Seeing as how this is the Goblin King’s round-up of one of the most exciting PT’s in recent memory (2nd only to the control battle of Shota vs Romao at PT Kaladesh), it’s only fair for me to start out with a little bit about conspiracy theories- the bread and butter of my upbringing.
Like most people, I’m a mixed bag when it comes to conspiracy theories. I’m all-in on the ones that are obviously true- that the Bermuda Triangle is real, that there is indeed a lost city of Atlantis- and of course, my personal favorite- the incredible conspiracy theory that claims that man has never gone to the moon.
When it comes to the more speculative ones, I’m naturally a bit more skeptical. The earth is round, just like all that other stuff in the sky, and I’m certain that 9/11 wasn’t an inside job, even if our war for oil was. It’s been a while though, since we’ve had a good one and I think this PT showcases, more then ever, what was clearly- a doubt-inducing, question-raising, clear-cut 100% true conspiracy theory- the likes of which I’ve never seen before.
It didn’t begin at the PT, however. Rather, this conspiracy theory began where all great conspiracy theories begin- having been planned months, maybe even years, in advance.
First ever MTGA POY
Let’s be honest with ourselves for just a moment. The POY was not decided with games of Magic- it was instead decided with MTGA best of 1’s. This is where the why of the conspiracy theory begins to formulate. It was all perfectly executed. Two players happening to get identical records going into the final stretch of the POY race (an already convoluted concept that few truly understand) which made it so the only way to decide who would be crowned king would be to do so in a head-to-head, week before the Pro Tour, finale. What a great place to market the new Arena platform you might think.
And indeed it was.
Every player came with 4 different decks- so basically Magic Arena cause who has 4 Standard decks in real life- don’t answer that. Then there was the fact that it was best of 1’s which is only something that’s really done on Magic Arena. In terms of conspiring marketing- it’s the best I’ve ever seen to promote a new platform- bravo Wizards.
This has nothing to do with conspiracy theories (or does it?) but here’s some golden advice for a newer player headed into their first ever competitive tournament: before you enter said tournament, take the cards out of your deck, and read all of them. Some cards have a lot of text on them- 12 lines of text in some instances (Rules Lawyer), and you want to make sure you understand every bit of the wonderful things that your cards are able to do.
The stage was set when they interviewed Seth Manfield early in the tournament and he said “I don’t care- I’ll bring a brew” before proceeding to bring a pretty sweet Selesnya build that I had never seen before to battle against the World’s elite. The PT was a brewer’s delight. You had entire teams showing up with coddled together FNM decks filled with Arena All-Stars including Ajani’s Pridemate, Rustwing Falcon, and Healer’s Hawk. Team ChannelFireball brought a mono-white starter deck with 4 Frenzies in the board with them. Then there were interesting control variants with Yoda Yasooka on Grixis Control and Mok on Dimir. I’m still in awe of all the different ways to play Magic that different players brought with them to PT RTR. Seeing as how the last 10 PT’s have been dominated by one deck and one deck only, it really makes you wonder…
Credit Where it’s Due
The competitions that Riley Knight (MVP) and Paul Cheon were announcing were some of the best announced Magic games I’ve ever witnessed in my life. I was in awe- THEY GET IT. The show that was put on was undeniable- the two were perfectly in sync with the game, in full anticipation of every draw- in wonder of every finish. Much like how The Legend of Zelda BotW is a template for how to make a beautiful game on a Tablet, the matches those two announced in tandem should be an example for all future announcers going forward as to how to turn Magic into an exciting spectator sport.
SLOW PLAY WARNING
This is that point as a writer, only one month in, where I have to retract something that I said only a few weeks ago. That players need to be paid more. Very simply, I was failing my economics degree when I said that. No, to speak such blasphemy would be to ignore the very simple premise of supply and demand. If Dwyane Wade wants a raise he simply walks into a room of very privileged old men and screams at them- and you know what? He gets it. But Magic players ain’t being paid anything and it’s cause the demand ain’t there, cause no one wants to watch. Now don’t get me wrong. There were definitely some exciting games at PT Guilds of Ravnica, and there are for certain some fast-playing players (Shota, Seth Manfield). But there’ s a lot of players that just aren’t very good and don’t think through their sequences very quickly, who are a chore to watch- and who definitely shouldn’t be on the biggest stage. It’s for the players, also, Magic games aren’t fun when individual turns take too long. The burning rope on Arena shouldn’t be a gimic- it should be a written rule of competitive Magic. Cue even more love for the Arena platform…
Play of The Game
When LSV pulled the fake for the token with 4-mana open and a flipped Legion’s Landing as if creating a Vampire token was what he intended to do. He didn’t actually make the play of course, he was faking that he didn’t have Settle the Wreckage, and seeing as how the guy that didn’t know what his cards said played full-tilt into it, I’d say it was perfectly executed.
In case you missed it, 6 of the top 8 decks at PT Guilds of Ravnica were mono-white or Boros Aggro variants- a deck that really didn’t exist in large numbers just a few weeks ago. It’s hard to say why this is, is Boros the best deck in Standard? Or was it more of just an expected metagame call (there were a lot of Izzet Phonenix, Golgari Midrange, and Jeskai Control decks as expected) based on previous tournaments. It’s tough to say but I certainly don’t see Ajani’s Pridemate’s price skyrocketing overnight. Even so, these builds have all of the hallmarks of a good deck and should be good Arena options moving forward. They each had 4 of’s of a few very powerful cards (History of Benalia, Benalish Marshal, Legion’s Landing). They all have resilient threats (Adanto’s Vanguard, Hunted Witness, etc.) and powerful answers (Conclave Tribunal). And lastly, they all have synergies flowing throughout (i.e. Loxodon + Tokens).
Okay, so before we get into the winner for best deck at Pro Tour Guilds of Ravnica, I should probably give a little bit of ink as to what I mean when I say that a deck is the best deck. When I say best deck, what I’m really looking for is the most unique and interesting play patterns. For this award I’m going to have to give it to Izzet Phoenix. I’m not particularly crazy about the combo like nature of the Phoenix decks as this allows for more top-decking then is really fair. But what I like about the Izzet Phoenix cards above all the other cards in Standard is the sheer number of decisions that have to be made (what do you get rid of when you don’t have the Phoenix? Do I scry this to the bottom?) but also, that there isn’t really any wasted motion with the deck. You’ve got flashback-type cards and cantrips after cantrips that make it so each turn isn’t just filled with one play, but numerous of them. This to me is more exciting Magic, then turn-1 play, go, turn-2 play, go, etc. and I hope it is the style of play that WotC attempts to make more prevalent going forward.
I’ll be completely honest with you, when I first began writing this, on Saturday night, I had no idea where this PT was going. But I know a conspiracy when I see one, and all the tell-tale signs that go along with them, and I felt, sure as night, that this conspiracy was headed somewhere tragic.
Tragic it was. For anyone not watching, PT RTRTRT ended with a whimper- an LSV mull to 4 (4!) non-interactive game (he had a pass-able 5 so who knows), but either way, a non-game nonetheless. It makes sense for Wizards to pull such devious slight of hand- to promote the Arena platform. Arena has a free mull after-all (sort of), and anyone that didn’t sell their paper cards and immediately buy into the platform before was sure to now.
Look at how great this thing is !
Make sure to follow Ryan on Twitter, @realgoblinking
Trackback from your site.