I found this in my Google Drive today. It is incomplete. Eternal Weekend is too far in the past for me to attempt to finish this report with the same quality I started it. I hope it is still enjoyable. After this sentence, no changes have been made to the content since it was written in early November 2016.
This is not a tournament report. This is a report on the weekend as a whole. My notes from the tournaments are sparse. Most of the Magic content here is the highlights.
T-1 Day until Eternal Weekend
I text Ben. The tournament starts in less than 48 hours and I’m going to audible both of my decks. I ask him if he can lend me Shops. He asks what version I want. I tell him that I don’t care and that I’ll be able to pilot Shops reasonably well regardless. He presses saying he’d rather I play the deck that I want to play. I send him a decklist from Eternal Weekend Europe. I message my MtG GroupMe asking for the cards I’m missing for Tin Fins. Between Ben and Patrick, I’ve got everything I need.
Ben arrives to our testing meetup and hands me a deck box. He’s put together the entire list I sent him, in the order it was in, including proxies for the power and extra sleeves for the cards he doesn’t have. Patrick arrives not long after and hands me the rest of the cards that I was missing. Neither of them gives me a speech about being careful with their cards or what will happen if they’re lost or damaged.
I love the Vintage community.
Tuesday night was a mistake. I had planned on going to bed around 10PM, quite early for me. At 11 PM, I texted my roommate to go grab some shitty Mexican food. He was on a hot streak in Overwatch so we didn’t end up leaving the house until a bit after midnight. Instead of a snack to fill me up, I ended up with a full meal and two of the strongest margaritas I’ve ever had. I don’t know what time we left but I assume it was some time after one. Fortunately, the tequila lubricated my slide into sleep and destroyed whatever nervous energy I had.
Will swears this was an accident. He’s convinced it must be some bug. For some strange reason his phone didn’t wake him up to drive me to the airport and didn’t ring the several times I called and texted him. Whatever. I take two Advil and summon an Uber. A nice lady in her fifties drives me to the airport in a brand new Mercedes SUV. For the first time this year, my Uber driver does not get lost on the way to the airport. I’m running behind schedule but I’ll definitely make my flight.
The couple in front of me in the security line has very clearly not flown since 9/11. After three attempts to get them to remove the necessary items from their persons to go through the millimeter scan machine, the TSA agent tells them they’re both going to be patted down. Niether seems to mind. I’m just happy they’ll be out of the way soon. Their carryon gets flagged as suspicious. An agent unzips the bag, opens the package in the middle, and smiles. He takes a deep whiff. “Hey $x-ray-agent, now you know what tamales look like on the X-Ray!” I smile and rush off to my gate, putting on a belt at a jogging pace and cursing the people who are standing still on the moving walkway as if it were a ride at some awful amusement park.
I arrive at my gate as boading is about to begin. Some people would say that’s perfect timing. It’s the first time in years I’ve not begun a Magic flight with a bloody mary. I snatch a row seat, greedily occupy an overhead bin with my small bag, and put on Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works. I’m asleep before wheels up.
Chicago’s Midway Airport is an interesting beast. It’s a big city airport but it’s not the big city’s airport. The buisnessmen always seem just a little bit disgusted by the casual travelers like me. Maybe they’re redirecting their anger at the fact that I’m on vacation and they’re not. The people watching today is excellent. Northwestern University, just outside of Chicago, is playing at The Ohio State University on Saturday. Michigan is playing at Michigan State. The hardcore fans are already en route. There’s also a group of intimidating young women that I later learned was the hockey team for some small school I can’t recall. I grab some McDonald’s and scarf it down in time to repeat my get-on-board-get-to-sleep routine.
You know that little gap between the jetway and the aircraft? Too frequently, that little gap is a harbinger of doom for me. As I deplane, I’m about halfway up the jetway and I’m already feeling cold. It was 85 when I left Houston. My phone later tells me it’s in the mid-sixties here. Flip flops and a thin hoodie were a mistake.
I head straight for the pickup area to hop in another Uber. Is it just me or do a disproportionately large number of Uber cars have standard transmissions? The driver is chatty. He asks a question about how I got to the airport that genuinely confuses me. He tells me about his trip to Houston. Yea, NASA is great. We run out of things to talk about as we get on the freeway.
I arrive at my hotel, drop off my bags, and pull up a map to the Old School venue. It’s about a mile walk and I haven’t changed into something warmer yet. But I’m a cheapass (who just traveled hundreds of miles to play with thousands of dollars worth of cards) so I decide to hoof it.
The Old School Tournament
I walk in and I immediately know that this is where I want to be. To be clear, I don’t mean that I found the place that I was looking for. That was easy. This is where I want to be. Sure the Eternal Weekend venue is open but this is Old School! There’s rows of tables strewn with tens of thousands of dollars in cards. Oh and beer - lots of beer. Interestingly, most of the beer is on the tables. Because what’s life without a little risk?
I find Sean Obrien and watch as he finishes his match. He shows me to the bar and introduces me to some of the [in]famous Team Tusk. It’s just before 5 PM and I acquire my first alcoholic beverage of the weekend; an in-house-brewed Marzen that’s good but not great. The next round begins and Sean leaves me and the other Tusks who aren’t playing behind. We shoot the shit a bit. As much as people give them shit or think that they’re assholes, the Tusks are cool dudes.
Patrick calls me. The players from my local store want to know if I’m in town yet. I am. When will I be at the venue? I won’t. Why not? I’m at the Old School event. There’s beer. Patrick mulls this over. He’s thinking of playing in a prelim with the rest of the local crew. He says he’ll probably come to the Old School tournament after that, if it’s not already quite late.
Fifteen minutes later, Patrick arrives. I walk him to the bar and he orders the same Marzen. His thoughts on it echo mine. After a couple sips, he looks around at the Magic being played and the people I’ve introduced him to. This is also where Patrick wanted to be. He just didn’t know it yet.
I meet Randy Buehler and he signs an Eternal Warrior. He’s quite amused by my card choice. I meet Stephen Menendian and he signs my Gushes. He pushes the Gush book on me even after I insist that I’ve already read it. He says he recognizes my voice. I introduce myself and he says, “Oh why didn’t you introduce yourself!” As it turns out, this happens a lot this weekend. Apparently I’m internet famous. Steve immediately follows up with, “Please don’t sell your power.” I give what becomes my standard explanation for the weekend. Something about how I love Magic but my life situation would be greatly improved by a large influx in cash right now.
A handful of other friends arrive. We grab a table for dinner. We consume at least as many calories of beer as we do food. We watch the tournament end. This is great. This is why people love eternal Magic.
Koby doesn’t want to walk back home. He gives me a Lyft referral code. My next ten rides will each be $5 off. Our driver gets a little confused and takes a roundabout way to the hotel. Lyft charges seventy-seven cents to my Visa.
AD: If you would like a Lyft referral code, mine is SAM51400 . If you would like an Uber referral code, mine is xpd86 . Both of these will get both of us some number of discounted/free rides.
Back at the hotel, Koby and I shoot the shit a bit. I agree to take the first shower, mostly because it further reduces the likelihood that I’ll be late.
I wake, shower, and fully dress in a haze. The sun isn’t out yet. The only time I wake up with the sun down is when an afternoon nap runs late. Koby wakes up as I’m getting dressed. He’s annoyingly chipper and ready to face the day. We stop in a diner a few blocks from the hotel. Its sign says bagel shop but they don’t have lox. Koby is amused by my choice of caffeine - a Diet Coke.
We arrive at the venue and our hotelmates are already there. Some of my Houston friends see me and join us. I grab a handful of deck registration sheets and we all get our decks registered. I really enjoy the nervous energy that comes right about now. Everything is ready. Decks are sleeved and registered. Not much can go wrong now but there’s the slightest feeling that it might.
Koby and I head to the VIP area to claim our VIP merch. The playmats haven’t made it in time. They’ll be shipping them for free if they don’t make it by Saturday. While I’m annoyed by the delay, I have to give credit to CardTitan for making it right before someone told them to. I hope they’re sticking WotC with the bill for shipping.
A woman in a wheelchair complains about the accessibility of the VIP room. She says she, “almost died getting up here.” I can see the elevator from where I’m standing. Either she didn’t see it or the elevator has a tiger in it. I consider pointing it out in case it’s the former but decide that I don’t need to be yelled at this early in the morning if I’m wrong.
The 2016 North American Vintage Championship
My Decklist <- That's a link. Click it.
I’m sitting across from Kevin Cron for the player meeting. I introduce myself but he doesn’t know who I am. I tell him I’m a fan of the podcast and we talk about that a bit. He offers to show me a physical copy of the Gush book. I laugh and tell him Steve already showed me yesterday. He wishes me luck and we head to our first round.
Round 1 - Brian DeMars with Odd Oath
I don’t know what it is but I have fantastic luck at getting paired against big names early in big tournaments. Game one I lock him out early and hard. My lifepad shows him going to 19, then 18, then 17 off of attacks from Spirit tokens. He concedes and we move to game two.
Game two, he gets an Oath off and fights my hate. I take ten damage from Ancient Tomb and another two from a hardcast Auriok Salvagers. Then Void Winnower comes out. On to game three.
Game three, I live the hateful dream. I cast and activate a Jester’s Cap on turn one. I take a Grisselbrand and a Void Winnower. I pull out the Spellbomb in case I don’t find the Auriok Salvagers. As I’m going through the deck again, Brian lets me know that those are the only two creatures left in the deck. I appreciate him letting me know to save time and the implied sportsmanship that he’s not trying to “get” me on me missing a card in his deck.
We have a solid back and forth game. I get him low but he lands a Jace, the Mindsculptor and starts ticking up. He’s low on life and primarily using Cities of Brass. I use Inventor’s Fair to find a Fleetwheel Cruiser to bash Jace with. It eats a Nature’s claim. He wins of a Jace ultimate at two life. I lost the game with a whopping eighteen on the score sheet.
After the game, Brian asks if I’d like to talk about the match. Again, I appreciate this. Some players will launch into a “you should’ve xyz…” which, especially after winning, is poor sportsmanship. He tells me that I should’ve gotten a Phyrexian Revoker and named Jace. He points out that his only mana sources were costing him life and he would not have been able to cast his remaining artifact destruction from two life. I thank him for the information and we wish each other luck.
Round 2 - Steve with Dredge
Game one I open with a turn one Lodestone Golem. Even a deck that doesn’t cast most of its threats have trouble dealing with a 5/3. His life total goes from twenty to fifteen to three to zero.
Game two goes much the same. After having beat Dredge in the early-losers bracket, I’m hoping I won’t face it again.
Round 3 - David with Dredge
David mulligans to one card. I’m still not all the way awake so I don’t realize what that means until he starts attempting to Dredge. But keeping one card and not having it be Bazaar of Baghdad is tough. I make quick work of him.
Game two, I have a quick Lodestone Golem again but it’s no match for what eventually becomes an army of zombies.
Game three, I have all the hate. My notes are sparse but my life total not changing indicates that it was not a fair fight.
It is at this point that I will mention that I have no idea what you’re supposed to name with Phyrexian Revoker against Dredge. This weekend, I named Abandon Hope once and Sarpadian Empires, Vol. VII several times.
Round 4 - Jarvis Yu with ???
I recognize the name but think nothing of it. Jarvis is happy to fill me in. While exchanging pleasantries during shuffling, we have the following conversation:
Me: So what deck are you playing in Legacy tomorrow?
Jarvis: I top 8’d the last legacy GP with Lands.
Me: Cool. What deck are you playing tomorrow?
I don’t remember much about the match because that interaction stuck in my head. In the whole match, my life total never went below 19.
At some point, I crew for two instead of three with Skysovereign, Consul Flagship. I tap another creature and hit him. It’s not optimal but it’s fine. After the match, he points out that he could’ve called a judge and gotten me a warning for crewing incorrectly. This whole encounter has left a bad taste in my mouth.
Round 5 - Gerald with Shops
Again, my notes are sparse and my memory doubly so. Game one, he hit me once for five. I did another eight to myself with the help of Ancient Tombs. He died to three combat steps that dealt one, eight, and eleven damage to him.
Game two, my deck does what Shops decks are built to do. At my peak, I had four spehere effects in play. He eventually gets locked under Tangle Wire. I have the pleasure of marking a damage from Mana Vault on him when his deck is so Wastelanded that he can no longer untap it.
Gerald played Foundry Inspector which was kind of neat. However, by the time it was in play, it was reducing his artifacts to +2 cost and I was fairly far ahead.
At one point, I have two Tangle Wires out. I sacrifice one to fading when I could’ve tapped it to the other Tangle Wire. He points out my perceived error. I tell him that in cases like these, where tapping something else doesn’t hurt me, I tap something else because it’s less confusing to people who aren’t familiar with Shops. I’m sure there’s some tiny sliver of a way that this is wrong and I trust that the Internet will do its best to inform me.
This is now the best I have ever done in a major tournament. My previous best was 3-3 at Grand Prix New Jersey 2014.
Round 6 - Hiromichi Ito with Car Shops
Game one: Hit you for four. Hit you for nine. Kill you.
Games two and three: I can’t keep up with the number of cars he has. This guy’s garage is insane.
This is now the farthest into any Magic tournament I have ever been.
Round 7 - Ryan with White Eldrazi
Almost no notes. This was a beating. Ryan never did any damage to me and I only did four to myself.
Round 8 - Josh with Big Blue
Game one has solid back and forth with me victorious. Game two, he has a 2/X and a Deathrite Shaman and I can deal with neither. Game three my life pad shows him going from twenty to fifteen to match end.
Standing around with my friends, a few of us are on the bubble for winning some prize money. Koby should be able to draw into top 8. A friend has been parsing the standings from after round seven and is pretty sure he can make it. An announcement indicates that standings for after round eight are up. I pull them up and Koby is in 4th. I pass him the phone and say congratulations.
Round 9 - Kevin with Shops
Game one he has a quick Lodestone Golem and I don’t get much going.
Game two is long and drawn out. I gain life off of Inventor’s Fair when I lack the mana to activate it. He gets as low as one before gaining his way back to nineteen and defeating me.
Someone once said that if you lose after getting your opponent to one, you did something wrong. I don’t take any time to consider it as I’m quite happy with a 6-3 record, by far the best record I’ve ever achieved.