by Sideboard Staff
Game one of Mike Turian against Dave Williams saw the players trading damage and life-gain. Dave has a Soul Charmer, and used a Flameshot, and a Cho-Manno's blessing to hold off Mike's dangerous looking board of Stormwatch Eagle, Rootwater Commando, and Highway Robbers. With both players reduced to only one creature in play, and a couple of cards in hand, it seemed that Dave Williams had gained the ascendancy, when he cast both a Defiant Falcon, and a Lightbringer. Mike wasn't going to roll over so easily, and he drew a Massacre before the Defiant Falcon became active. As Dave had a Plains in play, this allowed Mike to cast it for free, bouncing his Stormwatch Eagle, and using his available mana to bring out a Sailmonger. This game was real cut and thrust, however, and Dave first stabilized with a Seal of Fire and a Crossbow Infantry, and then gained the positional edge with a Ramosian Captain. Dave had quite a few rebels remaining in his deck, but not many of them fly, so Mike's Stronghold Zeppelin and Stormwatch Eagle were still a real threat. Dave found it difficult to race the flyers, as Mike played out a couple of 2/2 chump blockers, and used a Steal Strength. When Dave was down to five, Mike sealed the victory with a Jolting Merfolk, enabling him to tap both Dave's Nightwind Glider and Ramosian Captain, and attacked for the win with the Zeppelin and the Eagle.
Mike got off to a great start in game two, using Saprazzan Legate's alternative play cost on the very first turn, after Dave lead off with a Mountain. Having played this creature already was a great help, as it freed up his mana and allowed him to also play a Sailmonger, and Rethink Dave's attempted Ramosian Captain. Dave's problem was that his hand contained only land. He thought about mulliganning at the start of the game, but opted not to, thinking he would be able to draw spells. Just when the game was starting to look hopeless for him, he drew an Avatar of Fury, and already had plenty of land in play to cast it. Despite this sizeable creature, Mike's sheer volume of creatures still held Dave under massive pressure, since he was already down to ten. The Avatar thus had to hold back to block, but Mike chose not to go on an all-out attack at this point, considering that his hand of Crooked Scales, and Bog Elemental, would let him win the game in the long term. Dave had an answer for the Scales in terms of Mogg Salvage. This is one of the great things about Team Rochester Draft. As you can see exactly what cards your opponent is picking, you can put cards in the main-deck that ordinarily you would not. In this draft Dave Williams was able to pick up a Mogg Salvage, having already seen Mike get the Crooked Scales out of the second Mercadian Masques pack. Despite this, Dave just didn't have enough creatures to deal with Mike's weenie horde, and over the next two turns, Mike brought him down to one life. Dave only stayed alive for this long because of a timely Cho-Mannos's Blessing, and an Orim's Cure, but he didn't draw any answer to Mike's creatures, and swept up his cards.
Mike Turian defeats Dave Williams 2-1
It's Mike's teammate Gary Wise who got a good start in game one of his match against Bob Maher. He played out his Rathi Fiend early on, which would enable him to search out mercenaries from his deck. Bob also got out a searcher in the form of a Seahunter, but he only has four Merfolk - two Rootwater Commandos and two Darting Merfolk, which are not nearly so powerful as Gary's rebels. Despite this fact, they enabled Bob to hold to hold off Gary long enough to get out a Stronghold Zeppelin. Bob gained a large temporal advantage with a Withdraw, immediately killing a Skulking Fugitive and bouncing the Rathi Fiend. One of Bob's most powerful cards in this match is the Pit Raptor, as it's black, his spot removal has no effect, and Gary is really short on flyers, so he can't block the Raptor. When Bob drew this card it turned out to be the deciding point in the game, Gary tries to race with a Bog Smuggler, but with Bob dealing seven a turn, and Gary only two, there was only ever one winner.
Bob Maher had to mulligan twice at the start of the second game, and this turned out to be a decisive factor. Down a couple of cards, and without a single Swamp, he still managed to put up a decent resistance, until Gary drew a Defiant Falcon, allowing him to search for Rebels. Still without a Swamp and facing a growing horde of Fresh Volunteers and the like, Bob was forced to first chump block, and then concede.
Bob hoped for much better things in game three, and while Gary brought out a Seal of Doom, and a Defiant Falcon, Bob had a Darting Merfolk, and again a Pit Raptor. Gary didn't have a Rebel answer to the Pit Raptor, as Dave Williams had drafted the only Lightbringer in the draft. However, the Pit Raptor seemed to start becoming a liability, as he had to tie up four mana a turn to pay it's upkeep. In fact it was Gary who went on the offensive, bringing Bob very low on life. Bob Maher could not cast enough blockers for all of Gary's creatures whilst still maintaining the Pit Raptor in play, so he was relieved to draw a Massacre, which he could play for free with its alternate casting cost. Gary played out a couple more creatures, and used a Stronghold Discipline to bring Bob Maher down to exactly one life. An interesting situation was reached with Bob having eight lands in play, a Stormwatch Eagle, and a Pit Raptor in play. Gary had a Troubled Healer, and a Soul Charmer. When Gary attacked, both of Bob's creatures were forced to block, and without another creature in play, Bob had to sacrifice a land to bounce his Stormwatch Eagle back to his hand. Even though Gary had to sacrifice three land to keep both of his creatures, Bob didn't draw a land on the next turn, and with the Pit Raptor tying up four of his land, he couldn't recast the Stormwatch Eagle, and died.
Gary Wise beat Bob Maher 2-1
These results meant that the Scott Johns - Justin Gary match was irrelevant in terms of the match result, but there was still a lot of pride to play for.
Scott used a Mercadian Atlas early in the first game to gain large card advantage, but a Woodripper dealt with it before it became too much of a problem, and it also dealt with a Crenellated Wall. Justin gained further card advantage when Scott dubiously put all of his eggs in one basket, enchanting his Saber Ants with a Tiger Claws and Laccolith Rig. Justin used a single removal spell to deal with this threat, and killed Scott with a giant Battlefield Percher. The Percher had been on the table for some time, but it was only when Justin drew a Calming Verse that he was able to deal with Scott's Spidersilk Armor and attack for the win.
Justin's start in game two was amazing. Quite a few players in Constructed tournaments would be happy with playing a turn two Vine Trellis, a turn three Blastoderm, and a turn four Thresher Beast, but this is exactly what Justin did in this game. With Scott Johns in an almost untenable position, both of his teammates finished their matches, and Scott conceded as his match was no longer so important.
Justin Gary beat Scott Johns 2-0
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