We’ve been through Standard, we’ve been through Draft, so I figured we’d hit the Triple Crown and go with some EDH. I had to skip FNM due to having family in town, so EDH League at Anthem Games in Tampa was all I got to play this week.

EDH in a league is just like planning for a tournament in any other environment, perhaps even easier. You know the decks that are going to get played, and you prepare accordingly. In our league, we play two tables (or three if enough folks show up) of 4-5, cutting top 2 from each table to a “final” table, with everyone not going to the final table going to the consolation table. The prize structure provides for the winners of each of those tables, so you can get bumped from the “top” and still win at the “bottom.”

I think it’s actually easier to prepare for an EDH League because you have a stronger sense of what’s coming. You know the Generals that the players will be playing, and you know their styles. The term metagame, which constantly gets misused in Magic circles, definitely applies. Metagame is more than just the different decks people are playing. In addition to the decks, it’s the particular cards (you know, for example, every deck with Blue is going to play Gifts Ungiven), the way particular cards are played, and the general structure of games.

We have several cutthroat players in the League, so it would be naive to not consider the type of deck they’re likely to build–strong control with heavy counterspells. We also have a few combo players, but fortunately they’re more like “set up Oona/Painter’s Servant“ than “turbo into turn 3 Kiki-Jiki/Pestermite.” You have to pay attention to them, but no one has yet to build a turn 2 [card Braids, Cabal Minion]Braids[/card] lock deck. At least not yet.

I know I’m going to have to prepare for Jeremy, who was last seen running Sharuum, with about 10 counterspells and a few ways to end up with infinite turns, and Alex, playing Niv-Mizzet and more like a dozen counters and light creatures. Ken has previously played Progenitus (pretty good on its own when it comes into play) with the Fastbond/Strip Mine/Crucible of Worlds combo (adding Zuran Orb for enough life), and has the capability of making scads of tokens. Dale will either play the aforementioned Oona/Painter’s Servant and some milling combo or his Phelddagrif deck, also known as “Group Hug” for its propensity for doing nice things for everyone. There are other players in the League, but these are the players and decks that have so far caught my attention.

I prepare for all this with Darigaaz, which is based on making it difficult for the counterspell player (but not impossible, since counterspells are combo protection), punishing non-basics, and limiting artifacts, while pounding away with creature damage. My favorite card in the deck is Vicious Shadows, since once there are piles of creatures in play, there’s the unenviable choice of killing the creatures or taking piles of damage. There’s the list:

Darigaaz

Late replacements included Stomphowler for Dosan, the Falling Leaf, since I didn’t want to enable the combo player, and Spellbreaker Behemoth for (I don’t actually remember) since it’s just good.

Of course, when I get there, things have changed. The shop has last week instituted “achievements,” whereby players earn boosters for doing certain things over a period of three months (and the first person to achieve them all gets a box of product). Each player is given a sheet with their name on it, and when they finish the achievement, they get a store staff member to sign off on it. Achievements include things like playing in a month’s worth of FNMs, winning a match with a deck of each Shard, having 100 or more tokens in play or more than 100 life in a game, countering two spells on the same stack, bringing a new player in an teaching them Magic, and things like that. It’s a good idea to give players that don’t always win another shot at prizes.

Based on some of the “achievements” goals, Jeremy has built a Rofellos deck and Ken has switched to Rafiq. Ben has kept his Sharuum deck together and just replaced it with Sen Triplets as the General. Dale is playing his Group Hug Phelddagrif deck. The gang has also discussed the “no infinite combo” requirement, whereby they’ve made a gentleman’s agreement to avoid the obvious big loops. Jeremy confesses that he has Staff of Domination in his deck, but promises he’ll “only” use it to get to 100 life and/or 100 tokens so that he can check those boxes on his achievements sheet.

Since only five have shown up today, we have only one table. Instead of the normal first and second place prizes (which are in addition to the achievements), we agree to one winner (that’s the most kills) and one “sportsmanship” award.

Rofellos comes out on turn 2 as always, and Ben decides to Edict Jeremy in order to slow him down. Turn 3, Dale makes his Twin Towers play: Reliquary Tower and [card]Ivory Tower[/card]. True to his share-the-wealth-form, Dale sends his Veteran Explorer into Ken’s Knight of the Reliquary, and everyone is ramped up by two lands.

Jeremy plays Greater Good. Ben uses the extra two lands to play Future Sight. He already has Sensei’s Divining Top in play, which Ken decides is too much, so he plays Pact of Negation. The table appreciates the play. The table appreciates it more (well, in the “aw, crap!” way–though Dale’s Veteran Explorer has given everyone a few basic lands, so they’re not completely screwed) when, after some smirking, I drop Magus of the Moon–since Ken has only one Island in play. A big roar goes up from the table, but Ken wipes his brow in relief when he realizes that he can, with the Pact trigger on the stack, use his Knight to go get an Island, and pay for the Pact.

Things start to get hairy when Jeremy plays Primal Command to get Verdant Force (and gain 7 life). That 7 life will actually save him later. With the help he got from Dale and the two additional land, he has enough to play the Verdant Force AND Garruk Wildspeaker.

Ben doesn’t do much, I Skullclamp the Magus and play Genesis, Dale doesn’t do anything, and Ken then plays Bribery on Jeremy, figuring he has the fatties. He gets Darksteel Colossus.

By the time it gets back around to Jeremy, he has a fistful of tokens. He plays the Overrun ability of Garruk, and swings at Ben for 29, taking him to 6. He then plays Woodfall Primus, taking out my Skullclamp, and Collective Unconscious to draw a pile of cards. Clearly, the threat has emerged. Obviously, when I say emerged, I mean “came crashing like Burham Wood on High Dunsinane Hill.”

Ben, sensing that the game is over for him, decides that he might as well get it over with for everyone. He plays [card]Desolation Angel[/card] with Kicker. A cheer goes up for Dale when he has [card]Arcane Denial[/card] in his hand. On my turn, I play Grave-Shell Scarab (now really missing my Skullclamp). Dale plays nothing. Ken, on the other hand, plays and attaches Umezawa’s Jitte to the Colossus, then adds [card]Rancor[/card]. To make it even worse, he plays Rafiq. He swings at Dale with just the Colossus for 32.

How’d he do 32 with a 14/12 creature? Double Strike shenanigans, courtesy of Rafiq. The Colossus is 11/11 naturally, +2/0 for Rancor, +1/+1 for Exalted. During First Strike damage step, it deals 14, and triggers the Jitte, giving it two counters. He then activated Jitte’s ability to give it +2/+2 for the each counter, making it 18/16 for normal combat damage.

I don’t know why he didn’t just kill Ben and take the point, instead of opening up the path for two kills for Jeremy, but I suppose he had his reasons. I understand not attacking Jeremy, since the retribution would have been swift and furious. Perhaps he hoped that by weakening Dale as well, he would keep the Jeremy pressure off of himself.

Jeremy follows with Tooth and Nail for Kamahl, Fist of Krosa, and Patron of the Orochi. He attacks with 2 tokens at Ben, four at Dale, three at Ken, and Primus and Verdant Force at me. He plays Kamahl’s Overrun ability (sensing a theme?), killing Dale and Ben, dropping Ken to 29 and me to 23. This game looks like it’s over.

Until I Demonic Tutor for Insurrection. Obliterate is the obvious other choice, but that simply leaves me with and Jeremy with nothing and Dale with the Iron Giant. Seems like a loser. Had I had Gravepact in play, I would have definitely reset the board. Jeremy ends up sacrificing all his guys to Greater Good, going through most of his deck, leaving him with one card in hand.

I can’t kill either of them, but weakening Ken will only bring the favor back, killing me. I attack Jeremy for 26 with the Colossus, and then end my turn and give everything back to Ken. My plan works for the time being, as Ken swings back at Jeremy, leaving him at 3 (thanks to the aforementioned 7 life from Primal Command).

The one card Jeremy has kept is Staff of Domination. He taps Rofellos for 9, and plays the Staff, which Ken promptly counters. Now that he has no mana sink, he burns and dies.

There’s no help for me on my turn, and Ken kills me with his giant Double-Striking Knight of the Reliquary.

Jeremy gets the win for having two kills, and leads the consensus vote for me getting the cool play award with Insurrection.

I’ll be back to playing sanctioned stuff next week (not to mention HJing Regionals and a PTQ), so I’ll see you then on “We Play Too.”