Monday, May 28, 2012

Standard Tour of San-Antonio: Friday Night Magic at Cards & Crafts

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.

This week I went to Cards & Crafts
, located at 8104 Tezel Road, right by the Little Caesar's. In a breach of tradition, I'm covering the Friday Night Magic before giving an overview of the store. 

As with my last FNM, I'm playing white and blue deck based around staying alive. I earlier mischaracterized it as a deck designed for trolling, but that's not accurate. "Strategema" is designed to let my opponent's deck play out. This gives me a better feel for the player, see the local metagame, and hone my skills as a player. It can be frustrating to play against, but that's not always the case.

Round 1 put me up against another blue and white deck, played by Tim. We chatted politely through several quiet, early turns before he tried to kill me with a host of angels and all manner of double-striking guys. 

Specifically, these manners.

However, while he was playing angels, I was dropping the cards that removed them while drawing more. I ground out a victory while shutting down his top-decked cards. He got the second game with a well-placed Silverblade Paladin. 

Our tie-breaker was the first of several games where I'd play my Stonehorn Diplomat on turn four, Venser on turn five, and stare at a one-mana defensive spell while one of my combo pieces got aced. None the less, I squeezed out a win for the round.

Round 2 saw me fend off Christian and his human army. Well, mostly. However quiet and reserved he was, his humans were a rush of damage to my face in every game. Buffed with the +1/+1 bonuses of Angel of Jubilation and Honor of the Pure, and capped with the finishing power of Angelic Destiny they, well...finished me off. 


Despite a few fun rallies, he had me down from the get-go with a quick deck that played threat on top of threat. I had some answers, but in retrospect I should've Pondered like crazy for my board-sweepers instead of assembling my planeswalkers. There's not much story in getting trampled to death by humans, just lessons learned.

Round 3 was the worst. Mason was as restive as you'd expect a Red Deck Wins player to be. He dropped quick, dangerous goblins over burn that consistently dealt five damage to my face. He missed land drops in game one, letting me stabilize. Even then, I was only able to win because I played three of the two Elixirs of Immortality in my deck.

A bottomless tap soothes many burns.

Game two went better for him until he got land flooded, stalled, and the battle became a long wait for a creature, followed by a flurry of spells, then a dead creature and more waiting. It was quite possibly the longest game I've played at a FNM. Eventually, I cobbled together some chump blockers to plink him to death. We were both happy to miss a tie breaker.

Round 4 was against Andrew, who quasi-works at the store and had his own seat at the front. He was running red and white, the colors of a powerful, human-based archetype that Avacyn Restored made possible.

I was intimidated to say the least.

Then he played double strike dudes with the swords from Scars.

They...probably hurt...less when they...hit twice?

We see-sawed each others things into exile with Oblivion Rings, I dropped a stonehorn dignitary on turn four, Venser on turn five, and watched Venser die when I couldn't afford a defensive spell. I win, and we start a second game where he sideboards swampwalking guys for my deck's single swamp (he thought there were more) while I side in Stony Silence.

Came out on turn two.

What I'm saying is that after he got land screwed I slowly began to realize how I was Mr. Beaning my way through the round.

He showed me the unplayed, game-breaking Avacyn in his hand after I won.

Cards & Crafts went to five rounds instead of the four at most places I've been. Most go a bit further if you're good enough, and I was good enough that my fifth round game put the winner into the top eight.

I was playing zombies against Tristan, who was probably my youngest opponent of the night.

I'll be honest; I kinda laughed at the zombies.

I kinda chuckled that he was getting two of them back with Ghoulcaller's Chant.

We both laughed when his Ghoulraiser returned a Hunted Ghoul to his hand.

That Hunted Ghoul killed me. 
Danger zone!

I could deal with Endless Ranks of the Dead increasing his zombie output by 50%, Geralf's Messenger hitting me just by entering the battlefield and being too rude to die, and Gravecrawler that was never, ever worth killing.

What I couldn't do was play wack-a-ghoul quickly enough to keep from being killed by Hunted Ghoul.

Yes, Cards & Crafts was a good time with a lot of friendly people. Round 5 was some of the best games of Magic I've played in a while. I was joking with a stranger before it was all over (also, totally had my third Stonehorn/Venser/combo broken of the night there). There were a few oddballs, but nothing objectionable; nerds in public. There were even two female players, the first I've seen at any event.

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