In a departure from our regularly scheduled programing, this week I’m going to be talking about … Standard. I know—shocking, right? Trust me, I’m as disgusted as you are.

Long story short: In an effort to grind for Planeswalker Points (and here is where every non-Magic-playing friend of mine who’s happened to click on this link from my Facebook or Twitter page rolls his or her eyes and says, “Oh, brother,” and clicks back to Buzzfeed), and also in the desire to hang out with Dudes Extraordinaire Matt Jones and Kadar Brock, I decided—after much waffling—to attend the Standard PTQ at Kings Games this past Saturday.

Until this past weekend, I had played Standard maybe once in my career? And that was a few years ago, when Twenty Sided Store co-owner Luis Chato was hosting Standard nights at his and his partner Lauren’s crib. For that event, which was during Scars block, I built that super-aggro Goblin deck with Mox Opals and I forget what else.

So I’m casting about for something to play, because I essentially own zero cards (I sell every rare I get to fund my Limited habit), and I put out word on our local playgroup’s Google Group. Kadar kindly offers mono-black control, while Matt Jones suggests maybe I just play something that turns dudes sideways, i.e. Naya Blitz. So I ship Jonesy literally the first random Naya Blitz list I come across online, he says he can build it, and my fate is sealed.

Here’s the list:

4 Boros Elite
4 Burning-Tree Emissary
4 Champion of the Parish
4 Experiment One
4 Flinthoof Boar
4 Frontline Medic
2 Ghor-Clan Rampager
4 Lightning Mauler
4 Mayor of Avabruck
3 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
4 Cavern of Souls
1 Clifftop Retreat
1 Rootbound Crag
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Stomping Ground
2 Sunpetal Grove
4 Temple Garden
3 Searing Spear

2 Tormod’s Crypt
3 Boros Reckoner
2 Fiend Hunter
3 Pacifism
3 Boros Charm
2 Gruul Charm

On Friday night at 20SS, I toy with the idea of playing Standard, for practice, but I can’t say no to draft (also I hadn’t yet gotten some Cavern of Souls I needed from Bones McCoy, HOTC copy editor par excellence—thanks, Bones!). I first-picked an Angelic Skirmisher and proceed to draft a sick BW Zairichi control deck with eight pieces of removal, and demolish a nice dude named Josh (not Fetto) and Jason Chan in my march to the finals. At one point Jason Chan bloodrushed a Rubblehulk onto one of his alpha-striking guys while he had literally all (17) of his lands on the table, and it still was two shy of killing me (I was at 35 life from Tiger). After splitting, I lost in the finals to Hugh, when my somewhat bad draws (virtually no removal) couldn’t stabilize against his battalion legions.

No! No! Bad Hunter! No Limited this week!

Where was I? Oh yeah: I didn’t play Standard on Friday night, which meant that going into the event on Sat. morning, I was straight-up cold, having never played a match with the deck. Stupid, I know, but hey. Before the tourney started (1.5 hours late, as noted by Jonesy), Matt noted that it was kind of like I was just playing a new sealed deck, which was sort of true but didn’t quite feel like it.

At any rate, after driving down to godforsaken Kings Games with Kadar and Matt, and waiting in a way-too-long line in way-colder-than-I’d-expected weather, and eating an excellent bagel marred by an excessive amount of American cheese between its slices (I know, my own fault—but cheddar cheese (the right amount, mind you—not too much) melted onto a toasted everything bagel, with a Diet Coke to drink, is one of life’s great pleasures), and registering my deck at a table at Dunkin’ Donuts—literally the first time I’d gone through the cards—we filed upstairs to Kings Games and awaited our doom.

Now, I’m not going to hate too hard on Kings Games. It’s hard to run a business, and New York rents and space constraints can’t help. But they just simply don’t have the space to run a 213-person, eight-round PTQ, which is what this event ended up being. And really, it’s Wizards’ own fault for not allowing non-store entities (i.e., Grey Matter) to run events in New York and other big cities. I know it’s complicated, and I’m happy that 20SS has gotten business that they might not have had the non-store-entity rule change happened, but that doesn’t mean it’s a perfect set-up or decision for NYC players. END RANT.

Round 1—Eli (BG Zombies)

I took G1 with bloodrush. In G2, I had a weird start wherein I had to name “Boar” on Cavern (I had 2X Flinthoof in hand). On my last turn of G2, I swung in with my team, with Ghor-Clan Rampager in hand. Eli had one card in hand. I declined to bloodrush because Eli had three lands open, and I was worried about getting two-for-one’d by removal. So I dropped him from 10 to three life. He didn’t have me dead on board, but he top-decked a Dreg Mangler and swung in for the win.

After the match, we talked it over, and I realized that I should have just gone for it, because that’s what my deck does. Whether or not Eli had removal (he didn’t, as it turned out), my game plan was to win that turn with a bloodrusher. And if I didn’t, I was dead. “That’s your Limited thinking getting in your head,” Matt Jones told me.

Anyway, in G3 of this match, Eli got out Lotleth Troll and Knight of Infamy to negate my 2X Boros Elites. His Nighthawk also helped. Other notes: I didn’t sideboard at all between games; I simply didn’t know what to do. 0-1

Round 2—[REDACTED] (Esper control)

This guy was a real charmer from Long Island, and was basically Pauly Fucking D (but less cool). He was the kind of guy who’s just constantly sort of rushing you—and even though there’s never a definite point where you would feel justified by saying, “Hey, shut the fuck up and I’ll let you know when I’ve made my decisions,” the whole thing just feels shitty.

That said, at one point during the match, my opponent did a mini-Fact-or-Fiction Jace activation, and laid out the three cards. I started sorting them into piles, and literally the first moment that there were two cards together and one card by itself, the dude was like, “Those are the piles?”

Now, I wasn’t born yesterday—and, even though I’m not a Standard player, I know enough to tell my opponents to shut the fuck up (nicely) if they are trying to rush me.  So I said, curtly, “No, they’re not.  I’ll let you know when I’m finished.”

Asserting myself or no, I lost in three games. G1 he Supreme Verdicted me 2X and I had no gas left. (Between games, I boarded into 3X Boros Charm, for indestructible. I have no idea if this was correct.) G2 he scooped on T3 after a fast start by me. G3 was looking good—and much like G2—until he miracled a Terminus. 0-2

Note: I’m pissed that Burning-Tree Emissary doesn’t have haste.

After this round, I went to move my car to a non-metered space, and a woman who evidently had been trying to U-turn into the parking space I found on the street—my side of the street—stopped and cursed at me, telling me I’d stolen her space. Unbelievable. You can’t be planning on U-turning into a space and think it’s yours. That’s not how parking works. “I’m sorry,” I said. “I don’t know what to tell you. I have someplace to be, and I didn’t see you trying to park here.” So she threatens to key my car—and, when I came back later, I realized she’d done just that: keyed the shit out of my hood. “Fuck this place,” I wrote in my notebook. Suffice it to say, I will not be making the journey to Kings Fucking Highway ever again.

ANYWAY. Back to the goddamn tournament.

Round 3—George (GW Blink?)

For this round, we got relegated to the murder basement. That’s right: You had to leave Kings Games, go around the back of the building, and down into a cellar basement. It was as miserable as it sounds. Thankfully, I was randomly seated next to Kadar, who was having as bad a day as I was.

You've gotta be kidding me.

You’ve gotta be kidding me.

At any rate, George was a cool guy from Long Island. He was on the Thragtusk + Conjurer’s Closet plan, which I’d read about earlier in the week and seemed cool and like something I might like to play. I lost in three games. In G3 he resolved Resto Angel against me, and I still had him on the ropes—but he topdecked Mizzium Mortars and, though he couldn’t cast it for its overload cost becaues Thalia was on my side of the board (and he only had six mana), he ended up nuking my Experiment One, thus forcing me to chump with my Mayor of Avabruck. The games were all really close. 0-3

Round 4—Kevin (Humanimator w/ Kessig Malcontents)

Kevin was a young kid from Westchester, also relegated to the murder basement. I mulled to five in G1 and six in G2. I screwed up in G3 when I played double Thalia—he didn’t realize it until the next turn. (He also got in a steal-and-swing with one of the Thalias and a Zealous Conscripts, so I felt like it evened out, and I was too demoralized at that point to call Connor over to fix it.) I dunno—as I was telling Matt Jones, the whole “legend rule” thing is just something that virtually never comes up in Limited, so I 100% wasn’t thinking about it. I also screwed up by Searing Spearing his Zealous Conscripts when I had 2X Spear in had, allowing him to reanimate Conscripts on his next turn. I probably could have won if I had just gone to the dome with the Spears, as I had a pretty substantial force on the battlefield and Kevin was at eight life. I lost in three games. 0-4

And that, friends, was just about enough for me. I was freezing, I felt filthy, and I wasn’t prepared to be at Kings Games for another four or more hours, just to grind some points that (evidently) I probably wasn’t going to get anyway. So me, Kadar, and Matt split the fuck outta there, collecting Young Lirek along the way. It was not a great day for 20-Siders—although Anthony Lowry made the finals, we later learned! Congrats, man. Wish you could have taken it down.

I spent the rest of the evening (my fiance was out of town) playing MODO: 2X Avacyn Restored queues, and a Gatecrash 8-4, all of which I went 1-1 in. I had heard that AVR has a lot of value, and it’s true—I managed to win 4X AVR packs, which I sold back for 14.5 tix or so, along with a Gisela, a Silverblade Paladin, and something else, which netted me another seven tix. Not bad. AVR was seriously a bad format, though—the packs are just so incredibly shallow; three or four picks in and it’s just all trash.

But back to Standard: What did I learn? Not a ton. I’m sure I would have had a way better time—and maybe learned more—if the tourney had been at 20SS. I didn’t actually love the deck, either; I want to be doing more/have more options than just turning my dudes sideways every turn. I guess I’m not actually an aggro player at heart; like I said, the GW Conjurer’s Closet deck sounded cool to me. Regardless: Mad props to Jones and Bones for the card hook-ups, and to Matt for building the deck for me.

And I’m not a Standard player at heart, either, although that maybe goes without saying. I just hate how predetermined and unsurprising the match-ups seem. Of course, I’m speaking from almost zero experience, and I mean no slight against Standard or those who love it. What can I say? Sixty cards is too damn many.

23/17 is a Hipsters of the Coast column focused on Limited play—primarily draft and sealed, but also cubing, 2HG, and anything else we can come up with. The name refers to the “Golden Ratio” of a Limited deck: 23 spells and 17 lands.

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