GP Portland: Is That All You Got?! – Part 1


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by Shawn Petsche

Mana Deprived strives to highlight the very best Magic: the Gathering material Canadians have to offer.  Today, we are proud to announce our partnership with the Broken City School of Magic.  The Broken City School of Magic is a collection of Magic thinkers, doers and egomaniacs who build, strategize and fail over beers in Calgary, Alberta. Jay Tuharsky, member of the Eh Team podcast, is part of this group.  In their debut for Mana Deprived, Shawn Petsche writes about his epic journey in GP Portland.

Ramblin' Preamblin'
"This man is a roving and impassioned daguerreotype that preserves the least traces, and on which are reproduced, with their changing reflections, the course of things, the movement of the city, the multiple physiognomy of the public spirit, the confessions, antipathies, and admirations of the crowd."

For the last tournament report that I wrote (Regionals/PTQ Amsterdam), I tried to pull back and view the Broken City School of Magic crew's deck choices, records, and general weekend successes and failures as filtered through expectations other players and ourselves may have had of us. It seemed like a good way to introduce the 'faculty' to the broader Alberta Magic community and a way to put things in perspective as most of us found ourselves a win out of the Top 8.

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For GP Portland, however, I knew that I wanted to do something a little bit different; something that wouldn't take me three weeks to write; something that better represented what I'm enjoying about Magic: the Gathering. Over the past few months, we've met a number of players from all across North America, and though we'll talk shop about pick orders or sideboard tech, more often than not, we end up relating not just through the game we play, but through the stories we tell. Some of them are indeed the kind of Magic-centric stories that you regale your friends with between matches — like the time that Jared Maguire came back from a countered Devastating Summons, losing all of his lands while staring down a fully-leveled Lighthouse Chronologist, only to win one land and one Kazandu Tuskcaller Elephant token at a time — or that you need consoling from — like Ian Baker being one Swamp away from Day 2 at GP Portland. Other times, the stories are more universal or personal. Stories of previous travels, girlfriends (or boyfriends)…broader stories of firsts or lasts. I enjoy the game of Magic and I am increasingly enjoying all of the rituals, traditions and stories that seem to come along with it.

I guess the point is, there weren't any grand revelations this past weekend. Instead, like any good road trip, it was a few days of pals, cards, brews, urban exploration and…moments to share.

Day 1: The Drive (5:20pm-9:58am)

Jared Maguire, Jay "Boosh" Tuharsky, Paul MacKinnon and myself decided to drive overnight on Thursday to arrive in Portland first thing in the morning on Friday so that we could check into our hotel, get a bite to eat, and relax a bit before entering in some grinder tournaments. We left at 5pm-ish and expected to arrive for our early check-in at 10am. It seemed like a good idea at the time…

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(Jared Maguire, Jay "Boosh" Tuharsky)

It probably wasn't..

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(Jared Maguire)

The first few hours of the drive were, in true Jay "Boosh" Tuharsky and Jared "Philosophy Student" Maguire fashion, spent arguing about mostly inane things. We did discuss the power of some M11 cards (Jared values Cancel much higher than Paul, Jay doesn't like Scroll Thief, though he's also the guy who once decided to play 3 Barony Vampires instead of 2 and a Sword of Vengeance). I wouldn't say we came to any solid conclusions, other than beyond just playing good cards and having a deck with a plan, it's also important to play cards you're comfortable playing with.

We also spent a solid 45 minutes arguing about whether or not 5:20 was within the acceptable definition of "around 5pm," the time we had said Jay would be picked up. It was an argument we ended up polling people on throughout the weekend – bartenders, strippers, Magic players and hotel staff. Anywho, though it was a grueling back-and-forth and looked to be chipping away the spirit and energy of everyone in the car that wasn't Jay, we managed to stay alert enough to find a gas station about 10 minutes after our warning signal went on. It just happened to be the greatest gas station on earth…

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(Jay "Boosh" Tuharsky)

With a shockingly well-stocked collection of pornography, light sabers, bootleg Johnny Carson DVDs, novelty driver's licenses, and 100 Grand Chocolate Bars (mmmm), our spirits were raised and we soldiered on while listening to Jared's collection of drone rock. Though it put many in the car to sleep, Jared and I agreed that, seemingly paradoxically, since the genre is largely based on nuanced changes, it actually acts as a stimulant for late night driving.

Day 2: Are We There Yet?

With an all-nighter behind us, a few hours ahead of us, and once again just barely hitting a gas station before finding ourselves stranded in the middle of Idaho, we were in need of a second spirit-raiser…oh lord, did we ever have one delivered to us from the heavens. Total exhaustion and giddyness led to a near-inexplicable series of events that remained the highlight of the trip for at least two of its witnesses.

Jay Boosh to a bird in the gas station parking lot: "FUCK YOU BIRD!"
The entire car load of us turns to see what could possibly spur Jay on to say something so random.
The bird who Jay hath scolded reacts by flying up and unloading a homing missile-of-a-shit that manages to change angles and land a direct hit on Paul's arm, horizontally through the car window.
Tired laughter ensues for a solid 45 minutes, with mocking fake laughter often turning back into genuine laughter at the absurdity of what had transpired.
"FUCK YOU X" became the slogan of the trip.

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Only later did Doug Potter, a Magic tournament mainstay from Edmonton, point out to us that Paul MacKinnon was sporting a raging erection from the event, leading to even more mockery, a new nickname, and the discovery of an entirely new sexual fetish. Paul is on record as saying it's just a fold in his sweater.

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America is FUCKED.

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Rather than slum it at McDonald's for grey meat, I convinced our crew to meet up with some of the other Albertan Magic players (Robert Brews and Mat Mercier) near the convention center for a meal at Burgerville, a Portland chain that exclusively uses local ingredients and offers seasonal milkshakes. The blackberry shake was delicious and it was a decent burger.

Day 2: Grinders

Tired of waiting for the rest of the Broken City Magic crew – Ian Baker and Kyle Weevers – to arrive, Jared, Paul and I trek'd over to a place I had grown fond of the last time out in Portland, The Doug Fir, which was conveniently located about 10 minutes from the tournament hall. The Oh Sees were playing in the afternoon as we arrived, but we decided to forgo the rock show for some well-deserved cocktails.

Grinder #1: The Dark and Stormy
Made with locally brewed ginger beer, it went down a little too quickly, so I ordered up a second drink.

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Grinder #2: ???
"Whatever you recommend, just not something too fruity." Well, I don't think our bartender was really listening to me, but the berry drink was good.

Grinder #3: Knotty Lemonade
A refreshing drink to nurse outside in the sun while waiting for the rest of the crew…

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It was on the back patio of the Doug Fir that our crew finally managed to assemble in full Voltron-style; Ian arriving from the train station and Kyle from the airport. We all decided that the next time there's a GP in Portland, we're staying at one of the over-looking motel rooms.

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(left to right: Jared Maguire, Kyle Weevers, Ian Baker, Jay Tuharsky, Paul MacKinnon)

Grinder #4: Lagunitas IPA
Three cocktails in and the outrageously cheap beer was even more impressive…

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…we crashed briefly at the hotel before heading out to our first (and last) actual grinder of the night. We argued a bit about whether or not it was worth $40 for a chance at 3 byes, but a few of us just wanted to get in some competitive Magic before the big day to loosen up and know what to expect. Turns out that, even though we tried to stagger our arrivals so as to end up in different grinder pods, five of us played in the same tournament.

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(Jared Maguire, too tired to unfold the rollaway cott)

Grinder #1: M11 Sealed
When opening the sealed pool, I took note that I should bring headphones and my iPod the following day for the GP. Though I have decided that I will never become one of those players who plays out their match all headphone'd-up, I found that hearing other players around me discuss their pools and how "whoever gets passed this better play x and y colours" was annoying me to the point of near-tilt. In fact, I must've tilted at some point, as a judge had to come over and verify an inconsistency on my deck sheet prior to the tournament commencing ("Stone Golem, not Steel Overseer, sorry Judge, I'm pretty drunk").

I was actually fairly confident that I was going to win the grinder when I was passed a pool including Primeval Titan (w/ accompanying foil Mystifying Maze), Obstinate Baloth, 2 Blinding Mage, 2 Pacifism, 2 Lightning Bolts, Sylvan Rangers and Cultivates and plenty of strong white creatures. At the very least, I paid for my entry.

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I absolutely rolled my opponent in round 1 without seeing the Titan or Baloth in either game. In round 2, I lost games 1 and 3 on no-land mulligans to 5. I wasn't actually too disapointed, though. I figured it was better to get the bad luck out of the way then as opposed to the following day. Also, it was getting late…late enough that Jay had to return to the hotel to tuck his lady into bed via Skype.

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(Robert Brews to opponent: "My friends are standing behind you laughing because I'm winning." We all walked away shocked at the words we just heard)

After our eventual (inevitable?) eliminations from the grinder tourney, we took up Paul on his offer to 6-man team cube draft back at the hotel w/ fellow Albertan Michel Maes.

As we hit the courtyard area, Jared stopped in his tracks in awe of the sea of 40s of beer and cigarette smoke.
"Where did you get that? Can you smoke out here?"
The Star City Games crew answered him with:
"At the 7-11 just up the street" and "yes."
They also kindly offered us beer to get us through our first few matches if we agreed to return the favour a little later on in the night. We did.

Grinder #5-7: Pabst Blue Ribbon(s)
This beer cost approximately $0.79. Awesome.

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As someone who hasn't played cards outside of Revised and the current Standard environment, I was suprised by how fun the draft portion of the Cube was. I managed to draft a decent Green/White splashing Black Elf & Token deck, with two Elf lords, but found myself making plenty of play errors due to laziness and fatigue. I was happy to go 2-1, with teammate Paul carrying us to victory with a 3-0.

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(Jay "Boosh" Tuharsky, asleep about 4 hours before everyone else)

Jay skipped the draft and drinks to hit the sack early, I think so that he could wake up at 9:30am TO EAT ANOTHER BURGERVILLE BURGER. Breakfast of Champions. The rest of us decided on coffees and banana bread and such.

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(Jay "Boosh" Tuharsky and his breakfast burger)

Shortly before the tournament started, I managed to capture magic, literally and figuratively, in photo form. Below is Jay Boosh and Smi77y from the Eh Team Podcast nervously introducing themselves to Billy Moreno (black shirt, big chops…the one Smi77y seems to be fawning over), who looks more Elvis Presley than the Magic-playing hobo they make him out to be. It's actually kind of cute to see how giddy those two are, especially if you've listened to the podcasts and are aware of the Moreno history.

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(Jay "Boosh" Tuharsky (standing, 'stout' man in black shirt), Smi77y (standing, white shirt), Billy Moreno (disembodied head at the table))

At some point shortly thereafter, Doug Potter explained to Jay the concept of "barn-ing" (being a barnacle: attaching yourself to the 'celebs'). It was fun to tease Jay about being a little fanboy…until Jay himself was asked to sign someone's bag. Apparently mid-signature the autograph-asker said something to the effect of "yeah, I'm trying to get all of the pros to sign it," making it doubly funny.

This article was originally published over at the Broken City School of Magic.