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According to Webster – Magic Online Live Series and SCR Draft #3

Before we start the draft walkthrough, I’d like to share my experiences with you about the Magic Online Live Series and its first stop at Pro Tour: Honolulu. For those of you who don’t know what event I’m talking about, you can read all about it HERE . The event is basically two rounds of draft queues: four qualifier queues in round one and one final queue in round two. The finalists of the first four queues get to draft in the last queue and play for a combined $5,000, a MTGO foil set of choice, a MTGO non-foil set of choice, additional online boosters in prizes, and a big heavy trophy. There are eight computers set up in a circle and the participants draft on Magic Online (hence the name). The event is first come first serve.

When I read about this event on the side event page for Pro Tour: Honolulu, I was immediately fascinated. WOTC was planning on giving away an incredible prize for an event that didn’t require the amount of work put into it that I would have assumed it would. I scoured www.magicthegathering.com looking for some detail that I had missed. As it turned out, I hadn’t missed anything.

The first queue was scheduled to fire at 3PM on Friday. I showed up to the venue when it opened at 7:45AM along with some friends who were playing in the PT. I looked around for someone to talk to about the event and eventually found Scott Larabee and Steve Port. They echoed what had been posted on the website, that the event would be first come first serve. I was in the front of the line and set to play, in 7 hours.

Some of the other people that I had been talking to back at GP: Seattle who were also on the trail of this mysterious cash cow of an event began to show up. In about half an hour, there were seven other people waiting to play. Fortune smiled upon us as some of the WOTC officials decided that it would be fine to take our names and money now (at 9AM) instead of having us wait the full amount of time. We had no complaints.

Fast-forward to 3PM. The first queue felt like an above average 8-4 queue on MTGO. I took Sanctum Gargoyle first and never looked back, ending with a solid eighteen-artifact Esper deck. I easily 3-0’d the first pod despite some minor hiccups (like losing game 1 each round). I had won my invitation to the final draft in the first try.

As the word spread about the event, it became increasingly difficult to get into the next three qualifier pods. Chairs were set up against the wall next to the side events stage. People could sit in those seats for however long they’d like with signups taking place one hour before the event was scheduled. People were waiting there for quite a long time. Someone began waiting for the last queue outside of the Hawaii Convention Center at 4:30AM on Sunday. Now that’s determination!

The final queue is much better documented than the qualifier queues (to my knowledge). The following link is to a draft viewer of the final queue: Drafto! . The final queue was harder than the first one. There were many recognizable people including Guillaume Wafo-tapa (WatoO), Antoine Ruel (floup), and other MTGO ringers like myself whom I unfortunately don’t know the real names of (JWay, StrongLikeBear, INDK, SaucyPizza, and baconator5000[updating Editor’s note: Baconator is Andrejs Prost]).

I opened Corpse Connoisseur, taking it over Fleshbag Marauder, Blister Beetle, Naya Battlemage, and Knight-Captain of Eos. Some of you may say that’s wrong. Some of you haven’t played enough with Corpse Connoisseur. I got pushed around a bit in pack two, getting sent into more of a solid Grixis deck rather than just splashing for a few cards. Pack three was also a bit rough, mainly because I didn’t see any of the Terminates or Sangrite Backlashs that I was expecting. Regardless of what I expected, I was still happy with the outcome.

After I won round one, Antoine came up and asked if I wanted to do a top-4 split. Apparently my match was the last one to finish and the other three people had already agreed to split if I wanted to do so as well. I liked my deck so I decided to “No Sir” him and battled for all the marbles. I didn’t really want to go through the hassle of having to trust and communicate with people on the other side of the planet. Maybe I was being overly greedy. Maybe I was being unreasonable. I’m pretty sure that I wasn’t and still believe that. In the end my gambit paid off and I walked away as king of the hill, winning the entire queue, $2,000, a MTGO foil set of my choice, and a big heavy trophy (seen HERE ). I obviously chose Master’s Edition 2 because it’s worth the most (foil dual lands are worth infinite). That set was quickly turned into cash when I got back to California.

The Magic Online Live Series will continue to make stops during the year. I strongly recommend trying to get into one of these events if you can. They are very rewarding, although as the news about it spreads, will probably be more difficult to get into one than it was for myself. While you may not have to battle through a bunch of pros you know the names of, you’ll most definitely be drafting with a bunch of ringers and an end-boss or two.

And now on to the draft:

Pack 1 pick 1:

 

 

There is no correct direction to go. The pick is going to be based on preference. There isn’t a choice that helps define what you’ll be more likely to get passed in Conflux because the top four cards overlap (Arcane Sanctum ~ Executioner’s Capsule, Executioner’s Capsule ~ Resounding Thunder, Resounding Thunder ~ Branching Bolt) into the various shards. In my opinion, the pick is between Resounding Thunder and Arcane Sanctum. Of the three removal spells, Resounding Thunder is the best because it is more flexible than Branching Bolt and more powerful than Executioner’s Capsule. I don’t respect Arcane Sanctum enough to take it over Resounding Thunder. Like I said, it’s all based on preference.

My pick: Resounding Thunder

Pack 1 pick 2:

 

It’s good to know that if we had gone down the other path we would have had some good choices. Woolly Thoctar, Akrasan Squire, and Viscera Dragger are the top three picks. This time, there’s a more obvious direction to go. Preference may determine whether we go with Viscera Dragger or Woolly Thoctar/Akrasan Squire, but the former is not nearly as powerful. Some people are nuts about Akrasan Squire. It is a powerful one-drop. However, Woolly Thoctar is better in my eyes. By itself, Woolly Thoctar is going to do much more in a game that isn’t going your way than Akrasan Squire will which is what puts it over the top when comparing the two.

My pick: Woolly Thoctar

Pack 1 pick 3:

 

Bloodpyre Elemental is removal, but mediocre. Five mana is a lot. Depending on what we’re trying to do with our gameplan, it may be too much. Elvish Visionary is very unexciting. Steward of Valeron is the only card that should be considered taking in addition to the Bloodpyre Elemental. Steward of Valeron is better for a fast Naya deck than Bloodpyre Elemental. It serves both as mana acceleration to make higher-curve hands keepable as well being a two-power bear.

My pick: Steward of Valeron

Pack 1 pick 4:

 

Akrasan Squire is the easy choice. Nothing else comes close to it. Jungle Weaver and Thorn-Thrash Viashino are jokes compared to it.

My pick: [card]Akrasan Squire[/card]

Pack 1 pick 5:

 

Again, this is an easy pick and possibly a sign of good things to come. Either this pack was very deep or Naya no one is drafting it to our right which bodes well for pack three. Jungle Shrine is absolutely fantastic for our deck. One of the problems with aggressive strategies is mana. If they stumble in the early game because of not having the correct color mana, then the aggro deck will lose because it’s playing with weaker cards that don’t have the late-game power that the opponent’s cards have. Good mana fixing is mana fixing that doesn’t slow you down. Jungle Shrine is one of the best options available.

My pick: Jungle Shrine

Pack 1 pick 6:

 

Necrogenesis is the “best” card in the pack. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really play well with our plan of smashing the opponent’s brains in by turn seven. Lightning Talons is flashy and can sometimes win games. However, creature enchantments are bad for the most part. Getting two-for-one’d is just terrible. Court Archers is unexciting and always has been; it still makes the cut as the twenty-first card in most green decks though.

My pick: Court Archers

Pack 1 pick 7:

 

Druid of the Anima isn’t very good in aggressive Naya. If a creature doesn’t have more than one power, it better do something amazing to make the cut. While Druid of the Anima helps cast our deck, there are more powerful options in the pack. Excommunicate and Angelic Benediction are similar cards. Both invalidate creatures, making blocking more difficult for the opponent. Excommunicate is better when two decks are racing because it removes a creature from play temporarily. Excommunicate stunts the opponent’s development because they’ll have to recast their creature whereas Angelic Benediction does not. Excommunicate is better in decks that want to attack with multiple creatures. While Angelic Benediction has an impact on the board for more turns than Excommunicate, the pros of Excommunicate make it the better card.

My pick: Excommunicate

Pack 1 pick 8:

 

Rakeclaw Gargantuan is a fine card. However, it doesn’t lend itself well to the strategy that we’re focusing on. We want lots of bears and some combat tricks/removal. There will be plenty of high-casting cost cards further along in the draft to choose from. Naya Panorama is going to function much better in the deck than Rakeclaw Gargantuan. It will help find our missing color in the games that we draw it.

My pick: Naya Panorama

Pack 1 pick 9:

 

Both Sacellum Godspeaker and Yoked Plowbeast aren’t playable in our deck. While Sacellum Godspeaker might be able to make the cut as the last spell if we had no other options, it is better to pass it and take the Yoked Plowbeast. The reasoning behind that is this: In pack two, it would be better for someone passing to you to have a reason to take Beacon Behemoth and Wild Leotau out of a pack while they pass the Aven Squire, Matca Rioters, “Outlander” bears, Ember Weaver, and Might of Alara to you. Yoked Plowbeast doesn’t make them want to take more large creatures; Sacellum Godspeaker does.

My pick: Yoked Plowbeast

Pack 1 pick 10:

 

Dispeller’s Capsule is a fine sideboard card, but Rip-Clan Crasher is exactly the type of two-mana creature that we want in the deck. While it does increase the potential of not having the proper mana on turn two to cast it, there is always the opportunity to play it on turn four or five along with whatever combat trick/removal spell you play in addition to it.

My pick: [card]Rip-Clan Crasher[/card]

Pack 1 pick 11:

 

Incurable Ogre is bad. He does hit pretty hard though. Nothing else is playable in this pack. We’ll most likely keep him in the sideboard.

My pick: Incurable Ogre

Pack 1 pick 12:

 

My pick: Lush Growth

Pack 1 pick 13:

 

My pick: Carrion Thrash

Pack 1 pick 14:

 

My pick: Swamp

Pack 1 pick 15:

Mountain

Pack 2 pick 1:

 

In the situations where plan A fails, we need a plan B. Sometimes our Evil opponent will be able to stop our onslaught of bears because of a number of factors. If that happens, having a few solid creatures that cost more than two mana is fine. Thornling is quite hard to deal with and does just about everything (except be awesome post-M10) that Woolly Thoctar does and more.

My pick: Thornling

Pack 2 pick 2:

 

I’m not exactly sure what the person to our left took over Obelisk of Alara, but it certainly wasn’t correct. There is a foil in the pack still which means that a normal common was taken. First off, Obelisk of Alara fits into every deck and will be awesome; end of story. Yes, it’s THAT good. If it weren’t in the pack, then we’d gamble and take Gleam of Resistance hoping to wheel an Outlander.

My pick: Obelisk of Alara

Pack 2 pick 3:

 

Most of the cards here are close but each has its own problems. Viashino Slaughtermaster is a Grizzly Bear. We won’t be able to pump it and make it awesome. It also pushes us closer to a solid three colors instead of just splashing red (which is what we’re doing at the moment). Matca Rioters has the potential to be a three-mana 3/3. From what I’ve experienced, that isn’t the case most of the time. It’s going to be a 2/2 in most situations which isn’t impressive. Canyon Minotaur is very unexciting. You get what you pay for and don’t feel that great about it. Rhox Bodyguard costs too much mana for what it provides. Rhox Meditant is the card that is the best of the group. But wait; didn’t you just hear all the negativity about Canyon Minotaur, Matca Rioters, and Rhox Bodyguard? What makes Rhox Meditant, a four-mana 2/4, that much better than the rest of the bunch? The answer is simple; it draws a card. One of the problems that aggressive decks have is running out of steam when things don’t go their way. Rhox Meditant keeps the deck’s gas tank full and puts a reasonably-sized creature into play that doesn’t die to the board sweepers and other removal that the rest of the deck does.

My pick: Rhox Meditant

Pack 2 pick 4:

 

This is basically the same as the previous pick. See above. One of the reasons why it’s not good to take Sylvan Bounty here is because the card takes up a spell slot and functions only to fix our mana. Gaining eight life is not something that we’re interested in having in an aggressive deck.

My pick: Rhox Meditant

Pack 2 pick 5:

 

Alara Reborn makes the “Outlander” cycle much better than they were in SSC limited. There are over forty cards in Alara Reborn that are affected by “protection from black” alone. That’s almost one-third of the set. Between Nacatl Outlander and Valeron Outlander, protection from black is much more valuable than protection from blue. Why? There are many more cards that help red/green hose Esper players that we can see later on such as Nacatl Savage, Deadshot Minotaur, Molten Frame, Vithian Renegades, et al. One of the ways that we’ll lose is if we don’t get a solid start compared to Evil (our opponent) as well as them dealing with our creatures via removal. Gleam of Resistance can’t be ignored and demands a bit of explanation as to why we aren’t going to pick it. Like I’ve said multiple times so far, aggro Naya’s ability to win matches hinges on its ability to play multiple fast creatures without having to spend an excessive amount of time fixing its mana and beat the opponent down before they can fix their mana and use their better spells to beat you. While Gleam of Resistance is a good card, a card that I’d always be happy with playing one in an aggro Naya deck, it’s more important to have quality two-drops. For that reason, taking an Outlander is more important.

My pick: Valeron Outlander

Pack 2 pick 6:

 

Beacon Behemoth won’t help us. We already have two Rhox Meditant, Thornling, and Obelisk of Alara. Taking additional spells that cost more than three mana is going to hinder the deck. Hating Zombie Outlander is also an option that we should pass on because there are still a few cards that we’ll play. Those cards are Lapse of Certainty and Ancient Ziggurat. Some of you may be asking yourself, “Why am I reading this garbage? Ancient Ziggurat?!?! Lapse of Certainty!?! Really?” Well folks, before you foolishly click “Back” on your browser, hear me out because I’m right on this one (like I usually am). First of all, when you make your deck, would you not play Excommunicate? Of course you’d play it; it’s a good spell that generates tempo on the board. Lapse of Certainty is very similar but hits any spell. The only condition required is that you need to be ahead on the board and have mana untapped to play it. Most people don’t look at Lapse of Certainty like this, and for that reason, it wheels much later than it should. Ancient Ziggurat is also very good in creature-heavy decks like the one we’re trying to draft. It fixes creature mana at no cost. As long as we’re not playing fewer than seventeen/eighteen creatures and our other spells aren’t more than three mana, we won’t be punished very often for playing with it. While Ancient Ziggurat and Lapse of Certainty are certainly able to wheel quite late, the mana-fixing is more important.

My pick: Ancient Ziggurat

Pack 2 pick 7:

 

Having a 2/2 Court Homunculus attacking on turn two every game would be nice, but that doesn’t happen very often except in an Esper deck (unless you draft four and green/white deck in a 3v3). Molten Frame is the only real option out of this pack. It will serve well as a sideboard card.

My pick: Molten Frame

Pack 2 pick 8:

 

This pick is close. Nacatl Savage fits the two-power bear role quite well, but it’s much more fragile than the rest of them. Aven Trailblazer is on the more expensive side when looked at in terms of power versus mana-cost. If we didn’t already have three two-drops already (Steward of Valeron, Rip-Clan Crasher, and Valeron Outlander), then the Nacatl Savage would be the better pick. However, since that isn’t the case, the evasiveness of Aven Trailblazer is going to serve us better than the lower cost of the Nacatl Savage.

My pick: Aven Trailblazer

Pack 2 pick 9:

 

Canyon Minotaur is another Incurable Ogre; it’s unimpressive, but fine to fall back on in situations where the opponent has a lot of board sweepers like Volcanic Fallout, Jund Charm, and/or Infest. Maniacal Rage is still not good. Creature enchantments are bad.

My pick: Canyon Minotaur

Pack 2 pick 10:

 

This is an awesome late pack. We get a choice between two Outlanders. Like I outlined earlier, Valeron Outlander is better than Nacatl Outlander; that is still the case even though we already have one Valeron Outlander. We won’t have as much trouble beating an Esper deck because of our sideboard cards (like Molten Frame) compared to the ten-removal-deck that Valeron Outlander will beat. Valeron Outlander also helps keep the mana of the deck more manageable by minimizing red.

My pick: [card]Valeron Outlander[/card]

Pack 2 pick 11:

 

In case our deck turns out to be terrible with its mana and we can’t get a land-cycling creature or Borderpost in pack three, playing Sylvan Bounty may be necessary despite it’s uselessness beyond mana-fixing. Hopefully that won’t be the case.

My pick: Sylvan Bounty

Pack 2 pick 12:

 

My pick: Scornful Aether-Lich

Pack 2 pick 13:

 

Like I said earlier, Ancient Ziggurat is a card that wheels far too late than it should. This is the perfect example of such. We will definitely play both of them.

My pick: Ancient Ziggurat

Pack 2 pick 14:

 

My pick: Jhessian Balmgiver

Pack 2 pick 15:

 

Island 

Pack 3 pick 1:

 

In terms of discussion, this pack is very unexciting. Crystallization is much better than Sangrite Backlash and Giant Ambush Beetle for a few reasons. 1) It neutralizes creatures without activated abilities regardless of their toughness. 2) It helps keep our deck mainly green/white. 3) It doesn’t cost a million mana like Giant Ambush Beetle.

My pick: Crystallization

Pack 3 pick 2:

 

Qasali Pridemage is awesome. It does almost everything. It’s a 3/3 attacker, blows up artifacts/enchantments, two mana, and helps other creatures attack more effectively. It’s better than Vithian Renegades. Marisi’s Twinclaws isn’t anything to get excited about. Our top-end is already full enough. This pick isn’t really close.

My pick: Qasali Pridemage

Pack 3 pick 3:

 

Leonin Armorguard is a good creature for this type of deck. It functions similarly to Gleam of Resistance but without the surprise factor. By itself, it’s not better than Marisi’s Twinclaws because of its weaker power/toughness and inability to complicate combat. Both cards fall into the four-mana category. Then, there is Stun Sniper. Stun Sniper functions both as removal for one-toughness men and complicating the opponent’s ability to block like Angelic Benediction. Stun Sniper is better than Leonin Armorguard and Marisi’s Twinclaws.

My pick: Stun Sniper

Pack 3 pick 4:

 

Deadshot Minotaur, Rhox Brute, Naya Hushblade, Firewild Borderpost, and Jund Sojourners round out our options, although the pick is really between Jund Sojourners and Naya Hushblade. We don’t want to take Firewild Borderpost because we already have four non-basic lands that we’re going to play (Jungle Shrine, Naya Panorama, and 2 Ancient Ziggurat). An argument could be made to not dismiss Rhox Brute so quickly because it is one of the best four-mana creatures available. However, with Thornling and Obelisk of Alara in the deck, it would be better to keep the two Rhox Meditant in the deck to help draw into whatever is required to cast those spells. Naya Hushblade is half the mana-cost of Rhox Brute and will only have one less power most of the time. The decision comes down to whether we want Jund Sojourners (Zap) versus Naya Hushblade. We already have Resounding Thunder, Excommunicate, Crystallization, and Stun Sniper to deal with creatures. Jund Sojourners’ effect isn’t very powerful. Three mana for one damage (and replacing itself) is a bit underpowered when compared to a 3/2 shroud creature for two mana.

My pick: Naya Hushblade

Pack 3 pick 5:

 

There’s nothing here for us except Cerodon Yearling, which is exactly the type of creature we want that costs two mana.

My pick: Cerodon Yearling

Pack 3 pick 6:

 

Here’s another Cerodon Yearling along with Leonin Armorguard and Gloryscale Viashino. Gloryscale Viashino is the best of the three cards. It attacks the hardest, having the potential to easily do six damage every turn. Cerodon Yearling is a fine card, but not quite on the same level. Leonin Armorguard is about the same as Cerodon Yearling; a fine card, but not as impressive as Gloryscale Viashino. If we didn’t already have eight two-drops, there would be more of a case to take the Cerodon Yearling. In the end, the pick would still be Gloryscale Viashino.

My pick: Gloryscale Viashino

Pack 3 pick 7:

 

We aren’t concerned with Trace of Abundance of Grizzled Leotau. Trace of Abundance isn’t the kind of mana-fixing that we’re interested in playing because it takes up a spell slot and doesn’t have any additional uses. Grizzled Leotau only has one power which is also not what the deck wants out of a two-mana spell. Rhox Brute is a fine four-drop and will probably finish up our group of high-end creatures.

My pick: Rhox Brute

Pack 3 pick 8:

 

We aren’t going to play any of the cards here. Considering it’s pack three, and therefore sending signals is irrelevant, we’d be better off taking one of the cards that could potentially cause problems for us.

My pick: Arsenal Thresher

Pack 3 pick 9:

 

Violent Outburst is a fine card in this type of deck and works especially well with the haste creatures that we can cascade into (Cerodon Yearling/Rip-Clan Crasher).

My pick: Violent Outburst

Pack 3 pick 10:

 

I was really hoping to wheel Jund Hackblade or Vithian Renegades out of this pack (chuckles) because of the concentration of Naya/Jund cards (see pick 2). We could in theory cast Putrid Leech with the aid of Ancient Ziggurat (and potentially Sylvan Bounty plus a Swamp which is awful for consistency reasons), but that doesn’t seem like a realistic scenario. Regardless, Putrid Leech is going to cause us the most problems if our opponents cast it.

My pick: Putrid Leech

Pack 3 pick 11:

 

A second Violent Outburst is the only playable in this pack. There aren’t any cards that are threatening for us either.

My pick: Violent Outburst

Pack 3 pick 12:

 

Deadshot Minotaur is a good card to have in the sideboard for when we get paired against an Esper deck.

My pick: Deadshot Minotaur

Pack 3 pick 13:

 

 

My pick: Brainbite

Pack 3 pick 14:

 

My pick: Godtracker of Jund

Pack 3 pick 15:

Vectis Dominator

Deck:

One of the reasons why I chose to write about this draft is because of the manabase and its underlying complexities. While the manabase may not initially seem very complicated, you must realize a few points: 1) There are actually two manabases: one for creatures and one for non-creatures. 2) Considering the first point, a balance must be created for the mana with the spells and creatures relative to which spells those are and when we’ll most likely be casting them (even though Ancient Ziggurat counts as a source of red mana for creatures, we can’t count it towards being able to cast Resounding Thunder or Violent Outburst).

There are fifteen cards that are white. Nine of those cards are going to be played on turn three or afterwards (2 Rhox Meditant, Aven Trailblazer, Woolly Thoctar, Gloryscale Viashino, Cerodon Yearling, Stun Sniper, Excommunicate, and Crystallization). Two of the late-game white cards are not creatures. There are fourteen cards that are green. Eight of those cards are going to be played on turn three or afterwards (Court Archers, Thornling, Rip-Clan Crasher, Rhox Brute, Woolly Thoctar, Gloryscale Viashino, Crystallization, and 2 Violent Outburst). Three of the late-game green cards are not creatures. There are ten cards that are red. Nine of those cards are going to be played on turn three or afterwards (Rip-Clan Crasher, Rhox Brute, Woolly Thoctar, Gloryscale Viashino, Cerodon Yearling, Stun Sniper, 2 Violent Outburst, and Resounding Thunder). Three of the late-game red cards are not creatures.

We are going to run seventeen lands which means that there will be thirteen basic lands plus Jungle Shrine, Naya Panorama, and the two Ancient Ziggurat. Most the red spells can be played after the non-red because a higher percentage of red spells are late game spells than when compared to those of green and white. If we run five Forest, five Plains, and three Mountain, we’ll have that number plus two sources to cast our non-creature spells and that original number plus four to cast our creatures. Wasn’t that simple to figure out?

Round 1:

Game 1: Not even the most fearsome of all Evils can scare us away. Toting a massive deck of eighty cards, Evil decides to mulligan to five on the play. Our hand isn’t exactly the stoneblade, but it will do fine against five cards (Rhox Meditant, Valeron Outlander, Gloryscale Viashino, Obelisk of Alara, Forest, Mountain, and Ancient Ziggurat). We draw Woolly Thoctar on turn one, an apparent sign of a quick show (at least for this game).

Evil isn’t doing much of anything because he probably didn’t submit his deck on time (yes, he got 10 minutes to do so like the rest of us). Evil is actually putting up a fight with Forest, Plains, Swamp, Obelisk of Bant, and Bant Sojourners on turn four which gives him much time against our Woolly Thoctar. Bant Sojourners immediately blocks, turning into the most expensive Tukatongue Thallid ever. Dragon Fodder, Mind Funeral, Branching Bolt, and cycling Savage Hunger round out the rest of Evil’s plays as we bash his face in without casting any of the other five spells left in our hand (Yes, we still had all these!). At the end of the game Evil mentioned that this was his first draft, he didn’t know how to submit his deck, and that all of his cards were put into his deck along with the appropriate lands. At least now he won’t make that mistake again.

Game 2: Back from sideboarding, Evil shows us his slim new physique; a forty-card deck you say? The people in the finale of Biggest Loser ain’t got nothing on this guy. He lost half his deck-weight in three minutes!!! At least now we’ll be able to have a real game. Our hand is suited well for one (Qasali Pridemage, Obelisk of Alara, Forest, Plains, Naya Hushblade, Steward of Valeron, and Court Archers). The first play of the game is our Steward of Valeron on turn two. Evil is apparently a fan of cycling [card]Jungle Weaver[/card] on turn two, but manages a Hissing Iguanar on the following turn. Evil doesn’t want to trade his Iguanar with our Steward for some reason which soon becomes apparent. We make a 3/2 Naya Hushblade and pass the turn waiting without fear for what Evil has in store for us. Missing his land drop, Evil begins to build his own battleship (thx Gerry) by giving his Iguanar some Lightning Talons and hitting us for six, to fourteen. At least that makes the Violent Outburst, that we drew instead of a land much more of a beating than we’d originally thought. We Excommunicate Evil’s unfaithful Hissing Iguanar back to the top of his deck. Court Archers and Qasali Pridemage make our Naya Hushblade into a monster. Evil opts to trade it for his Hissing Iguanar and newfound friend Elvish Visionary. The trade is fine. We replace Naya Hushblade with [card]Obelisk of Alara[/card] against Evil’s empty board. The game is over next turn.

Round 2:

Game 1: We win the roll and keep a semi-bad hand (Violent Outburst, 2 Forest, 2 Plains, Gloryscale Viashino, and Akrasan Squire). Evil mulligans to six but plays Arcane Sanctum on turn one. We are jealous. Not to be outdone, we play Qasali Pridemage on turn two (had it!) and beat in for three with the Akrasan Squire. Evil appears to be playing five-color and is unfortunately well prepared to defend himself this match. Terminate dispatches our Qasali Pridemage, but we replace him on turn four with our Gloryscale Viashino thanks to the Mountain that we drew on turn three. Obelisk of Alara waits patiently in our hand for some more mana. In fear, Evil plays Sanctum Gargoyle with an empty graveyard and sucks the Gloryscale Viashino into an Oblivion Ring on the following turn after taking a hit from it. We are not worried as we make Obelisk of Alara on turn six. Trying to delay the inevitable, Evil sends the dooming Obelisk back to our hand with Deny Reality while cascading into Exploding Borders which hits us for three. At this point, it becomes clear that Evil doesn’t have a solution to the Obelisk as his Sanctum Gargoyle begins administering the beatdown. We are happy to race. Marisi’s Twinclaws joins his team, but it matters not. We sneak through with our Akrasan Squire one last time for a crucial three damage thanks to [card]Violent Outburst[/card] and back up our board with a cascaded Cerodon Yearling and Aven Trailblazer. Not even [card]Covenant of Minds[/card] can think of a plan that trumps Obelisk of Alara as it ends Evil’s life during our next upkeep.

Game 2: Our hand is pretty good (Crystallization, Qasali Pridemage, Woolly Thoctar, Jungle Shrine, Plains, and two Ancient Ziggurat). We make a Steward of Valeron on turn two as Evil fixes his mana with Plains, Jund Panorama (getting Forest), and Trace of Abundance. Using the Qasali Pridemage to destroy his Trace of Abundance is tempting, but we hold back because we know he has Oblivion Ring and is not necessarily relying too heavily on the aura. We are not trigger-happy. We are a cool customer. We throw out a Rhox Brute on turn three as bait to see what happens. Evil had a cunning plan ready for the unaware rhino as it is ambushed by a beetle; yes, a Giant Ambush Beetle. We give Evil the beats, playing Qasali Pridemage and Woolly Thoctar. Terminate ends the Thoctar’s brief existence while a 3/3 Matca Rioters joins Evil’s team. We are unimpressed. Crystallization clears a path for our Steward of Valeron and Qasali Pridemage. Valeron Outlander joins our team. Evil stops our onslaught with an [card]Intimidation Bolt[/card] during our next upkeep while we make a [card]Stun Sniper[/card]. The Vithian Renegades in Evil’s hand is finally coaxed into play. Even though we have Obelisk of Alara in our hand, we will not be able to play it before slaying Evil due to our lands (Plains, Jungle Shrine, 2 Ancient Ziggurat. Yes folks, we only draw spells). Stun Sniper paralyzes Evil’s Renegades for two turns as we vanquish him.

Round 3:

Game 1: We lose the die roll (we’re a good sport and try to make the match fair somehow) and keep an okay hand that needs green mana (Mountain, Plains, Violent Outburst, Rhox Meditant, Excommunicate, Cerodon Yearling, and Valeron Outlander). Evil certainly is going to be in trouble once we draw green mana. Our first draw is Woolly Thoctar, followed by Crystallization. Come on topdeck! We still have no land for turn three, although Akrasan Squire at least helps develop our board a little bit. Evil has shed his five-color coat to reveal his true Grixis colors along with making Kathari Bomber and Scavenger Drake. We still don’t have a third land on turn four. Aven Trailblazer looks back at us uselessly. Evil seems to want to not take damage as he pushes one of his Kathari Bomber goblin tokens in front of our 3/3 Cerodon Yearling which grows his Scavenger Drake to a 3/3. We smell a trap, a devious trick, as Evil passes the turn with five mana up and Kathari Bomber still in his graveyard. In comes the Cerodon Yearling which eats Evil’s last goblin token. At last we have drawn a land (Plains) and decide to Time Ebb Evil’s Scavenger Drake via Excommunicate without opposition. Evil replies back with an Infest (jeez, the ridiculous read). Our freshly summoned Aven Trailblazer is eaten alive by Wretched Banquet while Evil’s Kathari Bomber makes two more goblins from the graveyard. We draw an Ancient Ziggurat. Hallelujah! Enter Woolly Thoctar. The tide has been unleashed. The best that Evil can do is reply back with his Scavenger Drake and Dregscape Zombie. We decide to not race against his two-card hand because we have six live ones in our guns (2 Rhox Meditant, Valeron Outlander, Crystallization, Thornling, and Violent Outburst). Grixis Grimblade joins Evil’s side as his Scavenger Drake begins pecking away at our life total. We start sending in both of our Rhox Meditant and put Crystallization onto his Scavenger Drake. Evil is in a bad position now. Telemin Performance steals a Stun Sniper from the top of our deck. The traitorous Sniper isn’t enough to stop Good though. We make a Rip-Clan Crasher and deal him exactsies via Violent Outburst while holding Thornling and Obelisk of Alara (still had all these!).

Game 2: We both keep our hands (Steward of Valeron, Ancient Ziggurat, 2 Forest, Crystallization, Violent Outburst, and Thornling) and Evil opts to play first again. We manage to make the first play of the game with Steward of Valeron on turn two after drawing Mountain and Excommunicate. Evil is being quiet so far with only mountaincycling his Igneous Pouncer. Our Steward decides to go to a [card]Wretched Banquet[/card], never to return. The Dregscape Zombie that was waiting for him comes into play as well. We have no plays on turn three as Evil makes a Veinfire Borderpost along with Kathari Bomber. We try to ambush Evil’s Dregscape Zombie during his attack phase on turn five with a Violent Outburst. Unfortunately, we don’t cascade into one of our two [card]Valeron Outlanders[/card]. Stun Sniper comes into play instead. We don’t really want to block his Dregscape Zombie with it so we get hit down to fourteen. A post-combat Drag Down sinks our hope of eviscerating Evil’s team with the Stun Sniper. Like the chorus of a dirge, we go through the sequence of playing a guy and Evil killing it. Court Archers dies to Sangrite Backlash. We had been hoping to draw a sixth land to safely play Thornling, but we haven’t drawn it. At this point we have no choice but to run out the mythic rare unprotected. As if to punctuate his victory, Evil adds, “From the top!” as he plays Bituminous Blast into Blightning sending the match to game three for all the marbles.

Game 3: In response to Evil’s snide childish remark, our deck decides to deliver a weapon to aid us: a stoneblade hand (Jungle Shrine, Ancient Ziggurat, Mountain, Valeron Outlander, Woolly Thoctar, Aven Trailblazer, and Violent Outburst). Evil searches for a similar hand but has to mulligan to six cards to find it. Valeron Outlander leaps into play on turn two, preventing any shenanigans involving removal plus Wretched Banquet which would deal with our turn-three Woolly Thoctar. Our hand has blanked most of Evil’s removal and we’ve drawn Resounding Thunder plus Obelisk of Alara. The first target for Evil to kill is our turn four Aven Trailblazer when he’s at eleven life. The Aven immediately falls into the graveyard thanks to Drag Down. Infest deals with the Valeron Outlander. There’s a Violent Outburst which cascades into Steward of Valeron while Woolly Thoctar hits Evil down to five life. [card]Bituminous Blast[/card] deals with the Woolly Thoctar and also summons a Kathari Bomber, but it matters not. We’ve drawn the sixth mana to make Obelisk of Alara. Wretched Banquet dispatches the Steward of Valeron, but it’s too late. He served his purpose. He put Obelisk of Alara into play. We dome Evil for three during our upkeep and finish him off with Resounding Thunder. Thanks for playing.

Happy Drafting.

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