Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Interview with Dan Rein, Winner of PTQ Edison

Dan Rein, winner of the PTQ in Edison this past weekend, was kind enough to grant me an interview. He might even do a match report for me, so get ready to read about some exciting games of Magic! He beat Patrick Chapin in the semis and Steve Sadin in the Swiss portion! No mean feat. Enjoy! :)

Did you eat breakfast before the PTQ? If so, what constitutes a "Breakfast of Champions"?

I had the weirdest breakfast ever. I had a flounder fish sandwich and a chicken caesar wrap from a 7-11, a lemon Snapple, and a cup of coffee. Hey, it did the job I guess.

How long have you been playing Magic: the Gathering? When did you start playing competitively?

I've been playing Magic since I learned in 1995 actually, but never took it seriously or tried a tournament until 2004. I didn't even know what a ptq was until 2005. I used to play after school with my friends, I remember thinking Leviathan was the best card ever! Man how times have changed.

Will this be your first Pro Tour (PT San Diego 2010)? If so, how long have you been trying? If not, what other PTs have you attended?

It will be my first pro tour. I am so excited. I've been trying to get on the PT off and on for the past 4 years.

Is Limited your strong point or are you better at Constructed? Which do you prefer?

Definitely limited. I have been dominating MTGO sealeds and drafts for several years. I find limited to be much more skill intensive and fun. There is nothing like a good side draft to make my day. I feel like I am certainly capable in constructed, but with the way blue is represented in Magic recently, I don't find constructed as awesome right now. I love me some islands in constructed. But with PT San Diego being half limited half standard, I will be playing standard every day from now till the PT to hopefully master this standard format.

Who are you? What are you? Where are you from? Why are you here?

I'm Dan Rein of course. I'm a kid from Brooklyn all my life, born and raised. I'm 23. I went to SUNY Binghamton and community college later. I have had an assortment of jobs including working for the Mets, game stores, and restaurants. Still trying to find my way in life and using my experience in business to get there. I'm here because I love to play Magic and it's always been a dream of mine to do well. Now I have that chance, and I'm going to make the most of it.

What do you do for a living? Do you think you could play Magic for a living?

I currently work for the Mets. I had nothing to do with this past season though, don't blame me! I'm not sure if I could play Magic for a living because I don't think the financial support is big enough right now, but if this pro tour goes well and this season goes well for me I will definitely try. I will have no problems quitting my job or working less if I can make it in Magic. Too much love for the game.

How are you going to prepare for PT San Diego? Are you going to solely use Modo or is there something else?

I will be playing standard tournaments on MTGO every day. I also have a group set up already for testing that includes NY State Champion Tom Visconti, excellent local player and creator of Boros Bushwacker Christian Calcano, and my friend Chen Li. They are all planning to come to San Diego with me even though they aren't qualified yet and they are all going to make sure I am ready to dominate the standard portion of the event. I feel confident in my limited abilities, I just hope Worldwake doesn't completely change the format!

What are your previous Magic accomplishments?

Honestly, not much. I do have mutiple PTQ Top 8s, some GP Day 2s mixed in there, but I don't have any pro points. I've won plenty of MTGO tournaments before the switch to version 3, when I started playing less, although I am back again last couple of months playing regularly. I beat Aceman (Charles Gendron Dupont) last month in an m10 draft. Does that count?

What's your username on MTGO?

I have had 10-11 mtgo accounts over the last few years, and I created one the night before the ptq which I plan to be using for the next couple years and will be using that to play tournaments and test on, so I'll be on that one quite a bit. My new account's name is "HowDoYouSleep"

Do you have a favorite Pro Player? Who is it and why is it?

There are so many awesome pros I am looking forward to meet. I've only met a few of them, but the one I'm looking forward to meet most has to be Luis-Scott Vargas. He has to be my favorite pro. His articles are amazing, his draft videos are terrific, and he seems like a great guy. I used to play him in mtgo side drafts a few years back, and let's just say I didn't do very well against him. I feel like LSV is one of the best pro representatives for Magic. He does so much for the game.

What's your favorite Magic card of all time?

My favorite Magic card is Meloku the Clouded Mirror. Just an awesome creature, and I really wish it won that "You Decide" vote vs Akroma to appear as a Timeshifted card. I love control decks and blue in general, and that was the card that really got me into playing constructed seriously, and there was nothing like the look on your opponent's face in standard during the time period you resolved Meloku with counterspells to back it up.

What is your favorite deck of all time?

My favorite deck is mono blue control - mirrodin/kamigawa standard after the affinity bannings. Vedalken Shackles, Meloku, Mana Leak, Thirst for Knowledge, Temporal Adept. Now that's one awesome Magic deck.

What do you plan to bring for the Standard Portion of PT San Diego?

Well we're really going to kick up the testing once new years is over. Everyone is still in the celebrating holiday mood. I have run Cruel Ultimatum Grixis Control in 2 different daily events, going 3-1 in both. If I had my way I'll be playing some sort of blue-based control deck at the PT, but I have a feeling testing looking for the best deck will show that the best deck probably will be an aggro or mid-range deck and I am going to San Diego to win, not play what I would most enjoy playing. So I can't give you a definite answer on that, only time from testing will tell...but part of me so bad wants to be casting Cruel Ultimatum and Sphinx of Jwar long as it's good enough.

If you could tell Wizards to do whatever you wanted, what is the first thing you'd tell them?

Haha well I'd tell them to make a slower limited environment than Zendikar, stop hating on blue already, bring back counterspell, and give current players the tools needed to make a solid control deck. In fact, I do leave them messages about these things just about every day. Some worded not so nicely. But only because I really care about the game. Other than that Wizards is doing a great job and the game seems to be doing great.

How did you prepare for the PTQ?

When Zendikar first came out online I literally did about 4-5 sealeds a day during release events. Then drafted ZZZ all the time. Then did some more sealeds. Then a few more. I went to the PTQ in Brooklyn on 10/24, went undefeated in the swiss but drafted poorly (red-blue) and lost in top 8. But I was hungry to do better. Did some more online sealeds. I've probably done 400 sealeds. I don't even know. But I knew when I got to Edison, I knew I had to be the most prepared player in that room. I know this format inside and out.

What are you most looking forward to out of Pro Tour San Diego?

I'm really looking forward to the experience of playing against some pros, seeing what San Diego is about(I've never been off the East Coast in my life) and having a great time with my friends that come along. I'm so excited, this is what I've been working for for years.

In a ZZZ draft, what's your favorite archetype to go for?

In ZZZ draft, you want to be as aggressive as possible. I can't stress this enough. What you want to do is you follow the signals of what's passed to you, and if you can...don't go blue. As much as I love blue in Magic's history, Wizards has made it dreadful in this set for limited and constructed. People are now only starting to catch on that green isn't really that bad. You want to be the fastest deck at the table. That's the goal. My top8 deck at Edison had 3 Goblin Bushwacker, 3 Goblin Shortcutters, 2 Warren Instigators, Burst Lightning and Plated Geopede as some highlights. My first round of top8 was interesting mostly because of Vampire Nighthawk on the other side, my 2 games against Patrick Chapin were not close, and my finals games were also not close. Don't even bother drafting some Archive Trap deck or some slow Heartstabber Mosquito control deck. It just doesn't win consistently enough. Wizards made this set crazy aggro, and you have to roll with that for lack of a better term.

How did you keep yourself going through the day at the PTQ? Red Bulls and Sodas? Slapping yourself in the face? What are your techniques?

I'm not a big Red Bull drinker, so I kept myself going by constantly talking to people who were supporting me hoping I was going to do well. A couple cups of coffee helped and I also think that lemon Snapple from breakfast lasted me for 10 hours. As the Top 8 started I was a little tired, and during pack 3 I accidentally passed to the right instead of left for a moment. That was a bit embarrassing, but just the results from a long day of Magic. At no time did I feel like I couldn't win this PTQ. Once I was able to beat Steve Sadin during the swiss in 3 epic games, I knew it was my day.