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Taking A Look Back

So I was sitting around trying to com up with an article for this week.  That's when I realized that I didn't have much.  Well, obviously, since you're reading now, I came up with something :)
I figured I could go through some e-mail and see what fans wanted to hear me write about.  After reviewing my mail, I realized that fans ask us readers a lot about what we think and what we like.  This isn't a bad thing.  It's just merely an observation.  I figured I would spend this time giving my views on different things of the past regarding Magic.
So, let's get to it:
The Pro Tour
I remember when the Pro Tour started.  I was still living back home in Beeville, TX.  It was interesting, because it is still only Pro Tour that you just had to pay the entry fee to enter.  There was no real qualification for it.  I so badly wanted to play in it, but logistically, I just couldn't figure out how to pull it together.  I still remember reading about the world championships and national championships leading up to that event the year before.  Names like Mark Justice and Zak Dolan were still being thrown around among the greatest players in the world.  I even remember reading of a play involving Mark Justice where he was at 3 and his opponent is at like 20+.  He draws up a Zuran Orb and sacrifices all of his land.  Then he uses all of his life via Channel to fireball his opponent.  I'm so glad that doesn't happen in Magic these days.
My First Pro Tour
Yes, believe it or not, I have played on the Pro Tour.  MY first tour stop was New York of 2000.  I was ill prepared, and I played a bad versions of a deck that later became good in the format.  Regardless, that Pro Tour event was dominated by Rising Waters and Lin Sivvi.  It was not fun.  However, the experience itself was great.  The event was handled well.  There was plenty to do.  Besides, my opponent list included such names as Darwin Kastle and Dirk Baberowski.  Funny as it is, when I played Dirk, he was telling me about how bad his day was going as well.  We faced off when we were both 2-2 if I'm not mistaken.  He said it was great that he was splitting cash with Kai Budde, because Kai was doing so well.  As luck would have it, Kai ended up winning the event if I'm not mistaken.
I've since qualified for three Pro Tours, but have been unable to attend due to business arrangements or financial issues.
Acquiring My Store
I know what I'm about to say is going to shock some people...but I don't see getting my store as that large of an event in my life.  Believe it or not, it's actually been a bit more of a burden than a boon.  Now, don't misconstrue the statement.  I don't hate what do or anything, but owning a business is an extremely tough thing to do.  It takes a lot of patience.  It did get me closer to the industry, so that's a huge bonus.  But otherwise, it's made life more difficult.  Honestly, it made getting my house a lot more difficult.
Getting My First Article Published
I think the first nationally published article I got was through a gig with Pojo.com.  At the time Pojo was still heavily printing Pokemon magazines.  They wanted to do a couple of articles about different games in their Pokemon publication, so I got my chance to write some Magic: the Gathering stuff for them.  It was good enough that we got a Magic one-shot magazine deal.  Unfortunately, the publisher hit financial problems and closed up shop.  However, it all worked out as you can see and we are still writing articles for you daily.  Since then, I've had stuff appear in Pojo magazines, Scrye, and even Undefeated magazine.  I'm also in the middle of working out the details on a racing game and a hunting game.  Neither is a collectible card game.  Both are family style board games.
My First Large Tournament
This to me stands out as a very important point in my life.  It was Regionals 1997 and it was held in Ft. Worth.  I met several players there that I still stay in contact with on a regular basis.  As a matter of fact, that's where I met fellow Pojo writer Jeff Zandi for the first time.  We also developed the game of pack poker.  I got my eyes opened to how metagaming and playtesting can affect your performance.  I played one of the early 5cG decks.  I built my version through some help from then Pro Tour player, Matt Place...who if I'm not mistaken was FatMaro on AOL at the time.  I built the deck and played it well.  I came up one win short of the top 8.  That's OK though.  In hindsight, I made some mistakes and some poor sideboard choices and didn't deserve to win.  Experience goes a long way and I didn't have it then.  I just had some luck and an amazing rogue deck.
My Favorite Color
I'm not sure why I'm throwing this in.  I guess it's here for general reader information.  I think my current favorite color is green.  I've played it a lot over the years at major events.  I've had some great amazing finishes playing green.  Also, Wizards was nice enough to give green some of the best cards over the past few sets.  It was long worth the wait.
Surviving Urza's Block
I think the Urza Block Experiment (TM) was really bad.  I think I saw more people leave the game during that time than any other.  The average power level of cards was ridiculous.  There were a ton of combo decks.  There were a ton of quick kills.  The problem is that we had just come out of Rath Cycle (Tempest/Stronghold/Exodus) that had blazing speed.  Urza Block had amazing spell strength.  When you put those two together, that opened the doors to some really lethal combinations.  I hated it.  I still loved playing the game, but I hated the format at the time.  On the plus side though, I had two of the longest winnings streaks of my Magic career during that time period.  They were each 30+ wins.  I played U/G Enchantress/Earthcraft.
Well, there's some insight as to may take on important Magic related events in my career.  I think I'll do a long overview of myself from a Magic perspective next week if readers want to see it.
Now, we have our standard fare to cover.  This week my card of the week is Naturalize.  Naturalize is an amazing card in the format right now.  Artifacts are EVERYWHERE.  White weenie is packing equipment.  Hell even Goblins are playing Skullclamp.  Naturalize kills some of the strongest cards in the game.  It's cheap to cast.  It's splashable.  Right now, I seriously feel that nearly every deck should have three or four of these between their deck and sideboard if they are playing green.  I always felt that Disenchant was the best card in the game, so that would make Naturalize the second best card in the game.
While I'm on the subject, I would like to recommend that every deck have lots of ways to deal with artifacts these days.  It will make your life int he competitive Magic world a lot easier.  There are a ton of them.  Just go looking for what fits your deck and style.
We also have your favorite weekly segment, BAD PLAY OF THE WEEK.
This week's comes to us from a reader known as Phenotype:
I was playing a casual chaos game with three friends of mine, and it was nearing endgame--everyone had health in the low single digits. The first to fall had been a blue/red mage, who had gone down a few turns ago under the assault from a green elf/beast aggro deck. I was playing an old-school black control deck with some green thrown in. I had two Sorceress Queens, an Animate Dead-enchanted Timberwatch Elf,  a Hypnotic Specter, and a Royal Assassin whom I'd recently enchanted with Instill Energy, and a Bad Moon in play. Instill Energy was a new addition to the deck--bear that in mind. I also had a Sengir Vampire who'd grown to 9/9 by eating the blue/red mage's fairies, but he'd been rendered useless a few turns ago by a timely Arrest from the fourth player, who had a white/red deck with Mobilization and quite a few soldier tokens, two Myrs, and a Skyhunter Patrol on the table. I tapped the Royal Assassin to kill one of the green player's Llanowar Elves when he tapped out to cast some enormous beast. He still didn't have the combat power to get through my defenses, though, so I wasn't worried. When the white/red mage took his turn, he attacked me with most of his forces. Both my Sorceress Queens and my Assassin could do double duty, blocking and using their abilities to stop another attacker, and I'd be able to pump up the Hypnotic Specter with the Timberwatch Elf so that he'd survive blocking the Skyhunters. I spent a minute or two working out the math, and while a few soldiers would get through, I'd survive with two health. I reached over to untap my Assassin when the "dead" blue mage stops me. "Dude," he said. "You can only untap him a second time during your own turn."
Not in the middle of my opponent's turn, in other words. With the absence of my Assassin, two more soldiers skittered through and I lost the game. To add insult to injury, the next card I'd have drawn was a Drain Life, which would have let me kill the white/red mage and free my Sengir to kill the green mage.
That's a fun one :)
Be aware that the team trios pro tour qualifiers have started and ar probably happening somewhere near you.  You can find out all the info you need at www.wizards.com/protour.
My tip of the week this week is a simple one: Read Jason Matthew's deckbuilding article from this past Monday.  Deck building is definitely something that many players can work on to make themselves better.  If your deck has issues before you shuffle up, you're already at a disadvantage.  Jason wrote a good read this week.  Take a look at it and take it to heart.
Keep sending on those good and bad plays of the week and feel free tow rite and let me know what you want to see in my column.  I will always try to respond.
Until next time,
DeQuan Watson
a.k.a. PowrDragn
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