Round 6: Notional Value

Posted in Event Coverage on December 31, 1969

By Bill Stark

As recent Hall of Fame inductee Zvi Mowshowitz sat down to square off against Japanese standout Ryo Ogura he offered up an odd look and said, "That was the weirdest Lorwyn draft I've done so far, and I've done some spicy ones." The former Your Moves Game member is sitting on 12 points, as is his opponent, and both were in good positions headed down the home stretch of Day 1 competition. Ryo, who has two Pro Tour Top 8s in addition to playing the Grand Prix single elimination rounds six times, won the die roll and opted to play first.

Game 1

Ogura was first on the board of play with a turn two Kithkin Daggerdare. His opponent, who had led with Mountain, pondered his response to the 1/1 Kithkin before playing an Island and a Smokebraider and passing. Wizened Cenn from Ogura meant the Daggerdare got in for 2, putting Zvi to 18. When he had the turn back Zvi made a sour face after considering his options before playing Flamekin Bladewhirl revealing Amoeboid Changeling, then playing the blue two-drop. Apparently two creatures in one turn wasn't enough for Mowshowitz, facing down superior threats from his opponent.

After getting the turn back, Ogura considered his options before sending in just his Wizened Cenn. Without hesitating Zvi declared no blocks then asked whether his opponent would pump with the Daggerdare. He did not, instead opting to play Kithkin Harbinger searching up Kinsbaile Balloonist. At the end of the turn Ryo led 20–16 with Kithkin Harbinger, Wizened Cenn, Goldmeadow Harrier, and Kithkin Daggerdare to Zvi's Amoeboid Changeling, Flamekin Bladewhirl, and Smokebraider.

Zvi went into the tank to kick off his fourth turn. His opponent was quickly overwhelming him, but Smokebraider ensured he had plenty of mana with which to maneuver. The question was whether or not he had the action in his hand to capitalize and, judging by the expression on his face, he did not.

Of course, you don't get into the Hall of Fame by broadcasting the contents of your hand all the time and after some consideration Zvi tapped each of his lands and Smokebraider to play Æthersnipe, bouncing Ogura's Wizened Cenn before passing the turn. Now it was Ryo's time to think, and he ran through a multitude of options before making his play: Kinsbaile Balloonist and pass with no attack. After some consideration Zvi sent his Æthersnipe into the red zone, putting the life totals at 16-all. Post combat he made a Consuming Bonfire which dealt with Ryo's flyer. Unfortunately for Zvi Ogura drew a second copy, played it, and passed the turn, though he missed a fifth land drop that would have allowed him to activate his Goldmeadow Harrier on Zvi's turn.

Zvi simply re-attacked with his 4/4 Æthersnipe, putting things at 16-12 in his favor, before passing the turn back to his opponent with no play. Ryo tried a pre-combat Wizened Cenn but Zvi indicated a hold on the game to consider a possible counter. Eventually he did exactly that using Familiar's Ruse to return his Æthersnipe and stop the Kithkin lord from hitting play, though he had no blockers for the Balloonist and Daggerdare which flew thanks to its 2/2 compatriot.

Instead Zvi used his turn to re-Snipe, bouncing the Balloonist. That left Ryo re-playing his 2/2, then passing with a Plains up so he could tap down the 4/4 Æthersnipe during Zvi's combat step. After he had done exactly that Zvi played a second copy, again bouncing the Balloonist, and the board stood at 2 Æthersnipe, 2 Smokebraider, Flamekin Bladewhirl, and Amoeboid Changeling for Zvi while Ryo battled back with Kithkin Greatheart, Goldmeadow Harrier, Kithkin Harbinger, and Kithkin Daggerdare. The Japanese player was starting to fall behind on the board, but his Harrier was going a long ways towards keeping him in things.

Zvi moved to his combat step which Ryo stifled with a Harrier tap targeting one of the Æthersnipes but the second got through for 4 putting the totals 13–8 in Zvi's favor. Post-combat he tapped a Mountain and two Smokebraiders to play... Horde of Notions? The odd gold card drew chuckles from the audience and merited a quick reading from Ryo who, like most Magic players, had probably never faced down the card in sanctioned play. He wasn't quite out of it yet, however, as he made a Mirror Entity which threatened to be a real big problem when combined with his Balloonist. With Zvi having no blockers for flying creatures, a single untap and attack with the Balloonist and any other creature could yield up to two 7/7s coming Zvi's way.

What the hall of famer did have was tricks. He used Horde of Notions' activated ability to play an Elemental card from his graveyard for free. The Elemental card he played? The Consuming Bonfire he had cast earlier in the game to kill the original Kinsbaile Balloonist. The play seemed to catch everyone off guard, including Ogura, who had no choice but to take the targeted Mirror Entity and place it in the graveyard. His draw step yielded no help, and he conceded to the American's superior board presence.

Mowshowitz 1, Ogura 0

During sideboarding Zvi gave a giggle and, presumably talking about his Horde, said something about "making the most of what you've got..."

Game 2

In the second game Ryo led things off with Mosswort Bridge for his first turn, putting a Kithkin Harbinger on layaway for future use. He followed up with a turn-two Woodland Changeling which Zvi answered with a Shimmering Grotto filtered to blue for Ponder. Not satisfied with what he saw, he opted to shuffle his deck in hopes of finding more action. Ogura wasn't about to make things easy on him, however, following his first changeling with a second on turn three, albeit of the Avian variety. Zvi had only a Mountain before passing but showed why on Ryo's attack step with a Lash Out targeting the Avian Changeling. Winning the clash, Mowshowitz also got a free Lava Spike before putting a clash-revealed Fire-Belly Changeling on the bottom of his deck. At the end of the turn the totals stood 17–16 in favor of the player from Japan whose board consisted of Kithkin Daggerdare and Woodland Changeling.

Zvi was still searching for a blue source. He tapped all four of his lands to filter a blue mana and evoke Mulldrifter but, out of mana for the turn, he had to pass. Fortunately for him Ryo looked to be out of gas as well, simply attacking for 4 with his Woodland Changeling and a Daggerdare pump before passing with no additional commitments to the board. Zvi meanwhile had managed to hit the Island he was looking for, using a Consuming Bonfire to deal 7 to target Treefolk (the Woodland Changeling) before passing the turn. Ogura failed to draw anything of relevance and passed back after a land, apparently severely manaflooded. Zvi was happy to take advantage by playing Sunrise Sovereign and all of a sudden it looked like Mowshowitz had managed to stabilize.

A Tar Pitcher from Zvi gave him a dominating board position while Ryo drew a Plains and sighed exasperatedly. He started doing some calculations, perhaps to see how many turns he might have before he was completely out of it, then passed the turn back to the American. On his turn Zvi had just enough mana to filter in a Horde of Notions which, because it had haste, turned sideways and joined the Sunrise Sovereign in the red zone. Ryo considered the board for a moment, then graciously extended the hand, but not before the table judge corrected Mowshowitz, reminding him that the odd 5/5 also had vigilance and needn't have tapped to attack.

Mowshowitz 2, Ogura 0

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