This week I decided to play in a small Tuesday night Standard tournament at a local card store/cafe called The Uncommons. I like this store for a couple reason, but mainly because it is in my neighborhood and a short walk from my apartment. They also make a good cappuccino and if you ever get bored playing Magic (which is not likely) they have an extensive collection of board games to play.  This was my first time playing in a Constructed tournament there so I didn’t know what the scene was or how many people usually showed up for it.  I figured it wouldn’t be more than 20 or so gamers and I was pretty close; there were 16 players signed up.

I was going to play the Abzan Aggro deck that I played the previous weekend at the Not Philly SCG Open. I still liked the deck and I just wanted to relax and play in a mellow environment.  I got there a few minutes early and was greeted by the father of the Hipsters himself: Zac Clark. I was pretty happy to see him since not knowing anyone at a tournament is a drag.  He was excited to be playing some kind of a Temur brew that night.  I went up to the counter to sign up for the event and order a coffee when a couple of things caught my eye: The first was a bag of chips called “ProTings” and the second was the name of a player who signed up for the tournament before me. The player was Craig Wescoe, who if you don’t know is a Pro Tour winner. Great, I thought: There is a PT Champion playing here at what was supposed to be my mellow night out.

I texted my roommate Jamie and told him that Craig was playing there and he told me that I should buy him a beer and that if I played him to “sweep the leg.” I didn’t want to randomly buy someone I didn’t know at a gaming store a beer but If I played him there would definitely be no mercy. As luck would have it, I won the first three rounds and to no one’s surprise so did Wescoe, so we were set to face off in the final round.  He was playing his Naya Tokens deck that featured aggressive creatures and the crusade like enchantment Dictate of Heliod. This would be the first time playing against that deck so I didn’t really know how it matched up. Luckily for me he didn’t get the right colored mana either game (the first game was still really close) so I was able to beat him in two games. Not only did I win some packs, a sweet store playmat, and an invitation to a “Win a Box” tournament at The Uncommons, I more importantly didn’t bring shame upon my dojo (aka my apartment).

The next stop on my magic week was playing at the Twenty Sided Store for an afternoon Fate Reforged prerelease. Playing at a prerelease is a lot of fun and if you haven’t done it you should definitely check it out. Not only do you get to play with the new cards for the first time, you get to meet some great people who might be playing magic for their first time. You also get to do some weird/cool things that WotC has set up for the flavor of the new set. For this prerelease the theme was reviving Ugin. I am not going to go fully into what that means but you basically have to revive a dead dragon (I know it’s a story you’ve heard a million times). For this event the clan I picked was Sultai (not that I really had much of a choice since it was the only clan left by the time I signed up). I felt that I got some really good cards and was also able to splash the amazing white enchantment Mastery of the Unseen. We successfully managed to revive Ugin, the Spirit Dragon (huzzah!) but I didn’t manage to get a win in the final round ending up 3-1 for the day.

The following day I was back at The Uncommons for the prerelease but this time I was playing in a two-headed giant (2HG) tournament. My second head was Chris Manning. Chris is a great player but he is truly a master when it comes to the 2HG format. I let him do all the thinking when it came to making our decks and boy were they a doozy. We picked the Jeskai and Sultai clans so there wouldn’t be much overlap with colors (I say we, but this was all Chris’s idea). The great thing about 2HG is that cards that are too situational to start in a sealed or draft deck really shine in this format. You can build your decks so that one “head” has mostly reactive or specialized cards while the other “head” has the threats. Our decks were great and we beat our first three opponents easily, however we weren’t so lucky in the last round. Chris had to mulligan to five and I got stuck at two lands for a few turns. Despite our bad starts we weren’t going down without a fight and we made that team work for their win by beating them down to one hit point before they finally drew a direct damage spell that dropped us.

What a great week for gaming! I won a bunch of packs, played a bunch of Magic, and met some great people. I don’t know of any other way I’d rather spend my days.

Andrew Longo has been playing Magic: The Gathering at a mediocre level since 1994. He managed to get lucky on the backs of his teammates to win Grand Prix Providence. When not playing Magic he runs a D&D campaign, plays video games, and reads comics (a real triple threat for the ladies).

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