Pact of the Titan: And So It Begins



I have made numerous attempts in the past to write a regular column, but there were just too many back-end responsibilities I had to take care of. Today, I am proud to say that I have finally finished assembling the Mana Deprived editing staff. Thanks to the following people, I can now contribute to the site through articles.

William Blondon
Alexander Hayne
David Mantel
Kyle Mathers
Shawn Petsche
Yeu-Fann Stafford

We also just added Cody Crossman to the team, so with everyone’s help, I believe I might finally have enough time to make this a regular thing.


A weekend ago, I was in Ottawa. I was on a short family vacation. We went to Toronto and Niagara Falls before landing in the capital city. On Friday night, I was staying up late watching Season 7 of 24 with my sister. Did I really want to get up super early the next morning to play a mere GPT? The problem was that I could not let my friends Dan Lanthier and Phil Samms down. These guys seem to genuinely want me to succeed at this game, so I did eventually set an alarm on my phone.

The GPT place took place at the Wizard’s Tower in Barrhaven and I must say I have nothing but kind words to say about the store. I was at their FNM Friday night and they seem to draw a decent crowd. Not only that, they have a good number of tables too. I definitely would not complain if this were my local card store.

Anyways, back to the GPT, it turns out most of the top Ottawa players do not care enough to play. Ben Moir, PSamms and Zack Spence are three Ottawa players that I respect. They showed up to FNM. They barely played any Magic. They showed up to the GPT. They didn’t play. Okay… What the heck is going on here? Out of the 20+ players that participated, I only recognized two names. GP Toronto champion Jon Smithers and the Albertan legend of legends Taylor Putnam.

Smithers, who was previously known as a Limited specialist, has done nothing but lose in the realm of 40 card decks, so he was not someone to fear too much. Putnam, on the other hand, has been someone that Doug Potter has mentioned to me countless times and you know when Doug Potter talks about you that much, you must be good.

The GPT was going to consist of 5 rounds of Swiss followed by a top 8 draft. For the Swiss portion of the tournament, the format would be M12 Sealed. With my pool, I made the following deck:

My pool essentially built itself due to the lack of solid cards in the other 3 colours. Lanthier was watching me build my deck and the only decision I was mulling over was whether I should be playing the 2 Goblin Bangchuckers and the 1 Goblin Grenade I had in my pool over the 2 Fling and the 1 Crumbling Colossus I ended up with. I was drawn to the power of the Grenade and the Bangchuckers would give me enough Goblins to use it. However, the Bangchuckers themselves are sub-par cards. Lanthier would later tell me that I was silly for even considering the other option. He was definitely right.

It was a solid RB Aggro deck that allowed me to go 3-1 in the first 4 rounds which thankfully allowed me to draw into the top 8 draft. The deck ultimately needed more removal to be considered a good deck, so I was not disappointed with my performance with it. The only card I may have previously underrated would have to have been Volcanic Dragon. I thought 6 mana made it a fine card at best, but it won me a match by itself.

In the top 8 draft, I ended up with the following pile of green stuff.

Notice the dangerous amount of lands: 15. With 3 Llanowar Elves, 1 Rampant Growth and 1 Solemn Simulacrum, I thought it was very reasonable to play 15. Coupled with the fact that I did not think my deck was all too good, I decided that I needed to take some risks as mana flooding would mean impending doom. Without Overrun or a late-game trump card (except Carnage Wurm?!), getting to the late game was going to mean trouble for me.

In the quarters, I was paired against what most everyone considered the best deck at the table. Brian Saunders had drafted and built a very good deck. Game 1 saw 2 of my early Llanowar Elves get Fireballed and an Inferno Titan easily finished me off. Game 2, I made the critical error of attacking with my Troll-Hiding Sacred Wolf into a 1/1 with 3 mana up. I ran into Slaughter Cry and the word BLOWOUT appeared in my mind.

Somehow, I managed to answer Inferno Titan with Oblivion Ring and Flameblast Dragon with Plummet. There was a sense of satisfaction in answering these two bombs as he was flashing the Flameblast Dragon to PSamms while having Inferno Titan in play, but at this late stage of the game, I knew I had no shot. The game was going long and his deck had stronger cards as he eventually kills me with Peregrine Griffin and Bonebreaker Giant with a Crown of Empires as insurance.

I shook Brian’s hands. The dream was over. Or so I thought. Brian actually had to leave and the only reason he was staying was to help his friend Johnathan Bentley win the GPT. When time came for Brian to leave and Bentley had not finished his match with Putnam yet, Brian generously decided to concede to me and I remain grateful for his gesture. Thanks again Brian! You definitely would have taken this draft down had you stayed.

The top 4 match against Chris Jones was unexciting. He was on UR, but every time he would try to use Jace’s Archivist for value, he would only cycle lands into lands. I eventually won the semi-finals and there I was, one match away from taking down the whole thing. Who would stand in my way? That’s right, none other than the Legend of Legends himself, Taylor Putnam. Lanthier said that it was like this whole tournament was scripted.

There isn’t a whole lot to say about the finals sadly as I was able to put and keep pressure on Taylor both games. Game 1 had me attacking until I could Bloodthirst a Carnage Wurm. The spectators could not help themselves from stating how big it was. People have apparently never seen it put in play. Game 2, I was able to slowly tick down Taylor’s life total down with a healthy dose of tokens.

I won! I am supposed to be happy right? Somehow, part of me wasn’t. Part of me felt bad for beating a friend. Part of me felt I didn’t deserve to win because I was scooped to in the top 8. Part of me felt I played very loose at certain points during the top 8. All of these feelings would go away as I recognized that taking down an event meant the world for my confidence.

Draft Ramblings

During the top 8 draft, I actually had an interesting decision to make. The best card was Stingerfling Spider, but the rare was a foil Solemn Simulacrum. I ultimately decided to take the Solemn Simulacrum for multiple reasons. It was worth way more in monetary value than the Spider. As with most pros, I was also not particular fond of Green, so I was happy to ship what I felt was the more powerful card. Of course, I would then be fed nothing but Green and the guy to my left ended up in Green because of the Stingerfling Spider signal.

Speaking of signals, I cannot emphasize how important it is, at least in semi-casual events, to not focus on the signals you are passing. Focusing on the signals you are getting passed is more important because it affects pack 1 and pack 3 of the draft. Of course, if you are like me, you can also be totally wrong in assuming what the person on your left is going to take. Last week, I passed a Fireball P1P1 only to discover that the opponent to my left opted for a Pacifism instead. A few weeks earlier, I had passed Doom Blade and Chandra Outrage P1P1 to the infamous Luan B Wong who ended up taking Belltower Sphinx instead because his first card was Mind Control.

And so ends my writing on my GPT experience.


Now I want to discuss a topic that I have always wanted to write about. When it comes to emotions in Magic, the first thing that comes to mind is tilt, though some people have started to sway away from its original meaning. In poker, being on tilt means letting your emotions hinder you from making the optimal decisions. There have been numerous articles written by a multitude of players on the topic. In fact, Mana D’s very own Noah Long wrote one that you can check out here.

My concern lies more in the negative emotions the game seem to invoke in people. At the GPT, I was sitting next to someone who had just lost a side-event draft. He was angrily disappointed in the result and could not believe that he did not draw any one of the three outs in his deck. He was visually very frustrated. Some people just cannot handle the variance of the game. In fact, I have had more than one friend tell me that they might consider just playing casually because competitive play was just hurting them too much. They could not believe how badly they had been running.

What I want my readers to know is that I do not believe that one should resist evoking emotions. I have heard some people get the idea that you need to be this emotionless robot to succeed. I disagree. Do you believe Michael Jordan played with 0 emotions when he was dominating the NBA? Emotions can certainly give someone the energy and the motivation they need to succeed. It is just a matter of not letting them overwhelm you. Even too much confidence can be a bad thing, right? At the end of the day, a lot of us play this game because we care about winning. I had a short Twitter conversation with PV who half-jokingly said that losing is supposed to make you want to kill yourself, so to be clear, I definitely think it is okay to care.

It just bothers me that my friends might leave the game because of their illogical beliefs or unrealistic expectations. After all, our minds are easily deceived. We go to the casino. We see the Roulette table. It has been Black the last 7 times. A lot of us can’t help but think that there’s a greater chance the ball will land on Red the next time. Even I used to think that way. You have people surrounding the table analyzing past results, when really, they do not matter.

One of my best friends, Alex Roger, at one point told me that he didn’t like to pile shuffle anymore because every time he did that, it gave him a bad hand. Suffice it to say, I had to smack some sense into him. How many of you have heard similar bullshit from your buddies? Still, I cannot completely blame him. Like I said, humans are prone to falling into these mental traps.

When I started playing online poker, I would want to tell all my bad beat stories to my friends. To me, the probability of hitting a 2-out on the river just seemed too low, so it felt like I was sharing some sort of epic tale. But as I played more and even for a living during a period of time, the bad beats just kept coming and they were no longer incredible occurrences. I didn’t care to share my unlucky hands anymore. Back to Magic, I am at the point where I am never really paying attention when someone tells me about their bad beats. The cards are different, but the story is the same. It’s not just interesting anymore.

As I write this, I am reminded by something I read in Harrington on Cash Games, Volume II. In this book, there is an interview between Harrington and Hoff where the latter is asked what he feels might be the weakness of the young poker stars of the world. Hoff answered that the problem with these kids is that they do not know what it is like to lose for months. Returning to Magic, you have a lot of kids these days talking about variance as if they understand it, but they really don’t.

For most of my readers, I am basically telling them what they already know, but I had to get this out there. For all the Alex Rogers in the world. You can come up with methods to cope with your tilt, but the problem probably lies deeper than that. You can learn all the breathing techniques you want to deal with the rage when it triggers, but I would work on figuring out why it is being triggered in the first place.

Name of the Column

Some readers might be curious to know the reasoning behind the name of this column, so I am here to tell the story behind it. For as long as I can remember, people have been playing around with my name. Just because Kar is part of my name, kids found it ingenious to give me nicknames such as Bus, Jet, Plane, or even Submarine. Those cruel, cruel kids. Funny thing is, I never remember being bothered by all this, but I guess given my nature, I should not be too surprised.

Most recently, since starting Mana Deprived, people have been playing around with my initials. Of course, the first thing people think about is K-Y Jelly. Alex Hayne and Nick Leblanc have since decided to popularize new hits such as KYTitties. Lanthier contributed with his innovation of KYTweets and then there’s Chris Lansdell who enjoys calling me KYTizzle. Finally at Nationals, Hayne would start calling me KYTitan with a decent level of regularity. It would then become my favourite variation. Hey, I didn’t say it was going to be a fascinating story!

GP Montreal

Well, with that said, I hope I offered you an entertaining read. I hope to see some of you at GP Montreal. If you want to hang out with the Mana D crew, be sure to check out our Facebook Event for the weekend.

GP Montreal ManaDeprived Guest List

Take good care,