Category Archives: Misc.

Otakon and the Nuzlocke Challenge!

Good Morning Readers!

I know! I know! I do this far too often! I write for a while, I disappear, I make everyone think i’m dead. It’s cruel. I’m a terrible person. WordPress was so kind to remind me it’s been 5 month since I last published anything. FIVE MONTHS! So that would put us in back in March… right after Katsucon. What’s been going on since then? Well we’ve had MTG release two new sets, Shadows over Innistrad and Eldritch Moon, and we’re already looking towards Kaladesh. League of Legends has released 3 champions; Aurelion Sol, Taliyah, and now Kled. Overwatch Beta has come and gone, seen a full release, a few patches and even it’s own new champions Ana, and hopefully soon, Sombra. Heathstone is… Hearthstone I guess. There was a ton of news with balance and design issues, and then “A Night in Karazhan” (spelled that correctly on the first shot, without looking!) was just released. I haven’t been keeping up with Hearthstone as closely as I used to. We started streaming our D&D sessions. The first one was really positive, and I’m hoping the next ones will be as well. I’ve dabbled a bit in WoW and may jump back in before the launch of Legion. Pokemon Sun and Moon spoilers have been going on and the game release is on the horizon. Finally, we saw the release of Pokemon GO and the fever it caused among fans and non-fans, alike. That was probably the closest I came to writing something, right after the initial launch weekend. Alas, that did not happen. I am Team Mystic, as are most people I know, in case you were wondering and I’m level 21.

I’ve been playing a ton of Overwatch, mostly, working on applying to grad schools, working in general, and preparing for Otakon for two weeks straight. Now that Otakon is over, I feel like the summer is quickly going to come to an end, football will start, autumn will be here, and I may have the urge/time to write again. So here we are.

Otakon was a blast. This year was a little different than years past. Normally, most of the group cosplays, we hit some panels, we party and we hang out. This year, they we’re doing something called the Portable Kaiju Super Battle League. The idea was to make a Pokemon (portable kaiju) team, walk around the con and find their Battle Masters (Gym Leaders) and win to earn badges. By winning 8 or more badges by Sunday, you earned the right to face their version of the Elite Four.

While I knew for sure I was going to partake, I had really no idea what to expect. I didn’t know what kind of leaders and teams to anticipate or how competitive it would be. I have dabbled in competitive Pokemon training/batting in the past, so I decided to prepare for the worst. I also didn’t want to just use the strongest guys I could make. I was worried about disqualifying myself after reading the rules and seeing how vague they were. I saw a “No legendary” clause, so I decided to stay away from “Ubers” entirely, using Smogon’s tier list. I also figured by build a very strong Under Used (UU) team, with as few Over Used (OU) guys as possible, I could beat most of the OU teams I faced. I was confident and figured there would surely be Gym Leaders who were not SUPER hardcore, and I knew they wouldn’t be using Legendaries (or Ubers, hopefully) based on the rules.

While thinking all of this over, I realized I’ve always wanted to cosplay a Pokemon Trainer, and it all sort of just clicked. I could throw together a quick Trainer Red cosplay with the help of Lumi Cosplay, and I’d build my team to mimic his. My team would be cosplaying along side of me and I could role play the whole thing. I built a team of Pikachu, Charizard, Blastoise, Venusaur, Snorlax and Espeon. I debated going real old school with the Lapras, but the Espeon gave me better type coverage with less redundancy. For you Pokemon nerds out there (like me) here’s the complete break down of the team:

Charizard @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Blaze
EVs: 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
– Fire Blast
– Air Slash
– Focus Blast
– Roost

Blastoise @ Assault Vest
Ability: Torrent
EVs: 184 HP / 252 SpA / 72 Spe
Modest Nature
– Rapid Spin
– Scald
– Dark Pulse
– Ice Beam

Venusaur @ Venusaurite
Ability: Overgrow
EVs: 248 HP / 96 Def / 144 SpD / 20 Spe
Bold Nature
– Giga Drain
– Sludge Bomb
– Substitute
– Leech Seed

Pikachu @ Lightball
Ability: Lightning Rod
EVs: 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
– Substitute
– Thunderbolt
– Grass Knot
– Hidden Power Ice

Snorlax @ Leftovers
Ability: Thick Fat
EVs: 188 HP / 144 Def / 176 SpD
Careful Nature
– Curse
– Body Slam
– Rest
– Earthquake

Espeon @ Choice Specs
Ability: Magic Bounce
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
– Psychic
– Dazzling Gleam
– Shadow Ball
– Morning Sun

So I’m thinking, “Surely I’ll run into issues and difficult opponents, but I can try to out play them and I’ll do my best. I can do it”. I had faith. The first two days of the con were awesome. We were running around, finding Gym Leaders, challenging them and winning. We played all sorts of Doubles and Triples battles, with Singles mixed in. We fought a Water trainer, a Grass Trainer, a Fighting Trainer, a Fairy Trainer, Steel, Ground and Ghost. There were so many more we never even had the chance to fight. Each Leader took their job seriously and we loved every second of it. It was one of the most epic things I’ve ever done. Elementary School Andy was screaming with joy on the inside. It was like living the dream. And I was doing it with a super on-theme, and awesome team. I was beating Gym leaders with my trusty Pikachu and the original Kanto starters. I can’t speak highly enough about the event.

Finally, come Sunday, I had enough badges to fight the Elite Four. I said goodbye to my friends as they went to explore the con, and I queued up the Pokemon theme song. I was so pumped. I knew I could do anything. It was really emotional. If you were following me on Twitter, you saw me updating everyone over the course of the weekend and then… radio silence…

I showed up Sunday morning and the lines to fight the E-Four were insane… I was worried that would be the case but I never imagines it would be that bad. I was nervous there wouldn’t be enough time to fight all four. I waited in line, and started chatting with some of the people who had already faced some of the E-Four. I started hearing things like “This one guy’s using Mega Blaziken and a Protean Greninja…” and “This other guys is using Mega Rayquaza.” My heart sank. Not only was there not going to be enough time to actually face them all, I was completely outgunned. My poor team was pretty much mathematically eliminated before I even stepped in line. I had a PIKACHU for Christ’s sake! To put it in perspective, Pikachu has 320 total stat points while Mega Rayquaza has 780. Yeah, ok… Those rules about No Legendaries? Clearly that was a restriction for us and not them.

I wanted to make a cool team that still has some shot at winning and I was severely punished for it. So… I left. I didn’t even try. I did not want to waste the few remaining hours of the con standing in line to get my teeth kicked in. Building that team had risks I was fully aware of, but I was still pretty bummed. I am not a Pokemon master, I did not become a Champion. It was very anti-climactic, but… now I know. This was the first year they did this event, I had literally no idea what to expect, they said they would do it again next year, and improve upon it. I believe it can only get better.

All in all, the con was amazing, both Lumi Cosplay and Bellexi Cosplay looked amazing. Bellexi got some SERIOUS press and even shout outs from famous cosplayers for her Road Hog cosplay. As I’ve said many times, these are very talented women and always make a splash at these cons. Next on the list will either be AUSA or Katsucon 2017, depending on some factors.

Regardless, this con gave me a serious itch to play some Pokemon, I’m excited to try Sun and Moon, and until it’s released I’m trying a Nuzlocke Challenge for the first time! I found out I could buy R/B/Y on my DS for ten bucks. You can’t really beat that, plus I figured it would be the perfect version for a nuzlocke challenge. I am debating getting Red or Yellow. Yellow being the choice I’m leaning towards for a number of reasons. If I ever want to play through the game normally, I’d want to play Yellow, since I never owned it as a kid. Secondly, you get all the starters in Yellow throughout the course of the game, so you don’t have to just pick one. Now for the those of you who aren’t aware, a nuzlocke challenge has a bunch of self imposed rules you have to follow to make the game a bit more interesting. Here are the ones I’m using:

  • The challenge doesn’t start until you can obtain pokeballs.
  • If a Pokemon faints, it “dies” and you must release it into the wild. You cannot use that Pokemon again.
  • You may only catch the FIRST Pokemon you encounter on each Route.
  • If you fail to catch that Pokemon, you’re out of luck. Move onto the next Route.
  • If the first Pokemon you encounter is one you’ve already caught, you can keep trying until you find a different Pokemon species.
  • If I go with playing Yellow, I will not use the starters given to me throughout the course of the game. Using them would feel like cheating. I will just use my starter Pikachu.
  • If you run out of usable Pokemon, and all of your Pokemon are “dead”, you lose the game, you have to start over.

I figured it would be way fun because if I fail, I don’t mind restarting R/B/Y from the beginning over and over. It’s just a neat way to try and add variety to the game. Plus, I can document my progress here.

I will get some time in before next weeks article. Thanks for tuning in. Again, I apologize for the long span of nothing. I appreciate everyone who enjoys reading what I write. You can email me comments and questions at Click “Follow” over on the right side to follow the blog and never miss an update! Be sure to follow me on Twitter @TheGreat_Andini for stream times and posts. I’ll be streaming Overwatch in the near future. Thanks again for everything!


Blizzards and Buck Shot

No major post today, folks!!

We’re prepping for a blizzard, so I’ve stocked up on coffee, fire wood, booze and food. We’re basically preparing for a three day LAN party. We will be playing League of Legends, so I may try to fix the stream, since I’ll have some time. I’ve been mastering Tristana in addition to Miss Fortune. I need one more solid ADC in order to really start doing some damage in Ranked. I can’t decide between Kalista, Lucian, Ashe, Vayne or Graves (who is definitely about to be nerfed into the ground). I say that because Graves currently has the highest win percentage in THREE DIFFERENT ROLES in Ranked. He’s close to 60% in ADC, Top and Jungle. Pros are saying he’s just giving out free LP. I’m sure it cannot last.

After that, it’s on to learning a bunch of Tops or something, I dunno. If you’re in range of this storm than be safe, and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. Stay warm, enjoy some time doing nothing and staying indoors. Good Luck everyone, and thanks for tuning in!

Be sure to click follow over on the right to make sure you never miss an update. You can email me questions, comments, or concerns at Be sure to follow me on Twitter @TheGreat_Andini for streaming times and posts. If i can get the League Stream up it’ll be here: Thanks again and enjoy the snow!


A New Year

Good Afternoon Everyone!

Welcome back! The holidays are over, things are suddenly going back to normal with work and life. It’s been a very long time since I’ve written anything here and I’m hoping to change that. Fall was crazy with the new job and the holidays are always crazy. One of my resolutions is going to be keeping this blog up and running and I have several ideas on how to do this.

Lately, I haven’t been playing much Hearthstone. The last three months or so I missed hitting Rank 5 or better. September, October and November were due to my job and being busy. I spent the majority of those times just clearing daily quests. I had saved up enough gold to out right buy the League of Explorers expansion, so I figured I’d try it and see what this “Reno Jackson” was all about. In December, I started playing Aggro Shaman and LOVED it. I had some insane win streak of close to 20 games in a row. I zoomed from rank 15 to 6. It was INSANE. The I started mixing it up a bit, playing what I believe to be the best deck in the game, Combo Druid or Force Roar, as I like to call it. I seemed to get stuck around rank 6, but i wasn’t worried because I had time and the Aggro deck was so unstoppable.

Then it happened. I managed to follow the single greatest win streak of all time, with the single WORST losing streak of all time. I dropped from rank 6 all the way to 11… I stopped keeping track when I was like 5 and 35 or something absurd. I straight lost the will to keep playing. I’m sure the meta shifted, and I was unable to adapt. Perhaps it was the increase of Control decks since all the aggro decks already hit legends? Who knows? All I know is I lost, and I lost HARD. I’ve since gone back to just clearing dailies. My birthday was the 1st, so I didn’t have much time to play this past weekend, and My time has been spent on other games.

I have really been getting back into League of Legends. I used to play years ago, way back in Beta, Season 1 and Season 2. I did not have the equipment to play regularly for the following 3 years or so. Now that I built my new computer in October, I’ve spent the last few months relearning the game. With a group of friends, I’ve been relegated to ADC in the Bottom Lane, and have been doing well. It’s a role I’ve always enjoyed, and am really having fun mastering. I play a lot of Miss Fortune, Tristana, and  Vayne. I love Jinx, but sadly she was nerfed. I’m learning Lucian, need to relearn Graves and Ashe, and would like to pick up Draven. With it being preseason, I took the opportunity to complete my placement Matches for Ranked and am starting Silver III. I felt really good those first ten and ended going 5-5. When Season 6 starts, and the ranked system will change, I need to start learning a second role. I’ve always liked Mid but I think I’m leaning towards Top. I used to main Riven, who is just still busted. I’d like to pick up Darius, Rengar, Garen, Volibear, etc. Some Tanky, Strong, top lane bruisers. Maybe Zed so I could also flex mid. I’d like to stream LoL, but I’m having trouble with the software, just a few kinks to iron out. Regardless, my goal is to climb to gold, see how decent am I am, and maybe climb to platinum.

Magic: The Gathering has been pretty stagnant. The new sets are all very unexciting. Tron got a new toy that may push it over the edge for Modern (which would be bad for us G/B/x players). There was a large Modern Star City Games Tournament this weekend where Bloom basically cleaned up. It landed multiple copies in the Top 8 and won the whole thing. People are speculating this deck will not last long, as it is over the top powerful. There is major speculation on a return of Stoneforge Mystic, either by unbanning or reprint into standard. The cards power level is easily controllable in Standard based on what equipment is printed around it, and I do not personally believe it’s too powerful for Modern. Everyone who knows me knows I want power cards. While this may seem at odds with the Bloom deck statement above, Bloom is extremely hard to interact with, while SFM is not. Cards should be powerful, they shouldn’t be complete immune to interaction. There is a Modern Invitational Qualifier I may try to go to next weekend as well.

In other news, Fallout 4 is great; I’m about 8 hours into it. It’s a fantastic game. The new Star Wars movie is great. I really enjoyed watching it with my brother and my girlfriend. Lastly, and the thing I hope will give me plenty of new content to write, I’ve been playing Dungeons and Dragons with the same crew that plays League of Legends. We’ve got two sessions (about 10 hours) under our belts and I’ve been writing down EVERY single thing that happens along the way. I am hoping to turn it into a novelization of sorts, chapters more or less, and publish them here as an on going story. So far it’s been a blast to play, a blast to write and I hope it’s a lot of fun to read. Our DM is truly amazing. He has no interest in playing (so he doesn’t feel obligated to DM) and has devoted hours and hours to world building, character development and perfecting his story telling. Each time we meet the group gets better, the story gets fleshed out and I’m really excited to see where it all goes. With his help, I will be turning each sessions notes into a series, and I think it’s going to be awesome.

The first installment will be a week from now. I’ll be back Friday with a new post, regarding LoL, MTG, or Hearthstone. We’re still in preseason for LoL, so patches ares till being implemented. The full spoiler for MTG is not out yet and we’re close to another Banned and Restricted List update. Hearthstone is Hearthstone. It’s a crazy game with a frustrating amount of variance, and I HATE IT. *Clears Throat* Excuse me.

Feel free to email me comments, questions or concerns to Follow me on Twitter @TheGreat_Andini, and be sure to click “Follow” over on the right so you never miss an update! That’s the agenda, Lots to talk about, lots to analyze. Thanks for tuning in. May this be the year of the consistent content! Happy New Year, Readers!


Streaming Tonight and a Quick Update!

Good Afternoon, Everyone!

This weekend was the first weekend of regular season football! My Philadelphia Eagles play their first game against the Atlanta Falcons. Basically this will be the first chance we get to see an almost entirely new Eagles team. It should be a good game. This could also set the tone for another soul crushing Eagles season. Tune in to find out, and possibly enjoy my tears! This has also been one of the strangest opening weekends for fantasy football I have ever seen. It seemed like every game was low scoring, most QB’s did almost nothing, and my teams are already falling apart! HOORAY!

We of course will be keeping track here as time goes on:

Work League:
Crushing week 1 defeat at the hands of Gronk to start 0-1.

The CHill League:
A solid start leads to a disappointing follow up. With only Nelson Agholor and Eagles Defense needing to make up a MERE 53 points tonight, it’s probably safe to say this will be another defeat. 0-1.

Phi Gamma Francavilla:
Even with the horrendous DeSean Jackson going out early in Q1, Matt Forte and DeAndre Hopkins pull together some serious points for a solid win. This could be the league to watch. 1-0

The full set spoiler should be out by this weekend for Battle for Zendikar. I will be doing a set review in regard to Modern when that is released. I am also going to be out of town this weekend, so that may mean there is no post on Friday. I’m going to be in a cabin in the woods and I doubt they’ll have WiFi. Stranger things have happened though.

Other than that not much has changed, I’m still climbing with Midrange Hunter. Saturday night’s stream went very well, we climbed from Rank 10 to 6, which means the real grind begins!

I’ll be streaming Hearthstone tonight around 7:00 pm EST while the Eagles play, so we can cheer for ladder climbing and hopefully cheer for the Eagles to pull in a win. Or come hang out and root for the Falcons, I don’t care. Bourbon and music will be had, either way.

Here’s the list I’m currently using:

Hybrid Hunter:
1 Hunter’s Mark
2 Webspinner
1 Explosive Trap
2 Freeze Trap
1 Flare
1 Quick Shot
1 Iron Beak Owl
2 King’s Elekk
2 Knife Juggler
2 Mad Scientist
2 Eagle Horn Bow
2 Animal Companion
2 Kill Command
2 Unleash the Hounds
2 Hound Master
1 Piloted Shredder
1 Loatheb
2 Savannah Highmane
1 Dr. Boom

BONUS LIST!!!! Here’s a Midrange Paladin list I am also working on:
(Disclaimer: Will not be climbing with this anytime soon)

Midrange Paladin:
1 Zombie Chow
1 Equality
1 Ironbeak Owl
2 Knife Juggler
2 Shielded Minibot
1 Coghammer
2 Muster for Battle
2 Aldor Peacekeeper
1 Big Game Hunter
2 Truesilver Champion
2 Consecration
1 Defender of Argus
2 Murloc Knight
2 Piloted Shredder
1 Antique Healbot
1 Quatermaster
2 Sludge Belcher
1 Sylvanas Windrunner
1 Dr. Boom
1 Lay on Hands
1 Tirion Fordring

This list is pretty stock, I’ve always enjoyed the power Midrange Pally has. We get to use Murloc Knight now, which is an insane card. We focus on early board control with Minibots, Jugglers, and Muster, bait out their AoE removal, then land a threat that can end the game. The only other things I would look at changing is removing the chow, the Peacekeepers, and the Sylvanas, for Warhorse Trainer, another QM, and Justicar Trueheart for a more token oriented build. That second option could be horrendous, but who knows? Right now, I’ve enjoyed doing my dailies with this list and it’s always fun to switch it up.

Thanks for reading my quick update. Again, I’m going to try to get a post ready for Friday if the BFZ set has been fully spoiled. If not, it’ll be ready for Monday. Tune in tonight at 7:00 pm EST as we climb to Legend with Midrange Hunter at

Follow me on Twitter @TheGreat_Andini to find out when I’m streaming and for blog post updates. you can email me questions, comments, or concerns at Click “Follow” on the right to follow the blog and never miss and update! Thanks again for reading, and may your King’s Elekk always draw you a card!


Hearthstone Grand Tournament Packs: Just A Quick Reminder!!

Just A Quick Reminder!

Tonight, at 7:00 pm EST, I will be opening about 30 packs of The Grand Tournament, live on stream.

Afterwards we will be brewing, building, and trying out new decks with all the (hopefully) awesome stuff we got. We’ve also got around 3000 dust, so building some Legends will be in order! Come on by, there will be good music, good games, and new, fun decks. Tune in tomorrow for the final part of the Grand Tournament set review as well.

You can find updates to all of this on Twitter @TheGreat_Andini. Thanks and see you tonight!


Quick Update

Good Afternoon Everyone!

First I wanted to start by apologizing for missing another post on Friday. Things have gotten crazy in my life recently and I am working on juggling everything. My boss, as well as another coworker in my department, just both left the company this past Friday. The week leading up to that day has seen an ever increasing amount of work. Today, I walked to my desk and quickly realized I’ll be doing the work of two people for at least the next few weeks.

This is good news and bad news. The good news is, this is a fantastic opportunity to advance my career. The bad news is, it isn’t ideal for hobbies and dream chasing. Now, what I mean by that is, I would love to do nothing but play video games and write for a living but, my job is what allows me to do this at all.

In addition, I have been working off of the same horrible laptop since 2007. When I say “horrible” I mean, it’s just a shadow of its former self and has served me very, very well. Unfortunately, this means I have been very limited in my ability to complete blog posts. I tend to go to work early, or stay late to get them done. This will no longer be feasible with my new responsibilities.

DON’T PANIC! I am not closing shop. Quite the contrary! Today (after uploading, cropping, and readying 135 Hearthstone Card images) I ordered all of the parts for my new computer. Everything should arrive this week, and my goal is to have it put together and ready to roll this Saturday.

That means:
– I’ll have the ability to actually provide quality content while at home
– I’ll no longer need to rush posts, or finish them around my work schedule
– I’ll be able to rejoin society instead of only have a phone to access the internet
– I’ll be stepping up my gaming… uh… game by being able to play on other devices besides my mobile
– Yes, I’m going to start streaming regularly, Hearthstone, League of Legends, MTGO, and I may even actually check out WoW

This is all very exciting new for me and the blog. My goal is that while I will have to work extra hard in the short term, in the long term I’ll be ramping up my gaming and content. I will be new to streaming, but I will quickly get the hang of it and set up a schedule. It will be based on Eastern Standard Time, and probably some time after 7pm. I’ll be sure to advertise it well.

Once I am all set up, my first streaming exercise will be to open as many packs of Hearthstone’s “The Grant Tournament” as I can. I mentioned in the last post that my goal was 30 something packs, well I’m 2/3rds of the way there and increasing my goal stash everyday.

Speaking of TGT, I am going to start my set review on Friday. I’ll break it down into 3 or 4 chunks and we’re going to cover everything. I wanted to try and get the first half done today but, looking back at bullet point number 2, I’d rather produce something quality to read and not rush it. So now that all of the images are uploaded and ready to use, I’ll have the first portion of the set review ready to go on Friday. Hopefully we will finish just before the set is released!

Thanks for tuning in and being patient. We’re on the cusp of some really cool stuff. Hopefully, the stream will be up and running this weekend. Fingers crossed. I’ll see you on the other side!


Origins of a Different Kind

Good Morning, Readers!

Today I wanted to take things in a different direction. I’ve seen lot of pros talk about how they got into Magic and I wanted to do the same. This game has shaped who I am as a person, and has been integral to my whole life. So it’s only right I recognize how and why this game means so much to me, and to all of us. Magic is an incredibly complex and exciting game, and I never would have discovered it as early as I did if it hadn’t been for the interesting art.

I was about seven years old, maybe younger, when I was in a Toys R Us with my father. We use to kill afternoons just hanging out in the toy store. Sometimes I’d be allowed to get something, but most often it was just fun to walk around the toy story with my dad. I remember being near the front of the store, where they had a hanging rack of trading cards. All the baseball, football, sports cards were there, and the TCGs. One of the boxes stood out to me. It looked like tan stone, with moss growing from the bottom. In the middle, the Stones formed what looked like a well with a black center. I remember thinking it looked similar to the middle of the Jumanji board (a movie I was obsessed with) where the words would mysteriously appear, before fading like smoke. The words “Portal” were printed on it. For as long as I live, I will never forget that image.


I knew then, I HAD TO know what was in that box. HOLY CRAP, you can’t just make a mysterious looking box, with no indication of what it could possibly hold and then refuse a kid the opportunity to find out. It says “Magic Portal” on it. I knew it was gonna be awesome. Luckily, my father was unable to ignore my pleas, and we bought one of the boxes to take home. I’m pretty sure my young brain pointed out “Starter Set for 2 Players” and used that as my pitch.

We got home and opened the box. As usual, when learned to play a new game together, my father would read the rules first to himself, then teach me how to play. I think he quickly realized that this game was NOT an average kids game. I very clearly remember setting up the board, with the “DO NOT SHUFFLE THESE DECKS PRIOR TO PLAY” warnings. I remember us using the starting guide to work through the first few examples turns. I also remember my father saying things like, “Well that can’t be right…”, “This doesn’t make any sense…”, etc. We had so many questions that the rule books could not answer. I have to give my dad credit for not giving up. He could have easily said, “I don’t have time for this, I have things to do.” Instead, we made up the rules when we didn’t know them. We played a bunch, the best we could. There were a few cards, again, that I still remember to this day. I remember casting a Red, 3/1 Cobra, and Lava Axe. We didn’t understand the potential power of Discard Spells like Mind Rot. This is a common theme that you can see with new players. Why mess around with things that don’t kill your opponent? I also eventually learned to just do exactly what the cards say. Don’t try to interpret anything. As Shia Lebouf would say, “JUST DO IT!” These long learning sessions got me started on the path of a game I would play on and off for many, many years.

I don’t really remember when, but eventually we stop playing Magic. It was either too difficult, or I’d moved on to something else as seven and eight year olds are wont to do. It wasn’t until years later, when my parents got divorced, that I started playing again. I moved in with my mom, and a couple of the kids across the street played. At this point my younger brother was old enough to learn, so I did the best I could to teach him. Again, when we didn’t know the rules, we made them up. The best example I have is we assumed an attacking creature with 5 power being blocked by a creature with 3 toughness would deal 2 damage to the defending player. Basically everything had Trample. Needless to say our creatures were very good. The “Whiptail Wurm” was my favorite creature.

Whiptail Wurm

Damn, he was badass. I mean, just look at that magnificent beast. It’s bigger than TWO ELEPHANTS. Plus, by our rules, he always had trample. We thought the keyword “Trample” was Unblockable. I don’t think we ever actually saw a creature with Unblockable. Good Times.

Colin, my new friend across the street, had all the coolest cards. I remember when he told us we could order individual cards off the internet. The internet became an even more mysterious place that day. It no longer was JUST for looking up fake Pokemon video game cheats and became a place that spawned Magic cards out of thin air. We loved opening boosters, since we didn’t know what “sets” were, or what “rotation”, or “legal” meant. Whoever picked the coolest looking boosters was doing it right. We discovered what cards were in which boosters just by cracking packs. There was a unique magic surrounding not knowing what could be in those boosters. We had literally no way of knowing.  Cards like Hypnox, Bloodfire Colossus, and Endless Wurm were king. The cliche Angels, and Dragons were always the best cards.

We eventually got a taste of synergy when my buddy built a Goblin deck. Spark Smith was just wild. Gempalm Incinerator, was another insane card. No matter how hard I tried, I could not beat these decks. Even playing these piles with only singletons allowed us to start to get a grasp on the idea behind synergy. My brother learned Elves and wrecked me over and over gaining near infinite amounts of life with Well Wisher. Starter decks became a great way to get new cards. Again, the pictures on the box would lure us in. Decks’ like Odyssey’s “Trounce-o-Matic” were the coolest. They had themes, and Threshold was really unique. Later, the Mirrodin Modular deck became another of my favorite starter lists to play.  Learning to build a deck around a mechanic taught us discipline.

Eventually we had enough cards and confidence in our decks that we learned about Card Shops. It was great discovering that there were places where people could go and just play magic whenever they wanted. No matter how many cards I got, how many times I learned we had been playing by the “rules,” I was always picking up new tips and tricks. The first time I learned about The Stack and Priority blew my mind. The world continued to be more magical, and bigger than I ever imagined, in every sense of the phrase. I was playing a slightly modified starter deck from Judgment; “Spectral Slam.” I thought this deck was crazy, all of my phantoms felt unkillable. At that first tournament we went to, I think I only won 1 match out of 5 or 6. It was some big tournament, one of the most crowded I can ever remember seeing the shop from that point on. In hind sight, winning even just one match was pretty incredible. I remember being dismantled by a Psychatog Deck. It was my first taste of competitive play, and I was hooked.

Once we started going to the shop regularly, I began to learn at an exponential rate. I found new friends who played magic, Adam and Tyler, and we began going to Jester’s Play House** regularly. In high school, we were finally able to drive, so we couldn’t wait for every Friday to roll around. None of us really had jobs though, so we had to rely on trading, cracking packs and hobbling decks together. Trading was an art form. No one had smart phone to look prices up. It wasn’t uncommon for someone to look up and print out a list of prices so they couldn’t get bamboozled by the sharks. Speaking of trading, I’ll never forget when Tarmogoyf was rotating; Modern wasn’t a format. I had zero interest in legacy because I knew how expensive it was.  I traded away my play set of Goyfs for roughly 30 dollars apiece to get a play set of Reflecting pools for my brother along with a bunch of stuff I would need for the next standard set. Seemed like a great deal. I couldn’t use the Goyfs anymore, and my brother needed the Pools, so I gave them to him for his birthday. The look on his face that morning when he opened the Reflecting Pools, was ALMOST worth the 700*** some-odd dollars that play set is worth now. Almost. :P


I remember the very first “good deck” I built was Tooth and Nail. I loved that thing. I slowly traded for everything I needed until it was finally complete. I was very satifying working on something for so long, and getting all of the necessary pieces. Adam played a nasty G/B deck that could ramp into turn 3 Plow Under then kill you with Kodama of the North Tree or just Cranial Extraction your most important cards and neuter you.  Tyler, of course, was our resident Affinity Player. I moved on to “Scryb Force,” “R/W Boat Brew,” “R/W/G Zoo.” My Brother played “Boros Deck Wins,” and Gabreil Nassief’s “Cruel Control.” We quickly learned how to play, what to play, and most importantly, why. “Net Decking” was understood as required.

The prize support of our FNM was very top heavy. You wouldn’t get anything unless you even got top 8, which we had EVERY FNM. I spent years and years getting my teeth knocked in trying to get better, trying to top 8. I hated, and loved, playing against the best people in the shop. Eventually I did get better, and eventually I DID top 8. Getting whooped over and over made me into the player I am today.

We spent many summers, weekends, and nights jamming games until the wee hours of the morning. I cannot count how many games we played in that basement on East Timber. I will never forget those times. We survived Affinity. We survived Kithkin. We survived Faeries. We survived Dragon Storm and “Pickles”. We lived trough the birth of Tarmogoyf!

Then… it all just stopped.

We all went to college, we all went our separate ways, and we kind of quit. Didn’t have the time or money to really play while at school. I eventually moved away after college, got a good job and picked up Magic again, starting to play more seriously than I ever have (aka the present). None of the old guys play anymore, but that’s ok. Adam still reads the blog (SHOUT OUT! THANKS FOR READING MAN!!). I’ve found a new shop, made newer friends and I hope I don’t quit Magic ever again. I’ve crossed off MANY personal victories on my competitive bucket list like Top 8-ing an IQ. I’ve since focused my time on Modern as opposed to Standard, and added a couple more LGSs to my hang outs. We’ll see what the future will hold moving forward.

So that’s my Origin Story. I never did re-teach my dad how to play. I tried several times over the years. He would feign interest, and attempt to learn, but it never really stuck. I think the joy of the game, for him, came from teaching and spending time with me. Looking back, that’s all I really needed.

I couldn’t have asked for a better dad.

Just the fact the he pretended to learn was enough. I could tell he cared, it just wasn’t his thing. He would buy us boosters; he’d buy us singles; we’d get a box at Christmas. If he hadn’t purchased me the starter game all those years ago, I may not have ever discovered it. At the very least I’d have missed out on the many early years that I did play. So, thanks dad.

* This was originally Posted over on The Basement MTG about a year ago. I figured this was a good time to give it a once over. I’ve updated it a bit and smoothed it out.  It’s a little after Father’s day, but I wanted to move this over to the new blog, as a tribute even though my father will probably never read it.

** Unfortunately, Jester’s Play House closed down in December of 2014. I miss it is terribly even though I’ve been out of Jersey for 3 years now. We played at that shop for over a decade.

*** Now closer to 800+. As you are all probably aware of, now that I’ve been playing Junk and Jund, I DID get my Future Sight Goyfs back. Looking back though, trading them all those years ago was worth it. I wouldn’t change it even if I could go back. It was very “Gift of the Magi.” My brother still gets upset when it comes up, ha ha.

As always you can email us at You should also follow me on Twitter @TheGreat_Andini. Don’t forget to always appreciate the great times you’ve had playing this game with your best friends. I know I will never take the memories for granted.