Saturday, June 5, 2010

FNM: T2 Constructed

After licking my wounds from last week's Houston PTQ Amsterdam, I decided to take my deck to T2 FNM. I had been doing some thinking about tweaking the deck, but I felt my sideboard needed the work more than the deck. I ditched the Naturalize and Spell Pierce for Relic Crush and Negate.

The only round where I made a big play mistake was round 1. I was paired up with RDW and we had both won a game. Game 3 was close, but I felt I was about to take control of the game. My mistake was tapping out my blue to sneak in Jace 2 while my opponent didn't have any threats on the board. He played Plated Geopede, Devastating Summons, and Goblin Bushwhacker to swing for lethal. To add insult to injury, I was holding two Flashfreeze. Next time I won't tap out my blue knowing my opponent has haste + summons.

The rest of my matches were fairly normal. Round 3 was another Time Sieve combo. He sided in 2 Baneslayers which caught me with my pants down. I did not see it coming and lost game 3. See my PTQ report to see my stellar record against Time Sieve. Sigh.

I placed 9th out of 27 with a record of 3-2. Overall, I was pleased with my deck more than my performance, which means I need to keep playing and exposing myself to more deck types.

Live the dream!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

PTQ: A Recap

Last Saturday was the Houston PTQ Amsterdam event. Having never played in a constructed event this decade, I was a bit unsure of how to approach the event. The deck I was running was pure rogue; something called Walk Hard. I'll get to that in a moment.

There were 168 entrants, and it was 8 rounds of Swiss play. The card store was bustling with last minute deals and changes. Someone was frantically looking for an M10 dual and someone else was looking for a playset of Vengevine ($40 a pop that day...). I, however, was as calm and collected as I could be. I recognized a couple of guys I had seen at some FNM limited events, but I mainly kept to myself for the hour prior to the start.

I won't go into much detail about my rounds, because my record was pretty abysmal. With that said, I don't think a record of 1-3-2 (dropped after 6) really shows just how close some of the matches were. I could have easily gone 3-2-1 had my luck (and sideboard choices) been a bit different.

The only round of note was Round 1, which put me up against a Jund deck running Sarkhan the Mad and SGC. Game 1 was all him. Leech, Blightning, BBE, and Sarkhan was too much for me to handle. His draw was solid while my draw was land flood and not enough gas to get going. I noticed that after game 1, my opponent didn't sideboard, which wasn't surprising because I think I only played 1 Overgrown Battlement.

Game 2 was a real shock to us both. I got a good draw and was able to land a Nest Invader, an Overgrown Battlement, Howling Mine, and a Garruk. On my turn 6 I went off. I started Time Warping, which drew me into a Twin Cast and another Time Warp. I landed Jace TMS to dig, and caught a surprise Mnemonic Wall. This allowed me to reset my Time Warps to take another 3-4 turns. By the time I ran out of gas, I had taken about 9 consecutive turns and dropped 3 overgrown Battlements, 1 Mnemonic Wall, 1 Jace TMS, 2 Nest Invaders, a couple of Garruk 3/3 tokens, and a Sphinx of Jwar Isle. I still had a full hand and would have been able to repeat the process the following turn. When I passed turn, my opponent conceded.

He ominously said, "Now I know what your deck does."

He sideboarded like a mad-man while I kept my deck the same from game 2. Game three was a good aggro battle. I dropped 3 Overgrown Battlements which my opponent tried to Pulse. I had an Aether Tradewind ready and bounced his largest threat to return my Battlement, effectively saving all my super mana walls. I never really Walked Hard in game 3, but I caught a good mid-game Time Warp and ended up winning with 1 Sphinx on the board and another in my hand. We shook hands and he told me my deck was crazy.

At the end of the day, I ran into my opponent from round 1 again. He asked me how I was doing, and I told him that I had dropped after losing 3. He seemed quite shocked to know I had dropped. He had been undefeated since playing me in round 1. He informed me that he had been telling every person he played that there was this guy "playing some crazy Blue/Green deck that takes like a million turns." That comment made my day!

I'm not sure what the fate of the deck will be, but I still enjoy the underlying concept too much to abandon outright. Perhaps a few tweaks would make it more competitive.

Overall, I really enjoyed the PTQ. Time to see what other events are on the horizon.

Keep Tapping.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Houston PTQ Amsterdam

Houston PTQ Amsterdam is lurking at the end of this week and I am getting a little excited about competing. You see, the last time I entered a real MTG constructed tournament was back in 1997-ish. I don't even remember what the heck I played. It was probably either White Weenie or Permission.

The PTQ will be held at 3rd Coast Cards in Katy, TX. I stopped by the shop a few days ago to pick up a pair of Time Warps to finish off my deck and to scope out the scene. I was glad I stopped by for several reasons. First, the store owner was a nice guy and we had a decent little conversation about Magic. Second, I had a chance to see a bit of the metagame at the store. U/W Control and American Planeswalkers (UWr) should be heavily represented. With that said, I think Jund will comprise the largest segment of the field, as usual.

Speaking of decks, what deck will I be running? If you paid attention, you'll remember that I mentioned Time Warp in the above paragraph. Before you start calling out Runeflare Trap, Time Sieve, or Turbofog, rest assured I'll be running a pure rogue deck called Walk Hard.

Since this will be my first full blown constructed event, I have no real goals except to have fun and win at least 1 round! I think those goals are achievable. Post-tournament report soon to follow...


Friday, May 21, 2010

My First "Magical" Experience

I was reading a post over on the MTG Salvation forums about opening your first MTG pack, and while I do not recall my exact first pack, the thought of my first exposure to MTG came to my mind. It's not really something I think about that often, but I decided to write about it.

In 8th grade, I was a young, pimply-faced young man who's voice was as squeaky as a wooden floor. I was into RPG video games like Betrayal at Krondor and Arena: The Elder Scrolls. At school, there were students that played a strange card game in the empty halls and quiet corners during lunchtime. They sat on the floor, backs hunched, peering down at funny looking cards with pictures on them. The students would move the cards around, point at things, and talk about the game even after it had ended.

Not many people talked to those students. They were the nerds and dorks, the outcasts that wore faded heavy metal shirts, had shaggy hair, and brought sack lunches from home. Other students would make fun of them as they walked by. Only losers would play a card game at school, right? I didn't look or act like those students at all, but the game they played intrigued me. How did it play? What did the pictures and text mean? How did you win?

One day, I walked up to a group of them and watched them play. They didn't look up from their games or stop the conversation, but I am sure they sensed me standing there, looking like I was the outsider. I asked one of them what game they were playing.

"Magic," he told me.

"How do you play?" I inquired.

From then on, I was hooked. I had no understanding of the game as he explained it to me, but the cards seemed so interesting and cool as he walked me through a turn. Attacking, defending, and casting spells seemed to be the main focus of the game. Some cards seemed more powerful than others, and when they would hit the floor, one player would smile while the other would swear. Every player had a different looking deck, with different colors. I knew I had to buy some cards and learn how to play.

I can't recall which specific packs/sets I purchased, but I know I had some Chronicles, Homelands, 4th Ed, and Ice Age. One of my favorite cards was Dakkon Blackblade. The card art by Richard Kane Ferguson was superb. It was as if I could feel the power of the "Summon Legend." Of course Dakkon Blackblade sucked (still does), but I didn't know it!

After a few weeks, most of my friends were hooked on Magic, too. We would play at home and at school. Eventually, we sat with the outcast kids and played as long as we could before, during, and after school. We didn't care about labels or what people thought. The game was fun, and the people who played it were smart and friendly; certainly not "losers." Besides, this was a game that we played.

I played Magic until the end of Tempest block. It was my last year of high school and the game had become less important, less relevant. As college dreams loomed on the horizon, I put my cards in boxes, where they collected dust for over a decade. Over the years, my friends and I would still play in the occasional booster draft. While at school, I played in a couple drafts just to see if I could still play. It was always fun to ask my opponent what a certain ability meant, genuinely looking like a total scrub, and then getting 2nd place in the draft.

Magic is like riding a bicycle, I think. Once you get it, you get it. The sets and cards may change, but deep down, underneath the colors and flavor text, the rules of the game stay the same. The most important rule, I think, is to have fun, and be willing to explain the game to someone who might be an outsider.