Tales From The Hood

I know why I am taking way too long to get better… I’m not very good at Magic. There, I said it.

My ratings are pretty sucky, but they don’t depress me. I seem to get smashed in the chops at every other tournament, but that doesn’t depress me. I’ve gone 0-6 at the last two drafts at CMU, but that doesn’t depress me. Although I should be a little bummed about the lack of success that I’ve had lately, I’m not. Because I know why I am taking way too long to get better…

I’m not very good at Magic.

There, I said it.

I finally realized that last week when I was playing Andrew Johnson. Here’s the situation:

Andy J’s at seven and I’m at eight. He’s just attacked with a Serpentine Kavu that came out of nowhere, a 3/2 Kavu Scout, and a Kavu Climber. I have an untapped Duskwalker and my own Kavu Scout to put in the way if need be. And need bes, chief, for I’m in Block-or-Die Mode. Here’s the funny thing: I have an Agonizing Demise in hand and enough mana to cast that bad boy with kicker next turn after I untap. Oh, and he’s tapped out, too.

While I took a full minute to examine my options, I missed the obvious correct play that would win me the game with absolutely no other possible outcome; make the right play and I win. There is nothing he can do about it.

Many of you probably quickly saw the correct play and are already shuffling up for game two up one-love. I didn’t, but Andy J. was nice enough to point out my mistake after I Demised the Serpentine, traded Scouts, and took three.

In case you missed the correct play, here it is:

Put my Scout in front of the Serpentine and take five, going down to
three. Untap, send the unblockable Duskwalker putting Andy to four, then cast Demise with kicker on his Serpentine to win. It was a no-lose situation for me — yet I did one of the few plays that would allow Andy to win.

I could blame it on the fact that it was 11 p.m. on a school night, which results in the "Man, was I tired" excuse. I could also use the "Andy played very fast and didn’t give me time to properly evaluate my options" ploy… But he sat there patiently while I fumbled around with the math just long enough to figure out how to lose. The only realistic reason that I lost that game is…

I’m not very good at Magic.

There, I said it. Again.

But consider an alternate scenario: put me at six instead and let Andy J. have an untapped Forest and Mountain. What’s the right play now? He could have an Aggressive Urge, Explosive Growth, Tribal Flames, Scorching Lava, or even an Assault in hand. If he does, and I make the formerly correct play of taking five, I be one dead Rizzo. So, the correct play now is what? Take five and risk it? Demise the Serpentine, trade Scout for Scout and Climber for Duskwalker? If he has any of those cards in hand I’ll likely lose, as he will save a dude while I’ll be dudeless. And how much do I base my decisions on what he MIGHT have in hand?

I don’t know, and I’d be willing to be that this might be one of those situations where you can only hope that he doesn’t have the card that ruins your day. Of course, there probably is an alternate decision that I haven’t thought of that will not only allow me to survive this turn, but win next turn. Or maybe not. But I don’t know.

Because I’m not very good at Magic.

And I’m not sure WHY I’m not very good.

I spent upwards of ten years virtually making a living from poker, pool, and assorted back-room dirtiness that required paying full attention to the little things and exploiting them. If you’ve ever reached any kind of prominence at poker, then you realize just how difficult it is to evaluate the many variables that jump up in your face. But you learn to make the right decision. Eventually. Or you get broke.

Now, Magic isn’t entirely unrelated to poker; obviously, both involve cards and the need to look ahead and consider your options while simultaneously attempting to divine your opponents options as well. Both contain intangible elements of the human condition that usually lead to the more observant player taking home the booty at the end of the night, sometimes simply by reading your opponents’ tells.

On the other hand, playing good pool is not foreign to playing good Magic. Like poker and Magic, pool involves a certain element of figuring out your options, looking ahead, and playing the odds. In addition to taking the good end of the odds, playing good pool will usually reward the player who does the little things correctly — mainly the sometimes simplistic act of insuring that you are in good position to make your next shot, or simply "playing position."

If I had reasoned ahead and played position pool against Andy J., there is almost no way that I would have missed the insanely obvious play that wins me the game next turn. If I would’ve taken the time to realize the significance of the fact that Andy J. was tapped out (his tell), the correct play would’ve jumped right up in front of me, for there can be no better play than the one that wins you the game while your opponent is powerless to prevent it.

Andy J. put me to a decision that involved all my chips. He came at me knowing that I needed to block, and he even tapped out to do so, which means that he made his own decision to put all of his chips on the table… And wagered that I would make the wrong decision. I did make the wrong decision.

Magic is a difficult game.

And I’m not very good at Magic.

There, I said. Yet again.

Britney Spears is not a very good singer.

Keanu Reeves is not a very good actor.

Friggin’ Rizzo is not very good at Magic.

But I’m swinging for the fences, chief. Maybe I need a hitting instructor. Wait, I already have a bunch of them: Forsythe, Turian, Cuneo, Johnson, Teamann, Harvey, Patnik, Silberman, Kotwica, Tressler, Bandes, Sproul, misc., et. al., etc…

Magic is friggin’ hard. Real hard.

Magic is harder to master than chess.

Oh, you disagree? Argue this:

Chess: Everything is right friggin’ there in front of you; there is no hidden information. You’ll never lose a game of chess to mana screw. You’ll never lose a game of chess to a timely topdeck. You’ll never lose a game of chess unless you get outplayed. The best man wins every time. There is no luck in chess.

Magic: Much of the game is right in your face, but there is a wealth of hidden information to consider. If each player spread their hand and deck face up and played from there, Magic would be chess. The best man would win every time. There is much luck in Magic. And that’s why it’s harder to master than chess. I think.

Any chess player on Earth could be beaten by a computer. I realize that the biggest and best computers have been beaten by pesky humans who have a penchant for raining on programmers’ parades — but if you do the math, you will see that since chess is a game of perfect information, there is always a correct move; a move that is statistically the best. When programmers finally figure out how to program a friggin’ computer correctly, that computer will never lose a game of chess to a human opponent. Ever. Alas, garbage in – garbage out still rules the roost in computer programs.

Any chess player on Earth could be beaten by a computer if people weren’t so friggin’ stupid. How’s that for weird?

A computer can be built that will never, ever make a mistake while playing a game of chess because of the fact that each piece of information needed to make the best play is already inputted; there are no intangibles to worry about.

Mike Turian wrote an article on Mindripper describing much of what I’m already saying, and in the interest of even more shoddy journalism, I am corrupting my originality in a blatant attempt to be mean to Mike. Aaron Forsythe also wrote an article in a somewhat similar (not really, but he hates when I generalize his articles to fit my own agenda) vein. Heck, why not just snake both of them at the same time?

I find it hard to believe that a computer will ever be able to achieve domination over humans in Magic. Even if someone took the time to input the zillions of possibilities into some massive database, the computer is still hurting because it will never have enough information; it can and will only hypothesize and present the perfect play for one deck — its own. The opponent’s deck is an unknown and computers hate the unknown, even if it can take a hella good guess by using every card in Magic as the opponents "deck."

It’s hard enough to make the perfect play based on statistical analysis of your own deck; add an opponent and maybe then you can appreciate just how difficult this game is to master. Even if a computer was to play against a mirror-matched deck, it could only hypothesize on the probabilities of drawing "card x" while doing the same math for the opponent drawing "card y." A computer will beat even a very good chess opponent each time, but it won’t beat a 1600-rated Magic player each time. Because it doesn’t have enough information to ensure that it will.

How the hell is anyone supposed to get good at this game? If a 1600 could beat a computer on occasion, how am I supposed to beat Andy J? Easy. Be a computer, but don’t be a computer. When I figure out how to do that, all y’all can stand in line to congratulate me after winning my seventh Pro Tour in a row. ‘Til then, I’ll be the guy in the basement staring at endless strings of data. Or something.

"Casting the right creature at the right moment, planning the correct attack, or holding back a spell for the perfect occasion are all part of a winning strategy. Finding the balance between these factors is crucial to success at a high level."
Mike Turian, Mindripper

Someone please write me up a computer program that can do that. There are finite number of board positions in chess, which means that there will always be an optimal play. A computer will find it. There are a finite number of Magic cards, which means that there will always be an optimal play. A computer will find it.

But what the computer won’t do is accept losing when the optimal play blows up in its face when Joe 1600 responds by casting a card that had only a .0000000001 % probability of even being in his deck, and a .0001 % probability that he had it in his friggin’ hand and the right mana open at the exact time that totally wrecks the optimal play. Bobby Fischer never worried about Tangle. But we, as Magic players, have to consider that possibility.

Magic is a very difficult game to master.

And I’m not very good at Magic.

And I’m not sure why.

It’s not like I’m the Forrest Gump of Magic. It’s not like I don’t have the ability to look ahead and plan accordingly. It’s not like I don’t think about my mistakes and try to learn from them. It’s not like I don’t put in the effort. It’s not like I don’t play with very good players. And it’s certainly not that I don’t have the desire to improve. It’s just that I’m not very good at Magic.

I’m not sure if I ever will be.

But I can still get lucky and whoop your ass on any given day.



Obligatory review of what I feel are the best cards from Planeshift…

Disciple of Kangee 2W
U, tap: Target creature gains flying and becomes blue until end of turn.

We all remember how good Balloon Peddler was, right? Well, for the super-efficient cost of one blue and a tap, you get an evasion creature and the ability to change its color. This will allow you to take it to the skies and wreak havoc with any Djinns on the board. For one blue mana, this ability is very strong, not to mention that you get a 2/2 body along for the ride.

How many times have you had a handful of black removal but were staring down an opposing army of black creatures? Enter Disciple of Kangee and your Demise, Reckless Spite, and Annihilate get that much better.

A 1st to 2nd pick.
Constructed: 8/10

Sisay’s Ingenuity U Enchant Creature
When Sisay’s Ingenuity comes into play, draw a card.
Enchanted creature has "2U: Target creature becomes the color of your choice until end of turn."

As above with Disciple of Kangee, this clever little cantrip will mess with any color-specific plans your opponent might have. For 2U, you can fizzle virtually all of black’s removal, mess with all of the 2/2 protection guys, and squeeze through a few points of unblockable damage in the right situation. Not to mention that you get to draw a card, too.

The situations where this card will be useful are too numerous to name, and having it come out on turn one is an added bonus for seriously quick beatdown decks. Bonus points if you find a way to return this card to your hand (maybe Recoil) and recast it and draw yet another card. That is card advantage that is going to be difficult to keep up with in the mid- to late-game.

A 1st pick.
Constructed: 9/10

Death Bomb 3B Instant
As an additional cost to play Death Bomb, sacrifice a creature.
Destroy target non-black creature. It can’t be regenerated. Its controller loses 2 life.

What a friggin’ house! For the power that this card possesses, there should be another black mana symbol in it’s casting cost. For 3B you can block a big fat dude with a little dude, sac the little dude and cast this bomb, killing the fat dude and taking ZERO damage. It gets better if you can use one of your dudes to trade with an attacker, sac the little dude, cast the Bomb and kill yet another attacker before damage.

The loss of two life makes an already strong card a candidate for a first pick. Worship? Heh, Death Bomb! Story Circle? Ha ha — Death Bomb! While Massacre was a good white hoser, this bad boy has a more powerful effect than Massacre ever did. For 3B you can just win the game right then and there by wasting a blocker and doing the last two fatal points to your opponent.

A 1st pick.
Constructed: 9/10

Skyshroud Blessing 1G Instant
Lands can’t be the target of spells or abilities until end of turn.
Draw a card.

Of all the answers to Rishadan Port, this has to be the best one yet. Considering that this can be cast on turn two and draw you a card just adds to it’s exceptional versatility. You no longer need to fear those annoying land destruction decks with this bad boy in your deck. Stone Rain? Um, no, and I’ll draw a card. For a long time, green has had a noticeable lack of effective card drawers; this is payback time for the years of dumping your hand and not being able to refill it.

Since it’s a cantrip, it will never be a dead draw, which adds yet more bonus points to its attractiveness. While this may not be the death of Ports in Type 2, it’s damn close to being the equalizer that we have long been dreaming of. Think of how good this will be in 1.x Oath decks. Swords my Village? Think again, and I’ll draw me a card for your impudence!

A 1st pick.
Constructed: 10/10

Star Compass
Star Compass comes into play tapped.
Tap: Add to your mana pool one mana of any color a basic land you control could produce.

How much better does this make Harrow? Normally, in four- or five-color decks, you would tend to run two of each splash land that you intended to get with Harrow. This was a safety measure in case one of the lands you fetched got blown up; I’ll just go get the other one, n’yah, n’yah. With Compass, you can go back to using only a singleton Harrow-fetched land, as this bad boy will get you those double-colored spells with only one land of that color on the table. And you don’t even have to pay mana to do so like Chromatic Sphere requires.

These are inherently superior to the Sixth Edition Diamonds, even though the cost and "comes into play tapped" restrictions are the same. Compass is better because even if it gets destroyed, you still have the land that you were using to power the Compass. Additionally, Compass has less of a Diamond-like restriction of producing only one color. You can get up to five colors with a 2cc artifact for a one time investment of two mana. These will replace Diamonds and Invasion duals in short order, as the flexibility offered by Compass is huge.

Plus, think about how much this dude will ramp up your mana in a mono-colored deck. While it’s no Grim Monolith in terms of ramping, it is probably the best mana fixer in the game today.

A 1st pick.
Constructed: 10/10

Thunderscape Familiar 1R
First Strike
Black spells and green spells you play cost 1 less to play.

Stick. THE stick. 1R for a First striker equals goodness. Never again will a 1/1 freshly cast tappy dude prevent you from going on the offensive. In fact, due to its first strike, those tappy guys — as well as Quirion Elves and Tidal Visionaries — will be stopped dead in their tracks. It’s all about the beats, and this guy is all about beats on offense and defense.

This guy would be great if he didn’t have the "other" ability of giving you a Medallion effect. When this guy hits on turn two, your opponent better be prepared for your entire gameplan to come out a turn earlier. He can be likened as a Fires of Yavimaya for your entire deck if you are playing and black or green spells, which considering his first strike, is not even necessary to justify throwing him in almost any deck. For a total lock on the game, a splash of blue for Undermine or white and blue for Absorb to protect him would make sure that nothing ruined your fun.

A 1st pick.
Constructed: 10/10

Destructive Flow BRG Enchantment
At the beginning of each player’s upkeep, that player sacrifices a nonbasic land.

A Wasteland that is not only reusable, but cannot be responded to by another Wasteland sounds pretty good, right? Well, the Flow is just that… And much more. The expected surge of multicolor decks is sure to lead to a prevalence of nonbasic lands, and this guy is loving it. Put Flow out on turn three and watch your opponent squirm for real. If they don’t remove it, their entire strategy is likely to be disrupted; perhaps enough to win you the game single-handedly. Imagine a B/R/G deck with a splash of blue for counters to keep this guy from getting blown up, and put in a little white for utility. Now imagine the possibilities of a continuous Armageddon that effects only your opponent, and you will begin to see the subtle strengths of Flow.

In order to take full advantage of this card, you should stick to basic lands only, and use mana fixers to insure that you have what you need when the time comes to cast Flow. This is likely what WotC had it mind when they printed Star Compass. The synergy of Compass/Flow is so redundant that it’s purely unfair; if you can get your Flow into play before your opponent can get theirs on the board, victory should follow in short order.

A 1st pick.
Constructed: 9/10

Malicious Advice XUB Instant
Tap X target artifacts, creatures, and/or lands. You lose X life.

Okay, someone at WotC took their stupid pills when they made the final cuts for Planeshift. Obviously, this is an answer to the tappy apprentices, and a retardedly good one at that.

Tappy Mage: "End of turn, tap your dude."

Smart Player: "I respond with Malicious Advice, targeting your tapper to fizzle your tapping of my dude."

Tappy Mage: "Dammit!"

But let’s not overlook the subtlety of the ability to tap artifacts, guys, AND lands in the same turn. Picture this:

Smart Player: "During your upkeep, tap your Swamp, Utopia Tree and Star Compass to prevent you from casting that Devouring Strossus you splashed."

Helpless Mage: "Judge! Bah-ro-ken Alert!"

This card alone is probably the major reason that Skyshroud Blessing was released in the same set: Each card helps to balance the other. Without Blessing, Advice would be left unchecked in the environment. Without Advice, Blessing would be unstoppable. Kudos to WotC for doing the proper playtesting in spotting the abusability of these cards and printing the respective answers in the same set. Here’s to avoiding unneeded trips to the Banned and Restricted List.

A 1st pick.
Constructed: 10/10

1.) Get a pipe.
2.) Put above review in pipe.
3.) Smoke it.


Prerelease of Death and Random Dismemberment

Short version of the Prerelease: I suck at Prerelease type stuff.

Long version:

Who be here:

CMU-ish geeks:

Aaron "the Relentless" Forsythe, Mike "I loved the scene in Bad News Bears Two (or was it three?) where they said "let them play" over and over" Turian, Andrew "Jiggy" Johnson, Mike "Spellchecker" Patnik, Eugene "Broken in two, and quite possibly, three states" Harvey, Scott "Mr. Creature Enchantment" Teamann, Chas "I built a Five with Back to friggin’ Basics" Tressler, Ron "I went 45-4 at Friday Night Magic" Kotwica, Nate "Who shows up an hour late for a Prerelease?" Heiss, Bryan "Is turn five Probe, turn six Cloud any good?" Bandes, Jeff "They call me ‘Montgomery College’ but I go to Johns Hopkins, and Rizzo still doesn’t know my last name," Rich "I co-spawned the most intuitive player on Earth" Turian, Adam "I buy Beta Lotuses for a dime on the dollar for fun and profit and Rizzo thinks my last name is ‘McCune’ or something but isn’t sure," and "Dandy" Dan Silberman, who showed up to satisfy his contractual obligations.

Assorted gaming nerds:

Neil "Puttin’ on The Hood" Forsythe, Tyson "Ever since I was a kid, I
liked to fix people’s spines, thus, I became a chiropractor" Swigart,
Anthony "Who else besides Nate shows up an hour late for the Prerelease?" Florian, Mark "Call me ‘Yellowjacket,’ but I was wearing a jacket that most assuredly was not yellow" Ortego from the CPA, Eric "Let me think of a cool nickname for you and I’ll get back to you" Taylor, David "The friggin’ Earl of" Bruce, Mike "I’m pissed that Stasis wasn’t reprinted in Planeshift" Burton, Mike "The ‘L’s" may or may not be silent" Villa, and a few other guys that I’m sure I’m forgetting. The badness is all mine.

Arriving at nine antemeridian, I am shocked to see over a hundred of my peeps getting busy while peeping things. Undaunted, I go about my really stupid Prerelease Gank Move of signing up for the thirty-two player flight and the actual Prerelease. Apparently, I didn’t learn anything from the Invasion Prerelease: you can’t do both on TV. Or something.

Ever the one to challenge judges patience and my own fiduciary restraint, of course I sign up for both, but this time with kicker: it actually appears that I will be able to play a round or two in the flight before the Prerelease gets under way.

Question: Who builds this in the flight…

DEMISE, Volcano Imp, HATE WEAVER, Nightscape Apprentice, Morgue Toad, DUSKWALKER, Urborg Emissary, Dream Thrush, FAERIE SQUADRON, STORMSCAPE BATTLEMAGE, Slimy Kavu, MAGMA BURST, Hooded Kavu, FLAMETONGUE KAVU, SCORCHING LAVA, URZA’S FRIGGIN’ RAGE, Caldera Kavu, Vodalian Zombie, SMOLDERING TAR, SLEEPER’S ROBE, TERMINATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!, Cavern Harpy, BARRIN’S SPITE, Urborg Drake, and some lands…

…then yields to pressure from some dudes to drop from the flight and play in the Real Tournament?


Rather than win the flight with that pile of broken dreams, I dropped and meandered over to the Real Tournament and let Ron Kotwica school the same flighters that I should’ve duly schooled. Alas, I have no intestinal fortitude.

Um, 193 players for the Real Tournament and a full flight. Magic is

Dear Wizards,

Please help. Oh, you already did.

One of the guys who had to sit at a table in the hallway because there weren’t enough tables in the 5,000 square foot room that PES rented thinking that that would be plenty of room. But, Columbus and Detroit get spillover tourneys on Sunday and artists that sign cards.

Dear PES,

We friggin’ rule. Damnit.

Pittsburgh, PA

Here’s what a girl wants, what a girl needs, and I thank you, not to mention what I ended up playing:

Nightscape Battlemage – Very fair and balanced
Reckless "Cut off my nose for" Spite
Volcano Imp – No one will ever call it "Volcano Pimp." Ever.
Nightscape Familiar – Most underrated brother in showbiz
Duskwalker, Texas Ranger
Phyrexian "Don’t fear the" Reaper
Phyrexian Bloodstock-ard Channing
Good Mourning Vietnam
Tribal Flames
Hooded Kavu
Straight Outta Harlem Djinn
Frank Zap-pa
Tahngarth, Talruum Hero – Not a thing wrong with this guy
Kavu Scout’s Honor
Doomsday Specter – Also very fair and balanced
Terminate – Very fair and balanced, really it is
Cavern Harpy
Cinder Shade
Shivan Zombie
Rushing River – Also very fair and balanced
Vodalian Serpent
Faerie Squadron
Mana Cylix
6x Swamp
6x Mountain
4x Island
Sulfur Vent
Dromar’s "I’ll be over here skipping two turns, chief" Cavern

And we’re off…

Round 1: Downtown Andrew Brown, B/U/R

Game 1:

This friggin’ format is hard as Chinese Arithmetic. Bad, Bad Leroy Brown comes out of the gates like coming out of the gates went out of style with the passing of Urza. Smashing and poking me with too many little to medium dudes gets me down to eight withthe quickness. Here’s the thing: I’m holding really stupid cardslike Terminate, Battlemage, River, and Cavern Harpy…Waiting until just the right time to go off.

When I hit four life and boatloads of mana, and he has a Tar unfairly singling me out, I come with it. First off, we’ll drop this Battlemage with
kicker, targeting your Fylamarid guy and Stomscape Familiar. Then
we’ll drop this Cavern Harpy and gate the Mage. And then we’ll kick a river and send that pesky Bloodstock and Volcano Imp back as well. That should stop the bleeding a little. Hey, guess what? You have a full hand again?

Okay, so you’ll cast some of those guys again? You wouldn’t mind if I just Reckless Spite two of your guys and kick up the Mage for the other two, would you? Sorry about bouncing the Harpy, recasting it and gating the Mage again. It’s just business. Your turn.

Kicking the Mage for a third time and finding a little piece of Harlem on the top of the deck leads to severe beats that finally requires Andrew to sac the Tar that was in danger of eliminating a brother’s life when I’m at one. As luck would have it (for me), there would be no topdecking of a burn spell in Andrew’s future, even though he had at least three turns to do so.

Game two: Side in Hypnotic Cloud

A Stormscape Familiar smacks me around like a little bitch until I feel a little broken-ness behind me in the form of Eugene The Brokenest Harvey. Hey, Eubroken, check this out: Kick up my Serpent, kick the Mage and River, and for fun, gate the Mage with Harpy. Oh, and after I bounce four guys to Andrew’s hand, I think I’ll kick up a Cloud. Magic is fair.


(Look how pissed I got when I realized that Andrew makes a cooler street hood than I do.)

Round 2: Eric "I used to write for The Dojo and everyone loved my columns and If I knew what was good for me I would come to Star City" Taylor, B/R/G

Game 1:

Eric thought process: Would Rizzo mind if I cast every 4/4 or bigger that WotC ever printed on consecutive turns while he’s a little mana screwed?

Rizzo’s thought process: It’s probably really cool to have Cavern Harpy
and Doomsday Specter in my hand with no creatures on the board — but just to be sure, I think I’ll ask Eric.

Me: Hey E, I have an idea. Why don’t you just keep casting huge-ass guys until I run out of life?

E: While I feel for a brother, would you just friggin’ die to my insane horde of fatness?

Game 2:

Me: Hey E, game one was fun, wanna do that again almost exactly the same way?

E: Wow, you really do suck at Magic.



(Eventually, I stopped crying when Eric told me that it was okay to suck at Magic. He said, and I quote, "You suck, but we really do like you, a little, sort of, maybe.")

Round 3: Lenny Wittenbrook, G/R/B

Game 1:

Lenny gets out a turn six Planar Portal and proceeds to get all the wrong cards, which allows me to stay in the game. Eventually, he figures out that a Shivan Wurm with a Sinister Strength is a good thing, and pounds me senseless with it.

Note: Playing a turn one Faerie Squadron, turn two Duskwalker is high technology when you have a Battlemage, River, and Specter in hand. Lenny suffered about seven points of pain from those guys. And that is technology straight from the School of 1600 Limited. You are certainly welcome because I like to give back to the community.

Game 2:

Lenny’s turns:

1: Drop a Forsaken City, tap it to cast Maggot Carrier.
(Well, that’s a curious play.)

2: Pitch a card to untap City, cast Sinister Strength on Carrier.
(Rizzo’s down to fifteen.)

3: Cast Maniacal Rage on Carrier.
(Rizzo is down to nine.)

4: Cast Keldon Mantle on Carrier to trample over my pathetic 1/2 Kavu
Scout. (Rizzo is down to five and hungrily eyeballing pizza that Eubroken has laid a little too close for comfort and dies pretty quick like.)

I’m not very good at Magic.


(Still stunned, but dreaming of pizza.)

Round 4: Steven Estok

Hi, Steve. I was supposed to play you, but I’m dropping to play in flight two, which is starting in about four minutes. Have a nice day.


I’m not very good at life.

Dear Rizzo,

We realize that we took your twenty beans to play in flight two, but for some odd reason we didn’t feel like entering you in said flight. We also realize that you dropped from the Prerelease to play in said flight, and to make it up to you, you can either have your money back or the cards that you would’ve registered had you been correctly entered into the database to play in said flight.


Hmmm. Twenty beans or cards that still have that "new car smell?"

I will now list each card that I opened in my "consolation prize" so we can all go through them to see what I would’ve built.

Or not.

I will at least list all the cool rares and uncommons that I opened in said "consolation prize" so that you can be all jealous.

Or not.

Random cool stuff:

Jeff "Montgomery College guy" was playing The FBI’s Most Broken Fugitive, Eugene Harvey, at table one. Peep this:

Jeff gets out a turn FOUR Crosis, the Friggin’ Dragon. Turn four. How?

Space to think and think and think and think and think and think and
still not figure it out:

By saccing a turn three Morgue Toad. So there. Yeah, he won that game.

Funnier thing:

The very next game, Jeff gets out a turn FOUR Crosis, the Bastard Dragon. Yes, the exact same way. But he lost that game because Eugene is @#$%^%$#@$$% BROKEN.

"He is a confident guy."
-Tyson Swigart, after losing to Andrew Johnson.

"Yeah, he’s ‘confident’."
-Scott Teamann and myself in unison.

Puttin’ on The Hood…

Neil Forsythe loves Hooded Kavu. A lot. It’s because of The Hood. Neil will never cast Hooded Kavu on turn three. Why? Because you can’t put on The Hood. He’ll wait until turn four, cast said Hooded One, always leaving one black open to put on The Hood, which is the Kavu’s Fear ability that takes B to activate. Example:

Neil: Cast Hooded Kavu. Go.
Mr. Whoever: I do stuff. Go.
Neil: End of turn, I’m puttin’ on The Hood!

Mr. Whoever: Scorching Lava your Hooded Kavu.
Neil: Wait. (thinks for a few seconds) In response, I’m puttin’ on The Hood!

Quote most often overheard all day:

"I’m puttin’ on The Hood!"
-Virtually everyone

If you don’t think that is about the funniest thing you are likely to read today, go home and try it at your next game. Then you may laugh your ass off with impunity. But be sure to thank Neil.

Check out this absolutely broken assembly:

(Clockwise from front left: Mike Turian (seated), Eugene Harvey, Scott Teamann, Neil Forsythe (seated), Aaron Forsythe, Eric Taylor (snaggin’ some pizza), someone, Ron Manis (wearing hat), Andrew Johnson, Bryan Bandes, Rich Turian.)

The following photo is dedicated to Anthony Alongi and The Ferrett:

(Taken while Aaron was saying "I got a foil Plains for ya’ chiefs – you will respect the power of the PLAINS!")

For the second tourney in a row, bringing out the Fives gathers a hella crowd. It might be time for the East Coast to realize that Five is about the funnest friggin’ format ever invented, and should be played like it’s coming into style, which of course, it is.

But, the only Five decks I know of in Pittsburgh are mine, Aaron Forsythe, and Chas Tressler’s. If you have not yet built a Five, or need more information, check out the official Five-Color Magic page here:


And be sure to bring that fat daddy to the next tournament you play. I have a sneaking suspicion you’ll have a gay old time.

CCGPrime has an interview with the creator, Kurt Hahn, here (http://www.ccgprime.com/feature/inter/kurth.htm) and Kurt’s take on beatdown in Five here. http://www.ccgprime.com/mtg/5c/beats.htm

Do yourself a favor and check it out. You can thank me later. Actually, you can thank Kurt, for his twisted mind yielded the fruits of utter broken-ness.

Side note: I’m pretty sure that Pete has Contract From Below in stock in the singles department. Maybe you should check though. Check early. And often.

‘Tis time for a draft, methinks. And what a draft it was. Who drafts five Bog Down? The same guy that drafts four Lava Zombie, four Sleeping Potion, four Morgue Toad, four Rushing River, and four Cavern Harpy. Although, to be fair, I did see a total of THREE rares the entire draft, even if I didn’t end up with any. Who says rare drafting is dead?

The shame is that I couldn’t stay to pummel some random hapless lad with my pile of "put ’em back and pitch ’em," for the little lady, who, along with both eggs, has been fighting off the Killer Cold From Beyond for the past few days, and rang my cell (that’s street slang technology) asking me to come back and clean up all the friggin’ puke that everyone and their Mother was covered in. Apparently, Linda Blair was down with hanging out in my cribbo.

When I left, everyone else was still in contention. Fair.

Let’s recap:

Number of events entered: 4
Number of matches actually played: 3
Match record for the day: 1-4
Number of foily Greek Prerelease cards I received for my efforts: 3

I am walking, talking technology. Still…

I’m not very good at Magic. Still…

I offer this as a tribute to those who read my columns and take the time to write me:

John Friggin’ Rizzo