I attended a release tournament today for the Tenth Edition of MTG‘s core set. It was a lot of fun, for a number of unexpected reasons.
I intended to play, with friends, at Berkeley’s Eudemonia, where I used to play MTG relatively often. It’s a nice space and usually a pleasant enough store to play at. However, when our group of several people arrived, we discovered that the store didn’t have enough Tenth Edition to support any more players than those that had already shown up. This was rather disappointing, and in my opinion was a poor showing on their part—first, because the event had gotten tons of publicity from the manufacturer and hence they should have been prepared for large numbers; second, because (unlike in the case of prerelease tournaments) the release events take place on the day the product is available for general sale, and hence as an MTG store they should simply have a lot of Tenth Edition that they’re going to sell to customers in the future, so it was just weird that they didn’t have it. We joked about the fact that, had we realized that this might be a problem, we probably could have accessed the sfmagic group’s order of Tenth Edition and supplied enough product for rather more players.
At any rate, this turned out well, because we had time to get some food, enjoy it outside in the beautiful weather, and end up at a new games store in the neighborhood, Green Griffon Games. While smaller than Eudemonia, Green Griffon was an even more pleasant space, with plenty of natural light and a very light, relaxed feel to it. We made up most of the group ourselves, which was fine, and the tournament ended up quite small, which was fine with all of us as well. The owner of Green Griffon, Joe, was extremely friendly and helpful, and all of us would like to go back there.
Lev, Seth and I browsed the AD&D products and were all taken by a certain nostalgia, and talked again about the possibility of setting up a group to play, which is still something I’d like to do, although finding the time is of course quite difficult. Something to keep an eye on, though…
The tournament itself went well for me, I opened some excellent cards. Highlights included double Incinerate, a Platinum Angel, Chimeric Staff, Kamahl, Pit Fighter, Lavaborn Muse, and Merfolk Looter. On top of those, I had reasonably good support cards. I played Blue/Red/White, and decided to go to 18 lands for this deck despite usually hating that. But with the strong late-game cards I had, I thought that being flooded would still lead to victory more often than being short.
Naturally, in the first round I was paired against Seth. And that was quite a match indeed. In the first game, his deck came out of the gates very quickly, all tempo, including his using cards like Fists of the Anvil to shorten my clock considerably. My first chance to stabilize didn’t work out as he got rid of Kamahl, but in the nick of time I played Platinum Angel, which keeps me alive no matter what as long as it remains in play. So Seth got me to negative life the next turn, but it didn’t matter. In the meantime, my Lavaborn Muse was hitting him for quite a bit of damage, and he only had one turn to get rid of the Angel. If he could, he won, otherwise I won. He didn’t. His answer to it was the next card in his deck…
He pushed through for the win in game two, a crazy see-saw battle that saw both sides of the board cleared many times, and in the end was as simple as his drawing evasive creatures while I didn’t have enough blockers.
In game three, it came down to the wire again, but I had enough to kill him (just…) the turn before I would have died, and that was that. Quite a match, razor-close and very fun while also rather tense. We played a fourth game for fun and he won it (barely). Our fifth game didn’t finish but it looked like I had an unopposed Kamahl going in it, which probably meant I would have taken it. Clearly a very close matchup that I was lucky to sneak out of.
None of the rest of my matches were as close, and I didn’t drop another game as I played Karen, JC, and Lev (all people I know). JC’s deck had serious mana problems in both games against me, so that was probably a lucky escape as well.
I seem to be good with the core set release tournaments—while this was a very small and casual one, I also won the last one I played in, for Eighth Edition, which was a larger affair with a cut to Top 8 draft. I played Red/White in both Sealed and Draft for that, getting ridiculously lucky cards in both sections (Two-Headed Dragon in Sealed, Shivan Dragon in Draft). So I guess this means I should really play in the Eleventh Edition release event two years from now…
After that, a bunch of us went back to Lev’s place, where he provided excellent food and hospitality as always. En route we searched for and found the Phoenix Pastificio, which I highly recommend to anyone who appreciates high-quality pasta. After that, great food and conversation, and the opportunity to meet the rest of JC’s family (I’d only met his son Cameron before this), which made for an excellent evening (and not at all the evening I expected when I set out to play MTG that morning).