Grand Prix: Columbus – Good Times, Bad Results

After an abysmal performance this past weekend, all I can do is try to focus on the fun. Although Columbus isn’t the most exotic place in the world, and there isn’t much to do there, it doesn’t mean I’m not gonna try my best to find out how to get plastered and get out there with the cowboy-hat-totin’ youth.

“What’s the best thing about doing twenty-eight year olds?”

After an abysmal performance this past weekend, all I can do is try to focus on the fun. Although Columbus isn’t the most exotic place in the world, and there isn’t much to do there, it doesn’t mean I’m not gonna try my best to find out how to get plastered and get out there with the cowboy-hat-totin’ youth.

I was reading an article recently (I’m pretty sure it was Flores’, but I’m way too lazy to start going back and skimming over all the stuff he’s written in the last month to find out for sure.) where the author says something about there coming a point where your”Magic friends” just become your friends. Well, I couldn’t possibly agree more. That’s actually what I love most about Magic. If I were playing the game for the money, I would definitely be shuffling the wrong deck. Poker is where the money is. Everyone knows that if you want to invest your time and try to profit, Magic is just not going to cut the mustard.

So why play? Well, there are a few reasons. First, if it weren’t for Magic, I definitely wouldn’t have met a 6’5″ tall, funny, black Ukrainian, or two short, guido brothers, and a big, quiet kid that looks like he might go postal at any moment. Now these are some of my best friends, and the people with whom I happened to share the never-ending car ride from NYC to Columbus. You know what? That would have been the worst ten hours of my life, if I weren’t laughing the whole time about everything from poop and boogers to movies and Magic. As competitive as I am, and as important as it is for me to win, what really makes the trips and tourneys worthwhile is the fun. The chance to win at a game I really enjoy playing, is mostly icing on the cake.

I really like the whole process involved with playing Magic. I have a good time on the random weeknights where I meet up with the guys to grab a bite and test a bit. The PTQs on the weekends can be a pain, but to me, that’s just another reason to get on the train. I would never really consider quitting unless there was some exterior reason that didn’t allow me the time to devote to the game. Even then, I would probably still play on Magic Online.

In case you were wondering and/or brain dead, the black Ukrainian is none other than StarCity’s own Osyp”Joe Black” Lebedowicz, the quiet kid is Jon Sonne, and the two Italian stallions are the Napoli brothers – Phil and Chris. It kind of sounds like a circus act when I say it that way, with a big intro and everything. I wonder what they can do to entertain a crowd… other than argue with each other that is. Brothers are always good at that.

This was definitely a good crew to travel and room with, since none of us ever shut up (except for Jon), and we all like to go out and get drunk more than we like to play Magic. That’s actually quite a rare quality among Magic players. The only other people there that were down for a good slooshing were Canadian superstar Josh”the Cartoon” Rider, and the Holy Kanoot himself, Ted Knutson. Usually Craig Kremps is all about going out, but this time he was all business, as you can tell from his second place finish. Congrats Craig. On that note, congrats to Mike, Kate and Larson too. Good job, NJ and CMU.

So where was I? Oh yeah, drinking and girls. I’m not really sad to say that I am much better at this than I am at Magic. Maybe I should start a column about that. Anyone who has any questions about girls, alcohol or dancing, feel free to email me and I’ll see if I can get help you out in a future article. I think a lot of gamers need tips on that stuff a lot more desperately than they need to know if they should play a forty-two-card deck if they drafted 2 Arc-Sloggers.

So Saturday night, the aforementioned gamers and myself headed out to find some fun. We ended up at a place called Frog, Bear and Wild Boar or something to that effect. I was a little nervous to go into a place named after a bunch of animals, but I saw a few hotties out on the balcony, so I decided to take my chances. I think if the place was called”You’re gonna die John” and there were some hotties there, I might think it was a pretty good idea. Man, let me tell you, some of those country chicks are hot. I couldn’t believe a few of the girls I saw in there. I like the”girl next door” look. I thought I knew what that was, but out here in NY, the girl next door is more like the girl next door to a movie star or something. And, most of the time, they have the attitudes to boot.

We’ll get back to that story in a minute though, since I know I have to write some stuff about Magic to get published around here.

This GP was probably my worst performance since… well, since ever, I guess. I opened a pretty weak deck, but I thought I could pull out some games with the Sword of Fire and Ice and my Spikeshot Goblin. The real problem with my deck wasn’t the utility. I had some artifact removal and some decent little guys. The problem was that there was nothing with a power of greater than three in the whole pool. I actually played Auriok Siege-Sled for a”big dude.” He’s not that bad, but he shouldn’t be your only attacking creature if you plan on winning.

I tried to stay optimistic, though. I shuffled up for round one only to realize on turn 4 that I have no answer to a Tel-Jilad Archers – not one. So I guess I’ll have to swing around them. Nope, that wasn’t going to happen… not once he played Tel-Jilad Chosen and Tel-Jilad Outrider. I had no Blinding Beam and no colored men big enough to get through. At his leisure, (about five turns after he should have actually killed me) he offed me with a Darksteel Gargoyle.


I was about to throw my deck in the trash, but decided to stick it out, since x-2 should make day 2 anyway. The 128-player cut off is pretty cool, but don’t you think they should up the payout? I mean seriously, that’s a lot of players to beat for a measly $2,400. I would take it gladly with a slot, but between the inflation of our currency and inflation of the tournament sizes, I think the right thing would be a little yeast in the dough too.

Obviously, I lost the next round as well, and tried to drop from the tournament at 1-2 but my good friend Gerard Fabiano, who has a brain a bit smaller than his heart, convinced me to stick it out with one of his infamous pep talks. I played another round and won, but decided to drop at 2-2 to save me the time, embarrassment, and ratings points. My deck was just that bad. I would rather go take a nap and play some Type Two in an attempt to get ready for Regionals.

So, that’s exactly what I did. I went back to my hotel room, wallowed in self-loathing for about thirty seconds, then took a shower, a quick nap, and went to pick up some beer before everything closed. In Columbus, that can be pretty early and I actually made it to a store owned by a nice Chinese woman just before she locked the doors. I picked up a few sixes and figured I would throw them in the fridge back at the room so they would be cold for later. As it turns out, they didn’t get very cold for some reason and I was stuck sucking down some warm beers. Note however, warm beer is still better than no beer.

I headed back to the tournament site to get a few 8-man Type Two tournaments in while waiting for the rest of the guys to get done. I decided to play Goblins, but I was short one Patriarch’s Bidding. I asked The Shark (Tony Tsai) to trade me one and he said”I don’t think I should trade you this, so you can’t play that horrible deck and lose.” Funny, I always thought it was a pretty good deck. I was pretty surprised to hear Tony saying he thought it was bad, but I figured I would give it a shot anyway. I gave him whatever he wanted for the card, since I knew he wouldn’t rip me off or anything and I was off to sign up for the queue.

I figured there was pretty much no way I could lose in these little tournaments. All you have to do is 3-0. Well, this obviously wasn’t my weekend, since I lost in the first round. I couldn’t believe it. Maybe Tony was right about this deck. I got absolutely smashed by a Mono-Black Aggro deck with Greater Harvester. I never thought that the Greater Harvester would be too good against Goblins. I mean, who wants to sac permanents and probably never get through? Of course, he got through with it by Smothering two of my guys and smashing me – forcing me to sac half my lands and pretty much end the game. Wow. That sucked. I decided at this point that all I should do is go start drinking. Since I didn’t make day 2, I knew I could stay out pretty much as late as I wanted.

The night started out with Josh Rider, Pnaps, Cnaps, and myself headed to some cowboy bar called Shenanigans or something. We all got ID checked at the bar, since we all look young for our age and, at that place, that average age is about sixty or seventy. I ordered us a few Bud Lights and we decided to drink them as fast as possible and get the hell out of there before they turned on the country music. Josh really had to choke that sucker down, since it’s”American beer” and it’s all”watery and gross,” Damn Canadians… who do they think they are, insulting our beer? I had to restrain myself from breaking the bottle over his head, but then decided he was right and let him off the hook.

We hotfooted on out of there, and then hit the Wild Boar. Josh split, since he was trying to rest up for day 2, but Osyp and Ted showed up shortly after. The place was really cool, and some of the girls in there were actually ridiculous. There was one girl there that I am almost sure every single guy in the place was staring at half the night. She was phenomenal. I told Ted I would hook him up, but he assured me that he was very happily married, so I just decided to look out for myself instead. I met a very nice schoolteacher by the name of Shananda or something to that effect. I hung out with her for the rest of the night, after everyone left me there. (Thanks guys) I didn’t get in until about four or five AM, which is surprising out there.

[Our leaving John behind was entirely Osyp’s fault. The bar was getting ready to close, and all the hotties were bailing, so the Napolis and I decided it was time to head back to the hotel. Osyp told us he informed John we were leaving, then said John wanted to stick around, so we all piled in a cab and went to our rooms. It wasn’t until the next day that I found out that John didn’t realize we’d left, and was”stuck” hanging out with this girl for the rest of the night. Poor guy… – Knut, still looking for the sarcasm font]

I was way too plastered to consider ptqing the next day and, considering the drive home, definitely needed to get a good amount of sleep. So, I just ran a side draft trying to pick up at least a few rating points that I had lost in the main event, so I won’t have to go into a GP with no byes ever again. It’s beyond the worst, and it’s even embarrassing. My rating had dipped right before the cutoff, so I was at a cool 1796 on the cutoff date before Christmas. What a stain I am. I should have been able to set myself up for two byes next time, but instead I’ll probably end up with one since I did poorly at the event.

I ended up drafting R/W, which in my opinion, is the best archetype right now. I had two Blinding Beams, a Skyhunter Patrol, two Spikeshot Goblins, and Talon of Pain. If you didn’t know already, allow me to inform you that Talon of Pain is a good card. I see this card sitting in people’s unplayed pile all the time. There are definitely decks in which it doesn’t belong, but for the most part, it’s pretty playable. Especially if you have a lot of pinging effects and/or evasion guys. Just don’t forget it gets a counter each time you deal damage, not for each point of damage dealt. Still, this card can break a game open sometimes and is definitely worth playing.

So let’s see… what did I learn here? Well I won’t play Goblins at Regionals, even though I still consider it to be one of the top decks, if not the top deck. I hate sealed deck. I love R/W in draft. Blinding Beam is insane. Turian is a master. And last but not least…

“There are twenty of them.”


John Fiorillo

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Let’s go Yankees! (they just crushed the Rays 12-1) [Oh dear, if these keeps up all summer, I may have to just stop running Fiorino articles. – Knut, Yankee hater]