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I figured with ample time, I'd be able to break legacy and bought tickets to Philly, before they got too expensive, so that I could attend the first Legacy Grand Prix ever.   Philly, PA - November 12th, 2005
A feature match pic with Eugene in the back
==> Click here for WotC's coverage.
I was leaning towards playing a FlameVault deck, but was worried about losing to control and didn't find any tech in time to play it, so I ended up playing goblins. I was concerned about the hate, but hoped my 2 byes would get me past bad decks bent on beating goblins. I shared a room with Nick Trudeau, Joe Lossett, Lucas Michaels, Zack Hall and Eugene Levin. I was talked into squeezing in a Kiki-Jiki and that was that... I played Goblins, and scrubbed out. I had 2 byes, a win against RGSA splashing black, a loss to Landstill piloted by Alex Lieberman (who placed 10th), a win against some RDW-like concoction with Kird Ape, a loss to FlameVault played by Rich Shay (who placed 20th) and finally, I bombed against... Elves. Seriously. I dropped in shame.

I flew all the way to Philly to go 4-3, placing 185th out of 495. But on the bright side, I learned a few things and met some cool folks. I even ran into Christiaan Royer, who I knew from Cali. I had a good time overall, despite poor performance in the event and picking up some illness for a miserable flight home. Aside from the folks in my room, I got to see which pros were really cool, like Rich Shay, Michael Pustilnik, Antonino De Rosa and Chris McDaniels... and then, well, there were plenty of asshats, but I'll leave those up to your imagination.

I watched some guy teaching Levin backgammon, only to find out he was Mikey P. He sat down and gave me a lesson as well, and I felt quite honored. Man, I wish I had a little more skill at magic and the money to go flying around to all the stateside GPs. I'd love to be a day 2 fixture on the GP circuit, hanging out with these guys. Most people don't make sense to me, but these folks do... they're smart, competitve and quite into magic.

So anyway, on day 2, I thought I might go see some of Philadelphia, but I felt it my duty to hook Nick up with some scouting, as I'd want the same help. I had the field down by round 2 and I hooked him up large. Each round I'd walk up and spit out something like "Table 20, Osyp, Affinity". I also shared some of that with Keith McLaughlin, the one guy playing Life, who was pretty cool, and John Sonne, since he was scouting as well.

Between rounds I'd check out how Lucas was doing in a PTQ. We mutilated my Goblin deck into a bad extended deck so he'd have something to do and suprisingly, he started off doing quite well. A few rounds in, he ran into Balancing Tings and pulled one of the most jacked up, out of left field, brutal plays ever: He plays a turn 2 Blood Moon off a Chrome Mox in game one. Needless to say, his opponent scooped. He followed that up with a loss and would've lost the match if I hadn't started waving about when the Tings player played a tap-land untapped under Blood Moon. Unfortunately for his opponent, it was needed that turn, to cast Obliterate for the win.

Billings, MT - July 9th, 2005
PTQ at the Splash Page


drove over to Billings for a PTQ, with a pitstop in Helena.
I barely missed winning, coming in 3rd out of 27. Check out the top 8:
After PT Philly, I was leaning towards Gifts Control, but after extensive solo testing in Apprentice, I decided to switch to White Weenie. After much driving (about 6 hours to Helena and 3.5 to Billings) I made it, surveying the small tournament to be with a glimmer of hope. And as the tournament wore on, that glimmer got brighter and brighter. In fact, I smoked through the first 4 rounds.
The first match was Ogre/Demon black, which proved easy, as it did in testing (2-0). Next came a mirror, which happened to go my way... just pulling in 2-0 as I scraped my way out of what looked like a sure loss in the 2nd game. Next was an RG deck (2-0) which I didn't see much of aside from Kumano (quite a beatstick, that fellow). In round 4, I played a deck similar to the 1st place deck. I had a great hand in the first game and an opening hand with 3 Pithing Needles for the next (2-0). Thor and I drew in the last round and I was the top seed going into the top 8. The first match was against Gifts Control (2-0), which I had brutal hands against. The second game went like so: 1st turn Isamaru, 2nd turn swing and cast Jitte, 3rd turn equip, swing and cast Pithing Needle for Sakura, Tribe Elder, 4th turn swing and cast Hokori. Pretty messed up, no? Finally, I started the semi-finals off with a solid win... then I let the 2nd game slip... and finally, a bad hand and draws put an end to what will likely be the closest I get to qualifying for any pro tour in the immediate future. Oh well, that's what I get for being sucky at Magic.

S hawn got a tip on some public land where we could go shoot for free. More importantly, we could shoot any targets of our choice with any firearms.   Cheney, WA - June 25th, 2005
Unlike the indoor range we went to earlier in the year, we could step up from handgun and rimfire to larger rifles and shotguns. That, and we had an assortment of non-paper targets. It was some fun. Of course, this was more recon than anything, so now that we know what we're in for, we'll be stocking up for much more interesting targets and doing some ballistics 'tests'. That, and I'll be sure to have more ammo next time.

Spokane, WA - April 11th, 2005
View from my bedroom window!


was reading Mike Meyer's A+ Certification book this afternoon and heard a pop. It almost sounded like someone bumped up against my wall. I looked out my window and was shocked to see fire coming out of the basement window/subfloor access right next door.
I called 911 and as I was on the phone, licks of flame became visible through the window. Only a minute or two after first hearing that pop, I took this picture and as you can clearly see, it was really going. I stood inside and watched it for a minute or two. I was so freaked out, I dialed 911 again, only to hangup immediately as I heard a fire engine roll up. By then, smoke began billowing out and shortly thereafter, the firemen put most of it out in a hurry. Pretty freaky, I tell you.
The part that really scared me is that I had this gut feeling that it was arson. I'm thinking it's either that, or some sort of meth lab accident. Seriously, these are some awfully shady folks I have next door. And I had just seen them leaving maybe 20-30 minutes before. I just can't imagine a fire getting out of control like that in such a short time. Fires don't just come out of nowhere. Life isn't like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

U sually, I avoid unsanctioned tournaments, but I like to sample different metas whenever I do any travelling, so I stopped by Rainy Day Games while in Portland.   Portland, Oregon - April 5th, 2005
Rainy Day Games
Portland has absolutely no sanctioned vintage, legacy or extended play, but I wasn't about to play standard or any kind of limited, so I settled for what extended I could get. I asked the store clerk/owner why they didn't sanction the tourney and the answer: to avoid unnecessary work. Yeah... must be real hard to go to WotC's site and forecast a tournament. In addition to hating on sanctioned play, the guy bagged on vintage as a turn 1 win format, citing that no local players like the format besides the 'fact' and their tournaments reflect player demand.
Yeah. I'm sure players demand non-sanctioned, single elimination tournaments. And while interest in older formats is sometimes lacking, I often feel that store owners simply don't like the format for the same reasons that WotC doesn't care much about the format: it's not the short term money maker that block, standard and limited are. Meanwhile, they lose business with people quitting magic because it costs entirely too much.

Anyway, I won the tournament with Gobbos. The tournament was basically casual players. Imagine that.

Spokane, WA - March 12th, 2005
Jon winning a game against Graeme with... ProsBloom?
I 've been to Merlyn's a few times before for Standard and a few Vintage tourneys, but this is the first time I remembered to take some pics. Merlyn's is no Getaway Games, but with GG gone, it's the best Spokane has now.
Long story short: Trinisphere is certainly broken. I played it last week with much devestation and this week was no different. Dropping Trini on turn one is such a bomb. I can see why it's being restricted. I'm just glad I saw it coming this time instead of the usual surprise restriction/banning.

Also worth noting, I took a UW Scepter deck to Couer d'Alene last week for extended and it was a total disaster. My advice: Don't bother with UW. If you're into control, try Tog or Fish, I guess.

T ime for some serious magic! I had been planning on attending GP Seattle since December, and despite all my planning, I did pretty poorly. But in the process, I learned much, so all is not lost. Seattle, WA - March 5/6th, 2005
GP Seattle (Max McCall vs John Ripley in front)
==> Click here for WotC's coverage.
Back in December, I started working on the format. I immediately took a liking to RDW, but as I continued testing, I kept wanting to tweak Life into something better. I kept trying to work in black or even the Cephalid Breakfast combo, but it didn't seem to be working out as well as I wanted it to. Eventually, GP Boston happened and when I saw "Cepha-Life" make 2nd, I decided it was worth playing at the GP Trial to be had locally. I took it to Gamequest and went 2-2-1 with it. Ugh. I lost to RDW and Desire. RDW wrecked my manabase and the Desire matchup was just awful. Snap, Brain Freeze, Intuition and Deep Analysis? There were just too many angles of hate for me, and I felt Desire would be popular at the GP.

The other deck I liked a lot was UW Scepter, but losing to aggro was no good, so when I saw and tested Scepter Confinement, I really liked it. Aggro matchups went from nearly autoloss to basically autowin. I did some testing on the side with Rob Draggoo and Goblins looked pretty strong, too. So my plan became: Play UW in the GPT in Seattle and if it does poorly, play Goblins. In January, I put out flyers for my plan of a GP Seattle road trip, and I finally got some takers shortly before the GP. So, myself, Rob Draggoo, Paul McInnis and Brian Reynolds all set out for Seattle on Friday morning with high hopes of some magic winnings (without really expecting any).

We arrived with plenty of time for the GPT, disappointed by Cascade Games' bait and switch advertising for the cost and start time. Anyway, I did quite lousy: 3-3, dropping before the last round. I won against Desire, RG Gobbos and RDW (aggro proved to be delightfully easy) and I lost to Desire, Aluren and Solution. I felt that the deck was immensely strong, but with the event ending at 2am, I didn't have the time or expertise available to tweak the deck into something playable for the GP. If I had to start anew from Decemeber, I'd work UW.
Shuuhei Nakamura vs Ryan Cimera (with Osyp on the sidelines) Last minute decision: I decided to play Affinity. Anyway, day 1 was all about miracle hands. I played pretty well, but my 6-2 record for Day 1 was mostly luck. After my bye, I played Madness and had some fairly typical broken Affinity action going on, but the real luck and brokeness came out for the next 2 matches. I played Tog and had triple Frogmite out on turn 2 for the first game and Frogmite + Enforcer on turn 2 for the third game. Then I was able to Fling two massive Atogs rather quickly for my next matchup (mirror match). Next I ran into a Rock deck and the tables were turned. I got the guy down to less than 3 life in both games, but he kept topdecking answers. To top it off, he had a splash of blue and an Energy Flux from the side for game 2.
Next came the not so lucky mirror. This came down to topdecking and he managed to hit paydirt first. Then came the luckiest windfall of all: a free win. My opponent sat in the wrong seat and the guy who was supposed to sit there sat in his seat since he was running a bit late and the seat across from me was the only open one. In the final round of Day 1, I played a loooong game against Tog and pulled it off in extra turns. No Rebuild in side = I win.

The rest of the crew had scrubbed out a bit early, lacking my good fortune, but some other Spokanites did well. Dan Hanson, Adam Kret (pseudo-Spokanite) and Sam Swanson all made it to Day 2. Adam was in 8th place going into Day 2 (which made me feel considerably less bad about my GPT loss to him). I was pretty stoked, especially when they had us fill out tax forms in case we hit money. Unfortunately, this is where I decided to bomb the event. I played terribly and the deck didn't do much other than pull a win against Kenji Tsumura, despite a brutal play error that lost me the first game. I placed 58th out of 389.

Adam Kret (who beat me at the Spokane GPT and did the same to Masashi Oiso also playing Cepha-Life) made 19th and Dan Hanson came in 20th. Unfortunately, me and my travel crew came home empty handed in the prize department. After a long, stressful weekend, I was more than happy to arrive home Sunday night.

I f losing helps me learn, then I guess I learned plenty tonight. Today's magic lesson: Never, ever make changes to a deck without extensively testing them first.   Cour d'Alene, Idaho - January 30th, 2005
Gamer's Haven again
I hadn't planned on going to this extended tourney, but around 3 o'clock I looked at the time and thought, what the hell? So I had 3 extended decks built... Affinity, Life and RDW. Since I hadn't actually played RDW, that's what I really wanted to try. Since I figured the meta to be mostly heavy aggro with at least one Life deck, I made some drastic changes: Ensnaring Bridge in the main, 4 each Sulfuric Vortex and Cursed Totem in the side. For this, I went 2-2, losing to RDW and Mono-Red Goblins.
Oh and, on a completely unrelated note: I made this Zelda Outlands 2nd quest map. Yes, I have no life.
Cour d'Alene, Idaho - January 2nd, 2005
I have no idea who these folks are. It's hard to get a decent wide shot in this store...
S ince Type 1 and 1.x died off in Spokane, I had to look for another place to play. With GP Seattle coming up, I really want to play extended, so I looked beyond city limits.
I found some nice extended action at Gamer's Haven, and some weeks ago took a Canali-like Affinity build and managed to win, despite numerous play errors (just like Pierre!). Then last week's tourney dried up, likely due to it being held the day after Christmas. But this week, extended was up and kicking and I decided to take Life, since I figured the locals probably wouldn't pack any combo decks to mess with me, or well... anything with Cranial Extraction.
I was right on both accounts, but still lost. I let a local, Rob, borrow my RDW, since RDW is usually a bye for Life, and proceeded to lose to it in a bizarre turn of events. Ports, Pillage and Wasteland kept me locked down, while burn whittled me to death. I've playtested the matchup many times over and couldn't believe I'd lost such an easy matchup. But, this can be attributed to a few factors: 1. I had some wretched hands and had to mulligan to 5 in the two games I lost. 2. He drew into a boatload of land hating cards which did little to help my poor hands. I basically lost both games to Rishadan Port. I have now played this deck in 4 tourneys and have not won a single one with it. The deck does so well in apprentice playtesting... I just don't get it.

Copyright 2005 Coastal Dragon. All rights reserved.
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