It’s strange how Magic can mimic the World Cup when you are viewing things through football-colored glasses. Take last week, for example. I thought we were a lock for a win. I mean, Earthquake is clearly the better card of the two choices, and I was optimistic that we were going to start things off right with this whole Selecting 10th Edition thing and go from there. Then Ben "Ovinomancer" Bleiweiss blew his pied piper pipe and all the sheep clicked on Hurricane. This is what we in the business call a baaahd decision. Oddly enough, it is not unlike how the U.S. National Team kicked off their World Cup experience – full of high hopes, and then brought crashing back to reality by a total pummeling from the Czech Republic. Bad days happen though, so I’m going to stay within myself here and just take it one day at a time. You can’t let things like this get to you. I have a job to do, so I’m just going to focus on the task at hand, and – God willing – things will work themselves out. You have to move forward, you know, just to stay ahead…
This week presents a much greater obstacle than last week, just like Italy were a much more dangerous team than the Czechs. On the surface, it seems simple – all I have to do is convince you that a three-mana 2/2 with first strike and protection from Red and Black is better than a two-mana 1/1 with protection from Red and Black. Easy peasy. Except for one measly problem
Auriok Chump gains life.
I have a theory about these votes that says any time a dragon, angel, or life gain card is involved in a vote with other cards that are not dragons/angels/life gaining, the former will win. Hands down. There’s nothing one can do to change these things, it is simply the way the world works. Therefore, it is my belief that there is no possible way I can convince you folks to vote for Paladin en-Vec. Hell, this vote could be between PeV and freaking Soul Warden and I would still expect to lose it. Life gain is the Italy of the Magic world – it hasn’t lost since before Italy won their last World Cup, and the story I’m going to tell you in the second half of this article is certain to get me a red card. And yet I must try for a draw.
Paladin en-Vec is the most underrated card in Standard right now. Who else could singlehandedly shut down 10/10 Magnivores with his left hand while flat out winning Black/White mirror matches with his right? Forget the fruity little hyphen in his name, Paladin en-Vec is a man, baby. His special combination of abilities adds the pseudo-text "cannot be blocked" to his already stout little body, and god forbid you ever add Umezawa’s Jitte to him, or hell… any power-amplification. He’s The Abyss on wheels, like Heather Graham during her fabulous turn as Roller Girl, except slightly less busty. In the sports world, Paladin en-Vec is Dwayne Wade – he may look small, but the effect he has on the game is enormous. Underestimating him is frequently a fatal mistake.
On the other side of this debate is a 1/1. Don’t let the boobs fool you into voting for her – Auriok Champion has been good for two things in its lifetime – blocking Arc-Sloggers, and enabling evil combo decks like Aluren. If you vote for this card, you should feel dirty, because you probably just gave some combo player two years of free wins. Do you want to be that guy? I wouldn’t. I honestly couldn’t look my buddy in the face the next time he gets blown out by some infinite life-gaining engine if I voted for this card. Life is hard enough as it is – you don’t need that sort of guilt on your conscience.
Besides, do you know what 1/1s are good for? Blocking. Do you know what 2/2s are good for? Beating down. Blocking is for sissies my friends, while beating down… that’s man’s work. Be a man – vote for Paladin en-Vec. And Roller Girl.
Tall Tales from South Carolina
Pro Tour: Charleston was an interesting event, filled with colorful characters and good stories. The food we had at dinner each night was downright awesome, but there were some unexpected adventures along the way. What follows is the unadulterated account of one such adventure, which can be verified with both Noah Weil and Aaron Forsythe, and was so absurd that it did not need embellishment on my part to come out as you read it here.
So it’s Friday night and the bulk of the coverage crew has decided to go to a restaurant called S.N.O.B. for dinner. Forsythe, Weil, and I all pile into a cab, with Noah hopping in last, and trying to fit a third ass in the back seat.
"Noah, sit up front," I say. "We’re all over six feet tall here – no need to crowd one of us onto the hump seat." Noah merely shrugs, and hopes in the passenger seat of our yellow cab, which speeds off towards the Customs House area of Charleston.
"Six feet tall, eh?" booms the voice from the front seat. A closer examination reveals a large body wearing a muscle shirt with a long, salt and pepper ponytail. "That ain’t nothing. Why I bet I’m taller than alla y’all. You know what they call me? Six nine. That’s how tall I am. You know what else they call me?
As far as introductions go, this one was a doozy. Normally when one gets into a cab, you tell the driver where you need to go, and then return to whatever conversation you were having previously with your friends while you tune the cabby out. Not this time… No, Big F***er was one of those special, interactive cabbies who wants to relieve his boredom by regaling you with stories about his life, while scaring the utter bejeezus out of passengers unfortunate enough to lack a Southern drawl.
It’s about this time that I glance at Forsythe, who is chuckling amiably at the cab driver’s aggressively friendly demeanor. That, or he’s deeply panicked, but doesn’t want to set this guy off by not playing along and thereby give our host an excuse to dispose of our bodies in the backwoods of South Cackalacky. Weil’s chuckle from the front seat is clearly uncomfortable, and conveys menace in my general direction. I was unaware that one could send such clear messages just by laughing, but Noah was obviously trying to tell me, "If this guy whips a sawed-off from beneath his seat, shoots me, eats me, picks his teeth with my bones and wears the skin from my thighs for a hat… well, I don’t know how, but I’m taking you with me," while his already pale Northwestern computer nerd complexion had gone almost transparent with fright.
"Of course, I got arrested by a cop last night who was actually taller’n me. That sumbitch was seven foot one. Seven one! Cops aren’t supposed to be that damn tall, man. Wasn’t really fair to me either – I was just doin’ my job.
"You see, I work as a bouncer at a t**ty bar, and this guy who was there decided he wanted to get in trouble, so I had to show him who was boss, you know what I mean? Maybe I got a little rough with him, but nobody needed to call the cops. I like bouncin’ though. T**ty bar don’t do much for me, but bouncin’s good times. Hell, I’m 48 years old now, my sex life has gone to hell, and I’m driving this f***ing cab, so what do I got to live for, you know? But there ain’t nothing like a good fight. Not many boys out there can whup my ass, that’s for sure.
"My wife though, she’s the only woman I ever met who beat the sh** out of me. You see, I was at my cousin’s place – he runs a t**ty bar down on Bourbon Street in New Orleans – and there she was, all four foot seven of her, drinkin’ a whiskey sour. I tried to talk to her for ’bout an hour or so, but she wasn’t havin’ none of it. Finally I decided to have a little fun with her… got downright belligerent, but she was cool as could be. I finally got bored and turned around to chase after some other girl that walked by.
"Next thing I know, I was lying on the floor, knocked out cold. Seems she had picked up a bottle and whacked me upside the head with it. Then she picked up five or six more and did it again. Guess I made her mad, and she felt she needed to do somethin’ about it.
"Three days later I wake up in the hospital, and there she is, standin’ over me. Mama said she never left my side. I knew at that point that she was the girl for me. The only woman who ever whupped my ass… I had to marry her – didn’t have a choice."
Luckily for us, Big F***er got a call from the missus on his cell phone, and their bickering distracted him until we got to the restaurant. He was a true Southern gentleman, right up to the last, where he offered to take us back when we were done with our meal.
"If you need a ride back, let me know. If nothing else, you can just call the cab dispatch and ask for Big F***er – they’ll know who yer talkin’ about."
How could they not?
Public Service Announcement
Just a reminder that I am still writing about the World Cup every day over at Football kNuts, so if you are interested in what I am up to lately, check it out.
Until next time, vote for the beatdown.
Teddy Card Game