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Draft Modern

WMCQ 2016

We had a World Magic Cup Qualifier here in Lincoln this past weekend, which is a pretty big deal for a little ‘ol town like ours. I was not qualified for the main WMCQ (on account of I’m a scrub with no Planeswalker Points) but there were lots of side events on both Saturday and Sunday.

On Saturday morning, I showed up for a Sealed Eternal Masters PPTQ. My pool was pretty good. I think it was good? I’ve never actually played the format. In any case, I dropped before round one to go play in a Modern last-chance qualifier for the WMCQ instead. I sold my sealed pool to a vendor at the site for about half my money back. I figure it was worth it to take a flier on opening something crazy. The guy across from me whose pool I registered had a Force of Will; if only I had sat on the other side of the table…

So, I jump into the Modern thing, it is 5 rounds with a cut to Top 4. I’m still jamming the Stone Rain deck:

Round 1 vs Burn: This was a dude also named Jeff who’s a regular at draft night. At a given draft, we average 3-4 dudes named Jeff in the pod. We are a populous tribe. We split the first two games and I was on the play for game 3. My opening hand had two Kitchen Finks, an Obstinate Baloth, two lands and whatever else. I keep it because if I draw a third land (not to mention a fourth for Baloth) I’m going to gain way too much life for him. I never find the third land. (0-1)

Round 2 vs RG Tron: Yeah, the Blood Moon + Stone Rain deck is pretty good here. Although the Blood Moon by itself isn’t really that terrible for them. They can still do all sorts of stuff under a Blood Moon if you aren’t Stone Raining and/or putting them on a clock. E.g. Wurmcoil Engine and Oblivion Stone or even Ugin, the Spirit Dragon if you’re really just spinning your wheels. I get there this time. (1-1)

Round 3 vs Infect: I fear this deck more than any other in the format, I’ll readily admit that Infect puts me on tilt from turn one. Blood Moon is very good against them, they’ll typically have maybe one basic Forest in most stock lists. If they don’t kill me in the first couple of turns, I’m well-equipped to win but it’s just always a sweat against Infect. It worked out. (2-1)

Round 4 vs Living End: This was the first time I’d played against this deck and I felt like I was never really in the match. They don’t care a ton about the land destruction or the Blood Moon – some of their goofy cycling cards have “basic land cycling” so they can get ahold of the basic Forest they need in order to have green mana for Violent Outburst, and they have Simian Spirit Guide to make up for lost lands. I guess the plan is to draw the sideboard Relic of Progenitus? I died quickly. (2-2)

Round 5 vs Eldrazi & Taxes: This was black-white Aether Vial Death & Taxes with Eldrazi mixed in. Seemed like mostly for Wasteland Strangler and Eldrazi Displacer; I never saw a Reality Smasher from him but he did have Thought-Knot Seer. Maybe they don’t play Smasher but he seems too good to not include? I dunno. Blood Moon is strong against a lot of what they’re trying to do but Aether Vial helps them get around it a little.

There was an awkward kinda funny moment in game three where I had stabilized and started taking control of the game. I cast an Inferno Titan and I say, “trigger” and reach out kind of open-handed to go point at his Eldrazi Displacer, to indicate that I am directing the damage trigger onto that creature. Opponent in turn reaches out and shakes my hand. I’m like “Whoa whoa whoa, I’m not conceding, I am pointing at your Eldrazi Displacer.” Opponent was cool about it and says, “Yeah, I could not understand why you’d be conceding there.” The judge for the event happened to be sitting there at our match at the time and he said my gesture looked very strange to him as well so he seemed to share my opponent’s interpretation. They both readily accepted that I was not conceding when I asserted so but apparently the way I moved my hand across the playspace in that moment looked like a handshake. But, yeah, I did win despite myself! (3-2)

Not good enough for Top 4 but I did come out ahead on money – the event had advertised a generous prize pool but well under 20 people signed up. I felt a little bad for the TO probably taking a bath on it but let’s be real: I’m just going to turn around and spend all that money back at their store anyway.

Then I signed up for a draft but we never got up to 8 people so those of us in the pod walked up the street to Happy Raven for some beers. Turns out the bartender on duty was a dude we were acquainted with from Magic and while chatting with him another dude who was in the bar was like “Oh yeah I used to play, too.” and we all hung out for a while. I haven’t always been super outgoing so I love that Magic provides this instant connection. I’m constantly seeing people around town that I only would’ve met through Magic.

After leaving the event site, I got a burrito from Fuzzy’s, some hooch from N Street, and went to watch UFC #200 with some buddies. Even after watching a few of these bigger UFC events, I still don’t know exactly what’s going on and I need Chris to sherpa me through, explaining what’s happening, why a given match is significant, etc. I gather that you want to wrassle and punch the other guy before he wrasslepunches you too much. Don’t let Brock Lesnar sit on you and punch your brain 500 times. That is a losing strategy.

Sunday, the main WMCQ was going on but there was also a 4-round Modern side event starting at 3pm. I primarily wanted to do that but went ahead and also signed up for a draft while waiting around. The draft fired at about 2pm and the payout was 8-4-2-2 so I figured I’d try to win round one for my two packs, maybe spike a chase rare, and then drop for the Modern. No big whoop.

Jeff count at this draft table was three Jeffs. I said there were lots of us around!

I drafted a fairly dope Blue-Green Clues deck. One of the Ongoing Investigations was foil, to boot – you know, because that matters.

I don’t think I was being obnoxious about it but during conversation at the table, I had mentioned that I was planning to drop to go do this Modern event (as was at least one other guy in the draft, for that matter). My round one opponent was sort of – pardon me for being unkind, there is something of a narrative payoff down the road – but, sort of… spazzy? A nice guy, but he’s trying to be like “You’re going to drop, so if you concede to your next round opponent, then someone’s in the finals who didn’t earn it as much…” or something, I don’t really know exactly what his reasoning was. I guess he thought it was poor sportsmanship on some level to kill someone in round one and then drop? I would agree if it were an 8-4, and would have certainly just conceded to him in that case – but this was an 8-4-2-2.

He tapdanced around a little bit with trying to arrange some kind of prize split and I was like “dude, let’s just play it out.” We’re smiling and being friendly this whole time, it was not a tense situation by any means – this guy was just more emotionally invested in these couple packs of Magic cards than I was. So we play our match and I ultra ranch him because my deck is actually the nuts.

Opponent is a good sport about it. I try to sort of pity-concede to him, but he’s like honor-bound now and won’t accept it. I don’t wanna patronize the guy, either, you know? He signs up for the next pod and I think it fired pretty quickly so he got to keep partyin’.

I quickly gather up my stuff and hop over a couple tables to the Modern event, running back the same deck as before.

Round 1 vs Kiki Chord: I used to play this deck so I know a lot of what they’ve got going on, but they’ve added 4x Nahiri, the Harbinger and an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. It’s a good fit in the deck; they’re going to typically have a bunch of durdly blockers so a Nahiri ultimate is realistic and the Emrakul shuffle-in can sort of re-buy Chord of Calling targets that might have gone to the graveyard. My gameplan is pretty good against their manabase, assuming you can kill off their mana creatures – which I did. (1-0)

Round 2 vs Jeskai Nahiri Control: I really like this deck and am actively trying to get together the cards for it… main thing I still need are 4x Ancestral Vision so as soon as I find a buyer for my kidney we’ll be in business. The kidney is a little bit scratch-and-dent from all of the pre-Schumer Four Loko back in the day but I will take non-mint Visions or Duel Deck ones or whatever the cheapest version is.

I digress.

As sweet as the Jeskai deck is, it can have trouble with a bunch of running copies of Stone Rain and Blood Moon. I left in all the Bonfire of the Damned after sideboarding, which maybe is not the right thing to do – I should side in, say, Kitchen Finks since they’ll live through a Wrath or Bolt. My reasoning was that Bonfire was going to do enough, and kind of on weird little axes like removing some X/1 blockers (Vendilion Clique, Snapcaster Mage) or skimming some loyalty off an active Nahiri, the Harbinger. Even just being an overcosted Volcanic Hammer or Lava Axe in the later turns. Most of my creatures had 4 power so finishing off a Celestial Colonnade that had blocked an elf or something was less likely but it crossed my mind. Of course, hopefully the Colonnade is a Mountain anyway. (2-0)

Round 3 vs RG Tron: Again, a good matchup. Opponent had kind of a bad beat, as he mulled to five in games one and three. Game two, he killed me with Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. One fair deck deserves another, I say. (3-0)

Round 4 vs Esper Geist-Zur: Opponent is the estimable JT, a nice guy from here in town who I am something like 0-20 against in sanctioned Magic matches. JT just has my number, what can I say! My favorite JT story is back at Grand Prix Omaha he was making a run and had a feature match against Owen Turtenwald. JT won and afterward, if I’m not misremembering, had a comment along the lines of “Yeah, I think that guy might even be a pro or something.”

JT politely turns down the split, and I can’t blame him as we both know he has Protection from Jeff, Jeffproof and Schmidtshroud. Tying back to that guy in the draft earlier, he was kind of like (paraphrasing) “C’mon, you can’t just kill me and drop!” but I went ahead and did it anyway. I, then, certainly cannot be butthurt about being refused a split myself. We all came to game, right? Shuffle ’em up!

The Esper deck seems well-suited to handle mine, especially if he’s on the play (which he is; I have not tracked my lifetime die-roll stats vs JT but doing so is within my range). He leads with Thoughtseize or Inquisition of Kozilek to take me off my gameplan, then sticks a Geist of Saint Traft to put me on a fast clock. I do win game 2 thanks to Stormbreath Dragon but ultimately JT steals my lunch money yet again! (3-1)

Some of the fellas are headed out for dinner but at this point I’ve been messing around playing Magic downtown for the better part of two days – my wife was very gracious in letting me do this all weekend – so I hustle home with my stack of SOI packs. I open them with my kids for funsies, hoping to spike that last copy of Nahiri for my playset. Didn’t get there, but we did get a Sorin, Grim Nemesis, Arlinn Kord, Westvale Abbey, The Gitrog Monster, Tireless Tracker, Cryptolith Rite and a bunch of other stuff so I can probably churn that into what I need.

Overall a hecka fun weekend of Magic. Oh hey, the pre-release is next weekend already… Nice.

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