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I drove down to London today, to play in The Games Club's prerelease tournament for the new Magic: the Gathering set, Shadowmoor.

I had a remarkably good time. Particularly given the somewhat disappointing fact that although I'd been looking forward to meeting my brother Ant, Chris Howlett, and Alan Lawrence there, actually none of the three of them were there. Chris I'd known might have to stay at home to look after his porrly wife (hope she's better soon!), but I'd been completely unaware that Ant was going to be in Singapore vsiting his girlfriend; and I'd completely failed to let Alan know that this weekend was the prerelease, despite knowing that he's not that in touch with what's happening about MtG these days.

But I still had a good time. I played in three drafts, in which I got to the final, semifinal, and final, winning a total of 8 boosters, which isn't too bad at all. Those of you familiar with the London prereleases may think that there isn't really enough time before the Two-Headed Giant tournament for three drafts of at least two rounds each... and you'd be right. Chris Paterson and myself had signed up for the 2HG, but we both completely failed to hear the announcement for the tournament starting, and rather than notify us that we were late, they just dropped us from the tournament. :( We'd both been rather looking forward to playing 2HG, but only discovered what had happened when deck construction was basically over, so we'd have taken a first round loss while we built our decks, and only have got to play 3 games rather than 4. We considered playing anyway, but decided to draft instead.

For my third draft, I decided to try a strategy I'd heard another player mentioning earlier, which was to simply pick Steel of the Godhead very highly, and then pick up as many hybrid blue-white cards as possible; since any blue-white 2/2 enchanted with that enchantment is going to be at least a 4 point life-drain every turn until it's removed. I picked up 2 Steel in the first pack, and thought things were going quite well; but then I didn't see any more at all throughout packs 2 and 3. But I did get 2 Armored Ascension, which turns the lowliest 1/1 into a huge flying monster, and so those were enough to win me 2 rounds (backed up by 2 Glamer Spinners to leap in and save the precious enchantment when my opponent tries to kill the creature it's enchanting).

But the reason I've come away feeling so happy with the day is probably because of the trading I did. I've noticed this in the past at prereleases: if I have good matches but don't do any good trading, I'll not feel so happy as if I did badly in the games but did some great trades. And I had a very nice crop of trades this prerelease: deals with 3 different "Spike"-type players who value tournament-playable cards highly, and will trade me cards I want for casual decks for them. I managed to come away with 3 Reaper King and enough Scarecrows to build a delightful Scarecrow deck, which I hope to do very soon, probably called "You're All Crows (Be Scared)"; 3 Leech Bonder, which has all sorts of bizarre possibilities; as well as coming away with some Leaf-Crowned Elder, Cream of the Crop and even an Endrek Sahr for my upcoming green-black Shaman Conspiracy deck, and several other cards I specifically wanted.

When I first started driving down to prereleases from Cambridge, I was sharing my car with several other people. But as people have moved away from Cambridge or dropped out of contact, the number of Magic players wanting lifts has dwindled, and for the past couple of prereleases I've been on my own in the car, for the hour-and-a-half journeys each way.

I don't much mind this, because although it's nice to have company, it's also nice to have some time alone. One of the things I've been noticing recently is that, if I've had an extended period of time in social contexts interacting with people, I'll want some time alone shortly afterwards to balance it out. So that worked quite well. It also gave me some time to think about my creative projects, as well as time to listen to music.

I listen to music exceedingly rarely. Basically the only times are in the car, occasionally at my desk at work while I'm programming, or once in a blue moon Rachael and I will share a Discman when we're on a train or plane. I was looking for a CD that I got for Christmas that I haven't been able to listen to yet because I've misplaced it, but couldn't find it, so I grabbed a random old album off the CD rack that I thought would be fun to listen to: Alisha Rules The World by Alisha's Attic, an album I must have bought about 12 years ago, and not listened to for at least 8. It was great fun nostalging as I listened to it in the car - it played through exactly twice in the time it takes to drive from the Royal National Hotel car park in central London to parking on the street outside my flat in Cambridge.

Some of the lyrics were inspiring me about events I could add into the ren'ai game based on robhu's life. One idea that I find quite evocative, but that wouldn't really fit into that game (although perhaps one of the others I'm planning), is the setting depicted in the album's title track: "Everyone loves her / But a child plays for pleasure and she'll play with your mind... So line up your soldiers and she'll shoot them all down, 'cause Alisha rules the world... And when it all comes down you realise / It's just her playful heart inside your mind."

There's something I find compelling about a capricious, playful, immature girl who has immense power, perhaps because of her position like a princess, or perhaps in some more supernatural way; she's perhaps 14 years old but sometimes acts like she's 8, sometimes like she's 18. It's got elements in common with the superb anime series The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi, and also evokes memories of my first visual novel, When I Rule The World, but with rather different details. I might see if I can work it in to some story I create in some form, because I like it.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 20th, 2008 08:54 am (UTC)
There's a bit of that idea in Glory in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (I don't know if you've watched Buffy, so am trying hard to neither spoiler or patronise here!)
Apr. 20th, 2008 10:37 am (UTC)
i like alisha's attic - i still have that album on a casette tape somewhere! XD
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )