Quarterfinal – Nicola Landoni vs. Jorg Unfried

Posted in Event Coverage on November 28, 2010

By David Sutcliffe

These two players, each with their own variants of a blue control deck of flyers, got off to a predictably slow start in the first game Nicola Landoni led the way with a Perilous Myr and Trinket Mage (searching up a Darksteel Axe ) while Jorg Unfried had a Sylvok Replica to hand. The German was the first to unveil his big rare flyer - an Argent Sphinx , but Landoni immediately replied with his own Argent Sphinx and the stalemate continued.

Stepping the arms race up a gear, Unfried played a Mimic Vat and sent his Argent Sphinx , unblocked, to reduce Landoni to 16, and on his own turn Nicola Landoni equipped his own Sphinx with the Darksteel Axe and hit back, making the scores 12-16 in his favor. The Italian added a Sky-Eel School on his next turn but Unfried had the perfect answer to Landoni's growing air force - an Acid- Web Spider!

Unfried played a Soliton as the stalemate continued, while Landoni added a Grand Architect to the battlefield, swelling the strength of his blue flyers. The only thing holding the Italian back now was Unfried's Mimic Vat . Currently the Vat had no creature imprinted on it, and the Italian had to be certain that any attack would prove decisive as creatures killing each other would only aid his opponent's cause.

Calculating all the options available, Landoni chose his moment to strike - attacking with an Axe-wielding Darkslick Drake , Argent Sphinx , and Sky-Eel School . Unfried blocked as best he could with the Acid- Web and Argent Sphinx , but took five damage and was unable to kill creatures for either player so his Mimic Vat remained useless. Unfried struck back with his Soliton putting Landoni to 13, and braced himself for the next assault.

The attack never came - with Unfried having all his lands untapped Landoni was too concerned about any potential instants that could wreck his attack step - he could easily play into the hands of his opponent and the Mimic Vat . It seemed a crucial turn, handing the initiative back to Unfried. Finally with some breathing room the German used his Sylvok Replica to destroy Landoni's Perilous Myr and imprint the Myr to his Mimic Vat - that wasn't as powerful as it might first appear, though - the Mimic Vat token is Exile d at the end of turn and so doesn't trigger the Perilous Myr 's ability.

Landoni's Vedalken Certarch threatened to end the stalemate, and Unfried was forced to use a Slice in Twain on the Italian's Silver Myr just to prevent Metalcraft. Landoni pulled a Soliton to get back to two artifacts - as soon he drew a third artifact he could end the game, and Unfried flew into a frenzy of activity as he had to win before Landoni drew an artifact. The German summoned a pair of Alpha Tyrranax and sent them lumbering into the red zone. Landoni took a hefty blow and dropped to 3 life… the scores were now poised at 3 to 5!

After failing to find a third artifact again (ironically pulling a second Certarch) Landoni passed the turn. There was another attack from the Tyrannax's, and now Landoni was forced to begin chump blocking with his ground forces. The Italian finally found a third artifact, but Unfried had Stoic Rebuttal to hold him back from Metalcraft and a turn later Landoni had to concede what had been a mammoth first game!

Landoni 0 - 1 Unfried

From seeming on the the brink of defeat Unfried had manufactured an unlikely victory, but it seemed as though all his efforts were to be cancelled out in just a few turns. The German was stuck on two land, with Landoni's Vedalken Certarch tapping down his Copper Myr every turn. The German needed time to recover, but Landoni was never going to give it to him. A Darkslick Drake and Darksteel Axe upped the beatdown and the German was forced to concede - any blockers he could find would be shut down by the Certarch anyway. Inside minutes Landoni had levelled the match.

Landoni 1 - 1 Unfried

It was finally time for Jorg Unfried to take to the offensive, but he was betrayed by the mixture of Infect and non-Infect in his deck - curving out a Blight Mamba into a Neurok Invisimancer before stalling on three land and being forced to play a Cystbearer . The Invisimancer began nibbling away at Landoni while the German's Infect creatures stayed home to fend off Landoni's ground assault.

That assault was rapidly gaining momentum, though - Perilous Myr and Auriok Replica were joined by a Chrome Steed and Grand Architect , but with Unfried's Infect creatures the Italian was cautious about attacking and didn't dare hit back, instead continuig to build up further with a Trinket Mage that found his trusty Darksteel Axe .

Again failing to draw land, Unfried had only one play left - all his eggs had to go into one basket and the German played a Sword of Body and Mind , a turn later equipping it to the Invisimancer. The first hit from the Sword was parried by Landoni's Auriok Replica but the Italian couldn't hide behind that Replica a second time and was forced to go onto the offensive. Equipping his Chrome Steed with Bladed Pinions , and his Grand Architect with a Darksteel Axe , the Italian attacked but was only able to get 1 damage through.

Unfried struck back with the Invisimancer, this time the Sword of Body and Mind did it's work - Landoni was down to half his life total and half his deck! Landoni delivered another alpha strike, but with a Flight Spellbomb sending his Cystbearer skyward, and his Wall of Tanglecord having Reach, Unfried escaped almost unscathed. Buying more time Landoni played a second Auriok Replica , but so long as the German had his Wall of Tanglecord there was no sign of Landoni being able to get a decisive blow to land.

He tried his hardest, but with Unfried adding an Argent Sphinx to his blockers the Italian was thwarted again - the Invisimancer struck one more time and milled out all but one card of Landoni's library!

This really was all-or-nothing stuff. Drawing his last card Landoni knew that he had to fashion a win from somewhere, but what was the last card? It was Tempered Steel ! Would it be enough to win the game? Caution was thrown to the wind and Landoni sent everything he had across the table.

Unfried made a critical error he assumed that when Landoni's Grand Architect turned one of his artifact creature blue is stopped being an artifact creature! He blocked the way he wanted and let what he thought was 4 damage through, leaving him with 4 life left. In fact it was 8 damage and he lost the game!

Jorg Unfried was clearly furious with himself for the mistake - he knew that the whole match had hinged on it. It would be scant consolation to the German, but after 15 rounds of Magic mistakes are all too easy to make - and that's even before you factor in the pressure that is added in the final seconds of a Grand Prix quarter final. But for Landoni the great escape had succeeded, however implausibly, and another Italian progressed into the Semi Finals!

Landoni 2 - 1 Unfried

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