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.