Getting Up For The Down Time While Remaining Random

[Andrew Cuneo did the right thing. And still won. Read about it here: http://www.wizards.com/sideboard/article.asp? x=MASTERSCHI009010fm3gw There has been some discussion on the Star City mailing list that he might have done "the right thing" only because whatever he was using as a bird token was shaped in a manner that could lead to confusion about…

[Andrew Cuneo did the right thing. And still won. Read about it here:


There has been some discussion on the Star City mailing list that he might have done "the right thing" only because whatever he was using as a bird token was shaped in a manner that could lead to confusion about it’s tapped/untapped status. A round bead was mentioned. Regardless, the next time you see Andrew, run up and give him a big soul kiss and a juicy booya.]

FrigginRizzo: <—Dedicating this article to confusing the hell out of Rui Oliveira, who sometimes gets lost reading my stuff.


[I’m browsing Matt Drudge’s website at work (Heh), when an underling looks over my shoulder.

Underling: That guy doesn’t know what the hell the truth is!

Me: It depends on what the definition of "is" is.

He didn’t get it.]

Enter "the gist" mode:

I went an entire Saturday without Magic. How depressing. No tournament. My multiplayin’ fools are out of Dodge. The gaming place of last resort, the comic store, is being remodeled. Jeez.

What the hell do you do when there is no Magic to be had, anywhere?

Fear not, for there are options, all of which pale in comparison to actual playing – but hey, no one said that there is a brand new car behind every door.

There is always Apprentice.

There is always playtesting. By yourself.

There is always… something else, I guess, but it probably sucks.

While I used to love the hell out of Apprentice, I have weaned myself from the teat of opponent disconnection and list index errors. One can only play x amount of times (where x is equal to the amount of patience target player possesses in his or her gullet) before experiencing "IP Syndrome."

What’s IP Syndrome, you ask? Simply stated, it is the feeling you get when you have to beg for a friggin’ game because everyone else in the room would rather scroll their MP3 list (in the case of AOL chatrooms), or recruit you for a friggin’ master (in the case of IRC).

That leaves solo playtesting, again. <insert yawn here> Yeah, yeah, I realize that playtesting is an integral part of proper deck tweaking – but come on, can it be any more boring when you are forced to figure out how the hell you can justify trying to bluff a Counterspell when you know damn well that you don’t have one? It’s difficult, if not impossible, to replicate real game scenarios when you know what the other guy is holding, as you are the other guy (and the other other guy too).

But, necessary evils are necessarily evil for a reason. I’ll keep telling myself "this is how you get good" until I’m blue in the face. While I will believe it, it doesn’t make it any less boring, now does it?

And I won’t get to play my finished product until December 9. Blah. So. Might as well get busy with the solo testing/journey of self discovery and whatnot.

[Day two card breakdowns, From Pro Tour – Chicago:

563 Plains
526 Island
181 Forest
94 Mountain
53 Swamp

Pardon me whilst I vomit a few random innards onto the floor.

Welcome to Pro Tour: Chicago. This year the format will be Type 2, Masques Block All Over Again and Whatnot.

The top ten most frequently used cards, day two:

1. Rishadan Port
2. Chimeric Idol
3. Wrath of God
4. Ramosian Sergeant
5. Counterspell
6. Parallax Wave
7. Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero
8. Adarkar Wastes
9. Disenchant
10. Armageddon

"When I say that Tsabo’s Web is one of the most powerful, environment-altering, Constructed cards in Invasion, I am not exaggerating. This card, though ostensibly designed to halt the power of Rishadan Port in the upcoming Standard, is just too good."
Mike Flores, Sideboard Invasion Preview

Number of day two Tsabo’s Web: 52. Mike was right.

"Fact or Fiction is insane, and is going to go into almost every deck that can afford it."
Zvi Mowshowitz, Sideboard Invasion Preview.

Number of day two Fact or Fiction: 106. Zvi was right.

Last year, Jeff Donais said that (begin paraphrase) Standard would be some sort of incredibly friggin’ amazingly diverse stuff (end paraphrase).

For us little guys, he was correct; for the pros, he was dead wrong.

Alas, what do I know?]

Inspiring Mono Green Hatred.

It’s quite odd that I could look at that deck and become inspired to create something totally irrelevant. But, that’s how it happened.

I traded some mail with John Ewing a while back, which led to him sending me a couple of decks for extended, encouraging comments. He sent a pretty cool Sliver Deck, but the one that intrigued me was this:

Han’s Horror Returns

4x Survival of the Fittest
3x Oath of Ghouls
3x Diabolic Edict
4x Birds of Paradise
2x Elvish Lyrist
2x Spore Frog
3x Hermit Druid
2x Wall of Roots
1x Uktabi Orangutan
1x Spike Feeder
1x Spike Weaver
2x Lhurgoyf
1x Woodripper
1x Carrion Beetles
1x Carrionette
1x Keeper of the Dead
1x Bone Shredder
2x Krovikan Horror
2x Revenant
4x Bayou
4x Hickory Woodlot
2x Volrath’s Stronghold
7x Forest
6x Swamp

4x Blossoming Wreath
3x Emerald Charm
4x Nether Shadow
4x Ashen Ghoul

You can read John’s explanation of this deck here:


While writing a reply, I started to think that his was a control deck, as much as it was also aggro. I wasn’t sure I really understood the nuances, much less how to play the damn thing, but it did send me down a road. That was probably three months ago, maybe more, but I’m still following that road – and yes, when I came to the fork in said road, I took it.

(That was funny)

[Sportscards, Etc. I’m buying a few boosters and whatnots. I recognize a guy who used to frequent the lottery booth at the convenience store where I worked way back when.

Me: ‘Sup, chief?

C-store patron of yore: Hey, isn’t that game for kids?

Me: Hey, isn’t the lottery for total [expletive] idiots?

I’m way past the Magic stigma, but I’m still a bitter dude. My bad.]

I started to take a deeper look into John’s deck, and came up with a "variant" that I can only say was the first thing that came into my mind while trying to come back with a helpful reply.

This was the result:

1.x Control Green Off Top of Head:

4x Birds of Paradise
4x Llanowar Elves
3x Wall of Roots
4x Creeping Mold
4x Fallow Earth
3x Plow Under
2x Desert Twister
1x Stunted Growth
4x Natural Order
4x Blastoderm
2x Verdant Force
1x Multani, Maro-Sorcerer
1x Sliver Queen
17x Forest
3x Wasteland
3x Gaea’s Cradle

Like I said, this was the first thing I thought of, and it shows, a lot. I suddenly became fascinated with the idea of mixing sickening land destruction with an extremely powerful win condition: Secret Force.

My rationale was this: every deck needs mana, deny it. When they are busy praying to topdeck land, pound them with a Verdant and his minions. Sounded good. In theory. After playtesting this deck for, oh, about three minutes, I began to notice that it sucked. Much.

A few more tweaks led to this:

4x Llanowar Elves
4x Fyndhorn Elves
3x Birds of Paradise
4x Natural Order
4x Blastoderm
2x Verdant Force
1x Yavimaya Ants
1x Multani, Maro-Sorcerer
4x Fallow Earth
4x Thermokarst
4x Winter’s Grasp
4x Creeping Mold
1x Desert Twister
2x Gaea’s Cradle
3x Ancient Tomb
15x Forest

Now, I was getting somewhere – although it wasn’t exactly where I thought it would be. The whole premise of the deck was to apply "the formula":

Blow up a land on turns two, three, and four, then, either apply Blasty beats or Order out Verdant or Multani.

Said formula was vicious. When it was properly applied. The problem came when the formula wasn’t properly applied, which was more often than I would have wanted.

Going second threw an automatic monkey into the formula’s wrench, big time. Especially if I saw Islands across the table. Islands were not conducive to the formula. However, I still felt that the mere existence of the formula was reason enough to consider it ready to go.


[After the "success" of The Universal Net Deck, my Constructed rating is now a beefy………………



(no comment)

(seriously, stop commenting)

I took this version to CMU to playtest against The Gauntlet. What’s The Gauntlet you ask? Simple. The best eight to ten decks, religiously copied, card for card, from the list of those that dominated or won a big ol’ tourney. Yeah, Net Decks. Aaron Forsythe told me about The Gauntlet and suggested that I should have the "honor" of building and supplying the test decks. So I did.

["For every rape that occurs, nine more go unreported."
-Random TV commercial I saw a while back.

The Department of Creative Statistics is working overtime.]

The Gauntlet:

Yuki Murakami – 2nd Place GP Kyoto – Trix
Katsuhiro Mori – 3rd Place GP Kyoto – Pandeburst
Sean Fitzgerald – 1st Place GP Phoenix – CounterSliver
Scott Johns – 4th Place GP Phoenix – Tradewind Survival
Robert Swarowski – 5th Place GP Phoenix – Sligh
Tobey Tamber – 8th Place GP Phoenix – Stompy
Gary WiseStasis, because he is Gary Wise and it is Stasis
I forget who- I forget where and what place – Maher Oath, which I
never actually got around to building.

Later on, I would revamp Pandeburst to Gordon Lin’s version, which won GP Sydney.

After playing my green monstrosity against these decks, in the hands of Aaron, Scott Teamann, and Eugene "Eubroken" Harvey, I realized that it just sucked. Still. Good thing too, for you should find out how bad your deck sucks before you play it at a PTQ. That’s a free tip from your Uncle Friggin’.

I realized that Trix could have its lands blown up for quite a while, and still live long enough to go off, as long as there was little pressure being put on. Stompy just pounded me before I could hit four mana, and even if I did pop out a Verdant, they had their happy little forestwalking Vine Dryad to race (and win). And Quirion Rangers laugh at land destruction. Sligh was about 50/50, as they also can operate on very little land, and have the really annoying idea that killing turn one Elves and Birds is funny. Counter Sliver breezed right by me, Stasis was a friggin’ nightmare, and Tradewind had fun putting Verdant back in my hand and wishing me good luck the next time I tried to cast him. Pandeburst was Pandeburst, what can I say?

Depressing, kind of. I saw many weaknesses, the least of which is almost no early pressure. Yeah, blowing up lands is nice, but there needs to be some kind of early clock in case they can recover. And they usually did, which made my Elves and Birds angry, because they got sick of jumping in front of stuff.

[PT – Chicago Fantasy Team:


Mike Turian
Aaron Forsythe
Andrew Cuneo
Andrew Johnson
Mike Patnik
Erik Lauer (who didn’t show up, I guess)

Aaron Fermenti (because Ohio is close to Pennsylvania)
Per Toft (because that is the coolest name ever)

Alas, the home team doesn’t always win. But they should.]

FrigginRizzo: <—Now sucks at deckbuilding AND Fantasy Drafting.

About a month ago, Beho was looking for a deck to play this season, and I recommended my deck. I shipped it down to him and he played it long enough to fall in love with it, as, of course, he should have. We talked a little extra tech, which included adding Masticores and Elvish Lyrists, and discussed if Emerald Charm deserved a maindeck spot or two (I thought it did – which, of course, was erroneous).

So, Beho makes a few tweaks and heads to Akron, with me forgetting to suggest adding Wastelands, swapping the Birds for Wall of Roots, and dropping one Tomb for another Cradle. Alas. He finishes 3-4 which, while not exactly environment altering, seemed respectable considering that the deck was severely lacking on many fronts. Plus, Beho sucks at Magic. <insert AOL chatroom "Heh" right here>

[I’m not yet sure what to make of the newest entry into the online Magic community:


Check them out and form your own opinion.]

On the Tuesday after Akron, I played about fifty games against Aaron with a somewhat modified version of the deck. Trix still wins. Stasis still crushes. Even Sligh, who should really not like their end, was holding its own.

["Did you have gas?"
-Random BP cashier

Am I the only one that thinks this is hysterical?]

It was time to rethink a few things.

What does Sligh not like to see? Wall of Roots. Spike Feeder. What does Stasis not prefer to hit the board? Quirion Ranger. What makes Trix sweat a little? Elvish Lyrist. Stompy is always going to be a bitch, Pandeburst as well, but there should be no auto-losses with this:

(but there still were)

Teched-Out Mono Green Hatred

3x Wall of Roots
4x Fyndhorn Elves
4x Llanowar Elves
3x Hidden Gibbons
4x Elvish Lyrist
3x Creeping Mold
4x Natural Order
2x Blastoderm
2x Verdant Force
2x Masticore
2x Spike Feeder
2x Deranged Hermit
1x Multani, Maro-Sorcerer
15x Forest
2x Ancient Tomb
3x Gaea’s Cradle
4x Wasteland

4x Quirion Ranger
4x Emerald Charm
2x Gaea’s Blessing
2x Tangle
2x Primal Order
1x Sliver Queen

Upping the creature count to put some more early pressure on and adding a little beatstick lifegain made a ton of difference. And Wall of Roots was nothing less than bad as hell.

Not bad meaning "bad," but bad meaning "good."
-Run DMC, back when they weren’t just bitter old guys.

Did you notice that there are a few unconventional choices up there? Sure you did, and you probably laughed at them. But you shouldn’t.

Well, yeah, you should.

Hidden Gibbons:

Question: How many decks won’t wake this dude up?

Answer: Not too many, chief.

Wanna end-of-turn Consultation? Wanna counter something? Wanna Tutor? Impulse? Burn something? Four coming up on ya on turn two is interesting, ain’t it?


Question: How many decks can handle this guy?

Answer: Not too many, chief.

If you don’t want to take damage from this guy, you better be prepared to throw a lot of guys in his way, or cast that Wrath or big ol’ Quake. Quake?


Question: How many decks can win when he hits the table?

Answer: Not many, chief.

When Multani comes into play, bury target opponent. He is that damned good. A turn two Multani should be illegal, and probably is in a few states. That’s up to a dozen coming at you on turn three. Good luck with that.

[A man is walking in the woods. He’s walked the same path every day for twenty years. He comes across a cabin, which was not there yesterday; inside are three dead people.

1) How did they die?

2) Who are the people?

Answer the questions correctly and you’ll win ONE playable rare, as this is a pretty friggin’ easy one.]

Gaea’s Blessing? Why? Oathing with impudence is cool. Tangle? Are you kidding me? No, I am not kidding you. By the way, your dudes don’t untap next turn – I’ll take zero. Primal Order? Just how cheesy are you? Pretty cheesy. Sliver Queen? Are you an idiot? Oh, you have your Crystalline Sliver out already? I guess that makes my 7/7 untargetable. Oh yeah, you know that "make a bunch of dudes" ability? I promise I won’t abuse that. Much.

So, that was Mono Green Hatred, version 3.0. Of all the ways to win a game, smashing face is still the coolest. Ever. I will never tire of the expression "I serve with…waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too many."

[Is it just me, or was Josh Bennett and Anthony Alongi match coverage of Pro Tour – Chicago unbelievably cool as hell (and way better than the regular Sideboard guys)?] (By no friggin’ means – The Ferrett, impressed by both their coverage)

Self-test mode: On.

I played twenty games against each deck; ten pre-side and ten post-side. These are my results:

Stasis: Pre-side: 4-6 Post-side: 3-7
Stompy: Pre-side: 5-5 Post-side: 5-5
Tradewind Survival: Pre-side: 2-8 Post-side: 3-7
Counter Sliver: Pre-side: 4-6 Post-side: 3-7
Pandeburst: Pre-side: 4-6 Post-side: 4-6
Trix: Pre-side: 5-5 Post-side: 6-4
Sligh: Pre-side: 7-3 Post-side: 7-3

Not exactly encouraging, although I can’t be depressed either. Well, yes I can. I can be very depressed. The wind up is to basically flip a bunch of coins and hope for a little (read "a lot") help.

[Find out now if you are stupid:

How far can a dog run into the woods?

Getting it right verifies that you have a pulse. Getting it wrong, however, well, don’t get it wrong.]

The Up Time: Retesting The Gauntlet in the hands of real (damn good) players, trial two:

Tradewind Survival, piloted by Aaron Forsythe.

Can you say "0 and a bunch?" Yep, me too. I lost at least five games in a row, with all of the losses coming at the hands of the Opposition lockdown. I was able to do a ton of damage, getting him to one in three separate games, but recovery is Aaron’s middle name. How the hell do you hose this deck, other than making sure Survival doesn’t stay long, AND killing all their non-basics, AND… whatever.

Sligh, piloted by Aaron Forsythe and Scott Teamann.

Even though I hate getting my Elves burned, and Fireblasted silly, I take this one. Feeder tech is good. A 7/7 with friends is too. Multani and Blastoderm aren’t chopped liver, either. Fireslinger is bad news… Until he steps in front of a really big, fat, smelly green monster.

Trix, piloted by Eugene "Eubroken" Harvey and Aaron Forsythe.

This friggin’ deck can go off from anywhere. Eugene won way too many games where he Necro’d down to one and NEEDED to get the combo NOW, and he sure as hell did. But. The early disruption and Lyrists do help enough to make the Trixite worry about other things than just playing by him/her/Ru Paul self.

Aaron, on the other hand, plays this deck and friggin’ laughs. He laughs when I Waste something. He laughs when I have a Lyrist out. He laughs when I drop two Feeders. I guess he’s just a happy guy. Maybe the fact that he won 70% of our matches kept him in a jovial mood.

I don’t love this matchup, but I also kind of don’t hate it either.

Stompy, piloted by Eugene "Eubroken" Harvey.

Flip a friggin’ coin. When Eugene cast four spells before attacking on turn one, I was worried. But, fat stuff runs with the bulls, too. Flip two coins, actually, it’ll be so much more fun.

Stasis, piloted by Aaron Forsythe.

I hate everything. I lost four out of five games. This was before I added the Rangers in the side. Now, I only lose two and a half games out of five. Neato. Stasis is a card for the emotionally underdeveloped. So there.

Pandeburst, piloted by no one, why bother?

I probably lose. A lot.

Counter Sliver, piloted by no one, why bother?

Flip yourself a coin. Either they get the Crystalline/Winged beats or they don’t… But it will mostly depend on if said Net Decker knows how to play the friggin’ deck.

Lessons: learned. It was time for a new incarnation. Here:

Mono Green Hatred, version 4.0

The Core of v3.0:

3x Wall of Roots
4x Fyndhorn Elves
4x Llanowar Elves
4x Elvish Lyrist
3x Creeping Mold
4x Natural Order
2x Verdant Force
1x Multani, Maro-Sorcerer
2x Blastoderm
2x Spike Feeder
15x Forest
2x Ancient Tomb
3x Gaea’s Cradle
4x Wasteland

The changes*:
3x Masticore
3x Deranged Hermit
1x Spitting Spider

4x Quirion Ranger
4x Emerald Charm
1x Sliver Queen
1x Spike Weaver
1x Spike Feeder
4x something

*Significant (not really) changes:

A third Masticore to help with the sickening TS/Too many Birds in play problem. And that pesky Granger thing too. Shooting guys in a mono green deck=pretty friggin’ good.

A third Hermit to help with MO beats, MO faster and stuff. Or at least,
more total dudes.

One Spitting Spider to kill the friggin’ birds! He doesn’t otherwise suck, so I don’t feel I’ve lost that much, while gaining a fifteenth way to disrupt TS.

What for those four pesky sideboard slots? Adding four Taiga maindeck for a splashed Urza’s Rage occurred to me, but it occurred to be retarded. Hidden Gibbons are absolute first-turn machines against so many decks, but I am loathe to relegate them to the board; maindeck ’em or don’t play ’em is how I’m looking at it.

I want disruption. NOW!

Ashnod’s Cyclix? Jester’s Cap? Katatabic Winds? Ports? Hey…Ports! Maybe, just maybe, they could help. Who the hell knows? I sure don’t.
Pardon me while I realize that I’ve just spent three months working
on a deck that just might go 3-4 or worse.

4x Ticking Gnomes
1x Masticore
1x Sliver Queen
4x Emerald Charm
2x Spike Weaver
1x Spike Feeder
2x Oath of Druids


Here comes the "I’ve broken the deck down for three months, but I might throw caution to the wind and sell out with this other deck" part that seems to piss everyone off. Or, if you prefer, you can call it the backup plan.

Big, stinky pile o’ cheese and random booyas.tech:

4x The "fixed" Lightning Bolt that’s in Sixth Edition
4x Flame Rift (Well, after you write an article about the thing…)
4x Ma(ry Van Tyn)ge’s Contest
4x Urza’s Rage (EVERYONE uses Misdirection, right?)
4x The original Skizzik (I am such a sell out.)
4x Fireblast (Sellin’ out again…)
4x Incinerate (…big time…)
4x Mogg Fantastic (…and still…)
4x Thunderbolt (It’s three for two…whatever.)
4x Sonic Burst (Ho hum, four for two.)
16x Mountain
4x Wasteland

3x If he gets up, we’ll all get up … it’ll be Anarchy!
4x David Price is Progress
4x Porno for Pyroblast
4x What about you, you [bad word] Burnout!

Flame Rift, baby! Sonic Burst, baby! Thunderbolt, baby! Blue hate!

I rule.

[Identify all of these quotes (who said it and movie) and you win fifty playable rares:

1) "…I ain’t looking at the movie ’cause I already seen it seven years ago."

2) "It’s not the odds, it’s the wait."

3) "The next time you fellas strike it rich, holler at me first."

4) "Get them to sign on the line which is dotted."

5) "I’ve got this fella working for me – do you know what a hacker is?"

Good luck, chieftains, you’ll need it. Although, if multiple persons can identify them all, I’ll be one rare-hurtin mug.]

Three months of testing, reworks, and revamps will culminate in seven rounds of swiss on December 9th in Columbus. Will it turn out all rosy for your humble narrator? Or will it be just another "learning" experience?

If I suck something awful, I am considering giving myself an ultimatum:

Win a PTQ in one year or quit.

Motivation is its own strange bedfellow indeed. The Ferrett do-or-die "Pro Tour or bust" pledge spurned motivation all up in my guttiwuts; we’ll see what the Goddess of Fate upchucks all on me.

[One last rant:

Pro Tour – Chicago day two decktypes:

Rebels: 30 (35.3%)
Fires: 16 (18.9%)
U/W Control: 12 (14.1%)
U/B Control: 10 (11.7%)
Blue Skies: 7 (8.2%)
G/W Non-Rebel: 4 (4.7%)
Ankh-Tide: 1 (1.2%)
Void: 1 (1.2%)
Mono-Red: 1 (1.2%)
Rising Waters: 1 (1.2%)
U/B/R Control: 1 (1.2%)
Draw/Go: 1 (1.2%)

So, better than 68% of the ENTIRE day two gamut consisted of a total of THREE decktypes.

Metagame THIS, chief.]

Here’s puke in your eye,
John Friggin’ Rizzo

This article is the result of one week of total lameness. Someone please write or do something that pisses me off so I can write an article that has actual direction. And a reason.

And a point.