At The Gathering - Adversity and Eldrazi
We humans are unique but challenges are not. Overcoming challenges can be a very lonely road at times. We talk and teach about a lot of things here at StarCityGames.com. Things like expectations Improvement Advantage work ethic what's your plan do this don't do that etc.
As important as these things are and they are important we fail to address what is the most important ingredient to "Success." That would be "Adversity." However I want to touch on the word success for just a moment and then we will get back to how adversity is the catalyst in this whole success thing.
What is success? I used to think success was what I had or was able to buy or who I was able to beat. I thought it had some sort of prestige to it maybe how I am respected in the community or better yet how many people knew my name. When I go to a side event at Grand Prix: Oakland and Eric Levine knows my name already is that success? Most of us are involved in Magic in one form or another in some form of competition… gotta win go Go GO. How do you view success?
Moving back to adversity I guess the question is what are you going to do today and most importantly what are you going to tackle? That is an action word in case you didn't know. For most of us maybe not all but likely most we have had at least one time in our life when adversity hit us right square in the face and all we could do was just sit there. Probably not from Magic but somewhere in life it hit us hard. When it hit we didn't do a thing about it we just worried over the thousands of things that might happen. We just shut down from fear. If we didn't shut down we found some way to ignore it and find something more to our liking like… a new job a different school maybe a new spouse or a new friend. We make these changes in life to find a light at the end of the tunnel. You know keep moving and the adversity and issues will go away. I know I’ve been there and done that. Some of you may not have ever had that situation or haven’t ever been had this reaction. You can just read this article and say "That's not me I can handle everything". Really great good for you. Go ahead and skip down a few paragraphs. I'll just finish this section off by talking to all of those that are not "Super- human."
Some of you are just finding out what adversity is all about. It affects every area of our life. How each individual handles the adversity personal or work or Magic or whatever is dependent on how much one has had to handle it and how often they overcame it with action. You see that is the true definition of success. Standing up and attacking the problem at whatever level you are at on the learning curve of "Life" and not avoiding the action needed. It's nothing other than that. LSV once mentioned he took a step forward in his Magic Career when he just started playing the best deck (I’m paraphrasing an anecdote but the analogy holds). Even at his level he found a way to overcome adversity. I believe this to be true. If you earn a $15000.00 Rolex or just were able to achieve the deposit to the new apartment you qualified for it all creates the same feeling. It's that winning feeling only you alone can experience. The key is when you sit down at the end of the day and crack open that can of whatever you drink are you able to say "Job well done."
All too often though what happens is we focus on the worry and not the solution or the action required to press on through the fire. What you will find is you can not only get through the fire but you will hardly be singed from it. Fear is a paper tiger. It may look scary but it has no meat behind it. It has no inherent power except for when we don't call its bluff. If you’re in Magic and your Tournament / Season / Career is mediocre but you are used to being "The Guy / Girl" well… Maybe this is the miracle you have been waiting for to become better at what you do. For some maybe you are ready to not worry about the standings or the matchups or the play mistakes. Maybe you’re ready for the playtesting the matchup analysis and the honest critique the “whatever” that you need to take that next step. You know start doing things you were either not motivated to do or maybe just plain scared. Its okay we have all been there. Maybe you’re new to the game but you’re just not sure this hobby is quite for you. Or maybe you have been with us a while and really haven't achieved like you thought you would and you’re finding it's a lot harder than you expected. Do you really want to forfeit any opportunity to win a battle for your confidence which will be a big part of winning the war of fortifying your character? Checking out just pretending the situation will just go away will not address the issue.
Starting today look for something that will stretch you and if you’re dealing with issues tackle them with action. If everything is just peachie keen then find something tough to punch in the face to get you going. I was once given a pretty powerful statement: “You can be on the right track but if you’re not moving forward it doesn’t matter.”
I will leave you with this. If you’re finding that things are tough and you would like to be anywhere but here then find that Old Warrior that has gone the road less traveled but who is very much battle tested and is still fighting the fight. Every community has one and if you can’t find it locally hit up the forums. You know them by their scars but most important you will know them by their experience and wisdom in most areas. They will generally never refuse to help. Sometimes they will want to do it for you but they know if they do it will rob you of your chance to be truly successful. You’re going to have to make a decision to go through it yourself.
Remember "Action Cures Fear."
I had the opportunity to go through two drafts this weekend and I want to share the decks themselves and some initial thoughts on the format I have.
The first draft I did was interesting as no one at the table had drafted RoE before and therefore took longer for picks and meant signals went kind of haywire. Players were double-taking as they saw what they thought were bombs coming by and it seemed like everyone at the table wanted to fight over Black. I ended up drafting one Black card early in pack two but after that it dried up and I never really considered it unless I was getting shipped the nuts. Later in pack 2 I believe pick 4 or 5 I was sent a Coralhelm Commander. I realized I already had 1 or 2 Merfolk and Blue was wide open so I took him and ended up with the deck below.
I was dismayed to see that the truly legitimate Blue bomb Sphinx of Magosi had been opened by the Blue/ Green Mage 2 seats up. Nonetheless I felt confident in this:
3 Ulamog's Crusher
1 Artisan of Kozilek
1 Coralhelm Commander
2 Halimar Wavewatch
2 Mnemonic Wall
1 Merfolk Observer
1 Champion's Drake
1 Frostwind Invoker
2 Phantasmal Abomination
1 Skywatcher Adept
1 Jwari Scuttler
1 Venerated Teacher
I went 2-1 with what is obviously a slower deck losing to a G/r deck with Tramply beasties specifically Bramplesnap rolling out before I could get set up. I was just a touch too slow to stabilize.
Venerated Teacher was absolutely nuts with levelers and comes highly recommended obviously. With just one leveler out he was incredibly valuable. With two or more insane.
One of the more memorable moments from the draft include the following exchange:
Me: Cast Skittering Invasion
Kurt (With Soul’s Attendant on the board): Okay
Me: Move to combat
Me: Declare [some guy] attacking
Kurt: I… Crap I just missed five life didn’t I?
I know I said last week that there would be a lot of missed triggers on that and I’m not surprised to hear stories from a lot of places about players missing out on free life points with it.
Thankfully I ran over Kurt in the late game pretty soundly so it didn’t directly matter. Kurt drafted the following night getting triple Soul’s Attendant and a Skittering Invasion of his own. I’m told he gained ten life on one of his castings. Seems good.
The second night of draft was our actual launch party. I first picked something I can’t recall right now and then was passed a Sphinx of Magosi. Thanks for the sign I’ll be moving onto Team Blue now. Blue was actually being drafted right ahead of the guy that opened the Sphinx so I ended up in U/R with a ton of removal and the following:
I thought this deck would play out rather well but I ended up only 1-2 with it. I think a large part of it was not enough creatures. While I have lots of removal only ten creatures two of which have defender just isn’t going to cut it even in this slower environment. The deck needs more ways to slow down the early onslaught before it can take control with its big beaters.
So far while Rise of the Eldrazi is definitely a slower Limited environment there are definitely viable aggro options available meaning you may never get to 8 mana to cast your cheapest Eldrazi Creature. Also as is the norm avoid going too low on your creature count as I did above.
I’m going to continue working on Polly Tramp which is posting decent records but still needs further work. Hopefully I’ll have a WPN Championship qualifier report for you in the next few weeks (it’s May 8 for us).
Until next time this is Jeff Phillips reminding you: Don’t make the Loser Choice.
Teflon_Jeff on Twitter
P.S. Mad props to Lincoln Fogel for the assist on the Adversity section.