2010-11 Precon Championships: The Finals
Welcome to the final installment of the 2010-2011 Preconstructed Deck Championships! It’s been a heckuva ride this far, with a full field of 32 decks at the outset now whittled down to a Final Four. Most remarkable was the resurgence of the Duel Decks. From their strong showing in the 2009-10 season, they fell far short of expectations in the following 2008-09. This time they came back with a vengeance, and now we have the exciting prospect of an all-Duel Deck finals between Knights and Elspeth. On the other hand, Archenemy would like nothing more than to smash Elspeth beneath a horde of reanimated undead, as Bring About the Undead Apocalypse stakes its claim to the title. And of course this season’s feel-good Cinderella Story torch is carried by Mirrodin Besieged’s Doom Inevitable. Usually the regular Intro Pack decks have solid representation in the finals, but this time there’s only the one.
The real X-factor this season too was the rise of the Event Decks. Widely expected to crush the field, these rare-heavy Constructed-ready decks weren’t quite as dominating as many had feared. One of them- Into the Breach- didn’t make it out of the opening round, though to be fair it was the weakest of the lot and lost to Bring About the Undead Apocalypse. The other three all went 2-1, losing only at the doorstep of their divisional decider. With twice as many slated to take part in next season’s Championship next year, look for them to make an even larger splash.
And so, after twenty-eight games, it has come to this:
In the Rosewater Conference, we see Knights versus Doom Inevitable. The Intro Pack deck has had a fortuitous path to the semis, facing competition of a comparable level in the form of Intro Pack decks from Magic 2011, Scars of Mirrodin, and New Phyrexia. Most assuredly the underdog, it squares off against a battle-tested Duel Deck. Knights might have had an appetizer the opening round against Battle Cries, another Mirrodin Besieged Intro Pack, but from there it was on to its archnemesis Dragons before taking down the War of Attrition Event Deck. Look for Doom Inevitable to pit its combination of proliferate and living weapon against the tribal swarm of Knight creatures.
Over to the Forsythe Conference, its a true clash of titans between an Event Deck and a Duel Deck. Archenemy’s Bring About the Undead Apocalypse has had inarguably the toughest road of any of the final four. Not only did it have to dispatch Tezzeret’s Duel Deck, but it faced down not one but two different Event Decks- Into the Breach and Rot from Within. It now faces Tezzeret’s rival Elspeth, who has clawed her way past her own Event Deck as well as the Premium Deck Series deck Fire & Lightning. Here we’ll watch Apocalypse’s graveyard recursion go up against the Soliders-centric mono-White martial theme supporting Elspeth.
The combatants are ready and the introductions made. Let’s get down to battle!
Rosewater Conference Finals: Knights (DD) vs Doom Invevitable (MBS)
Even a turn-3 Vedalken Anatomist can’t hold back the swarm of Knights forever. After killing a Knight of Meadowgrain and the Knight of the Reliquary, an Oblivion Ring banishes it from the battlefield. A Reprisal snipes the Psychosis Crawler, and the successive stream of land draws ensures that Doom quickly exhausts its limited options. Victory comes in the end on the back of an unopposed Leonin Skyhunter.
The crucial Anatomist lands early this time too, and along with it comes a Contagion Clasp and Trigon of Corruption. Thanks to a slow start by the Knights, with a White Knight, Knight of Cliffhaven, and Knight of Meadowgrain, Knights doesn’t manage to overwhelm and overrun Doom Inevitable. Instead, Doom sets up a soft lock with the ability to -1/-1 counter up nearly anything to death as it enters play.
It’s going right down to the wire here, and the brutality engine of Doom Inevitable- the Vedalken Anatomist, Trigon of Corruption, and Contagion Clasp- again do their filthy work quite well against the small creatures Knights is filled with. Still, enough of them flood out of Knights’ hand to beat Doom Inevitable down to single-digit life… but it just can’t seem to close the deal. The proliferate cycle keeps the Knights in check, as does a Pierce Strider and Strandwalker. Those are quickly joined by a pair of Oculi and a Fume Spitter.
With the strongest of Doom’s threats only having 3 power, Reprisal is a dead card in Knights’ hand, as is Test of Faith when Doom’s killing is done through counters. Even the Knight Exemplar can’t stop the Knights from falling beneath a sea of -1/-1 counters, and Doom Inevitable has done the unexpected! The Cinderella Story is in the Finals!
Forsythe Conference Finals: Bring About the Undead Apocalypse (ARC) vs Elspeth (DD)
Elspeth, however, isn’t waiting around. A turn-2 Kor Skyfisher starts her off, and she then Sunlances the Avatar. Then Elspeth, Knight-Errant lands and the game quickly gets away from Apocalypse. With a Catapult Master in hand, Elspeth works on building up a Soldier army. Some 1/1 tokens and a Glory Seeker get her nearly there, but a timely Incremental Blight trims it back significantly.
Still, Elspeth rebuilds with a Raise the Alarm and gets to the critical four Soliders, dropping down the Master for an immediate banishment. Still, its largely academic, as all the Master exiles is an Infectious Horror, after which Apocalypse folds to an alpha strike led by a Kemba’s Skyguard.
Elspeth starts strong and races to bring the Catapult Master on-line a second time. A turn-2 Raise the Alarm, turn 3 Glory Seeker, and turn 4 Seasoned Marshal get her within reach… until another Incremental Blight 3-for-1’s her. Back to the drawing board, Elpseth sticks an Angel of Salvation and the Catapult Master and starts swinging in the sky.
Apocalypse, however, has other ideas. An early Cemetery Reaper followed by an Urborg Syphon-Mage, Dregscape Zombie, and Reassembling Skeleton give it some defense, and it wastes no time in mass-producing Zombie tokens. Before long it attains numerical superiority, forces the Angel to play defense, resurrects the Dregscape Zombie with a Torrent of Souls and swings for overwhelming, lethal damage.
Pusheed to three games, Elspeth goes on the offensive right out of the gate. An Elite Vanguard and Kor Aeronaut kick things off, then the Crusade hits followed by a Celestial Crusader. Apocalypse is forced to evoke a Shriekmaw to kill the Aeronaut, and manages to Terminate the Crusader, but Elspeth will not be denied. She drops a Kor Skyfisher and Temple Acolyte, and Apocalypse crumples like a puppet with its strings cut. This one was not close.
WINNER: Elspeth (DD)
2010-11 Preconstructed Championship Finals: Doom Inevitable vs Elspeth
At nearly every turn, Doom Inevitable has punched above its weight. Doomed not only by its Intro Pack status but also by its relatively slow speed, it has become the underdog champion of the season. With Elspeth looking somewhat similar to Knights, can it recapture the lightning in a bottle that got it this far? Elspeth, for her part, has toyed with her rivals long enough. The Championship is just one match away, and she intends to do everything she can to overwhelm the slower Doom and claim her rightful place in the Hall of Champions. History is on the side of the underdog here, as both previous Champions have come from Intro Pack stock, but will this the the end of the era? Let’s find out.
On the play, Doom leads with an Island into a turn-2 Oculus. Elspeth, on the other hand finds immediate strength in numbers with a Raise the Alarm. While Doom plays a land and passes next turn, Elspeth wastes no time and adds a Temple Acolyte after a 2-point swing. Thanks as well to a Kabira Crossroads, she’s now holding frim at 25 life. Doom is down to 18.
Now turn 4, Doom looks for answers and Vivisects the Oculus. This fills its hand to eight cards, and it is forced to pitch an Island at the end of turn. Over to Elspeth, she plays a Kor Skyfisher, returning the Crossroads to hand, then replays it to go up to 27 life. She attacks with all three creatures, and Doom drops to 15 life. Next turn Doom looks to stabilise with a Pierce Strider, but Elspeth’s Kor Aeronaut with kicker lets the Acolyte fly in alongside the Skyfisher for another 3 points of damage.
Doom next tries a turn-6 Skinwing, but Elspeth is unrelenting. She plays a second Skyfisher, repeating the trick with the Crossroads to go back up to 26 life. She attacks with the Aeronaut for another 2 damage and passes. Half-dead and needing a more robust blocker, Doom equips the Strider with the Skinwing, but all this does is make it easy for Elspeth to clean out Doom’s board with a Saltblast. This opens the way for a 9-point swing, putting Doom at death’s door. It draws nothing, and concedes.
Again on the play, Doom spends the first two turns playing land, while Elspeth drops an opening Kabira Crossroads into a second-turn Goldmeadow Harrier. Doom then lands a turn-3 Phyrexian Rager, with Elspeth matching on an Elite Vanguard.
Doom goes aggressive on turn 4, swinging with the Rager for 2 to put Elspeth back down to 20. It then plays a second Rager (drawing a Flayer Husk which it then plays as well), and passes. Elspeth gets serious with a Crusade, uses the Harrier to tap down the untapped Rager and swings for 3 with the Vanguard. Knowing time is now against it, Doom fires right back next turn with a 5-point attack, dropping Elspeth to 15. It then plays a Skinwing to shore up its defense and ends its turn. Back to Elspeth, she adds a Temple Acolyte to go back up to 18 life and then sends the Vanguard back through the red zone. Doom is down to 12 life.
Doom manages to solve the Elite Vanguard on turn 6 with a Contagion Clasp, using its proliferate to finish the job. It then keeps its Ragers back to defend while it sends in the Skinwing in the air for another 2 damage. Over to Elspeth, she plays a Kor Skyfisher, bouncing the Crossroads back to hand after having already played a Plains. Doom sees one of its Ragers tapped down by the Harrier during its upkeep, but foreswears an attack. Instead it uses its turn to play a Pierce Strider, dropping Elspeth to 13. It then plays a second Contagion Clasp, directing the -1/-1 counter to the hated Goldmeadow Harrier. After replaying the Kabira Crossroads for 2 more life, Elspeth taps down the Strider then attacks for 2 with the Temple Acolyte- Doom chump-blocks with the Flayer Husk.
Now turn 8, Doom takes advantage of the Goldmeadow’s rest by equipping the Skinwing to the Pierce Strider, swinging in for 5 damage. For the first time in the game, Doom’s life total is the higher of the two. It doesn’t last long. At the end of turn, Elspeth Raises the Alarm, giving herself a pair of sudden 2/2’s. She swings with the team, and Doom blocks the Harrier with a Rager and a 2/2 token with another. This becomes a trade and a loss as Elspeth flashes in a Celestial Crusader, and just like that Doom is rocked for 10 points of damage, down to 2.
Desperate to stay in the game, Doom equips the Pierce Strider with the Flayer Husk, attacking for 6. Elspeth chumps with the Crusader, its job done. It then follows up with a second Pierce Strider to put Elspeth down to 7 and givie it a defender. Elspeth, sensing victory is within her grasp, Saltblasts the lone defender, letting it close in for the kill.
And just like that, it’s all over! Doom holds its head in its hands, unwilling to believe that it could come so close only to have fate see it just fall short. Elspeth’s Soldiers are hoisting her up on their shoulders, carrying her around amidst a great cheer. The Psychosis Crawler is storming into the tunnel, shoving aside a pair of Oculi in rage and frustration. Elspeth has become the first Duel Deck to win a Championship!
And that’s the end of the 2010-2011 Preconstructed Decks Championship. We’ll be back in a few days to see how our predictors did, recap the spectacle, and officially declare a victor in our Intro Deck giveaway. Thanks for tuning in, and see you soon!