Welcome to a week I've been hoping for since I was invited onboard the SS DailyMTG.com: [CENSORED] Week! Oh, wait, that's next week (despite how awesome the idea of an actual Censored Week sounds I'm not sure something so provocative is possible).
So what does that have to do with this week, other than apparently bringing out the more mischievous side of my mind? I actually have three distinct, yet interrelated, topics for today—each of which is something I feel everyone can have a part of.
- The Big and the Small of It
I shared an abridged diary of game play from one of the Magic 2011 Prerelease Events I attended two weeks ago (and, even better, a few more weeks ago I talked about my experiences at Grand Prix–DC—I suggest checking both out if you're not familiar with big event shenanigans). Since my article was already so long—I had cut over 1,000 words before polishing the notes into legible stories—I didn't have room to get into a nice, meaty takeaway. As it turns out I have a few regarding big events.
- 1) Big Events are Transformers
When I talk about "a big event" I mean something a little larger than your usual group of gamers. Events like Pro Tour Qualifiers (PTQs), Prerelease and Launch Party Events, Grand Prix Events, and Friday Night Magic (FNMs) are all draws for players to come together outside their kitchen tables and basement boardrooms.
Events like these are both "more than meets the eye" as well as an open door to the bigger Magic world. One of the most common frustrations readers have shared with me is stagnation. The group is a small cluster of friends who, for a variety of reasons, choose to play Magic one or two ways. While consistency is a great feature of any group gathering, inflexibility to trying new things or willingness to change up the routine every once in awhile are deadly.
The events I've attended have afforded me unique opportunities to learn about other Magic groups, ones I was not aware existed, in my area. I saw a diversity of new approaches, even if I wasn't playing in a particular game, and heard far more stories than I can ever begin to accurately recall.
Big events are like having a fire sale on awesomeness.
Now, I haven't brought back everything I saw, or even liked everything available, but I was truly astonished at how diverse even a small sample of the players in a region really are. It's helped me grow considerably and has contributed to my appreciation for things I used to take for granted.
And like an infomercial salesman, I say "You, too, can experience these amazing things and more!"
- 2) A Man, A Plan, Phelddagrif
Something that I've taken for granted is that other players plan as far in advance as I do. While there are certainly things that I don't do a very good job of, adequately preparing for the big events and getting out there for them isn't one of them.
I'm not just talking about big shows like this weekend's Grand Prix–Columbus, the following week's GenCon, or U.S. Nationals (which I'll touch on a little later). I'm talking about the truly local events like Prereleases, Launch Parties, PTQs, and FNMs—you know, the "little ones" that don't feel like a vacation from everyday life
The dates for these events are usually posted a few weeks in advance of when they take place. While some of us have problematic schedules—I recall difficulties just getting any time away from work when I was juggling two full-time retail jobs simultaneously—advance planning is the only way to make the room to get out to these events.
I'm not suggesting you need to devote an entire day to Magic endeavors! I've popped into events that had been underway for a few hours—that is already halfway over—and picked up a few games, shared my cube, and joined drafts. Just because the main event is something on the competitive side of Magic doesn't mean more relaxed fun isn't cropping up around it.
The overlap between those who enjoy casual staples like EDH and other wacky goodness and those who drive out of their way for a PTQ is larger than it appears at a glance. Part of "good practices" for those on the competitive side is taking a break from the competitive: a refreshing game of Magic that isn't focused on qualification play is the gateway to a surprising side of players you may have just passed over.
- Man vs. Deck—A Community Challenge
I advocate planning ahead. It would be poor form to immediately ignore trying to plan ahead. I have been given an amazing opportunity to head to U.S. Nationals, taking place August 19-22. While I'll be the first to admit I'm not heading there to compete, I will be taking in the slices of Magic on the side—the fun games, multiplayer shenanigans, putting on my best hero/villain outfit for Archenemy, and the not-too-serious side of a serious event.
While I'm cooking up a few cool side things that should help you tune into the "other side" this weekend (though be sure to check the coverage page for all sorts of games and anecdotes!), building new decks is something I know I want to do, as well as something I'm prone to struggle with.
I've built and tuned some very interesting decks in the past but, as a general rule, it takes me months of refining to get something I'm really happy with running at full steam. What I've noticed, however, is that some of you have the talent to do this upfront. Everyone has different skills and to overlook finding help for my weaknesses is a weakness itself.
So here's where you guys come in: decks. Over the next few weeks leading up to Nationals I'll be running some polls and posting some ideas that get sent my way. My goal is to have a few decks that are both ones I enjoy and ones that are a Serious Fun collaborative effort. These decks are to become the new awesomeness that I'll be taking to Minneapolis. And you'll get to hear all about how our over-the-Internet team-up worked out.
Ideally I'd like to build a total of three different decks:
- A fun-to-play Standard-legal deck that can be played against those with decks for the main event. (Grins not wins is the goal.)
- A new multiplayer deck of a type I haven't really played before.
- An Archenemy deck with hand-picked scheme cards to go with it.
Last Thursday Mike Flores posted an awesome article detailing many of the potential new decks thanks to the addition of Magic 2011. While I'm not looking to copy or develop any "secret tech" to compete with, knowing or playing off of existing deck ideas seems like a good way get the ball rolling.
Take a look over the basic premises of the different emerging decks. There are four featured that I think would be neat to try out.
These decks each reach out to me in different ways and, of course, I'm always open for something completely off the wall—these are just firestarter ideas so you'll know what I'm thinking about. Playing off Magic 2011 seems like the order of the day and, just so you know, I have a full set of my favorite titan: Frost Titan (wink wink).
Multiplayer is a world where anything can happen. Last week was a trip down memory lane for Serious Fun, which also brought me to think of decks I've seen in various forms but never tried myself.
- Discard Damage
The classic combination of Teferi's Puzzlebox and Underworld Dreams is a mainstay among a few members of my local troupe. Megrim has made appearances and the deliciously cost-shaved Liliana's Caress looks like a promising upgrade (which, incidentally, partners well with Liliana's Specter).
Whether it's an all-black control, white-black disruption, or even one with a splash of blue (so you can give them more cards to throw away!), I'm curious to see what this type of deck feels like to pilot.
- A Rainbow of Allies
Sliver decks are a fairly common occurrence, especially since we have the all-shiny Premium Deck Series: Slivers deck floating about. While I did the Sliver thing back in the day, it's the newer five-colored kids on the block I'm interested in: Allies. I've looked at different Ally-based decks but one that's been eluding my mind is how to create a five-color pile of Ally shenanigans—especially one with multiplayer in mind. Hindering my creature-type construction is that I was MIA during both Onslaught and Lorwyn blocks (two blocks dedicated to creatures). Building around creatures just isn't something I'd had to do a lot of in the past, which makes it an excellent examination for the near future.
Jwari Shapeshifter and Talus Paladin seem like a promising duo, but Kazuul Warlord and Join the Ranks have their own unique appeal. There's a ton of possibilities in here—the question is just "Which possibilities do I explore?" I'm sure you have some answers.
- The Deep, Dark Depths
There's a sea-faring monstrosity deck in there somewhere—and I really need to head out to sea sometime soon. It's been awhile since I sat down with my first favorite creature type (Leviathan), and I'm game to do it with the most modern of sea creatures.
The Eldrazi are out in full force but I have yet to make a deck of my own. Between cards like Cloudpost and Urza's Mine (and friends), All Is Dust, and a bevy of Eldrazi Spawn token-makers there's got to be an amazingly fun deck of the tribe of the biggest creatures. That is, of course, so long as I can dodge Bribery all day.
As for the Archenemy deck I already have a deck and a nice set of schemes in mind. But that's a story for another time. Your villain hats will have to wait for a little bit.
If you've got some deck ideas or have something you think is the cat's meow you have some time to work through things—I'm not looking for everything this week. By next Thursday (that is by the end of the day on Wednesday, August 4) is what I'm shooting for. Until then vote and email away!
- TweetMTG: Tweeting the Way You Always Wanted
As the final order of business this weekend is the TweetMTG party on Twitter—and you're invited! If you like Planar Magic (Planechase) and the old school staple Chaos Magic, TweetMTG is something you should tune in for.
- Follow TweetMTG on Twitter.
- Grab some friends to play Magic this weekend (7/31 – 8/1).
- Everyone picks one of the "original" planeswalkers (Ajani, Jace, Liliana, Chandra, or Garruk) to ally with.
- Periodically, TweetMTG will tweet an effect that affects you based on your choice of planeswalker ally.
- The effect of a TweetMTG tweet lasts until the next tweet.
And that's all there is to it!
Like its paper-based forerunners, TweetMTG promises to be both random and exciting. I plan to be playing Magic much of the weekend and I hope you'll take the time to join in on the fun.
As an added bonus, since TweetMTG requires both internet access and Twitter I'll be available to take your stories and anecdotes as you wade into the world of digital chaos with me. Send me a tweet (I'm @the_stybs), an email, or post a comment on the message board—and remember that some mediums of response lend themselves better to shorter or longer stories (and I'm looking for all types).
- A Boring Summary
For the benefit of everyone who likes things in a tidy package, here's what you can get in on over the next week or so:
- Use the handy "Event Finder" tool to see what's coming up in your area, and then make some plans to get out there (ongoing timeframe—there's always new events!).
- Check out last Thursday's Top Decks and vote on one that seems like a fun, cool concept (or propose a whole new one!) by August 4.
- Take a gander at the multiplayer deck types I haven't tried before (see above) and let me know what you think is cool (or, again, propose away!) by August 4.
- Follow TweetMTG, along with grabbing a few friends, and play some digital Chaos Magic—and tell me how things went (TweetMTG runs 7/31 through 8/1).
Whew! I'm keeping you guys busy!
Join me next week when I share not just my TweetMTG adventures but yours as well (remember to send them all weekend). Until then, enjoy!