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.

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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 ]