Last week I promised you another installment of one of my rousing tournament reports as I was scheduled to play in my last ever NYC PPTQ😭. Many tickets were sold for the Hype Train, as you all eagerly awaited to read what it was I might battle with. Would it be Sultai Marvel? Temur Marvel? Maybe even something like Jund Marvel? With so many different color combinations available, what spells and energy enablers would it be that surrounded my legendary 4 mana artifact?

Well, it turns out Standard wasn’t on the table for me at all. The Hype Train never left the station as what was advertised as a Standard PPTQ on WoTC’s website was in actuality a sealed PPTQ. So did your favorite overly enthused grinder make the trek to battle limited in Brooklyn?

Nah.

Now before you discredit my waning Spike tendencies and label me an impostor, allow me to defend myself.

 

In order to do so I must reveal what it was I would have battled with on Saturday had the PPTQ actually been Standard as I believed it to be. Despite Marvel being easily the best deck in the format, you would have failed to find a single Energy generating card in my 75. No, I didn’t have some garbage Energy-less Marvel pile ready to go, I simply was resigning myself to playing a lesser archetype.

I was gonna sleeve up Abzan Delirium, not because I thought it was the best deck, or even a particularly viable one, but rather because I found it to be the most fun.

Fun?!?! What kind of Spike cares about fun? Winning is fun!

And while that is very true handsome voice I often use as a narrative device, it wasn’t the case here. The prospect of slogging through a tournament playing some powerful archetype that doesn’t appeal to me sounds like a normal Saturday event. In the pursuit of victory, we often forego fun or entertainment as a metric on the path to success. As we get more serious about the game, we discard the pet cards, the brews, the “spice”. We focus on giving ourselves the best shot at winning any given event, and that often means playing the best deck in the format. If that’s the goal, why didn’t I intend to sleeve up Marvel for the event?

Because this wasn’t a typical Saturday event, this was my last real event in NYC before I move away. Awash with nostalgia and sentimentalism, I wasn’t truly intending to go for the win and subsequent qualification. I wanted to sling spells with the friends I’ve made playing Magic in this great city and relax. Not worry about winning, not worry about making the right deck choice or sideboarding decisions. I wanted to simply spend an afternoon playing with a handful of my favorite cards. Grim Flayer is fun. Tireless Tracker rules, pile of Liliana’s and momma spiders is my idea of a good time. Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger is not. And while this mentality is at the opposite end of the spectrum for how I normally approach Magic, I’m confident it was the right one.

It wasn’t about winning, it was about creating a happy memory. Ending on a guaranteed high note so to say. I most assuredly wasn’t going to win, but I was gonna have a damn good time regardless.

I know this sounds hypocritical in the context of what I typically preach, but Magic is a game. And while it is one of my greatest passions, and the pursuit of returning to the Pro Tour is what motivates me wholly, it is important to give yourself a break sometimes. All work and no play etc. etc. And that’s what I’m encouraging you to remember, it’s okay to shelve the work sometime and just play.

But wait, you said you didn’t even go play once you found out it was sealed?

Right you are once again, beautiful narrative framing voice. Once a found out the PPTQ was sealed instead of Standard, I jumped ship. I spoke with my supportive and generous wife and we shifted some plans around to accommodate the prospect of me playing in a different PPTQ instead. Because if this event was all about me having fun in one last event with all my favorite cards, I doubt I was going to open an Ishkanah, Grafwidow in a pack of Amonkhet.

 

So the jig is up and the surprise is spoiled. I won’t be jamming Marvel or Zombies or even U/R Control in my last Standard PPTQ. I’ll be sleeving up a pile of doinky tier 2.5 cards in the ultimate pursuit of fun. As bummed as I am I didn’t get to play this past weekend, I’m eagerly awaiting the opportunity to Traverse the Ulvenwald for some fun-ofs in the weeks to come. I might lose a lot, but I can promise you it won’t be an 0-2 drop, because I’ll be playing all my rounds to their fun, and most likely losing, conclusion!

Looking to join the dark side and play Temur Marvel in Standard? My article from last week gives you a run-down of the versions of the powerful archetype and my opinion on which version is optimal going forward.

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