Adventures in Cardboard: Top 8!
After so many attempts at hitting Top 8 of a Preliminary pro-tour qualifier, I finally manage to do it (again).
I know it sounds over-dramatic (for a card game rated 13+ up). Anyone on that day can probably say the same. Even the judge had an impromptu opportunity to entertain himself at my expense (and to be fair, I would have availed myself that opportunity).
Sealed formats are a different than the usual way of playing Magic: The Gathering. Most tournaments usually have you bring a deck for the event- which comes with the attendant problems of having to think a lot about the deck you’re bringing that weekend- which involves a lot of predicting what you think you’ll see a lot of and reading up on the latest metagame trends- I.e it involves a bit of work that can arguably be seen as sucking the fun out of the game. Sealed formats however let the random six packs do the thinking for you, and you just have to pick the best 23-24 out of the 90 cards.
*cue the highly asmr-esque sound of booster packs being opened en masse.
So after inspecting my packs, I found myself opening 2 Fraying Omnipotence- fun and useful in a casual, kitchen table setting. The day is going to go well. Then I saw I had a Murder, Lich’s Caress and Strangling Spore, putting me firmly in black. Then a Thorn Lieutenant, a Colossal Dreadmaw and a Vine Mare were some of the best offensive threats to me, putting me in green as my second colour.
I wish I could reproduce the exact setup here (with grainy camera shots), but in a rush to get home, I forgot to take a large supply donated by other players (on one hand- it would have been nice to take this so I can pass it to novices later down the track, on the other, I have two shoeboxes of this stuff).
The swiss rounds opened in the worst possible fashion for me- Black-Green vs Blue-Black good stuff, both games mull to 6 have the wrong set of lands. 0-1 down. Fortunately I was able to rescue the second round, going 2-1, which went a bit longer due to a judge call that I made in response to a Scholar of Stars being played for 3 rather than 4 (a mistake on my opponent’s part). The third round was a 2-0 finish against someone who I went to high school with, who found himself into a Red-White-Green deck because he had opened Palladia Mors, The Ruiner in his six packs and fell into temptation to use it. He at least got to see it once, have it deal damage, and then I had the answer in hand to deal with it immediately. Then I managed to win a closely-fought round against a Red-Green deck to make it 3-1.
3-1 up and I was feeling quite confident. Too confident, as I let it get the better of me and swung a 5/3 Vine Mare, a creature with Hexproof which meant it was an ideal creature to enchant with the Oakenform in hand, but it ran into two blockers, and then it died. I thought I could finish the rest of the battle with the rest of my threats, but that did not prove to be the case. That one moment costed me the series, as I lost the deciding third. 3-2 now and I was having some really bad memories of 9th place finishes.
Luckily enough, I was able to finish the final round in a straight sweep, bringing me up to 4-2 against a Green-White deck. But the nerves wasn’t over yet, as I could still be overtaken on tiebreakers. But luckily everyone that could overtake me either had significantly worse percentages, or I had beaten them already.
So here’s where Denby Adams, the judge for the event, does his drum roll of announcing who makes the Top 8. He begins with announcing everyone on the first to six spots- and then mentions 7, then 9, and all the others on equal points. And then announces the guy sneaking on 8th- me.
So now begins the draft portion. I’ve only done casual drafts without the restrictions, but timed drafts were a first for me. An MTG draft works like this- you have 3 packs and open one, pick that and pass to the left- you get a pack passed to you, you pick a card, pass it to your left until you get passed a last card. Then you repeat the process, passing to the right this time, and then same for the third. At the end of that you’ll have a 40 card deck.
*cue sound of packs opening
Eventually I drafted my way into a Red-Green deck with lots of creatures that can generate mana and ramp into a big threat much quicker than normal, not that it ever happened anyway as I crashed out of the first elimination round in a best of three- the first one ended with me flooding, and the second I simply never drew a land after the first two, and had all my green cards stuck in his hand. Climatic finish.
At the very least I got what I aimed for.
Lesson of the day? This draft format is annoying.