A Warrior, a painting of mine from earlier in 2014, had a nice spot between a Jason Gringler and another artist who’s name I cannot recall. The opening took place two days before Bones, Kadar, and I left for Grand Prix Nashville.


The flight wasn’t too early but some babies need their beauty sleep.


Seems we were on a flight with a  bunch of ringers including Dan OMS, Jamie P, Berger, Manning, and a sleepy Papa Longo. When not passed out holding onto Canada Dry cans, the ringers were talking about sealed pools, cards in Khans, and who would be captains in the new Team Draft League.


The altitude proved too much for Kadar, too. He mouth-breathingly slept for a good hour or so. Bones didn’t even power down. Whenever I tried to engage Bones in conversation he replied, “Input! Input!” and went back to reading.


We spent too much money and stayed at the Hilton a block from the venue. Its atrium is enormous. The glass elevator made Kadar nauseous. I got vertigo walking the external hallway six flights up to and from our room. It was awesome.


Kadar Yelped us to Jack’s on Broadway. We’d picked up a Ferrando on the way. Everything we ate here was good.


The ringers sat down a few minutes into our meal. Believe it or not they were STILL talking about sealed pools. I guess that’s how one becomes a ringer.


Our one tourist shot.


The lighting in the Music City Convention center was inspired Friday afternoon as we sorted through our sealed pool. We’d signed up for a “Grinder” that could earn us zero byes because no one gets a bye at Team Sealed GPs.


The first team we faced in our Grinder. Dave and I won, I think Kadar lost. The seating for the GP and Grinder was: A-Kadar, B-Me, C-Bones.


We received a stack of nine packs for our round one victory then faced these guys. Kadar and Dave lost. I hammered my opponent, taking advantage of his bad luck mana.


Our first team portrait. We’d gone back to the room after our defeat to rebuild our pools and build a new pool. The rebuild proved fruitful.


We learned a lot about card sharing and built better decks. It was the best learning experience we had as a team.


Room service came and we watched Kobe put up a fight against the Clippers. Then we built a new sealed pool and after an hour or so called it a night.


In the morning we received our sealed pools, Batterskulls, and incredibly disappointing playmats in this brown sack. Kadar watched videos on his phone.

The playmats were disappointing because the organizer had posted about them lining up to form a sort of panoramic triptych playmat. Instead, they were just three individual illustrations from Khans (Savage Knuckleblade, Rush of Battle, and Sultai Whatever). While I’m complaining I should bring up how underwhelming the VIP package was for this event. The tricera-box was hugely disappointing. It looked like it’d been shoddily put together by local families during arts and craft night at the YMCA. The water bottle was severely toxic (I drank plastic water all weekend). The VIP area was devoid of reason to hangout and I only went in to fill up my poison water bottle with bottled water. There were no snacks, very little TV, no charging stations that I could see, and I felt bamboozled. The only other thing to complain about was the shitty staging area for featured matches. Lately event organizers have built a platform around the featured matches so spectators can look down onto the action. Next Level Games did not do this. Almost no one on site watched the featured matches. It was too difficult to see anything and not worth one’s time.

Anyway, our sealed builds were good. We worked as a team and, I think, built properly. I was a little hesitant about Kadar’s build but he was so excited about his blue/red deck that I kinda just let it go. Bones probably felt the same way. Bones had a grindy BUG deck and I had a Warriors-ish Junk deck with Siege Rhino and Wingmate Roc.


Round one Kadar lost to a Gurmag Swiftwing with a Molting Snakeskin on it. It was the top-decked second Molting Snakeskin that really did him in. I will pick on Kadar about this forever. When he was sitting on the toilet in the hotel later that night I pushed copies of these cards under the door. “What the hell? Quit it! Oh! HAHAHAHAHAHA!” was his response.

Bones and I ran over our opponents. 1-0.


Kadar lost, I drew, and Bones won. This team had a good sense of humor. My tie was pretty rough. I crushed him game one and he smoked me game two. Game three we just got into a dead lock. Wingmate Roc probably could’ve gotten me out of it but she was nowhere to be found. Tying put our team into a weird bracket. 1-0-1.


This match made me nervous but Bones and I both won. Kadar got steamrolled by the guy with his thumbs up. He sang throughout their match, announced plays and what he thought Kadar drew. It was mind numbing. Good spirits but annoying. 2-0-1.




Kadar lost. Bones and I both beat our opponents on turn five of turns. My opponent, the purple guy, kept saying “Yeah, yup, yeah” etc. every time I made a play. I thought, “OK, that’s driving me nuts, but that’s his game not mine, I need to play my game at a pace I’m comfortable with and ignore the rushing and condescension of my opponent.” 3-0-1.


Kadar got his first win of the day against the gray-hair on the left. Bones and I both timed out of the round. My opponent ended turn four of turns with a Flying Crane Technique that brought me to one life. Had I not swung three turns prior with an Abzan Guide (Kadar’s advice) to just gain some life, I’d have lost. I probably should’ve been attacking with it the whole time. Kadar’s victory was all we needed to take the match (two ties and a win = a win). 4-0-1.


My opponent was various kinds of screwed and I smashed him. Kadar lost and Bones won. And look! There’s that Rush of Battle playmat. So boring.

This team was fun to play Magic with. Good dudes. Good senses of humor.

“We’ve done a great job of dodging pros so far,” said Bones, jinxingly. 5-0-1.


This is when we got paired up to the x-1s. SUPER!

Skarren slaughtered Bones.

Wesco Trumpet Blasted the shit out of Kadar (figuratively, unfortunately).

I took game one from Hayne and then he repeatedly Highland Game + Awaken the Bear‘d until all hope was lost.

These guys played efficiently and professionally without any kinda bad vibes.

Hayne’s deck was was unexpected. Five Highland Games are so good if you have ten Awaken the Bears in your deck. 5-1-1.

We couldn’t take another loss, as we were repeatedly told, ‘cuz  X-2-1 wasn’t good enough to make day two.


Then we played these assholes.

Just kidding, Gerry, Cho, and Utter-End were the most fun team we played all weekend.

I mulled to oblivion both games vs. Josh Cho (and lost). His deck was a more efficient version of my deck.

Bones thought he made some mistakes against Gerry that cost him the match.

Utter-End made quick work of Kadar. Kadar’s deck had abandoned him many rounds earlier.

5-2-1 and out of contention for day two.


We decided to play the last round. My opponent beat me in two games in which I was color screwed. He proceeded to tell me how good his deck was (he still had all these) and various other annoying things. I think he was just excited about winning. I snarkily said, “I get it, you won,” and he slowed down a bit with his banter. This was the second least fun match of the day for me. Bones ended up winning his match.


Kadar lost when he couldn’t draw a single non-land spell for eight or so turns in his game three. He needed to trigger Jeskai Ascendency. Bones and I think he should’ve abandoned white completely from his deck. Hindsight, etc. 5-3-1.

The next morning Kadar headed to the venue early to partake in the Super Sunday Sealed event. He ran into our round nine opponents and wished them luck in day two. They were surprised. “What do you mean day two? We were 6-3,” they told him. Every 6-2-1 team had made day two. If we’d taken the time to ask our opponents what their record was (at the time it was 5-3) they’d have scooped to us (they told Kadar as much). We hadn’t asked. Oh well.

Bones helped me put together my BUG Delver deck for the Legacy Madness tournament at noon. We then walked around trying to see what was going on with Day Two.


“All I see is two round losses,” said Bones of this feature match.

I ended up going 3-1-1 in the Legacy Madness, splitting in the final round to an opponent with the same record. I was happy with the deck. I’d beaten the mirror, a rogue mono blue ninja/counters deck (better than it sounds), and Bones’s Death and Taxes. Lands is the deck I lost to. Playing against Lands is a frustrating waste of time. I missed playing Shardless Agent but it sort of disspiates after you start Dazing people.

After Legacy MadnessBones and I signed up for a draft.


Signals were never clear, as they often aren’t in KTK drafts, and I ended up taking most of the gain lands and bombs. Master of Pearls and Zurgo, Helmsmasher plus ten gain lands. I was able to unmorph Master and cast Zurgo. I even won a game. Alas, my opponent had a sweet Sultai deck and crushed me the other two games.


Bones went on to win our draft! Prize payout? Three packs. Pathetic.

Kadar also won the draft he was in. His deck contained Cranial Archive. He needed that win. Salvaged his weekend I think.


Before we headed out we checked in on these guys beating each other up. “We crushed them,” Dan told me later.


I loved playing Magic with these two. It was a great weekend. We almost day two’d (or technically day two’d if you ask Kadar). We became a better team with each build. I look forward to smashing the next Team Sealed GP with Kadar and Bones.


All that remained of our trip was this pile of room service.

Thanks for reading. See you at Grand Prix New Jersey!

Very best,


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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