Friday, October 14, 2011

Back and Better Than Ever!

It has been a while since I've updated the old blogspot. I've been busy and a lot has happened since the last post. First, my uncle passed away and we had tons of family in for the wake and funeral. Also, my cousin had his reaffirmation of his wedding vows, and had a much-to-do about the entire thing, so plenty of family functions rolled into that event as well.

As for me, I've spent plenty of my time hanging with the wife and kid, preparing for the completion of our new house here in Florida. It has been a year since I started this blog and tons happened since. Since moving, I've gone through two design jobs, very happy with the second one, and have began teaching again. I have also since had tons of time to exercise and work out. I've lost around 30 pounds, reduced my waist size and upped my bench press. I'm actually lifting free-weights again for the first time since high school. The house stuff has been amazing. I just feel so blessed to be able to find a new home we really like and am happy we got approved. Fingers crossed it all works out in the long run.

I'm also illustrating again after a long 6 month hiatus. I have been averaging an illustration in about a week and half for the last 6 weeks or so. My goal is to get enough new pieces posted on my portfolio site to submit to Wizards of the Coast to see if I can generate any kind of freelance work. Regardless of which game I'd be able to illustrate for but obviously Magic the Gathering would be the ideal game but I do not think I'm there just yet.

And to segue into Magic the Gathering...

Since last I posted I was on a decent run with Standard FNMs. I had a good 4-0-1 finish with Eldrazi Gree, 4-1 with Valakut , 3-2 (?) with Boros, I went 5-0 with Exarch/Twin then 3-2 with the Big Red One decklist. A lot has happened so lets discuss the last month of Magic.

Not really brewing up any Standard decks I decided to take a stab at EDH. I heavily modifed the Kaalia the Vast pre-con deck. I took out all the jank and threw in as many good demons, angels and dragons I could find in my binders. The thing I love about the deck is if you can get Kaalia out early, you can start the beatdown as early as turn 3 and just drop dragon after angel after demon and just fuck somebody up!

I took the EDH deck for a whirl at the first week of the Commander League at Coliseum of Comics here in Lakeland. Mind you, this is the first time I've ever played the format considering I fucking HATE the format. I'd rather just play all the awesome casual games that I did back home, with real competitive decks, not just random janky cards that can somehow combo. Yuck.

Round 1 of my maiden EDH League I was playing against the Group Hug Pheldagriff deck, two GWB Ghave decks, and a RWU deck with the new female Antelope chick as its general. This game is stupid. My mana is fixed with my awesome lands, I hit a Sol Ring into some signet action and I have Lightning Greaves in hand. I ramp, play Greaves and am attacking with Kaalia turn 3 hasty and bringing in a Red Akroma. I chop the Antelope General a quarter of his life, then in half and by the time he is at like 14 from 40 life, me bringing in all types of Angels and Demons, some kid Hex's my team and O-Rings my Greaves. Then another kid infinite combos with Ghave and Ashnod's alter to make a gazillion gazillion/gazillion dudes. See that dice? That's a gazillion. Wow. I am next and need to draw into a Wrath of God/Damnation type effect. I draw tons of cards off a multi-player draw spell and am one mana short of hard casting Blazing Archon to at least save my life for a turn. I don't get there. Neither does the other three guys and we die. The kid that wins I've played many times in FNM and gives me Second Out (+2 points) for picking on his boy for no reason but the fact he was behind on board position the turns I was fucking everybody up. The way I look at it is this, if a player looks weak on board you must get him out ASAP. Once he is bleeding  let him just bleed out. Period (no pun intended). Multi-player is like being in a shark tank. The first to get scratched should die first if he can't stabilize on his own. If it wasn't for a timely Hex, an O-Ring and Aura Shards, I would have eaten that kid's face and the dude next to him. Oh well. Some of the guys at the table felt pity for him. I say, "Fuck him." If he can't defend himself he shouldn't be playing in a group game. And the Group Hug deck was hooking him up with mana AND cards and he still couldn't stop my enormous beatdown. It took 3 guys to stop me. Fuckers.

Round 2 I am up against a Mono-Black EDH deck (I forgot the general), a Rafiq of the Many deck, a Aniwar the elemental dude, and another Ghave deck (but this kid bounced 3 turns in because his ride was leaving or some such). It basically becomes a 4 way game and I begin the beatings yet again with a turn 3 Kaalia into turn 4 Kaalia swinging with White Akroma into Bogardan Hellkite into Iona, Shield of Emeria. Somebody Wraths the Board after I get the Aniwar kid into single digits with lethal on board next turn. After the Wrath, Rafiq stabilizes with a Meddling Mage naming Kaalia, a Gadock Teeg (which shuts down my Wraths) and a Lifeforce (which shuts down the Massacre Wurm in hand and the Mono-Black player). Even after bad attacks into my first striking man-land which kills Teeg, he luck sacks into Loxodon Warhammer and like triple Exalts Rafiq for something stupid like 22 damage. I'm dead in two turns, but this is after the one kids scoops and the Mono-Black player (who played horribly) gets owned. I'm Third Out and end the night with 5 Points.

I thought EDH would be more fun but it turns out it kinda sucks. I hate the deck building process and the totaly randomness of it all. Of course you can fix your draws with tutor effects and draw spells but it just doesn't feel the same as playing with modified 60 card Spike decks we used to play with back home. I preferred the Spikey kitchen table group games over fucking EDH. I may go back one day since Rafiq is a sick general to build around. So is Gadock Teeg, Isamaru Hound of Konda and Uril the Mistwalker. I may take another stab. Kaalia was awesome but she draws way too much heat your way if you can get an early beatdown. EDH is political war and I played Germany in both my games. I'm not surprised I won since there was no Italy or Japan to back me up and the Allies just ganged up on me for being so dominate.

The following day I wanted to chillax with Phoenix but my dad said he'd watch him and urged me to go out and play some Magic. Since Lakeland Coliseum was having draft, that meant I was playing FNM Standard at Armada Games for the night. I got off of work a little early, got some Starbucks and took a drive to Tampa to play with a better, more dedicated metagame.

I didn't have a chance to build a new Standard deck since I pride myself on playing something new each FNM (since my playing days are limited I like to try new decks out). I had UR SplinterTwin ready to beat face. It was pretty much the same deck I rocked weeks back when I went 5-0. I knew I wouldn't do that well since this meta is much more challenging.

Round 1 I play against Red Deck Wins and get stomped Game 1. I was digging for combo pieces and never revealed what I was playing. Game 2 I controlled the game but misplayed Exarch on my turn. I got greedy, played to quickly for my own good, and just punted the game away when I had the on board. I was so mad at myself and that spelled out the rest of the evening. 0-2/0-1

Round 2 I play against a Weenie White Knights deck that comes out very aggro and comes out swinging. I stabilize with bounce effects and counter magic then combo on him handedly. Game 2 an early Pyroclasm takes all the wind out of his sails and I combo in good order. 2-0/1-1

This guy was a nice guy for sure and we played some side games after the fact. He rocked Eldrazi Green and I play Valakut which I used to curbstomp him 2-0. His deck was very casual and not an optimal build in my humble opinion.

Round 3 I played against a UG Vengevine deck that I liked so much I ended up building it myself. I was actually looking to build this deck prior but did not have the chance. I'll get into it shortly.

Game 1 he gets an early Fauna Shaman which I can't interact with and runs me over with Vengevines and Phyrexian Metamorphs. I am a turn from comboing because I have a mountain, Twin and Exarch in hand and a mountain in play. He decides to Shaman out an Acidic Slime to blow up my first mountain and I never get back in the game. He does slow roll a Frost Titan for fear of Mana Leak. When he goes for it I do have the Leak. Although I lost the game he never saw the combo so I had that as an advantage game 2.

Game 2 I am able to stabilize the early game with Pyroclasms killing his Birds of Paradise, Lotus Cobra and Nest Invaders. This becomes a long out drawn out attrition match but he gets on the killing my Islands this game and I have a hard time drawing anything. I do get a pair of Inferno Titans but they both get freaking Flashfrozen and I just lose the game. I do make a critical play mistake but I can't remember what it was. I think it revolved around a Dismember. 0-2/1-2 Drop

All in all that night sucked big time because my heart wasn't in it. I didn't really like the community there since they are mostly Magic snobs. I feel I will never go back to play FNM again. I did get to watch an all foil Cube Draft which was awesome.

A few weeks ago I was able to build the UG Vengevine deck but I added Birthing Pod. I sleeved it up and took it for a spin at Lakeland Coliseum. Here is what I played:

UG Birthing Pod:
Acidic Slime x 3
Micotic Slime x 2
Frost Titan x 2
Wurmcoil Engine x 1
Seagate Oracle x 3
Pilgrim's Eye x 1
Birds of Paradise x 4
Llanowar Elves x 3
Sylvan Ranger x 1
Viridian Emissary x 1
Phyrexian Metamorph x 4
Vengevine x 4
Fauna Shaman x 4
Birthing Pod x 4
Misty Rainforest x 4
Terramorphic Expanse x 1
Halimar Depths x 3
Tectonic Edge x 3
Forests x 7
Islands x 5

Dismemberment x 3
Beast Within x 4
Obstinate Baloth x 3
Flashfreeze x 4
Acidic Slime x 1

Round 1: Aaron playing RB Midrange
I've played Aaron before and he's a nice guy and know as much about the professional metagame as I do. I've since learned he's built a UR Splinter Twin deck just as I 2-0'd him the last time we met at FNM.

Round 2: George playing UW Midrange
George and his rogue decks curb stomp me to death. I think I'm 2-2 against George at FNMs.

Round 3: Adrian (not sure?) playing GW Infect
This is the kid that would accidentally shuffle his entire hand into his deck after searching up Squadron Hawks. Goes to show you that a good deck like Caw-Blade takes an excellent pilot to succeed with it.

Round 4: Christian playing Mono-Black Midrange
I've chatted with Christian regarding his Mono-Black deck and he's taken some of my advice. He is getting better as a player and deck builder.

A bunch of us get 3-1 and I get first place for beating all the other guys at 3-1. I get a buy-a-box Surgical Extraction foil promo to complete my set and 7 NPH packs. I pack absolutely nothing and trade away extra rares for a Myr Superion and Thrun the Last Troll.

With all the house stuff looming I don't get a chance to play much Magic.

Fast forward a few months...

Before Innistrad comes out and my beloved Zendikar block rotates I give Vampire a whirl at FNM. Its a typical stock list and I end up going 3-1 or 4-1. I forgot. I get like 4th place and pack some crap from M12. As with every rotation I tend to lose interest in Magic all together and Fantasy Football season is starts (which I am currently 4-1 and about to lose to my boy who I made and epic mis-trade too. gah).

M12 has come and gone AND Innistrad is now out. Standard has a brand new face. I have a brand new house and take the last few months moving everything into it. It has been a crazy transition and I feel like we'll never been 100% moved in. I still have stuff lingering around my folks house.

There are a few decks I want to try out but I refuse to go and get the money cards like Snapcaster Mage ($30) and new sexy Liliana ($70).

Decks to build and test:
1. New Caw-Blade, which I will call Ghost Blade since it uses Midnight Haunting as it advantage
2. Non-Liliana Solar Flare (Reanimator)
3. Green Blade
4. Jund Mimic Vat
5. UG Birthing Pod
6. Grand Architect Blue
7. MUC
8. GW Elesh Norn Aggro
9. Quicksilver Green
10. UR Phoenix Control (Counter Burn Strategy)

Hopefully I'll have decklists available and have a chance to test. But my urge to play this awesome game called Magic: The Gathering has been waning recently. I'd rather just chill with Phoenix on Friday nights.

Lastly, I won a deck building competition on the MTG Brainstorm Podcast and have since casted once and agreed to join the team. I'll let you know how that goes.

Until next time...

Peace and Blessings.


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