Alan Webster Used Me Like A Tool

“So you’re pretty much betting the farm on the fliers, huh?”
“That and Kamahl, Fist of Krosa.”
“I’m not sure I would be comfortable with that plan, dude.”
“In this environment? I’m not. But we’re playing in a very old building, and there is always the possibility of roof collapse of some other disaster taking out half the field before the end of Day One.”
“So, you’re an act of God away from making Day Two?”

Part the First: The Grand Prix



“Dude, wake up! This is Government Center!”


“You’ve gotta change trains here, dude. Get on the green line, man.”

“What are you doing here, Jack?”

“Dude. You didn’t think I was going to let you go all the way to Boston to face the terrors of a Grand Prix alone, did you?”

“Yes, actually. What terrors?”

“C’mon, get off the train. Do you have all your stuff? Let me carry that.”

“Thanks. What terrors?”

“I heard they eat one amateur at random before the first day’s competition.”

“Where are you staying, Jack?”

“Well, I don’t really have a place lined up.”

“Figured. I’ll get two keys. We’re at the Park Plaza.”

(Interlude. Exterior shot, Park Plaza Hotel.)

“Hey, that guy looks like Rizzo.”

“Who’s Rizzo, dude?”

“Hey, that guy is Rizzo.”

“Who’s Rizzo, dude?”

“He’s a writer. A very good writer. He quit.”

“He quit writing? Good for him. Everyone should break that habit.”

“No, Jack. He quit playing Magic. I guess he’s going to play in the Grand Prix.”

“I’m telling you, dude, writing is a waste of time. No one reads anything anymore.”

“I should go introduce myself.”

“You should do that – or at least stop staring at him. He might call security in another ten seconds or so. C’mon, I want to see the room.”

“This place is kind of oldy-worldy, isn’t it?”

“Dude, is that a technical term of some kind?”

“No, I just mean they don’t build places like this anymore. Check out the doors: There’s a hollow cavity to put your dry cleaning in. It’s like a big metal clamshell inside the door to your room.”

“Yeah, that’s great. Kind of acts like a speaker, too. Did you notice you could hear everything going on in the rooms while we were coming up the hall?”

“I like it.”

“It has a bed and no bars. Good enough for me.”

“The tourney site will be open soon. I was going to head down and meet up with a couple of friends of mine. You wanna come?”

“No thanks, dude. I’m gonna head out tonight. I’ll catch up with you in the morning.”

“Suit yourself, Jack.”

(Interlude. A murder of crows lands in a park.)

“Morning, sunshine.”

“Dude. I’m not awake.”

“What time did you get in, Jack?”

“I was just heading back to the room now.”

“You’re a madman.”

“Who are those guys?”

“Which guys?”

“The dudes you were just talking to, man.”

“Oh. That big dude there is Neil. He’s a buddy of mine from back home. He used to live up here in Boston, so he definitely wanted to come back for the Grand Prix.”

“He looks like a weightlifter.”

“He is.”

“That would explain it.”

“The guy he’s talking to now is Lynn. Lynn is an old friend of Neil’s. He’s a good guy.”

“If you say so, that’s good enough for me, dude.”

“The rest of the crew I don’t know so well; they’re friends of Lynn’s. Most of them live in Vermont. They seem cool. Do you want to meet everybody?”

“Maybe later, dude. Right now I want to get back to the room and get my half hour’s sleep in. Hey, that Neil guy is pretty energetic.”

“Yeah, he’s giving a pep talk. Neil has played in a couple of Grand Prix before, and some of the crew haven’t had that much experience with sealed deck or this block or both. So he’s rallying the troops before we go to war. Actually, Neil made top four in the Grand Prix trial at home a few weeks ago.”

“That’s the trial where you totally crashed, right?”

“I’m not focusing on my failures today, Jack.”

“Sorry, dude. Positive waves, positive waves.”

“Thanks. The seating assignments for registration are up. I gotta go.”

“Good luck, man.”

(Interlude. A meadow.)

“Dude, it’s too early to play cards.”

“Jack, it’s nearly eleven.”

“Like I said! It’s too early.”

“You shouldn’t have stayed out so late.”

“Yes, Mother. How’s your deck look?”

“Not good. I’ve never opened a worse sealed deck in my life.”

“It can’t be that bad, dude.”

“Oh, really? Take a look at this black.”

The Black:

Accursed Centaur

Anurid Murkdiver

Aphetto Dredging

Cabal Slaver

Gempalm Polluter

Goblin Turncoat

Haunted Cadaver

Scion of Darkness

Screeching Buzzard

Smokespew Invoker x 2

Syphon Mind

Undead Gladiator

“I thought about splashing for the Smokespew Invokers, but I changed my mind in the end.”

“Invokers aside, there isn’t any removal here. What about red, dude?”

“Prepare to cry.”

The Red:

Break Open

Embermage Goblin

Goblin Machinist

Goblin Firebug

Goblin Grappler

Goblin Sledder

Hunter Sliver


Lavamancer’s Skill

Lay Waste

Ridgetop Raptor

Skirk Commando

Skirk Marauder

Spurred Wolverine

Warbreak Trumpeter

“Okay, dude, that’s not great. It could support a gassy green, though.”

“Green isn’t completely awful.”

The Green:

Caller of the Claw

Chain of Acid

Enormous Baloth

Kamahl, Fist of Krosa

Krosan Vorine

Nantuko Vigilante


Patron of the Wild

Snarling Undorak

Spitting Gourna

Symbiotic Elf

Timberwatch Elf

Tribal Unity


Wirewood Pride

Wirewood Savage

“Green/red is possible, I guess.”

“Maybe. Splashing black for the Smokespew Invokers might work. Still, evasion would just make me more comfortable.”

“Are you set for flyers in white, dude?”

“Check it out.”

The White:

Astral Slide

Aven Redeemer x 2

Cloudreach Cavalry

Daru Cavalier

Daru Healer

Daru Sanctifier

Daru Stinger


Foothill Guide

Gempalm Avenger

Glory Seeker

Gustcloak Harrier

Gustcloak Skirmisher

Stoic Champion

Ward Sliver

Whipgrass Entangler

That could certainly be worse.”

“It could be better. It’s my best chance to come out quickly and maybe win before my foe gets his feet under him. Pair it up with green to get Caller of the Claw and Kamahl, Fist of Krosa and it might be a deck.”

“Okay, just for fun show me the blue, dude.”

The Blue:


Cephalid Pathmage

Essence Fracture

Glintwing Invoker


Ixidor’s Will

Mistform Dreamer

Mistform Mask

Mistform Sliver

Riptide Biologist

Spy Network

Voidmage Apprentice

“Fear the power that is Annex. And I had a Goblin Burrows and a Barren Moor, too.”

“So what did you go with? Green/red/black?”

“No, I went green/white. I decided it would be more consistent than anything else I could put together, and I’m a big believer in consistency.”

“Let me see it, dude.”

Pale Mage Sealed Deck, Grand Prix: Boston

Caller of the Claw

Enormous Baloth

Kamahl, Fist of Krosa

Krosan Vorine

Nantuko Vigilante

Patron of the Wild

Snarling Undorak

Spitting Gourna

Symbiotic Elf

Timberwatch Elf


Wirewood Pride

Wirewood Savage

Aven Redeemer x 2

Cloudreach Cavalry

Daru Stinger

Gempalm Avenger

Glory Seeker

Gustcloak Harrier

Gustcloak Skirmisher

Stoic Champion

Whipgrass Entangler

Plains x 9

Forest x 8

“So you’re pretty much betting the farm on the fliers, huh?”

“That and Kamahl, Fist of Krosa.”

“I’m not sure I would be comfortable with that plan, dude.”

“In this environment? I’m not. But we’re playing in a very old building, and there is always the possibility of roof collapse of some other disaster taking out half the field before the end of Day One.”

“So, you’re an act of God away from making Day Two?”


“Good luck with that, dude.”


“How’s everybody else?”

“Well, Neil is not fond of what he opened. He’s not optimistic. Lynn has an insane beast deck going, and some of the other guys had very rich card selections, so we’ll see how it works out.”

“Okay. I’ll check in with you, man. Right now I’m gonna go see when that lounge opens up across the street. Later.”


(Interlude.”Catholic Girls” by Frank Zappa underscores stock Big Dig footage.)

“Hey, dude. When do they break for lunch ’round here?”

“Break for lunch, Jack? They don’t. There’s a snack bar selling slices of pizza and ham sandwiches. You eat between rounds.”

“Dude, that’s harsh.”

“You sound like a hobbit.”


“Nevermind, Jack.”

“So how’s it working out so far?”

“Well, we just finished the fourth round. Neil is struggling along. Lynn is doing well, but he took a match loss in the second round. None of us expected an early loss for him, given his deck, but apprently he was mana screwed the first game and a timely Choking Tethers sealed the deal. In the second game Riptide Replicator pumping out 5/5 clerics and Crowd Favorites did him in. The rest of the crew dropped already.”

“Dude, you didn’t drop, did you?”

“No way, Jack. I’ve got nothing to lose. I was one and two coming into this round. My opponent was Tim McKenna.”

“Should I know who that is?”

“I don’t know. He sounds familiar to me. He had a Feature Match in the first or second round or something, and he misregistered a card in his deck. Not so good.”

“I’ll take your word for it.”

“Anyway, I notice as I’m shuffling my deck, Tim’s eyes shoot up in perfect time with my shuffle. In other words, he doesn’t look in the direction of my cards until just as the shuffle starts.”


“I guess. But it’s so smooth that I think it might be one of those habits he’s not even aware of. It’s not like he’s staring at my cards the whole time; he just kind of glances during the riffle. I decide to test the theory and possibly throw off his timing by deliberately stopping my riffle the second before it starts. Sure enough, his eyes glance up right when the first card would have been hitting the table and drift away until the riffle actually begins. I find this amusing.”

“You would, dude.”

“I briefly considered spending the next several minutes seeing how many ways I could try and fool the eyes of Mister McKenna. I changed my mind and presented my deck.*”

“So how does it go?”

“The story of my pile. I come out fast and get him down to one life before he stabilizes. He wins the game.”

“Dude, that sucks.”

“Yes, it does. Fortunately, he drops Dragon Roost before the end of the game, so I side in Naturalize and Demystify. I win the second game.”

“Good for you, dude.”

“The third game isn’t really much of a challenge, and Tim rolls me like a log. I show him the enchantment hate I brought in, and he comments that he should have just sided the Dragon Roost out. Besides, his Feral Throwback was doing most of the heavy lifting anyway.”

“So, you are now one and three?”

“I’m afraid so. At least that first match of the day was a keeper.”

“I’m gonna go find some decent grub, dude. You want me to bring you back something?”

“Jack, how are you going to get food? You don’t have any money.”

“There’s a waitress works at that seafood place by the hotel. I think she’s on shift now. Met her last night.”

“You’re a madman, Jack. No thanks. I don’t like seafood. I’ll just grab a slice before pairings go up.”

(Interlude. Time-lapse footage of a storm in the American Mid-West. Bach.)

“I can’t believe it.”

“What, dude?”

“I just lost a game when I had a bunch of critters and Kamahl, Fist of Krosa on the table.”

“I take it that would be unusual.”

“Well, yes. Actually, creatures and Kamahl is the best I can hope for with this pile. I was one forest away. One forest away!

“I don’t understand, dude.”

“Let me lay it out for you. My opponent, who just happens to be Alan Webter, StarCity featured writer alum, is playing blue/red. I take this as a sign he did not get the best sealed card pool ever, and I may have a chance.”


“My hand is pretty good, and I’m dropping creatures as quickly as I can and swinging. Long story short, I get him down to three life before he finishes stabilizing. He’s been dropping a lot of land, and for the past couple of turns he’s been blocking with an Echo Tracer face down and flipping him so that he can recycle him.”

“I’m still with you.”

“I’ve kept swinging into him, but he has finally caught up, in part thanks to Rummaging Wizard. However, I have Kamahl in hand, and I drop him on the table.”

“Right, he’s your bomb. So that’s the end of the first game, right?”

“Not exactly, Jack. I’m dropping Kamahl early. I actually need one more forest to activate his Overrun ability. As soon as I draw it, I win. That’s my strategy and I’m sticking to it.”

“Bold choice.”

“That pretty much ends anything meaningful from my end of the table. Alan keeps rummaging through his deck, keeping pace with my creature line. And then he gets Lavamancer’s Skill on his wizard. I keep dropping guys he needs to kill so I can keep my offense up, but the momentum is now running river fashion to Alan’s side of the table. He drops a Tribal Golem, which is a 4/4 flying nightmare for me a this stage of the game. That artifact gets three clean shots at my head before I draw Nantuko Vigilante and disenchant it to the ‘yard.”

“So you’re still in it.”

“…And I’m still not drawing a forest. Forty cards in the deck, eight of them are forests, and I’ve drawn two of them. I should have another one by now. Anyway, Alan pings Kamahl with his Skilled wizard and then flips over his most recent morph to reveal Skirk Marauder. Bye-bye, Kamahl. My next draw is a forest. There are approximately two minutes remaining in the match. I decide to see if Alan will deck himself before I lose. Alan wins with three cards left in his library.”

“So let me get this straight. You had your best start all day.”


“And you lost to another crappy deck?”

“Well, I lost to Alan Webter. Both decks are terrible, I think. This was an example of a simple principle: All other things being equal, age and experience will triumph over youth and beauty.”

“Hey, dude, dress it up any way you want to, but this is a case of you getting used like a tool. You should have just kept serving into him instead of waiting for a forest.”

“Probably. You know, Alan tried to duck my stalker-like interrogation of where I might know his name. He tried to convince me it was from his feature match announcement in the second round.”

“Dude, what is it with you and feature match players today?”

“I don’t know. It’s the next best thing to having one, I guess.”

“Have you seen your crew yet?”

“Yeah, the news isn’t good. Lynn just lost to Mike Long.”


“Yeah, evidently it went to three and Long cast Wave of Indifference the turn before Lynn would have killed him. Lynn had lost the first game after going to Paris once and keeping one land. He said it was close, even though he didn’t see his third land until his fifth turn.”

“Yeah, but that puts him at two losses, right?”

“He can do it, Jack. At least one player will make it in with a seven and two record on tiebreakers. It’s just going to be really, really close.”

“Well, I’ll keep my fingers crossed, dude. You’re totally out of it, right?”

“Oh, yeah. I’m like one and four right now. I’m just playing it out ’cause I’m here, Jack. Pairings are up. I gotta go.”

“I’ll be at Zak’s across the street if you need me, dude.”

(Interlude. Two men stare at a mannequin.)

“Hey, dude. I’ve been looking for you. How’s it going?”

“Well, my story is about the same. Oh, Nick Eisel got DQ’d.”


“Nevermind. He’s a pro guy. Also, a writer.”

“Well, that’s a shame.”

“Lynn has been kicking butt like a champ, though.”


“Yeah. He hasn’t lost a game since his loss to Mike Long in the fifth round. Neil is going out of his mind. We’re going to buy him some pom-poms.”

“Why’s Neil so into this?”

“Neil and Lynn are old friends. Neil’s deck is about as competitive as mine, so he’s focusing on his pal. Good thing, too. He told Lynn to double check his deck before this match, and Lynn found he forgot to de-sideboard.”


“Yeah, oops. Turns out they got deck-checked, too. Good call.”

“So what is this savage deck you’ve been talking about all day, dude?”

“I’ve got it written down here somewhere. Here it is.”

Lynn Berry’s Sealed Deck, Grand Prix: Boston

Goblin Sledder

Flamewave Invoker

Skirk Marauder

Skirk Commando

Battering Craghorn

Goblin Clearcutter

Crested Craghorn

Macetail Hystrodon

Wave of Indifference

Chain of Plasma

Pinpoint Avalanche

Stonewood Invoker

Timberwatch Elf

Wirewood Savage

Canopy Crawler

Snarling Undorak

Ravenous Baloth

Serpentine Basilisk

Spitting Gourna

Berserk Murlodont

Silvos, Rogue Elemental

Krosan Groundshaker

Hundroog (Hundroog! – The Ferrett)

7 Mountain

10 Forest

“Since the second round he’s been siding out the Hundroog for another forest. Mana screw is not helpful.”

“That looks like a pretty good deck.”

“I think so. As long as he gets land, he just has faith his guys are going to better. He also has a Thoughtbound Primoc to bring in if he doesn’t see any wizards on the other side of the table game one. He’s got a Leery Fogbeast he can side in if he thinks his opponent is rushing him too quickly, as well. It’s solid.”

“Man, I might call that insane.”

“Oh, that’s not insane. Insane is the Feral Throwback he didn’t put in the deck. Lynn said he couldn’t see what he’d want to take out to make room for it. Anyway, what would he do? Hang on to another one or two of his beasts to make the Throwback bigger?”

“Yeah, I can see his point there. It’s kind of unnecessary, huh?”

“I think it’s a good call to leave it out. It would just screw up a good thing.”

“Hey, what round is this anyway, dude?”

“Ninth round. I’ve already lost (leaving me at three and six), I’m just waiting to see how Lynn finishes up. And it looks like he’s done now.”

“Did he win?”

“Do you see how high Neil is jumping up and down?”

“I guess he won. Hey, what’s the judge doing?”

“Holy crap. The match results were reversed. The judge caught it before they left the table. Man, that was close.”

“Dude that would have sucked.”

“Yes, it would have. I always triple-check those things. It’s exactly the kind of mistake I’m prone to making when I’m not paying attention. Once a match is over, there is such a big change in one’s mental state that makes it is easy to become lazy about details. I’ve started to think of my matches as not being over until the slip is signed and triple-checked, just to be sure.”

“To be fair, dude, most mistakes like that would benefit you.”

“Don’t be so sure, Jack. The accuracy of the match result slip is the responsibility of both parties. Penalties can be given to both players if there is a problem. Why take a chance?”

“Okay, dude. Hey, I’m thirsty. Wanna head up the street with me? There’s a great Irish pub by the hotel with a prime rib sandwich worth killing for.”

“What’s it called?”

“I don’t know. MJ’s or something. It’s Irish. You can’t miss it.”

“I’ll catch up. I want to see the standings go up. Lynn has an outside chance of making the second day.”

“All right, dude. Good luck. If I don’t see you at the bar, don’t wait up.”

(Interlude. Stock footage of a scientist circa 1950’s at a chalkboard working.)

64 Glacken, Jesse * 21 57.97%

65 Becker, Jonathan 21 57.64%

66 bonnell, brian * 21 57.34%

67 Roystan, Andrew * 21 56.82%

68 Berry, Lynn * 21 56.32%

“So. Sixty-eighth, huh?”


“Sixty-four go on to the second day, right?”


“Tiebreakers, right?”

“One and sixty-five hundredths between Lynn and the sixty-fourth player.”

“Dude. That’s close.”

“Yeah. He’s still my hero today. Seven and two with no byes. Not too shabby, Jack.”

“Here’s to Lynn, dude.”

“Here’s to Lynn.”

“Well, it’s the PTQ for me tomorrow. Neil is going to join me there. I think Lynn is going to choose to sleep in.”

“And I am going pass out right about now, dude.”

Part the Second: The PTQ


“What’s that, dude?”

“You didn’t see that?”

“No, dude. I just got here.”

“There was a huge dispute that delayed the entire PTQ.”


“Yeah. See that guy over there, Jack? The one in the orange shirt and the scarf?”

“I see him.”

“Let’s call him ‘Mauro’.”

“Mauro it is, man.”

“Mauro is a very excitable fellow.”

“What makes you say that, my man?”

“Okay. We’re all playing in the first round of the qualifier-“

” – Because all of you suck and couldn’t make day two of the main event – .”

“Exactly. I get my face smashed early so I have plenty of time to do nothing. Meanwhile, Mauro was playing a quiet guy we will call ‘Ben’.”

“Ben versus Mauro. Got it.”

“I didn’t see this part, but a witness told me that at the start of the match Mauro immediately called a judge when Ben presented his deck.”


“Some of Ben’s cards were turned the opposite way. Like upside down.”

“That seems kind of lame, dude.”

“I understand not wanting to let that go, but it could easily have been handled without a judge, Jack. But I wasn’t present for that, so maybe I heard wrong. I know he called a judge over for something, because I heard the shout. Whatever it was, no penalties were issued.”

“Dude, who is that? She’s hot.”

“Stay with me, Jack.”

“Sorry. So far you fall faster than a well-paid flop artist and some random Italian guy calls for a judge.”

“Right. Anyway, I make my way over to a spare seat and sit down to second guess myself when the guy sitting next to me screams for a judge.”

“That would be Mauro?”

“Yes, Jack. That would be Mauro. Here’s the situation: Ben is swinging with a morph guy and a Mistform Skyreaver. It may have been two morphs, but only one is important.”

“Swinging for at least eight. Gotcha.”

“Mauro is blocking Ben’s morph with a morph of his own. Ben checks his morph.”

“So what’s the problem?”

“Mauro claims that when Ben was tilting his morph guy, he was also lifting Mauro’s morph so that he could see it.”


“It sure would be. Anyway, at this point they have my full attention. Mauro continues to accuse Ben of cheating until the judge arrives.”

“So what does the judge say, dude?”

“At first he suggested they keep the cards clearly separated so that there would be no question of impropriety. The judge actually physically separated the cards at this point, which were barely overlapping. This wasn’t good enough for Mauro, who at this point was accusing Ben of lying to a judge. Mauro said that the players from the next table (who had finished their match and moved on) were witness to the infraction and would back him up.”

“What did Ben say?”

“Ben’s point was his opponent had been calling the judges over for every little thing and was clearly seeking a game loss penalty. Ben clearly possessed massive board advantage and had nothing to gain from cheating.”

“Fair enough.”

“Well, the judge went off to find the players from the adjacent table to see if they would confirm Mauro’s story, and that’s when this happened…”

Mauro: (pointing emphatically at Ben) Cheater! F**king cheater!

“Dude, that’s a bit much.”

“It sure is, Jack. And he continued swearing at Ben after he asked him not to do so. Ben finally told me I was a witness to this behavior, which seemed to help Mauro’s civility a bit. Anyway, when the judge returned, he said Mauro’s witness did not back his version of events. Ben reported the verbal abuse. The judge was very clear that there was no excuse for that sort of thing. The judge physically separated the two morphs again (Mauro had moved the blocker to its original position, barely overlapping the attacker), and play continued. Damage went on the stack and resolved with no effects (as expected), the morphs traded. Mauro took damage and went to three life. Ben dropped two morph guys and ended his turn. Mauro untapped, drew his next card, and scooped. Ben also began gathering his cards.”

“That was weirdness.”

“Oh, we’re just getting started, Jack. See that guy over there? The tall guy?”

“You mean the Lon Chaney-lookin’ guy?”

“Don’t be mean.”

“I’m not. That’s the guy you’re talkin’ about, isn’t it?”

“Fine. Let’s call him ‘Lon’.”

“Sounds good to me.”

“Mauro and Ben are picking up their cards. Mauro is still shooting off his mouth. Suddenly, Lon comes out of nowhere and takes Ben’s deck from him and takes a card out of it. Here’s the exchange.”

Lon: (holding card) You just played Flamewave Invoker as a morph!

Ben: No, I didn’t.

Lon: Yes, you did. Judge!

Mauro: Judge! Judge!

“Now we’re off to the races, Jack. This is where everything just stalls out while the judges confer.”

“Let me get this straight. This guy Lon grabs a deck out of another player’s hands.”

“Yes, Jack.”

“Is Lon playing in this PTQ?”

“Yes, Jack.”

“That’s not exactly legal, is it dude?”

“No, Jack it is not. It is also rude as hell.”

“Let’s kick his ass.”

“Jack, there’s no reason to talk like that. Someone might think you’re serious.”

“I am serious. What did the judge say?”

“The head judge handed out a game loss to Ben for not revealing his morph creatures at the end of the game. He ruled that it couldn’t be conclusively determined whether or not Flamewave Invoker had been played face-down since Ben was shuffling his cards into his library when Lon grabbed them.”

“What about Lon, dude?”

“Nothing formal. The head judge pointed out he was opening himself up for a world of hurt if he did things like that, but he didn’t even take his name to my knowledge.”

“Wow, dude. So basically you can swear at people repeatedly as long as you are upset with no formal penalty in a PTQ. Also, you can grab any other player’s deck and look at it with no formal penalty in a PTQ.”

“I guess so, Jack. Who knew?”

“Yeah. How about that?”

(Interlude. A herd of zebra run by underscored by a Philip Glass knock-off.)

“S’up, dude! Why the face?”

“I’m very upset.”

“Why, dude?”

“My opponent didn’t show up for the match.”

“What round is it?”

“Round four.”

“Cool, dude. That’s a free win. What’s your beef?”

“I called for a judge once play had started and this is what I got.”

Me: I have no opponent.

Judge: Yeah, okay. (Walks off.)

“That’s it. No description of what’s going to happen next, no indication he will return. Nothing. In fact, I didn’t see him again.”

“Dude, that’s strange.”

“I thought so. The head judge came by passing out results slips some time later. Here’s what I got then.”

Head Judge: What’s the story here?

Me: No show. I called a floor judge and told him. He just walked off.

Head Judge: Okay. In another minute and forty-six seconds you have a match win. I’ll come back for you.

“Eight minutes later I called for another floor judge who told me to sign it up and write ‘No show’ for the absent player’s signature. He did not initial it or anything. That didn’t seem right to me, so I tracked down where the head judge was eating lunch and turned the slip in to him.”

“Wow. What’s a brother got to do to get some attention?”

“I don’t know, Jack.”

(Interlude. A man walks into a kitchen. He turns three times, then leaves.)


“What’s wrong, dude?”

“I’m too tired to keep playing.”

“What kind of talk is that?”

“Smart talk. My opponent and I had to have a judge come by to work out a disagreement on game state. Not so good.”

“How’d that happen?”

“Well, he was swinging in for the second time with a Smokespew Invoker that was being pumped by Timberwatch Elf. He said that put me at twelve and I said I would be at ten.”

“Why would you say that?”

“Because I thought I was.”

“So he called a judge for that?”

“No, he was kind of aggressive in convincing me I was at twelve, and I couldn’t decide why I thought I was at ten, so we settled on twelve. He ended his turn, I played my turn, and then he came swinging again, and he said we needed to go back. The reason I thought I was at ten was because I had a Wirewood Savage in play. We had both missed it during the original disagreement.”

“So you were right.”

“Yes, I was, but we had played on from there. I didn’t see why we should go back. We had agreed on my life total, right or wrong. My opponent quickly called a judge.”

“Should he have done that?”

“Of course, Jack. That’s what the judges are there for. The judge came over and listened to both of us (including my opponent claiming I had knew what I was doing the entire time and keeping quiet). His ruling was that we continue playing, and he chose not to give us a formal warning for failing to keep track of the game state.”

“Do you think he should have, dude?”

“A small kick in the ass never hurt anybody – but it could have gone either way. I wouldn’t have complained about getting the warning, although I would have found it odd that I had one while Mauro and Lon did not. All I did was back down from an argument while simultaneously having a brain fart.”

“So did you win, dude?”

“You’re a funny guy, Jack. I can’t remember I have an elf in play. How can I be expected to win? I’m dropping.”

“Well, if it makes you feel any better, I always knew you’d stink up the joint.”

“Thanks, Jack. Let’s go have dinner and come back for the top eight.”

(Interlude. A cow, grazing.)

“What’d I tell you about that sandwich?”

“Oh my God, is this thing good.”

“Yeah, I like this place, dude. I think I’ll make it my local.”

“Are you staying in Boston, Jack?”

“Hey, a guy can dream, right? Speaking of dreams, how badly were yours crushed today?”

“Two and four, Jack. One of those wins was my no-show.”

“Ouch. Not so good, huh?”

“Not really. I can’t figure it out. It seemed like I had a better card pool today than I did yesterday.”

“Let me see your deck, dude. Maybe I can figure it out.”

“Jack, you don’t even play Magic.”

“C’mon, an extra set of eyes can’t hurt. Let’s see it.”

“Suit yourself. Here it is.”

Decklist PTQ: Yokohama

Battering Craghorn

Crown of Fury

Custody Battle

Frenetic Raptor

Lay Waste

Rorix Bladewing

Shaleskin Plower

Skirk Commando

Spurred Wolverine


Wave of Indifference

Berserk Murlodont

Bloodline Shaman

Glowering Rogon

Hundroog (Hundroog! – The Ferrett)

Needleshot Gourna

Stonewood Invoker

Timberwatch Elf

Wirewood Pride

Wirewood Savage

Dirge of Dread

Screeching Buzzard

Barren Moor

Tranquil Thicket

3 Swamps

4 Forests

9 Mountains

“And then every single match I would sideboard out the black to bring in some White stuff for surprise. And to avoid the inevitable Anurid Murkdiver.”

“So, what did you take out?”

“Three swamps, one mountain, Dirge of Dread, Screeching Buzzard, and Barren Moor.”

“Okay, dude. What would you bring in?”

“Five plains, Sandskin, and Exalted Angel.”

“Uh…yeah. Dude, isn’t Exalted Angel a pretty good card?”

“Yeah. She’s a bomb. That’s why I was bringing her in. That, and to avoid –

” – the inevitable 4/3 swampwalking toad-thingy. Right. Can I see the rest of your white for a minute?”

“Sure, Jack. It’s all crap.”

The Rest of the White:

Akroma’s Blessing

Daru Lancer

Deftblade Elite

Disciple of Grace

Dive Bomber

Gravel Slinger

Gustcloak Runner

Lowland Tracker x 2

Piety Charm


Whipgrass Entangler x 2

“Dude, you’re an idiot.”


“Look at this. Deftblade Elite? Two Whipgrass Entanglers? Gustcloak Runner?”

“Yeah, so?”

“Look, dude. The pile you put together has some strong stuff in there, but its about as fast as a glacier, right?”

“Well, yeah. I guess.”

“I’ll bet you’ve been losing the tempo war all day long. Not including mana screw games.”

“Well, yeah.”

“Dude, if you drop the black all together, and most if not all of the green, you can fill up on early drops whose sole purpose in life is to stall the game before Rorix or the Exalted Angel show up. Stall and win with the bombs should have been your whole strategy, dude.”

“Um…I was tired.”

“Tired? You had no removal, no acceleration, no evasion. Just big fat stuff. You built Timmy dot deck at a PTQ filled with pro quality players!”

“I guess you’re right. I don’t know how I missed it. The rest of the white does have a decent curve, doesn’t it?”

“Ya think?”

“Ow, Jack! Don’t hit!”

“Don’t you want to be competitive, dude? Did you drag me to Boston just to watch you roll over and die for no good reason?”

“I didn’t drag you – you came on your own! And you spent most of your time in Flash’s!”

“Wrong again, loser! I’ve been watching your matches all day!”

“You have?”

“Yeah, dude. Did you really think I was going to let you play in the biggest tourney of your life without a cheerleader? I mean, I don’t do the skirt justice, but what the hell.”

“Jack, I’m touched.”

“Don’t be. Next time I’m going to bring a blackjack and smack you in the back of the head when you keep two land and no gas.”

“Really, Jack. It means a lot to me you wanted to watch me play a game that bores the crap out of you.”

“Hey, what are friends for? Wait, dude. Lean forward for a second.”

“What? Ow!”

“I can’t believe you fell for that. C’mon, let’s go watch guys who want to win.”

(Interlude. A pickpocket in a crowded subway.)

“Dude, who are these guys?”

“Ssh, Jack. The semifinals have started.”

“Great, dude, but who’s playing?”

“I don’t know their names.”

“Why is everyone else watching the other match?”

Brian Kibler is at that table. He’s got the best the deck from the draft by far – something like nine two drops and Akroma, Angel of Wrath.”

“So why are we here?”

“I’d rather watch a fight than a killing.”

“Good point, dude. Sometimes you are wise.”

“Other times, I play Magic.”

“Well said, dude.”

(Interlude. Photo of Brian Kibler. Trumpets.)

“Well that was great match, dude. Why can’t you play like that?”

“Shut up and finish your beer, Jack.”

“Well, you did it. You came to Boston and you played in your first Grand Prix. How does it feel?”

“Like I’ve been kicked in the head repeatedly by a Clydesdale. Man, I suck at this game.”

“You sure do.”

“I had no chance to win here, did I?”

“Probably not, dude.”

“Yeah. I suck.”

“Your already making plans for your next one, aren’t you?”

“You know it. I had a blast. Sure, I had bad cards in the Grand Prix. Yeah, I completely took myself out of the running in the PTQ when I built my deck. But I spent an entire weekend playing Magic. How bad can that be?”

“Not too shabby.”

“Not too shabby at all, Jack. Really, the only beef I’ve got with the weekend is the judging weirdness for the PTQ. I mean, I know it’s only one of many side events occurring on the second day, but at times it felt like I was playing Friday Night Magic. I know the judges were doing the best they could, and I’m almost certain they were understaffed. Hats off to them for keeping things going as best they could under the circumstances.”

“Here’s to judges.”

“Here’s to honest players.”

“Here’s to a good waitress in a strange land.”

“Here’s to playing better next time.”

“Here’s to watching you win more games than you lose next time ’round, dude.”

“Here’s to friends, near and far. Most of all, here’s to Lynn Berry going seven and two on day one with no byes.”

Pale Mage.

* – I would like to add that at no time when Tim was shuffling my deck did his eyes wander in any way. I just want to be clear that I am not trying to make a complaint or accusation of any kind. The quick glance during the riffle is well within accepted practices of gamesmanship, in my opinion. Good show, Tim.