The final format of the first day of the 2014 Magic Online Community Cup is one of the trademarks of this event: Ironroot Chef. For the uninitiated, Ironroot Chef, as the name loosely implies, is the flavor competition of the Community Cup. The competitors are given five "ingredients" to choose from, after which they must build the most flavorful Standard-legal deck they can. Players have a chance to win 9 match points via actual match wins, and a massive fifteen points for flavor from our three expert judges: Graham Stark and James Turner from Loading Ready Run and Walking the Planes's Wizard.
I'll let the Magic Online Twitter account introduce you to the ingredients for this year's challenge:
(Alison) Ironroot Chef Ingredients: Yisan the Wanderer Bard, Heroes' Podium, Athreos God of Passage, Whim of the Fates, Perplexing Chimera!— Magic Online (@MagicOnline) September 12, 2014
With these ingredients, the players set about doing their thing. Day opened with an incredibly succulent creation built around Heroes' Podium.
My ironroot chef deck - built around the flavor of heroes podium. pic.twitter.com/YUkhDymLPV— Sean Plott (@day9tv) September 12, 2014
One of the clear early favorites was Digital Game Designer Ryan Spain's musical rendition. Who says you can't play with your food?
In fact, many of the viewers at home decided that Ryan's build was so flavorful that they wanted to join in on the action, sending us such gems as the following decklist:
SvenskaMagic.com's Björn Andreasson had a blast with his choice, as well, as Whims of the Fates was one of the cards he was given to preview on his website!
Once things go underway, the action picked up dramatically. Erin Campbell's simultaneously powerful and savory Athreos, God of Passage, blend was able to make mincemeat of Aaron Forsythe. Forsythe defeated Campbell earlier in the day, so this victory was particularly sweet. As they say, revenge is a dish best served cold.
She made sure to rub it in Forsythe's face, too, especially after seeing the following tweet:
Day's flavorful heroic brew was having a bit of trouble, especially when he accidentally mulliganned into a suboptimal hand. Fortunately, he was determined to persevere.
For Björn Andreasson, Mike Turian, and Aaron Forsythe, Whims of the Fates proved to be either incredibly frustrating or hilariously overpowered.
With the final matches drawing to a close, the Community team had built up a massive lead.
(Alison) The last match is over. Community - 90 Wizards - 54. There is still Ironroot Judging left in the day! #MTGOCC— Magic Online (@MagicOnline) September 13, 2014
Unfortunately for them, many of their decks were more than a little lacking in the flavor department. This was especially important, as many of the Wizards team members had foregone the ability to actually win a game of Magic to craft some of the most delicious brews we've seen at the Community Cup. Here are some of the Wizards team's hits:
Argh, missed Chord of Calling & Satyr Piper for my music-themed Yisan deck for #MTGOCC. Hope I get there on flavor, cuz 1-2 in matches.— Ryan Spain (@RyanSpain) September 13, 2014
I played the Theros block novella in Ironroot Chef. http://t.co/XPlVHI5acu— Tom LaPille (@TomLaPilleMagic) September 13, 2014
With that, the judging began.
The first big winner was Erin Campbell's Athreos, God of Passage deck.
Compared to her perfect match record and impeccable style, many of her teammates were raked over the coals by the judges, notably Frank Lepore.
The Wizards team, meanwhile, mopped up on the flavor rounds. Even their "bad" decks had reasonable scores.
In the end, the Wizards team failed to overcome the massive deficit their weaker decks put them in, but they still managed to close the matchup to a reasonable margin.
Going into last day of competition: Community - 151 Wizards - 132 #MTGOCC— Erin Campbell (@OriginalOestrus) September 13, 2014
The lesson to be learned here is that, while flavor is incredibly important, you still need to be able to win matches. Erin Campbell proved that it is completely possible to have a flavorful deck and not sacrifice power. Her eternal name-sis, Aaron Forsythe, might have said it best:
2-for-2 in feeling like a sucker for building weak flavorful decks in Ironroot Chef; too romantic. I don't get partial match wins. #MTGOCC— Aaron Forsythe (@mtgaaron) September 13, 2014
Up on Saturday are the final two formats of the Community Cup: Eight-Booster Sealed Deck and Cube Draft with Stipulations. The players have retired to their hotel for a night of celebration and drafting, free to revel in their temporary lead. In the morning, the Wizards team will have to really push hard to overcome the hole they've fallen into.