A Brave, And Braver, New World – Mono-Black in Standard Revisited

John Friggin’ Rizzo takes his Nearly Mono Black in Standard deck and throws it at a number of tournament fields. While sporting some fine results, it didn’t quite take him all the way to the top. However, there are gems to be found here, with various Nationals tournaments fast approaching. Will Yukora make a splash on the World stage soon? Only time will tell…

A Brave New World

First of all, why aren’t people playing Spirit Link? Did they forget what it did, or is it just not good enough anymore (if indeed it ever was)? You may have to forgive my rank amateur status for a moment, but it does one of two things (or both) that seem highly desirable in the current Standard environment: gain life and control creatures.

Spirit Link is the Paris Hilton of life gain: after you spend some time with it, you feel dirty and ashamed, but then can’t wait to try it again, or at least tell everyone you know.

Gee, guess I’ll put this Spirit Link on my Kokusho if I must.

Golly, your Hierarch sure looks nasty – how’s about I shut him down for one mana, but feel free to block with him.

Those are the two best examples I can give on short notice, which is making me wonder why I’m all giddy about Da’ Link in the first place. I guess just ‘cause I’m whorey when it comes to life gain. Or perhaps it’s that I’m tired to death of watching my best stuff get Fettered and oh, I’ll gain four life while I’m at it. If I can’t beat ‘em (and I really can’t), I have to join ‘em. A little.

It’s mono-Black with cheap, sissy White life-gain spells and one White legend – the rest has sorta kinda been run through the ringer, if not by me, by someone who actually played Kamigawa block. Also, at this point in my fledgling Magic “career,” I figured I’d be above feeling like I have to explain and justify every odd card choice. But I still do it because I know that if you feel you have to explain and justify every odd card choice, there’s probably a reason. And that reason is more likely than not: because you suck.

Very A-Muse-ing. Ha!

Disrupting Scepter – strictly not even close to being as good as Nightmare Void, and arguably not even as “efficient” as Muse Vessel. I put in the Vessel because I was looking though my CDs when I came across Muse that I forgot I bought. Into the player it went, and after listening to the entire two good songs, I remember why I forgot I bought it. Anyway, that’s the Muse Vessel story; sure wish I had one for Scepter, ‘cause I bet it would be groovy.

Someday, somewhere, someone will cast Netherborn Phalanx into Dovescape and wreck dreams. I doubt it will happen in my lifetime, but that doesn’t dampen my spirits! No matter what they take away from me/they can’t take away my dig-ni-ty. Only Bobby Brown can do that.

Never mind, let’s play. In ninety-five degree heat.

Twenty-two nerds were in attendance for NAC Qualifier 2, all thinking they are technology, which of course, they are. At least the ones who make Top 8.

Round 1: Mike Butler, Husk

G1: Mike goes first and leads with Isamaru, and follows with turn 2 Jitte. I actually blurted out “good game,” and it was close to the truth. My hand was a little slow, with lots of turn 4 stuff, and I don’t think I played more than a Nekky or two, instead preferring to let him show me as much of his deck as possible.

All the usual suspects were present, thus, I’ll reach into my ‘board for Hideous Laughter that I don’t have. Night of Souls’ Betrayal will have to do. Sighs.

G2: Mike leads with Plagued Rusalka and turn two Jitte, and when I throw Spirit Link on his lil’ beater, I get exactly what I thought I would: time, two turns of it, which was all I needed. He drops Husk, I trade a Fetters.

He drops Promise, I cast Souls’ and follow with Hyppie. Somewhere in there, I dropped Arena, and then another one, which helped me to annihilate his hand and keep mine fat as hell. So fat that I hit him with a 10/10 Kagemaro that… could… go… all… the… way.

G3: Always the optimist, Mike keeps a one-land opener. My turn 2 Distress shows at least Kami, Pontiff, Jitte, Promise, Bob, and Ghost Council. Yep, that would have been a tremendous hand had he peeled the second land. I’ll take Bob just in case.

I drop him with a Spirit Linked Hyppie, and while he should be on the ropes, the ropes are long indeed when you’re only taking one, and he’s not about to go out like that. Ghost Council hits, grabs a Jitte and soon presides over the Bunrei Quads, while I’m making due with my bestest bud Kokusho.

Key play: Mike attacks with Jitte’d Council, I block with Kokusho and expect him to wax my flyer with the counters after combat. He doesn’t, and this proves to be his downfall.

This allows me to end his life with the “serve with Kokusho, play another Kokusho” deal that you guys invented in Kamigawa block but that I’m just starting to love. I think I also used Nekky to kill my Yosei so I could time walk and Mike couldn’t add more counters to Jitte, which looked very attractive on the new Ghost Council.


Round 2: Jack Waite, Husk

G1: I open four Caves of Koilos, Nekky, Kokusho and Jitte. Shipping it back seemed like a no-brainer at the time, considering how much pain I would have taken to do, well anything, but after another mulligan and a very iffy five card hand, I’d like to reconsider.

On a positive note, I did get to throw Spirit Link on one of Jack’s guys, though he came out like he just joined the gay and lesbian alliance – perfect Husk Sligh, while I died with three lands on the table, maybe four, but certainly a fistful of Nekrataal.

G2: I get the turn 3 Arena and think I get to win by default, but Jack has other ideas, namely to drop two Promise of Bunrei to hang out with his Husk. I Mortify the Second Best3DE! and intend to perhaps get back in this game, since I have a Bombay hand of Kokusho, Yukora and more Cruel Edicts than you can eat, but Jack simply makes another Husk and kills my Yukora.

Me: At least the games were close.
Jack: Yeah, that’s what they were. Snicker@Spirit Link lol!


Round 3: Billy Ham, House Guard Control

G1: Billy gets the turn 3 Arena, while I have to make mine on turn 4 after dropping the turn 3 Hyppie that meets Last Gasp. I looked at his lands, saw Church of Deals but no White, so assumed that Condemn wasn’t coming anytime soon. Hey, just because I don’t use any of the instant Black creature kill, that doesn’t mean other guys don’t. Last Gasp teaches me that instant is strictly better than sorcery.

Still, my extra cards seem to help more that Billy’s – I Distress and see two Mortify, Kokusho, House Guard, Castigate, and Faith’s Fetters, which would ordinarily be a good hand. Unfortunately, he still had no White sources, and in furtherance of trying to win this game, I used my Shizo as a Wasteland.

We drew plenty of cards, but his White sources and six mana didn’t come online until Hyppie, Yukora, and Jitte made mincemeat.

G2: Muse Vessel. Billy read it when it hit the table. He read it again when I got his Caves of Koilos. Then Last Gasp. And Wrath… and used it to kill his Desolation Angel and Descendant.

Mirror match (kinda) technology ftw


Round 4: Jake Sawyer, Angel Control

G1: Jake got all the way up to 44 life, but ended the game at zero. He went from 34 to 10 to zero in one turn, while I ended the game at 35, thanks to a Yukora, nicely outfitted with Jitte and Spirit Link, a couple of Kokusho, and a pair of Arenas that just kept spitting Faith’s Fetters to the top of my deck.

Who’s the lifegain?

G2: I could see the wind was gone from Jake’s sails, and before this round I was milling about wondering who I was going to play. “I hope it isn’t life-gain boy,” thought I, for I really had no idea how I could conceivably deal fifty to seventy-five damage. The trick is reusable sources of damage, like creatures! Wow, I’m breaking new ground.

Who’s the Schools of Magic?

A turn 2 Distress shows me a pair of Helix, Fetters, three lands and Leave No Trace. Jake thought it odd that I took the enchantment killah, but when I dropped Arena next turn, he got it. Then aimed as much burn as he could at my melon.

I managed to hang just above poverty level by dropping Fetters on his Searing Meditation and Signet. When I finally got a creature to stick, I dropped Jitte and rode the baloney pony; all the burn in the world wasn’t going to be enough, though he did get me to two.

Gotta catch 'em all!

Lifegain is the most awesome thing ever! Except for big fat creatures, like Charizard!


Round 5: Nick Colby, U/W Control

As I sat down, Nick asked if I, in fourth place, felt comfortable with an intentional draw.

G1: Controversy that isn’t:

I put Spirit Link on Nick’s Yosei, and he considers attacking, stacking damage, and then saccing Yosei to Miren. This, he believes, will prevent me from gaining the five life from ‘Link. He calls the judge, and Brendan ambles over, bragging about how freakin’ hot it is in here and why is Rizzo sweating profusely?

A bit of banter goes on, and I ask Brendan to check the ruling. Seven minutes later, I tell him forget it, just rule so I can lose this game and go home and goddamn, it’s hot up in this sumbitch. He did, and while I almost was at zero, not quite.

At this point, the score is 32-1, not in my flava neither. However, I did ask Nick how many counters he had in his hand and he replied “seven.” For some reason, this actually inspired me to want to win this game – because I believed he actually had seven counters, and I suspected he had no immediate aggro. Plus, I just wanted to freakin’ win, or at least make him beat me.

Nick has five win conditions in his deck: two Keiga, Yosei, Meloku, and Debtors’ Knell. I killed Meloku, a pair of Keigas, he killed his own damned Yosei, and I Distressed Knell. The final Keiga was the fifty-ninth card in his deck.

Tight play alert:

I have Kokusho wearing a Jitte with two counters when Nick Wraths. I removed two counters in response and meant to say “I’ll gain nine,” but what came out was “I’ll make him a 9/9.” Nick nodded his assent, and even as I buried target 5/5 9/9, I felt something was wrong. It was only when I marked myself to six from one that I went “er, ha ha, good player.”

Soon after, Nick stole my Yukora and hit me for five, putting me back at one. I played a couple chumps and said go. The thing is, when he went to draw his card for the next turn, his library was empty.

Final score of this game: 32-1.

G2: Nightmare freakin’ Void. Disrupting Scepter. Muse Vessel. I did nothing for the first ten to fifteen turns but use Scepter and Vessel, dredge Void and occasionally Fetters or Cruel Edict something. Nick cast more Tidings and Compulsive Research (targeting myself) than you would believe, but all for naught.

Nightmare Void
You lose the best card in your hand every freakin’ turn forever no matter what, and Zvi was right when he did the preview on MagicTheGathering.com.

It’s really that simple. If he can’t Hinder Void, like right the freak now, I think he just loses, especially when Distress backup is in the house. Nick’s life went 18, 16, doughnut, and I believe a 10/10 Kagemaro and Consume Spirit you for the change did the deed.

Muse Vessel
Target player puts Compulsive Research, Remand and Wrath of God right here. Sure, you can’t play them, but neither can he. Natch4L!

Who dredges away Yosei and both Kokushos and still wins? Me, obv, but I was sweating my balls off if that’s any consolation.

By the way, ending “The Play’s The Thing” was utter rubbish. That may have been the best (or at least my favorite) weekly column there ever was. I can see how it might not have been for everyone, but holy sh**, dawgs, how can thinking that deeply be a bad thing? Boycott Hasbro!

Top 8:

1 Trott, Jason – G/W/B Control
2 Rizzo, John Friggin’ — Heh
3 Waite, Jack — Husk
4 Gade, Brandon -Boros Deck Still Wins
5 Butler, Mike – Husk
6 Coggan, Brett – ?
7 Colby, Nick – U/W Control
8 Good, Jeff – ?

Quarterfinals: Nick Colby, U/W Control

G1: I get stuck on two lands until turn 4, which is not an effective way to beat a control deck that taps out for Research on turn 4 and gives you a mere one-turn window to find a third land and drop Arena. I don’t, and he quickly drops Debtors’ Knell and is there really a need to elaborate further?

G2: I get stuck on two lands until turn 4, but again, since his deck doesn’t do anything, ever, I’m fine. Plenty of Fetters, discard and fatties did the job, and I can’t really say I’m ever completely pissed when multiple Hyppies get Condemned; it’s that much easier to get the *real* creatures through.

G3: I mulligan to a two-lander that contains Arena, Distress, Jitte and Yukora, and since his deck doesn’t do anything until about turn thirty, I figure I’ll bleed out his early counters and win the war of attrition with Arena. Maybe.

He goes first:

My turn 2 Jitte meets Remand. Kewl, right on schedule.
My turn 3 Distress meets Remand. Well, okay.
My turn 4 Yukora meets Remand. Hey, stop that.

I draw Nightmare Void and have an interesting decision: start to Void him into oblivion, unless he has Hinder, which will effectively put a hurtin’ on me, but even then, if Arena resolves on turn 6, I think that means I get to win.

I go ahead, full cylinders, with Void. It meets Hinder and crushes my lil’ boy dreams, although I’m still okay if Arena resolves next turn. It doesn’t.

Alas, I do manage to grab three Cruel Edicts in a row, which do what they do best: force target player to sacrifice a creature. Until he can resolve Debtors’ Knell.

I have one turn to draw Mortify, or all of a sudden it’s gg. I don’t, he grabs Yukora, casts Keiga and drops Miren. That’s not just “gg,” it’s “gfg.”

I like my deck, but sometimes it appears that the affection is not returned. Tit for tat, yo.


Whatever, I’ll take my three packs of Japanese Ravnica and thanks for the Sacred Foundry and Helldozer and two Faith’s Fetters that I immediately put into my deck because I’m pretentious.

Brandon Gade took the ticket home with the following sequence:

Nick: I’ll tap out to play Keiga.
Brandon: Flames you, Flames you, untap Char you, Char you.
Nick: gee gee, dawg.

The next day, Berto and I came ‘round to the Sunday Standard. He played this:

Okay, it’s not the optimal build, but I doubt it’s so suboptimal as to warrant an 0-3 performance. Perhaps Berto is still in vacation mode, though Brendan did give him a PSA graded Gem Mint Scathe Zombie, which I’m sure had an adverse affect on his game. I have no such excuse.

However, we did arrive about two hours early, and a deck in my hands with two hours to kill and a trade binder at the ready spells “theoretical deck improvements.” To wit:

Out: Spirit Link times three.
In: a land, a Yosei and a Thug, just Thug.

Think about it, and keep thinking until you can convince yourself, as I did, that it’s technology, not just because it can recycle Kokusho and Yosei and Nekky, but, well, okay, just because it can.

Round 1: Brendan Hill, Boros Deck Kicks My Ass

G1: I open two lands and a lot of three-cost spells and prepare to not draw a third land until I’m overrun with Kami and Paladins and Skyknights and burnt to a crisp. Nice deck. Mine, I mean.

G2: I side in Wraths and pray that I can ever get to four mana.

I mulligan, nice deck, I mean mine again, but do hit three mana on time. Too bad that two of them were the entire two basic Plains. Holding a handful of double black is tight in this situation, so tight that I played Golgari Thug, only partly out of frustration.

Running a couple Fetters into double Paladin, Sunforger, Bathe in Light and that Dragon Fang thing ain’t gettin’ it done, though Brendan was nice enough to Flames a Fetters out for me.

0-1 Nice deck.

Round 2: Cory B., Abrams Rakdos

G1: He hits me with Fall and nabs Jitte and Kokusho. Nice deck, I still mean mine. But I do manage to stick an Arena and find Yukora and Hyppie, while Fettering T. Soh and Jedi’ing him into really bad blocks.

He comes back with another T. Soh and Rakdos Guildmage, but when Kokusho, then Yosei hit, then they fight over who wears the Jitte, it’s on to game 2.

G2: I get three lands in my opening hand because my deck is nice. We play the basic war of attrition: he makes guys, I kill or neuter them, then I drop my second Arena and go nuts with a 10/10 Kagemaro. Um, wearing a Jitte. Kinda makes those 2/1 hasty Goblin guys not very good.


Round 3: Sean Stanton, Critical Mass

G1: Turn 3 Hyppie, turn 4 Hyppie is nothing more than gg. I’d like to say there was more to it than that, but when all your good stuff costs five, six, and seven, and you’re pitching cards like it only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, it’s all academic from there.

G2: My early Distress shows Repeal, Wear Away and land, so naturally I think I’m safe for a while. I was, until Sean dropped Iwamori – here’s me sans legends, Simic Sky Swallower and Keiga on successive turns.

Luckily, I had Fetters for Keiga, luckier for Sean, he still had that freakin’ Wear Away that I even wrote on my scoresheet. Good player, me. My Kokusho jumped into the fray, but his “when he dies” trigger met Voidslime. No, that card isn’t too good at all.

G3: I get the turn 3 and 4 Hyppies, and in short order he’s playing off the top. He peels Meloku and will be able to make about seven or eight guys next turn, so I’m forced to Wrath, although I do have Kokusho and Yukora in hand.

I drop Kokusho, he drops SSS and Keiga, but I sneak in Hyppie and drop Miren which equals combolicious, considering I’m holding Thug for a rainy day.


He attacks with SSS and Keiga into Kokusho and Hyppie. I’m not sure what he expected, but I double blocked SSS and took love from Keiga. After damage I was sure to gain ten freakin’ life omg that’s fair and get him to 11 in the process. When I dropped Thug, I thought I saw the last glimmer of hope fade from his eyes. Or maybe he was squinting because the Thug is in Japanese.

Either way, when I tried to Miren the Thug end of turn, he cast Voidslime, though wasn’t sure on what exactly. After a brief judge consult, it was determined that he countered the Thug’s “whenever he’s binned” ability.

I calmly untapped and announced dredge because I invented that Ichorid deck it even says so in Inquest. Sean’s eyes did one of those “oh snap” things like he forgot the guy has dredge. This is the reason to use foreign cards: it’s so much easier to cheat!

Sean soon packed it in, rather than face recurring Kokusho ten-points life swings of love.


I got screwed against Brendan, and feel like I also took it from behind in the Top 8 match against Nick, so this puts Whorzhov Control at a respectable 7-1, and I probably could find a reason why I should have won the remaining match. So, yep, the deck is undefeated: 8-0 and counting.

I could offer a laundry list of reasons why you should play this deck, but I won’t. You probably wouldn’t anyway, though why you wouldn’t it beyond me. Not really, but I have to say things like that to make myself feel superior. There, now I feel better.

Lest you feel cheated by my lack of explanation as to why I joined the crowd and went with white… Faith’s Fetters is too good to ignore. It solves too many problems single handedly. Lifegain, removal, get around pro: black, artifact and troublesome land destruction…

Yes, I understand that it’s a white card, but it many ways it’s an aggressive white card. Okay, it’s not, but it somehow doesn’t feel like a wussy play to cast Fetters, even though the deepest recess of my soul and conscious tells me that it should is. Likewise, Yosei, Wrath and Mortify are all very manly White cards, so again, there is very little guilt.

I traded for three pack of Coldsnap and got Commandeer, Vexing Sphinx and Void Maw and you didn’t. Pardon me for noticing, but doesn’t Martyr of Bones pretty much end Friggorid’s life? Oh, wait, his ability isn’t even subject to summoning sickness. Oh, wait, you have to sacrifice him. Oh, wait, he dies to Darkblast. Oh, wait, until Extended season.

I have yet to even take more than a cursory glance at the Coldsnap spoiler, and while the few cards I have seen have either left me excited and tingly or yawning with disinterest, one thing is for certain: that guy that brings back Knights is freakin’ awesome at Magic.

If I happen to break anything, I’ll let you all know.

In the meantime, try to think of reasons why you’re not playing Whorzhov Control, k, and try very hard to keep a straight face, just like I am nearly am right now, ‘cause I just showed you how it went 8-0.

Muse Vessel, Spirit Link, Golgari Thug and Consume Spirit… ftw.

I remain a fan of Black, and okay, I guess a little bit of White hold my nose, and, man crush notwithstanding, embrace my inner leftist in its most pristine and diverse infancy. For if I can use wWite cards (Spirit Link omg and oh my word!), then net decks and intentional draws can’t be that far away.

Aldous Huxley4L! Kinda!,

A Braver New World

I’ve been convinced since I bought the Dissension Precons that Orzhov is the dead, stone cold nuts. Okay, Gruul is fast, whatever, and Izzet is tricky and there’s Boros and Dimir and Golgari and Prancer and Vixen, but Orzhov has access to the best spells in the game:

Wrath of God.
Faith’s Fetters.
Spirit Link. Er.

Tell me all about counters and card draw and I’ll respond with even more things that you must counter, and oh, I’ll draw as many cards as you thanks to Phyrexian Arena. Still, there are those who enjoy having the power to say no. I mean, besides chyx.

As such, I took the following to the second NAC qualifier:

I like Spirit Link so much that I took it out, and I’m not sure why.

27 nerds/ 5 rounds of love

Round 1: Brian F***in’ Smith, U/W deck he stole from Brainburst

G1: I play Distress, Brian casts Muddle the Mixture. Bastard4L! He starts to drop lil’ men: Lantern Kami, Azorius Herald, and Pride of the Clouds, fading in and out with Ninja of the Deep Hours, but when he added a Jitte to the mix, I had to get Jiggy with Kagemaro, who dutifully wiped the board of potential Jitte Customers.

He managed to again clog up the board, and again Kagemaro came to my rescue. But this time, I had a plentiful supply of mana, which begat good stuff like Kokusho and Yosei and Brian’s life total reaching zero.

G2: I get stuck on three lands and he flips Erayo on turn 4. gg. This is what his deck is designed to do, and I’ll tell ya’ what: he did it without breaking a sweat. I did, as consolation, have three Hideous Laughter in hand, and would have taken delight at being able to have at least one countered by Erayo. Maybe next game.

G3: I double mulligan and Smith keeps an apparently iffy hand. How iffy? He cast a turn one Lantern Kami who did, all by his lonesome, eight damage. So I’m at twelve and he finally drops Herald, which puts him over twenty. I’m not sure how my Arena resolved, but it did, and good times it fed me. I played the “dangerously low on life game” for way too many turns, but Fetters on a pair of 6/6 Pride of the Cloud finally let my Hyppies swing in for a few points of love.

We ended up going to time, and on turn 1, Smith had 18 life. However, I had Kokusho and a pair of Hyppies on the board and was completely convinced that he had Condemn in hand. On my turn 3, I cast Night of Souls’ Betrayal, which offed a couple of his lil’ guys, then threw a Hideous Laughter into the mix, which got rid of a couple more (and my Hyppies).

He made another Pride on his turn, while I added Yosei on my side, still terrified to death of the Condemn that I was positive was in his hand. Still, I had to swing if I wanted to win this game, and to my surprise and Smith’s chagrin, he took five down to 14.

He cast Erayo on turn 4, and a spectator had to point out that it, um, was very dead due to enchant world -1/-1.

On the final turn, I drew my two cards, one of which was Consume Spirit, and did math. I served with my beaters and got him to 9 and had eleven lands in play. Sweetness is me ‘cause Smith is bad at Magic. Probably not as bad as me, but still awfully bad.

The above situation is sorta close to what happened, but perhaps not entirely accurate.


I beat Brian Smith.

Round 2: Zach Hicks, Husk

G1: Zach starts with Rusalka, Jitte, suit it up, and then Edict ends that noise. He plays Husk, I trade a Fetters. He plays another Husk, I trade another Fetters, drop Arena and load up on big fat legends that even his Ghost Council ain’t tryin’ to hear. When he’s at 13, I add Knell to the mix and that’s all she wrote. Big, nasty and silly 5/5s are pretty good, especially in pairs.

Arena plus Knell equals enchantments4L!

G2: Again, I stop playing land on turn 3, and in an effort to find more, I drop Arena. He had a Husk, and I seriously considered holding off on Arena so I could Mortify the sucka deck when he played the Promise I suspected he was holding, sacced Rusalka and hit me for ten. But I didn’t, because I’m bad at Magic.

Thought process:

I can either a) play Arena and leave myself open to taking ten if he has Promise, or b) hold back and Mortify his freakin’ day. Play A has merits, after all, it only looks awful if he has exactly Promise in hand, while play B can either rule or, in the absolute worst case, save me a few points of damage by waxing Husk as a simple 2/2.

In retrospect, I can find no logical reason to play Arena in that situation. It’s nearly a win-win to hold back and blow sh** up. Sighs, I’m bad.

G3: I mulligan. Nice deck I like no lands I like always worrying about mana I like keeping hands based on the total number of lands in my hand and no other criteria I like Magic because I’m so good at it.

I take ten on turn 4 due to the abovementioned Husk plus four guys (glad I didn’t have Mortify so I could misplay again), my Yukora meets his Mortify and he swings again and drops Ghost Council. No, it wasn’t much of a gg.


Round 3: Jake Sawyer, Enduring Ideal

G1: He gets out a quick Zur’s Weirding, sees me hand of Miren, Kokusho and a couple of Hyppies, so he Wraths. Soon thereafter, he pops an Enduring Ideal and grabs Ivory Mask.

Okay, I remember this from Regionals. He’s going to Confiscate my stuff and beat me to death with it. I settle in and wait for him to make a mistake, which I think is probably the one way I win this one.

He does.

He grabs Form of the Dragon.
I pick it up and read it.
I especially notice the “your life total becomes five” clause.
Then I look at my hand, my revealed hand:


Then I look at Jake.
For a moment.

I reveal a land, Jake lets me have it, I drop it and play Kokusho. With three mana and Miren open. I announce my intention to kill him when the Form’s end of turn trigger hits. Jake smiles, though it wasn’t one of those “ha, you just told me a funny joke” smiles.

G2: Jake double mulligans and keeps a bounce land hand. I Cranial out his Ideals and he just keeps discarding. My first play is a turn 6 Kokusho. I hit him once and drop a rather large Kagemaro, and together, against a recovered-but-way-too-late opponent, they do the nasty to his life total.


Round 4: Scott Lovejoy, Greater Gifts

G1: He Gifts and end of turn 4 and gets: Putrefy, Goryo’s Vengeance, Yosei, Greater Good. After Gifts, he’ll have four cards in hand to my Hyppie that will get one at random. I think for quite a while, then toss Greater Good and Putrefy, reasoning that I have a twenty five percent chance to bin Vengeance and just win this game.

Hyppie nabs Yosei, but in actuality it didn’t matter, since he had Reclaim in hand, and brought back Greater Good.

Anyway, he gets the Yosei On A Rope going, and while it takes him about ten turns to kill me, he manages.

G2: I get stuck on two lands, but so does Scott. It was silly enough that Josh Boucher, Thinker, was watching, and had to get up and leave, quickly bored by our lack of doing anything. I find my third land first and drop a Hyppie, then another, then Arena, and it’s all she wrote.

G3: Crucial play: Scott casts Nightmare Void on turn 4 with the following options:

Faith’s Fetters

He takes omg Kagemaro omg I was so happy.

The next turn I drop Arena and my joy fades, but only a little, as I sort of expect it to meet Mortify. It doesn’t.

After that, I draw about a hundred more cards than Scott, add two more Arenas to the mix and Fetters every single one of them lol and heh and omg four cards a turn, drop legend after legend and then Debtors’ Knell, and when I’m though stealing his Yoseis and Kokushos, I nab some of mine and use Thug to sneak the rest to the top of my deck.

How about that: I locked the lock deck.

Lesson: Arena greater than Kagemaro. At least that time.


Round 5: Jack Waite, Husk


The fight no longer matters to me.
It means nothing.
It’s not worth it.
I wonder if it ever was.
Why handicap myself?
Everyone else is doing it.
And if everyone else is doing it.
There’s a lotta guys doing it.

frigginrizzo: ← just another brick in the wall.


Top 8:

Craig Chabot, Zoo
Sean Morgan, Critical Mass with Red
Andrew Waite, Gruul
Chris Hardy, B/W Control (more ‘net than not)
Billy Ham, Wildfire
Jack Waite, Husk
Yours Truly, Heh again
Josh Pile-Carter, Owling Mine

I wonder what will happen is Josh Pile-Carter marries a woman with three names…

Hello, I’m Josh, and this is my wife, Ashley Smith-Corona-Pile-Carter dot com. I’ll have to ask Josh, and if he doesn’t hit me in the mouth, I’ll let you know.

Quarterfinals: Sean Morgan, Critical Mass Splash Red

G1: Sean gets the turn 3 Kodama, while I get stuck on two land. I’m good at nothing.

G2: I mulligan, Sean double mulligans out of pity, mentioning that he threw away a turn 3 Keiga because he feels for a brother. I thank him (though who would keep that hand?) and then a pair of Hyppies and Yukora make quick work.

G3: I get stuck on three f***in’ land, and when I peel the fourth and try to Wrath his board of Kodama and 2/2 Vinelasher Kudzu, he Remands it. I’m at nine, and if I can just survive one more turn, I can Wrath and stabilize with Yukora and then Faith’s Fetters.

Empty handed, Sean draws a card and apologizes. Giant Solifuge.

Man, I enjoy missing land drops. I put 24 land in the deck for the express purpose of not missing land drops. Perhaps I could have won this game had I not stalled on three land for two turns, perhaps not, but either way, it’s no fun to open three lands and think you’re all set. “Build a better deck, you *sshole,” the readers say in unison.

Okay, I’ll try.


Added to 4-2



Which doesn’t seem very good.

Whatever, my deck let me down a few times, and I’m sure I disappointed it as well here and there, but did your deck go 7-4-1 with Yukora? And have you gained well over a hundred points on the back of said legendary 5/5?


Problem: Cruel Edict hasn’t been entirely impressive, and Nekrataal hasn’t killed anything in a week.
Solution: replace them both with Mortify and Spirit Link, both of which rooL.

Problem: missing land drops.
Solution: Add three Basilica and don’t play 61 cards, d*ckhead.

Pillory is so techy that I’m afraid of myself, and Suppression Field is borrowed tech from Jason Trott, who was beating the living love out of Husk by making all those cute lil’ activated abilities cost oh so much more. Of course, he only had three in play comma good game.

Whatever, Haakon, Stromgald Scourge is going to be hard to break. So hard that I’ll probably just add two copies of Adarkar Valkyrie and maybe a Void Maw into NMBIS and call it a day. Okay, Soul Spike too. Maybe.

Chabot and Morgan ended up in the finals, where in game 3, Craig opened the following hand: Isamaru, Cloak, Jitte, Hammer and three lands.

About forty minutes later, he had Isamaru in play, wearing a Cloak and a Jitte with six counters and had drawn something like seven lands and another Jitte. Sean’s playing ultra concerned, and he probably should have been against a guy with twelve to sixteen burn spells in his deck.

Maybe fifteen minutes later, Craig finally drew another Hammer, and then Watchwolf and that was enough. Still, it was anything but fun to watch Craig draw land after land after land after land and try to pretend he wasn’t ready to explode, and all the while watch Sean agonize over every block thinking that a single burn spell could spell doom.

Anyway, the guy I lost to in the Top 8 went on to the finals both weeks. This means nothing to anyone, not even to me, ‘cept that maybe I’m some kind of bad luck charm.

“What you talkin’ ‘bout, Gooch?”
Gary Coleman, Diff’rent Strokes

Perhaps you may believe me that, in the hands of a real player, the deck has wheels, or at least the potential to get yer motor runnin’. Nevertheless, if you’re heading to Nats and are still undecided on the Standard portion, you could do much worse than NMBIS. How much worse I don’t know, but hey, I intentionally drew.

And you know what? It didn’t bother me in the least.

Next up: net decks, and the sheer joy that is playing a deck you copied and pasted. While last week was a Brave New World of white cards, this week is a Braver New World, a world in which frigginrizzo stands for nothing! Or maybe I still do, but only things that actually matter the least little bit. In the grand scheme of things, that is.

Love you all in Atlanta,
John Friggin’ Rizzo