Two years ago, in the neighboring polis of Dallas, a slightly younger Orrin Beasley found himself playing in the finals of Grand Prix Dallas, looking for a title. Two years later, he finds himself with an outside shot at making a repeat Top 8 performance. Sitting at 10-3, Beasley and his Orzhov Aggro deck were perched with a live, albeit slim chance of making it to another Top 8. Standing in his way, also looking for that outside shot at Top 8, were Philip Marschall and the ubiquitous Mono-Blue Devotion.
A pair of Tidebinder Mages actually found some work to do against Beasley’s Mostly White Orzhov Aggro deck. His pair of early Dryad Militants found themselves locked under Marschall’s Mages for the early part of the game, significantly slowing him down. Beasley managed to pare the board down some, trading some of his early creatures for Marschall’s, but he still wasn’t able to attack. At least not until he drew a Spear of Heliod. In this spot, his Spear was much better than Marschall’s Bident of Thassa, as Beasley held the early advantage on the board. With his newly enhanced creatures, Beasley began to attack. MArschall was only drawing Islands to defend himself, preventing him from actually getting to take advantage of his Bident. As his life fell away, he lamented that his incredible early start had floundered so badly. Only one more attack was needed to close things out.
“Your start was insane, but you flooded out pretty bad there,” Beasley said after the game. After seeing his second creature tapped down under a Tidebinder Mage, he knew he was in a tight spot.
“Yeah, that was unfortunate,” Marschall sighed with a smile.
“With double Tidebinder Mage, I was dead if you had literally anything else there,” Beasley admitted.
“That’s what I figured, but I guess it just didn’t come,” Marschall responded. “I just needed something.”
Marschall’s opening draw in the second game was a little worse than his first, but it was still a good start against Beasley’s aggressive deck. Frostburn Weird and Master of Waves provided a strong defensive front against the pair of Precinct Captains that Beasley opened with. Unfortunately for Marschall, the black splash that Beasley’s deck dipped for included Doom Blade, allowing him a one shot way to deal with the Master and his seaponies.
Both players slowed up immensely after Marschall added a Nightveil Specter to his team. The 2/3 prevented Beasley from having any good attacks, and Marschall didn’t have enough support to begin attacking. From here, the players concentrated on building their boards while looking for an opportunity to begin attacks, something that seemed like it would favor Marschall in the long run.
Marschall felt comfortable enough to begin his attacks after adding a second Frostburn Weird to his team. The Plains he stole from Beasley was good enough to allow him to cast most of the cards he might steal in the future. Beasley found his own offense in the form of a Soldier of the Pantheon, but he was still progressing at a much slower rate than he would have obviously liked. He was able to clear away the Specter with an Orzhov Charm, alleviating the pressure, but he was still not in any position to attack. He even lost his ability to attack with the Solider because Marschall used a Rapid Hybridization on his Specter before it died, getting himself a monocolored creature.
The biggest shift in the game came when Marschall landed a Jace, Architect of Thought. Over a few consecutive turns, he shrunk Beasley’s growing army. He followed that haymaker up with another: an overloaded Cyclonic Rift. That reset the nine creatures on Beasley’s side, especially relevant because of his meager three lands in play. This cleared Marschall to drop Beasley to 6. Even worse, he had a Master of Waves in hand off of a Jace activation, ensuring that he would have a massive addition to the board, something Beasley would have to deal with. In addition to presenting lethal damage on the following attack, the Master made the immediate attack lethal thanks to enhancing Marschall’s Mutavault. Beasley was forced to block. When Thassa, God of the Sea, made an appearance off of a Jace activation, Beasley wouldn’t even have that option on the following turn, falling to unblockable, lethal damage.
The final game opened incredibly well for Beasley. On the play, he managed to resolve back-to-back Precinct Captains, a portent of a massive army on the horizon. Matters were complicated by Marschall’s lack of Frostburn Weirds, giving him no defense for the Captains. In place of the Weirds, Maraschall had a pair of Tidebinder Mages, much worse against the first-striking Captains. Things did change in his favor when he added a Jace, Architect of Though to his side of the table, neutering not only the Captains, but their Soldiers as well. Still, all of the creatures smashed into Jace, dropping him to two loyalty.
With Jace on two, and facing an army of creatures, Marschall made an aggressive decision, trading his Jace in for a look at some cards. This decision came after a good deal of musing about whether or not Beasley had Profit//Loss in his hand. If he did, parting with the Jace for a card was potentially the correct decision. If not, it could prove disastrous. He took a Domestication over a Nightveil Specter and Island. He then filled up his board with a Master of Waves for six seaponies. This defense was derailed almost immediately by a Banisher Priest, sending the Master of Waves away. From here, Beasley was far enough ahead that his creatures were able to swarm over for the win.
“I did have it, by the way,” Beasley said, revealing the Profit//Loss in his hand.
“I was pretty sure you did,” Marschall said, nodding his head. “There wasn’t much I could do there, though.”