The Black Perspective: A Little Ham And Eggs Comin’ At Ya!

Is it just me, or are there a lot of issues spiraling around the Magic community recently? From lawsuits to cheating accusations, Magic is a hotbed of excitement, and I figured now was a good time to start writing again. However, the problem with all of the issues taking place is that they can all be summed up in one or two paragraphs, and I won’t get paid for that. Instead, I decided to write about my experiences at Grand Prix Richmond, and tell you what I learned.

Is it just me, or are there a lot of issues spiraling around the Magic community recently? From lawsuits to cheating accusations, Magic is a hotbed of excitement, and I figured now was a good time to start writing again. However, the problem with all of the issues taking place is that they can all be summed up in one or two paragraphs, and I won’t get paid for that. Although the lawsuit by Wizards of the Coast against rancored_elf and the rest of the MTGSalvation.com crew is one of the biggest legal battles the Magic community has seen since Randy Buehler sued the makers of Kool-Aid for using his image as their corporate logo, I couldn’t get an entire article out of it. So instead, I decided to write about my experiences at Grand Prix Richmond this past weekend, and tell you what I learned.

We tried to draft as much as we could in NJ before the Grand Prix, to try and familiarize ourselves with Guildpact. There is a pretty big and awesome Magic community in NJ so it was easy to get six to eight people to come over my place and draft several times a week. Our Drafts were pretty solid too, we had experienced pros like Craig Krempels, to up and coming stars like Jon Fiorillo and Phil Napoli, to newcomers on the scene like Mario Mellillo, Raj the Indian dude, and Chad Kastelton Steel. Most of you probably don’t know who Chad is, but if you saw him at an event you would remember him because he’s the only man on the planet who wears UGG boots. The good thing about Chad is that he is going to be on my flight to Hawaii and promised to do Air-troductions with me. Air-troductions is something that the one and only Jon Finkel turned me onto. All you do is go to their website at www.airtroductions.com and enter your flight information. Then, they set you up with a date that is also on your flight. You’d be surprised how often you get a match. I was surprised how many Magic professionals actually use this service, but considering how much flying we do I guess it makes sense. Check out these testimonials from their website . . .

“I love Air-troductions, I use it every time I travel. It’s tres-magnific!” – Gabriel Nassif

“I met my wife Kate on a flight to Nationals two years ago, thank you Air-troductions!” – Pat Sullivan

The main things I learned from the drafts we did at my place were that I really wanted to be Green/White/Black or Blue/Black/Red, and nothing else. I guess I would’ve settled for Red/White/Blue, but that was so over-drafted at my place that I couldn’t get it to be good. The Grand Prix that took place a week prior to the event did not have Guildpact, so it wasn’t clear what people would want to draft.

Since we’re on the topic of the European Grand Prix, I would like to congratulate Sam Gomersall on his win. It was quite impressive considering how dumb Sam is. Example . . . the shower in Sam’s apartment has been broken for the past month, and rather than go through the effort involved in fixing it, Sam just joined a gym so he could use their shower. One benefit is that Sam appears to be working on his lats and blasting his quads while he’s there.

It’s only a five hour drive to beautiful Virginia from my house, so I managed to hitch a ride. Our car included rising star and strip club aficionado Alex Lieberman, Pro Tour Qualifier regular Dave Irvine, Vs System specialist Ryan Lockhart, and my friend and teammate Gerard Fabiano.

My name is Sara Goldfarb and I’m gonna be on television!

A few weeks ago Gerard Fabiano and I applied for the Amazing Race. We made an audition tape wearing matching powder blue jump suits running all around Brooklyn. We’re fairly confident in our chances to get onto the show. Make sure you watch!

The Grand Prix itself

The usual cast of characters was on hand, which made me think the weekend would be somewhat enjoyable. In addition to the American pros, two Dutchies and four Japanese players made the trip. PT LA finalist Billy Moreno was in attendance, but he must have thought the format for day 1 was a costume contest because he came dressed as an extra from Three’s Company. Sadly, even in that format Billy couldn’t muster up a good enough record for day 2; he was seen drinking Pina Coladas at the Regal Beagle with Jack and the girls.

Please lord, kill me now

I won’t go into the details about my Sealed Deck because unless they have bombs (which I had none) they all seem the same to me. I did have a Sisters of Stone Death somewhere in my card pool, but we’ll get into that a little later. Surprise, surprise I was playing Forests in my Sealed Deck. Rounds 1 through 3 involved me watching Just Friends on hotel on-demand. In hindsight, I would’ve preferred playing.

Round 4: National Champion Antonio DeRosa
Oooooooooooooooo . . . First round action and already I’m in the hot seat. I knew Antonio’s deck was pretty poor, so I wasn’t too nervous. He only played five spells against me the entire match. I felt bad for him because we both knew it would be an uphill battle for him to make day 2. He did fail to make day 2 and things kept getting worse for our poor champ on Sunday. Antonio played in the Legacy tournament for forty duals, and kept drawing with his Landstill deck. When he was about to get his third draw against his opponent Jack Elgin, he was actually in a winning position. So rather than accept the draw, Antonio asked Jack if he would be willing to concede, considering he was obviously in a winning position. Jack replied to Ant’s request with this spicy number:

“I don’t have to concede to you just because your face is on a card”- Jack Elgin

Ouch! The beats didn’t end there though. Later in the day, after Jack had left the site he had phoned one of his friends who were still in attendance. He asked to speak to Antonio but Antonio refused. Jack then called Antonio a fat idiot and hung up. I don’t understand some of you Legacy players sometimes, but I’ll get into that a little later.

Antonio ended the tournament 2-0-3.

Round 5: Phillip J. Napoli
Phil is one of the nicest and coolest people I know. He’s been a friend of mine for some time now, and I didn’t want to play him this early in the tournament, especially since I wanted him to do better than me. If you don’t know what Phil looks like, picture a cross between a giant meatball and an even bigger meatball.

In game 1 I drew my opening hand and noticed that it had a Necroplasm in it. This would be cool, if Necroplasm wasn’t in my sideboard. That’s right, I forgot to de-sideboard. I concede immediately and move onto game 2. Game 2 was very close, but I eventually succumbed to the will of a giant bat that kept making more bats. I didn’t even know that rare existed, and refuse to say its name even now.

Round 6: Tony Gregg
This match was standard affair. I get lucky game 1, and game 2 and 3 are decided by bombs. I lose to Ursapine in game 2 and the Sisters take him down in game 3. Cool!

Who Let The Dogs Out?

Round 7: Mike Churchill
I saw Mike talking to an upstate NY Magic player I recognized, so I thought this match could go either way. Basically, everyone from upstate NY is good at Magic for about three months out of the year; I just wasn’t sure which part of the cycle he was on. Mike seemed to be a very good man, and was actually a pleasure to play against. Tolsimir Wolfblood, however, is not a good man: in fact, he’s a scumbag. The dude and his dog manage to take me down in two of the three.

Round 8: Charbel
Charbel is a homeboy from North Jersey, and he’s a fine Magic player. This weekend, however, he seemed to have left his A-Game back in Jersey. You see, Charbel registered a pretty solid deck with a lot of strong Blue cards, but he forgot to add Islands. Game 1 involved him sacrificing a Wild Cantor for a Blue so he could cast Telling Time and then proceeded to lose.

Game 2 was somewhat more of a challenge, but the Sisters once again managed to win it for me.

An interesting side note on the Sisters of Stone Death, she was in my sideboard.

“Hi my name is Osyp Lebedowicz; my heroes include Alfred Hitchcock, Jack Bauer, and anyone who uses air quotes. I enjoy watching television and movies and am an active dancer. When it comes to Limited, I am Japanese.”

After day one of a Grand Prix is over, myself and Jon Fiorillo always hit the town to see what the local nightlife has to offer. I’ve had good experiences in the past with southern girls so I was excited, but this time I was a little scared. The girls we were running into at the beginning of the night left much to be desired. I expected Dick Tracy to pop out at any moment and start arresting some of these characters*. Melted Face and Purple Eye were two of my favorite ladies of the evening. Things started to pick up later that night, and a good time was had by all.

Day 2

I’ll have to admit that I wasn’t too excited at the idea of Drafting. I am not a good Drafter, and I actually hate doing it. You’ll never seem me doing any Side Drafts or anything, and I’m never on Magic Online. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how I did.

The only people I recognized at my first Draft table were Jamie Park, Gadiel Szleifer, and Adam Horvath. Adam was sitting to my right and is a good friend of mine, so I was sure he wouldn’t screw me over this draft. I knew that Adam would likely force Blue/Black, so I decided to stay away from that color combination unless I saw a clear signal to do otherwise. In pack one, my first pick was between a Peel from Reality, Trophy Hunter, and a Selesnya Evangel. Normally I would take the Peel from Reality. However, I knew Adam would go Blue, so I decided to go for one of the Green cards. Both are strong, but I ended up taking the Evangel, and hoped I could cut the rest of the Green off. I did just that, but it wasn’t enough to get the guy to my left out of Green as I quickly noticed in pack two. Like I said earlier, I was happy with Green/White/Black, and was hoping to get some solid picks in pack three, however if Adam decided to go into Blue/Black/White instead of Blue/Black/Red I was in serious trouble. I had shipped Adam some descent Red cards in pack two, and considering how good Blue/Black/Red is I thought I had a good shot at not getting screwed. Sadly, that’s not what happened. My picks in pack three suffered a lot.

My deck was decent but was lacking enough playables, so I was forced to play one more land than I would’ve liked.

Round 9: Gadiel Szleifer
Gadiel was seated on the opposite side of the table from me, so I wasn’t sure how good his deck was. In game 1 I couldn’t get any Black mana, so my removal was left resting gently in my hand like a newborn infant. Game 2 was a much more embarrassing affair.

We’re in a situation we’re I have a couple of flyers and he has a couple of ground creatures. The race is pretty close to even when he decides to play Gleancrawler. I’m not too worried, because I have a couple of random dorks so I think I can still control the race. He attacks with his Gleancrawler and I chump block with one of my 1/1 tokens.

Webter defines chump block as…

Chump Block — v; chump-block; to use a creature to defend against an attacking creature for the sole purposes of absorbing all the damage.
I chump blocked the Kokusho with my Birds of Paradise.

It was at this point in the attack that Gadiel informs me that he will be trampling over the token for five points of damage. I sit up straight and glance over at the Gleancrawler. I notice the artwork, check out the creature type “Insect Horror huh, cool”. I then check out the rules text. Trample.

Yeah of course, I take five, that’s fine. On the outside I’m cool and collected; I act as though this was all part of some master plan. On the inside though… well, here’s an excerpt from the transcript of my inner monologue:

Oh God, Gleancrawler has TRAMPLE?! Jesus, that’s so much damage! Is the room spinning? Why is it so hot in here? Trample… really? What did I do? Did he notice? Alright, alright, it’s just a little dirty, it’s still good, it’s still good.

Had I noticed the trample before I blocked I still would’ve lost, but it was an embarrassing incident regardless. After I lost the match I shook Gadiel’s hand and wished him good luck for the rest of the tournament.

“Alright Gadiel, good luck next round.”
“Yeah whatever, you got so lucky. I should’ve won if I just drew anything decent. God I can’t believe how bad you are.”
“Gadiel, you did win the match. Remember, I lost in two straight games.”
“Oh yeah, whatever.”


Round 10: Scott Britstock
I knew this match was going to be tough because he was wearing a Vote for Pedro t-shirt. I don’t really remember the details of the match. I did manage to win though.

Round 11: Adam Horvath
Adam was Blue/Black/White as expected, and had all the good cards I would’ve liked. I couldn’t deal with his flyers in either one of the games and it was a pretty lopsided affair.

I only recognized Shuhei Nakamura and Mike Churchill at my second table. I drafted a much better deck this time around. I was Black/Green in the first two packs and picked up some strong Black/White picks in Guildpact.

Round 12: Shuhei Nakamura
This match was probably the most frustrating match I played all weekend, because it knocked me out of the money in a pretty dumb way. Both times I lost I was way ahead, and he would wrath away all of my creatures and leave all of his tokens in play. I really couldn’t do anything about that card and it was a fitting capper to a terrific weekend.

I won my last two rounds, but it was irrelevant as I was couldn’t make Top 32 with five losses.

Legacy players

There was a Legacy tournament on Sunday, and the top prize was one hundred dual lands; a hefty prize, to say the least. Of the pros in attendance, only one managed to make the Top 8 of the tournament, Eugene Levin. Eugene did so playing Goblins, with four mountains in his sideboard as well as a random Char because he couldn’t find any extra cards. Eugene came here from Russia, barefoot and penniless, and managed to turn that into a mildly respectable career as a professional Magic player. Eugene is pretty dumb, but he’s a nice kid. So I was a little upset with what a dick his finals opponent was being. The kids name was David Gearhardt and I’m sure you all know he won the tournament playing Solidarity. Now, I didn’t mind the fact that he was wearing name tag on the side of his hat that said “Hello, My name is David.” I also didn’t mind that his whole team was sitting behind him talking about how they define the Legacy meta-game. I even let the fact that one of his friends was wearing a t-shirt that said “Don’t let the MAN – ADRAIN get you down!” But when he slow rolled my friend in the finals simply to show off for his friends, I had enough. I did some research after the GP and found this little gem in the forums on StarCityGames.com:

Post by Evil Roopey 2/7/06

Solidarity got its name like this:

Matt Elgin was playing in an 8th Edition Draft. He was playing a U/W weenie deck full of 1/1s. He crushes his opponent game 1, the entire time his opponent is bragging about how he is going to bring in Nausea to own Matt. Matt is trying to think if he has an answer in his sideboard, and he finds Solidarity. He is crushing his opponent again, when he finally finds his Nausea. He casts it and in response Matt plays Solidarity saving all of his dudes. Him and David Gearhart, who was watching the game, jump up and down yelling “Solidarity, Solidarity.” Then David said that he was going to name his next deck after the situation, and it just so happened to be the High Tide deck you are all familiar with. A couple months later, I came out with a Tendrils deck. I decided that Nausea would be a good name to contradict Solidarity. What’s even funnier is at the time Solidarity was the only deck Nausea lost to. Then Gro came along, but that’s not part of the story. Nausea is named Nausea for a reason. Let it be.


Ignoring the complete absurdity of this post, look at who it’s about… Matt Elgin: the brother of Jack Elgin, the same guy from before. I can’t say I’m surprised that this is all connected in some way. I love Magic players, but I think the actions of these two were uncalled for, and made all Magic players look bad. So without further ado . . .

The Hans Joachim Hoeh Creep of the Week Award goes to:
David Gearhardt and Jack Elgin

Don’t feel too bad boys, previous winners of this award include Josh Ravitz, Gerry Thompson, Rich Hoaen, Morgan Douglass, and even yours truly.

Before I leave you I would like to issue this statement.

An Open Letter to the Vintage Magic Community

As many of you have probably read in previous interviews on this site, I’ve been dabbling with Type 1, and playing in some of the New Jersey-area’s unsanctioned Vintage tournaments. I’ve been doing quite well (not really, but hey who’s judging) so when I read about the Randy Buehler’s open letter to the Vintage Magic community, I myself became jealous. Now Star City has gone and put two “Power Nine” tournaments on the same weekend and I suddenly find myself eager to attend.

I too am making the trip to Richmond for the Star City “Power Nine” weekend on March 18-19!

Of course, I’m not one to do things halfway, so I’m going to raise the stakes on myself a little bit and hopefully make things even more fun. I fully expect to walk away from Richmond owning at least one more piece of power than I do now. In fact, I *guarantee* that I will make the Top 8 in at least one of these two events. I’m backing up my guarantee too — anybody who beats me in the Swiss of either event gets a free Draft set. That’s right, a free Draft set. Not only that, I’m so confident that I’ll rock the Kasbah that I’m willing to bet no one can even do a point of damage to me. So if you manage to even damage me that weekend I’ll personally buy you an ice cream cone. That’s right, an ice cream cone. But the deal doesn’t end there. I’m so confident in my ability to eat ice cream, that if anyone is able to finish eating their ice cream cone faster than me I’ll buy them an additional ice cream cone.

I’ll also take on all comers in Two-Headed Giant, Legacy, Standard, Arm-Wrestling, and Jenga. Same deal.

See you guys in Richmond!
Osyp Lebedowicz

Until next time…
Osyp “Joe Black” Lebedowicz

*Props to my man Jeff Cunningham.