Mountain, Shock You, Go

After a brief work-induced hiatus, John Friggin’ Rizzo returns with a thirty-four page bang! Strategy, deck tips, tournament reports, fresh Time Spiral ideas… all from the twisted mind of the creator of Friggorid himself. As usual, John pulls no punches – his articles are all prefaced with a “Buyer Beware.” Enjoy!

Much like I was on pins and needles counting the minutes until Torment was legal so I could use Ichorid, Mutilate, and Nantuko Shade in my sexy Braids deck, I couldn’t wait until Kamigawa Block said “Sa-yo-na-ra,” (Smith punch! omg ow hammer don’t hurt ‘em), not so much because I had new ideas, but because I was absolutely getting sick to death of seeing Yosei and Kokusho hit the board, even when they were on my side.

With that said, I was still anxious to abuse both of those crazy sumbitches, win some freakin’ games and rip off little kids in trades. So let’s give Kamigawa the sendoff that it richly deserves. Heh, like I didn’t just get in on the tail end or anything.

Thus, Gutless Ghoul is too good to put into your deck (for one reason alone, can you guess?!), thus, you must include four copies — five if you can get away with it. Coldsteel Heart is equal parts the sh** and the shiznit, and while it doesn’t give you two-fer-one like the Signets, you should still play the maximum because it’s just like Mox Diamond without that pesky “discard a land” provision, kinda.

Both of these sumbitches found a home up in Nearly Mono Black In Standard, in anticipation of Coldsnap losing its hymen and becoming Standard-legal. Gutless Ghoul: already my favorite creature in Coldsnap. Now it’s yours too.

Not really, but play along with me, k/pls/thx/brb/afk/btw/swf/ftw/wordemup.

After watching, jaw agape, Solar Flare demonstrate its resilience and sheer freakin’ goodness over and over at Nats, I decided to jump up on the jock and toss a few of those neato Zombifys into the deck. Not textless though, for those are obviously better than the originals, and I’m only good enough for the Odyssey versions. Well, maybe only the Ninth Edition ones, but you get the point.

With the new and improved adaptation, I was looking forward to the testing of this bad boy at Crossroads after or in between rounds of the Casual Legacy. However, when I arrived, still shaking off the Nats chill from super-cold venue of erect nipples and shrunken sacs in 95 degree heat, I was made aware that there was yet another NAC qualifier and damn if it don’t start in like, twenty minutes.

I guess I’d better take out these Coldsnap cards and make this mofo tourney-legal. After running around all silly-like for nineteen minutes, trying to both legalize my deck and get a semi-real sideboard, this was the result:

Whatever, my deck was now once again officially legal, and is it just me, or does the above appear to be pulling itself closer and closer to “net deck” status? Perhaps this means I’m finally starting to “get it,” though you know your breath: don’t hold it.

With back-to-back Top 8s under my belt, I figured why not add another? Yeah, I expect to Top 8. Me. Okee-dokee.

Five rounds of love with twenty-six overweight lovers in the house. Rather than bore you with the details, and prevent myself from typing “I stayed alive until turn 6 and, well, just won,” or “I didn’t and lost,” I’ll give you the Cliff Notes version, but with less sex.

In fact, I’ll do you one better and delete the entire report, since it’s way old school by now, and since I didn’t win you don’t really care and neither do I.

Suffice it to say, I finished second, losing the finals in a tough third game so what you don’t care that Ben Lundquist guy won the NACs but this time it wasn’t Hot And Uncensored Ben On Ben Action. Brian Effing Smith made Top 8, so how legit could the tourney have been?

Lessons from the NAC in which I finished second:

Lesson 1:

I went first and met the following:

T2: Eye of Nowhere on your bounceland.
T3: Stone Rain your land.
T4: Stone Rain your land.
T5: Eye of Nowhere your land.
T6: Compulsive Research, targeting myself.
T7: Sorry for the interruption… Demolish your land.
T8: Demolish your Signet.
T9: Eye of Nowhere your bounceland.

At this point, I asked Nick to do something. He was happy to oblige and hit me with a 16/16 Magnivore. I asked him after the game “did you salivate when you saw the bounceland?” His reply was to wipe the drool from his chin.

Moral: All ‘Vore decks are lame.

Lesson 2:

I opened up Life From the Loam, Overgrown Tomb and Shizo. Unfortunately, I also had Crime/Punishment, and the Danger of Cool Plays started to stew up in my dome. I dropped a Signet and prayed for Chris to drop — holy sh**, he did – his own Shizo!

omg so many cool plays how do I choose!

I was thinking of the coolest possible play, since there were so many, and when he dropped Arena I could feel my manhood poking up to see what cool play I was going to make. I dropped Shizo, Wasting our lands, Loamed it back and tried to play it again in the same turn. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I’m sure it was cool.

The next turn, I cast Punishment for two. No, not play a land and cast it for three… I cast it for two, killing both of our signets. Cool play! Except that he has Arena and I don’t.

Wtf was I thinking? I guess I wasn’t.

Moral: Kewl plays may get you (repeatedly) laid, but they don’t win Magic games.

Lesson 3:

Shawn, on the play, does the coolest turn 1 Husk play ever:

Plains, go.

Moral: If you want to represent Condemn, start on turn 1. Even if you go first.

Lesson 4:

I am so good at Magic.

On turn 4, I Wrath away Frenzied Goblin, kicked Mauler and Kird Ape.

Andrew drops a pair of Dryad Sophisticate.
On turn 5, I Wrath them away as well.
Told you I was good.

Moral: Sometimes, I really am good.

Lesson 5:

Kagemaro is so good he makes *all other creatures* teh suck.

Moral: Before the rotation, he was the best creature in Standard. Period.

He can take out everything else that I can think of, and if there is nothing in his way, he can take out the opponent. Can your Wrath of God do that?

Best creature in old-school Standard,
An instant Wrath of God that can attack for ten.
It’s all so wrong.
Now he’s gone.
That doesn’t really rhyme, but it’s close enough.

The very next week, I went 2-3 due to judgment calls that turned out, well, badly.

Q. When your opponent is at five and you have a tapped 7/7 Kagemaro and he attacks with his only two creatures, you have to ask yourself if:

A. He wants me to sac Kagemaro so I can’t win next turn.
B. He is simply going to play another creature to speed bump ‘Maro.
C. He has Demonfire.

If you don’t sac Kagemaro, the answer will always be “C.” To your freakin’ face.

Q. When your opponent has countered your Nightmare Void three times in a row, should you dredge it yet again?

A. Sure, he can’t counter it forever.
B. Hell, let him counter it; that’s one less counter for a “real” spell.
C. Hinder.

Again, the answer can only be “C.”

By the way, have you ever been Demonfired for 22? That’s my personal record and I issue a challenge to all you would-be Demonfire-to-the-grill targets: beat that, yo.

The next week, and the official last chance qualifier, saw me scratch my dome thinking of ways to beat control, which is what I expected to see in droves, since I saw that sh** in droves and figured that Magic players are nothing if not creatures of habit who travel in droves.

Thus, I set my mind to beating control, and let the aggro fall where it may.

This was the result:


I forget, but it had Imaginary Pet. Four of them.

It beats control, in theory, and in practice, so long as the control player sucks. Owling Mine lost its ass, and thank you for making my job that much easier, and Solar Flare didn’t have to like it one bit. Turn 3 Circu pretty much spells “game over” for them, and Dimir Doppelganger stealing Yosei equals “match over.”

It’s one amazing sight to see a pile of ten cards stacked under Circu, none of which your opponents can play, at least until they kill him, which, well, I probably won’t allow.

That was the idea: you control decks like to draw cards, so have at it. In fact, here’s a Compulsive Research, targeting you. Yes, that’s fun when they have two cards left.

The problem was aggro, and since I knew it was going to be a problem, I can’t bitch. Though I will because I’m unlucky at Magic: twice I had an aggro deck (Orzhov and B/U/G) down to one card in their library, and twice I failed to pull a spell to trigger Circu. On the plus side, I did get my Glimpses Extracted on two separate occasions.

Nevertheless, chalk up another 2-3 result because the mill deck still doesn’t work.

Whatever, the NAC qualifiers are over, and by the time you read this, someone will have won days weeks a month or so ago. But it wasn’t me, and I’m fine with that because I just broke the format:

Mill + creature control = ban Glimpse.

Wow, I just figured out how to break it even more:


That way, you don’t have to use White: just use the Black Wrath. But Kamigawa is gone, which basically means you’ll have to win with real creatures, not ch33tures like Yosei and Kokusho.


If Wizards is going to release a billion sets in the next four minutes and expect poverty stricken bruthas like me to stand in line to gobble that sh** up, then I’ll…Well, gobble that sh** up, yo.

End Anger.

Wow, I’m like, a crazy man.

Time Spiral.

It only hit me when I was talking to Brian F***in’ Smith the other day, which was many days ago:

Me: Time Spiral, you mess.
Smith: The prerelease is less than a month away.

I hadn’t even digested Dissension fully, let alone Coldsnap, and here comes a large set? Remember when I said “give us more sets than we can afford?” So young, so foolish, me.

Anyway, Crossroads celebrated their seventh anniversary by staying open all night, providing free food and drink and hot chyx, free Constructed cash prize tourneys all weekend long, cheap IA Block drafts, ten-proxy Vintage (4x Bazaar of Baghdad much?), and more ridiculous Magical things than you can shake a stick at.

Little Rizzo strongly suggested that we should be there for 32 hours. If I wrack my brain to come up with the ultimate omgdontstop fest that I could possibly imagine, I wouldn’t want to do it for 32 hours in a row. The only thing I could ever want to do for that long is sleep.

I like sleep.
Because when I sleep, I dream.
And when I dream, anything can happen.
And when anything can happen, bet your ass it does.
Grrls chyx wimmin
Many times in a row.

By the way, Turbo Mill does can beat control.
Kagemaro does can f*** that he’s the un@b0mb3R!
Isn’t that just like me to go and break a format just as it’s about to end.

We went and did the “32 hour thing,” and boy are my arms tired. I went 1-3 with dumb ass mill in the Standard ‘cause I refused to believe the hype and kindly gave back some of those 150-plus Constructed points I earned in the last six months since 1800 is teh suck.

A few hours later, Little Rizzo and I played in the Constructed Two-Headed and took third because we’re sick with it and milling an opponent to death is so much easier when they have to worry about the guy with Kokusho and Yosei in play and completely ignore you.

We did get to beat a girl, a too cute and adorable girlie at that.

Little Riz: I think I scored some points with her.
Me: Dude, you’re ten.
Little Riz: Perhaps you should take this opportunity to explain the birds and bees dealio.

By the way, Jester’s Scepter is friggin’ ridiculous. But it’s one of those cards that isn’t ridiculous. Paradox, that card. I dropped it and saw the following five secrets:

Kodama, Voidslime, land, land, land

Little Riz tried to sac Kokusho to Miren, one of the bad guys threw a Voidslime at it, and I was just about to grin and bear it.

Little Riz: Old dude, look under Scepter.
Me: Neato! Voidslime your own damned Voidslime with your own damned Voidslime.

A few turns later, they thought they got back into the game…

Opponent: Finally!
Me: I hope that’s not Kodama.
Opponent: Phooey!
Other Opponent: Drat!
Me: Kerpow!

Anyway, everyone’s favorite rogue technician, Mikey M, decided to play my uber un-Meandeck-like Vintage Friggorid in the ten-proxy tourney. I threw the deck together on a lark, and could barely remember the Stevester/Meanster build, so I just added 4 Bazaar, Lotus, Moxen, Frantic Search, Brainstorm and Strip Mine and called it good. I didn’t expect to play in the tourney, since it did start at a million o’clock and I knew I’d be, oh, a wee bit weary. Plus, Vintage frightens me, just like those flavor crystals.

I was more than half asleep as I watched Mikey keep every opening hand ever just because they all seemed to have Bazaar and a dredge card. He went 4-2, losing both times to Goblins, if you can believe that, and beat an aggro white weenie combo build (eh?), Fish, some goofy deck with Trinket Mage and another that used Goblin Welder.

Vintage is insane in so many regards, though I did see one Tendrils (normal version) on Tendrils (with Kobolds and Skullclamp) match that lasted about 25 turns. Black Lotus off the top isn’t as cool as I thought it would be or should be. Thus, I can say, with 100% certainty:

Vintage is either the ultimate thinking man’s format or the absolute worst pile of ass.

A few hours later, at three-freakin-a.m., Mental Magic hit the table. Now I suck at things I’m good at when they take place that late, and I likely suck even more when I already suck at the thing plus add a silly hour of the morning. But I am never this much teh suck:

Tyler Foss was trying to think of a card that cost 3BB. After a few moments, he excitedly blurted out:


Everyone in the room shrugged.

Tyler: Contagination, you know, the minus two counters thing.
Me: Contagion?
Tyler: It’s three up in the mizzo, frigginrizzo.

The next morning, the Casual rolled around. I played Mono Black In Legacy because it, like Red decks and Al Davis pre-bargain-rack-era sweatsuits, can just win baby. Peep this:

Utter sickness, that one. Needless to say, it beat the living snot out of everything (11-0 and counting), since not many decks can function very efficiently when they have a total of zero resources.

Goblins, Affinity, Threshold, Friggorid (heh), Homebrew, what have you — they bit the dust. It’s one sexy feeling when you can Hymn the Goblin player and Contagion both of his dudes on the same turn. Likewise, Affinity hates “modular on the stack, Contagination your dudes!” and a pair of Hyppies don’t have to enjoy being 0/1s either.

Contagination is so good you should be ashamed of yourselves. But I passed it to Randy Buehler, who returned the favor (of sorts) by passing me Dark Depths.

Yes, but how many games did you beat Randy Buehler with Dark Depths?
Oh, just two.
That’s fine, but it’s not like you beat him two games in a row with Dark Depths.
Actually, it’s just like that.

Flash forward a couple weeks, weeks in which I finally realized (for real this time) that the mill deck isn’t all that, no bag of chips having anything to do with it. It flat out doesn’t work, for me at least and you too so stop trying.

Mono Black in Legacy, however, just keeps winning, mostly due to my amazing play skills, and Brian Smith’s complete inability to own any of the real duals, thereby taking two to the face anytime he drops a shock land into play. That Smith, I’ll tell you: if he wasn’t so awful at Magic, he’d be like, real good at Magic.

Anyway, Little Rizzo and I walked into Crossroads for yet another casual (thanks to the rain that cancelled his and Abs’ soccer games), and there’s Smith playtesting something, ugh, White. He asks me if I have any Whispers of the Muse. Obv, say I, then query why he would require such an outdated card. He informs me that it’s being reprinted in Time Spiral.

Pshaw, say I.
Hells to the yes, nugga, he replies.

He really does talk like that; it’s all “nugga,” “beeyotch,” “sucker duck,” and “pimp my ride” with that guy. You’ll have to take my word for it.

Then he hands me a list he compiled of all the Time Spiral reprint cards he believes are worth testing. My teeth fall out of my mouth and land upon my jaw lying quietly on the floor when I see:

Wall of Roots
Spike Feeder
Gaea’s Friggin’ Blessing
Lightning Angel
Mystic Enforcer
Mystic Snake
Teferi’s Moat
Faceless Butcher
Dauthi Slayer
Funeral Charm
Soltari Priest
Et cetera, you know the drill.

Mountain, Shock you, go.
With Buyback.
And Flashback.
Echo done been paid.

At this point, I wanted to rush home and masturbate get busy with stacks of old cards that never thought they’d again see the Light of Day/Darkest Hour/omg combomania!

Incidentally, when you pay echo costs, you’re supposed to say “echo done been paid.” It’s up to you whether you’d like to add “all up on this mutha f***a,” though I strongly suggest you consider the surrounding company.

Moments later, when I checked out Gatherer on the store computer, I saw teh funnay:

Tormod’s Crypt.

Standard legal.
Extended Legal.

Wizards giveth, Wizards taketh away.

At first, I figured this was reprinted just to hurt my feelings:

You did okay with that graveyard-abusing deck, Johnny Riz, but ‘nuff’s enuff.

Then I spin me round like a record:

We saw how that graveyard-abusin’ deck was silly, and rather than watch it die a slow and miserable death due to being metagamed into oblivion, we figured we’d reprint the ultimate hoser and make sure the deck goes out on top, meaning no one will ever play it again and boy what a run it had there for nine minutes last year for who in their right mind would play a graveyard deck with Crypts in every Extended sideboard?

See, it’s always about me. Really.

By the way, Crypt doesn’t kill Ichorid as much as you would think, then again, much of that has to do with the pilot. Bad players with a turn 1 Crypt: not so hard to beat. Good players with an any turn Crypt: very hard to beat. Either way, just use Withered Wretch — he’s better than a one-shot that can be played around like Whistler’s Mother.


Time Spiral’s going to be one of those things where we sit in a [preview] interview and I shock you multiple times in a row. And I will shock you again.
Mark Rosewater, Inquest, July 2006 issue

I figured Mark was perhaps being a bit nutty when he said that, however, it turns out he may have been correct, even if he never did reply to my imaginary request for a personal preview interview.

Following Time Spiral, that’s what I’m worried about.

You should worry. How the hell you and your boys going to one-up yourselves now?

Dear Mark,

You are Captain F***ing Insano.

Shocked Multiple Times In A Row Boy

Should Mark Rosewater official nickname be “Captain F***ing Insano?”

A. Hells to the yes.
B. Heavens no.
C. It has much more bite and ass and panache than “Woody.”

If this passes, Aaron Forsythe official nickname must become, by default,

“Crazy Mutha F***a Named Ice Cube.”

Quick, those of you who have a clue what the States metagame is going to look like, please stand up. Sit the hell down, all y’all, ‘cept for the chyx.

Other than Akroma immediately going into Solar Flare, nunya knows Jack, though I bet you know more than I, which doesn’t really count for anything.

Discard is king, for Black rules. But wait, Dodecapod. Hopefully, there are plenty of peeps who didn’t play in Invasion block, thus, will not sideboard free 5/5s.

Dredge with Gaea’s Blessing looks insane. But wait, Tormod’s Crypt. Hopefully, there are plenty of peeps… never mind, everyone will side four of these.

Spike Feeder with graft smells fishy. But wait, Wrath of God isn’t going to be too good, is it. Rhetorical, yes, very much.

States is a month away, and I don’t even know what colors I’m leaning toward. It’s a safe bet that Green, Red, White, and Black are the favorites, since I traded all the “gay” duals, you know: Hallowed Fountain, Steam Vents, Stomping Grounds, et al, for “real man” cards that could fit into my Black decks.

Re: dual lands:

If it don’t make Black, that sh** be wack.

An exception can be made for those colors that might like to play friendly with whatever colors I choose to splash with Black. But barely.

Anyway, in the finals of the casual, it was me and my Mono Black versus Little Rizzo and his Affinity. In game 3, with me at three, but Spawn at four, no cards in hand and facing down two Hyppies and Nantuko Shade with a mere two permanents in play, he goes to draw the last card of the tourney…

If it’s Shrapnel Blast, gg, offer I, sagelike as only sagelike dads can do.


Thus the impenetrable Tony Danza and Mono Black in Legacy takes it first loss. To a ten-year old that I put up in and my wife squeezed up out. This was the first time Lil’ Riz beat me in a sanctioned match, ever, and I can’t say I’m upset at all.

Good for you, Berto.
Nice job, Lil’ Riz.
Little freakin’ lucksack!

A little later, I was coerced into a draft, and it took some serious ass kissing for me to be the lucky eighth guy. Drafting is a little like genital mutilation: it sure sounds like fun, until you feel the razor slice off a couple layers of the helmet.

Anyway, they got me, and this is the pile I drafted, ready to lose each match quickly so I could playtest in between rounds:

* indicates generally accepted by nearly everyone as a “good Limited card”

*Seal of Doom
*Seal of Fire
*Pillory of the Sleepless
Dimir Infiltrator
*2 Azorius Signet
*2 Izzet Chronarch
Vesper Ghoul
Orzhov Abortionist
*Steamcore Weird
*Dimir House Guard
*Vedalken Dismisser
Wee Dragonauts
Train of Thought
Crystal Seer
*Drift of Phantasms
*Compulsive Research
***************Simic Sky Swallower
16 lands plus Boros Garrison

Biggest five-color pile ever and Vesper Ghoul as my “mana fixing?” Obviously I went 3-0 because Limited is many things, but it is certainly not teh suck. In the final game in round 3, my opening hand was:

Forest, Plains, Mountain, Swamp, Island and two other cards.

I couldn’t wait to put out Collective Restraint and Tribal Flames my opponent (former State Champ Rob Foley) into oblivion. Nevertheless, SSS did what he usually does in Limited: wins the friggin’ game in a few turns.

Funny thing:

Rob cast a turn 4 Bottled Cloister and prepared to ride that bad boy to victory. A few turns later I Mortify something, then go to Chronarch it back to my hand.

Rob: Glad that’s Mortify not the “artifact” one.

I look at my hand, and dayum the Putrefy I drew on turn 2 is still there.


Me: Speaking of the “artifact” one, Putrefy the Cloister.
Rob: gg

I’m so good at Magic, I give my opponents four or five free cards to try and keep up with me, but all it does is prolong the inevitable.

Okay, so Time Spiral is real. Let’s explore the most obvious things:

Mark of Eviction on Avalanche Riders?
Zombify Akroma on turn 4 much?
Shadowmage Infiltrator following the turn 2 Bob any time soon?
Zombify Akroma on turn 4 much?
Call of the Herd attempts to make dredge Standard viable?
Or does the possibility of casting Avatar of Woe on turn 3 do it for you?
Mystic Snake: almost just like Rewind? You decide!
Gaea’s F***ing Blessing. Yes, Gaea’s F***ing Blessing.
Gee, I guess I could mill all of my opponent’s Feldon’s Canes. I guess.
Zombify Akroma on turn 4 much?
Tribal Flames as Volcanic Hammers five through eight?
Psionic Blast as Chars number five though eight?
Sus-freakin-spend everywhere — is it okay to wait three turns for broken stuff?
Gee, you mean we don’t have to splash Green for Naturalize anymore? Kewl!
Poor Wall of Roots — a top notch card without a home?

Yeah, you know the rest, but what you don’t know is what everyone else knows, which is not a whole hell of a lot right now. However, me, being great at pretending I know something all y’alls don’t, can say, right now, without a hint of doubt, that…

Desolation Giant is good this time.

And another thing:

Stop playing Persecute.
You suck at it.
All of you.
Don’t main it.
Don’t side it.
Leave it at home.
Because you suck at it.

You: Persecute you for your entire hand.
Me: Alas, yawn, drone, snore, bore.
You: I’ll be over here doing nothing for the next three turns while you recover.

Nightmare Void.

Best discard spell in Standard. However, it’s not a tremendous play against hyper-aggressive decks, so never mind. But it’s still better than Persecute, especially without Distress. Sure, use Castigate to make it easier, though don’t.

frigginrizzo: ← invented Persecute.
(frigginrizzo: ← okay, inspired by Keoni, Crossroads Casual stalwart.)

Still, since you don’t know him and this is my article:

frigginrizzo: ← invented Persecute.
thejapanese: ← didn’t.

you: ← still think it’s good.
me: ← knows it’s old technology, circa Regionals.

If you use Persecute and get your ass handed to you at States, don’t blame me. States is known for massive amounts of beatdown, and if you don’t know how good Persecute is against a board of creatures, try to figure it out. The only reason I ever got away with it was because I ran Sickening Shoal, and had the surprise factor going on. I guess you could run a few Soul Spikes and pretend that it’s the same diff. Ain’t.

Then again, if you’re entirely convinced that you’ll run into match after match of control or minor-aggro control, then by all means use Persecute. You’ll still lose, simply because it’s not Nightmare Void. Plus, you suck at it.

Q: Is it possible for a control deck to beat Nightmare Void?
A. It is decidedly not gonna freakin’ happen.

Q. Tormod’s Crypt, yo!
A. I can’t hear you, my other copies of Nightmare Void are in the way.

Thus, if I were you, and I were running Solar Flare (with Akroma gee I guess if I have to must it be), the first thing I would do is cut Persecute and replace it with something that is not Persecute.

As for me, I’ll probably play whatever Brian Smith builds, since his decks are like, Tier 1, but no one cares ‘cause a) who the hell is Brian F***in’ Smith, b) he writes for a different site, and c) all he does is Top 8 everything even though he’ll freely admit he sucks at Magic.

Hell, I usually beat him senseless (when it counts), which is more a testament to my sheer play skill than a knock on his deckbuilding ability. The sumbitch can build some good sh**, he just can’t play it real well, even though he Top 8s everyfreakinthing.

A walking conundrum, that Smith f***er.

Anyway, Time Spiral gave me an initial woody that has yet to subside, and I haven’t even considered any of the new cards — I’m still digging though Invasion and Odyssey Blocks, looking for all the goodies that I was this close to putting on eBay (not).

Look back though my archives, perhaps four years or so, and you may find a FNM sealed deck event in which I boast how I pulled a foil Shadowmage Infiltrator and you didn’t ‘cause you suck at breaking Extended. I still have the freakin’ thing…

But this time…legal.
-Val, Tombstone, can’t f*** with him

Well, it’s funny to me, and that’s really what all these articles are about: an amusing diversion for me. Wow, that sounded conceited, and I’m really not that much of a prick. Like I said before, I’m such a p*ssy that I should be embarrassed, and that’s why I get to be a d*ck on the ‘net.

So kiss my ass, punk ass bitch. I mean, I’m sorry, tee hee, like me.

Did you know that I get $1.43 every time someone clicks an article in my archives?
So browse away, suckas, and make me rich!

Right now, there are probably a few people who actually believe that.

I still think Gutless Ghoul is nutty, even if Inquest thinks he sucks ass, and even if I only considered him as an additional sac outlet for Yosei and Kokusho and even if I was smoking crack nearly two months ago when I realized he was nutty.

Gutless Ghoul:
Don’t use him, he sucks, but he could be good in the right circumstance.

It’s lines like the above that make me wonder why Flores usually gets to do the effing set reviews and I’m sitting here sucking third tit and clicking every article in my archive and making myself rich $1.43 at a time.

One Hundred Pieces of TimeShifted Technology/Synergy/Kewlness (that you may or may not have thought of and may or may not be entirely obvious)

100. Stormscape Familiar / Grand Arbiter Augustin — spew vomit blow chunx right now
99. War Barge / Boomerang
98. Wall of Roots / Graft / Wakefield’s Sh**-Eating Grin
97. Nightmare Void / Void — never miss again! Probably!
96. Vhati il-Dal / Darkblast
95. Vhati il-Dal / Serrated Arrows
94. Vhati il-Dal / Prodigal Sorcerer
94b. Vhati il-Dal all by his own self
93. Resurrection / Solar F***in’ Flare / A-kraf***in-o-roma
92. Pandemonium / Supply for much (with *heh* Doubling Season ftw?)
91. Mystic Snake / Mark of Eviction
90. Haakon / Mistform Ultimus I guess
89. Gemstone Mine / Bounce Lands
88. Fiery Justice / Rain of Gore *Asterisk goes here
87. Haakon / Conspiracy
86. Coalition Victory / Transguild Courier
85. Auratog / Hatching Plans
84. Turn 3 Pandemonium, turn 4 Sins of the Past for Storm Herd. gg

**stops to build that deck**

83. Gave up in about ten minutes
82. Dread Return / Sengir Autocrat
81. The Blue Shadow Guys / Permission
80. Crypt Champion / Undead Warchief take eight, k,pls/thx
79. Twisted Abomination / Every Black Dual Ever / Golgari Thug for kicks
80. Turn 1 Birds of Paradise, turn 2 Hymn Hyppie Stupor
79. Stormbind / Life from the Loam
78. Soltari Priest / Moldervine Cloak (okay, Any Creature/Cloak)

*except Azorius First Wing*


77. Safe Haven might actually be good this time? Are you effing kidding?
76. Sacred Mesa / Pride of the Clouds
75. Ovinomancer / Lightning Storm
75b. Ovinomancer / Trade Routes
74. Killer Instinct / Nicol Bolos
73. Mystic Enforcer / Threshold. Still.
72. Mirari / Glimpse the Unthinkable
71. War Barge / Merfolk Assassin
70. Leviathan / Jokulmorder. Er…?
69. Jolreal, Empress of Beasts / Earth Surge
68. Jaya Ballard / Fiery Temper
67. Faceless Butcher your own guys / Wrath of God
66. Or just Ghostway them, fer chrissakes
65. Demonfire / Disintegrate INXS
64. I really have to come up with 36 more?


Wall of Shards *
Rain of Gore *

You laugh, as well you should, but then you go “hmmm,” not so bad, Johnny. Okay, it is kinda bad, but still: how many 1/8 walls have won you a game in six turns? Wow, only six turns? And you need another card for it to work? And the combo is only three colors? Dayum, I should post this in the “Tier 1 States Decks” sticky in the forums for discussion!

The * asterisks here → * and above indicate that I just got the new Inquest and they said it doesn’t work. No fair, here I was, just about to break Standard in half, and now I have to start all over.

Avalanche Riders/Adarkar ValkyrieTM

I’ll bold it again
And italicize for spite

Kill your land.
Every turn.
For an initial outlay of four mana.
Then zero.
Okay, six too in there somewhere.
So it’s ten mana and two cards, pretty much.
Two colors, too.
Still gross.
I invented it.
You still think Persecute is good.
Pshaw, po’ child.

By the way, Dread Return is not a good card or anything, and I can’t for the life of me think of any existing deck in which it might fit like a goddamned freakin’ glove. If only there were a deck that didn’t care about sacrificing three creatures and had a way to get Return in the ‘yard.

I tried it with Akroma, Stalking Vengeance and just about every other uncastable fatty you can imagine. It was often spectacular, other times mundane, but after about a dozen games it hit me:

If you’re in a position where you can sac three creatures, aren’t you already winning? Why win more? I suppose you could side in a silver bullet creature or two, a couple Returns and answer things that you previously couldn’t.

Still, I dunno, the mere fact that it can be played without mana stinks of brokenness, but Extended is a while away, so for now I’m content to recognize that Dread Return is probably waaaaaaay too freakin’ good.

For States, I want a deck that will be able to handle the beatdown that I am certain is shhh its around the corner, but I also want game against control and/or combo. While I really want to play Hyppie, Arena, Nightmare Void and Plain Old Regular Void, Nekky, Char, Stone Rain and Darwin, that’s not the ultimate beat-the-beatdown deck. Wait, maybe it is. Sure, control doesn’t have to like it, but I want to sit down against anything and know I have a chance (for them to mulligan to five and never draw a second land).

To wit, my first effort:

Boy, I really wish I hadn’t traded away all those lame non-Black duals. Might be nice to be able to throw in a few – screw it, I have Gemstone Mines and I’m not afraid to use them. With bouncy lands (see above for synergy).

Yes, this should be able to deal with beatdown, with or without additional burn pointed at my dome. It doesn’t seem too difficult to burn or Fetters stuff until I can either Wrath or throw down something rather large. Shut up about Tormod’s Crypt — no one will side it so there and even if they do I really don’t care.

However, I don’t see this having a chance against combo, and control ain’t lookin’ too good either, though Pride of the Clouds has to put a monkey up in their wrench, at least in theory. And ‘cause Smith Said SoTM.

In many ways, this feels like the later versions of Nearly Mono Black In Standard: control-orientated, with ways to deal with just about anything that hits the table. The early versions were more proactive, not wanting much of anything to hit the table, even though it could kill it to death if it dared got itself played instead of discarded.

It’s a fine line, she said.

I think I may be outsmarting myself here, but if these are the colors I want to play, then I must find disruption that isn’t wacky like Hyppie or Nightmare Void, but can still piss off control and combo players somethin’ fierce. I think this might be on the right track:

4 Avalanche Riders
4 Stone Rain
4 Disenchant
3 Something Else prolly Crypts or Ivory Mask who knows

If I can rework the manabase to include a few or four Ghost Quarter, then we may have just enough disruption online to get the job done. Perhaps we may not, but sans adding counters of my own – hey, there’s an idea! Blah, blah.

No, that idea sucks.
Yes, all of them.

The only thing I can be reasonably certain of is that Wrath of God is probably a good card to put into your deck. The thing is, it’s White. You know the saying: once you go White you won’t ever go back (most likely because your penis has shriveled into a mushroom cap snail helmet).

I still owe you 35 pieces of new technology. Here’s one:

Cloudstone Curio is synergistic with comes-into-play creatures.

I know you were just floored, but find the strength to pick yourself back up. I’m talkin’ Avalanche Riders, and how, right now, at this moment, I think he may be one of the best, if not the absolute very best, creatures in Standard. Perhaps I overrate him, though if you can play a turn 3 bounceland with complete tomfidence that you’ll have four mana next turn instead of two, then you’re more man that I, which we already knew.

The thing is: combine Darwin with Hyppie and make a deck that doesn’t blow. “Easier said than done,” said Eazy E, and they say he died of aids, but Dr. Dre didn’t even have to bitch slap a reporter.

I don’t mean to alarm anyone, but Void is really freakin’ good, still.

Best creature in Standard: Avalanche Riders
Best anti-control creature in Standard: Hypnotic Specter
Best spell in Standard: Void
Best discard spell in Standard: Nightmare Void

So why am I even considering W/R/U?

I’m all over the map looking for something that’s a) different, b) synergistic and c) um, good. Finding all three in the same deck may take some taking, lovemaking, and a little bit of Moonraking, Masticore teeth notwithstanding. But I bet the answer starts with “play B/R you freakin’ idiot!”

4 Dark Confidant
4 Shadowmage Infiltrator
4 Avalanche Riders

Wait, that actually seems good…

frigginrizzo: ← secretly builds that deck

That deck, sans Jonny Magic and Bob

4 Volcanic Hammer
4 Rise / Fall
3 Cruel Edict
4 Hypnotic Specter
4 Stupor
4 Stone Rain
4 Avalanche Riders
4 Magnivore
4 Void
4 Ghost Quarter
2 Rix Maadi, Dungeon Palace
8 shockies
4 painies
4 bouncies

Unforgivable sin number 1:

No Signets.

I should have my DCI card confiscated.

Speaking of confiscation, I had my driver’s card yanked at work. No, you don’t really get a card, per se, but after nearly running over an old lady to death in her Chevy Malibu, me, The Big Boss, A Rather Large Boss, and The Safety Guy had a sitdown.

Safety Guy: You’re a freakin’ menace to society, yo.
The Big Boss: We’d can your ass, but you’re good at Magic.
Me: That much is true.
The Big Boss: How about a transfer where you make the same money but have about 50% less work and 75% less pressure?
Me: Gee, lemme think about – sure.

I guess when you virtually total an old lady’s ride (but not her), knock a chunk out of the top of the truck by hitting numerous trees, knock down two (only two?) power lines, a cable line, break off a couple side mirrors and get stuck on a boulder, all in the span of three months, perhaps a “promotion” is due. I mean, the total damages I’ve caused can’t be more than ten to fifteen grand after all.

While I have yet to revisit my dreams of Flametongue, I’ve had, every night for about the past two months, nightmares about running into and over sh**, knocking down power lines and driving down terrifying roads in the middle of the night with no headlights. I told The Safety Guy as much.

The Safety Guy: That’s not uncommon.
The Big Boss: We’ve heard that from a number of drivers.
A Rather Large Boss: Can you really avoid manascrew simply by drawing lands?

Consider this a lesson, kiddies: you can screw up and still do well.

Anyway, back to the deck. Messing with your opponent’s plans seems like a good idea in an unknown metagame. Discard just feels right at this juncture, and a smattering of land destruction also jumps up at me as something that requires further exploration. In an environment where gold reigns supreme, how can Stone Rain, Darwin and Ghost Quarter be wrong?

They can’t, at least Ghost Quarter can’t, as evidenced by the following Brian Effing Smith PlayTM:

He’s with a R/W/U Lighting Angel deck that features and abuses the 1/1 Wayfarer guy that he loves so much, while I’m with an early version of Untitled R/W/G (before I knew Lighting Angel was coming back), when at the end of a mid game turn, I cast Congregation at Dawn for three Firemane Angels. The good news is that I have six mana in play. The bad news is that one of the lands is a bouncie.

Smith Ghost Quarters the bouncie. I shrug it off, bury target land and consider not searching my library since it’s all set up for—hey, wait a minute!!!!!!

I look at him.
He looks back.
Northern Paladin.
I count my mana: no longer six.
With one land in hand, I’ll have five next turn.
And I just set myself up for three turns of dead draws.

I search and shuffle, secure in the knowledge that I’ve just witnessed a play in every sense of the word. It still stuns me, even though most of you can’t appreciate the tightness of The Ghost Quarter That Did Much More Than Slow A Guy Down It Single Handedly Won A Game.

By the way, he searched up the Quarter with Wayfarer, as well as Quicksand, not to mention a Flagstones of Trokair that he put into play beside his other Flagstones and double Thawed himself.

Note to self: consider testing this “Weathered Wayfarer” card. Nevertheless, I Helixed and Charred them sunsabitches on sight after that, and may have even Wrathed one away.

Oh yeah, no Signets in the B/R. I can’t really justify that decision, other than to mention that it doesn’t get me to three-mana disruption (Stupor, Stone Rain) a turn earlier, like an Elf or Bird, though turn 3 Darwin, turn 4 Void doesn’t seem awful under any circumstance. Nor does Magnivore, who often comes down as a mere 5/5…against an opponent with no cards, a crippled manabase, and nothing in the way.

With States mere days away, and all y’all wracking your brains to figure out the most broken uses of the “new” cards, the best idea that comes to mind is to simply destroy those cards rather than injure myself in trying to comprehended a savagely large cardpool.

Then again, lots can happen in a few days. So make good decks and write about them so I have something to test against, won’t you? While it’s fine and dandy to goldfish decks to see how them play with and against themselves, it never hurts to know what to expect, and at this point I have no clue. But I do know that not letting peeps play the cards they want, either by putting them in the bin or blowing up their lands, feels like it wants to be a good strategy.

I remember showing Forsythe a land kill/hand kill deck I put together back in Invasion Block. His reply was quick: “so you make them discard the spells they can’t play because you blew up their lands?”

The words still ring true. Oh, and ow too, feeling hurter – ‘scuse me, I mean “Crazy Mutha F*** Named Ice Cube.”

Hey, if you went G/R, you’d have access to the ultimate utility spell in Creeping Mold, beaters like Burning-Tree Shaman and Rumbling Slum (who uses that?), and land destruction that can start on turn 2 and not stop until your opponent’s board looks like Pam Anderson’s grill after she mouthed off to one of her white trash musician husbands.

Will we see Angry Hermit all over again, sans a Deranged, but very Thelonite Hermit? I think that’s a safe bet, though no freakin’ way anyone would splash white for Glare of Subdual. Never, ever, ever.

You’ll have to pardon me if I now go away and build that deck. In the meantime, I assure you that I remain Mack Daddy Rizatch from around the way, and will strive to bring you all the news that’s fit to print. And even more that’s not. Just like this:

So you zoom right past the two-drops and into the turn 2 Stone Rain, Herd or Viper, and from there into the turn 3 Darwin, Creeping Mold, or Slum. That’s the theory, and while a deck like this does draw a large amount of high percentage hands, it really wants Arc Lightning or Simoon, but you can’t have everything.

I realize I owe you thirty four pieces of technology, so lemme make it all up right now:

Stone Rain, Avalanche Riders, Ghost Quarter.

Let’s say your States is seven rounds, and further assume that you play, say, eighteen total games, nine of which you will go first. How many of those games are going to provide the following series (which is as damned near to an auto-win as you will find in Standard):

T1: Land, mana guy
T2: Land, Stone Rain
T3: Land, Riders or Creeping Mold

I’d say enough to warrant going Green/Red.

Conversely, a number of opponents will play first and do the turn 2 bounceland. How many times will Ghost Quarter simply destroy their tempo and make it feel like you went first and dropped a turn 1 and 2 Stone Rain up on their ass? Again, the answer seems to be “um, enough.”

Consider the Solar Flare matchup:

T1: Land
T2: Land with Remand mana up
T3: Land, Compulsive Research, pitch Akroma
T4: Land, Zombify

If they go first, this gives you one turn (turn 3) to blow up their land and keep them off Zombify mana. If you go first, they absolutely need Remand (or Mana Leak I guess) to protect their two lands. If they don’t have it, don’t you just win? And even if they do have Remand, it’s not a very good feeling knowing that, without a second Remand, you will most likely not see four mana this game.

Then again, there may be weenie hordes up in this sumbitch. From Blue and Black shadows, to Savannah Lions and the jumpknights, there just might be a number of decks that don’t expect to, or care about, reaching four mana. Serrated Arrows out of the board seems a little slow, as does Thornscape Battlemage.

Wall of Roots isn’t the worst anti-jumpknight card: it forces them to tie up their mana to attack, which is exactly why whoever said the jumpknights are not all that (I think Chad Ellis) is spot-on, dead-nuts correct.

He also said that…

T1: Land, mana guy
T2: Land, Ohran Viper

…gets you the gg if they don’t have an answer. While this may be an oversimplification, it’s just another good thing that can happen on turn 2. An opponent with one land in play facing down your Viper and possible four mana next turn can’t be feeling too secure. Deathmark might grant a reprieve, but the possibility of Darwin, Mold, Slum or Solifuge, or even Stone Rain, slamming down next turn makes that sh** all temporary, knowwhatimsayin’?

Or maybe I’m wrong, and hyper Green/Red Angry No Freakin’ Hermit style isn’t the way to go. After all, there is very little removal, and Slum and Solifuge are no Blastoderm and Masticore. Still, it’s difficult to deny that against a mana-starved opponent, you don’t need a pair of ridiculous fatties, just guys with power and toughness that turn sideways and get the job done.

Are Avalanche Riders, Call of the Herd, Ohran Viper, Rumbling Slum, and Giant Solifuge enough to do just that? Perhaps they are, though we’ll conveniently ignore the existence of Paladin En-Vec, who pretty much shuts down the entire team (but he loses hard to Viper so n’yah). The upside is that he costs 1WW, which sounds simple to achieve, doesn’t it, but never mind ‘cause really, who plays that guy anyway?

But look what happens when you “worry” about a 2/2 pro:Red first striker:

Now what? I put in four Battlemages to deal specifically with Paladin (and lil’ misers too!) mise well toss in Temple Garden so the “kill target Signet” might become relevant, but then…

Well, why not add Mystic Enforcer? Heck, how’s about Loxodon Hierarch? Glare? Supply / Demand? Wrath of God while you’re at it?

This “deckbuilding” stuff is hard, eh?

Regardless of the nearly limitless (nearly?!) construction possibilities TYPE IN CAPS TO INDICATE DOME ABOUT TO IMPLODE the “disrupt you until you’re very dead” idea may nevertheless be based on faulty reasoning and shoddy theory, but until I’m proven wrong (which could have already happened by the time this article sees print), I’ll have to go with what my gut tells me:

Blow ‘em up, let the DCI sort ‘em out.

Disruption (and Stoneshaker Shaman) ftw,
John Friggin’ Rizzo

Dear Dr. Mox (that I stole “Mountain, Shock you, go” from),

P.S. Demonfire you.

Johnni with a heart above the i

Bonus Berto joke of the week:

Your mom’s so stupid, she sold her car for gas money.