Quick thought on the new PT Top 8 Structure

On August 2nd Wizards of the Coast announced a change to how the Pro Tour top 8s will be playing out. For reference they will be played out as such:


I think this change is great. Rewarding people for doing well in the swiss, in the top 8 is a good change. The “modified play-draw rule” was a first attempt at this, but it was not quite enough incentive to play out your last round as opposed to drawing.

One thing I have seen said a number of times though that I wanted to refute in this post is the following statement:

“This system does not really stop intentional draws. Anyone who can draw into top 8 as opposed to winning into top 4 or losing into top 16 will still draw”

I do not think this will actually be the case. The reason for this is because of the changed payout structure associated with this top 8 restructure:


Because 7-16 have the same prize money now, this means playing and losing your match for top 4 to end up top 16 is the same prize as drawing into top 8 and then losing in the quarters.

Basically you now get the choice if you want to play for that next position starting in the last round or the first round of single elimination. Some people might still choose to draw, but others will not. This also means people below these matches that 100% would have drawn previously, now have a chance to make it to the elimination rounds. Basically making for more people playing “exciting” matches during the event as a whole.

I love this change as a whole and really hope it trickles down to other magic events in general.

Just my two pence.

Being Critical of Your Play

Today I have some bad news for folks who play TCGs – most of the matches you lose are your own fault. Sure, there are going to be a few matches here and there where you genuinely lose to variance, but if you think these losses are happening more than the ones where you made various mistakes – then you are not being critical enough of your own play.

People often ask me how to improve as a TCG player to get to that “next level” where you are winning more matches than you are losing. Being critical of the decisions you make every game – even the games you are winning – is the best way to do this.

The things that make people who are good at TCGs good are not the games they win where everything is going according to plan. Those games are easy for novices and experts alike. It is the decisions the good players make in the games where things do not go their way that sets them apart.

You make your own luck. Focus on making optimal plays so that when you do draw the right cards, you have put yourself in the best position to win. Regardless of the outcome always look back on your matches to find things you could have done better / differently.

Food for thought.

Failing and Improving

If you are afraid to fail at something you can’t try to do great things.

Tonight during our second paper magic stream we failed at a few things. First and foremost – we failed at brewing in the new standard format. All three of our new decks were midrange decks that all failed to beat the existing midrange king: Bant Humans.

We also feel a bit short in getting our setup improved. We tried a new positioning for the hand cameras that I think ended up being a bit worse, but I will have to spend some time reviewing the recording to confirm what my few glances while recording was seeing. We also used standard gloss sleeves instead of the normal double matte sleeves which caused some glare issues.

Next week we will have some improvements on both fronts when we come back with deck ideas trying to go over and under the Bant Humans deck before the open in Columbus. Thanks to all the folks who watched this evening through our small growing pains as we get this live paper magic streaming down to a science.

Paper Magic Streaming, Long Stream, and Give Aways

Paper Magic Streaming

A couple of weeks ago I posted an update here talking about why I was going to be moving away from streaming MTGO after June. You can read about that here. The feedback on this was varied. Mostly folks said they understood where I was coming from, but were sad to see less Magic content on my Twitch page.

After doing some chatting with Mat Bimonte, who travels with me to many SCG Tour events, we came to a solution that allows me to still do away with MTGO, but also have Magic content on the channel still – live Paper Magic Streaming. The plan is to have a live testing stream every Wednesday evening on my same twitch page that will consist of Mat, Myself, and other folks who travel with us battling it out with ideas we are testing at that give point in time. It will primarily be standard and modern content, with an occasional night of legacy here and there.

As for the formatting of this, we are still working out the details, but it will likely consist of a top down camera in conjunction with hand cameras like we used to use on our old Crash Test series for The Meadery.


Next Long Stream and Give Aways

Every time I hit a certain sub threshold we celebrate by doing a long stream on my twitch channel. We recently hit this goal again and our next long stream will be starting around 11am CST on Saturday July 2nd. It will be a send off to regular Magic Online Streams on my channel as well as including some Hex Shards of Fate. The stream will be a minimum of 12 hours, with a possible extension to 24 hours if we meet a donation goal during the first 12 hours.

My plan is to start by streaming the MOCS Monthly event which is standard starting at 11am and playing some matches of Hex Shards of Fate between rounds. After the MOCS is over (or we are all scrubbed out) we will likely be taking votes to see what we want to do as the day progresses.

Speaking of the long stream – towards the end of it we will be doing at least two giveaways to my existing Twitch Subscribers thanks to my new sponsor the Collectible Corner in Normal, IL:

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So if you have not subscribed before now is an excellent time to do so! Both cards are in fairly good condition as you can see from the pictures, but I would be happy to damage sign them if the winner desires. Subscribers will not need to be present to win.

Collectible Corner is a game store in Bloomington/Normal, Illinois that specializes in Sports Cards and Magic the Gathering. We have daily Magic events, as well as singles, boosters, and supplies. We are open daily from Noon-11PM.

You can visit them in person at:

1520 East College Suite O Normal, Illinois

Or their online TCG storefront here

Budget Hex Constructed Decks

Last Updated March 22nd, 2018

I often have people ask me for suggestions for decks to get started into Hex Constructed that have reasonable price tags. I am going to keep this post updated with a few different suggestions so I can reference it when people ask this question.

If you are new to Hex itself and want to learn about the game in general check out my post on Hex Primal here. If you do end up purchasing the deck you want from HexPrimal.com you can use code Jeff5 at checkout to get a 5% discount on your order. You can easily paste the list of cards below into their Quick Buy Tool.

RD Candle Aggro

Approximate Cost: 15 USD

The RD Candle Aggro goes wide with Candlekin and then uses the Illuminate mechanic to grow its troops into uncontrollable fires. Acolyte of Flame and Wax Dawn allow us to establish a board presence and then Choir of Lumos turns all of our troops into very large threats. In the event an opponent is able to be more aggressive than us, we have quality spot removal in Wrath of Elements and Flame Barrage to remove their key threats. Finally should we ever come to a board stall Wings of Wax let us fly over the competition.



Non-Budget Upgrades:

BD Constants

Approximate Cost: 25 USD

Blood-Diamond Constants is a midrange deck that leans on the power of quality removal like Decree of Banishing and Dark of Night to control the board while we kill them with cards like Twilight Eclipse and Twilight Archon. Early troops like Vesper and Sunset Shade also allow us to occasionally have aggressive draws as well.



Non-Budget Upgrades:




Last Updated March 22nd, 2018