Jason’s Archives: Gen Con Wrap-up Extravaganza

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Newly arrived from Gen Con, I am not back on a normal sleeping schedule yet, but I tried.

Five mornings in a row waking up after less than five hours of sleep can take a toll on the human body, especially as we start to approach thirty. Fifty may be the new thirty, but that doesn't make thirty the new fifteen. Attending Gen Con as an exhibitor, I used to get up at 6:00, work until the dealer hall closed at 6:00 pm, tidy up for two hours and afterward head out to the bar until 3:00 am. Then repeat for the next four days. But I'm not the spry 22-year-old I used to be.

While it's possible to get three hours of sleep every night during Gen Con, the entire five day marathon (coupled with the taxing, albeit shorter-than-others'-journeys, four-hour drive home) can lead to quite the Monday morning hangover. So keep your voices down, dim the lights, and let's talk about what happened in Indianapolis.

What Happens in Indianapolis Stays... Thoroughly Photographed and Videotaped For Posterity

If you happened to miss Gen Con, billed as the best four days in gaming, you missed a lot. All of the things, really. Here is a confusing list of happenings taken completely out of context and arranged in a counter-intuitive way, designed to make you feel like a dope for having to work or living in Europe or whatever excuse you had:

Also, this--

My mother said I could be anything when I grew up, so I became a library.

If nothing else, you also missed your chance to snag a set of the Brainstorm Brewery Spirit tokens we were handing out all weekend. Don't miss your chance to grab some at the next GP.

What Happens in Vegas Teaches Sleight of Hand Techniques

Redditor SlimGrin reminded me today of a TED video I watched a while back by Tabletop Magic Master Lennart Green. I watched this video again during the recent scandal in Detroit where a player stood accused of some audacious cheats and we were all left to marvel at his sheer mastery of sleight of hand.

This fascinating video shows how far complicated shuffle tracking and other techniques can take an adept cheater. Tom Martell's analysis (linked above too) is an interesting look at what I'm calling "Puerto Rican Shufflegate" (working title) or PuRiShuGat for short.

There are some compelling questions to ask, such as why Iramain didn't check for a basic land after Path to Exile when he knew the bottom card was Etched Champion and both Mountains were out, but did check later when the [card Etched Champion]Champion[/card] had been shuffled in? This looks like cheating to me, and unfortunately we have some experience watching similar videos for sketchy behavior.

Seriously, though, watch the whole Lennart Green video. It's funny, entertaining, and reveals just how natural a talented cardsmith can make complicated tracking look.

Shuffling a deck presented to you by an opponent should be second nature to you as a player. Also watch for the chop cut; as Martell points out it has no value as a shuffling technique and only serves to put chunks of potentially ordered cards closer to the top of the library.

This is the second scandal involving Vendilion Clique. Whenever a card's exact location in the library is known by either player, there will be temptation to cheat. Exercise some caution out there and let's keep it fair. And by "fair," I mean, "a game where the more highly-skilled player spends twenty-five minutes incrementally eking out well-deserved advantage only to lose to a [card Bonfire of the Damned]Bonfire[/card] off the top."

What Happens at Gen Con is the Only Thing Anywhere

Since they aren't naive beyond belief, Starcity Games and TCGPlayer opted not to hold Open events that would conflict with Gen Con this weekend. I am going to devote my coverage space this week to the World Cup results because I think there is valuable information about Standard therein.

Start With a Big Pile

World Magic Cup Decks: 3-1 or Better

Exhausted yet? We have our work cut out for us. Let's deal with our presumptions about the format first. I opted to start at the top of the page, Ctrl+F "delver" and see how many times the scroll stopped. That number was "36". The total number of decks listed is 86, meaning 42% of the 3-1 and better decks had Delver of Secrets // Insectile Aberration in them.

I don't usually re-use jokes, but I realized I made this exact face when I saw the results.

It would seem that at the most competitive echelons, players really don't want Magic to be fun. No wonder they call them "grinders".

Nothing New Under the Sun

Primarily concerned with making my job simple on occasion, the mothership has taken pains to arrange their coverage page in a manner similar to how I would have in this article. They also took care of something I like to do every week, which is to scour an otherwise boring list of Delver and R/G Aggro piles to find any novel or interesting decks worth discussion. This is, after all, a financial website, and it's not very useful to hear me say, "Herp, [card Bonfire of the Damned]Bonfire[/card] is worth a lot of money, huh? You should have bought those before they hit $50."

What is useful is to point out, once again, that people are doing big things with Trading Post.

I got so sick of being offered a dollar on Trading Post that I took them out of my binder before giving it to dealers. I am hoarding these like they were made out of acorns. It's not a secret that this card is criminally underpriced and many of you have contacted me on Twitter or e-mail to ask my opinion, not to mention our ranting about this card on Brainstorm Brewery. You may consider it bonus financial info in a free article, but really all I'm advocating is to pull the trigger on something you already knew was a good pick-up.

If you can get Trading Post for two or three bucks, it would be silly not to. Even if you don't want to go deep speculating on it, pick up a cheap four-of set for your deckbuilding stock before they go up more. This card is worth building around, and how much do EDH players love a card that does four different things?

Peter Vieren got a deck tech interview, via Zac Hill, on the power and novelty of the R/G Trading Post deck. Who remembers Kuldotha Phoenix?

Another innovation is pushing the [card Talrand, Sky Summoner]Talrand[/card] plan even further than we discussed last week. If it's good value to play free spells to power Talrand and Runechanter's Pike, why not swing for the fences with a Tarmogoyf approximation?

Quirion Dryad does a nice impression of Goyf in an instant-heavy deck. It puts the opponent in an awkward spot by demanding removal lest they get stomped flat before playing a fifth land, and growing scarier every time you counter the spells inevitably aimed at it.

I hope you will agree that even though it's super boring to see Delver decks keep winning, innovation can keep the deck fresh enough to maintain interest.

To see more, check out Lucas Siow's conversation with BDM about U/G Delver.

A special congratulations goes out to the team from Chinese Tai Pei for winning the World Cup. Check out the Brainstorm Brewery homepage in the coming weeks for Marcel's interview with the team after their impressive victory.

Until next time

That does it for me this week. If you don't mind, I plan to lapse into a coma and not wake up until tomorrow when I'll have to process a week's backlog of eBay sales. Take care of each other out there, kids!

Jason Alt
@JasonEAlt on Twitter

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