Planeswalker Points, a replacement for the DCI and its Elo system, dropped on Tuesday. Lots of people took to Twitter and had very interesting things to say.
For FNM this week, I decided to play that Tempered Steel list that came in second at GP: Pittsburgh.
4 Glint Hawk
3 Porcelain Legionnaire
4 Signal Pest
4 Steel Overseer
4 Vault Skirge
4 Tempered Steel
3 Glint Hawk Idol
4 Mox Opal
3 Contested War Zone
4 Inkmoth Nexus
4 Kor Firewalker
2 Refraction Trap
4 Shrine of Loyal Legions
At first pass, the list looked very much like a random Euro got very lucky to make Top 8 at all, let alone come in second place overall. I guess I just hate this deck without Preordain in it, but whatever. It’s what I was to roll with.
My FNM actually started on Thursday night at about seven o’clock at night, after my classes were done for the day. That’s when I left for PT: Philly. On the way, I called Trick to see if maybe I could get out FNM this week; maybe I could write about the complexities of playing a box tournament versus playing in an FNM instead. Trick did not go for this.
I got to where I’d be staying for the weekend, my buddy Brad’s in Atlantic City, at about midnight, and, completely tweaked on Red Bull, immediately made him play Commander against me. This is exactly the part where his wife went to bed to leave her husband to the jackals, so to speak.
Brad yawned. I asked if he was tired. He just glared at me. After a long pause, he asked if I’d like something to drink.
“Uh . . . yes. Preferably a depressant of some kind.”
He brought me some pumpkin beer, and I downed it while kicking his ass with my friend’s foiled-out Maga, Traitor to Mortals deck. The deck is fueled by lots of tutors, Cabal Coffers, Vesuva, Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, and Deserted Temple, as well as fun things like Terrain Generator and Petrified Field. A Shred Memory transmuted for Black Sun’s Zenith, Consume Spirit, Mind Shatter, and the never-endearing Exsanguinate. The deck is awesome.
After about an hour of this, Brad wanted to go to bed for some reason. Fine with me, I guess. I was asleep as soon as I hit the pillow.
He’s right, you know.
On Friday, I woke up with a shooting pain in my back. I couldn’t even take a full breath, let alone move. I hobbled downstairs, popped three Advil, and contemplated existence. I was to go to the Pro Tour, hang out for a bit, and come back to New Jersey for an FNM. I was to play a deck I hated very much, but would probably be easy to play, which was fine with me. I don’t love playing control decks.
I made Brad’s wife walk on my back, and that felt a little better. The she offered me some Vicodin that she had for shoulder surgery or something. I accepted it, and shortly after that she mentioned that it was expired. I assured her it was “all good,” my girlfriend was a quality-assurance supervisor at her job, and that “they overshoot these things all the time.”
I rode to Pennsylvania with the seat reclined all the way back, wondering why my back picked today of all days to throw itself out. I was supposed to meet lots of Internet people in real life today, and I couldn’t even think straight.
Brad told me about an awesome idea he had for a play mat: You get a plain white play mat, and you get a picture of a scalped head drawn on it. Every time you beat someone Level 3 or higher in the Pro Player’s Club, you have them sign the mat.
Sometimes, it’s hard not to be reactionary. It’s a lot harder to see something like this and not think that something is a little fucked in Denmark.
I met up with Trick and Drew Sitte, and after apologizing profusely for ruining Drew’s cards, I settled in for some Vicodin-fueled Commander games. In a game of Brad, Trick, Drew, and me, Trick resolved a Goblin Recruiter, but every single Goblin he searched ended up dying to my board-sweepers. Once reality hit, he started ensuring his survival by doing things like not hitting my Cabal Coffers with land-destruction spells. Drew’s Intet, the Dreamer deck put up a decent fight, but a big ol’ Exsanguinate won out, as it is wont to do.
Is this a reasonable critique of the new point system? I guess the time’s finally come for some analysis of the whole thing. Here are some facts: The only Level 50s are Shuuhei Nakamura, Raphael Levy, Bram Snepvangers, and the brothers Ruel. Gerard Fabiano is sixth in the world, four spots above Gabriel Nassif, seven spots above Kai Budde, and fifty-four (!!!!!) spots above Jon Finkel, who, if you’re a math major, doesn’t even crack the top fifty. It’s like if Football Outsiders stopped using DVOA, a metric that takes into account strength of opponent (the acronym actually stands for Defense-adjusted Value Over Average), and just started over with a new metric that awarded the same number of points to opponents for wins, with mutipliers for not just playoff games, but retarded shit like appearing on Monday Night Football. This list takes everything we’ve ever known about Magic and shits in its eyes, in its ears, and down its throat.
Brad’s a math professor in Jersey, and he had to be back in Atlantic City in time for a math shindig at 5:00. I wanted to come, but Brad mentioned something about “being a massive embarrassment” or something. To be honest, I wasn’t really paying attention. My buddy Carlo picked me up from his place for FNM and we headed to our FNM venue, aptly named the “Comic Book Store.”
After digging through their commons boxes for what seemed like hours (actual elapsed time, less than five minutes), I couldn’t find the one Shrine of Loyal Legions I needed to finish up my seventy-five. Luckily, someone I had never met before (I do not reside in South Jersey, and thus knew maybe three people at their twenty-six-man FNM) had one that I could borrow.
The FNM was to be five rounds, with prizes going to Top 8. Did I mention there were twenty-six people?
Round 1, I played against some dude in a fitted hat with Valakut, thus proving something that everyone should already know: White people in fitted hats are the worst. Honestly, who plays Valakut at an FNM?
I lost. He mulliganed Games 2 and 3 and still beat me handily with lands that I had no way of interacting with, outside of Spellskite or, if I really wanted to “go deep,” as they say, Refraction Trap.
I have a feeling, a hope, that my contribution to the human race will be figuring out how to spell out the fart noise in a way that everyone immediately understands, and then somehow make a lot of money off it. Because that last sentence, the one that ends in the words “Refraction Trap,” sorely needs a fart noise at the end of it.
Round 2, I got the bye! Apparently someone left after Round 1. Maybe it was the asshole who rolled into an FNM with stupid, mindless Valakut. Maybe I was to wake up, have my back catch on fire, have that pain last all day, go to Philadelphia anyway, drive back to Jersey the same day, play in FNM, lose to some cracker playing Valakut, have the dude who beat me just leave, and then get a bye in a tournament I have to actually write about.
I went outside. There were a lot of people out there.
There was a car show going on!
I don’t actually give a shit about cars, but I like car shows. I got my first car in 2006, when I was a junior in high school. It was a 1978 Pontiac Bonneville, and I bought it off my friend’s older brother for $400. My mom ended up sinking well over $2,500 into it, because it was perpetually “in the shop,” presumably because it was a fucking 1978 Bonneville. The thing was a boat, and it sucked down gas like it was water. But I loved driving around in it, mostly because I felt indestructible. That car was from a time where blue-collar values (sturdy car, cheap car) somehow sat comfortably beside completely unreasonable excess (it had a V8 for no reason, was far too big, and made of more straight-up metal than it needed to be), and it made my sixteen-year-old self happy to roll around a very white town in upstate New York in what was clearly once a drug car.
I think that’s why I like car shows.
There were lots of food carts all around, and I ordered a cheesesteak from a guy because I forgot that I was in New Jersey and not the Reading Terminal Market. Blame the Vicodin, I guess. I brought my sandwich back to the shop, and I noticed that the guy had tied off the end of the tin foil my sandwich was wrapped in, so that the grease wouldn’t go everywhere. By the time I was done with the sandwich, that little tin foil well had enough grease in it to fill a toilet. I felt much better.
Round 3, I played against a dude named Andy, with mono-Black. I swept him in two straight games that were never close, and he mentioned after the match that he sided in Duress against me. Neat!
Okay, that’s just horrifying.
Round 4, I played against my friend Rob Vaughan. Less than twenty-four hours after the first time I met him, he Top 8ed the SCG Open in Edison, New Jersey. He was on R/U/G Pod.
I lost the first game after coming out of the gates really slowly and just getting crushed by an Inferno Titan. Game 2, I had three Tempered Steel, but nothing to back it up except for the most awkward Kor Firewalker ever. While I ripped blank after blank, as Tempered Steel is certainly capable of doing, he stabilized behind a Sea Gate Oracle and proceeded to pick off my relevant shit one by one with R/U/G Pod’s endless barrage of post-board artifact removal. Manic Vandals became Tuktuk Scrappers, which became Acidic Slimes, which then became Inferno Titans. I ripped a bunch of land, as well as my second and third Mox Opals.
I was pretty steamed after that game, and I told Vaughan that he was really lucky, something I don’t normally do. I may tap your creatures for you, and I might drum on the table really loudly every time you go into the tank, but I’m usually willing to admit that I did something wrong. But I had no idea how I could’ve played that game differently, and my frustration spilled over. My opener:
Do I throw that back? It’s a toughie, for sure. I think what happened is I just ’boarded wrong. If the game goes long against R/U/G Pod, I’m finished, and I should’ve boarded accordingly.
I really don’t care for this Tempered Steel deck. The version splashing Blue’s probably got some legs, but this mono-White version seems really sensitive. It was very hard for me to sense when I should and shouldn’t press my opponent, and all of the times I answered that question incorrectly, the deck would shit its pants and sit in it for the remainder of the game. I did not enjoy this.
Round 5, I got to play against my ride, Carlo. He was on an Esper-colored pile that was basically just Esper-Blade, minus the banned cards and plus some other stuff.
Game 1, I had a pretty big lead established; all his Squadron Hawks were dead to my attackers, and I even had the Dispatch for his Sun Titan. He played a Phantasmal Image copying one of my dorks, which put him to three cards in hand, and I figured that that play meant I could dump a fair portion of my loaded hand, and if he had the Day of Judgment, that was fine—I had three creatures in my hand to follow it up with.
I’m not sure why the complete overhaul was necessary as far as Planeswalker Points go. Weighting strength of opponent is something that’s important to me. A three-yard run on third and two is not the same as a three-yard run on first and ten. There are lots of aspects of the new system that I like, too. I know I like Green Day and all, but I’d like to think I’m able to take off my “ironic sense of detachment and cynicism” hat from time to time and objectively evaluate something. I like the fact that you don’t have to sit on your rating anymore. I like that Competitive, Professional, and FNM points are all separate. I’m pretty sure FNM and Competitive will be exclusive sometime soon, because a ×3 multiplier seems ridiculous. That’s about all I can find right with it. According to Planeswalker Points, since August 29, I am the thirty-eighth ranked player in the state of New York. That can’t possibly be right. Since August 29, I am actually the 531st ranked player in the world, according to this metric. That’s insane.
/sees that if I were to go to a Grand Prix this weekend, I would have two byes.
//never had a bye at a Grand Prix before.
In the back two games, I beat Carlo pretty handily, and was able to turn my 2–2 record in played matches into a box of pink Dragon Shield sleeves. Someone told me they’re going out of business, so, you know, gotta snap them shits up.
Reading Turian’s article, I saw an announcement about something called an “FNM Championship,” where the people that were awesome in FNM that year get a plane ticket to go play in the championships of FNM. I have a message for all my readers.
ARE THEY FUCKING CRAZY? STARTING THIS WHEN I HAVE TO DO THIS ARTICLE SERIES? THEY MIGHT AS WELL PUT MY ASS ON THAT PLANE RIGHT NOW. I AM GOING TO PRISON-RULE AND MERCILESSLY DESTROY SO MANY SMALL CHILDREN ON THE WAY TO THOSE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS THEY MIGHT AS WELL START CALLING ME CASEY ANTHONY.
Just kidding. I’m not going to do any of that. But I do wanna get on that plane.
I’ll leave you with a sample hand from my latest Standard brew:
Enjoy your weekend. Go Bills!