Kadar, Li, Chase, Johnny, Nick, Sean, and my assistant-friend Eric all helped me move two ten foot truckloads full of studio equipment, supplies, paintings, and endless copies of books from my old studio to my new one in Kadar’s building on Friday. I paid them in donuts and pizza. We were done in time to make it to Twenty Sided’s pre FNM draft! HORRAY!

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Twenty Sided Store regulars lined up pulling stuff out of c-bins and up a flight of stairs to my new studio! Thanks guys!

No need to report much on this, however. I bombed out. I was one of three drafters sitting next to each other drafting Rakdos and the least successful of the three as all Rakdos cards were being filtered through the other two drafters packs one and three. I should’ve switched out but kept getting passed good red and black cards in addition to opening things like Rakdos, Lord of Riots. After round one I threw my deck, sleeves, mythic rares, and all, into the trash can, quite literally, from three seats away. Not a card missed the garbage can. Boom!

Dave McCoy and I play test Standard for a while afterwards. He won eight of twelve games, plenty with and without sideboards. He’s running a redder version of BR, no zombies, and man it kicks my BR with zombies’ teeth in. In desperate frustration I look up 4-0 lists on www.mtgo-stats.org and saw one I like, by a guy or gal named Puddingtime that goes a little something like this:

4 Diregraf Ghoul
4 Gravecrawler
4 Thrill-Kill Assassin
4 Geralf’s Messenger
4 Falkenrath Aristocrat
2 Hellrider
3 Thundermaw Hellkite

1 Bonfire of the Damned
4 Pillar of Flame
4 Searing Spear
2 Brimstone Volley

4 Blood Crypt
4 Cavern of Souls
4 Dragonskull Summit
4 Rakdos Guildgate
8 Swamp

2 Cremate
4 Vampire Nighthawk
2 Tormod’s Crypt
3 Appetite for Brains
2 Slaughter Games
2 Bonfire of the Damned

I buy what I need (Thrill Kill Assassins and Tormod’s Crypt – didn’t have ’em on me though probably have about 1000 of both at home) and put the deck together in time for FNM. I can’t find my notes now as the Magic weekend was long and my nerd-backpack was loaded, unloaded, and reloaded several times. They’re probably on the floor of my bedroom (you lose things at one apartment or another when you often stay with your girlfriend). I went a very uneventful 2-2. I lost to Johnny Cheng’s Jund deck he’s been playing for ten thousand years. I beat a dude running fogs and other crazy things in a homebrew GW deck. I don’t remember the other two matches. One was a win and the other one wasn’t. What I really remember is that I STRONGLY DISLIKE RAKDOS GUILDGATE. Anytime I have this card in my hand, ever, I want to scoop. Turn one you want to drop a Gravecrawler? Oh well you can but it may lead to a turn four Messenger because the only land you have is Dragonskull Summit, Cavern of Souls, Rakdos Guildgate, Gravecrawler, Geralf’s Messenger, and Thundermaw Hellkite. You want to win, you gotta toss Cavern on Zombie right? Ok then what? Do nothing the next turn? Then on turn three you continue to do nothing? Argh. Guildgates.

Saturday I play in my new studio, do some drawings, move some more stuff. Kadar and I chow down on Singapore Mei Fun. I take off for Twenty Sided to play in the 2pm draft. I pull together a ten creature UR deck with Goblin Electromancer, a bunch of counter spells (yuck!), some fliers, Niv Mizzet, Chaos Imps, you know, the usual Obliterator deck.

Round one I don’t let Giaco play any spells and beat him in two games that nearly go to time not because of the difficulty of the games or the decisions we have to make or anything like that. We just enjoy laughing at each other’s awesome jokes so much it’s hard to accomplish anything productive in a Magic game. I am still pretty sure Giaco was trying to distract me, lure me to a hilarious death, but hell if I’m gonna let anyone confuse me out of opportunities to cast counter spells. Man I love those cards. You want to play something? Sorry, nope, counter spell. Yeah I’m not going to do much of anything except not let you do anything until you’re out of things to do and then I’ll probably cast Inspiration for three mana (thanks Electromancer) and draw a bunch of things to crush you and your empty hand. Thanks blue. You’re fair and fun. Fun and fair. Great.

The next two rounds the counter spells aren’t enough and the ten creatures aren’t enough so I lose horribly.

My weekend match record so far is 3-5.

Thirty under fourteen-year-olds walk into the store as I’m signing up for the second draft. It’s one of their birthdays. The draft is insanely confusing. I get pulled into URb. I face a fourteen year old dude round one. Eli’s alright, is playing Junk, and doesn’t really get it going. I win in two games. Round two I face Joe Shi who already wrecked me in the earlier draft. Luis told me Joe didn’t drop a match all day. Round three I face Davey who I haven’t seen in ages. I get mana screwed game two (after getting Davey down to one game one and losing).

Weekend match record is now 4-7.

I go home, clean up cat shit, and play some Demon Souls before passing out at 10:30.

Ten hours of sleep later I’m in my studio putting together the following list after deciding I didn’t want to play Naya:

4 Rakdos Cackler
4 Stromkirk Noble
4 Ash Zealot
4 Knight of Infamy
4 Falkenrath Aristocrat
3 Thundermaw Hellkite

3 Pillar of Flame
3 Mizzium Mortars
4 Searing Spear
1 Ultimate Price
3 Rakdos Keyrune

4 Blood Crypt
2 Cavern of Souls
4 Dragonskull Summit
10 Mountain
3 Swamp

3 Archwing Dragon
2 Ultimate Price
1 Pillar of Flame
2 Olivia Voldaren
2 Zealous Conscripts
3 Duress
2 Appetite for Brains

I had to try out the non-Rakdos Guildgate version of RB. Some texts had some in requesting borrows and I assemble them after double sleeving my deck and head out to the store.

Round one I face Johnny Cheng and his Jund deck, again. Before he plays a fourth land game one he scoops to three Stromkirk Nobles, a Knight of Infamy, and a Rakdos Cackler. His life totals go like this: 20-19-15-5 and then scoop. Pretty rough beats as they say.

Game two he casts three Thragtusks at least and I never get him below twelve life.

Game three is a FREAKING NAIL BITER. Johnny’s life total changed thirteen times and I’m more or less saved by a Rakdos Keyrune after I board wipe with a Mizzium Mortars I’d been hanging onto since turn one. This is one of the best games I’ve played against anyone and I’m super pumped for the next round.

Round two I play Richard Tan and his “Five Color Bullshit” deck. In my notes it says “Greedy Richard Tan doesn’t get there” after game one (on my mulligan to five or six). He never gets to double blue or double red or double any of the remaining three colors. Shocker.

Game two looks pretty uneventful on paper. Richard Tusks his way up to 29 life and I scoop with an empty hand.

Game three I mull to two Ash Zealot, Blood Crypt, Pillar, and Mountain after mulling a landless seven and a six that was two Dragonskull Summit, two Cavern of Souls, Olivia Voldaran, and Rakdos cackler. I get Richard down to fourteen and scoop when he gets me to fourteen. It is absolutely infuriating to do so poorly because of mulligans with no land or unplayable lands. Richard goes on to 4-0 the tournament.

Round three is against Brooke Li and his Blue White Weenie deck. Knowing I’m going to lose game one I hang in there to try and get some more information in his deck which includes some Skyknights, Sublime Archangel, and Silverblade Paladin. I am able to get Brooke down to one life and on the following turn he attacks with a six power Sublime Archangel double striking and Azorius Charms it, gaining twelve life. This is too much for me and I succumb to the assault – though wasn’t in as rough a shape as I thought.

I side in a fourth Pillar, two more Ultimate Price, and the Appetites, taking out five of my smallest creatures.

I cast Appetite for Brains and get rid of one of his two Archangels and write the rest of his cards down. I keep a hand that only needed to be two lands and two Knights but is three lands three Knights, and an Ash Zealot. He can’t block or kill my Knights and they take care of everything for me.

Game three is much the same ‘cept Brooke doesn’t have more than three lands past turn six. I have a Knight and other aggro meanies in play until he can’t take it any more and dies.

Abe Lusk and I joke about playing one another in round four as I think I’ve beaten him 200 times over the last year in Standard: the Gathering matches. The pairings go up and sure enough we’re paired. Round four I face Abe’s Red Deck Wins (with one of my Thundermaw Hellkites in his 75).

Game one we both play land, Cackler, then land, Ash Zealot. My Searing Spear puts me over the top in the race of mean little bastards and I win. Abe tells those sitting around us that time moves at a constant rate for him which makes sense if you know him and doesn’t make sense the rest of the time.

Game two can be summed up by Abe saying “I’m gonna do this just to spite you,” as he Flames of the Firebrands my dude and me. I lost never getting Abe below 16 life.

Game three I mull to four due to terrible mana or no mana, keep Thundermaw and three lands. The next four draw steps acquire me four more lands. I never do a point of damage to Abe. I concede five seconds before the damage he’d do to me would make concession irrelevant and ask him to get me two packs of his choice (2-2s get two packs in a four round tourney at Twenty Sided, pretty sweet). Abe opens a Garruk (which he pronounces “Guh-ruke” to my correcting him with “Gair-ick”) and is super excited. Later he sells it to the store plus five bucks to get into the final draft of the weekend and convinces me to join in.

Abe opening his spoils after defeating me round four and getting ready to mispronounce Garruk.

Abe opening his spoils after defeating me round four and getting ready to mispronounce Garruk.

Weekend win loss total now at 6-9 (tee hee).

In the final draft of the weekend Abe passes me an Overgrown Tomb so I, being the bad drafter I am, go for Golgari, get juked a bit so move into Selesnya, and never really get there with cards but kinda have an enchantment deck of mediocre quality. Abe, sitting to my left in the draft, is also mostly Golgari. Had he made that clear earlier I’d have gone Selesnya and probably have a sicker enchantments deck than I do.

Round one I play Edward, a dude I haven’t played in months. I win game one pretty easily. Game two I make some serious errors and lose. Game three I beat a severely mana screwed Ed and take the match.

Round two I play Jordan Morgan’s walls deck and he slaughters me. My weekend results are seven wins and ten losses. Eep. I pack up my stuff and head out, bumping into Jason Chan on the way.

Jason Chan: You 0-2 drop?
Me: No, I 1-1 drop.
Jason: Why not play and get two packs?
Me: I did the draft to see if I could sneak a few extra store points and don’t care much about packs.
Jason: Well you’ll still get one point.
Me: Yeah, I get one whether I play round three or not. I’d rather drop, go home, eat a sandwich, and maybe make out with my lady. Though probably not eat a sandwich and make out at the same time.
Jason: You can do both if you do them correctly.

This weekend I learned that drafting is still not my preferred format in Magic: the Frustrating. I’m pretty stubborn when drafting and usually stick to whatever pack one pick one is (or I let the quantity of Stab Wounds I acquire dictate my draft). I hadn’t thought about the validity of playing an enchantment based strategy and had I known Abe to be drafting BG I’d maybe have gone more heavily into GW enchantments (splashing black for Stab Wound). Truth be told I’d probably have still not noticed the enchantment party my draft was trying to throw for me and missed the boat – but now I do!

I learned that Guildgates are too much of a strain on my manabase to bother playing and far too frustrating to bother dealing with. As sweet as Geralf’s Messenger is I don’t want to deal with it’s mana requirements and much prefer playing RB over BR. I’ll probably carry the Sunday: the Gathering version into TNM and cross my fingers. I really like Appetite in the board (and think Duress is better than my relatively counter spell and Sphinx’s Revelation free tournament made it seem). The Archwing Dragons never had a chance to come in and I’m not sure how stoked I am on them. Mizzium Mortars still seems better than Bonfire and having access to Ultimate Price seems important in the meta.

See you Tuesday and probably in the comments section as I plan on playing a Standard Daily at seven o’clock tonight.

Until then my friends, thanks for reading!

Matt “The Obliterator” Jones

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