Round 2:
Soldiers and Standoffs

Posted in Event Coverage on February 15, 2013

By Mike Rosenberg

Mike Rosenberg is a writer and gamer and has been part of the Magic text coverage team since 2011. He joined Wizards as organized play’s content specialist in June 2014.

Ben Friedman vs. Grgur Petric Maretic (Draft)

Robert Jurkovic vs. Denniz Rachid (Draft)

When it comes to talking about Gatecrash Booster Draft, speed is one of the subjects that often comes up. With the aggressive Boros guild available to players, and given how quickly creatures with evolve can get out of control in one or two turns, it's no wonder players here at Pro Tour Gatecrash value fast hands, where players are able to make as much impact on the battlefield as they can early.

However, things can slow down, and that's where the more expensive cards in the format truly shine. Boros has speedy starts, but its creatures are often small. Creatures like Crocanura can evolve to large proportions very quickly, but ofentimes it can be unsafe to attack into an opposing army.

You can see how these standoffs play out in the second round's feature match between Ben Friedman, gold-level pro player from the USA with a Top 32 finish from Pro Tour Philadelphia 2011 to his name, and Grgur Petric Maretic, three-time Croatia National Champion who recently reached the Quarterfinals in the 2012 World Magic Cup with his Croatian teammates. While Friedman is representing Boros, Petric Maretic is bringing Gruul to the table, featuring creatures that are hard to attack through with a splash of white for some needed removal.

Ben Friedman's Boros and Grgur Petric Maretic's Gruul with a white splash face off, showing how a fast format packed with deadly creatures can grind to a halt, where the first player to blink loses.

Friedman's creatures are fast but small, while Petric Maretic has some creatures that were great at handling ground forces. How will each player break through the creatures standoffs that are sure to come?

Let's find out!

Game 1

Petric Maretic was content with his opening seven, while Friedman shipped his hand back. Petric Maretic was first to act with Disciple of the Old Ways, while Friedman had Wojek Halberdiers. Slaughterhorn led for Petric Maretic's turn three, who passed with only green and white mana as his lands.

Friedman, unwilling to trade, played Sunhome Guildmage and passed back. Petric Maretic's creatures were sent in, as the Halberdiers traded with Slaughterhorn and Friedman fell to 18. Ember Beast followed as Petric Maretic passed back.

Friedman, looking at Petric Maretic's board, passed with four open and his Guildmage active. Attacks dropped Friedman to 13, as Petric Maretic followed with Towering Thunderfist. Friedman made a soldier at the end of Petric Maretic's turn with Sunhome Guildmage, and it was given a Holy Mantle, allowing Friedman to defend against Petric Maretic's giants with ease. It didn't stop the Croatian player from swinging in, as Friedman blocked the Thunderfist with his mantle-wearing token, falling to 10. Boros Keyrune followed by Pit Fight disposed of Sunhome Guildmage before Friedman got to his next turn.

Friedman untapped and played Urbis Protector. The angel token it made attacked the next turn, as Petric Maretic's ground forces were halted by the soldier token wielding Holy Mantle. Friedman followed his attack with Millennial Gargoyle and Bomber Corps, while Petric Maretic continued to pass, seemingly out of gas, the ground clogged up with creatures, and Friedman's fliers slowly knocking him out of the first game.

Friedman flies into battle with his angel token.

The two fliers swung in, dropping Petric Maretic to 10. Petric Maretic cast Rust Scarab and passed, using a second Pit Fight to take out the 4/4 angel on Friedman's upkeep, who attacked with the Gargoyle, bringing Petric Maretic one turn away from being down agame. Petric Maretic sent his creatures in, and when Friedman made the appropriate blocks, Petric Maretic picked up his cards.

Friedman 1, Petric Maretic 0

Game 2

Both players were quick to throw their opening hands back. "My hand was good, but I just can't play anything before turn four," said Petric. "That's not where you want to be against Boros."

"Mine was the ol' four Mountain special," said Friedman, whose decision to mulligan was just as easy.

Gyre Sage

Petric's six card hand warranted a debate, but he ultimately chose to keep, as he led off with Gyre Sage. Friedman had a second-turn Wojek Halberdiers, while Petric built an evolving force with Crocanura, his Gyre Sage growing to 2/3. The Halberdiers attacked, but Petric added Ember Beast to evolve his creatures, attacking in for 5. Friedman kept up the attacks, but his Warmind Infantry that followed was a tad smaller than what Petric had available. Millennial Gargoyle gave Petric a flier, as Gyre Sage and Ember Beast dropped Friedman to 9.

Friedman thought long and hard before using Act of Treason on Crocanura, giving him some battalion if he wanted. Interestingly, he sent in just Wojek Halberdiers and Crocanura instead. The Millennial Gargoyle jumped in the way of the Halberdiers, and Shielded Passage let the Halberdiers survive, as Petric dropped to 12.

But it ultimately did not matter. Petric's attacks dropped Friedman to 3, and Cinder Elemental post combat sealed the deal, as Friedman had no way to deal 12 damage with only two creatures in play in a single turn.

Friedman 1, Petric Maretic 1

Game 3

The Wojek Halberdiers came down as the first play of the final game for Friedman, as Petric Maretic fired back with Greenside Watcher. The Boros creature was joined by Sunhome Guildmage, while Petric Maretic had Crocanura on the third turn. Friedman passed on turn four with mana open for his Guildmage, which he used when all Petric Maretic had was Millennial Gargoyle.

Another Wojek Halberdiers and Bomber Corps joined Friedman's growing army, while Petric Maretic exiled Sunhome Guildmage with Angelic Edict. Friedman went through the possible options, and ultimately decided to use Bomber Corps to deal a point to Crocanura. Petric Maretic played it safe, trading his Greenside Watcher for the Bomber Corps as he fell to 14. Knight Watch followed, netting Friedman two 2/2 soldiers. Towering Thunderfist followed, evolving Crocanura to a 3/5, as play passed back to Friedman, who cast another Bomber Corps before passing.

Petric Maretic grinds the game to a halt before the Boros legion pushes through for the final damage. But can he hold out against Friedman's final tricks?

The Thunderfist got vigilant, attacking for 4 unimpeded, as Petric Maretic followed with Slaughterhorn. Friedman looked at the board, and then played and immediately attacked with Spark Trooper,bringing Friedman to 22 and Petric Maretic to 8.

Ghor-Clan Rampager evolved Crocanura to a 4/6, as he sported a sizable board against Friedman's Boros army. Madcap Skills on one of the Wojek Halberdiers warranted a Pit Fight from Petric Maretic, stopping the creature in its tracks. However, it was only bait, as Holy Mantle was thrown on a 2/2 soldier token. Now that the vigilant soldier token gained bonus power and protection from creatures, Friedman sent it in, breaking the stalemate of ground creatures while giving him an impenetrable wall to defend with.

When Petric Maretic's deck offered no answer to the Holy Mantle, his options already used up, Petric Maretic extended the hand. Holy Mantle gave Friedman's creatures the extra push they needed to be able to get through the giants played against his army.

Friedman 2, Petric Maretic 1

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