Friday, September 17, 2010

Pro Tour Amsterdam: The Non-Magical Play-by-Play

I did very poorly at my first Pro Tour, but I was honestly expecting to do poorly (which probably contributed to my doing poorly). In general, I was not having a very good week. It was very possibly one of the worst weeks I've had in my life. I am trying very hard to forget it ever happened.

Fortunately, the Pro Tour itself was a lot of fun once I got to the site.

Amsterdam Convention Factory

The venue was called "The Factory", and it was an apt name. It was dim and very metallic and oddly hazy. It was the perfect place for a rave or a Mirrodin party. Maybe less ideal for a convention. It was impossible to find anybody in there.

At Registration, I got a free draft set and a Pro Tour Competitor shirt. The shirt had Venser on the back. I asked if it was a noob move to wear the shirt during the actual Pro Tour, and people said yes, so I didn't wear it. Instead I snatched a StarCityGames shirt from Craig Wescoe. (He's just my size!)

A lot of people still wore the PT shirt. Guess there were a lot of noobs at this event. Or a lot of people desperate for shirts.

I had trouble finding the rest of the team at the venue. As it turned out, they were doing secret testing at a secret falafel place. So secret that not even the entire team knew about it. (Not really their fault; none of our phones were working; internet was sparse; and in general it was impossible to contact people during our stay in Amsterdam, which made things very annoying.) The falafel place was amazing, by the way, and I ate there ~3 times during my stay. And every time, doner.

Doner is lamb on a spit. It looks nasty, and I guess it was a little bit, but it was tasty. That's usually all that matters to me. It was even better with their hot sauce, which was one of the best hot sauces I've ever tried (the kind where there's actually no max amount you can add, and it doesn't kill you).

Magic players are always an adventure. Why is that? Because it is hilariously impossible to hold onto a group of them for more than a minute or two.

Have you ever tried to hold onto smoke? Or a liquid in zero-gravity? Have you ever tried to run with sand clenched in your fists? The sand leaks.

This is what it is like to try to engage a group of Magic players and drag them somewhere else.

I've tried to play this juggling act all too often with Magic players, and it is futile. You start walking, and for a second, you think everything will be okay, but then you always lose one. When you lose one, you split the group in half, and then you just keep splitting like amoebas until it all dissolves into the solution that is a Tournament Venue.

Then you have to start over as a single cell, phagocytosing until you manage to reach a reasonable mass; if the mass exceeds the limit, you split up again, and everything goes to shit.

I could demonstrate this phenomenon to you if I just installed a webcam on the ceiling of a venue and tracked the individual particles. I could show you the play-by-play, and it would be unreal. Because we could be stuck here for hours.

There are surprisingly few people willing to just say, "Fuck all y'all" and leave in a smaller group. I am one of these people, though. So... you wanna ditch and just go? Let's leave the "Magic Venue microcosm" and like, evolve past it, k? Cool.

It's Saturday night in Amsterdam. We eventually narrowed it down to a group of ... 30 or so players. And what destination could possibly be so appealing as to attract a whopping 30 players??? Red light district, obv.

We'd just finished enjoying the Assault on Mirrodin party, where they served 5-color shots. The shots were very light, but that just meant some people took up 20 of them. Ben Hayes took some ridiculous number. He would later forget the part where he asked people to "sign my Mulldrifter." His Mulldrifter being me. His retelling of this tale is here on ManaNation.

Anyway, as this group of 30 or so exited the venue, Alex West said something along the lines of, "I'll follow Tom Martell until he passes out." Immediately at that moment, several yards away, Tom Martell fell into some bushes.

Our obnoxiously large group collectively tried to take the tram where we clearly disturbed all the locals. Much of it was spent jabbing Chris Mascioli and his attempt to find love in New Zealand. "How do you all know this story?" "You keep bringing it up." I once found a brief interview with Chris Mascioli on Magic-League. The interview was fairly normal, about the deck he ran, what formats he liked, etc. The last question was, "Anything else you'd like to add?" His answer was: "Don't ever travel across the world for someone."

When we got to the red light district, the whole "traveling Magic players phenomenon" kicked in. We started bleeding Magic players left and right. We quickly lost Calcano, Chapin, Sam Black, Gaudenis, a bunch of Brazilians, and more. We almost lost Wescoe several times, but we kept Wescoe Checking, and it usually worked. Sometimes in the nick of time, too; he almost got run over by several moving vehicles and at least one non-moving one.

Oh, also on Saturday, I made the final draft of the Magic Online Live Draft thing. I drafted blue-black three times. My first blue-black deck was awesome. My second one was terrible, but I mised the bye to make the next draft (we were missing people, and there were byes). My third deck was insane, and I lost to a red-black deck in the most frustrating way. I mean, I probably could've changed the outcome if I'd played differently, but I don't know.

Basically, neither of us was doing much of anything for some reason, but I was beating down with some measly creature and also pinging with a Pyromancer. He was pretty mana flooded. He cast a Destructive Force. I went down to 2 lands. I topdecked an Augury Owl and was able to set myself up into a Foresee into 2 Air Servants. I beat down with the Augury Owl until he was at 1 life. He Assassinated my Owl. I cast Air Servant. He cast Inferno Titan, killing my Air Servant, and promptly killed me.

I probably made a couple mistakes in that game. Mistakes suck. I need to stop making them. (Will go back and find out what they were later.)

I made some money though, so yay. Money.

One more thing of note happened in Amsterdam. On Brian Kibler's birthday, me, PV, and Zaiem went over to Kibler's hotel where Tom Ross already was, and we hung out for a while. We ate at this awesome all-you-can-eat Japanese place where the water was a rip off, but the rest was amazing.

Apparently the Ocho is unbeatable at all-you-can-eat. I believe it.

I tried to eat as much as possible, which involved like, a ton of sushi rolls, some chicken curry + rice, Miso soup, and dessert. I think going ALL sushi rolls is just correct, though. I got fooled into thinking I wanted variety when really I just wanted more sushi.

PV probably ate the most. Tom Ross ate the least (he didn't eat; he ran the cheats and snuck a piece of something under the table, though.)

Afterwards, we karaoked, and Zaeim just won. We weren't competing; there was no fight to see who was best; but Zaeim somehow won anyway. Would definitely play again. Might be better if I got drunk first, though.

And that was Amsterdam, in a nutshell. Mostly the non-Magic bits anyway. So, Paris? Anybody?