Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Nice Return to Magic: The Gathering

Note: The following post is all about the card game Magic: The Gathering. If you don't play it, you probably won't card about this post.

So, one of my coworkers has been successfully working on getting me back into MTG again, and I agreed to drive over to Glencoe and participate in a prerelease tournament for the new Scars of Mirrodin expansion. If you want to see the cards, you can find the full spoiler here.

The format was Sealed, with everyone getting 6 boosters for their $25 admission fee. Everyone opens their packs at the same time, and whatever you got is what you have to build a deck from. It's probably the "fairest" format out there, as everyone has the same chance as everyone else to get great cards and build a deck, so your deckbuilding smarts trump the $$$ factor of people spending a lot of money in the singles market for killer decks. Sealed is my favorite format for competitive play, as really anything can happen.

Like the original Mirrodin block, this set is mostly artifacts. I read all the cards as I opened each pack, then sorted them by color and a pile for the artifacts. Everything Black looked horrible, so I rejected that color out of hand. Red and Blue offered some interesting cards, but I didn't have much of either color, so I was forced to build around White and Green, which consitituted almost 2/3 of my colored cards. Thankfully, I was able to use 4 of my 6 rares in the deck.

At its evil heart, I based everything on those 4 cards. Tempered Steel costs 1WW and gives all my artifact creatures +2/+2. Steel Hellkite is a 5/5 Flying Artifact Dragon, with one bitch of an ability. If it deals combat damage, you can pay X to destroy each nonland permanent with converted mana cost X to the player who got hurt. Chimeric Mass has power and toughness equal to the X cost you pay to send it out. Lastly, Argentum Armor gives a creature +6/+6 and every time the creature with it attacks, you get to destroy a target permanent.

I included every single white and green creature I got, some of the artifact creatures, then added in a selection of equipments and white and green control. Arrest and Revoke Existence saved my ass in half the games I played.

The first match I played was horrible. Despite never having more than 4 lands, I got the gal I played down to 4 life before she finally overwhelmed me with more creatures than I could counter. The second match was even worse, as I was so land-jacked, I never had more than 3 mana to use... and I mullied twice before that game started.

I didn't freak out, since I knew my deck was decent, I just had to hope I didn't get land-jacked again. My second match was annoying as hell, as I got paired up against this 10 year old who I swear to god played every third card wrong. Thank god the judge was nearby the whole time, because the kid kept thinking I was wrong whenever I corrected him. I won game 1 easily. Since the kid took forever to make his incorrect plays, the match ended before I could kill him again (I was on the warpath but couldn't do it in 5 turns), so that match ended for me 1 win, 0 losses, 1 tie. LAME, but better than it was still a match won.

Round 3 was almost as aggrivating. This time I'm playing a 7 year old kid whose dad was also in the tournament. At least this kid as a much better grasp of the rules than the one I just beat. Problem is he's easily distracted by the Furutama episodes playing on the TV behind us. He had a pretty decent deck too (my evil side really thinks his dad built it), but little grasp of strategy despite his knowledge of the rules, which saved my life a couple times when I honestly should have lost. He kept attacking with weak stuff I could easily kill, and eat minimal damage each turn, so I quickly picked off his army then turned to the offensive. My Steel Hellkite saved me the first game, as he hit me with 9 poison counters (10 poison counters kills you, regardless of your life), but I was able to use the Hellkite's ability to kill his poison creature and from there it became a stealroll. I won 2-0.

I went into the last round against another person with a 2-1 match record. The first game was a war, as most of the game was a Mexican Standoff of creatures until come of my endgame cards hit the table, I was able to exile or destroy a few of his key artifacts, and then it turned into a whipping. He ended up land-jacked the second game, while I was a flush with mana as I'd been the whole tournament, so I steamrolled him easily for another 2-0 match win, for a final record of 3-1.

The sum of my match points earned me 4th place in a field of 18 players, which meant I won an additional 3 booster packs. One of the booster packs contained a Mox Opal, which is one of the top 3 or 4 most expensive singles of the upcoming set, with online sites trending it in the $30 to $40 range. That card alone just paid for my whole tournament, if I sold it! The real question I face is, do I want to become a tournament player in constructed Standard? If so, the card is insanely useful to have. (0 cost artifact, if you have 3 or more artifacts, you can tap it for one mana of any color) It's quick mana generation, and opens the door to sneak in an off-color card or two into a deck, if you plan it right.

Of course, I have a tentative trade with my coworker where I'd trade him the Mox Opal, and he buys me the card's value worth of new, sealed Scars of Mirrodin product. One very rare Mox Opal, or something like 8-12 booster packs? That's a trade I may very well make.

While I didn't enjoy playing against the young kids so much, it was still a very fun afternoon and a good introduction back into the world of current MTG. As I said, it's been 4 years since I participated in a tournament of any kind.

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