Battle Royale Round 5 – A Small Victory

StarCityGames.com - Battle Royale!

So I beat Talen… big deal. To be honest, there was no winner here. Mana issues can cripple the mightiest fighter. Still, the deck performed well enough… wanna see how?

I turned up thirty minutes late.

Yeah, I know. In a real tournament, that’d merit a warning at the very least. More likely a match

loss. Thing was, I knew I may be a little late before time… and asked Talen to placate the baying crowds if I

failed to show bang on the money.

So, why was I late? Well, I’d love to tell you I had some unassailable reason — I was transporting a

kidney to a much-needed transplant in another city perhaps, or I was an important envoy on a U.N peace mission. Sadly, it

was nothing so worthy.

But if you’ve not seen it, Pixar’s Cars is fantastic.

Thirty minutes late, and Talen was gracious when I finally showed my slipshod face. He’d been mugging like a

pro, entertaining the waiting audience with finger puppets, striptease, and mesmerism*.

“Made it, I see.”

“Yeah,” I replied. “Damn MTGO updates.” I think he bought it.

(Seriously, go see Cars. It’s brilliant.)

I took a brief look over my decklist, and pondered my sideboarding options. Talen’s deck was a removal

nightmare. If I’d known, I may have splashed out for some Privileged Positions.

A few clicks, a swift hello to those bored enough to wait for my arrival, and we were off!

For reference, here’s my deck:

And here’s Talen’s:

Game 1

I won the roll. Talen mulliganed to six. Remember that phrase, you’ll be hearing it a lot.

Lands and stuff were laid, and Talen made a turn 2 Dimir Signet. I was happy — an early Rakdos Guildmage can

give my deck fits.

Scouseboy: No Guildmage?
Talen Lee: Why play him on turn 2?
Scouseboy: Because I can’t deal with him?
Talen Lee: I’m trying this ‘lulling’ thing.

I made a Guildmage of my own before Phyrexian Arena came down. I replied with a Hierarch. Yukora stopped me in my

tracks, before my Indrik Stomphowler took out the card advantage machine.

Scouseboy: I have many fat men.
Talen Lee: Your private life is your business, boss.

Glare came down somewhere, and the Guildmage helped me slap in with my Baloth-sized troops. A Hellhole Rats caused

some irritation by nabbing my Serra Angel for a meaty five, but the Glare was proving key. Guildmage made some tappers,

and I kept swinging until Talen conceded.


Well, that felt easy enough. We both made things, and Talen seemed a little removal-light… and the Glare of

Subdual, untouchable both pre- and post-sideboard, proved key.

Unfortunately, that was the best game of the set.

Sideboarding saw me tweak as follows:

-1 Tolsimir Wolfblood
-1 Serra Angel
-2 Kami of Ancient Law
-2 Wood Elves
-1 Indrik Stomphowler
-1 Glare of Subdual

+4 Blessed Breath
+4 Faith’s Fetters

Seven guys out, no guys in… that can’t be good.

Game 2

Talen mulliganed to six. Then he mulliganed to five. I kept.

I made an early man. Talen made land.

I smashed in with my early man, and made another. Talen made land.

I kept swinging. Talen kept making land.

Removal? Feh.


Game 3

Talen mulliganed to six. I mulliganed to three.

My hand? Plains, Forest, Watchwolf. Can’t say fairer than that.

Talen, on the play, made the predictable Signet on turn 2. I followed with my Dirty Dog, which fell to a Wrecking

Ball. Another Wrecking Ball took out my Plains, and things were grim.

Then down came Mr. Rakdos.

Talen made Goblins, while I struggled for mana. I eventually found some, and proceeded to drop three more Watchwolves

on consecutive turns. The first fell to a Last Gasp. The second and third were on chump detail, and fell to Rakdos

trickery. When all I could muster was a Wood Elves (and there’s no shiver when one flops out on turn 12), I scooped

‘em up.


You can’t win from three. Well, you

almost can, but not seriously.

Game 4

Talen mulliganed to six. I kept.

The first play from me saw a Wood Elves fetch me a Forest. The next turn, Talen killed it with a Volcanic Hammer.

That can’t be right, surely? I’ll take that trade every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

My turn 4 Hierarch was targeted by a Wrecking Ball, but I had the counterspell. One White, Blessed Breath. He hit in

for four before being Blazed from the game.

Talen made a Rakdos Guildmage, and an infinite amount of land. Happily, he chose to swing with his one-man army, and

my Condemn sent him home faster than you could blink. I made an Indrik Stomphowler, destroying nothing, in order to

continue the beats.

Attack for four? Take.

Attack for four? Take.

Attack for four? Take.

And suddenly, that was that.


Flawed Paradigm: Can we vote on a rematch?

It was an ignoble exit, all told. Talen, two-time champion, Battle Royale’s first superstar, losing to a

non-match full of mulligans and manascrew. I mean, sure, he took one… but a win against a mulligan to

three proves nothing.

And my victories? Hollow.

I wanted to smash. I wanted to beguile. I wanted to impress. What did I do? I turned up

late, and won a match through luck and nothing more. Yes, I’d’ve taken that in Nationals, and I’ll take

it in Worlds (yes, I’m still harping on about that!), but in the Battle Royale? I wanted to win,

but in a 3-2 thriller with spills and gasps galore.

Mana problems suck.

And my deck? On reflection, it needed a little work. Let’s see where…

Mana Men

First, there’s the choice I made to run Llanowar Elves and Wood Elves over the more sturdy Sakura-Tribe Elder

and Civic Wayfinder. The thing is, even though people may disagree here, I stand by my choice here. Let’s

see… Elder is wonderful, that’s for sure. He accelerates and chumps, which is all you need. But Wayfinder?

Okay, so he’s not bound by fetching a Forest… but he’s not an accelerant. I love the turn 3 Wood Elves,

turn 4 Hierarch with Blessed Breath backup. Yes, the Wayfinder has more offensive potential… but that’s what

the Watchwolves are for.

If I were to splash a third color in the deck — for Black, perhaps, supplying some decent removal — then

I’d probably go for Sakura-Tribe Elder and Civic Wayfinder. Or better yet, Sakura-Tribe Elder and

Kodama’s Reach. A 2/2 body is for wusses.


Four was too many. Three would’ve done, or even two at a pinch. Not because they aren’t great, but

because I need more Plains.

The Big Lads

Serra and Tolsimir? Unnecessary. In the building, I was looking for some replacements for Kodama of the North Tree

and Yosei, the Morning Star. Yes, I know they’re pale imitations, but the thought was there. I feel that

the deck could benefit from either a little more removal, or a more consistent early game. Maybe two Faith’s

Fetters, or another pair of Kami of Ancient Law. Or even a Nikko-Onna and a Viridian Shaman.

On reflection, I think the Fetters would be better. Or Seed Spark! Oooh!

Let’s face it, I haven’t a clue.

Here’s what I’d run if I were playing again tomorrow:

After all that, what have we learnt?

On reflection, not much. G/W can beat mana issues, and Sakura-Tribe Elder is still up there with the best cards in

Standard. Black/Red has difficulty dealing with enchantments, and you can’t win against creatures if you

don’t draw removal. You can’t win from three cards, but you can draw four Watchwolves and make it pretty


We’ve also learnt that I’m a very lucky player… but my friends in Team Leeds would’ve told

you that without prompting.

While I’d like to “pull a Talen” (easy, tiger) and run a deck with Hierarch for the next challenge

(as Talen did so well with Skeletal Vampire), I’ll probably shelve the hungry Heffalump and chose another

semi-precious rare to build a deck around. Dark Confidant, maybe. Or Char. Or I might go old-school and dust off some of

the forgotten gems from Kamigawa. I suppose I should fire up my Romeo and see what they are.

And of course, Coldsnap enters the Standard fray for the next round of Battle Royale. Of course, whether I’ll

include any Wintry goodness remains to be seen. Getting hold of sufficient snow mana may prove a pain, and let’s

face it, I don’t relish paying release-week prices. Ohran Viper for thirty tickets, a pound of flesh, a signed

photo of Mick Jagger, and the eternal soul of my first-born son? Too rich for my blood, I’m afraid.

Cheers for the games, Talen. It’s a pity they weren’t more memorable. Still, if you’re feeling down

about the whole thing, I’ve a tip for you…

Go see Cars. It’s ace.

Until next week,

Thanks for listening.

Craig Stevenson
Mail us at https://sales.starcitygames.com/contactus/contactform.php?emailid=2
Scouseboy on MTGO

*Rumors that Talen’s striptease was indistinguishable from the finger puppetry are wholly unfounded.