On the Grind – Everyday We Hustlin’


*Everyday We Hustlin’*

Any real hustler knows that if you are truly on the grind you don’t quit. Though my “hustle” may not have me associating with the rappers or drug dealers of pop culture’s “hustling” definition, any aspiring Magic pro knows that this isn’t easy and when we do work, we do work.

Kanye said, “We gonna keep bakin’ till the day we get cake.” That means until you reach your goal, you can’t stop hustling. [Is that really what he means by “bakin'”? –Riki] Just because the season is over, doesn’t mean it’s time for me to stop grinding Extended. Since the Magic Online Championship Series was announced, I made it my goal try to make Magic Online Extended Player of the Year. This week, I came one step closer to that goal and reached another small one in the process.

I must say that this past week of Extended Daily Events has truly been a grind. I’ve stayed awake too late and woken up too early just to cross my fingers and hope that the one event of the day will fire and I’ll get a shot at three more Qualifier Points (QPs). Day after day after morning after night I would wait for the events to fire” 18. Event was cancelled by administrator. 9. Event was cancelled by administrator. 23! Event was cancelled by administrator. Etcetera, so on and so forth. Until Tuesday” We got there, gentlemen. Step one is complete. Off the back of Extended events alone, I am qualified for the Season One Magic Online Championship (plus one extra point from the one lucky Standard queue I played in).

I know that getting the necessary 15 QPs to play in the Season Championship may not sound like a lot. It’s really not a lot considering that the leader in the Overall Player of the Year race had 52 as of last week. But I’m proud of this feat. The leader got the majority of his points from Standard events, of which there are at least two, sometimes three every day. Other players on the leader board have points from Sealed events which fire off with the same frequency and Drafts which fire multiple times per hour. I’m not saying I could take the number one overall slot if I wanted. My Standard game isn’t nearly up to par and I haven’t drafted AAC since the Superstars release event. Those are entirely different grinds all their own. All I’m saying is my hot 15 are all from grinding the same format, with the same deck. Speaking of which, this is the perfect segue to”

*Brilliant Minds*

One thing that I always find interesting about the MTG World is that despite the fact the Internet provides quick and perfect information on decks and tech and lists and everything, the guy who gets his name on the deck is only and always the one who wins something with it. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but sometimes it seems unfair to the people who have been playing the same deck or tech all along.

Everyone’s favorite, friendly neighborhood Matt Nass put some tweaks and spin on Pierre Canali’s [card]Reveillark[/card] + [card]Knight Captain of Eos[/card] deck from the Pro Tour: Berlin grinder and took it to an event at Superstars. Though Matt Nass didn’t win the whole shebang, he felt his innovations deserved some credit. One could only imagine how peeved our little friend Matt was when not a month later, Brian Kowal won a Magic Cruise Qualifier with the newly dubbed “Kowal’s Boat Brew.”

I always countered, “It was Pierre Canali’s deck first though, wasn’t it?”

Matt replied, “It was, but I made it different.” Matt felt that his changes and innovations were significant enough to give him credit for the new design, not Kowal.

I never understood how Matt really felt until this past Sunday. Tomoharu Saito wins his second Grand Prix in a row with the same Naya Zoo deck. Only, it’s not the same deck. A little snippet from the event coverage”

“What deck did you play?
Name: Super Naya Zoo (aka Knight Zoo)
Designer: Myself
Notable Features: I succeeded in metagaming against all the best metagame decks.”

Interesting. Designed completely by himself. He, himself, succeeded in metagaming against all the best metagame decks. Interesting”

I’m not going to take credit for the addition of Ranger of Eos to the already potent Naya Zoo deck. I concede that to Bill Stark, and he can claim it or concede it as he sees fit. At the same time, I’m not trying to say that Saito didn’t come up with this list all on his own or that these weren’t his original ideas. Not at all. Saito is a very nice guy (and has a heck of a trade binder!) But take a look at the MTGO Top Eight Decks from an Extended Daily Event on April 1, 2009. Does the third place list look at all familiar? Ya, That same deck that I’ve been grinding with and earning QPs with all month was essentially “Saito’s” Reliquary Zoo deck.

I’m not going to argue whose list is better (it’s hardly an argument if you ask me. Hahaha). Knight of the Reliquary should have been played over Woolly Thoctar since Woolly Thoctar was even thought of as an inclusion. 1) It’s easier to cast. 2) It is almost always at least a 4/4 on turn three which 2a) in the mirror does the same thing as a Thoctar (take down 3/4 Tarmogoyf’s, force two-for-ones with burn spells and small guys, eat Path to Exile, trade with Thoctar). 3) Past turn three, it has the potential to be much bigger than a Thoctar, let alone any other creature on any side of the board. 4) It is much more versatile and allows a more skilled Zoo player to do such things as mana tricks to cast four-mana spells with three lands or thin out a deck in the late game to rip the necessary sequence of kill spells.

It’s true that I didn’t run it in my PTQ Top 8 list, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t think about it. Heck, someone else probably thought of it before me. Regardless, I’m not going to try to turn this into a pissing contest on who thought of what first. It doesn’t matter who came up with it first, just as long as you know it works! Even though you might not always get credit for ideas you think were yours, and Matt Nass, this is for you, sometimes you just have to be happy and take solace in the fact that sometimes great minds think alike.

*Ready to Brew*

On the subject of lists, more and more recently I’ve found myself in the middle of a conversation that goes something like”¦

“Hey Jeremy, what are you playing for Standard?” or “Hey Jeremy, what do you think is good in Standard?”

To which I reply, “I’ve been drinking Extended for the past half-a-year. Standard isn’t really my cup of tea, at the moment. Besides, we should probably wait until the last set (Alara Reborn) has been spoiled and released before you set your heart to anything.”

As of the time of this article, Alara Reborn has been completely spoiled. Everyone has an opinion about spoilers, whether it be, “I hate them because I love the surprise of the new pack,” or “I love them because I want to destroy everyone I play at the Prerelease this weekend!” Personally, I love spoilers because they always inspire me Constructed-wise. Whether it be improving existing decks, reviving dead archetypes, or piecing together completely new, original lists, all of the above are made possible when new cards are injected into the pool. The following is a small rundown of what I think of a few of the notable cards from Alara Reborn.

Anathemancer = Price of Progress on a stick! I can’t wait to see 5-Color get burned by this guy.

Dauntless Escort seems really good. I’m just not sure where he fits, exactly, or if he fits at all.

Meddling Mage is great, but he’s (or now she’s) not going to be as great as everyone thinks.

Mind Funeral might push that stupid blue Mill deck over the top. Or it could be just another tease at the potential for a good Mill deck.

Sigil Captain could very well be Ajani Goldmane on crack.

Wall of Denial could potentially be more annoying than Wall of Reverence. [Here comes the firestorm from Potes. -Riki]

I have a very strange feeling someone is going to discover a way to completely break Time Sieve in Vintage.

Terminate won’t completely overtake Terror. Why? Three words: Burrenton. Forge. Tender.

Thought Hemorrhage will from now on be referred to as “Thought Hemorrhoids” because it’s just funnier. That said, Thought Hemorrhoids is obviously Cranial Extraction reincarnate. The thing is, if I remember correctly, Cranial Extraction wasn’t even –that- good the first time around.

Still not sure about Blitz Hellion. Willing to err on the side of “no.”

“The four-mana cascade elf is clearly redic.” Though Chapin mentioned Bloodbraid Elf and cascade being crazy first, I’m giving credit for that one to you, Matt Nass.

Spellbreaker Behemoth, oh I wish you did more than just be fat.

Behemoth Sledge isn’t the second coming of Armadillo Cloak. It might be better, but it’s likely worse.

Qasali Pridemage is obviously one of the best cards in the set. And it’s common!

Lord of Extinction + Mayael’s Aria = I just broke the format!

Cerodon Yearling + Knight of New Alara + a BUNCH of other Standard weenies = I wish I could play an Extended Legal manabase for fun.

Maelstrom Pulse isn’t Vindicate, but it’ll definitely do.

Between Lavalanche and Thraximundar, I’m not sure if Wizards is getting too simple or too weird with their card names.

Giant Ambush Beetle? I guess it’s too simple.

Zealous Persecution = the BW Token mirror just got a lot more interesting.

Is it me or do the rares seem really underpowered and/or overcosted across the board?

This set looks like it’ll be insanely fun for Limited.

That being said, good luck to everyone playing the Prerelease events this weekend! I unfortunately won’t be able to attend due to prior commitments, but if you aren’t watching the NFL Draft, I highly recommend you go play the Prerelease just because they’re lots of fun.

*We Do Care*

Your feedback is important. It really is. Especially in the forums. If you liked something, let me know! If you thought my article completely sucked, let me know! I want to help improve the overall quality of this site, one article at a time, but I won’t get better if I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. Also, I can’t necessarily keep putting out quality if I don’t know what I’m doing right and what you guys like. So let me know! Post in the forums!

And to help kick things off, here’s a firestarter in honor of Damon Bruce (and Riki).

The Trifecta
1) What is the most underrated card in Alara Reborn? Most overrated?
2) What archetype is gaining the most from Alara Reborn and from what cards?
3) What or who was the biggest steal of the draft this weekend (whether it be your Alara Reborn draft or the NFL Draft!)?

Next week I’ll touch back on the Market Watch and update you on the cards you should be hoarding and dumping on Release Event weekend!


Jeremy Fuentes

*Post Script*

If you can’t really relate to the hustling example or you feel like my usage is just weird, maybe my friend Katt Williams can better explain things. (Parental Advisory – Language.)

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