Cook’s Kitchen: Resolutions
One year ago I was just starting a new job. I was thousands of dollars in debt, taking care of a puppy, and getting back into being a part-time card slinging nerd. Part of me wishes that I was more active and possibly a full-time grinder, but that simply isn’t where I can be, at in this point of my life. I’m a Graphic Designer with a hobby. However, I have accomplished a lot over the last year within my “hobby.”
Below is a list of achievements that I’ve completed over the last year; it’s not meant to be a list of brags. There may be a little bit of pride in the list, but I think everyone should be somewhat proud of what they’ve accomplished. However, the results are all relative to who’s looking at the list. Compared to some of the greatest players out there, this list is nothing. I would like to eventually look at this list and scoff, although, it may be difficult if Magic remains a part-time interest. In order to achieve these goals, it’s important to have a starting point. Let’s figure out where to begin by going in-depth at what I’ve done within the last year:
1.) Six Jupiter Games NELC top 8 appearances (with three First Place finishes)
Not too shabby, Six out of ten (I missed two due to personal reasons) tournaments that Jupiter holds monthly is a pretty respectable number. Especially considering half of those I finished in first place. Alternately I won slightly less than a third of the events I played in at Jupiter Games, I’m very happy with that. There were definitely a few months where if I played a better deck I could’ve had a higher success rate. I am looking at you Maverick.
I was also runner up for Jupiter Games player of the year for 2012. I may have been able to win player of the year if I was wise enough to switch decks during the Mental Misstep era. Instead I continued to play my combo pet deck in a sea of free counter magic. Looking forward there’s some changes I need to make.
2.) Two Star City Games top 8 appearances
I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to knock the stigma that I’m just a combo player off of my back. This past year was a great start to find out if that’s a possibility. I finished within the top 8 of two Star City Games Standard Opens with UW Delver of Secrets. An entirely different format with respectable finishes, where the play skills required to pilot UW Delver is very different than Storm. Now that I’ve had two successful performances within Standard opens, I have a different goal for next year in mind.
3.) Top 32 (19th) at Star City Games Invitational: Atlanta
Considering how poorly I did in my first invitational in Indy, this meant a little more to me. While it’s not exactly a top 8 finish, I only missed top 16 on tiebreakers. Going into the last round I decided to play out the round thinking that there might have been an outside chance I made top 16, I was wrong. Regardless, it was a decent finish in an event full of high caliber players. I just wish Star City Games wouldn’t have neglected me in their top thirty-two deck lists.
We’re done with tournaments. The next few are goals I set shortly after I graduated college in 2011.
4.) Forty Dual Lands and Forty Fetch Lands
Completing this task took half a year longer than intended, but it’s achieved. When I was leaving school I didn’t own dual lands or fetch lands that weren’t a part of TES. It made my options pretty slim on what I was able to play. Now I own a play set of each type of land that doesn’t include my storm cards!
5.) Japanese Foil Legacy Deck
It’s finished! Alright, this may be bragging, I’m just proud. Completing this deck has been six years in the making. The deck was a lot of work, most of it built off of tournament winnings. I don’t know if things have been forgotten since the top of the page, but I’m a broke post-grad. I try not to spend too much money on cards. Most of the cards for my deck I acquired while they were still low value, a great example would be my Japanese Foil Brainstorms. Remember back to when Vintage restricted Brainstorm? The market flooded! I picked up a play set for about $45 each.
With how often I change my list, I may be looking for cards in three weeks, but for now, it’s perfect. For those of you interested in viewing the deck I have pictures up in the Pimp Legacy Decks thread at MTG the Source.
6.) Growth as a player
I’ve taken a couple huge strides since I’ve gotten back into competitive Magic. I’ve begun attending more large events, aside from Jupiter, such as PTQ’s, Star City Games: Opens, as well as a couple of Grand Prix. By attending all of these larger events and continuous play, I’ve seen my play skill increase throughout several different formats within the last year. Part of which was branching out of my comfort zone.
Obtaining playable cards through tournament winnings by playing something I was comfortable with allowed me to actually break my comfort zone. I played The EPIC Storm through thick and thin for an entire Jupiter season, only to realize I became sick of Magic shortly after. It was when I broke free of playing storm for a while that I really began enjoying the game again. Playing a new deck every month for Jupiter Game’s NELC series has been a blast, I’ve acknowledged some areas where I found flaws in my game and have been actively working on improving those weaknesses. For example, sometimes I make actions without thought because they appear to be routine. I lost a round at a NELC because of this! I quickly activated Maze of Ith when a Knight of the Reliquary was attacking (I had Linvala in play) instead of weighing the options and looking at the table. If I had looked at the situation I would’ve seen a Gideon Jura looking back at me. I could’ve taken the hit then used Gideon to destroy the Knight on my turn. Instead I let myself get too comfortable.
Playing different decks continuously has helped in Standard as well. Something Standard has taught me that I haven’t learned from Legacy is when to put a deck down, if it isn’t performing well or doesn’t feel right. Set it down and then try something else. I have a bias when it comes to Legacy due to having a “Pet Deck” or even other decks that I think are better than others, that doesn’t happen in other formats. I’m more open to weighing options, choosing the deck that best suits my style and is most appropriate for the metagame. This is something I need to do to transfer over to Legacy. Right now in Legacy, Storm is back in power, meaning I’ll be counting to ten again sometime soon. But it remains important to stop counting when it’s no longer the right choice.
Last month’s NELC was the right choice to play storm and it felt like being home while playing. It was the first time I had played the deck at Jupiter since I lost the $1400 coin flip to Eli Kassis for player of the year (Editor’s Note: Not ACTUALLY a coin flip, just to be clear). A break from playing storm brought back the joy of showing people a lethal Grapeshot. Well, that joy never went away, but you get the idea. It was refreshing to play it after a long time of sitting on the sidelines.
Outside of Standard and Legacy, I’ve been playing Limited in order to become a complete player. Being a one-trick pony will only get you so far. While I don’t play as often as I’d like, it’s a start.
Here’s a brief recap:
- Six Jupiter Games NELC top 8 appearances (Three first place finishes)
- Two Star City Games top 8 appearances
- Top 32 (19th) at Star City Games Invitational: Atlanta
- Forty Dual Lands and Fetch Lands
- Japanese Foil Legacy Deck
- Growth as a player
Currently, I’m in my second year of my job, which just happens to fund this “hobby”, I am still, albeit thousands of dollars less, in debt, I have a dog, and I am aiming to be more than a part-time card slinging nerd. Not exactly a dramatic improvement. I have higher expectations for the next year in Magic for myself, it’s important to keep raising the bar. A year from now, I would like to be reviewing this article and know that I conquered the past year.
Dear future Bryant,
You kicked a whole bunch of tail this last year. Now go do better.
Hugs and kisses,
Goals for this coming year – 2013
1.) Become better at deck selection
I need to work on playing the deck that is going to allow the greatest chance of success, rather than play something I’m familiar with. I’ve taken some steps in the right direction last year, now it’s time to continue down that path.
2.) More than two Star City Games top 8 appearances
I’d like to top 8 a Legacy Open within the next year, it’s something I haven’t done yet. I was fairly good at playing UW Delver which lead to multiple Standard high placing finishes, but Legacy is something I’d like to cross off the list. Maybe even top 8 the invitational?
3.) Play more Limited
The largest flaw in my game, I need to work on it. I understand a lot of the concepts that transcend through the different draft/sealed blocks, what I need to work on are the intricacies of each block. I played in a PTQ during M13 sealed and didn’t play Chronomation because I was unsure of how effective it would be. It turns out the format didn’t have a whole lot of cards that could’ve answered the card. These are situations where my lack of knowledge of the format hurt me.
4.) Attend more PTQ’s and Grand Prix
I entered a handful of these last year, that’s not enough. I can play in as many Jupiter Games or Star City Games events as I want and it won’t matter, as my ultimate goal won’t be satisfied. I’d like to experience the Pro Tour.
5.) Qualify for the Pro Tour (Again)
I qualified for the Pro Tour back in 2010 when I finished in the top 8 of Grand Prix Columbus. Unfortunately, I was broke then, so low on money that I owned less than a hundred dollars. I could’ve flown to Amsterdam using the Grand Prix check, but my senior year of college was already two weeks over and I needed the money for living expenses. I still think I made the right decision to not go to Amsterdam, missing a week’s worth of school on top of spending the last of my money wouldn’t have been in my best interest.
Now that I’m financially stable, I’d like to get back on the train. I want to see what the Pro Tour is all about. This next year I’m going to do what I can to qualify.
6.) Continue growing as a player
There’s not much that can be said here that I haven’t said already. I need to keep doing what I can to improve and remember that I’m only a middle of the line player. If I want to get on the Pro Tour, I need to be better than I am right now.
It’s been a crazy and long last year, but it’s been a decent one. I can only hope that 2013 holds something greater for me.
Well that’s all for this week, come back again next week! Until then, keep Storming!
Bryant Cook on MTGtheSource