I wrote last week about assembling a Merieke deck. Here follows the story of how she played out in Week 7 in Armada Games’ EDH League. With two weeks to go, I’m hanging onto a tenuous lead over fellow Team Lives in the Red Zone members Ben and Brennan, with Todd “Vacations in the Red Zone” Palmer also deep in the mix.
It’s another great turnout at Armada, with 19 players. They decide to go with 4 tables of 4 and 1 of 3, which I slightly object to. Three 5s and a 4 seem preferable; that way, the cut to table 1 is easy, and 3 player matches are more easily dominated by a single player. That actually plays out when Todd is seated at the three player table with two very new-to-Magic and EDH players, and has the opportunity to run up the score on them rather easily. No fault to Todd–he maximized his opportunity, but it will hopefully make my argument for future seatings.
I’m seated with Alexander, also a very new player, playing Oros, Brennan, who has changed from Vorosh to Karrthus, and Jake with the very interesting Atogatog.
Through two turns, I play a Signet and Jake a Birds. Turn 3, I suspend Chronomantic Escape, Jake casts both Mothdust Changeling and Quirion Druid (which will stay around way longer than I expect) and Brennan casts Kodama’s Reach.
Alex: Serra Avenger
Jake: Mistform Ultimus, and attack Brennan (37). It becomes clear early that Brennan’s new choice of a very aggressive General plus his reputation as one of the best players at the shop make him a target.
Alex: Entropic Eidolon, attack Brennan with the Avenger (34)
Me: Deathbringer Liege. This is a great early guy to get, especially if I can keep him around a while.
Brennan: His Goblin token attacks me, then he drops Solemn Simulacrum and Tarmogoyf. After he attacks me, we realize that we missed the fact that Jake’s Changelings are both Goblins and therefore are required to attack.
Alex: Nagao, Bound by Honor. Attacks Brennan with Avenger (31).
Me: Escape goes off. I get no land. I play Loxodon Gatekeeper, which I’m hoping will pay some dividends in slowing down the assault that is going to come from Brennan. When I choose a creature to tap with the Liege’s triggered ability, I think about the biggest long-term value. Tapping one of the guys to my left isn’t going to do much since he’s just going to untap next anyway. I steer away from drawing any kind of ire from Brennan, and tap Nagao, maximizing the amount of time that the guy I tap will stay tapped.
Jake: Arcane Sanctum, attack Brennan, who blocks Ultimus with Jens and Changeling with ‘goyf.
Brennan: Yavimaya Elder, attack Alex with Goblin, which he blocks and kills with Eidolon.
Me: Blinding Angel and tap again the Bushido guy.
Jake: Atogatog. Ultimus attacks Alex (37).
Alex: Attacks Brennan with the team. He blocks Syphon-Mage with Elder, and Tarmogoyf blocks Nagao. Alex Ninjitsus in Ink-Eyes, which Brennan kills with Bit Blast (earning him “I’m Cool Too”). The Bit Blast Cascades into Krosan Grip, which smokes Jake’s Obelisk (a seeming waste of a good Grip, but it was only reasonable target).
Me: Reliquary Tower off the peel, then attack Brennan with Blinding Angel (28) and Alex with Gatekeeper (34). I play Liliana, killing Atogatog (since it came into play tapped with Gatekeeper), and then make Brennan discard. I know that Brennan really loves drawing cards (like all good Magic players), and the lower I can keep him, especially with [card]Scroll Rack[/card] in play, the better.
Jake: Compulsive Research. Bloodbraid Elf into Naturalize, waxing the Scroll Rack. Suspends [card]Restore Balance[/card], which seems like a cool and interesting play, although it don’t see anything on his board at the moment which will allow him to take significant advantage of it. Attacks Alex with Ultimus (31).
Alex: Luminous Angel.
Me: Escape goes off again. This card will save my bacon, I’m sure. Jake discards from Vess. I play Azorius Guildmage and Demonic Tutor, killing [card]Luminous Angel[/card]. I fetch and play Aura of Silence. I attack Jake with the Wurm (33), and regrow the Tutor. Seems like the Wurm will be full of win if they don’t do anything about it.
Brennan: Karrthus, which steals Ultimus. Attacks Alex for 5 (22), but keeps back Karrthus.
Alex: Replays Entropic Eidolon. Plays 7th basic land and gets a point for “Getting to Basics.”
Me: Attack Brennan with Blinding Angel (27), Alex with Wurm (16). Tutor for Thousand-Year Elixir and play it. Realize that I should have Tutored first, so that I could regrow it. Remind myself to think before attacking. As I’m looking through the deck, I realize that while I have quite a few cards with synergy, I’ve sacrificed some of the bombs. Even with Demonic Tutor, and I don’t really have anything that will get me out of an otherwise-impossible board situation. Cards like Akroma’s Vengeance flash through my head, or “instant win” cards like [card]Desolation Angel[/card] or even Armageddon, and I realize that I’m particularly happy with the way things are in the deck, although there might be individual card choices that I might change–though they would be more variations on a theme than overhauls. I don’t actually want to put in any “I win now” cards. As I said last week, this is a deck that I want to play, to be able to wring the most out of, instead of just letting the cards do all the work.
Brennan: Land, go, laments the small number of cards in his hand, but then at least realizes it’s his 7th basic land, so he gets the point.
Alex: Vampiric Link on Eidolon.
Jake: Serum Visions.
Alex: Land, go
Me: Escape goes off. I tap Alex’s Eidolon. I can kill Alex, who is at 9, so I swing at him for 10. I don’t he realizes the favor he does me when he sacrifices Eidolon to drain Jake for 1 (22), since it puts him at 10, still killing him, but now giving me the extra point for “Just Enough.”
Brennan: Explosive Vegetation. Attacks Jake with the team (since he can’t attack me), but loses 3 guys in the exchange (19).
Me: I Sleep Jake. He counters it with Punish Ignorance (which is why he didn’t play Cairn Wanderer), giving me probably the latest-ever (turn 13) point in a game for “That Was Rude.” I go to 29, Jake to 22. So much for my plans to kill him. I tap Karrthus and swing with the Angel at Brennan (25).
Jake: When Jake plays Psychatog, and I know that Restore Balance will go off on his next turn, I realize that no one has played any board sweepers this game. I suspect that Brennan is playing Lavalanche, and I know I have a few, but this game has shaped up into something unusual in that creatures have stayed around a long time. Jake attacks Brennan with the Sentinel, who gets blocked by Brawn.
Brennan: Graveshell Scarab.
Me: I tap Karrthus and attack Brennan with the Angel (23) and Suspend Phthisis.
Jake: Restore Balance goes off, and we go down to 0 cards in hand and 5 lands, but keep 4 creatures. He casts Cairn Wanderer and taps his Birds to play a Borderpost. That’s actually a slight opening for me, since I don’t have to spend any mana to tap his only flying blocker should I want to attack him. He Cloaks up the Dryad and declares his attack. I destroy the Cloak with Aura, then steal Tarmogoyf and to block and kill it.
Me: Escape goes off again. I Tutor for Minamo, play it, untap Merieke, steal Karrthus, and attack Brennan with it and Jake with the Angel. Hopefully with that, I can keep Jake from doing too much damage to Brennan and get the kill (with the General!) myself. Since we’re all topdecking now, I seem to have a decent board position.
Jake: Land, go.
Brennan: Peels Wickerbough Elder and removes the counter to blow up my Elixir.
Me: AEther Spellbomb. Could come in handy to save me. I tap Jake’s Birds, and swing at him with the Angel (no Dr. Teeth to my face, thank you) and Brennan with Karrthus.
Jake: Land, go. Back-to-back land draws when he needs action cards sucks.
Brennan: Swings at me with team (26). I can tell by the look on his face he knows he’s done.
Me: Kill Brennan with his own Karrthus. That should be extra points for the awesome. Attack Jake with the Angel 18). Unless he can peel something, I feel pretty good, especially hiding behind the Angel and the Escape.
Jake: Nothing. EOT, I Minamo Merieke and steal Psychatog.
Me: Phthisis goes off, and I target the Dryad. Jake says “OK, take 11,” and Brennan, who has still hung around, suggests he reread the card. I tell him if he wants he can back up and counter it, but he doesn’t have one. It deals 22 to him, for the win.
I take the table with 9 points, Brennan with 3, Alex with 2, and Jake, who controlled a bit of the tempo of the game, got 0.
I’m seated with Todd, who picked up 19 points with Rith, Ben, with Progenitus and his “Planeswalker Control” deck, TJ with Borborygmos, and Tom, who is new to the shop, with Thraximundar. TJ wins the roll.
The first turn is all land. Turn 2, TJ plays Rampant Growth, Ben cracks a fetchland (39) and plays Mindstone, I play and crack Esper Panorama and suspend Lotus Bloom and Tom and Todd simply drop lands.
TJ: Wild Nacatl
Tom: Dimir Cutpurse
Ben: Coalition Relic
Todd: Yavimaya Elder
TJ: Attack Ben (37)
Tom: Attacks Ben with the Cutpurse. Ben discards Void.
Ben: Chandra, and kills the Cutpurse. Tom gets the First Blood point I had hoped for.
Me: Terrarion and Merieke.
Todd: Obelisk of Naya, attack Chandra for 2.
Tom: Shadowmage Infiltrator.
Ben: Maze of Ith. Pings Todd for 1, then drops Liliana and makes Todd discard.
Me: Sac Terrarion to play Nekretaal, killing Nacatl, getting “I’m Cool Too.”
Todd: Runs out Rith. Seems like we’re ramping up early.
TJ: Elvish Piper and drops 7th basic land for the point.
Tom: Attacks TJ with Finkel.
Ben: Todd gets both Liliana and Chandra (38). At EOT, I steal Finkel, and Tom gets “Hey, That’s Mine.”
Me: Lotus goes off, and I play Boseiju and attack Tom (39).
Todd: Attacks Liliana, but gets Mazed. Drops Symbiotic Wurm, and we know it’s really on.
Ben: Casts the Wrath. In response, I untap Merieke and steal Symbiotic Wurm. Ben then Tutors with Vess.
Me: I swing with all the tokens to kill Vess and drop Mindless Automoton.
Todd: Recasts Rith. Announces his intention to cast it four times.
Tom: Nothing. I wonder if he has a handful of stuff that’s too expensive, which seems unlikely, since he has 7 mana, or perhaps counters and other reactive stuff.
Me: Elspeth, make a dude.
Todd: Sword of Light and Shadow, equips Rith. Attacks Tom (31).
TJ: Attack Tom with Borborgymos (25). I guess that’s what you get for just sitting around.
Ben: Regrows Maelstrom Nexus and plays it.
TJ: Craw Wurm. It’s 1996 all over again!
Tom: Discards, and we all frown for him.
Ben: Reflecting Pool, then Restock, targeting Wrath and Vess. Casts Vess and makes Todd discard. At EOT, I unmorph the Crab to trade a token to steal Borborygmos. Seems like getting counters on all my guys would be cool.
Me: I attack with the fat guy, but TJ ruins my plan by fogging. I make another Elspeth dude, and sac the Automaton to dig up something–this game is ramping up fast–but get a Swamp.
Todd: Equips Sword to a token, attacks Tom with 3 guys (15) and Ben to kill Vess. Gets back Symbiotic Wurm and casts it.
TJ: Troll Ascetic.
Me: Phthsis goes off, killing the only creature in play, Todd’s Predatory Advantage token (40). Ben fist pumps and gives Todd the finger. I cast Blinding Angel and Azorius Guildmage. Put 8th counter on Elspeth.
Todd: Mirari’s Wake and Symbiotic Wurm.
TJ: Raging Goblin seems kind of tiny on this board.
Tom: Makes most awesome play in League history by stealing my Elspeth with Word of Seizing. Obviously activates the ability.
Me: Cemetery Puca. Attack Todd with Blinding Angel, which Ben surprises everyone by Mazing! I counter the ability with Guildmage. After targeting Todd with stuff all game, Ben is obviously trying to make friends with the guy he knows can Overrun for a great deal in short order.
Todd (courtesy of Ben): Path to Exile on his own Wurm (at least those shenanigans are done) and fails to find a land. Vengeful Rebirth on Yavimaya Elder, targeting my Guildmage. I pay 1 and Puca is the Guildmage. He sacs the Elder and fails to find land, then draws.
TJ: Recasts [card]Borborygmos[/card]. EOT Tom casts [card]Makeshift Mannequin[/card] on his previously-discarded [card]Blood Tyrant[/card].
Tom: We all lose 1 life. He then gets a big roar out of playing [card]Platinum Angel[/card], since all his stuff is indestructible from my Elspeth.
Ben: All Sun’s Dawn, Cascading into Kodama’s Reach. He gets Vess, Wrath, Chandra, Nature’s Spiral, and [card]Mystical Tutor[/card]. Drops Chandra and kills [card]Blood Tyrant[/card] with it.
Me: Merieke. My board and hand aren’t looking all that great. Guess I’ll go for at least the point for playing my General 4 times.
Todd: Drops a land, getting “Getting to Basics,” and attacks Ben with the Sword-equipped token (40). Regrows Elder. Equips Rith and casts the Elder.
Me: Boseiju mana for Bribery (37) targeting Tom. While I know that Todd has some fatties (like Godsire) still in his deck, they don’t serve up much utility. I suspect that Tom has Keiga, and he indeed does.
Todd: Recasts Rith for a 4th time, as promised. Drops [card]Lurking Predators[/card]. Equips Rith. Drops Rhys. It’s tokens everywhere for Todd! I then realize that Puca is dead and bin it.
TJ: Attacks Tom with Raging Goblin and Bobo and I frown a little. I have Magister Sphinx in hand, so I’m hoping that someone will eventually take Tom below 0, so that I can reset his life total to 10, thereby getting a point for having another player gain 10 or more life. Tom blocks with Merieke and Angel (8).
Tom: Thraximundar, to which Todd responds by Wastelanding Ben’s Maze of Ith. Ben is forced to sacrifice Progenitus (seems good for all of us) and goes to 19. Tom then plays Crawlspace. Again, interesting cards.
Ben: Liliana into Nature’s Spiral, getting Mindslaver and Slavers Tom, announcing that he can probably take care of [card]Platinum Angel[/card].
Me: I attack Todd with Keiga and Tom with Blinding Angel. Before blockers, I steal Rith. Todd goes to 34.
Todd: Kamahl, Fist of Krosa. Much discussion around the table starts, mostly people begging for their lives. I suspect that Todd might take out Ben since there’s been a good deal of back-and-forth between them, but I also know that especially with his good performance in game 1, Todd has shot up the League standings–so he has a great deal of incentive to kill me. His guys are all 12/12, and he indeed attacks me with 4 of them and TJ with 3. I first untap Keiga so I can block (for all the good it’ll do me), and then play the Angel’s Grace that’s been in my hand since turn 1. I now think about playing that Sphinx on myself to get out of danger territory. I take the Platinum Angel off of Tom with Keiga’s ability. I’m alive still!
TJ: Attacks Vess with both his guys.
Ben: Pays 12 for Progenitus into Jace, and we all draw. Pings TJ with Chandra (8). As he passes the turn, there are more chats about who to kill. He could have taken me out right there, but chose not to.
Me: I untap Merieke with Minamo and steal Todd’s Eternal Dragon (his only flier) and attack him with the Angel. Hopefully I can stay around without worrying about him overrunning me. Additionally, keeping him from attacking me keeps him from getting the points. If TJ kills me, so much the better, since it steals the points from two of my three competitors at the top of the standings. Hoping for a prayer of some kind, I Copy Enchantment on [card]Lurking Predators[/card].
Todd: Kicked Thicket Elemental. I get squat from Predators. He Channels Arashi (good card choice) for 4, killing the Angel. He recasts Rith again and I get”¦land.
TJ: In what will apparently go down in Armada Games lore, TJ kills me by peeling”¦Sparkmage Apprentice. A few days later, when I go to the shop for the Tampa Judge Conference, there’s a Sparkmage Apprentice waiting for me, with silver lettering that says “I Kill L5s” scrawled across it. When I see TJ, I give it to him, which seems like the only thing to do. Despite Lurking Predators, there’s nothing that will save me, so I die. TJ swings at Todd with the team. Todd blocks with 11 guys.
Ben: Rips Academy Ruins from the Jace draw. Puts Slaver on top. He gets shouted at for playing the recurring Slaver. He [card]Intuition[/card]s, targeting TJ, for Wrath/Damnation/Mindslaver. TJ gives him Damnation. He then kills TJ with Progenitus and casts the Damnation.
Ben and Todd tie at 5, Tom and TJ with 3, and me bringing up the rear with only 1 point. The good news is that Brennan has won his table, so our 3-way prize split puts us all in the positive for the night (by like a dollar-fifty!!!).
The bad news is that Brennan has also crept up the standings. Going into the final week of the league, which counts your six best weeks of the eight, I’m at 71, Todd’s at 67, Brennan is at 60, and Ben is at 54. The League is paying top 4 places (40/30/20/10% of the remaining prize pool, which will be just over $100), so unless Keith, who’s in 5th place at 42 has a great week, we’ll sort out the top 4 in some fashion. Ben, who is a math professor, can’t play this week due to class starting back up, so he’s static. Brennan and I have both missed a few weeks, so our scores will count no matter what. Todd will have played 7 of 8, which means he can throw out his worst score, but it also means he’s effectively minus those points for the coming week.
I know Brennan will go back to playing Vorosh. He was very sad at not drawing so many cards. I’m not quite sure what I’ll play yet–but it will most likely be Kresh, who has brought me this far. If I do, or any other black/red deck, Spiteful Visions (or maybe just Underworld Dreams) will likely replace the locally-banned Vicious Shadows. That’s for one for Brennan, but two I know that I might also face shop-owner Michael’s insane Hive Mind deck, which likes to make copies of stuff like Windfall, Wheel of Fortune, and Warp World.
I’ll bring you the exciting conclusion to Armada Games’ EDH League the next time on “We Play Too.”