Or, more accurately, see the inside of an unnamed LaGuardia B-terminal bar on a Friday night, for about five hours all told. Buying $10 Coors Lights (they were out of Sam Adams), trying to scrounge some chicken strips so you don’t flip out from hunger, wondering how late you’re actually going to get into Atlanta for the Grand Prix tomorrow, all while a serious thunderstorm rages unheard outside—good times!

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The scene at the LaGuardia sports bar where I spent last Friday night.

After getting back from our honeymoon two Sundays ago, I decided I needed to immediately get back on a plane for a GP, so as to get the most use out of my three byes. Only problem was, I really had zero experience with Journey Into Nyx, as my May has been almost wholly occupied by getting married, Hawaii, and trying to do about a month’s work of work in two weeks. I had played one flight in the prerelease, one online sealed, and a few team drafts—which is not nothing, but it’s way less experience than I usually have with a format.

So after all the weather delays I finally landed in Atlanta at about 2:30am. Brendan “BMac” McNamara already had the hotel room secured, which was awesome—but I didn’t get to sleep until about 3am, which totally had me off my game. Thank god for my three byes, though, as I actually managed to get a decent night’s sleep before heading over to the convention center for my noon build time.

I was initially psyched to see Keranos, God of Storms in my pool, along with some good red removal and a Purphuros, God of the Forge—but unfortunately when I laid out UR I had too few creatures and just didn’t like my curve. UB seemed strong, though, with Hour of Need (so bonkah), Shipwreck Singer, and Eater of Hope, along with a bunch of good two-drops, so that’s what I built. BMac and I jammed a couple games before his round started, and I beat him handily, so I was feeling good. Here’s the deck:

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It just wasn’t my day, though. In R1 I faced a really nice guy who was at his first GP, and who had a nut RW deck, with Eidolon of Countless Battles and Flame-Wreathed Phoenix, and went down in two games I thought I should have been able to win, somehow. In G2, after having seen a Fall of the Hammer out of my opponent in G1, I cast Shipwreck Singer on T2 and considered casting a Nyxborn Eidolon or keeping mana up for Singer activations or Necrobite, which I had in hand. My opponent had a Satyr Hoplite and a naked Nyxborn Shieldmate out on the field. Eventually I decide to pass the turn back with all three of my mana up, planning to block and use Necrobite to kill something.

So my opponent goes to his attack step and attacks in with both creatures. At first I was a bit puzzled, as my opponent hadn’t attacked with either creature on the previous turn—which should have tipped me off. And so—I don’t know what I was thinking, but I just say, “No blocks,” and activate the singer, trying to kill his Hoplite. Of course he casts Fall of the Hammer in response, and I get blown the fuck out.

Why did I do that? My exact plan was to keep up mana for Necrobite, and then when I was given the opportunity, I didn’t. Why do we make these kind of stupid mistakes? Long story short, the answer is inexperience and greed. I thought I could get my opponent by killing his creature without expending a card, but to do so I was forced to act first, which is never good idea. Instead I could have just blocked Hoplite with the Singer, which if nothing else happened would have ended in my guy eating his; and if anything did happen—which it would, as my opponent would have surely Fall of the Hammer-ed in response—I would have Necrobite for the trump. Instead I lost one of my most valuable creatues, especially against my opponent’s deck of X/1’s.

In short, that was the kind of day it was for me. I lost my next round, aka R5, before rallying and rattling off two wins—one against Pro Tour Atlanta runner-up Nam Sung Wook; there were a *lot* of pros in evidence at the GP, including fully 18 of the top 25 players in the world—only to end my tourney in R8 with my third loss. I was really bummed, but, like I said, it just wasn’t my day. I cast Hour of Need like once all day, for just one sphinx, and literally never cast Eater or Hope or triggered Agent of Fates. The cards weren’t falling my way—and I made some poor mulligan decisions at key points as well, for instance keeping a no-Island hand with three blue cards, a couple Swamps, and a Nyxborn Eidolon in my last game of the day.

I had a great time with my buddy BMac, though. The weather was super nice in Atlanta, and due to our early exit from the tournament we had time to take MARTA (Atlanta’s subway) out to Decatur and one of Brendan’s favorite restaurants and beer bars from when he lived in the city, the Brick Store. Also everybody was really nice, of course, and in giving my, “Hey, I write for Hipsters, here’s our business card” spiel to my opponents, I met several people who seemed psyched about the blog, including one guy who (very accurately, I thought) praised us for having a lot of cool “lifestyle” content, as he put it—of which obviously this particular column is a part. It’s the best when you put something out in the world and people totally get what you are doing, so I can’t complain at all about that. Thanks, cool guy whose name I forget! (Sorry, I wasn’t in much of a note-taking mood by that point of the tourney.)

On Sunday we ate at BMac's namesake restaurant, Taco Mac.

On Sunday we ate at BMac’s namesake restaurant, Taco Mac.

That’s all I got! GP DC is at the end of June, also full-block Theros Limited, and I plan to be way more prepared by then, now that my crazy May is over. Also one final note: Brendan highly recommended drawing first in this sealed format, especially with a control-y UB build—and I followed his advice and drew first all day, but I’m not sure I liked it. I really just hate choosing to draw first in G1, without knowing anything of my opponent’s deck. In my R1, for instance, I definitely didn’t want to give my RW opponent the play. Going forward I think I’m much more comfortable choosing to play (when I have the choice) in G1, and then maybe reevaluating and choosing to draw (where appropriate) in subsequent games. What do you guys think? Is full-block Theros (generally) a draw-first sealed format, or no?

This guy at the GP was just plum tuckered out.

This guy at the GP was just plum tuckered out.

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. Follow Hunter at @hrslaton.

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