Hey carp

Jul. 16th, 2006 12:20 pm
A new Magic card you'd like. )
I'm decent at Magic. I'm not great, but I'm pretty good, and I know I can be better. But today I was defeated in part thanks to my Inner Ferrett. Or maybe a combination of Inner Bruce. (Both articles are about Magic, but dudes, you should read them anyway, because while they're ABOUT Magic, Magic's just the medium. Especially for Rizzo's. The rest of this is going to be about Magic, until the last little bit, so you could scroll to that if Magic bores you.)

Today, you see, was the state championship events for the Two-Headed Giant format in Magic, down in Richmond. It's a fun format, and not all that much pressure, really. Two players, build two decks from the cards you get, and then beat the stuffing out of other people. Me and the Zac(k/h)s went, and my friend Nik. We opened up cards that were okay but not really that good to register, and were glad to see the back of them when we were done. Then they came back. After looking and thinking and agonizing and bitching, we managed to assemble a pair of relatively not-bad decks. But not really that good, either. And so the tournament commenced. The first round, we got paired against Bennie Smith and a friend of his. It set things off on a poor note, because I drew all of five non-land cards, and Nik never got one of his lands, we got smashed. We didn't really expect otherwise. So winning the next two rounds was a bonus. Even if I was a bad player for part of the second match and didn't realize I could have been swinging to the face with my big dude, but we still won. And the third match, well, our decks just loved us and gave us exactly what we needed.

It was the fourth match where things came down to it. One of the opposing team was wearing a Pro Tour Hawaii competitor shirt, but I didn't worry about that. Even the pros can be beaten. Even better decks can be beaten. What beat us, really, was us. They had a Ghost Council, which is a pain in the ass. But we had a chance to get rid of it, but neither of us noticed it until after we'd already blown it. Poor communication, and playing too quickly without thinking things through. Nik had a Graven Dominator, which turns all dudes into 1/1 dudes when it comes into play, and the opponent had only the council and a flying dude. I had a Trophy Hunter, who can shoot flying dudes down, and Nik had a Viashino Fangtail, who can shoot any dude for 1. But the Trophy Hunter costs mana to use, and I'd jumped ahead and used all my mana to summon my big Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi. I could have shot the flying dude, then without the creature to sac to save the Council, Nik could have shot the Council, and we would have had a good chance of winning. Instead, we died. To the Ghost Council.

And then since we were all x-2, we dropped and drove home. Which concludes the Magic portion of this post.

The most frustrating part of the loss in round 4 was I saw the move we should have done just after we were done. If I'd spent the time to stop and think things out, instead of just going "Yay! I can play my dude!" like I'd decided to do beforehand, since I knew the dude was coming up, we probably could have won. And if I'd talked with Nik about the play and we'd taken our time, we probably would have seen it. But I wanted to go "YAY! I PLAY MY D00D!" and my mind was running behind the game. It's one of my weaknesses in other areas of life too, I always think of what I should have said or done, anywhere between ten minutes and a day after I've already screwed it up. I need to learn to think faster, and ahead. But not into the future, think ahead enough that my brain's keeping up with Now, and can guess where Now is going.

I'm not quite sure how to do that. Oh, I have ideas for Magic. For example, JamieW used to have a rule, play the game with a D4, and every time you make a mistake, crank it up 1. If you get to 4, count it as a loss, even if you win. Because you screwed up, and in a good game, any mistake can cost you the game. Practice is all there is to it. But most of life isn't as easy to practice as Magic, and if you screw it up, you don't just reshuffle and get ready for Game 2.
Nothing really deep here. I like the B/W Orzhov guild, and the crazy token deck I built from the precon is loads of fun and doesn't suck. Spirits and bats and wizards. And the little plastic ninja I use as tokens.

And I also got my new Player Rewards cards from Wizards. Ignore the FAQ on that page, the available cards haven't been updated in like a year. I got 2 textless Putrefys, a textless Pyroclasm, and a textless Giant Growth. All with pretty art. And I got my 4th Hypnotic Specter finally, this one the shiny DCI one they give you after you play in 20 tournaments. He's sweet and shiny, with the old art. Man, I need to start going to Friday Night Magic again.
Because there was more to GP Richmond than not saying hi to [livejournal.com profile] theferrett. Though this is almost all Magic, so the non-players may be bored. Except for the bit where we got lost. And I realize it's slightly confusing, but the guys I went with are really named Zach and Zack. At least they're spelled differently.

Me and my friend Zach drove down Friday, for the Last Chance Qualifier thingie, which was Ravnica/Guildpact Sealed. The drive was much more relaxing than when we drove down for the Prerelease, other than the non-enforced speed limit, we didn't break any traffic regulations or almost die once. Knowing how to get to the Richmond Convention Center helped. It's a nice place, but frustratingly lacking in things like, oh, signs. Or people who knew where the event was. It wasn't in the same room as the Prerelease had been. We wandered and started following some fellow nerds who looked like they knew where they were going. You can always tell the nerds around Magic events, groups of 20ish guys, all wearing backpacks. Like college students, but even paler and a lot less women. A big group of other guys came down one escalator and followed us, probably figuring we knew where we were going. After all, there were people where we were heading.

Which just turned out to be a bunch of people for some kind of soccer convention or show. Lots of women there, definitely not the Magic event. So the whole mass of us turned around, and headed down toward where the Prerelease had been, but as I said, dead end. Turned out it was in the other building across the street, and was quite obvious once we got there. Nice big vinyl signs saying "Magic Grand Prix Richmond". Woulda been nice if they'd been somewhere other than just right outside the room we needed to get to, though.

I opened and registered nothing much. My deck I got passed was much better, I ended up playing 4 colors, with most of my rares. I had a Sacred Foundry, Char, signets, bouncelands, and the Sand-Dweller Nephilhim, who gives you ridiculous numbers of dudes when he hits somebody. He never did, but he sure drew attention, and was in the 4 colors I was playing, so why the hell not? I have the cards to the deck around somewhere, but I took it apart so I don't remember the exact contents. I won the first two rounds with it, the first round was at the first seat, against some guy wearing a Pro Tour Competitor shirt from PT Nagoya. Of course, after an opening like 2-0, I had to start talking about it, which doomed me to go 0-2 in the next two rounds, so I dropped, since it was 12:30 am and a 40ish minute drive to our other friend's apartment to crash. Zach went 0-2, and has since sworn off Sealed. I can't blame him, he's never had any good luck with it. He ended up getting in a side draft, with [livejournal.com profile] theferrett. My excuse then was you don't interrupt a man when he's drafting. Which is true.

A bunch of the Japanese pros had flown in, 'cause the prize money at a Grand Prix is pretty good. If you win, anyway. They came in while I was playing in round 1, at table 1, so I got to watch them get greeted by some of the guys who knew them. Including one guy who yelled across the room. And I got to watch a little of them playing with some other American pros on another table, for fun or money or something. It was weird though, because they played crazy fast, from all the practice and knowing the other player was a good player, they didn't have to ask about most things, just assume the other player was a good player and would make the good player moves. Throwing cards down, tapping all the land at once, etc. Wouldn't play that way in the actual tourney I'd figure, just because there'd be too much chance of getting a technical call for tapping mana late or something from a judge. And the thousands of dollars potentially on the line. Still, markedly different than watching scrubs like me play, who make bad plays all the time

So anyway, the three of us decided not to bother going to the GP itself the next day. That way we could sleep in and get breakfast. Food is important. We learned that after the Guildpact Prerelease, when we went all day without eating. Being hungry makes you suck at playing. And if you get dehydrated too, you can get sick when you eat. Well, I can anyway. The three of us went to Denny's, where we had to wait like twenty minutes, even though they had plenty of empty tables. Maybe they didn't have enough servers, or maybe they just hated us. I said we shoulda gone to Waffle House. We were in the South after all, you can tell because you start to see Waffle Houses. Well, among other things.

We got there around noon, and me and Zach started drafting. Zack didn't draft at all, he just traded, including most of his duals for an Ancestral Recall and some Mana Drains. Dude. I have no interest in old formats like Vintage and Type 1, so that seems crazy to me, but I guess it makes him happy. And the "Dude, I have Power 9, look," factor I guess. Zack's more a collector than me. I just like to play.

Zach won one of the drafts, and got 3rd in another and scrubbed out of a third. Me, I scrubbed out of one and got 3rd/4th in two, so netted four packs, plus the cards from the drafts. I always feel weird drafting Ravnica, 'cause there's so much good stuff, I hate passing all the other cards. Still, I bet my rating went up a little bit, just because most of the people there were probably better players than me, with higher rating than my hair over 1600.

The other thing I found out over the weekend? I can open crazy stuff for other people. But not for me. Like Friday, Zach bought four packs, I opened two of them, both had Rumbling Slums. And he got the W/B dual from the other. Then later on, Zack bought a fat pack, I picked up one of them and said "here, I'll open you a dual." Yeah. The R/G one. Opened another, Burning Tree Shaman. Dude. Best things I actually opened all weekend were a Quicken from one pack and a Firemane Angel in my last draft. Which I had to take, she's just too sexy. And I got passed crazy red stuff the whole stuff. But not crazy enough to deal with my opponent who had an Ursapine and Golgari Rotwurm and other nice fatties. Never even got to cast her. The draft I scrubbed out in, I lost mainly because my inner Timmy demanded I pick the Blazing Archon, then the Authochron Wurm. That worked about as well as you'd expect. Heh.

We had to leave early on Saturday, because Zack had a date. Psh. Coulda gotten at least one more draft in. But it let me get back in time to play a little bit of D&D last night. Then come home and post this and dink around the house.

So what'd you folks do with your weekends?
Playing D&D last night, the other mage in our party got hit by a specifically targeted version of the Silence spell. Which I then dubbed "Power Word: STFU."

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, gas prices? Now, I know the almost $4 prices right after Katrina were just price gouging (whatever happened to government investigations into that sort of thing?) but gas was down to $2.199 (repeating) today. Of course, US gas prices have always been below the actual cost, once you include all the environmental effects from burning gasoline. But the oil companies have been extremely successful at shifting those onto the public.

Why is it so bloody hard to get 8 people who're willing to pay $3 to play in a Magic tournament? Haven't had one in the past two weeks. Part of it I'm sure is the poor scheduling at the store, and how things have gone downhill since I quit, but still. I'd be tempted to so somewhere else, but anywhere else would require a lot more driving and screw with scheduling for D&D. At least I got to trade for stuff for my decks, now if only I had more chance to, y'know, play them. But trading in Magic gives a perfect example of economics, including supply and demand, different relative values, marginal values, and so on. Well, at least if you're nerdy enough to think about it that way, which I definitely am.

If there's one thing I'm sort of learning it's that I'm never a representative sample of anything except me. And not always even then.

Also, by being out of the house from Thursday till today, I spoiled my unbroken streak of posting something, no matter how random, to LJ every day. Ohnoes!
But y'know, there's something odd about reading reports on Magic forums where somebody goes "heres my deck list i got second at states lol. [Decklist] rnd1: some scrub, 2-0. etc."

The disconnect between the intelligence needed to play Magic well and the ability to type in coherent sentences is just astounding.

It shouldn't be, since I was on IRC back when #mtgpro was infamous, but still. Dudes. Seriously. LEARN TO FREAKING SPELL. You don't have to be Jamie Wakefield, just write something coherent and interesting. At least give us some examples of what happened, tell us more about the deck, what you did and why. With capital letters. They don't bite. Really.
Um, yeah. Wizards of the Coast says they found the lost third set of the Ice Age block. In all the time I've played Magic, I've never heard of this before. But they're going to print it, and make it T2 legal. Um.

It's not April 1st, so I imagine it's true, it's just BIZARRE. I don't know if I think it's a good thing or a bad thing or what yet. It's just a thing. A strange one.

Though watching the mix of whining and "OMG KEWLZORZ!" on the WotC fora is amusing.
Today was the Ravnica release event at the local hobby store.

Details inside, so as not to bore the non-Magic people )

And I went on IRC for Magic because I was geeking, and heard the best use for the Pro Tour Player cards. Nobody wanted them at the store, so I ended up with a bunch. Use them for tokens. I should snagged them all. "I attack with Kai, Dave, and Terry." Heh.
I got my first batch of Magic Player Rewards cards in the mail today. They're pretty! I got textless Hinder, Pyroclasm, Terror, and a spirit token. Plus the nifty clear plastic DCI card, though I think I'm gonna hang on to my old Mana Membership cardboard thing too, just 'cause I've had it for like eight years now. I wish the local shop had actually run some tournaments in the past like, two months. (There's either been not enough people, or the person supposed to be running them wasn't here, or...) 'cause then I'd have probably gotten a third set of cards. And maybe even the shiny Hypnotic Spectre. I haven't seen it yet, but me want. I hope it has the old art. The new art is really cool, but it looks like a Nazgul, and looks a LOT bigger than 2/2.
Just go read this old article from the Duelist. Mind Over Magic It's got a lot of ideas in it that are similar to ones I've been poking at. A good chunk of everything is decided by the "inner game" like if you bother to even try in the first place. Which I must admit I'm not the best at, but it's another of those life lessons I've picked up from that silly game.

And I think I have that issue of the Duelist around somewhere still.
If you don't play Magic, don't worry about this, it won't matter much to you.

But apparently, there's a book coming out about Jon Finkel. I never met Finkel, even on IRC, and I'm sure there's plenty of moments that'll make anybody who's played Magic wince, but still.

Though I have to admit the marketoid-speak on that page makes me not want to. But that's not the author's fault, marketoids do that. To everything. Marketoids can make anything sound as unappealing as "Thrilling, edgy, and ferociously feel-good, the odyssey of these underdogs-turned-overlords is the stuff of pop-culture legend. And David Kushner, acclaimed author of Masters of Doom, masterfully deals out the outrageous details while bringing to life a cast of characters rife with aces, kings, knaves . . . and more than a few jokers. If you secretly believe every player has his day, you’re right. Here’s the proof. "

[EDIT: There's a review over at Star City.]

Technorati Tags: Books, Gaming, Nifty Stuff, Magic, Nifty Stuff, Geekery
Magic is a head-to-head battle of wits in which two spellcasting warriors fight to the death with magic and armies of bad-ass creatures. Every card illustration should work in that context: active, aggressive, cool, wicked, “edgy.” The word “magepunk” works for us. Remember, your audience is BOYS 14 and up."

Excerpted here, from the Magic Style Guide. Cripes. If I'd read that description of Magic, I'd have never played it.
Because I can.


Now those are NICE Plains and Islands.

Also, SHINY!

Dual lands. W00t!

I don't know about how well it'll play, but the new set looks PRETTY!

Technorati Tags: SHINY!, Nifty Stuff, Gaming, Magic
(Continuing, basically, from here, which is a loosely fictionalized series of conversations between me and a buddha. It bears about as much resemblance to reality as most webcomics with the author's friends as the cast. Which, basically means I'm not telling.)

Things had gone quiet for a little while. Because I wasn't talking, and the buddha was sitting there, with the smug patience of somebody who's seen this movie before. He probably wasn't trying to be irritating, which made it more irritating. You know the kind of mood I mean. And if I called him on it, he'd probably say something about infinite compassion interpreted through the flawed lenses of the senses or whatever. Or I was in a funk. And tired.

I moved some of the piled up clothes to the end of the bed, rather than getting hangers or any of that crap. They're the "not really dirty, but too lazy to hang up" pile, after all. Then I took the Magic cards outside and put them in my trunk, so I'd have them there the next time I went to play somewhere. The buddha declined to go along, and I didn't invite him, so that worked out well. He was still in my chair when I got back, though. "Okay," I said, after I flopped down on the open space on my bed, "I need something else to call you, besides "the buddha", 'cause every time I do that, I picture this little slightly chubby bald Indian guy. And it's too confusing with the capital non-capital letters thing."

"Your language isn't set up very well for the metaphysics of non-self and malleable incarnations," he said.

"It can get by, but you have to use words in special meanings, which confuses the hell out of people who aren't thinking in that paradigm, or don't know the meanings of the technical terms. And then there's some that's just incredibly vague, like Mind. What the hell IS mind, anyway?"

"A false distinction."

"I'm not gonna call you Steve. Or Frank. Since I know people with those names. And Bob's out, 'cause Bob the Buddha sounds like a PBS kids show. Beeblebrox would work, if I was certain enough of how to pronounce it. You don't seem like an Arthur. Maybe I should do the bash my hand on the keyboard thing to make a name."

"Any name you bestow will not change the fundamental nature of things. It's just something to assist your interpretation."

"I'm lazy, I like to make things easier for me. And I'm stalling for time, because I'm already grumpy."

He stayed silent, which was probably less cosmic wisdom than basic people skills. "I dunno," I said, "Every name I think of has meanings attached that don't fit. They'd morph to fit, eventually, but. So, fine, you want to talk about failure? Fine, let's, I've got plenty of experience with it."

That sure seemed to come out more bitter than I planned. "Yet, you don't seem very practiced with dealing with it."

"Oh, what, I should be happy I screwed up?" I stood up and hopped around in mock cheer, "Hurray! I screwed up totally! I completely failed at what I was doing! Oooh, I know, I can learn from this, and the lesson is don't be a screwup! Wow! Hey, what an insight! If I don't make mistakes, I won't fail! If I don't act like an idiot, I won't ruin things! Wow! How deep!"

He shook his head, his hair flopping around. It didn't look like a halo or anything, just hair. "Some say that everything happens to teach us something. I know you don't believe that, so save your protests. Regardless, you can learn from failure, and it's only when you don't that it becomes worthless."

I flopped back on the bed. "Yeah, great. More cliches. Those don't do a damn thing to make me feel better, you know."
He nodded. "Of course. That's one of the reasons for the koans and other things, because they're supposed to make you think, and realize things, rather than being brushed off as 'just another cliche'."

"Maybe, but they're cliches now too. Maybe words just aren't good at some things, at least all the time. Different ones work for different people, I guess. So."

"So indeed," he said, "Is there any way to do this without sounding like a psychologist?"

"I could just talk, I guess, but I hate talking about me. I'm boring, and it tends to get repetitive with the 'and then I screwed up, and it went to poop."


"Well, sometimes there's the 'And then I screwed up, screwed up, and screwed up, and THEN it went to poop.' Or the ever-popular 'And then I gave up because I was going to screw up and go all to poop.'"

"Failure is transitory and fleeting, like everything in this illusion of life. Except for nothing, which we all are."

"What's the difference between Buddhism and nihilism again? So what, is Karma just memory then, since a lot of the time, the things you remember and regret and weigh on you are things nobody else would remember or care about?"

"You could look at it that way. It wouldn't be accurate, but you could. If you let go your concern for this world of becoming, failure wouldn't bother you."

"Gee, thanks, Yoda," I said, "That's right up there in Worst Screen Advice Ever. 'Caring stop, and hurt you won't be.' Little green idiot. Besides, even if I believed that, it wouldn't make things easier, or failure less scary. Especially when it's something stupid that shouldn't matter."

"Like Magic."

"Yes, like Magic. I should have done better than that, and now I don't care so much. Because I keep finding out I'm not as good as I should be. Or at least I think I should be."

"Practice would seem to be in order, rather than just giving up."

"Easier to say than do," I said, "Because if you try there's the chance of failure."

"And if you don't, it's certain."

"Enough with the cliches already, geeze. They don't get any less annoying the more you use them. Even if they are basically true. Yeah, I know, I'm the one always saying 'Just ask, the worst they can say is no,' so this is kinda hypocritical, or something of me. So."

"The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."

"No, it's mostly the spirit. And that was just to annoy me, wasn't it?"

"It seems to motivate you."

"Feh," I said, "Feh I say. It's not that easy anyway, the whole college thing and everything else. Of course, when I try and do something random that I figure I can do well, to build up the ego and all, I either screw it up like I did with Magic, or I convince myself it doesn't matter, because it's random. So that tends not to work."

"Well, you could always get a date."

"Yeah, right," I said, but he was already gone. I don't think he does the Batman thing, I bet he cheats with magic or something.

Previously, on X-Men:
Stories from the Rabbit Hole
Stories from the Rabbit Hole, Part 2
There's a Buddha on My Bed
A Discussion of Procrastination and Buddhism
Haven't Seen Him in a While
The Illusion of Pain
Stuff that Binds
The Joy of Scrubdom

Technorati Tags: Mindscribbles, Rabbit Hole, Magic
"Well, that sucked," I said, and threw my backpack on the bed.

"Not a good trip, I take it?" the buddha asked, in my spinny chair AGAIN.

"What're you doing in my chair?" I asked, "Isn't it just an illusion and distraction from Enlightenment or somesuch?"

"It's a comfortable illusion. And your bed is covered in stuff."

"Whatever," I said, and dropped down on top of a random pile of clothes on my bed. "No, it wasn't a good trip. First we got lost, and drove through DC because nobody was willing to turn around and go back to the turn we missed. And the tournaments both sucked. I can play better than that. 1-4 in Regionals, and then lose in the second round of a bloody booster draft. My deck was good, too. Sheesh. I suck. Why did I bother to go?"

"Was it all just about winning?"

"I didn't trade much, 'cause I suck at it. And so most of it was just to hang around and play Magic, and that's no fun when it sucks. Especially when my deck should have done better than that, and I should have done better than that. But no, I decided to scrub out. So got nothing to show for it, not even rares from the booster draft, 'cause I was an idiot and never drafted any rares. And lost to one of the ones I passed. Whee, a waste of a day."

"If people are going to win a game, other people have to lose. Sometimes you'll be both."

"344th out of 380? That's PATHETIC. Why did I bother? Guess I'm a worse player than I thought. And no, I'm not gonna make excuses,'cause it's my own fault for how I did. Feh."

He spun in the chair. "You're not big on failure, are you?"

"Who is? You fail, you don't get what you want, and bad things happen. Failing sucks. And it happens because you screwed up, or suck, or forgot something, or the universe just hates you. What's the good side? Oh yeah, learn from failure! Whee! I learned that I suck at Magic more than I thought! Woo! What a learning experience! I learned to get more than 4 hours sleep before doing mentally challenging things. I learned not to let people drive when they didn't sleep at all! Woo! That's SO HELPFUL!"

"I'll take that as a no. And not much good at dealing with it, either. Shit happens."

"That's not a fortune cookie."

"Cliches are nuggets of wisdom. In the same way that diamonds are nuggets of carbon."
I sat up. "That doesn't even make any sense."

"So you had two bad tournaments, and you're convinced you suck and ready to quit Magic for a while? How are you supposed to win then?"
"I probably won't."
He nodded sagely. "Ah, I see then. So it's simply everything else where you don't know how to deal with failure."

"What are you, a therapist?"

"Broadly speaking, it could be put that way."

I stood up. "So what, now you're trying to psychoanalyze me and find the subconcious root of my problems or something? Or get me to find them?"
(To be continued)

Stories from the Rabbit Hole
Stories from the Rabbit Hole, Part 2
There's a Buddha on My Bed
A Discussion of Procrastination and Buddhism
Haven't Seen Him in a While
The Illusion of Pain
Stuff that Binds



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