Monday, May 30, 2016

GPT Prague and Czech Vintage and Legacy Series #3 2016

During one of out conversations about the upcoming Series I said that I would join the players to go to Brno to participate in the CVLS. At that time I thought that I would have a chance to get the points needed for a bye for the upcoming Legacy GP in Prague. I had 98 points to go which is actually quite a lot. I had exactly 9 days to gather them. Participating in 2 GPTs and the Vintage tournament I hoped to get the points. Starting a GP with 1 or 2 byes is pretty good though and there is a huge difference between playing 9 rounds and trying to 6-2 or playing 7 rounds needing to 6-2. Since I missed the previous Trials I wanted to attend one or two.

Grand Prix Trials

Last week I went to one GPT hoping to play against my worse matchups to see what my deck can do or not. I should not have wished for it because it came true. I played against 3 Burn decks, Infect and Death and Taxes going 0:5. There were many things that did not go well for me. I made wrong decisions in all games, I lost few games like this. Burn just punished me for those mistakes and in some games my opponent just top decked what he needed a turn before his death. Game against DnT was unwinnable even though my opponent totally messed up and obviously had no idea how to play the deck. Turn 1 Mother of Runes, that I couldn't deal with, did the job along with Stoneforge Mystic and Batterskull. While playing against Infect I managed to screw up few times colossally but my opponent did not manage to punish me for it. Anyway his Berserk managed to get 10 damage through my poor 1/1 blocker. During this round the TO made an announcement that there is actually another GPT in a different game store and if we want to go we can just drop and go there.

The tournament showed me that when being tired or feeling sick I cannot pilot this deck at all (same while playing online, my win rate drops to almost 0 after midnight). The infect match was a big 'facepalm' though. That woke me up so I knew that I could actually pilot the deck without screwing so much in another tournament. I wanted some points so I went there. Hoping to get at least 30 points or so (so that getting those 98 points wouldn't seem impossible, I got twice as much during the tourney though).

I played against Burn round 1, this time being more careful and actually killing the player. He made me pretty angry by telling me that I'm just lucky and that he understands that someone is indeed lucky. He did not comment on the fact that he actually misplayed and did not sideboard properly which was the reason why I managed to win. Next I played against Junk that I somehow totally destroyed. I'm not sure if that was supposed to happen or my opponent was totally screwed (did not seem to be). I managed to eat all the lands from his graveyard, get rid of Knight of the Reliquary thus and get damage through with my own creatures. I also faced Eldrazi which was a piece of cake as usual. I had a tough time against Infect, but I managed to have the right combination of Wastelands, counterspells and removal that I managed to win. In the last round of Swiss I intentionally drew with UR Delver player. I would most probably lose against that. Next I beat Reanimator. Deathrite Shaman in game 1 is capable of winning the game. Post board it is more difficult since I have difficulties dealing with Show and Tell but this fate did not await me and I won. In the finals luckily for me I encountered Eldrazi yet once again. None of us had byes so we had to play. It was rather clear that I would win but I certainly gave my opponent chances to win since I misplayed few times. I wasn't really fresh after 12 rounds of Legacy and I was very hungry^_^. In ten minutes we were done and I could go buy some food.

Winning the GPT meant that playing the next GPT was more or less pointless. I also knew I wouldn't feel well and wouldn't be able to play well which in the case of Legacy meant I would most probably go 0-5. I was also told that I would have to pay for the trip nonetheless if not coming so I decided to go and hoped to survive those two days. I knew I would but I wasn't sure how supportive the players would be seeing me in the condition that awaited me. I wondered what the trip would be and I wanted to play some Vintage anyway.

On Friday night I thus tried to produce a Vintage legal deck, GPT decklist (since my Legacy was ready due to previous GPTs) and some stuff I would want to take with me. I also brought my notebook so I could participate in P9C. I talked to a friend of mine online if he could come see me and make my trip worthwhile because I was very afraid that it would go really bad for me. He proposed that I could bring ANT so he could try the deck out a bit. So I decided that it is the right time to divide Vintage Oath and ANT that I put together by accident one day and take the ANT deck with me. I also had to fix my backpack since the zip was broken. I was too lazy to do that before because I lost some needles and a thread among all the cards in my room. I received a new 'survival kit' lately so I used that to fix my backpack. Who would imagine doing something like this at 1 am?

I went to sleep some time later. In the morning I got a message if I can't bring Oath deck with me making me 'a bit' furious since I had to leave in like 5 minutes. I left the flat on time with my backpack but forgetting food I bought for the trip, water and isotonic drink I was sure to need (due to storm coming). I came to the point of departure on time. Waited for some time till first player came telling me that I'm silly to come on time since Zuzy never comes on time. Later me, Zuzy, Tomas Mar and Matous Trajhan left for Brno to participate in the Legacy Trial.

When I got there I did not want to participate, but I had no idea what I would be doing there anyway the whole time. So I paid for it and prepared for another almost 100% sure 0-5. In round 1 I played against someone who made my day miserable. I decided to beat him and then don't care about the rest of the day conceding to the rest of the opponents not making it obvious. I beat him after some time listening to him complaining about stuff what I should have done or not. I just did not want to lose, so I played safe for which I was mocked because it seemed I did not want to beat him. 'Oh yeah, a typical Czech tournament' I thought. After I beat the guy he talked to some other players actually not acting like a jerk anymore. I did not really know what to think of that but my mood was already spoiled and I was doomed for the rest of the day. My plan was to wait for Marian to show up and save me.

In the following round I had a nice chat with Ondrej Kopicka and faced yet again Stoneblade. After a while I died to True-Name Nemesis with Umezawa's Jitte. Our games were actually relatively quick (he's pretty slow player) so we had quite some time to discuss Legacy and Stoneblade archetype.

I do not really recall the following rounds much. The players were nice and I enjoyed playing against them but I wasn't really paying any attention to the game since I already gave up in round 1 of the tournament. I successfully managed to be the last in the tourney since I was the only player that did not get a bye thus sending me to the bottom.

During one of the rounds Marian really came to see me. We managed to talk a bit, he tinkered a bit with my Grixis-Value Modern deck, played some games and witnessed also some crazy top decks from his opponents. He also faced Kiki Chord deck and died to Emrakul even though top decked Noble Hierarch making Restoration Angel 4/5 Flyer while he was down to 4 was a way worse death. I just experienced similarly crazy top deck from my opponent in my match.

After the tournament was over we then played some Legacy together. I played with Shardless BUG that I wasn't able to pilot all day against ANT terribly dying which was no surprise since the matchup is terrible game 1 (and not so good g2 either). We changed the decks then so I could at least win some games. That happened and I learned one or more things about that matchup. When I tried eating a tutor with Deathrite Shaman when my opponent was trying to go off it usually ends up in him drawing the Tendrils via Gitaxian Probe or Brainstorm even though I'd say that this is rather improbable scenario. I got in the very same situation myself since I would die next turn. So I decided to try and see if I could also pull this off as well. And you know what? My 3 random cards did not show me Tendrils of Agony^_^ Obviously. After we got tired of this matchup we played a bit of Vintage which was way more fair for both players.

Marian played my Blue Moon deck and I was on Delver. He showed that my deck can sometimes be really broken - starting with Consecrated Sphinx T1. I knew that I had Pyroblast on top of my library so I hoped it would resolve. I drew the card and played it. Few Missteps later Sphinx was destroyed and the game could continue. I was far behind on resources but in the end I somehow managed to win the game.

Chill out time

When all the players finished the tournament I had to say Marian good bye and join our group. We left for Adamov to spend some time in a local restaurant. The food looked delicious. The meal I ordered wasn't the best choice but I devour it fast. I felt pretty badly during the whole tournament and it wasn't getting any better. A big storm was coming and I was lose to fainting. I was trying hard to stay conscious but my body was trembling and needing a lot of energy and higher blood pressure. I played some Vintage with Tomas Mar beating him pretty badly because he played a super greedy deck. I knew though that playing Delver our roles would change. His deck is all about value while being able to pressure the opponent as well. My deck is very far from that. Actually any Vintage deck is very far from that...

After I ate my tortilla I played Modern on Magic Online to see how the field looks like so I could adapt a bit and not play like an idiot. Kalitas tried to show me that he really is worth 32 tix and managed to win a game that went seriously wrong after Blood Moon hit the table and my black source was destroyed.

I learned that Kiki Chord can side in Lightning Helix, that Mono White humans are actually pretty efficient (3 Anger of the Gods, 1 Damnation did not really help since I did not even see any of those cards) and that something like Eldrazi Staxx exists. The decks I deemed to be some homebrew decks were actually SCG events winner decks so I think it is time to actually see what the metagame looks like and what deck can possibly be viable. I played Jund, was told by one of my opponents that it is the best deck still and that I should stick with it. After I killed him I played few more matches and then it was time to leave the restaurant.

Some of the players wanted to sleep. We went outside just to find out that the storm is still raging and that it won't just stop in few minutes. We ran all the way to our destination - a really cool flat. Some players went to sleep (some unsuccessfully) and the rest stayed up and played some more Vintage. When I thought that this time the trip would be without alcohol we were given a shot of Whisky (and something else). I stayed there with the players drinking run and whisky and tried my Delver deck against Eldrazi. My opponent wasn't really familiar with the deck nor Vintage so I managed to win quite often. After this I switched to Blue Moon to see how well the deck can fare against Eldrazi. I wasn't so successful as I would have expected. But we had some funny games. I even managed to play Rolling Earthquake for 14 killing my opponent in the process (I survived with 3 life). In the meantime we talked about all kind of stuff and Magic. It was quite pleasant even though the games went rather awry with the alcohol levels rising in the players' bloodstreams. When my opponent was trying to figure out if the 'big eyed purple thing' is an artifact and could pay for it with Mishra's Workshop (that was a mountain at that time) it was time to stop playing Magic. More alcohol followed and it was time for me to go to bed and try to sleep at least for a while.

I managed to sleep for 3 hours. Then I couldn't fall asleep again. 2 and half hours later I heard some commotion in the other room so I got up to join them. To my surprise it was my opponent from round 1, and our host (who seemed to be rather timid). Kuklin (my RND1 opponent) prepared us some tea and coffee and since the person who volunteered to prepare breakfast for us was asleep he later started preparing the breakfast with Martin - our host. Power Nine cards were put into our decks if they weren't there already which started a debate whose cards are more mint and cool (mine being battered and worn) and Japanese cards were obviously looked down upon. Some players started writing decklists. I did not expect to need that so I did not bother with that before leaving for Brno. So I also took a decklist sheet and tried to fill it in. I started with creatures and some restricted cards and then it was a nightmare to continue. I managed to put together 59 cards and my sideboard from memory in the end. I gave up thinking about the last card though and grabbed my deck to see what I missed. It was Pyroblast. The player next to me had similar problem. He missed a different card though and took more time to figure out which card it was. After some time during which we were sipping our tea/coffee and talking about experiences from trips to BoM or GPs, it was time to leave. I was wondering if someone else than us would come...

Vintage Tournament

The 8 of us arrived to Rishada and were joined by 3 more players. Everyone knew each other and also they knew who would be playing what. I was the odd one there. So I had to see who play what for myself. I've seen few Tezzerator decks around, Mentor, URw Delver (me), Tomas Mar's Value deck, UW Landstil, Eldrazi and Ravager Shops.

Round 1
In round 1 I played against Mentor with a black splash for Tasigur. I started with two mulligans because my only source was Black Lotus and I had no cantrips or anything I could play for it. This reminded me our discussion about that card from earlier. We were trying to figure out if the card is really necessary in some decks. It is clear that some decks need it more and don't. My deck for example is one of the decks that don't really need it. I tried to defend the card since it allows me to still have some broken early turns and also helps against Staxx (with help meaning that it often becomes the only card that can still win me a game). My five cards weren't any better but at least I had one land and a cantrip. The game did not go well. Even though I killed one Mentor and got rid of Tasigur I couldn't deal with Jace and Dack and it was game over for me. In game two my opponent sided out his Volcanic Islands and due to this he was unable to fetch for it and play Flusterstorm in two situations. This won me the game. I got a chance to play a fair game and win but it was not to be. I had to deal with Mystic Remoras and a third one that resolved was a huge problem for me since I couldn't sit it out. There was a big fight over the Remora so I knew that anything that would hit the table afterwards I would be able to deal with. But unfortunately I wouldn't be able to deal with the Remora. I practically haven't seen my Pyromancers during this match. When the game was nearing its end I had 2 Gushes in my hand, Dack Fayden, Mox Sapphire and Black Lotus. I did not want to play the rocks because I would either have to tap out or let my opponent draw a card. My plan was to discard the cards if by a chance I would manage to play Dack and make it resolve. My draws were bad though and did not contain any counterspells so when my opponent started playing spells I tried as well. Dack got countered because of my misplay and I scooped later. Zuzy came to me commenting on my early decisions which were in line what I wanted to do and no one even noticed the fact that I terrible screw up but was mocked for something that was correct. This put me on tilt once again and I did not look forward to next round.

Round 2
I was paired against the player asking me about my decisions earlier so I was displeased even more. I also knew that he's usually on Mentor so I wasn't looking forward for another long game against something I don't usually win. He's worse player though than my opponent from round 1 so I had bigger chances. I kept a hand with Stony Silence, Young Pyromancer, one cantrip and nothing much else. It wasn't a good hand against Mentor. My opponent won the die roll and started with Mishra's Workshop and Sphere of Resistance. I nodded that the spell resolved and drew something. I played a land and Mox and passed the turn when I finally fully understood that my opponent is certainly NOT playing Mentor. Now it was eithe Eldrazi Shops or non-Eldrazi Shops. He followed with Cavern of Souls for Golem but I already suspected Eldrazi. I played my Pyromancer and then tried to create enough tokens. I drew some Bolts in the meantime a managed to deal with Golem thus. The Eldrazi that followed did not even bother me much because I already had a way of dealing with them. I had 2 Pyromancers and 4 tokens in play. Ancestral Recall and Force of Will in my hand. I knew I could create a fifth token to block and kill Reality Smasher but I could do better. I could race back and chump with few elementals not to die and possibly counter some other creature. I did exactly that. I swung with my creatures, played Time Walk, attacked again and kept the aforementioned cards for Phyrexian Metamorph or Slash Panther that I could counter. If another Eldrazi would be played I'd just play Ancestral Recall. The two Smashers would get through but I would be down to 1 life winning next turn. My opponent played Phyrexian Metamorph. I Force'ed it and he scooped.

In the following game I kept a hand with Ingot Chewer, removal spell and FoW. I countered his first Sphere but a second one followed. We stared at each other for a while because none of us had something to play. He they played Golem again, followed by Thought-Knot Seer. I destroyed the Golem with Ingot Chewer but playing it for 5 and hoped to draw something so I could deal with the Thought-Knot Seer. Delver would be enough to double block the creature. The game took a while but I won later because I could help my draws unlike my opponent.

Round 3
Next round I had to move from my spot to where my opponent was since he had his two kids there. So I tried hard to get up and went there (I was hardly walking due to convulsions and terrible pain, normally this affects only my lower back/abdomen and right leg but this time I felt the pain even in the tips of my fingers of my right hand). After one of the kids hit my leg sending pain all over my body we could start playing. Previous round I passed around since restrooms were located nearby and noticed that the person had Underground sea, bunch of Moxen and Voltaic Key in play. I suspected him to play Tezzerator. When I drew my seven and saw Stony Silence in my hand I was rather glad. My opponent played Ancestral Recall on t1. I had Misstep that I could use either on that or the Key that could follow. I did not want my opponent to draw a counterspell, so I could resolve my Stony Silence, so I played the Misstep on the Ancestral Recall. He let it get countered and followed with Mox Jet -> Voltaic Key. I let it resolve, drew for my turn and played Stony Silence. My opponent thought for a while but then nodded that it resolved. A turn later he asked me what the card does (it was in Japanese). I won later by playing Pyromancer, creating some tokens and dealing lethal damage. Second game was similarly quick. My opponent thanked me for the game even though I terribly beat him, I felt sorry for him. I then limped back to my spot and played a Modern match. I did not expect to ran into UW control (since I had 25 minutes for it). To my surprise I managed to win. I had to play a creature per turn so I could get rid of all my opponent's Path to Exiles so I could kill him later with my Raging Ravines. Snapcaster Mage made it a bit worse but I had 2 Ravines at that time already anyway. Playing against that deck felt way better than against the Kiki Chord. I had no idea what the deck was capable of doing except killing me with an army of Restoration Angels.

Pairings for next round were projected on the wall next to me so I checked it and saw that I was paired against Matous Trajhan. I knew what deck I'm facing and hoped for Stony Silence but it did not show up. So at least I tried to find counterspells for his combo kill that he already had in his hand. After he played Gifts Ungiven finding all the counterspells he could, he played his combo pieces and I scooped. In game two I managed to win thanks to Stony Silence. There was just Tinker threatening me but I kept Path to Exile and Mental Misstep on the top of my library so I hoped that would be sufficient. The deciding game was interesting. I did not really have anything to disrupt my opponent's plan so I tried to kill him as fast as possible before he would kill me. He was short on resources though but tried playing Time Vault and Voltaic Key in one turn not being able to untap the Vault. I destroyed the Voltaic Key with Wear//Tear and then stole Time Vault with Dack Fayden. My lethal attack was disrupted with Notion Thief killing my Pyromancer but still my opponent had no way how to deal with my creatures or kill me instead so I won.

Round 5
Normally Round 5 would have been the last round and would result in me being second and my opponent being first but we had to play additional round since some players wanted 6 rounds. We played the match thus. My draw was bad and I knew what I was up against. I knew that first Kolaghan's Command that would resolve would be GG. I tried hard finding as many creatures as I could but unfortunately I did not find any. My opponent was already far ahead but I still had Dack Fayden and Jace to try my luck. I tried but none brought anything and soon died to Abrupt Decay. The game was pretty much over so I scooped. Next game wasn't any better. I tried to produce as many creatures as possible and fight over them (because there's no way countering Decay) but it wasn't enough and I once again died to Tomas Mar's card value.

Round 6
Round 6 I was paired against Kuklin. I already knew he was on Tezzerator since I saw him play earlier but he had no idea what I play. When I played Stony Silence turn 2 (so I could back it up with Pyroblast and FoW) he started to complain and couldn't believe me that I play such card main deck. Next I played Dack Fayden which made him even more confused. When Young Pyromancer joined the permanents on the table he was completely puzzled. He scooped. In game two I kept a hand with Stony Silence, Black Lotus and a land. I did not want to ran into Mindbreak Trap (that I managed to ran into last game) so I played Lotus and Stony Silence. It resolved. I played Brainstorm and Delver of Secrets to my opponent's surprise. He then tried to find something but succumbed to my creatures' attacks relatively soon.

The last round sent me to 4th place instead of second place so I wasn't particularly happy about that. But I won something nonetheless. Thanks to the 6th round though I achieved to gather all the remaining 98 points that I needed to collect till the end of May so I could get 1-round bye for upcoming GPs for next season. Since I do not really participate much in paper Magic tournaments anymore this might be the last time I get enough points for 1 bye.

In the end the trip was actually nice. The GPT was an awful experience at first since my mood was pretty bad after the very first clash. I felt really badly, couldn't think straight and I was certainly not interested in someone mocking me, being a jerk or anything else. But it got way better. I met awesome people, nice people. The store we played in - Rishada - is very nice place. I enjoyed it and would come back again.

I found out that the Vintage community is comprised of adults who are actually mature even though sometimes they do not act like that and share the same passion for this format. Those people actually care about others and would like to help new players who'd like to play the format. They just don't really want to have anything in common with competitive players of non-eternal formats and I can feel with them. Unfortunately I'm considered to be one of those 'competitive players'.

I wish I could have felt better during the weekend. I have to thank everyone for being nice and caring and I'm very glad I came. Thanks goes to Marian who came to see me as well. Unfortunately due to Old School not firing we did not have much time for each other on Sunday but hopefully we will make up for that during the upcoming Legacy GP.

Thanks everyone.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Get Windows 10

this is just a rant post...

Some time ago while I was playing on Magic Online a window popped up trying to advertise Windows 10. I pressed ALT+F4 to close it but it didn't. I tried CTRL+W but that did not do anything either. After I was annoyed to maximum (since this could be seen on my video stream) I clicked on the X icon and managed to close the window. Next time I did not even bother trying to press something and used my touchpad to do so.

Few days ago my computer announced me that it needs to be restarted and it did 10 minutes later. After it restarted it showed me the same dialog box not letting me choose anything else than 'restart' which was very strange. I restarted the computer few more times till it finally let me use it (with the exception of AVG also wanting to restart my computer, so annoying).

Later I was playing a match on Magic Online I started to experienced a big lag and I even wanted to concede because of it. I stopped my stream but it did not help and wondered what is going on. I noticed a Windows 10 icon so I clicked on it and stared at a download bar showing me a progress of 2.83GB file downloading. I clicked on stop downloading and closed the window. Afterwards Magic Online unfroze and started working again. Some time later though it disconnected due to the damn thing downloading once again (it started where it left of).

I let it go and went to sleep that day. A day later it started again, so I looked more closely at the text box and found something marked as 'reschedule'. It allowed me to postpone it for a week. I did that and I was wondering if after I downloaded this thing it would actually start automatically installing itself. This frightened me quite a lot so I decided to uninstall the KB3035583 update that installed to my machine several times already.

When I was updating .NET framework it decided to sneak in even with recommended installs not supposing to install.

Since I'm happy with my Windows 7 Professional I don't want anything like Windows 10. The OS will most probably be unstable and won't probably work correctly at least for the first few months or even a year. I hoped I could skip this system (if there will be something like Windows 11, which I actually expect with Microsoft claiming that Win10 would be the last). I don't care if I pay for Windows later but this is really annoying.

Some services or other stuff like Bing I considered as a malware. It obviously isn't but with similar behavior to this...I wouldn't be surprised if it would be.

Is this 'Get Windows 10' even legal? It misinforms about the installation and such. It does things you don't even agree to. I really hate that but it seems to be the trend nowadays.

Our ISP changed the contract just sending us an email with the changes (being rather radical) and that they automatically take for granted that I agreed to the contract (paying more money). They also send me an email that I should immediately pay for it or our internet connection would be cut. They changed the price we pay, changed the account the money is supposed to be sent and I did not even know about it because I did not really get any kind of announcement about that. Again I this legal? Is that normal?

One more story. I need an EUR account without high fees for a single European transaction (the bank I use charges up to 37EUR per transaction). I also needed to be able to send and receive SEPA payments. I went to few banks asking if the banks are capable of that and what the fees would be. I finally found one, opened the account which means 10EUR deposit that will stay there forever just to find out the bank did not accept nor allowed to send SEPA payments. I was furious. I chose this bank according to what they offered and what was actually written in the contract and bam...I can't even use the damn account. I called many times there. No one ever picked up. I went there in person. Waited for two hours just to be told that what I need will most probably be available to us in about 2 years time. I was like WTF? I signed this paper just because of that...I asked to speak with the bank manager but he did not answer my questions either. Is this legal?

Often I just see some kind of shady things like this and I really wonder how come it is possible to do something like this.

Seriously I really feel offended. Shouldn't we be allowed to decide deliberately without being forced into something? Misinformation should be illegal...-_-. I really wonder where this world is going...

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Interview with legendary Slovak Magic pro player Matej Zatlkaj

Matej known also as Big Z is a professional Magic player and commentator. He decided to retire from the competitive scene though and PT Sydney will be probably his last PT. I decided to bring you this article to honor him.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

MKM Series Frankfurt Legacy - A Shardless BUG Adventure

After my latest Shardless Vision article I wanted to bring you a report from a big Legacy tournament. MKM Series in Frankfurt allowed me to participate in such event. So here it is.

Monday, May 16, 2016

MKM Series Frankfurt - Vintage Main Event report

note: this report is more about my impressions than actual description of the games.

Since I have my birthday in May I decided to celebrate it with a trip to Frankfurt to participate in Vintage and Legacy events of the MKM Series in Frankfurt.

When Lodestone Golem got restricted though I started to get doubts about the Vintage events. I was fairly sure I could do well in Shops environment but not in Eldrazi/Mentor one. For that reason I started playing with Blue Moon and tried to figure out how to beat all those Mentor decks and Eldrazi. This deck has way better match up and it is actually fun to play. I prepared both decks, filled in decklists for both decks and took them with me. For Legacy I started playing with Shardless BUG before the B&R changes and I decided to stick with it. I went 4-1, 4-1, 5-0 and 3-4 in few tournaments to see if I can play the deck at tournament level. The last tournament I played started in the evening and when midnight hit I couldn't play with the deck at all. That made me fear that the same would happen at MKM Series so I tried to sleep, eat and drink well so this wouldn't happen and I could survive those 7-10 rounds and still be able to concentrate.

Zuzy is the one who made the trip possible for me, I did not need to do a single thing except showing up so we could go (and pay obviously, still have to do that^^). At 7am we were supposed to leave Prague but Zuzy called me that he would have about 20 minutes delay. Matous came soon after the call so we talked a bit about Vintage and some cards while waiting for Zuzy. At 7:32 we left for Frankfurt.

We arrived at 12:12 to the site. Near the entrance I was welcomed by Oddseidank and found out that the site was closed till that very moment we arrived. I went inside to see how the event is organized and if I need to do something in order to be enrolled in the tournament. I preregistered which was supposed to mean that I did not need to do anything. Nonetheless I wasn't enrolled. Few more problems arose but everything was solved soon by the head judge and the TO (I did not receive any Monk tokens for my preregistrations though).

I did not manage to eat something since we arrived rather 'late' than early even though the late opening of the site is to blame so I was a bit upset but I knew that Vintage games don't usually take long unless I would play against Mentor. We set down distributed cards so all players had what they needed and some of the players started scribbling their decklists. I looked around what people were playing, saw shops everywhere so I found my URw Delver deck in my backpack.

I made few changes to the decklist prior the tournament. I cut 1 Flusterstorm, added Pyroblast to main deck so I got a slot in the SB where I put a third Sudden Shock.

There were 57 players in the Vintage main event so we played 6 rounds and top 8. There was actually rather high number of budget decks and the metagame was diverse. The most played deck was Mentor but was followed by Shops. Only 1 Mentor deck made it to the top 8 and I did not really see any Shops deck anywhere near me.

In round 1 I was paired against a Dredge player. Unfortunately this player did not know how to play his deck so after pondering about what should I do about it (since he had no idea how to play that, or seemed so). I stopped him thus (a bit late) and asked him to explain his plays so I would figure out what he knows and what not. I tried to explain to him how the deck works then so he would at least know what the deck could possibly do. I'm not entirely sure if any of the information was understood. In 30 minutes he wasn't reading every single card but seemed clueless nonetheless. I'm not sure how the tournament continued for him but I hope that everything ended well. I wasn't really sure what the judges would do with player in the following rounds.

In round 2 I moved to table 3 and faced Mentor. Next to me I noticed Julian Nazarenus play Delver and that made me smile. On the other side though was a Doomsday player obviously since his hand contained Underground Sea, Tropical Island, Duress, Laboratory Maniac and some cards I couldn't see.

My opponent started with Sensei's Divining Top. Since my hand was rather bad but had Force of Will I decided to counter it. My FoW was FoW'ed after a little bit of thinking on my opponent's side. Next I played Delver and passed. My opponent played few cantrips and used the Top but otherwise did not play a threat. My Delver did not flip but showed me another Delver after a while. Moxen, lands and Delver obviously do not flip Delver. Then my opponent seemed rather content with his top 3 cards. He played Cavern of Souls (or some other utility land), played Mentor and passed. I thought that it is the right time for me to flip the Delvers and I also desperately needed to find a removal for Mentor (if the Delvers would still decide to be 1/1s). Sudden Shock was on the top of my library though ruining my opponent's game. I played it, killed Mentor and then just attacked with Delvers twice.

In the following game I played a creature early. My opponent was afraid of the creature killing him so at the end of my turns he played Gush that slowed him down and I wanted to use that advantage it provided it me. I decided to put more pressure on him, counter his cantrips/Gush/Treasure Cruise and even Bolt him. He put up a little bit resistance but I already had enough burn spells to win the game so I did not really care about Mentor and his Monks (and my creatures not being able to deal damage).

The match did not take long so I was looking forward to some free time so I could refresh myself but I heard a judge calling me to the judge station. I went there and was asked to present my deck if I do not play with proxies. After the Power was checked and both the player who came to the judge with a question if proxies are allowed and the judge himself apologized several times for this interruption I went outside to find a spot where I could chill out for a bit. I managed to talk to some players and then it was time to go back for round 3.

Round 3 was the toughest match I played that day. I lost the first game in which I couldn't get through Thalia, Vryn Wingmare and in the end Aven Mindcensor dealing the remaining damage. It was my opponent top decking luckily this time. I needed to win the second game thus. I put in Sudden Shock, Mountain, Containment Priests and Wear//Tear after some time of thinking if it Wear//Tear is a good card against White Trash. My opponent did not have creatures at first but played 2 Ghostly Prisons I couldn't deal with them nor pay for them. So my creatures were just staring at my opponent and later stared at his creatures. I had 2 Insectile Aberrations, Young Pyromancer, Elemental and Containment Priest in my hand. I knew that no creature would deal damage to me but I had to deal with my opponent's creatures. My opponent started to play his creatures - Leonin Arbiter, Leonin Relic-Warder, Spirit of the Labyrinth, Vryn's Wingmare and Aven Mindcensor. My opponent attacked with the flyers into my Delvers so I blocked that. He also exiled one of my creatures 'on the ground'. I tried to look for a land but there were 4 nonland cards. I shuffled my library and then I was awarded with a flood of land. I played a land each turn and later started attacking with my creatures. We traded few of them and then I was waiting for Delver to show up since my 1/1s were good only at staring at my opponent's 2/2s (still meaning my opponent couldn't attack). The Delver won the game later. It was a very long game and I did not expect to win it. In game 3 my opponent did not play creatures till turn 4 which gave me some time to find some of my own. I had Priest in my opener though so I flashed it in and dealt few damage with it. Then it was once again a staring contest. We both played creatures. I tried to deal with some of his and let him look for 2 plains cards in the process. I started to have more creatures in play so I could either kill Spirit of the Labyrinth that I wanted to kill few turns earlier (since I also had Dack Fayden and really wanted to use the card so badly) or deal with Ghostly Prison meaning I could swing with everything. I decided in the end that destroying Prison was a better choice even though I was 100 percent sure that having Dack in play and having less creatures to attack would win the game as well but it would take longer and we did not have time for that. Later my creatures breached the wall of white creatures and I won.

After this match I really wanted to play against something I did not need to think so hard against. I was paired against Phillip Homman. I kept a hand with Stony Silence, Ancestral Recall and Ponder hoping that I wouldn't die before my turn even started. My opponent started with few Moxen, Crypt, Mana Vault (other cards) and Tezzeret fetching Time Vault. He had only one card left in his hand so I was sure my Stone Silence wouldn't get countered with FoW. I played, it resolved. I had some time to deal with Tezzeret before his ultimate ability would kill me. I tried to looking for a Bolt so I could kill it before it would do more harm. I managed to burn the planeswalker and then we stared at each other for quite some time. My opponent obviously did not draw anything that could help him and I had no creatures. But few turns later I finally drew Young Pyromancer and had more or less anything and won. In the second game I sided in some artifact removal and Pyroblast and wondered how the game would go. My Delver bait was countered and later on my opponent really missed the Misstep. I won by a chain of restricted cards having Pyromancer in play. After this match I thought that I played against a regular Tezzerator deck but being able to see it in the top 8 I realized that it was far from it. It was more old school highlander deck. (decklist can be found here.)

In the following games I realized how strange one-of cards can turn the game in someone's favor. We played a mirror match. Those games are usually about who manages to get more aggressive. My opponent though had Misdirection in his deck which could ruin the math pretty badly. On the other hand I had more removal main deck then my opponent so it was actually me who was favored. My Delvers stayed in play and managed to deal lethal damage sooner than my opponent's ones. In game two I kept Sudden Shocks in my hand and decided to put pressure on my opponent and then burn the Delvers. My plan would have worked if my opponent wouldn't have two Lightning Bolts in his hand obviously having the same line of thought (my problem would be solved if I could have fetched earlier in the game or played a mox or regular land) so I could Bolt him in response. In the last game I was wondering if I should destroy one of his lands (Volcanic Island) so nothing bad would happen to me (like being Bolted or that I would have to face Pyromancer while my opponent would have still mana for another spell). I decided not to use Strip Mine so I was punished for it. I could witness the most cool play during the whole tournament - my opponent tapped his three islands and played Temporal Trespass.

While checking my planeswalker points to know against whom I played I found out that someone entered a loss and I don't know who to blame for this. I did not lose this match and I'm very sad that it end up like this. I lost a single match and that was in the top 8 not the Swiss part.

In top 8 I was supposed to play against Eldrazi, Doomsday or Delver. I certainly did not want to play against either of those. I was seeded against Eldrazi player but not the budget colorless version that I was supposed to play against but rather a bit more white version. My opponent mulled to five keeping Eldrazi Temple, Cavern of Souls, Eldrazi Displacer, Chalice of the Void, and Thorn of Amethyst. I kept Volcanic Island, Ancestral Recall, Gitaxian Probe, Force of Will - I couldn't ask for more. I countered Chalice of the Void because I had no way of dealing with it game 1 and I really needed to play Ancestral Recall and my Path to Exiles/Lightning Bolt. I exiled Displacer and then managed to draw bunch of cards. I played Jace so I could flip it and play Path to Exile next turn on a creature my opponent would play. Unfortunately the creature that joined Eldrazi Mimic already in play was Reality Smasher. I tried to counter it but did not realize that it was cast using Cavern of Souls and lost two cards because it. My Telepath Unbound died to Smasher attack. I destroyed the Smasher with Sudden Shock, Lightning Bolt discarding Flusterstorm and Tundra keeping only Preordain in my hand. I drew Delver and Pyromancer but then my draws were Tundra, Volcanic Island, Mental Misstep, Mental Misstep and I lost. Game two was unwinnable right from the beginning. Eldrazi Mimic on t2 was better than facing TKS on t2 but it was followed by Reality Smasher on t3 hitting me for 10. On turn 4 I faced TKS wanting to concede but waited one more turn to see if my opponent still has some creatures^_^. EOT Containment Priest, main phase Eldrazi Displacer was an overkill. I waited for my opponent to tap his mana and target my creature with Displacer and scooped.

I felt terrible for a while but then the feeling subsided and I remembered all the good things that happened during the tournament and outside of it and how fun it was. I met cool people, talked to the ones I already knew, had lots of fun in general and met a really inspiring judge - Saverio Adamo.

I collected my modest prize and we all left for the hotel to chill out and sleep (and prepare for Legacy the following day - I just swapped some English cards for Japanese ones^_^).

The feeling of happiness I had at that time is now overwhelmed a bit by the fact that someone (my opponent or scorekeeper) submitted/entered a wrong result. It felt good to be undefeated in the swiss part but the history says otherwise *sad*.

After the tournament we left for the hotel, talked a bit, played more Magic if cheating Emrakul in play can be considered 'playing' (or Fireballing someone for 20) and then we went to sleep.

EDIT: Since I expected to write reports from the following events (I already finished Legacy event report) but I don't feel like making them public, I'd like to thank Zuzy for making this trip possible for me. I'd like to thank all the other people I talked to, had fun with, my opponents, great judges and the TO. This was the best weekend I experienced in those past few years that I tried to pretend a normal life and believed that something like 'love' exists. My relationships left me in a situation that does not really allow me to travel much. My life's been a mess for the past few years and it will probably still be but events like this give me energy to go on and give me something to look forward to. So I hope to see you all at another eternal event I might attend. We have Legacy GP in a bit so I hope to see you there! Thank you for your support and kindness. Paper Magic is not lost to me yet.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

PureMTGO - URx Delver

I was asked by some people to write about Delver. I thought that it is a silly idea but I did that nonetheless. If interested in what I wrote, check my latest PureMTGO article about URx Delver.

Custom token - Elemental

I finished a painting of an elemental so I could use it for a custom token for my Young Pyromancer. The token version can be found at S'Tsung Alters blog

Friday, May 6, 2016

Mentor - new negative player experience?

In the last Power Nine Challenge almost 48% of the metagame was Gush decks out of which about 45% were Mentor decks. Shops deck was around 5% of the metagame.

In the previous Dailies I played I noticed that what seemed to be half of the players were on Mentor and I started to wonder how to attack this deck archetype. I wasn't the only one doing that. I knew that the best approach would be to change a deck, but changing a deck for me is more problematic than for other players since I don't have much experience with other decks.

I was capable to usually win against Mentor players though so I only added Sudden Shocks, Pyroblasts and Flusterstorm in my deck. But this does not seem to be enough since my matchup with Mentor is not that good (from Delver perspective).

So far players are trying to beat Mentor with the decks they originally played but don't know how to fight efficiently against this deck or they simply switch to Mentor because if you can't fight it, it's better to join it. While some players adapted to Mentor meta it also hit my deck since there was quite some hate against white creatures/blue creatures and cards to hamper the blue draw engine that I also use. This meant another reason to switch decks.

Some people started playing cards like Illness in the Ranks, Dread of Night and Virulent Plague and I was witness to some not very nice situations in which some Vintage players were telling other players that they are stupid for playing such cards because they don't do anything against Mentor. They are right about these cards not being able to stop the deck itself but I was very surprised about the lack of respect. I thought that the Vintage community is supposedly the most welcoming one but after this experience I don't want to be part of it. Anyway some of these sideboard cards can possible stop Mentor tokens but the cards will still keep Mentor in play. That alone is a problem. Have you ever been beaten by a single Monk? No? I was. Many times and that is the sole reason I wouldn't want to run such cards. I won't be telling anyone not to play those cards though. If they work for you and you have a plan how to beat the deck just do it. On the other hand if someone is on some Dragonlord Mentor you need to deal with that as well. And Mentor decks can go through their whole deck in a single game.

Against such decks I usually side in Containment Priests and with the help of a red 2/1 and Insectile Abberation I try to deal those 20 damage. In such environment Containment Priest even though being a white creature shone. It was the MVP of the deck for some reason.

Containment Priest though does not really help much against Mentor. The proper way how to fight Mentor is to attack its draw engine or just go past it. Being better at drawing cards is rather difficult so there has to be another way how to do so. So you either are faster (thus being the aggressor) or do something BIG (Oath). You could also go with MUD deck with all the Sphere effects in the world (Uba Mask comes to mind, that's a card I seriously hated) or hatebears. Hell, any deck running Erayo can possibly work (and Meddling Mage does not seem bad either)! Till the last P9C I was full of hope that the field would change for the tournament since I enjoyed all those players' brews I encountered. But then going through the tournament was a pain. Few people wrote to me that they did not participate due to expecting many Mentor decks. I playing against 5 Gush decks could understand. When I saw the results and saw that almost half of the meta was on Mentor I became scared. What happened? Some players stopped playing Vintage just to wait this period out and some decided to switch to Mentor to have a chance. But where were all those cool decks I saw prior to P9C? Even playing against a whole field of Vintage Collected Company seemed better than this...

I do not like Mentor meta but since the deck in general does not really fare that well I expect this to subside soon. What I fear though is that there will be more creature based strategies in Vintage since many players are trying them. That is something I really don't want to see. I started playing Vintage so I could avoid never ending stream of creatures. I expected Affinity and Hatebears at the tournament but no, it was a Gushfest (and clickfest since we all had to target several Flusterstorm copies per game).

Playing Mentor mirror is really horrible. Any mirror is, but this one twice as much. After playing against Mentor after Mentor the card I actually came to hate was Gush and Time Walk. I understand that Time Walk is a restricted card but still this (apart from Gush) was the card that was winning the games. It was infuriating.

I'm not fond of Mentor mirrors or Delver vs Mentor matchup so for a while now I'm trying to figure out how to play a certain build of Blue Moon instead. Because I need to play a deck that I enjoy (matchups). And so far I have to say that I like the deck. And playing against Mentor with Blue Moon is not such a nightmare! Since many people are brewing or trying different kind of decks this deck has better chances against such decks - it has more possibilities.

Blood Moon is a card that actually hits Mentor hard as well. But it is not an auto-win either. It certainly is nice to see your opponents play Gush for 5 mana and not be able to chain spells. It also makes it very difficult to cast Mentor. There is still Mox Pearl, Black Lotus and sometimes Lotus Petal in their deck. It happened to me that after my Blood Moon resolved I saw my opponent top deck Black Lotus, play Mentor and win the game in the following few turns because I was unable to find Chandra, Rolling Earthquake, Engineered Explosives or Sudden Shock. Rolling Earthquake is a nice addition. Not only it can kill all creatures in play but can also hit an annoying planeswalker.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Limited post-ORI

note: this post does not give any insight or information about post-ORI limited. This post is about a thought that passed my mind when BFZ was released and what I did in order to find my answer.

A long time ago I used to be good in limited. That 'good' came from me being able to evaluate cards based on their power and put them in the right deck. Other players had more difficulties with this and I was capable to win games only by having cards I knew how to put to a good use. Later, while being the world of internet, I found out that many people draft based on some pro players draft pick list and such decks are more difficult for me to beat especially if I don't have much experience with the set (I don't draft much in general). It upset me highly that players that were way worse players and deck builders than me could win a draft without even knowing what some of the cards in the deck were doing or what for they were actually in the deck.

In constructed this is happening as well and can be seen way more. The pro scene is affecting tournament play around the world. There is not enough time to brew and it is very difficult to come up with something fast while doing this alone. Even though I've been doing this for a very long time alone and came up with good decks it did not matter at all. All I had was a deeper understanding of the power of cards. But those players net decking just copied the deck and played with it a lot. This way they learned how to play the deck and did not really need much of that 'understanding'. I'm still better at solving situations that are strange or winning a game that took a really bad turn but I'm not better at playing technically better. The same goes for limited.

So in the past months I tried to do a little experiment. I'm interested in what other people draft so I drafted according to some of those people (since I'm still too lazy to read articles or watch others draft on their streams and what not). Since I know how they play normally I could understand why the pick this or that. I was able to see what they wanted draft and play. None of those play styles though corresponds mine so it was difficult for me to pilot their drafted decks but I could see that those decks simply worked. I wasn't just a worthy pilot and managed to screw up often still often ending with 2:1 or 3:0 record.

One of those players is a former pro player known for being very good limited player. He is a good player for sure but since Origins I just can't agree with his reasoning or card evaluations and I decided to ignore his evaluations. Pre-ORI our pick order and card evaluation aligned more or less. Since I could compare the way how I draft and how others draft I came to some conclusions. I'm more prone to switching to a color. I also give preference to cards that give more options but are worse than a certain card in the pack in the same color. I often draft more for integrity than power of individual cards. That is also the reason why I don't usually fare well with decks build around a broken rare. If I would omit these our pick order and evaluation of cards would have been more or less the same. Post-ORI it changed though nad by a lot.

At BFZ prerelease my pool was really strange. I stared at it for the whole deckbuilding time limit which has never happened to me. In the end I sleeved a 4c Eldrazi. Being four color I was capable to have creatures with evasion, a little bit of synergy among Eldrazi and have access to few tricks (red/blue). I lost my first round being totally lost in my deck. One of the players told me to play BG only and he put the deck together. The deck was incapable of winning though and really lacked the little bit of removal I had. In any other format the BG deck would actually be fine as it seemed to have a curve and strong creatures. But this deck died to single 1/4 Kozilek's Sentinel (I had no way to go past it) and if by a chance someone played some processors I was doomed. So I switched back to my 4c deck no matter how crazy it seemed. It was actually better as it gave me more possibilities and an actual win condition. Its mana base was really bad so I was depending on luck way more than I would like. But I'd rather try that than having a deck that can't win.

My next sealed deck was full of allies. But they had similar problems like the BG deck from the previous sealed deck. They could be stopped rather easily. I added black for 3 cards after seeing that Boros is not enough - 2x Kalastria Healer, Drana's Emissary. After the first lost I won all the following rounds. The cards that allowed me to win were the black cards. Without them I would probably go 0:5.

After few sealed decks and drafts I realized that what I like are Grixis builds and what does not seem to work is anything green. Even though I managed to win with few Naya ally decks the green color was the worst of those colors. The UBr decks were though to pick though and were killing very slowly. It was fun though and it could win by dealing a damage per turn. White/Black seemed solid and BR Eldrazi aggro was also something I often ended up in (when blue seemed to disappear).

During the prerelease and release events I asked some players about what they think and what decks they would create out of my pools (the very first one and one I opened later - I'll try to find screenshots of that if I still have them). I got a very wide range of answers and decks but the only deck that seemed viable from my pool was a pure RG beatdown as I simply did not have enough cards to support any other archetype. The players that I think are better players in general also said that RG beatdown was the way to go. After talking to others why I think their idea wouldn't work (I actually tested all of those decks online and paper to see how it works in practice. The deck with most wins was the RG beatdown - tested against aggro, some kind of good stuff and control) they also came to the conclusion that maybe it is not the best idea to play what they thought could have worked.

Anyway there were cards that we couldn't really agree on their power and that is something that I wanted to figure out. Since the group of players I asked (different players in styles but rather all good limited players) was rather skilled one I was wondered why their opinions sometimes differ so much.

While all of us can pretty much agree that Gideon and Quarantine Field are good cards and that the best common is Eldrazi Skyspawner other cases weren't that clear. For example our views on certain cards differed. For example Angel of Renewal and Ghostly Sentinel were deemed very bad and low picks by many including the former pro. I'm not a good drafter in sense of picking the right cards at the right time but I usually am good at figuring out which cards I want for a deck (even though post-ORI I'm not sure even about that). For me Angel of Renewal and Ghostly Sentinel seemed solid at first glance. Remember Shepherd of the Lost or Shattered Angel? These cards killed many of my opponents and I figured that something similar might be strong. I had to wait to find out but I wasn't ready to ignore those cards. In Battle for Zendikar the Flying ability has way more importance than in other sets. A high CMC creature might be a problem but if it gives you life when it comes into play it because good. 6 mana may be a lot but well there are other cards that people, cost million mana (6+) and are considered good. Why not this card? The life swing can be pretty important and 4/4 Flyer is big and opponents won't be super happy to bounce the creature. Ghostly Sentinel might not give you life but it flies, is rather big for other flyers and has Vigilance (the players opposing me though were also players that marked Emeria Shepherd as a good card). These two cards were the main reason for some clashes. I also said that the white Retreat is very good but people ignored me. I'm not LSV obviously^_^.

What I personally had no idea how to evaluate are the big eldrazi and utility lands. I underrated the lands for sure and I agreed that they can be good. But for the Eldrazi? If playing a deck that actually has a curve and some good creatures why would I want to play a 7/8 for 7 mana? Many tried to convince me that even non-eldrazi "non-control" decks were a good place for such cards. But seriously I don't see that as a good idea ... and my opinion hasn't changed even months later.

Since the BFZ prerelease I decided to follow my own reasoning rather and if that would lead me to losing everything I have on modo then be it. BFZ was not a set I was a friend with. I won several release events and drafts but I knew that a week or two later things would change and I would be rather the one losing the first round and getting no prizes. I was sure that I don't understand the set but on the other hand I was sure that my evaluation of deck types and power of cards was right from the beginning. I just had no idea how to manage to draft those archetypes. After a very strong exchange of opinions on Mist Intruder (I was defending the card, because based on my experience this card played a big role in getting something 'ingested' and the fact that it flies was rather important as well) in a dedicated Ingest deck I stopped talking to anyone and just watched how what my opponents drafted works. I also loved animating my lands and card like Grip of Desolation seemed overpowered to me. It took some time for others to see that as well. But that was due to me overdrafting cards with Awaken.

I was picking Mist Intruder quite high when running UBr Ingest. Sludge Crawler is a card I would first pick and I called this card a constructed playable if the archetype would actually work (I build such deck and this card was one of the best, the deck was bad as expected though).

Anyway my limited records were worst than most of the other players so I was wondering if I really should reevaluate the cards. One of the players that I saw draft and play was my flat mate. He is not a competitive player - he does not attend tournaments and such - but for me he is a good player. He is a total opposite of me - playing intuitively, building primarily aggressive decks and staxx decks and being actually good limited player. While I was better at drafting pre-Origins sets this could not be said for post-ORI sets. I gave him some packs and let him draft. Even though his first decks were mostly Ally strategy decks I could see later that he picked and played cards others often disregarded. He was also the one who would pick Ghostly Sentinel pretty high and say that those angels were really good. For me his draft picks seemed totally random (not counting picks like Gideon on first pick) but in the end he managed to assemble something that resembled a deck way more than my decks.

I obviously misbuilt my deck^_^ Did I put Plains in the deck? (main color).

When OGW came out we played some BFZ/OGW. I was opening one crappy pool after another one and had really difficulties with building a deck. I asked players around if that pool is really difficult or I'm a total loser in this set. Since all the players agreed that the pools were really bad and many had no idea what to with them I came the conclusion that maybe I'm not lost yet. When my flatmate finally also managed to open a pool that was not full of Thought-Know Seers and Reality Smashers I was really interested what he would build out of it. It was a 4c deck with Blue/Green being the main color. The deck actually worked even though it was way weaker. I stared at the pool for like half an hour coming to the conclusion that I would go 4c. But I did not want to. Something was holding me back because I felt that there had to be a way how to make the deck work. I did not managed that but he did and many other players do as well and that is when I realized that I should rate all the lands higher no matter what they do (Crumbling Vestige was my number one friend but I did not want to play cards like Fertile Thicket.

I also asked him at the release how my deck should look like. Staring at my timer I did not really feel like being the best person to put my deck together. I knew that anything running red with Chandra would kill most opponents but I had no idea what combination was the best. After trying all but one (that we both agreed was unplayable) the deck was born. I stared at the cards not knowing what to think about them. I looked at the cards individually and wasn't sure what they would be doing while being together in a deck. My flatmate though saw that pretty clearly.

The last debate we had with the player that has different opinions than me nowadays while being far better player than me was about discard. Card like 'Discard two cards' weren't usually doing well in earlier sets. But in BFZ those were cards I had no problem main decking. This was one of the ways how to get rid of the annoying eldrazi or Grip of Desolation. It worked wonders. But the player in question disagreed with me. I won't be telling anyone what is good and what not since I do not consider myself good enough for doing that and who would actually listen? But on the other hand even from watching other players draft and play it seemed I wasn't that far from truth.

When OGW was out it seemed to me that this set would make the drafts more readable and more simpler for me. It seemed to me that the metagame would be faster and more aggro oriented. WB combination seemed as the best archetype and that is what I tried to be into. But others had the same impression obviously. So I ended up in other colors often trying to still be in that blue/black I liked before. Blue seemed pretty difficult to draft though too. But it contains very solid cards and killing someone with 3/4 flyer seemed as a good plan.

For some reason I still had problems convincing some players that 2/4 Flyer for 4 mana is not a bad card even in a faster format. Even though our opinions did not differ that much in OGW it was clear that something changed in the Magic limited universe. Since we all play Magic the same way and draft the same way it had to be some change in the design of those two sets.

I ignored BFZ/OGW pretty much later on and waited for SOI to see if the set would be similarly 'strange'. I did not expect to play it much since I expected that the set would be a total stranger for me and I don't have the money to learn the format. SOI came and I was hooked though. When I saw what my opponents played I was in awe! I kind of felt like playing Vintage while playing the first sealed deck. UR Investigate control, Seasons Past BG control were simply awesome decks. SOI showed me that there are so many things possible to do, a lot of complexity, very nice and strong enchantments and decks that don't need to be a beatdown to actually win the game. The set is not that straining as BFZ was where each 1 damage really counted. It was fresh, new and well designed. What I saw, I liked.

When talking about some of the cards though the opinions differed strongly as well. I understood that our opinions differ a lot based on what decks we would like to draft and I understood that. Suggesting some things like that Fork in the Road and Stoic Builder might not be a bad combination weren't really well accepted though. I put those cards in a good use actually. The same could be said about Uncaged Fury. While looking at the card I thought about Temur Battle Rage. It is a card I wanted to include in a standard pauper deck and for that reason alone it seemed clear to me that this card won't be bad in limited environment. Similarly Heir of Falkenrath seemed as a very strong creature to me. One I would never pass. But that is a card we all agreed that is good.

After some other debate about Moldgraf Scavenger (whether the card is good or not) I came to understand what some players are missing while still being way better players than me. I remembered another player and dear friend of mine. He is a good player but his deckbuilding skills are rather lacking. Give him a good deck and he will win most matches. Let him build a deck and he will lose half of them. What he lacks and I found rather strange is some kind of insight into mechanics of a certain set. Some of the players I talked about limited don't have this insight as well and are very reluctant to dig deep and enjoy the set. They understand power/toughness/cmc well, can evaluate a card while being taken out of a context but they do not really see all the synergies and possibilities the card offers. They also often ignore the environment in which the card is to be played. I noticed this in constructed. People tend to think that if a card was good once it will be good once again. But this may not be true since the field can be completely different. Now this shows a lot in limited as well. This suggests that the complexity is way higher and that there are many more ways one can go and that pure cold logic based on 'value' does not always bring the best results. I find this really cool and I'm very grateful for this. The designers came with something more complex and enjoyable than I would have thought possible. But some players are too blind to see it and some players are not that good to enjoy it that much (me...).

Thank you for reading and hope you keep opening strong cards and 'money' in your packs^_~.

Sunset doodle

Sometimes my mood is really bad and sometimes during those times I just mindlessly paint or draw. This is one of such paintings.