chino magic: 4-0

checked out chino magic — a store i found online that had some stellar reviews. there were a couple of other options, but this one seemed best. reviewers said the best thing about the store was the owner.

i messaged them on facebook asking when draft started, but never got an answer. i assumed it’d be at 7:00, and i arrived sometime around 6:35.

at the register, i saw a sign that said draft started at 6:30. if i was on ji-time, i don’t think i would have made it for draft today, which would have been a shame because i went undefeated.

the lady at the register, cat (kat?) asked me if i had a dci number with the store. i told her i had a dci number, but not with the store. she asked me if i had my dci card, and she was genuinely surprised to find out i had my number memorized.

there were 15 drafters, and i was seated with the pod of eight.

pack one, pick one: tolsimir. i thought about picking kaya or eternal taskmaster or sorin’s thirst, but then i’d have a problem with signals. sure, i could cut off black, but selesnya isn’t a color people often force, and i could go wolves or proliferate. i wanted an arlinn, a pack of wolves, and enough removal to get rid of big threats.

i picked up a wanderer, a law-rune force enforcer, and some conditional removal (gideon’s triumph and divine arrow). white cards i didn’t expect to see again were being wheeled. people were sleeping hard on white.

i picked up a solar blaze that made me consider splashing red or going gruul or boros. a late nahiri was a nice surprise.

pack two, pick one: domri. i started to consider going red as main with green or white getting splashed, especially after being passed a neheb. i passed a wolf and wasn’t helping myself on the proliferate front. even though i picked up a grateful apparition late, i knew i would need to force counters if i wanted that synergy.

i drafted another wanderer and a wanderer’s strike. more proliferation. needed more creatures with counters.

pack three, pick one: opened up the pack and had to smile. double ugin. all the way! i turned around, raised my hand, and got the owner’s (becky) attention. she came over, and i asked her, “what happens when i open a good pack?”

“you can buy another pack and replace it.”

when she left to get me a new pack, the table asked what i pulled.

“double ugin?!”

the drafter to my left expressed disappointment about not getting an ugin. “you would have passed me the foil one, right?” he asked.

with a new pack in hand, we continued the draft. i think i skipped the rare. don’t really remember what i picked, but pack three filled out the rest of my deck with some critical additions. got a second hex-proof crocodile, my first and/or second iron bully (counters!), and some two-drops — pouncing lynxes and war screecher.

a pledge of unity and a battlefield promotion were a huge relief to see.

looking back on the draft as a whole, i struggled with a few choices that could have made my deck better. i passed the 2/2 pegasus that carries another attacker, and i passed some mana fixing. i also passed some removal — the green fight card that sends damage from two creatures.

when i started building my deck, i left all the red cards besides domri on the cutting floor. i only had a paradise druid in terms of mana-fixing (i passed the 2/4 mana-fixer that gets you two life and the lands), and i added just one mountain to the deck. looking at the curve, i felt comfortable enough to cut down to 16 lands.

i didn’t add kiora because i wanted to be a little more aggressive. i could have drafted a huatli, but i wasn’t aware of my deck at the time and passed. looking back, it might have helped since most of my creatures were higher tougheness.

match 1: put in an ignite the beacon after winning my first game. my opponent scooped and then got flooded during the second game.

match 2: during the first game of my second match, my opponent played a toll of the invasion. he left me with the signal the beacon because i had two planeswalkers in my hand. when i used it to get domri and the wanderer from my deck, he was amazed. he won the game, but i took the next two games after taking out beacon and one of the enforcers for two lynxes.

things could have ended much differently, though. after the third game, he showed me a murder girl he was saving. had he drawn any one of his 2/1 creatures, i might have lost.

of all the matches, this one was the hardest. the tolls and davriel were really hard to deal with, especially because i didn’t have any card-draw. he had a couple of cantrips, and he had card advantage.

match 3: i took the first game against my third-round opponent, but he had no problems during the second. i kept a hand that didn’t have a play until the third or fourth turn. he took full advantage, swinging hard and throwing sarkhan’s catharsis at me twice. his mowu was dangerous — i forgot about the trample damage when he attacked my nahiri. i exiled it, but his arlinn’s wolf had done enough damage to bring me within range for sarkhan’s blasts.

match 4: my fourth-round opponent had mana problems and couldn’t mount a solid defense. he had plenty of removal, especially during the first game, but he couldn’t keep up. the second game, he got rid of my grateful apparition a turn after it was cast, but my iron bullies had other ways of getting huge.

he handed me his deck after the match, and i dodged a pretty big bullet. he had tons of removal and his threats were strong. had he drawn the right mana at the right time, he would have met me halfway or put me on my back foot instead of just playing to his means. my hexproof crocodiles, once they landed and got counters on them, were my finishers — i was surprised to see he had left lillian’s triumph in his sideboard.

in salinas, drafts are $12 and a pack per win. tonight, i went 4-0, which net me nine packs and a promo. the past three weeks, i haven’t been doing well in draft. going 4-0 and picking up a stack of packs felt great, and i had some great conversations with becky and cat (kat?) about the store, its business, and the community.

hearing how the store received 300 prerelease kits and hosted a midnight prerelease that was so big, they had to rent the restaurant next door — i was amazed. i was even more amazed to hear that the store held a sealed and two-headed giant tournament at the same time for its prerelease.

and like most of the stores in the country, chico magic was struggling to keep war of the spark on its shelves. becky said it was the best-selling magic set ever for her store — she sold through her initial 90 boxes, then another 40, and was waiting on another delivery. they wouldn’t sell any boxes tonight because they had to keep enough for draft.

overall, i am glad i checked out chico magic — and not because i went 4-0 or pulled a double-ugin pack. the community seems healthy, the owner knew what she was doing, and the prices were fair (booster boxes were $100). i wish they had war of the spark boxes on sale because i would have bought four in order to get the buy-a-box promos.

the reviews were spot-on about the owner. she was so knowledgeable and friendly, i messaged a friend about throwing cash at the store to support it. i might go tomorrow to pick up a single or two.

and if they get any boxes, i might be buying those too.

here’s the deck including sideboard (draft was continuous deck construction).

(2) iron bully
(2) law-rune enforcers
(2) pouncing lynx
(2) wardscale crocodile
bloom hulk
grateful apparition
paradise druid
tolsimir, friend to wolves
taiyo’s lightshield
war screecher

(2) the wanderer
domri, anarch of bolas
nahiri, storm of stone

battlefield promotion
divine arrow
gideon’s triumph
ignite the beacon
pledge of unity
wanderer’s strike

courage in crisis
nissa’s triumph

(8) forest
(7) plain
(1) mountain


first official day of cue conference 2019.

while we waited for the exhibit hall to open at 11am, i met the guy who wrote the first book on programming the apple iie and talked to sony representatives about their new programmable robots.

in the hall, i stopped at a vendor passing out bags branded with the msi logo. i haven’t purchased any msi parts for my custom computers, but after today, i’m thinking about making msi my go-to computer if we fill the lab at school with more desktops.

apparently, msi is getting into education via esports. and if i get my way, i’m going to start building an esports team for league of legends and magic arena at the high school.

i mean, why not? students get recruited by colleges for sports and other extracurriculars, and esports is bringing in lots of cash. ninja’s out there promoting apex legends for seven figures, and colleges are jumping on the train and recruiting.

it’s a field i have some experience in, and i’ve always wanted to coach. it could get more students interested in computer science and elevate the pathway. and like the football program, we could bring in some money to be used to get the department moving further, faster.

while i kept myself giddy thinking of things that could be, i didn’t neglect to check out some really great sessions. i checked out google’s artificial intelligence and machine learning session where i got some great links.

if you didn’t know, google has a science fair that students can participate in.

they also have a site called experiments with google that’s loaded with new and fun ideas people can play with.

i skipped the key note to attend a session about how — and why — teachers should become google certified instructors and innovators. i’m planning on getting myself to at least level two as a google certified educator, and maybe i’ll try getting certified as a trainer as well. being able to get your own demo domain and getting first looks at new google stuff is a perk i’m really interested in.

after the sessions, i came back to the hotel, charged my phone, then waited to see what everyone else was up to. after a few hours waiting, i decided to go out and venture the downtown area alone.

the palm springs farmers’ market was out in full force with people everywhere. after wandering the strip back and forth, i settled for some ramen and a rice bowl at a restaurant.

then, because i felt like i should, i went to the casino and played some blackjack.

i say played, but it wasn’t all that fun — and maybe it was good it ended that way. i lost $500 before i even finished my dr. pepper. on my second hand, i somehow miscounted 12 as 17. the guy next to me must have thought i was a complete idiot.

i think it was fitting that my last blackjack game ended so pitifully. i think my gambling days are over, at least for now, and i don’t just mean gambling in casinos. i think my recklessness has finally lost its appeal. it’s a characteristic of mine that i’m finally ready to shed.

and for good reason. i’m about to receive an expensive speeding ticket, and i’ve been carrying a credit card debt on a laptop i bought years ago. i’ve made some really poor decisions these past few years — these past few decades.

like, why? what am i doing?

i’m ready to be better, and it takes a bit of accounting.

but i’m ready.

(coincidentally, rick and morty have just blown up something. rick is shaking, and morty is asking why rick keeps getting them in bad situations. this is hitting close to home for me.)


finally settled in the hotel room here in palm springs. the wi-fi is spotty, but i’ve got verizon to thank for the unlimited plan and mobile hotspot via phone tether.

the drive from salinas was long — really long. i drove down by myself this year, and i got a speeding ticket for my efforts.

chp caught me near paso robles on highway 46 going 91 miles per hour in a 65 zone. i knew i was done for as soon as i looked down at my speedometer after i recognized the vehicle passing me in the opposite lane.

at least he didn’t tail me for a few miles before flashing the lights. we were pretty much alone on the highway, so there was no need for suspense.

having no passengers riding with me meant i spent the entirety of the trip popping cd’s in and out of the deck, singing along to u2, jimmy eat world, audioslave, pearl jam, and phantom planet. there was some radiohead and coldplay near the end.

so, here we go — cue conference 2019. it’s good to be back where the sun is out. i’m going to get some food after this quick post and maybe walk around a casino.