Like many this past weekend, I trekked into Los Angeles to attend the Star City Games Open at the LA Convention Center. Actually, I really went to attend Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo, but I knew that SCGLA was going to be there, so I threw some Commander decks and some empty sleeves into my backpack… just in case.
I arrived at the expo about 30 minutes before it opened, but luckily for me the tournament area for SCG was already open, so I went in, grabbed a chair and perused my program for which panels I would attend, and which booths I would check out. While sitting there I saw Brian David Marshall chatting and registering his deck. That’s really the only Magic “celeb” that I saw all day.
When they announced the Expo was open I went right through the little side opening they had between the tournament area and the expo proper to avoid the long lines to get in the main doors. Don’t worry I paid for my entry into the expo, even though it would have been incredibly easy to slip out into the main expo without doing so.
The first stop was the main stage where Stan Lee opened the expo and announced a new iOs game that he has been involved with, Stan Lee’s Verticus, developed by Moonshark. After that I went to check out the Zombie Apocalypse, a giant obstacle course where you have to get past a bunch of zombies in order to “make it out alive!” Essentially you have flags tied to your belt and if a zombie gets all of your flags then you loose. It was comprised of a bunch of inflatable jumper-type obstacles. At this time of the morning nobody was running it yet, and there was ‘nary a zombie in sight. I would have loved to give it a go, but the cost was a tad steep at $30.
One of the reasons that I wanted to attend this expo, aside from being one of the few “big” comic expos that I can attend each year (one of which constantly sells out and is incredibly expensive… yeah, you heard me San Diego Comic-Con!) is the fact that Felicia Day and the cast of The Guild were going to be in attendance and doing a panel. I definitely had to see that, but I had a couple of hours so I wandered the con floor, visiting booths, picking up stickers and buttons, and the like. One booth was for http://gamechurch.com/ a group of people who bring Jesus into gaming using terminology that gamers can understand. Being a Christian, I appreciate what they are doing. I also got a free t-shirt for following them on Twitter and Facebook. Magic artist Howard Lyon had a booth there and he was selling artist proof cards, so I had him sign and do a little sketch on the back of an Idyllic Tutor proof, and the sketch he did on the back is pretty cool. I quickly stopped off at the Geek & Sundry booth as well. Geek & Sundry is Felicia Day’s You Tube channel that is filled with great shows and is just dripping in “Geek” culture. One of my favorite shows is Table Top, a show hosted by Wil Wheaton in which he plays board games with his friends. It is a 30 minute show with a new episode every other Friday. I grabbed a Geek & Sundry button and a Table Top sticker!
I saw a booth selling iPhone cases (comic inspired of course!) and they had a little game going. If you could hit two of the same targets with just three shots from a Nerf dart gun, then you got an iPhone case for free! As I waited in line to take my shot I was looking over the neighboring booth’s steampunk paraphernalia. They had a bin of walking sticks with different toppers, and I realized that some of them were just old door knobs that they had attached to a stick! And at least one was being held on with electrical tape! Insane what people will buy. Anyway, it got to be my turn with the Nerf gun and I was able to take out my targets and get this sweet Captain America case for my iPhone! The last thing I wanted to mention was the booth for a game store called Cardboard Arcade that sells, you guessed it, board games! I thought it was such a great name for a game store that I had to stop and chat for a few seconds. They were attempting to learn to play the new Android: Netrunner card game. They had one sealed copy left and at a great price so I picked that up as well!
Finally I went up to grab some lunch and a seat for the Guild panel. The panel right before theirs was for screenwriter Max Landis, writer of the movie Chronicle. He was very entertaining, giving his thoughts on comics, movies, and would answer just about any question that anyone wanted to ask.
The Guild panel was great, and the whole cast was there except for Sandeep Parikh who was sadly across the country and couldn’t make it. They chatted and answered questions and were generally all-around funny and entertaining. It was well worth the drive, the parking fees, and the expo entrance fees just for that.
There were two things remaining that I wanted to do. There was another panel at 3:00 where Kevin Smith was going to be interviewing Batman, Adam West himself! This was for an episode of Smith’s podcast, Fatman on Batman. The other thing I wanted to do was play some Magic! The interview was going to be happening on the main stage of the con. There are no seats and it is super crowded and loud, so I decided that I would just listen to the podcast later and go play some Magic instead!
I headed back over to the SCG area and signed up for an M13 draft. My P1P1 was a Duskmantle Prowler and I decided I was going to try for the black/white exalted deck. Bear in mind that this is the first time I drafted M13. However, I listen to Limited Resources every week, so I hope I get a bit of knowledge from there. My second pick however was a red card. Chandra’s Fury. By the end of the first pack I was strongly in black/red. P2P1 was a Vampire Nighthawk, so I was very happy with that. Aside from that pack two was pretty lackluster, though I did pick up a Chronomaton something like pick four or five. I open pack three and go to pull out the land and token and I see the rare… or in this case the mythic, its a Thundermaw Hellkite! I slammed it down and passed the rest of the pack with just a cursory glance. Pick two I was passed a Nefarox, Overlord of Grixis, and after that I picked up several more black exalted creatures! Pack three was my savior in terms of really bringing the deck together.
Match one, I play against a White/Red deck. In game one I managed a great start, but soon after he was able to take out my board and stabilize. I never recovered as I never pulled a second black mana source to cast some of my removal and he took me down. Game two I had a horrible start, but luckily so did he, and I was actually able to get my board going and take him down pretty easily. The third game was actually a really great game. It had a lot of back and forth, with the tables turning on each of us multiple times. In the end he took me down but it was a blast to play! I didn’t once get either of my bombs in any of the three games, which is very sad. Since this was single elimination I was done. Now I had the choice to either play one more draft or do a Commander pod. I went over to look at the board and they needed just one more for the next Commander pod, so I signed up!
We sit down and everyone reveals their generals. I was playing my Sharuum the Hegemon deck (come on, this is a prized pod worth $20! I had to play my most competitive deck!) Opponent 1 is playing Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, so I know I’ve got some kind of combo deck going on there. Opponents 2 and 3 are BOTH playing Riku of Two Reflections! OP2 states that at his shop they don’t apply the legend rule to generals, to which the OP1 and I say NO! So we call a judge. He hears the issue and says “I’ll be right back.” When he comes back he says that Star City Games policy is that the Legend rule simply does not apply to generals. We say ok, and then about 1/3 second later I say “wait a minute! That completely negates my deck, which relies on the legend rule to combo out!” The judge says “I’ll be right back.” After a bit he comes back and says “Congratulations, you guys have done something that not many people can say they’ve done… you’ve gotten Star City to change a policy!” The new policy was that for generals, the legend rule does not apply as long as the multiple generals are controlled by two different players. Finally, a resolution that we can all live with, and we can start the game. I mulligan one time as my opener had plenty of land, but nothing really worth doing. After my free mull, I have only two lands, but a removal spell, a counter, and a couple of mana rocks, so I keep. My game starts off pretty great with a turn one borderpost, and within about four turns I have quite a bit of mana. By turn six I could combo out in one turn as long as I get the cards I need. At this point I don’t have them. OP2 gets Riku on the board quickly, and suits him up with a Lightning Greaves, but OP3 answers by podding (Birthing Pod) into an Acidic Slime, killing the Greaves. I cast Oblation on Riku and he gets shuffled. OP1 tries to cast Kiki-Jiki, but I know I can’t let it hit the board so I Hinder it to the bottom of OP1’s library. At this point I’ve both miracled a Temporal Mastery and hard-cast a Time Warp hoping to get into some tutors or card draw, but haven’t gotten there yet. OP3 decides that he wants a Time Stretch, and searches my library for it with a Knowledge Exploitation. Sadly (for him) I only have two extra turn effects in my deck, but he finds my Bribery and casts it on OP2, taking one of his creatures. I take my turn but sadly don’t draw anything worth while. When it gets back around to OP3 he is able to combo out with a combination of Palinchron, Kiki-Jiki, and a bunch of other things. I really only did two things that game, and both of them tucked the opponent’s generals, but sadly one opponent remained untouched, and it was he who won the game.
In looking back at the game, I’m wondering if I don’t have too many mana rocks in the deck (I think there are six) and if I should cut them back to include another card draw or tutor spell? Still this is only the fourth time I’ve played the deck, and I was playing against four other combo players! I was also unfamiliar with the combos involved in any of the three decks, so I really didn’t know what to look for. I just knew that I couldn’t let Kiki-Jiki or Riku hit the board, and OP3 never once tried to cast him.
I know that competitive Commander is something that most people don’t care for, and honestly, I don’t care for it either, but in the end I did get to play some Magic, and I did have fun doing so. The last time I went to an SCG Open I left feeling miserable because I didn’t win a single game (and I had done multiple drafts and multiple Commander pods) and i had spent a ton of money to just lose. This time I had a different perspective, and a great day at the Expo leading up to my losses. Plus I walked away with a great card for the trade binder in the Hellkite I pulled during the draft!