Grand Prix Baltimore was a ghost town on Friday.


To get some practice in I signed up for a grinder. Josh did, too. He wanted practice and byes. I already had two byes because I used to play Magic all the time. The points added up.

There was debate about whether or not I should drop after opening a foil Windswept Heath. The guy to my right was offering me money for it. He had a whole rap about how he was going to Japan and wanted to offload a playset. The value of Magic cards is one of the top three shittiest parts of Magic. (Asshole Magic players and Magic Online are the other two shittiest parts of Magic.)

I stayed in, built a mediocre deck, and lost round one.

A new cold was making its way through my respiratory system. I really need to eat better and sleep more. Despite this, Josh, Hunter, Hugh, Bones, and others convince me to play in the 5pm super grinder. I get passed a pool with a three fetches, one of them foil. Karma, etc.

I nearly drop to head to the hotel and sleep. Instead I built a mediocre UG deck and played two rounds.

Round one I beat a very nice mana screwed dude.

We talked a bit about Team Draft League. I’ve been very excited about the TDL FOIL CUBE and spilled the beans on how awesome it is. It’s the closest Magic gets to what it was like for me as a 14 year old punk in 1994. A pile of cards trying to reduce my opponent to zero life. All synergy is discovered then and there. There aren’t archetypes or answers ahead of time.


He donated two pages of crappy (awesome) foils to the TDL FOIL CUBE.

I played one other fella, beat him, and then gave him the win ‘cuz I was out of it, needed food, and sleep. Hunter, Dave, and some others stuck around to finish the tournament.


The rest of us, including Uncle GCB, went on a seven hour search for food ending in generic Chinese take out.

I slept for eleven hours that evening.

Saturday the convention center looked slightly more populated. The lights were still mindnumbingly oppressive.


“Is it foggy in here?” more than one person asked.

Around the start of round two I sat down with my sleep in special already registered sealed pool and tried putting something together. The sleep had helped but I was still kinda out of it. The pool was difficult for me to build. There was one bomb in Butcher of the Horde, a bunch of evasion creatures, Herald of Anafenza (I seriously think this card sucks, always have, maybe always will), and … removal? That’s about it. I wasn’t looking forward to playing these cards and ended up with a mess.


I let the size of King of the Morphs and the cool of Icefeather Aven sway me towards green for really no reason. “Are you seriously playing this card?” Jon asked me later while rebuilding my deck, a choke hold on Venerable Lammasu. “It’s just bad.”

Hugh was done building around the same time I was done building. We played some test games.


I think I won them all.

Round three started.


This guy had every answer and every bomb. He apologized for having an awesome deck. “I’m not used to doing well,” he told me. “It feels weird, sorry.” He wasn’t trolling me. His genuine excitement was infectious. Maybe today wouldn’t be so bad. Not everyone’s deck would be as good as his, right?

My opponent requested I take a photo of the board state of the guy sitting to his right. He had all the mana available to him and a Dragon Throne of Tarkir in play. He won that match, too.


My boss has some corny titles for his paintings. A recent one is called Dragon Throne. I typed “Dragon Throne of Tarkir” into the database when I added it. Oops.

Hunter’s obsessed with people sleeping at Grand Prix events.


This photo is for him. That BOSE speaker the guy is sad-napping next to is the loudspeaker for all events at the convention center. Very loud voices came out of it all day. Who knows how this dude was sad-napping right next to it. He got good wifi reception, that’s for sure.


Here are two happy magical wizards with mustaches.


Lirek and Hunter played a test game or two between rounds. This is Lirek’s hand. Hunter kicked his ass. That’s how good Hunter’s deck was.

Round four Jarvis Yu beat me.


He’s a really good shuffler, a clear communicator, and good player.

Round five I got my first game win.


“I don’t know how that game got away from me,” my opponent said of game two. Me either. I’m pretty sure he had the win on board and did something wrong. Doesn’t matter, he beat me game three.

There was fuck all to do in Baltimore that day so I stayed in the tournament.

Round six came and went.


I lost to this guy’s two Gurmag Swiftwings. Kadar knows that card well.

Round seven I laughed my way to another loss.


My opponent was one of the funnier dudes I’ve played in Magic.

I ran into Jon after round seven and he recoiled in horror when I briefed him on my 2-7 record. “Your pool can’t be THAT bad,” he said. He rebuilt my deck for me.


He noted that I wasn’t playing Feat of Resistance, Mardu Hordechief, and an on-color fetchland.


“Why’re you playing green?” he asked me. “I guess ‘cuz I wanted bit smashy guys,” was probably my response.

Jon’s build is much better, duh. I’d been told so many times that Jeskai Ascendency is shit in limited that I didn’t even consider playing it. He said the value is so high it’s worth it. For some reason I have Mistfire Weaver blanked in my mind, too. So many errors in my deck building. It’s good to have a guy like Jon to help sort things out.

I couldn’t take advantage of his build, though. My team was ready to go back to New York a night early.


Before hopping in the Fetto Jeep with Monique, Rob, “ProTour” Abe, and Josh, I ate an enormous burrito.

Thanks for reading!


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 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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