Category Archives: CCG

the lazy magic writer – magic sucks (at the moment)

This is the reason why Magic sucks.

This is the reason why Magic sucks.

Fellow PNG writer Logan Persons shot me an email about 30 minutes ago with the following content:

whose dick do i have to suck to get some MTG posts?  Just point me in the right direction.

Since I’m married and I don’t want it to have to get to that, here’s a small update with my thoughts about Magic in its current incarnation: It sucks.

Sorry, but those are my feelings about it. I’ll get around to it after I explain what I’ve been doing for the past few months since my last update.

In May, I prepared for Grand Prix: Seattle, where I placed 49th and won $200 and a pro point for my troubles. Here’s my list of opponents and the decklist I played:

Day One:
R1-R3: Byes due to a GPT win.
R4: David Dobis – U/W Reveillark w/ Borderposts. Win 2-1.
R5: Steve Sadin – Jund Aggro. Loss 1-2.
R6: Tom Martell – Swans Cascade. Loss 0-2.
R7: Joseph Peters – Bloom Tender Reveillark. Win 2-1.
R8: Kevin Rand – 5cc Planeswalkers. Win 2-1.
R9: Doug Potter – Faeries. Win 2-0.

Day Two:

R10: Brandon Willis – B/W Tokens. Win 2-0.
R11: Stan Bessey – 5cBloodbraid. Loss 1-2.
R12: Mauricio Blanco – B/W Tokens. Win 2-1.
R13: Cristian Calcaro – Faeries. Loss 0-2.
R14: Gabriel Nassif – Jund Aggro. Win 2-1.
R15: Thomas Huteson – Faeries. Win 2-1.

Final record: 11-4 (8-4 in matches).

Decklist follows after the cut…

Continue reading

magic: the gathering – eliminating small mistakes


The four years I’ve taken off of competitive Magic have been interesting ones. When I stopped playing competitive Magic, I was working as a server at a local Italian chain restaurant and flunking out of undergraduate school. Since then, I’ve co-founded a wildly successful finance company (which I ran into the ground), worked for an Internet poker site as a data analyst, worked for Microsoft, and have developed a much, much stronger understanding of statistics, mathematics, and gaming theory (as well as traditional economics-based Game Theory).

Now, I’m not going to say that the experiences that I’ve had in the past are the reason that I’ve done well in the last two big tournaments I’ve played (outright winning the Standard Mox tournament and T8’ing the Extended PTQ), because I’ve gotten lucky in both and have made numerous simple play errors that could have cost me games. However, what I’ve always known but only recently fully appreciated is that Magic (like any other game) is a series of interactions that start well before the first card is drawn in the game. The game is full of small edges and decisions that are so minute that even top players simply ignore them. For example, see Gabriel Nassif’s 2009 PT: Kyoto deck. It contains 61 cards because he had no idea what to cut! The rationale behind such a move was simply “I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to cut,” and the implied reasoning behind it is “It’s not a big deal anyway.”

The lack of real statistical analysis of the game of Magic – despite the long history and the big payouts – continues to amaze me. People will justify playing 17 or 18 land in a limited deck just by glancing at the casting costs, or they’ll play 3 of a card instead of 4, or they’ll play a “miser’s” Loxodon Warhammer in the sideboard. All of these decisions make small, but significant impacts on the game in general!

Continue reading

magic: the gathering – kyle wins a tournament for a mox sapphire!

Mox Sapphire - Unlimited

Yes, that’s right – your favorite PNG Magic: The Gathering writer has won a Standard tournament for an Unlimited Mox Sapphire (retailing for about $550 these days), beating 92 players to do so. Through seven rounds of swiss, he piloted the following black/red Sligh deck to victory.  Find out how after the break!

Continue reading

Magic: The Gathering – Black/Red Sligh in Standard

Magic: The Gathering

Hello, everyone! You may remember me from various sources – my articles at in 2005 about U/W Mind’s Desire that eventually became the standardized combo deck during the PTQ season for Philadelphia, my articles about the R/G “Freshmaker” deck during Mirrodin block, or my articles about mono-blue in Standard when we ran cards like Chrome Mox, Relic Barrier, and Annul.

But if you don’t, I can’t say I blame you. I’m a never-was – I made three or four PTQ top eights in my past, never getting past the first round. I lost in the last round of GP: Oakland (Mirrodin-Mirrodin-Darksteel limited) to Ben Rubin where a win would have locked up a Top Eight slot and a draw would have ensured a Top Sixteen finish – and an invitation to PT: San Diego. I needed to win one of three matches at GP: Columbus (Mirrodin-Darksteel-Fifth Dawn limited) to make Day Two; I drew one and lost two.

I prepared exhaustively for GP: Boston (Extended), grinded at the local stores to get my rating above 1900 for two byes, and promptly went 0-2 because I didn’t test against Aluren and I kept bad hands against Reanimator.

My sole claim to Magic excellence was a 2025+ rating in Extended back when the ratings were separate. Most of you can’t even remember that, I’m sure – but rest assured, few players could pilot Thieving Magpies, Morphlings, and Faerie Conclaves to wins like me.

Continue reading