Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Results from the Magic Pro Tour Qualifier

I wanted to write a quick follow-up to my last post about Magic where I mentioned I planned on going to a big tournament last weekend.

Well, I went. Here's my report.

I woke up early Saturday morning and met my good friend Toby and a group he knows through his work and various Magic exploits at Gamma Ray Games for breakfast at the 5 Point (NOT the 5 Spot as I kept confusing it with). It wasn't nearly as sketchy as I had made it out to be in my mind. The food was good, the coffee was hot, and I did not get stabbed. A good start.

The PTQ was a little slow getting started because the turn-out was much larger than the organizers had planned for: 295 people. A fair amount of neck beards were in attendance.

This particular event used a format called Sealed. Typically with Magic, you bring your own deck of cards to play with. But with Sealed, they give you the cards there and you build your deck right on the spot. This is something I am terrible at. If you've ever played Dominion with me (where its core mechanic is to build a deck), a game where I don't place in last is a pleasant surprise.

Anyway, I got my 6 packs of 15 cards each, and the 30 minute deck building phase began. After flipping through all 90 cards about a half-dozen times, I couldn't even tell you if the cards were printed in English I was so lost. I only needed to pick 23 cards from this pool, it shouldn't be this hard, right?

It was an extremely intimidating and humbling experience to be that guy at the table who obviously had no idea what he was doing. But, I've played Magic for years, I can swing this! So I calmed down, fanned through my card pool one more time, and started to see some connections. Toby finished his deck before I did, and he came over to see how I was doing and gave me some very vague tips to help me with my final card choices.

A few minutes passed and I finally settled on 24 cards, turned in my deck registration sheet, and started shuffling while I waited for the first round to start.

Ever since I started playing again earlier this year, every event I have gone to I have finished at .500, and this one was no exception. I lost the first round, then proceeded to win, lose, and win again. There were no blow-outs, all the games pretty much came down to a final turn and were a lot of fun. My opponents were nice, though a few made some underhanded cracks about my slow and deliberate playing style.

With 295 players, there were nine 50 minute rounds. By the time the 4th round ended, it was close to 4:00pm. A 1st place finish was far out of reach with two loss notches on my belt, and having to play another five rounds to see if I could make the top 64 (and winning some packs in the process) did not sound especially appealing. So, I ducked out early to go drink beer with my wife.

It went okay.

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