Patriot Games

Monday, 20 October 2014

You are cordially invited...

I haven’t been here for a while.  I shut up shop on this blog on July 5th 2013 with no intention of returning.  I am glad to see that despite my absence we have had another 5,000 hits since I stopped working on it last year.

This guy was in standard last time I did this...

I am also very aware that a lot of you will be going “who is this guy?” as you have started to play in the last 18 months and have quite possibly never met me.  In answer to that question let me just say I am a guy who has a lot of awesome friends who play magic, some of them are even quite good at it.  At one point I had a lot to do with running MTG in Sheffield and that seemed to go quite well.

The other question which I need to answer as it was asked several times over the past weekend – “So is this you back playing Magic?”  Well not exactly.  I have played games day over the last weekend and enjoyed it managing to come 8th both days with my slightly powered up event deck and enjoyed the games despite my numerous play mistakes and that I ended up with only 22 lands in my deck on Sunday (DOH)!  You won’t be seeing me at PTQs, PPTQs or FNM each Friday (although if Mark Smith will have me it would be good to get the 2HG team back together again).  However, I may drop in for an hour or 2 to play some EDH when I have the time.

Apparently this guy is still not banned in legacy...

So why resurrect a sleeping blog?  Well it seemed the best way to talk about something I hope you are going to be excited about; the Patriot Sheffield Magic Invitational!  Two years ago we held the inaugural one of these and it was a great success.  Last year we had another and that went pretty well too. 

For the uninitiated the Invitational is a special tournament over a weekend, in this case the weekend of 8th – 9th November 2014, where a selection of Magic players in Sheffield are invited to compete to win one of the places on the official Steel City Patriots Magic Team.  On the Saturday there will be 4 rounds of sealed deck play using Khan’s of Tarkir products, followed by 4 rounds of Standard constructed play.  When the scores have been tallied the top 16 will be invited back to play day 2 with 4 rounds of modern followed by 3 rounds of draft and the crowning of the winners.

And Rosewater thought this was a good idea to put back in Standard!

So here is the list of players for the 2014 Patriot Games Sheffield invitational:


This list has been put together by a panel and represents a cross section of the players in Sheffield.  We have a limited number of places and the top 16 from last year along with a number of others auto-qualify.  This year in the same way that the first invitational was run, people have been invited due to their services to Sheffield magic play as it has not been possible to run any qualifying events in 2014.  Hopefully next year we will have some qualifiers again.

Apologies for any dodgy spelling, names were taken from the FNM record books and may not be 100% accurate.  I will have more details for you next week, till then feel free to message me/shout at me on face book.

Friday, 5 July 2013

So long and thanks for all the Merfolk!

I'm sorry there has been no updates to the blog for the last few weeks but I have been very busy with non-magic related things and just not had any time to update it.  There are a number of things which I have to go through and the first of them is this.  On 22nd June we had an Invitational Qualifier where 8 more people qualified for the invitational in October.  Here are the names of those who were successful;

Richard Fuller
Jimmy Wild
Sam Waters 
Ian Picker
Sean Crowley
Thomas Hogg
Matthew Riggall
Steven Pickles

They will be added to the already qualified taking the number to those with invites to 42.  Only 18 more slots to go with 8 of them being up at the final qualifier in September.

I wrote the above a few days ago and things have changed for me since then.  Last year I was fed up and disillusioned with Magic (Delver of Secrets anyone?) and was at the point of giving up.  Following a post I made on facebook to that effect we ended up creating FNM Relax and Elite and that seems to have turned out pretty well.  We also came up with the invitational and the qualifiers to be run this year and that has worked out pretty well too.

However, I was still very aware that I had already reached a point where I would be happy to hang up my cards and walk away from Magic but the fact that it has been something over the last 4 years that Robert and I have done together kept me playing.  As some of you may know Robert has decided to give up Magic and sell all his cards for mostly financial reasons and this turn of events has given me the excuse to do the same.

As a result I am currently in the process of listing a lot of cards and finding out how much they are worth (currently at $7,500 and still a long way to go for me).  Neither of us are really interested in selling things in bits and pieces and we are looking to sell our whole collections to a person or group (if you are interested offers around the £3,000 mark will be considered as my collection seems to be worth in excess of £6,000 - pm me on facebook (instalment plans are possible) and we will talk).

I might have continued to play for a few weeks but with FNM being draft this week and then pre-release next week it seems the best time to stop playing as I really don't want to buy any more cards!

Today is the first anniversary of this blog and we are just over 11,000 hits over the last 12 months which seems pretty cool, I am hoping that someone else might take up the mantle of doing the blog but it will have to move to a new URL as this is tied into my e-mail address.  Thank you all for your support over the last 12 months and making FNM Relax and Sheffield Magic very much a "Thing".  I have had some great time and I fully intend to continue going down the pub on a Friday with you all as I will still be around just not playing Magic at all.

Mark Smith will be taking over the running of FNM Relax as of today as he has done on the few occasions when I have been unable to attend for some reason.  I am truly thankful for all the great friends I have made through Magic and I wish you all the very best in the future - Go wreck 'em dead.

Richard Tinsley 5th July 2013

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Now the Dust has settled

Well that was quite a weekend.  3 Days of Modern Masters (MM) drafts with a fair smattering of Goyfs  opened.  It was a great, fun, format but I don't think I ever got the hang of it and there was too many cards that I went "Oh yeah I want one of those" to really draft properly.

Magic the Gathering is an arms race.  It doesn't matter which format you play; having the most efficient deck with a variety of win conditions and the best card advantage is always the way to go.  Modern Masters has enabled a few more players to get better in Modern by filling in the gaps in their modern collection.  Sadly I don't think it will make any more players play Modern as the cards will just become fantastic trade fodder to those who play standard to get more powerful weapons off of the people who already play Modern and wish to win their own personal arms race.

The most notable thing is that the modern staples NOT in MM have gone up in price as Internet traders are keen to sell the hardest to get cards at greater profit.

Now at $29.99...

On the subject of prices I think the whole Sheffield MTG community would like to say thank you to Jim Freeman and Paul Moore for giving us a great price point for the MM drafts.  Also a big thank you to Justin for coming in early on Friday and running the drafts for us on Friday and Saturday.  Experienced as I am with organised play I know that getting MTG players to do as they are told is slightly more difficult than herding cats.

This ones for you Justin!

 So MM has been and gone and M14 is not quite with us yet.  However the Sheffield Magic bus doesn't rest for a second as on Saturday 22nd June 2013 is the next Patriot Sheffield Invitational Qualifier.

Lets just have a quick recap of who is already on the list of people with invitations;

Robert Tinsley
Andrew Mather
Daniel Cocking
Andy Sims
Mike Boon
Patrick Bateman
John Roberts
James Brook
Diarmuid Verrier
Grzegorz Flis
Fabian Quinn
Stephen Kay
Richard Tinsley
Adam Pollard
Matt Cooper
Owen Debenham 
Matteo Orsini Jones
Steve McAleer
Joe Alexander
John Kay
Chris Parks
Michael Shillitoe
Alistair Kennedy
Andrew Munro
Quinton Lip
Oliver Frith
Ben Pearson
Jordan Woodward
Declan Jones
Lai Chi Yin
Dom Parker
Sam-Luca Rolf
Paul Calver
Luke Southworth

Another 8 places will be decided between the Standard and Swiss tournaments on Saturday 22nd June 2013, leaving only 18 places remaining to be filled.  For those of you who don't know how the Invitational Qualifiers work here is the break down:

There are 2 tournaments - Standard at 10:30 and Modern at 12:30, £5 entry with 2 boosters in the prize pool per person.  The top 4 from each event will earn themselves an Invite to the invitational in October 2013 and the chance to become members of the Steel City Patriots Team 2014.  

Invites will cascade down if those already qualified are in the top 4.  Hopefully I will be back next week if not sooner with more meandering insight into Magic the Gathering.

Random Cryptic Command picture...

FNM Relax will be pauper this week so I expect to see some of those MM commons turning up and the other FNM will be Standard and not block as previously advertised.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Modern Living

So time has been a thing this week, there has just not been enough of it!  As a result this blog will have to be relatively brief and to the point.  I am still considering all of the ramifications of the rules changes announced last week.  I like the idea that you can't kill peoples generals in EDH with a clone spell, I also like the idea that Legendary creatures will be more playable in other formats.  Olivia is going to be a house from July 13th until she rotates out at the end of September.

Fear me mortals!

However the changes this will bring to Modern and Legacy may not be so welcome as the ability to abuse multiple Mox Opals may well show.  As for the change to Planeswalkers I am less than happy with the idea.  I suspect WotC reasoning behind it.  The introduction of the mythic rare in Magic helped to push the Planeswalker cards to new heights.  However, in recent times Planeswalkers have lost their shine somewhat and are not holding their value or seeing play like they once were.  The idea of them being able to exist on both sides of the battlefield at the same time may well push them back into the limelight.

I have a foil one of these, still doesn't make me want to play it...

Anyway before I get side tracked this blog is about Modern Masters which we have been seeing spoilers of all week.  I have great pleasure in announcing that there will be drafts happening next weekend at Patriot Games Sheffield of Modern Masters.  The will begin at 10 am on Friday 7th June 2013 and will fire off as we have a pod of 8.  There will also be a Modern Masters draft at FNM that Friday instead of the normal Return to Ravnica draft.

There will then be pre-arranged drafting of Modern Masters in the Gardner's Rest from 12 midday on Saturday - if you are wanting to take part in these you will need to "book" and give me your money on the Friday at the latest so that I can sort out the product with the shop.  

We will then have more drafting from 11 am on the Sunday at the shop again.  The drafts will cost £15 each and there will be no prize support, however the reduced cost of entry and the many wonderful things inside the boosters more than make up for this.

Please note you will not be able to leave the draft with any product until you have played at least 1 round of draft and the product will remain the property of Patriot Games until that time.  If you drop from a draft you will not be able to enter any further drafts that day.  So if you open a Goyf and a foil goyf you take the foil one and pass the other to the lucky son of a bitch sitting next to you.

A big thank you to Jim and the guys at Patriot for doing us drafts at this reduced rate, we really appreciate it.  I have to be back at work in a few hours so I am off to bed.  Oh one last thing, thanks to all of you as this will undoubtedly take us past the 10,000 hits mark since the blog started last July!

Monday, 20 May 2013

Loading the Silver Bullets...

In case you have not come across the term "Silver Bullet" with regards to card games before I believe an explanation maybe required.  The term Silver Bullet comes from the old Werewolf movies where the only way to kill the wolf man was to shoot him with Silver Bullets.  This makes Silver Bullets a very specific answer to a very specific problem.  This happens in card games all of the time and results in things like Grafdigger's Cage which was supposed to be a silver bullet for Snapcaster Mage/Birthing Pod.

The problem with Silver Bullets is that they tend to be either too good or not good enough.  An example of this is Thragtusk - created as an answer to Snapcaster/Vapor Snag/Unsummon.  It has done such a good job of answering them that no one plays delver in standard and everyone is playing Thragtusk!

WotC have approached their new flagship eternal format of Modern with the Silver Bullet mentality at the forefront in the form of the Ban Hammer.  Following the initial Modern Pro Tour Wizards banned a whole lot of cards in Modern in September 2011, to prevent the turn 2/3 kill scenario of certain decks and the turn 4 Emrakul using 12 post.  Then in December 2011 they banned Wild Nacatl and punishing fire as these were felt to be unbalanced in the format.  We would go on to see more banning in the form of Bloodbraid Elf, Seething Song and Second Sunrise.  Last weekend saw the first Modern GP since Second Sunrise has been banned so Eggs was not on the menu.

The Sun ain't gonna shine anymore.

Magic players abhor  a vacuum and this has made Melira Pod a tier 1 deck and saw 3 of them in the Top 8 of GP Portland.  The question has to be asked if Wizards will now see this as too dominant and  we will see Birthing Pod on the banned list next?

What exactly do you do?  "I combo with Persist!"

One of the other Modern decks of note was Scapeshift - which goes and gets a whole bunch of mountains and kills you with Valakut the molten pinnacle.  Valakut was originally banned in Modern but Wizards decided that as a deck it would be fine.  If Valakut is "fine" I would like them to unban Bitter Blossom and Jace, the Mind Sculptor too.

Die to my mountains of power puny mortal!

Modern is supposed to be the answer to the tricky Eternal format and the Restricted list, but seriously how long do we have to keep paying for the mistakes of Chronicles nearly 20 years ago?  Now, with the imminent release of Modern Masters there is concern as to how much product is actually going to be available in the shops and if there will be any for people to buy.  Also with the 4 cards spoilt so far Tarmagoyf and Dark Confidant are the only ones you actually want to find in a booster and both have been printed as mythic rares.

Patrick's right from now on Bob will be known as Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg. 

Full spoilers do not start till next Monday for Modern Masters but at £6.29 a booster there has to be some concern over the value of the cards and if they are going to get banned as Bloodbraid Elf has already been despite being in the set.

I can't help but feel that the answer is to get rid of the Restricted list and do a massive print run set of Legacy staples and stick with a format which has had all of its teething troubles already.

I'll be back Friday with another blog and FNM this week is Standard, see you then.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Crossing Borders...

The blog has had a funny turn this week.  I started to write a thing about Modern and then was told to expect 2 guest blogs so I kind of stuck it all on the back burner and did nothing.  Now, a little later than I expected here is the first guest blog from the one and only Joe Alexander - enjoy I know I did.


No, not the converted mana cost of my last dragons maze draft, but the time the alarm clock went off on 11th May 2013.  Last season Ian Richardson and myself made the journey to Cardiff to play in an RTR sealed PTQ.  Despite average results a great time was had and we said we would be back.

When word got round of cool trading, a very winnable event and the prospect of a good old road-trip  interest in this season's standard event quickly blossomed and by 6am on the morning of the event we had 13 people heading in cars to Wales. Well we would have if there had not been some technology issues, but by 6.30 we had 12 people heading down to Wales.

I can only report the journey to Wales from the perspective of our car, but highlights included discovering Avril Lavigne on Rob’s Ipod, a rendition of Gangnam style including the riding of an invisible horse and the complete incomprehension of the Welsh language by our resident Malaysian MODO machine Quinton “quinbot” Lip.

Although Quinton was unable to comprehend the need to write every place name twice in a language spoken by next to nobody and the amount of L’s and W’s needed he was able to quickly grasp some of the more bestial rumours put forward about the welsh by the English.

Once at the venue we were able to meet up with the rest off the Sheffield team and get our decks in order. For some members of the team this was easy than for others as Ash had intended to buy some key cards for his deck from a vendor, but ironically the Welsh shop was out of dragons so he spent the 30 minutes before the event trading into a playable deck.

Explaining to the Welsh why our motto is "Winter is coming"!

131 players sat down for round one of the event and after the first round things were pretty even across the team, with success and bad beats in equal measure. At this point things began to go wrong. At the end of round 2 the team regrouped around the room and news started to filter that everyone had ended round 2 with a record of 1-1. The only player who had avoided this was Ian, and Fabian (to nobody's surprise,) was still playing. Ian had found that smashing people in the face with red and green creatures was working as effectively for him as it had for missing team member Jimmy Wild in the month preceding the event.

A crowd began to gather around the only table still playing. Extra turns had been called and the board was close. Team Sheffield's representative, Fabian, playing his humanimator deck had 1 turn to win. With most of his combo in the bin, including an unburial rites and a angel of glory’s rise the odds were against him as he began to flip over cards from his grizzly salvage. A land and 1 of 4 cartel aristocrats in 5 cards.

First card over was a Cartel Aristocrat! 4 cards to show any land card, this would allow Fabian to go infinite and win in extra turns. Second card was a none land,

and the third...

And the fourth...

with encouragement from Rich Fuller Fabian picked up the last card without looking and slammed it onto the table, both he and his opponent knew that if he revealed a land he won the game.

But no. After 4 misses (at odds around 90% of hitting,) Fabian entered the draw bracket.

I feel that I should congratulate Firestorm games at this point. There play space is fantastic, although mainly geared towards tabletop gaming and having a bar at the back of the room is a super touch. It was after round 2 that I had a burger from the BBQ that was out back, and from a player perspective not having to leave the sight for some sustenance was a bonus.

My dreams of top eight (and I must have been dreaming to think I was in with a shot,) ended in round 3 when I was beaten by a stack of bad limited cards.

I should clarify, I was beaten by the 2nd place competitor at the PTQ in London earlier this year with his super synergistic U/B zombies deck. Using Bloodthrone vampire and Corpse Blockade as sacrifice outlets and Diregraf Captain and Blood Artists to gain advantage from the sacrificed creature he is able to loop Gravecrawler deaths for the price of 1 black mana. I did feel like I had a shot in the games we played, but my greed of playing a turn 4 Griselbrand when on 8 life only to have it killed when I could have left up an Azorius Charm showed that there is still gains to be had from playing synergistic decks rather than just powerful cards.

After round 3 some members of the team started to drop out as there left top 8 contention. Unfortunately drafts had not been announced so a couple of hours of trading faced those who had left the main event.

Trading in a new city is a main reason to travel to these events and many people came away with cards that they have not been able to trade for in Sheffield. I managed to build 5 cards closer to my legacy goblins deck by trading away some unplayed standard cards and also got a good portion of a new modern deck after having my last modern deck nerfed. The other advantage of trading in a new city is the little rarities you find that you have not seen before, such as Mark finding a foil Werebear.

Rounds 4 and 5 were the turning point for many members of the team, with people winning more and more, the drafts started so players who had dropped had more to do and the room was becoming a little less crowded and the business end of the event started to kick in.  Ian was still forging a path and Quinton and Rob had also found themselves in a stronger position.

The final 3 rounds saw some heartache for Ian as he lost his Win and in match round 7. The Final round also put Rob and Quinton against each other. After 7 hours of magic it would be back to playing a familiar opponent, who knew the other deck inside out.

A shout out has to be made to Mark, who not only drove one of the cars but also managed a winning record with a deck he had picked up less than 2 weeks before.

Having stayed and picked up prizes (which were heavily weighted towards winning records, which although a good way to encourage competitive play is heartbreaking for grinders such as myself,) we headed into Cardiff to find some food.

Our route took us into central Cardiff on a Saturday night, where there were plenty of sights to keep 12 men interested.

At this point we struck gold.

The Red Hot World Buffet is a hungry PTQ players dream.

I have no idea what this is a picture of...

As an all you can eat Chinese you can fill your boots before the long journey home.

But I don't like chinese I hear you cry,

Well what about Italian,

or Tex Mex

or Indian

or Sushi

With an Ice cream stall

And cake.

Joe Unleashed!

Everyone knows magic players like a 2 for 1, and with its mix of food the Red hot World Buffet offers the ability for a 6 for 1, and as its all you can eat it is a guaranteed blow out.

The bar was also a hit, selling cocktails as big as your head and the colour of screen wash (and according to some people at the table tasting about as good).  The milkshakes come in some interesting shaped glasses, the jelly and waffles taught us an interesting lesson in people proficiency at a variety of skills an Fabian managed to create the world most ethnically diverse sandwich.

Nana bread, with shredded duck, Hawaiian pizza forming the top slice, with a Sushi topper. Reviews were (surprisingly,) positive

Time to head home, but not before our primary school teacher started a game of tag which only ended when a unsuspecting woman got made “it”.

The journey home took a detour over the Severn bridge and at 3.30am when i arrived through my door I was still thinking about the standard breaking decks we had developed on the way home.
I don't want to give away all the secret tech, but i feel safe in saying that if Ian’s master biomancer/ legions initiative deck starts crushing the pro tour you heard it here first.

So we look towards Manchester, hope for the same good turnout and a little more success, and if anyone knows of an all you can eat buffet with a dragon in it let me know...

Thanks Joe for a cracking article - I will be back with the Modern blog and details of Games Day next weekend on Monday.  Have a great weekend and enjoy Pro Tour!

Friday, 10 May 2013

A Busy Schedule

So Dragon's Maze is with us and a week of SCG open is behind us.  The new set does not seem to have effected standard massively - Junk Re animator is still THE deck that boasts the best win percentages - it now has Sin Eater main deck to take out those Cremates and other counters to unburial rites. Jund has added Sire of Insanity as its ability to top deck is far better than its opponents and at 6 mana it can cast everything.  UWR has added 3 copies of Ral Zarek - this may mean that he keeps some of his value and for the moment he is at $35 but no one seems to be interested at that price.

Is now a card in case you thought it wouldn't be...

So what is this blog about then?  I'm glad you asked - we are kind of busy for the next month or so in the Magic calendar so I thought it might be a good idea to bring all the stuff together in one place and let people know what is going on MTG wise.  I decided to just list everything chronologically first and then comment on events afterwards:

Date Event
11/05/2013 PTQ Theros - Cardiff
11/05/2013 Monthly win a box - Patriot Leeds
11/05/2013 Dragon's Maze win a box - Chesterfield
12/05/2013 Steel City Magic - Patriot Sheffield
17/05/2013 Pro Tour Dragon's Maze - San Diego Starts 5pm GMT
18/05/2013 Pro Tour Dragon's Maze - San Diego Starts 5pm GMT
19/05/2013 Pro Tour Dragon's Maze - San Diego Starts 7pm GMT
25/05/2013 Dragon's Maze Games day - Patriot Sheffield
26/05/2013 Dragon's Maze Games day - Patriot Sheffield
01/06/2013 PTQ Theros - Manchester
02/06/2013 WMCQ - Manchester
08/06/2013 Modern Masters release drafts
09/06/2013 Modern Masters release drafts
22/06/2013 Invitational Qualifier - Patriot Games Sheffield

So as you can see there is a lot going on in the old Magic scene!  There will be further details on the invitational qualifier in the next few weeks.  The Dragon's Maze game day will have the usual Standard/Draft tournaments each day and will cost £10 for the whole thing.

You need to have scored 300 Planeswalker points in the last year to qualify for the WMCQ - if you are unsure send me a message and I will let you know if you are qualified or not.  I hope to have the full details of Modern Masters drafts soon when we know how much product the shop is getting.

Spoilers due the week before release...

That's all I have time for - hope to be back next week if I have the time.