So. Much. Sealed.

My cool playmat with RK Post's sketch, my decks from the weekend and all eight of my match life total sheets.

My cool playmat with RK Post’s sketch, my decks from the weekend and all eight of my match life total sheets.

My first Grand Prix is over. I went to Oklahoma City hoping for day two, but came away satisfied anyway. Not everyone can be Steve, who made day two of his first GP. I didn’t achieve the 7-2 record needed, but I did end up 5-4, which is a solid showing for my first GP.

I don’t really know how to recap the event — there were too many rounds and too much Magic playing to go through it step by step without writing a novel — but it was definitely memorable. I saw Ben Stark, Marshall Sutcliffe and other big Magic names; I met a ton of neat people; I got RK Post, the artist of the playmat, to sketch on it and sign it; and, of course, I played ALL THE MAGIC.

It’s definitely neat to be part of such a big event. There were more than 1000 players at GP OKC, and it was my first time playing at a higher REL than just FNM. It was only a little intimidating…

It was also my first time having to register a sealed pool of cards. I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to sort, alphabetize and record all the cards in the thirty minutes provided, but I finished in plenty of time. Apparently I’m much better at alphabetizing things than I thought. I was also concerned I would have a hard time building, registering and sleeving my deck in the allotted time, but I finished just as the final calls were being made. At the end of the process, I was already proud of myself for getting everything done, and I was fairly certain I’d built the strongest deck in my pool. It was a tough pool to build, though,  but after my friends looked at it, they said they thought it was the right deck. A kind opponent later wasn’t as sure, but he said the deck I’d built was really strong anyways.

My pool had a couple really good cards that made me want to go B/W (Ashen Rider, Triad of Fates and Phalanx Leader) but not a lot of support for the white. And unfortunately, Ashen Rider and Phalanx Leader are not exactly splashable. My green was really strong, though. I got the Arbor Colossus, which is a bomb if you’re in green, Centaur Battlemaster and Nemesis of Mortals. My red was pretty weak besides a couple Titan’s Strengths and an Anax and Cymede, so I knew I probably wouldn’t be playing it. My blue had a few strong cards — Thassa’s Emissary, Nimbus Naiad and Triton Tactics — but again, not enough support to play it as a main color. My black was pretty strong — I had some removal and good bodies, including Nighthowler, which is awesome to bestow. I really debated playing B/W, but ended up concluding that I would probably never actually play Ashen Rider, and forcing B/W because of it would make me play mediocre cards over strong cards.  Plus,  I had too much solid green to justify not playing it. I ended up splashing for the blue cards mentioned above with the help of a couple Voyaging Satyrs and Traveler’s Amulets.

I was the only player in our group not to have any byes, so when the first pairings were posted, I headed off on my own. I’d checked the table, but not my opponent, so imagine my surprise when I sat down across one of the few other girls at the event. We both thought it was pretty awesome. She’d gone to the modern GP in Kansas City, so it wasn’t her first big tournament, but it was her first limited GP. We chatted a little and I ended up winning the match, so it was a pretty good start to the day.

The middle part of the day kinda stunk. I lost rounds two and three, and my round four opponent was a no-show. It was nice to get the win, but I didn’t really like that I hadn’t won by playing my deck — I wasn’t feeling too confident in it, all things considered. A few of the games had been really close, but I’d stumbled on mana and just been outplayed a couple times.  I was starting to let myself feel intimidated, and it showed in my playing.

My fifth round opponent beat me fast. In the first game he got out Daxos of Meletis and just stomped me — I was stuck on mana and found no answer. And when I finally did, he played MY Sip of Hemlock on it from my library. Tear. Game two was completely different because he sided into an entirely new deck that was even stronger. Throughout the match he was very, very nice though. He could tell I was nervous, and told me to relax. Afterwards he looked at my deck and my pool and said if he’d had the pool he probably would have built the B/W deck, and splashed a couple things. But he was also the guy who said he liked the deck I’d built myself, and had no problems with it.

In the time between rounds, I looked at my options again, but kept on coming up short on playables. I decided to stick with my deck, and I’m glad I did. I won the next three rounds!

I think after I lost the third match and couldn’t possibly make day two, I stopped putting an obnoxious amount of pressure on myself. I just focused on the matches I was in, and focused on having fun and playing well. As a result, I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon.

One of the best parts of the event was talking with my opponents. They reminded me why I was there — to play a game. Yes, my goal was to beat them, but it was also to have fun and enjoy myself. Maybe it’s because I was in the bracket that wasn’t going on to day two, but it was full of nice people who just wanted to play good games of Magic.

I got a few confidence boosters by talking to them too. When I told one opponent how long I’d been playing, he said he was impressed at how well I played and understood the game. And when my eight round opponent asked if I’d had any byes and found I didn’t, he responded with something to the extent of ‘wow, you must actually be good!’.

I lost the ninth round, but I was exhausted and ready for the day to be over, so I wasn’t too upset. My last opponent was also really nice, so that helped too. And at the end of the day, I was still really proud of myself for going 5-4 and having a winning record at my first GP.

But the Magic-playing didn’t stop there. Even though we all scrubbed out of the GP, we went back to play in side events on Sunday. I decided to do the standard sealed event, which was fun. Steve actually played Neal Oliver in it, who won GP Vegas and got second place at GP Oakland. Apparently his luck ran out for GP OKC, though. I played a couple good players and a couple not-so-good players, but had a good time overall.

I mean, I was playing Magic all weekend. That’s obviously a good time, no matter what. (Once I’ve gotten past the devastating losses, that is.)

I’m definitely ready for some FNM this week! I’m also working on a standard deck of my own creation, so I’m pretty excited to get that together and playtest it. Because even though limited is awesome, I should probably know how to do well in Constructed as well.

All for now,
Bale.

Do you remember your first big tournament? How did you do, and what did you take away from it? 

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One response to “So. Much. Sealed.

  1. “One of the best parts of the event was talking with my opponents. They reminded me why I was there — to play a game. Yes, my goal was to beat them, but it was also to have fun and enjoy myself. Maybe it’s because I was in the bracket that wasn’t going on to day two, but it was full of nice people who just wanted to play good games of Magic.”

    That paragraph especially resignated with me. With so much focus on competing, often even among close friends, the ‘play the game for the sake of playing a really fun game’ element can often be lost. Yet, there is so much to learn from any opponent, whether you win or lose. Even if you are playing to ‘crush, kill, maim, destroy’ it is still cool to make friends doing it!

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