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Eternal Limited Report – 2 weeks of sealed and a great event finish

No article last week because I bought the new God of War game and…well, not much else got done. I managed to play most of my event games, but I didn’t have any time to write. Well, I did, but nothing could tear me away from God of War.

May Sealed – Week 1

I left off having decided on this build for the first week of competition:

Spoiler for uess how I did...

9-1 ; 13-7 in tiebreakers (22-8 overall)

This was the greediest of all of my potential builds, but certainly the most powerful by far. It had a fantastic curve, and the top-end was loaded with incredible value. There were still some fairly mediocre cards in a sealed format. Minotaur Oathkeeper isn’t that useful when your units are either 2/1s or huge. Soaring Guard was solid for triggering Valkyrie Ally, but that was about it. I didn’t even have any relic weapons for which he could get value. Ironclad Oath is an okay trick, and something that this deck actually needed, on account of its lack of removal. Still, having to leave up 4 power to play it on defense was a big risk. If my opponent didn’t walk into it, I felt real dumb. On the flipside, it was an excellent finisher in close games. And nobody expected the second one.

Crownwatch Longsword was also pretty mediocre. I usually like a few weapons in sealed, simply because your opponent won’t have many ways to blow you out. However, this deck did not have any issues punching through. I was more concerned with gumming up the ground until my bombs could take over, and Longsword is a risky play in that respect. Weapons are way less powerful on defense.

Skycrag Stranger was the unsung hero of the deck, the glue that held my ambitious powerbase together. Pteriax Hatchling proved itself worthy of the splash, and Crownwatch Quartermaster was as absurd as predicted. I played very conservative with him, running out just about every other threat into my opponent’s silences and removal, and I was rewarded handsomely when they ran out of gas and I gave my random 2/2 +4/+4 every turn until they died.

Refresh was also incredible. When Set 1 was the draft format and you saw a lot more Refreshes, it was easy to get flooded on them. Because it doesn’t buff attack, you certainly don’t want too many, but in this deck, which only wants to hold the fort until it’s bomb time, it was the perfect trick. I ate a lot of combat tricks with it and had a brick wall of a blocker leftover afterward.

A 9-1 record is a fantastic start to the league. It definitely made me eager to play out all my tiebreaks, as I have a legitimate shot at a top finish with that kind of start. The tiebreakers didn’t go quite as well. I had some power-screw issues that didn’t crop up during the ranked matches. I definitely feel like 13-7 was a bit underperforming for the deck, but then 9-1 was probably a bit better than I deserved, so I’m glad it worked out in the order it did!

Interestingly, I started last month’s league 22-8 as well, but I did it in the wrong order, going 5-5, then 17-3 in tiebreaks. The order of your wins matters! I kind of hate that, especially since it’s not like we get Swiss pairings, but what can ya do?

May Sealed – Week 2

Time to crack some new packs! Always exciting. Here are the two packs I cracked:

How ’bout those rares? Barf. Not getting any help there. Not getting a ton of help in general. The quality of these packs is very, very low. The only not-completely-meh cards are the Trail Maker and the Into the Furnace. The latter isn’t on my radar at all, as Fire is simply a splash, and I have no Grenadin to even make it do 4. Trial Maker, on the other hand, is excactly what the doctor ordered. It really smooths out my greedy 4-faction power base, ramps me to my bombs, and even happens to be an explorer for my sentinel friend.

Amber Waystone is another obvious inclusion, though it is probably rare that I’ll make it to TTTT. Doesn’t cost me anything to play it, though. Silverwing Smith and Copperhall Marshal are both playable cards, but I’m pretty full on 3s, and I certainly don’t need a third Marshal in my 1-ish weapon deck (I do have Arcanist, technically). Silverwing Smith does help trigger my Crownwatch Quartermaster, and it’s a nice flying body to buff with the ability, but it’s nothing too thrilling.

I actually never took a screenshot of the final deck for week 2, but I wound up only swapping Soaring Guard for Trail Maker. I cut a Justice Sigil for the Amber Waystone, figuring that Trail Maker made hitting early Time more important, and he could help fix me for the Justice if I needed it.

Not a huge upgrade by any means, but hey, it worked last week, right?

Spoiler for uess how I did...

8-2, 9-3* in tiebreakers (39-13 overall)

I did not get to finish all of the tiebreakers because I waited until the night before the reset…and then my internet died. Classic Alaskan stuff. Unfortunate that it cost me some potential tiebreaker wins, but I’m satisfied with where I ended up. At 17-3, with 22 tiebreaker wins, I was sitting in 20th place before the reset. Pretty thrilled about that!

Trail Maker was as good as I hoped, and the deck felt a great deal more consistent in its power development. There aren’t many other comments to make on how the deck played out, seeing as I didn’t change much. Here’s to opening better packs next week!

Even with the mediocre opens in pack 2, I was roughly 20th at the end of Week 2, which leaves me within striking distance of the top. Unfortunately, missing those few tiebreaker wins may come back to bite me, as I only have 22 despite my stellar 17-3 record in ranked matches.

Bonus coverage: There Can be Only One Event

We had a second event running last weekend that I was pretty excited to play. The rules were simple: Singleton constructed. You could only play one copy of each non-power card in your deck. Here is what I jammed for my five ranked runs:

I went 3-3, 7-2, 7-1, 7-1, 3-3, for a combined total of 27-10 with this pile of goodstuff, which was good enough for a 59th-place finish.

My theory in deckbuilding was fairly simple: People can only run a single copy of each of the good removal spells, but I can run a whole lot more beefy threats than that. When it comes right down to it, an unanswered Amilli is effectively the same thing as an unanswered Cirso, which is the same thing as an unanswered Worldbearer Behemoth, and so on. The gap between those cards and the role they play in the game is fairly small, whereas the gap between Vanquish and the next-best thing is massive.

Unsuspecting all-stars were Marisen, the Eldest and Moondial. Yeah, I won games on the back of Mystic Ascendant or Predatory Carnosaur, but we knew how good those cards are already. Marisen, though, was absolutely insane. The sheer threat density of my deck meant that my opponent soon ran out of removal. In the mirror matches, where my opponent was putting my removal under similar pressure and boards were stalling out, Marisen just went far over the top of anything they could do. Moondial was a similarly fantastic answer to stalled boards. Interestingly, pretty much every Time deck I played against had a Moondial, but I did not see a single other Marisen.

I’m pretty sure the power base was a hot mess, but between the Time fixers and the Primal card draw spells, I managed to get there more often than not. It may be correct to cut Amilli for something else because there were a lot of games where I didn’t quite get to JJJ.

Other cards I wasn’t sure about were Twinning Ritual and Trailblaze. With Trailblaze, I figured hey, a bit more consistency, but when the games actually played out, it didn’t feel very impactful, and I would almost always have rather spent my power doing something more productive. Twinning Ritual wound up being pretty good. Again, the theory behind the deck was to overwhelm my opponent’s answers with big threats. That meant I had a dearth of cheap things to do, as well as some of the best possible card quality. Combine that, season with a few Echo cards and I figured it was worth a shot. It performed decently well, but I’m still not sure if it was overall correct to run.

Channel the Tempest was also excessively greedy, but good luck getting me to not play that card.

 

How I got here…

I wrote the first word of what would become my first finished novel, Designs of a Fox, when I was a junior in high school. Though I had been reading sci-fi/fantasy my whole life, I had just read A Game of Thrones and its (at that point three) sequels for the first time. I’m sure it was in part to the fact that I was an edgy teenager, but it was my first exposure to that kind of storytelling, and it really inspired me to start writing a story of my own. My AP English teacher, to whom my first book is dedicated, gave me more freedom in her class than any teacher I’ve ever had. If I had to credit any one person with enabling and inspiring me to pursue my writing, it would be her. I did poetry explications on Rush songs and did literary analysis on A Storm of Swords; that’s how much freedom she gave me. For my final creative writing project, she just let me turn in the first three chapters of the book I’d spent the whole year telling her I was writing.

The original story looked nothing like it does now, and I don’t know if any of the characters I wrote back then could be considered to be the same people in anything but name, but there was a constant evolution from there to where I am now. I didn’t work much on it for the first few years. It was just a fun little side project.

To be honest, I don’t know why I began to push it harder, but during my junior year of college, I decided to set myself a daily writing quota of 1,000 words. It took quite some time before I was regularly hitting that number, but I finished the first version of the book in about six months of hard writing, once I got the rhythm going.

Then I realized I had to rewrite most of it. In those six months, I had actually vastly exceeded my 1,000-word target. I suddenly had a 250,000-word behemoth of a novel that wasn’t even done yet. I read all kinds of advice online about how your first book shouldn’t be a big one, since publishers aren’t likely to take a chance on an unproven author whose book is going to cost a ton to produce. It was soul-crushing to read that, since I’d poured so much time and effort into this thing, only to find out that nobody would ever want to publish it.

As an aside, that advice was honestly a blessing, since I can confidently say that the original incarnation was an inferior story. Too many disjointed plot lines and characters to go into one story; nobody would have been able to follow it all. I’m much happier with how it turned out after some tender, loving chopping-into-pieces.

So I spent the winter break of my senior year hacking and slashing and basically rewriting the whole damn thing. Back at school, I slowly began filling in the holes, and managed to graduate with an all-but-finished story. Graduate school began. Between teaching my first semester and taking classes, I didn’t have tons of time, but I managed to write the final words that winter. It did wind up being somewhat longer than would be ideal, at 170,000-ish words, but the re-written story is much more focused, the characters more fleshed-out, and the foundations of the world solidly declared.

It’s been six years since then. What the hell have I been doing in that time? Editing here and there, improving some novice mistakes in the writing, and so on. A couple years back, I commissioned a piece of cover art for the bookBut I haven’t really tried to find an agent or a publisher, or anything like that. I did write about 2/3 of what will become another story, Of Courtesans and Crowns, for National Novel Writing Month one year, and I’ve gotten about 20,000 words into the sequel to Designs of a Fox, titled A Wayward Raven, but that’s not much for six years’ time!

Well, I did get a Ph.D. in the meantime. And that did take a lot of both

My incredibly stressful worksite in the Marshall Islands.

time and mental energy. It’s sometimes difficult to transition from the rigorous, logical mindset of doing science to the wild, imaginative moods that it takes to write fantasy. I was learning how to live on my own for the first time. I met my girlfriend and many great friends, adopted two cats and coughlikesixcough aquariums, traveled the world shooting off rockets, and honestly had a great time. I finished my Ph.D. and took a postdoc in Alaska, where I’ve been living for a year and a half now.

But I wasn’t writing. As I mentioned, sometimes I lacked the energy, but that’s a poor excuse for not doing something that brings me a great deal of joy. I’m still not sure why I stopped writing. Perhaps it was a lack of tangible motivation. I didn’t have an agent, didn’t even know if the stories I was writing were any good. The people close to me with whom I shared them always seemed to love them, but of course they would.

I’m a pretty shy person. I’m not the kind of guy who actively shares my work with anyone who will give me the time of day. Not saying that would be a bad thing; in fact, it’s probably a recipe for success! I just struggle with a general anxiety about approaching people, especially for something as personal as sharing this thing I’ve poured my heart and soul into over the past ten years. Naturally there’s a lot of anxiety about rejection, about whether people will hate it. And for someone like me, a quiet, introverted person, that anxiety is magnified.

You know what, though? I’ve got a good job, and solid prospects for my career. I’ll be fine, even if I never sell a single copy of my books. Of course I’d love to be that next hit author, but if that never happens, I’m not going to starve. I shouldn’t have any anxiety at all about sharing my work. Still, it’s hard to shake it.

Which is why I’m here, finally. Putting my thoughts out onto this website not only gives me an outlet, but it also helps to motivate me to keep on writing. It’s my hope that, in addition to promoting myself and my work, this website will help keep me accountable, and thus writing on a regular basis.

So thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more updates! I’ve just returned from my second trip to Antarctica, where I did a considerable amount of writing, so I’ve got some things to talk about!

 

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