Grand Prix Baltimore was a blast, both in regards to the Magic I played and everything else. Some of you may be reading BMP.com for the first time after I hounded you to check out the site, and I thank you for doing so.
Well, enough stalling, let’s get on with the Suck!
1. Fogo Foul
This isn’t a Magic-related misplay, but it certainly was one of my wrong moves made in Baltimore this weekend. On Friday the Harrisburg crew went to Fogo de Chao for our traditional pre-GP feast. For those unaware, Fogo is a Brazilian steakhouse that features endless high-quality meat that servers bring to your table. It’s moderately expensive, but the value of the meat you eat is easily worth three times the cost of the meal, it’s that good and you eat so much of it.
To accomplish the goal of eating as much awesome meat as you can, one has to stay focused and avoid the various “traps” Fogo throws in your way. There are two primary traps – the salad bar, which I had no trouble avoiding, and the various delicious, but filling, side dishes strewn across each table.
The side dishes include fried bananas, insanely tasty mashed potatoes, and, worst of all, sweet buttery rolls. My misplay here was eating one of those rolls, then another, and another after that. The rolls made me full, preventing me from eating at least one more plate of prime rib or bacon-wrapped lamb, and not getting full meat value out of my meal. I fell for Fogo’s side-dish trap, and it was definitely a misplay on the evening. Rolls < awesome meat.
I also left one of my favorite hats underneath my chair at the restaurant, but didn’t realize it until Sunday. They couldn’t find it when I called, so someone must have gotten a free hat.
2. The Goblin Agreement
As I wrote about last week, I have been messing around with a fun, but janky, Five Dollar Goblins deck. As a joke after going 4-1 at the FNM, I told some friends that I’d play the deck at the GP if they paid my entry fee. Somehow I wasn’t surprised when they accepted the offer.
However, my “investors” required one major change in order for me to play the deck. I had to replace the Stormblood Berserkers with Goblin Pikers. That actually turned out to be a “good” change, since I won two games by ripping a Piker with a Goblin Grenade in hand for the win where I would have lost had I ripped a Berserker. I went 4-4 with the deck, which was WAY better than I thought I would do, and got MANY interesting looks from my opponents.
I also made a fun side bet with one of my “investors” prior to the GP on the number of Goblin Pikers I could acquire for $5 on Saturday morning. The over/under was 16, but we both thought it would be between 10-20 – we were both wrong. I asked every vendor in the hall for Goblin Pikers, and nobody had a single copy. Two vendors actually asked me what Goblin Piker does, which I found hilarious. “Just a 2/1? No first strike or anything?”
3. FNM mindset for an FNM deck
Every year we hear at least one story about a pro player taking rules lawyering to the next level against a less competitive player. It’s where the phrase “Wescoe Check” comes from, and why the words “target” and “Esper Charm” are now rarely used in the same sentence (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, google “targeting yourself with Esper Charm incident”).
Because of this, many players, including myself, have become more careful about calling a judge over an issue others might perceive as a “little thing.” Adding to this general mindset was the facts that I was playing my FNM goblins deck, my GP entry fee was paid by other people, and I was more intent on having fun with a stupid deck than winning a competitive event.
In the 2nd round I played against a young white-blue Humans player who likely hadn’t played Magic for more than a few months based on his mannerisms – where he placed cards, sometimes drawing before untapping, etc. He played Honor of the Pure on turn 2 by placing it far on one side of the play area, somewhat obstructed by our deck boxes but I could still see it.
A few turns later, we engaged in a complicated combat phase where several creatures attacked and blocked, and I played a few burn spells to protect some of my attackers. I passed the turn, he drew his card, and then we both realized Honor of the Pure was out there, but we hadn’t applied the P/T bonus to his creatures. It is at this point that I made two mistakes.
First, in a competitive event (or any event for that matter), when you move on after missing triggers or effects, you call a judge to fix it. The judge will usually give warnings and leave the game state as it is, since it was a mutual mistake. I did not call a judge, but instead we went back and fixed it. This caused several of my goblins to die that I had intended to protect, and he was able to get a much better board state. Had things been left alone, I would have won on my next turn.
Second, after we “fixed” the problem from the previous turn without calling a judge, my opponent accidentally drew a second card, forgetting that he already drew for this turn. He immediately realized it, and put it back, letting a nervous “oh shit!” I said it was no big deal, and told him just to put the card on the bottom of the library, as I do at any FNM when this occurs. But this wasn’t an FNM, it was a Grand Prix – competitive rules level. Drawing an extra card like that is an automatic game loss. I lost that game, and the game after that, when there were two opportunity to just call a judge over and win the game. I talked with my Level 2 Judge friend after the match about the situation, who told me that in any event, just call a judge over and have him/her sort everything out. They’ll be the ones to issue the penalty and I’ll not need worry about anyone’s perception of whether it was just a “little” thing. Drawing extra cards or screwing up the game state are common and complex instances that should always be sorted out by a judge.
4. If it looks like a vendor, it must be a vendor
This misplay wasn’t mine, but rather one committed (in my opinion) by the people running the GP. A good friend of mine is a dedicated Magic card trader, and goes to events to make epic trades instead of playing. He’s really supportive of the local magic community, and other vendors, and focuses more on making good relationships rather than turning a profit. He has a partnership with the local shop to sell cards there, so all of his cards are marked with prices. However, he was not selling or buying any cards while he was in the tournament hall. The prices were what he used as trade value, since the hall had little-to-no phone reception for which to look up prices online.
However, the tournament organizers saw the prices and immediately assumed that he was selling cards without authorization (violating a common event policy), and made him leave the hall. Not only did no cash ever changed hands, but also the TO’s own judges and employees sat down to trade with him throughout the day. Still, the TOs viewed him as a threat to the paying vendors and kicked him out. I have nothing against the TOs personally, or the other stores, and neither does my friend. In fact, he was a patron of the on-site vendors multiple times throughout the day, selling and buying cards with them, not individual players/traders. In other words, my friend was supporting the registered vendors, not competing with them, but the TOs did not try to understand this.
The TOs needed only watch my friend for a little bit to see what he was really doing, instead of assuming that he was trying to subvert their policies. This jumping to conclusions about what someone is or isn’t doing hurts the game and the atmosphere of the big events. We understand why the policy exists, but TOs should enforce it on people who actually violate it, not those they merely suspect of violations, without any real basis. Price tabs in a binder is not enough to make someone a vendor, especially if they are using those as trade values and no cash is ever changing hands.
After seeing this, I was afraid to even bring my bag of shirts into the hall, and only sold them outside in the atrium. I didn’t want to be kicked out of the hall too, since that would mean I couldn’t play in the event. I don’t think this outcome is the intent of having a registered-vendor-only policy at events.
5. Flipper Bomb
This misplay wasn’t devastating, and really didn’t have too much of an effect on the game, but I should share it nonetheless. I was playing monogreen in the TCGplayer.com Invitational Qualifier on Sunday, against blue-white spirits/delver. He had several 1/1 spirit tokens and a Snapcaster Mage, and I had Garruk Relentless at 3 counters (regular side up) and Ratchet Bomb with no counters. I use Garruk’s 3 dmg ability to kill the Snapcaster and flip it. My opponent plays midnight haunting at the end of my turn, and I blow the Ratchet Bomb during his combat phase. I forgot that Garruk flipped is also a 0-cost permanent and died to the Ratchet Bomb. I had another Garruk in hand (the bigger one) and I’d rather have that out anyway, so it was no big deal. But it could have been really bad if I actually needed Garruk to stay out there, it certainly would have been a major misplay. Phew!
6. Seat Shuffle
As the later rounds of the GP came to pass, many players began to drop without telling the scorekeeper. During round 7 in the 2-4 record rows where I was sitting, every other table was missing an opponent, including the one next to me. I played a game against my opponent, who basically crushed me, and began to shuffle up for game 2.
At this point I glance at the score sheet with our names on it, and notice that the name he used during his introduction was not the same as the one on my sheet. I asked him what his last name was, and his answer confirmed he was not supposed to be my opponent. I looked over at the score sheet in front of the empty chair next to me, and we both realize where my opponent was supposed to be.
He sat at the wrong table, and without thinking much of it, we started the match. He got a game loss for being late to his actual match, and it was my opponent who was a no show. I was probably going to lose that match had the guy who sat down at my table actually been my opponent, so I got lucky there. (It turns out the guy makes some pretty epic 3D tokens, which I’m sure I’ll write about at some point)
This is actually the second time this has happened to me. The first time it happened at GP Atlanta during the Win-an-Ipad side event I won. As much as I like earning a win, sometimes a free win is still refreshing.
I hope you enjoyed this GP edition of the Series. I had a great time in Baltimore and hope everyone can find their way to a Grand Prix, as it really is a blast to spend a whole weekend engulfed in Magic: the Gathering. Until next time, don’t make any mistakes – let me do make them for you!