Feature Article – Big Mana Rock Ready To Roll

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Monday, February 18th – John Friggin’ Rizzo is ready for some hot and heavy PTQ action! He has his deck of choice – Big Mana Rock – sleeved, tweaked, and ready to go. Today, he takes us through his thoughts on the deck and matchups, before telling us that he feels the deck is very good indeed. The last time he felt that was the day he brought us Friggorid…

Big, fat, gnarly, pus-oozing, game-altering, life-affirming, erection-inducing spells are the ultimate in satisfaction on a primordial and pseudo-sexual level, and are, sans exception, the meaning of life. In a world where bigness matters, you can’t get more gargantuan than Profane Command for your life total, and Elle Driver’s baby blue ain’t even tryin’ to hear otherwise.

I am high on Big Mana Rock to the extent that I search it for an orifice to afford us the copulation we both so richly deserve. Thnks fr th mmrs, big spell. Kiss cuddle snuggle coo sigh purr.

You don’t care about my testing results, and you’d likely disregard them as baseless lies, which they would be, so I won’t include them, much. Since the deck has quickly matured (i.e. no longer uses utterly crappy cards like Tarmogoyf), much of the early testing is difficult to consider as accurate and up-to-date anyway. This way you can b*tch about the lack of playtesting data when you register your “R1zz0r iz teh pr3mium?!” gripes in the forums.

After hundreds of games, I’m anywhere from slightly hesitant to somewhat happy to blissfully self-lubricated with the deck’s potential against everything in the field. Since it’s nearly impossible to test against all possibilities, I lump-sacked decks into categories consisting of Control, Aggro, Combo, and Rocky-Types. As such:

Next Level Blue

Red Deck Loses In The Semis Again
Domain Zoo

Bubble Hulk

Doran the Explorer
Gifts Rock
Death Cloud

I don’t know where to put it:
Scepter Boom

Some of the decks may be slightly mis-categorized, and some are no longer widely played, and if there are some I forgot mea culpa, but my heart is in the right place and that’s all that matters.

By the way, Wall of Roots is better than Crapogoyf.
I’m right, $160 bucks later.

Here’s the latest list:

Like most of my decks, you’ll look at the list and giggle to yourself like the little cross-dressing b*tch you are. “How dumb,” you’re likely to think, without ever shuffling it up, let alone playing hundreds of games like I have, what with being the respected journalist and furious tester that I am. Of course, when you test thirty games against Doran and Domain Zoo, and no one plays them anymore, one conclusion that can be reached is wtf, just wtf. I’m sorry I called you a b*tch.

If I did bother to elucidate or wax poetic about the cutesy plays the deck can make, The Typicals would simply get their typical on. Aside from swearing up and down they figured out the ending to The Usual Suspects, The Sixth Sense, and Saw in the first half hour, they’d realize the deck just scoops to Obliterate (!).

Typical: How much snow did you get?
You: Nine inches.
Typical: I got ten!

Typical: When did you lose your virginity?
You: Ten.
Typical: I lost mine at seven!
(The above back-n-forth actually happened. Saddest thing ever much?)

Typical: Ever been in a serious car accident?
You: Yeah, I broke two ribs and fractured my skull.
Typical: I was killed in a car accident!

When I read an article where the author spends six pages talking about his deck, I know the forums will trolled by The Typicals and their “why not use card x instead of your dumb card y?” or “you get wrecked by card z!” There is usually a reason x, y, and z aren’t present. Yeah, why don’t you tell us why, then! No!

I’ve learned to trust myself and not succumb to the posturing of those who shout from their flat earth technology soapbox. The first time this happened was when I was in the process of creating Ichorid. I could see the grinning faces and hear the pity-laden snickers when I’d talk about the deck. I thought to myself “you stupid f***, you don’t have a goddamned clue.” Turns out they didn’t, actually.

It happened again during the development of Mono Black In Standard (Persecute!? Stoopid card alert!), and on and on, all the way to States ’07 and my current Standard deck, Madness, which at last count has four Top 4s in four attempts at City Champs.

Sometimes it feels like me against the world. Those odds suck, but every once in a while, the little guy makes a dent in the armor of the groupthink establishmentarianism. Dents are cool, like scars, and chyx with dents and scars and tons of emotional baggage. This deck can be a dent with a scar, or it can roll over and play dead, like every chyk I’ve ever had, though it hasn’t to this point.

To be fair to those of you who will wonder why I’m so excited about such an iffy array of cards, allow me to spit a little. If you’d like to offer comments or suggestions, feel free to do so, but do it most atypically, please. If you say “put the ‘Goyfs back in,” I’ll get all O-Ren on your dome, and I’ll say it in English (and get Eli to translate into Japanese) so you’ll know how serious I am.


Urborg/Spreading Algae!


First off, most of the key spells are out of Counterbalance range; this is supposedly something to be aware of in this environment. However, since that deck is difficult to play, has quite a few pricey rares, and is, well, mentally draining, I can’t expect to face many players who think nine rounds of self-immolation is the best way to spend a Saturday. Plus Deed p0wnz!

Still, much like the Death Cloud decks, the massive number of big spells can cause headaches for the counter player. Sure, they have Shackles, but I have D33d (p0wnz!) and Miren, a chance for Bosejiu, and their Explosives will never hit for much that matters.

They may stop the first Profane Command for fifteen, but can they stop Lily Vess’s ability to get me Black Command number 2 and 3, or three times Korlash? Maybe they can, and I certainly don’t look forward to playing NLU; I played one test game and it took so long that I fell asleep and dreamed I won. Go me!

My mantra for all decks that seek to counter target spell: they’ll get some, but will they get enough and find a win condition before the big mana spells start flying? Tron may, and please Mindslaver lock me, that’s fun. I promise to never concede to a Slaver lock, unless it’s in my best interest, and force that milky to play it all the way through, and hope he pulls a boner like that licker that did so at the PT or GP or wherever.

Anyone with the balls to play MUC should be given a five minute time extension on general principle. Then a match loss for playing MUC. As for ‘Tog? Is the best creature in Magic even any good anymore? I think I have the tools to beat it, what with them having all of five threats and Genesis. But lots of worthless Smothers!

Conclusion: I think I have game against control.

Constructed genius.
I prove my smarts so often.
Five, seven, five, w00t!


Affinity is a simple match. I either D33d (p0wnz!) away all their stuff or I don’t. Actually, it’s a little more involved than that, but not much. The Explosives in the board are mostly for Pithing Needle on Deed (p0wnz!), since no self-respecting brown mage would allow themselves to be so vulnerable to one card. Right, Kataki?

Sometimes it’s a matter of putting something in front of their biggest guy until I can drop monsters or Command the piss out of them. But man, when they do that “sac things to Ravager” just to put them on an unblocked Ornithopter, it makes a brother sure wish he had a Smother in hand.

Domain is much like Affinity, in that Deed (p0wnz!) and blocking is key. However, they have the ability to do so much early damage that wiping their board is sometimes semi-irrelevant, since burn spells to the face work just as well, if not quite as efficient.

Wall of Roots and Elder shine like sons a b*tches in this matchup. Kokusho is this year’s Sexy Pimp MVP. Tell me about all the decks that can handle Kokusho, I’ll listen.

I haven’t tested against Red Deck Makes Top 8 or Goblins, and I’m not sure I’ll bother. I liken them to Affinity and Domain, figuring they’re about as quick and pretty much try to do the same thing every game. I’d like to have seven or eight Baloths for RD, but life gain is so noob!, and as is happens, not always relevant. Plagues would be nice for Goblins, but who plays Goblins outside of Legacy?

At this point, I can bring up my secret shame that is tearing me apart because it’s neither a shame nor tearing me apart but I’m melodramatic. It’s the “add White for Hierarch and Kataki” conundrum. Adding one Godless Shrine and one Plains, and throwing three Hierarchs and Kataki in the board seems like the right play. What it does, in reality, besides suck, is make me question every Elder sac and Scrying search, wondering should I get the White source now in case I need to grab an elephant later?

Mostly, I just play the usual game — fetch the Tron piece and figure that I can get the White source some other day, or worse yet, not even care about the white, since I usually don’t need it. But man, if I did need it… Wait, do I add a White source in the ‘board so I can Wish for it? Bleh. And Kataki is so freakin’ good, yo, that maybe he could make NLU’s Top/Shackles life miserable. Rape the maxed-out manabase for life and Affinity foil? Noes.

The White versus No White argument occurs every couple days, and to this point, No White has won every single time. Am I wrong? I don’t think so. Anyway…

Aggro-Loam might be in the wrong category but omg whatever. The last I heard, no one plays this deck anymore, which is probably why everyone will start playing it. So long as no one remembers that Blood Moon is good against…the entire format, I’m fine with it.

I feel like I have a strong chance against any deck that tries to beat down. Decks that include land destruction, particularly those who seek to blow up all the lands, suck. I can shake off a Vindicate or Molten Rain, but Dreams or Boom/Bust? I’m not so sure, neither is Korlash.

The idea against Loam would be to drop fatties ASAP, so Dreams is not a realistic option, and Deeding away Assault seems tight, but I don’t know how to attack Scepter Boom, save for Deeding away their silly brown cards and thinking about Krosan Grip.

Conclusion: I think I have game against aggro.

I need no White, yo.
Black and Green mana can rool.
Less color screw: good.

Haiku needs more lines.
And they should rhyme.
Dumbest form of poetry ever.
Except for Maya Angelou.
Seriously, Maya, you’re not 11 anymore.


Dredge may be annoying, but the good news is that they use Ichorid! The pressure to interact, and in a damned hurry, is certainly real. Living Wish for Snout or Jailer is sexy, but the quickest that can happen is turn 3. That won’t do much against Akroma. Actually, not much will, so I can’t spend too much time worrying about that; I’d rather focus my attention on the things I can attack. Elder, the back end of Therapy, Deed, and Wishing for sex are clutch, but Dredge has this deal where it can just win all over your face no matter what.

I’ve gone about 40/60 game 1, and I’m prepared to call that good, since game 2 offers my standard “interaction” package plus a Jailer and ‘Snout from the board, leaving one of each for Wish targets, and taking that 40 and tacking on a few points.

The question of Extended seems to be: can your deck beat Dredge? The answer is: no deck can beat Dredge and every deck can beat Dredge. “How much hate are you willing to bring in, and how much of it will stick to the board” is the real answer.

I think I lose to Ideal or TEPS, and I’m not sure if it’s close or horribly one-sided, but I don’t see that changing my deck to be more able to interact with them is worth it. Adding White to throw in a couple Kami of Ancient Law seems like a losing proposition that would likely provide such a minimal percentage gain that it’s nearly inconsequential. Plus, Deed (p0wnz!) is like, kinda good against any deck that plays artificia, so Lotus Bloom away.

I prefer to think that today’s Extended is generally creature-based, and while it may seem I’m burying my head in your mom, I’m not completely defenseless against combo. As for Bubble Hulk, after reading the latest article by the designer, I’m not sure if the deck got better or worse. The same tenets that apply to Dredge should suffice here.

Conclusion: I think I have game against combo, but not a whole lot. And I don’t care.

omg this is brokerz:

Cateran Summons and changelings.


As for Junk, which I would call any version that uses less than four Dorans, I played against it for a solid hour and didn’t lose a game. My biggest fear has long been Vindicate, but in two different games, a turn 2 and 3 Vindicate on my lands (while on the draw), quickly followed up by ‘Goyf and Bob, only served to prevent the inevitable slaughter.

Obviously, I was quite pleased to weather that storm, and do so with such panache. You shoulda seen me, lookin’ all calm and mack-like. I was also concerned about Junk’s ability to shred my hand into oblivion. Well, it happened over and over, but when there are fifteen to twenty cards that can be drawn to pretty much eliminate aggression from the other side, it’s easier than I thought to play off the top.

After eight or nine games, Tyler Foss, Bad Junk Pilot, could only ask “why can’t I beat this deck?” I had no answer, save for my having a deck filled with answers that also ask better questions than his. One such answer was drawing a late game Scrying. Useless, huh? Not if you fetch Shizo, drop it into play and give your 11/11 Korlash fear. gfg.

Kokusho is. So. Good. What does a pair of 5/6 ‘Goyfs do against Kok? Serve and suck it up, or stare at the 10-point swing and say go? What does it do when another Korlash and Spiritmonger come down the next turn? Even Damnation isn’t going to clean up that mess.

Plain ol’ Rock, Rock-n-Nail and Gifts Rock may be able to card advantage me to death via Eternal Witness and whatever else they can dig up and hit me with again. They have Deeds, but I have really big regenerators. Some of them have Putrefy, and I’ll have really big dead regenerators. But a key, I think, in these matches is my ability to get freakin’ nuts with Profane Command. With twenty mana, it’s profane all right, particularly so when it faces for eighteen and gives Korlash and Spiritmonger fear. Conversely, they can Command for, like six. Wow.

Death Cloud, on the other hand, concerns me because its titular card can blow up everything and not miss a beat — Garruk’s funny like that. People say the deck can’t beat anything but itself and Next Level Blue, so I hope they avoid those matchups like they’re down with the sickness. Still, I relish the challenge of out-Rockin’ the real Rock decks, especially when I don’t waste my precious slots with seven discard spells. Go ahead and shred my hand. I still get to draw a card every turn, and oh, you drew a Duress to deal with Spiritmonger? Awesome!

I’m not a fan of needful things. In my ideal world, nothing would be needy, except of course, me. I’d have dozens of people hot chyx to satisfy my needs, whatever they might be. Do you think the job of Needer exists? If you come across it, let me know so I can apply post haste. I’m very qualified.

At this point, I must confess that I feel I’ve been awfully modest. I think my deck can keep up with any of the above decks, and at the risk of jinxing myself, there are no matchups that I positively dread. I have solutions to most of the common problems, and it’s true that the answers aren’t always the best available or most readily accessible for every situation, but I’m playing here, too. They have to worry, at least a little, about what I’m going to do. Answer me, you transgendered punk!

I’m ready to take on the world, so bring it on, sloppy, net deckin’ fools. There, that little burst of confidence ought to be good for a 2-5 day now. Of course, I’m always willing to hear ideas, providing that they’re not based solely upon scanning the decklist and asking “where is Mutavault?”

There is no Multavault!

In the immortal words of Sol Malka, “You know what I’m playing, beat me if you can.” In the past I would have added “…and I know you can,” and though I know you can, I don’t know that you will. The last time I felt this confident about a deck before a PTQ was two years ago, and that deck became Friggorid.

Big Mana Rock isn’t going to break the format, but it may make a dent, because this ain’t a deck it’s a goddamned arms race! The deck is good. There, I said it. I’ll find out in Connecticut, and with three more PTQs and a Grand Prix trial to follow, that should be a large enough sample size to determine if I know what the hell I’m talking about, or The Typicals are right.

But man, I hope they’re wrong.

John Friggin’ Rizzo

Pimpin’ New England, LaPille style:
2/23 Stratford, CT
3/1 Brighton, MA
3/22 Milford, MA
3/29 Standish, ME