The first TNM Modern tourney has come and gone. I have to say I’m a little bummed it’s over. My record doesn’t explain how much fun I actually had. Knowing that I have to wait another five days ’til the next one is a real bummer. How like toddlers learning to walk so many of us were. I have some great stories from this event but first I wanna talk about travel. Well mostly I wanna talk about travel with Magic: The Gathering as its focus.

Recently (last November), I took a trip to Lisbon for a Grand Prix with an old friend of mine. Harry and I have been friends since the summer of 1995. We met at a Magic tournament he threw in his parent’s house. I played Elves. Like, just as many elves as I could find. I didn’t ramp into a anything except more 1/1s. I didn’t win this one. Not in the terms of M:TG and going home with packs at least. But that day I won two new friends in Gordan Adams and Harry Finnochario. Paul my other OG Magic friend introduced me to Gordan and Harry. That summer and for about 3-4 years we hung out in Harry’s mom’s Basement and played Magic til the wee hours of the morning. Often so late into the morning that Big Harry (Harry’s dad… Who was not unlike Super Mario) would come into the basement and say “Ok boys, it’s time to go to sleep now.” Ha! That never worked.

I was an avid reader or Duelist magazine at the time (Still have like 4 years worth of copies) I even remember the WOTC homepage looking like something out of an Angelfire account. THEY HOSTED A PAGE WITH RANDOM FANFIC for crying out loud. I loved the deck tech though it really opened me up the world of competitive Magic and every Issue/article leveled me up.

Where was I going with this? I’m old?No. I have some Magic Fanfic to share? Maybe but no. Oh, so 17 years later I decided to hit Harry up to play in a Grand Prix with me. Like old times, except, y’know, Ruth (Harry’s mom) would not have to drive us.

It was a simple idea. I was 7 months into my rediscovered cardboard addiction. Harry was bored and looking for something fun to do. Neither one of us had really hung out since college. Seems like a classic Zac Clark scheme to me. Aside from using Magic cards to somehow foil all the banking systems in the world, this plan had all the elements of a good caper. International travel, good food, meeting strangers and playing so much Magic that it would give us nightmares about Nightmares. After something like 1 million jokes at the expense of Gordan’s brewing skills (Hell’s Caretaker, Breeding Pit, Ball Lightning combos were his favorite) we decided to do it. Just like that. No plan aside from be at the venue in time to register and and fill our stomach’s with culinary delights from Portugal. This plan was aces!

Needless to say it worked out quite well. Harry and I had a blast, food was consumed stories were made. It was one of the most fun times I’ve had leaving my home. And it was easy as pie and cheaper than Griselbrand+Gouryo’s Venngence.

The rules of Magic travel.

Rule #1

Pick an Event thats at a location you wanna go to.

Wizards lists it’s events for GPs far in advance. Like almost a full year in advance. That gives you plenty of time to save, procure cards for decks, and learn a format if news be. But also actually want to go where the event is.

Rule #2

Pick a Format that your party digs.

In comparison to say building a pauper deck, traveling ain’t exactly cheap. You can travel on the cheap, but you still gotta get there. European GPs from NYC are gonna require about $1500. Let’s not menetion the cost in deck building and missed work. If your buds don’t have Legacy/Modern/Standard decks then you should think about Limited. Remember you’ll be traveling to a place where English is secondary at best as a language for the most part. So, playing a really intricate combo deck in a format you aren’t super familiar with can really put a wrench in your fun. Winning is awesome but you are (for the most part) traveling for good times with friends.

Rule #3

Travel light!

How long are you gonna be gone for? If I leave for more than 5 days I pack a week’s worth of Clothing -2 sets of clothing per day +3 socks. I try to add one nice outfit that would get me into a fancy place that might have a dress code, and the rest is T-shirts and hoodies with jeans. REMEBER: You can find room for your Bathing Suit, think of it like a sideboard, not always useful, but hot damn, it can be a blow out if it resolves. Clothes, Bathroom stuff, Camera, DECKS (for the love of all that is broken don’t for get your decks) a book/ipad/ipod and thats about it. Head phones.

I pack light because I move around. I travel from airport to hostel to hotel to venue to hotel… you get the point. A lot of my stuff is on me. Another great point is to pack a day bag. You don’t want your clothes on you during the Magic Tournament. Also, bring a few plastic bags, use one for socks and anything that stinks and the other for stuff that’s just dirty. You can always find a laundromat. If you have a few hours to kill you can have clean clothes, if not you can risk it and grab food while your clothes are being cleaned. Personally, I bring cheap clothes so I never watchdog my stuff if I’m able to be entertained while my stuff gets clean. It’s nice mid trip to know you have a fresh set of pants/shirts for the rest of the trip, and it’s not the end of the world if you don’t. This is travel, not ballroom dancing, deodorize and you should be fine. They sell Frebreeze in other countries, and certainly all over the US. Don’t pack it just buy one and share it with your buds.

If you travel for less than 4 days packing light is easy you need an outfit for everyday you are gone.

Rule #4

Don’t be a rube.

I’ve never been the guy to get into trouble when I travel. It helps being a 32 year old male that looks like he probably doesn’t have much to take and will probably be worth more trouble that it’s worth to take advantage of. Not wearing clothing that screams “tourist” is one way to avoid undue attention. So take off the Yankees hat, and the I heart (location you are at) t-shirt, if you can blend in with out taking a huge suitcase or backpacker’s bag that’s a good start. If you’re from NYC you know how to spot a tourist (they are the ones looking up all the time and not watching where they are going), don’t be that guy. Also wear your essentials inside your coat instead of your backpocket. Like I said I’ve never had any of this kind of trouble while traveling, but I grew up in a city when I was young, we were taught how to protect ourselves in an urban environment. Travel in groups in unknown areas, avoid dark alleys, DON’T PLAY WITH GRIFTERS. My friends from the suburbs didn’t get these lessons, I’ve had to remind a couple of buds to not be stupid or to watch out for the guys asking for a ride to a gas station. It’s better to be rude than a rube.

One last tip it’s not a rule but it helps, booking the flight is cheaper on mid week days. Actually booking your flight on a Tuesday night is better than say a Friday, no matter what day you fly out. But flying out on a Tuesday or a Wednesday is way cheaper than Thursday-Monday. That’s when businessmen travel, the airlines up the cost of the flights because, well, some company is paying for it, and they just need the team there for the convention on paper shredders and business solutions or what ever. Sometimes you can fly in and stay somewhere for cheaper than it was to wait. I use Kayak to find my flights. They cross reference pretty much every worthwhile travel site.


It’s been a while since I broke down a tourney report. Being that this was the first Modern TNM I figure this is a good one to talk about. I played American Midrange. What a fun deck. It’s highly played so I knew people would be ready for it but it’s still good for a reason, it’s hard to hate out all the angles of attack. Here’s the list I ran.

2 Path to Exile
4 Electrolyze
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Lightning Helix
4 Spell Snare
2 Mana Leak
2 Cryptic Command
2 Restoration Angel
4 Geist of Saint Traft
4 Snapcaster Mage
3 Vendilion Clique
4 Celestial Colonade
2 Hallowed Fountain
2 Sulfur Falls
4 Arid Mesa
4 Scalding Tarn
1 Sacred Foundry
2 Steam Vents
1 Plains
2 Island
1 Mountain
1 Eigango Castle

2 Aven Mindcensor
2 Supreme Verdict
2 Disenchant
2 Stony Silence
2 Negate
2 Spellskite
2 Celestial Purge
1 Batterskull

I was able to purchase the rest of the fetches I needed which was pretty exciting in it self. With an actual deck and an ok Sideboard I was ready to Modern down. I spent the day with Mike Simpson learning how to play the deck. He was rocking the Zac Hill Grixis Delver deck. Which was rad because I could learn that match up as well as how to pilot my deck.

ROUND 1 Lirek – UW Tempo

At first, I had a bye, which is disheartening after spending all that money thats less Magic I get to play. But, it’s a first round win so that’s good news, I guess. Lirek changed all that. Luis informed me that he was on his way and I’d be playing him in round 1. Awesome…wait terrible. Lirek is most definitely borrowing 90% of his deck (and sleeves) from someone. Also, Lirek day 2’d a Modern GP with UW Tempo, the spiritual dad deck to mine. So he knows his deck. I’ve never beaten Lirek in constructed Magic, and nothing has changed today. He often capitalizes on my mistakes, and I’m sure to make one. Game 2 (he took game 1 handedly) I played Turn 3 Geist of Saint Traft, then follow it up with a Clique. I see 5 cards, the 3 worth mentioning were Path to Exile, Baneslayer Angel, and Restoration Angel. I took Resto… Bad player points for me. Baneslayer took over the game rather quickly after that.

0-2 Games 0-1 Matches

I’m a little bummed but that’s the kinda thing you learn and never need to mess up again.

ROUND 2 Li Xu -Gifts

GAH! I wanted a soft opponent after Lirek. I’m pretty sure Li is on Zac Hill’s Delver so I feel confident I at least know this match up. Turns out Li was on Gifts. He’s trying a new deck (Gifts) and feeling like I did in that last match, like a 8 year old in daddy’s shoes. I don’t often get to watch Li struggle with a deck. He chooses the top deck weeks before a tournament, learns it and then knows it by the time the matches count. We both had a lot of fun in this match as I played like Li with my tempo deck and Li durdled. We both made some errors but luck was with me that round I went 2-0. Li laughed about how terrible he played, I can’t say I noticed, because still what he saw in front of him was a grown ass man trying his very hardest not to blow it. The highlight of the evening though was in a practice game when he played Gifts Ungiven got a fatty and Unburial Rites and fails to find (obviously the next turn he’s gonna play the Rites on the Fatty. BUT WAIT, NO WHITE LANDS. We laughed for about 3 mins. Li confesses he really needs to practice more, but is having a really good time. That made me feel good. Beating him is always a huge challenge, it’s nice to get one in from time to time.

2-2 games 1-1 Matches

Round 3 Kevin Furst – Affinity

I tested with Kevin over the last couple of days inbetween FNM and Early Friday Draft. My last deck had very few answers to Affinity pre board. Kevin is one of my favorite dudes to play. He was one of the first cats I met when I started coming to the store and he’s a talker during matches which I’m a huge fan of. It’s TNM people, relax and chat it up! Kev mulls to 5 in Game 1. I have a lot of removal so I’m happy with my hand. Still he comes viscously close to taking the game from me. Even after I Clique his Cranial Plating after Steelshaper’s Gift, he just says whatevs and draws another one. OH CRUEL FATE. But I took Game 1. Game 2 I like my hand, he mulls to six and keeps. It starts out strong for him and he put me to 8 poison counters before I flash in a Clique and kill his Inkmouth Nexus on the block. Still Im not out of the woods. Vault Skirge and Memnite each with a plating take me to 1. I was able to block the Memnite and Helix the Skirge on the next turn with Snapcaster Mage. 1 life and 8 poison is as low as I got as I started to draw counter magic and more burn, Colonade dealt the final blow. WHAT A CRAZY GAME. I almost gave up, but I drew the outs I needed normally I just draw land when I need an answer, so thank you fetch lands for making this win possible.

4-2 Games 2-1 Matches

ROUND 4 Dana – Hater Griefer Mana Tither

Between the Judge’s Familiars and the Thalia’s and the Leonin Arbitor I was struggling to even get lands into play to pay for all the extra mana she was demanding from my value spells. Game 1 was over quick after Hero of Bladehold got online. Game 2 I got low and then Batterskull took me back into the game. Moorland haunt made one dude and the Batterskull’d Spirit took me all the way. Game 3 was pretty interactive. She played Aether Vial I tossed out Stony Silence. There was a host of Kitchen Finks and I played Geist and Clique. I made some trades (after Dana graciously let me take back a misplayed Clique into a Clique… “Oh they are legends?” once I could get rid of the finks I Supreme Verdicted. She got a hero out. I prayed for a Snapcaster and a land or another Verdict. No dice. Dana’s Hero made a villain out of me. After the game she gave me a USB drive with a extra battery charger for my phone. This was awesome and I felt like I won something too! The reason for no wanting it herself was great and proves that at least one other person at the store is as nuts as I am when it comes to personal security and the government.

Games 5-4 Matches 2-2

I’ll take it. I know the deck better now and I have ideas about the board too. Hoping to 4-0 next week now that I have some knowledge. Modern is a blast I can’t wait til next week!

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