2007-2008 Precon Championships: Lauer Division (Part 2 of 2)
It’s been an exciting journey, but as they say all good things must end. Today the last divisional champion will be revealed, before next week’s Grand Final gives us a champion for the ages.
All four of today’s contenders are Theme Decks from Lorwyn/Shadowmoor blocks, and tribal mayhem is on the menu! Our first match pits the Kithkin Soliders against the ranks of the Elementals, then the Merrow go after the Elves and allies of Turnabout. The action’s about to get underway, let’s head to the arena!
Game 23: Elementals’ Path (LRW) vs Battalion (MOR)
Battalion begins smartly enough with a Ballyrush Banneret, then finds Veteran’s Armaments and a free equip to a Kinsbaile Skirmisher. This gives it some early strength, but unfortunately for it, the Elementals are even faster to develop. An opening-turn Flamekin Harbinger snares a Smokebraider, which powers the deck every turn despite having only Mountains and a single Shimmering Grotto for land.
A Changeling Titan champions the Harbinger, but Battalion sorts it out with a Weight of Conscience. A Changeling Berserker then champions the Titan, restoring the Harbinger to play to go find an Aethersnipe. With a second Aethersnipe and a Shriekmaw in hand, Path is firmly in control of the battlefield. Battalion makes a last stand behind a Burrenton Bombardier, but gets buried beneath a pile of Elementals.
Encouraged by its success, Path audaciously keeps a one-land hand. It opens with a Mountain and Springleaf Drum, making up for the lack of a land drop on turn 2 with a Flamekin Brawler. This gives it enough mana to deploy its Smokebraider, and it actually starts to pull ahead in the mana race- the gamble pays off!
Indeed, for awhile Battalion struggles to find its footing. It gets an early Ballyrush Banneret and Kinsbaile Skirmisher, but when it finds the Preeminent Captain that draws an answering Consuming Bonfire. Cenn’s Tactician arrives, but it’s a Kithkin Zephyranut– along with a trio of kinship hits in a row- that begins to turn the tide for the besieged Battalion. The Zephyrnaut eventually draws a Bonfire of its own, but it’s put in a fine shift.
The game turns when an attacking Fencer Clique gets swapped out for Path’s only flier, the Mulldrifter. Though it can be saved with the Tactician, Battalion opts to leave it as-is, using every bit of its mana to then play a Reveillark. Path has congested the red zone quite well, but it’s not prepared for an assault in the air and the series is going to three!
This time, the game looks to be firmly Path’s. With no mana troubles to speak of, it leads with a Flamekin Brawler for some early damage, then offers it up to a Changeling Berserker for even more.
Battalion, meanwhile, starts slowly. Its first play is a Ballyrush Banneret, after which it adds the Preeminent Captain and a Turtleshell Changeling. When the Captain gets bounced with an evoked Aethersnipe for a tempo advantage, Battalion tries to trade the Changeling for the Berserker. Even this is thwarted, though, by the timely intervension of a Dawnfluke, and Path seems firmly in control. It hammers Battalion’s hand with a Mournwhelk, then finds Ceaseless Searblades and a Smokebraider.
Battalion’s against the ropes, forced to trade out its creatures to buy time. It manages to gang-block the Berserker, leaving the Brawler in its place. While the Brawler makes for a brutal duo with the Searblades, a timely Reveillark upsets the timetable. Path now needs to win behind a single, massive strike, given that the Reveillark would surely pull two replacements out of the graveyard when it died.
Sadly for Path, all it finds is land. Battalion, meanwhile, finds a pair of Kithkin Zephyrnauts, and the kinship to back them up. Unable to stop the attack in the air, and unable to break through for lethal damage on the ground, Path can only watch in horror as its lead gets eroded away, and defeat is snatched from the jaws of victory.
Game 24: Turnabout (SHM) vs Merrow Riverways (LRW)
Turnabout is happy to field Rhys the Redeemed on turn 1, and the Merrow are just as happy to Oblivion Ring him away two turns later. Meanwhile, Turnabout has found a Devoted Druid and Wilt-Leaf Liege, and when the Merrow O-Ring away the Liege and it pulls a Gleeful Sabotage, there’s a hard decision to make. It opts to liberate the Liege and leave Rhys interred, as it’s managed to have a fairly aggressive board posture with lots of creatures to pump. It turns out to be a fateful choice. Turnabout then finds a Resplendent Mentor and Pale Wayfarer, and as the red zone congests it begins tapping for loads of life.
The Merrow have similarly been industrious. Although initially behind with a Stonybrook Angler and Silvergill Douser able to blunt some of the incoming trauma, it begins fortifying its defenses all the more when Sygg, River Guide appears. A Judge of Currents then lets it fight fire with fire, as both sides escalate their life totals ever higher.
Indeed, the game starts to look like the worst kind of stall. Neither can break through all that successfully, and both pile on the life. The Merfolk stem the tide a little with a ‘combo’ that sees a Tideshaper Mystic turn a land into an Island, letting Sygg islandwalk through. Streambed Aquitects allow a second Merfolk to join, and it’s a Silvergill Adept whose 2 power is about as high as it gets. A Merrow Reejerey adds to the damage tally, but even still Turnabout is gaining more life than the Merfolk can deliver.
Once Merrow Commerce comes out, though, ther Merfolk are gaining just as fast. Turnabout keeps assembling its troops- a couple of Safehold Duos, a Wilt-Leaf Cavalier enchanted with Shield of the Oversoul, an Old Ghastbark– but it’s not enough for profitable attack. The games is deadlocked, but then the crafty Merrow find the Merrow Harbinger.
This swts up two interesting choices. The Merrow can either grab Wanderwine Prophets, setting up loads of extra-turn shenanigans. Or it can nab the Drowner of Secrets, milling out its lifegaining opponent. It opts for the latter, and begins milling a dozen cards at a time. With the Commerce in play, it doesn’t take long until Turnabout’s last card is milled off, and they lose one their next draw. The Merrow finish at 79 life, Turnabout at 58.
Taking the mulligan from a one-land hand is almost always the right play, but every once in awhile you draw the “god-hand” and decide to roll the bones of fortune. In this case, Turnabout has just a Forest to begin with, but with Rhys the Redeemed, a Gleeful Sabotage, two Devoted Druids, Wilt-Lef Cavaliers, and a Shield of the Oversoul, the upside is extraordinary.
The Merfolk lead with a Tideshaper Mystic, followed by Sygg, River Guide and a Judge of Currents. It’s a solid start, but not enough to worry Turnabout overmuch. Still, it can’t find a land for love or money, and the Merfolk suddenly take on a much more sinister aspect when a Merrow Reejerey touches down. Though it plots to buy time with a surprise Barkshell Blessing, but the Merfolk send a dagger to their heart by simply exiling Rhys altogether with an Oblivion Ring. Though Turnabout does manage another land and Devoted Druid to get back on track, it never recovers the lost ground. Mixed in with the bitter taste of defeat is the stench of what-might-have-beens.
WINNER: Merrow Riverways
LAUER DIVISIONAL FINALS: Battalion (MOR) vs Merrow Riverways (LRW)
The Merrow begin humbly, missing their third land drop but still managing to deploy a Tideshaper Mystic and pair of Silvergill Dousers before finally finding a Plains. Battalion, meanwhile, open with Cenn’s Tactician, then a Kinsbaile Skirmisher and Preeminent Captain after Oblivion Ring’ing a Drowner of Secrets. The Captain then gets Ringed, before quickly being liberated by another O-Ring.
With the removal duel sorted, Battalion then finds Veteran’s Armaments for the Captain, getting Whirlpool Whelmed in response to delay a turn. By then it’s too late- the Merfolk have found their defenses. Merrow Reejerey pumps the side, while the Judge of Currents lets the Merrow rake in the life. Finally, Sygg, River Guide offers protection, and a Harpoon Sniper turns the formation into something of a hedgehog. In short, Battalion is denied the one thing it’s designed to do- attack.
A Mothdust Changeling, second Skirmisher, Burrenton Bombardier, and even a Reveillark touch down, but Sygg’s aegis shields the Merfolk from harm. Unable to either effectively block or attack, Battalion folds.
The Merrow open with a Tideshaper Mystic, then add a pair of Judges of Currents to get the lifegain working early. Battalion, for its part, leads with a Ballyrush Banneret and Preeminent Captain. Again, though, the Captain is quickly neutered, this time thanks to a Stonybrook Angler. Though the Kithkin’s quick attacking takes the Merfolk down to single-digit life, they soon stabilise and claw it all back. A Silvergill Douser and Harpoon Sniper make the defenses complete, and a Streambed Aquitects offer an extra change at tapping for life.
No matter what it does, Battalion seems lost. A Turtleshell Changeling, Cenn’s Tactician, pair of Kinsbaile Skirmishers, and Burrenton Bombardier can’t overcome the defensive wall and outpace the blistering lifegain, while a Reveillark stares forlornly at an empty graveyard. A Merrow Harbinger slips in the dagger when it tutors up Merrow Commcerce, and then the Merfolk set about the grim business in earnest. 5 points of islandwalking damage a turn doesn’t give Battalion long to live, and the end comes mercifully quick.
That’s all for now! We’re down to the last week of the Preconstructed Championship. Stay tuned- the Grand Final will be on Sunday, 02 June- get your tickets now!