2005-07 Precon Championships: Lauer Division (Part 1 of 2)
Don’t let its traditional position fool you, for although the Lauer Division plays last in the Championships, the Lauer has every bit the story and tradition of any other division. In the 2008/09 season, it saw Invading Spawn all the way to the finals, where it faced Eldrazi Arisen in a fratricidal struggle for the title. Though it fell short, it repeated the feat in the 2010/11 season with Elspeth, and didn’t make the same mistake twice. Favoured over the unlikely Doom Inevitable from Mirrodin Besieged, Elspeth’s Duel Deck put the match away and the Lauer had its first taste of championship glory.
Maybe that makes it greedy, but the Lauer isn’t satisfied with just the one.
With the Turian now decided, Suspended Sentence lies in wait to see who emerges from the divisional meatgrinder, watching to see which deck is going to try and stand in its way to lay sole claim to the Forsythe Conference. Of course, the Lauer has other ideas, and today we’ll see the field of seven decks whittled down to four. Here’s another look at today’s match card.
As a reminder, the traditional breakdown of each deck in contention has been moved, and now appears on the weekday prediction thread to better appeal to the members of the Prediction League in their guesswork. Our opener pits the mono-White weenie deck Army of Justice against the tri-colour tribal offering Sliver Evolution. Many have found themselves rooting for the underdog in this season’s clashes, and no set can lay claim to being so more than Ninth Edition. Although the smaller deck size means it’s effectively playing with three rares compared to its 60-card opponents, Core Set decks typically lack the punch of their “expert level” kin. We’ll see this put to the test not once but twice today, as the mono-Black Dead Again runs out against Code of the Orzhov, the Black/White Ravnican guild. With much of its removal useless against Black creatures, Dead Again’s fortunes are looking particularly perilous.
Between those two games we have another, Kjeldoran Cunning versus Golgari Deathcreep. Both of these decks operate with fairly unique mechanics. The Kjeldoran deck offers card advantage through ripple, where you reveal a number of cards from the top of your library after playing a spell with this ability word. If any of them match the card you just played, you not only get them for free, but the ripple triggers again! The Golgari, on the other hand, have some library shenanigans of their own with dredge, which lets them recover clutch creatures and spells from their graveyard simply by milling cards off the top of their library.
Spare a lingering moment for the fortunate Rakdos Bloodsport, as they’ve been seeded with a bye this round, but they’ll be spoiling to get into the fight next week. Let’s head to the arena, as the action is about to begin!
Army of Justice (9ED) vs Sliver Evolution (TSP)
The Slivers have a slow start and have to play catch-up, as they watch Army bring out body after body. A Master Decoy, an Veteran Cavalier, Angel of Mercy, and Skyhunter Prowler. The mono-White beats rain in steadily, but Slivers starts to stabilize. It draws and plays a Two-Headed Sliver and Gemhide Sliver, but really goes large when it next deploys a Fury and Sidewinder Sliver while enchanting the Gemhide with Spirit Loop. The now double-striking, lifelinking Gemhide sees the Fury get tapped by the Decoy, but draws a Strength in Numbers and dishes a good chunk of damage while giving the Slivers a shot in the arm.
Still, it’s the high-water mark, and Slivers are soon undone. A Chastise kills the Fury Sliver, and Army grinds out an easy win over the next few turns.
If there’s one thing to be said about Slivers, they can get scary out of nowhere. Although Army puts itself in good position with a Suntail Hawk, Master Decoy, and Veteran Cavalier alongside a Glorious Anthem, the Slivers’ Two-Headed Sliver explodes in size with consecutive Bonesplitter and Might Slivers.
The Two-Headed Sliver dies in combat, and while a pair of Pacifisms neutralise the two pump-Slivers, they’re immediately replaced with a Venser’s, Sidewinder, and Fungus. As Pacifism does nothing to restrain them from sharing their abilities, this time it is Army that sees their position overrun.
With it down to the wire, both decks take their time to develop and fall into a standoff. On Army’s side, a pair of Crossbow Infantry and a Ballista Squad discourage attack, while a Master Decoy helps prevent it.
Meanwhile, the Slivers have kept a mana-light hand, but a Terramorphic Expanse and Gemhide Sliver can overcome a lot of flaws. Slivers then builds up a massive head of steam, with a procession of the Two-Headed, a pair of Sidewinders, a Quilled, and a Fungus taking their places in the ranks. The Quilled in particular have the same chilling effect on Army as its Crossbow Infantry, and for a time neither side attacks. Then the Slivers deploy a Venser’s Sliver, then a Fury, followed by another Venser, and it starts nibbling in for damage. One Venser’s Sliver draws a Pacifism, but Slivers banishes that with a Harmonic Sliver. It then tees up a massive alpha strike when it topdecks the Pulmonic Sliver, and sends in the now-flying side for victory.
WINNER: Sliver Evolution (TSP)
Kjeldoran Cunning (CSP) vs Golgari Deathcreep (RAV)
The Kjeldoran start out with what you’d expect from a (mainly) White weenie style deck with some early Soldiers- a Kjeldoran Outrider and a Surging Sentinels (which whiffed on their ripple). They do the Golgari a favour, however, when they attack and give the Golgari the opportunity to send their Stinkweed Imp to the graveyard.
Next turn they start the dredge engine, pulling the Imp back to hand and happily seeing a Golgari Rotwurm tumble into the graveyard. When the Kjeldoran adds a Zuran Spellcaster, the Golgari return the Rotwurm to play with a +1/+1 counter through a Vigor Mortis. Next turn the Kjeldoran add a Jötun Grunt, but the Golgari Putrefy it straightaway. When the Kjeldoran add a Kjeldoran Elite Guard, they next try and gang-block the brutal Rotwurm, but a Last Gasp from hand turns a lopsided traid into a one-sided blowout, with the Kjeldoran holding onto only their pinger.
While the Kjeldoran is able to Brainstorm a ripple-trigger for a Surging Æther, it sends the Rotwurm back to hand along with a land. Still, the Golgari now have five mana in play and simply hardcasts the Rotwurm again. A Kjeldoran Gargoyle draws a second Last Gasp, and while a Scars of the Veteran buys it a turn, the Kjeldoran eventually fall beneath the Rotwurm and a Stinkweed Imp, bolstered by +1/+1 counters from a looping Shambling Shell.
Good things seem in store for the Golgari as they deploy an opening-turn Elves of Deep Shadow followed by a Shambling Shell, but Kjeldoran’s second-turn Surging Sentinels head off the promise of early beats. Kjeldoran next enchants them with Kjeldoran Pride, but their attacks are blunted by a chumping Shell that gets dredged up each turn, adding +1/+1 counters to the Elves each time.
Kjeldoran next trots out the Field Marshal, but it immediately draws a Last Gasp. The Kjeldoran do some deck manipulation with a Brainstorm and Lat-Nam’s Legacy, but can’t seem to find any answers as the Golgari start swinging in with the 4/4 Elves. They next add a Greater Mossdog, then Putrefy the Kjeldoran’s Sentinels. The Sentinels are quickly replaced by another, but again the ripple whiffs. The Kjeldorans buy a turn with a hardcast Scars of the Veteran and get the Field Marshal back with Reinforcements, but the Golgari simply Recollect the Putrefy and the Kjeldoran’s fate is sealed.
WINNER: Golgari Deathcreep (RAV)
Code of the Orzhov (GPT) vs Dead Again (9ED)
Dead opens with a Foul Imp, followed by a Demon’s Horn and Hollow Dogs. Sadly, the Orzhov are struggling on land, sitting on two Plains and Orzhova, the Church of Deals. Thanks to an Underworld Dreams, it’s taking damage at each draw, but manages to Pillory of the Sleepless the Dogs before Castigating Dead’s hand (plucking away a Phyrexian Gargantua).
It’s nowhere near enough, however, as the damage mounts too quickly. A Serpent Warrior touches down and is chumped by an Infectious Host, but left at 1 life the Orzhov fall at their next draw phase. Dead Again claims an easy victory.
The Orzhov, on the other hand, are facing elimination. They start strong with a Souls of the Faultless, but unfortunately Dead Again’s game is in the air. The guild solves the Deathgazer by attacking with an Infectious Host which gets blocked, then finishing off the Lizard with the Orzhov Euthanist. Alongside a Thoughtpicker Witch, the only other creature it manages is a later-game Poisonbelly Ogre.
Although the Orzhov manage to solve Dead Again’s Nightmare with a Pillory of the Sleepless, the Imp and Dreams damage is too much. The moaning sound heard at the end of this match is the ghost of heightened expectation. Against all odds, Dead Again has triumphed!
WINNER: Dead Again (9ED)
Thanks again for tuning in to another round of exciting precon action! There’s only two weeks to go to decide a winner, and the field remains wide open! We’ll see you next week as the champion of the Lauer Division makes itself known!