For the past last fortnight or so, I’ve been on a Magic grind, having won an invitation to the Good Games State Championships. With the plan on winning the main prize of going to Melbourne to represent the state, so I played a few events to get warmed up for the real thing.
11th September- Stratagem Store Championships- Core M19
Idebated the pros and cons of doing this event, as it began at 6:00 pm, and most likely end at close to 11-12 if I did really well, and I had work the next morning, with a 5:00am wake up call. In the end I chose to give myself the opportunity of practice, bringing a Black-Red Aggro/Midrange with all the best cards in the format in one very aggressive yet grindy package that can either go for a quick kill or a slow one.
All I faced on the night was various approaches of Blue/White control decks based around the Teferi, Hero of Dominaria planeswalker- who provided a win condition and an endless stream of card draw, and one Blue-Red-Black midrange deck- and of those I took 3 wins out of the 4.
However at final hurdle, I faced the Black-Red Aggro/Midrange mirror, with a list that was very much tuned to win the mirror matches, and whilst I took the first game and lost the second. In the deciding finale, I drew a land card when I needed a removal for his sole blocker, and then proceeded to see it slip out under me, and kicked out of the Top 8 cut.
Well at the very least I get a good night’s sleep for work tomorrow.
15th September- Good Games Joondalup Store Championships- Core M19
So I decided to give the list that knocked me out on the 11th a whirl.
In any case, I slaughtered the Standard portion, easily qualifying for the top 8, utilizing Black-Red Aggro/Midrange to a 4-1-0 finish, with two of those wins against the mirror match, making me feel a little confident (if a bit too much) on the list.
In the top 8, I first dispatched an Esper God Pharaoh Gift list that I had dispatched with ease before, with the decider being largely decided when my opponent stumbled on lands and I got to curve out in the best possible way. Then my journey ended in the top 4, as going for a more midrange build meant I couldn’t clock Blue-White Approach fast enough to win the game. No playmat for me this time round.
22nd September- Good Games State Championships
I recall spending much of the time leading up to this event trying to decide if I wanted to stick to the traditional stock builds, or play the version of the deck that was in theory tuned towards beating the mirrors in game 1. In the event, I ran into the mirror thrice, and duelled compatriots from the Joondalup team, which consisted of me, Jack Walker, Matt Veale and Matt Stpehen.
In the end, theory failed in practice- the three Vraska’s Contempt I mainboarded as a hedge against the mirror, did little to dent the opponent’s assault whilst the fact that having to hold up open mana to cast Contempt ensured I couldn’t be on the offensive all the time. The only win I had all day against Mono-Blue Reservoir Storm, a fun and wacky combo deck that can on occasional win on the spot. At the very least I got to watch two of my friends make it half-way before bowing out themselves.
In hindsight, I should have just sleeved up what professionals were doing at the Magic World Championships- a good portion of which I got to catch before making breakfast and heading out southwards.
29-30 September / 5-6 October- Guilds of Ravnica Pre-Release + Draft Weekend
It was time to say goodbye to Kaladesh and Amonkhet blocks which had oppressed so much of Standard, and welcomed Guilds of Ravnica, and learn to love a fair and diverse format once again (and this time hoping the promise rings true) The set introduces five of the aforementioned guilds- represented by 5 different two-color pairings each with their own corresponding mechanic.
The Limited format is a godsend compared to previous sets, though it didn’t quite measure up to Dominaria- the guilds are heavily balanced, though there is quite a scale from strongest to weakest. I loved representing the Boros Legion (Red/White) the most, who are built around the Mentor mechanic, which provides permanent stat increases to other friendly creatures that have less power than the Mentor, which rewards being fast and aggressive- to which I piloted to a 3-1 finish (still not my best). I got to play a little bit of House Dimir (Blue/Black), who are built around Surveil mechanic, which everytime that keyword triggers you get to look at the top card of your deck, and if you don’t like you can just ditch them into the graveyard, which can power up certain synergies or simply filter away cards that are irrelevant in any given turn. It is quite powerful, but its worth being careful as you can aggressively mill yourself out of cards (and thus losing the game).
The other two guilds that I got to chance to try out- Golgari (Green/Black), built around Undergrowth which rewarded you for having creatures in the graveyard to get the full benefit of the effects. The impact of Undergrowth is usually minimal, and most of the time, took a little too long to get going. Selesnya (Green/White) built around Convoke, which allowed you to cast cards with the keyword by using any creatures onboard as mana, is actually kinda nuts, and are perfectly suited to stall, and play a very defensive game and then win by having sheer numerical advantages.
I’ve had enough cardboard for a month me thinks...