From Right Field: Look Back in Anger

For me, 2003 was probably the best year of my life so far. In May, I met my future wife. If I don’t scare her off, I’ll be married to her in 2004. If nothing else happened in all of 2003, that alone would have made it the best year ever.

Of course, this isn’t a web site for romance. If you’ve looked at our pictures, you’ll know why. No, this site is about Magic: The Gathering. So, let’s take a look back at 2003, MTG style. First, I want to revisit some predictions I made in my New Year’s Day column on this very site.

The New Year! A clean slate. A time to survey the possibilities that lie before us. A fresh start. Pass the Alka Seltzer, please. And quit breathing so loud. Thanks.

It’s also time to look back. A time to remember happy days past. A time to catalogue our regrets. Like drinking champagne with Jack Daniels chasers at that New Year’s Eve party last night. Shhhhhhh.

For me, 2003 was probably the best year of my life so far. In May, I met my future wife. If I don’t scare her off, I’ll be married to her in 2004. If nothing else happened in all of 2003, that alone would have made it the best year ever.

Of course, this isn’t a web site for romance. [It’s not, but maybe we’ll do some sort of Joe Gamer knockoff, where some hot girl has to choose a husband from a group of gamers. – Knut, bubbling over with ideas] If you’ve looked at our pictures, you’ll know why. No, this site is about Magic: The Gathering. So, let’s take a look back at 2003, MTG style. First, I want to revisit some predictions I made in my New Year’s Day column on this very site.

Looking Back at Dr. Romeo’s Prognostications for 2003

My Prediction:”In 2003, Kai Budde will win at least one tournament. He will be hailed by people who like to state the obvious as ‘a really good player.’ These people will also point out that Halle Berry is ‘really attractive’ and that Strom Thurmond is ‘really old.'”

How it Turned Out: I haven’t looked, but I’m pretty sure that Kai won something in 2003 [Pro Tour: Chicago – Ed.]. Halle Berry remains one hot babe. Strom Thurmond died this Summer at age 100. That qualifies as”really old” in my book.

My Prediction:”At some point in the next year, you will get mana screwed. This will cause you to lose a crucial game.”

How it Turned Out: Of course, you got mana hosed this year. That’s Magic. It wasn’t your fault, though, was it? Nope. Couldn’t have been. You’re too good. It had nothing to do with the fact that you decided to use only nineteen lands in a sixty-card deck in which the average spell cost four mana. Nope. You’re just unlucky. Better luck in 2004, Barbie.

My Prediction:”Wizards will release four more Magic sets in 2003: The final two expansions of the Onslaught block, the first set of the next block, and 8th Edition. No one will be happy with all 1,000 cards.”

How it Turned Out: I was partially right. We got Legions, Scourge, 8th Edition, and Mirrodin in 2003. However, I was wrong that no one would like all the cards. This guy did.

Oh, what does he know anyway? His favorite set was probably Homelands. I think he stopped playing after Arabian Nights, though.

My Prediction:”There will be at least one card that looks completely underwhelming when it’s released. People will be surprised and shocked at how powerful it is. That card will not be Horned Troll.”

How it Turned Out: Well, duh. This happens not just every year but every set. My nominee for Most Powerful Card that was Laughed Off by Those Who Think That They Know How Good Cards are Before They’ve Ever Been Played With has got to be Akroma, Angel of Wrath. All anyone could talk about when she was released was how she cost too much and would never see tournament play. I wish. I can’t remember how many games that I had firmly in hand this year until she came swinging down from her perch to kill me in three turns. Also, as expected, Horned Troll did not make a splash in his comeback.

My Prediction:”Counterspell won’t be reprinted in 8th Edition. This will be Wizards’ way of showing that they aren’t all about Blue. Instead, in the UU slot, they will reprint the Portal card called Piracy.”

How it Turned Out: Wizards did not reprint Counterspell. They didn’t reprint Piracy, either. They did, however, reprint Coastal Piracy. Man, I was thisclose.

My Prediction:”A woman will play in a Magic tournament. She will be considered an oddity. At least one guy will patronizingly ask her if she plays Magic much with her boyfriend. She’ll answer, ‘No, I haven’t had a lot of time since Pro Tour: Chicago.’ She’ll then proceed to kick his ass.”

How it Turned Out: Okay, it’s not really fair that I kinda forced this one to come true. My friend Stacey Allen, who played in Pro Tour: Chicago in 2000 (the one with Kibler’s Rith deck), doesn’t get to play much tourney Magic anymore. The one time we faced each other this year, I played the role of The Typical, Patronizing Guy and asked her The Question. It was funny because she knew her line very well. It was almost as if it might not have been the first time a guy asked her that question. It wasn’t funny when she trounced me, though.

My Prediction:”Jon Finkel will make his big comeback with a Standard White Weenie deck. He will win the last game of a Pro Tour finals by swinging with a Suntail Hawk.”

How it Turned Out: A complete whiff on my part. Sorry, Jon.

My Prediction:”In the coming year, someone will win a major tournament with a deck that has never been seen before. Many local scrubs will claim to have been the first to build the deck and will flood web fora (plural of ‘forum’) with messages to prove that it’s their deck. Zvi will still refuse to split the prize money with them.”

How it Turned Out: Check and check. Zvi still won’t pay me anything.

My Prediction:”Finally, at the end of 2003, I still won’t know the name of the woman who posed for Shelter.”

How it Turned Out: I still don’t know her name, but I’m marrying my own raven-haired hottie in a few months. So, I’m cool with that.

The Year in Magic – The”Shame on You” Awards

Odyssey Block rotated out of Standard on October 20th. With it went you chance to play with some fun cards in Standard. Really, you had your chance. You just had to play with the same old tired Psychatog, Roar of the Wurm, Wild Mongrel, Deep Analysis, and Chainer’s Edict. Yawn. Here’s what you missed.

Animal Boneyard / Chamber of Manipulation

These two almost have to go together. One takes creatures while the other lets you sacrifice creatures to gain life. How did no one find a way to make these work?

Aven Warcraft

I guess no one wanted to use this because it’s White. Still, this card is what White is all about. Protect your creatures in combat early. Later in the game, it allows for an alpha strike.

Barbarian Bully

Either your opponent takes four damage, or they have a 4/4 coming at them. Gee, if only Odyssey Block had included some cards that would have been good to discard. Oh, well.

Blazing Salvo

I can’t remember how many times {It was five. – Not Ted Knutson. See? No brackets.} that I threw one of these at an opponent’s Birds of Paradise at the end of their turn, and they took five. Then, I did it again on my turn. No way were they going down to ten on turn 1 or 2. So, no turn 2 Call of the Herd. Three damage for a single Red mana or five damage for a single Red mana. Can someone explain why that wasn’t good?

Centaur Chieftain

Before Threshold, he was a 3/3 Green creatures with Haste. A Green critter with Haste?!? Outrageous! With Threshold, he was a 4/4 with Trample and Haste that also acted as a mini-Overrun. Brilliant! Too bad Green didn’t have a way to get to Threshold quickly.

Cephalid Constable

This guy screams lockdown. Why couldn’t anyone break him? Man, I’d hate to see this guy wearing a Loxodon Warhammer.

Churning Eddy

Incredible tempo control. Kill a Wurm token and hose up your opponent’s mana. Wow.


I thought this guy would be great. With all of Blue’s counterspells and instant-speed card-drawing spells, he’d be a 21/21 in no time. Yet, he never made a splash in Standard. As our esteemed editor, Mr. Ted”Don’t Call Me ‘Mister'” Knutson likes to tell his writers, though,”there are no good cards, just good decks.” Think Cognivore stinks? Ask Justin Gary what he thinks of the Big Blue Blob. Gary won Pro Tour Houston with an Extended deck that had only two creature cards in it. Both were Cognivore. There are no good or bad cards, just good or bad decks.

Cultural Exchange

“Here, have some squirrel tokens. I’ll take those Angels. Thanks.”

Druid’s Call

Okay, I like making squirrel tokens. So, sue me.


With so many decks that had only a few threats in them, I would have expected this to be a sneaky-good first-turn play. At worst, you get information about what your opponent is playing. If you were extremely good (i.e. way better than me), you could even figure out what your opponent was holding by what was left in their deck. We had better things to do on turn 1, though. Things like saying”go.”

Grotesque Hybrid

He can fly. He can get Protection from White and Green. And he can kill anything he touches. Yet, he wasn’t used. Hmmmm . . .


If this guy were a football player, he’d be a first-round draft pick. Look at those stats. He’s a 6/8 for five friggin’ mana. Five! As if that wasn’t enough, he has uber-Trample. Too bad you have to discard cards for that to work. Like Barbarian Bully, I guess no one used him because there weren’t any good cards to discard.

Krosan Beast

The only Odyssey Block tourney that I won was on this guy’s beefy back. Same cost as Roar of the Wurm from the ‘yard. My Beast was always bigger than the other guy’s Wurms, though. Throw Sylvan Might on him, and it was usually game.

Sylvan Might

Speaking of which, what were you thinking? This was the card to get around chump blockers and to win the mirror match. Trampling 8/8 Wurms beat 6/6 Wurms.

Lava Blister

What’s the Land Destruction mantra? Everyone say it with me.”Land Destruction stinks because there are no turn 2 plays.” Except for this one. Talk about an awful choice.”Lose my only land, or go to fourteen against a Red deck. Can I think about that for a while?” Add Pardic Miner to see some hilarious facial contortions from your opponent.

Malevolent Awakening

Okay, it was a bit pricey to use. Even with that 1BB activation cost, though, I find it hard to believe that no one could find a way to use this. If you’re going to lose a creature anyway, you might as well get something for it, right?


Who likes to have their hand emptied? Who wants to see a 4/3 for four mana? Then, why didn’t we use this?

Reborn Hero

I know. White was still very bad in Odyssey Block, even with Pianna, Lt. Kirtar, Beloved Chaplain, and Mystic Crusader. Still, this guy was nigh unkillable. I like using”nigh.”


I have actually seen this guy hit someone just one time and take an entire deck. He put the”ugh” in”ugly.”

Second Thoughts

Another one that suffered from being White. It was also a tad costly. I found it to be quite useful, though. I could remove attacking Dragons and Angels and Wurms and Hounds and Lizards while drawing a card. Not bad.

Serene Sunset

What a great trick for Green: selective Fog. At times, this one card gave my mono-Green decks a one-sided Wrath of God.”Fog all of your guys. Mine still deal damage.” Sweet.

Shade’s Form

How was this not good? You could turn any of your guys into a Shade while still getting him back if it got killed. So, no card disadvantage. Or you could use it to steal an opponent’s creature. I love playing with other people’s things. If you know what I mean.

Spirit Cairn

Maybe people didn’t use this because it cost mana to activate. Maybe it was because it was White. I still think this was a great chance to get nearly-free creatures. People were discarding like crazy when Odyssey was around. This created chump blockers or even the last few points of damage. [This did get used in a Top 16 B/W Slide deck from English Nationals. -Knut]

Still Life

Imagine that it’s mid-game. You cast Wrath of God. Then, you activate your Still Life and attack for four. I hear that creatures that survive Wrath effects are nice. Chimeric Idol was nice. So, was this.

Wormfang Crab / Wormfang Drake

The former is an unblockable 3/6 for four mana while the latter is a 3/4 flier for three mana. I must be very bad at this game because those look like pretty good stats to me.

I don’t want to see a list this chock full of goodies next year, too. You’d better start using Raven Guild Master, Serum Tank, and Psychic Membrane in decks right now. [It’s okay folk, after reading that last section, we’ve placed Chris in protective restraints. He’s harmless. – Knut]

Dr. Romeo’s Predictions for 2004

Prediction #1: Someone will complain about the new Extended being dominated by Blue-Green Madness, Psychatog, and Goblins.

Fed up with a bunch of whiny players who would complain if Jennifer Garner wanted to tie them up in bed with silk scarves because”silk makes my wrists itch,” the DCI will decide to ban Forests, Mountains, Islands, and Swamps. White still won’t be any good to play.

Prediction #2: Someone playing Magic Online will carp about people who concede their games when they have no chance of winning.

“They should at least stick around for the last fifteen minutes of the game so that I can actually kill them.” Another player will try to explain that conceding game one can’t win is a common occurrence in”real world” Magic because it saves time. The room adept will caution that person that mentioning the”real world” is considered disruptive activity and can lead to your Magic Online account being suspended.

Prediction #3: White Weenie will make a huge comeback when Wizards reprints Armageddon in Darksteel.

Unfortunately, Fifth Dawn will include a Red counterspell that costs R and reads”Counter target Armageddon.”

Prediction #4: Goblins will continue to be huge in Standard. Still, someone will argue that Goblin Goon is better than Clickslither. That person will be wrong.

Prediction #5: Michelle Bush will finally read one of my articles. She will be smitten by my wit and the rakish, Owen Wilson-like smile I wear in my bio picture.

Sadly, she will also find that I am engaged. In her depression, she’ll create another brilliant deck and crush everyone in her path. I apologize in advance.

Prediction #6: Upset that Blue has been relegated to the role of support for White in Blue-White Control decks, Randy Buehler will force through a special three-card set, legal in all formats, that includes Counterspell, Force Spike, and Accumulated Knowledge.

He will claim in his column on MagictheGathering.com that Wizards did this”because there was a mix-up when we sent 8th Edition to the printers.” No one will believe him. Pro Tour players won’t care what the true reason is, though, as long as they can play with the cards in Standard.

Prediction #7: John Rizzo will write one article this year.

He will win Favorite Magic Writer. Someone will mention Rafael Pameiro’s 1999 Gold Glove for playing all of thirty games at first base. Rizzo will have that person beaten. I’ll then say”heh.”

Predication #8: Oscar Tan will write a ton of articles on playing Vintage/Type 1 Magic. I will look at the list of cards and know only”Plains,””Island,” and”Lotus Petal.” I won’t play in any Vintage tournaments.

Predication #9: Playing in a casual, multi-player game, someone will put Exoskeletal Armor on a Havoc Demon, making it a 32/32 flier.

That person will then Equip it with Loxodon Warhammer. As he attacks, he’ll laugh maniacally until the defending player casts Terminate. Once again, a grown man will cry over a game that doesn’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things. Unlike, say, The Super Bowl.

Prediction #10a: Charles Dykes will try to play Pyroclasm or Infest during my attack step.

I’ll have to remind him again that they are sorceries.

Prediction #10b: Someone better than me will notice the breathtaking synergy among Atog, Second Sunrise, Grab the Reins, and artifact lands.

They will tweak Aaron Breider’s 3rd Place 2003 Michigan State Champs deck and win big bucks with it.

Prediction #11: No one will find a use for The Four Towers from Mirrodin. Rather, no one will find a use for them as it relates to playing them in a Magic game. They will continue to make great coasters.

Prediction #12: Christopher Moeller still won’t tell me the truth about the woman on Shelter.

Finally, I’m stealing Ted Knutson rift (you really need to read his Christmas day piece) and throwing out some Romeo Love for 2004.

Dr. Romeo’s 2004 New Year’s Fantasies & Wishes:

I hope that my friend Charles Dykes wins his first tourney. I hope he does it with his own deck because that’s how he wants to do it.

I hope that Wizards R&D keeps doing the bang-up job they’ve been doing the past couple of years in making sets. We may not like every card, but you guys are keeping the game fresh, exciting, and interesting. That’s what counts.

For T-Knut, I hope that you get to Nicole Kidman before I do. I’d hate for her to have to utter the phrase,”Well, Romeo did it this way.”

I hope that my Red Sox make Nomar feel very wanted now that they’re not getting A-Rod. If not, the clubhouse is gonna be a rotten place to be, and the acquisition of Curt Schilling will have been for nothing. It would be a shame to see the Sox to go from Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS to not even making the play-offs in 2004.

I would love to hear about a woman playing in a tourney and going through the whole afternoon / day / whatever without a single person saying something like,”Gee, I didn’t know girls could play Magic.”

I hope that the second half of The Clone Wars is as good as the first half.

I hope that all the men and women in uniform come home alive from all of the places they shouldn’t be.

I hope that Opus gets way better way quick.

I hope that my wedding goes smoothly and that Luanne doesn’t realize until it’s all over how much better she could do.

I wish that someone would see how good Bloodshot Cyclops can be.

I wish another Pro Tour win for Jon Finkel. But it has to be with a White Weenie deck.

I wish someone would realize that, in all of Extended, the only card that can turn a Goblin Charbelcher pointed at you from a loss to a win is Willbender. (There are cards in the Extended card pool that can counter abilities or make a player untargetable. Stifle and Bind, for example, can stop a Charbelcher until the next time it can be activated. Only a flipped-over Willbender, however, can change the target of the Charbelcher’s ability from you to the guy who’s controlling the Charbelcher.)

I hope that someone uses Nuisance Engine with Grave Pact to win a tourney.

I hope that someone uses the Legions Slivers to win a Standard tournament.

I hope that I win a tourney.

As usual, you’ve been a great audience. Please, stay tuned for a new show by Up with People here at The Santa Bowl, where the North Pole Kringles lead the South Pole Penguins 27-10 at the half.

I hope you had a Happy and Safe New Year,

Chris Romeo

[email protected]