My Name’s John, And I Went To Detroit To Play Magic

Thoughts on Dork Love, IBC Block Decks, his tourney finish…And thoughts about some moron called William Steinmetz.

(The following buncha pages are the result of having a tournament report posted
seven days late, essentially giving me a week off from my writing”duties,”
which did nothing more than give me a week to stockpile way too much stuff to
say in one column.)

“This game has made me famous to a world full of dorks.”
Joshua Claytor, CCGPrime http://www.ccgprime.com/mtg/columns/jc/jc2.htm

He’s right; Magic is it’s own little world o’ dorks, full of Star Trek nerds,
guys who get picked last in gym class — the same ones who are always targeted
for an atomic wedgie by the jocks — and a bunch of socially-awkward, smelly

And I’m staying.

Because these are MY dorks, MY nerds, MY smelly virgins who I’m glad number
me among their membership. I am them. The real world doesn’t need to understand;
s’not like they want to, anyway.

I’ve had the distinction to hang out with millionaires, Mensans, the politically
influential, scholars, artists, and other assorted”movers and shakers” on the
fast track to real world success, but I’ve never felt so at home as I do in
a room full of Magic dorks.

My younger brother spent ten years in the Army, basically becoming the ultimate
soldier; he was in the 82nd Airborne, fought in the Gulf War, became a Jumpmaster,
and was at the top of every hard-core school with acronyms that you could think
of. It’s been five years since he’s left the Army… But just last month a guy
in his platoon, whom he hadn’t even talked to since he left and he didn’t even
really like, called him up and asked for a favor. A huge favor. My brother’s

“Just tell me where to send it and how fast.”

No”Well, I don’t know” or”Jeez, it’s really a bad time right now”; the favor
was granted unconditionally, because they were a part of something that was
bigger than themselves. It was big enough that simply being a”member” was enough.

I can think of two groups of people that I would do that for, and I suspect
would probably do that for me: Family. Magic players.

This is not going to be a rant, nor an issue, it’s just going to be a statement
because I make no warranty of fitness or guarantee that I have all the answers
to your questions. For that matter, I’m not even sure that there is a point.

I live in a world full of dorks.

And I’m staying.


William Steinmetz won a qualifier. William Steinmetz is going to Barcelona to
play Magic. William Steinmetz is going to Barcelona to play Magic and have fun
doing it. If any of us scrubs ever needed inspiration: look to William Steinmetz.

So what? Who’s William Steinmetz? (Whoever reads this would never know — The

After making Top Eight in a convincing manner at the last PTQ, I decided that
Detroit really isn’t that long of a drive. And, since William Steinmetz qualified,
I felt it my duty (cause I’m like inspired and stuff) to throw my Pirates hat
into the ring once more for the season – and with feeling. It also might have
something to do with the fact that I will be facing an almost two-month drought
of PTQs; Grand Prix: Detroit, which I won’t be attending unless my wife loves
me as much as she says she does, and Regionals are the only upcoming events
until IBC rears its incredible melon.

And it will be incredible. Can there possibly be more deck ideas floating around?
To date, I have built over seventy decks on Apprentice, with around fifteen
actually making the transition to the real-world-sleeved version. At this point
they are all viable; how strong is that? Even if they get trounced at CMU, that
doesn’t necessarily mean they suck; I’m supposed to get trounced by a bunch
of guys on The Tour. Perhaps I am stuck in the role of The JMS of CMU; the guy
who plays weird stuff (like Planar Overlay, Diabolic Intent, Phyrexian Delver,
and Goblin Spy) so the good players can figure out if it really sucks or not.
Or rather, they can figure out the exact level of suckiness.

<nevertheless, insert sloppy soul kiss (aimed at WotC R&D, and especially
at Randy Buehler for bringing legitimacy to”bad times for Becky”) here>

[enter strategy whore]

The IBC Pepperidge Farm Meat and Cheese Wheel Sampler:

U/W control with Rout, Repulse, Rushing River, Angel of Mercy, Absorb, Reviving
Vapors, Fact or Fiction, and Orim’s Chant.

U/W controllish-beats with Meddling Mage, Silver Drake, Angel of Mercy, Rushing
River, Dream Thrush, Planar Overlay, Orim’s Chant, Absorb, Reviving Vapors,
and Fact or Fiction.

Then again, there’s the version that splashes black for Undermine, Yawgmoth’s
Agenda, and/or Spite/Malice.

U/B hand-killa with the Rats/Harpy tech, Planar Overlay/Dream Thrush jank move,
Recoil/Rushing River/Bog Down/Probe hand rape, and Doomsday Specter.

U/B hand-killa with a splash of red for Skizzik and Blazing Specter, with Phyrexian
Delver and Crypt Angel for double the fun, with the above mentioned hand-killa
combos mentioned above.

G/W/R Toolbox with Eladamri’s Call, Restock, Orim’s Chant, Wax/Wane, and a Garden-Variety
Vasco of”answer” creatures like Flametongue Kavu, Angel of Mercy, Kavu Chameleon,
Thunder and Thornscape Battlemages, Fleetfoot Panther, Skizzik, Sabertooth Nishoba,
Voice of All, and Rooting Kavu. And more.

Then again, there’s the pseudo-Fires deck with the red and green Familiars,
Nomadic Elf, Noble Panther, Kavu Titan, Raging Kavu, and Shivan Wurm, along
with Voice of All and Armadillo Cloak for fun.

Of course, there’s also Stupid Red Burn, which isn’t so stupid at all. With
a ton of good burn spells such as Urza’s Rage, Ghitu Fire, Breath of Darigaaz,
Scorching Lava, Magma Burst, and Mages’ Contest (the best burn spell), and some
darned effective fatties like Skizzik, Tahngarth, and Flametongue Kavu, doing
twenty to the dome never felt so good.

Then again, there’s also the version that throws down a Rogue Kavu, places a
nice little Maniacal Rage on him, and goes to town, with to-the-dome spells

(Not to mention casting a turn one Goblin Spy, turn two Maniacal Rage. Just
think about how much damage you are willing to accept from that bad boy in order
to maintain your”advantage.” Then think again.)

Warped Devotion, Planar Overlay, Wash Out, and Rushing River works very well
with guys that make the discard requirement nil for you: Crypt Angel and Phyrexian
Delver, with Twilight’s Call even thinking that it has a slight chance to be
useful as well (but don’t hold your breath – or do).

Let’s not forget about Diabolic Intent, which works way too well with Pyre Zombie,
Ravenous Rats, and especially well with an unkicked Skizzik when you intend
to drop a Phyrexian Delver next turn. Diabolic Intent: the Tutor that is miles
above Eladamri’s Call, but that no one uses. Yet. Or never.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the”hurry up and Rage/Fire you to death”
deck that uses insane (for IBC anyway) acceleration in the form of Harrow, Primal
Growth, Quirion Explorer, and the killa: Overabundance – a turn FOUR kicked
Rage (or Fire for eleven) is not out of the question. It’s not easy or even
likely, but it will happen enough to piss people off.

Collective Restraint.dec can make a brother scoop like no other, but it just
rolls over and dies to Planar Overlay. It can set up the almost perfect lock
with Restraint (or even multiple Restraints), protected with a Sterling Grove,
with a friggin’ Draco in play, and cast Global Ruin that just houses everyone
in said house:

Restraint guy’s stuff in play:

Five lands, Draco, Restraint. Liking life much.

Opponent’s stuff in play:

Two lands, some little dudes. Not liking life much.

“Um, I lay a land and cast Planar Overlay and attack with my little dudes.”

Restraint guy’s stuff in play during upkeep:

Zero lands, Restraint. Hating life much.

There are good decks; there are good answers; there are a ton of Tier One and
Tier Two decks; they will be/are interchangeable.

Virtually everything looks viable on paper, and likely will be… Until PT: Tokyo,
that is. In Tokyo, the pros will take a field that is wide open and close that
bad boy with the quickness. There are probably fifteen to twenty viable versions
of the expected archetypes right now; after Tokyo that number will likely be
halved, maybe more. But that still leaves upwards of ten viable decks, which
is damn skippy, Skippy.

“Let’s get things nice and sparkly clear.”

-Malcolm McDowell, A Clockwork Orange

Opinionated fact: Bounce is ass before it even gets started.

Opinionated fact: If you think that B/U is going to rule the roost, there is
a good chance that you may, or have formerly been, on crack, much like I was.

Know why?

Because it’s too obvious; everyone and their mother will try it out, which also
means that everyone is thinking about it. It might make a splash or two early
on in IBC, but rest assured that it will become, and for most of the rest of
the season will remain, ass.

And you thought Zombie.dec was obvious?

Warped Devotion.dec vs. Warped Devotion.dec, a.k.a,”The Race to Rage Mana Deathmatch.”

Now that’ll be a hoot to watch, no?

You’ll put your little Devotion/Wash Out/Recoil/Repulse/Rushing River deck together
and goldfish it like mad, and you’ll be happy with it. For a while. You’ll love
how effective your Repulses and Rivers are, until you get beat upon by your
first creatureless/damn near creatureless deck.

Opinionated fact: Creatures will be ass as well.

While some braver souls will try out the gating dudes, they will get sick of
all the Recoils and Repulses floating around, and will almost immediately figure
out that even though WotC wants us to think that they want us to use creatures,
they really don’t.

As much as I think white got the shaft in Planeshift, it will win everything.
Not by itself, mind you, but it will be the prevalent color in the decks that
just tear the roof off.

Know why?

Because it’s white. And that mixes well with blue, which rhymes with”bounce,”
which rhymes with”ass.” That bouncey-bounce and the funky bounce.dec will be
complete and utter ass. Trust me.

Basically, the metagame has already set itself up, then friggin’ reacted: B/U
is good; now it’s ass. And all this without one damn game of IBC being played.

Know why?

Please laugh as I tell you exactly why bounce will be ass…

Angel of Mercy.

-But that card is only good in Limited!

Um, what do you think IBC is?


Well, sort of…

I don’t mean to imply that Angel of Mercy will own IBC, more so I claim that
cards like said rotten Angel will laugh at your bounce, turning your plans of
bickitty-bounce into your worst enemy. Comes-into-play dudes work both ways,
chief. Do you really want to bounce…


Ravenous Rats?

Benalish Emissary?

Crypt Angel?

Flametongue Kavu?

Kavu Climber?

Shivan Emissary?

Urborg Emissary?

Nightscape Battlemage?


Your Repulse and Recoil will be effective until people decide to use your deck
against you, and use it better than you can. I can’t wait until someone wins
a PTQ with a bouncey deck and posts it for all y’all to paste directly into
your deckbox. Then you can wonder why you went 0-2 drop with such a good deck.
Maybe you’ll even realize why you went 0-2 drop; bounce is a two-way street
that can be unforgiving to those who are not prepared.

But bounce won’t be ass.

Recoil, Planar Overlay, and Urborg Emissary are about the only cards that allow
you to bounce your opponent’s land.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

Everyone plays bounce. Everyone else reacts by playing few to no non-land permanents
or plays cards that they are not only happy to return to their hands, but gives
them a bonus as well. Bounce becomes ass. But it won’t be ass.

Week one and two of IBC: Bounce rules because everyone is still working out
the kinks in their gating.net.dec. Plus, 50% of the people are playing bounce,
which leads to pro-bounce skewed metagame results.

Week most of the rest of the season: Bounce is ass because everyone realizes
that anti-bounce.tech.net.dec is good times.

Week towards the end: Bounce rules because it becomes anti-anti-

bounce.tech.net.dec technology.

4x Recoil

4x Warped Devotion

4x Wash Out

3-4x Repulse

Number of tech cards weeks one and two: 15-16

Number of tech cards the rest of the way: 4x Recoil

Um, the Recoils will sort of remain tech until this guy…

Yavimaya Barbarian, protection from blue…

…shows up in a 4x mode in Fires decks that may or may not even bother or need
to run Fires. Maybe it’ll run Sinister Strength and just smash you in the teeth
and gums. That’s a turn three 5/3 that is impervious to Recoil, Repulse, Terminate,
and just about everything short of Rout, Rage, and Wash Out. Well, there’s Hobble.
And he’ll kill you starting on turn three, five points at a time.

Wash Out will have a chance to remain tech. At least until the five-color mage
shows up and makes your 3U Sorcery read”Return one permanent to it’s owner’s
hand, maybe.”

All of the above does not necessarily mean that you can expect to face eight
rounds of stall-the-game-with-counters-and-life-gain-until-I-get-to-twelve-mana-and-Rage-the-piss-out-of-you.dec.
But you’ll see a few of those here and there. Until the Angel of friggin’ Mercy
and other frowned-upon life gain cards rear their ugly heads en masse.

– Rage you with kicker.

– Okay, I’m down to forty-five.

Meddling Mage. Orim’s Chant. Angel of Mercy. Reviving Vapors. Absorb. White
cards all. White cards that will won’t win you the game, but will make it last
way too long.

Bounce Angel of Mercy. Please. Maybe I’ll let you bounce the Mage, but maybe
I won’t. I’ll just be over here gaining so much life that you will seriously
consider conceding out of utter frustration. Heck, maybe I’ll even throw a couple
of Stormscape Battlemages in here for fun.

Rushing River the Angel and Battlemage.

– Okay, I’ll be at fifty-one after my next turn.

Round six: I”win.”

Matches: 6-0

Games: 6-0

Don’t bet against it. But I’m just bouncing ideas off of you for now. (So to
speak — The Ferrett) So ignore everything up to this point, because I could
be wrong about it all. Or right about it all. That’s the funny thing: Everything
is good right now. Everything has a chance until Tokyo. Then the options shrink,
but there will still be many ideas of what the”best deck” is. And bounce is
ass. But it’s also not ass.

B/R is the shiznit, ya’ll. Come on, chief, Terminate? Pyre Zombie? Blazing Specter?
Skizzik and Rage and Bog Down; heck, even the much maligned Void make this thing
kick something fierce.

Every B/R deck will start with these sixteen bad boys:

Thine Sixteen:

4x Ravenous Rats

4x Bog Down

4x Blazing Specter

4x Terminate

…then season to taste…

3-4x Skizzik

2-4x Pyre Zombie

3-4x Ghitu Fire

Add 22 lands and you’re already up to 46 cards. Or you do this:

Thine Sixteen

4x Ravenous Rats

4x Bog Down

4x Blazing Specter

4x Terminate

…then go this route…

4x Sinister Strength

4x Shivan Zombie

2-4 Pyre Zombie

3-4 Ghitu Fire

Add 22 lands and you’re already up to 51 cards.

Not much room to maneuver, is there? Well, yeah, there is. You would be hard-pressed
to not include Skizzik, and Nightscape Familiar fits very well in both versions.
But Phyrexian Delver wouldn’t be out of place either, nor would a Flametongue
Kavu or two. Or maybe you add a touch of blue for Probe and Doomsday Specter,
or even Cavern Harpy.

In fact, here’s a very-close-to-optimal R/B start:

4x Ravenous Rats

4x Nightscape Familiar

4x Terminate

3x Pyre Zombie

4x Bog Down

4x Blazing Specter

4x Skizzik

3x Ghitu Fire

7x support cards

23x land

I’ll wager a guess that any B/R deck that shows good results will not vary much
from this list. One way that the deck may get a little more teched-out would
be to add Thunderscape Battlemage and Darigaaz’s Caldera for enchantment removal,
but I’d say that the above list will form the basis of many a Net Deck to come.

Those 7x support cards can easily become…

3x Doomsday Specter

4x Probe


4x Cavern Harpy

3x Rushing River


4x Thunderscape Battlemage

3x Shivan Wurm

Ouch. In every sense of the word.

See what a brother says? Even with Thine Sixteen, there are many different roads
to hoe, damnit.

The funny thing is that for each allied color combination, there will likely
be a set-in-stone Thine Sixteen or even more. Try it:

W/U Serious Control:

4x Fact or Fiction

4x Reviving Vapors

4x Absorb

4x Rout

This could tweak itself to go aggro-control with Meddling Mage, Silver Drake,
Angel of Mercy, Orim’s Chant, and even Arctic Merfolk, or could get ridiculously
bouncey/control with Rushing River, Repulse/Exclude, Wash Out, and even Distorting
Wake or Planar Overlay for fun.

But Thine Sixteen don’t seem to be too negotiable.

R/G Fires-type thing:

4x Kavu Titan

4x Fires of Yavimaya

4x Skizzik

4x Ghitu Fire

This could be tweaked for total aggro with 2cc dudes like Nomadic Elf and Quirion
Sentinel with Aggressive Urge/Explosive Growth, and Canopy Surge for maximum
pain. Or it could get aggro/control with situational answer guys like Flametongue
Kavu, Sabertooth Nishoba, Kavu Chameleon, and serious beats like Shivan Wurm
and 4x Urza’s Rage and Breath of Darigaaz.

But Thine Sixteen don’t seem to be too negotiable.

G/W whatever-the-hell-kinda-thing:

4x Wax/Wane

4x Eladamri’s Call

4x Kavu Titan

4x Armadillo Cloak

Fleetfoot Panther, Voice of All, Angel of Mercy, Battlemages, and maybe Rooting
Kavu would be the template for an IBC Survivalish go-and-get-the-answer-I-need-in-the-form-of-a-dude
type of build, while you could eschew the thinking man’s deck and go for serious
weenies like Quirion Sentinel, Nomadic Elf, and Thornscape Familiar that get
big with Gerrard’s Command, Explosive Growth, and Aggressive Urge.

But Thine Sixteen don’t seem to be too negotiable.

U/B discardy thing:

4x Ravenous Rats

4x Probe

4x Bog Down

4x Recoil

The obvious desire to throw Cavern Harpy, Doomsday Specter or Marsh Crocodile
into the mix lends itself to the aggro-discard idea, while Rushing River, Cavern
Harpy, Crypt Angel, Repulse/Exclude, and Wash Out tweaks to more of the control-discard-play-for-the-mid-to-late-game

But Thine Sixteen don’t seem to be too negotiable.

Then again, all of the sixteen”must-have” cards are negotiable and interchangeable,
especially when a third color is introduced. What does it mean? Beats the hell
out of me. And probably you – until Tokyo, that is.

The following scenarios are not unlikely, and have come up again and again in
testing. And they are pretty damn friggin’ one-sided.

All assume you go first and have good mana.

1) Fairness.dec:

Turn 2: Ravenous Rats

Turn 3: Bog Down

Turn 4: Blazing Specter

You’re supposed to keep up with this exactly how again?

2) Or try this:

Turn 2: Shivan Zombie

Turn 3: Sinister Strength (take five, please)

Turn 4: Skizzik (take ten, chief)

Turn 5: Phyrexian Delver, maybe I’ll get Skizzik back.

On turn five your opponent could be very injured. Or dead.

3) How about this:

Turn 2: Ravenous Rats

Turn 3: Bog Down

Turn 4: Cavern Harpy/recast Rats — or better yet, Doomsday Specter.

Turn 5: Probe with kicker.

Welcome to another game of”topdecking for fun and profit.”

4) Even this bit o’ Rizzo technology hurts like a bitch:

Turn 2: Dream Thrush

Turn 3: Bog Down

Turn 4: Blazing Specter

Turn 5: Ravenous Rats and Planar Overlay

The good news: You have a plenty of land in hand. The bad news: You get to start
all over again. Don’t tell me one of those lands are a tappy-dual, or God forbid!
A Lair!

What does all of this mean? IBC is one hella beating. Everyone got rich, even
green, despite what the critics say. Even white (although you have to look very
hard to find it) got a card that could potentially become the wrecking ball
of IBC: Rewards of Diversity anyone? In case you forgot, or skip right past
that bad boy on a regular basis:

Rewards of Diversity



When an opponent plays a multicolored spell, you gain 4 life.

Is it that much of a stretch to think that this utter-chaff-in-any-other-format-except-IBC
may see a little play? Consider that the average IBC deck may contain ten or
more multicolored spells, then you may realize that this piece of wasted cardboard
may not be so bad. But it’ll still be embarrassing to play with even if it is
effective. But that didn’t stop Rebel decks from flourishing, now did it?

Let’s not even think about non-allied decks like R/U (burn, fat, and bounce)
or W/R (burn, fat, utility, and protection/life gain), for they can’t possibly
work without non-allied lands, right? Not that B/W could work by laying down
early sticks with Sinister Strength and Orim’s Chant to keep you annoyed. And
don’t even consider G/U laying fat and bouncing your stuff out of the way. Then
take all of the above builds and splash a third color. Life is fair when you
gots a Lair.

Creatures win. Creatureless wins.”Combo” even has a shot (sorta, okay, not
really). It’s all good. Until Tokyo.

Dear Wizards,

Next time, have the PTQs before the Pro Tour so we (the little people) can do
more than have the metagame shoved down our throats; we can create it.


Thine Little Ones

It’ll still be good after Tokyo, for if ever there was a format that could answer
virtually every threat posed, IBC is it.

So who knows? Not me. Not you. Not nobody, chief. But it’ll be good times abounding
for Becky. Scratch that; let’s make it good times for everyone. For now. Enjoy

[exit strategy whore]

Ya know, I just now realized that IBC, right now anyway, is so very irrelevant
for 99% of the people that read my columns. There will be no PTQs until after
PT: Tokyo. This means that everything I could ever offer about IBC doesn’t matter.
More so, I also realized that this article isn’t going to influence the pros
(who will continue to ignore me) and it certainly won’t keep the PTQers (who
will take everything I say with many grains of salt) on pins and needles, and
it most certainly will have no appeal to the casual players (who are likely
pissed that I am writing about such a useless format).

Question: Why the hell did I write this?

A) Because I wanna be Technology Boy as well as Issue Boy.

B) Because I have no idea who my”audience” is.

C) Because I’m a Magic player who just happens to write, too.

D) Because I could.

And I don’t even know the answer.

And how fair is this?

Turn 1: Maggot Carrier (19)

Turn 2: Sinister Strength (15)

Turn 3: Maniacal Rage (9), Maggot Carrier (8)

Turn 4: Sinister Strength (-2), or serve (1) then Rage (-2)

What a weird format…



OOOH! Look at me! I’m Rizzo!

-I refer to myself in the second, third, and fourth person!

-I’m the next Wakefield, but I can’t play or write anywhere near as well as
he did!

-I hold stupid contests that people can find the answers to in seconds on The

-I write about issues because I suck at Magic and have no real tech!

-I take pictures at tourneys so people will read my reports!

-I buy tons of cards and give them away to bribe people to read my articles!

-I shave my friggin’ head ’cause I’m so friggin’ different! (Hellooooo, Dave
Meddish — The Ferrett)

-I play my own crappy decks at tourneys then bitch when I lose to Net Decks!

-I’m too smart for TV and insult those who do watch!

-I write fake letters in my articles ’cause I can’t articulate at all!

-I bitch about people who hate their jobs but I hate mine even more!

-I piss and moan about everything but never offer solutions!

-I wrote at least five of the Top Ten Most Annoying Net Articles in all of 2000!

-I copied and pasted a whole friggin’ article from e-mails!

-I can’t really write so I rely on gimmicks!

-I managed to grow a significant fan base then insult them all!

-I’m so insecure that I create alter-egos and give them dialogue!

Rebecca: You about done?

Johnny Xanax: Yep.

Becky: Feel better?

Johnny Prozac: Yep.


Dear Wife,

“The Exorcist” is the scariest movie ever. Buy it and watch it while I’m in



PTQ: Barcelona, Detroit

Scott Teamann was on a mission: 40 points to qualify for Barcelona with a 1985
rating or so. Or just win the tourney.

Friggin’ Rizzo was on a mission: um, like do good and stuff. Or just win the
tourney. Or not.

We decided to drive to Detroit on Friday night and wake up all April-fresh on
Saturday and win some games and stuff.

Tip: Driving 99% of the way and getting a room at the Days Inn is technology.
See, you can do all kinds of fun stuff: pillow fights, make crank calls to cute
boys in your class, and braid each other’s hair. Or just play all of Teamann’s
decks from PT: LA against each other.

Name’s Teamann, Scott Teamann. I drafted four Serpentine Kavu in every one of
my friggin’ decks in LA. No wonder I finished 63rd after 0-3ing my
first draft.

For fun, the rest of the CMU guys went to GP: Boston to be part of the 590 player
throng. Oh, and they left at 6 p.m. on Friday night. Math: Boston is ten hours
away. Arrival time of nutty CMUers: 4 a.m., give or take an hour or two or severe
motion sickness and cramped orifices and butts that fall asleep on the ride
up. And some of them even had a room booked. Maybe.

I saw Dan Rowlands, and you didn’t! Yes, the Dan Rowlands of CCGPrime — that
site over yonder that has Magic articles and stuff. I even snapped a pic of
him. Now, for those of you now keeping score, in two tourneys I have”outed”
Theron Martin, Shawn Jackson, and now, the big fish himself, Dante Rowlands.
I am cub reporter Jimmy Olsen all up in here.

Shawn Jackson was also esta en su casa, which was, oddly enough, Neutral Ground
– Detroit’s cribbo.

Teamann: I think there will be about 65 dudes there.

Mike”The Don of Magic” Guptil: There are 128 dudes here, chief.

It appears that not everyone went to Boston for the springtime, she said no.
Instead, they opted to hit the PTQ which was, theoretically, supposed to be
filled with scrubs ripe for the pickin’ – such as your humble narrator. While
the field was far from godly, Randy Wright, Pat Chapin, Jeff Sluzinski, and
a handful of other dudes pushing 1900+ Limited ratings were around to ruin everyone’s

Teamann and I spilt the Five and go to it and notice that Shawn, Dan, and two
other dudes are also sporting very big, unsleeved decks.

Dear Kurtis Hahn,

Boo. Ya.



Okay, so we’re here, blah, talking, blah, stuff, get a deck, whatever.

Mediocrity.com Bowl:

Nightscape Apprentice

Phyrexian Slayer

Soul Burn

Tsabo’s Assassin

Trench Wurm

Death Bomb


Phyrexian Reaper

Tahngarth, Talruum Hero

Thunderscape Apprentice

Magma Burst

Maniacal Rage

Caldera Kavu

Mire Kavu

Thunderscape Familiar


Worldly Counsel

Sea Snidd

Hunting Drake

Smoldering Tar

Shivan Zombie

Crosis’s Charm

Rith’s Attendant

7x Swamp

6x Mountain

4x Island

128 dudes: 7 rounds of swiss. The math tells the ones in the know that there
will likely be no ID’s. Aw. B-o-o-h-o-o. 5-1-1 ain’t gonna cut any mustard.
Again, Aw.

I entered the tourney with a 1728 Limited rating, fully expecting to face off
against a few 1800-or-bust dudes here and there.

Round 1: Chris Stakor, DCI rating: Well, WotC says he has no rating

Game 1: It seems pretty obvious that this is one of Chris’s first tourneys,
if not his first. He cast Lava Zombie a few times when he had no one to gate
and had to be reminded to gate his own Zombie as a result. Also, I attacked
with Tahngarth, Mire Kavu, and Shivan Zombie, and Chris tapped four mana to
Recoil Tahngarth with a judge standing right friggin’ there. Result: he had
to burn for one. Personally, I would’ve let him slide on the mana burn, but
you know those pesky judges – follow the rules and whatnot.

Dear Sheldon,

You bastard.


Everyone who ever witnessed mana burn

Game 2: More of the same, with Chris casting Marsh Crocodile with no one to gate. While he certainly made his share of mistakes, he actually played fairly decent and seemed to have a good grasp of the stack. Heck, he’s better than I was when I first started.

Collective voice of readers: He’s better than you are now, Rizzo! You suck!
(or maybe that was just the voice of David Phifer)

1-0 (2-0 games)

(I really can’t think of anything clever at all to say. Anything at all.)

Round 2: Tony Gargano, DCI rating: 1622 or so

Game 1: Tony plays first and lays an Island then proceeds to discard for the
next five turns, while I put the pressure on with a friggin’ Nightscape Apprentice.
I hit him to thirteen with said Apprentice then Tony begins to stabilize with
another Island and a Stormscape Familiar, Morgue Toad, and, for no reason at
all, Dromar. I manage to throw a Crosis’s Charm to bounce said Dragon and bring
the beats with Sea Snidd.

Tony played nothing for six turns, yet I won when I was at two. My deck is oh
so very gassy.

Dear Deck,

Please continue to draw land to spell ratios of 4-1.


Your Friggin’ Master, Biatch

Game 2: Nine turns of trading 1/1 beats is so annoying. Again, Tony gets out
Dromar with the aid of saccing a saccie land, and again I have the Crosis’s
Charm to bounce him. But when he finally gets back to Dromar mana, I also have
the Exclude. Woohoo for Johnny. But Tony has four flyers out to my two Apprentices
and thirteen land. The math is straightforward.

Dear Deck,

I was being sarcastic, dammit! Spells are our friend!


Johnny should-put-a-smiley-face-after-each-sarcastic-sentence

Game 3: Yeah, yeah, Dromar again. Beats traded without much fanfare until it
gets to crunch time. Tony’s at eleven, I’m at fourteen. He has Dromar and Aurora
Griffin staring at me when I draw my sideboard technology: Sleeping Potion.
This chills Dromar out for two turns until Tony casts Shriek of Dread on Dromar.

I squeeze him to five, while I’m sitting precarious on six. I have six lands
in play and a Soul Burn and Death Bomb in hand, with Sea Snidd, Nightscape Apprentice,
and Trench Wurm in play to his Dromar, Griffin, and friggin’ Obsidian Acolyte
(and three white mana untapped). Bad news, as I can only gain one life from
a Soul Burn to his dome and can’t even think about touching his dudes with the
Burn or Death Bomb. Still, I think there may be a way out, and I think for a
couple of minutes. Then scoop.

Life is fair. Why the hell is Dromar black, dammit? Acolytes are fair. And I
have to pee.

1-1 (3-2 games)

(Dear Readers, Someone really took the pic of me and Tony, but stole the disc
and erased it or something, so here’s Shawn Jackson and Dan Rowlands catchin’
tha’ vapors for no apparent reason at all.)

Round 3: Vincent Gaglio, DCI rating: 1667

Game 1: Someone pissed Vincent’s deck off something fierce, as he comes out
with dude upon dude upon dude upon yet another dude. Good thing they were all
weenies. Good thing I killed them all and played my own dudes upon dudes upon
dudes upon dudes.

When V-man is at six, he Reckless Spites two of said dudes and goes to one, hoping to draw a, um… Quick! Name a card that will kill four dudes that are black, red, or green, and won’t damage its caster as well.

Oh, that’s what I thought.

Game 2: Someone calm this dude down! A turn-two Thunderscape Familiar, turn-three
Blazing Specter eats my lunch until I can bounce it with Hunting Drake. For
some reason, V-rock redraws the Specter and doesn’t recast it, opting instead
to cast a Mire Kavu and kill my Drake, setting me up for the very fun situation
of facing a 4/3 and a happy Specter next turn.

Thinking about what I could draw to save me from death, I peel an Island and
try to Jedi Mind Trick that I drew removal by counting my mana a few times,
asking how many cards he has, what his life is, and otherwise delaying the inevitable.
I am totally shocked when it doesn’t work; he casts the Specter and sends his
boys in for a visit. I briefly consider bluffing… What the hell am I gonna
friggin’ bluff? I scoop out of common decency, or maybe just cause I was going
to die.

Game 3: Again, dude is all aggressive and stuff, dammit. Happy Familiar brings
out happier Specter on turn three, but he meets a Mourning after minimal hand
rape. On turn five I drop Nightscape Apprentice and Caldera Kavu; turn six Smoldering
Tar; turn seven Tahngarth, while Vincent seems content to lay land, more land,
and a Fertile Ground.

It’s likely that there is some math in there, but I wager that it is not pretty,
nor very difficult.

2-1 (5-3 games)

(Yes, Vincent was as uncomfortable as he looked. And I looked pissed because,
well, I really had to pee or something.)

Round 4: Ken Rawson, DCI rating: 1683

Game 1: I kill this guy to death with serious beats du jour of the 1-4 curve:
Apprentice, Zombie, Kavu, Wurm and get Ken to two when he casts Armadillo Cloak
on his 2/2 some white dude and serves for four, which jumps him up to six. He
also gets down Atalya and Samite Pilgrim with three land types.

Dear Ken,

Nice to see that I can never again kill any of your dudes with damage. Ever.


Closet White Mage

Ken swings with his Cloaked dude; I swing back, but he is getting a +2 life
swing out of the deal. Finally, I think I can kill his Cloaked guy and Samite
Pilgrim in the same turn with a combination of serious triple blocks and a kicked
Magma Burst. I pull my Burst out proudly, while Ken responds with his own Burst
at my dude and my head.

Me: Um, okay dude, I’ll go to seven.

Ken: Um, did someone forget to take the damage from my Cloaked dude for like
the last three turns?

Me: Um, lemme do the math here, chief.

Ken: Lemme help you with that…

Me: I suck at life.

Game 2: Ken lays land. Ken lays some more land. And a little more land for comfort,
while I assault his sense of fair play with Tsabo’s Assassin and Tahngarth.
When he finally does cast a dude, I ask him in which manner he would prefer
said dude to be blown to smithereens.

Game 3: Hi, my name is Ken, and I think I’ll just cast a dude every turn while
you fumble around with your insane lack of mana.

Hi, name’s Rizzo, Friggin’ Rizzo, and I suck at drawing mana. Would you mind
terribly if I just died on turn seven?

Hi, it’s Ken again, and no, I wouldn’t mind if you died on turn seven – in fact,
if you were to make it a grisly death I would much appreciate it. Thanks.

No Top Eight for Johnny today. Time to play for pride. Or something.

2-2 (6-5 games)

(Yes, I’m spying the bathroom because I still had to pee. Still.)

Round 5: Pete Ellenberger, DCI rating: Well, WotC says he has no rating

Game 1: Amount of damage I did to Pete the entire game: three. Amount of damage
Pete did to himself the entire game: seventeen. Whoa, the math seems to work
out to twenty, which is the amount of life points each player starts with in
a game of Magic. Neato.

I get smashed down to five while desperately looking for land, while Pete Reckless
Assaults every dude I get with the quickness. For fun, he even casts a Phyrexian
Delver and pulls out an Ancient Kavu, taking four. Yeah, he was kind of Reckless.
Pun? Where?

Game ending play: I’m at five, Pete’s at three. I top deck a Soul Burn that
I can pop for exactly three. I do so. Pete responds with Darigaaz’s Charm Lightning
Bolt effect at my dome and activates the Assault twice, essentially earning
a draw. Or so he thinks. And so do I, sort of. Before I scoop, I call a judge.

Judge: Dude, you ain’t gots da’ life to pay to activate dat Assault, chief.
Dis brother in da’ Pirates hat done won dis gizame, my man.

(I’m fairly certain that the judge actually talked like that.)

Me: Right on with the right on! Keep on keeping on, oh robed one!

Game 2: Again, I’m down to single digits before I know what happened. Pete drums
me with Familiars and Kavus, getting me to three before I stabilize with Hunting
Drake, Sea Snidd, Mire Kavu, and the timeliest Magma Burst ever that kills his
team and leaves him in topdeck mode. For a while, he does indeed top deck enough
dudes to hold me off — but eventually, he runs out of dudes and appears to draw
a ton of cards that do nothing but keep his hand full.

It takes me six turns of living at three life against a guy who has burn spells
coming out the wazoo to finish him, and that kind of living is bad for the old
ticker. I finally manage to eliminate him, but only after drawing all of my
dudes and burn, while Pete had at least five cards in hand at the end of the
game. Weird.

Johnny wins it and has no idea how. Really. If ever there is a match that I
should lose 80% of the time, this is it.

3-2 (8-5 games)

(Pete is Bob Maher, Jr., or no?)

Round 6: Nathan Bramlett, DCI rating: 1591

Game 1: Name’s Rizzo, Sucks-At-Magic Rizzo. Nathan has a Charging Troll in play
and I cast a turn-four Tsabo’s Assassin, and as Nathan is playing W/G/U, I feel
fairly confident that he will live a few turns. I get hit for three from the
Troll and figure that’s the last damage I’m taking this game. Well, I was right,
but I do suck at Magic.

There is a Troll and Assassin in play. Do I cast the Sea Snidd or Trench Wurm?
Duh. I cast the friggin’ Trench Wurm and realize that I have to let the Wurm
die if I want to Assassin said Troll. Wow, do I suck at Magic. I even told Nathan
that I am really bad at Magic, but guys like the Assassin are so good that even
fellows like me can do well.

Nathan is screwed. He gets down a dude and I wax it. Forever.

Game 2: A Tahngarth shows up on turn five as the games first play. That’s all
that was needed, although I did manage to use a later Thunderscape Apprentice
to steal a life here and there. Tahngarth and Tsabo’s Assassin are fair cards.

Dear Tahngarth,

You are sooooo dreamy!


31 year-old heterosexuals everywhere

4-2 (10-5 games)

(Nathan is being cool, completely ignoring the threat that those goblins present.)

Round 7: David Ronis, DCI rating: 1691

Before we start, David pulls out a bunch of little slips of paper that say”Goblin
Game stinks.” For some reason I am led to believe that he gives these out to
his opponents for fun before each match. When he shows me the slip, I scarf
it up and put it in my deckbox; judging by David’s reaction, that isn’t what
they are for. My bad. But I’m keeping it, chief. And I don’t know why.

But he did ask me if my middle name is”friggin.” Try as I might, I still can’t
get my wife or kids to call me”friggin,” damnit. (Funny, my wife and kids call
me Ferrett — NOT WILLIAM, DAMMIT — The Ferrett, two Ts and a buncha damn attitude)

Game 1: Crucial play: David has a Cinder Shade and Thunderscape Apprentice in
play, with two black and a red available to pump/sac the shade. I have a Hunting
Drake and Nightscape Apprentice in play and a handful of dudes, including Tahngarth,
not to mention a Death Bomb and enough mana to cast it.

As expected, David pumps/sacs the shade at my Drake, and I respond with Death
Bomb, saccing the Drake and killing his Apprentice. He hasn’t enough mana to
cast anything else this turn, and now has no dudes and is down two life.

So, I figure I’ll just drop dude after dude and smash. One of said dudes was
the aforementioned Tahngarth, which made sure that David never ended a turn
with any other creatures in play.

Game 2: D casts two Familiars and Ancient Kavu before I even have three lands.
And then he casts Mirrorwood Treefolk and kisses me on the cheek before he tucks
me in for the night.

Dear Swamps,

Thanks for hiding.


Johnny Hand O’ Black

Game 3: Hi, my name is John, and I have a God Hand: Island, Swamp, Mountain,
Crosis’s Charm, Trench Wurm, Shivan Zombie, Maniacal Rage.

Hi, my name is David, and I played two Forests and a Quirion Elves, naming”red.”

Hi, it’s John again, and I thought long and hard about Charming your Elves in
case you were mana screwed – then I did. And you were.

David is hanging on for dear life facing a Raged Trench Wurm and a Shivan Zombie,
with just an Attendant on his side. He’s at nine and I have a Soul Burn that
I can pop for three in hand. Decision: Do I Burn the Attendant or aim it at
his dizome? Long thoughts, but not long enough, tell me to send the burn directly
to his head, anticipate him blocking the Wurm with his Attendant, and dying
next turn.

And now, for the correct play: burn his dude. Serve for seven, putting him at
two and needing to draw TWO dudes or TWO removal spells next turn.

Teamann was sitting next to me and, as I later learned, had at least two massive
heart attacks at the insanity of my play.

Dear David,

I liked playing you so much that I figured, for the hell of it, I’d give you
a chance to win an unwinnable game.


Mr. Tried to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, and almost succeeded.

5-2 (12-6 games)

(David is trying to sell me a Quirion Elves for ten bucks, claiming it’s the
best card in Type 2, but I will have none of that as I am fully aware that Goblin
Game is the best.)

(David thinks Quirion Elves is a better card than Goblin Game. FRIGGIN’ NEWBIES!!!!!)

16th place. Blah. Teamann ended up 14th after losing to Randy Wright last round,
going 5-2.

Oooh, look at me! I’m Rizzo! I went 5-2 and gained 19 points!

Oooh, look at me! I’m Teamann! I went 5-2 and lost 15 points!

Closing the books on Barcelona PTQs, I find a 16-9-1 record, with a 37-24 game
record. I’ll take it, but Grand Prix: Detroit is comin’ round at the end of
March; guess I’ll have to go for no reason at all.

Stuff and stuff:

-It’s really weird when everyone you play has a lower rating than you. Weird
as hell indeed, but I don’t think I’ll have to worry about that at GP: Detroit.

-Number of times I said”bad times for Becky” the entire weekend: 0

– Number of times Teamann did: about a million. Or more.

-Rowlands asked me to sign Draw-Go, the chain-smoking Cheetah’s butt. how, Draw-Go
is the official mascot of CCGPrime, and I felt honored — nay, obligated — to
scrawl on the ass of the hardest working Cheetah in showbiz. And it was almost
legible. Okay, it wasn’t. At all.

-Number of play mistakes I made that I noticed: 12

Number I probably didn’t notice: 30-40

I are gud at majic.

-NG didn’t have Diet Coke; bottles of Diet Pepsi consumed: 8

Number consumed the entire weekend: 17

-Number of times Dan Rowlands swore: like a million

Number of times I swore: like half a million

Number of times Shawn Jackson swore: like two.


Dear Net Readers,

Don’t hate Shawn. He’s nice.


Gutter-Mouth Rizzo, with input from Gutter-Mouth Rowlands

-Number of times I heard”99 Luftballons” in the last 10 years: 2

Number of times I heard said song on the drive home: 2

Conclusion: Ohio and Michigan have cool radio stations.

-Amount of bet Teamann proposed when I said”I bet Randy Wright makes Top Eight:”
five bucks.

Person who beat Teamann to make Top Eight: Randy Wright.

That sounds like a hella screenplay or something.

-Dear Husband,

Well, I watched”The Exorcist” and found it to be sort of funny. What was so
scary about it again?


Hard-core Wife

I really don’t know what to say about that.

-Andy J goes 8-0 on day one at GP – Boston, and ends up making Top Sixteen.
Utter freshness. Aaron Forsythe and Mike Turian both finish in the Top Thirty-two.
More utter freshness.

Conclusion: Sleep is for the weak.

Kurtis Hahn makes Top Eight in Boston. With William Steinmetz qualifying for
Barcelona, and Big K cold kickin’ ass, it seems the lines of Casual vs. Pro
are becoming a little blurrier.

“These nerds are becoming a threat to our way of life.”

-Ted McGinley, Revenge of the Nerds

Damn straight. Claytor was right. He was oh so very right.

John Friggin’ Rizzo