2011-2012 Precon Championships: Tinsman Division (Part 2 of 2)
It’s hard to believe that we’re a month into the competition and nearly at the halfway mark already, but after today’s matches we’ll have the two finalists for the Rosewater Conference decided. The lethal Hold the Line waits in the wings having bested the field of the Nagle Division, eager to see which deck it will have to face up against for the right to represent the Conference in the Finals.
Four decks remain in the Tinsman, and in just a few moments we’ll head down to the arena to begin the culling process that will see three of them wiped off the board. Graveborn… Blood and Fire… Spectral Legions… Deathfed… one of these will rise above the rest and claim Tinsman Division glory. That deck will sit beside past Tinsman winners Fate Blaster, Esper Artifice, Eldrazi Arisen, and Doom Inevitable in the ranks of honour.
And now… to the pit!
Game 19: Graveborn (PDS) vs Blood and Fire (M12)
Blood and Fire gets the beats rolling quickly, thanks to a Goblin Tunneler, Blood Ogre, and bloodthirsted Stormblood Berserker, letting it roll through for 5 each turn with a Volcanic Dragon on the way. It’s exactly the kind of fast, aggressive start that the deck needs to blitzkrieg its opponent, especially a stronger deck like Graveborn.
It doesn’t matter a jot.
Blood and Fire decides to be on the play this time, to deny Graveborn the ability to forego playing a land and force itself to discard. Unfazed, Graveborn simply plays Entomb to fetch the Sphinx of the Steel Wind, and pulls it out next turn with an Animate Dead. That’s more or less game.
WINNER: Graveborn (PDS)
Game 20: Spectral Leigons (INN) vs Deathfed (INN)
Spectral Legions has the answers to solve the surprisingly-strong Deathfed- though not without a bit of luck. After assembling a fat graveyard through use of spells like Mulch and a trio of Armored Skaabs, Deathfed is in pole position to start working down Spectral’s life total. Spectral has an early Mausoleum Guard and Doomed Traveler, but little else.
Still, the 1/1 Spirit tokens it generates become potent blockers once Spectral finds a Gallows Warden, and a Spectral Rider is an unstoppable force. Deathfed’s ace in the hole is Spider Spawning, and both times it tries to flash them back Spectral is ready with the counter (first a Negate, then a Lost in the Mist letting it bounce back its own Divine Favor, which had settled on a Moon Heron). Twice Deathfed tops off the tank with a massive Gnaw to the Bone, but in the end its only potent threat- gargantuan Boneyard Wurms- are immediately Rebuked or Pacified and it never recovers.
Spectral has a promising keep, but stalls on the two lands it opens with. The Angel of Flight Alabaster and a Moment of Heroism never have a chance as they are discarded right into the yard. Still, the deck recovers somewhat when it hits a third land, adding a Chapel Geist to its Doomed Traveler. A raft of auras follow- Divine Favor, Lifelink, even at the end a Curiosity- and the lifegain keeps Spectral in the game.
Still, Deathfed has little such trouble, blasting through its library with a pair of Armored Skaabs and a Forbidden Alchemy. A rapid succession of graveyard-dependent beaters touch down, first with a Bonehoard then with a pair of Boneyard Wurms, and Spectral just runs out of time- its most potent threats still in hand.
With everything to play for, Spectral digs deep-a Chapel Geist, Moon Heron, and Angel of Flight Alabaster curve out nicely, with a Lifelink for the Angel and a Battleground Geist for the pump.
Deathfed does everything it can- an Armored Skaab, Boneyard Wurm, even a Green Sun’s Zenith for the Splinterfright, but after two Mulches only a paltry number of creatures have managed to find themselves in the ‘yard. With no Black mana to fuel a flashback Spider Spawning to buy it some time and shore up the gaping defensive vulnerability in the air, Deathfed succumbs to a steady stream of evasive damage.
WINNER: Spectral Legions (INN)
Tinsman Division Championship: Graveborn (PDS) vs Spectral Legions (INN)
Graveborn surely is feeling a high degree of confidence on the heels of its romp through the Tinsman- perhaps a bit too much. A two-land keep is fine, but pitching four fatties to a Sickening Dreams to await reanimation before Spectral’s landed a single Spirit is cocky in the extreme.
Graveborn never recovers in time, and the Spirits roll to a surprise upset!
Once again Spectral finds itself one game away from glory, but Graveborn is taking nothing for granted this time. Graveborn is able to bring out a discard outlet with an opening Putrid Imp, giving it the ability to throw cards right into the graveyard from hand. Spectral, meanwhile, is taking the aggro/swarm route once again. It leads with a Spectral Rider, and begins applying immediate pressure with a Moon Heron and Battleground Geist. An Angel of Flight Alabaster touches down, and a Sphinx of the Steel Wind is brought back with an Animate Dead. It draws a Rebuke when it attempts to attack, however. A Buried Alive pulls a Negate, and a Hidden Horror is killed off thank to a timely Moment of Heroism. It looks as it victory is actually within grasp!
Until, that is, Graveborn fishes a Blazing Archon out of the graveyard with an Exhume. Thanks to the heavy aerial presence of Spectral Legions, Graveborn can’t push the pedal to the floor and destroy its opponent, but it has plenty of time to build itself up. Spectral does the exact same thing, casting creature after creature- Chapel Geist, Mausoleum Guard, Lantern Spirit, Voiceless Spirits, and even a massive Geist-Honored Monk. Graveborn couldn’t care less, and exiles the Angel with a Faceless Butcher.
Graveborn then shreds Spectral’s army with a brutally-timed Sickening Dreams, sending almost everything to the graveyard except a few Spirit tokens and the Angel of Flight Alabaster, freshly returned from vacation thanks to the departure of the Butcher. The Angel lets it slowly rebuild, returning Spirit after Spirit to hand, though it does little good.
The Sphinx of the Steel Wind comes back with an Animate Dead, but immediately draws a Ghostly Possession to neutralise it. A Hidden Horror can’t profitably attack- nor can a 9/9 Terastodon thanks to the endless chumpability of a Lantern Spirit. Although powerless to attack, Spectral has hunkered down in the bunker and surrounded itself with defenders.
Of course, there’s little that it can do against an Inkwell Leviathan, and Graveborn brings it back with a Dread Return. Spectral knows it has one out in its deck, and one out only- and it’s on a very fast clock.
The next turn, Graveborn slams in for 7 with the unblockable Leviathan, and it looks like it’s going to three… until Spectral topdecks its one answer- Unsummon- and sends the Blazing Archon back to hand! With its overwhelming creature presence now free to attack, Spectral alpha strikes for the upset!
And we have a winner! Against all odds or expectations, Innistrad’s Intro Pack Spectral Legions has clinched the Division with an upset over the highly-favoured Graveborn. Graveborn now can quietly fade into obscurity as the last of its Premium Deck Series kind, an end hastened by ignominious defeat. Meanwhile, Spectral Legions is wasting little time hitting the showers, then on to review game footage of Hold the Line in action. Can it manage a second consecutive colossal upset?
For the now, however, our coverage of the day’s action comes to an end. We move over to the Forsythe Conference next week, before the Finals which will see both Conference winners crowned before meeting for the penultimate conclusion. In the meantime, congratulations to…