Round 4: Mike Pustilnik vs. Chris Pikula

Posted in Event Coverage on September 2, 2015

By Sideboard Staff

Pikula felt unhappy with the matchup. "No one plays as many counterspells as Mikey P. I lose to his deck." "Pikula's deck is the only one I beat," commented Pustilnik, leaving you and I to wonder whether that was humility or bragging.

Game 1

Pikula ended up anteing up a Sylvan Library while Pustilnik revealed a Tradewind Rider - cards of roughly equal value. Pustilnk played first and Duressed an Oath of Druids out of his opponent's hand. Pikula dropped a number of artifact mana sources, then Consulted for a Contract from Below, and cast it adding a Braingeyser to his ante pile.

Having dropped even more artifacts into play, Pikula used an Ancestral Recall to draw three more cards, leaving Pustilnik in an even worse position. Unfortunately for Pikula though, he drew nothing but more mana sources as will often happen with explosive mana decks like his. Despite being something like ten cards ahead of Pustilnik, Pikula was now in trouble. Pustilnik played nothing but lands, with several counter spells in hand. Pikula on the other hand was taking damage from his Mana Crypt.

Eventually Pustilnik cast a Stormscape Familiar, and Pikula tried to cast Flametongue Kavu to remove it and get a source of damage into play. Pustilnik tapped out to counter it. Seeing his chance, Pikula attempted to cast the second Contract from Below, but Pustilnik had a Force of Will.

Pustilnik used the Mana Drain mana (that is the counter he used to stop Flametongue Kavu) to cast Thornscape Battlemage with double kicker, removing Grim Monolith and dealing two damage to Pikula. He then played a Mishra's Factory and was now attacking for four. Pikula tried to throw away several of his lands to Firestorm the two creatures, but it was countered as well. Finally, Pikula top-decked and attempted to play a Karn, drawing the last counterspell out of Pustilnik's hand.

Pikula was very near to losing the game. He sacrificed all of his lands to Zuran Orb to stay alive. Pustilnik drew no countermagic and, a turn before dying, he drew a Timetwister! Timetwister resolved, providing Pustilnik with five lands, a Mystical Tutor, while Pikula actually got some action out of his draw. With no lands, but a ton of artifact mana sources in play, Pikula cast Armageddon. Pustilnik could do nothing but Tutor for Ancestral Recall in response, and allow the potent spell to resolve.
Although Pustilnik drew some cards off the Ancestral next turn, he had no way to stop Karn, Siver Golem this time. Pustilnik had a Seal of Cleansing in play, so Karn was no major threat - but it could animate Pikula's own Mana Crypt to get it out of the way and to stop the bleeding. Pikula cast a Demonic Tutor, getting and casting an Ancestral Recall. Once he got Pustilnik to use Seal of Cleansing on the Karn, he cast the Oath of Druids he drew off the Ancestral. Pustilnik had two Birds in play while Pikula had no creatures at all, so the game was once again looking to heavily favor the Meddling Mage.

Pustilnik used a Regrowth to recover a Seal of Cleansing and take out an Oath! Could the game swing once more? Pustilnik cast a Man-o-War bouncing his own Wall of Roots (and re-setting it since he has already put a couple of -0/-1 counters on it to generate mana). Pikula cast a Regrowth of his own, taking an Oath of Druids and putting it into play. Unfortunately for him, Pustilnik had a Monk Realist in hand. Zuran Orb kept Pikula alive for several turns, but he did not pull yet another amazing escape. Game one, to Pustilnik.

Game 2

For the second game, Pustilnik anted up a Yavimaya Coast, while Pikula was in danger of losing the more valuable Masticore. Pustilnik's Duress took out a Vampiric Tutor early on, leaving Pikula without very much to do early in the game. Pikula was holding a Wildfire, but the only artifact mana source he got out early in the game is the Worn Powerstone. Pustilnik went on to devastate his opponent's hand with Mind Twist for two, but Pikula recovered by drawing just as many cards with Stroke of Genius.

Things looked very grim for Pustilnik. He failed to play a land #4. Pikula summoned a Covetous Dragon, and Pustilnik missed another land drop. Pikula dropped a Dust Bowl and threatened to remove what little lands Pustilnik had. Pustilnik cast an Impulse but still failed to play a land for the turn.

Mishra's Helix entered play next, locking up Pustilnik's mana. He no longer had any way to win the game - but he could make sure to lose by less. Pustilnik cast several instants - Ancestral Recall and Impulse - to find a Jeweled Bird! Instead of losing a $6 value (according to InQuest) in Yavimaya Coast, he lost $2 value for Yavimaya Coast.
Although Pustilnik was ahead two Birds to one, there was no rare in his deck of value lower than $2, so the winner of the next game would take the match regardless of the ante.

Game 3

Pustilnik got a great start in the game. He played a Bird of Paradise on the first turn, a Sunscape Familiar on the second, and a . . . CROMAT on turn 3! (with a little help from Mox Emerald). Pikula's draw was no slouch either. He dropped a Grinning Totem on the following turn, and then cast a Contract from Below. Since the value of the ante did not hold much meaning in this game, the card's raw power was ever more apparent. Pikula used Mind Twist to get rid of the rest of Pustilnik's hand, then activated a Grinning Totem and spent some time looking through Pustilnik's deck for an answer to the Cromat. Pustilnik claimed that there is no good answer to Cromat available in his deck, other than possibly a Balance - which would also bring Pikula down to zero cards, and require Pikula to have white mana to cast.

Pustilnik was correct. There was no direct answer. Instead, Pikula got a Contract from Below and cast it to try and find an answer in his own deck instead. Contract did yield an answer - a Crumbling Sanctuary. Pikula played it along with a pair of Goblin Welders. Pikula's possibilities in this game were almost limitless. He could Grinning Totem against Pustilnik's deck every single turn, summon creatures out of his deck with a Citanul Flute he played, and protect his life total with a Crumbling Sanctuary. Down to zero cards in hand, Pustilnik conceded.

Final Result: Pikula $8 (Yavimaya Coast, Jeweled Bird) - Pustilnik $4 (2 Jeweled Bird)

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