Semifinals: Brian Braun-Duin (Blue-Red Twin) vs. Joseph Reiter (Hangarback Affinity)

Posted in Event Coverage on September 13, 2015

By Adam Styborski

Stybs has played Magic the world over, writing and drafting as part of the event coverage team and slinging Commander everywhere his decks will fit.

The two-time Grand Prix champion Brian Braun-Duin punched another ticket to the Pro Tour. Using his Silver invitation to attend Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar, he now had Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch lined up too. As one of top contenders on the Open Series he was a constant threat in every event he played.

It was time for him to add a third Grand Prix to his resume.

For Joseph Reiter, it was his first Grand Prix Top 8 but presumably not his last. After making Top 50 at Grand Prix Omaha he put on a performance that earned him the ability to draw into the Top 8 here. A win would catapult his career and put him firmly into the Magic spotlight.

He just had to fight through two more opponents to do it.

The Decks

Braun-Duin's Blue-Red Splinter Twin deck was a stalwart of the format. Capable of a fourth turn win against the unwary or unprepared, the deck is much better than it's namesake Splinter Twin-meets-Deceiver Exarch duo. With Snapcaster Mage and a suite of answers ranging from Dispel and Lightning Bolt to Remand and Cryptic Command, the deck can hold its own against anything in the field, at least long enough to set up its deadly combo.

Affinity was the first choice for Reiter this weekend. Unable to put together a Grixis Control or Grixis Splinter Twin deck he liked. Choosing Affinity as a failsafe clearly wasn't wrong as his Hangarback Walker-inclusive version provided him the power to cut through to the Top 4. Cranial Plating, Arcbound Ravager and other usual suspects were rounded out with a full complement of Galvanic Blasts. Holding onto metalcraft would be crucial to keep the threat of Deceiver Exarch away.

The Games

Reiter led off his first turn with Blinkmoth Nexus and Memnite, Ornithopter, Vault Skirge and Mox Opal. Braun-Duin's Twisted Image cleared the Ornithopter, but Reiter followed up with Arcbound Ravager. After letting Reiter attack, Braun-Duin used Lightning Bolt to force the +1/+1 counter on Ravager over to Vault Skirge.

Springleaf Drum into another Arcbound Ravager was next for Reiter, though an Electrolyze killed the Skirge before it could land. Deceiver Exarch to untap a land and cast Roast was Braun-Duin's return move, and Reiter answered by sacrificing his second Ravager and Springleaf Drum to put two +1/+1 counters on his Memnite.

Galvanic Blast with metalcraft killed the Exarch, but when Reiter attacked with his 3/3, Braun-Duin's Vendilion Clique jumped in to block.

Joseph Reiter kept a close eye on what Brian Braun-Duin was up to in each game.

Now stabilized, Braun-Duin uased a flurry of defensive spells like Remand, as well as Desolate Lighthouse, to begin digging into his deck. Reiter began a plan of activating Inkmoth Nexus and attacking with Signal Pest. Snapcaster Mage for Electrolyze answered that angle for Braun-Duin, but Reiter's comeback with Etched Champion was a tougher.

Splinter Twin on Snapcaster Mage helped Braun-Duin by giving him access to his graveyard, and he protected the Mage with Cryptic Command from Reiter's Galvanic Blast. By making a token during Reiter's end step, Braun-Duin was able to keep the Twin token around to attack.

The game seemed firmly in Braun-Duin's hands, but the Etched Champion was ahead on the race. He fell to 6 life on Reiter's next turn.

Using Cryptic Commands from his graveyard, Braun-Duin bought more time and cards, looking for another Splinter Twin to compliment his Deceiver Exarch. With a turn with Reiter tapped out of colored mana Braun-Druin was open to cast Cryptic Command from the graveyard and return the Splinter Twin on Snapcaster Mage to his hand the game appeared over, but he missed the line of attack. Instead using his Snapcaster Mage to dig and draw into his deck, he tapped tapped low and was unable to defend it against the third Galvanic Blast of the game.

Reiter cast Hangarback Walker with four mana, and Braun-Duin fell to 5 life from a Scalding Tarn then used his Twin Mage to Remand from the Graveyard, then cast Electrolyze against Reiter's life after falling to 3 from the Etched Champion's attack.

What was he up to? He untapped for his turn with a new plan. “I'm good. I think this is it,” Braun-Duin said firmly. “Lightning Bolt you.”

He cast the first Lightning Bolt from his hand. Snapcaster Mage brought one Lightning Bolt back. A second Splinter Twin in hand for the copy of Snapcaster Mage just made added another to grab another Lightning Bolt. Then, finally, two more Lightning Bolts from his hand – five total cast that turn – brought Reiter's life total to 0.

“That was a crazy game. I never Splinter Twined a copy of Snapcaster Mage before,” Braun-Duin said.

Brian Braun-Duin was able to recover from missing one way to victory by finding another.

The second game was a slower start for Reiter: just Springleaf Drum and Inkmoth Nexus to lead off. Braun-Duin massaged his hand with Serum Visions before Reiter made Arcbound Ravager.

Roast forced Reiter to put a +1/+1 counter on Inkmoth Nexus, and Rieter attacked with his infectious land. Master of Etherium was next before Reiter tried to attack, but Braun-Duin tapped the Inkmoth. Braun-Duin then untapped to add a second source of red mana – Mountain – and Splinter Twin to victory on the fourth turn.

Tapped out, Reiter extended his hand.

“It was a good run,” friend from the gallery said to Reiter.

“Congrats on making Top 4,” Braun-Duin offered.

“Thanks, as long as you kick the next guy,” Reiter said. Braun-Duin nodded in agreement.

Brain Braun-Druin defeated Joseph Reiter in two games, and advanced to the finals of Grand Prix Oklahoma City.

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