Author Archives: powerfulwizard

The Grinding Stone – Seattle Open

Let’s just jump right in it.  I needed this weekend.  Badly.  After not cashing or getting anything greater than the normal 1 point for each event over the last 3 events or so I was getting behind, both financially and in my quest for Level 8 in the Starcitygames.com Open series.  I had been playing good decks.  I had been doing some amount of testing (definitely not enough), and I felt like I had a good grasp on the Meta.  It hasn’t been a “Punt-fest,” but I have played some better Magic in my days.  This weekend was exactly what I needed.

Coming into this weekend, I had a solid 3 weeks of grinding/traveling laid out in front of me. Seattle for the open, then Pittsburg for the open, and then Indy for GenCon/Nats.  After my abysmal showing in the Invitational, Nagoya, Louisville and Cinci I was definitely questioning my drive.  I’ve been given a great opportunity this year and I needed to snap out of the funk I was currently in.  Read the rest of this entry

The Grinding Stone – Cincinnati Open


Welcome to another installment of “The Grinding Stone.”

Your host, Chris VanMeter here, excited to talk with you about Cincinnati this last weekend.

Although I played some of the worst magic I ever have, and did terrible in both the Standard and Legacy events, I definitely have some things to go over in preparation for Seattle.

While getting ready for Cinci I was already set on playing Hive Mind for the legacy event, courtesy of a sweet list from Tom Ma, so I used the majority of my effort on testing for Standard. I was expecting a meta of Valakut, Splinter Twin/Ascension, Caw Blade, U/W control and U/B control. I couldn’t find a deck that I liked against everything, and found that the Mono Red match-up was especially difficult for most decks unless they devoted a lot of sideboard space to it, and even then it wasn’t un-winnable.  Turn 1 Goblin Guide puts you so far ahead on the play a lot of decks are unable to recover.  On the draw, he still does so much damage, it makes all of your other spells more effective.  Here is the list I ended up playing after some consultation with AJ Sacher the night before: Read the rest of this entry

The Grinding Stone – Standard Post M12

Hello!  Welcome to the second edition of “The Grinding Stone.”  This week I will be going over the post M12 Standard format.  While it will be short lived, the format will be relevant for the upcoming Starcitygames.com open events and US Nationals.  Comprising of the Zendikar block, Scars block, M11 and M12, the New Standard is shaping up to be quite interesting.

With Jace and Stoneforge banned, the format really feels fresh.  There is still the Splinter Twin/Exarch combo looming, and while the old bad guy Valakut will be making a comeback, there is still quite a lot of design space.  Many creatures and strategies that were completely neutered by Jace have been given a new life.  Titans are good again.  Cards like Consecrated Sphinx and Wurmcoil Engine rise in value as there is no “Jace Test” anymore.  There is also another reason these creatures will be standing out, but we will get to that in a bit. Read the rest of this entry

The Grinding Stone – Focus, by Chris VanMeter

So, I am sitting at a table with Gerry T and Adam Cai and some number of other masters. As per usual I am just being quiet, taking in everything they are all saying. Some kid comes over to Gerry, very red in the face and obviously tilting over something and starts to go on and on about how his opponent literally drew the 3 cards that he needed in the exact order that he needed them to win. Mid-sentence Gerry stops him and says “If you didn’t win this I don’t really want to hear it.” “Of course I didn’t win, he drew his outs!” The kid replies. “Oh, so your opponent drew cards that were in his deck?” says Gerry. The kid leaves visibly upset. I completely understand what he is feeling. That used to be me. While I have been playing Magic for a long time, I am just now learning some of the best lessons to keep your head straight and help you stay focused while playing “higher level” Magic.

Hello! For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Chris VanMeter. I currently live in Wichita Kansas, but I am originally from the Seattle/Tacoma area. Until the end of last year I would constantly lose my focus while playing in the later rounds of Magic tournaments. I would still make plenty of PTQ and local cash tournament Top 8’s, but most of the time I would lose my win-and-in round or just lose in the quarter finals. I would always be so happy, telling all my friends that all I had to do was win one more and I could just double draw in. I would also be extremely devastated when I lost the next round and the ensuing tilt would carry me right through my next loss, knocking me out of the Top 8. After years and years of this same practice, I decided that I was going to step my game up. Test more, and test more effectively. Most of all, I would start to only focus on a “one game at a time” mentality. This became my Mantra. In between rounds I would chant it in my head to start focusing, much the same way Brian Kibler does with his “song of the tournament.” I would do this while shuffling for game one. I would do this while side boarding. Even after the match was over, be it me or my opponent turning in the game slip, I would go right back to “one game at a time”. This helped me to push out thinking about how many more rounds I would have to win to draw into the Top 8. It would help me to overcome tilt when my opponent runner-runners me. More importantly, it would help me keep a fresh mind when making it to the Top 8. When you are so focused on getting there and how many rounds you have to win, once you make it to the Top 8, your mind just relaxes and you aren’t playing at the same level as before. Read the rest of this entry