Competitive MTG: trip to Prague and lession learned

TOP Series Prague, a nice venue with a lower attendance.

A plan of one week in Prague playing, or at least trying to play some Magic: the Gathering, came to a halt due to fatigue as my body gave up after a few days. I got a fanatical fever and with three tournaments left (out of 5), the trip was over for me. I was still there, in Czech Republic, just in the bed, rolling and sweating. But before that, I got a chance to play against three Italian players five times during a span of two tournaments. First things first.

TOP Prague 2016

TOP Prague was not top, at least from the perspective of attendance. 47 players went for it at the Modern tournament on Sunday, which is kind of low for a bigger tournament, but the venue was awesome and setup was nice. There was free wi-fi, clean space and restrooms, and it didn’t bother me much that the attendance was not as high as me and our playgroup hoped for. What bothered me was my bad play in round 1, when my misplay led to losing 1-2 against Kiki Chord deck, and even that misplay had to be pointed out by a friend of mine who watched the game, so that left a sour taste as I didn’t really practice with Skred Red in a last year but still chose to go with it. Trying to metagame is not the best choice in Modern as I was paired with UR Pyromancer Ascension piloted by Angelo Cadei in round 2, which is not really the best match-up for Skred Red. It’s a rare deck but quite strong, and he took me down 1 against 2. After that I managed to win a match against a mana screwed Jund who was also locked out of the game by Blood Moons. Round 4 pairings were up and to our disbelief I was playing against one of my friends with whom I came to Prague with. He was on Grixis Delver and we both knew each others decks inside out and somehow I managed to win the series 2 to 0. At 2-2, I was planning to just play out the rest of the tournament to get some practice in with Skred Red. Little did I know that I was playing another Italian guy Montani in fifth round with the same/similar UR Pyromancer Ascension deck, and I lost against that deck once more. Round 6 was the last and my opponent was on Jeskai Delver with Geists, and he did win a first game but lost the second one. Game 3 came down to multiple copies of Lightning Bolt and Lightning Helix from my opponent and I lost like I was up against Burn. With a score of 2-4, I was obviously closer to the bottom than the top.

Skred Red by Treach, TOP European Series #5, Prague

Creature (10)
Simian Spirit Guide
Stormbreath Dragon
Pia and Kiran Nalaar
Eternal Scourge

Planeswalkers (6)
Koth of the Hammer
Chandra, Torch of Defiance

Spells (22)
Skred
Lightning Bolt
Relic of Progenitus
Blood Moon
Anger of the Gods
Mind Stone
Magma Jet
Pyrite Spellbomb
Lands (22)
20 Snow-Covered Mountain
Scrying Sheets

Sideboard (15)
Ricochet Trap
Molten Rain
Pithing Needle
Dragon’s Claw
Goblin Rabblemaster
Smash to Smithereens
Shattering Spree
TOP Series Prague, a nice venue with a lower attendance.
TOP Series Prague, a nice venue with a lower attendance.

Anyhow, next came Legacy on Monday in Najada, where a hefty 25 players showed up for some games, including myself with my beloved Goblins and a buddy of mine with Eldrazi Stompy (three other friends went for a Modern at Černý rytíř, where one of them 4-0’d with Infect, gratz). Needless to say I was paired against Montani in round 1 with BURG goodstuff/tempo and lost convincingly. Second round I won against a local guy who kept saving he was high on weed, but the games were fun, at least for me as I won versus his BURG tempo, same deck as in the round before. Round three pairings were up and who would have guessed, I was playing against Angelo Cadei, the second same Italian on two different tournaments in Prague. How lovely. While he was on Miracles, I still got to lose the otherwise good match-up, and he told me he was lucky in game 2 with Entreat the Angels off the top, but I was also kinda short on mana in both games until it was too late. My last opponent was, yea you guessed it, another Italian guy with Death & Taxes, and he took game 1 with ease. Game 2 I managed to steamroll him, but game 3 he again got me easily. So that’s that.

Legacy Goblins by Treach, current iteration

Creature (32)
Earwig Squad
Gempalm Incinerator
Goblin Chieftain
Goblin Lackey
Goblin Matron
Goblin Piledriver
Goblin Ringleader
Goblin Sharpshooter
Goblin Warchief
Krenko, Mob Boss
Mogg War Marshal
Siege-Gang Commander
Skirk Prospector
Stingscourger
Tuktuk Scrapper

Spells (5)
Aether Vial
Tarfire
Lands (23)
Arid Mesa
Badlands
Bloodstained Mire
Cavern of Souls
Mountain
Rishadan Port
Taiga
Wasteland
Wooded Foothills

Sideboard (15)
Earwig Squad
Grafdigger’s Cage
Pyrokinesis
Red Elemental Blast
Relic of Progenitus
Stingscourger
Tin Street Hooligan
Tuktuk Scrapper
Warping Wail

My mind was blown, during 10 rounds of play in two days, I played against three Italians guys five times, and once against my buddy from Slovenia. It sounds like I went to Milano for a few FNMs with my friends.

Then came Wednesday and I felt sick and tired, fever got me and sore throat meant nothing good. After losing a deck mid-GP in Bologna last year, I was thinking if it’s just a bad luck, or a reality check? You tell me. Was it unfair? No, fairness is subjective to the point of view and only thing objectively unfair are combo decks in Magic. So that’s out. Bad karma? Who knows. But I’m done traveling for bigger Magic tournaments for a while. I have enough local competitions to get my fix of cardboard crack, at least for a few months to recollect my thoughts.

Well, nobody claimed that success in Magic: the Gathering comes easy. I did however learn a few warriors’ lessons.

Grindstone

Be prepared. Don’t build your deck the day before the tournament, only smaller adjustments should be made. Decide what you are going to play, sleeve it up and take it for a spin at FNMs, GPTs and similar event before going to a bigger one. Unless you are a seasoned player with two pet decks, then bring both, but that’s not the case with me. I have a bunch of pet decks and I picked the one I played the least.

Playtest more. Especially if you have a playgroup; try to do some playtesting well before the event so that there is time to adjust your 75 or buy some new cards (be wary of mail, it can take weeks for cards to arrive if you buy them online).

Eat and drink. Healthy. Sure, beer is great, specially in Prague, but don’t get drunk the day before (not that we did, but still). Also, eat well and frequently. I had a decent diet before the trip, but it’s hard to maintain that while travelling and we had to eat quite a bit of trash/fastfood. Water is also your friend number one.

Sleep well and enough. Think about your sleeping needs and plan accordingly. This should not be neglected, and this was a lesson learned as I didn’t really think about it until it was too late.

Stay positive. You lost Round 1 due to misplay (like I did)? Don’t worry to much, and don’t be result-oriented. Try to play your best, game to game, match to match, and don’t play for the standings. Just play to win the game, and then the next one, and so on. Don’t put additional pressure on yourself, it can backfire! Are you playing a bad match-up, maybe for a second time at the same event? No worries, that’s life, take it easy and try to beat the odds, that’s what Magic (and life) is about! You win some and you lose some.

MKM Prague 2016

Anyhow, due to getting sick I missed out on one more Legacy and one Modern event in Najada as well as MKM Prague 2016, but I would like to thank MKM Series for their understanding of my troubles and offered me a refund of my entry fee after writing them via MagicCardMarket. Two of our playgroup almost made it into Top32 (prizes), but were just short one victory (or a tie), both at 6-3. Well, we will do better next time..

I did get to see Kutna Hora (Sedlec Ossuary) before falling into sick mode, so that was at least some interesting sightseeing in addition to one evening in the center of Prague, when we also ate at The Spider Tavern.

Caption of bones inside Sedlec Ossuary (Kutna Hora).
Caption of bones inside Sedlec Ossuary (Kutna Hora).

So what’s next? Maybe some Standard, but definitely a legacy tournament of our Vintage League this Sunday. I’ll come well-rested, prepared and plan to hydrate during the course of a tournament, and so should you!

Mull your hand

.. but not too much!

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