Thursday night was terrible. My flight was delayed by an hour and a half. I was on the flight on time; so was (most) everybody else. Bus as fractured members of a connecting flight cadre trickled in up until the doors closed and we got rolling, I assume there was some good reason for not leaving on time. Of course on an otherwise roomy flight, I was seated behind a gargantuan of a man, decked out in a shiny track suit originally hidden under some kind of purple plumed pimp garb. He purposefully filled two chairs, expanding into them like gas in a covered beaker, spreading like some heated jelly, requested a seatbelt extension. He smelled, quite expressively, like old socks. When the last member of [his] late arrivals could not embark, giant pimp gave up one of his seats to a narrow woman in the group, squeezing her in and reminding every passing stewardess and flight-delaying latecomer of his largess.
By the time the wheels hit the Atlanta runway, I was pretty sure dinner would be over. All I really wanted out of the weekend was that dinner at FOGO. Sure enough, there was a message on my phone from one Jonathan Becker (a.k.a. www.grousehaus.com). “Don’t bother showing up,” said the message. “We ate all the meat.”
I got to the hotel with a chip on my shoulder. The only thing rescuing my fellows from mine unfettered rage was the generosity of my Atlanta cabby. I had left my shoulder bag in the back seat of the cab; he brought it into the lobby despite the fact that I had only tipped him three bones. “You didn’t give him another twenty?” asked my wife. “Don’t worry about it,” said Becker. “He screwed you for an extra ten anyway.”
BDM returned me to my previous burning hatred for all mankind, carnivores especially. “You wouldn’t have liked it anyway,” said Brian. “The meat was juicy and succulent. Very flavorful. Probably TOO flavorful.” For his part, Jonathan was still hee-hawing, having told the rest about my secret confession. Some weeks earler, I had had dinner alone, at Katz’s. Though it is my custom to order brisket sandwiches, I chose the pastrami, which is basically the heavensent brisket… but dipped in evil, in all of evil’s best and worst. The rind is black as Rob Hahn’s tobacco-stained lungs, salty as the tidal wave that cracks the corroded two hundred ton hull of an oil tanker, but pink too, pink as the secret and hidden folds of a succubus; and moist and scented and intoxicating as her lying lips. I was weak, weak as quivering tweenager, palms sweaty at his first co-ed mixer… but my mistake was in trusting my lawyer, my confidante, my friend.
Hee-haw. Hee f**king haw.
Eyes narrowed. No. Not just because I’m Asian. Anger. This could only be solved on the Field. Of. Battle.
Lines were drawn:
I went 2-1 my draft immediately prior to this one with G/W. I should have been 3-0. In the last game of the last match against Tim McKenna’s U/W, I said, I literally Said Out Loud:
“Just scoop. I’m going to Rootrunner myself to get back Hana Kami, re-cast it, and deck you with Candle’s Glow.”
“Nah,” responded Tim. “Let’s just play.”
No, I didn’t just, you know, sacrifice my Rootrunner, get back my Hana Kami, and deck him with Candle’s Glow. Not sure why… But I Should Have Been 3-0.
Luckily, this draft, I opened Hikari, Twilight Guardian (a fine first pick for someone looking to go G/W).
Becker passed me Samurai of the Pale Curtain. I shuffled it to the front of the pack. There was a Moss Kami too… and a Strength Of Cedars! G/W it was.
My deck was about the best G/W deck of all time. For G/W in Champions/Champions/Betrayers of Kamigawa you need good guys and good tricks. All my tricks were awesome and my guys were better:
Strength of Cedars
Hikari, Twilight Guardian
Kami of Ancient Law
Kentaro, the Smiling Cat
Samurai of the Pale Curtain
Something like that, anyway.
Burger King came by and said this was the Platonic ideal of a G/W deck. He more or less taught me G/W in Columbus. Queried Burger King: “Is it good or bad for G/W when you see Waxmane Baku and Gnarled Mass?”
“It’s awesome,” I responded. “You take the Baku and the Mass tables.” High fives all around.
If you are wondering why I only had one pathetic Waxmane Baku, the best white common in Betrayers, all I can say is that the rest of them were in Mike Clair’s deck. More high fives.
Match #1 was against Teddy Cardgame. Teddy was B/U Ninja. Game one I stopped drawing guys and he defeated me with a (hard cast) Unsummon Ninja with Phantom Wings attached. This was highly disturbing for me because B/U Ninja is defined by awful, inefficient, creatures and my deck was all amazing creatures. More importantly, one of my favorite things in life is berating Teddy Cardgame and I had no stomach for defeat in a draft wherein I was passing to him.
Luckily I won the next two. Both of them involved my sideboarded Wear Away, which Unsummoned his Unsummon Ninja during combat both of the subsequent games. To Teddy’s credit, in one game I had trick mana open and he correctly read me as holding Indomitable Will, smashing me with some sort of Black or Blue non-combat oriented bounce or removal card.
Match #2 was against Becker. I passed Becker all kinds of Hideous Laughters and Rend animal cards while assembling my Moss Kamis. So obviously he ended up in G/R. Becker refused to admit that he had passed me a Strength of Cedars, “You added.”
“Do you remember passing two consecutive packs with Samurai of the Pale Curtain?”
“You have two?” interjected BDM.
“No. Because I Had To Take Strength Of Cedars Over One.”
My match with Becker involved terrible mistakes and throwing away many cards. The most embarrassing was killing his Iname, Life Aspect in a combat that also killed four or five of his other creatures (all spirits). Why didn’t I just smash the bejeezus out of that Hearth Kami?
At this point, Clair was up a match but Jordan was 0-2. “You guys look like you have this well in hand,” said the qualified phenom. “I’m going to get some rest for tomorrow.”
We subbed in Mike Turian.
My last match was against BDM and his U/R Kiki-Jiki deck. I was a bit worried as my deck was only good at fighting and his deck was good at all kinds of utility and trickery.
True to form, BDM took a game that I had well in hand. At the end of my turn, he duplicated an Ember-Fist Zubera… then used Glacial Ray to dome me, splicing Psychic Puppetry to end up with four such Zuberas at the end of my turn (after all at end of turn effects had gone on the stack). He untapped, made another Zubera, and attacked me with only his “real” Zubera. I didn’t block, but could not stop from taking 17 damage total, which was enough for the game. Luckily, this occurred in Game Three, after I had already smashed his clunky U/R deck twice.
In the meantime, Turian threw Jordan’s deck in the trash, saying it was unplayable.
Clair finished his 2-0 and the draft was ours.
As we gathered the rares, sifting through the dank Pepsi-soaked napkins of the hotel trash can for perhaps an Azami, Lady of Scrolls, Becker muttered “I can’t believe I have to give Jordan $20 in a draft where I went 2-1 and he not only went 0-3… but didn’t even show up for his last match.”
Did you catch that?
Here’s the Paper or Plastic part:
We went to split the gathered rares and I wanted the Kiki-Jiki (of course).
“No way,” said my teammate. “I went 2-0.”
“I went 3-0.”
“I only went 2-0 because we finished quickly and I didn’t get a chance to go 3-0. Honestly, my deck was insane.”
This was bullspit but Clair won some sort of randomization and grabbed up the Kiki-Jiki. I took the Master Yamabushi and attempted to wheel Night of Soul’s Betrayal when…
“Shut up,” interrupted BDM. “If you had lost, you would definitely be wheeling now.”
After the first three picks, Clair took some rare and declared “Italian game.” I still don’t know what “Italian game” is, but I didn’t get any more rares. Becker had hidden some foils and I got like a Forest and a Loam Dweller.
On the way back to the hotel, Becker asked me why I let Clair have first pick, my precious Kiki-Jiki.
“He only didn’t go 3-0 because of time. He wanted to go to sleep for tomorrow.”
“Yeah,” said Becker. “He said ‘Let’s play one game.'”
“What’s the problem with that?”
“Only because I played really badly,” chuckled the aptly-named Magic Jerk.
And that is the end of that story.