Every Magic Article Ever
Overblown Prose Intro In Italics
I was literally dead. If my opponent flipped his Delver and attacked it was the end of me.
I fought to swallow back down a mouthful of sick but couldn't stop the quaking tremor in my tapping leg as a warm dampness spread down it and into my well-worn trainer.
I was at three life.
I was going to die.
I drew my card for the turn. Land. I kept it with the three others already in my hand and passed the turn.
Salty tears ran down my face as I looked up to the yellow-stained shop ceiling silently praying for it to be over. A watching friend choked up as he tried to ask if I had any last requests and whether I'd updated my will recently. Others couldn't even bear to look. Someone fainted.
I'll miss you dear friends.
"Upkeep Delver... Reveal Ponder flip?"
I love you always [girlfriend's name].
"Attack with Delver?"
Tournament Report Full To The Brim With "Hilarious" Stories
After cutting out of class at lunchtime on Friday I and the rest of the [local game store] ringers piled into the pimpmobile for the four-hour drive down to [tournament location]. We had baller-in-chief yours truly durdlemaster Ryan B the icy manipulator (of drunk chicks and control decks) Jamie D and pimpmobile pilot Mikey. In case you didn't guess the pimpmobile is an ironic name for Mikey's riced-out '93 Toyota Corolla. As a saving grace after the embarrassing chipped paint and duct-taped wing mirror it does have a CD player.
The journey down was relatively uneventful and there were definitely no embarrassing Lady Gaga or Millionaires sing-alongs. None whatsoever. Ryan did make himself carsick reading articles on his phone though and puked out of the back window all over a tour bus behind us on the freeway. Sick move bro! (Get it?)
Ryan got all cleaned up after we checked into the [hotel motel]. We had a few beers and some dinner at the pseudo-Mexican place next door then did a final bit of testing back in the room. And being the good little darlings we clearly are we had an early night and got to dreaming about dragons before midnight!
Aside On Tournament Preparation
Speaking of turning in significantly earlier and soberer than is usual for me (we ball so hard you know it playa) one of the most important (non-testing) things you can do to prepare for tournament success is to get a good night's sleep. Even if your body might be able to handle only a couple of hours of sleep your mind needs to be well rested for you to operate at optimal mental capacity. That extra 20% of brainpower you get could mean the difference between a blue envelope and an epic punt into second place. We've all heard the story of the guy who rocks up at the PTQ without going to bed and sweeps the whole thing but we're biased towards retelling epic positive stories rather than the far more commonplace 1-2 puntsies scoopsies dropsies.
It's also equally imperative that you remain well fed and hydrated as the tournament goes on. Even if you start out with a well-conditioned body and mind it's unlikely that zero food and four cans of Red Bull are going to keep you at that peak level regardless of what the adverts tell you. High-sugar high-caffeine drinks may give you a brief high but you'll quickly crash again the perfect time for your opponents to pounce and destroy you. Caffeine will also dehydrate you which has a negative effect on brain function (that's science). So eat food that will provide a constant steady stream of energy rather than a brief spike and drink plenty of water or isotonic sports drink to maintain hydration. (If you must have some caffeine at least go out in style and make it a Four Loko.)
Finally and without going into unnecessary detail on this matter make sure to go to the bathroom before you leave for the day and between rounds if necessary. No one ever won a tense who-will-blink-first control mirror while fidgeting in their seat desperate to go drop a deuce/not wet their pants.
The following morning Jamie and I quickly learned just how thin the wall between the bathroom and rest of the room was much to our amusement. Following Mikey's aggressive "goldfishing" in the shower (we knew who the beatdown was!) Ryan took a turn. As it turns out he likes to have a bit of a sing to himself in the shower. To the tune of that Bruno Mars Billionaire song it went something like this:
"I wanna be a Pro Tour player
So freakin' bad
Buy all of those foils I never had
I wanna be on the home page of
Premium between Kibler and Chapin..."
And so on. It was a laugh riot as they might say in books.
Then we finished resleeving our decks and writing our lists up (only scrubs do it at the venue jeez) and wandered across the overpass to yet another delightful convention center/aircraft hangar.
So you're probably desperate to hear what I was battling with right about now huh? Well... I'd been hollering at my boy [popular pro] the last two weeks on Facebook but for some reason he didn't accept my friend request or reply to my messages asking for an update on his [format-defining aggro-control deck]. Oh well guess I'll just do the hard work for him! Here's the hotness:
[Decklist 64/75 of popular pro's list from 2.5 weeks ago that he said he wouldn't play again because the format was getting a bit too hostile. The twelve changes don't make any obvious sense.]
It's basically my own build of [format-defining aggro-control deck] which I chose to play over [omnipresent ramp deck control or mono-colored aggro deck] because I like to leverage my play skill with a controlling deck that involves a lot of decision-making and can proactively finish three games in a reasonable time frame if necessary (but I only need two obv). The changes fine-tune the deck for my expected meta at [tournament] with the five [good sideboard cards] cut for two [worse sideboard cards] and three [random one-ofs] as I didn't expect to play against [omnipresent ramp deck] much in the winner's bracket. I also swapped out two of the usual four [expensive planeswalkers] for [undercosted evasive threats] due to
cost reasons no one liking me enough to lend them preferring a slightly more aggressive approach and tweaked the counter and removal suite for no discernible reason to my own specification.
Rounds 1-3: Byes (Won an 11-player GPT at some new store I kept on the DL)
Round 4: My opponent had somehow lucked his way to 3-0 from no byes with a knife in this proverbial gunfight. I was Indiana Jones; he got utterly destroyed 2-0.
Round 5: Finally we got to play against an actual human opponent with the mirror match. I drew excellently and crushed him 2-0.
Round 6: Undefeated along with my boys [popular pro] [handsome pro] and [rogue deck builder pro] I waited near the feature match area expecting my name to be called. It wasn't and the nut-highs were ignoring me for some reason—guess they didn't want to let on what they were playing in case we got paired or something. I played against some fish running [control]; he drew terribly and I crushed him 2-0.
Round 7: Still no feature match what is this?! Anyway I finally went to three games and sadly lost despite my tight technical play mainly due to my opponent's above-average draws. 1-2.
Round 8: It's cool just win one of the next two to make Day 2 easy money. But no my deck decided to not cooperate with me in another mirror while my opponent made some
excellent very strange plays and beat me about the head anyway. 0-2.
Round 9: Win and in baby! No feature match again and I was paired against some drooling nobody playing [omnipresent ramp deck]. How the hell did he get to 6-2 with that mess?
Anyway I utterly destroyed him after countering his threats in the first game and then in the second game he started whining about how I wasn't playing fast enough. Excuse me buddy but I'm the one playing the deck with actual decisions here and if I need a little time to make them I'll take it thanks. You carry on searching your library for lands and hoping your giant monsters don't get countered okay? He went on like this for a bit and then cried to a judge about it who sat there pestering me to make a play (probably so he could go and take his Commander fun-points exam) until he decided that my opponent couldn't win unless I received a game loss. Such haters. I appealed as floor judges are always wrong but the Head Judge upheld it and told me to calm down. At this point I was livid and tilting. I kept a promising one-lander but never drew a second land while my opponent played six on the trot and two huge guys. The lesson here is that if you play a skill-less deck judges will feel sorry for you and make your opponent throw away matches. FML.
Obviously the chundermaster Ryan made day 2 at 8-1 with some homebrew nonsense probably because he called judges a lot. FML.
Aside On Tilt
Tilt is a mental state of broken confidence and broken concentration. Everyone reading this knows exactly what I mean. When we say that we're "on tilt" it means that something has happened in a given game or match of Magic that has so emotionally unsettled us that we're now playing in a way that is very different from our original plan.
However since tilt is (by definition) emotional and not necessarily rational it's not as simple as just deciding "I'm not going to tilt today." Being resilient against tilt is above all about generating positive experiences habits and feelings.
The ones who can't manage tilt are the ones who fail. Ever notice that you rarely if ever see any of the top pros rage after a loss? Regardless of the circumstance—don't let tilt get you. Don't let destructive thought loops into your head. You're going to make mistakes. It's going to happen. Take a walk after a bad beat. Go to the bathroom wash your face and collect your thoughts.
Tilt is a part of the game. Practice such that you can minimize it. If I came up on the wrong end of an unlucky break I accept it and move on. Nothing feels better than being on a huge tilt and coming back and winning.
After a seriously late night of consolation partying (which was great despite never finding the bar [handsome pro] said he and the other brofessionals would be at) Jamie Mikey and myself checked out of the hotel room just before the noon deadline and rolled up to the [venue] to see Ryan sitting at the top of the standings after round 12. Way to go buddy we knew you could do it. That deck we worked on in the car really broke it huh!
After testing the bathroom porcelain's resistance to stomach acid I downed a Red Bull signed up for a [side event] and took Mikey's Reanimator deck out for a spin. Obviously with a DI like me piloting a top-tier deck the [coveted electronic item] was all but in my hands already despite never having played the deck or format before. But it wasn't to be as after mono run-goods from my opponents I was out after just the second round. I then went to go and watch Ryan win his penultimate round and ID into Top 8 a feat he certainly couldn't have achieved without the critical input of me and the rest of the car on card choices and deck selection.
A little while later we watched Ryan nervously enter the feature match area to face off against the dreaded [quiet but fearsome pro]. I'm sure you were watching the coverage on Twitch.TV but in case you didn't know he lost game 1 but then rallied after sideboarding and took evil down 2-1! He then lost to [rogue deck builder pro] in the semis (who strangely had a very similar deck—great minds think alike?) but he is now qualified for [Pro Tour: Sick Location]! I'm
jealous and bitter as **** super proud of Ryan and I'm sure he'll go on to great success at the PT with our help and guidance in the testing process.
Oh and then we drove home obviously.
A Brew From The New Set
The upcoming release of a new set brings with it a heady rush of anticipation as we wonder what treasures it may bring. With [new set name] fast approaching we are awash with this feeling once again. The first wave of spoiled cards has arrived neatly packaged on our virtual doorsteps and so we go to work. Figuring out how to best use all of these new tools and how the resulting new and updated decks will be positioned in the future Standard metagame will take some time but there's nothing quite like brewing in a virgin format.
The card that excites me most of those spoiled thus far is [obviously great value creature].
Clearly this is a very powerful (almost certainly format-defining Legacy-playable and top five in the set already) card. But how do we analyze exactly how good she is? Well we could evaluate the expected mana worth of value or card advantage she generates (in both triggered and untriggered scenarios) and what percentage of the time we anticipate each of these will occur when we cast her. Or we can draw comparisons to similar existing cards like Kitchen Finks Bloodbraid Elf and Snapcaster Mage.
We could just put her in a deck!
What's the worst that could happen?
[Decklist does not include a sideboard consists of four [obviously great value creature] then a selection of other existing great cards in those colors along with a few more one-ofs spoiled so far.]
I think [obviously great value creature] will really shine in a deck such as this. Her body is of a size relevant for both offense and defense and there's a wide selection of other good cards that interact well with her abilities. With [obviously great value creature] we can apply pressure when playing the beatdown sit back and react to our opponent's threats when in the control role and switch effortlessly between these two modes of play. This deck is obviously a first draft without testing and as such will need some tuning as the new Standard metagame shapes up and we learn what strategies rise to the top. But something like this will be Tier 1 or 2.
Other new cards featured are [utility land] (expensive cost but worth a slot to try out) [situational removal] (may or may not be great depending on what threats we most need to answer) and [expensive haymaker] (should win the game on its own if it resolves and your opponent can't kill it immediately).
The sideboard? As always I advise you to construct your own based on the metagame you expect to see at the tournament you'll be playing in and there are no hard and fast guidelines on what to bring in and out in any given matchup—go by feel you should know what is worse and what will help you with your plan against a particular deck. Some good options to consider though: [generic sweeper] (aggro decks) [single-color hoser] (if [color] decks start getting big again) [Cancel variant] (control) and [new Dredge hate card] (if graveyard combo decks are as good as [new reanimation spell] would seem to make them).
Of course this is just the tip of the iceberg for the impact both [new set name] and [obviously great value creature] will have on Standard. We'll all be scratching a little deeper into the surface very soon…
[I'm bored of writing now—wait have some padding to do still. Here's a three-sentence outro.]
I do hope that you have enjoyed reading about [some tournament] and [untested theoretical deck] and I wish you the very best of luck with it if you decide to take it for a spin soon. With the changing of the guard coming with [new set name] next month it's certainly a very exciting time to be playing the Magic: The Gathering as I am sure you and all of my many other wonderful readers across the globe will agree. [Hits word count target.] See you next time when I'll be talking about [vague hint].
danskate [AT] gmail