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Power and Toughness—Grand Prix Vegas and the Las Vegas 51s (#GPVegas Part Two)

(Continued from Part One.)

We all headed to the Cashman Center early, again, for day one of the Grand Prix. Two byes meant a little sitting around before building my pool. Most people I was there with had one, two, or (Sean) three byes.

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There were a lot of people here.

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We ran into Hipster’s own Giaco Furino just after the players meeting and moments before deck construction! How fun!

Eventually it was go time. I love having byes. I only had to check over my judge-registered cards and go to town putting the bastard together. I noticed Oona right off the bat and was stoked. Then Kira! Then … nothing. Ok, what else did I have? THREE BONE SPLITTERS. I built a mostly aggro red/white bears deck topping out at Cloudgoat Ranger (with some Lightning Helixes in between). Oona deserved more attention, I think that was the deck to build. Oh well. I went for consistency over bomby. Really bad decision. I didn’t win a single game of the Grand Prix.

Not

One

Game.

– a poem by Matt Jones

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My round three opponent, Jason “Chewie” Slate. He beat me two games to none with a similar deck to mine (plus a Valkyrie).

Chewie and I had a great time during our match. I asked him for a photo to accompany this article and he asked if he could interview me after our match. I gladly agreed. He is a big part of www.mtgcast.com. He kicked my ass fairly quickly. Game one I could’ve won if one of my last three draws was any number of goblins or burn spells in my deck while he was at two life. I drew three straight lands. Game two I was stuck on white mana and didn’t get to red mana until it didn’t matter anymore. The beating was severe. “You still wanna do the interview?” he asked. Of course! I love talking about myself.

We then had this great talk about Magic, our mutual excitement for the game and for community building and good-dude-ness (not being sharks or dicks, etc.). He invited me to be on one of the Monday Night Magic podcasts in the future and I said “Heck yeah.” A solid dude for a totally shaky match.

At no point in the day did I wish my Oona and Kira had some decent support in blue and black. Red/white low casting cost dudes plus three Bonesplitters and two Lightning Helixes weren’t gonna do it by themselves it didn’t seem. That was the real rub. My options were two fold: red/white beats or u/b faeries with very little support and even littler dudes. I probably should’ve sucked it up and gone the faeries route but figured it was a really bad idea because I needed to be super aggro with all these Bonespitters. Oh well. It’s just too hard for me to play blue sometimes and I can’t really beat myself up about it any more than I already have.

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I caught Zach and Li playing real Modern.

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At some point I found Jimbo.

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This is Donny Jones (no relation). He beat the shit out of me with his many bombs deck.

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Donny had dice with maple leaves on them. I asked if I could take a picture of this one on a Kithkin token and he said sure.

Donny made an all in attack saying “Well, I guess I have to swing with everyone because I’m dead either way next turn.” I figured he was up to something but, well, he’s Canadian so I took him at his word. Silly me. He did have a trick and my losing streak continued. All his dudes untapped and gained lifelink or some shit. Blah. Who cares at this point? I couldn’t wait for the GP to be over. I wish there was something else I could’ve been doing and hadn’t blown $3 gillion dollars on this trip.

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Between rounds four and five Jimbo ate this banana. It sort of made things better.

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When Ken here finally rebel’d me to a 2-3 record (my only wins coming off of my byes) I decided to drop. I couldn’t keep it up. This wasn’t going to be GP Worchester all over again (2-7 record at GP Worchester). This deck was much worst than my deck at Worchester.

I dropped from the tournament, threw most of my pool in the trash, and went to Cape Fear Games to sell  the remaining money cards (for around $70). John Fung saw me do this and asked how my day was going. Thanks John, it went great.

Without saying a word to anyone I left the convention center, walked around back to the baseball stadium, and got in line at the box office for the AAA Mets affiliate Las Vegas 51s. I asked a young woman in front of me to recommend where to sit in the stadium. She said they were all good seats but to stay out of the sun and asked me why I was in Las Vegas. I told her about the GP and Magic (“It’s like poker, chess, and Dungeons & Dragons all in one game.” – my standard description) and said I’d done poorly and love baseball so I quit to watch this game. She said “You’re too good looking to play that game.” Then her boyfriend switched lines to stand with her and I said, “That’s nice of you to say.” She bought her ticket with her boyfriend and she said “I meant every word of it,” and winked at me. I awkwardly laughed and told her to stop embarrassing me in front of all of my friends. Her words, true or not, were a very kind pick-me-up when I was pretty down. I stepped up to the window, bought a $15 ticket, and walked inside.

It was nice of the Cashman Center to have Cashman Stadium attached to it. Very considerate.

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I bought the official in game hat of the Las Vegas 51s. It is my favorite baseball hat.

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Here I’m in line for the best nachos I would ever eat. I was comparing shoes.

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Palm trees and baseball always crack me up.

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These two girls rarely paid any attention to the game but when they did these water wieners were noisy and horrible. But they’re kids and they had fun, I guess.

The 51s won. Someone hit a home run. It was a mostly exciting game. I sat next to a guy and his lady and talked to them about the history of Las Vegas (did you know that Las Vegas means “the meadow”?) and what the two of them thought were fun and or awesome things to do in town. They gave me tons of suggestions. On the way out of the stadium I bought an inflatable alien from 1997 for $5.

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Monique instantly took a liking to him.

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The alien helped Rolex make day two.

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Vegas is pretty at night.

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Day one was exhausting. The 51s game revitalized me and I laughed like crazy for my remaining three hours of wakefulness. Then I wandered onto the set of The Shining, found my room, and slept for eight hours.

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Forker, Sean, and Bones were all ready to tackle the 256 player Modern Masters sealed tourney that morning. I bought a playset of Voice of Resurgence from Mikey Scovatz’s booth for $200 and put my Standard deck together.

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Rolex reported to us scrubs that he had lost the first round. I was able to catch Bones’s reaction on my iPhone.

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My sealed pool was unquestionably weaker in the 256 person tourney than yesterday’s main event. I sold the whole package for $7 after I lost to Tai, a good natured dude, on game two of severe mana screw. I dropped and ran through my Standard deck, Big Naya, a few times before the tournament started at one.

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At one point our board state looked like this. I couldn’t beat his dragon.

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I went to see how Rolex was doing. He looked serious and thoughtful so I didn’t disturb him and just moseyed back to the Super Series Standard area.

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John and Giaco talk deck tech before the Super Series Standard began.

Having 0-1 dropped form the MM sealed tourney (increasing my MM record to 1-15 overall), I signed up for the Super Series Standard tournament where I quickly dropped at 1-3. I broke my losing streak against a Bant deck which felt great. Then I lost hard to Red Deck Wins. Drrrrrrop. I would’ve signed up for a draft but they were taking hours to fire so I decided to go on a shopping spree and picked up some cards I was missing.

This is what I played. Kadar said yesterday that I should swap the Bonfires for Huntmasters but I think I’ll go back to Junk Aristocrats if I play Standard again before rotation. That deck was fun.

Big Naya

Creatures (31)
Voice of Resurgence
Ghor-Clan Rampager
Boros Reckoner
Loxodon Smiter
Thundermaw Hellkite
Restoration Angel
Clifftop Retreat
Avacyn’s Pilgrim
Arbor Elf

Spells (8)
Domri Rade
Bonfire of the Damned

Lands (21)
Gavony Township
Rootbound Crag
Sunpetal Grove
Stomping Ground
Temple Garden
Forest
Sacred Foundry
Sideboard (15)
Assemble the Legion
Mizzium Mortars
Selesnya Charm
Rest in Peace
Pillar of Flame
Garruk Relentless
Ray of Revelation

 

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Efrain was my only played match win all weekend. My total record, not including Mini Masters, was 3-9.

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I need to make a yellow, brown, and white painting. I’m obsessed with these colors.

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Lev destroyed me in two games with red deck wins. He asked me if I wanted to know the history of the term “hipster” and I said that I knew most of it and was all set on further knowledge. I wasn’t having much fun anymore. His beard is fantastic. He promoted a Magic product at the end of our match that I wrote down in my now lost notes. It had something to do with a magpie. Sorry Lev! [Editor’s Note: The website is http://www.power9pro.com]

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This was the shortest the convention center food line was all weekend.

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I caught That Delver Player in the act of playing Modern: The Gathering once again!

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We were all stalking Rolex, the only member of our immediate crew to day two.

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All the fast food was getting to me.

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Seriously stalking him.

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Then I yelled “Hey! Reid Duke!” and he came over and I asked if I could get my photo with him. He said “Of course.” Afterwards he stuck his hand out and I shook it. He said “What’s your name?” and I said “Matt Jones.” He said “I’m Reid.” We laughed and he went along on his way. Then I texted it to Monique and she sent me a picture of her with Ochoa that said “I see your Duke and I raise you an Ochoa.” I laughed really hard. Ochoa is SUPER TALL. Reid Duke sounds like Keanu Reeves even more in person.

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Once again the cab line was enormous and the shuttle seemed to stop running. Shortly after we’d given up hope a shuttle to Palace Station arrived and we ditched our friends for free transport and a diner meal.

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The Electric Daisy Carnival was going on all weekend, too. Here’s the back of some freaky looking people heading out the door through the lobby of the hotel. I missed getting the whole crew in a photo but oh well.

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Rolex convinced me to take the 9pm flight when our 10pm flight got delayed two hours. I tried but missed then tried again later and got on it. This is the Palace Station as the sun sets while we pull out of the parking lot on the way to the airport.

 

I was very excited to get home, see my girlfriend, make some paintings, and not think or talk about Magic for a bit. Here’s a quick round up an hour before I’m due to fly to Milan for work:

I am still not a fan of limited Magic and need to get better at it.

When in doubt I need to ask questions about what is the current state of affairs so I’m not stuck in line for 200 hours.

Whenever I’m tilting it’s a good idea to stop what I’m doing and go see a baseball game (or possibly go play basketball).

I really like traveling with my Magic friends but sometimes don’t like the reason we’re traveling. Everyone in the Hipsters and 20ss crew I belong too is awesome. Friends like these make up for mana screw and losing in a big way.

Later,
Matt
MTGO: The_Obliterator

PS – Congrats to Reid “I Had My Photo Taken With Matt Jones” Duke on winning GP Miami this weekend. What a guy!

Comments

Archived Comments

9 Archived Responses to “Power and Toughness—Grand Prix Vegas and the Las Vegas 51s (#GPVegas Part Two)”
  1. Wade Wojcak says:

    10/10, would read again.

  2. Giaco says:

    Matt these pics of me look great. Also your article was very much about magic!

  3. David says:

    three gilliion is an entirely non-fictional number and I appreciate its razor-like use in this article, as it fully encompasses not just the average dollar amount necessary to go to GPLV, but also the emotional toll the trips seem to have taken on sundry HotC writers.
    :)

  4. Ken Ellis says:

    Hi Matt! It was really nice meeting you at the tournament. Sorry you had some pretty bad luck with your sealed pool, you still played really well w/ what you had. I kept hanging on x-2 until round 7 but eventually got knocked out. Sounds like the 51’s game was good times. Hope your next tournament is filled with awesome luck and tight play. :)

    • Matt Jones says:

      Ken! Thanks for checking out the site. Nice to meet you too! Sorry you lost r7. Congrats on getting that far and staying “in”. Good luck to you on all future MTG endeavors as well!

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