Down And Dirty – Undefeated Saturday and Cheon-LaPillerviews

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Kyle planned on attending a PTQ last weekend… sadly, things didn’t quite pan out. Instead, today’s Down And Dirty sees the inestimable Mr Sanchez interview Tom LaPille and Paul Cheon on their lives both inside and outside Magic. Kyle also shares his own theory on the feline direction in which our great game is headed…

The night before was blazed by bubbly predictions of the following day. A blue envelope, a booster box of Llorwyn, recognition from the Texas community that I still had it. Too much was at stake and I couldn’t fail, not this time. Pressure was on, and I was ready and willing to snatch the plane ticket to la-la land.

My deck was in order; I hadn’t counted my chickens before they hatched. The mood was awkward that Saturday after, with apologies all around. “I’m so sorry dude, my bad,” they both told me, at the same time no less. Goodbye Hollywood ambitions, you’ll have to wait for another day to creep your head ’round these parts.

Sanchez: Yo Tom.

LaPille: Hi Kyle!

Congrats on the win, and I for one and happy that I won’t have to read “Arcane Teachings – Project Hollywood: __________” anymore. It’s not that the column offended me, but I’m just not preferable to the hyphen-colon look. Too funky for my taste and really started my day off with negative thoughts.

It really takes that little to give you negative thoughts? That’s sad, man — far worse stuff than that happens every day and you have to just keep on moving through. Regardless, thanks.

Now that Project Hollywood is complete, wheres the column going? Any plans for more hyphen colons? No more PTQs to play, hitting up ‘Couver or Philly?

Both. I wasn’t originally going to Vancouver, but then I decided that not going would be sending the signal that I wasn’t really serious about getting a lot better at Magic. There were just enough hurdles that I needed to jump to arrange going that doing it was possible but not something that would happen automatically, so I think by deciding to go I’ve passed some kind of cosmic test. I’ll also be spending a weekend before Vancouver in Michigan with a mysterious man who is known for innovating, and I’m attempting to find people to run a small colony with during the last few days before GP: Philadelphia.

Seems like every time I finish well in a PTQ I have a good story to tell from the day, the ride there, or some far fetched series of plays. So is there a good story, universally important lesson learned, or crazy mishap?

The only truly crazy thing that happened was in the third game of the semifinals. I kept a truly terrible hand, then played very well and got incredibly lucky to dig out of it. For me to win my opponent needed to draw blanks for two turns straight when basically the only blanks were lands, and he had a Dark Confidant who was helping. He still drew straight blanks and I got to use Threads, Shackles, and Explosives to push through the last six points of damage. He had done the first fourteen to himself. The universally important lesson here is not to settle for terrible hands. If it’s not good enough to win, it doesn’t matter how many cards it is.

Something else I just noticed is that in the past year I’ve never not won a PTQ during which I ate a salad. I don’t know what this means at all, but I will be eating salads at GP: Vancouver and Philadelphia. I guess it means that when I believe that I deserve to eat food that isn’t awful for me even at a Magic tournament I also believe that I deserve better than to not win the tournament, but who knows.

Do you have any rivals or nemesis to speak of in your PTQ circuit, or perhaps you’ve met some at Grand Prix you’ve attended?

There are no such people who I still consider rivals or want to continue having as rivals, so I’m not going to tell you who they are/were!

Given your recent article on “No Mercy,” I was just curious how many times you called a judge this weekend and for what reasons?

I regret the firestorm that went up around No Mercy because people focused their responses on things that I thought were fairly tangential to what I was trying to accomplish. A good writer doesn’t let that happen, so I blew it. I really just wanted to talk about the Law of Attraction; in terms of signaling to yourself and the world that you are serious about wanting to win at Magic, I think calling a slow play judge, driving six hours to a PTQ because there isn’t one closer, breaking down and buying the cards you need when no one will lend them to you, and flying to a Grand Prix that is very inconvenient all accomplish the same thing internally. It would have been easier to make that point without getting people confused and angry about judge calls and mind tricks.

There were not-actually-table-judges-anymore-because-of-Pro-Tour-Los-Angeles “interestedly spectating” on the Top 8 matches, but I didn’t call those and they only had to speak up once in each Top 8 match.

I’ve always pictured you as the kid who got cheated on too often so he took the book, read the book, and memorized the book, and now manipulates the book against not only the cheaters but the innocent mages too.

I think the truth about the “No Mercy” article is much less interesting than the world probably thinks it is. I’m really not anywhere near a master of mind tricks or whatever, but I had just consumed a lot of personal development stuff and I was kind of on a thought kick where I was concerned a lot about how to get things you want out of the world. I’ve come to believe that the best way to get what you want is to be consistent in pursuing it. I wrote that part of No Mercy because if you aren’t willing to call a judge for slow play, or get a ruling to ensure that you get a fair match, that’s a way that you can leave for the universe to not let you win. We want to try to cut those things away.

Your description of me up there was probably accurate in 2004 and 2005. Note that the anecdotes I included in my article were all from Mirrodin and Kamigawa block constructed tournaments. Those were a long time ago. Back then I guess I thought I was “good enough” already and had to work on something other than mechanical play, which in hindsight is pretty hilarious. I definitely wasn’t then, and no one ever is anyway.

Chicken or Beef Fajita?

I go with a random mix of beef a third of the time and chicken the other two thirds of the time. I have a higher chance of going for beef when I trust the establishment that is serving me. Use the second hand on your watch to randomize if you have nothing better handy.

Reece’s or Snickers?

I don’t find candy appetizing at all, so I never eat it. Neither.

A.K.A. all the kids in school used to steal your lunch so you never had the luxury of enjoying your Mother’s treats that she so neatly packed in your box every morning.

You know far too much about me.

Crypt or Leyline?

Depends on the deck. Crypt is easier for them to beat, so if you do play it you need to plan to interact with their graveyard in other ways, race them as well as Crypt them, or just be able to find lots of Crypts like Next Level Blue can. Leyline is a blunt object silver bullet; Crypt is more of a finesse card.

Any final thoughts?

Some people have said that they are “glad they aren’t Tom” because I don’t have any fun playing Magic. That couldn’t be further from the truth. A lot of the thrill of Magic for me is playing really tight games against really good opponents, and the only way to make that happen is to play in the hardest tournaments possible. The other thing is that the personal development journey that Magic has taken me on in the past few months has been absolutely incredible and I’m learning so much that I can’t help but enjoy it. Magic is many things to many people, but that’s what it is for me and I’m more than happy to have it play that role.

Thanks for your time man, see ya in Canada or Philly.

Yeah, no problem. Thanks for the interview.

That morning I awoke groggy and confused, rising to the tune of Map of the Problematique by Muse. After navigating my way out of a deep tangled mess of sheets and comforters, a dead cold from a nearby window bit at my neck and I could tell something was going to go wrong. The bathroom tile felt like a frozen pond with a thick layer of ice on top. The space heater quickly remedied the situation, but the shower still took forever and a day to warm up, and all the while I was left standing on the frozen pond in my birthday suit anxiously awaiting to moment when I could jump in the shower and melt away.

The Crappy Cat Theory

I have a little theory that I’d like to take the chance to discuss, about a possible direction that Wizards is going for the next two sets following Morningtide.

Earlier this week while I was wearily working with Warriors, I happened upon an unsettling trend in relation to the tribe of each Warrior. There were Giants, Goblins, Treefolk, Elves, and Elementals, all extremely common in today’s environment. But then a certain Mirri, Cat Warrior stood out.

“Huh?”, I thought to myself. “Didn’t know she was in Tenth.”

I continued my search to find the most abusable set of creatures to work with Bramblewood Paragon. Then Jedit Ojanen of Efvara popped out as another Cat Warrior. Being the curious beaver that I am, and with my curiosity peaked, I searched for some other Cat Warriors and two others joined the list – Arctic Nishoba and Nacatl War-Pride. Not to mention a host of other great Cats, with Skyhunter Patrol being a Cat Knight, Seht’s Tiger, Whitemane Lion, and Mirri the Cursed, along with the Rebelicious Blade of the Sixth Pride.

When searching for the common Lorwyn creature types a few months ago, everyone started to notice inconspicuous cards from the past with the same creature type. Treefolk reawakened Verdeloth, Hearthwood Storyteller, Sheltering Ancient, and Deadwood Treefolk. Kithkin saw Amrou Scout, Amrou Seekers, and Mistmeadow Skulk (who is also a Rogue) in a new light. Merfolk were reuinited with its dear Lord, and even got Ambassador Laquatus, Merfolk Looter, and Riptide Pilferer.

Elves gained has a boatload of cards from pre-Lorwyn with Riftsweeper, Allosaurus Rider, Thornscape Battlemage, Llanowar Mentor, and Thelonite Hermit being some standouts. Goblins also had quite a bit of help pre-Lorwyn with Siege-Gang Commander, Mogg Fanatic, Skirk Ridge Exhumer, Squee, and Empty the Warrens to name a few. Tividar of Thorn also doesn’t seem so stupid anymore. Giants with Jotun Owl Keeper, Bloodfire Collossus, Chronosavant, Desolation Giant, and even Giant Oyster. Faeries have Diamond Faerie, Cloud Sprite, Cloudseeder, and Sprite Noble as well as the off-colored Scryb Ranger.

My point is that Wizards has thus far offered us a reasonable amount of previews leading up to these next two sets, and my guess is that Cats are going to be a common pretty soon.

I can’t put into words how irritated I am about that. I hate cats. They’re selfish swine who dander everywhere just to make me sneeze. Why the hell are they getting their own tribe before dog even becomes a creature type? Where are all the dogs to keep the cats in check?? What about some wolves?

The shower lifted me up above this harsh cold world into a bubbling lagoon filled with farting Gorons to keep the circulation flowing. I stood in position, huddling before the water so to soak every inch of my body in the fragile warmth. After drying in front of the space heater and applying leave-in conditioner to my curly wet locks, I ventured back to my cold grave, where I laid for several minutes under thick blankets to keep in what little heat was left from the bathroom heater.

A sharp headache started to set it, and to match it I chose three lovely looking Advil to numb the pain away.

Sanchez: Yo Cheo

Cheon: Sup

Did you ever in your wildest dreams think you’d be the first American to set foot on the Level 8 plateau?

No, and I still don’t believe it. Just seems like yesterday that I was reading up on the pros and wishing I could play at the highest level with those guys.

Do you have any abstract feelings towards the new pro club changes?

Losing a Pro Tour does hurt and I’m not sure if they made up for it a little with an increase in the payout. I understand that Hasbro might need to make budget cuts, but the way they introduced it in a random BDM article was a bit upsetting. Whatever, gotta suck it up and do my best in the remaining four pro tours. But I do plan on going to fewer GPs this year than I initially planned, as I’m not sure what the state of Magic is going to be next year.

I’m not doing much at the moment, just watching my roommate bash some face with R/G/B beatdown. Countryside Crusher seems like it would be nuts in the deck. These R/G aggro decks just keep getting better… Mogg Fanatic, Tarmogoyf, Crusher, Incinerate, blah blah.

You mentioned “state of Magic next year.” What exactly does that mean? What road are we looking at here?

To be honest… I have no idea. But since they cut the payout at Nationals a couple of years ago, I see no signs of there being any increase in payouts or benefits for the pros. It’s been a downward spiral, and I truly hope that at some point it’ll slow down and the Pro Tour will be healthy again.

Do you see a solution?

There are certain things that they give out at Pro Tours that aren’t really necessary and that might help their budget concerns. Free draft sets, shirts, the lounge. I’d much rather have an extra Pro Tour and lose those benefits. I’m there for the competition and to hopefully win a decent amount of money, not to play Luis in Dance Dance Revolution.

We could just keep them all in America?

I certainly wouldn’t mind that…I do enjoy going to new places and seeing new things, but the travels do wear out on you after a while. Also cutting a Pro Tour in Japan kinda sucked as I love the place, the people, the food, and not to mention they probably have the second largest Magic-playing population of any country.

I really don’t know what’s going on. I’m sure their problems are on a far grander scale than I can imagine, but I really hope they can keep the Pro Tour going.

Instead of Japan we get to go to Berlin, home of Max Bracht… nothing good can come of this.

Haha, I’ve never been, I just know I feel really short when I’m in Europe… Japan that’s where it’s at. At one with the people. Kuala Lumpur seems a bit exciting, and I promised my roommate Rick that I would try out durian.

A fruit, right?

Yeah, I wikipediaed it and apparently it’s got an odor that ranges from repulsive to offensive, has the consistency of a peach, and tastes kinda like almonds. Known as the “King of all the Fruits.”

Try and smuggle some back, we’ll make a killing in Vancouver.

There’s durian here in the States too, you just gotta go to an Asian market. And it’s usually frozen, as you lose the odor that way.

So Paul, what are your plan for Vancouver?

I’m flying out there with a couple of my roommates…we’re flying to Seattle then renting a car and driving up the rest of the way, as it’s 150 dollars cheaper per person.

How are you going to maintain your flawless Foreign GP Top 8 record?

Just been testing a lot on MTGO and thinking about stuff in my head. Luis has also been doing a ton of playtesting so we should have a solid list by the time the GP rolls around.

If it’s gonna be a good deck let me know, because I’m still wobbling back and forth on attending.

I’ve been setting up gauntlets at the local store Enchanted Grounds with Alex Lee, Rick Chong, Jeff Kokx, Steve Golenda, Erik Weeden, 2006 Vintage World Champion Travis Spero, and Kyle Bundgaard. I think we’re making decent progress and hopefully one of them will qualify at the local PTQ in a few weeks.

(That’s my shoutout, hehe!)

Man, I have to run that?

One time, I give you the interviews bro!

Yeah yeah, fine fine…

I’m actually leaning towards some kind of aggressive deck right now, which isn’t usually my style, so I have no idea what I’m gonna play yet.

I have a theory about Cats being one of the major creature types during the next set… do you like Cats?

I’m more of a dog person, but I guess I don’t mind cats either. But in terms of Magic, Blistering Firecat is pretty sweet. I don’t know too many other cats,

Jedit, Mirri, Arctic Nishoba, Nacatl War-Pride.

Ooh, yes.

Certainly would indicate cats, yes?


Same as the printed Lorwyn creature types…

It’s possible. By the way, what’s going to happen in the next set? Is it a new mini set block of 2?

Whoa, I’m asking the questions here, bub. So… what’s going to happen in the next set?

I have no idea… I’m really bad when it comes to reading up on updated news. I just ask around.

Yeah, me too.

I never do spoilers either. But that’s because it’s a lot more fun reading cards you’ve never seen before.

What was your prerelease record?

At the prerelease I didn’t realize prowl required you to hit them with a rogue or faerie, so that kinda sucked. I just played in two Two-Headed Giant prerelease events with my roommate Rick Chong.

Record please!

The first one was 4 rounds and we went 3-1, and the second one was 4-1. Lost in the last round both times.

Pfft, 9-0 here, bruh. Perhaps you should start reading some spoilers, it’s hurting your play.

The first one… our opponents cast Titan’s Revenge, and won the clash twice!


Yeah, the other one we just got bashed and I also learned about how prowl worked.

Thanks for your time Paul, good luck in Vancouver.

Thanks a lot.

James picked me up from my casa and we headed to the rendezvous point several miles down the road, where we intended to meet up with Mike and Roach, who happened to have all the cards.

6am came and went. Fifteen after, a polite call was made… no answer, they must be close. Twenty after, well, I could call, but odds are they would come barreling around the corner any second. Thirty after. I can’t believe they are doing this, this is the 6th time I’ve called. Forty-five after, Mike calls me, Roach calls James.

I snatch James’s phone and ask, “What the hell is going on?”

“Sorry dude, we overslept… can we still make it?”


When she will marry me outside with the willow trees,


Top 5 Picks

1) Map of the Problematique — Muse
2) All The Trees In The Field Will Clap Their Hands – Sufjan Stevens
3) Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying – Belle & Sebastian
4) Innocents Civilian – Radiohead
5) 2 + 2 = 5 – Christopher O’Riley