Real quick update.... not a whole lot going on right now.I went to aruba and vegas since i last posted.
the trip to aruba was the worst vacation i've ever been on. why? well while nothing catastrophic happened lots of really crappy stuff did. here's the list. I hurt my back a week before going... making sitting for long times hard and a lot of things impossible. My connecting flight was canceled. I got stuck over night in chicago (despite it being on a new noon when the flight was canceled) which lost me a day of vacation (thanks American Airlines :( ) my next morning flight was at 5:30am. i usually get up around 11am... and was already on 3-4 hour sleep so I was exhausted in a way i shouldn't have been for a leisure vacation. They lose my bags. lesson learned pickup your bag if you have a canceled flight. dont leave it overnight.
My accommodations weren't a resort. This my fault but was a shock when i got there. I thought it was but it was a condo :( This means no comforts or even a gift shop. everything i need is about a mile walk away. Like you know, clothes i didnt have cause of the lost bag (thanks american airlines). There is no bar (wet or otherwise), no place to get clothes/gift shops, no restaurants, no casino, tv was basic cable, no... well anything except a pool and a nearby small public beach. even people didn't exist. the place was so empty. the pools were nice though. There was 1 near by restaurant that did a special 8 course meal thing i did. but otherwise it was a pretty giant waste/not a vacation.
The island is a desert, so not to much to look at (cactus and everything) and it was so windy! I skipped/missed 2 of the 3 excursions i planned because of my back and the canceled flight. My ear got clogged with wax Saturday night right before the 8 course meal (so i had this delightful ringing muffled sound in right ear for the rest of the trip). Turns out there are no pharmacies open in Aruba Sunday. Not that they really could have helped i didn't get it cleaned out till Wednesday at the doctors office. i had allergies Saturday night... and full on sickness Sunday night (flew back Monday). So yeah. all in all it was terrible/felt like work.
Vegas was the exact opposite. i stayed at the Belagio and while it was really nice they did have a few bad things that surprised me. the sink liked to suck air when someone else in the hotel flushed a toilet which means it would go "glug" in the middle of the night. the hall smelled of mold and clearly had a broken pipe right before i got there... so yeah odd for being a fancy hotel.
The pools were amazing as was the food. i saw 1 show (Michael Jackson one). I think i'm just done with musical shows cause it was kinda boring/not my thing. Also I played in the vegas GP which went terribly but they refunded my money. the did this to compensate us for waiting around. They had technical issues so we sat for like 2.5 hours doing nothing (they also gave me a free entry to another gp later that year. i was done with GPs but... free entry so yeah maybe i'll do one more)
I got pretty badly sunburned at the pool. apparently the shirt i wore down took off a lot of my suntan lotion :( let that be a lesson to you all; reapply at the pool. the pool though, amazing! drinks/good times/books/swimming/lots of people. yeah no complaints there.
Finally (unrelated) i've put together another website to track the various things I've been working on. check out project106.com when you get a chance. The site itself is just a living document about the rest of the projects. Many of which I'll mention here eventually.
I feel like I've started many things and then abruptly stopped before i really got in to the thick of it. I'd like to share some of the highlights. Doing so will give anyone reading a good picture of where everything is with the stuff i normally (its been over two months) blog about.
Data Mining: Almost 6 months ago I was working on a GBM in a GBM model and there it has sat since then. It's not that I think it's merit-less, it is just that I doubt it'll produce amazing results. So, I'm not really inspired to finish it. Also, I don't have a kaggle contest to work on right now and that helps drive my interest in the algorithm. Truth be told, I'm beginning to think data mining is getting near the end of its "big gains" period. the human analysis part may very well be improvable but that's never interested me much.
Running: I started running, then i stopped, then I started again. to expand on this, it was fine, then i over did it, then I got motivated and eased back in. I've got a marathon in mind I want to go to. It is still 11 weeks away so I'm training up for that. I'll talk more about it when I commit to it fully (basically in about 4 weeks).
Math: I spent a lot of time trying to solve the 3 cubes problem. My most recent attempt sent me down a rabbit hole of general factoring. I actually thought I had a method for doing that, only to realize that my solution to the problem was such a tiny corner case as to be unusable. The net-net is I got nothing I'm pursuing here right now.
Magic: Things continue to wind down. there is a grand prix tourney in Dallas in 2 weeks but I don't think I'm gonna go. I still have fun playing most weeks but I'm definitely not feeling the drive to brew decks like i did. And, lets be honest, i've never felt the competitive spirit this time around. That is to say, I want to win sure, but deck building always took precedence. as it is so much more interesting than playing a known decent deck, which just makes it hard to be competitive.
EM Drive: Have you seen this thing? Its about 2 years old from a "oh hey something new!" perspective. but the last few days I've been reading up on the science and watching youtubes about it. I have to admit I'd like to better understand how it works. I totally get what virtual particles are, but I don't get how they can get the transfer of momentum to them (they are incredibly hard to interact with). Just something I've been messing with and thought I'd include as a bullet point. I doubt I'll build anything in my garage but crazier things have happened.
I haven't had a blog in such a long time. The last thing i wrote about was the sum of 3 cubes, which while i'm working on is now in a pot with a bunch of other things I'm working on. this post though is all about gen con and magic. hopefully I'll get another up in the next day or so on some other stuff going on.
First, magic, I went Gen Con again this year, and played a lot of magic among other things there. it was great in general but the magic part of it was pretty lack luster. Not much to say here other than my magic days are winding down. Its not that I don't enjoy the game but the discovery and problem solving aspect of it is almost played out for me. It may be counter intuitive but when you get to a point where you can't sabotage your deck with random crazy ideas (cause you feel like you've tried them all) you start to do better but it becomes a lot more boring. That's a long winded way of saying winning with the expected decks is boring. And really winning in general is kind of boring. The struggle in anything is what makes it exciting.
I don't really plan on doing any more mtg grand prix's though I might squeeze in 1 or 2 next year if the event looks like it'll be a ton of fun. I expect this time next year, i'll either be done with it or have like 1 major event.
Also as a note, Gen Con next year is the 50th anniversary so if you aren't planning on going, change your plans! It'll be one not to miss. Assuming I go (you never know for sure) I won't be playing nearly as much magic, and I'll definitely be getting more sleep. being tired the entire con makes it less fun and less memorable. Also it goes by much quicker which stinks!
Besides magic, I played true dungeon (1st dungeon was meh, 2nd was pretty good). I did AEG big game night (fun when you have others with you). Did the keg tapping on Wednesday for the 20 sided rye ale. I did the orc stomp 5k (probably wont do this next year, cause the 6:30am start time... ie 5:45 wake up ruins a lot of the con cause of the lack of sleep i get). And I got a chance to demo a friends game for an hour and half. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1410499285/dragonstone-mine-a-family-friendly-board-game
Back to magic, what am I playing right now? In standard bant humans. In modern The rock (or my version of it). in legacy eldrazi-post (12 post with eldrazi) and painter. I'm working on a zur's weirdening/life gain deck in modern. And I'm working a black/white control/life gain deck in standard as well.
First let me share this 'cause you know, ridiculous.
That's pretty much what I'm working on right now in my data mining. it's about half done.
Also I haven't had any marathon training updates. The short version is I've decided to hold off and only give updates when there is something meaningful to share. I never wanted this blog to be work, not to mention I want it to be enjoyable to read. Doing a daily or weekly update for the sake of the update doesn't in my mind fit that. I'm still running, still putting in around 16 miles a week. The weight hasn't really come off. I'm hovering around 197. I figure in a few more weeks if something doesn't give I'll make a more concerted effort to change my diet.
Magic the gathering continues to be a fixture in my life, legacy play especially. I've been contemplating a couple decks in legacy. One I called fraken-mud which was a tool kit mud deck that used birthing pod and eldrazi instead of the usual suspects (like metalworker and forgemaster). It's been inconsistent. Sometimes its really really good, but last week i went 0 for 4... yeah talk about disappointing. I'm also looking at black-white cloudpost deck I want to try that just runs lots of my favorite things (stoneforge, wurmcoil, deathrite, bitter blossom, ugin ..etc) not sure if it'll work or not. I'll try it this friday. I've also got a white painter's deck in the wings I'm gonna try in a few weeks as well. I think going the all red or red white or red blue route on painter grindstone is fine. but I want to try an all white version.
In standard I've been trying to find something interesting to play but eh... it all seems like rehash. I'm probably going to play green white little creatures/good-stuff next time I play. And as for modern, well i have my abzan eldrazi deck still together. I think that's all you get till i get a wild hair and build ... i dunno a new version of affinity. I'd kind of like to try souping up affinity. making it more mid range/stable. but we'll see.
Well they posted the the new ban list for magic. Also poor eye of ugin you were .... so broken. It was totally the right choice though. Two free mana for any eldrazi spell when there are so many good fairly cheap eldrazi? yes please. They made the right decision. And really eldrazi is still totally viable. I'm going to try keeping the modern, standard and legacy decks I have together for now... though I might tweak the modern one some.
They unbanned 2 cards and that I found surprising. sword of the meek enables a pretty ridiculous combo and Ancestral Vision just makes blue decks and possibly any cascade decks better. If they have room for it that is.
The sword combo deck should change the meta. It's too strong of a combo not to have some people play it. I'll eventually get my hands on a playset and see if I like playing it, but i'm in no hurry.
However, the ancestral visions card will just make some decks better. There is no shardless agent or bloodbraid elf in modern, so you can't get a decent creature AND trigger visions in 1 go, at least not for 3 or 4 mana. I'm sure some decks will just throw it in for the draw advantage 4 turns later for the long game. There might be a way to cheat it in to play besides cascade. It occurs to me just now, I suppose you could use the new shadows over innistrad card Brain in a Jar to cast it outright. You would have to remove the jar from play before the ability resolves and have had no counters on it to begin with (it uses the last known information about the brain in a jar card when resolving the ability). Regardless, I picked up some of these up because they seem like a staple for deck building in modern now that it's legal.
Speaking of the new set, I have just a few small observations from playing in the prerelease(s). The green hate bears seem... nuts. White has some really good creatures as well as Archangel Avacyn (which just wins games). Red got some nice agro support and black got more zombies (never a bad thing) not to mention a vampire or two. I can see black agro variants and Green/white or red/green creature decks being a thing. Especially since collected company has not rotated out yet.
As I already mentioned I'll will continue to play my standard eldrazi for a while, probably changing it slightly to use a few of the newer cards... but I think (eventually) I'm going to try my hand at either a blue or blue/black mill deck. It seems like that could be the next thing. Blue didn't seem to get all the obvious love that the other colors did but i think it probably got enough stall between Jace, Unraveler of Secrets and Engulf the Shore and mill cards like Startled Awake and Manic Scribe that it could be a real threat especially with a nicely timed languish. That being said add Sphinx's Tutelage to Forgotten Creation or dark deal and all at once the game gets over in a hurry.
A PPTQ is a Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifier (for magic the gathering). I've not won one before, but I came as close as I ever have this last weekend. I did it playing this deck http://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/24-03-16-4-color-eldrazi/ . It was a 33 person tournament (6 rounds) I ended up losing the semi finals to a rally deck. Rally the Ancestors has pretty much dominated the tournaments in standard at least locally. Though based on mtgtop8.com it seems to be a thing in other places too.
It uses either Zulaport Cutthroat triggers or an unblocked Nantuko Husk to win. Usually the former in my experience. I tried to prepare for it using hallowed moonlight (which is also good against other things) and a single cranial archive which would force them to reshuffle their graveyard (making the rally worthless) but it wasnt enough. In the end I neglected to always leave my 2 mana open to trigger cranial and lost on a top deck rally. Game one they won as they tend to do without my sideboard.
This leads me to possibly a better solution. I think I'll be trying tainted remedy next time. For the rally match up it should work wonders as they don't run enchantment removal. Most of the time when they start trying to win with the cutthroat they have less life than I do and in short it would kill them. I'll have it as a 2 of in the sideboard somewhere. It's also worth mentioning, it will also would help against any decks running normal life gain monsters like seeker of the way or soulfire grand master. Not that we see a lot of those these days.
On a final note concerning the two planeswalkers I ran. The unsung hero of my deck was Sorin, Solemn Visitor. He pulled his weight more than you would expect, i got paired against two prowess decks and he got me through both matches. As far as Gideon, Ally of Zendikar goes, he's been underwhelming as of late. I think that has more to do with the prevalence of dragons and rally in the format. Both decks try to win in a way that make him more or less a non issue.
I went to the Magic the gathering grand prix event in Detroit. It was interesting but maybe less fun than past events, this is mainly due to me having done it too many times before. The novelty has finally worn off.
I made day two playing an eldrazi tron deck I put together. My record was 7-2 going in to day 2 (I had 2 byes) I think this had less to do with my magical brewing skills and more to do with eldrazi being so easy to play and overly powerful. I fully expect eye of ugin to be banned and possibly eldrazi mimic. Though to be honest temple and mimic would work as well. Why mimic? cause it's a 2 mana creature that enables the super fast wins.
If you curve perfectly with nothing more than eye of ugin then waste waste waste... it's a 3/2 turn 2, 4/4 turn 3, 5/5 turn 4. Granted it might die along the way, but essentially you are paying 2 mana for 2 of whatever your biggest creature is. And if it dies the real creature lives. It gets worse if you get up to ulamog (which my tron deck of course ran). It is also abusive in other ways since any colorless creature you put in to play will trigger it's abbility. Just be happy phyrexian dreadnought isn't available in modern. :)
Don't get me wrong without the rest of the eldrazi it's a 'meh' card. If they leave it, it'll be because they want the eldrazi deck to remain a 'thing' in modern. it still could be with just temple and mimic. I would think it'll still be to strong/consistent with that though. The consistency is what really makes it a good deck. Most games I didn't have an eye of ugin opening hand. Losing eye would slow up my deck maybe half the games and make the end game more difficult. But regardless eldrazi tron would probably remain a viable deck.
I should add I didn't play against much eldrazi. I think this was just luck and part of what got me to day 2. I did play about everything else under the sun though. Day one went something like this: I played infect (lost 1-2), white blue planeswalkers (really surprised to play this! won 2-0), mardu tokens/goodstuff (2-0), black white tokens (2-1), red/green eldrazi (lost 1-2), abzan chord of calling deck (2-1) and affinity (won 2-1). Day Two went: storm (lost 1-2), merfolk (won 2-1), eldazi tron (mirror match! won 2-0), living end(lost 1-2 drop)
My losses could have gone either way most of the time, but that's the luck of the draw. my deck could have used more testing. there were cards I cut almost every game but that just shows you how good eldrazi is that it could carry itself with maybe 4 so-so cards being run with it.
I'm not going to abandon eldrazi post ban. In fact I've long since put together my legacy eldrazi deck and have been tweeking it. I dont see it going anywhere anytime soon :) it's really competitive.
Just quick post about legacy. I tried an eldrazi deck I built last night at my local shop's legacy fnm. The short version is the deck did remarkably well and went 4-0. It might just have been luck as any decent deck can fight it's way through the variance every once in a while, but this was fairly one sided. The only game I lost was in the 4th round and it was with a hand I probably shouldn't have kept.
I was thinking I was going to try a green and black deck at the legacy grand prix in June, but I think I might try this if it continues to impress. I didn't get a real test against any combo decks but it beat 2 shardless bug decks, a merfolk deck and miracles. I also played against death and taxes afterwards and it seemed to hold it's own just fine. Anyways here's the deck
I should warn you I might modify the deck the link goes to slightly. This was was just a first go at the deck and as I figure out where the holes are I'll modify the side board and tweak the main board.
I've talked about it before and it's high time I wrote a little about it. I play magic the gathering and have for years. I'm going to skip a lot of basic explanation that a laymen might need and assume if you keep reading you have some said knowledge of how the game works and what sets are currently coming out. I'll also assume you know what the different tournament structures are and know at least a little something about deck building and technical game play (triggers, the stack, layers etc).
That being said, 2 interesting things are happening right now. First Modern has really turned in to a mess with the introduction of the new eldrazi cards from oath. Mess might be the wrong word. Let's say that all forms of the eldrazi deck seem to be dominant. You only have to watch this video of the coverage of the end of the pro tour to see that. I find this article's first line about them the most apt Can Eldrazi decks be beaten? (to save you from clicking 'No. See you next week!').
What happened/how this came to be was they made the eldrazi in the latest set strong/on par with the creatrues with color. They treat the colorless "waste" mana symbol like its a regular colored mana symbol. This would be all well and good except they had previously printed some lands (Eldrazi Temple and Eye of Ugin) that make the really high mana cost eldrazi easier to cast by reducing the mana cost or providing extra mana in lands that have basically no other function. When you combine the two... it's... it's just not fair.
There was another rather major change in modern, they banned splinter twin which changes up the control scene in modern. Not for reasons of being too powerful (it kind of was) but just to change things up. I like the idea but i think control players will have a tough time finding a good reliable replacement. Not that this really directly impacts the eldrazi addition. It's just another thing.
What decks have I been playing in modern? I've been throwing around a naya tokens deck for a while. I like it but its not quite consistent enough. I've tried to put together an blue white control deck as well. it's good but eldrazi will walk over it. I've even toyed with beating eldrazi using painter's servant (which adds color to everything, screwing up their accelerator lands) but it also seems inconsistent. This all leads me to, if you can't beat em, join em. Without further adieu I give you my eldrazi brew black eldrazi tron. it's a work in progress. I like the use of the Whip and oblivion stones not to mention leveraging Expedition Map. But it may all change after some testing.
There is a modern starcity open in Kentucky this weekend. I talked myself out of going. That's a bit of a shame as it would have been a great place to test my deck. It's just a 4 hour drive each way (or by plane, there are no direct flights) just stinks. So, i'll just try it out at my local shop (Realms of Gaming).
Oh and on one final note, wizards of the coast decided to reprint a number of older cards in a set called vintage masters. I understand the motivation (money) and the reasoning (some of those cards are hard to come by) but since most of the really good cards in the vintage tournament scene are forbidden from being reprinted by the reserve list and a lot of the ones that should be reprinted to make legacy more viable for new players are also on the list (read: dual lands). I question what effect it will really have on those tournaments in general, and if this is just a for fun set or ... or what. I guess in the end, any reprint is a good for those formats even if the $500 and up cards never see the printing press again.