OBLIGATORY INTRODUCTION

Hello!

My name is Jon. I've been a Magician for 15 years. You may have even seen my articles around before. I recently got brought on at TCGplayer HQ in sunny downtown Syracuse, and it is great. If you have any questions about the job, which is great, please fire away down in the comments, and I will answer them under the watchful, wary eye of Ryan, our Brand Manager. He'll be the one with his head in his hands the entire time, repeating "You can't say that, Jon," and wishing he was doing anything else. We have lots of fun around here.


WHAT IS THIS THAT I AM LOOKING AT

You are reading the inaugural edition of a column that aims to give you a little sneak peek into what it's like to work at TCGplayer - rubbing elbows with attorneys in the elevator, crowding around Alex's computer at 10 o'clock sharp every morning to see what today's special is in the cafe downstairs, right down to which janitor will be there what days when you leave. No detail will be overlooked.

Some anecdotes about Magic Culture, and even the occasional tournament report, will inevitably find their way to this space. Oftentimes, playing Magic can have Diminishing Returns. It's at these times that people talk about Magic instead. You can generally count on eschewing that here, as we'll go straight to the very meta activity of talking about talking about Magic: the Gathering. It'll be just as fun as it sounds.


SO YOU'RE ALL REALLY AWESOME AT MAGIC RIGHT

Nope! Here at TCGplayer, we are all varying degrees of terrible at Magic. A few of us have played in some Pro Tours, but none of us are real fixtures on the Pro Tour as it stands. That's not for a lack of trying, though - the competitive players among us are always travelling to events and trying to break through. In other words, we're just like everyone else.

The common misconception people have of anyone that works at any online Magic store is that all the employees are Super Spikes, plucked right out of the Pro Tour and onto the payroll. This assessment is pretty far removed from reality; the truth is that lots of people at the office don't play Magic at all, and inevitably get sucked into it after overhearing sweet, sweet #mtgstories.


OFFICE LIFE AT TCGPLAYER

8 AM - Get to work
8:15 AM - Your very enthusiastic coworker excitedly shows you her "Modern Boros deck." She eagerly awaits your take on the deck as you thumb through it. It has four Swords to Plowshares in it.
8:20 AM - Get a cup of coffee from the breakroom
8:30 AM - Do some work
10:33 AM - Send a picture of the card Dead Ringers to one of the customer service reps, Joe. Joe hasn't been playing Magic for very long, so you are excited to show him just how big and weird Magic is. Other cards you have sent him include Illusionary Mask, Ice Cauldron, and Chains of Mephistopheles.
10:36 AM - Joe walks over to your desk, declares "I DO NOT KNOW WHAT THAT CARD DOES," and walks away.
12:00 PM - Lunchtime. Joe wants to play Standard in the break room. You have no intention of playing boring Standard, and decide that instead, you're going to show him the insane things that are possible in a game of Magic, even if he didn't ask you to do so. You are going to play your Legacy Omni-Show deck.
12:13 PM - You crack a Polluted Delta for an Underground Sea and cast Ponder. Joe takes a bite out of his sandwich and says, "I don't think any of those cards are in Standard."
12:14 PM - Joe casts Hopeful Eidolon.
12:16 PM - I cast Show and Tell off an Underground Sea and an Ancient Tomb. Joe asks if he can put any creature, artifact, enchantment, or land from his hand into play. I assure him he can.
12:17 PM - Joe places Eidolon of Countless Battles onto the battlefield. I choose Omniscience.
12:20 PM - The game is over.
1:00 PM - Your coworker Dan Insists that a manatee is just a big fish. You decide that lunch is over and you go back to work.
1:27 PM - You wander over to the Reimbursement Invoice room where everyone is grading cards. They are listening to an old Mary-Kate and Ashley song about pizza, slowed down. You cannot leave fast enough.
5:00 PM - Work is done. Time to fill up some growlers at J Ryan's across the street and Cube Draft!


SO WHAT'S STANDARD LIKE THESE DAYS

Whenever there's an event less than six hours away, my coworker Willis can be counted on to try and rope me in as a co-conspirator; it generally takes him about 20-22 minutes to convince me to go. Last weekend was the open in New Jersey, so we made plans to crash at a friend's.

Here's the deck I ran. It is certifiably Fun As All Heck:

DECKID=1216492

We're only a few cards off runner-up Ross Merriam's maindeck, even if the sideboard is radically different. I actually liked my sideboard a lot, though; Garruk, Apex Predator single-handedly won me a match and Drown in Sorrow was pretty key in beating opposing Goblin Rabblemasters. I wound up getting knocked out of the tournament by two Mantis Rider decks and an interesting Sultai Tempo deck sporting Disdainful Stroke and Reaper of the Wilds. Some things I noticed about our midrange overlords over the weekend:

No one's playing any removal! Maybe this is a week one thing, but it seems like everyone was just trying to deploy better threats than their opponent than worrying about answers.
In a format of big ol' fatties, winning the die roll is A Big Deal. Getting out the first Elvish Mystic / Voyaging Satyr / Sylvan Caryatid means landing the first Polukranos, World Eater / Genesis Hydra / Stormbreath Dragon, which means you get to untap with a fatty in play first, which makes it pretty hard to lose.
Removal and disruption are only relevant with pressure. There's no more grindy monoblack devotion deck that can sit back, pick your hand apart, and attrition you out. For now, board advantage seems to trump card advantage. The most impressive decks I saw that coupled aggression with disruption were the Jeskai decks that stuck Mantis Riders and then protected the clock with Jeskai Charms, countermagic, and other cheap tempo spells.

The tournament was a welcome departure from RTR-block Standard, and I'm looking forward to playing more of it. Playtesting for this weekend's TCGplayer Standard State Championships never looked so good.


SHAMELESSLY SHOEHORNED AND TOTALLY AWESOME MTG STORY

A few months ago, we hired this kid Kris. After work we were just hanging out, and we started telling the same story...

It's 2006. I'm at a JSS Qualifier in Syracuse with my friend Kyle. I'm too old to play in the tournament, but I have no friends or life, so I'm right there with him, watching him hopefully punch his ticket to Baltimore. We get to the shop hosting the Qualifier and it's pretty empty. Like, "tournament is not going to fire" empty, but then a lanky teenager walks in, and his friend immediately offers to spot him entry fee to play in the tournament. The kid makes eight players and the tournament fires.

They all start putting a deck together for him to play out of their spare cards. It is, to be clear, a terrible mess of green and blue cards. Being the enterprising young man that I am, I see this as an opportunity, and wander over to a kid I've never met before to ask:

"Mind if I take a look at your deck?"
"Are you playing in the tournament?"
"Nope."
"Sure, go for it."

[He hands me the deck, I confirm that it is indeed a terrible pile of green and blue cards]

"This deck sucks."
"You're probably right."

[I hand him a deck out of my bag]

"Play this, it's way better."

[He looks through it]

"Okay, I'll play this."
"Great. I want a third of your prizes."

The deck I hand him, in all its glory:

DECKID=1216494

I have two standard decks in my bag - this insane red trainwreck and Tooth & Nail - but I know that Tooth and Nail has a pretty even matchup against the deck Kyle's playing, White Weenie, while the 11-land-destruction-spell red deck basically cannot beat White Weenie under any circumstances. As much as I want to guarantee myself some packs and hand him my Tooth & Nail deck, I hand the kid this literally insane red deck that I designed just to beat Tooth & Nail.

My new friend overcomes the nightmare matchup and beats Kyle in the finals. This comes after Kyle offers his hand before the match starts with a "you're just going to lose, this is a terrible matchup for you, good game." Luckily for Kyle, the tournament still pays out two slots to the JSS Nationals, so he still gets what he really came for, and I get the maximum amount of prizes I can possibly get: a sealed box of Betrayers of Kamigawa.

Fast forward eight years, and I am telling this story to a couple of people, and my coworker Kris jumps in and says, "I was that kid!" Many high-fives were had.

Kris had an interesting take on the event; apparently, I really laid into him about how bad the deck he was about to play was. I also completely forgot that Kyle tried to mess with his finals opponent. Obviously I'm happy justice was served. Most of all, though, I'm just glad someone was able to corroborate the story - I tell that one a lot, but after eight years, you tend to only remember the story and not the event, so to hear the story told from Kris' perspective was nice. I went from not being sure the story was real to having walking, talking proof of it. So thanks, Kris!

Jon Corpora
pronounced Ca-pora
@feb31st