Coverage of Grand Prix Charleston Day 2 Blog

Posted in Event Coverage on November 17, 2012


Round 10 Feature Match - Jon Bolding vs. Peter Kelly

by Jacob Van Lunen

Jon Bolding and Peter Kelly were the only undefeated players left in the tournament. Both players are relative newcomers that chose to play extremely aggressive decks. Standard has become slower and slower over the past few weeks and the most aggressive strategies are finally given an opportunity to go underneath the tier one decks. Bolding's is armed with a Red/Black aggro deck that harkens back to the first week of Return to Ravnica Standard while Kelly has chosen an interesting Green/White brew that takes advantage of a lot of under-the-radar cards like Judge's Familiar and Fencing Ace .

Game 1

Kelly won the roll, but both players went down to six cards.

Kelly got off to a blazingly fast start with Avacyn's Pilgrim into Rancor and Doomed Traveler . Bolding wasn't going to get trampled over, though, a turn two Knight of Infamy proved to be very strong against Kelly's mostly White aggro deck.

Kelly powered up his team with Mayor of Avabruck and started getting in for a lot of damage. Bolding had another Knight of Infamy , but was forced to trade with an Avacyn's Pilgrim because of Rancor .

The Spirit picked up Rancor and Kelly continued sending into the red zone. Mayor of Avabruck became Howlpack Alpha and Bolding needed to put together a plan quickly.

Hellrider is usually a game changer, but this time it looked like it was just going to be trading with a wolf token.

Bolding found a Thundermaw Hellkite on top of his deck an dispatched the Spirit, but his low life total meant the dragon had to stay at home and trade with a Rancor ed Wolf Token the next turn.

A bit of trading went down and it looked like it could be anyone's game with an empty board.

However, the empty board meant that Kelly could dump his hand without worrying about flipping his Howlpack Alpha : Another Mayor of Avabruck , Doomed Traveler , and Rancor came down. Bolding only had a Gravecrawler and couldn't stabilize before Rancor was able to get in for lethal damage.

Jon Bolding

Game 2

Both players kept their opening hands and Bolding had the first play of the game with Knight of Infamy .

Kelly decided to slow things down with Thalia, Guardian of Thraben , but Bolding showed off the power of his hand when he advanced his boardstate with Diregraf Ghoul and Pillar of Flame for Thalia, Guardian of Thraben .

Knight of Glory from Kelly meant that Diregraf Ghoul would stay at home, but Knight of Infamy continued getting in the red zone thanks to protection from white.

Kelly threatened to get in for a lot of damage with Knight of Glory when he cast Silverblade Paladin , Bolding went for Searing Spear , but Kelly had Faith's Shield .

Victim of Night dealt with Silverblade Paladin and Kelly was still taking big hits from Knight of Infamy .

Bolding augmented his board with Geralf's Messenger , dropping Kelly down to 6. Kelly was unable to find a green creature to block the Knight and he was forced into a race.

Kelly wound up being just one turn short as Bolding got in for the final 3 damage with his Knight of Infamy .

Peter Kelly

Game 3

Kelly led things off with Judge's Familiar , but Bolding had Pillar of Flame . Doomed Traveler was next, but Kelly didn't have a second land to go with his one drops.

Bolding fired off another Pillar of Flame to deal with the Traveler, but Kelly found a second land and cast Fencing Ace .

Kelly tried to Rancor his Fencing Ace and Bolding went for Brimstone Volley , a timely Faith's Shield from Kelly was good enough for the Rancor to stick and Bolding took six damage from the ace.

Bolding found Victim of Night to deal with the Fencing Ace , but Kelly continued to apply pressure with a Knight of Glory , powered up with Rancor , and Judge's Familiar to protect it.

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben was next to join the team and Bolding's last removal spell was rendered useless as Knight of Glory charged in for the final points of damage to make Peter Kelly the last player with a perfect record here at Grand Prix Charleston!

Peter Kelly is in excellent position to top 8 his first Grand Prix! Stay tuned to Grand Prix Charleston coverage to see if Fencing Ace and Judge's Familiar have what it takes to penetrate the top 8.

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. - Deck Tech with Brad Nelson: "Hoof! There it is!"

by Marc Calderaro

We've seen a lot of Unburial Rites decks, but this seems very different. You play a full four copies of Craterhoof Behemoth . What made you focus your attention on this card and why do you feel it's better than Angel of Serenity ?

" Thragtusk / Cavern of Souls has done an interesting thing to this format. It's hard to go underneath the format, so everyone is trying to go over the top. Craterhoof is the most powerful target because when it enters the battlefield it instantly kills the opponent, it allows you to focus on your own game plan and ignore what the opponent is trying to do. This strategy only works in a format where cheap removal isn't good."

Brad Nelson

Unburial Rites decks have suffered a lot since people began sideboarding Purify the Grave and Rest in Peace . How does your deck address these problems?

" Somberwald Sage is the missing link for this non-interactive strategy that puts the deck into hyper drive. You can ignore hate and just cast your eight mana Behemoth to get them dead. White removal comes out of Control decks and Aggressive decks. Against aggressive decks it's very good to just ramp into Angel of Serenity and against control decks I just board it out because it dies to Supreme Verdict and I can eventually get to 8 lands with a Cavern of Souls and win the long game."

What made you decide to play this deck when so many of your testing partners chose to go with Blue/White Flash this weekend?

"It's because so many of my testing partners decided to go with Blue/White Flash this weekend! This deck is absurdly strong against any deck that plays Hallowed Fountain . This is the weekend of Sphinx's Revelation . No one has cards to punish the strategy. ( Bonfire of the Damned , Electrickery , etc.) Have you read Craterhoof Behemoth ? Hoof!"

Brad Nelson's "Hoof! There it is!"

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Round 11 Feature Match - Brad Nelson (Craterhoof Combo) vs. Peter Kelly (White Green Humans)

by Steve Sadin

After 10 rounds of play, there are only two players left with undefeated records – and they're both playing decks that were completely off the radar prior to this weekend!

Former Player of the Year Brad Nelson came into this match with a 9-0-1 record, playing a Craterhoof Behemoth Combo deck that's reminiscent of the Frites Reanimator decks from last season. Meanwhile his opponent, newcomer Peter Kelly, is playing a hyper aggressive White Green Humans deck that looks to put its opponents off their game plan with Judge's Familiar, and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben .

Game 1

Kelly opened with a pair of Judge's Familiars, and a Champion of the Parish – but an Arbor Elf , and a Grisly Salvage gave Nelson all of the mana, and the flashback spells that he needed for his deck to get rolling. As if that wasn't enough for the former Player of the Year, a pair of Lingering Souls gave him a tremendous board presence.

Kelly, hoping to find a way to kill Brad before he could dig into a Craterhoof Behemoth , countered a Mulch by sacrificing Judge's Familiar before deploying a Knight of Glory that gave him the ability to start attacking again.

Sublime Archangel ensured that Kelly would be able to present a tremendously large attacker every turn. Nelson, however, had a more than ample supply of spirit tokens at his disposal to stop that oversized attacker.

Kelly was able to eat a couple of Spirit tokens with his Sublime Archangel , and his steadily growing Champion of the Parish – but without a way to give any of his creatures trample, he wasn't really getting anywhere.

Nelson, meanwhile, just continued ripping through his deck with Tracker 's Instincts, and generating more and more Lingering Souls tokens.

" Rancor or bust, I guess," exclaimed Kelly, acknowledging the fact that the only way he would be able to win was if he could give his Fencing Ace trample.

He didn't draw the Rancor that he needed, and after several turns of trying – Nelson's Tracker 's Instinct dug him into the Craterhoof Behemoth that he needed to take the first game.

Brad Nelson 1 – Peter Kelly 0

Brad Nelson

Game 2

Kelly opened with Judge's Familiar, and a Dryad Militant – a card that's extremely effective in this matchup not because of its size, but because of the fact that it neutralizes all of Nelson's flashback spells.

Nelson, meanwhile, had an Arbor Elf , an Avacyn's Pilgrim, and a Mulch (that didn't find any lands) followed by a Tracker 's Instinct (that could only find an Angel of Serenity ). "All wrong" sighed Brad, lamenting the fact that his only two spells failed to find him anything of note.

Rancor on the Judge's Familiar gave Kelly a good source of damage, and some additional humans allowed him to speed up his clock a bit. However, without a double striker, Kelly was unable to kill Nelson before he got to 7 mana...

...but with only an Avacyn's Pilgrim that could generate white mana, Nelson was unable to cast the Angel of Serenity that would have gotten him right back into the game.

He wouldn't get another turn.

Brad Nelson 1 – Peter Kelly 1

Peter Kelly

Game 3

Kelly mulliganed, but he again had an early Dryad Militant to throw a wrench in Nelson's plans. However, this time around Nelson had an Arbor Elf , and a pair of Avacyn's Pilgrims to ensure that he would be able to cast any big creature that he drew. But in order to do that, Nelson still needed to draw a big creature.

"That card ( Dryad Militant ) is pretty good against me," sighed Nelson as he placed his Tracker 's Instinct that had just failed to find a creature into exile.

While Brad was struggling to find a relevant spell, Kelly was busy unloading threats onto the board. A Thalia, Guardian of Thraben , a pair of Champion of the Parish es, and a Mayor of Avabruck , and a Knight of Glory ultimately gave Kelly all of the offense that he needed to finish off Nelson before he could find anything more potent than a mana elf.

Brad Nelson 1 – Peter Kelly 2

Day 1 Undefeated Decks

by Steve Sadin

Peter Kelly (9-0) Day 1 Undefeated

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Jon Bolding (9-0) Day 1 Undefeated

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Brad Nelson (8-0-1) Day 1 Undefeated

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Florian Koch (8-0-1) Day 1 Undefeated

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Deck Tech - White Green Humans with Peter Kelly

by Steve Sadin

Judge's Familiar, Fencing Ace , and Selesnya Charm are cards that I would expect to see in an X-0 decklist from a Return to Ravnica limited Grand Prix – not a Standard one! But after 11 rounds of play, Peter Kelly stands as the lone undefeated player in the event with a White-Green Humans deck featuring those very cards. When asked how he began building the deck, Peter explained that he was just trying a bunch of new things in an attempt to find something good. "Honestly, there was very little thought involved in the original build. The first brew had black in it, because I wanted to have Thoughtseize effects (like Appetite for Brains )– and it also had a little bit of a human subtheme with Thalia, Guardian of Thraben ." But while the black ultimately proved to be ineffective, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben wound up far exceeding his initial expectations. "I quickly realized just how good Thalia, Guardian of Thraben is. It totally throws off their plans. They have an idea of how they want the game to go, and if you play a Thalia, Guardian of Thraben that slows them down a ton." Once he decided that he was going to build his deck around Thalia, Guardian of Thraben – Judge's Familiar became an easy addition for him. Not only does it help protect Thalia, Guardian of Thraben , but it also keeps opponent's off of key plays ranging from gamebreakers like Sphinx's Revelation and Mizzium Mortars , down to set-up spells like Farseek .

Peter Kelly

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben++Judge's Familiar
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben++Judge's Familiar

"The fact that the bird ( Judge's Familiar ) also stops Farseek is huge. Huntmaster of the Fells is one of the biggest issues for this deck, since they can easily make it transform – so being able to stop Farseek on turn two is really important."

Having the ability to counter, or delay, Farseek s also mitigates the impact of the format defining Thragtusk .

"Since I probably stopped their Farseek , I should have a pretty good set up by that point – and I can just first strike it away, trample over it, or fly over it with some of my evasion." When asked why he thought his deck was performing so well this weekend, Kelly explained that the absence of one mana removal spells in most decks made it very difficult for opponents to keep up with him. " Pillar of Flame was a big deal early in the format, because of Zombies – but now players don't have that many one mana removal spells that can slow you down." Instead of one mana removal spells, players are leaning towards more expensive answers like Searing Spear – a fact which makes expensive creatures, like Sublime Archangel , relatively undesirable for Peter.

" Sublime Archangel costs too much. You want the occasional blowout, but I'm only playing 20 lands so you can't afford to play too many. Also, Searing Spear became a lot more popular recently, and that just nukes the angel."

With only 20 lands, and just a handful of expensive spells – Peter has room to stock up on high quality cheap threats like Mayor of Avabruck , and Knight of Glory – as well as particularly synergistic double strikers like Fencing Ace , and Silverblade Paladin .

"With exalted and Rancor , double strike becomes pretty insane – so I played 3 Fencing Ace s, and 3 Silverblade Paladin s. Silverblade Paladin is the more powerful card, but with only 20 lands it's really important to keep your curve down."

Despite the fact that the deck has been performing so well for him, there's still one green card that he wishes he had the mana to cast. "One thing that this deck really misses is Strangleroot Geist , but there's just no way to make the mana work for it. Naming "spirit" with Cavern of Souls would just be terrible – and I can't really cut Avacyn's Pilgrim for Arbor Elf because the pilgrim is a human."

But, knowing that he wanted a creature that could come back from the grave, found a reasonable substitute in the form of Doomed Traveler . "One last minute change that I made to the deck was to add the Doomed Traveler s. They've been very, very good for me. There's very little evasion in the format right now – so either the Doomed Traveler hits them every turn, or the token it makes hits them every turn. Plus, it "survives" Supreme Verdict."

So if you're looking for an aggressive deck that has what it takes to outlast the fastest decks in the format AND to overwhelm the control decks that have been build with the specific intention of destroying creature decks – then you should give Peter Kelly's White Green Humans deck a try.

Peter Kelly's G/W Humans

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Round 13 Feature Match - Jackie Lee(Green/White Aggro) vs. Gerry Thompson (Blue/White Flash)

by Jacob Van Lunen

Gerry Thompson has been playing competitive Magic for over a decade. Thompson has multiple Grand Prix victories, and even more top 8s, he is regarded by many as one of the best players without a Pro Tour top 8. Jackie Lee is a relative newcomer that started drawing a lot of attention when she top 8ed Grand Prix Baltimore last year. Lee is known for playing aggressive decks. She designed a Green/White Aggro deck for this tournament that seems to be an excellent choice for the metagame.

Game 1

Gerry won the roll and both players kept their hands.

Jackie tried to be aggressive in the early stages of the game with Avacyn's Pilgrim into Champion of the Parish and another Avacyn's Pilgrim . Gerry had Dissipate for the second Pilgrim and Augur of Bolas to hold the ground. Jackie couldn't find a second land and was forced to play with only two mana available for the first few turns of the game.

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben came down for Lee and began hindering Gerry's ability to operate his deck with over 20 instants and sorceries. Gerry was also missing land drops and was unable to effectively used Snapcaster Mage or his cheap tempo spells while the legend remained on the battlefield.

Mayor of Avabruck made the game swing into Lee's favor. Despite her mana issues, Lee was able to start getting in damage with Rancor .

Gerry was able to find a fourth land and Restoration Angel hit the table, blinking Augur of Bolas and revealing Unsummon .

Another Angel came down for Thompson and both players traded hits for two turns. It looked like Jackie was winning the race. Gerry was able to survive by the skin of the teeth with the Unsummon he had previously revealed, but he still didn't have quite enough damage to finish off his opponent.

Gerry then revealed his plan when he cast Runechanter's Pike and was able to swing for exactly lethal the turn before he was dead to the army of humans and wolves on Lee's side of the table.

Jackie Lee

Game 2

Jackie had the first play of the game with turn two Thalia, Guardian of Thraben , the last card Thompson wants to see in the early turns of the game. Champion of the Parish and Mayor of Avabruck came down next and Gerry was forced to UnsummonThalia, Guardian of Thraben , giving him a chance to Essence Scatter it on the way back down.

Jackie had a Cavern of Souls to thwart that plan and she didn't have to worry about Supreme Verdict the next turn because Gerry had two copies of Moorland Haunt in play.

Jackie transformed her Mayor of Avabruck into Howlpack Alpha and she began getting in for a lot of damage and and churning out wolves.

Thompson's Restoration Angel helped hold off a good portion of Lee's team, but she was still able to poke through for three points of damage at a time.

Finally, at nine life, Thompson was able to cast his Supreme Verdict to try to get back into the game. Lee still had more pressure, though, she had effectively played around the big sorcery and had a Restoration Angel on Thompson's End Step.

Angel came in, putting Thompson to six, and Lee cast Nevermore naming Supreme Verdict .

Gerry tried to save himself with Azorius Charm when the Angel came in again, but Lee's Faith's Shield meant that Gerry would fall to 3. Thompson finally ran out of ways to keep his head above water when Lee had another Faith's Shield on her next attack.

Gerry Thompson

Game 3

Lee got off to a fast start with Champion of the Parish into Precinct Captain . Gerry cast Snapcaster Mage and traded with the Champion.

Thompson missed his third land drop and started to flounder while Jackie advanced her boardstate with Silverblade Paladin , Gerry was forced to Unsummon the Precinct Captain , and he found a third land on his turn to cast Detention Sphere on Silverblade Paladin .

Lee had Mayor of Avabruck , a nightmare for Thompson, forcing him to tap out on his turn or let the powerful Innistrad rare flip into a wolf making menace. Soon, the Mayor had become Howlpack Alpha and Jackie started sending it into the red zone, Gerry had a Snapcaster Mage for righteous blow, but Lee's Faith's Shield meant that the Alpha would survive. She added another Mayor to her side of the table and passed back after making a wolf.

Gerry found a fourth land and happily cast Supreme Verdict to even up the board. Lee still looked to be in the driver seat, though, with a fistful of spells she cast a single copy of Precinct Captain and let it go to work.

Gerry took hit after hit from the captain, soldier tokens began piling up. Gerry seemed to be aggressively hunting for land drops with Think Twice and Azorius Charm .

Rest in Peace from Jackie posed a long term problem for Thompson, but he had a short term problem that still needed to be dealt with. His life total had fallen to three and he had just found his seventh land.

Jackie sent with her team and Gerry cast an overloaded Cyclonic Rift . Lee replayed Rest in Peace and Precinct Caption.

Gerry tried to take the game over with Angel of Serenity , but Jackie had Selesyna Charm and once again replayed her captain.

Sphinx's Revelation for five seemed to be the big turning point for Thompson. He found another Angel of Serenity and a few copies of Augur of Bolas that began taking over the game.

Jackie made a last ditch effort attack just as time was called, but Gerry had all the tools he needed to stay alive and attack for lethal the next turn.

Gerry Thompson wins 2-1!

Quick Questions - What will be the deck to beat at Grand Prix San Antonio?

by Jacob Van Lunen

Gerry Thompson: "It's still Blue/White Flash, but Green/White Aggro has definitely proven itself."

Patrick Chapin: "Blue/White Flash, it's resilient, consistent, and played by the best players. It's good at beating the decks that beat the good decks."

Brad Nelson: (Singing) "Hoof! There it is!"

Jackie Lee: "Blue/White Flash is definitely the most expected. That and Bant Control."

Deck Tech - Jon Bolding's Rakdos Aggro

by Jacob Van Lunen

Who did you work with for this event?

"The team from Game Theory in Raleigh, NC. We brought eight guys with us this weekend and four made day two. I could only convince one other guy to play the deck. He won a grinder and then made day 2."

Blue/White Flash and Bant Control were the big decks coming into this event. Why did you choose to play your deck in this tournament?

Jon Bolding

"We tested those matchups for the last few weeks and we've found that the list I'm playing has a really good matchup against Bant and Blue/White Flash. I was able to take down Owen Turtenwald and Shuhei Nakamura. Both of those players are a lot better than me, but the Bant matchup is good enough that I was able to prevail. The maindeck Knight of Infamy goes a long way."

What are your deck's best matchups? Its worst matchups?

"The best matchup is Bant Control. The worst matchup is probably mono red, they're at least a turn or two faster than I am."

What would you change about your deck or sideboard if you were going to play your deck next week at Grand Prix San Antonio?

"I would cut one Bonfire of the Damned from the sideboard. The card is good against the Green/White decks, but you never want it in your opener. I would replace it with a Victim of Night . That card is better against Loxodon Smiter and other big creatures, there was a lot of Green/White at this tournament."

Jon Bolding's Rakdos Aggro

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Deck Tech - Blue White Control with Gerry Thompson

by Steve Sadin

In the weeks leading up to Grand Prix Charleston, Blue White Control decks that were loaded with counterspells became the most feared deck on Magic Online. This inevitably led to players filling their decks with Cavern of Souls ...

But despite the fact that many of the top decks in the format are maindecking the hateful land, players have still found ways to adapt their Blue White decks such that they can thrive in the face of adversity.

Gerry Thompson is one of those players.

Gerry Thompson

"The deck was much better a week and a half ago (before players were regularly maindecking Cavern of Souls ) when you could just counter everybody's spells – but it's still very good now. Against the decks with Cavern of Souls , I usually sideboard out my counterspells – but against the slower control decks they're still invaluable."

In order to minimize the impact of his opponent's Caverns, Gerry cut down to only 6 maindeck counterspells, eliminating a previously ubiquitous answer in the process.

"I cut the Essence Scatter s. Everybody that has creatures has 2-3 Cavern of Souls in their deck, and more in their sideboard – so it didn't seem like there was any good reason for me to play Essence Scatter . Instead, I played 2 Syncopate s in those slots because I wanted my counterspells to always be live against the control decks."

By cutting down on counterspells, Gerry Thompson found room to up the number of lands, and expensive (but gamebreaking) spells in his deck.

"Adam Prosak played 23 lands in his Blue-White deck, but I'm playing 25 lands plus three copies of Think Twice . I have two Sphinx's Revelation s, and an Angel of Serenity in my deck, so I really want to make all of my land drops."

After Two Days of play, and a number of close wins against Green-White creature decks, Gerry felt confident that the Angel of Serenity was a good addition to the deck.

"We added an Angel of Serenity to the maindeck to beat Green-White, and the mirror match. The mirror match often comes down to decking if you don't have a way to break a board stall – and Angel of Serenity allows you to win those games. Angel of Serenity also lets you sideboard out your Runechanter's Pikes, and your Snapcaster Mage s against decks that bring in Rest in Peace ."

Before he had to leave to prepare for the Top 8, Gerry made it a point to emphasize just how important it is to have access to good finishers even in control decks.

"It's very important to be able to kill your opponent in a timely fashion. You can stabilize the board, but then there are just a million cards that they can draw that will put them ahead – so you need to have some cards like Runechanter's Pike, and Angel of Serenity , that can just kill them before that happens."

So even though you can't rely on being able to counter your opponents' best creatures any more – if you have an ample supply of non-counterspell answers, and some good finishers at your disposal, you can't still cruise your way to the top with Blue White.

Gerry Thompson Top 8

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Round 14 Feature Match - Brad Nelson (Craterhoof Combo) vs. Sam Black (White Green Humans)

by Steve Sadin

Pro Tour Philadelphia Semifinalist Sam Black came into this round with an 11-2 record, and in need of a win this round in order to keep his Top 8 hopes alive. Brad Nelson, on the other hand, was in a slightly cushier position at 11-1-1 – as he would likely be able to advance to the Top 8 with his Craterhoof Combo if he scored a win in either of the final two rounds

Game 1

Nelson quickly built up his mana with an Arbor Elf , and a Somberwald Sage – while Black spent his first couple of turns playing establishing his offenses with double Champion of the Parish .

But despite having access to a ton of mana, Nelson didn't play a threat on his third turn. Instead, he played a Mulch , another Somberwald Sage , and a Deathrite Shaman before passing the turn back to Black.

Avacyn's Pilgrim, and a Rancor set up an attack for 7 that left Nelson on 11 –and despite the fact that Sam had only played three turns so far, he seemed poised to execute a kill (or at the very least leave Nelson without a board to speak of) should he get the chance to untap, and attack again.

Nelson, however, had other plans – playing a turn 4 Craterhoof Behemoth that immediately set up a lethal attack.

Brad Nelson 1 – Sam Black 0

Brad Nelson

Game 2

A pair of Champion of the Parish es, and a Thalia, Guardian of Thraben gave Black a quick clock, while Nelson opened with a pair of Avacyn's Pilgrims, but no second land.

Somberwald Sage gave Nelson a light at the end of the tunnel to look forward to, and a Lingering Souls gave him a couple of chump blockers that he hoped would help him live long enough to see that light – but when a Garruk Relentless came down and killed off the Somberwald Sage that he was relying on, Nelson wasted no time before picking up his deck, and shuffling for the third and final game.

Brad Nelson 1 – Sam Black 1

Sam Black

Game 3

An Arbor Elf , and a Somberwald Sage gave Brad access to a ton of mana early – while the best thing that Sam, who had mulliganed down to six, could muster was a turn two Precinct Captain .

"Am I dead?" asked Black half jokingly as he allowed his opponent to untap with access to at least 6 mana on his third turn.

Nelson shook his head no, cast a Tracker 's Instinct, and a Avacyn's Pilgrim, and passed the turn back – giving Black the opportunity to Oblivion Ring away the Somberwald Sage before it could make its presence felt in any meaningful way.

A flashed back Tracker 's Instinct yielded an Arbor Elf instead of an Angel of Serenity , and a Lingering Souls Gave Nelson a couple of Spirits. But before Nelson could set up an Unburial Rites , Black cast a Rest in Peace to permanently abolishe his graveyard, and a Rancor to dramatically speed up his clock.

Nelson simply played Arbor Elf , and attacked with his two spirits – knocking Black down to 18, and potentially setting up a lethal Craterhoof Behemoth on the following turn.

With no way to play around Craterhoof Behemoth (other than to hope that Nelson didn't have it yet) Black played a Silverblade Paladin , gave his Precinct Captain double strike, and attacked for 10 knocking Brad down to a mere 3 life.

"Am I dead?" asked Sam once again, knowing that a Craterhoof Behemoth would be enough to kill him.

Brad drew for his turn, and shook his head. "Nope, you've got me."

Brad Nelson 1 – Sam Black 2

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