Friday, June 14, 2019

The theme of my playstyle

Magic Arena and the State of Green

First off, I’m going to give a big shout out to WOTC R&D and to the team that programmed Magic Arena because that program is fantastic. I never thought they would be able to come up with a program that makes playing Magic on a computer so smooth.

So, just to see how it goes, I’m going to be streaming tomorrow morning.

I’ll be playing the deck below so I thought I would do a quick “State of Green” impression.

4 Llanowar Elves (DAR) 168
24 Forest (RIX) 196
1 Ripjaw Raptor (XLN) 203
2 Territorial Allosaurus (DAR) 184
4 Vine Mare (M19) 207
3 God-Eternal Rhonas (WAR) 163
2 Gigantosaurus (M19) 185
1 Pelt Collector (GRN) 141
4 Steel Leaf Champion (DAR) 182
4 Thrashing Brontodon (RIX) 148
4 Thorn Lieutenant (M19) 203
2 Ghalta, Primal Hunger (RIX) 130
1 Nullhide Ferox (GRN) 138
4 Rabid Bite (M19) 195

Starting with the good: All of the colors have seen some serious power creep since I last played but this hasn’t negatively affected the game at all. I think this is mostly because the combat phase is still a thing. A big thing. It’s rough when you want to play a mid-range deck and your third opponent in a row casts “Thought Erasure” into “Thief of Sanity” and you’re not playing red… but then you just go play burn and get paired with a white life gain deck… Wait…

There are a lot of planeswalkers in play right now and one of the solutions to that is to play agro. And while the deck above is mostly agro it’s still a bit mid rangy thanks to the higher casting costs of things and the Rabid Bites.

So, this deck pretty much illustrates how I feel about Green right now. Green has always been about big dumb creatures, mana fixing and utility. As far as big dumb creatures, WOTC gets an A+ on making sure that the biggest, most threatening creatures are now Green. That wasn’t always the case but it certainly is now.

When I get sick of opposing Planeswalkers, I pull this deck out. And it has done very well for me.
Nothing says “punch a control player in the junk” like a 5/4 “can’t be blocked by anything you have on the board” turn two Steel Leaf Champion. And nothing says “Coming to punch you in the junk some more” like a turn 3 can’t be bounced by Teferi, can’t be lava coiled, hexproof 5/3 Mare.
And with Green’s creatures it just keeps getting better. I like when all the most powerful cards AREN’T multicolor. It gets stale that a good portion of the Magic population likes to mix and match their colors like it’s a buffet and you can take a little bit of everything. Where’s the benefit to playing a solid color? Well, that benefit is in Gigantosaurus. You’re rewarded for playing a creature deck in Nullhide Ferox and in Ghalta.

These are the cards I have always wanted. Real creatures with real benefits for playing a style I like even if it is dumb and little kidish.

And while Green has to have some limitations in the form of creature elimination, elimination based on fighting other creatures seems perfectly in line with Green’s theme and yet, is just as clunky as it should be. I’ve made this deck without Rabid Bite but it performs better with it. Without it, Thief of Sanity is going to run wild on you, casting Gigantosaurus with blue lands. We cannot have that.
And Carnage Tyrant. That’s a love letter to green players.

So, when I first started playing again, I focused on mono green and I love what they’ve done with the color and these thoughts just scratch the surface of all there is to love about Green right now.
Sadly, I’m going to finish this up with some mild disappointment in just two areas.

I do wish there was more trample in Green and I also wish there was another 1 drop mana accelerant. I understand why these things don’t exist but they have in the past with either Findhorn elves, wild growth and Birds of Paradise. I mean, if Red can have a 30 direct damage spells deck in every format, and Blue can do the same with Counterspells or fliers, and Black can do it with creature elim or discard, I’m not sure why Green can’t always have a deck with 8-12 one mana accelerators.

And there is a lot of trample in Green, don’t get me wrong, but there isn’t an Overrun effect where all your creatures gain trample and a bonus for a turn. I mean, I get it, it ends games fast and it’s an abrupt end. But red can kill you on turn 4 sometimes so why not?

Pretty much the most minor of nits there are.

I’ve been back to Magic for a few months and while it took me a few days to get used to Planeswalkers OMG SO MANY PLANESWALKERS! I got used to it. And learned to play them myself.

Thursday, June 13, 2019


This is the message that greeted me when I opened Facebook this evening.

“Arena is trash. That is all.”

It comes from a competitive friend who has just gone on tilt. I know we have all been there.

On Facebook I have a group that until recently was called “Hearthstone” but has recently been renamed “The Attack Phase.” I still play Hearthstone and am working on a Lucentbark deck right now, but thanks to the wonderful new program Magic:Arena, I have been delving into Magic again.
In the group are most of the members of Team Quarterstaff and Team Comics & Collectibles. Ira Wonderboy is now a much older Wonderman. Keith Kenyon, aka, “KrankyK”, is older so, even crankier. The “Serra Girl” Michele was down this weekend and I showed her Magic: Arena.

Michele remains one of my best friends. This Christmas she gave me a book called
 “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life

The main tenet is that caring too much is what leads to anxiety, feelings of inadequacy, impotence and, yes, rage.

Like, when you care too much about Magic and want to toss your cards across the room. Or break your keyboard or just vent to a Facebook group that Magic sucks.
The book is very good and has given me a perspective on a few things in my life.

I started putting these lessons into play when I played Magic and Hearthstone. Because there’s a lot of luck in this game. And when you get a bad beat, it's so much better for your attitude and blood pressure if you just realize it was a bad beat and let it go. Maybe next game you’ll curve out perfectly and your opponent won’t. Maybe you’ll get a good matchup, whatever. It's just a game, have fun.

That worked for about a day but I quickly noticed that something was missing.

Like, why do Billionaires keep working? Why do trust fund babies get bored? Why does Tiger Woods want to be a champion again?
Humans are built to want more. To strive for more. For longer. Faster. Stronger. Better. More. More more.

And if you don’t care, you’re not striving. You're going for more you’re just throwing cards at your opponent.

So, the secret, as always, is a balance.

You will not be shocked to learn that when I got back into the game, I delved right into the fatties, getting to know what WOTC’s vision for Green is these days.

And I started out hating War of the Sparks. Because when you want to attack with big creatures and swing with everything, taking a turn off to play a planeswalker doesn’t help you. Unlike control, aggro decks rarely want to do anything other than play a creature and swing.

Michele comes down about once a month for the weekend and we play games. Azul, Dominion, Catan.  And I have been really interested in trying out Magic Commander with her and Wendy.
And you know, despite the fact that my huge stompy deck has been smashing face and finally got me to Platinum rank, I really do want to play with some of the cards. So I started slowly adding in some planeswalkers and started to realize that there was more to this game than turning things sideways. And maybe it would be cool to play a two-player version of Commander with these new cards. And then I started looking at the new decklists on Star City Games and felt something I had never felt before.

A desire to play Bant.

Magic Arena

Big Red is by far my favorite deck right now. The main reason for that?

Goblin Chainwhirler.

I don't think I have seen a card so likely to make Kibler stop playing Standard since Lifebane Zombie.

This card is so broken and every time I play it, I'm just amazed it saw print. If you are playing Green or Bant or anything involving mana creatures, this is just a beating. If you are playing WW it is a beating. Tokens of any kind - beating. Planeswalkers? Remove a counter for all of them.

I know it's not that big a deal to say that I made Platinum this morning but that was literally 3 levels with just big red and most of the time it was just pure domination. Plus, sometimes you play a mogg fanatic and your opponent just concedes because burn is the best deck in the format right now.

I think the only thing I would change is the Legendary Zombies for either more Bladewing or more Phoenix of which I have neither.

1 Demanding Dragon (M19) 135
23 Mountain (RIX) 195
4 Shock (M19) 156
4 Lightning Strike (XLN) 149
2 Runaway Steam-Kin (GRN) 115
4 Goblin Chainwhirler (DAR) 129
2 Risk Factor (GRN) 113
2 Sarkhan the Masterless (WAR) 143
1 Rekindling Phoenix (RIX) 111
4 Fanatical Firebrand (RIX) 101
3 Chandra, Fire Artisan (WAR) 119
2 Verix Bladewing (DAR) 149
2 Neheb, Dreadhorde Champion (WAR) 140
2 Ilharg, the Raze-Boar (WAR) 133
2 Lava Coil (GRN) 108
2 Sarkhan, Fireblood (M19) 154

This guy is about to have a bad time...

I played the Chainwhirler, attacked, put the dragon into play and he conceded.

Thursday, September 28, 2017


I still love Magic and always will. But I eventually had to give it up because of the cost of Mythics. I moved on to a game called Hearthstone. Maybe you've heard of it? Here's a video I did for Ira "Wonderboy" Beaver explaining the differences and how to move to Hearthstone.

The Best of All Possible Worlds

And now for some deep thoughts: The Best of all Possible Worlds.

I believe that we are living in the best time period there will ever be. It is quite easy to empirically prove that this is the best time humanity has ever experienced. More education, less starvation, lower child infant mortality rates and best of all, toilet paper. That’s all good stuff.

But what I am saying is, that this, even counting the future, is the best time to be alive. In fact, if you are under 30, the best time to be alive, well, I’m sorry but you missed it by … that much.

The thing is, people my age, have lived through a period of change that I do not think the world will ever see again. I grew up with three television channels. The Atari 2600 was the greatest christmas gift there will ever be on Christmas day for a child. You could get today’s child a new Alienware gaming rig worth three grand and they might be kind of excited. But honestly, kids these days have grown up with computers, iPad’s phones and wonders the like we could not have imagined when we little. The greatest electronic wonders of the age are “nothing new” or special to anyone anymore. Much less kids who get their first iPhone for graduating kindergarten.

Now, I know many people are thinking “Well, but won’t people that are now young, when they are fifty think they are living in the best possible time, or all time, even the future? I don’t think that they will because I ask you - What is left to discover?

Interplanetary travel? Admittedly, that is, of course where the next frontier is. But do you really want to go to another planet? Do you really want to leave Earth? Do you want to leave your loved ones behind and go to cryosleep for 20 years and wake up somewhere else and be a pioneer?
I don’t want to be a pioneer. Do you know what pioneers lack? Endless toilet paper. And wifi. And cheap energy. And supermarkets. And the next Avengers movie.

In the future, the only thing we are going to see, is faster, better, cheaper, glossier, cooler stuff - that we already have.

Tell me, do you want to be more plugged in than you already are? Are implants that keep you plugged in all the time so you don’t even have to wear google glasses or hold a tablet or phone really that revolutionary? Is that leap in technology going to hold the same wonder as going from a Nintendo Gameboy to an iPad? Is that leap in technology going to anywhere near as exciting as going from 256kb floppy disks to one terabyte USB sticks? As exciting as going from EGA graphics to high def?

What will come down the line for books? nothing as exciting as Kindle, I promise you. What will come next for televisions? The next huge leap will be holographic TV, which I admit, is probably the most exciting thing I can think of. Will that be better than going from 3 channels from my youth to On Demand movies, Game of Thrones, Top Chef, the best 3d movie ever made in Avatar or the other technological leaps in viewing that have occurred in our lifetimes?

Think about it. If you were ten and had already experienced the internet, iPad’s on demand movies, the clean energy revolution that is still picking up speed, and all the modern conveniences - already at your very fingertips - can you imagine your future changing as much as someone who has been alive the last fifty years has experienced?

Sure, you could say, well, what about the people who were born in 1900? Look what they have experienced! True. But those people were not comfortable with the changes that happened when they were fifty and less comfortable with the changes that happened when they were 80. From social changes to technological changes. All of it was scary.

The information age is the greatest age of humanity, and a lot of those people were terrified or didn’t understand it.

I submit that we are living in the most interesting time period of all time. In the future, things will be easier, better, cleaner and we will continue to advance. But all of those advances will not make as much of a change in the average first world person’s life as all that has happened in my lifetime.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Why my Genesis Deck is better than your girlfriend.

Odd title right? Well, it is a nod towards my beautiful wife's blog

We'll get to the Magic in a minute. First, an update since this is my first post in two years. I'm sure the other Jamie Wakefield's out there hate me since I have the url and haven't done anything with it for a while.

When we got back to the states, I had a job waiting for me in Rutland thanks to my good friend and former boss, Patricia Aigner. I was a computer tech again and while I do love that, I did not enjoy the environment nor the two hours of travel every day. I longed to be back at my home town's high school (MUHS) being a tech there. In the meantime, an opening appeared at Middlebury College and I aced the interviews and the meeting with my soon to be boss.

But, luckily, Dan Callahan saved my bacon once again. He told me about a network admin position at my home school district (ACSU.) I applied for the job but had cold feet. I knew little about servers and didn't relish the responsibility of keeping an entire network up and what to do if it went down. I actually applied for the job, then withdrew my application due to fear. Which is bad.

Dan convinced me to come in for the interview and I did pretty well at it. They offered to train me, pay for courses online and offered me the job. With much trepidation I took it. Possibly a mistake?

I've never had a harder job.

At the Middlebury Inn, I used to work an eight hour shift as Manager or sometimes just front desk clerk and then work through the night as the night auditor. That sixteen hour shift was easier than what I am doing now.

On the other hand, despite being hard, I am certainly not stagnant. I have learned more in the past two years than I have learned at any other time in my life. I feel like I am in an intensive college course that never ends. And, we have a great tech team which is so important. We all get along, we're all friends, we all work our asses off and we all support each other.  I love the atmosphere, the teachers and the four mile drive to work. While I wish the job was a little easier, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. I am just stunned that I had this five year adventure in Spain and then was able to come back to the job I love.

Wendy has moved into a new stage of her life (read her website from the link above) and I know she is going to be a huge success at it, like everything else she has attempted. She redesigned our dismal, poorly lit house into what we now call Wakkafield Palace. And it is a palace. It is insanely wonderful. I have a man-cave with an Alienware computer with two screens, a wall o junk filled with various paraphernalia, most importantly, my Magic "Competitor" badges that I got from going to five Pro Tours. I have my framed original artwork of Timbermare, my favorite books in my bookcase, a Thor Poster and other awesome things from my life. It is incredible.

Magic? Yeah, I got sucked back in by a simple little thing called Duels of the Planeswalkers that was ten bucks on Steam. That led me back to Magic Online.  I'm not a huge fan of Standard right now so I've been playing a ton of Modern mostly because of the deck I'm playing.

15 Forest
2 Kessig Wolf Run
2 Stomping Ground
4 Acidic Slime
4 Arbor Elf
4 Primeval Titan
4 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx
4 Utopia Sprawl
4 Scavenging Ooze
4 Garruk Wildspeaker
4 Leatherback Baloth
2 Voyaging Satyr
4 Genesis Wave
2 Thrun, the Last Troll
1 Overgrowth

4 Krosan Grip
4 Summoning Trap
4 Essence Warden
3 Choke

This is based off of an article on but is a little bit different. The original list had 4 Burning Tree Emissary and 4 Eternal Witness. I have swapped those out for Acidic Slime and Scavenging Ooze. There are some other minor changes but those are the most important.

The Eternal Witnesses were to get back Genesis Wave, but I've found if I get one off, the game is over, I don't need to cast it again. When I tried the original list, it was super impressive to almost deck myself and put my whole deck on the board, but it was overkill.

The Burning Tree Emissary's were like a lottery ticket. They allowed for staggeringly broken openings, but did nothing late in the game. The deck is more impressive 1/10th of the time that it works perfectly with them, but loses more when you draw them outside of your opening hand.

The Scavenging Ooze and Acidic Slime have both been so good, so game winning, so amazing, that I would never take them out. I am unsure on the Thrun, Overgrowth and Voyaging Satyr.

Anyway, I have to wrap this up. It is Sunday and Wendy is ready to quit work and do something together for the rest of the day. Which is fine by me since I have won my last three matches in Magic, walked doggies, watered plants, done laundry, converted ten DVD's to AVI and updated my blog for the first time in two years two months.