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The McShake

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The McShake Alchemist on Magic
My Evolution as a Magic Player #1
August 8, 2012

Hey everyone!  Long time no speak!  I haven't been playing very much Magic as of late, so I haven't had very much content to write about since my endeavors with Tempered Steel a few months ago.  While that hasn't changed yet, I'd like to start to 'get my feet wet 'per se` and start writing again.  I'm sure that most people that have questions about me are asking questions along the lines of "Who are you again?", "Why am I reading your stuff?", and most importantly, "What have you actually DONE in this game?".  To answer these questions, I'm going to embark on a journey of reflection from when I started playing Magic, shortly after Darksteel was released to today, and hopefully revisit this series each year hereafter to see where I've been and where I can go.  So, without further adieu, allow me to take us back to 2004.
I had just been convinced to play with an 8th Edition starter pack with my friend Randy and decided I wanted to learn more about this game "Magic".  I entered the local gamestore (Underworld Games, at the time) and purchased a handful of blue commons and a huge creature that could steal games in an instant (I thought), Leviathan. 

Think back to Darksteel, think about the set as a whole, and what cards that it brought to the table that are great in tournament play:

Aether Vial
Arcbound Ravager
Yeah, it was a bad time to be a n00b.  I kept losing to the Affinity decks before I even knew what was going on.  The average game was similiar to this:

Me: Island -> Merfolk of the Pearl Trident
Opp: Seat of the Synod -> Archbound Worker -> Ornithoper
Me: Island
Opp: Vault of Whispers -> Free Frogmite -> Thoughtcast -> Disciple of the Vault -> Push 1
Me: Island -> Horned Turtle (Yay!!!!!)
Opp: Great Furnace -> Skullclamp -> Archbound Ravager -> Ask me if I scoop

I was only 12 at the time so when an adult asks you to concede, I just assumed I had lost and didn't really know why.  The only way I could think to beat the fast decks was lifegain, so, I saved my allowance every week and purchased several Mirrodin Tournament Packs* and Darksteel packs and polished the following turd:

Mono Blue Artifacts
As suggested by Sean Handy 2004

Creatures 11
1 Quicksilver Elemental
4 Psychic Membrane
1 Memnarch
4 Fatespinner
1 Vedalken Mastermind

Artifacts 17
4 Sun Droplet
4 Sculpting Steel
1 Ensnaring Bridge
1 Serum Tank
4 Tanglebloom
2 Gilded Lotus
1 Soul Foundry

Enchantments 2
2 Domineer

Other Spells 11
4 Override
2 Thoughtcast
4 Unsummon
1 Twiddle

Lands 20
1 Glimmervoid
1 Blinkmoth Nexus
18 Island
Total cards: 61
I could just write this off as a bad deck.  I could just say that this was me being a new player.  I'm not going to do that.  Allow me to talk about the problems with this trash.

1. 20 Lands
Tempered Steel and Elves even play more than 20 lands.  This was a newbie's rule of thumb back in the day.  Math hardly mattered or something.

2. Fatespinner
I was told by the shop owner that a player couldn't choose the same phase multiple times in one turn, so I thought I could make them essentially only get a Post-Combat main step.   I was wrong.

3. Quicksilver Elemental
This card is so cool.  It's definitely not good, but, it is just so cool.

4. Override
Should be Mana Leak.  In my head at the time, because I played so many artifacts, it would be better in the lategame.  The only problem?  Mirrodin formats didn't have a lategame.

5. Spattering of rares
I basically played what rares fit in the deck and I could trade for.  It didn't matter if I only had one or was a non-bo with another card in the deck.

6. The amount of lifegain
This deck was a lot of fun because of how much life it could gain if there were multiple Sun Droplets in play.  Scuplting Steel's primary target was Sun Droplet**.

7. Glimmervoid
I played this because I wanted to be ready for 'any situation'.  If they played a Shared Fate, I would be ready for 'em!

8. Serum Tank
I seriously just don't know.

With the first problems that come to mind out of the way, I will have to say the deck generally would go about 2-2 at Friday Night Magic.  One of the wins was usually a bye, but, I'll take what I can get!
Most of the year was me building decks similiar to this one and doing equal to, or worse than, the Friday Night Magic explained above.  I still didn't really understand card advantage or tempo, but, I knew that I wanted to get better at the game, and watched the "Pros-to-be" at the shop, trying to remember the cards they played and what they did.

Later in the year, Champions of Kamigawa was released.  I picked up a few packs and thus discovered that I wouldn't be able to hide behind my artifact lifegain for too long, as there were almost no artifacts in the entire set.

I ended up selling all the cards in my blue artifact deck to build a white deck with even MORE lifegain cards that I can't even remember the names of, thanks in most-part to my opening a Beacon of Immortality from the Fifth Dawn Expansion.  I really wish that somebody back then had told me that lifegain sucked, because I was on that bandwagon like Kibler on Daybreak Ranger. 

I'd love to keep talking more about this awful year and how bad I was at the game, but I'm pretty sure that most of you are tired of hearing about how bad lifegain sucks, and how much I couldn't build a deck of Magic: The Gathering cards.  Tune in next time for 2005 and when I actually started to learn how to function as a Magic player! 

Feel free to contact me to talk about strategy and and the game in general!  I love hearing feedback and talking to people about different angles of the game!

Thanks for reading
Never stop learning

Sean Handy

Facebook: Facebook.com/shakezilluh
Twitter: Paper_Gangsta_
Email: Andro_sphinx@yahoo.com
Pojo forums:  themcshakealchemis (No T)
*For those who haven't played for very long, a tournament pack was a special pack they stopped printing around Ravnica, if I'm not mistaken.  The pack was essentially 3 packs of cards, a random foil from the set, and 1 of each basic land, for around $10.
**Absolutely gorgeous foil.  If anyone has one, I would left to trade for it or try to work something out for it.  Gifting them is also acceptable ;).


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