MTGO’s Own AKlein Goes To Worlds!

Posted in Feature on December 1, 2005

By Bennie Smith

Bennie Smith began playing Magic in 1994 and started writing about it shortly after. A Virginia State Champion, he enjoys few things better than winning at tournaments with home brews. Bennie has a weekly column on StarCityGames.com. He also recently published The Complete Commander. Follow him on Twitter, on Facebook, and the occasional Commander games on Magic Online under the handle "blairwitchgreen."

Interview with Adam Klein, Worlds Competitor via MTGO Q!

Today, December 1st marks Day 2 of the penultimate Magic tournament—the Magic World Championship! For 12 years pros from around the world have gathered to battle it out and see who will win the coveted prize of World Champion. 2005 marks the third year Magic Online has sent one of it's own to compete, along with providing airfare and accommodations. In 2003, Andrew Cuneo (US) won and went on to place a very respectable 42nd and pocket a cool $825. Last year, Toshinori Shigehara (Japan) finished in 210th place. This year, Adam Klein (US) emerged victorious to represent the Aether in the world of paper Magic. I thought we'd get to know Adam a little bit before we hop over to see his progress in the standings.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself-- name, where you live, age, etc.
A: My name is Adam Klein, I live in Latrobe Pennsylvania and I am 18 years old.

Q: How long have you been playing Magic? How long have you been playing MTGO?
A: I've been playing Magic competitively for about 3 years, but this is my rookie year [on the Pro Tour]. I've been playing Magic Online since about the release of Odyssey.

Q: Did you win a limited or constructed qualifier to get in the running for the Worlds Q? If constructed, what deck did you run?
A: I qualified 2 accounts in the Qualifier. I qualified in a Kamigawa block constructed tournament and again in a CHK sealed qualifier, I think I top 4'd both of them.

Gifts Ungiven (Kamigawa Block Constructed)

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Q: What did you play when you won the Worlds Qualifier? Why did you choose that deck?
A: In the World's qualifier itself I chose to play mono red sligh. I decided to play this deck because I won a lot of 8-mans and premiere events with it while I was testing. I also chose this deck because it had pretty good matchups vs. the top decks at the time which were, Sligh, Tooth and nail, Mono blue Urzatron and Rats. Here is the decklist I played:

Monored (Standard, pre-October 2005)

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Q: Have you ever played on the Pro Tour?
A: Yes, I played in Pro Tour Columbus and Pro Tour Philadelphia; this will be my 3rd pro tour.

Q: What did Wizards award you for winning the Worlds Qualifier? Are you excited about going?
A: I won the slot to worlds, and they are also granting free airfare and hotel for me and my friend -- very awesome :). I am really excited about going. I have been testing a lot for Worlds since the day I won the qualifier. Also it will be my 1st limited Pro Tour and I really like limited a lot more than constructed.

Q: How have you prepared for the event? How much time have you spent practicing on MTGO?
A: I prepared for this event using only Magic Online since all the formats for the event are on MTGO. I played for a minimum of about 6 hours a day. The majority of my testing came from Standard, Extended and Ravnica draft 8 mans. I also played in as many Extended and Standard premiere events as possible. Magic Online is also a very good tool to use to test for tournaments because you can find matches 24/7 and the formats are now exactly the same.

Q: Have you been working with anybody to help prepare for Worlds?
A: I mainly just test with my MTGO clan (DRAGONQUEST). A few of us are qualified so we shared decklists and borrowed cards from each other to help play in different tournaments and experiment with different decks. I only tested with about 4 other people outside of DRAGONQUEST.

Q: Care to share with us what you're thinking about playing at Worlds?
A: I'm really not sure about Standard, I have a few decklists I like and I have a few days to pick which deck I'll use. Extended I'll be playing either affinity, a form of Psychatog or Boros Deck Wins, I still haven't quite decided yet :).

Q: Do you play on MTGO a lot? What's your favorite format?
A: Yeah, I play Magic Online way more than I play real life tournaments. I would say my favorite format is probably booster draft. I always try to draft twice a day at the very least to try and find different draft strategies and build a preference toward a guild color combination. You can find a Ravnica 8-4 queue 24/7 and drafting is a lot more fun to me than playing constructed. Sometimes I play in Singleton tournaments but that's about it for casual magic. I have never played in any Prismatic or Vanguard tournaments.

Q: What do you think of Mirage releasing for MTGO?
A: I really don't have an opinion about Mirage coming to MTGO mainly because I am still not quite sure why they are releasing it. I also didn't play in any of the Mirage tournaments so I am not quite sure what to think. It is pretty cool that they can bring back older sets though :).

Q: How have you built your online collection to compete in Premier Events?
A: To get cards for big premiere event tournaments I usually just buy them with tix. I don't mind buying the cards because I can always resell them at a later time for about the same price. I pretty much have everything that's used in constructed right now so I just usually buy cards from the newer sets. I obtain all the commons and uncommons from drafting a set lots of times once it comes out. Any rare cards I don't already own and don't particularly want to buy can usually be borrowed from various members of my clan DRAGONQUEST.

Thanks for your time Adam and best of luck at Worlds-- we'll be rooting for you! You're clearly a man who takes his Magic Online play very seriously and it has certainly paid off.

Mirage hits MTGO 12/5

In case you haven't been paying attention to your splash screen when Magic Online launches, let me be the first to let you know: Mirage hits the Online Store and becomes legal to play this Monday, December 5th! Mirage Release Events start on Wednesday (instead of the typical Thursday after downtime), so mark your calendars! As usual, the events include Release Leagues (one week long), Draft Queues, Premier Event Flights (2x and 4x Prizes), and the Release Championship. Keep in mind that the Thursday downtime will be hitting as normal so make sure you're not in the middle of a League game or something when that occurs!

Getting 1st place in the 2x PE or getting Top 4 in the 4x PE will qualify you for the Release Championship where you play for free and booster pack prizes go all the way down to 64th place. Winning the Championship gives you a complete set of Magic Online Premium (foil) Mirage cards! 2nd place gets a complete set of regular (non-foils) Magic Online Mirage cards!

Prize Avatars

Playing in a Release League and Premier Event will net you the participation avatar of Stalking Tiger. Going 5-0 in the League, making Top 2 in a 2x PE, or Top 8 in a 4x PE will all get you the prize avatar Frenetic Efreet. Longtime readers of Into The Aether know I enjoy making kooky decks around the Vanguard avatars, and Release Events are exciting because they give me two extra avatars to tinker with.

Currently, the Standard Vanguard appears to be dominated by the infernal Hell's Caretaker/Yosei lockdown decks (as evidenced by 7 of the Top 8 decks at the recent Vanguard PE sported that combo, including the winning deck). The Mirage prize avatar, Frenetic Efreet, is intriguing because it's got a 50/50 chance to break out of the Yosei lock by getting another turn—and it's a shame that Krark's Thumb has shuffled out of the Standard environment (though I imagine it will certainly be a vital part of Extended and Classic Vanguard formats). Another interesting wrinkle is that Yosei stealing your untap step effectively locks phasing for that turn since phasing occurs during untap, which may be harmful or helpful depending on your board position.

For the privilege of possibly getting free turns, Frenetic Efreet imposes a pretty stiff penalty of Hand -1 and Life -3, which strongly suggests an aggressive deck.


Frenetic WW (Vanguard Standard) By Bennie Smith

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The resistance between phasing and a quick swarm approach makes it tough. This deck will drop a 2 power or evasive creature on turn 1... but then it phases out and can't attack on your second turn, along with the land you dropped so having plenty of one mana critters is essential. The good news is that your swarm is going to be divided between phase land and the board so it becomes less vulnerable to mass removal. You can also play out any legends you draw and just put the duplicates in separate phases. Hopefully you'll also be stealing an extra turn here or there for your trouble.

With all your lands also phasing, odds are that both Gift of Estates and Weathered Wayfarer will be able to thin plenty of lands from your deck and keep your mana production steady (though stunted by having to split the lands between phases).

Will all this plus Samurai of the Pale Curtain be able to give Hell's Caretaker decks a run for their money? Now that Hell's Caretaker has been cut from 7 cards to 5 and from 24 life to 18, it seems like other Avatars should have a shot.

For Classic Vanguard, there are plenty of phasing creatures in Mirage that already have that drawback and could fit right in to a Frenetic Efreet Vanguard deck (I'm thinking Merfolk Raiders and Frenetic Efreet himself). Spatial Binding and Reality Ripple also help you manage which side of the phasing divide certain permanents end up.

The participation avatar Stalking Tiger really excites me because 1) I like creatures and 2) I like drawing cards. Two great tastes that go great together, right? Stalking Tiger's abilities suggest both that you play with lots of creatures, and that you have plenty of mana acceleration.

Which brings me to the Dredge deck I kicked around for States. In addition to having a fairly high creature count, being able to snag extra draws obviously helps turbo-charge the Dredge mechanic—play a creature, pay a mana and dredge back something from the graveyard. This build is a bit different than what I'd normally build, using Graverobbers to try and hurt the Hell's Caretaker combo decks. Otherwise, I'd be playing Viridian Shaman to fight Umezawa's Jitte.

Stalking NiceDraft.dec (Vanguard Standard) by Bennie Smith

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For Extended Vanguard, I imagine an Elf Intruder Alarm would just be completely nuts since you'd no longer have to rely on Bloodline Shaman for your card draw (which always seemed to mill my Intruder Alarms into my graveyard).

Also, don't forget that Mirage Preconstructed Decks are going to be available for purchase on December 5th! Since the original paper release of Mirage predated preconstructed decks, these are all new creations put together in a variety of ways:

Burning Sky is a red/blue deck that was created by the public by the “You Make the Mirage Deck” feature that ran on magicthegathering.com over several weeks. With efreets, djinns, counterspells and burn this deck is chock full of flavor and fun!

Jungle Jam is a Green/White (splash red) deck created by Markus Pettersson, who won a Magic Online tournament and the privilege to work with Wizards' R&D to build his own deck. The deck features a horde of Griffins aided by other mythological beasts.

Night Terrors is a Monoblack deck featuring an old favorite – Spirit of the Night – created by popular magicthegathering.com columnist Jay Moldenhauer-Salazar with ample help from his readers.

Ride Like the Wind is a Red/White deck created exclusively by R&D and focuses on the flanking ability and two Legendary commanders.

MTGO Constructed Format Changes

Mirage shakes things up a bit in terms of Magic Online's Constructed formats, so Scott Larabee wanted me to make sure you all were aware of the changes.

Standard, Extended, Ravnica Block Constructed, Standard w/ Vanguard, Extended w/ Vanguard - No changes from pre-Mirage

*Classic

  • Mirage legal in format
  • All Promo cards legal in format
  • No cards banned at this time

Core Set Constructed

  • 7th, 8th, and 9th edition only, 4 of any card
  • No cards banned

*Mirage Block Constructed

  • Mirage only, 4 of any Mirage Card
  • No cards banned

*Classic w/ Vanguard

  • Classic format w/ 1 avatar
  • All Promo cards legal in format
  • Mirage legal in format

*Prismatic

  • All Promo cards legal in format
  • Mirage legal in format

*Singleton

  • All Promo cards legal in format
  • Mirage legal in format

*Tribal Wars

  • All Promo cards legal in format
  • Mirage legal in format

*Freeform

  • Same as “Open” – new name only
  • All Promo cards legal in format
  • Mirage legal in format

9th Edition Theme Decks

  • no changes from pre-Mirage

Additional Notes

The Classic format will enter the Premier event rotation and 8-man queues after the Mirage Release events have concluded.

Mirage Block Constructed will enter the Premier event rotation and 8-man queues after the Mirage Release events have concluded.

Ravnica Block Constructed will enter the Premier event rotation after the Mirage Release events have concluded.

Wizards will monitor the new Core Set Constructed for possible future inclusion in the Premier Event rotation.

The Classic format will have no banned cards for now. It is possible that cards may be banned in the future. R&D will monitor the format.

Behind the Curtain: Tales from Programming Ravnica, Part 4

Rachel Reynolds talked to us the last three columns about the challenges and fun behind programming Ravnica: City of Guilds. She's back for the final installment!

RachelR: “After the first 2 weeks of Ravnica beta, everything was looking good. There were a lot of people on beta finding bugs, so a lot of things were found right away. QA was doing a great job of processing the bugs and getting them to me quickly, and I was fixing them about as fast as they were coming in. It was especially good that the beginning of beta went smoothly in light of the fact that we were moving across the street right before the Ravnica release, so I had to stop fixing bugs earlier than usual. Then the Monday before my Wednesday morning deadline to stop work on Ravnica, I came in to work to find one of my computers off. A power outage that left only one of my 2 computers off seemed a bit odd. I tried turning my computer back on, which had been working just fine when I left on Friday, and got a message that said something like "Alert! Previous shut down due to thermal event."

“The same thing had happened about a month earlier to my other computer after I moved to a temporary cube so that my cube could be set up in the new building. This time, however, it caused a bit more of a disturbance. It was the computer that ran Windows, and without it I could not start a client. It also had the database for my server, and without it I couldn't run a master server either. So I could in theory do work, except that I couldn't test anything I did. This is particularly troublesome for bugs, as it is often useful to be able to test them and see what is happening or use the debugger, and it is certainly good to be able to make sure I actually fixed the bug. So I spent some frustrating time doing work without being able to see the results, figuring I'd test all the bug fixes at once later. Towards the end of the day I found out that nothing could be done about my computer and I had to install everything again on a new one. So I ended up with a better computer, but had to spend the next day installing everything again and setting up my development environment, while still trying to fix bugs without being able to see the results. In the middle of all this, I managed to catch some sort of cold, which may have been partly as a result of being stressed out about my computer problems. I eventually managed to get everything installed, set up my development environment again enough to be functional, and test all the bugs I had fixed (all but one of the fixes did indeed fix the bugs and it was easy to get the remaining fix working correctly). By my deadline I managed to finish everything I needed to get done, so I at least stopped being stressed even though I was still sick.

“I have no idea what happened to my computers (somehow they overheated, but I have no idea why), but I hope that my new ones don't have any thermal events anytime soon. I have finally gotten my new computer completely set up again, now that I'm not under as much time pressure. By the way, electronic things don't seem to like me too much in general these days. Shortly after my computer died, my ipod charger stopped working. And I've somehow managed to break at least 8 pairs of headphones that I've bought to use at work in less than 2 years, many of which were pretty expensive.”

Next Week: An Introduction

Be sure to check in next week as Into The Aether introduces Aaron Alberg, Associate Brand Manager: Online Games. You won't want to miss it!

And finally, just in case you haven't seen them yet, here are the official phasing rules now that Mirage is finally upon us.

NEW PHASING RULES (as of October 1st, 2005)

502.15. Phasing

502.15a Phasing is a static ability that modifies the rules of the untap step.

502.15b During each player's untap step, before the active player untaps his or her permanents, all permanents with phasing the player controls phase out. Simultaneously, all objects that had phased out under that player's control phase in. (See rule 217.8, “Phased Out,” and rule 302.1.)

502.15c If an effect causes a player to skip his or her untap step, the phasing event simply doesn't occur that turn.

502.15d Permanents phasing in or out don't trigger any comes-into-play or leaves-play abilities, and effects that modify how a permanent comes into play are ignored. Abilities and effects that specifically mention phasing can modify or trigger on these events, however. (Because no player receives priority during the untap step, any abilities triggering off of the phasing event won't go onto the stack until the upkeep step begins.)

502.15e When a permanent phases out, all damage dealt to it is removed.

502.15f A card that returns to play from the phased-out zone is considered the same permanent it was when it left. This is an exception to rule 217.1c, which stipulates that a permanent “forgets” its previous existence when it changes zones.

502.15g Effects with limited duration and delayed triggered abilities that specifically reference a permanent will be unable to further affect that permanent if it phases out. However, other effects that reference the permanent (including effects with unlimited duration) can affect the permanent when it returns to play.
Example: A creature is affected by Giant Growth and then phases out during the same turn. If the creature phases back in somehow before the turn is over, it won't get the +3/+3 bonus from the Giant Growth because its effect has a limited duration.

502.15h Phased-out cards “remember” their past histories and will return to play in the same state. They “remember” any counters they had on them, any choices made when they first came into play, whether they were flipped when they left play, and whether they were tapped or untapped when they left play. They also “remember” who controlled them when they phased out, although they may phase in under the control of a different player if a control effect with limited duration has expired.
Example: Diseased Vermin reads, in part, “At the beginning of your upkeep, Diseased Vermin deals X damage to target opponent previously dealt damage by it, where X is the number of infection counters on it.” If Diseased Vermin phases out, it “remembers” how many counters it has and also which opponents it has previously damaged. When it phases back in, it will still be able to target those opponents with its upkeep-triggered ability.

502.15i When a permanent phases out, any Auras or Equipment attached to that permanent phase out at the same time. This alternate way of phasing out is known as phasing out “indirectly.” An Aura or Equipment that phased out indirectly won't phase in by itself, but instead phases in along with the card it's attached to.

502.15j If an Aura or Equipment phased out directly (rather than phasing out along with the permanent it's attached to), then it “remembers” the permanent it was attached to and returns to play attached to that permanent. If an Aura phases in and the permanent it was attached to has left play or is no longer legal to enchant, the Aura returns to play and then is placed in its owner's graveyard. This is a state-based effect; see rule 420. If an Equipment phases in and the permanent it was attached to has left play or is no longer legal to equip, the Equipment returns to play and then stays in play, not equipping anything. This is a state-based effect; see rule 420.

502.15k Permanents that phase in keep the same timestamps (see rules 418.5d and 418.5e) they had when they phased out. This doesn't change the fact that the permanents phase in simultaneously, however.

502.15m A permanent that phases in can attack and tap to play abilities as though it had haste. This applies even if that permanent phased out and phased back in the turn it came into play. The permanent remains able to attack and tap to play abilities until it changes controllers or leaves play.

502.15n A spell or ability that targets a permanent will resolve normally with respect to that permanent if the permanent phases out and back in before the spell or ability resolves.

502.15p Multiple instances of phasing on the same permanent are redundant.

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