Words Long Forgotten
Big things lie ahead for me. Soon I will be going to Grand Prix Cleveland (hopefully with some byes under my belt, but that will have to be determined at the end of the month), and with all hopes I can come out of it with some money and an invitation to Pro Tour Houston. If that is the case, a good bit of monetary pleasure would also be coming my way. My fifth year of college will also begin soon, and the end of all the studying draws nearer and nearer. I get to watch my two little girls grow up a little more each day. Yes, big things definitely lie ahead for me.
Ok, I bet you are wondering how this ties into Magic besides what I already wrote. Well, its rather simple. A long time ago, I wrote an article for a now defunct website (that shall remain nameless because it really doesn't matter) that I am both proud of and ashamed of. I am ashamed of the article because I can look back at it now and realize what a poor article it was, as far as structure, thought progression, etc… However, my pride associated with that article comes from a couple different areas. It was my first net published article, which in itself gives me great pride in it. The real pride I have in it, though, is what I wrote in that article. It is with that in mind that I want to share with you all a bit of what I wanted to share with people back then.
Magic, though some of us might not admit it, is a game. Being a game, there are things in life that simply have more importance than it (side note, this is not a sappy "I'm quitting Magic" article, so please read on). I, for one, have a family to take care of and spend time on/with. My wife and two daughters (ages 2 years and 1 month) require more time of me than you might think. Kathy (my wife) and I both attend college, which is also more of a strain on our time, often times more so than a typical full time job would do. Add in to this equation a VERY tight budget, and what you end up with is a Magic player who really wishes he could be more than he is.
It is to this respect that my latest urge has been trying to manifest itself. Maybe its an early life crisis (is there such a thing), but I find myself having strong urges to go to higher and higher level events. I went to Regionals in NYC at the start of the summer (over a 6 hour trip). The event didn't go so well for me, but neither did the whole weekend (these two facts being completely related). I participated in a PTQ several months ago and finished 12th out of a field of over 70. Weekly tournaments consistently see me in the top 4. Now, my mind is set on Cleveland.
With my wife's folks living near there, going and staying cheaply isn't a problem. The 4 hour drive is also not a problem. So what is the problem? Winning. I want to place in this tournament more than I have ever wanted to do well in a tournament before. I've been close to getting somewhere in Magic, and I can smell it. Hell, I can taste it.
So, this leads me to the next topic (heh, you expected a deck list next, didn't ya?). I mentioned my old article above and what was in it. In that article I told about my recent comings in Magic. For quite a long while, work interfered with me playing sanctioned Magic and doing much of anything significant. I probably would have made an excellent candidate for one of Anthony Alongi's articles. In any case, when I finally was able to start playing Magic on a weekly basis, my constructed rating was still in the mid 1600's. I played at that level for a few months before I started looking at ways to improve my game.
Play-testing came first. I still need to do much more play-testing than I do, but doing just some helped my game tremendously. Looking at my mana base more critically also helped. Finally, holding my opponent's more responsible for their plays was the final step of my progression at the time. Now I am still known as a very lenient player, allowing people to take stuff back (a little) when playing in local standard tournaments (which are now sanctioned). However, before that point, I was much more lenient.
If you want to get better at the game, you have to be serious about it. That statement sounds easy enough. If you were playing football with yer pals and someone fumbled the ball, would you let them take it back to do over? Of course you wouldn't. You'd smash their face in the ground as you ran to get the dropped ball. So why do we let it go in Magic? Honestly, most of us don't, and we shouldn't. Our opponents make mistakes, just as we do, and it is those mistakes that make the game. Were there no skill involved, and everyone could go back and make the "right play", we might as well play a certain game with yellow rats we all know and hate.
In the same light, don't take back your own mistakes, either. You won't learn if you don't make the mistakes. Better yet, have a fellow player keep track of your mistakes. Give yerself a "stupid" counter for each mistake you make. In many circumstances, you will make the same mistake several times before you learn from it, if you ever learn from it.
My point is that if you want to become better, you
have to want to be better. There is no simpler formula
than that. Secondly, playing at local tournaments will
get you nowhere except there. If you have any ambitions
of playing at higher levels, you have got to get to the
bigger tournaments. You may do poorly for many times in
a row, but there is a learning process going on.
Eventually, you'll make it. If you don't, you can always
be a judge (this is sort of a joke, ask some of the
judges you know why they became a judge).
Ok, so by now everyone wants to know what I am playing for OBC. Well, I hate to give you all a deck list when I know that there will still be some changes happening. Thus, I won't. What I WILL do, however, is discuss to you some of the cards I will be playing in my Mono-black Control. What, yer playing a net-deck?! Well, yes and no. Mono-black control (or MBC as it has been fashionably known to be called) is a fairly prevalent arch-type in OBC, and it packs many powerful cards. Innocent Blood, Chainer's Edict, and Mutilate are some of the best removal in standard, let alone OBC. Diabolic Tutor provides maximum card manipulation, Cabal Coffers offers a load of mana, and black is host to some of the most powerful creatures in the block, Laquatus's Champion and Nantuko Shade. What isn't to love?
Other goodies I love for mono-black (note that this is a STRONG hint of cards in my deck) are: Decompose for its ability to shut down flashback and incarnation cards, Gravestorm for its "punisher-like" effect of disrupting the graveyard or drawing you cards, Morbid Hunger for its ability to nab creatures and players alike, all the while gaining you life, Mirari for its ability to make every great card you play twice as good, and finally Haunting Echoes for its ability to win you games entirely on its own. While black isn't totally devoid of sideboard goodness, this is where it definitely lacks in power. Rancid earth takes out nagging Squirrel Nests, Sickening Dreams works alongside Mutilate as a board clearer, Skeletal Scrying provides mass card drawing in a pinch, Caustic tar provides an alternate win condition, and Coffin Purge/Rat's Feast/Grave Consequences provide additional graveyard hate. With so many weapons, black is sure to be a major force at any OBC event you go to.
That's all for this week folks. No deck list yet. Guess I'll have to give ya two next week. Be sure to check in next week!
Until you walk through a Mind Sludge…
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