I couldn’t make Eternal Weekend this year. Philly is my favorite non-NYC place to play Magic. Dinic’s is my favorite place to get a sandwich. Legacy is my favorite format. Lots of my bros were headed to the City of Brotherly Love. I got offers for rides. I could take a $10 bus. There are a lot of options, but the damn thing started at 9am and fuck if I’m getting up at 5am to make a 6am bus or car share. Not after a late night Team Draft League match (we lost in a big way to Longo, Manning, and Dan). Not when I have three huge trips coming up (Nashville for the Grand Prix, Milan for work, and Berlin for fun and catching up with painter buddies). So, I didn’t make it. I hear Li is stomping people with Nimble Mongoose and being reminded that the card is bad now that Treasure Cruise is available. His Twitter feed says he’s been goosing people all day while they cruse and cruise into nothing. I like that Li’s crushing people.

Kadar, Dave, and me are headed to #GPNASH for Team Sealed on Friday. We haven’t practiced once. Kadar was pestering the Team Draft League email list with draft requestions. I suggested we see if we can drum up some Team Sealed practice interest. We headed over to Jon’s house to build and battle Team ProTour (including Dan OMS and Jaime P).

The first build was very informative. Dave, Kadar, and me defined our roles in the team. Dave, true to his robot nature, was very commanding, organized, and efficient. I tried to stay light-hearted, open minded, and threw in my two cents when they were available. Kadar took forever to chop his deck down to a reasonable size because, “I like all these cards.” Eventually he got there. It’s really funny listening to him try to convince himself that he should play this card or that card when he’s got a solid 25 playables that work really well together. Cards like Treasure Cruise or another tempo card in his already four to five tempo spell deck, he would fight for them in his mind endlessly. Sometimes when you love a card you’ve got to be strong enough to leave it in the sideboard.

The Mardu deck I ended up with was good. It had a Butcher of the Horde, good removal, and some other sweet mid-range cards. I mulligan’d a lot to a 2-1 record. Dave 0-3’d. Kadar 1-2’d.

While I was playing Jon, Kadar (playing Jamie), started talking to me about his mana base. We were so far over time in deck building that I didn’t even look or think about Kadar’s manabase. I had no idea what his numbers were. I remember him saying “I’ve got great fixing” and I left it at that. Kadar said something about how he should have another mountain in this deck. “I can’t advise you,” I said, “I have no idea what your mana base is.”

“Seriously?!” asked a stunned Jon.

“Yeah why would I know what Kadar’s manabase is?”

Jon told us that they built their decks and manabases together. He didn’t know the exact number of each land type in his teammates’ decks but he had a general idea. He didn’t get how I had no clue.

It felt like this one time a professor gave my class shit for not attending the Armory Fair one weekend. She said we were artists and it was our responsibility to know what was going on in the art world. We needed to participate in the dialogue and the only way was to be aware of what galleries, museums, curators, and other artists are up to. I never missed another New York art fair and rarely miss exhibitions at most museums and important galleries.

Jon calling attention to our error in involvement and communication was big for me. The next build I paid more attention and could probably have come up with Kadar’s manabase for his second Temur deck (and second 1-2 record).

My team made another couple of errors, Jamie, Jon, or Dan would point them out and we’d thank them because we hadn’t seen the correct line and were grateful to have it offered.

The second build went a lot smoother. We looked at our fixing and most powerful cards first. The decks sort of formed themselves there. Dave was still his robotic and efficient self. I tried out several base colors for an Abzan build and reached a 2-1 record again. Dave 0-3’d.

After the matches were played we took my deck and Dave’s deck apart with Dan and Jon.


Dave had struggled to figure out if his deck should be base red with white or black cards in it. Kadar and I talked him into removing the black to streamline his mana. This gave me access to all the black cards, several of which I didn’t really need. Dan and Jon’s rebuild put Dave back into black, gave him the death toucher, a morph, some late-game flyers, and Bloodsoaked Champion. We thought it looked better and the discussion around the re-build was very good.

It’s difficult to find the roles of the members of your team. It’s difficult to think like a team. The goal of Team Sealed is to win matches and the best way to do this it seems is to build the three best decks you can. That sounds obvious but it’s really hard. It’s hard not to call the deck you’re building “my deck” or to say “this card would be good in my deck.” It’s not your deck, it’s the team’s deck that you’re building and will probably pilot.

Anyway, I’m grateful to my teammates for being willing to spend a Saturday building decks and smashing into much better players. I’m grateful to Dan, Jon, and Jamie for spending their Saturday with some very dedicated non-pro Magic enthusiasts, for being patient and incredibly helpful. Grand Prix Nashville is going to be a really good time.

Thanks for reading.

Much love,

Matt Jones (born 1980, Rochester, New York) is an artist living and working in Brooklyn, NY. Matt works between a variety of inter-related genres that explore mythology, archaeology, ancient history, theoretical physics, comedy, and the paranormal—all developed and inspired by research and personal experience. Together his bodies of work form a way for Matt to evaluate, negotiate, and play with the world around him. You can check out his art at www.mattjonesrules.com. Matt’s played Magic since early 1995, took a break for a decade or so, and came back to the game the weekend after the Scars of Mirrodin release. With Hugh Kramer he formed New York’s Team Draft League and is one of the original writers for Hipsters of the Coast. Matt’s been sober for seven years.


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