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Prophecy Prerelease: Thoughts and Comments
By Anden Imamura

Hi, everyone! Seeker of Truth here, giving my Prophecy report, and for those of you who have already seen the unbelievable cards I got in my deck, I'll spare you the additional gloating jubilation and get right down to it.

So, anyway, I get to the tournament site at about 8:45, and about ten minutes after I get there, people start picking up their things and I'm thinking, all right, we're actually going to start on time for a change.

Nope.

Two hours (!) later, people are still filing into the waiting area, and additional sign-ups are going on for some kind of team side-event that lets three people form a "team" that competes for additional prizes based on how well the three "team" members do in the tournament. I wander around, trying to match the names of the top local players to faces. Many of the top players in my area were there, and they all hang out with each other in sort of a "jet set" of Magic.

Anyway, around 12:00 (!) the whole group is herded into the playing area, a large conference room that I'm not sure has been used for anything but playing Magic tournaments. There's probably over a hundred people at this tournament, and I can tell that the judges will have their hands full already. They start yelling over the crowd noise as if we were a bunch of unruly students gathering for an assembly. One judge in particular was very hostile to the group, an attitude which would remain for the rest of the day. I don't know what judges are like where the rest of you play, but where I play, I find that it's far better to just shut up and try to be as inconspicuous as possible, as the judging tends to be a little on the adversarial side.

So we get our packs and register them (I've already posted my cards in the forums, so please check them out there), and during the registration process I'm praying that we don't swap, because I've got killer rares up the wazoo, so to speak. I suppose at this time, I should thank the gods of Magic for making this tournament run late, as the judges decided to skip the swapping process, which almost made me jump up and scream with elation.

Anyway, we're told to start building our decks, and I'm in a dilemma (as I always am) over what cards to play and how much over 40 I should risk. I'm not really good at figuring mana curves and distribution, so I came to the highly sophisticated solution of playing 27 spells and 18 lands for a 60%/40% split in 45 cards. As much as it pained me to leave out red and green from my deck (especially red, leaving my Avatar of Fury on the bench), I figured I'd have the best chance to play my expensive double-colored-mana spells by sticking to as few colors as possible in a sealed deck, and went with white and black. At this tournament we were allowed to swap up to five basic lands for five other basic lands, and I (probably mistakenly) turned in five islands for five plains. This basically shut me out from possibly switching blue in as a color later, but to be quite honest, I wasn't even thinking of playing any other color at this point.

I would like to mention at this point that not everyone there was a long-time Magic player. The guy sitting to my right was a newbie, and he (unfortunately) was not too skilled with deck construction, as he ended up playing a four-color, 60-card deck. I silently pitied this guy, who would eventually be paired up in the first round against one of the best players in the state, a guy who would also end up going 7-0 in the tournament.

It's about 1:00 (!!) now, and we're just starting round 1. The judges said earlier that there would be a lunch break around 2:00, but now that's looking unlikely, as it seems kind of silly to break for lunch after only one round. The way the tournament's structured, prizes are awarded for finishing with at least five wins and no more than one loss, essentially making this tournament double-elimination. For the first time, the judges were automatically eliminating people who picked up two losses, so the pressure was on from the start. I, for one, never try to play for prizes, since there's usually a ton of top local players in these tournaments who end up at the top together.

In any case, round 1 starts, and I'm paired up against Phillip, a guy who seemed to be a relative newcomer to the game, since he was pretty humble, as he kept saying, "Go easy on me, OK?" before we started. Nevertheless, he busts out a bunch of huge green and red creatures early, including a Thresher Beast and Fault Riders, and I get nothing I can cast early on in game 1, so I'm run over.

In game 2, we play to a huge creature standoff, as nearly 20 creatures hit the table. The turn after I play my ninth land, I hold my hand over my library and close my eyes, saying, "OK, I'm using my Zen power now..." and, lo and behold, I draw the card that turns creature standoffs into almost instant wins: Plague Wind! I play the Plague Wind, and it's like time stops. I could have sworn that some of the other people around me stopped playing when the wind hit, and two turns later, he lost.

In game three, he gets nothing out quickly, and I come at him with a handful of Rebels, including Nightwind Glider and Reveille Squad, clinching victory in convincing fashion. I would also like to point out that time was running down in game three due to our long game two, and for a moment it looked like Phillip was trying to stall to force a draw, and I muttered out loud, "I hope you're not trying to stall...", loud enough for him to hear. He then apologized and finished his turn, so I don't think he was deliberately stalling, but you never know, do you? Record: 1-0

Round 2 was against a guy named James, and although he seemed to be a more serious player than Phillip in round 1, it seemed like James didn't have too many strong cards, and I outraced him in game 1 and drew enough creatures to win game 2, even though he had a Troubled Healer in play (a thoroughly annoying card, as three of my opponents would use it to stall against me). Record: 2-0

Lunch is called after this round, but I spend the time talking to a friend of mine (who's a lot more serious about this game than I am, by the way), discussing what cards seem to be good. After the standings are posted, I find out that I'm currently in 10th place, and I feel really good about that. Of course, this is about the time when I lose, as I start to play against serious players.

Round 3 is against a guy named Tyler, a person whose name I recognize as one of the "good" players, so I'm instantly intimidated. In game 1, he busts out a Bribery relatively early on, and searches through my library for something good to play. I'm sitting across from him, naming all the cards he'd probably like to use against me, all the time laughing inside because I had been dealt my most powerful creature, Jhovall Queen, in my opening hand! I win that game, and proceed to win the next when I drop Plague Wind in the middle of another massive creature standoff and he concedes. I feel even better later as I find out that I was this guy's only loss (he would finish 5-1-1). Record: 3-0

At this point, I'm flying high because I've never gone 3-0 before in a tournament. The standings put me at #3, and I start thinking about possible prizes.

Big mistake.

In round 4, I come back down to earth against a guy named Byron, a name I hadn't heard of but apparently should have, as he was incredibly good. I proceed to get trashed in two straight games by a slew of strong red creatures and a bit of blue backup, and all the time Byron was sitting back, doing all the things the "pros" do, like shuffling the cards in his hand and periodically asking if I was done. He would later go 7-0, so that was a minor consolation. Record: 3-1

It's about 7:00 at this point, and I'm beginning to worry about being able to stick around for a possible prize match (I, for some suicidal reason, have to work on Saturday at 10:00 pm!), but I figure I can squeeze it in if we play fast, and I could always make an excuse for arriving a few minutes late.

Round 5 matches me up with a good friend of mine, a guy named Ed, who I've known since sophomore year in high school. The guy is good at Magic, but doesn't play at all, except in prereleases and a couple of other tournaments. He wipes me out in game 1, relying on black and white creatures to dish out the beatings while I get my Reveille Squad's Soul Severed (I commented later on how many times that happened), leaving me with no defense. I drop the Plague Wind bomb in game 2, and in game 3, I do it again, although this time I have to hold on and win with my life total in single digits. Ed was a little disappointed, as his "team" was doing well in that side event, but he's such a good-natured guy that it was probably the most enjoyable match I played in the whole tournament. Record: 4-1

During the break I talk with another guy who's also at 4-1, and we say to each other that, having come this far, we would probably draw in the final round in order to guarantee both of us prizes if we both got there.

So guess what? Round 6 pitted me against this very same guy. His name was Buddy, and although he seemed to be a nice guy, as the saying goes, "business around the table is deadly serious" (whose sig is that, anyway?). He played very strict, refusing to let me take back a move during one of the games. In game 1, however, I managed to win once again with Plague Wind, although I also played my Blessed Wind for the only time in the whole tournament to fend off Buddy's Barbed Field. Game 2 was all Buddy, though, as he kept having one too many untapped lands for me to Excise his attacking creatures. Finally, in game 3, Buddy won the battle of dueling Haunted Crossroads as he kept recycling a Fen Stalker that I couldn't handle, and a pair of Stormwatcher Eagles and a Spiketail Hatchling did me in. Record: 4-2

At this point, I'm out of the tournament, but I stick around a little bit anyway, since it's time for the final round, and I was hoping to see Buddy win something. However, what I did get to see was what I like to call the politics of prize distribution, something I had heard about but never actually witnessed until that night. I watched, disbelieving, as Buddy had to basically haggle with his opponent in order to get some prizes. Buddy wanted an ID (intentional draw), but his opponent didn't want to give it to him as he said it would cost his team points in the side event. The two of them went over all the possibilities, from Buddy gaining a walkover win to the other guy walking over. By the way, all this was done in plain view of the judges, who were actually standing right next to the two of them and making comments like "whoa, talk about collusion!" Of course, they didn't do anything about it, since it apparently happens so often, but eventually the agreement was laid down that Buddy would concede to the other guy in exchange for half a box of Prophecy which the other guy was going to get for winning.

Turns out the other guy finished 7-0 as a result of that deal, so I wouldn't be surprised if he screwed Buddy by claiming he had a worse record than he really did. As it was, the final round gave me an interesting look into the real skill of top-level Magic players, and I can add that display of collusion and bribery to my ever-growing list of reasons why I'll never become a professional Magic player.

I don't know if I managed to keep any of you hanging on until the end, but thanks a lot for taking the time to read this report (another long-winded post from a long-winded guy), and I hope to improve on my tournament-reporting skills in the future, as well as my article-writing skills in general.

See you in the forums!

ADI413@cs.com

Read More Articles by Anden Imamura!

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