Archive for November, 2009

Tournament Follow-up

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

We ran the tournament last night that pretty much caps off the class. It was 4 rounds of swiss to form a top 8 that will play in about 2 weeks. All in all, it went pretty well.

Having never run a tournament before, I was somewhat worried that things would go to crap. Problems I foresaw included:

  • downtime between rounds. No one likes to stand around waiting for their next match
  • issues with time. Since I wanted to get 4 rounds roughly in the 2 hour timeslot for the class, I told them that there would be 30 minute rounds. I’m sure that it rushed some of the students, but whatever. I foolishly got lenient to get some games to end, but it was pointed out to me that that’s not exactly fair
  • bad pairings. I was doing it mostly manually with a spreadsheet and a program to shuffle the order of names, so I had to group people by points by hand and hope that there weren’t any repeat matchups. It only happened once in the last round, and a single switcheroo (not sure if that was fair) fixed it

Overall, I think it went smoothly. 4 rounds in about 2 hours 45 minutes, so no major hiccups. Tom and I were playing a lot of Magic during rounds (for perspective, we, knowing our decks, got in 5 games in about 20 minutes, which was how long it took some people to play 1 game), and we only got maybe 5 judge calls the entire tournament.

As far as the winners go, we had 1 person go 4-0, 3 go 3-1, 2 go 2-0-2, and 4 go 2-1-1. On tiebreakers, we got that sorted out for the top 8, with decklists posted here. A majority of the rest of the rest of the decklists are here. Some observations about how decks did:

  • Mono-black decks were strong. We had 3 in the top 8, and 3 just outside, either at 2-1-1 or 2-2. I believe Reuben actually got into the top 8 over a mono-black control deck using aladdin’s ring when his opponent brought in cop:black and plains as his anti-black hate
  • Mono-blue decks did not do well. Generally, decks running blue didn’t do well, which we could’ve expected given the lack of good strong control pieces. At the beginning of the quarter, the U fliers deck looked pretty good, but once the power level and aggro went up with Zendikar, horned turtle wasn’t able to hold back the tide so well
  • Red was not popular and therefore wasn’t well-represented. Leland has R as part of Boros Bushwhacker, but across the board, the only red I really saw was splashed for some burn in green decks.
  • Soldiers went down in popularity, but the two decks that were doing pure soldiers both ended up in the top 8. There are a lot of common elements (full armor/swordsmiths, vanguards, brave the elements), but the differences are more interesting. Yi has an equipment sub-theme going on in there, but Steve has slighly more staying power with the serra angel and team pump
  • Kotaro was the one who went 4-0 with his domain deck. Suprisingly consistent for 5 colors and not the best fixing around. It isn’t a “all the best stuff in the format” as much as it’s just playing off of domain. But who’s to complain for a 3/3 for 3 that can become a 5/5 in 2 turns?

I won’t go as far as to predict who’s going to win at this point to avoid biasing what happens here or showing favoritism, but I know that these are going to be good matchups. They have to keep the exact same decklists, sideboard and all, going into the top 8, so at this point, it’ll mostly be playtesting. Tom and I agreed that we would make similar decks to all of these so that people can practice. We are going into Thanksgiving break and then exams, so hopefully people don’t have TOO much time to be playtesting, but it would be good.

Week 8 podcast up

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

Our lecture on Epistemic Logic got posted earlier today, and you can find it here, and slides here.

And with that, we’re pretty much done. That’s the last prepared lecture that we have. Next week is our tournament, the week after is Thanksgiving break, and the week after is the final week of classes with presentations.

It’s pretty amazing how quickly the quarter has gone. Well, some classes have gone by really slowly, but it seems like just yesterday that people were figuring out how to play the game, and I was anxious to start talking about something real. Of course, we’re not done yet, so we’re not into reflection on the class yet.

Tom and I are up in the air on whether we’ll be doing a podcast for this coming week. We really don’t have anything to talk about, but if you know of something you want us to talk about, we’re open to suggestions.

Student Decklists posted

Monday, November 9th, 2009

As a preview to some content on the next podcast, I posted decklists that have been submitted to us from students here. Feel free to take a look, and if you have any feedback, I’m sure the students will be very appreciative. Either leave a comment or email Tom or me and we’ll pass it along.

If you’re thinking of other cards that they should be playing with, generally, we’re pretty full on Lorwyn forward thanks to Dave’s donation. That is, there are really no rares, and uncommons (especially good ones) are very sparse, but commons should be generally available, and other things might be gained with trades.

Week 7 Podcast up

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

I guess I’ll link.

And show notes

Sorry, the gain at the very beginning is way too high, but I correct it a couple seconds in.

Syllabus Description: This week, George Michelogiannakis, a level 3 DCI judge, will talk about professional Magic. So far, we’ve focused primarily on casual Magic, but there are many tiers of tournaments organized by the DCI and staffed by judges. George will give you a glimpse of this part of Magic culture.

Because it’s a guest lecture, this is actually recorded in class, so there’s a lot more noise and people on this podcast.

Slides are at:

What I’m Playing With

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

Updates here have been slow, sorry. Of course, there’s always the podcast that I guess I could be putting links up for each week. We actually don’t have a fresh one this week because we have a guest lecturer coming in.

In the meantime, I thought I’d showcase the deck that I’m playing with. We’re limited to whatever is in the card pool, and although this is technically a constructed format, I find that the shortage of good, valuable cards means that matches play more like limited games. I’ve been watching LSV’s videos of his drafts and taking that as inspiration for decks. At the beginning of the quarter,  I was playing an all M10 blue skies deck that was half-decent. Recently, with Zendikar coming in, I put together a new deck looking like this:

Lands (24)
14 Plains
10 Island

Creatures (24)
4 Kor Skyfisher
2 Welkin Tern

4 Ondu Cleric
4 Makindi Shieldmate
4 Stonework Puma
4 Umara Raptor

2 Kor Sanctifiers

Other Spells (12)
4 Journey to Nowhere
2 Narrow Escape
4 Into the Roil
2 Adventuring Gear

It’s not bad. It’s not great, but on the plus side, it’s all Zendikar commons, so if you’re playing block pauper?…

If you’re familiar with Zendikar, there are no surprises. There’s a allies thing going on to 1) stall the game and 2) pump up umara raptor. The raptor is pretty much the only win condition that the deck has. The welkin tern and kor skyfisher can do it as well, but most people don’t really feel the pressure from that. The shieldmate and cleric are great stall. A 3/6 is hard to swing through, and you can get a good 15 life off of a single cleric. Life gain isn’t insane, but it’s pretty good when you’re trying to race a deck with fatter ground beats and you only have a 2/3 flier to beat down.

I just read an article about how allies is a pretty linear mechanic, and that’s true. The thing that I like about this deck is that even though the theme would seem to be simple in just playing out lots of allies, the bounce actually provides some really interesting options, mainly being bouncing allies in a crunch and replaying them for the bonus. There are 10 bounce spells in the deck, and they even have cool interaction with journey to nowhere (bouncing it while the enters play ability is on the stack to permanently remove something from the game).

I considered trying to make it better by throwing in some cheap-ish changeling creatures like avian changeling or mothdust changeling. The former is pretty much better than the stonework puma, and the latter has built in reinforce for my raptors and shieldmates. I think there’s something charming about zendikar block pauper, though, so I’ll probably stay with this build.