A lot of people may tell you that 2016 was a miserable year. Yes a lot happened that can be construed as negative. Notable celebrity passings, certain political events, even the passings of loved ones. 2016 is going to go down, at least for the next few weeks, as one of the worst years to have been a year in the minds of a lot of people.
Not me. 2016 was kinda great. My wife and I went on our first vacation since our honeymoon. Finances started straightening up. December 27 marks the fifth anniversary of my employment at my current job (and a couple of sweet bonuses along with it). Also the following things happened in my Magic career:
-I won a PPTQ
-I won an IQ (states)
-I day 2’d my first Invitational
-I qualified for the season one SCG Invitational for 2017
This list of accomplishments is notable for a particular reason. It’s my list of goals for 2016 that I made at the end of 2015. They were all completed, and it feels kind of great. I’m really proud of what I was able to accomplish, given the small amount of playing time winning bread for a family allows me. I know that more people have probably done more with less, but for my first true year of trying the ‘grind,’ I am happy to take away at least that I completed what I had set out to accomplish.
However, there’s a big hole in my heart right now. December is a difficult month for me to play Magic in, not only because of the sometimes harsh Northeast winters making travel difficult, but because between family commitments bookended by Thanksgiving and Christmas, there’s my son’s birthday, the decorating, and family traditions that are observed. I’m not upset with all of these things happening, I love my family with all of my heart. But I wanna sling some cardboard!
But 2017 will be different. After a long discussion with my better half, we are in. We’re thinking big picture now. I may have been a bit nearsighted when I made my goals for 2016, and I’m not sure if, at least at the level at which I’m able to perform right now with my time constraints, that setting yearly goals like this is healthy for me. I become obsessed, and if I don’t achieve these annual goals, I find myself to feel as if I’ve failed, and should no longer continue.
Since I was 14 and playing this dang game I love, my goal has been to play on the Pro Tour. After all these years, after all of these life changing events, after all of the losses and bad breaks, that’s still a goal. I honestly, earnestly believe that it’s an achievable one. That’s why instead of setting annual goals, I’m setting a deadline. If I’m not on the Pro Tour by the end of 2019, I probably don’t have what it takes, and I’ve been lying to myself.
We’re on board though. No longer are SCG events going to be a focal point. I’ll be attending far more PPTQs than SCG IQs now, especially given the recent changes to the SCG Tour system. The wife has given me the green light to attend more Grand Prix. I’m looking at attending no fewer than four next year, which may not seem like a lot, but for someone with a family, it is. We are going full nose-to-the-grindstone here.
Now I know that I mentioned that I wouldn’t be making goals for 2017, but these will be in the back of my head.
-Cash a Grand Prix
-Compete in another RPTQ
With the resources I have, I should be able to do these things. I’m tired of seeing other people do well. Not that I’m not happy for others, but it’s my time to shine. There’s no more “next year.” This is our time. It has to be. I’m not getting any younger, and my free time isn’t increasing any time soon. I’ve accepted the fact that I will probably never again have an entire week to prepare for an event unhindered or unbothered. I have to make this work. I will make this work.
This past weekend, I decided to play in an IQ. I’m all queued up, and December is a very busy month for us, but because my wife is amazing, I was able to sneak out on a Saturday afternoon and sling some cardboard. Up until my PPTQ win, I was all about the Flash. Deck was fun, well positioned, I honestly thought it was the best deck in the format, even though everyone else was saying the same about Delirium. Personally, I was no worse than 50% against Delirium in the matches that I had played, so I felt that I was just playing the best deck, as the other decks like vehicles and older Marvel builds couldn’t hang with me.
However, after the Open, GPs, and Invitational, I got to thinking that maybe Flash wasn’t good anymore with these new Aether Work decks becoming more and more popular. I narrowed my choices down to either Mardu Vehicles or the new Esper Flash list developed in Japan, and taken to the Invitational and showcased by Team Metagame Gurus. I decided that I wanted to play Unlicensed Disintegration, along with a manabase that never came into play tapped before turn three. I’ve been burned by Port Town and Prairie Stream in the past, and I wanted to try a more advantageous manabase.
I took Matt Severa’s first place list from GP Denver:
Without ever having played a game with this deck before, I had some changes I wanted to make, but felt that my inexperience with the deck merited me just playing the same 75 Matt Severa did well with.
It was a 25-ish person event, so five rounds cut to top eight. In the swiss rounds, ended up playing against 2 Esper Aggro decks, 1 Black Red Aggro, and 1 Red White Vehicles. I went 3-1 in the swiss, losing my round 2 match in three games to Black Red Aggro. This is where me never playing with Scrapheap Scrounger and Cultivator’s Caravan before hurt me. I misjudged a racing situation, where if I had just attacked over three turns with my Scrapheap Scrounger, I probably would have won, but instead, I attacked with my Cultivator’s Caravan, which exposed it to a kill spell, which left me off of Black mana, which meant I could never buyback my Scrapheap Scrounger. My deck punished my stupidity by mana flooding me so I couldn’t get back into the game.
We were able to draw in round 5 to lock top eight, and lost to Black Green Aggro in the top eight. That deck feels a lot harder to beat for Mardu Vehicles than the straightforward Delirium list, because they gum up the board with better creatures, so instead of just one-for-oneing you like the Delirium deck deck, they are just keeping you from attacking and threatening to swing at you with bigger tramplers.
I also sideboarded incorrectly mostly all day. I learned as I went throughout the day, but at first, I was treating the deck like the Red White Vehicles deck, so I boarded out a lot of one-drops earlier in the day when I shouldn’t have. Those creatures are integral, because you need to be able to crew your Caravans on the regular, as opposed to not really needed creatures to crew a Fleetwheel Cruiser.
In the end, I was a big fan of the deck, and I would consider continuing to play it for the rest of this season until Aether Revolt. I do like the sideboard plan, and the manabase is real sweet, so you can really tune the sideboard and maindeck to have almost any card you want to play with. The deck is also capable of some stupidly explosive draws, which is how I beat my second Esper opponent.
Mardu Vehicles was definitely the right choice, and I’m super glad I didn’t play the esper list. I think if I am personally going to be playing a Scrapheap Scrounger deck in the future, I want to be playing it in a deck with some vehicle that has “Crew 3” written somewhere on it, because being able to buyback the Scrounger from the graveyard to crew a vehicle to block is a real thing, and makes this probably the best Scrapheap Scrounger deck in Standard.
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