Sex, Drugs, And Ancestral Tribute For Four

I am now convinced that Alex Shvartsman must be one of the best players on Earth. All he does is travel to every Grand Prix in the world and make top eight. I’d write an article entitled”Searching for Alex Shvartsman”… But I don’t think I could find him.

I am now convinced that Alex Shvartsman must be one of the best players on Earth. All he does is travel to every Grand Prix in the world and make top eight. Over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. Does he ever just go 0-2 drop? Ever? And then he goes and wins one? Jeez, his rating should be like 2760 or something.

I would write an article entitled”Searching for Alex Shvartsman“… But I don’t think I could find him, since he travels so much.

Are the new cards ever going to be legal? I’ve been putzing around with Ichorid for what seems like months now, and I’d really like to throw his ass into the fray.

4x Duress

3x Chainer’s Edict

4x Crypt Keeper

4x Nantuko Shade

4x Phyrexian Rager

3x Gravedigger

3x Mutilate

4x Ichorid

3x Corrupt

1x Nightmare

2x Laquatus’s Champion

22x Swamp

3x Cabal Coffers

Like you didn’t think Nightmare was about the best creature this side of Force of Nature at one time, and you should know by now that you can’t fight the Seether, or even Crypt Keeper. I think it has something to do with the”ee.” Go ahead, laugh. I’ll wait.

Ah, but it’s at least two weeks before I can run this into Mad Mongrel (hey, I came up with the name first) and U/W CounterHero (hey, I came up with the name first) or W/R Oblite-Hero (hey, I came up with the name first), thus, Icky will just have to be patient. And he is.

Hey, hey, don’t get me wrong now – I still love Millikin, but damn, that deck is getting just a little too familiar for my tastes. Thus, a newbie deck popped up in here for Dead Ass Type 2 at Friday Night Magic.

I’ve often heard that good players play control, while bad players turn stuff sideways. While I can’t believe that is always the case, it does appear that the top tables are usually sporting more Islands than some place that has a lot of islands.


Beater: Yeah, well Steve-O got second at the Masters with G/R.

Controller: That’s because he isn’t any good anymore. And what was it that won again?

Good point. Still, fat men with large numbers in the corner are fairly tight, except for Tom Arnold, who is either impossibly tight or a total ass.

I tried a number of decks, but they usually gravitated towards beats. I’d start with 4x Jonny Magic and a fistful of permission, but then I’d slowly fit in 4x Rage, which means you have to consider Flametongue Kavu, which means that Pyre Zombie might be a good fit, which means Duress is going in, which means that Terminate should too, which means that… Holy crap, I just rebuilt the Millikin deck.


White was about as far away from Millikin as I could possibly get, but White Weenie, while almost sucking me in for States, just doesn’t have enough gas in the tank. Yet.

Green seemed like it built itself, either with red and Rage, Flametongue, and perhaps Skizzik, or black with Monger, Duress and Deed. Nothing against either of those decks, but I’m as tired of seeing and playing against those as I am of a turn two Millikin.

But Millikin is still sexy. I just… need… my… space.

I toyed around with a few G/W/B Arena/Lifegain/Angel decks in IBC, and they were some freakin’ fun as I recall. But there’s that damned”must use Duress” train that I didn’t want to hop onto because that would lead me unto Terminate unto Rage unto FTK… You get the idea.

Thusly, Blue/White control was the ticket. Fun? Well, it can be. Challenging? Hells yes. And a challenge sounds like a decent deal at this point in time – plus, it’s FNM and it’s supposed to be all about experimentation and random fun-type things.

I knew I wanted to use all that sexy but dirty life gain that is actually pretty damned good, a bunch of counters, and the kickers: Cognivore and Iridescent Angel.

I soon realized that Cognivore is great times, usually coming out as an 18/18 or so, but he is amazingly easy to get rid of. With most decks packing cheap ass removal or bounce, spending eight mana to watch a man die didn’t sound like a blast. In addition, you really need about fifteen or sixteen mana to even think about casting him against another control deck. I’m really not that patient. And by the time you can cast Cognivore with reasonable backup, you could’ve milled the opponent’s library, sideboard and most of his trade binder onto the floor.

Who cares? The format will be dead and buried in a couple of weeks! Yep, you’re right.

Here’s the dealio:

4x Syncopate

4x Counterspell

4x Life Burst

3x Millstone

4x Absorb

4x Fact or Fiction

4x Reviving Vapors

4x Wrath of God

2x Rout

2x Iridescent Angel

1x Ancestral Tribute

11x Island

6x Plains

4x Adarkar Wastes

4x Coastal Tower

SB: 4x Sacred Ground

SB: 3x Gainsay

SB: 3x Voice of All

SB: 3x Aegis of Honor

SB: 2x Ray of Distortion

Yeah, I know it looks a lot like the deck that kid on Brainburst posted, but it’s not like I couldn’t have come up with the idea myself – it practically builds itself, and that’s exactly what it did. A day after I built the deck, I read that article and realized that Ancestral Tribute is disgusting. Also, his idea of using Wrath and Rout in order to get around Meddling Mage made enough sense for me to follow suit. So there: props to dude and a couple of his sexy ideas. All right, three. Ray of Distortion over Disenchant.

How the deck works (for the slower peeps in the crowd or just lovers of the obvious): gain Congregate-like amounts of life and Mill them to oblivion or cast Super Fattie Angel. Sounds simple, right? Well, it kinda is – against decks without counters, that is. Ah, there’s the rub. And the challenge.

Long story short: I suck at control. Seriously, who taps out on turn four for Fact or Fiction against an opponent who has four mana open, one of which produces red?

Tip number 1 when playing control: watch out for Boil.

In round 1, I played James”No relation to Mickey” Gilley, with ‘Tog, and while I managed to get to thirty life in both games, it wasn’t quite enough.

In round 2, against Orlando Deperez, with Pissed Off Kavu, I jumped up to 63 life and cast Iridescent Angel. He did twenty to me in one attack, which brought me down to – heh – twenty-five. This deck rules against decks without counters. He scooped in game two with my Angel on the board and him empty handed.

Round three saw Nick, with serious R/G beats, do his funny Boil thingy. Deejer commented in between games that Nick’s Price of Glory from the side wouldn’t be too good against Sacred Ground, and I think Nick took them out and sided in Boils instead. Thanks, Deejer.

1-2 ain’t bad. Okay, it kinda is.

Man, I think I need… Something? And badly at that.

I went home, swapped out the Millstones (because they really annoy me – that’s as wussie a way to win as Donating an Illusions… Almost) for Memory Lapse, added a Fat Moti and Cognivore, and headed to the Saturday Cash Tourney awash in hope and dreams. Actually, I was awash in nothing; are the new cards ever going to be legal?

All right, tough guys – meet my lifegain and even more counters.

Round 1 was against The Ben Klar, with a friggin’ ‘Tog deck. Kinda annoying. Does Ben counter lifegain? That’s a good question, and one he really didn’t know how to answer. I ended game one at 104 life, laughed my ass off as he dropped a sided in Cognivore in game two, which was about a 45/45 or so, and there was no time to finish game three, but I did have a lot of life. So there.

Draw with ‘Tog? I’ll take it.

Mitch, with G/B, spanked the crap out of me and my 11 lands/3 spells game one. But I did get to Tribute for four. Tribute for four. Makes Stream of Life look damn sexy in comparison, doesn’t it?

The second game was a little better – I ended up at 105 life and friggin’ decked myself. Christ, I suck.

Chris Deroche, with a borrowed R/G, got seriously trounced by Angel in the first game. In all fairness, he is the worst at drawing non-pain lands. He did eight to himself, and my girl did the rest.

Game two saw the Angel return, do her thing in five turns, and with Tribute in hand and forty cards in the yard just in case. Drawing a Wrath on turn 4 is like really good against creature decks.

Charlie Widdis brought his Stompy to the table, beat me on turn 5 in the first game, saw me hit 94 life in game two – with two Angels on the board no less, and in game three, learned the hard way that you don’t cast three Blurred Mongoose and dump your hand against a guy with Wrath and Rout. Sexy Angel came to town, and even when Charlie served with a Kavu Chameleon and Muscle Bursted it three times, I still had enough life to, well, stay well above zero.

This was a thirty-dollar or so for first place cash tourney, and there was talk of Intentional Draws.

Also, a JSS was simultaneously being held; twenty-odd young children, five rounds. Yes, there were Intentional Draws into the top eight.

“Teach your children well.”

-Simon & Garfunkel, or Crosby, Stills, Nash and/or Young, or maybe Seals & Crofts, some song from the seventies

Dear twelve-year-old son,

Intentional draws build character.


Dad of twelve-year-old son

Parents suck. Go ahead and let your kid ID, and then in the summer you can sue everyone associated with Little League Baseball because your son isn’t the starting pitcher. When you’re bailing your kid out of jail on drug or vandalism charges in a couple years, have a blast asking yourself,”Where did we go wrong?”

Yes, I just likened intentional draws to drug abuse and random vandalism.


“fight me all of you.”

-ptr, with a very apropos phrase

Yeah, I’m riled, although I guess I shouldn’t be.

“Don’t you ‘don’t get riled, sugar’ me.”

-Aretha Franklin, The Blues Brothers

Travis Beadnell, with U/W weenies and stuff, dropped a turn two Mage naming Wrath. As they might say on The CPA:

He dropped turn two Mage naming Wrath I said”Oh h***.”

Game two, he drops Mage (naming Wrath of Funny), Galina’s Knight, another Knight and Standstill. Supaheh. He ended up at 23 life when the game was over. Friggin’ life gain is ass.

Okay, 2-2-1, added to Friday’s 1-2 = was I really that bored with the Millikin deck?

However, 4x Reborn Hero might take a deck like this into respectability. Maybe.

Imagine this: 4 JSS kids from Taxeshussets came to Crossroads and all of them made top four. Submitted for your approval: Zero Crossroads kids in the top four. Alex made top eight, and Pop ended up twelfth or so – bad times for Da’ Xroads childrens.

“What are those damn freak peckerheads playing?”

-Random audience guy, The Blues Brothers

Apparently, something that just wasn’t good enough.

“Peckerheads?” That’s worth so much more than a”heh.”

If you’ve never seen JSS kids play, here’s a brief synopsis of what to expect:

A friggin’ heart attack.

Pop was doing coverage for Dr. C’s site, Break The Format, writing as fast as he could and was at least five turns behind. Holy hell, just watching them increased my heart rate fifteen points; where’s a Quaalude when you need one?

How to cure Attention Deficit Disorder (let’s pretend that it’s a real disease for a sec, k?): play Magic at the JSS level.

I tease the A.D.D crowd because, well, I don’t know why. But the fact that a bunch of 10-year olds are popping pills to help them through their”rigorous” day of Junior High and Gameboy and homework seems like it doesn’t bode well for the future of planet Earth.

Feel free to send me bunches of mail”proving” to me that A.D.D really exists. Show me studies upon studies upon clinical bad boys, but I’ll say this:

It wasn’t too long ago that the medical community treated headaches by drilling a freakin’ hole in peep’s skulls. And bloodletting was all the rage. So there.

To celebrate going 2-2-1 with a non-Millikin deck, I promptly joined a draft and went 0-3. What the? Who loses 27 points in a freakin’ 16K draft? And just when I was set to make a run at an 1800 Limited rating. I haven’t 0-3’d a freakin’ draft since the days of C to the M to the U.

My deck contained the following:

Jonny Magic

2x Shelter

2x Embolden

Hallowed Healer

2x Carrion Wurm

2x Hypochondria



Cephalid Looter

Aven Windreader

Dirty Wererat


And a whole bunch of good times in the supporting cast, and I went 0-3. 0-friggin-3. Ever have one of those days when you just lose the first round to a Caustic Tar? And get decked in the second because your opponent has a Nomad freakin’ tapper and Pro: creature guy that you just can’t deal with, and the third to an end of turn double-Blazing Salvo, followed by a double Firebolt and Soul Scourge?

Sometimes I think Magic is nothing but a conspiracy to keep a brother down.

Peeps: Are you staying in for the fourth round?

Me: No, I’m going home to have sex and make it hurt.

Had the sex, but unfortunately, I couldn’t make it hurt. Told you I sucked at sex.

By the way, the draft was an eleven-player event. In the three drafts I’ve been in with more than eight guys, I’ve fallen on my ass every time. After the last one, I told myself that I wouldn’t draft with more than seven opponents because for some reason I seem to suck something fierce. I guess I’m looking for someone to validate what I believe to be true:

With more than eight players, the group dynamic shifts radically.

I don’t know why or how, but I have a sneaking suspicion that with each added player above eight, the rules change. And I don’t know how and haven’t yet been able to figure it out.

Perhaps this is me trying to make an excuse. Or perhaps a large draft requires adjustments. If anyone else has noticed that drafts seem”weird” when there are more than eight guys, please drop me a line, because, dammit, something is up with that. Errata may need to be dropped up in here.

Lightning Bolt



Lightning Bolt deals 3 damage to target creature or player.

-Pretty good.




Incinerate deals 3 damage to target creature or player. A creature dealt damage this way can’t be regenerated this turn.

-Not as good as Lightning Bolt.




Shock deals 2 damage to target creature or player.

-Not as good as Lighting Bolt or Incinerate.

Scorching Lava



Kicker R

Scorching Lava deals 2 damage to target creature or player.

If you paid the kicker cost, that creature can’t be regenerated this turn and if it would be put into a graveyard this turn, remove it from the game instead.

-Not as good as Lightning Bolt, Incinerate or Shock.




Firebolt deals 2 damage to target creature or player.

Flashback – 4R

-Not as good as Lightning Bolt, Incinerate, Shock or Scorching Lava.

Sonic Seizure



As an additional cost to play Sonic Seizure, discard a card at random from your hand.

Sonic Seizure deals 3 damage to target creature or player.

-Not as good as Lightning Bolt.

Fiery Temper



Fiery Temper deals 3 damage to target creature or player.

Madness R

-Not as good as Lightning Bolt.

I feel like a combination of Ben Bleiweiss and everyone who ever reviewed a new set.

I think that burn players might be happy with this:

Bitch, I’mma Kill You



Bitch, I’mma Kill You can’t be countered by spells or abilities.

Bitch, I’mma Kill You deals 20 damage to target creature or player and the damage can’t be prevented.

If a spell or ability an opponent controls causes you to discard Bitch, I’mma Kill You from your hand, target opponent loses 20 life and you return Bitch, I’mma Kill You to your hand.

Point: Lightning Bolt was a good card. Now shut the hell up because it will never be reprinted.

Next week: Comparing every blue card drawing spell to Ancestral Recall!

A sneak peek:




Draw three cards, then put two cards from your hand on top of your library in any order.

-It’s no Ancestral Recall!

The week after that: Comparing every white life gain/prevention spell to Healing Salve!

Orim’s Touch



Kicker 1

Prevent the next 2 damage that would be dealt to target creature or player this turn.

If you paid the kicker cost, prevent the next 4 damage that would be dealt to that creature or player this turn instead.

-It’s no Healing Salve!

The week after that: Comparing every one-drop elf to Llanowar Elves!

Fyndhorn Elves


Creature – Elf

T: Add G to your mana pool.


-It’s no Llanowar Elves! Wait – yes it is!

About a year ago, Aaron Forsythe hit upon the best idea ever. He was going to review every card ever printed in Magic. No, I mean every card. He showed me a draft of the first card, Abandon Hope, that had five or six paragraphs of”review and analysis.”

Do you have any idea just how ridiculously funny that is – 5000 plus cards reviewed over a period of… well, however long it took. You can’t fathom the brilliance of that idea; really you can’t. But I guess being on the Pro Tour and then working for Wizards is more important than reviewing every card ever printed. Talk about your mixed-up priorities.

Crypt Keeper


Creature – Zombie

Sacrifice Crypt Keeper: Remove target card in a graveyard from the game.


Sexy. Cremate wishes it was this much of a hottie. It’s a given that you’re going to use 4x Nantuko Shade in a mono or nearly mono black deck, but why isn’t Crypt Keeper also an automatic 4x – a 2/1 for 1B that’s pretty much untargetable seems like good times to me? Because you’re embarrassed, that’s why. Actually, it’s because no pros have used it. But they will. Or at least should. And then you can jump on board, too!

“Go and do likewise, gents.”

-Alec Baldwin, Glengarry Glen Ross

Ever run out of things to say? Yeah, me too.

John Friggin’ Rizzo