't help me during the draft.

I went through the first pack and I saw 9 cards realizing I know all of them - the cards were simply reprints. Then I had to read few Conspiracy cards and finally I reached the rare - Charmbreaker Devils - that seemed to me as a killer card even though I wasn't really sure what that would do in multiplayer. I passed 2 very cool red cards though so I wasn't really thinking about drafting that color much. In the original Conspiracy I wasn't really drafting multiplayer cards much except those that really had a big impact on the game. This time I drafted the same or rather there wasn't even possibility to draft in another way.

Since I passed good white and red cards I wanted to avoid those colors and started soon picking black cards since there was removal and few creatures I liked - Custodi Lich, Carnage Gladiator and Blood-Toll Harpy. Green was obviously open from both sides since there were really good cards being passed. I did not want to switch though. I did not have anything 'cool' though or something that would swing the game in my favor when things would get bad for me. I had more removal than creatures drafted but in 5 player death match game this certainly wouldn't be enough unless Charmbreaker Devils would stick in the game and I wasn't even sure if I would manage to play the card. When it seemed I would just have to pick ANY creature coming my way being either red or black I got the chance to pick Capital Punishment! Voting Death or Taxes seemed cool even though I expected this to end up 1 creature sacrificed, 4 cards discarded. But even that seemed good enough to ruin some plans.

I put together my black-red deck and looked forward to the game. I was interested in what others drafted. Before the game started I remembered that I picked two Conspiracy cards that I could actually play since they were in my colors. One of them was giving the named card Firebreathing ability and the second one would replace the creature with a 2/2 Zombie which actually was relevant in the game later. I put the Firebreathing ability on Carnage Gladiator and the other one on Blood-Toll Harpy. Doing it vice-versa would have been way better but doing it this way made sense to me.

We were then seated and the game could start. Majority of the players started with Island except me and a Boros player. The Boros player drafted an aggro so it was him who was actually doing something early game. He played few creatures (and attacked us with them) and then he played Guttersnipe which made him the target of more or less everything. I tried killing Guttersnipe expecting the player to have God's Willing in his hand but not expecting him to have 2 God's Willing cards (I passed 2 though so it was likely). In the end that player attacked the player to my left for lethal thinking he would get his first point. Unfortunately for him the player to my right thwarted his plans by killing one of his creatures letting him stay at one life so he could claim the victory point for himself. On his turn he simply attacked and eliminated the first player. I was stuck on three lands and couldn't draw a fourth one so I just simply passed my turns waiting for a land so I could play a creature. When one of the opponents helped me and allowed me to search for a land I decided to try playing my Lich and see what the Monarch status would do. It wasn't a good idea. I could have played Garrulous Sycophant first and then the Lich which would allow me to drain life first and draw a card (which I forgot 3 times anyway...). When the Crown started to move from player to player I just waited for someone to eliminate me. My hand was full of removal so I knew I could survive an attack but simply someone else would kill me. In the end there was debate who would kill me. I went outside for a while so I didn't know how it ended but the game was over then.

In the second round I started with 3 lands in my hand once again and hoped to draw few more unlike in the previous game. In this game I was flooded but that was actually a good thing. I played few creatures and Blood-Toll Harpies - MVPs of my deck^_^. Later I even managed to get The Lich in play and the Harpies were really good at taking the Crown back always so I could let someone sacrifice a creature each turn. But what decided the game was Capital Punishment and another player's Illusion of Choice and his additional vote which pretty much destroyed everything except my creatures. He had Ghostly Prison in play and obviously some removal in his hand (and a blocker that could block everything) so it seemed that this was rather safe for him. This though meant that I could start eliminating all the players and since I played before the UW player I would be ahead no matter if I had some board presence or not.

My creatures started dying as well as it was me being the 'everyone's enemy no. 1' and the Lich received a nice 'upgrade' in the form of Followed Footsteps. But before the player could make a copy of it I still could eliminate someone else and I decided to eliminate the Boros player since he was making scenes during the first game and in the second game he also had some not really nice remarks. One of the players played Subterranean Tremors killing all my creatures except the Harpies and Gladiator. Anyway this was enough for me to kill everyone at the table since I had all the removal in the world and some power still in play (even though one Gladiator died and the other one ended up tapped for the rest of the game). My creatures in general were dismal and I never managed to trigger Melee correctly (even though I possibly could with the help of my flyers).

I collected the most points (there was one Victory Point per player eliminated and 1 for being the last in the game) so I won the draft. This meant I would get three packs. I decided to crack them but unfortunately for me there wasn't anything worth mentioning. My feelings about the set from this one experience are rather mixed. What I can say though is that I liked the Monarch mechanic. Seeing it on paper did not seem appealing or anything but playing with the mechanic proved to be totally different. The Conspiracy cards seemed better to me in this set since they impact the game more. On the other hand the regular cards in the set did not really appeal to me much. I did not really see a way how one could build a funny deck without the use of the Conspiracy cards (not that I would be expert in building funny decks, my decks are usually pretty boring and not too much multiplayer focused). The politics in our games were good though so I can't say that the games were bad. I'm glad I participated in this draft.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Custom token - Spider

I tried painting a Spider token since Ishkanah is pretty cool card in Standard right now.

Friday, August 12, 2016

PureMTGO - Roon of the Hidden Realm

Do you like comes into play effects on your cards? I absolutely love them! They just only have one sad fact in a form that it comes as a one time benefit. I wonder what would happen, if there could be done anything about that little flaw. Introducing Roon of the Hidden Realm.

http://puremtgo.com/articles/edh-magic-online-roon-hidden-realm

Thursday, August 11, 2016

PureMTGO - 100C Singleton is not dead!

If you ever thought that EDH (Commander) is the only 100 card format, let me tell you something about 100C Singleton known also as Highlander.

http://puremtgo.com/articles/100c-singleton-not-dead

PureMTGO - Show and Tell: Lands

Here is a funny analogy my friend came up with: Lands? Lands are like friends: if they don't show up, you get sad. If there are plenty, you get annoyed, but if your opponent starts to mess with them, you get outrageous!

http://puremtgo.com/articles/show-and-tell-lands

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Standard - BUG Control

note: totally random post...

Not so long time ago a fellow Magic player asked me if by a chance I wouldn't help him with his UB Control for new Standard. I was reluctant to do so at first since I do not play Standard and did not plan to play it. On the other hand I like building decks or at least thinking about it and that is why I said that I would give him my opinion and possibly come up with some kind of a deck of mine so we could try playing few games.

The first thing I did was write a list of cards that caught my eye from the current Standard and upcoming new cards from Eldritch Moon. I only checked blue and black cards but then I started thinking about UB control with Eldrazi, be it Reality Smasher or Ulamog played earlier thanks to Storage Lands. Then I came across Emrakul and delirium cards and the first card to come into my mind was Traverse the Ulvenwald - 1 green mana creature tutor that killed me in a 100 Card Singleton tournament.

After I wrote down the list I saw 4 different directions the deck could take. UB Colorless Eldrazi, "classic" UB Control, BUG Control (midrange, with delirium) and BUG Dredge. I was certain that UB Eldrazi and BUG Control would work so I put those aside. I wasn't so sure about BUG Dredge so I wanted to try it and see what it could do. I was quite sure that Kalitas would see less play and that the only concern I could have is Languish/Radiant Flames/Kozilek's Return. I wouldn't be the only one to die to that. But Prized Amalgam can come back from graveyard and Deathmist Raptor as well. It could possibly be a deck that could play Gisa and Geralf, a card I fell in love after I saw it spoiled (but I was well aware that this card being playable in the deck was more of a wish).

Check this to see the list of cards
List of cards I was considering I could possibly play in UB based deck
take inventory
anticipate
unsubstantiate

fortune's favor
epiphany

grasp of darkness
ultimate price
ruinous path
murder
languish

foul-tongue invocation
to the slaughter

silumgar's command/ruinous path

confirm suspicions
convolute/scatter to the winds
clash of wills
negate
void shatter
dismissal

dragonlord silumgar

sphinx of the final word
rise from the tide
ulamog
emrakul

whirler rogue
wharf infiltrator

jvp
liliana, the last hope

jace, unraveler of secrets
ob nixilis reignited

self inflicted would
flaying tendrils
virulent plague
(kalitas)
infinite obliteration
dispel
dead weight
reality smasher

transgress the mind
duress
collective brutality

dark petition

blighted cataract
estuary
hollow
fen
island
swamp
boneyard
(mage-ring network)
lumbering falls
hissing quagmire

emrakul

traverse the ulvenwald
nissa
den protector
hissing quagmire
lumbering falls
/sylvan advocate
vessel of nascency/dead weight/mindwreck demon/(lunar force)
grapple with the past

read the bones/painful truths

So I put together some kind of Dredge deck. It was just a concept but I was curious if it could possibly work. I knew that BUG Control/Midrange would simply work right from the beginning no matter what cards I would decide to put in, but a dedicated deck like this might not be the best when people have no idea what to play yet. I'd say many people would keep their Kalitases in their decks and I wasn't really willing to deal with them just yet. I tried the deck though against Esper Control and Grixis Control and it actually worked against both of these decks. Kalitas was a problem. When it hit the board all I could do was play my 3/3s, Mindwreck Demon and hope I would survive till I could land Emrakul. It worked but I was well aware I would need to tweak my deck to go through this card and decided to abandon the deck for now. I also needed to get Delirium more consistently. Anyway I liked what the deck was doing so it was worth trying it out (it usually won by one single swing with many creatures that came out of the graveyard or Emrakul).

BUG Dredge
by STsung, 365 tix
Creatures
4 Deathmist Raptor
1 Emrakul, the Promised End
4 Den Protector
2 Gisa and Geralf
4 Jace, Vryn's Prodigy
4 Mindwrack Demon
4 Prized Amalgam
3 Wailing Ghoul
26 cards

Other Spells
1 Dead Weight
1 Gather the Pack
4 Grapple with the Past
2 Liliana, the Last Hope
2 Traverse the Ulvenwald
1 Vessel of Nascency
11 cards
Lands
4 Evolving Wilds
4 Forest
4 Hissing Quagmire
1 Island
1 Llanowar Wastes
4 Sunken Hollow
4 Swamp
1 Yavimaya Coast
23 cards

Sideboard
2 Aerial Volley
1 Dead Weight
2 Dragonlord Silumgar
2 Lumbering Falls
3 Negate
1 Liliana, the Last Hope
2 Lumbering Falls
3 Negate
2 Whispers of Emrakul
15 cards

There was a GPT in Standard that I was thinking about going to but I did not have a deck. My friend offered that I could play Ali Aintrazi's deck (SCG Open Columbus?). I have no idea who that is but I liked his deck.

BUG Control
by Ali Aintrazi, 469tix
Creatures
2 Den Protector
1 Dragonlord Silumgar
1 Emrakul, the Promised End
1 Ishkanah, Grafwidow
4 Jace, Vryn's Prodigy
1 Nissa, Vastwood Seer
4 Sylvan Advocate
14 cards

Other Spells
1 Grasp of Darkness
2 Hedron Archive
4 Languish
2 Liliana, the Last Hope
1 Murder
2 Oath of Jace
1 Oath of Liliana
1 Ob Nixilis Reignited
2 Ruinous Path
1 Scour the Laboratory
2 Traverse the Ulvenwald
1 Ultimate Price
20 cards
Lands
3 Choked Estuary
4 Evolving Wilds
3 Forest
4 Hissing Quagmire
2 Island
2 Lumbering Falls
4 Sunken Hollow
4 Swamp
26 cards

Sideboard
2 Dead Weight
1 Dragonlord Silumgar
1 Ishkanah, Grafwidow
2 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
2 Lambholt Pacifist
1 Liliana, the Last Hope
1 Painful Truths
2 Pick the Brain
3 Summary Dismissal
15 cards

When I finally got to play Standard I forgot to take 2 Languish with me and I was missing Lilianas. Instead I put in 2 Grasp of Darkness, 1 Oath of Jace, 1 Ultimate Price main deck and 1 Dark Petition in the sideboard.

After some matches I noticed that I'm 1 Forest short usually, that Grasp of Darkness in multiple copies is not bad actually (seemed better than 2 additional Languish) and that Lambholt Pacifist is just a very bad card. I always sided out Scour the Laboratory, I had need for Ruinous Path/Negate and Pick the Brain was simply awful. Transgress the Mind and Duress were the cards to be played, not this one. Anyway I did not change main deck for the time being and tried playing in another event, this time with Lilianas (I actually swapped Island for a Forest, but I did not cut Estuary just yet, because I had nothing to prove that the card in 3 copies isn't actually ok). I changed the sideboard though. Pick the Brain and Dismissal had to go being replaced by Negates, 1 Dark Petition and 1 Aerial Volley. During the tournament I had the very same feelings though and for that reason I sat down and decided to ponder about few changes and the mana base (since I was immediately upset when I drew Choked Estuary and it even cost me a game and would prefer a Swamp instead). In the meantime I spent 50.8tix to buy the remaining cards I was missing along with some of the cards I expected to want to play (Gilt-leaf Winnower and Painful Truths).

The tables above show the steps needed to create a manabase. I wrote a short post about this 5 years ago. I just wrote it so I could link others there so they could understand my process. There was a table attached but since my awesome google broke all my links it is gone. The above sheet shows the same process. It is not for Domain Zoo and Solar Flare I used as an example at that time but Ali's BUG Control. With this I do not want to say that his mana base is wrong but that the way I see the deck and play it I simply need additional green source and I don't need that many blue ones. A black/green land that comes into play untapped would actually work as well but cannot be fetched so that is why there is additional Forest (and Swamp) and cutting Choked Estuary makes the mana base better.

Oath of Jace is really cool with all those awesome Planeswalkers. BTW Nissa joined the team a turn later^_^

When I was playing with the deck at some points I was like 'I really need something like Putrid Imp in the deck'. I needed a creature that could Fly and have an ability with 'discard a card' cost. Since I needed the card primarily for blocking, the Imp wouldn't do since with Threshold it loses the ability to block. But then someone noted that there is a card that actually meets my conditions. It is Noose Constrictor. It doesn't fly but has Reach and it's ability is even better than Imp's one. In some games I would really like to discard the cards I have in my hand and play Emrakul as soon as possible! Not to mention that Spirits and Spell Queller are a problem and this helps a lot with that. And BTW Dead Weight is pretty cool removal once again.

Since our local meta is more UR Thermo-thing based in the end I just cut blue and started playing BG Delirium. No matter how much I like Jace I just ended up siding the card out more often than not so cutting blue in the end was better. BG Delirium mirror matches are way worse than when playing with BUG Delirium. So now equipped with Caustic Caterpillar, Call the Bloodline and Kalitas I can finally beat those red decks.

I even had some funny moments with Emrakul! I controled my opponent's turn while he had Demonic Pact in play for example^_~.

Anyway...this was just some utterly random post. I just want to say that it was fun to think about Eldritch Moon and new decks and I fell in love with Aintrazi's deck. I need to make some changes and see how Pro Tour will end but I like it so far. So I'd like to thank Zdenek for asking me for help and then later providing me with the paper cards for Ali's deck so I could try it out at few events. Now it is time for me to buy them^_^. Even though upcoming PPTQ is Modern, hehe.