A 1-3 record sucks.

Li Xu and I played similar versions BGWU Reanimator at 20ss’s TNM (he writes about it here) this week. We posted a combined 1-5-1 record against a meta that we haven’t played well against all season.

I’d been sweating which Standard deck to play all day. BR seems so last season. GW has many variants none of which I’m too keen on after playing two versions to a combined 3-4 record over two four round tournaments (one of them I dropped after round three) and generally being smashed when a GW variant was my choice for MTGO dailies over Thanksgiving break. RDW seems super shitty and boring. Jen was pretty late coming home the other night and I was going through my cards killing some time and I finished sleeving a Cedric Philips version of Japanese BGWU Reanimator between rounds in a Modern daily (playing Kibler’s bears deck, went 1-2 losing to a streamed Soul Sisters, and whatever I played round one, and beating Poison pretty handedly). Yesterday at the close of business at work I altered my list after looking over Morgan Cheng’s Top 8 version of BGWU Reanimator with a sort of hybrid Philips/Chang list that looks like this:

4 Temple Garden
4 Hinterland Harbor
4 Cavern of Souls
4 Hallowed Fountain
2 Overgrown Tomb
2 Sunpetal Grove
2 Glacial Fortress
1 Drowned Catacomb
1 Forest
1 Craterhoof Behemoth
4 Deathrite Shaman
4 Thragtusk
3 Angel of Serenity
2 Centaur Healer
4 Restoration Angel
4 Tracker’s Instincts
4 Farseek
4 Forbidden Alchemy
4 Unburial Rites
2 Lingering Souls

2 Ray of Revelation
2 Evil Twin
1 Craterhoof Behemoth
1 Sigarda, Host of Herons
1 Centaur Healer
1 Detention Sphere
2 Abrupt Decay
1 Sphinx’s Revelation
3 Supreme Verdict
1 Increasing Confusion

Let’s get Right into it. Round One vs Dylan Heister’s Bant Aggro.

Dylan’s one of my favorite 20ss’ers. As my notes indicate game one wasn’t much of a game. Dylan threw down a Geist and something else. At some point I was just cruising with big beats whilst he needed green mana. Smash, I win.

Game two I side in a bunch of Verdicts and Evil Twins. I mull to six and keep a bunch of lands and two dudes. I draw only lands for the next few turns and Dylan wins easily.

Game three Dylan does eight damage on turn four with a soulbonded-to-an-Archangel Silverblade Paladin. I Verdict the next turn. Dylan only draws lands and I win off the back of Thragtusk or some such nonesense. After three non-games I win the match. Game three Dylan had played a Rest in Peace and a Tormod’s Crypt. Rest in Peace sort of mattered and I was upset I hadn’t thought to board in Ray of Revelation.

1-0 in matches. 2-1 in games.

Round Two vs. Alaric’s Many Colored Non-Reanimator Reanimator-Looking Deck

Alaric is a rogue deck builder. He’s recently come back to the game after an absence of some years. We played a few weeks ago when I was on BWG Reanimator. His build then was almost exactly the same as mine minus any of the reanimation and graveyard spells which really hurts him in that match up. Our games took forever. Alaric had just drew with Li so I expected long grindy games (and wasn’t particularly looking forward to it – a consideration I had in almost not playing this deck).

Game one I mull to five cards and lose. He played an Armada Wurm and Evil Twin’d it to bring on my scoop phase. Evil Twin seemed good to bring in from the board. I sided in both Twins, three Verdicts, and Increasing Confusion (if the game went long maybe I could mill him out; this was the tech from Chang’s Top 8 version that I liked a bunch). One Tusk, one Angel of Serenity, and some graveyard enablers got the boot.

Game two he Slaughter Gameses my Tusks. No matter, I have some Evil Twin, Thragtusk, Restoration Angel, and Angel of Serenity beats and win.

Game three I once again fail to side in Ray of Revelation (as written on my notes from the match above “always side in fucking Ray of Revelation”) and get Rest in Peace’d. If one is playing Reanimator vs. a white deck SIDE IN RAY OF REVELATION. Even so I’m doing ok for a bit as I have a billion mana but end up falling short when some kind of Angel of Serenity on Angel of Serenity action happens. I’m particularly pissed after this match and do my best to not be a cranky douche bag. Thoughts of why this format is presently so shitty and fun-less for me form in my head and I pay them no heed as it’d do me no good and they’re really just excuses.

1-1 in matches. 3-3 in games.

Round Three vs. Tim Akpinar’s Controlling Bant Friends

Tim and I play almost every time he shows up for TNM or FNM. When I play an aggro deck I usually win. When I do not play an aggro deck I always lose. He’s my number one blue card playing enemy and I love him for it. We joke a bunch about how excited I am to play him, his counterspells, and his planeswalkers.

Game one I get in some Deathrite Shaman beats (literally attacking for one a couple of times), eventually exile some instants and sorcery spells, bring forth a few Tusks and Angels, get Tim down to seven life, and then he gets a Tamiyo + Jace lock and I scoop. I kill a Jace rather than smashing face at one point and he played a Jace either that turn or the next turn. I’ve gotta stop giving a shit about my opponents playing Jace.

Game two I mull to five after a one land seven and all land six. It’s not really worth talking about. He gets some kind of lock and I scoop. Again I’m pretty pissed but whatever, it’s Tim, and if any blue mage is gonna do well I’d like it to be him.

1-2 in matches. 3-5 in games.

Round Four vs. Mark Ziskis’s Bant Mid-Range (?)

I’ve seen Mark around but don’t know that I’ve played him. Morgan Chang and some dude wearing a Star City Shirt watch our match. Wearing a Star City shirt is like supporting the Emperor in Star Wars, right?

Mark and I both mull to five. I keep three lands a Healer and a Restoration Angel. Eventually I over commit to the board and lose to Supreme Verdict. Had I not flashed in Angel to block his Angel when I was at ten million life and not flashbacked Souls the turn before I’d have had tons of beats on the following turn and Mark would’ve had nothing. Instead I give Mark extra turns and he eventually wins. I tell him I would rather not play the rest of our match and put my cards in my deck box and my deck box in my Ortlieb bag (which is excellent because it’s still damp outside).

1-3 in matches. 3-6 in games.

While I’m packing up Morgan Chang says “to be honest you had the game like three turns ago” I tell him thank you for his insight (hindsight) while thinking what I wrote on my notes (“an infuriating thing to hear and pretty unhelpful”). He says something to the effect of recommending I play a less challenging deck and I said he’s probably right, that if I had more free time to spend practicing specific decks I would do so and be better with them. He says something about what he would’ve done and I say “you’re obviously a better magic player than me and everyone here knows that, great, thank you.” He sort of turns points his face down and turns his head. Edgar (Flores) has been standing around since the end of the game and Sphinx of the Chimes in about how I change decks a lot and should maybe stick to one. I’d like to but I haven’t found one I enjoy playing enough to bother sticking with and the meta changes from day to day around here so what’s good one week isn’t the next.

The conversation then evolves into something pretty interesting. Frustrated with the attitude I’m feeling from the “pros” and from the way I feel about the evening’s matches I start listing some thoughts in my head about my interest in the game. Magic is by far the greatest game I’ve every played. I love the cards, the flavor, the variation, the mechanics, and even secretly have some love for blue and counter spells (without them the game would be much less varied). Magic is a fun obsession, a way for me to think outside of my day job and my art practice. The concept of the Stack and other ideas and flavor in Magic help my drawing, painting, and exhibition set up. I play Magic mostly to be with my buds at the store, to travel with them to tournaments, you know, for community. As a sober dude it’s become the closest thing to a bar that I have.

Morgan and Edgar tell me that Magic isn’t fun for them. That they grind and grind and test and grind and that it’s a job and one they don’t particularly like. This is super interesting to me. I draw and paint, edit video and photos, build sculpture, go to exhibition openings, museums, on studio visits, to seemingly endless amounts of art fairs, and it’s all fun. Sometimes it’s shitty and gets me down but hot damn if there isn’t inspiration around the corner most of the time! If making art wasn’t fun the way Magic isn’t fun for Morgan and Edgar I wouldn’t make it. Magic must remain for me the collectible card game of strategy and imagination I have loved since I was 14, while not degrading into goofy madness of casual play. I strive to maintain a healthy balance of competitiveness without losing the love and joy.

At FNM this week I’m playing BR.

Lots of love,
Matt “The Obliterator” Jones

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