Draft Modern

MagicFest Kansas City 2019

I took my wife & kids to Kansas City for a fun weekend and, lo and behold, there just so happened to be a MagicFest going on at the convention center attached to our hotel… WHAT A COINCIDENCE.

Regular draft sign-ups were over by the time I arrived on Friday evening, but there was a Modern side event firing soon so I gave that a shot. Two of my favorite artists were in attendance so I got some cards in my trusty Ponza deck signed just before we started: Arbor Elf and Tireless Tracker by R.K. Post and Eric Deschamps, respectively.

I went 0-4 in Modern, it was embarrassing. I got locked by the new Karn, the Great Creator + Mycosynth Lattice combo twice, and also lost to UR Phoenix and Cheerios Storm (of all things). Look, I’m a huge fan of Modern – an apologist, even – but the format is a garbage fire right now, and I think the newly-implemented London Mulligan is going to make it worse. On the other hand, we have Modern Horizons entering the fray so maybe that will shake things up. I’ll hope for the best but I see some bannings in our future. I could go on, but that’s a rant for another day.

Come sunrise and with the bad beats out of my system, I set out upon a draft binge. I drafted from 9am until 9pm, skipping meals and not drinking enough water. I lost track of how many drafts I did. It was glorious. I started the day with a P1P1 Chandra, Fire Artisan.

This deck needed some Bloom Hulks to be truly nuts but whatever: I drew Chandra and Nissa over and over. I could probably add 20 other cards and take this pile to Standard Showdown at my LGS. After this I had a few middling drafts where I died in round one or two but there was always a bright side. Maybe my deck was bad but at least I pulled a Karn. Or maybe I died but my opponent was a nice kid soaking in his first event of this size and I was truly happy that he was having such fun. Of course, fun is fun but winning is nice, too, so I was pretty stoked to end the day on a bit of a heater.

I signed up for a Chaos Draft. Some people can’t turn it off long enough to spew on something like this but I like the screw-around nature of it. Everyone got one “premium” pack – mine was Masters 25 – and it was funny that we all chose to open that pack first. Nobody wanted to slow-roll their expensive pack until the end!

Whether it’s at your friendly neighborhood LGS with folks you know personally, or it’s at a huge MagicFest with total strangers, when you sit down at a draft table you’re naturally gonna look across at the player you’ll face in round one and try to size them up. At this table, my dude was a real Chatty Cathy who seemed to know what he was doing. Had plenty of comments about what the guys next to him might be doing wrong, how he had things figured out, etc. I won’t draw this guy up as a cartoon villain or whatever – he’s just a dude – but I will say that I didn’t wanna lose to him.

My packs were Masters 25, Fate Reforged and Ravnica Allegiance. I first-picked an Elvish Piper out of my Masters 25 pack – no Jace?! Rip-off! After that I settled into kind of a blue-red spells deck with 2x Jhessian Thief (one foil, holla) and a Metallurgic Summonings. Maybe the Shiv’s Embrace was loose but I think it’s okay to build some “Bogle Equity” into your deck when the aura’s good enough. This Shiv’s Embrace was foil, too, so that counts for something, right?

The one thing I feel like I did wrong in the draft portion was in pack 3, my Ravnica Allegiance pack. My rare was Angel of Grace but there was also a Rubblebelt Recluse that my deck really wanted. I was never going to play the Angel but the dopey little kid in me thought “sweet, mythic Angel!” so I took it. It’s worth like a crummy dollar, what was I doing?! Of course, I wheeled the Rubblebelt Recluse and learned nothing. Aside from the admittedly dorky vanilla Gilded Cerodon, I think this deck came together nicely.

Round one versus Guy Who Knows What He’s Doing: Opponent was also on blue-red spells, featuring triple-Guttersnipe. His deck might have been sick; alas, the world will never know. Game one he misses on lands and does nothing. Game two he does manage to go Guttersnipe + Guttersnipe and maybe he’s finna go off but then my turn four (after playing guys on 2 & 3) is sideboard Blue Elemental Blast on one Guttersnipe and Heat Ray on the other. Homeboy’s life is ruined at that point. Stomp.

Round two versus BW Gain-Drain: The match whose winner I’d be playing took FOREVER in round one so I got a good look at their decks while watching them play after I’d finished my own match. Please note I wasn’t nefariously scouting here, I was innocently wasting away as these durdles ate up time like a couple of Langoliers (I owe my friends Mat & Steve a nickel for using that joke). Anyway, one guy seemed to have really gotten there with a BW lifegain/drain deck. He had some payoffs like Epicure of Blood and, especially, Sanguine Bond along with a cadre of cards that either incidentally gain some life or have a repeatable effect. Frankly, I’m impressed.

So, BW guy wins his round one and then we play. I dunno what I was sweating for; I easily go under him while he’s farting around, casting Sanguine Bond as his only nonland permanent while I’ve already got him on the clock. He gives me enough time to go off with Metallurgic Summonings and X spells, so I appreciated having that opportunity.

Round three versus Guy Who Didn’t Know What Time It Was: “Do you wanna just split? No, you wanna play? Okay.”

Friends, one of the simplest, purest thrills in Magic is laying a ranch on the galaxy brain who no-sir’s the split. I don’t mean to portray this guy negatively, he was very pleasant to play with and I think he may have been a little green and didn’t quite know what was up. I think the best thing I saw out of him was a Crocodile of the Crossing, which I agree is a sweet card. Not much to say, I put my boot on this guy’s neck. Sweetest play was manifesting Rubblebelt Recluse with Write into Being and unmorphing it in combat. Almost as good as flipping up a Woolly Loxodon! (KTK was a goat-tier limited format, btw)

Coincidentally, my wife came into the convention hall and found me right as we were finishing up and snapped a photo. GG’s my dude, I’m gonna leave with my pretty wife and collect my 300 skeeball tickets now.

At a certain point in the evening they start running “Turbo Drafts” instead of the typical 3-round affairs. You draft a normal 8-person table with the normal cross-table pairings, but you only play one round and the 4 winners get appropriately scaled-up skeeball tix. My first turbo draft deck wasn’t anything special, I had hella Bloom Hulks but wasn’t really “going off” with them (zero Kronch Wranglers).

We went to game 3 in this match and it was a sweet one. Opponent was super cool and I appreciated him; shout-outs, wherever you are. We got into a wide board stall but after several turns of draw-go I topdecked Chandra’s Pyrohelix. I told the guy, “okay, I think I have this; I attack with everything” – but he did have a couple cards and some untapped mana. I didn’t believe there was anything in the format that could get him out of exactsies – but I’m gonna die if I don’t go for it sooner rather than later. So, I made the attack and let him block and then cast the Chandra’s Pyrohelix, somewhat apologetically saying “I’m not trying to slowroll you” and he was totally cool about it, he said it was the best match he’d had all day. Respek.

It’s getting late at this point, so I’m like “okay just ONE more…” I first-pick a Jaya’s Greeting but then get a pack with Spark Harvest, foil Spark Harvest and Command the Dreadhorde. I take the foil Spark Harvest but I’m thinking somebody’s gotta be going black after this. I settle into red-white after a few picks and end up with this sicko – I think all the rares were passed to me.

There were a couple of Lincoln acquaintances in this draft pod with me, a husband-wife duo; I was glad not to be paired against either of them. As I glanced over I saw one of them with an anemic board while their opponent, a small child, had both God-Eternal Oketra and Storrev, Devkarin Lich in play off of only the appropriate basic lands… so just ponder that. Woof. Anyway, my opponent never had a prayer.

After that it was last call, somewhere after 9pm, and while I could have probably squeezed in one more Turbo Draft, it felt like an appropriate time to call it quits. I cashed in my skeeball tix for some merch and enough assorted packs to host my own Chaos Draft sometime soon.

All in all, a great day of durdling. Many thanks to my lovely family for letting me abandon them all day. For what it’s worth, I invited the kids to come along but they just do not care about Magic at all. Fair enough!

After that, we had some barbecue and checked out a museum. Holla.


HobbyBear Open – Summer 2018

It’s been a while since I’ve had anything worthwhile to report coming out of a tourney but the sun has shined on a dog’s behind once again, so here’s my rundown of the HobbyBear Open – Summer 2018 here in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Once again we had a playmat with original art by Ron Spencer, that will line up with the next event’s playmat to create a panorama. I have religiously attended all of these, I’m very grateful to have something like this here in Lincoln. Attendance was not amazing this time around, 54 players, but that may have been partly due to it being Husker football’s opening day – which incidentally was cancelled due to lightning.

But anyway, here’s the playmat art, along with my MVPs:

I, of course, played Ponza. I just can’t help myself. I actually do own the cards for other, better decks but you gotta listen to your heart my dudes.

Round 1 vs Burn: My maindeck Scavenging Oozes start ruling the day at the outset. Opponent maybe had a suboptimal draw, but gaining a few life with an Ooze and presenting a blocker that wasn’t gonna get mugged by a prowess’d up Monastery Swiftspear was great. I guess the one tight play I made here was resolving Chandra, Flamecaller when opp had 2x Monastery Swiftspear on board, 1 untapped Mountain and 1 card in hand. I had the sense to minus-3 on Chandra to play around a prowess trigger if he had Lightning Bolt. After that, I think opp misinterpreted who was the beatdown and I closed it up. (1-0)

Round 2 vs BridgeVine: This deck is sick, if you thought the Hollow One decks were nuts, think again. Luckily opp didn’t have very explosive draws and my maindeck Scoozes showed up on time. (2-0)

Round 3 vs BridgeVine: Same deck, but this time he had superior draws. Here’s an example of me pwning myself by being too clever. My sideboard had a 3x split of Anger of the Gods, Sweltering Suns and Slagstorm. The reasoning here is that against the Humans deck, which is a clear Tier One deck, they have Meddling Mages so you can “get ’em” if they name Anger of the Gods. Well, I lost a game here against BridgeVine where I cast a Sweltering Suns that I maybe could have gotten if that was an Anger of the Gods instead. (2-1)

Round 4 vs Storm: Game 1, he goes off; whatever, it’s Storm. I did hear from a separate local Storm master that he lost his mirror against this opp because the dude had a Quicken to go off at instant speed. Clever. Games 2 & 3 I found my hate and got there.

I did receive my first-ever Game Rule Violation at Comp REL, though, which kind of put me on tilt. It was Game 3 and I had a Trinisphere in play, so on-board I was kind of locking opp out. We go to my turn, after I had fetched, so opponent had cut/shuffled my deck. Opponent has placed my deck back on my side with the open-end of my sleeves pointed toward me, whereas I always orient my deck with the open-end of the sleeves pointed away from me. So, when I go to draw for my turn, my thumb hits open-ended sleeves and I accidentally see the second-from-top card of my deck. I’m very grateful that a judge happened to be literally standing right behind me at the time, so we called him immediately and we resolved it. I went on to close it out, and on-board with the Trinisphere it was quasi-over already so I’m glad I didn’t, for example, topdeck a win after being forced to shuffle for the GRV. (3-1)

Round 5 vs Green Tron: Okay, there’s this guy, Chandler, from out of town who I run into often when we happen to be in the same events. Super cool guy, he’s very quick with a laugh, like I am, so we have fun. Anyway, this guy ALWAYS RANCHES ME. I swear it’s like runner-runner-runner win-and-in’s and I happen to get paired against Chandler and he always kills me. On paper, you think the Blood Moon deck should be well-positioned against Tron. NOPE. Chandler just ultra-nuts me, turn 3 Karn Liberated while I mull to oblivion. It is what it is. If it has to happen this way, I’m glad it’s Chandler since he’s a legit cool guy. (3-2)

Round 6 vs Mardu Pyromancer: In a sane world, I’d be dead at this point but happily this was a field of gamers who came to game, and nobody was drawing. I got paired against a dude who was 3-1-1 and everyone up the line seemed to be playing so my fate was in my own hands. Maindeck Scooze worked this dude over, it was pretty sick. Eat your Lingering Souls? Cool. I think I misplayed by casting a Blood Moon off of a Bloodbraid Elf, turning off my own Kessig Wolf Run, but it was kind of a coin-toss type of decision. You might Stone Rain their basic Swamp and permanently take them off of black mana. (4-2)

I squeaked in at 8th place and, frankly, I was thrilled with that. I would have voted “yes” on the Top 8 split but my opponent, the 1 Seed, no sir’d it. Hey, respect, there’s too much wimpy splitting in Magic.

Top 8 Decklists

Quarterfinals vs Humans: Game 1, opp brutalizes me with the nuts. Multiple Mantis Riders and a Thalia’s Lieutenant and whatever else. Hey, that deck’s great. Game 2 we both mull but I have a hand with turn-2 Bloodbraid Elf. I cascade into Tireless Tracker and follow up with Chandra, Flamecaller. Turns out 6-mana planeswalkers are good, assuming you resolve them. Game 3 opponent has a bad mull – and I’ll be honest, this guy is way better than me, I need to catch some lucky breaks. So, opp mulls, his hand’s not great. I mess up and show him that I have Blood Moon when I try to cast it for 3 mana while he has Thalia, Guardian of Thraben in play. Whoops. So, next turn he casts Meddling Mage, naming Blood Moon. I Abrade the Meddling Mage and then stick my Blood Moon. I subsequently have my 2nd Abrade for the late-to-the-party Aether Vial he’s cast, and that sews it up.

Top 4 votes to chop the pot, and I’m happy with that. I love this maindeck configuration and the sideboard is good – but maybe it should just be 3x Anger of the Gods instead of my cutesy split. Holla.

Draft Modern

Grand Prix Omaha 2017

Spent a nice weekend at Grand Prix Omaha recently, brought along Chris to keep an eye on me. I’m due for a bender (I think I average one per quarter) so it was prudent to have a spotter around. As it happened, I was wholly responsible the entire time and got into zero trouble. I think that just rolls over and amplifies the next bender but let’s leave tomorrow’s problems for tomorrow.

The main event was Standard, which I just cannot be bothered with. To spoil the ending, an Aetherworks Marvel deck won the tournament and the card was subsequently banned. Whoopee.

I was there for the side events, the first one on Friday evening was “Foiled Again!” sealed, which was just 3 rounds of Amonkhet sealed with extra FNM promos after each win. The best one by far was the Unlicensed Disintegration that everyone got just for signing up. You did get a random Cascade Games playmat upon entering and I was glad to get the Dreamhack pyramids mat for mine. The other possible mats were all shitty garbage like a picture of Rattleclaw Mystic or Ajani standing there being a dumb cat. Hard pass.

My sealed pool was lame but I managed to 3-0 through sheer force of will, beating other decks with real cards like Angel of Sanctions and Glorybringer. I also entered several drafts througout the weekend but insta-died in all of them, so there’s not much to say there. I did open my first Invocation, a Kefnet the Mindful so I was pretty stoked about that. The other rare in the pack was Rhonas the Indomitable, so homeboy on my left was also pleased. I still think these Invocations look dope, you haters can take off. Have you seen the Blood Moon one?! Hnnnnggggh.

On Saturday, I entered a 4-round Modern event with my beloved Green-Red Ponza deck. Chris likes to give me shit about the deck whenever I’m talking it up – although, for that matter, Chris would probably give you shit for tying your shoes so it can be tough to know how to interpret any single instance of shit-giving… I digress. Point is, here for the first time, Chris had the pleasure of seeing me play some matches with the deck. I sacked off some nice Bonfire of the Damneds and everything. I don’t think I made him a believer, but I did X-0-draw into a goodly stack of skeeball tickets for the prize wall. During the event, I also happened to meet Matt Mendoza, the creator of the Modern Ponza deck. He was a couple seats down and noticed me playing it. He was fun to chat with; I should have had him sign my Mwonvuli Acid-Mosses. Other donkeys were going around getting LSV to sign their titties or whatever but for me, Mendoza was the coolest dude to meet.

Speaking of signing stuff, I got some cards signed by artists Mark Tedin, Eric Deschamps and Darrell Riche. They had advertised Jesper Myrfors but he didn’t show up. I was mildly butthurt about that as I brought a few of his old cards (e.g. Cosmic Horror) to have signed. I love that older art style; we never get anything like those pieces anymore. Now, everything is run through some processed cheese stylebook regimen.

Yeah, that’s a foil Olivia Voldaren. I got it in trade for a Bonfire of the Damned back when those cards were in Standard which, at the time, was pretty fair.

Aside from Magic stuff, we checked out a few restaurants – I made Chris try sushi, a minor coup because this guy is PICKY, and he even liked a couple of the items so we’ll have to run that back sometime. We also caught a late showing of Wonder Woman at Alamo Drafthouse. That movie is just okay, y’all need to calm down. I saw the goofy new Tom Cruise Mummy movie the following week and frankly had way more fun seeing that. I rantlaborate on that a bit on Splattercast #502, whenever that gets posted.

All these events run on prize wall skeeball tickets now so you have to cash out before you leave. I had a respectable pile and found myself with kind of slim pickins to choose from in their available stock. I got some deckboxes and a t-shirt, a few draft sets’ worth of Amonkhet boosters and burned the remainder of my tix on Eldritch Moon boosters, hoping to spike a Liliana…

Got there! Must be good karma.

Anyway, it was a pretty deece weekend.