If It Ain’t Broke, Break It – The Payoff

Johnny “hasn’t played Magic in five years” Rizzo takes his homebrew to the first Extended PTQ of the year. How does the man do when battling against the likes of Mouth and the legendary Go Anan? The answer is inside… somewhere.

Part 1 of this giagantor monstrosity can be found here and Part 2 can be found here.

10. Craig Freakin’ Jones And The Origin Of O-Ren

11. Ravnica: City of Love Ichorid, Meet Dimir

12. The Three Headed Monster

13. The Max Factor

14. Yes, yicky Yes, I Think Very Deeply, icky I Think Very Deeply

15. How’d We Do, Helen? (aka: the tourney report)

16. Retro(per)spective

10. Craig Freakin’ Jones And The Origin Of O-Ren

October 29

Just hopped (okay dial up boy: laggggggged) online to check out PT-LA and who stole my deck first. Hello, I’m there for the world to read:

“Golgari Grave-Troll is like, pretty freakin’ good.”

Okay, I suspected I was onto something, and that emotion has just been seconded. The new problem is that everyone else knows it too. Now I get to figure out how to beat dredge, which is too broken to be beaten.

Craig Jones using Grave-Troll without Ichorid, love, gives frigginrizzo fits!

With the PTQ a mere fourteen days away, and my surprise factor now at or around zero (Ichorid, love, still counts!), one might consider an audible. But one might not take into consideration that one spent virtually every waking hour of the last forty-three days Contemplating Cameron, where “Cameron” is equal to “Ichorid, love,” which is the result of “Dance wif’ da’ one who brung ya’.”

I also saw Uncle Aaron’s article in which he admitted how much worse Life From The Loam is it dredge 3 instead of 4. I’m really starting to think I know something about something here. Too bad I can’t play very well.

Ordinarily, I’d be Johnny Panic Button, and use this as the excuse I needed – now I can finally Rizzo It Up, with complete justification! Or: there are sixty cards in the deck, fifty-six of which I can use more than once. This is something I find comforting.

Next case. Or “net deck to worry about,” as is germane to the convo. Heh, “convo” like I’m “cool,” or “in the know,” or “hip and trendy” with the “short slang words,” such as “convo.”

PT-LA is now officially over, a guy won, others didn’t, but all that really matters is that we have a gauntlet. Finally, we know what to test against, or in the case of natty dreads, what to play in the upcoming PTQs.

Here I was, bein’ all clever-like by taking the eggs to Crossroads so I could snatch up Grave-Trolls before the price got cute. They had one. Luckily for them, they had the two Thugs I needed.

Berto bought Leveler because it’s a 10/10. For 5.

And Kuro, Pitlord because it’s a 9/9 who cares what it costs.

And Dragon Tyrant because, well, lookithim!

When I assured him that none of the above could fit comfortably in the same deck that housed Big Daddy Wurm, he replied: add Swamps and Mountains. Why didn’t I think of that? Abs, however, preferred Krosan Colossus and Gleemax because of their accessible casting costs.

I’m fairly certain I put 1x Johnny and 1x Spike up in her womb, but the wifey must have boarded into 2x Timmy when I wasn’t looking.

[[Figure 15 quicksilver amulet]]

An eventful Sunday, I know. Earlier in the day, I cut down a tree and stacked firewood in the garage – I could have told you all about that, but didn’t because I’m a bad father.

Star Wars Kid Heartbeat.

Kenji’s DredgAtog.

Moreno’s Madness ‘Tog.

C-HC’s Red Deck Wins.

Ryu’s Scepter Chant.

Ervin “Magic” Tormos’ PT Jank.

Tsu’s Boros Deck Wins.

Somebody’s Balancing ‘Tings.

Somebody’s Affinity.

How come Japanese players have names that are difficult for me to spell? I am not an erudite sophisto, plus I suck at diversity and foreign languages, please help me. Apparently, I, and the world, better get used to it, since they (and the Scandinavian Country Peeps, who have by far the kewlest names ever) are the best Magic players in the world.


The US has a number of stupid people in powerful places who insist that American students can’t learn much of anything if they’re not surrounded by the appropriate number of black, white and “other” students, mixed with the target number of desired sexual orientations, of course. Thus, no one can learn if not surrounded by diversity, nor should they be subject to such misguided attempts.

Dear Japan,

While your children are among the best and brightest in the world, we understand that they are surrounded by nothing but Japanese students, which is an extreme civil rights violation! See you in court!



Note: Asian-Americans are not considered to be a legitimate minority class in America. The reason why is truly staggering: it’s because they’re too successful to be considered legitimate minorities.

It wasn’t too long ago that we’d hear about a Japanese middle-manager who took his own life if his department didn’t meet expectations. While this seems a tad harsh, it does seem to represent old school thinking, ie: I am to blame for the failures of those I am trusted to lead, vs. new school: it’s not my fault, ever. Blame upper management, blame the union, blame Canada. BLAME BUSH!

The captain goes down with the ship vs. the golden parachute approach.

Every year you’re liable to read a study on which countries send their children to school for the most hours per day or week or year. Invariably, you have Japan and some Scandinavian countries vying for the upper spots. The ol’ US of A, way down there, thanks. This probably has no correlation with the fact that the U.S. constantly scores lower than Japan and <Scandinavian countries> on just about any test you’d choose to administer. Oh, except for self-esteem, which is almost as important as diversity.

It’s not like my kids get a week off every semester just because. Nor do they average ten to fifteen days off in the middle of random weeks for no apparent reason. I guess the grind of going to school for, OH MY GOD!, up to seven hours a day risks serious side effects. How many Japanese and Scandinavian ten-year olds are on Ritalin and Prozac?

Lately, you’re liable to review the Pro Tour Player of the Year race and see plenty of Japanese and <Scandinavian countries> players near the top. This is probably a coincidence; a momentary lapse, a swinging of the pendulum of diminished ‘tings.

Then again, I don’t know much about Japan, and even less about <Scandinavian countries> (other than what I’ve read in Swedish Erotica) so never mind any of the above. I’m just here to talk about Magic.

I was correct that dredge is broken and disgusting. Now that everyone agrees DredgeAtog is the deck (or close enough) to play, I have to decide whether everyone at the PTQ will agree as well. Florence, The Teditor and Gadriel are pimping hard – but, yes but. It seems no one has answered the question of “how do you beat Dredgatog?”

Crypt KEEPER + Coffin Purge + Withered Wretch.

This makes them play fair, while I still get to cheat.

If I chose to believe that peeps be sheeps, or that Floren – The Sworn Enemy Of Gilder, Little Teddi Lippincot and Gadrach Meshach Abednago can influence what you play, then I throw KEEPER into the main.

If peeps be sheeps den maindeck da’ ‘KEEPS.

Or Haunting Echoes = pow. Or Shred Memory = laff, but it shreds memories or tutors for Infestation, LFtL, Fiend or Thug – oh, and KEEPS and Wretch for fun. Does your graveyard removal do all that? What graveyard removal?

If peeps be sheeps den maindeck da’ ‘KEEPS.

Peeps may or may not be sheeps, but the Extended metagame, as I remember, tends to shift by the day, if not by the hour. Thusly, what makes sense right now is foolhardy by the time I finish typing this senten- See, it’s already shifted.

How might one go about beating Heartbeat? Mindslicer might be a good start. Thy Rape in the yard is an uncounterable Wheel of Fortune without the fortune. They play fair and off-the-top empty-handed combo boy, while I still get to cheat.

Attack the yard and hand while furthering my strategy of attacking the life total with Things That Should Not Be without missing a (pun->) beat. Seems okay to me.

11. Ravnica: City of Love – Ichorid, Meet Dimir

November 3

Blame the moment when I realized that Thug is “not the optimal turn 2 play when you need a real draw phase.” Then blame the Dimir Intrigues theme deck, mostly Dimir Infiltrator.

Here I was, looking to Rizzo It Up, when happenstance went and happened, stance. I tooled around and quickly understood that this guy is so much better than Ezra, less than Jake and a pocket full of shells.

If he was simply a 1/3 for ub, he’d be good.

If he was simply unblockable, he’d be good.

If he was simply a tutor, he’d be good.

If he was simply a black creature for Ichy, he’d be good.

But he’s all of these for two-point-five mana, round as appropriate.

He laffs at Frostling, Savannah Lions, pre-got-out-of-hand Slith Firewalker and pre-pumped ‘TOG, and any 2/2 dork you’d care to mention (Mongrel is not a dork, so don’t mention him). He fetches Infestation, LFtL, Fiend, Thug, plus KEEPER, Withered Wretch and Ray of Revelation from the board. This guy is so good, he can even fetch himself. I guess he could, if hard pressed, go and grab Shred Memory Lol At Everything He Can Do So Much For Such A Little Fella!

//NAME: The Girl Ain’t Right (The GFR!)

3 Cabal Therapy

2 Putrid Imp

1 Darkblast

4 Mesmeric Fiend

3 Dimir Infiltrator

2 Golgari Thug

4 Zombie Infestation

4 Deep Analysis

1 Life from the Loam

4 Stinkweed Imp

4 Psychatog

4 Ichorid, love

4 Golgari Grave-Troll

7 Swamp

4 Yavimaya Coast

3 Underground River

2 Island

2 Barren Moor

1 Watery Grave

1 Forest

Did you see him up there? He looks so handsome in that uniform!

“…players still don’t understand the dredge mechanic very well… the deck’s designers felt the deck was really freaking hard to play… it may be so hard to play that it won’t impact the format as much…


I’m glad I’m not the only one who knows that every single phase is excruciatingly difficult to decide, and Ted’s talking about real dredge decks, not some flippant little meat basket like mine. Sometimes it’s so hard that I just scoop up and start over when I’m goldfishing because I have no freakin’ idea what the hell to do.

However, since I’m rogue-tech-l33t, I have a few easy decisions now and again. Such as:

After combat, play Mesmeric Fiend, take something, cast Thy Rape, then make Ichorid, love, a lovely flashback Rape Victim. Three cards on one turn with no drawback = where’s your game, sonny?

Another cake walk:

If the opening hand contains Infestation, swamp and Yavimaya Coast, get a chubby. No matter what the rest of the hand is, all you need is wuv, and this is close enough. Except when the other four cards happen to be: Ichy, Grave-Troll, black creature and Analysis. Chubby be damned, ’cause you’ll bust a nut whether you’re up, semi or flaccid.

But that’s about it for the simple life, other than before you try to go lethal, cast Fiend or Thy Rape. Or don’t worry – Ichy and his bruddahs will sneak on by, ’cause, gee, should I block deathboy’TOG! or an inconsequential 3/1 that’ll die anyway.

Everything else is much more complicated than Paris and Nicole would lead you to believe. So just play red mana, but use white mana with it – this’ll mean you’re replacing some burn with white dorks who hate cr33tz with converted mana costs of zero. Oh, and good lookin’ 2cc tutorin’ Ichy feedin’ standoff bustin’ 2/2 blockin’ 1/3s.

“the…mechanic…felt…really freaking hard.”

-tedditor, dime store romance novelist

November 4 = Happy Tenth Wedding Anniversary frigginrizzos! Ten years of no strange and counting! Let me reflect for a moment… Stop being jealous.

I’m scratching my dome trying to further enhance the sexiness that is Infiltrator. Hmm, stuff that costs two… Aether Burst…?

If only peeps played with creatures and I had ways to get a couple Bursts in the yard, tutor for one, then bounce your entire team and alpha strike you to death. If only.

“Only one Grave-Troll Psychatog deck? Do you people not realize how powerful that deck is (2-5-1 performances on Day Two not withstanding, cough cough). “

Craig Jones, Copenhagen

Craig, I do. But shhh!

“If things go as they have in years past (and there’s little reason to think that they won’t)…

-Teddi Rocky Horror, Melbourne

There’s every reason to think they won’t, since up is down, down is Tito Fuentes, and Tito is more than “The Fat Jackson.” Or was that Randy…

“The first day is done, and five players with five different decks stand undefeated…”

-Alex Smith, Kitakyuushuu

Dear Me,

I can’t figure it out.


Me Neither

I did notice a decklist with 3 Withered Wretch main.

Q. How bad is that for me?

A. Very.

Q. What should I do about it?

A. Twenty minutes later, based on complete confusion after checking out the three GPs:

SB: 3 Addle

SB: 3 Withered Wretch

SB: 2 Last Gasp

SB: 2 Smother

SB: 2 Ray of Revelation

SB: 2 Coffin Purge

SB: 1 Crypt Creeper

No, mintbox, the environment cannot stabilize for thirty seconds, you’re welcome.

12. The Three Headed Monster

November 6

Head One: The Big’un

‘TOG! must be the number one deck to beat – it’s won a PT and two GPs. Looking at the decklist full of control elements, one thing stands out: it’s full of control elements. The deck sports up to fourteen counters, none of which really annoy me as much as they should, and Duress post-board, which can take a number of my cards, but none which will have much impact (other than Infestation).

You can counter my ‘TOG!s, assuming I don’t Rape Thy piss out of your hand, or perhaps I’ll just get them back with Thug. If I can’t beat your head with enormous Grave-Trolls or 2/2 zombies, maybe I can just Ichy you to death. Some versions have Haunting Echoes or Coffin Purge, but other than those plans, no. You may feel free to ignore an uncounterable 3/1 (or two, three or four of them) comin’ up on ya’ turn after turn, but do so at your own peril.

The GFR sports a number of annoying should-I-counter-it spells, some of which are bothersome, which is a valuable synonym for annoying to have at your disposal. What do you do with Fiend – counter him? – waste a valuable removal spell – or just shrug him off and ensure that Thy Rape hits at least once?

Infestation is also high on the irritating chart because it’s also a synonym, and don’t forget ‘TOG! himself: while he can Go Big, Ichy makes sure than “lethal” never means “the full twenty.” By the time ‘TOG! is ready to Do Bigness, he’s liable to have two Ichies by his side; often they already hit you for three, six or death.

I have to feel good about my deck against control decks, or others that waste Critical Creature Spots on counters, removal or card drawing. If I can’t beat a deck that sports only four real creatures + Wonder, then… Well, I’ll take out Darkblast and two Putrid Imps for 3 Addle. If I can’t beat it with up to thirteen discard spells, then…

Or perhaps I’ll toss in six bin stealers, which could make your ‘Tog’s skillz slightly less impressive than, well, Ichorid’s mad blocking ability.

You spend your turns setting up and trying to defend a Biggie Size, while I spend mine trying to rape your hand and overextend my creature base of nigh-unkillable d00dz.

I feel good about this son-of-a-bitch, at least vs. ‘TOG!

Head Two: Combo G33kz

If I can’t prevent your Scepter-with-a-goodie from coming in to play, then… Well, here come the Addles – wait, maybe Duress – wait, maybe Wrench Mind. Alas, Wrath is a waste of four mana, but if you ever get to Decree of Justice mana… Well, here comes… something I don’t have. This might be a tough nut to crack, still, Ichorid, love, is really and truly not a fan of Fire/Ice. If I don’t Rape Thy hand… Well, maybe no one in Maine has heard of this deck yet.

Dear Heartbeat,

Mindslicer that I probably won’t put in the board.


Seriously, Mindslicer

I don’t feel so good, unless I do so good, then I will feel so good.

Head Three: Real Decks Played By Real Men (and Hot Chyx)

Real Decks Played By Real Men are different stories altogether, since they seek to win The Real Way: with creatures. Boros can drop a 2/2 on turn one and kill whatever you put in the way for the rest of the game – save for ‘TOG!, but Infestation changes that plan – unless they want to trade hard-to-replace real cards for keep-crunching-we’ll-make-more easy-to-replace pro player tokens.

Rock thinks it’s funny to toss down a 3/2 Deed-proof fella and go to town, with Cabal Therapy backup, frontup, giddyup. I fail to find the humor, then again, they most likely wouldn’t chuckle much if I smashed the ever loving piss out of them to death with inferior creatures, which I just might have to do if they can’t laugh with me, not at me.

They can reset Deed the board over and over, but hey, I have some guys who can regenerate too! Mine’s bigger – A Wakefield Approved Fatty if ever there was one even if he doesn’t actually approve of it, technically.

Boros can simply lose to a turn 2 Infestation. My 2/2s vs. your 2/2s, but I’m over here feeding my yard for the Ichys that are coming to see you. A turn three ‘TOG! doesn’t look too good for them either. But they do have access to red mana, which has the possibility to simply own.

Goblins looks interesting – how does my deck wipe the board clean of 1/1s? Sickening Dreams would be okay, if only it cost two and I had a way to go get it. Engineered Plague costs three; naturally it’s out of the picture.

I can’t see a deck filled with cards that turn sideways that makes me want to lay down and die, although Affinity is a son-of-a-bitch, and even though I’ve yet to face an actual real-life Jitte, I bet I’ll it them as much as all y’all do. Of course, there’s always good old fashioned mana screw, for which I will blame every “hardship” in my entire miserable life.

I’ve only been looking forward to this for, oh, since July, what’s a little mana screw or legendary artifact prob – I am so sick of writing this freakin’ article (110 f***ing hours!) that is so ridiculously based in the past that I should go 0-2 drop, throw my deck, curse out everyone within shouting distance, get kicked off premises, a speeding ticket and then crash into a telephone pole on the way home, get banned for five years, lose my job, my house, my family, my sanity, my erection, and roam the earth as a modern-day freakshow with a burlap sack over my dome with a singular eye-hole cutout screaming something so impossibly indecipherable that I’m hailed as the second coming of Vhati il-Dal.

If there is any justice in this world, that’s exactly what will happen.

“Why don’t you ask the kids at Tiananmen Square, blah, blah, it was a bunch of lies and the highly conservative television news media – especially Dan Rather, that ambassador for Bush-loving-right-wing insanity – tricked you!”

-System of a Down

According to Bookshelf ’99 – still the best research program ever made ’cause it will actually pronounce every swear word you can imagine and some you can’t:

April 17, 1989

“Students march on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square to call for increased democracy in China.”

I can’t believe I fell for that ridiculous cover story! Quick, someone get Oliver Stone to commandeer production rights and attach talent! Tom Cruise, Susan Sarandon (and his wife Tim Robbins) and Rosie O’Donnell might be available, hope hope!


Out of the blue, I got a call from my cousin in Pittsburgh – we chatted a while, then I couldn’t resist: “What’s up with Bruce these days?”

Apparently, Bruce went and got married = good for him.

To his best friend’s ex-wife = heh.

Sammy Jankins didn’t learn, even after his ass got shot up with electrified objects and his wife got her punchbowl spiked, and Bruce, despite living thirty-odd years as Pavlov’s Dog with the whip, chains, buzzers and plexi-glass maze, didn’t either.


“…Ravnica is actually released, revealing Life from the Loam’s embarrassing glaring weakness. The stupid thing only dredges three cards!”

-Billy Beard’s Gruff

frigginrizzo: <-knows how you feel. Or felt.

Incidentally, I downloaded the finals webcast with B00l3r and Bad MuthaFlores and… I have seen many Magic cards. I have played Magic. I know a few of the rules. But after watching the “analysis,” I’m at a complete loss. I couldn’t tell what the hell was going on, no one would explain anything, and the camera thought long shots of nothingness was fantastic. I understand that if this goes to ESPN2 or home video, it will be edited, but guys, how about an attempt at play-by-play?

Okay, they’re ready for game one. Hey, what’s your favorite Unhinged car– Oh, one of the guys did some-Hey, tell me about Captain Kirk while the camera zooms in on Ruel’s fingernails. Okay, they’re ready for game two, no, wow: three already? Maybe we should explain what’s going on at least a litt-And we have a winner. Goodnight from Los Angeles.

Still, Billy Moreno is my new Magic power animal for so many reasons.

He prepped mostly in a vaccum, yet built the best deck of the tourney

He arrived in the midst of a major life change with $300 to his name

He beat some of the best players in the world

He made mistakes in the finals that all of us have made

He wrote an exceptional report about it

He offered no excuses or tried to shift blame

He has a beard. Seriously, who the hell has a beard?

“I share because I love.”

13. The Max Factor

Somehow, the day before the “Oh, That Wacky Metagame” article went up, I got an email from Max McCall, who read said article (how?) and wondered if I was completely clueless as to what I was going to play at the PTQ. If you got to this point, you know that, once I remembered Ichorid, love, love. He suggested Scepter-Chant, since this is what he used to Q. You can check out his repizzy and accompanying Josh Silvizzy dizzy up on star cizzy, get bizzy.

I replied that not only do I not own the cards for Scepter, but I suck at control more than I suck at anything that doesn’t include 4 Ichorid, love, I sent the decklist, actually kind of eager for a second opinion that didn’t belong to spawn who finally got sick of being beat down by pro player tokens, especially Julien, who Abs simply calls “the kid from ‘Holes.'”

Max McCall <[email protected]> wrote:

>The first thing that kinda jumps out at me is the lack of Cephalid Coliseum. Going into > your turn with like, Imp and Troll in the yard with a Coliseum is about the equivalent > of getting a hummer under the table….

While I commend him for the dead-nutz simile/metaphor, I relayed my f33r of inflicting lethal damage on myself – too many pain lands + flashback Analysis = ow.

>That 2 Putrid Imp looks fairly random, though. I can understand the need for Ichy men, >but like, I dunno. Isn’t there something stronger?

Hey, you shoulda seen the list when there were four of them. But basically this guy is irreplaceable. Turn 1 Imp with Troll, and swamp/Coast is such an obscene start that the mere possibility cements his place in the main. At least until game two.

>You should probably have 4 Therapy since you basically want to draw like five in your >opening grip though.

Yes, Thy Rape Times Four. Okay, needed someone to second the emotion, since I wasn’t sure that a deck with 4x Ichorid, love, might want to maximize his “gonna die” ability. As far as the “you want to draw one,” not necessarily, because Ichy + Rape in yard that got there by dredging = I’m probably winning plus discard that card, loser!

> Heh, I just realized you can do things like make a 14/14 Grave-Troll

One of these days, Jamie C. Reevaluationfield will realize this too.

> Putrefy is pretty good against like everything. Just sayin’.

I kinda thought that too, but I can’t get the freakin’ thing back. However, getting under the Chant lock on turn 3 is about as annoying as some bad sex. 4 in the board makes sense just ’cause Putrefy is pretty good against like everything, just sayin’.

> Do you need Filth, Brawn, or Wonder for evasion? Like, Tog is an Abyss on legs, but > sitting there while random Lions jump in the way while a Lavamancer kills you is > decidedly not sexy.

Evasion maindeck assumes that ‘TOG! is my main path to victory, which it most assuredly isn’t. Tokens and Ichy are what gets the job done most of the times; ‘TOG! is insane, but often enough he’s just an outlet that can possibly attack the living piss out of you. Other times he’s game, but yeah, flying zombies and Ichies wouldn’t be bad either. Only one Island in the deck = wow, am I bad at Wonder.

> Transmute for Addle is strong, but third-turn disruption that doesn’t hit Scepter isn’t > that amazing

I played around with Addle a little, and then relegated it back to whence it came. It didn’t necessarily suck, but removing something for it did. Messing with the main synergy to maybe nab a card is a great way to Rizzo It Up.

> Offhand, the only Ray of Revelation target I can think of right now is Heartbeat of > Spring, and I think in that matchup you just want to shred their hand and kill them as > fast as possible.

That’s the only one I could think of too, although I’ve seen a Worship here and there. Taking up board slots for a very slim chance of someone playing a card that wrecks me is dubious. Still, one might make it just because it’s a white card.

> Basically, your sideboard looks pretty random.

No sh**. I dunno, I never want to side anything out – the deck does what it does or it doesn’t, and even when it doesn’t, it often does. The main feels tweaked for optimal performance, notwithstanding a professional driver on a closed course.

> I guess most of those suggestions end up detracting from the whole “Find Tog, a > Dredge guy, and kill the opponent with a quickness” plan

Not the plan. But if everyone chooses to think that it is, I think I like my end.

> Remember to register KEEPER correctly on the sheet 🙂

In order to avoid a misregistered list, I think I’ll just cut him.

Max took in the wisdom that is a bad player with his own fruity deck and shot back:

Max McCall <[email protected]> wrote:

> About painlands – Moreno’s deck has 4 Coasts, six Onslaught fetchlands and four > shocklands. He went 4-0 against Boros at the PT.

If it’s good enough for my power animal, then it’s good enough for me!

> Realistically, you’re going to play Tog or Infestation on turn three unless you > mulliganed to like five. That’s going to pretty throughly hold Boros’ offense…

Which is why I hope to face eight rounds of Boros.

> …about a third of the deck is actually more useful in the bin. That’s savage, because it > actually gives you more resources to use rather than denying you some.

That’s the idea: give myself access to so much more than you, all the while taking chunks of your life and shredding your hand. It’s like reverse-Necro, but only not as good!

> …you’re not really losing anything if a Putrefy hits the yard… except the ability to > draw the Putrefy. (And whatever utility a card that isn’t Putrefy that would function > better in the yard…) An alternative would be to run more Darkblasts, but they’re less > good at killing large creatures and Isochron Scepters.

True enough, especially since the “utility card that isn’t Putrefy” would also be less good at killing large creatures and Scepters.

> …add Grave-Shell Scarab if you’re afraid of . I’m betting you’re not…

Not, but I did remember Legacy Weapon, and with Flores still pimping Heartbeat…yet another rules question: Can Weapon nullify Brain Freeze for a billion? If so, then how does Heartbeat ever beatheart me? If not, well, I’ll deck myself and like it!

I spent about an hour checking da’ City and mtg.com judge archives, and while no one ever asks the freakin’ questions I would, such as: “Can I get Brain Freezed to death with a Legacy Weapon in my library or not?” – they sometimes come close enough for me to pretend I know. Thus, one Weapon, and hope that when he goes for the Freeze, it’s not stuck in my hand with no outlet. The rules gurus can figure it out from there.

> When I take a more TurboInfestation approach to looking at the deck, I actually don’t > see many tweaks to make. I still think Coliseum is really good with the Tog as a backup > plan, because holy sh*t is randomly binning twenty cards nutty with Doctor Teeth…

Me neither, but that’s why I sent you the list! Help me! Save me! Twenty cards with the dentist is a backup plan I don’t mind having for a rainy day.

> The only things that really bug me are the 2 Putrid Imp, 3 Therapy, and the 1 > Darkblast.

Be nice to Imp. Much like Infiltrator, he does so much for such a small package. Max won the Thy Rape battle, and Darkblast moved to the side for another Super Duper Infiltrator who does too many things and should be banned immediately.

>…don’t board in cards for favorable matchups (Unless they have some sideboard bomb > that wrecks you) or just accept that you’ll lose to a given archetype and try not to play it > more than once.

“How To Avoid Your Worst Matchups, Guaranteed,” by Max McCall

Don’t play against them.



P.S. Put Duress in the board.

It was refreshing to see another take on something I’ve been tooling single-o for so long. When the sentiments conveyed either made sense or were validations of previous not-so-firmly-held convictions, put a synonym here for “refreshing.” Plus, if I go 2-5, I get to blame Max, even though he said “play Scepter-Chant.”

Still, all this typing back and forth jazz got me thinking about a few things, most of which were: is there something I’m missing to make the deck better? What one-of(s) can I add that costs two and is an absolute house?

Whirlpool Rider – so broken beyond belief in this deck; absolutely insane, retarded, stupid, and plain ol’ fruity. Play him turn 2 with Troll in the bin, and just like that: an instant mill machine that could put all the Ichys in the yard, ready to smash for 12 on turn 3 and you can’t kill them ever. Come back from that, anyone, ever, I dare you. The synergy with Infestation is nearly as ridiculous: dredge like there’s something wrong with you, oh, and you still have the same number of cards in hand to make zombies. But in order for him to be so broken, I’d already be doing what I wanted to be doing. Alas.

Defense Grid – it could be very good, or perhaps not. I’m told only newbs play Gifts, Fact or Fiction, Helix or assorted burn in their main phase. Plus, counter target spell for five = less attractive than costing two. Wait, it taxes Scepter too? Gravy.

Trade Routes – of course it’s nutty, it’s Blue and lets you draw cards. However, things that cost mana to activate are annoying. As is the fate of Pedantic Learning – wow this seems, like, good, but sit back down, Johnny Dredge It Away.

Oversold Cemetery – get back up, Johnny Free Card In Hand Every Turn. This smells fruity without even trying it out – where is the drawback? Don’t mention Infiltrator, The Reusable Tutor, every turn. Mention “dredge it away” though.

Caveat: any card I can’t get back when it dumps into the bin is a potential liability except Infestation, which is just plain too freakin’ good. Did I mention I never want to side anything out, ever?

I don’t auto-lose to anything, and I don’t have to truly hate any matchup I can think of. This will keep me warm at night, especially if I go 2-5. Still, imagine how much I could have learned if ten peeps bounced ideas off me. But power animal didn’t have ten, and he like, did pretty good.

Thus, after a bunch of emails and theory.ideas.testing, what really happened?

The Girl Ain’t Right pre-Max Factor

The Girl Ain’t Right post-Max Factor

3 Cabal Therapy

4 Cabal Therapy

2 Putrid Imp

2 Putrid Imp

1 Darkblast


4 Mesmeric Fiend

4 Mesmeric Fiend

4 Dimir Infiltrator

4 Dimir Infiltrator

1 Golgari Thug

1 Golgari Thug

4 Zombie Infestation

4 Zombie Infestation

4 Deep Analysis

4 Deep Analysis

1 Life from the Loam

1 Life From the Loam

4 Stinkweed Imp

4 Stinkweed Imp

4 Psychatog

4 Psychatog

4 Ichorid, love

4 Ichorid, love

4 Golgari Grave-Troll

4 Golgari Grave-Troll

6 Swamp

6 Swamp

4 Yavimaya Coast

4 Yavimaya Coast

3 Underground River

3 Underground River

2 Island

1 Island

2 Barren Moor

2 Barren Moor

1 Cabal Pit

1 Cabal Pit

1 Watery Grave

1 Watery Grave

1 Forest

1 Forest

1 Petrified Field

1 Petrified Field

1 Cephalid Coliseum

All that just to swap Darkblast for Thy Rape Number Four and an Island for Coliseum.

The board is still in upheaval, a mere forty hours from the event, but one thing I realized is that, despite how I said I really never want to board in anything ever, I really and truly never want to board in anything ever.

A Chant lock is sickening, and notice how many ways I have to do anything about it in the main. However, every card is there for a reason, and that reason is that every one of them does at least two things, and each contribute to the “swarm you early but I got a mid-game too” approach.

While it’s nice to have Putrefy and Naturalize in the board, what the hell would I take out for them? Five cards (that I feel are as perfect as a girl can be) from the main, replaced with five cards that a) I can’t get back, b) can’t tutor for except Naturalize, and c) disrupt the strategy of the deck by a country mile = what?

As an added bonus, I don’t have much time to figure it out either. Perhaps I’ll take Max’s advice and just not play against Scepter Chant. Wee!

I tried to test Heartbeat, but when I had to split this Fact or Fiction:

Gifts Ungiven, Nostalgic Dreams, Early Harvest, Mind’s Desire, Fact or Fiction

I had to punt. I don’t think I was ever good at splitting FoF, let alone trying to decide what the hell to do about Gifts with 4 Yawgmoth’s Will for GG in the same deck. Guess I just won’t play against this either.

I’m facing down Moreno’s deck with two Mongrels, one had Jitte+4 counters…and it lost. Eventually, but badly. Maybe I don’t know how to play that deck either. Or maybe:

Turn 2 Infestation =

Boros just loses.

Most ‘Tog builds do too.

Moreno.dec doesn’t have to like it.

Neither does Affinity, though they enjoy Stinkweed Imp bunches.

None of the above like Ichorid, love, in multiples, or 14/14 Trolls.


Decks with Moment’s Peace are annoying, so very, very. This is why I really want to put Defense Grid in the board. You can’t Fog until turn 5 = shuffle up for the next game. And unless I’m missing something, and I may be (see: Extended rotates all my cards in October), Arcane Laboratory also seems kinda good against <3beat, not to mention putting a major crimp in ‘Tings. Food to think about.

I haven’t tested Rock, but this match probably comes down to who draws more Therapies, and hopefully they side in Duress to try to win the war of attrition. Infestation is the only card in my deck Duress can hit that matters; the others will thank you for helping a brother out. I had nightmares about Rock and Mesmeric Fiend and Thy Rape raping my hand and leaving me im-po-tent without the added bonus of looking im-po-tent, but then I woke up with a chub and still worried.

They can Deed my tokens, ‘TOG! and Imps, but I can make more pro players, alpha strike with bad 3/1s, or make an individual so large that you can still Putrefy him anyway – you’ll run out of Putrefys before I run out of Wakefield’s New Most Favorite Fatty Ever. But Wretch in the main – please tell me they stopped doing that by now.

See, I worry about everything: name’s Vagina Boy, nice to meet you,

14. Yes, yicky Yes, I Think Very Deeply, icky I Think Very Deeply

Man, I really don’t want to go 2-5. Seriously, to put in this much “work,” which is not as much as “real” players put it, and then to scrub out would be gee, a little disappointing. I need to not be disappointed: in my deck, in my play, on the day in general.

Dare I set a goal, is that asking for a let down? But I must do just that: set a tangible goal – this is the only way to judge success or failure. No longer is “having fun” the end from which the means spring forth; I’ve been known to have fun going 0-6, go draft. This time, that won’t do. Still, setting a goal and then not reaching it sucks, the inevitable blame game follows shortly thereafter.

There must be a reason all those wacky events brought me back to the fold – what the hell is that reason? There must be some logical explanation for Shante randomly deciding to vacation in Maine, randomly catching the WSoP and Dave, randomly logging on the day a Jamie C. Articlefield article was postedfield, and finding old mags I thought were long ago discarded. It could be a coincidence.

Likewise, there must be a reason I jumped back in right as a new block – a fantastic block no less (so far) – was about to unleash a mechanic that made Ichorid, love, insane, and Crossroads was awarded the first PTQ ever in Maine… It can’t be a coincidence.

Magic doesn’t need me, I don’t really need Magic – we were both doing fine without the other. It never needed me, but once upon a time I relied on Magic for a sense of somethingness; a structure of sorts; a counterbalance to everything that seemed out of equilibrium. In the last few years, I’ve figured out structure, achieved some semblance of balance, and found plenty of other somethingness. Why now?

As a guy who believes in karma (mostly), and the idea that things tend to happen for a purpose, although said purpose could take a while to become evident, I can’t believe all the above weirdness is simply a series of random events.

Yeah, that’s fine, Glen… Glen Dandy, so set a freakin’ goal and move along. What would be realistic after three-and-a-half years? Taking into account that I was never very good when I was on top of the every day happenings, what can I reasonably expect to achieve?

Top 8 might be a stretch; then again, would it be so out of line? I’ve done it before – well…twice, and most certainly can do it again… why go to a tourney if the goal is not to win the damned thing? Who goes to a PTQ simply to have a little fun and spend the day hanging wit’ dey peeps? Probably a lot of people, actually.

If I set a low goal, that makes me look like a p***y. If I set it too high, that makes me look stupid if I don’t reach it, especially if it’s not realistically attainable. Of course, I could wait until after the tourney and come back -> here <- and insert a post-tourney-but-you’ll-never-know-it goal that I obviously reached because I reached it before I set it.

Screw that.

My goal is to make Top 8. While it might appear to be unrealistic, since it’s actually a challenge even for good players, I have to aim high – there has to be something worth striving for, and golly, going 4-3 ain’t it. If I don’t make it, at least I’ll go down fighting (but I reserve the right to edit this goal after the event so I don’t look like an ass).

Rocky didn’t want to survive the first round; he wanted to go the distance.

Beatrix Kiddo didn’t want to Throw Rocks At William; she wanted to Kill Bill.

Leonard didn’t want to interrogate John G.; he wanted to ventilate his dome.

Quit doubting yourself, little bitch.

You’re right to doubt – the deck is a pile and you suck at Magic.

I don’t think that either is entirely accurate.

Because you’re delusional.

I don’t think that’s a fair assessment.

The first step is admitting you have a problem.

Thanks, but I’m going to Aim High! Top 8 or bust! Anything less would be uncivilized! Dare to dream! Fight the power! Wish upon a star! Believe to achieve! Bubble gum bubble gum in a dish! What do I have to lose! Who shot J.R.! 121.23333 hours on this bastard before I even sat down to play!

But I’m still a little nervous.

frigginrizzo: <-vagina boy.

15. How’d We Do, Helen? (a.k.a.: the tourney report)

It started with version one-point-oh on September 16:

//NAME: Preliminary Black Thing

4 Carrion Feeder

3 Nantuko Shade

4 Golgari Thug

3 Crypt KEEPER

4 Dark Confidant

3 Necroplasm

3 Stinkweed Imp

4 Ichorid, love

4 Braids, Cabal Minion

4 Grave Pact

22 Swamp

2 Cabal Coffers

An incalculable number of permutations yielded the final result on November 12:

//NAME: The Girl Ain’t Right (The GFR!)

4 Cabal Therapy

2 Putrid Imp

4 Mesmeric Fiend

4 Dimir Infiltrator

4 Zombie Infestation

4 Deep Analysis

1 Golgari Thug

1 Life from the Loam

4 Stinkweed Imp

4 Psychatog

4 Ichorid, love

4 Golgari Grave-Troll

6 Swamp

4 Yavimaya Coast

3 Underground River

2 Barren Moor

1 Island

1 Cephalid Coliseum

1 Cabal Pit

1 Watery Grave

1 Forest

1 Petrified Field


4 Putrefy

3 Arcane Laboratory

2 Sickening Dreams

2 Withered Wretch

1 Ray of Revelation

1 Naturalize

1 Darkblast

1 Legacy Weapon

If you’d like to spend more than an hour reading how I got to point: finally done from point:two freakin’ months prior, click here to start at the beginning, which is the extended 12″ dance remix version. Otherwise, you must guess. But you may not dance.

Getting there:

I drove. The selected tunes were limited to one: “Gonna Fly Now,” which you may know as the theme from Rocky. Then again, you might not, but know it, for it is times that are good, and if after listening, you don’t feel ready to beat the ever living snot out of Mr. T, Drago and Thunderlips at the same time, and bed down Nicolas Cage’s aunt when you’re done, well, then, listen again.

The Atmosphere:





In the house were three Magic chick nerds with asses much nicer than their boyfriends deserved, for 20 year-old Magic nerds cannot fully comprehend the complexity (and yet, utter simplicity) of the female buttocks, nor can they appreciate that, within a few years, the asses on the chicks they’re with then will not look nor feel anything like the asses they’re with now. For me, fellas, please, for me, savor the moment.

In addition to the pleasant rear views, there were Magic nerds from the woodworks, I’m talking most of the Crossroad geeks – you know the names, and if not, guess – and what appeared to be a large contingency from The Land That Kennedy Wrought.

The only true name player, other than Joseph Kambourakis, was Mouth, who apparently managed to Escape From L.A. with dignity, if not rating points, intact.

How do you catch up with twenty nerds at once? Very carefully. Charlie, he of Thee Merchant Marines (ret.), 2Cute Camire, Liberal Chet The Leftist Norton Pinko, Eric Used To Suck At Magic Corriveau, Pop to the Jackal, Cory To The Abrams, (Still not a real) DJ, and even Alex Random Guy, in tow with Silent Mike Dupre, all joined hands and sang “Achy Breaky Heart” as we reminisced of the joys of getting up at four in the morning, packing dozens up in numerous rides and headin’ down the highway to PTQ it. What the hell were any of us thinking?

This lovefest was interrupted by none other than Mouth, who attempted to educate me on the evils that are one Jamie C. Satansownfield. I listened patiently and nodded at appropriate moments as Mouth unleashed his dissertation. When the critique du King o’ Fatty was complete, I was certain that nothing he said convinced me that Wakefield was or is a dick.

Hence, Jamie C. Probablyisntad*ckfield, you remain safely ensconced in the glass case reserved for my original, old-school power animal. But don’t take my fanboyishness for granted – I’m a fickle son-of-a-bitch! Aw, c’mere, Jamie C. Teddybearfield, I was jus’ kiddin’. Here, I’ll sign your Grave-Troll, all better.

118 freakin’ nerds in at Maine’s Firstest PTQest Everest

7 rounds of love

118? Wow, that’s like, a lot. I also heard that Maine States drew more than Mass States this year, even sans y tu. Maine: we’re not as liberal as Massachusetts, but we’re tryin’!

Round One: Pierce O’Toole – Goblins

He had an awful lot of goblins that had abilities that seemed way too good for goblins. Since I didn’t test against the little Red peckerheads, I’m clueless. Since I don’t know what these little bastards do, I’m clueless. But I’m good at Magic, and that’s enough.

I lose the first game because of the first paragraph.

In game two, I have ‘Tog, two Ichys coming back next turn, and a Fiend holding Piledriver. He’s at seven with no creatures and one card in hand – I attempt Thy Rape, just to make sure nothing is too fishy. “Patriarch’s Bidding,” cry I. It’s an Overgrown Tomb, and now I know he has to top deck a miracle to win. He draws his card…

Me: You did not just draw it…!

He says nothing, merely tosses six or seven hasty goblins into play and kills me to death.

and a tough beat, not the optimal start, but I can deal…

To clear my head and offer sweet affirmations of just how good I am at Magic, I took me a little stroll ’round downtown Standish, which consists of Crossroads, a pizza shop and a convenience store that’s closed for the season. But they have a blinking red light at a four-way intersection = growing cosmopolitan metropolis.

One loss, no need to panic.

He was very fortunate to draw his Bidding.

I was very unfortunate to not draw my Bidding.

I am Johnny Focus Factor.

Round Two: Christian Davis – Elves/Epic Struggle

I Therapy in the blind turn 1 and see: Seeker of Skybreak, Zur’s Weirding and a bunch of land. I don’t think I tested against this deck.

Next turn I drop Infestation and exchange six cards for Three Professionals. Ichy comes back to join the onslaught, and Troll feeds the yard like a nut. Christian drops a couple 1/1 elves into play while I plop Guys With Career Earnings onto the board and love myself for eight with flashback Analysis times two. Smashing. Pumpkins.

Game two consisted of a few Elvish Soulstillers (no, not Soul Steelers) threatening to do some damage. Ichy and his crew of assorted Top 8 Machines saw that no harm came to their master, for when you’re facing an endless onslaught of bitter 3/1s and infinite 2/2s, even the Steelers couldn’t do much about it.

We played a third game for fun and he beat the ever loving snot out of me to death when it didn’t matter one single bit. Gee, that rarely happens.

and I’m not so sure…

Nevertheless, I took me another leisurely walk in the park. Concentrate, focus, screw down, get up offa that thang. Bring it on, dawgs.

Round Three: Brandon Todasco – Heartbeat

In the first game, I manage to snag Heartbeat, Mind’s Desire and something else he kinda wanted, since Thy Rape + Ichy = plain ol’ stupid. My godly draw has him dead on turn 4 – but ah, Danielsan, he has Moment’s Peace.

He flashes back Peace next turn, and then Wishes for another. He had his three fogs, then died, real grisly like to three Ichys and a horde of Pro Players With Big Smiles.

Brandon: Cool deck.

Me: Aw, shanks….

In the second game, he mulliganed to five, I helped a brother out with my turn 2 Fiend that saw Forest, Rampant Growth and three cards that weren’t land. No decision there, stunt him to death. Immediately thereafter, ‘Tog! shows his toothy grin and does the nasty to his life total. Not that it took me about an hour to figure it out or anything.

“I think [against Heartbeat], you just want to shred their hand and kill them as fast as possible.”

-Miracle Max


2-1 and feelin’ it…

Another saunter in which I told myself I am completely unstoppable. Win next round and I’m 3-1 and facing good decks – the decks I prepared for, the decks I know cannot possibly handle multiple Ichys, let along Thy Rape that comes along for the ride.

Round Four: Brian Phillips – Affinity

He starts with a double mulligan, so I make it quick. Turn 2 Infestation drops The Ruel Brothers into play, and Troll into the hamper, who begat Ichys, who begat Therapy to take care of business.

Game two sees his Pithing Needle name “Pernicious Deed,” and me breathe a sigh of relief. I drop Infestation and start wondering how long until I can I.D. into the Top 8. Until he drops his entire hand, fills it, drops it again, then puts Cranial Plating on Blinkmoth and serves for a billion. Hey, that guy flies…

The third game is more of the same, save for him naming “Zombie Infestation” with Needle. Hey, that card has a colon! I probably could have fought back if I wasn’t stuck with Underground River and Coliseum, and if I remembered that Blinkmoth flies – only happened last game, shouldn’t be too hard…

I’m at twelve, post served-your-face, with three Glossy Inserts and Infiltrator on the board to block and two Ichys – he’s at thirteen with Enforcer, Rav and (invisible) Blinky, plus unattached Plating with six artifacts. He has another Plating in hand, so I gotta make some kind of move. I flashback Analysis, dredge stuff, and go to eight, which was not actually very much of a move when you get right down to it.

He untaps, equips and serves rather large with Blinky, who is now visible and who still flies, even one game later.

As we’re packing up, I mention that I have the feeling I gave that game away somehow and Brian is kind enough to let me know that flashing back Analysis, which put me in Blinky range, was a little hasty, for all I needed to do was one (maybe two) more alpha strike and it’s me that’s 3-1 and off to face the real players with real decks, instead of going into random land against players with, well, the kind of decks that I would make.

I was okay with the loss, sort of, until I was made aware that, yep, I do indeed suck at Magic. Wow, here’s the match because I’m too f***in’ stupid to realize that my deck, the deck built around Ichy as pretty much the primary win condition, should sometimes sit the f*** back and let him f****ing win the f***in’ game, you stupid mother f***er!

What a dumb ass piece of mother-lovin’ ass grabbin’ fruity d*ckcheese I am. It’s not bad enough to forget that Blinky flies, two games in a row no less, but to throw the game away by flashing back for no apparent reason other than because I like to take it to my own dome for no apparent freakin’ reason.

2-2 and the goal is not going to be realized and I suck at Magic….

I promised myself I could screw down and finish up 5-2: deep inside, Johnny Quan, you have the flava’; bring it, and thou shall feel a’ight at the end of the day. But.

If ever the life, the will, and the desire to bear down, can be sucked from a human’s bean all at once… At this moment, I’m the poster child for just that.

Normally, I’d shrug it off: I suck, I proved it, and all is right with the world. But this time, I truly believed I didn’t suck and would prove it and the world turns upside down. It’s hard enough to come back from a tough beat, but when said beat was self-inflicted, well, it passes hard and goes right to nearly insurmountable.

I told myself I have what it takes to win out. I told myself the deck will take you where you need to go, all you need to do is let it. I told myself a lot of things, none of which could erase the fact that I evidently preferred to be 2-2 instead of 3-1.

Round Five: Nate Marques – Affinity

I Therapy in the dark for Cranial Plating: pow, hit the bin. Next turn, he drops his hand: Ornithopter, Frogmite, two Arcbounds, and more Welding Jars than I’ve ever seen in my life, which, before this day, was a grand total of zero.

I stabilize at eight with ‘TOG! and a couple Stars On Ice. Then he serves with everything, I block like I know what I’m doing, and then he says:

Nate: Before damage…

He sacs a land to whatever ‘TOG! is blocking – I remove from the bin. He does it again, I remove. Finally, he sacs the now big dood and plops the counters on another guy that’s blocked. Then he feeds his lands and Jars to said guy. I’m wondering what the hell’s going on, since I have about fifty cards in hand and can swarm him to death next turn…

When he’s down to a feeble 0/2 flyer for zero and the billion/billion Ravager, he sacs that too and puts the counters on the unblocked ‘Thopter.

Nate: Okay, I’m ready to put damage on the stack.

I guess I should have seen that coming? Well, yeah, if you’d have bothered to play in the last two years. You guys probably know that play by rote. Why didn’t you tell me! I managed to exhale, scratched my diz, then readied for game two. Bloody as hell.

He played a turn 1 Frogmite, I played a turn 2 Infestation and dumped my hand. This put the brakes on his aggression, but he quickly refilled and dropped 2 Hoverguard. Good thing I had three Stinkers in the crapper, two of which came to play.

Three Stinkers in the crapper.

Combined with Tournament Deck Bonus Cards and three Ichys, Nate didn’t have to like life so much. Particularly since I discovered Ichy has haste and can be brought back turn after turn, regardless of whether you take three or make a trade. Thus Spake Zarathustra, Thus Smashed Ichy. Until he was all dead.

3-2 and pretending to be on the way back…

Yes, I could go 5-2, but I was still reeling from the fourth round stupidity. Getting that out of my head was not going to happen anytime soon. That’s the difference between still being in it, and playing for pride, nine packs, blah who gives a sh** – I’m sick to death of playing for pride, or just because … I wanted top f***ing eight.

How could I have deluded myself that I, my deck, and our combined Top 8 aspirations, had a chance in hell of coming to pass? I think I need to work on myself – I must be that far gone; that far removed from reality. Seriously, I thought I could make top eight. I, me, not kiddin’ around, thought I could make top eight. With this deck.

Round Six: Dave Meier – Affinity Standstill

I take a mulligan and come out with a turn 2 Fiend. He lays down his hand and boy what a hand it is, all eight cards. I hesitate for about five seconds then call a judge. That Australian judge – you know him, Ian Fleming – strides over, ready to administer justice.

Ian: G’day, mates.

Me: He has eight cards on turn two.

Ian looks at his James Bond-style waterproof watch/camera/bazooka, makes a quick call to Q, hems and haws for another moment, then nods to Moneypenny:

Ian: ‘At’s a game loss! Oi oi oi!

I was 99.5% sure that Dave wasn’t trying to cheat – his claim that two Pithing Needles stuck together seemed plausible, and they were right there on the end. I tried to feel a little guilty, but in reality, I don’t give a f***. Simple error, okay, I’ll buy it (mostly), and I didn’t expect a game loss, but you’re staring at your cards in hand – even if two cards *invisibly* stick together, doesn’t the sheer volume feel different?

Dave was very cool about it, amicable even, which at the time made matters much easier for everyone involved, but now that I think about it… Maybe he was too cool. I’m not saying he’s a sketchy character, but in the world of One Day Later, sometimes the big picture tends to look different. And feel different.

With the memory of my turn 2 kill fresh in his mind, Dave quickly dumps his hand, I quickly dump mine, he refills before I do, then drops Standstill. As it appears to me, the board is a push – I figure he’ll be the one who has to bust the ‘Still, for it’s me that can invent hasty creatures and make tokens, neither of which involve me playing a spell.

Since I suck at understanding Affinity, I misread the board when I tried to put on the pressure. He blocked three of my things and moved counters around like his uncle is shop steward in a counter moving around factory, and when all was said and done, he’s got himself a 500/500 Ornithopter. Good thing he doesn’t have a Plating too. I break the ‘Still, Desperately Seeking Stinky, he draws his three and Shraps me out of my misery.

Game three I drop a turn 2 Fiend and see:

Shrapnel Blast

Shrapnel Blast




2 lands

I am not long for this life, and he even says something along the lines of “as soon as I draw aggro,” complete with accompanying expression that doesn’t look good for me. I take a Blast and hope I don’t get stuck on two land, both of which are hurters.

He draws and drops Ornithopter, and passes it over. Gee, I’d like to draw a land so I can play any one of these three-mana spells, including Putrefy, ‘Tog and Stinky. Nope, go.

Dave feels my pain, then drops a bunch of free stuff, Plating and commences to scare me like a blue-eyed, blonde-haired stepchild. Okay, I like, better draw a land here. Nope, go.

Repeat the above paragraph.


3-3 and why do I even bother…

This is the part where I tell you all about how The Gipper came up in here and told me to win one for him. Even if he did, I woulda said “F*** off, I hate Notre Dame!”

Round Seven: Sean Morgan – Seismic Lock

I Therapy in the dark, see five lands, Life From the Loam and Tribe-Elder. Next turn, instead of playing Infestation, I Fiend him and see: Seismic Assault. I snatch it up and beat him down, all the way to 19.

Sean cycles, dredges, cycles some more and plays Elder. He doesn’t look too worried about 2 Fiends on the board, which should be The Ruels and The Great One instead. Naturally, I play Infestation now, when it might be considered “um, a little too late,” and have nothing because I’m a d*ck who didn’t play Infestation on turn 2.

Capt. Morgan does his thing, which mostly involved getting fifty lands in his hand, Assault down and killing me to death, not to mention my 8/8 Grave-Troll.

I side in Wretch and wonder why.

I play Infestation on turn 2, with Wretch in hand for love. Next turn, when I actually drop Wretch, he Putrefys it. Wee, I got one card. No, wouldn’t want to wait until there was actually something important in the bin before you played him…

I got him to twelve and was in full control, despite my best efforts to the contrary, when he played Solitary Confinement – with a handful o’ lands and Loam in the bin.

I read Confinement about ten times, and once I was assured I had absolutely no out, I drew and passed the turns, letting him take his time and off me proper because that’s a cool combo: straight from the kitchen table. (Yes, I remember someone played something like it in LA or at one of the GPs, but I haven’t used “kitchen table” in this entire article, and am required to do so by my contract. Obligation: filled.)

3-4 and I have no comment…

8-7 game-wise, better than .500 and I’m counting the game loss. Woo.

Deep deck analysis:

Number of times I mulliganed: 3

Number of times my opponents did: 9, because their mana bases suck

Number of times I transmuted: 1, for Life From the Loam

Number of games in which I cast Life From the Loam: 2

Number of times I cast Infiltrator: 2

Number of points of unblockable damage he did: 2

Number of times I removed him for Ichorid: about 12

Number of times I cast Grave-Troll: 1

Total amount of damage he did, ever: 0

Approximate percentage of all damage done by Psychatog: 15

By Ichorid: 45

By tokens: 40

Number of times I cast a sideboarded card: 2

Number of times I needed to: more than 2

Number of times I cast…

Naturalize: 1

Puterfy: 0

Wretch: 1

Darkblast: 0

Sickening Dreams: 0

Arcane Laboratory: 0

Ray of Revelation: 0

Number of cards raped by Therapy: approximately 15

Number of times Ichy was the fodder: that is the coolest play in all of Magic.

Number of times I used Coliseum: 0

Number of times I used Cabal Pit: 0

Number of errors made because I don’t understand the intricacies of Affinity: plenty.

Number of errors made because I don’t understand the intricacies of Goblins: wow.

I would play this deck again in a heartbeat, with minor modifications yet-to-be-discovered. The question is: will I drive all the way to freakin’ Mass to play this deck again? The greater question is: this deck apparently sucks, why did I think it was, and still think it can be, the cat’s ass? Am I that f***ing stupid or what?

Still, I went 3-4 in my first PTQ in like, four years or something, and with a homemade deck tested, tweaked and tuned in virtual solitude. Gee, when you put it like that, it makes me feel, well, no, I still feel like sh**, thanks.

Top 8:

1. Ron White – Heartbeat

2. Brendan O’Donnell – ‘Tog

3. Eric Corriveau – Madness ‘Tog

4. Dustin Beckinmeyer – Boros Deck Makes Top 4

5. Cory Abrams – Heartbeat

6. Go Anan – ‘Tog

7. Mouth – ‘Tog

8. Ryan Bressard – Moreno-ish ‘Tog

Number of name players: 1

Number of Crossroads players: 2

I realize there are a number of people who do not like Mouth, nor enjoy him, nor even offer him random ups, be they big, medium or little. Then there are those who appreciate his, ahem, acerbic – some may say caustic – wit. Well gather ’round and prick up yer ears, there’s a little sumthin’ sumthin’ for all y’all.

Quarterfinals: Mouth v. Brendan O’Donnell – ‘Tog v. ‘Tog v. Try To Stay Awake

The first five or six turns ordinarily go like this: “end of your turn, fetch, draw, drop land, go.” Forgive me if I don’t present those details, and instead offer brief plays that may or may not be interesting, which is not nearly as fascinating as reading “he draws and says go” for ten pages.

Game one:

Mouth mulliganed a one-lander, and immediately after, Brenden cast Mental Note on Mouth’s end step. And got Life From the Loam. Ouch.

Mouth cast a successful Edict on Brendan’s ‘Tog, after he feigned enough weakness that Brendan believed it was safe to go back in the water.

Brenden cast Loam on turn 6, Mouth responded with Gifts, Brendan countered, Mouth Mana Leaked and asked “you got Force Spike?” Silly question.

Mouth maintained his composure and didn’t throw anything. Pretty much.

Game two:

Mouth cracked Cephalid Coliseum in response to Brendan casting Genesis, found Logic and got it countered. This allowed Mouth to cast his own Genesis next turn.

The next turn, Brendan’s Genesis attacked and the Genesises’s’es’ traded. One of them had a Coffin Purge and one of them scooped a turn later. You must guess.

Though, in defense of Mouth: Brendan got his Loam in both games, drew his Duress for Smother, and had the Force Spike at the right time, not to mention a seemingly endless supply of counters. He also played what appeared to be a very tight game. Cool, calm, collected; an emotionless rock, even when Mouth was kind enough to point out to yours truly that Brendan got the wrong lands back with Loam.

Now, to please both Mouth Haters and Mouth Lovers in the same sentence:

Mouth made Top 8 and gets a three hour drive home to think about it.

Brendan def. Mouth

Ryan def. Ron

Go def. Eric

Dustin def. Cory

Thus, you have a Top 4 of 3 ‘Tog and a singular Boros. Eric and Cory (our local Crossroad nerds) got a box, a pin and a “get the hell out and let real players at it” from Darwin and Rob. Those guys, such kidders because they have a combined 148 final days between them.

Alas, ‘Tog knocked off ‘Tog, and Boros, much as expected, hit the bricks for the edge-of-your-seat, Go Anan v. Ryan Bressard ‘Tog v. ‘Tog finals!

One thing about Go Anan: He is one seriously fascinating character to watch: his concentration borders on legendary. He observes the game state in silence, as if he were both an omnipotent and omnipresent… thing, merely waiting for the events he has predetermined to go and happen up in here, go and happen up in here.

I asked a judge guy who wasn’t wearing a “Hello, I’m Judge____!” name tag what Go’s ethnicity was, since “Asian” kind of encompasses, like, a lot. You will never, ever, in a million years guess the country of origin of the guy who won the PTQ, and is Johnny Omni-Master… Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Minor cute note:

It’s customary, when you’re ready to end your turn, to say “go.” But all of Go’s opponents would point at him, wave him along, or otherwise indicate verbally that they were done.

Opponent: Play this guy, go.

Go: What?

Opponent: Go.

Go: That’s me, bastard, who’s on first?

I asked Brenden, then Chris, to sum up the entire day (of 118 players and oh so much gamy gaming and assorted money making) in one word:

Brenden: Zang!

Chris: Neato! Geekfest!

I’ll go with all of the above, but add in

F***! and Sh**! and I really thought I could top eight with that deck? What could I possibly have been thinking: me with The Best Net Deck is about 100-1 to Top 8 in a field of 99 players.

“I have to aim high – there has to be something worth striving for, and golly, going 4-3 ain’t it. If I don’t make it, at least I’ll go down fighting…”

-Me, up there apiece

Going 3-4 ain’t it either. As for the “go down fighting” aspect… Well, I guess I could pretend I did, but at the end of the day, I know the truth. How f***ed is that? They say: “When a man stares into the abyss, he sees his true self.”

There is no happy ending, for the goal was lost and abandoned in the middle of act II. At least I only have a forty-minute drive home. Probably still get lost.

15. Retro(per)spective

After such a crushing blow to an ego that was so out of whack that they spelled it “wack,” I wondered if I was even going to send this in. Welcome to the world of the great equalizer: a man, a vehicle and a lonely road. This is “The Drive Back To The Crib,” where you get plenty of time to take stock and either keep it for life or try to sell short.

I shook my head a lot. A bunch of sighs. But when I got home, right there in the spot where I set my keys and assorted equipment was an envelope addressed to “John F. Rizzo” from “Star City Games.”

Inside was a check, pay to the order of moi. That was a fairly cool moment of serendipity in a decidedly non-serendipitous day, especially since I never even asked to be paid (yet!), but the kicker, the icing, the cream that made such a crappy ass day rife with personal angst and setback worthwhile was in the lower left hand corner:

FOR __Writer__

A long time ago, a scrubby hack submisssionist wrote:

“The search is all that matters.”

Five years later, I ponder those words and ask but one question:

Is it?

I choose to believe that it is.

Because I have to.

It’s The American Way.

21:00:43 – frigginrizzo has disconnected, 7751 minutes later.

John Friggin’ Rizzo