I want to share two interesting stories about limited Magic: The Gathering this week.

Story 1

A couple of weeks ago, I played in a sealed PPTQ. Of course, in round one I get paired up against a pro player. I have to be honest, aside from a handful of pros and most of the local grinders, I’m terrible with other Magic Players’ faces. Tell me about a play and I might know who made it. Show me face and I couldn’t match it to the name most of the time. Magic puts me visually in a different mindset.

I say all that to say this: until match slips came I had no idea I was playing a pro player. Not that it matters too much. Aside from the lesson I’m about to impart here, there is no other relevance for me when playing a pro. I got over being nervous about playing Magic as a teenager. I would say I’m nihilistic during play but that I’m not emotionally invested to the point that it affects me negatively. They won the match in 3 close games.

I want to focus on the game he lost, naturally. I had the kill on-board next turn. We were both out of cards and they started their turn. They draw and tank. This goes on for what I would have considered too long. Like six minutes. I almost called a judge. Maybe I should have, but that’s not my style. I know what’s going on. After blocks, if they drew a blank, I’ll be at -1. I’ll be dead, if I don’t activate my Ondu War Priest.

Are they trying to Jedi Mind Trick me? Maybe. I have no idea. But after about three minutes I stop worrying that they have it. If they did then they would have gone for the win. The board is not that complex. There are five attackers on their side and I have two blockers and an empty hand. They’re not playing around anything. I decide to let it go. I’ve got this marked as a win already and they’re hoping I forget that I can activate for two life. That’s not gonna happen. Though, it’s a fair assessment since I had forgotten to activate it several turns ago.

Eventually they swing, I block, I gain two, and I get the scoop.

I laugh, “It was worth a shot.”

Pro respondes, “Did you expect me to scoop?”

“Nope, that’s why I said it was worth a shot.”

They win the next two games.

We shake hands and go on to the next match.

What Did I Learn?

Well first thing is that no one who has the win tanks for six minutes. That’s just waaaaay too long to tank in the first game if you plan on winning, unless you had a very long game one and there’s six minutes on the clock (which is also shady as shit).

Pro players try to not give up if they have any outs. Short of me conceding, they scoop after there are no other option.

This is a grinder-move. Not a pro-move. A pro is gonna see the writing on the wall, realize it’s insane to waste six minutes on a lark and move to the next game, saving that time for his future wins. A grinder scraps together as many non-zero chances he can to try to cobble together a win from a loss. Neither is objectively worse than the other, but I respect the pro path much more.

At the end of the day, that’s what I gleaned from six minutes of fake counting and pretending to re-read a basic land. This pro needs to step up their theater game.

Story 2

Last Monday I did a team draft with some friends. Pack 1: Oath of the Gatewatch. I open Goblin Dark Dwellers. I’m about to windmill slam that when I see Nissa as my next card.

“Oh!” I think, “Goblin Dark Dwellers must be foil.” Nope. Weird. The next card is Chandra.

“Whoa whoa!” Hugh Kramer, who supplied the packs had a similar situation. We decide to put these aside and open new packs. THE SAME THING OCCURS!

Well, fuck it. Let’s draft. Hugh is pretty excited as there are 27 more packs at home. These were the rares from the draft.

I drafted a pretty slick BW ally deck. I had Ayli, March, and plenty of synergy. I liked the deck a lot, but I lost 2/3 of my rounds. Part of that was flooding, the other part was that playing against mythic rares is hard. I built the best common/uncommon deck I could. Hugh built the best mythic rare deck he could. Turns out that was a pretty smart plan.

We had stopped drafting Oath/Oath/Battle and started drafting a new set where rares and mythics replaced the uncommons. Hugh basically beat me in Cube draft. That’s how I should have looked at it.

When he got home Hugh open the rest of the box: it’s pretty nuts.



Zac Clark is the Founder of Hipsters of the Coast. An avid gamer since his early teens, Zac can often be found in Brooklyn either playing games or taking photos. When he’s not drawing extra cards, wrathing boards and countering spells, he’s taking pictures of other peoples good times and listening to 90’s Music.

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