Maine States: Tickling Millikin Under The Chin

Q: What’s the difference between me and Gary Wise?
A: One of them sucks at Magic, while the other is a booger head.

Q: What’s the difference between me and Gary Wise?

A: One of them sucks at Magic, while the other is a booger head.

In my zeal to punish anyone who would attempt to imprison myself or any of my brethren at States, I put out the word: Help a brother out. In response, some before the request was even on the stack, people sent me a lot of decks, a few of which I liked a lot and tested fairly well.

Here’s one that led me to believe that Holistic Wisdom is plain wrong:

Holy Cow, by Paul Shriar, he of”Far From The Maddening Crowd” fame:

4x Holistic Wisdom

4x Fires of Yavimaya

4x Birds of Paradise

4x Blurred Mongoose

4x Savage Firecat

3x Nimble Mongoose

3x Skizzik

2x Thornscape Battlemage

2x Spellbane Centaur

3x Urza’s Rage

1x Obliterate

9x Forest

9x Mountain

4x Barbarian Ring

4x Karpulsan Forest


4x Price of Glory

3x Dodecapod

3x Meteor Storm

2x Thunderscape Battlemage

2x Obliterate

1x Rage

Convinced after reading Paul’s accompanying explanation, I soon realized by my own damned self that recurring fatties were quite strong, and with Fires, they were made that much stronger. The basic idea is to play dudes and more dudes, and if some of them get killed, simply turn that useless turn seven Birds into the best dude that was previously killed in some obscene manner. Ditto for the extra Wisdoms: Saccing a Fires and getting it back with the quickness was nothing short of being down with the sickness, and great times for all your carrots – which of course, are belong to Zvi. Hint: Everything are belong to Zvi, but he’s nice enough to let Kai borrow a few things here and there.

The funny thing is that, in addition to not owning all the cards in the above decklist, and accidentally putting more than a few in storage – a mere fourteen hours away, I couldn’t help but begin to think that, hey, maybe others will notice that a Spellbane Centaur that resolves is very awful for blue-based control. Turns out that a card that had”all your dudes are belong to blue – Not!” in its text box was indeed noticed by a few players here and there. And since no prison/control player would be caught dead using Wash Out (Oh my god – it’s a sorcery!), it seemed inevitable that an anti-control backlash would occur among those who are not yet married to the archetype. Maybe.

If everyone is aware of the anti-blue anti-love roaming around, won’t they take that into account? Somehow? I thought so, then I thought again, for I’m good as second-guessing myself.

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?


Um who?

Um Gary Wise and I’m a booger head.

And then I saw this bad boy pop up in my mail:

Untitled deck, by Doug Scheinberg

4x Scorching Lava

4x Shock

4x Firebolt

4x Volcanic Hammer

4x Flame Burst

4x Urza’s Rage

4x Blurred Mongoose

4x Quirion Dryad

4x Call of the Herd

4x Skizzik

4x Mossfire Valley

4x Shivan Oasis

4x Barbarian Ring

4x Mountain

4x Karplusan Forest

This deck lead me to wonder how a nearly creatureless burn deck would fare. As I recall, the answer was”well, not bad… Sometimes.” Doug had Ensnaring Bridge in the sideboard, which was times that were good indeed against uber-fatties and other assorted Finkelmages, but didn’t do too much against White Weenie after boarding -“protection from red” was seriously bad times, especially when backed up with CoP: Red and Aegis of Honor (like anyone will ever use those except me, Mr. Johnny Expect A Lot Of Red At States).

However (man, is that a great transitory word or what?), I must admit that I was glad that someone else found Volcanic Hammer worth using – if burn spells could be called”fatties,” Hammer would be an uber-fattie in a world of two damage weenies. I was additionally pleased that Quirion Dryad did not bite the dust after Mike Mason folded Leeloo.dec. But the Tighties to the Whities said”sup, yo?” and answered”this Voice of all, y’all, and this Lynx, Mr. Spinks, and for fun, baby I’ll be your Shelter, I’ll be the one to take you through the night.”

And you thought you’d never hear from Taylor Dayne again. Man, she was a hottie, huh?


A few weeks later, Doug dropped me a line informing me that he had won a 99 player online tourney, which made me rethink just what the hell was what the hell. However, my testing was still showing that White Weenie was pretty good times, even after I tested the revised deck. Plus, he went and wrote an article about the deck! So much for the surprise factor, although Ensnaring Bridge seems to be a card that every deck should have an answer to… But really won’t.

Doug’s deck was in the mix until the bitter end – I was convinced that a ton of burn, fatties, and a Bridge to hide behind were good times, even if White Weenie seemed to chew it up and chew it up some more.

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?


Mize who?

Mize well admit that I’m a Gary Wise and I’m a booger head.

Still, I drudged along…

Fish, by Bo King

4x Merfolk of the Pearl Trident

4x Coral Merfolk

4x Vodalian Zombie

4x Lord of Atlantis

2x Force Spike

2x Divert

4x Counterspell

4x Undermine

2x Rushing River

4x Duress

4x Static Orb

4x Underground River

8x Swamp

10x Island

Bo’s McKeown-like promise that this deck made prison and control its bitch came to pass: Decks with Islands had one hell of a time keeping up. However, I tested against my white boy: it went down in flames to the tune of the old”my dudes are so much better than yours, and I have a billion of them” paradox, which is not really a paradox at all when you get right down to it.

I relayed my concerns to Bo, and we tweaked (well, he did, since I had just about given up on Fish as a viable decktype in a what I figured would be a beatdown environment); this was the result:

4x Ceta Disciple

4x Merfolk of the Pearl Trident

4x Coral Merfolk

4x Vodalian Zombie

4x Lord of Atlantis

2x Force Spike

2x Divert

4x Counterspell

4x Undermine

2x Suffocating Blast

2x Fire/Ice

2x Urza’s Rage

3x Underground River

3x Shivan Reef

4x Sulfurous Springs

12x Island

Heh, Ceta Disciple. Yeah, I laughed, too, and wasn’t convinced that it was not just Bo’s idea of a cruel hoax being played upon my person… And then I tried it. He was correct: That bad boy was a beating against control and prison. But it still scooped to a beatdown deck. Enter take three: Divert, Force Spike, and Suffocating Blast became two more Fire/Ice, Urza’s Rage, and Wash Out. While these additions helped in the quest to beat the beats, they didn’t help enough.

Fish simply could not beat my White Weenie. Ever. Or my Stompy, which was beginning to annoy me with its refusal to admit that it was a crappy deck.

Because he anticipated a metagame rife with control and prison (and hey, I up and asked for decks to beat just that), Bo went to the fish, whilst I slowly came to realize that if I was aware that White Weenie and Stompy were just good, fast, and reasonably priced beats, then others must know as well. Hence, it seemed to me that one of two things can happen:

1) People take drastic measures to tweak control to beat the beatdown.

2) People become the beatdown.

Tough question:

If you were on Survivor, which one of Gary Wise Plague Rats would you eat first and why?

While I doubt that prison mages would all of a sudden fall in love with the cards that sport numbers down thar’ in the corner, I believed that plenty of guys would fail to beat ’em, which meant they might join ’em. Or at least be very aware that the environment would not be filled with permission, at least as much as was anticipated after the Invitational.

After said Invitational, everyone and their naked twin sisters lying on a bed moaning”Mintbox, Mintbox, you can’t stop the bumrush!” hankered to play Islands (and Finkel). That seemed to last a few weeks before people decided that the attack phase was very underrated. I, for one, believe in the attack phase, with fatties and fatties and even more fatties – a 1/3 does not constitute a”fattie” in any sense of the word. But a certain 1/1 does. Weird, huh? Thus, I must bring beats, or at the very least, be seriously prepared for the beats that I was convinced were coming.

I enjoyed the jankiness and general Rogueosity of Bo’s deck something fierce, but it just lost, horribly, to any deck that had dudes that weren’t Merfolk. And that was a lot of decks.

While the rest of the team was getting fried on assorted snifters of paint thinner and random malted barley and hops at Aaron’s going away party, Nate Heiss was telling me about this new deck that he was working on (with assistance from The Original Bad Player Flores and crew) that beat the beats and served it’s own.

And used Millikin.

I remained unconvinced that any”beatdown” deck that used Millikin was going to beat White Weenie, which I still thought was the shiggitty, but I listened as Nate spat forth the virtues of Shower of Coals. And then I plumb up and forgot all about Millikin and Showers.

And then I played against it. Once.

One game was enough to convince me that those guys had a beatdown deck that beat the beats at its own game, which of course means that the beats got beat by better beats, boyee.

Here’s the decklist that crushed me:

4 Urborg Volcano

2 Underground River

6 Swamp

3 Shadowblood Ridge

2 Sulfurous Springs

3 Shivan Reef

3 Barbarian Ring

2 Mountain

4 Urza’s Rage

4 Shower of Coals

3 Flametongue Kavu

4 Firebolt

3 Pyre Zombie

4 Blazing Specter

4 Fact or Fiction

1 Crypt Angel

4 Duress

4 Millikin

In My Own Private Idaho of testing, White Weenie needed to draw multiple dudes, Voice of All, and Shelter to stand a chance – and still it fell. Siding in Aegis of Honor just made the games last longer. Pacifism was not very good against Pyre Zombie, and it was even more not very good against Crypt Angel. Shower of Coals was severe bad times, and Fact or Fiction both filled up the Threshold yard and, as an extra bonus, the hand. Time for a carrot.

Did you hear about the guy who had a booger on his finger? He put it on his head and changed his name to Gary – Gary”Booger head” Wise.

Stompy had a chance if it could – well, okay, it didn’t, so I finally gave up on the deck that probably never made it past stage one testing in every other gauntlet in the world. The control match wasn’t as awful as a deck without its own counters should be – Pyre Zombie, Firebolt, and Barbarian Ring made sure that”counter target spell” didn’t hold much water, and usually resulted in a little”Ah, so you counter… Whatever” action. Granted, my Finkel and control decks were probably far from even being close to having a prayer of being any good at all, but they had counters, damnit.

Good thing that no one will be packing Cremates for the Zombies or as a surprise”your Shower got a lot smaller, chief” funny move; I took the time to tell everyone that they should, which means that they won’t, simply because they considered the source – which, considering the source, is probably a good idea. But not in this case. Syncopate that. And then metagame it.

I think States will be beatdown. A lot of beatdown. Sure, there will still be the ardent control and prison players who were/currently are being picked on in high school with their counters, but my money’s on the beats. And that’s what I’m searching for: The beats that beat the beats and can keep up with stupid blue cards. Leave it up to Nate and Flores and crew to build something that can beat control and beatdown. And use nutty cards.

But I still can’t get White Weenie out of my melon. It’s aggressive; it’s controllish; it does everything well enough to get away with it. Plus, I remember two instances where White Weenie just up and turned some heads: States last year with Turian, and Regionals two years back with Elliot Fung. Of course, both versions were sporting Rebels, but I’m hard-pressed to believe that was the only thing that made the decks winners (even though that’s likely the only thing that made the decks winners).

I’m so sick of typing”White Weenie.” As sick as you are of reading it in my articles… And virtually no one else’s, except when they trash it.

Q: What’s the difference between Star City and Sideboard Online?

A: One of them prefers mints, while the other likes booger heads.

The card I remember most from Turian’s deck that turned the tide and swung matches like nobody’s business was Defender en-Vec. Nowhere was this dude more amazing than in a mirror match with Brad Swan (who was using Troubled Healer and ‘Geddoning himself silly). This lead me to believe that the best replacement would be Hallowed Healer. Yes, in Constructed. I tried out Pollen Remedy, which worked fine, but oftentimes wasn’t quite enough. Ditto for Embolden, which loses much of its charm when it’s in the yard, sitting there taunting both you and your opponent.

Hallowed Healer was the shizzou, which in this case meant: The best that we have to work with. A permanent two damage shield, with the ability to become a Master Healer, although, if Threshold is reached in this deck, things are going fairly poorly, and a pack it up pack it in looms on the horizon.

Q: What’s green and comes from Canada?

A: Gary Wise head, which is made of boogers.

Here’s the decklist once more with feeling:

4x Longbow Archer

4x Spectral Lynx

4x Patrol Hound

4x Pacifism

2x Lieutenant Kirtar

2x Pianna, Nomad Captain

3x Glorious Anthem

1x Divine Sacrament

4x Voice of All

4x Disenchant

4x Shelter

4x Caves of Koilos

20x Plains

I wrote everything to this point during my”offline” period (and some a week or more before), and when I finally did get back online, it seemed like the world had changed. I saw decks that I never heard of being bantered about like they were common knowledge – where the hell did G/R come from? As of the writing of this particular sentence (Nov 6), I have no idea what to expect at States. And I don’t care. Really.

I received an email from Nate informing me that he had dropped Da’ Facts or Da’ Fictions and added another Flametongue Kavu and more Crypt Angels. That’s nice: I was intimately familiar with the deck, and he up and changes it on me.


And then he sends me another mail saying that he has totally given up on the deck. Ha friggin’ ha. Since Nate had been actually testing the damned thing, I think it wise to trust his judgment, harsh as it may seem. That was a pun.


It was mentioned that the deck just lost to G/R, a deck that I hadn’t even considered at all. If Nate loses confidence in a deck that he’s hand in creating, then the deck really can’t hack it. As a consolation, he did list a G/R version of NateSkin that he was currently testing. It only had thirty rares. And I only had three days.

Enough of this noise.

Take the metagame and shove it up your shovehole. Do I expect myself to reevaluate everything that has changed over the last two weeks in only three days? Perhaps I’ll be going”what the hell deck is that?” a lot – but what am I, a pro or something? Being out of the loop is no biggie; I’ll just play what I thought was a great deck since day one: White Weenie. Maybe. Here’s a strong reason why I think the Whites to the Weenies will be a sleeper:

Zvi seems to be highly advocating G/R, and he’s hardly alone in that opinion. One thing I have noticed is that people listen to Zvi. A lot. And so will I. Oh, and Zvi also took a stand for Pacifism, a card that I have been trumpeting as extremely underrated for over a month. If Zvi thinks it’s good, and I already was convinced, then do I need any more of a push? If people listen to Zvi, they’ll play G/R, and I’ll fill the board with stuff that hates it – taking my chances with everything else.

Tough question:

If Gary Wise tripped and fell and landed in the woods on his booger head, and no one was there to wipe his head, would he still make a sound?

Another reason why Da’ Whites might sneak up on some of y’all is that everyone is completely convinced that it sucks. And I mean everyone.

And the final reason is the ability to side in CoP: Green, in addition to already having Spectral Lynx, Voice of All, and Shelter maindeck. Seems to me that all of the above could make times awfully awful for G/R. Well, at least the”G” part of it.

I think I’m going with this, and I don’t care, just like Kevin Meany:

//NAME: Untitled Deck

4x Longbow Archer

4x Spectral Lynx

4x Patrol Hound

4x Pacifism

4x Disenchant

4x Shelter

2x Lieutenant Kirtar

2x Pianna, Nomad Captain

3x Glorious Anthem

2x Divine Sacrament

4x Voice of All

4x Caves of Koilos

19x Plains


4x Coalition Honor Guard

4x Wrath of God

3x Worship

4x Circle of Protection: Green

This is basically the same list I’ve been copying and pasting into every article for the last month and a half. I dropped one Plains for an additional Divine Sacrament, since no one should be playing White Weenie, at least now that it’s official that the deck sucks.

The side is typical annoying white: The Honor Guards were originally the 1/1 Flagbearer guy, and mostly for Opposition, but a 2/4 body avoids Rage and Bolt and can block like a mother. Adding an Anthem or Sacrament to the mix becomes unfair in a hurry. All in all, he’s simply better against everything than a puny 1/1 guy.

Wrath and Worship are self-explanatory.

The four CoP: green are because I believe Zvi. And so do you. And you’ll play Call of the Herd, Beast Attack, and lots of other assorted green guys. And thanks to Zvi for mentioning that many of the cards that can hurt his deck are white, but don’t worry since white is not going to be played anyway. Or something along those lines.

Tough Question:

What’s the sound of one hand clapping… On Gary Wise booger head?

Once I was officially convinced that White Weenie was the way to go…

Jon Becker (you’ll remember him from almost exactly one year ago… To the friggin’ day) sends me mail telling me that the Millikin deck is not dead and buried in his circle – which includes Flores, for Christ’s sake! Even though it was only their second or third choice, that was good enough for me. The list:

Mannakin Slighwalker (heh)

4x Duress

4x Firebolt

4x Terminate

4x Urza’s Rage

4x Shower of Coals

4x Millikin

4x Blazing Specter

4x Flametongue Kavu

3x Pyre Zombie

2x Crypt Angel

8x Swamp

5x Mountain

4x Sulfurous Springs

4x Urborg Volcano

3x Barbarian ring

Chief had eight Mountains, but I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t stick three Barbarian Rings in the deck. Rather than impale myself on something not sharp enough to do the job, but sharp enough to leave a very cool scar that would grant me mucho”mysterious tough guy” points, I put in three and now I live to fight another day. I also went to sixty-one cards by adding a third Pyre Zombie, mostly ’cause I’m silly like that, and because Pyre Zombie is a beating. Kinda.


4x Shatter

4x Coffin Purge

4x Ensnaring Bridge

3x Phyrexian Scuta or Engineered Plague or Void or Cremate or Addle or Trench Wurm or… or a fattie… Shivan Dragon perhaps?

All one needs to know about this deck:

Millikin rulez.

Shower of Coals is ridiculous, and the look on the face of a dude after I Arc his entire team into oblivion is priceless. Well, it’s priceless after they pick up Coals and read it, glance at my graveyard, glance at Millikin, read Coals again, spit a big hawker in my face, and then just go”Dude, that’s cold.”

If three damage is the yardstick, how do you like four damage times three?

Yeah, me too.

I went back and tested this version against White Weenie and the latest version of Doug Scheinberg’s deck. It schooled ’em, sat their asses in detention and banged erasers all off their domes, thus class was back in session.

And I really wanted to prove everyone wrong by taking White Weenie to good times. I really, really wanted to prove them wrong. Maybe next year.

Something as simple as choosing a freakin’ deck is impossible for Johnny Drama Queen. No wonder people hate me. No wonder The Ferrett seemed to take special care to rip my little world to shreds in his Fill in the Blanks article: Ten pages of words that do nothing but tell the world that I’m your typical”Three’s Company” miscommunication plot that Mr. Furley (or Mr. Roper, for ya’ old schoolers, as if Three’s Company isn’t old school enough) always seemed to get himself wrapped up in.


There won’t be a little”the drive to the tourney” story, nor is it likely that I’ll list a”bunch of my friends that no one cares about,” since I’ll know not a single soul at the tourney – and as an added bonus, there will be no”pictures” because spending four bills on a new camera seems a tad indulgent at this point in time. However, I might mention Bruce. Hey, I knew him first, so I think I got me some carte blanche on the subject.

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?


Banana who?

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?


Banana who?

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?


Banana who?

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?


Orange who?

Orange you glad you’re not a booger head like Gary Wise?

One of these days I’m going to try to seriously estimate how many words I’ve written in my articles. I reckon that somewhere around a half a million by now. And as my mother-in-law would say in a very sarcastic voice:”Yeah, but how much money have you made from that?” Dude, she wants me so bad.

Let’s see: 500,000 words @ ten cents a word = why am I still poor? Oh, it might be because no one on The Net can even dream of getting ten cents a word for an online article. Except maybe Zvi, who owns much base, which of course are belong to us, for someone set Zvi up the bomb.

Bomb Setter-upper: Zvi, can I set you up the bomb?

Zvi: If you throw in all your base, then you have a deal.

Gary Wise is insanely jealous of me because…

1) I possess mad skillz at Altoid preparation and management.

2) I’m not Canadian, and yet know all the words to the classic Bob and Doug MacKenzie flick”Strange Brew.”

3) I have Mike Turian autograph!

4) I can play in PTQs.

5) Not very well, though.

6) I look more like Dave Meddish than he does.

7) My Invitational theme deck was cooler than his.

8) My kids don’t know who he is, but they think I rule, which of course, I do.

9) I have a cool nickname and he doesn’t.

10) I’m not a booger head like he is!

At this point, permit me to do one of those Jerry Springer”black girl head twists” and blurt out”talk to the hand.”

I rule.

Once more with feeling…

Mannakin Slighwalker (Name courtesy of Flores via Becker and his crew, who are all hip as hell, since they reside in or near the city that doesn’t sleep. And probably all date models.)

4x Duress

4x Firebolt

4x Terminate

4x Urza’s Rage

4x Shower of Coals

4x Millikin

4x Blazing Specter

4x Flametongue Kavu

3x Pyre Zombie

2x Crypt Angel

8x Swamp

5x Mountain

4x Sulfurous Springs

4x Urborg Volcano

3x Barbarian Ring


4x Ensnaring Bridge

4x Coffin Purge

4x Shatter

3x Addle or Engineered Plague (to be determined on site, which was determined to be Addle)

Just in case I tried to change my mind, I hid my White Weenie and packed up The Foily Five and Millikin Crotchwalker and went to bed.

Okay, there is a”funny drive to the venue” story that’s much more stupid than funny.

I drove thirty minutes in the wrong direction.

Thank you.

And then I turned around and still made it in time. Moral: always leave early. The Bag often wondered why I would insist upon leaving thirty minutes earlier than was necessary. Well, it’s in case I drive thirty minutes in the wrong direction.

Gary Wise often drives forty minutes in the wrong direction because he’s a booger head.

Upon attempting to enter the tourney, I was accosted by the T to the O, who asked me for my Maine driver’s license. Heh. Long story short: My Moms always said I would’ve made a good lawyer. And Wizards, if you’re listening, don’t punish the dude for not making me show my credenza – I’m just that convincing when I put on my puppy dog sad face.

Gary Wise named his puppy dog”Booger Head, Jr.”

No, I know no one. But my first round opponent knows me and is more than happy to take a shot at beating the legend that is Worst Player Rizzo.

75 dudes – 7 rounds

Round 1: James”kill ’em with” Kindness, G/R with too much burn

Upon sitting down, James pours on the kindness:”I like your articles,””Nice to meet you,””You look much fatter in person”; you know, buttering me up and stuff. Like a sucker, I let my guard down and get all polite.

Game 1: My first turn Duress shows me Flame Burst x2, Volcanic Hammer, Blurred Mongoose, Rage, and Quirion Dryad. I know I lost. However, James attempts to kill me with even more kindness when he doesn’t draw a second land for six more turns. ‘Twas very kind of him. He did manage to discard at least two Call of the Herd, however.

I side in Coffin Purge, ’cause Jon Becker told me to and Gary Wise is a booger head.

Game 2: James plays a turn two Blurred, and proceeds to burn away Blazing Specter, Flametongue Kavu, and Millikin. After laying another Blurred, chief figures that, since I’m not casting any creatures because I suck at Magic, he’ll just aim some burn at my dome to speed things up. ‘Twas an act of random kindness indeed.

‘Tis okay, for after a couple early Duresses and Firebolts, my deck just took a little hiatus. Still love ya’, deckie.

Game 3: My turn four Specter and turn seven Millikin don’t hold up to double-Blurred and more burn than I could shake a stick at.

James’ deck was almost a spitting image of Doug Scheinberg’s deck. I guess it serves me right.

‘Tis ok, for after a couple early Firebolts, my deck must have still been a little tired. Still love ya, deckie.


Round 2: Jason Newhouse, W/B/G, with Spiritmonger, Charging Troll, Noble Panther, and Cloak.

Yeah, I get to play in the basement. Who needs elbow room? Or even room to place my mints?

Game 1: Jason’s turn one, two and three Birds all die, whilst my Millikin and Flametongue settle in for a long battle. Turns out, on turn five, Jason drops Spiritmonger, tapping out in the process. Here’s my chance! I only need to do six to that bad boy. So I serve with FTK… And he doesn’t block.

Are you kidding me? Everyone falls for that.

Nah, it’s not likely that Jason untapped and Cloaked his Spiritmonger. That just wouldn’t be anything that could happen in real life.

Take eight. Okay, but this isn’t very funny, chief.

Take eight. Okay, but It’s even less funny than it was a turn ago.

Take eight. No, I’ll scoop before I let a Cloaked Monger kill me.

Showed him, huh?

Side in Ensnaring Bridge because I’m sneaky, just like Gary Wise, that big booger head.

Game 2: I open with Millikin, Duress, Firebolt, Bridge, and three land – it doesn’t get much better than this. Jason lays a Blurred, Noble Panther, another Blurred and finally Spiritmonger over the next four turns. However, I had dropped my Bridge up in here with a singleton Firebolt in hand, preparing to burn him into oblivion.

Vindicate what?

The entire match lasted about seven minutes. Really. I’m left saying,”What the hell happened?”

Still love ya deckie. Okay, I don’t – you suck. White Weenie was the ticket, and you [edit] talked me out of it.

I walked outside to try to figure out my life and why I bother to chug on, when I came to a decision: Screw this, I’m leaving. I had been looking forward to States for over a month now, it being my favorite tourney and all, and this is what happens? I drop two matches after driving thirty minutes in the wrong direction? After finagling my way into the tourney without the proper identification papers?

I get this?! But I didn’t do anything wrong! I’m 0-2 and, for once, it wasn’t my fault!

I walked halfway to my car, fully intent on driving around for a few hours trying to justify why the hell I play this game, when I stopped at a pizza shop, cracked a fattie Diet Pepsi (no Coke, Pepsi), and came to a conclusion:

Screw it.

If I drop, then Gary Wise wins. And I’m not about to let some booger head take me out behind he woodshed and learn me some manners.

Okay, so I have a deck that I think is great, that I actually played correctly, I’ve been waiting for what seems like forever for this tourney and I already wrote twelve pages of this report… I’m Johnny Mintbox with five boxes of Altoids! My Bruce is gone forever! Screw this – I’m going back in there and win five matches in a row, and I’d like to see anyone stop me, you friggin’ impudent Maine natives! I dare ya’!

And I’m going to sweep everyone.

I was pissed. And focused. But mostly pissed. And focused.

Round 3: Stephen Sutton, U/G Traumatize/Weapon

I’m in the basement again. Nice.

Game 1: My turn one Duress reveals three interesting cards: Fog, Moment’s Peace, and Fog.”Well, I don’t recall seeing these cards in any Net Deck,” thinks I. I take the Peace and scratch my melon cautiously.

Stephen cast Lay of the Land and Deep Reconnaissance a few times, while I drop Specter, Zombie, Flametongue my own Millikin in order to get a move on, and serve into about a million Fogs and Moment’s Peace. Eventually, though, Stephen runs out of that biz and my guys smash face.

I side in Coffin Purge for some reason.

Game 2: It’s turn six or so, and I’m sitting with Blazing Specter and Pyre Zombie, with nothing in my hand wondering how in the hell I’m going to draw the million burn spells I need to blow up his Thresholded Wearbear and get around his buyback Fogs that were becoming increasingly annoying.

Stephen casts Traumatize.

Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you.

He”got” me for twenty-seven cards: three Firebolt and two Pyre Zombie were among the”casualties.” Oh, and looky here – it seems he also got two Coffin Purge that I forgot I sided in. From there, it was like I had an Agenda in play, but without that pesky”one spell per turn” stipulation.

Let’s get rid of those pesky Moments, draw Shower of Coals off the top, and just win quick fast in a hurry.

I needed to figure out what the hell Stephen was playing, so we played another game for fun. And I’m still not sure, but he did have Crystal Quarry and Legacy Weapon, with the intent of Traumatizing people into oblivion. I think. Traumatize + Millikin deck = thank you very much.

Stephen later had the sheer bliss of sitting down to play an opponent who decided to not show up. Two rounds in a row.”Thanks for that two hours that I’ll never get back,” thinks Stephen. At least he should.

1-2 (1-0 since pep talk, 2-0 in games)

Dear Gary,

Booger head.


Johnny Not A Booger Head

All right, four more to go. Hells yes I can, damnit!

Round 4: Brennan Howe, U/G Opposition

N’yah, n’yah, I’m out of the basement.

Game 1: Brennan gets out three Llanowar Elves by turn three, but I get Millikin and enough land to Shower them all into no man’s land. Wow, did that change the complexion of the game or what? That was a rhetorical question. He was left with only painlands for his green, and Pyre Zombie can only be countered so many times before he just gets sick of that noise and goes the distance.

Game 2: B to the H drops turn three Call of the Herd, turn four Beast Attack, and finally, a turn five Beast Attack. I took zero damage this game.

Call meets a Rage. Beast #1 meets a Flametongue. Beast #2 meets another Flametongue. Brennan meets two Flametongues and Johnny Blaze, with a Barbarian Ring for flavor.

Mannakin is amazing. FTK is amazing. Johnny Blaze is amazing.

This deck is amazing.

Gary Wise is a booger head, and I’m, well, I’m…

2-2 (2-0 since pep talk, 4-0 in games)

While waiting for the pairings to go up, I spent a little time chewing the fat with Howard Merrill, who was 3-1 at this point with an Angel/Chant/B/W Good Stuff deck.”Finally!” said I, here’s someone who appreciates the lovin’ that Orim’s Chant really is. We discussed at great length the manners in which we wished to make love to all things Orim-like.

Ah, male bonding at its best.

Round 5: Dustin MacDonald, U/B/R with P.Bolts and Deflection

D sits down, unpacks his deck and pretty much presents it to me as is. I grab that bad boy and start to shuffle it up, and D says”Please don’t do that to my deck.”


I politely explain that shuffling your opponents deck is now required from the rules set forth from the gods of Da’ DCI (unless I read it wrong). Dustin almost believes me. Alas, I’m Johnny Rules Lawyer all of a sudden. Just like that booger head Gary Wise.

Game 1: This is weird as hell. I play nothing but a couple of Duresses for the first nine turns (a handful of Coals and Flametongues and removal will do that to ya), and Dustin does the same.

I finally drop Millikin, which meets a FTK, which meets my FTK, which meets his FTK, which meets my FTK, and more importantly, my Pyre Zombie, which ultimately goes all the way, despite a random Terminate here and there aimed at his dudes getting sent back to Millikin or Zombie with a funny little Deflection. Rage you with the kicks, Dustin? Um, no, I think I’ll take the slow but sure win with the Zombie. Deflection – it’s what Divert wants to be when it grows up.

Game 2: I just cut D’s deck a few times since I’m Johnny Get Alongi With People.

Wow. Turn two Millikin, turn three Specter, turn four Specter, turn five FTK your Specter, turn six Zombie, turn seven scoop ’em up, all with Rage and Ring backup. Yeah, anyone can keep up with this bad boy when it gets rolling. Well, Gary Wise could, but that’s just because he’s a booger head.

Hey, Booger head (Gary Wise), look who’s 3-2, damnit.

3-2 (3-0 since pep talk, 6-0 in games)

The weirdest thing I ever saw:

The guy I lost to in round 2 was playing another dude with a similar deck. Lemme break down what’s what:

Round 2 dude had the following in play:

Double-kicked Necravolver

3x Blurred Mongoose

2x Spiritmonger

2x Charging Troll

2x Noble Panther


His opponent had

2x Spiritmonger

2x 5/5 Dodecapod

2x Noble Panther

2x Mystic Enforcer with Threshold

Kicked Kavu Titan

Wild Mongrel

Heh again.

Round 2 dude dropped a Cloak on one of his Mongers. Heh. He served with his Monger, and his opponent double blocked with both of his Mongers. This went on for about eight turns, with a whole bunch of 1/1 counters going up on a whole bunch of Mongers. Round 2 dude was at about 48 life, while his opponent was at two from regenerating his Monger with his only black source: Llanowar Wastes.

Round 2 Dude’s opponent started to block with his other dudes, since he couldn’t regenerate Monger with only a Wastes, since he was sick and tired of not drawing anything but crap for like the last twenty turns.

Then Round 2 Dude’s opponent brought forth the Jedi Mind Trick:

Round 2 Dude had nine creatures to his opponents five. His opponent was at two life for six turns.

Once more for the cheap seats:

Round 2 Dude had nine creatures to his opponents five. His opponent was at two life for six turns.

The match ended up in a draw. Nine creatures to five. Dude was at two life.

Moral: Behold the power of life gain.

Hey, Timmy, do you like fatties? (Yes!)

Do you like life gain? (Yes!)

What’s nine minus five? (?)

Ah, Gary Wise would’ve done the same thing, because he’s a______!

I like this”Fill In The Blanks Tournament Report” thing!

Round 6: Howard Merrill, B/W Angel/Chant/B/W Good Stuff

Ah, good thing I had that chat with Howard – now I know to watch for the Angel. And he knows to watch for the… Oh yeah. I’m Johnny Secret Agent Man.

Game 1: Howard gets out a quick Phyrexian Arena, while Johnny Blaze enters, stage right. Howard, unperturbed, drops a second Arena, which makes it so much easier to burn him out. In fairness, I did Duress two Death Grasps, which I thought wise, since I remember Howard mentioning that his worst matchup was straight red burn, which is pretty much what I have. Sort of. A little.

Game 2: I Duress a Death Grasp, and then Addle a second Death Grasp on back to back turns, while ignoring his Arena that I thought I could race. Big mistake. Howard says the most sickening two words a brother can hear when he sees black and white mana across the table:”Chant you?”

Desolation Angel hits with a thud. If only Millikin was a flyer. A 5/6 flyer.

Game 3: Tightness abounds. A turn four Duress reveals that Howard has a Phyrexian Scuta in hand, along with Arena and Death Grasp. I take the Grasp and pray that he doesn’t have the balls to kick up Scuta when he gets to four mana, since he’ll wreck my day. I have Johnny Blaze in play, while he has Arena and his secret tech: Dega Sanctuary, which is no big deal when there’s only one in play…

He drops Blood Pet, anticipating using him to kick up Scuta, but since Johnny made him hit the bin I can breathe a little easier. He manages to kill Johnny Blaze and the Crypt Angel that I used to bring Johnny back from the dead. Friggin’ Wrath is broken. But he doesn’t kill the second Crypt Angel and Johnny For The Third Time. By this point, Howard has three Sanctuaries in play, he’s at eight, and I have Johnny and Crypt Angel in play. If I can’t kill him this turn, I’ll probably lose. He Duresses me to find Duress, Urza’s Rage, and Shower of Coals. He’s at eight, and I have Millikin, but only six cards in the yard.

So I win, right? Well, yeah, since I have five power on the board, and Duress, Millikin and Shower in hand after he takes Rage. I untap, Mill card number six into the yard, Duress his hand which was actually devoid of any cards, Shower him for four and serve for five.

Keyest play ever: I Raged a Blood Pet. Funny? Perhaps. But if he sacs Pet for a kicked Scuta, it’s bad times. I pointed my trusty Rage and needed Howard to miss a land drop. He did.

This was probably the best match I’ve played in the last six months: Every single play was important enough to make it seem like the game hinged on that very turn. Good. Times.

But Bad Times For Gary, who is a booger head anyway.

4-2, and there is no way I’m going to lose next round.

(4-0 since pep talk, 6-1 in games. Damnit.)

Round 7: Tony Alicia, Mono Red

Game 1: My, Tony has a lot of burn, but he let Millikin live. He got me to two, but he let Millikin live. Two Blazing Specters and two Flametongues slowly brought Tony into Ring range – and since I had two of them, three Firebolts in the yard, and twelve comin’ at him, well, all I can say is that he should’ve killed Millikin.

Game: I think about siding in Bridge, but figure that he’s going to do it for me, and I really didn’t want to side out anything anyway. Tony goes first and keeps a one land, Raging Goblin, Mogg Sentry hand. He remains at one land for the next six turns while I take my time and make sure that I do everything right (with three Sulfurous Springs and two Rings as my lands) with Millikin to help keep a brother in line. Double Flametongues arrive just when Tony finally gets his second land and can play Minotaur Explorer. Hmm, I guess that gives me card advantage. And then he played another Explorer next turn, which met another 4/2 card advantage machine, who was joined by Johnny Blaze and Crypt Angel.

We play another for fun, and it sure wasn’t for Tony. A Shower of Coals gets an Explorer, Mogg Sentry, and Raging Goblin out of the way. This deck is nuts. Millikin should be killed immediately. The old saying”burn the Elves and Birds” has been replaced with”burn Millikin first; you can get the Elves and Birds later, since they’re not as broken.” At least in my book.

5-2, good enough for 16th place, which is much better than 0-2, go home pissed. Oh, and I mulliganed a total of zero times in seven matches.

(5-0 since pep talk, 8-1 in games)

Johnny Pep Club?

Yeah, yeah, you swept through the losers bracket, in a state with no good players who use crappy decks. Whatever you say, Mr. Meanie. Still, if I can impart one nugget (or four nuggets for 99 cents) of wisdom, it’d be this: Bruce is an ass. Screw him. Bad luck is ass. Screw it. Dropping is ass. Screw it. Bearing down is cool.

Do dat shiz, yo. You’ll feel better six hours later.

Although, Gary Wise will still be a booger head, no matter how much he bears down.

Flores and Becker and crew are psychos. Nate Heiss is a psycho. That deck is nuts. Thanks fellas, even if it was only your second or third choice, or in Nate’s case – abandoned and left for dead.

Neat thing: One of Howard’s buds made a”hungover on the drive down deck” that sported…

ONE Nightscape Familiar

ONE Shadowmage Infiltrator

Four Ravenous Rats

Four Metathran Zombie

Three Thieving Magpie

And the kicker:

Three Opts in the sideboard.

And he went 4-3.

“Okay, you have board control – what are you gonna do, beat me to death one point at a time?”

Well, yes.

The Top Eight included:

James Kindness and his G/R (The first guy I play in Maine makes Top Eight – that’s some weird kind of omen. Maybe. Personally, I blame Doug Scheinberg, who planted the seed in James’ melon – the deck was almost a card-for-card build, but with Bridge main.)

U/G Orbosition with Squirrel’s Nest, Words of Wisdom, and Nimble Mongoose

G/W/B with Deed, Monger, Cloak, and Mortivore

U/W/R Angel/Trenches

G/R/Splash of black for Monger and Terminate

U/W/R Control with Goblin Legionairre and Angel as the only dudes

Some guy who dropped in the T8 or something

Some other guy

Watching the Top Eight matches with a bunch of guys you just met that day is refreshing as all hell – seems Magic is the same everywhere, yet just a little different. Maybe it’s the Bahstahn accent?

And the winner:

G/R/Splash of black, which contained Call of the Herd, Beast Attack, FTK, Wild Mongrel, Firebolt, Terminate, Monger, and Birds and Elves


U/W/R, which contained Wrath, Repulse, Prophetic Bolt, Ghitu Fire, Legionairre, Rage, Syncopate, Angel, and Rout

Incidentally, I ran into no less than three people who planned on writing tourney reports, and one guy was even doing play-by-play. We shall see who brings the sickness – oh, wait, no one cares about tourney reports anyway, right?

‘Twas fun times indeed, which included meeting a couple of dudes who pretended they didn’t know who I was (leaving me wandering aimlessly in search of someone to share my mints, and for that slight, I will forget your names – that’ll teach ya!), some dude named Brendan, who owns this shop called Crossroad Games, who about a billion of you mailed me about when I asked for places to play, and a bunch of other cool peeps who are dead set on making Maine a darned tootin’ place to play Magic. And succeeding. With Crossroads having drafts on Tuesday (ah, Tuesday!) and Thursday, and a cash tourney on Saturday, it appears that the Magic world is not getting rid of me anytime soon. Oh, and it’s only twenty minutes away.

Life is fair.

And good.

And Gary Wise is not really a booger head.

Okay, he is.

John Friggin’ Rizzo