Team Moo rolled into the Windy City yesterday to represent the West Bend Magic community at The TCGplayer MaxPoint Diamond Open. Though we did not make the Final 8 it was a great experience all around. This game is so competitive, sometimes it can be frustrating as well as invigorating. It cannot be a stretch to say every player has experienced the roller coaster of excitement in victory and agony of defeat. As cliché as it may be, one should not lose sight of the fact that Magic is a game of fantasy and imagination. So many players I ran into yesterday really seem to have forgotten this all-important fact. MTG is a game, and taking the game too seriously just makes it work. If work is all MTG is too you, well there are easier ways to make a buck.
Caleb brought his “new and improved” Golgari deck that had passed play testing and seemed ready to go. Bret removed Courser of Kruphix from his Green Blitz deck to give it that extra “pin your ears back” all-out attack. Stephen brought the best of 3 colors together for Jund. I gave it my best shot with an hybrid Azorius control strategy that I was comfortable with and play tested well. We were mentally prepared for the worst and best that could happen.
Almost 400 players descended on Chicago to give the event and its $1500 top prize a shot. They came from all over the Midwest, I had an interesting conversation with 2 bearded fellows from Owensboro, KY who were actually vendors from a card shop there. I recognized a few faces from FNM in Menomonee Falls and others from Pink Bunny in Milwaukee. Unfortunately, “friendly competition” is not a concept many were familiar with. Generously, you could say these guys (and a few gals) came to play.
So to start the day (at 6am) I loaded the last minute items into the van, my IPod, a big cooler with water bottles and other beverages, and punched in the address to my GPS. The team arrived by 7am and we were on the road shortly thereafter, only 1 real no show and one other team member sick with the flu (though admittedly, this whole trip was Adam’s idea). The ride down was smooth and conversation stuck pretty closely to the business at hand, how to give our best. We arrived at the Hyatt Regency right around 9 and coughed up $13 to park in the tower a little down the road. I mention this just to demonstrate that this was a real, physical tournament and not a “roll out of bed and play in jammies on the computer” kind of day.
I got separated from the team and spent far too long wandering around the hotel looking for the event, though I should have realized right away that they would want to stick a bunch of stinky, disheveled magic players in the basement. Caleb texted me to say that this was indeed where they were and I had to quickly write out my decklist by hand to get in line. The line to the registration table took us past a half dozen vendor’s tables, reminding me what a money-rending scam magic really is at its core but no matter. For some inexplicable reason, we had to all sit at assigned seats just to give the judges our decklists. I got to sit right across from a pimply, overfed jerk who was not there to have fun, just make everyone miserable with his narcissism.
Luckily, my first match was with a cool guy named Dave. Short, muscular, short-bearded he was playing W/B enchantments and quickly knocked me out with [[Hero of Iroas]] and several bestow creatures that made me lose life just by attacking. I was mana short and could only manage a “too little, too late” [[Supreme Verdict]] before going down 0-1. Next game, same thing, land was just not coming. I got a detention sphere on the hero but was just overwhelmed by weenies. Dave wished me luck and gave me some appreciated advice. Then Brandon was wielding a Boros deck, I don’t remember much that he did but I was land-short again. Ugh, 0-2 on the day without even putting up much of a fight. Time to hit the bar.
I don’t remember the next guy’s name, he was pretty cool though. After 2 guildgates hit the board I was starting to think he wasn’t serious, then [[Maze’s End]] hit and I understood. Okay, no creatures or other threats, just stall, stall, stall, while he dug gates out. First game, with all my removal and such I could not get pressure fast enough to get ahead of his land drops. Second and third though after sideboarding I was in the driver’s seat, especially when [[Gideon, Champion of Justice]] hit the board only 11 counters away from nuking all the gates away. With more creatures and more counterspells, including a very active [[Ephara, God of the Polis]] I was able to secure a 2-1 victory.
My fourth opponent could have been Paul Rudd’s dorky younger brother. He was gunning hexproof creatures with potent auras. I had enough non-targeting spells to destroy or bounce them but I made some unforced errors and went down. One and three is disheartening. Okay, officially out of contention but I still wanted to get as much experience as I could before getting too tired. Next up was the flip side of my coin, U/B control/mill against a guy who was more burned out than anyone I met that day. I think his name was Matt and he scored immediate cool points by offering me a piece of gum, I forgot mine and really needed it. This match went all the way to the end of the round and was interesting enough that I think Matt perked up a little here and there. I probably would have remembered less of this match if I had not won. [[Sphinx’s Revelation]] was definitely the star of that show.
It was a good match, even Matt said that was the matchup he was looking for in this tournament, I was kind of pumped. Not to the point I was at the start of the day, but a little enthusiasm was back. So when the team got together in the hall for a caucus on what to do now that we were all out of the running, I had a hard time deciding. Not sure what time it was, but I knew my stomach was gurgling it’s discontent. Considering we ended up at Gino’s eventually, I should have just given in to the need for deep dish and pitchers of beer. Especially when I sat down across from Jabba the Hutt…
Maybe I will continue this later, when I am in a better mood.