2005-07 Precon Championships: The Grand Final
Welcome to the epic finale of the 2005-07 Preconstructed Championships! It’s been a titanic clash of decks from the Ravnica and Time Spiral blocks, Coldsnap, and Ninth Edition, but in the end for all the struggle on the battlefield, only one deck will write its name in the history books and go down as the season’s penultimate champion. The real star of the show has been Time Spiral block. With three of four semi-finalists hailing from that set of decks (indeed, two from Future Sight itself), their imprint on this season has been unmistakable. By the same token, Ravnica decks have surprisingly underperformed. The Golgari aside, all have fallen by the wayside, and seem to have been victim to mana issues as a sort of running “curse” throughout the playoffs.
But today, we begin here:
In the Rosewater Conference, we find Endless March squaring off against Fate Blaster. Endless March has seen it all, done it all. It took down a Ninth Edition deck to lead off, disarming the volatile, landkilling World Aflame before turning its attentions to the hapless and overperforming Izzet. Finally, all that stood between it and divisional glory was Hope’s Crusaders, and Endless March lived up to its name. Meanwhile, Fate Blaster proved itself something of a Cinderella story. A deck with lots of movement but little advance, it scried its way past a pair of Ravnican guilds before butting up against Custom Creatures. It’s ability to bounce things was the Green deck’s undoing, and so now they will be facing off against one another.
Meanwhile, the Forsythe Conference has had some twists and turns of its own. Another unlikely contender, the endlessly intricate Suspended Sentence put together a splashy run, defeating a variety pack of enemies along the way. With kills from Guildpact, Planar Chaos, and Coldsnap, Suspended Sentence faced some of the game’s more elabourate offerings and lived to tell the tale. It caught no break with the conference finals, watching the mighty Golgari dredge their way through a similar diversity of opposition. The two forces will meet today, and only one of them shall prevail.
The combatants are ready and the introductions made. Let’s get down to battle!
Rosewater Conference Finals: Endless March (PLC) vs Fate Blaster (FUT)
On the play, Fate leads with a Sage of Epityr followed by an Emberwilde Augur. March, meanwhile, starts with an Errant Doomsayers, followed by an Aven Riftwatcher and Lavacore Elemental. This is trouble for Fate, which scurries to bolster its defenses. A second Sage of Epityr helps shift some aid to the top of the library and chumps the Elemental, but it finally takes a pair of Blind Phantasms pairing up to take it out after Fate’s Dandân gets Dead.
All the while, March keeps Fate in reactive mode. It solves a Stormfront Riders with a Shivan Meteor, but Fate makes a break for it with an attack from two Barbed Shockers, turning both sideways the turn the second one hits the table. One of them soaks up the Soldier tokens made by the Riders while the other is traded with a surprise Whitemane Lion (returning the Riftwatcher to hand). A Frozen Aether doesn’t have much impact beyond nuisance value, but a Shapeshifter’s Marrow helps Fate out a bit when it rips a Mogg War Marshal- and can pay its echo.
With March unable to stop the recast Riftwatcher from vanishing, it’s down to two Errant Doomsayers. Fate blasts March in the face with a 5-point Riddle of Lightning when it reveals a second Riddle, and though it Sunlances the other Phantasm, it has no further defense to offer and falls next turn to another 5-point Riddle (revealing Magus of the Future).
Endless March returns with a vengeance! Thanks to Jhoira’s Timebug, it has less to fear from losing its beaters and is able to keep the Aven Riftwatcher around all game (except when returning it to hand and recasting). It suspends an early Riftmarked Knight, brings out an Errant Doomsayers, and eventually even lands a very unpleasant Calciderm.
As before, Fate is back-footed and plays in reactive mode all game. It opens with a Sage of Epityr and Emberwilde Augur, then a pair of Barbed Shockers. The Shockers again go in on the attack, and again are absorbed by Soldier tokens from a Stormfront Riders and a surprise Whitemane Lion. This suits Fate just fine as it keeps the population under control.
Indeed, it’s only the Calciderm that causes problems, as the Riders are quickly solved with a Spin into Myth uncovered with a Cryptic Annelid. Fate also brings out an Aven Augur, and is able to scry at will with a Mystic Speculation. Still, it’s life is dwinding thanks to unceasing aerial attacks from the Aven, and the turn before it is about to draw its Boldwyr Intimidator March flashes in a Dust Elemental. At 6 life with no removal in hand, Fate is caught dead to rights and loses.
It’s down to the wire for both decks, with the winner advancing to the Grand Final! Again Fate opens with a Sage of Epityr and Emberwilde Augur, and again Endless March makes hay with an Aven Riftwatcher after an opening Icatian Javelineer. Fate stalls some with a Cryptic Annelid and Uthden Troll, but when Endless sticks a Soltari Priest that gives it 4 evasive power to circumvent Fate’s defenses.
Still, Fate is not without options, as it’s land-heavy keep lets it deploy a turn-5 Magus of the Future. The raw card advantage powers out a Barbed Shocker, but another surpise Whitemane Lion sees off the threat. Fate’s moment of triumph comes when it plays a Venser’s Diffusion to return the Soltari Priest to hand after Endless drops a Lavacore Elemental (the Aven being back in hand from the Lion). Deprived of an attack to add a time counter to it, the Elemental is all but stillborn and dies next upkeep.
Still, Fate can’t seem to find any threats or long-term answers, and Endless March pours on the pressure with Avalanche Riders and a Calciderm. Full of tricks and manipulation, Fate just can’t find any raw power until again it sees a Boldwyr Intimidator too late to do any good. Between the Aven and Soltari Priest, Endless steadly whittles away until there’s nothing left to whittle.
Forsythe Conference Finals: Suspended Sentence (FUT) vs Golgari Deathcreep (RAV)
This game is destined from the start to go the Golgari’s way. Suspended leads with a Deathspore Thallid, then suspends an Infiltrator il-Kor and Festering March. The Golgari, meanwhile, take their time with a lead-off Greater Mossdog and Woodwraith Strangler. The Stranger takes an Ichor Slick and dies, but Suspended doesn’t want to give the Golgari a chance to begin dredging and leaves the Mossdog alone.
A Golgari Brownscale next emerges after the Golgari clear the board a bit with a Rolling Spoil. The best Suspended can do is play a morphed Zoetic Cavern and try to Reality Acid the Mossdog, but it’s not enough to stop the tide of attacks from the Ravnican guild.
The Golgari game is almost custom-tailored to cause Suspended Sentence migraines, with a neverending stream of creartures on the battlefield. Suspended establishes a beachhead with some early morphs such as Timebender and Zoetic Cavern, with a suspended Reality Strobe to help out.
The Golgari don’t intend to give Suspended the luxury of time. It cranks out Elves of Deep Shadow, an Elvish Skysweeper, a Golgari Guildmage, and Woodwraith Strangler. A timely Mindstab only serves to feed Svogthos, the Restless Tomb with more creatures, and Suspended is fortunate just to prolong the game. Darkblasts solve Infiltrator il-Kor as they emerge from suspend, and a Dream Stalker helps stall but finally falls to a 5/5 Svogthos. Suspended never really had a chance. The Golgari cruise to an easy victory, and an appearance in the Grand Final!
2005-07 Preconstructed Championship Finals: Endless March vs Golgari Deathcreep
On the play, Endless leads with a Terramorphic Expanse into a Plains, while the Golgari begin with a Forest. Next turn sees Endless open the creature bidding with a Keldon Marauders, though it is met by a Thoughtpicker Witch in answer.
Now turn 3, Endless attacks for 3 with the Marauders, which then are returned to hand with a Whitemane Lion before an Icatian Javelineers are added. As a result, the Golgari open their turn at 15 life. They play a Shambling Shell and pass. Back to Endless, it next uses its Javelineers to ping the Shell, forcing the Golgari to sac it in response. They do so, putting a +1/+1 counter on the Witch. Endless then replays the Keldon Marauders, which sting the Golgari again on their way in. The Lion is sent in to attack, and the Golgari accept a trade for the Thoughtpicker Witch. For their part, the Golgari put down Svogthos, the Restless Tomb, then follow with a Stinkweed Imp.
A good thing for them, too, as Endless plays a turn-5 Stormfront Riders, returning the Marauders and Javelineers to hand and gaining a pair of 1/1 Soldiers as a result. The Golgari simply play a Greater Mossdog and pass. Next turn, Endless sends in the Soldier tokens for an attack. The Mossdog eats one, but the other gets in for damage to put the Golgari at 13. They go down to 12 when Endless next plays the Keldon Marauders a third time. Back to the Golgari, they bring out their Guildmage, but still have little offensive presence.
Now turn 7, Endless sends in the Marauders on the attack, but the Golgari happily accept the trade for their Mossdog. The Golgari take another point of damage as the Marauders leave play, going down to 11. Endless keeps the pressure on with a Mogg War Marshal, adding a 1/1 Goblin token alongside it. It then replays the Icatian Javelineers. Back to the Golgari, they dredge the Mossdog back to hand and replay it. Over to Endless, it suspends a Riftmarked Knight and passes. The Golgari take advantage to mount their first attack, a 3-point swing with the Mossdog. Endless goes down to 17, then the Golgari follow with a second Mossdog.
The Golgari get a moment’s respite as turn 9 for Endless is a blank. The Golgari swing in for 6 with both Mossdogs, but only one gets through as the lead Mossdog is taken down by a Goblin token, a Soldier token, and a ping from the Javelineers. A Golgari Rotwurm is summoned to take its place. Back to Endless, it next draws upon the services of a Lavacore Elemental, then uses Timecrafting to add a trio of time counters to it. For their part, the Golgari dredge a Brownscale, going up to 13 life in the process. They then summon it, and pass turn.
It’s now turn 11, and the end is nowhere in sight for either combatant. The Riftmarked Knight comes out of suspension, bringing a token copy of itself along with it. At the end of Endless’s turn, the Golgari sacrifice a Brownscale to their Rotwurm to ping Endless for 1, seeing them down to 13. Back to the Golgari, they dredge their Brownscale back and replay it, going up to 15 life. Endless has another blank turn on turn 12, and the Golgari repeat their trick with the Brownscale and Rotwurm, using their turn to dredge it back and recast it. Both sides are entrenched, and in dire need of a breakthrough.
Turn 13 sees Endless attack with a Mogg War Marshal and Javelineers, a throwaway attack designed to buy the Lavacore Elemental a little more time. Both are devoured by the Golgari defenders, but the Elemental is again back to 3 time counters. Endless next plays an Aven Riftwatcher and passes, but at the end of turn the Golgari take the opportunity to kill off the despised Stormfront Riders with a Last Gasp. Untapping, they then dredge up a Shambling Shell and play it. Next turn, Endless adds a Jhoira’s Timebug and passes, while the Golgari dredge up a Mossdog and then swing for 3 with the one on the board, dropping the resilient Endless to 11.
Now turn 15, Endless plays Children of Korlis as a prelude to a 6-point attack, sending in the Lavacore Elemental and Aven Riftwatcher. The Golgari block the Aven with the Stinkweed Imp, then offers up a Mossdog in trade on the defense. The death of the Aven puts Endless back up to 13 life, and it next plays another Stormfront Riders. Returning the Timebug and Children, it gets a pair of 1/1 tokens. It finally replays both the Children of Korlis and Timebug and ends its turn. The Golgari, as expected, dredge up the Stinkweed Imp, and are delighted to see the Golgari Grave-Troll tumble into the graveyard. It casts Vigor Mortis, and just like that it’s got a 7/7 beater on the table.
Endless responds with a turn-16 Mogg War Marshal, which brings a 1/1 Goblin with it for chump-block duty. Back to the Golgari, they then dredge up a Darkblast before attacking for 7 with the Troll. Endless shoves its 1/1 Goblin in its path and avoids damage. The Golgari then replay their Stinkweed Imp and pass. Endless’s turn 18 passes without incident, though the Golgari Darkblast the Mogg War Marshal at the end of turn (it replaces itself with another 1/1). They then dredge back the Darkblast and attack for another 7, but again are chumped by a Goblin token.
Now turn 18, Endless has another uneventful turn, unable to draw anything meaningful. The Children of Korlis get Darkblasted at the end of turn, but the Golgari have to be careful as they’re beginning to see the end of their library. The game goes on four another four turns, with the Golgari tightly rationing their dredging. They bring back a second Imp, and use the first to start whittling away at Endless’s life total, ready to sac its board at the end to the Rotwurm for the final bit of damage. The massive Grave-Troll is held at bay by recycling the Stormfront Riders, always making sure that they are returned to hand with each casting. The Golgari plan is thwarted, however, when Endless rips a Dust Elemental for which the Golgari have no answer. They die on turn 22.
Eager to settle the score, the Golgari lead off the land drop trades, but it’s Endless that lands the first creature- a turn-2 Jhoira’s Timebug. Next turn sees the Golgari add an Infectious Host, while Endless swings past with the Timebug for 1 before returning it to bring out a Whitemane Lion.
Now turn 4, the Golgari play a Shambling Shell, while Endless replays the Timebug. Things kick into high gear next turn, however, as the Golgari drop their bomb in the form of Savra, Queen of the Golgari. Together with the Shambling Shell, Savra forms a very constrictive soft lock for the Golgari, and they intend to take full advantage. They sacrifice the Shambling Shell, putting a +1/+1 counter on the Host while forcing Endless to sacrifice a creature thanks to Savra. Off goes the Timebug. Back to Endless, all they can do is send in the doomed Lion for a 2-point blaze of glory.
Right on schedule, the Golgari dredge the Shell back and replay it on turn 6, then sacrificing it to add another counter to the Host and force Endless to sacrifice the Lion. The Host- now a 3/3- turns sideways and Endless takes their first hit of the game. Back to Endless, it plays a Terramorphic Expanse and cracks it for a Plains, then passes. Over to the Golgari, after dredging the Shell they take advantage of the lull in creatures to put a pause to the sacrificial loop, instead putting a Necromantic Thirst on the Host. One 3-point attack later and they’ve salvaged a Drooling Groodion from the graveyard and left Endless at 14. Endless, for their part, suspends a Riftmarked Knight and ends its turn.
Now turn 8, the Golgari dredge a Stinkweed Imp, then attack again with the Host. This puts Endless to 11, and snares another Groodion from the graveyard. The Golgari then tap out to cast it, and pass. All Endless can muster is an Errant Doomsayers. Next turn sees the Golgari replay the Shambling Shell and pop it, putting another counter on the Host and putting the Doomsayers to the sword thanks to Savra. The Groodion and augmented Infected Host smash in for 8, and Endless is now at 3 life. The Golgari play a Stinkeed Imp. Endless looks to break the lock, however, when they flash in a Stonecloaker at the end of turn, exiling the Shambling Shell from the Golgari graveyard. Back to Endless, it claws some life back with an Aven Riftwatcher, then uses Timecrafting to remove the last counter off the Riftmarked Knight for some instant defenders.
It’s now turn 10, and the game is slowing down again. The Golgari dredge up a Mossdog, turning over another Shambling Shell in the process. They then send in every creature on the attack. Savra is blocked by the Knight token hungry for a trade, while the Groodion draws the Aven Riftwatcher plus a Brute Force for the kill. The Infectious Host is stalled thanks to the protection from Black Riftmarked Knight, while only the Imp looks to get in for damage. That is, until the Golgari feeds it to the Groodion, giving +2/+2 to Savra to let her kill her blocker and live. The Riftwatcher is given the -2/-2 to ensure it indeed does die after all, while the Golgari then pay 2 life to Savra to force Endless to sac a creature. Sadly, the only one remaining is the Riftmarked Knight, so Endless sees its entire board wiped out.
It never recovers. Though the Stonecloaker is able to prune away dredge targets and keep the Golgari off their locking loop, the other Groodion touches down and helps to see off Endless March.
It’s down to the final match, with each deck already having seen one through! Which deck will show it wants it more by finding the will to win, and becoming our next champion?
Endless opens with a Terramorphic Expanse, cracking it for a Plains. The Golgari open with a Forest. Next turn, a Mountain touches down and enables a Mogg War Marshal for Endless, while the Golgari simply play a Swamp and end turn.
Now turn 3, Endless pays the echo cost of the Marshal and attacks for 2 before adding an Icatian Javelineer. The Golgari look to seal the hole in their defenses with a Golgari Brownscale. Next turn, Endless attacks again with both Goblins and the Brownscale blocks the Marshal for the kill. After waiting for the declaration of blockers, however, Endless springs its trap: a surprise Dust Elemental. Sure it returns everything else on the board to hand (though not before the Javelineers ping the Golgari for 1), but a turn-4 6/6 with fear is a terrifying prospect for a deck with few outs for such a threat. They Golgari pray for a Putrefy on the draw but don’t get it. so they play a Shambling Shell, drop a Golgari Rot Farm, and pass after a 2-point attack from the Brownscale.
It’s now turn 5, and Endless crushes in with another 6-point attack from the Elemental, pouring on 3 more damage with a Brute Force. They then replay the Mogg War Marshal and Javelineers and pass. The Golgari untap and draw… Savra. Good, but not enough as Endless has left itself plenty of sacrificial fodder. Endless’s follow-up Calciderm then seals the deal, as if there was any doubt. The Golgari are caught without an answer, and Endless March has clearly announced that it is the true and worthy bearer of the title: Champion!
Thanks as always for tuning in. We’ll see you in a few days when we announce the winner of the Prediction League giveaway!
Ouch, 0 for 3 on the final round. Oh well, it was a fun ride and I placed up there, at least.
I guessed the finalists correctly only for Ravnica to let me down. Well, at least this September’s duel deck gives the Golgari another chance =D
Oh heck yeah! IvG? Sweet. Looking forward to that.
That makes two of us.
Some intense matches there. What a way to end it.
While I was hoping for another victory party story blurb (the mental image of Sanity Gnawers dumping a cooler of eViscerade onto Deathbringer Thoctar is still my favorite thing you’ve written on this site), seeing my favorite color combination defeat the deck I’ve been rooting against all tournament long is satisfying enough.
I picked the right week to finally go 3 for 3….
Calciderm was my favorite critter when it was Standard legal.
And Boros goes all the way the one time I didn’t join ’em ranks.
Oh well. Great matches!
2 out of 3, not bad! I think I ended up second, which is great since I had never heard of most of these precons before the tournament XD
Anyway, really great matches – in the end, the Elemental proved to be a overwhelming threat for pretty much everything.
Although, a Stinkweed Imp could have stopped it dead in its tracks.
I’m not sure if Endless March won the finals. It says just attacking caused the Lavacore Elemental to gain counters, when in actuality neither of the attackers is said to have made it– both being eaten. Without that, the 3/3 that ended up having to trade with it wouldn’t have gone anywhere, and could have created a sure clock against the Stormfront gambit, one 3/3 getting through it can end the game fast.