Yep, woke up on time, and even took a shower. I know, I know – but hey, once a year, what the heck.
Pulling into the lot across from Crossroads, I felt like I was going to throw up. A lot. But I didn’t, and if that’s not a very good reason to skip breakfast, then I don’t know what to tell you.
Okay, got the bag and equipment and whatnot, and here I go.
Outside the door – no one I know. Close one.
But opening the door, I’m suddenly accosted by peeps I do indeed know, or used to know as the case may be.
Let’s see… Yep, everybody.
And they’re not mad.
Just like it goes with guys and stuff, ten minutes of”sup?” and”sup?” and a”sup?” throw in for good measure, and it’s back to the old school.
Guys rule. I’d like to be a chyk if it wasn’t for the fact that guys are disgusting and chyx are so goddamned tight as hell. The only regret that I’m sure I’ll always have is that I can’t make out with evey chyx on the face of the planet. Good thing I have that”married” excuse.
I pulled the printed out decklist from my bag o’tricks and thought about filling out a deck reg, when DJ (not a real DJ) suggested that perhaps I could just affix my list to the reg and be done with it. That DJ (not a real DJ), you gotta hand it to him. And that’s what I did – I handed it to him and watched him or Alex or someone more official looking than I staple some love up in here.
And then Brenden tossed me a foily Battle of Wits. All I could think of was”Gauno bowl – collect the set.” I guess I did. And that, my friends is what they call a”harbinger.”
Now I have four. Everyone better duck.
Round 1: Justin Gade, U/G madness thing that I sorta remember from back in the day
Our asses get sat down at 11:15 and listen to Alex and Brenden give the speech. You know the speech, right?
“All right, all cheaters will be shot. Twice. Etc, blah, drone on and whatnot.”
While I’m shuffling my deck fulla heh, Justin’s doing the same. And I get to see an Island. And Werebear.
Does not bode well for Johnny Come Lately.
Game 1: Johnny Glade drops Nimble Mongoose, Wild Mongrel, and a pair of Werebears right quick fast in a hurry. And the funny thing about opening up 2x Terror and a Chainer’s Edict is that it kinda kills stuff. But as you may or may not know, U/G can produce more than three guys per game. And that’s exactly what he did.
I’m fairly certain that my beatdown of Nantuko Shade and Jonathan Magic ain’t getting it done against a pair of 6/6 Wonder Boyz. That was fair.
Game 2: Bog Gnarr Glade hits the curve, with dudes on the first four turns, but again, I’m able to stave off death by finding some of my bazillion kill spells. However, at the end of turn 4 I Tainted Pact, feigning the deperation that was about to rear it’s ugly head up in.
Top card: Nantuko Shade. Nope, he’s not gettin’ it done, thanks… But it took me a minute to figure that out. Okay, so I’ll turn over a Swamp and a Swamp and heh on me.
I’m at nine and need a miracle. Untap and draw… A shiny Battle of Wits. Aw, that’s not quite fair. However, I resist the urge to slam it onto the table, instead opting for sheepishly and very gently placing it. Justin looks quite unhappy.
But I bet I didn’t.
Nevertheless, he untaps, draws and serves for eight. Twenty – nineteen = Heh on math. Shiny Wits is neat.
Game 3: That Werebear with threshold is going to kill me until I find… Drudge Skeletons.
This is where I say”heh.” And so do you.
Next turn, J drops Standstill and I’m more than content to stand quite still… Until I realize that he probably has Wonder and is waiting to accumulate eight cards and pitch it during his discard phase/step thingy.
Fair. Five turns with no pressure and I can’t find anything that doesn’t suck. Wonder hits the bin and it’s all over but my scooping. So then I scooped and it was all over.
(I forget how to look like I’m trying to look cool. Man, it’s been so long.)
Oddly, no one was the least surprised that I did not win. I was quite stoked to be able to say”hey, at least I won a game.”
But oh, when you ask peeps how they did, you better get out the crying towels.
Me: How’d you do, bitch?
Someone: First game…blah, blah, etc, et. al, ad infinitum…
Me: Did you freakin’ win or freakin’ lose?
Someone: Well, if he hadn’t…
Me: Have a nice day, dawg.
Round 2: Jeff”Nobody Ever Called Me ‘Thawing'” Glacier, Tog
Right about now, the room is abuzz that someone is playing Finkel’s deck. I heard that Finkel played Battle at the Invitational, thus they deduct that I’m the someone playing Finkel’s deck.
Um, okay. That’s precisely what I’m doing. Yeppers.
Game 1: Thawing is so intimidated at the size of my deck that he promptly double mulligans.
My turn 2 Millikin gets Smothered, but my turn three Think Tank causes him no concern. But it should. I fill my hand with so much love that I had to take a break and enjoy some of said love. Okay; a Tutor, Insidious Dreams and five counters. As I recall, Tog is all about kinda trying to win on one turn. Five counters say that ain’t gonna happen. Ever.
Then Thawing Masta drops Future Sight. Interesting card, kinda, but it just ain’t getting it done, especially when I get off Opportunity, three Deep Analysis, and a Concentrate for spite. The Wits comes down on about turn 30 with much too much counter backup. Oddly enough, it sticks.
Here’s the thing about Wits: Once it’s apparent they have one turn to live, it gets all weird. They draw and don’t find an answer, then they stare at Wits almost in disbelief. Being the humble feller that I am, I try not to say something along the lines of”Well, sup dawg?”
Still, Thawing stares at Wits, making a brother sorta sweat – not really, okay, a little, but not much. And he shakes his head. A lot. It takes him about three minutes to scoop ’em up, but he does.
Game 2: Turn 2 Howling Mine. Turn 5 Howling Mine. Heh, Okay, maybe I can deck him.
About turn 15 I draw Wits and sneak a Peek at EOT to find Force Spike, 2x Memory Lapse, and Mana Short. I have only one Counterspell, Duress and Sleight of Hand… But enough mana to do it all.
Thusly, I Duress and he Lapses. Okay, one counter gone. Well, guess I’d better play Sleight of Hand and uh, maybe I’ll get that Duress back. Heh, that’s worth another Lapse. Okay, two down and I have seven mana left and I sure hope that he didn’t have a Logic that I didn’t see.
I drop the Wits and all he can do is stare. He thinks for about five minutes, then Mana Shorts me at the end of the turn. Yep, he’s got one turn and three cards to find Upheaval. Doesn’t happen – and again, it’s back to staring at the Wits. And not liking it very much.
Heh, who beats Tog with a big ol’ deck fulla heh?
(Ok, I think it’s coming back to me. Yep, looking away makes you look cool.)
Someone: Did you win?
Me: Yep; you?
Someone: Dude got so lucky…
Me: And I can’t wait to hear all about it. Go ahead and get started and I’ll be… Uh, over there.
Round 3: Alex Shell, Punisher-Type Thing
Peeps are fairly impressed by the size of my deck. I’m not sure why though.
Game 1: Draw – go for three turns until Alex, playing many many Mountains, plays Browbeat. Okay, that’s a fair card. I think for a moment”quite unfair and thanks for letting red have a good punisher card,” then take five points of punish.
Next turn, he does it again. Again, I take the five and leave him looking desperately low on cards. But now I’m at ten with only three cards – and he has Mountains.
Heh; who gets to Deflection a Skullscorch? And then end up taking six from two Fiery Tempers? Tight. For him. 2x Barbarian Ring ends my misery and leaves me wondering what the hell I’m supposed to do about Browbeat. I guess I should usually probably often sometimes take the five. Maybe.
Game 2: I’m all about drawing Insidious Dreams up in here and four mana can’t get here fast enough. And certainly not when a friggin’ SEVEN/ONE guy comes to smash my face. Ow.
For years I remember hearing”he’s no Ball Lightning” in every new set review. Oops, this guy is.
Fiery Temper here and Violent Eruption there, and am I ever gonna get to four mana?
Alas, I get and drop Wits and pray at a precariously low life total, but a five-point Earthquake ends my dreams, insidious or otherwise.
What a freakin’ tease.
(All right, I’ve just gone from”cool” to”most definitely bad ass.” Pow.)
Someone: Did you win?
Me: Nope, you?
Someone: He drew three Duresses…
Me: No way! Really?
Me: Wow, tell me all about how nothing that ever went wrong in your life is your fault.
Me: Tommy Maddox is the shizzou.
Someone: So, uh, did you win?
Round 4: Ashley Vigg, U/G madnes thingy
Heh, I’m 0-4-1 lifetime vs. chyx. But that was in my old lifetime.
Game 1: Wow, I’m tight. I’m in the midst of being beaten to death by lots of little green guys, when I think I actually know how to play Magic. I end of turn Dreams for three and get…
Evacuation, Persuasion, and Wits, in that order.
I wait until Ashley serves for a hella lot, then Evacuate that stuff back up in her. She looks fairly sad at this turn of events and says”go.” I stare into her pretty damned cute eyes and say,”you sure?”
Howard Merrill, who was watching (and whom I defeated at least year’s States by a hair), later confided that I am quite a gentleman. She recasts all her boyz – then I untap and steal an Arrogant Wurm, which oddly, along with my Merfolk Looter, is going to be just enough to keep me alive for two more turns.
Gentleman, perhaps… But stealing fatties is not very nice. But hey, I’m trying to live here. That okay with you guys?
Yep, that Wurm is the shizzou, and keeps me sitting pretty when I drop Wits. All she can do is not draw an answer and serve me to one. And stare at Wits. For a long time. And then stare a little more. And finally figure out that I’m kinda annoying. Even if I didn’t mean to be.
Game 2: Little dudes come up in here like clockwork for my girl, but a counter here and a kill spell there is letting me think that I’ll have plenty of life when I drop the turn 5 Wits.
I do and I do. All she can do is stare. I think because I’m kinda cute and she was oh so smitten. Yep, pretty sure that’s it.
(Man, somebody better do something – I’m in danger of being too cool for school.)
Someone: You win?
Me: I can only pray that you will drop soon and not draft. Ever.
Round 5: Cassie Quintal, Squirrels – no, seriously, a lot of freakin’ Squirrels
So I sit down and fall in love. No, I mean it was worse than that. If Cassie would’ve asked me to run away with her right then and there, I’m sure I’d be finishing this report from some forbidden love nest. Alas, she didn’t ask. But I bet she really wanted to.
Ever hear the word”adorable?” That’s Cassie. Sure, she’s probably like eighteen or so and I’m kinda not and I’m married and all forsaken to all others and whatnot and I probably disgusted her in oh so many ways, but damn if she isn’t fairly bombay.
You’ll always have a special place in my heart. But move over.
Same goes for you. Well, sorta.
Okay, Jill just has a tendency to just rule a little too much to move over
In fact, a little ode to Cassie:
Cassie, oh Cassie, how doth thy garden grow?
I used to be semi-famous sorta kinda a little bit, in case you didn’t know.
Impressed? I thought not, but c’mon, I’m kinda cool
Even if you were like four when I was graduating from high school.
Game 1: Wait a minute here – who’s the beatdown again? Looks like me with turn 2 Shade, turn 3 JonJonMagic, and a fistulla denial and kill.
She manages to drop more Squirrels than is humanly possible, but each can do nothing but stand in front of Shade and take one for the team. Jonny’s keeping my hand chubby as hell, dawg… And when I Deflect a Squirrel’s Nest to one of my lands, it’s all over but the shouting. And fawning. And drooling.
Game 2: I’m starting to think that Wits ain’t all that, and remember that I used to love smashing face with Shade. Oh, indeed I enjoyed it more than a little bit.
Cassie, fresh Cassie, drops two Squirrel Mobs and a coupla Chatters up in here, but bounce and counters and kill and finally a Persuasion on her 6cc Imitation Deranged Hermit Guy make life tight for me. Of course, Deflecting another Nest adds to the joy in Mudville – which in this case, must be my adopted hometown.
And then a pair of Psychatogs join the mix. With Dreams and Tutor in my hand, I just couldn’t do it. Wits is kinda cheap, dawg, especially when you’re beating down with stolen Squirrels. 3/3 Squirrels.
The thing about green is that it can often find and make dudes from nowhere. Alas, even a train stops, and when I’m pumping out a Squirrel per turn backed up with two Togs, might makes right and the good guy wins. But I wanted the game to last a lot longer – like forever. On a deserted island.
(Yes, I’m trying to get Cassie to smolder at the camera. Um, purely for aesthetic reasons.)
(This is my expression after I said”If you feel the need to kiss me, go ahead.” After a stone-cold diss and one broken heart later, I realized that, yep, I get to take these pics home with me. And that sure helped.)
Someone: Where’s Rizzo?
Someone else: I think he went into the bathroom to uh, be”alone.”
In fact, I was in the bathroom. And I took a pic. Heh.
(I don’t really know what to say about this one, other than I brought my camera into the bathroom and took a pic in the mirror. And you thought you had problems?)
Round 6: Jason Roy, W/G/r
By now, the fondness for my big deck has worn off, but not for me. Supaheh.
Game 1: Apparently, it’s really hard to kill Anurid Brushhopper… But I did. And that’s all I did. I was so happy that I didn’t notice that Jason pitched two Roars at one time to save it.
But I sure did when he flashed them back on successive turns. But I killed a Brushhopper.
I tried to triple -lock a Roar token with two Togs and a Looter, and Jason threw a Violent Eruption at one Tog in response. Me, finding Deflection a little confusing in this situation, called a judge, who confirmed that yes, I can Deflect it back somewhere else.
After thinking for about five minutes and realizing that no matter what I did all three of my guys were going to die and so was the Roar, I sat and thought for another minute. And was pretty happy that if I chose to Deflect the Eruption, I damned well could. Too bad there wasn’t anything I could kill with it.
Game 2: Engineered Plague for Beasts slows the pain, but when Jason Living Wishes for that 4/4 sac a beast and gain life guy, it looks fairly bad for the guy who has a freakin’ Wits in hand but can’t get to five mana. Ever.
It took a while, but he managed to get lethal just as I peeled the fifth land. Wits hit, but as they say, it just wasn’t enough. I didn’t want to cry. Much.
(While I am certainly fairly bad ass in this pic, my hair, or lack thereof, is not green. And I’m kinda jealous that when I was eighteen, I was wearing parachute pants. And I thought I was cool. Why, oh why, didn’t someone tell me that I wasn’t?)
Someone: Is your deck tight?
Me: Tighter than eighth grade, dawg.
Someone: Hells, our eighth graders got kids in third grade.
Apparently, eighth grade isn’t as tight as I remember.
Round 7: Eric Columbe, G/R
Heh, feature match. Nope, you don’t have to be good; you just have to be a semi-celebrity.
Game 1: Me: turn 4 Tutor, turn 5 Wits.
Game 2: Me: turn 4 Tutor, turn 5 Wits.
Yes, I felt extremely dirty, especially when E took his last turns and stared at Wits. For a very long time.
He was not pleased, and I’m pretty sure that neither was I. But I did get three packs for winning a feature match. Heh; packs. Why not give me something I can actually use, like say, feminine hygiene products or something?
(Blame Alex, who turned the camera sideways because he thinks he’s a friggin’ artiste with an accent over the e at the end.)
What? Who finished 4-3 with a 340-card deck and forgot to give back Brenden’s foily Battle of Wits? You know who it is, but you’re not sure why.
And did Johnny actually defeat two members of the awesomer sex? Life is broken.
35th place our of 103 peeps. Uh, okay.
Then I did some match coverage for Crossroads’ site… And lemme tell you just how easy that is when you have to ask what every friggin’ card does. More than once I referred to one of those crazy duals as”one of those tappy saccy thingies.”
Of course, that’s what they’re really called anyway.
One pic for posterity:
(Darrin Emery, 0-1 vs. me on the left and Kyle Whitten on the left. And I’m standing on a freakin’ chair for no reason.)
In the meantime, I handed over the camera to Alex and/or DJ (still fake as hell, dawg) and asked them to get me some flavor text kinda shots. Here’s what they interpreted that to mean:
(That’s Andrew The Answer Boy, who apparently, ran out of answers. Big time.)
(Two words: Josh Bennett is no longer king.)
(There’s J-Bone, who made top eight. If you look in the foreground, you’ll see a computer that once had it’s wallpaper set to my archives. Not sure who would do such a wacky thing, but some random jerky took it off. And I forgot to set it back the way it should be.)
(James”Killin’ ’em with” Kindness, who looks about ready to kill someone right now. With kindness…or a blunt object.)
(Pop to the Jackal to the Jackal to the Pop, who did not play, but certainly looks like a homosexual, doesn’t he? And to think that on all those long rides to Boston and whatnot, he never tried to fondle me. Dammit.)
(This here be Nick Camire, who if he is not the sexiest Magic player ever, then he’s pretty damned close. I hear he’s straight, though. Unfortunately.)
(Don’t mess with Seth. He’ll kill you. Slowly.)
(See, Alex is just a nice young man, but DJ (what a poser) really does have someone under the counter.)
Wasn’t too bad, at least the quarterfinals, when I jotted down the U/G madness vs. R/G matchup. And Darrin and Kyle actually played slow enough for me to keep up. Not that they actually went out of their way to tell me what cards did what and whatnot. Nice guys, I’ll tell ya…. But they’re still guys, which means that I would not do them. Ordinarily.
And I got two packs for my trouble. Heh; packs.
Darrin came wit’ it now, and off I went to the semis, and Robert Foley’s Astralslide vs. Larry Meanie Latham’s Astralslide.
Yes, that was one sickening match to cover. No, worse. Trying to keep up with all the friggin’ cycling was tough enough – but when I don’t even understand the freakin’ combo, then bad times, but not for Cassie.
And I got two more packs. Heh, packs.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the finals:
There were six guys seated at the table. And five of them hold a lifetime 0-1 record against me. James Kindness was the sixth, and he wishes that he was only 0-1 vs. me.
“Then why aren’t you sitting up here at the top table, dawg?” I heard from afar.
Do I even need to answer that? Ever?
‘Twas hard times indeed to keep up, and I’m fairly certain that I handed my pen and pad to Uncle Charlie Widdis and told him to have fun. Considering the finals took almost 3 hours, I don’t think he did.
1. Robert Foley (0-1 vs me) Astralslide
2. Chet Norton (0-1 vs. me) U/G Wonderdawg
3. Darrin Emery (0-1 vs. me) U/G madness
4. Larry Latham (0-1 vs. me) Astralslide
5. Jay Chadbourne (0-1 vs. me) Astralslide
6. Kyle Whitten R/G madness
7. Jon Nichols R/G Beatz
8. Jeff Heisel (0-1 vs. me I’m pretty sure) G/W Beatz
I’m a combined 6-0 vs. the top eight. I feel kinda good about that, but I’m not sure why.
Rob Foley is the state champ, dawg. And you’re not. But I finished 35th.
Me: What’s good to draft?
Everyone: Anything but blue.
Oh, it’s on now. Yes, I drafted mono blue. After all, how bad can it be?
My first pick was that protection from beasts guy. He was also my second and third picks. Okay, it’s pretty bad.
By the third pack, and after I realized that the only semi-decent blue card I had was Discombobulate, I added just enough awful black to figure out that there just isn’t any friggin’ removal in my deck. At all.
In the first round, I lost to Elves. Don’t worry, they’re just elves. Yep, just elves.
Then I lost to a guy who played turns 2 and 3 The Elf Life Gain Guy. And did he ever. I think he both games with over 50 life.
Hi, name’s John and I get to scoop to a turn two The Elf Life Gain Guy, nice to meet you.
And then I get to go home.
Everyone: See you next weekend.
Me: I disagree. See you next year, dawgs.
Ah, ’twas fun for a day – pretending you’re someone else that is, even if the someone else you’re pretending to be is you. Kinda weird.
But man, how the hell did I ever do this on a regular basis? I was well past spent to death and then some by two o’clock or round 4, whichever is less. How I ever managed to survive until 1:30 in the freakin’ morning is a mystery. And I used to do this every friggin’ weekend. Magic players are psychotic.
The next morning at breakfast…
Berto: How did you do?
Berto: You should have made a better deck.
Abs: Yeah, better.
Me: Heh. You’re both grounded.
Wifey: But did you have fun?
Me: Lemme think about it for a minute.
…one minute later…
Me: Yep, sure did.
John Friggin’ Rizzo