Roy Tang

Programmer, engineer, scientist, critic, gamer, dreamer, and kid-at-heart.

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Grand Prix / MagicFest Seattle Photo Dump:

I wasn’t actually planning to play much competitive Magic this year, at least not on paper, but when the family planned a US trip in June, I figured I’d take a short side trip to attend and experience a US GP. I had the choices of Washington DC on the 14th-16th (Limited), Seattle on 20th-23rd (Limited), or Dallas on 28th-30th (Modern). After some wrangling with the family’s schedule, Seattle was the one most convenient to go to, and Limited meant I didn’t have to try and put together a decent deck. (IDK how GP Dallas is going to go next weekend, given the problem in Modern that is Hogaak, so I guess I’m lucky I didn’t choose Dallas). Seattle was split over four days because instead of the regular day 1 and 2 for the main event, they had day 1A and 1B, and you could join either event or both to qualify for day 2. I chose to register for Saturday, Day 1A.

It turns out the limited format for GP Seattle was Modern Horizons, a set which was released on the weekend the US trip started. This meant I had no chance for any sort of practice beforehand, since the laptop I had was a Mac, which could not run MTGO. (Had the format been War of the Spark limited, I could have simply practiced at home during the trip).

So my first taste of Modern Horizons limited was the first Last-Chance Trial on Thursday. Before that all I had was reading and research and theorycrafting. I knew from all of that MH1 limited was a tough format with a lot of synergies to consider. With perhaps a bit too much arrogance, I assumed my basic limited skills and prep work could push me through.

Here’s the sealed pool I got for the LCT:

GP Seattle 2019 Last Chance Trial Sealed Pool

This sealed pool, like all the other MH1 pools I played, tends to pull you in different directions. I considered some kind of W/G since Hermit and Squirrel Nest are obviously a bomb, especially with Answered Prayers. But I also like Plague Engineer and the changelings and Etchings of the Chosen. In the end, I went with the WB, although it probably could have gone either way:

It was a decent choice; I won the first three rounds of the single-elimination trial, losing only at the finals to a quick blue-black ninja deck that had really good draws. Still, that was a satisfying first outing with MH1 limited, which boosted my confidence and gave me higher hopes for the main event.

I opted not to do a second trial, as I did not want to stay out too late. Instead I went back the next day (Friday the 21st), and played some Swiss Sealed. Here’s my pool:

I think the only real bomb here was the sword. For this limited format, I tended to prefer color pairs where I had one of the indicative uncommons or rares, so I decided to go G/W this time since I had Good-Fortune Unicorn. I don’t have a record of my decklist for this pool, but I do remember my curve wasn’t that good on the low end; I won the first round on the back of a Scale Up overrun, but lost the next 2 rounds due to being aggro’ed out and a bit of color screw. A bit discouraging, but I chalked it up to bad beats and kept my confidence for the main event.

Finally, the main event! I arrived on Saturday early, ready to face the challenge. Here’s the pool I opened:

Not too spectacular. Another sword (the better one, actually, since it stops black and red removal), some good rares, decent removal. White looked decent with Answered Prayers, On Thin Ice and Rhox Veteran, and red had some good removal, a few slivers and I had a Lavebelly, so I went W/R. The only problem with this build was that the creature count was a bit low, so I felt it wasn’t a good idea to play all the Answered Prayers. This is the build I ended up going with:

Unfortunately, things did not go well for our hero. I won a quick round 1, which got me time for a quick lunch. Unfortunately, the low creature count bit me in round 2, where I was unable to close out the third game despite having the sword and Answered Prayers out. Round 3 was against an aggressive Mardu deck; I lost a quick game one, and I almost stabilized in game two but lost to a 2/2 I couldn’t remove. I realized only after signing the match slip that I had two Lava Darts in the yard that I could flashback to stay alive. I beat myself up for a while over it, and had some food to psych myself up and avoid going on tilt, still hoping I could win the rest of the day. Unfortunately, my deck didn’t come to play in Round 4, giving me 14 lands drawn in the 3rd game, leading to an easy defeat. I sadly dropped out of the main event at 1-3.

Doing poorly at a GP always bums me out, especially when I had to travel for it. But I only had myself to blame for this one, since I came in with minimal experience with the format. I’m pretty sure my sealed deck build could have been more optimized too. I probably should have tempered my expectations and remind myself that Magic is a game of variance - skill only comes into play over a large number of events, and it’s unwise to expect to be able to spike any single given event. I decided to just leave early and come back the next day for my traditional post-GP drop Chaos Sealed.

Unfortunately, when I came back the next day, I found out Chaos Sealed was cancelled due to lack of products. Perfect end to an unfortunate weekend. Not to be undone, I decided to just do a MH1 draft, and I managed to win 2 rounds and split the finals to win a few more packs and at least end the weekend on a high note.

That was it for me playing Magic. I did enjoy the rest of the MagicFest though, there were some enjoyable panels and side stuff. There were a lot of artists in the artist alley (though I didn’t buy anything as usual), the usual cosplayers wandering about, and there was a really nice painting demo by Rob Alexander that I sat through on Friday. On Sunday, I watched this silly “Match game” event where the audience could win packs by trying to answer prompts and hoping they could match the answers by the panel made up of community personalities. I didn’t win anything, but I was entertained watching the thing before I went to do my draft.

This is the 2nd time I’ve played a CFB GP, the first one was GP London back in 2015, but this is the first time since they’ve been given a monopoly on GPs worldwide. I will admit to being a bit annoyrd at the higher entry fees for the events, and the fact that the prize wall items seem to be more expensive now too. The GP playmat used to be complimentary with main event entry too, this time I had to pay a bit extra for it. I guess there are a lot of expenses, but the costs are discouraging me from considering travel to future GPs. Also, I miss that system by ChainLinks (who used to manage the SEA GPs) where they give each player a lanyard for the weekend which could be used to enter events and tracks your dci number and prize points. For this GP, they gave out physical cards to represent your prize points, and this almost got me in trouble because I accidentally left them at the AirBNB when I headed out on Sunday and had to double back to get them. CFB also had online pairings, but I wish they did that thing where you could subscribe to an FB messenger bot that would message you automatically with your pairings. They did have some nice tech usage like having restaurant-style buzzers for on-demand events though.

After very time I do poorly at a GP, I ask myself whether I should quit playing Magic competitively. Or at least the travelling for GPs part. It is kind of a young man’s game after all. Anyway, Magic Arena gives me a good outlet for playing Magic competitively without leaving the comfort of home, so that helps. But it’s hard to say for sure, we’ll see where the future takes us.

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roytang.net is a personal site; I post about a random assortment of topics that interest me including software development, Magic the Gathering, pop culture, gaming, and tech life. This site is perpetually under renovation.