Some decisions haunt for a week: food poisoning, the painfully bad play that cost a match or a tournament. Other things have stuck around a lot longer. Embarrassing conversations that resurface in the twilight hours before falling asleep. The off-hand remark that dug deeper, was far crueler than intended.

omg books

Also on the list: thinking you can be a happy, well-adjusted premed.

After playing Magic for a year and somehow existing for seventeen more, I’ve realized that I have a pretty bad sense of judgment. I hate making decisions. Major life choices—college, choice of summer employment—always filled me with a sense of impending doom. I make a lot of mistakes and generally spend whatever time I have left trying to fix them.

Last week, I moved back to Philadelphia for year two of classes.


MTGO: curing loneliness since like 2013.

This is the point where I think I’m supposed to start considering majors and committing to more rigorous, specialized courses with registrar numbers above the 100’s. That’s a scary prospect.

Sometimes Magic is a testing ground for the real world. I think most new players realize that playing Magic is about minimizing their own poor decisions. The good and the great players go beyond that, understanding the importance of punishing an opponent’s misplays and bad luck. But I’d like to focus on figuring out how to improve my own deckbuilding and gameplay choices,

Over the last year, I’ve somehow accumulated 50 or so Phantom Points on MTGO—enough to tide me over with a few weeks of M15 Phantom Sealed events. Making another buy-in to MTGO is difficult to accept after spending a small fortune on textbooks (one or two Tarmogoyfs, at least), and I don’t mind the Sealed format as much as I did when I first started. My deckbuilding skills are still tenuous, but I think I’ve gotten to the point where I can identify two or three strong colors and throw them together.

For one event, this what my wholly unspectacular pool looked like:


Two copies of Triplicate Dunkers? White it is!

Thanks to the dominating force that is 2 x Triplicate Spirits, I knew I was in white. Picking a second color was a bit more tricky. Black looked alright if I was on the Mind RotBlack Cat “I hope your cards weren’t too important” plan. Caustic Tar and Ob Nix are both (supposedly) bombs, but warehouse fireworks—the kind you buy from the stores advertised on highway billboards—compared to the tactical nuclear strikes that is Triplicate.

Otherwise, green is packing Ancient Silverback  and Kalonian Twingrove, creatures that are a little bit more proactive. The rest of their cards aren’t half bad, so I picked up all the playables I could and jammed them into a 40 card deck.


GW “This Deck is Super Mediocre Without Spirits”

I considered Hushwing Gryff, but was afraid of turning off too many of my own enter the battlefield effects. Being stuck on a Resolute Archangel or Kalonian Twingrove  and unable to play it would suck, so I figured the bird would be better off on the sideboard.

In match two, I ran into some tough calls. Opponent was on the UG bee’s plan and had both Hornet’s Nest and Hornet Queen . And OK matchup versus Trip Spirits, but my ground forces were very, very sad.


The saddest rhino.

Life points went down fast after hornets hit the board. Angel, after hitting exactly once, was quickly Encrusted. Sitting at four health and dead on board next turn, I drew my deck’s only out: Invasive Species targeting Resolute Archangel, allowing me to replay it on the same turn.


Big plays.

All was good until I made a crucially bad Master of Predicaments call, allowing my opponent to cheat in a Hornet Queen the turn where I would have swung in for victory.


Look at how smug he is. He knows what he’s done.

Most of the time, I just randomly “less than four” after he landed a hit. But, with only one card left in hand for the past few turns, opponent must have been on either a combat trick or big creature, and I had no reason to fear a smaller spell.

For whatever reason, I was on tilt after that match. Thinking my GW deck wasn’t up to par, I quickly sideboarded in black for Festergloom and Black Cat, which would hopefully prompt some unfavorable trades with enemy wasp’.


BW: Sometimes mediocre, but always cool looking. 

After a few turns, I set up a strong board position and was on the offensive. I attacked into Hornet’s Nest, ready to immediately Festergloom the tokens.


“Press F2 and pray.”

My opponent played Hornet Queen the exact next turn and quickly took the game. Should I have not attacked and held Uncle Fester for the bomb? I had no reason to cast it on my second main phase, and waiting would have definitely allowed me to clear his board and swing in again. Pretty bad.

Lessons learned? Decision making is hard and, when in doubt, opponents always have their best card in hand. That has to be a life lesson or something.

Tony is the Hipster’s resident scrub, and Scrub Report is his journey through the world of Magic. Find him @holophr and

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