Wednesday, June 22, 2016

PureMTGO - World Magic Cup Qualifier - a Vintage player discovering Standard

It is said that a change of something from time to time is a good thing. I am an eternal format player and Standard does not appeal to me. But playing a bit of Standard from time to time is something I can actually enjoy. But in order to play Standard I really need a sound reason. WMCQ was that reason. Since I really enjoyed the tournament (and went 5-3) I wrote a report.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Grand Prix Prague - Epic Failure

There aren't so many Legacy GPs and if they are they are not usually close enough for me to go. When it was announced that GP Prague's format would be Legacy I started to look forward to it. Unfortunately, in the meantime, Oath of the Gatewatch happened. This set ruined all my dreams and hopes. I sold my Standard cards, I stopped playing Modern due to the format being dominated by Eldrazi of all colors. Even Legacy started to be overrun by Eldrazi. I had hard time fighting that deck and I wasn't really willing to change my deck a lot so I decided to play a different deck. Shardless BUG was the deck of choice and who knows if it was a good idea. Maybe I should have played with Miracles right from the beginning (since people would be less likely to concede in Legacy League). Since I wasn't really enthusiast to play Legacy in the Eldrazi meta I stuck with Vintage. But there was a sudden restriction of Lodestone Golem and ...wait for it... ELDRAZI became a thing. After initial horror of Gush driven meta and my totally disastrous Power Nine Challenge I wanted to stop playing Vintage as well. But I persevered while trying to play Blue Moon. I managed to win some stuff in Vintage DEs but I noticed that many people try Eldrazi of all kinds. 4c humans/white trash was also popular. After Eldrazi Shops and dedicated Eldrazi, White Eldrazi came. It was time to stop playing Vintage too.

Fortunately during that time MKM Series in Frankfurt happened. I top 8ed the Vintage event, ended up 24th in a Legacy event and in general it was the best Magic tournament I participated in. I played really nice matches in Legacy, won those I could, lost to matchups I could hardly win. The little flame of hope became a bit bigger. Maybe I could still have some fun at the GP. But I had my doubts about my deck. I can pilot the deck only when I feel alright and focus. If not I go 0:5.

The GP was coming closer. I played few more leagues with results 5:0, 0:5, 4:1, 1:4. This did NOT make me feel any better.

Day -1

On Thursday I went to a pub to meet with few judges. I hoped to chat, have some fun and possibly play some Magic. It was fun, but with alcohol levels rising it was getting worse and worse (for me). During the evening I managed to play against Eldrazi and MUD. I was witness of Eldrazi Mimic, Eldrazi Mimic, Endless One on turn 1, followed by t2 Thought-Knot Seer and t3 Reality Smasher. In other games my lands were just destroyed and I had no way dealing with bigger Eldrazi (especially while being uncounterable). Endbringer was usually well...end bringer. The games against MUD weren't any better. Spheres of all kinds, Chalice and Lodestone Golems are difficult to deal with. And then if I have to stare at Sundering Titan there isn't much I can do...

After all this fun I stayed with Saverio so I could take him to the hotel. I wasn't sure if he could make it back. My experience with drunken people is more or less none so I was wondering how all the judges would look like the following day, especially those with morning shift the following day. After I left Saverio in his hotel I went back to my flat and hoped I could sleep for a bit. I managed that but I woke up early. Too early for my sleep deprived self. After tinkering with my Vintage deck and Magic Online I went to the bus stop so we could leave to the site.

Day 0

Upon our arrival we bought a cake and coffee in a local café next to the information stand. The cakes were actually good, the coffee not so much. Then it was time to look around. I met actually quite many people. The majority of players seemed to be German but I also heard British English which was rather unusual. Many players were also speaking Dutch or Swedish.

I bumped into quite a high number of Vintage players so I was glad to see them again. We talked a bit and then had to part our ways. This time for the first time on Friday I checked the vendors' stands. I was usually doing this on Sunday when all the cards were already sold out. I was looking for some 'ugly' but still tournament playable Time Walk or Library of Alexandria. The price range for Library was between 260 - 700 EUR. The only one I seemed to like was for 300EUR. I got an offer for 250 but the seller sold it already before I came back. So I was looking for some Japanese Vintage/Legacy cards and bought quite a bunch of those. Wonder who would pay 3-4 EUR for commons and uncommons? Obviously me. Anyway I'm quite pleased with what I found.

I also was bumping into those players wanting to borrow cards from me so that was good. In the end I managed to talk to each player I wanted that day except Titus Chalk and Adam Koska.

At 7 pm there was supposed to be Rich Hagon's game show but he was in the booth commentating. So I walked few more rounds around the hall. But some time later I saw Rich and Matej come to the hall we were at. I went back to the theatre asking if the Game Show would still happen. Rich said it would. We played 5 rounds as usual.

The first round was relatively easy^_^ but it showed me that I can't concentrate well. We were supposed to write down 15 lands lands Jarvis Yu played in his winning deck. I messed up Windswepth Heath (wrote Misty Rainforest), forgot about Riftstone Portal (I wasn't the only one obviously) and Glacial Chasm. Doing the list now I would take just few seconds to write those lands down but there I took two minutes not being able to figure out what the lands deck looked like.

In the following round we were asked to write the number of banned cards in Legacy. I messed that up too even though I was probably the only person who could actually write the correct number down. When I was putting that in my article I had to divide the banlist into 3 columns by 25 cards each knowing that there was about one card less in one of them. I should have written the number 74 down. But the stupid me did not and I was not the one to win the round. I felt VERY ashamed.

Next we were supposed to write down the cities in which there was Legacy GP. I wrote down the most obvious ones. But when it came down to Philadelphia and Indianapolis all I could write down was Philly and Indy. I started to wonder from which event the Brainstorm playmat was. I knew it was close to New York but I wasn't quite sure where it was. Of course it was New Jersey. Facepalm yet once again followed. I did fairly good actually but it was a torture (got 11 out of 17).

One question was very special. We were supposed to write everything we could about Nalathni Dragon, Sewers of Estark and Windseeker Centaur. If you have never heard about these cards well you are not the only one. I actually knew about those since those are very old promos and I happen to have some in my binder. But you know what? I messed that up as well. By this time I was SURE not to do well the next day. Look the cards up if you don't know them. Funny lot...

The last question was the longest one. We were given match records of the EURO2016 in the form of cards - cards that weren't utter crap but certainly not cards one would play in constructed. Many of the cards were actually good in limited or special in other way. But well Rich said Centaur Safekeeper I was also trying hard to remember what card that is. I knew it was white/green centaur that was good in beatdown and was giving 3 life under some condition. But for some damn reason I couldn't remember that its power and toughness was 3/1. Similarly I couldn't remember that Blistering Barrier is the annoying 5/2 Wall...I even managed to write 2/3 even though I marked the winning country correctly but I wrote 2 next to it instead of 3. Seriously where was my brain that day? I really hoped it would come back from holiday the following day.

Anyway after this fiasco I felt actually great. It was fun and I had the chance to talk to the German players again. After discussing ANT vs Miracles matchup it was time to go.

I went with them to the subway because my bus just left when we left the site. Then I got on some bus going to Vysocanska and was back in my flat in 10 minutes (surprised).

I checked the weather forecast before going to sleep and I saw thunderstorms being announced. That made sense since I was feeling like fainting at any moment and was unable to think straight the whole day. Unfortunately for me this meant the following days wouldn't be any better. 'Love' my body.

Day 1

The Main Event Legacy was something I was looking forward to actually. I managed to arrive on time, drink some coffee, eat little bit, check my deck if it contains 4 Force of Wills^_^ (I started the event without FoWs in Frankfurt). Then I participated in the players' meeting. I got my playmat and stuff and went back to the awesome Café next to the entrance. There were already some players sitting and sipping coffee and eating cakes. Among all those players though at one table a family was sitting. Anyone well dressed was an oddity. I sat down a table next to them since it was not taken yet and listened to them talking. At first they were just talking about weather and stuff but I could see that they were intimidated by us. They were looking at everyone not understanding what is going on there. Then one man, also well dressed sat down next to the family. He also looked a bit frightened. The lady asked the person if he knows what is going on there (banners with Grand Prix and Magic: The Gathering logo everywhere around us). He said that he doesn't know but that we all go through decks of cards or binders. The lady started to wonder what kind of game we play and asked if it is something like Mensch ärgere Dich nicht (Man, do not get annoyed/angry). I tried not to laugh aloud after I heard this. Just imagine a average Magic player playing this game. Her husband though obviously knew a bit about cards so he compared the GP to a poker tournament. He obviously ran into a problem after saying this because he was immediately asked how come he knows about poker and such. This made my day.

Apparently the ladies serving us had also hard time understanding how 2000 people can gather and play some card game. But no one was rude or anything. Everyone was nice and professional (unlike at other venues I had the opportunity to be and participate in a GP or other big event).

I made some changes prior to the tournament. I cut Ancestral Vision and added Liliana of the Veil. I also wanted to cut JTMS and put something else there - Strix or find more space for Thoughtseizes. I also cut Wasteland and added Forest. I'd love to cut Tar Pit but I still need it against Miracles so decided to keep 2 still. The changes I made proved to be good (even though my GP record does not support that).

After this funny experience a torture began. In the first round I played, I mulled to 5 and drew 5 lands. That wasn't looking good. I had to watch my opponent being pretty puzzled and not sure how he should play his deck which was frustrating. I almost managed to win the game though. The game came to a position in which I would kill my opponent next turn. All I needed was my opponent to draw a blank ONCE. He drew Brainstorm though (which was t he right opposite of it) and found all he needed to kill me on that turn. Game 2 did not go well either. I mulled to 5 again keeping 3 Wastelands, Underground Sea and Tarmogoyf. I destroyed 3 of my opponent's lands but that did not help me since my opponent always played a land on his turn. I was screwed since I couldn't even play the cards I drew. When I finally managed to produce a Forest my Tarmogoyf died to Dismember and soon later I was dead.

That wasn't a good start. Next round I was paired against GP Copenhagen 2015 winner so right from the beginning I did not expect to win. As expected he played Merfolk. He told me he came just to collect few remaining Pro Points and that he never played Legacy. He certainly knows how to play though. I kept a hand that was worse than average against any deck and against Merfolk it was even worse. I lost soon. Game 2 I beat him since my draw was actually good and he did not figure out how to sideboard. My hand was ok, but being on draw wasn't good. I lost to too many True-Nemesis and was wondering if I should drop and go home. I wished him luck telling him he shouldn't really have a hard time getting the points he needs and left to get something to eat and drink.

Next I beat some poor guy with Elves. My Hymn hit Glimpse of Nature and Quirion Ranger which practically won me the game. I wasn't quite the winner yet but my opponent couldn't draw what he needed and I was just bashing him with my Tarmogoyf (I survived Natural Order and one Behemoth attack though). In the second game I just had all the removal I could have except Toxic Deluge and Golgari Charm. No matter what I managed to win after killing all his elves and Dryad one by one.

The next round made me angry quite a lot. I played against Death and Taxes. I destroyed 2 Vials but a third one stayed in play. I was glad I did not need to face Mother of Runes and Thalias and was able to win. In the following game I discarded my opponent's Mirran Crusader and Batterskull since I could actually deal with the rest at some point. But my opponent top decked another Mirran Crusader and played it. I don't need to say that I haven't seen Toxic Deluge or Liliana... In the deciding game I had 2 Lilianas, Decay, Disfigure but not enough land against Thalia, Wasteland and Rishadan Port. All I needed was to get to four lands so I could play a removal spell to deal with Thalia and later play Liliana to deal with anything else on the table. I destroyed Karakas on one of my turns which was a mistake since it was immediately replaced by another Karakas. This way I lost my precious land and couldn't kill that hatebear. So I just watched my opponent play Stoneforge Mystic after Stoneforge Mystic and eventually killing me with Batterskull. All I needed that game was either ONE additional land or ONE additional turn. After this game I was really on tilt. The games were relatively quick so I had quite enough time to calm down. I still did not drop.

Elves. How would you expect that to go? I would expect my deck to terribly die to Elves but for some reason...I won against all the elves I played in the last major events. I still haven't seen Toxic Deluge or Golgari Charm even though I sided those quite often.

Later it was time to finally play against Miracles. My opponent knew how to pilot it well. While he was capable retaining his focus I was slowly losing mine as the game progressed. It came down to a situation in which I had everything I needed. Only two scenarios would kill me - Vendilion Clique or Venser, Shaper Savant (I didn't know if he played either of it but since I saw Karakas I expected him to. Later I saw both cards.). So on the turn my opponent needed to deal with my creatures he played Vendilion Clique targeting me to see if I have Force of Will. He put it on the bottom and I drew something totally different knowing that I was doomed since I would most probably had to deal with Terminus. My opponent indeed tapped his Top, drew a card and revealed Terminus. I put my creatures on the bottom and wondered if I can still win. My deck did not cooperate so I lost. In the second game I had Maelstrom Pulse in my hand hoping to deal with Jace. I was drawing cards trying to find any creature so I could deal some damage but the only creature I encountered was Creeping Tar Pit. I managed to deal enough damage to get my opponent down to 1 but then I kept drawing noncreature cards. I was down to 3 life down so I had to deal with any creature that showed up. I Abrupt Decay'ed two Mentors but then I was left without removal for Vendilion Clique that showed up some time later (my opponent having roughly ten cards in his library). We had a short chat afterwards that I enjoyed. The match was really nice one. During the whole match I really wanted to be the Miracles players and I was wondering for quite some time why the hell I play Shardless BUG.

My last round was against Lands. I was already too tired to play properly but I won one game and lost another one (I couldn't stop DD and Stage). In the last game I managed to deal with my opponent's Loam and had Loam of mine. I could destroy all his lands in quite a while and I started with Grove (don't ask me why) and Dark Depths. But I totally forgot about my opponent's Rishadan Port which in the end 'killed' me because my opponent played both Stage and DD and I lost since my Wasteland got tapped. This was very, very silly of me. I made few more misplays during the game that wouldn't really matter. I just totally screw this up...Winning this match would at least allow me to say 'I went 5:4'^_^.

Day 2

After the last round I felt like a total idiot and wanted to go home. One of the players made day 2 but had no place to stay so he joined me and Ondra for dinner. We played some games of Vintage and then we left to the flat I stay in. We discussed a trade. In the middle of the night we went to sleep but I couldn't fall asleep. I was bleeding from my nose, couldn't really breathe due to allergy and was probably to perturbed by my terrible performance the day before. I also knew that the following morning I should be helping with coverage and I wasn't really looking forward to it after possible 4 hours of sleep. At that time I did not know that those 4 hours would be more like 0.

After what seemed like ages at staring at the ceiling and trying to convince myself that opening modo is a bad idea I got up. I ate something and then we both headed for the bus station. In few minutes time we joined other players waiting to be let inside the expo hall. I talked to few people around and then headed the café to drink my morning coffee. A long day was awaiting me and thunderstorms were obviously coming since my head seemed like it wanted to burst and my spine/neck felt like someone would want to pith me with ...well... Pithing Needle.

After that I went to Lobo so I could help him with coverage for few hours. A new fun began. His notebooks were all very special. One couldn't connect to the internet, the other one was just freezing from time to time. So the sentence or two I wrote did not get even 'typed' and I had to wait for quite some time till I could work again. During my time there I checked the metagame seeing that it is dominated by Miracles, followed by Shardless BUG and Eldrazi. I've seen some strange decks making day 2. There were actually some Belcher players, few Dredge players and I even saw one Zombardment deck. Painter seemed as an oddity among all the decks as well but I guess it is nothing too surprising.

Then I was taking pictures of Czech and Slovak players I could find and weren't on feature match. I did nationality breakdown - not surprising that German players were at the top. Deck tech followed which was kinda fun.

Then it was time to put Vintage together and possible get back some of my decks from the main event. Matej was so nice and brought me lunch. We then went to play the Vintage Star Event for which I was very grateful but unfortunately knew I would most probably end up 0-5.

Our area was secured and we had two judges assigned that were keeping the area clear (apart from doing other stuff).

In round 1 I played against Sylvan Mentor. In game one for some reason I kept a hand with cantrip, counterspell, Pyromancer, Tundra and Island. I felt in my gut that this wasn't the best idea to keep. My opponent played Dack Fayden followed by Jace, the Mind Sculptor. I wanted to concede but wasn't still sure against what I play so I waited. Then I managed to draw and resolve Ancestral Recall or something and I started to catch up with my opponent's double walker card advantage. But then I had to face Mentor. I dealt with the first one but I couldn't deal with the second one that followed right after it. My opponent's only card in hand was Gush, followed by Treasure Cruise so I scooped. There was no reason to continue watching that...In game two I managed to play Young Pyromancer and create some tokens. I had Sulfur Elemental in my hand and hoped it would deal with Mentor somehow later. My opponent then played the Mentor and created a token. I played the Elemental at the end of his turn and then on my turn I attacked with my Elementals. One got blocked by the Mentor so things were looking good for me. But later my opponent played Dack Fayden and looted. I decided to keep FoW for something actually killing me and this seemed safe to let resolve since I could deal lethal damage next turn. My opponent played Time Walk then. I thought about it a bit and let it resolve. All I could think was Supreme Verdict but I totally forgot about Dromoka. My opponent tapped his six lands and I realized how screwed I am. He played the Dragonlord and let me play. I tried to exile the creature but that got countered. Then I was waiting for another Path but turn before I drew it my opponent played Supreme Verdict followed by Monastery Mentor. I exiled that card instead but another Mentor followed. I lost.

In the second round I played against Landstill but I was too dead to realize even that. My opponent started with an island which was fishy. With Strip Mine he destroyed one of my lands but that was still fine since I had one turn in which I could play Sulfur Elemental and start attacking. My opponent went down to 8 but in the meantime played Crucible of Worlds. He destroyed my lands and then even hit my fetchlands. Unfortunately my hand consisted of Sulfur Elemental and Young Pyromancer. Not really instants. Then he managed to deal with Elemental and I scooped. I wasn't convinced that I would draw Black Lotus so I could play my elemental and still win. It would most probably ended up countered (the Lotus I mean).

In the following round we played a game of 'whose draw is worse' rather than a game of Magic. I started with a hand of 5 lands, Mox and Lotus so I shipped that just to look at a hand with Strip Mine as the only land. I kept the following hand with Preordain, Ancestral Recall, one land and 2 PTE. I kept and hoped Preordain and/or Ancestral Recall would resolve. My opponent started with a Mox and a land but he didn't have double blue. So I tried to play my blue cards to actually find something I could kill him with. I somehow managed that. In another game I managed to play Stony Silence but our draws were really awesome. I drew Mox Sapphire, Stony Silence and four lands. My opponent was drawing his mana rocks and bunch of lands. I then drew Preordain hoping it would find something else than a land. I hit Lotus and Land so I put it on the bottom drawing Scalding Tarn (oh yeah THANK YOU). My opponent wasn't happy with me drawing the Preordain but did not see my cards. He started to complain a bit and drew his card. He also got something other than a land. It was Yawgmoth's Will. After checking his graveyard I did not find anything that would kill me right away (there was Demonic Tutor) so I still had a chance (two cards would be sufficient). I had Wear//Tear in my hand to deal with Time Vault. Next turn I drew Brainstorm and with the hope of finding something - either counterspell or some business - I saw PTE, Wear//Tear and Delver. I played Delver putting PTE on top of my library so I could deal with potential Colossus. Unfortunately my opponent put in play Inkwell Leviathan which I couldn't obviously deal with and not even outrace it. My two Wear//Tears were totally useless and PTE did not help either. I was very, very sad and scooped. The following game wasn't getting any better. But my draw was slightly better (should have been way better!) and I won the match. I was in a state that closing my eyes would mean fainting so I tried to get up (almost fainting and feeling terrible pain in my head) and fetch at least some coffee. I ordered double espresso and came back to our very secure area.

I tried to wake up and it helped a bit, but I was trembling hard. A storm was coming.

Next round I played against Merfolk. The first games were kind of sad either for me or my opponent. The last game was actually pretty cool. A very tight game. It felt like playing Tempo Twin against Modern Merfolk^_^. In one of the turns I counted everything and I knew that in 3 turns I would win the game. I just needed to kill one Lord and play Delver of Secrets. So I played the removal spell first so I could counter with Flusterstorm if need be. But then I passed the turn. My opponent already drew a card so I had to live with that. I was very angry and knew that against Merfolk this would be a serious problem especially when my plan was playing Sudden Shock, while I had 2 lands in play and was about to draw Treasure Cruise that I put on top so I could flip the damn Delver that I had in my hand-_-. So I took some damage and still could possibly win. After playing Treasure Cruise I managed to find Gush and Pyroblast. My opponent had Misdirection in his hand so I knew that one of my spells would get misdirected. In order to win though I needed to get 3 damage through but I couldn't since I did not have a third land so I could play both spells and still be able to Flusterstorm. This way I lost the game. I did not have energy to do anything, even talk. I could hardly hold my cards anyway.

The last round...I played against Leyline/Helm control deck. My opponent forgot to play his Leylines game 1 (because a judge was making an announcement and it knocked us both off-balance). I won the game later but I did not manage to win the deciding game. It was close and fun but the little bit of luck I needed went in my opponent's favor.

There goes my 81% lifetime Vintage win rate...

All the players were really nice and wish I could talk to them more but I did not have energy for that, I was trying to stay awake and calm but I wasn't really managing either. I met Titus Chalk though so I was glad I could greet him at least. He was on White Eldrazi in the tournament (traitor! ^_~) and was certainly doing better than me. I wanted to ask him if he could sign me his book and send it to me but I did not manage even that. A game would be nice too. I'd really want to try that matchup. But I think all I need to do is open modo and join a match.

After another fiasco of mine this time Vintage one, we continued to play more Vintage with Ondra and then I tried to get back the rest of my cards back. I was rather successful thanks to the players being cooperative this time (which was the first time this ever happened). So I put together Vintage Eldrazi out of Legacy Eldrazi hoping to try my deck against it later. But since in the following game I played I did not even manage to figure out that I cannot use my Moxen with MY OWN Stony Silence in play it was time for something more simple. So we ended up playing minimaster with SOI (We took some time to find some basics since none of us had any).

When I arrived back being totally dead I hoped to fall asleep but I was too full of emotion. Failure haunted me. The storm that raged outside before was gone though and no more was to come (since my body started to feel normal). Since I was alone this time in my room and knew for certain I wouldn't fall asleep I joined a Legacy League and wondered what players would be online. While waiting for my first match I read the names of the 4-0 opponents (because I had nothing else to do). Obviously, against whom I was matched? Yeah, someone with 4:0. I beat Shardless BUG and hit the button that would let me search for another opponent. I played against another BUG. I won. But while playing against this person I found out one very painful fact. When I tried to use Deathrite Shaman my client crashed with "This error might be unrecoverable, if this happens again, check this box to concede". I did not check the box and tried to proceed. So with each awesome Deathrite Shaman activation I spent some time reconnecting or using the ability few times because it did not want to give me my mana. Even though my opponent was in a situation he couldn't win the game I was forced to ping him to death with my Deathrite Shamans and it took me 15 minutes to do instead of like 3 minutes. My timer was down to 10 and I lost the second game. There was 3 minutes on my timer when the last game started. And well my opener showed Deathrite Shaman, fetchland, Wasteland, Liliana of the Veil and Shardless Agent. I kept and kind of lost...I was pretty angry. But decided to finish the remaining matches hopefully not being forced to use DRS ('fortunately' for me they died almost instantly). Modo even after all those restarts was acting weird and I lost a lot of time because of it and wondered what is going because cards started to target twice. I managed to win miraculously against Miracles in my last match though^^ (modo did work correctly for about 10 minutes in that game, so I used those to win as fast as possible, which was certainly not helping either as I did not have the time to think anything through well).

After this I wrote to WotC about this and I was told that they get reports like this from other players as well and that they investigate the issue. I got my entry back but since this problem was rather persistent I decided not to join another league. Thus not being able to play till after next downtime and went to sleep. That concludes my post...I guess?

In overall the GP was fun thanks to all the judges and players I could chat with and have fun. The tournaments were a disaster though. I guess I will have to reconsider my deck choice for Legacy Champs or learn how to play with the deck even when feeling like crap.

At least I got 175 PWPs from the GP, hehe.

Thanks goes also to all those people who supported me and helped me survive the GP.

Thanks for reading

Thursday, June 9, 2016

PureMTGO - EDH on Magic Online - Sydri, Galvanic Genius

Some time ago (in April) I wrote an article about my Sydri EDH but I did not feel like submitting it. A week ago I finally submitted the article so it is up at