Hello from aboard Amtrak 284 heading from Rochester to New York! I’m currently leaving the Schenectady Station. Trains are the best way to travel and Rochester isn’t a horrible place to play Magic: the Gathering (the collectible card game of strategy and imagination)!

I went to FNM at Millennium in Henrietta. They have HUGE cases filled with cards and hot damn if I don’t spend a long time looking at them and eventually buying cards I know Luis doesn’t have at Twenty Sided. Last time I was here I bought out their stock of Unhinged lands. They’ve since replenished and have them individually labeled in a case for two to three times what I paid a year ago. They have Modern cards I need though so we’re cool.

I’m a bit early so I take a seat and watch an EDH game. It was full of socially bizarre chatter, awkward laughter, and shenanigans. I like the word “shenanigans” slightly less than I enjoy EDH. Even so, their board states always look cool.

FNM gets underway just as something crazy happens to end the EDH game (one hundred dragons were cast or someone had a thousand mana and a fireball or something like that). There are no seating assignments in draft at Millennium because you don’t play the people at your table, you play anyone in the store that drafted, so your seat doesn’t matter much. They also payout one pack per win per round and something like three or four extra packs at the end if you are in the top four. The prize payout isn’t ideal.

There are seven at my table including Dave Cleveland whom I would face round two. To my left is a first time drafter with bright pink or purple hair. She ends up in BR like I’d hoped. To my right a silent player who ends up BGw (she took one of the Centaur Healers that I saw – probably pretty late). I’m fairly happy with my deck after packs two and three (super pissed pack one as I thought I’d made the wrong choice and should’ve gone BR ‘cuz I was feeding the first timer a pretty sick deck).

Here’s my pool and deck. I’ve decided to rate the cards according to how well I feel they performed. They’re rated 1-5, 1 is bad and 5 is awesome.

Creatures – 14

1 Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage (5)
2 Gatecreeper Vine (3.5)
3 Centaur Healer (4.5)
2 Axebane Guardian (3.5)
2 Towering Indrik (4.5)
2 Armory Guard (2.5)
1 Phantom General (1) <– I was surprised that this card was so bad (if played at all) as I was excited to play it; probably not enough populate to make it work.
1 Risen Sanctuary (4)

Spells – 9
1 Swift Justice (1)
1 Slime Molding (3.5)
1 Call of the Conclave (3)
1 Selesnya Keyrune (3)
1 Avenging Arrow (3)
2 Eyes in the Skies (3)
1 Trostani’s Judgement (3)
1 Coursers’ Accord (4)

Lands – 17
7 Forest
8 Plains
1 Selesnya Guildgate
1 Rogue’s Passage (5)

Sideboard – with notes:
1 Aerial Predation (sided in game two two times and mistakenly left out the third)
2 Chorus of Might (sided in one of these most games – it may have won one of them)
1 Selesnya Sentry (this card sucks)
1 Condcordia Pegasus (sucks)
2 Urban Burgeoning (I’ve never heard of anyone playing this card)
1 Detention Sphere (picked up because I need one for a standard deck)
1 Hussar Patrol (taken b/c I hate playing agains this card if I have few flyers)
1 Isperia’s Skywatch (nothing else in the pack to take that seemed would fit or would be threatening)
1 Launch Party (taken early when I thought GWb was a possible deck I could make)
1 Underworld Connedtions (foil, super pretty)
1 Gorehouse Firewalker (from a pack of unplayables in my deck and other red spells.
1 Sundering Growth (sided this in maybe once, never saw it)

Round One vs Daniel Morgan‘s UW

I remember Daniel from last year’s Rochester visit. We standard tested his humans deck if I remember correctly (and he won every game vs. my Naya deck). He’s a nice guy and we talk shop a little while playing our match. My notes for game one read like this: “healer, griffin, passage-healer, griffin, healer, healer, patrol, healer, healer” and then “lose to Cyclonic Rift”. He casts Rift when I’m at 7 and he’s at 2 (which he was at for a few turns) on his turn and swings for lethal. I suggest to him that we play faster as more than half our time is up in the round and in the event that I win game two we’ll need the time for game three.

Game Two he doesn’t draw a Cyclonic Rift and my Healers and Towering Indriks get in there and do tons of damage.Towering Indrik is the serious stand out card in this game by shutting down all his fliers. Rogue’s Passage does work too.

Game Three he keeps a hand with four plains, no islands, mostly white cards and then draws like seventy blue cards in a row. I had a pretty nutty draw and crushed. We chatted a bit more and wished each other good luck in the next round.

I open a Guild Feud in my prize pack and put the whole opened pack on the table next to the land and walk away.

2-1 games. 1-0 matches.

Round Two vs Dave Cleveland‘s UR

Dave is the guy I remember most from FNM at Millennium. He travels a bunch to GPs and has been to Nationals and won a PTQ. He had the bye round one. Game one I’m able to keep dudes on the table to block, gain me life (Healer), generate lots of mana (Guardians, Creepers), and big dudes to swing vigilantly and unblocked for eight damage per turn (Risen Sanctuary + Rogue’s Passage). Things were looking bleak until the Passage and Sanctuary showed up.

Game two Dave has the nuts and I had the slows. He wins off the back of a few Splatterthugs and Bloodfray Giants.

Game three I curve out and get up to populating with my Guildmage. Dave can’t block due to Unleashing his creatures. I win.
After our game I talk to Dave about PTQs in Rochester and he says they’re super hard because everyone from Canada (Toronto, Kensington, etc.) comes down, pros come out of retirement, and it’s generally impossible. He told me he won one though. He says he’s playing in a Modern tournament on Saturday and I curse myself for not knowing there was a Modern tournament as I had my GWb and Jund decks on me and made plans with my family I wanted to stick with on Saturday. Dave said he’d be playing Eggs. We wish each other good luck in our next rounds.

4-2 games. 2-0 matches. I open a prize pack containing Sphinx of the Chimes and put it on the land table with the rest of the crap in the pack. A foil Sluiceway Scorpion was in the mix, too. Yay.

Round Three vs Evan Campbell‘s UR Lobster Claw

Evan was playing EDH earlier. He seems smart. We share pleasantries and start the game. I’m pretty sure I groaned audibly about having to play another UR deck and maybe muttered something about blue being the Mitt Romney of magic colors. He laughed and agreed.

Game one I was too far behind from Lobber Crew pins paired with a million gold spells that by the time I stabilized I hadn’t actually stabilized and lost.

Game two I neglect to side in Arial Predation and luckily got a Trostani’s Judgment to kill a Sphinx of the Chimes and populate a centaur the turn after Evan casts it. I win on the back of one hundred and twenty centaurs (I can make at least two a turn with Guildmage), some of which have gained me life.

Game three was a lot like game one. My notes for both say “too slow” under my depleted life total. I get face smashed by a Sphinx of the Chimes (and no Trostani’s Judgement this time, woof).

5-4 games. 2-1 matches.

In my notes for round three I have written down Orzhov Pontiff, Harmonic Sliver, Ranger of Eos, Chord of Calling, Blasting Station, Misty Rainforest, and Rule of Law. That must be when I set those aside for purchasing as I’m finally pretty interested in playing Melira Pod in Standard and have started putting it together. I’ve had trouble getting these cards from Luis so I figured buying them local in Rochester is still better than buying on TCG and definitely better than buying from Star City. There wasn’t enough time between rounds to buy ’em so I had them put the cards aside. I still need Blasting Station, anyone?

Round Four vs Abe Finch’s American

My notes are pretty terrible round four. My life total goes like this: 20, 19, 18, 17, 14, 13, 16 and his: 20, 13, 9, 11, 7. There’s a note that says “Lobster Claw” and my life total indicates Lobber Crew pinging. I’m smashing him with a 6/6 or 7/7 Ooze token that I populate in response to a Dramatic Rescue. Rogue’s Passage is the clear cause of his life total dropping in the manner in which it did. He’s mumbling about not having the right mana. I win.

Game two’s notes are similar to game one in that there are only life totals and “2x Eyes in the Sky” written down. I more or less curve out and keep the beats coming. Abe doesn’t draw a red source and I populate my brains out with 3/3 centaurs. He reveals that game one he had Street Spasm in hand hoping to overload it and wipe my board. “Would’ve been a different game” I responded. “Yup,” he agreed.

We look through each other’s trade binders and I find two Noble Hierarchs I want until I find out they’re $25 each (yikes!), a Chalice of the Void (which I trade for foil Nicol Bolas), and a Marsh Flats. I leave the Hierarchs and Flats on the table and Thank him for the trade and good games.

On my way to report I stop to trade a Mox Diamond for a Chord of Calling, two Chalice of the Void, and a Kitchen Finks (don’t worry, I have a playset of Mox Diamonds).

I report and my win bumps Dave Cleveland into top four earning him two or three more packs. I didn’t make it. I am sixth I think. The prize pack I opened had something OK in it that went into my binder. I bought the pile of cards I had set aside earlier for Modern Melira Pod. Venom, the guy behind the counter, and I chat about their weekly Standard tournaments which happen on Sundays. I’m gonna give that a go when I’m back in Rochester for the Winter Solstice Celebrations. Hopefully I can perform better than my 3-8 combined match win/loss for MTGO in Standard Dailies while in Rochester, too. Jeez, right?

Back to Standard at TNM and FNM this week. I’m currently missing an impromptu Modern tourney at Twenty Sided. Bastards. What do you all think I should play at TNM? I have RDW, GW (three versions), Jund Midrange, BR Aggro, and all kinds of Reanimator decks.

Later skaters,

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