Dreams of Flametongue Kavu

The incomparable JFR opens his mind once more, and shares his insanity with the fair readers of StarCityGames.com! His article brings the updated lists for Nearly Mono-Black in Standard, a deck with which John has powered to a number of low-profile finishes… He also has some advice for those looking to better their game, and the tale of a Magic dream so bizarre it’ll have you bursting at the seams…

I’m a tired old man sometimes. This is one of those times, except that I’m not old, at least if the control subject is older than, oh, thirty-seven. With that established, let me introduce you to a deck that you should not play.

Dear Craig,

Please don’t put this deck in one of those “recommend” boxes, for you may tarnish my reputation as a brilliant deck designer and all-around general Magic genius.


Brilliant deck designer and all-around swell guy

Nearly Mono Black In Standard Again

4 Birds of Paradise
4 Elves of Deep Shadow
4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
3 Umezawa’s Jitte
4 Wood Elves
4 Hypnotic Specter
3 Putrefy
3 Persecute
3 Nekrataal
2 Meloku the Clouded Mirror
2 Kokusho, the Evening Star
1 Keiga, the Tide Star
2 Simic Sky Swallower
4 Forest
4 Overgrown Tomb
4 Llanowar Wastes
2 Breeding Pool
2 Yavimaya Coast
2 Swamp
1 Underground River
1 Island
1 Shizo, Death’s Storehouse

4 Naturalize
4 Carven Caryatid
2 Woebringer Demon
2 Okiba-Gang Shinobi
2 Nightmare Void
1 Persecute

This is what’s called “wow, I finally traded for some Kamigawa legends and I can’t wait to squeeze them all into one deck!” If that happens to you, lemme give you a word of advice: don’t. Critical Mass is one thing, the above deck is another.

I planned to play that latest incarnation of NMBIS at the first NAC qualifier on Saturday, which started at noon, with the expectation that it would likely end up somewhere between “real good” and “not real good at all.” However, I had to work Saturday, although I was assured by about fifty or sixty different guys that “no one ever works past eleven thirty on a Saturday.”

Can you figure out what I’m about to say next?

Tip: when you’re driving a box truck that is 13’6” high and you meet a bridge that’s 12’10”, something has to give. I’ll pause for a moment while you consider the likelihood that I rammed the truck into a bridge and caused massive carnage.




Obviously, since I’m good at driving, I didn’t, though I appreciate that many of you were anxious to learn exactly what does happen when steel meets concrete at fifty miles per hour and it would have been all my fault.

After taking a twenty-minute detour and running into more “unforeseen” problems than anyone in the history of hard to figure out stuff, I made it to Crossroads precisely thirty minutes late. Alas, there’s always the Casual. With four players. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but…

I made Top 4.


Ooh, did I just Natural Order out a turn 3 Simic Sky Swallower? Gee, did my opponent just play a turn three Stinkweed Imp? Stop laffin’ at me! I still won the match because I am talented.

Golly, in the next round, did my opponent go infinite in a mono-Green elf deck? In case you can’t figure it out, here:

He had Priest of Titania and three elves, while I had three or four of my own. He tapped for a whole bunch, and put a little mana into Staff of Domination. OMG I had to scoop immediately. I still won the match because I have a wonderful muffin ass.

Anyhow, there were about twenty-five or so fellas who thought they had what it took to win the spot to the NAC Championship or whatever they call it. But only one had the guts and balls and intestinal fortitude to take home the blue envelope, which is not really blue. Come to think of it, I don’t think Crossroads actually hands the winner an envelope at all, but lemme get back to you on that.

The Top 8 was comprised of eight different decks, with Brian F***in’ Smith going undefeated though the Swiss. But you can read all about that on Brainburst, where he can regale you with round after round of detailed examination and in-depth discussion, and tips and tricks and justifications on the cards in the deck, and how he ID’d in the last round, but what you won’t read is anything about the time he climbed Mt. Everest (kinda), or the Yawgatog-‘shopped Northern Paladin that is now Crossroads desktop on the store computer.

You also won’t read about how hot that chick’s ass was, or even how hot the other one was. Please don’t expect gossip or techy slang or iffy grammatical usage other than the occasional typo, and you certainly can’t expect Brian to divulge whether he’s an ass or tit man.

Peep this:

I told Craig Stevenson, lowly Featured Writer, to “show some ass, damnit,” and not more than a month after he did indeed let down his British hair and Limey testes, he was promoted to editor.

I rest my case. Forever. [You win. — Craig.]

For those of you who read Brainburst and will check out Brian’s article, drop a note in the forums to let him know that if he doesn’t loosen up a little and stop being “give me strategy or give me death and that’s the only thing that matters in this life” boy, then, well…I’ll… tease him unmercifully and call him a [censored] and a [censored] and man, eighth grade was neat, huh?

So there, strategy writers, let us know if you wear boxers or briefs, or even if you prefer freestyle, and if you happen to have sex, take drugs or do both while listening to rock-n-roll, tell us all about it in graphic detail, for this is what makes Magic real.


The winner was Matt Potvin with W/B House Guard control. For the Top 8 decklists, hit CrossroadGames.com and figure it out from there. Also, I think there are naked pictures of me on there somewhere, so right click and save as to your hearts content.


While strolling around the top table in the last round, I witnessed the following:

Cory Abrams is playing R/B aggro against a U/G grafty kinda thing, when Cory casts a mid-game Fall into a hand of four cards or so.

The first card revealed is Demonfire.
The second card revealed is Demonfire.

The moral of the story can only be…

P.S. Don’t Demonfire you.

Did I get a little off track? Back to business, and why my deck sucks. I played about a dozen test games with Josh Boucher, Thinker, and got my ass handed to me by his W/G/B Masterpiece kinda thing. I took cards out, added some in, and even cheated a little, but all to no avail.

Funniest play ever:

Josh Boucher, Thinker, has no cards in hand while I have seven, thanks to double Arena, and the board is chock fulla my creatures and my creatures only, when Josh rips Persecute. He nails me for seven. See, that’s how bad I am at Magic, and why the deck, no matter what I did – other than add White, bleh – sucked complete and utter ass.

So I went home, cried myself to near sleep and then built this for the Sunday Standard:

All The Way Mono Black In Standard

4 Distress
3 Umezawa’s Jitte
3 Cruel Edict
4 Phyrexian Arena
4 Rend Flesh
3 Yukora, the Prisoner
2 Hideous Laughter
4 Nekrataal
2 Kagemaro, First to Suffer
2 Kokusho, the Evening Star
1 Nightmare
1 Debtors’ Knell
3 Sickening Shoal
2 Consume Spirit
18 Swamp
4 Ghost Quarter
1 Shizo, Death’s Storehouse

2 Night of Souls’ Betrayal
4 Hypnotic Specter
2 Nightmare Void
3 Persecute
4 Seize the Soul

Somewhere along the “get smashed repeatedly” route, I determined that my biggest problem was in whittling away the Black, taking if from “nearly” mono to “splash Black even though all the Black cards have bb in the casting cost.”

And man if I’m not sick of Persecute, for it is dated technology improper. Everyone uses it now, and if everyone uses a card, then you know I can’t use it because I need to handicap myself because I need to lose to prove to myself that I really am a worthless human being. Well, at least that’s what my therapist says.

I drive a box truck for a living.

“Man, you are one pathetic loser!”
Jim Carrey, Dumb and Dumber

frigginrizzo: ←sucks at everything, ever.

So. I took this to the Sunday Standard, excepting to gain something of value for next weeks NAC qualifier. While it was only a three round dealio, since apparently Magic nerds like to go to the beach when it’s nice outside (rofl at the mere possibility of geeks at the beach) I figured this would nevertheless be a first step into determining the viability of Mono Black in Standard. I’ve been threatening to completely ignore the other four colors because they all suck, and this would be the first step to proving to myself, and all of you, just how smart I am at Magic.

Round 1 saw me mulligan because I’m bad at manabases, get stuck on two lands for two really, really long turns, and get trounced by SSS and the rest of the Critical Mass gang. I did get to trade Yukora with Kodama, and damnit, I think that’s a wonderful deal! Even when your opponent follows up with Meloku.

Game 2 saw me with a fistful of removal and Yukora on the table, faced off against Keiga and random creature. Talk about nothing I can do: kill his two guys and lose Yukora or simply lose when he plays the second Keiga in his hand? I lost, but I’m not telling you how! Mystery4L!

Another council tenancy

The second round pitted Mono Black against Mono Green and guilds are for losers! Anarchy roolz! Until you reach ninth grade and the teachers tell you what anarchy is, then all of a sudden being able to steal Barely Legal and Penthouse from the 7-11 and get away with it doesn’t seem so kewl.

Cloaked Ledgewalkers are trouble, but not when you kill everything that came before it and throw down Kokusho, Nightmare, and Kagemaro for spite. Ditto the second game, although he did get the Serow/Carven combolicious going, at least until I Jitte’d up a 5/5 flyer and Kokusho’d him to death.

The third round was against Chet Norton and his U/W/G control deal, where I lost the first game because I should, and won the second because wow and holy hell is Nightmare Void a beating. I expected that it could be, but until now had never seen it in action. I teased Chet with a turn 2 Jitte (Spell Snare) and turn 3 Arena (Mana Leak), and then turned on the charm.

He countered the first one, then the second, and even the third, then tapped out for SSS. Of course I had Edict. Now, with Chet’s hand nearly depleted and him in “play whatever you draw or lose it” mode, I finally felt like a real boy! It helped that I quickly added an Arena and Hyppie and Kokusho and omg Nightmare is so good he can block SSS and live.

I killed his hand in game 3 and actually had the beef to finish him off before he could topdeck an answer, unlike the original NMBIS and those wacky Hellbent decks that lose to guys playing off the top because they can only say, “attack you for two, go.”

After the match:

Chet: I think I underestimated Nightmare Void.
Me: Me too.
Chet: Let’s rub wieners.
Me: M’kay.

Thus cements the new dawn of Not Nearly But Actual Mono Black In Standard.

Mono Black In Standard

4 Distress
3 Umezawa’s Jitte
3 Cruel Edict
4 Phyrexian Arena
4 Hypnotic Specter
3 Yukora, the Prisoner
4 Nekrataal
2 Nightmare Void
2 Kagemaro, First to Suffer
2 Kokusho, the Evening Star
1 Nightmare
1 Debtors’ Knell
3 Sickening Shoal
2 Consume Spirit
18 Swamp
4 Quicksand
1 Shizo, Death’s Storehouse

2 Night of Souls’ Betrayal
4 Rend Flesh
3 Persecute
4 Seize the Soul
2 Hideous Laughter

I dunno, and you don’t either, but only one of us has to play this in the next qualifier. I’m glad it’s not you.

Did I mention that the wife and kids are on vacation? Indeed, in Virginia, they’re visiting hottie-in-law, who finally pushed out that baby from her vagina because that’s where babies really come from. “Vagina” is such an unattractive word. “Penis,” on the other hand, is kewl, but only because two syllable words rool. An example:

Hot plus
Chyk equals
Two syllables.

What this means for me is ten days of complete weirdness – no wife, no kids, no nothing, while it means nothing to the average gamer nerd, although for you married-with-children dudes, it does require your asses turning green with envy. I just wanted to throw that out to you guys who long for quiet time, a few down moments… just a mere hour or so of “me time.” I got ten days of it, and I’m already bored out of my freakin’ mind.

Weird dream alert:

I was on a football field in the middle of an NFL game, when I followed a player as he raced downfield and into the end zone. He bumped into me and considered apologizing, but was torn, because there were seats on either corner of the end zone at field level and one guy in particular was holding a plaque of some sort and asked the player in question to come over. He did and I followed. The plaque read:

“Flametongue, best player ever.”

Remember, kids.... lay off the drugs

As we read the plaque, the entire crowd of fifty-some-odd thousand started chanting “Flametongue! Flametongue! Flametongue!” and did an imitation Atlanta Braves tomahawk chop while making a loud “aaaahhhh” sound as if breathing fire, perhaps in homage to the artwork on the best tempo creature ever.

I found it odd that a football player would be named after such a ridiculous beat/removal stick, but it was even more odd when I checked the newspaper in my hand (open to the sports page), and saw Flametongue’s stats increase as if a newspaper could be updated in real time.

Flametongue then offered me a ride “anywhere you want, bro,” and somehow I ended up driving a very large truck into a quiet cul-de-sac. Quiet, yes, but only for a moment, because at the foot of a hundred-story skyscraper that was only ten feet wide was a man on a nicely manicured lawn with one of those old-school microphones in hand.

It was Rush Limbaugh.

He started his opening monologue, but then started screaming in frustration. I asked him what was wrong, then he turned bright red, and started to spew forth vile and repulsive words, at least I think they were though couldn’t tell, since he was speaking either in tongues, or in a language I’ve never heard.

Before I could get to the bottom of Rush’s problem, the alarm went off. My hand automatically slapped down the snooze, and six more minutes of bizarre world was all mine. Hopefully, I could get to the end of this nonsense.

I was immediately back in the same stadium, though everything was different: there were no people, no Flametongue, and complete silence. But in the end zone was Flametongue’s plaque: “best player ever.”

I dropped to my knees in panic, thinking that I must get this back to Flametongue as soon as possible! Then I realized I didn’t know where to find him, and as I held the plaque in my trembling hands, I started to sob, real girlie-like, although with a touch of black comedy.

Then the alarm went off and I actually woke up, like, right the freak now. I bolted out of bed, knocked on my proverbial ass by both the realism and surrealism, and promised that I would remember the entire dream. Alas, I only got about half, so all you amateur dream analysists, have at it.

But man, weird.

Analyze Me,
John Friggin’ Rizzo

By the way, yours truly – along with Abrams and perhaps Mikey M – is heading to Nationals at the end of the month, and, much like Brian Smith when he climbed Mt, Everest which you can’t read all about in his columns, plan to do so on the poverty level. This means that we’re all without living arrangements, so let us crash in your freakin’ room, you d*ckheads!

It has something to do with the wifey and I getting rid of all our credit cards a few years back and Hotwire and the hotel ain’t tryin’ to hear dat, but whatever. Let us crash.

The above horny brothers, in addition to being bad at Magic and self-conscious about our boners, are willing to pay 3/Xth of the cost of your room, where X is the total number of horny Magic bastard gamers in the room. Oh, and you can sign my Ichorids, too.

Plus, think of the stories you can take home with you: frigginrizzo really does build tents in hotel rooms and read Inquest and Scrye from 2001 and sleep with his hands in his pants and talk nonstop about Jackie and Becky and Jill and omg is he dreamy and maybe you’ll get to see me naked though I doubt it ‘cause I’m such a tease.

Thus, if you have floor space available, and wouldn’t mind letting three degenerate Magic freak *ssholes share your expenses in exchange for mostly non-sexual favors, then discuss this situation in the forums or email a brother at [email protected]. Or we’ll all sleep in the lobby in the nude, or do what all smelly, nerdy Magic gamers do at multi-day events: stay the freak up the whole time.

frigginrizzo: ←ass man, just sayin’.

See you at Nats, nerds.