Ironroot Chef – Just Desserts

Posted in 2015 MAGIC COMMUNITY CUP on September 21, 2015

By Nate Price

A longtime member of the Pro Tour and Grand Prix coverage staff, Nate Price now works making beautiful words for all of you lovely people as the community manager for organized play. When not covering events, he lords over the @MagicProTour Twitter account, ruling with an iron fist.

The Ironroot Chef portion of the Magic Community Cup has become the stuff of legends. Two teams squaring off in a deckbuilding challenge not aimed at breaking a particular format, but instead at squeezing every last drop of flavor out of a deck. The event has gone through multiple revisions since its inclusion, and this year's incarnation is yet another take on this Vorthos challenge. Rather than giving the two teams a pool of cards that must appear in the eight decks presented by each team, the competition this year was broken into three courses – an appetizer, entrée, and dessert.

The appetizer course featured a common ingredient that must be the central theme ingredient in a Standard-legal deck: Avarice Amulet. Each team presented a single appetizer featuring this central ingredient, and their takes on the card weren't terribly far off from one another. The central tenet of each deck was greed and its various incarnations. Both decks chose to go with a draconic theme, as there are few creatures in lore as inherently greedy as Dragons. Both decks also contained such paragons of greed as King Macar, the Gold-Cursed, and various forms of the Planeswalker Liliana.

From there, their decisions differed. The Wizards team opted for the succulent Villainous Wealth, perfectly exemplifying their roles on the weekend. The Community team, meanwhile, infused their construction efforts themselves with the essence of their greed, opting for a four-color, 64-card monstrosity.

In the end, the match did not play out in the Community team's favor. Down by 12 points at the start of the round, their champion Gabe "Doc" Reale fell in a close three games to Mike Turian of the Wizards team.

During their judgments afterwards, the judges praised both of the decks for their adherence to theme, with some sharp comments for things such as out-of-theme removal spells and the like. Community head chef Meghan Wolff made an impassioned presentation about the greed inherent in us all that left the community watching at home dumbstruck with its elegance.

For the entrees, the sides would square off in one of the most flavor-filled representations of Magic: Commander. The teams were given their choice of five Commanders to choose from.

The Community was led by the cryptic Medomai the Ageless, while the Wizards team put their faith in the flamboyant Ramirez DePietro.

Their match certainly was one for the ages...or is that ageless?

The Community's mastery over time seemed in doubt as seconds and minutes began to drain away from their clock. They were staring down against Paradox Haze and their own Sands of Time that had been acquired by Ramirez's Thada Adel, Acquisitor. After what seemed like an eternity, Medomai, helmed by Joel Larsson, finally started to piece together what he needed to win. After using Crystal Shard, Mnemonic Wall, and Temporal Manipulation to exert their mastery over time, they found themselves running coincidentally short of it. It was all according to plan, however. The Community team had placed a stipulation upon themselves that to prove their mastery over time, they would try to win with less than a minute on the clock. Seconds dripped by as Ramirez's life slowly fell away. As the Community clock hit 12 seconds, the final attack was made. It was an absolutely absurd match that many in the room were calling "the best Commander game they'd ever seen."

For the judging, the Community team once again leaned on their presentation backgrounds to deliver a detailed description of how their deck told the story of Medomai and his ageless wisdom.

Despite impassioned pleas and explanations from both teams, there chasm between the two teams was still wide as ever. During the dessert course, however, that would all change.

The dessert courses placed the onus for decisions on the players for the contents of their own creations. Their only stipulations were that the decks had to be Modern-legal, and they couldn't contain anything typically seen in Modern. It had to be a truly original creation based around a Modern-legal card of their choice.

Before the Eldrazi terrorized the planes, the Phyrexians were attempting to compleat everything that moved. One of the more harrowing tales of their victories is the tale of the plane Mirrodin. They came, they saw, they compleated. The Wizards team opted to tell this story through the card Glistening Oil, alongside versions of cards that were both pre- and post-compleation, like Chittering Rats and Ichor Rats. To add a little extra sugar to this dessert, they ensured that they played with foil versions of the Phyrexian cards. It seemed like a great choice.

On the other side of the table, the Community team decided that they hadn't had enough flavor. Rather than settle for a simple three-course meal, they opted to extend their dining experience, representing the Modern staple Hungry Spriggan. Their deck contained numerous representations of the hunger they had, as well as numerous ways to sate said hunger. It was a genius move, and completely original.

It was also the reason that they pulled ahead. The judges slammed the Wizards deck as being "plagiarism", as it effectively just retold a story that had already been told. It wasn't anything original. As much as they loved the touch with the foil cards, it was essentially just a depiction of actual events in Magic's canon. Their lists were even almost exclusively from Mirrodin and Scars of Mirrodin blocks. The judges were less than pleased.

The judgment began with another incredible improvised piece by the Community team, featuring Magic: The Amateuring's Maria Bartholdi proving her hunger by being chain-fed chips by the rest of her team as she delivered an incredible soliloquy.

It ended with the judges praising every aspect of the deck (barring its lack of a fork). In the end, their deck scored a perfect 15 points to the Wizards Team's paltry 4. This put them back within striking distance of the Wizards team, now down only 2 points going into the final three rounds of the day!

Check out the decks that each team submitted for their courses here.

Complete coverage of the 2015 Magic Community Cup