A Magical Huffalump Resides Here: GP Singapore 2015 and Magic Origins Prerelease

A Magical Huffalump Resides Here

My name is Ed, I am a programmer. Just another dude with another blog. I like MTG, Open Source (more towards FREE software). I like sports, and eventually I hope to do business and do good for the world in general. This blog is gonna be about Magic The Gathering. Decklists and snippets will be posted here. It may lead somewhere or nowhere, as with all things arcane, that was bloody obvious =)

Sunday, July 12, 2015

GP Singapore 2015 and Magic Origins Prerelease

So I went to GP Singapore 2015.

I ended up playing only 4 rounds before I dropped to get a bit of a head start on queuing for Rob Alexander's signature =) It was all worth it.

I was 2-2 at that point in time. At that time if  won all my rounds I could make day 2. But I had to leave by 6 pm sharp anyways as there was a family movie to go to, so in a sense, I was never going to make day 2 :p

So it was really to play the fifth round for points or to see how close I could get to day 2. Points I don't really care for. It only means I can get the World cup qualifier promo cheaper lol. And I thought about winning or losing round 5. I would be pretty depressed if I lost, as that means poor poor bliltz will have to go home with a losing record at 2-3 (I figured at that point i will definitely drop, since I really wanted some cards signed). On the other hand if I won, I would be very very tempted to play round 6. But to what end? I will keep getting tempted to play the following rounds, and I will have to choose to either drop or piss my family by 6 pm. The choice is simple :P

At 2-2 I can say that Blitz can probably take home a few scalps. Well. As long as you are not trying to win the whole thing, I think Blitz is a reasonable deck for a modern tournament :p

I had a little dilemma pre tournament. My deck choices were burn, blitz, posched eggs, or tarmo twin. I only ever really played the tarmo twin a few times. I think I was okay with it. But at the time that I seriously played it, I also played blitz. I alternated between the two in the very short playtesting (lol it was only a one night session :p) but i had a bit of an epiphany. And because of that (well not really, i have always kinda held that opinion), remember that discourse between Sam Black and PV about playstyle and the correct play? PV states that there is always a correct play. While Sam Black was on the theory that everyone had a playstyle and should get a deck that plays along that style.. or the play depends on the playstyle of the player. I think they are really talking about the same thing but with deifferent considerations. In any given situation, there is almost always a correct play. That is what PV is on and I think thats right. on the other hand, I also believe everyone has a playstyle and in my programming and in dealing with people, I have a bit of a newsflash. The shortest path is not always the quickest. If there is a best play, but it is not second nature to you, it may well take you longer to get to the goal as you are going to get stuck or make mistakes. In cases where the best play is not obvious, the gut feel play is what will kick in for most players. They make not be making the best plays yes. But all roads lead to Rome no? The player may not be making the best plays, but he is making the plays he knows and understands and knows how to play around (note that his play style may not be enough to outwit/outdo/outlast the opponent, but that is another story - the point is this is a path he/she is familiar with). This is what I think Sam Black was on, which I agree with, that every player, due to competency, experience and general leanings to whatever, will have his own aspect meshed into his play style. Call it his/her play character. It may well be flawed. He/she may well fare better and be a better player if he/she can change and make the RIGHT play. But there is no denying that a player imposes his/her character onto the way they play, be it clumsy, direct, conservative, aggressive etc. You can learn alot about a person from the way he/she approaches the game. Be it non functional elements, or gameplay or reflections on the game elements or play. Just like in dance ;)

So what was my epiphany when I played blitz and twin. Oh nothing really, just the above tirade. It was two utterly different playstyles. One deck was unbridled aggression, throwing caution to the wind and rewarding you for it (seriously the people stuffing fatties into blitz are doing it wrong, blitz is pure. wanton. aggression.) On the other hand twin is trying to gain value, two for ones. Playing for time with remand. sculpting sculpting. Twin is stronger in that it can play control once it stabilises, or if against something like blitz, the player can simply attempt to mull into the combo. Essentially in the blitz vs twin matchup it boils down to who has the turn 4 kill. So anyways Twin is stronger because it can mull to the turn 4 kill, or it can play the control game, whereas blitz really has only one plan :) What i found was that when I played twin, I enjoyed the control state and when I switched to blitz, it was a little jarring when i had no control over the board state. When I got comfortable with blitz is when I settled in and just let go and let the deck take me where it wants to go, its totally random! Thats the fun in playing blitz, you tend to not care about your win loss, you know when you won, you got lucky and when you lost, the odds were against you. You accept your wins and your losses as they come. Its simple. Whereas when I played the control mode, I was frustrated when i lost as "the game could have been won!" as things were much more in control and you had the knobs and levers to exact that control. And equally when i was in aggro mode and I played control, all that thinking and gaming the opponent for an advantage was rather jarring as well! So I came to the conclusion that certain decks had a way of playing and depending on the player and his play style, he/she may or may not enjoy the deck. Is there a right play? Always! Is there a playstyle? Again as long as the player is human and emotive, Always!

Oh I haven even gone on to the GP have I. lol. Anyways my third option was to play posched eggs. It is essentially a slower and less resilent, less consistent eggs (with the banning of second sunrise) mashed with Krack Clan Ironworks with a bit of Phat. It is a nice solitaire deck. Therein kinda lies its problem. Its fine when you got time to kill and are just twiddling with your phone app. But when you play it physically .... it can take awhile. The problem is most combo deck just hit the requisite cards and you normally die immediately. So there is little grief. There may be alot of unsporting comments about how they did not get to play magic, but hey at least they were'nt hung out to dry ;) And that is the problem with eggs, after waiting for the absolute right moment to pounce in with the combo.... the I take about 20 minutes to achieve the kill. :(   That is not acceptable to myself. I made a personal commitment to only play the deck if i practiced enough such that I can go off and achieve the kill in 10 minutes or less and do so clearly. Mind you, it is mentally sapping to keep track of the mana, the permanents going in and out of the grave. It is hideous. And I meant that as a complement :) I like the deck alot, I have not yet mastered it to the point that I can kill my opponent mercifully quick, hence i abstained from it. 

So it was really between Blitz and TarmoTwin. TarmoTwin i suspect everyone and their pet goldfish is ready for it, so it is likely going to be a known quantity. Blitz is 50/50. But it is also my pet deck, so it gets brownie points in terms of choosing a deck. Besides, I was way way more familar with it. My awesome green deck was not ready yet. because.... I could'nt find matching green sleeves... nvm.

Anyways back to the GP. This time I preregistered and got there in time yay! Thanks YH and Norman for the ride!

I will just briefly describe my matches (I might add on to it later)

My first match was an Abzan deck. It was a horrible match up. Well not really. I am the turn 4 killa ya? Well when I don't get land flooded yes. I will post the life points progress later (if i remember) but essentially I struggled to take him sub 10 or sub 5 at one point? But if it reaches the midgame it is usually too late. I was really just trying my luck in case my opponent was equally flooded. Game 2, I sided in my awesome path to exiles. I think I had 4 path to exiles. I play long long. Opponent only had one lousy rhino. My kitty paths. They no show. I die fast fast to rhino beats. Sadded. but thems the breaks.

Match two I was relegated to the "other" hall. It immediately felt more casual. Reid Duke was some where there with his buddies. At first I thought he must have lost his first match too. But then I realised he is playing some game with his buddies and he is probably on a bye :p Anyways my second opponent was on Faeries, which I think is a force that has yet to show itself.

Still this is a bad match up for him. Mostly because he does most of the work of killing himself. I only needed to keep hammering to get maximum damage while not totally killing off my own guys which are mostly x/1s (which grow ;))
2nd game he did not side out the bitter blossoms.... So that was still good for me. He played spellskite, so I played a little more carefully, attacking then aiming burn at it, spellskite lasted one turn. I realise, mono green's issue is that to pound through spellskite, alot of the buffs are targeted and hence can be redirected, whereas for the other colours, the spells are usually detrimental and will be directed at spellskite anyways. He later played some Faerie that had the Champion key word to take out his own bitter blossom but it was a little too late.

From my end it was pretty simple. Grow. Pound pound pound. Ya. I luvs blitz.

Match three was a guy on burn. I got lucky. Seriously. He tripped a little on lands, i can't remember if it was a flood or a screw. But what I do know is that Burn is ALWAYS one turn ahead of blitz. I have played a few matches and it is the life gain and err burn :p An relatively experienced burn play will usually just casually zap my stuff, take damage and attack and eventually kill me before the turn i kill him. It is mildly frustrating. So I know for a fact, that i got lucky to win the first game.

I noticed that my opponent's shuffling was annoying to me. That and the fact that he got land screwed kinda sealed the deal for me that the woes of his troubles was his ability to shuffle. Since he was a nice guy and I was in an obliging mood after winning the first game, I offered to shuffle for him.

He immediately said (after looking at his opening hand) that he like the way I shuffle. Or something to that effect. I remember feeling both "you are welcome, i like the way i shuffle too!" and "oh darn did I just killed myself lol".
Luckily my sideboard helped. My plan was to side in some lifegain via lightning helix. Thats helps to pad my life a little and let me survive one extra turn. Which was what I needed, which was what I got. And I managed to beat Burn. Sure Burn is not exactly the hottest deck (or not :p), but it was something that usually had the upper hand and I was glad my sideboard held.

My Match Four I lost to Affinity.

This one was a little sad for myself. First game was quick and totally not close. Partly because I kept a slow hand and got land flooded. Looking at my life points and his life points, I did'nt attack much, while he achieved a fifth turn kill. For some reason I figured i needed to be faster than him and did what I did the previous game and sided in lightning helixes. Boy was that bad. I believe he sided in ensoul artifact. The second game looked closer on paper, but I was never going to get past a 5/5 life linker. To have any chance I needed to either get a helix early and with mana open to zap the vault skirge when it was getting ensouled, or I sided in my four bad path kitties... neither happened unfortunately. The latter was my fault entirely. Although I did not test against affinity, I did know that Ensoul is popular with Affinity, whether main board or side. And I also know that the weakness of Affinity using enouled is the fact that against paths, the ensoul was almost always going to be a 2 for 1. I also know that ensoul artifact is a beating against blitz (my porshed eggs had ensouls). With life link, thats a double whammy. I did get a hot hand that game and reduced him to 5.... despite him hitting with the 5/5 lifelinker a few times so thats saying something :p Oh well. My bad.

So it was at that point that I needed to choose to continue to play or drop for signatures. You know my decision :)

Below are some photos:

This was at the expo, I think there was 1000  plus players, pretty decent.

This card was spoiled at about noon.

Chandra and guess who.... Kiora! Highlight to see who it is supposed to be!

A closer look at the card... of course by now everyone knows lol

Rob Alexander!!! I got him to sign 119 cards and he kindly counted it as 100 (the first eight were free!) So although it still amounted to 100 (1 dollar per signature after the first 8), I think it is a pittance for a signature from an artist like him. Its very kind of him to keep the price low and sign for fans =) I really liked the whole signing process. Altho the queuing was sucky, but you got to browse his works. He had original art works (his old water colour work) for sale. But they were beyond my budget :) His work was I think from the earlier portion of his career, but I think even at that early stage he had a good control of the medium. Water colour is notoriously had to control, but the way Rob Alexander did it, it was as if it was oil or acrylic, therein lies his skill and control. I commented this to him and he asked if I was an artist, in my random dabblings I cannot honestly say that I am so I said no :P I only had some minor incursions into water colour, but the skills taught there were more basic and were using the mediums natural interaction with water and gravity to get erm... clouds :) nothing like the control Rob exhibited!

Looking through the cards he was signing was rather nostalgic since it ranged from Revised Duals, to Onslaught Fetches to Ravnica Shocks to random Kamigawa lands :P. I unfortunately forgot about the very cool painlands! Shivan Reef et al. He also mentioned that I must have took awhile to accumulate it. I think thats one of the cool things about magic. The whole trip down memory lane thingy!

I'll probably sort the pictures tomorrow as its getting late here in Singapore! 

[20150713 00:29]

So ... its been a whole 13 days before I got back to this post. Thats pathetic huh lol.

Anyways lets get going. This is more for myself when I am old and dudley and I look back at stupid stuff I did. I am not so sure if anyone would be interested in my signed card collections :p

Tendo Ice Bridge!!!! I really like concept that Rob had when he did this. The icy mountains were always cool, but I really liked the way he drew the ice bridge. I am not sure if the concept was presented to him first or it was just random and they named the card post art completion. Anyways I chanced upon these while digging through my stuff. I knew that at the moment they were spiking as one of the decks used it (apparently only as a singleton so.... ). It appeared that this card was rare. Though I have no idea why. It was from Betrayers of Kamigawa.

I bought this from him, Norm had one too that was altered. I am not sure if I liked it altered or just plain. In there end after staring at it for a while I think I preferred it unmolested :p

Jace made an appearance too! But the male cosplayers had less attention, I guess as magic is still pretty much male dominated game in Singapore. That is changing of course, but most of the females I have come across are gfs or wives of players so....

The following are Onslaught fetches with art by Rob, only 4 of the five were by Rob, Windswept Heath was by Anthony S. Waters (whose land art are also gorgeous!)

Flooded Strand

Wooded Foothills

Bloodstained Mire

Polluted Delta

Coming from way way back in time!

Revised Savannah



Underground Sea (Oh yea, thats the print I bought!)

The rest of the duals were by other artists... so yea... :P

I really liked the Urza lands that he drew! I think he only did the plains. So I got four of each for him to sign

Theros Islands and Forests!!!  Did I mention that I dug out most of the cards only the night before? I was pretty lucky to cobble together the RAV, Duals and Fetch. I totally forgot the painlands and totally whiffed on the Clear Wrapper APAC Islands, which kinda annoyed me since it was the Singapore island! I briefly toyed with the thought of how cool it would be to get LKY to sign one of those, but I figured I would never be important enough for him to do such a silly thing :P In any case the guy is dead, RIP, so that notion is never going to happen. But, i could'nt find my islands in time and for that I was sadded. :/

Oh well.

Coldsnap Snow Swamps! I figured these are interesting enough....that and the fact that I happen to find them :p After the event I found out that Rob did do the eight edition mountains which were really pretty. But I did not find them in time. So.... maybe next time :)

A closer shot of the Urza's Saga plains

Miren the Moaning Well. Something I just dug out :p

I love LD. So Armageddon is one of my favourite cards. I have always believed that there is nothing inherently wrong with LD as a form of resource contention. And up till todate LD has hardly been dominating. The only thing against it has been feel bad moments. But this has always been about a player's ability to play rather than LD being the horrible mechanic its made out to be. WOTC needs its bogey man anyways so oh well.

Its not that WOTC does not recognise the merits of LD btw. They keep it in small amounts mainly to keep lands in check. But they are stifling it from becoming a full out strategy, which is sad. I blame it on Timmys :p

Anyways. Once I found out that there is an alternate art for Armageddon, I went for them, one of them happen to be by Rob :) 

Now. If Armageddon is so complex and terrible. What in the world was it doing in Portal. Which is supposed to be supremely dummified. It does show that at the very basic level, LD should be easily understood and is a core part of the game.


To the naysayers of LD, I will say to those that mock poison. Never say never in Magic. It may take ten years. maybe more, but so long as it was a basic tenet in the game, it will be back. And hey I only need to be right once to be right :P

Rob likes this alot. I think he said he liked this best aside from Underground Sea. I concur!

This is the alternate art promo of Exalted Angel. Exalted Angel was a chase card in its time. These days I dunno if she's got what it takes to survive in at least modern (not that she is legal). But she is a no show in Legacy. Oh well.

Door of Destinies! Morningtide. Fun card!

And now we move on to the Rav shocklands. Did you know Rob did all of them? How nice and convenient!

Steam Vents

I dug these out from some old Izzet decks. Rav old yes. Thats a ten year time capsule.wow.

Breeding Pool

These mostly sat in a binder. Partly cos one was foil. Never had a thing for Simic I guess :p

Hallowed Fountain

This one was dug out last minute. It was originally sitting in the same binder as the breeding pools, but as fate would have it, about the time of RTR and Innistrad, some decks were built and shocks were exhausted and I started digging for the older RAV lands. One was Hallowed Fountain, but this was all over the place, I pretty much found it a few hours before I was due to leave for the tournament. So it was a very close shave to getting the full set of RAV lands.

Overgrown Tomb

This too was in one of the newer decks, but as it was in my Jund LD, I found it relatively easily.

Blood Crypt

Nothing exciting, found in binder. I always thought the art was really pretty. Oh wait some where in an old loam deck, together with the Wooded Foothills above.

Sacred Foundry

The only RAV shock that I do not have a playset of normal cards. The fourth was a foil.

Stomping Ground

Again dug out from an old Gruul deck built ten years ago.

Temple Garden

In a box an old box.

Watery Grave

Godless Shrine


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