By Garrett Gardner

Editor’s Note: We’re super excited to announce our first writer in the new, rotating Scrub Report. Meet Garrett Gardner, as he talks about life as a scrub below! Garrett, like each of our rotating authors, has written four amazing articles for us. If you’d like to write for Scrub Report, email [email protected].

This is part four of a four part series. Read part one herepart two here, and part three here.

My personal car pulls up to the front door of the Brooklyn card shop Twenty Sided Store. Flashing lights illuminate the storefront, and what seems to be a mass of paparazzi mash together with expensive cameras in hand. I step into the flurry of commotion and — er, no, wait, that’s just another NYC film crew making a lame TV sitcom next door.

Still, I made it to the Twenty Sided Store Limited Championships.

The top sixteen best and brightest Limited players in Brooklyn are facing off in two draft pods, the top four of each will proceed to a final single-elimination draft of Khans of Tarkir.

But rather than an in-depth breakdown of the now-rotated triple Khans format, let’s discuss tilt.

tilt – n. The process of becoming a salty bastard after mulliganing to 4 three games in a row.

Many people define tilt as being “off your game” after you get frustrated with a streak of bad luck: overflowing with land, missing your colors indefinitely, or getting completely blown out by some should-have-seen trick. There are ways to experience tilt with your negative state of mind, as well.

But there is another, more specific brand of tilt worth mentioning. Something I like to call Guilt Tilt.

Guilt Tilt

The draft table for the Champs is casual and friendly. Everyone is chummy with one another, which should be a relief. Despite that, I am incredibly nervous and suffering from Shaky Hand Syndrome. I manage to draft a decent Abzan warriors deck, with [casthaven]Siege Rhino[/casthaven], [casthaven]Raiders’ Spoils[/casthaven] and [casthaven]Abzan Guide[/casthaven].

I really, really like this card.

I really, really like this card.

Round one begins against a friendly guy whom I have played a few times before. He mulligans down to five, chooses to keep a one-lander with his aggressive, removal-heavy Mardu deck, and proceeds to be stuck on that single land for many turns in a row, eventually needing to discard. During this time, I play a [casthaven]Disowned Ancestor[/casthaven] into a [casthaven]Mardu Skullhunter[/casthaven]. My opponent is visibly frustrated by his bad luck and the variance of the game, sighing heavily while quickly draw-go’ing away his turns.

He’s looking defeated and clearly just wants the game to end. Out of some form of self inflicted guilt for wasting his time, I play lightning-fast. In this rapid, thoughtless play, I am completely overlooking the fact that I have drawn absolutely nothing besides lands. The single [casthaven]Throttle[/casthaven] in my opening hand is the only spell I have. Meanwhile, my opponent is stuck on land but has seven cards of gas and a graveyard full of delve-food.

Because of the distracting Guilt Tilt, I’ve only Outlasted my Ancestor once, rather than get it to two power so it will outclass my opponent’s potential two-drops and halve his clock. My only win conditions are already sitting on the table, and when my opponent finally gets a two-drop, I fire off my [casthaven]Throttle[/casthaven] just to get three more damage through.

Completely flawed, scrubby play.

As I should have expected, my opponent does eventually draw the lands he needs to remove my threats and establish his board. The game is completely turned around and I am on the brink of losing. Luckily, I snag the final points of damage with my [casthaven]Siege Rhino[/casthaven].

My hero.

My hero.

Looking back, I have suffered from Guilt Tilt many times. I often find myself feeling bad for frustrated opponents, because we’ve all been there and it completely sucks. Drawing too many lands, mulliganing down to four, getting stuck on mana… it’s all variance and part of the game. And it all sucks, too.

But Magic (and especially Khans), is an incredibly swingy game. Just because you are winning up front does not mean you have a game locked down. In fact, in the scenario above, an opponent is just drawing more and more powerful spells. If you flood, you will get completely screwed in the late game.

Maybe it sounds rude to take your time and play optimally when it is looking hopeless for your opponent. But that’s the game we play, and the variance that landed them in that spot can be the same variance that leads you to the same fate in the next game.

In round two, I play a blue/green tempo deck with more combat tricks than I can count. The games paddle back and forth with huge life swings, and my [casthaven]Abzan Guide[/casthaven] is worth its weight in gold by keeping me in the game. I eventually squeeze out a win with [casthaven]Roar of the Challenge[/casthaven]. In round three, I just need to draw to make top four in my pod.

Draft Two

Draft two is where I take all of the advice I’ve given throughout this series and throw it directly into the garbage. I begin the draft visibly shaky, focusing only on trying to place highly in this tournament. As a result, I misread signals, draft poorly, and force out another BW Warriors deck that wasn’t actually available.

I really, really like this card.

Did I mention I like this card?

My first round opponent is Hipster’s own Zach Barash. Zach is one of the first Twenty Sided patrons I got to know. He has always been very helpful with feedback and advice during my early, scrubbier days.

“You know, it’s great to call you a rival now,” he tells me.

I shoot him a quizzical look.

“I mean, you’ve come so far since you started. You were a beginner, and now you are a real threat.”

Friendship.

Friendship.

And then he wrecks me.

I pretty much have no chance. He has a weird 5-color morph-centric deck that is impossible to read, and my deck is no good to begin with. I have mana issues, get blown out by a few tricks I did not expect, and I’m just plain old dead.

But that’s Magic, right? Sometimes you just lose. Sometimes you work endlessly on improving, and your opponent beats you with [casthaven]Feed the Clan[/casthaven]. Sometimes you have a crazy powerful deck and never see a Plains, even though there are ten in your deck. And sometimes you build a scrubby deck and lose to a skilled player.

I grab a Journey into Nyx fat pack as my prize, and leave feeling a little more… and maybe a tiny bit less, scrubby.

Guess I still have a few things to learn.

Garrett Gardner is a scrub that lives in Brooklyn. Hooked since assembling Voltron heroes during Theros block, he intends on slowly scrubbing off the scrub until he becomes a Limited master.

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