Don’t Cry For Me, Georgia

“Dude, that B/R Control deck looks like crap.”

“Of course it looks like crap. It is crap. When have I built a good deck?”

“Never, dude.”

“This is no exception. But it was fun, let me tell you.”

“So did it win any matches at all?”


“Let us all celebrate the death of Wild Mongrel.”

Deke Young, Head Judge at Georgia State Championship 2003, to much applause.

“Hey, dude. Watcha doin’?”

“Working on my resume. I got laid off.”

“That sucks, dude. Sorry to hear it. Hey, since when does a resume contain a decklist?”

“Okay, you caught me. I’m trying to pound out this tournament report in record time. Then, I’ll work on my resume.”

“Better not let the wife catch you.”

“That’s true. How ironic that I finally talked my way back into the house after the Regionals fiasco and now I may be banished again.”

“Aw, c’mon, dude. She loves you.”

“She loves me more when I come with a paycheck, Jack.”

“Eh, maybe so. So how have things been going in your little world of cardboard?”

“Not great. I haven’t had a much success since Regionals. Plus, I’m probably the only person who considers my 6-3-2 record at Regionals a success. I had a good run in one of the last chance trials at Grand Prix: Atlanta/DragonCon, finishing a disappointing tenth place.”


“Ninth would have been worse. If I hadn’t gotten color-screwed in game three of my last match, I would have made the top eight. But that’s the price one pays for playing U/G Madness, and I was long overdue for it to happen to me.”

“The Grand Prix must have been fun. DragonCon is always a blast.”

“True. Magically speaking, it was not a good weekend. I had my left buttock sliced off, put on a platter, and returned to me in the main event. The next day I played in the ‘you did not make day two’ PTQ, and the process was repeated with my right buttock.”


“I guess. A bad day playing Magic is better than a good day working in the yard, so I can’t complain too much.”

“Sounds about right. So this report you’re writing is about the Grand Prix crash and burn?”

“No, this is about States. Since I got the bad news about my employment, I decided States would be my last hurrah for a while. States is a fun tournament by its nature, since a new large expansion is in the mix and no one knows exactly what the best decks are. Everyone has opinions on the matter, including the pros, but those guys are testing for a completely different format. Anything they have to say on the matter is sketchy. Well, as sketchy as a pro’s opinion can be.”

“So there isn’t as much netdecking? Is that what you mean?”

“There’s still plenty of netdecking, but the netdecks haven’t been proven in battle. States is probably the best time of year for amateur players to put their minds into a deck concept, build it, test it, tweak it, and measure the fruits of their labor. It’s great fun, I think. Especially this year, when the baseline test was so easy to identify.”

“What’s that, dude?”

“Goblins. Any deck that you built had to beat Goblins to be competitive. Obviously, there was other testing to be done, but the first test was a given. An aspiring deck builder can’t ask for more than that.”

“Wait a sec, dude. Doesn’t a less-defined environment mean a bigger challenge to a deck builder? Wouldn’t it be easier to build and test if all of the Tier One decks were common knowledge?”

“I don’t think so. The fact is that most of the decks that get brought to States are not highly-tuned killing machines. A team of players will likely receive greater reward for doing the homework in a less-defined environment simply because that team has every chance of having a better deck than everyone else. An open environment may be a harder target to see clearly, but I think it’s an easier nut to crack. That’s why aggro decks often win States. It’s difficult to build a great control deck, period. They require a lot of testing, and they rely on better information than aggro decks do.”

“Are you saying that aggro is a better choice for a tourney like States, dude?”

“Typically. I wasn’t convinced of that this year, though.”

“Why not, dude? Didn’t you say that Goblins was the baseline test for this thing? Goblins is aggro, right?”

“Yes, that’s true. But there are just so many cool control cards available right now. Cards like Story Circle, Decree of Justice, Decree of Pain, and my favorite, Oblivion Stone.”

“Okay. But you like playing aggressive decks, so I’m guessing you went with Goblins.”

“Sorry, Jack. I’m sick of Goblins. I played it all through Onslaught Block. Besides, I wanted to play something with more flash. States is my going-away party, after all.”

“Okay, so you came up with a concept and tested it. What did you come up with?”

“Tested? Jack, who do you think you’re talking to? Like four days before States I revealed my tech in some chat room as ‘Four Bloodstained Mire, fifty-six other cards yet to be determined’.”

“Chat room?”

“Yes. Chat room.”

“Dude, that’s just sad. There are like three million people living in twenty miles of you. Some of them have been known to leave their homes and visit public places.”

“Oh, shut up.”

“I’m just sayin’. You could get out more.”

“Noted. Anyway, I sat around and thought about what cards might be good in a black/red control deck. I knew I wanted to run land destruction, but I needed to settle on some other elements.”

“Land destruction? I thought you hated LD?”

“No, I just said LD wasn’t viable. It hasn’t been, really. But things change. Actually, I really liked the idea of a red/greed LD deck, but I realized I would have to get acquire too many cards to make anything decent. So I went black/red. A couple of days before States, I stopped by the local shop to pick up a couple of things and spoke with the guy behind the counter. He’s a good guy, and he happened to finish second at States last year, so I figured I’d run my deck idea by him. He seemed to like it. The one thing he said he’d run that I didn’t have was Phyrexian Arena.”


“Because card drawing is a good thing, Jack.”

“I got that much, dude. I mean why weren’t you running it?”

“Oh. Two reasons. To support Arena, I would have needed to adjust my mana base some more, and I’m just too lazy. Also, I didn’t like the idea of losing life while thirty of forty angry little red guys were flying at my head. Or angry little white guys.”

“So you thought that running the Arena would turn a tough matchup with Goblins into an autoloss and give White Weenie an edge it didn’t need?”

“Umm…Yeah. Sure.”

“Okey-dokey, dude. What did you finally settle on?”

“Behold my brain child and tremble.”

Black/Red Control

2 Pyrite Spellbomb

3 Oblivion Stone

3 Terror

2 Persecute

3 Skirk Prospector

4 Stone Rain

4 Molten Rain

2 Hammer of Bogardan

2 Detonate

4 Starstorm

3 Chartooth Cougar

2 Rorix Bladewing

2 Form of the Dragon

2 Stalking Stones

4 Bloodstained Mire

3 Urborg Volcano

3 Swamp

12 Mountain


2 Shatter

3 Flashfires

3 Pyroclasm

4 Blood Moon

3 Avarax

“Dude, that looks like crap.”

“Of course it looks like crap. It is crap. When have I built a good deck?”

“Never, dude.”

“This is no exception. But it was fun, let me tell you.”

“So did it win any matches at all?”

“Well, I was really hoping my first opponent would be playing a control deck. Alas, first-turn mountain, Raging Goblin revealed this would not be the case. However, I had a fistful of LD, and I drew a Stone to clear the table. He never recovered from that and Rorix Bladewing brought the first game win home to me. The second game was a great example of how Goblins will just win with no effort. The third game was a little better, but not by much. Goblins had sent me to the 0-1 bracket.”

“Sorry, dude. You said it was the baseline deck, though.”

“Very true. My second round opponent was running White Weenie. He smashed me first game. I pulled out three of the Molten Rains and sided in the Flashfires. I said a quick prayer that he wouldn’t have Sacred Ground in his opening hand. He had three untapped Plains on the table when it was time for me to cast Flashfires. I was convinced he was holding Second Sunrise, but I could only play my game and hope for the best. He didn’t have the Sunrise, and I was able to stabilize at five life before playing Form of the Dragon.”

“Dude. Five life. How convenient.”

“Indeed. I also had Terror and Starstorm in hand for backup, so it was quickly time for the third game. He came out early just like he’s meant to, and I did everything I could to stay alive. I was finally able to play one of the two Forms that had been sitting in my hand since the beginning of the game. He had a Leonin Skyhunter equipped with a Bonesplitter. That was joined by a Suntail Hawk, but I had drawn removal by then, so Form won the second game in a row to take the match.”

“Hey, pretty cool.”

“I liked it. Now, the match to my right caught my eye while we were playing because the guy sitting next to my opponent was playing a Mind’s Desire deck. I hadn’t expected to see Mind’s Desire at States, so that stuck with me.”

“That’s a fun card, dude. I thought it was dead in Type II, though.”

“Exactly, Jack. That’s what I thought. I grabbed lunch before round three and stood outside with the smokers listening to war stories and making mental notes of what folks might be playing.”

“You sly dog.”

“Hey, I’m not too proud to scout.”

“Did it help, dude?”

“Not in round three. My opponent was running the hasty red guys with burn deck. I managed to pull out the win in the first game when he threw two Raging Goblins and a freshly made Slith Firewalker into Starstorm for one.”


“Yeah, he beat himself up over that one. It was a close game, and that cost him. Games two and three were all about his deck being fast and my deck being slow. Shrapnel Blast is a beating. I got nailed with that three times.”

“So you were 1-2 after three aggro opponents. Sucked to be you.”

“Yeah. I stayed in, though. I figured I could win out and make top 16.”

“Yeah, right.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence, Jack. When I approached the table for my fourth match, I suppressed a smile as I greeted my opponent by saying ‘Hello, Mister Mind’s Desire’.”

“He was that guy playing next to you in the second round?”

“Yup. And he didn’t know what I was playing. He kept asking his friends at the next table over, and they wouldn’t tell him. I think they actually knew what I had, but they were amused by his panic.”

“Yeah, I have friends like that.”

“Jack, you are a friend like that.”

“Guilty as charged, my man.”

“Anyway, it was a tougher match than I expected. I blew up the wrong land in the first game because I didn’t realize he used Seething Song to get Gilded Lotus on the table as soon as possible. He managed to get a Spellweaver Helix on the table with Mind’s Desire and Trade Secrets imprinted on it. He was almost dead when he cast a Chrome Mox, bounced it with Chain of Vapor, chose to copy the Chain by sacking a land to bounce his other Mox, played them both again, and then played Trade Secrets. He drew his four cards from the Trade Secrets, and then announced he was going to play Desire for five from the Helix.”

“Dude, that sucks.”

“Yes, it did suck. For him. I called a judge.”


“Spellweaver Helix has a triggered ability. When he played Trade Secrets, the trigger went on the stack. When that resolved, he could have played the copied Mind’s Desire. But he had already started to resolve the Trade Secrets. He had raced past his window.”

“That’s a bit of rules-lawyering on your part, eh dude?”

“He wasn’t a kid, Jack, and I don’t have sympathy for combo players who don’t understand how their combo works. If he had taken his time he may very well have won that first game. But he didn’t, so he lost. To his credit, he didn’t blame anyone but himself, and he seemed genuinely grateful to learn the timing rule. I think he wants to continue to play that deck, so any useful information that came his way was appreciated. He was a true sportsman.”

“So, did he win the second game?”

“No, I hammered him. I congratulated him on having the guts to play Mind’s Desire at States, though. I think he had the most creative deck in the room.”

“So you were 2-2 after four rounds. That isn’t too bad for you.”

“My hopes of winning out remained alive. I went to the fifth match feeling good. My opponent was fellow I’ve played a few times before. He likes to talk a lot, which is fine by me. He started guessing what I was playing before we began, and I did not tell him. It was funny, because he’s the kind of guy that can give you the impression he isn’t really paying attention, but he is. For example, he said to me, ‘Let’s see – you could be running Goblins, but no. You usually have something more creative than Goblins when we play.’ I was touched he remembered.”

“It’s the little things. What was he running?”

“He was running an Isochron Scepter deck with Boomerang and some other goodies. I started off the first game with Mountain, Skirk Prospector. So, for a moment I had him believing I was running the little red guys. This turned out to be important, because he played a Scepter and imprinted it with Remove Soul.”

“So, Rorix was a dead card.”

“Right – but that’s not so bad. I don’t need Rorix, and I knew I could draw counters by playing answers to his Scepter, like Detonate or Oblivion Stone. In the end, I was able to recur Hammer of Bogardan several hundred times for the win. Game two was a joke. He dropped a second turn Isochron Scepter imprinted with Boomerang. I needed to draw either a Skirk Prospector to use the Detonate in my hand or a Shatter to be able to stay in the game. Neither came my way. The third game was very frustrating as I was on my way to winning when time was called. My opponent Unsummoned my Rorix (which I promptly recast on my next turn), and then on his next turn he dropped Platinum Angel. He was at eight life, but I only had enough mana to activate Stalking Stones or blow my Oblivion Stone to get rid of the Angel. I activated the Stalking Stones and swung for nine. Of course, the Angel’s ability kept me from winning at that point, and the fifth and final turn was my opponent’s. He scooped.”

“He did what?”

“He conceded out of the kindness of his heart. He wanted to go see a movie, or so he told me, and he felt like it would be nicer to give me the match win rather than kill my chances of prize support with a draw. He signed the match slip 2-1 in my favor and dropped.”

“Wow. What a guy.”

“Yup. Of course, that makes my record at the end of the day bogus, but what the heck.”

“So, you were officially 3-2.”

“Yes. My sixth round foe was running Astral Slide. I knew him to be a Slide player, but he had told me a few months before he was going to stop playing it once Mirrodin became legal. Evidently, he changed his mind.”

“Hmm. You hate Slide.”

“I have a lifetime horrible record against Slide regardless of what I’m running, although my last match facing it I had destroyed it with U/G. I resolved to continue my streak. Game one was about me being destroyed early by Exalted Angel. Things were going so badly that I chose not to play some LD. I basically faked like I was playing Goblin Bidding with a ridiculously poor draw. Game two went much better for me, since he was unprepared for my Flashfires. I was also able to resolve Persecute naming white and completely emptied his hand save one land card. Oblivion Stone wiped out his enchantments, and from there it was a race to see if I could get a victory condition before he recovered. I managed to make a Rorix, but not so soon he couldn’t answer it with Eternal Dragon. Terror killed the Eternal Dragon, and he dropped to four. Renewed Faith put him back at ten. Something similar to this kept happening, because his life total keeps going from four to ten and back again in my notes.”


“Yes. The end came when Rorix was facing Eternal Dragon again, and I topdecked a Terror to clear the way. Game three was a much closer affair, with all of the power cards making an appearance on both sides. The early game was defined by me making an Avarax, then fetching another and not playing it until he had dealt with its predecessor. It eventually came down to a topdeck war with me at two life (from Akroma, Angel of Wrath and Lightning Rift, since cleared by Oblivion Stone) and my opponent at nine. Rorix showed up again, and my opponent did not have an answer.”

“So, it was close.”

“It was very close. This match more than any other proved the value of Oblivion Stone. I used it to clear Astral Slide, Lightning Rift, Akroma, and Eternal Dragon at some point during those last two games.”

“Cool. So Oblivion Stone put you at 4-2.”

“Yes. Two rounds to go, and I was still hopeful of a top sixteen finish. My tiebreakers were completely awful, so top eight was out of the question.”

“So how did the next round turn out for you, dude?”

“Lovely. I had overheard my opponent earlier in the day talking about how much he liked the new Type II since one of his favorite archetypes was viable again. I took this to mean he was playing some type of Ponza or White Weenie.”

“Scouting comes through again, eh?”

“Eavesdropping, scouting, whatever. Game one, my opponent dropped a first turn Bloodstained Mire and fetched a Swamp. I did the same on my turn. On his second turn my opponent dropped a Mountain. I did the same on my second turn, and he laughed. ‘Mirror match!’ he cried. ‘I never in my life thought I would play the mirror match today!’ On his third turn he played another Bloodstained Mire, and went for another Swamp, and announced he did not have the LD to play. On my turn I played a Bloodstained Mire and fetched a Mountain. Then, I played Molten Rain on his Mountain. On my next turn I played Stone Rain on another of his lands. By the time Rorix hit the table on my sixth turn, he scooped saying, ‘textbook’.”

“Pretty cool.”

“Yeah, it was. It hadn’t run that smoothly all day. The second game was ridiculous, though. Neither one of us could really get an advantage despite each of us Persecuting the other. I dropped an early Skirk Prospector that managed to swing in more than ten times. It was a topdeck war. I concentrated my mid to late game land destruction on his Mountains in hopes of preventing Rorix. After a million turns or so, my opponent was at two life, and I drew Hammer of Bogardan for the win. He and I agreed it had been a ludicrous game.”

“Wow. So you and your crappy deck were 5-2 going into the last round?”

“Yup. It had been a good day. I was in twenty-ninth place, and a match win might have put me in the top sixteen. It would have certainly put me in the top twenty-four, and prize support was available down to the top thirty-two, so I had something more than pride to drive me.”

“Cool, man. Don’t keep me in suspense.”

“Oh, I got smashed. My opponent already covered it in his own report. That second game, I drew my two Rorix and two Form of the Dragon in five draws. I had one shining moment when he cycled Starstorm at the end of my turn, leaving his Troll Ascetic unable to regenerate when I cast Starstorm in response. It didn’t matter, though. Personally, I think the R/G Land Destruction concept is superior to the B/R concept. In other words, he had the better deck. He also had better draws in our match.”

“He’s probably a better player, dude.”

“No doubt. I suck at Magic.”

“That you do.”

“No matter. I’ll take my 5-3 record and run. I finished 41st out of 163 folks. Not bad for me. Anyway, I won’t be playing anymore until I get the rest of my life under control, and that might take some time.”

“Who are you kidding? You love the cardboard crack?”

“I can’t justify spending money on cards when I don’t have a job, Jack.”

“Maybe not, dude, but isn’t Extended season right around the corner?”

“I guess…”

“Can’t you hear those little green enchantments calling to you from your binder, dude? They say ‘Aluuuuren. Aluuuuuren is your friend. Don’t forsake us…'”

“Hmm. I’m not certain answering that call would be the wisest thing.”

“Since when are you wise, dude?”

“Good point, Jack. Good point.”

Pale Mage.