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Vault’s Denizens: Joaquin Gonzales

By: Juan Miguel Salcedo

(reposted from August 2020)

To call him an enigma would be an understatement. He's one of those players who's hard to read at the table and then wins from out of nowhere because the whole table decided someone else is the threat and not his low-to-the-ground, combotastic strategy.

His name is Joaquin Gonzales and he will incessantly hum Megalovania under his breath as the game goes on.

Q: Why do you love Megalovania so much?

A: begins to hum Megalovania

Q: ….. uhh, ok?

A: hums Megalovania but louder

Q: Uh, why are you suddenly surrounded by a menacing aura?

A: hums Megalovania but bass-boosted

Q: OH SHI---

[We'll be right back after these messages.]

[And we return!]

Q: So, how did you get started in MTG?

A: My junior high friends introduced me to the hobby. Eventually, I bought the Guildpact Izzet precon. I also watched Spellslingers by Day9. After that, I dove deep into BFZ Standard.

Q: BFZ Standard?

A: Two words: Siege Rhino. Also Gideon, Ally of Zendikar.

Q: ….. ok. Yep. I know exactly what you mean. I can already feel the pain from here.

A: I always did lose since my deck relies on luck.

Q: What's the strategy?

A: Myth Realized is the wincon. And then using Relic Seeker to get Helm of the Gods, Lightform, and Rageform. But Gideon and that goddamn Rhino are simply too much. Coupled with Crackling Doom and Mantis Rider, my deck simply didn't stand a chance.

Q: How did you find your way to Commander?

A: I had begun building a Melek deck but I've never gotten around to finishing it. I'd actually go through Pauper first before finally finding the singleton format.

Q: Can you expound on that?

A: I'd have these mini tourneys with my friends and our casual decks. I'd always win by turn 3. Hehehe. Eventually, I built an Izzet Blitz deck for Legacy but for commoners.

Q: Going back to Commander…..

A: I saw that Game Knights episode that featured Prof and Melissa DeTora. Prof was also the reason I'm interested in Pauper. Anyway, I finally bought a super budget EDH deck just so that I could play in the format. The commander was Brago. I then looked for card shops in my area and I found Vault.

Q: Which is just a short walk away from your home, correct?

A: Yes, yes. The person who introduced me to the play no longer goes to Vault and stomped me really hard the first time we played. Then again, being hit with Emrakul, The Promised End does that to you. I also showed him my Pauper deck and he boldly claimed that the format won't get traction. Imagine my feelings when I found out he participated in a Pauper tourney months later.

Q: Where is he now?

A: Banned in gamestores for toxic behavior.

Q: When did you come across the regulars at Vault?

A: I encountered Karl and his circle of friends first. I also bought the Meren precon at the time. I then met Denzel and Aaron Perez, dragging them both into the format. Finally, Sebs.

Q: I noticed that Izzet seems to be your color.

A: My circle of friends all had to choose a guild to represent them. I chose Izzet simply because it looked and sounded cool. Also because I already bought the Izzet precon so…..

Q: How did Meren treat you?

A: I mean, what else can I say? Meren is Meren. She always comes back no matter how much you kill her. Though I do regret selling my Eldrazi Monument and Thought Vessel…..

Q: BUT WHY?!?!


Q: Anyway, continue.

A: I built Mairsil soon after because Brudiclad hadn't come out yet. Then during my lifetime in the format, I had built (or tried to build) at least 6 different decks.

Q: I am never going to forget your Teshar deck.

A: Huehuehuehuehuehuehuehuehuehuehue.

Q: Speaking of deck building, how do you do it? How do you build such synergistic decks?

A: Oddly enough, I just netdeck then adjust the list as I see fit. For example, Meren decks have barely any deviations.

Q: How did Commander mold you as a player?

A: For some reason, I think better when I'm outside a game. When I'm part of a pod, I always make mistakes. "Live and don't learn.". Hehehe.

Q: Yes, kind of like that one time you cast a Mindslicer to make the whole table go into topdeck mode for almost the whole game.


Q: Lastly, if you're not playing MTG, what would you be doing?

A: I'd probably be just a shut-in.

"***** Sebs!"

- Joaquin Gonzales, 2020

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