Willie Nelson Is Full O’ Crap

Rizzo’s still on his mono-black kick – and doesn’t demand credit for it.

“I reviewed them all carefully and found plenty of solid ideas – but my concept of creating an uber-deck by combining efforts of a large group of players never materialized.”

Alex Shvartsman

Two words: Universal Net Deck.

Okay, that’s three.

And talk about a bunch of uninspiring decks over in Osaka, huh? Glad I don’t have to play Block with only two sets, how about you? To be fair, I only saw about three rounds of coverage, but I bet they were uninspiring nonetheless. Unless they were cool, that is.

Thus ends the current events section of today’s article.

Wow. No, I mean wow. And I think you’ll agree after a few pages. Or maybe you won’t.

Have we come to a time in our history where people have no sense of humor about anything? Is everyone wrapped way too tight for life? Are people so fragile that they constantly need to be patted on the head and have their egos stroked to the point of orgasm? I’d like to say”Heavens, no,” but I can’t permit myself to avoid saying”Hells yes.”

A month or so ago, I received this email:

“The deck didn’t build itself, I built it. Nobody else was playing this deck, I built it, I dominated with it… I don’t appreciate you trying to take credit for a deck by blowing off its designer and claiming, ‘I could have built it myself.'”

This was in regards to the U/W life gain deck that I played at FNM and a Saturday Type 2. I think I went a combined 3-5 or something.

When I responded, I was fairly civil because he did have a point. Barely. And I do mean”barely” as in”bare as all hell barely.” The fact is that I not only”could have built it myself,” but I did. I then saw his version and incorporated a few aspects, which I even gave him”not big enough” props in the report. But I wasn’t – and didn’t get – too upset until I read the last line of his email:

“Not trying to light a fire, I just felt a little slighted and I’d appreciate an apology…”

Tip: How to most assuredly not get an apology from me, ever:

Demand one.

The funny thing is that I was this close to actually offering at least a passable apology for forgetting to include his name when I referred to his decklist – which, by the way, was not the decklist that I actually played. The idea was very similar and used many of the same cards, but I did forget to include a link to his article as a”point of reference.”

Normally, I include links to things I discuss, but I forgot to do so before sending the article to The Ferrett. I forgot – once in a while, I don’t proofread as much as I should. A hundred-plus articles and I was a tad sloppy on one link. A minor error with no malice intended slipped through the cracks. Pardon me. So, when I read that last line, all bets were off. However, we did sort out our differences without name-calling (read: it’s over). Water under the bridge and no one was the wiser.

But I still had (and have) an icky taste in my mouth regarding that incident. Here’s why:

You’ve all read my claims of”inventing” Sexual Chocolate and Repulse and Millikin and Standstill and whatever, but I think that you know that it’s in jest. Yeah, no one on Earth ever figured out that Nightscape Familiar might be good in a U/B/R deck, right? Out of six million players, I was the only one? Only a severe egomaniac would think that he is smarter or knows more than the entire Magic playing world. That’s a lot of local Type 2 tourneys, and more kitchen tables than you can count. I, for one, don’t think that the net is ever going to be the birthplace of a legitimately new idea. Okay, it will – but not nearly as often as us writer guys like to think. I do believe that for every”revolutionary” Bargain, Trinity Green, or Replenish decklist or article you read on the net, it’s old hat to a ton of guys who have broken it to hell and back in a game of”attack left multiplayer” over pizza and beer.

A supporting argument can be made for Angry Hermit. Or Benzo.

But this guy wanted the credit. He wanted me to know that he saw me trying to piss on his invention, and was none too pleased that I didn’t give him this day his daily props. Because he invented it.

Take credit and shove it up your icehole – I don’t need it, seek it or care much about it. Those who actively seek it – nay, demand it – are sorely lacking in self-esteem.

And need to get laid. A lot.

Now, I make a million predictions; a few are bound to be correct by default. When I write about this card or that, and it turns out that I’m actually correct, of course I’m gonna get all jiggy and say that I invented it. It’s funny because everyone knows that I don’t seriously think that I am some kind of soothsayer. It’s my way of saying”Yep, I suck at Magic, but lookie here – I finally got something right!” It’s a goof and a joke and a tease, and I’m willing to be the butt of my own joke. Because it’s funny. And because I’m not wrapped way too tight for life.

Once in a while, something I say turns out to be right on, and with the sheer number of words I write… Let’s just say that the old saw about a million monkeys, a million typewriters, and a manuscript of War and Peace is indeed true.

Did anyone ever read something I wrote in which I angrily demanded credit for some idea? Or see me climb Mt. Olympus to proclaim that I am indeed bad ass at foreseeing the future and, damnit, all y’all best give me my props or I’ll kick your ass? Okay, yeah, you have, but it was funny, wasn’t it? Know why? Because everyone knows that it’s all in fun. I”invented” Nightscape Familiar, right? But I didn’t send Alex Borteh an email demanding tribute when he made top eight at a Grand Prix with 4x Tha Chocolate Lova, did I?

The answer, for those of you who do not have access to my email account, is no. (You can, however, have access to Rizzo’s email account for as little as three dollars a month! – The Ferrett)

Hell, even the Misetings writers know that it’s all in fun. Virtually any reference made to me on that site is either preceded or followed with”Nightscape Familiar” (usually involving one of us in various states of undress). Because it’s good for a laugh.

Some people are wrapped way too tight for life. I am not one of those people.

On March 13, I received another email from yet another”jilted” writer. Two quotes from the email I received regarding my Black Deck.dec:

“I was the first one to produce a decklist for a mono-Black Braids-Ichorid deck on [some other website]…”

If I was one to take the time to look up exactly who, exactly when and exactly where someone first published a decklist, perhaps I would find that the”jilted” fellow is indeed correct. Yep, someone, somewhere, at some time, published a”mono-Black Braids-Ichorid” decklist. Pardon me for not dropping to my knees, opening up, and saying”aaah.”

“Here we go again,” thought I, with a slight tinge of déjà vu up in here – but the above quote didn’t piss me off as much as the following:

“In the future when publishing netdecks, I would prefer it if the person who originally wrote about the deck could get a little credit.”

You have to be kidding me. When I read that I was so pissed that no amount of censorship or asterisks could have possibly masked my pure, unadulterated rage. So much rage that, well… It can’t be Diverted or even Deflected. Or even Absorbed in an emergency.

I can’t even begin to discuss how many things are blatantly disgusting about that quote. So in order to keep myself from having a friggin’ heart attack, I won’t. But I have a feeling that you can probably guess that the quote doesn’t, well, sit very well with me. At all.

No, you can’t possibly fathom how pissed I am. Remember that one time that you were really, really pissed? Pissed enough that you thought your head was going to explode? You’re not even close.

Normally, I would take a little space to tell you why I’m so pissed, and at what, exactly, but I figure I’ll bypass the formalities and cut right to the chase, which is certainly a rarity in an article of mine.

The following is an open letter to all net writers, big or small, who feel that they are not getting enough credit.

Dear Net Writers Who Feel That They Are Not Getting Enough Credit,

Shut the f**k up.

Have a nice day,

Johnny Shiny Happy People

I’m aware that I did an awful job of explaining, but, damnit, it’s hard to explain.

As for the above Braids/Ichy dude, we’ve kissed and made out and up, but I under no circumstances gave or received a reacharound. But I did achieve Threshold.

And then this little ditty, but a fun little ditty nonetheless with a total lack of malice in my comments (man, that’s the problem with overrusing sarcasm – even I don’t know when I’m serious), to further blur the lines and cause me further sexual confusion:

Magicthegathering.com dared me to take the challenge! So, I did.

I checked Flametongue Kavu, Nantuko Shade, Urza’s Rage, Skizzik and Mutilate. Good cards, right? But also fun cards. And therein lies the rub.

I then checked”I enjoy creating innovative decks,”” I enjoy the competition,” and”I enjoy the mental challenge.”

Unfortunately,”taking pics of hotties was not an option.”

Now let’s meet the peeps:

“Johnny is the creative gamer to whom Magic is a form of self-expression…It’s very important to Johnny that he win on his own terms. As such, it’s important to Johnny that he’s using his own deck.”

Odd that they used the name”Johnny,” huh?

Hell, Magic is more than a form of self-expression for me – it’s like a friggin’ mantra that I use to figure out what the hell life is about. Although I’m still a few picnics short of a sandwich, and my top floor doesn’t go all the way up to the elevator.

As for winning on my own terms, well, I think I’ve made that requirement patently clear, and probably used that exact line more than a few times. (The plagiarization lawsuit is in the mail.) Using my own decks is important, but I’m not averse to using something someone sent me or to taking advice from people whose opinions I respect. But the first rule of fight club is”you do not use net decks.” As if the second.

And if this is your first time at fight club, you have to go Rogue.

“Spike is the competitive player. Spike plays to win…To accomplish this, Spike will play whatever the best deck is. Spike will copy decks off the Internet.”

I’d say that if it were possible to create an anti-Rizzo profile, then that is it. It’s like the evil Superman with a three day growth and a hangover and whatnot.

Now that we’ve met the boyz, let’s examine a thing or two.

Try replacing instances of”Spike” with myself…

“Friggin’ Rizzo will play whatever the best deck is.”

“Friggin’ Rizzo will copy decks off the Internet.”

That kinda doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense, given that I doubt I’ve ever played anything remotely close to”the best deck,” and the next time I play a deck from the net, then, well… That’ll be funny. But, hey, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt.

And then, put your own name into the above quotes.

Then let’s try the same thing with Johnny…

“It’s very important to Friggin’ Rizzo that he win on his own terms.”

“It’s important to Friggin’ Rizzo that he’s using his own deck.”

And then, put your own name into the above quotes.

They said I was Spike. No, really, they did. I mean it.

“Spike will play whatever the best deck is.”

“Spike will copy decks off the Internet.”

Dear Wizards,

I invented Nightscape Familiar and demand tribute!


John Spikin’ Rizzo


That’s it – no Christmas card for Rosewater this year. Or Randy B. Or Nate.

Well, maybe a fruitcake.

“I don’t appreciate you trying to take credit for a deck by blowing of its designer and claiming”I could have built it myself.”

“In the future when publishing netdecks, I would prefer it if the person who originally wrote about the deck could get a little credit.”

What a weird ass day.

And now, onto the strategy, which is why you clicked this link in the first place.

“What does [Black Deck.dec] do against Teferi’s Moat?”

-Josh Kibbie and Bits

“Well, I think that it just loses. A lot.”

-Me, after reflecting for, oh, about one second

Dude, Josh had a point – when come the beats, Moat stops them. Cold. My first instinct was to not worry at all; who plays Teferi’s Moat anyway? Apparently, those who are seriously considering a U/W Control or random prison deck for Regionals aren’t the only ones.

Teferi’s Moat stops things from smashing your face. I’d prefer that it didn’t stop my things from smashing someone’s face. Thus, I started down the road of heresy – adding a second color to Black Deck.dec.

An email I received is also partially to blame. In said email, the (para)phrase”I’d like to see Kibler’s deck with Call of the Herd instead of FTK” got me to donning my thinking lid, which, of course, I put on backwards.

Those two dudes led me to believe that a second color wouldn’t be the worst idea ever, even if it did mean that Black Deck.dec would have to be renamed. Maybe.

My first idea was to add blue because, well… I was going alphabetically. I knew that I would only be splashing three or four cards, so they were going to have to be world-beaters on the occasions that I actually drew them. Card drawing wasn’t the answer to Moat, and something like Recoil or other bounce wasn’t exactly blowing my mind either, so I thought about more dudes. Flying dudes.

Balshan Collaborator, to be exact.

Yep, he’s idiotic in Limited – but can he be any good in Constructed? He’d get around Moat like he could get around Moat, and could just end peeps’ life with a few Swamps and/or a Coffers in play. A flying Nantuko Shade can’t be bad, even if it does cost four. But he lacked synergy with Ichorid, who is a win condition not to be trifled with at any cost. And I do mean”at any cost.” Really.

Then came the downside: Just three Collaborators would likely mean that I would need to throw in at least four or five sources of blue, which could tend to make Mutilate and Coffers a lot less good. Okay, it could make them suck a fat one if too much blue showed up. Screwing with the program to throw in a dude that could fly over Moat didn’t seem to be such a great idea.

I also toyed around with Cavern Harpy, whom I love dearly, and who would also make Braids, Gravedigger, Rager and Ichorid all the more obscene, but realized that he had all the same problems as Collaborator, with potential concerns of the life total and gating thrown in for good measure.

Also considered were Jonny Magic, Doomsday Specter (heh), Possessed Aven, Escape Routes (look it up – could be tight – Naut!), and Think Tank.

As a stroke of genius, I realized that against R/G and Sligh-type thangs, bad matchups to be sure, I could side in Delusions of Mediocrity. Think about that: Ten free life against decks that have no way to get rid of it. Hibernation made a sideboard dent as well, but it all came down to one thing:

Was weakening integral parts of the deck going to make it better overall?

The answer was no. At least with blue.

Next, I tried red, which means that I was lying about going alphabetically. My bad.

Terminate, Flametongue Kavu, Urza’s Rage and Ghitu Fire were bandied about in my melon for a few moments. Thinking about casting Ghitu Fire for a ton or more as an instant (with Coffers lovin’) made my head spin. However, when I settled down, I realized that the answer to this question:

“Was weakening integral parts of the deck going to make it better overall?” …Was still no.

White came up on me like nobody’s biz, in the form of Vindicate, Death Grasp and enchantment removal, with even Life Burst making a brief token appearance.

Q: Was weakening integral parts of the deck going to make it better overall?

A: No. Still. And quit asking that friggin’ question.

Finally, the answer hit me, or at least made me stop trying to deny what I knew from day one:

Friggin’ Pernicious Friggin’ Deed. Frig.

For hours upon hours upon days and weeks, I tried to ignore what I knew to be true: Deed is what this deck needs to put this deck on the map. I said”this deck” twice in the previous sentence; I tried for three, but failed. My bad, again.

Synergy with Ichorid? Yep – it puts dudes in the bin on demand.

Gets rid of Moat? Yep.

Doesn’t really hurt Mutilate? Yep – if I can’t Mutilate your whole team, at least I can Deed away the stragglers.

Doesn’t really hurt Coffers? Well, not too much.

Gets rid of everything on the board if I want it to? Yep. And I’d want it to, for Black Deck.dec is mainly about Braids, who can get rid of everything on the board, nay enchantments, and Ichorid, who doesn’t give a frog’s fat ass about the board. Putting my opponent’s life in the bin sounds like good times.

Sexy in the mirror? Yep – the phrase”can’t touch this” is oh so apropos.

In any kind of standoff, the guy with the biggest weapon wins; Deed is bigger than a breadbox. Oh, and it doesn’t sweat Goblin Trenches one bit, even if no one plays it and I’m just being paranoid. Substitute Squirrel’s Nest for Trenches, and I think my point is even more valid, if not less paranoid.

In short, Deed solves almost all of the problems that Black Deck.dec may encounter. Almost.

But what about Spiritmonger? Yeah, I hear you. He’s black – works with Ichy. He’s any other color – gets around Moat and Hibernation. He regenerates – a plain ol’ neato ability. Blah, You know the drill. He’s good.

But there is no room for Spiritmonger at the Inn.


//NAME: Black Deck.dec.yes.still

4x Duress

4x Chainer’s Edict

4x Crypt KEEPER

4x Nantuko Shade

3x Pernicious Deed

4x Phyrexian Rager

3x Gravedigger

4x Braids, Cabal Minion

2x Mutilate

4x Ichorid

18x Swamp

4x Tainted Wood

2x Llanowar Wastes

Six sources of green were deemed necessary. Anything less would be not only uncivilized, but also risking it. Deed can just solve problems – why short the mana and create another problem in not being able to reliably cast the friggin’ problem solver? Is there room for Coffers? Probably, but right now I’m not sure. Sixteen Swamps seems like a fair number to keep the Coffers well fed, but opening up Coffers, Swamp, Wastes is times that are probably as bad as Becky thinks they are.

Every other card is integral – yes, even Crypt KEEPER and Gravedigger. I am slightly concerned with only having 2x Mutilate, but Deed can pick up most of the slack. Yes, I said”most,” for -x/-x is oftentimes going to be better than”destroy.” I figure it’s a wash – enchantments and artifacts go away, while it’s ever so slightly more difficult to get rid of a few choice creatures. This time, the losses seem acceptable.

One thing I wasn’t thinking about, but found to be a sexy bonus (they call that”serendipity,” who was absurdly doable in”Dogma”), was the sideboard. With six green sources, adding a couple of green hosers in the board was pure gravy, especially since the hosers can be golden.

SB: 4x Compost

SB: 2x Spellbane Centaur

Deed can come out for Compost in the mirror. If Compost hits, I think that means that I get to win because you have no way to get rid of it or get around it. Ever. Against Tog, Centaur is obviously less impressive with Edicts running around, but getting Braids to stick when she hits has to be a good thing. Deed can be the card that throws the speedy U/G Threshold decks heavily into my favor, or at the very least, make a difficult match a lot less difficult. Losing one Mutilate and, in effect, replacing it with three Wraths of God can’t be bad.

“In short, Deed solves almost all of the problems that Black Deck.dec may encounter. Almost.”

-Me, a few paragraphs back

Welcome to the”Almost” part of the story.

R/G still hurts. Sligh still hurts. Badly. Really, really badly.

If this were Extended, I’d be laughing heartily as I pulled out 4x Spike Feeder and Wall of Roots… But it ain’t, and I done packed those bad boys away for the time being.

Heh. I said”I pulled out.”

In case you were unaware, green life gain in Type 2 consists of cards so horrible that Stream of Life actually looks good in comparison. After all, it’s a life gain X spell – the green Fireball! Loading all the Type 2 green spells with [the ability to GAIN]”life” in the text (that aren’t also white) gives me this:

Invigorating Falls


Wandering Stream


R/G still hurts. Sligh still hurts. Badly. No, it’s even worse than I thought.

Okay, let’s try the black spells with [the ability to GAIN] life:


Exotic Disease

Last Caress

Morbid Hunger

Nefarious something or other

Soul Burn

Soul Feast

Yawgmoth’s Edict

So. On turn 5 I can gain four life – or wait until turn 6, when I’ll be dead, to gain three from Hunger, or probably four with Corrupt. Oh, and three from Soul Burn. The other spells get a collective”heh.”

Wait! There are still artifacts to consider!


Laugh with me, not at me.

And don’t even think about walls. They aren’t gonna cut it. Watch:

Typing in”wall” and searching green gets me this:

Basking Rootwalla – I meant”wall,” as in”Walls cannot attack.” Stupid Apprentice.

And black?

Wall of Bone – A decent wall, no doubt… But it really isn’t going to be very helpful in our case, now is it? No, John Spikin’ Rizzo, it isn’t, you friggin’ best-deckin’ net-deckin’ jerky.

Can the artifacts offer any help at all?

Wall of Spears. Wall of freakin’ Spears. The toughness on Wall of Spears is…three. The power on Wall of Spears is…Two. How to get rid of this super tough bad boy?





(Doesn’t that look like too many tourney reports you’ve read?)

Firebolt, followed immediately by Zap. Or vice-versa. Or Firebolt it and flash it back. Heh; I said”Zap.” I bet this is the first time you’ve seen”Zap” since Invasion Block. But it might be tight to watch an opponent spend six mana to kill Wall of Spears.

I accept it: R/G or Sligh is almost an auto loss. I will pray for mana screw.

However, I am toying with the idea of running some combination of City of Brass, Terminal Moraine, The Dragon’s Lairs, Archaeological Dig, Invasion sac lands, Odyssey sac lands or even Forsaken City maindeck, with a five-color black kind of feel for the sideboard. With this option, I could use the best”cures for what ails ya” in the board for the R/G or Sligh matches.

For instance, board access to CoPs: Red or Green, Aegis of Honor, life gain, or maybe the Spheres from white and Delusions of Mediocrity from blue could go a long way toward helping a brother out in the trenches. That idea, while it could be good, probably sucks.

But is it turns out to be good, remember that I invented it.

Also, it turns out that my building is going to sell, thus I get to fly to Pittsburgh for a week and clean out the entire 20k friggin’ sq. ft. of crap. Oh, and there were so many responses to The Prototypical Magic Player thing, or whatever I called it, that I’m sure I’ll be collating data until the next millennium. So, if you don’t get a response to your email, it’s because I’m a) up to my elbows in garbage bags and moving vans at my building, b) without net access for about a week, and c) collating data at a cheap ass Motel Six without even time to, um, heh,”pleasure” myself. But I will get to all y’all, guaranteed. After I, um, heh”pleasure” myself.

I figured I’d get about twenty responses to the survey thingy – but at last count, it was well over a hundred. And Alongi thought he had problems. That’s a lot of data to go through, and apparently I suck at predicting things. But I want the credit when I’m right!

And the next survey will have many more sexual questions.

The”next” survey?

Heh; I think I’m kidding.

Gimme a couple of weeks, or less, for I am oh so pathetic and hate stuff to be unfinished, thus, another hundred pager is in the works for your entire lunch break viewing pleasure.

I hate me.

Yep, that would’ve been a good place to end this article, but FNM awaits. I figure I can attend FNM, get home about 10:45 or so, write up a quick report, sleep for like 10 minutes, and then dash to the airport to fly back to that place that has those guys that the Patriots killed to death.

//NAME: Black Deck.dec

4x Duress

4x Chainer’s Edict

4x Crypt KEEPER

4x Nantuko Shade

3x Pernicious Deed

4x Phyrexian Rager

3x Gravedigger

4x Braids, Cabal Minion

2x Mutilate

4x Ichorid

17x Swamp

4x Tainted Wood

2x Llanowar Wastes

1x Cabal Coffers

SB: 4x Compost

SB: 3x Addle

SB: 2x Haunting Echoes

SB: 2x Persecute

SB: 2x Spiritmonger

SB: 1x Pernicious Deed

SB: 1x Mutilate

I used to just throw in four of whatever in the board and then struggle mightily when trying to figure out what to take out. But I learned a thing or two from doing that – the most obvious of which is that’s a bad idea.

vs. Black Control or W/B Control

out: 4 Duress

in: 4 Compost

What does black have that I really care about making them pitch? Not much. However, Persecute should probably be sided in against them as well.

vs. Tog, or”I win with one guy and counters” types of decks

out: 3 Pernicious Deed

in: 3 Addle

out: 2 Mutilate

in: 2 Haunting Echoes

While throwing down a Deed with the quickness will force them to deal with it, I’d much rather attack their hand like a friggin’ savage. Oh, and the ‘yard, too. Both Tog and Enforcer will (maybe) just lose to an Echoes that resolves. By siding in Addle, along with Duress, it might do just that – resolve.

vs. U/G Speed

out: 4 Duress

in: 2 Haunting Echoes

in: 1 Pernicious Deed

in: 1 Mutilate

Yeah, need any help getting that Roar into the yard? Duress is awful in this match – unless they have a boatload of counters, which they usually don’t. However, they do put a lot of stuff in the bin, which Echoes loves. Two more ways to blow up worlds seems to be beneficial.

vs. Sligh

out: 2 Mutilate

in: 2 Spiritmonger

I probably lose unless I can get turn 4 Braids that sticks for more than a turn. Other than that, hope I can drop ‘Monger and win before they burn me out. Crappy matchup – Where?

Vs. R/G

I don’t know. This is a crappier matchup than Sligh. Good thing no one plays it.

Oh, wait; they do.

vs. U/W Millstone Control

out: 2 Mutilate

in: 2 Haunting Echoes

out: 4 Chainer’s Edict

in: 1 Persecute

in: 3 Addle

Again with the removing kill cards thing. However, Deed is the nuts if you can resolve it against Johnny 3x Millstone and 2x Howling Mine on the board… And with the extra cards you get, you just might. The discard is the cure for what ails ya, with Echoes cleaning house by his own damned self. Hopefully.

Heh, I think there are only six deck types that I might have to face? I hope I’m right. Shows what I know about Type 2, huh?

I probably still suck at sideboards, though. But I can give semi-logical explanations, and that’s worth a Werther’s.

Mesmeric Fiend? No. Ever. I don’t care how good that guy is, he isn’t going in. Ever. So stop it.

Well, maybe.

Know what? I just realized that Deed doesn’t really solve any problems that I couldn’t already solve – at least in game 1. Okay, it solves a few, but how many? Well, if it’s a creature, it’s already solved. That leaves enchantments – and who plays with any of them, other than an odd Squirrel’s Nest here and there – and artifacts, such as… Um, Static Orb, maybe?

Squirrel’s Nest makes creatures. Heh. Static Orb denies mana – hey, so does Braids!

Thusly, I’m asking myself if Deed needs to be maindeck. I’m thinking that, while it’s nice to have, if I’d need it, perhaps it doesn’t. And maybe it’s even an awful choice.

Going down that road – Deed in the side – what three green cards can I throw in the main that might have a helping hand in winning me a game or two?

Spiritmonger is the first choice, and probably the best. Call of the Herd is another option, and a damned fine one as well. Blurred Mongoose would certainly help out the control matches, right? Penumbra Bobcat would do double duty for Braids, and make Sligh or R/G kill it twice; that can’t be bad, can it? And that’s about it.

It’s looking good for Spiritmonger so far.

Muscle Burst or Might of Oaks? Heh.

Hurricane? Roar? Man, I’m really reaching now, huh?

It all comes down to this: Would I rather have Deed maindeck as a nice surprise, and a way to get rid of any unforeseen bad times, or a super fattie that can crush just about everything in his path, repeatedly? Oh, and he’s black, so Ichy doesn’t have a problem with him. I doubt Gravedigger would, either.

Okay, it really comes down to this: which is better against Sligh and R/G, my two nightmare matches: Deed or Spiritmonger?

Spiritmonger, most definitely. Oh so very much definitely.

Before I outthink myself, I’m going with this:

//NAME: Black Deck.dec

4x Duress

4x Chainer’s Edict

4x Crypt KEEPER

4x Nantuko Shade

4x Phyrexian Rager

3x Gravedigger

4x Braids, Cabal Minion

2x Mutilate

4x Ichorid

3x Spiritmonger

17x Swamp

4x Tainted Wood

2x Llanowar Wastes

1x Cabal Coffers

SB: 4x Compost

SB: 3x Addle

SB: 2x Haunting Echoes

SB: 2x Persecute

SB: 3x Pernicous Deed

SB: 1x Mutilate

Now I can’t have Compost and Deed in the same deck – it’s gonna be one or the other. And the mana might be a tad light. And am I going to get to five mana often enough with Braids as the deck’s centerpiece? And Spiritmonger really hates Mutilate. Very much.

Is there anyone else that thinks this friggin’ hard about Magic who isn’t on the tour?

Was weakening integral parts of the deck going to make it better overall?

This time, I think that it just might.

Ya know, I wanted this to be just a nice little eight-pager to wean you (and me) from the massive bombastic I unleashed last week. Yep, that’s what I wanted. I can’t even stop myself, thus saying”Somebody stop me!” is way beyond futile. Way.

FNM: Nineteen friggin’ idiots. Or if you prefer, as a St. Patty’s Day token of love, nineteen o’ friggin’ o’ drunk-ass o’ peeps.

Can Johnny bring the lovin’ to the table and defend his crown – two weeks running now?

Round 1: Frank Cushing, G/U with every token generator in the world, and then some

Frank drops an Elf and Call, while I’m thinking that I just realized how my deck wins. Take as little damage as possible by chump blocking until I can kill everything, then throw down Braids or Shade and say”deal wif dis’, sucka duck!” That’s what I do, and KEEPER is the tightest sacrifical blocker ever. Does Frank serve into Keeper with his Call token when he doesn’t have enough mana to flash it back? He doesn’t want to – but hell, he kinda has to. I kill stuff and drop three Shades. That’s fair.

In the second game, Frank drops elf, Call, Blightcutter, but stall at three mana. Key play: Frank has to decide to serve into my Shade with his team. He does; I pump and trade with a Call token, untap and say,”this is going to be very bad for you” as I double Edict his elf and Blightcutter. He draws and says go.

I untap and say”Now, this, this is going to be very, very bad for you,” and drop Braids. He sacs a land, draws and scoops. Get that? He had an elf, Blightcutter, Call token and two lands to my Shade with three lands. And just lost.

Black Deck.dec… All about your opponent making bad trades.


Round 2: Darrin Emery, Finkula offshoot

The first game is hilarious. I Duress D turn one and see six lands and Desolation Angel. Nevertheless, I drop Braids and see what I can see. Funny thing: He never really did run out of lands. Ever. And I never saw Ichy or a Shade. But I did see a fat-assed Angel comin’ up on me (after about twenty minutes).

Game two is about Darrin’s hand, and my raping of it. Duress shows me he has no blue mana, but four blue cards in hand. Addle shows me a additional blue card without blue mana, so I drop Shade and Persecute him over the next two turns. When you lose Recoil, Meddling Mage, Dromar’s Charm, and Fact or Fiction, it’s kind of hard to recover.

The third game sees me drop turn 2 Compost, which Darrin hates so much that he Vindicates it as soon as he can. I take that opportunity to drop Braids, and it’s soon over. Man, tapping out early game against Black Deck.dec can be some bad times.


Round 3: Issac Graham, R/G

This is funny. Issac and I sat down to play what I thought were in between-rounds”fun” games. When he noticed that I wasn’t keeping score, he said”sup with that?” I replied with,”You’re keeping score, and that’s good enough for me.”

Out”fun” games consisted of me beating the living piss out of him, even though I shouldn’t. Ever. He only dropped three or four dudes, which I killed, and then I ran over him with Shades and Ichy.

The second”fun” game was all about me drawing three KEEPERs and using them to not only chump block, but remove Reckless Charge and Firebolts from the yard with the sickness. I drop ‘Monger and then another ‘Monger, and you can count on one hand the number of ways a R/G deck can kill that bad boy. Okay, you can count it on zero hands.

We went out for a smoke and I noticed that peeps were playing. I walk back in and notice that the pairings are up, and have been for twenty minutes. I ask Issac what is up with that, and he says”Yep, we just played – that was our match.”

Heh. I won and didn’t even know it. And against a bad matchup. I was playing awfully fast and nutty, with little regard to”proper” play; maybe that’s the key?

3-0 In first place and I like it.

Nick Camire, with R/G, was playing Chris Hardy, with Tog, in the back. They were the last match playing, so everyone crowded around. Chris has a Tog in play and is couting down the turns until he can attack and do lethal damage. He finally pitches his hand and empties his yard and serves. it looks awful for Nick, who doesn’t have a dude on the table.

Can you say”Moment’s Peace?” And can you counter it twice this turn?

<insert uproarious laughter here>

Yeah, Nick won that game.

Lesson: If you play Tog, use Peek or Duress or both. You’re welcome.

Round 4: Eric Corriveau, R/B

I mulligan and keep a one land hand, but it has four Duress. Plus, after this match we’ll cut to the top four, so I figure what the heck. Needless to say, my hand doesn’t materialize, although my Duresses make sure Eric hand takes a while to get tight, and he runs me over with a – count it – 11/11 Magnivore.

I have a bombay hand in game two: Braids, Shade, Edict, Duress and three lands. I Duress E and see Duress, Addle, Skullscorch, Johnny Blaze, and some land. Um, yeah. Wow, my ass hurts. Johnny Blaze times two get me to about eight, and then Magnovire – this time a 13/13 comes to play. I’m playing off the top, but the way, and only need to draw three Edicts to stay alive. Oddly, I don’t.


Standings after round four:

1 James”Killin’ bitches wif da” Kindness, Wild Plagiarize

2 Eric Corriveau, R/B

3 Seth Wilson, Kibler.dec with, wait for it – Crypt KEEPERS! Boo. Ya.

4 Ryan Sheil, Flametongue

5 Nick Camire, R/G

6 Me, some black deck

Who is in first place after round three, loses round four, and drops all the way down to sixth friggin’ place? You know who. But you probably don’t know why. And neither do I. How fairly ass. Seven guys were at 3-1. In a nineteen-guy tourney.

Wow, that’s kind of annoying. Kind of.

Alas, Black Deck.dec is now 14-4. More importantly, I still like it. Can it be that I’ll play a black deck at Regionals? Could be – but man, I’m getting like fifteen decklists sent to me every day. And they all look good. Sup with that?

Since my flight to Da’ Burg doesn’t leave until 6:30 a.m., and it’s only 10-ish when the top four starts, it seems like there’s time for a draft, right? Well, after the top four and finals take another two hours, and I don’t even realize that it’s now twelveish, we get down to business. Who has a forty-five minute drive home followed by an hour drive to the airport? You know who, but you probably don’t know why.

Draft: Eleven or twelve guys usually means bad times for Becky’s Concubines, but this is what my deck looked like…

3x Dirty Wererat, no, that’s not a typo


Shambling Swarm

2x Syncopate

Cephalid Looter

Upheaval, and I didn’t take a second one that I could have


Patriarch’s Desire

2x Cabal Torturer

Whispering Shade


Organ Grinder

And three Psionic Gift in the board.

Uber-tight. The guys on both sides of me were playing blue also. It’s odd when you’re on your tenth pick and see a pack with Dreamwider, Repel, and Rites of Refusal, ain’t it?

Bluest. Draft. Ever.

Round 1: Chet, U/W

Wow, does Chet not like Wererats, or what? However, he does have a lot of weenies that I eventually kill. But then he drops Mortivore, who’s a 16/16 or so. Not good for Johnny, since my dudes can no longer block, so Johnny casts Upheaval, drops a land and says”word em’ up.” Needless to say, when Chet gets to four mana he drops Mortivore. I still have the same Syncopate that told me to Upheaval, for it would be good times. Man, it’s like I actually knew what I was doing.

The second game is all about me getting two Torturers and a Wererat with a Gift. Wow, everything you play gets to die. Immediately.

Round 2: Frank Cushing, U/W

Frank keeps a two-land hand that never – and I mean never – sees a third land. My fourth-turn Whispering Shade pecks at him until I get out two Torturers into play, which leads to a scoop ’em up.

The second game comes down to me blocking two attacking dudes with two Wererats and a Shade with one black mana open. I realized what a ridiculous situation this was; both of his dudes were going to die, and the only thing he could kill would be the Shade. Wererats are kinda good.

Round 3: Nick Camire, R/G

I come out like gangbusters, and do something I’ve never done before and don’t reccomend for the squeamish: I dropped Patriarch’s Desire on a Wererat. Heh. Man, does a 4/1 regenerator, soon to become a 6/1 regenerator, just wreck stuff or what? Yep.

In the second game, I get Nick down to about seven or so when he drops Holistic Wisdom. From there, it’s just a matter of time before he can recycle his Firebolts and Chainflingers and Thermal Blasts and kill me and my guys to death. And that’s just what he does.

Freakin’ combo decks.

Game three deciding play:

I have a Desired Wererat, quickly becoming my favorite play ever, and a Shambling Swarm to Nick’s Chainflinger and 5/5 Springing Tiger. Nick thinks and thinks, since I’m at twelve and he’s at eleven or so, and could potentially just take over right here.

What he does: He flashes back Volcanic Spray and hits everything for one, which forces me to regenerate the Rat, so he shoots it with Flinger in response. Since I only have one untapped black, da’ Rat hits the bin. Now, Nick thinks for a minute or two and then attacks with the Tiger.

Space for you to figure stuff out…

Yep, I blocked with Swarm, put the D on the S, let my guy die, and put 1 counter on the Tiger and two on the Flinger. It was that damned Volcanic Spray, and the fact that Nick forgot about that one pesky damage that it had already done to everything already. To be fair, I didn’t remember the Spray either when I blocked. However, when I went to distribute counters, I did the math:

5/5 Tiger with one damage from Spray + 3 from swarm + 1 counter = bury that dude.

2/2 Flinger as the only other dude in play = have a counter, and thank you sir, you may have another.

Man, Shambling Swarm is all about cute little interactions, ain’t he?

Next turn, I drop another Rat and go to town.

Round 4: Seth Wilson

Rules gurus, please help:

Seth has a 3/3 Springing Tiger who gets two damage put on him by a Whispering Shade. After damage resolves, I tap Torturer and add a -1/-1 counter to kill him. Seth casts Refresh in response. Now here’s the thing:

The Tiger has two damage on him until end of turn unless it somehow gets removed or prevented, which means that until end of turn he’s a 3/1 dude… Regen shield or not, he’s a 3/1, right? Now, giving a 3/1 dude a -1/-1 counter is going to kill him, no questions asked, ain’t it? However, we had a mini-lawyering session, and since no one there was a judge, after about five minutes Seth drew his card from Refresh and buried the Tiger.

(He’s wrong – save your emails, folks – damage does not make something a 3/1, it makes it a 3/3 with two damage with it – The Ferrett, level 0 judge)

Although I’m still not convinced that he believed me when I told him that his Tiger was deader than a doornail.

Unless I’m wrong, damage doesn’t get removed until Cleanup. Until then, all damage on dudes stays on dudes, unless it’s prevented or healed some other way. Putting a regen shield does not UNDO the damage – it’s still there. Regen basically means”the next time -this- would be destroyed, regen it.” Since the Tiger was not destroyed, but hit with a -1/-1, he’s all about being very dead, regardless of how many regen shields get thrown up on him.

(Wrong again – The Ferrett)

If I’m wrong, or right, and you are a real judge, please drop a brother a line so I can print it out and bring it for next time. I hate when peeps think that I might be trying to pull a fast one. If I did pull a fast one, then I’ll own up to it, but I’m pretty friggin’ sure that I’m right. In fact, I’d bet a buck or two. Maybe three. But not four.

After his Tiger bit the dust, I got Threshold and shot his guys with Torturer and ran over them with two more Rats.

The second game was fairly anti-climatic: Da, Da, Rats, Da, Da, Da Rats. And Ichy too.

Hey, I won a draft. With more than eight guys. What the hell?

I got home at 3:45 a.m. to find my wife awake and telling me that we had to go to the airport in a fifteen minutes. Heh. Thanks for not calling the hospitals, too.

I stayed in too many hotels, moved way too much stuff into a giant ass moving truck and drove for sixteen hours in a blizzard during the next week. Remind me to never tell you about any of that. But please keep in mind that Willie Nelson’s desire to be”on the road again” is nothing but mindless propaganda. Being on the road sux0rs. And suxxors too.

A deep-ass tongue kiss (followed by hugs) until next time,

John Friggin’ Rizzo

P to the S: I stayed up until about 4 a.m. every night in random hotels collating the data for the Search Thingy, which I saved onto a floppy, and then signed on when I finally got home to find another 31 responses. By the way, I still haven’t even replied to all those who sent the response in the day that it was posted, for I was a busy little skank without net access, so please give a brother some latitude on the reply time – you will get one. So it is written, so it shall be done, yo. Tardiness doesn’t mean I don’t like you, but feel free to think that if it makes you feel better.

And wow, I’m one stupid sumbitch, huh?

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