Clash of Champions

The local store ran an event they called the “Clash of Champions” this weekend. It was Theros sealed and to qualify you needed to have made top 8 of one of the four Theros prerelease events that ran the previous weekend. It’s a cool idea and I’m really happy that the store is trying some new things. “Clash of Champions” might be a bit dramatic, though.


Regardless, it was a lot of fun and I sincerely hope they continue experimenting with different types of events like this. Many thanks to the staff for staying well past their normal closing time on a Sunday evening to finish out the tournament for us.

Here is my sealed deck. I won’t bother listing out my whole pool; I don’t think I misbuilt so badly that the other colors would have been better than this. I had a single Divine Verdict plus a couple of other reasonable white cards that tempted me, but I felt blue and red were clearly my two deepest colors.

There were 21 of us, 5 rounds of Swiss + top 8 draft.

Round 1 vs Blue-White: R1G1, I bestowed Thassa’s Emissary onto Prognostic Sphinx. Turns out, that’s pretty good. I also had my Spellheart Chimera up to 5 power at one point, which was not something I could count on game after game, of course, but I think the card is actually very decent even with just 1 or 2 power and I’m glad I ran it. R1G2 I cast my Master of Waves (one of only two times I cast it all day) and got 3 tokens that helped swarm in and end the match. (record: 1-0)

Round 2 vs Red-Green Gods Event Deck WTF?!: Mitchell’s pool had Purphoros, God of the Forge, Hammer of Purphoros and Bow of Nylea, all of which make the typical sealed pool durdle creatures much stronger. I just crumpled to the power level, although I think I had a couple of opportunities to choose better lines than I did. (record: 1-1)

Round 3 vs Black-Red: This turned out to be the pool that I had registered, the big bomb was an Underworld Cerberus. If I were more observant, I could have sussed out that this was my pool before the Cerberus appeared – paying attention to those types of details is a weakness in my game, for sure.

I had probably my worst misplay of the day in this match; I may not remember the sequence exactly, but it involved me missing my 3rd land drop when I did not have to. Something like: I keep a 2-lander (Island x2). Turn 1, Island. Turn 2, Island. Turn 3, I don’t draw a 3rd land, but I do draw/have Traveler’s Amulet. Obviously, I should have cast and activated the amulet, searched out a Mountain and played it. What I actually did was cast Traveler’s Amulet and pass the turn. Total screw-up, I own it. I put my brain on auto-pilot and thought “yeah, I’ll crack this amulet on his end step.” Endofyourturnitis strikes again. I do go on to draw some lands and cast some things but I lose that game. Did I lose specifically because of that mistake? I don’t know, but it was pretty embarrassing either way.

R3G3 is very close, toward the end he has Underworld Cerberus. I’m at 8 life and have a few guys. He’s at pretty low life and has to hold back the 6/6 to block. I think we were both kind of bricking off but I managed to play a couple more guys and I put an Ordeal of Thassa on one of them and an Ordeal of Purphoros on the other. I was tempted to put both ordeals on a single creature, in hopes of triggering them both on the second attack but that would have probably been too greedy. I eventually squeak through the last couple points of damage. (record: 2-1)

Round 4 vs Green: Was this mono-green? I can’t remember. I just remember him casting giant green creatures and crushing me. This felt similar to my one loss last weekend at the prerelease: just big, beefy green creatures that don’t give a fizzuck about what I’m trying to do. It was not particularly close. (record: 2-2)

Round 5 vs Black-Green: Crap, I am drawing a blank and my notes are no good. I forget exactly what this deck was, I might not even have the colors right. I think I remember getting a good Griptide and Voyage’s End on some of his enchanted guys for big tempo swings and I manage to take the match. (record: 3-2)

I limp into 8th place and get to draft.

Side note: I had drafted Theros once prior to this, I had a sweet-looking green-white deck featuring a Spear of Heliod and a Fleecemane Lion. I lost my first round to a hyper-aggro red-white Heroic deck. It was using pump spells and Heroic triggers to deal 7, 9, etc with each attack.

In game 3, I made a mistake by going turn 2, Fleecemane Lion, turn 3 Spear of Heliod. I should almost certainly have cast a Nessian Courser on turn 3 instead of the Spear. I think I was just geeked out like a small child go to “rare, rare, attack” with my draft deck. It didn’t pan out.

The extra creature would have become a 4/4 assuming I played the Spear of Heliod on my turn 4, and would have made a big difference. My point being, this red-white Heroic deck seems like it might be so explosive that even a minor misstep in the first couple of turns can be lights-out. I needed to put up resistance, and a Spear of Heliod cannot block.

Back to the top 8 draft: I P1P1 an Anax and Cymede but end up with kind of a pile. I’m getting multiple Lash of the Whip, for example, and go into black, but also want to play red-white. It’s a bit of a trainwreck, the mana is atrocious (I probably should have run the Unknown Shores).

Round 1 vs Blue-Red: Fleetfeather Sandals were key here. His deck was more controlling, so I was able to get lots of land in play. Then, in the later turns I had mana to cast a creature + equip. I had some durdly bigger creatures that became much more threatening when they strapped on the shoes. Game 3, I closed it out with a 10/10 flying Nighthowler. Rares are dumb.

Round 2 vs Blue-Green: Game 1 I had a good curve of creatures. He was light on early drops and I killed the blockers he was able to play. Game 2, I mulled to 6 and kept a one-lander with a few 2-drops. I was justly punished for it by not drawing a 2nd land and getting killed.

Game 3 I feel like I’m in a strong position for most of the game. However, I do make a pretty bad misplay that gave my opponent 2 or 3 more turns than I needed to give him. I had Anax and Cymede in play, plus a couple other guys, but opponent had some high-toughness stuff that would at the very least block my guys and possibly kill them if he had a trick. I cast a Cavern Lampad as a creature. I think I wanted to build up a swarm and try to trigger Heroic on Anax and Cymede to punch through. However, I definitely should have just bestowed the Cavern Lampad onto the Anax and Cymede, creating a 5-power guy with evasion. Whoops. I ended up having to chip in with the 2/2 Cavern Lampad like 5 times to take the match. Embarrassing, but I got away with it in the end.

Round 3 vs Red-White: Oh, good, the RW Heroic deck. He wins the die roll and runs me over in game 1. I win game 2 with a good curve. Game 3 I mulligan to 5 and lose. I can’t remember exactly what my opening 7 was, but it was lands and spells and I probably (maybe?) should have kept it… maybe? I threw it back because it had no early interaction and I felt like I wanted to be doing things on the first 2-3 turns against this deck.

First place got a sealed box of Modern Masters, and I got a sealed From the Vault: Twenty for 2nd place so that’s pretty cool.

Draft Magic Online

Rise of the Dark Lulz

My friends, I have partaken of much shitty durdling in the M14 draft format, but this?

This is my masterpiece.

M14 8-4, P1P1 I take a Nightmare because I am terrible, and end up with this ham sammich:

The draft portion is a haze, I wish I could recall more of the details. Maybe my subconscious is suppressing the memory. Happily, Magic Online retained replays of all 9 of my games so I was able to review them and take some screenshots.

Round 1 vs Blue-White: Opponent is doing the Dismiss into Dream + Zephyr Charge thing. He gets the combo online in R1G1 and locks me out. R1G2, he has the Dismiss into Dream and a Trading Post in play with 4 cards in hand, but he’s tapped out at 3 life with one blocker. I have exactsies by attacking with my two 2-power guys and then using Gnawing Zombie to sac the guy he blocks.


R1G3 I get him down to 8 and go all-in on a Blood Bairn when he doesn’t block it. He had 1 card in hand and open mana but I did not believe that it was anything. I sac all my other guys to the Blood Bairn and get away with it.


Round 2 vs Mono-Green: R2G1, I win after casting a relatively modest Rise of the Dark Realms for 4 creatures: my Banisher Priest & Blightcaster, and his Deadly Recluse & Groundshaker Sliver. I did try to orchestrate my blocks ahead of casting the 9-mana sorcery, gang-blocking his biggest guy so I could resurrect him on my side, as well as chumping with my Banisher Priest so I could reset it. This clogs up the ground and then I stick a couple of flying threats in Nightmare & Nightwing Shade.


R2G2, he beats me down handily.

R2G3 is the highlight of this draft; I’ll remember this one forever. I’m certain my opponent missed getting in some damage along the way but I definitely make those mistakes, too, so I am not criticizing this guy for it. It just goes to show that every point counts.

We reach a board state where I am at 2 life and have no cards in hand. Opponent has 3 cards in hand and the focal point of the board is his 9/9 trampling Woodborn Behemoth (it had a +1/+1 counter from a Hunt the Weak).

In the chat window, I tell him “ggs” because I believe it’s over, but I’m going to make him click the buttons to actually kill me. Might as well, right? I block his 9-power guy with my whole team, 12 points of toughness. He orders blockers to kill my Siege Mastodon and Dawnstrike Paladin, leaving me a Gnawing Zombie. I gain 2 life from the Dawnstrike Paladin so I go up to 4.


On my turn, I draw and play Wall of Swords and pass it back. On his turn, he casts Sporemound and plays a land, netting a 1/1 Saproling token. He attacks with Woodborn Behemoth and Predatory Sliver. I block the 9/9 trampler with my 3/5, and the 2/2 with my 1/3.

I have to sacrifice the Gnawing Zombie to itself, to gain 1 life up to 5, and then take 4 trample damage down to 1.


He passes the turn. I am at 1 life, no cards, 9 lands. He has 4 creatures that can attack. Draw step…




I cast Rise of the Dark Realms, returning 14 creatures to play, including a Banisher Priest that exiles his 9/9 trampler.

I’m just glad Hornet Sting isn’t in the format.


Round 3 vs Mono-Blue: R3G1, he wins by milling me out but he also dealt me about a million damage with an unchecked Phantom Warrior before I finally Pacifism’d it. I survived by sac’ing several guys to Gnawing Zombie. He’s got Millstone, Tome Scour, Archaeomancer, multiple Staff of the Mind Magus to buy time, and all the other great blue stuff: Sensory Deprivation, Claustrophobia, Time Ebb, Divination, Opportunity, counterspells, the whole kit & caboodle.

I do cast Rise of the Dark Realms when I’m at 1 card left in my deck, returning 12 creatures and representing a lethal alpha strike if I were to get another turn. Now, you could say it was bad to give him the information that I had the Rise in my deck when I was almost certainly going to die on my next draw step but I figured a.) there’s always an outside chance that he misclicks and doesn’t activate his Millstone for some reason, like maybe he has an epileptic seizure or something, and b.) casting Rise of the Dark Realms is sweet, of course I’m going to do it even if it’s pointless!


I sideboard up to a 50+ card deck with 23 lands. I’m tossing almost all of my black and white cards in there, just for mill fodder. R3G2 he is once again beating my face in with a Phantom Warrior and a Nephalia Seakite is riding shotgun.

There’s a critical turn where he seems to be in great shape, my flying blockers have been tapped by Frost Breath and he tries to Time Ebb my Gnawing Zombie. I have 1 card in hand, Rise of the Dark Realms. I use my open mana to sac dudes in response to the Time Ebb, gaining some life and filling my graveyard. I then cast the Rise on my turn, getting back Gnawing Zombie, Griffin Sentinel, Angelic Wall and Wall of Swords. Exciting, no? The flying walls shut down the Nephalia Seakite, at least.

Looking at my replay, I could have sac’d an additional guy in response to the Time Ebb (either Corpse Hauler or Undead Minotaur). I dunno what my thought process was, there; maybe I wanted Corpse Hauler + mana for some reason? Most likely just a misplay. Also, I don’t mean to say I “got” him super hard by sac’ing the guys specifically in response to the Time Ebb, because I would have had to do that anyway in another turn or two just to gain life and not die to his attack, but I did get to draw a fresh card instead of drawing the Gnawing Zombie.


A couple of turns later, I’m down to 1 life from the Phantom Warrior. He Essence Scatters both a Nightwing Shade and a Dawnstrike Paladin. On his end step, I use Corpse Hauler to gravedig the countered Dawnstrike Paladin.

I draw a Blightcaster but can only cast the Dawnstrike Paladin as I need to leave up mana to activate Gnawing Zombie at least twice in order to survive the next Phantom Warrior attack. I sac Angelic Wall and Wall of Swords to stay at 1 when he attacks.

Phantomania runs wild

On my turn, I cast the Blightcaster and I get to cancel out his Phantom Warrior by attacking with my lifelinking Dawnstrike Paladin. The Paladin has vigilance so he can keep running into Wall of Frost all day. He hits me down to 1 again, then I draw Angelic Accord. The Accord was really just anti-mill filler, I had few ways to trigger it repeatedly. At best I might get some incidental value as I sac’d a series of guys to Gnawing Zombie, or I might randomly have my one Mark of the Vampire on a guy. He Negates the Angelic Accord but I still get the Blightcaster trigger, which I point at the Phantom Warrior.

With his unblockable guy off the board, things turn around. I assemble a quasi-dragon in Griffin Sentinel + Blessing (yet more anti-mill filler) that finishes the game.


In R3G3 my age-old enemy, the clock, is breathing down my neck. Opponent starts the game with about 6 minutes on his side, and I have about 5. My opener has a couple of 2-power guys so I try to beat down. I also assemble Angelic Accord + Mark of the Vampire like a sack and produce a token. I get very lucky when he Time Ebbs my Wall of Swords, then mills it with Millstone. I draw an Altar’s Reap that could have been a crummy Wall of Swords. I cast the Altar’s Reap, sac’ing an Angelic Wall and drawing into a Gnawing Zombie.

I manage to get opponent down to 6 life and no cards in hand. My board is 5 creatures: 3 guys locked down with Claustrophobias, a Master of Diversion with -1 power due to Sensory Deprivation and a Gnawing Zombie.

He has one blocker, a Phantom Warrior. Even though he has negative power, Master of Diversion is a champ and attacks to tap the blocker so that Gnawing Zombie can get in for 1 damage. Then I am able to drain him out from 5 exactly by sacrificing my whole board to the Gnawing Zombie.


I only notice later, after opponent has left the match, that he said “sick games, ggs” in the chat window and I really feel badly that I didn’t respond. I would love to have told this guy, “wow, thanks, this was a crazy match, ggs” but at the time I just didn’t notice the chat window and I was very focused on executing all of these actions before my clock ran out. I would have been pretty butthurt if I misclicked this one away.


Peace out, G.