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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