Every Fourth of July weekend I get on a puddle-jumper and land in Rochester’s tiny airport for a few days of family bonding, fireworks, and delicious grilled meats. I do my best to hit a local FNM on the trip. It’s a nice break from the family fun (lots of strong Jones personalities in one building for four days demands some solo time occasionally). Friday afternoon I put a Junk Aristocrats deck back together.

Junk 'Crats

Creatures (25)
Varolz, the Scar-Striped
Doomed Traveler
Cartel Aristocrat
Young Wolf
Voice of Resurgence
Skirsdag High Priest
Blood Artist
Obzedat, Ghost Council

Spells (10)
Lingering Souls
Tragic Slip
Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
Lands (25)
Woodland Cemetery
Temple Garden
Isolated Chapel
Godless Shrine
Overgrown Tomb
Gavony Township
Sunpetal Grove

Sideboard (15)
Abrupt Decay
Sin Collector
Deathrite Shaman
Appetite for Brains
Garruk, Relentless

Obzedat, Ghost Council is maybe the only maindeck card that differs from the deck I played to 18th place at a NJ PTQ a month or two back.

As I was throwing this throwback together I found some cards from #GPVEGAS in a deckbox. I was getting ready to toss the non-money cards in the trash when my almost three years old nephew, Sebastian, asked me what I was doing. I told him I was making my Magic deck and that Magic is the collectible card game of strategy and imagination. “Uncle Matt, silly,” he replied. I handed him Thirst for Knowledge and he walked away with it. I went back to checking which cards I had left behind in Brooklyn that are must-haves in Junk ‘Crats. The list of missing cards was longer than I wanted and definitely cost more.

2x Tragic Slip
1x Obzedat, Ghost Council
3x Woodland Cemetary
1x Sunpetal Grove
2x Skirsdag High Priest

It’s not clear why I thought I had brought my Junk ‘Crats deck when I was missing that many cards. I desleeved the Dragon Shields they were in. They were covered in paint in an inconsistent manner and I didn’t want anyone complaining to me. My cards mostly live in my studio (though Jen would say they live at her house) and my studio is home to gallons of paint. Sometimes the two of them meet.

Sebastian came back up to me holding Thirst for Knowledge and asks, “More?” I handed him the rest of the non-money Modern Masters cards I nearly threw away and he’s happier than a pig in shit.


After a hearty meal of Rochester-area hotsauce-drenched burgers, haddock, fries, and fried mushrooms, I arrived at The Comic Shop in Oswego, NY. The shopkeep said FNM wouldn’t start til 6pm and that I’m the first one there. I handed over my $10 and he asked me which pack I wanted. “Why?” I asked. “Because it’s $10 for Standard and you get a free pack,” he said. I took a pack of RTR. With an hour to kill before FNM I bought a Superman/Batman comic illustrated by Jae Lee (one of my very favorite comic artists of all time), read it in the car, opened the pack (nothing worth noting in it), drove to Wal-Mart to see if maybe a store out in the boonies would have cheap Wizards products, then drove back.


This time I bought a new brand of sleeves, a deckbox by the same company, and volumes 17 & 18 of The Walking Dead. I was able to trade for or purchase all but one Woodland Cemetary from the guys and gals upstairs at FNM. Chief amongst the traders and borrowers and sellers to help me out was friend of Anthony Lowry’s, Jay Dee. We’re Facebook friends now. He’s a sweetie. I was good to go.


During trading I talked up Hipsters to the local peeps and three had heard of the blog and one had read my GP Vegas articles. That always feels cool. I handed out a ton of our business cards, and one dude put it in his binder. Two other players threatened to make our card their Commander in EDH. Awesome.

I keep pestering the guy that runs FNM for a final Woodland Cemetery so I can swap out my fourth Overgrown Tomb for it. He never comes up with it. “Oh well, hope I don’t run into any aggro decks, I guess,” I told him. He laughed.

A nice guy named Rich let me borrow an Obzedat, Ghost Council. I put up my extra Sorin as collateral.

Round One vs. Alex’s very pure RDW


In two games I was able to do two points of damage to young Alex (a 16 year-old who, when asked, guesses my age at 23). His motherfucking Vexing Devils just kept showing up, probably three per game, every game. Do I take four or hope I can sac a dude and Tragic Slip a Devil? It didn’t matter. He burned me alive. He Pillar of Flamed my Voice of Resurgences. He Pillared my Doomed Travelers. The guy was relentless. We played nine games of Magic before the next round started. He won the series 6-3. The last two I won with young Alex keeping incredibly questionable hands. One landers. You know, shit like that.

“You like living in Oswego?” I asked him.
“Yeah, it’s fantastic.” He replied.
“Ha! That sounds sarcastic!”
“It’s not, it’s a great place to live.” He said, earnestly.

Round Two vs. Bert’s Junk Aristocrats (GREAT! THE MIRROR!)


Bert was sleeving up his deck when I was scrounging for the cards I was missing. I knew he was on Junk Aristocrats, too, and I really hoped we didn’t have to play as I had zero Intangible Virtues in my 75 (a card I’d been told was key to the matchup but Nelson didn’t play it at GP Miami so whatever).

Our life totals went back and forth time and time again. Game one took twenty minutes. Game two took nearly as long. It came down to him flooding out late game two and me having more blood artists both games. We were the last players done that round so had no time for any further practice games.

Of note: Skirsdag High Priest was a huge factor in game two. The two demons I made through him did the final bits of damage and provided key blocks seemingly out of nowhere. Bert sided in three Abrupt Decays and one Obzedat, Ghost Council. I didn’t side anything at all. He took out two Skirsdag High Priests, a Sorin, and a Varolz. He -1’d his Garruk Relentless to get his Obzedat but couldn’t cast it on his turn. I had one in hand and cast it, not letting it exile itself at the end of my turn. I wanted to see if Bert would play his, knowing that they’d both die and he had just negated the life gain and loss I’d caused on my turn. He played Obzedat on his turn and killed them both. This kind of play will be a thing of the past in ten days or so.

Round Three vs. Dana’s RG Aggro

Dana declined to have his photo taken or even a photo of his hands as he shuffled.

He beat the snot out of me game one with cards I have never seen in a constructed game of Magic including: Ground Assault, Clan Defiance, and Gruul Guildgate. It hurt. It hurt bad.

Game two is hot and heavy but I’m able to swing in with five spirit tokens with a Sorin emblem. Dana’s daughter came up and asked him a question, er, she started to, when we were at a pretty tense moment in the game. Their conversation went something like this:

“What is it honey?” He asked.
“I’ll wait until you’re done with this game.” She smiled.
“There’s gonna be another game after this one, what is it?”
“(Insert boy’s name) is feeling down after (some event) and needs some cheering up. Can I go meet up with him?” She hoped.
“Absolutely not.”

I truly regret not being able to fake-dad Tali more when she was a similar age to Dana’s daughter (Tali’s the amazing kid I raised with her mom, my girlfriend at the time, from the ages 2-7; she’s now 16 and we hangout at least once a week, usually in my studio where we paint or draw or just shoot the shit). However, I’m sort of grateful I didn’t have to deal with Tali and boys. Who’m I kidding? I’d have loved dadding even if I had to deal with Tali and boys.

Before too long I had hit him again with even bigger spirit tokens and took the game.

Game three was as pathetic as all games are when one of the players keeps a one land hand and doesn’t draw three lands in a row.


I didn’t write down this guy’s name but I feel like he’s a “Rick.” I’m probably wrong. He does something for the military and was really stoked about his new motorcycle that he’d sold his legacy cards to afford. When I saw he had a full sleeve outer space tattoo I asked for a photo and he agreed. It’s pretty awesome.

Round Four vs. Paul’s Red Deck Wins (with some help from white)

You may recognize Paul from the photo of my round one opponent. That’s him in the back. Alex and Paul are friends and both have little interest in non-burning your face off styles of Magic. The two shit on blue enough to make them honorary Obliterators.

Game one I’m able to get Paul to one life. He’s cardless on his turn, top decks a Devil’s Play and kills me with it, doing two damage. Top deck Devil’s Play for the win? Has anyone heard that in constructed Magic? Well, I have. I heard Paul say Devil’s Play for two! And then laugh heartily.

Game two Paul got me as low as four life but Blood Artist triggers and other things Junk ‘Crats does well happened and I took Paul down. Almost exactly the same thing happened game three. Paul and I agreed to split our prizes as Paul was 1-2 and couldn’t win anything if he took the match and I would get four packs if I was given the win. He was grateful.


My spoils from one pack of Ravnica and one of Dragon’s Maze. Pretty sweet. Everyone loves shocklands.


After that I booked it out of The Comic Shop’s second floor ‘cuz I was promised a bonfire if I made it home by ten. The duration of FNM it had been pouring outside so the bonfire plan was all wet.

I highly recommend, if you’re in the Oswego area, attending FNM at The Comic Shop. It is super laid back, you play some crazy weird decks, meet some excellent people, and can win some sweet packs. If it all goes to shit you can buy a few comics or comic related toys, clothes, or Star Wars stuff downstairs in the main shop. I had a total blast as I always do at a lakeside FNM.


I watched a kid drink that whole two liter of “Citrus Soda” over the course of two hours. I asked Alex if the kid was worried about getting diabetes and Alex said, “Sadly, I think he’s already there.”

I pulled up to a stoplight listening to the poorly lyric’d “Ya Hey” by Vampire Weekend (an otherwise amazing song that I can usually block the lyrics out of so I can enjoy it’s beauty). Looking over I saw Dana driving him and his family home. He nodded at me.

“I lost to a 16 year-old,” I shouted at him through our cars.
“I lost to a nine year-old once,” he laughed and turned right as the light turned green. I continued straight and half an hour later I was snug as a bug in a rug back in Fair Haven.

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