Mixed kNuts: High States Poker

For the last four weeks, I have been stuffing myself with States information, and now I’ve reached my limit. I can’t hold any more tech; therefore, I’m going to turn purge mode: on and spew forth everything that I’ve learned in the last four weeks. Plus, some strange Finnish guy called”Tomi” emailed me to tell me what changes he’d be making to his Punisher build in light of Pyroclasms. But man, can you really listen to a guy who came in a paltry second place at the Invitational?

I am bloated. For the last four weeks, I have been stuffing myself with States information, and now I’ve reached my limit. I can’t hold any more tech; therefore, I’m going to turn purge mode: on and spew forth everything that I’ve learned in the last four weeks minus (and this is key) the deck I will probably be playing. I only do this because I value my freaking life and Jimmy Bean has threatened to not only kill me, but to cut me out as a playtesting partner if I were to spill the proverbial beans. Since he did 90% of the work this time around, I feel that would be bad times for me. Let the pro-Tech-tile vomiting begin…

Blue-Green Madness

The big dog. This is the deck yadda yadda – you guys know what the hell this is by now and what it does. It’s fast, it draws some cards, and it’s Wonder-ful. Unfortunately, this is the only deck that people knew to gun for at the beginning of the season. This deck isn’t strong enough to withstand the fact that every deck is designed to beat it, and therefore should make an underwhelming showing this weekend. However, if you are feeling quite techie and you still want to play this deck, you might include a transformational sideboard that let’s you turn into U/G Opposition for Game 2. Test it, then feel free to kiss me.

Like your clean underwear, don’t forget to pack Naturalize. It will matter.

Bottom Line: This deck isn’t powerful enough to handle the fact that every deck in the field is designed to beat it. This fact is going to create a strange metagame.

White-Green Madness

The little dog. This is the dog that’s been running around behind the big dog, just waiting to get a few licks in when no one else is looking. On the surface, he’s relatively nondescript, which is why people can’t pick him out of a lineup, but the fact of the matter is that he’s stronger than he looks. Glory, Whipcorder, Anurid Brushhopper, el Wild Mongrel, Battle Screech, Teroh’s Faithful out of the sideboard for Sligh and a (Viva!) var-eye-e-tay of Utility cards and creatures at its disposal mean that White-Green madness is still solid. Oh yeah, and don’t bow down at the altar and get Worshipped out of this matchup. Seriously, don’t let it happen.

Bottom Line: Not that many people are talking about it, which means it’s either worse than I’ve seen, or everyone else is hoping you won’t notice how good it is.


This has been my backup deck from day one. Hell, I could still end up playing it if we notice that the deck we’re currently planning to play was built and tested while everyone was completely stoned and our matchups are actually sh*t (if you’ve read any of my tournament reports, you know there’s a chance this could be true). The unfortunate problem with Sligh right now is that the best versions cost a fortune to build. With eight rare sac lands, four Blistering Firecats, and four Goblin Piledrivers, you can end up shelling out a bunch of money for what’s essentially a pure beatdown deck. Didn’t beatdown decks used to be cheap to build? Anyway, if I end up playing this deck, here’s what I’ll be running (the land base is swiped directly from Seth; the rest of it evolved over time with playtesting):

4 Raging Goblin

4 Grim Lavamancer (Boy Target #1)

2 Goblin Sledder

2 Goblin Taskmaster

4 Goblin Raider

4 Goblin Piledriver (Boy Target #2)

4 Blistering Firecat

1 Sparksmith

4 Reckless Charge

4 Firebolt

4 Shock

3 Volcanic Hammer (I tried Chain of Plasma, but it doesn’t work.)

4 Barbarian Ring

4 Bloodstained Mire

4 Wooded Foothills

7 Mountain

1 Goblin Burrows

The sideboard would consist of some combination of extra Sparksmiths, Goblin Sharpshooters, Threatens, Flaring Pain, Flash of Defiance, and possibly the Fledgling Dragon plan Seth has going, though when I got it setup, I really liked the”one Swamp plus Oversold Cemetery” direction as well.

Bottom Line: Beware of Sligh, it’s that good.

U/G Opposition

In case you didn’t read my article last week, Opposition decks at the Invitational went 8-1. That sort of result is certain to catch people’s eyes, even if they were originally using this as one of their test decks. Then Victor van den Broek went and posted a listing for this deck that was one card away from what we were testing, and we knew we had to find something else to work on.

Not that this deck isn’t one of the strongest in the environment – because it certainly is – but when we test we try to focus mainly on decks that are not in the mainstream (or at least non-obvious builds of major decks) while still playing the best decks as part of our testing gauntlet. When Victor opened his can of worms over there and published our decklist, we decided to look for other options to play.

Now if you notice, I just stated that this was our number 1 testing deck until this week. That means the deck is very good. It has a few problems with Sligh, but nothing that Phantom Centaur and Ravenous Baloth (being the Sligh player, you learn to dread this freaking card) can’t handle. It has larger problems with the Wake deck, as Wake packs enchantment removal through Cunning Wish in the main, and features Wrath after Wrath that can make the lock difficult to setup. To counteract this, you end up running extra counters (in the form of either Counterspell or Memory Lapse), and upping your chances of making sure your kids live through at least one Wrath. Unfortunately, they can often buy enough time to search for a second with their own counter backup and at that point you’re sunk.

The Wake matchup is hard, but that’s really the toughest one we ran into in testing. You feature Squirrel’s Nest in the main for Mono-Black, you can usually lock down U/G Madness, and Baloths out of the board make Sligh’s life miserable. Walamies Punisher-Opp will also cause problems for you (too much flying), but I expect the appearance of that deck to be limited.

Bottom Line: Has all the tools to win; the only question is whether you will draw them in the right order.


This deck may be the best deck in the environment. Thankfully it’s also difficult to play properly. Like Doobie (Will Rieffer) stated recently,”every game it somehow feels like I am going to lose with it“… Until he goes off and wins.

I thought Zevatog played that way back at Regionals as well, where you simply bide your time, waiting to draw the right cards, and subsequently smash some face.

What Wake offers you is versatility and power. With the Wish sideboards (note there are two completely different versions), you have access to most of the tools you could need for any possible matchup. The real trick is living long enough to take advantage of things (and find your win condition, which can be harder than you expect). Compulsion and Mirari’s Wake are what make this deck soar, while everything else is superfluous. Notice that both of those cards are enchantments, which should give you something to key on if you hope to win. If you are playing beatdown, you either need to go off fast enough and avoid losing to Wrath; if you play control, you simply have to deal with their enchantments before they kill you. Best of luck.

Bottom Line: The best control deck available right now, but you better playtest it for more than a few hours if you expect to win. Expect to see the best players in your state running with this beast all day.

Kai’s U/B Control

I talked about this deck last week and said that it beats U/G but loses to Sligh. The only reason I mention it is because Kai wrote about it… And when that happens you have to expect to see the deck. I don’t think it’s any better than The Hump’s Tog deck… But I’ve never seen Kai play it, so what do I know? Both decks will have a difficult time fighting the diversity of the metagame that you’ll see this weekend, but that’s just my opinion, I could be wrong.

Bottom Line: If you like betting on longshots at the Track, maybe this deck is for you.

Mono-Black Control

I have it on good authority that this deck is better than I’ve been giving it credit for being. My original opinion was that the deck would have a difficult time adjusting to the new Type 2 due to the extra counterspells in the environment and the problems this would create in casting Mutilate. Fortunately for MBC, very few decks are running extra counters outside of Circular Logic right now.

What MBC does well is control creatures, and that aspect still seems to be in place. It also has the option of providing a lot of disruption against control decks. The question I still have is whether it can beat Sligh, and also whether it can get its win conditions into place. Elliot Fertik says that he has a Mono-Black build that works, but he can’t share it with anybody. Apparently I’m still anybody. (It’s not what you think – The Ferrett, who’s seen it)

Bottom Line: People keep telling me it’s better than I think, but I’m stubborn and keeping thinking it’s not good enough. This weekend will tell the tale.

Walamies Opposition

Some Finnish guy wrote me last week (I believe his name was Tomi) and suggested that running four Divine Sacraments in the main deck made Pyroclasm and Violent Eruption much less of a beating than I stated in last week’s column (though he did say that Mutilate is still bad times). While I don’t entirely agree with him (Pyroclasm is still a problem for a lot of his kids unless multiple Sacraments are out), I can see where he’s coming from… And God knows that this Finnish fellow is a bit better player than I am. I offered to let him guest this week to defend his deck and to state what modifications he might make post-Invitational, but he said he had his own report to write and he’d include those items there.

Anyway, this deck is White Weenie with options. Since WW no longer has access to Armageddon, it has to have additional ways to shut down problem matches and control decks… Hence the Opposition. Since there’s no way to fetch creatures anymore, it also needs card drawing to create extra kids. Throw in a healthy dose of the best weenies and the ever-present Battle Screech and you have the deck. It’s pretty good, but four Sacraments and four Oppositions make for more dead draws than anyone really wants.

Bottom Line: Still feels like it’s missing something. I like the style, but the execution isn’t quite there. Beats Blue-Green though.


Last but not least (trite phrase number 1000 of current article), we have what I have been referring to as the Lube deck. This deck makes me angry, mostly because I didn’t think of it. I hopped on the Lightning Rift bandwagon two weeks ago, when I saw it win Gibb another PTQ (the story of which may follow some day… I even took match coverage), but I didn’t fiddle with a decklist for it, mainly because I kept thinking the coolest creature to use with the Astral Slide (Flametongue Kavu) was leaving the environment. I should have been more persistent.

Two articles (Now three – The Ferrett) have already covered the deck in detail this week on this very site, so I won’t add much except my analysis of where it fits into the metagame. Once again, we have a deck that can beat U/G. Unfortunately that’s only half the equation here, as the deck also needs to beat Wake at this point in order to be Tier 1, and the Lube job here has a few problems with that matchup. Some clever individual might figure out the trick to that treat though, and at that point who knows what could happen. Until then, you could run into trouble at the top tables if a lot of players decide to play Wake decks.

Bottom Line: Frustratingly good, but it has problems with the top control deck in the environment… Which is never a good position to be in. Feels like there’s untapped potential here though.

Final Metagame Analysis

In case you haven’t been paying attention, there are a lot of decks discussed above, half of which could be quite good. Not only that, but the tournament this weekend is States , which means you will see more random, off-the-wall builds than at any other tournament over the course of the year. That’s one of the reasons I love it so much.

If I had to break it down, I would say that U/G Opposition and Wake are the decks to beat with Sligh and the gang trailing a bit behind. Enchantments are going to be key this weekend, more than at any time since Masques rotated out. The only deck that can afford to ignore this fact is Sligh.

Time to tie this back into the title… When you play poker (particularly Hold ‘Em), letting the other players at the table know just one of your cards puts you at a huge disadvantage. If you are holding the nuts (the best hand), then you won’t make as much money as you should because other players will be more cautious when betting into you if they think you might have a better hand than they do. If you are holding crap but happen to be bluffing your way through things, you’re going to lose an awful lot of money… Because everyone else can see that you have less potential in your hand because of the extra information they glean.

That’s pretty much what happened with U/G Madness this time around. Since every freaking deck out there had to be designed to win the U/G matchup at the very least, you have a metagame designed to crush it. The decklist was known at the start of the format, and therefore left no secrets about what cards people needed to beat, they just had to figure out the”How” of things. Sometimes a deck is powerful enough that this won’t matter (Trix)… But sometimes it’s not, and that seems to be the case here. Your best bet this weekend is to play a deck that is versatile, can win the U/G matchup, and smokes Wake and Sligh.

Oh yeah, and hope you don’t face some kid playing Elf.dec in round 1 to send you into the Bean Bracket way too early. That’s the way I see it, and this weekend we shall see if I’m right.

As for our tech, I will tell you that we were considering running a deck with maindecked Chamber of Manipulations for a brief period this week. I foresee a time coming when Nantuko Husk will be considered a major problem, but I don’t think that time is yet. I’ll chat more about the pile we actually end up playing next week as well as detailing my (typically horrible) exploits with the deck. Until then, have fun with the new Type 2 and States, that’s what they are there for.

The Bottom Line: If you play U/G Madness this weekend, you done f*cked up.

Obligatory Cheesecake Section

This week’s brief feature is the lovely T’Pol (Jolene Blalock) from Star Trek: Enterpoop, aired weekly on UPN. Now on Star Trek she plays a Vulcan, which means she’s essentially emotionless and does little to heat up the screen unless you catch one of the decontamination scenes or you really like the bullet-proof bras she’s forced to wear. However, do yourself and your libido a favor and gander at the pictures listed here.

Once you’ve gone there, don’t just drool over the pictures though, read the quotes section and tell me this woman wouldn’t be the most fun date ever. Let me help you out in case you were distracted:

“I love when I sort of come to and I’m on the other side of the room, sweaty and breathing heavy, with bottles and ashtrays tipped over everywhere. I’m like, ‘What just happened? Oh yeah, I got laid. Gotcha.”

Oh… My… God.

Now just imagine what fun she’d be to watch on a program that let her have some sort of personality. Here’s to hoping her movie career takes off any day now.

The Kitchen Sink

A reader actually sent me an e-mail last week asking me to cut down the length of the articles I write to make them actually readable. As if the articles weren’t already marked into sections for easy division. As if it’s not possible to come back to the article at another time to read the rest of it. As if every word of my writing isn’t scintillating enough to leave you crying out (with a rebel yell) for more more MORE! Okay, maybe it’s not, but it’s not like you’re paying for my blathering, so feel free to tune out at any time you get bored and for those who prefer quantity over quality, I’ll continue trying to keep you happy.

Chai Latte is the functional equivalent of Hot Chocolate for adults-with-discerning-palettes. I hear the FDA is considering adding it to their list of addictive substances along with Bacon and Tangy Fruit Gummi Savers.

Number of times I’ve ordered a hot Chai Latte in the last month: 6

Number of times I have not burnt my mouth while drinking it: 0

Thus, I’ve concluded that Chai Latte could be the pot pie of beverages.

I think I speak for football fans everywhere when I demand a sixteen-month swimsuit calendar featuring Melissa Stark and Jill Arrington.

Continuing with the calendar theme, I give you this.

The amazing thing about this is that it’s from 1998 and they feature hot girls on their hockey calendar every year!! Why hasn’t this idea caught on? And am I the only one who had fantasies about making love to women who wear nothing but a sports jersey?

I will continue to use elipses (…) and colons as I see fit, provided the Ferrett doesn’t edit them out.

:…: – … – ! +$*! Somebody stop me, I’m a punctuating madman!!’@/#

Wait a second, Notre Dame vs. Boston College and OU vs. Colorado are on TV this weekend and I’m going to be at a Magic tournament!?! Where the hell are my priorities?

The above quandary increases in pain and complexity when one of my best friends chooses to call me from every OU home game and say”Ya know, if you were living in Oklahoma, you could come to every game with me since I’ve got an extra ticket.” Some days Lug, I really dislike you.






The preceeding section is designed to point out that I’m still not talking about college football because I’m respecting the streak (Notre Dame 8-0, Oklahoma 7-0).

People should not wear Hotel draperies as dresses, even if they are named Mena Suvari.

If I should die, I’m requesting that Dick Cheney not attend the funeral.

Speaking of politics, election day is next Tuesday, so why don’t you get off your lazy asses and go vote? No, really. Control of the Senate is going to decide exactly how much George Dubya will get his way for the next two years… And I don’t know about you, but letting the current President run rampant with judicial appointments and what passes for fiscal policy in that administration scares the hell out of me. I won’t even include the posturing over the Middle East, because too many other people have done that for me (read the NY Times Editorial page if you missed it). However, if you like what the Bush Administration is doing, you should get out and vote to show that as well. The last election proved that your vote actually matters, so there are no more excuses. Go Vote.


Yes, I will use any ridiculous word I can to refer to hot women’s mammary glands. I hope that someday when I kill someone I can use these columns as proof that I’m not actually old enough to be tried as an adult.

Speaking of killing someone, I would hate people a lot less if I didn’t have to drive on the road with them. My daily commute is around 140 miles, which leaves ample time for plotting exactly how I would dispose of those who are too moronic to drive or still can’t seem to learn how to use a turn signal.

Last article saw exactly zero people participate in the”make fun of the cheerleaders” contest. That’s right, ZERO. However, if you are still in the mood, you can go back to last week’s article, follow the links, send me your comment and I’ll keep the contest open until next article. However, if you don’t find making fun of cheerleaders amusing enough to waste your time on, I understand.

Wait a second… No I don’t.

This week at The Wang… Spider-Man LIVE.”For the first time in history, Spider-Man appears live on-stage in a breathtaking action-packed stage spectacular for the whole family. Spidey comes to thrilling life right before your eyes – defying gravity and capturing the bad guys with all the flying, climbing and web-slinging heroics you expect from”your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.” So you get Spider-Man, the Wang, but no mention of Mary Jane’s headlight scene from the movie. If this is missing from the stage version I’m demanding my money back.

After last week’s hottest girl on TV disagreement with Ferrett, I have decided to begin developing a definitive list for a future column that he can make fun of all he wants. I will say that Alyson Hannigan would have been included on the list if she had been remotely hot as Willow in the last year. However, the last time I remember her making me go schwing was Season 2 or 3 where she and Xander were playing their evil selves from an alternate dimension. There’s plenty of proof that she can be hot, but she hasn’t exactly been delivering the goods lately.





The Ferrett, having thusly delivered the proof, and now having to take an embarassingly brief pause from editing)

Alright, so I watched Game 7 of the North American (World) Series just like I said I would, and heartily rooted against the Barriest of Bonds (successfully, I might add. That loss was all because of me). Is it just me, or did Fox decide to let someone having a Gran Mal seizure have a crack at controlling the camera changes? They should have put a warning at the beginning of the broadcast for people with Epilepsy, as extreme close-ups of unattractive baseball players were passing me by faster than strobe lights at a rave. Did everyone there attend the Brownian Motion School of Film?

Married life tangent: So I’m sitting downstairs watching the 6th inning of North American (World) Series Game 7, Barry Bonds is at bat, and my wife comes trekking down the stairs and blurts out”Pretty, dangly earring he’s got there.” She then goes on to discuss how incongruous it is to see a big, beefy man like barry wearing such a pretty earring. Once Bonds’ at bat was over, she saw Benito Santiago at bat and said”Wow, he has a diamond stud, and it’s huge!” She then proceeded to point out interesting jewelry during any close-up of a baseball player for the next two innings, all the while just killing me with her canny, completely non-sports observations. Here’s more evidence:

“Hey, I know what those are… All these earrings must be their baseball diamonds!” After which I realized that she’s completely insane and will have to be institutionalized at the earliest convenience.

“You really should do some research on this earring thing to find out if only the married men have them, or if it means something else.”

Then, to top everything off, during the 7th inning stretch she announces,”I’m going upstairs.” I replied,”Really? I need you to stay now and point out all the jewelry and strange things about athletes that I would never notice as a sports fan.” Her answer was,”Hey, I can’t be your color commentator all night, you know.”

She slays me. Funniest sports exchange we’ve ever had.

This is completely not a surprise and took far too long to happen.

I leave you with the one link that may force all of you doubters out there to realize that I’m truly a great guy who cares about how you spend your work time (slacking), and is deserving of your undying devotion and admiration. www.homestarrunner.com There are hours of useless and amusing activities to partake of here, but one of my personal favorites is Strong Bad’s e-mail. Try”Techno” for an easy start and move on to”Guitar” and”Little Questions” for true comic amusement. Then show me the love.

By the way, the Home Star link comes directly from Oklahoma by way of the Luggernaut, former tuba player in the OU band and full-time slacker.

Until next time, keep your wang up and good luck at States.

The Holy Kanoot

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