Understanding In A MODO Crash: Water Over Wine

The title of this article does not make any sense until you get to the portion of the article that’s not even really part of the article. So please bear with me. This week, we’ll be exploring Onslaught red and green cards whose values fluctuate depending on your deck: How many Goblins do you need before you can play Airdrop Condor or Reckless One? How many elves do you need before you can play Wirewood Pride, Voice of the Woods, or Heedless One?

The title of this article does not make any sense until you get to the portion of the article that’s not even really part of the article. So please bear with me.

This week, we’ll be exploring Onslaught red and green cards whose values fluctuate depending on your deck. But first, I need to address something from last article. As many of you told me, Gustcloak Harrier does not sail past Keeneye Aven no matter how many Shared Triumphs are in play. I felt like Peter at the beginning of Office Space.”Did you get that memo?” I guess that’ll teach me to be more careful in the future.

Airdrop Condor

This card, also known as the Joydrop Condor, falls into the realm of Cards I Have an Unhealthy Affinity For (dangling participle; stet). This is because I end up playing it when I only have twenty-one other playables in my green/red decks and its graceful beak usually soars over opposing defenses for eight or so damage. Needless to say, this actually becomes maindeck-worthy if you have an abundance of goblins to fling at other creatures – or perhaps your opponent. There’s no greater feeling than sacrificing a Skirk Marauder after combat to kill yet another morph, or Flinging a Taskmastered or Burrowed goblin at your opponent’s dome for the last embarrassing points of damage. Except for maybe eating an entire pint of Chunky Monkey. Take this as early as 5th or 6th, depending on the pack, usually more like 9th.

Minimum goblins to play Joydrop Condor: 0

Ideal number of goblins to play Joydrop: 5 or more

Crown of Fury

Many people have been singing this card’s praises in recent months with the introduction of provoke, and rightfully so. With less removal in the format, there’s less chance your opponent will be able to two-for-one you before you get the engine running. And once you have a first-striking provoker on the board, especially with some sort of pump or prevention backup, your opponent is unlikely to recover. It’s a two-card combo that closely approximates a pain-free Sparksmith. Also good with Skirk Commando or Cabal Executioner; these are considered provokers in the count below. Take this around 8th pick. In retrospect, this seems to be a common thread among these cards that are marginal in some decks and excellent in others.

Minimum provokers to play Crown: 1

Ideal number of provokers to play Crown: 3 or more

Lightning Rift

This one was covered in Ask the Pros on the Sideboard, so there’s not much need to go over it here. We all know that the card is moronically easy to play. It’s playable with as few as five cyclers, but insane with seven or more. Blah blah etc.

Reckless One

The goblin deck is difficult to draft as a tribal strategy, since a lot of the goblins are quite weak on their own. Because of that, there’s usually a card that makes more sense in your deck than any given goblin you see unless you have Sparksmith. Plus, other people have Sparksmiths and will be taking goblins higher than you.

An interesting strategy has emerged, however, to simply force a red/black aggressive deck with goblins as the base. Other than that, rare will be the situation when you have enough goblins to play this. More often than not, though, if you can play this card as a 3/3 on a consistent basis, your deck is probably ridiculous. In one online draft, I curved out nicely with a turn 1 goblin, turn 2 Sparksmith, turn 3 Goblin Sky Raider (not usually recommended), and this turn 4.

I’m getting long-winded, so to summarize – if you happen to have a lot of goblins and see this tenth or later, take it and think about playing it. I’m still not entirely sure when to start forcing goblins, barring double Sparksmith, so let me know if you have any insight into that.

Minimum other goblins to play Reckless One: 8

Ideal number of other goblins to play Reckless One: 10 or more

Spurred Wolverine

The card of a desperate man, I would only play this card if I had two or more Wirewood Savages. It really eases the pain that you just spent five mana for two toughness if you get to draw a card. And should you decide to keep reading this article after the warning below, you’ll see that its ability can actually come in handy.

Thunder of Hooves

This card is simply masterful in red/green. You can take it as early as 6th if you feel you’ll have enough beasts. If you get it 11th-12th and you think you’re going to play it, well, mise tings beats and d infi g. One problem with this card, of course, is that you need at least one beast, possibly two, in play for this to have an appreciable effect. And yes, this counts your opponent’s beasts too, much like Shared Triumph gives opposing creatures of the chosen type +1/+1. So, yeah, in the right deck this Wrath of Gods your opponent while leaving you with giant stupid monsters. It could sorta be considered a”win more” card, but it can also be a reset button. Also, if your opponent is threatening to win the game with fliers in a turn or two, this can pull out a surprise victory by clearing away all the blockers for a huge attack.

Minimum beasts to play Thunder: 6

Ideal number of beasts to play Thunder: 9 or more

Wave of Indifference

Another red/green card. If you don’t have Erratic Explosions or any good way to break through a solid Cleric defense or a mirror match, you should definitely consider maindecking one. This is definitely not necessary for all red/green decks, though; if you draft plenty of removal or a Timberwatch Elf or two, you should be all set.

Elvish Vanguard

Sort of like an amplify guy, there’s really not much to say about the Vanguard. Good in a tribal deck, putrid otherwise. As usual, don’t take this earlier than 7th. Because this is rare, you’re less likely to have it for your deck than a Heedless One because of shameless raredrafters. It’s worse than Heedless One anyway, in my opinion. The Heedless One tramples and doesn’t need to come out on turn 2 to be optimized, but it is susceptible to being Crown of Suspicioned. This isn’t the case as much as it used to be with more 2+ toughness elves, but I should probably be saving this discussion for Heedless One.

Minimum other elves to play Vanguard: 7

Ideal number of other elves to play Vanguard: 10 or more

Heedless One

Much of what was said about Vanguard applies to Heedless One, right down to the numbers necessary to run it. Elf decks can be very nice when you’re swinging for twelve with a Timberwatched One.

Invigorating Boon

Comparable with Astral Slide, obviously. Much of what I said about forcing cyclers applies here as well, although Boon’s effect is even less powerful than Slide’s. A fine sideboard card against opposing Lightning Rifts, since they’re likely to draw a bunch of cyclers even if they don’t get the rift itself. Combat tricks are nice, especially when you get to draw a card. You can expect to get these around 10th pick. Nice with Taunting Elf.

Minimum cyclers to maindeck Boon: 6

Ideal number of cyclers to maindeck Boon: 7 or more

Kamahl’s Summons

You know, to be quite honest with you, I have no idea when this is good. Aaron Breider claims to be 12-0 in drafts (I don’t know if this means actual drafts or simply matches therein) where he’s played this card, but some of his drafting ideas are pretty far out there. The man just top 4ed a GP, though. This could be, for lack of a better analogy since I haven’t read a book since High School, like the Indian chief’s bow in Maverick, where it works like a charm for him but is painful when anyone else tries to use it.

What an incredibly masterful analogy. Actually, it wasn’t that bad, but it was poorly executed, and a random poker movie that isn’t even really about poker may not be the best source for an Intelligent Literary Allusion.

Taunting Elf

You probably don’t want to play this maindeck unless your card pool is a little lacking. It makes an okay way to break through opposing defenses, but it’s vulnerable to just about everything: Gravel Slinger, cycled Solar Blast, and so on. The only time you’d actually be happy to play this main is if you have a lot of creature pump, especially Timberwatch Elf or Primal Boost, or a need for one last elf to make your tribe reach its maximum power. Don’t take this before 9th.

Voice of the Woods

Another of my pet cards, this is one of the most powerful situational cards if the proper criteria are met. In a recent draft, I actually got one of these 11th first pack, then one 10th second pack. Unfortunately, I didn’t really have enough elves to make them work and tried to play Defiant Elf to make up for my deficit. I did not make the finals in that draft. It’s generally a bad strategy to play awful cards to make other cards in your deck Slightly Less Bad. I took Defiant Elf over something decent like Shaleskin Plower, which is very bad – but I figured with two Voices, it would be worth the sacrifice. When you play this card against a red or black opponent, if at all possible, wait until you have four untapped elves in play. You always want to get at least one Elemental out of this pap. If you have a Herald, this card gets better, needless to say.

Under optimum conditions, this card is a bomb, so I have no qualms taking it first pick (second pack; I wouldn’t recommend taking this first overall unless the pack is weak). Evidently, it might take a full lap around the table nowadays, so who knows?

Minimum other elves to play Voice: 8

Ideal number of other elves to play Voice: 10 or more

Weird Harvest

I’d only play this card if I”somehow” also had Rorix and Butcher Orgg.

Wirewood Pride

Combat tricks are still very good. Even a +1/+1 out of this makes it worthwhile.

Minimum elves to play Pride: 5

Ideal number of elves to play Pride: 8 or more

I’ll conclude with a brief statement about when to play each of the tribal lands.

Contested Cliffs

If you see it, take it, play it, win with it. If it’s second pack, you may have to pass it, which sucks. With a card this good, force beasts. I might play this with as few as three beasts if I had to, but the more the berrier.

Daru Encampment

As long as it doesn’t hurt your mana, which shouldn’t be the case too often in a predominantly white deck, play it. I guess six soldiers or so should be the minimum.

Goblin Burrows

Best with flying Mistforms in blue/red, I probably wouldn’t run this in any other color combo unless my mana were breathtakingly beautiful or I had an obscene number of goblins.

Riptide Laboratory

Marginal and expensive, I think the major factor in considering if there’s any chance you should play this card is your mana. Can you afford to have a colorless-producing land in your deck? Is it worth it for this ability? If you have some Imagecrafters or Echo Tracers, this gets better but is still quite expensive.

Seaside Haven


Starlit Sanctum

If you are playing The Cleric Deck (and you should be able to tell if you’re playing The Cleric Deck as opposed to a deck that just happens to have a few clerics in it), this is a nice finisher or a decent way to stay afloat in an emergency. Mana is paramount. If you have double-Profane Prayers in a mostly white deck, you may not be able to swing it.

Unholy Grotto

This ability is rather powerful with strong creatures like Nantuko Husk or with the infamous Gempalm Polluter recursion. It’s likely to get raredrafted before you can nab it for your deck. If it’s in your pile and you have five or more quality Zombies (Skinthinner omg), run it.

Wirewood Lodge

This card is sort of bad. It interferes with Elvish Warrior mana, for instance. I would only play this if I had two Timberwatch Elves, two Wellwishers and a Timberwatch Elf, or somesuch.

Join us next time when we’ll do this for Legions, or maybe go on another draft walkthrough.


Cya real soon…


Why? Because I’m too much of a coward to drive off a bridge like I’ve been plannin’…

WARNING: If you only read my articles to glean whatever information about Limited Magic I might actually successfully provide, you may want to stop here. If you want to read a tale of wacky hijinx that was deemed Too Pointless to Publish when it was initially written, then by all means continue. Don’t act like you have anything better to do than read this, because you don’t, you fat…GERBIL-faced geeks.*

This time, I’m not even going to explain what the title of my article means. To some people, it will be readily apparent at the end of this sentence, as I’ve chosen this sentence to reveal that the article is about a road trip. To others, I’m just gibbering. Well, I’m actually just gibbering to even those people who catch the reference, also. And now I’m gibbering and digressing. And typing sentence fragments.

About a month ago, I decided to visit my friend Matt Rubin in Boston. He had been a few points away from being”on the train” for almost six months, fluctuating between 17 and 18 pro points. I wanted to boost his morale and get him out of the slump he was in. Plus, I wanted to go on a road trip, and I wanted to see my aunt in Philadelphia; unfortunately, the specifics of the rooming arrangements mandated that I’d have to make the trip alone, which leaves room for a lot less hijinx and hilarity. On the plus side, the week of the trip was my spring break, which gave me more time to operate.

Two more brief notes before I begin. First, if it helps to give you a frame of reference,”Day One” is Friday, March 7th. Second, if the rest of this article is bad, by which I mean worse than usual, I blame it on the fact that, for at least part of the time I’m writing it, Joey Bags is blasting his hippie emo crap music, making it hard to concentrate, which could result in some circular logic and incredibly long sentences.

Day One: Cleveland, OH

Armed with nothing but a suitcase, I left Cleveland at around 1:30 in the afternoon. The majority of the trip went off without a hitch, and the time passed rather quickly thanks to modern rock radio and some mix tapes.

Yes, I said”tapes.” I think mine is the only 2002 automobile that was not built with a CD player. I drive a Dodge Stratus!**

Matt and I arranged for me to call him from a rest stop fifteen minutes away from his dorm so he could meet me out front to move my belongings to his room. However, when I tried to call him from said rest stop, I realized that you cannot call cell phones from pay phones. Not good.

I decided to get back in the car and try to mise, for lack of a better word. I saw a parking garage as I got off the exit onto Matt’s street, so I parked and walked. The walk ended up being over twenty minutes in the freezing cold, plus I was sick at the time, so I was naturally hoping that I could somehow get into the dorm once I arrived there.

I entered the building, and there was a Jamaican doorman. I explained my situation, realizing that he probably wasn’t allowed to give me room or phone numbers of students. I asked if he would simply call Matt’s room and ask him to come down, but he claimed not to have the number to the room. I also had left Matt’s cell phone number in the car for God knows what reason.

So I stayed in the lobby for a bit. I never tried to sneak in, even though I probably could have, which incidentally proves the futility of having a doorman in the first place. I tried asking some of the entering students if they knew who Matt Rubin was, but none of them did, because leaving the room is apparently not high on Matt’s list of priorities.

I pleaded with the doorman some more, trying to appeal to his human sympathy, but I discovered that he had none. Bureaucracy triumphs over compassion yet again. All this idiot knew was protocol. Not unlike Vicki from my escapade in Detroit several weeks prior. I wish people weren’t so dumb. Of course, I was the retard who didn’t bother to take Matt’s phone number with me; the doorman had offered to let me use a phone to call him.

I lingered around awhile longer, then finally I went up to the doorman and said,”Look. I’m sick, it’s really cold out, and I’m parked twenty minutes from here. If I walk all the way over and all the way back to get the phone number, do you promise to let me use your phone?”

To which he replied, in a quite congenial tone,”Of course, mon,” or something like that. The very nerve.

It seems as though I’m starting to ramble, so I’ll just give a brief summary of the next hour: I walked back to my car; I paid $15.00 for parking there for a little over an hour; I got lost due to the complicated structure of the streets; I ended up blocking an ambulance or a fire truck for a few minutes because of the idiot cab driver behind me; I parked in front of the dorm and Matt came out; we drove to the parking lot, which was a ten-minute walk away; a third of the way back to the room, I realized I forgot something and ran (yes, ran) back to get it; and we got some crappy pizza. We talked for too long before going to sleep; I say”too long,” because there was a PTQ in the morning…

Day Two: Woonsocket, RI

I got the chance to see my favorite Boston-area gamers in this six-round PTQ. These include Walter”Goochie” Egli, Brian Lynch, Kush Patel, Mike Sigrist, Jake Rider, Josh Smith, and Lucas Glavin.

A few things about the last two names on the list. First, Lucas Glavin. GLAVIN GLAVIN GLAVIN. Not GALVIN. GLAVIN. L-A. I don’t know why this bothers me so much, but many people have misspelled this in reports about the Grudge Match. Honestly, people, do some research.

And Josh Smith. What can I say about Josh Smith? I wish I knew, because apparently, if you say the wrong thing, there’s major backlash. Such as my passing comment in the backwards report that since Sparksmith ends in”smith,” one could perhaps nickname the card”Josh.” I was accosted by nearly every one of his minions, of which there are many.

I don’t know if I can safely mention this, because if it’s supposed to be a secret, my life may be in danger, but Josh Smith is the Godfather of the Boston Magic scene. People there speak about him in hushed tones and revere him as a god. It works out so perfectly because Josh is so unassuming and nonthreatening to the untrained observer. No one would ever guess that he’s the kingpin. Until now, of course – the secret’s out. If this is the last article I write, you’ll know why.

The tournament itself wasn’t very interesting. I got a mediocre deck that I may have misbuilt, seeing as how I was splashing a third color and still playing an off-color morph; however, I maintain that I built it correctly. The black in the sideboard was deep and included two Noxious Ghouls, but it had no other removal. The green creatures were too solid, and red had Slice and Dice and other removal, so there was no way to work the black in.

In the first round, I played one John Dorman. He didn’t seem too good, but after he lost, he was visibly frustrated. He complained about my deck simply being better than his, which it probably wasn’t, and even complained about his how his rating was going to suffer after the loss. I asked him what it was, and he said almost 1900, probably a little lower after the Grand Prix. Well, I just looked up the Rhode Island ratings to refresh my memory as to what the chap’s name was, and apparently”a little lower” means”200-plus points lower.” This means that either he went 0-9 at the GP, or was lying to impress me. Embarrassing either way.

My second-round opponent looked to be Brian Kibler, but was in fact Eric Somethingorother, who apparently is used to hearing comparisons to everyone’s favorite gamin’ raver. Fortunately for me, he wasn’t nearly as good as his clone. In game 3, he made many provoke-related mistakes; he would attack with a provoker, I’d block with every last one of my creatures, and I’d get a one-for-one trade. At one point, he cycled a Renewed Faith and may not have remembered to gain the life if not for a comment by Kush Patel. It did not end up mattering, as I made just enough goblin tokens with my Warbreak Trumpeter at the end of Extra Turn #3 to attack for the win on turn #4.

I conceded to MattR round 3. He wanted to draw, but I figured if I conceded, one of us (namely Matt) would only have to win one more round to make top 8. I figured I’d be able to win my next two – and if not, it wasn’t meant to be anyway. My mission was to get Matt on the train, and here was a chance to do so. Matt was very bitter about my decision because it seemed to hurt his pride. He was very unhappy when the team of myself, Steve Horowitz, and MattR went 6-0 in a team tourney and won a box each, because his personal record was 1-5.

Eh; he probably would’ve beaten me anyway. He had Starstorm, Slice, and Seedborn Muse. Plus, while we were waiting for the next round to start, I heard a small child (if you care, I asked, and he said he was 16) asking someone for a two-on-two draft. The person declined, so I swooped in. He agreed to draft for $10. Now usually, I set my minimum at $20, but I really wanted to get a draft in, and this was the only way I could swing it. For my teammate, I chose MattR. For his teammate, he selected a Giant Buffoon.

During the draft portion, Matt and I noticed white was being underdrafted. Being the master that he is, Matt figured out that I was the one taking it and didn’t hate more than a few cards. My deck was nearly mono-colored with a very nice curve. After the draft, round 4 had started. I made quick work of a white/green deck and then played out the money draft. Both of them had bad draws, worse decks, and (I’m assuming) lower play skill, so I made short work of them.

As an aside, neither one of them knew who I was – and why should they? I’m a non-local player with no high finishes in Grand Prix or Pro Tours. But the interesting part is that neither of them seemed to know who Matt was, either. If they had, they may not have drafted against us, so this was a good thing.

The kid wasn’t too bad; probably just inexperienced and looking to either win some money or learn a thing or two. Plus, he accepted defeat graciously. The Giant Buffoon, however, was a different story. He played abysmally, and after our games complained that I didn’t outplay him or anything (yes, he actually used that phrase), he simply couldn’t win because he drew no land. Eyes were rolled, hands thrown up in disgust. There was a misunderstanding as to whether we were still in the PTQ; our opponents just assumed we weren’t. So even though they were down 2-0 at my hands, they made a stink about having someplace to be and having to wait.

I guess you’d had to have been there for that to make abundant sense; they had a whole”I hope you guys finish the PTQ quickly so we can beat you fast and leave” attitude as opposed to a”Jesus, we have no chance of winning, so the least you can do is make it fast” attitude.

After round 4, Matt played the Giant Buffoon. He won, naturally, and we collected our $10. For those of you not familiar with money drafting, this means we netted a whopping $3. But it was risk-free, and I got to have a nice, fun draft. Oh, and MattR lost a game against the Buffoon. Haha.

I hope I’m not coming off as too arrogant. It’s not a conception I’d like people to have of me. But there are certain facts. One of those is that I’m about as good of a non-name player as you can expect to find; another is that these people were very bad. That’s all there is to it. Don’t hate me.

As for the rest of the PTQ, Jake Ryder defeated myself and MattR in consecutive rounds, knocking us both out. F*** JakeR. F*** him up his stupid a**.

The top 8 was star-studded for a Boston-area PTQ, with such luminaries as Kush Patel, Jake Ryder, Josh Smith, Melissa DeTora, Goochie, and Chris Chin. Needless to say, Josh Smith won. I think the people would have been afraid of what would happen to them if they defeated him. He got an 8th pick Exalted Angel, a 13th pick Clone, an Archangel, and a Foil Akroma, Angel of Wrath that tabled twice. Brian Lynch, who apparently chased a black cat under a ladder while taking a baseball bat to thirteen mirrors as a youth, finished 9th with a 4-1-1 record.

While the top 8 was playing out, I entered another 2-on-2 draft for a”friendly $15.” My teammate was Lucas Glavin, and our opponents were Paul”Little Darwin” Rietzl and Brian”Little Darwin” Lynch.

The draft packs were somewhat ridiculous. Little Darwin’s first picks were Akroma’s Vengeance, Infest, and Prowling Pangolin. Lynch ended up with three Wirewood Savages. I had to settle for two Lavamancer’s Skills, two Gratuitous Violences, and a Kilnmouth Dragon. Lucas Glavin (LCG) did not fare as well, but he still had a playable g/b beatdown deck.

In round 1, LCG lost to Little Darwin while I was playing Lynch. In game 1, Lynch unsurprisingly double mulliganed, and I won. He got a good draw to win game 2, and I kept a six-lander like a complete moe in game 3. We soon found ourselves down 0-2, but we rallied back in the next round to even the score. At one point, I tapped a Skilled wizard to deal damage to Little Darwin’s 4/4 Embalmed Brawler. He looked at me as though I had messed up and said”okay.” However, I pointed to my two Gratuitous Violences in play, and after he realized I could have killed a creature twice as large as his Brawler, he scooped ’em up.

Neither LCG nor myself was anxious to play the tiebreaker. We feared Lynch was going to play, and his deck seemed to be a nightmare; in addition to the Savages, he had Timberwatch Elf, three Crested Craghorns, Searing Flesh, and a little bit of removal. My deck was better suited to the matchup, but LCG has been on fire lately, and it was he who had defeated Lynch before. In the end, we flipped a coin to see who would play, and I lost the flip, meaning that the draft was in my hands.

And what capable hands they were. One of the key plays of the game occurred the turn after Lynch played a Spurred Wolverine. He had a Spitting Gourna and active Embermage Goblin; my board included a face-down Willbender and a face-down Ascending Aven. I turned to LCG and said,”What do you think of this play?” I then flipped the Aven and attacked.

What I thought would happen: Lynch would call my”bluff” and block with Spitting Gourna. Then, at end of turn, he would ping me with his goblin, and I’d Willbend it to trade with Gourna. My Seahawks would then be able to fly over for the victory.

What did happen: Lynch called my bluff and blocked with Spitting Gourna. Then, as it turns out, Spurred Wolverine is better than a vanilla 3/2 for five mana; it evidently has some sort of ability. With Little Darwin savoring the”dawning moment of comprehension” on my face, that moment when I realized I had messed up, I put the Aven in the graveyard and passed the turn.

There’s a little known rule, though, about Magic: Anyone who messes up that badly cannot lose. I eventually got both Violences on the table, but he had already handled one Skill, and the other was deep in my deck. He was at twelve or so life, but any creature would make short work of him. I was at about nine life, but he had Flesh, so it was more like two. My deck had very little offensive power with the fliers dead, and I soon found myself out of threats. I had four cards left in my deck and thought that I was going to lose, and deservingly so… Then I topdecked Kilnmouth Dragon, which attacked for twenty the next turn.

Game 2 was anti-climactic, as Lucky Lynch had a pretty bad draw; LCG and I won the draft. I still think I’m not too bad of a player, but let’s face some facts.

1) Everyone makes mistakes.

2) There’s a reason I don’t make the big bucks – namely, I pick pretty bad times to play on autopilot. I wasn’t used to dealing with the Wolverine, so I totally ignored it. And Lynch, if you’re reading this, I’m really sorry. I hate it when my opponent misplays then wins anyway, so I honestly feel your pain.

Days Three and Four: Boston, MA

Congratulations, I’m pretty sure you’ve made it through the bulk of the article. Since I have no concept of whether or not I’m flat-out rambling, it’s nice to have such a good editor. I’m sure the Ferrett wouldn’t make me look bad by leaving in lots of insignificant details that would bore the reader. (Or I’d put it at the end, after the strategy stuff – The Ferrett, who enjoys the odd bit of rambling)

Sunday and Monday were largely uneventful. Matt spent some of the time studying for finals, so that sucked. We took a train to YMG, but no one was gaming, so we saw a movie. We ate at an expensive French restaurant. I would not advise doing this, as the food quality is not worth the extra money. The pretentious group directly to our right seemed to have a good time ordering things like pate and endive salad and roquefort and such and such, though. Matt kept me up half the night doing his impression of Dario Minieri.

I guess the relevant part of these days was the testing for Venice, which was rapidly approaching. Since he somehow managed not to win the PTQ, Matt had to top 32 Venice. (In case you’ve forgotten, I wrote this article a long time ago; before Venice, in fact. So part of what I’m doing now is changing all the”will be”s to”was”s – and Matt, did in fact top 32 Venice with red-green beasts). In the playtest gauntlet were Goblins, black-white control, red-green anti-Slide (which still somehow loses to Slide), and the dreaded Slide itself. I can’t give you the final list that he came up with, as I don’t remember it, but it was going to be Sligh. It was my idea to put Rorix in the board. Even though Matt didn’t end up playing that deck, I still pride myself on realizing the Rorix”tech.”

And finally, we come to Matt’s roommate. Now, Matt is no picnic himself (neither am I, but I’m not on trial here); he doesn’t leave the room very often and has been described by an undisclosed source as”a walking IRC chatroom.” But Matt’s roommate has some other stuff going on. For starters, he never gets up with his extraordinarily loud alarms. He also isn’t necessarily in the room when they go off. Sometimes, he’ll simply leave the room for the day with his radio still blaring, the alarm ringing, and the television on.

And when I say”for the day,” I actually mean”for the night,” as he seems to be nocturnal. He leaves around 10:00 at night and comes back about twelve hours later. He has a bed, and he sleeps on it, but he perches his head on a chair, so he’s sleeping bent at a 90-degree angle. He sleeps in sunglasses. Need I go on?


He’ll walk into Matt’s room (where the clothes are located), think for a minute, do a 360, and simply leave without having done anything. He has several pictures of himself hanging on the wall, including one of him making out with his girlfriend.

Speaking of hanging things on the wall, he, for God knows what reason, hung a big computer printout that says simply”Madagascar” in the kitchen. When I was there, there were two gallons of milk in the fridge, both belonging to the roommate, containing half a cup of liquid between them.

I’m sure I could continue, but you get the idea.

Day Five: Worcester, MA

Matt had somehow managed to get Linkin Park tickets. The show was to be at a small venue in Worcester (pronounced”Woostah”), so we went to stay at the apartment of Joe Kambourakis (pronounced”Mouth”). Mouth, despite what you may or may not have heard, is a really nice guy, albeit with a somewhat juvenile sense of humor. He was, to make an understatement, a quite gracious host (despite having water as the only beverage in the house).

Mouth’s roommates are Jill Costigan and Kimmie OMS, who were also really nice people. Jill repeatedly tried to get me to play Dance Dance Revolution with her, which was about as likely to happen as Trey Van Cleave making it a year without getting the reban.

We drafted on Magic Online, then left for the concert. The concert started at 8:00, and it was a fifteen-minute walk, so we left right at 8:00. I’ve been to many concerts in my day, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned from the experiences, it’s that opening acts, as a rule, suck really really bad. Usually I’ll get to a concert a little early (often times to procure a good space on the floor) and be so bored at the end of the two crappy openers that I’m too tired to appreciate the band I went to see.

This concert was different in that regard, though. First of all, there was no way in Hell Matt Rubin was going to be within fifty feet of a mosh pit. Second, there was only one opening act, and they weren’t awful. The acoustics in a theater/auditorium/whatever-type venue were pretty bad… But other than that, the concert was quite masterful.

Obligatory Gratuitous Aside: At the time I wrote this I said”I don’t know if Meteora is going to be as good as Hybrid Theory, but it’ll be worth owning.” It gives me a little bit of the street cred I was talking about last article to have heard the Park songs before everyone else. Also, I saw the park in concert in December of 2000, before many people had even heard of them. Ha hah!

I know that’s meaningless, but let me have my moment.

And I was right about Meteora. I especially like track 7 (“Faint”) and track 9 (“Breaking the Habit”).

I played some Magic Online when I got back, and in the second draft, I was about to play in the finals when all games froze. They reset the server or something, and when I logged back on, the packs used to enter the tournament were gone, and no prizes were present. Aftermath: I got reimbursed for entry fee, not for the prize that I would have been awarded.

Day Six: Uncasville, CT

Since it was Matt’s 21st birthday, he decided he’d like to gamble, so he, Kimmie, and I went to the Mohegan Sun Casino. I learned a lesson that cost me $20, but it will end up being much more valuable than that in the future. That lesson is”Don’t play slot machines. Ever. For any reason.” After I wasted the money, and $1.50 of Matt’s, I now officially have no desire to ever go to a casino again.

Matt played a machine called the Lucky Duck, where the wild-card icon was a picture of Antonino grinning broadly and holding two Rorixes. He had doubled his initial $20, I told him to stop, he refused, and he hit a $250-dollar jackpot. What a fix. Aftermath: Matt told me that after I left, he lost all of the $250 and then some. Indeed it was a fix, but not for poor Matt.

Day Seven: Philadelphia, PA

On my way home, I stopped by my aunt’s house in Philly. I’m sure you give about as many rat’s asses about my aunt as I give about yours, so there’s really no need to elaborate on day seven.

Day Eight: Cleveland, OH

This was an uneventful day of driving. I heard an acoustic version of the Evanescence song while driving through Pittsburgh, which I really liked. The”regular” version is a nuisance because of the trying-so-hard-to-sound-cool-that-there’s-no-way-he-won’t-fail rapping idiot making Mike-Shinoda-like trite interjections during the chorus. I mean honestly. Don’t ruin an otherwise-nice song by shouting”Can’t wake up!” while the nice lady is trying to sing. The music sounded enough like Linkin Park already.

Since I’m talking about music, here would be a nice place for my top ten songs of the trip. You’ll note an alternative-rock bias, so this will be of even less interest to you than it would have otherwise if that’s not your thing. As for the point of these lists, they provide nice filler while at the same time forcing my opinions on the general public. I would like some feedback on the inclusion of musical recommendations and/or lists. If The People don’t like them, I’ll stop including most of them (but not all – I have a sickness). It’s that simple. Just be gentle when you’re mocking me. I have low enough self-esteem as it is. And remember how old this list is.***

10. Blindside”Sleepwalking”

really explosive start contrasting with a mellower chorus; makes the list in part because Blindside was the opening act at the Linkin Park concert

9. The White Stripes”Seven Nation Army”

A unique sound with a simple yet catchy guitar riff.

8. Chevelle”Send the Pain Below”

This seemingly innocuous song has been in my head like some sort of parasite ever since I first heard it; it’s not that good, and it doesn’t sound catchy, but it is.

7. The Used”Buried Myself Alive”

Bert McCracken is a good man.

6. Audioslave”Like a Stone”

Whereas their last single sounded more like Rage, this one sounds more like Soundgarden. Brandon Biondo from the IRC really likes this one too, and he said”It’s even better because it’s not like he’s talking about some girl or something… He’s talking about death.” I agreed with him even though I was thinking,”Wow, and here I thought it was about a girl.” Really good guitar solo.

5. Evanescence”Bring Me to Life”

The acoustic version, obviously.

4. Missy Elliott”Gossip Folks”

The first of two irritating rap songs that MattR and I were singing the whole weekend; there’s just something about gibberish that’s really appealing.

3. 50 Cent”In Da Club”

At the time I’m writing this, I am totally sick of both of the rap songs on the list, and yet I keep singing them. I hope 50 Cent drops dead.

2. Linkin Park”Somewhere I Belong”

About as good as some of the songs on Hybrid Theory, although it unsurprisingly sounds similar; is very likely to be overplayed in the coming months (I was right again! I must be some sort of genius. Derf.)

1. AFI”Girl’s Not Grey”

In general, as a matter of principle, I am not a big emo fan. A lot of the songs sound alike, and some of these people are simply trying too hard. Like the guy in Finch wailing away on the line”What’s the price to paaay for glooooooooooooooooorrrryyy?” Or naming your band”A Fire Inside.” I mean, there’s no way an individual can be so emotional and passionate. Some of it has to be an act.

That said, emo (which emo bands apparently don’t like to be called, and if anyone is actually reading this part, I’m sure someone will complain that I’m misusing the term) or”pop-punk with a hint of desperation” or whatever you want to call it, has the potential to be some of the best music. I had hated every AFI song I’d heard until this one, and yet this one was so incredible that I actually bought the CD on the strength of this one song.

There was actually a Day Nine – Detroit, MI that would document the PTQ and feature my rant about humor, but that actually got published before this, ironically enough. Without the PTQ report, of course, since I went 2-2. The winners write the history books, as someone once told me at some point.

Blah blah blah, blah blah, etc, blah blah blah.

Tim Aten

The Scum of the Earth

[email protected]

I almost forgot about my footnotes entirely. They’re a pain to write at the time I put the asterisk at the end of the sentence, so I probably won’t be making many in the future.

* – This is an inside joke. It’s – you guessed it – Joey Bags doing an impersonation of Ravishing Rick Rude. I don’t think you’re fat, or gerbil-faced for that matter. I love each and every one of you.

** – This particular reference is to a very funny Saturday Night Live skit featuring Will Ferrell and Sarah Michelle Gellar. It features a dysfunctional family sitting around a dinner table, a strikingly similar scene to a few presented in American Beauty, which actually came out after the SNL skit. You’d have to actually see the skit to appreciate the humor. And I actually do drive a Dodge Stratus.

*** – When the pop culture references I make become recommendations, I always think of Theron Martin’s Anime Pick of the Week and cringe. That’s the last thing I want to become. So if there’s a similarity, let me know and I’ll stop, as I mentioned.