Magic Arena Open Tournament

Back in the mists of time I shared a student house in Reading with Tim and Adrian. It was on Elgar Road. We trashed the place and we stayed up all night playing the Braveheart soundtrack and dreaming and planning. Tim directs films now. Adrian writes books. I pretend to be other people. It kind of went in the direction we predicted for all three of us.

Sometimes after Tim went to bed, Adrian and I would change the soundtrack to The Mask and the Mirror by Loreena Mckennit, and we’d break out the Magic cards. “Magic the Gathering”… I came in just too late to be rich from selling the ones I had back then, although I did make a little bit of money out of my dual lands on eBay a few years ago when I was completely brassic. It’s a strategy card game for absolute geeks, and it got me hooked immediately. I like games, I like fantasy stuff, I like colourful and thoughtful ways of wasting time. Tim couldn’t give a fuck so Adrian and I would square off into the small hours. I became obsessed with making Minion of Leshrac work because I opened 4 of them. I rarely managed but when I did it was glorious.

I still play from time to time. It’s very niche, super geeky, but there’s money in it these days. Much of the rest of this blog is going to come across as gobbledegook to the uninitiated.

Yesterday I joined a qualifier, online for the Magic Arena Open Tournament, and somehow I managed to win it. They are showcasing a new set based on Norse mythology with heavy metal influences. I think this is because a large proportion of people who play this game wear unwashed T-shirts with pictures of ladies on them and listen to Viking Metal. It’s trying to appeal to their fan base. It is literally printing money. Magic the Gathering is owned by Wizards of the Coast and it is HUGE now. They bought Dungeons and Dragons for crying out loud!

So yeah I opened six online booster packs of random virtual cards, from which I had to make a forty card deck, with seventeen land cards. Fifteen cards in a pack, so 90 in total and you make a deck with 23 before lands. I decided my best bet would be to make an “Orzhov” deck. There are five colours of magic – Black, Blue, Red, Green, White. A deck will usually have two of them predominantly. The pairs are all given names, and Orzhov is Black and White. Angels and Demons. The star of my deck was Reidane, an angel who can also be an artifact that prevents damage. I played it as an artifact every time and it won games for me, hands down. I wouldn’t have qualified without it I don’t think. The final match was tense and was 100% won by me because I had the “Valkmira, protector’s shield” on the table. How do they come up with these names? They’ve renamed Odin “Halrund”.

So today I have to play more magic. I have just opened a new Sealed Deck – another load of random cards. I don’t think it’s as good, sadly. I’ve gone Rakdos. Black and Red. Demons and Berserkers. My best card is probably a Calamity Bearer. A cheap but angry giant. That and a Dragonskin Berserker, which might win games if unanswered. I’m delaying playing though. The tournament started at 2pm. It’s just gone 4pm now. It ends in 9 hours and if I can win 7 games in a row I’ll make $2000 US dollars. I thought I’d wait a bit as then the obsessive pro players will have finished and the South Korean farmers will have gone to bed. Just two losses will take me out of the running completely, but right now it’s all possible. That younger version of me, cursing as Adrian put my huge demon to work on a plough with another “Swords to Plowshares” – he’d be excited about the possibility of making some dollar out of a silly hobby. Me? I reckon yesterday was a fluke and they’re going to wipe the floor with me. But I figured I’d write now while it’s all possible… And I’m gonna make a cup of tea and go in… …


Oh dear. First match up, called “Xraphie” and they’re playing Boros and empty their hand almost immediately and run all over me before I can even begin to get established. One more loss and it’s over and no wins… In we go again…


Second match up and I honestly thought it was the last. Called “tothelimit” and they had made a four colour deck in everything but blue, to shoehorn all their rare cards in. They had so much removal, and I was lucky to close them out with a single dragon from a suicide run by my Dragonskin Berserker. I told you he could win games. 1 / 1.


Third match up. Called “eschooz”. Mirror match in Rakdos but he has a Draugr Necromancer which serves me my own deck cold despite him having no snow lands. As expected I’m out of it. One win better than nothing, I guess. So much for all the shiny dollars. But I haven’t put the time in to learn the set, nor am I likely to, so one win is plenty. At least I’ve made back some of the entry fee. And had fun doing it.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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