2014-15 Precon Championships: Lauer Division (Part 2 of 2)
Welcome back, folks, for the final round of Divisional action! Yes, your humble author did derp a bit here and posted the divisional write-up and prediction thread in the wrong order, but sometimes you just gotta roll with a little unpredictability!
Here’s how the action unfolded!
Game One: Landslide Charge (Dragons of Tarkir Event Deck) versus Relentless Rush (Dragons of Tarkir Intro Pack)
Landslide Charge has a promising start, behind a Golden Hind and Heir of the Wilds. But it comes up short in the Red mana department, as its hand slowly fills with uncastable cards. Meanwhile, Relentless Rush takes advantage of the misstep, Duressing away a Roast on turn 1, then dashing a Lightning Berserker, and Screamreach Brawler before the Boltwing Marauder arrives. Next turn, it dashes the Brawler and Kolaghan Skirmisher (the Berserker having been traded with the Heir), swinging with all three behind a Foul-Tongue Shriek. It does the job, and Rush blitzes to an opening-round win!
Landslide bounces right back after the loss, with an Elvish Mystic powering a turn-2 Fanatic of Xenagos, with a Thunderbreak Regent a turn behind. Relentless Rush finds a Kolaghan Aspirant and…not much else. Twin Bolt and Defeat are of limited use, and when the Aspirant is Roasted out of the way, Charge hammers in for the win.
Another thrilling nail-biter! Charge starts quickly, building behind an Elvish Mystic and a Golden Hind- but Rush tamps down the ramp with Defeat and Vial of Dragonfire. A Fanatic of Xenagos and replacement Mystic threaten Rush’s life total, but Rush replies in kind with an Impact Tremors and dashed Sprinting Warbrute.
The two trade swings until Rush realizes it’s a step behind. After a second Fanatic of Xenagos is deployed, Rush looks to hardcast the Warbrute to buy some time, with both Flatten and Foul-Tongue Shriek in hand. Alas, in the play that makes the game, Charge counters it with a Temur Charm, and goes on to alpha strike for the. Glory for the Event Dck, and bittersweet defeat for the Intro Pack!
WINNER: Landslide Charge
Game Two: Grave Advantage (Fate Reforged Intro Pack) versus Sworn to Darkness (Commander 2014)
Grave begins the game with a Satyr Wayfinder, a card it’s always happy to see, while Darkness leads with a Nantuko Shade. The Shade’s a looming threat, something to do in the meantime while Darkness waits to drop its bombs, but Grave summons a Merciless Executioner, effectively trading the Shade for the Wayfinder- a lopsided trade.
Darkness adds a Jet Medallion, while Grave delves out a Sultai Scavenger. When Darkness brings its biggest threats online in the form of a Pontiff of Blight and Grave Titan, Grave has no answers and is forced to punt with a Dark Deal.
Darkness swings in with the Titan, forcing a trade for both the Scavenger and Executioner, but this isn’t without its upside. Next turn, Grave plays a 10/10 Undergrowth Scavenger, using Hunt the Weak to kill the Pontiff. All Darkness has left is four 2/2 Zombies and a Burnished Hart. But one of the two cards it drew off of the Deal is a Profane Command. It’s just enough to damage Grave, letting the Zombies finish the work in the red zone.
Darkness has the sweepers and isn’t afraid to use them. A Black Sun’s Zenith (held for as long as feasible) and Mutilate between them kill off a Wall of Mulch, Merciless Executioner, and Sibsig Host, and should get credit for the Gurmag Angler so reduced in stature that it was offered to the Executioner. Sadly for Darkness, the Executioner killed off a Bloodgift Demon, and it struggled to recover.
Not so for Grave, which rebounds straightaway with a Hornet Queen. Although the Queen dies immediately to a Shriekmaw, a 7/7 Undergrowth Scavenger and resummoned Hornet Queen follow (thanks to a Gravedigger). Ironically, a sweeper gets it out of the jam, but none is forthcoming and the commander deck falls to the swarm
Darkness has a thin hand, rich with lands, but it’s worth keeping thanks to a single card: Crypt Ghast. It if can stick that, there’s nothing it can’t play. Along the way it adds a Mind Stone for some extra mana, which gets cashed in for a card once the Ghast lands.
Grave, meanwhile, plays an Archers’ Parapet, fills its graveyard a bit with Sudden Reclamation, and plays a Sultai Flayer. Grave takes it on the chin from a massive Profane Command, which both hammers it for 8 points of life loss as well as killing off a timely Gurmag Angler, while Darkness happily refills its hand with a Promise of Power.
From there, it’s tit for tat. On the ropes, Grave loses its Flayer to a Shriekmaw, who gets in some extra evasive damage until a Gravedigger returns the Flayer. The Flayer then falls to a Nekrataal. Grave catches some lucky breaks, as it’s a bit light on land. In one turn, it plays Kin-Tree Invocation to get a 5/5 body (thanks to the Parapet), then uses that to fight the Ghast with Grim Contest.
Deprived of its rich mana, Darkness summons a Skirsdag High Priest and Vampire Hexmage, but then Grave plays an Archfiend of Depravity. Darkness then nukes the stalled board with Necromantic Selection, putting the Archfiend into play for itself. On a one-turn clock, Grave topdecks an answer after playing Scout the Borders, hitting a Merciless Executioner it can play with its last three mana. The board is now empty.
Darkness takes advantage, deploying Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath to see things out personally. A kick in the jewels for Grave comes in the form of a humble Bojuka Bog, wiping out Grave’s precious “second library.” Although Grave follows with a Sibsig Host, Darkness seals the deal on the next turn. Using a recently-played Worn Powerstone, it has just enough to summon a Pestilence Demon– and activate its ability enough times for lethal. The Commander deck advances!
WINNER: Grasp of Darkness
LAUER DIVISIONAL FINAL: Landslide Charge (Dragons of Tarkir Event Deck) versus Sworn to Darkness (Commander 2014)
Darkness is on the play, but it’s Charge that has the first play- a Golden Hind. Knowing the danger of unchecked ramp, however, Darkness immediately uses Tragic Slip to kill it. And so it goes, with a classic strike-and-riposte back-and-forth as each side nullifies the threats of the other.
Charge summons an Heir to the Wilds, followed by a Savage Knuckleblade. The Knuckleblade dies immediately to a Nekrataal, while Darkness drains for four off of a Gray Merchant of Asphodel. The Nekrataal chips away at its opponent’s life total, while Charge adds a second Heir. An Heir trades with the Merchant, while a Bloodgift Demon gets countered by the Temur Charm.
The back and forth continues! A Fanatic of Xenagos gets killed by Annihilate, while Wild Slash picks off the Nekrataal. Darkness lands a Pestilence Demon; Charge unloads on it with Crater’s Claws. A Tendrils of Corruption aimed at the remaining Heir is countered by another Charm, but eventually something has to give.
Darkness summons Ghoulcaller Gisa, with Charge at 8 life. In follows next turn with a Lashwrithe, then it sacrifices the Germ token to Gisa to make six Zombies. Charge has no way to stop that much incoming damage, and concedes the round.
Darkness has a dream hand, filled with solid bombs, a touch of artifact ramp, and- above all- the Crypt Ghast. It’s a touch risky, as it has little to do until turn three, but can it weather the storm?
No, it can’t. Charge lives up to the name, chaining an Elvish Mystic, Boon Satyr, and hasty Surrak, the Hunt Caller, backed up by a Lightning Strike. It blitzes the game before Darkness even knows what hit it.
The final round, with the divisional title on the line, is all about risks and gambles. Charge’s hand is a touch mana-light- an Evolving Wilds and Mountain- but with with an Elvish Mystic to make up the difference. Instead of building up the manabase, however, it decides to try and take a more aggressive posture to blitz its opponent, which is vulnerable in the early game. Its turn-two play, therefore, isn’t a Mystic off a freshly-fetched Forest, but rather Mogis’s Warhound. The Mystic follows, as does a Fanatic of Xenagos.
The Fanatic and Warhound charge forward, facing down only a lone Flesh Carver, but Darkness then takes the trade for the Carver (replacing it with a 2/2 Horror), then uses Malicious Affliction to kill off the Fanatic and Mystic, leaving it with the board’s lone creature.
Darkness uses Skeletal Scrying and Sign in Blood to dig for cards, and summons a 5/5 Demon off of Promise of Power. Charge, meanwhile, has stumbled from the early loss of the Mystic, and deploys an Heir to the Wilds and Surrak, the Hunt Caller after finding two more Mystics.
With only one Mountain in play on the other side of the table, Darkness gambles by summoning a Xathrid Demon. Charge can only rue the missed opportunity as it looks down at a hand of Red burn, but no way to take care of both the 2/2 Horror and 5/5 Demon to turn the Xathrid against its summoner. Darkness wins!!