Today, I will repeat the questions from yesterday and discuss the answers. Don’t be alarmed
by the size of the scroll bar; much of it is because of the gratuitous props / slops section.
1. Whom did I see in concert in Canada the Thursday before the Grand Prix?
B. Taking Back Sunday
D. The Used
TBS is currently one of my favorite bands, and the performance was pretty awesome. Despite dropping
the microphone during one of his flourishes, singer Adam Lazzara put on a good show. His antics
included a rant in Foghorn Leghorn-esque stutter-talk about how bandmate Fred Mascherino was rather
ornery, adding lyrics from The Killers’ “When You Were Young” into TBS’s song
“Divine Intervention,” and quoting Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road” at the
end of the concert.
2. Which of the following was NOT true of the concert?
A. Some 14-year-old girls asked us if we were old enough to buy them beer.
B. Rich Hoaen got knocked on his grumpy buttocks by a rogue mosher.
C. I threw up in my shoes.
D. The band neglected to play one of my favorite songs on their newest CD.
A: This actually happened on two separate occasions. Hoaen’s friend Scott and I were sitting
against the wall, waiting for Underoath’s performance to start (and hence, thankfully, end) and
some idiot children stumbled up and attempted to lay the groundwork for alcohol procurement. The first
two girls started by asking if we were security guards, and then they tried to determine our ages. They
guessed that I was only 17, but then again, it was pretty dark. Naturally, the way the venue was set up
prevented any underage consumption even if we were immoral / amoral enough to get them what they
B: Thankfully, he also picked Hoaen up right afterward. I was debating not including this, but
after he told several people about C, I realized I should have no qualms.
C: This didn’t happen at the concert. This happened at a bar the day before. Awkward /
embarrassing / etc.
D: Taking Back Sunday played 9 of the 11 songs on Louder Now. They naturally played
mediocre second single “Liar.” They played the even more banal opening track
“What’s It Feel Like to Be a Ghost” to rabid cheers. Yes, they played just about
everything but “Twenty Twenty Surgery.” You should download “Twenty Twenty
Surgery.” It’s pretty sweet.
(Side note: Hoaen claims “Liar” is superior to “Twenty Twenty Surgery.” In
the car on the way back from Olive Garden, I played both songs for an impartial jury without saying
which I liked better. Sam Stein – who usually listens to rap – and Ben Lundquist both said
“Liar” was better. Neon Cheon, however, liked “Surgery” better. Go f***ing
3. On the drive from Toronto to Massachusetts, what song did Hoaen make a point to skip over?
A. AFI "Synesthesia"
B. Fall Out Boy "This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race"
C. Natalie Imbruglia "Torn"
D. Snow "Informer"
Synesthesia is currently my second-favorite song of all time (behind Hole’s
“Jennifer’s Body”), and it came on Hoaen’s iPod, not mine. Torn and Informer
were both allowed to stick. I really don’t begrudge Hoaen for his actions. “This
Ain’t a Scene” is catchy in parts, but the singer’s voice gets annoying, and Pete
Wentz has to be the worst lyricist of all time. He makes the Backstreet Boys look like Dylan. What does
“This ain’t a scene, it’s an (expletive deleted) arms race!” even mean?
4. In what thriving metropolis was Grand Prix: Massachusetts held?
B. Worcester (pronounced "Woostah")
On our way to the tourney, Hoaen told me that his European informants told him that this
site was even more embarrassing than Toms River, New Jersey. I figured that kind of talk was just
foreigners being foreigners (smug, snooty, cosmopolitan, etc.), but apparently…
Mapquest’s directions had us drive some 30 minutes off the nearest major highway – and
through a really b*tchin’ National Forest – to arrive in scenic Fitchburg. The Best Western was
located near a different, albeit naturally considerably more backwoods, highway, and one needed to get
on said highway in order to find any restaurants or even a gas station. As I told Paul Cheon, Fitchburg
makes my hometown of Vermilion, Ohio look like New York City. It’s a little awkward to use the
“makes X look like Y” comparison twice in two entries, but certainly not much more awkward
than using “awkward” in every paragraph. Awkward.
5. Why did Sam Stein change his order at the concession stand on Friday evening?
A. They ran out of everything but chicken strips.
B. He realized he only had $1.50 in his pocket.
C. Paul Cheon, a self-proclaimed "food court connoisseur," gave the nachos rather high
D. He wanted to hear the stand worker’s colloquialism for "slice of pepperoni pizza"
When Neon ordered, he said, “Can I have two slices of pepperoni pizza, please?” Without
missing a beat, the cashier said, “Two ‘ronies? Okay, that’ll be five dollars.”
Sam was going to order cheese pizza, but he found the term “roni” so amusing – and
rightfully so, if you ask me – that he decided to “upgrade” to get her to say it again.
Naturally, she didn’t say it when Sam ordered. The rest of these choices are all CMEUs.
6. How many byes did Ben Lundquist and I have?
Nothing interesting here. You need 5 levels to qualify for the PT but 6 to get the two byes.
I’m only level 2 because I lacked the necessary skills* to stay on the train, so we only got one
7. How much 2HG had I played before playing in the Grand Prix?
B. one game
C. a GP trial and two practice drafts
D. literally DI
I didn’t really have any desire to play the format before my excursion to Canada, and once I
was in the Glorious North, Hoaen and I kept finding excuses to avoid leaving the apartment. Ben and I
tried to get a practice draft in the night before the GP, but I could only rustle up two other drafters
of the necessary six, and one of those two was Evan Dean, so I just went to bed instead. My sole game
of 2HG came after deckbuilding; Ben and I scrimmaged against Billy Moreno and Eugene Levin, who we
would end up playing in round 3. Whether my results-to-practice ratio is more a testament to the
random, bush-league nature of the format or to my uncanny spell-flinging prowess is for the
philosophers to decide.
8. Before the tournament, who did I predict would win?
A. Hoaen / Tsumura
B. Sittner / Sittner
C. O’Mahoney-Schwartz / Wang
D. me obv
Alex “John” Sittner rose from complete obscurity to level 3 pro in the span of several
months. I played him three times at Nationals (going 1-2 against him), and I still have no
idea how good he actually is. Because he’s so unassuming and seemingly random, he’s my
default prediction to win anything he plays in.
(Side note: Both Sittners are excruciatingly nice people. Not only did I predict they would win, I
was kinda hoping they would.)
9. Which of the following happened in our match against the Ruel brothers?
A. Both teams had a Pyrohemia in play.
B. I insisted that a judge shuffle my deck rather than Olivier.
C. There was a 15-minute judge ruling.
D. Ben Lundquist lost all faith in me as a teammate.
The only other option that was close to true is A. We made Antoine discard his Pyrohemia to
Psychotic Episode, but Antoine opted not to make me discard mine with his Episode; he simply waited for
Olivier to kill it with Kestrel the turn after I played it.
The judge ruling was over the following situation. The Ruels attacked with, among other creatures,
he was prepared to choose Clockwork Hydra as the damage source. Olivier responded to that with
a Stonewood Invocation on the Looter.
Since Kor Dirge has two targets, it wouldn’t be countered on resolution because one of the
targets became illegal. I assumed correctly that the Kor Dirge would still resolve, but that it would
effectively do nothing. Ben and I asked the Ruels if this was the case, and they agreed that it was.
When Ben asked if Antoine was sure, Antoine admitted that he wasn’t, in fact, 100% positive. Ben
and Antoine basically concurred that the best course of action was to call a judge to ascertain this,
because after all, what could it hurt? We were about to find out.
One of the best judges ever (John Carter, if memory serves), saw me raise my hand and was on his
way over, but a different judge barely beat him to the table. I explained the entire situation at a
medium pace**, upon which time the judge instantly asked me to start over. I sighed heavily and put my
head down on the table, which, to be fair, was not particularly adult of me. I soon realized that the
judge in question was a trainee, and several times during the process he got flustered and tried to
step down in order to let someone more experienced take care of things. He was summarily denied.
After five minutes of us explaining and the judge trying to sort through the information – and I
don’t remember if he ever reached a decision – we appealed, and the hapless rookie left to confer
with Sheldon Menery. They were gone for some seven more minutes, and then we had to explain the
situation to Sheldon. At first, he told us that the Dirge was simply countered on resolution because
its target was no longer legal; he didn’t realize that the spell had two targets. Finally, the
situation was sorted out, and play resumed. The moral of this story? Never call a judge.
Well, that’s not actually the moral, but it would kind of be the one that a player relatively
new to the DCI would have gleaned if he had been in my position. I sympathize with the tenderfoot and
all, and I understand why they want to give new judges a trial by fire, but there has to be a better
10. In the last round of Day 1, what card did Matt Wang play on the first extra turn that converted
Thanks to a turn 1 Essence Warden on the other side of the board and Ben’s mana shortage, OMS
and Wang were in a dominating position all game. I was forced to repeatedly block their Aven
Riftwatcher with Aether Membrane, and their life total peaked somewhere just south of 70. However, they
overextended into Ben’s Damnation, we Enslaved a blocker, and the game looked to be turning
the game looked relatively stable as we headed into extra innings. We were at a semi-precarious 15
life, while Team OMS was still above 30; a draw seemed likely unless they topdecked something saucy.
On the first extra turn, Wang played the Magus with four lands untapped and one card left in hand
of relevance, and on the final turn of the match, OMS Rift Bolted our nug before Wang cracked the
Magus. Ben failed to draw Angel’s Grace (he hadn’t drawn it all day), and after a few
(Side note: Our decks were pretty good. We got to finish our round six opponents off with Volcano
Syphon-Mage, but combined with the aforementioned Angel’s Grace, Stuffy and the Hellion could
theoretically win any game on the spot regardless of ours and our opponents’ life totals.
11. Why did I refuse to sign someone’s Tim Aten cards at the end of day one?
A. They were J. Evan Dean’s, and he was just being a moron.
B. I only sign in silver ink, and he had a regular old Sharpie.
C. I wanted to get to Olive Garden before it closed.
D. I was infuriated at the manner in which we had just lost.
I will admit I wasn’t particularly happy about how we had just lost, but I wasn’t angry
either. It was more “disappointment.” I didn’t really care much about winning or
losing beyond the concern of potentially letting my teammate down. Even with “only” seven
rounds, 2HG GPs are long-ass tourneys. It was somewhere around 9:30 when round 7 ended, I didn’t
know how late the world-renowned Fitchburg Olive Garden was open or how far away it was, and I wanted
to be sure I would be jamming breadsticks down my gullet-hole that evening. I told the fella I’d
sign them the next day, but he never bothered to find me again. Tragic, really, for both of us.
(Bonus 21st question that I’m not actually going to answer myself so you’ll just have
to figure it out or ask someone who knows: I claim that my card is the rarest of the bunch, and
there’s a good chance I’m right. Why is this?)
Ben’s deck was awesome, but mine came up a little short. Molder is perfectly acceptable since
you have two opponents’ worth of decks in which to find a worthy target for it. In round 9, for
instance, I ended up killing Rich’s Weatherseed Totem in response to him activating it. Healing
Leaves is more “interesting,” but really, a trick is a trick. Theoretically, there would be
no shame in playing a nice Leaves over your 18th creature if you have no better non-creature options;
I’d actually recommend it. Creature glut was not an issue with my deck and hence not my reason
for including Leaves at the GP. Here, our pod had two high-caliber teams (Ruud / Quentin and Kenji /
Hoaen). When I’m playing in team drafts, especially against good players, I like to play
consideration when making attacks and such, but they might be less inclined to worry about the
rarely-played Leaves. As I mentioned, it’s not like Leaves is bad – many tricks are more or less
interchangeable – it just happens to be slightly weaker than many other options. The surprise value,
however, can push it up to par in certain situations.
That’s just my take on it. I could be a moron.
As for the mountain, I had a Strangling Soot, and even though my deck was rather “the
loose,” I could afford to dedicate a land slot to the sole purpose of flashing the Soot back.
Before we started playing, I showed John Pelcak the most embarrassing opening hand I could think of. It
Kestrel, and Utopia Vow. Sure enough, in the match against Ruud and Quentin, they Psychotic Episoded me
Woodreaders. The top card? I probably shouldn’t have to spell it out at this point.
(Side note: Late in the game against Warmhouse / Martin, Quentin played Careful Consideration on
himself. I reflexively gave him the “okay.” A few seconds later Ben tapped me on the
shoulder with a look of horror on his face and showed me once again the Reiterate he had drawn on our
previous turn. Awkward to say the least… and yet somehow, that mistake may have won us the game.
Quentin’s Consideration didn’t get him anything interesting, but Ruud cast a Dead / Gone
that we were able to copy with tha buyback. Don’t you just love happy endings?)
13. What was unique about our match against Takuya Oosawa and Shouta Yasooka?
A. It was a feature match.
B. Ben got a headache seven turns in, so I basically had to finish the match by myself.
C. It was the only time I saw someone mulligan below 7 cards.
D. Ben and I finished the game at 30 life.
A: Yes, it was a feature match, but that’s by no means unique. We also had a feature round 13
against one Jeff Butz.
B: Ben got a headache in the Butz match, but he toughed it out like the real trouper he is.
C: The free mulligan rule is awesome. Between that and the fact that one member of the team that
goes first gets a draw step on the first turn, it’s pretty rare for a team to start with an ugly,
unplayable hand. Takuya stayed on 7, but Shota actually had to go all the way down to 5… on the
play… and he was the Head that didn’t get to draw. Naturally, they still made a game out of
it because Japanese lucky et cetera, but as the coverage indicated, there was much flag-waving and
ballyhoo upon the match’s conclusion.
(Side note: Count the number of non-Americans in the top 4.)
14. In round 11, Steve OMS and Matt Wang defeated us again despite what early-game development?
A. We Stupored away OMS’s only Green source, and he didn’t draw another until turn 8.
B. They played an Essence Warden on turns 1 and 2; I played a turn 2 Kavu Predator.
C. I played a Smallpox on turns 2 and 3.
D. We had six cards suspended by the end of our third turn.
Okaysolike… in the last match Shota or Shouta or Shoouta or Rumpelstiltskin or whatever
triple-mulled (to 5) and still played a spell every turn – but that paled in comparison to the horrors
that awaited us in the ensuing round. Steve-O and Wang won the die roll, naturally, since they’re
so very lucky and I’m so very unlucky, and the world owes me / I go to church / it’s just
As I had a Smallpox in hand, I was simply elated. We 5-for-6ed them or whatever and shipped it on back.
On their third turn, I was a little dismayed to see them both play a land and another two-drop each –
may? I guess? – when I saw what my third draw step yielded: Smallpox Number Two***. We got ‘em
again without losing any of our own creatures, and then do you know what happened? Do you? Correct.
After Steve-O missed one land drop, both he and Wang drew the perfect combination of lands and spells
every single turn for the rest of the game. God bless ‘em. I guess when you think of a Smallpox
that kills two opposing creatures but none of your own as a mere 5-for-6 (Smallpox, 2 cards, 2 lands
versus 2 cards, 2 lands, 2 creatures), it’s not really that crippling.
In a word, roffle.
16. Ian Spaulding taught some “professionals” a new draft format. Who is the undisputed
This type of draft is possibly the best two-man format ever, but it can also be played as a regular
draft with more people or with teams. Each person gets three random boosters. The more random they are,
the more skill-testing and fun it is, so it’s best if you have as much variety as possible.
Don’t play with Unhinged, though****. That’s just stupid. Draft the cards as normal; this
can be done face-up after the first pick of each pack if you’re playing with just two people.
During “deck construction,” simply cut five cards from your deck, and you’re
ready to play. Monocolored cards can be played as either themselves or as basic lands of the
corresponding color; multicolored cards can become nonbasic lands that come into play tapped and tap
for one mana of any color in their casting costs (i.e. Psychatog would become a Salt Marsh); and
artifacts can be played as lands that tap for colorless. If I understood correctly, once you play
something as a land, it remains a land even if it switches zones, but I’m not certain if this is
the case. Other than that, it’s just regular Magic. If someone familiar with the format noticed
something I missed or knows what the format is called, please pipe up in the forums.
Gabe Walls took on many skillful comers (none of whom were Alan, hur hur hur) and emerged
undefeated. It took many challengers before he even lost a game.
17. Which Top 4 team did all three of the other teams want to play against and knock out?
A. Fabiano / Ziegler
B. Aten / Lundquist
C. Rubin / DiPalma
D. O’Mahoney-Schwartz / Wang
MattR wanted to knock me out because he hates me. The reasons for this hardly seem relevant, so
don’t bother asking me why. Gerard is good friends with MattR, so for that reason (and I think
more), he’s not a particularly big fan of mine either. OMS simply wanted to complete his hat
18. When I call Ruud Warmenhoven “Fred” (the American equivalent of Ruud), what does he
call me back?
I’m pretty sure Ruud is convinced that Fred is somehow derogatory; it’s not. The whole
“Americanizing of foreign names” is just something Ravitz, Julien, and I cooked up at GP
Salt Lake City. Here are some newer examples:
Foreign Name – U.S. Name
Marcio Carvalho – Marshall Carver
Makahito Mihara – Max Harland
Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa – Paul Rose
Guillaume Wafo-Tapa – Billy Waffles
Jan-Moritz Merkel – John Mortensen
Bernardo da Costa Cabral – Bernie Kosar
Shouta Yasooka – Rumpelstiltskin Sutherland
Ruud Warmenhoven just becomes “Fred Warmhouse.” (You may have thought Ruud translates
to “Rudy,” but you would have been incorrect.) That’s all there is to it – nothing
malicious, just sheer tomfoolery. And yet, whenever I say it, Ruud feels the need to compare me to
Napoleon Dynamite. I’m not going to claim that’s not an apt comparison – of every fictional
character I’ve heard of, I think the most accurate depiction of me would be a cross between
Napoleon Dynamite and Donnie Darko – but if there’s anyone who, for instance,
looks more like Napoleon Dynamite than I do, it’s Fred Warmhouse.
I mean c’mon.
19. Sunday night after the GP, what card name did Kenji Tsumura utter repeatedly in reference to
Tragically, I did not get to witness this firsthand; I heard about it from Hoaen afterward. From my
understanding, in addition to just saying it “for val” as the kids say, he would substitute
20. Who insulted my luggage (just a laundry basket again, since I was too lazy to pack a suitcase)
Sheldon Menery is completely awesome. He’s a ridiculously good judge (obviously), and
he’s actually a really awesome person.
Did that description make you think of the part in Mean Girls where Janis is chewing out Cady for
turning into an actual Plastic after ditching Janis’s art show? Don’t act like you
don’t know what I’m talking about.
Oh and also, how pathetic am I? I’m turning into a real-life hobo. The hair, the laundry
basket, the intermittent shaving, the throwing up all over myself… it’s pretty
embarrassing. It may be time to turn over a new leaf.
And now, since this was more or less a tournament report, it’s time for the Praps and Slaps.
Antonino De Rosa
Roel van Heeswijk
Xiao Ying Ren
That’s all for this week and – who are we kidding? – probably month as well. It’s time
for some song lyrics and the ol’ signoff. Goodnight, kids!
It’s tearin’ up my heart when I’m with you
And when we are apart I feel it toooo
And no matter what I do I feel the paaaaaain
WITH OR WITHOUT YOUUU
Timothy James Aten
chester6561 on AIM (I’ve been bored lately so I may actually respond)
*Ability to tolerate airports and European hotel rooms.
**Pretend I’m the pizza delivery guy and…
***We’er are. No, this footnote probably won’t make sense to anyone but Hoaen.
****Or Unglued, you unspeakable nerd.