One of the original ideas behind “We Play Too” was to demonstrate the flaw in the common perception that judges are bad players. Unfortunately, for a brief instant later in this report, the flaw will be in my play. But there’s lots of ground to cover before we get there.
This week, we’re back to EDH League from Sunday at Anthem Games in Tampa. After some great success with Thraximundar and Kresh in previous episodes, I figured I’d go back to the Darigaaz, who is, of course, a classic. I actually made a plan to activate his ability as often as possible, just for style points, but other in-game situations prevented this all but once.
The turnout is a little smaller than usual, but we still have two full tables, including five at this one.
I’m seated with Dale, he of the wondering why he always got ganged up on when he played Rhys, the Redeemed, now playing Thraximundar (another reason for me switching); Alex, playing Team America, led by Numot; AJ, playing Gaddock Teeg, and Nick, playing Rofellos. I ask Nick if he has some Rofellos combo, and he confesses that he doesn’t even have Staff of Domination. I still intend to keep an eye on him.
We shuffle up, and Dale wins the roll. We agree to take the “Gis” mulligan, named after Judge Emeritus Gijsbert Hoogendijk. With the Gis mulligan, if you don’t have a playable hand, you set the seven aside and draw the next seven, repeating if necessary, and then shuffling the set aside cards back in once you have a playable hand. This way, you can get a hand where you can actually play the game and not worry about people trying to mulligan into their combo, not to mention getting this going faster than reshuffling every time. There is some discussion on adopting this mulligan as official. I’ll keep you posted. Two players mulligan, but no one goes deeper than seven, so it’s pretty much business as usual.
Alex: Reliquary Tower
Nick: Forest, Rofellos. Seems like things are getting started already
Dale: Salt Marsh, attack me with Gatekeeper (39)
Me: Reliquary Tower, Wilderness Elemental, who is already a little beefy
Nick: Kodama’s Reach
Dale: Volrath’s Stronghold, Phyrexian Arena. At his EOT, Alex (strangely) cycles Akroma’s Vengeance (I guess he figured with Teeg in play he wouldn’t be able to use it, but I have to believe there’s enough Teeg hate, not to mention the Gatekeeper, to keep him in check).
Me: Attack Nick with the Elemental for 7 (33), play Ravenous Baloth
Nick: Oath of Druids. I sacrifice the Baloth before Dale’s turn (43) so there are no Oath problems.
Alex: Oath mills away 23 cards until he gets Darksteel Colossus. Highlights of the mill include Feldon’s Cane (doh!), Worldslayer (there’s his theme), Inferno, and Nevinyrral’s Disk. Later we find out why he wasn’t terribly unhappy with milling so much.
AJ: Oath turns up Thoughtweft Trio, so he Champions his General, then pays 4 to replay him, and drops a Forest.
Nick: His Oath brings up Ayumi, the Last Visitor. Nick makes mention of my Boseiju. I point to Volrath’s Stronghold, but he’s hearing none of it.
Dale: Arena to 38. Plays an Izzet Signet and then Glen Elendra Archmage (getting 4 tokens). The Archmage is something that I haven’t put in my own Thraximundar deck, but realize that I should. Good choice.
Alex: Chooses to not Oath, mentioning he’d like to not deck himself. He then plays Wheel of Fortune. I lose Spellbreaker Behemoth, Kaervek, Charnelhoard Wurm, Detritivore, and Flameblast Dragon. Alex then tromps on AJ with Darksteel Colossus (29).
Nick: Plays Top and Quagnoth, then attacks me as promised with Ayumi (31).
Dale: Arena to 37. Plays Thraximundar. Plays Innocent Blood. Of course, he sacrifices his Gatekeeper, so by the time it’s all said and done, the Zombie Assassin is 17/17. Dale swings at Nick (I guess he’s worried about Rofellos explosions as well), taking him to 8.
Alex: Oblivion Stone. Seems like a good rattlesnake to keep from getting savaged by an even bigger Thraximundar.
Me: Oath into Deus of Calamity and play a Forest. I also choose to play it safe for now.
Nick: No Oathing, but replays Rofellos
Dale: Plays Diabolic Edict, targeting AJ, who sacrifices Kavu Predator. He attacks Nick with tokens for the kill, and AJ with Thraximundar. AJ uses Gossamer Chains. Dale them suspends Ancestral Vision, and plays Vivid Marsh and Dimir Doppleganger. The guys in my yard just got worse.
Alex: Cascade Bluffs and a whole lotta nothing else.
AJ: Windbrisk Raptor. He attacks Alex with Teeg (38).
Me: Forest. Attack Dale with Wilderness Elemental and Deus. He Terminates the Elemental and block Deus with the Archmage, taking 4 trample (32). Guess he didn’t want to lose a land.
Dale: Arena to 31. He plays Demonic Tutor, and Alex responds by blowing the O-stone. Dale lets Thraximundar go to the graveyard (so we know something is up), and says “That will change what I Tutor for.” I don’t know what Alex is worried about at that point–but as I’m writing this, I’m chatting with him on Facebook, so I ask if he was concerned about Stifle or somesuch, which he confirms is exactly the case–so it seems like a reasonably safe play. Dale Tutors up Beacon of Unrest, and plays it targeting Thraximundar, then swings at me for 6 (25).
Alex: Alex’s play makes even more sense when he casts Magus of the Disk.
AJ: Kavu Primarch without Kicker. The Kicker gets me thinking about the viability of Kulrath Knight in decks with B/R. I resolve to put it in my own Thraximundar, and maybe combo it with Everlasting Torment. While this is going on in my head, he replays Gossamer Chains.
Dale: Plays an Entwined Grab the Reins on the Magus, and throws it at the Morph. Swings at Alex for 7 (30). At EOT, Alex plays Gifts Ungiven (I tell him not to get too attached to it–it’ll end up getting banned the following week) and gives me the choice of Time Spiral, Wrath, Catastrophe, and Jokulhaups. I let him keep the first two; the latter two seem like asking for trouble.
Me: Graveshell Scarab and Clamp him up.
Alex and AJ: Both nothing. Is this a 2-person game already?
Me: Creakwood Liege and Sarkhan Vol. Attack AJ with Graveshell, Dale with Creakwood. AJ takes the 3, and Dale blocks with the Specter. At EOT, he puts Dimir Doppleganger back on top his library with Volrath’s Stronghold.
Alex: Pays one life (20) to tap Grand Coliseum to play Glen Elendra. Pays 2 life (18) to tap Boseiju to he can Time Spiral. He plays Bribery on me, getting Anathemancer, knocking Dale to 6. HE then swings with Darksteel Brute and Hellkite to take out Dale. He plays Artifact Mutation on the Brute, netting himself some tokens. Artifact Mutation is already one of my favorite EDH cards in the color. Getting tokens with it and keeping your Indestructible guy also seems good.
AJ: Yavimaya Elder
Alex: Nevinyrral’s Disk followed by Volcanic Fallout, wiping the board. He redirects my damage to Sarkhan Vol. Grave Pact triggers, and Alex activates his Brute, with the intention of sacrificing it so he can keep his Hellkite. AJ lets the activation resolve, and then Deglamers the Brute, forcing Alex to sacrifice the Hellkite. Well played.
AJ: Pays 6 to play Gaddock Teeg
Me: Genesis. AJ responds by playing Krosan Grip on the Skullclamp (another fine choice of cards; Split Second is saucy). I play the Eternal Witness, getting back Anathemancer, playing it and taking Alex to 11. I activate Sarkhan Vol and swing with the team. AJ blocks, Alex goes to 8.
Me: Spinerock Knoll, pump up Vol.
Alex: Feldon’s Cane Attacks with the Elspeth token into Sarkhan.
AJ: Land, nothing.
Alex: Finally kills Sarkhan Vol.
AJ: Land, nothing again.
Alex: Elspeth to 8 counters.
AJ: Cycle Angelsong.
Me: Forest, Darigaaz. Attack AJ with Magus (14).
Alex: Pops Elspeth but does nothing else.
Me: Genesis back Anathemancer. Attack Alex with Darigaaz and AJ with Magus (12). Anathemancer then kills Alex.
AJ: Reborn Hope on Gaddock.
Me: It’s over. I swing with the team, and activate Darigaaz naming White for the win. He reveals his hand and I see green would have done the trick as well.
–Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory
Dale and Jeremy are tied for the right to go to table 1, since they both got a kill. They roll a die, and Dale wins, so he comes with me, and Jeremy (playing Grand Arbiter) and William (Azami) from the other table. I immediately look sideways at William, since I know that Azami will be all about drawing cards and countering stuff. Drawing cards is fine. Countering everything someone tries to do is downright rude. Will wins the roll, and since he’s to my left, that means I’ll go last.
Will: Island. Dale: Mountain, Signet. Jeremy: Plains. Me: German Revised (black bordered) Badlands
Will: Transmutes Dizzy Spell into Sensei’s Divining Top.
Dale: Volrath’s Stronghold, Darksteel Ingot.
Me: Karplusan Forest.
The first four turns have not been particularly interesting.
Jeremy: Island, Grand Arbiter. At least that might keep Top shenanigans to a minimum.
Dale: Forgotten Cave (tapped).
Me: I take a pain (39) to play Flameblast Dragon.
Dale: Slave of Bolas on Grand Arbiter. Swings back at Jeremy (38). Jeremy asks if he can die to 21 damage from his own General. We assure him that he can.
Me: Darigaaz. It’s time to ramp it up with the dragons.
Dale: Signet, Thraximundar. Jeremy, who seems to have it in for Dale, counters with Spell Syphon.
Jeremy: Land, go.
Me: Pain (38) for Liliana Vess. She will be my own downfall.
Will: Island. Take Possession on Liliana.
Dale: Cruel Ultimatum, targets Jeremy, sending him to 33, Dale to 41.
Me: I play a Kicked Thicket Elemental, and then with the trigger on the stack (his words, not mine), Jeremy plays Gather Specimens, getting my (creature unspecified by my notes) (Hmm, seems like responding might have been better – LSV). I Liliana Jeremy. I have Obliterate in my hand, and I’m going for the big prize.
Will: Bribery on me, getting Magus of the Moon!!!
Jeremy: Dawnray Archer and then Captivating Glance, targeting Thraximundar. At EOT, he decides to Clash with William, since he knows there is a Top on the top of his library. Unfortunately, he pulls up a land, and William gets the big guy.
Me: Pain (36). Vicious Shadows. Liliana on Dale.
Will: Top. Swing at me with Thraximundar (29). I have to sacrifice the Thicket Elemental. Vicious Shadows triggers, and William takes it.
Jeremy: Attacks Liliana for 2 with Dawnray Archer.
Me: Darigaaz and make Dale discard with Liliana.
Will: Honden of the blue.
Dale: Thraximundar. Evokes Mulldrifter, making Thrax 7/7. Attacks Jeremy, making him sacrifice the Archer. His guy is 8/8. Jeremy goes to 21.
Jeremy: Replays Grand Arbiter, which will prevent me from going through with my Obliterate plan.
Me: Attack William with Darigaaz (29).
Will: Magus of the Jar and Azami.
Dale: During his upkeep, puts Mulldrifter on top with Volrath’s Stronghold. Evokes Mulldrifter. His General is 9/9. I VShadows Will to 28. He attacks Jeremy (making him sacrifice Grand Arbiter), for the General Damage kill. He plays Sedraxis Specter.
Me: It’s time. I can’t let William go with what he has in play. I attack Dale with both guys. He blocks with the Specter, so the damage from Darigaaz and VShadows takes him to 24. I play Obliterate. Will Tops and Draws from Azami. He takes 12 VShadows damage and goes to 16.
Will: Draws his two cards, plays Island and Top. Seems like he’ll recover if I give him time, which I have no intention of doing.
Me: I put 8th counter on Liliana, having Will discard. He says “Leviathan,” and I think of the Shroudy goodness of the Inkwell.
Will: Draw, draw, Top.
Dale: Cascade Bluffs.
Me: Liliana’s ultimate. And here’s where it goes horribly wrong. It wasn’t Inkwell Leviathan, it was Kederekt. I frown. Will says he clearly said “Kederekt.” I dispute the point, but it was certainly my own responsibility to check the graveyards first. Instead of getting a game-ending pile of creatures, I end up with only Will’s Leviathan in play. It’s actually significant, because I had Nezumi Graverobber in hand. I could have just waited until I got three mana sources, and eaten the Leviathan.
The game actually goes another 13 turns from there, but the details aren’t particularly interesting, since it was all Dale. I get William to 1, but Dale kills him with Faerie Conclave. I spend most of the rest of the turns not getting any land, and watching Dale develop an immense army to roll me but good. Dale actually plays it conservatively and keeps me around two or three turns longer than he had to. When he gets the Woodfall Primus out of my graveyard to knock out my best mana source, I’m sunk.
Dale ends up sweeping the table, and he says it’s the first time he’s won in EDH League. Since he’s one of the better players at Anthem, it’s a surprise. He reiterates that he always gets killed fast when he plays Rhys, so this is his redemption. I ask him if he disassembled it, and he smiles enigmatically, which tells me we’ll see it again sometime.
Again, I’m relatively sure that Will didn’t add “Kederekt” to “Leviathan,” so it was a decent Jedi Mind Trick at worst. I’m pretty confident they would have allowed me take-backs, but I think you should own your mistakes, and I definitely owned this one. And it pwned me. I guess we all make them from time to time. This one, however, was completely avoidable.
Depending on how things go this week, I might have one last shot at rolling out the Bant Aggro deck before the rotation, and why I’m not a huge fan of Shorecrasher Mimic. If I do, you’ll hear about it on “We Play Too.”