2011-2012 Precon Championships: Lauer Division (Part 1 of 2)
As of today, three divisions have been claimed by the best of the eight decks that form them. Two of these are sizing one another up, getting ready for the battle to claim the Rosewater Conference. The other eagerly awaits the outcome of this last division, the Lauer. Today, the field will be cut down by half, when eight decks enter the field of glory, and four are carried off in defeat.
The Lauer is in one way perhaps the least of the Divisions, given that it only has two premium decks amongst its ranks. The other six are all Intro Packs, giving the Division a fairly egalitarian feel. For the purist waiting to see Intro Pack-on-Intro Pack action, this is it! Of course, the two premium decks won’t be going down just because of the sentiment of the crowd, and may have a thing or two to say about their ouster. Let’s head down to the arena and find out!
Game 13: Angelic Might (AVR) vs Fiery Dawn (AVR)
Dawn can’t afford to let the Angel-heavy Might go to the endgame, so it opens its account early and keeps the pressure high. A Thraben Valiant is joined by a Kruin Striker, while Might buys time and board presence with a Borderland Ranger. The Ranger trades out with Kessig Malcontents after the Valiant and Striker are safely Defanged, but when Dawn lands Vigilante Justice things really begin to take off.
A Thatcher Revolt blasts an Emancipation Angel thanks to the Justice, and Might can’t keep a creature out for long. A Cathedral Sanctifier lasts long enough to restore 3 life, but falls to the playing of an Elite Vanguard. Might then lands both Angelic Armaments and Cathars’ Crusade, and that’s when things truly go off the rails for the Angels.
A Seraph of Dawn and Voice of the Provinces promise some measure of relief, but when Dawn plays Zealous Conscripts and takes the Seraph for a ride, Might must chump with the Voice just to stay upright. It never recovers, and Dawn seals the deal with a Pacifism-enabled alpha strike.
Might gambles on a dicey keep, with two land (one of them a Seraph Sanctuary , the other off-colour- but good lines of play promised if it can find a Plains. With victory at hand, however, Dawn is taking few chances as it opens with an Elite Vanguard, followed by Kessig Malcontents and Somberwald Vigilante.
Luckily, the keep pays off for the Angels as they develop their manabase, playing an Angelic Wall, Timberland Guide (putting the +1/+1 counter on the Wall), and Angel’s Tomb. The Tomb proves to be a real thorn in Dawn’s side, impossible to answer and reliably striking each turn as Might adds a Cathedral Sanctifier and Gideon’s Lawkeeper.
It’s close to stabilizing, but Dawn steps up the furious assault. A Devout Chaplain and Benalish Veteran are added to the fray, while a Vigilante Justice promises more pain to come. But then a funny thing happens- Dawn stumbles on its recruitment drive, and can’t find any more Humans. Might’s Guide and Sanctifier die in trades with the waves of attackers, and goes down to 2 life when Dawn throws an Incinerate and Pillar of Flame at it. One more burn spell, and the Angels are done.
Like the faintest flicker of a candle, however, a glimmer of hope appears when Might finds its fifth land and summons a Serra Angel, giving it 1 point of life off the Sanctuary after preparing the way with a Triumph of Ferocity. The extra card off of Triumph finds the Angels one more land, and they break the game wide open with a Goldnight Redeemer, restoring a further 9 life at a stroke. Dawn can’t stop the Angels in the air, and fall soon after.
With everything to play for, the Angels dig deep to lay it all out on the line, stealing the ‘beatdown’ role from Dawn. A Rampant Growth and Borderland Ranger help level out the manabase, and a Cathedral Sanctifier leads the way with some lifegain. It then plays an Angel’s Tomb and Scroll of Avacyn.
Dawn tries its best, with an Elite Vanguard opening up alongside a Riot Ringleader and Somberwald Vigilante, but it can’t seem to mount any consistent offense. The Vanguard gets traded for the Sanctifier, and though it gets its hits in the lifegain of the Angels keep the deck afloat. Then the Angels start dropping.
First a Serra Angel, then a Goldnight Redeemer. The Serra draws a Pacifism, but by then the Angels have the mana not only to pull her back to hand with an appropriately-named Emancipation Angel, but replay her as well. Meanwhile the first-turn Seraph Sanctuary is ringing up little doses of life, and Dawn is hopelessly outclassed. It let the Angels build up too much again, and even burn in hand isn’t enough to save it.
WINNER: Angelic Might
Game 14: Nicol Bolas (DD:AvNB) vs Dark Sacrifice (DKA)
Sacrifice is well-positioned in the opening clash, leading with an Unruly Mob before playing a Falkenrath Torturer. Bolas, meanwhile, contents himself developing his manabase with a Mountain into a Rupture Spire. That’s all the opening Sacrifice needs. It plays a Gather the Townsfolk, putting a pair of 1/1 Humans onto the battlefield. It then feeds one to the Torturer, giving it flying and a +1/+1 counter, while the other is offered up to an Altar’s Reap for two more cards. This gives the Unruly Mob a pair of +1/+1 counters of its own, letting Sacrifice hammer in for 6. Bolas then deploys a Blazing Specter, striking for 2 and forcing the discard of a Plains. Back to Sacrifice, it then adds an Elgaud Inquisitor to the board. The Inquisitor is then fed to the Torturer, and just like that Bolas is down to 6 while Sacrifice is up a 1/1 Spirit.
Bolas solves the Torturer with a Grixis Charm, but when the Specter is used to chump the Mob and the resulting morbid trigger permits a Wakedancer to come in alongside a Zombie, Bolas is all but done.
Sacrifice opens with a dream start, a Champion of the Parish first turn followed by a Skirsdag Flayer and Village Cannibals. It’s a tough one to beat, especially when Sacrifice follows with a Night Terrors, whisking away an Ogre Savant. For his part, Bolas leads with a Nightscape Familiar, followed by a Steamcore Weird and Slavering Null. The Weird blasts the Flayer, while the Champion gets solved with a Shriekmaw, a Falkenrath Torturer is bounced with a Vapor Snag, and an Elgaud Inquisitor finds its fate from a Profane Command.
Still, the damage Sacrifice has been able to inflict early means it doesn’t have much more to do for the win. Bolas Undermines an Elder Cathar, but the Torturer keeps managing to find a meal to evade all of the Dragon’s defenders. Still, the window is closing, and closing fast- the Shriekmaw is relentless each turn, carving in for 3.
Finally down to just the Cannibals, it accepts a trade for the Shriekmaw. An Unburial Rites brings back the Torturer, and with Bolas at 2 life Sacrifice unearths a blood meal for the Vampires next turn by flashing back the Cathar. It’s fed to the waiting Torturers, and they fly in for the win!
WINNER: Dark Sacrifice
Game 15: Humanity’s Vengeance (AVR) vs Relentless Dead (DKA)
The Zombies start out relatively slowly, which is more or less a death sentence for them. An opening Diregraf Ghoul followed by a Black Cat is promising, but it no sooner drops an Endless Ranks of the Dead than the Cat gets snuffed by a Fiend Hunter. Meanwhile, Vengeance floods the board with beaters- Nearheath Pilgrims, a Blade Splicer, Porcelain Legionnaires, even a couple of Tandem Lookouts. Vengeance is made for a creature surge, and it doesn’t disappoint.
Dead buys a little time when it chumps with the Diregraf Ghoul to permit the summoning of a Stitched Drake, and a pair of Dead Weights pick off Legionnaires, but the end is all but inevitable. Ground down over the course of turns, it never gets more than a few points of damage in.
The Zombies take advantage of a weak start from Humanity’s Vengeance, and play out of their skin to do everything they can in order to…break even? Sadly so, as the deck just doesn’t have enough to overrun the creature-packed opposition. All the usual suspects make appearances, with early Walking Corpses and a Black Cat. A Diregraf Captain draws an immediate Dismember as Vengeance begins constructing adequate defences. Nearheath Pilgrims help keep the life total high as Vengeance adds Porcelain Legionnaires, a Fiend Hunter, and even a couple Gideon’s Lawkeepers.
In the absence of evasion, however, all both sides can do is engage in an arms race. The Cellar Door helps build the Zombie army, while Reap the Seagraf and Moan of the Unhallowed do their part. A Farbog Boneflinger kills a Lawkeeper, while Dead Weights keep the Legionnaire population in check. A pair of Abattoir Ghouls materialize and help the stall, but are both eventually dismissed with a Phyrexian Metamorph copying a Fiend Hunter, and a Righteous Blow. Still, slowly but surely the ranks of the Zombies grow.
Sadly, Endless Ranks of the Dead has already found itself into the graveyard, so Relentless Dead know that they’re facing an uphill battle. Vengeance can’t get past the undead horde, and looks desperately for a Wingcrafter to grant some evasion. A flashbacked Forbidden Alchemy nabs a replacement Diregraf Captain, as only eleven cards remain in the library. Next turn, with a Wingcrafter soulbonded to a Tandem Lookout puts the Zombies on a one-turn clock, so the Zombies swarm across the red zone.
Ten Zombie tokens, the Captain, a Cat, and a Screeching Skaab flood in for 40 damage. Tappers distract, defenders engage and the result is pure carnage. By the time the last undead thing is left squirming on the battlefield, Humanity’s Vengeance is at exactly 1 life. Relentless Dead is left to wonder what might have been had one more Cellar Door activation hit, but it’s competitive days are now behind it.
WINNER: Humanity’s Vengeance
Game 16: Grave Power (DKA) vs Mystical Might (M12)
With the solid performance of its Event Deck sibling, the pressure is on Mystical Might to give a good accounting of itself. It opens with a Phantasmal Bear, followed by a Benalish Veteran, but the game goes according to Grave Power’s plan when it finds a pair of Armored Skaabs in quick succession. There’s a moment of regret, however, when a Splinterfright and Boneyard Wurm are amongst the losses, but it does make for a sizable graveyard fairly quickly.
Things change, however, when a turn-3 Skywinder Drake shows up, followed by a Stormfront Pegasus. Power lands a Tower Geist to defend, but it attracts an immediate Oblivion Ring. Power next tries to take the reins of the offense with a massive Wreath of Geists on a Skaab, but the formerly-useless Bear and Veteran now have grim purpose: chump-blocking.
Advancement is in sight for Might, if only it can take one more game. It has a promising opening hand, with an Oblivion Ring, Cancel, and a Sphinx of Uthuun (the latter more curse than blessing this early), while Power starts with a pair of Dawntreader Elks and an Armored Skaab. They get in for steady, early damage while Might gets stuck on only one Island.
A 4/4 Boneyard Wurm draws the Ring, but Might’s life total creeps steadily lower. Power adds a Deranged Assistant and Mulches, then recasts an Elk that Might Unsummoned when Power was tapped out. A Serra Angel looks to be the difference Might needs, but Power drops a pair of Wreaths of Geists on the Elks, turning the board sideways for lethal.
Might finds itself with a dream start, knowing Power’s vulnerability in the air. It chains together a Stormfront Pegasus, Skywinder Drake, Skywinder Drake, and Phantasmal Dragon, with a Serra Angel on deck. She’s never needed, as Power folds. Two Dawntreader Elk and a Deranged Assistant are all that remain behind as Might’s aerial blitz seals the win!
WINNER: Mystical Might
And that’s it! THe four winners will be back in a week to clash one last time, until only one deck remains. Then we’re off to the Finals, to declare ourselves a Champion! Stay tuned this week as we post the Prediction League results, and get ready for the next round of predicting!