Some Favorite Tournament Magic Memories

Published: 04/23/2022

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:

Deterministic Win

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 image, 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:

  1. First player has double Handmaid, they Handmaid.
  2. Second player has double Baron so they have to Baron the third player who has princess.
  3. 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 image to cast Maverick Thopterist image and then my Thoptorist to cast Elder Deep-Fiend image. 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:

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.

Ensnaring Bridge

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 image I wasn't conceding. My opponent upkeep topped a card with Academy Ruins image 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' [1] 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 image and he makes a big show of counting all my lands (7) and then casting Logic Knot image for X=7. I pay, since he didn't count my Ornithopter image + Springleaf Drum image. After a moment of confusion he shrugs and uses his left over mana to cast Cryptic Command image. 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 [2] 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.


Travel and Food

[1] his nickname for himself

[2] 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.