Rotisserie Drafting: Champion of Champions (of Side Events), by Adam Barnett
So… Nationals didn’t go quite according to plan… After finishing Day One on 5-2, I figured a 6-1 to the Top Eight was still within my reach. I quickly went 0-2 after I stubbornly refused to pair black with the two white picks I had already made. The correct move should have been to just pick up the best cards for the first few picks and realise white wasn’t actually open. Instead, I had an awkward WR deck that was “fine” but lost 4 straight games to [card]Phantasmal Dragon[/card].
My plan at this point was to keep on grinding Nationals just so I could put up a decent finish. This plan changed when Matteo pointed out that he and DanG were both signed up for an Alara block draft that needed another four people to kick off. While Alara was far from my favourite draft format, it still seemed a lot more interesting than the “M12 0-2 bracket matchup” followed by playing CawBlade in a field of people who hated birds with swords.
The Alara draft ended up being a good way to play some fun Magic. I had the option of SERIOUS GAME FACE Magic in the form of a UW Exalted Aggro deck that was being handed to me on a platter (after opening [card]Sigil of Distinction[/card], no less), or a slightly less optimal 5 Colour Control build. Given the chance to draft a 2/2/2/2/2 manabase, I could hardly have refused. I ditched my first-pick and started slamming [card]Resounding Silence[/card]s. Matteo had much the same plan and, despite being to my left, was skilful enough to open a [card]Lavalanche[/card] and [card]Martial Coup[/card] that would prove to be “quite good“.
I ended up losing in the second round of the single elimination. I knew I was in trouble when, during Game 3, my opponent land cycled his [card]Absorb Vis[/card] at the end of my turn. Normally not overly worrying, but he already had 7 lands in play.
“That can’t be a good sign.”
[card]Hellkite Overlord[/card] has joined the party.
I stared at the [card]Resounding Silence[/card] that sat uncastable in my hand and scooped my cards up. Matteo had already crushed the sick UW Aggro deck (Wall of DENIED), and had started chatting to my victorious opponent.
“Hey… do you know about the Rotisserie draft prize draw?“
… the what now? I listened as Matteo explained (multiple times) about the Champion of Champions event being held on Sunday. Each person who won a side event would be entered into a prize draw for the chance to take part in a Rotisserie draft of the entire Scars of Mirrodin block (all the sets laid out at once with public picks being made by the 8 players… look up Rotisserie drafts for more details). Matteo quickly secured his chance to compete in the event and I was left wondering how many more side events I would need to play in to get my chance as well.
I decided to spectate some matches in order to artificially inflate my perceived ability at this game (“Obv. you misplayed!! How are you x-1??“) until a new historical draft was announced – Mirrodin. The draft filled fairly quickly and, to cut a long story into a marginally less long story, I won the draft while opening a [card]Sword of Fire and Ice[/card]. It’s just the way I roll. After going to the pub for steak and beer, I got some sleep and woke up bright and early the next day.
Strolling into the tournament site at 9am, I realized I didn’t actually know when the Champion of Champions event was going to take place. I even had a brief moment of fear when I wondered if the prize draw had already been held and I had missed my chance to play in the event. I made my way over to the events table and noticed Glen holding a list of participants for the event, complete with two alternates should the first eight not turn up. My name was not on the list.
I shrugged and decided to durdle for a while until they started announcing historical drafts. I’d already been given a tip-off that at least one Ravnica draft would be happening that day, so my plan was to watch feature matches and stay within sprinting distance of the draft sign-ups. I hardly paid attention to the announcement asking for the Champions to report for their event. My ears did perk up when the announcement changed…
“Only 4 people have signed up for the Champions event. As such, we’ve drawn two more names for the event; Matteo Orsini-Jones and Durdle McDurdleson. People will be signed up on a first-come, first-served basis.“
A quick scan of the room revealed a lack of Matteo shaped objects (well… Matteo shaped objects that were actually Matteo, anyway). Out came my phone and the call was made. Matteo answered and confirmed he was not on site. I let him know his name had been called and that he needed to get down here while I attempted to secure him a place in the event. Glenn was resolute though – any player wanting to take part in the event needed to be stood in front of him and ready to draft. On the plus side, there were still 3 spaces available so Matteo still had time to get here. The downside was that Glenn would be announcing more players who would be able to sign up for the event every 10 minutes.
“Two more players will now have the chance to sign up for the Champions event; Adam Barnett and Random McRandomson.“
Of course, “downside” really depends on where you’re standing. Personally, I was standing at the event registration table before Glenn had finished saying “McRandomson”. It turned out that Random was also in the building so there was only one slot left. I was assuming that any person who heard their name called would have moved at a similar speed to me, but it turned out that one player had “expressed an interest” but was finding it hard to motivate themselves across the room to sign-up…
This meant Matteo was in a two-man race where he had to start from his hotel room while the other guy was on the other side of the room. Despite Matteo’s athletic physique, this ended up being a race he couldn’t hope to win. McDurdleson sauntered up five minutes later and casually signed up for the free event which offered picks from the entirety of the set. No need to hurry, after all.
Breaking the Format.
Of course, I was now qualified and needed to go about winning the whole thing. The actual prize for winning was the first pick from the card pool when we redrafted the rares and mythics. What this effectively meant was that winning wasn’t actually all that important. Looking at current prices, there’s no single [card]Tarmogoyf[/card] or [card]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/card] level card in the set. All this meant that first place would have the first choice of which $25 rare they wanted. Personally, I had my eye on the [card]Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas[/card] that would help fill out my playset.
While I still wanted to win the event, I certainly wasn’t going to get uptight about it. Before I knew I was signed up, I had already been talking about strategies with one of the people in the original eight; Martha. Martha had been at the pub the previous night and seemed to be as lost as everyone else about the correct way to approach this unique format. My advice was similar to most drafts – take the generically powerful cards first then try to move in on an undervalued strategy. Try to consider some strategies beforehand so you have a selection of 3 or 4 that you have already thought through and then go for the best of those.
Another important point was that the commons were now as multiple as the mythics. You couldn’t get 3 [card]Arrest[/card]s in your deck, but if you really wanted a certain Mythic then you had a good chance of picking one up. For instance, you might pick up Venser early and try to abuse his flicker effect (adding redundancy in the form of [card]Glimmerpoint Stag[/card]). Finally, if someone wanted to be able to wrath the board, they’d have at least one wrath if not more. This is doubly true in Scars block where every good rare seemed to be a full Wrath or a one-sided Wrath.
At this point I became aware of one particularly brave (crazy?) player in the event. I don’t have names available to me at the moment so I’ll have to go with nicknames, but this guy had no idea what was in the set.
He had never drafted or played with Scars of Mirrodin block cards. His name will be “Never Seen the Set” Guy. I decided to do my best to get him up to speed on the format and try to point out some early picks he might want to consider. Possibly one of the things I said stuck with him; “There are a lot of wraths in this set“. He ended up with a solid Esper Control deck, although he did miss out on some stand-out cards for his deck due to not being familiar with the cards ([card]Wurmcoil Engine[/card] went in the first five picks but [card]Chancellor of the Dross[/card] was never picked).
The draft process was explained to the many people who had never done a Rotisserie before. In the end, I think everyone agreed that they would just be picking a card whenever the judge pointed at them and not pay too much attention to what was going on. At this point I’d like to congratulate Henry Guille who was calling this draft. He was consistently clear about who should be picking and made a point of announcing every card a player had picked. This left me free to concentrate on my own particular draft strategy… constant movement.
The table had been arranged with all the cards laid out in set order and facing in one direction. This meant all the players were on one side of the table and the judges were on the other. This meant the players were constantly getting in each others’ way in an attempt to read cards and work out what they would be picking when their turn came. I hadn’t even made my first pick before I moved to the judge side of the table. I could now spend my time sprinting from one end of the table to the other to check what cards were being left or whether a key card for a strategy was still on the table. I can only assume I looked insane as I ran from one end to the other, waving my hands around in an attempt to visualize and keep track of what was happening at the table.
I would be the 6th player to be picking, although this did mean I would also get the 11th pick on the way back. When I first discovered when I would be picking, I was vaguely disappointed. I had a reasonable idea of what sort of cards I wanted to first pick, and now there was a good chance I wouldn’t get any of them.
Imagine my surprise when [card]Sword of War and Peace[/card] was the first pick and, by the time my pick rolled around, I still had the choice of [card]Batterskull[/card], [card]Sword of Feast and Famine[/card] and [card]Wurmcoil Engine[/card]. I ended up taking the Sword on the basis that I wouldn’t be dropping Batterskull with mana to protect it unless the game went long and that both the pieces of equipment seemed more flexible than the Wurm (plus I would rate Batterskull above Wurm anyway). Sword could come down and be equipped for the same total cost of the Skull. As a random plus, it would even have protection from the Skull’s Germ token should I ever have to face it down. At the same time, if it survives, the Batterskull seems like it could be more powerful and it comes with its own Germ to carry it. Thoughts anyone?
Then the unthinkable happened. 7th pick was being made by “Never seen the set” Guy. 8th and 9th pick passed and still the [card]Batterskull[/card] sat on the table. NSTSGuy also left the Batterskull and I happily scooped it up. Turns out the guy picking 8th hadn’t realized the powerful equipment was still on the table. My position as 6th Picker had changed from “missing out on power” to “grabbing two pieces of sweet equipment”. Now people had to start settling into strategies and the real fun could begin.
As my third pick approached, the two players immediately before me picked up [card]Sunblast Angel[/card] followed by [card]Phyrexian Rebirth[/card] (exact picks might be slightly different, but the relevant point is they were two white control cards). My brow furrowed… surely Elesh Norn should have been taken by one of these two? I strolled over to the powerful Praetor and added her to my pile. The person immediately after me picked up a late-game white bomb. At this point we were running the risk of 4 heavy white drafters in a row messing up the picks for each other. I needed a new strategy and fast. My name was already being called and I figured I might be able to beat the control decks on card advantage so I grabbed Venser with an eye towards using various tricks to pull ahead in control mirrors. At this point, [card]Volition Reins[/card] was picked by the white control player who had been picking before me.
I needed an exit strategy. Everyone wanted the big, splashy late game cards and wrath effects. My mind went to the Standard format and I thought about how strong [card]Shrine of Loyal Legion[/card]s and [card]Glint-Hawk Idol[/card] were in a wrath heavy format (popping shrine end of turn with a [card]Tempered Steel[/card] out is often game over). If I could combine this with some haste guys, I could minimize the impact of wraths and steal a bunch of wins. My next two picks were [card]Hero of Oxid Ridge[/card] (with [card]Hero of Bladehold[/card] already gone) and then Urabrask. Unfortunately, there seemed to be a white based aggro strategy already taking place as well as a possible mono-red burn strategy (although I’ve no idea what they took over my two picks).
It was at this point I realized that literally no green cards had been taken. There was a reasonable amount of time before my next pick so I started moving around the table and verifying my findings. So far, no infect cards had been picked up and no green cards at all. Could I really throw away my picks 3 through to 6 and move in on Infect?
“Adam to pick. He takes Viridian Corrupter.”
So I had gone for it, but why [card]Viridian Corrupter[/card]? There were a few reasons. First, the artifact removal was going to be massive. As mentioned, spot removal would be in short supply but the things you wanted to remove could be potentially massive. Also, if Infect didn’t work out, I still had a solid creature that I would maindeck if I were playing green. I started picking up green infect creatures as well as some of the artifact guys. I wanted to make sure I had a strong curve so I prioritized [card]Ichorclaw Myr[/card] pretty highly. Weirdly, someone else had already scooped up the [card]Necropede[/card] as an early defensive drop. It was also at this point that the next level of my strategy was decided upon.
Several of the best black infect creatures had already started to disappear. The Esper Control player had taken the [card]Phyrexian Vatmother[/card] as a generic wall/beat-stick. Skittles had been picked up by the mono-black deck as an awkward to kill flier. Most worryingly, another player had decided to move in on Infect and had snapped up both [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card] (pretty much the pick before I was about to take it) and [card]Hand of the Praetors[/card]. This same player had also moved in on [card]Corpse Cur[/card] just before I was about to take it as well. I identified this drafter as Enemy#1. I needed to keep an eye on his picks and try to pick up the contentious creatures just before he could get his hands on them. While he had taken away two great picks from me, I often heard him complaining that I had just taken the card he was about to pick up.
The most important realization I made was that black was a no-go. If I couldn’t pair the green with black, I needed to look at some of the tertiary infect colours. Blue was quickly eliminated as [card]Corrupted Conscience[/card] had already been picked up and this left me with [card]Viral Drake[/card] and [card]Blighted Agent[/card]. Red was a possibility as it would allow some surprise Battle Cry from my [card]Hero of Oxid Ridge[/card] while Urabrask would help me deliver some infect beats. On the downside, red was already being over-drafted. All the good shatter effects had been taken (I believe [card]Scrapmelter[/card] was a 3rd/4th pick for one player) and even [card]Volt Charge[/card] had been taken by the mono-red deck. White, on the other hand, still had an [card]Arrest[/card] and a [card]Divine Offering[/card] up for grabs as well as the strong white infect creatures. The fact that two of these creatures had evasion and one of them could come down on the second turn quickly sold me. The best thing was nobody else was going to take them! This left me free to pick up the strong white removal cards first. Okay, somebody did scoop up the Arrest before I got to move in on it… but the rest of the plan worked out perfectly.
One interesting point is that, with half the cards left on the table, many of the drafters wanted to stop picking. Thankfully, the ruling was that all players would need to agree to stop before we would stop. I hadn’t even picked up my white infect creatures yet! Also, there were still a bunch of sideboard cards I needed to pick up. I had actually made sure Melira was added to my card pool early on in my picks. Playing GW, there was very little I could do about the Infect Hoser. As an added bonus, taking her out of the card pool meant I had a very strong sideboard card for the mirror match. I continued to pick up powerful situational cards like [card]Pistus Strike[/card], [card]Puresteel Paladin[/card], [card]Wing Snare[/card], [card]Razor Hippogriff[/card] and other cards with specific players in mind. For instance, knowing that there was a mono-red burn deck meant any life gain I picked up might come in later.
As I was picking up the last few cards, I asked how long the draft process had taken. I was thinking it was somewhere around an hour, possibly a little longer. The actual elapsed time was two hours and forty-five minutes. I had been concentrating so much on the draft that my entire perception of time had gone out the window. Okay! No wonder my feet hurt…
1 [card]Sword of Feast and Famine[/card]
1 [card]Viridian Claw[/card]
1 [card]Ichorclaw Myr[/card]
1 [card]Blight Mamba[/card]
1 [card]Rot Wolf[/card]
1 [card]Lost Leonin[/card]
1 [card]Priests of Norn[/card]
1 [card]Tine Shrike[/card]
1 [card]Shriek Raptor[/card]
1 [card]Divine Offering[/card]
1 [card]Phyrexian Swarmlord[/card]
1 [card]Green Sun’s Zenith[/card]
1 [card]Viridian Corrupter[/card]
1 [card]Tangle Angler[/card]
1 [card]Phyrexian Hydra[/card]
1 [card]Carrion Call[/card]
1 [card]Plague Myr[/card]
1 [card]Apostle’s Blessing[/card]
1 [card]Razorverge Thicket[/card]
I’m going from memory for this deck-list, so it may not be 100% accurate. For instance, the [card]Apostle’s Blessing[/card] in the main-deck may have started out as a different card. A few sideboard options were available to me, but I decided to make a main-deck that was as aggressive as possible and focused on closing out games. If my opponent was able to wrath, I could get back into the game using an equipped guy or just finish my opponent off with a [card]Putrefax[/card].
Round 1 – WR Metalcraft
During the draft, I had seen this player pick up cards like [card]Kuldotha Forgemaster[/card], [card]Blightsteel Colossus[/card], [card]Sword of Body and Mind[/card], [card]Mox Opal[/card] and [card]Scrapmelter[/card]. It sounded like I should expect a control build with a possible combo finish of Forgemaster putting One Shot the Robot into play. I never saw the Forgemaster during the games we played, so he may have decided against this plan.
Sadly, these games were fairly one-sided affairs. We ended up playing out four games after I quickly put the score at 2-0 (followed by 4-0). During the games, I also saw [card]Precursor Golem[/card] (which was happily cleared out with [card]Divine Offering[/card]) and [card]Wurmcoil Engine[/card] (which also received a Divine Offering after it had been declared as a blocker). I played around possible wraths that never showed up and his impressive guys tended to end up chump blocking my armed minions.
There was one game where my opponent made [card]Norn’s Annex[/card] to dissuade me from attacking (a possible sideboard card he had brought in?), but it was rather undermined when I added [card]Batterskull[/card] to the board… and I was playing white anyway. A [card]Sword of Body and Mind[/card] proved to be a nuisance at one point, but I bounced my Batterskull back to hand to generate a black Germ token to block with. Of course, I then immediately drew my [card]Viridian Corrupter[/card] and that provided a more permanent solution.
Round 2 – Esper Control (“Never seen the set” Guy)
After I sat down, I started to think out loud what cards I thought I had seen my opponent pick up. Exact card names were hard to recall, but I seemed to remember a [card]Black Sun’s Zenith[/card] and a [card]Sunblast Angel[/card] being involved. I decided to make a point of not overextending and quickly kept a hand that had a Sword and a guy to put it on. Game 1 went fairly smoothly with very little pressure from my opponent. His threat light draw meant he had to make a [card]Chancellor of the Spires[/card] to block with when there were no targets for the ability in my graveyard. At one point, I played around Black Sun’s Zenith by not making a [card]Blight Mamba[/card] when I already had two creatures in play. While most wraths aren’t going to kill the Mamba, the Black Zenith would have still been able to wipe my board. At this point, I overheard the guy to my left play the Zenith to wipe the board in his game.
“Guess I can stop playing around that card.”
The mamba entered the battlefield and I made sure to keep regeneration mana open. While my opponent could still have potentially killed it with a [card]Massacre Wurm[/card], this would still leave my other two creatures in play (I believe a [card]Tangle Angler[/card] and a [card]Cystbearer[/card]). Playing in a singleton format like this one certainly has some strange nuances…
One interesting point I noticed during game 1 is that he’d picked up the mana myr for his colours. I think the commons a player drafts in this format say a lot about their skill level. Instead of being distracted by another massive derf, he had identified a hole in his curve and filled it. Add to the fact that he had no prior knowledge of their existence and this became even more of a feat! I wouldn’t be surprised if he had picked up the [card]Necropede[/card] to act as an early blocker as well.
I spent some time considering my sideboard options for this match-up. A couple of cards moved around, but the most important change I went for was to add [card]Decimator Web[/card]. While my opponent seemed to have a good number of creature kill spells, I hadn’t seen any artifact removal yet. Also, he seemed to be relying on big, game ending creatures to win with. Bringing in the Decimator Web meant I gained reach should the board ever stall out.
It quickly became apparent that my opponent had also made some sideboard changes. On turn 3 I was staring at a [card]Necrogen Scudder[/card] and my opponent pointed out that, against me, it’s effectively a 3/3 flier with no drawback. As experienced drafters of the format, many of us will have already made this connection to life loss against a poison deck not being an issue. It was nice to see that this guy had quickly worked it out. What was particularly troublesome was that his deck also had [card]Moriok Replica[/card] and [card]Phyrexian Rager[/card] to further push the “no drawback on these guys!” theme.
The game ended up as a race between my sideboarded [card]Decimator Web[/card] against his Scudder, another random dork and the [card]Numbing Dose[/card] on my creature. Suddenly the Web looked a little slow and mana intensive against his beat-sticks, and the board ended up with him swinging for 7 damage when I was on 8 life and the Numbing Dose would kill me in my upkeep. He attempted to hurry the game along with a quick “and you die in your upkeep to the dose“, but I responded to the trigger by giving him his tenth poison counter.
“Sorry… I know how the rules work.”
Given my opponent’s experience with the game in general, I suspect he also knows the rules and was trying to force me into a “win on the board” scoop. Always be wary when your opponent is trying to rush you through the motions. If an opponent is hurrying you through a specific play, check that you’re not missing something obvious that will give you an edge (or just let you flat-out win). While I was already aware I had the win on the table, my opponent’s insistence that I was dead would definitely have tipped me off that there was something I should be aware of. On this note, always be careful with your own body language in these sorts of situation. Oh… and never, ever, ever point out the “obvious play you will make to kill me” if you actually want your opponent to make that play. You may as well show your opponent your hand while shouting “I AM GOING TO WRECK YOU!!“.
–RANDOM ASIDE TIME–
Having already stolen Matteo’s slot in the tournament, I figure I should also steal one of the stories he told me from Nationals. Joe Jackson was playing a [card]Birthing Pod[/card] deck and the game was looking bleak. He’d been in the tank for a while and the correct play hadn’t come to him yet. At this point, his opponent piped up with…
“Just as well you don’t have a 3 drop or you could pod it away and fetch Hero of Oxid Ridge and kill me.”
Joe surveyed the board and agreed that would be the correct play. He made the 3-drop from his hand, podded it away into [card]Hero of Oxid Ridge[/card] and won the game. Thanks, opponent! Does this conflict with my message from the previous story? Not really. If your opponent is trying to find their only out, it’s probably in your best interest not to point it out to them.
–END RANDOM ASIDE–
Round 3 – GB Infect “Enemy#1”
It turned out the Infect strategy had worked out well as my opponent for the final round was the more traditional GB Infect deck. His deck had several cards that I had wanted such as the [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card]. He also had all the good black infect creatures except for Skittles. [card]Hand of the Praetors[/card] was a card I was particularly worried about due to the lack of removal in my deck. I did have the massive spoiler that is [card]Sword of Feast and Famine[/card], and I hoped to draw it as often as possible in this match.
By turn 3, the board was my [card]Plague Myr[/card], germless [card]Mortarpod[/card] and 3 lands while he only had 3 lands in play. His only non-land play was a now dead [card]Plague Stinger[/card]. He untapped and made land into [card]Hand of the Praetor[/card] and I considered my next play. The spells in my hand were [card]Putrefax[/card], [card]Phyrexian Swarmlord[/card] and a [card]Green Sun’s Zenith[/card]. I was able to make my land for the turn which gave me 5 mana. Green Sun’s Zenith would probably fetch up a [card]Rot Wolf[/card], which would threaten to trade with the Hand if it attacked, or a [card]Tangle Angler[/card]. My problem with this play was that any creature he played next was likely to be bigger than any of the creatures I could Zenith for (with the Tangler quickly becoming irrelevant without some friends).
The other option was to make Putrefax and swing. Best case scenario, he blocked and I inflicted 3 poison and killed his Hand. That seemed unlikely… so I would probably be dealing 5 poison. This line of play would then set me up for a massive swarm off my Swarmlord. I preferred this option, as the 3 poison I would take from the Hand was not going to be an issue and the Swarmlord could block the Hand or any 3 power infect creature and still swarm my opponent out. I made the Putrefax and dealt 5 poison when he declined the block.
Unfortunately, I had not anticipated the line of play he went with. He untapped, cast and activated [card]Trigon of Rage[/card] and swung with his 6/2 Hand. I was tapped out and forced to take it, leaving me on the back foot and facing down a lethal Hand. I drew land and thought through my possible plays. The Swarmlord was no longer the best play as it would force me to tap my [card]Plague Myr[/card] and the Swarmlord would trade with his Hand. The army of bugs still seemed like my best route to victory, so I decided to use the [card]Green Sun’s Zenith[/card] to fetch a reasonable blocker. My choice came down to [card]Rot Wolf[/card], [card]Cystbearer[/card] or [card]Viridian Corrupter[/card]. The card I would draw from the Rot Wolf didn’t seem too relevant. I preferred to corrupt his Trigon on the off chance his hand was removal spell and lands. I fetched the Corrupted and equipped the [card]Mortarpod[/card] to it, although this did leave my Plague Myr tapped down. The reasoning here was that if he killed the Corrupter, I could still ping his face and, combined with earlier pecks from the Plague Myr, finish him off in response. In reality this was flawed and I should have kept the Plague Myr ready to chump… and this mistake ended up costing me. He killed my guy and had the lethal pump spell to take game 1.
Thanks to my previous sideboard drafting, I had several options available to me before we started game 2. Melira was a given as the “infect hoser” is one sided and wouldn’t turn off my infection. I dislike [card]Blight Mamba[/card] in an infect mirror as it becomes a vanilla 1/1 guy for 2 mana. Also, I didn’t like [card]Batterskull[/card] as the lifegain seemed irrelevant and it felt like the mana intensive “infinite 4/4” aspect wasn’t going to be fast enough. I boarded in my [card]Puresteel Paladin[/card] and [card]Heavy Arbalest[/card] combo while cutting /card]Carrion Call[/card].
My opening hand for game 2 contained Plains, Plains, Forest, Bonehoard, Mortarpod, Puresteel Paladin and another card I forget. On turn 2 I made the Paladin and smiled when my opponent led off with a Plague Stinger. Turn 3, I cantripped the Mortarpod and kill his flier while swinging for 2 damage. He passes turn 3 with no action and I was pleased that my Bonehoard germ could survive thanks to his dead Stinger. My opponent hesitated before untapping, making me believe he had some sort of removal in hand. Turn 4 he tapped out for Hand of the Praetors.
At this point, I was surprised to already have 2 artifacts in play and a third in hand in the form of Plague Myr. My play sequence for this turn ended up as: make Plague Myr, equip Pod to the Bonehoard Germ token and ping Hand, equip Bonehoard to Paladin, equip Mortarpod to Plague Myr to ping his Hand to death, pay to equip Mortarpod to Paladin and swing for 5. He shook his head at the mayhem wrought and immediately destroyed the Mortarpod with a Glissa’s Scorn when he untapped. This seemed a bit questionable, but he wanted to race my 5/5 with his [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card]. He bashed me with the manland and I drew into Melira. Basically, I drew the nuts in this game.
My opponent tapped out for Geth, but this traded with Puresteel Paladin and Melira was suited up in his place. A bit of [card]Morbid Plundering[/card] attempted to hold me off, but an angry Melira with a Bonehoard was not going to succumb to Phyrexian forces. At one point he moved to put some -1/-1 counters on Melira after a chump block, and I pointed out how very unlikely it was that could happen. The raised Geth entered play again and, after quickly verifying the size of Melira, promptly returned to being dead. With no more chumps left, my opponent died to regular, boring damage.
Before game 3, I contemplated returning the [card]Batterskull[/card] to the main-deck. At worst it was still a 5 mana 4/4. I decided to stick with my game 2 configuration. This was fortunate as game 3 ended up being the most aggressive game I played that tournament. We got to an interesting board position where I was on 6 poison with a [card]Cystbearer[/card] in play and he has [card]Phyrexian Crusader[/card] and an [card]Inkmoth Nexus[/card] ready to bash next turn. So far he had taken 2 poison. I was a bit apprehensive about a [card]Glissa’s Scorn[/card], but decided that I needed this [card]Sword of Feast and Famine[/card] in play if I was going to win. I played it, equipped and smashed face. When no response was forthcoming, I was pretty sure the game was wrapped up. I untapped my lands while he discarded and he asked if it was now his turn. Man! Still got all deez untapped lands! I made [card]Rot Wolf[/card], gave it a sword and tried to figure out what his outs could be.
My opponent drew and tanked for a while. After some consideration, he activated his Inkmoth Nexus and swung in. With no blockers for the land, I took the poison up to 7. This seemed like a pretty brave move unless he’d just drawn into Glissa’s Scorn to kill my sword (he also could have used [card]Blunt the Assault[/card] to negate my attack, but I was pretty sure no one had picked up the bad fog). I decided to play around the removal and used my Green Sun’s Zenith to fetch up Putrefax. My opponent scooped as soon as I attacked with the team. I asked if he had the out to the Sword.
“Yeah… I’ve got Glissa’s Scorn.”
“In your hand?“
“Oh… no… I’ve got nothing in my hand. Just this [card]Caress of Phyrexia[/card] I was going to kill you with next turn.”
This line of play confused me as he should have used the Nexus as a chump for a turn and then hoped his Crusader could get in for the extra poison that would let him kill me with the Caress. While this was a long shot, it seemed a lot better than hoping I wouldn’t make the same attack I had made the turn before. Either way, I had won the event and the Tezzeret was mine (plus a bunch of other cards, of course).
Hope you enjoyed my first tournament report for Manaleak. While the event itself used a structure that won’t come up too often (and was in a format that’s now largely irrelevant), I’m hoping it was entertaining anyway. Also, I think there are a couple of reasonable strategic points made which were general enough to be useful. Not sure if I will be writing any more articles after this one, but I’ll see if I can motivate myself to report on the Innistrad prerelease when it comes up. As a sneak peek, I’ll probably open massive bombs and crush.