This first story takes place about ten years ago around my kitchen table. My brother, Syd Lexia, was taking his turn and started eyeing our friend Chris’s Argothian Enchantress. This is the exact exchange that took place:
Syd: “What does this do?”
Chris: “It’s an untargetable Verduran Enchantress.”
Syd reads over the card, looks at his hand, then drops a Hammer of Bogardan on top of it and triumphantly declares “IT’S HAMMER TIME!”
Chris, facepalming: “No, Syd. It’s not hammer time.”
My friends and I have continued to celebrate misplays and illegal actions by letting the guilty party know that it is indeed not hammer time. This happened multiple times while playing cards recently, and as such this article is dedicated to many of my favourite such moments.
We were in a rough place this evening after my buddy Jim cast Praetor’s Counsel to return about 20 cards to his hand. The following turn, our friend Eric cast Conflux and began furiously searching his library for a way to save us all from the impending doom. After letting him search and decide on his five cards for a couple minutes, we finally decided to point out that the Mycosynth Lattice that he had cast the turn before was going to make it awfully hard for him to find all of those coloured cards he was searched for.
My friend Arthur went into the trash to retrieve a couple chicken wings that had been thrown out by mistake. This one’s not really Magic related, but it’s still a savage misplay.
It took me three attempts to write this article. I wrote it once, and WordPress deleted most of it. I rewrote it, and WordPress deleted it again. Lucky for you, in the time since I overcame my rage to rewrite this, we played cards again and Arthur made another savage misplay. I was playing my Erayo, Soratami Ascendant EDH deck, because I’m a jerk. I was able to cast and flip Erayo on turn 5, much to the dismay of Jim. He was ready to scoop, and Arthur proclaimed “It’s okay, Jim, I got this” with a ridiculous grin on his face. I pass the turn, and Arthur gets ready to show me what’s what. He casts a Worldly Tutor to trigger Erayo, and then says “Living Death!!! Oh…it’s an enchantment? Well there goes my plan.”
I could go on like this for days with little stories of all the ways my friends and I have screwed up, but instead I’ll just tell you all the two most epic stories I have of when it was most assuredly not hammer time.
This first story is one I have alluded to on many occasions, but this is the first time I have told the story online. When I was 14, I showed up to my very first ever sanctioned event: a Pro Tour Chicago Qualifier in 1997. The format was Mirage block constructed, or “Mirvislight” as we called it back in the days when “block constructed” wasn’t even really a thing yet. The Dojo either didn’t exist yet or was its infant stage, so, like everyone else, I was running a deck that I had designed and tested myself. Mine was a suicide black deck.
My first round was unspectacular. So much so, in fact, that I don’t remember anything about it other than I won. Round two I get paired against some guy named Mike “Loco” Loconto. Despite having an international booster subscription to The Duelist, I failed to recognize him as the winner of the first ever pro tour. He wins the die roll, but game one is over before it even begins. He drops a Bad River and passes the turn. I drop Swamp, Dark Ritual, and then Choking Sands his Bad River. His second turn he does the same thing, and my second turn I do the same thing. Turn three he misses his land drop and is forced to discard an Ertai’s Familiar (This was back when whoever went first drew on their first turn still, so he was at 8 cards despite going first).
He is now officially on tilt, though to his credit very quietly so. I then smash his face in with Tar Pit Warriors. The entire ordeal lasts about 90 seconds.
Game two is where the real excitement happens. He again stars slow, but gets to keep his lands. My turn one I Dark Ritual into a Hidden Horror, discarding a Tar Pit Warrior, and my second turn I drop a Skulking Ghost and start swing for four. If you’re wondering why I’m running such seemingly bad cards, just remember that it was a different time, and that the fragile creatures made delicious snacks for my Necratog. He kills the ghost on his third turn, and my third turn I Dark Ritual into Gallowbraid. Before you get too excited, Gallowbraid is on the reserved list and will NOT be appearing in FTV: Legends.
I’m as disappointed as you are.
I keep swinging a couple times and keep dropping fragile guys that get targeted, but he’s now at dangerously low life. My turn six is when the big play went down. He’s at single digits of life and getting worried. I swing with Gallowbraid, and he casts Necromancy on my Tar Pit Warrior to try to absorb some trample damage. I try very unsuccessfully to stifle my laughter, because he has both tried to turn Necromancy into a Healing Salve and failed to do so. He asks “Well can I have it?” at which point I explain to him that it is indeed not hammer time.
Please note that under the current oracle text that his plan would have worked fine. At the time, however, Necromancy returned the creature to play and then targeted it, thus triggering the Tar Pit Warrior’s death. I explained this to him at which point he leaned to his left and asked Shawn “Hammer” Reigner if I was correct. Hammer informed him that he was quite boned. Loco takes the five damage.
I then tap three mana and remove all the creatures in my graveyard from the game to cast Haunting Misery. If you had to just read that card to see what it does, you and Pro Tour winner Mike Loconto share something in common. He read the card, signed the match slip, and banged his head down on the table. Hard. He didn’t even pick up what little of a board he had, and I’m 99% certain he was crying. The entire ordeal lasted approximately seven minutes.
To make matters worse, when I brought my match slip up to the head judge he was in such disbelief that I had not only beaten Loco but had beaten him so quickly, he went to Loco to verify that yes, he had just been shellacked by some little kid.
That is probably the most epic example I have, but this is actually my favourite story of someone completely screwing the pooch. My friend Steve loves to build silly decks that may or may not even have win conditions in them. One evening he was playing one of these decks: a mill deck. The early turns were spent dropping Howling Mines, Millstones, and Cosi’s Tricksters which got a couple counters.
Then the Time Walks began.
Steve has both damage and mill at his disposal against six opponents. He decides that it’s time to take eleven extra turns, because why not? He starts attacking and milling people, however instead of focusing damage on one player and mill on another until they’re dead and moving on, he spreads the damage and mill around. Everyone takes a little damage, everyone takes a little mill. It was the single most inefficient use of eleven extra turns and multiple win conditions that I have ever seen.
Finally, thanks to a previous Time Stretch, Steve begins what would be his twelfth turn. That’s when he realizes that there are four Howling Mines in play, and three cards left in his library. That’s right, my friend Steve took eleven consecutive turns with his mill deck, and the only person that he decked was himself.
And so we found ourselves at the end of the article. There is no moral to any of this other than “Don’t eat trash chicken.” and “Don’t do stupid stuff.” but I hope you’ve been entertained. I absolutely encourage everyone to share their favourite stories of people misplaying in the comment section, because I know that I and everyone else would love to hear them!