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2012 in the mirror

December 31, 2012

It’s the 26th of December (at least currently as I’m starting to write this) and that means it’s time for my annual reflective annals. Every year I look back and muse about the year that has passed and what I expect and hope for in the year to come, from a personal, magical perspective. So please allow me to do just that, right here and now.

2012 started out on my part with two decks really. In Standard I spent the first couple of months casting Primeval Titans and that experience culminated with GP Lille where I ended up a bit short on day 1 after a close match against Delver in the last round. Still, I was quite happy with the list in retrospect and rather credit most of my losses at the tournament to poor mulligan decisions.

At the same time I had become heavily invested with Living End in Modern. The “love affair”, if you will, started out really as a objective experiment as Living End was an archetype I had little experience with previously and I wanted to know what’s really up with the deck. And what can I say; there is a couple of things that deck does that are really admirable in my opinion. It’s a very simple deck and is very consistent in doing what the deck does. It’s also quite good against people playing “fair” decks, which I think are way more represented then they should be in Modern. On the flip side the deck is quite bad against other combo decks, particularly those who sports Steam Vents in them and that is the main reason people like to shy away from the deck.

I wasn’t really committed into playing Living End during the season but it kept being a deck I came back to while I was fumbling around with the format. Those who know me knows that I really appreciate consistency and thus Living End had me hooked…sort of. It preformed well in the events I entered with it but right before the only paper PTQ I got to play in that season I started to lose faith; faith in Living End, the format and myself.

People who’s opinion I respect would bicker me with questions like “are you REALLY considering playing Living End at a PTQ?”, which wasn’t exactly boosting my confidence. In addition I suspected that Steam Vent decks would be reasonably popular at that PTQ in particular which also made my confidence falter.

This lead me doing something I thought I had grown past; the last minute audible. Not only did I went through with the cardinal sin, I opted to audible to a really sketchy deck…Zoo. Needless to say I crashed and burned at the PTQ but at least I learned something. So I hope, I should say…

Next up was Standard again with a PTQ and a WMCQ in connecting weekends. I opted to play Haunted Humans for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I didn’t want to play Delver if I could justify it as playing several mirrors over the course of each tournament was not something I wanted to do. Further on, before Restoration Angel was out you could put Delver on their back foot fairly easily if you were aggressive enough, which Haunted Humans certainly was. In addition I was really impressed with Thalia and how resilient the deck was to ordinary sweepers by playing against it and spectating at GP Lille. Lastly, Zombies had become a real thing by this time in Standard and playing white cards was certainly the best thing you could be doing against Zombies.

Overall I was content with how the deck preformed over those events. I lost playing for Top8 at both the PTQ and the WMCQ…and I’m quite certain that I would have made the top8 in the WMCQ if I had just payed attention against the first Wolf Run deck I faced in the Swiss. However my little affair with Haunted Humans effectively ended with the WMCQ as Restoration Angel was released just a couple of weeks later and we all know by now how that card put the format on its head.

After those Standard events GP Malmö was the next notable event on my schedule. I was quite confident with the format going in and had fairly high hopes on myself. Although I wouldn’t say that I enjoyed the format overall and certainly don’t place it high on my list of top Limited formats ever, but I had a pretty high win percentage during my time with the format. Formats where playing 18 lands is often correct seems to be my wheelhouse.

The pool I was greeted with as I sat down for deck construction at the GP left me with much to wish for. I had a solid white core with Angel of Glory’s Rise, a Terminus and a Moonsilver Spear as standout cards, however I didn’t really have a second color. While there was a Spirit Away in blue, there was just not enough playables to even get to 22 cards. The green was okay but that would leave me with literally Terminus as the only removal spell (and Holy Justicar I guess, depending on how you look at things). I would not have any of that so I ended up with going with black as my secondary color. Those who have played AVR Limited know that black isn’t exactly the Cadillac of the format in therms of card quality…

In the end I had a deck with a couple of really good cards but I din’t like my deck as a whole. Not only did I have to play a couple of really subpar cards in terms of overall quality, my deck was very reactive and that is something I don’t like to be in Limited. I’m happy to be playing decks that strive to go longer in games and revolves around card advantage but I don’t like cringing on what the opponents does. Like what you have to do to get the most out of a card like Terminus. Not unexpectedly I was dead by midday but fought on to finish 6-3 to redeem some honor.

About a month later it was time for another PTQ and WMCQ, this time in Malmö, again both Standard events. By now Restoration Angel had been fully infused in the Delver archetype and with that clearly propelling Delver to the clear “best deck” of the format. Although I still didn’t want to play a bunch of mirrors I didn’t really like anything else in the format, hence playing something that wasn’t Delver felt stupid. While that reasoning and decision was certainly healthy, I ended up having just a god-awful weekend playing Magic. I made several sketchy decision in games that I ended up paying for while at the same time having several really bad draws over the course of the weekend. The cream of the crop was that I after those tournament also concluded that my list had a land too many in it, causing me to flood out a lot. That was off course a fault on my part of not testing enough with the deck beforehand and instead relying too much on the judgment of “people on the Internet”. Although some wisdoms were learned from that weekend, it felt mostly like an experience that was best discarded and never thought about again.

During the summer I didn’t have a lot of events to play in and subsequently I wasn’t playing too much Magic during this time. I played in a couple of online PTQs but to no result worth speaking of. However at the end of the summer there was the Summer Championship, which was a local event my local watering hole for Magic, Dragon’s Lair, had manage to pump up a quite impressive prize pool in. This ended up being my highlight for 2012 (I know, spoilers etc.) as for tournaments goes. Not directly because I ended up doing rather well and finish in the Top4 but rather how I prepared for the event, correctly analyzed what the expected the field would look like, choose deck after the expectations and finally how I played at the event. I rather don’t delve too much of the entire process here and now, so please read my report from the event for the whole story. Anyhow, I felt vindicated on many level after my really poor performance in Malmö at the beginning of the summer and got some confidence in myself back.

Lastly we have the fall, which I don’t have too much to say about. Because of things happening in my “non-Magic life” I took a break from my column over at www.blackborder.com and didn’t play a whole lot of Magic during the early fall. Regrettably no GP was participated in for my part and I only managed to squeak in a single paper PTQ, in which my pool was rather lackluster and subsequently did not go well for yours truly. I did however got back to writing regularly again by the end of the year and I’m really glad that I got myself back in doing that.

All in all not a amazing year for me by any stretch, playing or otherwise, but certainly filled with some necessary growing pains for me as a person. I felt really bad about cutting down that much on Magic as I did during the fall, which included skipping out on all three of the European GPs, but that’s the curl of the burl. Hopefully I should be able to redeem myself on that part starting next year (although the recently announced cut in Swedish PTQs per season from 2 to 1 is going to make things more challenging for us Swedish “wannabes”). I’m also quite psyched about continue to write about the game both here and over at Blackborder when able, as that is something I really enjoy to do. I have some other projects related to Magic in my head that I would like to explore in 2013 but that depends on how much time I get spend on the game. So fingers crossed for that.

That was about what I had to say about my 2012 playing Magic and what I expect from 2013. Before saying goodbye to 2012 I would like to wish you a happy new year, say thanks for reading and finally say stay tuned for more.

See you in 2013!

Best regards,

Bernhard

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