GP – Detroit: I Am Not Hip Hop, But I’ll Swing From These

He didn’t want to write this. But somehow, this time seemed worth it.

Anxious would be a fine word to attach to how I approached heading to Detroit for my first”premiere” event as a known Net entity of love and/or utter hatred. I’d only been waiting for about a friggin’ month now, and figured that anytime I look forward this much to an event, it usually disappoints. Well, the week leading up to the Grand Prix sure was annoying/interesting/plain ol’ weird…

Monday: I fired off an email to The Ferrett at 9:20 a.m., basically telling him that I have no article this week to send — thus, there is no article this week of mine to post. At 12:04 p.m., I sent an article to Mail us at https://sales.starcitygames.com/contactus/contactform.php?emailid=2. So, if you were wondering how long last week’s”Metagame This” article took to write, there’s the math for you.

Two-and-a-half hours to write, edit, and spellcheck does not an article make, and I really didn’t want to write anything at all anyway. Why, then? Well, here’s a funny thing: I felt obligated to. How retarded is that?

After all, I’m Mr. Issue-Boy-Who-Tells-Everyone-And-Their-Mother-To-Write.dec, so it would be kind of hypocritical of me to not write now, wouldn’t it? After thinking about it for a while, I decided to type something very average-to-crappy and send it on in. Because I’m SUPPOSED to write every week. Whoa! For the first time in my Magic Career/Life, I feel like I’m SUPPOSED to do something, which is as completely uncool as uncool can be.

Who suffered because of it? Me, for putting my name on something oh so very lame, and you as well, for reading something oh so very lame with my name on it.

I usually spend upwards of eight to ten hours per article, but the last few weeks have almost been a sort of”mailing it in” kind of effort on my part. Most people would say that I should take a break until the golden muse and whatnot returned. And they’d be right, but I didn’t realize it for a couple of days.

The other day I was looking through my archives trying to inspire myself, and I came to a conclusion: I have yet to write one completely great article. I have no article that, if I was interviewing for a writing position, I would take in as a sample of my daft and stellar writing skillz. Perhaps a paragraph here and a sentence there, but no complete article from start to finish. I wonder how many other Net writers feel that way? I bet a lot. And I also have no idea how many articles I’ve written. Lemme check…

Heck, only thirty-two Feature Articles. Jeez, doesn’t it seem like more than that? I suck at volume. Oh well, I’ll include the submissions too, the crappy Dojo articles, the Halloween Bodyswap thing, the Christmas Calendar thing, and that’ll get me to forty-five. Also, I’ll just cheat a little and add five more to the total for no reason whatsoever.

Congratulations to me and my FIFTIETH ARTICLE!!!!!!!

Tuesday: The Ferrett and Team Lotsa Letters is fond of saying that anyone can make it to The Tour and do well if they take the time and put in the effort, but I think I have to disagree with that train of thought and add mine to the mix:

You either have it or you don’t.

I contend that practice doesn’t make perfect, and not necessarily even”very good”; rather, excellence in Magic is something you either have or you don’t – it can’t be”learned” or ingrained through countless hours of study. I believe that it takes a certain kind of person to be able to reach the upper echelon (and stay there), and I can’t think that devoted practice and a dedication to breaking the game is enough; there is something else. Since I probably don’t have it, and don’t know where to buy/rent/borrow/steal it, I’ll be content with trying my ass off, learning all that I can, and giving it hell.

Now, we are all game nerds, but isn’t it likely that some of us have a

Super Duper Game Nerd Chromosome that others, try as they might, can never expect to outperform?

CMU Night o’ playtesting, draft, and breaking in Andy J’s Brand Spanking New Five was a welcome relief from the annoying myriad of questions I kept asking myself… Until Andy J housed me in a few games and got all of my Jeweled Birds and an Urza’s Rage for his efforts. Then I was relieved that the beating was over.

For utter enjoyment, Aaron and I played The JMS/Rizzo Conception To Beat Fires Into Oblivion.dec that I referred to last week. Aaron grabbed my Fires (it’s Sean McKeown build from Mindripper with a couple of Two-Headed’s thrown in for spite) and just gets drilled in the teeth three games straight. After I was done doing my little dance, making a little love, getting down tonight, Aaron the Relentless grabbed Counter-Rebels and said,”Deal with this, sucka duck!”

‘Twasn’t pretty at all. Long story short: The JMS/Rizzo Fires Be My Bitch.dec ain’t got enough gas in the tank against any other deck on the planet. Hi, drawing board, name’s John; nice to meet you.

Still, it was fun to watch Fires’ fattie after fattie after fattie just sit there and do nothing while JMS/Rizzo Teque rules the airwaves – if only for a brief shining moment.

When I got home, I checked the 67 messages I had received (Hi, I’m Mike Mason, and I send A LOT OF FRIGGIN’ EMAILS!) and got to work on tweaking the deck from”Fires Be My Ho” to”All Your Decks Are Belong To Us.” I can’t believe I just jumped on that bandwagon. Really, I can’t. No, you don’t understand, I really can’t believe I did that. Really.

Wednesday: Well,”Metagame This” goes up, and my first response of the day is from Aaron, basically wondering about the state of my mental health and whatnot. And he had a point. After reading a couple of”Good article, chief” responses and sending back a few”You lyin’ bastard!” replies, I realized that Aaron (and another coupla dudes who wondered about my state of being and nothingness in the last few weeks) was right: I need a break.

Actually, I needed a break about two months ago, but damn, I’m one stubborn ass.

So, I emailed The Ferrett and let a brother know that after GP — Detroit I’d be incommunicado, probably until Regionals. Hopefully by then, I’ll be all itching to get back into the thick of things. Think about these issues that I didn’t even get in on in the last few weeks:

1) Dan Bock’s All Land Deck. Wow, talk about a golden opportunity for a twenty-page article! And yet I felt no inspiration to go off on a tirade, either pro or con. Weirdness indeed.

2) Pojo Magic: Spike’s Tourney Report. Spike made mention of a match he lost to a scrubby dude that got him so pissed that he didn’t even shake said scrubby dude’s hand after the match. Jeez, I let that one get by me? Actually, I did write Spike some mail, but if I was up to snuff that would’ve been a twenty-pager as well.

3) Senhouse’s Psychology articles on Sideboard Online. Talk about right up my alley: A bunch of stuff that can’t be proven one way or the other (full-on opinions, mostly), and I can’t seem to get worked up to throw my two-cents hat into the ring.

4) Vasco’s”Thanks, chiefs” article on NG. Full-fledged searching, looking back and ahead, mixed with thanks all up in there to a bunch of community members (along with very nice words about your retarded narrator) would’ve made me orgasmic not too long ago. I didn’t even send Vasco a”thanks, chief” email, and I feel kind of like a dork about it too. So, thanks Vasco, damnit.

5) Oh my, The Star City Mailing List is brimming over with issues! Yet what would’ve been the fodder for at least three massive articles goes by with nary a reply from Ol’ Issue Boy. And a lot of posters noticed that I didn’t seem to get as riled as I used to; the absence of my venom did not go by unnoticed by many.

The fact that stuff that would’ve made me rise like no longer even made me raise a furrowed eyebrow should’ve been a warning to me, but it wasn’t. Perhaps it was to others — but, as usual, first to go, last to know. But I know now that it’s time for a break, and I don’t even feel guilty about it.

Where once I was Searching For Jamie Wakefield, I am now Searching for John Rizzo. And not John Friggin’ Rizzo either.

Well, that was a busy Wednesday, wasn’t it?

Thursday: I took a day off from work (which basically now consists of me waking up around eight, heading to”work,” and putting off a bunch of things that need to be done for a smooth exit from the realm of the self-employed, such as ) and prepped for GP – Detroit. How does one prepare for a sealed deck tourney anyway?

First, you must make sure the battery for your camera is fully charged. Second, figure out where the hell your Starcity T-Shirt is; it’s been like a month since you last saw it, so you better get that bad boy out of storage.

Nate Heiss and I are going to do a joint article one of these days, but

there are still a few things to be worked out, such as:

-Which site gets it?

-What the hell is it going to be about?

-What the hell is it going to be about?

-What the hell is it going to be about?

-Who the hell is going to post an article about marijuana anyway?

Regardless of the details, I have complete confidence that it will be Good Times For Becky (gotta give the girl good karma, just like The F suggested). Also, Aaron and I were going to write the world’s greatest Magic article, ever, but I think he gave up on that idea after I beat him with JMS Technology. Or maybe, since he actually knows me, realized that I am just not as cool as I pretend to be on The”Be all you can be, and then make some stuff up too” Net.

Still, I hold out hope as being the only guy on Earth to co-author an article with TWO CMU nerds/biatches.

Anne Forsythe WROTE a very good article. My wife READ one of my semi-decent articles. But Mrs. Rizzo could still kick Mrs. Forsythe’s ass any day of the week! And I think I could take Aaron, but only if he (or I) was bombed out of his skull on Vicodyn and Jack Daniels.

If that doesn’t sound like a hella Pay-Per-View, then I don’t know what does. I’d even consider getting cable to watch that one.

Oh, and Dr. Goldman (no, not Oscar) discovered that my blood pressure is still a bit on the high side and suggested that losing a few pounds wouldn’t hurt me. Quitting smoking wouldn’t be a bad idea either, and exercising sounds like it might be helpful as well. Maybe eating better would be a good move as well. It only took him seven years of schooling and a few hundred grand to figure that out?

Dear Med Students,



Med Schools

And for those old school readers – an update: I think the vasectomy took, but I never did get around to um, dropping off a, um, (clears throat and prepares to do”air quotes”)”specimen” at the lab. How’s that for faith in the medical community? Are you finished going”Ew!” and”Oh my GOD!” yet?

I’m still laughing my ass off at just how uncomfortable that paragraph made most of you. Especially if you’re a female.

Friday: The plan is to drive to Detroit and play in the GP Trial that starts at six p.m. That’s the plan: pick up T-bag, drive a bunch, rest very little, play in the trial, go to sleep, wake up and play in the Grand Prix on Saturday and, if I don’t make Day Two, drive my wack ass home alone after the Grand Prix. And your little dog as well.

For no reason at all, a snippet of dialogue from my so-awesome-that-directors-will-be-clawing-their-way-to-get-to-me (unless they um, hate it) play:

JOE: But, it is interesting. In a way.

BOB: In what way?

JOE: In a way.

BOB: In…what way?

JOE: You could say that it’s interesting in its own way.

BOB: Could I?

JOE: Could you what?

BOB: Could I say that it’s interesting in its own way?

JOE: Could you?

BOB: That’s what I’m asking you.

JOE: That’s what I’m telling you.

BOB: You’re telling me what?

JOE: I’m telling you, yes, I’m telling you.

BOB: Telling me what? That it’s interesting?

JOE: Yes, it is interesting.

BOB: In what way?

JOE: In it’s own way.

BOB: Which is what?

JOE: That’s right.

BOB: What’s right?

JOE: You. You are right.

BOB: Am I?

JOE: Yes, you are.

Imagine twenty-five pages of that. See, I’m not just annoying in the

World O’ Magic, I’m annoying in real life too.

I really tried (not really) to get into the Magic storyline and fantasy aspect of the game: I’m a wizard casting spells and summoning creatures and whatnot, but I just couldn’t. I guess I’m only half-nerd.

Why hasn’t anyone done the math on Gary Wise? Take the”W” in”Wise,” invert it so that it becomes an”M,” sort of, and, TADA!

I pick up T-bag around 11:30-ish and we drive. Well, I drive and Scott talks. Then he talks some more and I drive some more. This goes on for about a hundred miles, then abruptly ends when T-bag o’ donuts switches to the FM dial after Jim Rome fades into Amplitude oblivion.

For the next eighty miles or so, this goes on:

T-bag hits”seek” button and finds Aerosmith. Rizzo says NO!”

T-bag hits”seek” button and finds Pink Floyd. Rizzo says”NO!”

T-bag hits”seek” button and finds Metallica. Rizzo and T-bag embrace, while remembering just how good”One” really is.

T-bag hits”seek” and finds country music many times. Rizzo says”NO!” many times.

No matter how bad the radio got, T-bag utterly refused to push the Papa Roach CASSETTE into the CASSETTE player, probably just to spite me. Cassette? What century do I live in?

Friggin’ Teamann hit”seek” so many friggin’ times that I finally issued an ultimatum: Find something and stick with it or walk to Detroit. Since I was the once basically lambasting every station on the dial, I figured that added a touch of the macabre to an otherwise un-macabre drive.

But, just inside the Michigan border, he did find a very cool station, and you won’t believe this, but it’s located BELOW 92 on the dial. Ordinarily, 92 and below is relegated to utter dreck and as T-bag quickly learned:”if you stop below 92 the radio will explode.” ‘Course, every rule was made to be broken. Detroit broke that one.

Twenty miles outside of Detroit, and the last chance to um, well, pee, for a while passes when we figure there will be chances aplenty when we hit the off-ramp. Hi, ever hear of traffic? Ever hear of Friday afternoon traffic?

I began to weep and I think T-bag passed out for a moment or two, but we finally found the hotel, which means T-bag got out to check in and left me alone in the truck with an idiotically full bladder and a 44-ounce cup. There is math to be found and done in that sentence, and since most who will read this are guys, there is also a knowing glance to be collectively shared by all guys everywhere. Being a guy rules.

We get the room (conveniently located on the 35th floor, with the GP being run on the 3rd floor and the black version of the Freemasons having some kind of convention in the hotel this weekend, which means that the elevator is required to stop at every friggin’ floor on the way up and down to let one person on that instantly knows everyone on the elevator) and chill for a moment and head on down.

(Incidentally, my wife’s family is heavily into Freemasonry and had me hooked up to become a member a few years back. Being the pond scum that I am, I went and acquired a book on why Freemasonry sucks and stuff to prepare for my”interview.” Funny thing: when the THREE Freemason dudes came to our apartment for the”interview,” they asked my wife to leave the room because it’s a friggin’ secret and women aren’t allowed to know about it. So much so that the women have their own segment; Northern Star or something. Hey, blacks aren’t allowed to become Freemasons, either. When I asked the interviewers why that was, they could only offer up,”Well, they have their OWN segment of Freemasonry.”

(Hi, we’re the Freemasons: No blacks or women allowed, but we love God so friggin’ much, even if our credo is”racism and sexism with heart.”)

What the hell was that about? Jeez.

All righty. We sign up for the Trial and the Grand Prix and start gallivanting around. Dan Rowland, head pimp of CCGPrime, and Shawn Jackson, the most hated teddy bear on The Net, are esta en su casa, so we shoot some breezes for a few moments, then T-bag and I bust out my really bad Five.

That’s fun for about five minutes, so we head off onto the”Teamann Introduces Rizzo To People” World Tour. The only problem is that no one is really there yet. Although I did spy The Becky, but she had people around her so I was afraid and stuff.

Randy Buehler eventually shows up and tries to sneak by me, but I shout”Randy!” and he turns, whips out his gat (or his hand) and says,”Hey, nice to meet you. Wanna play some Five?” So much for introductions!

Randy beats me like the bitch that I am. In fact, the following pic represents what I lost when Randy cast Armageddon (Randy ante’d a friggin’ City of Brass):


Kurtis Hahn shows up and offers to play Randy, which puts me out of my misery of getting beaten about many body parts. Whew.

It sure was funny that the one Furious Assault I have in my deck kept showing up, which served only to embarrass me since I couldn’t draw any of my friggin’ ninety dudes, ever.

I also see Antonio Powell (forever known as”owner of Rizzo”) who is conspicuously without his henchmen. Going to Detroit without his entourage of trained killaz and extortionists (and contortionists) is hella ballsy for such a well known Underworld crime figure. But I think he was packing, or at the very least had twelve to fourteen pounds of dynamite strapped and/or duct taped to his person.

Part, The Trial:

Soon after, the Trial begins. I register something way in the back around people that I don’t know and who likely don’t know me, then figure on winning way too many matches with this cool deck:

Scorching Lava

Breath of Darigaaz

Soul Burn

Death Bomb





Sleeper’s Robe


Dromar’s Attendant

Tower Drake

Vodalian Serpent

Stormscape Apprentice

Shivan Zombie

Morgue Toad

Phyrexian Bloodstock

Urborg Emissary

Ravenous Rats

Caldera Kavu

Kavu Scout


Slingshot Goblin


I am aroused by my deck and begin to whisper sweet-nothings in it’s ear, anticipating a night of beatings and bloodshed. I was not disappointed. At all.


Round 1: Josh Bennett

Hi, I’m the DCI software, and I have a sense of humor.

I was eager to finally meet Josh, but being able to beat his non-Star-City-writing ass into the ground was going to be such a bonus!

For some reason I expect that Josh pretty much sucks at Magic. I’m not sure exactly why I have this idea, but I feel confident that even if he doesn’t, I’ll likely be able to Jedi his mind by using the utter impossibility of our match to my advantage. And, if necessary, I could also use words like”schunedfrenzdeare,” or whatever that word was that he once used in a Sideboard Feature Match Report; that word will be my savior in case things get out of hand.

I also intended to refer to chltonic bathroooms and William Shatner’s pornography habits if necessary.

“Hi’s” and”Sup’s?” are exchanged and all that jazz, but I soon eschew all the gettin-to-know-ya business when I see Josh is using white sleeves, which means that I already lost. I try to use the ace up my sleeve and drop the”schedhendshsdffrenzzed” word within seconds, but it can’t help; Josh is on a mission.

I also notice Alex Shvartsman at the table, eager to see me get my just desserts. Becky is there too, looking as cute as a button, and Dan Rowland as well, looking very non-button like but with laptop spread out and in”doing some coverage” mode. Not to mention Chris Senhouse, who seems to be there out of morbid curiosity instead of just waiting to see me get eaten alive. Handshakes and”Sup’s?” are thrown around with reckless abandon (and everyone there is nice to me, which is odd, since I’m certain that I’ve offended most of them at one time or another, maybe) and we’re off.

Here’s the Sideboard coverage that is way better than my memory:


I’ll just add that during the Reckless Spite fiasco, I actually called over the Head Judge because I was sort of unaware that Jeff was/is/always will be a Level 500,478 to the 9th power Judge. Boy, was my face red. Also, Josh had a black mana untapped when I sacced the Toad; I thought he was just a bad player when he didn’t return Mourning. Turns out that I suck at life and he couldn’t respond to the saccing of the Toad. Maybe he still sucks at Magic, but he was 7-0 at one point during the Trial. All right, Josh Bennett, formerly known as”OMC,” is a pretty good Magic player. (End”Mad Propz” section.)

But his deck! Oh friggin’ my! During game two, I looked through his graveyard (which contained about fifteen spells) and pulled out the cards that were just friggin’ good. Turns out that thirteen were indeed good, and the other two weren’t so shabby either. And many of those good spells

I didn’t even see in game one.

If I had to lose a round one Feature Match to anyone, the O to the M to the C is about as cool a guy to get killed by. So, I’m still feeling good about my deck after the beatings. And I’m also feeling fine that Alex, Becky, and Chris are actually nice human beings, not the Evil Net Denizens that they play on TV.

Life: 1

Rizzo: 0

(I guess I don’t look like a friggin’ helpless, blind, semi-retarded, borderline lunatic; then again, maybe I do.)

Round 2: John Kenny

Teamann informs me that he just mauled Kenny in round 1, which leads me to believe that the DCI software still has a sense of humor. Also, John crunched my ‘nads at the last Columbus PTQ in the first round of Top Eight, so a little revenge was in order.

Teamann mauls Kenny; Kenny mauls Rizzo. Film at eleven.

It wasn’t even close, and I quickly realized that my deck sucks.

So quickly that I dropped in favor of taking in the atmosphere

and whatnot. Um, that’s 0-2 lifetime vs. Kenny now. Help?

(Is that a deck in my pocket, or am I just deformed?)

Life: 2

Rizzo: 0

I watch a few of Teamann’s matches and wander around aimlessly (but still manage to look like I am here for a reason), when I bump into Joshua Claytor of a whole bunch of sites and Scrye fame. No, he doesn’t look anything at all like his Star City picture, and he certainly doesn’t look anything like he did when we met at a PTQ in Columbus a few months back. After I realize who the hell he is (and it did take a few seconds) good times ensue.

Eventually, Becky arrives to the Dirty Smoker’s Hallway, and another breeze begins to be shot (shotten?) Of course, being the photo-op bitch that I am, I whip out the camera for a moment that needs to be frozen in time.

(I could say that I’m so wide-eyed because Becky just grabbed my ass. In fact, I will say that then retract it in a future article because I don’t want to be sued, since it was me who grabbed my own ass.)

Every Pittsburgher and their mother shows up somewhere, sometime, someday, but I don’t know when, where, or why because I have no idea what time it is, ever. AForsythe, NForsythe, Turian, Johnson, Heiss, Chas Tressler (in tow with two brothers no less), Mike Patnik, Bryan Bandes, Mike Magby, and probably a few others that luckily avoided me showed up to represent. And a few of them represented America when they crossed Ambassador’s Bridge in search of legal gambling. Unfortunately for most of them, the casino won. What’s the odds of that?

Anyway (okay, even though I hate using that to start a paragraph, I have to admit it is so friggin’ easy to do), Draft 18 comes-a-callin’ and I pick up the phone.

I sit down with Chas, his little brother, Famous Amos Claiborne, Aaron Fermenti, and a bunch of guys who I don’t know.

Oh, Johnny, did you first-pick a Demise and have Chas pass you a Skizzik? Did Chas also pass you at least two Duskwalkers, Terminate, Plague Spores, Annihilate, Pouncing Kavu, and more Zaps than you could fit in your deck? Why yes he did, and thanks for asking.

Poor Chas was not liking his deck at all, but still chose to not screw me out if my lovely goodies. I repaid him in pack two, but Famous Amos was also passing me utter goodness, so that left me with this:


Ancient Kavu

2x Pouncing Kavu

Mire Kavu

Slimy Kavu

Kavu Scout

2x Duskwalker

2x Phyrexian Bloodstock

2x Morgue Toad

Lava Zombie

Agonizing Demise


Soul Burn


Magma Burst

2x Zap

Plague Spores



Yes, I liked that very much. Very much indeed. Thanks Chas, and don’t worry, it’s highly unlikely that we’ll have to play each oth-

Round 1: Chas Tressler

Games one and two: Chas gets beaten up. A lot. I killed his turn five Jade Leech in both games and finished him with a random Soul Burn that he also passed me, but I neglected to mention that because it was like one of the worst cards he passed during the entire draft.

This also represented my first victory, ever, against Chas. Hi, I’m 1-3 lifetime vs. Chas, and I’ll take it because he sure friggin’ gave it to me.

(Well, Chas DID say,”Riz, why don’t you hit me in the face with that chair?”)

Teamann can’t just let me be happy, so he grabs Chas’ deck and states that he will kill me to death. Fine. I’ll play two games, knowing full well that I’ll get manascrewed and T-bag will roll me. I only do this because it’s good for T-bag’s confidence. I’m so nice.

I get mana screwed and rolled. Can I go home now, T-bag?

Round 2: Aaron Fermenti

This is a very fair match. T-bag parks his ass next to me and just starts to trash Fermenti like no one has ever been trashed before. Especially after I mention to Aaron that, while we never officially met, I do know his name from the continuous flow of Top Eights and a few Pro Tour appearances that he has made.

T-bag nullifies that with an endless barrage of chatter that is actually scaring me. But it’s all done in fun, at least that’s what I’ll put in my report.

Games one and three: Aaron gets stuck on four lands and gets pummeled; even though he Undermined, Excluded, Repulsed, Rushing Rivered, and Recoiled me, it wasn’t enough.

Game two saw me Plague Spores Aaron’s Stormscape Familiar and only Island, which left him with three Swamps and me with fat, fat, and more fat on the board. It seemed so much like a foregone conclusion when I cast Plague Spores, T-bag just laughed and got up and walked away. But Aaron, ever the trooper, ended up pulling that one out. And I’m not sure how.

Still, it’s me in the finals, chief.

(Aaron’s”poor me” look is truly sad, and I have utter empathy in looking at his board.)

Round three: Famous Amos Claiborne

By this time, it’s around a million o’clock in the morning, and I am just a wee bit spent. Not that I was tired all friggin’ day, or even for the last two weeks or anything…

T-bag: Man, you look beat.

Chas: Man, you look tired.

Bandes: Man, you look tired.

Shawn Jackson: Man, you look tired.

Famous Amos: Man, you look tired.

Josh Bennett: Man, you look tired.

Aaron Forsythe: Man, you look beat.

Neil Forsythe: Man, you look beat.

Mike Turian: Man, you look tired.

Andrew Johnson: Man, you look beat.

Dan Ford: Man, you look tired.

Sgt. Powell: Man, you look tired.

Smokestack Leclairre: Man, you look beat.

Dan Rowland: Man, you look tired.

I was.

Game 1:

Amos gets rolled because I am good at Magic. And because I had every answer exactly when I needed it. And because Amos played really slow, which made me actually think.

Cool play: I’m stuck on four land with a Morgue Toad in play, and Amos has a Cloaked White Djinn in play. I sac the Toad and kill the Djinn with Plague Spores.

T-bag: I’m amazed that you actually saw that.

Me: So am I.

I guess it’s not THAT cool of a play, but it was late, I was tired, and that’s about all that I can remember from this game, so that’ll have to be enough.

Game 2:

This game took about a forty minutes, and I got stupider and more tired with each passing second, and there were many seconds passed because Amos was actually concentrating! The nerve of that bastard!

Amos was at eight and I had Skizzik, Lava Zombie, three Kavu, and Morgue Toad in play to his bunch of very average creatures. It looked very good for me, so I served into his not-very-impressive army with confidence. Amos thinks and thinks and thinks and thinks then declares blockers. He Aggressive Urges a dude to draw a card…um, Tangle.

Can you say”enough time to recover?” Thought so.

Amos rolls me with a friggin’ Angel of Mercy that gets played at least twice (um, Fleetfoot Panther), and eventually flies at my dome enough times to kill me.

Game three:

My mana is shaky and I don’t care. Amos gains at least a billion life with a Cloaked Troll, Angel, or Djinn, and ends my misery quickly.

He gets packs. I get less packs, but more importantly, I get to go to sleep!

(Amos is in full Boydell/Rizzo/Meddish mode, while I’m in about to friggin’ collapse mode.)

Up to the room, a hasty shower, and a drop on the floor is the plan.

Plans are wack.

About ten minutes after lights out, and both T-bag and I declaring our odd feeling of not being as tired as we thought, the door opens and The Forsythe Brothers barge in and wreak havoc on any and all sleep plans for the next half-hour.

Eventually, even those bad boys realize they’re human, and we all kiss each other goodnight and prepare to exit light, enter night, take my hand off to never-never land and stuff.

But Aaron starts to talk about an article he read on Star City today. Since my Net access was nonexistent all day, I listen fervently. And that leads to this and that and more of this and a little more of that, which leads to me talking, which leads to Neil talking, which leads to T-bag talking, which leads to Aaron’s idea of me starting to slip little catch-phrase attempts in my articles to see if they catch on.

His first idea:”Have a carrot.”

It’s so utterly ridiculous that we all laugh until our sides hurt. After we recover, I realize that Aaron may be onto something, and offer up a contextually sound usage of the phrase:

“Cloud you with kicker? Hey buddy, have a carrot.”

This of course leads into Aaron’s next idea:”Swing from these.”

Now, that is so utterly stupid that, just as our sides were healing and the tears were drying, we bust another gut and start to laugh like friggin’ idiots.

This of course leads into the”All you base” discussion, with all of us inserting”Someone set us up the bomb” type mentality to everyday aspects of Magic. And we were sort of serious too.

This of course leads to Neil telling Aaron that he’s been dubbed”The New Wakefield” which leads Aaron to say that”No, Rizzo is,” which leads me to saying”No, Aaron is,” which finally ends when Aaron tells me to have a carrot and swing from these.

This of course leads to a dissertation, led by me, on old-school rap, and why the new breed just ain’t cuttin’ the mustard, which leads to Neil getting nostalgic with the question of all questions:

“What was the name of Arnold’s fish on Diff’rent Strokes?”

It takes me about thirty seconds to register the name”Abraham,” and we’re off on a completely new tangent.”Grape Ape,””Facts of Life,” and other TV shows of yore are bantered around and about until one of us notices that it’s 7:30 in the morning.

Aaron and T-bag think that an hour of sleep would be tech, but Neil has other ideas: he takes a shower and begins to sing old Run-DMC songs; not RAP them, he SINGS them. Of course I can’t resist joining in a few verses of”Hard Times” and”30 Days,” but Aaron is dead-set on getting that friggin’ hour of sleep. So Neil and I go to the food court to rustle up a bite to eat.

We stand in line at Burger King (the only place open except for some Greek Egg Factory or something) for a good twenty minutes, but it’s cool ’cause the chick working the register is easy on eyes that haven’t seen sleep in a day and a half.

We eat, we drink, we be merry, then it’s time to check out the Magic Scene. Well, there isn’t much going on except for a few early risers (or maybe they’ve been there all night), so I head back up to the room and attempt to get fourteen minutes of sleep. I get about seven when Aaron wakes my dead ass up and says”Get up, you lazy ass.” Fair.

Coffee helps (not really) to revitalize me, and we head back down.

Part, The Grand Prix:

Okay, first things first: Pete, yes, the owner of Star City, is not the old, crotchety guy that I thought he was. He’s actually like in his late twenties-early thirties. So much for my ability to figure out how old people are by writing for their website. And I was THIS close to getting a scholarship, too!

I shoot breezes with Pete and notice that he has like a billion fat binders of cards, but when I ask if he has any black-bordered foreign cards he says that he doesn’t since he only brought a few little binders with him. Hi, name’s Pete, and the phrase”a few little binders” doesn’t mean to me what it does to any other human on the friggin’ planet.

641 players. For deck registration, 640 of them had a chair. After a ten-minute scavenger hunt, I finally locate one and plop my very weary ass down and try to stay awake.

A deck gets registered. I get up and wander around until it’s time for deck construction.

641 players. For deck construction, 640 of them had a chair.

I decide that I’m too tired to go on a holy crusade to find a friggin’ chair (again!), so I figure I’ll just stand. After about five minutes, I’m ready to pay half my life rounded up for anything that I could possibly sit on. A suitable sitting-on-thing is located, and I plop down to open goodies.

Too bad I didn’t get goodies. The following deck took 47 minutes to build, which is two minutes past the allotted construction time, but hey, rules are only rules if you have good cards, right?

Agonizing Demise

Exotic Curse

Death Bomb

Volcano Imp

Nightscape Apprentice

Thunderscape Apprentice

2x Caldera Kavu

Hooded Kavu

Thunderscape Familiar

Rogue Kavu

Thunderscape Battlemage



Smoldering Tar

Ardent Soldier

Benalish Lancer

Prison Barricade

2x Aurora Griffin

Razorfoot Griffin

Treva’s Attendant

Sparring Golem


I am so very nonhappy with this deck, nor was I with any of the other six builds I tried out. Wow, I suck at opening up good stuff. Actually, I’m like a 1513 at Opening Good Decks.

I find that Aaron has the weirdest five-color deck, Andy J has the weirdest four-color deck, and T-bag has one of the best three-color deck ever that isn’t U/B/R. And I have white cards in my deck. Me. Playing white. Goodbye 1754 Limited rating, hello a rating far below.

Round 1: Ryan Gargano, Feature Match

A while back, I recall reading a bunch of pleas to get more personality in Magic. Not that I think I was a Feature Match just because I’m a personality; on the contrary, there are times that I don’t suck at Magic and can actually appear to be at least an average player. Okay, I got the Big FW because I am good at Magic. Okay, I’m not. And anyone watching the match can concur, if they didn’t already know that.

Oh, and on the personality thing: Becky was also a Feature Match this round, but unlike me, she actually has an idea of how to play Magic. So, you get personality and a decent matchup all in one table.

Life is good for someone. Somewhere.

Game 1:

My mana comes out right, my removal shows up when I need it, and I actually played pretty well. Ryan’s mana was a little slow in developing, and when he did put up resistance I was rewarded with the answer that I needed with the quickness. Oh, and I got all of my flyers out, too.

Game 2:

Again, things look bright for the home team, and I cruise along like I know what I’m doing, getting Ryan to twelve. I have a pretty decent board, with double Aurora Griffin, kicked Lancer and Barricade, and Smoldering Tar out. Ryan has a few groundpounders and a Pyre Zombie in the graveyard, but no second Swamp to bring him back.

But he does cast Phyrexian Bloodstock, and all of a sudden my fatties have to sit there and look stupid or risk killing a Griffin. So I have to hit him for a few more turns with both flyers while taking Bloodstock damage religiously and pray that he doesn’t get that second Swamp in the meantime.

He gets that Swamp next turn and my life looks pretty bad. Now I’m really screwed since I won’t be able to kill him fast enough with the flyers and relying on the Tar isn’t exactly inspiring confidence.

I get him to six before my last flyer dies – Ryan became Mr. Swamp Peeler and quickly arrived at recur/cast/sac mana for the Zombie – but I’m down to ten from annoying Bloodstock beatings and a value-added Attendant that has also started to serve after Ryan blew up my Lancer.

Pyre Zombie is a pretty good card, I think.

Game 3:

It’s all about Pyre Zombie, but it might not have been if I wouldn’t have waited way too long to try to Demise with kicker Ryan’s Sulam Djinn.