Blog Fanatic: Silky Smooth

In one of the most amusing Blog Fanatic installments yet, Ben tackles some of the weightier issues in our game, like how to hate your arch-rival out of the metagame, and the proper way to teach your teammates how to catch cheaters in the act!

Vinny Falcone was undoubtedly among the best of the Magic players in New Orleans back in the late 90’s. There were many players who were competitive and could qualify for the Pro Tour and “The Pimp” was one of those players. Part of his skill came from being able to read people well during game play, and this is why he beat me so often – I had virtually no poker face. If I drew a good card, Vinny knew it and planned accordingly. On top of this, Vinny would mix up the decks brought to the Comics Cosmos tournaments so you never quite knew what to expect out of him- that is, until he got too comfortable with Flagpole.

Here’s an approximation of the Flagpole deck that Vinny ran:

Vinny’s composite Flagpole deck!


4 Birds of Paradise

3 Llanowar Elves

4 Tradewind Rider

4 Wall of Blossoms

4 Wall of Roots


3 Armageddon

4 Counterspell

1 Firestorm

4 Impulse

2 Legacy’s Allure

3 Mana Leak

1 Whispers of the Muse


3 City of Brass

4 Gemstone Mine

5 Forest

5 Island

4 Quicksand

2 Undiscovered Paradise


1 Armageddon

3 Firestorm

3 Hydroblast

2 Legacy’s Allure

3 Pyroblast

3 Uktabi Orangutan

I don’t claim that is exactly what Vinny played on any given week, but it’s the deck as best I recall. Vinny started showing up with Flagpole each and every week, with minor tweaks made to the deck each Sunday. After a steady month of Flagpole, Flagpole, Flagpole, and Flagpole, I finally decided that I would build a deck designed to utterly and completely wreck Vinny’s world – it wouldn’t necessarily be great against the overall field, but if I were to play Vinny, I wanted him to finally go down in a ball of flame!

Die Vinny Die! Die Die Die!
(Modified Sligh, Die Die Die!)

4 Ball Lightning

4 Dwarven Thaumaturgist

4 Fireslinger

4 Jackal Pup

4 Mogg Fanatic

4 Mogg Conscript

3 Suq’Ata Lancer

4 Fireblast

4 Incinerate

4 Furnace of Rath

17 Mountain

4 Wasteland


4 Cursed Scroll

3 Dwarven Miner

4 Nevinyrral’s Disk

4 Pyroblast

Vinny’s deck won by getting down a Tradewind Rider lock backed by Armageddon. He moved his deck towards having very few offensive threats, instead opting for a multitude of walls and mana accelerating creatures in the weenie-heavy Comics Cosmos metagame. I did what any self-respecting guy looking to beat his arch-nemesis would do – I teched my deck out specifically to beat his. I mean seriously, who runs Dwarven Thaumaturgist in their main deck? I bet that a majority of the people reading this story had to click on the auto card link to see what Dwarven Thaumaturgist did! It was there to wreck Wall of Blossoms and Wall of Roots, and to make Tradewind Rider eminently easy to kill – especially with Fireslinger, which was aces against Birds of Paradise and Llanowar Elves.

I ended up facing Vinny in the finals of that particular tournament, and I had a three-pronged route to victory. The first venue of attack was to kill his mana base, using Wastelands, Fireslingers, Mogg Fanatics, and Incinerates. The second plan was to allow my creatures to get past all his walls, using Dwarven Thaumaturgist and Furnace of Rath. The third and most important weapon?

Doing the nice dance.

Mr. Nice.

Mr. Nice came out of my pocket and onto the table as I began the finals against Vinny. Vinny seemed unconcerned as he took a mulligan game one, and proceeded to get wrecked by a fourth turn Furnace of Rath.

Me: “Bet you weren’t expecting that, were you?”

Vinny: *Shrugs*

Me: “I’m finally going to beat you Vinny! There’s no way you’re winning this match!”

Vinny: *Shrugs*

Unfortunately Vinny was not intent in cooperating with my fantasies in which beating him involved wine, women and a parade down Veterans Boulevard to commemorate my victory. Fortunately, Vinny double mulliganed to open game two, but recovered quickly with a pair of Wall of Blossoms. On my third turn, I dropped el enano de arruinarle himself, which caused Vinny pause. He picked up the card to read what it did. Good sign – Vinny usually knew what all the cards did at first glance.

Vinny: “Dude, this card is awful.”

Me: “No it’s not. It’s going to wreck you!”

Vinny: “It’s a 1/2 in Sligh. You’re playing a 1/2 for three mana?”

Me: “It’s the best three-drop Red creature ever printed.”

Vinny: “It’s the worst card I’ve ever seen.”

Me: “He’s your worst nightmare Vinny. Your deck can’t handle the Thaumaturgist.”

Vinny: “Whatever dude.”

Me: “He’s the best card ever! He kills your walls. He kills your Tradewinds. He turns my Ball Lightnings into a 1/6 against burn spells! What other card lets my Ball Lightnings swing for one after being Incinerated?”

Vinny: “Dude, get off the crack.”

Vinny accepted his defeat as graciously as I dealt it, and the match was soon over in my favor, 2-0. Mr. Nice had done his nice dance indeed, contributing directly to three mulligans. And with that, “The Pimp” was no longer on my back.

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Hold on, hold on. I have one more story to tell before I close out the chapter on Comics Cosmos. There were several other regulars that gamed each Sunday at these tournaments, and among them was Jeremy. Jeremy was a much laid-back high school student, a friend of Vinny’s, and one of the most oblivious people I’ve ever met in my life. The dude just did not pay attention to anything. He’d forget to pay upkeeps on his creatures three consecutive turns. He’d neglect to attack with his haste creatures the turn they came into play. He’d miss his opponent’s life total, and not swing for lethal damage when the win was on the board and his opponent was tapped out with no cards in hand, in fear of being counterattacked for the win. In short, Jeremy wasn’t a bad player – he just had the attention span of a gnat.

As the months went on, Jeremy became more concerned with his social life and less concerned with playing Magic. This manifested itself first in his clothing – he went from shorts and T-shirts to coming in decked out in the finest of shirts. Silk shirts. Fancy silk shirts – it was so nice that he was getting dressed up for his fellow geeks!

Anthony: “Jeremy, what the hell are you wearing?”

Jeremy: “It’s my new shirt. You like it?”

Anthony: “No dude! It’s candy ass!”

Jeremy: “No way man! *Rubs shirt up and down* It’s silk, and I’m smooooth”

Eric: “I guess he’s silky smooth.”

The name stuck – Jeremy was no longer called Jeremy but instead was known as “Silky Smooth”. Even with his new moniker, Silky Smooth was still anything but – he continued to make the most horrific, distraction-induced misplays known to man. After months of this ineptitude, we decided it was time to take action – and by we I mean everyone at Comics Cosmos who cared about Jeremy. He was a good kid, he wasn’t a bad player despite his lack of attention-paying, but he needed to shape up his game for his own good.

Towards the end of one of the Comics Cosmos tournaments, I pulled Vinny, Big Jeff (the judge), Anthony, Chris, Eric, and other players into the back of the shop, away from Jeremy. “Okay, listen up guys. Jeremy needs to learn to pay attention.” Everyone nodded. “Vinny, I want you to lend me your deck (Flagpole) to play against Jeremy after the tournament. However, I’m going to cheat as often and as blatantly as possible, and I want you all to keep track of how many times I cheat against him so you can knock it into his silky little head that he needs to pay more damn attention to the game!” Laughter. “What’s going on over there?” Silky Smooth yelled from the play area. “Nothing, I just want to play you after the tournament,” I shouted back. “Okay, cool, game on!”


Cheating is bad. Cheating is one of the worst things you can do while playing a game of Magic, and you should never cheat. Cheating takes away from people who work hard and fair to achieve victory, and what you gain from cheating comes at a loss from those you cheat. Taking shortcuts in life will only lead to being shortchanged in the end, and cheating is no exception to this rule. The following story of cheating came from trying to teach a friendly acquaintance a lesson about paying attention to their opponent and the game state – in order to prevent their opponents from cheating against them. All participants (except Silky Smooth) were in on the cheat – please never, ever try to duplicate any acts in this story in real Magic with unwilling participants. Unless you’re playing Cheatyface, in which case Wizards of the Coast has given you express permission to cheat your little asses off until your casual playgroup bans the card from your home state.


I piloted Vinny’s Flagpole deck against Silky Smooth’s White Weenie deck. The goal? To cheat as much as possible in the hopes that Jeremy would pay any attention to his opponent’s side of the board so that he wouldn’t keep losing to being oblivious. Would this mission be accomplished? Hell no! Here’s some of the lowlights of the game, all of them 100% missed by Silky Smooth.

* I drew a fourteen card opening hand.

* On the third turn, I cast a four-card Firestorm to kill three of Jeremy’s creatures (including a Soltari Priest) and to damage the Silky one himself for four. On turn 5, I cast the same Firestorm (pulled straight out of the graveyard, natch) for another four, and yet still had seven cards in hand after the dual Firestorms.

* Counterspell was cast six times over the course of the game. Hint: my deck had no recursion, and he sure wasn’t playing Counterspell.

* My 0/3 Wall of Roots blocked his 4/3 Soltari Monk – and lived.

* My 0/3 Wall of Roots blocked his 4/3 Soltari monk – period.

* After Jeremy cast Armageddon, I returned my lands to my hand instead of to the board. I then cast Firestorm for the third time that game, leaving me with about fifteen cards in hand.

* Three turns later I still had ten cards in hand.

* I cast Empyrial Armor on my Birds of Paradise and swung for seven.

* Did I mention that I drew Empyrial Armor off of Jeremy’s deck?

* And that the only source of White mana I had on the board was the Birds of Paradise itself?

* Did I also mention that we were playing very different color sleeves?

Although the original plan was to keep the game going until Jeremy finally noticed that something fishy was going on, the kid would not pay attention! I mercifully killed him with the Armored Birds.

Jeremy: “Good game.”

Me: “What the hell are you talking about?”

Jeremy: “Huh?”

Vinny: “Dude, you just got cheated.”

Jeremy: “Nuh-uh?”

Me: “Silky, *flipping him back his Empyrial Armor* I just killed you with your own enchantment.”

Jeremy: “No way!”

Me: “I drew fourteen cards to start the game.”

Jeremy: “Really?”

Vinny: “He kept drawing out of his graveyard every turn.”

Jeremy: “Did he really?”

Me: “Dude, I cast back to back Firestorms against you and still had a full grip.”

Jeremy: “You did seem to have a lot of cards, but I figured it was from Wall of Blossoms.”

Anthony: “Silky…”

Me: *Cutting off Anthony* “Dude, let it go. Silky Smooth, you seriously have got to start paying more attention to your opponents! What if someone did this against you in a real match?”

Jeremy: “I’d probably lose.”


Ben can be reached at [email protected]