Battle Royale Round 3: The Ring of Fire

StarCityGames.com - Battle Royale!

Sadly for Ben, he was unable to channel the spirit of Dan Paskins, and his Mono-Red Burn deck faltered at the fifth. Just where did it all go wrong? Has Mr Paskins been lying to us all these years? Is Red actually rubbish? Ben reveals each victory and failure with his usual humorous flair…

The Strokes – The Modern Age

Sometimes it’s best to go with the classics, or neo-classics in this case. The Strokes’ first album is one of the better straight-up rock albums of the 90s and I’d recommend it to people who like, uh, guitars.

The Battle Royale, a noble competition designed to pit the public figures of this fine website, has taken place once more, and it has claimed another victim in a grand and sweeping fashion. Even though most of you will probably either skip down to the end or just read Talen’s article to avoid my long-winded babbling. But for those of you willing to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous verbiage, I will maintain suspense and keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.

Talen Lee was my opponent for this bout – let me tell you about him. Born in the wilderness of Australia, he was known as a “wild child,” one raised by animals and so animalistic he could barely be considered human. Dingoes (a.k.a. Wild Dogs) nursed him to health and taught him the ways of their culture, and soon he had proven himself as a useful and able member of their clan. He had hunted and gathered for years and was strongly considering taking a mate, as a comely lass was in heat… when the unthinkable happened.

He met humans.

Seeing them for the first time, Talen immediately recognized their forms as similar to his own, and his primal brain began to realize that he did not belong. The people came closer, and once they saw this young boy, they tried to approach him and bring him back to civilization. He was scared at first – frightened by these mysterious creatures – but slowly he lifted his arms off the ground, lifting his head and torso slowly but surely, until he stood straight on his own two legs. With his triumphant conquest of his beastly youth, he soon learned to clothe himself, speak coherently, and join normal society. It was truly an honor to play against this testament to human endurance and intelligence, and I for one feel blessed to get a chance to engage him in a battle of wits.

The games took place last Friday, and the final record and analysis will only be given at the end so you can truly relive the experience of nail-biting apprehension. The replays are included here, and Pugg Fuggly magnificent article on the subject is here.

Game 1
I start with a Frostling and a Gruul Guildmage while he just lays a Dimir Signet. Hideous Laughter makes me unhappy a turn later, but I do get to hit him for two with the ability. Zo-Zu comes down but gets Gasped, and at this point my hand is a Mountain and a Volcanic Hammer… and he’s at 12. At this point I’ve drawn six Mountains, and my draw step yields another. He Clutches a Mountain at end of turn, and I untap and fire in a Genju – but it gets Clutched as well. Skeletal Vampire comes down and it’s really not looking good for me, with him at nine and me at 14. Flames of the Blood Hand comes off the top, and he untaps and lays a Moroii, giving me an out of a four-point burn spell. And the draw is… a Mountain.

0-1. For boarding, three Frostlings and a Shock come out, and four Hearth Kamis come in for the added beats and the destruction of Signets.

Game 2
I mulligan down to six and keep a hand of Mountain, Mountain, Genju of the Spires, Shock, Lava Spike, Flames of the Blood Hand. It looks like we did it, folks. Turn 2 I send a Spike to the face (which should’ve been a Shock, I’m pretty sure, to give me the possibility of drawing Glacial Ray… which I do next turn). Shock goes to the dome at end of turn, and I untap and fire in Genju, which gets Last Gasped. Genju comes down while he’s tapped out from a Signet and a bounceland, and then he untaps and Clutches me. I draw a Gruul Guildmage off the top… and then he Nightmare Voids my hand of Char, Flames, Ray, taking the Char. I bash for two, and then he dredges and Voids me. I try to Flames him but he Remands and takes it. Bash for two, draw a Mountain. He dredges and Voids again, and I ray his face. I draw another Ray and it kills my own Gruul Guildmage when he sends a kicked Ribbons of Night at it. I draw… Mountain. He does nothing. I draw… Mountain. He does nothing. I draw… Mountain. He does nothing. I draw a Shock and he plays a Moroii at seven life while I’m on seventeen. I draw… Mountain. He bashes for four, and then I draw… Mountain. He bashes for another four, and I draw… Mountain. He bashes me down to three, and then Clutch of the Undercity fires away, killing me.

0-2. Now, as you can imagine, I’m a little upset about drawing Mountain Ray Mountain Mountain Mountain Shock Mountain Mountain Mountain. But Magic happens, etc, etc.

Game 3
We’re both stupid enough to forget to resideboard and have me go first this game, but we decided not to do it over again because we’re lazy. So be it.

I start with three Mountains, Genju, Spike, Ray, Shock. The top of my deck yields a Mountain and then a Gruul Guildmage, and I run it out there turn 2 to face his Signet. He then Clutches my Mountain, killing Genju. I draw a Mountain followed by a Char, and on turn 4 I Spike/Ray his face. The following turn yields a Zo-Zu off the top, met by a Gasp, and then he follows it up with a Moroii. I Spike/Ray him again and then fire the Ray at his face, leaving him at four when his turn comes around. I draw a Char and he Hinders it, going to three on upkeep. I draw a Gruul Guildmage and he Hinders it as well. He untaps, goes to one, and then casts Ribbons on it to go to five. My draw? Genju. Eat six, fatso!*

1-2. Finally I claim a victory. I sideboard the same way.

Game 4
I mulligan again, this time to two Mountains, two Volcanic Hammers, Glacial Ray, and Gruul Guildmage. I draw a Guildmage followed by a Ray, and I lay down the Guildmage turn 2 to face his Signet. He only has another Signet, and I draw a Mountain and fire a Hammer at his face. I draw another Guildmage and elect to attack and Hammer once more, to keep Hideous Laughter from being effective. He Consults the Necrosages and I pitch the Guildmages, keeping two Glacial Rays, as he’s only at ten. He Gasps my Guildmage during the attack, and I double Ray him. We both do nothing, and my draws are Mountain, Flames of the Blood Hand. I Ray him at end of turn and he Hinders, so I run Flames out there… and he Hinders. Zo-Zu comes down, and even though Talen has eight mana in play, he plays a land, giving me a few outs. He Clutches Zo-Zu, and he gets Remanded when I play him again. I draw another Zo-Zu and play out one of them, and he Remands it once more. Nightmare Void gives him one of my legendary goblins, but the other one comes down. He Laughters it away, and at this point I draw three Mountains in a row again. He Voids away the third one, and I draw another, followed by a Lava Spike, as he continues to do nothing. I draw a Char and decide to try and kill him. Lava Spike goes first as a test spell, and when he uses his third Hinder on it, I decide the way is clear for Char to the face. I was not wrong.

2-2. Time to go to the last game and see who will be the champion and move on to face writers of all varieties.

Game 5
We both mull to six and I keep four Mountains, Guildmage, Hammer. I draw Flames on turn 1, Hearth Kami on turn 2 (which hits play), and then I get Consulted, which hits two Mountains. Shock comes off the top and I Hammer his face. I draw a Mountain, Hearth Kami gets Gasped, and Guildmage gets Remanded. He draws some cards, I Shock him, and Guildmage gets Gasped once more. My hand is Flames and Char, and he’s at thirteen. He misses his land drop and then Clutches me at end of turn, to which I respond with a Char. He then Clutches me mainphase, setting me back to one land. I draw Glacial Ray and he Clutches me for a third time, which prompts me to Ray him. He does nothing, I draw a Mountain and say go, he lays Skeletal Vampire, and I lay a Mountain.

This is the point where I make a colossal error.

He’s tapped out from the Vampire and I decide my best chance is to bring him to three, as I’m dead in two turns thanks to triple Clutch. So I mainphase Flames him. Can anyone tell me why this is blatantly incorrect? That’s right – it gives him an out of Ribbons of Night. Guess what he plays next turn?

I untap, draw a Hearth Kami, and concede. He showed me his hand afterwards and it had two Hinders in it, meaning I was done for anyway, but I still made the mistake and it still cost me the game and the match.

His outs were:

Hinder + Hinder
Hinder + Remand
Remand + Remand

And I decided to give him another out – Ribbons. I paid for it.

So what happened the other games? The biggest thing I can point to games one and two is manaflood – as you can see, I drew eight mountains game 1 and eleven game 2. Did I misplay those games? Game 1 I did not. Game 2 I did make one misplay with the Lava Spike versus Shock, which would have made a difference if I drew more lands early and less late, and if he had not the plays of Clutch into Nightmare Void like he did. The way the game played out proved it to not matter, but the most important thing to realize with your mistakes is that the ends do not justify the means – a mistake is a mistake, period. If the game does not reflect that, you got lucky, and the most important thing to do is identify when a play is one that will win you the game but is not the correct play. Games 3 and 4 also did not really showcase any errors or bad judgment calls, in my opinion, though if anyone runs across anything they disagree with, let me know – but the error in game 5 makes up for it.

What do I think of the matchup at this point? I think it’s worse than I expected, as he has a lot of card advantage where I have basically none if he Clutches or counters my Genju. His counters are fairly good against me, and his clock is surprisingly fast considering that I probably deal myself about four damage a game. Skeletal Vampire in particular is very bad for me. I was also surprised at the efficiency of Nightmare Void, as in game 2 it effectively saved him eight points of damage – the Char and the first Ray that would’ve been spliced on to the one I drew. The Clutches and counters were both key when drawn en masse, as I couldn’t really break through the wall of counters unless I draw a couple of burn spells in a row. I still think I had a minor advantage, but after reviewing all that happened, I can’t say that it was as crazy good as I thought.

So what now? Talen goes on to fight and I go to sulk in the corner, crying myself to sleep with the lights out. Either that or I’ll watch his next battle and gleefully engage in endless heckling.

I’m done for now, though. I’ll see all of you around – as usual, please leave any sort of communication whatsoever on the forums. I’ll be on them with frightening frequency.

Ben Goodman
RidiculousHat just about everywhere

*Oh man. This was found by one psamms on the comments section of a random website on Pyroclasm

The “how to” card in RDW in T1.5… think about it

turn 1: Mountain, Skirk Prospector
turn 2: Mountain, kill Prospector tap land pyroclasm bolt or shock anything they play at end of turn.
turn 3: mountain BALL LIGHTNING eat six fatso
turn 4: this game’s already over.

We decided that it was the most hilarious thing that has ever happened.