A very long day

Got up at 4:15 a.m. to leave at 4:45 for what Katie and I thought was a 6:00 flight but was actually a 6:30 flight. It was a good thing we had that extra half an hour, because on the shuttle from long term parking, we stopped for a good ten minutes because some lady wanted to file a complaint that she slipped and fell in the parking lot or something stupid like that that couldn’t wait because she had a 6:30 flight and of course none of the rest of us on the shuttle were in a hurry or anything so we sat at a stop while the driver was on the phone with his supervisor or something.

I couldn’t sleep on the plane, despite only getting four hours of sleep. They gave promised us “breakfast cookies” but instead gave us Belgian-made multi grain wafers, which I don’t believe could be called “cookies” but instead probably qualify as some sort of building material. Katie keeps offering hers to me, I ate mine because I was actually quite hungry.

Once in Seattle, the weather is surprisingly nice, though not-so-surprisingly cold. (Yes, I’m so Californian that “cold” is when I can see my breath when I breathe out through my mouth.) The forecasted rain seems to loom further and further away, what was originally forecast as rain starting tonight has now changed to starting tomorrow night, and at this rate will not start raining until, if my luck holds out for Seattle trips, the moment I set foot off the Jetway in Seatac.

We checked into the Clarion, which is the three-story, single row hotel version of the Winchester Mystery House. Just walking the entirety of the building from one end to the other on the third floor takes you up and down ramps, through a bridge that bends 90 degrees twice, around a couple of corners, and back up another ramp. The stairs behind the lobby take you to the second floor where the restaurant is, but there are no stairs to the third floor there, instead you have to take the scary looking, much-too-small elevator.

The first registration line that I’d had to stand in since ACen 2001 (and only my second ever) was a doozy. I spent two hours in line outside in the “cold”. At one point, I saw two guys with their Nintendo DSes out, so I pulled mine out and proceeded to invade their Pictochat conversation. Katie came and went as she tried to figure out if she was getting a badge from Natsuki, who was in the process of trying to figure out why Funimation didn’t have a table in the dealer’s room.

Finally got out of the reg line to find the single station at the front handing out badges. Got a pocket program guide, ran into cochrane at the Japan-a-Radio booth. Figured out when the Real Life panel was and wandered around with Katie until we split ways for me to go to the panel, and she went to hers. I surprised Greg and Liz with my presence, but didn’t get to follow them around much until their GoH duties dragged them off. I tried to keep them appraised of the ShirtNinjas dinner tomorrow night, though. At some point, I managed to figure out that the free high speed internet offered at the hotel here is actually of the wireless type, which makes me forgetting an ethernet cable a much better thing. It also lets me compose this entry while lying in bed, much like home. But I’m skipping ahead.

At some point, I had realized that there was a Friday Night Magic booster draft in the CCG room, and wondered if I should go. Well, it was scheduled to start at 6, so I wandered over at 5 and signed up and watched some random guys playing, chatted around, tried to convince people that their feeble grasp of the rules was, in fact, invalid and misinformed, etc. I figured that the group was a group of people that would be more at the level where I’d have a decent chance of actually doing well and possibly walking away with prizes. Let’s go into a sidebar, you can skip this part if you don’t understand Magic.

At 7, when they actually got around to starting the draft, they have 20 people for this DCI sanctioned draft. In any normal circumstance, when you have 20 people for an event, you take 16, make two pods of eight, and say “Sorry, we can’t take your money” to the other 4. Nope. Two pods of ten it was. Okay, I could deal with that, they wanted everyone to participate. Okay, we have people who’ve never drafted before, we have people who’ve never seen the cards before, sure I can do okay. I open a pack that has a decent rare (Tatsumasa) and nothing else exciting, take it, get passed a pack with two good green commons, take it, then proceed to see no other good green cards, so I end up taking blue and red, and getting decent picks.

Meanwhile, the guy sitting directly across from me is making the kinds of motions of a guy who’s seeing cards still in the packs that shouldn’t be there….

Wait a minute, I am repeating myself? This sounds awwwwwfully familiar. Didn’t this just happen two weeks ago? Same play, different actors? Can this possibly end well? Is the curse based on locale? Opponents? Well….

I’m not seeing good cards in any color, except once in a while in everything other than blue or red, which I took this time ’round, not wanting to have a repeat of last time. On the second pack, however (after opening a much more typical rare of Vassal’s Duty), the second pick choices include every possible color except blue or red. So I switched to the color I had one other quality choice in… Green.

Yes, that’s right, I actually switched colors! The bane of my existence in playing Magic! My attachment to previous choices and inability to recognize signals. I took a good green card, then in the next pack, another. And another. There were no good red cards at all, I took a few more blue cards, and got such joys as a sixth pick Sosuke. The last pack was equally kind, giving me a sixth and seventh-or-so Gnarled Mass and a 12th pick Mindsweeper. I ended up splashing red for a sole Torrent of Stone, with other sideboard options, with a Kodama’s Reach and an Elder to fix the mana. Knowing what was going on at the table, and based on my deck, I though I was going to do rather well.

That’s when I overheard the two guys talking about who they were playing in the first round. (The pairings had been written on the white board as we were drafting, another big no-no for DCI events.) Turns out they were playing people in the other pod.

This is breaking a big rule of booster drafts. You don’t ever play a tournament situation where you play people’s decks against each other that didn’t come out of the same card pool. Without any control over other people’s decks, information known from cards passed, equal opportunity at cards, you’re starting on uneven ground. I protested but no one seemed to care.

Oh well, it seemed like there were enough inexperienced people in the room, I should get someone who won’t completely overpower me. I sit down, win the choice to play first, keep a three island, three green cards (two with double green), floating dream zubera hand, and proceed to lose by him going turn two cutthroat. turn three ninjitsu out mistblade shinobi bouncing my zubera, replay cuthroat. (Turn four I draw a forest and play my order of the sacred bell) Befoul my sacred bell, swing. (I draw unplayable card in my hand number five) He plays Soratami Savant (I draw unplayable card number six) he plays another cutthroat I concede, finally drawing a card I can play and not being able to cast it without being countered.

Game two, I even got to play cards, but he double cutthroat, double mistblade, and the game was over even though I kept trying to cast things, it wasn’t even fair.

My match was over before some other matches might have even decided who was going first. In disgust I dropped from the tournament, and if I find out who that organizer was, I may be reporting him to the DCI.

But anyway, just as I had started drafting I got a cell phone call from ShirtNinja Jezebel, who I had given my number to on the forums and was trying to find me. Halfway through the draft, he calls again to ask what I look like, as he walks in the door and I say “I’m the one with the cell phone against my head,” right to him. 😛

After I drafted, but before I played, I chatted a little with him and Funnyginman, who were outside. I just wish they’d stuck around a bit longer, but then they’d have gotten the brunt of my false-advertising-DCI-blasphemising-time-wasting-money-grubbing Magic experience.

Instead, I called Albert and complained to him. I’ll get to see the ShirtNinjas tomorrow, anyway. After that I wandered aimlessly a bit, wandered into Natsuki and followed her around, like I often do to people at cons, then wandered off not 30 seconds before Katie wandered into them, in some weird freak accident of fate. Went back to the hotel room, watched some more West Wing season 4, checked my email and made a LJ post that took almost an hour and a half to type that I almost just deleted and would have been very upset.

It’s been a long day.

11 Replies to “A very long day”

  1. Christ Andy, just don’t play anymore in this block, you are going to give yourself an aneurism or something. I mean, really the cards in it aren’t that exciting, and you are clearly not having a good time. I can’t believe about the pod-switching, but I’m sure the real concern should have been cards getting in from the outside world (or from each others decks). I am guessing there was just one judge and no deck reg?

      1. well there is no proof there! You’re not in any of the pictures! besides who cares, if you did not know us then it doesn’t count!

        BTW, I’m sure I was at your room party and that Priya and I got all drunk and kidnapped someone from the party and made him traipse drunkenly around the hotel with us for three hours! 😀

  2. I’ve never played in a MtG tournament, but i’ve played in enough other sorts of tournaments to see that what happened to you sounds like total BS. I’d bring it up at the Con Gripe/Feedback session. Sakura Con is usually pretty good about addressing attendee feedback.

    And Ka, yes, he was at ACen!

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