Captain’s Log #3 – It’s a Process

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“It’s a process. It’s a process. It’s a process.” – Billy Beane, Moneyball

Exhausted. One word to describe how I currently feel. I had sworn off traveling to PTQs a few months ago, but this past weekend, I decided to participate in two of them.

Why the fire?

It probably had a lot to do with starting the month with a top 4 finish at the local Montreal PTQ. There was also the fact that I actually enjoyed my deck. I didn’t want to wait another year in order to be able to take it out again at a PTQ, so I agreed to join my friends William Blondon, Andrew McQuaw, and Justin Richardson on a trip to Connecticut and Burlington.

Distraught

In between the Montreal PTQ and this road trip, I did get to play at a PTQ in Quebec City where I started things off with a 1-2 record. It had been a long time since I had been eliminated from top 8 contention at such an early juncture of a tournament.

For the first time in my short competitive Magic career, I was upset with myself. I smiled and wished my opponent good luck as usual but I was eating at myself inside. It actually took me some time to calm myself down a bit. If you know me at all, you would never expect this out of me. This experience did help me realize a flaw in my mental game. My expectations were becoming way too unrealistic.

I had cashed my last two Grand Prixs and top 4ed my last two PTQs. I made myself believe that I could will myself into another top 8 when I should just be focusing on playing the best I can. Today, I am thankful for that 1-2 start as it smacked me back into reality.

Magic Weekend

Out of the four of us, only William managed to make top 8 at the Connecticut PTQ. Props to him as he has become a stronger player in the last month, playing the Lanthier Jund list as efficiently as he could.

I finished the Connecticut PTQ with a record of 6-2 and the Burlington PTQ with a record of 5-2, bringing my total season record (ignoring intentional draws) to 28-12. I am proud of myself as I don’t think a 70% win rate with Bogles is something to sneeze at.

Although Standard season is upon us, my win rate will make sure that I remember this deck next year and before I lock the deck up for a year, I will present to you my last list for those of you looking to play Bogles at your local Modern FNM.

It’s funny how on an earlier article of mine, I had mentioned that I didn’t think Fists of Ironwood was good enough yet here it is in my final list. After playing the deck so much, I just felt like I was losing a lot of games where I was drawing too many creatures.

The goal was to shave Silhana Ledgewalker, the weakest creature in the deck, but to somehow keep the creature count high enough to fend off opposing Liliana of the Veils. With a Spiritdancer in play, Fists can draw you a card and in more than a few matchups, the Trample ability is relevant. It also boosts your Ethereal Armors. All of this made me buy the fact that it is probably a fine main deck card.

Having Fists of Ironwood made it easier to just cut the Pithing Needles from my board which I used mainly as an answer to Liliana. On the subject of defending against Liliana, I had been considering Leyline of Sanctity for the longest time. I even asked Gerry for his opinion on the last episode of the Eh Team and ultimately, I now think it’s a mistake to include it.

You are only going to get Leylines in your opening hand roughly 40% for the time. Most of the other time, you will not have it and you will have 4 dead cards to draw which is a very dangerous situation to be in against Jund because they will just shred your hand and I would like every card I draw to matter.

Ultimately, I think Leylines make sense if I think the matchup without them is awful, but in 5 PTQs, I am 4-0 against Jund, so I decided not to play them. Besides, it’s not good against anything else.

Bogles Forever

The deck is awesome and I highly recommend it. Splinter Twin and Scapeshift are two of the bad matchups so if your local metagame is filled with those decks, you might have to consider playing something else. Other than that, there’s quite a few matchups you are very happy to face. Personally, I’ve had no issues smashing UWR, RG, Mono Red, Eggs, and Affinity.

I enjoyed my weekend. It was made extra awesome when an Eh Team fan (Bowen) at the Connecticut PTQ came up to me and said he was 5-0 with one of the decklists I provided in one of my previous articles. Sadly, he lost his two win-and-ins to miss the top 8.

In another round, I was sitting next to someone who said that he was playing the Lanthier Jund deck that Doug Potter wrote about on Mana Deprived. It’s still surreal for me to know that our website is starting to impact people’s deck choices at events.

Shameless Errors

In Magic, I think one of things that hold people back is their unwillingness to discuss errors in their play for fear of being ridiculed. It certainly doesn’t help that a good bulk of the community are quick to make fun of someone for a misplay. You make one blunder and all of a sudden, you’re stupid. You’re an idiot. You don’t deserve to win. It doesn’t even matter if you are just someone that started playing the game a month ago. You’re stupid, alright?

Thank goodness for articles such as Creating a Fearless Magical Inventory by Sam Stoddard which encourage us to put our egos aside and take a good hard look at things we are doing wrong in a game of Magic. I am also constantly inspired by the story of Reid Duke writing down every single mistake he committed at the Players’ Championship.

Reid Duke's list of mistakes at the World Magic Cup
Reid Duke’s list of mistakes at the Players’ Championship

The mistakes that I did this past weekend were elementary mistakes that I am actually embarrassed to share. Shout-out to Justin for watching my games and pointing them out to me. For my first error, I was against a Pod player and when he tried to cast Eternal Witness, I had somehow forgotten that I had Torpor Orb in play.

Another time, I was against a RG player where I was attacking with a Kor Spiritdancer that had Fists of Ironwood on it. After he blocked with a Goblin Guide and damage was assigned, I then realized my Spiritdancer had trample because of Fists. Damage was already dealt, so it was too late for me to assign trample damage.

I have been trying to figure out why I made such dumb mistakes and the only thing that clearly sticks out is that these are the two cards that I have played with the least. My mind kept telling me that all Fists of Ironwood did was give me 2 dudes. In the future, I need to be more aware of what every single one of my cards do.

At least I wasn’t alone in making such elementary mistakes. While playing against a UWR player who had Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir on the board, Andrew cracked an Egg in order to try to cast Silence on his opponent’s turn. Of course, Teferi doesn’t allow for that, so Andrew basically ended up losing an Egg for no reason.

The last error I want to cement in writing is how terribly I played against Twin in my final PTQ of the season. I was 5-2 for the day with both my losses to the UR deck. I was always overthinking the matchup and trying to represent Path to Exile when it just never made sense to ever do that.

If my opponent is going to die on the next turn, they are not going to bother playing around Path to Exile, so I made the costly error of holding up mana when I could have played an extra Aura or two. I still regret the lines I took. Hopefully, writing this out will give me some closure.

Eggs

I have been complaining about Eggs since Grand Prix Columbus in 2012 and people seem to be more vocal about banning the deck nowadays, especially after it just won Grand Prix San Diego. Let’s be clear though. I don’t think the deck is broken from a power standpoint. It’s the most consistent combo deck in the format, but if people are prepared for it, it’s not that easy to slice through all the hate.

In the 5 PTQs I played this season, I faced it twice and beat it both times, so power is not an issue for me. However, the deck can go off on turn 3 which we all know Wizards is not a major fan of. After all, it was one of the reasons they decided to ban Seething Storm.

I think something will get axed because I don’t think the deck is good for the game. One player should not take such a long turn. Then again, there’s people like Andrew who play the deck faster than anyone I know and if everyone were to play the deck at his pace, maybe it wouldn’t be such a problem.

You

During the week, I will be concentrating on Standard as I plan to get back right into the grind by playing the online PTQ on Sunday. Hopefully, I’ll be able to provide you guys with some insights next week.

But let’s end this article by having you guys pitch in. Tell me… What’s your last terrible misplay?

Until next time,

KYT

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