It’s around 4:00, and round 4 of the Sealed PPTQ at Comic Book Depot in Wantagh is coming to a close. I feel absolutely demoralized.

PPTQ Sealed Deck

I’d started the day off with the strongest sealed pool I’ve had in a Shadows tournament. I felt like one of the best players in the room. I’d rattled off a quick 2-0 and was one game away from winning into the handshake bracket and the top 8.

I lost that game. The next game, I mulliganed to five, and failed to find a land until too late. The following round, my opponent mulliganed to five and curved out perfectly, destroying me in a close race. My subsequent mulligans weren’t as kind. I was 2-2, and both opponents who defeated me were kind, expecting to see me in the Top 8 alongside them. I smiled and hoped they were right.

I sat down to write out my frustrations and refocus myself for my third and final chance to make the top 8. I really, really wanted to get back to the RPTQ. In round five, I read my opponent correctly, got them to walk into combat and onboard tricks, and was nevertheless overpowered by Archangel Avacyn as soon as my opponent could cast her.

Path of Peace

I was less than enthusiastic as I began my two mile walk of shame back to the Wantagh train station. I’d squandered three opportunities to make the top eight and draft, a form of Limited I’m far better at. By the time I got home, my Chromebook had died, taking everything I’d written with it. All in all, it was a less than stellar day.

Number Crunch

I gave it some time (I did have a nice, long walk on a gorgeous day, after all) and calmed down. I could’ve written about being frustrated, or being indignant, or feeling like I’d deserved something (spoilers: no one deserves to win). The truth is, you need luck to succeed, and I had a mix of it; I got lucky with my pool, but mulliganed most games and drew less than average about half the time.

That said, some factors are always under one’s control, and I definitely made some mistakes. I put Nahiri’s Machinations in my deck, even though it has consistently underperformed—almost certainly my biggest mistake of the tournament. I missed a clue trigger and a werewolf trigger—and those are just the triggers I noticed missing, though hopefully there weren’t (many) others. The former didn’t affect the game (I won that game without cracking all of my clues) and the latter likely didn’t matter (I was losing that game pretty badly already, but a Branded Howler might have bought me one more draw step). It’s essential, both when one does well and one falls short of one’s expectations, to reflect on where one can improve and grow from the experience. You can’t control variance, but you can control everything else.

Great Aurora

Other than the PPTQ, the rest of the weekend went pretty well. I went home and ground Lorwyn-Lorwyn-Morningtide drafts on Magic Online. Kithkin treated me pretty well, and I was 9-0 by the end of it all. Eternal Masters proved to be an exciting format with a whole wealth of possibilities that I’m sad I won’t be able to explore much more (because it’s crazy expensive and there is no major tournament to justify the cost of preparing for). Still, I managed to X-1 all of my drafts (so, there’s room for improvement).

Submitted below for your enjoyment are all six decks from the weekend. Wu Kithkin, Monowhite Kithkin, RW Control from idyllic Lorwyn, and 4-color Monoblue control, BG Elves, and BGu Value Reanimator from Eternal Masters. Hopefully they’ll give you some insight in the last day of LLM drafts (Kithkin are awesome and Wizened Cenn and Knight of Meadowgrain go way too late) and when Eternal Masters goes online.

And as always, thanks for reading!
LLM Deck 1LLM Deck 2LLM Deck 3EMA Draft 1EMA Draft 2EMA Draft 3

—Zachary Barash

Zachary Barash has been playing Magic on and off since 1994. He loves Limited and drafts every available format (including several that aren’t entirely meant to be drafted). He’s a proud Cube owner, improviser, and game designer (currently going for an MFA in Game Design at NYU). He has an obsession with Indian food that borders on being unhealthy.

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