We Kid Because We Love. And So We Don’t All Go Insane.

Hi, all; Jon Becker here. It seems that my venom bank is full, and it is time for a periodic purge of the online Magic-reading binge I have been on over the past X months. Hopefully, some of you will identify with some of this, and we can have a collective cathartic venting. Let’s take a look at Jay Schneider’s latest deck, Slideshow, which as usual should be good for about two thousand words or so – plus, the Magic Writers’ Separated At Birth Contest!

Hi all; Jon Becker here. It seems that my venom bank is full, and it is time for a periodic purge of the online Magic-reading binge I have been on over the past X months. Hopefully, some of you will identify with some of this, and we can have a collective cathartic venting. Before I start though, let me say that some of my best friends and supporters are sticks:


And let me clarify that I am in no way asserting that I am, in any respect, not sh*t at this game. I am clearly the worst. Or at least right up there.

Lets start right at the top:

1. I Want to Play Where This Guy Plays

The following question was posted to”Ask the Judge” on Star City this Monday*:

Q: Given that the upcoming season is Extended, I’m sure you’ll get more of this later. I have two decks: one Fires, one White Weenie. Fires has a Wild Mongrel out; WW has an active Mother of Runes and a Warrior en-Kor. Question: Is there any way that the Warrior can block the Mongrel and live?

Where on earth does this guy play? Since the upcoming season is extended he expects not only that there will be a mass of white weenie decks, but also that there will be an abundance of Fires decks! Of course, maybe he had to use Fires as the example here – as opposed to, say, the highly-unpopular Extended U/G madness deck, since fires is the first deck that comes to mind when you cite its signature creature, the Wild Mongrel, right? Lord. I am particularly glad that this guy asked this question because I know that the biggest issues I have with the flood of Extended white weenie decks I have faced is,”What the heck do I do about those pesky Nomads en-Kor?”

I sent a draft answer to this question to Shelly, but he went with his own version. For posterity, my draft was:

TO: Billy McStick

In a Cave Somewhere

A Planet other than Our Own

Circa the Roosevelt Administration

Dear Sir:

Sorry for the late reply, but apparently your letter got lost in my inbox somewhere during 1947. The technical answer is that if the Mongrel dude has enough cards in hand, he can change the color to fuschia, eggshell, puce, mocha, sanguine, lemon, and, eventually, any color he wants to once you give the critter who will receive the damage protection from said fuschia, eggshell, puce, mocha, sanguine, lemon (as the case may be), and said damage receiving critter will die. However, this assumes that both players understand modern concepts such as”the stack,””damage sources” and”activated abilities.” Since the hypothetical players are running en-Kor WW and”Mongrel” Fires in extended, this is not, in any respect, a safe assumption. More likely than not, one of the hypothetical”players” will screw up and the blocker will live, or both will screw up and the blocker will die.

In any case, don’t worry about it much, since neither of you will be visiting the Top 8.

I’ll bet this guy plays in like, Poltava or Debrechen or Chad or something. Maybe the scariest part of this is that this guy is probably the best player in someone’s group. No jokes.

On a related aside, I get so upset when I read a qualifier report from a PTQ that has five rounds. And the writer gets a first round bye. And his semi-finals opponent drops because his side draft has been called. I have read at least two reports like this; one of them was from northern Europe (somewhere in Denmark or the Netherlands or some such) where both of these actually things happened – the guy got a round one bye, won round two, won round three on mana screw, drew twice into the top 8, beat his quarter finals opponent, was conceded to in the middle of his semi’s match so his opponent could make the side draft he was in, and bought the slot in the finals for an equal split because his opponent had no interest in going to the US.

There is also one from – I am almost positive – either Tennessee or Guelph, British Columbia. If I were the person that qualified at one of these, I would quietly giggle about it, and not tell anyone the details – just”that I won a Q.” I don’t think you should be able to get an invite if you have not actually defeated a resisting opponent in at least four rounds.

Most of the Qs I go to are at Neutral Ground, where it is rare that there is anything less than an eight-round qualifier, and half the time you have to play your way in at 6-1, against friggin’ Tony Tsai or something. I seriously want to fly to the Greater Cheyenne PTQ and give people $25 at the door to just turn around and go home. It would cost a total of like, $575 to be the only person there. Sigh. Maybe if I ran ‘En Kor white weenie….

Naw, I am sure that some Fires guy would smash me.

2. Secret Lives of Magic Writers?

Dave Meddish, or….

“Stone Cold” Steve Austin?

Chris Romeo, or….

…Sonny Bono Collectible Figure?

Jay Schneider, or….

Nate Heiss?

Nick Eisel, or…

…Britney Spears?

Wow. It would be even spookier if Britney was looking straight ahead, or had her hair pulled back. Honest. These are JOKES folks! Nick will absolutely laugh at this. I hope. No, really, he will. It’s the turtleneck dammit!

You lika the juice, eh? The juice, she’s a-good. I get you more juice.

Okay, the last one isn’t really a secret life of – but every time I see Bennie’s pic, I think of the Rob Schneider SNL Deli scene (Hub’s Gyro) with Jason Alexander.

3. The Storied History of the Confused Mindstab Thrull.

1994 – 1995:

Look! I can take three cards from your evil opponent! I am Good! Okay, really, I suck. But wait! Thrull Champion makes me better! What? Oh, Thrull Champion sucks too, eh? Nuts.


! I am secretly so good, they reprinted me in the base set! Yes, I have a crappy white border, but now I have been acknowledged as a staple card! Certainly I will see play in the next two years! Finally, to take cards away from someone – *sniff*, it will be a dream come true for a poor four-armed no-legged thrull with a Bob Dole pen.

Mindstab Thrull sits patiently and eagerly by the phone. Phone never rings.

January 1998:

Mindstab Thrull issues Press Release: Underappreciated Fleshy Construct, eager to please, keen interest in mind stabbing, loves short hops on the beach, Whalebone Gliding, self-sacrifice, and Cat Stevens, ISO companionship with compatible Dwarven Nomad or Dwarven Warrior, or anyone with a Tawnos’ Wand. At home in any thrull, discard or mind stabbing based theme deck. Also great for Highlander-All Creature Fallen Empires Constructed!

Mindstab Thrull sits patiently and eagerly by the phone. Phone never rings. Mindstab Thrull rotated out of Base set, never having been played in a sanctioned match, or any documented unsanctioned matches. Rumor of Thrull being played in an all Fallen Empires Nostalgia Booster Draft unfounded, and believed to be cruel hoax perpetrated by drug-crazed Ebon Praetor.

Mindstab Thrull still sucks. Fails to get gig in extended format despite creepy and frightening visage. Decides to get new agent, new legs and a torso. Pays an arm and, um, another arm for them (because he has no legs, see…. It’s a visual art joke… ‘Cause the four arms, and arm and a leg – ahhhh, forget it.)

November 2002

Onslaught released. Internet Writers hail Haunted Cadaver, a.k.a. Mindstab Thrull 2k2, as”Ridiculous” and”One of the big reasons you must block morphs in a black deck.” Several savvy insiders suspect the Cadaver’s history. Haunted Cadaver denies association with Mindstab Thrull, asserting”I am Cadaver, I am mighty again! Um, I mean, not again. Just mighty. Yeah. Mighty.”

December 2002

Gary Wise announces that Cadaver is, once again, bad. Cadaver Protests. Claims”Broken” interaction with Crafty Pathmage. Sues Gary Wise for Libel.

As part of a settlement agreement, Wise clarifies that his article did not say that Cadaver was bad, but rather, assumed that the vast majority of his reading audience was bad. Cadaver again declared good.

As demonstrated by letters such as the one referenced in Item 1, above, Wise is proven correct in settlement statement. Among Wise’s faithful, Cadaver becomes primarily a chump blocker for Glory Seeker in the interests of”preserving tempo”. Cadaver repeatedly fails to kill Glory Seeker, which has a penchant for being Piety Charmed. Ah well; Cadaver did claim to like self-sacrifice, I suppose.

So. Is it good? Is it bad? Folks, what Gary was saying is”don’t use this card like an idiot.” He took five hundred fifty words to say it – but maybe that was required. Personally, I would be perfectly happy for you to use it like an idiot. My vote? Cadaver is pretty good, which is a terribly sad statement considering how dismal Mindstab Thrull was in every environment ever conceived of by man.

(Gary gets .04 per word, assuming that Gary receives two boxes worth per article – an ebay value of $65. This is wholly speculation on my part; I have no idea what Gary is paid for his articles, and I am certain it is not done by word count, but rather on a per article basis. Gary’s analysis of Haunted Cadaver was worth approximately $23.40. Mine was worth only $0.28. But to be fair, Gary’s explanation told the general public not only not to be an idiot, but also how not to be an idiot, which I assume reached a lot more people than I would have – and was thus worth the additional $23.12. Plus, how interesting, really, would an article that just said”Haunted Cadaver – don’t use him like an idiot” be? You certainly wouldn’t come close to finishing your morning Orange Mocha Frappucino while reading it.)

4. Seth Burn and Football.

Wow. Seth knows like, a ton about football.

Okay, let me revise that: Seth sounds like he knows a ton about football, but I can’t actually be sure if that is true or not. This is primarily based on the fact that I, um, don’t know all that much, on a technical level. I mean, I know that John Elway clearly made a deal with Satan, and that if Denver ever wins another game, it will be too soon for me. I know that the Eagles punter is in hot water after this weekend, netting only one punt out of six over 40 yards and two out of six over 30 yards, and I wouldn’t be totally surprised if he were selling nails at the Home Depot later this week.

But I don’t know, for example, if the”Razor 3-4, with the optional CB waggle” is effective against the west coast offense or has a meaningful impact on Jake Plummer’s completion percentages in a three step drop vs. a four-to-seven step drop. Or something.

This bothers me, because in college, a million years ago, I knew a lot. In fact, I helped set betting lines for one of the gambling houses in England thorough a friend of mine at Syracuse who worked for them, so I had to be up on the league and a lot more of the technical aspects in order to effectively set matchups and spreads. Of course, unexplainable phenomena, such as Brits tending to like betting on the Vikings, had much more practical impact, since you could always modify your spread on the Vikes a point and a half in your favor without impacting your action. Even after college, I was still pretty into it, as a hapless Browns fan (yeah, yeah, it’s in the blood; I can’t help it), until that treacherous blackhearted backstabbing SOB spirited the team away to Baltimore, and I went into football mourning.

In any case, I have been out of the loop for years, and though I would dearly love to take issue with some of Seth’s football ramblings, I find myself unable to do so with any measure of confidence. So, if any of you know the heck out of football, please read Seth’s stuff, and write me to tell me how to tell him that he is full of poo, and I will happily jump into the debate. Thanks in advance, Madden wannabies.

5. Rebels in 8th

I seriously think that Ramosian Sergeant should be reprinted in 8th edition. No, not the whole rebel line.

(By the way, in the course of writing this, I misspelled Sergeant four separate and distinct ways; that seems like an achievement of some sort)

…Just what was referred to back in the rebels/fires days as the”eight-pack” – four sarge and four Fresh Troops. Now, with the addition of Whipcorder, Fresh Troops would not even be necessary – and, in fact, might be too much. Honestly, the reason rebels were busty was not because of the Sarge, but rather what the Sarge became once you got the chain in motion – and because of ridiculous ol’ Lin-Sivvi recurring any rebel you happened to be able to pick off. So, why should they be in at all? The eight-pack keeps hard control decks honest. Sarge slips under countermagic, and once you hit three land, he can start bringing out bears to put a meaningful clock on that counterspell player who is simply waiting for you to try to do anything else. The eight pack forces the counterspell deck to account for the non-counterable buildup of animals – and not on turn 15, but on turn 5 or 6, which would make control a bit weaker.

Also, the 8 pack can allow a W-x player to have non-removal or topdecked alternatives to deal with Edicts, madnessed critters, and recovery from mass removal. On the other hand, the eight-pack is not particularly troublesome to a lot of decks, since all it does is produce a few tiny men over a drawn-out period – and then only if Sligh doesn’t light the Sarge on fire, and she doesn’t get run over by giant trampling Arrogant Wurms. It seems to me that the eight-pack of rebels – just Sarge and ‘Corder or Sarge and Fresh Troops – would be a really positive addition to the environment, and while I am highly doubtful R & D would include the ‘Sarge, adding her to 8th would go a long way in diversifying the type two metagame over the next two years.

That being said, I have been asserting this claim for some time, and few people seem as enthusiastic about this as I do. Well, I think Flores would be on board, since we put the eight-pack into pretty much every deck we built for like, two years – but most people seem to dismiss the idea as far too weak, or try to include a slew of rebels, which we certainly don’t need to see again.

6. Cartoon Interlude.

Which of the following was NOT a cartoon show?

(a) Partridge Family – 2200 A.D.!

(b) Amazing Live Sea-Monkeys

(c) Bureau of Alien Detectors

(d) Adventures of Johnny Ramjet

(e) Spunky and Tadpole

Who are these fine fellows?


How about this guy?


 Answers to follow…..

 7. Ugh.

You know, I think Jay Schneider is going to take a hit out on me. I write maybe, two or three articles a year – and in each one, I seem to take some issue with Jay’s decks. I was actually commenting to Brian David Marshall the other day that for once, I had no Jay bashing to do, and this was cool. However, Jay must have suspected that my muse had been temporarily roused from her alcoholic slumber, and rushed to post a deck that I could not help but comment upon. Here is Jay’s newest thang:


4 Fluctuator

3 Krosan Tusker

4 Wall of Blossoms

4 Wall of Mulch

4 Disciple of Law

4 Living Wish

4 Clear

4 Astral Slide

4 Radiant’s Judgment

2 Repopulate

4 Slippery Karst

4 Tranquil Thicket

4 Drifting Meadow

4 Nantuko Monastery

3 Forest

2 Plains

2 Sungrass Prairie


1 Deranged Hermit

1 Genesis

1 Cartographer

1 Teroh’s Faithful

1 Auramancer

1 Krosan Tusker

1 Monk Realist

1 Uktabi Orangutan

1 Terravore

1 Wasteland

1 Dust Bowl

2 Light of Day

2 Worship

First, a formatting nit. I hate seeing decklists with the land at the top. Land comes last. Jay’s deck had land at the top, so I moved to the bottom in an effort to forestall my going completely insane for a little while longer. The SB is the same. Lands generally, at the end. Jay has his set up so all of the Wish targets are in a row, which I guess I can accept, tho I moved the lands to the bottom of the Wish targets list, instead of the middle.

Okay. Back to the main point here.

Jay makes several statements about this, um,”deck”:

“Every instinct you have should say this deck should stink.”

Hey, for once we agree, Jay! It does look like it stinks. Of course, you do have Fluctuator, which is certainly a card with the potential to be broken, and Astral Slide, which is one of the most potentially powerful Constructed cards in Onslaught – so with two potentially breakable cards, I guess I have to give it a little more attention, shouldering aside each and every one of my instincts laughing derisively at this pile of cards.

Slideshow [is] > 75% vs. Sligh/Red Deck Wins, Oath and Rock with best play . . .” and later”I’ll tell you that 75% is a conservative number, our testing results were higher.”

Yeah. Right.

Lets start with red. First, as Jay knows better than anyone on the planet,”Sligh” and”RDW2k2″ are very very very different decks. For a recent comparative discussion of the wave of red decks that t4’d at GP: Reims, see the following article by Kai:

Whereas Jay’s deck might, in fact, make short work, of say, Pat Mello’s deck…. Assuming he was not dead by the time he could get two untapped land, cast a Fluctuator, Find and cast a ‘Slide, find and cast a Wish, fetching and casting a Teroh’s Faithful with one mana open and a cycling card to protect it and start”going off” with the Faithful.” (Which sounds vaguely cultish – I am sure that is a euphemism for something.) I know that is a fair number of ifs, but between the walls and the unkillable disciples, Jay should have a fair amount of time to set this up.

However, against, say, Coumes deck, Jay is looking at a lot more issues buying himself the requisite time. Those Rishadan Ports and Wastelands are a pain in the butt for Jay, and Tangle Wires seem like they would be problematic. After boarding, bridge plus scroll buys Coumes a lot of time, since Jay has one Orangutan as artifact removal and only two Repopulates to shuffle him back (assuming that with a toughness of two, Coumes has a reasonable chance of killing the Orangutan in response to Jay’s Sliding him out of the way of say, a Firebolt). However, I still think Jay is probably right here. Twelve unkillable walls and recursive faithful seems like too tall an order – and after boarding, Jay can get Wall+Disciple+Worship, and that is about all she wrote.

Okay, so Jay has a deck that likely bashes red decks – not wickedly surprising with eight walls, four Disciples, and recursive lifegain – but hey, it does what it was designed to do here, and that’s a Good Thing.

How about Oath? Well, Jay has some decent thought on the Oath matchup too. For example:

“Slideshow wins through superiority of man-lands (threaten with Monastery as early as possible) and total number of deck threats.  Slideshow is happy to trade 1 for 1 with Counterspells with it’s Fluctuators, Slides, Clear, Wishes etc. Speaking of Clear, Clear is for use against Deed, not Oath.”

On the surface, this sounds generally reasonable – but I think there are a few misconceptions here. (Hopefully they’re not on my part, though it is entirely possible I am being stupid.) I am sure Slideshow would be happy to trade 1-1 with Counters on, say, its Clear targeting a Deed. This will almost never happen. The Oath player will not play the Deed (absent very weird circumstances) until it can use it right away, or in response to a Clear, clearing a ‘Slide and/or Fluctuator. I think Jay assumes that the Monastery beats will force the Oath player’s hand with the Deeds – but even with this deck, it is going to take a bit to get the Monastery on line. Maybe the turn 2 Fluctuator gets Force Spiked. Maybe you don’t happen to have a non-“comes into play tapped” land in your opener. (There are only seven – how often playing mono black control in OBC did you find yourself with an opener that lacked either a Blood or an Edict? Not a regular occurrence, but it certainly happens).

What if – and call me crazy – the Oath deck’s plan was to counter only Wish, and concentrate on killing the Monasteries with its Bowl(s). Yeah, I know that Justin Gary ran Dust Bowl only in the board, but I think it is a fair assumption that many Oathies are maindecking a Bowl nowadays, plus having access to the one in the board. Occasionally, the Oathie could Deed away facilitators, such as the Slide and the Fluctuator, but primarily, they Oathie could just (i) counter Wish, (ii) destroy Monastery, and, (iii) if you happen to be able to counter it, counter Slide, to guard against the Slideshow player using it to protect the Monasteries (so this really goes hand in hand with item (ii)) or a Tusker cast on like turn 30 for beatdown. Seems a lot easier than trading counters for all of the perceived threats. What would the Slideshow plan be, in that case?

Jay continues:

“Speaking of Deed.  It’s the card that wrecks G/W, right?  Well no.  Actually it only trades one-for-one mostly, with the occasional two-for-one by Deeding a Fluctuator along with either a Slide or a Monastery.  That’s because the Slide protects the Monastery.  But two-for-one is pretty good right?  Well, remember the discussion of the special incidence of card advantage the Slideshow uses.  Fluctuator isn’t a threat spell, so the two for one isn’t a big deal.  You’ll find that you end every fight with Oath with a”dead” Fluctuator in the hand.  What you do need to watch out for is playing out two threat spells (like two Slides) and having them both ‘Deeded away.  That’s threat disadvantage and a much more significant issue.”

First, in the previous paragraph, Jay lists the Fluctuator as a threat (when expounding upon the total number of deck threats Slideshow has) – but here, all of a sudden, it is not a threat if it gets Deeded. How is it a threat for purposes of considering deck threat density and overwhelming counterspells, but not a threat when it gets Deeded away? If it wasn’t a threat, it wouldn’t warrant a counter, right? If it is a threat, it would hurt to have it Deeded away, and any two of ‘Slide, Monastery and Fluctuator would be a two for one favoring the Oathie. Can’t have it both ways.

So if the Fluctuator is not a threat, and the Clears are not threats, assuming the Oathie is willing to trade Deed for Slide or Monastery + Slide, that leaves the deck with the threats of Wish and Monastery.

“[A] minor mistake in this match is trading a threat card (Slide, Wish, Clear, Repopulate) for a Force Spike.  You can’t totally avoid the Spike, especially early on, but only trade them a Wall or a Fluctuator for it.”

Here, Jay has clearly given up the ghost on Fluctuator as a threat card, relegating it (apparently) to bait card status against Oath. But, since his threat density argument seems to have weakened a bunch, Jay adds a new threat card – Repopulate.

I can believe I have to address whether Repopulate is a legitimate threat. I am not saying that in some odd way, it cannot be a threat, mind you – just that it seems ridiculous to have to discuss it. I am going to procrastinate on this one. Repopulate! On the shelf where you belong. We will get to you later.

Is it just me, or does this”deck” have the worst collective group of”official” threat cards ever? Clear, Monastery, Repopulate – these are friggin’ draft leftovers that no one claims.

Back to Jay:

“The Oath fight goes the same way every game.  You play a few early threats that get countered.  You play a Monastery or two – they desperately dig for a Living Wish to fetch a Dustbowl (if they don’t find it they just die).  They then tap out to Dustbowl lands (you can usually force this on your turn).  You force through a threat, either a Wish for a Dust Bowl of your own or a Slide to protect your team.  Assuming they find enough Deeds to handle your threats and Monasteries, it goes into a reload phase.  They draw a bunch of cards as do you.  You’ll eventually run them out of answers (somewhere around the sixth or seven counterspell) and resolve a Slide.  Then you draw a bunch of cards via Sliding the Wall of Blossoms in and out and either Monastery them to death (protected by the Slide) or resolve a Living Wish for a creature.  The Repopulate will also win you the late game recycling your Tuskers (they become beatdown this time around fading them out to avoid the Oath) or occasionally allowing you to just deck them.  It’s a slow fight but it’s yours and it plays as scripted every time.”

I think that there are a bunch of clear flaws here.

First,”You force through a threat, either a Wish for a Dustbowl of your own or a Slide to protect your team.” Nice assumption, bro. Maybe you don’t have all of your threats ready to cast back to back to back to back. Remember, our wise Oathie is planning on saving counters primarily for the Wishes, then Slides. No other actual spells really matter, since the Slideshow player can’t get a Dustbowl to destroy the Oathie’s Dustbowl without a Wish (there are none main deck), and you can’t protect the Monastery without the Slide.

Jay is right that the Oathie does have to find the Wish or the Bowl. And, of course, it is very possible that the Slideshow player could force through a Wish or a Slide, making life hard on the Oathie – but hey, maybe the Oathie can tap them out to make them do it, and bust off the winning Palinchron. In any event, Jay seems overly optimistic here.

Second, Jay states that”you’ll eventually run them out of answers (somewhere around the sixth or seventh counterspell.” Well, Jay, since the”deck” has only eight actual threat spells in it, and the Oath deck has twelve counters, including multiple Forbids, plus at least four ways to get rid of the Slides if they should”slide” in under the counters (sorry), this also seems overly optimistic. You can’t take any of their counters away. You can’t counter any of their counters. So, the twelve-plus counters seem to be, for the most part, enough to give you a good fight.

Third, the Repopulate…. Nope, I can’t do it. I will not waste your valuable life by discussing the viability of Repopulate as a threat card. This is one you can handle on your own.

Fourth, his conclusion to this paragraph (“It’s a slow fight but it’s yours and it plays as scripted every time“) is pure malarkey at worst and overreaching at best – but it pales in comparison to this ludicrous assertion:

“I suspect it’s close to (assuming that elusive perfect play) a 90% match in favor of Slideshow.”

I think someone forgot Jay how to do math or something. Are we assuming that the Slideshow deck plays perfectly and the Oathie, say, is an idiot? Are we assuming perfect play from both sides? Are we assuming – and I think that this is probably it – that the Oath player makes an error which results in a Game Loss at least once per match? Ninety Percent? Are you friggin’ high?


Okay, last one; on to the storied Slideshow vs. Rock matchup. Fight!

Jay keeps it short here, providing that

“The Rock fight is a lot like the Oath fight.  The difference they don’t have the control aspects that make it challenging.  You don’t have to run them out of Counters, as Duress will either miss or hit something meaningless and you’ll just cycle into a Slide/Wish as needed.  Once again, their offensive is mostly shut down by the Monastery and completely shut down by a Slide.”

Jay is correct in that the Rock doesn’t have counters, and that Duress will miss a lot, since Slideshow doesn’t have many spells to take. (Though taking a Fluctuator – which actually probably is a threat in this matchup, when combined with a ‘Slide could prove troublesome.) Furthermore, Cabal Therapy will almost certainly miss the first time, since there are no cards in the deck that anyone who has no idea what you are playing would ever randomly call – like, Duress, Counterspell, Therapy, Entomb, Sarge, or whatever the caster might guess would give them trouble.

Later Therapies, however, cast after the Rock player is done laughing at the hand full of bizarre cards you have, will probably be much more troublesome.

Rock can still kill the Fluctuator and Slide with a Pernicious Deed, forcing the Sideshow player to find another pair to”completely shut down” the Rock’s offense, which will take some time to do, and during which time, the Rock player will be doing his or her darndest to kick your head in with Treetop Village and Spiritmonger. Spiritmonger seems like a pretty credible threat against Slideshow, no? It bashes over Walls and Disciples – which have likely died to the Deed anyway, and is not effectively blocked by the Monastery.

Okay, I guess they could activate two Monasteries. You can’t get rid of it with Radiant’s Judgment, since it regenerates. You can’t bash through it with the Monasteries, so it’s also good on D. The Rock seems more equipped to fight the land destruction fight, having one or two Bowls main deck, plus another to Wish for, and has a lot of lands that are pains in the butt for Slideshow (four Village, multiple ‘Bowls, Volrath’s Stronghold in main and/or board).

I dunno. I think the best thing Slideshow has going for it in this matchup is that it plays a full four Wishes, and can get really quality recursion going on, with Auramancer and Cartographer + Slide, to recur Slide and Monastery, respectively (or recur Worship out of the board), and it can, of course, flicker the faithful in and out to gain a lot of life. Also, it can Flicker Hermit and get a jillion squirrels, or get a wicked big Terravore out. The Rock player has only a limited number of answers to these problems, such as its own recursive Crypt Creeper, or knocking the opponent’s Slide off the table when he isn’t looking. If Slideshow gets set up, Rock will wish it had eight Deeds.

This seems like a pretty typical race scenario though. Can the Rock player push across enough damage to win before the Slideshow player can set up the Slide-Wish-Recursive ass kicking engine. While it is entirely possible that the Rock can win the long game with the recursive Crypt Creeper – though it would take a Cleggian amount of time to accomplish – it seems like the matchup would generally favor Slide, though whether the matchup is, to paraphrase Jay, more than 75 percent in favor of Slideshow, conservatively speaking? I couldn’t say for sure without a bunch of testing, which I have absolutely no intention of doing, but it strikes me as optimistic. So; short games to Rock, longer games to Slideshow.

And, as acknowledged by Jay, the”deck” loses outright to Benzo, Angry Hermit and (before boarding) Suicide Black.

Now, I like that Jay tries new things. And I like that Jay writes about them. Heck, the name of this one didn’t even immediately cause me to bristle up. And I think this deck could be pretty good, with some more tweaking and threats (Exalted Angel, mebbe, says Brian?). But saying stuff like this deck should beat Oath, Rock, and Red with at a 90 percent clip seems optimistic and misleading. People are going to go to the Q this weekend packing this thing, and say,”Why the heck didn’t I win that game against Rock?” Well, the Rock player Duressed away your Fluctuator, and Therapied your Wish. Then he Deeded away your Wall of Mulch and Slide, and all you had had left in your grip was a Clear, a Disciple and two cycling lands. Then he beat you in the nugget with Spiritmonger and Village, which both make for a pretty short clock, until you were dead. Could it happen? It doesn’t sound all that far fetched to me.

Another thing the deck has going for it is that it will perpetrate the illusion that the person playing it is a total random, and might make people take the Slideshow player lightly. Seriously. Like, if someone across from you dropped a Disciple of Law, you would think they had been living in a cave for the past four years. Or six. And you might start talking to your neighbor and snickering until your opponent combo’ed you out. Then you would be confused, and might even lose. But, you would tell everyone at the Q the story of how you lost to this random dude playing”some stupid Fluctuator deck with the worst stuff in it” and by round three, everyone would know what was going on, and this advantage would be lost. I think that if you play this deck, you should totally milk the”I am a stick” advantage, and play unsleeved. It might get you an extra round’s worth of your opponent’s not playing tightly, and this deck will take any additional edge it can get. Plus, by round five, the top tables will probably have a lot of Oath and Rock, which are ostensibly your best matchups, and maybe you will have doofused your way into a top 8.

I know I sound like I am making fun here, but I swear to you, I am not. I would not play this deck – but say you lost a bet, or have had past success with Jay’s decks, or want a change of pace, or can really only stay for four rounds because you have errands to run or something, and you do end up playing it; I would definitely play up the illusion (or reality, if those are the cold hard facts) that you are terrible. Tell people you are not sure exactly how these”new stacking rules work.” Tell people that you wish Phyrexian War Beast were still legal, because he would be a beating with Ravenous Baloth. Tell people that you just had a really tough matchup against a”Life” deck, and ask if they think that you should have played that, since it beats so much of the field, and was your other top choice coming into today. The more you can perpetuate your outward stickiosity, the better you will do. The deck is clearly better than it initially appears, but I think not nearly as good as Jay’s testing seems to indicate.

Of course, it will kick the bejeezus out of anything red.

8. Zvi’s Most Recent Article – Drafting Blue in Onslaught.

I wasn’t really going to discuss this, since I appreciated the break that reading Zvi’s article gave me from my lawyering, but then my friend Ed Linskey pointed out to me that between Gary and the Cadaver (doesn’t that sound like a dark Sid and Marty Kroft show), the commentary on that extended ask the judge letter from Mars and the discussion of Slideshow, this article echoed a lot of my last round of bitching”You Stole Forty Seconds of my Life, and I Want It Back.”

And he apparently wanted his 20 minutes back from reading this, so he asked me to include it. Did you read Zvi’s article? Okay, here it is:

Dear Premium Member:

Blue sucks in Onslaught Draft, unless (i) you are the sole blue drafter, or (ii) you are one of two blue drafters, located on opposite sides. And even then, it might still suck. So, draft it at your own peril.



(Using the Wise formula from above, assuming Zvi gets 130 dollar equivalents – I have no idea if this is true or not – for each article, and this article was a little over 3000 words, Zvi got about 4.4 cents/word. The cost of my summary? $1.73 – which I still think seems a little pricey, given that this seems to be pretty widespread knowledge.)

Yeah, yeah, I know; there is a lot of other good info there about signaling and WHY blue is bad, etc., but its so much easier to poke fun at if we ignore that part, right? We Kid Because We Love.

And, yeah, I generally like Zvi’s stuff. Even when he is just saying friends don’t let friends draft blue.

9. What The….

I am far too stupid to do anything with this:

“booster box #1:

a1:288, 145, 52, 194, 91, 290, 255, 183, 23, 135, 20, 217, 129, 40, 211

a2:145, 52, 194, 91, 290, 88, 303, 139, 324, 234, 15, 184, 137, 43, 302

a3:168, 49, 243, 114, 296, 113, 257, 176, 246, 174, 26, 64, 269, 130, 61

a4:99, 302, 172, 33, 215, 115, 303, 175, 47, 234, 320, 86, 263, 262, 316

a5:148, 9, 216, 94, 248, 24, 191, 78, 317, 87, 272, 181, 60, 280, 179

a6:293, 166, 50, 202, 99, 302, 175, 25, 190, 272, 159, 167, 292, 315, 66

a7:168, 29, 201, 106, 296, 172, 183, 35, 191, 234, 93, 240, 254, 323, 330

a8:194, 74, 290, 154, 50, 243, 123, 25, 237, 283, 174, 222, 233, 79, 160

a9:91, 301, 148, 19, 221, 62, 88, 303, 139, 159, 47, 250, 193, 76, 104

a10:148, 19, 221, 62, 288, 78, 256, 34, 317, 68, 109, 249, 95, 212, 78

a11:138, 33, 188, 111, 304, 196, 88, 273, 272, 159, 324, 131, 4, 85, 143

a12:114, 293, 166, 50, 202, 196, 119, 255, 34, 228, 93, 132, 60, 11, 274

b1:32, 209, 62, 260, 148, 9, 35, 191, 113, 159, 324, 100, 241, 85, 89

b2:148, 9, 216, 94, 248, 196, 88, 228, 68, 326, 204, 107, 241, 244, 58

b3:134, 32, 194, 74, 290, 175, 24, 190, 326, 312, 20, 141, 54, 203, 206

b4:99, 275, 154, 29, 215, 139, 16, 208, 20, 235, 81, 271, 180, 137, 291

b5:210, 112, 302, 145, 88, 273, 183, 317, 68, 272, 5, 199, 79, 314, 338

b6:21, 202, 112, 253, 138, 18, 256, 158, 16, 165, 26, 12, 126, 1, 30

b7:243, 77, 275, 138, 33, 188, 237, 115, 303, 228, 68, 265, 22, 6, 271

b8:290, 134, 31, 220, 74, 260, 237, 119, 257, 272, 135, 105, 292, 315, 322

b9:145, 9, 221, 70, 248, 162, 158, 16, 196, 135, 34, 151, 163, 11, 169

b10:162, 32, 209, 62, 260, 58, 230, 115, 320, 246, 265, 132, 329, 286, 159

b11:124, 31, 216, 70, 301, 255, 123, 25, 246, 165, 26, 225, 86, 170, 299

b12:112, 253, 138, 18, 188, 255, 183, 23, 47, 317, 87, 56, 240, 95, 198

c1:32, 209, 62, 260, 175, 25, 190, 235, 320, 283, 231, 105, 38, 205, 342

c2:106, 304, 125, 18, 201, 114, 176, 58, 208, 284, 135, 226, 41, 200, 308

c3:296, 166, 21, 210, 111, 253, 256, 158, 16, 317, 68, 11, 241, 297, 177

c4:31, 216, 70, 301, 134, 32, 273, 158, 35, 284, 312, 249, 277, 128, 57

c5:216, 94, 248, 124, 52, 220, 208, 78, 256, 174, 26, 45, 323, 130, 307

c6:124, 52, 220, 91, 301, 191, 113, 257, 227, 81, 144, 56, 127, 36, 210

c7:154, 50, 243, 77, 275, 58, 230, 115, 284, 135, 34, 63, 252, 163, 108

c8:106, 304, 125, 18, 201, 23, 230, 90, 324, 227, 87, 197, 80, 83, 55

c9:9, 221, 70, 248, 162, 257, 176, 58, 234, 93, 246, 279, 147, 254, 141

c10:188, 99, 275, 154, 29, 215, 273, 183, 35, 312, 20, 250, 83, 251, 101

c11:111, 304, 168, 49, 243, 114, 90, 300, 123, 227, 81, 204, 92, 277, 281

c12:162, 19, 209, 94, 288, 124, 113, 300, 176, 326, 165, 15, 37, 195, 161″

…but I especially like the part where he says”176, 58, 208, 284, 135 . . .” , lol. That kills me.

10. Your Cartoon Quiz Answers.

(d) I swear! Check out www.yesterdayland.com if you don’t believe me.

Secret Squirrel and Morocco Mole (the Mole is the one in the Fez, perhaps the coolest sidekick ever)

Ookla the Mok (Lion-Ape Wookiesque Sidekick to Thundarr the Barbarian)

How did you do?

11. Summary?

Okay; now that I have spent 7300 words grousing about how other people are too long winded, or dopey, or unrealistic, or are living in a different time, or see things creepily differently from Us, how might I have saved you a lot of time? A $0.49 answer:

“Let me introduce myself: I am an incessant bitcher/moaner, and golly, lots of things about magic writing things frustrate me. Pls commiserate. Validations by e-mail preferred. Thx.”


I don’t think that I stepped on anyone’s copyrights with those pics, but if I did step on yours, let me know and I will be happy to take ’em down. Sorry ’bout that, chief. Also, let me repeat that I am in no way asserting thorough this article that I am not terrible. Yes, at least as terrible as you. Okay, will maybe not THAT bad, but still, pretty bad. And remember, We Kid Because We Love, and all of this is intended in that spirit 😀

Seriously, for those of you that slogged through this whole thing, thanks bunches – I hope you were at least passably amused by some of it, and not outraged by the rest. Comments always welcome.

Jon Becker

Tongo’s Counsel

[email protected].