2010-11 Precon Championships: Nagle Division (Part 2 of 2)
And we’re back with the exciting conclusion of Nagle Division action! Last week eight decks lined up for their shot at glory. Four were defeated, and today another three will be sent home. Only one deck will have earned the right to represent the Nagle Division in the semifinals, aiming at a chance at immortality.
On the one hand, we have a Duel Decks recreation as Dragons takes on Knights. Dragons saw off an Archenemy deck in a fratricidal matchup, and stands poised for the double. The Knights had a slightly easier go of it, stepping over the smouldering corpse of a Mirrodin Besieged Intro Pack.
On the other hand, we have a real Cinderella story in the making with Scars of Mirrodin’s Deadspread. Widely expected to fold in the opening round, Deadspread instead took down the New Phyrexia infect/proliferate deck Ravaging Swarm, a match that was widely predicted to go against it. But now it faces a far greater challenge in the dominating War of Attrition Event Deck. Can it capture lightning in a bottle a second time?
The winners of each match will then do battle to see who will be heading for the semis, and who will be heading for the showers. We open now with our first match, wishing all competitors the best of luck!
Knights vs Dragons
Dragons has a gorgeous start, chaining a Cinder Wall, Dragon Fodder, and Mudbutton Torchrunner, while Knights leads with a Lionheart Maverick and Zhalfirin Commander. Things get difficult when the Commander gets a Griffin Guide… and brutal when the Loxodon Warhammer touches down. Dragons has to combo a dead Torchrunner and Ghostfire to kill it, but by then it hardly matters. Dragons dies within turns.
Dragons leads with a Bloodmark Mentor, which piles on the damage once girded by Shiv’s Embrace. Knights finds an answer in an Oblivion Ring, then starts mass deploying its own creatures. A turn-2 Leonin Skyhunter is joined by a Steward of Valeron and Alaborn Cavalier, both of which are snuffed out by a Cone of Flame. A Breath of Darigaaz solves a kicked Benalish Lancer, while a Punishing Fire snaps the Skyhunter as Knights attempt to put a Griffin Guide on it. A Henge Guardian holds a Kabira Vindicator at bay, then a Kilnmouth Dragon touches down to seize victory.
It’s going to three in this classic matchup! With its back against the wall, Knights punishes a questionable keep by Dragons- burn heavy, critter light- and hits its trump on the second turn in the form of a Silver Knight. While Dragons burns and sweeps with a Breath of Darigaaz and Jaws of Stone, it can’t stop the relentless beating of the Knight. In the end, it gets overrun by a Juniper Order Ranger and pair of Knights of Cliffhaven, proving that card advantage isn’t everything.
The heavy underdog, Deadspread lines up its best shot. A turn-2 Leaden Myr and turn-3 Moriok Reaver help it establish board presence and bring a Trigon of Corruption fully online. Meanwhile, Attrition has a Leonin Skyhunter, a pair of Elite Vanguards, and soon a Puresteel Paladin. A Leonin Relic-Warder hides the Trigon until a Skinrender returns it by killing the Relic-Warder. All the while, Deadspread is racing to deploy its Contagion Engine.
The Engine hits and virtually wipes Attrition’s board, but it’s all fodder for the Bonehoard, and living weapon leaves Equipment behind. Deadspread does a ton of killing here, but it matters little as it has too few creatures to defend itself. The game ends with Deadspread crushed beneath the weight of a massive Bonehoard.
Deadspread pays for its insolence with a brutal- if not entirely unanticipated- steamrolling. Elite Vanguard, Flayer Husk, Skinwing, Porcelain Legionnaire, and finally the brutal Bonehoard are more than a match for a Thrummingbird and a Leaden Myr. Threat-light, Deadspread prays for rain with a Throne of Geth and Trigon of Thought (never used). The Carnifex Demon makes a brief cameo before being sent on a Journey to Nowhere, and the game is wrapped up with an alpha strike on the ground.
WINNER: War of Attrition
At last, it’s come down to this clash of titans on the battlefield to determine your Nagle Division winner! War of Attrition has its usual fast start- early Elite Vanguards, a pair of Stoneforge Mystics, the expected Bonehoard and a Skinwing… but Knights is able to hold its own. It begins with a Knotvine Paladin and Knight of Cliffhaven, then goes into high gear with a Kinsbaile Cavalier followed by a Knight Exemplar.
Leveling up the Knight of Cliffhaven gives Knights aerial presence, and even after a Journey to Nowhere takes out the punishing Knotvine Paladin the deck sends wave after wave of indestructible, double-striking Knights in on War of Attrition. A Test of Faith makes the Knight of Cliffhaven monstrously large after it is blocked by a Bonehoarded, Skinwinged germ token, and the Knights swiftly dispatch the Event Deck in this startling upset!
Smelling victory, the Knights explode on the stage with a Lionheart Maverick, Knight of Meadowgrain, Steward of Valeron, Juniper Order Ranger, and Plover Knights. Attrition battles back valiantly with a Stoneforge Mystic, Skinwing, Mirran Crusader, Porcelain Legionnaire, and is soon joined by Kemba, Kha Regent.
Knights hits hard when it uses a Sejiri Steppe to get the Ranger past the protection from Green Crusader, and a Sigil Blessing adds to the damage and lets the Plover Knights kill the Mirran Crusader and live. Attrition is reduced further to 3 life the very next turn when it uses a Mighty Leap to get the Ranger over the red zone.
But slowly Attrition clogs up the board, with Kemba’s Cat tokens piling up at the rate of two per turn thanks to the Skinwing and Flayer Husk. A Bonehoard hits and gets placed on a Kor Duelist. And while Knights adds another Maverick, a Silver Knight, and a Benalish Lancer followed by a fully-levelled Kabira Vindicator, it can’t get its Plovers past a geared-up Kemba.
Two Journeys later (exiling the Ranger and Plover Knights), Knights is vulnerable to a counterattack. A Puresteel Paladin lets Attrition swamp equipment around nearly at-will, loading up the Duelist for heavy strikes then piling it all back on Kemba. Two turns later, Knights is vanquished and left wondering what might have been had it drawn a single piece of removal for Kemba to let the Plover Knights through.
With both decks a single win away from triumph, each starts pummelling the other right out of the gate. But Knights tastes blood in the water with a Leonin Skyhunter and Griffin Guide, letting it swing in for 4 on turn 3. Two Grasslands in the opening hand ensure a solid Knight of the Reliquary when she touches down a turn later, and she gets even bigger when Knights cycles an Edge of Autumn. Meanwhile Attrition steadies out with a Puresteel Paladin, Flayer Husk, Elite Vanguard, and Porcelain Legionnaire.
But disaster strikes when Attrition– down to 2 life- suckerpunches Knights with a pair of Journeys to Nowhere, taking the teeth right out of Knights’ offense by removing both the Skyhunter and Knight of the Reliquary. Down to 6 life, Knights has only a Knight of the White Orchid and then a Kabira Vindicator standing between it and inglorious defeat. But when it topdecks a Plover Knights, it shifts momentum right around and puts Attrition on a one-turn clock. Attrition has no answer, and scoops.
And we have a winner! After a grueling seven matches, one deck has risen above the rest to lay claim to the Nagle Division banner. As we enter the Tinsman Division next week, you can be certain that Knights will be watching with rapt interest. That’s all for now, we’ll have the updated leaderboard and next prediction thread in just a few days. Thanks for watching!