Lessons in GPT Beijing – 4th Place – January 26th 2014

I used to write tournament reports but the thing is that it can be difficult to remember what happened in each match not to mention that I don’t get to write my reports at the soonest possible time. So instead, what I will try to do is to just try to write a summary of my recent GPT experience and share what I learned from it. But before anything else, here’s the rundown of my match ups that day.

Swiss Rounds:

2-0 vs BUG Midrange

0-2 vs Mono-Black Devotion

2-0 vs Mono-Blue Devotion

2-0 vs G/R Devotion

0-2 vs Junk Hexproof

Play-Offs:

2-1 vs Mono-White Aggro

0-2 vs Junk Hexproof

Anyway, I ended the tournament at 4th place which isn’t that bad considering that I rarely get to play in GPTs let alone, have my first experience of making it to the play-offs. I can also say that this was one of the tourneys that I am able to perform optimally. For reference, here’s the deck that I used:

Mono-Blue Devotion

Main Deck: 60

Lands: 25

21 Island

3 Mutavault

1 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

Creatures: 28

4 Cloudfin Raptor

4 Frostburn Weird

4 Judge’s Familiar

4 Master of Waves

4 Nightveil Specter

4 Thassa, God of the Sea

4 Tidebinder Mage

Spells: 7

2 Bident of Thassa

1 Cyclonic Rift

2 Jace, Architect of Thought

2 Rapid Hybridization

Sideboard: 15

1 Aetherling

1 Bident of Thassa

1 Cyclonic Rift

1 Curse of the Swine

1 Dispel

2 Dissolve

2 Domestication

4 Gainsay

1 Rapid Hybridization

1 Ratchet Bomb

With Born of the Gods scheduled to have its official release this weekend, it wouldn’t be long before this list changes though frankly, I am not really sure if there’s still room for innovation other than having a couple of Thassa’s Rebuff in the 75 or maybe even a couple of Fated Infatuation in the main. And I am more inclined to include the counter spell than the clone effect that the latter offers for the reason that counters are more likely to get the job that I want than the latest version of cackling counterpart. Then again, I’ve yet to see how the metagame will look like in the first few weeks to determine how the deck would best adapt to the would-be environment.

For the time being, let me share some of the things that I learned from my recent GPT experience.

Sideboarding: As most pros would say, there’s no clear cut way to sideboard against opponents. The art of sideboarding is something you develop and perfect on your own through your experience in dueling with different decks. Though there are cards in the 75 that are non-negotiable when it comes to boarding them in and or boarding them out, it’s not always the case.

Take this case for example: I was up against a GR Devotion and often monoblue players would board out their Bidents, expecting the GR Devotion to board in artifact hate like destructive revelry. What I did was keep the bidents in and instead, boarded out my Jaces since at that time, I was confident that I can take the aggressor’s role and lead the way with a bident which was what happened.

Even though the opponent was playing defensively, he couldn’t defend effectively because I forced his Boros Reckoner and his lone Burning-Tree Emissary by activating the ability of the Bident. Even though he drew a Mistcutter Hydra and played it post-combat through an online Chandra, Pyromaster, it was already too late since he’s already wide open and the counter swing from me finished the game. He wasn’t expecting I’d leave the bidents in so he decided to just leave his revelries in the side since based on his experience; mono-blue players typically board out their bidents.

In the semis, I faced off with a hyper-aggressive deck and though Thassa plays a big role when it comes to finishing off games, I didn’t want to draw multiples of the God so instead of keeping four, I cut one from the main. I also did the same for Master of Waves while completely removing my Bidents with the idea that I’d probably be defensive most of the time which was what happened in all three games.

I left my Jaces in the main because they’re good against this particular matchup and boarded in a miser dispel which proved to be critical to the opponent when I countered his last breath aimed towards my Master of Waves, eventually winning me the match. Also, being able to hybridize your own creatures to ambush your opponents’ attacking soldier creatures is very invaluable when it comes to such a match up. I guess I was also lucky to draw my Jaces even though I only have two in my 75.

Sideboarding can be tricky, especially the part of boarding out cards in exchange for cards that you want to put in from your sideboard. But with practice, you will be able to find the best configuration for every matchup. Also, you have to keep in mind that you cannot just jam every card in your sideboard that is effective against a particular strategy by default. Doing so may cause your deck to be diluted which can negatively affect its consistency and plan.

Don’t Think Too Much: This can be more damaging to your performance in the tournament than it would help. Thinking too much can cause you to misplay more since you tend to get into the heat of the moment that you tend to neglect other factors that are apparent in the current board state.

Take this for example, my opponent attacked with his two Precinct Captains and I blocked each one with a blue elemental token from my Master. Thing is that I put my two Elemental tokens in the graveyard  as well as my opponent when I had a +1 Jace, Architect of Thought activation and TWO Master of Waves on the battlefield. This means that my creatures shouldn’t have died at that time.

Another reason why thinking too much is not that helpful is that it causes you to focus too much on winning that you become vulnerable to tilting when the game’s slowly slipping away from you which you shouldn’t fall into. Remember, being anxious about losing and succumbing to tilt and frustration will get you losing more games than winning them.

Whenever you start a match, don’t try thinking of anything. Not even winning. Just focus on your technical plays and in how you can beat your opponent the soonest possible time. Thinking of winning and not losing will just put pressure on you and can potentially cause you to be overly conscious with your plays that you end up performing sub-optimally. Just make the best technical play that can get your opponent’s life to zero as oppose to thinking of winning.

Winning will eventually be yours if your mind is free from anxieties, worries and stress. And because your mind is stress free, you’re able to process better plays than when you’re under pressure. Of course it can be difficult to do so especially if you’re already at the latter part of the tournament, and especially when you’re competing in a huge event but it helps to lessen the pressure on yourself.

Build Rapport: This is something that players rarely do though it’s understandable that not all are interested in having small talk before or after games or maybe they just don’t find any reason to engage in a conversation. But the thing is that talking to your opponent and establishing rapport with them contributes to your growth as a player. Magic: The Gathering is not just a card game. It’s also a game which opens up opportunities to meet new friends and to learn from each other.

Always try to open up an opportunity to learn from your opponents. Try asking getting to know cards that they have in their decks, the reason behind their inclusion and exclusion of certain cards as well as their rationale in boarding in and boarding out certain cards on certain match ups. Try to learn and find out what you could possibly do from them. Remember, the more informed you are, the more you’ll be able to make decisions in-game, not counting experience especially when faced against different kinds of decks.

Of course not all would be comfortable in sharing their hidden techs or their strategies but it’s understandable. Also keep in mind that you should also learn to reveal information about your deck to your opponents. Think of this as a fair trade after hearing their side of the story regarding their decks. I lost two straight games against a rogue Junk Hexproof in the swiss. It was hard to deal with it because my deck wasn’t built to battle threats that have hexproof and that are enchanted with Gift of Orzhova.

Not to mention that it has a plethora of spot removals reminiscent of a typical Mono-Black Devotion deck, but have Skylashers in the sides and main board. After our games, we talked about our decks and our sideboard configuration. I must say that I am pretty lucky for having a jovial opponent so I was more than willing to share my deck’s configuration and my match up results. Initially, you’d think that the conversation didn’t really matter until we got paired again in the semis in which case we both laughed while remembering the conversation we had earlier that day regarding both our deck’s configuration and strategies.

And I didn’t shy away in applying the information I learned from him and about his deck but then again, I still lost to him. The information may seem useless on the surface since my deck didn’t had what it took to defeat the Junk Hexproof but then again, based on how the games went, I can say that my game improved since I had knowledge on what cards to play around and I was able to configure my 75 more appropriately. Though I was determined to win my rematch with the guy, I still lost. But I can honestly say that he deserves the win. Heck, he constructed a decent deck to deal with the metagame in that tournament.

This is not to say that you should befriend your opponents just to squeeze intel regarding their decks and strategies. Remember, winning in Magic: The Gathering is NOT everything and to reiterate, it’s a game where you can meet new friends. Having friends who can tell you what you’re doing wrong in games and giving you advice on how to improve your games and those who can support you is always an invaluable asset.  If you have friends who’re really good with the game then it’s even better. So the next time that you square off with an opponent, you may want to consider engaging your opponent in a friendly conversation.

The only exception to this would be opponents who don’t seem to appear to be in the mood to talk about their decks, especially after losing against you. Learn to discern and learn to find the right opportunity.

To sum it all up:

Sideboarding: Practice, practice, practice and experiment until you get the best configuration. Familiarize yourself with how your deck interacts with your opponent’s deck and identify the cards that are not performing and replace them with the cards that you think would help you gain a leverage against the opponent’s deck. Don’t put in too much sideboard since it may dilute your deck and ruin your deck’s plan and consistency.

Don’t Think Too Much: Don’t pressure yourself into winning and not losing. Just focus and improve your technical plays. Winning will eventually follow.

Build Rapport: Learn to engage your opponents into a friendly conversation. Learn from them. Don’t be embarrassed or shy to ask anything that you want to find out about their decks. Gauge your opponent if he’s one who’s nice enough to share his ideas or deck strategies. Be fair and learn to share information as well.

Thanks for reading!

@ravenknives at Twitter

Raven Knives

Far Away

A cool breeze blows upon your face
While you look at the sunset
Reminiscing of joyful memories
Now buried in the past

Your heart sadly longs for them
But alas it can no longer be
You turn away from the setting sun
To return to the city you scorn

You walk back the same path
That you have been through countless times
The path that does not glitter
The road that you’ve stumbled countless times

Then for a moment, the sky seems to shine
An aurora covers the land where you stand
Is this what is called hope you thought?
Your heart seems to flutter at the feeling

The road that you walk on now glitters
As if it never looked bleak
Taking this chance you ran towards the path
The path that is now slowly crumbling

Alas, the bridge at the far end of the road
has already fallen to the abyss
Taking a deep breath, you made leapt of faith
The stars then began to fall on the world

When you opened your eyes again
You found yourself lying on soft white sheets
Looking outside the window of the isolated room
Rainbow flowers filled the land beyond
With the dream now far away

Before there was Theros….

It’s been 15 years since I started playing Magic: The Gathering and I can still vividly remember some of the first few cards that I saw like Flare, Essence Flare, Imposing Visage, and many more.

Before there was Theros....

Magic: The Gathering was fairly new at that time and there were only a few shops that sell the trading card game and even more few are the tournaments. The game was first introduced to me by a cousin of mine and one of the first questions I asked him in response to choosing what colors to play was;

What color handles defense and counters against opponents’ spells?

And that was how I came to play a mono blue deck. As months went by, my addiction to the game grew and I would always keep a portion of my allowance for Magic: The Gathering expenses. My cousins and I would always play the game every day and during the evening. I also saved up money just so I can buy the Inquest gaming magazine monthly where I learned a lot about strategy and the latest tech at that time. It was also from that magazine that I got inspired to construct my blue white millstone deck:

Blue-White Millstone Deck

61 cards

Lands: 18

4 Adarkar Wastes

6 island

1 Kjeldoran Outpost

6 Plains

1 Soldevi Excavation

Spells: 43

4 Arcane Denial

1 Balance

3 Browse

4 Counterspells

2 Disenchant

1 Feldon’s Cane

4 Force of Will

2 Gerard’s Wisdom

1 Grindstone

1 Helm of Obedience

4 Impulse

1 Island Sanctuary

2 Marble Diamond

2 Millstone

2 Sky Diamond

4 Swords to Plowshares

4 Wrath of God

1 Zuran Orb

Looking at the number of lands that my blue white millstone deck had back then, I can say that it is blasphemous if not atrocious. These days, blue white control decks tend to have 26 lands as the bare minimum if they want to get their lands on the battlefield consistently and for them to be able to cast all their spells. In fact, there are times that they even go as far as 27 lands! One of my favorite combinations at that time was these cards:

Before there was Theros....

Having both of these cards in play, and supported by ample lands made it impossible for aggressive opponents to deal damage to me. This gives me time to set up my defenses and the deck pieces needed to win the game. Another deadly combination that I enjoy putting my opponents through back then were these cards:

Before there was Theros....

Having these two cards in play ensures victory, provided that I have my artifact mana sources to to help me play my spells. Basically, the main idea is casting Balance and then sacrificing all my lands to the Zuran Orb which gains me tons of life. Once Balance resolves, it will check who has the least number of lands which would be me at that time and then each other player will have to sacrifice enough lands to make it equal to mine.

If I am feeling sadistic, I tend to cast all the spells in my hand and using my counters to counter my own spells just so I can have my opponent discard enough cards to make him or her helpless. Yeah, those were the days that I tend to just play around with my opponents once I was in control of the board state. Of course, nowadays, playing around does not only insult the opponent but it can also cost you the game if you’re careless so I no longer do such a thing.

At that time, my cousins had difficulty beating my deck. Looking for another deck to play in addition to my blue white deck, I also made a red deck:

Red Aggro Deck

Main Deck: 60

Lands: 20

20 Mountains

Creatures: 14

1 Goblin Baloon Brigade

1 Goblins of the Flarg

1 Goblin Recruiter

1 Goblin Soothsayer

1 Goblin Tinkerer

1 Goblin Vandal

1 Gorilla Shaman

4 Mogg Fanatic

1 Mogg Raider

1 Mon’s Goblin Raiders

1 Raging Goblin

Spells: 26

2 Final Fortune

4 Fireblast

4 Goblin Grenade

4 Guerrila Tactics

4 Incinerate

4 Kindle

4 Lightning Bolt

Before there was Theros....

This is the deck that could easily beat the blue white millstone deck that I made and is often borrowed by a cousin of mine who doesn’t have a deck of his own but someone whom we taught how to play magic. This deck is perhaps the most straight-forward deck that I made. The main idea is to play a creature on each turn and then just use the various burn spells that I have in my hand and that I draw, hoping to kill the opponent before he even have time to set up his offensive.

Another deck that I constructed that I enjoyed playing was a Green Red Aggro deck:

Red Green Aggro

Lands: 18

10 Forest*

8 Mountains*

Creatures: 24

1 Eron the Relentless

4 Fyndhorn Elves

4 Llanowar Elves

4 Woolly Mammoth

4 Tinderwall

2 Varchild’s War-Riders

4 Whirling Dervish

1 Yavimaya Ants

Spells: 18

4 Blood List

1 Fireball

4 Giant Growth

4 Lightning Bolt

4 Incinerate

1 Savage Twister

Before there was Theros....

This was a fun deck to play and sadly, I am no longer sure of some of the numbers of the cards in the main board. I was also utilizing snow-covered lands at that time so I can trigger the trample ability of my Woolly Mammoths. Like the red deck, this is another straight-forward deck that aims to continuously attack the opponent using your mana dorks and then pumping them with your pump spells to deal massive damage. If there were blockers, you just get rid of them using your burn spells. If your creatures aren’t enough to finish off the opponent, then there’s Savage Twister and the miser Fireball to finish everything.

Another memorable deck that I constructed at that time was a black white aggressive deck which looks something like this:

Black White Aggro

Main Deck:  79

Lands: 20

10 Plains

10 Swamps

Creatures: 32

4 Black Knight

2 Blinking Spirit

2 Fallen Angel

4 Femeref Knight

2 Knight of Stromgald

1 Ivory Gargoyle

1 Ornithopter

2 Order of Ebon hand

2 Order of Leitbur

2 Order of the White Shield

4 Serra Angel

2 Sengir Vampire

1 Spirit of the Night

4 White Knight

Spells: 17

1 Angelic Renewal

4 Disenchant

4 Dark Banishing

4 Drain Life

4 Terror

Before there was Theros....

Yes, you read that right. This deck in particular has seventy plus cards and that is because I didn’t have any idea how best to make a deck. At that time I was starting to play magic, I just ask people what cards where good to play and then jammed them all in one deck. The good thing though is that this deck wins a lot as well since it has like 16 spot removals to deal with pesky creatures and enchantments. The only deck I remember I lost to was the Manabarbs deck which the opponent didn’t seem to correctly understood how it functioned, looking back at it now. Imagine, I am taking damage from the barbs and then he wasn’t. But oh well, that was how magic was a long time back.

But perhaps one of my favorite decks at that time that I constructed was the Blue Green Malignant Growth Deck though I am no longer that certain about some of the numbers of the cards here since it’s been so long since I made that deck, particularly the land count.

 Malignant Growth Lock

Creatures: 16

4 Ernham Djinn

4 Fyndhorn Elves

4 Llanowar Elves

4 Wall of Roots

Spells: 42

4 Arcane Denial

1 Black Vice

3 Browse

4 Counterspell

2 Fellwar Stone

4 Force of Will

2 Icy Manipulator

4 Malignant Growth

2 Moss Diamond

4 Mystical Tutor

2 Shimmer

2 Sol Grail

4 Stormseeker

2 Sky Diamond

2 Winter Orb

 Before there was Theros....

The strategy of this deck was simple, ramp as much as you can and then play mana artifacts and creatures then plopped down a Malignant Growth. Just continuously pay for the cumulative upkeep and then throw occasional Storm Seekers that will eventually kill the opponent. There’s also the Shimmers and the Winter Orb Icy Manipulator combo to lock the opponent’s mana supply while the Malignant Growth slowly kills him.

But after being able to complete my Millstone Deck, I decided to stop buying and quit. I still played but I no longer buy cards since I really didn’t have any more reason to buy new deck pieces, especially I wasn’t playing competitively at that time

It took 10 years or so before I decided to get back in the game and this was thanks to a friend of mine who was actively playing at that time. It’s funny though that he already stopped playing the game and I am the one who’s going competitive. Right now, I just want to play competitively and hopefully, I am able to attain my objective of being one of the best players there is if not the best. I know the dream looks big but then again, I am patient in attaining this goal. This is perhaps the first time I made a goal for myself that I want to achieve real bad.

Well, that’s it for today. I just thought to share the history behind me learning how to play Magic: The Gathering and the different decks that I used to play a long time back.

Thanks for reading,

@ravenknives at Twitter

Raven Knives

image credit: gatherer.wizards.com, wizards.com/magic

Before there was Theros....

Song of Fickle Love

I saw your faint visage in my dream
With that charming smile of yours
Those eyes that reflect my longing eyes
An image torn from heaven’s mural

Looking at your comely face
Nostalgia fills my dull heart
Relieving dead moments in my deceitful mind
I want to hold you again like before

I mutter a silent prayer
That only nameless gods could hear
To grant me another moment
To see your smile and feel your warmth

Do those suple lips
Even speak my name?
Nor remember those few moments
That they touched mine?

The clock’s hands continue to move forward
And your image will remain but an illusion to my weary eyes
For you have flown away with feathered wings
Leaving me with this song of fickle love

A Maddening Music

Listening to this maddening music
I watched the doves fly towards the cerulean sky
What will they find across the endless sky I wonder?
These corroded chains that bind my heart
Will it be set free to love what has been lost in time?

The faces I see around me are blank
But why does the face in the mirror smile at me?
Its eyes are filled with malice and yet tears flow down from it
The music continues to play, it’s lyrics echo in my mind
Will it be remembered forever by this aching heart?

The sun is almost setting in the horizon
And the doves that flew away can no longer be seen
I watch the world’s reflection on the silent and lonely sea
Will this silent prayer reach the heavens?
Will the hope buried in time resurface for it to be claimed?

Listening to this maddening music
I watched the doves fly towards the crimson skies
The horizon continues to entice those doves
My heart remains chained by the unforgiving past
A lost soul that will forever wander throughout the end of time

Shiki: Come Into My Arms, “The Darkness Over There Is Bitter”

Last Wednesday (or was it Thursday?), I got ill as I mentioned in my previous entry. And as much as I wanted to be productive that day, my condition was keeping me from focusing so I eventually gave up and just thought of doing some random stuff online to keep myself entertained for the meantime. I tried streaming a couple of anime at Otakustreamers.com but one particular series got my attention: Shiki. The premise of the story starts in a fictional small village in Japan called Sotoba that is located in the countryside. A series of mysterious deaths is overwhelming the village and the only doctor in the Village, Toshio Ozaki, suspects the cause to be an epidemic. At the same time, a strange family moves in the abandoned Kanemasa mansion located far away from the village, atop a cliff surrounded by the wilderness. Meanwhile, Yuuki Natsuno, a fifteen year old boy who originally came from the city and studies in the only school in Sotoba, suddenly finds him involved in these mysterious deaths. As the series progress, they eventually discover the terrible truth behind these deaths.

Shiki: Come Into My Arms, “The Darkness Over There Is Bitter”

As much as I want to give the reason why I am impressed with this anime, I am unable to effectively do so without spoiling a number of things in the story. But the most I can say is that the characters here are portrayed very well. The storytelling is great, and the scenarios are realistic and logical that you do not need to suspend disbelief most of the time. If you have watched the anime Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni (When They Cry) and enjoyed it then you will definitely enjoy watching this series. Furthermore, the adaptation of a particular creature in this anime is so far one of the best I’ve seen so far especially these days that a lot of authors are overextending their creativity. Again, I apologize if I am unable to reveal much of what’s happening in the series but overall, this is a good watch. Now, if I am already able to pique your curiosity then you might as well watch this anime series and see it for yourself.

Shiki: Come Into My Arms, “The Darkness Over There Is Bitter”

“Would you like to have some tea with her? Alone?”

image credits:

anime-manga-corner.blogspot.com

colorfulniji.blogspot.com

The Week That Was…Once Again…

It has been quite some time since Liz and I last watched anime. For the past few weeks we’ve been watching Meitantei Conan, or more popularly known locally as Detective Conan. But since we got busy with a lot of important tasks, we had to cut on the anime marathons. Not to mention the fact that we got a lot of pending activities that needs to be given attention such as competing in Magic: The Gathering tournaments and watching movies. It’s been so long since we last played in an actual tournament together and I really miss playing in tourneys. Sadly, I haven’t been able to construct a tourney competitive deck since Liz and I are mainly focused on completing her deck.

The good news is that her deck’s latest iteration is almost complete except for a few deck pieces which we’ll probably try to obtain before this week ends. In this way, Liz would be able to start playing again while I, on the other hand, would probably have to settle with the cards that I have at home. Plus, some printed proxies to create a gauntlet for play testing purposes.

The Week That Was...Once Again...

“My deck needs someone like her. “

In fact I am still deciding on what to play. I am considering playing either Midrange Jund or URW Flash/Tempo or whatever they call it. Jund because most of the deck pieces I have at home are available except for three Liliana of the Veil and my own playset of Stomping Grounds. Furthermore, I used to play a Jund deck during Alara Block going Zendikar. Though today’s Jund is non-comparable to the original Jund or to the Modern format’s Jund, Midrange Jund is something I find interesting and fun to play.

The Week That Was...Once Again...

“Alara block Jund core pieces”

On the other hand, the reason I wanted to play URW (Blue, Red, and White) Flash is because well, I am a blue mage after all. But other than that, I like URW because I think it will suit my playing style. It may not be comparable to the UW (Blue White) Delver I recently played pre-rotation but it still has some of the things that I love in a UW deck such as Restoration Angel, Snapcaster Mages and a couple of permission spells. There’s also the tide-turning Sphinx’s Revelation as well as the combat savvy Boros Reckoner. Though I haven’t tried playing that kind of deck as compared to Midrange Jund, I am pretty sure I’ll enjoy playing URW Flash. But right now, I don’t think I have the luxury to focus on completing my deck.

The Week That Was...Once Again...

“URW Flash”

Setting aside MTG, I actually got ill around Wednesday last week probably due to the sudden change of weather, plus the stress of having to deal with a number of things at home. I’ve been sleeping late these days but the good thing though is that I still get up around noon. I am still thankful that I am still able to keep my sleeping pattern “decent”. Sadly, during the time that I was sick, I wasn’t able to work on any articles or give feedback to any of the writers in the Writers’ Guild in Otakustreamers.com, a group that I, along with another member established for those who aim to become a good writer. In fact, I got so many things on my plate these days that I haven’t submitted at least the first chapter of the story that a good friend of mine and I thought of, even though we already know what to put in the first ten chapters as well as the main outline of the plot.

The Week That Was...Once Again...

“The Writers’ Guild is a group that aims to help aspiring writers with all kinds of problems every writer faces.”

Just thinking about the things which needs to be done gets me anxious and stressed. But I am hoping to accomplish them at least this March. Since I was too lethargic to even do anything productive last week, thanks to me being sick, I decided to just stream some random anime. I remembered that I haven’t watched the final episode of Macross Frontier because the copy that we have at home at that time didn’t have a functioning last episode. After I was done with the last episode, I decided to check another one: Durarara. The premise of the story starts with a young boy, Mikado Ryugamine who desires to have an exciting life. He moved to Ikebukuro, being invited by his childhood friend Masaomi Kida to attend the same school that he attends. Here, the main protagonist encounters a local legend “Black Rider”, someone who rides his motorbike like it was a horse and has rumors of having no head.

The Week That Was...Once Again...

“Durarara!!!”

I tried watching at least three episodes while checking another anime at the same time entitled Shiki. However, in the end, Shiki won out and I closed the already loaded episode three of Durarara and just watched Shiki moving forward. And I can say that Shiki is one of the best horror, occult and mystery anime that I was able to watch. I’ll probably be writing a review of the said anime sometime soon. But for the meantime, I’ll leave it with the above impression. As of the moment, I am feeling much better and have accomplished the online tasks which I was assigned to do. Though the previous week almost massacred me in a number of ways, this week so far is proving better. I just hope that things will become better than worse in the following days to come.

The Week That Was...Once Again...

“Shiki”

image credit:

otakustreamers
colorfulniji.blogspot.com
gatherer.wizards.com

A Memorable Party for the Otaku in Me

It was around 9:00 in the morning when me and Liz got up and we knew that we won’t make it in time since the meeting time was around 11am to 12pm in Mall of Asia. Unfortunately, we’ve been so busy with a lot of our personal and professional affairs the week before that we didn’t have the opportunity to prepare that much for the Otakustreamers.com Christmas Party which was scheduled on December 16, 2012.

A Memorable Party for the Otaku in Me

So what we did is that we compressed those activities past midnight of December 15th, which was already technically the 16th. It took us like a couple of hours shopping for gifts and when we got home, we also took the opportunity to schedule a massage session in Sparenity, which was a recently-established massage parlor here where I live. I think it was around 2:30 when or so when we finished? Or was it 3:00? Anyway, when everything was said and done, we had some midnight Lucky Me pancit canton meal which we occasionally do.

A Memorable Party for the Otaku in Me

“A nice midnight snack. Go treat yourself. NOW.”

As Liz was busy wrapping up the gifts, I was preoccupied sorting out our Magic: The Gathering cards. It’s been two months or so since we last participated in a tournament and we plan on being active again hopefully this coming January. It was almost 6:00 in the morning when we finished with what we were doing and I was already worried if we’ll be able to get up as early as 8:00 though we doubt that.  Moving forward, the next morning,  we decided to stop over at SM San Lazaro to pick up some food for our share in the Christmas Party because apparently, PMG or Pinoy Masters Grill, which was suppose to be the establishment where we were planning to get our food was closed during Sundays. So instead, we were left with the option of getting twelve pieces of Red Ribbon’s buttered mamon which by the way is a favorite of mine. Right after getting the goodies we immediately took off and hailed a cab.

A Memorable Party for the Otaku in Me

“Yum Yum…”

We’re lucky that the cab was fast enough to get us to our destination, not to mention that there wasn’t much traffic, probably because it was a Sunday morning. While on our way, we decided to call Jeiru01 or May, who was one of the Otakustreamers.com Christmas Party organizers as well as an Otakustreamers.com moderator, to ask her if we can still make it or just go directly to CCP instead. The good news was that we can still make it because they are still waiting for some more people. The bad news was that there are already a couple of them there waiting and knowing that didn’t quite sit well with me. But it can’t be helped and I admit my shortcomings on this. Before arriving there, I decided to wear my Firmo sunglasses which me and Liz got as payment from one of our clients who ordered a product review of it. It was a bit sunny that morning and I thought that wearing it would complement my outfit which was a white polo shirt which has a bit of a long sleeves that can be folded up to the elbows. But then again, it was primarily to hide any physical signs on my face that I lacked sleep real bad.

A Memorable Party for the Otaku in Me

“No. Not this kind of glasses.”

It was almost noon when we got there and good thing that we didn’t have to look for the rendezvous point since the cab dropped us off somewhere near. It took a while before we got to meet the gang waiting just outside the Starbucks Coffee Shop located along Pacific Drive and Ocean Drive Mall of Asia first level inside the main mall.

A Memorable Party for the Otaku in Me

“Rendezvous Point: Starbucks at Mall of Asia”

When we entered the premises, we saw a moderate-size group of teens hanging out just outside the establishment and though we already had our suspicions that they may be the people we’re suppose to meet, I decided to text again. One of them, a petite young girl with fair complexion having bun-tied hair, wearing a light blue shirt with leopard patterned sleeves and collar complemented by a pair of jeans walked away from the group and took a peek outside the main entrance while checking her phone. Seeing this, my suspicions were confirmed and I decided to approach the girl “Jeiru?” I asked and when she turned to face me, I extended my hands for a polite handshake and went back to the group. I introduced my girlfriend Liz to her while she introduced the other moderator and organizer of the Christmas Party, Robin, though known in OtakuStreamers.com as Kobowo. We also got acquainted with Aila who was also another Christmas Party organizer and if I am not mistaken, she was the one who gave me and Liz our OS stickers. Though at the time this entry was finished, she said otherwise but sadly, I can’t remember who.

A Memorable Party for the Otaku in Me

“Yes. They seem to be plotting something sinister. And that’s their boss. The Blue one.”

Afterwards, I took this opportunity to excuse myself to go to the washroom so I could relieve and fix myself. At the same time, Zura, who was also another Otakustreamers.com member, contacted me through my mobile asking me if it was okay for him to give my number to Lance, another Otakustreamers.com member although at that time, I only knew him in his username which was Reivacks. I gave him the go signal and later on, Lance was calling me up but since I didn’t have any idea of where we will be specifically having our picnic in the Cultural Center of the Philippines or CCP, I had Robin talk to him instead. Had to admit that we had a bit of difficulty carrying our luggage since Liz had her DLSR with her, plus we’re carrying not just our gifts for the other OS members but as well as the gifts for the next Christmas party she will be attending that day. Not to mention the food contribution that we also have and our personal things. Though a female member named Menisa, was nice enough to offer assistance, we humbly refused it since it would be too much of a trouble for her. The good thing was that an Otakustreamers.com member, Untoldlegend, the tallest of the group, sorry, I forgot his real name, had his car with him and the ladies were offered the opportunity to ride with him. At the same time, he also offered to have our things, the gifts and the food contributions be placed on his car for the time being which everyone gladly obliged.

A Memorable Party for the Otaku in Me

“Yes, we’re carrying a lot. Well, maybe not as much as this.”

After Untoldlegend had left with the ladies, we, the guys, decided to ride the public transportation available in MOA which was en route to CCP. Not sure what time we got to the location. The place where the group has decided to hold the picnic is not actually within the CCP structure but rather, in the CCP open grounds which were located just across the street. It was a wide area place having many trees as well as cemented ground.

A Memorable Party for the Otaku in Me

“Yes.that’s me. The one the guys are holding,”

And in my opinion, it is one of those places where it’s good to have a picnic. However, dark clouds seem to gather above us and we’re having a feeling that it’s going to rain later on. They laid out a big black platform which I am unsure what is made of and put the foods and the gifts on it which we later dubbed as our “offering to the gods” of the woods which they played around with. We took a picture of another member, Dejavu, standing with both his hands extended away from him as if he was accepting the offerings in front of him.

A Memorable Party for the Otaku in Me

“The Offerings to the Woodland Deity”

Afterwards, Aila and Robin decided to start with the introductions. At first everyone was hesitant to go up first but later on, they introduced themselves by sharing how long have they been members in the forum, as well as their usernames and the color of their usernames and titles that they are known for, one by one and I admit, I wasn’t able to catch everything. Liz was actually surprised that a member by the username, Mlcdl or Lester, found her familiar and as one of the Otakustreamers.com donators or OS VIP.

A Memorable Party for the Otaku in Me

“Are you kidding me? This notebook says otherwise!”

After the introductions, Robin and Aila went ahead with starting the first game of the day which was the OS bingo game. The instructions were simple; we go and have the other members write their usernames on the space provided on the papers that we were given. Just imagine a piece of clean bond paper having eight boxes and an “X” mark at the center. Once we’re done, Aila drew out pieces of papers with the members name on it and then whoever got the names written on their papers, then they mark it. Once they get to fill out everything, they win the game. During these moments, Robin was busy giving Reivacks directions on how to get to us through my mobile so he wasn’t able to join us as far as I remember.

A Memorable Party for the Otaku in Me

“The victor of the bingo game is the girl at the center. Yeah. Her.”

And the funny thing was that Liz won the game so she gets the privilege of choosing one of the “offerings” to keep for her own. Two other members won next though I no longer remember who they were. Liz winning was very timely because it was already 2 in the afternoon at that time and she already needed to leave since she has another Christmas party to attend to in SM Megamall. Though this time, it’s their company’s Christmas party. Furthermore, it was also at that time that rain started to fall so the group had no choice but to pack up their things and find shelter. Not sure though if Lance was able to make it in the Bingo game or what but anyway, he did make it before the rain so he probably made it in the game. I immediately took out my umbrella and accompanied Liz in getting a cab. Afterwards, I followed the rest of the group to shelter ourselves from the rain under the waiting shed of a Max Fried Chicken restaurant before moving next to a Kentucky Fried Chicken establishment which was close by. Thanks to the downpour, we weren’t able to enjoy the foods that we brought along with us so we were forced to have lunch in KFC instead. Though it wasn’t much of a bad idea, it kinda spoiled the mood of the group in having a fun picnic.

A Memorable Party for the Otaku in Me

“The Gang.”

We stayed at KFC for the time being while we waited for the rain to halt while devouring the Creepy Crème, err, I mean, the Krispy Kreme donuts that the other members brought. At that time, we were joking around that whoever gets the colorful donut should be a clear indication that he is part of the Federation Army if you know what I mean.

A Memorable Party for the Otaku in Me

“So, who’s going to pick the multi-colored one?”

I think it was around three in the afternoon when the rain finally stopped or at least lessened. Sadly, Ishimaru Shun had to leave at that time and though he left early, as well as Liz, they were replaced by two new members who arrived, Debie and her younger sister, Kristine, Freykens and Petal respectively. We went out of the fast food chain and headed back to where we were supposed to stay before it rained. While on the way back, we took a peek at the bay area and looked at the nice view as well as the yachts anchored in the bay and the vast the body of water was from where we were standing. Looking at the vast horizon was a bit of a breath-taking moment for me.

A Memorable Party for the Otaku in Me

“..Yeah. Minus the sun. Thanks to the dark clouds. Sheesh.”

However, it started to pour again and seeing that the two new comers, Freykens and Petal don’t have anything to cover themselves with, I lent them my umbrella instead and I decided to use my black jacket to keep myself from getting wet. The good thing was that the Max restaurant was not far away from where we are so we decided to take shelter there again. This time, Aila and Robin were already considering of postponing the event and rescheduling it to some other date because of the unfavorable weather. Though everyone agreed to have it rescheduled, the good thing was that the time we took discussing it was enough time for the down pour to stop and this time, it seems that the rain has finally stopped for good. Before going on our way, I politely took my umbrella from the two ladies just to make sure that I’ll have something to use when the day ends, in case it rains again.

A Memorable Party for the Otaku in Me

“This commercial break is brought to you by….”

As soon as we got back to where we started, one of the members, Ninjen, bid farewell next. His school was requiring them to watch this certain play and as much as we wanted him to stay, he declined. I was even joking about taking his wallet before setting him off just so he wouldn’t go. Which reminds me, there was also another member, Pontil was his username, who was supposed to go home at that time but me and Aila convinced him to stay up until five o’clock? Or so we said. Anyway, that will be for later. Going back, ah, there, Aila and Robin started to organize the second game of the day which was locally called Dr.quack quack or the Duck game. The premise of the game is that a group of people would form a circle and hold hands together and try to entwine themselves in whatever way they can. At the same time, while they are doing this, a second group of individuals will have to turn their back so they wouldn’t see how it was done and once the first group is done entwining themselves; the second group would have to disassemble the first group.

A Memorable Party for the Otaku in Me

“So, where’s the duck in this game?”

Everyone enjoyed playing the game and once we were done with it, we took a short break while the organizers were thinking of what to do next. At that time, I was wondering where the nearest washroom could be so I had to ask Robin where it was. He instructed me that there is a building at the far eastern side end of the road from where we were and to go straight inside until I see a stage and to make a left turn where there was a signboard with the words “Ginoo” or “Gents”. So I went there and he was right. There was a building called “Bantayog ng Panginoon” or The Statue of the Lord is what Google translate gave as a translation though it kind of seems off since it was a structure and not a statue. Nevertheless, when I got back, they were already discussing about a skit that we are suppose to do at that time. Leonx2, or Lester was assigned by Rob and Aila, to be the one to choreograph the dance number for team two which consists of me, Bloody Envy or Teren, Freykens, Menisa, Dejavu, Jason, and err, I forgot the rest. Gomen nasai. On the other hand, the second group which was led by Aila, was assigned to choreograph the Pokemon theme. Their team called Team Mang, consists of Meagan or Vectorplate, Untoldlegend, Mlcdl or Lester, Kurtherror, Pontil, Petal and three more that I am not that familiar with.

Apparently, our team called Teamba, was well, so “motivated” if I may say so, to perform the whole dance steps that’s why we ended up dancing only up to one minute or so while the other team was able to complete their performance. Afterwards, I thought of needing to fix myself so I decided to go back to the “Bantayog” and at the same time, some of the other members were also asking where they can relieve themselves so I had them come with me to where I was headed. Once we got there, we we’re joking about the place and after getting back, we were like asking them if they were interested to go to the “Bantayog ng Panginoon” and the rest were just raising their eyebrows looking dumbfounded at what we were talking about. At the strike of five in the afternoon, Pontil went home next since that was the initial agreement with Aila although we were tempted to try to convince him to stay for a few more hours.

It was already evening at that time and it didn’t take long before Leonx2 or Lester introduced a new game which they didn’t reveal until the actual game. At first they were looking for volunteers who would gladly demonstrate how the game was played at the same time asking the questions; Girl to girl, Boy to Girl or Boy to Boy. However, no one was willing to stand up thinking that it may be some evil ploy of some sort. Then I saw them, him and Moderator Robin holding this box of Pocky and for a moment, I had an idea of what the game was all about plus based on their question and I can’t help myself laugh at the thought. A few moments later, a few members volunteered and the game was then demonstrated. The premise of the game is that two people, in this case, two guys would put the same Pocky cracker inside their mouth, one guy for each end. If you don’t have an idea what a Pocky is, then think of Pretzels. Then imagine that one end is bitten by another person the same as with the opposite end and they have to gradually eat through it so basically, if they’re not fast enough or careful enough, then yes, that is correct Watson, they will end up kissing each other. Yes. Boys will end up kissing each other. It is basically a Yaoi-kind of game and just Google the term Yaoi if you’re not familiar with it. And no, don’t ask me why they thought of doing such things. I don’t have any idea as well.

A Memorable Party for the Otaku in Me

“Pocky = Yaoi”

Until eventually I decided to volunteer to join in the fun with me and Moderator Rob being the contestants for this devious game. Long story short, I am not sure what happened but somehow, I think I kinda pulled back just in time before our lips touched. Anyway, I ended up getting a Pocky as prize, probably for my active participation and from then on, some of the other members have become more motivated. Not sure why but maybe because of the prize. I mean, hey, if you see the organizers holding a plastic filled with boxes of Pockys wouldn’t you think twice of playing a game or two? Especially if you’re likely getting one box for FREE and you just have to be well, courageous in participating right? Of course, unpleasant accidents happen but it’s not like you lost your virginity right? Well, maybe your lips’ virginity but otherwise, you still have your dignity intact. Haha.

A Memorable Party for the Otaku in Me

“This shampoo commercial is brought to you by,…”

After a few moments, we rallied the guys to try to convince the girls to do a Yuri in turn, basically, participate in the same game but this time, it would only be girls to girls. And we got our eyes on Aila and I think it was Meagan? Anyway, she was refusing to join in the fun and we were all like telling her that she was a kill joy and so on. Then Aila asked us guys to do it first and I took a Pocky stick out of the box that leon2 was holding and told her that if I did it, she should be sure to do it after. Sadly, she refused and the guys and I let out our sigh of disappointment. It could have been interesting. So much for our anticipation though.

A Memorable Party for the Otaku in Me

“Not happening.”

We were supposed to play some Cops and Robbers game but sadly, they didn’t push through since the group was already exhausted and hungry. Shucks. I missed playing that game! So, we decided to have some much needed nourishment. Pizzas, Pancit Palabok and some what was it again, I forgot what’s that food called oh, puto and some orange juice for the evening. And since we’re already having our evening meal it’s unlikely that we’ll be going for any more games. We spent the remaining time together by chatting about anything under the sun, or in this case, under the moon except that the moon’s not visible at that time due to the thick clouds in the sky. Before long, we cleaned up and had our exchange gift. I got a power card load from Aila which I am thankful for and I appreciate since it can come to good use if in case I find myself in Timezone one of these days. Liz on the other hand got her share as well from Jason. She got a neat small bag and a white cap.

A Memorable Party for the Otaku in Me

“I now have the power!!!”

When we were done exchanging gifts, people decided that it was time to end the evening so everyone went to Untoldlegend’s car to get their personal stuff. However, they didn’t want to end the day without taking some nice group pictures and since the lighting was not that favorable in where we were, we decided to cross the street and get our pictures taken in a brighter area. Sadly, the light was still insufficient so the photos we had were not that clear and unfortunately, there were no other closer place for us to go to anymore to take better pictures. After bidding farewell to Robin and May and the others who decided to head back to Mall of Asia, me, along with Aila, Lance or Reivacks, Freykens, Petal, Bloody Envy, and the rest of the gang took a ride heading back to Vito Cruz LRT station. Once we got there, the group split up into two; those taking the LRT but are headed to Edsa and the next group consisting of me, Aila, Freykens, Petal, Mlcdl, and Bloody Envy, heading the opposite way with Mlcdl being the first to drop off, followed by Aila and Teren then me. Freykens and her sister Petal, on the other hand are the last since their drop off was still at Roosevelt, which was the last station on the other side of the LRT terminal.

I already got home around eight in the evening or so if I am not mistaken and since I was no longer feeling that well, thanks to my bad colds, exhaustion and lack of sleep during the last few days, I decided to take some medicine right away and sleep for the day. But overall, it was still a fun and memorable experience. It has been a while since I had that much fun especially that I’ve been preoccupied with a lot of things during the last few months. It’s just unfortunate that Liz was unable to stay longer. I am sure she’d also enjoy it as much as I did, not to mention the games and the food. Its 1:29 in the morning right now as I wrap up this entry and I am just listening to some classic Uchuu Keiji music and it’s a bit cold due to the rain. After this, I’ll be having my dinner and yes, you read that right. Thanks to my US-time zone sleeping pattern, I usually have my dinner around this time or a bit earlier. Well, I think that’s all for this entry. I’ll be getting back with more entries in a day or two about how my year went. Well, hopefully, I can get it finished before the year ends. For the meantime, have a nice day!

A Memorable Party for the Otaku in Me

“Till next time…”

image credits:

Lizzie Dee
Jason Guillermo
Kristine Orcine Juan
www.waymarking.com
123.rf.com – alarm clock
afodltd.com – lucky me
simplyannes.blogspot.com
collider.com
guardian.co.uk
wptv.com
traveltothephilippines.info
sodahead.com
pinoydaysleeper.multiply.com

 

Pinoy Experience In Pinoy Masters Grill

I arrived at Vito Cruz, Taft Avenue‘round five o’clock in the afternoon and went about asking a random vendor where Pinoy Grill was located. I was really surprised when they told me that it was located on the second floor of the D’students Place in front of De Lasalle University in Taft Avenue, pointing the sign board of Pinoy Masters Grill hanging just above the building. The reason was that I am very much familiar with the place because I occasionally go to D’Students Place, particularly at Ongkeko’s Hobby Shop which was located on the same floor. OHS is a place where I sometimes go to just to play Magic: The Gathering.

Moving forward, I went upstairs and looked for it and found the place. I found it just a few steps away from the hobby shop. Just walk straight along the hallway and you will find it just before the internet café at the far end of the hall. At first, I was surprised to see that there were not much guests-bloggers-in the place except for the regular customers. And for a moment, it made me think if I am at the wrong branch. Never the less, I decided to go to hang out at OHS while waiting for Liz and her friend Rhona, who are both bloggers, arrive. The truth is that they were really the ones invited. I just happen to have my girlfriend’s camera at home so I ended up being the errand boy for her as well as a last minute addition.

It was around six or so when I decided to check out the place again to see if there are other bloggers at the place but I saw none. I was about to go back to OHS when this lady who was sitting in one of the tables just outside the establishment asked me if I was looking for someone. I explained my situation and discovered that she was the one representing the contact person of Liz and Rhona. She explained that they were only expecting three bloggers to arrive as advised by their boss, Omar. And I was like “Three bloggers?” I had the impression that there were others coming or like there’s a party that’ll take place but apparently, the big event is scheduled to take place sometime late October, after the Pinoy Masters Grill Lagro branch officially opens. The lady introduced herself as Lisa and invited me to go inside. Though I initially humbly refused to go in since Liz and Rhona have not yet arrived, I eventually concur and went in.

The place was comfy and was ventilated by wall fans as well as one air-conditioning unit which I appreciate since I easily get cold. It has enough space to accommodate around twenty customers or so. You can see the staff diligently attending to the other customers needs and in fact, they take the initiative to re-fill the iced tea drinks of the customers as well as serving them with extra rice. And I can say that they also make it a point that every table is clean and the condiments are in place. The walls have a soft color theme of blue and yellow stripes. They even have a motivational board set up on one side of the dining place. Furthermore, they already have decorations set up in the establishment in preparation for the coming Halloween season.

Pinoy Experience In Pinoy Masters Grill

A few minutes later, Lisa introduced me to her partner, Mel who eventually sat and entertained me while I waited for my girlfriend and her friend. She also had instructed the staff to prepare our meal while we waited for them. For the time being, the staff offered me some iced tea and soup. The truth was that the atmosphere reminded me of Mang Inasal since they also serve the customers with soup minus the iced tea. I took a sip of the soup and found it delicious. Compared to the soup that you get from Mang Inasal, it was not that sour. Not that I didn’t like how the soup in Mang Inasal was made. Both have their own merits.

Mel further explained that Pinoy Masters Grill used to have a branch in Sangandaan which was near where I currently live but management decided to close it down in favor of opening the one in Lagro. She also asked my contact details so she could get in touch with me and invite me for the grand opening of the Lagro Branch. Mel added that they intend to give their customers a more pinoy feel but referring to their customers as “kuya/ate” as oppose to the traditional “sir/mam”.  It was around seven (or so) when Liz and her friend, Rhona, arrived and after a few moments, dinner was served. We had inasal chicken legs and I decided to eat so I can enjoy the meal while it’s hot. I poured some chicken sauce on my rice which I also normally do when I am dining in Mang Inasal.

 Pinoy Experience In Pinoy Masters Grill

One of the owners, Mike Tan eventually arrived and greeted us with a warm welcome. What’s funny and admiring is that he didn’t beat around the bush and asked us straight away if we’re thinking that their place is similar to Mang Inasal. The reason behind that was because he used to work for them a long time back. That explains why the set up was familiar but then again, he proudly boasts that they have a better chicken than Mang Inasal due to the quality of their chicken. He explains that their chicken does not have much oil as compared to their competitor which can make you feel a bit sick for eating too much of the same food. I personally attested to that.

Pinoy Experience In Pinoy Masters Grill

I  added that I tend to experience that feeling after dining in the aforementioned fast food. Which was one reason I was not that fond of eating there however, Liz and I are different when it comes to that since Liz still enjoys eating there. Furthermore, he’s also proud to say that their liempo does not have much oil when you eat it, which is actually true after trying the liempo served on the table.

 Pinoy Experience In Pinoy Masters Grill

He even shared that their staff occasionally buys their own chicken meal because they like its taste. Another thing Mike was proud of is that their chicken would still taste good even if it has been a few hours that passed before you ate it. I forgot how it came to be that he gave us his own mixture of saging con yelo which I initially refused telling him that I don’t really eat any similar food. But then again, he insisted and gave me, Liz and Rhona his sample. He also shares that he really wanted to have a talk with us so he could dissolved any wrong ideas about his establishment that we may probably think of and how he regularly checks his staff’s performance. He later pointed at the table located at the far end of the establishment where a couple of plastic containers were placed. Mike proudly exclaims that he does not mind his customers seeing the prepared chicken in his establishments because he is confident that the food he prepares for his customer is clean unlike other establishments out there which you do not even have an idea of how they are being prepared or delivered. He also mentioned that his customers can also attest to the quality of their food which he is also proud of.

After a few moments, our Saging Con Yelo arrived and we tasted it. He advised that it would taste better if we mixed it well which I did. Though I don’t have the means to make any comparison since it was the first time I really made an effort in eating such a dessert, I can honestly say that it tastes good. Moreover, you will eventually appreciate the taste of milk in it once you are half-way in eating it.

 Pinoy Experience In Pinoy Masters Grill

Unfortunately, I was unable to finish it because I later felt cold. I did mention that I easily experience being cold. Seeing as I was cold, they had one of the fans turned off which I appreciate. Mike shared a lot of interesting stories about his previous experiences while I on the other hand kept asking for more soup which I often do. In between the conversations, I occasionally point out my observations such as them using only natural ingredients in terms of cooking their soup since the soup’s color shows it as well as its taste. And that I did notice that their chicken did not get me to feel sick of it or anything nor did it have too much oil in it. I mentioned that I cook at home and was familiar with the taste of Sinigang especially if there were any artificial flavoring added to it. However, as much as we wanted to stay and talk more, Liz and Rhona still had a shift later that evening. Before we left, Mike had me take home my left-over meal since I was not able to finish it which Liz and I attested as something that is normal of me. He tells me that I should try eating it when I get home and tell him if it still tastes the same and or if it has become bad. I explained that I am more of a rice person and I often get full before I am even able to finish off my chicken. And this applies to any establishment where I order chicken as a meal.

We bid farewell to Mike, Lisa and Mel and I accompanied my girlfriend, Liz and Rhona to get a cab since it was already 9:34 when we left. They’re hoping that they can make it just in time for their ten o’clock shift. As soon as they were able to get a cab, I went on my way. Overall, I’d say that it was a great experience. I remember telling Mike that the next time me and my girlfriend go to play in OHS, we’d go there to have dinner and I’ll have my Tinola which was my favorite. I can really say that they may be able to rival other similar establishments, not to mention the fact that they have more food options in their menu compared to their direct competitor. Of course, it would still take them quite a while before they are able to make it big but I sincerely wish Mike and his staff the best in doing so.

 Pinoy Experience In Pinoy Masters Grill

Return to Ravnica Pre-Release!

At last! The much awaited Return to Ravnica Pre-Release has arrived! And me and my girlfriend Liz are both excited to be playing today! I am pretty sure that the other players out there feel the same way as we do. However, that would have to wait because I had to attend my friend’s son’s birthday party which was held on the same day as well, at the SM San Lazaro branch. Luckily, the party was scheduled around 11 in the morning which gives me the opportunity to participate in the prerelease event at least later in the afternoon. Not to mention that the mall was just one jeepney ride away from where I live. I left Liz at home to attend the party first so she could get some more rest and tackle some online tasks before following.

Return to Ravnica Pre-Release!

“My friend and his kid with me”

And the thing was that I ended up staying at the party for longer than expected and me and Liz reached Eton around five o’clock in the afternoon. She was already feeling disappointed for me that we arrived there late and was getting the impression that we’d probably be playing the day after which was Sunday. I was not worried though. When we got there, we were relieved that there was still some Izzet guildpacks available for me to pick and that there was one more pod that I can join. The tournament organizer was just waiting for a couple of more players to arrive before starting the last pod.

Return to Ravnica Pre-Release!

Izzet Guildpack

Unfortunately, Neutral Grounds, which was just located within the same building and just a few steps away no longer have any Guild Packs for some of the players which also includes Liz. It means that Liz will no longer have the opportunity to get her own prerelease card, as well as the limited edition die that we initially wanted to get. And because of this, I had her refunded the whole payment. Liz was really disappointed since she really wanted to have her own Guild pack and play that day. And the thing was, Regran no longer have available slots that she can take for her to participate at their prerelease event. I consoled her and told her that she can just play during the launch party which will be held on October 5th. Though we won’t be able to get any guild pack at that time, we at least get a launch party foil card unlike if she joins the prerelease since she’s paying for just a regular prerelease entrance fee but without any freebies. I added that not getting a prerelease card seems not that worth the experience and the payment. Liz was already sulking when the tournament organizer in Regran offered his slot to Liz saying that he was already able to participate in a couple of pods. The news made Liz really happy and got her really excited. I was very thankful to the tournament organizer and within a couple of minutes, the pod where I was part of started. I got my Izzet Guildpack which was what I really wanted, along with the limited edition Izzet guild die.

Return to Ravnica Pre-Release!

“Prerelease Card for the Izzet Guild Members”

And I have to say this but I am really impressed with the packaging of the guild packs. Wizards of the Coast really did think this through and put everything in it. No wonder that Neutral Grounds no longer had stocks for the other participants. I’d say that me and Liz really got lucky this time.

Unfortunately, it’s kinda difficult to remember everything that took place in a pre-release match. Well, at least for me, I find it difficult to remember what happened on each turn of each match especially that I don’t have a notebook with me to record or take note of anything at all. However, I do remember scenarios where a certain card in my deck performed and that are what I will be sharing here instead.

To start with, here’s the deck that I constructed:

Return to Ravnica Sealed Deck: 4-0 Izzet Guild

Lands: 18

4 Island

2 Izzet Guildgate

2 Mountains

7 Plains

1 Rogue’s Passage

2 Tranquil Promenade

Creatures: 14

1 Azorius Arrester

1 Azorius Justiciar

1 Archon of the Triumvirate

1 Crosstown Courier

1 Hover Barrier

1 Hussar Patrol

1 Hypesonic Dragon

1 Keening Apparition

1 Lobber Crew

1 Mercurial Chemister

1 Precinct Captain

1 Seller of Songbirds

1 Soulsworn Spirit

1 Sunspire Griffin

Spells: 8

1 Azorius Keyrune

1 Downsize

1 Explosive Impact

1 Inaction Injunction

1 Izzet Keyrune

1 Paralyzing Grasp

1 Pursuit of Flight

1 Swift Justice

Sideboards:

1 Volatile Rig

1 Firemind’s Foresight

1 Grave Betrayal

1 Tavern Swindler

1 Blustersquall

1 Oak Street Innkeeper

1 Racecourse Fury

1 Sphere of Safety

1 Call of the Conclave

2  Teleportal

1 Rix Maadi Guildmage

1 Slitherhead

1 Rakdos Cackler

1 Cremate

1 Daggerdrome Imp

1 Mind Rot

1 Sewer Shambler

1 Ogre Jailbreaker

1 Perilous Shadow

1 Dispel

1 Mizzium Skin*

1 Chronic Flooding

1 Cancel

1 Inspiration

2 Void Wielder*

1 Isperia’s Skywatch

2 Gatecreeper Vine

1 Axebane Guardian

1 Chorus of Might

1 Rubbleback Rhino

2 Horncaller’s Chant

2 Bellows Lizard

1 Electrickery

1 Gorehouse Chanwalker

1 Viashino Raketeer

2 Cobblebrute

1 Battlehorn

1 Survey the Wreckage

2 Swift Justice

1 Trained Caracal

1 Azorius Arrester

1 Concordia Pegasus

1 Eyes in the Sky

1 Courser’s Accord

1 Risen Sanctuary

1 Chemister’s Trick

1 Essence Backlash*

1 Goblin Electromancer

1 Auger Spree

1 Spawn of Rix Maadi

1 Trestle Troll

1 Sluiceway Scorpion

1 Frostburn Weird

Now, let me discuss the creatures which performed in my deck starting with:

Azorius Justiciar: Azorius Justiciar on its own is not really impressive, not to mention that she is only a 2/2 creature for four mana. However, she’s great if you play her on a timely manner. My opponent on the first round lost the second game because of this card. She was part of my first seven hand and I held on to her until my opponent’s life was low enough for me to make a critical swing.

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“On second thought, being detained by this lady doesn’t sound bad afterall”

Archon of the Triumvirate: The only time that I was able to play this big fellow was on game 2 of the fourth round. My opponent was sporting an Azorius deck who had just wiped my board of a newly-casted Mercurial Chemister and Hussar Patrol with his Supreme Verdict. Fortunately for me, I had the Archon in my hand and as soon as he passed the turn, I didn’t think twice of playing it with one blue mana up for a Mizzium Skin which I was holding. At the end of my turn, he tried bouncing it back with Dramatic Rescue but I used the Mizzium to grant my Archon hexproof and my opponent tank for a second and eventually decided to use the other Dramatic Rescue to bounce my Archon. He was frustrated that he was forced to use two cards just to bounce my Archon which I just re-cast on my next turn.

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“On the other hand, I wouldn’t want to be detained by this one”

Hover Barrier: This is one of the good cards that I have in the deck. This card helped me keep off the initial onslaught especially that it has a toughness of 6 which is not that bad. Unfortunately, it is often killed by my opponents since it’s a hindrance.

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“Bumping into one of these things is no illusion”

Hussar Patrol: One of the cards that I am happy to draw. With its flash ability, it has helped me ambush unsuspecting creatures deployed by my opponent to the red zone. Not to mention the fact that it has a big rear *read: 4 toughness* and has vigilance.

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“Nor into these people”

Hypersonic Dragon: once I draw this card, it often leads to victory and the thing was that I often drew this card on most of my games which was a big help especially that it has evasion and has haste. There was even this one time wherein I had it in my initial 7 but wasn’t able to play it due to mana restrictions but my patience was rewarded and I was eventually able to play it for the win. But perhaps the most memorable time I played it was against my last opponent Remember the time when I played the Archon? Just a turn after, I drew this one so in no time, my opponent who was at twenty plus life was staring down on an attacking Archon and a Hypersonic Dragon along with a Precinct Captain dealing him a total of 11 damage. Unfortunately for him, he was no longer able to draw any answer on both of the cards and eventually extended his hand. Overall, I love this card in my games and is perhaps the most which has contributed a lot to my victories.

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“Liz got two of this in her deck. Scary.”

Seller of Songbirds: Not really that impressive but the 1/1 evasive token it generates is big especially when you are on the defensive. In fact, the token helped me won the first game against my Azorius opponent in the last round. He was at 6 life and I was holding an Explosive Impact and have a Hussar Patrol in play as well as a bird token. On his turn, he was able to draw an answer, though I forgot what that was but he was deciding between removing my Hussar and the bird. He initially chose to remove the bird and in fact I already had put it aside when he suddenly changed his mind and removed my flash patrol. Though I was showing a poker face at that time, inside, I was relieved and told myself that victory was mine. He passed the turn and I drew, didn’t really matter what that was but I attacked my bird token and he took the damage dropping him down to 5 which was enough for me to kill him with my Explosive Impact.

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“How much is that birdie in the window…”

Soulsworn Spirit: This was also a neat evasive creature. Not only does it detains a creature an opponent controls which keeps his hands off you, his evasive ability helps you race opponents. Most of the time, I cast him for the purpose of racing with the opponent. Though he often dies to spot removal, he already has dealt enough damage to the opponent.

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“You don’t want to get touched by those hands. Trust me.”

Below are the spells which have helped me win my games:

Azorius Keyrune: One of the best cards that you can draw in the early game as well as the late game. Not only is the artifact immune to mass removal as well as sorcery speed removals, but it is also an evasive creature on its own and can help you race with the opponent especially when the ground is in a stalemate. The keyrune also helped me ramp up to be able to cast my more expensive spells such as the Hussar Patrol, Explosive Impact and my bombs.

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“A 2/2 flyer for UW? Not bad I’d say.”

Explosive Impact: This is the second card which won me a lot of games. During the first game on the first round, my opponent slammed a Hover Barrier to keep my only creature from getting past the red zone. Since I already had it in my opening hand, I made sure to attack with my ground creature every turn even if my opponent would surely block the creature with his wall. I conditioned my opponent in blocking it without giving it much thought so when I already had six mana up, I blew up his damaged wall with an Explosive Impact. And the thing was that this scenario happened in both the first game and the second game. In addition to using it to win the first game against my opponent in the last round, I also used it to snatch victory from my previous opponents.

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“Gunflame!!”

Inaction Injunction: Not superbly impressive but it did help a lot in racing against opponents and the added card draw was invaluable.

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“I call this inaction inaction”

Izzet Keyrune: Though not that impressive as compared to its Azorius counterpart, it did help me net cards against my last opponent in one of our games. It was also thanks to Rogues Passage which made sure that the 2/1 Keyrune got in to help me filter my hand. Furthermore, it really helps smooth out the mana especially that I was playing a three-colored deck.

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“If this was unblockable, it would’ve been better.”

Paralyzing Grasp:  Is one of the best cards that you can have in your deck if you are playing blue. Though the funny thing was I wasn’t able to use much of this cards but whenever I draw it, I make sure to stop a big threat.

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“Stop! Don’t touch me there! No! Don’t! It tickles!”

Pursuit of Flight: This card helped me get my creatures past the red zone. In fact, this card won me the first game against my opponent on the third or was it second round? Anyway, he has ground creatures to block my offensive but I only needed one creature to get passed him to win the game and drawing it was timely.

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“Up up and awaaaaayy….*thump*”

Notable Sideboards:

Mizzium Skin: The most memorable performance it showed was the time when I was against the Azorius player in our last game of the final round. As mentioned above, it forced the opponent to use two of his Dramatic Rescue to bounce my Archon, leaving him with no other answer in hand.

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“Sticks and Stones will not break my bones”

Void Wielder: A neat card when you are trying to push through your creatures in the red zone. Though I rarely drew this card, the times that I am able to cast it helped me get more damage to the opponent which forces them to be on the defensive.

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“Ladies and Gentlemen, watch closely as I pull out a rabbit out of this…Hat”

Essence Backlash: The card that I sideboarded in the most. It countered my first opponent’s Chaos Imp on the second game, dealing a massive six damage. An opponent also fell victim to the backlash. It was when he decided to play his Chaos Imp a turn after he cast a Hellhole Flailer. He regret not playing the Imp a turn earlier which was when I was still tapped out. It also countered an opponent’s Carnival Hellsteed, dealing him a painful five damage not. I also used it to counter the Vassal Soul of my Azorius opponent. Even though it only dealt a measly 2 damage due to the low power of the creature, it did keep him from being able to block my aerial assault which helped me win the game. Overall, this is perhaps one of those cards that I am really happy using in my deck. Like the Hypersonic Dragon, this contributed a lot in those games that I won. You just have to be patient when playing this.

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“Ooh, that must’ve hurt…”

In all my games, I only lost once which was against the Rakdos player I suppose when he was able to overwhelm me with his creatures on the second game but then again, I still won that particular round.

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“Yes. That’s me. Yes. The one with the PINK sleeves. And NO. I am not gay.”

Overall, I am proud of my performance as well as the deck that I had constructed but then again, my victory was not only my own, I had help from one my good friends. Thanks Alfred Banaag! He was the one who suggested that I put in the Explosive Impact as well as to make it 18 Lands as opposed to my usual 17 lands at the time I was constructing my deck. If it weren’t for those suggestions, maybe I wouldn’t have won those entire match ups. But then again, I also owe my wins to myself. The battles fought were hard but at the end of the day, my efforts were rewarded.

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“Ore wa, Kachi desu!”

 

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