Tuesday, January 27, 2015

MtGO Stats: RUG Twin 13 Jan to 27 Jan

Some interesting stats from my last two+ weeks of playing RUG Twin on MtGO.
I'm being fully transparent here--I have just under a 50% win rate right now. A lot of that is due to misclicks, F6'ing inappropriately, and such. I'd guess a 65-68% win rate would be more accurate had I not made those mistakes.
However, I do 100% deserve the losses (the misplays, misclicks, and the variance) and am learning from it. I'd like to post this type of update every once in a while to  track my progress with real data... we'll see if that actually happens or not.

MtGO Stats with RUG Twin
13 January to 27 January 2015

Games and matches won/lost against various decks. I have a breakdown of  all the "Homebrew" decks too.

(Edit: For clarity... the first row on this second chart is my total MWP and GWP for all Modern matches. The following rows are for individual matchups.)
MWP: Match Win Percentage -- GWP: Game Win Percentage

Playing MTGO: A Few Observations

As you may have seen, I recently bought a Modern deck on MTGO in order to get more practice and  play time in. It's allowed me the opportunity already--just in two weeks--to improve my skill and to know my deck better.

In the two weeks that I've been playing, I have put in a lot of games. I've played a handful of practice games, a handful of  2-man queues, and about half a dozen 8-person single elimination events. All of these matches were Modern format and I played using Patrick Dickmann's TarmoTwin list from GP Omaha.
(I made one change in the side board, though, because Batterskull is double the price on MtGO. I replaced the two Batterskull with two Thragtusk and have actually really benefited from that difference in the Burn heavy meta. Honestly, I should have just bought the Batterskulls. What's $80 to finish a side board when the other 73 cards already cost me $600?)

Observation #1 - Plan Ahead
This should be obvious--in any match, in paper or online, you should always plan your turn and your next turn. You should be considering alternative plans for the few likely scenarios based on what your opponent could do. This type of planning is even more critical in MtGO because you can so easily hit F6 and miss a critical priority pass or be blown out by an unexpected card choice in your opponent's deck.
You are also on a different  kind of clock online. It's much harder to stall out game two (assuming you won the first game) since you and your opponent have individual clocks rather than one round clock. It's very important to plan several turns out to make sure you can close a game in a timely manner--putting the pressure on your opponent to have to close a game while you hinder them. Again, this seems obvious but is amplified by the digital medium.

Because the consequences for not planning well are so much heftier online, I'm becoming more aware of my (lack of) planning in paper Magic too.

Observation #2 - People Can Be Jerks...  or Awesome
I played a match against Bogles where, in game two, he had his Lifelink aura going and got up to 20 something  life. I knew blocking with that guy (Vigilance) would gain him 12 life so the combo was going to  require more copies. Well, he forced me to go through the combo. I jokingly asked if he was really forcing me to step through it and his response was, essentially, that he was punishing me for  playing too slowly in game one. Well, I went on to lose game three (yes, I finished the combo in time) because he just had the nut hand on the play.

(Note that I can't really blame him for forcing me to combo. It's my clock and my combo. However,  he does not have to  be a jerk about it. We can be polite even when delivering bad news to our opponents.)

On the other hand, I played against a Pod player who actively wanted to discuss my list, play decisions, and to ask for feedback on how he could play better against RUG Twin. He added me to his buddy list so we can play again.

As is the case in real life, people can be awesome or terrible. I'm choosing to be a nice guy as much as I can.

Observation #3 - Know Your Deck!
The more experience you have piloting your deck the better you know your outs... and when you are out of outs.
Knowledge of the meta is definitely important and can increase your percentage chances of a win. However, there's a much higher expected value for the time you invest into learning your own deck. Both are essential but knowledge of the meta is more useful when you know your deck inside and out.

I thought I knew Twin pretty well before these last two weeks--and I did, compared to many Modern players in my area--but I'm now revealing interactions and intricacies that can't be revealed except by more extensive testing against more decks and with more variance.

Bottom line, I'm loving this experience and I hope it's making me a better player on a technical level.
I plan to keep playing on MtGO and to share more of my results, observations, and hopefully cool plays I've discovered on both sides of the table.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Grinding the Games

Obviously, the best way for me to improve is by playing more... Well, I can't always play an event every week.
As of tonight, though, I have another avenue of  getting in games...

Monday, January 12, 2015

Report: GP Omaha Last Minute Trials (Grinders)

Event: GP Omaha Last Minute Trials (aka Grinders) x3
Format: Modern
Deck: U/R Delver, U/R Delver, Burn
Deck List: U/R DelverBurn
REL: Competitive

This past weekend I flew up to Omaha with two of my friends, Jason  and James, to play in GP Omaha. I love the Grand Prix experience and I love getting to spend  a weekend with good people.

Last year I quickly earned byes by playing at GP Richmond and carried those byes for most of the year unable to use them. I changed jobs in November and so between my work, family, and the switch to yearly points earning byes I had a whopping zero going into this GP.

Normally there's at least one GP Trial in the DFW area for any GP I intend to go to--possibly just for any GP happening in the country--but somehow there wasn't one for Omaha, so I had no chance to earn two byes that way. Upon arrival in the frozen tundra of Nebraska, I decided to just hit the Grinder events and try to gain some  byes that way. What follows is a rough accounting of a rough series of events for me.
(Not to steal my own thunder but variance was high on Friday.)

The First Grinder
I scribbled my deck list and signed up for a grinder. My first round opponent, Kevin, was a really nice guy who made some comment about how he wasn't very well prepared for the Modern meta. You never really know  what to  expect  in these last minute GPTs--sometimes it's people who just lost byes because they stopped playing for 6 months and sometimes it's random amateur or casual players. I thought maybe Kevin was a casual player.

Kevin wrecked me.

Let's just say I hadn't exactly prepared for Naya Zoo to be a deck at the GP. I think we all know that 4-Colour and Domain Zoo type decks did pretty well overall this weekend, but I can say that I had no way to deal with double Ghor-Clan Rampager when I drew ZERO copies of Lightning Bolt in game one.

"No worries--I'll just run it back in the next grinder" is what I was thinking...

The Second Grinder
I already wasn't super hot on Delver for the weekend. I knew Pod was going to be a big thing so I was trying to convince myself to play Delver instead of Burn.
Ironically, my opponent in round one of the second grinder was on... Burn. Good old RB Burn, actually--so no Boros Charm or Helix in favour of Bump in the Night. He had splashed blue for Treasure Cruise, thankfully.

I couldn't flip a Delver to save my life.

I faded three land in a row on one Delver. Still, I managed to get him to 5 life in game one and 10 life in game two.
But mostly I drew land.

The Third Grinder
At this point I said something to the effect of "forget this--I'm going to play Burn and just roll through a grinder." Well, I nearly did.
Daniel was on an interesting RW Midrange deck I have seen a few variants of. When I saw Arid Mesa and Rugged Prairie I feared the worst-- Soul Sisters splashing for Norin.

I nailed him down to 6 life twice but he kept casting Lightning Helix and I never drew Skullcrack.

I ended game two with 6 land in play and 3 in hand. I'll let you guess who took the match.

I had fun playing these grinders. After each devastating loss I talked with Jason and James and we concluded there really wasn't anything I could have done--sometimes you just draw land, sometimes you just don't win the race to twenty, and sometimes you just draw land again.

We had an awesome dinner with a buddy of mine who lives in Omaha (steaks, beers, and bread pudding), then retired to the hotel to prepare for the main event.
I settled on playing Burn and tweaked my side board a little bit (the list posted above has the 60 from the grinders but the 15 from the main event. I couldn't remember what I registered for the grinder as a sideboard.)

I'll post about the main event soon enough.

First Post!

I firmly believe that the first post in any venue on the internet should contain no real information of use...

First post!