You can join me supporting children's hospitals, and you can do it for free :)

Hi Everyone, it's been ages since I've posted here and so much has changed in that amount of time. MTG has taken a backseat and Hearthstone is my go-to game for now, I'm also starting a new chapter now that my medical school clinical training has finished!

Here's the TLDR: You can raise money for Children's hospitals, it's as simple as continuing to share your interest in Hearthstone and I'll raise money on your behalf, or you can join me with your own Extralife drive.

Extralife is an organization that works with children's hospitals in the USA and Canada to facilitate gamers raising money to help sick kids. I raise money with them by streaming Hearthstone on and committing to donate when I reach certain ranks in the game. Currently if I hit rank 15, 10, or 5 I donate $5 for each. If I hit legend I'll do something crazy!

Here's how you can help for FREE. Help me with the latest deck tech, coaching, or just sharing your experiences on twitter. The better I play, the more money we raise!

If you want to join with your own Extralife page or even join my team "Hearthstone 4 Help", just sign up here:

With this sort of fundraising structure, I can raise money within my own means and I'm not asking anyone else to donate outside of their own!

--- Two Minutes is up ---


I'm a medical student (Soon to be MD) who has had the opportunity to work around the Detroit area and I've seen the challenges that our local communities face. For me, being a physician is about more than treating the people I see firsthand but also about working with communities and helping those that need it the most. I'm combining the fun I have playing Hearthstone with streaming games online and raising money to improve care for our young patients.

I've been very lucky to be a part of online communities with other games (looking at you #HMSVU and Hearthstone peeps) who have gone beyond their own internet worlds to support others. Helping other people doesn't require a lot of money or time but the sum of all our little efforts can make a world of difference for someone in need.

You can help and donate to your own regional Children's Miracle Network hospital too!

Thanks for reading and I hope you'll either join me, or help someone else, you've got it in you :)


Top 8 Ricotravels things, when not playing magic:

So every once in a while, usually while driving long distances, the idea of putting together a list like this comes together and I need to scratch the itch to put it out there!


Top 8 Ricotravels things, when not playing magic:

1) “Oooh, a new variation on a deck I’m dying to play…MUST get these cards to remain on top of the meta

No matter how many times I tell myself this isn’t going to happen, I end up spending far more money on cards in the big gaps when I don’t get to play any games in paper than when I’m actively playing. Chasing the dragon….

2) “If I had more time, I wonder how far I could push my MTG playing ability”

I think about this a lot, I see competitive players repeating great performances at tournaments and often wonder if I have the mental focus and endurance to process everything that goes on in a high level match for hours on end. I come from a background of competitive sports and a profession that requires relentless mental precision at times.

3) “I wish I could be tutored in playing high level MTG”

This is something I wish I could do, even if it’s just to gain a better appreciation of what goes through the mindset of players better than me. You don’t get better without tangible feedback, and there’s a reason super-teams practice together.

4) “Hearthstone is so much more convenient to pick up and get matches in, I want to hit legend”

This really is just an extension of 2, with a pinch of 1. I genuinely believe the games I’ve logged playing HS have given me an insight into value plays, tempo, playing around certain cards, that have sharpened my understanding of MTG. HS often comes across as the “harmless” (read, free and less time intensive) alternative to MTG when I’m frustrated I can’t get out to play at FNM or events. Legend seems like something that seems out of reach, only as a matter of time…and maybe specific card resources. (I do appreciate that there’s more to it than that!)

5) “I’ve always wanted this card, it would fit PERFECTLY in my [never really sees play] EDH deck”

This mind-itch is the bain of my wallet’s existence. No, this card isn’t going to change my EDH deck drastically. Yes, my “EDH deck” (collection of expensive and individually awesome cards that don’t see the light of day) is a money pit.

6) “Think of all the things I could do with the cash if I sold out of my currently spiking cards”

This is logic battle I have with myself all the time. I never buy more than 4 of a card, because on principle, I want to only ever buy cards with the intention of playing them. I wrote an article earlier about the absurdities of card prices in modern spiking as they do. I completely get the logic behind selling high and buying low. I also appreciate that what I do by not selling my spiking cards could amount to micro-hoarding (buying and then the cards never seeing play). As a rule, I don’t generally sell cards, I don’t want to lose the internal reward for buying cheap, by having to pay top dollar later to play with said cards. We all have different definitions of value, this is one of mine. That said…blood moons are worth how much these days?!

7) “I wish I was more involved in my HMSVU community, I personally feel very invested in it, wish I could do more”

Every single time I listen to the cast, I wish there was more I could do to become more involved. As an original fan of a cast, I do feel like work and life has pushed me a bit further away from the SVU recently that I’d like to be. Aside from actively tweeting and chatting with SVU members and the cast, I do feel a bit like I’m looking on from the outside these days. One day I’d really like to make it to a bigger event, with no time restrictions and just plain hang out.

8) “I would NEVER spend that much on a card” (see 1 and 5)



Feel free to ask me anything:



So let me preface this by stating at 3am Friday morning, I did not know I was going to be able to make it to Toronto. I was in the midst of the 30hr on call and given its nature, you never know what will come through the door. By 8am that morning I knew this was perhaps my only realistic chance to meet a good number of the #HMSVU #EhTeam and other virtual twitter buddies I'd met along the way and said, life it short let's go for it!


Given the nature of my degree, my down time largely consists of connecting with a tight circle of friends, with people virtually, or travelling to and from destinations to study. Simply put, I felt this was my one shot in the next few years (potentially) to put faces to names. I'll let the photos do most of the talking :)

HMmidget, the first guy I met at the event. I sat down unannounced, said his hoodie looked awesome
and proceeded to lose my mind with his friendliness and helpfulness at meeting all the
other SVU and MTG fans we both knew through twitter. Awesome guy and thank you
again for signing that proxy :)
The man with the marker, El Derf!! Here seen trying to rip my heart out.
Was so so cool to meet derf, I felt like a million bucks when he first did my
avatar for twitter which proxy since has put on my token. Such a talented dude,
I was grinning from ear to ear just getting to see him at work!
Ken - Designer of my current HM/BSB/Kraken playmat, I know of 3 people globally who have decided to get one based on seeing mine!
TSG - Honestly got the sense I could have spent hours shooting the shit with him, extremely approachable, very likeable guy, one day hopefully we'll get to play cube together!
TMoles - One of the most dedicated travellers to events I know, drove from hours away to be at this even and I'm so glad I got to meet him! Hopefully we get that rift in time!
The GeistFather himself MrScottyMac! - One of the warmest personalities I have met. Completely got caught up in the moment and forgot to ask you to sign the angel token I had in my Team Geist deck with me!
BATMAN! A busy man so didn't get to chat but great meeting you in person!
Had to get some shout outs to those who couldn't make it (Bruce)!! 
EvilKYT - Not as evil as you would think! He actually went on to crush this thing going X-3, attaboy!
Nick El Nutz - First grapple shirt I've spotted in the wild! First GP! Nice hanging out and talking PUCA!
BloodFrayGiant and BloodyMessJess! Didn't think I was going to get a chance to meet you two but Midget came through at the 11th hour and managed to say hi on the way out (2 hours was not nearly long enough). Until we meet again!
Finally, MattyStudios, caught in the act by KerryDan slinging the cardboard. I am so grateful that he is still leading the charge with Heavy Meta SVU or I'd never have been anywhere near the event today or to be honest probably MTG! Keep at it bud, must have missed you by minutes!
Until the next one! 

So despite having to study my ass off the rest of the weekend, I made it and met some awesome awesome people along the way. Not pictured were Trevor and Genevieve who were in the midst of games so I didn't want to disrupt their play but got a hand shake in at the least and Tony from F2F games, awesomeEVERYday :)


One thing that struck me about this group was how approachable everyone was, there was a real sense of familiarity and energy that everyone was just really happy to be there and to meet people they had in some cases "known" for years but had never met. Crazy world we live in. Next time I meet you all I want to be playing in the event. That's my goal for sometime in the next 2 years. 

Rico :)


Hi Everyone, I've been AWOL for the most-part over the last year or so, life and the grind towards my career aspirations have kept me pretty busy to say the least (if you follow me on twitter you've got just a taste). I finally got to an FNM after weeks of "too tired", "too much work", "I just don't have the energy to be the new kid on the block today" and really enjoyed the rounds I got in!

Inspired by the tournament reports of other #HMSVU in the field (particularly @tholness) I'm attempting to write my experience up. I'll set the scene first by explaining that my day started at 4am with almost 8hrs of surgery experience and being on my feet for the most of a nearly 13 hour work day. I'd decided that I was going to FNM regardless of how tired I felt, it was an experience I didn't want to miss (AGAIN!).


The local store is a little brick and mortar, old school shop with a smaller focus on MTG and an owner who is nice but a little old school! I showed up about 20 mins before tournament time, exhausted, but holding the RW Midrange standard deck I'd thrown together over the past few months of trying to buy low and trade high over pucatrade. A deviation from my usual fast tempo/glass cannon decks. After registering and sitting around feeling awkward but too tired to care, and the shooting the shit with the locals, we got down to business.

G1: Black "dash" aggro.
Match up was vs a really nice local artist who was admiring my HM/BrainstormBrewery/Kraken playmat (thanks @Load3r, it was a hit all night) and refreshing me on some of the optimal orders of play (constructively). We played our matches and with the exception of the 2nd match where I stabilized thanks to Wingmate Roc, really showcased the speed and power of unanswered dash abilities! (0-1; 1-2)

G2: Big Green
My first buddy from the deep south, wearing a big green tee and towering over me, I should have known I would be up against some seriously huge green creatures. Long drawn out back and forth battle between his ability to get Hydras out on the battlefield and my attempt to chain them to the rocks or exile them while jabbing back with goblins! We ran out of time but it was one of those grappling matches where we both came away saying "that was awesome" (0-1-1;1-2, 1-1).

G3: Standard card mashup
At this point I was really starting to drag, I had been up for almost 20 hours at the end of a very long week and had to consider being on 30hr surgical call a day later. My opponent was a very pleasant player who had been out of the game for 15 years. Really had a good time finding out what was new to her over the course of the match and had fun filling the role of the tutoring player, teaching the intricacies of planeswalkers and the like. To be perfectly honest, while the thrill of playing cards was there, this was more about connecting with other players and sharing the game state. I think it's something that can be lost when we collectively take things too seriously, but this was a good one to go out on. She was playing a mashup of standard cards that a local player had put together (1-1-1; 1-2, 1-1, 2-0).

A decent record for a first outing in standard for ages (years?), wish I could have played the whole event but bed was calling.

My deck:


A lot of people are buzzing about Hearthstone being on iPhone today, I'm happy that more people get to try this great game out.

Give it a try! Add me to Ricostravels#1196 and DM me to let me know what you think :)

Just some parting thoughts:

1) We do not live in a MTG OR HS, pick one, kinda world. Enjoy either, both, or neither

2) WotC isn't doing itself any favours with the lack of progress on MODO, I for one am completely burnt out on their digital disaster-piece. I feel entirely justified in saying this based on the amount of already limited time I've had invested, only to have tournaments crash on me repeatedly.

3) Be active in your #HMSVU community. If you're not happy with CFB smothering TSG out of the HM picture, be vocal about it. Let people know you're taking your business elsewhere. Don't let bullying quietly fade into the background.



If you want to win these:

Go here: Cross your fingers. !

Happy Holidays! :)

Thanks for checking out the site!


I'm on temporary hiatus with impending exams, feel free to read any of the articles and let me know what you think :)



Hearthstone has made me a MUCH better Magic player

There is something in all competitive hobbies that I like to call the "glass ceiling". It's not the societal barriers to the highest accolades or positions that exist outside the gaming world, but it is a very real psychological barrier that says "I'll never reach their level, there is something others see that I just don't get". This was my approach to Magic for years (actual game time probably only a few months -- I travel), others understood the game at a level that no amount of reading, watching videos, or theory crafting could help me with.

Enter Hearthstone; Blizzard's answer to CCGs, following the "free to play" model, Hearthstone has set out to create an engaging card game that their website totes as "Deceptively simple. Insanely fun.". I think it does this and a lot more.

I have said, much to the scepticism or complete surprise of a few players, that Hearthstone has made me a MUCH better MTG player. I want to walk you through why.


If you talk to some of the best players in magic as I've been lucky to do, you get a real sense of the depth of their understanding of the game. There are unique deck archetypes, card dynamics, and a general synergy that new players try to understand, but at the core, they still don't "get it".

To back up a bit, let me walk you through a common approach I have to problems (in games and in life). I internally examine if the problem is important enough to me to get where I want to go. I look at the major vectors involved in the problem and how it's constructed. Finally, I boil the problem down to the core elements I need, break the pieces apart, and rebuild from the ground up. Magic the gathering, on the surface, seems like a deceptively easy problem to solve. There are game items (cards), rules of play, and there are always a series of objectives that you have to accomplish to achieve your desired goal; winning the game. Here lies the deception, and as a new player, you don't see it until you've been around the block to truly appreciate the depth of the card pool (I still can't see the bottom), and respect the raw value that you can only gain from worthwhile experience.

Let me run some numbers past you; The first iteration of MTG: Alpha, had a card pool of 295 cards, Beta had 302, currently there are over 13,000 unique cards in existence and 1,278 of those are legal in Standard. While so many of those cards are functional reprints of cards you veterans of the game have seen many times before, it's a new and daunting experience for us new kids on the block to see and appreciate each one.

Hearthstone has 465 playable cards. Based on MTG (there is no denying that), it has come to the forefront as a game that has greatly benefit from the balance issues, and many pitfalls that MTG has overcome over 20 years. In many ways Hearthstone has been given the evolutionary roadmap that MTG (As the only big kid on the block) has laid out over years of growth and experience.


I will never get the opportunity to play as some of you guys/gals did in the early stages of magic, when there was a reasonable limit to the number of cards and options you had at your disposal. I will likely never get the chance to see a COMPLETELY new archetype shape the future of card games. But Hearthstone, to me, is the closest I will ever get to that opportunity and really is analogous to a polished version of the Alpha and Beta days. It has given me the chance to witness raw card value, lines of play that are worth setting up, an appreciation for long and short game strategies. Importantly it does so with a sense of tangible achievement as I go along, in a casual and non-intimidating manner, in a manner that respects my time and finances.

This simplification of the "problem", in an accessible and well fleshed out presentation, comprised of short, feel good experiences, is arguably the best opportunity for players who don't have a veteran players to guide them through card games and lack personal experience. This brings me back to my original seemingly baffling sentiment; Hearthstone has given me an exponentially richer opportunity to not only improve my understanding of MTG but gaming as a whole. While experienced players may be quick to dismiss it as simple magic, or just not for them, I think it provides the critical fundamentals for new and established players to grow.

Give it a try! Add me to Ricostravels#1196, let me know what you think :)