These players have been seeing a lot of each other this weekend. They met in the first round of the Team competition and Tuomo Nieminen eliminated Gabe Walls from the Top 8 prior to the start of this draft. This was the third time Gabe and Tuomo would face off in less than twenty-four hours.
Yesterday's draft went slightly in the Finn's favor but Justin pulled out a stunning win when his opponent had lethal damage on the stack. He used a Skirk Alarmist to flip up an off color Frontline Strategist and steal Game 2 from Arho Toikka. The American took Game 3. Gabe Walls had dropped two straight to Tuomo and the match came down to a National Champions battle.
They took it to Game 3 but Joshua Wagener could not finish Tomi Walamies off and the rubber game ended in a draw. That was all forgotten by the time they sat down for the draft. The topic of discussion was Tuomo and Gabe's five game struggle that had just reached it's conclusion. Gabe was commenting on his opponent's luck prompting a laugh from his teammates. "He had ten cards left to find a Wake and a green source," Justin agreed with sarcasm. "How lucky."
Onslaught Pack One
|Tomi Walamies||Callous Oppressor||Airborne Aid||Elvish Pathcutter|
|Tuomo Nieminen||Grassland Crusader||Disciple of Grace||Seaside Haven|
|Justin Gary||Elvish Warrior||Forgotten Cave||Syphon Mind|
|Joshua Wagener||Centaur Glade||Walking Desecration|
|Gabe Walls||Pacifism||Profane Prayers|
|Arho Toikka||Birchlore Rangers||Goblin Sledder|
Tomi has tended to put blue-black in the B-seat all weekend and there was no question that he would pick the Cephalid. The Finns gestured to ignore the Glade—there are enough disenchant effects that you can snap up in this format that it should not be too powerful as a rule. Tuomo wanted to take the Pacifism but Tomi insisted that he take the Grassland Crusader instead.
Onslaught Pack Two
|Tuomo Nieminen||Infest||Fade from Memory||Elvish Pioneer|
|Justin Gary||Snarling Undorak||Heedless One||Brightstone Ritual|
|Joshua Wagener||Swat||Nosy Goblin||Sea's Claim|
|Gabe Walls||Future Sight||Sandskin|
|Arho Toikka||Treespring Lorian||Birchlore Ranger|
|Tomi Walamies||Anurid Murkdiver||Mage's Guile|
This pack earned a whistle from just about everyone at the table over Future Sight and Infest. After some hesitation, the Finns decided they would prefer to have the black Pyroclasm—even if just to keep it away from the Americans. Again, they could track where the enchantment was going and try to draft answers.
Onslaught Pack Three
|Justin Gary||Wirewood Savage||Wave of Indifference||Goblin Sky Raider|
|Joshua Wagener||Infest||Barren Moor||Shepherd of Rot|
|Gabe Walls||Aven Brigadier||Slipstream Eel||Sea's Claim|
|Arho Toikka||Spitting Gourna||Wellwisher|
|Tomi Walamies||Searing Flesh||Shieldmage Elder|
|Tuomo Nieminen||Gustcloak Harrier||Piety Charm|
Tomi defensively drafted a Searing Flesh but when Justin Gary got a Wave of Indifference on the twelfth pick the Finnish team realized they had made a mistake. Searing Flesh would be bad for him if his opponent went black-red but he was not paying attention to Arho's match-up. Arho picked up two key cards but probably should have given up one of them to not only keep Justin from the Wave but to have it for himself.
Onslaught Pack Four
|Joshua Wagener||Cruel Revival||Aether Charge||Crafty Pathmage|
|Gabe Walls||Pinpoint Avalanche||Information Dealer||Airborne Aid|
|Arho Toikka||Krosan Tusker||Windswept Heath||Break Open|
|Tuomo Nieminen||Wirewood Pride||Daru Healer|
|Justin Gary||Festering Goblin||Doubtless One|
In the same way that enchantments are less powerful because all the picks are public certain tribal cards are affected as well. Justin's Wirewood Savage was especially insane because his opponent had already selected a couple of beasts. Similarly, last packs Aven Brigadier becomes a dicier card to play when your opponent gets to pick a bird soldier with his next pick. More subtle is the Cruel Revival followed by Imagecrafter. Tomi loves the little guy and Joshua would have a tough time banishing anything with the wizard on the table.
Onslaught Pack Five
|Gabe Walls||Choking Tethers||Taunting Elf||False Cure|
|Arho Toikka||Elven Riders||Heedless One||Spy Network|
|Tomi Walamies||Cabal Archon||Haunted Cadaver||Syphon Mind|
|Tuomo Nieminen||Grassland Crusader||Charging Slateback|
|Justin Gary||Wirewood Pride||Daru Lancer|
|Joshua Wagener||Barren Moor||Crown of Suspicions|
Gabe Walls had made a move toward blue red in the last pack when he selected the Pinpoint Avalanche. His best white card was Aven Brigadier and it might not be playable in the soldier mirror. Justin loves to play Wirewood Pride in the mirror when it counts his opponent's elves as well. With both players potentially running Heedless Ones it could be important.
Onslaught Pack Six
|Arho Toikka||Snarling Undorak||Leery Fogbeast||Goblin Taskmaster|
|Tomi Walamies||Mistform Shrieker||Cabal Slaver||Ixidor's Will|
|Tuomo Nieminen||Swat||Ancestor's Prophet||Overwhelming Instinct|
|Justin Gary||Vitality Charm||Sage Aven|
|Joshua Wagener||Severed Legion||Misery Charm|
|Gabe Walls||Pacifism||Daunting Defender|
Legions Pack One
|Arho Toikka||Krosan Vorine||Voidmage Apprentice||Wall of Hope|
|Gabe Walls||Aven Warhawk||Goblin Grappler||Defiant Elf|
|Joshua Wagener||Toxin Sliver||Needleshot Gourna||Dark Supplicant|
|Justin Gary||Flamewave Invoker||Brontotherium|
|Tuomo Nieminen||Daru Stinger||Vile Deacon|
|Tomi Walamies||Embalmed Brawler||Covert Operative|
With two Pacifisms and an Aven Warhawk it was looking like Gabe was sticking with white. Opinions are divided over which card is better but Gabe falls squarely on the Warhawk's side. He does not especially like the Stinger unless his has an overload of soldiers but the Warhawk is fine even if you just amplify for one.
Legions Pack Two
|Gabe Walls||Daru Stinger||Voidmage Apprentice||Fugitive Wizard|
|Joshua Wagener||Smokespew Invoker||Defiant Elf||Goblin Assassin|
|Justin Gary||Krosan Vorine||Goblin Grappler||Blade Sliver|
|Tuomo Nieminen||Aven Redeemer||Celestial Gatekeeper|
|Tomi Walamies||Embalmed Brawler||Spectral Sliver|
|Arho Toikka||Hundroog||Patron of the Wild|
Considering Gabe's previous statements regarding the Stinger it was surprising to see him take one and push the Aven Redeemer—a bird cleric—to Tuomo's growing team of clerics.
Legions Pack Three
|Joshua Wagener||Corpse Harvester||Berserk Murlodont||Wall of Hope|
|Justin Gary||Flamewave Invoker||Warbreak Trumpeter||Defiant Elf|
|Tuomo Nieminen||Sootfeather Flock||Krosan Vorine||Mistform Sliver|
|Tomi Walamies||Spectral Sliver||Goblin Turncoat|
|Arho Toikka||Elvish Soultiller||Needleshot Gourna|
|Gabe Walls||Covert Operative||Starlight Invoker|
Legions Pack Four
|Justin Gary||Timberwatch Elf||Crookclaw Elder||Hunter Sliver|
|Tuomo Nieminen||Aven Warhawk||Macetail Hystrodon||Goblin Firebug|
|Tomi Walamies||Echo Tracer||Phage, the Untouchable||Cephalid Pathmage|
|Arho Toikka||Canopy Crawler||Crested Craghorn|
|Gabe Walls||Aven Redeemer||Gempalm Avenger|
|Joshua Wagener||Gempalm Polluter||Vile Deacon|
Justin's elves outnumbered his beasts but even so, there is no contest between the Crawler and a Timberwatch Elf. There was nothing he could do to keep Arho from getting two excellent and synergistic cards.
Legions Pack Five
|Tuomo Nieminen||Sunstrike Legionnaire||Macetail Hystrodon||Bloodstoke Howler|
|Tomi Walamies||Echo Tracer||Zombie Brute||Mistform Sliver|
|Arho Toikka||Totem Speaker||Nantuko Vigilante||Patron of the Wild|
|Gabe Walls||Deftblade Elite||Wingbeat Warrior|
|Joshua Wagener||Gempalm Polluter||Embalmed Brawler|
|Justin Gary||Keeneye Aven||Wall of Deceit|
Tuomo was eager to grab the Sunstrike Legionnaire and was willing to give up a Deftblade Elite to Walls. With two Grassland Crusaders and a Stinger you could make a case for the Finn taking the provoker. Justin had shown a willingness to splash blue all weekend and his defensive drafts could make the deck if the Scourge cards fell in way that allowed him to pick a Rush of Knowledge.
Legions Pack Six
|Tomi Walamies||Willbender||Dripping Dead||Earthblighter|
|Arho Toikka||Timberwatch Elf||Shaleskin Plower||Plated Sliver|
|Gabe Walls||Aven Redeemer||Glowering Rogon||Aven Envoy|
|Joshua Wagener||Smokespew Invoker||Gempalm Polluter|
|Justin Gary||Celestial Gatekeeper||Brontotherium|
|Tuomo Nieminen||Daru Sanctifier||Whipgrass Entangler|
Gabe pleaded with Justin to defensively draft the second Celestial Gatekeeper away from his opponent but that was not the card Tuomo had his eye on. When he got the Daru Sanctifier he almost let out a yip of joy. He had an answer for Future Sight or any Scales that might fall Gabe's way in the remaining packs.
Scourge Pack One
|Tomi Walamies||Zombie Cutthroat||Misguided Rage||Divergent Growth|
|Tuomo Nieminen||Dragon Scales||Sprouting Vines||Dragonspeaker Shaman|
|Justin Gary||Torrent of Fire||Temporal Fissure||Uncontrolled Infestation|
|Joshua Wagener||Death's Head Buzzard||Lethal Vapors|
|Gabe Walls||Zealous Inquisitor||Mistform Warchief|
|Arho Toikka||Karona's Zealot||Coast Watcher|
The Scales fell Tuomo's way and he happily snapped them up while Justin was thrilled with a Torrent of Fire—a card he values extremely highly in his match-up.
Scourge Pack Two
|Tuomo Nieminen||Aven Liberator||Mercurial Kite||Dragon Wings|
|Justin Gary||Torrent of Fire||Woodcloaker||Brain Freeze|
|Joshua Wagener||Lingering Death||Reaping the Graves||Tendrils of Agony|
|Gabe Walls||Frontline Strategist||Trap Digger|
|Arho Toikka||Titanic Bulvox||Wirewood Guardian|
|Tomi Walamies||Dispersal Shield||Proteus Machine|
Scourge Pack Three
|Justin Gary||Ancient Ooze||Divergent Growth||Goblin War Strike|
|Joshua Wagener||Twisted Abomination||Skulltap||Long-term Plans|
|Gabe Walls||Shoreline Ranger||Guilty Conscience||Guided Light|
|Arho Toikka||Accelerated Mutation||Chartooth Cougar|
|Tomi Walamies||Carrion Feeder||Woodcloaker|
|Tuomo Nieminen||Noble Templar||Silver Knight|
Justin was even happier with the Ancient Ooze. There is a build up of creatures in green on green and the Ooze had the potential to be enormous.
Scourge Pack Four
|Joshua Wagener||Twisted Abomination||Reaping the Graves||Woodcloaker|
|Gabe Walls||Noble Templar||Dragon Wings||Dragon Breath|
|Arho Toikka||Wirewood Symbiote||Titanic Bulvox||Faces of the Past|
|Tomi Walamies||Cabal Interrogator||Dispersal Shield|
|Tuomo Nieminen||Edgewalker||Frontline Strategist|
|Justin Gary||Wirewood Guardian||Chartooth Cougar|
Scourge Pack Five
|Gabe Walls||Aven Liberator||Dragon Fangs||Scornful Egotist|
|Arho Toikka||Torrent of Fire||Dispersal Shield||Dragon Breath|
|Tomi Walamies||Lingering Death||Death's-Head Buzzard||Uncontrolled Infestation|
|Tuomo Nieminen||Dawn Elemental||Ark of Blight|
|Justin Gary||Carbonize||Wipe Clean|
|Joshua Wagener||Claws of Wirewood||Wirewood Guardian|
Gabe had a tough decision but sent the elemental his adversary's way for the combat trick.
Scourge Pack Six
|Arho Toikka||Rush of Knowledge||Krosan Drover||Hindering Touch|
|Tomi Walamies||Twisted Abomination||Pyrostatic Pillar||Recuperate|
|Tuomo Nieminen||Decree of Justice||Scornful Egotist||Rock Jockey|
|Justin Gary||Accelerated Mutation||Frontline Strategist|
|Joshua Wagener||Proteus Machine||Reaping the Graves|
|Gabe Walls||Dragonstalker||Aven Liberator|
The Rush of Knowledge would have sent Justin in to a blue splash but he put all thoughts of that aside when Arho went that route. The Decree of Justice for Tuomo brought back horrible memories for Gabe and a laugh to the table. Justin taunted his opponent with his Frontline Strategist that he took away from Tuomo on the way back.
As usual both teams felt they had gotten the better of the other in the draft. Gabe Walls felt that his deck-also as usual—was ridiculous. "I was shocked by how much they gave us. I am going to be depressed if we lose this one. My deck is ridiculous!"
Gabe continued, "I think all three match-ups are good across the board."
Joshua was not as convinced, "You always say that."
Gabe: "Yeah but which ones are bad?"
No one would go so far as to say they had a bad match-up but Justin did admit, "My opponent's deck is very good."
Josh: "So is mine" Josh was excited about Infest in his match although Tomi did not fear it very much. He was not sure whether or not he should run the Lingering Death when his opponent had two Echo Tracers but his teammates reminded him about the Murkdiver. If Tomi had to bounce and replay his Murkdiver the tempo swing would be tremendous. Tomi was planning on saving the tempo swing for his opponent's Twisted Abominations.
Justin's only problem with his deck was a deficiency in the two-drop department. He values dirge-effects highly—Wave of Indifference, Flamewave Invoker and Torrent of Fire—and he did not want to lose in the early game when the late game was clearly his. "That Wave should have never come around."
Gabe would have worried more about his opponent if he had focused on one tribe but with a collection of soldiers and clerics, Gabe dubbed his foe's deck, "He's the mixed bag."
Tomi was running Phage, the Untouchable. "People tell me she is good. I won with Scion of Darkness yesterday. Now I am trying Phage. I'm here to play the fun cards."