Semifinals: Andrew Wagoner (Affinity) vs. Wesley See (Blue-Red Twin)

Posted in Event Coverage on June 15, 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.

Andrew Wagoner and Wesley See seemed to have a lot in common. Each had earned their first Grand Prix Top 8, and each qualified for Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar. Both had defeated their quarterfinals opponents, and brought decks that have been around Modern as long as the format existed.

History often has a way of repeating itself.

The Decks

Wagoner’s Affinity represented one half of the classic Modern showdown, using cheap artifacts like Springleaf Drum and Memnite alongside the staples of Signal Pest, Etched Champion, and Cranial Plating to build machines that can kill in just a few hits. Ostensibly an “aggro” deck, it functions similar to combo in that different pieces assemble extraordinary power in a hurry.

See’s deck was also a classic Modern deck: Blue-Red Twin. Deceiver Exarch and Splinter Twin have been an inseparable duo since their Standard days, living on with the likes of Pestermite in Modern. Thanks to a dense control suite of counterspells (Remand), card draw (Serum Visions), and card advantage (Snapcaster Mage) the deck plays defense and offense well, switching in the blink of an eye to enact it’s combo for the kill.

The Games

Wagoner had a light start for Affinity with just Inkmoth Nexus and Springleaf Drum on his first turn, and his second turn Arcbound Ravager hit a Spell Snare from See. Content to hold up manam spending Serum Visions or Remand to massage his hand, See played the control game against the potentially explosive artifacts across the way.

Wagoner kept trying spells but See kept them at bay, upping his land count and drawing more cards along the way. Signal Pest was the second spell to make it through See’s shields, and it meant Springleaf Drum could make mana for the Galvanic Blasts hidden in his hand – at least until Electrolyze came along. Snapcaster Mage was the lone creature for awhile, adding to the effectiveness of Remand’s past.

See’s Snapcaster Mage kept attacking, taking life away as Remands kept coming.

A wall of Remands kept Andrew Wagoner’s machines off the battlefield in their first game.

“I only cast five this game,” See said before unleashing an end step Deceiver Exarch into main phase Splinter Twin to an ever tapped out Wagoner.

It was a pitch perfect play for why the deck had been among the best in Modern since the beginning.

The second game wasn’t as slow a start for Wagoner since this time there was no wall of countermagic to stop him. Cranial Plating soon mounted itself to an Ornithopter, and Torpor Orb threatened to lock out all of See’s deck entirely. Arcbound Ravager joined the fray next, and replaced the Ornithoper as the plated attacker, until Roast saved the day for See. However, a second Cranial Plating equipped to an animated Blinkmoth Nexus was enough to deal exact lethal damage on the next turn.

The combo kill came back the other way, history repeating again.

See played first in the final game of the match, though Wagoner promised a strong start with Signal Pest and Mox Opal. See looked to slow things down with Remand but there wasn’t more to follow and Wagoner began to deploy his forces: Arcbound Ravager, Torpor Orb, Cranial Plating and more. In response to casting the Ravager, See’s Roast and Ancient Grudge took out a Spellskite and Torpor Orb before he played his own Spellskite.

Wesley See worked to buy the time he needed to set his combo up against Wagoner’s growing forces.

On the defense, Spellskite helped Lightning Bolt defray the incoming attacks from Wagoner, blocking Etched Champion like a champ. Drawing into the fourth land he needed, See set his plan into motion: Deceiver Exarch to tap one Signal Pest with Cranial Plating. Wagoner began to calculate damage against a tapped out See after moving the Plating to an unblocked Pest.

After Wagoner ran his numbers See fell to one life, then untapped to cast Splinter Twin for the win.

“One point,” Wagoner said, shaking his head. “Good games.”

“Yeah. That was a really close one,” See said as he shook Wagoner’s hand.

Wesley See defeated Andrew Wagoner, 2-1.

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