Five in Five: Friday Night Magic And Creative Civil Disobedience

For the seventh day in a row, this maniac is submitting amusing reports mixed in with Type 2 information. How long CAN he keep it up? In the meantime, enjoy some thoughts on Kibler’s RUG and why it’s okay to take a whiz on a statue of Canadian prime minister John Diefenbaker.

I’m back again with my version of the chicken/egg conundrum. It’s a question that has given the wily Magic writer pause since the dawn of unsolicited Internet content:

Should I bore you into submission, or send a submission in to bore you?

Neither sounds appealing if you’re on the other side of the monitor, so I’m going to try a third option. Let’s talk Type 2, and I’ll run you through my recent experiences at Friday Night Magic. Like many other Canadian cardboard crack-a-holics, I’m going to try and grind in at Nationals; that means I have to keep my Standard skills sharp and my deck on top of the metagame.

Right. That is pretty obvious, but I have to pad this sucker somehow, and I don’t have any dogs to write about.

To continue… Things have changed. Before Regionals, the deck to beat/play was B/x Braids, and I was determined to have a unique but powerful variant of that basic archetype. Now, Braids has all but vanished from the Sarnia FNM scene. Why? More”Dojo effect” – everyone in my area is suddenly interested in U/G, U/R, or R/U/G Madness decks. When you sit down for a game in a random field in Sarnia, it seems like it’s either a second-turn Looter or Mongrel, or the guy is playing Zevatog and you’re in for an enjoyable afternoon of breaking Standstills with listless, summoning-sick creatures that will just get Aether Bursted or Repulsed anyway.

Before I go on about Lootermania… Isn’t Zevatog just the biggest bitch ever to play against? Besides the fact that it’s likely the strongest deck out there and a tough challenge for any deckbuilder to foil, it’s another one of those contraptions where you can see your doom coming from a mile away and you can’t do squat about it.

I’m reminded of something. Do you guys and gals (ha! Yeah, right!) read MagicTheGathering.com? Mark Rosewater commented that the voting of the”You Make The Card!” contest had shown many players want to”stick it to Blue.” This is because Blue decks don’t let you use your cards – and that further reminds me of something Randy Buehler said about R&D making a conscious effort to tone down mana denial cards.

Buehler wants decks to be able to use their cards, so he and R&D set out to screw land destruction? Does anyone else think they might have overlooked something here?

Those ridiculous Renton rascals have castrated the wrong bull.

By allowing Standstill to exist (this 1U enchantment is perhaps the biggest disincentive ever to actually, you know, use your cards), they’ve got a tempo-control deck running wild all over you like it was Hulkamania circa 1984. When I think about not being able to use my cards, I think about playing the same Wild Mongrel three times and while I’m getting outdrawn by 500%. At least with Port,

The Land Destruction bull might be lamenting his misbegotten testes, but as always, there is plenty of”Blue bullsh-t” to take up the slack.

Triple Standstill draws (with Aether Burst) are like triple Flametongue draws (with Birds of Paradise) or Bird/Port/Fires/Derm/Burst… They’re not fair. Playing second with an aggressive deck, the second-turn Standstill (which you must break) is like a Sorcery-speed Ancestral. Your Mongrel, Looter, or Nantuko Shade might make it into play – but odds are good that the creature in question won’t deal more than two points of damage before it returns to your hand like that proverbial”booger you just can’t shake.”

Then another Standstill. If I were Suge Knight, I would, at that point, bust a cap in the Zevatog player. No jury in the world would convict me.

Here’s what I was playing – it’s a Xerox of Kibler’s”Rug” as posted on the Sideboard by Mike Flores. Card for card maindeck, with a few Sideboard changes:

Geordie’s R/U/G (with thanks to Kibler and friends)

4x Wild Mongrel

4x Birds Of Paradise

4x Arrogant Wurm

4x Flametongue Kavu

4x Merfolk Looter

4x Call Of The Herd

4x Circular Logic

3x Fact or Fiction

3x Violent Eruption

3x Fiery Temper

6x Mountain

5x Forest

4x Shivan Reef

4x Yavimaya Coast

3x Karplusan Forest

1x City Of Brass


3x Compost

3x Gainsay

3x Roar of the Wurm

2x Engulfing Flames

2x Blurred Mongoose

1x Rushing River

1x Epicenter

The Engulfing Flames are for opposing Looters, Nantuko Shades, Ravenous Rats, Nightscape Familiars. Epicenter is the only card devoted to blowing up the land against Mono-Black. The Blurred Mongeese are for use against Zevatog, since they can’t bounce or Ghastly Demise them, and the people in my area don’t play Sickening Dreams (they’re probably going to start soon). Rushing River is to help against stuff like Wild Research, opposing Call and Roar tokens, and Opposition/Nest.

So, it’s a nifty Friday night and I walk in with my netdeck and try to win it all. We have all of eleven guys, so it’s a grueling three rounds of Swiss to a Top 4!

Here’s how it went down.

Round 1 vs. Trent Rogers w/ U/R Madness

Storeowner Trent is playing a U/R Madness/Wild Research deck with four Aquamoeba and four Merfolk Looter as his discard outlets of choice. This matchup is going to be all about the Looters… Just you watch. I don’t remember if this sordid match went to two or three games, but I think I got my ass handed to me in two, so we’ll go with that.

Game 1:

This is a crushing defeat because of Trent’s third-turn play, which is Violent Eruption through his second-turn Merfolk Looter (going first), killing my Wild Mongrel and Birds of Paradise (I’d had three mana on turn 2, but no Fiery Temper for his Looter). So instead of casting a Flametongue on his Looter on turn 3, I have to say”go” and wait until turn 4 with a handful of Kavu and Arrogant Wurms, plus an Eruption that I don’t have the RRR to cast.

The Looter starts going to work, and I just know I’m screwed. He Circular Logics the Flametongue (of course) and Looter/Eruptions a second Flametongue, along with my freshly cast Looter. It’s just ridiculous. Though I did kill his Looter, he just casts another one, and Wild Research as well. I have to start hardcasting Arrogant Wurms, and he has Flametongues of his own. What a beating!

With Kibler’s R/U/G, if you’re hardcasting Arrogant Wurms, you might as well bend over, grab your ankles, and kiss your five-painland-tapping, two-damage-taking ass goodbye. She’s over.

In go the Engulfing Flames, Rushing River, and a couple of Gainsays (though I shouldn’t have sideboarded those in, so put a counter on that jerk Wakefield’s damn”mistake dice” or whatever. Wakefield blows!).

Game 2:

Things are looking good for me, because Trent has no second-turn Looter (only an Aquamoeba) and I have mine. Somehow though, things get a little out of control! I loot through a few too many land, and he’s tossing burn at my dome. We trade Kavu after he drops one on my Arrogant Wurm. Before I can find a Circular Logic, he’s got an empty hand and plunks down Wild Research! My eleven life is nothing compared to an Eruption every turn, or multiple Tempers. Plus, he’s got an Aquamoeba!

When he played Wild Research, I had two Gainsays in hand. I need a playmat with a”Bang Head Here” zone.

Best… Sideboarding Choice… Ever.

Speaking of sideboards, if I had a Heads-Up-Display in my tinted glasses, it would be flashing”WARNING: RUSHING RIVER NEEDED” right now.

I give it the ol’ college try, but it’s not to be. He clears out my blockers and serves with the Aquamoeba once, and even when I kill it, I just get Erupted to death before I can take him from nineteen to zero. One of very few games where the early Looter doesn’t mean auto-win.

That was quick and painful.

I’m 0-1 and I have to go scout the field since I’d had defeat lodged in my unwilling colon before most other players had even settled into their seats.

The field:

Andy”**** Me For Buck” Cornette is playing R/G Beats. (Yes, that is in fact his nickname at the store. It’s pretty unprintable, but maybe if I star the whole thing out, Ferrett will let it slide. Use your imaginations.)

Kevin”Trying To Q But” Phelan is playing Mono-Black control with a splash of green for (lol!) Holistic Wisdom.

“Evil” Matt Fox is with B/r/g”School Canoe” designed by yours truly.

Mark Weymouth is playing the same B/w/g Braids he was running at Regionals.

Jay Vanderwielen is playing one of those B/r Beatdown decks that loses to Compost automatically.

My teammate John Labute has got a Counter-Trenches deck that he’s testing out.

And then the”madness” begins:

Neil”I Hope It Wasn’t A Sack Moon” Crawford is running Sporto’s U/G Madness/Beatdown deck from Ontario Regionals, complete with Sylvan Might and such. Tons of Looter and Mongrel action.

Teabaggin’ Trent Rogers is running U/R Wild Research/Madness with four each of Looter and Aquamoeba. And (BLECHH!) Rites of Refusal. Yes, I did tell him the card wasn’t so good, but he lives dangerously.

Grandpappy” Nick Martiniuk is playing a U/R Counter-Burn/Wild Research deck. Urza’s Rage, Flametongue Kavu, the full boat of Madness spells, and (ARRGH!) Rites of Refusal. He also has four of either Mefolk Looter or Aquamoeba. Don’t ask me why he’s called”Grandpappy”…He’s younger than I am.

Jay’s younger brother Andy Vanderwielen is playing a U/G Madness/Tempo deck with Looter, Mongrel, Logic, Arrogant Wurm and Roar of the Wurm. There’s also a bunch of bounce in there, along with Mystic Snake.

Goderich, Ontario’s favorite son, Jean-Marc Babin, wasn’t in attendance. If he had chosen to attend though, he’d have been playing a rogueish U/G with GUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUrzigost (it’s UNbeatable!), Upheaval, Chatter of the Squirrel, and a bunch of tempo cards including Mystic Snake. He plays eight Madness cards (four Rootwalla, four Circular Logic) along with Wild Mongrels, but his is not really a madness deck. It’s more of a Standstill/tempo deck, since there are a bunch of those too. I’m thinking he’s going to run it at Nationals.

Also absent was Chris(t) Borek and his Zevatog deck. Thank god. I hate Zevatog.

Time for Round 2.

Hey, look, it’s Jay! Time for Compost to shine.

Round 2 vs. Jay Vanderwielen w/ B/r”Compost Bitch” Deck

Jay is 0-1 with his conglomeration of Compost-vulnerable cards, and though it pains me, I’m going to have to double his pleasure.

Game 1:

This is the only game where I might have trouble depending on draws, but when I draw my opening seven and see a Bird, Looter, Mongrel, and two Flametongues, I know there’s pretty much no way he can win. Sure enough, my Bird takes an Edict for the team, my Mongrel comes out, then the Looter, then two Flametongues in a row, then I start Eruptioning and serving for lots of damage. I think he cast a Flametongue of his own, and maybe a Rager and a couple of Nantuko Shades.

What can B/r do against an active Looter backed by a double-Flametongue draw? He’s toast. In go the Composts and Engulfing Flames. If you ever play this deck, do whatever you can to get that Looter going. You won’t lose.

Game 2:

We trade creatures for a couple of turns, and then I topdeck Compost and just start trading card-for-card. Eventually I have a full mitt and he’s got like one card. Though he does have Ichorid going, it just gives me extra cards. I eventually get a Looter going with a couple of Logic in hand, and the Arrogant Wurms start popping out like magic. Though I did fear Mortivore (which is very hard for this deck to handle if it hits play), Jay didn’t have any in his sideboard, and after turn 5, I had the countermagic anyhow.

In any case, I ride Compost to victory.

Just a quick point before I move on – unlike the Compost in the sideboard of, say, a U/G tempo deck, the Compost of”Rug” is an especially lethal weapon, because I have the Eruptions and Tempers to kill the opposing Black creatures outright. Sometimes, all U/G can do is bounce them, or hope they die in combat. While still good against Monoblack Control, Compost isn’t nearly as good against B/x beatdown or Braids decks if the green deck doesn’t have red in it.

I remember in my testing for Regionals how much I would fear Compost when played by R/G Beats, as opposed to the more passive Compost of a U/G tempo deck. Against R/G Beats, I wouldn’t want to play even a single black card until I could kill the Compost with Thunderscape Battlemage or Pernicious Deed. Against U/G, I could still play my Ravenous Rats, Nantuko Shades and Phyrexian Ragers (to help dig for answers), resolute in the knowledge that the U/G deck had no way to send them to the bin unless I was dumb enough to block. As a result, I could win games against Compost draws with more frequency.

Of course, I could win games against a R/G double-Compost draw too, simply because of Mortivore, but I digress.

1-1. In between rounds I check out the cover of a very old Archie Comics. The cover features Moose saying,”I can’t hack it Arch – I’m dropping out!” and Archie trying to persuade the big guy not to do so. The best part is the caption:


I don’t think anything I can say will make that much funnier than it already is, so I’ll let it stand on it’s own. Long live the freaky, grooved out time-warp that is Riverdale!

Time for the 3rd round.

Round 3 vs. Mark Weymouth w/ B/w/g Braids

Mark is 0-2 and he got paired up. Apparently he’s been having some rough color-screw, mana-screw and mana-flood draws. While that’s unfortunate for him, I’m hoping the trend continues at least long enough to let me glide into Top 4. We’ll see. As it is, I know he’s playing a bunch of Pernicious Deeds and I really hate those… I have no way of stopping them except for Circular Logic. Spiritmonger isn’t much fun either.

A word to the wise – don’t let Rug fool you because it has Blue in it. Kibler’s brainchild plays like a R/G deck in many ways, and has trouble with most of the same things, like fat creatures and mass removal. The Circular Logics help out, but sometimes you look at a Roar of the Wurm token and say,”I only have burn for removal. That thing is going to kick my ass. I feel like I’m playing R/G here.”

Game 1:

He doesn’t draw white mana, and he’s in trouble because Vindicates are needed. While I’d love to give you a few more details, the truth is that all I remember is Mark scooping and showing me a couple of Vindicates. My draw was gas anyhow, so it’s unlikely the Vindicates would have helped too much, but still… It’s gotta be frustrating.

In go the Composts and Engulfing Flames, which in addition to killing Mesmeric Fiends have the side benefit of getting rid of Monger regeneration.

Game 2:

Ugly. B/x/x decks have horrible manabases; I know this because I ran one at Regionals. Mark mulligans and then gets the”painland, painland, double Tainted Land” draw and sits there taking beats, impotent as a Level III Judge watching a Ryan Fuller match.

2-1, and I’m into the Top 4.

What great, informative match coverage! If you think that was bad, check out the next contest, of which I have no memory whatsoever.

The Quarterfinals!

Round 4 vs. ????

I don’t remember who I played, I can only remember that I won. So, in lieu of match coverage, I’m going to tell you all a story. Grab yourself a beverage, gentle reader, and come with me down memory lane.

This is the story of a young man and his encounter with a statue of former Canadian Prime Minister John Diefenbaker.

When it comes to trading prowess and general Magic: The Gathering business sense,”Evil” Matt Fox is a Sarnia legend. Playing the game for fun and profit (and probably not in that order), the eighteen year-old entrepreneur, known online as”The Swami,” has made hundreds of dollars on eBay and countless more from shamelessly trading utter garbage to unsuspecting children in exchange for their good cards.

“Why do you want Call of the Herd? Blizzard Elemental is a 5/5!”

A while back, when I didn’t know”Evil” Matt quite as well, he was telling me about some of the things that had happened in Sarnia Magic while I’d taken a hiatus from the game to play Asheron’s Call.

Yes, the game that ol’ whatshisname plays.

Yes, I did play with him.

Don’t ask about it.

Anyhow, he eventually told me about the trip to Ottawa for either Nationals or Provincials (I forget which and in the grand tradition of twentysomethings everywhere, I’m too lazy to look it up). According to Matt, he and Mark Weymouth were too wired to sleep one night, so they spent the evening checking out the Ottawa nightlife.

Eventually, they found themselves in a deserted area, next to a statue of John George Diefenbaker, Canada’s thirteen Prime Minister. While there’s nothing amusing about this in and of itself, just wait. It wasn’t long before Evil Matt felt his bladder start to signal that it needed some release.

With purpose, Evil Matt proceeded to make his way to the Diefenbaker statue and, uh,”pay his respects.”

Now, when I first heard that he had done this, all I could do was shake my head and say,”You’re an idiot.” After all, how funny is it, really? Not very. Any drunken moron can urinate on a statue, and they very often do. Heck, I’m betting every immortalized political figure in the Americas has felt the stinging touch of urine at one time or another, most of it well over the legal limit.

It’s not over yet, though. I had to ask Matt what would possess him to do such a thing. After all, this isn’t a drunken fratboy we’re talking about, it’s a Magic player. From what I knew of him at the time, I didn’t think Matt seemed the type to recklessly vandalize a landmark in that manner.

So with disappointment in my voice, I had to enquire about his motives. I expected the usual stupid answer, the type of sheepish excuse you’d get from any boorish clod. After all, what sort of answer would you expect from an eighteen -year-old high-school student?

“I was drunk.”

“I don’t like that guy man, he, like, was in my Social Studies class and I hated that sh-t.”

“I don’t know, why do you care?”

I didn’t get any of those answers.

The question was: “Matt, why would you piss on a statue of John Diefenbaker?” (My apologies to the editor, but those were my exact words.)

This is when Evil Matt Fox would show me a glimpse of the Evil Matt that I have come to know since then. This is where he would turn my disappointment into a strange sort of admiration.

His answer?

“Because he f***ed the AVRO Arrow!”

Now, if you don’t know what the AVRO Arrow is, you’re probably just sitting there and cursing me for wasting a couple of minutes of your life that you’ll never get back. Fair enough, that’s a chance I was willing to take. I was in that boat too.


Matt:”We could have gotten tons of money from the Yanks, but he f***ed it!”

Me:”What the hell are you talking about?”

Let me interject here. For the uninitiated, the AVRO Arrow was a jet design and…Well, I’ll let other sources tell it:

“The cancellation of the jet, whose technology and performance was considered to be a decade ahead of its time, is regarded by some as a tragic example of Canada’s inferiority complex and government short-sightedness.”

“Then-prime minister John Diefenbaker cancelled the Avro Arrow project in February, 1959. The aircraft planes and 10 prototypes were ordered destroyed for security reasons. About 14,000 people lost their jobs and a world-leading Canadian team of designers and engineers disbanded. Some project scientists committed suicide; most left Canada and ended up making major contributions to the U.S space program.”

You can read more about the AVRO Arrow here:


So apparently, Canada had designed some amazing plane that it could have exported to the U.S. for big bucks… But it was cancelled by Diefenbaker!

Even funnier was the fact that Matt knew all about it and proceeded to give me the details.

Now you may see why I laugh every time I think of his response, and I tell the story with relish to anyone who is willing to listen.

This is a tongue twister, but it’s true: It’s funny because actually urinating on a statue… is behaviour incongruous… with being smart enough… to have a good reason for doing it.

It’s a known fact that only drunken idiots drop their pants and let fly for no good reason but an irrational hatred of authority. People with fully-researched, solid reasons to dislike a politician don’t urinate on statues – they form lobbies, sign petitions, or walk in protest marches.

It took one guy to change all that.

What a noble visionary was”Evil” Matt Fox – the only man brave enough to whizz on a brass likeness of Diefenbaker in defense (and in memory) of the cancelled AVRO CF-105 Aero. And he did it stone sober.


Time to wrap this baby up…with the finals!

Finals vs. Andy Vanderwielen w/ U/G Tempo/Beatdown

Andy is playing a good deck capable of explosive draws (turn 2 Mongrel, turn 3 Arrogant Wurm, turn 4 Roar), and he has Looters. He’s a fairly new player though, so I’m hoping I can outplay him a little and turn the advantage my way. Roar tokens are tough for Rug to handle, though.

Here goes nothing.

Game 1:

This game was a slaughter, because I went first and had second-turn Looter, third-turn Madness Fiery Temper your Mongrel, then fourth-turn Flametongue your other Call token and Loot, then 5th turn Violent Eruption your Call token and you for 1, and serve… And it got worse from there. I killed him with Flametongue beats and burn.

I love Rug against U/G decks. One deck can kill the opposing Looter. One deck can’t. One deck wins. One deck doesn’t. You get the idea. Second-turn Looter going first vs. U/G = I win!

I side in my Engulfing Flames – you guessed it – to kill his Looter. Also, he’s playing Basking Rootwallas and it’s great against them too. Rushing River goes in as well, since it’s amazing in this matchup – he’s got eight token creature spells.

Game 2:

My hand has nothing but painlands, Arrogant Wurms, Fact or Fiction and Fiery Temper, and he’s going first. I shouldn’t have kept it, but I did, and I paid the price. Every spell I cast is dealing me damage, and his Mongrel is beating me down big time. He’s landscrewed so he can’t do much, but he’s throwing out Call of the Herd and Roar of the Wurm a couple of times a turn and swinging for four. I eventually hard-cast an Arrogant Wurm (taking two damage as usual), but he pumps his Mongrel and they trade. Then he casts a Call of the Herd.

I’ve still got no basic land and I’m at like eight life. This is just not going to happen. I Fact or Fiction and turn up my first basic land, along with a Violent Eruption and some more nonbasics. I take the Eruption and take three to get rid of his Call token.

He draws a land and flashes back a Roar token. Ugh.

I try to hang on with chump blockers, but who am I kidding? He has two more Roars in the grave. Time to pack ’em up.

Same sideboard.

Game 3:

This one was close. I have a Looter going quickly, but his draw is quite good, and I have to use four burn spells (all Looted, though) to get rid of four Call tokens.

Flashback and Madness are broken… Eight spells trade for each other and the cost is zero cards for me and two for him.

Early on, a key play occurs when he flashes a Wurm token to join his fifth-turn Call token and his Wild Mongrel. I Fact or Fiction at the end of his turn and turn up my one sideboarded Rushing River. He lets me have it cheap, and I kick it to remove the Call token and the Wurm.

A few turns later, another key play occurs when he uses Circular Logic to save his Rootwalla from Engulfing Flames, forgetting that pumping it would do the same thing. This may have cost him later on, when he needed to get key spells through my Circular Logics.

To the midgame.

I haven’t drawn any big creatures yet so my board is basically three Looters and a couple of Birds of Paradise. I’m down to about eleven from painland damage. While I’m caught without Circular Logic, he hardcasts Roar of the Wurm! Now, with three Looters and ridiculous card advantage I should be well in control of the game, but I just haven’t had the cards arrive. Just a bunch of burn that I’ve had to use on his creatures, and some land, Fact or Fictions, Circular Logics, and Birds!

I loot a few times and come up with nothing but a couple of land and my fourth Looter. (He gets cast; if nothing else, he can chump.) My draw, luckily, gives me an Arrogant Wurm, which I cast. He flashes back his Roar and is done, with two 6/6’s in play. He’s at nineteen or so.

A double-loot at the end of his turn gives me a Flametongue and another Circular Logic, so it’s the beginning of the end for him.

I attack for four with the Arrogant Wurm, and he decides I’m up to something and doesn’t block. That’s okay, because doing damage is a good alternative to killing a Wurm token. I drop the Flametongue anyhow, and suddenly I’ve got five chump blockers and two four-power attackers and he’s only got a couple of Wurms.

Perhaps sensing the end is near, he attacks. I block with a Birds and a Looter, and Loot… Grabbing a Violent Eruption, which I don’t cast. He plays a land and is done. On my turn, I counterattack for eleven (Arrogant Wurm, Flametongue, three Looters) and hardcast an Eruption to finish the game, with enough mana to Circular Logic whatever he has in hand, plus a Birds of Paradise back to block a Wurm if necessary. He’s got nothing anyhow – and Rug wins!

Well, actually the Looters win. His draw was a beating that game, but I went first and had a turn 2 Looter. You know that means I win.

Here’s some advice: If you want to learn a lot about how Madness works, the value of Merfolk Looter, and what is key on Madness-on-Madness matchups, go to the sideboard, grab Kibler’s decklist out of the Flores article, and build it yourself. It will make you a better player. Heck, you don’t even have to read Flores’ article (but you should!) because I have the list in this one. Feel free to take it.

Not only will you learn how to play it (which helps a lot when you’re making your own unique variant!) but you learn how to beat it, which helps if you’re sick of the second-turn Looter madness and you want to just punch some face whenever you see one.

I hope you had fun reading. See you tomorrow with a T1 report from Chatham, Ontario…and the shameful details of my”other hobby” – backyard wrestling.

Geordie Tait

[email protected]

“Your daddy he is.”

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