by Josh Bennett
It wasn't quite Pro Tour--New York, but you wouldn't have faulted onlookers for making comparisons. Chris Pikula and Ben Rubin squared up in a near-mirror, rebel against rebel matchup, but this time with access to Standard's polychromatic lands. Rubin's deck splashed green for the incredible Aura Mutation, while Pikula went to blue for Power Sinks.
Rubin took one look at his opening hand in game one and started laying it out in piles, describing his hand as "really awful." Pikula engaged in a little good-natured schadenfreude, not maliciously, but knowing that put him at an advantage.
"Anyone who doesn't pump the fist at a mulligan is being dishonest." - Chris Pikula
As at New York, the early game was played for control of Lin-Sivvi. Rubin had first blood, actually casting the legend, but Pikula answered with Parallax Wave, wiping Rubin's board clear. On his turn, Rubin played Aura Mutation, and he wasn't just back in business, he was a capitalist's dream.
Pikula tapped four and Rubin started to scoop his creatures, but it wasn't Wrath of God, just another Wave. Pikula sent Lin-Sivvi back to the Forbidden Zone along with a Fresh Volunteers, but took damage from the Mutation tokens. Rubin cast a second Lin-Sivvi, apparently forgetting about the Wave. Pikula used it to banish the fresh legend, and now both legends were set to enter play at the same time, dooming them. Worse yet, Rubin recruited his own copy.
Rubin swung again with his Mutations and summoned a Ramosian Sky Marshal, passing the turn. Pikula's Wave vanished, taking a Mutation token along for the ride. Unfortunately for him, Rubin had a Wave of his own, and the Mutation damage had been adding up. Rubin was able to clear a path for his eight-power worth of creatures, and Pikula's next turn didn't bring anything in the way of answers.
In game two, Pikula's third-turn Lin-Sivvi earned a dejected look from Rubin. He had no play of his own and Ported Chris on his upkeep. Pikula used the Ported land to search out a Steadfast Guard and played his own Port, denying Rubin access to WW. Rubin played Dust Bowl and said go, letting Pikula's two Ports deprive him of white mana entirely. Rubin found the game's fourth Port at the top of his deck, letting him tie up one of Pikula's, play a Plains, and Wrath the board clean. He played his own Lin-Sivvi on the following turn, able to block Pikula's Defender en-Vec.
The next few turns were a pitched battle for rebel superiority. Parallax Wave was met with Aura Mutation, and that was counteracted by Wrath of God. Rubin's expression didn't give away the fact that he was out of offense. He casually dropped a topdecked Ramosian Sergeant into play. Pikula played Lin-Sivvi and seemed to be in good shape, but Rubin chained up to a Rebel Informer, putting the legend away where it wouldn't hurt him.
Time was running short, and urgency made for a frenzy of play. Pikula Wrathed again, this time following it up with Mageta, the Lion. Rubin's had a Wave and Pikula had a Disenchant, but Rubin had a spare, sending away the sweeper so he could recruit a team. He had to spend additional counters tying up Pikula's searchers, so by the time he had a significant board presence, the Wave disappeared and Mageta was back online, joined now by Lin-Sivvi. Rubin fought valiantly, but his newfound Informer couldn't hit the Lion. It knocked him to two, and then mopped up the board and swung for the killing blow.
Five minutes were all that remained for game three, both competitors playing at a lightning pace. Rubin started out of the gates with Sergeant and Volunteers. They searched out more friends, but Pikula had the Wrath.
Rubin rebuilt with Volunteers and Lin-Sivvi. Pikula answered with Mageta, but Rubin had the Parallax Wave. This time Pikula had no answer, and was swarmed by Rubin's army.
Final Result: Ben Rubin defeats Chris Pikula 2-1