Posted in NEWS on March 8, 2014

By Marc Calderaro

It's hard to introduce No. 2 Reid Duke at this point. I mean, what hasn't he done? He started his reputation out as a great online player, picking up a MOCS title to his name. Then things started spiraling out of control. Then he started racking up Grand Prix finishes like they were Beanie Babies (with now nine Top 8s to his name), and he's currently ranked second in the world.

Josh Netto is no slouch himself, although he plays himself off as one. A local player who's taken down a Star City Games Invitational Qualifier before, he self-proclaims that he's here to have fun. It's hard not to have fun when you're sitting 3-0, but sitting against someone like Reid Duke in Round 4 is quick way to dampen that, though Netto is still pleased as punch.

Netto's Tempo Twin deck has a pretty good game against Duke's UW Tron in the first game. Duke admitted that "it's tough." But he continued, "I have twelve hate cards in the sideboard; games two and three are very positive." Packing things like Celestial Purge and Ghostly Prison, cards that just shut down the Splinter Twin-Pestermite combination, it was hard to disagree.

On why he decided to play this deck over his well-performing GB Obliterator Rock from the Pro Tour: "Short Answer? It's really fun." Good enough for me, Reid.

Reid Duke
Game 1

Urza's Mine, Urza's Tower, and Expedition Map from Reid Duke ensured an "Urzatron" completion on the third turn. His opponent Josh Netto began as a usual Twin variant deck does: he sculpted for a couple turns with Serum Visions and waited for the opportune moment to launch his two card combo assault. Duke did precious little with his assembled Urzatron, opting to just cast a few Thirst for Knowledge, thanks to a Talisman of Progress, and do some hand sculpting himself.

After delaying Netto with Remand, Duke resolved a Gifts Ungiven. With the amount of mana he currently had at his disposal (twelve), he could do anything. He opted for a Path to Exile, Condescend, Remand, and Hallowed Fountain. The pile showed great respect for the Twin deck's ability to win out of nowhere. Duke knew that flashy cards weren't going to win him the match, pure card advantage might. Netto allowed Condescend and the Remand to go to Duke's hand. The Sugarloaf, New Yorker already had a win condition in his hand (an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn), so all he needed was time.

The fate of the game seemed sealed when Pestermite was hit by Remand yet again, while Duke drew more cards off his third Thirst for Knowledge. Duke, as calm as ever, untapped for his turn and tapped fifteen mana and cast the Eldrazi.

But Netto had plans. During Duke's extra turn, right before Duke could declare his attackers, Netto cast a Pestermite and targeted the Emrakul which would tap it down (though Emrakul has "Protection from colored spells," the triggered ability from the Pestermite comes from a creature, as it's no longer on the stack when the ability happens). A counter war ensued, and Duke eventually got rid of the blue creature, but only after it had tapped the big dude.


The same shenanigans came the next turn—this time using Deceiver Exarch. Duke again had some removal in the form of Oblivion Ring, but Netto had a Mizzium Skin for Hexproof. Duke smartly responded with another Path to Exile before the Mizzium Skin could resolve, which would have stopped any targeted removal for the remainder of the turn, perhaps allowing a resolved Splinter Twin resulting in "Infinity Faeries."

It had been three turns with Emrakul on the board, and the 15/15 still could not attack, nor trigger its annihilator ability. Then Netto did it again, finding another Pestermite to delay the doomsday clock (not to be confused with the Armageddon Clock). Duke had run out of spot removal answers and cleared the board with Wrath of God—including his win condition. It's humorous that the right play was to kill his own 15/15 and Netto's 2/1, but indeed it was the only play.

Then the grinding started. Duke had fended off Netto's assaults and got to relax. But Netto was getting the better end of the grind game thanks to a Desolate Lighthouse, letting him burn through the remainder of his cards faster than Duke could. Though Duke at one point resolved an Elesh Norn, it was not long for the world and was bounced and Vendilion Cliqued away. The two pushed each other back and forth but the life totals (1-17) revealed that Netto was up against the edge of a precipice—his hand was Kiki Jiki, Mirror Breaker and two Splinter Twin, but he never had a chance to cast them.

Back and forth the game went, questions and answers, spells and counterspells. Eventually, after Duke laid down a Celestial Colonnade, Netto counted up his untappers in the graveyard, saw the potential 4/4 staring at his face, looked at the game clock, and said, "Reid, let's go to game two."

Reid Duke 1 – 0 Josh Netto

The first game had taken so long, every other match in the feature area had finished by the time they were ready to go again. They moved to the feature camera. Duke had managed to steal the first game somehow, now all he had to do was seal the deal.

Game 2

Spellskite, Path to Exile, and Condescend was enough disruption for Reid Duke to keep his opening hand. Netto had to go down to six cards. He had some disruption of his own with a few counterspells, and had one Deceiver Exarch representing half of his combo. But he was going to have to win fairly quickly. With Duke one game up, if this game lasted as long as the first one, Duke would come out the winner with a 1-0 victory.

Duke from his first turn, drew spell after spell that destroy Netto's plan. A resolved Ghostly Prison stops the infinite creatures from attacking en masse; and a Celestial Purge could kill either the Kiki Jiki or the Splinter Twin before the untap trigger from the copied creature could hit the stack.

Netto saw all this hate when he resolved a Vendilion Clique. The "splat" of Duke's seven cards on the table read like a murderer's row. Now with a Gifts Ungiven added to the pile, Duke had something proactive to do as well. After a shrug, Netto said, "Ehh, I'll take that one," and pointed at the Celestial Purge. Duke still had counterspells, Path to Exile, Spellskite, and a Ghostly Prison. Ug.

Josh Netto

Though Ghostly Prison hit a Swan Song wall, Duke got his turn back with a Spellskite, Expedition Map, and a 2/2 Bird token in play. A fresh Celestial Colonnade gave Duke a definitive clock, if a slow one. Soon enough, Duke activated the land and swung in with it and the bird. The 2/2 traded with the 3/1 Faerie and it was 13-20 in Duke's favor.

Netto had to fight through two pieces of hate remaining before he could combo out—the Spellskite in play and the Path to Exile he knew was in Reid's hand. That was, until Duke resolved a Gifts Ungiven. The pile was Negate, Thirst for Knowledge, Gifts Ungiven and Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. Duke got the Thirst for Knowledge and Gifts Ungiven—limiting the short-term removal available to Duke, hoping to get there in the next couple turns. But Netto was unable to capitalize in the short term.

A bunch more draw spells and a Gifts Ungiven later, Emrakul came into play and we started the "Can-I-Attack-For-Fifteen?" game once again. This time, Duke had a Spellskite on the battlefield, so he was able to redirect Deceiver Exarch tap abilities to it, allowing the monstrosity to swing in unencumbered. That was it. You know why?

Because if losing a turn and sacrificing six permanents doesn't get you, the fifteen damage will.

Reid Duke 2 – 0 Josh Netto