Quarterfinals: Brian Kibler vs. Jan Holland

Posted in Event Coverage on August 15, 2004

By Brian David-Marshall

Brian David-Marshall is a New York–based game designer who has been involved with Magic since 1994, when he started organizing tournaments and ran a Manhattan game store. Since then, he has been a judge, a player, and one of the longest-tenured columnists on DailyMTG.com, as he enters his second decade writing for the site. He is also the Pro Tour Historian and one of the commentators for the Pro Tour.
Jan Holland was an unexpected player with an even more unexpected deck. The German player came to the New York area to visit with a friend and decided to play in the conveniently scheduled Grand Prix here in "lovely" nearby Elizabeth, NJ. His deck was a cog deck with Auriok Salvagers, Spellbombs, March of the Machines, and Trinket Mages to search up tasty Engineered Explosives.

Brian Kibler is practically a fixture of Grand Prix Top 8s and the same can be said of his deck. This was his ninth such appearance for Kibler and he was piloting one of FIVE Vial Affinity decks in the Top 8 of this tournament. He was not sure what to make of the match up. "I can tell you seventy cards in any other player's deck in this tournament. I had no idea what he was playing until they showed us the deck lists. I can honestly say I have never tested against Trinket Mage." He did concede, "I have tested with it--a little. But never against it."

Game 1

Trinket Mage

Brian came out of the gate fast with Aether Vial while Jan had a Pyrite Spellbomb. Kibler had no exciting follow up and played a pair of Chromatic Spheres. Jan had a blue Spellbomb. Kibler's turn two Atog was joined by another courtesy of Aether Vila at the end of Holland's turn. Holland cycled for his fourth land to play Simulacrum.

Brian kept doing the math and after a Thoughtcast liked the sum he came up with after playing his fourth land. He sent both his Atogs and ate a land to take down the Jens. After much thought he finally passed priority with a sheepish, "Take one."

Holland untapped and now his online Aether Spellbomb would make the Togs less effective. Kibler flashed out Ravager at the end of turn and untapped to play a Disciple of the Vault through a Sphere. It was Condescended and Kibler tossed it aside. He flipped the two remaining cards in his hand incessantly--his eyes flicking over the board. He attacked and put two counters on his Ravager but Holland did not blow the Spellbomb--he was still at hearty fourteen.

Trinket Mage found Engineered Explosives which earned a "cool" from Kibler. It also killed all his stuff save two land and an Aether Vial. He recovered with another Vial, land and Arcbound Worker. Holland cycled his Spellbomb and Kibler decided to play around Pulse of the Field and mana burned for three.

"Cool" was all he could say as Auriok Salvagers brought back the Explosives and took out all three one drops on the Affinity side of the table. Kibler put out a Frogmite, "Explosives this!" Holland had a Pyrite Spellbomb and the first game of the match.

Game 2

Holland sided out Pristine Angels, Condescend, Solemn Simulacrums, and Thirst for Knowledge to bring in a package of land, Annuls, Electrostatic Bolts, and Purges. Kibler frowned, "Something tells me that you have a more established plan for side boarding this matchup than I do. Like you may have actually even play tested this match-up, am I right?"

Kibler led with Seat of the Synod and Holland drew a sigh with a Sunbeam Spellbomb A second turn Ravager was met with cycling and an Aether Spellbomb. Kibler got in for one and played Disciple and Atog. Holland was holding multiple Electrostatic Bolts in hand but lacked the red mana to fire them off.

Kibler played Aether Vial, paid a blue to draw two cards, and found Blinkmoth Nexus. He attacked with everything and sacrificed a land to the Ravager. Holland took five but had Pulse of the Field to undo most of the damage. He passed the turn back to Kibler with only a land for his efforts, he was holding the Bolts if he ever drew a Mountain. He also had a Purge and the Pulse in the wings.

Kibler played a Retriever and sent in the Tog and Disciple. Holland fell to sixteen. The Ravager was Purged EOT. Holland took one from the Disciple and Kibler mana burned to keep the Pulse from buyback. The Mountain was sitting on top of Holland's deck and he quickly played it and torched the cleric.


Kibler burned for two and attacked for two. He was down to one card in hand and when Holland played a Salvagers things looked grim for the popular Affinity player. Holland had a red and blue mana source available to either Bolt or activate his spellbomb. Kibler threw his Retriever at the Salvagers with a Shrapnel Blast and got back the Ravager that he put back into play with the Vial. When Holland said "go" Kibler burned for one. Holland tried to respond but since he had passed priority and putting mana in your pool does not yield priority he could not get it back and had to wait a turn to Bolt the Ravager.

Kibler played a Worker and Holland responded with the aforementioned Bolt. Kibler activated his Nexus and put a third counter on it. He did the Pulse math and tried to figure out how the next turns would play out. Holland was tapped out of white and could not Pulse. Kibler mana burned for three and Holland burned for one.

He untapped and played March of the Machines. Kibler declared his chances of winning were slim. Holland Bolted the Aether Vial and Brian had only the Atog and Nexus left after he bounced the Arcbound Worker--two Glimmervoids were casualties of the March as well.

Kibler replayed his Worker and Holland climbed to eleven after mana burning and Pulsing. Kibler was at twelve. Kibler attacked and played another Blinkmoth. Holland fell to five and climbed back to nine on his own turn. Kibler shrugged and decided to go for the kill while the window was still part of the way open.

He attacked with his team and activated his third Blinkmoth to make it an artifact. He sacrificed it to his Atog for +2/+2 and then sacrificed the Worker as well for another bonus and a counter on his attacking Nexus. It added up to ten and Holland feinted a bounce spell but he had nothing and it was time for the rubber game.

Game 3

Kibler glared at the cards in his deck as he revaluated his sideboard choices. "You're fired, you're fired," he informed the cards as he flipped past them.

Holland opened with Mountain while Kibler had a Seat and a Vial. His second turn was Blinkmoth Nexus, Chromatic Sphere, Vial out Arcbound Worker, and Frogmite. Holland fried the Frog with a Bolt. Holland was content to do nothing and took one from the Worker. Kibler paid full price for a Ravager and EOT Holland Bolted it. Kibler flashed out another Ravager and sacrificed the first Ravager to the new one. Holland responded with a Purge. Kibler's net result was a 3/3 Worker.

Holland had another Purge and Kibler was impressed, "I thought my draw was good." He Vialed out a Ravager on his turn and smiled. "Okay my draw was good." He also Thoughtcast but even with those two cards he was still stalled on two lands and cycled a Sphere for black mana only to play another Sphere but no third land.

Holland played a Salvagers with one card in hand and no trinkets to return. Kibler tried a Retriever the old fashioned way and it was Annulled. He did have his third land though and attacked with the Ravager. Holland chose not to block and Kibler exchanged Retrievers when he flashed one out with his Vial and munched it with his Ravager.

Holland passed the turn without a play. Kibler had a Worker and attacked on his turn. Holland stared on glumly as Kibler exchanged Retrievers again and he took three. Kibler hardcast the second Retriever. Holland earned a thumbs-up from Kibler with his Wayfarer's Bauble.

The Ravager attacked again and grew to be a 4/4.--Holland fell to ten and activated his Bauble and returned it. Kibler was able to finish him with an all out attack and Holland offered his hand in defeat to a surprised Kibler, "You're draw that game was horrendous."

Final result: Kibler narrowly escapes two games to one and advances to face Eugene Harvey in mirror match while Jeff Garza and Jeroen Remie fight one table over.

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