Friday, April 3, 2015

Transition to Youtube

Well I, like many other bloggers, have decided to try my hand at making videos for Youtube. I will be focusing on Yugioh, Magic, and Hearthstone content and have put up a few introductory Hearthstone videos as well as a brief Yugioh video on the events coming up this weekend. Please check out my channel here and if you have any input please feel free to comment or leave me a message! I will not be discontinuing the blog but it will be taking a backseat to trying to establish my channel. I want to thank everyone who has been reading my content over the years and if you know me you know that I always strive for putting out good content. This will not be different when it comes to my channel. I am still "learning the ropes" of video creation and that sort of thing so please forgive me if it takes me a while to get "up there" but rest assured that I'm always trying to improve.

Good luck to anyone competing at Regionals this weekend or at the ARG Metro series!

Friday, March 20, 2015

April 1 2015 Forbidden and Limited List Analysis & Reaction

Well the ban list came out earlier this morning and the internet is quite abuzz with discussion! I'd like to talk about what I think of all the new changes and how it might affect the game.

The ban list changes, for reference:

Newly Forbidden:
Blaster, Dragon Ruler of Infernos (was Limited)
Redox, Dragon Ruler of Boulders (was Limited)
Tempest, Dragon Ruler of Storms (was Limited)
Tidal, Dragon Ruler of Waterfalls (was Limited)
Snatch Steal (was Limited)

Newly Limited:
Sinister Serpent (was Forbidden)
Tour Guide from the Underworld (was Unlimited)
Dragon Ravine (was Forbidden)
Preparation of Rites (was Unlimited)
Saqlifice (was Unlimited)
Symbol of Heritage (was Unlimited)
Temple of the Kings (was Forbidden)
Crush Card Virus (was Forbidden)
Exchange of the Spirit (was Forbidden)
Ring of Destruction (was Forbidden)
Skill Drain (was Unlimited)
Vanity’s Emptiness (was Unlimited)

Newly Semi-Limited:
Qliphort Scout (was Unlimited)
Nekroz of Brionac (was Unlimited)
Legendary Six Samurai – Shi En (was Limited)
Charge of the Light Brigade (was Limited)
Sacred Sword of Seven Stars (was Limited)

Newly Unlimited:
Brotherhood of the Fire Fist – Spirit (was Limited)
Burner, Dragon Ruler of Sparks (was Forbidden)
Gladiator Beast Bestiari (was Limited)
Gorz the Emissary of Darkness (was Semi-Limited)
Lightning, Dragon Ruler of Drafts (was Forbidden)
Lonefire Blossom (was Semi-Limited)
Reactan, Dragon Ruler of Pebbles (was Forbidden)
Stream, Dragon Ruler of Droplets (was Forbidden)
Goyo Guardian (was Semi-Limited)
Hieratic Seal of Convocation (was Semi-Limited)

Dragon Rulers + Babies to 0
Well I guess the TCG followed suit with the OCG and ended up banning the dragon rulers and putting the babies back to 3. This one hits close to home for me as Rulers were definitely one of my favorite decks to play in the game's history. I mean they weren't doing anything recently but all good things must come to an end I suppose. I'm guessing Konami didn't want a potential Dragon resurgence with the release of Dark Matter. I'm not even sure if Dark Matter matters anymore (pun intended), I guess whenever we get the new Red-Eyes stuff people may want it but I know people were excited for Premium Gold 2 just because of Dark Matter, now it just gives them 1 less reason to be excited for it.

Snatch Steal to 0
LOL I guess they realized how stupid bringing back Snatch Steal was, it just doesn't do anything positive for the game and is a sacky card in general, whether it saw much maindeck play is not the point. I haven't played with Snatch in Advanced, and looks like I won't get to anyway even if I wanted to lol.

Tour Guide, Saqlifice, Preparation to 1
I lumped these cards together since these were all 3-ofs and only worked in their respective decks, BA, Qli, and Nekroz. I think this is a fair hit that hits each of the top 3 decks about equally. I mean BA has so many of its own monsters that summoning Dante shouldn't be a problem, now they just have to use 2 cards to do it after the 1 Guide. Saq provided too many effects and even had a graveyard search effect to boot, it was simply too good. Prep is too easy of a +1 and pushed Nekroz' plays too far. Again, all fair hits.

Skill Drain & Emptiness to 1
Skill Drain has been a troublesome card for quite some time even though it was only ran in its own niche kind of decks (Dark World, sometimes Blackwings, Qli, etc). I mean not every deck wanted to run Skill Drain. I actually have thought, for a while now, that all floodgate cards like these should be hit to 1 unless Heavy came back. Glad to see it hit. Still waiting for stuff like Gozen, Rivalry, etc to all get hit. Fuck those types of cards. Emptiness is a rather interesting hit- in the past few formats I'd say it has been too good simply due to the special summon nature of the game. Without it, there is potential now that Pandora's box has been opened for these spammy decks to go ham and otk. Sometimes what kept these decks in check was Emptiness, which is why a lot of people have said it was a necessary evil. The thing with Emptiness is if the game was more about the normal summon like it used to, it wouldn't even be that good. But because every deck can and wants to special out the ass, it became too good. I don't think Emptiness was ever really the "problem", it's because the game became so special summon-based. A lot of people predicted Emptiness to get hit especially after the reprint, it is typical Konami fashion to go hard-to-get reprint (5d's thing) -> easy reprint (Secret Forces) -> hit it.

Sinister, CCV, Exchange of the Spirit, Ring, Temple to 1
As far as I know these have all receive erratas and are basically shells of their former self. I should actually look them all up again cuz I'm not sure what the erratas on Exchange and Temple look like, if they even have any. I'm familiar with the Serpent, CCV, and Ring ones. Not entirely sure to what extent CCV and Ring will be played but we shall see!

Symbol of Heritage to 1
I think the last time this card saw any play was as a combo-enabler for the Fish-Trish Spam deck. With Lonefire going to 3 they probably wanted to ensure no shenanigans could be abused.

Dragon Ravine to 1
With no Rulers in the game this is strictly a Dragunity card again- this gives Dragunities something back, even if it's the 1-of field card. I would think they would need at least 2 to be a deck again but even then they are probably too weak for the meta.

Scout & Brionac to 2
Scout is the "primary" search card in Qlis and Brio is one of the many search cards in Nekroz. I like both of these hits but I don't think they do all that much to either deck. It'll certainly make Brio cheaper, and Scout wasn't too much anyway but it'll hit it a little. Rather than hit Summoner's Art which will help the upcoming Igknight archetype, it makes much more sense to just hit the themed search cards.

Shi-En, Charge, Sacred Sword to 2
The first thing I thought of when I saw Shi-En back to 2 was how happy Shiggs would be about the news. He's happy as a clam and looking for 2 right now lol. Charge to 2 definitely helps Lightsworn's consistency, but without Rulers to banish Eclipses to search and add JD's I'm not sure how that deck will transform. I could see it perhaps going back to the "French Twilight" version that we saw several years ago, but can that deck work in 2015? I think 3 Gorz helps it and Lightsworn in general has nearly all of its old cards back. With Emptiness and Drain to 1 this is exactly what I'm talking about with opening Pandora's box. Sacred Sword can probably be at 3 with no Rulers for the plusses. Now it's simply back to being a pseudo Destiny Draw.

Fire Fist Spirit, Lonefire, Hieratic Seal to 3
All of these going back to 3 shouldn't impact the game. I guess the list gives Sylvans some breathing room but I've never been a fan of that deck and it probably doesn't hold up against the big 3. Even before Rulers Hieratics had some serious punch as an all-in style deck. Again, Emptiness to 1 = more OTK potential.

Gorz, Bestiari to 3
^ Unless Gorz becomes the equalizer to circumvent the potential OTK-ness of the format. I mean at worst it stops their push and gets 1-1'd by Raigeki. And I can still hear all the GB players shouting for joy with Besti at 3. I never thought it would happen, lol. Gyzarus is still Gyzarus but I think the strategy is much too fair for current YGO. Now hopefully all the "gb format" jokes will stop!

Goyo to 3
Besides maybe Blackwings, I'm not sure if any deck would even want to run 3 Goyo. Quite sad that one of the most powerful Synchros to ever be released, is at 3, and barely has a place in the meta. I think if the Extra was brought up to 20 then we'd see like Shaddolls running 2 for sure but Shaddolls have already had a tight Extra deck and they'll soon have that water one to add.

As far as the meta, I think the most impactful change is definitely Emptiness to 1. I can already hear the cries of the game being too sacky and OTK-based, and with it I think we will see an increased usage of hand-traps to combat it. Maxx C, Gorz, and Scarecrow all have the potential to see at least increased sidedeck play. Sacking people with Lightsworn, Sams, [insert random spam deck here], etc is definitely going to be some peoples' gameplans. The best decks should still be the best decks though, and Djinn lock is still a thing, so I think there's potential for this refound hype to quickly be squelched back down once the first few tourneys are in the books. I am curious why they didn't specify an end date to this ban list, whether it being intentional or someone's slip-up. Are these changes enough for a #comeback? Ehh, again, it depends on the local scene. If these set of changes somehow brings back a whole slew of players? Sure. If a $30 Lightsworn/Twilight deck is actually viable and thus wouldn't matter how many people show up? Sure. I know the price of Nekroz goes down with Brio to 2 and the Chain reprint, but I'm still not interested in spending $200+ to play again. Between 100-200? Maybe. Less than 100? Sure. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Spokane YuGiOh - Is the End Nigh?

Well I hope everyone has been enjoying this format as the ban list should be here any day now. I cannot really say much on it other than what I have observed lately, and obviously that is Nekroz' domination. I actually watched Ben Leverett's top 8 match last night since I wanted to see how the Nekroz mirror played out, and my God, it had to be one of the most boring things I have ever seen. Now I am not sure what the game plan is in the mirror, or maybe it was just the player's play styles or something, but at the 20-minute mark I couldn't stand to watch the match any longer. I was bored to the point that I was baffled how anyone could perceive what was going on as fun, and I'm trying to stay as unbiased as I can. It basically looked like 2 solitaire decks going at each other. I dunno, maybe I need to learn more about the deck before constructing bold opinions like this, but it just didn't seem like anything I should be missing from taking a break from the game. In terms of playing, I actually haven't had a chance to play Magic since my PPTQ top 8, and I have sold off essentially my entire YGO collection. I've actually been playing a decent amount of Hearthstone lately, which I might transition more to and expand out into making Youtube videos. I'm not entirely sure. Selling all my YGO has actually felt like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders since I actually had a decent amount of stuff that was basically just collecting dust. It didn't make much sense to keep it cuz of reprint potential and it mostly being irrelevant to the current meta. I figured that if I did ever want to come back to the game, the money would be there for that purpose.

Recently my good friend and teammate Vamp started a Youtube account and posted a video about the death of local Yugioh, which can be seen here. He addressed a lot of good points about why the game, locally, is basically non-existent and just a shell of its former self. I agree with all of his points and naturally I have additional views on the matter and where I think the problems/issues lie. The additional issues I'd like to bring up are: the loser mentality, moving on, Konami distrust, and what I'll call "slippery slope attendance". At our recent OTS tournament there were 18 people that played. Prior to that was 30, and prior to that was 40+ I believe. Clearly the game is trending downward.

The loser mentality was conceptualized and discussed in one of Danny's early Youtube videos in which he stated that people should not be so self-defeating in their approach to matches against well-known players. It was essentially a call for people to man up, get better at the game, and stop being so afraid of losing. Again I agree with all of the points he brought up, and I actually still think about some of those points to this day. I know, for certain, that a decent number of people locally have quit the game due to being completely dominated week in and week out. A lot of these players are either playing Vanguard, Pokemon, or Magic EDH/Casual. I'm not sure how all of them are doing in those games necessarily, and that is not really the point, but these players transitioned due to not finding success in YGO. There may be additional factors, like the game being too expensive to play competitively, etc, but there is some root problem of "I can't win because of X, I'm tired of losing all the time, so I'm going to play something else." At face value I can't really blame those people - I know I get frustrated as hell when I lose, but there is a fork in the road where perseverance is on one path and giving up is on the other. Mind you there is a difference between mindless perseverance and genuine perseverance. What I mean is if all you do is minimal testing or deck changes to your [insert random tier 3 deck here] and hope that somehow the following tournament you will tear through all your opponents, that is basically meaningless and is just a pipedream. That is not perseverance, that is called wasting your time. Genuine perseverance consists of meaningful research, staying up-to-date on premier event trends, developing sound fundamentals, deckbuilding by taking optimal math principles into consideration, etc. Even if I wasn't necessarily the best player, I would be damn sure I did everything I could to put myself in as good of a position as possible for tournament success. A lot of the times when I would win, it was not always necessarily due to my deck choice - I know I have good gameplay fundamentals and I utilized the latest and greatest trends and strategies that were at the forefront of the game. And no, that is not as simple as saying "netdeck" or "netdeck with a few techs throw in". Trends that may be seen at ARG's and YCS's may not necessarily be seen at the local level and doing a blind netdeck could yield sub-optimal results. But on the flip side there were also times that because I did follow an ARG/YCS trend and other local players were clueless, I was at an advantage. I can recall the format where triple Black Horn of Heaven was the premier-level norm, while people locally were dumbfounded when I said I was running 3. That really helped in the Geargia mirrors and against all the decks that wanted to XYZ every turn, which was basically all of them at the time. I couldn't understand not wanting to main all 3. I'd like to touch back on fundamentals a bit and say that I feel a lot of the local player base does not have good fundamentals. That is not necessarily their fault though with YGO being drastically different than it once was. Maybe I am just too high on Goat format, but I truly do believe that those that wish to get better at YGO should learn to play and strive to become masterful at Goat format. Most of the cards are cheap and can be found in Battle Packs, and it's easy to proxy whatever might be expensive like Duo. Concepts like card advantage, deck construction, resource management, tempo, and punishing mistakes are all at the forefront of Goat format. I know current YGO is not always about those things, but it never hurts to learn those concepts. When I watch people play I still see new players with hands full of tribute monsters, blind MST-ing for no reason, over-extending and being punished, etc, and that is because they grew up in an era of YGO where sometimes you could get away with those plays and didn't need solid fundamentals. I'm thinking Future Fusion-Chaos Dragon format, playing Lightsworn in general, etc. Why would one need to care about a mistake they made when a JD or set of easily-summonable boss monsters can just fix the problem and put you ahead.

When I consider a portion of the local player base and the people that used to play but aren't anymore, one common consensus I have arrived at with those people is: "they've moved on". A lot of the players who got into YGO in their early teens or in some cases single-digit ages, now are in their 20's and have added life responsibilities such as school, work, family, or some combination thereof, and simply do not have the time or drive to play the game. It is much different when you are in your middle or late teens; life is easier, school is easier, and generally they still have the security of living with their parent(s). Everyone has gotten older and even a decent number of people have straight up moved and aren't even in the area anymore. Interests change and I can fully grasp the concept of "growing out of the game."

Ever since Konami took over the reigns of the game from Upper Deck, there has been some sort of level of the "anti-Konami" mindset among the players. Whether it be due to reprints, short prints, rarity bumps, power creep, crappy prize support, lack of notice in terms of event announcements, formats being too fast, formats being too slow, 15 card extra deck limit, cards being too high of rarity, cards being too low of rarity, pseudo set rotation, not doing anything to floodgates, etc, there's always usually some sort of complaint. My first breaking point was with the Dark Armed Dragon rarity bump in Phantom Darkness- that really pissed me off to no end. I thought "how could they do this to us" since it literally went from being a Rare to a Secret with there being 10 Secrets in the set. Then a similar sort of thing happened more recently with the Nekroz short printings. In a Hidden Arsenal-like set, you should have definitely been able to build the deck from like 2, maybe 3, boxes. Even looking at just the past few years, I have played in crappy formats, good formats, OTK formats, grindy formats, money formats, budget formats, tier-0 formats, 15-deck formats, etc. I have persevered for the love of the game, but I know others have simply grown tired of "putting up with it" for years and years on end. Everyone has a final breaking point. I know on the surface I have complained about Nekroz but at the root it is not just because of Nekroz. The problem lies in my return-of-investment simply not being there and the inevitability that either the deck is going to get nerfed, reprinted, or power creep'd. What I mean is that even if I played in the maximum number of local tournaments, which is 2 a week now, there is no way that the prize support is going to come close to the investment that I put into the deck. I don't necessarily mind spending a G on a deck (even though it is not ideal), but what I do mind is knowing there's going to be virtually no way it's going to pay for itself through winnings before a new ban list. In the Dragon Ruler format there were 4 tournaments a week, which I often played in 3 a week or the full 4. I consistently topped if not outright won them, and the prize support paid for a good portion of my deck, if not all of it and then some. Playing Dragons was profitable for me since it lasted for like 3 formats, as was playing Geargia and +1 Fire Fist. There is simply no way that playing Nekroz would be profitable. But to bring this point back around, I know people have quit because of losing value in their decks and collection. I have seen people go ham to pick up the #1 deck and then in the very next format they are struggling to keep up in the meta. That shit causes people to quit.

And finally, my last observation for the decline of attendance is what I have termed "slippery slope attendance." There's probably a better name for it but it's all I could come up with for the moment. This phenomenon is the classic case of "he's not going so I'm not going" or the direct opposite and saying "he's going to be there so I'm not going." What people might not realize is that this can cause a chain reaction to the point that basically no one shows up, which is exactly what I think happened with downtown Uncle's. Let's say 1 person doesn't want to go to a tourney for what ever reason, which causes another friend of that person to not want to go, because he doesn't want to be "by himself" or whatever. Their mutual friend catches wind of this, who happened to be providing a ride for 2 other people, and decides to bail. The 2 people he was giving a ride for can't find a replacement ride and they don't have the means to drive so naturally they don't make it to the tournament. One person that is completely not involved with this group of people is sick or has some obligation and can't make it. Now there are 6 people not showing up to a tournament, and suddenly that 13-man tournament becomes 7. Two out of those 7 people get frustrated with the low turnout, and since they have no idea why it happened, make the conscious decision that they're not going to show up next week. Let's say 4 out of the initial 6 people that skipped make it to the next tournament, combined with the remaining 5 (out of the 7), and you'd end up with 9 total for that week. Two of those 9 people decide they aren't showing up if attendance doesn't rise, so then you have 7 the next week but let's say 1 random out-of-town person shows up so you're able to have the necessary 8 to be able to run a tourney. The following week the out-of-towner doesn't show so it's back down to 7 and no tourney is run. Word of this spreads and now no one wants to go to a tournament that doesn't fire. That is how tournaments die, and again I think this is exactly what has been happening locally. The problem is not purely because those initial 6 people didn't make it, it is more because there is not a decent sized "buffer" of people to where random fluctuations would have that much of an impact. The lack of communication doesn't help. Locally it's also commonplace for someone to be like "yea I'll show up" and then not. Instead of 13 let's say that number was 30. The difference between 24 and 30 is less profound than the difference between 13 and 7. One results in a fairly decent tourney with 4 or 5 rounds, and the other results in either a no-fire or someone getting the bye out of necessity and probably being 3 rounds. But because of the reasons I listed previously, we don't have that buffer. Even if only 4 people didn't show up at a particular tournament, that lack of presence would immediately be felt. Four people missing a Magic tournament is basically a minor blip that would go unnoticed.

As for the fate of local YGO, I am going to go out on a limb and say it will be highly dependent on the turnout of our upcoming regional toward the end of April. It actually has to do with our local TO, Roy, who runs both of the local tourneys. Roy is a great guy and teammate and his love for the game and community is deep. However he lives in Cheney, which is basically a 30-minute commute to both of the tourney locations. That's an hour of driving each tourney plus the gas cost. He is provided different amounts of compensation for each tourney but if it were me, I would be very salty about making the commute only for there to not be a tournament because not enough people showed up. The amount of store credit he gets per person is not that much and is just made worse when there aren't that many people, or again if no tournament fires he probably doesn't get anything (I'm not entirely sure on all the parameters). You can only go minus so often, and waste a certain amount of your time, before the whole thing becomes pointless. The problem is if Roy goes, then so does Spokane YGO unless someone else picks up the helm of being the local TO. I know there are a handful of people that may be up for it, but I'm not entirely sure of their transportation situation and again it may end with it simply not being worth it for the troubles. Recently a Saturday Hastings tournament, which provides free prizing with no entry fee, has been trying to fire but as far as I know it hasn't been doing anything major. I made a comment on our local Facebook page that said something along the lines of "only in this community can you have a free tourney with free prizing and niggas still won't show up." This is clearly the case and I'm wondering how much free stuff our local YGO players need to get in order to just show up and play at a tournament! It is a sad, if not pathetic, situation indeed.

Like I said earlier today (again on our Facebook page), me coming back to YGO is not entirely out of the realm of possibilities. Of course I miss the game and my friends playing it, and I still have love for the game even with all the bs that we have gone through. If we had the attendance and the tourneys, there is no doubt I'd be playing Nekroz. I have hopes that one day the local community will once again be robust with a consistent attendance of 30-40 people. It's not going to happen over night though, and it would require a lot of people to change not only how they perceive the game but how they face challenges/adversity as well. From my observations, change is a slow process. So is this the end of Spokane YGO? I would not say yes or no necessarily, but I do not envision the future being bright. Time will tell!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

YCS Tacoma Recap + PPTQ Top 8 Report

I was actually going to post a Tacoma recap last Sunday but it was covered and talked about so much on Youtube that I felt that it would be kind of redundant. The big takeaway from the event was obviously Nekroz, as they took an overwhelming 22 out of the top 32 spots with Shaddolls and Satellas nowhere to be seen in the top 32. My guess that Qlis would be the 2nd most represented deck was correct; I thought BA would do a little better but Nekroz proved to be too bad of a match-up for them. What I was actually most surprised about was there being so many people with complete Nekroz decks due to the absurdly low pull rates of Brionac, Valkyrus and Trishula. I figured most people wouldn't have been able to complete them but I guess if you throw enough money at something it'll work out in the end. I'm glad I'm not in it anymore to have to shell out that kind of money if I wanted to play the best deck. Two local players from my area ended up making day 2 but unfortunately no one on the team did and no one locally managed to top 32. Moving forward I envision the era of Nekroz domination to continue over the next several months since chances are slim the upcoming March list will do anything to the deck. The interesting thing about tier 0 formats is the tech that will inevitably come out of them, an aspect that still excites me where I get to be like "wow I never thought that card would see play".

Yesterday I played in a local Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifier (PPTQ) for Magic and managed to make top 8. I think this was only like my 3rd or 4th tournament back into the game so I was very proud of my accomplishment even though I'm still kicking myself over the sub-optimal plays I made which cost me my top 8 match. Rather than doing a whole elaborate tournament report I'll go over the events leading up to the event, what I played at the event, and moving forward.

So the 3 tournaments I played in prior to the PPTQ were 2 FNMs and 1 Tuesday tournament. Besides some playtesting that's all the Magic I've been able to play. My first FNM was with Mardu where I went 2-2 and promptly sold the deck off. The next tournament I played Abzan Aggro and went a terrible 1-3. Now at this point I'm sure you could feel my frustration; I have won a 200+ man regional (albiet that was 8 years ago now) and at one time was ranked 4th in the entire state. I felt like I shouldn't be doing this terrible and began questioning my deck choice, if I was even playing Magic correctly, should I just go back to YGO, etc. Admittedly I haven't been able to put in a lot of time testing but I felt like I had a decent enough understanding of the deck and playing Magic in general that I shouldn't be doing this bad. I contemplated playing Abzan Midrange since midrange has always been my favorite sort of deck to play (not too aggressive but not entirely control-based) and bought the stuff I needed to build that deck. But after testing a bit on Virtual Playtable (basically Magic Workstation) I thought the deck was entirely too slow vs Red-White unless it could stick out a Courser and drop land over a few turns to gain some life or something like double Rhino. End Hostilities was just too slow vs the deck, which is when I realized that there's a world of difference between a 4-cost Wrath and a 5-cost Wrath. The extra turn of potential damage really does add up. I made the switch back to Abzan Aggro (which is kind of poorly named now that I think about it, I will talk about that later), and playtested with it online some more while also doing some research on Jeskai and Mono Red.

Flash forward to like a week or 2 later and I played in the Tuesday tournament last Tuesday when I finally got to play in a tourney with Danny, Corey, Senior, and Shiggs all present. It was nice playing in a tourney with a good chunk of the team there. Shiggs and Danny ended up going 4-1 and I ended up going 3-2. I was actually very content with this performance because my losses were to Jeskai Ascendancy combo and Esper Control. The combo deck ended up winning the tourney where no one could stop it from going off on like turn 2 or 3 and it was just whatever. No one takes losing to that deck into much consideration since it isn't concerned with actually interacting with you. As for my loss vs Esper, it was against someone that is highly regarded in the community both as a judge and player (and all-around good guy) and I did give him a hell of a run in our game 2. If it weren't for his Angel that put him back to 20 life I should've been able to take a game. I was still able to make top 8 due to awesome tie-breakers and it reaffirmed me that I did indeed know how to play Magic and I wasn't playing a deck that just wasn't for me. I think my past results stemmed from poor mulligan choices where I'd keep poor hands just because of being afraid to go down a card.

As for the PPTQ, there were 38 players. I was surprised at the low turnout because the PTQ the week prior had about 80. I guess the change in qualifying structure turned a lot of people off or they just didn't want to shell out another $20 to play after coming off a PTQ the week before.

Round 1: Mardu L 1-2
Game 1 he gets stuck on 3 land and I'm able to overtake him with board presence.
Game 2 is pretty back and forth but I can't keep his fliers in check and he takes it.
Game 3 I keep a 6-card hand that has Forest, Plains, 3 double-black cards (2 Blight 1 Sorrow), and a Siege Rhino. In all honesty this was my mistake and for some reason I thought I could either draw into an Urborg to make my double-black cards live or draw 2 lands to drop a Rhino. Neither of those things happened and I quickly lost the game.
This is exactly what I am talking about when it comes to my poor mulligan choices and I should have gone to 5. I have an inherent fear of going down to 5 cards, but what I need to remember is that losing with a crappy 6 is the same result as losing due to having to go to 5. But with a good 5 you still have the chance to win (hell I have won with going down to 4 before) so it's better to just take that chance. I was also disappointed losing to this person because I could tell he wasn't very good and he made it apparent when he told me something along the lines of "I hope to see you in the finals but I've never finished very well even at locals". At the end of the day he ended up going 3-3, so yea, felt like I got YGO'd there.

Round 2: Sultai W 2-1
Game 1 he drops an early Kiora that I'm unable to deal with and in a few turns gets her ultimate off. I try to play for a few more turns but I can't deal with free 9/9's that come down every turn and scoop it up.
Game 2 he doesn't get much going and I end the game at 40 life between Rhinos, Courser, and Sorin.
Game 3 he had sided into a more aggro-ish build using Deathdealers and makes a crucial misplay by Bile Blight'ing my Deathdealer when he is attacking with his. We go back and forth but I outlast him and draw removal for his things while he doesn't.

Round 3: Mardu W 2-1
Game 1 he gets stuck on 2 land and I curve out pretty much perfectly.
Game 2 I keep a slow hand and don't get anything going as he spot removals my guys while also churning out a board.
Game 3 I'm able to keep his Rabblemasters in check and he doesn't get much going so I take the game fairly easily.

Round 4: Black-White Tokens W 2-1
Game 1 is fairly back and forth but he makes a big board with Monastery Mentor and plays the instant that does X damage and he gains X life where X is the number of creatures he has in play.
Game 2 a lot of "you take life I gain life" shifts between my Sorin and Wingmate, and his creature where I take 1 for each attacking creature while he gains that life. Eventually I out-resource him though and Bile Blight/Drown in Sorrow are just too good vs token decks.
Game 3 Similar to game 2 but he makes a crucial misplay of tapping out for Mentor when he knew I had Drown in hand (revealed off Courser). This puts me ahead in advantage while he's topdecking.
This was definitely my hardest Swiss match of the day and it especially sucked since I had to go pee like halfway through game 1 and by the end of game 3 I was scrambling to put my stuff away and go lol.

Round 5: Mardu W 2-0
Game 1 he gets stuck on 2 land (this has been a recurring thing with my Mardu matches lol) and doesn't get anything going.
Game 2 I'm able to deal with his guys as he plays them and I out resource him.
This guy had top 8'd the previous PTQ so this win was great for me.

At this point they post the standings and I was 7th. All of the 4-1's that were paired against each other would be able to split and make top 8, so I thought I was good, but I was the 4-1 that got the downpair so I had to play and chances were if I lost I wouldn't make it (didn't help that my 1 loss was way down toward the last tables).

Round 6: Blue Black W 2-0
Before we started I asked the guy if he could even top if he won and naturally his buddy next to him was all like "Yup! He would definitely top because he has the highest tie-breaker at this point!" From what I've experienced through years of card games is it doesn't always work like that and was fairly sure that even if he had won he would've gotten like 10th, so in my mind I was thinking it would've been nice if he had just given me the win but he didn't seem to have any sort of inclination of doing so so we just went for it.
Game 1 I stick an early Fleecemane out that goes unchecked for a few turns and I bait his counters out with disposable cards while resolving my better threats and take the game fairly swiftly.
Game 2 we both mull to 5 which I am perfectly fine with since Blue needs its cards more than Aggro does. This game ends up going fairly long but I basically end up resolving all 4 Rhinos (last one tutored off Liliana and resolves for game).
I think that I, as someone that played in the Mono Blue Meloku/Kamigawa days, have enough experience against counterspell decks that I can bait stuff out and play stuff when they're tapped out appropriately. I see so many players play Dig in their Main Phase, just to add more instants that I think playing against Blue in this era is just so much easier compared to a format where you had Spell Snare, Mana Leak, Remand, Hinder, Rewind, etc all present.

So having to play in the 6th round put me at 15 points and I finished 2nd in Swiss. At this point I was just beyond happy to make top 8 and to get prizing that was worth more than my entry fee. I was starting to think that I could take the whole damn thing.

Top 8: Jeskai L 1-2
Game 1 I get stuck on 3 land while he's burning me and swinging at me with Mantis Riders and stuff. I'm at 6 life and discard a Thoughtseize I drew into at my end phase and he literally scoffs and shakes his head. I'm just like "what, I play Thoughtseize so you can Stoke me for game?" His turn he attacks and Stokes me. In my mind I call him a faggot.
Game 2 He gets stuck on 3 land and I'm able to spot removal whatever he plays.
Game 3 I get over-zealous with my Abzan Charms (they aren't just Pot of Greeds) and I eat a Sarkhan hit rather than using Charm to exile it. Since I had a Downfall in hand, my thought process was I should use the Charm to draw into stuff since I could Downfall the Sarkhan on my turn while hoping to draw into a Rhino or Sorin to re-stabilize my life. He was low on cards since he had been using his cards to burn me and didn't have board presence while I had a Deathdealer and a Lion. On the last turn he was at 9 life with 1 card in hand, while I'm at 3 life and had Deathdealer and Lion on the board, and like 4 cards in hand. I swing and pump my Dealer to 6 for lethal but he has Jeskai Charm to Wing Blast my Dealer to the top. Due to the pumps I only had 4 mana open so I couldn't cast Wingmate Roc and I was holding a Downfall I believe because I was scared of Mantis Rider. He topdecks Dig Through Time and my heart sunk a bit but I had a little hope that his top 7 would be blanks, but sure enough he revealed a Lightning Strike for game.
What I should have done is spare myself the 6 life by Charm'ing his Sarkhan and drop a Raided Wingmate Roc to try and gain life that way, instead of holding mana free for removal on a potential Mantis Rider (cuz the Roc can just block the Rider after all) which he never drew into anyway. This was a hard lesson learned but still a lesson learned so it is something I will never forget about moving forward.

I get 12 packs for prizing but have no intention of opening them because I'm on that 4 or 5-year plan with hopes of selling the packs at $13+ each, instead of hoping to be lucky to pull like 2 fetches at most which is unlikely in itself.

Moving forward I'm not entirely sure on what I'll be playing although I think I'm getting the swing of things with Abzan "Aggro". When I think of aggro in the typical sense, I think of Jeskai, Red-White, Mono-Red and those kinds of decks. Abzan Aggro is not like those and is much more controlling in nature. Typically "aggro" decks don't run 4 or 5 mana cost creatures unless they have haste while Abzan runs the full gamut of Rhinos and Rocs. I also incorporated 2 Coursers into my build which I absolutely love since they potentially help me in the life department and put me further in cards and smooth out my mana. I actually think Abzan Aggro should be called Abzan Midrange, and the Midrange deck should be called Control. But you pretty much have to be Blue and be running counterspells to be considered Control in this game. I guess the builds with Warden could be "aggro" since at least it's a 1-drop. I might try Heir of the Wilds in the future since the Deathtouch aspect of it seems pretty decent on paper. I just didn't want to make their Wild Slashes too live but again I'm not entirely sure yet. I'm also slowly building Mono Red as a trolly "idgaf" deck but with the rise in popularity of Jeskai/Red-White I'm not sure how that will pan out. Ideally Mono Red would be good in a field with a lot of midrange, at least I think, I'm not even entirely sure lol. I just know it has the potential to do a lot of damage really quickly and is basically the cost of 3 YGO structure decks.

4 Fleecemane
4 Deathdealer
3 Anafenza
2 Courser
4 Rhino
4 Wingmate
1 Tasigur

2 Thoughtseize
3 Bile Blight
3 Abzan Charm
3 Hero's Downfall

2 Sorin

4 Citadel
4 Heath
4 Temple of Malady
2 Temple of Silence
3 Caves
2 Llanowar
2 Urborg
2 Forest
2 Plains

2 Thoughtseize
2 Back to Nature
1 Bile Blight
3 Glare
3 Sorrow
2 Nissa
1 Ajani
1 Liliana

Friday, February 13, 2015

YCS Tacoma/Seattle Primer

Originally I was going to write a recap of ARG Ft Worth but I figured it being the event before Nekroz was released made it rather irrelevant. It was so irrelevant that I didn't even really bother following it, at least to the extent that I have for previous events. I saw that Satellars won, which just made me chuckle as I know I've hated on that deck for the past few months now. I think with the recent trend of decks basically running no back row that Satellars were able to capitalize on this so they wouldn't get blown out by Fire Lake. I mean if BA only plays like 2 Emptiness 2 Fire Lake as their backrow line-up, basically MST'ing something is a fairly safe move. If you hit the 1 down and it's Fire Lake then as long as you have an Alpha or something you're free to set your entire backrow without fear of getting blown out. I think Satellars winning was more of a "right place at the right time" instance rather than being the actual best deck. Over the weekend I actually ended up following the Magic Pro Tour instead. Now my interest for the Modern format is rather minimal because financially it's not as accessible as Standard is and I didn't know too much about the format or what the decks did but it was still great watching some of Magic's greatest pros go head to head. The quality of coverage just blew me away, I knew it was basically how Magic has always done it but after watching Yugioh "coverage" for so long I had forgotten what good coverage looks like. All of the commentators knew what they were talking about and what the cards did as they were played, they discussed sidedeck and draft strategies, conducted player interviews, commentators acted and dressed professionally, the list goes on. Yugioh simply still has such a long ways to go, which is sad as the game is certainly not new or anything. Anyways, the problem with Modern, at least from what I can tell, is it reminds me of Yugioh. The top 8 was 2 Bloom, 2 Twin, 2 Burn, and 2 Abzan. So basically 4 combo decks, 2 burn decks, and 2 decks that wanted to actually play Magic. I say it reminds me of Yugioh because those combo decks have the potential to OTK out of nowhere and burn is the same degenerate strategy as it is in any other game. I didn't get away from one self-touch game just to play in another. Furthermore the finals was Twin vs Bloom. I watched the first 2 games where game 1 Bloom combo'd off, and game 2 Twin dropped Blood Moon which made it so the Bloom player couldn't play. At that point I stopped watching because Twin could just Blood Moon the Bloom player out of the rest of the games and sure enough Twin won. Blood Moon is essentially a floodgate that says "you can't play Magic". Again, I've dealt with enough floodgate shit in Yugioh that I just wouldn't be interested in having to deal with that in Magic as well. Luckily those cards either aren't in Standard or just no one plays them.

The big talk in the Yugioh world, for what has felt like the past few months now but is really starting to ramp up, is Nekroz. Tacoma will be the first event that they are legal (inconveniently only a day after release) and I for one am quite interested to see the impact they will have. I know they will do well, I just want to see how well. The pull rates for the good cards is reportedly absurdly low, in the realm of 1 Trish/Brio out of 6 boxes. Seeing this is frustrating as I felt that Konami could've made the deck really accessible to a larger player base by making essentially a Hidden Arsenal set for them. I remember in Hidden Arsenal 1 you could buy 1 box and for the most part be sure to pull 1 each of Catastor, Brio, and Mist Wurm (which were pretty much the only cards people actually wanted). Now you have to buy a case just for the chance to pull 2 of something? In a 60-card set? My God that is absolutely ridiculous. It is just yet another slap in the face to the players that have still stuck around with this game and wanted some possibility or hope of being able to play a tier deck that would be budget. I got to the point where I was finally done with it and I know a lot of other players have as well. I'm guessing Nekroz will be the most expensive deck in the format and if the hype correlates with the results, it will end up being the best deck as well. Going into the event I know there will be a lot of BA, Qliphort, Shaddoll, and Satellars as Nekroz just isn't accessible as it should or could be to the player base. This puts players into an awkward position of "how much should I be siding for this match-up?" Theoretically you might not need to because the odds of running into it (especially in the earlier rounds) would be low, but if you do well and end up seeing a lot of Nekroz in the later rounds you wouldn't wanted to be ill-prepared as well. I remember at the previous Tacoma/Seattle YCS it was when Mermails had just come out and I remember a lot of us wondering how much we should be siding for it. My guess is the upper echelon of pros will be playing Nekroz since they will have easier access to the deck through their sponsor or their network of other pros/friends. I'm not saying everyone that will be playing Nekroz will be good, cuz who knows maybe they just have money but haven't bothered learning the deck, but my guess is that the guys like those in the ARG crew will be running the deck and will be very up-to-speed with it. I think the event will ultimately boil down to "Nekroz vs anti-Nekroz strategies" where the non-Nekroz decks will try to flood Nekroz out of the game and Nekroz will have to out-draw those floodgates. Kinda reminds me of Dragons vs Anti-Dragons. I haven't done a whole lot of testing but I think Qliphorts are the best non-Nekroz deck in a meta with Nekroz. The match-up for Burning Abyss is so skewed in favor of the Nekroz player that I honestly wouldn't even consider playing BA if I were playing the game. Now I might be totally wrong, and I'm not saying that we won't see BA top. I'm sure we will, I just think as the format progresses we will definitely see less of it than we used to and it will evolve into Nekroz and Qliphs being the 2 best decks. I'm not sure where Satellas fits into all this and Shaddolls have shown themselves to be straggling in the race to keep up. The water fusion is not going to cut it when Cross Souls comes out. I think as people increase their anti-search cards to deal with Nekroz this will have a negative impact on Satellas.

I have a few friends that are going to the event so I just wanted to wish them good luck! I hope to God they are prepared for Nekroz. The Seattle ARG was a disappointing event for them so hopefully this event will turn out better. I will not be going since a) I don't have a deck and b) it's Valentine's weekend and I'm married. Originally I was actually going to judge the event and got accepted to do it, but had to opt out of the event due to my general lack of interest in the game, not feeling comfortable with rulings related to the newer cards, and again Valentine's day. Hopefully the event goes well for everyone, players and staff included!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Idiot's Guide to Selling Cards

Hi everyone, I apologize as it has been a few weeks since I've last posted, but I have basically gone full-bore into my re-transition into Magic and out of Yugioh. It has been interesting as people locally have caught wind of this and suddenly I'm "so out of the game" that either my opinion doesn't matter any more or I have no concept of rulings any more, which is quite laughable on both accounts. Like I have said before, even if I am not playing the game I will still have an idea of what is going on, what the cards do, event results, etc. I can easily start YGOPRO and play a game of Yugz. Owning paper cards has become pointless and simply a bad investment to play the game locally. On our local Spokane Facebook group one of my friends (who says he is very serious about playing again) asked what Farfa "stood for", as if it was an acronym for something when another person had mentioned how good Farfa is. Now I guess I can see how he thought Farfa was a new combo or deck type or something, but I knew what Farfa was weeks before the set was even released. I had to explain that it was a single BA card. That is the difference between being "active but not playing" vs "not active but playing". Some seem to automatically think that if you aren't playing you're not active. I don't care how often one plays at tournaments, I'd rather be well-researched and out of practice than well-practiced but clueless.

As for Magic, I had Mardu Midrange after I won an eBay auction for a main and side and took it to an FNM but I personally didn't like how the deck flowed. My sideboard wasn't complete enough to address certain match-ups which I hadn't expected to be there. I went a decent 2-2, unfortunately I got mana screwed games 1 and 3 in my round 1 match and blown out by Green Black Devotion (Constellation?). I feel that if I had won my first match, which I am fairly sure I would have if not for being stuck on 2 land game 1 and only Mountains game 3, I would have finished well enough for prizing. I know people roll their eyes when you say you lost because of mana screw, but here is what happened. In game 1 I was on the draw and opened 2 land, a 2-drop, and 4 other cards (which I don't remember at this time). I figured being on the draw, by my 3rd turn I should have drawn into a 3rd land so most of my cards would be live at that point and the hand was keepable enough. Unfortunately that 3rd land didn't come till about my 6th turn, and at that point I was simply too far behind. In game 3 I was forced to mulligan due to having 1 land in my starting 7, and in my opening 6 I opened double Mountain, Hordling Outburst, and 3 other cards. I figured if I topped another land at least I could cast Outburst and if I drew a land which could produce non-red mana I was good. Unfortunately I drew into another Mountain and that was it for the rest of the game. I personally hate the idea of having to mulligan down to 5 since the odds of opening a playable hand goes down dramatically. I still feel that both of my decisions to keep at the point that I did were sound. Even though it was only 1 FNM I had a strong enough of an experience throughout the tournament to where I could tell that the deck had certain paradoxes that I didn't want to be responsible for for solving. I didn't end up getting mana screwed throughout the entire tournament or anything, I could just tell it almost felt too reliant on certain 2-card combos to be truly efficient. I ended up beating a Jeskai deck and a mirror match in case anyone was curious what my 2 wins were lol. I would imagine there's a reason why Mardu's good results seem to come in waves- sometimes you see it top quite a bit, sometimes not at all. In any regard that was enough reason for me to sell Mardu and make the switch to Abzan, which I am waiting for my last few cards to arrive in the mail. Once that happens I want to make my strong push to play again regularly, at least as regularly as I can. I don't have aspirations to be on the Pro Tour or anything, I just want to play a game where I know people will show up and with so many showing up the prize support will justify my deck investment.

The rest of this post is dedicated to the title of said post, basically an "idiot's" guide to selling cards. I use the term idiot very loosely and it is not meant to cause offense. Basically I have seen a lot of "idiotic" practices lately, locally, to where I wanted to write about how people "should" do things, or at least take those things into consideration when it comes to selling cards. A lot of what I have to say should just be common sense. Now if it's not I am not saying you're an idiot. If you learn something or have an "a-ha" moment, that's great. If it's all "well no shit Sherlock" for you, that's great cuz you are experienced enough to where this is common sense. Sorry for having wasted your time in that case.

Concept 1: Selling in "tiers"
When I sell cards, I use this concept/philosophy all the time. Essentially my preferred method of selling is to sell in 3 "waves" or "tiers". 1) sell locally, 2) sell to the vendor/ebay, 3) sell a "bulk" binder on eBay. For the most part, selling in this manner has allowed me to maximize my profits while also clearing the majority of whatever it is I'm trying to sell. It shouldn't be any sort of earth-shattering news that selling locally is the best way to sell a card. This isn't taking into consideration outlier scenarios like your local being entirely composed of people with no jobs, no disposable income, or on the other end of the spectrum where everyone pre-orders everything they want, and only order online and don't buy locally. I have to assume that people are willing to buy cards locally. When you sell locally you don't have to pay any fees, don't have to ship anything, don't have to have a Paypal account, etc. Usually it's a straight cash-for-card transaction. I will talk about using discounts in its own section later on. From there, after I've sold off what I could locally, my next move is to sell to the vendor (usually CoreTCG) or try my hand at eBay. This is where you have to be a little picky since sometimes it's "worth it" to sell a card to the vendor, other times not. For example recently I sold my friend's DT Lavalval Chain for him and I had 2 options: sell it to Core for $20, or try my hand at eBay. I had seen that DT Chains were going for around $40, so clearly the better option was to try and sell it on eBay. Fees and shipping generally account for 14% of an eBay sale, so if the card sold for $40 I would end up with roughly $34.40. The extra $14 was worth the trouble. I ended up accepting a best offer of $35 for it, to where the final value was basically $30. An extra $10 is still an extra $10 so ultimately this was still worth it. If that margin was $3 or less it would be debatable I think. I suppose there could be a 3rd category within this grouping of "Facebook/trade forum" with Pojo being a trade forum for example. There are a lot of big Facebook groups where you can sell your cards to other people and the Pojo trade forum is still going strong after all these years. I personally don't partake in these methods any more but this would be a viable option since you aren't having to pay fees and shipping can be negotiated. Paypal Gift is a good option. You just have to trust that you won't get ripped. And finally, after I've gotten rid of stuff that was worth selling to the vendor or on eBay, I create a binder that I can sell on eBay. A lot of times this is entirely comprised of bulk holos, cheapy rares and commons, or sometimes good cards that the vendor just wasn't buying at the time for what ever reason. This is a good way to just "get rid of everything else" and I will talk more about that in a bit.

Concept 2: Being cheap can cost you in the long run
In a nutshell, this concept says that those who are so stingy that they need to get every single dollar out of a deal they possibly can, can end up losing out in the long run. Previously I had highlighted how my friend's $40 Lavalval Chain pocketed him $30. This was good since otherwise he would've got $20 from the vendor, but let's say we had tried selling this locally. A lot of times I see people be very firm in their prices, to where they would say "it's $40 on eBay so I want $40 for it." They feel that since that's how much it would cost that person to order it online, they should be willing to pay that price, especially for the convenience of not having to wait for it to be shipped to you. I understand that logic and it's not necessarily flawed if you look at it strictly in that sense. As for me, I have always utilized a general "85% of eBay" pricing system for whenever I'm try to sell something, especially quickly. In this Lavalval Chain example, I would have been plenty happy to sell it for $35. I am making more than if I had sold it online, but more importantly, I MAKE MY CUSTOMER HAPPY. People underestimate the importance of this so much. By accepting to sell my card for a discount, I present an image that I am looking out for this person and am reasonable to do business with. The customer leaves happy knowing he got a deal and now has more reason to come back to me for any future card purchases. In his mind he'll know he can get cards off me for less than online, and in my mind I know I'll have a higher payout than if I had sold it to the vendor or eBay.  Having future guaranteed sales is much more valuable than getting that immediate gratification of knowing you squeezed that extra $5 out of the person. People don't realize this, and wonder why they can't sell stuff locally that often or why they're perceived as being a cheapskate. With this, it's also important to remember that Yugioh cards depreciate- FAST. I'm not saying that Magic cards don't, because they certainly do, but very rarely do Yugioh cards retain value due to the "random" nature that is reprints, the ban list, and power creep. In Magic you can keep Standard cards that are powerful enough to impact Modern and Legacy, and generally those cards will go up as time goes on. Chances are it's not getting randomly reprinted. I wish I still had my $20 Tarmogoyfs from way back when, because now they are worth roughly $150 a piece, even after seeing a reprint in Modern Masters (albeit it was a low-printed set). That really doesn't happen in Yugioh because reprints make a card extremely easy to get or the card just isn't viable any more. But back to my point, for the most part it's much better to sell Yugioh quicker, even at a discount, than holding out for more to the point that your card is now worth less than if you had sold it in the first place for that initial discounted price. I know sometimes cards do spike, Denko being a recent example, but that is not a reason to be stingy on everything. For every 1 "loss" you might have, you'll have 9 that could be considered "wins", and that's a damn good ratio.

Concept 3: Image is everything
It is true that we live in a visual-stimulus based society. We want with our eyes. We like shiny things, the bigger and fancier the better, etc. This being said, why is it that people seem to think it's acceptable to make listings, or Facebook posts, with no pictures, description, detail, or anything? For example I've seen local posts like "selling my binder for $200, hit me up" or "selling my Satellarknight deck, it's worth $200 but I'll let it go for $170." And that's it. No pictures, no decklist, nothin. Now it is true that if one was interested enough that they could inquire and say "pictures/decklist please", but as an immediate-gratification/"we want it now" society, what reason do we have to bother having to do so? Especially taking into consideration that they're going to have to PM each person pictures of whatever it is they're trying to sell. Seems like a complete waste of time when those pictures could have been posted originally. You don't see eBay listings without pictures, you don't see Craigslist ads without pictures. Or if you do, chances are those are the auctions that aren't being sold. I know if I look at a Craigslist ad, I immediately ignore it if it doesn't have pictures. When you go to McDonald's there is no such thing as "mystery burger" where you literally have no idea, not even visually, of what you're buying. At the grocery store you don't see a "mystery box of groceries" being sold for $20. People don't like having to wonder when it comes to spending their money. Now if it is a raffle or "grab bag" kind of thing then yes that can be understandable, but when you give info you should provide all the info. Now I understand that sometimes if you buy a used car or a house for example, you don't get all the details for the best interest of the seller. They are afraid that if the buyer knew, it would lead to a no-sale. This is just straight up dishonesty in my opinion, and like I mentioned before they would not have a returning customer. In certain scenarios it won't matter because if I bought the house I'm probably not buying another one next week, but for the most part, for most goods, it will have an impact.

This concept connects back to the eBay "bulk" binder I mentioned previously. With good presentation, you can make shit look like gold. When I'm reduced to a large amount of bulk, what I do is try to take 12 "really good" pictures, at least the best that I can. What I mean is even if the best things you have left are $1 or $2 holos, take as many of those cards you have, and take pictures of those. Lump them together as much as you can, rather than spreading them out to where you might have 1 on each page of your binder. The reason for this is eBay has a picture limit of 12. And since people like pictures, and they like shiny things (aka desirable items), you want to take the 12 pictures that shows as much good stuff as possible. Because all of the other pages, unless you're gonna go through the trouble of typing it all out, don't even matter. If you have a page of Secret Tour Guides but they're not pictured or placed in your description, to the buyer it's not going to matter. Now I know that is an extreme example and if you had a page of Secret Guides you would include a picture of that, but the point is that beyond those 12 pictures it doesn't really matter unless you specifically state what those pages comprise of in your listing. So make those 12 pictures really count! I usually don't even resort to using 2 of the pictures being pictures of the binder itself, because in my opinion if someone is going to buy a binder of cards from you, they're way more interested in the cards than the binder itself. The binder is basically a throw-in but it's also important that it's not basically falling apart at the seams. Again, presentation. Also, the way you lay out your binder is also key. What I mean is organize the shit into categories- what I do is XYZs, Synchros, Other (Ritual/Fusion/Pendulum), Effect monsters, then spells and then traps, with each type having an order based on rarity going from Secret to Common. People don't like looking at a page in your binder where you just have a random vomit of a Synchro, 2 Spells, 2 XYZs, a trap, 2 effect monsters, and a normal Hidden Arsenal monster. It just looks unprofessional, a jumbled mess, and more importantly it makes it look like YOU DON'T CARE. If I'm wanting to buy something from you but my perception is that you don't care, then how confident could I be that your cards are even in good condition, or that you took care of them, when you don't care enough to organize your binder? Again, perception and presentation are everything when it comes to selling. I have sold binders of cards that wouldn't have otherwise been movable locally or even to the vendor. If you have bulk cards and bulk binders, this is an excellent way of clearing your inventory. But you have to care enough to make it look like you care, and that comes in the presentation. Everyone has a cell phone these days and thus access to a camera. Internet is also accessible. So don't be lazy, and don't make excuses. Put in the effort and you will find that, over time, you'll be paid back for it.

Concept 4: Trade for value
I know that many have the mindset that trading a $100 card for 100 $1 cards is stupid. A lot of the times, yes, that is stupid because it's easier to move a single sought-after card than a hundred cards that aren't. But in some cases, what if no one locally is willing to pay $100 for it? Or the vendor is paying $70 on it, and if you sold it on eBay you'd get $85? And in the same light, what if the vendor was paying the full $1 on those 100 cards? You can see that if your intention was just to get money, selling those hundred cards for $1 each would be more profitable. Again this is an extreme example but it can go to show you that sometimes trading down can be the profitable move. A lot of the times when you trade down you can get a higher trade value out of it, and depending on what cards you're getting, can potentially flip those cards to a large number of people for potentially higher profit. Let's say instead of 100 $1 cards you got 5 $20 ones, or lucky enough to get 6 (which would already be a profit). What if one of those cards suddenly spiked to $40 and one of those you were able to trade for a $25 card? Now you're in an even more profitable position. This can connect back to the basic stock philosophy of diversification - basically you don't want all your eggs in one basket, cuz if that basket were to be dropped you would lose all your eggs. Again, simple concepts, but you see a lot of people, especially the hoarder types, with pages of some X card that's really valuable, and suddenly it gets reprinted or it does bad at a YCS and just as suddenly they lose a great amount of value that they can't regain. It's important to be mindful of buylist prices since there are a lot of "random" cards that you wouldn't initially guess would have value, but actually do, at least to a vendor. A person might gladly trade their Magician of Black Chaos or Dark Paladin away because there is simply no playability value to them and in return receive something actually playable. In those cases I don't see the trade as being a "rip" of any kind, when both sides are happy with what they received.

That about wraps up my personal philosophies in selling cards. These concepts can be applied to selling anything, in general. Of course these are generalities and I'm not trying to say "you HAVE to include pictures if you want to sell something", but I don't think I'm entirely out of the ballpark in these concepts. I have been selling things ever since I was a little kid so I feel that I have some sense of what I'm talking about. Very rarely have I ever gotten "stuck" with something, again this ties back to flipping sooner rather than later. "A bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush", even though it may be a cheesy saying, is certainly true.

Monday, January 5, 2015

ARG Orlando Re-Cap & Making Transitions

Well I hope everyone is enjoying the start of their new year and the changes that the ban list brought about. Judging from the past ARG, realistically not much has changed in terms of the format, other than Snatch coming back and sacking wins just like it used to. I didn't happen to watch the coverage or anything but followed the event via DGz and occasionally look at the standings while also taking care of some business and scoping out a box tournament for Magic. People may not be aware but an incident involving Dalton and based loli occurred, basically a similar story to the "Frazier and Billy" incident that occurred during Dragon format involving forgetting to use Tempest's search effect. You can read all about it on DGz if you were curious. Reading it just makes me shake my head with how far some people will go to ensure victory, especially when those involved are considered to be friends.

As for the ARG, we saw a top 16 breakdown of 6 Qliphort, 5 Burning Abyss, 4 Shaddoll, and 1 Satellarknights. Looks basically identical to past events of last format and going into the event I felt that this would be the case. It's not like Tengu going to 3 was going to do anything. The finals was a Burning Abyss-Shaddoll matchup where BA won, again not too big of a surprise. The most notable shift I observed was the change in the BA trap line-up, with some builds excluding PWWB and Karma Cut altogether. This would make sense in an effort to adapt to Denko Dolls and improve its matchup, at least in having fewer cards that could get locked up due to Denko. Other notable changes (at least what I noticed) include the increased usage of maindeck Maxx C, decreased usage of Odd-Eyes in Qliphorts, and increased usage of Night Beam (to where Qliphort TCG lists are looking more similar to older OCG lists). With the new set coming out in a matter of weeks, and the Hero structure deck, and then the Nekroz set shortly thereafter, I could see the game shifting more significantly than it has in the past several weeks. From the minimal amount of testing I've done with and against Nekroz, I can almost guarantee things will change, even if it just means using different floodgates or side cards, or maybe effect negation like Veiler and Breakthrough will become more popular again just to deal with Trish. The true top-tier decks will most likely be able to adapt and hold on (especially since they're getting their own grip of support cards) but I feel that decks like Satella will fall off completely and I still question Shaddolls' long-term longevity, especially with their support being much less substantial than Qli or BA.

Recently I have decided to sell off the large majority of my collection and purchased a Magic deck to get back in the game. I know I have expressed my disappointment several times in the past regarding local attendance, and paired with a few other personal things, have decided I will be shifting my focus from Yugz to Magic. With Saturday not really being a tourney anymore (a whole 4 people showed up with 2 of them being myself and Danny) and me not being able to attend Mondays, that only leaves Sundays, which I have heard has been on the decline. I actually stopped by yesterday to sell some stuff and there surprisingly was a decent number of people there (like 15 I think, which I would say is average or slightly above average) but it is still nothing consistent (could just as easily be 8 the next tourney) and at one tourney a week would err on the side that would say the investment isn't worth it. I don't envision playing Magic 3 days a week or anything but with a box tournament every week and knowing I can hit a Standard event almost any day of the week and know there'll be a decent number of people there, gives me much more confidence in Magic. More people brings more prize support, and the larger events that do exist bring substantial prizing in themselves. It's basically too good to pass up especially with the state of Yugz locally. This is not to say that I am getting completely out of Yugz though, as I have told others that even if I were to completely quit the game, I would still be more involved with the game than some people that actually play; mostly in the research department like keeping up with trends in the game and what's coming out, and also in testing due to the impeccable accessibility the mobile version of YGOPro provides. I guess that couldn't be classified as "quitting the game" then lol. I just don't see myself quitting to the point that I'd have 0 involvement in the game- even if they stopped making product I'd still be down for a game of Goats lol. You could say I'd be part-time, or semi part-time. There's still incentive to hit a box tourney when they do occur and judging regionals and whatnot but as far as putting in a genuine effort to play at locals, I just don't see it happening unless the game somehow became immensely healthier on the local level- I'm talking 30+ people on a consistent basis. It is sad because I know we have the physical player base to have these kinds of numbers again, but people just don't show up for some reason or the other (which I know numerous legitimate reasons exist).

As for the blog, I would imagine that I'd be writing more about Magic and probably the same amount as I have been for Yugioh. I know that is not a lot, but like I said I'm still going to be following what happens at events and know what's going on in the game. Occasionally I'll have enough of an opinion about those things to write about them! Seems like a win-win lol. So with that, I suppose I'll jump right away into talking about Magic. I would say the hardest part of transitioning into the game is the amount of research it takes to get "caught up". This Standard format has shown to be incredibly diverse and with that I know there are still some decks I don't have a grasp on what they try to accomplish. I remember reading from Grand Prix Denver coverage that at the end of round 7 there were like 12 different decks that were undefeated at that point. Abzhan showed itself to be the most dominant strategy, but Blue-Black control ended up winning the event. The general consensus seems to be that basically anything can win in the hands of the right player and a little bit of luck, but with Fate Reforged coming out very shortly we'll see how that may or may not change. Buying a deck right before a set being introduced into the game makes me slightly nervous, but Standard is said to change so often that ultimately I don't think it will matter; I can't keep waiting for the next set or rotation or event or whatever to occur. If I have to move something then I'm confident I'll be able to in some capacity. I'm hoping that this week will be my first local event so I am rather excited. When you're starting from the bottom, the only place you have to go is up!