Where the F@#% Have You Been?

Where the Fuck Have You Been?

I haven’t been playing much Magic at all recently. This is not a reflection on my opinion of the post-Gush metagame. I absolutely do like the decks that I’m seeing people play, so I’m happy with the way the format is right now. Merfolk made top eight of the last two Vintage challenges for God’s sake! There was an Oath deck and a Stoneblade deck in one too! Sure, “Mentor, Outcome, and Shops” are still at the top of the heap, but there sure seems to be a lot more room at the top then there was before. That’s a wonderful thing in my opinion.
The reason I’m not around as much is that I have become incredibly busy compared to how I was before. I love my new job at Northwest Medical Center, but it takes a lot out of me at the same time. Generally m shifts are from 10:30 AM to 7:00 PM and they happen five, six, or seven days in a row. I’m usually working every weekend now too. When I’m not done work until seven at night that means I have about an hour or two with my son before I collapse for the night. The next day I’ll get an hour or two in the morning before work/school/daycare, but it seems to pass very quickly. It’s a good thing that I’m getting paid more and that I love the job because it would be tough otherwise.
Between work and parenting the time I have to spend on Vintage is pretty small (much smaller than I’d like). As my son gets older he needs me more and more. I’m constantly worried about how he’s doing in kindergarten, and now that he’s going into first grade things are even harder. I worry that I’m not teaching him enough at home, or spending enough quality time with him.
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I’m also unable to brew any decks lately because I don’t have the money to get cards. Technically I could get stuff, but right now it wouldn’t be responsible to do so. The concept of extra money is different when you have a kid; any  “extra” money that’s not for an immediate bill should be added to savings instead of buying more pixels for MTGO. You never know what surprise expenses will pop up when you have a six year old!
The few times that I have been playing I find myself getting very frustrated. That’s probably due in no small part to my decks being sub-optimal, and the rustiness of my playing these days. Still it is tough to sit there and feel miserable while playing a game that’s supposed to be fun. Luckily for me I’ve become somewhat adept at changing my outlook on such things, so with some effort and determination I can fix my attitude.
Anyway that’s where I’m at these days. People have wondered why I’ve missed publishing an article on a couple weeks, or why I’m not posting as much or playing as much. Well, here you go. Hopefully I’ll get some time to have a little Vintage fun soon, but until then I’ll be concentrating on work. Take care.
Support
In the meantime if you’d like to support more content feel free to donate to my patreon y clicking this link: https://www.patreon.com/user/community?u=4271290 .
I don’t mention this thing very often because frankly I feel incredibly awkward doing so, but it’s there if you’re interested. I never got more than two patrons, and I currently have only one. I also donate to the TMD (The Mana Drain) patreon (because it’s important) so I actually make no money on this at all. It’s worth it though, Brass Man does a lot for us with TMD and I appreciate the hell out of it!

The Land of Milk and Honey

I know it’s been a while since I posted anything, but I’ve been very busy lately. I’ve been publishing plenty of Magic content over at the Goldfish, so I figured I’d write about something other than Magic for a change. The following is a description of my experiences with a particular line of e-liquid. I’m giving my honest opinion and I have not been compensated for this blog post. 

The Land of Milk and Honey

A few weeks ago I purchased a bottle of Hustle Payday E-Liquid (produced by Humble Juice Co). I had never tried their brand, but I wanted to give it a shot. Even with the vape shop markup it was twice as much juice for about five to ten bucks less than what I was used to paying.

Image result for payday hustle e liquid

I’ve been interested in sweet juices lately, but I’ve always found that such flavors were coil killers. I’m not a scientist, but from what I have gathered through reading and personal experience some sweeteners (likely sucralose) tend to caramelize on your coil’s cotton wicking, and that leads to a bad taste and ruined coil.

Image result for gunk vape coil

Coil Gunk!

Payday Hustle didn’t do that to my coils. I vaped it for days and I was fine; only after dipping back into another old favorite did my coils finally become all gunked up. That’s something I was amazed and pleased to find.

As far as the taste goes, I will say that while it was very sweet, it wasn’t the absolute sweetest thing I had ever tasted. That’s not a bad thing though; because it isn’t overly sweet I found that it made for a fantastic all-day vape. To me the juice tastes like honey with creamy undertones, and unlike similar things I’ve tried neither of the two taste sensations are overbearing at all. I’m all out of the first 60 mils I got and I desperately miss it already!

I enjoyed Payday so much that I went back and ordered a bunch more from their website. Humble Juice Co offers BOGO (buy one, get one) deals on their stuff. I have 120 mils of Payday Milk and Honey coming in the mail and it cost me less than one 30 mil bottle I could get locally (total cost was around $20, I often have to pay $25 or more for a 30 mil bottle in my home town).

I’m someone who likes tasting different flavors, but I also like saving money. Recently I realized that perhaps I should try to be more frugal with my vaping. I’m probably going to order m juice exclusively from Humble for a while, and I’ll stick to the same Payday flavor. Eventually I’ll branch out and try some other things though, I have my eyes on a few of their flavors.

Until next time, keep on vaping in a free world! Hopefully my new mod comes in soon and I can do a write-up on that one too.

UPDATE EDIT: I received my BOGO order of Payday a couple days after this post. I’m super stoked to have a huge supply of a juice I love, and it shipped quite quickly considering it came from the opposite coast!

Image result for vape cloud

 

My favorite E-Liquids

The Truth and Nothing Less

I read a lot about vaping and I’ve seen a ton of vape videos. Each time there’s some dude bragging about how awesome something is, and much of the time they’re full of shit. I know that because I’ve seen good reviews on things that I have tried; things that turned out awful at times. I’ve also seen people rag on things that in actuality weren’t quite that bad… but whatever. The point is that in some of these cases the individual reviewer is talking nicely about something and acting like a spokesperson and not a real reviewer. I promise that I will never do that. I’m not a sell out (unless you have a legit briefcase full of cash).

My favorite Juice

I’ve been vaping on Candyland Liquids Roo Dip lately. It’s pretty fucking sweet. I mean, it’s literally and figuratively sweet. It tastes like some kind of vanilla dessert flavor and it’s pretty amazing. I highly recommend it if you’re into that sort of thing.

Image result for candyland roo dip

I have not tried the other flavors, but I wouldn’t be afraid to give them a shot. This one had a pleasant flavor that was strong enough to give me confidence in the entire line.

Before this latest bottle I had been vaping on “Belgian Brothel” by Bad Ass vape juice. It tasted fine, but I wouldn’t buy it again. It wasn’t very pronounced, just a very mild flavor and I didn’t care for it. I guess I thought it would have a stronger flavor and it didn’t. I could imagine some folks liking it, and I liked it enough to finish the bottle, but that was about it.

Worst Vape Flavor Ever…

This award goes to Unbroken “Rain” vape juice. I don’t know what the hell I was expecting from it, but it tasted like menthol-fruit-and-tears. I got this stuff from the Mistic website because it was marked down to dirt cheap, and I’m sure that’s because they all know how wretched the taste of that line is.

Image result for unbroken rain ejuice

When I get a vape juice I finish the bottle. If I liked it I’ll get it again. That’s my real seal of approval. This “Rain” by Unbroken was the worst thing I’ve ever had, and it was one of only TWO vape juice bottles I’ve ever NOT finished. As a matter of fact, I’ve still got the bottle. If you want it, just pay the postage and I’ll mail it to you. I could even pack it with an autographed piece of my Donald Trump toilet paper if you want, it’s like a certificate of authenticity (authentically wretched).

Being a Quitter

I have been hesitant to mention this fact online due to the stigma attached, but for years I was a cigarette smoker. It was never something I was proud of, and my various attempts to quit did not pan out. I’ve never wanted to be associated with smoking so I just kept those details private.

A few months ago I finally decided to try quitting smoking by switching to personal vaporizing devices (electronic cigarettes). I had some experience with gas station “cig-a-likes” (the products that are made by big tobacco and bear a striking resemblance to a real cigarette), but those things never quite did the trick.

I noticed that all the people I knew who had quit smoking with vaporizers had done so with “box mods” and other similar products, so I gave it a shot. I made up my mind that I was going to quit and I’d use these eCig mods every time I had the urge to smoke. After nearly two decades of poisoning myself via tobacco combustion I finally had something that worked!

Image result for smok vape pen 22

My first vaping device, Smok Vape Pen 22 (Highly recommended)

It’s now been around three months and I feel much better. Without smoking I have begun to get healthier (as evidenced by a recent physician visit) and I’m happier too. The bad smells from tobacco are gone from my life, and the smell of cigarette smoke now makes me feel physically ill. I’ve even drastically lowered the amount of nicotine I’m putting in my body! It turns out that lower nicotine e-liquid tastes better, so I have gone down to between 3-6 MG nicotine per ml on average.

Image result for haus sub ohm mod kit

I wouldn’t ever recommend that someone start smoking, and I wouldn’t harp on anyone who smokes and hasn’t tried to quit, but I would suggest vaping to anyone who wants to get away from analog tobacco cigarettes. My only regret in this matter is that I didn’t try sooner.

Recalling my Type 1 Aspirations…

 

Ancestral Goldfish

Usually I don’t think or care much about such things, but today it occurred to me that Ancestral Recall is my favorite card of all time. When I was a kid I had a much larger collection than I do today and it was quite substantial considering my limited means at the time. I never owned the entire Power Nine, I just had two pieces that I had traded for. I never had the opportunity to own an Ancestral then, and even though I have more money as an adult it is still out of reach.

Ancestral Recall

The thing that caused me to think about the prospect of owning (or having to proxy) an Ancestral Recall was that the “Ancestral Fish” play mat from MTGGoldfish was created and released for public consumption.

Ancestral Fish Playmat

I was the first person to get this play mat. For Christmas I got a gift package from the website that contained this play mat along with a bunch of awesome MTGGoldfish swag. It was by far the best gift I got for Christmas and I loved it. It was actually quite touching as it made me realize how perfect the image was for me.

Ancestral Recall was always the card I coveted most, and I was never able to get one. The Time Walk and Library of Alexandria I owned were the favorites out of what I actually had obtained, but I was always sad I was never able to find anyone to trade me a Recall. The Type 1 cards that I did own were sold along with the rest of my collection when I quit playing Magic during the Mercadian Masques era.

Rekindling the Dream

When I started playing Magic again in 2013 one of the things I that excited me was the prospect of Vintage Masters. I had started with paper Magic and a bad Standard deck, but I was gravitating towards MTGO due to having a busy family life. When I saw announcements that said the Vintage format and its associated card pool would soon be added to Magic Online I was ecstatic. “Finally!”, I thought… I would finally be able to participate in a format that I’d been interested in since I was a young high school kid. .

My excitement about playing Vintage on Magic Online was soon crushed by the spoiler articles for Vintage Masters. It was announced that the Power Nine would be placed in packs at a rarity above Mythic Rare. The Magic Online finance community guessed at an opening price for power in the hundreds of dollars. Black Lotus was thought to be approximately a 300 dollar card, give or take a little bit. I know that $300 isn’t a lot to some people, and it’s surely a ton less than the price of a paper Lotus, but for me at that time the cost was just too much. I knew I wouldn’t have the time or money to grind enough drafts or constructed events to pay for a set of Power either, so I simply decided that I’d stop thinking about trying to play Vintage.

Eventually I started writing articles for a website that paid me in store credit for Magic Online cards. I became a regular contributor and built up my portfolio of published works. I began playing only non-rotating formats and drafts, and I had a decent win rate. Between writing credits and winnings, I slowly amassed a sizable collection of Magic Online decks.

When I smelled a Birthing Pod ban coming in Modern I decided to sell out of that format (right before my Pod deck became worthless!) and move into Legacy only. I loved Legacy for the power level and nostalgic experience the card pool offered. Still, as much as I loved Legacy I also remained interested in Vintage.

I used to listen to a ton of podcasts. I often burned through a lot of shows quickly and I’d go searching for something new to listen to. During this discovery process I came upon the “So Many Insane Plays” podcast and I absolutely loved it. I didn’t know a lot about Vintage at the time, but I was amazed at how the hosts spoke about the format. It was as if they were discussing Chess or some other strategic game. The depth of strategy in Vintage was what I was looking for, and I made up my mind that I’d try to break into the format.

Luckily for me (and unluckily for those already playing the format) Vintage was in a major lull on MTGO at the time I was deciding to get involved in the format. The Power Nine was at a then all-time low and the most expensive piece of Power (Black Lotus) was only about $120 (down from the approximately $300 price tag it had initially). Once I noticed how cheap the Power was I picked a janky five color Storm deck to build and I traded away the core of an unwanted Legacy deck to get the cards I wanted. I only had to put in around $20 of my own money to get my first Vintage deck online.

I was excited to be playing Vintage for the first time, but I was honestly pretty terrible at it too. I considered myself a pretty good player in other formats but there was so much more to learn in order to be a good Vintage player. Still, I pushed forward, and I never really went back to any other formats.

All throughout this time I had been a regular contributor for PureMTGO.com. As I got into Vintage I continued to do what I always had done; I wrote about what I played. I started posting my articles on TMD so that I could find more readers (there weren’t a ton of Vintage players on PureMTGO that I was aware of). After a few weeks of posting articles I realized that nobody else on the internet was posting weekly Vintage content. I loved Vintage and I wanted more people to learn how awesome it was, so I made it my mission to keep writing. To this day I have never stopped, and it has been over two years that I have posted an article about Vintage each and every single week.

Now I have a regular column on my favorite format and I’m very happy about it. Every so often I get a message from someone who tells me they started playing Vintage on MTGO after reading my articles and it makes my day. I know that Vintage is a tough format to get involved in from a financial perspective, so I’m glad that I’m able to at least help people with good info on how to get going.

Image result for black lotus proxy

The funny thing is that even after all this has transpired I still have never owned an Ancestral Recall (or Black Lotus, or Mox Sapphire, and so on…). I used to feel like that made me less of a “real Vintage player” than someone who does own all those cards. Nowadays I no longer worry about all that though, because now that I’ve been around a while I’ve noticed people who have amazing collections and not-so-amazing decks. The game is more about how you play the cards and less about what you own, and that’s the way it should be.

Thanks for reading. If you’d like to see more content like this you can contribute here to my Patreon. I’d also like to say thanks to my Patrons, and to all the people who have donated time, cards, or sound advice to my cause.

Finding a New Deck…

Lately I’ve been trying to find a deck to play in a non-Vintage format and I haven’t had much luck. Vintage doesn’t get leagues on MTGO and I’m rarely able to manage to play a Daily Event so I’m stuck with the Tournament Practice room or the 2-Player queues.

The on-demand, paid 2-Player events might seem like a good way to get some competition in, but frankly I have no desire to pay to play something that pays out only more play points in prizes. The problem is that I manage to keep enough points in my account for a few larger events, so if I happened to lose a couple rounds of paid play I suddenly can’t enter as many large events. I don’t have the time to try to win those points back, so I’d end up having to pay more out of pocket for my next tournament. Frankly I am to cheap to want to do that. If there was something I wanted to win offered as prizes for these things I’d play for sure.

The Tournament Practice room is fine a lot of the time because I know a lot of good players I can be paired with. Unfortunately we’re not always online at the same time so I might end up paired against someone’s EDH deck or worse. It’s fairly rare for this to happen, but it is still an annoyance that ranges from mild to severe.

With that in mind I decided that I’d make a deck for either Legacy or Pauper so I could play a league. Legacy is the closest to Vintage, but making a deck for it required a few hundred dollars that I didn’t want (or couldn’t afford) to spend. With that in mind I payed a few dollars for a couple Pauper decks and tested them out against the randoms in TP.

Pauper is great. I like that its cheap and easy to access. I like that it has some neat decks and it gives life to cards that would otherwise toil in obscurity. The problem I have with the format is that I always end up finding the games very frustrating.

Pauper is full of some powerful cards like Gush and Brainstorm, but it is also filled with chaff like Evolving Wilds and Tap-lands. This means that games are often much slower than in other formats, and many times a cool strategy ends up failing because the mana is so wonky.

For example, just this morning I tried playing the U/R Delver/Kiln Field deck. I had a hand with Delver and Fiend, so it looked good. Unfortunately the slow lands I drew made it so I couldn’t play my hand out very fast and I lost to discard and removal while waiting to cast my spells.

The slowness of the format isn’t “bad”; it’s just part of the way things work. Unfortunately for me I’ve been spoiled by Vintage for so long that I find slow and suboptimal cards extremely frustrating. In Vintage I feel like I can will things to happen by using cantrips and tutors effectively. In Vintage I can Gush and Cruise my way back into a game from a bad board position. The fact that I’m able to do so many more things in Vintage to try to avoid losing a game is what makes me love the format the most. Pauper and other slower formats sometimes feel like a slow-motion train wreck to me now; I know I’m going to get crushed, but it’s taking forever to happen! Perhaps I should keep looking for a new Pauper deck until I find one I just love, but the busy life of a husband and father makes for limited leisure time.

As I mentioned before, Legacy is the closest thing to Vintage that is available to me as far as leagues are concerned. I’ll probably end up making a U/B Reanimator deck again soon. I have played Reanimator before, I know I like it, and I’m working on making it in paper as well so it makes sense.

Until next time, thanks for reading! I’ll be back with something new as soon as I find the time. Thanks to all who have given me their support over the past few years, it’s been amazing.

If you’d like to support more content, click here.

Stranded on the periphery of greatness… Making acquaintances and slipping through the cracks…

Staring at a blank page I disappear into my wide-eyed gaze.

A steady diet of cerebral junk food dulls the senses. For all of the bountiful promises of technology, the schism between individuals only grows more pronounced. We are analog creatures stuffing our souls into digital boxes, all the while increasing the severity of our myopia.

Welcome to the future.

[  i don’t usually write anything that’s not nerd-related, but sometimes I feel like I want to branch out. If this isn’t your cup of tea, don’t worry, there will be more Magic/Vintage/MTGO stuff soon. You can help support more of my personal content here: https://www.patreon.com/user?u=4271290  — My patreon page is not very popular though. I plan on leaving all the donations in there to be used for my next paper Vintage event, hopefully Vintage Champs 2017. Thanks ]  

Fortress of Solitude

America’s Moat Wanted

I’ve been trying to update this blog as often as I have time for. It’s actually a lot of fun and I wish I could do it more. Anyway, here’s an Oath list I’ve been working on. This is an update of a deck I wrote about in June.

The idea here is to be a control deck first and an Oath deck second. We’ve got Moat in the list to make life miserable for much of the format, and we’ve got a second Moat that we can Oath into play called “Blazing (Saddles) Archon”.

My original list didn’t run Supreme Verdict and I was using Sensei’s Divining Top instead of Sylvan Library. I think Verdict is a good option to have in order to deal with Mentor and Pyromancer decks, and it’s another way to protect big daddy Mind Sculptor.

moat-oath

I played a version of this deck in the past and it performed pretty well. The Moat plan worked pretty well, but I ended up having some trouble against Gush decks that I hadn’t anticipated.

The problem I found was that the deck was slow to close out a game. The glacially slow progression tended to give my opponent time to exploit a weakness in my defenses.Blazing Archon and Dragonlord Dromoka are great, but five damage is sort of a slow clock in the Vintage world. I’m not convinced that this is a deal breaker though, the deck still has a lot of positive matchups.

Sylvan Library

I’m hoping that between Griselbrand and Dragonlord Dromoka’s lifelink I’ll be able to draw extra cards with Sylvan without having to worry about paying so much life. Sylvan is insane with Jace and Library of Alexandria, and hopefully it’s enough to keep up with the draw engines that the rest of the format has.

Sylvan Library

Initially I wanted Divining Top instead because I could use it to “hide” cards from Duress or Cabal Therapy by floating them on the top of my deck. In practice this doesn’t come up all that much, and I have found Divining Top to be much easier for my opponent to counter or disrupt.

The somewhat limited test games have shown that Sylvan is absolutely amazing in control mirrors. Against decks that can pressure your life total quickly, it’s not nearly as good. Still I feel comfortable running one at this point.

Cantrips

I made sure to max out on  cantrips to make up for the loss of Demonic and Vampiric Tutor. Four Preordains and the single Ponder/Brainstorm worked pretty well. Lately I have decided to try playing Gitaxian Probe in addition to the other blue cantrips. I had to cut a Preordain and go down to three Mental Missteps to make it work.

FARTRESS2.png

Potential Candidates for Creatures

I’ve been wondering if playing Blazing Archon in the main deck is needed or not and recently I have been trying a list that’s essentially the same as the one I posted above but with Consecrated Sphinx in the main deck instead of Archon (moving Archon to the sideboard).

Consecrated Sphinx

I haven’t tested Consecrated Sphinx enough to be sure if I like it or not, but there are a few things about it that I like. Sphinx is easy to cast for this deck, just like Dromoka. I love the idea of having two castable creatures that function well in control matchups. My theory is that I should be able to simply ignore cards like Grafdigger’s Cage and Containment Priest if I have to by landing a Dromoka or Sphinx and controlling the board with Moat or Supreme Verdict.

I’m not particularly excited about the four power on Consecrated Sphinx though. I’ve had more than a few games where I stayed ahead on cards and controlled the board, but couldn’t win fast enough for my tastes. Blazing Archon is a four-turn clock, and Sphinx takes five turns to deal lethal damage.

Sideboard

SideboardFARTESS.png

I’m reasonably content with this sideboard, but I’ll be making changes if I decide I need them.

There aren’t that many dedicated anti-Dredge cards, but there’s a reason for that. I’ve already got Moat, Blazing Archon, and Supreme Verdict in the main deck. If I bring in Pithing Needles, Balance, Strip Mine, Tormod’s Crypt, and Rest in Peace I think that’s more than enough to buy me some time to win.

Against Shops I have Nature’s Claim and Swords to Plowshares, plus Steel Sabotage. I can also bring in Strip Mine to go up to sixteen lands. Pithing Needle is also an option depending on what kind of Workshop deck they’re playing.

I feel that the worst problem is that the slow speed of the deck could make the combo matchups a lot less favorable. Arcane Laboratory is one potential solution, but I’m going to keep brainstorming ideas. It might just be that combo decks are a weakness I’ll have to accept.

Member Berry Pie

I really enjoy playing this deck, and I hope if proves to be good and not just fun. I have a special fondness for Moat and Mana Drain, so perhaps my nostalgia is clouding my judgment! I plan on updating this post or writing a follow up as I gather more information about the decks performance, so stay tuned!

If you’d like to support more content and help me get to Vintage Champs in 2017, click here. Special Thanks to all of you who have become Patrons, helped me build decks, or just been cool and supportive people. I appreciate it more than you know.