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Jesse Dana
Jesse Dana

About Jesse Dana

I started playing Magic during Revised and played regularly until Tempest.  I then played off and on until Alara block and now play regularly.  I try to play as much as possible, or as much as I can without having my girlfriend break up with me.  (She is, however, supportive of the hobby) It would be great to qualify for a Pro Tour one day, but that is wishful thinking. Although I do take each sanctioned match seriously, I never drop from a tournament no matter how it will affect my record. I would love to travel to other countries and play. At a young age, I had the chance to play against Rob Dougherty, Darwin Castle and Shawn "The Hammer" Regnier.  My goal is to one day do live coverage of tournaments like Brian David-Marshall.  Since my return to the game, I have become fascinated about every aspect of it, from strategy to the Pro Tour to even the lore of the game.


First of all, it looks like we have all made it through the Mayan Apocalypse (yeah hhh for us), so now we can look forward to the pending Zombie outbreak and begin preparing for that.  The question is, however, whether it will be the George A. Romero Zombies that are often slow and uncoordinated, or the viral Zombies like in the 28 Days Later series where they seem more agile than most gymnasts.  It would be much more convenient if we were given some clue as to which type they would be, seeing as that they require many different forms of defense…  In the shape that the world is in today, it seems as though we always have some sort of Doomsday to be ready for, let’s hope that our skills as Mages can be useful during one of the scenarios.

Zombie Apocalypse
Dark Ascension (Foil)

Oh yeah, Happy Holidays everyone and best wishes on a bright and shiny New Year.  Seeing as it is the season for laughter, presents, delicious food and getting together to celebrate family and friends, I wanted to share with you all the two greatest days I had in the Multiverse this past year and help you to prepare, if you should so choose to have Gatherings of such magnitude as I did.  If you feel it is appropriate to call me the Martha Stewart of Magic after this, that is fine, and I am pretty sure that nickname has not been taken yet. 

Over that past year and a half, I have had to step away from many of the tournaments and FNMs that I had spent so much time enjoying prior.  With that I have gone through a veritable transformation as to what type of player I am and what my focus on the game is.  I am, and always will be, a very competitive person, and in Magic, as much as I love grinding out games of Standard and Legacy, there has been very little time for that in my life.  I am now an avid Commander addict and have stripped down nearly every deck I had in order to make these hundred card masterpieces.  When I am not summoning Generals, I am either mutant drafting or tearing into my friends cubes…  I am much more of a casual player now and have truly tried to focus on the more relaxed aspects of the game.  With there being a little less time than usual for weekly spell slinging, I have begun to host a series of tournaments and events that may take a little more prep in the beginning than a Standard Gauntlet testing, but yield much more enjoyable results in my opinion. 

Fall Pack Cracking Marathons

On October 5th, I held the Second Annual of what has become to be known in my group of friends as the Fall Set Pack Cracking Marathon and the concept is as follows.  The day that the Fall set is released, (always a Friday I believe) myself and seven of my friends take the day off of work to celebrate.  Now, I usually request the day off from my bosses months in advance, or as soon as the set date is announced, but if you need to play hooky or call out sick from whatever it is that you do, I see nothing wrong with that, I mean what could be more important than the next big set in our favorite game?  Prior to the day, I preorder a case of said set (Yes six booster boxes) and my friends and I draft from ten o’clock in the morning until about ten in the evening.  We have seemed to be able to get about five drafts or so and maybe a sealed game in during that time and it helps that most of us are fast players and that we don’t have to wait between rounds… in order to get started.  If you are wondering about the math of how many packs we go through, what we usually do is have each person buy in at four to six packs per draft and use the extra packs as prize.  The cost of it is also great, as usually when you buy a case of product, you are able to get it for $2.50 U.S. per pack or less, which can make it far more cost effective than buying packs or even just one box at a store.  If you love to draft, as many of my friends do, there really is no better day than this.  Some of my fellow Walkers have even been quoted as saying that, because of this day, they are able to learn the better draft archetypes much faster and are able to hose people at the next event who maybe have only gotten in one or two drafts prior.  I am not bragging or anything, but we knew about Pack Rat before many other players even opened their first pool of Return to Ravnica.  What is also great about this day is that, in between matches and games, we talk about the decks and cards and try and help each other get better, which can often make the games more enjoyable.  This year’s event was especially fun because, due to the fact that I was unable to attend the Pre Release of Return to Ravnica on the account that I got married during that time, a friend of mine over at WotC sent me a care package that was composed of what I assume many of the stores got in order to promote the event.  I was able to have guild flags hung up on the wall and a cardboard stand up of Jace and Niv Mizzet in the hall as my friends entered my apartment.  In addition to that, I made posters that hung in various places that said Golgari garbage and recycling center, Izzet kitchen and creation station, Rakdos bar and club, Selesnya nature viewing station and Azorius senate seat (use your imagination as to what room that was).  Overall this has been a great way to introduce my friends and I to the newest set and based on how enjoyable it has been, I have been forced to start a waiting list for people who have heard about the day from those who have attended.  Also, because RTR limited is so sweet, there have been outcries to do one for Gatecrash, which is fine to me, considering my favorite guild appears in the set.  If you should ever so choose to embark on this type of adventure yourself, I strongly encourage you to do it on the Friday the set is released, for two reasons.  One, there is something really enjoyable about celebrating the set on the actual day of its release, and two, having the rest of the weekend free after having an awesome Magic filled day is pretty sweet too.

Commander Day: Legends of Pot Luck

As someone who is relatively new to the Commander format, at least in terms of participating in actually playing, I am still very well aware that there have been for a long time, and continue to be, what are called Commander Leagues, or something of the like.  Our Commander Day is of a similar nature, although the points system that we created does not carry over from one day to the next and in our group we don’t allow decks in which you can combo out on the first few turns… in order to win.  Our Days are much more relaxed and are about sharing our creativity and passion for the game, as well as our culinary prowess.

Much like the Draftathons that we have, our Commander Day is an all-day event, which is quite necessary, because, as many of you may know, playing one multiplayer game of Commander can often take three or more hours.  Before the day starts, however, we compile a group of prizes together, often composed of cards that are inexpensive Commander staples, and come to a consensus as to which cards the group wants.  This helps to add a touch of competitiveness, as well as reward the participants for imaginative and excellent play.  However, the prizes are not given out solely on wins, in fact, that is the least important of the three ways in which you can win prizes in our group.  How we reward each player is such.

  1. MVP:  Each participant starts the day representing a particular color or faction in Magic, and, if possible, dons appropriate attire.  Each other player is given multiple copies of basic land or a representative card that reflects all other players and excludes themselves.  At the end of each game, each player anonymously puts in a box the card that represents to them the player that either played the best or made the most interesting game states…  At the end of the day, whoever has the most votes is the Day’s Most Vigorous Planeswalker.
  2. Achievements:  Before the games start, we create a list of in game states or actions that each player tries to achieve, some being easier than others.  We all vote on which ones we think are the best or would like to see accomplished.  Then, at the end of the day, whoever has been able to complete the most of them is the Achiever.  Below are a dozen examples of achievements that we used on our last Commander Day, feel free to borrow them for your own Day.  I would encourage you to vote on these the actual day of the event, so that no player is tempted to build decks around gaining achievements…

    Snickers: Play an entire game without searching your library or loot/brainstorm effects.

    Voltron:  Kill a player with general damage.

    Just Try and Stop Me!:  Attack all opponents on the same turn (must be all players who started the game).

    THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE:  Kill a commander using your commander. Your commander must survive the action.

    You tried, and that’s what counts:  Survive a lethal attack (twice? three times?)

    After that Burrito I Need to Poopulate:  Have 15 or more token creatures under your control at EOT

    Die another day:  Save a player from a lethal spell or attack.

    Spicy Manipulator:  Control two other players during their turns.

    Et tu, Brute?:  Kill someone with their own general. Bonus point if it’s with general damage.

    That Dream Where You Show up to School Naked:  All Opponents have creatures on the board w/ power 3 or greater and you control no creatures.

    Near Death Experience:  Win the game with 5 or less life.

    The Chuck Norris Experience:  Deal 21 or more points of general damage to an opponent in a single attack.
  3. Kills:  This is the simplest and therefore less praised way to achieve points.  You get one kill point for each person you take out in every game.  You can get points by way of taking out your opponents’ life total, milling them into a zero card library, or any other way that causes them to be eliminated from the game.

When we have played our last game, we award prizes based on the above order.  The player who wins the MVP gets first pick and then the player 2nd in voting… We then have people pick for achievements and then kills.  We always make sure that there is an equal amount of prizes. 

One additional way that we have enhanced our Commander Day’s is that we make them all Pot Luck.  All of my friends and I cook and it’s a great way to share your favorite foods with one another.  If you yourself or friends of yours don’t cook, just make sure that there is at least equal contribution on all parts.  Having the food in house helps avoid wasting time ordering… and prevents players such as myself from getting Hangry (Hungry and angry).

I strongly encourage you to create a day for you and your friends like either of the above events.  Even if you are normally a competitive player, it is a great way to break from your normal pattern and enjoy the game on a different level.  If you are more of a casual player like myself, these events can help create a structure and organize how your day of spell slinging will go.  Either way, here are a few guidelines that I strongly encourage you to go by when putting these events together.

  1. Date, Time, Place:  Make sure that this is established well in advance and that you have confirmation from all participants.  As I have said in other articles, for as smart as Magic players are, we can be very forgetful and unorganized, we often need reminders.
  2. Food and Beverage:  See Pot Luck Idea above.  No get-together is done well if there is no snacks involved.  I encourage you to be as creative as possible and please don’t forget sources of Caffeine!
  3. Tables and Chairs:  May sound dumb, but you would be surprised how many times I have gone somewhere to play and there was well… nowhere to play.
  4. Rules Established Beforehand:  However you set up your day and no matter what the rules are, make sure all parties are made aware.  This will help the day go smoother and avoid any unnecessary and unneeded conflict. 
  5. Dice, Counters, Pen/Paper, Tokens, Extra sleeves:  This is especially important if you are hosting.  I have found it best to supply all of the above, not only because you can ensure that each player has what they need to compete without having to stop and look in their bag for any of the above items, but also because all items will be in the same place and you don’t run the risk of anyone ending up with someone else’s property.
  6. Toilet paper and cleaning supplies:  Eight people sharing one or two bathrooms is no fun, no matter how you look at it.  The last thing you want is your roommate or spouse finding the hand towel used as a means to rear end freshness.  Also, in case there are any spillages, you will be ready to take care of them as soon as possible, not to mention have what you need to clean up once the day is done and eliminate any potential barn animal scents.
  7. Flair of various sorts:  Anything you can do to make your playing environment more like a five year olds birthday party the better.  Although many of us are adults, let’s not forget that we are playing a fantastical game.  It really does make the day more fun. 
  8. Good Quality People:  This is by far the most important.  If you are going to be spending twelve plus hours with these folks, and in some cases invite them into your home, make sure you know what you are getting yourself into.  It is no fun when the people bail early or don’t show up at all.  Also it sucks when people are not respectful to others or their cards…  It also doesn’t hurt to have a variety of really strong and smart people, just in case the impending Zombie attack occurs during your day and you need to defend yourselves and, more importantly, your cards.

I wish you and your families all the very best Holiday, enjoy what you have and please be safe.


Poll of the Month

Say Nicol Bolas was to turn his attention from his normal desire for Multiversal domination and instead decided to take out Santa Claus for always putting the Elder Dragon on the Naughty list.

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