Thursday, July 11, 2013

GP Miami

The following is a transcript of a forum post I did talking about my recent trip to GP Miami;

I just got back from GP Miami, and boy are my arms tired.

HAHAHAHNo, we drove. 10 frakking hours.

I've been keeping up with Attack on Hulu, and the last couple of eps have taken the show in a direction I wasn't expecting. Not sure if I like it yet.

Got Fire Emblem; Shadow Dragon and Trauma Center 2 for the trip.
Shadow Dragon  is kind of weird because apparently one of the mechanics is that frequently you will have to sacrifice a character in a heroic sacrifice kind of way throughout the story, but the first time they do it is about 5 minutes into the game well before ANYONE has had any real opportunity for character development. Meaning there was no weight to the decision, I know exactly nothing about any of these twits.

Trauma Center is the right kind of frustrating. I like it. Probably a piss poor representation of surgery.

We headed out around 2 in the morning, Friday. Just before that, my buddies gave me a Naya Blitz deck and we fine tuned it just a bit because it was a month or so out of date. Got tipsy on a single glass of Rum and Coke, apparently I'm a light weight. Swapped out Hamlet Captains for Ghor-Clan Rampagers and a bunch of changes in the sideboard. Apparently I overpacked for the trip. Whups.

We get to South Beach a little after noon, struggle for an hour or so to find parking, stick our stuff in the hotel, and then walk to the convention center. I participated in the judge conference with the intent to get my first judge pack. This was not to be as I did not pre-reg. Normally, walk-ins get a worse judge pack than those who registered or those who were judging, but apparently allocation was weak for this event. My best guess is that the system was still recovering from the stress that was GP Vegas.

In either event, the judge conference happened. I attended about 5 or 6 of them. Seminars on how to deal with medical emergencies. The meatgrinder which tests players ability to deal with ridiculous layers interactions. My favorite panel was later in the day and it was basically a "High Level Judge FAQ". Featuring the event Head Judge, an L5 from Argentina; Justin Turner, L3 and event coordinator for the Southeast if I am not mistaken (a distinct possibility) and Jared Silva, L4 and Starcity Games event coordinator.

They answer a bunch of questions ranging from serious to trivial, and they finish off the seminar with their personal favorite funny judge calls.

One of my buddies tried to L2 and missed by one. frakking. question. because there had been a bunch of semantic policy shifts over the last year that he wasn't aware of. Whups.

Another friend did some grinders (didn't get there) and my other two buddies playtested. All-in-all, there were 5 of us. Everyone but me had a round 1 buy, and one of them had 2 buys (means they get to skip that many rounds).

After a long day of that crap, we wandered downtown for a bit, and ate at a pizza place called Groovy's. If you're ever in South Beach, Fl, hit them up. $#!+ was legit. They do this massive, something like 52 inch pizza. Normally they don't sell that to customers, but rather sell slices that big, but we were able to convince them to sell it to us. Half pepperoni, half chicken-spinach Parmesan  Frakking delicious. Came back to the hotel and crashed. 3 of us went to bed, and the other two hit the beach for an hour or so. I slept on the floor because, not because I was too squeamish to sleep between two men, but because I had had enough of being cramped like a sardine from the car drive.

Got up the next day and got our game on. I had to start right away (10 am, I think) and everyone else got a break. They all came to watch me since it was my first time playing at that high a level or with an actual legitimate deck.

Round one against Selesnya tokens. I make a few missplays game 1, but ultimately get there. Game two I completely punt it, and my opponent draws into all the things I can't deal with; Trostani, Relentless. It was gross. Game 3 i get the nut draw, and then I sit down with my friends so they can advice me about missplays, sideboarding, etc. I am told to never side out Medic because it is my best card. I had sided them out for Fiend Hunter because I didn't want to disrupt my curve, but they advised taking out lower drops that aren't as impactful in a bad matchup like this such as Boros Elite.

I try to keep touch with them over the course of the day. Day 2 would be the top 120 players or everyone who was X-2 by the end of the day, whichever number was larger. Two of my friends dropped round after they went x-3 to eat. One of them dropped round 7, another made it all the way. I played the entire day because I had never played at a GP before and I wanted to.

Round 2 against Golgari Midrange. Game 1, make a few missplays that aren't helped by this deck having all the removal forever. Game 2 get the nuts. Game 3, learn that he sided into Curse of Death's Hold. He sticks it t5 and kills half my board. 80% of my creatures will now die, ETB. I concede to the obvious winner, am now 1-1.

Round 3 against American Tempo that I thought was American control.  I ultimately punt game 3 because I don't know how to play around Azorius Charm yet. Whups. The guy was a nice guy sponsored by Card Advantage from Toronto, IIRC. He ultimately top 8d day 1.

Round 4 against Naya midrange. He resleeves a Huntmaster in front of me, and that's the only indication I have that he was playing Naya midrange. This prooves useful G2 because he never plays a spell g1 because I kill him so fast. G2 I side into Pacificsms and Fiend Hunters because I expect that his creatures will be larger than mine. This is true. In sequence he plays two Loxodon Smiters and a Boros Reckoner. Normally, I'd be completely frakked, but I'm fortunate enough to draw into two Firefist Strikers and a Hunter in a row, and am able to attack past his fatty boom booms for the win. 2-2

Round 5 against what I think is Junk rites. G1 I smear him across the conference hall, only seeing a Lotleth Troll. Side accordingly. G2 turns out he's  reanimator. Still win, but I was really worried about G2 because I was expecting Golgari Charms and Curses like in Round 2. 3-2

Round 6 against Naya aggro. Basically my deck, but without the human tribal focus. His deck is slightly less explosive, but can last longer than mine since his dudes are consistently larger than mine. He wins and I'm out of contension. 3-3

Round 7 against Gruul aggro. Very serious looking Cuban fellow. If I had to guess, I'd imagine he was probably tense like me because he had just been knocked out of contension. He was a bit tilted by me getting the nuts games 1 and 3, but we chat a bit, and he recommends a restauarant (that we never end up visiting) called "Los Perros" for legit Cuban food, none of this kitschy overpriced stuff they sell to tourists. If it's good enough for the locals, It's good enough for me. 4-3

Round 8 against mono-red. He draws into all his removal. Forever. I'm in a bad way when I'm on the defensive. 4-4

Round 9 ends the day in kind of a terrible way with my worst possible matchup; Aristocrats. The ONLY way I can win this if he draws crap all game long. The deck simply plays too many creatures for me to reasonably attack past, AND doesn't care if they die, AND plays Boros-I-skullfrak-Blitz-all-day-long-Reckoners main. It was gross. I chat with the guy, and he's from Germany and thus wins the "opponent who traveled farthest to be here" award. He tells me about how grinding GPs is different in Europe. I thank him for the games and that's day 1. 4-5.

Me and my friends stick around long enough to learn that one of us made day 2. The same guy goes around to a bunch of the pros asking to have his mat signed and I follow because why not, and to ask about how to break through the threshold to becoming a pro-player. The people I was with are all really good locally, regularly taking down every PTQ and IQ they go to. Most of the pros emphatically recommend MTGO as a way to A) play constantly, B) play competitively. I'm only half listening because I don't really have the time, money or drive to become a grinder. I'd sure like to try to get better at the game, but at present I think writing and judging is more my speed for Magic.

Go back to hotel, eat leftovers (that pizza was hella big), go to bed. This time I sleep in the closet on top of my suitcase as opposed to the floor. Marginally less uncomfortable.

Our day 2 friend gets up early to go play, but the rest of us sleep in til 11.
We go to cheer him on and participate in day 2 shenanigans. I end up selling a buttload of Innistrad bulk for about $30 bucks. Meet Eric Deschamps and get a bunch of stuff signed by him. I buy a Remember the Fallen print and we chat about stuff. He confirms a story I heard where a guy came up to an event he was at, let him know that he thought the girl on Vampire Hexmage was cute, asks who the model was, and Eric ruins him by telling the player that he himself was the model. Lol. He goes on to tell me that he modeled himself because he had just moved and didn't have any friends locally yet, and his wife is rubbish at it because she never, and I quote, "gets into it."
I ask him about what he likes to do and he says he prefers doing outdoors because he feels he's better at organic environments than architecture and that he worries he can never get indoor lighting right. I assure him that I have yet to notice. When I mention how much I like Remember the Fallen's art, he says that he does too because he really savors the opportunity to do pieces that are quiet and serene or happy, because so much of the art he gets commissioned to do is angry or violent. I mention that's one of the things I really liked about Lorwyn, he agrees and is disappointed when I tell him that Wizards' market research suggests that most players dislike the setting exactly because it wasn't angry and violent. We agree that that sucks and people are kind of stupid sometimes.

Zoltan Boros and Greg Staples don't get back until after lunch, but I eventually get stuff from both of them as well. I realize while waiting for Boros that I have only 8 of the guild charms on me. Disappointed, I buy two artists prints of the missing two on the spot so I can have a complete collection, as well as a totally sweet artist print for the judge promo Cunning Wish. We don't chat much because the language barrier (he can speak English, but it is clearly not his native tongue) make chitchat a little bit awkward. I just now realize that I forgot to ask him about Deadbridge Chant and if it is a holdover from ravnica classic as I suspect because that's so clearly Savra in the art.

Next in line for Greg. His line is the longest, so he has a limit on 10 signatures at a time. I pick out my favorite 10 of his work on me, and I ask him similar questions as I did for Eric. He tells me that he really enjoys dark, gothic art but he has come to really like Squee, Goblin Nabob because it has so much of his personality in it. He also vaguely, offhandedly mentions that he enjoyed doing Theros art because as a native of the Mediterranean, it was all very familiar to him.

My friend ultimately finishes the event in 63rd place, earning him $200 and his first MTG pro point. He is beside himself with glee about being an official pro player. We get on the road and start driving back at around 4 in the afternoon.

On the drive there and back I learn some things about this group of friends. They enjoy electronic music and really, really, unambiguously awful rap music because it's funny. Two; they enjoy the Fast and Furious movies. Multiple conversations ultimately come full circle to heated arguments about whether or not Vin Diesel is gay.

We all stay up late enough to discuss the first trickle of spoilers. We ultimately agree that Chandra4 is not the powerhouse, legacy playable, 3 drop walker red deserves, but it is a step in the right direction for competitively viable red walkers. We then spend about an hour and a half discussing the potential and playablitity of the new Rings of Brighthearthesque artifact that copies triggered abilities.

We get back around 4 in the morning. I thank them for taking me, apologize for the awkard tension on the way back (I took too long at a few gas stations getting a drink) and get home. Ultimately decide to take a shower before bed and sleep from 6 til noon and then spend an hour writing this.

All in all, I had a blast and am looking forward to trying it again.
If you've never gone to a GP, I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is nothing like smaller local events you might be used to.

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