Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Czech Vintage Series #4 - UWR Control

The last event in this year's Czech Vintage Series took place at Najada in Prague. 16 players came for the event. Even several new players came to see how Vintage looks like.

Since I lost to Shops in the finals of the previous series and I also got terribly crushed by Eldrazi I decided to switch from 4c Control to a different kind of control deck or a Delver deck. Since I didn't feel the need to play Delver of Secrets I decided to run Monastery Mentor instead since this card still wins matches very easily. I wanted to have a good matchup with Shops and possibly beat Eldrazi. I also wanted to run less mana rocks if possible to keep my deck consistent. This meant that I couldn't effectively run By Force but it should still be good enough to run Ancient Grudge. I was trying before with just Fragmentize or Shattering Spree and neither of the cards performed well enough. Running Tropical Island in the deck sounded as a really bad idea but in the end while playing with this deck it seemed fine and I was willing to give it a try in paper as well.

I expected some Oath decks to show up since those were always popular in paper and since they are also now in the spotlight thanks to the omnipresent Shops. For that reason I put in 4 Containment Priests which also double as 2/2 bear with Flash being able to deal with some planeswalkers or simply swing. I kept 2 Grafdigger's Cages and also included Wear/Tear which can hit an enchantment (either Moat or Oath mostly). The only card I wasn't sure about was Flusterstorm. I wanted to find a slot for Pyroblast but I didn't want to cut Lightning Bolt or Swords to Plowshares from my deck. I ended up with Flusterstorm since my match up with combo decks would be way worse compared to the matchup of my previous deck vs Storm (which was VERY good).

This is what I sleeved up.

Round 1

I was paired against Martin Vsiansky who since the restriction of Mentor brings a different deck. I didn't know what I was against but I expected a blue deck. After peeking at his hand with Gitaxian Probe I knew I was against a PO deck. He had Ponder, Black Lotus, Volcanic Island, Trinket Mage, Paradoxical Outcome and two fetchlands in his hand. My hand contained only one counterspell and I wanted to keep it for Paradoxical Outcome. I needed to draw a Young Pyromancer or Monastery Mentor so I could in theory win. I did not even have any cantrips and my lands were bad - I kept a hand with Tundra and Tropical Island but I was in a dire need of Volcanic Island so I could play Pyroblast or Young Pyromancer if I'd drew it. Later in the game I was able to stop my opponent's advance but there was one turn in which if my opponent would want to go off I'd in theory need 3 sources of blue in order to cast a counterspell and Snapcaster Mage to flashback the counterspell. Unfortunately I played Library of Alexandria as my third land. The chances of my opponent trying to go off at that moment were relatively low, but it happened and all I could do is silently swear.

I tried to compose myself, remind myself that I'm very sleep deprived and should try really hard to concentrate on the game. I was playing against a blue, mana rock heavy deck that also included Time Vault and Voltaic Key. I boarded in Ancient Grudge, Wear/Tear, Stony Silence and Flusterstorm. I kept a hand with Jace, the Mind Scultor, Force of Will, Force of Will, Flusterstorm and some lands/Moxen. I didn't want to pitch Jace to Force so I did not want Force anything that wouldn't make me lose the game. I let my opponent dig a bit. When he played Merchant Scroll I had to wonder what he'd be looking for. He'd either look for another or missing counterspell or he'd go for Paradoxical Outcome. I was able to counter 3 times at the moment so I decided to let the Scroll resolve and hit the Outcome that I expected later. I drew another Jace, the Mind Sculptor and my opponent tried to draw some cards with the tutored for card. I successfully countered it and then landed Jace on my turn winning me the game.

In game 3 I kept a hand containing Stony Silence. My plan was pretty straightforward. Play Stony Silence, make it resolve, protect it. It resolved and my opponent was looking for a way how to get rid of it. I had only Pyroblast to deal with Chain of Vapor/Echoing Truth or whatever my opponent had in his deck. He played the Chain of Vapor targeting my Stony Silence, I cast my Pyroblast hoping it would resolve even though I honestly didn't expect that. My opponent put his card to his graveyard so I was good! I played Jace and my opponent scooped.

Round 2 - PO Storm
Game 1 I kept a relatively slow hand with a bit of permission. It wasn't good against Storm but had its chances. When it was clear my opponent was indeed on DPS or PO Storm I tried to find Mentor and win as fast as possible. I manage to find what I needed. I still needed to top deck Time Walk or way more spells so I could win in one swing. I managed to get my opponent down to 7 but that was not enough. Without the Time Walk I expected to lose next turn. I died as expected.

Game 2 I boarded in Flusterstorm, Stony Silence and Ancient Grudge. I was actually very glad that I boarded artifact removal in. It was clear that my brain was running on auto-pilot. I couldn't even figure out why I wanted the card in my deck (the reason was primarily Defense Grid, sometimes I hit the Time Vault combo too but very rarely). I also kept a Sword to Plowshares in if by a chance I'd have to face Blightsteel Colossus. Anyway the second game was a rather fast victory for me thanks to the still-over-powered-even-though-now-restricted Monastery Mentor.

Game 3 I kept a hand with a Mox Ruby, land, 2 Stony Silence and wondered if that is ok to keep. I had no disruption, I was on the draw and I played against Storm. I wanted to ship that hand but then I asked myself if I'd done that on Magic Online. I wouldn't so I kept and spectacularly lost. My opponent killed me on his turn 1 while even being able to sneak in Defense Grid (actually I conceded to Time Vault combo, it doesn't matter if I die to lethal Tendrils on turn 1 or on turn 10). I was pretty sad and wondered about my keep.

Round 3 - Inferno Oath

In game 1 I simply had Monastery Mentor and could go through either Griselbrand or Emrakul. My opponent was running Inferno Titans though. Fortunately for me I managed to avoid this creature and won.

Game 2 my opponent played some Moxen on turn 1 but didn't cast either Jace, the Mind Sculptor nor Oath of Druids which I feared. He cast Demonic Tutor though looking for something. I tried to find an answer to Oath but didn't find it. I managed to find Force of Will though. Next turn my opponent played Thrun, the Last Troll which didn't really seem as a threat against a deck that can produce lots of tokens. I didn't have either Young Pyromancer nor Monastery Mentor in my hand so I started digging for it. I had two Containment Priests that I could cast though and chump block in the worst case scenario. I also knew that my opponent played Sudden Shock in his deck. When my life total was getting very low (8) I cast Containment Priest so I could chump block. The Priest got bounced though and I had to take the damage since I couldn't recast it. My opponent then played Oath of Druids to my surprise and there was a chance I could win thanks to the card. I had a singleton Lightning Bolt in my hand so I could destroy a Spirit token my opponent would most probably give me. Casting the Bolt in the end was not necessary since my opponent passed the turn. I just used his Oath hoping to hit Young Pyromancer or Monastery Mentor (there were still two Priests in my deck, hitting a Priest would be pretty bad but Oathing would get me closer to what I needed). I hit Young Pyromancer! I cast Gush, some cantrips and also destroyed Oath of Druids. I had enough tokens to start attacking into Thrun. All I needed was to avoid a hard cast Inferno Titan. I started swinging with my Elemental tokens, later countered Inferno Titan and won the match.

Round 4 - Punishing Oath
I knew I was against another Oath player and this time I also knew that he was running Punishing Fire and Grove of the Burnwillows in his deck. When I play against Punishing Oath I often find myself in a situation in which I can't win since all my win conditions die to Punishing Fire (or several of them). I played Gitaxian Probe targeting my opponent and seeing Force of Will, Black Lotus, Force of Will, Brainstorm, Dig Through Time , Mox Ruby and Volcanic Island. I hoped to draw Mental Misstep because I had Force of Will in my hand already. I didn't draw it and hoped my opponent wouldn't find Oath of Druids or Jace, the Mind Sculptor. He found Oath of Druids and it resolved. Now all I could do was to find Monastery Mentor create some tokens and win through Emrakul. I actually managed to find both Monastery Mentor, Young Pyromancer and Time Walk. I could deal 15 damage (my opponent's life total) but I needed a Lightning Bolt in order to kill my creature that would end up blocked by Griselbrand. Next turn I drew the Bolt but the math didn't work with just that card. I needed one more spell to cast because of additional blocker (Emrakul). (I had Dack Fayden in play to look for the spell). Anyway this game was hilarious. If you ever face Oath, know that sometimes you can win through Emrakul and Griselbrand. It happens more often than you may expect. While it may not end up in your victory all the time, sometimes happens.

In game 2 I played Young Pyromancer and starting hitting my opponent. When my opponent played Oath of Druids I needed to do something. I had Containment Priest in my hand already but I didn't have a counterspell to make it resolve or protect it. I drew Merchant Scroll though so I played it and looked for Force of Will. I played the Priest, it resolved and my opponent let his Emrakul get exiled (probably didn't read what Containment Priest does?). I simply started swinging with my creatures, while trying to find an answer to Oath of Druids (which I found). My opponent wasn't really able to do much, I countered several Punishing Fires and won the match somehow (I don't remember really how).

Round 5 - Oath
I wanted to win but I faced turn 1 Oath of Druids and there was no Monastery Mentor to save me this time.

In game 2 I mulled to oblivion keeping a really bad hand featuring Mental Misstep and Flusterstorm as my only spells. I actually managed to resolve Containment Priest when my opponent cast Show and Tell but I swiftly lost a bit later.

My performance at the event wasn't the best one. My record wasn't what I expected either (came up 4th in the end) but the event was lots of fun and I hope that the other players that came enjoyed the event as much as I did. It was really good to be able to sling some spells IRL. I played some awesome games even though it may not look like so from my report. There was also a Modern event going on during our event so some of the Modern players were coming to check up on us. It was quite fun to observe them when they were watching some of our games. One of the Modern players asked another one what Vintage game he was watching. He replied with 'Merfolk vs Death's Shadow'. Well, everyone had a good laugh.

Thanks for reading
S'Tsung (follow me on Twitter @stsungjp or hit me up on MODO if you want to play some games - stsung)


Monday, November 27, 2017

Duel Commander in Prague #2

A Duel Commander series in Prague was started by Vinni. I learned about the first one after it happened already but it sparked my interest I wanted to join the following event. I planned to actually prepare for the event since I had enough time for that, but for some reason it didn't work out. So my preparation started the day before the event.

It's been a long time since I played French EDH and all my decks I used to play cannot be played since their key cards got banned in the meantime - also all the generals I played got banned. I just read the Banlist Announcements each time and wondered how the format possibly looks like. I had my idea of it, but that was just a guess. Those of you who are not familiar with this variant of EDH you can go check the format's website at French EDH has a starting life total of 20 and rather long banlist compared to the Magic Online's one.

On November 15 cards from Commander 2017 became available on Magic Online through Treasure Chests. I started a search for Edgar Markov which I finally bought for 20 tix (current price 35tix). I wanted to write an article about this card, because I think that this card deserves a very quick ban (the article can be found here - Edgar Markov, the Breaker of Rules. In order to come up with a playable deck I jumped in 1v1 Leagues. My deck changed considerably. Relatively soon I got tired of facing Edgar Markov in roughly 2/3s of the time so I gave up on playing and started writing my article. The most successful decks in the sea of Edgar were Kess, Dissident Mage and Leovold, Emissary of Trest. Any other generals most of the time just terribly died to a flurry of Vampires.

After this experience I knew one thing and that is that I'm still not the best pilot of creature decks no matter how overpowered they are so I decided to play something different. I already put together Tymna/Kraum aggro-control which was doing pretty well on Magic Online but I wasn't sure if that could do something in French EDH. I decided to go either for something more straightforward like Saskia the Unyielding or more universal like Leovold, Emissary of Trest. Saskia can ruthlessly kill on turn 4 but against combo decks she can't do much. Leovold on the other hand can deal with aggressive decks and combo decks at the cost of being way more difficult deck to pilot. As for control I was fine playing with either of the decks. One of the reasons to play Leovold that other players mentioned is that you can play Timetwister and I also wondered how my opponents would look at me when I would tell them to discard their hand and draw a card. Since Leovold seemed more fun from the pilot's perspective I decided to play with that for a while so I wouldn't totally mess up during the EDH event.

On Friday I put Edgar aside thus and imported a Leovold deck. I stared at it for a while. Since I was told that the French EDH is rather aggressive I put some cards allowing me to gain some life. Since I can't play Kitchen Finks I put Vampire Nighthawk there, Obstinate Baloth and Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet. I played ten matches in total and in all of them I certainly made a fool out of myself. It took me quite a while to realize that I should actually play my general - usually the cards like Anvil of Bogardan and Timetwister in my hand made me go 'oh, I forgot to play Leovold!'. I won 7 times out of ten but I didn't feel good about it at all. I messed up pretty much anything from fetching wrong lands, not playing Leovold and then casting Anvil of Bogardan too early. I even died in a game where I played Timetwister with Leovold in play and my opponent on Goblins just played Goblin Ringleader, hit several Goblins and killed me that turn (I couldn't stop several hasty, pumped goblins). After this I tweaked my deck so I would avoid certain scenarios in the future and made a mental note to put my general somewhere I can see him. I literally played my following matches with Leovold on my keyboard.

After I finished my games I started looking for the cards in paper. 2 hours passed and in front of me was a complete Leovold EDH deck. I took a photo of the decklist (in case decklists would be needed) and went to a local game store to pick some decks up. I met one of the EDH players there so I asked him for a game. I played some games with another player and learned that Saskia is kinda mean. I knew that the matchup of my two decks is not really favorable for Leovold but it always felt bad when I played a discard, saw my opponent's hand and knew I'd lose the moment Saskia would hit the table. I continued in my stream of misplays but occasionally won. After that I went to check out the Arcade Bar the event would be held the next day, played some arcade games and went to sleep - terribly exhausted.

I got up early and left for the bar. On my way I met two suspicious men that turned out to be Magic players which I didn't know but they knew me. I showed them the way to the bar and went to register.

There I was asked what general I play and I reluctantly replied 'Leovold'. I paid for the entry and went to ask if the bar offers a coffee. One of the bar owners was ready for the Magic players and brought us some instant coffee. I sat there at the bar for a while wondering how the event would go since the day before I couldn't obviously play Magic at all. Many people I knew came to the event, there were just few players I didn't know but it was possibly I already met them at previous events. 31 players came to play in the event.

Round 1 - Akiri/Silas

I was paired against Vinni, the organizator of the event. He was on Akiri, Line-Slinger/Silas Renn, Seeker Adept partner deck. I didn't really know what to expect but already the mana cost of the generals suggested that I'd soon have to find removal for them. My hand was good, not only it contained a counterspell or two it also contained removal. My opponent played several artifacts and Akiri that I countered with Spell Snare. I dealt with the other general as well, played Leovold in the meantime, and tried to find something that could attack through either of my opponent's generals. I managed to win the game because I killed the generals enough of times that they became uncastable and then I could win with anything I had in play.

Game 2 was very interesting. I took a very hard beating at first. My opponent played Etched Champion which I couldn't really deal with since I had no Edict in my hand. I knew though that unless it would get equipped with Cranial Plating I should be more or less fine. When the generals started attacking I needed to deal with them too and took even more damage from Akiri. I was then lucky to draw Demonic Tutor and wondered what to do with it. Earlier in the game I produced True-Name Nemesis that I used as a blocker for Akiri but unfortunately it couldn't block the Etched Champion.

I passed the turn though and hoped I'd live one more turn to be able to cast the tutored for card. My opponent top decked Stoneforge Mystic and slammed it. That didn't look good. I was wondering what other equipment there could be instead of Cranial Plating that would pretty much kill me. My opponent looked for the Plating, equipped it on Etched Champion and hit me for 8. I was down to 3 and needed to play Toxic Deluge still. I played it on my turn and then hoped I'd survive. Actually everything looked pretty well for me. I played The Scarab God later and next turn I was ready to bring back True-Name Nemesis. Unfortunately my opponent drew Ghirapur Aether Grid and I lost since my counterspell couldn't counter it and two lives I could have gained weren't good enough.

In game three I mulled to five keeping a very bad hand in general. My opponent just played some artifacts and killed me swiftly with Akiri. Not much I could have done. Sad story.

Round 2 - Kytheon
After my loss in the first round I went from table 1 to table 14 where I sat across a player on Kytheon. I was glad I didn't decide to play Saskia but rather Leovold but I still wasn't sure how big of a difference turn 1 Kytheon could have on the game. Since I played a fair amount of games against White Weenie decks with BUG Control I wasn't really afraid of the deck. Obviously being on the play or draw is a big difference. I was honestly glad that I didn't cut Force Spike or Mental Misstep from my deck. I kept a hand featuring Tarmogoyf and I hoped that it and Leovold would be able to stop the Weenies. My opponent played Kytheon, followed it with Precinct Captain and Soldier of the Pantheon. I had to let the first attack go through since my creature wasn't big enough. Later I played Leovold and destroyed one of my opponent's creatures. I wondered if my opponent would attack into my creatures but he didn't. Obviously he didn't have a way how to deal with Tarmogoyf and later died to it.

In game 2 I was again trying to cope with Kytheon from turn 1. It was joined by two other creatures which I wouldn't really mind if there wouldn't be Honor of the Pure in play as well. When I thought I could finally do something, my opponent played Elspeth, Knight-Errant and I was screwed. I needed to deal with too many different kinds of permanents and died a bit later.

Game 3 I was on the play which was half of my chances to win as it seemed. I kept 4 lands, Tarmogoyf and Titania. I hoped that this would be enough to stop my opponent. Tarmogoyf and Leovold proved to be good at that (if an Anthem effect wasn't in play). I played a discard spell targeting my opponent and saw that he had Path to Exile, Fairgrounds Warden, Kytheon's Irregulars and a creature that puts +1/+1 counters on up to three creatures. I got rid of the Path to Exile knowing that I could bounce Fairgrounds Warden later in the game to get my Tarmogoyf back with Mystic Confluence, kill a creature and then let my opponent discard his hand. Everything went according to my plan, my opponent played the Dwarf creature targeting Tarmogoyf while Leovold was in play. I drew a card, let him hit me with his creatures, killing one in the process. I used Cephalid Coliseum targeting him wondering what card he'd keep. He kept the Fairgrounds Warden which I discarded then with Thoughtseize. When I played Titania, Protector of Argoth and cracked a returned fetchland my opponent conceded.

Round 3 - Arahbo

I was looking forward to seeing cats in action. Arahbo, Roar of the World seems to be a strong general to me. It's not Edgar Markov for sure but it seems that its ability is good enough for competitive play - if there is enough cats that is. I was wondering if I can stop the cats hitting me for +3/+3 more than their normal power/toughness. I made sure to keep a hand that contained either Force Spike or cheap removal. This way I was able to deal with the first cat. The cat that followed was Qasali Pridemage which was hitting me each turn for six. I was staring at Sultai Charm in my hand and wondered if the card shouldn't be something else. I was unwilling to draw 2 cards and discard though and waited for a different removal spell. In the meantime I was attacking with Leovold which could hardly race the opposing cat. When my opponent hit his fifth land I realized that the general can also be played and that its ability might be a seriously problem since my general would just block 3 damage out of 12 (and the cat general could also attack). That didn't sound good. I drew a removal though and dealt with the big cat too later. I won the game later. That was close.

Game two didn't go well for my opponent. He took a mulligan (or two) and kept a one lander with several two drops in his hand. Unfortunately he didn't draw his second land fast enough. He played a cat a bit later but was still desperate to draw a land and played Gods Willing on his creature at the end of my turn. I killed the creature in response and my opponent didn't draw the land he needed and I won.

We played a third game after this where I kept a good hand with the exception I didn't have a source of green. That was pretty bad because part of my cards were actually green and I needed to cast them in order to stop the cats from hitting me for too much. I managed to deal with some cats but then my opponent played Mutavault that I couldn't deal with. Again I drew Demonic Tutor for the rescue. Next turn the Mutavault would deal 16 damage to me (general was in play, it would pump the Mutavault that would also be equipped with Sword of Fire and Ice, double its power and give it trample). I destroyed it and then I needed my opponent to blank few times since I also double blocked the general and had nothing to attack with nor block with. I had nothing relevant in my hand but I finally drew a source of green, meaning I could cast Sylvan Library. My opponent just passed the turn and I was able to see the cards I'd draw. I drew Sultai Charm so I could destroy the Sword or another creature. Next turn my opponent played their general. I cast mine so I could chump block. Next turn my opponent just played a land and I desperately looked for something so next turn I could deal with Arahbo again. I didn't find anything. The creature I faced next was Fleecemane Lion which was pretty bad because it could get Indestructible and Hexproof at instant speed. My opponent used the Monstrous ability at the end of turn, so I cracked Cephalid Coliseum drawing three cards and discarding three cards. One of the drawn cards was Murderous Cut, I played it targeting the cat. My opponent had Blossoming Defense that pretty much meant I just lost the game. It was a fun game. Next time I should not keep a hand without a source of green! (at least I had Cavern of Souls so I could cast a chump blocker from Command Zone, poor Leo).

Round 4 - Kytheon
Game 1 I was on the play which allowed me to deal with Kytheon on turn 1. I decided to cast Force Spike instead of playing Ghastly Demise later. This resulted in me not being able to deal with Grand Arbiter since I had only 1 card in my graveyard. Fortunately my opponent wasn't putting me under much pressure and was just attacking with the Arbiter. When I played Leovold I stopped the attacks and later I even managed to play a cantrip and fill my graveyard with a second card. My opponent played few more creatures but I was able to kill them and start swinging with my general. My opponent ran out of cards and removal and I got to te point when I could start casting my five drops. Going through The Scarab God and Titania, Protector of Argoth is difficult for any deck.

In game 2 I took a terrible beating. I wasn't able to deal with Kytheon this time nor other creatures that followed and died very fast.

In the deciding game I kept a hand with Spell Pierce, Duress, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Miscalculation and lands. It didn't really look good against White Weenie deck but I decided to keep because Miscalculation would certainly hit something, Leovold on turn 3 seemed good and Jace on turn 4 would at worst be a rather expensive Brainstorm. I cast Duress on turn 1 not expecting to hit anything relevant and to my astonishment my opponent immediately showed a sign of horror on his face. He showed me his hand featuring a Plains and Land Tax (and other cards I didn't care much about). We certainly had a good laugh since either of us didn't expect that Duress could be crucial in this matchup. I discarded Land Tax and was very grateful for my keep while my opponent was still shaking his head. I knew that I couldn't possibly lose this game. My opponent played Kytheon for which I didn't have an answer but I could put Leovold in its way which was pretty much enough. I followed with Jace, the Mind Sculptor and brainstormed. My opponent tried to deal with Jace attacking it with Mishra's Factory and Kytheon. My opponent had Brave the Elements but Mishra's Factory wasn't a white creature so I could use Fatal Push on it and actually kill it. Jace went down to 1 counter but that was enough since I could deal with a lonely Kytheon by just playing Leovold. I kept two mana open so I could counter another threat and then my opponent conceded.

Round 5 - Braids

Game 1 was one of the most epic games I ever played and it is a pity that I lost it in the end. My opponent started with turn 1, Swamp, Dark Ritual, Phyrexian Arena. I wasn't happy about this because it would take a while for me to play Leovold to try stop that Arena from drawing cards. I was playing against Mono Black though and that also suggested that my creature wouldn't last long in play. My opponent's turn 2 was even worse for me because he played Bitterblossom. I couldn't deal with either card and wondered if I can beat this. I decided to see what my opponent plays though to have more information and also see how he plays. He messed up many things during the first turns, might be because we were all tired but it also meant that I could possibly win from a very bad losing position. I tried my best to stay alive. I managed to produce Obstinate Baloths and Kalitas which bought me time. My opponent was also choosing lines of play that favored me so I was lucky in that regard. Unfortunately I still couldn't go through all the Faerie tokens. I started beating with Kalitas and Leovold but then my opponent played Umezawa's Jitte that totally changed everything. I counted several turns ahead and figured out that if my opponent would use all the counters on his Jitte to gain life I'd win the game if he wouldn't play a hasty creature which would have to hit me with Umezawa's Jitte as well. I didn't expect this to happen so I turned my creatures sideways 3 times. Unfortunately when my opponent went down to 1 life he also drew Bloodghast. He played the card, equipped it with Jitte and I lost the game I could have won next turn by just swinging with everything I had. I was very sad about this. It was a fun game though!

Game 2 my opponent kept a one lander, couple of three mana cost cards and Lotus Petal. I cast Duress on my turn 1, discarding the Lotus Petal. Since my opponent didn't play a land on turn 2, the card he kept on top wasn't obviously a land. It turned out to be Dark Confidant that I managed to deal with immediately. My opponent couldn't find a land so in the meantime I played Leovold and started slowly beating down. I won the game relatively soon and it was time for game 3 for which we most probably didn't have enough time.

Game 3 looked almost good for me till my opponent drew Bitterblossom and played it. Again I had no answer to it. The game still looked well for me since I drew Liliana, the Last Hope and Jace, the Mind Sculptor (but there were already 3 Faerie tokens in play). We had just few minutes left though so I couldn't go ultimate with Jace in that time. My plan was to find a fifth land, play The Scarab God, reanimate something and kill my opponent with it. This would have worked under several conditions. I needed the land, I needed my opponent to try to race me and I also needed him not to kill any of my creatures. Everything went as planned with the exception that I couldn't find the fifth land. When I found it there was also Titania, Protector of Argoth that could have closed the game faster but unfortunately for me, I already removed my only fetchland from the game earlier in the game. So I still had to go for the Scarab God plan. We had 5 additional turns to play and my plan was still live. On the fifth turn I was able to deal exactly lethal. My opponent though played Go for the Throat targeting my Scarab God and the game ended up in a draw (I would have won most probably a bit later).

I scooped my cards and wondered what I'd do after the event. With my 'luck' I expected to end up ninth and didn't even consider that I could end up in the top 8. In the past few highlander events I missed the top8 in a similar fashion so I expected that this would be another event like that (this one was way smaller than the previous ones). I quickly glanced at the standings to confirm that. 9th was the place, again. It hurt. I went to play some Pump it Up and hoped that I would get rid of this bad feeling because otherwise the event was awesome and I can't express how much fun I had. Maybe not that much fun, but I enjoyed it a lot and was very grateful that I was able to come and play.

I'd like to thank all that were involved in organizing the event and providing prizes. You did a great job and I'm looking forward to another event, hopefully more people will come next time!

Comments about my deck and card choices
When I started with Edgar Markov on Magic Online I changed the deck considerable during the first several events I joined. With Leovold I didn't expect to change the deck that much since I already started with a list that was good. I still had to tweak it more so it would suit my needs and be ready for the metagame I expected. My expectations though could be totally wrong. I put more counterspells in the deck and added Brainstorm, Ponder and Preordain which are banned on Magic Online. I cut all the other Timetwister effects and cards like Teferi's Puzzle Box. It seemed sweet and also as a win condition but I simply didn't want to depend on having my general in play and then casting a card like that, it just didn't feel right (not to mention that I do not own the cards and wouldn't be able to buy them prior the event). I'd rather be able to win the game even without Leovold in play and not end up with dead cards in my hand. Anyway, I kept Anvil of Bogardan and Timetwister in because those were the cards that I was willing to cast even without Leovold in play. I was fairly content with this list and the last matches I played went well - if I omit my misplays.

After the Duel Commander event I could review the deck again and this time be more objective because I saw at least a part of the metagame. The cards that didn't perform as well as I would like during the event were Grim Flayer and Sultai Charm. I would replace Grim Flayer with Bittterblossom and Sultai Charm with Golgari Charm. I was even thinking about Nature's Claim since destroying artifacts/enchantments was something I really needed. Vampire Nighthawk, Obstinate Baloth and Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet performed surprisingly well. On Friday they were more or less helping me come back into a game I screw up so I was thinking about cutting them and replacing them with other cards. During the tournament though they actually impacted the game a lot so I suppose they will stay in my deck. Repeal is also a card I was pondering about on Friday. When I was putting Repeal in the deck I wasn't sure if the card would be good enough but during the event I wish I had more of them in my deck!

Thanks for reading,
S'Tsung (stsung on MODO, stsungjp on Twitter)


Leovold, Emissary of Trest
by stsung, 3317USD
1 Deathrite Shaman
1 Baleful Strix
1 Grim Flayer
1 Jace, Vryn's Prodigy
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Snapcaster Mage
1 Tarmogoyf
1 Courser of Kruphix
1 Eternal Witness
1 Ramunap Excavator
1 Tireless Tracker
1 True-Name Nemesis
1 Vampire Nighthawk
1 Vendilion Clique
1 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
1 Obstinate Baloth
1 The Scarab God
1 Titania, Protector of Argoth
1 Tasigur, the Golden Fang
19 cards
1 Liliana of the Veil
1 Liliana, the Last Hope
1 Garruk Wildspeaker
1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
4 cards
1 Anvil of Bogardan
1 Umezawa's Jitte
1 Search for Azcanta
1 Sylvan Library
4 cards
1 Brainstorm
1 Duress
1 Fatal Push
1 Force Spike
1 Ghastly Demise
1 Inquisition of Kozilek
1 Mental Misstep
1 Ponder
1 Preordain
1 Repeal
1 Spell Pierce
1 Spell Snare
1 Thoughtseize
1 Abrupt Decay
1 Collective Brutality
1 Counterspell
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Diabolic Edict
1 Go for the Throat
1 Hymn to Tourach
1 Logic Knot
1 Mana Leak
1 Miscalculation
1 Negate
1 Dismember
1 Maelstrom Pulse
1 Sultai Charm
1 Timetwister
1 Toxic Deluge
1 Cryptic Command
1 Damnation
1 Force of Will
1 Murderous Cut
1 Mystic Confluence
34 cards
1 Bayou
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 Blooming Marsh
1 Botanical Sanctum
1 Breeding Pool
1 Cephalid Coliseum
1 Command Tower
1 Creeping Tar Pit
1 Darkslick Shores
1 Drowned Catacomb
1 Flooded Grove
1 Flooded Strand
1 Forest
1 Geier Reach Sanitarium
1 Hinterland Harbor
2 Island
1 Llanowar Wastes
1 Lumbering Falls
1 Marsh Flats
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Polluted Delta
1 Reflecting Pool
1 Rishadan Port
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Swamp
1 Tropical Island
1 Underground River
1 Underground Sea
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
1 Verdant Catacombs
1 Volrath's Stronghold
1 Wasteland
1 Watery Grave
1 Windswept Heath
1 Wooded Foothills
1 Woodland Cemetery
38 cards