While the internet is full of ways to find game stores in your area, it does very little to tell you about the real character of those stores: their atmosphere, their product, their staff, or anything else a curious gamer might want to know. To help others out, I've started a week-by-week tour of the stores in my area, playing a Friday Night Magic at each one and sharing the results with you.
Last week I went to Gamelot, located at 7007 Bandera Road, on the corner where Bandera meets Huebner. As is tradition, last week I covered the store in general, saving the results of the Friday Night Magic for today.
The actual event was better than expected. It was a standard constructed affair and I brought a White/Blue Venser/Karn deck that was--well, to be honest, it was designed to troll competitive decks by not dying via Venser and Stonehorn dignitary, then restarting the game via Karn.
Round 1 put me up against a Jund ramp deck played by Daniel. He was polite enough, but I had to repeatedly stop him from touching my (thankfully sleeved) cards, remind him he couldn't target my shrouded Neurok Commando, and ask him to declare targets. He got most of the game thanks to a Mimic Vat that stole my Aether Adept, allowing him to bounce one of my guys every turn. The real nail in my coffin was his Inferno Titan; I couldn't stop creatures from entering the battlefield and I didn't have many responses to direct damage, so the titan just huffed and puffed and burned my house down.
I wasn't smart enough to have any sideboard answers for the titan, which was just as well; he got game two with a...man, what's a group of slimes called? Okay, a fucking of slimes. A whole fucking of Acidic Slimes slid onto the board, ate my lands, and kept me at six mana for about three turns while my hand of two seven-mana Karns and a pair of seven-mana Phyrexian Ingesters were slowly gobbled up by his Karn. It was ugly, but that's the game.
Round 2 was against a kid named Damien, who couldn't have been older than twelve. I'd read articles about kids playing Magic competitively with older players, so I tried not to condescend. He ran a Red/White deck with humans that led up to angels, with his entire deck made exclusively from the lastest set, Avacyn Restored. It wasn't unstoppably fast, but after taking Gisela, Blade of Goldnight to the face, I did some math. At a rate of 5 power, doubled for her ability, divided by the half damage all my stuff was doing, the total was an alarming fast climb in my personal pain rate. Ultimately, I just got beaten by a badass angel and a mob 1/1 hasting humans.
Round 3 was against a really nice guy named Adrian. He was playing mono-White humans and angels. Adrian is the friendliest player I've encountered while playing Magic against other people. He was also new to the game. I can only assume these two facts are unrelated.
I scored my first poison win in game one, thanks to my deck's lone Viral Drake, who simply landed a single poison counter on my opponent, then sat back and let me give him another one for every four mana I spent.
The second round was contentious, but in the end, he outpaced me with the humans pumped out via Increasing Devotion and then spiked my board with a Sunblast Angel, destroying all the tapped creatures I had just desperately swung in with.
The last game was the longest. He landed a Sunblast Angel to get a strong beater out, but I landed an Oblivion Ring to exile her for a while. After he slammed me with reinforcements off an Increasing Devotion, I realized I could use Venser to bounce my own Oblivion Ring, returning his angel to play, then exiling her again at the end of my turn when the ring came back. It meant he could still play guys and attack me, but those creatures could only attack once before I brought the angel back and destroyed them. As he built up his board for one massive attack that would get rid of my last three life, a five minute warning for the round was called. He played an Increasing Devotion to get the last few bodies he needed to crash over my Neurok Commandos and Aether Adepts, but I countered it with a Negate and used my turn to activate Venser's ultimate ability, cast as many spells as I could to exile his creatures, and swing for the win and my first winning round of the evening.
Adrian was nice, but winning with this deck was a slow, grinding affair. That more than anything convinced me to maybe polish up this deck and then shelve it for posterity, rather than be a jerk.
The final round was awesome. Nick was late, kind of a dick, and never, never drew the Tempered Steel that would effectively triple his creatures' power and make his deck work. Make no mistake; over the course of two games, I took a lot--a lot--like "lethal and a half"--1/1 Memnites to the face and ended up using a seven mana Phyrexian Ingester to exile a 0/1 Signal Pest, but when the rubber hit the road, Venser and Karn pulled through.
The clench play was when I shat out a Venser emblem and used a Snapcaster Mage to flashback a Ponder, letting me set up my library and hand so that on my next turn I could cast a spell, counter it with my own Negate, and then cast that spell again from my graveyard. Each time I cast a card, Venser's emblem let me exile a permanent, and over the course of two turns, I eliminated half of his board. It was a 2-0 victory, but he was a good sport about it.
I finished both games (and, in fact, most of that evening's games) with less than six life. I also placed 17th out of 34, which seemed about right. Having only played four out of thirty three other players, Gamelot seemed to have a much lower difficulty curve than other stores and more new--and friendlier players.The only real hitch was me; I felt for the first time like I was the spike keeping people from having fun, which was kind of shitty.
When I go to play this weekend, I'm thinking of either bringing my red and black vampires deck or a green black deck that mixes the friendly soulbound green creatures from Avacyn Restored with the anemic infect green creatures from Scars of Mirrodin. Any suggestions?