am back from a week-long Magic adventure that had me in Seattle for a sneak peek at the new set, some live Vintage Highlander Rotisserie draft, and then I went to Calgary to be a guest at the Prerelease run by the always awesome Jason Ness. I wrote about my first draft experience in last week's column; look below for a teaser picture of the Rotisserie draft experience that I believe someone else will be writing about in the coming weeks; and I am going to provide you with my gunslinger card pool that I used this weekend.
This is the card pool I opened and played the bulk of my games with in Calgary. The first thing that struck me as I was opening my cards was the sheer volume of artifacts. I had not even seen a blue card by the time I had sorted through three packs of cards and only had a small handful to work with after the full six packs were laid out. How would I approach the following pool? I will show you what I did at the end of this column.
Scars of Mirrodin Sealed Pool
It was a challenging pool to build since it could be built as a mono-colored deck or a multicolored deck—either way with abundant artifacts and artifact mana to smooth things out. It was even possible to build the deck with no colored spells of any kind but the looming presence of common Tel-Jilad Fallen makes that a very risky call. Besides, I had bombs like Hoard-Smelter Dragon and Sunblast Angel.
Chew on that card pool for a while and think about how you would build it. I have my forty cards posted at the bottom of the column. It is an exercise worth doing since this is going to be the Sealed Deck format for the remainder of the Limited Grand Prix and the upcoming Pro Tour Qualifer season. And if you happen to be in New York City this very weekend you could even play some Scars of Mirrodin Sealed Deck for your share of a $5,000 prize pool.
Scars in New York
Hall of Famer Rob Dougherty has organized the TCGPlayer.com Championship Series which will feature pairs of $5,000 tournaments on weekends associated with large comic conventions. This weekend in New York the Wizard World Big Apple Comic Con will host the first major Standard tournament to include Scars of Mirrodin—and to exclude Bloodbraid Elf and all things Jund—on Saturday and a Scars Sealed Deck event on Sunday.
Rob had been organizing $5K tournaments up and down the East Coast prior to this event but the $10K weekend will be kicking off a series of events that culminate in an invitation-only championship with a $75,000 purse and a $20,000 first prize.
"This is so much bigger in every way," said the Hall of Famer when asked to compare these new events to his previous forays into $5K territory. "Each stop on this series is like a giant Magic convention. For competitive players: the 5K Trials and two 5Ks. For casual players we have tons of side events including EDH and two-Headed Giant. And all this is happening in an open-to-the-public game room at Wizard World Comic Con, so there are plenty of cool things to do in addition to side events."
It is going to be a crazy weekend with Scars just being released for sale on Friday. How will players scramble to fill out their decks with the void left by the Shards of Alara block rotating out of Standard? It will be even more challenging for players looking to pick up byes in Trials being held on Friday at the Convention.
I am not going to be able to make it there on Saturday but I will be playing on Sunday in the Sealed Deck event. I will be doing it without byes though since I can't get there the day before. All day long on Saturday there will be sixteen-person booster draft tournaments for precious wins to start the event on Sunday.
Rob was unsure of how many people to expect but both days should set modern records for event attendance in New York City, which already gets some pretty gaudy numbers for Pro Tour Qualifiers each season.
"We have Standard 5K trials starting at noon on Friday and running all day, a 5K on Saturday, booster draft trials all day on Saturday, the world's first Sealed Deck 5K on Sunday," said Rob as he guessed at the weekend's attendance. "Being our first event of this type, it's hard to say. My rough guess is 300-600 players each day."
Without an established post-rotation metagame for Standard, Rob expected that Sunday would be the larger of the two fields.
"While a new Standard environment is always fun," he continued. "I think Sealed is going to be the big one. Limited with a new set, the world's first Sealed Deck 5K? Man, I wish I could play!"
I asked Rob about his motivation for creating this series and he likened it to the task facing players on Saturday if they want to have a new Standard deck for the event.
"I love planning events and event series," said Rob, "It feels a lot like designing a deck or creating a game to me. I also find it incredibly rewarding when hundreds of people are having fun because of something I put together. All that and I get to work with a game I love. All in all it's a pretty sweet deal."
"I try and look at it from the perspective of 'If I were playing, what would I want this event to be like?' " he continued. "For example, the 5K trials give you competitive events that matter all weekend. You can show up on Friday and play Standard trials to try and win three byes on Saturday. Then, if you get knocked out early on Saturday we have Draft trials to earn byes for Sunday. Booster Draft trials, with a brand new set! Come on, what's cooler than that?"
Since Rob mentioned deck design I would be remiss if I didn't ask one of the game's all-time greatest deck designers which card from Scars of Mirrodin would have the biggest weekend.
"Koth of the Hammer seems like he should make a big impact," said the Pro Tour–Washington D.C. Champion. "I love red getting a quality planeswalker to smash face with. After all, why should those annoying control decks have all the fun?"
Weekend(s) of Events
It has been an exciting year for independent tournament organizers providing a regular schedule of events for players looking for a taste of high-level competition, without having to get through the minefield that is the Pro Tour Qualifier circuit. Star City Games' Open Series has been a huge success all around the United States and it will continue to provide Standard and Legacy events in two weeks in Nashville.
"The StarCityGames.com Open Series has been a fantastic opportunity for us to bring top-notch events to players across the United States. It has truly been an amazing experience," said Star City President Pete Hoefling. He went on to talk about how the event has grown since we first talked about it in this column many months back. "We've increased the prize payouts, implemented the StarCityGames.com Open Points system and created the upcoming StarCityGames.com Invitational in Richmond on December 3rd-5th. We've also made countless tweaks to help our events run even better, such as adding additional staff to Events Department specifically to support the Open Weekends. However, players haven't seen anything yet. We've got some big plans for 2011!"
Attendance for the SCG Open events has been climbing steadily as players scramble for the last remaining invites before the Invitational.
"Our StarCityGames.com Standard Open in Indianapolis had 667 players, which was pretty mind-blowing. Who knows how many will make their way to Richmond, Virginia on December 3rd-5th for the StarCityGames.com Invitational Weekend?" Pete continued.
"We're in Nashville on the weekend of October 16th-17th and Charlotte on the weekend of October 30th-31st. With the inaugural StarCityGames.com Invitational coming up in December, we're expecting sizable turnouts as players try to qualify for the big show!"
Large tournaments are obviously beneficial to the Star City Games bottom line, and Pete views them as a way to strengthen the Magic community as a whole.
"While the StarCityGames.com Open Series is now an integral part of our overall business plan, we have a strong belief here that making the Magic community stronger helps everybody involved in the game," Pete explained. "By offering players more opportunities to compete in quality events, we're building up the community, which ultimately benefits us along with everyone else."
Of course there is week off between this weekend's event in New York and the events in Nashville and in Boston. The weekend off—at least in North America—will be filled by players taking part in the 2010 State and Provincial Championships organized by Glenn Goddard of Sunmesa Events and local tournament organizers in each state or province.
Players not in North America next weekend might be tempted to go down under for Grand Prix–Sydney which will feature Scars of Mirrodin Limited and our first chance to see how the pros draft this new set.
It is going to be a few crazy weeks as we sort out the impact that Scars of Mirrodin will have on Limited, Standard, and Legacy. That is not even counting all the Launch Parties that will be taking place worldwide this very weekend. My release event is going to be a $5K Sealed Deck tournament.
Here is the deck I built with the pool I showed you before. Feel free to head to the forums and tell me where you think I could have done something differently with this pool.
Friday Night Magic Foil Spotlight
Find an FNM Near You!
Find an FNM Near You!
On top of everything else that is going on this weekend, there is a new FNM foil card that will be debuting at an event near you this evening. It may be something you want to get your hands on—Rift Bolt, a staple of red decks of all stripes and formats. Just check out the deck that Red Deck master Petr Brozek played in Amsterdam that features a full play set of the suspend burn spell.
Petr Brozek's Deck Bolts
Extended - Pro Tour–Amsterdam