There was another reason I was in the Lion City- a drill run for preparing for the Magic: The Gathering Grand Prix to be held in Singapore in June, and there happened to be two Premilinary Pro-Tour Qualifiers whilst I there, and I hoped to win one for the team back home.
Singaporean efficiency filters all the way down to its CCGs, with nearly the entirely playerbase always going for stable, unoriginal internet decklists that have proven to win results; though bearing in mind that the difference between wins, top 8s and not getting there at all are determined by extremely razor thin margins.
To prepare for the event, I snuck in a Friday Night Magic at Grey Ogre Games (in Club St, near Chinatown- the street is lined up with Western-style bars that hoovers up all the Anglophone expatriates) with my favourite deck- the not quite tier 1, Mardu Vehicles, which I have been piloting for one and a half years right now. The Vehicles deck did get some spicy new additions in Karn, Scion of Urza ($50 dollarydoos at the time of acquisition, now running at $65 per copy- this is why the game’s called cardboard crack) and History of Benalia ($25, now $32). The mana was still pretty terrible, though lately in actual play I’ve had mana issues but not of the usual kind (I.e mana flood all day). To begin my first ever FNM in a foreign country, it was two not-tier 1 brews- Mardu Vehicles vs Grixis Improvise- a very bad matchup for the latter, and it proved to be that way as I run roughshod for a 2-0 sweep. Good start to the evening. I followed it up with two extremely tight battles against real decks; Blue-White Control (the most popular) that featured the new Teferi, Hero of Dominaria card (started off at $15, now $50) that isn’t just insane in Standard- it also has proven to replace Jace, The Mind Sculptor in the Modern version of the Blue-White-X control decks- and then against B/W vehicles where games 1 and 2 were lopsided rushes on both ends of the aisle, with the final game devolving into a grindy midrange board stall that I finally broke through, with the clock nearly going to 11:30. I managed to catch the second last train back to Fort Canning.
So I was thoroughly impressed at my setup and was confident I could replicate it at the real thing- at Card Nation, in Marsiling. So a one-hour journey to Woodlands, in the heart of Singapore’s far north, via the MRT (the subway system that is 100% spotless and lacking the late-night yak smell that lingers in Transperth vehicles). The journey north was quite a depressing sea of apartment blocks, and the venue itself was an all too familiar sight in South East Asia- a small shopfront that also doubled up as an actual place of residence. I won the first game against Blue-White Control, but proceeded to spectacularly get slaughtered in the next four rounds, with my manabase either flooding or starving (coupled with a sideboard plan that was too high on the curve). 1-4 and drop.
1-4 is the kind of result that made me want to think about changing the deck entirely, So I went back to Grey Ogre Games to get a little help in building, and I decided to transition into a White-Black deck. The White-Black deck’s manabase was more stable, but on the day, after seeing what everyone else was playing, I should have been playing Black-Red Vehicles- Unlicensed Disintegration is an efficient killer of Lyra Dawnbringers as I found out. But nonetheless, leading into the 5th round, I had 3 wins and 1 loss, and all I needed was just one more win and I would lock Top 8 for sure. One final fucking hurdle. And then almighty RNGesus decides maybe I shouldn’t top 8 after flooding out against U/W control just as I was within striking distance of victory. Then I ran into the mirror for the final round, and got decimated in short order. 3-3.
Dreams of victory and triumph in ashes. That’s Magic for ya.