Monday, December 7, 2015

Monday Morning Magic #14 - It's fucking Chaos

With the improving weather I nearly broke my resolution to stay away from any BFZ drafts this December. It got up to 7 degrees on Saturday. That's nearly not freezing!
The weather is expected to go bad again by next weekend but I will make it out as a chaos draft is on the schedule. I really enjoyed the last one.

Not everyone is enthralled, one guy who I haven't met asked some questions about price and such. When told it was free but you didn't get to keep the cards he gave a passive aggressive reply about "if I can't keep the cards, I'm out". I think he is new to Korea so maybe he thinks Chaos drafts are on tap here. I will give him the benefit of the doubt that he is new to Magic overall because I haven't ever seen a decent chaos draft that didn't involve one individual hosting.
Packs from different sets don't cost the same, players have different goals and budgets. If you set an average price the guy opening Battle For Zendiker feels ripped off and if you let people choose then you end up with 9 Khans of Tarkir packs because some people are chasing fetchlands.
It heavily skews the actual drafting as well if you are worried about card values.
I'm a fan of keep what you draft as well but it just doesn't work with so many variables.

I nearly skipped the last one because I expected a ton of whining about the value of what was drafted as the host was very value obsessed. Thankfully some decent stuff was opened early to placate him and he didn't get too miserable though he did ask me to concede because he organised "all this". I said no and that was the end of it. I had to be pushed to sign up because I feared shit like that.
This time the host is much cooler about things like that. He is rather spikey though hates ID's so we might get some weird rules in regards to prizes but that's not stuff that hurts my enjoyment much. If we are lucky he ends on the wrong half of it and appreciates why I like the based on wins and flatter prize structures where tie breakers don't decide who gets 4 packs and who gets none. 

Actual Magic played this week was confined to Duels of the Planeswalkers. The new Battle For Zendikar update started promising and was generous with it's quest rewards. I finally started getting the first win for the day bonus 20 coins. It made playing for half an hour and getting at least a pack pretty easy. No more of those deck wizard archetype quests which felt like a chore as you can complete all the quests playing your own decks.
The payouts seem to have all blown up though and what you are promised and what you get are now all over the place as it seems full of bugs. Disappointing.
Pay to Play: Magic on $2 a day
No real Magic this week means the kitty has grown. Not really though because it's Christmas and there are lot's of things competing for my money. My work contract runs out in February so until new employment is secured I feel poor. Around March when I receive my bonus and have started on my new contract is when I feel like a king and can actually take advantage of any excess in the kitty.
Current Position: $52.70

Monday, November 30, 2015

Monday Morning Magic #13 - Unlucky for some

Outside is too cold and the subway too hot. I drafted Black White and perhaps forced it as the player to the right was also Black White and to my left was a blue black drafter. In his case he had a couple of mythic opens in Drana and Sire of Stagnation which kept him in black.

My deck didn't have over riding synergy, it was a mess of beat down, defence, processing and requiring life gain. I had a lot of removal and this week I drew it and ground out a 3-0 result. I didn't solve the format, just got very lucky. I have had better decks go 1-2 in this format.

I think I am done with battle for Zendikar. Such synergy driven decks have a limited life span to me as they feel they either work or they don't. You don't only have to draw a good mixture of creatures, spells and lands but the order you draw them also matters. 
The actual drafting part is fun, a lot going on and trying to sculpt a deck to combat those problems is a great challenge. Actually playing can be frustrating though as you don't get the results you feel your deck deserves. Hey sometimes you get to 3-0 with a pile haha.

The combination of the cold and my lack of enthusiasm for drafting this set any more means I can't see myself playing again this December. I braved the Ice and such for Khan's of Tarkir because it was a fantastic set. Battle for Zendikar, you get a pass, you were different, you were creative but just a little bit under done.

I am hoping Oath of the Greatwatch fixes things. I still haven't opened a Drana for my cube but at this point I think I will just spend Puca points for her. It's not like those points are doing anything anyway as my wants list of Modern and Cube wants sits unfulfilled for months now. The Puca point deflation has hurt the economy and the roll out of new features will be make or break for me. If it doesn't revive the economy and I start receiving cards again I will walk away from the site. 

Pay to Play: Magic on $2 a day
The usual $16 for draft means I'm down $2 but If I don't play much in December it hardly matters. 
Current Position: $40.70

Thursday, November 26, 2015


Located near Gunja station this store was started by an ex Kindle employee and is pretty close to Kindle shop itself. 
Their business hours are 11:00 to 24:00.

Address : Seoul, Gwangjin-gu, Gunja-dong, 473-17 3F
Number : 070 - 8692 - 5218
They have seats for 60 players and sell singles.

One of my friends has already visited and given it the thumbs up. I do approve of advertising your store with a neon sign. This trend of actually being a store a normal person could find started with the new Kindle shop and it seems Cookie has taken it to the next level. 
What's next? Street level premises? A website that matches the stores name? Where will it end?

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Monday Morning Magic #12

I am excited about the future of the Suwon shop and plan to really get involved once January comes. Right now though things feel a bit dead. The cold weather didn't help and they let it get a little too cold in the store. Mr Salty was whiny and while Dan tried to rally us we all just went home within minutes of the draft ending. Beejay won the draft and is still thinking of taking a break after next weeks draft as he didn't have a great day. Stephan went 0-3 which isn't a great feeling but normally wouldn't be something that would make him "feel shitty".

It's really strange that the mood has changed so much from a couple of weeks ago. I'm starting to come to the hypothesis that Mr Salty is a little bit toxic for the community. He doesn't cheat or steal so I am not going to give up on him. He also organised a chaos draft and has built a tower for us to play. Both at considerable expense to himself. He's a walking contradiction which makes it hard when your sitting on his left in a draft (which I seem to always have to be).

I really don't know how I feel about the format. I think I like it, it's complex and you don't have to try hard to get some funky stuff in your deck. Just drafting normally will mean making some unusual choices and unexpected synergies. There are clear archetypes which is something I am not a huge fan of but they don't have a samey feel to how the decks play out.
So I guess it's a thumbs up but I kind of feel like it's already explored even though I have never got to draft allies or the black white deck. The thought of 6 or so more weeks of BFZ draft followed by Oath kind of leaves me feeling a little dull. Oath of the Gatewatch really needs to bring something else to the format but it will only be one pack.

I have started playing Duels of the Planeswalkers again now that the Battle for Zendikar update has hit. I didn't have any coins saved up as I only just finished unlocking all the origins cards. I can't really build any new decks but I still enjoy my thopters deck so that's not a problem yet. I can't think of many BFZ cards that would add to that deck or my elf deck though. I wouldn't mind trying an allies deck but with 78 boosters of Battle left to unlock that feels a long way away.

With my cube nearly finished we have started on a new project. A Korean language cube, It never ends.

Pay to Play: Magic on $2 a day.
The usual $16 for draft was all the expenditure for this week. It's been a long time since I sold a card though as there is little demand for Battle for Zendikar cards and very little trading in general. With such a barren trading environment any purchases for Suwon's secret Santa could put me very close to going into the red. Call me crazy but I also really want the red white Commander deck. It has a few cool cards but it's the Anya, Fumiko and Gisela that are really tempting me. If I want to stay in the black then I will just have to be patient and disciplined. 
Current Position: $42.70

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Monday Morning Magic #11

We had ten people for draft on Sunday and were greeted with the good news that next year there would be a change of ownership (the Manager will take over). This is great news because while Robbie was an ok owner the Suwon shop wasn't really his baby and was a little neglected and we all expected the shop to close in December. 
Hopefully the store starts keeping better stock of certain products and starts selling singles.

The draft went fine, I felt I had a  good red black which is what my seat wanted to be in. I probably muffed a couple of close call picks that cost me but I had 3 great matches that all went to a third game against good opponents. I had good side boarding options that really taxed me between games.
Result wise I went 1-2 which I felt didn't do the deck justice but I probably made a couple of play errors I was oblivious too. While a good day I don't remember that much because around round 3 I realised "fuck, I've got the flu", which really pissed me off as this coming week is very hectic.

If I survive I will be very relaxed next week.

Pay to Play: Magic on $2 a day.
This week was a total blowout. There was the $16 for draft and then $2 for penny sleeves which I had needed for a long time as I had gotten to the point where I had more rares than sleeves. I was having to pick Hunger Games style which cards got to be sleeved and which were left to bang unprotected against what ever cardboard box I left them in. 
On top of that Mr Gu with his incredible binders were in town and I spent $3 on a Goblin Welder for my cube and $9 on various full art promos for my full art EDH deck (12 cards from finished). The deck sure is pretty but virtually unplayable as it's five colour with little synergy and no fixing except for the Rampant Growth I got yesterday. 
Current Position: $42.70

Monday, November 9, 2015

Magic Monday #10 All good things.

Sitting on 8 consecutive wins before this draft the big 10-0 was in sight. I blew it in spectacular fashion going 0-2 before getting a bye last round. My last round opponent had dropped and he was the poor soul sitting on my left during the draft. I drafted a base red deck as did he except his was devoid themed while I snapped up all the landfall creatures. 
I had blue and green splashes, the blue for a coastal discovery, some clutch of currents and gold cards. The green because I was too stubborn to draft black as I was red black the week before.
One of the things that holds me back when it comes to winning is my desire to fully explore the format. I drafted red black the week before so the deck i wanted to end up in least was red black even though I had won last weeks draft with that combination. I wanted something new, something exciting. I took some black cards that just couldn't be ignored but jumped out of black at the slightest hint of an opportunity. I would have had a pretty sick deck but there is just so much of the format I have not explored yet it feels like a waste.
I have not drafted allies of any combination, I haven't tried GB sacrifice, converge (though that's what I was going for this time) or the BW life gain deck. These are all things on my Magic bucket list that I want to do before the set is no longer drafted. And of the things I have drafted I always felt like I got an undercooked version apart from the red green landfall deck and so want to draft those decks again to get to play them at full strength. 

This is what is fun for me and I am not trying to win the pro tour. I don't think i need to curb that desire to explore a format rather than master it. There is money on the line though so one thing that could help is if Stainless got their act together and came out with the Battle for Zendikar update to Duels of the Planeswalkers. It's a half limited half constructed environment that is a good way to experience all the different archetypes to your hearts content for free.
I never had to draft the black red sacrifice deck because I got to do it on Duels.
When I sat down to play I just went with the cards and I had a much better win rate during Origins than Dragons of Tarkir.

Back to the draft deck itself. It was alright and could do some nice things if the mana worked. Both losses were game 3 affairs and close. In round 2 and already a game up I blew game 2 as I thought Barrage Tyrant could sacrifice itself and it dead set decided the game. I could have cast Tajuru Beastmaster pre combat for the lethal pump but didn't as I thought I already had it with Tyrant's ability.
I let out a barrage of fucks (pun intended) when I realised I had lost and karmic justice made sure I lost game 3 without getting to do much at all. 

I made some trades and I have experienced the 3-0 followed by the 1-2 or 0-3 many times because of my needing to explore "flaw". Didn't stick with me as the day was fun but short as we finished in under 3 hours. I won a months free of MTG Price Pro Trader and did some solid trading towards the RallyFenza deck. Mr Gu went ahead and opened a Scalding Tarn expedition and some new people popped in and there was just a happy vibe around the shop in general despite or maybe because of how cold it was outside.

Pay to Play #5
No incoming funds and a $16 draft is pretty easy maths. Starting to get costly ideas though. I really want to build a cube based on the custom Star Wars set floating around on Reddit.
While the cards would be free I would need more sleeves. A couple more packs of Dragon Sleeves would take out $32 from the budget.
Then I saw the RallyFenza videos put out by Saffron Olive and have the itch to build another modern deck that I will hardly get to play (

Oh and new Commander product, I do like the look of the Green Black deck and Anya, Merciless Angel makes me think an aggressive commander deck might actually be possible. Maybe. 
These are all dangerous and expensive thoughts that are probably kept more in check with the fact we just bought a new fridge and a computer rather hurting the real budget rather than restrictions on the Magic budget. 
I'm still holding onto that Steam Vents expedition though and the only real plan I have at the moment is to draft again next Sunday 
The current position is +$58.7

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Monday Magic #9

After a 4-0 at Game Day the Sunday prior I sat down to the left of Mr Salty as always (DCI reporter bug for sure) hoping to extend that run. Pick one pack one I took a Barrage Tyrant over a foil full art Mountain which is apparently a huge mistake if you care about value at all. Those mountains are worth a pack and a half and that Barrage Tyrant was only a 40% chance to make my deck. It did end up making it as I drafted a Red Black deck when I had a Blue Black drafter on my right who hate drafted a Rolling Thunder and a Red Blue drafter to my left.
I don't and never will understand hate drafting a card you are 0% to play with such a high pick. That strategy is not completely frowned on by pro's though and I remember one guest on Limited Resources being in favour of hate drafting.
It would have been my second Rolling Thunder though, which is a little ridiculous. This is the first time I really got to see the power of that card as previously I had always needed to use it to kill one big scary threat. This time I got to wipe a few boards and it felt glorious. Despite being in red black I didn't feel super aggressive as I lacked in creatures to the extent I played Dutiful Return because I was going to need my best ones to do some real work. I had doubles of Complete Disregard and Touch of the Void to back them up.
Some games I curved out, others I just killed everything and then stuck a guy. After losing game 1 to a really cool Bant eldrazi deck that is easily the most intriguing I have seen in the format, I didn't drop another game. I crushed the finals and we had time to play another 2 games for fun which I also won and my opponent playing a nice red white allies deck called for mercy. My deck was certainly good against aggro but I feel a little lucky to have got the points against mid range. That extended my win streak to 7 and I randomly chose 1 English Pack and 2 Korean packs for my prize. Beejay asked me why I didn't just choose all Korean packs and I responded with "I wanted to see who loved me more". That seems utterly ridiculous now but that's the magic of painkillers kids. It turns out English loves me more, which makes sense since I teach English for a living.
Who the fuck cares what was in the Korean packs because that English pack had a Steam Vents in it.

I felt like I owned this city. Winning the draft and a Steam Vents is pretty high on the list of my best Magic days in Korea. The draft is pretty relaxed, but everyone is a decent player. Certainly know easy 3 pointers. Some of the game day matches got pretty intense but $100 - $120 bill in a pack is pretty sweet.

Thinking back to Australia there were PTQ top 8's (which always ended pretty sad) and Nationals qualifications etc which while not as monetarily rewarding were very satisfying and gave a real sense of accomplishment.
Good day.

I didn't have to play against Mr Salty but got to watch him a lot as all 3 of his matches were the last to finish and either went or brushed the time limit. Each round he would only be on game 1 or just starting game 2 while the rest of us had finished. He has a strange mix of playing slow but then playing very fast when something actually happens. It's infuriating and frustrating even as a spectator. He even complained about his round 3 opponent playing slowly! To be fair his opponent was slow but definitely not the culprit, it was ponder vs ponder.

I think all players don't realise how slow they are playing, when you are in the moment you feel like a lot is happening because you have a lot to think about but that's the challenge. You got to keep moving. The biggest problem Mr Salty has is he should be thinking about what he is going to do during his turn while the opponent is going through their process. It seemed every turn he would draw his card and look like he has never seen his hand before. He had a Mist Intruder and seemed to think about whether he should attack with it every single turn.
My slow play rant out of the system he was definitely less salty than normal. In fact he lost game 3 of round 3 to a big Rolling Thunder and held it together where others would not have. I guess just like me he is up and down mood wise and has his moments either way.
Hope for us both.

Back to that Bant eldrazi deck, blue green X has been called the converge deck but maybe it's also the colour combination that actually lets you cast eldrazi and be competitive. The black green eldrazi deck hasn't seemed to really work out but 3/4 Tajuru Stalwarts, Stonehaven Medics and Courrier Griffins clogging up the board and Lifespring Druids working their magic were a nice combo. I thought I was in game one until Breaker of Armies followed by Jace's Insight blew me away.

Pay to Play #4

$2.5 a day isn't a very catchy name, now that I am an expedition pulling millionaire I think I can aim for $2 a day. I have an extensive collection of cards and accessories so me playing on $2 a day is very different than someone new to the game. To play for free would involve either not drafting or going much deeper into speculation. Deeper than I want to considering there are limited cash outs here in Korea. No local buy list or TCG player. Puca Trade has been fantastic but that is digital bit coin style profits that you can't pay a tournament entry fee with.

While my collection value got a bump from that expedition I didn't pick up any cash so my $2.5 a day just covered the $16 draft entry fee. The current position is +$60.7

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Magic Monday #8

After a week away I was allowed to play both Saturday and Sunday this week. This coincided with Game Day which wasn't a fluke on my part.
Game Day is the only time of the year playing standard makes sense to me, a crippled old washed up grinder. There is much higher EV than normal, the schedule is set far in advance, it is at my local shop and it's in the middle of the day so it's easy to get public transport. I drive a lot during the week and don't enjoy it. My drive to and from work has a nice view but on a road where it's easy to do 80 on there are lots of speed humps scattered throughout.

I actually had two decks built enough that I could get away with only having to ask for a few cards from friends. The first was Jeskai mill and I had been practising with that deck in Grixis form for a few weeks. The change to Jeskai was done the night before, so naturally I crushed the tournament. Oh no, sorry, now I remember, I went 1-3 but had a lot of fun. My opponents seemed to really enjoy the Tutelage triggers as it definitely appeals to their love of gambling. I think they see it as milling 4 cards is the base and if it's only two cards they won but if it's six cards they lost horribly. They still enjoy the losing horribly part, just as long as someone is watching. 

After four rounds though I was kind of over new standard, I played against a million Hangerback Walkers and if they didn't have Dromoka's Command and Den Protector they had Felidar Cub and Ojutai's Command. After missing draft last week I was starting to get the twitch, I wanted to bust some packs and sweat on some picks. I got tot he store at 1:00 but with everyone preparing for another game day there was no draft. That's two weekends in a row without drafting, I'm going to have to look into some lesser drug like morphine or heroin to help get me through this stretch. if I miss another week maybe something worse like Magic Online.

For Sunday Game Day I suited up my other deck. Flip flopping on decks isn't usually a winning strategy but it worked this time. I played Atarka Red and beat the mirror twice and two other decks that played a lot of colourful lands that I had no idea what was coming next. The combinations of battle lands, fetch lands and four colour decks had me trying to play around every sweeper I could think of and studying their lands for what they could NOT do rather that what they could. 

I  managed to go 4-0 which in Korea is enough to win Game Day as they are only interested in playing the swiss portion. I think the elimination rounds are where it get's fun but they just seem to get in the way of a good time for the Korean's. Five minutes after the prizes were allocated they were carving up a box playing the value game (the player who opens the least valuable card pays for everyone's packs) and making some real noise. I have to admit it did look more fun that everyone having to watch four guys playing in near silence and shuffling a lot.

Despite winning I only used about four of my fifteen sideboard cards because I quickly realised during round one I was probably doing more harm than good with every sideboard decision. I am much butter but still don't have the sequencing down pat for my own deck but at least learnt to respect Temur battle Rage by the time it mattered. In pre tournament testing and the first two rounds I was firing it off way to quickly, I now realise it's criminal not to use it in conjunction with a pump spell. I also learnt that instant speed one mana +5+5 (Become Immense) is incredibly fun to cast but totally unfair to be on the receiving end of. I love that card.
So I was a long way from mastering my own deck but was getting in the groove enough to pick up on other peoples mistakes. That's something to take home, along with my Drana playmat.

In round three my opponent made a mistake where he thought his creature would survive rather than trade with my own. He had a pump spell so wanted a take back but I had to be that bad cop. I won the next turn so it wouldn't have mattered but I knew he was feeling awful and I promised him a pack. The worth of one loose pack is pretty negligible really and more often than not contains rubbish. So fuck it, it's a small community and I don't have the killer instinct any more, though I am not soft enough to allow take backs. Then when I arrive over for the top 4 the store manager was in the process of dividing the split. The playmat is worth some amount of packs but they had trouble deciding. The first offer was 9 - 9 - 9 - playmat +1. No one wanted the playmat at that stage, I wasn't even there when that offer was on the table and by the time I had arrived it was 8 - 8 - 8 - playmat + 4 which was at the point I thought everyone would want the playmat. Two of the players still just wanted the boosters so they were set but another player wanted the playmat. The manager was about to give it to him without hearing from me even though I was the only undefeated player. I piped up that I wanted the playmat and an awkward stand off ensued. I suggested a dice roll which the other guy didn't like (mustn't be Korean) and the fact he wanted it means it was probably his first playmat which makes me feel a little guilty but I had beaten him in the swiss. Or perhaps he just likes value because 4 packs plus a playmat seems a lot better than 8 packs to me. I offered 9 - 3 and the playmat between us and after confirming that's what I said, he was ok with that and wanted the packs. I then handed out one of my packs to my round 3 opponent and felt like father Christmas giving out packs left and right. When you go 4-0 you generally feel pretty good so a couple of boosters to make let everyone else feel better about the day is a small price to pay. 
Thankfully none of them opened expeditions or I might have a totally different view on altruism. A previous incident where I was in the pity prize pack roll off and my roll fell on the floor and I just let the other guy have it cost me a Nissa. I don't feel so great about that one but it was a cool story and my rolls will never ever fall off the table again.

I now have four playmats which makes me kind of regret buying one. I say kind of because it is the Eturtle Witness mat from Star City Games which is still my favourite mat. My friend Beejay who leant me some key cards to make playing the deck possible won on Saturday so it was cool when we were taking the subway home Sunday night as back to back champions. It's a far cry from the pro tour but being an MTG Dad isn't easy so you got to enjoy these moments. We both had work to look forward to the next day.

It shouldn't but a good result at Magic gives me a lift going into the start of the week which is way more important to my self being than it should. I had been under a cloud for a while after just missing out on a job in the video game industry which seemed an opportunity I probably won't see again. I enjoy teaching, it's a good job but in my current situation it's hard to be passionate about it. I work a lot of classes straight in a bunch of different classrooms so it wasn't the luxury set up I had last year where the material was 90% my own, in my own classroom with lots of time to craft it. Getting a large mouse pad and $16 worth of cards shouldn't make up for losing out on a sweet job, and it doesn't but it got me out of a funk and turned me in the right direction mentally. Beejay's trying to convince me to get into the grind again and play some PPTQ's but agghh, fuck that travel is tiring and takes up a lot of family time. I also think as good as going 4-0 was, a 2hr standing room only trip back from Seoul after scrubbing out would be the pits.

I might be up for the Suwon PPTQ's though although it sounds like the shop might be gone in December :(

Pay to Play#3
A pretty good week as I only spent $10 all week after doing a trade which involved me getting enough cash to cover my Sunday entry fee. I'm in the black to the tune of $60 right now. In my prize packs was a Foil Korean Cinder Glade which looks pretty and might even pay for a draft in the future.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Magic Monday #7

I will no longer bother with the explicit language warning on this site. All bets are off from now, especially as I have finally gotten around to watching The Wire (still holds up).

Last weekend I missed the Sealed PPTQ that took place in Suwon on the Saturday but made it for the Sunday draft. The PPTQ was the first one in Suwon so it was pretty unexpected. The W30,000 would put me way over my Magic playing budget but also I hate going in to just make up the numbers. There is a lot going in on this set and I haven't been excited about it enough to learn what they all do. For Khans block I got super pumped and 2 weeks in I was confident enough to do a draft in Korean..
Nowadays with no electronic devices allowed it means I can't look at the spoiler on my phone. I have to both learn a little bit more Korean to at least be comfortable on all the keywords and be passionate about the set.
It sounds like they consider the PPTQ a success and they will continue. The only thing up in the air is the format, sealed and I'm in but if it's standard I can't really compete.

I am preparing for game day though but I feel my hearts not really in it this time. A little bit like I am going through the motions because I haven't bothered trying to trade with anyone and if not for BJ insisting on getting the Radiant Flames I need then I probably would have skipped it and given up on standard for good.

I did fairly well at last Sundays draft, it was a 10 man draft and I lost the finals in heartbreakingly close circumstances in game 3. That's exactly what you want in a match of Magic, everything on the line, it was close with both players drawing enough spells and lands to play the game. My finals opponent hit me for 12 which left me at 2 life and facing lethal next turn. I could do 14 to him which would have left him at 2. I would have been able to wipe his board if my Serpentine Strike didn't get ingested as a result of his big attack. That was that, he won the draft and opened a Gideon.
I can't complain though, during the draft I took a couple of lands to have the draft pay for itself in theory, though likely they will sit in my binder until they are only worth a couple of dollars and then get thrown in a box to never see the light of day.

Pay to Play #2
Sunday was a good day budget wise, I sold the last of my Puca points (8,000) for W60,000 to put my Magic budget back in the black. As of today it sits at +34.7 and next weekend I am of camping so it will be over 60 before I next play. Game day will skim a little bit of but those points in the bank should hopefully keep me in the black all the way to the Pre Release of the next set.

The big question I have to ask myself at this juncture is what is my next move with Puca Trade. I don't have any points coming to me in the mail. I know I will eventually want them but I just don't feel the yearning for any singles right now. The older stuff I had on my want list was taking for ages to come but if I want to finish my cube want list from Origins or Battle for Zendikar Puca is the best way to do it. I need to play some Eye of the Tiger or whatever young people listen to these days and get my ass to the post office!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Pay For Play

For a long time I have tracked how much I spend on Magic with a strict budget in mind. Even when I had a lot of discretionary income (pre child) I would track my spending. This type of OCD about money is probably why I chose to get a Commerce degree from University.

My budget at the moment is $2.5 a day which adds up to a lot in a year $2,281.25 but feels like a small amount daily and weekly (17.5) to spend on my primary hobby. That yearly figure though is 3 weeks salary and for a family man with a lot of responsibilities it makes me feel guilty.

I think trying to get Magic to pay for itself entirely would be an interesting experiment and there certainly are ways to play for at least nearly free but I really enjoy drafting and I don't want to give up my weekly draft for the benefits of science just yet. I'm not in the business of actively punishing myself and then later regretting it.

That $2.5 covers a draft (which must be paid in cash) but doesn't stretch any further. Things like sleeves, tournament fees and singles will put you in the red. Right now courtesy of buying a Battle for Zendikar fat pack I am in the red to the tune of $24 even after recouping $15 by selling my promo Serum Visions. Later this month I will miss a couple of drafts due to a camping trip and such which will make up for that.

Puca Trade has really helped in regards to singles, I don't plan to ever pay cash for singles again for as long as Puca Trade works. I have slowed down on using it due to a lack of cards I really want right now. My modern decks are pretty much finished apart from gaping holes like Scalding Tarns which I am waiting on to be properly reprinted in a form that is accessible.
In Puca trade it's easy to forget about the postage fees and associated costs (top loaders, envelopes and printing) but I don't. Thanks to selling my points a couple of times I have those costs well covered.

Sleeves and Tournament fees as well as my fat pack addition (I like to get one each set) are the primary pressure on my $2.5 a day Magic Budget. It feels like I always need new sleeves for something, oh and I could do with some more commander deck boxes if they were sold locally. I plan to document my $2.5 a day challenge with a weekly status amount in "Magic Monday" to keep the pressure on myself to stick to it. I knew that fat pack figure would push me over but I brought it anyway, just so I could make a fraction of my cube lands full art.

It was worth it, because fuck half art lands. But the line has been drawn.

Maintaining a cube, multiple modern decks, a few EDH decks, drafting each week and hoping to participate in game days (standard) each quarter is not easy on $2.5 a day. It's an expensive hobby.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Magic Monday #6

As I got a little bit personal and to the point in the last post about Mr Salty I have contemplated the name change. I don't think I was out of line objecting to his behaviour but doing so in writing rather than face to face doesn't sit right with me. On the other hand I am a selfish person and the putting it out in writing is quite therapeutic for me. It avoids me exploding and saving it up because I feel like It has been said even though he more than likely didn't read it.

On last Sunday in the ultimate of ironies I took a first pick Ulamog and he drafted a very disciplined Black White life gain deck. Then we were paired first round and I lost game one. While his deck had a lot of synergy it was a very very slow kill so I brought in Ulamog and wrecked him with it game two. The opposite of nearly every match we have ever played.
In game 3 my deck actually worked as I managed to exile some stuff to process and beat down quite quickly. I heard rumblings about that Ulamog for the rest of the day.

Back on topic, The Angry Hermit with it's list of Magic Shops and how to find them is supposed to be a community resource. Me complaining about other players or embarking on voyages of self discovery and giving out bad pick orders is not helpful for the community.

So I will split my writing with this site "The Late Picks" (trademark pending) being for everything and the Angry Hermit whose name is already out there sticking to just the positive stuff and shitting out rainbows.

I enjoyed the new format even though I didn't do that well. The deck just didn't quite come together and the Mist Stalker plan wasn't a good one. It was great to see an old face return to the scene after walking across Korea and travelling throughout South East Asia. I didn't think I would ever see him again but luckily/unluckily his wife got home sick and their plan for eternal travel and living by the beach got nixed and he is back in Seoul. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Magic Monday #5 (Explicit Warning)

Despite having the flu, 2 hours sleep the night before and feeling the effects of coming down from one brand of painkillers and starting on another I made it to my stores pre release.

Even though I felt like shit I still preferred the new/old/traditional dose of no seeded packs. I built a black/red deck I am hesitant to call aggro as it had an 8 drop in it. The corner stones were 3 Nettle Drones a 3/1 for 3 that can ping your opponent and untaps when you play a colourless spell. In a couple of games my opponents had mana problems and I started hitting them quite hard but most games were really me grinding them down and winning through having superior removal. In one game I played all 3 Nettle Drones which represented a lot of damage, sadly though one was promptly killed.
My semi comatose state managed 3-1 and getting away with swearing at an opponent. One of the regulars had been getting progressively more salty at missing out on the expensive FNM promo's and the losing streak that comes with that. If I think back he always was a bit of a grump when things weren't going his way but that was forgotten during the back end of Khans through to the middle of Dragon's of Tarkir because he did quite well.
He had become unpleasant to play with as soon as he was losing but not over the line and I had not gotten involved previously. Another player had brought it up it but we were on our way to eat and the conversation never really progressed

On Sunday he was upset at having mana problems even while sweeping my board leaving me with no non land permanents. I went to read the card that just swept my board and he got snappy with me that my creatures are dead. That's when I told him to "Calm the fuck down". I just wanted to read the card and he continued to protest but much less aggressively "don't you trust me" and "you have this card in your deck too". I didn't have the card in hand though so it's not like I was allowed to start rifling through my library. It was round one of my first and only pre release, being able to know what is going on is a core part of the game. If I'm not allowed to even look at my opponents cards something is seriously wrong.
And no, I don't exactly trust the guy who killed me by activating Rogues Passage on Gaea's Revenge without even apologising afterwards. I don't think this player is a cheat but he is highly strung and only has one year's experience of competitive Magic with no higher level event experience.
His excuse for his behavior is that no one likes having mana problems and it's really frustrating. Yes, but it happens to all of us and he is the only one that is ruining other peoples fun. I won the deciding game against my round 4 opponent while he sat with 5 plains on board and a hand full of red creatures. Apart from the "I had all these" at the death blow you wouldn't have known.
When I apologised for his bad luck he replied with the Korean equivalent of "shit happens".

I think the new format with colourless bombs that don't punish rare drafting and the viability of the slower mid range to control decks he prefers will  probably suit Mr Salty and his results should improve. If not then a line has been drawn in regards to my tolerance with his behavior. To his credit he seemed to improve from then on and I think Dan stepping in to back me up was a big factor.
I still consider Mr Salt a friend, because one negative is about 50 less negative personality traits than I possess. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Magic Monday #4 (Warning:Explicit Language)

Pre release is upon us and it seems a lot of people are down on this set. It looks fine to me but once they announced enemy fetchlands were not going to be reprinted my anticipation levels hit zero. Since then the spoiling of new cards can't possibly reduce my excitement for the pre release and it has slowly ticked up.
The limited environment seems hard to gauge as there is so much (perhaps too much) going on and coupled with the death of seeded packs it feels like the mystery is back. Stepping into the great unknown is what used to make pre releases stand out as a special tournament. While the first time you play with cards is great fun, with seeded packs it means there is not a huge difference between your first sealed deck and your last one in a format. You know more about the cards and should hopefully be better at building a deck but that is cancelled out by your packs not being as stacked.

I understand and struggle to disagree with the argument that seeded packs make it easier for new players and pre release is supposed to be about them. There is zero reason to deny the former but the later? Pre releases are probably the best tournaments for new people but there aren't many alternatives and I can't think of any tournaments that are designed just with new players in mind. Pre releases have won the tag as best introductory tournament by default.
I think it's easily the enfranchised players who get the most excited about pre releases. We are the ones checking the spoilers' every day, put the release date in our calendar and debate cards weeks before you can play them. We certainly aren't going to "maybe" go to the pre release depending on the weather.
A strong reason the pre releases are so new player friendly is the enfranchised players are so excited it becomes contagious. We are bursting to talk about it and I knew many people who practically drag friends or partners along in order to get more of those new cards we can't acquire anywhere else yet. We can't wait that 5 or 6 days until release :)

Things like 2 headed giant are good tournaments for new players and they also hopefully make up for the lack of seeded packs if one of the heads is more experienced. So while I hope that new players can still enjoy the event I am glad us oldies and enfranchised players have got something back.

The expeditions have been received a lot better than I thought they would. My initial reaction was "fuck that", I am not opening or ever owning one even though full art lands are the sweetest things since Korean Garlic Bread*. I never opened a planeswalker during the entire run of Magic Origins and have to go all the way back to Innistrad before remembering anything like a decent ratio of playable to bulk from packs I opened.
I didn't understand people who planned to buy more sealed product than they normally did. Even MTG Finance people I respect like Chaz V were talking about buying a case just to try and crack an expedition whereas he normally forgoes buying sealed product. Madness!

To me, huge variance is a turn off because I feel like I am unlucky. It seems I am in the minority amongst Magic players. Even I do enjoy gambling and one thing I have observed amongst the Korean player population is a good percentage of them are massive gamblers. Far more loose packs get opened than can be justified in order to play the "value game". The "value game" is where 2+ (usually 3 or 4) people open packs at the same time and whoever opens the pack with the lowest value pays for both of the packs. It's hash but pretty exciting.

This swathe of negative feelings towards the new set is probably just a correction from unjustified and illogical hype based on the expeditions. It seems a lot of people are still high on the expeditions though but are just taking their wrath out on the rest of the set.
Even if it is less powerful than normal we are losing 4 sets from standard so there are lots of opportunities for BFZ cards to find a home in standard. The headline cards Ob Nixilis, Gideon, Greenwardern, Drana and Ulamog all look the goods to me. Wizards could have thrown Standard a bone and seeded some allies in Magic Origins. Just enough for a tier 2 deck would have generated a lot more hype about each ally reveal. Instead we got most commentators saying "wait and see" and quickly moving on.

If standard really is less powerful it will give my Sphinx's Tutelage/Ulamog reanimator brew/pile a chance to shine at game day**. The first Star City event post release day, the Indianapolis Open is going to be fascinating.

* Involves sugar for those lucky enough to only have eaten regular garlic bread.

** A man can dream, and by the way can anyone lend me some Ulamogs'?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Monday, September 14, 2015

Magic Monday #3

This week rather than draft Magic Origins we had a chaos draft. This was put together at great expense and over a long period of time by Frank Silva with help from Andrew Carle. The draft was free and we only paid for prizes and the store donated an FNM serum Visions for the winner as well.

Opening a pack of Time Spiral first pack gave me a massive nostalgia rush. Time Spiral is my favourite set and I have very fond memories of it. My pack one pick one was between Errant Ephemeron or Greater Gargadon. I was sitting with Dan on my right who has quite aggro leanings when the format is crazy like this so I used that as the tiebreaker to go blue. That really paid off as he did indeed go red as did the player to his right. Blue, Green and Black were open and I went with Blue Green. I would have jumped all over black if I saw any removal first pack but it seemed lacking for the entire draft.
That Ephermeron was pretty much my only turn two play but the deck could still punish slow starts and had ridiculous late game. I had never seen rush of knowledge before in my life, had to read it a couple of times before putting it in my pile. Both times I drew it I cast it to draw seven cards. I also got to do my favourite thing in the world, Spellburst with buyback to win games two and three of my first match.
While there were plenty of sets I had never seen before thanks to Frank going really deep on what packs he included I think I probably had an advantage on most of the draft. It felt great to win the draft, get some packs, have fun and claim a Serum Visions promo for my collection.

Some real world troubles had me feeling sorry for myself and another player has to give up their beloved pet. Franks hard work at putting this together made for a great distraction for both of us. I don't think I showed my appreciation enough.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Magic Monday #2

It was another week of a disappointing 1-2 finish. I drafted a solid Blue Red deck but didn't get any finishers and flooded out a lot. I am pretty comfortable with how i drafted and I was in the right seat for my colours but there were an unusual amount of blue drafters and red is always very popular of late.

I enjoyed the games and received a promo and came second in the roll for the pity pack provided by the store. When rolling my dice fell on the floor so I just let the other guy have the booster. He opened a Nissa of course and my barren streak continues.
I finally opened a Planeswalker from Origins but it was on Duels of the Planeswalkers rather than in real life. It's Jace so that is still pretty cool and it came in the same pack as a Sphinx's Tutelage just to wet the appetite for new deck shenanigans.
I have dumped Elves for now as it just wasn't getting me any higher than rank 25. My new thopter deck has got me up and slightly over rank 30 all the while being a lot of fun.

I really don't see myself getting out of my drafting slump for a couple of weeks. I'm operating on very little sleep each day which hopefully a scheduled change in medication late this month will remedy. Until then I feel like I'm just surviving rather than really living.
This Sunday there will be a chaos draft featuring some really tasty packs, Champions of Kamigawa, Stronghold, Chronicles, Modern Masters etc. In my current state I can't even gather enthusiasm and anticipation for that.

There are new enemy man lands coming in the new set which are cool and would be great additions to my cube if only I already owned the friendly ones. Sigh.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Duels of the Planeswalkers

The latest version of Duels of the Planeswalkers is out for IOS, PC and Xbox. It's free to play and is supposedly the final version. Rather than make a new one each year they plan to update this one with new cards an d game modes. I imagine the card updates are a lot more frequent than anything else given Magic's digital past record.

It's designed for beginners and a lot of the initial game is painfully slow for experienced players but probably a little fast for real beginners. The use of the word "skill" when referring to "skill quests" is a real misnomer. They comprise of quests such as "Trample Skill Quest", your creature has trample, press attack and the A.I. will block and you still win. I literally just had to push attack and that was it. The intricacies of trample are described in a blob of text rather than in game play so I doubt anyone is left much the wiser but it is ok overall.
I know a lot of people tell new players interested in the game to just go and learn by playing Duels of the Planeswalkers but unless they are super keen they will probably need some additional help.

After getting through the initial campaign it gets more interesting for experienced players. There are some preset matches where you play a premade deck up against the A.I. with their decks in a scenario. Some of them are better than others. Nissa taking on Emrakul the third stage of Nissa’s campaign was pretty epic and the last stag of Liliana’s campaign where she fights all 4 demons in a row is very cool as well.

After the campaign you are left with the meat of the game. Playing the A.I. to win coins to purchase more packs of cards or playing a ranked game against other players and trying to climb the ladder while also pocketing coins.

The initial launch of the game didn’t go well with a lot of users experiencing bugs or not even being able to play the game. I myself could not play the game until I had to update Windows, fiddle with my graphics card, flick my screen and throw random items at the wall. Since then I haven’t had any problems but just saying that makes me worry I have jinxed it.
Apart from the archetype quests which often feel like a chore I have been pretty happy with this game and have been playing it a lot more than I thought I would. It’s a weird type of half pauper block constructed and the developers did a good job with the card pool.
I largely play the ladder system and have been enjoying it without spending a cent. It is truly free to play but only if you are patient. I think plenty of people will drop some dollars to play with the cards they want right now and that’s pretty understandable and defensible. I prefer to stay a “freebie” player because I actually enjoy the collection aspect. With moderate play you tend to open about one booster a day, that is only 6 cards so it can feel painfully slow a lot of the time but when you get something you have been wanting or even useful after a week of instantly forgettable cards it’s a great feeling. I have never been so excited to open an Elvish Visionary in paper Magic as I was when I got one last Monday on Duels.
That gotta catch em all aspect is definitely addictive but unlike most forms of Magic this feels like you can realistically do it without spending anything. That said this is only the first set and if the Hearthstone experience is a guide then it will get harder to keep up the larger the card pool gets.

The game has a pretty nice variety of decks and the meta seems in a good place right now. For a long time I hovered around rank 10 before going up to rank 30 with a burst. I now seem to hover around rank 25 and feel I need a couple of tasty unlocks (like a Nissa or Liliana) to give me the edge to go for rank 40 which is the highest in the game. In the initial ranks you will probably face another aggressive deck most of the time as they seem the easiest to put together with the starting card pool and are also the most effective against the A.I.
It gets more varied in the middle where mid range and synergy decks are more abundant and at the top you start to see 3 colour control decks which may or may not try and mill you out with Sphinx’s Tutelage.
Right now it feels like the green based ramp decks are the most popular but not to an overwhelming degree. On my recent losing streak from rank 30 to rank 25 I think I lost against 6 decks that were all very different from each other. Losing to Mage Ring Bullies with Faerie Miscreants one game and then Liliana going ultimate the next

Overall I feel this game does not get the respect it deserves from the more hard core Magic players but it’s a nice diversion and Magic is better for its existence. It certainly isn’t as slick as Hearthstone and requires a lot more patience but I think it’s a keeper.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Magic Monday

I went to Magic on Sunday with just a couple of hours of sleep from the night before. It was great to see some familiar faces back from their overseas trip but I was a bit of a spaced out hippie for most of the time I was there. I didn't stay for the second event even though it was cube draft with some pretty spicy additions. I would have loved to draft a Show and Tell or Sneak Attack deck, two new archetypes added since the last time we drafted what I call the legacy cube.
To make up for my absence I chipped in some of my Chinese fakes/proxies so that next time there will be a full set of Dual Lands in the mix. 

In the draft proper I again bombed out with 1-2 record. In a 7 person pod I drafted red white as did two other people. Eun Jae to the right of me was in blue green so my choice was semi correct but black was completely opened and my first pick was a Pries of the Blood Rite. Receiving a pack with Blightcaster, Nantuko Husk and two other cards in a pick and pass pack late in pack two came just after a pack where all 5 cards were black!
I received a last pick Vampire Knight to make me dream of what might have been.
Instead, despite some highlights like Chandra’s Ignition and Embermaw Hellion I had to scrape together enough playables. I should have gone up to an 18th land because multiple times in the day I didn’t get to 5 mana with Chandra’s Ignition in hand and the opportunity cost of losing say a veterans side arm is pretty low.
Bellows Lizard actually did some work for me and I have upgraded him in my rankings from unplayable to barely playable. In one turn Bellows got in for six damage which would have been funny if my opponent wasn’t so colour screwed I had to withhold my glee out of respect.
Stephan with green red and Eun Jae with Green Blue split the draft and got the last of the awesome Serum Visions promos. Septembers promo Orator of Ojutai is a massive disappointment and I think we will be back down to one pod instead of the regular two pods we had been enjoying of late.

There were lots of cards spoiled over the weekend none of which really grabbed me. I think the new Ulamog is an upgrade over the old one for cube because it does not have the shuffle effect built in and can be reanimated.
The most controversial spoilers were he full art super premium treasures. I love full art but know I will never own these. It sucks to be reminded you are poor or when Wizards make cool things that are unattainable but they don’t affect game play. I had a similar hollow feeling when a lot of FTV products came out that looked really awesome but I had no chance of buying them as they were all limited edition and too hard to find at a reasonable price.
I didn’t participate at all during Modern Masters 2 season so have got used to this feeling of not being one of the cool kids. None of this really effects my buying habits though as it is very likely my contribution to Wizards bottom line is the purchase of one fatpack on release and a draft set each week thereafter. That's been my pattern for some time with the exception of Khan's of Tarkir where I spent a bit more.

I woke up just in time to catch the start of game 5 of the world champs. It was a fantastic game and incredible tense. Seth Manfield brought it home for team #MTGDad and his tears afterwards were very endearing. Owen Turtenwald like a lot of Channel Fireball pros isn’t always the most likeable figure but it’s impossible not to respect his play skill and the way he handled himself afterwards.
Credit also to Rich Hagon for giving the players a moment to collect themselves afterwards.

This weekend is the Modern WMCQ, the event is shrouded in mystery and I still don’t know where it is. Work commitments means I am a 0.01% chance of playing in it. Still the lack of  communication is incredibly poor form from the TO, whoever it is.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

No more half art lands

Trick Jarrett from Wizards of the Coast announced that Battle for Zendikar fat packs will contain full art lands. As they fucking should was my reaction but it seemed a lot of the community were pleasantly surprised and expect and accept Wizards dolling these out as a special reward.

I strongly feel that full art and extended art cards just look much better but can understand there are some serious downsides to using those techniques on cards that are more complicated than basic lands. My full art Korean Languish from Game Day looks really sexy but I digress.
I have a full art EDH deck and like the new bordered (M15+) cards more just because the art box is a tiny fraction bigger.
While I might be in the fanatical minority on full art regular cards, I know I am not alone in loving full art lands. People love them and with good reason, they make the game look better. A lot of the time in Magic the Gathering there is just a bunch of land sitting on the table. It is in the games best interests for it to look as attractive as possible to casual onlookers walking past a real life game or someone tuning into Twich/YouTube.
Rather than use this tool to improve and grow the game, Wizards of the Coast instead plan to dole it out as a treat for established players to boost the sales of a couple of sets every few years.
Poor form and idiotic.

Half art is half-assed and shouldn't be tolerated. Rise up Magic players RISE UP!!

Make full art a permanent improvement to the game.

Other people already on board this train:

Full Art! (Explicit Language Warning)

Trick Jarrett from Wizards of the Coast announced that Battle for Zendikar fat packs will contain full art lands. As they fucking should was my reaction but it seemed a lot of the community were pleasantly surprised and expect and accept Wizards dolling these out as a special reward.

I strongly feel that full art and extended art cards just look much better, but can understand there are some serious downsides to using those techniques on cards that are more complicated than basic lands. My full art Korean Languish from Game Day looks really sexy but I digress.
I have a full art EDH deck and like the new bordered (M15+) cards more just because the art box is a tiny fraction bigger.
While I might be in the fanatical minority on full art regular cards, I know I am not alone in loving full art lands. People love them and with good reason, they make the game look better. A lot of the time in Magic the Gathering there is just a bunch of land sitting on the table. It is in the games best interests for it to look as attractive as possible to casual onlookers walking past a real life game or someone tuning into Twich/YouTube.
Rather than use this tool to improve and grow the game, Wizards of the Coast instead plan to dole it out as a treat for established players to boost the sales of a couple of sets every few years.
Poor form and idiotic.

Half art is half-assed and shouldn't be tolerated. Rise up Magic players RISE UP!!

Make full art a permanent improvement to the game.

Other people already on board this train:

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


Concept - The Late Picks

Core Sets in Review.

Origins still has a few weeks left of drafting so it's not time to wrap it up just yet, but it is the last of the core sets and that era already feels like it's done and dusted.
So I think that serves me up enough of an invitation to bring to you the inaugural and final CORE SET AWARDS!
Get excited people.

Yeah, they really did reprint that;
The Winner - Necropotence. Yes they really did.

Most Unlikely Face of Magic;

The Winner - Hurloon Minotaur

Best open; For the card I actually got to take home and keep from the set.
The Winner - Slim pickings here, I think the most valuable was the Badlands I opened but I parted with it before the day was done. Traded it away for a Dragon Whelp.

Worst open; The card that elicits the greatest groan when you open it.

The Winner - There have been some stinkers over the years and my memory won't serve them justice. Honored Heirach seems to invoke a lot of anger from people and it's not even that bad in limited.

Most coveted reprint; For the card you were super hyped to come back.

The Winner - Shivan Dragon, they took nearly everything else out of Revised but at least left big Shivan intact for 4th edition. 

Cutest card; for the cutest card, duh.

The Winner - I am going with Forge Devil in M15. I loved that guy and his cute little come into play mini flame tongue ways.

Pretiest card; 

The Winner - Elvish Archers.

Ugliest card; 
The Winner - Starfield of Nyx from Magic Origins. Maybe it looks like something other than pastel vomit if you look at it closer. I am not prepared to do that though. I think there are at least 5 articles worth of material just looking at older Magic art. Earthbind comes to mind.

Favourite card to draft; A smile every time this non rare goes into your pile.
The Winner - I have pretty good memories of Howl of the Pack in M14. A near mono green deck throwing down 6 or 7 2/2's was a draft strategy I could manage when returning from the game and playing with Korean cards for he first time.

I can't believe you played that; For that card other people loved for reasons I will never know.

The Winner: 2 x Cruel Saddist, I went pretty deep with that draft. Too deep, a well deserved scrub out.

Most improved; For the card that didn't look like much, but got there in the end.
I am going to vote for Returned Centaur. It seems to have a lot more synergy with the cards around it in Origins than it ever did in Theros.

Don't forget to; The card that is easiest to misplay.

The Winner - Interrupts, mana sources and banding, the whole game was pretty much a mystery when I started playing. 

Most fun thing you could legally do; My vote is for Zur's Weirding, it certainly led to a different game when it was played that still felt like Magic. It was also hilarious when the person who plays Zur's Weirding finds out his opponent has a much better hand. 

Most fun thing you could illegally do; Black marker pen = no more white border.

Not as good as I remember

The Winner - Hypnotic Spectre was hugely hyped when it returned but was hardly played throughout it's time in standard. Goblin Pile Driver might be a late challenger but as it stands Hippie gets the nod.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

In a slump

Interestingly Limited Resources fielded a question about mid season limited slumps. They largely attribute it to the rest of the pack catching up from those that are good at card evaluation. That fits to an extent as I do believe card evaluation (in a vacuum) is one of my talents and I am no longer going to get late pick fiery impulses and separatist voidmages or even later pick prickle boars.
I think other factors are at play too though.

The last couple of weeks and I have bombed out 1-2.
I can't remember opening anything exciting for a while and seem to have opened a lot of pain lands which have ended up in someone else's collection. That's not really a problem and just karma as I had some pretty busted cards earlier in the format, Chandra's Parents, Molten Vortex, Chandra's Ignition and Priest of the Blood Rite come to mind.

What has hurt is over valuating some cards compared to my neighbours, I seem to like Eyeblights Assassin more than most and see Leaf Gilder's and Wild Extincts as signals. I still stick to my gins that Wild Instincts later than 6th is a signal, and that misunderstanding was my neighbours fault. He was in green white (and the player to his right was also in green white) and passing 6th pick wild instincts and 8th pick Leaf Gilder doesn't make sense to me. In that draft I ended up in black green elves and the deck was solid if unspectacular. I lost in 3 in round 2 and round 3 was miserable as I would have won if I didn't allow my opponent to use rogues passage on Gaea's Revenge. I realised a turn too late that was an illegal play. Sad times and the worst way to finish a draft.
My opponent was unapologetic about it too as he was in a mood at missing out on the promo.

The latest draft I had no one to blame but myself. I correctly picked up early that black was open but couldn't figure out what other colour I should be. The correct answer was blue and I would have had an interesting blue black deck. Instead I ended up with another mid range green black deck with shadows of the past for late game in lieu of opening anything with some real punch. I can't blame my neighbours for that one, I just have a hard time picking when blue is open. Only a few cards stand out to me as signal cards and if you don't see a 4th/5th pick Voidmage or Claustrophobia I feel you need to keep an eye on the amount of blue cards relative to others in a pack. While I feel card evaluation is one of my strengths remembering to account for things like that isn't. There is just too much going on for me to handle even in a core set. The draft had 10 players in it which doesn't help but at least meant generous prize support to the tune of my 1-2 earning 2 packs.

It's really late in the draft season to still be surprised by celestial flare in not just game one but game two as well. And that was the match I won!
I really wish to just wash that funk of and hope my seat isn't meant to be black green next week as I am sick of it. 

The problem with #MTGFinance

I stumbled into a tiny twitterstorm by lending support to Marcel of the Brainstorm Brewery Podcast. He seemed a bit worn out by being the lone man arguing from the players perspective while the other hosts are in favour of a free market. #MTGFinance folks get a little defensive at any criticism as they do get blamed for a lot of stuff and cop some vile abuse.

While I enjoy #MTGFinance podcasts and dabbling on Pucca Trade I do believe that there are some negative consequences for the game. People hoarding particular cards restricts liquidity and stops them getting into the hands of players. When a fun new deck gets camera time at a big event the new cards featured are often bought out from online retailers by speculators. People excited to put together that deck can't do it straight away and will have to wait until vendors restock (at a higher price). Being able to purchase the cards you want straight away rather than wait a week (and pay more) means there is a good chance the fire goes out from that player and the new deck isn't put together at all.
That's sad and leads to less diversity at events and people not playing the deck they really want to.

#MTGFinance does make the game more affordable for the participants but lets not pretend it isn't a largely zero sum game. It doesn't have to have a huge impact on the Magic player base but finance folk have to show some restraint. I believe tiny leaders was severely hurt by finance folk going too hard too soon and increasing the barrier to entry for a format that was still trying to establish itself and build a player base.

If you are the guy that has 10 Eidolon of Great Revels and don't want to sell until they are $20 then at least consider lending them out to your LGS regular looking for them to play in an upcoming tournament. That way your future earnings aren't hurt and the player base isn't negatively affected. A huge part of #MTGFinance is networking and giving back and being a positive participant is great for the games future. The future growth and health of the game is the underwriting force that maintains the value of our collections.
This is not a new concept, 10 years ago I remember Michael Buckler was the number one binder grinder in Brisbane and had a huge collection. He saw the deck I had put together for an upcoming extended PTQ and lent me 7 fetch lands (I had zero) to use without me even thinking to ask. They made my first extended tournament a much happier experience and I went on to become a pretty serious grinder for several years. 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

No news is good news

I haven't posted in a while due to a change in work schedule not leaving me spare time in front of a desktop computer. When I sit down in my office it's a flurry of typing and printing.
The lack of writing isn't a result of a lack of Magic news, plenty of things have happened and of the top of my head all of them are positive.

Attendance and atmosphere at the Suwon shop is humming  along nicely. By the end of July I had won 3 Path to Exile Promos as the funk I was in for the last two sets has disappeared and the aggressive tempo orientation of Origins is right up my ally.

I am also turning lands sideways on more than just Sundays thanks to the release of the latest and final Duels of the Planeswalkers. The repetition and regular play even if it's only digital and with pretty precon esque decks has been god for my Magic muscle memory. I'm starting to have visions of maybe putting my toes back into the water of more competitive Magic.

Game day weekend was fairly productive as I received a Languish and 8 boosters in the first event and a Languish and Playmat in the second. I also did well enough in our regular draft to win a Serum Visions.
3 sanctioned events for me in the one weekend is massive, but not something I will get the chance to repeat any time soon.

I have a lot more to write about, but lack the time unfortunately.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Shopping updates

Red Dice is a store that I have never been to but is popular with the Seoul EDH crew.

It was brought to my attention that they now have an online store
It doesn't look like it has anything the other online stores in Korea don't have but it's nice to have options and gives a good example of what to expect when you visit there.

Playfirst have rebranded their website and look much more foreigner friendly. They ship overseas and the English components on their website actually work so this will probably become the website I recommend by default to people overseas.

The coolest thing I found on their site was a Korean Black Bordered Shivan Dragon from 4th edition for $37.