Where I’ve Been, How I Did, And What I’m Going To Do

Hey, folks. Long time, no see.

Let me officially welcome you all to a new year here at GDC. Whether you’re a new reader or an old friend, we’re really glad you’re here. Here’s to 2014; we resolve to make this place a bigger, better experience for you this year, so stick around. You (hopefully) won’t be (too) disappointed.

I’ve gotten a decent amount of questions and well-wishes lately about where I’ve been and what’s going on in my life over the past month. Thanks to everyone for reaching out; I really appreciate it. There’s a story that will be coming out in the next few days for those of you who would like to know what happened; the short version is that my daughter Josephine was born on December 12th.

It’s a bit more complicated than that, so stay tuned. I’ll say for now that I’m suddenly a huge fan of the “Miracle” mechanic, and I’m damn glad it’s not 2013 anymore.

Anyway, speaking of resolutions, it’s time to take a look back at how I did last year, and what I’m aiming for this year. (And good lord do I need to lower the bar a bit by the looks!) Let’s dig in!

RESOLUTIONS PAST

NAILED IT!

I resolve to try to keep at least one or two of my existing decks together for the whole year.

Success! Skullbriar, the Walking Grave, and Akroma, Angel of Wrath made it through the whole year. Several others were close as well, and the good news is that I’m pretty happy with the builds and performance of the majority of what I have. The cream has risen to the top, so to speak, and I culled some under-performers (Borborygmos Enraged) but kept the strong stuff (Thraximundar, Sigarda, Host of Herons.)

Of note, Karador, Ghost Chieftain finally came apart. The deck was a little too good-stuffy as it was, which is fine but led me to become very disinterested with playing it; the real issue was too many games lost to decks that just outpaced it and could too easily play over the creature toolbox limitation.

So much for “new flagship deck”. (queue sad trombone)

The other big change was that Riku of Two Reflections shed his Mountains and became Prime Speaker Zegana. This was my GenCon “metagame breaker” deck, and also my one and only “foils or bust” deck. More on how it (and my wallet) did later on.

-I miss my Timetwister. I’m going to pick another one up this year.

That didn’t take long. It rests happily at home in my Melek, Izzet Paragon deck, right next to the Mana Drain I also re-acquired.

The good news is that I got back into playing Legacy this year, so I can stop with the annoying compulsion to buy large amounts of expensive old cards.

Er…

-I resolve to build outside of (my) box this year. I typically can’t stand R/W, B/R or U/B color combinations without much exception. This year I’m going to work on one or more. I’m going to try to steer clear of base-green starting points for my decks in order to open up new creative ground.

I’m going to give this one a win. I didn’t exactly steer clear of green-base decks this year, but at least I did manage to stick to replacing older green decks(Borborygmos became Livonya Silone, for example) instead of building new ones straight out. So that’s a push.

I did expand quite a bit out of my comfort zone, though. As we speak, I have a Tsabo Tavok deck that is (mostly) done that meets my B/R requirement nicely, and Thraximundar did make reappearance this year as well. I still can’t seem to get excited enough about R/W to dive into a build, though. I have a sneaking suspicion that this one might be my eternal “one that got away.”

-I’m going to take a general I dislike and build a deck around it.

Memnarch is and continues to be one of my favorite decks of the year. It sticks to a mono-blue “all artifacts, all the time” theme that only makes concessions for basic Islands. Every other card says “artifact” somewhere on it with no exception.

And with the printing of Colossus of Akros, the deck finally has a purpose. And that purpose deeply involves Prototype Portal shenanigans.

-GDC hit 50 Twitter followers and 50,000 hits this past year. In 2013, I want to grow that to 200 followers and 100,000 hits.

I’ll call this one a win too. GDC blew by 100,000 hits somewhere around the time we moved the site from Blogger to WordPress, which was near GenCon in August. As of the end of the year, @GDCCommander had reached about 180 followers, but as a whole, adding @SwordsToPlow, @MdaveCs, @thingsMrPthinks and @GeneralSpeak to the GDC team full-time more than makes up for that.

-I want to play in a competitive constructed event this year.

I made my Legacy debut in the fall at SCG Open: Worcester, taking Mono-U Omni-Tell to a rousing 5-3 finish. I followed that up with a smaller store event in Goffstown, NH later on in the year, where my unholy fascination with Forgemaster MUD led me to a less-than-rousing 2-3 finish.

Back to the drawing board…

-I’m going to branch out and read more EDH content.

And there’s a ton of good stuff out there, too. Bennie Smith continues to nail what I feel is pretty close to the spirit of EDH with his regular articles on StarCityGames.com. Over the past year, I’ve developed a whole new appreciation for my Dear Azami co-writer Sean McKeown’s functional and analytical approach to deckbuilding as well, and if you haven’t read any of David McDarby’s stuff (he’s done a guest slot on DA, as well as graciously stepping in to hold down the fort while I took my leave), you should – he’s got a really unique and amusing writing style.

On top of that, East Coast Commander hit the scene with a vengeance this year, and Christian and company continue to do a damn-fine job of nailing EDH content. I can’t recommend these guys enough.

The boys at Commandercast.com made the mistake of letting Mr. P and me through the door to record a podcast this year, and while I won’t hold that against them, their content continues to be fantastic. (I’m a closet Eric Bonvie fan…)

I’m getting into Eric Levine over at ChannelFireball.com as well, since we’re both locals to the same shop (And no…no epic West Side Story-esque dance-fights between Team SCG and Team CF have happened yet). And you can’t pass up on Uriah’s continually awesome CMDR Decks content either. (Check out GatheringMagic.com for that last one if you haven’t seen his stuff yet for some weird reason.)

CLOSE…BUT NOT QUITE THERE

– I’m making a run at the ‘Commander Constructed’ events at GenCon 2013.

This happened. Sorta.

The Pastimes guys effectively nuked competitive EDH at GenCon in the big constructed events by removing the huge payout of years past, and instituting a “points” system similar to what we use at Worlds Apart for Wednesday Night EDH. As a result, the first event of the weekend was filled with spiked-out decks and owners that promptly disappeared for the rest of the weekend once they figured out that a handful of packs of M14 just wasn’t worth the time, money, or getting stabbed to death by the casual players.

For the record, the Prime Speaker deck did some good things in that first event, stopping several combos cold as designed. It still let a Zur deck through the cracks, despite the owner trying to resolve Gifts Ungiven (non-EDH player trying to capitalize on the “soft” format who didn’t do his research very well what?)

The rest of the weekend was marked by a ton of fun games in those queues. Heck – Mr. P even came out to play in one, which says a lot. (And he won. With Coin-flips.dec.)

-I plan on showing up with a very clear list of questions for the Pastimes staff.

Happily invalidated by the format change. In the words of the True Dungeon folks – Huzzah!

-We plan to bring an EDH event to GenCon 2013.

Invalidated by the format change above. Also, there was a comedy of errors in our arrival in Indianapolis that did a great job of screwing up our spare time. (Insert opposite of Huzzah!)

-I resolve to not audible out of my initial gut responses at Prereleases

This is a bit of a cheat, but I’ve managed this by missing every Prerelease since Dragon’s Maze. I’m not totally sure why this is, to be honest, but there’s at least a part of me that has grown weary of the fact that I don’t tend to like the random cardpools that Sealed pools provide, and I’m still really annoyed that Wizards of the Coast doesn’t allow Prerelease drafts.

It’s also possible that I had familial obligations too. My memory isn’t what it used to be these days. But some combination of all of that stuff sounds about right.

-Let’s work in “Update GDC on time, every time.”

Getting closer on this one, through the strength of Team GDC as a whole, and Dave’s superhuman editing abilities. I love this team.

Colossus of Sardia is going in something this year. I’m also getting Cauldron Dance back in the game.

Colossus was in Mono-U Artifacts for about ten minutes, until Colossus of Akros was printed. That’s kind of a push. Cauldron Dance is in two decks (Tsabo Tavok and Thraximundar), so that’s a win.

-By the end of the year, I’m going to teach my son the basics of playing the drums. And then, I’ll get him started on “Run To The Hills” by Iron Maiden or “Linoleum” by NoFX.

He’s getting close. He hits the drums like Dave Grohl, so once the mechanics click, it’s going to be awesome. Although he’s fixated on the Les Paul in the corner, so maybe he’s a guitarist after all.

EPIC FAILS

-Do a better job of getting in some casual EDH games while I’m at GenCon this year but also to try to host a meet-up.

Yeah…we just didn’t manage this one this year. I’m particularly bummed about the meet-up, because I’m sure there were a good chunk of you guys and gals in Indianapolis. We need to try to do better with this next time for sure.

-I’m getting Eric Klug to alter a general for me.

Someone was a bit busy with his annual cube draft at GenCon, so I missed getting to him there.

And someone else neglected to follow up with him as promised via email…

-I resolve to lose twenty pounds.

Yeah…no.

-I’m going to get the green light to present a spoiler card on GDC for an upcoming set.

Maybe we need a petition or something on this one. Or I need to do a better job of annoying keeping contact with important people with the power to grant spoiler requests…

-I plan on trying to be more level-headed during my local games.

Well, there were no near-fistfights or yelling matches this year. But man, is this ever at the top of my resolutions list for this year. I can be slightly surly to downright cold if things aren’t working at the table, and that has to stop. This is a game designed to be fun, after all.

-I resolve to not complain so much in my articles.

Heh. You all know where you are, right?

RESOLUTIONS FOR 2014

Like I said…this list needs to stay much shorter this year. I mean, I’m ambitious and all, but there are only so many hours in a day, and I bought a new couch which is really comfortable, so there’s some epic falling asleep in front of bad reality television to be shoehorned into my schedule as well.

Let’s set our sights (low) and get to work!

-I resolve to stop being a surly jackass from time to time at the EDH table. This is the big one for me. I’m trying to practice what I preach on this one. If the social contract is there to make sure that everyone has a good game, there’s no reason that I should be unhappy with any outcome. Even a bad shuffle is just another part of the game, and let’s face it – I could be at work.

-I resolve to accept strategies and cards that don’t fit with my personal belief pattern. On the heels of the first resolution, I’m going to try to be more open to everything that comes to the table. If someone shows up with something cutthroat and wants a game, I’ll get down with that. I’ll be prepared do go wherever the game takes me, no matter what happens.

In short, EDH has grown to a place where people of all competitive levels want to play. There’s no wrong way to play EDH, and I’m going to do what I can to live that credo this year.

-I resolve to be a better teacher. And with the second resolution comes this one. I truly believe in the social contract, and I will do my best to help people understand what that means. Things grow when they’re healthy, and being a jerk to someone because they played Obliterate or Tooth and Nail-ed a Kiki-Jiki combo isn’t the way to keep a clean bill of health; that player needs to understand why the play they made was received poorly, and what can be done to move forward from there.

With the resolution to keep a happy, open mind comes a resolution to help players understand how to access the format in a way that works for everyone involved. It’s a basic concept, and yet it’s easy to overlook.

-I resolve to keep a minimum of 10 of my decks intact this year. This means changes are fine, but the deck is going to still be around at the start of 2015. There’s currently 14, so here’s the list to keep me honest:

-Mono-U Artifacts (Memnarch)
-Mono-W Angels (Akroma, Angel of Wrath)
-R/G Warrior Beats (Livonya Silone)
-Golgari Voltron (Skullbriar, the Walking Grave)
-G/W Enchantress (Sigarda, Host of Herons)
-Wizards/Metagame Breaker (Prime Speaker Zegana)
-Rakdos Does Its’ Rakdos Thing (Tsabo Tavok)
-Orzhov From Beyond The Grave (Ghost Council of Orzhova)
-Grixis Control (Thraximundar)
-It’s Kresh! (Kresh the Bloodbraided)
-Bant Flash (Angus Mackenzie)
-Life And Death (Oloro, Ageless Ascetic)
-You Didn’t Do This To Yourself; Sheldon Did (Zedruu the Greathearted)
-Izzet Spells (Melek, Izzet Paragon)

Wish me luck. I’ll need it.

-Lucky #15. There’s a gaping hole in my last Fat Pack box for a good deck to take up residence. I’m feeling like this has to be something outside of the box – maybe back to my old roots for a five-color build, or perhaps a colorless deck. I don’t know. But this needs to happen.

-I resolve to completely foil out Prime Speaker Zegana. Fortunately, I’m close. Unfortunately, Misty Rainforest is on the list. The Mana Drain also came out of that deck, so unless something happens in the From The Vaults world at some point this year (Or possibly Judge Foil land?), I may have to find a replacement.

In other news, I’m on the lookout for a decent deal on a dozen or so Zendikar full-art Forests and Islands. And maybe a Judge Foil Survival Of The Fittest. God, I’m a glutton for punishment.

-The 1st Annual GDC EDH Invitational. This is something Mr. P and I have been tossing around in the past few days. It’d be really sweet to figure out a good way to cram as many EDH faces as possible into the same place at the same time this year for some epic 100-card gaming. I’d like to see as many faces as possible involved; Not just Team GDC (although they’d be pretty essential to the mix, so start saving your pennies for a flight, boys!), but it’d be cool to see who else we could bring together. There are a lot of familiar faces on Twitter and the official forums that would be more than welcome, and the East Coast Commander guys aren’t technically all that far from New England. Commandercast all-stars, maybe? There’s got to be a way to make this happen.

-More Legacy Events! I’ve discovered two things since starting to play Legacy again; one is that it has made me a better technical player, which I think applies to any format in a positive way.

The second thing is two-fold; it allows me to have a place to play out my competitive urges (scratching the itch, so to speak), which has had the effect of making my EDH games far less-stressful. The second is that it has made me far-more tolerant of alternate lines of play. If you deal with getting counter-locked out of a game while getting beaten to death with Batterskull in a Legacy tournament, playing against a Grand Arbiter Augustin IV deck becomes a little easier to handle. If you die to a turn two storm combo (especially while holding a turn three Omniscience/ Enter the Infinite combo in hand), it’s a little easier to sit through – and possibly appreciate – more combo-esque EDH plays.

So I’m making at least another SCG Open, and hopefully a few smaller events as well.

2014 – The Year Of The GDC – Bigger. Better. More on time-ier.

There’s a lot to do this year, and I want to see things head up another level. We’re fine-tuning our podcast formula, and I hope to make that a very regular feature. I want to keep the content coming, and more of it. I want more community involvement. I want to grow the crap out of the deck database. I want to do everything possible to make GeneralDamageControl.com a better place than it was last year. I know this is a pretty undefined goal, but that’s good; I want this thing to keep growing organically, and continue to be a no-nonsense outlet for all things EDH, and that’s going to undoubtedly change paths as the year drives on.

Oh…and the goddamn forums working correctly are on the list too. Hell or high water, folks. Grr…

CLOSING TIME

What do you think? Did I miss anything? I always do when it comes to resolutions. What else should be in the list? What’s your list look like?

Stay tuned as the rest of Team GDC talks about their own resolutions throughout the course of the week.

It’s going to be a good year, folks. I can feel it.

-Cass
@GDCCommander