Friday, March 09, 2012

It's the Magic: Standardized

New Hotness
The guy I'm currently seeing doesn't know much about Magic, but did express an interest in playing. So last week, before driving up to Austin to see him, I made a pair of well-matched beginner decks. I could have gone for starter decks, but opted for something more interactive.

Fight on Delivery - With plenty of massive, vanilla creatures and a fistful of X-cost removal spells in the form of Fireball, Savage Twister, and Windstorm, it manages to hit hard and leave a mark while still not doing anything more complicated than Borborygmos' triggered ability.

And a few combat tricks.

Life and After - Smaller, creatures, mostly humans and spirits wield basic equipment and swing in versus locked down defenders. It's more technical than its opponent, with triggered abilities and counterspells, and in a testament to the difficulty of balancing decks like these, it's managed to lose a balance of the games.

This guy hasn't seen a battlefield since before it was called a battlefield.

But overall, they worked. He picked up the game rather quickly and was eager to play more. So, if I can play Magic on dates, that makes them the best decks ever.

Ugh, Group Play
Of late I've been interested in playing Magic with people I haven't known for most of my adult life. There are various reasons for this, but it forces me to communicate with other people and--I shudder to say this--adapt a small part of my life in the slightest way to accommodate others. This self-imposed horror takes the form of taking some of my Magic decks and making them...standard legal.

I'll spare you the details, but what it means is that I now have decks that I will be playing against a pool of a hundred or so people in San Antonio. People who use Magic: the Gathering as their primary source for feelings of achievement and/or don't know how to play the game, but had the money copy a tourney player's deck. Skipping over the obvious hygiene jokes, I'll note that 'having fun' and 'being intelligent' are optional for these guys.

The saintly rocket-scientists who paid $75 for this guy.

Maybe I am jumping to conclusions though. While I was in the game store working on my decks--after some juvenile asshole started whining about his lag on one of the store's computers between repeating the one line from Cage the Elephant's "Shake Me Down.", but before he remembered to be homophobic enough to call everything and everyone in the store "a fag"--a deaf man (who also did not speak, though apparently if I call him a "deaf-mute" that's bad, so there's your lesson for today, kids.) offered to play a few games. We worked out that standard was good and we both tested our decks.

Our first match-up was my vampire tribal deck against his zombie tribal deck. He didn't mulligan off of one land, so he was stuck with Gravecrawlers--2012's equivalent of Reassembling Skeleton and Bloodghast--until he got trampled by ever-growing vampires.

 True power is a 2/1 that can't block.

He recovered and scored a win with lords on lords of zombies, but I took the last game thanks to an early and flashed-back Rolling Tremblor that cleared his board twice.

The next game was his vampires versus my...terrible, hashed-together deck that was sort of based on Kuldotha Flamefiend and what can only be described as an editorially mandated diversity of removal. I won the first game in a nothing-but-luck barn burner that featured the last few of the already rare perfect top decks I've got left in my life. He beat face for the next game and retired his deck in an act of unmitigated mercy.

My zombie tribal deck is made for legacy, so my only remaining standard deck was Exactly as Human as the Human. It turns out that was his last deck was human as well. We went back and forth, both swinging Titanic Growths that pointed to the origin of both of our decks in the Repel the Dark precon deck. We'd both tweaked it; I went for Gideon's Lawkeepers for better lock down and the mostly-invincible Angelic Overseer while he'd leaned towards the attack-enhancing, creature-pooping Hero of Bladehold and creature-resurrecting Sun Titan

We went into the final game one for one with just twenty minutes left before the store closed. The board locked up as my Lawkeepers kept his mythics from attacking and I failed to muster the green mana for an Overrun. Finally, he dropped a Grand Abolisher, keeping me from tapping his guys down or even casting a spell to prevent his attack damage. Despite my best blocks, a humble Titanic Growth put him over the top and I lost.

"It's like this, kid; White likes defense, just not your defense."

Huh, That's Funny
It's strange what you learn about yourself. If you had asked me if most deaf people could lip read yesterday morning, I would've said "no." None the less, when this guy offers me a notepad with an introduction to play, I looked up at him and just assumed he could read lips.

Maybe it's my innate self-criticality, but even though I like to think I'm a decent, open-minded person, it seems that sometimes while everyone else pretty much knows the score, I'm showing up to help with the best of intentions while fundamentally knocking everything they've been working for back a few steps. I don't know, it's like I'm--

That. Exactly.

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