I’ve noticed that I wait far too long to write new articles. I like what I publish to be thorough and well-written. But that means my work is usually late and way too long. It’s something I’ve always struggled with.
In order to put out more regular content, I’m starting this new series where I’ll give a quick summary of the Magic-related stuff I’ve been doing over the past week. This can range from weekly events I’ve gone to, decks that I’m testing, tournaments that I’m preparing for or thoughts on current events in the Magic world.
Standard and Draft Online
This week I was recovering from barely missing out on Day 2 of GP Providence. I played GB Delirium Aggro and while the deck felt great, I felt under-practiced. I played some more standard online with a few changes to the deck because I was enjoying playing it so much and continued having good success with it. I will be planning to continue running it with updates at any future standard PPTQs. I’ll have a list and report out for GP Providence at some point (hopefully sooner rather than later).
On Saturday, I headed to a sealed PPTQ at the Double Midnight Comics location in Concord, NH. I drove up with two other tournament regulars, Eric Blanchet and Jake Haversat. I was looking forward to playing sealed and had a good feeling heading into the tournament. The good times continued as Eric and I got to chat since we happened to be seated across from each other for deck registration.
Eric split the packs into two piles and I got to decide my own fate by choosing one. It turned out that I’m very smart, and my pool was pretty busted. I had a very straight-forward build, going into UG with Verdurous Gearhulk, Confiscation Coup, Saheeli’s Artistry, and Multiform Wonder. I even had a Glint-Nest Crane which was kind to me in the opening matches since two of my four bomb rares were artifacts.
I started 2-0 in matches that were not particularly close. I was feeling great, joking around and basically assumed I was locked for an easy top 8. I had top 8’d the previous two sealed PPTQs (with much worse decks) and was looking forward to a chance at redemption in the draft portion. As you may guess from this setup, things didn’t quite go as planned…
Jake and I were paired in round 3 and he knew the kind of bombs he was up against. He savagely outplayed me in game 1, which is what he needed in order to even make the game close. But I drew every rare in my deck and was able to win despite myself. I only needed one more game to be able to double-draw into the top 8. Then I got run over by a very aggressive curve from Jake in game 2. Then in game 3 I flooded out and quickly lost.
Even with a powerful deck, variance is a thing. I was bummed to see that match slip through my fingers, but I just needed to win the next round. For some reason, that loss hit me really hard though. I felt like my deck shouldn’t have lost, and especially losing game 3 by drawing very poorly really flipped my emotional state from carefree to defeated. You would’ve thought I was already knocked out but I was still 2-1 with a likely win-and-in coming up in round 4.
I tried to get my head on straight and put the loss behind me so that I could play tight but I just couldn’t shake it off. I kept two reasonable hands and got mana-screwed in both games 1 and 2. In game 1 I didn’t play much of anything. In game 2, I missed land drops and then got stuck on a single blue with double-blue spells in hand. Even with the mana issues, I could’ve made some plays differently and maybe had a chance that game. It’s important not to just blame the mana problems and realize what I could have done differently, but it felt bad either way.
I was out and it felt miserable. I don’t often get over-confident in Magic. In fact, I usually go into any game/match/tournament with low or reserved expectations. This may be a strength or a weakness, I’m not sure which, but either way it’s usually how I operate. This time however, at 2-0 I had already given myself a spot in the top 8 before the rest of the matches were even played. It’s easy to say that I got unlucky (and I did), but I know my over-confidence also contributed to a poor mental state during the games when I started getting behind. I was thinking ‘don’t blow this’ or ‘you can’t lose with this deck’ rather than just focusing on playing solid Magic and letting the results happen naturally.
I let myself sulk for an hour or so, but then I actually enjoyed watching the top 8 draft. Jake and Eric had both made it in after going undefeated in the swiss. It was fun to be able to observe three seats in one corner of the draft to see how the picks unfolded. Watching coverage of a single drafter at a table is interesting, but getting to view multiple seats and see how each drafter affects the others is a different and cool perspective. Unfortunately they both ended up losing and we headed home after dinner and a beer.
GP Dallas Prep
GP Dallas is coming up next weekend so I’ve been thinking about what to play in it. I’m not excited about playing modern so it’s not a format I want to do a lot of testing for. I played a lot of modern over the last few months between GP Indianapolis and the modern PPTQ season anyway.
I had been running GW Hatebears at most of these events, though I’m not looking forward to playing it again. It’s a fine deck but it does have its issues. I’ll write a deck tech on the archetype soon so I’ll wait to get into some of the specifics. I am considering playing Infect, especially with the addition of Blossoming Defense. Similarly, I think if I were to just pick a deck on power level, I might play Dredge. But even though they are great decks, I don’t think I’d enjoy piloting either of them through a 15 round tournament.
In a world where Infect, Affinity and Dredge are king, I felt like I could put together a decent version of Jund that could beat those decks. I borrowed a few cards on Sunday and jumped into a Modern league after tuning the sideboard to beat these linear decks. In my 5 matches I played against and lost to Monoblue Tron, Ad Nauseum, Bant Eldrazi and RG Valakut, finishing 1-4. It’s a lesson I’ve learned many times, but the modern metagame is just too unpredictable to build a fair deck that’s targeted to beat certain strategies.
Ironically, this puts me back on Hatebears, at least for now. You would think that GW Hatebears is just a terrible version of Jund. If the metagame isn’t predictable, how can you know what Hatebears to put in your deck? The answer is that with GW you get your advantage by disrupting the opponent’s mana. Often it doesn’t matter what strategy your opponent is playing if you can disrupt their mana just long enough to keep them off balance.
And that was my week in Magic.