Mythic Invitational

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My wife spent the weekend sick and I think has passed whatever she had onto me.  So the end result was last night both of us came home from work completely dead and ready to go to sleep.  We managed to last until around 8 pm before hitting the sack, and then slept the entire night through without interruptions.  This is not exactly normal for us and as a result I feel a little weird after getting all of that sleep.  As far as gaming went I managed to complete the daily key challenge in Anthem before logging out…  thankful that you can bank keys for a later time.  Shortly after that I attempted to play some more Breath of the Wild and managed to get the outfit needed to sneak into Gerudo Town…  but could not stay conscious long enough to actually do that thing.  It was around this time that my wife showed visible signs of succumbing to sleep…  when in truth I had been quietly nodding off the entire time we were sitting in the living room.  Basically I had a very unproductive night gaming wise, but I hope the sleep helps because she sounds miserable…  and I am starting to feel that way.

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This weekend I got wrapped up in the Magic the Gathering Mythical Invitational happening at Pax East, which is weird considering I generally bounce off of all e-sports streams.  However I watched most of the finals on Sunday strangely compelled and finding myself actually rooting for one of the players.  What was interesting about this specific format is that it all happened inside of MTG Arena, meaning there was no need for a judge and limited stalling tactics…  the end result being very rapid matches given that most of the mechanical stuff was being taken care of by the game.  What was also interesting about the roster specifically is it was a mix of Magic Pro League players, 8 Qualifiers that came up from the ladder play on Arena, and a mixture of notable streamer types.  So this could have played out a bunch of ways, but if you were a gambler you probably would have bet on one of the battle hardened MPL players to take hope the trophy.  However what happened in truth was something slightly more interesting.  The final ranking looked a little bit like this…

  • Andrea Mengucci – MPL member
  • Piotr Głogowski – MPL member
  • Janne “Savjz” Mikkonen – Challenger – Mostly known as a Hearthstone Streamer
  • Ondřej Stráský – Challenger – Top 8 MTG Arena Qualifier

So yes at the end of the day Magic Pro League players took the first two slots…  however they absolutely gave them a run for their money.  Savjz especially played some matches that could have gone either way and like so many Magic matches it wound up coming down to card draw and top decking.  I think this even more than probably anything was a chance for WotC to show that Arena players could in fact compete in the MPL and I wonder if at some point in the future we will see all MPL matches played out using the Arena client.  The difference in speed was noticeable as well as the match being way easier to follow for the viewers at home.  When watching a normal Magic match, things are happening so fast that you are largely entirely reliant upon the announcers to tell you what is actually happening.  Here you can see both sides and the what the players have in their hands as well…  and as a result it leads to way more tension as you know what the other player has as an answer to the play that the active player is about to make.

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The other cool thing about the tourney is it gave them an opportunity to show off the cosmetic changes to the client including the introduction of special full art skins that you can get for various cards.  The game also launched without card sleeve art that is so popular in games like Hearthstone.  Throughout the game play they announced redeemable codes over Twitch that allows the players watching at home to pick up some of the things.  Here is what I believe is a full list of the codes that are redeemable.

  • StarterStyles – The Pack Shown in Screenshot
  • SparkleDruid – Druid of the Cowl
  • SuperScry – Opt
  • ParallaxPotion – Revitalize
  • FoilFungus – Deathbloom Thalid
  • ShinyGoblinPirate – Fanatical Firebrand

Additionally they are starting to add the cosmetic rewards to various events.  Now the interesting thing about a cosmetic is that if you don’t already have the card… you seem to also get the card when you collect its appearance.  During one of the various redeems I did not actually have a copy of whatever card it was granting me and the game made a note that I was getting one of that specific card.  I fully expect that there to be more cosmetics surrounding the release of the War of the Spark.  That is probably a whole other topic however and I am running out of time this morning so going to wrap this post up.  I really think Wizards of the Coast finally understands what it takes to make a viable product for the internet age, and I look forward to seeing what happens surrounding the Arena client and future tournaments.  This was probably quite literally the first time I cared about anything e-sports related, so good on them.

Charm Maintenance

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Last night I had to do some World of Warcraft maintenance, in that I had allowed my Emissary quest to stack up for three days and was about to start losing them.  I fairly joylessly burned through those, then decided to take a chance at a 370 piece of loot from the Warfront that is now open to Horde players.  I still find those pretty fun but ultimately wound up with disappointment in that I got a 370 item in a slot I already had one.  You would think they could factor in the gear that the player has when they give those extremely limited time rewards like that…  because since it is ultimately a shot at loot every three weeks…  please give us something we can use.

From there I popped into Monster Hunter World where I largely did some maintenance there as well.  I spent most of the night farming up zenny so that I could buy the Power Charm, which is an item that takes up a bag slot but gives you a pretty potent damage boost.  I had already purchased the Armor Charm which does the same thing, but for your defense stat.  These apparently open up once you have fought the Zorah Magdaros final form and cost 24,000 zenny for the Armor Charm and 36,000 zenny for the Power Charm.  Later through the magic of crafting you will be able to turn these into Talons…  and then re-buy the Charms again…  but for now I should be set for the early High Rank content.  I’m up to the Tickled Pink quest which is to hunt a High Rank Anjanath, which I simply was not ready to deal with mentally last night and wound up wandering off to do other things.

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Instead I popped over to burn through some quests in MTG Arena, where I seemed to have a ton that wanted me to cast White spells.  I had picked up the Eternal Thirst deck as one of my freebies, and I decided to start playing around with it.  I have to say… for a weird Cats and Vampires concept I am really digging it.  Unless you are also playing against a deck with stupid life gain powers…  you can do some come from behind nonsense with this one.  I feel like I need to tune it a bit and swap some cards, and could ultimately make a super powerful deck out of it.  For the purpose of questing though… it had plenty of white cards so it allowed me to whittle that down in a few turns.  This morning I noticed I had another freebie deck available and unlocked the Blue/Green Merfolk deck…  which included a single copy of one of my favorite cards…  Jadelight Ranger.  I am hoping that one of the decks they end up throwing my way is the Explore matters deck that we originally had in Alpha.  Mostly I don’t want to spend the proxies on rebuilding it if they are going to give me like 90% of the cards in a few weeks as we keep rotating through unlocking free decks.

Luck and Mini Bosses

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At this point we are up to 41 blogs signed up for Blaugust in one form or another, with a significant number of folks hanging out in the Discord just for the sake of fun that we may be able to sway one way or another.  I am super happy with this early participation, and in side conversations there are a bunch of folks on the fence trying to determine just how much they can afford to participate themselves this year.  In that always be plugging style of conversation…  if you are at all interested in starting up a blog now is the time to do it.  Pop on by the sign up form and let us know your information and we will do our best to support you through that early blogging experience.  This is of course also an open offer as well to folks who are currently blogging and just want to up their frequency of posting…  or really want to help mentor the next crew of bloggers.

Since I last posted updates there have been a few new entries and you can see the entire list in an easy to use google sheet that I have been maintaining.

New Mentors

New Participants

The official pre-week starts on July 25th so there is still plenty of time to get a blog up and running before the official August 1st start.

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There are times where I have the sort of luck that pisses my friends off.  For example I have pulled a couple of those ultra rare chase cards from Battle for Zenndikar and Kaladesh, just buying random single packs here and there.  Magic the Gathering just released its return to core sets with M19 and there are a bunch of interesting cards in it… namely a much needed reprint of Crucible of Worlds and brand new version of the classic legends era dragons.  Ultimately I would like to have a copy of each for eventual EDH brewing purposes, and as a result I picked up a fat pack on Friday in my post funeral travels.  Now a fat pack has 10 packs and seems to be for lack of a better term a partial piece of what would have normally been a full box.

They tend to be feast or famine, either you get the good end of the rare/mythic sheet or you don’t.  In this case I managed to pull 4 mythics out of those ten packs.  I took the above photo to show off everything that came out of that box, with the last two on the left side being just a couple of cool looking common foils.  I found it weird that I got a duplicate rare out of the batch so maybe they are doing the fat packs different than they have done before.  I was extremely excited that I managed to pull a Crucible of Worlds and at least two of the three color dragons.  Unfortunately I did not pull the big daddy of them all…  Nicol Bolas, the Ravager.  I still consider this an insanely lucky box, and walked away mighty happy with it.

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As far as the rest of the weekend… it was largely spent hanging out and playing some Elder Scrolls Online.  I have now officially finished the Orsinium content and wow… I am exceedingly impressed with the quality.  If that is at all representative of what I have to expect from the follow up releases, then I am going to be a very happy boy.  I’ve since started on the Thieves Guild which is the next content release in order…  having largely skipped Imperial City due to its PvEvP nature.  I did however spent a chunk of last night running around and collecting Skyshards out in Cyrodil..  I am sure frustrating someone who was there to try and take keeps and mile forts.  The only actual PVP I got into was being found by a roaming murderball of Ebonheart Pact players…  at which point my screen froze and I crashed out of the game only to come back very dead.

The most fun however was prior to that when I was roaming around in Coldharbor with Ashgar and Tamrielo doing the public dungeon there.  It all started simple enough…  the three of us on Voice Chat when Ash mentioned mostly to himself that he was going to ignore the Public Dungeon for now until he could come back with a group.  I said that I had not done the public dungeon there for the same reason and Tam chimed in that he had largely been avoiding any group content.  Before long the three of us were converging upon Ash’s location and doing the public dungeon which had two quests inside of it.  Additionally we realized that there were a bunch of optional bosses in various corners of the place and we set forth to take each and every one down earning us a conqueror achievement.

I kinda love that this game does not care at all about where a player is in the progression, and that you can pretty much just group in for whatever happens to be going on.  I abused this power to help Void get some crafting materials by porting myself to Windhelm and then letting him piggy back in on that to get the shrine there.  I love that this game has decided that horizontal progression is the way to go because it has allowed me to invest resources in a really nice set of gear knowing I won’t be upgrading it anytime soon.  I love that I can just do whatever happens to cross my path and still feel like I am moving towards a goal in the form of Champion points…  knowing that I am also adding progression to every single character as I go.  I am very happy with the current state of Elder Scrolls Online.

Bizarre Obsession

This weekend we recorded somewhat of a mega show of AggroChat.  We originally sat down thinking we might not have a complete show…  and then recorded for two hours and wound up dropping a few topics to try and manage the show length.  There were a whole slew of topics but one of which is one that I did not expect to blow up to the level at which it did.  Kodra has been talking magic for a year or so in his adventures in doing drafts through Magic Online for each of the expansion releases that have happened.  Lately however I have found myself obsessing about the game even though I have not regularly played it since the tempest cycle.  Magic the Gathering will always have this nostalgic characteristic for me because I have had a lot of really good times playing it.  The problem is…  once I entered the adult world I stopped having a regular stream people to play with.  I’ve never really gotten involved with a local shop doing the Friday night magic thing, because in truth people just don’t play Magic the Gathering the way I want to play it.  The prevalence of NetDecking and combo magic turned things into a weird cold war…  where you either needed to be playing whatever the new hotness needed to be…  or at least come up with a way to counteract that new hotness.  When I last stopped playing… the format of choice was called “Type II” and I believe this translates to the “Standard” in the current naming of formats.  So when I left during the Tempest cycle it was all about the combo to beat… and either scrambling to get the cards…  or scrambling to get something to beat it.

The style of Magic the Gathering I enjoyed was back when you never quite knew what you might be encountering in a players deck.  Maybe it just took my area while to get super competitive, but in early tournament play I only ever once encountered the “power nine” but instead came up against a lot of seemingly fun to play themed decks.  For me a lot of my decks centered around some card that I wanted to play with… and then blunting the negative effects of that card.  So say I wanted to play with the Lord of the Pitt, I would run some token creatures that I could just keep churning out to feed to it rather than pay the 7 life upkeep.  If I wanted to play with Leviathan I would run Icy Manipulator and Twiddle to keep from having to pay the two island tax to untap it each round, then figure out some way to retrieve islands from the graveyard every so often.  It was fun trying to figure out a way to counteract what was not good about the cards and then figure out how to make them work well enough to be playable.  Some of the most fun I ever had was in college the magic store I used to hang out in had a deep common bin… and we would end up building these $5 decks out of the archives and then pit them against each other.  I guess the modern equivalent to this would be pauper, but even then…  that format takes itself way more seriously than I wish I could when it comes to MTG.  I’ve been trying to sort out a way to play the game how I want to play it…  but also find some people to play with.

The biggest problem right now is availability of people.  There are enough folks who have played MTG at one point in their lives to maybe create a lunch time group at work.  The problem there I am not not sure what sort of format would work best.  I am leaning towards something janky along the lines of Pauper Commander…  without the commanders.  Where you functionally construct a deck of common cards without the ability to repeat any cards.  I would functionally need to probably fund a lot of the commons given that there are simply not enough in any one set to make up a deck of entirely common cards.  I think a format like that however might bring back the random weirdness that I miss from playing Magic.  There were moments where you would sit down and encounter something you never expected to see…  and it would be interesting to figure out how to adjust to that and find a way to either defeat it or work around it.  In truth I love common cards,  because they tend to be the unappreciated workhorses of magic.  It always bugs me a bit when people just dismiss them and toss them aside like garbage…  when you cannot really make ANY deck without relying on a whole slew of them to serve as the glue between those higher dollar cards.  I have no clue how this will end but thusfar it has simply been a case of be re-familiarizing myself with Magic the Gathering and trying to figure out if this is really something I want to jump back into.