2HG Champs: Measure Your Words

As a bonus installment for our Premium members, JFR tells of his aborted attempt to take his 2HG Champs Tournament by storm with Berto by his side. While it may not contain top tech or play tips, the information in this article is something that no one should be without. Just don’t forget your glasses…

Virtually each time I’ve counted down the days to an event, I’ve bombed. By now, it nearly feels “par for the course:” look forward, do bad, onward to the subsequent tourney, where doing bad is the last thing on my mind.

The initial Bombay was Pennsylvania States in the Y2K, where my U/B deck – that I thought was vastly superior to the R/B deck I bragged about mere days prior – fought to a 3-4 record. This was my first major event after the brutal hazing in which I was initiated into the insanity of Team CMU, two of whom made top 8.

The second was Grand Prix: Detroit, where I went something like 2-5 in both the trial on Friday and the main event on Saturday, losing both round one feature matches. How discomforting — I did, like, bad at Magic and everyone saw.

Perchance I had an excuse: a seven hour drive and the Forsythe boys and Bagger Vance kept a brother up all night laughing my roll off on the floor (where I pitched my “tent” homophobia lol!), thus, boy, were my arms tired.

In my first Maine States, I played a R/B Millikin deck that was tweaked, tuned, and then rejected by Mike Flores, Jon Becker, and Nathan Peter David Heiss. I started 0-2, but finished with five straight wins, which I still regard as bad times since the deck likely would have made top 8 in the hands of a player who wasn’t very bad at Magic.

Then there was my majestic return to the Pro Tour Qualifier fold – Maine’s first PTQ ever, incidentally – where that wacky dredge deck I spent two months fine-tuning with sub-par cards was going to revolutionize Magic. My top 8 delusions were dashed in round 4, when I learned that I’m, like, bad at Magic.

Still, at PA States I had unsurpassed Magical times; in Detroit, I got to do late-round match coverage of Scott Johns (er, who’s he?) versus Phil Freneau, met a peck of people, and pretty much rofl’d for two days straight; at Maine States, I discovered how to screw down (a little), and met a gaggle of fraggles that remain pillars of the Maine Magic community to this day. As for the debut of “that Ichorid deck” … well, you’re familiar with that Narnian chronicle.

Thus, look forward, do bad, but still have scores of times that are Becky, Jill, and Jackie, with Lauren The Lawyer In Leather cracking the whip from the director’s chair. Then look forward to the next one, which as of this writing is 2HG Champs, where none of the above hotties are likely to be in attendance… though they’ll always be exactly what you’re thinking in my heart.

Berto’s been oozing anticipation for over two months, while I’ve had March 18 circled on my calendar for at least that long. That giant sucking sound you hear may possibly be impending doom, even if it will be mildly amusing.

If I look back to the events in which I met with success, there was an overabundant sense of “whatever.” My two lonely top 8s were reached after nearly not even bothering to attend the events in question, while the few near misses were accomplished with decks I didn’t feel comfortable with, or care much about.

Weird, eh, hoser? Prepare, feel ready, excited and sport a chub: do bad. Feel apathetic and obligated to attend, limp bizkit up in here, go through the motions: do, like, good.

Is a controlled sense of apathy a prerequisite for success?
Can emotional detachment be a springboard to satisfaction of your goals?
If you put hopeful eggs in one basket, are you asking to be abducted by the big bad wolf?
Are mixed metaphors and bad puns all I’m good for these days?

I’ve built upwards of twenty 2HG decks, taken hundreds of test draws, goldfished games and theoretical situations, questioned everything imaginable, and as a result feel that I have a respectable grasp of the format.

Cue the 2-5 watch-the-top-4-with-pen-and-pad-in-hand death knell.

However, there was a caveat somewhere up there. A big one that took a couple days to rear its ugly head up in. But it did. As such:

My wife has taken to handling most of the routine disciplinary chores, which – since she’s usually the one who is around to spot random infractions and like, bad stuff – makes sense.

However, being raised by her mother (who is the absolute queen of reneging on virtually every “if — then” statement that ever came from her mouth) renders, in my mind, much of the disciple she administers to be moot.

This is the way is should work:

Parent: If you don’t clean your room by [deadline], then you can’t go to [the thing].

When [deadline] rolls around and the room is not clean, the child should not expect to go to [the thing]. That’s the theory, anyway. But in the Rizzo household, the “if” that is not satisfied often goes unanswered by the “then,” which basically means absolutely nothing.

If you’re going to make a “threat,” then as a parent, you must have the balls to carry it out. The “it hurts me more than it hurts you” logic does apply, because it’s true.

Very Blurred Mongoose

Thus we arrive at the caveat: sometime after last Saturday at Crossroads, Berto lost his glasses that he hardly ever wears anyway. This I discovered on Tuesday. Since I’m the one that usually takes the eggs to school (right across the street, natch), the missing glasses situation fell squarely on my shoulders.

I asked Berto to find his glasses, he responded as most nine-year-olds would:

“I can’t find them.”

Me, being a bastion of discipline, not to mention rugged as all hell and a bad father, realized that standing in one spot and looking helpless was strictly inferior to actually making an attempt to find the missing glasses. So I sprang into action:

“If you don’t find your glasses, you’re not going Saturday.”

This I expected to elicit the triggered ability of Berto finding his freakin’ glasses. But he’s heard multiple instances of the wifey’s “if — then” that rarely come to pass, even when the “if” is completely ignored by said child… and oddly, a large number of the “thens” relate to “not going on Saturday.” We have yet to miss a Saturday, so draw your own conclusions regarding the effectiveness of the words “if” or “then” coming from lips that aren’t mine.

When Wednesday rolled around and the glasses had yet to turn up, despite Berto making what I deemed to be a very lackluster effort, it sunk in: when he doesn’t find them – and it looks like he won’t – I’ll have to bar him from the 2HG Champs.


Part of the attraction of that event was the fact that I got to have my son as my teammate. You and me kid, takin’ on the world… or at least a bunch of random Mainers. If he was unable to go, even if it was because I didn’t have a “take back,” my biggest reason for wanting to attend was also gone.

When you try to cast Moldervine Cloak on one of your fatties and the bad guy throws Mortify on the table… Dad will be there to Convolute that nonsense.

When five of your guys are about to eat the ass end of Hex… Dad will have Ghostway.

When you’re down to one card in your library… Dad will cast Mnemonic Nexus.

One thing I learned from my parents was don’t try to bullsh** your kids. If you use an “if — then” statement, and the “if” part doesn’t bear fruit, come hell, high water or kingdomfreakincome, bet your ass the “then” will come to pass. Sometimes with additional retribution tacked on for good measure.

In the past, I’ve stuck to my guns, so much so that the kids know when the “if” proves false, the “then” comes droppin’ from on high. This time, I thought, perhaps I’d raised the punishment bar a bit too high.

But fer chrissakes, that’s a $200 pair of glasses, damnit, and act like you actually give a damn about finding them, kid! And bet your ass I highly regret using the “then you can’t go” as the repercussion.

A quick call to Crossroads verifies no esta en su.
Additional searching proved futile.
Friday morning comes and it ain’t lookin’ too good neither.

I was pretty much sick all day because I knew I could absolutely not a) back down — and trust me, back down once and your kids will never respect you, or b) go to the tourney and actually enjoy it without Berto.

If you’re a parent, you may understand where I’m coming from. Maybe.

If you’re a teen living at home, maybe you can understand that parents aren’t *ssholes on purpose — there is a method to their madness, however pseudo-elaborate, and it’s usually to raise kids who don’t end up on America’s Most Wanted, Cops, or any reality show.

It was about two o’clock that I resigned myself to one of two possibilities:

1) Berto won’t find his glasses at school.
2) He will, but not likely.

If he doesn’t, he can’t go. Despite paying the entry fees nearly two months ago ($22 > $27 at the door), I have to stand firm and be willing to set $44 ablaze and forsake one fun-ass day. If I back down, my kid will know I’m full of sh**: flash forward a couple years – good luck trying to keep him off drugs or banging the eighth grade chyk who puts out.

JFK/Bay of Pigs… frigginrizzo/2HG Champs.

At about two-thirty, my phone rings:

Co-worker: What time are we meeting tomorrow?

Co-worker: Oh, no one told you?

I debated the merits of telling my co-worker to go f*** himself, and if he didn’t like it, go f*** his mother, but decided against. Not because discretion is the better part of valor, but because I reserved the right, if glasses came home on the face of my first-born, to call co-worker back and tell him to kiss my ass.

Ten after three rolls around, here come wife and eggs.

Predatory Out-of-Focus

No glasses.

It looks like Berto’s heart has been torn from his chest.
It feels like mine has.
But he can’t go.
I can’t even pretend to go.
And no one learns a lesson.

Was I prepared to go to the tourney without Berto, or might I have acquiesced? Not really, and er, no. But even if there were random peeps hanging around Crossroads desperately searching for a last-minute teammate, I couldn’t see entering. Inasmuch as I would have had to leave my house on Saturday and be gone for “a while” to show Berto that the “then” wasn’t mere posturing, even as a prick bastard evil father I have limits.

If Berto can’t go, neither can I. Alternatively, I won’t.

I don’t have all the answers, but I can’t make idle threats to be conveniently forgotten if they inconvenience me. While the “if” made sense (you don’t find the glasses), the “then” (you can’t go) should have been more carefully measured. But try as I might, I could not find a dignified way out.

Nevertheless, we’re both out what would likely have been a tremendous day. I’m a prick of a dad, my boss is a son-of-a-bitch, and there is nothing to be salvaged from any of this. Oh, except for the “looking forward for two months equals prepare to be crapped on.”

You read this expecting shiny new 2HG technology, or at least an amusing report. Instead you get to share in the “crapped on” part. This is not what I expected either.

“Virtually each time I’ve counted down the days to an event, I’ve bombed. By now, it nearly feels “par for the course…”

This time, there is no “par for the course.” To not even get the opportunity to bomb (for two reasons, only one of which is my fault) is about complete and utter swear words.

If you attended 2HG Champs and didn’t do as well as you hoped, please be aware that, no matter how poorly the result, your Saturday could have been worse.

You could have been me.

John Friggin’ Rizzo
Bad Magic Player
Bad Father
Punch Me All Of You

The miserable have no other medicine
But only hope.
-William Shakespeare, Measure For Measure

2HG Champs ’07:
t-minus 364 days and counting…