Feature Article – Four PTQs Walk Into A Grand Prix Trial… (Part 1)

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Wednesday, April 2nd – One Deck. Five Events. Over Thirty-Three Thousand Words.

John. Friggin. Rizzo.

Disclaimer: This article is like, really, really long. Please dress appropriately.

Sometimes I’d play five PTQs in one season, each with a fresh 75, and if the writing on that particular wall indicates something other than an awful lot of 2-5 records, read my reports that are so much fun to write when you get your ass kicked for two months straight.

Thus, I determined to ply my trade with one deck, like all-season radials, sans the set of $500 rims on my $1000 car, like every teenage pizza delivery boy you’ve ever met.

Big Mana Rock was the deck.
I was the man.
This is my story.

PTQ One:

The big question was: Engineered Plague or Oblivion Stone in the board? Logic dictates that O-Stone is good against, like, everything, while Plague is good against, like, Clerics.

In close calls such as this, I am more likely to rely on instinct. My gut told me to listen to Shante, whose subtle forum suggestion hinted that Goblin hate isn’t the worst idea ever.

Whatever you say about Shante and affinity for large-breasted women, my boy is rarely off base, except when it comes to his unnatural and vitriolic hatred for c-cups and lower.

I don’t think he’s been wrong, Magic-wise, since he wrote for Neutral Ground, and even then he was only partially misguided, memory serves. I straightened his ass out, though, but thanks for the mammaries.

While there is a certain segment that thumbs their nose at the establishment, most of the rest can be counted upon to be as predictable as Denzel Washington always playing the black guy in every film he ever did.

This should make it easy to figure what the field is likely to be playing. I bet it’ll be (drumroll….) net decks (really?) (well, duh!), and likely those that get the tasty tabloid ink on Swimming With Sharks.

It seems a self-fulfilling prophecy: the net implies or flat-out says: “look for a breakout weekend for deck A,” and “is it time to bring in the foil in deck B?” and voila!, x number of people believe that shark cartilage is tight ‘cause sharks don’t get cancer and play deck A, while others swallow the omega-3 fish oil pills from Iceland.

This is part of the fun of Extended — every week is a topsy-turvy, pick a side, eenie-meenie-larry-curly-moe, and everyone with good cards. I don’t know that one can accurately predict the Extended metagame unless you’re a weathervane, even for one PTQ, but a decent grasp can’t hurt me more than it hurts you.

With that in mind, I decided to completely ignore what everyone else was playing and focus on creating a tight 60, with an adjustable waistband in the side, Sans-a-belt style.

However confident I felt, the days leading up to PTQ One had me wrecked with every possible nightmare scenario:

Empty handed and creatureless facing NLU and their board of my Kokusho and Korlash.
Drawing a hand of Coffers, Swamp, and five Green spells against Goblins.
Dredge and Bubble Hulk going off turn 1.

Turn 2 and 3 Vindicate from Doran.
Turn 2 and 3 Molten Rain from Zoo.
Birds, ‘Vore, Dreams from Loam.
Affinity dumping its entire hand and killing me before I can untap with Deed.
Affinity dumping its entire hand that also includes Needle on Deed.
Watching all my stuff get killed by Death Cloud.

If it bleeds, it leads in my doomsday scenarios. If the situation is even remotely possible, it already happened to me, and my opponent was a d*ck, too. And I was naked. On YouTube.

However convoluted my f33rs, none of them could betray what I knew: my deck equals the goodness. But man, all of the above is going to happen, with mana screw thrown in to smite my own damned hellhole. I deserve it all.

When I would calm down and allow a sense of normalcy to return my blood pressure to levels resembling that of a living human, the question still lingered: Plague or O-Stone? Never mind that neither are a particularly good answer to Patriarch’s Bidding, except that Plague is a very good answer to Bidding.

Focus only on what matters! Me taking names and embellishing the report matters, and nothing else. If that is the solitary goal, Shante let’s hug.

Here’s the deck:

In the last three weeks, the one main deck change has been swapping a Forest for Tranquil Thicket-slash-Shante-tech that’s a lot better than I thought. After kicking Genesis out of the deck at least twice, then putting it back in for one last gasp due to forum love, out he went for the last time.

In hundreds of games against Legacy Goblins, Plague has proved its worth over and over. I’ve won about 90% of the games where one hit; when two hit, gfg, mf!

Thus, completely different formats and the inbred Crossroads Legacy metagame aside, I’m going to bed, knowing that I have three Plagues in the board for tonight’s sweat-inducing, vomit-falutin’, halogen nightmare scenarios.

Make the world a better place,
Punch a Goblins player in the face.

(except Shante)

PTQ — Hollywood
Gaming Etc., Stratford, CT
79 peeps/7 rounds

In order to arrive with the sexiness, that is, not late enough to hold up the entire show, I figured we’d have to leave Portland around 5am. This meant I had to get up around three and leave no later than four. All around teh suck, true enough.

Along for the ride were Cory Abrams, playing Zac Hill version of Dredge, and Chet Norton, playing Affinity, who will both be familiar to those who remember things from my older articles. We were known as “The Impenetrable Tony Danza” for the Constructed three-headed PTQs a couple years back. And now we’re all together again!

We made it in plenty of time, and I even managed to get a rock star parking spot since that’s what I play in real life. I was quite impressed with the layout at Gaming Etc.: a huge open playing space, insanely large display cases featuring all your favorite cards at reasonable costs, and plenty of things to look at whilst you’re milling about.

Combine the above with good lighting, clean bathrooms, food and drink available on site without a tremendous “captive audience” tax tacked on, and you have the recipe for a good PTQ.

Speaking of recipes, today was another episode of Win Tom Shea’s Money. Shea, the owner of TJ Collectibles (PTQ three site), was the T.O. of note, and since the economy is so robust, he decided to offer up beaucoup bucks for no reason except because it’s one hell of a tax write off.

For the first couple rounds, he’d pick a random name and ask them a PT-related question, with a cash prize of $25, 50, or 100. He grabbed a guy and asked the first question, which I think was worth a crisp c-note, or five twenties, or whatever; there’s no way you’re going to claim it on your tax return, so shut up and take it anyway you can.

Who won Pro Tour: London in 1999?
The answer was…Uh…?

At this point, desperate to contribute charitably, Tom turned to the crowd and hands went up. The first guy said “Finkel,” then Tom looked at me and said “Johnny Riz, school these ignorant b*tches!”

I cleared my throat, straightened my tie, and calmly answered “Kyle “The Pimp” Rose,” and was rewarded with a draft set, or more aptly, three packs to open, and just because I keep and read all my old Inquests.

For more packs, or money, or man-love, a bonus question: “He beat two TJ Collectibles players in the Top 8 — name ‘em.” I got Mike Bregoli right off, but could not come up with Baby Huey ftw. Still, before round 1 and I’m already a winner!

Round 1: Jaysen Aponte — Doran

As we’re shuffling up, Jaysen mentions that he likes my stuff. I immediately look down — is my stuff hanging out again? – but then realize he means my articles. I thank him profusely and zip up, but wonder if he knows what I’m playing. I pretend that I am the metagame, and he went all-out to make sure he had answers for me and only me.

I mulligan in the first game, quickly assemble Tron, then Deed away his Goyf, Doran, Jitte, and Birds, leaving my rather large Korlash to pick up the pieces, which is not particularly challenging when he can be given fear and rush past Green things. Wish for Maga for life total plus more ftw.

Jaysen commented that he figured this was a bad matchup. I wanted to agree (having tested a billion games against Doran, and winning, well, just about all of them), but thought that might be a tad conceited.

In the second game, I double mulligan into Shizo and Coffers, with Elder and Wall teasing for a Green source. I don’t find another land, and Jaysen comes out with strong with nasty creatures, and Vindicates the Coffers for good measure. I silently thanked him for ending it quickly.

The third game sees me mulligan again, but for the most part control the flow of the game. Rather than go on offense, Jaysen Vindicated a ‘Monger that I left vulnerable due to improper Wall of Roots use, Putrefied Korlash, Vindicated Kokusho, and finally Vindicated Wished-for Shriekmaw that took out ‘Goyf and threatened to be lethal next turn.

When he ran out of removal, he figured why not play some guys, and came back with Troll Ascetic, Doran, and Gaddock Teeg. I added Korlash to the mix, and at this point we were both playing off the top, with me at 7 and Jaysen at 3. My answer came first in the form of Deed, which blew up his board and let me swing for the win.


Mulligan running total: 4

Round 2: David Chau — B/G Elves

In the first game, I open double Coffers for land — ship it.
My six had no land — ship it.
My five had big Black spells and Miren — ship it.
My four had no land — ship it.
My three had a Forest — keeper!

Yeah, I lost. Pretty resoundingly, too.

Tons of testing showed me that I can keep some, even most, one-land openers, so long as it makes Green and I have acceleration. This is a deck that can not only come back from untenable beats, but win from absolutely nowhere, as you’ll see in a few rounds.

However, it’s very hard to keep a one-lander in a real tournament, even though I know it’s better than going to three. I need more courage!

For game 2, I sided in Plagues, then promptly mulliganed a hand that contained two of them but no land. My six had land and Plague, so naturally I popped a chub.

David, however, played out both Champion and Perfect, and Gripped the Plague when it started to annoy him, which was one turn before I drew a second one and made it so irrelevant.

Mulligan running total: 9

The next round of Win Tom Shea’s Money was a $25 question:

Who is the most winningest American, dollar-wise, in Pro Tour history?

It took the guy a moment, but he did manage to come up with Finkel. If he didn’t, he should have given Tom $25 and received a swift kick in the ass and a shoe in the nuts. I think that concluded the bonanza giveaway, but no matter.

Chet cracked my Lorwyn booster and opened Garruk. See, sometimes it pays to drive 600 miles over 10 hours — you can win, for free, a $30 card! As an added bonus, I pulled my fourth, count it, fourth!, Horde of Notions! Best day ever much!

Round 3: David Hanna — Rogue U/W Scepter Chant

David dropped a turn 1 Hallowed Fountain, I Therapied for Meddling Mage and bam to the blindness! I also saw Spell Snare, Counterspell, and Telling Time. Okay, what the hell is he playing?

He countered a couple semi-important spells, though it’s much easier to know what to play when you suspect it’s about to get countered, and even dropped another Mage, naming Garruk. Heh, the joys of rogue, which is what David actually is.

Anyway, Kokusho, plus Therapy flashback, and Consume Spirit took it to the face, before I really knew what he was playing.

Game 2 sees David drop turn 1 Needle naming Lily Vess, turn 2 Mage naming Deed, turn 4 Mage naming Grip, and then quickly drop Scepter/Chant.

I stuck around for a while, mostly to discover his kill. Soon enough, he dropped another Scepter, this time putting Brain Freeze underneath. “Upkeep, Chant you with kicker, Brain Freeze for six.” That would be awesome if I thought it up and played it. Since it was not me who thought it up and played it, I found it decidedly not awesome.

The third game saw a turn 1 Needle on Deed, and who had two Deeds in hand? From there, Mage — Grip, Mage — Putrefy, took care of all my chances that I didn’t even have in my deck. Despite a turn 4 Kok, who hit once, my offense basically consisted of draw, go, mill myself, until I was very dead.

Now I know how everyone who ever lost to me feels — who is this random with his non-net deck, and where did he get the temerity to enter a tournament with a deck that cannot possibly win the blue envelope!?

Alas, pesky rogue; so gallant thy breach to mien kampf du fallopia! What?

Mulligan running total: 9

Yeah, so I’m out of contention. You were right, I was wrong, my deck is ass, but no it’s not and I’ll keep on fighting the good fight because my deck is good!

About this time, a rather large Yu-Gi-Oh tourney was starting, and while I don’t know much about the game, I did notice that most of the players had calculators in front of them. Yeah, that’s nerdy. I guess slide rules and pocket protectors are no longer in vogue.

Something that blew me away was who was playing. Obviously, you had your ten-to-fourteen year-old nerdy looking middle-class white kids, and damn, bread and butter audience for sure, but I was astonished to see about half a dozen black kids, perhaps in their mid-to-late teens, dressed in the current gangster FUBU (or equivalent) gear, with the $40 Yankee caps with perfectly straight brims.

And they were playing Yu-Gi-Oh. With calculators. If ever there was a way to get instant respect in the hood, collectible card games gotta be it.

Crip: Wanna hit the club? Sip a forty, roll a Philly, grab a shorty?
Blood: Nah, dawg. I’m rollin’ to the Yu-Gi-Oh tourney.

If this isn’t an odd juxt, picture Jon Finkel, back when he was the chubby virginal boy with the afro and comically oversized glasses, mic in hand, freestyling at an underground club.

The more I learn about life, the less I understand, but the more I become generally amused at its ability to continually challenge the continuity. Gangstas playing Yu-Gi-Oh? rofl!

Round 4: Joshua Rushford — Elf Opposition

I start with a mulligan, which shocks me very much for more than two, but an early Therapy rips Opposition from Joshua’s hand, saving me from the turn 4 concession. However, he has Jitte and Garruk in hand. I manage to drop Kokusho, with Miren in play, and draw a few turns of land, waiting for the Overrun that’s sure to come.

But Josh doesn’t Jitte when I think, nor Garruk when I think, instead choosing to play Hermit and unmorph, and finally, a turn after I expected the Overrun, it comes. I breathe deeply and gather my courage, and hope he doesn’t have Gather Courage!

I’m at 14 when the +3/+3 zones. He’s coming at me for 20-plus damage. I block Hermit with Kok, put the D on the S, then suck some life with Miren, putting me at 24 right now, and 4 after the dust has settled.

Josh, still at 17, looks ready for the game-ending alpha strike next turn. But I drop Deed, annihilate his board, and then a large Korlash joins the party. His little guy can’t block my 6/6 Shizo, and a Wish for Maga puts the nail in the proverbial coffin.

I survived a five-creature Overrun. That’s how good Kokusho, and his quasi-sexual life mate, Miren, are.

I come out blazing in game 2, with Elder into Wall/Wish for Tron, and suddenly have twelve mana on turn 5, which I use to drop Kokusho and Spiritmonger and burn for one while just to show who may be the boss.

Josh puts a little guy in the way, though he’s struggling with only three mana and Opposition in hand, but I Command the piss out of him, fear my guys, and that’s all she wrote.

Mulligan running total: 10

In between rounds, I was talking with a guy running Mono Black Control. I admired his (smoothest) balls (in Iceland) to play the best color in Magic sans enhancement. He was very high on Corrupt, which I had dismissed as nowhere near as superb as Profane Command, even in Corrupt’s wildest, wettest and most ridiculously erotic dreams.

He let loose with his talking points, and when I saw that he was married to his position, I silently made sweet love to my Commands.

Obviously, when I reach my seat for the next round, it’s Mono Black Guy. What are the odds.

Round 5: Peter Repp — Mono Black Control

In game 1, I’m faced with a very iffy decision: Peter tapped out for Mirari and passed the turn. I can either play Kokusho, or cast Deed and blow it up to kill Mirari.

I err on the side of beatdown. Peter drops Coffers, and aided by my Urborg, he Corrupts me and copies it with Mirari, doing 12 to… I pick up Kokusho – he corrects me that the damage is going to my face.

Okay, it’s like turn 6, I’m at 8 and he’s at 32. I swing with Kok, Wish for Ghost Quarter, blow up his Coffers, cast Deed and activate it for five, killing Mirari. My my, that’s a lot of stuff to be done on one turn. The rest of the game went like this:

Take five
Take five
Take five
Miscount my mana, Wish for Maga and play it, one short of your life total.
Watch his next draw step with bated breath.
Untap, kill you.

I mulligan game 2, and end up with two Elders in my opener. I play the first one, and Peter drops Needle naming…Elder. He then drops Nantuko Shade, and another next turn, to go along with Phyrexian Arena. I draw a third Elder.

Needless to say, Elder isn’t very good sans activated ability, but he can chump block one whole turn!

Game 3 was one of those games where it looked like I had no chance whatsoever. Peter played an early Shade, and managed to kill both my Elder and Wall in order to force through maximum pumpable damage.

Still, I was able to Wish and Scry for Tron pieces, which looked like small compensation. He dropped a second Shade, which I Consumed for three, mostly in order to feign desperation, since my hand was gas through and threw and thru — three Kokusho and Profane Command.

He still appears to be in complete control with Shade to my nothing and 9 measly life. In two turns, one if he peels Coffers, he’ll be able to finish me off. He drops a second Arena to further that end.

A couple of his buddies drop by and look at the board: looks locked. Their mood is casual, as if the game is in the bag. With Peter at 19, it looks good for him indeed; heck, I woulda bet a buck from this position.

However, I drop Kokusho and suddenly it’s a game again. But no, he kills it, putting us both at 14. But me with nothing, and him with Shade and three cards per turn. He takes a pair from the Arenas, and smashes, getting me oh so lower.

I take my turn, turn 6 for those keeping score at home:

I tap out to Command his face for ten and bring back Kokusho, flashback Therapy, saccing Kok – game winning damage from nowhere, gg.

You could’ve heard a pin drop on top of an ant pissing on cotton.
I make a mental note to play four Commands next week.

Mulligan running total: 11

Round 6: Ryan Durney — Next Level Blue

In the first game, Ryan keeps a reluctant six. He drops Steam Vents tapped. I Therapy for Vindicate (thinking it’s the absolutely worst possible Domain Zoo hand) and find out why: two ‘Goyfs, Threads, Explosives and Spell Snare, but with no potential for Green mana. He plays an Island next turn and passes.

I cast another Therapy and clear out the ‘Goyfs. He finds a sac land and I run Scrying into Spell Snare, mostly so I can get his hand low and hopefully cast Kokusho without Counterspell f33r — no double Blue if he Snares and he did I’m so clever. It goes all the way, then get sacced to Miren ftw.

Ryan joked that he was going to sac the Wall of Roots he stole with Threads to his own Miren that he was about to play next turn. Kokusho is so good that he knows precisely which turn to “go off.”

In game 2, I was so manned up with Tron in play, and a fistful of Kok and Command until… Global Ruin from nowhere. I was left with Urborg and Forest, while Ryan ended up with four lands and dropped two 5/6 ‘Goyfs a turn apart.

Despite this apparent gg, I almost managed to stabilize by recovering more quickly than even I could have imagined, and my Command for “turn the tide and go on to win” was about to come online.

Instead, he got his Command on and I got to shuffling for game 3. See, it’s all about which guy is better equipped to get his Command on. It’s exactly like Jitte wars. Pretty much.

Somewhere in the middle of this game, I had Lily in play and used her tutor ability. When Ryan cut my deck and handed it over, I put my card back on top. When I did so, I lifted it a little too high and thought to myself “um, lift that a little too high, didja, son?”

Even with Top and Counterbalance on the table, I figured I had a slight-to-fair chance for my spell to resolve, since a Therapy revealed no real counters.

Ryan Topped during his upkeep, drew a card and quickly passed.

I drew my semi-secret Pernicious Deed, and Ryan yawned and flipped Shackles.

Me: You saw it, didn’t you?
Ryan: Yeah, but I had three 3s on top.
Me: I’d like to believe you, Linus, but I just don’t know.

Lesson: be careful putting the card back on your deck. But if your opponent has Counterbalance and Top, never mind ‘cause he’ll have three 3s on top or maybe he won’t you’ll never know for sure but don’t let him see it either way don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Game 3, Ryan opened with Island, Mox, Counterbalance on turn 1, then added Top turn 2. Counterbalance isn’t that big of a deal, but the actual counters from his hand happen to be quite important.

He allowed Korlash to hit as a 4/4, which he would then steal with Shackles. He attempts to do so, and I grandeur, much to his chagrin. This’ll give me two turns to beat, and I can add ‘Monger next turn, which I do. With Spirit, Command, Kokusho, and Scrying in hand, I felt like the sky was the limit go me.

However, Ryan tosses down Sower, takes Korlash, drops an island and Shackles ‘Monger. Two to nothing, Ryan. Then he adds a large ‘Goyf. Yet, my deck is the nuttiness. I drop another Korlash as a Wasteland, Elder, and Scry for a second Coffers, ready to get all Cool-J-comebackish on his ass.

Next turn, I tap too much mana and lay Command on the table: -many/-many for Sower and bring back Korlash? He spins the Top — nada. Cracks a sac land and spins again — nada. Cracks another sac land and spins, with two mana remaining. He smiles. “Counter target spell.” Chapin is a d*ck.

While this was a loss and that’s what it’ll say in the newspapers tomorrow, the headline doesn’t tell the whole story. This match could have been mine, and I spent all of the time before the final round replaying the third game in my head. My hand was so good, but his answers were so better, that I couldn’t come up with an alternate plan that resulted in me winning. So just believe the newspapers. They’re always right.

But man, so close and I can feel good about myself, which is really all that matters, especially when you lose. Or so my kids’ teachers keep telling them.

Mulligan running total: 12

Round 7: Paul Quagliato — Bubble Hulk

This game wasn’t really close, since as soon as I saw an Invasion sac land, I Wished for Wretch. It ate the living hell out of his ‘yard, and prevented his combo from ever coming online. Hulk is still beats, but not against Spiritmonger, and when you can’t go get any combo pieces, it’s just a matter of time until Command to the face goes and happens.

Game 2 was a little more iffy. Instead of Wretch, I dropped Plague — Zombie, and a few turns later, Plague — Goblin, thinking that gives me quite the hand up.

Still, Reveillark is beats, and combined with Bile Urchin, gave him another out, albeit a much longer out. We both played cautiously, though he a little less, since he could block Kok every turn, sac Urchin, then get them both back since somehow Rev becomes a 0/0 Rev in the ‘yard, or Body Double or wtf, sees himself and returns as such since he was copying something that wasn’t Rev, but was no longer there and I still have no idea how he could get them both back.

I asked a judge, who just happened to be watching our entire match. He said STFU, or the more current QFT, and I still don’t get it.

That happened for a while, until I Wished for Wretch and ended the graveyard shenanigans. Having the combo I think I know about locked out, and still wondering every single turn, “can he combo from here, with this?” is bad for my peptic ulcer that I didn’t have but desperately needed.

It turns out that Plague was the better call, at least in this one, narrow situation. Shante was right again, but not for the reason he anticipated. You get all over those melon-sized areolas, sore and puffy nipples and vein-laden milkbags, Shante, and I’ll take the normal girlies, if I was in a position to take girlies at all.

Mulligan running total: 12

The record sucks, with the worst possible tie breaker among the 12 pointers, but I was very happy with how the deck performed, other than the initial mulligans.

This was likely due to separating the cards to fill out the deck reg, then failing to shuffle the ever-loving piss out them for an hour afterwards. Plus, the sleeves were brand new and all the way slippy, as they say in Pittsburgh.

After round 2, the mulligans came about as statistically expected, which scientifically proves, within the plus-or-minus three margin of error, that deck separation and new sleeves is teh suck sans teh swallow.

Side note: How it is possible there is a margin of error in a poll? You ask a question, they answer, you write it down and then tally up the answers at the end of the day. You show the results to your boss, who has the accountant-type guy double check them. They then get sent to the media.

As a bonus, what kind of loser is going to be submitted to poll questions? Oh, yeah, the kind of people you find wandering malls in the middle of the day, who are absolutely completely representative of Everyman, USA.

Cory finished 1-4 and wondered why Zac Hill is premium. I informed him that Zac is not premium, to which he replied: “If he could build good decks like you, he would be!” I made some of that up, like, pretty much everything except the 1-4 part.

Chet managed a more reasonable 3-4, and was very proud to have won the mirror match by drawing all of his Ancient Grudges, while his opponent only got one. He asked me if the guy who invented Affinity was premium. I told him I’d ask Craig. [Erm… er… yes? — Craig.]

As for me, 4-3 with a little more of this and some of that thrown in and who knows? Curveballs showed up, as they tend to do from time to time (especially in the loser’s bracket), and I didn’t get to play against Dredge or Goblins or Ideal, so what have I really learned?

The deck does what it’s supposed to do, and it does it better than I thought it would. In just about every game, the Tron was assembled by turn 4, unless I had more pressing matters, and a number of times it was ready by turn 3.

Go Go Dave Feinstein made Top 8 with RDW, and actually played to two legitimate draws, and no one else you probably heard of joined him at the final table. Someone won, but not me, and all because I mulliganed to three in round 2. Yep, that’s the only reason.

Anyway, the day was long, but if ever there is an organizer who could get me to drive 600 miles again, it would be Tom Shea. He helps to put the “fun” in “sex,” the “hot chyk” back in “Magic,” and the “word” back in “’em up.” But we still had 300 miles to go…

Before we left, Cory was seen purchasing cards for That Ninja Deck, hastily sleeving it up and gunslinging away, loving every minute of the cheesy deck that could.

For the rest of the night, it was all about the ninjas. If he had access to throwing stars and nunchucks, my boy would’ve been tappin’ mana Bruce Lee style with the slashes on his chest like in Enter the Dragon.

Chet, on the other hand, fell in love with Mono-Red burn, and much of the ride back was comprised of how to make it oh so much more broken than Red mana already is.

Ensnaring Bridge main was the tech: attack with your little guys, drop Bridge and sit behind it while you burn them to a crisp. Every Red card that ever existed was mentioned, with Furnace of Rath being about the most humorous.

They played an imaginary game in the car:

Chet: Mountain, Fanatic, go.
Cory: Island, that 1/1 changeling, go.
Chet: Attack, Barbarian Ring, go.
Cory: Mutavault, Attack, ninja in Deep Hours –
Chet: Burn him.
Cory: Flash in that Counterspell guy.
Chet: Barbarian Ring him.
Cory: Remove Jitte counters.
Chet: Barbarian Ring Jitte.

And on and on it went until they both fell asleep. I didn’t have the nerve to tell them I Deeded the board a half hour ago.

We stopped for food about half way back, and we happened upon a group of gangsta-lookin’ mugs. The most natural question we could ask that was completely unnatural yesterday was: I wonder if they play Yu-Gi-Oh?

I was about to step up and enter 55378008 on their calculators!

PTQ Two:

I learnt me some lessons last week, but I’m not sure what they were other than “draw more land.” To that end, I added a second Tranquil Thicket. Also, I got real tired of my Deeds getting Needled, and while Plague did win me a game, I have to go to the dark side that is Deeds five through seven but called Oblivion Stone.

As such, here we are:

You took out the Spiritmongers?! Well, I did need another land, kid, and two more facials taste delicious. Basically, it’s a race: your creatures and other dumb cards against my ability to Tron you to death, with Kok and Korlash and Deed to keep things fair, since we’ve had more than thirteen feet of snow so far this year.

Anyway, bring in Void and one creature for Dredge, leaving the other in the side for Wish; O-Stone for NLU, Goblins, Elves, and anything else that wants stuff on the board, and that’s about the extent of sideboarding. I likes ‘em easy, double entendre much?

Actually, I don’t like them easy. I prefer them intelligent, hard, strong, and worth conquering, which becomes more and more attractive as I further turn away from hawties who are willing because they think it’s their patriotic duty and mise well collect a playset of baby daddy while they’re at it.

Make the world a better place,
punch a skanky chyk in the face.
(at the risk of sounding preemptively redundant, STFU before you say)

omg he advocates violence against women!
Skanky chyx aren’t women. Duh.

The frigginrizzo Philosophical-ish Book of the Month Club

Let me go ahead and pretty much recommend “Beggars In Spain,” by Nancy Kress, who is basically Ayn Rand lite. Suggested by Rasgazal a while back in the forums as an alternate take on Atlas Shrugged, it’s certainly an interesting read.

The book takes everything Rand says and condenses it into a bite-sized, easier-to-swallow nugget that isn’t nearly as philosophical or as able to raise my ire, but quite readable due to the sheer neatness and coolness of the initial concept.

Although, there is much less “rapine,” as Henry Luce fellow Zac De La Hill might say. I bet Zac didn’t know that Henry’s wife, Clare Booth to the Luce, was a representative from Connecticut during World War II… and a Republican! Apples! Like them!

“Communism is the opiate of the intellectuals [with] no cure except as a guillotine might be called a cure for dandruff.”
Clare to the Booth to the muthafreakin’ Luce, Newsweek, 1955

“I think I’ll just make Time magazine and then maybe Sports Illustrated because then no one will be able to find quotes from me to drop into Magic articles.”
Henry Luce, Just Made Up Right Now, 2008


The first seventy pages were tremendous, enough that I was ready to have Ras’s babies, or at least have fun trying to work the video camera while the impregnation journey began. It went downhill a bit, before picking up in act III, but that’s probably what you get when you win awards for a novella, and then turn it into a full-fledged actual book.

It was certainly worth its $3.66 price tag.
As a comparison, Atlas Shrugged cost $22.00.

Read both, and you’ll know where that $18.34 went.

Now, back to Magic, since this is a Magic site, not the blog of a fifteen year-old girl with a host of personal problems. I mean, c’mon yo, I got shoes older than you. I only seem fifteen because that’s where I am emotionally, and probably sexually, too. It’s great I can joke about it, but why can’t you?

PTQ — Hollywood
Knights of Columbus, Brighton, MA
94 peeps/7 rounds

Despite the fact that we were expecting another 6-10 inches of snow to arrive on the morning of the PTQ, the plan was to pick up Colton Abrams at 6, Jeff Good at 6:30, and then meet Cory and Chet around 7. Know what they say about plans? They say the same thing about both of our moms while they’re hanging up clothes.

With no regards to the death snow white out, I got out the door before five, gassed up and headed down one of the crappy roads in Maine, of which there are only a scant every single one of them. Right before I made the turn, a snow plow decided to cut me off.

I’m one of those guys who loves me some snow plow because they, like, make my life easier fo sheezier. Plus, I really, really love state workers. They’re so efficient at everything they do, and hardly ever overpaid.

This plow, however, was going about eight miles per hour. It was cute, sure, but after about ten minutes the novelty wore off. Being behind a plow, in driving snow, tends to remove the sense of direction and general ability to know where the hell I am.

Thus, I missed the road where Colton was supposed to be waiting. It was about 6:15 when I realized the road must be *back there*, so I stopped at a c-store and asked. True dat, said the hottie who works every Saturday — I know this because I stop at the same place every Saturday on the way to Crossroads, and off I went to whence I came.

When I got to the road, Colton was not there. Okay, thought I, let’s drive up this other death road which houses his domicile (I think), and see if he’s like, playing EDH with himself in the middle of the road in a snowstorm or something.

The depth of the snow concerned me, since getting stuck is the ass end of teh ass. Worse yet, no signs of Colton or even a legendary general. I drove up and down once more, to no avail.

I never ditched anyone before, but you know, it was 6:40 by now, and we got to motivate. While I felt kinda crappy, I convinced myself that Colton was lying in his bed, sound asleep, dreaming of hotties or turn 1 combo kills, and couldn’t be bothered with something as trite as a PTQ in which neither was likely to appear.

Off I went to pick up Jeff, nice and warm at a Burger King a mere twenty-five miles away. This shouldn’t take long, especially when I got behind every scared straight driver in Maine.

Going 25 in a 50 is not tight in any sense of the word, and most certainly not in the sense that I’m behind schedule and would not like to drive all the way to Brighton just to be told that, golly, you’re too late, but stick around and draft.

I got to BK about 7:50, more than an hour late woot. I hate to be late, and people who are compulsively late should die by my hands even more than Lars Ulrich needs to stop being mad at Napster.

Jeff was pleased to see me, we made out a little and off we went. We got to Denny’s at around 8:15 – Cory and his Ninja deck, and Chet and his $20 Burn, were surprised to see me, figuring I packed in it and didn’t bother to call.

I didn’t bother to call because I forgot to bring Cory’s cell number with me because I didn’t pay attention in Boy Scouts, but only because they banned homosexual troop leaders and the lack of sexual identity diversity made me up and quit before we got to the part about bringing cell numbers with you.

I had to tease the libs a little. Not like they deserve it or anything.

Chet and Cory hemmed and hawed about going, until I said “get in, strap down, shut up, and take off them panties.” They did as they were told.

The ride down was, well, terrifying. I consider myself to be a pretty good snow driver — just don’t try to turn or stop or accelerate, and you’ll be fine. Going down the interstate at 65 miles per hour, however, might be too fast. When I would try to change lanes to pass these slow asses, I thought that perhaps this was the big one, Elizabeth.

I asked the passengers if they were scared, or if they knew how raunchy Redd Foxx was on his albums. The general consensus was one of “concern,” and some interest in this thing called an “album,” but I swore I smelled fear. Jeff decided he was going to play mono White with Marty of Sands — if this isn’t proof of fear, just add Green for Cloaks.

Once we got out of Maine, dreadful state that it is, the snow turned to rain, and then to big, fat, harmless snowflakes. Owing to my mack-like abilities (keeping the girls in line, the Johns happy, and the cops fully grafted), we made it in plenty of time, and met up with many other Mainers who were all playing net decks.

Of all the people I never want to play in any tournament ever, there were two in attendance: Adam Schaff, whose deliberate playing style is so uncomplimentary to my own that I find it nearly impossible to concentrate, let alone harmonize, and Matt Potvin, who is much slower than Adam, but about 200 points better.

Did I mention how much I hate the Knights of Columbus? Not only is the bathroom a disgusting cesspool with no urinal dividers for the pee shy, but the water fountain doesn’t work, nor the clock, the soda machine dispenses cans, and the building is the absolute antithesis of Howard Rourke.

Additionally, the photos of Pope John Paul Roman Numerals, and four other cardinals, always stare at me like they know what I’ve done. No matter where I am in the room, their creepy, holier-than-thou eyes seem to follow. I saw The Godfather III – I know the cardinals smoke and embezzle and stuff, but when they’re wearing those beanies, they look so majestic.

Round 1: Matt Potvin — Ideal

Telling the boys in the car that I really don’t want to play Matt and then having to play him in round 1 is called “tee hee.” At least I didn’t have to play Adam, right?

Matt Top 8ed a couple weeks back with the same deck, so I knew I was in for a tough- ass ride. I hyphenated “tough-ass” so you wouldn’t imply that I was in for a tough “ass- ride.” That would have been awkward.

I thought I had game against Ideal, mostly due to Kokusho, and some love from Deed. And really, does anyone need anything other than Kok and Deed? Those brothers can get you out of a jam with the Crips, Bloods, David Koresh, or even the IRS.

Some of you may remember my match against Matt from last Extended season (read all about in The Worst Metagame Choice Ever), in which the match was given an additional two extra turns after the customary five additional turns. obv he won on the last turn.

At least he doesn’t wear his earbuds during matches anymore.

In game 1, I have a tough call: I played turn one Therapy for Ideal and saw: Dovescape, Burning Wish, Orim’s Chant, Fire/Ice, Lotus and land. With Wall and Deed in my hand, I want to make sure I get the Deed down, but I’d much prefer that the Lotus comes off suspend and I can sweep it away during his uppitykeep.

The choice was: a) sac the Wall to get rid of Chant so I could play Deed and have plenty of time to Kok him out, or b) play Korlash and grandeur him, and then drop Deed and end his day with my oddles of mana.

I chose the latter because “latter” sounds more hopeful and futuristic than “former.”

But I didn’t count on Pentad Prism showing up, which accelerated his game by one turn, allowing him to Chant me during my upkeep, one full turn before I expected it, cast Ideal and grab Dovescape.

Somewhat taken aback by my thinking ahead that wasn’t really thinking ahead, I later Commanded for twenty six, flooding the board with Bird tokens that weren’t doing anything against Confinement. Showed him!

Dovescape/Confinement/Form/Form ftw.

Game 2 was an epic nail biter, in which my turn 3 Deed gave me a ton of breathing room and allowed me to accelerate the piss out of my mana and drop Lily. Deed forced Matt to find his own Deed and blow it for five, nuking my rather unimportant board, but leaving the key component, Lily Vess, unscathed.

He went all epic on my ass with Dovescape. I searched up Kokusho, kept it in hand, then Miren. I was simply biding my time, and making him discard to pretend that I was concerned about his Confinement. Eventually, he dropped Form. I dropped Kok and took his remaining five life.

I mulled in game 3, and drew this six:

Kokusho, Miren, Forest, Urborg, Elder, Wish

I think I had one right then and there.

Aaron Lewis, formerly of Staind, who watched as I drew my hand, had one as well, even though I think he wanted Matt to beat me to watch me suffer. What, like I don’t suffer enough? Look at me, fer chrissakes!

Anyway, Matt went epic in a hurry, since we were almost out of time – Dovescape/Form for the quick beats. I dropped unprotected Kokusho with Miren in hand, and prayed that he didn’t play Confiscate. He didn’t, and I untapped and dropped Miren ftw.

Not the luckiest opening hand ever or anything, but as Chris Romeo might say “It was an accident that Kok and Miren were even in my deck!” Whatever, I beat the guy I didn’t want to play. And now I pwn4L!

This would keep me comfortable the rest of the day, as did pimping my mad mull skills to the rest of the Mainers, especially Brett Coggan, who also had a recent top 8, and used to be like, really good until he lost to me at some random tourney. He knows that Matt’s now got an uphill battle to regain his credibility.

First, you become a very good player.
Then you lose to Rizzo.
Then you lose a whole bunch more.

Finally, you recover and fight your way back to the upper echelon when the curse eventually wears off in six months. I ruin good Magicians like KFed ruins dirty chyx.

Mulligan running total: 1

Round 2: Eric Cote — Black Gruul

I made the biggest mistake of my entire life, Magic-related or not, and, days weeks a month later, it still hurts.

We split the first two games, and in game 3, Eric played turn 3 Blood Moon. I had Tomb and Urborg in play, and Coffers and Miren in hand. He didn’t put much pressure on me after Moon, other than Pillage and Molten Rain like every freakin’ turn for a month solid.

Finally, I plopped down a Forest, now needing only a Swamp to make sexy love to everyone in the joint. I have only two and he blew one up way long ago, so the odds of him finding a kill condition or Forest to ‘Goyf me to death before I found my case Swamp was in his favor.

I had five doozies, all double Black, in hand, and was desperately searching for the honest Black source so I could drop Deed and get rid of Blood Moon and like, win the hell out this game.

After I would Deed, I would have something like 14 mana, with two Koks, two Commands and Lily in hand. No way I lose this game, especially since I had two Therapy in the ‘yard to feast on Kok. I waited for Deed or Swamp and planned the one big turn victory.

I like how Blood Moon beats Urborg. I never got it, never will; time stamp this, yo; justify it all you want; Wizards cheats and is dumb!

He finds a Forest, drops a large ‘Goyf, then Lavamancer, and starts taking chunks out of my life. When I get to eight, I find the prettiest Alpha Swamp ever, finally play Deed with six or seven mana open, check the board, and then mindlessly say “go.”

He didn’t wait for the molecules of my words to settle before he threw a Grip at it.

Let’s conjugate “bad,” even though it’s not a verb:


I even told people, lots of people, hoping it would make me feel better. It didn’t, and it shouldn’t, ‘cause c’mon, that’s a life-altering mistake.

We’re talking “going rhythm method with that nasty chyk from the bar who sleeps around that you’re not even remotely attracted to but just feel like getting your rocks off” kind of mistake. You mean I get a disease and a kid!? Awesome!

Or an example that even virginal Magic players could understand:

We’re talking “play a second Kataki against locked-up Affinity to really put the pressure on!” kind of mistake.

1. Drop the Deed.
2. Activate that sumb*tch right now.
3. Win and be 2-0 and top 8 like you know you will.


1. Drop the Deed.
2. Say “go.”
3. Lose and be 1-1 and end up badly like you deserve.

Mulligan running total: 1

That mistake haunted me well into the next round, as I imagine it will haunt me well into the next life, and hopefully yours as well.

Round 3: Nicholas Heal — Affinity

In the first game, Nicholas got a crazy draw — turn 4 kill on the play – that I almost weathered anyway. If he hadn’t drawn two Cranial Platings and a Shrapnel Blast that I had to sac Wall of Roots to eliminate, I might have lived long enough to Deed away his entire life savings. As it was, a Frogmite survived.

When I Deeded, Nicholas picked up Frogmite and binned him. I mentioned that while you never pay four for him, his cmc is not two, thus, put him back into play.

If I would have allowed that to happen, I’m convinced I would have won that game. That’s what you get for being honest, even if you are a selfish scumbag at heart.

Nicholas: That’s the best draw I had all day.
Me: I’m glad you had it against me.

In game 2, none of my initial four hands had any land. At least I died before I had to discard. That’s what you get for not cheating.

Mulligan running total: 4

Out again, and doesn’t it seem quite fair. Actually, it does: this is what you get when you wait to Deed. See, I’m still on old-school Magic — wait until the last possible moment to use instant effects.

Dear Rob Hahn,

“Schools of Magic,” my ass!

Split F***in’ Second

Between rounds, I was chatting it up with peeps so random that they don’t know me and I don’t know them, when over came Mike Daly, whom I played (and beat!) at the NAC Championship in September (read about it in OMG The Most Super Duper Strategy And Tech Article Ever!).

Mike told me that after reading my “Tribal is nutz, bad nutz” article, he quit playing Standard. “Finally,” he said, “someone who ain’t no fan of Wu Tang Clan!”

I was actually pretty shocked, and certainly it wasn’t my intention to get anyone to quit playing with their wittle tribes, but then I realized, dayum, girlfriend, I am influential! Perhaps I should take this “writing thing” a little more seriously.

I still find it weird that anyone reads my articles at all. I mean, I would read them, even though I really wouldn’t, but why the hell would you? Are you that addicted to Magic? I hope so, because if you don’t read my articles my children will starve and it’ll be your fault.

Back in the day, obviously I was the sh**, since there were like, nine guys on the entire web, which is akin to being Grandmaster Flash in 1981 — the only reason people think you’re good is because the only points of comparison are The Sugar Hill Gang, Herbie Hancock, and Blondie.

Blondie rapped? Since when!? My amazing literary techniques notwithstanding, “Rapture” mentions Grandmaster Flash, and her opinion that he’s both fast and cool. Actually, he was neither, ever – seriously, he wore a seat belt on his clothing, but she was probably too stoned to notice. Plus, no real points of comparison.

My point exactly.

You may hate tribal as much as I do (though I doubt it), but you don’t have to quit playing anything tribal related. But if you do, please join my cult. And bring your sister. And your mom. And your ‘Goyfs, which will be our form of currency.

Round 4: Brian Peters — Domain Zoo

I double mulled game 1. Ape, Bob, Flames for five, more burn heh ftw. ‘Twas a Slaughter Pact that didn’t even cost three.

Game 2 was a little more user-friendly. I was able to Deed away Ape, Bob, Lavamancer, and ‘Goyf, but was already at 10. However, his lands, Kokusho and Therapy cleaned house.

Brian started off with a pair of Kird Apes, then Bob, in game 3, and before I knew it, I was sitting at nine. But so was he — painful manabase plus Bob equals not a combo. I found Korlash and was able to surprise, grandeur! to kill a big ‘Goyf.

Afterwards, Brian could have killed me, but misplayed the stack — I’m at 4 with a 6/6 Korlash and Miren plus mana open. He has Fanatic on the table, and decides to Helix me. I hesitate, waiting to see if he’ll sac the Fanatic without passing priority and try to kill me. He does so, which allows me to sac Korlash and live long enough to cast Kokusho, but not long enough to Miren him. Who should always have a Therapy in the ‘yard? Me!

Brian simply shows me a hand of three or four burn spells, which, as soon as he untaps, will go to my face. I suggested he burn Kokusho, but he decided against that course of action.

Mulligan running total: 6

I mulliganed only twice in this match, but kept a sexy one-lander in game 2.
Sometimes hands that can pan out well, well, do pan out well.

I think Cory, Chet and Jeff were all out by this point, due to them playing net decks, and mono-White. Noobz may ask: why don’t you drop when I’m out of contention? The short answer is “Who am I, Kyle Sanchez!?” peppered with “What the f*** do you care?” For the long answer, read my archived articles. All of them.

Round 5: Kyle Burke — Probe You

At the very end of round 1, I saw Kyle play Maralyn against Goblins. I don’t know what the score was, but the Goblin player slumped. He had Fanatic and I think four mana, maybe five.

When his turn came, he took the three and picked up his deck.
And stared at Maralyn.
Then shuffled his deck.
Then looked through it.
Then looked at Maralyn.
Then shuffled,
and started it all over.

I sh** you not, the kid took about five minutes to find just the right card. I think it was Goblin Pyromancer, which was not only not the right card, but promptly met a Mana Leak. Then Kyle searched up another counter, and back to the Five Minute Kid.

By this time, the judge came along, since one turn had elapsed in the last seven minutes. The kid picked up his deck, searched, sighed, and extended the hand.

Still, I had no idea what Kyle was playing, only that I desperately wanted him to play Maralyn against me. Little did I know, but I knew anyway.

In the first game, I figured it out: Kyle dropped Psychogenic Probe. Seems okay against me, since I like to search my library and shuffle it afterwards, all of my own accord. It turns out that Kyle plays cards that also contribute to shuffling: Extirpate (Coffers), Eradicate (Wall), Cranial Extraction (Kokusho), and oh, more Probes.

I took twelve before I was able to Korlash and Consume him to death.

The second game wasn’t really close. Kyle got stalled on three lands for three turns, plenty of time for me to search myself down to 10 and Spirit the piss out of him.

After the match, I asked Kyle why he used the Enduring Ideal sac lands. Then he showed me Bitter Ordeal. “Ah!,” said I, not fully appreciating the brokenness until Chet laid it out:

Sac a boatload of lands, play Ordeal with a bunch of storm copies. Probe triggers for each: search for a card, shuffle, take 2, search, shuffle, take 2, get it yet, you freakin’ moron!?

That’s like, pretty effing sick. Add Maralyn, and you take five every turn, d*ckhead!

I like that deck, and wish I had thought it up, though am not quite ready to invest in a set of Probes. I do have one, though, so maybe I could tutor it up with Lily?

Mulligan running total: 7

While tooling around watching matches, some witty banter was had in which I figured Earwig Squad would be tight in my deck. Someone had to burst my bubble and mention that his Cap ability only triggers from prowl. Dumbest card ever!

Round 6: Reid DukeAstral Slide

In game 1, Reid got all Life from the Loam with cycling lands and super acceleration. I, funny at Magic, kept a Tranquil Thicket, Overgrown Tomb, Coffers hand that had tremendous promise. Kyle Plowed the Coffers and Thicket. Wow, I’m such an orange with seeds any way you slice it.

Me: At least that won’t slow me down or anything.
Kyle: Eternal Witness targeting Plow Under.

After witnessing that travesty of tempo and graveyard abuse, I brought in Leylines. I had two in my opener, four Green spells, and one Forest. I figured the Leylines would give me two turns to draw another land and accelerate my life like I was in the Navy. Judgment call, sure, but one I felt had a large upside.

Kyle, being tremendous at not caring about Leyline, played stuff from his hand and beat the hell out of me with a turn 4 Eternal Dragon. Know what that does to a guy who’s struggling to find land? Yes, twenty damage.

Two stupid, land-based losses, and I’ll take full responsibility for at least one. I like losing to my manabase, and the iffy decision on its behalf, especially in a match in which it seems nearly impossible to lose. It only triggers from prowl…

Mulligan running total: 7

Round 7: Chris Carty — Dredge

At this point, I pretty much wanted to get it over with, and I knew that Chris was playing Dredge, which can be a very quick way to get it over with indeed. I kept an Urborg, double Coffers, Therapy, Wall, Elder, just because I could, or because Bruce told me.

Chris thought for a while and I told him I was keeping a bad hand. He mulled to show me he couldn’t be rattled, damnit, or maybe he thought I was lying, and kept his six, which, after my Therapy for Putrid Imp, was a lot worse that I thought:

City of Brass, Coliseum, 2 Narcomoeba, Dread Return, Therapy.

And I thought my Bruce had skillz. Schooled!

Over the next few turns, Chris drew two more City of Brass, pinged himself a lot, and was quite vocally unpleased as his desperate search for both an outlet and dredger failed miserably.

He stripped my hand, but on about turn 5, I finally drew a Forest, used a second Wish to grab Jailer and he scooped a couple turns later, damning Dredge all the while.

I started game 2 with Leyline, and I could hear what was left of Chris’s will to live shrivel up and die. My Bruce turned to me with an ashen face, scared to death of the Bruce across the table.

Chris scooped on turn 4, hardly caring that I used Lily to tutor up Withered Wretch backup to remove his Bruce from the game.

There are so few people I’ve seen who enjoy Dredge. The amount of hate they must endure, in every match, round after round, would wear on even the most hardened criminals. Not to mention that the deck’s worst enemy is sometimes itself.

Gotta give it up for the Dredge players — hardcore, yo.

Mulligan running total: 7
Mulligans on the season: 19 in 14 rounds

The record sucks, with the worst possible tie breakers among the 9 pointers, but again, I don’t feel as awful as you would. The round 2 mistake still causes me physical pain, knowing that everything would have ended up differently.

So, that’s 7-7 in two PTQs, which is very much not LaPille-like. If it’s any consolation, I did mulligan a lot (but less), still pronounce it “La-Pill,” and only got to Command once in seven rounds, and that was countered by Dovescape.

Adding a fourth that was previously a three-of is a guaranteed way to see less of the card that now has more chances to be drawn. Go figure it out, math whizzes.

I tried to find Primal Command, but the dealer had a grand total of zero. I figured gaining seven life and searching up Kokusho would be, like, good. Now I’ll never know! At least I was able to placate myself with a few Sundering Titans and Cranial Extractions, neither of which will likely make the deck. But you’ll never know!

Aaron Lewis made Top 8 with Goblins, Nick Colby with U/G Tron, and even Andy Stok stopped cornering the secondary market long enough to smash face with something, mostly likely involving Top and Blue cards. Someone won, but it wasn’t me, and all because I didn’t Deed immediately in round 2.

If I would have Deeded, everything would be different.

I wrote a hundred-plus page screenplay based on the “everything would be different” theory, which is something like the butterfly effect, but it boils down to this, which I may have mentioned before:

Say you’re driving behind a guy doing 25 in a 35 and you can’t get around him. Frustrating, sure, but imagine this was your day to die at the upcoming intersection: a tractor trailer was going to blaze through a red light and eat your life for lunch. But.

You weren’t where you were supposed to be, and even though the tractor trailer was, you get to live another day, probably still pissed about that idiot who slowed you down for one entire minute.

This is what it is like in my world. If I stop here for a coffee, how will this affect the rest of my life? If I take one extra step on the way to work, what will be the result?

Even though I’ll never know, I know there is a result. Perhaps it’s the exact same result, and I didn’t really have a choice — everything is predetermined. Or was it predetermined that I would alter something, which would alter the crash, but knowing I would alter something, the crash was never part of the deal? Now you’re just getting philosophical.

If I would have Deeded, everything afterwards would have been different. My opponents’ decks would be more mainstream…ish, and perhaps less prepared to handle life-total Commands. But that’s only part of it:

I would have taken up the match slip, and the rest of the day, perhaps the rest of my life, would have turned out differently. Maybe I would have chatted with someone or had a bite to eat or any of a billion permutations that would have resulted in this report being written nothing like it is now. Well, pretty much like it is, but, you know, different.

Then again, if I would have won, perhaps I would have slipped on the icy stairs and broken my neck, absolutely and only because I won and took up the match slip, which forever altered the course of the rest of my life.

Seriously, boggles my mind and s**t. Like Blood Moon beating Urborg.

Per usual, Chet and Cory (and Jeff, too), were all about the deck tech. The best that we came up with was turn 1 Zo-Zu. That’s such a gfg against so many decks that it’s not funny. And the rout is on!

Turn 1 Us:
Rite of Flame

Turn 1 Zoo:
Sac land, take 2
Crack it, take 1 for
Untapped Stomping Ground, take 4
Kird Ape
Er, I’m at 13, go.

Turn 2 Us:
Mountain, we’ll take 2 to 18 ow, blister, guy!
Molten Rain Stomping Ground, take 2 down to 11
Don’t even bother to attack, go!

Stomping Ground
When Stomping Ground comes into play, you may pay nine life and put a 1/1 Kird Ape into play. If you do, sacrifice Stomping Ground.

Turn 2 Zoo:
Sac land, take 2, down to 9
Crack it, to 8 for
Untapped Godless Shrine, down to 4,
Isamaru, go.

Us: [email protected]&TURNNIVMIZZETSIDEWAYZ!

Oh how potentially brokinz. Or at least entertaining enough to talk about for an hour on the ride home. Be assured I neither suggest not endorse such a silly idea. Pretty much.

We stopped at McDonald’s, and sat in separate booths because we didn’t want anyone to know we were Magic nerds. Halfway through the meal, Chet says “I can’t wait to get home to dominate the toilet. Wrath of God, yo.”

Without missing a beat, Cory said, “Urza’s Rage with kicker – can’t be countered and the damage can’t be prevented.”

I nearly pissed my cotton panties like a schoolgirl. What kind of mind can even conceptualize something so ridiculous, as if a toilet was an opponent? In the event that it makes sense to anyone, Cory already has the answer: wait for twelve mana. But watch out for Ivory Mask.

I wish Yawgatog was still around. He would put somethin’ fierce right here:

Anyway, we survived yet another journey into the unknown landscape that is Extended, and pretty much unscathed. No chyx were hurt in the writing of this portion of the article. But if I had Deeded, maybe they would have.

Grand Prix Trial

A few days of tinkering led me to understand that I needed more dedicated kill, more creatures, more life gain, a little more disruption, and while I was at it, more of all of the above. I think I managed to fulfill my want list like I was in an aol chat room, circa 2000.

I like this version the best, and you probably do as well, since it almost looks like a net deck. Basically, it loses Wall of Roots and Korlash and gains nine cards that provide a bunch of things in return:

More removal is good.
More life gain is good.
More lands is good.
Green is good.
Black is better.
By adding more Green.

Make the world a better place
Punch a burn player in the face.
(and recur Baloth for spite)

Grand Prix — Philadelphia Trial
Crossroad Games, Standish ME
26 peeps/ 5 rounds

Since the trial was going to be a little more low-key, I figured that instead of using “serious,” i.e. “new” sleeves, I’d just wrap my rascal in some old-school, beat to hell sleeves that are older than your mom, and look and smell almost as bad.

If anyone b*tched, and I didn’t think they would, I’d go commando and show them who’s the boss, Danza-style.

I felt really good about my Welfare Sleeve deck, even though I knew that serious aggro decks were going to cause problems. I just won’t play against them, then. Best strategy ever: Head In Sand ftw.

As I got out of my car, Chet and Cory pulled in behind me, which is better than pulling out behind me. We walked into Crossroads together, and man, it sure felt weird, entering a tournament venue with those crazy bastards in tow.

As soon as the door was open, I smelled what was obviously 4x Skunk. Apparently, over the last two weeks, Crossroads had a skunk infestation, which is slightly better than Zombie Infestation, but no, really, nothing’s better than the best madness enabler ever.

They’ve taken out at least four of the nasty little stinkers (4x Skunk!), and may have finally licked the problem. Sorry I missed all that, especially the part where they licked the skunks.

I made my peace with Colton, who it turns out was sitting in a car, on the other side of the road, and something like a quarter mile from where he was supposed to be. I no longer feel guilty. In fact, I think I made him feel guilty.

The turnout was much more than expected, and since GP-Philly comes during a “no PTQ” weekend, scads of Magic nerds figured they’d ease on up to the ‘Roads and beat up on the weaklings.

The problem was there weren’t many weaklings in the field. Of the 26 players in attendance, probably half have multiple PTQ Top 8s (including me omg!), with plenty of Regionals and States Top 8s thrown in for good measure.

If you wanted an easy three byes, this wasn’t the place to get them. Unless you’re like, good at Magic, then sure, pound the low man.

For reference, Cory was playing Affinity, and Chet brought Goblins to the table. Three events: three different decks. I felt bad, mostly because I’m married to my deck that I spent like $200 bucks on (not counting the nearly $200 for ‘Goyfs that I don’t even use), and must play it until either a) someone net decks it and wins, or b) the season ends.

Round 1: Bryan Hart — Death Cloud

Bryan paid five life for the “privilege” of a turn 1 Thoughtseize, and anticipated a mirror match due to my Tomb, but saw Wish, Kokusho, Deed, Elder and land. Nope, not a mirror match. He took Kok, and on turn 3 we both had Deeds in play, which obviously slowed him down — Mr. Permanents – more than it did me.

He’s at 19 (Baloth) when I drop a top-decked Kokusho and pass the turn. His Garruk and Deed aren’t much of a match for the best 5/5 ever printed, and after I serve to 14, I tap a bunch of mana and Command the life out of him. I guess that was “out of nowhere,” but it didn’t really feel very stunning.

In game 2, I Therapy turn 1 for Garruk and see: Putrefy, Deed, Damnation, Top, and unfortunately for Bryan, he kept a Tomb, Rot Farm hand, which left him at least one turn behind for the rest of the game. He Thoughtseized twice, and hit Damnation and Putrefy, but couldn’t stop Kokusho and Deed from hitting the board.

Combined with his “ow, my lands!” and weird anti-tempo (Rot Farm, Top), Bryan made it much easier than it should have been: I only had to hit him for 7 with Command (returning Baloth), then drop Kok, make it glare at Tombstalker the Perpetual Blocker for a moment, and then Deed the world away.

Just one of the many reasons I don’t play Top or Rot Farm. Or Tombstalker, Kokusho’s Bridesmaid.

Mulligan running total: 0

Round 2: Colton Abrams — Affinity

Colton cast three Thoughtcasts by turn 3, and his crazy cluttered board met my turn 3 Damnation to kill his creatures, then a turn 4 Deed to kill everything else.

Double Baloth plus Maga for 7 made quick work of a guy with no permanents, as I suppose they should.

In game 2, Colton dumped his hand by turn 3, went all in, and I mean all in, next turn on a 17-power Atog plus Fatal Frenzy. gg.

I remark that he should do that again next game, but this time gimme the Putrefy.

Sure enough, JFR called it: Colton just attacked, and he’s about to go all in with Atog

Flashback: one turn earlier.

I have Forest, Urborg, and drop Overgrown Tomb into play untapped and take two. I look at my hand, murmur “that was smart,” and pass the turn.

(No way he can fall for that, can he?)

…as he sacs his artifacts to a hungry Atog, I remain as still as possible, trying to give him plenty of time to realize that he should also sac his 4/4 Frogmite. However, Atog eats everything except Frogmite, and my Putrefy will have to be satisfied to kill a 15/15 Atog.

It is satisfied. Highly satisfied.

From there, Baloths and Kokusho made quick work of a guy with only one permanent, as I suppose they should in consecutive games.

Mulligan running total: 2

In between rounds, while convincing myself that I am unbeatable, I said a tiny prayer for my next opponent, hoping that he wouldn’t be too emotionally scarred after the severe trouncing I was about to unleash upon his unsuspecting ass. Didn’t matter who, guy had no chance.

Round 3: Adam Schaff — Death Cloud

Last week it was Potvin, this time it’s Schaff. All my demons are belong to me. I informed Adam that I was a) due to demolish him, and b) ready to accept his mulligan to five in furtherance of said demolition.

In game 1, despite a turn 1 Thoughtseize that took my Wish (opening hand: five lands, Wish, Elder), I dropped turn 4 Lily, and tutored up Titan. I cast it turn 5 and killed Adam’s Forest and Rot Farm, which was noted as certainly not a Swamp. I said the sexiest word in the English language, okay, the second sexiest: Urborg.

Jacob Bruce, playing beside me, took one look at the board and asked: “Will you sign my Urborgs?”

Adam was left with a mere Forest (and me with a 7/10 and Profane Command on top of my library), and it didn’t take long to elicit the scoop.

I love five land, or even six land opening hands (especially against decks with any kind of land destruction), because, well, I ain’t tryin’ to hear ‘bout missing no land drops, and most of my spells cost more than a couple mana, so what the hell’s the use of having them in my hand, where they sit idly by and wait to be taken away? I’d rather draw my gas, yo, as I know I must; just drop me in lands on schedule, and my deck’ll do the rest.

Or maybe it’s all those games above where I mulliganed into oblivion.

The next game started with Adam’s double mulligan, and I got medieval on his ass with Kokusho. He was behind enough that he Clouded for one to kill Kok, who was Commanded into play the next turn, and crashed head first into a life total, with Baloth and a Deed making mostly token appearances in there somewhere.

Mulligan running total: 2

Brett Coggan has just won at the table beside me, going to 3-0, and I informed him that he was next. Sean Morgen, Paul Mathews and Matt Potvin again; in fact, I challenged his entire team — in the parking lot, bring your whole weak-ass crew right now! But when they flexed, I said tee hee, just playin’.

How to condense two-plus hours of life into a two second read:

Round 4: Jacob Bruce — Flow


Round 5: Nick Colby — U/G Tron



I’m an adult now, and realize I handicap myself quite enough by building my own decks; why add possible insult to potential injury by mana-screwing myself out of Top 8 contention, which cannot happen if the games are not played.

The idea of IDs still sickens me, but sometimes you have to pick your fights. I’d rather pick my fights in the Top 8, with none of them knowing much about my deck, other than it was built by me and most likely featured Black.

The Top 8:

1. Brett Coggan — TEPS
2. Matt Potvin — Dredge
3. Jacob Bruce — Flow
4. JFR — Sex
5. Josh McBride — Death Cloud
6. Steven Achorn — Aggro Loam
7. Nick Colby — U/G Tron
8. Patrick Brown — Domain Zoo

I’d call that a diverse Top 8, if “diverse” still meant “differing one from another,” instead of “we hate the white heterosexual male.” I know, again with teasing the libs. They still deserve it.

Cory finished 10th, and Chet 18th, because they used net decks which were different from the net decks they used previously. I guess you could say they’re diverse, especially Chet, who is a social worker. Proletariats of the world unite to crush the capitalist pigs!

I’ve lost one game in five (okay, three) entire rounds, and rather than fear them, they should fear me! Or at least be aware that, no matter how awesome the board may look, I can still run out from anywhere. Kinda.

While waiting for the Top 8 to begin, Brian Birkinbine, rogue his own damned self, and I played a few games. His deck also featured Urborg and Profane Command, though he had no Coffers, and added White for the usual suspects and three Ivory Mask maindeck, which caused Sean Morgen, burn spell player, a “slight” headache.

Anyway, we’re playing and whatnot, and this guy from the tourney just happens to be watching. He sees just about all my techy stuff: Command for ten and here comes Kok again, Titan your lands and Therapy him/Titan your pitiful lands again and Command him back omg sickness!, and even Wish for Maga ftw.

Brenden announced the pairings were up, and I was playing… oh, that guy standing there watching you play for the last twenty minutes. His name is Robert Paulsen, but we call him “Scout” McBride.

Quarterfinals: Josh McBride — Death Cloud

I mulled, and kept a Kok, Wish, four lander. Josh led with turn 1 Thoughtseize, turn 2 Top. He did everything he wanted to do with very little resistance, save a lonely Deed that got a weenie ‘Goyf and Elder.

A few turns and a Thoughtseize later, the board was Josh with ‘Goyf and Garruk and me with nothing but land and no cards in hand. I was at a measly 5 life, with Josh at a comfy 18.

Naturally, I peeled Consume Spirit, tapped out and hit him for 16, taking him to 2, and buying me a number of turns (Who plays the miser’s Spirit? Not Adrian Sullivan!) to draw another Kok or Profane Command. Obviously, after a top deck like that, Kok ftw.

I know I’ve gone on and on about how insane Kokusho is, and you’re probably sick of it by now. Get sicker, ‘cause he’s even insaner. No one can deal with him, and if they somehow think they can, they can’t.

He hits, they look at him, then at their hand. Then they try to think if they have Condemn in the side. Seriously, he’s like dropping Battle of Wits. They just stare.

I mulled again to start game 2, and Josh led off with Top, then Thoughtseized Kok. Here’s me with Scrying and four lands, and Josh with Top. Seems like I gave him enough of a head start…

On about turn 5, Josh Clouds for one with Garruk in play. I have Coffers, two Overgrown Tombs and two Swamps in play, and Baloth and something discardable in hand.

Thanks to an earlier Therapy, I knew he had Extirpate in hand. He pitched it to Cloud, so I sacced Coffers, wanting to play Baloth next turn, and in the current mana configuration, Coffers was the odd man out. He cast another Extirpate and nailed Coffers. Oh boy, that was teh tricksy!

Soon after, he dropped ‘Goyf and Baloth, with Garruk and his plenty of counters just chillin’ on the ave. Our Baloths traded, but he made another, with a Beast token hanging out for fun.

I Wished for Coffers (Extirpate is too limited!), got Tron online and got big with Kokusho. Josh drew and passed it over, at 12 life, which was ostensibly 20.

I untapped and smashed him to 7, then Commanded for 12, putting him at -5 and bringing back the Kokusho he ‘Seized on turn 2 to join his legendary buddy on the board. A paltry 8 additional life wasn’t getting it done.

Josh shook his head, let out a little gasp, and may have even uttered “wow.” I kinda did, too, but mine wasn’t surprise as much as relief that I didn’t screw it up. Go me for understanding the legend rule!

Still, there’s nothing like 27 damage from a void, and when you’re at 12 with Baloth and a Beast token to Kokusho and seven lands, you’re apt to feel ready to eat lightning and crap thunder, as Mickey Goldmill was fond of saying.

Cool note on Josh’s deck: Darkheart Sliver. It beats, sucks up damage, and makes Thoughtseize feel all alternate casting-costy. Combine this with Baloth and Garruk, and you have a recipe to eat RDW for a midnight snack and crap Mountains in the morning.

My (Male) Boss: You need to start on the 7130.
Me: I know you think about me when you’re in the shower.
My (Male) Boss: Oh, bullcrap!

Who says “bullcrap?” Did we flashback to1975 when I wasn’t looking?

While the bunch of life Josh gained wasn’t enough to secure victory, he did mention that the three “measly” life was a difference maker in enough previous matches to more than warrant a few slots. See, life gain that does more than simply gain life. The concept is so anti-white you’d think Farrakhan was runnin’ the show.

Mulligan running total: 4

A few have questioned my one-ofs, Consume Spirit and Sundering Titan, perhaps thinking they should be something a little more “accepted,” or “proven,” or “not so janky.”

As you saw above, each of those cards was almost single-handedly responsible for a game win. Spirit for 16 goes a long way to giving a brother extra draw steps, and nabbing what are ostensibly three lands with Titan pretty much abandoned hope, all ye who enter.

I’m not sure why anyone would have a problem with Consume Spirit — its flexibility was and has been proven over and over since Black Summer, and with the much inferior Drain Life. It can nail a turn 2 Bob, or knock a life total to zero. Where is the downside in a paltry singleton? (Yeah, yeah, Gaddock Teeg.)

One could make a case for Titan, especially with all the Tron running around, but he’s a 7-freakin’-10 that can come down on turn five. Show me the downside of one more singleton that can turn the tide in a hurry. (Ancient Grudge him, I dare you.)

Okay, I’m done yelling at you. I’m sure you wholeheartedly agree now.

Semifinals: Patrick Brown — Control-ishy Domain

Patrick was surprised that I was the actual JFR in real life, and mentioned that if he were to beat the piss out me and win the tourney, it would be a good day.

His boy was beside him, urging him to at least make it close so I would be nice in the report. I replied that I would be happy to be part of the pat brOWN dream, and I’ll make you so wonderful in the report anyway, so why don’t you kill me on turn 5 while you’re at it, star struck or not.

I opened Damnation, Scrying, Putrefy and a nice array of land, including one half of Tron, but Teeg took care of Big Mana, and Cabal Therapy (!), took care of the thing that could have taken care of Teeg.

Kird Ape, Bob, Teeg is not an easy series of cards to deal with, at least without turn 4 kill your board. And to think I was fairy pleased with that hand. Because that’s what Domain needs: discard.

I double mulled in game 2, kept Swamp, Wish, Therapy, Therapy, something else, cast Therapy for Kird Ape, said “I’m going to Therapy you again next turn,” and saw: Duress, Therapy, Bob, Armadillo Cloak, and land.

Uh, yeah, there goes my “definitely get something with the second Therapy and hopefully draw a land in there somewhere plan.” This was one of those “potential” hands that have occasionally produced sexy results, even if I did mull to five. At least I died like a man — no blindfold for me, which would have clashed with my one dumb Swamp.

Do you go to four in that situation? That five may look bad, but it does have two interactive plays that may help to buy time to nab that second land that may or may not be a Coffers. Going to four against Zoo pretty much seems like a concession.

Sure, I could open Forest, Urborg, Elder, Baloth and peel another land, but that’s gotta be, like, 2-1 against!

Pat and his boy started getting all mushy on me: Friggorid4L!, you know, trying to soothe my wounded ego, and secure their places in the Good Opponent Hall of Fame. Then, I chimed in, “haven’t you people ever heard of, letting the good guy win?”

They didn’t understand that, in this particular instance, the role of “the good guy” was being played by me. If you loved me you would!

I miss hearing things like that: if you loved me, you would. Do chyx still say that to get you to buy them something stupid? Do guys still say that to get laid? Do guys even have to say anything to get laid anymore? I’m so old. Whatever.

There are two things you can do when you get trounced like a red-headed assistant crack whore intern on work release: say good luck next round, or go into the bathroom and cry like you did when Hall and Oates broke up. I would have done both, but Oates’s moustache is a little too biker-from-The-Village-People for my taste.

Mulligan running total: 6
Mulligans on the season: 24 in 19 actual rounds

Alas, the running total is now 11-8-2, which is much better than 10-8-2, to be sure, and look at that mulligan ratio: does less mulligans equal more victories? You decide!

Glad it only took me one tourney to realize that 21 lands is not nearly enough, one more to figure out 22 is almost enough, and yet another to discover that 23 is almost a perfect c-cup with perky, crisp nips.

There has been too much breast talk lately, and if you feel slighted by the lack of attention paid to other body parts that may or may not undulate, I’ll try to work them in a little later.

Before the tourney, Brenden showed me the preliminary pack support, which looked something like this:

1: 3 byes, 10 packs
2: 36 packs
3-4: 10 packs
5-8: 6 packs

I thought there was quite the disparity between second and third-to-eighth, and asked “what kind of liberal are you, anyway?” He offered almost apologetically, in a moment of soul-searching, “I guess not a very good one.” But he humbly thanked me for my hardcore pack-analysis.

Anyway, for my third place finish, I got me some fourteen packs for my trubs, when it could have been ten! I asked Brenden if the packs had to be from a tribal set, knowing full well he would say “STFU and love tribal!” — because that’s what a good liberal would say. I said I do indeed love tribal, but my fingers were crossed!

Hahahahaahhaahahhaa! Oil-loving, environment-killing, war-mongering, elderly-and-children-starving, racist, sexist, homophobe conservative ftw! We also like to kill and maim and hurt and steal and rape and pillage and want the world to melt by tomorrow morning. Gee, no wonder libs hate us.

Alas, I was lucky enough to nab a Mutavault and Bosk, which are apparently the only good cards in the set, or at least cards I might ever conceivably use.

On the flip side, it’s easy to scan the packs, stop at the Black cards, see a random creature type mentioned in the text, skip it, and search for a Black or maybe Green card that isn’t as inbred as the dawg who macked Ned Beatty.

The Dawg Who Macked Ned Beatty? Best movie title ever?

And yet, plus-four-more packs to the good, I got my fair share of rares: Dumb Spring, Dumbeillark, Boldwyr Dumbyweights, Dumbskipper, Dumbcrafter, Dumb Throng, and some other dumb rare cards. It’s fun to hate. Try it!

Okay, I’ll come clean: some of the cards in Morningtide aren’t bad. There are a number of forever cards, and while I’m still not coming around, and I still hate tribal, I may someday actually purchase some Morningtide. “Purchase?” Er, well, let’s not get too crazy, mkay?

But if you don’t buy cards Wizards will suffer and Magic will die!

I’m not going to spend my discretionary income on a product I don’t wish to endorse. Enough believe that tribal is awesome, certainly enough to make up for my lack of feeding the kitty. Guilt doesn’t work on me, especially when I can justify just about anything, ever, with one sentence: capitalism rules.

Capitalism is about as perfect a system as the world has ever seen. Anyone who says otherwise has evidently spent too much time in lecture halls with uppity, pipe smoking ignoramuses and is wrong as hell, frankly (like Al Franken and Air America, which did good by the way. That means it didn’t.). Feel free to move to your favorite socialist country to prove me wrong.

I wanted to play for the byes, tell my opponent I’m not going to Philly, you can have the win and give me all your packs, er, no, illegal, and since I couldn’t press that ch33ters envelope, I’m taking it out on you!

I’m sorry – I should be taking it out on your hot-ass mom so I could be your hot-ass step dad. Hey, at least I’d have a playtest partner, or else! Screw your homework — high roll to see who goes first!

Losing a scant three games in seven (okay, five) rounds is the type of domination I had envisioned with this deck. Consider that two of those losses were mulls to five, and I think I may have finally found the best possible build thus far.

Then again, three of my wins were against Death Cloud. Talk about the world’s worst Rock deck ever — how does it beat anything?

Perhaps Wall of Roots, Smother, or even Darkheart Sliver has to come in against Zoo-type quickness? Sure, let’s block the problem or gain life instead of actually killing the problem. This is me being smart again.

Big Mana Rock, despite being so far from Rock that Sol Malka offered to send me four Phyrexian Plaguelord without so much as a SASE, plays tight with itself, and that’s what I like my decks to do, for tightness is the s***, and the s*** is the tightness.

Does anyone still use “tight?” I hope not, since I wish to be thought of as irrelevant, dated and hopelessly jaded, not to mention faded, trite and game playa hated. But an excellent rapper.

Anyway, Pat beat Nick’s U/G Tron, which goes to show you: building a deck the day of the tournament is the way the pimps do it, so you should, too.

In game 1, Pat tried a ‘Goyf that met Condescend, and I triggered to Brad Pitt’s stoner in True Romance:

Condescend me, man… I’ll f***in’ kill ya’, man.

Funnily enough, I also discovered that, despite playing in only three out of like, eight? City Champs events, I finished in the Top 8, thus was qualified for the City Champs Store Final Or Something on Easter Sunday, if you can believe it. Can you say five tournaments in March? I feel like the love child of Tom La-Pill and Pat Sha-peen.

The format is Standard, and if you can find anyone with less knowledge of Standard than I, marry that sumb*tch without a prenup, ‘cause he’s easy money, yo. I’m going to play Madness, the only Standard deck I’ve played since States (remember States? fawn…), and I’ll never, ever tire of DarkAxing ‘Goyf and his little friend, too.

I have no idea if it’s even remotely competitive anymore (not that it ever was, yet all it’s ever done is succeed), but who the hell has the time or inclination to find out?

I did check the results from some Grand Prix in some foreign country, and looking at the decklists filled with cards I know not much about, I can only come to one conclusion: Extirpate and Damnation seem good against, like, everything.

Or maybe I’ll play Mono Black Control and own people’s asses.

Next week, there is nothing on the schedule except Legacy. However, the wife and I have been invited to play poker at a friend’s house that evening, so it may be getting my wired aces cracked by 7,2 unsuited instead.

I haven’t played any serious, or even semi-serious, poker since 1998ish, and boy wouldn’t I rather play a deck of 52 than 60. No, actually, I wouldn’t, and one-eyed jacks, the man with the axe, and suicide kings can never step up to the mic.

1. Poker sucks.
2. Poker is not fun.
3. Poker is dumber than tribal.

Okay, this is going to be tough, but there are some Morningtide cards I’m thinking about putting into Madness. And they’re tribal-related. It burns! It freezes!

But then, ah, but then, yes I accidentally noticed that Merfolk Looter is a merfolk rogue. “Holy sheepsh**!” exclaimed John, “OONA! and Looter il-Kor are rogues, too!” Damn you Wizards, damn you all to hell! I was playing tribal and I didn’t even know it!

The thing is, prowl almost plays like madness, and is quite the complimentary sub-tactic.
The more I dove into prowl, the more I was aroused by Morsel Theft. I have no idea if anyone else uses this card, but in Madness, it’s plain dumb in so many ways.

It doesn’t affect the board, and three life isn’t so amazing, but for two mana, yes, it sure is, and I get to draw a card, too, just for using the Playa Hatin’ Black Helix?

I spent some time with Latchkey Faerie, but Tombstalker wins that battle. While I’m stuck on playing spells on the cheap, Noggin Whack is one hell of a tag team with Psychotic Episode, which is too good to not be played.

Just add Thoughtseize and Extirpate and you’d have a totally different deck.

Then I saw some serious sickness: Cloak and Dagger.


The more Nero fiddled, the more he realized that I was accidentally tribal before Wizards built my deck for me! If I wasn’t so peaked by these new possibilities, I’d be obliged to be piqued. I mean, it’s not like I wrote an entire article devoted to not very much liking tribal one bit.

Yet, like the consummate politician I am: I still don’t like tribal; I may simply choose to make alterations* to my existing deck.

* Alterations from Morningtide, some of which may be tribally-themed, kinda.

But enough of Wizards still being wrong and killing Magic like they always do every few years. I mean, seriously, stop killing Magic for the, er, at least fifteenth time by now.

PTQ Three:

I sent Big Mana Rock to a few peeps because they were morbidly bi-curious, and if one more person suggests adding Garruk I just might break some things tonight and start with Fred Durst, but only to prove to everyone that he (Garruk, not Fred) does not belong in this deck.


No, and for the same reason my million-dollar ‘Goyfs will not return to the deck. They don’t fit and I dare you to defy me! So, for the two-week delay, this is the starting point:

Big Mana Rock (work in progress – Milford Version)
3 Cabal Therapy
4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
4 Sylvan Scrying
4 Living Wish
4 Pernicious Deed
2 Putrefy
3 Damnation
3 Ravenous Baloth
2 Liliana Vess
3 Kokusho, the Evening Star
3 Profane Command
1 Consume Spirit
1 Sundering Titan
5 Forest
4 Overgrown Tomb
3 Cabal Coffers
3 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
3 Swamp
3 Tranquil Thicket
1 Barren Moor
1 Miren, the Moaning Well

4 Leyline of the Void
1 Withered Wretch
1 Maga, Traitor to Mortals
1 Shriekmaw
1 Boseiju, Who Shelters All
1 Cabal Coffers
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Ravenous Baloth
1 Putrefy
3 Smother

Oblivion Stone and Cranial Extraction were about the most worthless cards I could have possibly put in the board. They would have been better as basic lands or even Stinkweed Imps: at least I could have fetched them with Wish.

While I did Wish for Ghost Quarter twice (but only told you about one!), is it worth an entire slot just to break up ‘Tron they’ll just Life back, or kill Mutavault or Treetop Village? I ended the previous sentence with a question mark even though it was rhetorical just to make for a more interactive article.

Finally, I have what I think are the best cards for those iffy slots that have plagued me since the first PTQ. Against serious aggro (Affinity, Goblins, Zoo, RDW, etc.), which I consider to be my weaker matchups, though combo ain’t so hot, I now have this deck games 2 and 3…

4 Elder
4 Scrying
4 Wish
3 Smother
4 Deed
3 Putrefy
3 Damnation
3 Baloth
2 Lily
3 Kokusho
3 Command
1 Spirit

… which seems saucy and spicy and very curry-like. Smother and Putrefy also don’t seem awful against ‘Tron, NLU/PLU, or anything that isn’t TEPS, Ideal or Dredge, so perhaps I’ve finally started to figure out this sideboarding stuff.

After a few days of testing, I discovered that I actually like the Smother/Putrefy plan better than Therapy/Titan. The question becomes: which do I except will be more useful against the majority of the field: tons of kill, or a fair amount of kill plus three Therapy and a Titan?

That’s almost not a question.

The former gets on bended knee, looks softly into my eyes, and begs to be implemented: “While I may be cold to combo, I shine against everything else, whimper, salty tear slides down soft, pale skin.” Since I’m so mushy, I must acquiesce. Who can refuse puppy-dog eyes?

That’s almost not a question either.

If this is the case, does Therapy belong in the board at all? It’s backside is fine against Dredge, eh kinda?, and is a Dovescape-proof way to wax Kokusho and just win, but against what deck would I hungrily reach for my sideboard to grab three Therapy? If there is complete fear of a card or cards, wouldn’t Thoughtseize or Duress be better?

I’d really like to get super cheesy with Thrull Surgeon, which was Nightmare Void before dredge, but only once, and on legs to boot. Well, why not Nightmare Void, then? Because no one else plays it! I tried it for a few days, and there is a reason no one plays it: Sensei’s Divining Top.

Perhaps I can take those three ‘board slots and make me a little less absolutely dead to TEPS? Ghost Quarter seems juicy, no, not really, but Braids, Cabal Minion can’t be the card they most want to see on turn 3.

Other than attacking their mana, where are they most vulnerable (in non-Gaddock colors)? Who cares, it’s only one deck that no one plays except in Grand Prix Top 8.

I’m leaning toward some combination of Darkheart Sliver, which is damned skippy alongside, and a great companion to Elder, Deed, Leyline and Wretch vs. Dredge, and not terrible against anything else, and discard, be it Ghost-Lit Stalker, Nightmare Void, Persecute (just seeing if you were paying attention!), or default value Cabal Therapy.

17,000-plus words. That’s 35% of a novel. And only two more events to cover. And another freakin’ week before the next one. Hopefully, I’ve provided some entertaining or amusing anecdotes, and perhaps a chuckle or two. If not, then man, the next 40 pages are really gonna suck for you.

[Editor’s Note – You’re halfway there… well done! Come join JFR in part 2, available just below this article! – Craig, Frazzled Editor.]