Quarterfinals – Conley Wood vs. Conrad Kolos

Posted in Event Coverage on November 20, 2010

By Bill Stark

Headed into Grand Prix—Nashville, Conley Woods had publicly stated he wanted a big finish to help propel his final tally of Pro Points for the year. Well, with a Top 8 he got the finish he was looking for. His opponent in the Quarterfinals, Conrad Kolos, was having quite a year himself. A member of the U.S. National team, he was hoping the extra Pro Points he would be getting from the team competition at Worlds would combine with his performance in Nashville to mean big things for his Pro level in 2011.

Conley Wood

Kolos started aggressively with a Plague Stinger, but his opponent opened on Origin Spellbomb and Glint Hawk Idol. An Ichorclaw Myr soon joined forces with his Stinger, indicating he was playing the black-green infect deck many have deemed the most powerful in the Scars of Mirrodin draft format. Conrad began attacking with the artifact 1/1, too afraid to run his Stinger into his opponent's Glint Hawk Idol.

Cystbearer for the infect player was answered by Chrome Steed from Woods, who appeared to be playing red-white metalcraft, also a powerful strategy in Scars limited. The Steed took out Ichorclaw Myr at the cost of three -1/-1 counters, and a Tel-Jilad Fallen from Conrad threatened tough times for Conley who was potentially unable to block the creature with protection from artifacts.

Auriok Edgewright with metalcraft active turned the tides back in favor of Team Conley. The powerful double striker forced Conrad to keep his team at bay, unable to attack through for fear of being taken out at no gain by his opponent's blocker. Conley felt so confident in his board position that he equipped the Edgewright with Darksteel Axe a turn later and began serving with it. Kolos cast Heavy Arbalest and soon had it equipped to his infect creatures. It was a powerful card for his creatures, able to directly hand off -1/-1 counters to his opponent's creatures without having to go through the pain of attacking or blocking.

The Arbalest slowed Conley down, forcing him to carefully consider combat each turn. He made a move with Auriok Sunchaser and his Auriok Edgewright, still equipped with Darksteel Axe, and sent Kolos into the tank to figure out the right blocks. He opted to block with Cystbearer, then before first strike damage activated the 2/3's Arbalest ability to make his opponent's creature tiny. That meant the Cystbearer was able to finish the Edgewright off, but Conrad fell to 3 from his opponent's flyer.

A second Chrome Steed for Woods as well as a Kemba's Skyguard meant he could still keep his opponent on the back foot, and Conrad desperately tried to grind his way back to parity. He cast Blight Mamba and equipped his Arbalest for the third turn in a row, but when he passed back Conley found Turn to Slag to two-for-one the Cystbearer that had picked up the equipment. In response his opponent used the Arbalest to bump Conley's poison total up to five.

The play put Conrad in a position to steal a win. With Blight Mamba and Tel-Jilad Fallen left on the battlefield, he had a slim out. The Tel-Jilad Defiance in his hand would allow him to give his Blight Mamba protection from artifacts meaning Conley would only have a single blocker (the rest of his creatures being artifacts) for Conrad's two potential attackers. If he managed to draw a land, Untamed Might, also in his hand, would pump whichever creature Conley didn't block for exactly enough to put Woods to 10 poison.

Conrad drew, then drew again from his cantrip Defiance. He got there! He played the extra land, then turned his team sideways. Conley blocked his opponent's 3/1, but had to allow Blight Mamba through. "You got it?" The pro asked, worried about his fate.

Conrad Kolos

Conrad quietly tapped his mana and showed his opponent the X-spell.

Conrad Kolos 1, Conley Woods 0

A Darksteel Axe on Conley's first turn allowed him to cast a second-turn Glint Hawk while bouncing and re-casting the Axe. That meant on turn three he was attacking for 4 in the air. His opponent had cast Ichorclaw Myr and was busy trying to accrue poison counters on Woods. Auriok Edgewright and Auriok Sunchaser hit the board for Woods' aggressive deck, and Kolos found himself significantly out-creatured on the table.

Skinrender for Kolos changed tempo quickly. He used the 3/3 to blow up his opponent's Hawk, adding a beefy body to help him block on the ground for free. That forced Conley to go on the defensive, casting a Myrsmith but passing, his deck out of gas. Ichorclaw Myr continued getting in for Conrad, with Conley too afraid to trade multiple creatures for the 1/1 in the red zone.

A Glint Hawk Idol for Woods allowed him to hit metalcraft with some help from Myrsmith, and that meant his Edgewright and Sunchaser were fully active. He equipped Darksteel Axe to the Sunchaser and began attacking in the sky. Conrad cast Carrion Call, Plague Stinger, and Heavy Arbalest to help push the final points of infect damage through, but it was looking as though Conley might manage to stabilize.

When Strata Scythe showed up for Woods, his odds of winning increased significantly. He cast it and attacked with Glint Hawk Idol and his Sunchaser. Kolos did a quick check of the life totals, both traditional and poison, then chump-blocked with his Plague Stinger. A turn later, Conrad traded his Ichorclaw Myr for his opponent's Auriok Edgewright after attacking, then he equipped an Insect token.

"Man, Heavy Arbalest is insane for you," Conley commented.

Conley attempted to equip Strata Scythe to his Sunchaser, but his opponent responded with a Heavy Arbalest activation targeting the creature. Woods was ready: he cast Soul Parry to counter, then showed the math that made his Auriok Sunchaser exactly lethal.

The players headed to the third game.

Conrad Kolos 1, Conley Woods 1

A Plague Stinger from Conrad was countered by Origin Spellbomb into Glint Hawk from Conley Woods, an archetype-defining showdown for the Scars format. Conrad used an Untamed Might to attack his Stinger through the Hawk, keeping his 1/1 alive. "Got another one for you!" Conley said as he spent his third turn casting Kemba's Skyguard, another flyer to keep the Stinger contained.

Corpse Cur, recurring nothing, hit for the infect player and the play meant Conrad had to keep his Stinger home for a turn. He didn't have to wait long to start attacking again, however, as he bravely sent his Cur to the red zone a turn later. Conley didn't seem impressed with the play, taking two poison and threatening an attack back. Before he could, Kolos cast a Sylvok Replica and immediately used it while his opponent was tapped out to blow up an Origin Spellbomb.

A Soul Parry allowed Conley to take out the Corpse Cur a turn later, but Conrad regrew it with a second copy of the 2/2. If Woods wanted to win, he'd need to do so quickly. To that end he cast Darksteel Axe and Barbed Battlegear, allowing him to attack for 4 with an Auriok Sunchaser wearing Sylvok Lifestaff.

As it had been for the entire match, the game's pace continued to go back and forth. A Bladed Pinions and Contagious Nim put Conrad right back into things and sent his opponent back into the tank, trying to figure out how he could pressure through with enough damage to win. He started by equipping his Sunchaser with his Barbed Battlegear and sending it sideways. The 8/2 was chumped by Plague Stinger, and post-combat Woods cast a Strata Scythe.

"You have no cards in hand?" Conrad confirmed, Woods answering in the affirmative that all his tricks were all on the battlefield.

He attacked with Corpse Cur and Contagious Nim to put Conley to eight poison counters. Post-combat he cast Corpse Cur to fetch back Plague Stinger, then cast the 1/1. His board was covered with creatures, including enough to protect him from an attack back. That meant the onus was on Woods to stay alive, and he cast the Chrome Steed he had drawn and passed, unable to attack.

Conrad sent with the team and decimated his opponent's board. When the smoke cleared, Kolos had Plague Stinger and Contagious Nim while Conley had a 2/2 Chrome Steed and a board full of equipment. Post-combat Kolos had Cystbearer and it looked very grim for Conley's nine poison counters. He drew his card for the turn but found Turn to Slag, which was no help, and extended his hand.

Conrad Kolos 2, Conley Woods 1

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