From Right Field: How To Score A Cheap Column

This week, we’re going to do something that journalists call Interviewing Yourself. This is a technique in which the writer asks himself (or herself) questions that he (or she) then answers. In theory, this is supposed to give the writer (and, by extension, the reader) some Deep Insight into His (or Her) Own Mind. In reality, it’s a cheap way to get a column.

Before I really get into this week’s piece, I’d like to address a couple of issues. First, I do not look like Sonny Bono, circa 1973. If anything, I look like Mickey Thomas of Jefferson Starship circa”We Built This City on Rock and Roll.”

You know what? On second thought, I’ll take Sonny.

Also, I don’t hate blue. Well, okay, I kinda do. But hate is such a strong word. Let’s say that I actively dislike blue. Don’t get me wrong. I play blue when I can do fun stuff with it. About a year ago, I thought I had a pretty good mono-blue deck that won with Cognivore – turns out I was on the right track. (Check out PT Houston from the end of 2002.) I just wasn’t quite good enough to get the deck to win.

Mostly, though, blue just bores me. It does too much sitting around and not enough kicking of buttocks. But, worry not. I promise a fundilicious blue deck later on.

This week, however, we’re going to do something that journalists call Interviewing Yourself. This is a technique in which the writer asks himself (or herself) questions that he (or she) then answers. In theory, this is supposed to give the writer (and, by extension, the reader) some Deep Insight into His (or Her) Own Mind. In reality, it’s a cheap way to get a column. Don’t have any fresh ideas? Talk to yourself and get paid for it!

I’m going to do this a little differently, though. Instead of a straight Q&A (that means”questions and answers”) session, I’m going to use an interesting technique that I’ve seen in one of my favorite magazines. In journalistic circles, this is not called”plagiarism” or”ripping someone off.” It’s called”borrowing,””being influenced,” or”paying tribute.” This is so that the writer doesn’t owe anyone any royalties and can’t get sued.

The technique is from Esquire magazine. They have a single-page interview every month called”What I’ve Leaned.” It’s a very interesting way to interview. The interviewer starts with a word or phrase, and the interviewee finishes the thought. Often, it’s very funny. As when Garry Shandling ended”MY MOTHER” with”did the best she could.” Sometimes, it’s sublime, as when Red Auerbach said”IF YOU KEEP SCORE, win.” Once in a while, it’s moving and revealing in ways that you would never have imagined of that person, such as when Senator Kennedy (D-MA) said that that he thinks of his brothers every day and still misses them.

WHAT I’VE LEARNED by Chris Romeo, 36, songwriter, Magic player, lawyer, heartbreaker

CABAL COFFERS: does not tap for 1 colorless mana. It doesn’t do anything without mana to pump through it. Also, it’s pronounced”cuh-BALL,” not”cobble.” Cabal Coffers is where the Cabal stores its loot. Cobble Coffers is where your girlfriend hoards her shoes.

GREEN DECKS: have to have Wild Mongrel. It doesn’t matter how you design your deck; you’ll start looking at two drops, and, when it comes down to it, you’ll have Wild Mongrel in there.

MY MOTHER: is mentioned this weekend that she wants to learn how to play Magic. Because of all of the mathematics involved, she thinks she’d enjoy it and be good at it. Would you like to teach her how? I’m busy that day.

WHITE: needs Armageddon back. Period. The cards are there right now for white to be great. It has some fantastic weenies. But it can’t keep the monsters from hitting the board unless it can blow up lands. Also, it needs to splash green for Wild Mongrel.

THE KIDS: need to be treated well when they come to play in your tourney. They are the lifeblood of the game. Plus, they usually have cute, single Mom’s. Yet another reason that you should shower before a tournament.

SHUFFLING: is just not hard. No one should need to read an article on how to do it. More important, no one should have to write an article on how to do it.

MERFOLK: Where are the Merfolk? Apparently, when the Tribal thing came up for Onslaught block, Wizards didn’t think blue needed any more Merfolk. Right now, in Standard, there are only four Merfolk: Merfolk of the Pearl Trident, Coral Merfolk, Ambassador Laquatus, and Merfolk Looter. When Legions is legal, you’ll be able to add Mistform Ultimus. Then again, so will every other creature type. Not very good for Merfolk, now, is it?

WHY DID THE CHICKEN CROSS THE ROAD?: Somebody had to block the Wild Mongrel.

EIGHTH EDITION: is gonna take time to grow on us since it looks so different. But, in the end, all we’ll really care about is that Llanowar Elves is no longer legal in Standard.

WORSHIP: me, you pitiful mortals!

MR. THE FERRETT: has no idea how lucky I feel to be writing for StarCity and how much fun I have doing it. Although I guess he does now.

ULTRA-SECRET TECH: isn’t as secret as you think. It’s not like you’re the only one who can look at the Oracle. All of the cards are there. The only question is whether or not you’re bold enough to use some of them. Having said that, you really oughtta try dropping a Bloodshot Cyclops or two into a deck with red in it, especially if it’s a red/green deck that runs Anger. Also, Blaze can just end the game.

THE LAST GOOD: rare I pulled? One of the Onslaught fetch lands. Here’s a list of cards from Odyssey block and Onslaught that I have never pulled from a pack:

….And I’m tired of listing them now, so I’ll stop. I did pull a Mystic Enforcer once. Oh, and a Nantuko Shade. So, don’t tell me that there aren’t ultra rares. Of course, there’s someone out there going,”Oh, geez. Not another Blistering Firecat! Can’t I get just one Convalescent Care?!?”

IF I HAD IT TO DO OVER: I’d take something other than a Birds deck to States. Or I’d run Shared Triumph in the maindeck instead of Morningtide. Also, if I had it to do over, I’d never have broken up with Elle MacPherson. Sometimes, we do stupid things when we’re young. I continue to do them now that I’m old, too.

IT DOESN’T MATTER: what other colors you play with Astral Slide. I’ve played with and against R/W Slide (the original and the pauper’s version), G/W Slide (a.k.a. Baby Poop), and, of course, the B/W Slide deck that Josh Sharp and I created with Tainted Aether (Tainted Slide or”The Hershey Highway”). I’ve even played against UW Slide decks (also work very well), UGW Slide, and BGW Slide. As far as I can tell, as long as you have cycling cards and get a Slide, the deck is a monster.

However, I think the pauper’s version of the RW Slide is the best… Right now. With Pardic Arsonist, you can beat Opposition and ‘Tog decks simply by sliding the Arsonists in and out of play. So what if they can lock you down with tokens? In response, cycle and slide the Arsonist out. Big ol’ Dr. Teeth comin’ atcha? Not if you have Renewed Faith. In other words, expect to see Astral Slide banned in Onlsaught Block Constructed come Summer 2003.

YOU CAN’T FIX EVERYTHING: with duct tape or discard. Sure, they each have their uses. As any handyman can tell you, duct tape is great. But you also need WD-40. (“If it doesn’t move, but it should, use WD-40. If it moves, but it shouldn’t, use duct tape.”) The same goes for discard. While it works very well against whatever they have in their hand, it doesn’t do a thing for whatever they’re about to draw off of the top of their deck. Remember that when building mono-black decks; you might need something to combat unexpected creatures with protection from black (like Phantom Centaur) and enchantments.

I CAN’T WAIT: for Legions. And, no, it’s not because of all of the Birds. I’m over Birds. They cause me too much pain. No, I just can’t wait for a set that’s all creatures with lots and lots of abilities. First up, a new Sliver deck. Then, a Soldier deck with Deftblade Elite.

TELEPATHY: is vastly underrated. Blue is all about preventing your opponent’s best spells from hitting the table. Or sending them back when they do. So, doesn’t it make sense that knowing exactly what your opponent has at any given time is A Good Thing? In fact, I’ve even come up with a cute li’l mono-blue deck that features Telepathy and the few Merfolk in Standard, plus one little buddy. It’s called:

Something Fishy’s Goin’ On Here


19 Island

1 Lonely Sandbar

1 Cephalid Coliseum


4 Merfolk of the Pearl Trident

4 Coral Merfolk

4 Merfolk Looter

4 Lord of Atlantis

2 Ambassador Laquatus

4 Wonder


4 Counterspell

4 Aether Burst

3 Boomerang

3 Force Spike

3 Telepathy

Oh, yeah, baby! Blue on a Sligh curve. Telepathy means never having to ask yourself,”What if something worse is coming?”

TRUE HAPPINESS: is dropping a first-turn Birds of Paradise. Then passing the turn to your wife. In the finals at a PTQ.

As usual, you’ve been a great audience. I hope you had fun at the prerelease, and that Birds won you a majority of your games. I appreciation of the strengthening of that particular tribe, I suggest you listen to anything by The Black Crowes.

Chris Romeo

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