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Summer Championship Finals: A Report (Part II)

September 5, 2012

(This is the second part of my report about the Summer Championship Finals. You can find the first part here, which includes the deck list for my Standard deck.)

Game. On.

Round 1 Vs. White Weenie

My opponent’s deck was looking like a deck heavily metagamed against Zombies with both Knight of Glory and Mirran Crusader in the main. Unfortunately for him, Blade Splicer is quite the house against small non-evasive creatures. Game one ended in a quick fashion with me flickering a Blade Splicer a couple of times with Restoration Angels.

For the second game I brought in the control package of Day of Judgments,  the extra Gideon Jura and the extra Oblivion Ring and took out Gut Shots and 2 copies of Phantasmal Image.

The second game was even less close. He didn’t come out of the gates all that fast so I was allowed to set up my control plan without no real pressure on me. Once the board was scary enough I played Day of Judgment and followed it up with a Sun Titan that first brought back a Blade Splicer and then a Vault of the Archangel to lock up the game.

1-0

Round 2 Vs. Naya Pod

The first game started out quite slow as I used a Gut Shot to take out his turn 1 Birds of Paradise. We durdled around for a while, he played a couple of guys while I sifted through my deck with various cantrips. After some trading happened and a removal spell from my side, the game looked pretty good for me since I stuck a Gideon Jura. However after that I drew mostly air while my opponent drew action. A miracled Bonfire of the Damned from his side ended up being the coup de grace. In hindsight I think I was a bit frisky during one of the earlier turns where I let one of my Golem tokens attack when I probably should have stayed home with it but it didn’t end up mattering.

I boarded similarly as I did in round 1 except this time I took out Mana Leaks instead since he had shown me several copies of Cavern of Souls.

Game 2 was much like the first as we durdled around for a while. He played a couple of guys while I played some Blade Splicers and did some Snapcaster Mage-Ponder action. However he ended up drawing 3 copies of Restoration Angel to beat me to death with while I once again drew mostly air. It’s a pretty hard to win against Pod when neither Gideon Jura, Day of Judgment, Sun Titan or Restoration Angel shows up to the fight.

1-1

Round 3 Vs. Infect

I won the die roll which is huge in this matchup. It didn’t seem to matter all that much though this time around since my opponent took a mulligan and then kept a 1-lander that simply didn’t pan out. Once he drew his second land he was already in chump block mode.

Here I brought in Gideon Jura, Oblivion Ring, Divine Offering and the 2 copies of Duress while taking out Mana Leaks and 2 Phantasmal Images.

Game 2 was a much tighter affair. We started out with me trading a couple of removal spells and Snapcaster Mages for his creatures and some tricks before he managed to stick a Blight Mamba with Rancor on it. While I had a quite impressive board at that point with 2 Blade Splicers, 2 Golem tokens, a Snapcaster Mage and a Sun Titan, I was at 5 poison counter and from a Gitaxian Probe I knew that he had a Mutagenic Growth and Titanic Growth in hand. On his turn he drew a card before thinking for a bit before charging in with his Blight Mama with 4 Forest untapped.

I tanked for a while on how to block as I tried to figure out what he could have possibly have drawn to make this attack. Another copy of Titanic Growth was the worst I could think of but that still wouldn’t be lethal if I just blocked with everything except the Sun Titan. That said, the game looked really good for me at that point, as I also had a backup Snapcaster Mage in hand with a Doom Blade and several cantrips in the graveyard, I decided not to risk anything to a card I couldn’t think of and trusted my whole board towards to block. He did indeed draw a second copy of Titanic Growth and decided to use up his whole hand and his Blight Mamba to take out my entire board except for a Golem token that was left with a -1/-1 counter on it.

As mentioned, that was still acceptable and I could eventually go to town thanks to the backup Snapcaster Mage. Looking back at the game, I think he could have played the turn where I just blocked with my entire board better and there was also a turn earlier where he  let me kill a Ichorclaw Myr of his with a Gut Shot and he could have saved it with a Mutagenic Growth, which would have been a lot better for him.

2-1

Round 4 Vs. Naya Pod

Like in my previous round versus Naya Pod, we durdled around for a while trying to jockey for position. After a while of trading, he eventually begun to pull ahead. The game started to look fairly grim for me until he decided to add a Inferno Titan to his board. Now how was that good for me? Well you see, I Forbidden Alchemied into a Phantasmal Image in response which then on my turn became a copy of Inferno Titan and in response to the enter the battlefield trigger I activated my Vault of the Archangel. Pew, pew my lasers!

After taking out his Inferno Titan, a Golem token and a Birds of Paradise AND gaining 3 life in the process I had swung the tide of the game. While he managed to take out Vault of the Archangel with a Acidic Slime on his turn, the damage had already been done and I could simply ride my Inferno Titan to victory.

In the second game it was again a durdle affair but in this game I never really fell behind as I managed to lock him out of real white mana (he still had a Cavern of Souls on “Angel”) after taking out 2 Birds of Paradises of his, so he couldn’t use his Gavony Township. After getting some serious vaule of flickering Blade Splicer and Snapcaster Mage with 2 Restoration Angels, I swung the tide and he couldn’t cope with the pressure I applied.

3-1

Round 5 Vs. Delver

This match was quite a one sided affair, with me being on the receiving end. What it really boiled down to from my point of view was that I was unable despite frantically sifting through my deck both games to find any Phantasmal Images. Instead, my opponent could force down a Geist of Saint Thraft in both games and essentially ride it to victory while clearing the way for it to connect. I made a silly little mistake in the second game where I missed the play of flashbacking a Doom Blade to knock an angel of his out the sky instead of the Ponder as I did. If I just had Doom Bladed that would in theory give me another turn to live but I sort of missed it because I was tunnel visioned into looking for Phantasmal Image. It turned out that it didn’t matter what I did as he had a second angel in hand but nevertheless a mistake from my part.

3-2

Round 6 Vs. UBr Heartless Summoning

When I saw the pairing for the round I was a bit scared as I knew beforehand that my opponent was on Heartless Summoning. It’s not really a deck that I have playtested against so I wasn’t really sure what to expect of the matchup.

In the first game I stopped an early attempt of my opponent getting ahead with the namesake of the deck by Oblivion Ringing it but after that there wasn’t much action from my side. That gave him the time to sculpt a gameplan around my countermagic and eventually resolving a Rune-Scarred Demon, from which he went and got a Phantasmal Image which also became a demon and then he did the same thing again but this time he got card to his hand. I tried to mount a comeback with some Sun Titan shenanigans and Vault of the Archangel but the card he had searched up was a Massacre Wurm, which ensured the…well, massacre.

Sideboarding for this matchup was really interesting because I wasn’t sure that if trying to go aggressive with Blade Splicers were better than trying to simply out control the opposition with Day of Judgments, Nihil Spellbombs and Jace, Memory Adept. Because of seeing all the clones in game 1, I decided that the Blade Splicer beatdown plan seemed worse to me than the control plan, so I went for that.

It ended up paying off as I managed to win both sideboarded games on the back of Jace, Memory Adept going the distance. The games felt fairly comfortable from my side, except the time in the round was a factor, but my opponent told me after the match how close it was in both game that he could have gotten out of it. In the second game he had actual Nicol Bolas in hand for several turns but bricked in drawing the 8th mana source for enough turns and in the third he could conceivable been able to deal with Jace with Havengul Lich + Perilous Myr (with Heartless Summoning in play, of course) if he had shown a little more patience. But that was not to be and I had locked up access to day 2.

4-2

Although it ended being much closer than I would have liked, I made it to day 2. Unfortunately my tiebreakers wasn’t good enough for me to the preferred Pod 1, which would make the draft portion easier to pass through. You see, except for me, there were 3 other people in Pod 2 with a 4-2 record. For those people, including me, a 2-0-1 record in the draft portion would certainly be enough to make it to the Top8 and perhaps even a 2-1 record would suffice. That said, the other 4 people in my Pod had limped into day 2 with a record of 3-2-1, which meant for them that only a 3-0 record in the draft would be enough for them to make it. Because of the Pod structure of the upcoming 3 rounds, some unfortunate pairings were bound to happen and would threaten to complicate things even further.

Anyhow, I got myself some good sleep and was ready to battle the next day. I have already mentioned what I want to be doing in M13 draft, which is being in black so naturally that what was I was hoping to be in as I sat down at the draft table.

I begun the draft with first picking a Void Stalker in a fairly unexciting pack before picking up a Duskmantle Prowler in the following pack. After that several decent white cards came by and I established myself into white without really deciding if I was blue or black. I opened papa Ajani himself in pack 2, which was fortunate. After that the draft was really about what else my deck would be doing except for casting white cards. Unfortunately for me and my preferences, black was just not happening and I suspected that both my neighbors were in black. Instead I got to pick up several decent blue cards in the second pack, which included a second copy of Void Stalker and a Sleep. While reviewing my picks before the last pack, I was firmly blue-white and used the last pack to round out the deck,  which in the end looked like this:

Blue-White M13 Draft deck

9 Plains
7 Island

3 Ajani’s Sunstriker
2 Aven Squire
2 Void Stalker
1 Welkin Tern
1 Augur of Bolas
1 Wind Drake
1 Watercourser
1 Healer of the Pride
1 Battleflight Eagle
1 Faerie Invaders

2 Unsummon
1 Negate
1 Show of Valor
1 Divination
1 Oblivion Ring
1 Ajani, Caller of the Pride
1 Sleep
1 Divine Verdict
1 Switcheroo

Notable sideboard cards:

2 Tricks of the Trade
2 Encrust
1 Downpour
1 Courtly Provocateur
1 Captain’s Call
1 Glorious Charge
1 Jayemdae Tome
1 Evolving Wilds

The deck ended up looking fairly decent. Because of my low curve and lack of any real late game I decided that 16 lands was they way to go and thus Evolving Wilds got the axe. While I think deck like the one I had the tournament are quite good, I don’t feel particularly comfortable playing this style of deck in the M13 environment because of how harsh the format is to X/1s. Crippling Blight and Chandra’s Fury are really good commons and Cower in Fear is also just savage. Because of these factors I’m also not a big fan of Captain’s Call in general in this format, and thus I choose to leave it on the sidelines. On the other hand I’m a big fan of Jayemdae Tome and was a bit sad to have to cut it but I didn’t fathom myself having a bunch of excess mana lying around with only 16 lands in the deck. Finally, playing the Switcheroo was sort of awkward considering how aggressive my deck was and that I didn’t really have that many creatures I would be happy to give away, but it just seemed better than any of my other options. At the end of the day, there are going to be bombs worth stealing, you can still do tricks with Unsummon and things are going to get Pacified so, it usually works out anyways.

Round 7 Vs. GR

My opponent had a really aggressive green-red deck with multiple Mogg Flunkies and Reckless Brutes to really come quickly out of the gates. Fortunately for me my opponent was plagued with a couple of mulligans but it was nevertheless a close match. I won the first and third game on the back of Healer of the Pride ensuring that I won the race and lost the second after keeping 2 Island, Welking Tern, Void Stalker, 2 Aven Squire and Divine Verdict on the draw and died quickly after never drawing a Plains.

5-2

Round 8 Vs. UB

After what I felt like escaping the previous round with a win, I was now faced against a deck that I felt was significantly worse than my own. He had a couple of decent removal spells in form of Murder and Essence Drain but pretty much every creature he played was at best on par with my own arsenal. I had though passed a Cower in Fear in the draft so I made sure to religiously play around the card to my best ability, which I was able to do successfully. After two fairly one sided games from my point of view, I emerged victorious.

6-2

After this round standings before the final round came up in a normal fashion and it was time to crank out that math brain and analyze the situation. I quickly deduced that I was safe to make Top8 with a win or draw, but I then deduced that my final opponent in the draft rounds was one of those pesky people who had started the day with a 3-2-1 record and thus needed to play and win in the final round to make it. After some collective sorting out with friends we also concluded that I was likely to make it in even if I lost the last round but there was a theoretical scenario which would leave me in 9th place.

Since there was a possibility for me to miss making the Top8 if I lost, I simply had to play it out. It sucked because said 3-2-1 is a friend of mine that I would not have minded to scoop to him if I could, but that was not to be.

Round 9 Vs. BGr

I had seen a bit of my opponents deck beforehand and I was knew that I was in for a though match. He had among other things 2 copies of Sentinel Spider, 3 copies of Bloodhunter Bats and no less than 2 copies of Flames of the Firebrand as his splash cards. Yikes!

The match started out poorly for me with going down to 5 cards to start off the opener, and it was a pretty loose 5 of that; 4 Plains and a Faerie Invaders. I thought a bit about going down to 4 but I felt that this hand seemed better than a random 4. After drawing more Plains, blue cards and Ajani, Caller of the Pride in my first couple of drawsteps at the same time as my opponent had a really solid curve, I was quickly dispatched.

In the second game we both took a mulligan before settling on our 6 card hands. I was a bit spell lite in the beginning but that was evened out by my opponent who couldn’t get 2 green sources into play for the longest time. Since mana screw typically wins over manafloods, I was a bit concerned that I was doomed for but eventually my deck started to cough up the goods and I could put myself in a winning position before my opponent could really recover from his mana stumble.

In the last game I once again shipped my opener back before settling on my 6 card hand. This time around my hand was really good and despite being down a card I managed to put up a good fight. He seemed to take firm control of the game when he landed a Sentinel Spider but I plucked a Void Stalker of the top to deal with that. With the big reach guy out of the picture, I slowly started to pick away his life totals with a fliers. He found his pair of Flames of the Firebrand though and between those 2 and some trading, in the end there was just a single creature left on the battlefield, my Augur of Bolas. I picked away his life totals with my lowly 1/3 while we both drew many blanks off the top before the little merfolk wizards along with a Healer of the Pride could eventually seal the deal.

I had managed to 3-0 the draft despite being pitted against my last round opponents monster of a deck. He did mention that he could probably have won the game if he had shown a little more patience with his Flames of the Firebrand. He ended up drawing them subsequently and I was at such a low life total at that point that if he just had pointed both at my head he would have probably won. So, once again I felt like I had escaped with a win.

7-2 (and access to the Top8 granted!)

This report has turned out to be a bit longer than I predicted it to be, so I think I will once again make a stop here and get back to you with a concluding part 3, where I will go through the Top8 and give some final reflections about the tournament.

Until then, take care!

Bernhard

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