Last time on Battle Royale…
- 4 Spined Sliver
- 3 Bonesplitter Sliver
- 3 Firewake Sliver
- 4 Sedge Sliver
- 3 Spinneret Sliver
- 4 Two-Headed Sliver
Sharpen your fangs, it’s not the end! *
What’s this? A Pro Tour regular submitting a super tight aggro deck with a curve that uses a sexist metaphor? I wasn’t expecting that. I was expecting something a little more controllish. A mirror, perhaps.
Before the matchup, I did some testing, and it went all the way for Sanchez. The games reminded me of Hobbes’s definition of human existence in his seminal work of political philosophy, Leviathan. That is, brief, nasty, and short. The combination of nigh-unblockable slivers with Two-Headed Sliver and Spined Sliver works just as well as having a Winged Sliver in play. Mark of Eviction made the post-boarded games more palatable, breaking down to about 50/50. Going first seemed key.
Game 1 was pretty much determined by a die roll. Sanchez won and dialed up more cheap men than I could handle. With all pistons firing, Kyle’s three Spinneret Slivers and a Firewake Sliver came over and mashed me. A Gigadrowse tried to set him back, but that wasn’t enough. I had all the combo pieces (Brine Elemental, Momentary Blink, and Vesuvan Shapeshifter), and even ramped up my mana with Azorius Signets, but never had a window in which to get the combo together. Two-Headed Sliver and Stormbind made it all academic.
My standard sideboard swap involved taking out the Coral Trickster, a single Blink, both Compulsory Researches, and two Fathom Seers for three Marks of Eviction, two Spell Blasts, and the fourth Willbender.
Both Kyle and I mulliganed in game 2. I kept a hand with two Remands, two Islands, Calciform Pools, and Vesuvan Shapeshifter. I felt pretty awful with the hand, but a drawn Spell Burst made all the difference. Two Remanded Cryoclasm attempts later, I had stabilized my mana and started to develop my board. Cryoclasm at six mana feels a lot less threatening than Cryoclasm at two. I used Spell Blast and Mark of Eviction to keep Kyle from playing stuff, then used Gigadrowse to help me set up for the win.
(Thanks to a technical mishap, I lost the replays while trying to do my write-ups for the later games. So I can’t get much more into detail. Sorry.)
Game 3 was a little better for me, as Mark of Eviction tried to fend off the swarm, but I couldn’t get any card draw engines to get my lock on. Too many sharp things showed up and ran at me.
Game 4? I got the lock off fast and clean. That’s all I can recall.
Kyle’s hand in the fifth looked great but potentially sketchy. He nailed me with Spinneret Sliver and a pair of Cryoclasms. And then he didn’t make any more guys for a bit. I used Signets to keep my manabase up, and Gigadrowse helped me put up a long but futile struggle over four more turns as he kept drawing threats. I was one mana short of getting the combo off. If I had drawn one more land on my last turn, I would have had a chance to keep going.
2-3? So I lost. But I had a blast in the matchup. The games were tense and very close. If I had won the initial die roll with the same draw, and the post-sideboard games went the same way, I would’ve won. Shoulda, woulda, coulda. Who knows? I’m not bitter. Two wins is more than I had hoped. I had put myself at 6-1 odds, expecting only one game win. The games were closer than I had anticipated. And I’m sure Kyle was sweating bullets over which morphs I had in play.
The linchpin of the matchup is whether Sanchez’s sliver deck gets enough cheap guys and evasion. Sedge Sliver is just enough pump. Bonesplitter didn’t do the deck any favors in the matchup, because it didn’t fit at the top of the curve. Sanchez’s removal is so cheap, it’s ridiculous. Yes, he blew a lot of tickets on the snow lands, but I would testify that the investment was worth it.
The flip side of that linchpin is whether the Pickles player can piece together his combo in time. The deck is mana hungry, and the Signets were an absolute godsend. But there’s a hole in the mana build of the deck, one that BDM’s actual version filled. His build ran good two-drops like Boomerang and Mana Leak. Those guys would have been rather nice to pack. I also would have been better off having a Think Twice instead of a Compulsive Research, I wager. Don’t play my build. The only thing that isn’t budget about that version or Gavin Verhey version is the manabase. I’d try to find some room in there for an Azorius Signet, but that’s the only real change I’d want to make to their version deck in hindsight.
Ferrett, Craig, if you’re ever looking for a quick pinch hitter in future Battle Royales, PICK ME! PICK ME! Otherwise, I’ll slink back into the queue. Even if the ride was brief, it’s well worth the wait in admission. Best of luck to whoever’s next up to face Sanchez. (You’ll probably need it.) Thanks for reading.
japaneli at hotmail
Kitchen Sink Time!
As a quick bonus, here’s the deck I was planning to build for next week. No sideboard, though. This was my next plan to metagame the BR format. Mass removal is darned expensive in the format. But here’s a fairly thrifty deck that uses it well in combination with a combo that will warm the heart of any casual player.
4 Stuffy Doll
4 Savage Twister
4 Sulfurous Blast
4 Rumbling Slum
2 Rift Bolt
4 Search for Tomorrow
2 Penumbra Spider
4 Kird Ape
1 Skarrg, the Rage Pits
2 Fungal Reaches
Estimated cost: 17 tickets
Simple. Powerful. Build your own sideboard. Why should I get to have all the fun?
Looking at the results from Worlds, I was disappointed to see Ogura lose to Mihara in the finals. Damnit, I wanted to see that trophy this week at Friday Night Magic! I suppose Big Magic will be happy having the small trophy in the display case, but we’d rather have the big one. With my Magic country keeping the World Championship safe, I suppose I can’t complain.
Morikatsu is an extremely capable player when he’s on his hot streaks, but when he’s cold, he loses a lot more than a Kai or a Bob, or even a Nassif. I think the five days eventually managed to break him down in the last day. Even so, with such a fine run at Worlds, I doubt he’ll be cool for long.
I am extremely happy that BDM and Randy Buehler namedropped me three times during the video stream, but I’d be happier sitting at the table with laptop at the ready on camera, as I was last year. Maybe I’ll get the chance to run with the ball at Yokohama in the spring.
* This comes from the pre-fight schtick for Street Fight Zero Three. Why would they tell you it’s not the end before the match even begins? Silly Capcom.
** I’ve been using Asian style emoticons for almost a decade now. Why? I’m not really sure. Perhaps they sprung into my mind unbidden, a random psychic thought from the ether. Also, I wanted to get a visual gag in. The asterisk could be a minor stress mark.
I’d also like to apologize for repeatedly mistaking Tiago Chan for someone else at the SCG Karaoke party at Kobe. That guilt’s been eating away at me for months, and I want to get it off my chest. I may have parlayed some of that guilt into a little karmic boost for Chan this last weekend, but that may be idle speculation.
Five albums used in the making of my Battle Royale experience:
Thievery Corporation – The Cosmic Game
Jamie Myerson – The Listen Project
Yasunori Mitsuda – Chrono Cross soundtrack
Ken Ishii – X-Mix: Fast Forward and Rewind
Various Artists – Nightmares from Rotterdam
Not my Top 5 albums of all time by any means, but they’re all very distinct in their niche and stand the test of multiple listenings.
I’d write more, but I’ve got to do some Hannukah shopping. I found a place that has 4XL tabi (toed socks) and geta (wooden sandals). They had to be special ordered from the Osaka office. Time to go pick up the goods.