In the universe of Magic: the Gathering, there have been things happening in the world at large and with me personally. I will cover them, quickly!
It is fair to say that the announcement made over here at Wizards had a whole bunch of words in it. What does it all mean? I’m going to give you my perspective, as someone who occasionally battles in the Pro sphere, watches at home, and likes to travel to interesting places. Also, there was a Magic Online Announcement over on Tumblr. Let’s go!
Pro Tour Origins just happened, and I wasn’t in attendance. I did watch some matches though, so that’s basically the same as being an expert now.
The first thing that struck me in the top 8 was Dromoka’s Command seemingly being criminally underplayed. With Origins bringing in a bunch of powerful enchantments like Demonic Pact, Starfield of Nyx, Thopter Spy Network and Sphinx’s Tutelage for people to brew with, and red getting a variety of strong tools, I had assumed that many people would increase the Dromoka’s Command count to hedge against these decks. In addition to this, as more teams discovered that UR Artifacts was finally non-terrible, Command’s stock would have risen further for being a huge beating against Ensoul Artifact.
And it still eats Coursers and stuff in the green creature matches!
I’m willing to believe that most people just didn’t realise Ensoul was good, and thought there might have been a lot of control decks leading to the cutting Commands for the Pro Tour. Moving to GP London and beyond however, unless there is a huge swing to control decks, I expect Command to be one of the better cards in the field.
The Mono-red decks being good shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone. The exact builds probably took some work though, I know going into it there was a lot of hype around Piledriver with Goblin token support. Piledriver is still fine, but there’s no warchief around now, and all the other regular non-goblin red cards are just very strong on their own with no support required. Abbot in particular is just so perfect for what these decks want to do, I expect 4 in red decks regularly until it rotates. It’s possible that people tested against the wrong builds, and underestimated how good Red Deck Wins was now. They won’t make this mistake going forward.
Basically just a 3/2 Elvish Visionary, right? Right.
This Pro Tour was probably one of the best in recent memory for sweet original builds showing up. My favourite was Andrew Cuneo’s mill deck, Turbo Mill!
Cuneo’s decks are always a bit off the wall, and a real delight to see. There was also the Demonic Pact/Invasive Species deck, and Ken Yukihiro’s Hardened Scales deck, a Temur deck that went 9-1 some constellation decks and more. There’s plenty here for people who don’t want to play boring old Abzan and RDW.
Moving forward for GP London and the World Magic Cup Qualifiers, you really can select a deck that you enjoy, since most deck types are viable with some tweaking. Even RG Devotion is open to sweet cards, I would recommend looking at See the Unwritten, a card that Raphael Levy played and provides a way to go way over the top in the mirror. I also noticed this card being played by a guy in some tournaments pre-Origins, and it seemed like a great card for him every time.
Wait till you’ve eaten a turn 5 Dragonlord Atarka (killing your Rhino) hasting at you with Surrak the Hunt Caller
Speaking of World Magic Cup Qualifiers, I am very excited and honoured to be heading up team Scotland for the World Magic Cup this year. I had to cross my fingers a bit for the last few months because I wasn’t able to go to any GPs, and I’m fortunate that any of the other worthy players didn’t overtake me. I have no doubt I’ll be seeing them on the team in the future, maybe this year even!
The WMC is a fantastic tournament in many ways, and I’m looking forward to the team formats with whoever makes it in, and hopefully also testing the various formats with the other UK teams in the days prior to the event.
Pro Tour Amsterdam wasn’t a memorable Pro Tour for me because of my performance in it. Most likely because I wasn’t participating. Why was I there then?
Well, back then there were ‘Last Chance Qualifiers’, which were just as they sound. They ran an extra qualifying tournament the day before the Pro Tour at the venue, and if you did well enough, you’d be in. I’d never been to a Last Chance Qualifier before, and I never would again. (I did also attempt to go to PT London, but that’s a whole different story)
Amsterdam was one of the few geographical locations that felt reasonable to travel to, and hey, they used to have a lot of side events at Pro Tours as well, just in case I didn’t win.
‘Not win’ doesn’t quite do it justice either. In an embarrassing turn of events, I didn’t even make it to the venue in time for the LCQ. The plan was to fly in, get the train to Centraal, then walk East towards the venue. I hadn’t been there before, but I thought I could tell where the exit would be, and I’d memorised the route from there.
Naturally, I managed to leave on the wrong side of the train station, thus making my directions lead me in quite the opposite direction. I couldn’t quite tell if it was correct or not, and by the time I’d found a map out in public and discovered my mistake, it was too late, I didn’t have enough time to reach the venue.
Oh well. At least there were side events.
I also remember about this Pro Tour (extended) that I sort of thought that White Weenie would be a good deck, but lacked confidence in expressing that. Thus, I sort-of-jokingly suggested it to people, but not really. Then two White Weenie decks made it to the top 8, one of them winning. Thus, I missed my chance of predictive greatness.
In between side events I ended up mostly hanging about and talking to people. Here are some highlights, where I was:
– Discovering one of the UK’s most enthusiastic Eternal Format players wrapped up in a tablecloth like a mummy, sleeping on an unused table. A Judge eventually spotted him and moved him on, but he just found a more secluded table.
– Being startled by a sudden noise, turning to see Cedric Phillips angrily** yet accurately tossing his PT draft deck in the garbage.
– Speaking to some UK guys who were playing 2HG (2 person team event) in a side event, distracted by an angry European ranting about his poor draws, expressing dissatisfaction that he hadn’t drawn his Baneslayer Angel, which at the time was quite the expensive card. (25 to 30 pounds, I seem to recall, I may be wrong) I thought it was over, before he expresses ‘Fucking Baneslayer!’ and rips it in half, then into smaller pieces and storming off. His team mate is speechless, and the surrounding players are either wincing, laughing, or both.
– Being introduced to iced coffee by judge friend Kim, which has become my default drink should I ever find myself in a Starbucks or similar.
In hindsight, I probably should have spent less time hanging around at the venue, and more time being cultured, visiting museums and whatnot. But that would need to wait for the next time I travelled there. This time, I was too busy walking to and from my hostel which was not particularly close to the venue!
That’s pretty much all I can remember of that ill-fated venture. Not because of any memory-altering substances you understand, it’s just that nothing earth-shattering happened, and most of my memories of exploring have been replaced by my more recent exploration. I did learn some lessons about making EXTRA sure what exit I am leaving train stations from though…
Till next time.
** Cedric wrote a tournament report about ‘Disasterdam’ here! I am guessing it was round 6.