November 26, 2011

Worlds 2011 brain dump

I’d intended to produce elaborate coverage of the Magic World Championship event in San Francisco last week but I feel the moment passing so will instead jumble together a bag of miscellaneous items from my sojourn in Magical Magic-land.

Out come the wolves
I had these aggressive token/business cards made right before Worlds and was pressing them upon everyone around me:
wolf cards
People seemed to like them. Some howled.

The Pro Tour
It’s weird to attend a world championship stocked with every big-name pro plus a healthy roster of hall-of-famers and have no frickin’ idea what is going on in the main event. Yet that was me and most of the civilians in attendance. The top 8 was shown on a big screen but the previous three days of competition took place behind barn-proof barriers and to spectate required a dangerous amount of neck-craning. By the middle of the day two I absorbed the vibe that Conley Woods had transformed into an invincible cyborg warrior. This surely had nothing to do with the freshly-available Conley in Bazaar of Baghdad token I drew for Channel Fireball:
Conley Woods token
... on the other hand, it didn't hurt! Otherwise, I chose to enjoy all of the main event coverage online back at the Grotto, pants off, drink in hand, as the Internet was meant to be appreciated.

For points and packs
The official side events I played were a big Innistrad sealed, a big Two-Headed Giant Innistrad sealed, and some Standard 8-player single-elimination quickies.

In the unlikely event that you find yourself in a big Innistrad sealed 2HG event I advise you to pack whatever answers you have for Invisible Stalker (Rolling Temblor, your own better Stalkers, etc). ‘Nuff said on that.

I almost never play Standard offline these days but at the eleventh hour I decided make a deck just in case. I shovelled together a $15 Standard goblins pile that was surprisingly well-suited to the 8-man metagame. Yep, this:

4 Goblin Arsonist
4 Goblin Fireslinger
4 Goblin Wardriver
4 Goblin Chieftain
4 Grim Lavamancer
4 Stormblood Berserker
3 Spikeshot Elder
4 Goblin Grenade
4 Brimstone Volley
4 Incinerate
2 Galvanic Blast
19 Mountain
Sideboard: uhhhh ...

I have no delusions that this is a “good” deck but for that weekend at least it feasted on slow, defenseless prey. It also delivered several priceless opponent expressions of surprise/disgust after “turn one, Fireslinger, go.”

For kicks
My casual gaming experience at Worlds was a steaming platter of fun with a side of logistical headache. I got plenty of duels but bigger games like casual drafts and multi-player Commander were hard to come by. It seemed like people trying to get casual group games together had to scrap to extract participants from lucrative planeswalker-point-earning events. Or maybe *sniff* I don’t have enough friends? Anyway ...

Adam Styborski ended up being my casual game guide for the weekend. Upon arrival at the event site I met up with Adam to give him his snappy new cards and ended up in his Serious Fun column. I subsequently got in on Adam’s Ravnica block star draft and the Community Cube draft. Dude knows how to have fun.

I feel like a wide-eyed freshman in the cold halls of Commander having played exactly once before (at the Commander product release event) but I’d had fun stripping and rebuilding my The Mimeoplasm pre-con and was ready to see what was what. I give myself an ‘incomplete’ on this task. I had some satisfying one-on-one games but never found the cool Commander table. I’m sure it was there somewhere. Wrong places, wrong times.

Get your filth on
As for Filth Casserole, I’m afraid I get another ‘incomplete.’ I should have organized this a little beyond “hey, make a deck and find me somewhere in Fort Mason.” Regardless, I did get a bunch of games in against my buddy and the good news is that they were awesome! Here’s the Naya aggro-loamish-sweeperiffic list I ran:

1 Path to Exile
1 Noxious Revival
1 Edge of Autumn
1 Explore
1 Life from the Loam
1 Sylvan Ranger
1 Lightning Helix
1 Naya Charm
1 Pilgrim's Eye
1 Firespout
1 Beast Within
1 Harrow
1 Tuktuk the Explorer
1 Oblivion Ring
1 Kitchen Finks
1 Knight of the Reliquary
1 Countryside Crusher
1 Seismic Assault
1 Swans of Bryn Argoll
1 Ajani Vengeant
1 Garruk Wildspeaker
1 Stuffy Doll
1 Creeping Renaissance
1 Caldera Hellion
1 Worm Harvest
1 Wildfire
1 Predator Dragon
1 Blasphemous Act
1 Savage Twister
1 Arid Mesa
1 Evolving Wilds
1 Ghost Quarter
1 Jungle Shrine
1 Verdant Catacomb
1 Naya Panorama
1 Raging Ravine
1 Stomping Grounds
1 Stirring Wildwood
1 Tectonic Edge
1 Temple Garden
1 Terramorphic Expanse
1 Treetop Village
3 Forest
3 Mountain
2 Plains

I’m going to continue working on the format so don’t expect me to shut up about it anytime soon.

It was incredible to see long-time 3-D card alterer Seishiro Ookubo’s work in person. For most of Worlds Ookubo displayed hundreds of cards while sitting behind his table meticulously cutting and gluing new work. His table was a pleasant oasis in the grindy Magic tournament chaos and all weekend long passers-by would stop and gaze at his table with slack-jawed wonder. Whatever happens with high-level organized play next year I hope that Wizards finds a way to keep Ookubo (and other artists/craftsmen) in the mix. His presence elevated the Worlds experience.

While all that other stuff was superb, meeting people from up and down the Magic community is the best thing about a big event like this. Attendees have tremendous access to the full cross-section of our great, big Magic family. I mean, I got to stand outside at the food trucks chatting and shivering with Mark Rosewater! The only negative here was all of the people I had near misses with or nodded “hi” to intending to circle back later but for whatever reason didn’t see again. If I name-drop all the cool people I got to hang with here I’ll end up feeling stupid when I leave someone out so let me just say that rad times were had and I wish I’d had time for even more.

In conclusion, I rate Worlds 2011 ten bittersweet Looter smooches (out of ten). Bittersweet because from now on Pro Tour events will be closed to the public. I’m glad I got to see the last one. Hopefully the new Grand Prix plan and further undisclosed organized play changes will preserve the concept of a big inclusive event that attracts the entire community. Hopefully I’ll see you there.

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