Y’all don’t know what it’s like, being male, middle class, and white.
Oh wait – yeah, you do.
Elliot Beck: How do you remember all the game details for your report?
Johnny Minty Fresh: I don’t. I fill in the blanks as best I can.
Elliot Ness: You mean you make it up?
Mints Heard Round The World: Well, let’s just say that I often have to embellish.
Elliot pestered me (or more like grilled a brother) for what seemed like weeks in an effort to cull some”wisdom” from yours truly. See, it turns out that Masta E went to the Grudge Match when he was in Huevo York (yes, I’m aware that means”egg”) and was looking for some pointers to aid in his reporting of the tale of two cities, which turned out to be a very fine maiden voyage.
Now, lemme get clear that I don’t just invent stuff out of thin air when I write a report… But oftentimes a creative interpretation of what transpired is in order. Hey, chief, you gonna tell me that you remember virtually every play of every game for eight rounds? While taking notes right after the match is a wise move, that’s not always possible since some matches do take full advantage of the allotted time. And I’m lucky – I have pics to at least remember my opponent, which makes it much easier to at least remember what they played (if not how the match went).
I can’t imagine how you guys without cameras do it. Or why you don’t have cameras in the first place.
There are the haves and there are have-nots. And it’s not about money…it’s all about cameras.
Mintbox begins to write his report…
Okay, I remember this guy… He dropped an early Shivan Zombie on me in one of the games that ended up dealing fourteen to me… I guess it was game one… Wait, lemme check my score sheet… Hey, my life goes down in two point increments all the way to six in both games… Did he have the Zombie twice?… Well, maybe he did… Oh, wait, he also had that other 2/2 dork in one of the games… But how did he kill me in game three?… Must’ve been a big Ghitu Fire aimed at my dome… See, I went from six to dead and I know that I had a couple of dudes out in at least two of those games…
See, remembering eight rounds of”this happened then this happened” is difficult, so just go with what you know happened, and fill in the blanks with stuff that you’re pretty sure happened. But when something cool or neato happens, make sure you get that right, k? Does anyone think that I’m an unscrupulous jag-off right now?
Incidentally, I have seen and heard minor errors in Sideboard mach coverage – and they’re right friggin’ there typing exactly what they see! So if you always thought about writing a report but figure there’s no way you can remember all the details, don’t sweat it.
When in doubt, remember that no one really cares about the minor details. Probably.
Why bring this up? Well, I noticed on the list of people booted by the DCI that many of the dudes were excommunicated for filing false tournament reports. For a moment at least, I wondered exactly what that entailed – and would I have to sweat the anal-retentive opponent with a vendetta?
Turns out that”false tournament reports” are more along the lines of what Kenny Crawford was talking about in his article on Mindripper. A narrow escape. I think.
Incidentally, here’s the unexpurgated text from my article last week that The Ferrett deemed worthy of his red pen:
Okay, let’s try this again, but this time without the audible. The last IBC PTQ I (wow, seven capitalized letters in a row, and I ain’t even commenced to shouting…yet) attended featured me making the last-minute change from U/B/R to R/G beats, mostly out of sheer confusion and frustration… But this time I’ve got my sights set on penetrating my opponents at end of turn until I feel like penetrating them even harder during my turn. Of course, the foreplay will be the pregame”getting’ to know ya,” and the post-coitus cuddling will be forever immortalized on film – or disk, as the case may be.
While R/G beats should be a friggin’ monster in a field chock full o’control, it doesn’t take a genius to figure that Blurred Mongoose is 100% pure unadulterated ass when facing Spectral Lynx. Actually, he’s quite on the ass tip against any friggin’ creature short of Ornithopter. And while Kavu Chameleon will make it into play, he rarely sticks around long enough to do that fancy pants color change thing that none of us are really impressed by anyway. Well, except for Nick Eisel.
Of course, there’s the”I have a bunch of Penumbras, and when I get to eight mana, you best look out” version of Da’ Beatz, and it does seem to be on the verge of being, well, decent actually, but c’mon chief, going 3-5 with a friggin’ bye does not exactly lead a brother to believe that R/G is the answer to any of the multitude of problems that I am expected to deal with on an hourly basis. So I won’t. Because I’m a believer. And no, not that annoying Smashmouth version of the Monkees olden-school jam either.
HOW CAN ANYONE LIKE DAVE MATTHEWS?
Oh, and anime blows, too. Didn’t that go away with the demise of Speed Racer?
Oh, hi. Nice of you to join me.
Added bonus #1 of 1: How to become a critic.
1) Choose an endeavor.
2) Fail miserably in said endeavor.
Congratulations! You are now qualified to be a critic! (Or an editor – The Ferrett)
Originally, I was none too excited at the prospect of playing eight rounds of”Undermine your Bolt,” but lately I’ve had a change of heart – it doesn’t really seem that annoying anymore. At least it can’t be as annoying as going 3-5.
However, where once I figured that eight counterspells was a given for U/B/R, I now am leaning toward the idea that eight just isn’t enough, regardless of what Dick Van Patten, or even Adam Ric, think. (I can’t believe that I thought Betty Buckley was hot.) The basic idea of U/B/R is to kill things – a lot of things – and to make it hurt in the process. Using anything more than eight counters seems to counteract this strategy, and if one really wanted to use a deck filled to the brim with No! then why not play GoMar?
Such a dilemma.
After many arduous hours of comparing and contrasting every card slot, this is what a brother came up with:
NAME: Untitled Deck, and we like it that way
4x Prophetic Bolt
4x Urza’s Rage
4x Fire / Ice
4x Nightscape Familiar
4x Fact or Fiction
4x Ghitu Fire
2x Yawgmoth’s Agenda
4x Urborg Volcano
2x Shivan Reef
4x Evasive Action
4x Plague Spitter
3x Rushing River
Yes, that’s twenty-six lands. And no, I haven’t tested it properly, so don’t say”told ya so” when I get bitch-slapped for eight rounds.
My, that seems like a lot of burn, ain’t it? Well, lately there’s been much talk of redundancy in deckbuilding, and while this deck is not all fours with a straggler or two – okay, it kinda is, and it certainly should never be wanting for a spell that takes it to the dome at any given moment.
For the rest of my life I will stand by my conviction that not using Nightscape Familiar in this type of deck is an insane error in judgment. I still can’t convince Jeremy”and he hit me with a surprise left” Darling and Nick”my jaw left hurting” Eisel that the dude is God on a stick (both of who do not use said fresh dude in their versions of this deck), but I can only try to enlighten one person at a time. Hey, I’ll give the control deck’s Repulse/Exclude a target, because the fun of catching an opponent with dead cards is nothing compared to the sex-type things that my boy brings to the party.
Lemme make my case for him one more time.
What he brings to the table:
1) Mana acceleration. But he’s better than an elf, chief – at least the IBC elves. Fact or Fiction is incredible at four mana. At three it’s friggin’ ridiculous, and at two, well, lemme just say that there are people on death row who haven’t committed such an atrocious crime.
2) Oh, he regenerates. While Breath wif da’ kicka is a nice way to clear the board against R/G, how much damage will you have taken by the time you cast it? A friggin’ Mongoose (or Titan or Familiar or even a friggin’ Nomadic Elf) on turn two will have done four to your dome if you went second and two if you went first, and it’s very likely that he was beating on you in tandem with some other mini-fattie (or another Mongoose), and perhaps even a Raging Kavu. So go ahead, cast it wif da’ kicka – oh, that puts you at nine? On turn four? Wouldn’t you rather have a Reese’s?
And don’t even mention that he will survive the Deed that the W/B control dude thinks is good times for him and his Lynx.
3) He serves, while the counter or burn spell that you replaced him with gets used once and tossed into the bin, never to be seen or heard from again (at least until Agenda shows up). While one point at a time doesn’t sound like much, and he rarely serves anyway, a point here and there, while at the same time being able to deal with creatures that you won’t have to waste burn on, can add up to just enough.
He rules, damnit, enough so that I am contemplating where I’m going to put my Familiar tattoo. If I can just get the rights from Wizards, I’ll be off and running.
You’ve all seen the disclaimer that virtually anyone that publishes Magic-related material has to put front and center:
” [this product] is not affiliated with or sponsored by Wizards of the Coast, Inc.”
Well, if I ever get jiggy with a Magic book, magazine, website, or other random idea, I’ll be sure to put”but it should be” right under the disclaimer. Technology proper, homie.
As for the rest of the deck, it’s fairly straightforward, and most of the card choices are self-explanatory, save for the fact that there is no bounce whatsoever. I am aware that it is perhaps unwise to play with no maindeck bounce – but in going naked, the redundancy is so friggin’ redundant that it’s borderline redundant, which is redundant times for redundancy is redundant times for redundancy. And that’s what life is all about: He who dies with the most redundancy wins.
Now, a blast from the past…
“PLAY U/B IN IBC.”
-Me, in like January, yo
And the kicker…
“Will adding a third color make the other archetypes better? Sure will, slappy. But not good enough to carry U/B’s jockstrap.”
And I wrote all of that before Planeshift was even friggin’ released. I am amazing. But I’m too sexy for my cat, which I don’t even own.
Oh, um, GoMar, and it’s little bastard offshoot – NoMar, which is Tier One in anyone’s book, uses U/B and W. And within weeks, expect the amazing U/G decks (also Tier One to many) to be adding B. And those pesky W/B/g control decks that are Tier One Point Five? Expect the green to be ditched for U. Then it will be Tier One. You are welcome. Again. Still, I could be wrong. But I doubt it. A lot.
The best decks in IBC will contain U/B! There, I’m on record. Again. But I’m probably wrong, although I did twist my months-old words to make it appear that I was at least partially correct, and that’s what life is all about: He who dies with the most successfully twisted words wins.
Now, back to the future…
Fire/Ice is worth the full four slots. So shut the hell up about it! Yes, I do think it’s more flexible than Ghitu Fire, and in this environment is much more likely to take out two problems, and at end of turn, and on turn two. Ghitu Fire is a fattie burn spell, but Fire/Ice is a burn spell with style – the style part being its Port effect to tap that blue source so you can get off a sexy spell (Oooh! Nightscape Familiar!), its”LOL!, Pheldy, consider yourself fogged!” ability, and last but not least, its”Well, I don’t really foresee having any huge impact on the game, so I’ll just up and replace myself” cycling ability. But you already knew that it was a strong as hell card. Now you know it twice. And who the hell is going to counter Fire?
I thought I was Buddha when I”discovered” that Plague Spitter is, like, really friggin’ good against G/R beats. Imagine my surprise when I found out that others knew this piece of secret technology. Alas, at least it proves that my sideboard ideas aren’t total ass, perhaps only a cheek and a half.
Eight counters in the board = almost parity with GoMar, and plenty of help in preventing that turn three Vindicate Your Land While My Prohibit Laughs At Me that we’ve grown to love so much. But I still think Prohibit is a better maindeck counter than Evasive Action. Barely. Rushing River should be main, but I’m just being stupid as always. I really glad that people haven’t yet figured out just how friggin’ amazing Orim’s Chant is before you cast Desolation Angel wif da’ kicka.
So that’s the deck. Perhaps it’s not a very good metagame choice, but it is overflowing with the power cards of the block, and with counters to boot, which means that I can’t see any matchups where I sit down and immediately start to dream of my sideboard, which sucks anyway. R/G, on the other hand, might as well just concede to anything with Spectral Lynx, and has to pray to draw multiple Tranquility with Tranquility backup to beat Domain – oh, and it kinda doesn’t like 2/6 walls either.
I’ve got my mind set on you.
Johnny Mintwhore with additional love from George Harrison
But a little maindeck bounce probably wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Hold on! Whoa, yep, I just had an idea. How about putting Nightscape Familiar in the side?
Check out this reasoning: Virtually all control decks have some combination of Exclude/Repulse maindeck, and some run four of each, hence, up to eight dead cards for my opponent game one.
Oh, and since they try to kill birds with stones and include those guys in their battery of card drawing spells, it can get even better.
And the kicker is that they will likely side out most if not all Repulse/Exclude for game two, having not seen any valid targets (except for maybe their own guys). Then, bringing in Ol’ Nighty and/or Plague Spitter becomes tech, since they will have to use”real” counters, and not those cheapie cantrips to deal with said brought in dudes.
Additional kicker then becomes the ability to not use four Urborg Volcano, and instead switch it up to include a couple more Mountains, which then turns Evasive Action into a veritable maindeck Mana Leak.
Food for thought? Or too much thought and not enough food? But Nighty really is godly, damnit.
What’s a girl to do? Ah, never mind.
After I packed my gear into my little black backpack back and wondered aloud just how in the hell I was going to feel after being awake for 42-46 consecutive hours, I checked the Sideboard for the Grand Prix coverage. Curious was I to see just how well/average/poorly the 3.33 teams from CMU were doing. Oh, and I must confess a dirty need to try to figure out what some of the team names meant – inside joke or not, I will try my damnedest to break their codes of”only us three really know what it means.”
Noticing that all 3.33 CMU teams were 3-1 was neato, but what was better than Rage wif da’ kicka was the team name Scott Teamann, Chas Tressler, and Mike Magby decided upon:
Team John F. Rizzo
Nate Heiss, Ron Kotwica, and Mike Patnik went for shock value with their amazing”Where the hell did that name come from?” idea to use”The O-men.” Well, I guess there’s a few people on Earth that are not aware that Team CMU plays at The O. Not that they could’ve called themselves”Team John F. Rizzo 2″ or anything.
There were 164 teams present, and 163 chose to not honor me by naming their team after me.
Well, that’s pretty ass, ain’t it?
Number of teams named after me: 1
Number of teams named after Josh Bennett: 1
Curses! I can’t ever get out of his shadow! And that’s what life is all about: He who dies out of the shadow of Josh Bennett wins.
And now, for your listening pleasure, I will demonstrate just how random I am by unveiling what some of those obscure sounding team names mean…
5280 – This is an obvious reference to a) Beverly Hills 90210, b) the Van Halen album”OU812,” and c) Tommy Tutone’s”867-5309,” and it borders on plagiarism as well.
Bill Bixby’s Bill Bixby – Nothing more than a clever reference to the fact that we wouldn’t like them when they’re angry, and possibly one of the guys is named Eddie and enjoys walks on the beach with his father.
Chico’s Bail Bonds – Ah, you think this is just a nutty reference to The Bad News Bears, but it’s much more than that. Okay, it isn’t.
Crouching Tiger – Wow, what a clever name. The endless hours of trying to come up with an original and witty team name certainly paid off here.
I Am Jack’s Team – I’ve heard that the Right Reverend Toby Wachter and Shante McKeown enjoy watching Fight Club, but I think that’s nothing more than well-placed propaganda. Or maybe the printer wanted too much dinero to embroider Sarah McLachlan lyrics on their hats.
Magic – A clever reference to that Anthony Perkins (or was it Hopkins) flick that involved one crazy sumbitch, a talking marionette, and really bad reviews.
Mom Has The Kids…Again – Actually, they left the kids in the lobby to fend for themselves, just like any responsible parent would.
Team 0-3 Lunch – I hope these guys do so well that they don’t have time to eat. Then next year they can call themselves”Christ Almighty, I’m Friggin’ Hungry!”
Team AA – Sponsored by Duracell, and AA is the official battery size of Grand Prix – Columbus.
I need my ass kicked.
Man, Columbus is a deceptively long drive.
One final look at the deck, with a few, um,”tweaks” that I’m still not sure about, but I just may be able to fake it.
//NAME: Untitled Deck, and we still like it that way
4x Prophetic Bolt
4x Urza’s Rage
4x Fire / Ice
3x Ghitu Fire
4x Nightscape Familiar
4x Fact or Fiction
3x Evasive Action
2x Yawgmoth’s Agenda
2x Urborg Volcano
3x Shivan Reef
4x Plague Spitter
4x Rushing River
I think I may have outsmarted myself… But when don’t I? Heck, there’s always the W/B/G Control that I brought just in case Scotty T and Team John F. Rizzo (aw) don’t make Day Two, and audibles are sooooo sexy – especially when the quarterback takes charge and barks orders at the receivers. Grrr.
Fifth Grade passing notes in Study Hall flashback…
Hi Johnny you stud!
I’m in fifth period study hall and it’s sooooooooo boring! And Mike Smith is looking at me! Grrr! He’s sooooooo gross! Anyway, gotta go!
And now we know where”LOL!” originated.
There were plenty of Magic nerds in attendance, it being a Grand Prix and all, and I offer a few observations on some players in an attempt to, well, attempt something.
Anthony Alongi name is pronounced”An thun E A Long GEE,” as in”Gee, Wally, thanks!” I know this because I spied said Friday Guy Without A Tie ambling towards me, and I figured that if I played it cool as all hell he would say,”Hey, bitch, I’m Anthony Alongi and I demand tribute!” And then I would finally know how to pronounce his name.
He was esta en su casa with his team of Men With Kids, But Not Today, For Mom Has Them: Robert (and he actually introduced him as”Robert,” not”Bob,” so my chance of making the”But you spell your name backwards, right?” joke never really had a chance to materialize), and Todd”When I happen upon a random canine, I like to walk over and” Petit.
It’s weird when you finally meet someone with who you’ve traded a few emails with and admired from afar (since casual Magic is just for”dirty” people LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL)…because what the hell do you say?”Hey, man, what’s up?” is fine immediately following the handshake, but what then? Thankfully, A to the A, being a bodyguard for Jesse”the body to be guarded” Ventura has afforded him many a chance to skip right past the”Okay, we’ve met, now what do we do?” Taster’s Choice moment.
Cool, calm, and collected, but not a stuck-up putz would describe Alongi, which is quite odd considering that I had long thought him to be some sort of Evil Mediterranean Captain of Industry. Oh, and he said a bad word too! Yeah, the baddest one! But I kept my cool and calmly reminded him that I would not tolerate any goddamned friggin’ cursing you son of a bitch!
Zvi, Kai, Wise, and a bunch of other psycho players cornered Double A batteries into a draft.
Oh, my, it’s David vs. Goliath all over again, but this time, David gets to write about it. So, I’ll let him convey his”babe in the woods’ story to all y’all. But I don’t think it was pretty.
Kenny Crawford, he of”I wrote the most amazing tale of cheating gone awry ever” fame, bumped into me and challenged me to a game of Five. After the getting to know ya’ biz, I pulled out the Foily Five, filled to the brim with, you guessed it – foils. And that’s what life is all about: He who dies with the most foils wins.
(pause to allow Deranged Dad to climax)
And how fun was it to berate Kenny for ruining Five when he played a first-turn Birds of Paradise and Mox Diamond? Loads. And when he later laid a Gaea’s Cradle and Blastoderm, I further accused him of additional raping and pillaging.
I managed to squeak out a victory in one game by using Vampiric Tutor (hey, write a crappy match report for the Sideboard and you can get one too!) to find…
Well, I wasn’t sure what to find, so I handed sections of the deck to a few guys who were watching and said”someone find me a card that lets me win right friggin’ now!” Treva was plucked out for consideration, as was Pheldy, but oddly, no one chose Lay of the Land as the”I win” card to be triumphantly cast. A flying Hippo, with Yavimaya Barbarian and Ceta Sanctuary proved to be the juggernaut that would ruin Kenny’s day. And how.
Sean McKeown and The Rightest Reverend Toby Wachter were also watching, and I asked both if they would care to sign a foil here and there. Now, asking Sean to”Go ahead and sign a few cards, chief” is akin to telling your kids to open their Christmas presents. I adjourned to go celebrate my victory. Upon returning, I noticed Sean with a stack of cards, his own silver, fine-point Sharpie, and brutal determination on his face.
“If I only sign one you’ll never see it,” was his rationale, and he was correct. In future Foily Five crackings, a little bit of McKeown serendipity will just ooze up in here when I spy a card that had previously eluded me. So, when you see me forlornly gazing at my hand full of cards, it’s not because I’m trying to figure out what I have, rather, it’s likely I’ll be trying to read”Lips pressed upon the glass…”
When I noticed that it was indeed hot in the locale, I went to the head, splashed a little water here and there, and removed my sweatshirt in favor of the much more comfortable T-shirt that lied beneath. At the exact moment of transference, Toby walked in and caught a glimpse of the whitest skin that he has likely ever seen. I’m not sure, but I think he immediately went to the nearest church and began to pray for my poor albino soul:
Dear Lord, please give that poor Rizzo fellow some pigment. For he is paste personified. Amen.
Lemme tell you about The Joker. You may know him from his writings on 7Towers, or any number of other”real” sites that he also contributes to, but to know The Joker is to well, know The Joker. For much of the tourney he was kicking ass and taking names with Goblin Legionnaire and Shivan Zombie, and for the rest he was giving me his take on why he doesn’t like Destiny’s Child.
Before he went too far, I had to intervene.
“Destiny’s Child gives me excitement,” lovingly (but shyly) offered I, to which he retorted”I’d buy Playboy if Beyonce posed.” For a moment, I almost went off on how Playboy is too, um,”classy” and doesn’t kick the hardcore pornography, but decided against it. Why ruin the moment?
Thus, our secret world of guilty pleasures was out in the open. We embraced and began to weep – a weep of men with a bond so strong that nothing could break it. It was an embrace of Cornelius and Bob magnitude.
Moment of silence.
Or maybe I exaggerate.
I think Jason Sizemore learned his lesson:
When you have a Top Eight performance with your own deck, then post it and explain why it works in an article, you are doomed to a life of sub-optimal results. I noticed that Jason was in the middling tables for much of the tourney, and the curse of Bad Players Making Good Decks Then Posting Them continues. Ah, the days of making Top Eight with my Friggin’ Green, only to be crushed to death in three mirror matches the next week rings clear in my dizome.
I spent a few minutes examining Famous Amos’s W/B control deck, and wondered aloud as to why Orim’s Chant was not contained within. There are two tenets that I hold true in IBC:
1) Orim’s Chant is friggin’ amazing in any deck that has Desolation Angel, Overgrown Estates, and Death Grasp.
2) Nightscape Familiar is the best creature in IBC.
The rest of the CMU guys showed up after a round or three, having slept in after their”not quite what we expected” performances from the Grand Prix, and fat was chewed upon. I handed Aaron (write me to obtain his last name) an old-school relic designed to take the edge off the forgettable day before: a Volkswagen grill emblem attached to long-ass golden chains. Yes, exactly like the one Mike D of the Beasties used to sport. And he wore it with pride, although I was too shy to do so, for I am an innocent flower, unspoiled by the ways of this cruel and bitter world.
I figured it’d make the pics oh so much more enjoyable. We shall see next time.
The tales of the previous days battles were legendary:
T-bag, Chas, and Magby (Team John F. Rizzo – aw) regaled tales of slewn dragons and rescued princesses, capped off by Chas beating both Chris Benafal and Trevor Blackwell. While they were sitting pretty at 3-0, then 4-1, bad times ensued and it all went downhill from there. Facing Antarctica and Alphabetaunlimited.com could put a damper on anyone’s dreams.
Aaron, Andy J, and Cuneo (Team Car Acrobatic, but you already knew that) performed open-heart surgery and rescued kittens from trees, but nevertheless ended up on the wrong side of the Day Two when it was all said and done.
Those same limber fellows with very good balance also spent more than a few minutes money drafting, and Aaron (again, mail me for his last name) was busy drafting away in one of the above said cash-and-carry events. He was a-busy a-stockpilin’ a-fatties and a-skinies and a-medium sizers when he took the time to show me his”Rizzo Draft Deck.” It contained three Plague Spores. However, David Price was not impressed when took a gander. And that’s what life is all about: He who dies with the most”I impressed David Price” ganders wins.
On occasion, I’ve been known to draft four Frenzied Tilling or five Shackles and expect it to work… But at least I’ve made enough of a dent to have an entire drafting strategy named after me.
The O-men (Nate Heiss, Ron Kotwica, and Mike Patnik) were sitting sexy in 17th or 18th place after round six, which if you read the event facts page, was the number of rounds to be played on Day One, with the top twenty advancing. I, anxiously waiting for the Sideboard to confirm that they had indeed made Day Two instead of sleeping, found it funny when they did update and gave results from round seven. Um? Our guys went down in a blaze of glory, but they did manage to travel back to the past and prevent a madman from doing something bad that would’ve altered the future a la”Back to the Future,” that Scott Pikula show, and”Voyagers,” featuring Jon Erik Hexum, he of probably the only guy to ever accidentally kill himself with a gun loaded with blanks on the friggin’ set of his TV show fame.
The .33 part of CMU teams at the Grand Prix contained Mike Turian of Potato Nation. They did not win, which is likely unexpectedly bad times for what’s her name.
Bad times for CMU guys, although Nate Heiss did end up 6-2 in the PTQ. Yeah, that Nate, he of everyone jump up in my ass and call me kooky fame.
Oh, and the guy I played in Five at GP: Detroit (the one who super flicked my dude, annoying me to no end), found me and asked”Was that me?”
“Ah, yes, but it was you indeed,” tenderly announced I, after which he immediately began to feel bad. So bad that I also felt bad. Although I did maintain my tough guy exterior and did not cry, we did share a moment of contrition with our Thelma and Louise hand holding as they drove off the cliff.
As I meandered to my table for round one, I had a singleton thought jumping through my melon:
Don’t end up 3-5.
Round 1: Ben Stark, U/G
Game 1: Oh, how the times are awful for Ben: Bolt you, Bolt you, Rage you, Bolt you, Rage you, and for kicks, Fire you into oblivion. The above sequence is brought to you by Nightscape Familiar, the Breakfast of Champions, who, in his infinite wisdom, decided to hold off that pesky Blurred Mongoose so I could leave my mana open to counter annoying 2/2 flyers and kicked Titans, all the while accelerating my fattie burn spells.
Game 2: Ben thinks that just because he’s going first he is somehow obligated to drop Mongoose, Mongoose, Skyfolk (and Gainsay my Evasive Action while he’s at it), Skyfolk (and Snake my Prohibit for fun), and kicked Titan. I disagree, and tell him to stop friggin’ casting stuff, but he figures that I have my own self-interests at heart, which of course I do. But I did manage to Rage him for three.
Game 3: Hi, I’m Temporal Adept, and I would like you to draw Sexyscape Familiars for the next three turns whilst I savagely beat upon you like the bitch that you are. But I did manage to Rage him for three.
0-1 (don’t end up 3-5, don’t end up 3-5, don’t end up 3-5)
(Ben’s a natural: he looked away from the camera and appeared disinterested. That’s tech, unlike my shameless hamming it up.)
Round 2: Mouth (a.k.a., Joseph Kambourakis, a.k.a. Mouth) W/B
I met Mouth in Detroit, and was surprised that he was as low-key and mellow as he was. I had read some of his stuff – he’s the guy that had the online feud with Wakefield a couple years back – and while he rarely puts on the kid gloves before he writes an article, he was pretty laid back for the second most hated man on The Net.
Of course, upon sitting down I disremembered that I had indeed met him, so I said”nice to meet you.” Duh.
“You got the memory of a  fly!”
-Ed Harris, Glengarry Glen Ross
Game 1: An early Spectral Lynx swings for ten until I can get the right mana to play my sexy 1/1 whore with regen backup. However, Mouth thinks an additional Lynx would be good times. I believe that it wouldn’t, but I’d rather hold my mana to Bolt a brother end of turn. I find more burn, but only have a precious lone counter, and what do ya’ know – Mouth has enough mana to cast two spells in one turn. He casts Arena, which I think will help me race, and then he throws a huge ass Death Grasp at me and says”Here’s some Evasive Action bait for you.” Naturally, I feel that eight points of love would not be beneficial to me, so I use up my last friggin’ counter and only have Rage, Bolt, and land in hand. I’m very worried about Desolation Angel, and tried to keep a counter for that bitch, but Mouth dropped too many things that I had to counter to survive. And I friggin’ didn’t, anyway. What’s up with that?
Game 2: Mouth drops a turn two Lynx, and that bitch ends up doing fourteen to me, with Putrid Warrior contributing an additional four, but five fattie burn spells end up doing the necessary twenty to the dome of one Joseph Kambourakis.
Game 3: Where the hell did all these dudes come from! Lynx, Warrior, Voice of All x2, and another Lynx hit the board before I even realize that game three has started. While I had my Sexy Black Moat in play, and had plenty of mana, this was not a race I was going to win. In fact, even with insanely superior board position, Mouth kept casting as many spells as he could in order to run me out of counters and/or prevent me from messing with his dudes. Doing anything at the end of his turn was impossible, since he kept me busier than a one-armed man when he’s really friggin’ busy.
Vindicate your x and Death Grasp you for x and Verdict you and Verdict you again resulted in me stooping to killing some of his dudes during my main phase to survive, which of course, only holds off the inevitable. I’ve often heard the wisdom:”Run them out of counters” and”Make them counter stuff so they can’t Fact or Fiction end of turn.” I’ve never been able to pull it off with any degree of success, but Mouth sure as hell did.
0-2 (don’t end up 3-5, don’t end up 3-5, don’t end up 3-5)
(Dude in background asked if he could be in the pic. The fact that he appears unaware is nothing but a ruse!)
Round 3: Steve Engle, Mono Red To The Friggin’ Dome
Game 1: Steve goes first, drops a Mountain and says”Assault you for two.” Pardon me?
Next turn, he lays another land and throws Scorching Lava at my dome. Pardon me?
Next turn, he lays another land and Rages me. All right, methinks that I’d better get a move on.
I drop a Familiar on turn four (backup regen mana, ya see?), while Steve throws another Rage and Lava at my bean. I sneak in three hits with the creature that warms my heart, counter anything that will get me into Rage range (although that failed miserably, since his entire deck is designed to do that), and begin to assault his melon for a change. Bolt, Fire, Fire gets him to six, while I’m sitting precariously at two.
He peels his last hope, which since it’s not Rage, doesn’t resolve, but my end of turn double Rage you does resolve, curiously enough.
Game 2: I get a breather on turn one when Steve drops a wait ’til next turn sac land, but next turn the assault does indeed begin anew. Rage, Rage, Breath wif da’ kicks, Lava, Breath wif da’ kicks gets me to four, and that’s when Steve peters out. In the meantime I’d been smacking him end of turn with a Bolt here and a Rage there – and poking him with my sexual chocolate 1/1. He’s at eight and has no cards in hand, which means he has two turns in which to draw two Rages, since I have a hand chock full of counters. As a safety valve I drop Agenda, which oddly enough allows me to play cards from my graveyard as if they were in my hand, although I can only play one spell per turn, dammit.
He hits me with a peeled Rage, getting me to one, but apparently I hadn’t done the math right when I figured he had two turns to live. I Bolt him end of turn (four), untap and serve (three), and dig deep for a sexy Rage out of the boneyard. Agenda is so good that you don’t need any basic math skillz at all.
I should’ve lost this match. But I didn’t, and here’s why:
He cast all of his burn during his own main phase. Sorcery burn aside, this is one of the most clear-cut examples of”Wait ’til end of turn” that I have ever seen. While getting smacked for two or three during his turn, it clearly left me in the driver’s seat; it was up to me how much burn I was going to take or not allow, which gave me the option of countering or saving mana to cast Fact or Fiction or Prophetic Bolt.
If he had waited until the end of my turn to toss pain at my diggitty, then he’d put himself behind the wheel; if I counter, then that’s at least two less mana I have available on his turn, which would certainly improve the likelihood of having an important spell resolve on his turn. If I don’t, then that’s like a free two or three to the dome.
For a long time I understood that end of turn was the way to go, but it wasn’t until I was writing this report that I fully understood the exact ramifications of choosing to abuse your own main phase. And while this seems elementary to many (and puts me at risk for Darwin Kastle-like teasing: Hey, Rizzo figured out that it’s good to wait until end of turn, just like Darwin figured out that Invasion has gold cards!), it did take up another four inches of column space, and that’s what life is really about – he who dies with the least column space available wins.
1-2 (don’t end up 3-5, don’t end up 3-5, don’t end up 3-5)
(Steve is happy. Rizzo is happy. Becky is happy. Everyone is happy except The Ferrett, who despite claiming that the additional work involved in formatting these pics is”worth it,” is not happy to get an email with the subject”Hey, chief, here’s another batch of pics for you to spend an hour of your life on that you’ll never get back.” Hurry up, someone digress – and fast!)
Round 4: Steve Wymer, U/G
I was three minutes late for this round, courtesy of Kenny friggin’ Crawford, who, like I, was located outside and far from the loudspeakers, so Steve tells me that I now have a game loss. I mention that I thought it was four minutes but am not concerned enough to really argue. Hey, if I can’t sweep a guy, it’s unlikely that I can win at all anyway. Plus, he wasn’t being a jerk about it, so I went with the”Kill ’em all, let Mike Guptil sort ’em out” method of judging that has never worked before, for I have yet to try it.
Additionally, the match slip does not show any indications of being touched by a judge. I figure that we’ll just play and see what happens, with the kicker being that I can try to lawyer my way out of game loss -“Mr. Judge, if you give me a game loss, I will expose you in a future column! I will tell the entire world that you are having my baby!”
The potential for blackmail is sexy. But I’m probably just kidding. Probably.
Game 1: I mulligan going first, so Steve feels obligated to take one as well. We bond in our collective decision to start off on equal footing, and we both commence to drop land for six turns. I break the stalemate with the sexiest 1/1 ever printed (except for Mother of Runes, who resembles Vince McMahon’s wife just a little too much), win the counter war, and end up facing a pair of Blurreds. Apparently, Steve didn’t drop them when he first drew them because he wanted to bounce some of my dudes that never bothered to show up.
He hits me for two once, then realizes that Mongoose vs. the best creature in IBC is a losing proposition. At this point we stall, and neither of us plays anything for another six turns or so, with me wondering why he isn’t doing anything – doesn’t he know that he will lose when I get to twelve mana (eleven with sexy ass in play)?
As expected, I get to eleven mana, end of turn Rage him, untap and Rage him again, not fearing life gain, since no friggin’ stupid white mana makers were on the table.
Game 2: Steve drops dudes on the first four turns – an even mixture of Skyfolk and Mongoose Dudes – so I get – count ’em – three of those sexy Nubian beauties into play. His 2/1 untouchables hereby controlled, he can only serve with the fairly costed 2/2 flyers, while I counter any attempt to remove my elves on steroids. I sneak in a Bolt here and a Fire there, winning mini counter wars in the process, simply waiting for Rages. I find two, tease him with Fire/Ice to see if he counters (he really has to think about it, ’cause a brother is now well aware that I a) have more counters than him, b) have more direct damage than him, and c) have Rage, all of which sounds bad for him). Some teasers get through, some don’t, but he’s now precariously perched at eight, with me on a three-turn clock due to the Skyfolk. I peel a third Rage and it’s bad times for everyone but me.
2-2 (don’t end up 3-5, don’t end up 3-5, don’t end up 3-5)
(Steve is suspiciously eying the camera because I told him that it was going to squirt water at him. And I really need a new pose, for I’ve done that”smoldering make a little love to the lens” act too many times before. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve had sex at any tourneys, so maybe it’s not working. Whoa, that’s weird.)
Round 5: Ryan Hall, W/U/R
Game 1: Even though I double mulligan, the best 1/1 on earth helps me to stave off the beats for a lot longer than I had a legal right to. But it doesn’t stop Lighting Angel with Absorb backup very well. And the funny thing is that the Angel stays back on D as well, so I can’t even get a cheap hit in with the chocolate love machine. Maybe it’s not so funny after all. The Angel goes the distance (“surprise, surprise,” says Jim Nabors), and a hefty Ghitu Fire didn’t help my life either.
Game 2: Hi, I’m Goblin Legionnaire – mind if I do fourteen to your dome despite you devoting your life to preventing that? Ryan had the Absorb when I had the Undermine and the Gainsay when I had the Gainsay, plus he had like a whole bunch of good friggin’ cards, too. However, eventually I’m in a situation where I can Fire and Rage him end of turn, one of which he would likely Absorb since he was at six or so, then untap and Rage and Bolt him for the win. Or perhaps I can draw a red source that doesn’t come into play tapped and throw three burners at him instead.
He Absorbed the Rage (ending up at four, since I cast Fire first and hoped he had some stupid counter that wouldn’t gain him friggin’ life), so I untap, draw a friggin’ Urborg friggin’ Volcano, Rage him, which meets another friggin’ Absorb and puts him at seven, and leaves me shaking my head in cadence with Alongi and other self-professed haters of white and lifegain in particular.
Ha ha ha ha ha, life gain sure is fun.
Ha ha ha ha ha, if only I’d drawn a Mountain.
Ha ha ha ha ha, just in general for no apparent reason.
2-3 (don’t end up 3-5, don’t end up 3-5, don’t end up 3-5)
(I’ve done this”I appear casual, but my crossed arms indicate vulnerability” pose too often as well. You might be able to make out Jason Sizemore just under Ryan’s right elbow, but The F will probably need to crop, so too bad, chief. Write another rant if you want publicity – you can’t ride my coattails forever! Hey, it’s really hard to come up with flavor text at five thirty in the morning.)
Round 6: Dan Marcel, I can’t, for the life of me, remember anything about his match (other than I won), so I’ll show you how fun it can be to, um, embellish.
Game 1: Dan goes Swamp, Ritual, Necro, and sucks up five cards. Since I didn’t have a Force of Will or Foil, it looks bad for me. I drop land for a few turns while Dan empties my hand with Hymn to Tourachs and drops Hypnotic Specter. Just as I was about to concede, Sheldon Menery walks by and notices something is fishy. After a moment of watching our game, he calmly tells Dan that he has just earned himself a game loss.
“But why?” protests Dante.
“Because I’m not even supposed to be here today!” barks our beloved Shel.
Cheap, but I’ll take it.
Game 2: Shicky Shel takes a seat, presumably with the intent of figuring out another way to punish Dan. On turn five, he finds it: Collusion.
One of Dan’s friends walked over and started to watch our match. I dropped a land and told Dan I was done, and his friend itched his nose. Shel-toed Adidas saw this and happily slapped Dante with a game loss.
“But my nose was itchy,” offered Dan’s friend.
“Round these parts, chief, that’s called collusion,” spat our favorite judge-slash-gangster rapper.
“But my friggin’ nose had an itch, damnit,” protested thine sidekick o’ Dan.
At this point, MC Shel put down his mic, took off all of his gold chains, told one of his entourage to hold his rottweiler, called for security and had the nose itcher forcibly removed. Later, when Oprah was interviewing me for her coverage in O magazine, she asked if I thought Dan’s penalty was fair.
“Look here, you no-talent, I’m fat I’m thin, hey, guess what everyone – I’m fat again loser, I watch Rosie, so  off!” was the answer that I thought fitting.
All right, I was just kidding. I don’t watch Rosie.
3-3 (don’t go 3-5, don’t go 3-5, don’t go 3-5)
(If you squint really hard, you just may be able to make out two figures peering into the camera. That’s the last time I Iet Teamann convince me to take the pic in the”Darkest possible location without a flash – and don’t worry, it’ll come out fine!”)
Round 7: Chad Eveland, he had a deck that gained life
Game 1: I smack Chad to eighteen with the ebony god, but for some reason he hates playing with less than twenty life, so he teaches me a lesson and goes back up to twenty four. Then twenty-seven. Hey, chief, how do you expect me to win when you keep gaining life?
Game 2: All the way to seven went Chad’s life total, which pissed him off to no end. He calmed down however, when I had to mark him back up to thirteen and myself to negative a whole bunch.
3-4 (don’t go 3-5, don’t go 3-5, don’t go 3-5)
(Chad gained life, so I pulled out an old-school gang sign. Hey, if you gain life on me, don’t expect me to unveil a brand spankin’ new sign – those are for the guys who believe that twenty life is reasonable.)
Round 8: Chuck Bowman, W/B/U
Game 1: This is a pure race: his Lynx and counters vs. my luscious 1/1, burn, and less counters.
However, I do have Rage wif da’ kicks, whilst he does not. He serves, I serve. Some burn goes through, some doesn’t, but I’ll be damned if I don’t have four Rages in my hand when I finally get to eleven mana.”Rage you wif da’ kicks” is not a question that can be answered with anything but a scoop when you can deal twenty damage in what is ostensibly one turn.
Hey, I think that some of the massive burn I unleashed should retroactively be counted in my match with Chad in round seven. Yep, that’s the new penalty for gaining life:
If an opponent that you gained life upon has an abnormal amount of burn later in the tourney, it shall retroactively be subtracted from your life total in the match you played. If this is more than twenty damage, said life gainer loses the match and all rounds subsequently played will be restarted, and the player with the fat burn will receive a bye into the Top Eight.
-Official DCI Rules, pg. 1
Game 2: I mulligan, which is all kinds of Becky up in here, and can never recover, especially when Chuck gets all”offensey” on me and blasts me in the friggin’ teeth with Dromar.
Game 3: Chuck’s turn two Meddling Mage picks Rage, while his turn five or six Mage picks Prophetic Bolt. He pecks me and pecks me with those nerds and a Lynx for a while until my ever-lovin’ sexy dish stops by to tell everyone that he does indeed block and regenerate.
I have Rage and Ghitu Fire in hand, but it’s starting to look hopeless when I look at Chuck’s hand and ask”two cards?””And they’re both counters!” was an answer I wasn’t happy to hear. Eventually, Chuck casts Dromar, leaving him not enough mana to counter twice on my turn.
Still, I think this match is unwinnable and Ghitu Fire the Mage set for… Anyone, anyone at all?
No, not the one set to Rage, ’cause I only have one in my hand, and heck, I ain’t winning this game anyway. Plus, I’m a friggin’ idiot.
Dear Dumbass Me,
Which spell will resolve in IBC: Urza’s Rage or Prophetic Bolt?
The Smart Me
Oh, and I did this when Chuck was at twelve – and I had ten mana.
Next turn I drop land – hey, that’s eleven mana (ah, but twelve in reality since my baby is in play!) Now, if I can just find a way to kill that Mage!
Next turn, off the top, anyone…anyone…Bueller…Bueller?
Wow. There’s a reason that my Constructed rating will likely have dropped below 1600 as a result of today’s tourney.
And that’s it.
I had both Rages in my hand when a passersby passered by and asked what the Mage was set for.”Take a wild guess,” I said, and not very nicely at that, revealing my hand in the process. Now, not only do I suck, but I also feel bad for being mean to some passersby. My bad to that dude. Pass it on.
Shhhh! It’s around the corner. ‘Member how funny that was in third Grade?
I think that subliminally I wanted to go 3-5.
It’s a conspiracy.
(Chuck had Dromar’s Charm, Absorb, and perhaps even Death Grasp, yet he only gained three life the entire match, which was really miniscule compared to how much he could’ve gained. Still, I have to stand by my convictions, for I am nothing if not a principled ass.)
For your consideration, a list of all the 3/5 cards in Magic (if Apprentice is to be believed):
Guan Yu, Sainted Warrior
Gwendlyn Di Corci
Wall of Swords
And if I ever win the Magic Invitational, I promise to make a 3/5 dude.
And now, to figure out how to make this a conspiracy…Okay, here goes.
Chiefs, seriously, it was so wack that I up and deleted it. Trust me, it was some friggin’ bad.
When I arrived home, I made precious love to as many Nightscape Familiars as I could find. Afterwards, while I was lying next to my tender bedfellows, feeling satiated and likely glowing in post-orgasmic bliss, all I could mutter was”Damn, you guys rock.” And that’s what life is all about:
He who dies with the most Nightscape Familiars wins.
John Friggin’ Rizzo