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Monk's Corner
Ray Powers

*Level III Judge

*WOTC Tournament Organizer for Arizona & San Diego

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 Monk's Corner
The Philly PTQ
By Ray "Monk" Powers

This past weekend was the Wizards of the Coast Tournament Organizer conference, and while I'd like to be able to give you some amazing scoops and cool info, just about everything we talked about was under my Non Disclosure Agreement. To be honest, a lot of the stuff we discussed is not really what I'd call sexy to the average player. Wizards is definitely doing some great things, and as always they do it with a level of thoroughness that impresses me, so keep an eye out, but don't feel bad I wasn't able to scoop for you.

The weekend before really is my topic of discussion for today. That weekend I ran a Pro Tour Qualifier for Philadelphia. It was a relatively quiet event, but has a few stories and a few points to it, so I thought I'd pass them on.

I walked in first thing to my store manager already ready to go. He informed me that we had seating for 84 in the store, and he has gotten a lot of calls, but we also have two other smaller events so if we run over 84, he would like to cut it off at that point. All I could think was to wonder where he got the numbers from. The only events we ever get over 100 players are states and regionals. My PTQ's average around the 60-70 mark. I would be incredibly pleasantly surprised if somehow we had over 84, but even with a lot of calls to the store I would put us at 80 max, so I really think we didn't have much of an issue.

We ended up with 69, a fair number, just enough to kind of fill the store with a little space left over for open play, trading, and other events. You always want to try to get as close to a swiss bracket break as possible without going over, and since the last break was 64, having five extra was kind of yucky in that it makes for a messy triangle and adds a round to the event but such is life.

The event started off pretty easily, and the crowd was very friendly. We quickly started doing deck counts during round one, and unfortunately came up with a couple of decks with 14 card sideboards which we then had to go verify and hand out the appropriate penalties for. Both players with invalid sideboard penalties were fairly understanding of the penalty and there were no real arguments about any penalty handed out.

At round three was the most interesting part of the day. I was acting as a judge for this event and there was a call over at about table 12. I walked over and asked what was going on. It was obvious that there was a Mind's Desire player "going off" by the look of the board.

Mind's Desire Player - Hi, I was playing Mind's Desire, and my storm count is up to 8 and my opponent is at 14 and I am at 12. I cast Tendrils of Agony and my opponent responds with False Cure. Who dies?

Me - Uhmm, why is there a Zuran's Orb on the board?

Mind's Desire Player - I cast it this turn!

You can guess where things went from there. The poor guy was a first time player, and had in fact just filled out a New DCI Card for this event. He didn't have a sideboard even, and just didn't know the rules defining Extended. In fact, he had an Apprentice Wizard in the deck, which all of the staff agreed we would have never have noticed if not for the Zuran Orb? I mean, Apprentice Wizard could have been in a core set, right?

The penalty session for this one did not go well. He had never been to a PTQ before, and even with me trying to be as nice as possible, he now had to lose the Wizard and Orb from his deck and replace them with basic lands, and was getting a loss penalty as well. He complained that he had never actually used the Zuran Orb so it should not have been a big deal. I had to explain that even when Zuran Orb was legal in extended, it still wasn't actually legal in extended due to the bannings, and like it or not, he was playing with an illegal deck and I had to assign a penalty for it. In the end he was a good sport about it, and I know it wasn't an intentional infraction, and I can only hope that this was not a negative enough experience to stop him from coming back. He was a good guy, just inexperienced.

As the day went on, I decided that Wizard's had missed a card on the new banned list: Mind's Desire. Not because I think Mind's Desire is actually powerful enough in extended to be banned. In fact, there were exactly zero Mind's Desire decks in the top eight. What it did do was delay my event at least one hour. Every round when I called time, there would be three to five tables out there still going. All were Mind's Desire. All would play all five turns then try to go off on the last turn, which of course took ten more minutes, and sometimes they succeeded and sometimes they did not. In one particular round, the player went off in round five, successfully drew his entire deck, only to realize the only card he had left was Brain Freeze, which would not kill his opponent, because he has sideboarded out his Deep Analysis. So, after ten minutes, the game ended a draw anyways. Yay!

This was every round in my event. And a big problem is that the deck is just slow. It takes a long time to go off and make the right plays at each step, so it's difficult to call these people for slow play because they are doing something all the time, and often they have specific, difficult decisions to make, and its not fair to rush them through it. Fortunately for me, none of them whined about the time limits or I would have had to go off on them about the concept that they are required to bring a deck that they can win with IN THE TIME ALLOTTED TO THEM and if their deck can't do that, it's their fault, not Wizards or mine.

Regardless, the existence of Mind's Desire decks definitely pushed the entire event back an hour or more over the course of the day, and that was pretty annoying for the entire crowd.

One sad thing about the event surrounded the finals. At the top two, the players fought it out quite extensively for the invite. There was a deal on the table of everything for the invite, and it was turned down, so both players fought out three hard games before we had a winner. The sad part was this excruciating fight was not because they wanted to go to the pro tour, but because they both have family in Philly. Neither of them actually cared about the invite very much, it was simply an excuse to to go to Philly to visit family.

On the bright side, many of the things we talked about at the Tournament Organizer's Conference are going to orient on new cool things to really invigorate Magic and the Pro Tour, so expect some very cool announcements over the next year.

In the meantime, keep playing, the current extended format is actually pretty fun, and there's a lot of PTQ's left in this season!

See you next week!

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