Being Mugged: The Ferrett Goes For The Pro Tour

Have you ever been mugged? I’ll tell you, it’s irritating. Not because you’ve lost some money; yeah, the financial hit’s a hassle, and you’re gonna be eating macaroni and cheese for a couple of weeks… but in the end, it’s just a couple of bucks. You’ll survive. What twists in your gut, what burns deep…

Have you ever been mugged?

I’ll tell you, it’s irritating.

Not because you’ve lost some money; yeah, the financial hit’s a hassle, and you’re gonna be eating macaroni and cheese for a couple of weeks… but in the end, it’s just a couple of bucks. You’ll survive.

What twists in your gut, what burns deep inside, is the UNFAIRNESS of it all.

Because everyone has this image of the mastermind criminal – Professor Moriarty plotting from a lair deep inside London, or Alan Rickman giving that cocky sneer as he moves his terrorists in with his supersecret plan. But the truth is that most criminals are idiots. If you get mugged, it’s going to be by a guy who’s probably a lot dumber than you. He’s also likely to be weaker than you, especially if he holds a gun.

As you’re getting robbed, you know – KNOW! – that in almost every way that counts that you are, on almost any measure one would care to rule you up against, quantifiably better than this guy who’s taking your money…

…except he has the knife at your back.

That’s all that counts now.

And that’s what writhes in your gut like a snake, twisting, making you sick. That on ANY OTHER BATTLEFIELD you’d turn this guy into a soft reddish paste, but in this one arena he’s supreme…

…and you can’t beat him. He’s got the advantage. And more than that, he’s THRILLED to have the advantage, because he knows damn well he can’t have it anywhere else. And he rubs it in. He laughs. He wants you to know that he beat you here, that he’d probably beat you again if he caught you here again, and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.

Go home without your money, loser.


You. Suck.

And there really isn’t anything you CAN do, even afterwards. You’re probably not going to run into him again, and even if you did – what are you gonna do? You’re not Batman, for Chrissakes. You don’t have the time or the Batcave to train your body to the Nth degree, to track and hunt criminals through the murky underworld of, say, Passaic, New Jersey, and find him and take HIS money…

So you let it go. You start counting your other advantages obsessively. You’re going to live longer. You are smarter. You probably have a brighter future, more reliable friends, a better life, a greater grasp of the metagame.

But deep down, it really doesn’t matter, does it?


You got chumped.

And that feeling never goes away.

So raise your hands, everybody: Who here never got mugged at a tourney?

Or at a Magic game in general?

They didn’t have to take your money OR your cards. All they had to do was take your pride when they beat you.

They are the Muggers of Magic.

Because let’s be honest: Everybody knows the local, cocky "pro" who gleefully stomps all contenders, no matter what their age, with the intent to not only win, but to desecrate their opponent’s morale. He can’t just win; he has to HUMILIATE. The kind of jerk who’ll sit there, call your entire deck "gay" – a term I, as an editor, have banned from this site – try to get his pals to hang around and mock you, and then refer to you as a scrub the entire time he’s handing you your butt on a platter.

The kind of person who could care less about honor, decency, or respect as long as he pulls out the win to make his own pathetic self feel better.

The kind of person who basically shames the whole concept of Magic.

And these kind of people flourish in tourneys, because nobody in their right mind would play with them unless it was for a prize.

Now if that’s not you – and keep in mind that it probably isn’t – then fine. Most people who play in tourneys can manage to win without walloping their opponents, calling ’em "scrubs," or destroying small kids for fun and profit. That’s the mistake I’ve made before in my previous tirades – in spouting off about a certain type of people, I have tarred a larger group with the same vitriolic brush.

I’ve talked with a lot of the pros. They’re cool, Jack. I just sent Aaron Forsythe his very own Reya, Dawnbringer for getting in the right answer on last week’s column. (And I’m sending out another Reya, since I feel kind of bad about giving one to a "name" player when the Teeming Millions deserve reward too.) David Price is the consummate professional. I am, in fact, willing to vouch for most of you.

But that doesn’t excuse the bad ones.

Because you KNOW who I’m talkin’ about. You’re out there. And at least three or four of you write me a month to tell me how *I* suck. (Got news for ya, jerky – you’re too late. I already held a contest to prove that I suck, and if you’re still surprised, then I guess you missed out.) There are people with room-temperature IQs out there, apparently, who truly BELIEVE that someone who’s never had a Top 8 showing somewhere has no right to be editing a Magic site… and man, does it annoy them that I’m here.

But you know the problem with walking heaps of protoplasm like these guys?

They’re good.

TOO good.

Let’s take a moment and breathe in, shall we?

Everybody talks about the state of Magic, and how we need more honor and decency in the game, and how we shouldn’t cheat, yadda yadda yadda. It’s the elephant in the room.

Truth is, 90% of ALL players are okay. Maybe 95%. Perhaps, were I to be generous, 98%.

But that remaining 2%?

Boil the best away, and the remainder is, by definition, scum. And we whine about the scum, discuss how they drive new players away, make plans to firebomb their collective houses at night. We all admit "they" are a problem.

But nobody wants to point the finger at anyone SPECIFICALLY because they’re good.

Generally, they know the tech inside and out – so the scrubs are afraid to say anything about them. (Not to mention that even if they did, they’d be humiliated anyway. What does a scrub know about a "playa" like dat?) The pro players may dislike them… but the pro players are gonna see these guys time and time again at the local and national tourneys, so they’re not willing to publicly condemn these jackasses, either. It’s too much trouble starting a fight that’s really NOT going to end until one of you quits, so they remain quietly disdainful. And the Muggers of Magic buy all the right cards, so store owners won’t say anything.

Wizards, who benefits from this sort of thing, says even less.

And so the Muggers get to continue. And interbreed. And form scummy groups that act like schoolyard bullies, judging people only by their DCI rating, their "skillz," and their attitude. They mock you because you haven’t learned the game as well as they have – and deep in their wasted little hearts, they believe that the reason they trounce you is not due to practice… but because they’re inherently better. If they beat you, it’s because they’re better. If you beat them, it’s because your deck was "gay" or "broken" or "my deck crapped out on me" or "cheater" or whatever.

For the Muggers of Magic, there’s always an excuse to grab when someone "lesser" than them pounds the tar out of ’em. Because in their minds, no matter how much you practice, you’ll always be underneath ’em – or copying them.

It’s not true. You could be better than them, if you devoted the time to this hobby that they did. I believe that. I truly BELIEVE that.


When you’ve got nothing to prove, it’s easy to talk big.

To wit:

"Do I still believe that anyone can be a Pro player? Absolutely. It’s an investment of time, intelligence and desire – and I assume that if you’re reading this, you’re intelligent. The time and desire must be provided by you, but I think that really turning pro is a matter of using the right net decks, losing a lot, and honing your skill. There’s no great secret."

The Ferrett, speaking in a previous rant

These words have burned in my soul.

Is it true?

IS it true?

I think it is… but it’s intellectual dishonesty to SAY it and not PROVE it. I’ve been thinking about this, and it’s time that I backed up my badass self with some badass actions. If I want to prove to the Teeming Millions that ANYONE can become a Pro IF they’re willing to take the time, then I gotta lay it all on the line… and become one.

In short, it’s time that the epitome of the casual player took to the tourney circuit. To prove the Muggers wrong.

I’ve set up my own rules:

* Within the next two years, I will do my damndest to qualify for a national event, whether that be a Pro Tour, three byes at a Grand Prix, or the Invitational.* When I get that invitation, I will decline.**

* Since I’m not a brilliant deckbuilder, and because I am essentially cheap by nature, I will play in only Limited tournaments. Besides, Limited’s more fun anyway.

* To do this, I will commit to doing at least one Limited event per week. Practice is a watchword.

* I will ID to get into the Top 8, or to win. In my quest to win, I’m not giving up any advantage. The Muggers of Magic don’t, and if all they respect is winning, then that’s the language I’ll speak to ’em in. Dammit.

* I will not, however, drop out of a tourney for fear of my DCI rating. Play ’til the bitter end. How else will I learn?

* I will show respect and courtesy to all opponents. (Mind games, however, are right in. Hey, it’s how I made my mark in multiplayer…)

* I will never inflict another horrendously dull tourney report upon the world. I have read too many of them. The horror. The horror.

* If, in the next two years, I cannot qualify, I shall fall into silence and never breathe a word about tourneys again.

Now there are those who can raise valid objections to my plan:

* "You live in Alaska, dude. Aren’t there, like, only seven players there?" Untrue; there are a lot of good players here, although I admit the talent pool is a lot smaller than one might find in some major metropolitan cities, there’s still some excellent competition – and while it’s not comparable to New York, I think we’re just about on a par with, say, Arizona. ‘Sides, I’m not about to fly down to Seattle every time just to prove a point. This is pricey enough as it is. Sixteen bucks a week? Jeez.

* "Why TWO years?" Because I figure I’ll need a couple of tournaments to get up to speed. I have no idea how many sanctioned Limited tourneys we’ll have here, and I’d hate to give up just because I opened four Pale Moons at the two events we held.

* "Isn’t this simply proving Aaron Forsythe theory that all casual players are just waiting to morph into tourney players?" No, not at all. I’m doing this because I think the community at large needs someone to point to and say, "There lies a potential Pro player who COULD have had it, but really didn’t care." (Or, alternatively but still within the realm of possibility, "There lies another scrub who talked out his butt, then washed out bigtime.") If it works – if I win it and then walk away – then I will have proved precisely the OPPOSITE of Mister Forsythe’s theorem.

* "Isn’t this just proof of your monstrous ego?" Ironically enough, this may be the ONLY time in recorded history that this statement is NOT true. It is my belief that ANYONE, given the time and effort, could become a good and solid Pro player, if not necessarily a Finkel or a Mowshowitz. (You may note that even I am not insane enough to believe that I would win the Tour once I get there. But then again, most of the Muggers of Magic haven’t won a Tour, either.) Basically, my logic goes that if *I* can do it, then even a brain-damaged chimpanzee can be trained to Draft correctly. ("WILL YOU STOP TAKING ALL THE UKTABIS, DAMMIT!") I’m really not that bright.

* "You giving up multiplayer during the quest?" Don’t be silly. I’ll still play occasionally. But I play a lot less nowadays anyway, mainly due to the fact that I don’t have enough time to properly build decks – hey, this editor stuff eats up a good twenty hours a week that used to be devoted to fun and games. And I hate playing the same decks over and over again. I am easily bored.

* "Aren’t you a big jerk for going after a goal that you don’t even want?" You bet. Hey, kisses back to you too.

* "What’s the damn point?"

Thanks for asking.

The Muggers of Magic operate on a single principle: They’re better. You’re not. And you’re not because you’re stupid.

I operate on a single principle: Everyone can be whatever they want. And if you’re not good at something, it’s because you’re not serious enough about it.

Very shortly, for I suspect the results will come through very soon, we shall see who’s right. I could be wrong, and if that’s right, then maybe the Muggers are right to despise us. Maybe we ARE stupid.

But if we’re right, then to hell with ’em and their unwarranted elitism. And I can tell them, with unprecedented confidence, to take their cards and…

…well, lemme just put it this way.

(Shifts baseball cap backwards, dons large baggy overcoat that reads "Limp Ferritt" as the camera zooms backwards to reveal a stage with thousands of young teens moshing around him)

He came into this world as a target

Didn’t know no "mise"

All he saw was byes in his games

Playin’ with his trash (trash)

He’s goin’ down in flames (flames)

As he dies from Sligh he’s gettin’ mocked by harsher brains

Hey, I think about the day (Daze)

He makes those jerkwipes pay

When he finally gets to play

A Leviathan/Survival deck that hits ’em like a truck***

He makes ’em chump

Makes ’em chump

Makes ’em chump

He makes ’em chump

Are the damn muggers sad? (no)

Are the damn muggers good? (no)

It’s kinda sad that they’re the champs down in their neighborhood

You would think that they’d be leavin’ town (leave it!)

But they’re so pathetic like I said, hear they’re really good in bed – NOT!

Maybe they just are that great

I will always throw ’em my hate

Their mouths will call me "gay"

Hey, what the hell, I’ll go back to multiplay

I won’t lie; I can’t deny that –

I did it all for the newbies, the newbies

So you can take your tourneys

And stick ’em up your (yeah!)

Stick ’em up your (yeah!)

Stick ’em up your (yeah!)

(The lights dim; the only thing left is a large, flaming banner fifty feet high, reading "The Ferrett Pro Tour 2001 – Coming Soon" ****)

NEXT WEEK: Mein Kamf Mit Celestial Replenisch

Signing off,

The Ferrett

[email protected]

Visit The Ferrett Domain if you’re not easily offended. Matter of fact, stay away if you’re offended at all. Probably it’s best if you leave now, really….

* — You’d be surprised at how serious I am about this. But hey, watch. I’ll talk to ya in about a year.

** — Well, not the Invitational, anyway. And I might go to a Pro Tour just to meet everyone that I’ve emailed with, but I’d consider it to be more of a social outing than anything else. People tell me I’m a Big Influential Mucky-Muck in the Magic community or something, but there’s that Alaska thing again. Who knows? The polar bears out here could care less.

*** — This OBVIOUSLY was not the original lyric, but then again I do have to keep it PG here. The replacement isn’t perfect. Damn.

**** — And beneath it, in much smaller flaming letters, are the words "Or maybe not."