The Night god Retired
John’s Cards & Comics was a hole in the wall shop about two minutes from the Octopus Garden; I’d first discovered it while looking for the latest Cerebus the Aardvark anthology. John had a sign in the window saying that he had weekly Magic tournaments, so I asked him about it. Unlike some of the other places I’d heard about that held informal tournaments, John said he had an open format: any card was fair game. Even those normally banned. Also, no cover charge or entry fee. Basically, John had two rules:
1) no burn decks, and
2) John (if he played) could not lose.
Fine by me.
I just wanted to play, anyway, so this set-up appealed to me — especially the “any card goes” concept. After all, if you got it, flaunt it. As most of you know, I’m just in it for style points, anyway — more interested in having fun than winning. I usually don’t win, but I lose most impressively.
Well, just before trekking out to Badass, I thought I’d try my hand at crafting a real deck, just to see if I could still do it and win.
Dark Ritual (4)
Library of Alexandria
Maze of Ith
I have since come to call it the PestoDerv deck. It has a lot of little nuisances (pests) that quickly combine to a brutal massacre.
The strategy, like the deck itself, is interconnected. Use Pestilence for creature control, which clears the way for the Dervishes. Since they have Protection from Black, the Pestilence and The Abyss don’t affect them. Pestilence also puts the “Fun” in Fungusaur — just do a 1 point poke at the end of every turn, and it will be HUGE in no time. This deck does as much damage to me as it does to my opponent, so the Soul Nets and Roots of Life help take the edge off that. Soul Net is awesome in this deck, simply because there is so much inherent creature removal.
This is also a great deck for Multi-Player Magic, and since (at the time of this writing) the key cards are still in print, I highly recommend it to anyone looking for new deck ideas. A little tweaking can customize it to your own style while keeping the core strategy intact. I’ll take the Pepsi Challenge with this deck any day of the week and stand proud.
Obviously, not all of you have those cards. However, since I’ve got the Old School card base, and (equally important) the skill to use it correctly, I have earned the nickname “god.” (I’d capitalize it if I had Timetwister and TimeWalk, and were less modest...) Actually, that’s my nickname among the players with enough knowledge to appreciate the cards that I’m using. Everyone else calls me Howard Stern. Most of the newbies never understood the god name because I wasn’t winning the tournaments. Again. they didn’t understand that I wasn’t trying to — I was just in it for the fun
And that I think is the sign of a superior player — when you are secure enough not to care about winning.
But that last night, I wanted to win.
About ten in all, the usually it is a mix of Newbies and Veterans, and even the untrained eye can spot the difference before it finishes blinking. Questions like, “What’s Upkeep?” are key clues that separate the men from the boys. Although I’m in it for style points, I try not to play the Newbies for two reasons. First, the games take forever because I only use old cards (which they don’t know) and they only use new cards (which I don’t know) and we have to spend all our time explaining what each card is. More importantly (in terms of Style Points) they are just too inexperienced to appreciate my decks. Every week I get some yung’un pawing at my cards crying “wow, I want that!” I shoo them off, saying, “sorry, but you’re not worthy enough to touch my cards!”
My last night, it was a fairly even mix of Familiar Faces and Fresh Meat.
Also joining us, fresh from a hard day’s slacking as cashier at Publix, was StinkyFeet Girl.
The Legend of StinkyFeet Girl
Her name’s Lisa, actually; a short, chunky dishwater blonde with coke-bottle glasses and a moderate southern drawl. I knew her by reputation before I actually met her; she was a regular at the Barnes & Noble I worked at. She would come in, get a cup of coffee at the café, grab a stack of magazines, and go lounge in one of the many chairs stationed about the store. We encouraged our customers to make themselves at home, and she certainly did this, leaving a mess of magazines and books for us to clean up at the end of the night.
And yes, she would frequently take her sneakers off and plot those plump feet up on the table. No exaggeration — you could smell that shit an aisle away, earning her the nickname StinkyFeet Girl. Like her friend Nanook (200 pounds of Samoan vegetable) she would frequently come up to us while we were working and try to engage us in friendly conversation as if we had been life-long buddies. I usually got out of it by saying “excuse me, but I have to go, uh, alphabetize the Pets section.”
I first met her, without realizing her secret identity as SFG, one evening when I was buying something at Publix. She was my cashier. I was paying by plastic, and she looked over my card.
“I know your brother.” she tells me.
“No you don’t.”
“Yes I do; I went to high school with him.”
“No you didn’t.”
“Sure I did,” she tells me assuredly.
“I don’t have a brother.”
“Oh, aren’t you related to the Farrells out in Palm City?”
“Huh. Well, there are a bunch of them out there.”
“Only one o’me.”
Get the picture?
…but I digress…
So it’s my final night in Florida, and I showed up early to say good bye, schmooze, trade, and mostly to size up the victims. Rob and Chris, two of the top players, didn’t show up, which was good in terms of increasing my chances of actually winning, but bad because I enjoy their company. Actually, not all that many people showed up; maybe eight or ten — normally there are more. However, who should show up, but StinkyFeet Girl, still in her Publix smock. She had a deck and a dice bag; she intended to play.
The Continuing Adventures of StinkyFeet Girl
Although I didn’t know it that moment, I’ve since realized that I had a run-in with her at a previous Magic outing. I was playing my Underworld Dreams “Draw ’till you Die!” Deck (you all know it & love it… or is that loathe it???) Anyway, she had some half-assed White/Artifact deck, and during our second game I got off Jester’s Cap. Since my deck is built around Dreams, I went fishing for anything she had that might remove it. Her deck being white, my prime target would be Disenchant. That's tied with Tranquility as the one card that would bring my deck to a dead stop.
I checked her deck twice — she didn’t have any, nor were any in her graveyard.
“Don’t you any Disenchants?”
“Disenchants?” she screams. “Are you crazy?!?”
“Well, yes, but Disenchant is the best white spell there is.”
“But it gets rid of artifacts and enchantments!” she shoutingly defended (as people stopped playing to spectate) “My deck is nothing but artifacts and enchantments.”
I tap my in-play dreams. “So’s all this, and if you disenchanted it, I’d be castrated and have no way of winning.”
She still didn’t get it.
Then again, the saddest aspect was there was nothing in her deck that scared me enough to Cap it out anyway.
StinkyFeet Girl also introduced me to a new rule that has since become a staple joke among the Magic crowd there: “Passing The Draw.”
During our first game, she told me “I’m going to Pass The Draw,” and promptly draws a card.
“Excuse me?” I ask, confused.
“I’m Passing The Draw.”
“I don’t understand.”
She is clearly confused that I don’t understand. “Passing The Draw. You skip the option of playing any cards your turn to draw another card.”
“Oh,” I say, still confused. “And what lets you do that?” I’m guessing this is some ability of a card she has in play.
“Nothing — it’s a rule.”
“It is?!?” I ask in disbelief. Granted, I’m a bit behind the times on my rules lawyering and errata knowledge, but still… I ask around, “Hey, anyone ever heard of Passing The Draw?”
“Isn’t that an album by Bad Company?”
She insists it’s a rule she’s read somewhere.
“Yeah,” Chris wonders a little too aloud, “maybe a house rule…”
Anyway, we promptly call Bullshit on it, and I kick her ass about eight turns later anyway. My next match after her was against Chris, one of the best players there. He promptly tells me during is first turn, “Ok, I’m gonna Pass The Draw…”
We all start cracking up, but she yells from the other side of the room, “It’s a real rule, I swear!”
This quickly degenerated to me saying, “All right, I’m going to Pass The Discard Phase,” “I’m Passing The Damage Resolution Phase,” etc.
From then on, whenever I lost to Chris, I would say, “I know what I did wrong! I didn’t Pass The Draw!”
Back to the Action
I’d already told everyone there The Legend of StinkyFeet, so the moment she comes in the door, Joe (aka Burn Deck) yells “StinkyFeet!”
That set the tone for the entire evening — Joe yelling “StinkyFeet” in a high-pitched squeak at random intervals. It became the running joke of the evening — so much so that when I got home later and found I had to retransmit the World Domination Relocation Update, I made the last-minute change of the Secret Word of the Day to (you got it!) “StinkyFeet.”
So anyway she sat down at my table, and I felt my IQ drop twenty points.
During the pre-tournament festivities, she launches into a sick contest with one of the other players, essentially centering around who has a better recollection of Jeff “you know you’re a redneck if…” Foxworthy jokes. I guess this was the White Trash version of Snapping. She was not only proud of the fact that she had all of Foxworthy’s books, tapes, and videos, but was actually smug about it. So she’s going back and forth with this guy, waiting to see who’s memory of the material would give out first.
I lean over and loudly say, “You might be a redneck if you’ve sat down and memorized all that crap.”
Joe adds, “You might be a redneck if you have StinkyFeet!”
Needless to say, she won the contest.
To my knowledge, it was the only thing she won that night.
As for myself,
The format was simple: each match was decided by the best of three games, thereafter winners could only play winners, loser could only play losers. I ended up playing four people, and went 8-2 overall.
I started off against Joe, who despite the Branch Floridian moniker Burn Deck, was playing a cool Black/Blue bruise deck. Lots of creature control to contend with, but fortunately a first turn Juzám Djinn helped set the tone.
Next was a Newbie I didn’t know, who actually handed me one of my losses courtesy a quick Goblin/burn deck. No finesse or style, but obviously the brute force approach worked. At least until I dropped Pestilence and stopped the swarm in their tracks. He actually won the tie-breaker for me, by misplaying Final Fortune. He was all psyched about getting an extra attack, which actually would have dealt lethal damage — had I not had Zurin Orb out. His extra turn ended with me still alive, so game over.
Matt (Joe’s roommate) gets my vote for StyleMeister, with his “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf” deck. It was actually a good deck, and would have done a lot better had I not gotten off a 5-card Mind Twist on the first turn. I kind of hated to do it to him, but I was playing to win, and he was cool with it as I crushed him a few turns later.
The major threat of the evening came from Nick, the other undefeated player who I took on in the Winner Circle.
Nick is that nasty breed of Magic player who (ahem, allegedly) gets half his cards by ripping off newbies during trades. There is also extensive evidence that he has sticky fingers when he looks through other peoples’ collections. He’s also extremely arrogant and is a Rules Lawyer of John Grisham proportions (ie: long-winded, boring, & rarely right.) Perhaps his worst feature is his lack of originality — all of his decks seem to come straight out of InQuest, Duelist, or Scrye Magazines. He once complained, “Gee, I haven’t won a tournament in a while!” Rob replied, “That’s because the new InQuest isn’t out yet.” Nick once claimed that a lot of his deck ideas came from his brother. “Yeah,” Rob snapped, “Brother InQuest.”
In his defense, Nick is a very good player who has never done anything bad to me personally. (well, he did rip me off on an overpriced sale of a Megrim, but other than that…) He was playing a Red/White deck built around some new creatures called En-Kor. I gather it was just a tweaked version of one of the pre-constructed decks available. He actually won the first game, by a fairly close margin. But the second game I saw how his deck worked, and adjusted my playing style accordingly. I think I won both games the same way — by having more life than he did and just going nuts with Pestilence.
So with some skill and style, I took him out and won the tournament.
Who da man?!?
god does the victory dance!
Nick was actually flirting with StinkyFeet Girl, which made me wonder: if they had a child, what would it look like? Probably have Sticky Fingers and Stinky Feet.
The Token Holocaust
Since I locked up the winner’s bracket, Joe and Nick dueled each other for Second Place. While waiting for that outcome, I asked StinkyFeet Girl if she wanted to play. After all, just because someone has Bromidrosis and the IQ of a grapefruit is no reason to avoid them.
Well, actually, it is, but I was bored, and she was the only person there not currently playing a game. So what the hey — emember, I’m just having fun, right?
Joe promptly began a shrill chorus of “StinkyFeet!” which caused a laughing convulsion that really threw off my concentration.
She was playing a straight Green Thallid deck, which at first caused me to laugh. After all, anyone concocting such an asinine assembly couldn’t hope to win, so she must be like-minded and just in it for kicks, right? In fact, it seemed it was more her intention to Millstone me to death than swarm me with Saprolings. Well, I later learned that it’s her favorite deck, and she actually does try to win with it. The fact that I was laughing and she wasn’t confirms this.
Needless to say, the moment I dropped Pestilence, it was all over. Think of it as a Saproling slaughter for just one Swamp mana.
During this, Joe wanders by, and sees me playing her. I forget if he commented on the fact that I was playing her or that she was playing Thallids (possibly both, even) but she goes, “well, people sometimes do weird things.”
“Like wash their feet?”
Traditionally, the final event of the evening is a big multi-player game with everyone who is still there.
Although my winning deck would probably do quite well in the Chaos Game, I very specifically use a different deck for it. Straight Black, with global effects like Pestilence and Armageddon Clocks. The two kickers are Tacklemaggots and Siphon Souls. The ’Maggots are group fun, because everyone can pass them around. The ’Souls are in it because it’s a “more the merrier” card — once we had 15 players, so I gained 30 life from it!
We only had about six or eight people playing by that time (alas, StinkyFeet had wandered off by then) so it was not as much fun. And it only got worse.
Normally, Rob and Chris team up and attack Nick right off the bat, not stopping until he’s dead. However, the dynamic duo weren’t there, which gave Nick some breathing room. However, Nick had prepared in advance for such an event — he brought along a friend and gave him a special deck to use.
Nick’s deck was built around some bizarre combination (no doubt gleaned from the pages of InQuest) that essentially allowed him to generate an infinite number of 1/1 tokens. His friend had a deck that was nothing but Counterspells. Obviously, Nick was using him as a shield — he countered anything that would have hurt Nick’s precious combo. Our guess is that they had a signal system (ie: a kick under the table) for Nick to tell his buddy to Counter something. There clearly was something wrong, because the kid was countering stuff he shouldn’t have (like my Pestilence, which would have once again stopped the Token spree) but letting all of Nick’s powerful stuff through.
Anyway, it was pretty nasty, and left a taste in my mouth akin to a dead gerbil.
Although there was no way of it happening, what with Nick’s counterspell companion covering his ass, I have since realized that my deck had an awesome way explode Nick’s strategy in his face. I was going creatureless, and had a Balance and a Dingus Staff in my deck. If Nick creates his infinite hoard, I could Balance him down to none, and they would each trigger the Staff. He would take infinity times two damage. Sweet!
Didn’t happen, of course, but it would have been the best way to cap off my career and end the legacy.
Still, it was a fun night overall, and a fitting note to retire the “god” moniker on.
back to the games page