Busting on 21

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I have been playing 4C Dreadhorde in Standard recently and been having, well, decent success. Winning lots of games. Feeling confident. Loving the decision making of deciding what card to name with Tamiyo, Collector of Tales.

But Command the Dreadhorde is a hell of a card. Mirror matches can come down to who can “combo off” first, and milling with your Tamio can help your opponent.

Round five in this Sunday’s MCQ I was looking to go to time for the second round in a row. I try to play at a decent speed. I might play too fast. But this was the mirror match, and while I quickly scooped game one and game two did not take that long, game three was an absolute mess.

Getting a draw was looking to be the “best” outcome for me. I might have just scooped to my opponent. Judges were watching us and this makes me nervous. I don't know why it makes me nervous, but it does.

The round ends. I finish turn zero, not accomplishing much. My opponent takes turn one and gets a Command the Dreadhorde. I untap and try to find a Duress. No such luck. I pass the turn.

My opponent casts Command and looks through our graveyards to decide what to take. I think about my options. Maybe if I get Tamiyo then I can get back a Ritual of Soot, clear the board and not die. Maybe. I’m half tempted to ask the judge if I can look at the top card of my deck to see if I should just concede or not. I know I can’t, but my opponent was taking quite some time. I don't blame him. It's complicated.

The judge tells him it's about time to make a decision. My opponent has a number of cards selected. The judge asks if those are his targets. My opponent says yes. I say it resolves. (I don't have counterspells, anyway.)

My opponent counts the converted mana cost of the cards. Twenty one. He looks at his life total. Twenty one.

I put my face down on the table, trying not to laugh. I’m beet-red. I feel like shit. This is not how I want to win, but I did win. A friend congratulations me. My opponent did make a mistake after all.

It didn't feel good, and my opponent likely would not have made this mistake if not under pressure of time. Then again some people make this mistake on Arena because they miscount. I probably will do it too sometime.

I did go on to lose the next three rounds. So, karma?

Two weeks back

I went to the doctor today after two weeks of being on my new medicines. Honestly, things have been pretty decent with that so I got re-uped for another month of medicine and we'll see how it goes.

I'm still scared about being on medicines, but I have been "better" these past two weeks than the previous few where I had gone off the other. I don't know how things are going to turn out, but that is why I am doing all of this, right? Yeah.

Well, hopefully I can start getting into a rhythm of things again. My blogging took a hit when I got sick and so did my streaming and playing Arena and other things but I think that I should be able to get myself back into a groove. At least I'm going to try.

I exercised today. I wrote in my journal. I translated really hard. I took a nap. I streamed. I played a game. I did a lot today. It was a pretty good day.

And now I head to tomorrow.

It happens at midnight

I'm sitting at a store in Osaka, seven minutes at the time I'm writing this to the midnight pre-release of Ravnica Allegiance. I might be too old for this shit, but gosh darn-it, I'm going to have some fun.

It's hard, though, because I always end up doing badly at pre-releases. I don't know what my problem is, and I haven't gotten better in two years.

That's a bit disheartening, but hey. I am playing a game. That's good enough.

You don't have to retweet this

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This has been going around on Twitter. I bet you've seen it.

I “stream on Twitch” but I would never call myself a “Twitch streamer”. That said, I like writing prompts so I decided to take this and answer the questions because why not?

  1. Story behind your username.
    In high school I had a crush on a girl. But I missed my chance, lessons learned, yada-yada. But I at some point I thought I had to “dress better” and “act different” if I wanted a girlfriend. But it didn't happen. When I became a senior I realized that I didn't like what I was doing and decided to be more “true” to myself. I stoped wearing polo shirts and went back to nerdy t-shirts. I had originally been “Magik82” on AOL because I liked Magic: The Gathering (this will become a theme in these answers). Also I was born in 1982. But I didn't like having a number in my online nickname. For a while I was TheTomatoKing as an homage to my childhood liking of The Muppets, particularly Fozzie Bear and corny jokes. But since I was “coming back”, I picked the word Revenant and added 9999 at the end because it felt like a “fuck you” to the people who tacked their year of birth at the end of some word. Edgy, I know. In college I started taking Japanese. I didn't like the 9999. One day I was flipping through my Japanese dictionary and saw the word 記憶, memory. I thought that went well with Revenant so RevenantKioku I became. It's followed me since. Except on reddit where I made an account on my phone, and forgot the password. So on reddit I’m erickoziol. Which is funny because I’m not that anywhere else, like on Twitter, where some Computer Science guy has that handle.
  2. Why did you start streaming?
    I recorded videos back in college for various challenges I did. I started streaming on JustinTV when I came to Japan and was even doing stuff like playing Dragon Quest 9 on my DS with my webcam pointed at it. It wasn't great. I got married, didn't do it much, except off and on when I had a day to myself. When I got divorced I needed a hobby so I started speed running and streaming. That cooled down when I got back into Magic.
  3. Favorite game to stream.
    Magic is a silly answer, but it's kind of true because I love getting advice from people. There's always so much to learn about that game.
  4. Fondest memory.
    Back when the Four Job Fiesta started, the first year I had the website I did The Run by myself and the first year we set it up at my friend Alex's apartment in the middle of fuck-nowhere Japan. I streamed for well over twenty four hours because this was before I knew much about speed running or playing FF5 not terribly. But I did it. I don't remember how many people were watching or what, but goodness, I was exhausted when I was done. But it was so much fun.
  5. Variety streamer?
    What does this mean? These days it's mostly Magic for me or whatever game I’m currently working on trying to beat.
  6. Biggest struggle you had in a game
    Again, because I play so much Magic these days that's the easy answer because the game is basically a struggle that I enjoy. But trying to get a solid run of the Famicom Final Fantasy 3 glitch run took me quite some time until I got seven minutes and was just happy to have done it.
  7. Favorite thing about streaming.
    People. I’m kind of introverted but I also grew up with my brothers pretty much always around me and while we're not the closest people, I do have a thing for just having people around when I'm doing something. So seeing someone comment while I’m playing or just chatting about bullshit while I'm playing is a blast. I live alone now (and my ex-wife always wanted me to go be by myself when I played games) that I just love having people to chat with, and streaming sometimes gives me that.
  8. Any advice to give to a new streamer?
    Don't do what I'm doing, I guess? I average under one viewer, haha.
  9. Favorite streamer to watch.
    Oh, I can't pick just one. But people like eLmaGus, puwexil, bowiethehero, dragondarch, HighSpirits, StarOfViolence, TwitchPopPop and so many more are just so inspiring to watch. I’m sure I’m missing people because I'm on a train and kind of drunk, so sorry! But I love so many of you.
  10. Do you clip yourself?
    Who else would? Haha, but seriously there are some funny moments in Magic, be it variance bad or good, that just have to be shared. I love watching these clips, so I try to share them when they happen to me.
  11. Longest stream?
    Easily the first The Run I did for the Four Job Fiesta. My mind tells me it was over twenty four hours but I can't even remember.
  12. Game that you hated streaming?
    FF12 just because I hate FF12. Which reminds me I still owe completing FF12HD from two years ago. I’m so sorry. I just hate playing it.
  13. Most frustrating thing about streaming?
    It's stupid and selfish sounding, but when there's no one watching. I know. I need to make good content if I want people to watch. I don't deserve viewers. I know. But I also just want to chat with people mostly so it kind of reinforces my loneliness at times.
  14. Most popular game?
    Easily when I do anything FF5 or Fiesta related. I wish it was Magic because that's what I like playing the most, but I’m not good enough yet at the game for that, I guess.
  15. Favorite person to stream with?
    Never have, as far as I remember. My friend Alex and I used to record videos and I’d edit them for YouTube. We tried streaming once and it was fun.
  16. How many people do you mod for?
    Is there a way to check? That said, I don't get into as many streams as I’d like to these days, so none, really.
  17. Goals?
    I just want to get good at Magic. I've loved this game since I started playing it back in 1995 or 1996 or whenever my friend bought that magazine with DOOM on the cover and it had an article about Magic. I do have a goal of playing at least 1000 games of ANT (Ad Nauseam Tendrils, a Legacy Storm deck) this year in paper and online. I have no illusions of ever making partner or making any money off of streaming.
  18. Layout?
    I need some. You an artist? Want to talk? Although Magic Arena doesn't really need one? But still, I don't like how my stream looks but I don't really have that sort of creative skill to do anything.
  19. Things you want to change?
    Part of my depression actually makes me really anxious about streaming. I don't know why. Whenever I start I like doing it. I just kind of get into that “What's the point? No one cares.” mindset. Which I know is unhealthy, but depression is hard.
  20. Least favorite thing about streaming?
    Weird software issues. I’m forever having sound issues when I switch between games or sometimes (and this has been slightly better since switching to Streamlabs OBS) settings just change and I stream for an hour before someone asks why I’m talking and there's no voice. As a Computer Science graduate, I know software ain't easy, but I also don't like fiddling with it anymore.
  21. Dropped any games?
    Pretty much all of them. I don't know if I’ll get back into speed running ever. I do like it, but I like Magic a lot more. I kind of hope to one day run into a short game that I enjoy enough to run, but most of my favorite games are long RPGs that don't exactly make for a quick run. Maniac Mansion Famicom kind of fist that bill, actually. Maybe I should get back to that.
  22. How many years have you been streaming?
    I think my first time must have been in 2008 or so? Definitely haven't been regular until after my divorce and I’m still not “regular” because I have a job and do freelance work.
  23. How many mods?
    Seven!
  24. Channel theme?
    Magic played poorly with the hope of getting better.
  25. Most viewed clip?
    Fleshbag Marauder, not a Standard legal card, showed up for me in Momir on Arena. The card shouldn't be in Arena, so why is it? Weird. Also notice how I wasn't talking? That explains so much, huh?
  26. Favorite platform to stream?
    Anything. I just like streaming and communities. I like people and friends.
  27. Cam?
    Yeah. I am kind of embarrassed because I hate how I look, but I think reactions are the most fun part of streaming, so capturing my own might be something I actually look back fondly on one day.
  28. Most memorable ban?
    The second year I did The Run, and actually couldn't even beat Neo ExDeath in time there was someone who kept spamming the comments on the Fiesta site and my Twitch stream. I don't know why.
  29. Who gave you the most inspiration?
    I can't pick just one. But anyone who just plays a game with a smile on their face is awesome. I haven't had as many days like that recently, but I hope to get there again.
  30. What do you want to tel your audience most?
    Whoever is that 0.75 average viewer, I love you. Seriously, though, if you ever stop by, thanks. If you ever chat, thanks. That's what I want the most. Someone to talk to.

Something new

I got new Internet.

I was very excited and then I did the speed test. The download was not much faster than what I previously had. Fuck. And then I see the upload speed. Hundreds of times faster than what I was getting.

Yeah, I am getting between ten and forty down and anywhere from two hundred to four hundred up. What?

Now I haven't been too deep in the technology field over the past few years, but this needs a little bit of looking into, doesn't it? I mean, no complaints on that upload speed and that should be good for my streaming. But what a disparity.

Nothing new

I reorganized my apartment tonight.

I'm getting "real" Internet tomorrow. At least I hope it's real. I am tired of SoftBank Air having questionable speeds, so I finally got myself set up. It was so much easier than I thought it would be. I should have done it years ago. Of course I was always "worried" I'd find a job and then moving would make the cost not worth it, but whatever. I'm tired of shitty Internet and I might as well make my time at home a bit more enjoyable.

I kicked up a lot of dust cleaning up and my sinuses are fired up like there's nothing better for them to do. I finished up a Legacy league but between the headache and some bad luck (and bad plays, let's be honest) it went from a 2-1 to a 2-3. I have a good habit of doing that. Oh well. There's always next time.

And hopefully next time I will be making this blog post from f a s t I n t e r n e t. Which we all know is important for blogging.

Southern Osaka Legacy at Anoa Design 2019.01.14

The store I go to most often seems to be running a league for Southern Osaka. I’m kind of embarrassed that I don't entirely know the deals, but what it meant was that there was a Legacy tournament going on today and a chance for me to play more ANT.

Round 1 - Grixis Delver

I just got ran over these games. I think I'm not entirely sure when I should be using my discard because I never felt like I had a chance to go off. Then again game one I felt like I should be proactive because this guy is sometimes on Miracles and a Counterbalance would make my life miserable. He was on Grixis Delver, though, and I just never found a chance to do anything. 0-2 and I’m 0-1.

Round 2 - Aluren

I start thinking about my use of discard and play a little more cautiously. I Duress my opponent and see two different Harpies. Aluren! Also, the coast is clear so I go for it. Game two I hit him with a Duress and he has a Shardless Agent and Leovold. For some reason he decides to go with the Shardless first. I take this opportunity to double cantrip my next turn and when he taps out to for Leovold I have a Thoughtseize which doesn't get him a counterspell off of Leovold and despite him having two Surgical Extractions to try to keep my Cabal Rituals from Threshold, I’m able to get storm high enough when I hope he isn't siding Mindbreak Trap after he draws a bunch off of Leovold. The Tendrils get him. 2-0 and I’m 1-1.

Round 3 - Turbo Depths

Funny enough, this guy was one of the first ANT players I ran into. He had loaned his ANT deck to, funny enough, the guy who won the tournament. Spoiler: That wasn't me. I did at least get to ask him some ANT questions after the match and he gave me some good pointers. Game one he gets a turn two Marit Lage but I’m able to combo off. Game two he discards and casts Surgical Extraction on my Tutors. I try, but I can't get anywhere. Game three was interesting. He casts Duress. I Brainstorm into some lands and another Infernal Tutor. So here’s my dilemma. Do I put both Tutors on top but not have a way to shuffle my deck, put a Tutor on top and hope he doesn't have Surgical Extraction, or leave both Tutors in my hand and put Ad Nauseam on top, hoping he takes a Tutor but doesn't have Surgical Extraction and lets me keep them all. Or do I put other stuff on top? I opt to put both Infernal Tutors on top and lose the Ad Nauseam. After I draw my two Infernal Tutors he casts Lost Legacy naming them. Hey, at least I get to draw two cards! I was worried he'd name Tendrils and I’d lose the game. But I was able to cast a Past in Flames and generate enough of a Storm count to try my luck at the Ponder and Brainstorm game and I find Tendrils of Agony. 2-1 and I’m 2-1.

Round 4 - Sneak and Show

Game one is classic who can combo first. I do. Game two I try for a risky line with LEDs and flashing back Past in Flames but he has more counters than I do. Game three I start off by discarding his key cards and eventually I see he has two Emrakul and a Griselbrand so if he top decks Show and Tell or Sneak Attack I am dead. We both cantrip for a while and eventually I am able to cast Duress, see he has nothing, drop some Petals and LEDs, cast Chain of Vapors and sacrifice my lands to bounce them all back, get more store and cleanly hit him with lots of Tendrils. 2-1 and I’m 3-1. And that's good enough for top eight.

Top 8 - Maverick

I’m fourth place going into top eight so I get to play. Opening hand has no lands. Ship it back. Six cards, no lands or Petals to try to cantrip myself into something so I go to five cards. It's mediocre, but I keep hoping to use my discard to buy some time. My opponent seems to top deck whatever I make him discard and I don't have time. Game two we both mulligan down to five. Even playing field. Or so I think. I scry a Thoughtseize to the top and play my fetch. He leads with a Noble Hierarch. I draw, fetch, and Thoughtseize to see a Wasteland, Choke, Ethersworn Canonist and Knight of Autumn. Maybe I should have fetched a basic Swamp, but with the few cards in hand I felt like I had to risk it. Every choice seems bad to me. Had I taken the Choke I might have had some time, but I took the Canonist and he top decks, Wastelands my Underground Sea and plays an Ethersworn Canonist. Well, that’s Magic. 0-2 and I’m out.

I had to take a moment after that round and bite my tongue. I wanted to whine. I wanted to scream. Why, oh why do I finally make a top eight and just have two pointless games? Where is the luck? Why isn't this fair? Oh, wait. It is fair. I had my chances and got some luck and worked hard to get those wins I got earlier in the tournament. This time it didn't work out. Frustrating? Yes. Part of life? Yes. Luckily I’m at a store with friends so I just take a breather and watch the remaining matches. I make sure to watch the other ANT player and I don't see them take any lines that surprise me, and they win the tournament. So I feel a bit better about my plays and realize it was just some bum luck.

The tournament is over and a bunch of us regulars go out for dinner. It's a good time. I ended up seventh place and my prize wasn't great, but it also wasn't an expensive tournament. Whatever. I wanted to practice ANT and I felt like I got some excellent practice in.a

Hareruya Legacy 2019.01.13

Hareruya Cup 2019.01.13
 Seven rounds of Legacy! Let's go!


Round 1 - Tinfins

This guy and I seem to get matched up all the time. It's fine, because he's a good guy, but still kind of a ridiculous amount. Game one he Thoughtseizes me and takes Duress. I top a Dark Ritual and combo off. I almost conceded before realizing I forgot to write down the loss of two life from Thoughtseize. I had him, but almost thought I didn't. Whoops. Game two he ripped apart my hand and then got the combo. Game three I had a chance to Tutor for Ad Nauseam but somehow forgot about the card. Although, at the time I didn'trealize the way to win versus Children of Korlis. I at least learned afterwards. I think my side-boarding for Tinfins is wrong. 1-2 and I’m 0-1.

Round 2 - Sneak and Show

Game one I rip apart his hand and get a quick combo. Game two he plops out Emrakul turn three and I try to go for it but fizzle. Game three he mulligans down to three and starts with Leyline of Sanctity. I’m looking at two Thoughtseize and a Duress. I thought having discard against a three-card hand would be good! He gets a Show and Tell for Emrakul but the next turn I don’t forget Ad Nauseam. I ritual off, cast Ad Nauseam. He has no cards in had. I go down to six but I get two LEDs, a Tutor and Past in Flames. I ritual back up, Tutor for a Chain of Vapors and he concedes. 2-1 and I’m 1-1.

Round 3 - Grixis Delver

Ah, Grixis Delver, my old friend. Game one I rip apart his hand and win. Game two he gets a quick start and I cannot find a single discard spell. I try to go off on my last possible turn but he has Force of Will. Game three he makes me discard Infernal tutor and then casts Surgical Extraction. I try to stay alive and go off hoping to Past in Flames into cantrips into something, but fizzle. 1-2 and I’m 1-2.


Round 4 - Mono Black Reanimator

Another player I run into often at my "local" store I do. He's been playing Mono Black Reanimator as long as I've known him. So it was no surprise when game one I am face-to-face with a turn two Iona. Scoop. Games two and three I make it through Leylines of the Void. I also was lucky to dodge Surgical Extraction. 2-1 and I’m 2-2.

Round 5 - Miracles

Afterwards my opponent said if Miracles makes it to turn four they have a good chance of winning. I'll have to remember this. Game one I took in no time. Game two I cast Duress to see two Vendilion Cliques and I know I’m in trouble. Didn't get there. Game three I manage to get the right mix of discard and rituals to combo off. 2-1 and I’m 3-2.

Round 6 - Miracles

Wait a minute. Well, game one goes long and no, I don't win it. There may be something to that previous advice. Game two is a clean and easy win. Game three we don't have much time and I go for it a turn too early. I cast Duress and it gets countered. I should have feared another counter. He had it. Had I waited he might not have dropped his Monastery Mentor. I might have at least gotten a draw or had a chance on my last turn if he tried to get me in time. Either way, I took a risk and it did not pay off. 1-2 and I'm 3-3


Round 7 - Grixis Control

Game one he stumbles on lands but I can't take advantage. He gets rolling and Bolt-Snapcaster-Bolt brings me in range of death. Game two I made a big mistake. I managed to get a turn where I could go off. I have a huge graveyard. I cast Duress. He's got Marsh Casualties, Force of Will and Surgical Extraction. Plus five mana up. I take the Force. I start the combo and he casts Surgical on my Infernal Tutors. That's okay. The Storm count is high. If I flashback my cantrips into either Tendrils or Empty the Warrens then I can win. All I have to do is Duress away the Marsh Casualties. I cast a cantrip, look at the three cards, say “Shuffle” and my opponent says “Okay”. I grab my deck and as soon as the cards get put in we both go “Wait.” I had cast Brainstorm, not Ponder. Whoops. Judge call. It takes some time. In the end we both shuffle my deck and I draw a card. I don't feel great about this, but we both messed up and the card didn't help. I flashback Ponder and find Tendrils. Game three I start ripping apart his hand. He casts Hymn to Tourach but I have Flusterstorm. I have two Thoughtseizes and hit him back to back. He has double Force of Will, Jace the Mind Sculptor, and a Surgical Extraction. I take Jace and the Extraction. Between the Ad Nauseam and Infernal Tutor I have along with the mana, I think I’m good. He top decks Jace. I know he has Force of Will, so I try to sandbag but Jace gives him enough card advantage and I lose. 1-2 and I am 3-4.
 My round seven Thoughtseizes might have been wrong. Maybe too hasty. Maybe I take a Force, next turn cast again and try to go for it. I felt bad about the Brainstorm fuck-up, though, so I don't feel too bad about losing.
 I learned important things and put them to practice soon after. Sometimes you need Ad Nauseam. It's never fun, but the deck needs the card. I was hoping for a positive win record, but in games I was 10-11. Not too shabby. I’m excited to play more Legacy, and that's a good thing.

Don't rub

I have less than fifty seconds to write this if I want to put it up before the deadline I set for myself.

It's an artifical deadline and it means nothing. Twenty seconds.

But I sit here, and realize an hour has bassed and I did not accomplish anything I wanted. Five seconds.

And then - time's up - I rub my eyes because it is dry due to having the heater on. Now my eye's hurt.

I'm not sure what I am doing or what. Four minutes just passed and I don't even know how or why or what I'm doing.

I spent the day with my son. That was fun. Then I took him home, did a Sealed tournament and fucked up hard. I feel like an idiot. I shouldn't, but I do. Because I don't feel like I'm capable of learning or improving at anything.

I am drowning in self-pity. This is no good.

Eleven minutes late.

Friday Night Magic 1/11/2018

So, in the end I decided to go to FNM tonight. There were a lot more people than I was expecting, and I only went 1-2 but at least I had some fun games.

I did have two completely non-games, but who wants to hear me complain, right? Actually, I think I did a decent job at controlling my emotions. It’s an uphill battle, though.

Not much to talk about the deck, though. I played the Naya Midrange that I took to the PPTQ last weekend and I continue to be unimpressed. That’s it for this Standard, though. My one worry is that with the next set giving us all ten shocklands, the meta is going to be so wild for a while and I don’t have any desire to build decks. As much as I love Magic, deckbuilding is boring to me. I don’t want to think of an idea and make it. I want to play the game with the best stuff that I can.

So maybe it’ll just be some drafts, Legacy and Modern (barf) for the forseeable future?

I am excited for the next set, at least.

Not acting

I had plans to stream tonight.

I didn't.

I don't get it. I don't know why I am stressing myself out about things I want to do. This is silly. I am making myself mad by not doing things I want to do because... I should punish myself? Because why? I don't know the answer to these things but I'm getting frustrated with myself.

Which also doesn't help.

Choices

Did a little stream tonight and got salty during the Magic Arena games. No one likes that. I don't like that. But I chose to be salty instead of choosing to smile and take it in stride.

This lifestyle change is not easy. My default mode is negativity and anger. Now, I wasn't mad at my opponent. Just cursing my own luck. But that's how life works and if I'm going to do these things I have to focus on what I can control.

I hate that sentence I just wrote because it makes no sense to me whatsoever. Focus on what I can control? When do I have a choice in what I think about? When do I have a choice about how I react to things?

Apparently I do. So says many things I have been reading and listening to. But the concept seems so wild and foreign to me. Control over my own thoughts? What kind of mental giant wields such ability?

I don't know the route to take, but at least I am aware of the destination.

Back again

The first day back at work never doesn't feel weird. Negatives! Teaching, or specifically, speaking in front of 30+ people after spending most of the previous weeks alone or with a few people at most, just feels weird.

I am a bit of a different person when I teach, and I do wish I could channel that energy into other things. I don't exactly know why it's easy to be energetic, educational and entertaining when I teach but when I stream or make a video or try to write about stuff I'm just boring.

Installing fear

I spent the afternoon getting my car looked at. They were unhelpful. Five bucks to replace the battery on my remote starter and the same song and dance about how at some point I will need somem parts to be replaced. Yes. Cool. Can we not do that? Why when I ask do I just get some nonsense about waiting. It's like I cannot convince them to let me give them money.

Which I am starting to worry I will not have more of because I haven't gotten any translation work for a while. November and December were extremely busy for me, so I have enough saved up that I am not worried except that I am always worried when I am not working.

So I listened to some podcasts and worked on cleaning up my place when I got home. I read some more on Cognitive Behavior Therapy. I decided to play in the Shadowverse Grand Prix going on. I finished a run I had started this morning and modified my deck. Then in the middle of the first game I get a blue screen on my Windows PC. First one I've had on this. There was some buzzing, but I am pretty sure it came from my headphones. Maybe just remnants from the game? I don't know.

But I do know I have to not let this stuff get to me. Because worrying will get me nowhere. Which is where I went through 2018.

Cleaning up

After I dropped off my son my thought was to go home and stream. Maybe Magic. Maybe FF6. But instead I sorted some cards. And it was a good sort. The kind where I got through a few hours of podcast backlog and made more of a mess than I had originally, but things feel a bit more organized. Even though it's messier.

Ah, starting always requires a bit of breaking, doesn't it?

Standard PPTQ 1/5

Thirty-three people puts us at six rounds. Here’s to a long day. As much as people have been talking up this Standard as being good, there is no deck that I have liked. I spent the majority of the format on various Phoenix and Drake decks and I honestly could never do much with them. Chromatic Black was fun but I wanted to take this one seriously. So I sleeved up a Naya Midrange deck I found online and after putting some reps into the deck on Magic Arena I felt good enough to take it to the PPTQ.

I arrived at the store with my decklist already printed. Not something I commonly do, but I think it helps me not try to make last minute changes. I name the deck “Knights in White Gruul”. That might be one of my best ones yet.

Round 1 - Chromatic Black

My mind like to pretend it is karmic justice that I give up on a deck only to lose to it round one of the next tournament I’m in. Of course this is nonsense. My losses were due to two misplays. Game one I went through pretty quickly and actually showed now Green. This might have been an advantage. Unsure. Game two I mulligan down to six and play to avoid wipes. Alas, his removal is strong and I drop a Carnage Tyrant when he has a Plaugecrafter sitting under Karn. Whoops. Game three starts off with another mulligan. He gets a quick Karn which I punch through, but make the mistake of giving him a Cast Down instead of a Swamp. See, I’m thinking that I can stifle his mana a bit for Cabal Stronghold, but this bites me in the ass later when my two Shalais are taken care of and my Rekindling Phoenix gets hit with two Cast Downs. A kicked Josu Vess drops and I’m dead. I did die with three lands in hand, so my options were not exactly strong, but I can at least pinpoint the mistakes that cost me the game. I am actually unsure if this was Chromatic. I never saw a Chromatic Lantern, although I did see Treasure Map. Didn’t matter. 1-2 and I’m 0-1.

Round 2 - Treasure Red

Is this Big Red? I don’t know. It’s Treasure Maps, Karns and good Red spells. Kind of exactly what this Naya Deck was designed to beat. Game one I blew up his Treasure Map with a Knight of Autumn and his mood significantly changes. I slowly build up knights and History of Benalia helps me win. Game two I keep a risky hand. But two lands, removal, a two drop creature, an Ixalan’s Binding, a History of Benalia and a District Guide make me think if I get land three I’ll be dropping my History and getting there. And I did. I start to wonder if this deck wants Treasure Maps of its own. I don’t know where they would fit, but the District Guide gets me a mountain so I have double Red for the Phoenix I drew. Two Histories, Shalai and all the other junk just puts enough pressure on him when the Binding locks him out of Treasure Maps. 2-0 and I’m 1-1.

Round 3 - Treasure Red

It is matches like this that make me wonder how decks are even capable of winning. It was a classical “draw the wrong half of your deck” situation. I had single removal game one when he filled the board game one and sweepers when he had single threats game two. As I write this words I am so fucking angry. And I know that is unhealthy. Part of it is knowing that my PPTQ year, and I hit them pretty hard in the past year was nothing but three top 8s, and nothing higher. And my depression tells me that it never will be. (Not to mention PPTQs aren’t a thing anymore. I guess we should soon find out what will be replacing them.) I know my depression is wrong in that it cannot predict the future, but I’m just angry. It’s just a game. And it is unhealthy to tie my success in a game to my happiness, but I don’t know how to not do that. 0-2 and I’m 1-2.

Round 4 - Jeskai Control

The deck did what the deck was designed to do. Jeskai couldn’t keep up with what I was doing. I just kept putting on enough pressure that I would eventually drop a Shalai and they would have to counter it, but die to my attack, or not counter it and be unable to use Settle the Wreckage. Both games came down to that.

Round 5 - Drakes

Game one was a good back and forth but me eventually punching enough damage through. Game two I sat on a Lyra a bit too long, but I was not in the position to throw her into a Drake with potential Dive Down backup. Eventually Ral got me. Game three I flooded. Happens.

Round 6 - Drop

I normally don’t drop from events but going home and playing some Magic Online felt like a better use of my time. I did feel like a bit of a jerk because I had to run out in order to make my train, but I did not want to wait around. I have to be more careful about how I spend my time.

I am not happy with how emotional I got. I mean, emotions are fine, but I let myself get way to happy and sad from my results. I have to work on this. It was at least a fun little deck to end the Standard season with, but bring on the next Standard. Hopefully I can find something I really like.

Missing Out

The past two weeks are the first in a long time that I have not attended Friday Night Magic. The only other times I can think of are when I’m somewhere for a Grand Prix. I miss going out for these quite a bit. There have been holiday events lately so I have gone and seen friends. I also hit up several tournaments over before the New Year. Plus there's Arena and Magic Online.

It is a bit cheaper to stay home but... It was a ritual of sorts. I am not a religions man, but Friday Night Magic was a thing I went to. With my car in a questionable state, I am afraid of driving it out there and then getting stuck.

I would get home late and my sleep would get messed up. Perhaps this is not a good thing. As far as earning Planeswalker Points, well, it was never great. I could get anywhere from one to ten because these are not big events. Not to mention it took three hours of driving. Being there from seven pm to one am was just a little bit more time spent playing than driving.

Which I knew all the time but still did because I liked it. But there were parking fees, and gas, and the tournament itself. Not that I have particularly enjoyed these Friday nights I have stayed at home.
 I don't know. This has given me something to think about but I don't know what to do.

Games I beat in 2019 #3 - Return.

It might take me more time to write about this than it did to play.

This was another free game on Steam, and it was really short. It's just a little platformer. Control a soul and get it back to its home. Which is a body. So... You're reviving someone?

The game is cute and the music is nice and calming and I was freaked out the entire time. Because there have been so many games that got weird or have those jump-scares and this doesn’t. Spoilers. Sorry. But that made it all the more haunting because I was afraid that at any time something could happen at any moment.

But nothing happened. It was just a little game. The jumping was kind of annoying, but I worked it out. I’m still kind of spooked out though. No idea if this was the intent or not.

Games I beat in 2019 #2 - Princess Remedy in a World of Hurt

This one showed up in my Steam queue and it was free, so why not?

It was good. Simple, a bit silly, but not full of itself nor extends its welcome. What Undertale should have been instead of the steaming pile of shit that it is.

The concept is simple enough. There is a world of Hurt and you have to heal it. Go around towns and caves, talk to sick people, animals or plants and heal them. "Healing" is a single screen shooting segment with enemies that get craftier as the game goes on. It ends with a three screen boss battle that reminded me of Final Fantasy 6. There is one little thing that was a tad annoying as it made me restart the game. But it wasn't that bad.

There is a chest in the third section that is jealous that you opened other chests. So I restarted and made my way there without opening any others. Thing is, those chests contain power ups. Things that make battles easier. So getting to that chest is harder. The game is nice, though. After opening the Jealous Chest, the game gives you everything that was in the skipped chests. So I didn't lose that much time.

There are a few secrets in the game, but none were too hard to find. I did end up missing one item and had to backtrack for it. Turns out I missed an early fight because I had done it my first attempt at the game.

It was a decent challenge. It ramped up but never felt too difficult. There was one fight that I was doing before the Jealous Chest that took me a few tries, but figuring it out was fun. After that it wasn't exactly easy, but it was easier. The final boss only took me one try, but I never felt like it was a guarantee.

At the end is the option of proposing to any NPC in the game. Including the Jealous Chest, which is now an empty chest. A cute little ending plays with dialogue based on the NPC you picked. There's a sequel, and it's not free, but it also looks like it has a lot more going for it. I added it to my wishlist.

Games I beat in 2019 #1 - Celeste


What makes a game bad?

That is a boring question. But when I finish a game and my first thought is “Fuck this game.” I have to wonder why I bothered. I know why I put Celeste on my Steam wishlist. People said good things. But why did I finish it? All I have to show for it is a sore thumb and a few extra yen from selling the Steam trading cards.

Here's the thing. I finished Celeste and I have yet to finish games I like. Final Fantasy XV. Lost Sphere. Octopath Traveler. I could have played those games. But I didn’t.

I guess when people praise something game so much I get curious. When my own feelings don't match others I get even more curious. What do people see? Celeste is a pretty game. Its soundtrack is unoffensive. These are good things. It's opening levels are acceptable, if not trite. But then it begins to expand on a story and this is, well, a problem.

I won't pretend I know the people who made this game or made the story. But I have a reckon. Someone either suffers from or knows someone who suffers from anxiety and/or depression. They wanted to express this in the form of a challenging video game. Challenging oneself. Inner conflict. Self doubt. But... It felt… Hollow. Cheap. Ineffective.

It also led to frustrations.

So many game developers seem to think their own game is not enough, and add some sort of nonsense to it. Some of my beloved games do this. I didn't buy Final Fantasy 7 to snowboard. I didn't play Celeste for a “breathing simulator” where I have to balance a feather... with my breath? What?

See, there's a panic attack scene. One of the NPCs says to imagine keeping a feather afloat with your breath. Okay? Then the player sees a feather on-screen and there's this box that moves up and down. So. What do you do?

Well, I pressed the jump button. It felt like I was keeping the feather afloat, but nothing was happening. The box kept moving up and down. It glowed when the feather was in it, but the feather also didn't seem affected. Confusion struck me. Then I realized that the joystick could move the feather and that keeping it in the box was my “goal”. I'm not sure what they expected me to get out of this. It did not calm me down.

About this point the game shifted from a mediocre VVVVVV or Super Meat Boy and into more of a mess. The next area featured what I could best describe as a “even shittier than usual escort mission”. An NPC was stuck in a crystal because feelings. You have to chuck his crystalized body around while dodging this annoying enemy. It would sometimes be bop-able like in Mario Bros. or sometimes just slam you dead. It wasn't particularly fun.

Then you finish it and it gets emotional. Earlier in the game the main character comes across a window and a “part of her” escapes. You first think it's her evil side, but it's actually her fears and doubt, etc. And then is this long stage which culminates in a “boss” battle. The main character realizes she needs to be whole. Yet, the “other part” thinks she wants to get rid of her. So you have to “beat” the boss by touching the “other part”. An interesting idea. Gameplay-wise it goes on for about twenty more screens than necessary. It just kept going on and on and on and on and on and on and on. Fuck.

Finally things work out, yada, yada. Our main character begins her final ascent. First you there is a “boss rush” of the previous chapters. All the stage gimmicks (and I don'tmean that in a nice way) appear again only made harder. The last climb that required lots of precise jumping and maneuvering. Not particularly challenging. Just hard. I tried enough and I succeeded.

See, the thing is I never felt like I was getting better at the game. I felt like I was getting lucky and succeeding. And that sums up my feelings. I didn't feel any sense of accomplishment. I just won it because I pressed buttons enough times. An eighth chapter unlocked that requires some hidden items to access. (So it didn't unlock after all?) I don't think I’ll go back through the stages to find the hidden things necessary for me to play it.

An “old computer” hidden in the game features a simpler, more “retro” version of Celeste. I liked that more. It was less frustrating, felt snappier and didn't have any nonsense. I would have paid for that alone.

But in the end I finished Celeste. I wouldn't say don't play it, as you'll see many people say good things about it. I don't particularly agree.

My thumb still hurts.