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Mental Note: I Suck at Drafting
By Eric Turgeon
Alternate Title: The Official Unofficial Infinite Quests Friday December 3rd Booster Draft Tournament Report and Clever Bonus Story

It's Friday afternoon. I'm driving east on 422. Dave invited me to a booster draft at a local gaming store. I felt obliged to go. I missed his invitation to the 2-Headed Giant event two weeks before and I don't want him to think I'm not interested. I would have gone to that, but I thought I had a prior engagement. Then I got sick. So now I'm going to a booster draft. I think I suck at drafting. I remember drafting with some friends on Wednesday.

It's a four-person draft (clockwise from left): Kenny, Matt, Mark and me. It's triple Eighth Edition, because that's what I have packs of. $7.50 to enter. Swiss draw. Winner plays for the first pick in the post-tournament rarity redraft. We've only done this a couple times, but I've never lost.

We open our first packs. Mine is insane. I take Worship over Dark Banishing, Diabolic Tutor and some quality critters. I'm mostly drafting white and green with a couple solid black cards.
Mark opens a foil Worship in his second pack and lets everyone know. I decide that this whole draft is insane. I've had drafts where the best rare was a Tidal Kraken. We have two Worships.
The foil Worship tables. I can't believe it. I decide that I can't lose.
Mark opens a Birds of Paradise in his third pack and lets everyone know. Now we know what first prize is.

We roll for position. I play Kenny. He's not happy with that. He decides that he's playing for third place. We play two games and I win. I feel bad beating him, but at least he's happy because he hit me with a Searing Wind.

Meanwhile, Mark's deck is ridiculously slow. He drafted a blue/black deck and the Birds of Paradise, because no one can pass the Birds. Mark won the first game. Matt wins the second. Me and Kenny play constructed while waiting for them to finish. Mark wins game three.

Now I'm playing Mark. His deck is suddenly fast. I feel like he drafted 6 Dusk Imps. He beats me the first game, despite my Worship in play. It's kind of useless when your opponent kills all your creatures. The second game I draw some wurms and beat him down quickly. Game three his deck gets slow again. We're locked in a stalemate. I have two Worships in play, but he has more creatures. I'm afraid to attack, because I need my creatures, but I already cast Ambition's Cost, meaning I'll get decked first. I'm at 1 life for most of the game. I trade a Craw Wurm for a bunch of fliers and finally manage to squeeze through enough damage.

That match took over an hour. I check my watch. I told my wife I'd be home by 10. It's already 9:50 and we haven't started our post-tournament rarity draft. I call my wife and tell her I'm running late. I try to hurry things up. I don't want to miss South Park.

And that's how I won my second Birds of Paradise. I'm trying to devise a moral to this story. Perhaps it is better to be lucky than good. Perhaps I don't suck at drafting. I decide that the story has no moral.

I see a sign for Limerick. Pennsylvania has some weird names for its towns: Limerick... Virginville... Blue Ball... Intercourse. I try to put them all together.
Virginville is quite a town
And all of the women quite round
The men from Blue Ball
Should give them a call
And Intercourse soon will abound

I laugh at my poem. I think I'm pretty clever.

As I drive along, I try to take directions. I missed a couple turns the last time I visited Dave and feel the need to clarify for next time. 5 miles to the highway. 20 miles until it turns into a different road. 40 miles until the exit. I pray for red lights so that I can safely write down the numbers before I forget them. Dave's directions were good, but they weren't idiot-proof. He clearly didn't know what he was up against.

I get to Dave's apartment around 5. It's windy and cold and not quite dark out. Dave answers the door and lets me in. As I walk up the stairs, his cat stares me down. I stare back. I say hi to his wife and compliment their Christmas tree. They bought it from my Boy Scout troop the previous weekend. She always gets her tree from them.

We make small talk for a little while, trying to decide where to go eat. I notice his other cat sitting on an ottoman. The cat's deaf. I want to go up and scream in its ear, but I also don't want to be rude, so I don't. Dave shows me the hat he won at 2HG. He won it by entering, but he won it nonetheless. It's stupid and nerdy, but I'm still jealous. He grabs some new decks and I throw them in my backpack.

"He's always making a new deck," his wife tells me.

We hop in his car and drive to the mall. Dave's got a new car. It's pretty cushy. You don't care.

Bertucci's is the Italian place. It sounded pretty good. When I look at the menu, nothing interests me. I order a special Neapolitan pizza. I'm in the mood for a thick pizza. This one's called the Margherita. It's got stuff on it. Dave orders a pizza, too, and fried mozzarella for an appetizer.

We make small talk waiting for the food. We talk Magic and football. Dave still hates Takklemaggot. He's also thinking about writing some articles of his own: a review of creatureless decks for each color. I tell him he should. How does green make a good creatureless deck? Dave thinks blue is even harder: no staying power. I tell him I've been beaten by good blue creatureless decks online, but can't for the life of me figure out what they did. Maybe I'm lying. I'm not sure.

The fried mozzarella comes out and the conversation turns to football. I tell him the Bears look good. Their defense can hang with anyone. He still thinks they're a wide receiver short of contention. He asks me if I think the 49ers have a shot at drafting Reggie Bush. I start sobbing uncontrollably. Not really, but I tell him they already have two decent running backs that have no offensive line. I think about the previous week's game. 32 K. Barlow over Rt. Tackle for 75 yds Touchdown. Negated by Holding penalty on 77 K. Harris for -10 yds. I think Reggie Bush is overrated.

The food comes out. My pizza's flat and it's got stuff on it. Globs of stuff. I thought Neapolitan was a thick pizza. Maybe that's Sicilian. I'm clearly an idiot, but the pizza's not bad. Not great, but not bad, either. We each finish half our pizzas and box the rest.

Dave drives to Infinite Quests. It's the local gaming store. The booster draft sign-up is at the front. Dave sort of knows the owner. He asks her why no one else filled in their DCI numbers. I wonder why she opened a game store. She's doesn't look like a geek to me. I want to ask her why she would want to create a nesting place for smelly teenagers, but I also don't want to be rude, so I donít. Apparently the regulars are lazy about their DCI numbers. For some reason, I think this applies to me, too. Dave reminds me to fill in my DCI number. I remember that I'm not a regular and start fishing through my wallet for my DCI card.

I peruse the clientele. You know all those jerks I complain about playing on Magic online? Yeah, sometimes I forget that they must exist in real life. I won't generalize everyone here, but the percentage seems about right.

We have some time to kill before the tournament starts, so we find a table and start up a game. Dave asks me what the notebook in my bag is for.
"Notes," I tell him.
"Notes?" he asks.
"I might want to write about this later. I brought the book so I can take notes."
"Oh, I see... notes," he says. Or maybe he doesn't. I probably should have taken a note. Or maybe I just shouldn't quote people.

Before our game starts I overhear someone say, "Birds of Paradise is jank." I think about Wednesday night's draft. Maybe I should have taken that foil Worship, instead. No, Worship is probably jank, too.

Dave asks whatever happened to casual players.

I write down, "Jank is my new favorite word."

I'm playing my white weenie equipment deck. Dave's playing a new deck that I will have to email him about to remember what it does. (Reply from Dave: It's a Selesnya deck.) Trophy Hunter tears me a new one, but I win after tutoring for a Sword of Light and Shadow. Dave thought his Selesnya Sagittars would buy him another turn. The game is fun, though. It's also fun because we call every card jank.

While we're playing, some scrubling starts watching and asks to play the winner. Scrubling is a name I affix to the kids who wish they were scrubs. Every game store has at least one scrubling. He's a younger kid, maybe he hasn't played as long and all he wants to do is learn. He's also really annoying so everyone else makes fun of him. Everyone else is a scrub because they want to play professionally, but they're not good enough. I'm a scrub because I have no aspirations to play professionally and I'm also not good enough, even though I think that I am. Following? Don't worry if you're not. I'm not, either. Now turn your lesson books to page 43.

Page 43

So this scrubling's name is Patrick. He wears a funny hat and talks with a little kid lisp. I try to treat him with dignity. I ask him how good his deck is. He says it's okay. I pull out my beast deck, which is on the low end of my Magic deck quality spectrum. I don't want to beat him too severely. (If you think beasts means 4 Ravenous Baloths, then you're talking to the wrong guy. Actually, if you're talking to me at all, you should probably log off the computer right now and lie down for a while. I'll see you in a couple hours.)

We start playing and I drop Wirewood Savage. He plays Circu, Dimir Lobotomist. Yeah, his deck's just okay. I guess I forgot that Circu is jank. He plays some black and blue spells, but I have the beasts I need to win. No jank in my deck.

The tournament's starting. I grab the last seat at the second table. Dave and I are in different flights. I'm happy because I won't have to beat him. Someone mentions that all the good players are at one table. I see Patrick sitting at Dave's table and realize that they're referring to mine. I size up the competition. Two older guys are at the end and they're quiet. The kid directly across from me won't shut up. The kid next to me seems pretty nice, but I can't get a good read on him. Across from him is another quiet older guy who looks pretty serious. Then there're another two kids at the other end that also won't shut up.

In case you weren't following all that, I've taken the liberty to include a crudely-drawn seating chart of my drafting table here. If the link doesn't work, blame ImageHosting.us.

I pretend I'm drafting to win. You know you've been playing online too much when you draft for value online and draft to win in real life. The kid next to me opens a Sacred Foundry and lets the world know. I open crap and grab a Conclave Equenaut. I convince myself that I can make a pretty decent Selesnya deck. I grab a late pick Gaze of the Gorgon and Mortipede. I should have known right then that no one was drafting black. Or maybe I should have known after passing a Keening Banshee, Hex, and Stinkweed Imp early in the second pack. I ultimately figured it out somewhere in the middle of pack three. Did I mention that I think I suck at drafting?

The draft ends and I look at my cardpool. Looks like jank to me. I think I'm proud of my 3 Mortipedes and 2 Gaze of the Gorgons. Yeah, I'm playing a combo deck: a combo deck that utilizes a seven-mana inefficient splashed combo. Why didn't I draft black? (Reply from Dave: No one drafted black at my table, either.)

Meanwhile, Dave's lamenting his cardpool. He drafted fourteen creatures total, including a Vedalken Dismisser and Ethereal Usher. He thinks he has no choice but to include every creature he drafted in his deck. Suddenly my deck's not looking so bad.

The first match puts me up against James. He was sitting next to me, at the end of the table. (See crudely-drawn seating chart whose link may or may not be working.) I thought I was supposed to play the person opposite from me at the table, but then again, I also thought Neapolitan pizza was thick. It takes me four turns to realize that he drafted circles around me. He's playing green, white and black. Those are my colors. So for two-thirds of the draft, he got the better green and white cards. For the other third, he got all the black cards I passed to him.

I wish I could evaluate how good a player James is, but his deck is too good for me to tell. Ivy Dancer kills me the first game. The second game, I stall the ground until I'm one turn away from killing him with my Conclave Equenaut. "Good old Conclave Equenaut," I think. First pick limited bomb, easily. Perhaps I don't suck at drafting. James has a rules question and leaves the room for a moment.

Dave's playing his game across the room. He asks me how it's going.

"I lost the first game, but I think I'm about to win this one," I tell him.

James comes back and Hexes all five of my creatures and one of his. Did I mention that I suck at drafting?

The match ends so quickly, I have time to see Dave win a game. His opponent keeps flicking his cards. It's the most annoying thing I've ever witnessed in my life. I can't pay attention to the game. All I see and hear is FLICK FLICK FLICK FLICK FLICK FLICK FLICK FLICK FLICK FLICK. It seems like a nervous habit, but I can't understand how Dave won a game. I would have been too distracted to play, but not ballsy enough to complain. Dave loses game three.

The second match puts me up against Tony. Tony's the other older guy who was drafting across from James. (See crudely-drawn seating chart whose link may or may not be working.) He asks me about my Penn State hat. He's an alum; went to the '82 national championship game. I'm sort of jealous, but I was also two at the time. (Reply from Dave: You weren't two, yet. Correction: I was 1.94 at the time.) Tony's playing a Boros deck. My deck is slow. I hadn't considered that I might have to play against a fast deck. I also hadn't considered that someone might draft Viashino Fangtail. I look at my Mortipedes, stuck in my hand. I suck at drafting. He wins the first game 20-0. I'm down 24-6 in game two. Tony makes some mistakes and I pull out a win. He calls it the greatest comeback he's ever seen. Boros is no match for my mighty Guardians of Vitu-Ghazi!

Dave comes over to watch game three. He won his match 2-0. No losses with a deck containing all of the 14 creatures that he drafted, including a Vedalken Dismisser and Ethereal Usher.

Tony's getting a little rattled. I feel bad, because I like Tony. He attacks me for no reason whatsoever. I try to pull a Jedi mind trick.

"Is Fiery Conclusion an instant or a sorcery?" I ask. Tony stares at his hand. He stares at one card in his hand. I think I fooled him. Then he one-ups me.

"Um... let me check." He picks up his library and starts looking through it. I look at him. I look at Dave. Dave looks at me. Tony's looking at me. This is really awkward. I'm 99% sure that what he's doing is highly illegal. Then again, I thought Neapolitan pizza was thick. Should I call the judge? I don't want to. I like Tony. Dave interjects and offers to check the speed of Fiery Conclusion. He looks through Tony's deck. It's an instant. That has absolutely no bearing on my decision. Now I have to figure out how many he has in his deck. Instead I decide that I'm thinking too much. I block a 2/2 with a Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi. He plays Fiery Conclusion. I'll miss my Guardian, but at least I don't feel like a douchebag for trying to trick someone. I end up winning the game anyway. It was a good match. I wonder if Tony hates me.

My last match was against Eric. I tell him it's the mirror match. He laughs, but I can't tell if he's being facetious. He was the kid across from me who wouldn't shut up. (See crudely-drawn seating chart whose link may or may not be working.) I also observed him jumping up and down and screaming during his previous matches. I decide that I like him. Or hate him. One of the two.

Eric's playing a blue/black mill deck. He drafted a Glimpse the Unthinkable and Sins of the Past. His sideboard is splayed out all over the table. It has a bunch of off-color rares and a Farseek. I beat him the first game with two cards left in my library. A topdecked Consult the Necrosages would have killed me. I board in a Nightmare Void and every other card that will fit. The next game I have Nightmare Void in my opening hand. The first time I play it, I dump an Induce Paranoia. Eric thinks I should have hit his Sins of the Past. He topdecks Glimpse the Unthinkable, casts it, and jumps up and down screaming. He frequently asks to count my library. I grant him permission. FLICK FLICK FLICK FLICK FLICK FLICK FLICK FLICK FLICK FLICK FLICK FLICK FLICK FLICK FLICK FLICK FLICK. Is there a disease going around? My Nightmare Void hits his Sins of the Past and simultaneously helps his cause. I end up nearly dredging myself to death. Lurking Informant finishes the job.

In game three, Eric casts both Glimpse the Unthinkable and Sins of the Past. He starts jumping up and down and screaming. I'm stoic. I have six cards in my library, but a Guardian and three Saprolings in play and a Seeds of Strength in hand. Eric's tapped out at ten life with no blockers. I wait until he calms down. Send the house; Seeds of Strength; good game. He shuts up. I decide that I like him.

We're cleaning up and some kid comes in from the next room saying he got beaten by another milling deck. Dave won his match 2-0. No losses with a deck containing all of the 14 creatures he drafted, including a Vedalken Dismisser and Ethereal Usher. No Glimpse the Unthinkable. No Sins of the Past. I consider dubbing his table "The Kiddie Table." Maybe he's just that good. (Reply from Dave: Dimir Doppelganger is a bomb. Foil, too!)

We're both out of prize contention, so he drives me back to his apartment. It's half an hour later than I expected. I call my wife. She sounds sleepy. I grab my pizza and say farewell to Dave.

Now it's colder and windier and dark. I get in my car. 1987 Nissan Pulsar. That's jank, all right. I wait a few seconds, hoping my car will warm up. It's blasting cold air. I start driving home.

It's Friday night. I'm driving west on 422. I wonder whatever happened to casual players. Then my mind starts wandering. I try to think of something to write about.

It's been a long night and my eyes are getting tired. I need something to wake them up. A bright sign over the horizon answers my prayers.
"Baby Dolls", it says. (Reply from Dave: I thought that was related to the nearby Doll Museum.)
"God bless strip joints," I think.
I check my clock. It's not even 11 yet. I'm half an hour from home and not expected 'til midnight. I pull in the parking lot.

It's a $14 cover. $14? Where the hell did they come up with that number? I pay the man.
"What's in the bag?" he asks. For some reason I've brought my cards with me.
"Playing cards," I tell him.
"I'll need to take a look before I let you inside."
I open my bag and pull out a card box and hand it to him. He opens it up and pulls out a deck.
"What the hell is this?" he asks, flicking through the cards. FLICK, FLICK, FLICK, FLICK, FLICK.
"It's a game."
"Looks like jank to me."
Did he just say that? I take back my cards and walk inside.

I find a table at the back of the establishment. I briefly wonder why all strip joints are called establishments. I just need to let my eyes wake up a little more.
I take in the sights. It's my first time in a strip joint. It's not long before one of the girls approaches me.
"All by yourself, are you? What say I keep you company?"
She stands behind me and leans over my shoulder.
Her name is (Note to self: think of good stripper name). She's working toward her doctorate. I tell her about this itch I got. She's willing to give me a check-up. No appointment necessary. $50 co pay. I was hoping my insurance would cover it. I suppose she's a specialist.
I fish through my wallet, counting my money. I'm four dollars short. I wonder if she takes credit cards.
She asks me what's in my bag.
"Playing cards," I tell her.
She's heard of Magic. She's a freaking stripper and she's heard of Magic. I show her one of my decks.
"Wow," she says. "This looks like jank to me."
I check my watch. It's time to go.

There's a bar a few miles down the road.
Mulligan's.
It seems appropriate. I need a new hand.
The parking lot's clearing out. Sports crowd. Sixers game must have just ended. I find an open parking spot near the door and an open seat at the bar. I need a beer.
"What's in the bag?" the bartender asks.
"Jank," I tell him. I toss him a deck.
"Yup," he says. "That's jank all right."
He's got a deck of his own. We play a few games. I lose mightily. I need another beer, but the bartender's gone. He turned into a whale. He tells me his name is Wilziak and he lives on the moon.
I check my watch. It's time to go.

I'm speeding home. I forget who I am. Er, I forget where I am, that is. Maybe both. Who knows? Definitely not that guy driving my car, whoever he is.
I hit a red light. Or was it a stop sign? Maybe it was a pedestrian. My car's all busted up, so I put the seat back and fall asleep.

I wake up in bed next to my wife. Did I drive all the way home? No. No, it was just a dream. But I had to be sure. I go downstairs and peak out the window. There's my car, without a scratch on it. It must have been a dream. Then I see my bag. I open it and pull out a deck. Nope. It still looks like jank to me.

I find my story amusing. I think I'm pretty clever. I'd like to make it longer, but I'm home now. I go upstairs to my bedroom. Lauren's sound asleep. I want to make some notes, but I can't find a pen. I go back downstairs and write "Baby Dolls" in my notebook. Then I take the time to write out the whole story. I finish after midnight. It took longer to write than it did to think of. I go back upstairs and crawl into bed.
"How was it?" Lauren mumbles.
"It was okay."
"Did you kick some butt?"
"No. Not really."
"Why not?"
"Other people were better than me."
She doesn't ask any more questions. I wonder if she was ever really awake.
I eventually fall asleep.

Note to readers: Magic content is sparse from this point forward. Yes, even sparser than it has been up to this point. For the latest deck tech and tournament reports, please spam Brian David-Marshall and Mike Flores at magicthegathering.com.

I wake up on Saturday morning. I start watching College Gameday and reading my notes from the night before. Lauren comes down and asks what I'm reading.
"Notes," I tell her.
"What kind of notes?"
"It's a story I wrote. You wouldn't like it."
She reads it. I can tell she doesn't like it. Especially the part about the stripper. And the part about the whale.
"That's copyright infringement."
"It's not copyright infringement if I'm not selling it."
I considered it a humorous pop culture reference at best and a severe lack of originality at worse. Kids like humorous pop culture references. I reread it and decide it's a severe lack of originality. I make a mental note to change it.

We go Christmas shopping that day. Lauren can't find anything she wanted to buy. We also check the movie times at the mall. Friday nights are movie nights, so I owe her a movie. She wants to see Aeon Flux. I expect it to suck, but it's her turn to pick. It's showing at 7:15 and 9:30. We go home. A better theater is showing it at 7:30 and 10:00.

I plop down in front of the TV and turn on college football. If either Texas or USC loses, Penn State could have a chance to play for the national title. Texas wins 70-3. I start watching the USC game. Reggie Bush has something like 300 yards on two carries. I start to imagine him in a 49ers uniform. Then I play some NCAA football on my Xbox. Xbox is a word, by the way. My spellchecker says so. Playstation is not.

At eight, we go grocery shopping. We buy some groceries. We go home. You don't care.


At 9:40, we go to the movies. Aeon Flux does not suck. It's not great, but it's not bad, either. I like the movie despite the fact that they don't show Charlize Theron naked. Almost, but not quite. I also like the guy who played Goodchild. He looks and sounds like a mix between Kevin Spacey and James Spader. I dub him K.J. Spacer.

I wake up on Sunday morning. I start watching NFL Countdown. When the 49ers are mentioned, the crew starts laughing. They all pick the Cardinals to win. I start sobbing uncontrollably.

When the show ends, Lauren and I go out to clean off our cars. It snowed / iced the night before and she wants to get it over with. Then we go out back and play in the snow.

I leave at two to help my Boy Scout troop sell Christmas trees. It's cold. We build a snowman. I thank God that I don't work in retail. Three hours later, my gloves are soaked, my pants are wet (not like that), and I'm freezing my (insert random frozen body part(s) here) off. But I helped sell 12 Christmas trees.

Lauren and I go to the Beverly Hills Tavern for dinner. They have NFL Sunday Ticket. The 49ers have never lost when we went there to watch the game. Yes, both times. I refuse to take any more chances. They're down 9-7 when we get there. Our waitress's name is Chastity. (Note to self: Chastity would be a funny and ironic name for a stripper.) The Niners go up 10-9 on a field goal. Alex Smith's stats come up: 11 of 13 passing for a hundred-some yards and only one interception. Not bad, for him. He throws two more interceptions the rest of the game. 17-10: Cardinals. I start to imagine Reggie Bush in a 49ers uniform.

When we go home, I remember that I haven't submitted anything to the Casual Players Alliance. I log on and submit a 20-Point Fireball. It's been done for a while. It might be my best one yet. Or my worst. One of the two. I'm ready to play some MTGO when I decide to write a story on Friday night's draft. I write for three hours.

I stop to watch the Boondocks. Samuel L. Jackson is a guest-star on this week's episode. He's voicing a white guy and half of his lines are taken verbatim from Pulp Fiction. I wonder if this is a humorous pop culture reference or a severe lack of originality. I'm laughing out loud, so I assume it's a humorous pop culture reference.

Lauren fell asleep on the couch. I wake her up. I go back upstairs and write for another hour and a half. Then I decide to call it a night. I've written almost 4000 words. That seems like a good first draft. Did I mention that I suck at drafting?

I try to end my story cleverly. It's not clever. I make a mental note to change it.

Read More Articles by Eric Turgeon!

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