Sunday, March 29, 2009

Oh, my gosh - I'm DONE!!!!!!!

The "Great Shift" was just finished. All of my single card inventory has now been moved over to (with only a few Conflux cards that I feature on eBay as an exception).

I cannot believe this! How long have I been working on this? Okay - I just checked my own blog. I announced my decision to move all the inventory over on January 1. Here it is almost the end of March, so 3 months.

Actually, it feels like a lot longer!

Anywhoo - this is AWESOME! My wife is quite sick of my happy dance, however.

In other news, I have recently signed up with Google AdWords, and have an ad campaign going on various and sundry (no pun intended) websites as a result. They offered me a $50 credit to try them out, so what the heck. The way this works is that I pay per "click" from the ad, whether that "click" leads to a sale or not. I've bid a maximum of $0.20 per click, and capped my bill at $15 per day - we'll see what happens. As of this writing I've had the ad running since last Tuesday (so not yet a week) and had 31 "clicks" for a total of $4.70. To the best of my knowledge none of those clicks has (yet) resulted in a sale.

Which leads me to another project (minor in comparison). I need to "jazz up" my home page so that people have more of a reason to search and (of course) buy. A lot of people are getting to the home page and then leaving, not even searching for a single card. I'm not sure yet how to fix this, but I'm working on some ideas.

Got to go and clean up a little bit of the "color" field for searches. I decided mid-way that I needed to keep "multi" color cards listed in WUBRG order (that's White, blUe, Black, Red, Green for you non-Magic readers), but some of the earlier entries say "Multi Green White" instead of "Multi White Green", for example. To make searches consistent, I need to standardize all of those. That clean-up should only take a half-hour at most, I'm estimating. I'm right now downloading my entire inventory as a spreadsheet, then I'll sort by the color field, and just find the ones that need to be edited, chop the rest, make the edits, upload those files, and "Bob's your uncle" as they don't actually say in England.

Then tomorrow I need to focus on some other things. My Brother-in-law and Mother-in-law each have given me items they'd like sold on eBay and I've been putting that off to get my stuff done. I need to switch gears and work on the other stuff for a while.

But, for tonight, I will bask in the glory of BEING DONE! Did I mention that?

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Magic's 11th Edition - whoa, baby!

I just last night got around to reading this article on the Wizards of the Coast site that describes the major changes that will be coming for Magic's latest Core Set, which everyone assumed would be called the 11th Edition. Here's the main reasons why I am excited/interested/shocked from what I gleaned there:
  1. The name. Instead of calling it 11th Edition, they are instead calling it Magic the Gathering 2010 Core Set or just Magic 2010 for short. While this is odd and unexpected, it is not unprecedented to have an un-numbered Core set. The first 3 sets, in fact (Limited [consisting of Alpha and Beta], Unlimited and Revised) had non-number names. Only with 4th Edition did the numbers start. People sometimes retroactively refer to Revised as "3rd Edition" but that wasn't its official name.
  2. New cards. For the first time EVER (unless you count the very first Core set that introduced the game), a Core set will have brand-new, original, not reprinted from a previous set cards. This is HUGE! And the idea to make cards that are steeped in non-MtG fantasy roots is very cool. I love the idea of the card Silence, a card that hearkens to my days as a D&D cool!
  3. This lady: Serra Angel is my all-time favorite Magic card. I collect them. I'll often trade for them. And I never have them for sale on my site, because I keep each one I get my hands on. I somehow managed to get more 10th Edition Serra Angels than any other Rare card from that Core Set, I believe (I have 15 of them, and 1 in Foil). And while they were originally (in Alpha through 4th Edition) an Uncommon card, they were promoted to Rare in 7th Edition (after being retired from service for 5th and 6th Editions). And, if this photo from the article is to be believed, they are back to Uncommon again - meaning I should get more than ever! Woo-hooooo!
  4. Smaller set. This is going to be the smallest Core Set in quite some time. This will make it easier to complete my "virtual collection" of photos of the cards, and hopefully allow me to have enough duplicates of cards to allow people to purchase 4x playsets of the cards they're after from me.
  5. New Dual Lands. I'm chomping at the bit to find out new idea they have for Dual Lands that don't have the "drawback" of losing a life like the "Pain Lands" currently in the Core Sets.
  6. More frequent. For quite some time now the Core Sets have been released every other year. Now they plan to release a new Core Set annually. I hope they can keep up quality Core Sets on that kind of schedule.
  7. Black borders. In the past, since all the cards were reprints, the Core Sets had white borders in keeping with WotC policy. Looks like they are abandoning that entirely, and taking a clue from the popularity of the black borders used in 10th Edition they will keep printing the Core Sets with black borders. Awesome.
  8. Planeswalkers. These have been crazy-popular with the customers, and some of the most sought-after cards in recent sets have been Planeswalkers (Jace, Chandra, Garruk, Sarkhan and Nicol Bolas to name the biggest). And all five of the original Planeswalkers from Lorwyn will be reprinted in this set, as Mythic Rares.
All in all, a lot to be excited about. Now I can't wait until July 17!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Thoroughly spanked

That's how I would describe me after my latest Friday Night Magic (FNM) experience.

Last night I went to Dream Wizards for their weekly FNM tournament. This week's style was "booster draft", which was a style I wanted to see in action. I paid my $14 + tax entry fee and signed in, then awaited instructions.

There were 16 of us signed up this time (as opposed to 30+ at the sealed deck FNM I attended last month), and we were split up into 2 "pods" of 8 people. The 8 in each pod were arranged around two tables set up lengthwise against each other to form a square table space, with 2 people per side. The judge asked if anyone was there for their first draft experience.

I raised my hand.

I was the only one who did.

Of course.

So, the judge quickly ran through the idea for me. We would each be given 3 booster packs of Magic cards. 2 from the latest large set (Shards of Alara) and 1 from the most recent set (Conflux) [side note: presumably before Conflux was released this would have been 3 decks of Shards, and after the last set of the block, Alara Reborn, is released, it would be one of each]. Upon being told, we would each open up one pack of Shards, toss the basic land and insert card into the center of the table (they not being "draftable") and then look at the remaining 14 cards to decide which one card from that pack we would want to "draft" for ourselves, with the eye towards building a 40-card minimum deck to compete with later. Then the remaining 13 cards would be passed to the person on our left, and we would therefore receive 13 cards from the person on our right. This process continues, with one card being drafted from each set passed to us, until all 14 cards from each pack had been "drafted". Then we would open the second Shards booster, and repeat, only passing to the right instead. Finally the Conflux booster gets opened, and passed to the left again.

I wish I could tell you what I drafted each round, or what logic there was to my picks. The truth is there was not much logical thought involved. I picked cards that I could easily see how to play, without much thought on how they would play together. I focused on Red and Black, with a smattering of Blue. I got stuck with a couple of Green and White cards at the ends of packs, when there wasn't much to choose from. I quickly decided that I had no clue what the best method for drafting was, and that I was probably not going to do all that well. Still, I hoped it wouldn't be a disaster.

Basic Lands were made available to round out our decks, but I had brought my own. So, I picked the 32 cards I thought best, added 18 basic lands, and had a 50-card deck ready to go. The exact contents of the deck I'll post at the end like last time.

In Round 1 I faced off against someone I recognized from my first FNM (one of only two I can say that about). She had also been one of the "final 6" in Round 3. Unlike me, she won her last Round that night, and was one of the three top winners. This made me nervous to face up against her this time. She had been sitting to my right during the drafting. It turns out she had drafted an "Esper" deck, focusing on White/Blue/Black with a great deal of Artifact Creatures. She had cards that worked very well together, allowing her to regenerate her Creatures, gain life when she summoned an Artifact (or worse, take life from me while gaining life herself).
  1. in Game 1, while I did some damage to her, I never got her life total below the starting 20 life. She, on the other hand, drop my life steadily, 20 to 18 to 16 to 15 to 13 to 10 to 9 to DEAD.
  2. In game 2, I struggled mightily, held on for a MUCH longer time and finally defeated her. It wasn't easy, but I had the advantage of a Shore Snapper which I could give Islandwalk, and therefore it was unblockable since she had Islands in play. I whittled away at her life total, often only 2 points at a time, until she was finally defeated. Towards the end of this game the judge announced only 5 minutes left in Round 1.
  3. My opponent asked if I wanted to try a third game, since we had so little time left. Foolishly I agreed. We had a speed match, and while I manage to get her down to only 10 life, mine dropped 20 to 18 to 16 to 14 to 12 to 10 to 8 to 3 to DEAD. If I hadn't agreed on the third game, I believe we would have had a "draw", and each gotten 1 point towards the nightly total. Instead, she got 3 points for a win, and I got 0.
In Round 2 I faced off against the gentleman who had sat to my left during the drafting process. This was the fastest Round of the evening, and was extremely pathetic. Although he has lost his Round 1 (which was how we ended up against each other - we each had 0 points entering Round 2), he thoroughly trashed me (I'd say "ripped me a new one" is an appropriate expression in this case).
  1. Game 1: I never got in a point of damage against him. Meanwhile my life total: 20 to 19 to 14 to 6 to VERY DEAD.
  2. Game 2: I actually got a few licks in this time (I had had mana problems in Game 1), and got him down to 11. Meanwhile, I was 20 to 18 to 16 to 14 to 12 to 5 to DEAD.
  3. There was no need for Game 3 - the Rounds are best 2/3.
So I sit for a LONG time waiting for Round 2 to end, as mine went so quickly. I don't really know anyone at these affairs, and I'm not the greatest person in social situations (at least the initial getting to know someone part) so I sat alone, eavesdropping on conversations, toyed with my deck a little (you can modify your deck between Games & Rounds) and waited for everyone else to finish. Finally the Round 3 opponents are posted. Only two people in the tournament have 0 points at this time, me and my opponent for Round 3...

In Round 3 I think my deck and I gave the best showing of the evening.
  1. Game 1: this one was pathetic. I had massive mana problems, and should have mulliganed at the beginning to draw a new hand. I only got 3 damage in against him, while my life went 20 to 18 to 16 to 12 to 6 to 4 to DEAD.
  2. Game 2: big turn-around. He only got in 3 damage on me, while I picked him apart, finally hitting him at the end when he had 6 life left with a two-punch Blightning (for 3 points) followed by an attack of a Skeletal Kathari, which he couldn't block as it has Flying for 3 more points.
  3. Game 3 was a close match, but I got a slow start, which allowed him to pick at me initially. One more round and I would have had him (I had gotten Elder Mastery on my Undead Leotau so it was 6/7 and I could give it +1/-1 for R, but I only had four R available, so I could only hit him for 10, dropping him from 14 to 4), so while he was left with 4 life, I went 20 to 18 to 16 to 14 to 9 to 2 to DEAD.
So, I was the only person in the tournament to finish with 0 points. Really very sad. I held out a slim hope that I might win a random booster pack or special FNM foil. But, no, not even that. (My last opponent, however, did win one of the random foils - congrats to him). So, all in all, a pretty pathetic performance.

In case you would like to reconstruct my deck to see for yourself how truly sad it was, here's what was in it as of the final Round:
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