Feature Article – Twice Told Tales

Read Feature Articles every Monday and Thursday... at StarCityGames.com!
John Friggin’ Rizzo is up for the Invitational, alongside a bevy of fine writers and storytellers. Of course, we all know there’s only one JFR… and today’s article is good for what ails ya. Expert tales of Magic and mayhem, some Standard and Extended offerings, and a genuine attempt to crack Vintage wide open! Is there nothing that this man cannot do?

Ever since StarCityGames.com “reestablished” the Featured Writer hierarchy, I’ve written when Craig dropped me an email and said “write something.” I’m not a big fan of upsetting the applecart that is business as usual at ‘da games, and I usually have a huge lack of balls when it comes to asking for anything from anyone.

Sometimes his British deadlines forced me to travel back in time to meet his requirements, but this time, however, was a deadline I could nail. I got an email at about 7pm Saturday night that requested an article by 6pm Sunday. If you ever wondered how much unbearable pressure us writer-types are under, there you go. Pressure? Yeah, that’s exactly what it is.

Me and Barry Bonds: peas in a pod.

Anyway, I feel quite uncomfortable pimping myself for the Invitational, so I won’t. You’ll vote for whomever you want (and probably already did, at least with one of your many screen names), and any amount of pandering on my part isn’t going to influence those of you who haven’t (or those with only a singleton account).

I will say that it was extreme fun making my video, though I admit I was on pins and needles waiting to see what the competitors would throw down. After seeing the other submissions, I feel comfortable with the result. Actually, I thought mine was the best because my wife convinced me it was so. And you know, she was completely objective on the matter. Or maybe I told her I’d withhold sex unless she said I r00led. Heh, she’s such a sucker — I already withhold sex from her!

The video has its share of li’l Easter Eggs and somewhat obscure references, and I hope you got most of them, but I’m pissed right the hell off that I completely missed “Pee Wee Hermany.” Man, what I coulda done with that one!

By the way, I know Harry Potter doesn’t live in Germany. Stop emailing me about now, pls/k/thx.

As I write this, it appears to me (at least from the forums) that Evan is in the driver’s seat. Like I told him before this shindig got started: if it can’t be me, I want it to be him. Nothing against the other guys, considering that I want to have sex with Menendian’s articles on a regular basis, very much enjoy Flores’s and Cunningham’s work, cheer for Prof to burn people into oblivion, and was becoming fond of Jeroen’s weekly diet of sardonic wit.

I can’t really comment on Cedric, Ghetto Fabulous, and Sanchez, what with not being as familiar with them as the others. But I’m pretty sure I’m a better rapper than Cedric, more likely to be a mafia crony than Gerard, but nowhere near as nimble with the fingers as Kyle.

However, I do have a Hunted Wumpus story, and it might be one of my favorite Forsythe stories of all time. The thing is: most of you won’t think it’s even mildly amusing. Because your sense of humor is relegated to car wrecks and Lindsay Lohan arrests. Sick ones, you guys. BTW Lindsay Lohan is likely one of the most unhot chyx I have ever seen. WTF is wrong with all of you?! BTW WTF BT4B FTW!

Dateline, Pittsburgh, July, 2001.

Aaron Forsythe and I are testing Extended. He was with a Junk/Three Deuce kinda thang, and I was saddled with The New CMU Blue Revue. The game teetered back and forth for a while, when he finally got out a Scroll and was ready to use it. With two cards in hand, he taps his three mana at the end of my turn.

He flittered the cards about, to and fro, back and forth, when he finally called out “Hunted Wumpus.” I chose one card at random, which was only me fulfilling my part of the activated ability of Cursed Scroll, and revealed, yep, you guessed it: Hunted Wumpus. I was successfully dealt two damage to my dome.

The next turn, Aaron dropped a land, and shuffled up his hand, tapped Scroll and main phase called out “Hunted Wumpus.” While I stared at my hand in wholesome agony, I realized I was going to eventually die to Scroll, Aaron started to bring the noise:

“Wumpus, Wumpuses, Wumps, Wumpi, Wumpuses…” He revealed the two cards in his hand: two Hunted Wumpus

“The Bumpus Hounds!”

After a few seconds, I broke out in little bitch-like laughter. He followed suit, and we giggled like teenage girls. If you’ve ever seen A Christmas Story, then you know why this “come from nowhere” moment is chuckle-worthy. If you haven’t, well, I have another li’l Wumpus story:

It’s the Tenth Edition release event, and I end up taking a mulligan to three. On the play.

I imagined this game was not going to end well for me, but I did keep two lands and a two-drop. Over the next three turns I proceeded to draw perfect mana, a three-drop, and then Hunted Wumpus.

My opponent was having his own problems, and while he had three lands, he had yet to play a spell. He read Wumpus to make sure it did what he thought it did, then dropped, for free mind you, Shivan Hellkite. Yes, I lost that game.

For game 2, I considered pulling out Wumpus, but reasoned that the odds of me dropped Wump when he has Hellkite in hand must be rather silly. I kept it in.

I curved like a freakin’ champ, with drops on the first three turns. The opponent didn’t curve at all, and sort of sat there all doomed-like wit his three paltry lands. I decided to go for the kill and drop Wumpus.

Me: Hellkite much?
Opponent: Unfortunately, no.

However, he did drop Elvish Piper. On his turn, he dropped land and shipped it back.

The next turn, I swung with my guys and thought “who’s teh beatdown now, beeyotch!” That was answered when the bad guy tapped one green mana and Piper, and brought in Hellkite. Wump met an untimely Terror, Hellkite ruled the day, and I sat there feeling awfully foolish, when all I could do was watch Hellkite eat my face and guys, and Incinerate and crew finish the job.

Told you I wasn’t much of a storyteller. But hey, he who dies with the most Hunted Wumpus stories wins.

Anyway, The North American Challenge qualifiers had been dismal for me this season. I made not one single *legitimate* Top 8, and had gone 7-12-1 in the previous five attempts. For try number six, it turns out, that since I was the only one to attend all the events, I was awarded the pity vote. Thus, I was invited even before round 1.

This is what I played:

Idea: put 20 damage up in someone’s face and see how they like it.

In the first round, I played Ethan, he of the “Am I a tremendous Magic player or what?” reply of “Huh!?” in the Invitational video. Since he’s, like twelve or something, and has never come close to beating me in anything ever, I figured I would pwn his ass and send him home to momma, per usual.

He was playing Mono Red against my pretty much mostly Mono Red. In game 3, he dropped turn 2, 3, and 5 Dragon’s Claw.

Laff with me.
Not at me.

Incinerate and Rift Bolt you for zero.
Char you for one and I take two.

Onlookers wondered why I wasn’t upset — obv because I thought the entire scenario was rather funny. And so do you, though I imagine you will offer me sympathy, but don’t.

Regardless, I plowed through the rest of the field like a hot knife through butter— Cliché boy much? I know I can do better than that!

Ten minutes later…

Maybe I can’t do better than that.

Forum Mad Libs:

Rizzo plowed through the field like_________________!

I conceded in the finals to the other guy, since he wasn’t yet invited because he’s awful at showing up every week. It made me feel all warm and fuzzy and liberal, though the conservative in me is already figuring out how I can use this concession to my advantage. Next topic please.

Crossroads is holding their eighth anniversary up-all-night dealio in a couple weeks, and if thirty-two hours of non-stop Magic isn’t enough to whet your whistle, play for an hour before you arrive.

What most interests me about the bevy of events is this: free 10-card proxy Vintage. I’ve always wanted to Mind Twist your entire hand on turn 1. After about ten minutes of thinking about how I would build this deck, this is the deck I built:

Things of note: wow, this deck is awful! Hey, Necro-lock yourself much! Golly, look at all those ways to kill the creatures that might be in Negator’s way! I know. There are a ton of cards I want to put up in, like Chalice, Planar Void, Contagion and the list goes on and on… I suck at Vintage even more than I suck at Standard and Extended, but not as much as teh suck that is Limited. But keepin’ it Mono Black is keepin’ it real.

All right, I may add Windfall, Frantic Search, and Brainstorm. But that’s it! And maybe Force of Will and Daze, but no more Blue after that! Okay, Ancestral Recall and that’s final!

After all, when you can cast Duress, Hymn to Tourach, and Hypnotic Specter on turn 1, life seems most excellent. Obviously, guys like Menendian will [email protected] deck on general principle, but I do remember that after I wrote about the possibility of Ichorid in Vintage, Anusien (I believe he’s big into Vintage), slammed a brother in the forums:

So you think Ichorid is all hot in Legacy and Vintage…
What do you do if Zombie Infestation gets countered?
Or Engineered Plague: Horror?

I, dear Anusien, do nothing. I leave that up to guys like SOOPER Steve and the Meanest Deckers Ever. The basic premise is this: I’m right about some things now and again. Of course, this is to be expected, since I do offer about twenty opinions per article. Sure, some may be way off base, but I won’t be bringing those up again. But when I’m right, even a little right, I will climb the highest mountain (figuratively) and let out an enormous belch that may or may not sound a little bit like…

Bite me.

I mean that in a playful, teasing, respectful and don’t get your panties all in a bunch kinda way. But why does everyone always pick on me! I’m valid! I’m human! I have feelings!

I need a break. This writing stuff is like, hard. I’m going to watch 300.

brb in a couple hours

I just condensed two hours of real life into two little sentence fragments. Suspend that.

It won’t be long now, and Ravnica will be nothing but a Standard memory, but ah, such a sweet one at that. I’ll miss the hell out of it, and I imagine some of you will as well. It was a Standard format where it seemed that anything was not only possible, but likely.

Perhaps I’m getting all misty and sentimental, but if one were inclined to list the Ravnica block cards that may soon be gone from Standard but will live long and prosper in Extended, go right ahead. In fact, I’ll throw you a few bones:

Loxodon Hierarch
Lightning Helix
Life from the Loam
The duals

Side note on today’s mana:

Do you realize that we are right now witnessing the absolute and positive best manabase foundation in the history of Magic? One could, if one were inclined, reliably cast any of the Nephilim on turn 4, and each of its brethren on successive turns. One probably should not want to do that, but if one does, jump in, the water’s fine and make sure you bring that deck to Champs and play me every round.

End note.

Come to think of it, Ravnica block sucked. Man, I’m glad those three awful sets are about to bite the dust; good riddance and don’t let the door hitcha.

Okay, I’ll tell you a few more stories, since that’s what I am not really. I’m more like an aberration, a mosquito bite that you enjoy scratching ‘cause it kinda hurts kinda feels good. Still, here’s a couple from the final Extended PTQ last winter:

At FNM, I finagled a ride to the PTQ from Adam Schaff, with Jackal Pop and Jeff Good At Magic in tow. Easy as pie: meet at Crossroads at 6:30 the next morning and dreams can come true if you’re a real boy. But as I left Crossroads, I forgot to notice that it was snowing. A lot. Sideways, downways, upways, all up over the place, and more was expected. In fact, it was likely to be snowing for, oh, ever.

It only took nearly two hours to get home, which is normally a forty minute deal, so naturally I’m looking forward to getting four hours of sleep, awaking to blizzard-like conditions, digging myself out and traveling on roads so treacherous that Robert Frost never wrote a poem about them, and then playing Magic all day.

Everything went smoothly the next morning.
a) True
b) False

If you answered “b” you are one smart son-of-a-b*tch, and are well-versed at both foreshadowing and blinding flashes of the obvious.

So, I’m sitting in my car, at the end of the driveway, because that’s as far as I could make it before I got stuck like a mutha. The snow is flush with the undercarriage, and I ain’t moving to, nor fro, but feel free to burn your tires into oblivion just to double check. For about five minutes I considered my options:

Abandon hope and go back to bed.
Go get a shovel, and man up like men do in times of strife.
Sit here and wait for someone to miracle me out.

I decided on two, and boy, wasn’t I mack-like with my proactive strategy. Because I am a man’s man in every sense of the word except for that homosexual overtone part (okay, that too), I made it to Crossroads at exactly 6:30am.

I could tell you all about the near zero visibility, or the complete lack of roads being plowed since the first Clinton administration, or even the severe neck pain I encountered because I had to drive like an old lady with my chin on the steering wheel and my eyes all squinty just to see through the icy windshield. You know flashback sequences in movies — where the edges of the screen get all blurry? Imagine the entire screen looked like that, and then imagine driving directly into that screen — to get to a PTQ so you can give someone $25 so they can let you play the following deck:

I have nothing to say. But I bet you do. Anyway…

When I get to Crossroads, Pop to the Jackal to the Jackal to the Pop is sitting in his truck, anxious and raring. Apparently, he came directly from work. Ah, if ever there was a recipe for PTQ success…

So we wait for Schaff, who’s very much a sucker for driving in this ridiculous weather. We wait until 7:00am, and then decide to actually call him (lightbulb!). He’s snowed in. However, Your Move Games apparently subscribes to the weather channel, because they delayed the start of the tourney until 11:30.

Now, all we have to do is wait for the plow guy to get out Adam, oh, and would you guys mind picking up Jeff “I had zero cards in my library for five turns and still beat Rizzo,” who lives only, well, about a half hour sorta the wrong way, and it’s not like these are suboptimal driving conditions or anything.

We make some calls like we’re Jules and Vincent at Jimmy’s, and then get to Jeff’s.

Pop: Why don’t you just go in his house and piss?
Me: That’s just rude! Now get out so I can piss in my coffee cup!

Alas, after the torture that was driving Miss Daisy, we finally meet up with Schaff, a mere thirty-five miles further than where my car should have been left for the day, and off we go.

Adam recommends we write out our decklists, like he and Jeff have, since we’re likely going to make it in the nick of time. Pop and I do just that, and boy isn’t it simple to write the above deck in a moving vehicle on a lil’, tiny scoresheet pad. But whatever, we’re all men.

We get there with a few minutes to spare, and golly gee, let’s play some Magic. There were something like 85 peeps and seven rounds. I’m right about one of those numbers.

For initial player seating, I was seated across from John Rizzo, yes the other one. I’m sure that was complete coincidence, and not merely a plot by Your Move Games in order to further their agenda of installing their Teh Funnay patch into all DCI tournament reporter software.

Two guys with the same name? lolz!, Let’s seat them together!

All day I was inundated with “Rizzo!” and “Riz!” and “Mutha F***in’ Rizatch!”, but apparently, they were all talking to that other Rizzo guy. I wonder if he’s ever heard of The Jerky Boys.

Flash forward to round 2, after losing round 1 to TEPS, in which I got to play a total of six whole turns in two games.

As we shuffle up for game 1, a judge comes over and pulls me aside.

Judge: What’s this sh** you tryin’ to pull?
Me: Dawg, let it be, yo.
Judge: Gimme your freakin’ deck, punk.
Me: Step off, or I’mma ventilate your mom!

Anyway, before there was actual bloodshed (it turns out we were both bluffing!), I was awarded a very unsexy game loss for not registering Godless Shrine. This is what you get when you have about 20 one-ofs in your deck, and you record the contents on a little slip of paper that makes an awful Rosetta stone. I lose game “2” in four minutes.

Later that night, while writing the report that I knew wasn’t going to get posted because Craigers didn’t email me and say “omg I need a report in four minutes!” or I was too afraid to say “Craigers, do you have room for li’l ole’ me?” I saw the following on my scoresheet:


I kinda wondered what the hell that meant. With the help of a United Nations translator (see, the U.N. is indeed very highly completely relevant and not just a mere bunch of complete and utter so much nothingness that Sartre would pop a chub at the prospect of attending one of their tête-à-têtes.), I was able to discern that I played Hierarch, then Grunt and Tribal Flames for the dubya.

Of course, it’s quite possible that it could have been….

Lose Hope
Liege of the Hollows
or Lava Hounds

… followed by a quick Jetting Glasskite, and topped off with a nice big phat ass…

Tectonic Fiend
Temporal Fissure
The Fallen
Thermal Flux
or even Tower of Fortunes.

But maybe not.

While “researching” the above paragraph via Apprentice, I came across a card called “Torsten Von Ursus.” Of the Southampton Von Urses, you know — they summer in the Hamptons. Now I’ve been playing off-and-on since Urza’s Saga, and I never, ever heard of this card. He’s a respectable legendary 5/5 for a mere six mana, thus: Torsten or Exalted Angel? The decision is yours!

Anyway, I double-checked in the OFFICIAL MTG card encyclopedia (a book, yo), and damn, he does actually exist. Side note: why does most of the art from the first three or four years of Magic look like my children drew it when they were trippin’ on Xanax?

It looks like Edith Head puked and that puke designed this.
William H.Macy, State And Main

Now I’m no art aficionado, but so much of the early stuff is nearly Dilbert-meets-The Far Side kid’s stuff. How in the hell could some of those pieces actually make it past x number of people and into our little worlds? Forgive my treatise and take it with a grain of salt all you artists (a.k.a.: chill the eff out, you pompous bastards!), for the only piece of “art” that ever “touched me” or “affected me” or “allowed me into its space” is Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.” I think it’s because of Home Alone and that Culkin kid.

Speaking of Munch (and bite and teh suck and the like) I admit that I enjoy hearing the stories of “how lucky” this guy or that guy or how unlucky the speaker got. An example of such might be how some prepubescent cast three Dragon’s Claw and used the life gain to nullify my burn. Some would consider that child “fortunate,” or bemoan my miserable luck.

When I hear the tales of utter woe is me and only me never happened to anyone else, I used to immediately think “stfu,” but realized that’s not very nice. After all, they’re just trying to express their frustration, their pain, their disbelief that the cosmos conspired to align just right and shone down their fury upon their innocent little melons. As a result, my anger and consternation are gone. Now, when I hear the stories, I simply offer a reassuring smile, an empathetic sigh perhaps, a tender hand on the wounded shoulder, and then think “stfu.”

The following example demonstrates how a little politeness goes a long way:

Me: I drew both Blessings against a mill deck! Understand my pain!

You: STFU, k,thx.
Me: You’re welcome.

Speaking of politeness, here’s an idea for a disclaimer for the next Limited season:

There is no space here to think about how you would build this deck. If you are the type who actually intends to think about how you would build this deck, you’ll do so with text right up in you face. In fact, you probably already thought about how you would build this deck when you were scrolling through the card list. Thus, those d*ckheads who provide white space after the card list, ostensibly to give you “space to think about how you would build this deck,” are, in fact, insulting you by insinuating that those who think about how you would build this deck can’t possibly think about how they would build this deck without a few lines of complete and utter nothingness. With that in mind, here’s the obligatory white space so you can think about how you would build this deck…

Anyway, I ended up going 3-4 with that deck, which leads me to one conclusion:

There are an awful lot of bad Magic players at a PTQ. I mean, really, really bad. Consider that, say 60-75% were playing pretty much tried-and-true net decks, and I was playing, well, that deck up there. I finished in the lower middle of the pack. What about the guys that finished below me, with polished and battle-tested decks?

Dear You Guys,

Wow, you’re bad at Magic.

Hell, I went 3-4 With A Friggin’ Glimpse Deck In Extended

So please, keep in mind, that when times are tough and you’re sad and blue and you can’t get no lovin’, it could always be worse. You and your net deck could have lost to me and my wtf deck. Oh wait, three of you did. OMG lol and rofl and tee hee and put a seductive fingernail in my teeth while wearing pigtails and a cheerleader outfit.

Things you will never hear at a Sealed PTQ:

1. omg I hope I get my deck back!
2. omg I hope I don’t get my deck back!
3. Whoever plays this is making Top 8 blindfolded!
4. omg just omg seriously omg!

I gotta get back to Ravnica, since, in all actuality, we’re all gonna miss a set that made deciding which net deck to copy a potential nightmare.

Who among us didn’t wonder how Wizards would one-up themselves with the next block? Following up such a world-beater can be harder than Chinese ‘rithmetic, which can’t really be that hard. I mean, after all, two billion people can do it. Just sayin’.

I’m not a huge fan of Coldsnap, which is not to say that I don’t like the set, but more so that it feels, compared to the sex of Ravnica block, “normal.” Much like everything that followed Invasion felt “normal.” The cards were fine, the inbred format was fine, but taken in the current context, “fine” was somewhat of a letdown.

But ah, that “nostalgia” was simply a precursor. For those who wondered: “how do they top Ravnica,” would find the answer in Time Spiral.

If you’d like to talk about taking sex to the next level, go to it — Ravnica is some serious sex, no doubt, akin to being 21 and all about the hotties, but Time Spiral is what happens when you’re an actual adult and your partner is an actual adult and both of you know what the hell you’re doing. We’re talking sex, yo. Not mere “I gotta be home by eleven or my dad’ll ground me” child’s play, mind you.

Yeah, but how can they top “sex, yo?” Why Planar Chaos and Future Sight, of course. Rather than continue with the sexual antics and risk turning myself on even more, I’ll cut to the chase…

Ravnica seemed impossible to beat. They did it with Guildpact and Dissension.
Time Spiral seemed impossible to beat. They did it with Planar Chaos and Future Sight.

I’d really, really hate to be Mark Rosewater right now. He’s (as the pretty-much-official “face” of Magic) painted himself into a corner by doing nothing more than his job, and apparently very well at that. True, his job consists of blowing people away on a regular basis, but when you go and succeed at your profession, people are going to expect that kind of behavior all the time. Since no one can keep up such a ridiculous level of achievement, there is bound to be a big let down, or at least Hasbro will unionize to ensure that success is kept to a bare minimum.

How long can Rosewater keep raising the bar, and our expectations? He can’t keep it up forever, and when the broken heart comes, everyone will quit Magic! Like they always do! Oh wait, that’s just me.

Time Spiral
Planar Chaos
Future Sight

Dear Rosewater,

Are you f***in’ kidding me?

Good Luck Topping That

At this point it appears he’s shot his wad — how can the game continue to move forward from the above mentioned quantum leaps — two tremendous blocks in a row? If Ravnica is the Wright Brothers and Future Sight is the space station, will Lorwyn and mini-mega-sandwich block with-the-crusts-cut-off colonize the freakin’ moon and provide hot green chyx like that one Kirk ganked?

There he goes: homeboy f***ed a Martian once.
Jay, Clerks II

The levee must break, and Urza must be responsible. Draw seven cards untap six lands responsible. Bargain, Rector, Replenish, Masticore, Tolarian Freakin’ Academy turn-1-kills-in-Standard responsible!

It’s getting harder and harder to get me to stare at a computer screen with a slacked jaw, and agape as well, but the last year-plus has done exactly that. But I believe Wizards can do it, because they have an ace in the hole. The largest ace that anyone can ever hope to own:

The rules of the game are whatever they tell us they are.

This is the vibrancy factor, if you will. They can keep the game fresh and alive because they can do whatever the hell they want whenever the hell they want and to whomever the hell they want. They don’t have to follow rules (since they can make and change them at will, mostly) — and even if Superman can’t wear Kryptonite undergutchies, Rosewater can. He isn’t a comic book hero, thus is not subject to the guidelines set forth in The Hero Compendium, where there are rules — your hero can’t just do anything he wants!

Um, yeah he can. And he does.

There must be a downturn: a set without gold cards or Timeshifted cards or some other little quirk/niche that forever sets it in stone as a “normal” set. Like Coldsnap. It’s a decent set, and might even get better with age, but it’s still, and will always be, “normal.”

“Normal” ain’t gettin’ it done anymore, and I’m pretty sure Rosewater knows it. Wait a minute: isn’t Forsythe Rosewater’s boss? Okay, Mark still gets to be the “face” of Magic, but in the event of something catastrophic, Forsythe now gets to take all the blame.

How to be a good leader:

When you win, give all of the credit to the team.
When you lose, take all of the blame.

Apparently, a number of NFL quarterbacks missed that lecture, though I bet that Crazy Mofo Name Of Ice Cube got the memo – no more blaming Woody. Oh, and never, ever bring up Urza block again, for Rosewater has since atoned many times over.

1993 was a long time ago. Way back then, I was still wondering what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I was pretty sure writing about Magic — a game I wouldn’t play for another five years, didn’t figure into the equation. I hadn’t even met my wife (likely due to her being in high school), let alone put a couple eggiweggs up in her, and while I was likely a prick, I hadn’t polished and perfected prickdom like I have today.

Now, 2007 minus 1993 years later, it’s all the same, even if the names have changed dramatically. The game is still the game is still the same, but it’s morphed before our very eyes in ways so subtle that, even upon further scrutiny, it’s like reading tree rings or pretending that carbon dating actually works. (Carbon dating probably works, I just felt like stirring up some vitriol for the vitriolics who like to argue, and if not for them, then the ADHDers or global warming alarmists or simple-minded left wingers [as opposed to the complex and intelligent left wingers of which there must be tens — lol!])

The rules of the game are whatever they tell us they are.

Hell, them’s the Magic words. But don’t you have to wonder? A little bit? When comes the hammer – the crushing blow of a set or block or mechanic that completely and utterly f***ing sucks? The pragmatist in most of us should consider the possibility, but the soft and sensitive mouth breather part of us can only conclude that Wizards has done one helluva job for the last couple years, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt.

I think they’ve earned it.

Okay, one last story before I put you to bed:

Time Spiral Release event, round 4 or something, and I’m still in it to win it.

I’m at nineteen, with Former State Champion Rob Foley at twenty-two, and it’s about turn 20. We went through numerous wars of attrition, he with Desolation Giant and me eventually finding Black mana and killing stuff. The board is fairly gummed up, with both myself and Former State Champion Rob Foley each having a dozen guys on the board and my Restore Balance with only one counter remaining, which will, when it goes off, allow me to own him something fierce, due to having Master Breeder in play and a Green fatty and Resurrection in hand.

At the end of my turn, Former State Champion Rob Foley thinks and thinks and thinks and then does something like this:

He casts Momentary Blink on his Ivory Giant, which taps my Breeder Thrulls and Green fatties, morphs Coral Trickster to tap a White flanker, and plays Temporal Isolation on Jedit’s Dragoons wearing Griffin Guide. See, storm decks aren’t the only ones with “one big turn.”

It was like those Rosewater and/or Inquest puzzles where you do a hundred things during your upkeep like this:

During your upkeep, tap seven Plains, four Swamps, two Islands and Library of Alexandria to add WWWWWWWSSSSUU to your mana pool and draw a card.
Pay WWWW to untap Basalt Monolith.
Tap Basalt Monolith to add three colorless mana to your pool.
Use three colorless and W to untap Grim Monolith.
Tap Grim Monolith to add three colorless mana to your pool.
Tap Sengir Autocrat and three Serf tokens to use Glare of Subdual’s ability, targeting your own Basalt Monolith and Grim Monolith.
Respond by using WW to activate both Voltaic Keys, each targeting Grim Monolith in response to each other.
Find a way to play Tinker as an instant and sacrifice Basalt Monolith to search your library for Millikin and put it into play.
Pretend Millikin has haste, tap it for one colorless mana, milling Gaea’s Blessing into your graveyard.
In response to the Blessing’s trigger, hurriedly declare your main phase and burn to death we think.

Back to reality: Okay, I have no blockers left, but fear not, for I have a trick of my own, Mister Former State Champion Rob Foley.

He untaps and sends in the team. We count up the damage (three times), and damn if it don’t come to exactly nineteen. However, he can skip a turn and pump his Chronatog Totem up another three if need be and do twenty-two.

I, StarCityGames.com Featured Writer John Friggin’ Rizzo, being clever at Magic, figure that if I kill his Halberdier Guy, I’ll only take fifteen, and he can pump his ‘Tog all he wants okay only once each turn but no matter that sh** ain’t gonna kill this brother no time soon, since one life is greater than dead.

I reach for my lands and prepare to be tricky, when suddenly I notice that…

Rift Bolt is a sorcery.

I did pretty much the same thing during a side draft after a PTQ for Valencia. I finagled the game state as much as possible to do this really cool thing during my attack: four of my guys live and all of his die. I mean, I thought this out many turns ahead — I was damned skippy ready to pow bam and booya.

So I send my team into the fray, and naturally he has to block. After he declare very beneficial blockers (or so he thinks), I look at my hand and ready to tap mana. Then pause.

Opponent: Marshaling Cry is a sorcery, huh?
Me: omg.

And another during a side draft for the Time Spiral block release event:

I’m at two and my opponent’s at four. His board consists of the 6/3 Evil Eye, a 2/2 flyer and Grinning Totem, while I’m making due with Coral Trickster, Trespasser il-Vec, and an upside down Trickster that he knows about from an early bounce spell.

He takes a very long time before announcing his attack.

Here are my options:

A. Tap the flyer and block Eye Guy with a Trickster.
B. Tap the flyer and block Eye Guy with a Trickster.
C. Say “okay” and take two flying damage for no reason and lose.

Some multiple choice questions usually have one option which is something of a joke: you know it’s not that one. Yes, “C” for the win. For him.

Spectator: Why didn’t you use the Tendrils in your hand to kill the flyer?
Me: Duh, it’s a sorcery.

Sorcery speed is the lamest speed ever. To punish everyone for my sins, we should get a bizarro world of Time Spiral — a Sorcery Block, you know, eliminate instants. Think of all the new players we could actually keep because no one could ever counter their seven mana fatty, nor could they Terror the guy in response to playing an aura on them.

Dear Rosewater,

That idea is on the house, my gift to you, paisan.

I Know You’re Not Italian

Before I stroll off into the sunset, let me leave you with a parting thought that may keep you warm on those humid, late summer nights:

I find Rizzo’s writing extremely boring and pointlessly excessive.
bertubertu, Wizards’ forum

Oh yeah, well… well, you’re not the only one!

So there,
John Friggin’ Rizzo
JFR in the industry