I Have No Signed Toolbox, And I Must Scream: IBC At Origins

Toolbox. Toolbox. TOOLBOX! My God, he’s right. Anyway, the usual bacchanalia of photos, random comments, and Rizzo-patented plays.

I didn’t write an article last week, and I offer three reasons:

1) I suck at Magic and badly need to test for IBC, which is altogether different from testing badly.

2) I spent much of last week working with the director of my play. Yes, the same play that I wrote in anger and submitted to the Pittsburgh New Works Festival for the sake of representing. It’ll be performed sometime in August, but damn, that’s some time consuming stuff.

3) Andy J’s article on Mindripper got me all”thinky” and whatnot, which sucked up additional hours that could’ve been spent writing an article; if it weren’t for reasons one and two above. But I’ll be staying out of that issue-laden festival of love and assorted legal proceedings.

(4) The Ferrett, on the road, had to wait for his PC to arrive before he could edit and properly turn Rizzo’s picture-laden monstrosity into an actual StarCity-digestible format – The Ferrett, knowing that Rizzo’s tourney reports take the longest to edit out of anything he does, but they’re worth it)

Enough with the tear-stained appy-poly-loggies.

IBC with Apocalypse? Hey, we’re not ready!

What in the name of all that is holy am I going to play in Columbus? Talk about your”uncharted territory.” Technically, we have a rough-around-the-edges template from PT: Tokyo to work with – but technically, Apocalypse doesn’t care about what happened two months ago, and seems hell-bent on nullifying that entire tournament.

And it just might.

Oh, there’s a few decklists here and there floating around The Net, but I doubt if many of us have taken the time to write home to Momma about any of them. And since many Magic players currently live with Momma, writing home to said matriarch seems a little more difficult than just shouting”Yo, Moms, peep this” from the basement.

Bouncing Snakes, Rage You Wif Da’ Kicka, Smash Face With Lightning Angel, Look At My Sexy Toolbox, and I Bet I Can Cast More Lay Of The Lands Than You.decs have been kicked around more than Pamela Anderson during a Tommy Lee Bender. Still, we know nothing. Yet.

What the hell are you going to play?

IBC testing at CMU has been a little, um, Limited of late, since Team Rochester and Extended are all up in here as the formats du jour, but enough has occurred for one thing to be discovered (at least by me):


Everything looks good. Everything, and I’m even including G/W/Necra Sanctuary.dec, seems to have a prayer to bring it. In reality, I’m well aware that not everything can be as good as it seems, but we’re still working with clay here. Origins will tell the tale of a bunch of potters who would be giants.

When in doubt, bring the beats!


But what friggin’ color of beats? Green/Red seems stellar, but might we add a little white for Armadillo Cloak? Or maybe blue for Mystic Snake? Maybe black for Spiritmonger? And Pernicious Deed? While we’re at it, let’s throw in Blazing Specter. And since we’re thinking about white, why not throw in a few ways to get blue for Lightning Angel?

Okay, start all over.

Prophetic Bolt, Ghitu Fire, Fire/Ice, Urza’s Rage, and Suffocating Blast, teamed up with Da’ Facts or Da’ Fictions, Prohibit, and some bounce sounds like a spiffy little deck, doesn’t it? Hey, maybe Wild Research can fit too?


If we added black to the mix, we could use Yawgmoth’s Agenda! And Undermine! And Nightscape Familiar! Lord knows that paying 1U for Da’ Facts out of the graveyard is good times!


If we added white to said mix instead, we could play with Lightning Angel! And Absorb! And tweak the sideboard with a”The Solution”-type feel! And use both abilities on Wild Research!

Okay, start all over.

How about Undermine, Absorb, Dromar’s Charm, Prohibit, Dromar Himself, Yawgmoth’s Agenda, and Da’ Facts in the same deck? Damn, it’s Draw-Go all over again! Sort of.

And it might actually work this time!

Or maybe we’ll just go the Domain route. After all, the deck actually gained a very good counterspell in Evasive Action, right? And Wild Research is begging to be abused as well.


With all these three and four-color decks running around, might a maindeck Destructive Flow be called for? Rewards of Diversity? Oh my! Ice Cave! You can counter every spell in the block, short of Urza’s Rage and a few annoying green dudes! You can actually tutor for your bombs (with Research) and protect them (and Collective Restraint) with Sterling Grove! And Phelddagrif is still amazing!

But what about Mask of Intolerance? Ah, big deal. Or is it?

Next case.

Black/White Control? We all know what that deck can do, and we don’t care how much it costs to build the damn thing either! But the deck just feels, um, kinda slimy or something. Just like GoMar.

Movin’ on up…

What are the biggest problems that Red/Black face? Yes, enchantments and those damn Acolytes! Enter Pernicious Deed. Heck, you only have to splash a little green, which was basically already happening in Tokyo anyway, and while you’re at it, Spiritmonger might make nice fatties number nine, ten, and eleven. Kill the annoying things and beat with your unscathed fatties!


Screw Green! Add white for Vindicate! Kill anything! And while we’re at it, Gerrard’s Verdict is a godsend in the two slot. Can you say”Verdict, Bog Down, Blazing Specter, Scuta/Skizzik?” Perhaps your opponent will answer part of that question with”I’ll discard Dodecapod and, um, I guess another Dodecapod.” Hmm, maybe that’s something that we should be concerned with.

Sick of asking myself these questions ad infinitum, and with limited testing pointing me absolutely nowhere, I decided to go with a deck that a) performs decently against many decks, b) could house nerds with the quickness, and c) I was intimately familiar with. This be it:

4x Nightscape Familiar
4x Urza’s Rage
4x Ghitu Fire
4x Fire / Ice
4x Fact or Fiction
4x Undermine
4x Prohibit
3x Prophetic Bolt
2x Yawgmoth’s Agenda
2x Rushing River
10x Island
5x Mountain
4x Swamp
3x Salt Marsh
2x Shivan Reef
1x Terminal Moraine

I doubt that this decklist warrants much explanation, since everyone and their mother’s mother has one very similar at their disposal, but that’s never stopped me before.

Nightscape Familiar is absolutely essential. If you play this deck type without the three things this dude brings to the table, you just may be friggin’ nuts. What does he bring? Well, mana acceleration, one helluva virtually perpetual blocker for Blurred Mongoose, Spiritmonger, and Phyrexian Scuta, and finally, he does damage, albeit in cute little one point increments. He friggin’ rules.

– Four each of Urza’s Rage, Ghitu Fire, and Fire/Ice? That’s called putting all of your eggs in one red-source-of-damage basket, isn’t it? Kinda. What’s the problem with that in a Story Circle free environment? Okay, there’s Harsh Judgment… But c’mon, who even knows what that card does? The Solution-type decks might be a headache if it wasn’t for the fact that these bad boys dish out mucho damage real quick like, which could mean dude is dead before little nerdy dudes have time to fondle me.

– Four Prohibit? Are you insane? Yes I am insane… But what can’t this card counter? Hmm, um, things that cost five. Okay, that’s like Yawgmoth’s Agenda, Spiritmonger, and, okay, Prophetic Bolt. Big deal. I’ll give you that Global Ruin, Draco, Legacy Weapon, and Last Stand laugh at Prohibit, but again, if any of those resolve, I’ll likely be on my way to the losers’ bracket anyway. Heh, Last Stand. How often does Prohibit counter something that it has no legal right to? EOTFOFYL? No – you lose, courtesy of a tenth pick. A deck like this needs a few turns of being left alone to start smashing domes, and Prohibit can and will do that, especially when you win the die roll. Maybe I’m wrong, but when am I not?

– Only three Prophetic Bolt? I only own three, and I don’t care.

– Um, where’s Recoil? Call me paranoid, but Dodecapod exists. I prefer Rushing River anyway (and I think I’m the only one that does), and the added bonus of bouncing two dudes or a dude and something else tantalizes my wiry zones. So there.

Terminal Moraine? Why? Synergy with Prophetic Bolt could be used as an example, but I’d rather use this card over another tappy land or Lair because of the Thaw Effect. I think it’s worth one slot currently, whereas once I thought it deserved two. And I think I’m right. Even if I’m not, how can one slot destroy my mana base? Answer: It can’t.

Wild Research – where the hell is it, chief? I want it main, and had it there for quite a while, and it gave a good show, but I’d rather have the additional domers instead. Call me kooky. I’ve found that it’s the bombay in the mirror, but it doesn’t really shine as much as it should in a deck full of instants, probably because I have no clue how to use it properly. Probably?

Who knows? Zvi does. Biblically. So does Shawn Jackson, but he’s currently serving five to ten in a Gulag somewhere really, really cold. I told him she wasn’t eighteen.

I played around for a few minutes on Tuesday at the C to the MU, and was particularly unimpressed with the deck’s insane inability to handle early beats, but I was still reluctant to maindeck Breath of Darigaaz. However, I was prepared to drudge through a few rounds with my uninspiring, is-this-really-player-interaction.dec. In mock desperation, I chided Aaron Forsythe: What the hell do I play, dammit? Give me a friggin’ deck!

Enter the audible:

“Benafal.dec,” he replied.

“Well, I figure that R/G, U/B/R, B/W/x, along with Domain were the top dawgs, but shed some additional light as to why you would say that, chief.”

“Nine rounds of ‘Undermine your Prophetic Bolt’ doesn’t sound like fun,” spits A to the F.

“I guess that it does not, slick,” agrees I.

Since I expect many players to be packing all the cutesy control cards, do I really want to play nine rounds of”Race you to Rage mana?’ Not particularly. And,”When in doubt bring the beats!” does seem like sound advice that I should heed.

As an added bonus, R/G has those neato cards that can’t be countered, such as Blurred Mongoose, Kavu Chameleon, Urza’s Rage, and the granddaddy caddy of them all – Obliterate.

Control those, chief. Oh wait, you kinda can’t. Pity.

If only I could build a deck that contained weenies, fatties, burn, and the ability to not sweat the counters, then I guess I’d be happy.

The result:
4x Blurred Mongoose
4x Kavu Titan
4x Thornscape Familiar
3x Raging Kavu
4x Skizzik
4x Kavu Chameleon
4x Thornscape Battlemage
4x Urza’s Rage
4x Ghitu Fire
1x Obliterate
8x Mountain
7x Forest
4x Shivan Oasis
4x Llanowar Wastes
1x Keldon Necropolis

Da side:
4x Tranquility
4x Dodecapod
4x Terminate
2x Obliterate
1x Agonizing Demise

It may not be the best build, but the matches won’t be lasting anywhere near
fifty minutes for me.

And that’ll give me time to check out all the neat new games at the rest of Origins! Okay, it really won’t, since Origins is actually nothing more than a very expensive (sixteen beans to get in the friggin’ place and another twenty-four for the PTQ? Do I at least get a reacharound?) and crowded PTQ.

Oooh! Check out the new Mage Knight figures!


Oooh! Check out the new D&D exhibit!


Oooh! Check out the –

Dude, you check it out, ’cause I’m only half-nerd, whereas you, in your James T. Kirk outfit, are a nerd of the full-fledged variety.

Oooh! Check out the Lesbians in Latex Make-out Challenge!

No. Okay, maybe just for a minute. And let me get my camera.

Hey, here’s an idea: let’s have a Friday PTQ that starts at 10 a.m., so it throws many monkeys in Rizzo’s wrench, which completely throws his toolbox out of alignment. I intend to use the word”toolbox” often, ’cause the overt homosexual reference is just so damned fun. Oh, and the Saturday PTQ? It starts at 4 p.m. Johnny’s toolbox is getting bent.

Bad Times for Toolbox.

That is fun to say, and a hella blast to type. Watch:

Bad Times for Toolbox.

Have a carrot? No… Have a Toolbox.

Swing from these? No… Swing from my Toolbox.

Now, if we can only incorporate Johnny Mintbox, it’d all be good.

I’m going solo on this venture, since the rest of CMU aren’t exactly liking the idea of taking off a day of work to play in a shoot-em-up, coin flip of a format. Those crazy kids. Perhaps they are just using me as a sacrificial-play-on-Friday-and-get-killed-so-we-can-have-a-better-idea-of-what-to-play-on-Saturday virgin lamb. That would be cool, since I’ve never been a sacrificial lamb (having had sex twice – and I have proof!), but alas, their motives are as pure as Ivory Snow.

Get in truck. Drive a while. Pick up eighteen year-old slutty yet demure hitchhiker. Detour to sleazy hotel for hours of vertical (and horizontal as well) relaxation. Hey, it could’ve happened.

But not to Johnny Toolbox. Or any of you either. Penthouse Forum lies!

I managed to bump into Joshua Claytor, Ray Cooley, and Laura Karem, they of Kentucky Magic fame, and discuss Latin-American politics at great length. It must’ve taxed their little beanies, for all dropped before or by round three. Yes, I fully intend to give each and every one of them an atomic wedgie at the next event. I would’ve taken the time to administer said atomic thing, but I figured that there were enough people at Origins that had already received said wedgies from hell (courtesy of insecure jocks at insecure high schools in insecure locker rooms) that three more would likely mess with the feng shui of the grown men dressed as elves and grown women who painted themselves blue and asked to be referred to as”Queen Wassap of the Wassapwifyou Clan.”

Elliot C. Fertik, Demonic Attorney at Large, he of raising Satan during pretrial motions fame, stopped by and warned me that he was planning on calling on Beelzebub at midnight, and if I wished to pledge allegiance to said Uber-demon, that I should gather and shave the goats by eleven, eleven fifteen or so. That was weird.

The Right Reverend Toby Wachter was rumored to be esta en su casa, but since I was wearing my”I Play Magic Because It’s Satanic!” T-shirt, he managed to avoid me, for mine would be a tough soul to cleanse.

After about twenty minutes of IBC discussion with Famous Amos Claiborne, I think I was finally able to convince him that Wild Research is good. And he was finally able to convince me that my playing R/G was not the best idea I’ve ever had.

132 peeps, eight rounds of lovin’; oops, my sleeves are really old and crusty. I best head on over to the big ol’ dealer paradise and wrangle me up a box. Wrangle? Blame the Kentucky Magic Coalition, spearheaded by Claytor. I can’t remember hearing the word”y’all” so many times in one day. Although, Josh did get jiggy – he used the word”solid” as a replacement to”that sounds wonderful, ma’am.”

Six bucks gets me a box of sleeves that turn out to be clear. Thanks for mentioning on the outside of the box that they were clear. Clear sleeves – and me using Alpha lands – add a touch of the macabre to topdecking.

Dear PES,

I savagely cheated my ass off!

Johnny Rounded Corners On All His Lands

By the way, I only realized the situation after round one. As a precaution, I went and bought another box of sleeves (making sure that I could no longer savagely cheat my ass off), but figured I’d better get some use out of my clear savagely-cheat-everyone’s-ass-off-sleeves.

Origins, in case you are unaware, is nerd heaven. In wandering aimlessly, I bumped into many nerds aplomb in full Star Trek, Star Wars, Troll-like, Ancient Knight, and Warlock regalia. While I was walking through the dealer room, there were two thoughts I couldn’t shake from my tremendously oversized head:

1) You people are the biggest goddamned nerds I have ever seen.

2) Strangely, I feel very comfortable here.

Now, I’m hardly the kind of guy that would actually play D&D, Warhammer, or any of the other”fantasy” games of their ilk, and I certainly wouldn’t walk around chanting olden incantations or figuring out how to fortify my army now that Lord Zur has overtaken the High Plains of Malta… But oddly enough, I felt like staying for a while. And I hate all those friggin’ games, but I was almost tempted to check some of them out. Whew! That was close.

The first round: Jack Pozenel, R/U

The first game: The first land Jack lays is Ancient Spring. Naturally, I have absolutely no clue as to what the hell this guy has in store for me. Meanwhile, I begin to assault his person with a pair of familiars, who are quickly joined by a Raging Kavu. Jack is having serious mana problems here, chief, but he finally manages to drop Coastal Drake, which is technology proper vs. my deck full of Kavu. Fortunately, the Drake trades with the Raging One, which was indeed fortunate until someone thought they were funny and stated throwing around Jilts like they were going out of style.”Jilt with the kicker” is neat the first time you hear it, but after the third time it wears a bit thin. However, a few timely Rages and Fires are enough to convince Jack that game two might yield sweeter fruits.

The second game: My deck is fast. Jack’s deck is controllish, sort of. He chooses to let me go first. It was very, very, very, very ugly. Mongoose, teamed up with Raging Kavu, took fifteen points of Jack’s life from him when he was busy figuring out how mana starved he really was, and Rage finished him off. He did manage to cast one Facts or da’ Fictions, which revealed Flametongue Kavu, Prophetic Bolt, Jilt, Da’Facts or da’ Fictions, and another Bolt.

Good thing I radiate mana screw.

(Jack wore his Origins badge facing forward to avoid messy situations with the room bouncers, while I found it humorous to wear it face down to make them say”can I see your badge?” I believe that the idea was to then reply with”I don’t need no stinkin’ badges!” but it seems that I forgot to do that all friggin’ day. Good thing too, since in retrospect, that seems amazingly unfunny and borderline stupid.)

Room Bouncer: Can I see your badge?

Johnny Badge Pimp: I don’t need no stinkin’ badges!

Room Bouncer: I have never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever heard that one before.

1-0, but only ’cause I savagely cheated my ass off.

I finally bumped into Dante Rowland and Shawn Jackson, both of some other website fame, while I was attempting to justify to myself playing a deck that realistically had very little chance to bring out da’ funk, let alone da’ noise, and Dante gave me a Press Pass, which for some odd reason, made me feel like a guy who had a Press Pass. Little did I know, but that Press Pass was nothing more than a cleverly concealed harbinger of doom.

The second round: Mike Stewart, Control White/Black, dollop of Red

The first game: I double mulligan (going first), so Mike figures that using Vindicate as land destruction might be a good idea, However, since all my guys are little nerds, I was able to beat him to seven before he found enough Spectral Lynxes to ruin me. Heh, protection from green. And it regenerates. Neato.

The second game: I mulligan again, just for kicks mind you, and Mike finds Vindicate, also for kicks, mind you…

“I guess I better make the best play I can.”
-Mike, after blowing up my solitary land. He really did seem to feel bad about
it, but not as bad as I did.

I managed to do two damage to him by subconsciously willing him to tap painlands to wreck me. When I finally scooped, the board looked a little something like this:

Me: A land, maybe.
Mike: Two Blazing Specters, two Spectral Lynxes, more land than some famous
land baron.

I was in awe of actually being able to visually measure my level of suckiness by staring at the board. I had watched Mike dispatch Claytor in the previous round, and he saw me watching, so naturally, he felt that I had an advantage going in – I saw his friggin’ deck after all.

Mike:”I was kinda nervous, since you knew my deck.”
Me:”Actually, when I was watching your match, I was kinda thinking that I’d
hate to be the poor bastard that has to play against that next round!”

FrigginRizzo: ß- The poor bastard.

In all fairness (like I’m ever not fair), Mike acted the proper role of someone who just finished beating upon a helpless, three-legged, blind, deaf, and dumb dog. I wished him well, but he had to run to the bathroom to cleanse that”I just participated in a slaughter” smell from his person.

(Holding up a Spectral Lynx against a guy with a ton of one-toughness green dudes is funny. And I think I’m running out of new gang signs to throw, since I know I’ve used that one numerous times. Hey, you think it’s easy coming up with new and exciting gang signs?)

0-1 with Press Pass

Finally, I was able to locate Walter Huber, he of”I read Rizzo’s ‘never ID’ article and actually played it out for Top Eight only to end up losing, thus relegating Rizzo to a life of insufferable guilt” fame, and fully expected my fortunes to turn. For Walter is nothing if not a good luck charm, even if he made me swear allegiance to Goddess Nirvana of The Muddy Whiskah Banks. However, even Walter’s luckiness would be no match for Thine Press Pass of Death.

I got Joshua Claytor to admit that he misses Deranged Dad as much as I do. However, I bet he’d deny it, although I won’t.


The third round: Steven Seiter, Domain

The first game: Steve gets the turn four Restraint, quickly followed by Pheldagriff, quickly followed by me remembering that I had Tranquility in the sideboard.

The second game: Steve gets the turn four Restraint, but I get the turn five Tranquility with Tranquility backup. I rule.

The third game: A Mongoose and Familiar attack with no resistance, until a Restraint rears its friggin’ annoying blue-mage head, which slows down the onslaught to two a turn. After a few turns of”Ha, ha, I have blue cards in my deck,” I drop a Chameleon and start tapping out to beat him in his melon. All the way to one goes Steve’s life, mostly, of course, because I rule.

However, he looks so goddamned nonplussed, even though he is surely about to die. A second Restraint tells me I’ll have to take it to the dome, but I do have Rage and Fire in hand, so his dome is starting to look very sexy. I Fire him, and look who has a counterspell in hand! I Rage him; Reviving Vapors turns up a third Restraint. With my hand depleted, Steve drops Pheldagriff and Necra Sanctuary. He tries to dome me for three during his upkeep, but I could’ve sworn on a stack of things that can be stacked that one permanent that is both white and green isn’t enough to trigger the Sanctuary’s three damage. I call over the head judge (and this is after about five people have agreed with my interpretation), but he disagrees. And I still don’t friggin’ know, but I thought I read in Sheldon’s column that you needed two separate permanents. In fact, imma go check that out.


Okay, I couldn’t find it, so maybe I was wrong. (You were – The Ferrett)

(Steven looks bored and lackadaisical, and refused to show any gang allegiance, because he is an actuary in real life. Note to self: one of these days, look up”actuary” on Google to see what the hell it is.)

0-2 with Press Pass

Scott Kasliner, he of Neutral Ground fame, really knows a lot about Type 1 for a guy who doesn’t really know anything about Type 1. In the ten or so minutes we chewed fat and assorted gristle, I think I doubled my knowledge of the format that time forgot. Now I know, like, two whole things about Type 1: a) the Power Nine cards are like, pretty good, and b) the Restricted List is not a deck at all, but a list of restricted cards! We discussed other stuff too, but Scott, in keeping in theme for Origins, made me swear eternal allegiance to the Fifth Lord of Falkirk, Lord of Rings and Stuff, that I would not divulge said secrets under penalty of having really bad campaigns for like, ever. That was weird.

Outside, where the dirty smokers congregate in furtherance of collective suicide, I began chatting with Jack Pozenel, he of vanquished round one opponent fame. He mentioned that this is his first PTQ, he’s only been playing since October, he owns his own business, has the wife and kids, and is seriously hooked on Magic. Um, where have I heard that before? Unlike me, Jack still sniffs the”new car smell” of Magic. I could see it in the way he talked of putting the kids to bed and smashing his wife’s face with 8/8 green men. I remember those days (sans beating upon the li’l woman), and it was very refreshing to hang with someone who was still living with the newness.

The fourth round: David Harris, W/B/G

The first game: Hi, I was outside chatting it up with Jack, and for such impudence, I was fortunate enough to garner a game loss. However, I remembered David (and vice-versa) from a Limited PTQ a while back, where we had an epic battle. I emerged victorious and went on to the Top Eight, and I think we both were ready to settle down into a nice, peaceful, cozy little war. Man, playing guys who’ve already heard the”is it okay to grab a pic of you and me?” speech makes pulling out the camera so much easier. And that’s what life is about: How easy it is to pull out the camera. (Or your toolbox – The Ferrett)

The second game: Classic nail biter. We trade serves (me with Mongoose, him with Lynx) for six turns, then David decides he’d like to use good cards, like Vindicate, Verdict, and Pernicious Deed. While he Deeded away my dudes at least twice (and regenerated his very-fair-against-me Lynx), I managed to draw just enough head splitters to well, spilt his head open. While I was mana flooded, David was semi screwed, thus had to play super careful; I did have a one-turn window to kill his annoying Lynx for good, but as usual, I felt bad for the little kitty and let it live. PETA Man of The Year? Sho ’nuff.

The third game: While David thinks it grand to drop a turn three Arena, I prefer to cast nothing for a few turns. While David thinks it grand to drop two Phyrexian Ragers, I prefer to cast little dorks that only serve to force him to block. Since he’s now up about ten cards on me (and had sided out Verdict for Addle in anticipation of my bringing in Dodecapod – good move, by the way – Dodecapod is ass except in multiples, maindecked, on turn two, and in game one), he slowly starts to work his magic. Everything that sucks gets to live; everything that doesn’t meets a Vindicate or Death Grasp. After burning him to seven and barely managing to a) keep a hand, b) keep a good dude alive, and c) not vomit upon seeing how many good cards he has in his deck, he drops Spiritmonger. After dude gets very ripe on the corpses of my pathetic army, he drops a second one – as a deterrent, I presume. How many ways can I kill thee fattie monger? Um, two, since dude Addled one Terminate and I pitched another to Verdict. And there’s only another thirty some-odd cards left in my deck.

Well, I had him down to seven at least.

(David broke all rules of Friggin’ Rizzo Post Tourney Pics by sneaking in a second person – a person who hadn’t signed the consent forms – but I’ll let this one slide. Everyone else: be warned. I’m not sure why I look so pissed, since I’m usually a bundle of pure joy and love.)

0-3 with Press Pass

David also sports the wife and two kids; again, common ground was struck. What’s with all these Magic players having kids? Well, Magic has long been known to be an insane aphrodisiac, so I guess it’s to be expected.

Jason Sizemore, he of 7Towers and rant (as defined by Alex Shvartsman) fame, is just a lovable teddy-bear-like fellow. And he’s not eighteen, like I thought (and you did too, dammit). Before we parted, Jason took a sample of my blood, mixed it with eye of newt, spiked my Diet Pepsi (hey, only $2.06 for a 16 oz’er at the hotel café!), and forced me to swear allegiance to Dodecapod, Lord of Leaves. Rant on, my brother! That was weird.

As I meander up to the round five pairings, I notice that I’m not there. Um? Upon meandering up to the judge’s table (I did much meandering, it’s quite stylish) and inquiring as to why someone took the liberty of forcibly ejecting me form the tourney a la Dan Gray at Regionals, the match slip was pulled. Apparently, one of the junior judges had written”no show, game loss” on the front, which was taken to indicate that Johnny and his Toolbox had gone home to roost. Never mind that the match slip was properly filled out, with David’s signatures and mine; let’s drop his lame 1-3 ass.

Since I am such a wonderful humanitarian, and did not wish to delay the start of round five (which was seconds away from starting), I inquired as to what my remedies might be in lieu of annoying everyone with a round repairing. After some consideration, the head judge asked me what my record was. I could see the utter shock on his face when he realized that someone was still playing with such a pathetic record.

(holding back laughter)”You can have a bye. How’s that?”

Back to the dealer room I went, in search of a fourth Prophetic Bolt, Death Grasp, and Vindicate. I find the Star City booth, chew some of my own fat with Pete, and then begin to nosh on his, when I notice that there are no Apocalypse cards in plain view. While he has none on display,”there are some in the box of stuff that we picked up today,” he offers.”The box of stuff that we picked up today” has more cards in it than many players own. How glad am I that I am not trying to make a living from buying and selling cards? Kinda glad. Twenty beans later and my bag three cards fatter, I head back to the pit.

The fifth round:

Dear everyone who didn’t have to wait an extra fifteen minutes or bother packing up all your crap and schlepping it to a brand new locale,

Blame me.


1-3 with Press Pass, but there’s an asterisk, chief;

While awaiting the conclusion of round five, I walked by table one. I stopped dead in my tracks when I spied an Urborg Elf enchanted with Quicksilver Dagger. Along with said pinger, a Quirion Elves and two Dodecapod were also in play.” Is this a tournament match?” thought I, and likely the other ten or so guys gathered round watching. Ah, yes, but it was the PTQ.

John Shuler (not sure if that’s THE John Shuler) was sporting a deck with the above components – and winning at an alarming rate. Bouncing Snakes, Jungle Barrier, and the usual assortment of counters complimented his interesting choices. Weird. Rogue. Cool. John stayed at table one for the rest of the tourney. Boo friggin’ ya.

The sixth round: David Ronis, R/G

The first game: Mize. Tight. Sweet. But not for me. David went first, and his deck did what it was supposed to do: drop dudes and beat, while only stopping to remove pesky blockers. And it did it in record time. Fire/Ice anyone? While I figured that card could be the bomb in the mirror, David actually put some in his deck.

The second game: I get to go first, so naturally I fully expect to win. However, David has other plans. Most of the plans were of the garden variety, save for Shivan Wurm. While I figured that card could be the bomb in the mirror, David actually put one in his deck. I drew and cast four kicked Battlemages on consecutive turns, pecking off his team, but each turn David was able to replace them like he had just Necro’d for twenty and kept a hand of seven dudes. I had one chance to kill the Wurm, but David had Necropolis advantage (having dropped it on turn ONE!), and poked a Battlemage before I could chump with it and a Mongoose, then finish it off with a Rage. Damn, I didn’t think he’d see that! Damn, can I get another bye next round?

(While David is a statistician (and has a Ph.D.) of some sorts, he can get down wif da’ gang signs like no other crammed-in-an-office-with-cheap-flourescent-lighting-and-stare-at-a-computer-screen-all-day stat guy can. Dr. Stats, however, is not a fan of Goblin Game, which is quite odd since nearly everyone else on the planet is.)

1-4 with Press Pass

The seventh round: Nick Eisel, U/B/R

Nick plays at CMU, and always has a bag full o’ cool decks. I was intimately familiar with this one, having taken more than a few lumps at its hands. However, I avoided playing with the same deck type precisely because of this particular matchup. If ever there was a matchup that I was absolutely certain I was going to win, this was it.

The first game: Nick sits on only one blue source of mana for way too many turns, while I drop Mongoose and Kavu Chameleon. They, combined with two Urza’s Rages, end his struggle for double blue (actually, any mana would’ve been helpful for him). He has no Nightscape Familiars in his deck. And I bet he’s pissed.

He does try to Malice a Chameleon while I have untapped green mana (and is concerned that I will mention it in my report), but we were both watching Jeremy”Spoke in class today” Darling, another CMU feller, who was playing his U/B/R deck in a match that had Top Eight implications, which is likely the reason for Nick’s lapse in judgment. Heh – I almost picked up the Chameleon to bury it.

Dear Fellows,

When am I gonna get paid?


The second game: While I was sure he’d be bringing in Breath of Darigaaz, I doubted that would be enough. I drop a turn two Mongoose, and don’t play another spell for seven turns.”Land, serve, go” just seems wrong in a R/G deck. Who’s the beatdown again? Nick got wise to my strategy after I discarded for the fourth consecutive turn, rather than let him Exclude or Undermine anything.

Control:”Who’s playing the control deck now?”

Beatdown:”You’d better find a Breath fast.”

When he finally starts to get worried, he casts Da’ Facts main phase, revealing Bolt, Undermine, Bolt, Land, and (drumroll) Breath of Darigaaz. If ever there was an easier pile to split than this, I’ve yet to see it. He takes the Breath and casts it, while I untap and cast another Mongoose. A Lobotomy next turn reveals two Ghitu Fire, two Urza’s Rage, Kavu Chameleon, another Mongoose, and Obliterate.

The Times, it seems, were unkind to Nicholas. And where the hell is Becky?

**********INSERT ‘7 NICK” HERE***********

(Nick doesn’t need to throw signs – he’s livin’ the life, yo. Ah, slappin’ bitches and slingin’ cane…those were the days.)

2-4 with Press Pass

The eighth round: Robby Scales, Domain

The first game, I am Sligh: Familiar, Raging Kavu, Skizzik. Robby is facing a record-time death, but a Reviving Vapors turns up a Restraint (with the Domain in full effect). Since I only have four lands, I begin to play the worst game of Draw-Go ever, while Chief gets time to do what Domain does: Drop multiple Restraints, Fattiegraf, and cast Global Ruin. I manage to eke out a few points of damage with Rage and Battlemages, but when I have him at one and show him another Rage, he quite expectedly Vapors for just enough to live; and just enough time to make Fattiegraf fly for more than a friggin’ hippo is entitled to.

The second game: Having sided in Tranquility, which has to be better than Thunderscape Battlemage, I feel semi-confident that I can bring it like nothing that has ever been brought before. I open my hand to reveal two Tranquility, double Skizzik, and a nice assortment of lands. This is not a hand that seems keep-worthy against Domain. But I did. Because I suck.

Robby taps out on turn four to play Fattiegraf, giving a brother no respect at all. I believe this is time for Skizzik to say hello, and I attempt to trade.”I’ll take five,” says a confidant Robby.

“I think I just lost,” thinks the man of many Mintboxes. Fattie serves, and a Restraint is dropped. I drop the second Skizzik, and surprise: Evasive Action. I cast Skizz so I could (hopefully) get Fattie to either fly and get me some much-needed burn, or trade with Skizzy. Neither happened, and I was left with nothing to do after he cast Ruin next turn. I suck at playing vs. Domain. Five hits with Fattie, and that’s all she wrote.

(The dude who took the pic got all”I’m going to be a professional photographer, yo,” so naturally, I felt inclined to fall asleep during the makeup and lighting pre-production meetings.)


2-5 with Press Pass

Thom Bissel, he of the only guy ever to lose to my Mana Cache/Citadel of Pain MBC deck fame, was playing Nick right next to me. Thom had out two Lightning Angels, while Nick was saying,”sup?” with Crosis. Since Nick was at four or so, life was looking bad for him. However, Thom got ballsy and served with both mini-fatties, fully expecting one to get through so he could Rage Nick into oblivion. Crosis blocked one and Malice took care of the other one. Any creature that isn’t black has to suck, but not for Nick, who lived to tell the tale of”The guy who cast two Lighting Angels on the same turn and still lost.” Oh so many fatties abound. Hey, can flying creatures truly be considered”fatties?” Somehow, anything that can fly just doesn’t seem to deserve the well-respected moniker; the moniker of pain, suffering, and utter Uber-lovin:”fattie.”

3-5 with a friggin’ bye. What did a brother learn? Let me count the ways…

1) Dodecapod is assier than any other thing that has been ass before. He’s amazing if you a) have him maindeck, b) get a Verdict thrown on you on turn two, c) have two in your opening hand, and d) one or both don’t meet Vindicate. What a waste of four sideboard slots.

2) Playtesting is probably a good idea. Calling the audible and building a deck that has no Apocalypse spells maindeck smacks of stupidity. Hey, proper playtesting just might’ve revealed that Apoc has some really good cards, and perhaps I should try some.

3) Recoil is fine to use. After all, what are they gonna do, drop a Dodecapod?

4) W/B/x control is pretty damned good.

5) So is Domain.

6) Blurred Mongoose is amazing against any deck that doesn’t have creatures. Otherwise, it’s not so good. Wait, I already knew that one.

7) I’m fairly bad at Magic. Wait, I already knew that one too.

Despite my less-than-stellar performance, I had more fun that I was entitled to. I think it just may have something to do with everything but the game. Not that the game sucks – quite the contrary – but the time in between rounds seemed to be very satisfying, which certainly was not the case in the past.

I spent a hundred forty bucks, got my ass kicked, spent almost as much time driving as I did on site, and I can’t wait for the next one. Is this a good place to say”mize?” Okay.


John Friggin’ Rizzo