Saturday, February 27, 2016

Black Lotus Custom Playmat

It did not turn out the way I wanted so next time I should pay more attention to what my hand is drawing...

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Legacy - Grixis Delver

Another Prague Eternal is soon to happen (second weekend in March). I'd like to participate in the Vintage Main Event and Legacy Main Event. Since I've played quite some Vintage in the past months it was time to figure out what I wanted to play at the Legacy Main Event. I'll be playing URw Delver in Vintage for sure. I did not plan to play Delver in Legacy though.

At first I wanted to play Miracles but that would require me to actually play with it a lot a get used to it so I would still be able to play the deck after round 5. I tried thus. Any match past round 4 I started totally screwing up so I decided for something more simple. Before doing so though I decided to import Deathblade list into Magic Online and play with that for some time and see if it would tire me the same way Miracles did. I have to say that it was a nice change but it was still very exhausting. The deck is fun but after my last GP experience going 0-0-5 and then winning and losing few matches I decided to play Delver. Since Prague Eternal is exactly on the wrong date for me, I won't be most probably in a good shape to play Magic so choosing something familiar and relatively easy to play will be the best choice.

Delver comes in many variants. There used to be RUG and BUG Treshold decks but UR Delver was a deck for a while as well when Treasure Cruise was around. Later more colors were added to UR Delver, Grixis and 4c Delver decks were born. Patriot aggro was popular too and some players still play the deck even nowadays. Which of the variants is the best one? I was sure that I did not want to play the UWR variant. I started with UR Delver to see if by a chance it has some kind of advantage compared to those more colored decks. The biggest advantage are cards like Price of Progress and Blood Moon in the sideboard. This deck lost a lot when Treasure Cruise was banned so I wasn't sure if the deck could perform that well again. In Oath to Gatewatch Stormchaser Mage was printed which is a nice addition to the deck or replacement for Goblin Guide. After my first match I realized that I miss Deathrite Shaman too much though so I said 'no' to this deck pretty soon. Delver decks are very dependent on Delver flipping and that is why I'd rather have other creature to help me win the game. When Stormchaser Mage wasn't around UR Delver could play Monastery Swiftspear and Goblin Guide. Those creatures are fine but still Goblin Guide felt a bit lacking some power in this deck. The UR build is fast and has thus very different match ups (compared to the 3 and 4 colored variants) but I don't really feel like having the game under control. Deathrite Shaman gives many options and helps the game a lot and I'd rather see a DRS lock on the table rather than feel completely helpless after my few creatures were wiped.

So I stared at all the Delver lists I created during 2015. When looking at the lists I realized that my perspective has changed. I'm not sure if that is a good thing or not but I approach the decks in a different way. The most notable change was that I look at the sideboard with way more importance and I'm willing to sideboard in a way that is rather strange actually. I was looking at my post-Dig-ban decklist with Tarmogoyfs and Gurmag Angler and just couldn't understand how I could actually play that even though the deck performed actually pretty well. Next decklist contained two Snapcaster Mages and not much of disruption. Next decklist was totally ultra greedy good stuff featuring 1 Liliana of the Veil, Snapcaster Mage, Tarmogoyfs and even 1 True-Name Nemesis. I just couldn't stare at it. So I created a copy of one of the decks and decided to make it look 'normal' to my eyes nowadays - that is make it look more like it looked before the banning of Dig Through Time. But first it was time to give a BUG Delver a try because I wanted to know if cutting a color would help the deck or not.

So after discarding the idea of UR Delver I created a BUG Delver list for which I needed to buy few Underground Seas. When staring at the decklist there was something missing in it though from my point of view (something that would make the deck stand out or be great). I did not need to decide whether to play Goyf or not because I simply didn't have a choice but I was wondering if I couldn't possibly run Dark Confidant. In the end I rather decided for True-Name Nemesis and Gurmag Angler to help Delver (I tried just TNN at first but it showed to be too expensive...what an irony...that one would rather play a 7 cmc card^_^) but wondered if by a chance Tombstalker wouldn't be a better choice since that won't be blocked by Gurmag Angler. I'm not a fan of discard in this deck (because I used to play this for a while few years ago?) but Stifle wasn't a card that I wanted to include either. I settled with Disfigure, Spell Pierce and Hymn to Tourach that soon was to be replaced with Stifle. The good thing about the deck is that it can play 4 Abrupt Decay and it can play discard spells easily. It can also sideboard in Golgari Charms that I really like. The downside of the deck is that it does not have Lightning Bolt and I've lost too many games because of that. But still decided to give it a try. What I found out is that while playing this deck I need to be way more aggressive than I would like to (read I need to be way more proactive than I want to be and can't just sit back and wait for a miracle). I also found that Bayou is not a good idea and that I should rather play four Seas or fetch more carefully.

On Stifle

Since RUG Delver is a deck I hated since the first time I played against it I did not even consider trying it. It is fast tempo deck that just lands a creature and then disrupts the game. Not much of a late game usually and certainly does not suit my playstyle at all. And the reason why I would not pick this up is also because I do not want to play any mirror match with this deck. But with BUG or 4c Delver I'm totally fine with it. One of the reasons is also that this deck would run 4 Stifles and as you probably know I do not like that card.

So why I make such a big deal about Stifle? I already noted somewhere in this post that RUG Delver is THE tempo out of those Delver lists. It needs inexpensive creatures and then inexpensive disruption. After it plays its 1 mana threat or Tarmogoyf all it needs is one or two lands and disruption. This deck can sit on a Stifle all day (not really) but it keeps all its mana open for the disruption while the creature attacks. In BUG we have a different story. The deck is slower and more 'midrangy'. It is way more proactive thus and needs to tap out and this is something that does not really go well with Stifle since I won't be able to play it. It seems to me that the deck (or me) just can't decide what end is the correct one - being tempo or midrange (all the decks are tempo, but I guess you know what I mean). Even though I gave up after playing a bit with the deck and put Stifle in I still don't like the card there. It is not the best place for it. Grixis Delver though is a deck that can find use for the card but I'm not sure if I should include it or not and in how many copies (it would be either 2 or 4 or none).

So what does Stifle do? It obviously counters opposing fetchlands and Wastelands but that is not something I really care about considering playing the card in Grixis/4c Delver. It also counters planeswalker abilities. Countering Liliana's ability is usually more impactful but using that against Jace can also win a game. If I don't have a removal for Stoneforge Mystic or a way how to deal with equipment in my opponent's hand it comes handy too since it can counter both Mystic's fetching abilities or equipment abilities (notably Batterskull one). All these uses are pretty straightforward. Some are not. For example Stifle can help against miracles (with lowercase m). Delver decks can deal a lot of damage and sometimes stopping a miracle once from happening can win the game. The same can be said about Emrakul's annihilator trigger. Delver decks don't usually have too many permanents in play so stifling this, blocking and then dealing lethal damage is a scenario that can actually happen. Now with all those Shardless BUG decks around...countering Ancestral Vision's play this card ability is something that can win the game too. Since those Shardless BUG decks usually need two of these to resolve before they can win. It can also help against Storm but I never used this card on Tendrils of Agony nor Empty the Warrens. I never got into the situation in which I would need to do that, but it does not mean that it can't happen. Getting rid of Flusterstorm copies with one card sounds fair too (but that's my obsession with Flusterstorm talking...)

Obviously Stifle has many uses and can comes handy at many strange situations. Stifle is not really a card known for being played because of its versatility though. It is more that people fear the card. Some people play around it even if one does not have it in his or her deck and some don't at all and those are caught unawares by Stifle similarly to me after I joined my first match of Legacy after few months. Its versatility and uncertain efficiency nor the fear of Stifle seems as a valid reason to play the card though. Stifle seems to actually perform pretty well against Shardless BUG and Miracles though and those are the most played decks nowadays (or at least from those being successful). Since these matchups are not the best playing Stifle might be the reason why it sees so much play. It makes the matchup way better against Shardless BUG and is not bad against other decks obviously since it can do a lot different things and when used well or at the right moment it can actually swing the game or by one necessary turn.

So after writing this down I feel like giving a Stifle a chance but first I need to experience playing with 4c Delver after I played with UR and then BUG Delver. The next card I wanted to try and evaluate (rather reevaluate) is Abrupt Decay. Since the deck runs 3 Volcanic Islands, 2 Underground Seas and 1 Tropical Island it is not that easy to play. I know the deck runs 4 Deathrite Shamans but those sometimes just can't provide the mana I need or won't be in play when I need the mana. That is the reason I do not play the card main deck and would like to see if it deserves a slot in the sideboard. Decay can deal with Counterbalance and Chalice of the Void and that is the main reason I still have them in the SB. But I wonder if by a chance a different card wouldn't help me in a similar way? Decay is the best Tarmogoyf removal there is but unfortunately decks running Tarmogoyf usually wreck my mana base. So I don't even side those against RUG Delver for example (mostly I side it against Miracles.)

Back to red

The next day after I spent most of the night thinking about these three decks I created a copy of the BUG list and added red. Because after those few days I just couldn't find a downside to NOT playing 4 colors even though I really tried hard while being objective (considering me as the pilot of the deck). The first thing I did was take out Tarmogoyfs finally and replaced them with Young Pyromancers. I don't like Tarmogoyf anyway and decided to give Young Pyromancer a second chance. This unfortunately means that I also had to take out Golgari Charms out of my sideboard. Next I cut Snapcaster Mages and Spell Pierces. I decided to keep only one Spell Pierce to see what it can do and put Cabal Therapies in the deck. I like this card very much and main decking it even for a GP was something I was gladly willing to do. If I'm clueless about what to name I can help it a bit since the deck runs 4 Probes now^_^ but that is not the reason why I run those Probes. The Probes help the deck to stay consistent and allow to keep worse hands. It also works well with Pyromancer and gives sometimes very important information but in non-Pyromancer builds I'd rather not play that card at all. It is a card I used to sideboard out most of the time.

Running red also gives access to good sideboard cards like Pyroblast, Sulfuric Vortex, Price of Progress (if I'm crazy enough to play it in 4c deck, but this card always performed too well so I always consider it nowadays - people don't expect a 4c deck to run Price of Progress which helps) and cards like Ancient Grudge. Those are cards that I know how to use in a better way than any BUG sideboard cards. Having access to Pyroblast and Red Elemental Blast helps a lot in matchups in which playing Force of Will really hurts. Pitching a spell to FoW is a big disadvantage and playing Pyroblast/REB instead helps a ton.

After staring at my lists for a while featuring 0 to 4 Wastelands I had to decide what the right number finally is (since I was siding out 1 Wasteland many times I was wondering if 4 is the right number, but I guess after playing Vintage for a while it totally makes sense). But after my initial experience with Stifle in every Delver deck I realized that 4 is the correct number. It is clear that higher number (4) of Wastelands for BUG and RUG is correct but I wasn't so sure about that in a four colored deck. It was time to try the deck in the tournament practice room before joining a newly started Legacy League and see how the deck would fare compared to the BUG and UR builds I tried before.

(begin rant) Equipped with 4c Delver with some experimental cards (Snapcaster Mage, True-Name Nemesis) I joined a first match. My opponent started with Island, Ancestral Vision, go. I had a stop in my upkeep so I clicked on it only to find myself in Clean Up Step. I was like WTH is going on!! I did not comment about that and just wondered what to discard...a land or Daze that won't most probably do much since I passed the turn already. Missing the first turn was the difference between me winning and losing the game. Magic Online really wanted to mess up with me! It removed my stops for some reason.

I put my stops where I wanted them and tried to win the match anyway. But I was crushed. After this I even went to watch the last match I played because I had no idea why stops on my turn just disappeared and I did not expect myself to accidentally click on the very spots where the stops were. After having a chat with WotC ORC (and almost getting banned for my outburst) I decided to continue in my quest for a deck for Prague Eternal. (end of rant)

Another match I played against mirror and even though I knew that Stifle is a card now I totally screwed up. My first fetchland got stifled, second one as well. Then my two following lands were Wasteland'ed and my very last land got stifled once again (Snapcaster Mage -> Stifle). I facepalmed myself and decided to take into account that something like Stifle exists in Legacy in the following games and matches. I decided to use some Wastelands to get rid of Stifles and fetch in moments my opponent couldn't play his Stifle. It worked and my little army of Elementals won the match. After this match I was 100% sure that running 4 Wastelands was the right choice so at least I got an answer to one thing. Not only because everyone playing 4 Wastelands but also because the number of Eldrazi decks I encountered. Those decks annoyed me with Chalice of the Void, Thorn of Amethyst and Crucible of Worlds. The players though weren't obviously sure how to play the deck so I managed to win all the matches but I very highly doubt that it would end the same if they knew what they were doing. I noted that Chalice of the Void is obviously not restricted in Legacy and added Ancient Grudge to my sideboard after this game (still wondering if 2 Abrupt Decay in my sideboard deserves its slot). Next I played few mirror matches again. I learned that staring at Young Pyromancer I cannot deal with is way more frustrating than facing Tarmogoyf (that I cannot deal with, but I can get past it with my Elementals).

So how my guinea pigs performed? In all the games I played True-Name Nemesis was way inferior to Gurmag Angler or Tarmogoyf. TNN is a great blocker but I need to win the game as well. Gurmag Angler can race TNN and that is something I did in few matches. Seeing that TNN wasn't really an issue I decided not to play it. Terminus deals with it, Golgari Charm as well, can be countered, edicted etc...I'd rather try defend 5/5 beater that can close the game in 4 turns if by a chance my opponent still has 20 life. As for Snapcaster Mage. That card most of the time played a role of a chump blocker and I couldn't even play the spell that got the flashback ability. Most of the time Snapcaster Mage was in my hand without me being able to play it (and benefit from it) or I even shuffled it back into the deck with Brainstorm/fetchland. I decided to cut the card too and just play 2 Anglers and one more counterspell or (Forked) Bolt.

After these games I got pretty screwed in the following three matches. Wastelands in my opened were bad so I had to mulligan each time and that cost me those games but still this won't make me regret playing 4 Wastelands. Round 1 I played against Miracles but since I did not even have creatures to attack with...I knew I had no chance. I sided in Sulfuric Vortex, more counterspells and Abrupt Decays but even that did not help since my first Miracles opponent was prepared for it. He surprised me though because he was playing 3 Vendilion Cliques and some Venser, Shaper Savants and Pyroblasts main deck. I did not expect that and lost to it even though I should have expected a bit more from the Karakas he played relatively early. After this I played against something I expected to be a MUD deck. It turned out to be a Cloudpost deck actually. I almost won the match but unfortunately I was one damage short (but with all those Glimmerposts it was actually quite surprising that I managed to get my opponent down to 1 life). Siding in Sulfuric Vortex, Null Rod did not really help. Next round I horribly died to a Lands deck. I actually had a chance to win but I needed one more Wasteland or Lightning Bolt. I played Delver and Angler but I needed some time to deal lethal damage. I countered first Life from the Loam, then used Wasteland to destroy Thespian's Stage twice in a row and then I needed some luck to draw a Lightning Bolt or Wasteland. My draw was neither of these cards so I scooped. Next game was not even a game and this match also made me want to keep Surgical Extractions in my sideboard. I hoped to win at least the following match not to end up TOO badly in this League. Playing Gitaxian Probe though showed me a hand that looked like hell: Ancient Tomb, Blood Moon, Chalice of the Void, Magus of the Moon, Moggcatcher, Mountain, Umezawa's Jitte. On the other hand I doubt that I will be facing such decks. Anyway I was determined to win and hoped that luck would bring me the cards I need.

My plan playing Delver turn 1 dissipated obviously as Chalice of the Void awaited me next turn. So I tried finding Daze or Force of Will to even be able to play the game. I found Daze so the game could go on, this time it was my turn to be lucky and I actually won the match. If interested you can watch it^_^.

My last round was against Miracles. I was already tired and incapable of concentrating and that showed. When my opponent played Cavern of Souls naming Human instead of Wizard as I expected he caught me a bit offguard (guess what followed Venser, Snappy and 'counterable' Clique^_^). When I could actually win the game I completely messed up but something similar happened on my opponent's end and my only possible win condition resolved (there were two Counterbalances in play with Sensei's Divining Top).

Shaman did not get plowed and I won a turn later^_^. The second game was similarly strange. My only creature was Grim Lavamancer. No other creatures showed up later. So I tried protecting it as much as I could and decided to kill my opponent with it. Jace, the Mind Sculptor came to mess with my plan so I had to replay the Lavamancer few times but my opponent's life total was so low that all I needed was to resolve a Lightning Bolt. Since I was such an idiot and did not manage to counter Wear//Tear hitting my Sulfuric Vortex and Pithing Needle I could back up my Bolt when it would decide to show up and it showed up and I won. The FoW was not even necessary (but I screwed up several times colossally that's certain).

Local Legacy event

The following day I decided not to play Legacy and played Vintage Dark Petition Storm and RUGb Delver instead. On Mondays though there is a local Legacy tournament in Najada and I decided to participate to see how I can concentrate after work with actual cards in my hand and people around. I grabbed my Vintage of the table, Shardless BUG and went to my binder to find cards like Sulfuric Vortex and Surgical Extraction so my sideboard wouldn't look like 4 Grafdigger's Cage, 2 Ancient Grudge, 2 Nature's Claim, 2 Pyroblast, 2 Flusterstorm, 1 Vendilion Clique, 2 Abrupt Decay.

I managed to arrive on time and I even had the time to assemble my deck before the tournament. I was one card short but couldn't figure out what card I was missing till I ended up in the finals facing Helm Storm. I realized that I forgot Pithing Needle.

Round 1 - Eldrazi
As usual my round one did not start well. I played against a player who usually plays BUG Delver so I was looking forward to that match. But my turn 1 Probe revealed an Eldrazi hand which scared me a bit. Instead playing Delver I rather had to discard Chalice of the Void and Thought-Knot Seer. My opponent messed up his second and third turn so I got the chance to Wasteland his Sol Lands, play Delver, flip it, and then counter any spell that he would play (I did not counter Chalice of the Void because that card was not doing anything already). In game two I terrible died because of my opponent's Chalice and Ratchet Bomb but game three I managed to win. I was more lucky than anything else though. Actually the fact that I already played against the deck on Magic Online helped a ton. I had more experience with the deck than its pilot and that is what won me those two games.

Round 2 - Grixis Delver
In round two I played against mirror more or less. My opponent plays a more aggressive version of Grixis Delver including Stifles and Price of Progress. This time I had in mind that Stifle exists so I played around it and it was the first card he ditched when playing FoW. I was the one who resolved Delver first and had thus nice advantage. Then it was about Anglers and the number of counterspells in our hands. In the following game I tried as I could to withstand an early Delver. My attempts at killing it weren't really successful and when I managed to produce few creatures I could not win the damage race. In this game I realized that I really need some card draw. In Vintage it is way easier to come back. Brainstorm leaped in value for me after this game^_^. In the final game I was certain I can win but it wasn't easy nonetheless. I was the one with more Deathrite Shamans even though I had to draw some fetchlands to be able to use them. This took so long that I thought that I would even lose the match because of it but then I top decked Underground Sea and was back in the game and won.

Round 3 - Nic Fit
Round 3 I played against Nic Fit and I wasn't particularly looking forward to that matchup because I don't usually win those. I was quite confident game one since I had 2 Cabal Therapies in my hand and Gitaxian Probe. I discarded Green Sun's Zenith, Liliana of the Veil first and then two other cards leaving only Garruk in my opponent's hand. I had Wastelands to keep him of mana for a while so I could deal enough damage to win the game. This plan worked and I won. In the second game I mulled to four and lost to Pernicious Deed. Game three I tried my best staying alive and trying to be aggressive. When I played Ponder just to see two lands and Daze and shuffled I drew Daze once again. This card though won me the game later because my opponent played Pernicious Deed with 2 mana open. I played my Daze and this meant that my Pyromancer would stay in play and I could deal the last 3 damage with it later. There was more going on because I needed to deal with Thrun...erm rather attack in it no matter what and deal some damage so my opponent would get into Bolt range. I had one Bolt in hand for quite some time but my opponent was down to 4. I drew the second Bolt though. Angering my opponent with my top deck I advanced to the finals knowing I would face Helm/Top Storm combo.

Round 4 - Helm Combo
I messed my first Therapy and I bet on a wrong line of plays. It was either be aggressive and win in two turns or play safe and most probably not be able to counter the Top that was missing for the combo to be complete. I don't know how I should have approached the situation. But it certainly was strange to take the aggressive route since I played safe the whole time that day and wanted to see if it brings some fruit or not. Choosing the aggressive plan resulted in me losing the game since my opponent top decked what he needed and I died to Grapeshot.

In the following game I sided in about 10-11 cards to deal with the combo and hoped to win so we could play game 3. But I mulled to 5 because I had no land. I kept a hand with 1 land, Ponder and some countermagic. Ponder showed two lands and Null Rod so I left the cards on top and played Null Rod turn 2. I countered my opponents Spell Snare hoping he does not have Flusterstorm/Pierce/Force which would leave me with one land I would top deck^_^. It resolved though. Now all I needed was a creature. Unfortunately it came too late and I lost to Trinket Mage beat down.

My adventure with Grixis Delver will continue and I hope it will prepare me at least a bit for Prague Eternal. But since my brain will be on vacation I'm not even sure if I should bother WITH 'testing' but since those Leagues and tourney were fun I'll continue in it. The only thing I'm not sure at all is Abrupt Decay in the sideboard. Should I play the card? I don't side it often but when I do I'm very grateful that it is in my SB. So far what I missed was Golgari Charm's -1/-1 effect. I don't expect to die to a horde of Goblin tokens but against Maverick and DnT I would actually fancy that even though Grixis has better match up against those. In a mirror this can also help. I considered playing Darkblast in my sideboard. Maybe I just don't need it. I guess I should focus more on how to beat Shardless BUG (being more aggressive or play Stifle) and Miracles.

So that's it for the time being I guess. Writing this post helped me sort my thoughts so I hope this will help me in the future while playing Legacy or any other format and I hope it helps you too as well^_~. Thanks for reading.

Monday, February 15, 2016

State of Modern

I think I've ranted about Modern quite often but the latest Pro Tour made me think about Modern twice. At first I looked at Modern as the future Extended and couldn't imagine that Modern could turn fast into something I would not like at all. I build several decks right away for the format and liked them but then the huge banlist came and all decks ended up unplayable. So I gave up Modern for quite some time. A year later there were Modern PTQs and I wanted to participate. With zero knowledge of the field I decided to play a deck that could deal with more or less anything and I sleeved Jund. My results were good but Deathrite Shaman - one of my favorite cards - was banned. I stopped playing for a while and then came back with Birthing Pod because I loved the deck when it was Standard legal and I wanted to play that in other format as well. It was nice to see everyone struggling with the deck and me beating everyone. But ban followed as well. I tried little bit of Abzan but without Birthing Pod it just did not really seem to be doing much (and I hate CoCo) and I switched to Twin rather. Same fate awaited Twin - it was banned right before Pro Tour OGW. In December I started running into Eldrazi everywhere and when my Modern leagues started to look like round 1 against Affinity and remaining rounds against 4 Eldrazi I decided that it is time to stop trying with my Abzan deck even though I usually went 4:1 I just couldn't see the deck anymore. I had nightmares about Eldrazi in Modern (last time this happened was when Jace, the Mind Sculptor was legal in T2). When I saw Pro Tour OGW I immediately renamed it to Pro Tour ROE (Rise of the Eldrazi) and started to fear that these Eldrazi would show even in Vintage and Legacy. Few days ago I almost freaked out when my opponent played Ancient Tomb followed by Eye of Ugin and Thought-Knot Seer in Legacy and I also got Thought-Knot Seer'ed in Vintage. Well, I think many of you can tell a similar story with Modern. But why did we actually go through all those bannings and still play the format today?

For me any 'normal' format (Standard, Modern, Legacy) is something I play from time to time, I do not dedicate my time to play t2, Modern or Legacy. So when something strange happens in the format I just don't care much about it and switch to a different format. This time the Eldrazi in Modern affected me way more than I would expect. I just crossed out Modern from the 'normal' format list.

Quite some time ago I realized that Modern is not the format that I would love and that it is something I will play for a change but it won't be something I would really enjoy for a longer period of time (unless they unban Pod once again, but I doubt that with Siege Rhino and co. being around). I come back though to play Modern and I enjoy it for a while.

When something gets banned many people complain that the deck they were trying to put together is unplayable and that they do not have the money to play something else and start selling the cards (just don't do that!). This is a bit strange. The price of cards that get banned plummets, that is understandable but the rest of the cards though still has its value. What people don't often see is the fact that price of other cards sky rockets. Now cards that can deal with Affinity and Eldrazi sky rocketed. So if a player already owned some of those cards he could possibly be 'happy'. I mean there is nothing to be happy about these price spikes but it does not necessarily mean that the player ends up without the means to play some deck or get cards he needs from those he already owns. The real problem as I see it is the fact that the prices that spike so much do not really go back down. If they do go down the price gets lower very slowly and usually does not reach the price tag it had before the spike.

Fun fact (or sad one?) I entered some cards on mtggoldfish under the My Collection tab. At the end of November 2015 the value was more or less 20k. By the end of December the value of cards went up to 22k. I did not pay attention to that much because I knew the cards were spiking and 2k USD difference did not bother me much. But checking the price now it shows 28135 USD. Something is seriously wrong. How far this can go? I thought that Modern was supposed to be more or less accessible format for new players and that is also why the huge banlist came in the first place, but now I'm not sure anymore. It seems ridiculous.

Eternal formats usually have some kind of waves. In one wave certain decks are popular and in another decks countering these decks become more popular and change the meta. This way the format is not the same all the time usually even though Legacy seems to be quite the same for a long time now. Decks come and go in cycles but they always come back. Thus buying cards for a certain deck for an eternal format is fine since you can play with it or a very long time. In Modern these waves also existed. But the bannings changed the flow and broke those cycles. Some decks became too dominant and WotC tried to do something with it. These bannings though shifted the format unnaturally and people were forced to adapt. Since the format is about metagaming adapting can be a bit more difficult than it might seem at first glance. With the banning of Splinter Twin I think that many players just said to themselves 'that's enough' and I think this is something WotC should really think about. The bans upset players more than I think anyone predicted.

Many people always complained about Legacy being way too expensive to start playing, but look at Modern now. Isn't there the very same problem? There might be 1000USD difference but if one will play Legacy he can always play with the cards, in Modern in two years time it is possible that he or she will need to change deck completely due to meta shifting too much. The time that is given to the players to put together a deck is relatively short and the banlist change comes pretty hard at those people who did not even manage to play with their decks. For example I couldn't imagine myself in that position now (glad I have the cards already).

Now I wonder why people play Modern? What does the format offer that people like about it? Is it just a bigger card pool and the fact that the format is more Standard like and thus better approachable than Legacy? Because this format is FAR from Legacy and even more far from Vintage. It is very close to how Standard is played. Modern started with a long banlist that made an artificial and relatively 'safe' environment for those not being used to be killed on t2 by a Storm deck or combo Elves. But with the new cards being stronger and stronger the decks also get stronger. There is less combos, less control but way more midrange and good stuff decks filled well with all the good stuff there is and now we can throw Temur Battle Rage and Become Immense to the mix. On the other hand the interaction among these decks changed drastically. Even if I put aside the fact that it is way more creature-centric. I really wonder what WotC wants Modern to look like. But even all these good stuff decks + some fast decks that will just trample you are nothing compared to the oppressive Eldrazi. I think that 8 Sol Lands in Modern for only ONE KIND of a deck is too much and something should be done with it. Because I can't really see decks that could deal with this. It completely changes the tempo of the game itself. Just look at this strip from Cardboard Crack.

And now look at this.

Is that how a game of turn 4 tempo format should actually look like?

I'm fine facing a Blightsteel Colossus t1 in Vintage but facing some Eldrazi Mimics t1 and Reality Smasher t2 is just insane (this is ideal/exaggerated scenario but pretty much real as well). In Legacy t2 Thought-Knot Seer does not need to be a problem either because there we have the means to deal with that.

I don't expect you to know Legend of the Five Rings (it is a trading card game, you don't need to know more, but if interested check it out) when Kalani's Landing and/or Aramasu's Vigilance was legal. I used to play the game and I build an ecowarfare deck - it just produced TONS of resources one could use. This deck's resources were so great by turn 2 that it just could win against any other deck because it just played outside of the games normal tempo. Even extremely fast aggro deck couldn't deal with this deck. This led to about 16 cards being banned so no one could play the deck and some time later the game as a TCG was announced to end. Even the one attempt where the designers tried to take a step back (start anew with new rules and new power level) was a failure. I'm afraid that something similar might happen with Modern. I just don't see a way out of this. I still hope that Wizards of the Coast finds a way out of this mess but I doubt it because the January's banlist change is something many players have hard time accepting and if players revolt there might not be a way back unless something completely new is introduced.

Even though I still think the best thing one can do is just sit back and wait for the situation to resolve this time I feel that the uneasiness of people will stay in their hearts/minds forever. I know that we had this kind of feelings many times - when stack was introduced, when damaged stopped using the stack etc. But this time I feel that it this won't go so quitely away because the there are other factors that make people unhappy. Prices of cards are ridiculous for both any format now. Even though the standard prices will go down in general and they do go down (now it's just because fetchlands are legal and we can go 5c easily) the prices of Modern and Legacy cards go up way too fast and they don't go down. The market is not ruled by demand but by speculation and buy out. This is very unhealthy and special sets like Modern Masters did not really help the situation. What happens when Eternal Masters is out is a good question...can this help? I doubt it.

So that's about my two cents about Modern...I hope my Eldrazi nightmares will stop now...

If you are thinking about starting Modern (and don't have cards for it) my advice is just forget it for now and try again in few months. There are decks that don't cost 900-2000USD like Mono Red Burn, Green Stompy or budget Infect. These are good entry point for the format and can show you how Modern is played and if you find the format is for you just slowly build up your Modern collection. If you are a Standard player you can win tournaments, win packs and then sell those and get some Modern and Legacy staples. The best is to start with getting hands on fetchlands after this April and then get Shocklands and such. Modern IS EXPENSIVE and it does not seem that it would get any better in the near future unless the format itself ceases to exist.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Chinese Fake Magic Cards

EDIT: Lately I've seen more of these Chinese fakes around and their owners actually bought those cards thinking they were real so that is why I decided to move this post to the top of this blog now. Originally published on 3/2/2014

Some time ago 'Chinese' fake Magic cards flooded the world. Many articles were written about it and many seemed to say that this will affect the market etc. Today I had the chance to see the fakes in real life and after seeing them I have to say that these fakes are not done well and that it's not the end of Magic just yet even though some fakes look pretty convincing notably revised dual lands, Jace, the Mind Scultor and Spellskite for example. The fact that revised dual lands actually look pretty convincing is not a good news though so beware of those when buying them. When a card is NM it can be a fake. Fake cards are in very good condition and they show wear in a completely different way than genuine cards.

If you look at a card and something doesn't feel right it is possible that it is a fake. If you are used to seeing and handling cards for years you'll be able to spot fake cards even if you won't be able to say why. Our brain simply remembers how a card should look like (or anything else).

Since I think that majority of fakes can be seen immediately in most cases one just needs his or her eyes. If that is not enough a light test or looking at the card through a loupe (or scanning the card at 1200dpi) are the safest methods (at the end of the post).

The back of the card is usually the first thing you should check. Except being completely off-color, the quality of the print is way worse than the front of the card that can actually look almost perfect (both color-wise and sharpness-wise).

Fake cards' graphics/text is usually blurry, the colors look bleached or are simply off (too much red in like 90% of the time). You can also notice that the card border is usually bigger than on the fake card and is usually in NM condition.

The fake card's surface is pretty smooth and glossy (this can be 'fixed' though by scratching the card on the table for a while). This can be seen at first glance as well if the card is not sleeved (and there is enough light). On the other hand cards from Event Decks, Clash Packs and the ones gotten from Prerelease packs are also glossy in similar fashion. Due to this gloss the fake cards reflect way more light than genuine cards.

The paper of the fake cards is a bit different. It is a bit thinner and lighter (by 0.04g but some real Magic cards are lighter as well, especially some beta cards are way thinner). The job on the paper is actually better than on the print template, but still it feels different. There are fake cards printed on three different kinds of paper - blue core paper, black core paper and white paper. The black and blue core paper fake cards have way better quality of the print and pass the bend test and some seem to pass the light test as well (even most cards don't pass enough light, those that do the light is of different color - it's not that blue, but if you don't have enough experience with this you might not see the difference). This also means that if you tear in half a blue core fake card it will have a blue layer within like genuine cards (black core fake will show black layer inside).

If you encounter blue core or black core paper fakes the regular tests - bend test and water test - won't do much good since these fakes will just pass the test (unless you really try hard damaging the fake card which when damaged will show the difference, but if done with care the fakes will pass these tests). For example if you dip a tooth pick in water and scratch a real card it won't make the colors go off. The color on a fake card will (but don't do that...). Q-tip dipped in water or a drop of water won't do anything to either of the cards.

Also there are cards that have different font used (Candelabra of Tawnos, Tarmogoyf MM) or different spacing and leading (Flooded Strand) which should give away the cards at first glance. You can also see on some cards that the text is not aligned with the text box. Certain cards even contain typos or wrong text. So they obviously use some kind of a template for this but I really don't understand how they can get something wrong (since there are perfectly correct templates online that are ready for high quality print with correct colors for a professional printer to use). I created some of the card templates to see how difficult it is to do (I wasn't trying to redesign the back of the card). I used the real cards for reference and I achieved a way better results, so hope that those people producing these counterfeits won't reach that kind of quality as well.

The Crypt on the left is the real one. You can see too much red in the one on the right, expansion symbol done wrong, graphics blurry etc...

Note that some fake cards even don't have some of the graphics. For example red dots missing on the back of the card, black borders on dual lands missing (Tundra) etc. or they even have something that should not be present on the card (see beta Volcanic Island's white dots). Fakes from older batches have the mana symbols wrong (Force of Will). If a card has an expansion symbol it is something that gives it away right away. The symbols are not done well and have usually way thicker white or black border (best can be seen on Mana Crypt or Wasteland). If the symbol has some kind of gradient on it (Alliances, Urza Saga etc) it is usually completely different.

For me the safest way is to check the mana symbols if a card has any. If you look at the Ancestral Recalls you will notice the difference. You can observe that the black elements on the real card have sharp edges (click to enlarge) and mana symbol on the fake card looks slightly different as well. Expansion symbols look even more different if the card has any. This can be seen by the naked eye.

Real Ancestral Recall

Fake Ancestral Recall

If you want to be 100% sure that the card is genuine all you need is a loupe (which is easily portable) or a scanner. If you scan a card at 1200dpi you will be able to see certain print patterns and will be easily able to see solid black elements that have sharp edges on a genuine card. The blacks on a genuine card are printed after the rest of the card which makes them stand out. You can see it in the example below.

Real Mox Sapphire

Fake Mox Sapphire

On a fake card you'll see one surface having the same texture (colored dots) everywhere (black areas + the rest). If you look at a black or white border on a fake card you'll find those colored specs there unlike on genuine card where you either won't see any or you'll see some kind of white specs/scratches. Old artifact counterfeits do not usually show the motley gemstone background.

Light test
If you have a strong light with you (a cell phone light can be used if you don't have better LED light with you) you can also check if the card is real or fake. The light comes through a real card easily and you can see what is on the other side (in my case blue dot). That is not the case with fake cards where the light does not pass through much or at all if the light is not that strong as in the case below (iphone used)

The best way to see if a card is fake is to use a black light but that is something most people don't have because they don't need it and can't take it with them to a GP let's say. Under black light Magic cards are fluorescent. The color with what they are illuminated is different though. Fake cards are simply dark. This method is good for batch processing^_^.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Power Nine Challenge and Czech Vintage Series

note: I'm obviously incapable of making the distinction of Delver of Secrets and Insectile Aberration so there's flipped and unflipped Delver in the following text...

Power Nine Challenge

On the last Saturday in a month Power Nine Challenge can be played on Magic Online. My last attempt did not end up well due to technical problems (like 7 sec lag, it was unplayable) but I knew at that time that I could play way better than last time so I wondered how the next P9C would go.

The Wednesday before January's P9C brought a huge change to paying costs because colorless mana became distinct mana. With updates like this it was sure that something would go wrong. The new update seemed to fix some cards like Firespout or Generator Servant and possibly even Mishra's Workshop and Cavern of Souls (but those two cards at once in play that's a completely different story) but it also broke other cards (even the cards that were supposed to work). That was not all. Force of Will when played when Sphere of Resistance was in play cost an extra life and what was even worse was that Containment Priest and Grafdigger's Cage stopped working altogether (it was nice that Priest stopped removing itself from play but if it did not prevent Griselbrand entering play...that was way worse!). It was time for me (and others) to write to Wizards of the Coast and hope that all this would be fixed till Saturday's Power Nine Challenge.

WotC managed to fix those problems which meant downloading modo quite often during those few days (and accepting all the legal stuff) and on Saturday evening I was one of the 103 players that joined the event as well.

The first good thing was that I managed to enter the tournament with a correct deck - URw Delver (last time I entered with a deck I did not pick myself...)

Decklist in a text form (check to show)
URw Delver
by STsung
1 Black Lotus
1 Brainstorm
2 Dack Fayden
4 Delver of Secrets
1 Dig Through Time
1 Flusterstorm
4 Force of Will
4 Gitaxian Probe
3 Gush
3 Lightning Bolt
3 Mental Misstep
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Sapphire
1 Ponder
4 Preordain
1 Stony Silence
3 Swords to Plowshares
1 Time Walk
1 Treasure Cruise
4 Young Pyromancer
1 Strip Mine
1 Polluted Delta
2 Island
2 Flooded Strand
4 Scalding Tarn
2 Tundra
3 Volcanic Island

2 Containment Priest
2 Grafdigger's Cage
4 Ingot Chewer
1 Mountain
2 Pyroblast
2 Rest in Peace
1 Stony Silence
1 Wear // Tear

Round 1 - DPS
I found out what I play against after playing Gitaxian Probe revealing Dark Petition and Yawgmoth's Will. I had Flusterstorm in my hand and drew Force of Will so I felt save for a while (till first Duress/Cabal Therapy would be played). In the meantime I played two Delvers, flipped them and won soon after. I sideboarded in graveyard hate, Pyroblast and even Ingot Chewers so I could get rid of Defense Grids. My opening hand was Force of Will, Mental Misstep, Scalding Tarn, Preordain, Lightning Bolt, Ingot Chewer and Treasure Cruise. I decided to keep because that seemed ok. But opponent's turn one aready made it worse since he played Cabal Therapy that I countered losing the Misstep I wanted to keep for a Ritual if possible. I drew Cage that I played, later I drew FoW and Flusterstorm. Everything seemed fine till my FoW was discarded. I countered Dark Petition with my Flusterstorm then because I did not want him to look for Echoing Truth or Yawgmoth's Will but erm it was obviously something I wasn't supposed to do. He then played those cards (Will and Echoing Truth) anyway and I lost the game. I lost the third game as well. My opponent decided for an overkill so I had the chance to take this screenshot ->

Round 2 - Dredge
My opponent started with using Serum Powder so I knew what I was facing already. That did not change much since I can't imagine winning game 1 anyway. I played the whole game though. My opponent got two Bridges and a Narcomoeba, played few Therapies and then played Dread Return. I tried playing Gush if by a chance I wouldn't hit Fow + blue card. Stony Silence and Black Lotus was certainly neither of those^_^ so I conceded (t3 kill for dredge). I boarded in Rest in Peaces, Cages and Containment Priests. My opponent mulled to 3. I played Cage t1 and passed the turn. My opponent played Bazaar and used it but couldn't really do much with it till t4 when he destroyed my Cage and managed to get a Zombie in play. But I already had Pyromancer, Delver and some tokens in play and I added Containment Priest to that lot as well. My following draw was Grafdigger's Cage and my opponent conceded when I played it. G3 I managed to have Cage in my opener. My opponent used Bazaar but did not get any dredgers. So I decided to play Ancestral Recall first to see if my opponent counters that instead of my Cage. He let me draw some cards including Containment Priest and Force of Will. The next turn he played Therapy that I countered. I played my Cage that he tried to destroy then, I Forced that and played my Priest and that was pretty much it.

Round 3 - Dredge
My opponent started with Bazaar with the original illustration and had 6 Zombies in play by turn 2 so I scooped and hoped for a better game. I mulled into Volcanic Island, Preordain, Force of Will, Containment Priest, Strip Mine and Gitaxian Probe. It seemed as an ok hand since I could destroy Bazaar number 1 and possible find a source of white for the Priest. I Probed my opponent to see one Bazaar and destroyed it on the following turn. On t3 I top decked Tundra even though I was ready to look for it so I played the Priest to stop Ichorids from crawling out of the grave. I then tried to Bolt a lone Zombie so I could start swinging with the Priest. I knew that my opponent had one Misstep but did not expect two. The counterspell battle filled my graveyard though so I drew RIP, Preordain and Cage with Treasure Cruise. My opponent played Cabal Therapy naming Priest and Rest in Peace so I was left with Cage if the Priest would somehow die (not sure how? except that it would get blocked). Later I drew Young Pyromancer so my clock was faster. G3 After mulligan I kept a hand without any sideboard card but I could play Preordain and Delver on t1 and I had Time Walk to try drawing even one more card. I drew Ancestral Recall out of the Preordain so I tried that and drew Lotus, Delver, Cage. I played the Delver and Cage that my opponent tried to counter but I had Misstep of my own and played the Time Walk then. Flipped my two Delvers and won the game soon later.

Round 4 - White Trash
Seeing my opponent's username I expected to play against White Trash. He started with puting Leyline of Sanctity in play before the game started and skipped his turn 1 by accident (I was there too). I almost managed the same since I pressed the same key on the keyboard not expecting my opponent to skip his turn (I wanted to skip his turn, since there was no possible play for me). It did not register though so I played my land and hoped it wouldn't get Wasteland'ed in the upcoming 2 turns. I got Gush so if that would happen I could return my lands and keep them (my draw was horrible so this was a good thing to do). After staring at 3 Gushes and Force of Will (that seemed useless due to Cavern of Souls) in my hand for a while I finally managed to play something - Delver of Secrets. Second Gush brought some removal spells (2 STP, Lightning Bolt). My opponent was playing creatures and putting some pressure on me with his uncounterable clerics. My 1/1 Delvers couldn't even race back. Then finally my opponent played a Pegasus that I could counter and my Delvers finally flipped and in two swings I won the game.
I put Ingot Chewer and Wear//Tear in my deck to deal with Batterskull and hoped for the best (for Pyromancer and some instants). My hand wasn't any good. 3x Force of Will and Time Walk and bunch of lands. My lands got destroyed which filled my graveyard and I could play Dig Through Time that found Dack Fayden and Delver. I played both and countered my opponent's Misstep, Swords to Plowshares and Path to Exile targeting my only creature (now my three FoWs proved to be good afterall^^). My opponent kept a 'control' hand and me as well so in the end it worked out well for me. My opponent's last attempt at doing something was playing Ethersworn Canonist into my Dack Fayden. So I stole it and wondered if my opponent would Abolish it. He did not have any plains in play or his hand though so this would not happen anyway but it was a funny thought and brought smile to my face and my flatmate's. My flatmate was there giving me moral support and I hope he had as much fun as I did.

Round 5 - Mentor
In the next round my opponent played Mox Ruby and Flooded Strand so I finally played against a blue deck (meaning it would be more difficult to win). I looked at my opponent's hand seeing Flusterstorm, FoW, FoW, Misstep and Tundra. My hand was similar^_^. I played my first Preordain and it got countered by Flusterstorm which was good for me. Next my opponent played Demonic Tutor -> Ancestral Recall that I tried to counter. It resulted in this ->

After this I was the lucky one because I still had Preordain in my hand^_^. I drew Gush and the Gush hit two Delvers. Opponent hit Gush and Mentor. My lucky top decks continued because I flipped my Delvers showing my opponent Lightning Bolt. I got rid of the Mentor, then we played few more spells and I won. G2 my opened was Delver, Dig Through Time, Gush, Gush and mana sources. That did not seem too exciting but I kept it. On t4 my two unflipped Delvers were staring at Monastery Mentor and two tokens. On t5 it was 6 tokens in total. But I managed to play Young Pyromancer and hoped to produce some blockers if my Delvers would finally decide to turn into Insectile Aberration. On t6 they flipped I swung with them leaving behind Pyromancer and one elemental facing 7 tokens and Mentor. It did not look good but my opponent did not manage to kill me after he played Dig Through Time. I played mine on my turn finding Bolt and FoW I couldn't play. My opponent cast FoW targeting the Bolt but that meant he went down to 6 and my Delvers finished him off. So I forgave my Delvers for not flipping and hoped to win the next match but I ran into the future winner of the tournament and it was the first game I completely messed up because exhaustion started to show and it showed first on misplayed Gush.

Round 6 - Mentor
I kept a hand that seemed good. I had both Delver and Pyromancer and some card draw. Delver go counterspelled, Pyromancer sticked and created a token but my Gush was countered. Mentor landed on the other side and I knew I'm screwed. I top decked Bolt but that card was countered as well. My remaining chance was playing Dig Through Time and getting a Bolt/STP. There wasn't much of anything except Brainstorm/Probe. Another Misstep awaited me. I drew Ponder though so I tried that again and hit Bolt and Misstep. I tried plowing Mentor and that worked but then I swung with majority of tokens and I died next turn since my opponent managed to draw 6 cards and played enough spells to kill me with his tokens. I was pretty angry about this because I could have (possibly) won this game. Not only I managed to mess up Gush, but I also did not keep more blockers and then I'm not sure if drawing the Misstep was the right thing to do since my opponent already played 2 of those... It seemed so at that time when I played the game but now looking at the replay...I could have just tried playing the Bolt instead since my opponent went down to 2 that turn. But I was so focused on getting rid of the Mentor that this idea did not really came to my mind. At this point I was so distracted that I wasn't sure if I can play any more games.

Game 2 did not seem good right from the beginning but it was totally winnable if I wouldn't mess up my plays so badly. My opponent started with Pyromancer that I STP'ed (and countered Misstep) but at that time I did not know what awaited me. I saw my opponent's hand on my turn - two Flusterstorms, Force of Will, Gush and Mentor. This seemed impossible to beat since I had no threats and my Flusterstorm could hardly counter Mentor. I tried playing Treasure Cruise knowing that I could counter FoW with Blast and Flusterstorm with Flusterstorm and Misstep. This would leave me without anything to counter Mentor or the next FoW but I could hope to draw something knowing that my opponent would have only 1 counterspell left. I found FoW and STP. Later Time Walk and Preordain. The next time I looked at my opponent's hand I saw two Mentors, Bolt and Gush awaiting me. I played my two Delvers hoping they would stick. One did not survive as expected but the other one got also targeted with Bolt. I Forced the Bolt which wasn't a good idea since I still had two Mentors to deal with. One of the Mentors sticked and produced two tokens. I still had the flipped Delver and my opponent was down to 6 life but I had nothing in my hand nor any blockers. My following draws were Force of Will, Pyroblast and Stony Silence (in reverse order) and I lost the game. I was VERY embarassed after this game because it did not really look like that a 4:1 player played it and this sent me out of top 16.

After this very painful defeat that wasn't even supposed to happen if I played correctly I was frenetic. I couldn't concentrate or do anything. In the morning I was supposed to arrive to Czech Vintage Series to Najada store so I decided to put my deck together and write the decklist. This kept me busy for the rest of the round. But since I couldn't even figure out what cards are missing I knew that the following game wouldn't be any good either. In a way I did not need to care since this game decided that my standing would be somewhere under the top 16 probably anyway and my tiebreakers were the worst since the beginning of the tournament^_^.

Round 7 - Dredge
Hopefully I played the last round against Dredge. I scooped game 1. G2 I kept Delver, Bolt, STP, Brainstorm, Volcanic Island, FoW so I could at least Bolt my Delver to get rid of too many Bridges in the graveyard. It got countered and I decided to keep my Brainstorm and hope for another creature and blue card. I hit Delver so I played it. My opponent played Depths and had 3 Bridges in the graveyard by t2. I flipped the Delver, attacked and bolt it post-combat main phase. Now it was time to concentrate on the Dark Depths. I top decked STP and hoped it would stay in my hand. My opponent played Cabal Therapy the next turn but did not name STP but Force of Will. Flashbacked Therapy discarded my STP. My Rest in Peace got countered but a second one I sticked and my Pyromancer had plenty of time to win the game - not really, I still could die to Marit Lage but I got rid of three Ichorids in the graveyard. Before the final attack my opponent sac'ed his Black Lotus and played Stinkweed Imp. I had STP to deal with Marit Lage so I used that on the Imp instead and won the game.

Game three my opponent showed me the white Chancellor and did not start with Bazaar but Library of Alexandria instead. I was glad it wasn't Bazaar at that time but when Thespian Stage followed it I wasn't sure about that feeling anymore. Anyway I couldn't play Cage t1 so I had to wait till turn two. On t3 I was staring at Thespian Stage and Dark Depths already so it was time to look for STP. I played Ponder revealing Rest in Peace and lands so I shuffled it and hoped to draw something better. I top decked Gush and I played Delver on the same turn. Later I managed to draw two STP. My opponent played Black Lotus and a Therapy that I had to counter otherwise it would end up bad. Another followed so I countered it as well. At the end of turn my opponent tried his luck and created Marit Lage. I Sword to Plowshar'ed it and hoped that I could deal those 37 damage faster than my opponent could produce another Marit Lage or some Dragonlord^_^ (I wasn't really afraid of that happening) but he had Riftstone Portal in his graveyard. My horde of creatures managed to win the game...

Emotions started to well up. I was glad I placed 18th but not messing the game against Princess_Power could have meant I could possibly top 8. Since I did not really feel well during the whole tournament I came to the conclusion that I was more glad than sad^_^. When I finally managed to set aside my emotions and the horrible embarrassment from round 6 I recounted my (physical) deck twice. I still came to 41 nonland cards and 14 lands (what I counted during round 7). Since my brain was incapable of figuring out what was missing I clicked on collection and looked at my deck (the one I played those seven rounds^^). Nothing came to my mind so I took the deck and piled it in front of me to find out that I'm missing Young Pyromancers (how could I miss that?) and Scalding Tarn (I expected that).

I panicked a bit because I couldn't recall in which deck I left them but then I figured out that they are in Legacy and Modern Grixis Delver so I took the first ones I encountered (Korean ones which were an oddity in a deck full of Japanese cards as someone noted).

After this I finished the decklist that I started during round 6. Processed remaining orders and went to sleep. I hoped to sleep for a while but it was clear I wouldn't be able to since the game against Princess Power haunted me in my bed.

Czech Vintage Series

At 7:20 I just couldn't bear it anymore and got up. I ate something (successfully) and headed for the Czech Vintage Series tournament in Najada. I took my time to get there because I knew I would be too early for the tournament. Soon after I got there 4 players arrived. More players followed later. The tournament started with 12 participants.

In round one I played against Jiri Nitsche. I've been seeing this player play Vintage in other tournaments so I knew I should wake up and try to play well. We both mulled to 4. I was the more fortunate in the end though. I had no lands after my keep. My hand got Duress'ed (and also hit by Cabal Therapy) so I was left without anything I could possibly play even if I drew a land. The Therapy would be an obvious signal that my opponent plays Storm or something but I was too exhausted to actually make a mental note about this. Few rounds later after my opponent played few mana sources I finally drew few lands myself. I top decked Pyromancer, played Probe and finally saw my opponent's hand full of Hurkyl's Recalls and Tendrils of Agony^_^. I won soon after. Sideboarding was a problem as I managed to completely forget about cards Storm usually sides in. It did not really matter since I did not managed to get RIP or Cage and my only counterspell was Pyroblast that couldn't target Yawgmoth's Will. Third game was close but it wasn't enough from my side.

In the following round I knew that things would go wrong if I won't eat and drink soon. Too bad for me because we took 50 minutes to play the match and that resulted in me losing the game. I lost one game because I just couldn't deal with Painter and Grindstone in one turn which was fine. I won another game because I had 3 Bolts for Painter against 2 Blasts which was ok. The last game though was taking ages. I had no land, my opponent was flooded. I played Delver of Secrets though relatively early. After few counterspells the card resolved. Later though I tried Bolting Painter and the card got Misdirected to my poor Delver. After this things did not look good...When I finally managed to draw some other cards I could play I screwed playing Gush (I will note that the first sign of exhaustion is "messing Gush" obviously). There were other players watching the game already and they had the urge to tell me how I messed up and how I should have won (they were right, but should have kept that for themselves). I knew that myself and I was very upset about it already and even more because of them - if it weren't for them I could have probably not messed the damn Gush and won the game in the additional turns. But honestly I was too exhausted to even realize that my opponent had Yawgmoth's Will even though I made a mental note about it. But I forgot about it 5 minutes later (actually 11 minutes later when it was relevant because the deciding moment came in the game and I messed it up because I forgot about the Will. Making the right play - playing Gush - would result in me winning the game either way, but this was a huge mistake anyway. It changed my point of view on the game state which was bad).
Also during one of those games something rather strange happened. I played Stony Silence and my opponent looked at the card puzzled asking me what it does. I was surprised that he did not recognize the card. At this point I did no really think about this much, but when each other opponent asked me what the card does I was quite surprised. Obviously it wasn't a good idea main decking it for this tourney, since I got really strange looks after I explained what the card does^_^. I could use that slot for something else obviously... (Mentor deck would be better suited for the "meta")

After this match I was so upset that I wanted to drop but I was already paired against someone who was already waiting for me. It was another player I knew but I haven't seen him play well yet and I hoped I wouldn't need to explain anynthing. I expected a more or less mirror match. He was playing some Jeskai Mentor/Pyromancer deck. I kept few Missteps, removal, FoW and Pyromancer. I managed to play my Pyromancer, counter some of his spells and win later. In game two I did not really care about the match result anyway so I kept a sketchy hand. I either would be lucky and it would work out or not and I did not care. I played Pyromancer t1 and countered two attemps of getting rid of the Pyromancer while listening to my opponent complaining about my Missteps and FoW from previous game.

I used the Strip Mine on my opponent's land and hoped it would slow him down at least by a turn. It worked because he couldn't play Dack that early. He tried blocking and dealing with my tokens and stole my Mox but I was lucky and managed to win - he tapped out in order to find an answer to my token, was down to 1 life and I found Bolt with Ponder. So I played that and he extended his hand. I did not expect to win the game but I calmed down a bit during it because I was more interested in how the game would end up than feeling my emotions.

I did not drop even my mood was not any better (slightly it was). My following opponent improved my mood though a bit even though he started with shuffling my deck and I did not really liked that^^. After I mulled the player sitting next to him told him to be at least a bit of gentleman. He shuffled my deck anyway. He started with Arid Mesa which was a shock for me. He fetched for Plateau which was even more strange. I had no idea what he was playing. Next he played Badlands, that was even weirder. Next land was Volcanic Island so I knew that he played some blue at least but why were all his lands mountains? It is possible that not being so tired I could have possibly figured out why (maybe not) but that day (during the day) I couldn't figure out even simply things. I faced Jace, later Jace and Dack but still I couldn't see why there were all those mountains till Koth joined the team, I facepalmed myself and started to swear because there was no way for me to deal with this particular planeswalker in time (not that I could deal with Jace or Dack anyway). After Badlands dealt four damage to me I started franctically looking for Bolt or Pyromancer plus cantrip but I did not find either and scooped. I sideboarded in Containment Priests then to help me deal with Koth and I they helped. Actually this card was MVP during all the matches even though it was just a 2/2 creature with Flash. I won the following games since I already knew what to expect and the 2 damage the Priest could deal were pretty relevant (since Bolt does not kill Koth)

In the last round I wished to play against something normal (that is competitive) but after seeing with whom I was paired I knew I would be facing some Jund Blue deck with Death's Shadows and Tarmogoyf and 4x Illness in the Ranks. Game 1 I couldn't deal with Sylvan Library. Even dealing with 2-3 Goys and Death's Shadow was difficult but my opponent was a bit helpful with that since he managed to misplay rather often and that gave me some time to deal with the situation. I lost anyway though. Game 2 I sided those Priests in once again, along with Rest in Peace and Wear//Tear but I couldn't even find Tundra to play those (or rather fetchland). So the question was Force of Will Illness in the Ranks and face something like 4 Decays and Missteps or try keeping the FoW for Library and try my luck with 2/1s facing 5/5s and 5/6. Since I did not find Tundra I was forced to counter Tarmogoys which were followed by Library and I knew I was done for. I could have tried to chump and bolt Goyf and deal with 7/7 Death's Shadow later but that wasn't a good plan either. My opponent though drew Abrupt Decay, Death's Shadow (and something else...DRS?) and played all those cards the turn I decided to kill the Goyf. I don't need to say that I died the turn later. A sad game...and not sure if my decision making would make it any better^_^. (my chance of winning this game were only if my opponent would be drawing just lands^_^)

After this I felt pretty down even though my last opponent was the only one that actually tried talking to me and seemed to be glad to see a new face at the tournament. He tried to cheer me up that it was a good start for my first tournament but that did not help since it was hardly my first tournament. He also asked me if I borrowed the deck from someone which certainly felt strange (but thumbs up and thanks to all those let others use their Power Nine and Vintage decks and notably thanks to Zuzy for keeping the scene alive and organizing this series). I felt utterly defeated and exhausted but I was still up for some Vintage. I tried asking few of the players for a game but they all declined or did not even talk to me. But then I found out that one of the players wouldn't be participating in the Old School tournament so I asked him if he would be up for some games since he had to stay there till the end of the tourney. Since he was German I suspected that I would have better luck convincing him^_^. That wasn't even needed and in the end time spent with him made my day. Because we had a lot of fun playing and chatting about stuff.

I did not know what Andreas was playing so I just took my URw Delver first to see what I would play against. I found out soon that he played a Shops deck and laughed a bit about his comment about being lucky not encountering me in the tournament (well, yes my first thought when playing against him was that I really SO wanted to play against him in the tourney). Later I found out he was running the Forgemaster version of the deck. We played many games and I have to say that I was getting lost even more than during the tournament (for example forgetting that one of my Revokers named Steel Hellkite) but I tried to focus on the game and get the most out of the games and learn something about the Shops matchup that I could use in the future (it also meant that we ended up in situations we shouldn't have but I don't see this as a bad thing since I can see where bad decisions can take me and if there are chances to actually turn the game in ones favor once again). I took Aggro Shops and tried to figure out how this MUD (kinda)mirror match looks like. I did not expect pleasant games but in the end we had lots of fun playing this matchup even though Kuldotha Forgemaster seemed the card that simply meant 'I lost'. The decision tree for me as a Shops player is completely unknown for me so figuring out what was the correct play took some time to show. Few photos from the games follow...

I kept a Mountain, Black Lotus, 3 Delvers, STP and Ancestral Recall. I drew an island and for some UNKNOWN reason I decided to play that instead of the mountain which obviously meant that I couldn't play the Ancestral Recall a turn later. But it was fun playing 3 Delvers T1^_^.

What one Metalworker can do if not destroyed or 'needled' (the needled cards were Hellkite and Forgemaster)

Something like turn 10?

Apart from my mood being spoiled quite soon the tournament was calm and the games were nice. I'd like to thank Zuzy for everything once again and I hope that with the help of other players and local game stores' support the series will once again have many players participating in the tournaments and everyone will be happy playing Legacy, Vintage and Old School. So see you next time at next Czech Vintage and Legacy Series and Prague Eternal (and Legacy GP^_^)!

BTW my last opponent had really cool proxies of Power Nine and other cards like Library of Alexandria so he wouldn't need to play with his beta power in a pub (or other non-tournament environment). I found those pretty cool so I took a picture of some of them.