Tutored Worldly

Posted in Serious Fun on November 22, 2011

By Adam Styborski

Stybs has played Magic the world over, writing and drafting as part of the event coverage team and slinging Commander everywhere his decks will fit.

During last weekend there was some hyped-up event called Worlds. Junya Iyanaga won the whole shebang, and Team Japan stands atop the heap of nations in attendance.

It's just a bunch of no-funs who take things too seriously. Who's cares, right?

I care. Let me explain.

I'm extremely fortunate to live in an area with great Magic stores, a buffet of events competitive and casual, and a tight-knit community of players. Many of these players are stateside and international travelers who have followed the longstanding decree of Magic's Organized Play: play the game, see the world. Many of these players have a passion for Magic without rival.

Many of them are my friends.

I rarely join the main show at Pro Tour Qualifiers and Grand Prix events, but I do enjoy watching, discussing, and playing Magic with friends all the same. Competition isn't for me, but that doesn't mean there isn't something for me at competitions.

To start, many of my friends would be there already.

Through Twitter, online message boards, Facebook, and plain old email, I've forged friendships from around the globe. They, too, often attend these places of deck worship. And they, too, aren't always interested in intellectual jousting.

Many of my friends were already there to just have fun.

The world of Magic is wonderful.

For Those of You about to Rock

To showcase that events are about people, not just prizes, I'm going to share a few friends that met up, using an assortment of decks to demo.

It wasn't long ago when everything got a little hazy (and surreal) after our visit to Innistrad. Two representative decks were chosen to clash, one a gaggle of Zombies led by Grimgrin, Corpse-Born, the other a motley crew of Werewolves and, oddly, Ixidron. As a refresher:

Modified "A Blue Moon Rises"

Download Arena Decklist
Creature (7)
3 Ixidron 4 Vesuvan Shapeshifter
Sorcery (6)
4 Ponder 2 Rite of Replication
Other (15)
4 Gatstaf Shepherd++Gatstaf Howler 4 Mayor of Avabruck++Howlpack Alpha 3 Ulvenwald Mystics++Ulvenwald Primordials 4 Villagers of Estwald++Howlpack of Estwald
60 Cards

Modified "The Little Death That Brings Total Ruination"

Download Arena Decklist

These two decks are slightly changed from the incarnations submitted due to trouble assembling the contraptions called "mana bases." I promise fudging the decks around the lands won't fudge the way they were meant to play.

As an added bonus, all three of my Worlds decks would feature blue.


Download Arena Decklist
Planeswalker (1)
1 Jace Beleren
Sorcery (1)
1 Rite of Replication
99 Cards

The theme here is quite obvious: copy, borrow, and occasionally steal others' stuff. I've seen every type of against-my-grain blue Commander deck:

  • The Control Magic family reunion
  • Erayo, and everything else, says "No!"
  • Breaking all the rules, taking all the turns

Blue has the worst reputation of any color for Commander (at least in my book). Complaining or aggravating other players doesn't build bridges either. I chose to lead by example with a blue deck that brings out the fun. We're still doing powerful things:

  • Making larger-than-normal amounts of mana
  • Getting an expensive creature at a discount through copying
  • Attacking with well-equipped, hard-to-kill creatures

But the deck also activates fun for others:

And thanks to my Commander box, lunch Winchester buddy Craig helped me put this together in just twenty minutes. We timed it, and had to disassemble an existing Commander deck to do it. Fast food.

We Salute You

Equipped with a deck for every face I could meet, it was time to find friends I've made in other places. The first was @inkwell_looter, the man behind Unfinished Business.

At random, Mr. Looter selected to command Zombies in battle, leading off with Diregraf Ghouls and an Endless Ranks of the Dead.

While the Zombie engine started turning over, the Werewolves got mean. A Mayor of Avabruck transformed into Howlpack Alpha for me, and a twosome of Cackling Counterpart let me have three Howlpack Alphas—two of which were tokens and thus couldn't ever transform back—by the end of a turn.

Things were bleak for him already, but I looted the victory when Ixidron sealed the deal.

But the real victory was for the inkwell. He brought a stack of fantastic business cards he created for me.

He certainly appreciates the kind words I'll be shared about him for a while!

Score: Werewolves 1, Zombies 0

The next meet-and-greet was a purely Internet companion thus far: Ken (@kenfortson). While we weren't firing off the Ravnica / Guildpact / Dissension draft he was so interested in, he was still willing to lend a hand in determining if hairy or horrid was the king of Innistrad's darkness.

Similar to Inkwell Looter's game above, Ken lead with a Zombie and Endless Ranks of the Dead. My howlers, however, had other plans: Gatstaf Shepherd and double Mayor of Avabruck.

Ken valiantly continued, soon landing his haymaker in Grimgrin, Corpse-Born. But the bundle of oversized Wolf tokens being produces out-swarmed the shamblers.

Thanks for the help, Ken.

Score: Werewolves 2, Zombies 0

Another formerly digital-only dude, Dave (@dastels_mtg), drummed up a hello and deal. We swapped some cards we had both been hunting and got down to gaming in short order.

A small aside: travelling with my wife had some unusual advantages and disadvantages. While she patiently waited in line to have an artist sign a few cards, she also tipped Dave off that "the blue-box deck" had already lost two games against "the brown one." Dave chose accordingly.

In what became a clear pattern, Dave led off with a Mayor of Avabruck, transformed it, and went on to create a Cackling Counterpart.

"Not so fast," was a welcome interjection from the Zombies, as I had a Mana Leak to slow things down. With three Adaptive Automatons playing the part of zombie robots (awesome!), things looked up... until Dave had a duo of Gatstaf Shepherds, one transformed into Gatstaf Howler, and a pack of Wolf tokens from the unanswered Howlpack Alpha.

Faced with casting either a Grimgrin, Corpse-Born or Endless Ranks of the Dead, I just couldn't muster enough bodies to block.

And, yes, my wife found this pleasing.

Score: Werewolves 3, Zombies 0

I finally ran into someone I'd physically met before when Uriah (@CMDRDecks) popped in.

He's the man behind the on-going YouTube series CMDRDecks and someone I always enjoy bouncing Commander ideas off of. It helps that he's a really nice guy too.

In the interest of fairness, I went ahead and tipped him off to the running Zombie-Werewolf record. Uriah, too, ran with the hairy odds. Off with a sprint, Uriah had a Mayor of Avabruck and Villagers of Estwald, and gladly took a turn off to transform them into Howlpack Alpha and Howlpack of Estwald when the Zombies failed to even show up to shuffle about.

I thought I earned a reprieve to get back into things when I cast a Ponder into Diregraf Ghoul, putting the lycanthropes back to sunny-side up. Uriah decided to just moon me right back.

That was a lethal level of mauling.

Score: Werewolves 4, Zombies 0

The flow of videographers continued with Rich Castle (@richardfcastle), the man inside Inside the Deck. I wanted Rich to have a good time as he usually spends entire events simply filming, so I selected the Zombie deck for myself.

He was able to go first, but led with back-to-back Hinterland Harbors. That slow mana was exactly what the Zombie deck wanted as two Cemetery Reapers, Moan of the Unhallowed, and Endless Ranks of the Undead all appeared for me.

Rich was able to follow up with a double dose of Mayor of Avabruck, but an Adaptive Automaton and Diregraf Ghoul locked up the game for the flesh-craving swarm.

Sorry, Rich!

Score: Werewolves 4, Zombies 1

With the clear victory going to the Werewolf family between the Innistrad titans, it was a relief to run into Nate, better known on Twitter as @5wordfi5h and one of the creators of a very entertaining video.

After creeping along at a steady stumble, my blue Commander deck leapt from my hands: Sol Ring, Swiftfoot Boots, and Gauntlet of Power set to blue made up my rapid-fire development.

Nate's Rubinia Soulsinger deck wouldn't mind getting a boost to blue, but it struggled to give Nate any Islands. With a Charging Troll out, he went to up the ante against my morph with Armadillo Cloak. My morph happened to be Willbender and, as you'd suspect, I soon had the Cloak on my 'bender. A Copy Artifact for the Gauntlet of Power, with Nate still missing Islands, made things a little unfair.

But tables can turn. While my Vesuvan Shapeshifter was face up (and therefore unable to take advantage of acting like another Willbender), Nate placed a Bear Umbra onto his Charging Troll. It brought my attacks to a stalemate as he was able to pound in and untap lands.

His Jhessian Balmgiver drew out one of my few steal effects, Dominate, but it left the way clear for his Rafiq of the Many off the Gate to the Æther I cast.


Sakashima the Imposter came down as a reflection of Rafiq, and with a little Sword of Fire and Ice juggling, my Willbender with the Cloak became an unblockable fatty with double strike.

"At least my cards helped someone win!"

Nate is ever the classy guy. Thanks again!

The Pick of Destiny

Worlds was a fantastic time, and teased out even more of my desire to attend the biggest events in Magic. You don't have to plan on battle, put on your war paint, or trade fiercely for the last few cards you need. Just grab your decks, team up with friends, and take a trip to experience Magic where the kitchen tables stretch further than you can imagine.

I hope to see a few more friends on the next adventure!

Last week's poll dove deeper into deck demonstratives:

What type of deck construction do you prefer?
60 cards, with up to four copies of each (the go-to default for all of Magic) 1526 48.7%
Singleton (just one copy of anything, like Commander) 520 16.6%
A mix of numbers to create the perfect taste (like those featured today) 1090 34.8%
Total 3136 100.0%

We play Magic today due to early rules configurations, such as sixty-card decks and a cap at using four of any one card. But making the numbers feel right, and not just forcing as many four-ofs as possible, is also a long-standing tradition. Neither method looks to be losing steam.

This week we have a more general question: Have you attended or do you plan to attend a Grand Prix?

I don't always talk about big events, but if I do I'd like to know you enjoy talking about them too. Join us next week when we make changes for the better!

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