In case you’ve missed it, Wizards covered the Community Cup Challenge on the What’s Happening page; you can find a direct link to it here. Lee Sharpe has also a wonderful Twitter list set-up for anyone that is interested in seeing the “live” action (and the minutiae!). Thanks, Lee!
Also, if you haven’t seen it, MTGO Academy has our DeckTech tool live! It aggregates the decks from Magic Online tournaments on the “What’s Happening” page and makes them searchable (in addition to some other features to-come). I hope everyone finds it as useful as I have! I’ll set up a page for feedback on it later; for now, please post about it in the comments section below!
The Community Cup Challenge is a yearly event held in Renton, Washington at the Wizards of the Coast headquarters. It recognizes that hard-working members of the greater Magic Online community for their time and effort spent improving the game that we all love. Anyone can be invited if they work hard enough- organizing player bases, helping newbs, improving the client, promoting the game or just being creative and sharing it with everyone. If you love making Magic Online a better game, then push forward and maybe you’ll be whipping the tails of Wizards employees next year!
Day 0 – Arrival
After a brief six-hour stint on planes and in airports, I arrived in Seattle and was picked up (along with fellow Community team member and beta-test extraordinaire, joekewwl, by Vincent Price). The WotC HQ is only a hop, skip, and a jump away from the airport, and we were deposited at the door to our hotel with a bag of distractions (presumably so we would focus on them and not on prepping for the Cup’s Archenemy challenge) to find prolepsis9 and whiffy penguin battling Knights v. Dragons in the hotel lobby! Slowly, but surely, the rest of the Community team trickled in (as well as wonderful MTGO Academy contributor-of-yore/WotC coverage all-star Nate Price)! We rounded out the night with dinner and a practice Draft (well, I rounded out the night; Enigma and myself passed out early while the others finished the Draft and talked about Modern Unified Constructed — a discussion that later led to a slaughter — I heard Wizards will be announced as endangered in the near future…).
Day 1 – Duck Tour, Scars Block Draft and Archenemy
After a wonderful rest and piddling around from my 6 am local wake-up (yay for US East Coast time perception!), the Community team, Mike Robles, Chris Kiritz, and Vincent Price embarked on an enjoyable duck tour of Seattle (clearly the most anticipated part of our journey)! (I heard Marshall singing along with the illustrious Captain Bob Blah Blah on an occasion or two.) We grabbed some sweet hot dogs (and brats and sausages) and some foil Titan promos and prepped for the beginning of the end (for Wizards of the Coast’s dignity).
After lunch, it was time to partake in one of my favorite Magical activities, Drafting! I particularly am in love with Scars of Mirrodin Block drafts, which was convenient as it was the format of choice for this year’s Community Cup! As an informal battle of prowess, the Community Cup did not maintain the same stringent standards that one comes to expect from competitive Magic (I surely would have been banned from the DCI if I had used the same methodology during Grand Prix Kansas City)!: We could talk about our picks amongst the team! My pod included CC’ers Sunie, Graham_LRR, and Joekewwl (along with Mike Turian, Aaron Forsythe, Gordon Culp and Matt Tabak. Definitely check out the draft viewer here).
My draft went pretty well, basically yielding me a white splash red deck with flyers and a few bombs. I had a ton of artifact removal, but only a few normal removal spells and a tapper. Here is my final decklist (with three! Goblin Wardrivers in the sideboard):
ChrisKool's Community Cup Draft Deck
Unfortunately, my memory has failed me in recounting my individual games, but I can go through the matches. Round 1, I played against MaRo and his Bant-colored infect deck (in which he apparently first-picked Chained Throatseeker over Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer!). Round 2 was against Aaron Forsythe and his Blue-Red Control deck featuring plenty of 2-for-1′s and an extreme weakness to True Conviction which trounced him in two of the three games (In Game 1, I lost after he stifled my quick start). Round 3 was against Monty Ashley’s Naya-colored, partial infect deck, and he stumbled a little bit while I overran him with my cool beats. The first event saw me as the only Community 3-0 (while WotC also had Gordon Culp going 3-0)- not bad!
After taking an early point lead, we ate some pizza and prepped to play Archenemy via Duels of the Planeswalkers 2012. My team featured Graham and Whiffy, and we were slated to battle versus Dave Guskin. Initially, we decided it would be funny to run three copies of the elf deck (with its Heedless One as a four-of) versus our opposition, but the mana and card development led to a Rite of Replication that forced us to Maelstrom Pulse away our own Elf Avatars. Eldrazi were summoned for Evil Guskin and the game ended shortly thereafter. Sadly, after a brief deck switch-up (I played the mono blue Illusions deck), we found ourselves on the receiving end of another kicked Rite, but this time on Vampire Nighthawk. After the Archenemy ambush, WotC had gained back 30 points and were poised to give us a run for our money in Modern the next day…
Day 2 – WotC Tour, Magic Online Q&A and Modern
Day2 started off with a bang, touring the WotC headquarters! Like children in a candy store, the Community team was gleefully herded through the fun factory that creates Magic. We passed the replica icons, R&D, inexhaustible supply of product, the uncut Beta sheet – item after item of Magic history and desire – and interacted with innumerable employees. Here are some pictures:
After the tour, we sat down with Gordon Culp, Worth Wollpert and Chris Kiritz to discuss Magic Online (and drill them with tough questions). Based on my notes, here are the topics of interest:
- Masques Block will be released online and the release schedule will be offered soon! There were no comments to whether the block will be released as most Classic-legal sets have been released or all at once.
- Magic Online projects each fall into one of three categories: content, infrastructure and features. Content (new sets, cards) and infrastructure (system stability) almost always take priority over features (leagues, etc.). The features pipeline is ordered in importance and receives attention as it’s available. Features are currently also neglected somewhat due to the next Magic Online version development (which will give Wizards the ability to expand features much more easily)!
- Eventually (after the release of the next UI version), the Wizards Community features (Code of Conduct, Bug and Compensation reporting) will be integrated with Magic Online accounts so that players won’t have to log into a separate website to report; we will be able to do everything in-client!
- Also eventually, all user help will be integrated into the client, along with walk-throughs designed to lead players through the interface.
- If Power 9 comes online, it will be a well-thought-out release. As it is one of the most iconic and conversation-sparking pieces of Magic‘s history, any release of it has to be done right the first time. So there is hope, but don’t count on anything soon!
- Fringe formats (such as my beloved 100 Card Singleton) are best when player-supported. Wizards likes community members to get involved in promoting and organizing these formats, as they do not do a great deal of internal testing for them. If a good “ruling body” can manage the Banned & Restricted list for a format (with articulation for why certain cards ought to be unbanned and others banned), WotC will take those suggestions into deep consideration during the Magic Online B&R updates.
- In the future, WotC plans on hosting tournaments that are split into two days (like a Grand Prix). Probably, the large MOCS-type events would run over multiple days.
- The new UI will offer a much improved multiplayer component (to coincide with the increased popularity of Commander, no doubt)!
After the Q&A session, we grabbed lunch (where there was wonderful Magic Online speculation conversation to be had, in addition to tasty food), an obvious Wizards tactic to leave us complacent and attempt to sneak ahead in the Unified Modern portion of the event to come. When we got back, we loaded up the decks that Luis and Bing finalized the previous night. Being the apathetic fellow that I attempt to be, I volunteered to play any deck without countermagic and was rewarded with a Junk variant.
ChrisKool's Community Cup Modern Deck (Junk by lsv)
Modern itself was a fun format! A few cards seemed a tad powerful (Glimpse of Nature and Hypergenesis come to mind), but overall, I think that the majority of the Community Cup participants liked playing with decks of Magic‘s past (slightly updated or tweaked for the massive card pool). I played versus Dragonstorm, Blue-White Stoneforge and White Weenie, ending the day at a respectable 2-1 (but feeling a bit deflated after the previous 3-0). The Dragonstorm match was tough, but with another Path to Exile or two, I think the 1-2 match loss could have been a 2-1 win. Against Stoneforge, it came down to the final game where I used a Tectonic Edge to punish Max for having so many colorless lands in his deck while attacking him down to 2 life. His Ancestral Vision went off, and he drew his second white mana source and a Wrath of God, but the Hallowed Fountain he drew didn’t allow him the luxury of attempting to get back into the game! The White Weenie deck didn’t care much for Junk’s removal and sideboarded extra removal and Obstinate Baloths, so I ended the day on an easy matchup.
I also would like to feature a deck that seemed super fun for Modern (but that didn’t fit into our eight Unified Modern decks well and was considered to be a riskier strategy), 12post! (Versions with blue might also be worth exploring for big mana aficionados.) It should also be noted that I thought about trying to build this as a Stoneforge Mystic deck since Cloudpost and friends love Batterskull!
Modern Green-Red 12Post by ChrisKool
We finished the night with dinner and Commander at Card Kingdom (a wonderful gaming store in the Seattle area). As a Magic Online enthusiast, I was not as excited as some of my other cohorts to battle the fastest-growing multiplayer format, but once the games started, I had a blast! Dinner was a light affair, but delicious nonetheless. I have to say that Card Kingdom’s menu left be very satisfied and without a great weight in my stomach; the food was light and delicious! I played two games of Commander and then just chatted with players until the wee hours (midnight Pacific is 3AM Eastern!) of the night.
Day 3 – El Fin (Unified Standard and impending victory)!
The final day was Unified Standard, which I sat out to upload pictures and started writing this little wrap-up. After three rounds of Standard play, the community team emerged victorious! We took some photos and proceeded to draft strange, all-foil, original Mirrodin Block packs. Plenty of people opened foil Aether Vial, Vedalken Shackles and Sword of Fire and Ice. I smashed poor Marshall in a few minutes and then was whisked away in the airport with Luis so that we might make it to Kansas City at a respectable time for the Grand Prix the following day (spoiler: United had massive computer outages and I arrived at to my hotel at 3am… Luis got to KC in time for BBQ). Until next time, enjoy this wonderful picture of the Community Cup Challenge trophy (community held, three years running)!