Tuesday, March 30, 2010


This is my dog, Frederique. She has been in my family since I was seven. Frederique is a rare breed of dog known as German Shepherd. Soon after Frederique arrived at our house, we noticed that she seemed to have a knack for reading books. We thought this was impossible because all of the books in our house were written in English and she could probably only read German. However, Frederique seemed to enjoy them nonetheless as she read everything she could get her paws on.

A few years ago, I would often come home and find Frederique attempting to read books with her teeth. Sensing her frustration, I took her to the finest canine optometrist that I could find - Hans Delbruck. After probing Frederique for what seemed like minutes, Dr. Delbruck finally fitted her with a pair of doggie glasses. At first I recoiled because the glasses seemed to have no lenses. But Frederique barked her approval and Dr. Delbruck assured me that they would help Frederique with her reading.

Several months passed and I thought that everything was perfect, but something was missing in our lives - warmth. As everyone knows, it's impossible to read a book when you're cold and it's common knowledge that if you have a blanket on, then you can't stick your arms out from underneath it. Then the Snuggie came into our lives. Now Frederique can finally read and be warm at the same time! And that's how the Snuggie saved our house from burning down.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Psychological Warfare

Last week, I went to one of my local gaming shops with hopes of playing in a Magic tournament to get the ball rolling in competitive play. However, when I arrived, there were only two other Magic players. A few more trickled in, but still not enough to have a legal tournament. Pretty crappy, I know. But instead of just leaving, I used that night to scout the competition and to launch long-term psychological warfare and scope out the Magic metagame.

In total, there were 5 magic players: Mr. Friendly, Dirty Boy, Joe Pro, Token Gaming Chick and myself. I'll detail each of them, their playing style and their cards. Needless to say, I played with almost all of them, many in multi-player games and my goal was to never let Joe Pro win.

Mr. Friendly - This guy was the first one that I met that night. He was overtly friendly, to an almost-creepy degree. But I honestly can't fault him for that. He was a nice guy. Anyway, he carried his decks around in a Kroger bag, each of them sleeved in crappy, clear sleeves. Mr. Friendly was very impressed with my sleeves because they had pictures on them. His decks were all very old - an Enchantress deck, an infinite life gaining/Serra Avatar deck, etc. Game 1 between the two of us went like this: he played some junk, I played some junk. He didn't do any damage to me because he was waiting to chain his enchant/draw/enchant combo. I cleared his board and attacked. He played a few more things. I cleared his board again and won the game. I extended the hand and said, "Good game!"

Dirty Boy - He walked up while Mr. Friendly and I were playing and asked to play the winner. OK, I can appreciate a bold move like that. Oh, Dirty Boy is so named because he was in dire need of a shower, he was dentally challenged and admitted that his cards smelled like "cat piss." Anyway, I'm sure I could've come up with a friendlier name, but "Dirty Boy" will suffice. He played the prototypical burn deck - lots of lightning bolts and goblins. On turn 3, I was at 7 life, he was at 18 and I had him exactly where I wanted. He was tapped out with zero cards in hand and I was just about to play a card that gained me 15 life. Game-set-match from there.

After defeating Dirty Boy, Mr. Friendly suggested a multi-player game. I switched decks and we began. A few turns in, I was doing OK, Dirty Boy had fielded a few goblins and then Mr. Friendly attempts an illegal play that gained him infinite life. I thought about it for a second. Hmmm...I will allow this. I thought about what would benefit me the most long-term - calling him on an illegal play and probably winning the game or just letting it go off, giving Mr. Friendly a break and the win. I chose the latter, that way it made me appear like I could be beaten. Now that they have that false sense of security about me, they wouldn't hesitate to bank on an illegal move in a tournament, at which point I would call them on it.

The three of us played another game, again switching decks, and I easily defeated the two of them, but again made it appear as if I didn't really know what I was doing. (Although a turn 3 12/10 trampling flyer is pretty hard to fake.)

Joe Pro - This is the guy that I learned the most from. He walked up during the second multi-player match and scouted us. Between games, he asked if any of us played Standard. At the time, I was shuffling up my Rogue deck. I said, "Yeah, I have some Standard decks. I think this one is." To which he replied, "Well Groundbreaker's not Standard." Yeah, no shit. I guess he didn't see me switch decks. Oh well. The next game was between Joe Pro, Mr. Friendly and myself. Joe Pro had a Standard Fairy deck. It has all the junk in it that you would expect from a Fairy deck that you can get off the Internet. (Yes, Pro = net decker). He dropped a Mutavault turn 1 and I thought, "OK, it's going to be that kind of match, eh?" As scripted, he dropped a Bitterblossom turn 2. He started churning out fairies and my rogues were slow to catch up. Mr. Friendly was playing an old blue control/freebie deck. I studied Joe Pro's play style. Yeah, he had the standard internet fairy deck, but he was also slow to play anything, holding onto his counterspells as if his life depended on them. I turned all my attention to him, drawing his eventual ire and allowed Mr. Friendly to come in for the win. Again, this was planned. I didn't mind losing, but I sure as heck didn't want Joe Pro to win. In fact, I didn't even want to beat him just yet - again with the false sense of security thing.

The next match was again between the three of us, with Mr. Friendly switching to his Enchantress deck and me switching to my Standard deck. I think Joe Pro knew that I was more than just a scrub. It was clear that we were both letting Mr. Friendly do whatever he wanted as the two of us battled it out. Turn 1, land drop for the both of us. Turn 2, the same. In fact, it was turn 6 before either of us made a move. He tapped 4 and played a Scion of Oona. OK, of course he left 2 open for his counterspell. That's what I was banking on because it would cost me 4 to play the creature I had in my hand since turn 1 and another 2 for me to counter his counter with the counterspell I also had since turn 1. And that's exactly how turn 6 played out. I was sitting on 26 life and had dealt some damage to Joe Pro, but before I could do anything proper, Mr. Friendly swooped in and finished off Joe Pro with his enchanted Ornithopter. I smiled a bit. Again Joe Pro was defeated and not by my hand. The next turn I did a decent amount of damage to Mr. Friendly and then he pumped up his fat, trampling Ornithopter and swung. I looked at the field and then at the Path to Exile in my hand. I smiled a bit, extended my hand and said, "Good game!" Joe Pro was still sitting there and I couldn't let him see all the cards in my deck, so Mr. Friendly gets the win.

Token Gamer Chick - Every gaming shop has one girl that likes to game. She was in her mid to late twenties, had red hair and announced that she was just getting back into Magic and was having to start from scratch because her ex-husband had took all her cards. She was nice and wasn't afraid to start a conversation. All the other guys seemed intimidated by Token Gamer Chick just because she had boobs. I ignored them and talked to her about the game. Sadly, I had to leave before I could play a game with her. In fact, I'm not sure if she even had any decks with her or if they were just random cards.

All in all, it was a good night. Before I went to the shop, I was actually a little scared just because it had been so long since I had played Magic competitively. Granted this wasn't a tournament, I still got to game with players that I didn't already know in a tournament-like atmosphere. I honestly believe that if I were to see Mr. Friendly, Dirty Boy or Token Gamer Chick in the shop later that I would talk with them and probably play a game with them. Joe Pro, however seemed like he wasn't exactly interested in making friends. But of course I would still be cordial with him and play a game with him if he wanted. After all, I know exactly what to expect from him next time. Mutavault, Bitterblossom, counters, Scion of Oona, Sower of Temptation, Doomblade, etc. His decklist won't change until the Lorwyn/Morningtide block rotates out. Even then it will probably be a few weeks before he gets in a tournament because he'll wait until someone at a higher level posts a winning deck on the Internet, at which point he will copy it card for card.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Going Pro

Many moons ago when I was a college student full of piss and vinegar, I had all kinds of time on my hands. Every weekend, my friends and I played Magic on Saturday nights and entered the tournaments on Sunday mornings. I was good too, because I was smart. I studied the cards, knew how they went together, saw things that other people overlooked - a real stickler for the more unintuitive aspects of the game. I knew that good decks always had a Plan B and that really good decks had a Plan C.

How good was I? Well, I was in the top 100 in Alabama at one time. Not a great accomplishment by any standards, but I often received invites to be in bigger tournaments. I actually went to the Regionals one year. It was fun. I often thought about the Pro Tour. I'll never forget how I felt when my friends and I watched Jon Finkel utterly destroy his opponent using his Tinker deck. This is back when the Pro Tour actually aired on ESPN. The twinkle that Finkel got in his eyes as he tapped his Metalworker and flopped down an entire hand full of artifacts really inspired me. I built my own Tinker deck shortly after that and occasionally play it still, though it has been modified many times throughout the years. It's still one of my strongest decks and every time I play it, I think about Finkel. But more importantly, I think about the Pro Tour.

After college, I moved to Georgia and practically dropped off the face of the earth. Sure Georgia has Magic, and actually plenty of tournaments. I just took a while to get established and then started playing more and more home games - where it doesn't matter if your deck is standard, extended, legal, illegal or even proxy and absolutly zero DCI points are awarded.

So where do I stand now? I'm not a kid any more. But is this game really just a kid's game? Absolutely not. I've been listening to podcasts covering the Pro Tour and these guys are around my age. I listen to the decks that they build and the plays they make. These guys are pros and I'm sitting here thinking one thing - I can beat them...or at least hang with them. Pro players stand a chance at making a lot of money, about $45,000 to the winner. Hell, the legendary Shadowmage Infiltrator himself, Jon Finkel, won a total of $291,869.00 in his career on the Pro Tour...and he's only the number 2 all-time money winner.

What makes me think I have a shot? Well, a couple of things. A few weeks ago, I was looking through my cards, just from the Alara block. I got that old feeling, seeing how some cards go together, thinking of exactly how I could exploit the rules. I put together a deck that seemed to be just right. Even as I was building it, I kept thinking about how much it reminded me of my Tinker deck because of the way it flowed, and then all the feelings of wanting to play in the Pro Tour came back. I took the deck to a home game and played it against my friends. It worked so well. It was complete. It was efficient. Every card had a purpose and they all worked perfectly together. My friends were impressed. I've played several more games with this deck, winning almost every one of them. And this is not just a Standard deck, but a Block deck and it was wiping up the floor with Extended BS decks!

Do I want to do this for the money? No, I have a good job. The prestige? That's nice, but not exactly what I'm looking for. I honestly and with all sincerity just want to do this to prove to myself that I can - prove that I'm still relevant in the world of CCGs and perhaps it is an attempt to both recapture my youth and to explore the options that I didn't back then. Exactly why didn't I go for it back then anyway? Well, I was scared and I was lazy. I was in college on a schoolastic scholarship and I didn't want to lose that. I just didn't think that I could balance competition at a higher level with all the educational and social aspects that go along with pursuing a college degree.

So what now? In all honesty, there's a very good chance that I'll just fade back into obscurity and continue to play home games, having fun with my friends. There's nothing wrong with that. I love my friends and I love just relaxing in casual play, but I wouldn't exactly be pursuing my dream. However, if my years of playing D&D has taught me anything, there's always a chance at success...and always a 5% chance at a critical success! It is my hope that I can get involved in a few local tournaments, get back on the DCI's radar, slowly working my way up the circuit and who knows - one day get that magical blue envelope, an invite to the Pro Tour.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Copyright Infringement?

OK, so does the following look framiliar?

Have a look back at this. So do I have a case?

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Daisy and the Dragon Part 2

After the wedding, my friends and I sufficiently trashed the newlyweds' car. Inspired, I wrote an addendum to the original Daisy and Dragon story.

The two were now joined, and no man can sunder.
The dragon had a new mission - vagander to plunder!

The two flew away at such a great speed,
They did not even notice a loose anal bead.

With the flower in his clutches, over Rome, Spain and China,
The dragon could not wait to sample the flower's vagina.

The dragon gazed at the daisy and knew she was ripe for the plucking.
So with green dong in hand, he turned out the light for a fucking.

To the dragon's surprise, he did not know her greatest power.
The gear shifter was used, but not on the flower!

All night long, strange noises filled the keep;
The whimpering of a dragon and the bahing of a sheep.

If anything could be said, it was a great honeymoon,
With several rubber dildos and a festival of poon.

The Daisy & the Dragon

This past Saturday, two of my friends got married. The theme of the reception was Daisies and Dragons (d&d). To celebrate the occasion, I wrote them a story:

Once upon a time, there was a dragon of might.
With honor and pride, he did whatever was right.

There was also a lady with magical powers,
Known throughout the land as the Princess of Flowers.

One day, the mighty dragon felt a pain in his heart.
The problem, you see, he was missing a part.

The princess also yearned for her prince to come along.
It seemed lyrics of love echoed in every song.

The dragon searched the realm, looking for love
Until one day, he saw a flower from above.

The princess was calm as the hairs stood on her neck.
She knew someone was coming - perception check!

When the princess saw the dragon, she knew he was the one
So she used her greatest power, and the charming had begun.

The dragon admitted, "I was not ensorceled, for I made my save.
'Tis only the beauty of your flower that my heart does crave."

The two were united for the kingdom to see
A time of great happiness - both hearts filled with glee.

So with nights filled with love and days filled with laughter,
The dragon and his daisy lived happily ever after.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

On Being a Father

I was born on Father's Day. When I was growing up, at first I didn't think much about it. Then I thought sharing that time of year with my father was neat. Later, when I actually started buying gifts, I thought about how I had to buy gifts just around the time of year I was getting them. But now that I'm older, Father's Day holds much more significance to me.

First, I think of how my father has treated me my entire life. Through bad times or good, he always loved me just because I'm his son. What more could you ask for - love without having to do anything in return, even if you screw up. Also, my father was always the provider for my entire family, always making sure we had whatever we needed. He's always been a God fearing Christian and made sure that my brother and I always went to Church when we were young. And he always held an interest in whatever we were doing.

Next, I think of how much my father has influenced me. Without his presence throughout my life, where would I be? What kind of person would I be? Often I find myself repeating some of the words and phrases that I heard him say throughout my childhood. I was always listening to him, even when he may have thought that I wasn't.

Finally, I think about the future. Here we are on the precipice of another Father's Day and another birthday for me, bringing me yet one year further into my adult life. And now I'm starting to think, "Why am I not a father? Wouldn't it be nice to have a kid of my own?" If and when I do become a father, I want to be the kind of man that my father was for me.

This past week, my 6-year-old niece has been staying with me. She's just about the sweetest thing on earth - full of energy and smiles. However, from time to time, I can barely keep up with her. It's hard for me to remember sometimes that she's just a kid when I'm begging and pleading with her to eat something. Kids are just picky. And they're afraid of the dark sometimes. And even a tiny scrape can be traumatic. As an uncle, I have the distinct pleasure of being able to visit with my niece, spoil her rotten and then just move along. But what if I were her father? Could I handle it? I love her to death, but honestly I'm just not sure.

I'm lucky to have the father that I do. If your father was present throughout your childhood, or even as an adult, then you're lucky too. Don't ever take that for granted. If you are a father, then congratulations. I just hope that you're a part of your child's everyday life.

Do I want to be a father? Yes. Am I ready to be a father? Honestly, no...no I'm not. But my theory is that no one really is. No matter how prepared you may think you are, things are just different once you actually hold your own child in your arms. There will always be the unexpected, your patience will always be tried and accidents will happen. But through it all, there is love - the love between a father and his child.