Grand Prix Indianapolis Day 2 Coverage

Posted in Event Coverage on March 10, 2012

EVENT COVERAGE

Sunday, 10:15 a.m. – Day 1 Undefeated Decklists

by Event Coverage Staff

Tom Martell – 9-0

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Michael Bernat – 9-0

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Jason Ford – 9-0

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Steve Rubin – 9-0

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Bernard Wen – 8-0-1

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Rob Dougherty – 8-0-1

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Round 10 Feature Match: Not So Mystic After All - Adam Cai vs. Aaron Clay

by Frank Lepore

Aaron Clay is a level 1 DCI Judge. Adam Cai is a regular on the StarCityGames Open Circuit. Both players are competing with one of the best colors in the format: white. However Adam's list is lacking something quite interesting: he opted to not run Stoneforge Mystic, the format's perennial tutor of equipment!

Both players discussed the previous day's matches as they shuffled up and began to battle. This early in the morning things tend to be pretty relaxed.

Game 1

Adam was on the play, which meant it was a little less painful for Aaron that he had to go down to six cards. Adam led with a Horizon Canopy into a Noble Hierarch while Aaron led with a Polluted Delta. After a Green Sun's Zenith for zero from Adam, Aaron promptly responded with a Spell Pierce. This meant Adam simply had to play a second Hierarch and pass.

Aaron played a Tower of the Magistrate, which was quickly met with a Wasteland from Adam. Aaron chose to Brainstorm in response, but the land was still destined for the grumper. Adam cast a Fauna Shaman, and with Aaron tapped out it would resolve. Adam swung in for two with an exalted Hierarch and shipped the turn.

With the initiative now his, Aaron played a Stoneforge Mystic, seeking up a Batterskull to meet Adam's growing forces. With only two mana to his name, he was forced to pass back the turn. Adam untapped, cast a Swords to Plowshares on the Mystic, and promptly played a Qasali Pridemage. This meant that his swing with the Fauna Shaman was for a massive five damage!

Although composed of only tiny creatures, Adam's army was growing sizeable. Aaron was resigned to simply play a land and pass. Adam went into the tank. He played a forest then attacked for another five with his Qasali Pridemage. Adam searched out a land, dropping to 12 life, then cast a Snapcaster Mage targeting his Brainstorm. Aaron chose to chump block the cat, then Adam added a Knight of the Reliquary to his team. Aaron needed an answer, and fast!

Adam Cai

Aaron played a Mishra's Factory followed by a second Stoneforge Mystic, this time searching out an Umezawa's Jitte. With a mere two mana free, he didn't hesitate to cast the Jitte and pass the turn. With Aaron tapped out, this was Adam's chance. He cast a second Swords to Plowshares on Aaron's second Stoneforge Mystic, before going into the tank. Adam activated his Knight, fetching out a Wasteland to kill Aaron's only white source in a Tundra. This momentarily left Adam with zero lands, relying on two Noble Hierarchs, before playing a Windswept Heath and attacking with his 5/5 Fauna Shaman. This would drop Aaron to eight life.

Aaron was able to play a Polluted Delta on his next turn, making Adam's Wasteland all for naught. Aaron mainphased a Snapcaster Mage targeting an irrelevant Spell Pierce, then cracked his fetch land. He equipped the Jitte, but was still staring down an unimpressed Qasali Pridemage that wasted no time in dispatching the legendary equipment. Adam fetched out a land as well, and the life totals were seven to 14 in Adam's favor.

Adam drew for his turn and played a Karakas. He then attacked with his now 4/4 Fauna Shaman and Aaron dropped to three life with no blocks. Adam took this opportunity to Green Sun's Zenith for three mana, searching out a second Knight of the Reliquary. He then activated the first Knight, found a Wasteland, and destroyed Aaron's Factory.

"It's looking pretty good for you over there," Aaron remarked.

He looked at his draw for the turn then packed them up.

Adam Cai 1, Aaron Clay 0

Game 2

Both players joked about the format, and how good Swords to Plowshares is while they shuffled one another's decks.

Aaron chose to leads off this game, and fortunately had a keepable hand. He led with a Scalding Tarn while Adam played a Windswept heath, cracked it, and played a Noble Hierarch. Unfortunately for Adam, Aaron took his turn and laid another dreaded Stoneforge Mystic. A Batterskull once more found its way to Aaron's hand and he gave the turn to Adam.

Adam now had the opportunity to cast a Qasali Pridemage and took it. He then swung in for two with his exalted Hierarch and passed the turn. Aaron played a land and passed the turn, presenting Adam with the threat of three untapped lands and an active Stoneforge Mystic. Adam played a Maze of Ith then attacked with his Pridemage before Aaron used a Path to Exile on it. It now looked like the coast was clear for Adam's Batterskull to run rampant. Aaron fetched out a Tundra with his Polluted Delta and put a surprising Sword of Body and Mind into play at the end of Adam's turn.

Aaron equipped the Stoneforge Mystic and attacked; and much to Adam's dismay, it would connect. Aaron now had a wolf while Adam's library was ten cards lighter. At the end of Aaron's turn, Adam chose to cast a Scryb Ranger. Adam played a Wasteland and immediately used it on Aaron's Tundra. Adam attacked for two with his Scryb Ranger, putting Aaron to 14 life before casting a Green Sun's Zenith for three. Once more a Knight of the Reliquary would come down, and threaten to search out a Maze of Ith to nullify the Sword of Body and Mind Aaron was wielding.

Aaron attacked again bringing Adam down to 12 life while getting a second Wolf and removing ten more cards. Aaron had the Swords to Plowshares for the Knight, but immediately lamented his misplay by letting Adam gain an enormous twelve life! Adam untapped, played a Wasteland, and got rid of another of Aaron's Tundras. He then played a Scavenging Ooze that had a lot of options to feast on. Another attack from Aaron brought Adam to a less threatening 21 life, but his deck was shrinking by the turn.

Aaron Clay

Adam chose to exile some Snapcaster targets in Aaron's graveyard, but during his draw step a Vendilion Clique targeting Adam would prove to make all information known. Adam played a Mother of Runes, but with Aaron now controlling a flier, it might not matter. Adam had a mere thirteen cards in his library as the two players decided to shuffle up and go to game three!

Adam Cai 1, Aaron Clay 1

Game 3

"Do you like Fauna Shaman in there?" Aaron asked, as the two players prepared for game three.

"Oh yeah," Cai responded confidently.

Aaron was going to Paris once more, while Adam was content with his opener. With a mere six minutes left on the clock, would this match end in a draw? Adam led off with a Mother of Runes and quickly passed the turn.

In a similarly hasty fashion, Aaron played a Tundra then removed the Mother with a Swords to Plowshares. Adam kept the beats coming with a turn two Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, which would threaten to put the vice grips on Aaron. Aaron searched out a second land to play his Stoneforge Mystic, once more getting a Batterskull. It was a land and an attack from Adam before he cast a Knight of the Reliquary.

Aaron played a Mishra's Factory and passed the turn. Adam played his forth land - a possible record number - then floated a green mana before sacrificing it to Knight of the Reliquary. He found a Wasteland with the intent to get rid of Aaron's Tundra. In response, Aaron chose to Brainstorm, but he forgot that it would cost him two mana instead of one. He floated a blue mana and Adam played a Scavenging Ooze. Aaron was now at 14 life after an attack and it was his turn. With a Wasteland of his own, he passed the turn back with little action. Adam used his Wasteland to get rid of Aaron's Factory and Aaron responded with a Snapcaster. He chump blocked the Knight, and dropped down to 11 life. Without a third land to his name, things were looking grim for Aaron. Adam attacked for another four damage, dropping Aaron to seven life, but with Adam threatening nine power on board it was time for Aaron to pack it up!

Adam Cai 2, Aaron Clay 1

Sunday, 11:18 a.m. – Deck Tech: GW Aggro with Adam Cai

by Frank Lepore

While GW Aggro might be one of the runaway archetypes in Legacy this weekend, as Adam Cai marks his return to the country, he's playing something a little bit different. With a record of 9-1 he's gotta be doing something right, so let's check out what he has in store!

Adam Cai - GW Aggro

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The main thing you'll notice in Adam's list is the lack of Stoneforge Mystic. Yes, that's right: one of the format's most defining cards is noticeably absent in deck that contains both white cards and equipment. Why would Adam chose to omit Stoneforge Mystic?

"Well, it's just bad." Adam said. He went on to clarify that he was joking and he was really just going for a different strategy.

You see his deck is more concerned with beating the other GW Aggro decks, and even the UW Stone-Blade decks. Another thing you might have noticed is the singleton Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite and Loyal Retainers in the deck. Adam said that the Elesh Norn had been insane for him all weekend!

"So there was this one game where my opponent had a Mother of Runes, a Scavenging Ooze, a Knight of the Reliquary, a Noble Hierarch, a Stoneforge Mysticand an Elspeth, Knight-Errant. I played out an Elesh Norn, wiped his board then played a Swords on his Knight. I then swung with my Knight of the Reliquary into his Elspeth to kill it! It was insane."

The deck also has several ways to get an Elesh Norn into play, including the one-of Gaea's Cradle! He can search that up with a Knight of the Reliquary, Search for a Knight with a Shaman, or even search for a Loyal Retainers by discarding the Elesh Norn!

Another game Adam mentioned was where he had a Gaea's Cradle in play and ended up removing his opponent's entire graveyard in two turn with Scavenging Ooze!

When asked what the deck's bad matchups might be, Adam informed that he had been out of the country for a while so he wasn't really sure. "Combo, maybe?" Even then, the Thalias seem like they might put a hurting on his combo opponents.

Adam Cai has been tearing up the event with a mere one loss, and he doesn't seem to show any signs of stopping! Could this be the latest evolution of GW Aggro? Hopefully we'll see in a few short hours!

Sunday, 11:42 a.m. – Day 2 Metagame Breakdown

by Nate Price

So here's a quick breakdown of the decks that made Day 2:

UW Stone Blade – 22
GW Stone Blade – 22
Canadian Threshold – 15
High Tide – 9
Dredge – 9
Bant Stone Blade – 8
Ad Nauseum Tendrils – 5
Belcher – 5
Esper Stone Blade – 5
Reanimator – 4
Red Deck Wins – 4
UR Delver – 4
Zoo – 4
Elves – 3
Hive Mind – 3
43 Lands – 2
BUG Control – 2
RUG No Threshold – 2
Show and Tell – 2
Sneak and Tell – 2
Team America – 2
Tezzeret Affinity – 2
Thopter Sword – 2
White Weenie Stone Blade – 2
Affinity – 1
Aggro Loam – 1
Budget Bant – 1
BW Tokens – 1
Dark Aggro Loam – 1
Dream Halls – 1
Enchantress – 1
Goblins – 1
GW Stone Blade w/ Punishing Fire – 1
Merfolk – 1
Monoblack Control – 1
Naya Fire Control – 1
Painted Stone – 1
The Rock – 1
StifleNaut – 1
Tezzeret Thopter Sword – 1
UB Delver – 1

As expected from our 20/20 Visions yesterday, the three most represented decks are GW Stone Blade, UW Stone blade, and Canadian Threshold, making up over a third of the field. These decks are brutally efficient at dispatching opponents and pack just enough disruption to provide a problem for the myriad of combo decks in the field. Speaking of the myriad of combo decks, following after the big three are an assortment of the bigger combo decks in the field. Decks like High Tide, which Michael Bernat used to go undefeated on Day 1, and perennial powers like Dredge, Ad Nauseum Tendrils, and Belcher are all well represented in Day 2, though clearly not to the degree of the big three. Past that, the diversity of Legacy makes itself apparent, with 26 different decks only having one or two representations in the field. It really is anything goes here at Grand Prix Indianapolis, and, if this field is any indicator, anyone has a chance to win.

Sunday, 11:42 a.m. – Day 2 Metagame Breakdown

by Nate Price

Ding! Round 11...

This was the marquee matchup that had really come to define what we've seen from Legacy this weekend, and it happened to occur between the last two 10-0 players: Jason Ford with Canadian Threshold against Tom Martell and his Esper Stone Blade deck. Both decks are variations on previous powerhouses with some new additions to push them over the edge in Legacy. Ford's Canadian threshold deck has its roots in the threshold decks of old, using cheap cantrips to fill the graveyard and provide a constant stream of threats and a stream of burn to both clear the way and finish opponents off. The newest addition to the deck is Delver of Secrets, who flips on

Stoneforge Mystic
command thanks to Ponder and Brainstorm, providing an incredibly efficient three-powered attacker. Martell's Esper Stone Blade is the most recent descendant of the Squadron Hawk Blade decks that terrorized Standard for what seemed like an eternity. This deck uses Stoneforge Mystic to snag a quick piece of equipment and then slaps it on a cheap creature to take control of the game. It backs this plan up with various control elements, from Inquisition of Kozilek, Force of Will, and Jace, the Mind Sculptor. The most recent addition to this deck is the multi-format all-star: Lingering Souls. This card replaces the Squadron Hawks of old and provides an incredibly cheap, very versatile string of creatures.

Martell was on the play for game 1, opening with a Thoughtseize to see the opener that Ford had kept. As Ford laid his hand on the table, Martell let out a "Jeez...Forked Bolt main..." In addition to the removal spell, Martell saw Lightning Bolt, Thought Scour, Force of Will, Nimble Mongoose, Wooded Foothills, and Tropical Island. Martell wasted no time in taking Ford's only pressure: the Nimble Mongoose.

Ford opened his game with a Tropical Island and an obviously freshly drawn Ponder, and kept the cards on top of his deck, clearly liking what he saw. Martell followed suit with a Ponder of his own, really giving the card its namesake, thinking for a minute before keeping his on top as well. Ford made his first creature of the match, a Delver of Secrets that was sure to flip on the following turn thanks to Ponder's stacking ability.

Martell cracked a Flooded Strand on his turn, and Ford asked him what he was searching out.

"Just the prettiest Island in the world," Martell responded with a dreamy quality to his voice.

The Prettiest Island in the World.

Being a Euro Italy Island, I was forced to agree. After putting it into play, he made a Lingering Souls, providing a pair of blockers to stop the Delver, though he knew they wouldn't last long. True to form, Ford flipped his Delver, revealing a Force of Will, and used the Forked Bolt to clear away both creatures. The newly-transformed Insectile Aberration flipped, attacking Martell for three. Martell wanted to see what he was up against, aiming an Inquisition of Kozilek at Ford's hand, taking Lightning Bolt, Ford's only card other than the Force of Will. He soon stripped that from Ford, who had to cast it to stop Martell from flashing back Lingering Souls.

During Ford's upkeep, Martell used an Intuition to fetch three more copies of Lingering Souls. Playing it in ford's upkeep like that forced Ford to use mana to stop it on his turn, which would neuter any possible plays he might have. Ford had nothing and let it resolve. His attack dropped Martell to 6, but it looked like Martell would soon gain control. Sure enough, Martell spent his turn flashing back two copies of Lingering Souls, creating four tokens in the process. Ford wasted no time in attacking into them, and Martell had to think about his blocks. He was definitely blocking the Aberration, but if he only blocked with two and Ford had a removal spell, it would blow him out and leave the Aberration alive. In the end, he realized that any burn would most likely be aimed at his head at that point and blocked with two tokens. Ford indeed let the Aberration die and passed the turn.

On his turn, Martell began to try to reestablish himself. He used a Snapcaster Mage to replay Inquisition of Kozilek, to which Ford responded with Lightning Bolt, dropping Martel to 3. The Inquisition of Kozilek revealed Forked Bolt, Snapcaster Mage, and Force of Will. "Well. That's a pretty big game," Martell said, realizing how difficult his position was. He took the Snapcaster and made a big show of putting his Flooded Strand off to the side. He then crossed his fingers as he tapped out to play Umezawa's Jitte, which would soon be able to gain him the life needed to get out of the Danger Zone. When his deck didn't provide an immediate answer, and realizing that there was no way he could beat a Jitte with counters on it, Ford conceded.

Jason Ford 0 – Tom Martell 1

"That was not the correct Intuition. As soon as I cast it, I was like, 'That was so dumb...' The right Intuition was Swords to Plowshares. Then I can Swords the Aberration and stay at nine, which is enough life to find something to do later. I had the Snapcaster in my hand, too, so I could have always just recast Intuition at some point for the Lingering Souls. I even represented the swords to Plowshares, but why didn't I just get the Swords?"

Jason Ford

Game 2 started a little slow from Ford considering that he has eight creatures in his deck that can be played for one mana, as well as Ponder, Brainstorm, and Thought Scour. All he did was play a Volcanic Island and pass the turn. Martell didn't wait, though, playing a Ponder of his own off of the "prettiest Island in the world," keeping his cards on top. Ford got back onto the board with a 2/3 Tarmogoyf which wasn't long for this world. After drawing the second of the cards he wanted from the Ponder, Martell washed his library with a Marsh Flats, grabbing a Plains to cast Swords to Plowshares to rid himself of the Goyf.

Ford found additional pressure on the next turn, Brainstorming into a Nimble Mongoose that was leagues away from threshold. He also played a Wasteland, which Martell had been careful to play around thus far, fetching only basic lands. That trend continued on the following turn as he played a Swamp before recruiting Stoneforge Mystic, adding a potentially devastating Batterskull to his arsenal. For wasted no time in frying the Mystic with a Lightning Bolt, to which Martell responded with a Brainstorm. When the dust settled, the Mystic was dead, and Ford had his second card in his graveyard.

Martell tried to make a second Stoneforge Mystic on the next turn, but ford had a Spell Pierce to stop it. Martell was less than pleased, playfully chiding ford for being a jerk. Then, like a true hypocrite, Martel played a Lingering Souls to block Ford's path. At the end of Martell's turn, Ford tried to get something going with a Snapcaster Mage into a Brainstorm, but Martell stopped him with a Spell Pierce. Ford tried a second Brainstorm on his next turn, but his Canadian Threshold deck was finding it difficult to get into threshold. He simply passed the turn with only three cards in his graveyard.

Martell began to attack with his Spirits. The first two dropped Ford back to 20, and two more joined the team after he flashed it back. Things didn't look great for Ford. He did inch himself closer to a better position with a Brainstorm into a Wooded Foothills, putting him very close to threshold, but Martell turned the tables on him once again. Ford had a Forked Bolt stripped away from him when Martell cast Inquisition of Kozilek. Ford chose not to attack because he had five mana up and his last card in hand was a Force of Will. He used it soon after when Martell tried to make another Stoneforge Mystic. Martell's troops attacked, putting Ford to 15. During Martell's upkeep, Ford forced him to pop his Polluted Delta by using Wasteland on it, putting himself into threshold. Still in his upkeep, another Wasteland took the fetched Underground Sea in the graveyard. After drawing, Martell used his remaining four lands to play a Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Jace fatesealed Ford, putting the card on the bottom, and Martell passed the turn.

Tom Martell

Ford appeared to be done. He drew his new card and did nothing. Martell kept ticking Jace up, putting yet another card on the bottom of ford's deck. On top of that, he played a Snapcaster Mage to flash back Ponder. Remember that he still hadn't played the Batterskull he fetched up earlier. Ford started attacking Jace, but Martell had enough Spirits from his Lingering Souls to kill the Snapcaster and chump the Mongoose. When he added another set of Spirits with another Lingering Souls, the end of the game was simply going through the motions. Ford twitched for a few more turns before finally picking up his cards and shaking his hand. Tom Martell now sits atop the standings of Grand Prix Indianapolis 2012, a perfect 11-0.

Jason Ford 0 – Tom Martell 2

Sunday, 12:32 p.m. – Deck Tech: Esper Stone Blade with Tom Martell

by Nate Price

Three decks have risen to prominence in this Grand Prix Indianapolis Legacy field: Canadian Threshold, GW Stone Blade, and UW Stone Blade. Despite these decks showing up in force, the man who managed to make it to 11-0 isn't playing any of them. Not exactly.

Tom Martell

Tom Martell's Esper Stone Blade is definitely a variation on the UW Stone Blade decks that are seemingly everywhere this weekend, but the differences between the two decks really put his deck into a category of its own. Here is his list:

Tom Martell Esper Stone Blade – 11-0

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When asked why he chose this version of the deck as opposed to the standard UW build that many of the top players in the tournament seem to be running, he had one thing on his mind.

"Lingering Souls is really good. Think of it like this: Elspeth, Knight-Errant is a good card in the traditional UW Stone Blade decks. She takes four turns to do what I can do with this deck in one with Lingering Souls and for the same cost. This deck is a lot like Squadron Hawk Blade, but rather than spending eight mana on a full set of Squadron Hawks, I have a squad for four mana and only one card."

Lingering Souls has really become a multi-format all-star. It was the breakout card of Grand Prix Kobe 2012, a Dark Ascension Limited tournament. It also made its presence felt strongly at the Standard Grand Prix Baltimore a week later, once again making the Top 5 Cards of the weekend. And I Martell's performance is anything to go by, it's likely to be a Top 5 card of this weekend as well. One of the main reasons that Martell described it as "really good" stems from its ability to take control, not wait for a chance to do so.

"Lingering Souls allows you to take the control route, but you can go really aggressive with the tokens. If you get two copies of Lingering Souls, you can even out race a Tarmogoyf with them. At some point, you can just start leaving one back to block and completely dominate the race."

Despite feeling strongly about this deck, many of Martell's teammates opted for the traditional UW deck, a decision he firmly disagrees with.

"I asked Josh Utter-Leyton why he was playing UW instead of this deck. He said he'd rather have Counterspells than Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek, and I completely disagree. I'd rather be proactive and know what's in their hand. Having perfect information is very powerful in this format. I want to know that I can run my Batterskulls out there without fear of a Spell Pierce. When each spell is so much good, like in Legacy, getting one countered can be devastating."

One of the moments of the weekend that was very informative in my mind came from a booth interview with Patrick Sullivan. He talked about one of the hardest skills to learn in Magic: the ability to recognize what phase in the game you are at, be it aggression, defense, or card advantage, and then adopt the proper role. Martell pointed out that the versatility of this deck allows it to play all of those roles very well, as switch between them with ease.

"Lingering Souls is one of those cards that plays really well in every phase. For example, in the last game, after Inquisition of Kozileking Jason and taking his Nimble Mongoose, I put him in a situation where I could choose which of my threats I most wanted to resolve, and then force him to react the way that I wanted, eventually resolving my Lingering Souls and going for the throat. That's a very proactive stance where I get to be the aggressive deck, even though it may not look like it on the surface. Then, in the next game, I used Lingering Souls as a temporary wall of creatures, providing myself enough time to get enough control of the game that I could switch to offense. In that game, I got to use Lingering Souls both as defense, preventing him from attacking effectively; card advantage, since I was able to tie up multiple cards of his for the cost of only one card; and eventually aggression, when I got to start attacking. Snapcaster Mage is another of those versatile cards that can serve as both a blocker, attacker, and obvious source of advantage."

With his more proactive bent on the format, Martell seems perfectly matched with a deck that allows him to play the control decks he loves, but be able to directly impact the way the games he plays go, rather than being forced to react as most controlling decks do. The addition of Lingering Souls to the deck provides it an incredible amount of mileage and only takes up four slots in the deck. While it may not seem like much of a difference from the UW version of the deck, Martell is right on the money when he discusses the difference between this version's ability to be proactive as opposed to reactive, and how well perfect information can be used to his advantage. I don't want to call his deck the better version, because I believe that the deck plays differently enough that I consider it a deck unto itself.

Round 12 Feature Match - Luis Scott-Vargas vs. Nathan Connor

by Frank Lepore

Nathan Connor - Charbelcher

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Luis Scott-Vargas - UW Stone Blade

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While Luis is a new name to no one, Nate Connor is relatively newer to the Sunday stage. "I feel left out; I'm the only one without a ChannelFireball shirt!" Nate joked.

Game 1

Both players shuffled up and Luis decided to go to six almost immediately. He kept his six and led off with a Mishra's Factory.

Nathan Connor

Nate cast a Gitaxian Probe and revealed a Force of Will, a Snapcaster Mage, an Elspeth, Knight-Errant, a Spell Pierce and a land from Luis' hand. He then played a Lion's Eye Diamond and cast a Rite of Flame which Luis countered by Luis, removing the Spell Pierce from his hand. Luis played a Flooded Strand, found a Tundra, and played a Snapcaster Mage for no value simply to get the beats in. On his next turn he dropped a Crucible of Worlds then passed back the turn. Nate Probed again revealing the remaining Elspeth in Luis' hand.

Luis drew a Brainstorm and cast it immediately, sending two cards to the top before playing a Flooded Strand that promptly shuffled them back into the deck. During Nate's Draw Step he got Vendilion Clique'd by Luis revealing an Elvish Spirit Guide, two Charbelcher, a Desperate Ritual, a Chrome Mox and a Tinder Wall. Luis decides to take the Tinder Wall and Nate drew his card. Luis played the same Flooded Strand again courtesy of the Crucible, played an Elspeth, then attacked Nate down to four life after pumping with Elspeth.

Nate played a Land Grant, revealed no lands, then grabbed his lone Taiga. He played Rite of Flame for two mana, then the Desperate Ritual, then cast his Belcher. He then activated it with his Lion's Eye Diamond. Luis took the opportunity to look at Nate's deck, but they were still on to game two.

Nate Connor 1, Luis Scott-Vargas 0

Game 2

Nate looks at the clock between rounds. "Yeah, I got time," he says, noticing a mere nine minutes have passed since the beginning of the round. "Maybe I'll have time to get to Starbucks!"

"You know how I playtest this match up?" he asked. "I sleep!"

The banter was friendly and casual but there was money and glory on the line this late in the event. Luis would be on the play this game and led off with Scalding Tarn. Nate would once again lead with a Lion's Eye Diamond, but also a Lotus Petal and a Tinder Wall. He would then sacrifice the Tinder Wall to play a Rite of Flame for a total of three mana. A seething song would follow, which ate a Force of Will from Luis.

Luis got another turn, but a mere Tundra was all that came. It was land go for Luis and simply a "go" from Nate for a few turns. An Oblivion Ring would come down for Luis targeting the only permanent in play: Nate's Lion's Eye Diamond. A Mishra's Factory as Luis' sixth land meant he could finally press some advantage over Nate despite an otherwise empty board.

Batterskull

Nate discarded a Charbelcher and passed the turn. Nate then drew a Probe, cast it and Luis revealed two lands and a Snapcaster Mage. With the coast clear, Nate played a Lotus Petal, Chrome Mox, and a Desperate Ritual, to which Luis used his one Snapcaster to recast his Force of Will. Luis hit a Brainstorm, attacked for two with the Snapcaster, then cast a Stoneforge Mystic and a Batterskull would join his hand. Luis also drew a Clique and hit Nate on his draw step. He revealed two Charbelchers, a Burning Wish, a Seething Song, and a Desperate Ritual. Luis went into the tank before deciding to take the seething song. Luis would bounce his Clique with his Karakas at the end of Nate's turn, as he kept pressing his advantage with the Snapcaster Mage. The next turn repeated and Nate revealed the Simian Spirit Guide and the second Burning Wish which he had drawn since the last turn. This time Luis chose the Burning Wish,

The game went like this for a couple more turn before Luis ran out a Jace. He used the +2 ability to Fateseal Nate, shipping a Pyretic Ritual to the bottom of his deck. Nate dropped to a mere six life, and the game was looking close. But Nate had a ton of mana in various forms, which allowed him to cast a Burning Wish for a Diminishing Returns in his sideboard!

With the Diminishing Returns having resolved, Nate looked at his hand, and with no Charbelcher he had no choice but to scoop 'em up.

Nate Connor 1, Luis Scott-Vargas 1

Game 3

With Nate having the choice to play, he was at a slight advantage in this matchup. He would keep his initial seven, while Luis went down to six. In this matchup it isn't how many cards you have so much as which cards you have in hand. Luis looked at his new six with disappointment as he sent those back as well. Five...would also not do, so it was off to four cards and the hope of a brighter hand. Luis ended up keeping a hand of Stoneforge Mystic, Force of Will, Polluted Delta, and Spell Snare, which Nate saw from a Gitaxian Probe. Luis found a Mishra's Factory and was still in the game after casting a turn two Stoneforge!

He found another land in the form of Wasteland, and he put a Batterskull into play at Nate's End step. He swung for seven with the Factory, the Batterskull and the Stoneforge Mystic, dropping Nate to 11 and the initial two damage from the Gitaxian Probe. Luis swung for another seven with the whole team, dropping Nate to four and at that point the game was actually over! Luis manages to win an insane game after mulling to a mere four cards!

Nate Connor 1, Luis Scott-Vargas 2

Sunday, 1:19 p.m. – Tech Deck: Charbelcher with Nathan Connor

by Frank Lepore

Nathan Connor is a casual player at heart. He mentioned this multiple times as he described his deck with utter glee. The deck in question was one of the more well known combo decks in the format: 'Belcher, titled after its namesake card, Charbelcher!

Nathan Connor's Charbelcher Deck.

He had a lot of things to say about the deck, so let's display what he's working with.