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Carrie On – Raindrops on Roses

Human beings are quick to complain. I’m British and we love to moan about the weather. In fairness, it is truly awful at the moment (see what I said), but even when it’s nice we go on about it being too hot, too dry, too windy, too humid. Whatever, as long as we can vent. As a community, Magic players are no different. We don’t tend to care about the weather, what with being trapped inside for 10-hour long tournaments as long as we can access lunch and energy drinks, but boy, do we like to whine about the game we play.

“I mulliganed to 5 both games. Stupid deck.”

“I hate [insert card name], it should be banned”

“Why aren’t pairings up yet? We’ve been waiting forever.”

“Hexproof is dumb, why do they keep printing more cards with it?”

“The coverage for this event is awful, they should get rid of [insert name].”

“I didn’t see any sideboard cards, rotten luck.”

“Why are Slivers humanoid? It’s an outrage.”

“When are they going to reprint [insert name of card they are never going to reprint]”

It’s always easy to focus on the negative.

When I worked in retail, I remember being told a simple fact: if a customer has a good shopping experience, they will tell one friend. If a customer has a sub-standard shopping experience, they will tell 10 friends and each of those friends will tell 10 others. Thus the impact of a bad incident will spread much further than any good ones.

For this week’s article, I was kicking around for topics. I attended a PTQ this weekend and was knocked out of contention early by Bant Hexproof Auras, a deck I hate. I whined about it on Twitter and met a series of interesting responses, but I really don’t think any of us wants or needs another article complaining about Hexproof. I think we agree we don’t like it all that much and hopefully someone is paying attention (hint hint).

Writers are quick to pick up on any anger or negativity in the community because, like the newspapers say, bad news sells. Well, screw it, this week I want to be different. This week I am going to tell you my favorite things about Magic. I want to share with you why I love this game enough that even when I am annoyed by a multitude of little things (or beaten by Hexproof) I continue play it.

Sweet Plays

When you figure out a complex situation to find the correct sequence of plays to bring home a close game, that feeling always puts a big grin on my face. When I am playing really well, I can see the options and the possible problems my opponent might cause laid out in front of me and I feel absolutely unstoppable.

Here are some of the most memorable (little) plays I remember.

I was playing Assault Loam in Modern against UW Tron. This turn my opponent had resolved a [card]Wurmcoil Engine[/card] and a [card]Kozilek, Butcher of Truth[/card], tapping him out. He attacked with the [card]Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre[/card] that had been cast the previous turn.

He’s on 5 life. I have 3 creatures, 2 untapped mana, 6 lands, and 13 life. I’ve set up a dummy board state below to help you visualize it. I don’t remember the exact cards since it was a long time ago, but this is sufficient.

I only need to connect with one of my two 5-power Tarmogoyfs for lethal, but that Wurmcoil is a serious problem with the lifelink. I have an [card]Ancient Grudge[/card] in hand, but that leaves two more blockers as well as the Kozilek. I’m pretty much going to die next turn if I don’t get to him first. Oh, and let’s not forget that I need to sacrifice 4 permanents.

With the annihilate triggers on the stack I do the following:

• [card]Ancient Grudge[/card] the [card]Wurmcoil Engine[/card]
• [card]Noxious Revival[/card] the [card]Ancient Grudge[/card] back on top (paying life and going to 11)
• Resolve the annihilate trigger, sacrificing three lands and the [card]Dark Confidant[/card] (before it kills me)
• Take 10 damage, going to 1
• Untap, draw [card]Ancient Grudge[/card], play and flash it back on the two Wurm tokens
• Attack for at least 5 past the single remaining blocker

Fitting all that in with the annihilate as well took a little thinking, but I was elated when it fell into place. Casting [card]Ancient Grudge[/card] pre-combat also doesn’t work since you need him to attack to leave you the space to attack back. You can cast it after the annihilate triggers have resolved instead, but you’d better be sure you are getting rid of the right bits! My friend was watching the match and told me after it was awesome to see. Just made the victory sweeter.

Another little trick I remember seeing and pulling off I actually wrote about in an article at the time. It was when I played GW Maverick at a GP and didn’t equip my [card]Umezawa’s Jitte[/card] to my [card]Scavenging Ooze[/card] in order to leave up the lands to [card]Wasteland[/card] my own [card]Dryad Arbor[/card], providing me with a creature to then exile to the Ooze if my opponent tried to kill it with a [card]Lightning Bolt[/card] (it already had one counter on it). It worked as planned, and I won the game from there. It was nice because I specifically tapped the [card]Dryad Arbor[/card] so the play was even harder to spot for my opponent, but I also heard the spectators murmuring in confusion when I didn’t equip the Jitte, as they also hadn’t noticed the possibility (and the danger of losing the Ooze when I had no other action). It was also vindicating to hear the appreciative murmur when my quick thinking bore fruit.

Finding the unusual line or anticipating a particular action is why I really enjoy playing the game. What gives you a buzz? Perhaps you prefer the tinkering of decks to beat the meta or the rush when you read exactly what your opponent has in hand from his body language? Maybe you just plain old like winning? There must be something or you wouldn’t do it!

New Friends

Magic isn’t all about the cards on the table. There is an opponent, a host of other players, judges, organizational staff, and sometimes event coverage. That’s a lot of people, and many of them are awesome and amazing.

I feel honored and humbled by the number of great people I have met since I started playing and writing about Magic. From soft-spoken people who thank me for my articles, to developers of the game who are now firm friends, to bubbly people who just want to know how I’m doing and share their latest Legacy brew (hi Danny), to people who open their home to me without even really knowing me (hi Jules), to people that gave me the chance to become a writer (hi Trick), to people that extended a friendly hand when I considered myself below their notice (hi Luis, Paulo, Craig, and Brad).

This section isn’t about name-dropping. If I could, I would list the names of everyone who has touched my heart in the Magic community, but there are too many of you and for too many different reasons. I selected some as the names and reasons sprung into my head. You are all the reason I love to play, why I travel to tournaments. You can go a long way to a GP only to have a bad day and quickly drop out of contention. But if you have great people to meet up with and share tales with over pizza then how can that be a bad day?

I am an odd person. My friends would probably describe me as outgoing, yet if I’m with strangers I’m painfully shy. Because Magic shoves you into a match with just one other person you have to talk to, you get the opportunity to meet new people that you won’t otherwise ever strike up a conversation with. It’s like speed-friending for geeks. If you find you like the person opposite you can continue to chat after the match, if not, you can walk away no worse off. I like that Magic has given me the opportunity to meet people and make life-long friends.

Exciting Places

There is a game called Ticket to Ride. It’s a board game in which you build links of train routes to complete tickets. There are lots of different versions. In my gaming group the favorite is the Europe map. The rules for who gets to start are simple: “the person that has visited the most countries on the map.” I always used to lose at this mini-game. While I was the youngest in our group, I generally got to start first in every game but this one. Before I played Magic, I had been to a grand total of 3 European countries: England, France ,and Greece—which easily lost to the 10 one of my friends boasted (and to everyone else besides). Last week I tied.

I’ve traveled a lot for Magic. Last year, I went to GPs all over to play the game I enjoy. Seeing new places, trying new food, it’s exhausting but very fun.

“What did you do this weekend, Carrie?”

“Went to [insert nice city here]”

“Huh, you are so lucky.”

Well, no, actually I’m a little broke, but it’s still a fun thing to do. I’m guessing it’s not quite as exciting in the American scene but I imagine excuses to visit the beaches of California aren’t too terrible either, and at least you don’t have all the language problems to negotiate.

I’ve been fortunate enough to qualify for many international events and I have to say, going to Japan was my single greatest moment in Magic. Not only was it my debut on the international scene but Japan was… I’m struggling for the right word here. Epic? So different from the cultures I had previously experienced. The food was amazing, the locals were lovely, and the architecture was stunning. I don’t know if I would ever have gone in my life if it wasn’t for Magic and while I wouldn’t know what I was missing I will remember the experience forever.

I started playing Magic because I was interested in the game. I keep playing Magic because of the friends and experiences I have had because it. Oh yeah, and because the game is still pretty cool to play.

So, your turn. Why do you play Magic?

(Correction, 6/26/2013, 5:07 p.m.: Play example was changed from “I need only to connect with one of my two creatures” to “I only need to connect with one of my two 5-power Tarmogoyfs.”)

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