Me And My Ants: PTQ Tokyo

Tuesday through Friday: "You have spent 456 minutes online." -AoL, upon signing off. Okay, quit yer whining. One of the quotes was wrong, a little. It’s not like you were close, anyway. Here: "I’ve got this fella working for me – do you know what a hacker is?" Should now read: "I HAVE this fella…

Tuesday through Friday:

"You have spent 456 minutes online."
-AoL, upon signing off.

Okay, quit yer whining. One of the quotes was wrong, a little. It’s not like you were close, anyway. Here:

"I’ve got this fella working for me – do you know what a hacker is?"

Should now read:

"I HAVE this fella working for me – do you know what a hacker is?"

You still have no clue, so save the flames for someone who really deserves your wrath. So there. Although, my bad.

Here’s the rest, Monty:

1) "…I ain’t looking at the movie ’cause I already seen it seven years ago."

Christian Slater to Gary Friggin’ Oldman, True Romance.

2) "It’s not the odds, it’s the wait."

Like anyone will ever get that one.

3) "The next time you fellas strike it rich, holler at me first."

Walter Huston to Bogey and some other guy, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

4) "Get them to sign on the line which is dotted."

Alec Baldwin to a lot of scrubby salesmen, Glengarry Glen Ross.

5) "I HAVE this fella working for me – do you know what a hacker is?"

How the hell can no one know that one?

The clock is ticking, as I am getting tired of typing those quotes every week. In fact, here’s a hint or two:

Quote 2:

Does he have the Jack of Diamonds, or no?

"Thanks, Lancey, thanks a lot!"

Quote 5:

Oedipus, or no?

"…and now you’re trying to rope me."

Jeez. The first email with the correct answers to those two wins fifty playable rares. Someone get them. NOW!

Now, back to reality — in the form of a game that allows its participants to pretend they are friggin’ sorcerers conjuring up magical spells and summoning demons and whatnot.

Tweak, tweak, tweak, to little avail. It seems as if Friggin’ Green (thanks to Hipolito for the name that was so friggin’ obvious that no one else thought of it) is pretty much ironed out; there is virtually no room to tweak. Ergo:

The nonnegotiable core: (24)

4x Llanowar Elves
4x Fyndhorn Elves
4x Wall of Roots
4x Elvish Lyrist
4x Natural Order
4x Survival of the Fittest

The second tier of nonnegotiables: (13)

3x Spike Feeder
1x Stampeding Wildebeests
1x Uktabi Orangutan
1x Quirion Ranger
1x Spike Weaver
1x Squee, Goblin Nabob
2x Masticore
2x Deranged Hermit
1x Verdant Force

And, of course, even Hammer can’t touch this: (20)

13x Forest
4x Wasteland
3x Gaea’s Cradle

That’s fifty-seven untouchables, chief. Where the hell is the tweakablility? Oh, it’s in the other three cards.

In going a robust 0-6 vs. Trix last week, I learned that there are really only two spots available for tweaking; Eladamri, Lord of Leaves is goin’ main, slick. There will be no discussion, no vote, the revolution will not be televised, and all that. When Eladamri hits, Trix needs two Firestorms to win. It’s that simple. While that is certainly not impossible, nor extremely unlikely when you draw cards twenty-five at a clip, it is definitely a monkey all up in someone’s wrench. And anything that can make a Trix player
think even MORE has to be worth it.

1x Eladamri, Lord of Leaves (added from sideboard)

Two to go.

Trix players have this uncanny ability to calculate EXACTLY how
many cards they can draw and still survive an attack if they don’t
draw a Firestorm. No, it’s not uncanny; it’s downright sickening when
you serve with all of your might and they still have one friggin’ pesky
life left. How can I mess up the math or even speed up the clock?

Yavimaya Ants.

Go ahead, laugh.

Or, alternatively, go ahead and Necro down to "attack damage plus one or two extra to grow on." You’d better have that Force ready, or a fat five will open up some serious whoop ass on ya. In a hurry. The Ants only really suck against Sligh, and sometimes they don’t even suck that much. But they can absolutely shine against Trix. If no one is looking for five fat and hasty beats, they will punish such impudence. Or maybe they still suck.

1x Yavimaya Ants

That leaves the spot formerly held by Sliver Queen. She’s the fattest chick on the planet, and she can bring friends. How is that bad again? Well, the only way she comes to the party is via Natural Order. But, the roof, the roof, the roof is on fire when she gets slammed down while facing an opposing army of her worthless minions. On the upside, she can also serve as a one turn Squee, fetching what I need via Survival. Although, taking one for the team was probably not in the designers’ minds when they dreamed her up.

Of course, there is Multani. A house? An apartment building is more like it. If he hits vs. Trix, what is their answer? Firestorm? Heh. The only way to avoid dying, in all likelihood, during the next attack phase is to rush the Illusions and hope. There were a few times where I wished that I could go get Multani, while I never wanted to fetch the Queen. If I would have played against eight Sliver decks, my needs might’ve changed, but I didn’t, nor do I expect to face a horde of the angry things this time.

I can’t fight the feeling that Multani is the boy.

1x Multani, Maro Friggin’ Sorcerer

As for the sideboard? Here’s last week’s leftovers:

4x Emerald Charm
3x Choke
1x Spike Weaver
1x Spike Feeder

And this week’s tweaks:

3x Powder Keg (one dropped)
1x Uktabi Orangutan (for fun)
1x Sliver Queen (added from main)
1x Forest

Forest? Huh? Well, Aaron (do I really need to type "Forsythe" every article?) and I were pulling out his hair (mine can still be pulled out, technically, but it’s so friggin’ hard) over whether the Ants should just be a Forest.

"The forest is safer," says Aaron.

"But five points of haste…" says me.

"The forest is safer," says Aaron.

"But five points of haste, damnit!" says me.


Stick the Forest in the side and bring it in vs. any deck that attacks the non-land mana sources (namely elves for the uninitiated).That would be Sligh, kids. Oh, more hate for Sligh! Hate you out! Hate you out! We’ll see, but a white-bordered Forest in a deck full of Alpha and Beta Forests is oh so tech! Complete Rogue Tech!

I rule.

I never realized how painstaking it is tweaking a deck down to the wire. Jeez, it’s almost like bad times for Becky, but not quite. Here’s a partial list of the cards that were considered (mostly by me):

Lumbering Satyr
Thorn Elemental
River Boa
Kavu kavu kavu kavu kavu Chameleon
Bottle Gnomes (I think it was Tony. Or was it Ellis?)
SABER ANTS! (Firestorm THIS for seven!)
Sabertooth Nishoba
Elephant Grass
Quirion Ranger
Ticking Gnomes
Hail Storm

That’s a lot of cards vying for one, perhaps two, sideboard slot(s). Those are just the ones I can remember. Tweaking is arduous, although it doesn’t tap to attack.

Random cool as hell quote alert:

"This morning I was reminded how much snow sucks an ass. I wish they’d ban it to make the environment a little more stable. It’s restricted now, but that’s not enough. Nothing can beat ice and snow, it’s just too hardcore. If anybody has technology against snow and ice, I’d like to know."
-Nate, Supreme Dictator, Tech.dec mailing list

Nothing much else happened this week except for being without electricity, heat, and water for three days at home. Oh, and another watermain break. Whatever.

It’s time to represent. I hope.

FrigginRizzo: <—Does Humpty Dance to get in the spirit.


<insert massive pissed-off-as-hell rant about PT – Chicago ID/concessions and negative response of my "Non-ID" from last week.>

<delete above rant, because I no longer care>

As an added funhouse attraction, there will be a few boxing matches, televised by HBO, at the convention center (which is where this tournament is being held; If it weren’t, then this whole paragraph would be incredibly irrelevant, as opposed to just pretty damn friggin’ irrelevant, which it is). The feature match (also a title match) pits "The Pittsburgh Kid, Paul Spadafora, who’s like 918394038-0, vs. Some Guy Named Irwin, who’s like 2-3 or something. It’s also in a weight division that isn’t heavyweight, thus, no one cares. Nor should they. But, I might have to step up in there and represent.

Oh, and the Steelers are playing the last game ever in Three Rivers Stadium today. Yawn. Traffic should be fun, though.

Who is in this hizouse today? (with my lifetime match records in parenthesis)

CMU Guys:

Dan Silberman, Scott Teamann (0-1), Mike Patnik (1-0), Eubroken Harvey, Nate Heiss, and Ron Kotwica (0-1) . Mike Turian (0-1) would show up later to make his obligatory appearance and generally "work" the room. Mike’s dad, Rich, who wields a mean trade binder himself, is also all up in here.

From last week at Columbus:

Antonio "The Nemesis" Powell (0-2) , His Mob (Kevin – who is playing my deck from last week – and son, Trent), Former Magic Campus writer and giver of foil Flame Rift David (The Friggin’ Earl of) Bruce, Mike "The Bastard of Stasis" Burton (1-0).

Assorted ruffians of lore:

Chas Tressler (0-3), Curtis Sproul (0-1), and Bryan Bandes.

Thrown in everyone’s favorite chiropractor Tyson Swigart, and you’re all set. And stuff.

"Keep your spine in line in ’79."
-Tech pencil I had when I was in fifth grade or so.

There’s a party going on in here, a celebration to last throughout the year.

By the way, how nice is it to sleep in until eight a.m.? Real nice.

Round 1: There were fifty matches for one hundred and one players.

FrigginRizzo: <—Player number one hundred one.


Round 2: Olwen Wee – Secret Force with Rizzo Stylee goin’ on

Game 1:

I’m so good at this game that I keep a very iffy opening hand. Hell, Olwen isn’t going to know what hit him! I proceed to lay an elf; Olwen gets jiggy with two elves and the best fatty ever printed for the mirror match: Gaea’s Cradle. It’s all about the Cradle. I’m having fun with my crap hand, and finding no land, by the way, so Olwen just up and hard-casts Verdant Force. That is poetic justice, it seems. Consulting my scoresheet, I find that I did, indeed, hit him for a grand total of zero.

Game 2:

We both open with elves and walls for a few turns, then I get cute and unleash the tech: Eladamri. Oh yeah, chief. We trade a few mini-beats for a few turns, then Olwen drops a Weaver. Not a big deal… yet. It becomes a big deal when he moves all of his Weaver counters onto his Llanowar and Forestwalks me to death two turns later.

I know what you’re thinking: "Hey — Eladamri’s text says ‘Elves can’t be the target of spells or abilities,’ so how did he put the counters on?"

That’s nice, jerky, where the hell were YOU when I was getting Elved to death? About ten minutes after our match, Olwen comes up to me and mentions that he wasn’t allowed to move those Weaver tokens onto his Llanowar, for they were invalid targets.

<insert me just plain ol’ going bonkers right here>

And no, he wasn’t cheating. It’s just one of those things that is so obvious that neither player catches it. Olwen beat me senseless with my own tech; tech that was illegal. Heh. We both have a hearty laugh (actually, I was too busy stuffing my head into the nearest trash can and attempting to drown in a pool of stanky ketchup and cigarette butts), and do one of those "isn’t this game crazy" shrugs.



(I only looked mildly pissed. I have yet to find out that both Owlen and I are unable to read the friggin’ text on Eladamri!)

Round 3: Jason Post – Three-Deucey kind of thing

Game 1:

I get a turn three Verdant. He doesn’t.

(Hey, maybe I can make CCGPrime’s "Worst of The Net" column for that game summary!)

Game two:

I get a turn three Hermit and a turn five Hermit. Jason gets out at least twelve River Boas and a couple of Treetop Villages. I am not sure how
(I think I just served blindly for no reason), but eventually I run out of Squirrels, and Jason smacks me in the teeth with too many Boas and Trees. More likely, I anticipated drawing something other than land after turn five. No such luck. I also believe that Jason had a little Incinerate action going on to keep me in line, but I could be wrong. Although, it would give me an excuse for losing, right?

Game three:

I open The God Hand: Forest, Elf, Survival, Wall, Order, Elf, Cradle. It gets no better, ever. I turn that hand o’ goodies into Multani, who is later joined by some pissed-off Squirrels. Jason, on the other hand, has a Not God Hand. He is forced to play out Boas with no mana to regenerate them, and keeps laying Villages and other assorted 1/1’s until he has enough to chump/kill Multani and take a breather.

I start to play it safe, as Jason has shown that he will kill 1/1s like they’re going out of style by playing a few Feeders. He keeps drawing crap, so I jump on that by getting a ‘Core and, through many, many cute Ranger tricks, generating barely enough mana to shoot the things that he keeps sticking in my way. I played like crap all three games, and feel quite fortunate to come away with the win.


(Yes, that’s my "Jeez, I’m so friggin’ relieved that I won, even though I
really do suck at Magic" look.)

Round four: Eubroken Harvey – White Weenie with green for Rancor

Game one:

Eugene goes first and plays Mother of Runes. I lost right there. For kicks, he also plays one on turn two. Combine two Mo Runes with Shadow guys, and you get seriously bad times for Becky. He has this evil little trick of double-Rancoring Mo Runes, serving with said Angry Mother, trampling through and giving pro: green after damage. Hell, Rancor is fair, right? I do manage to Order for a Hermit, which promptly gets Plowed.

Game two:

Eugene owns me with a Rancored Shadow, with double Mo Runes backup (Sounds way too much like "Turn 3 Illusions, with Force backup," doesn’t it?) that proceeds to trounce me to the point of grabbing for Feeders in desperation. Finally, I get a Weaver into play and stave off the beats. Oh, I have two lands by the way, and we are on about turn twenty. I’m trying to find a Masticore, while Eugene is just sitting there waiting to drop his sideboard tech. I have nine creatures out, he has the mad Shadow, two Mo Runes, and Paladin en-vec. He’s at ten, when he drops Cursed Totem. No fair.

But wait! I know I sided in another Uktabi, didn’t I? Let’s pitch Squee and find out together, shall we? (looks through library… still looking… ah! Found it!) I show Eugene the monkey, and for a second I thought he looked dejected.

For a second.

I untap and find… hey, all of my mana guys are useless and I only have two Forests, one of which Eubroken EuEvil Eugene is Porting. Eugene looks at me and says "Cradle," implying that I better peel one right off the top, or I’m gonna get my lunch eaten by an angry Shadow guy.

Of course, I proceed to NOT peel a Cradle, and take at least ten minutes in going over my each-in-their-own-way-leads-to-my-death options.

Well, I did the math for a long time and figure that if Eugene makes some really stupid blocking mistakes, I can win. I attack for a whole bunch, he blocks correctly, and brings home the bacon and fries it up in a pan.


(Eugene is pleased, while I’m looking at the floor because I don’t want the camera to catch me crying.)

Round five: Kevin Woloszyn – JD’s Pile of Broken Dreams

Game 1:

I am so good at this game. Turn three Verdant. Kevin responds by casting Stone Rain and taking too many beats with Verdant and his boys.

Game two:

Can you say "overconfidence"? thought so.

Again, I open a Very Near to God Hand: elf, elf, Forest, Forest, Order, Survival, Eladamri. My cards play themselves, Kevin, however, has other ideas. One of his ideas was to cast Pyroclasm, killing both elves and Eladamri on turn three. On turn four, his other idea was to kill my land. He had that same funny idea on turns five, six, seven, and eight, with a cute little Incinerate thrown in for fun. He then has a completely new idea: Viashino Cutthroat. Since I have no permanents in play at this point, I decide to take five from the Cutthroat. I take five from said Cutthroat until I am dead.

Game three:

Can you say "scared out of his wits"? Yeah, me too.

Again, jeez, I open a friggin’ "This Time This Is The Absolute Goddiest and I Could Ever Hope For" hand, which leads to a turn three Verdant. Kevin and his nutty ideas surface again: "Let’s see… I’ll pitch this red card to Pyrokenesis… two at Verdant and one each at the two tokens, and… um… I’ll Shock Verdant… and no, I’m not done yet… I’ll finish him off by Incinerating him."

He was at four.

When I am done vomiting, I try to rebuild my mana by Survivaling for as many walls and elves as I can find. Kevin, feeling quite evil at this point, starts to blow up my lands like clockwork. When I get too many elves and walls in play for his liking, he drops a Disk. Hahahahaha!

Disgusting times for Becky.

I’m not dead yet, as I drop two Feeders and gain an obscene amount of life, just in time for the Disk to blow up my world. I have one or two lands still standing, so Kevin just Ports them for me. Thank you, I was wondering what I could do with TWO FORESTS! When I am officially pathetic, he drops Cutthroat, Cutthroat, and punches me in the teeth.

I die with one Forest.

"How the hell are you only 2-2!?" I ask, astounded-like.

"I got screwed," retorts Kevin.

"You are the most evil bastard I have ever met," offers I, kindly.

"Blame JD, he built the deck," Kevin says, shucking off all responsibility.

"I had the best possible hand I could get two games in a row," sobs I.

"You really are bad at Magic," Kevin probably thinks. Heh.


(Kevin is obviously pleased, while I am watching the janitor clean up my massive pile of vomit.)

Round six: Kevin Znosko – Um, it’s my deck, exactly, down to the friggin’ Eladamri maindeck, along with the friggin’ Yavimaya Ants!

Kevin=Laptop Hacker Tech.

Game one:

Kevin gets the early Cradle. I don’t. Kevin gets the early Verdant. I don’t. But, I give her hell anyway. This game took over forty-five minutes, with the majority of the game involving me foolishly trying to ping his tokens with Masticore faster than he could spit them out. Eventually, even Masticore needs more than five friggin’ mana to win a game all by himself.

Game two:

I get Another Friggin’ God Hand. I throw down a turn three ‘Core WITH a Cradle, and shoot everything that even threatens to move. Kevin’s Feeder, a bunch of elves, and a Lyrist here and there all meet their maker, post-haste. God Hands (read: the friggin’ Cradle) are good in the mirror match. 20, 15, extra turn number one adds a Wildebeest with Feeder tech, 10, scoop.

(Kevin is a Net Decker, but it’s my deck. How can I be mad at him?)


Round seven: Michael Villa – Sol Malka’s deck, pretty much

Game one: This game took fifty minutes AND three extra turns. Neither of us had blue. I’d give a play-by-play, but, hell, there were about two hundred friggin’ plays.

Neat little aside: I drew/searched thirty-seven cards, which left twenty-three cards in my library. I played FOUR lands the entire game. You do the friggin’ math, chief, I just don’t feel like it. At all.

The game was fun for about the first twenty turns, until Michael plopped down his Recurring Nightmare to go along with his Survival and 471,113,919,301,710,031,709 creatures, three of which were Stampeding Wildebeests and The Spike Duo. Oh, and he had a Krovikan Horror to kill my stuff. A lot.

I wanted to ask Michael if his last name was pronounced "Vee-la" or all Spanish-like with the tongue-rolled "L" tech. But I forgot. Damn.

(We just played a fifty-seven minute game. Can you guess who won by the photo?)

2-4-1. At least I had my fifteen minutes last week.

The CMU guys:

Silberman: 5-2 (Survivally thing)
Teamann: 50/50 or so (Forbidianish thing)
Patnik: 4-3 (Trix)
Harvey: 4-3 (WW/Rancor)
Heiss: 0-something (?)
Kotwica: 0-something (Trix)
Rizzo: 2-4-1 (Net Deck)

We sucked.


Powell: 5-2 (Trix)
His Mob: about 50/50 or so (My friggin’ deck and WW)
Earl of Friggin’ Bruce: 50/50 or so (He played Wildfire! Evil!)
Burton: 50/50 or so (Post Traumatic Stasis Disorder)
Tressler: Not so good (PT – Junkish thing w/Negators)
Sproul: 50/50 or so (PT – Junkish thing?)
Bandes: 50/50 or so (Green things?)

Everyone sucked. Jeez.

But, I, especially sucked. Much.

Mike Turian (sarcastically): "How’d the Ants work out for you?"

Well, Mike, not so good.

If I had one or two more events to try it out in, I think the deck could wind up as a complete and total pile. Unfortunately, I’m done for the season, and with a winning record to boot. I guess I’ll take it.

I just realized that I didn’t say "booya" at all.

I was kind of pissed. So pissed that I challenged some random boxer to a fight. Here’s a pic of me dodging a right cross, taken from directly outside the room the tourney was held in.

(That’s me in the black trunks with gold trim.)

Friggin’ Green/Mono Green Hatred ended up 8-7-1. Not too good, is it? But, I’ll take my lucky-as-hell-Christmas-Miracle and go home. So there. The two Kevin’s that used it ended up 4-3 and 3-4, I believe. So that brings the grand total to:


I am Jack’s burning sense of mediocrity.

To be continued at a tremendously average time and place near you.

John Friggin’ Rizzo