Some Favorite Tournament Magic Memories
Writing out these stories I realize I won almost all of them. Sorry, these are my favorite mtg memories, not my most representative memories. Rest assured I mostly lost.
Biking to Monterey
I alluded to this story at the end of my last nostalgia post. Living in Mountain View as an intern at Palantir during the summer of 2015 there was a PPTQ at Mythic Games in Monterey I wanted to play. Unfortunately I didn't have a car and all my coworkers were busy that weekend getting married and doing taxes or whatever full timers do. I joked with my roommate I would just bike. It's about 80 miles with a small mountain in between.
That Saturday I board gamed until around 3 am and when I got home my roommate was reading Manga on his phone and he snarkily asked "so are you going to bike"? So I did! I put on Google maps, got on my bike and went. The navigation said it would take about 8 hours but I usually aimed to beat it by 25% so I figured getting there in 6.5 hours for the 10 am start would be no problem. I got pretty worried biking up the mountain but I made it all up going down. And when I got there I learned it actually started at noon so I had all the time in the world to paper towel myself off in a Chipotle bathroom.
To be honest the whole experience is sort of a blur. Maybe because of the sleep deprivation. But some things I do remember:
- I spent some time trying to hitch a ride whenever a car passed me on a country road. At some point a man in a pick up truck did stop and took me 3 miles before he had to go a different way. I think he tried to talk me out of continuing.
- My phone died and I had no idea how to get there so I stopped in a convenience store and charged it for 20 minutes.
- I won the tournament.
- Someone agreed to give me a ride back to Mountain View but my bike didn't fit in their car so I ubered. The prize and uber were both $150 so the day was a wash.
Round one of SCG Baltimore 2017 I played against Seth Manfield I was on affinity and he was on Burn. After a flurry of spells we got to the following position:
It's such a funny position. Neither of us can ever cast another spell. Neither of us can attack (I can chump with inkmoth and then kill with memnite). But eventually I will draw blinkmoth nexus , play it, attack and win. Seth concedes. I don't think I've ever had another position before or since where I was winning or losing deterministically but the game could have lasted another 45 turns.
Bonus Related Love Letter Story
I once played a three turn, three player love letter game that went:
- First player has double Handmaid, they Handmaid.
- Second player has double Baron so they have to Baron the third player who has princess.
- Third player draws prince for turn so they must prince themselves.
Game of skill. (Also this is one of the rare losses I'm sharing. I was the Baron)
Back in Spring 2017 an idea came to me like lightning and I could not escape but by making it reality: What if I used Key to the City to cast Maverick Thopterist and then my Thoptorist to cast Elder Deep-Fiend . So I threw together the sickest deck I've ever played and had minor success at PPTQs, mtgo PTQs and some GP in Texas. Some memories of playing the deck:
- After some middling success PPTQs which somehow didn't shake my confidence (it wasn't that bad. I want to say I lost a win and in at Versus Games and lost in the quarters at Anime Imports) I won the Channel Fireball PPTQ. Funnily enough my friend Greg, who I did the great disservice of convincing my deck was great, put it together and went to a smaller PPTQ the same day a 100 miles away because "you're going to win the cfb PPTQ". Thanks for the confidence buddy.
- After I won the PPTQ Josh Silveresti, the head judge for the event, wrote an article in which he described my deck as "so off the radar I had to double check we hadn't accidentally sanctioned a Sealed event". Luckily I got the last laugh when we got paired a few weeks later after the season reset and I bopped him round 4 while he was on Temur Marvel (a good match up for Improverge, just like all of them). Afterwords I said "Had to check it wasn't a sealed deck huh" and he said "I just call them like I see them". Which to be honest is a little fair.
- I lost in the quarters of an mtgo PTQ after Amonkhet came out (Also shout out to my friend Jacob who beat me round 4 but tragically died in the semis). After this SCG picked up my deck for a versus video against Temur. Unfortunately I can't find a link. This caused Sam Pardee and Matt Nass to try my deck for one game on stream. Despite Pardees reservations Nass got the cards and played one match of a league. After losing Pardee said "The deck is bad. Heinously bad. So so bad. How did anyone ever win a game with this deck?". Though I'd say they played the match badly. I would have won.
- One last story about the deck: someone found my previous blogger blog and commented on my Bomat Courier Post (Mailman Jesus!) asking for advice about playing the deck. Unfortunately google didn't give me an email so I didn't see it until much later. I couldn't save him!
All or Nothing
At the finals of every PTQ and PPTQ I found myself in I offered my opponent the all or nothing split. Almost always I had to clarify that I wanted the winner to get the invite AND the doodads. It was only accepted one time by the legend himself Allen Wu at a 2015 14 person PPTQ at first aid comics, Hyde Park, Chicago. He was on mono red and I was on mono black. He had just beaten me in a dozen practice games before the top 4 and he was like "are you sure?" but I came for glory, not packs. He beat me once again, but it's okay, I didn't want those packs anyway.
The only other memorable PPTQ final split was at Anime Imports, I was on Affinity, my opponent, Jason, was on Jund. I asked for a ride home (I had biked from Mountain View, a beautiful ride to the ocean) and Jason agreed so it only seemed polite to allow the prize split he preferred. Or not quite, he wanted all or nothing the other way but I wanted $200-$400 so even if I won I could buy some board games. I then lost and spent my $400 store credit on board games. I still have that Set of Carcasonne but just the loose tiles because it was too bulky. The other games I later sold in a move.
Round 13 of GP Dallas 2016 I was playing affinity against lantern control. As is often the case in that match up I had an unwinnable game but it was going to take my opponent a while to beat me. Being an Obstinate Baloth I wasn't conceding. My opponent upkeep topped a card with Academy Ruins and then forgot to draw! I didn't notice until he realized and called a judge on MY turn. The judge ruled he should draw the card then and play continued from there. So I attacked him for ~100. I'm surprised my opponent didn't appeal or something because it seems reasonable to maybe rewind to his turn. Also Sam Pardee was sitting next to my opponent and asked the judge if he was sure it was the right ruling after my opponent snap conceded.
Playing Kevin Jones
Round 12 of the modern leg of GP Las Vegas 2017 (wow I guess this is the year everything happened) I got paired against Kevin 'Daddy'  Jones. He's on Jeskai control and I'm on affinity. I won game one but things are looking pretty bad game 2. I'm playing off the top and he has at least four cards in hand. I'm not conceding because I want to win. I cast an Arcbound Ravager and he makes a big show of counting all my lands (7) and then casting Logic Knot for X=7. I pay, since he didn't count my Ornithopter + Springleaf Drum . After a moment of confusion he shrugs and uses his left over mana to cast Cryptic Command . At the end of the game he said "I may have messed up some of the details but I think I played the game strategically perfectly" to which I said "the devils in the details". I was blessed with a nut draw game 3 to win the match.
Zack's PPTQ Win
Back when I was biking 100s of miles  to random PPTQs I inspired my friend Zack to bike from SF to San Jose for a CFB PPTQ (the season after the one I won). The only problem was he thought it was Saturday instead of Sunday. I remember him texting me at 10 am Saturday asking if I was going and I was like "yeah" not realizing he was already there.
Luckily he had a great day. He got an airbnb, made friends with another guest, went to some gardens. Then the next day he won the tournament. I think he wanted it more than everyone else there. My one regret of the day is Zack beat me in the semis so I wasn't able to offer him an all or nothing split.
- At an FNM I cast Brimstone Volley and flashback Increasing Vengeance with Goblin Electromancer and Guttersnipe in play in response to Thragtusk . It sticks in my mind because I thought for a second with Thragtusk on the stack and my opponent said "Does it resolve" very snarkily.
- Tangent: Brimstone Volley is my favorite magic card. So many good memories of my opponent being at five and knowing I was going to win but still had a puzzle to solve.
- Casting Unsummon in response on my Guttersnipe in response to Liliana of the Veil 's Minus.
- At an mtg card market weekly I 3-1ed with Signal the Clans . The idea was to tutor up Pestermite , Deceiver Exarch , and Bounding Krasis . Along with a sweet package of tutorable creatures. They should unban Splinter Twin but with the stipulation that you have to play Signal the Clans .
- Playing same deck storm in between rounds at GPs. The key is to fetch the Underground Sea s first.
- After a midnight prerelease continuing to play magic at 3am until we were kicked out.
- Playing online I swear I played a match (round 7 of a PTQ) where my opponent kicked Fight with Fire SEVEN times. I lost. Mirari Conjecture and Into the Roil really did a number on me.
- Playing mental magic after GP Columbus with Allen's Urza deck and slowly realizing that every card was correct to play as itself.
- Playing storm against living end round 1 game 2 of a PTQ my opponent goes Leyline of the Void , Leyline of Sanctity and I go Tormod's Crypt , Tormod's Crypt .
- Top eighting my first constructed PTQ with my UR delver deck and when my more experienced friend was looking through my sideboard he asked "What the heck is Dismember for? I needed outs to Phyrexian Obliterator okay! You never know who's going to show up with that bad boy. I can't just play vapor snag . That's card disadvantage! Side note I think top eighting this event really stunted my development as a magic player and maybe even as a human. It made me think I was a lot better than I was.
- At mtgcardmarket during a feature match I asked if the stream could hear us and my friend/opponent Matt said "No" so I said "then we can say whatever we want" and he said "yeah, I hope you get hit by a bus and all your storm cards burst into flames". But it turned out the stream could hear us.
Travel and Food
- Two days before GP Mexico City Allen realized his passport was at his parent's house. They shipped it and the ETA was just 2 hours before our flight take off. Which in the end meant he got to the terminal too early. Who gets to the airport an hour early?
- Churros at Moro's in Mexico City.
- Tacos at Gordos in Las Vegas. Just incredible.
- Getting Pork Belly sandwiches from whatever that place next to mtg card market was.
- Playing Lost Cities at the Airport after GP Denver.
- Taking a greyhound from Columbus, OH to Toronto.
- Biking to magic tournaments and then asking all my opponents if they could give me a ride home. Some rides that stick in my mind:
- Mountain View to Dublin. I did this one like 3 times. You go over the Dunbarton bridge and over Diablo Mountain. Really beautiful. The first time it rained really hard for like half an hour and I bought these really nice socks from the performance sports shop next to the game store. Another time biking back around midnight a very small white fluffy dog chased after me and I thought I was going to have to fight this small animal for my life but it gave up.
- Berkeley to San Carlos. This one stands out in my mind because it had rained a lot recently and the trail Google took me on was muddy. I had to carry my bike for about two miles. When I got to the end of the trail I learned the park I was going through actually closes at nightfall and I had to scale a fence with my bike to get out onto a road.
- San Carlos to San Rafael. Beautiful ride through SF and over the Golden Gate bridge. I remember one neighborhood smelled like chocolate.
- Mountain View to Pacifica. The moment when you crest the mountain and can see the water is spectacular.
 his nickname for himself
 Okay the most I ever did was 80. I was on my way to one that would have taken 100 but I got a flat 50 miles in so had to uber the rest of the way and Bart back.