Monday, August 4, 2014

Catching Up


Well, lots to catch up on here. Should I talk about judge stuff first, or player stuff first? Well, the player stuff is fresh[-ish] in my mind, so I guess I'll start there.


Because of work busy-ness, I was unable to commit to judging the local PTQ next weekend, so I'm considering playing instead. I attended the weekly Modern tournament at Mox (which is now being run as a win-a-box event) to see how I fared.

Oh, first I guess I should talk about my deck. It's basically The list I played with yesterday looks kinda like this:

Land (24):
4 Verdant Catacombs
2 Marsh Flats
1 Stomping Ground
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Blood Crypt
4 Raging Ravine
1 Lavaclaw Reaches
4 Blackcleave Cliffs
1 Twilight Mire
2 Swamp
1 Forest
1 Llwanowar Wastes
1 Dragonskull Summit
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

Creature (14):
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Dark Confidant
3 Scavenging Ooze
2 Courser of Kruphix
1 Kitchen Finks

Spells (23):
1 Slaughter Pact
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Inquisition of Kozilek
3 Thoughtseize 
3 Abrupt Decay
1 Terminate
3 Liliana of the Veil
2 Anger of the Gods
1 Blightning
1 Maelstrom Pulse
 Sideboard (15):
3 Fulminator Mage
2 Ancient Grudge
1 Batterskull
1 Thoughtseize
1 Liliana of the Veil
2 Rakdos Charm
1 Golgari Charm
1 Jund Charm
1 Thrun, the Last Troll
2 Engineered Explosives

Okay, I have an extra card listed in there somewhere. Not sure what's in there that's not supposed to be. Anyway .... Not much too unusual. Blightning is a card I had played against me in random testing in the past, and I didn't much care for it. I figured it'd be good as a lol-of. So here's how the rounds went:

Round 1: vs. Goryo's Vengeance
I had a tough time against this deck when I was playing U/W/R Midrange. They can combo out really fast, and U/W disruption isn't that great. Playing Jund, however, with its bevy of discard spells, I had no problem dismantling his combo and his ability to recover from having his combo dismantled. Having him discard an Izzet Charm to pave the way for Scavenging Ooze for redundancy was pretty satisfying. Win, 2-0. Record: 1-0.

Round 2: vs. Robots
As much as I roll my eyes at this cliche'd deck (though what's the saying about pointing your finger and three fingers pointing back at you?), I always enjoy the actual matches against it. Sure, they can come out super fast and tromple all over you, but the times they don't, it's a super fun, interactive, back & forth, grindy match. The kinda match that makes this game so much fun. Anyway, I lost in three tough games. In the third game, I failed to find my Ancient Grudges before his burn spells Galvanically Blasted away the clocks I had on him. Loss, 1-2. Record: 1-1.

Round 3: vs. W/B hate bears
I'm not entirely sure what this guy was playing, but it seemed to have a bunch of random W/B hate creatures. Thalia, Leonin Arbiter, Aven Mindcensor, Lifebane Zombie. I saw a Thought of Brimaz at one point too, but I 'Seized that one before it became a problem. This matchup wasn't terribly difficult. Aven Mindcensor was kind of a pain in the butt with his Paths and Ghost Quarters, but thankfully, my deck operates pretty well on 2-3 mana, so I didn't have much of a problem whittling his hand and board down to nothing. Win, 2-0. Record: 2-1.

Round 4: vs. RUG Twin
He had a Breeding Pool at one point, and seemed to be leaning on a Clique and Snapper to put a clock on me, so I had him on Tarmo-Twin, but I never saw the Tarmo. He admitted afterwards that he doesn't own them (I guess not everybody has $800 cash or store credit to spend ... that was sarcasm), otherwise they'd be in there. Anyway, the games ... they were pretty fun and interactive and back and forth. Kinda like the Robots matchup, I guess. But this time I guess I'm the beatdown? Anyway, this matchup wasn't nearly as difficult as I thought it might be. Sure, some of my stuff got countered and/or Clique'd. But he was tapped out often enough where I was able to sneak in a Thoughtseize and/or Inquisition to strip away his combo pieces and stick a threat or two. Game two ended in pretty sweet sequence of events. I passed the turn with three lands up. He flashed in Exarch to tap one of them down. He topdecked the fourth land he needed. This is roughly what transpired:
"Splinter Twin?"
"Um .. tap?"
"Uh .. untap?"
*wiggles Exarch/Twin back & forth*
"How many times?"
"Um .. three hundred .. and .. eighty-seven?"
"Okay. ... Rakdos Charm?"
(lolz all around, followed by a good-natured handshake)
Win, 2-0. Record: 3-1.

So yeah. That was me playing a net.dec. It was a lot of fun. The deck is super sweet. Very interactive, and versatile enough that no matchup feels unwinnable. As the afternoon went on, I had some thoughts about a few things:

  • The manabase feels kinda shaky in a classic Jund way. I'm kinda afraid of running into a Blood Moon or Spreading Seas deck at some point and it just wrecking me. Since my deck is topping out at 3 (pre-board anyway), I'm thinking about cutting a land. But I'd hate to be missing that one land I need to cast that one spell at that one critical time. I dunno. I do feel like the deck needs more green. Maybe a Rootbound Crap instead of Dragonskull Summit? Or maybe that's what Grove of the Burnwillows is for?
  • I liked Lavaclaw Reaches as a random one-of. Sometimes I didn't quite have enough mana to activate Raging Ravine, so might as well swing for 2. It's nice to be able to have something to sink mana into as well. But having 5 ETB-tapped lands can be kinda rough.
  • Tarmogoyf. Yeah, card's good! I kept finding the games playing out with me and my opponent trading a few cards one-for-one for the first couple-three turns, and then I'd play a Tarmogoyf that happened to be 4/5 or 5/6 just from all the crap that ends up dead. Then a couple turns later it's like, oh you're dead? Dang. Sorta reminds me of Geist in U/W/R, but much less fragile, and much easier to cast. Seriously.
  • Blightning. For a random fun-of, I sure saw this card a lot. And I was *never* disappointed to see it or to cast it. It's about a pure a 2-for-1 as you can get, but being able to finish the job that Inquisition and Thoughtseize start .. it's good. Sometimes the three damage is relevant too.
  • I feel like the deck wants one more random Naturalize effect. I'm not sure it wants actual Naturalize, but maybe something like Nature's Claim? Or Unravel the AEther? Or Destructive Revelry?
  • I kept wanting to bring Batterskull in, but I'm honestly kinda afraid of Bobbing it. :/ Any cost, I guess.
  • I should probably have another midrange thingy in there somewhere. Maybe Chandra? Huntmaster? Olivia?
So yeah, I like the deck. It's good, it's fun, it's interactive, and I'm doing well with it. I think I'll give the PTQ a shot. :)


I started running Mono-Blue devotion in Standard, for three primary reasons:
  1. I had the cards for it.
  2. It's doing well in the metagame.
  3. "If you can't beat it, play it."
I've only played it once so far, but I 4-0'd with it. That was 2 weeks ago, however, so I don't remember much about the matches. I remember getting kinda lucky against Sligh and G/x Devotion, but having fun with the deck. Master of Waves is serious business. It's nice to play with my pimp Judge's Familiars, too.


It's been pretty interesting in the Judge community for these last few weeks. For those who may not know exactly what's been going on, here's a summary of the recent changes:
  1. Clarification of bullying & harassment as Unsporting Conduct -- Major
  2. Re-definition of Level 2 requirements.
  3. Changes to PTQ and GPT structure.
  4. Re-purposing of Judge Foils.
A lot of this has been covered and explained elsewhere, so I'll just summarize and offer my brief thoughts.

1. Don't harass or bully people. This includes posting unauthorized photos of butt cracks and/or insulting comments on social media. I'm very happy about this clarification. It's showing that we're serious about making Magic tournaments safe environments for anybody to come play. It's also sparking a lot of great dialogue amongst the judge community about these issues, which is having the effect of increasing awareness and sensitivity. This might all sound like PC bullshit to some people, but it's absolutely necessary if we want to broaden the tournament player base to include people other than 20-something male geeks (and we do!).

2. L2 candidates now need to write three reviews, and head-judge two Competitive-REL events with another judge. This is also now an annual requirement. At first I was kind of skeptical, worrying that there were going to be a dozen L2s fighting for head-judge jobs at random 10-player GPTs or IQs. The reviews part is totally okay with me.

3. Ah! So this is what the L2 requirement is all about. PTQs are going to be a two-tiered thing now. Local stores are going to host Preliminary PTQs, the winners of which can play in a Regional PTQ, the top 4 or 8 of which (depending on number of players) qualify for the Pro Tour. Since there are going to be more store events, there are going to be more L2s needed. But we need to make sure the quality of these L2s is up to snuff.

4. Judge foils are no longer going to be given as compensation for Judges working Grand Prix events. Instead there is an "Exemplar" program, where Judges can nominate each other for recognition. I'm a little skeptical about this one, but I'm trying to maintain a "wait and see" attitude. How this works out will depend on (1) how Grand Prix compensation adjusts, (2) how the Exemplar program can keep from becoming a mere popularity contest, and (3) whether or not I can get my hands on one of those sweet sweet sexy Phyrexian-language Elesh Norn cards. <3

One thing I've noticed is that they seem to be working hard to accommodate the growth of the game to make it a fun experience for everyone. It's weird that these announcements have all come out piecemeal, but looking at the big picture, it makes sense. I suspect there are going to be some growing pains, especially with Judge compensation and the new PTQ structure. But it was the same way when they rolled out Planeswalker Points, and they were able to tweak that into something that people seem to enjoy. I'm confident that these changes (and subsequent tweaks) are going to be a net positive for the game. I'm happy to be part of the community, and I look forward to the future.

On that note, I guess that's it for now. Thanks for reading!