Mixed kNuts: Warrior Needs Food… Badly! Or The Required Regionals Gauntlet

What the hell are you supposed to do with a metagame that runs at least six decks deep? The smart answer is, of course,”Find the best deck and play it.” But you have to ask: What is the best deck? Is it the deck that has made the most Top 8s so far? Is it the deck that features the best matchups against the field? Is it something else entirely? How about we look at our testing gauntlet and see if we can find the answers, shall we?

I had five pages of this article written a month ago… And then I found out I still had eight weeks to go before Regionals took place and decided to scrap the whole thing and rewrite it when I knew more information. [author name="Mike Turian"]Mike Turian[/author] said earlier last week,”If you can, without consequence, delay a decision until you have more information, then you should always delay the decision” – so like a clairvoyant savant, I chose to”delay” things for another month so I could look”smarter” when I actually did write the article.

(I use quotes there because some might replace the word”delay” with the word”procrastinate,” but I did write a few other things in between now and then… So you’ll just have to agree that I”reprioritized” my topics and we’ll move on, shall we?)

Aside: Those two paragraphs were just to prove that overuse of quotation marks may be the most annoying writing trait in existence. Picture me making”quotation marks” with my hands every time you read them and you’ll understand my fury. Then you’ll probably vomit – but I hear that burns lots of calories, so it’s all good, eh?

Where were we? Oh yes; I was going to tell you how someone broke the metagame as we used to know it. It wasn’t Kai this time (though he changed things a lot). It wasn’t Zvi, it wasn’t Rob Dougherty, or Justin Gary, or any other member of YMG. It wasn’t even me or Jimmy Bean (because we’re certainly moving up on the list of Magic celebrities. I hear we’re almost catching up with Jarrod Bright and Styfen Batten, though old-schoolers like Daniel Crane are still well above us). Nope; the folks who broke it reside in the great state of Seattle (what, you thought it was part of Washington?), and go by the team name of”R&D.”

These R&D people, they latched onto this concept of”balance” a while back and with dogged persistence, they have sought to change the face of constructed tournaments across the globe. At one point the Rock/Paper/Scissors metagame was relatively common, with two or three decks battling it out for the title of”best deck” and everything else relegated to tiers two and three. Then Urza’s Block happened, R&D got their collective act together, and the long road to truly balanced formats began.

If this were a Flores or Marshall article, this is the section where I’d give you a lot of history about the game, the evolution of decks since Academy and Zvi’s Bargain, and then bring you up to date on what the hot decks are today. I’m not as old as Brian and Michael J. are though (actually, I probably am – I just haven’t been playing nearly as long), so let me just say that in spite of the power of Upheaval and the crazy tempo advantages that you can get from Madness, there hasn’t been a truly degenerate Standard deck in some time.

This year is something different, though. You could almost say that we’ve entered the”Golden Era of Balance.” It started with the Extended environment last year, where every Top 8 seemed to feature a radically different mix of decks and continued into the current Standard Regionals metagame. Don’t believe me? Take a look at these numbers from my States analysis last year:

  • U/G Madness 19.8%

  • R/G Beats 10.11%

  • U/G Opposition 6.74%

  • G/W Beats 6.52%

  • Sligh 6.52%

  • Astroglide 5.62%

  • Mono Black Control 5.17%

  • Wake 5.17%

If there were truly one or two dominant decks, it should result in at least one deck that charted in the 30+% range for Top 8s, and we simply didn’t see that at States. The field was heavily aggro (which was helped by the fact that the true control decks listed above were in their infancy), and the results were actually pretty varied. Also, notice that Tog is largely absent from the November 2002 metagame.

Fast forward to April 2003 and you will see the International Regionals results (thus far) look like this:

Deck Name

# Of


% Of

Top 8s

R/G beats



U/G Madness









G/W beats






Mono black control



Three-color Wake









R/G and U/G make up around 40% of the total, Tog makes up another 10%, and the other 50% of the field is comprised of a variety of decks with G/W (I’m including Beasts in this group as well), AstroGlide, and Sligh at the top. The metagame as it exists right now still has no single, dominant deck – and just like last November, it is still dominated by aggressive archetypes.

The upswing in R/G’s numbers is only mildly surprising when you realize that it posted the second-best results of any deck in November. Tog reappears because the pros brought the world back to their senses and pointed out that in the hands of a good player, Dr. Teeth is still the bombay. Sligh, Glide, and G/W are all solid tier 2 decks that feature excellent matchups against certain portions of the field.

For those who dislike counting, that’s six decks that you have to seriously consider matchups for when trying to choose a deck to run at Regionals. Six is a lot more than Rock, Paper, Scissors’ three decks, making finding a deck with good matchups against”the field” a real pain in the ass.

Seriously, what the hell are you supposed to do with a metagame that runs at least six decks deep?

The smart answer is, of course,”Find the best deck and play it.” But you have to ask: What is the best deck? Is it the deck that has made the most Top 8s so far? Is it the deck that features the best matchups against the field? Is it something else entirely?

How about we look at our testing gauntlet and see if we can find the answers, shall we?

A Quick Note About The Bottom Line:

I’m trying to find some objective way to state how good or bad a matchup (or series of matchups) is for particular decks. For most of the Tier 1 and Tier 2 decks, either playtesting results exist on the net or I have done the playtesting myself to find out how certain matches work. Therefore I’ve tried to incorporate this information into the Bottom line section for each deck, and I’ve tried to illustrate exactly how bad certain matchups are.

Example: R/G vs. Tog is R/G +10 percent, while R/G vs. AstroGlide is -30 percent. This means that R/G beats Tog about 10% more than it loses to Tog, while Glide beats R/G about 30% more than it loses. I’m doing it this way instead of the old way (where you’d say 80/20 AstroGlide) because it seems to provide a better quick reference guide within the course of an article and I’m experimenting with using the overall score as a metric. However, if you find the new format too confusing, let me know on the forums or via e-mail and I’ll put my thang down, flip it, and reverse it.

Tier 1 Decks: R/G Beats

This is clearly the numbah one contendah at this point; this comes as no surprise to all the folks who have had their peeps tuned to the pages of Magic websites recently. The interesting part is that there are multiple builds showing up in Top 8s right now, but nobody that I’ve seen has discussed it much.

Here’s the dealio – since there are a lot of R/G decks running around out there, it’s highly likely that you will face the mirror a couple of times over eight to ten rounds. In the R/G mirror, fat wins. Kai’s deck has no fat, and therefore (as my namesake TeddyKGB might say), if you play his decklist straight up, you can probably expect to lose the mirror matches where your opponent is running more fat.

However, the more fat you add to the deck, the worse your matchup against control (and particularly Psychatog) becomes because you lose the speed that makes R/G so lethal for them.

Currently, the most common additions are Blistering Firecat and Phantom Centaur, but some of those crazy French have been adding Reckless Charge to their decks for even faster beatings.

This deck is pretty standard for a current R/G build with maindeck Centaurs. While this one is just off the charts in how oddly it’s built, but it Q’d somebody for Nationals – so who am I to criticize?

Anyway, the point is that if you are going to play R/G, don’t just play Kai’s build – bring your own tech or expect beatings from the mirror.

Matchup Matrix for R/G:

U/G – Bottom Line: Even

This matchup is a tossup, as both decks are hyper-aggressive and are capable of getting the”I Win” opening hand. Wonder makes Game 1 lean in U/G’s favor, while Games 2 and 3 come down to whether Ensnaring Bridge hits the board and is allowed to stay there.

Tog – Bottom Line: +10 percent

R/G was designed as a Tog-killing deck – and up to this point, it has accomplished that task surprisingly well. Unless the Tog deck is completely teched-out for an Aggro field (where it will sacrifice a lot to the mirror match), Game 1 is slanted heavily in Tog’s favor. After sideboarding, the matchup becomes relatively even, but taking only one game after sideboard is nothing to complain about if you have Game 1 in the bag.

That said, read the Tog analysis below for some new developments.

AstroGlide – Bottom Line: -30 Percent

The worst possible matchup for R/G, this matchup is just as awful for you as Tog is for Glide. Astral Slide makes Call of the Herd and Elephant Guide irrelevant, and their life gain makes your burn irrelevant. That makes half your deck about as relevant as Surinam’s vote in the United Nations. If you are playing R/G and sitting at 7-1-1 going into Round 10, and your opponent plays a Turn 2 Lightning Rift, try not to throw up in your mouth. Remember, it’s just a game (and $250, and a trip to Nationals, and…)

G/W Beasts – Bottom Line: Build-dependent, but overall -5 percent or more.

There are two flavors of G/W running around out there, and neither one is a particularly good matchup for R/G. Fast versions of Beasts are probably a worse matchup due to all the fat they pack in around the edges and the fact that Contested Cliffs is diesel. R/G stands a chance if it gets a fast start (they can’t burn your mana critters while you can burn theirs) and gets in a lot of early beats (like a Wild Mongrel guided by Dumbo). However, if you get to turns 5-8 and have no momentum, the G/W player is eventually going to draw creatures that you can’t deal with, sending R/G into a hasty exit to the Bean Bracket. The more G/W you see in the field, the more Flash of Defiance becomes a real consideration for sideboard technology, as it makes Games 2 and 3 very interesting.

Sligh – Bottom Line: +25 percent

I’ve tested the hell out of this matchup, and it’s just awful for Sligh. Because R/G packs so much burn, Goblin Piledriver and Sparksmith are simply not the problems they are for most other decks in the field. There will be times where Sligh burns out your little kids and crushes you, but they will be much fewer and farther between than against most other decks in the field.

Tier 1 Decks: U/G Madness

This the second most popular qualifying deck, and judging by the numbers it has posted thus far, nothing has changed for this deck since last year. It still has the same”I Win” draws, has the same favorable matchups against much of the field, and it no longer gets pounded by Astral Slide. You may be sick of the deck, but playing it at Regionals remains a very solid choice, particularly if you run Jeff’s or Zvi’s updated build (for God’s sake, no Merfolk Looters!), and playtest the hell out of the R/G matchup.

Also note the fact that Zvi’s board includes Gigapede, which Jimmy Bean has been recommending as a standard sideboard card in U/G and W/G for ages. It provides an additional Madness outlet, it can’t be targeted by spells or abilities, and it has six power. Play with it some and you will learn to love it.

Zvi’s U/G Regionals Build

4 Aquamoeba

4 Arrogant Wurm

4 Basking Rootwalla

4 Wild Mongrel

4 Wonder

4 Careful Study

4 Circular Logic

2 Deep Analysis

2 Quiet Speculation

1 Ray of Revelation

4 Roar of the Wurm

1 City of Brass

10 Forest

12 Island


1 Callous Oppressor

4 Equilibrium

3 Gigapede

2 Krosan Reclamation

1 Quiet Speculation

2 Ray of Revelation

2 Upheaval

Matchup Matrix for U/G:

R/G – Bottom Line: Even, but I’m leaning U/G

This matchup is a tossup, as both decks are hyper-aggressive and are capable of getting the”I Win” opening hand. Wonder makes Game 1 lean in U/G’s favor, while Games 2 and 3 come down to whether Ensnaring Bridge hits the board and is allowed to stay there. Zvi’s build means that you don’t have Naturalize as a simple answer to Ensnaring Bridge, but as long as you can use Equilibrium to control the board until you Upheaval them out, you should win the game. I’ll confess that I haven’t seen much testing data on this latest build, but it could definitely skew the matchup more in U/G’s favor.

Tog – Bottom Line: -5

The matchup is a little better for U/G prior to sideboarding, as Tog wins a little over 50% of pre-sideboarded games, but post-sideboard is just awful and contrary to popular belief, Compost doesn’t help much. Gigapede, on the other hand…

A lot of the time this matchup seems to come down to who draws best in the early game and then is able to maintain tempo. It’s a tough matchup from both sides, but still seems to favor Tog by a nose.

AstroGlide – Bottom Line: +5 to +10 with proper sideboarding

Before doing the research on this matchup, I would have said that AstroGlide will wreck U/G pretty consistently. Now though, I’d have to say that U/G can at least hold its own and maybe more. The pre-sideboard matchup still favors Glide by a bit, but after sideboarding U/G gets access to a lot of enchantment hate that can make life miserable for the cycling deck.

Sligh – Bottom Line: +15

Another matchup that is somewhat different in reality than it looks at first glance. U/G should be able to crush Sligh into dust time and again, because there’s no way the Red deck should be able to handle 6/6 fliers. And it can’t. But getting to those 6/6 flyers can actually be rather difficult if there’s a Sparksmith on the board. Thankfully, the tweaks that were put in to allow U/G to perform better against R/G actually help it against Sligh, too; with Quiet Speculation in the deck, you no longer have to have a madness outlet on the table in order to get the Wurms into your graveyard, and as long as the Sligh player doesn’t get the nut-high draw, the matchup should go pretty smoothly for you.

G/W Beasts – Bottom Line: Unknown

I haven’t tested this matchup much myself and very few people have written about it recently, so I can’t give you a line on it (which is definitely the better alternative to making results up). At States, it generally came down to who had their Incarnation of choice working first and whether U/G got manascrewed. Beasts is a different deck from the W/G Madness that did well at States, but the principle is pretty much the same… He who forces through the most damage gets the win.

Tier 1 Decks: Psychatog

This the last of the true Tier 1 decks in the environment, and it is really the only choice available for players who want to play a control deck that doesn’t feature an autoloss. It offers you plenty of opportunity to outplay your opponent, and features the always disgusting”Upheaval, float mana, play a Psychatog” combination. Tog is also the deck with the most variations in build currently, as the deck continues to be modified in order to improve the R/G and W/G matchups at the expense of the mirror.

Here’s Justin Gary’s latest build:

3 Psychatog

1 Chainer’s Edict

4 Circular Logic

3 Compulsion

2 Concentrate

4 Counterspell

3 Deep Analysis

4 Force Spike

3 Ghastly Demise

4 Smother

2 Upheaval

3 Darkwater Catacombs

8 Island

4 Lonely Sandbar

4 Polluted Delta

4 Swamp

4 Underground River


2 Alter Reality

2 Callous Oppressor

2 Chainer’s Edict

1 Deep Analysis

4 Duress

1 Persecute

2 Persuasion

1 Psychatog

The cumbersome Wishes are gone, the creature removal drastically improved, and the R/G and W/G matchups follow suit. On the flip side, any deck running large black creatures simply has to get one kid on the board and the Tog deck is going to have a rough day (Hello, Reanimator!), and this version loses the mirror match with the older version. Can’t have everything, I guess.

Unfortunately, though I have a motherlode of information on how Kai’s Tog builds fared against these days, very little testing has been done with these newer builds, so the information you see in the matchup matrix below is based less on hard facts and more on educated guesses as to how things play out.

Matchup Matrix for Tog:

R/G – Bottom Line: Even

Still not a great matchup, as they have a ton of threats that can slip under the radar, but Ghastly D + Smother mean that they will rarely be able to play an Elephant Guide on creature and expect it to resolve. Justin’s modifications turn this matchup from something that heavily favored R/G into something that looks pretty even. Keep your eyes peeled for more information on how this actually plays out, as I would expect someone like Jon Blevins to revise his testing data for this matchup to include the new Tog build.

U/G – Bottom Line: +5

Tog wins this one by a nose, provided it draws the right mix of counterspells and removal in the early game.

AstroGlide – Bottom Line: +30

Still pretty much an auto-win even with the new build, as Glide only has eight threat cards you need to worry about, and you have more counterspells than that. The current sideboard listing provides no help whatsoever, but all Haunting Echoes ever did was turn a nearly certain victory into something approaching five”9s” of reliability.

Sligh – Bottom Line: +25

Man, Sligh gets its ass kicked by the new deck modifications, as it simply can’t handle 4 Force Spike + 3 Ghastly D + 4 Smother. There’ll be more broken bodies lying around at the end of this one than an Ahnuld Schwarzenegger film (which is really just an excuse for me to post pictures of the new Terminator babe).

W/G Beasts – Bottom Line: -10

I have it on good information that the earlier builds of Tog got beaten up pretty badly by the Beasts deck, as dealing with thirty-six creatures with Call of the Herd, Beast Attack, Glory, and Phantom Centaur in the mix was a real problem. The new version of Tog will still have some of those problems, but the matchup should be improved a bit. That said, I think it’s still in the Beasts player’s favor.

Tier 2 Decks: G/W Beasts

This has two different primary builds, and while you could treat them as two different decks, I’m choosing to lump them together because they use most of the same cards. The actual”Beasts” deck looks something like this:


4 Birds of Paradise

4 Llanowar Elves

4 Call of the Herd

4 Wild Mongrel

4 Ravenous Baloth

3 Exalted Angel

3 Glory

4 Anurid Brushhopper

3 Beast Attack

4 Living Wish


2 Contested Cliffs

4 Wooded Foothills

4 Brushland

3 City of Brass

6 Forest

3 Plains

1 Mountain


1 Nantuko Vigilante

1 Goblin Sharpshooter

1 Genesis

1 Silklash Spider

1 Glory

1 Intrepid Hero

1 Anger

1 Contested Cliffs

1 Caller of the Claw

3 Naturalize

3 Compost

While W/G Madness looks something like this:


4 Llanowar Elves

4 Wild Mongrel

4 Anurid Brushhopper

4 Basking Rootwalla

3 Ravenous Baloth

4 Phantom Centaur

3 Call of the Herd

2 Glory

3 Living Wish

2 Reprisal

4 Elephant Guide


2 Nantuko Monastery

2 Sungrass Prairie

3 Brushland

4 Windswept Heath

4 Plains

8 Forest


3 Naturalize

2 Reprisal

3 Worship

1 Intrepid Hero

1 Nantuko Vigilante

1 Spellbane Centaur

1 Silklash Spider

1 Glory

1 Ravenous Baloth

1 Brushland

The Madness version has actually appeared in more Top 8s than the Beast version… But is that because more people are playing it or because it’s a better call for the metagame? I honestly don’t know. What I do know is that the Beasts build listed here is suboptimal, but for the revised decklist you’ll just have to tune back in when I post my Regionals contest (with more testing results to be included).

Back to the current builds, Zvi said a few weeks ago that he thought Beasts was”going to be the deck to forget, and it’s being ignored for good reason.” I’m going to beg to differ on this one for two reasons:

1) Zvi rarely knows what’s going on in the Standard metagame and sometimes makes silly statements that are the result of lack of knowledge for a particular format (since he never has to play the PTQ formats when they are happening, his focus is usually on something else). He’d be one of the first people I’d go to if I wanted insight into what’s going to happen at Pro Tour: Foo, but asking for insight as to what we scrubs should be doing will yield mixed results.

2) Beasts is a lot better than he gives it credit for being.

I know this from playtesting results and also from watching it gradually increase its share of Regionals Top 8s since the beginning of March. I know this because the deck has surprisingly solid matchups against the field. And I predict that the combination of W/G and Beasts will be at least the third most popular qualifying deck at U.S. and Canadian Regionals (and could be even higher, depending on how many people actually play the deck).

Anyway, enough with my silly assertions – on to the matchups!

Matchup Matrix for W/G Beasts:

R/G – Bottom Line: +15

This matchup is all about stabilizing the board in time for your fat and life-gainers to go to work. If you are playing the Beasts version, then Contested Cliffs becomes a wrecking ball while Glory makes their burn on your creatures largely irrelevant. Between this matchup, the Tog update, and the potential problems with the U/G matchup, R/G may find itself in a world of hurt come May 3rd. Then again, I’ve been wrong before…

U/G – Bottom Line: Unknown

This is one matchup where Merfolk Looter can make a significant difference, but that has mostly been pushed out of the picture by R/G. In its place, you have the inferior Aquamoeba (ooo, a 1/3 or a 3/1? Scary!) and a couple of Quiet Speculations (for Roars and Deep Analysis, which actually are a bit scary). As I stated earlier, this often ends up being a battle of Incarnations and a”Battle of the Beatdown” to see which player can put through the most damage. If the Beasts player gets enough time to resolve a Wish and get an active Intrepid Hero or Silklash Spider on the board, the outcome is largely elementary. Living that long is not.

At VA States, Giant Growth actually helped W/G a lot in this matchup and Tomi Walamies has seen the same thing occur over in Finland, so it could be the crucial element to push W/G over the top.

Tog – Bottom Line: +10

I have it on good information that there are versions of Beasts out there that are beating Psychatog and beating it consistently. Unfortunately, I don’t know which version of Tog was being played, so I don’t know what effect the updated build has on the numbers. What I can say is that Kai’s Tog can lose pretty badly to Beasts, as Tog has a hard time stopping all the kids (especially when seven of the spells flash back and the Beasts player can give their whole team Protection from Black).

I think the newer builds of Tog will be able to handle this matchup a little better, but the matchup still leans in W/G’s favor.

Sligh – Bottom Line: +30

Beatings, Beatings, and more Beatings. Chump block until the big kids get on board, gain some life, crush some dreams. Rinse, lather, repeat (or something). Flash of Defiance makes this plan a bit more problematic in Games 2 and 3 – but any time they draw Flash, it’s one less threat you have to deal with. Ensnaring Bridge complicates things a bit more, but with eight sacrificial lifegaining Beasts and the possibility of Genesis recursion, they should have a rough time burning you out, especially if you have the proper Wish sideboard.

AstroGlide – Bottom Line: +5

Every deck has to have one particularly rough matchup before sideboarding, and this one is probably it for Beasts. Mass creature removal is going to be rough for W/G to handle, at least until you get some recursion going on. However, if you manage to gain some life through saccing any of your beasts or through some Angel beatings, it is going to take the Glide deck a little while to kill you. Additionally, don’t forget that Glory can protect your creatures from both Starstorm and Slice and Dice, so getting her in the yard can be crucial. Regardless, Game 1 is a fight that you probably won’t win.

Post-sideboarding, this match is a different story, as you suddenly gain access to both sides of Ray of Revelation (which was not included in the builds above), which will quickly ruin a Glide player’s day. Be smart with what you Wish for and the match should go your way.

Tier 2 Decks: Sligh

I’d write a section about it, but I honestly can’t figure out how it has done so well in the face of all the other decks listed here. I do know that it can beat U/G from time to time, and it punishes all the bad zombie decks that could be floating around out there, and it beats bad draws from pretty much every deck out there… But should that be enough to put it among the top 6 qualifying decks? I kind of doubt it.

Regardless of my inability to figure out how Sligh has been winning, you will still need to test against it, as it is bound to make an appearance or three at Regionals, and you should definitely know how to beat it.

I’d do a matchup matrix for it, but every single deck listed here beats it pretty consistently, so why bother? Those who disagree may feel free to prove me wrong at their leisure. Time to move on…

Tier 2 Decks: Astroglide

This the wild card in the metagame right now. It packs the most creature demolishing spells in the environment, which should translate to good matchups against the creature heavy field that Regionals projects to be. The problem is that it practically has an auto-loss against the one major control deck in the field. It also features no countermagic, making attacks against its engine (Slide and Rift) completely effective, and turning Ray of Revelation into possibly the most useful sideboard card in the environment (which negatively impacts the effectiveness of Opposition strategies as well, but that’s a topic for another time).

So what do you have to do in order to make Glide a winning strategy again? I think you have to consider a transformational sideboard where you take out the enchantments and creature control and turn into something else. Jim ran a land destruction board a couple of weeks ago that he found on the net and it seemed interesting, but wasn’t always that effective. I’ve given up on Slide myself, so don’t have much to propose here, but I do think pursuing alternatives would make for an interesting article or two.

R/G – Bottom Line: +30

Perhaps Glide’s best matchup (as Sligh has a slightly better chance of overwhelming it early), AstroGlide destroys R/G like MOABs dropped on presidential palaces. Boarding in Naturalize helps a little, but not enough to shift things radically in your favor for Games 2 and 3.

U/G – Bottom Line: -5

Before doing the research on this matchup, I would have said that AstroGlide will wreck U/G pretty consistently. Now though, I’d have to say that U/G can at least hold its own and maybe more. The pre-sideboard matchup still favors Glide by a bit, but after sideboarding U/G gets to tutor for a lot of enchantment hate that can make life miserable for the cycling deck. This is one of two matchups where the inclusion of Quiet Speculation radically improved how U/G performs.

Tog – Bottom Line: -35

Your chances of winning this match are absolutely abysmal, and we have yet to find a solution that works. Tog is a very large reason why choosing to play AstroGlide for Regionals will be a complete crapshoot.

Sligh – Bottom Line: +25

Sligh has a small chance to overwhelm you with early beaters and then burn you out before you can stabilize, but you generally should have a large advantage here since your creature removal and lifegain will prevail over the long run. Get an Angel on the board early and go to work.

G/W Beasts – Bottom Line: -5 or worse.

Game 1 looks good for the Glide player unless the Beast player is able to Wish for a problem card that you can’t deal with. Games 2 and 3 are a completely different story, as all they need to do is draw one Ray of Revelation to make things extremely difficult for you. It’s strange that one card can make such a huge difference in a match, but that’s what happens when you play a control deck with no counterspells…

I’ll admit here that my analysis of the matchups isn’t going to be perfect (it’s possible I’ve been too optimistic in some cases and too pessimistic in others), but hardly anyone’s will be – especially where there are at least six decks that you know will see heavy play at Regionals. That equates to a ton of testing and matchup analysis that you have to be aware of, and in order to have time to do that yourself you either need to be a Magic Pro, a college student, or recently unemployed like yours truly. Regardless, I’ve done my best to be objective about how each matchup plays out, and particularly on how recent changes to builds of the standard decks will affect the results of each matchup.

To tally things up here in a handy, dandy table (since this article is exceedingly long), we see that the full matchup matrix looks like this:





G/W Beasts
















Tog (Updated)














G/W Beasts














And the overall score for each deck is:

R/G: -10

U/G: +20

Tog (Updated): +55

AstroGlide: +5

G/W Beasts: +60 (with U/G still unknown, though this one has the least data available to make assertions, and could therefore be too optimistic)

Sligh: -120 (but again I state that it is managing to somehow win overseas; I just haven’t found a reason to explain it yet.)

If you had to choose a best deck from the field, according to my results you’d have to pick either Beasts, the updated anti-creature build of Tog, or U/G. The metagame has shifted away from the point where R/G decks are going to carry the day, and AstroGlide doesn’t really dominate the creature decks these days like it did when the deck was new.

Then again, that’s just my opinion, I could be wrong. If you feel I’ve made any mistakes in my analysis, feel free to tell me about it in our forums. If your concerns prove to be correct, I’ll gladly reexamine the issues I’ve covered here and see how it changes things.

For the moment though, I’m going to go have a beer. Thatsalottanalysis, youknowhatimean?

Making like a whale…

I just want to take a moment to thank the folks over on The Sideboard for posting all the decklists for Pro Tour: Venice in a quick and responsible manner. I mean, I didn’t even have to bitch about this one, so you guys are definitely improving on the time it takes to provide important information to the community.

What’s that? They still haven’t posted the decklists from Venice? For a Constructed tournament? For [expletive deleted] sake guys, get on the ball!

It’s only been a month – should we now expect PT decklists to be posted quarterly or something? Freaking Ben Bleiweiss can’t even finish his contest because you guys haven’t posted the decklists that you said you’d post”soon” three weeks ago. There aren’t 18,000 words on the line this time, but it would be nice to see if he lost another one of his own contests by a horrible margin (and yes, that’s the most trivial possible reason I could think of for actually posting the decks in a timely fashion).

Please, post the decklists and stop making us wait so long for them so that I can go back to beaching about more interesting and entertaining things. You’ve only been doing this”Pro Tour” thing since 1996, one would think that you’d have the hang of it by now.

Gah; I sound like my mom.

The Hip-Hop Lyric Game

Before our last road trip, I made a mix CD to bump on the way to the tourney and it turned out rather well. Instead of just posting the list here though, I figured I’d make it more fun and give you a sample of a few lyrics from each song and let you guess what they are for yourselves. I’ll post the list in its entirety over in the forums after someone guesses the entire Mix CD via e-mail or 24 hours after this article is posted, whichever comes first.

Just an opening hint: I’ve been listening to a lot of J5 lately, so they show up in multiple places here. Everything else is pretty standard stuff.

1)”…As I crush so-called willies, thugs and rapper Dons. Getting that ass kicked fast like Ramadan, it’s that rap phenomenon, Don Dada.”

The first one is easy. No hints here.

“I know a stressful relationship is hard to deal with, but here’s how you deal with it… On your weekly visits, use a codename to protect the innocent.”

Longtime readers may recognize that this song actually breaks my own rules against listening to certain individuals, but the song features the return of”Cookie Monster,” so it had to be done.

“…She’s like salmonella, the kind of ho with no dough and condoms wit’ her.”

One of the two best songs on the album it originated from, whenever it bumps on the stereo much booty shaking ensues.

“You baby emcees drink Pedialyte. While underground doesn’t like you, the media might…”

Pure Quality.

“I got a headache and it’s not a tumor…”

Another easy one. This guy’s guest spots are actually better than his albums, (which makes no sense), but it remains hot nonetheless.

“I’m just a scrub, I can’t stuff, I’m too light to fight, I’m a little too (thin?) to win, so I ride at night.”

R-E-S-P-E-C-T em, cuz they on fire.

“We payin’ homage as well as returnin’ favors… candy for your ears, hear us now, or hear us later.”

It’s from the chorus of the song, so no extra hints should be necessary.

“They like me, I want ’em to love me like they love ‘Pac.'”

Thanks to one of our forum users for setting me straight on the proper lyrics for this one. Always assume that I am a moron until I prove otherwise. On another note, I’m already sick of this song, so feel free to replace it on your own mix CD, should you choose to recreate this one.

“Trick love da kids!”

This song cracks me up every time I hear it. Once a thug, always a thug…

“People better lay low, stick you up like Velcro ‘cuz me and Nelly say so.”

I took a bunch of crap for including this remix on the album, but I think it’s mostly because some people in my crew don’t like chicks mixed in with their rap unless they are a) Missy Elliot, b) Beyonce, or c) scantily clad and in videos. I just shrugged it off though because I liked the flow.

“Never think just for shits and giggles do we spit syllable riddles for bits and kibbles so chicks can wiggle and shake, cuz this image is fake…”

Anybody else notice that flutes always seem to make hip-hop songs better? I can’t figure it out, but it seems to work.

Closet Freak – Cee Lo. This one’s a freebie because I couldn’t find any notable lyrics in the song, but I like it anyway. Shrug.

“Check it, regardless of what you heard this year… the party atmosphere is only cracking right here and uh, we givin’ you the (bean?) that you want, you come clean if don’t know what I mean…”

A smooth jam from the most popular band on the CD; they come correct with almost everything they do.

“I like the way you shakin that ass, so don’t quit… you know you get a helluva response from my d…”

Jim’s favorite line from this song (the other stand-out song from the same album as Number 3) is pretty dirty, but it’s one of the cleaner lyrics in the whole track. Not to be played in polite company unless she’s into that sort of thing (and if she is, then you are a lucky man).

“Say dawg, what kinda nigga be on top o’ da world, million dollar status got me on top of your girl…”

Almost every one of these kids went on to make platinum solo records, but they can’t touch this album with a ten-foot pole. If the group comes back together to make another album, I’ll be on it like white on Julianne Moore.

“As the song goes on, you will notice a change… the way I throw down, the way I say my name. The mic that I’m packin, is flame resistant, so MC be cool, and keep your distance.”

An old-school track that may be one of the top 20 ever, it’s lyrically solid, but the beat is what makes it so amazing. Give Jimmy Bean some green, pump this on your stereo, and watch him go to work. The highest of physical comedy.

“While ya’ll drink the Similac, my rhymes are breast fed. No artificial nipples, I flip the real skillz. I thought I told you once, I kick the lyrical windmills.”

You cannot argue with a song that tells you the rhymes are breast fed. It cannot be done. This whole song is filled with catchy hooks (or”lyrical malaria” as they call it), so choosing just one example to post here was hard.

The Kitchen Sink

This author vows, from the end of this paragraph forward, not to support the editor of this here site here’s fetish with the word”Hundroog” (go ahead, get it out of your system now). ( ! – The Ferrett) Therefore, the party of the first part, should the word”Hundroog” (again I’m sure) actually need to be used in an article, has vowed to type something like Hundrjglke in it’s place (like”Klaatu, Verata, Hundrglgrle!”), hopefully ending the ridiculous”Oh God, Run!” nonsense, and depriving the party of the second part of what seems to be far too much fun. I do this as a public service to the community, and respectfully request that all other Featured Writers on this here site here do the same.

Rizzo might be the only one who understands this, since he and I seem to watch the same”movies,” but Leesa from Mike’s Apartment may be one of the hottest women ever.

Note to self: Find a creative way to rate pr0nstars that will make it past site censors in a future article.

This may be my favorite Fark.com Photoshop contest of all time:

No comment, just beauty

We have so many more things in common with the Iraqis than we’ve been lead to believe… Like looting. If I were a really funny guy, this would be the spot where I put in a joke about South Central being renamed South Los Angeles, but we all know I’m not, so I won’t.

As to the question of who’s hotter, Naomi Watts of Charlize Theron (a topic stolen from the esteemed Mr. Becker), the only thing that even puts Naomi in the running is her Aussie accent. I mean Naomi is admittedly quite attractive, but she’s not completely ridiculous like Charlize (with evidence provided here, here, and here.

Speaking of Naomi Watts though… Two words: Me Sandwich.

Okay, the next Editor of a Magic site to run an article about shuffling gets a personal beating from me. And if it follows on the heels of another article telling us that playing well is more important than having a good deck (derf, derf), then I’m bringing some friends.”Strategy Site” my ass…

Heh. Nuclear Wessels.

This is a phenomenon that needs to replicate itself throughout the sporting world. In the meantime, it is yet another reason to watch soccer games (or football, for you uptight Euros who can’t stand the Americanization (it actually originated in Ireland, by the way) of the name).

Does anyone else hear”blow-by-blow coverage of the Oscar’s parties” and think that it can’t possibly be something covered by a family friendly site? But you’d pay big dollars to see footage anyway? Yeah, me neither.

Can someone _please_ tell me what is going on with the homophobia/gay-bashing/Pro Tour Personals captions over on the MiseTings forums?  Didn’t we move past the point where this was completely unfunny about ten Pro Tours ago? If I really wanted stuff like that, I’d go read Team Academy.

Oh wait…

A couple whose careers plummeted at nearly the same rate, Patrick had this to say about their date,”Yeah, guys, can you believe it? I’m really going out with Minnie Driver!

Chris Judd looks more like David Arquette every day (and there’s a career you want to emulate), while Melissa Rivers begins to show eerie similarities to Tupperware.

Didn’t Rachel Leigh Cook used to be hot? It’s amazing what appearing in Josie and the Pussycats can do to someone’s looks…

You know Botox is really beginning to work when Janet Jackson looks more like she did in Good Times than in Rhythm Nation. Not that this is a bad thing, I guess; it’s just a little disconcerting.

Would you give up a”no smokers” policy for her? I’d at least consider it

Obligatory Jennifer Garner link (no chick section this week)… I’d say something about how she’s suddenly single as well, but I was trying to keep that to myself in order to stave off all the gamer competition.

Kelly Osbourne tries to fit in at the”Midget Porn Benefit.”

Man, I love ‘fros more than almost anybody out there, but if you don’t have something nice to say

Obligatory Nicole Kidman picture, who incidentally is in a tie with Jennifer Garner for the”Hottest Actress You Not Only Want to Take to Bed, but Also Want to Wake Up Next to Award.” (Julia Roberts used to be in the running, but she dropped off the face of the Earth after she got married.)

How has Renee Zellwegger gone from”Damn she’s hot” in Jerry McGuire to”Dear God her face is creepy” at the Oscars? Did Michael Jackson’s plastic surgeon get to her or something?


Last but not least, I certainly have to agree with [author name="Bennie Smith"]Bennie Smith[/author] and [author name="Jon Becker"]Jon Becker[/author] about the whole PG-13 rating scheme. Adults get shafted by this stoopid rating again and again (and adult males in particular since for some reason females seem to be a lot less interested in seeing Jennifer Anniston’s breasts then men. But you can show George Clooney’s, Mel Gibson’s, and Kevin Costner’s butts and still run a decent shot at getting a PG-13! Go figure.)

Pearl Harbor was awful, but seeing James King and the uber-droolworthy Kate Beckinsale in no clothing would have almost made the movie worth watching. (Though I’m guessing James (or rather Jaime) would have had to remove her incredibly sexy nipple rings for the scenes. Tragic, but still an acceptable tradeoff.). While on the subject, can we please have more films or TV series with these two actresses in them? I mean if Amanda Peet is still finding work (and she clearly can’t act), how hard could it be to get James and Kate on the payroll?

Special Note:

If your name is Micah and you have been e-mailing me about Windborn Opposition, I