In the two weeks since I announced my intent to challenge Brandon Sanderson to a game of Magic: The Gathering, I’ve been made all-too-aware of three undeniable facts:
- Brandon is more popular than me
- Brandon is a better Magic player than me
- And most of you want me to get trampled into the ground
There is no doubt, as I wrote in Part 1 of this series, that Brandon is a superior player of this game, and my lifetime 1-4-1 record against him is testament to that. (My one victory came because he started with a handicap). I imagine this match to be akin to a One Power duel between a post-stilling Siuan Sanche (me) going up against Egwene (him). I probably don’t stand a chance, and most of you guys seem to think that. One endearing Tor.com reader even said I would get “smoked like a Christmas ham.”
Well this ain’t Chistmas yet, buddy. And I’ve… ahem… got some cards up my sleeve. What happens if you give Siuan an angreal, and Egwene some forkroot? The rules of our game have proven to be in my favor, and so there is hope yet. So let’s dive in, and discuss what my plan of attack is.
Oh, BTW, Brandon, if you’re reading this, um… don’t.
This Saturday, November 21st, Brandon will be in San Jose for the final stop on his multi-week tour for The Gathering Storm. Sometime after that event, we’re going to sit down and play a best-of-three match using Magic: The Gathering cards provided to us by you, the fans. Specifically, he’s going to use some of the hundreds of cards he’s been gifted with while on tour while I, on the other hand, will be using cards from my own humble collection, plus whatever you guys have been willing to loan me.
Brandon has been extremely confident, boasting on Twitter that he’s “not even scared,” and revealing that he generally prefers to use a Blue/Black color deck. Although I can’t be sure of the exact numbers, I’d estimate that he’s been given between 300 – 500 cards so far. At least one generous fan and ex-card-dealer has let him go through his binder of old cards, allowing him to pick and choose. It’s also difficult to tell what generation of cards Brandon has been given. I think it’s safe to assume that his cards are from the newer sets (including the brand-new Zendikar set), yet I’m willing to wager that he has at least a few good cards (probably “rares”) from the older ones.
For myself, my base set has been mostly my “Revised” edition cards from 15 years ago or more. I only owned a few hundred cards back then, and not a great deal of them were rare. I stopped collecting right as the Ice Age set was released, so pretty much anything after that is foreign to me. The rules of this contest (which have thus far been enforced by Matt Hatch from Theoryland.com) state that I cannot spend money to gain more Magic cards for this match. Which is cool, cause I like, have none anyway. Heh. … Yeah.
Showing My Cards
I knew going into this match that my chance of success would ride on your generosity and advice. You, the loyal Tor.com readers. The faithful Wheel of Time fans who have loved and cherished Dragonmount.com these past 11 years. I hoped that some of you would cheer for the underdog, and sit on my side of field.
And boy have you come through.
The largest donation of loaner cards came from an extremely generous individual who lent me his thousands of old cards. Like my own collection, most of the cards in there were from the Revised set, but there were large amounts of Legends, Ice Age, Alliances, Visions, and others. The newest cards in this collection were probably from Urza’s Saga, which would date everything up through 1998. There were easily three to four thousand cards in the collection. All for me to choose from. That’s right, baby. I can now say I know what it’s like to be handed an angreal. Want to hear my evil Overlord laugh? Muwahahaha!
Equally as important as having a good base of cards to choose from, is having great advice. There were some great tips in the comments section of the first article, as well as in emails I received. Based on this advice, I devised a plan to create three decks, each with a different “theme”. I’ve been tempted to share with you those themes, but Brandon’s spies are everywhere. I trust him not to go searching for clues as to what my strategy is (indeed, I think he wants as large of a challenge as I can provide him), but all it takes is for somebody desperate to get their name into Towers of Midnight to show up in San Jose and blurt out “Jason’s going to use an Artifact Creature Deck!” (Not that I’m, uh, going to do that or anything.)
Another significant advantage has been that some fans have been helping me strategize. They’ve been sending me lists of cards to consider, linking me to useful M:tG web resources, and sharing powerful card combinations that have worked for them in the past. More than one fan has mailed me cards (on loan) that I can use to enhance my three decks. One person, known forever after today as Ben The Awesome, sent me several hundred cards to use. So even though I’ve got a pretty good base of cards to begin with, their donations to my cause have added the final flourishing touch.
Finally, I need to give a shout-out to Tim, a die-hard WoT fan, and a long-time buddy of mine. I went over to his place last week, we ordered pizza, drew up some chairs, and played Magic for a few hours. We played my still-in-development card decks, so I was able to get a sense of where they were strong, and where they still needed improvement.
At this point I feel pretty confident now that I have two decent decks, and a third that has the potential to either blow up in my face, or soundly defeat Brandon with little effort, depending on my initial draws. Once the match is over I’ll post a full list of all of my cards in each deck.
Here We Go.
We are just a few days away from this epic match. I’ll probably continue to tweak my decks until the last possible minute. I’m still open to ideas and suggestions. If you want to discuss specific strategies, or would like to see my card lists, send me an email (Jason at dragonmount dot com), and I’ll be glad to share. You’ll have to convince me you’re not a spy for Brandon though!
The specific logistics surrounding the time and location of the match are still up in the air. The best way to follow along if you want to see the game unfold in real time, is to follow my Twitter account. Brandon is sure to mention it as well on his twitter, although the play-by-play is likely to be on my account rather than his.
Once the match is over, I’ll post the third and final article in this series which chronicles our games. If all goes well there will be pictures, some video, card lists, and one very defeated author.
So here we go. I feel like a boxer right before the match. The underdog nobody’s heard of, taking on the champ. Just a poor kid going up against a guy who has an entire posse with him at all times, including one of those dudes whose job is to whisper constantly, “You’re the man, Brandon! You’re the man!”
Wish me luck!
By day Jason Denzel has a regular day job, and by night he fights crime as an aspiring writer and filmmaker. He is the founder and webmaster of Dragonmount.com, which really means he lets other people run the site while he plays card games with famous authors.
The “Robert Jordan” and “Harriet” cards shown above were created a few years ago for an article we ran on Dragonmount.