The Avatar Of Woe Plays White Cards: PTQ – San Diego

John Rizzo cheating at a PTQ? The Friggin’ One comes clean.

I was browsing through the Star City Limited Tech Center, and noticed that my reports are in there. Isn’t the purpose of having a Tech Center to help or instruct those who would attend tourneys in said formats?

Or, in my case, what not to do. See, I help even when I don’t.

At the Monday draft at Crossroads, I was seated in between two guys who had never drafted before.

First pick: Wild Mongrel

Second pick: Springing Tiger

Third pick: Springing Tiger

Fourth pick: Muscle Burst

Fifth pick: Nantuko Disciple

Sixth pick: Seton’s Desire

And then the bottom dropped out. So much so that I was reduced to starting the 1/2 Text Man. Now, Text Man can block all the dangerous 1/1 guys all the live long day – but he has no text! I have now witnessed both the strength of street knowledge and the bottom dropping out.

And then, at Friday Night Magic (sealed deck), I rediscovered some love and took that tourney off with a deck that I thought blew. Go figure it out.

Magic is weird.

To all of you that think something is wrong with Extended, or Magic in general:

Ain’t a thing wrong with Magic, except that people play it.

Eliminate Extended – are you friggin’ kidding me? While the Block Party idea sounds good in theory, it wouldn’t take long before”broken” things emerged. And then we’d all be right back where we don’t want to be: in a format that is”stagnant” or much too”expensive” or”comboriffic!” I’ll never get tired off the suffix”riffic!” Okay, I just have. Sickoriffic! Get it?”Sick o riffic?”

No wonder Gary Wise hates me.

You wanna get pissed at someone for not being able to beat Trix? Get pissed at the people who play it; don’t get pissed at Wizards for not coming clean and simply banning Force of Will. People play Trix because it’s very good and because it wins. A lot. It’s that simple. But you really shouldn’t get pissed at them.

Take last year’s Full English Breakfast, for example. It came from nowhere – and just like that, it became the new deck to beat. All of a sudden, people rushed to play it – some had no clue, but others figured that bad boy out and had success, just like they did (and will do) with Trix. Maybe this year will see the advent of another crazy combo deck that just runs people over, and if by chance it doesn’t include Force of Will, then we can all quit bitching about Force and lobby for errata or bannings of something completely different.

I’ve heard – and I bet you have as well – a few”ban Fireblast!” sentiments here and there.

Heh, people think Fireblast is broken – nine times out of ten it’s going to cost it’s caster three cards to do four damage. That’s broken?

“Why do people play Trix?” is the real question that needs to be answered. Rather, the question should be stated as”Why do people play the ‘best’ deck?” in whatever format you wish to mention. There are those that will play Trix in Extended after playing Domain in IBC and Fat Crank at States. They probably played Rebels, then Counter-Rebel, then went for NetherHaups when it became the flavor of the month. Those who seek to play the best – and only the best – deck in whatever format are who you should be mad at, but you really shouldn’t be mad at them in the first place. Maybe the second place, but certainly not the first – they use the tools available to them.

Many of us prefer to fashion our own tools and attempt our own experiments in the quest for fire, while others want something else from their tourney experience.

Magic has one flaw: the people. Not all the people, not even most of the people, but enough people that we will be arguing for the banning of Fprce until it finally rotates out.

When you say that”Extended is some stale,” what you might mean is”the more things change the more they stay the same.”

Let’s build an Extended deck with blue…

4x Force of Will

4x Counterspell

4x Accumulated Knowledge

4x Impulse

1-4x Morphling

And then a red one…

4x Mogg Fanatic

4x Ball Lightning

4x Fireblast

4x Incinerate

And then a green one…

4x Llanowar Elves

4x Call of the Herd

4x Wall of Roots

4x Elvish Lyrist

2-4x Spike Feeder

1-2x Spike Weaver

And white…

4x Mother of Runes

4x Soltari Priest

4x Soltari Monk

4x Swords to Plowshares

And finally, black…

4x Duress

Heh; poor black.

Add a few artifacts from a select list…

4x Cursed Scroll

4x Powder Keg

2-4x Masticore

Maybe an emergency Nev’s Disk

A couple Phyrexian Furnaces in the board for flavor

Yeah, maybe it is stagnant. And maybe not. So maybe one can’t build a red deck without automatically throwing in Fanatic, Fireblast, Ball Lightning and Incinerate. Know why? It’s because they are good cards; staple cards. But taking any deck idea you may have and finding a way to incorporate Force and Counterspell does not make it better by default. Ditto for finding a way to squeeze in Duress, Swords, Wall of Roots, or any other card that is always seen with a”4x” preceeding it.

That’s just how it is. And it’s fine like that: 4x Force of Will.

The problem lies with the”best deck” phenomenon. Who seeks out and plays the best deck? Good players? Perennial Top Eighters? People who don’t have the time nor the skill to build their own decks? Yes to all… Sometimes. Those are the people you’re really pissed at, and banning cards or nixing formats is not going to change those who will play the best deck, for there will always be a best deck – or at the very least, a couple of”pretty damned Tier One” decks running around. And they’ll find them.

“I’m pissed at Extended because I don’t want to play Trix, but it seems that if I don’t then I can’t compete!” seems to me to be the main complaint. Well then, don’t play it. Beat ’em or join ’em or quit Magic just to show ’em, but don’t expect to”fix” anything. So long as people with their own ideas play this game, it will not be perfect. Deal with it.

Just walk softly and carry a big binder.

And I can’t even be mad at everyone who’s going to play Trix – it is that damned good. Remember when Mike Kyrzwsksizksiksikzikzszwswswki gave a mono-blue Trix decklist a few months back on the Sideboard? Remember that everyone said he was ass because he thought Sapphire Medallion was good enough acceleration to keep Trix viable?

Dude was all that, a bag of chips, a pound of cashews and a lifetime subscription to”Barely Legal.” Kai and his boyz added a tad o’ red and voila! they’re the boy geniuses, just like Dexter. And no one tips their lid to Mike. Or more accurately, curses him out for putting the”Trix is not dead” idea into everyone’s melons. Funny, ain’t it?

“We don’t train to be merciful in this dojo!”

-The Head Ninja In Charge,”The Karate Kid”

And the guys at that dojo were called the”Cobra Kai.”

Hmm…dojo – The Dojo…Cobra Kai – Kai Budde… Holy piss, I broke Magic.

About a year ago, I wrote that a great Christmas gift for Magic players would be Mark Rosewater-flavored Altoids. I find that so funny that I can’t believe it, even after a year.

Apprentice, while free and usually updated with the newest spoiler within hours of it being leaked to the public, not to mention widely used for tons of fun for everyone, is after all, free. But Wizards is kinda cool too, even if”virtual cards” sounds way too”techy” for such a hayseed as myself.

Pop (he has a real name, but I don’t know what it is, nor do I care, since”Jackal Pop” is a fiend nick) and I drove to Brighton and didn’t even get lost. Okay, we did. Boston is easy to figure out, so long as you have your slide rule and pocket fisherman to help with the math. And two maps.

Wow, does my card pool suck or what? Yes, it does. Here are the red cards from my pool:

Pardic Swordsmith

Spark Mage

Price or Glory


Kamahl’s Desire



Reckless Charge

Flame Burst

Well, that’s almost four mildly playable cards. Sexy.

And the black:

2x Overeager Apprentice

2x Zombie Cannibal

Last Rites

Decaying Soil


Infected Vermin

Filthy Cur

Stalking Bloodsucker

Face of Fear

Morgue Theft

Ghastly Demise

Morbid Hunger

Zombie Assassin

Well, that’s six or seven mildly playable cards. Sexy. In retrospect, splashing the Demise, Assassin, and Morgue Theft might not have been awful, but chief, sup with that Threshold stealing? Okay, the Bloodsucker could’ve got some love too. Okay! Maybe I major black next time! Jeez, quit picking on me.

That left green, white, and blue:

What I built:

Get Yer Money’s Worth.dec

2x Mystic Visionary

Aven Cloudchaser

Blessed Orator

Mystic Zealot

Aven Flock

Resilient Wanderer



Kirtar’s Desire

2x Nantuko Disciple

Gorilla Titan

Rabid Elephant

Krosan Avenger

Krosan Archer

Muscle Burst

2x Refresh

Seton’s Desire

Otarian Juggernaut

Aether Burst


8x Plains

7x Forest

2x Seafloor Debris

Abandoned Outpost

That’s ugly just to look at. It has”extra turns” written all over it. The color white should be renamed”Prolong.”

I learned my lesson from last week’s 5/5/5 land distribution, and just in case I didn’t, red and black were thick enough that I couldn’t splash any bombs, but thin enough that I couldn’t major them. Nice. That means white cards, which I hate because they have no way to win, just stall into the five turns of love.

58 dudes/ 6 rounds

Fifty-eight dudes? What the? Okay, fifty-six dudes and two chyx, one of which was Jill”Extende-babe.” I’m not sure, but that seems like a crap-ass turnout for a PTQ that feeds to a continental Pro Tour.

“How’s your deck?” a few queried.

“It sucks!” I bellowed, like a fiend.

Suspense ender: I did not win the PTQ. Whew, close one, huh?

I’d much rather be the guy trying to find a way to push through a few points than be the guy who’s setting up the wall of big, dumb, stupid fat-assed dudes that do nothing but bore everyone to death within a fifty-foot vicinity.





Abridged version:

In the first round, I was paired against Ray Robillard, who thought Nantuko Mentor, Dirty Wererat, Frenetic Ogre and Werebear were good times against my stupid wall guys. They were sexy times for him… But in the second game, my dumb wally guys handled double Roar of the Wurm, and all of the above bad boys, which resulted in a draw. How does a deck with virtually no removal deal with two 6/6 fatties? I forget, but I think I probably cheated. A lot.

The third game was… Heh, what part of”I’m playing with white cards” did you not understand?

Man, I hate my deck, and Ray is probably still wondering how he couldn’t beat my head in with his endless array of fatties.

0-0-1 Whatever

Pop comes over to watch my match, since he forgot to register his lands and was treated to a match loss.

Mike Sigrist is all about saccing all his lands to Phantatog after Seton’s Desire dropped on one of his dumb dudes. Man, I wish I had Moment’s Peace for that very violent moment. He did like twenty-three damage with a friggin’ Hallowed Healer and Phantatog. That’s unfair. And they’re both white. ‘Sup with that?

In the second game, Mike fails to draw any burn to finish me while I was at two for about six turns. I hit him with a Desired Gorilla Titan until he could take no more. My walls were as annoying to me as they were to Mike.

Five minutes left for the third game – that’s enough time for real decks to win, but not white. I drop Outpost, Plains, Mystic Visionary, then next turn drop a Plains and plant a Desire on the Visionary and smash. Funny thing: During the extra turns, I had six Plains in play, and the Outpost was still there. Apparently, I didn’t sac it when I played the Desire, and neither I nor Mike noticed it. But the other ten guys watching the match certainly did, although no one said anything until the match was over, which ended with Mike being unable to kill me.

After the judges took the match slip up to record it, Pop turned to me and said,”nice job with that Desire.”

I was hella confused, and after about a minute, Jackal Pop convinced me that I hadn’t sacced the Outpost; hence, I had an extra land in play which could have (and would have) made the outcome of the match a lot different. I turned to one of Mike’s buddies for corroboration, since I really couldn’t believe that Mike and I would have missed such an obvious gaffe, and Pop’s story was echoed.

Wow, that sucks.

I went up to the very British judge, told him what happened and asked if he could change the draw to a victory for Mike. After some hemming and hawing a few references to Benny Hill, Dave Allen, and a few other British”comics” of Seventies late-night TV fame, he told me that it was too late to change the result and the match result would stand. We were the last match playing, and I went to the judge no more than two minutes after they took the match slip up to record it. Apparently, it wasn’t quick enough, and I felt like a scum-sucking pig.

I apologized to Mike, who seemed to take it in stride, but I, Johnny Moral Quandary, didn’t.

How the hell do cheaters live with themselves? An accidental misplay, unnoticed by both players, results in”good” times for one and the feeling of being shafted for the other. Indeed, I felt like a great, big jagoff.

Note to anyone who ever plays against me in the future:

Watch me closely. Not only do I suck at Magic, but apparently, I’m a subconscious cheater too.

Needless to say, I wasn’t at the top of my game (which is more like a plateau that settles right around”sucky player”) after that moment or two or introspection.

0-0-2 At this point, it appears that I am out of contention – at least, it seems I can no longer draw into the Top Eight. And I thought today was my day of going to get pizza whilst others actually had to *Gasp!* play.

“Why do you bother to write a report when you suck so bad?”

Because I was dropped on my infant as a head.

I guess it’s time to face AndyStok. Yeah, welcome to your druthers.

Andy Peeks early, writes down my hand and is Johnny Bookkeeper for the rest of the match. Whenever the last card on his list was crossed off, he cast Scrivener and got back a little Peek. While he was dropping fatties out his wazoo, I was dropping walls and doing what white does so well: Not lose. It doesn’t win, it simply finds ways to not lose, at least for a while.

The Peek/A Pen And A Pad combo is broken.

When Andy got sick of doing math, he dropped Chainflinger and brought it to my dizome with the sickness.

In game two, it’s more of the same. We each had about eight creatures out, with him being unable to make a dent in my, um,”armor.” As before, he gets sick of doing math and waits for his gamewinner, which eventually showed up in the form of Leafdancer times two. However, I made one last attack and got Andy down to ten. I was so happy to halve his life total, especially since I was also able to do so in the first game.

I got AndyStok down to ten in two consecutive games, and that is good times.

0-1-2 Purty, ain’t it?

Who goes 0-1-2? And stays in? And write a report? And sends it in?

Round four, and Eric Krasnauskas feels the wrath of my walls that attack. He had his combo running: Malevolent Awakening, Gravedigger, Frightcrawler, and Barbarian Lunatic were bouncing in and out of his yard so fast that it was hard to keep up. And it was annoying as all hell, since Frightcrawler did at least ten to me. However, my guys eventually started to fly, and double Nantuko Disciple was fattening them up with the quickness.

Game two saw me hit the”aggressive” curve of turn 2 Visionary, turn 3 Avenger, turn 4 Disciple, turn 5 Rabid Elephant. Eric dropped Painbringer, and eventually started taking huge chunks out of my guys, which was annoying until I drew Resilient Wanderer, which is white’s only way to win: Pitch two cards for pro green and pro black and send. Wow, white is annoying.

1-1-2 That doesn’t even look right.

Mouth beats me in round five, at least in the first game. He has double-Beast Attack, Springing Tiger, Wild Mongrel to my stupid walls of prolongation, which eventually expire.

Game two looked awful for me until I was able to get active double Disciple, which allowed my guys to dwarf his and eventually serve for the win. I was almost ready to scoop ’em up when I figured I’d give myself one more draw step: It revealed Moment’s Peace, which sucked me into the well-known last words:”Well, I got myself another two turns, might as well try to, well, mise.”

Game three was all about my topdecked Kirtar’s Desire and whom should be the one to wear said enchantment. On one hand, Mouth has a Metamorphic Wurm, kicking it as a 7/7, and the other shows me a Thresholded Krosan Avenger with a Seton’s Desire. Of course, you know which one Johnny chose.

Needless to say, I was much impressed with the way a regenerating 5/3 Lure guy tore through my army. Mark that one up to”Okay, I’ve seen it, now the next time I catch a glimpse of the same crap happening, maybe I’ll make the right play.”

1-2-2 Isn’t that a daisy?

Well, 2-2-2 isn’t so bad, is it? Sure, Johnny, get them hopes up.

In the last round, I see that I’m facing Leslie Turek. Great; I’m 0-2-1 lifetime vs. females, and this is how I’m gonna go out?

Apparently so. In the first game, I mulligan and stall on three lands whilst Leslie kicks me in the grille with two Elephant Ambushes and a Childhood Horror wearing a Desire.

In game two, Leslie drops a turn 2 Werebear, turn 3 Finkel, turn 4 Ambush, turn 5 Ambush, turn 6 kill your guy, turn 7 Ambush again, and turn 8 Ambush again. I was stuck on three lands again and could only hope to topdeck three lands and a Kirtar’s Wrath. Bea. Ting.

I am now 0-3-1 lifetime vs. chyx. And 0-3 lifetime vs/ the TeamAcademy Linebacker Corps doods.

1-3-2 Oh my. That doesn’t even look like match record – it looks more like a freakin’ lottery number. Fifty cents straight, fifty cents boxed for the week.

How depressing. Pop ended up 3-3, some guy won the event and is searching Priceline.com at this very moment, and I realized that I really hate playing white in Limited. Oh, I already knew that.

At least I was able to steal Jill’s Extended Junk decklist.

And that makes it all worthwhile, especially since I might even get to play one whole Extended PTQ this season. But more on that in a future article that promises to be filled to the brim with dreadful decklists that may or may not have been lifted directly from Jat Schneider’s C: drive. Or maybe JMS’s. Or maybe a random kitchen table in Pittsburgh, PA.

Record at PTQs when listening to System of a Down the entire drive down: 5-6-2. Maybe next time I’ll pop in the Britney CD (no, not the new one, she’s”sold out” with her”adult” music LOL!).

And then I’ll be stronger than yesterday. Hells, can’t be much weaker than 1-3-2.

“I went 1-3 in Omaha, then scrubbed out of a side event, and only John Friggin’ Rizzo could turn a day like that into a report.”

Aaron”Darth” Hauptmann

I am the Avatar of Woe.

Yeah, but did you stop to consider how hard it is to turn a 1-3-2 day into a report, chief? And why is it that no one bothers to write a report unless they a) win, b) make Top Eight, or c) play in a high profile event (PT or GP)? There is very little technology to be gleaned from a report, except for the Top Eight decklists; why does anyone even bother?

Well, cause it’s fun.

John Friggin’ Rizzo

Bonus technology: What not to play in Extended.

1) Lion’s Eye Diamond.

2) See above.