Recently I found myself meeting several friends for dinner at a local pizza joint. They had a dinner buffet going on and beer was only $7 a pitcher. Being the sucker for value that I am, this was a hard meal to pass on. One of my friends had eaten before showing up and upon arriving asked if the rest of us were getting “just the buffet”.
JUST the buffet?
I was taken aback. His question was a difficult one to parse. You can have JUST the salad. You can JUST have water. But, the buffet… the buffet is an unlimited quantity of anything, nae, everything that they serve – the actual greatest multiplicity that a restaurant can offer a patron. After several minutes of cursing I got him to retract his statement.
To be fair, the buffet isn’t always a great choice. The food is generally of a lower quality than you would get if you had something specifically prepared for you, but this is the tradeoff you make for variety – the spice of life.
One of my favorite ways to play Magic is to borrow an EDH deck from somebody and play it blindly. I do this primarily because it’s a blast, but I find that this sort of activity helps me grow as a player.
First, it introduces me to synergies that I may not have discovered myself. The last deck that I borrowed was Skullbriar, the Walking Grave. The deck featured Perilous Forays. I remembered fifteenth picking the card numerous times in Ravnica block drafts and raised an eyebrow when I saw it in the deck.
Then I drew Bloodghast. Magic is sweet.
Additionally, by playing with a wider variety of cards you get a feel for the types of things that would be good against those cards just by trying to play around what your opponents could have when you cast them. I’ve personally never played Faeries at a tournament, but I’ve played the deck a ton with my old playtest group in Winona and that has helped me immensely when it comes to playing against it.
Another benefit is that pretty much every situation that I encounter with somebody else’s deck will be completely novel. This means that if I’m going to play well, I have to constantly think about every action. When I get very familiar with a deck I start to come up with generalities on how and when certain cards should be played, and playing blindly eliminates my ability to make mental shortcuts.
One very memorable game occurred when my friend Jens and I borrowed decks from our friend Nate. I was playing a Razia, Boros Archangel monstrosity that was essentially just a pile of angels and dragons, the wet dream of Timmies everywhere and a pile of cardboard vomit to any competitive player. Jens was playing Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary as this was before he was banned as a general. A fair fight if I’ve ever seen one. I don’t recall what other generals were involved in the game but I know that Jens killed them.
The way the game played out: I landed a Magus of the Moat (not Moat proper because Nate is a cheapskate) while Jens assembled an arbitrarily large combo. I don’t exactly recall the cards used, but what he did was generate infinite creatures that netted him one green mana and one life for every creature. Then he cast a Hurricane for all but one of his life total. This was lethal to the other players, but I casually flicked a Congregate onto the table.
Seeing as his life total was arbitrarily large and he couldn’t attack me, he ended up drawing his entire deck and losing.
It is unlikely that I will ever play a game of Magic like that again.
Of course, variety by definition has its down side.
Worst Tournament Ever
This Saturday I opted to play in a local Legacy tournament. I was expecting a lot of random decks so I didn’t really want to play RUG Delver like I normally would. The only other Legacy deck I have cards for is Affinity, and there was just no way I was going to play that.
Unfortunately for me, my friend Forrest Ryan had an Enchantress deck that he was more than willing to lend out. I knew Enchantress was terrible, but Forrest’s deck had a certain draw to it – that is, all of the non-Moat, non-Beta Savannah cards are foil or foreign.
You may have figured this one out on your own, but the cards being foil doesn’t make them any more powerful. Foil Enchantress is the equivalent of putting spinners and flame decals on a Geo Metro. Decked out garbage is still garbage.
As I have foreshadowed so wonderfully, the tournament did not go well. Here’s a recap of the event:
Round 1 vs. GW Stax
The day got off to a really good start with me playing a prison mirror.
It was sort of like having a staring contest with a light bulb.
Inevitably, I was going to lose and every second of it hurt. My opponent made such masterful plays as not double-Wastelanding me when he had a Trinisphere in play and trying to Oblivion Ring my Argothian Enchantress when I had no other non-land permanents in play.
It’s okay though – he didn’t need that Chalice of the Void on one anyway.
Round 2 vs. Belcher
This is always a fun matchup to play. It’s really nice when your opponent shows up with 75 cards of pure variance and non-interactivity.
I lost game one after battling against ten Goblin tokens for six or so turns before I ran out of ways to protect myself. In game two I mulligained to six on the play, and when my opponent saw that I had no beginning of game effects, he informed me that he “got this” and threw his hand onto the table. He threw some rituals down that looked like they could probably cast a Goblin Charbelcher, the Belcher itself and a Lion’s Eye Diamond.
I contemplated dropping at this point, but I wanted to play at least one real game with the deck. That wasn’t exactly meant to be…
Round 3 vs. The 141 Card Special
My opponent for this match showed up with 141 unsleeved Standard legal cards. I had to pull out every trick I knew to win this one. Like casting my spells.
I boarded in Emrakul, the Aeons Torn against him because I wanted to prove that new players don’t actually like big unfair monsters. I was playing a foil copy, which meant that there was no reminder text on the card. This prompted my opponent to ask a very satisfying question.
“What does Annihilator 6 mean?”
His two Dragon’s Claws protected some of his lands from my first swing, but the second got him. I had never cast an Emrakul before this game. I don’t really intend to ever again.
Round 4 vs. Goblin Combo
When my opponent sat down for this match he was talking with his friend about how nice the pair of shoes he found in the dumpster was. I mean, they barely had any holes in them. His body odor was slightly distracting throughout the match and the Camel Turkish Royals that he used as Goblin tokens were very telling. His deck featured such hits as Wort, the Raid Mother and Goblin War Strike.
Needless to say, I found a way to lose this one.
Ian Ellis was watching this match and asked if I wanted a hug after it was over. I told him that a beer would be better.
My opponent, who hadn’t left yet, agreed. Then he added that he wasn’t allowed to drink at home. Then he added that it was because he had post-traumatic stress disorder. Ian, being the nice guy that he is, asked how he got it. Then he told us the story of how his dad accidentally shot him.
I just… I can’t make this stuff up.
Mike Hawthorne won the event and we went out for pizza afterword. We were accompanied by Forrest Ryan and Jared “J-Bones Brojangles” Brown and played one of my favorite games. It’s called Jared buys all the drinks. If you’ve never played it you should really check it out.
We ended up going to some house party in the middle of nowhere which sounded like fun, considering that I hadn’t been to a party where I didn’t know most of the people in quite a while. When I woke up the next morning I discovered a sombrero full of Chex Mix on my floor. Good night.
The moral of the story is that you should always be willing to try new things – both to challenge yourself and to have a few laughs. This can lead to some bad times to be sure, but you’ll usually come out of them with a good story to tell.
Thanks for reading.
-Ryan “The Dan ‘More Shots’ Broverton” Overturf