States: Tech For The Stupid – The 2001 Edition

Everything goes fine with ink.

In the spirit of States, I figured I’d offer up one of my favorite games for all y’all to try. It’s called Ellipses, and it involves, well… Ellipses. Ergo:

Take a sample paragraph or sentence from anyone (or a random paragraph from my last article as an example):

“It was a most casual yet serious night of Magic, in which I learned one thing that I think might be correct: Blue/Green is a very damned good combination. And adding a little red is a bowl full of icing that moms says you can lick.”

Now, add ellipses for wacky family fun, making sure that you do not alter the order of any words from the original:

“…I think…you…lick.”

Let’s try another from last week:

“Ya’ know, a cool lookin’ guy, much like Adrian Sullivan, who I bet has gotten more than a brother could ever want simply because he has the ‘intellectual, understanding, yet could be dangerous and that turns me on’ look that drives da’ wimmins wild. Or so Comso and Teen always say.”

Now let the fun begin…

“…Adrian Sullivan…has…a brother…that turns me on.”

And one more in the interest of journalistic integrity:

“Jim said, ‘sit on this chair, and I’ll stick my hand in your back and pretend that I’m a ventriloquist and you are my dummy.’ While he was talented at throwing his voice, he didn’t have the balls to try to make me talk while he was drinking a glass of water.”

You know the drill by now…

“…pretend that…my…balls…talk…”

Warped? Yep. Idiotic? Likely. Funny as all hell? Not really. But every once in a while, you just hit a wacky one that drives the chyx crazy.

And now, as contractually obligated, an article that at least mentions Magic.

All y’all have no idea how much I hope the Opposition decks fail. Really, no idea at all. I hope everyone that plays them goes 0-2 drop. Or better yet, goes 0-8 and loses a hundred points. Then gets booted for a year for cheating. Then gets booted for another year for some made up reason. Then gets thrown in jail on trumped-up charges brought by a corrupt police department. And when they are released upon the day of their eightieth birthday, they are tarred and feathered, drawn and quartered and forced to watch old”21 Jump Street” reruns until their minds turn to mush, a la the guy that Kevin Spacey tortured for an entire year in”Seven.”

Excuse me, but didn’t we already go through this Squirrel Prison crap during Urza Block?

Wasn’t that deck sickening enough?

Can’t we come up with something better than a two-year-old deck?

Isn’t Magic supposed to be all about”player interaction” nowadays?

And one of the first things many people do is realize that since Deranged Hermit is gone, we might have to find another way to generate lots of guys, ’cause we must use Opposition.

Dear Wizards,

Quit building our decks for us, but when we see that you reprinted a card that was the key to a particularly good (read: annoying) decktype back in the day, we will resurrect that bad boy immediately.



Squirrel Prison, circa 1999, becomes, well, Squirrel Prison, circa 2001, and hey, we can still use Squirrels.

We must build Opposition, because it’s so [a whole bunch of expletives here] fun to deny your opponent everything! Prison decks are enjoyable! It’s pleasurable to be locked down! And Stasis, circa 1996, which became Rising Waters, circa 2000, was fun too: Taking away one of the fundamental aspects of Magic – at the beginning of your turn, untap all your crap and then you get to play – is so much good times!

Damn I hate prison decks. With a passion. It’s almost enough to make a brother pack his crap up and head for the hills.

The first tournament I ever played in, I faced three Squirrel Prison decks in a row. While I managed to beat one with my mono-green fattie machine, I vividly recall the utter helplessness I endured at watching my opponents fiddle around like dumbasses and still lock me and my fatties down. It was so sickening, and my opponents so brazenly smug (like they were such amazing players because they had internet access – this was my first introduction to Net Decks) that I said to myself,”Well, this game is fun as hell at the kitchen table, but these tourneys are a friggin’ joke, and I don’t think I need this crap.”

Little did I know.

Along with playing a deck that denies your opponent every friggin’ thing comes a certain smugness that makes it that much worse: It’s the look of”you are so amazingly helpless and I am allowing you to live so I may torture you just like the small animals that I used to maim for the sheer pleasure of it.”

Damn, I hate prison decks.

Oh, and just in case you have a Disenchant or some other sneaky way of escaping the lock, I have counterspells. Man, I wish Obliterate was an instant – for if it was, I’d be playing four of those bad boys and as much acceleration as I could find, eager to blow up the prison mage’s world and do everything in my power to draw the match in a”ruin my fun, and I’ll ruin yours” vendetta kind of way.

I truly believe that the people who seek to play prison decks have something seriously wrong with them. I am absolutely convinced that these players have sociopathic tendencies – a desire to do much more than control; a desire to emasculate, to belittle, to hurt. It’s much more than playing a deck filled to the brim with counters; at least you have a chance to untap and try again next turn. However, in Squirrel Prison, they will eventually tap down all your lands during upkeep, essentially stealing one of the first things we learn about the game – the chance to start fresh every turn, with all your resources (i.e., mana) ready to go. This idea of an”untap” phase is becoming outdated; can’t we do something to eliminate such a trite and archaic phase?

And we sociopaths can spot our own a mile away.

And thanks very much for Blinding Angel, another slow way to bleed your opponent to death – who needs a combat phase? In the next expansion, do you think you could reprint Stasis, Blinding Angel, go back to the old-school wording on Spellbook (skip your discard phase), and maybe come up with a card that makes people skip their upkeep, too? Thanks for Time Stretch, too – who needs a friggin’ turn at all? Or two turns, as the case may be.

Fun Times For Becky



Target opponent skips his or her upkeep phase.

Funner Times For Becky



Target opponent skips his or her first main phase.

Funnest Times For Becky



Target opponent skips his or her second main phase.

Becky, Lord of Fun



Target opponent skips this tournament, stays home to play Everquest.

I hate prison decks; I want all of my phases, dammit. Every single friggin’ one. I want to untap my shiz, uppittykeep my shiz, draw my shiz, cast my shiz, attack with my shiz, cast more shiz, discard shiz, then start over.

You may think that I’m just a little wuss who likes to turn guys sideways, and anyone who doesn’t agree with the”turn men at 90 degree angles” philosophy is a freak of some sort, but that isn’t the case at all. I enjoy the challenge of playing against control decks, because that’s what it is: A challenge. However, Prison decks are not a challenge – they are combo decks that don’t seek to win on one drawn-out, oblivious-to-what-my-opponent-is-doing turn, which is sickening in its own right; they seek to prolong their opponents frustration over the course of many turns; a bloodletting of sorts if you will. Don’t think so? Well, think again.

The Marquis De Sade would play a prison deck. You bet yer ass he would.

In case I was a little unclear: You guys who are anxious to play a prison deck at States (after you download your favorite version and then rip off little kids for the rares that you need to build the deck) have a serious character deficiency. I’m no shrink, but I’d bet a dollar to your Net Deck that any shrink worth his or her salt would agree that someone who seeks to win by taking total control over another person and then slowly bleeding them to death has some serious personal problems. Of course, they’d probably just prescribe a healthy dose of Ritalin or some such non-cure, but the sentiment is there:

You guys are messed up.

Hey, don’t sweat it, we’re all messed up.

But not that messed up.

Yes, I’m trying to shame you so that you will not play a prison deck at States. No, it probably won’t work on many of you, but perhaps it may force little Johnny-tear-the-wings-off-of-flies to actually think about what I’m saying. However, if history tells me anything, it’s that everything I’ve just said went right over the heads and under the legs of those that this article is meant for. Those who agree with me will feel energized, or vindicated, or at least feel like someone else out there feels the same way they do… But those guys weren’t going to play prison anyway. Still, there’s safety in numbers. Or something.

Damn, I hate prison decks. The guy who ends up getting locked down isn’t the one who is truly in prison. But hey, this is just a game, right? Wrong.

I remember seeing the 7th Edition spoiler and noticing right away that Opposition made the cut. I also remember vomiting upon realizing that people would be funny and automatically use that bad boy because they had been unable to torture people in Type 2 for way too long.

And then Wizards printed Divert. With Urza’s Rage, at least there was a chance that you could partially escape the prison by Raging wif da’ kicks when you reached twelve mana. Now, you need to wait until you have fourteen mana (and probably sixteen), for you can bet your ass that the prison guy will be holding at least one Divert for just such an occasion.

For this reason – the chance to escape the prison – I’ll likely be playing a deck with 4x Urza’s Rage. And probably Obliterate. And probably Spellbane Centaur, Blurred Mongoose, Nimble Mongoose, and Yavimaya Barbarian. I would think that the above cards would tend to make prison players shy away from an Opposition-based strategy, but it won’t. For they still have the fatties with Flashback to fall back on. And counters.

But something like this might be a starting point for a good foil:

NAME: Untitled Morsel of Booya

4x Firebolt

4x Nimble Mongoose

4x Yavimaya Barbarian

4x Blurred Mongoose

4x Spellbane Centaur

4x Urza’s Rage

4x Call of the Herd

3x Kavu Chameleon

3x Overrun

2x Beast Attack

16x Basic lands

4x Karplusan Forest

4x Barbarian Ring

About ten minutes of thought went into this deck, but I think the idea is sound: it’s a sort of Stompy with too much maindeck hate for prison. This deck wouldn’t necessarily roll over and die to other forms of beatdown… But then again, it might. Although, a whole bunch of the spells will resolve, and a whole bunch of dudes are not going to get tippitty-tapped; resolving a Spellbane Centaur can be lights out if they don’t have Wash Out or some other funny not-targeted”removal” spell.


It should do very well against prison.


It should do very average against just about everything else.

In the interest of pure love, which is what I’m all about, I offer up the following bad boy full of dorks that can become fatties, and as an added bonus can goldfish on turn four – actually, it can deal twenty-four damage by turn four:

NAME: Untitled Petri Dish of Booya

4x Elvish Lyrist

4x Llanowar Elves

4x Nomadic Elf

4x Quirion Sentinel

4x Seeker of Skybreak

4x Elvish Archers

4x Elvish Champion

2x Overrun

4x Giant Growth

4x Explosive Growth

4x Might of Oaks

18x Forest

Of course, one can’t play the Blurred and Nimble brothers, for while they laugh at targeted removal, they also laugh at Giant Growth. Replace those bad boys with Elves, and the Herd with the Champion, and you have a deck that can goldfish on turn four, but doesn’t need to. However, it better get a move on soon after, ’cause it doesn’t have enough gas in the tank for the long game… Well, except for Overrun and/or simple creature swarms.

Turn four; that doesn’t give prison much time to set up, now does it? Either way, there is a little glimmer of hope to beat prison at its own game, which in the end, is quite simple: Winning.


It can accidentally win, even when you aren’t paying attention.

You should be done with the match in fifteen minutes.


It’s green. Mono green.

Of course, there’s always the U/B Shadowmage deck that everyone’s mother’s-abandoned children will be playing. I must confess a strong desire to use Shadowmage Infiltrator as well; that bad boy is some bad, boy, which is basically my outdated way of saying that it’s, like, really freakin’ good. An example:

NAME: Untitled Nugget of Ass and a Cup of Booya

2 Telepathy*

4 Duress

4 Syncopate*

4 Counterspell

4 Memory Lapse

2 Undermine*

3 Recoil*

4 Shadowmage Infiltrator

4 Thieving Magpie*

4 Thought Devourer

1 Yawgmoth’s Agenda*

12 Island

8 Swamp

4 Underground River

The cards with * indicate that they could easily be swapped out for different bad boys or have their numbers altered, for someone might wish to use Rushing River, Extract, Opt, Sleight of Hand, Spite/Malice, Ravenous Rats, Addle, Fact or Fiction, Standstill, Glacial Wall, or any number of very good alternatives. Damn, there are so many freakin’ good cards in this format, that it’s tough times indeed for an itinerant deckbuilder.

But, man, Telepathy could be amazing; aren’t people actually contemplating using Peek? I don’t know about you, but for the loss of drawing a card, I’d be more than willing to see what’s up with dude’s hand for the duration of the game. At the very least, it would make it easier to figure out what to pitch for Devourer’s”drawback.”

That’s about as far as I’ve come in two full weeks of playing around with the Infiltrator deck. Yes, there are too many good cards that could be added to the mix.

You could go with 3x Lobotomy and 4x Extract for the funny”all your good cards are belong to Zvi” theme, or flying weenies for the Skies Lite approach, or even splash a little red for Bolts and Rage or green for Spiritmonger and Deed or white for… Well, don’t splash white, not even for Meddling Mage.

Or even Blonde Skies for that dirty combo type feel.

How does it fare against a weenie swarm? Well, not too bad at all. Most of the dudes that can sneak under countermagic are not very frightening by themselves; preventing the supplementary spells are the key, since a 1/3 or 4/4 dude can come out on turn five at the latest, or earlier if you don’t feel you need counter backup for the Overrun or some such that may follow.

Still, fear the Giant Growth, or Muscle Burst if you see a Farmhand or three in the yard. Tip: Blocking that Elf that’s kamikaze-ing into your Shadowmage might not be the best idea if you can’t stop the +3/+3 that may or may not be forthcoming… But you already learned that during the first session at the kitchen table, right? Or maybe it is a good idea to block, since if you don’t, you may just, um, die.


It’s blue.


So everyone will have blue.

Stompy can be damned good, yo. And another thing: Elvish Champion is going to be some strong as hell with the tons of Forests that will be played. All you have to do is keep it alive; the Growth effects should be enough.

I really want to get jiggy with a mono-red”lemme think” deck. ‘Twould sport Lava Blister, Blazing Salvo, Molten Influence, and other such nonsense, including, but not limited to, Mana Clash (tip: unless you feel lucky, punk, I wouldn’t recommend letting this bad boy resolve), Mages’ Contest, and maybe even Goblin Game. Sure would be annoying as all hell, especially if your opponent is with Islands; they thought they’d only have to think a little? Show ’em whatcha got, yo.

Oftentimes I go off on a tangent for no apparent reason, and then I do this because I’m borderline stupid:

NAME: Untitled Scrap of Booya

4x Counterspell

4x Memory Lapse

4x Syncopate

4x Psionic Gift

4x Seeker of Skybreak

3x Puppeteer

4x Thieving Magpie

4x Mystic Snake

4x Immobilizing Ink

2x Rushing River

2x Yavimaya Coast

7x Forest

15x Island

Immobilizing what? That 1U Enchant Creature that no one even plays in Limited? That dumbass card?

Immobilizing Ink reas:

Enchanted creature doesn’t untap during its controller’s untap step. Enchanted creature has”1, Discard a card from your hand: Untap this creature.”

Read this:

Whenever Thieving Magpie deals damage to an opponent, you draw a card.

And then this:

Enchanted creature has”T: This creature deals 1 damage to target creature or player.”

And we put it all together:

Enchanted creature has”1, Discard a card from your hand: Untap this creature.”

There, now you’re starting to get it.

First off, it’s defensive enough that it might keep a guy tapped for a few turns, and secondly, it goes on my friggin’ guy – screw the defensive measures that are barely justifiable. Yes, I cast Immobilizing Ink on my own creature and then I let my love shine. A Gifted Magby with some Ink can do as much damage as you have mana – that’s a fact, ma’am. In addition to pinging your opponent in a most annoying manner and filtering through your deck at a rate not seen since the days of Bargain, it’s just plain cool to win with a Tim.

Hey, I’m not splitting the atom here – I’m just getting some ink while thinkin’ bout the Ink.

And, much to my surprise, it works. While it’s not quite as sexy as Urza Block’s Hermetic Study on Horseshoe Crab, it ain’t too shabby at all. The Seekers and Puppetguys can be defensive and offensive, which is the sign of versatility (or stupidity). Oh yeah, Urza’s Rage.

Dear Wizards,

Thanks for Divert, but why did you have to get cute with that”unless dude pays 2?”


Johnny Wanna Tim You For A Lot

Oh, and Sphere of Reason, which might be a little popular in the wake of the Finkelmage’s coming out party, is some seriously bad times for this deck. And so are many other cards, but that’s what the freakin’ counters are for. Duh!

Yes, I’m aware that I could throw in Finkelmage and have double the fun, or Mawcor for some plain old wrongness, but I have to start small and stuff, for, if you remember correctly, I suck at Magic. Especially Constructed Magic.

Hey, I just spent too much time on a three-card combo based around two creature enchantments and a 1/3 dude that costs 2UU. Optimist: they’re all in the same color! Pessimist: It’s two enchantments on a 1/3 dude! Bonus: there are seven dudes in the deck that can untap the double enchanted 1/3 dude, so it’s really like a four-card combo!

Hells, just make it mono blue, throw in another Puppetdude and ten more counters.

FrigginRizzo: <—1565 Constructed

Still, it’ll impress the piss out of the kitchen table crowd. Maybe.

Don’t bother to mention Skeletal Scrying – that would be a little too dirty, but perhaps darned comboriffic! If I ever use the word”comboriffic!” again, all y’all have permission to kick my ass.


It’s a combo deck!


It’s not a very good one!

Immobilizing Ink/Millikin

Think about that for a second. Hmm, why would you possibly want to put three, four, five or more cards into your boneyard, at instant speed, for the tapping of a total of zero lands?

I’m not sure, but this graveyard theme that’s going around might actually like to do this:

Ink up Millikin.

Tap Millikin, putting one card into the yard and one mana into your pool.

Discard a card and use the mana from Millikin to untap himself via Ink.

Tap Millikin again, putting one card into the yard.

Repeat until you go off, however the hell that might be.

Perhaps you’d just like to give yourself Threshold on turn three for some odd reason – a 3/3 Nimble Mongoose perhaps, which might be some good against Squirrel Prison. Or not, since they’ll probably have a Call of the Herd token by then. But who knows?

Living Death in Extended?

Anything cool in Type One?

To be determined in Type Two…

Yeah, yeah, a two card combo, one of which is a 0/1 creature, and the other a – gasp! – creature enchantment that isn’t Rancor, but there is something there, dammit, and I trust y’all to be gentle, for this is the kinder, gentler Magic.

Immobilizing Ink/Cephalid Scout or Cephalid Broker… And Millstone is in Seventh Edition, in case you didn’t notice.

Think about that as well.

There is a possible engine with the Ink, and I bet it’s not as well hidden as everyone thinks. Still, please don’t explore it, for I know what you’ll do…

…You’ll put Immobilizing Ink in Squirrel Prison!


That would make it even more sickening, if that’s at all possible.

Seeker of Skybreak isn’t just a 2/1 Elf anymore – it’s comboriffic! Kick me.

Empress Galina/Ink + Unnatural Selection = You get every freakin’ dude.

Elvish Piper/Ink = Lots of fatties coming in this turn, serious fatties, yo.

Femeref Archer/Ink = Hi, I just did twenty four damage to your flyer… Ooh, if your opponent has Filthy Cur, and you give it flying and dumb ass attacks with it, you can up and win the game!

Ink these:

Nantuko Disciple…+2/+2 a whole buncha times.

Nantuko or Fyndhorn Elder…One green mana netted per tap.

Nantuko Mentor…Sooper Dooper Insane Fattie!

Dogged Hunter…Kill all of them damned tokens.

Elite Archers…Kill anything that dares to attack or block.

Hallowed Healer…Prevent a billion damage.

Intrepid Hero…Kill all those elves after your opponent casts Overrun.

The Paladins…Reusable Vindicate.

Vivify a land that has Caustic Tar enchanting it, drop some Ink on it, and just friggin’ win. See, that’s only three colors now, with double black to boot!

Kamahl… Mmm… Kamahl… does nine for the bargain basement price of – wait for it – nine mana.

Stormscape Master… Who says Drain Life is gone?


Rofellos/Ink = Unfreakinfair.

Skyshroud Poacher/Ink = Lots of friggin’ Hermits in play.

Dwarven Thaumaturgist/Ink = Lots of dead walls. Heh… Walls.

Goblin Welder/Ink = Something’s getting banned here, chief. In fact, this combo could be absolutely stupid, but since it’s two in the morning right now, I don’t feel like thinking about just how broken this combo could be. But I do remember hearing something about two Junk Divers and a way to sac them that could get ugly in a hurry.

Soldier of Fortune/Ink = Stall out every match! A must for every Five-Color aficionado!

Dear Kurt,

Ban Immobilizing Ink in Five right now, or someone will build Target Player Shuffles His Or Her Library Until Their Skin Falls Off.dec.


Johnny Helpin’ A Brother Out

Reveka, Wizard Savant = That’s a lot of damage, yo. A lot of damage, yo.

Avatar of Woe = More”whoa!” than Joey Lawrence can hang with.

Mundungu = Mana Leak or Undermine or more on a stick.

Shaku, Endbringer = Dude, I mean, really, dude.

Metalworker = Whoa, oh wait, maybe not.

Immobilizing Ink is not broken, but it could be much, much better than the tenth to fifteenth pick that others are recommending.

All this thinking simply because I hate prison decks. And in my hatred of said decks, have I opened the floodgates to worse ideas? Have I become what I despise?

Heh, who listens to me anyway?

Well, perhaps others have thought of using Da’ Ink in prison; perhaps now that I’ve shed light upon thee, they will feel the shame of using technology that I spewed forth, which may or may not be the point.

Ink’s good. Real good. But be responsible. Or maybe it sucks, but three pages of lovin’ Da’ Ink has got me convinced that something is amiss. We’ll see.

Oh, and before I forget…

I hate prison decks.

Especially Squirrel Prison decks.

More than I hate onions.

And I really hate onions.

A lot.

Everyone’s favorite uncle, Aaron Forsythe, is off and up to Seattle to work for Wizards – cavorting with the enemy who is not really an enemy is good times.

Dear Aaron,

Kudos and do good, but don’t put Star City out of business! Although, if you do, can a brother get a job?


Johnny Will Write For Food. Or not.

Take a look at a map of The United States. Notice where Washington state is? Can you now scroll to the right and notice where Maine is? Can those two states be any farther apart? Ain’t that weird as all hell?

Take notice that States 2000 was my first tourney as a CMU nerd. States 2001 is right around the corner. Ain’t that weird as all hell?

Take notice that one guy is moving to Seattle with a great job lined up, and the other is moving to Portland with virtually no chance of ever being gainfully employed again in his lifetime. Ain’t that weird as all hell?

Take notice that Team CMU had eleven members, two of which are/will soon be gone, and take the remainder (nine) and invert it to make a six. For no reason whatsoever, add two more sixes to that six to get 666. Ain’t that weird as all hell?

In case you think I brought up the Ink deck for fun and no profit, consider this: I’ve actually been testing it – how ass is that? Mystic Snake is fine, but he doesn’t give up what the deck truly needs: A super fat body. In searching for said super fat body, I found two, and they’re both sooper dooper fatties.

Quick Junior High flashback:

Who didn’t go to school with a dork that had a T-shirt that said”Member – IBTC?” If you don’t know what”IBTC” stands for, then just have kids and wait until they’re in 8th grade. Then you’ll find out.

NAME: Whatever the hell it was that I called it five pages ago, version 2.0

4x Counterspell

4x Memory Lapse

4x Syncopate

2x Glacial Wall

4x Psionic Gift

4x Seeker of Skybreak

3x Puppeteer

3x Jungle Barrier

4x Thieving Magpie

3x Immobilizing Ink

2x Rushing River

2x Yavimaya Coast

7x Forest

15x Island

So they’re walls – you got a problem with walls? They stop the bum rush in it’s tracks, but they can’t stop Finkelmage. And neither can you, for he is throwing a gang sign in the artwork, although not a very good one. But hey, he’s still young and has plenty of time to learn the ropes of random street thuggery.

And one more thing…

I hate prison decks.

I hate them even more than I hate onions.

And I really hate onions.

A lot.

John Friggin’ Rizzo

Someone in Portland who has a dad/uncle/moms/concubine who owns a really cool business email me and give me a friggin’ job.