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One Eye to the Past, One Eye to the Future

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Around this time of year, I like looking around the interwebs for “Best of the Year” lists and the like. I live a pretty hermetic life by necessity, so I often miss out on what’s going on in the outside world. I even looked at a “Most Overplayed Songs of the Year” list and only recognized one or two of them. New Year’s always puts me into an introspective mood, and I got to thinking about how 2013 went for me as far as the Magic part of my life is concerned. Last year was hardly the best one on record (that honor goes to 2011, when I was chaining Pro Tours), but it wasn’t terrible considering how little time I’m able to dedicate to being competitive these days. If you’ll forgive the indulgence, I thought I might go through some of the highlights.

Snapcaster Mage
I started things off with a top four finish at a Modern Pro Tour Qualifier in Detroit. I lost to my good friend Morgan in the semis, and he went on to lose in the finals. I barely did any playtesting at all for that tournament and picked up my deck the night before. That’s been something of my modus operandi since I went back to school, and as my buddy Kyle would say, I always seem to do well with the “flavor of the week.” Having a good deck and making fewer mistakes than your opponent certainly takes you far in this game, but there’s no substitute for actual preparation. I might have won that tournament had I actually been prepared. It was the only PTQ I Top 8’d that year, although I only played in five. I intentionally skipped an entire season since I couldn’t go to Pro Tour Theros. What’s funny to me is that I did nearly the exact same thing in 2012. I played in five PTQs, only Top 8’ing the first one, which was also Modern. At least I’m consistent.

Since I wasn’t playing in any PTQs over the summer, I had plenty of time to work on my pet project: The Full Ravnica Cube. I wrote a five-part series on putting my Cube together, and that was a lot of fun. I definitely put way more work into designing the Ravnica Cube than any other Cube project in the past. Since the Scars of Mirrodin block, I’ve been designing new Cubes every spring after the release of the last set of a block. It started with the Full Mirrodin Cube, which was a huge hit. I followed it up with the Innistrad Tribal Cube, and every year, I make a new Cube that’s inspired by the current block. My friend Ian gave me an idea with what to do with my next Cube project, which I’m tentatively calling the Devotion Cube. It’s going to include a bunch of cards that strongly incentivize you to be mono-colored. I’ll be looking to include the mono-colored hybrid mana cards from Shadowmoor like Spectral Procession. If nothing else, it’s going to give me an excuse to put in goofy cards like Jihad and Invoke Prejudice. I’ll have a better idea of what direction I’ll want to go with it once Theros block is revealed in its entirety.

Spectral Procession
I ended the year by doing decently at a couple Grands Prix. I hardly ever am able to play in GPs with my schedule, and it just so happened this year that there were two of them close to me that I could attend. I had quite the GP dry spell, having not made Day 2 at one since Columbus in 2010 and not having cashed since . . . well . . . Columbus 2007. Grand Prix Detroit went pretty well for me, although it marked the third time I barely missed qualifying for a Pro Tour in Valencia. Contrary to the recent past, I actually did a lot of preparation for that tournament, and it showed in my results. I had a sick run on Day 2, going 5–1, defeating such players as Patrick Chapin and Huey Jensen along the way. I only lost to player of the year Josh Utter-Leyton. It seems as though Modern is becoming my niche format, which surprises the heck out of me. Shortly after Pro Tour Philadelphia, I declared Modern to be the worst format of all time. I’ve definitely changed my tune since then to something along the lines of, “It’s not terrible for Constructed.” Still, I only ever play Modern when preparing for a big tournament, mostly ignoring it otherwise. I’m supposed to be a Limited specialist, remember?

I followed up Detroit with a ninety-ninth-place finish at Grand Prix Toronto. I guess I should be happy that I had back-to-back Day 2s, but my lackluster 3–3 performance in Draft left a bittersweet taste in my mouth. I partly blame the train wreck that was my second Draft, but the truth is that I haven’t had any real Limited results in the past two years, and that tells me that I really need to work on improving my game.

So, what’s next for 2014? I hate New Year’s resolutions. If you want to make a positive change in your life, you should do it right now and not wait for some arbitrary date. Still, that doesn’t mean I’m not going to set some sort of nebulous goals for myself over the next year. I’m going to be graduating from school (finally) around this time next year, so 2015 will be the first year in a while that I’ll be able to start making a serious effort to make it back on the Pro Tour. Getting my career as a professional Ferengi started will definitely be my first priority, as I have some pretty insane debts to pay. But once that’s taken care of, Big Nass will be back in action. This is what I’m looking to accomplish over the next year:

Win a PTQ

I’ve won two PTQs before—my other qualifications coming off of a Grand Prix and a Pro Tour. Both of my PTQ wins were due to having insane decks few people in the room were able to deal with. I have Gerry Thompson to thank for having access to the latest technology, but as he’s stepped away from competitive Magic in order to work for Wizards, I’ll need to find another way to gain an edge. Grand Prix Detroit was a recent tournament that I went out of my way to do a lot of playtesting for, and I was pleased with the improvement in my play. I’m going to continue that approach this year—as much as my schedule permits me to do so anyway—and I hope I’ll see the difference in my results. At the very least, I don’t want to Top 8 the first one and scrub out for the rest of the year.

Trade Secrets
Invoke Prejudice
Lightning Strike

Build a Sweet Devotion Cube

I had a ton of fun building the Full Ravnica Cube, and look forward to working on my next Cube project. To make the Cube as fun as possible, I’ll be discussing the concept whenever I can to hear other people’s ideas. I’m also going to think about what cards interact well with Theros block as more of it becomes released. Look for that to come out in April or May.

Draft Online More

I’ve identified that my Limited game has slipped considerably in the past couple of years. I’ve logged a ridiculously low number of hours on Magic Online over the past year, and that’s probably part of the reason. I’m not under any pressing urgency to do this right now since the Limited season just ended, but I really should be putting more time into honing my skills. If I happen to hit up any Limited Grands Prix this year, I’ll need to make sure I don’t crash and burn on Day 2 as I did in Toronto. I do spend a fair amount of time on my friend Vince’s stream, but making poop jokes in between discussing Draft picks and plays is hardly real practice. I need to spend less time goofing off on other people’s Drafts and more time drafting for myself.




Well, I hope you guys weren’t too bored with my self-indulgent introspection. Are you setting any goals for yourself for this year? Let me know in the comments.

Happy New Year and until next time,

Nassim Ketita

arcticninja on Magic Online

http://www.youtube.com/nketita


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