Dracoti FNM: January 2nd 2015
Coverage by: Amoret Van Rooyen
The format was Standard for Dracoti’s first tournament of the year, with a modest turnout of die-hard mages excited to end the festive season slinging spells.
Round 1:Clintin Riddell vs Scott Field
Our first featured match is a classic showdown; Abzan midrange has loomed large over this Standard format since its inception, while Red-Green Monsters has an even older pedigree, being a survivor from the last season. Both players were looking to make a good start to the tournament, and it remained to be seen if the robust answers of Clintin’s Abzan could hold off the raw power of Scott’s Monsters.
Clintin won the roll and elected to play. Both players were happy with their 7 cards and Clintin led off with a Thoughtseize, robbing Scott of his Xenagos, the Reveler. Clintin stuck to his deck’s plan of exchanging resources as the game stretched into the mid-game, using an Abzan Charm to exile Scott’s Sarkhan the Dragonspeaker. However, Clintin was out of answers and even multi-format all-stars Courser of Kruphix and Siege Rhino couldn’t hold off a monstrous Polukranos on the ground and an Ashcloud Phoenix in the air. Counting the damage heading his way, Clintin conceded the game and reached for his sideboard. Clintin brought in a late-game trump in Duneblast, along with two copies of Heir of the Wilds to put up resistance on the ground.
Scott made only cosmetic changes, switching out a Genesis Hydra and Stoke the Flames for two Lightning Strikes.
Once again there were no mulligans, and a pair of Thoughtseizes robbed Scott of a Sylvan Caryatid and a Polukranos. Monstrous aggression thus forestalled, Clintin took this opportunity to build a formidable board presence with Heir of the Wilds and Sorin, Solemn Visitor. Scott mustered a Courser of Kruphix but wasn’t willing to trade it with Clintin’s Heir of the Wilds. Clintin soon took that decision out of his hands, calling on Abzan’s extensive suite of removal to get rid of the pesky centaur. Scott responded with a Polukranos but couldn’t stop Sorin from reaching his ultimate. To add insult to injury, Clintin played a Siege Rhino and Scott packed it in, pinning his hopes on a decisive third game, with him playing first.
The opening of the deciding game was much less one-sided. Free from hand disruption, Scott dropped an Elvish Mystic and then a Courser of Kruphix. Clintin summoned both Heir of the Wilds and Fleecemane Lion, leaving both players with a fairly strong board position. Scott attacked with a monstrous Polukranos and an ill-considered gang block from Clintin ended with the death of the Heir, the lion and the hydra. (Editor’s note: “Dammit Lion I don’t need your help! I have deathtouch!) This exchange left Scott with an Elvish Mystic and a Courser, while Clintin was left with an empty board. Both players used the next few turns to build up a stronger board presence. Clintin’s Siege Rhino padded his life total but was otherwise left twiddling its hooves in the face of Scott’s Hornet Queen. When Scott followed up with another Polukranos, the game looked all but over until a backbreaking Duneblast from Clintin left Siege Rhino alone on the board. Scott tried a Stormbreath Dragon, but with Hero’s Downfall to take care of it, the writing was on the wall. Clintin took the game 2-1, and moved to 1-0 in the tournament.
Round 2: Enrico Guarneri vs Andre
The second round featured another sighting of Abzan Midrange, a deck that has been a fixture at the top tables since Siege Rhino was printed. The format’s top deck was in the hands of Enrico Guarneri, something of a fixture himself. His opponent Andre would be trying to go over the top with the combo of Villainous Wealth and Dictate of Karametra to supply excessive mana.
Andre kept his opening hand, while Enrico mulliganed to six. The game was off to a slow start, the first action coming when a turn 2 Despise from Andre forced Enrico to discard Sorin, Solemn Visitor. Enrico struck back with discard of his own, playing a turn 3 Thoughtseize and taking Andre’s Dig Through Time. Enrico made the next move with the ubiquitous Siege Rhino, but it didn’t last long as Andre pointed a Murderous Cut at it. Enrico replaced it a turn later, but Andre replied with Nissa, Worldwaker, animating one of his fetchlands. On his turn, Enrico didn’t hesitate to send his Rhino at Nissa. Andre chump blocked with his animated land, but Nissa still found her way to the graveyard when Enrico flashed a Hero’s Downfall. Andre was rapidly falling behind in this first game, and after using another Despise to remove Enrico’s Elspeth, he dug for answers with the aptly-named Dig Through Time. He couldn’t find any answers to the herd of Rhinos and it wasn’t long until Enrico got through for lethal damage with a timely pump from Abzan Charm.
Both players reached for their sideboards and prepared for the long game, with Enrico bringing in more planeswalkers and Read the Bones while Andre aimed to go big with two Hornet Queens and Garruk, Apex Predator.
This game also started with Andre keeping his opening hand while Enrico mulliganed to six. Both players just made land-drops for the first three turns, with Enrico’s turn 4 Courser of Kruphix the first play of the game. Andre then followed with Kiora, the Crashing Wave and used her plus 1 ability to protect her from the Courser. Enrico followed with another Courser, and soon took Kiora down to 2 loyalty. Andre tried to dig for a reply with Kiora’s second ability but he couldn’t find an answer, and Kiora died to the next swing from the Coursers. Enrico followed up with Elspeth and the writing was on the wall when Andre could only manage a Sylvan Caryatid and saw it die to a Courser pumped by Abzan charm. Another Kiora couldn’t bring Andre back into the game, and he soon picked up his cards, leaving Enrico with a 2-0 record.
Round 3: Andrew Wright vs. Scott Field
This round saw the re-appearance of Scott and his Red-Green Monster deck from round 1 as well as the first true aggro deck of the night. This particular deck is in the Temur colours and is a fairly straightforward aggro build, piloted by Andrew Wright.
Scott managed to get his ramp strategy started early. Andrew, on the other hand, had no mana acceleration but he did have Boon Satyr and a Savage Knuckleblade to follow up with. When Andrew attacked with both the Satyr and the Knuckleblade, Scott preserved some of his life total by trading a Courser of Kruphix for the Satyr. The reason for this decision soon became obvious when he played a replacement Courser on his next turn. Andrew continued to play aggressively, with Goblin Rabblemaster and its cohorts applying heavy pressure to Scott’s life total. A series of counter spells from Andrew stymied Scott’s attempts to stabilise with planeswalkers. Scott finally managed to stabilize the board did with a Hornet Queen, along with another planeswalker and a Stormbreath Dragon but it was not to be, as a Crater’s Claws took care of the remainder of his life total.
Scott decided to bring in Magma Spray, Stoke the Flames and Lightning Strike in order to better deal with Andrew’s aggressive creatures. Andrew made wholesale changes to his deck, bringing in Anger of the Gods, two Hornet Nests, Negate, Disdainful Stroke, 2 Chandra, Pyromasters and 2 Destructive Revelry.
The opening turns of game 2 saw Scott ramping into a Stormbreath Dragon while Andrew applied pressure with Heir of the Wilds and Hornet Nest. Andrew then played Chandra, Pyromaster and utilised its plus 1 ability to ping his own Hornet Nest, providing him with a steady stream of flying deathtouch blockers. Scott used his cheap burns spells to deal with the tokens and continued to strengthen his board presence with a Sylvan Caryatid and a Hornet Queen. At this point Andrew seemed to lose traction and he cast Crater’s Claws on his Hornet Nest to produce 5 tokens. This proved insufficient and eventually Scott had an insurmountable board presence to which Andrew conceded.
This game was even slower than game 2 and ran into time. Scott got started with his game plan early again but Andrew disrupted his ramp with Anger of the Gods and managed to delay the appearance of a large threat. Andrew then started applying pressure again with Heir of the Wilds but Scott fought back with Sarkhan the Dragonspeaker. After Scott’s attempt at playing Crater’s Claws was countered with a Stubborn Denial, time was declared. At this point Scott had Sarkhan on the board with low loyalty counters and Andrew had a Boon Satyr and Heir of the Wilds. Although Andrew killed Sarkhan in combat during turn 1 of time, Scott simply played another one. At this point in the game Andrew was on 6 life and Scott played two Lightning Strikes during turn 4 of time, bringing Andrews life total to zero and winning the game and the match. This left Andrew on 1-2 and Scott on 2-1 for the tournament.
Round 4: Clintin Riddell vs. Enrico Guarneri
With these two players leading the standings, the tournament was on the line in this Abzan mirror-match match. Conventional wisdom dictates that midrange mirrors are slugfests that hinge on grinding out value, but they sometimes reward creative lines of play that seize the initiative.
Enrico, plagued all night by a shortage of lands, looked surprised to keep his opening 7 cards. He wouldn’t get to keep all of them, however, as Clintin opened proceedings with a Thoughtseize, costing Enrico a Courser of Kruphix.
This was followed by an Elvish Mystic and another Thoughtsieze from Clintin, removing a Siege Rhino from Enrico’s hand. This further reduced the number of options available to Enrico. As a consequence, Enrico was unable to cast anything for the first few turns. Clintin moved to take advantage of this by casting Anafenza the Foremost but Enrico managed to exile it with Abzan Charm and finally managed to resolve a Siege Rhino. Yet another Thoughtseize was cast by Clintin, with him choosing to make Enrico discard his third Siege Rhino (Editor’s note: and here I thought those things were endangered). Enrico’s Siege Rhino did not last long against Clintin’s removal and Clintin played his own. The wholesale rhino slaughter continued with Enrico removing Clintin’s Rhino but Clintin simply continued to strengthen his board presence with Ajani, Mentor of Heroes and Sylvan Caryatid. Enrico managed to cast some creatures and played a Duneblast which removed Clintin’s Elvish Mustic that he had buffed with counters from his planeswalkers. However, Clintin’s planeswalkers were too much for Enrico to deal with eventually and Enrico chose to concede.
Things were back to normal for Enrico as he mulliganed to 6 while Clintin kept his 7. The match was very close as is expected in the mirror matchup. Clintin took the lead with a Siege Rhino and Sorin. Enrico managed to stabilise owing to a well-timed Duneblast, after which Clintin was mana flooded and unable to draw a threat. Enrico took control with with his own Sorin and an Elspeth which were used to produce tokens and solidify his board position. Enrico was able to close out the game as Clintin was only able to draw an answer when it was too late.
Owing to the length of the two previous games, game 3 went into time. The game ended up being so short that nothing of real significance happened. Both players cast big creatures and planeswalkers that were removed by the other and their life totals basically stayed equal throughout the game. Enrico played the final turn of overtime, but was just unable to close out the match and it ended in a draw. Either player could have won the tournament, but the draw hurt both of them, landing them in 3rd and 4th spot.with Scott Field in 2nd place and David Reineke ending up as the winner.
Scott Field took 2nd place and David Reinecke took the tournament win without ever sitting at the feature table! He was playing the deck sometimes called ‘Jeskai Fireworks’ which has been a staple in the format since the first few weeks Khans of Tarkir was legal.
JESKAI FIREWORKS (60)
2 x Ashcloud Phoenix
4 x Goblin Rabblemaster
3 x Seeker of the Way
2 x Hushwing Gryff
2 x Brimazx, King of Oreskos
4 x Mantis Rider
3 x Magma Jet
3 x Stoke the Flames
4 x Lightning Strike
2 x Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker
1 x Dig Through Time
1 x Banishing Light
1 x Gods Willing
4 x Jeskai Charm
2 x Island
2 x Plains
4 x Temple of Triumph
3 x Battlefield Forge
4 x Temple of Epiphany
3 x Shivan Reef
2 x Flooded Strand
4 x Mystic Monastery
3 x Disdainful Stroke
2 x Magma Spray
2 x Anger of the Gods
2 x End Hostilities
3 x Suspension Field
2 x Erase
1 x Narset, Enlightened Master