Friday, July 22, 2016

Pokemon GO trainer and Pikachu

This is how my trainer looks like in Pokemon Go. So that's me - stsungjp - in Pokemon GO. And well I tried drawing Pikachu ^^.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

World Magic Cup Qualifier Modern

This weekend was the second World Magic Cup weekend. This time the format was Modern and I hoped it wouldn't be overrun by Eldrazi anymore or too many Nahiris/Emrakul.

For the past two weeks I haven't really felt well and since I couldn't and still can't think straight I decided not to play in any tournaments that require an entrance fee. During that period I discovered that there is 100 Card Singleton community and I played pretty much only 100CS prior to the WMCQ instead of playing Modern. I can't express how humiliating it was. It all started with my Mirran Crusader attacking into Genju of the Fields because I managed to forget about it, not putting blue mana in my mana pool, before fetching with Knight of the Reliquary and then trying to animate Celestial Colonnade so I could attack for lethal. It all ended with me not playing Siege Rhino that was pretty much the only card I needed to solve all my problems (because it had Trample and thus would deal the damage I needed)

At the end of the week after not really playing Modern I decided to play at least some Modern. While at it I tried SaffronOlive's budget Red-White Allies. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw my Eldrazi playing opponent chumping with cards like Thought-Knot Seer and Reality Smasher.

After some funny games in the Tournament Practice Room it was time to join one Modern tournament at least. It was very embarrassing as well, especially taking into an account that I am actually used to play Jund in any format (except Vintage). I managed to mess up more or less everything I could. The worst is to actually watch yourself play and know that what you are doing is just wrong but you can't stop it. After this experience I wasn't really sure if I would actually participate in the WMCQ because I knew this was bound to happen again. I wasn't really sure if I could stand feeling so embarrassed again. At the WMCQ others would actually see me play and could mock me right there. I wouldn't be able to explain why I play that badly.

I had to bring few decks and cards to other WMCQ participants so I had to arrive to the site no matter what. In the morning I woke up feeling pretty bad. Actually worse than in the past few days. I got up took everything I needed (or at least I thought so) and left the flat (managed to take my keys^_^, which I managed to forgot last time). I went to the subway. There I realized that something is wrong. That the numbers written on my hand telling me how to get to the site obviously do not apply. I facepalmed myself and wondered what to do. In the end I reluctantly connected to the internet and searched for another way to get to the site (because the one I had written down would mean I would arrive at 9:56 to bus station near the site and I still needed to walk there...). I learned that in 30 seconds I should be on a train in the opposite direction I was originally heading. So I ran there while making a screenshot of the thing if my memory would fail. When I arrived at the bust stop there were already other players there. After this fiasco I knew I would get to the site just fine. I wondered what else could possibly go wrong.

We got off the bus and did not wait for another bus to take us where we needed but decided to walk there instead (we were faster than the bus). That was a rather difficult task for my condition and I tried not to faint and walk straight. I managed to get to the site fine though.

There I was told by few people that I am late bringing decks. I couldn't even manage an angry stare but I provided the players with cards and decks they wanted. I brought the decks but obviously there were cards I left in the flat (even though I found them the night before.). I went then to the TO asking him if I could play in the tournament while not having any money. The TO was willing to buy the Abrupt Decay so I registered for the tournament. I expected it to be a total failure (it kind of was in the end) but I hoped for some fun (but I should have known better, Jund does not equal fun).

Since I had no idea about the field I decided to play the deck I played at most PTQs in Modern format - Jund. Jund is a very good deck and I would consider it one of the best but I think that the power of Jund is actually waning (with that I want to say that the deck is not that overpowered as it used to be). Not so long time ago I entered few Legacy Leagues also with (Punishing) Jund. Some of the rounds I played against Shardless BUG and I have to say that the worst I could see were suspended Ancestral Visions. Even though from time to time I managed to counter some of them, it usually meant game over for me if Ancestral Vision resolved. I felt I'd rather be on the blue side. After few battles with Shardless BUG and ran into Show and Tell and Storm. Even though I got my entry back for this League I have to say that playing Shardless BUG would have been better.

After the first WMCQ I wanted to give a Grixis Midrange a try. I put some list together. It ran Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, Goblin Dark-Dwellers, Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, Snapcaster Mage, Ancestral Vision, combination of removal spells Terminate, Lightning Bolt, Kolaghan's Command etc. After a while playing with it I was cutting more and more creatures. The first to go was Jace and Kalitas. Slowly I was cutting Goblins till only Snapcaster Mages and Tasigur stayed. A card I overlooked while I tried putting my deck together was Spell Snare so I put that in. In the end I even played Mana Leak that I wanted to avoid, 2 Cryptic Commands, Thought Scour and Serum Visions. After thinking about some crazy ideas like running Delvers of Secret in the sideboard and even moving Ancestral Vision there I decided to abandon this deck and rather play Jund because I expected that I do not understand anything and would be better to play a deck I know. After the WMCQ though, it was clear that my deckbuilding process actually went in the right direction. I gave up too early.

So here is the deck I played at the WMCQ.

Round 1 - mirror

I was paired against a player who plays Jund more or less all the time and plays very slowly. Playing a mirror match is fine but since I really needed to eat something and drink (and I did not manage to take something with me) I hoped for a fast match. Seeing the player I was paired against I was sure we would go to time. Ondra is the one who saved me and got all I needed and I am very grateful for that (since he won the previous WMCQ he wasn't playing this one). I started with mulligan to five keeping a hand that wasn't really any good but I at least had two lands. As expected the game did not go well at all. In the second game I was wondering how to sideboard but in the went for I need all the value my sideboard can provide and less control. The game was taking a long time and I already missed the third Scavenging Ooze I wanted to put in my deck before the tournament started. After staring at my opponent's third Ooze that was already quite big and threatening to kill me I managed to top deck what I needed and with the help of my opponent's Dark Confidant I won. During the game I could spot mistakes my opponent was doing so I was wondering if I can actually play better than in the last 14 days. The answer in the end was yes, but unfortunately I also needed a bit of luck. In the deciding game I was the favored player from the start but later I drew three land in a row while my opponent drew exactly the cards he needed getting rid of my creatures and won the game in the 5 additional turns we had.

Round 2 - Ad Nauseam

In the following round I played against a player that does not often play (if at all) Modern. Actually few Vintage players managed to be sitting next to each other at the last tables. My opponent started with land, Lotus Bloom so I knew what I face and I wasn't particularly happy about that. My hand consisting of no discard, 1/1 Grim Lavamancer and 0/1 Tarmogoyf did not seem the best since I couldn't control my opponent's hand nor try to beat him as fast as possible. The turn before Lotus Bloom's resolution I was wondering if I should destroy his Pentad Prism or try to wait for the Bloom. If I would destroy the Prism I would swing exactly for the life total I needed so my opponent would go down to 0 and then I would be able to deal the following 10 damage (11 actually). Usually Bloom that resolves mean GG so I went for destroying the Prism and just either dying next turn or my opponent. I did not die though which made me angry. I attacked for 7 letting my opponent go down to 0 and passed the turn (Phyrexian Unlife was in play). He spent quite a lot of time thinking and then played Spoils of the Vault. He hit Ad Nauseam soon, it was the second card from top and unfortunately this meant that he did not remove his win conditions from the game. I let him show me the combo and then it was time for game 2. I mulled which wasn't good. When I finally kept my 5 cards without any disruption but 3 creatures and 2 land, my opponent put Leyline of Sanctity in play. I frowned and played my land. My opponent went land, Bloom, go. 3 turns later I was dead. Silly deck, but resilient one and I'm glad not so many players actually play it.

Seriously what kind of deck is this? It does not really seem any fun...for either side.

Round 3 - Naya Burn
Next it was me against Naya Burn. I won the die roll so I was on the play. I played Blackcleave Cliffs -> Inquisition of Kozilek just to see Atarka's Command, Wild Nacatl, Searing Blaze, Goblin Guide, Mountain, Mountain. Since then I tried to save as much life as I could before I could manage to play Tarmogoyf or Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet. It was Kalitas that showed up first after I lost half of my life. I played it and my opponent scooped not being able to kill me neither Kalitas. In game two he got flooded. Even though I got 10 land in total as well I actually got a creature big enough to block anything and that could still survive a bolt effect. My opponent was unlucky and couldn't draw anything that would help him.

Jund needs its opposing deck to provide the pilot with blanks for few turns. But Kitchen Finks help post-board.

Round 4 - UW Control

In this round I played against a pretty cool deck (UW Control). This was the kind of control I wanted to play years ago with (Kitchen Finks, Snapcaster Mages and Restoration Angels. My opponent was stuck at two land so I tried to use that opportunity and beat him but my deck wasn't cooperating as well. After I managed to get rid of his all three removal and Mana Leak leaving him with Cryptic Command and Restoration Angel I finally managed to keep a creature in play - Dark Confidant. My opponent though played 3 Ancestral Visions in the meantime and the first one was about to resolve. All the card advantage I got was soon to be lost and I knew that I'm screwed but I could still possibly win since he was down to 2 life. I tried Bolting him before he untaps in one of his turns having mana open for Mana Leak but what I did not expect was Mana Tithe and thus I lost (he had three mana open and Cryptic Command on his had, thus I had to try). This certainly put me on tilt. Jund can hardly deal with several resolved Ancestral Visions. In game two I kept a hand with disruption but nothing that could get through my opponent's hand stripped of all counterspells which was bad. So I decided to let him keep his Mana Leak and target two Serum Visions. I managed to deal with Mana Leak later hoping I could play my Liliana of the Veil or whatever would show up. Unfortunately when something did show up my opponent already had an answer for it. Some time later it actually seemed that I would stabilize the game when my opponent played Batterskull. I could deal with that since I actually had two cards in my hand dealing with that threat. I destroyed Batterskull and played Dark Confidant. My opponent played Timely Reinforcements though which totally screwed me up. I couldn't attack and I had no creature to deal with those tokens. I put Duress in my hand out of Confidant, played it just to see 2 Snapcaster Mages in my opponent's hand. That was a nightmare... Later I managed to have Tarmogoyf in play. But it would be my fourth attack that would finally deal damage. In the meantime my opponent resolved Ancestral Vision and drew 2 (Restoration Angels). He had Celestial Colonnade active (that at the time could even block Tarmogoyf). I drew Dreadbore that could possibly deal with one Angel. But still couldn't deal with Celestial Colonnade and the other Angel swinging for lethal. I lost to those creatures' attack and I wasn't really happy about it. I think that this game could have played out differently.

Round 5 - Grixis Delver

In the following round still fighting at the last tables I was paired against a player who actually plays well (was the best player I encountered so far) and if I would force my brain to think at least a bit I would knew that I would be facing Grixis Delver and that I should certainly fear some cards. I haven't seen too many Delvers though and my opponent was colored screwed. I wasn't any better off though. I tried playing some spells while trying to avoid as much counterspells as I could while discarding threats. I won the game. Post-board I was sure to face Blood Moon but I didn't really mind that much since I could still play cards even with one basic in play. The card that ruined my game though was Ancestral Vision. When I saw my opponent play it I became sad. I knew that I couldn't possibly beat that. It was ticking and fast. Jund is not the fastest deck especially while facing counterspells and I lost the last game as well. We had lots of fun though and some onlookers found it funny too. What else we can do at the last tables except having fun (or obviously drop)?

Round 6 - Burn

At the beginning of this round I realized that my record is 1:4 and that it is really bad record and maybe I should go back to my flat after all. On the other hand it wasn't me who colossally managed to lose the games. I did my best. Mistakes I've done I tried to smooth out but to no avail. Out of the matches I lost I could have won only against the UW Control. So it was time to beat some people and at least try to go 4:4. I doubted that though since I knew I played rather sloppily even though not outright badly. I played against Burn again. I won the die roll and played a discard spell so I knew what can happen and how many damage my opponent will possibly be able to deal. I won the first game thanks to Kalitas. I lost the second due to me playing my lands in incorrect order. So next time when I will need a green source and the only one I have is Raging Ravine I should play it! (*facepalm*). In the last game we both had way more land than nonland cards but finally I drew Tarmogoyf and everything seemed to be fine for me.

Break - Burn
After our match was over I asked my opponent if he would be willing to play few more games but this time against Naya Burn. He agreed so I took out Naya Burn someone else was playing with and dropped and tried my luck. After drawing my seven I stared at it and realized I stare at something totally unknown to me. Nevertheless I had 2 lands, Goblin Guide, Monastery Swiftspear and few burn spells. After some calculations about certain scenarios that could possibly happen I just played the way I would deal maximum damage as fast as possible. I tried to pay attention to fetching in a way so I wouldn't necessarily lose 3 life and that I could play without green or white if I was certain I can win without Boros Charm/Lightning Helix (expected like 2 in the deck?) or Atarka's Command. The most difficult decisions where about Eidolons of the Great Revel and if I want to actually go all-in and hope my opponent won't kill me with his 1 or 2 cards while I have 7 life (easy decision but one going against my will). Those games we played all ended in my favor no matter if I was on play or not. It was actually a nice change after all those rather boring games with Jund. I learned that not only sequencing the spells is required to pilot the deck well. Playing lands and fetching is very important (so next time when I want to talk about cracking fetches I found a deck in which it is truly important) and that is where I gained most advantage against my opponent. Eidolon when my opponent was ahead was pretty bad so I guess this is a card one would side out on the draw along with Lavamancer that was pretty annoying in that situation as well. Being on play actually showed me that the card actually matters.

Round 7

When I arrived to table 33 my opponent was there but he did not really look pleased. Well, who would be with the records we had there^_^. He started with Celestial Colonnade and I actually smiled. After he played Soulfire Grand Master I smiled even more. It seemed that we could actually have some fun. I killed the Grand Master since my plan was attacking and killing my opponent as swiftly as my deck would allow. My only creature was Grim Lavamancer though^^. The card killed 3 Soulfire Grand Masters though till I drew other creatures that I played and tried to kill my opponent with them. This wasn't the best idea as it showed later, my creatures were wiped and I had to face Restoration Angel and full grip of cards. I managed to draw some Dark Confidants and Tarmogoyfs so I tried playing my first Confidant hoping it would lure out Spell Snare and played Tarmogoyf then that was bound to survive for a while. When that resolved unlike Confidant I cast Terminate on Restoration Angel. It died. I won later. Next game I looked at my opponent's hand containing Soulfire Grand Master, Spell Snare, Restoration Angel, Geist of Saint Traft and Ghost Quarter. My opponent was capable playing only Soulfire Grand Master so I did not need to fear the rest. But in the almost any card can deal Grand Master. I discarded Geist because there was no Liliana around. My opponent was stuck with three lands for quite some time and thus was unable to use his Ghost Quarter on my Raging Ravine that finally decided to showed up (for some reason I hardly saw tis card during the tournament, I did against both Burn players). He managed to put his fourth land into play and deal with my manland. Unfortunately I had no way of getting rid of the Angel. My Dark Confidant was still on the table though so I hoped to draw something. He did and I won.

Break - Merfolk
Once again I took out Burn out of its box and tried playing against Merfolk. While looking at my hand I realized that those Lightning Bolts won't most probably target the annoying Lords but rather my opponent. After trying to reconcile with this fact I played Lava Spike and passed the turn. My opponent played Cursecatcher. I stared at it for a while realizing that this creature (especially in bigger numbers) will be an issue. It started to dawn on me that this match up is not really great for the Burn player. Another Cursecatcher followed and I tried to count if I can win if I get delayed by those Cursecatchers. The maths wasn't really good if my opponent would have 2 lords instead of one (which was very likely). So well I tried and it worked out. Anyway this change of perspective was rather brutal and I did not like it much. I lost only a game in which I kept totally BAD hand and my opponent played 4 Spreading Seas that game. But even one can totally wreck this deck's game obviously.

Round 8

In this round my Thoughtseize revealed Nahiri, the Harbinger, Path to Exile, Electrolyze, Celestial Colonnade, Glacial Fortress, Sulfur Falls. I stared at the hand uncomprehending for a while. My hand with three Dark Confidants had to somehow win the game with my opponent not being able to play much with all those comes into play tapped lands. Unfortunately it was not to be. Even though I got some additional cards out of the Confidants I died later. In the next game it was a fight against Nahiri rather against my opponent and I awaited Emrakul, the Aeons Torn to kill me even though it did not.

After this tournament I was glad I played 4 Confidants (my original decklist had 3 of them + 3 Kalitases). I would cut one Kalitas for Scavenging Ooze. Even though it did not really fare well online it certainly would in our WMCQ meta. After the tournament I collected all my cards (almost) and then we went to eat something in the restaurant downstairs. One of the decks I was lending was Jeskai Control deck and wanted to give it a try. It felt good. My brain switched to some other part (other than the one piloting Jund) and playing the deck was actually enjoyable, especially while facing another Jeskai Control. When I played my Celestial Colonnade my opponent made a remark about the price tag on my card. I bought it for 11 bucks. Well, I guess I should change the sleeve later. After few games of 'who is better - Nahiri or Geist (Geist being the winner)' we left the site.

The day was long and still part of it was before me. After the whole day I wasn't really sure what to think of Modern or me as a Jund pilot. Playing the blue deck felt completely different and maybe I should just play with it, no matter my results with it. After this tournament I'm not sure if I will attend the last WMCQ this year. If I really want to have fun, I should play something blue. If I want to play and have chances to win, I should start playing Modern and actually figure out in what state the format is now. But obviously for the latter I had zero motivation. I wanted to play other formats instead be it Vintage, Legacy or Highlander. Even staring at Thing in the Ice and not being able to do anything about it... was better than playing Jund at this tournament.

Thank you for reading. You can reach me @stsungjp on Twitter or modo (stsung).