Been Busy

Though really, when I think about what I’ve been doing, it’s hard to justify it as “busy”. Sure, my time is being used by social commitments, work, and sleeping, but if feels like a lot of it just vanishes into the cracks between those things. It’s hard to pin it what exactly, I don’t feel like I spend all that much time gaming or working on Magic–even if I did spend a few hours getting things in order yesterday.

Still, the point stands. Working on regular, writerly content has been a bigger hurdler than I though it would be. (I have gotten three articles up on mtgbrodeals though, so I’ve got that going for me). Everything I want to talk about is in here *taps head* but, it’s packed away. Buried under layers of comics knowledge I picked up over the summer, Magic news, and trying to remember what bills are due when. Unpacking the plots, character ideas, and story beats is proving far more difficult that simply removing some tape and moving the flaps aside.

I want to establish a night during the week as writing night and start reviewing my draft.

More soon!

A Return to Form

I’ve not posted here in months and my last post was about Magic and not about my writing. Since I completed my thesis I have done exactly zero work on it, the book still have nine chapters to edit and another two to write. The end is in sight, but for the better part of last year, writing just wasn’t happening.

As might be obvious from the start point on my radio silence, I finally picked up a job at the end of May. I was working at a friend’s forth comic book shop in lower Delaware. Five days of the week, I drove the better part of two hours there, would work a eight to ten hour shift and then drive back to my in-laws for another hour and forty-five. I worked a double on Sundays and Wednesdays.

Needless to say, there wasn’t much time in the day for anything else, but it kept us afloat. That’s not knocking the job as a whole, by the way. I got to spend a summer working at the beach, talking about comic books and board games with people from all over the country. It was the kind of work I really do enjoy doing. It was the 3 or so hours I spent driving and the routinely getting home well after 1 am that was really taxing on both my life and my health.

Now though, I’m looking at having more time to do things again.

First off, I passed my Level One judge test for Magic. This means I am now, or will be once the paperwork is filed, certified to run small events and assist on larger ones. I’ll talk more about it later this week. Which brings me to my second thing. Since I’m posting on MTGBroDeals regularly now, I plan to not post articles about playing Magic here going forward. This is a space for my writing, a place for me to talk about my craft and to interact with people who are interested in that. I’m working on a series of posts to get myself back into FourFold and make the final push to completing the novel. So stay tuned for that!

’til next time!

-Trevor^^

[WIP] GW Enchantress

Those who know me, know I love decks that are complex and have lots of interactions. I love a deck that rewards tight play and a solid grasp of its play lines.

In the days or yore, I played a casual Enchantress deck with Bramble Elemental and Aura’s like RancorMark of Fury, Crown of Flame, Fiery Mantle, and Ghitu Firebreathing. When I saw that GW Enchantress was a thing in Legacy I immediately wanted to play it. Granted, it’s not a very popular archetype and the argument against playing the deck is very reasonable. It is, for the most part, a bunch of separate pieces that do nothing alone and eventually coalesce into a win-condition–some would argue too slowly. In other words, Enchantress is a Control deck with a combo finish and in a format where combo also includes Show and Tell, Hypergenesis, and ANT, a turn nine or ten win just isn’t as impressive.

However, what about in standard?

Ever since we were told Theros was going to be an Enchantment block, I was hoping for the pieces to play a Standard-level Enchantress. Well, we got this:

EoB

I was skeptical at first when I saw our enchantment Enchantress was 4CMC, but in a world with Aburpt Decay 2GG is actually better than 1GG and besides, the three-drop slot is packed full of other wonderful toys. Cards like Courser, Boon Satyr and Banishing Light, cards that make the deck not just a collection of enchantments that do almost nothing but instead of collection of creatures that can beat down. The list I’m playing right now was inspired by the one Tomohoro Saito posted right when Nyx released.

I’ve since changed the list after a week of general success and then a week of nothing but draws as game one took forever.

2014-05-13 19.23.48
Deck List

Lands Creature Spells Non-Creature Spells
  • 4x Temple of Plenty
  • 4x Temple Garden
  • 9x Forest
  • 5x Plains
  • 4x Elvish Mystic
  • 3x Sylvan Caryatid
  • 3x Nyx-Fleece Ram
  • 4x Courser of Kruphix
  • 4x Eidolon of Blossoms
  • 1x Heliod, God of the Sun
  • 2x Archangel of Thune
  • 2x Karametra, God of Harvests
  • 3x Oppressive Rays
  • 4x Banishing Light
  • 4x Sphere of Safety
  • 2x Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
  • 2x Primeval Bounty

The core of the deck’s power is Sphere of Safety. Since just about all of your creatures are also enchantments, sphere stacks up rather quickly and most decks can’t even get through an enchantment count of three or four. It’s not like the deck fails to operate without it either. The Caryatids, Rams, and Coursers are massive brick walls for most decks that allow you to get past turns five and six when Elspeth, Karametra, and Thune take over the game. Rays and Light make for an effective removal package, placing a further tax on their earlier threats trying to attack and removing big threats somewhat permanently.

I’ve so far had pretty solid matches against Aggro and most Mid-range decks, but devotion Decks–especially those playing Nykthos–can push through a single Sphere without too much trouble. Gray Merchant and Fanatic of Mogis are both very dangerous cards, since you really only have four spells that remove a permanent from the field.

Which is why my sideboard is as follows:

  • 2x Banisher Priest (More real removal)
  • 3x Selesnya Charm (Mostly for GR monsters, and Mono-Black)
  • 3x Mistcutter Hydra (Can win blue based match-ups all on its own)
  • 2x Rest In Peace (Better for this deck than Scavenging Ooze)
  • 2x Bramblecrush (My answer to Nykthos)
  • 3x Celestial Flare (My only real hope against Hexproof)

I had the Thunes side, but I feel like I need to be able to win/steal Game One so that I’m under less pressure to close out two more games and with the Rams, Coursers, and Primeval Bounty, I do gain a lot of life and my creatures get massive quickly. I’ll have a report from states after this weekend, but until then, if you have any questions leave me a comment or tweet me @darkr3x.

Until next time, my all your top decks be excellent.

Losing Your Self Means You Can Find It Again

So I’ve been gone for a while and not just in the literal sense that I haven’t made very many blog posts. I mean that, for a few months there, I was losing who I was. Granted, that concept of identity has always been a bit vague for me, I’m just a little bit everywhere all the time. I’ve never felt like I’m a cohesive person, but fortunately I’ve got enough of a through line that I can cling to the fact that I love to learn things and I love solving puzzles.

Anyway, current issues first. Heres the tl;dr.

  • I was laid off in November.
  • I finished my creative thesis.
  • I put together an anthology of work from my classmates.
  • I won an award for being an important part of the Stonecoast Community.
  • I wound up mind-locked during my thesis presentation and failed that.
  • I did further research on my third-semester project to make up my presentation. Will likely post it up here in part.
  • I interviewed for a job in Maine and was offered a position, but I couldn’t accept.
  • I started going to therapy.
  • I got jerked around by at least four job opportunities in DC.
  • Same with Richmond.
  • I turned in my make-up paper and was sent my MFA. I’ve not written anything since then.
  • I moved in with my in-laws. I am looking for work in Wilmington/Philly.
  • I helped launch a ASCII-based rogue-like game.
  • I went to GPPhilly.
  • I started on the path to being an Level 1 DCI Judge
  • I started work on a comprehensive calendar for Magic events.

I will write a follow up to this at a later time, I want to unpack things a bit more.

[Community Calendar] Regional Calendar Links

Logo

Hi all!

I’ve been busy for the last couple of hours getting the regional calendars to talk to the master calendar which will push event postings to @CMTYCalendarMTG. They’re still mostly empty as the process is labor intensive but, if you want to subscribe to the regional calendars, their links for Google Calendar are below. If you would like the RSS Feed or iCal information shoot me a comment below or a tweet @darkr3x.

West Coast Calendar: http://bit.ly/CMTYCalendarWC
Southern Calendar: http://bit.ly/CMTYCalendarSouth
South East Calendar: http://bit.ly/CMTYCalendarSE
Mid-Atlantic Calendar: http://bit.ly/CMTYCalendarMIDATL
North East Calendar: http://bit.ly/CMTYCalendarNE
Rust Belt Calendar: http://bit.ly/CMTYCalendarRB
MidWest Calendar: http://bit.ly/CMTYCalendarMidwest
Master Calendar(all events in all regions): http://bit.ly/CMTYCalendarMaster

I’m working on loading in the major events, but if your store is holding a community event let me know here or on twitter. If your LGS has a twitter, also let me know so I can follow them!

Until next time!

Playing Magic Regionally

There was a pretty big conversation on twitter yesterday which arose out of the angst about PastTimes making GPATL and GPCHI $50 events. One of the threads was a demand for greater regional support to alleviate the pressure from GPs. And while I think that’ll help, I’m not sure if such a structure is viable for Wizards to support at the moment.

So I was thinking why don’t we as players make something happen?

For example, the LGS in Dover, DE I’m playing at now is starting up a monthly series they’re calling “Standard for Power.” Each month they’re looking for 20 people to play standard at $25 so they can put a Mox in the prize pool. This month–this Saturday, even–is a Ruby and I know an Opal and Sapphire remain as well. On the smaller scale, they play Vintage (proxies welcome) on Tuesdays and EDH on Saturdays. I know other stores have to be having similar events, so why not network?

If your store holds weekly events, let me know here or on twitter (@darkr3x). I’ll work on boosting the signal for them with the goal of building stronger regional communities.

Home from Stonecoast

20140124_210257It feels weird, knowing that (right now, at least) I won’t be packing and traveling up north next Summer. I’m done, I’ve graduated.

Now what?

Well, I still need a job, but I’m much more inclined now to just work on things instead of worrying about something I only have marginal control over. I’ve got stories to write, comics to draw, and games to cast.

Speaking of, I’m likely going to work on launching a new blog to support LOLRVA, the League of Legends community down in Richmond, VA. I’ve got a fair number of friends down there that play and since I’m shoutcasting for them anyway, I might as well boost the community a bit. More on that at a later date.

I’m going to keep playing Magic, even if I’m not going to be at the top of my game with being unable to buy all the cards I need to play on the bleeding edge of competition. So those articles aren’t going to go away, but there’ll likely not be very many tourney reports.

Above everything else, FourFold. I’m closer than ever to a finished manuscript and I have to capitalize on that momentum. There’s about three to four more major plot points between where I am and the end (of the first book) I just need to write the terrible sketch versions of the chapters and then tear everything post-thesis apart and explode it out to a fuller size.

Anyway, I’ve put off putting this up long enough and while it’s rather anemic, something is better than nothing.

’til next time!~

I am a writer

20140107_114009…and saying that feels liberating. Above anything else, being able to look a stranger in the eyes and tell them that with pride in my voice is a massive accomplishment.

Background: I was called a couple weeks back to come in for an interview with a company I’d never heard of. Since I’m ethically bound by receiving unemployment to not refuse work, I said sure–even though I was a bit creeped out by the whole exchange. (I still don’t know how he got my contact information.)

After I hung up, Renee and I did a little looking around and it turned out said company was one of those which got you to pay money up front for training and products to sell, like Amway. Hilariously, I knew about such schemes thanks to a certain anime about NEET culture in Japan (Welcome to the NHK), and knew not to fill out anything or agree to anything. But I still had to go, ethically.

When I got there, I was handed a questionnaire and left alone in an office, presumably to fill it out. The man I met with didn’t want to talk until I had filled out the multipage form that wanted all sorts of information I wasn’t keen on sharing for just an interview–especially one I hadn’t applied to*. So I waited and looked around at what was visible in the office. His name, along with a few others, were on a whiteboard. There were tallies next to each name (my guy had one). On the wall across from the board was a pair of plaques for excellent performance for the past two quarters. I didn’t see a name on them. I made the reasonable assumption that the office was used by which ever of the names behind me brought in perspectives-and that proved to be right later.

The man returned and looked at my blank form askance.

I leaned forward, “So what kind of position am I being interviewed for, exactly?”

“Well, you’ll be helping families find financial security by providing them with term life insurance.”

“So…sales then? I was thinking you were looking for a developer or something.”

“Nope, we’re looking for salespeople.”

“I’m not sure if sales is what I want to be doing.”

He looks at me, he knows I know this position is a trap. “I thought you said you wanted to do something different on the phone.”

“Yeah, different from what I was doing, but still in my wheelhouse. I can barely talk to people now as it is and you expect me to just cold call people and then hard sell them?”

“I know. It seems daunting, but I was just like you a few months ago and now I’ve got my own office and everything!” He smiles, like that’s supposed to be THE THING to convince me that a position with absolutely no security what-so-ever was worth jumping on.

“Look, I’ll be straight with you. I’m a writer, or trying to be at any rate, and a position like this, with virtually no separation between work and life, is probably going to consume my, already strapped, free time.”

He looked stunned and was quiet for a moment. Finally, he shrugged and opened the office door. He looked disappointed, but I kept the phrase I am a writer firmly fixed in my mind as I walked past him and out the front door.

Though I’ve put off posting this, more from a lack of remembering to finish it than anything, the encounter really has set the tone for the year. I will be more creative, I will finish projects, and I will be a writer.

Writer. Me. :D

*Really not sure where this mistrust of the use of my personal information came from with regards to businesses. Maybe it was those articles about big firms “opening” positions just to trawl for resumes or maybe its that I have to make an account to apply for every job I come across. 

Where Things Are and The Fear of Soapboxing

It’s been nearly two weeks since I was let go. In that time I’ve:1212sketch

  • Finished my master’s Thesis.
    • There’s just one signature and some time in the mail between it and the 12/20 deadline.
    • I still need to reread my 3rd semester project to figure out my presentation and figure out where from my thesis I’ll be reading
  • Been to two interviews.
    • One for a position I was working on before I got laid off and the other at my LGS.
  • Applied all over the place
    • Seriously, I’ve got apps in places I’ve wanted to work at in all parts of the country. Haven’t heard anything back yet though…
  • Played some games of Magic with Steam Goblin an Izzet tempo build which is pretty close to the Izzet Fae I’m playing in modern.
  • Started a fresh run through Dark Souls as a Tanky Knight with an eye on PVE.

Even so, I don’t feel like I’m making any headway.

The job search still feels like I’m just shouting into the internet and hoping to be heard. I think it’s because I don’t look all that outstanding on paper and in an interview setting I’m a terrible bundle of nerves. Although I’m sure not updating this or forgetting about my other outlets/platforms/what have you isn’t helping. I’ve just never really been a huge social person and social media doesn’t really improve that. I don’t feel that I am any more worth listening to now than when I didn’t have a blog, or an MFA, or when I was employed. To me, I’m not living a life that will provide some massive insight to others. I suffer and scrape by, just like any other college grad that’s looking for work.

And, sure, I realize there’s a chicken/egg paradox about becoming someone that has a reason for people to  listen to them, but it’s hard to get past the cynicism that wells up when I see people who have no idea what they’re talking about get up in front of millions and spout nonsense. I might have smaller, perhaps even non-existent, audience…but I don’t want to be that kind of person. When dealing with strangers, it’s far more in my nature to listen, to observe, and maybe ask some questions to better understand, but I’ll typically just move along–especially on the internet. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve typed out what might as well be the introduction of a ten page research paper as a comment only to say to myself, ‘Nah, not worth it.’

Maybe the realization that, in some small aspect, I’ve got a set of things I can talk about with authority will sink in once I’ve given my presentation. Which I need to go work on.

Unemployed

Got a call this morning to let me know I was being let go. That my last day is November 30.

I wish I could be excited, but all I feel is numb. I’m so scared right now.

More to come.

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