Posts made by brianpk80
posted in Vintage Community read more

@smmenen said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:


You've lost sight of the forest for the trees.

The issue here is the swiftness with which a card was banned in Vintage, based, I believe, on an over-solicitousness to the most-frequent MTGO players.

I started expressing my concerns on this topic nearly three years ago, including with this article here.

In that article, I wrote, with growing unease, about how the change in the format is being experienced, and how it underlies widening cleavages between segments of the player base regarding B&R policy. The article is brief (for me) and worth revisting in its entirety.

These are all legitimate concerns and I agree, they are worth revisiting. Of course I understand they were integral to your overall position here and mine is not that far off from yours.

Nor is that to say that no other motives or intents could be present in juxtaposing his tweets. It is, of course, always possible to do one thing for multiple reasons, as is called "mixed motives" in law. But you do not credit this motive at all. [] To be clear, one could more reasonably argue that my averred purpose was the primary purpose, but I had a secondary, or subsidiary motive among the list of 9 above. But you have foreclosed that possibility in your own posts.

I appreciate what, at long last, appears to be a tacit confession. I figured it was implicit that having a motivation to shade someone as well as one to make a valid point are not mutually exclusive. Certainly on a final exam, we would articulate every seemingly mundane and self-evident morsel of thought to demonstrate actual knowledge but outside of that context, I assume an understanding on your part that doesn't require me to insult your intelligence. This can be received as a compliment, but it certainly should not be misconstrued as me waiving (lol) an argument that's self-evidently part of the original one.

To be clear, I believe your concern about the celerity of B&R action is real and something worth discussing. I also think that the flow of the thread gave you an opportunity to sneak in a catty jab at Matt that was impulsive and not particularly calculated or diabolical. I don't believe this is a severe offense; you're not a bad person and you're not on trial. Again, it's all water under the bridge. I enjoyed this exercise but there is nothing more to say on this topic! ❀

But my point remains: law provides workable definitions tested over generations that can provide clarity, guidance and structure to debates such as this. Does not mean we should always apply them, but they can be of use.

It can. I may be more pessimistic but my experience has led me to believe law is often a Rorschach test where normative actors see what they want to see (and even pretend to see for argument's sake). That's certainly true for Con Law (that stands for Constitutional Law, peanut gallery, not laws about fraud!). πŸ˜„ But certainly there are parts that are as close to unambiguous as we can hope given the limits of language. A drinking age of 21 is clean and straightforward for instance.

Oh, I absolutely do remember, but I disagree that that was the saddest November. You are referring to the November of 2004, but the saddest November was that of 2016.

What much of the country experienced in 2016 hit me in 2004. I'm sure you can appreciate how much closer I was to its impact cough cough, ballot box Constitutional Amendments fueling turnout The first shocking disillusionment is the hardest. Numbness mitigates subsequent ones. I'm very bothered by attempts to rehabilitate figures from that era.

@tittliewinks22 said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

The word juxtapose is being used entierly too much in this thread about kitties.

That's Stephen's fault. πŸ˜„

@serracollector said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

So for anyone still following this BANNED AND RESTRICTED announcement, Lurrus was banned, just wanted to make sure people who click this link can see what actually happened with B and R. Your welcome!

Oh no, did we vacuum the oxygen out of the thread? Wait, wait, don't answer.

posted in Vintage Community read more

Khahan, I love Paper Magic. I wish I could go to more events. It was more accessible when I lived 20 minutes away from The Player's Guild and before I had a few things pop up in the past few years that made regular travel out of state on the weekends not as possible to do regularly as I'd prefer. It has nothing to do with the caliber of events; as far as I can tell they've all been great. I still consider myself an IRL Paper Player first, despite enjoying MTGO quite a bit.

posted in Vintage Community read more

@smmenen said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

You and Matt claim that I misrepresented his position by posting the first tweet doesn't even make sense on its face. The second tweet in the same image dispels any illusions that I was attempting to demonstrate a contradiction with anything in this thread.

It was your truncation of his thread that gave an inaccurate portrayal of his position, hence the misrepresentation. Juxtaposing those two statements together made him appear fickle and inconsistent.

That's because the second tweet in the same image was consistent with his position in this thread.

There was nothing wrong with the second tweet.

So, here you are claiming not that I misrepresented his position, but that I was trying to "make him look bad"? How exactly? By suggesting a contradiction? I thought I already answered that charge before: the juxtaposition of the two tweets demonstrate not a contradiction, but a 10 day change of opinion, based upon intervening experiences.

Again, the overall effect made him look volatile and ridiculous. It was reminiscent of an attack ad.

Like most pseudo-controversies on The Mana Drain, the analysis does not actually call for legal skills.

No, it doesn't call for it, but it does help from time to time. Law provide clarity and well-worn guidance. Law has established workable definitions and elements that can be applied to adduce evidence or draw conclusions that might support one claim over another.

Matt claims I misrepresented his views. In law, a "misrepresentation" is a "false statement of a material fact."

No, there is no universal and ubiquitous definition of misrepresentation in "law." There may be one in some edition of Restatement of Torts. Some jurisdictions may decline to use it. It's used in Contract Law in ways that are not identical to Torts. It shows up in multiple additional areas of law, random subsections of statutes, international law, and of course then must be defined in any number of languages which opens the quest for precision up to any further number of adulterating factors.

Additionally, a misrepresentation is not simply a lie or a false statement of fact as one would find in defamation. A true statement of material fact can be presented in a manner that misrepresents its truth in context. For instance, "Bette said 'I ate my children' " is technically true because Bette did use those words when stating "I deny that I ate my children." But the former statement conveys something close to contradictory to what the full statement actually conveys. Hence, her statement was misrepresented.

Applied here, it is more likely that participants in this thread used the term misrepresentation as it is understood colloquially rather than legally, even setting aside the lack of a universal term definition. That means there was no shying from engaging with your technical analysis; I simply found it inapposite as I believe I've communicated previously.

If he or you wish to accuse me of something else, I would certain consider that accusation on its merits, but let's be as clear as possible about what it is we are accusing me of. Because if my "crime" is something else, then don't label me as misrepresenting his views. Call it for what it is.

You are not being accused of any crime or being sued.

My point was far more important than Matt's comparatively trivial tweets. I was arguing that DCI policy should be more balanced, and that a swift banning was too fast. Matt's tweet was buried in the middle of this much larger point. You seem to think that the main purpose of my post was to jab Matt. Quite the contrary. The purpose was to argue against a swift banning, and Matt's tweets nicely illustrated some of the premises to my argument.

I don't believe you're unable to understand how positioning two contradictory statements by one person next to each other is unflattering. Surely you remember a certain someone who "voted for" the war "before I voted against it" and how damaging that clip was. Saddest November of all time.

posted in Vintage Community read more

@smmenen said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

I'm not questioning your intent; I'm asserting it.

To assert that a person's intent is different from or contrary to one's averred reason is to question it, in the sense of "to doubt or dispute." There is really no need to assert or even question intent at all in this case.

That is correct insofar as the reason I don't doubt your intent is because I can state with a high degree of confidence that it was not as above board as this implausible deniability parade suggests. Thou doth protest too much, ami. Hence, I agree, there's no need to question what is already known and again, water under the bridge.


@smmenen said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

I'm not valuing the lives of those players any more or less than the others. And if it read that way, I sincerely apologize, because that was not at all my intent.

Appreciated and classy. Glad to know that wasn't a conscious suggestion.

Apply your legal skills: Is there a single fact (material or otherwise) relating to his posts that I misrepresented? And if so, what is it? I'd very much like to know.

You posted an image of Matthew stating something that directly contradicted his position throughout this thread but omitted the part where he said straight up that he believed his position would change over time which would have drastically mitigated the appearance of inconsistency. As stated before, it made him look bad to the average -casual- reader and succeeded in advancing a hostile pattern of antagonism and prurient psychological inquiries & implications that befell him in this thread, all conducted under a veil of upstanding behavior.

Like most pseudo-controversies on The Mana Drain, the analysis does not actually call for legal skills. It's a humanities issue. Certainly anyone could concoct a devil's advocate hypothetical counterargument, and you've done so here with flair. But it was a futile exercise. No one doubts your acumen as a logician; you're indeed superb. That however makes additional evidence of your ability redundant. I avoid "the lawyer card" in many personal interactions since I believe non-lawyers find it pedantic and off-putting. YMMV.

First of all, the image of Matt's tweets don't - and weren't intended to show - that Matt is volatile. His posts here do that amply enough.

Now we're talking. That is some true sass.

I think your larger challenge will be to pry him away from MTGO πŸ˜›

I can't even stop him from feeding his addiction to Burger King. His MTGO antics and decks with 1 actual win condition seem harmless by contrast.



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@smmenen said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

More generally, I don't think it's productive to try to question a person's intent (as you are doing here with me), as intent is difficult to discern let alone establish (as the body of civil rights law demonstrates). I would, however, look at the words people use and evaluate arguments as presented, and not try to read a hidden or obscure motive.

I'm not questioning your intent; I'm asserting it. There was no reason to reference Matt to make the banal self-evident point you were making, which does happen to be accurate. Frequent players adapt and change more rapidly.

Additionally, one cannot spend several days trying to psychologically profile someone and then cry foul when another asserts their own questionable motivations. Given the prevalence of COVID-19 in both California and Pennsylvania, this is certainly not the right time for unclean hands.


Yes, because he was the only player who met two criteria:

  1. He is known for playing frequently on MTGO (and thus comprising part of that group)

Yes, and you lobbed a veiled insult there that MTGO players have some sort of luxury of time & circumstance which is a polite way of implying that they don't have a life. That's untrue for the online players I know. I know I'm certainly not out on the streets of Philly or even "little Philly" (Wilkes-Barre) buzzed from one malt beverage quite as often as I was when I was the prince of the night, single and (dare I say it) a bit more svelt in my 20's, but TBH I've found I enjoy my time with Magic & other players more than other crowds. YMMV.

Again, what did I "misrepresent," exactly?

You made it appear to a casual observer that Mr. Murray was volatile and contradicting himself. As I said above though, it's water under the bridge.

A scientist is, in the ideal, supposed to be objective, neutral, dispassionate, etc. When it comes to B&R policy, these are not words I would associate with Matt.

I have observed a pattern where Matt, more than other players, is quick to call for restrictions and/or bannings. That tendency does not strike me the pattern of a scientist, but rather an advocate. His 4/23 post is on point: it's not a data-based opinion, but rather a personal dislike for a particular interaction.

Leaving Matt out of the equation, in general, yes, I see that issue with self-styled science supremacists and it's a smart observation.

Oh, yes. Twin Peaks is one of my favorite shows of all time, a brilliant opus on the alienation and horror in the underbelly of suburban America. But I doubt that endorsement will help your cause here πŸ™‚

I suspect you're familiar with the studies showing that the stronger the evidence presented that counters an opposing position, the more likely the "incorrect" party is to further entrench into an untrue belief, rather than seeing the light. He'll probably avoid the show now out of spite, for both of us.

Stay safe,


posted in Vintage Community read more

@smmenen said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

I didn't juxtapose those two tweets to suggest that he was contradicting himself, or else I would have hidden the date stamp (which would have been misleading).

Rather, I juxtaposed those two tweets to illustrate how quickly he changed his mind. In that sense, it was "inconsistent," especially since he said we should "wait some time," but that wasn't why I presented them. I wasn't trying to portray him as inconsistent.

Quite the contrary. I presented the juxtaposed tweets to illustrate the speed with which someone could change their opinion on something like this, because of how much they were playing online and data was being generated, serving my larger point about the different segments of the Vintage player base and how they experience Vintage.

Oh my. To your credit, this is a clever retroactive whitewashing of intent, but a PR spin nonetheless. Any point about players changing their minds rapidly could have been made without reference to Matthew, but something compelled you to select him specifically. The misrepresentation was audacious considering how directly the truncated statements right beneath it contradicted the point your curation pretended he was making. We all know that much of the population reads a headline and moves on to the next thing so it is reasonable to expect at least some readers would see the quoted statement without inconveniencing themselves to verify its accuracy; they may even defer to your general credibility as a rationale for not doing so. The tactic appears intended by desire to embarrass or provoke Mr. Murray and it clearly succeeded in the latter.

That does not excuse Matt's grizzling but it cannot be said to be unexplained, least of all by whatever errant psychological profile you are trying to imply. This is basic human behavior. A provokes B. B barks at A.

We all have our pet peeves. For some, it's hypocrisy. Mine is blithe arrogant malice (ie an emotional/physical abuser, Wall St. fraudster, etc.). You don't register in that category at all for me, so I'm rarely disturbed by any of our dialogue, regardless of how adversarial/debating it may seem to a detached observer. Matt values science and his pet peeve is knowledgeable people misleading others or crafting erudite but specious arguments, especially when they are too clever by half. This is as true in his politics as it is in his Magic interactions. The implicit compliment is that he wouldn't be bothered if he didn't believe you were capable of (what he considers) better.

@smmenen said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

While you, Brian, have consistently (going back more than a decade) expressed a desire to restrict and/or ban a greater quantity of cards than anyone else, you've always matched or counter-balanced that preference with a willingness to let things play out or settle more than others, such as Matt.

Thank you, Stephen. I appreciate the nuance and discernment. I've reluctantly taken on the role of the gadfly moving the Overton Window but am not an ideologue in practice and am finding my positions are more conservative than some out there. Right now, there are only two cards I would restrict--Paradoxical Outcome and Hollow One. Even Underworld Breach needs more observation.

The fact that Matt is often among pioneers in calling for restrictions, most of which have been realized, is a testament to his insight I believe. He sees where things are headed quickly.

I responded directly since your explanation was addressed to me though as I said above, the recent turmoil is water under the bridge. My main problem with Matt is his reluctance to start watching Twin Peaks. Ryan and I have both vouched for it and yet, despite broadly respecting our acumen and recommendations, he has yet to follow through. Perhaps you could lend some weight to this. IIRC, you've seen and enjoyed the series.



posted in Vintage Community read more

@smmenen said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

There is alot of nuance here, and I agree with much of it. But that underscores one of the reservations I have about this banning. It feels like the problems in the format right now aren't actually Lurrus caused or even Lurrus significant, but rather Lurrus is an ephiphenomenon, that is a symptom rather than the cause. We'll see what happens now, but if Breach and PO continue to perform at those levels, or near to it, then maybe Lurrus wasn't really a "problem" so much as those two decks were problematic.

I think this is accurate. There wasn't a "Lurrus deck" any more than there is a "Black Lotus deck" or a "Mox Emerald deck." Dying to Deathrite Shaman on Turn 6 against an optimal (and hence patient) player running Lurrus is a very different scenario from Lurrus fueling the tactics whose degeneracy predated him. He was at his worst when providing the otherwise elusive consistent bridge from opener to resolving Paradoxical Outcome or making Underworld Breach recursive.

It feels very much like the Gush v. Mentor debate. Granted, they were both dealt with in the end, but many people projected Mentor's problems onto Gush, mistakenly in the first instance.

Setting aside differences on relative fault between Gush & Monastery Mentor, yes, the comparison works as an analogy.

I appreciate the affirmation about my concerns, but on the point about Matt's tweets, I don't believe I misrepresented anything.

You're welcome. You portrayed him as inconsistent and contradictory by omitting sections where he specifically made allowances for the facts that he both reserved the right to evolve and predicted it would happen. It is water under the bridge though.

posted in Vintage Community read more

@protoaddict said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

@brianpk80 said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

One way we can look at the B&R action is to consider that banning Lurrus is actually a much less drastic change than printing Lurrus was. The milk was spilled in April, not May.

This is I think a very fair way to look at this, but it also feels like something we are going to be saying more and more set after set as the power creep and uncharted territory gets even more prominent. Prior to companions we had:

  • The printing of a 4x, arguably more powerful Yawgs will
  • some number of waves of the most powerful planeswalkers ever made
  • a 1 card I win combo that was restriction resistant (karn and lattice)
  • The best blue hate card maybe ever (veil of summer)
  • One of the most busted effect lands printed (mystic sanctuary)
  • A new pitch counter that at least exists in the same ballpark as FOW
  • A pitch artifact/enchantment hate card that may be the most powerful ever made

I mean, the list goes on and I believe that is only the last year.

All good examples. The power creep and release saturation is what's affecting the rate of change more than the B&R updates which haven't even adequately kept up with them despite 7 adjustments in the past year.

posted in Vintage Community read more

I was hoping to see banned as a Companion instead of an outright ban like many others. In the long term, the simplicity of an outright ban makes the overall B&R list slightly cleaner, but I'm not sure that outweighs being able to brew with Lurrus as a maindeck option. He's strong enough to operate in various contexts, perhaps even more in a future context where the multiverse is much less hostile than Format Karakas.

I wrote a long response recently but it's already buried so I'll re-post the parts relevant to the gravity of the first explicit power level in some time.

@brianpk80 said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

There's been a myth about "no power level bans" in Vintage for a long time that's been put to rest definitively by some recent tweets by Mark Rosewater. Yes, Vintage has a banned list and it's still available as corrective action for cards that warp gameplay. Channel and Mind Twist were unbanned because those cards no longer met the criteria for banning. It was not because Wizards decided to abolish the ban list itself. Though as time passed without any subsequent bans, that interpretation became prematurely ingrained and inadequately challenged, even while Time Vault itself was stealth banned via power-level errata until 2008.


@brianpk80 said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

On the bright side for more preservative views, that means if Lurrus or the Companions are banned or banned as Companions in Vintage it won't signify a grand rupture of the format's foundation. It's just an exercise of a reserved power that hasn't been used in many years. Starting the game with a functional +1 hand size is a very drastic change whose magnitude can justify a weighty response.

One way we can look at the B&R action is to consider that banning Lurrus is actually a much less drastic change than printing Lurrus was. The milk was spilled in April, not May.

posted in Vintage Community read more

There's of lot of worthwhile discussion in this thread.

@desolutionist said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

Since Lurrus operates out of the graveyard and is a 3/2, it can be attacked from multiple angles. I really enjoyed that aspect of the games. It can be slightly frustrating if your opponent has a Lotus, since he automatically has a turn one play through Lurrus, but even more frustrating was facing a Paradoxical Outcome opponent. Seeing that deck makes me not want to play more than anything, so I hope they target that before Lurrus.

This is a good observation. In my two weeks playing the Lurrus format, what stood out to me most was how much it illuminated how degenerate Paradoxical Outcome and to a lesser extent Underworld Breach are.

I don't mind the grindy Lurrus decks so much. Often the most explosive (and seemingly problematic) plays are not the best ones, as rushing him out prematurely where this environment is so prepared to remove or neutralize him is a recipe for disaster. Testing is showing me that patience is rewarded.

Although I've been enjoying Vintage recently, this seems to be a minority view and the intensity of dislike fueling abandonment is severe. Banning Lurrus as a Companion seems to be the most narrowly tailored solution. I'd be happy with action on PO as well. It's never a bad time to clean up the few remaining blights that escaped the more urgently needed restrictions in the past year.

Stephen raises a good point about the difference in relative adaptation velocity between more frequent players and players who enjoy Vintage as an occasional pastime. It was not necessary to truncate one of Matt's threads to misrepresent him as inconsistent, but the point remains valid. I've been listening to a lot of players who are primarily paper Magicians and recognize that contingent has legitimate concerns that deserve a voice. I'd propose we all recognize that the speed of format change isn't necessarily rooted in B&R but by the admitted power creep in design and saturated release schedule. The format is going to change rapidly irrespective of whether or not corrective measures are taken so constant change doesn't need to be an argument against corrective measures since there's little chance of achieving stability under this design philosophy anyway.

@protoaddict said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

@pilsburydohboy42 said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

@protoaddict said in B&R Announcement - May 18, 2020:

The format NEEDS a restricted list and NEEDS to not have power level bans.

Is there a reason that you are so adamant about this?

What is the draw to the format if not for the restricted cards and the small subset that are not restricted here but banned in legacy? Remove those from the equation and the format is very close to just being legacy. You can't not have a restricted list and still have lotus, moxen, ancestral, etc not be banned, and if you ban them here they are officially unplayable everywhere. The whole point of the format is to be able to play cards you cannot play elsewhere.

It's an open question what constitutes the core identity of Vintage and ultimately, it means different things to different people. That means the "whole point of the format" for one person may be an afterthought for another or even a frustration. The best direct information from Wizards we have now is that its maintenance tenet is to keep the current player base happy. That doesn't tell us much, but it's something.

There's been a myth about "no power level bans" in Vintage for a long time that's been put to rest definitively by some recent tweets by Mark Rosewater. Yes, Vintage has a banned list and it's still available as corrective action for cards that warp gameplay. Channel and Mind Twist were unbanned because those cards no longer met the criteria for banning. It was not because Wizards decided to abolish the ban list itself. Though as time passed without any subsequent bans, that interpretation became prematurely ingrained and inadequately challenged, even while Time Vault itself was stealth banned via power-level errata until 2008. For history fans, the four other cards most frequently assessed for the full axe were Tinker, Yawgmoth's Will, Library of Alexandria, and Mirror Universe. Banning the Delve spells also had a brief window of open support in the mid 2010's.

On the bright side for more preservative views, that means if Lurrus or the Companions are banned or banned as Companions in Vintage it won't signify a grand rupture of the format's foundation. It's just an exercise of a reserved power that hasn't been used in many years. Starting the game with a functional +1 hand size is a very drastic change whose magnitude can justify a weighty response. Debating whether that benefit is 11% or 12% or 11.12% is an exercise in diminishing returns. It's a significant advantage and the 11% was reasonable for the purposes of analysis.

We'll find out soon enough.

posted in Vintage Tournaments read more

Really great stream to watch. TY for sharing.

posted in Vintage Strategy read more

@mike-noble said in Claim the Firstborn:

@serracollector said in Claim the Firstborn:

@Mike-Noble shows how much I follow new cards and what format they are allowed in πŸ™‚

Hearing that the guy named β€œSerra collector” is unaware of how the set with LITERAL SERRA printed in it works is peak disappointment.

Gurl, this is a hot level of sass.

posted in Vintage News read more

@ajfirecracker said in SMIP # 92: Magic 2020 Vintage Set Review:

@brianpk80 said in SMIP # 92: Magic 2020 Vintage Set Review:
How could you possibly criticize something in a way that is less of an attack in a wholesale fashion?

Easily. Anyone with the most basic training in communication could answer that. "Nice work. I wish it came out earlier, but life happens."

You instead put forth a smug psychology lesson to deride the show as "less than thrilling." The insult was voluntary and intentional.

posted in Vintage News read more

The podcast is freely available content focused on a niche subhobby of a niche hobby that we're lucky to have. It's lively, thought-provoking, and consistently entertaining. Attacking Stephen and Kevin's generous work in wholesale fashion reeks of unjustified entitlement. Props to Stuart for addressing this in the comment above.

posted in Tournament Reports read more

Wow, that was a stunning report. What an incredible show of support. Thank you for the NYSE--all of them. We all respect that the stress can become too much to continue it, but we will always be there if it returns.

posted in Tournament Reports read more

Excellent write-up! It was great seeing you as usual. I didn't know what was going on with your first Round match and am glad to hear everything worked out. Kudos to Dan for doing that. Congrats on T4!

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@blindtherapy said in N.Y.S.E. Open VI - 7/20/19 - Long Island, New York:

@brianpk80 yeah, this is sullivan.

Oh that's classic. I recognize you instantly in person but not on the internet. Sorry about that and nice job at the event!

posted in Tournament Reports read more

It looks like a strong and informed choice for this metagame. Nice design. Congrats on the high finish!

posted in Tournament Reports read more

First, a big thank you to Nick Detwiler whose incredible events over the past several years were life changing. I mean that very literally because in 2013, when I returned to paper Vintage, I thought I would just be playing locally a few times a year. I was convinced, reluctantly at first, to try an event in Lancaster, PA and then take the giant step towards going full roadie to New York for the first NYSE. The experiences were so exciting--venues filled with people who shared our furious interest in this ancient format, faces put to names from online forums, people sharing hilarious stories all day long, watching the Top 8 matches in person at a marquee event, I could go on. With all respect to the nightlife era of our 20's, I remember thinking at age 33, "Hmmm, I don't think I've had this much fun since I was 17. This is where I belong." It's been an unforgettable journey since then--a windfall of strong friendships, great matches, deckbuilding discussions, Dragonlords, Wolf tokens, trophies, Notion Thieved Treasure Cruises, VSL, team Magic, one (and only one) Modern tournament, dozens of SMIP podcasts, 27,000 arguments on the Mana Drain, a partridge in a pear tree, and of course, making and witnessing our own hilarious stories like the legends of old. None of it would have been part of my life if I hadn't gone to New York in the summer of 2013. I'm eternally grateful to Nick whose superb events opened my eyes to how great paper Vintage at large events could be.

Congratulations also are in order for the deserving champ, phenomenal player Joe Brennan, JP Kohler, other members of the Top 8 and the cadre of Vintage scientists whose rigorous work I witnessed firsthand as they designed and tested the [censored] out of their airtight Karn Shops list: Vasu Balakrishnan, Will Magrann, Ryan Eberhart, Joel Lim, Will Dayton, and Rich Shay (who audibled to evil Dredge at the last minute. Karma does not reward necromancy! πŸ™‚ ) Sending a unit of 8 Academians largely on an identical 75 to this event and having the 50% of the Top 8 come from this squad was a great testament to the value of dedication, brainstorming, and recorded testing. I salute them all.

I tried experimenting with a blue Forge list while this was going on, but it didn't come together. As I was not able to stain my soul by serving Mishra or the Grave Troll, I went with a BUG deck that eschewed Deathrite Shamans in favor of the classic Tinker mana base, sans Sol Ring, but replete with Yawgmoth's Will, Academy, Bob-Jace, and removal options that went bigger like Deed or ones stuck around and generated additional utility, including the Queen. Notably, Deed, Vraska, and Garruk Relentless are all part of responsible Bob management. That doesn't mean they'll always be there in a pinch, but it means if they aren't, it wasn't for lack of planning.

alt text

The list had good results for me in testing and I noted that in many of the games I lost, the deck came through but I wasn't paying close attention or chose an incorrect line. With more practice and knowing that I'd be paying more attention in paper than on PC, I thought as a descendant of the Bob-Jace/Tinker decks with which I'm comfortable and experienced, it was a reasonable choice.

The night before the event I cut Dig through Time for a Sorcerous Spyglass since it seemed that being alive or meaningfully participating in the game on Turn 3 was more of an aspiration than a given in the format's current iteration. It worked out since I was able to Spyglass a Karn in the quarter-finals where Dig would have been a total brick and I never missed the spell once throughout the day. Bob was also happy to never see it.

Additional thanks to Calvin Hodges and Shawn Anthony who helped offset a minor setback where a certain West Coast vendor somehow mistook 2 day shipping for 7 day shipping, the end result being that Garruk, Ouphe, extra Dazes and the Queen herself ended up appearing in my mailbox in Pennsylvania around the same time as we were checking into our hotel in New York.

Thank you to my friend David Kaplan who I always enjoy seeing. His company provided a raffle and refreshments for the whole group, including sparkling water which was heaven-sent on that 100,000 degrees Fahrenheit day.

I enjoyed playtesting with Rich the night before even though I died once to a Hollow One. Someone is going to sneak a Hollow One ornament on my Christmas tree at some point leading to a tragedy.

Thank you to Andy Probasco for bringing his multimedia wizardry to New York and allowing everyone to follow along from home.

And finally, thank you to my agent, antagonist, secretary, publicist, protΓ©gΓ©, travel companion, and virtual younger brother Matt Murray (ChubbyRain) for an unforgettable trip, even though he pretends he never heard the original version of "La Isla Bonita," only the rock cover of it that is often played on his channel while streaming. I don't believe him and neither should you. πŸ˜›

Deck List

Mana Base:
3 Polluted Delta
3 Flooded Strand
2 Misty Rainforest
2 Tropical Island
3 Underground Sea
1 Island
1 Tolarian Academy
1 Strip Mine
5 Moxen
1 Black Lotus
1 Mana Crypt

Extra Artifacts:
1 Sensei's Divining Top
1 Sorcerous Spyglass

Critters & Sylvans:
2 Dark Confidant
2 Sylvan Library
1 Snapcaster Mage
1 Trinket Mage
1 Collector Ouphe
1 Yixlid Jailer
1 Blightsteel Colossus

3 Force of Will
2 Daze
2 Mental Misstep
2 Flusterstorm

1 Brainstorm
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Peek
1 Assassin's Trophy

2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
1 Narset, Parter of Veils
1 Vraska, Golgari Queen
1 Garruk Relentless

1 Gitaxian Probe
2 Preordain
1 Time Walk
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Tinker
1 Yawgmoth's Will

1 Pernicious Deed

3 Tormod's Crypt
2 Yixlid Jailer
1 Grafdigger's Cage
2 The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
2 Nature's Claim
1 Mindbreak Trap
1 Null Rod
1 Abrupt Decay
1 Thrun, the Last Troll
1 Ophiomancer

Some notes on card choice:

I don't run Scalding Tarns because it is the fetchland I am most likely to encounter and name when I do a blind Spyglass v. blue.

Ophiomancer is a buffer against Hollow Ones and other large creatures (cough Eldrazi) that could steam roll my poor army of fragile worker bees. It needed to be there because I changed Infernal Reckoning to an extra Nature's Claim hedging more against Karn Shops than Eldrazi.

I didn't run Sol Ring cause it doesn't help with turn 1 Bob/Sylvan or hate pieces (Jailer, Rod). Also, I'm not interested in keeping hands that rely on it for obvious reasons.

Thrun is for blue. Rush him out, ignore their PW's and focus on keeping their critters off the table is a solid strategy that's been successful more often than not.

Decay comes in against blue because Assassin's Trophy is so much worse there, but it's a blank in too many other important match-ups to be maindeck when Vraska, Garruk, and Pernicious Deed can already dispense with most things I'd want to Decay anyway.

Rumors of Jace's demise are exaggerated. I was pretty down on him too in my Xerox lists and what I've discovered is that it's not the card JTMS that's the problem but the lack of acceleration. He really wants things like Mana Crypt, full Moxen, and Tolarian Academy to be happy. It makes a world of a difference and he was great all day.

Never Force something if you can Daze it. Especially against Dredge.

Pernicious does a lot of things and is ideal in responding to the multiple CMC critter hordes one might see from the "Bane of BUG" Young Pyromancer and friends.

The potential for discord between Collector Ouphe/Null Rod and acceleration/Top is offset by the fact that the former responds to imminent threats so urgent that I couldn't care less if I can't spin a prospective Top or use a Mox Ruby if it means shutting down Karn's toys or Outcome. In other matches where Null Rods aren't good, if the Ouphe is going to be painful in a lopsided way for me, naturally I won't play it (unless we need an emergency blocker) and it gets boarded out. Classic Bob-Jace wouldn't run Null Rod, but this one keeps the Tinker without doing Vault-Key, so having the Rods is worth it.

I finally kicked the Library habit. My favorite card. It seduces me into keeping hands I shouldn't. Could not do it in this uber-punishing metagame.

Tournament Report

Round 1: Pitch Dredge, Win 2-0

I had no idea what he was on and he seemed well-dressed and sophisticated enough to not be on Dredge. πŸ˜› Kidding, necromancers. But I was deceived. He led with Bazaar. I Probed him, saw no interaction, Time Walked and played Peek, drawing Yixlid Jailer leading to concession. In the maindeck? Of course. Crimes against the living cannot go unpunished.

Game 2, I had a hand that beautifully reflected the decklist's and creator's unabashed abhorrence of Dredge. At one point, I played a Tormod's Crypt and after it was on the table for 15 seconds, my opponent said, "Wait, I can counter that? Can I counter that?" I let him. He said he was new to the format and I was there mostly to have a good time and support the event. It didn't matter and I figured it was more important to give a good community impression. He still died to double Jailers and his Hollow Ones did not pay tribute at the Tabernacle so the high priestess, a benevolent scarlet minister named Lady Melisandre incinerated them at the pyre.

Round 2: Jeskai, Win 2-1

Game 1:
He won the die roll, played a cantrip, and passed. I played Time Walk which resolved. I played a Sensei's Top and declined to "Misstep back" when he countered it, then Bob, pass. He played an Arcanist and passed. He called it Smashcaster Mage and I liked the nickname. I played a Snapcaster and Time Walked again, followed by one of the green planeswalkers that eats Dreadhorde Arcanists. He conceded.

In Game 2, I mulled to 6 with a control heavy hand and Top. At one point, I blind drew off Top for a blue card to Force his Dack Fayden and the blue card miraculously ended up being Daze. But he threw more threats at me than my three counters could handle and ended up with Dack in play at the end which turned into the typical Xerox parade of horribles. After drawing a blank on my turn, I conceded.

Game 3, I kept a hand with 3 lands, 3 Moxen, and Jace. It was risky cause it was all on in Jace, but when the Jace didn't get Forced and his +0 Brainstormed into Misstep, Daze, and some other counterspell the game was taken over quickly. Garruk came next. Then Vraska. Each of the planeswalkers including Jace did something horrible to a Dreadhorde Arcanist. I Decayed his Dack and he was able to resolve Treasure Cruise but nothing else of any consequence. I sacrificed one of Garruk's wolves to his flip side and tutored up Thrun, the Last Troll.

Round 3: Jeskai, Loss 1-2

Game 1, I kept a hand with Daze, Flusterstorm, some other counter, Sensei's Top; I think we both mulled to 6. He played an Arcanist turn 1. When he untapped he Ancestralled himself and I got a pit in my stomach. He Misstepped one of my Flusterstorms and paid 1 for the other. The first Recall did not resolve but the second one did. I was depleted; drew and saw no action, condeded.

Game 2, I kept a hand I usually despise due to double Force to Tourach but it served me well (for once). He played Turn 1 Lavinia, I Forced it, he Forced back, I Forced back. He had a lot of Moxen but no red Mana. He Wasted my land. I got a Sylvan to stick. The first 3 had no land so I gorged. He played a Lotus and did not crack it. My next 3 had no land again so I took 2. The following turn, I found the fetchland. He cracked Lotus for red to Pyroblast my Narset and I decided not to counter back because I suspected he had another Pyroblast, which, with Lotus gone, could be rendered impotent later due to lacking Volacnics. He had been passing the turn back several times previously with no action and no red mana. I blew up his 3 other Moxen with Pernicious Deed, Garruk came and the Wolves were hungry. After the game, he showed me his hand was Pyroblast, Pyroblast, Dack Fayden.

Game 3 was broadcast. This match was my only loss in the Swiss so naturally it was featured on camera for the whole world to see. He mulled to 6 and played Ancestral, it resolved. I played a turn 1 Trinket Mage getting Top and had Cage in my hand for Arcanists. He played Lavinia and Strip Mined me so even with multiple Moxen in play, I couldn't even play a Cage or Sensei's Top. I drew no land. I drew spells that could remove Lavinia, including Abrupt Decay, but no land. His Arcanist got going while I drew more non-lands, culminating in an insult-to-injury Mox Emerald and then I conceded.

Round 4: Shredge, Win 2-1

I had a delightful opponent who said he played on MTGO often and I asked what his screen name was. He said he couldn't tell me because it would be a dead giveaway. I stated "The only person I could think of whose name would be a dead giveaway would be Zias." I didn't think it was really him. But it was! He introduced himself then. I couldn't believe it. He is famous for his innovative Shops/Dredge hybrid which I always admired.

I had a bizarre opener of Lotus, Mana Crypt, Jet, Vraska, gobble my own Mana Crypt. It was decent but he very quickly had that Hogaak thing in play next to a Hollow One + 2 Bloodghasts and an Amalgam and I couldn't mount a commensurate defense or find the really broken cards in time.

In Game 2, he had a Leyline of Sanctity in play pre-game which was okay cause I didn't board in all of my Dredge hate for Shredge, leaving out many of the Crypts due to Null Rod. I played a Grafdigger's Cage. He played a Trinisphere. I Spyglassed Bazaar. I played a Jace. I wanted to Nature's Claim his Trinisphere and start doing fireworks but he suddenly put one half of Depths combo and Urborg into play with very few, if any, cards in hand. Having already used my Spyglass, I was pretty cold to it aside from one Strip Mine wherever it was so I had to claim his Leyline to start fatesealing and keep that evil at bay. He didn't assemble it.

In Game 3, my hand was 3 accelerants, Fetchland, Tolarian Academy, Jace, Cage. The kind of thing that looks super strong but I know to be susceptible to certain Shops-esque openers on the draw which I expected. Still I kept. He led with Null Rod. I played all my Moxen, fetchland, and Recalled. Next turn I played Cage and used Academy for UUUU to cast Jace. Things got out of hand. He Wasted my Academy but predictably, Jace kept finding land. I think I beat him down with a Bob and Yixlid Jailer.

Round 5: BUG Depthstill, Win 2-0 (?)

The only reason I know this was a Standstill deck is because much later on, I heard people mention a Depthstill deck having been played at the top tables. To me it just looked like BUG Depths in our match. I saw Life from the Loam, Trops, Seas, Wastelands, Hexmage, Assassin's Trophies, blue countermagic, but not a single Standstill at any point, not even in the graveyard while he was Loaming deep.

Depths makes me a bit anxious since I don't play Legacy and have to pause and parse through the correct timing steps in my head with Wastelanding the Stage every time it comes up. He started Strip Mining me with Life from the Loam. My Spyglass showed he had Depths, Stage, Force, Trophy and Hexmage in hand. Scary! I named Stage. I got Bob and was able to draw land at critical times. He Trophied my Spyglass and I was sad about that but happy to get an Island to put a Jace on the stack despite the incessant Strip Mining. He tapped 5 to Force, which I Dazed. I drew a Strip Mine which complicated his Depths plan and prevented his Hexmage from making Marit, but for a while I was certain I was going to lose somehow. Something I did got Mindbreak Trapped. Eventually I played Yawgmoth's Will and Demonic Tutor for Tinker, Time Walk. I used a Force from my graveyard on his second Mindbreak Trap. It was the first time I cast Tinker all day.

Game 2 He had DT, Hexmage, Depths, Time Walk, and some mana. I don't remember everything but I know I Strip Mined his Depths, he played a Sylvan and drew all 3 but did nothing (I assume it was countermagic). He was having trouble finding Depths. I was debating playing Jace to tease out a Force but instead I drew my own Force and played Tinker for the win.

It's possible that this round was 2-1 and I can't remember a whole game I lost or if I just felt like I was going to lose for so long that I can't be entirely sure I didn't. It was a long match and "5 minutes left in the round" was heard shortly before the Tinker.

Round 6: Paradoxical Outcome Win 2-1

This match was featured here:

The only thing I'd add from seeing the commentary is that the reason I conceded Game 2 is because my hand was Lotus, Mana Crypt, Jace, Flusterstorm, and some other demanding CMC things like Assassin's Trophy/Garruk so when he put Lavinia into play turn 1 even after using his land drop to Preordain, it meant that I would not be casting any spells for a very long time. Hand goes Treasure -> Trash. Jeremy had Outcome immediately after Lavinia, not visible on camera, which was enough for me to concede.

Also, I boarded out Tinker/BSC since he was on something extreme like 4 Chain of Vapors and I'm control here rather than Robot-Aggro. I did keep Garruk as a wincon though since it's only one card and it could keep things like Lavinia or Dark Confidant at bay if it lands early. I didn't know if he was on sideboard Bobs but I've seen them before in Esper PO; they're extremely effective for the PO pilot and I liked having floodgates for that kind of thing.

Round 7: Ravager Shops, ID into Top 8, 6th Seed

Top 8 & Top 4:

Quarterfinals and semifinals matches are here:

I haven't yet watched the replays but after I do, if there were audience questions I could address, I'll return an respond in the comments below or edit the report to include them.

I hope to see everyone again at the next big event (Waterbury!) in October. Best,

-Brian Kelly