Rogue’s Perspective

Nico Bohny

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Age: 29
Nationality: Swiss

 

 

 

 

Qualified via Winner of Pro Tour Qualifier in Stadel
Pro Points: 0 in 2013-14, 142 lifetime
Pro Tour debut: Worlds 2004
Pro Tours played: 21
Median finish: 104
Average finish: 160.5
Standard deviation: 133
Top 8: 2 Pro Tours and 1 Grand Prix (1 win)
Planeswalker level: 47 (Archmage)
Other accomplishments: 2002 World Team Champion (with Manuel Bucher, Christoph Huber, and Raphael Gennary)

Nico Bohny is the kind of player that is always all smiles, seemingly having a very good time—and thus easily underestimated. However, Nico is not only a nice guy, but also a competent Magic player. It turns out that tournaments are not won with smiles, but having a taste for competition doesn’t mean you have to be badass about it either.

Nico had his first appearance on the Pro Tour as early as 2004, and qualified for Worlds by making the Swiss National Yeam. Although Nico won Grand Prix Torino in 2006, it took him a while longer to get things going on the Pro Tour. At the end of the 2007 season a young, talented Swiss team with Nico Bohny on board won the national team competition of the World Championship. Half a year later, Nico added his first big individual finish. At the Standard Pro Tour in Hollywood, he piloted a Doran midrange deck to a Top 8 finish.

Afterwards Nico’s finishes have displayed a high variance, arguably due to the nature of his deck choices. Nico has often been seen playing rogue decks. While this led to a bunch of sub-par finishes, Nico is never one to count out. When he is at the top of his game, he is a candidate to go deep as evidenced by his second Pro Tour Top 8 in Paris 2011 and his 13th place finish at Worlds 2011. After the 2011 season Nico has slowly pulled back from pro play.

You have said several times, that “this” would probably be your last Pro Tour, but you are still around, or should we say again? Why have you considered to stop playing pro Magic? What brought you back yet another time?

When I started attending Pro Tours, I just finished my education and started working as a teacher. While only working 50%, doing substitutions, there was plenty of time left for playing Magic, grinding all the FNMs, testing for the tournaments, and having a great time spending my spare hours doing a great hobby. Attending the tours was great fun—we frequently rent an apartment at the place the PT was at, do a week of testing, hang around and enjoy the places. After my initial year as a substitute teacher at different places, I took over a job-sharing position at a school and had my own class. Therefore, I had less and less time for other stuff, didn’t get extra vacation as easily, and I started playing the PTs without much preparation. I still enjoyed the PTs nearby, but doing the tournaments further afar was exhausting, traveling to distant places just to play a PT jetlagged, coming back, and teaching heavily sleepy at school. Magic was still fun, but not what it used to be. I realized that I was best at playing Magic when I enjoyed it the most. I came to a point where I started to dislike the grindy competition, and there I made my choice to leave the pro circuit.

Then I Top 8’d Pro Tour Paris, I was back in, motivated again and willing to do some more. But after two more years on the pro train, even skipping some American PTs, I fell off by finishing PT Barcelona in 51st Place, leaving me with 29 Pro Points that season (Top 50 would have been my 30th point for Gold). I still attended my last PT for Silver status, and that was it for the moment.

When I saw the locations for this year’s PTs, I tried to qualify for the European PT, and won (or to be honest: got a concession from my opponent in finals) the Swiss PTQ. I’m glad to be back for once, I’m looking forward to play on the tour again, but don’t expect to become a mainstay again (except maybe if I…)

A player sitting across you has to expect the unexpected, as you always seem to go for a rogue deck if at least a semi-competitive choice presents itself. Why do prefer the surprise factor to raw power? What are you looking for in a rogue deck to consider playing it in a Pro Tour? Presumably you do not choose just any kind of rogue deck at random. However, you reached your two Pro Tour Top 8s with decks that were neither rogue decks nor actual tier one decks. Overall, do you think when you opted for rogue decks that has rather hindered your success or was it a key element to your successes?

Hard to say, because the most rogue-ish decks I played were mostly the ones for PTs I tested the least. I never liked the idea of playing a tier 1 deck at PTs without much testing, because everyone who prepares for the metagame knows better how to play and sideboard against me than vice versa. And since I didn’t just want to have bad matchups against everyone, I decided to go with the unexpected. Those decks were often inconsistent and therefore depended on luck, but I think if you don’t have time to test, you have to stay away from the tier 1 (especially the midrange-y and control-ish decks) and go for the high risk/high reward-deck. Also, those decks were the most fun to play.

Don’t get me wrong, I actually built some decks which were rogue, but really strong. For example, I built a BW tokens deck back in the Lorwyn days and wrote an article about it. After Manuel Bucher wrote about the deck in an SCG article, the deck actually became popular and was the second or third most-played deck at the next Pro Tour (needless to say, I lost every mirror match). Another great example was a blue/white [card]Story Circle[/card]/[card]Runed Halo[/card]/white Leyline deck which I played at an Extended Pro Tour in Amsterdam. The deck was rogue, but it had like a 80% matchup against the top tier 1 deck ([card valakut, the molten pinnacle]Valakut[/card]), and lots of other good matchups with the exclusion of Fairies and Ascension.

Still, there were lots of rogue decks which were crap, mostly because I didn’t test them post-sideboarded. For example, the Modern deck I played at PT Return to Ravnica, [card]Griselbrand[/card] reanimator, with [card]Glimpse the Unthinkable[/card], [card]Goryo’s Vengeance[/card], [card]Fury of the Horde[/card], and [card]Noxious Revival[/card] to go off, was great against most decks in game 1, but lost most of its sideboarded games.

Switzerland was crowned Team World Champion in 2007, and you were a part of that team. At that point you had already won a Grand Prix, but Team Worlds marked your first major success at Pro Tour level Magic. Does this title have a special significance for you either due to its impact on your further career, or due to the nature of the competition? Would you say that the format being 2HG-draft—one of the most roguish formats ever used on Pro Tour level—played into your hands?

Winning the Team World Champion title was maybe my greatest experience in tournaments, not because of the money and Pro Points we won or the title itself, but because it was a team success. If you’re successful in a tournament as an individual, people cheer for you and share your big moments, but celebrating a win as a team is just a much greater experience than enjoying it on your own. I love team competitions, but still hate 2HG. I’m looking forward to Team Sealed, and hope we will see Team Constructed again soon!

You are one of the most accomplished writers in the German speaking community due to your unique and entertaining style. Is getting back to Magic writing something you would like to do someday? Your articles are usually at their best when you are free to explore new forms of writing. However, most of your articles for the English speaking community were rather conservative in their form as they were mostly draft walkthroughs and “Ask the Pro.” Do you care to amuse the English speaking community with your hilarious prose some day?

I surely would love to return to writing, but I don’t have the same time resources I used to have. Still, I think I might give a comeback sometimes soon, if there’s something to write about, since I still love writing.

Writing in English is much more difficult for me. You see, most of my articles are based on experimental, creative writing, including some puns and quotes, which is much easier in your native language. Still, I’m not averse to writing or recording something new in English, I just fear it won’t have the same entertaining level as it would have in German. I might try doing a 10-rare challenge in English, as this was maybe the most fun thing I did in my German recordings (as well as my GP Day Twos when I was out of money contention). Hop in an online Swiss draft, draft at least 10 rares, play them all in your deck and win as much as possible. I managed to 2-1 my first rare challenge, 3-0 the second (which sadly doesn’t count, because I only had 8 rares and had to treat Archangel (I mean it was rare back in time after all!) and a foil common (also pretty rare, if you ask me) as rares. As I said, the challenge is fun, there were lots of German draft videos around doing the rare challenge. So whoever reads this, go for it—or if you want me to show it to you in English, let me know.

Makihito Mihara

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Age: 31
Nationality: Japanese

 

 

 

 

Qualified via Top 25 Pro Tour Dragon’s Maze, Pro Club Platinum level
Pro Points: 0 in 2013-14, 281 lifetime
Pro Tour debut: 2003 Pro Tour Venice (233rd)
Pro Tours played: 33
Median finish: 78
Average finish: 109.2
Standard deviation: 101
Top 8: 4 Pro Tours (1 win) and 6 Grand Prix (2 wins)
Planeswalker level: 49 (Archmage)
Other accomplishments: 2011 National Team Champion, 6 Nationals Top 8

Makihito Mihara had his first appearance on the Pro Tour in 2003. Despite Top 8’ing Japanese Nationals three times in a row between 2003 and 2005, it was only his win at the 2006 Worlds in Paris that put him on the map for non-Japanese Magic players. Rather uncharacteristically, Makihito won the tournament with a regular [card]Dragonstorm[/card] deck. Afterwards he would become known primarily as a quirky deckbuilder. One of his more curious creations was already around this time: CAL! CAL? CAL stands for (Solitary) Confinement, (Seismic) Assault, (Life from the) Loam. It was a control deck that tried to lock the opponent out of the game with the help of Solitary Confinement, using Life from the Loam and cycle lands to pay the upkeep indefinitely.

Despite further Top 8 appearances in 2007 and 2008, it still took a long time before Mihara was noticed as one of the top Japanese pro players. At Worlds 2011, Mihara led a young Japanese team to the title, and in 2013 he reached the Top 8 of a Pro Tour again after a 5-year absence. He played Esper Control, a standard archetype in Return to Ravnica Block Constructed, albeit with a twist. He had discerned that [card]Perimeter Captain[/card] gave his deck a new strategic dimension, allowing him to employ an aggro-control tactic occasionally. It was arguably this Top 8 that finally made it plain to most that Mihara is not just a one-time World Champion, but a top-level player and one of the most talented deckbuilders in the game.

When you won the World Championship in 2006, you were largely unknown outside of Japan. How did you experience that tournament? Before the event did you believe that you had a realistic chance of winning?

The 2006 World Championship is very special to me. It remains in my memory. It was the first title in a premier event, and moreover it was the World Championship.

I believe actually that I can always win a tournament with a probability of about 0.5 to 2.0% depending on the circumstances.

Many of the decks you created are highly synergistic. Is that what usually gets you started when trying to build a deck? What does your process of building a deck look like?

In order to carry out deckbuilding I look at a card list first and then select all cards that could be good in the deck. That will leave me with about 60-100 cards. Then I will extract cards and adjust the list so that maybe about 35 cards remain. The idea is to remove cards, but try to remove as little synergy as possible. Also I don’t mind when there are many colors left in the end.

Extended has been your favorite format, but that is officially gone now. What did you like so much about Extended? Is Modern a suitable replacement?

I like a combo, and in Extended there were various combos, thus I liked it. Of course, it is similar to Modern. However, with so many banned cards it is difficult to build good combo decks.

When the results for the Hall of Fame were announced last year you didn’t get a single vote. This year you were suddenly one of the most talked-about candidates, and came close to making it in. You played a good season 2012-13, but probably not so exceptional that one should have expected such a leap. What do you think has changed in between? What would it mean to you to become a Hall of Famer? Is the perspective of the Hall of Fame something that motivates you?

I appreciate to have received many votes. However, I do not understand the reason, either. Probably, having played an active last season made me go up to the 5th place in votes.

The Hall of Fame is very special to every Magic player, and I am no exception. It will always be my goal to get into the Hall of Fame.

Third Time’s the Charm >>

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