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By: Tarmotog, Naoto Watabe
Apr 23 2008 12:10am
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(Editor's Note:  It's not often that we will run a piece that has nothing to do with MTGO.  However, I am fascinated by this wonderfully written piece.  Enjoy the view of Bangkok magic from Tarmotog's eyes!)


While most of you may have played in the Shadowmoor prerelease at your local area, I happened to be at Bangkok during the prerelease weekend and I didn't want to miss the prerelease so there I was playing in Bangkok.

Where to go?

The prerelease in Bangkok is organized at Amarin Plaza, 4th floor, at the Food Court area.

It was a Sunday and I wanted to reach the place by 09:30 as I had suspected that the prerelease would start at 10:00. I took a cab from my hotel which was nearby but the taxi driver brought me far away to "Mandarin Hotel". I was rather annoyed by that and I rushed to the food court area after reaching Amarin Plaza because it was almost 10:00 by the time I got there. I went up and saw that the Food Court was almost empty. None of the people there looked like Magic players at all. Frantically, I tried asking the security personnel whether or not he knew where there were people playing cards. He had no idea what I was saying so he directed me a counter nearby where you purchase a card to buy food from the food court. No down payments are needed to get the card and any leftover money in the card can be refunded. Anyway, I tried to ask her about where there might be people playing cards. She, too, had no idea what I was saying and since she heard "card", she assumed I was talking about getting a Food Court card. I had no idea how I could get the message across. At this time, I was wondering whether or not there was a prerelease held there in the first place.

A woman from the shop selling dried food nearby came out so I tried asking her too. She got a better hint of what I was saying and she directed me to the third floor. With no other options and the time already past 10:00 by now, I rushed down and saw a card shop (!!) with two people inside (so the prerelease, if any, was not going to be held there at the very least). I saw the prerelease poster on the door and I went in to see if I could get more information on it. I managed to converse properly and one of them could even speak Chinese, which happens to be really rare in Thailand.

What time?

The prerelease is conducted in 4 flights, 2 on both Saturday and Sunday, 11:00 - 16:00 and 16:00 - 21:00.

Ah! I was an hour early. Well, at least I didn't have to worry about being late and ending up only able to go for the last flight. I tried to ask where it was going to be held any I was directed to the Food Court again. With a more firm assurance that there was going to be a prerelease after all, I went back to the food court and went inside to the back of the food court and I found an area with judges, I assumed from their shirts which included the black and white striped shirt, the PT KL green shirt and shirts with card illustrations on them. I had finally found the place to register for the prerelease!

Although the paper says 10:30, I'm sure that it's 11:00 but it's always better to be early than late. The first Sunday event started at 11:20.

How much?

A flight costs 800 baht.4 flights cost 3000 baht

Register for 3 flights and get 1 free T-Shirt
Register for 4 flights and get 1 free T-Shirt + 2 SHA boosters

Exchange Rate Notes: 
1 USD is about 34 Baht
1 UK Pound is about 70 Baht
1 Euro is about 47 Baht

I promptly registered and they handed me the prerelease foil together with a Seeds of Strength with a label stuck to the back which I was told to write my DCI number on. I was told that the card would be used for a lucky draw. I saw the lucky draw payouts somewhere in the day but I didn't take note of it except that it had 5 different ones and that the one labeled "5" happened to have the most packs. Isn't the most usually given to the number 1?

Anyway, having secured my place in the prerelease, I went to the dried food shop with my friends (who do not play Magic but came together anyway as the plan was to explore that area while I played at the prerelease). There, we found out that we had paid more for vacuum freeze-dried durian at the weekend market. Ouch. I bought some vacuum dried mangoes for 100 baht per pack. Vacuum freeze-dried food is the same kind of food as those the astronauts eat?

Above is the registration booth with friendly staff. In the background is the Food Court. It's bright on the right side because that's where the windows are. The playing area is opposite this view. (Behind me when taking this picture.)

Prizes?

4 rounds of swiss with prizes given according to how many points you manage to get.

12 points - 6 booster packs (I think you get a shirt too but it's not stated on the board and I didn't manage to get 4-0)
9,10 points - 4 booster packs (it's impossible to get 11..)
6-8 points - 2 booster packs
0-5 points - 1 booster pack

Tournament.

Before the tournament began, one of the judges approached me to tell me what rules were going to be enforced because the instructions would be given in Thai instead of in English. (Helpful people are everywhere. Gotta love judges!)

We got to our seats, waited for the products, ripped open the packs and registered them. I had no problem registering my cards since they are all in English, thankfully, but I think the locals might have a slight disadvantage when registering their decks if they are not very adept with the English language. Didn't seem like that was happening at all. Some were slower maybe just because of the lack of experience in organizing the cards. I had 3 of this red card and I tried to ask whether or not I had to get it countersigned but it seems like I didn't have to, unlike at my local prerelease where 3 or more of the same card should be sounded out and countersigned by a judge to prevent cheating.

Anyway, we shipped the cards back to the judges into their cardboard boxes and they came back with other cards. My cards went to an opponent whom I played against at KL, one of the few people I know there. ( By the way, I opened like 5 white cards and tons of UB cards.) My pile looked decent and when I was looking at my cards, the judges began collecting decklists. I was pretty surprised until I was explained to by the judge (from earlier on who explained the rule enforcements) that this prerelease was a casual event. "For fun," he said and explained that I was not required to submit a configuration of the maindeck. I checked whether or not I could simply edit my deck between rounds and he gave the green light. Wow. It's like playing in a league event at a prerelease. I'm sure that this rule can benefit players who enjoy tweaking their decks.

And so, I carried on constructing my deck and came to a conclusion that I was going to play UBw because I had Mystic Gate (UW filterland) and Puppeteer Clique (black). Constructing the mana base was difficult because it was hard to determine how much mana of each color I needed because of the hybrid. Definitely, I had to have more black for the double black Puppeteer Clique and Gloomlance. Slowly, I came to the conclusion that I could essentially treat my UW hybrids as blue so that I could make it more heavy on the UB side with a splash of white.

Round 1

Starting deck looked something like this:

3x Plains
7x Swamp
5x Island
Mystic Gate
Moonring Island
Aphotic Wisps

Curse of Chains
Fate Transfer
Inquisitor's Snare
Safehold Elite
Disturbing Plot
Last Breath

Wingrattle Scarecrow
Umbral Mantle
Silkbind Faerie
Gravelgill Duo
AEthertow
River's Grasp
Watchwing Scarecrow
Barrenton Cragtreads
Puppeteer Clique
2x Merrow Wavebreakers
Cultbrand Cinder
Gloomlance
Woeleecher
Grief Tyrant
Advise from the Fae

 I might have been wrong about my land configuration but I'm definitely sure it was similar to that. I hadn't gotten my cards sleeved yet so I went to find my table and sleeved the cards on the spot. I feel somewhat bad because it feels like I'm wasting my opponent's time but I do want to sleeve my cards. My opponent looked the least bothered by it. He was playing GW and I lost game 1 after losing gas. I sided in Rhys the Redeemed and Mistmeadow Skulk which I believed would be really good against him since his guys didn't have trample, removing Last Breath and Safehold Elite. Initially I put in Last Breath thinking it was some variant of Reprisal but it really wasn't useful against big creature decks. I won game 2 by stabilizing the board and flying over..

By the time game 3 had started, the judge had reminded us that we were down to 5 minutes on the clock. Determined not to leave with a draw, I played quickly and had the Grief Tyrant and Fate Transfer combo together with a Gloomlance in hand. He promptly scooped, explaining that the 8/8 was too much to handle. (*phew*)

I was quite ok with the deck so I continued to carry on with minor tweaking. No more Last Breath for me (not literally) and maybe Safehold Elite since that guy is pretty small. In came Consign to Dream and Mistmeadow Skulk.

Round 2

Starting deck:

3x Plains
7x Swamp
5x Island
Mystic Gate
Moonring Island
Aphotic Wisps

Curse of Chains
Fate Transfer
Inquisitor's Snare
Disturbing Plot
Mistmeadow Skulk

Wingrattle Scarecrow
Umbral Mantle
Silkbind Faerie
Gravelgill Duo
Consign to Dream

AEthertow
River's Grasp
Watchwing Scarecrow
Barrenton Cragtreads
Puppeteer Clique
2x Merrow Wavebreakers
Cultbrand Cinder
Gloomlance
Woeleecher
Grief Tyrant
Advise from the Fae

Game 1, I got beaten by 3/3s, having to trade my 5 mana 3/3 guys for his RG 3-4 mana 3/3 people. Not good at all.

For some reason, I was kind of desperate trying to find some way to win and I somehow put in a 5 mana Illuminated Folio hoping to draw more cards to accomplish that. (As if that's going to work.) Anyway, I got creamed by a horde of 3/3s again still trying to trade 5 mana for 3-4 mana and I had the dumb Illuminated Folio in my hand and it was laughing at my stupidity for putting it in.

After losing 0-2, I decided to do my usual thing (create a more mana intensive deck)  and find a way to play my mass removal, Firespout. I knew that to make my next version of the deck to work, I would need to be able to use my 2 copies of Manamorphose. It would be able to help cast my 2x black cards too if I could get green or red mana out in the first place. To pull this off, I put in Safewright Quest (finds plains/forest) into the deck. My thinking was that if I had white mana and this, I could find my lone forest to cast Manamorphose. If I had my forest, I could search for a plains to fix my mana. The forest could only be used to activate the green side of Firespout.

So in went 2 mountains and 1 Sapseep Forest (which would have been better off as a normal forest after thinking about it now) and out went Advice from the Fae, the Gravelgill Duo and the 4 mana 3/3. Disturbing plot left too since it occured to me that I wouldn't be able to conspire it anytime soon.

Round 3

Starting deck:

2x Plains
6x Swamp
4x Island
2x Mountain
Sapseep Forest
Mystic Gate
Moonring Island
Safewright Quest
Aphotic Wisps
Mistmeadow Skulk
Curse of Chains
2x Manamorphose
Fate Transfer
Inquisitor's Snare

Wingrattle Scarecrow
Umbral Mantle
Firespout
Consign to Dream
Silkbind Faerie

AEthertow
River's Grasp
Watchwing Scarecrow
Puppeteer Clique
2x Merrow Wavebreakers
Cultbrand Cinder
Gloomlance
Woeleecher
Grief Tyrant

 

This round, my opponent was playing WG. However, he played out the protection from blue, red and black abomination and it occurred to me that only Mistmeadow Skulk could block it. I didn't draw it but somehow I had managed to beat my opponent down to 5 life and I was about to "cycle" Aphotic Wisps at his end of turn step until I saw it did something else.

It gave fear.

And so, I managed to fly + fear for the win on 5 life without anymore blockers for the sick 5/5.

I immediately dumped in Rhys the Redeemed and took out Inquisitor's Snare. Game 2, I managed to be lucky and River's Grasp away the pro UBR creature and overwhelmed my opponent with flyers and 8 elf tokens.

I guess trying my luck with Inquisitor's Snare wasn't a good choice. With a final tweak, I was ready for the last round.

Round 4 

Starting deck:

2x Plains
6x Swamp
4x Island
2x Mountain
Sapseep Forest
Mystic Gate
Moonring Island
Safewright Quest
Rhys the Redeemed
Aphotic Wisps
Mistmeadow Skulk
Curse of Chains
2x Manamorphose
Fate Transfer
Wingrattle Scarecrow
Umbral Mantle
Firespout
Consign to Dream
Silkbind Faerie
AEthertow
River's Grasp
Watchwing Scarecrow
Puppeteer Clique
2x Merrow Wavebreakers
Cultbrand Cinder
Gloomlance
Woeleecher
Grief Tyrant

At 2-1, my opponent offered a split in prizes but I don't do splits for small prizes since there isn't much point and putting yourself in a "safe" state of mind is never beneficial to your game. So game 1 began without splitting and my opponent was playing RB. It looked really good for me with my flyers and removal until my opponent dropped the 6 mana flying Midnight Banshee with wither and would give non-black creatures a free -1/-1 counter every turn. No answers for that and we carried on to game 2.

I removed Rhys the Redeemed and Aphotic Wisps (no use for fear anymore) for Inquisitor's Snare and Put Away (the counterspell that lets you shuffle a card back into your library) .

Game 2, we traded cards (I managed to River's Grasp into Midnight Banshee early) and he double Incremental Blighted me at one point. The next turn, I drew Manamorphose and I knew I had to do it now. I cycled for RG mana and peeled Firespout (!!) off the top and cast it to put us in a similar position. We were in topdeck mode and we drew removals and any creatures we managed to muster got killed on the spot. I drew Put Away somewhere and shuffled back my Puppeteer Clique. I drew it after awhile and managed to win with it. (I had like 5-10 cards left in my deck by the time the game ended)

Game 3, I played the tempo game and managed to play around and with Midnight Banshee to my advantage. My flyers (including Puppeteer Clique) went in and the last turn ended with River's Grasp bouncing the banshee away to get a direct hit from my Puppeteer Clique.

So that was the end of my one flight of the prerelease in Bangkok, going 3-1 and getting 4 packs. I heard that the rares were crappy. Anyway I opened Graven Cairns from the packs and not much else. I met up with my non-Magic playing friends who had Bird's Nest and Shark's Fin (didn't manage to eat those) while I was at the prerelease and we continued our tour of city.

Extras

-I left for Thailand before the full spoiler was out and was worried that there might be cards given out in Thai, although I have never seen Thai cards before. Thankfully English cards were the cards of choice there, not that there are Thai Magic cards.

-The system of not having a fixed main deck is really good. I think grassroot level promotions should use such a system so that players can learn and adapt to deckbuilding.

-The event had about a hundred people, which I feel is rather small and most of the players are of the older age group. English might not get you all the way in trying to converse but the common words work fine in games.

- I was told I looked Thai.

-I got really lucky in my last round with the topdeck of Firespout but you really have to play according to what you really need to make the luck work.

-Hybrid mana is really good. It lets many of your lands cast the same card. Counting is difficult but you really get more space and consistency.

-Persist is sick. The only reason why it wasn't as sick as it could have been was because the set throws -1/-1 counters on creatures. Puncture Bolt killed my Puppeteer Clique about 6 times in the whole (or half) day. Out of Shadowmoor, persist is going to be really powerful. I'm pretty confident about that.

-Drawing first in sealed helps quite abit when you don't have many draw card effects. The quantity of cards matter quite abit in sealed and people don't tend to be able to get really aggressive hands to make you lose out on drawing first.

-When I returned back home, I managed to log on to MTGO v3 and I had a shock of my life. The games played looked like the games played on the Apprentice! The chat went over to the side and I am having a major culture shock. No more avatars sitting in a room playing cards. Just text and more text. The deck editor has really bulky cards and I can't make a deck as comfortably anymore. Nooo...

-If you intend to go to Bangkok, never let the taxi drivers quote you the price. Always insist on using the meter and walk away if you don't get it. They never quote you decent prices.

-Nothing is really worth the price stall holders quote you. You'll be surprised if you knew how much they are willing to sell their mechandise for and how much they quote you at first.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hopefully your prerelease experience was a good one too. Until next time, this is Tarmotog bringing the prerelease from far away near you.

-tarmotog@hotmail.com

7 Comments

Awesome by walkerdog at Thu, 04/24/2008 - 12:06
walkerdog's picture

One of the best Magic-related articles I've read, very interesting.

Great read by Anonymous (Unregistered) 64.122.14.39 (not verified) at Wed, 04/23/2008 - 16:31
Anonymous (Unregistered) 64.122.14.39's picture

Great article, this site is really improving and it was fun to read the non-magical part of your pre-release as well as the magical part.

 

Could we get hotlinks on the card names?  That would be the bees knees!!! JXC, I'm lookin your way! 

by JXClaytor at Wed, 04/23/2008 - 17:22
JXClaytor's picture

First off thank you very much for the compliment.  We're growing every day, and hopefully the quality of the content will stay high. 

 

AS for the hotlinks we normally have those programmed soon after the set is introduced onto MTGO.  I have no hand in that, but I think it involves the .csv files and our programmer working on it.   

by Tarmotog at Wed, 04/23/2008 - 20:10
Tarmotog's picture

Wow.. I must have been reallllyyy lucky den..  I sure benefitted from the unfixed maindeck system.. =)

I'm from Singapore.. I went to Thailand with a small group of friends, never expecting it to occur during the prerelease weekend until about 2 weeks before the trip. I tried to get info from the organizing judge but was out of luck as I got the reply on the day I left (the delay was cos of Songkran, the Thai New Year to those reading) so I was left to try my luck. I would have prefered to go on Saturday for the first event but my group planned to go to the Chatuchuk weekend market on sat.

A big thanx to the pple of Thailand for making my experience memorable. =)

by blackhowling (Unregistered) 124.121.211.71 (not verified) at Wed, 04/23/2008 - 10:39
blackhowling (Unregistered) 124.121.211.71's picture

I'm happy also that you have a good time prerelease in Thailand

however on Sunday fewer players showed up in event than the Sat.

 

 

by MirrorMage at Wed, 04/23/2008 - 16:06
MirrorMage's picture

Awesome article! I love Thailand. I love Magic. The thought of those two things combined... woot! The Thais are such a friendly and honest culture that I doubt cheating would ever occur (In the US or UK, I keep my eyes peeled 24/7).

It's a good thing the cards were in English! I did a German pre-release once, all in German, not fun- had to beg my opponents to translate their cards. I ironically won in the end though :D (Viva la Coldsnap) 

Glad to hear you had a good time :)

Glad you were happy at our prerelease by ShinyMan (Unregistered) 202.12.97.119 (not verified) at Wed, 04/23/2008 - 05:42
ShinyMan (Unregistered) 202.12.97.119's picture

Hello! I'm one of the Thai judges, though I wasn't there on the day you played at our prerelease.

 First of all I'm glad that you had a good time, the judge who ran to told you the rules were the pride of our Thai judge community. The system of no fixed main deck is actually a rule that has been out for quite sometime, it just has never been implemented all that much. We used to have the maindecks registered. This was our first trial to allow unfixed maindecks, so you're the lucky man. This system could be done in the prerelease and release events only though.

 BTW, where were you from? I wonder why you would decided to travel abroad just for prerelease.