There is a lot about Magic: The Gathering that I enjoy – the artwork, opening packs, building decks from sealed pools, sorting cards (especially registering sealed pools at GPs!! Hooray for OCD!!!). Unfortunately, the one thing that I don’t really like is playing Magic. Actually, that’s not quite true…I like playing a little bit, but I just don’t feel compelled to improve myself by playing more frequently, which is probably why I only play about once a year – basically whenever Myles wants to go to a sealed Grand Prix.
My outlook has changed a little bit after having played at Grand Prix Ottawa. I’m sure most of you who are reading this were either witness to my incessant Facebook updates about Myles’ progress, and/or you have seen his recap video about his amazing run at the Top 8, missing out by a hair. Well, there was a parallel story happening during that time involving my mediocre, but attitude-changing performance: I went 3-3-drop. Not very impressive, right? Well, the record is not really relevant – it’s the fact that I played SIX rounds of Magic. Including deck building and registration, it ended up being about 8 hours of Magic! Unheard of for me, a chronic “3-round-drop-regardless-of-record” player. So what happened?
Kahns of Tarkir happened.
During the weeks leading up to the GP, I would hear Myles make wild, sweeping claims about how KTK is the best Magic format ever. Not just the best format in a really long time – the best format EVER. I would nod my head politely, and secretly roll my eyes. I know that Myles loves Magic and can get overly excited about it, so I usually chalk up this kind of amped up, puppy-like enthusiasm to a few good/valuable/fun cards in a new set.
But then I entered GP Ottawa. I first played a last-minute grinder for byes on the Friday – my first real look at the cards and my first time playing KTK. I only won one match, but I really liked my deck – it was some kind of Abzan deck with lots of creatures and spells that worked really well together and whose interactions I inherently understood. Normally, the first time I play a set, I spend most of my time (and losses) trying to figure out HOW the cards are supposed to work. I lucked out again during the main event and received a pool of cards that also put me clearly in Abzan.
I didn’t make too many mistakes building the deck (just a couple cards that Myles suggested I board in during Game 2), but I did make a lot of mistakes playing. Even so, I had my best GP showing – at one point I was 3-1(!!!!) – but I didn’t even care about that. I was actually having fun and I wanted to keep playing. I hit the wall at 6 rounds, but I was still enjoying playing, even though I lost my last 2 rounds.
I think that says a lot about Khans of Tarkir. I am an über-casual player who only ever plays sealed, and I am actually considering making a standard deck, just in case I choose to play at GP Toronto in May. I don’t imagine that I will fare very well there having never played standard, but I AM having a lot of fun naming decks based on (mostly unviable) themes. Here are a few that I’ve come up with:
- District 12 – a tribute deck
- TTC – tribute, tokens and counters (locally, TTC stands for the Toronto Transit Commission)
- Hopelessly Devoted to You – a devotion deck
- Dirty Diner – a +1/+1 counters deck
- Hercules and Friends – Gods + mythical beasts (especially centaurs)
- Dig Dug – green/black self-mill + delve
- St. Elmo’s Fire – Planeswalkers (whom I have nicknamed the ‘brat pack’) + burn spells
- The Molly Ringwald Special – mono-red with exactly 16 burn spells (Myles originally came up with this one and wanted to call it “16 Candles”, but I thought that it gave too much away about the contents of the deck.)
This really is the most fun I have had doing anything Magic-related.