PA States: I’m With Hip-Hop

Mapquest says that Harrisburg is four hours and random minutes from Pittsburgh. Scott Teamann says it’s three and a half hours, so I can pick him up at six on Saturday morning and get there with time to spare, but on Friday night I get a "something’s come up" email. A little bummed I am,…

Mapquest says that Harrisburg is four hours and random minutes from Pittsburgh. Scott Teamann says it’s three and a half hours, so I can pick him up at six on Saturday morning and get there with time to spare, but on Friday night I get a "something’s come up" email. A little bummed I am, but I figure that at least I can sleep in an extra half-hour. Alas.

I glance at the alarm clock; it stares back with a hateful "6:39" on it’s face.


There is virtually no way I can make Harrisburg by ten!

Well, if you were to AVERAGE eighty-five MPH or so, you could. Maybe. I averaged ninety. And still didn’t make it.

Who starts States on time?

No one.

Upon arrival, I find Aaron "I am Hip Hop" Forsythe, Mike "I am most defiantly broken beyond belief" Turian, Eugene "Eubroken" Harvey, and some random bespectacled fellow sittin’ round shooting the breeze. I plop my got-there-at-ten-fifteen-to-find-out-I-still-had-thirty-minutes-to-spare-butt down, and see the random bespectacled fellow’s hand extended my way.

"Jon Becker – nice to meet you."

Ah… so YOU’RE Becker?

After a few minutes of gettin’ to know ya, the conversation went where it was destined:

Forsythe: (to Becker) I wrote a response to your Searchin-

Becker: (to me) That Bennett kid had some good points.

Me: (to everyone) Well, he is the best writer on The Net.

<insert the "tru dat" nods of Becker, Forsythe, Eubroken, and three other guys overhearing at the other end of the table>

So, Josh Bennett, OMC to those in the know (and even to those who aren’t) has been deemed, by all those involved in the Searching For Jamie Wakefield episode (and relevant aftermath), as the best writer on The Net.

(Cue up David Bowie featuring Queen’s "Under Pressure.")

Hola OMC,


John Friggin’ Rizzo

[Aside: Aaron’s response to Becker’s Searching for Aaron Forsythe should have been posted by now over on The Dojo. While he wrote it like two weeks ago, SensaiHouse didn’t post it before States, which is kind of a bitch. He should have though, for the timing would’ve been perfect. But I digress.]

That’s a Derelor Aaron is holding, a Wakefield-endorsed Fatty.

(Not really) obligatory who’s here:

CMU/Pittsburgh guys: Aaron Forsythe, Mike Turian, Eugene Harvey.

Star City guys: Recently rediscovered Elliot Fertik, Clinton Marchant.

Forsythe Apologist and, random Philadelphia attorney, Jon Becker.

Perennial Top Eighters Brad and Tom Swan, Mike Battista, Dan Bridy.

Unfortunately, that’s everyone I know. So far.

The Dead Pool:

Some wacko (Forsythe) made me worth three points in the Dead Pool. That’s PLUS three points for a victory against me. I figured that if any Dead Poolers beat me, they should lose three points, but Aaron, ever the anal-retentive bastion of equality, didn’t see it that way. (But I almost convinced him.)

Here’s the pile o’ mediocrity I registered:

I forget what clever name I registered it as.dec:

4x Counterspell
4x Undermine
4x Thwart
4x Fact or Fiction
4x Opt
2x Vampiric Tutor
3x Recoil
3x Chilling Apparition
1x Desertion
1x Wash Out
1x Greel, Mind Raker
1x Cateran Slaver
1x Yawgmoth’s Agenda
1x Tsabo’s Web
1x Abduction
1x Bribery
13x Island
5x Swamp
4x Salt Marsh
2x Underground River

Sideboard (it made sense at the time):
3x Misdirection
2x Stromgald Cabal
3x Wash Out
3x Perish
1x Lobotomy
1x Blind Seer
1x Stalking Assassin
1x Dry Spell

This deck handles everything that can be thrown at it. It just doesn’t handle it very well. At all.

Round 1:
Stewart "Broken" Beattie, Ankh Tide

Game 1:
I fall out of my chair when he plays a turn 3 Ankh. I counter. He Dazes. Are you kidding me? Turn 4 Tide, with Daze backup. Repeat a few times for flavor.

Game 2:
A glance at my sideboard reveals no tech for Tide. If there was one matchup I did NOT test, Tide was it. I have a handful of NO, but he keeps throwing random Boomerangs and Hoodwinks until I finally figure out that I will lose to Ankh Tide. Badly.

I ask Stewart for a pic and tell him it’s for a report on StarCity. I hear a random, "Are you that Rizzo?" and, "Dude, you rule," which makes me realize that bringing a camera was a good idea. Plus, I just lost to Ankh Tide and a little pick-me-up certainly helps. Neato.

(Note to self: Beat the living snot out of Will Rieffer anyway.)

Rizzo: 0-1
Forsythe: 0-1 (Woohoo!)
Turian: 1-0
Harvey: 1-0
Becker: 1-0
Fertik: 1-0
Marchant: 1-0

Round 2:
Ed Keefer – well, he had Dream Thrush.

Game 1:
He gets mana screwed, hard, while my turn 6 SLAVER with multiple counter backup just gets all raw, as his hapless Swamp can only sit there and cry.

Game 2:
Oh my. I spread two Counterspells, Recoil, two Islands, Swamp, and Fact or Fiction. That draw= pretty good. But it really doesn’t matter, as Ed stalls with two Islands for about fourteen turns. Aaron strolls by and watches for a moment, and Ed, in his frustration, shows both of us seven black cards. I had a handful of God, just in case he could EVER cast anything, but the two Chillies that were supplying the beats were all that I would need.

Game 3:

Ed: "We’re playing the third game because this is for points."
Me (deciding to play along): "Hey, chief, I drove four hours to play."

Man, is this bad. For Ed. He gets a Dream Thrush out. That’s it. Ever. Severe Chilly beats, while countering NINE spells in a row, can just be disheartening. Ed packs up his stuff, and is off with the quickness; hence, no photo.

Rizzo: 1-1
Forsythe: 1-1
Turian: 2-0
Harvey: 2-0
Becker: 1-1
Fertik: 2-0
Marchant: 2-0

Round 3:
Gene Turk, Rebel Trash

Before game one, Gene asks if I’m THE Friggin’ Rizzo, to which I humbly reply, "BOOYA, chieftain," or something to that effect. I can tell he feels kind of bad that he’s going to beat the living piss out of me, and is almost apologizing in advance for the bludgeoning he’s about to unleash.

Game 1:
I Undermine something.

Game 2:
I Undermine something.

Oh, yes, Gene is feeling the guilt of playing White, and he’s feeling it in spades. He feels so bad after assaulting me – in less than ten minutes, by the way -that he attempts to soothe my "bruised" ego by asking me to autograph a card: Juggernaut. His buddy also, conveniently, has a spare Juggernaut laying around, and I sign that one too. Okay, if my ego was bruised (by this time, anyone who has ever read any of my articles would know that losing is like a retarded cousin that I’m sort of getting used to), it’s all groovy now.

Dear Gab "The Juggernaut" Tsang,

I’m sorry to inform you that your title of "Juggernaut" has since been
usurped up in here by me, chief.

John Friggin’ Juggernaut Rizzo

After chatting with Gene for a few minutes, another guy comes up and says he likes my articles. I say "so, you’re the one," and hear three or four guys blurt out serious praise. Damn. I had an awesome evil article all set to send to The Ferrett, dealing with a recent spate of "dude, you used to be good" emails I have recently received. I guess I’ll have to hold off on that one.


It’s good.

Rizzo: 1-2
Forsythe: 1-2 PLUNK (That sound indicates a drop.)
Turian: 3-0 (Ho hum.)
Harvey: 3-0 (Booya.)
Becker: 2-1 (Dammit.)
Fertik: 3-0
Marchant: 2-1

Round 4:
Nick Batdore, B/R Rizzo style Tech for the stupid beats

Game 1:
Hey, Nick, do you mind if I counter a whole bunch of your stuff then lay a SLAVER?

Game 2:
Nick: Swamp, go.

Me: Island.

Nick: Mountain, Ritual, SPECTER.

Me: Wow, my graveyard is getting really full!

Game 3:
Oh, thine broken Specter, thou hath been Ritual’d out again. Then Nick added another broken Specter and had me 20-3. Looks grim, right. Well, yeah, jerky, it’s real Friggin’ grim. Until…

Yawgmoth’s Agenda hits – way prematurely, by the way – with a Recoil, Fact or Fiction, Desertion, and some random cardstock in the boneyard. I am staving off death here, and I’m not sure how. I stabilize by bouncing his Specters, then making him discard them with Chilly, who showed up, basically, out of pity for me. But he paid off. I was pretty sure things were looking up for the home team (although, oddly I was more than three hours away from home), then IT happened.

Nick is probably still thinking about IT. I know I am. But these things happen. Sometimes, okay, hardly ever, but I witnessed it, therefore, must bring it up. (Nick, don’t feel too bad, for I’m now about a 1520 Constructed!)

I end-of-turn Fact or Fiction with the Agenda in play. Revealed are:

Undermine, Thwart, Undermine, Recoil, Fact or Fiction.

Nick thinks for about ten seconds then separates the piles:

Five cards in this pile.

Zero cards in that pile.

(Read that again.)

Me: "Are you sure?"

Nick: "Yeah."

Me: "Um, I think I’ll take this pile o’ five goodness."

Nick (eyeing the Agenda): "You were gonna get them anyway."

Me (suddenly realizing): "Removed… from… game."

Nick: "Oh."

You could say that Nick made an error. All right, it was a


error, but, in fairness to Nick, I think I had stabilized enough that I already had that game wrapped up. Bad plays happen to good people, and Nick is certainly no exception. Wipe it clean, chief, and move on.

FrigginRizzo: <—Tapped an Underground River for Vampiric Tutor when he was at four life when opponent had a creature and Keldon Necropolis AND 4R open.

I ask Nick for a pic, mention it’s for a report and he says, ‘I thought you were playing a R/B deck?" Heh. He suspected I was El Friggo, yet never let on. Sneaky bastard.

Rizzo: 2-2
Turian: 4-0 (Ho hum, still.)
Harvey: 4-0 (Booya to the second power.)
Becker: 2-2 (Woohoo!)
Fertik: 3-1 (Even a train stops, E.)
Marchant: 2-2 (KerPLUNK.)

Friggin’ Marchant dropped. To read comic books and whatnot.

(Note to self: Never let Marchant live this down.)

Round 5:
Steve D’Angelo B/R NetherZombie

Game 1:
Hi, Steve. Did you know that I have a SLAVER maindeck?

Game 2:
Are you just gonna beat me down with both of those Nether Spirits forever?

Game 3:
I’m at four, with a lone Greel to his Spirit, which has beaten me for a while, as he also has a handful of burn, just daring Greel to block. I think I draw an answer when I topdeck Wash Out. I can bet a million that his hand contains another Spirit. If I can somehow pop the other Spirit to his hand, then Greel both into his yard, I’ll crush his liver. But, Greel is black too, Mr. Obvious. While I’m trying to figure out a way to destroy his dreams, I end-of-turn Tutor, tapping a River, in search of Recoil. Oh, yeah, I got him now.

As referred to earlier: He has a Friggin’ Keldon Necropolis, 4R open, Nether Spirit just sitting there, AND that Taunting Seal. In response to me pinging myself to one, he says "Dude, I can kill you with the Necropolis." I respond with, "Hi, my name is John, and I’m an idiot."

Support group: "Hi, John!"

He sort of asks if I really want to go through with the Tutor, and, as punishment, I say something like "burn me out, chief." Well, I’m stupid, but I don’t think I really had a chance, so I’ll consider my error a sort of "dishonorable discharge." Plus, he had a broken wrist or something, and I felt bad. Okay, I didn’t, but compassion is a badge of courage, right?

Rizzo: 2-3
Turian: 5-0 (Seriously, he’s getting annoying.)
Harvey: 5-0 (You Friggin’ go, boy!)
Becker: 3-2 (Damn!)
Fertik: 3-2 (Sup with that, E?)

Aaron won a draft or something. That was hard to predict.

Round 6:
Andrew Wallis, G/W Screw Rizzo.dec

Game 1:
Andrew mulligans to five, and makes me beat the unholy piss out of him with two Chillies, while countering a total of seven green creatures in a row.

Game 2:
Side in three Perish, ya think?

I have two Perish in my opening hand. Can you guess what color ALL
of Andrew’s guys were this game?

Andrew: White guy. Go.

(I stare at Perish one and two.)

Andrew: Serve, White guy, go.

(I stare at Perish one and two.)

Andrew: Serve, White guy, go.

(I stare at a life total of zero.)

Game 3:
Side out three Perish, as Andrew is sideboard tech.

Andrew: Boa, go.

(Are you friggin’ kidding me?)

Andrew: Beat, Boa, go.

(No, apparently, he is not kidding me.)

Andrew: Beat, Boa, Elf, Birds, go.

Andrew Wallis=Sideboard Tech.

Rizzo: 2-4
Turian: 5-0-1 (ID. I’m not sure if I forgive him yet.)
Harvey: 6-0 (Does NOT ID. I love Eubroken.)
Becker: 4-2 (Stop it!)
Fertik: 3-3 (The spirit of Rizzo compels you.)

Round 7:
Tom Boehmke, Counter-Rebel

Game 1:
Aaron ambles over to dissect my play skills for this match.

He tries a turn three Sergeant; of course I have the Counterspell. He has… POWER SINK?????????????????????????????????

<insert sound of random laughter from Forsythe right here, chief>

During Tom’s next turn he casts Cho: Blue on the Sergeant, I try to Recoil in response, but he pitches a Counterspell and MISDIRECTS the Recoil to my Salt Marsh.

<insert sound of uproarious laughter from Forsythe right here>

Game 2:
In comes the tech: two Stromgald Cabal, three Wash Out.

I get out Chilly and serve/counter/recoil everything. Ever.

Game 3:
Turn three Cabal is sweet, as Tom only has two Plains. I add a Chilly to the mix, and later Greel comes to play. Can you say lock? The Cabal sucks eight life out of me, but Chilly and Greel pop about twenty cards into Tom’s yard. This game took awhile, but it sure was fun to be invincible. Woohoo for Rizzo!


(Is it just me, or does this picture look like a bored dad and his son waiting for the drug deal to happen? — The Ferrett)

Rizzo: 3-4
Turian: 6-0-1 (Yawn.)
Harvey: 6-0-1 (ID, and yet I forgive him.)
Becker: 5-2 (Bastard.)
Fertik: 4-3 (hay, at leest we writ gud.)

Even though I have never drafted (well, I drafted a few times at CMU against the best Friggin’ drafters in the world), I paid a few bucks and went buck wild. My draft philosophy is this:

Pick good cards, let everyone else do the thinking.

Who drafts this…

4x Nomadic Elf
2x Quirion Elves
1x Verdeloth
2x Agonizing Demise
1x Annihilate
1x Duskwalker
2x Sleeper’s Robe
1x Faerie Conclave
1x Probe
1x Spite/Malice
random excellent guys

…and loses?

Answer at end. Okay, answer now.


Funny random quote, inserted for no reason:

-The guy I fed after opening my third pack

Why would I take a FOIL Thunderscape Master, when I wasn’t playing red? And, yes, he took it. No, he wasn’t playing red either.

Top 8:

1. Turian- Rebels
2. Eubroken-Three color pile
3. Carlo Simone- R/G Fires
4. Mike Battista- Blue Skies and whatnot
5. Brad Swan- Rebels
6. Anthony McDonough- Nether Go
7. Dan Bridy- Rebels
8. Brian Kraft- Merfolk

Number of Dark Rituals in Top 8: zero.


Turian def. Kraft.
Eubroken def. Bridy. (again)
Simone def. McDonough
Swan def. Battista

Turian def. Swan

Dammit! A CMU finals would’ve been utterly sick as hell. Well, there’s always next year. Oh, yeah, Turian is the Pennsylvania State Champ, with an 18-3 or so record.

After Eubroken lost in the quarters, I asked if I could post his decklist. He, probably not realizing that he had some pretty strong tech, said sure, and even wrote most of it down for me. I remember, before the tourney even started, taking a look at his deck and loving it. Man. Is it broken. Man, I wish I could list it as an example of pure Rogue. As an example of pure thinking outside the box. But, I can’t, as CMU has decided that Eubroken is just Friggin’ broken, and they wish to keep the wraps on his deck, at least for now.

But, damn, is Eubroken plain broken. Expect to see him breaking many more things in the future.

Oh, yeah, Mike Turian is the Pennsylvania State Champ, with an 18-3 or so record.

Mike Turian is broken. Mike Turian is broken. Mike Turian is broken.

Kudos, you broken, broken man.


The Big Draft Box:

You’ve heard rumors of The Big Draft Box. They are all true. Aaron has a big ol’ box (hence the nomenclature) of really cool cards, from Alpha to Invasion in random fifteen card "packs." We draft them.

Overheard at the Big Box Draft:

"Who passes a Disk?"

"Who passes Time Spiral?"

"What the hell does Narwhal do again?"

You get the idea.

I drafted some goodies: Force of Will, AMNESIA, Swords, Catastrophe, Savannah Lions, White Knight, Nev’s Disk, and Control Magic come to memory. I lost. A lot.

I lost to Turian’s Sneak Attack/Gilded Drake/Recall/Phyrexian Colossus/Morphling deck that he didn’t even draft but played because the kid who drafted it had to leave.

I lost to Aaron’s Wildfire/Flowstone Hellion/Signed Darwin deck.

This is the most fun you can have drafting, ever. No, you don’t get to keep the cards, and you don’t win anything. You just play. For fun. It sure the hell is.

The Big Draft Box. Coming to a town near you. Get some.

Jon Becker, attorney for the trading impaired:

I wanted to get a picture of all the Net writers I could find, but had to wait for Becker to finish a trade. I’m not sure what the hell was holding up the deal, but I must have said "Becker! Picture!" about thirty times. I did hear "Objection, relevance," and "Pursuant to claim number 24309," uttered from the mouth of everyone’s favorite broken attorney.

Becker, through the eyes of a broken writer, in the courtroom:

Becker, broken attorney: "Your Honor, the testimony in question is obviously broken and in need of errata. Move to strike."

Judge: "Wanna play for ante?"

Becker, broken attorney: "Sideboard, your Honor?"

Judge: "I pack four Chillies up in this bad dude!"

While I explicitly ordered Marchant to NOT leave until I got a pic with him and Fertik, he bailed, as he probably had to go home and sleep or read comics or something.


(l to r) Scrub, Pro, broken lawyer Becker, Pro, Broken lawyer Fertik.

Net Food:

What do you get when you mix a dozen Magic players and a long drive home?


A dozen hungry floppers and the weird booth in the back that’s like for
legitimate large groups that sort of splits all funny in the middle is an
invitation to broken.

Not being intimately familiar with the Denny’s menu, like so many of my Magic playing brethren, I peruse with great care… searching for a broken combo.

Moons Over My Hammy seems to be in need of errata. I think I’ll order that before it gets restricted. I close my menu, the waitress comes to get the orders, and Aaron says "I’d like the Cheese-covered fries." (or whatever it’s called) I immediately perk up and ask Aaron to show me where the picture of said broken menu item is.

Net Food:

When the waitress gets around to me, I order the Cheese-covered fries. Aaron is none too pleased that me, the bastion of Rogue, has ordered the same thing that he has, with absolutely no input of my own. I used his knowledge for my own gains, apparently. He takes the shot that he never thought he’d get:

"Rizzo ordered Net Food!"

I am Hip Hop:

While we are waiting for the Net Food, I start ragging on Aaron’s "I am
Hip Hop" shirt. Throughout the day, everyone with a sense of humor had realized how absolutely hilarious that shirt had become, especially on Aaron. If ever there was a person you would definitely not describe, on sight, as "hip hop," it is Aaron.

Naturally, the conversation started to venture into the alternate slogans that would make good T-shirts to wear in conjunction with "I am Hip Hop."

Turian and Eubroken offer up some hilarious ideas, but, out of the blue, I hear Aaron utter:

"I’m with Hip Hop."

(Referring to the "I’m with Stupid" tees that were the rage a few years back.)

Know how you start laughing and can’t stop? How you actually start to
laugh so hard that you begin to cry? That was me. After about five minutes, Aaron started in, and neither of us could stop. Oddly, no one else so much as cracked a smile. Huh? How can you hear the most utterly broken idea, ever, and not laugh your ass off?


Tip: When your wife calls your cellphone at midnight, don’t say, "I’ll be home in a little bit," especially when you are at least three hours from home.

Finally, The Pittsburgh Guys. (Combined record 18-7-2)

(l to r) Scrub, Scrub, PA State Champion, Top 4.

Magic is Friggin’ cool.

‘Nuff said.

John Friggin’ Rizzo
[email protected]