Magic Weekend Nagoya 2011 Posts
Saturday, June 11, 2011, 3:26 AM
I don't know if this happens to other people. Have you ever been watching someone play, and they're in the process of making a huge blunder, when suddenly you realize that if you HADN'T been there to witness it, you would very likely have wound up making the same mistake yourself at a later date? This happens to me all the time. It might be the only way I learn. It's just rare that I see a whopper like this at the Pro Tour.
Personally, I blame recent white removal for cultivating bad habits. Pacifism, Journey to Nowhere, Arrest, Leonin Relic-Warder, all of these allow you to set up a sweet mid-combat blowout. So naturally, when your opponent has your Consecrated Sphinx stuck under an Exclusion Ritual, then attacks with some creatures, you reach for that Beast Within and prepare to offer your sincerest sympathies.
Except it doesn't work like that. At all. I don't know if my face could handle twisting from the confident grin to the look of abject misery as my opponent points out that the Sphinx is on permanent leave, and then asks if I have a Beast token he can borrow.
Friday, June 10, 2011, 11:41 PM
You know they say that you can tell a man by the company he keeps. Well the same applies to planeswalkers. All of the planeswalkers in Scars of Mirrodin Block are represented in the field here in Nagoya to varying degrees and they’ve often been seen with each other. One thing is for certain, though, they all love to hang out at the various Wellsprings around Mirrodin, or should I call it New Phyrexia?
First, you have the new kid on the block, and he’s showing this weekend that he has all the right stuff. The recently released Phyrexian parolee has been trying to show all of the other planeswalkers that he has what it takes to proudly wear the mantle of planeswalker. He’s been spending most of his time with Elspeth Tirel and her crew, though he has been seen putting in some time with Tezzret, Agent of Bolas, Koth, of the Hammer, and Venser, the Sojourner, though to considerably lesser degrees. There have even been reports of him being spotted in league with the infectious Phyrexians once more, though those reports remain unconfirmed. Most commonly, he has been seen just waiting for others to do a bulk of the fighting before swooping in and throwing his thunderous weight around, more like a bouncer than anything else. Still, he’s valued by the friends that he’s made, and I’m sure that they’ll be more than willing to hang out with him in the future.
Speaking of Ms. Tirel, the battles she’s fought seem to have taken their toll on her. Nowadays, she’s been seen more in the company of her cats than anyone else. You’d think having four Leonin Relic-Warders would be enough to keep her happy, but occasionally she has been known to go out for more with a White Sun’s Zenith. I guess she just can’t get enough kittens. It’s ok, though, she’s had Karn and Consecrated Sphinx to watch over her as well, making sure that she gets out of the house every so often, though she does always insist on bringing a couple other friends along.
Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas has actually been seen out quite a bit this weekend, which is surprising for the bookish planeswalker. He is usually far more comfortable around his machines than people, but he’s been spending a lot of time with Consecrated Sphinx and Trinket Mage as well. I guess he and the Mage have plenty to talk about, and I’ve heard that he even brings Tezzeret presents from time to time... Even with the company, Ol’ Tezzeret isn’t ever very far from the comfort of his machines, always keeping a full retinue. Should he need a friend, he often just “makes” one, which is actually pretty creepy. I think the fact that Karn is a living machine is the reason Tezzeret’s so hung up on him, but if I were Karn, I’d probably keep away from him. Seriously, he creeps me out.
Let me just start by saying that Koth, of the Hammer, is one hell of a fun guy. I mean, the party doesn’t even get started until he shows up. The man parties so hard that even the room he’s in wants to party with him. Naturally, when you party as hearty as he does, you attract a legion of hangers on, and Koth is no exception. Droves of Goblins follow in his wake, some preceding him to get people in the partying mood. The one bad thing about him is that he’s a bit rough, often throwing stuff around and making quite the mess. He’s banned from at least two hotel chains that I can think of for…how shall I put this…um…arson? That Kuldotha Phoenix he runs around with is the real problem. Even if it gets kicked out of the party, it always seems to find a way back. I don’t know if he’s going to be a great influence on Karn, though I don’t think their relationship is going to last. Karn’s getting pretty sick of always having to show up and clean up the messes that Koth gets himself into. One of these days, Karn just won’t be there.
The last guy flitting about is Venser, the Sojourner. Honestly, I haven’t seen too much of Venser. He popped up once or twice, but hasn’t really been seen that much. I’m sure I saw him talking to Karn once or twice, but I could never get to them before Venser just disappeared. I hate it when he does that! I’m sure he’ll pop up again sometime, probably when its more suitable. Personally, I think Tezzeret creeps him out, too.
That dude is creepy.
Friday, June 10, 2011, 11:13 PM
Make it the top echelons of the Magic Pro Tour and you find yourself inducted into the Hall of Fame. It's the home of the game's biggest names, and enshrinement guarantees you will forever be qualified for the Pro Tour. So how many HOFers made it to Nagoya this weekend? Here's the list:
For more information on the Pro Tour Hall of Fame, visit the official Pro Tour Hall of Fame site: www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/halloffam...
Friday, June 10, 2011, 10:43 PM
Just five rounds of block constructed stand between the hopeful and a spot on Sunday's stage. Looking around the top tables you get a bird's-eye-view of the emerging block metagame.
The most populous deck in the upper ranks is Tempered Steel, though there doesn't seem to be a consensus on how it should be built. Some versions are full-throttle aggro. Others diversify their threats, getting a leg over into the mid-game and trying to take the sting out of the format's ubiquitous artifact removal. Given the field, Hero of Bladehold looks like the MVP.
Next there is Big Red, reminiscent of the deck that Masashiro Kuroda used to win Pro Tour Kobe, way back during original Mirrodin. It boasts removal of all stripes, heavy hitters like Koth of the Hammer and Kuldotha Phoenix, and can win out of nowhere with a lucky Red Sun's Zenith. Things top out at Karn, who has been crushing dreams left and right, especially during the control mirrors.
Next are the various brews of black-blue. On the face of it they are similar, usually built around Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas. They share the usual control trifecta of countermagic, removal and card draw, but the specific choices and numbers seem up for grabs. Maybe the last rounds will shake out a best version?
There are more than a few multicolored decks, from Tsuyoshi Fujita's four-color control to the different Bant brews. Taking advantage of the fixing offered by Mycosynth Wellspring, these decks get to throw the format's biggest knockout punches at their opponents, providing they can put up sufficient roadblocks to
reach the endgame. Birthing Pod decks might really shine here, having the luxury of a toolbox of solutions.
Lastly, there are a few outliers. The Puresteel Paladin deck, Red-Green midrange, and even old school blue-white control, just like mom used to make. Will one of them emerge as a trump to the format, or will the big wheels lock up the Top 8? Just a few short hours will give us our answer.
Friday, June 10, 2011, 6:47 PM
Ever wondered what record you need to make the Top 8 of a Pro Tour like the one in Nagoya this weekend? I ran some numbers to take a look. Pro Tour Nagoya is 16 rounds. Players are awarded 3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw (not finishing a match with either player having won a majority of games concluded), and 0 points for a loss. That means a perfect score on the weekend would be 48 points (16 wins for 3 points per win). Historically, however, a number of records have been good enough to make the cut.
A good rule of thumb, especially for players who have had to figure out the math for the Top 8 of an 8 round event like a PTQ, is that you double the record needed to Top 8 a single day, 8 round event and you have the possible records to make the Top 8 of a two day event like the Pro Tour. But this approach isn't 100% accurate, so I ran the numbers on all Pro Tours with 16 rounds through the past few seasons (back to 2009) and came up with this data:
-The lowest Swiss rounds score to make the Top 8 was 36 (12 wins).
-The highest Swiss score was 48, a perfect match win record by Luis Scott-Vargas and only the second time any player has ever managed to go undefeated through the Pro Tour Swiss rounds.
-The average score needed to make the Top 8 during that time period was 37.625.
Those numbers don't tell the whole story, however. Other details can impact whether you'll make the Top 8 with a specific Swiss record score. For example, the number of players that are in the tournament impacts whether the lower point scores will make the cut. The fewer players there are, the likelier you'll make the cut with high tie breakers and 36 Swiss points. The more players there are, however, the less likely it is that you can get in with 36 points. Your tie breakers, the most important of which is based on how many games your opponents win or lose, can impact whether you make the cut by breaking up ties between players with the same amount of Swiss points (though a 37 point player with the lowest tie breakers of all 37 pointers will still beat out all players with 36 points or fewer).
Sound complex? It isn't really (believe me), especially for the pros who have been playing for a long time and have been in the position to hunt down the Top 8 in the past, or who have friends who have. Just remember: the surefire way to make the Top 8 of the Pro Tour is to keep WINNING.