Hi Everyone. Sorry that posts have been a bit sparser recently, but life and a hurricane will do that. I also want to warn you that this isn’t a normal Commander post, because this last weekend I attended GP Atlanta. Below is the tournament report of a casual with the added spice of Hurricane Matthew.
Many Weeks Ago
I checked the GP schedule and saw that there was a limited Grand Prix in Atlanta. I really enjoy sealed because my capital investment is significantly lower than a constructed event, plus some of my closest Magic friends live in Atlanta. My wife and two small kids (son 3.5 and daughter 1) would stay back in Florida and I’d make the 7.5-hour drive after work on Friday to my friend’s house. As a pure casual player whose only Magic is Commander a few times a month, I never expected to do well. I hoped I’d open some Commander cards, get some cards signed by the artists there, have some laughs with some opponents, go about 4-4 then drop and play Commander (what I wanted to do anyway). The Kaladesh pre-release came and I went a rousing 0-5 (significantly worse than my normal pre-release records) my hope of 4-4 went more to 1-4, but I’m going for Commander so who cares. I’ll just get more time to play Saturday and can leave a little earlier Sunday to get some real sleep, maybe I’ll even help get my kids to bed. It was going to be great.
In Comes Matthew
Hurricane Matthew’s approach to the east coast of Florida, which is where I live, changed things. All forecasts called for total devastation. As northerners who recently moved from Chicagoland to Florida we were spooked, and reports continued to get worse. My wife and I knew we had to get out of the way. On Tuesday night we packed the minivan and we all left Wednesday after work for Atlanta. My quick Magic trip turned into an evacuation with my kids, pets, and important items. With the change of plans I assumed we’d leave Sunday morning instead of the afternoon to make sure the kids got to bed normally. I wasn’t going to make Day 2 anyway.
Friday – Day 0
One of my friends, Ken, from SLANDER (there YouTube and Twitter) and I got to the GP after 7. I got to meet rk post, Noah Bradley, and Victor Adame Minguez. They were great. I got them to sign a few cards and talk about their art. Then it was time to head to the Command Zone that Star City Games has set out. It’s a set of tables set out for casual play. Big fan of this, no more worrying about a side event kicking you out of a game or trying to locate Commander players. I got to play Lorthos and got some cheers from a passerby when I played Flood. A second cheer came up when Flood ate a removal spell for being too good on the table.
Saturday – Day 1
I wanted to get on rk post’s 9AM que for altering cards so Ken and I got to the GP before 8 to deck build. I opened my pool and low and behold there was a Chandra, Torch of Defiance staring back at me. Sweet! Too bad there wasn’t anything else decent in my pool in red or any kid of fixing. Ended up leaving her in the board and going with a W/G deck with Oviya Pashiri, Sage Lifecrafter. After deck construction I ran over to rk post and asked him to alter my Lorthos, the Tidemaker to Hank from Finding Dori. Ended up being the last one he’d take Saturday.
The deck proved strong and consistent. Before I knew it I was 6-1. I couldn’t believe it. Had to call my wife and apologize for playing well and now we wouldn’t be able to leave early Sunday morning. Ended up losing the last two rounds, but the change for required record meant I could still play in Day 2 at 6-3. This was my second GP and my first Day 2. I was blown away. Ms. Pasihri was an all-star. She was fun to play and could break a stalled board state. I might just build a Commander deck around her for the memories, but if not she’ll end up in the 99 of something. Swung back to rk post and picked up Lorthos. I don’t know how he can do such good work at a very affordable price.
Overall, I was very pleased with Day 1. I got to meet a ton of fun people, share stories about Magic, and check to see how everyone’s homes were doing with Hurricane Matthew beating up the coast. My home was okay. The quick jag east and weakening Thursday night meant we got little damage instead of losing everything. Some of my opponents over both days were not as fortunate.
The last thing to focus on in Day 1 was the judging. Magic judges are wonderful. Every judge I interacted with was kind, considerate, knowledgeable, and polite. One judge in particular, Justin Rix, did something I was incredibly thankful for. At one point I had to call a judge to clarify I could make the play I wanted to. The call was handled professionally, but I could afterwards that my opponent was unhappy with the outcome. I asked him if everything was alright and he responded that he was and that “I don’t want to Jew you out of it or anything, but I thought it went the other way.” I stopped for a second and let him know that I didn’t appreciate comments like that. He quickly apologized and the game continued. Quite suddenly the judge was back, but this time squatting beside my opponent. He’d heard his comment and explained that words can hurt and that we all have be careful about what we say, even if it’s in jest. My opponent apologized again, but was given an official warning. The judge could have kept walking. He could have ignored it, but he didn’t. He helped make sure that Magic is a place for everyone. Thank you sir.
Sunday – Day 2
So I don’t draft regularly. I’ll watch draft recordings of various formats, preferably cube, but I’ve drafted twice this calendar year. One was a friend’s Commander Cube before we moved and the second was a Conspiracy draft at Gen Con that Mason Talley (@AlliDoIsEDH) organized. I was sure it’d be a quick 0-2 and I could leave with no shot at cashing the event. I was wrong again. Ended up 2-1. At 8-4 I might still have a shot to cast. The highlights of draft one, outside my three opponents, were another Chandra (I got to play this one) and a Thriving Ibex that was stamped with a sheep.
Draft two went well, but not as well. I was able to win game one on the back of triple Self-Assemblers. Round 14, the penultimate round, didn’t go my way. I ended up losing to Daniel Rost 2-1, but they were some of the best games all weekend. We both agreed we were there to have fun. Winning would be great as some potential money was on the line, but we got to joke and converse the whole time. Good luck in Hawaii Daniel.
This was not the weekend I expected. I only played two games of Commander at the GP, ended up 286th, was close to potentially cashing my 2nd GP, never got to meet Terese Nielson, and got home with the whole family at 3:30AM instead of before 8PM. I don’t think I’d change any of it. I may be a casual player who plays Commander maybe twice a month, but I got to keep playing with a purpose long into Day 2. You may be a causal Commander player, but that doesn’t mean you’re bad at Magic. Sure you’ll find players better than you, but learn from your losses (especially at the kitchen table) and get better. I hope if a GP comes near you, especially if it’s limited, you go. Until next week, happy brewing.
- Cowboy Kyle
P.S. If you have any ideas for Oviya Pashiri, Sage Lifecrafter or suggestions of what would be best to put her in, let me know.