Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Naming Vampire

Hi everybody!

Okay, it's been a few days, so a few things have happened since last I blog'd.

M14 prerelease! It's a thing that happened. I was originally slated to only judge that weekend, at three different events at Mox Mania, but I ended up just doing the Friday Midnight event, and the Sunday Two-Headed Giant. So, my unbroken string of playing in prereleases continues! I think. I dunno, I may have missed one somewhere, actually. Anyway, I got to play, yay!

The two events I judge'd at were pretty uneventful. We had a great turnout for the Friday one, I think 38 players. Which was more than we were expecting. So, yay! I was originally going to have another judge helping me out, but I allowed him to play instead. Which prompted a tsk tsk from the L2 who assigned him to me, informing me after the fact that the whole point was to get me used to having an underling. Oups. :( Well, next time.

But yeah, it went pretty smoothly. Nothing really weird happened. Players seemed happy. Planeswalkers and Mutavaults were cracked. Fun was had. Yay, Magic!

So I got to play in the Sunday Sealed event with about a dozen other players. It was a nice low-key event for the L0 to get experience with. I started opening my pool, and my rares were:

* (Lifelink Sliver)
* Xathrid Necromancer
* Liliana of the Dark Realms
* Scavenging Ooze
* (Green Mythic Enchantment)
* (Green Mythic Hydra)

Whatttttttttttttttt. So I played green/black. :) My gameplan was to ramp up into my bomb rares/mythics and WIN. I also had some supporting things too, like Sengir Vampire, some ramp, and a few value creatures (Corpse Hauler). But I had little in the way of early-game or removal, and it cost me. I ended up going 2-2, losing to a tempo-oriented Slivers deck, and a deck with the Mythic Dragon and Ajani (and I failed to draw green mana). I traded all that money stuff for a black-bordered Spanish Sylvan Library and a Strionic Resonator. Okay!

So I got to play some Standard this week, and that's got me pretty excited. I decided against the MURKA deck and ended up playing the black/red/white midrange deck, aka Blood Baron:

Lands (25):
2 Cavern of Souls
3 Godless Shrine
4 Isolated Chapel
4 Blood Crypt
4 Dragonskull Summit
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Clifftop Retreat

Creatures (17):
4 Vampire Nighthawk
4 Boros Reckoner
2 Olivia Voldaren
4 Blood Baron of Vizkopa
2 Obzedat, the Ghost Council
1 Aurelia, the Warleader

Spells (17):
3 Pillar of Flame
3 Searing Spear
2 Mizzium Mortars
2 Dreadbore
1 Rakdos Charm
1 Rolling Temblor
4 Warleader's Helix
1 Blasphemous Act
1 Toil // Trouble

Sideboard (15):
1 Pillar of Flame
1 Mizzium Mortars
1 Blasphemous Act
1 Rolling Temblor
2 Sin Collector
1 Rakdos's Return
1 Pithing Needle
1 Underworld Connections
2 Rest in Peace
1 Rhox Faithmender
2 Curse of Death's Hold
1 Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded

Yes! Tibalt is back. ^_^ I know, he's terrible, but I couldn't resist. Anyway, I was pretty excited to try out my playset of Blood Barons, and, well ... let's see what happened:

Round 1: vs. Red/Black/White Homebrew.
So .. uh ... Strange deck this was. He opened on Jar of Eyeballs. Let that sink in for a minute: Jar of Eyeballs. It's a jar ... that has eyeballs in it. I think his next play was Assemble the Legion. Oh, and some Faithless Lootings, pitching Tragic Slips and maybe lands? I played some Vampires and stuff, which got Blasphemous Act'd, but Obzedat helped me recover and finish the job. I figured he was some kind of weird Stuffy Doll combo, so I planned for that. The next game was actually kinda like an Aristocrats variant, with a bunch of Doomed Travelers and Falkenrath Nobles (yes, Noble, not Aristocrat) and a Heartless Summoning (killing his own 1/1 creatures ... oups). He tried getting me with a Sire of Insanity, but Searing Spear put a stop to that particular shenanigan. Then I think he had another one, but I had a Blood Baron to finish quickly thereafter. Odd deck that probably had too much going on to be really competitive, but it looked like a lot of fun to play. It looked like a more combo-y version of The Aristocrats, with lots of death-trigger stuff (especially Morbid). Probably too many moving parts, but the guy was great to play with, and I always appreciate a good homebrew. Win, 2-0. Record: 1-0.

Mustard counters!
Round 2: vs. Jund Midrange.
Okay, a more typical deck. I don't remember exactly how game one went, but I seem to recall tossing around lots of burn and removal at his sundry Olivias, Garruks, and/or Thragtusks. I probably won with an Obzedat or something. I sided in Tibalt (yes!), Assemble the Legion, Mortars, and ... something else. Rakdos's Return? Sure. Anyway, he had me on the ropes for a while, hovering around 2-4 life, when Assemble the Legion pretty much single-handedly took over the game. He lacked a Wolf Run, so my musters chump blocked his Beasts for a few turns until I was able to start trading with them, and then start regaining life with ... something. Blood Baron, probably. Or Obzedat. Or both. Good times. I think I want a second Assemble in my board, because the card is rockin not unlike Dokken. Win, 2-0. Record: 2-0.

Counter target Blasphemous Act. Oh, and have a Human token, too.
Round 3: vs. Green/White Humans.
"Cavern, naming Human, Champion, go." "Oh. This deck." Well, it wasn't the Naya Blitz deck I thought it was. But regardless, I basically tossed burn at all of his creatures, and then Blood Barons took over. The second game was close, because he had a Rootborn Defenses for my Blasphemous Act. But he didn't have anything for the second one I also had. Then Blood Barons took over. Win, 2-0. Record: 3-0.

Round 4: Intentional Draw.
Well that was that! I never got a chance to actually play the guy, since we were both keen to get home to our respective significant others. Turns out the guy has only been playing again for a couple months or something like that, having not played since Unlimited (!). So yeah, it's pretty cool to get another old timer back into the game. :) Still really wish I'd have not tossed all my old cards. :/ Oh well. I got new cool cards now. :)

So yeah! This deck is pretty sweet. I had a blast playing it. It's basically 1/3 lands, 1/3 burn, and 1/3 Blood Barons. Cavern-Naming-Vampire was a common play, but I did get to name Advisor one time too. I kinda wanted to name something silly at some point (like Badger), but I never got that chance. Oh well, next time. Anyway! Some thoughts on the deck:

* Gameplan was straight-forward, yet effective: Burn early, Blood Barons late.
* Mizzium Mortars is a blowout if I can overload it. It's still fine if I "merely" 1-for-1 with it early, too. Sweet card.
* Warleader's Helix is pretty sweet. It hit planeswalkers, it hit midrange creatures, it hit players, and it games me 4 life! Card was very worthy of being a 4-of.
* Obzedat and Aurelia are kinda Blood Barons #5-7, but they each did their own thing pretty well. I only got Aurelia out once, and though she ended up dying to a Vampire Nighthawk, she did a good job of ushering Blood Baron in for a 16-point life swing to seal the game. Obzedat was great at closing out games, too.
* Holy crap Assemble the Legion did a lot of work in that Jund matchup. It turned a losing position into a "not dead yet" position into a "holy crap I'm stabilizing position" to a "huh, looks like you're outta creatures" position into a "overrun with mustard" position. That's one card. I gotta find room for another one. So much mustard.
* Boros Reckoner didn't really get much of a chance to do his thing. Most of the time, he was the first or second threat I deployed, so he was the first one to eat a removal spell. That's fine. That's one less removal for my vampires.

I'm not sure where to take this deck moving forward. M14 might add a few interesting things, like the color hosers, or Doom Blade. The Archangel of Thune sounds kinda sweet, I suspect that it'd be better if I had more creatures to put counters on. Maybe this isn't the deck for her. Fiendslayer Paladin could be good, especially if I get several of them (and/or Boros Reckoners) out. Lifebane Zombie could be good as an Appetite for Brains-on-a-stick kinda card to bring in against W/G fatty decks. Something to think about!

Not much is going on at the moment. I've got some Judge stuff coming up, working at a PTQ in Green Bay, and a SCG event in Milwaukee. That'll be fun, and great opportunity, too. I definitely want to get more Competitive experience in. I still don't feel 100% confident doing policy-related stuff quite yet, and the more I see and deal with stuff, the faster I'll learn. Fun!

Okay, well that's it for now. Thanks for reading!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Fiend Blood .. Winning!

Hi everybody!

So this card's terrible, rigth?
So I played at Mox's win-a-box thingy this week, but I didn't get a chance to throw together a UWR deck, so I just played my GRUUL SMASH deck. And a funny thing happened: I found a matchup to bring in Tibalt against! Jund/Midrange! They spend their first 4-5 turns just farting around and setting stuff up and sandbagging their sequence of big dorks. If they let Tibalt live, and I get him up to 6, I'll steal their big dorks and beat them with them.

So, I recklessly looted my own hand, ticking Tibalt up to 5, and then blew up my opponent's brain in his face! My opponent counted out his hand: 6 cards. 6 life. And I couldn't help but to laugh with maniacal (and perhaps slightly unsportsmanlike) glee. The rest of the store looked at me with a mixture of awe and pity. U MAD, MOX?

Unfortunately, the rest of the night didn't go quite so well. I won another match, and lost the other two, finishing just outside "the money" at 2-2 with mediocre tiebreakers (I'm pretty sure the guy who Tibalt burned out dropped after that humiliation).

Aurelia: guild leader in chief? I don't really know what that means.
So yeah, I think I'll put together that MURKA deck. Hey, yeah, it was the 4th yesterday, so ... MURKA!


Monday, July 1, 2013

Yay, Magic!

So, busy Magic weekend! I did a whole heck of a lot of Judging, and I loved every minute of it.

I don't remember if I mentioned this in my last post, but I got a regular weekly gig, judging FNM at Mox Mania. I'm pretty excited about that. It'll be lots of experience, and lots of fun. I'm getting to know more of the Mox regulars, and they're pretty great folks. So this Friday was the first time for me running it, and it was pretty cool. I got a few questions, and got to chat with a few of the players, a couple of things I love doing.

Saturday was a small, yet important rung on my rhetorical "Judge Ladder." I was a member of a team working the TCGplayer 5K this weekend. I was on the Deck Checks team, but of course I didn't spend 10 hours just doing that (after mid-round deck checks, we're free to roam the floor and take calls). Then, about halfway through the event, I got relegated to Side Events duty. That basically meant babysitting the pair of 8-person events, one DGR Block Draft and one Win-A-Box Standard. That basically meant just watching people play and making random small talk. I think I answered one or two actual game-related rules questions between both events. But hey, somebody's gotta do it, might as well be the new guy, amirite? :)

It occured to me as I was leaving the event: at that point, over the last 24 hours, I had been on Judge Duty more than not. I'm okay with that. :) My feet .. maybe not so much. :/

But it was lots of fun. I got to meet some other judges, and everyone I met was pretty great. I took a few calls, and only stumbled on a couple of small-ish things. I did have to intervene in one match when I witnessed a borderline Improperly Determining the Winner of a Match situation. Mr. Head Judge investigated, and let them off with a very stern Caution.

So yeah, quick soapbox mode:

Do not improperly determine the winner of a match! This means either you play it out, or just concede or intentionally draw. You can't roll a die, flip a coin, play rock-paper-scissors, play Mario Kart, flip over the top card of your library, etc. And don't make any offer of a draw or concession based on any kind of incentive. Splitting prizes is fine, drawing/conceding is fine, but they CANNOT be contingent on each other. The two must be strictly separate. "Wanna split prizes?" "Okay." "Wanna ID?" "Cool." This is perfectly acceptable. "I'll ID with you if we can split prizes" is not okay. If you have questions, call a judge. That's what we're here for!

Okay, speaking of which, has everybody seen this crazy card?

Copy a triggered ability! So what the heck is a triggered ability? It's basically anything that looks like this: "When [some event occurs], [do some game action]." Both abilities of Thragtusk are triggered abilities ("When Thragtusk enters the battlefield ..." and "When Thragtusk leaves the battlefield ..."). Doubling Season is actually not a triggered ability .. it's a static ability that generates a replacement effect ("If [something would happen], [do something else] instead."). Avacyn's Pilgrim's ability isn't a triggered ability .. it's an activated ability (written "[Cost(s)]: [effect]".).

The fact that I had to spend a paragraph describing what a triggered ability is shows that I'm probably going to get asked quite a few questions about this card. To which I say, cool! I love answered rules questions. If I don't know the answer, I love finding out the answer. For example, how does this thing affect Isochron Scepter?

Honestly, I didn't know at first. It was pretty clear to me that you could exile two cards with the two different Imprint abilities. But what happens when you activate its second ability? It says "copy the imprinted card" ... singular.

Turns out, the singular-ness of that wording is a red herring. The word "card" in this case is shorthand for "card or cards." So, you get both of em! It's similar to what happens when you get two Angel tokens from Geist of Saint Traft via Doubling Season. You exile both of them. A more precise wording would be "exile all tokens created by this ability"), but that's too wordy for an already-wordy ability. It's also confusing when the plural version would almost never matter in actual games. So, just "exile that token." Likewise, "copy the imprinted card" is shorthand for "copy all imprinted cards." I'm not sure it's even possible to Imprint two cards onto Isochron Scepter right now ...

Oh, I got to play this weekend too. I didn't have much going on Sunday afternoon, so I dusted off my Modern Delver deck, added a few new toys (Vendilion Clique in the main, Electrolyze and Spell Snare in the side), and gave it a whirl. I had a lot of fun playing and hanging out and watching others play. We actually got a fully-sanctioned event to fire, even! I think we had 11 players. I ended up going 3-1, losing to a Goblins deck. I can deal with a few of the pests biting my kneecaps, but not a whole bunch of them coming every single turn. D: But anyway. I also beat a Junk deck that got bad draws, a casual Simic Merfolk/Wizard deck, and a Scapeshift deck. And I got to answer rules questions. :) I love answering rules questions! :D I'm a nerd, I know ... But yeah, I also got to watch someone win through a fully active Urzatron engine with multiple Eldrazi out. It looked like he had a combo of Eternal Witness and Cryptic Command going to tap down his monsters and bounce his Witness. Fun! Reminds me of that weird deck that a Japanese pro player played last year. It looked like a lot of fun, and I wanna try playing something like that.

Yay, Magic! :)