Monday, December 10, 2012

Getting to know Russell Tanchel

1 Tell us a bit about yourself (Occupation, hobbies anything of interest)?
Fraud investigator. Hobbies = games: board games, card games, pc games + reading.

2 How long ago did you start playing magic the gathering and why?

3 answers - #1. I was part of a D&D group that evolved into boardgaming and Warhammer. The sister of one of the people lived next door Richard Garfield in the USA (or something like that - it was a long time ago). Dr Garfield gave her 5 beta starters to send to her brother. So our group played some beta magic. It sucked. We took a starter, shuffled all the cards together, and played. Mana screw / wrong colour happened. The first creature cast often won the game. After 2 or 3 games we put the cards back in their boxes, never to be used again. 4 of these beta starters were never seen again - one re-surfaced in January 2000 when a friend moved house. It was duly given to me - i traded the whole starter for about 100 rares from Mercadian Masques and Nemesis.

#2. In June of 1997 my brother-in-law and his cousin showed me this interesting game called Magic. I played a few games with them, and grasped it a lot better than they did. I used their cards to build decks, and crushed them easily. One of the old D&D chaps gave me about 180 magic cards including my pride and joy - 1 Armageddon and 1 wrath of god. I built a mono red goblin/burn deck and played against my brother-in-law and his cousin combined. Playing just one of them was too easy. We played both of them against me, and I won more than I lost.

#3. I played casual magic for a while before going to my first sanctioned tournament on 3 May 1998 (You should be a creative at an agency Ed)

3 Wow that is a long time, so if you removed the sex, drugs, rock n’ roll then does that make you the Mick Jagger of the Sa magic scene?

More like the Frank Sinatra.

4 Do you play MTGO? If so do you prefer online or paper play?

Yes - and paper is way better. I like watching my opponents squirm :)

5 What is your favourite magic format?

Draft - lots and lots of draft

6 What are your top 3 draft sets of all time?

Ravnica block (the old one), Invasion block, and the current RtR block in 6 months time - once it is complete. I kept a draft set of 8 Ravnica boosters, 8 Guildpact boosters and 8 Dissension boosters from all these years ago. I ran a draft at The underground about 2 weeks before Return to Ravnica was released. According to the Planeswalker Points site, I won the draft.

7 Speaking of Draft, since I moved to JHB 4 years ago you have been hosting what I believe is the most competitive weekly draft in South Africa. How did this come about and when did it all begin?

I started drafting in 1999 when I qualified for Nationals for the first time. Draft was held at Outer Limits, and then the Pizza shop across the road from OL, and was run by Peter Coode. In May 2002 Peter wrote off his BMW and himself on the way back from the Bloemfontein pre-release for Judgement. David Pope was in the car and survived the crash. I took over running drafts in June 2002. I guess I have drafted a lot as I never stopped running the tournament.

8 What are your top 3 favourite cards of all time?

Volrath's Shapeshifter, Urza's Rage, and Balance.

9 If you were given the opportunity to design a card what would it be?

A red and green creature

10 What is your favourite deck of all time?

Full English Breakfast with Phage the untouchable. 2nd favourite is any deck with Urza's lands in.

11 In your opinion who are the best magic players/personalities in South Africa?

The top 3 in no particular order are Me, Mike Nurse, and John Wood. David Hoffmeyer, the most talented player in this country ever, gets an honourable mention, but he is no longer in SA.

12 What are your magic accomplishments?

11,458 Planeswalker points making me a level 41 battlemage - sounds impresive - must be a magic accomplishment. I am the only person in South Africa to win a Regionals tournament in 3 different decades (JHB in 1999, several in the 2000's, and Pretoria in 2010). Nationals - winner in 2001 with Fires of Yavimaya deck (we played best of 5 in those days - I was 0-2 down and had to mulligan a no lander. Won that game and the next 2 ). 2nd in 2004 with tooth and Nail. 4th in 2005 with Mono blue Urzatron. Top 8's in 2009 (Jund) and 2010 (Rakdos aggro). Note the steady decline in finishing positions! 9 PTQ top 8's over the years with 1 win and 2 2nd's. Winner of the one and only Magic Invitational held at Icon way back - organised by the 2 Patel brothers and Andrew Stephens. There were 16 players. We played 3 rounds of draft, one 16 player multiplayer game (I ended 3rd with a mono white deck), and 3 rounds of Standard. Then there was a top 2 final - I beat the mighty Psychatog deck with my Balancing Things deck.

13 Most fun or memorable match played/Any epic story about a magic game?

A tournament on 2 October 2005 in Vereeniging. There was R1000.00 in store credit and cash on offer at Emerald Casino. John Wood and I drove down together. We were both playing the mono-blue Urzatron with which I made the top 4 of nationals a few months before. The time came to register our decks, and I could not find my deck anywhere. I had left it at home. A nice lady called Sonja said I could look through her collection, find some cards, and make a deck. I found what I needed to make a white weenie deck. I had most of the commons and uncommons I needed, but only 1 of some key rares like Hokori, Dust Drinker. I made the top8 with 4 wins and an ID with John. I won the first 2 rounds of the top 8, and met John in the final. My makeshift white weenie deck beat his fully powered Urzatron deck, with me drawing Hokori at key moments in 2 of the games. My favourite match and indeed whole tournament ever.

14 Your thoughts on the current Standard/Modern/Legacy/Draft (Choose one).

Draft of course. Fantastic to draft RtR. There are many viable options and any deck can win if you build it properly. Cards that are great in 1 deck can be rubbish in other - so it is key to have a strategy in mind when drafting. And if the colour/s you want dry up, just go with all 5 colours!

15 Any other things you want to add, just throw it in here. Funny stories, dos and don’ts etc.

A story about my first Regionals tournament on 11 April 1999 - it was my 4th sanctioned tournament. Urza's Legacy was the latest set. Those days we had ratings, and mine was 1568. A starting player had a rating of 1600 - this made me a bit of a scrub. There were no net decks in those days - Scry & Duelist magazines were hot stuff, and The Dojo website was unknown to me. I made a RG land destruction deck all by myself, featuring 4 lightning dragons and 4 argothian wurms as finishers. I knew nothing about a metagame, but I had the right deck. People played two enchantments all day long. The first was Eladamri's Vineyard (At the beginning of each player's main phase, add GG to that player's mana pool.) It is a great combo for me with a mountain and stone rain. The other was Energy field (Prevent all damage dealt to you from sources you do not control. When a card is put into your graveyard, sacrifice Energy Field.). Um, Stone rain you land. If you counter it, the counter goes to the yard and you lose energy field. If you don't, the land I killed goes to the yard, and so does energy field. I went 8-1 in the 9 rounds, and won the tournament on tie-breaks. See if you know any of these people:

1Win (+3)Walluschnig, Vassilo R
2Win(+3) Artman, Clive
3Win(+3)Cascioli, Vincenzo
4Loss (+0)Oppenheimer, Mark
5Win(+3) Stephens, Andrew
6Win(+3)Said, Jeffry
7Win (+3)Tu, Steven
8Win(+3)Battiscombe, Peter
9Win (+3)Moldenhauer, Brent

(Just 2 Ed)

16 Given your long standing relationship are you and John Wood the Starsky and Hutch of the local magic scene?

Dolce and Gabbana. Batman and Robin. The Lone ranger and Tonto. Itchy and Scratchy. Take your pick