Power and Toughness is going to be replaced by Arting Around next week. I haven’t been playing enough Magic to justify writing about it once a week. I started Power and Toughness when I was equipping Birds of Paradise with Sword of War and Peace. It kept going through Unburial Rites‘ing Angel of Serenetys. Here and there I’d have a Twenty Sided Store, PTQ, or GP tournament report. Sometimes I’d just make shit up. Anyway, there’s nothing much for me to write about Magic strategy, and I don’t go to enough tournaments to consistently write tournament reports. Do people even like tournament reports? I’m not sure I do.

Inverted score sheet from an FNM match with John Fung circa two years ago.

Inverted score sheet from an FNM match with John Fung circa two years ago.

Anyway, opinions are like assholes, or whatever, and my opinion on any given format means less and less as I play less and less competitive Magic. My love of art and, especially relevant to this weblog, fantasy illustration continues to expand. I’ll be asking Magic illustrators three questions, one at a time, via email, and post them in Arting Around articles. So far the response from the artists has been great and I’m looking forward to sharing them with you.


Hunter “Rolex” Slaton and I got to meet Suzanne Summers in Las Vegas.

Shifting topics completely, Grand Prix Vegas was a lot of fun. I dropped round one from a sealed qualifier with a hard-to-build pool that I built poorly. The second qualifier served me a more linear pool and I made a better deck. I had a bye round one because of the number of players who drop because value is more important than playing. Round two I wasn’t on the pairings board, talked to the judge, the re-added me, and awarded me another bye. Round three I smashed a mostly mana screwed guy and gave him the win because Kadar and I needed to get some sushi with our buddy Dave (not McNastyLULZ). Watching my opponent go from super bummed to super stoked was fun. I should scoop to people all the time. They’ll just smile smile smile. That’d be an interesting project, maybe. It was a fun deck I only got to play with for one match.


Kadar took a photo of me looking out the window of your Westgate Spaceship.

Grand Prix Vegas is the last GP that gives me two byes from my previous year’s performance. Here on out I’ll have one bye at most and probably none in the future. I can’t imagine playing enough Magic to get byes. It’s a sort of sad reminder of how important playing used to be for me and how that relationship has evolved over the last year.


The pool I received at 11:30am wasn’t the best, wasn’t the worst. I built a GWr deck with two Mirror Entity. It was sweet when it worked. It was a bummer when people killed all my little guys and I never drew Mirror Entity. Round three I titled after flooding game one (hard) on an opponent mull to five, and a game two draw and play only white lands while drawing only green spells bloodbath. Pretty sure I said to Kadar, “I waited four fucking hours to lose two games to flood and color screw?!” I almost dropped to go to Jon’s house and swim. Figured giving it another round would be fine, maybe I’d calm down.

Just before the round four I experienced some personal drama that absorbed most of my energy. The matches became an unfocused respite from working very hard mentally and emotionally. I started having fun playing Magic because there were no stakes, none that mattered. The personal stuff I was engaged in was much more important than being able to cast the green spells in my hand despite not having green mana. Everything in my matches started to flow and I started to win. I never thought I was out of any game from that point on. The fog of life was thick and meaningful and didn’t apply to these imaginary spells powered by cardboard. The game seemed simple and fun. I ended the day at 6-3, one loss too many for day two. I had fun every match after the third round. No game was unwinable, all of my opponents were lovely (or at least not jackasses), and I managed to find a salad bar so I didn’t have to eat total shit for lunch. Monkeying around with Sam and Kadar between rounds made the whole GP for me.

Here are some Magic moments I participated in during GPVegas:

1. I watched as Kadar made his first day two after a 5-0 run to finish day one. I couldn’t be prouder.


2. It’s really fun to haggle with a dealer on behalf of Li Xu while texting Li the various values and availabilities of foil blue cards a vendor has available and waiting for answers and offers. You end up spending around $600 but the joy I gave the saltiest man I know is pricesless

3. I bought a Bryon Wackwitz painting from Legend of the Five Rings. He’s one of the original Magic artists and I love his work ‘cuz it’s weird and different than what we’re now used to. It’s less polished. He’s a quirky funny dude, too. It’s always good to shoot the shit with him about his drawings and paintings. They’re still pretty inexpensive. I like his sketches best (but he didn’t have many on him).

4. Round eight I was on the turn 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 receiving end of: Remand, foil Remand, Mana Leak, Plummet, and Hurkyll’s Recall. I won games two and three with Mirror Entity, but that game one was ROUGH.

5. Round six I beat my opponent game one with Mirror Entity. Game two he smoked me (I didn’t play especially well). Game three we were in a flood war and his threats ended up in better sequence after he’d already gotten my life total super low. I had foil Mirror Entity in play and drew Mirror Entity. He had me next turn so I played Mirror Entity and he laughed. “I thought I was going crazy! I knew your first Mirror Entity wasn’t foil! HA!” Then he beat me. Bastard.

6. Sam shared the location of the Quiznos hidden in the back corner of the convention center. It had no line and the food was better than all other onsite options. I shared hidden Quiznos with Kadar later in the day. It was probably the chief reason he made day two. Or maybe it was the chef reason he made day two.

7. Sometimes scheduled events playmats are better than main event playmats.


(This one is good. I don’t even really like the updated card art but it looks f’ing sweet as a playmat and deckbox.)


(This one is horrible. There’s no relationship between the “Welcome to Las Vegas” photograph, the graphic design shapes, the background color, and the shitty robot art.)

8. Mirror Entity is really good. Two Mirror Entitys are good, too, but not at the same time. Eldrazi Spawn and Soldier Tokens are awesome with Mirror Entity.

9. If Mirror Entity plus tokens is your only strategy and you can’t get it together you probably aren’t going to win and that’s ok because sometimes you have only one plan and it can’t work all the time.

10. Always ask your friends their opinions about your sealed decks. They’re all smarter than you, the close ones, and usually super helpful without douchey judgey speech.


11. Always go to GPs with your friends, especially your best friend because that’s what it’s all about.

Matt Jones (born 1980, Rochester, New York) is an artist living and working in Brooklyn, NY. He’s taken some time off from the game, focusing on his art practice, but continues to obsess with the mythology and art of Magic: The Gathering. As he plays less Magic his articles have become more about imagination and less about strategy. Next week he re-boots the HOTC column Arting Aroung.

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