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Ali's Year in Review


Hello everyone. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday. The new year is right around the corner and after that we will have Ravnica Allegiance previews starting officially. Today I am going to be talking about some of the things that happened to me this year and my Magic goals and expectations for next year.

The start of this year was like any other. I usually only have time to construct one competitive brew when a new set comes out and I tune that brew until the next set comes out. This was mostly due to me not enjoying Magic Online and testing in paper, which took a lot longer than testing online. I was also in a relationship until around June and I had more responsibilities and less overall free time. Magic made me some money, but it was not great income, I was also working festivals. I would sell food on the weekends at festivals / carnivals as my main job and then do Magic on the side for some extra cash.

I had been streaming some MTG Arena for a little while but was not taking it too seriously. After my break up, I got depressed and just stopped streaming all together. I still played Magic from time to time, but I really was not in a good state to stream or even want to brew anything. Flash forward to October, MTG Arena was available to everyone and was getting a ton of praise. I got asked by Wizards of the Coast to do some special streams to promote the game when a new set came out. This revitalized me, and I decided to stream more after that.

I talked to friends about streaming and they all supported me and said I should do it. The biggest help I got was from best friend Justin Parnell and Jon Choi who helped me set things up and were just overall very motivational. Streaming was slow, I had a low viewer count and I did not know how to really increase it without just being consistent. So, I was consistent. I promised to stream on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday while streaming as much as possible in between those days. One day Jeff Hoogland sent me all his viewers after he was done streaming and that really helped in getting new eyeballs my way, but the numbers still weren't that high overall. Jeff gave me some advice which helped but what really kicked my stream into overdrive was Rainbow Lich.

I had been playing the deck on stream and it was getting some views, but bigger streamers started streaming the deck. While I was a little upset that those views weren't mine, when they gave me a shout out or people realized it was my deck, the viewers slowly began to trickle into my stream. What really started boosting numbers was when I won the SCG Classic with Rainbow Lich and the deck exploded. The same thing happened with Chromatic Black. I had been playing the deck forever on stream, but nobody really picked it up in paper. After I went undefeated with the deck and qualified for the $10,000 Cube draft tournament with Chromatic Black, the deck picked up in popularity and people started watching me stream it and other decks.

People started realizing that I make new brews and do well with them online and in paper. As numbers started to grow, I really wanted to try and pursue streaming full time and making Magic my main job. This leads into my goals for next year!

Goals for Next Year

I reached out to Coolstuffinc to see if they could help with this and what I could do in return. They came back with some exciting news. Next year I will be writing Deck Tech articles. These articles will be shorter overall, but they will mostly be unique or new decks. I will also be producing two gameplay videos every week: one with the deck that was in the deck tech and another of my choosing. So, essentially three pieces of content per week plus streaming. So, if you have wanted to stay up to date on my decks as they change, want to know how I sideboard, or how my decks play out, you can see it every week starting next year. The only weeks where I will not have videos will be when I'm doing a Standard Set Review when the newest Standard set is released.

By the end of next year, I want to be able to look back and confidently say, "I make a living off Magic." I've been playing this game for 15 years and could never really say that, but with MTG Arena, Coolstuffinc, and more opportunity thanks to Wizards of the Coast, I hope to be able to make that dream to fruition.

Looking back at this year, I also want to talk about the most competitive decks I made this year. I'm proud of these lists.

With Rivals of Ixalan came Mastermind's Acquisition. It was love at first sight, but I had no idea how much I would fall in love with this one card. I used to first as a toolbox engine and then later in multiple different combo decks. This was my first deck with Masterminds.

This was just a grindy deck that used Mastermind's as a bullet to answer opposing threats or to find a powerful win condition. It had a "lands matter" theme with Hour of Promise and all the deserts plus Arch of Orazca.

With Dominaria came another awesome card, The Mirari Conjecture. We made this beauty with that card.

The original list I had gotten from Gabriel Nassif. I ended up adopting the deck and editing it to make it more competitive and combat the meta. This was when I started realizing how Mastermind's Acquisition was a very powerful tool for combo decks in Standard. It allowed you to not have to play your awful combo piece main deck and just grab it whenever you were ready and if you weren't ready you could grab the best card for your situation.

After Dominaria, Guilds of Ravnica came out. When I saw Chance for Glory, I really wanted to make it into a combo deck and the only way to not lose after casting Chance for Glory was with Lich's Mastery. Thus, Rainbow Lich was born.

Golgari was everywhere and the best deck in the format. Izzet Drakes was not a deck and Jeskai Control was rarely played. This made Rainbow Lich a very competitive deck in that metagame as Golgari, Selesnya Midrange, and even Mono-Red were all overall good matchups for Rainbow Lich.

As Rainbow Lich became a known entity and with the increase in popularity of Izzet Drakes and Jeskai, Rainbow Lich was a fun deck but no longer a very competitive deck. So, I started brewing around Chromatic Lantern. I build a Mono-Black deck that used Chromatic Lantern to cast Niv-Mizzet as a joke on stream, but it ended up being pretty good and kept on winning. This is where we ended with Chromatic Black.

This was probably the second most popular deck after Rainbow Lich. Popular streamers streamed the deck and then I won an event with it which made it skyrocket in popularity. This deck is currently more competitive than Rainbow Lich in Standard.

These other two decks are ones we made on stream. I would play either at a big Standard event I just haven't traveled to as many events this month.

Boros Prison is a deck that locks the opponent out of the game by blowing up their lands and not allowing the opponent to cast spells. Haphazard Bombardment is the best way to do this, but you also have Star of Extinction and Memorial to War + Crucible of Worlds. You then win with Dawn of Hope, Fight with Fire, and/or Memorial to Glory + Crucible of Worlds. Though opponents tend to concede since the writing is on the wall when they have no lands on the battlefield.

The last big deck we've been playing is the Four-Color Omniscience deck.

This is by far the most fun deck to play for me in current Standard. It's a combo deck that wins the same turn you play Omniscience. You draw a ton of cards with Overflowing Insight and Mastermind's Acquisition. You eventually Mastermind's Acquisition for Thousand-Year Storm and win via decking your opponent with storm copies of Overflowing Insight or you cast Mastermind's Acquisition again to grab Inescapable Blaze and burn your opponent out. You can also blow up all your opponents lands with Star of Extinction copied an absurd number of times.

These are not even all the decks I've brewed up, just the best ones. If you noticed, three in a row came out after Guilds of Ravnica. This is because I was streaming more thanks to MTG Arena and the awesome cards Wizards of the Coast printed. I'm nervous about next year but I am excited to try and make my main source of income from Magic. I am really going to try and hit this goal as it would be a dream come true. Make sure to be on the lookout for Deck Tech articles and video articles next year. You can also follow my Twitch channel to see me brew and play these decks in real time.

As always, thank you for reading. Let me know some of your goals in the comment section!

Ali Aintrazi

Follow me @AliEldrazi

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